I Am the New Optimus, Marduk! The Champion of Champions!
It's summertime yet again, and with Clerks 2, Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest all vying for a chunk of your cinematic budget, my loyal readers are no doubt looking to me for advice on what to see.
Or at least, that's the premise I'm going to operate under for the rest of the night. Deal with it, homies.
Anyway, I've done the research and come up with a solution for the budget-minded cineaste, and it is this:
If you see one movie in your lifetime, it should be..
Brought to my attention by D&D Ben, who enjoyed this chunk of cinematic awesomeness during his misspent youth, 1981's Kill and Kill Again, which doesn't even bother with things like menu screens and separate chapters, is the phenomenally over-the-top sequel to Kill Or Be Killed. That one, I haven't seen, but I assume that it's equally rad, especially considering that the plot involves a Nazi war criminal organizing a martial arts tournament for purposes of revenge.
Reprising his role in the sequel is martial artist James Ryan, who busts onto the scene as Steve Chase: Badass. And I know he's a badass because in the first scene of the movie, he's interrupted on his way to accept the Martial Arts Confederation Award (which, oddly enough, is given out by a bunch of stuffy, mustachioed old white men in tweed jackets) by some urgent ass-kicking that needs to be done in a nearby casino. And not only does he awkwardly kick the hell out of a couple of thugs while wearing a tuxedo, he wins on the slot machine at the same time. Total badass.
Anyway, Chase makes short work of the thugs, front-flipping over one and smacking him in the head with a trashcan, and...
...Jump kicking the second one so hard that six people fall into the pool.
Immediately thereafter, he accepts his trophy for Outstanding Awesomeness and retires to the hotel room of the girl he saved from the thugs, Kandy Kane. I'll let that one pass without comment. Anyway, it turns out that they were actually her thugs, and the big ruckus was just a test to see if he was tough enough to go on a mission on her behalf. And this is where it gets completely ludicrous:
Kandy's father, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Horatio Kane, has been kidnapped, along with his formula for a revolutionary new fuel made of potatoes that is so efficient that--and I quote--"a single year's crop will provide enough gasoline to drive every car in the world to the Moon." And that's not all: Super Potato Gas is also a potent mind-control drug! Clearly, this cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
Except that it already has.
Said wrong hands in this case belong to this guy:
Yes, Marduk, alias billionaire Wellington Forsythe III, who used his vast personal fortune to take over the small town of Ironville, rechristening it as New Babylonia and ruling through a carefully balanced combination of karate, matching t-shirts, and Potato Gasoline Mind Control Drugs.
And yes: He is played by Little Ricky from I Love Lucy. I told you it was awesome.
Rounding out the side of Evil is Marduk's henchwench Minerva, who continually refers to him by diminuitive nicknames like "honeysuckle"--which Marduk continually begs her not to do, thus begging the question as to why he doesn't have her dragged behind the Potato Gasoline Mind Control Drug Factory and killed--and is apparently played by Zarana from GI Joe.
Marduk also has at his disposal, of course, an allegedly unbeatable warrior culled from the ranks of his elite soldiers known only as... The Optimus. He wears tiny, tiny white shorts and kicks people in the chest, and that's about all he does.
Obviously, this is going to be more than one man--even Steve Chase--can possibly handle alone, and so he reassembles his old team in a sequence that'll be remarkably familiar to those of you who were here when I did my review of Chuck Norris's Justice Riders:
First up is hulking strongman Gorilla, a Jamaican professional wrestler who was banned from the ring due to the somewhat odd quirk of eating his opponent's ear after every victory. Surprisngly, he doesn't do this once in the entire movie, which is pretty disappointing. I mean, you can't just promise cannibalistic violence and then not deliver.
Next, we have Gypsy Bill, whom Steve recruits from living in a junkyard run by a guy named Vampire. At first, I thought it was just a really crappy trailer park, but no: Until Steve Chase and his perpetually-unbuttoned shirt came around, Gypsy Bill was living in a broken-down bus. He tumbles around a lot, as evidenced by the fight that ensues when he tries to get his two-dollar security deposit back from Vampire.
In the role of "Howlin' Mad" Murdock, we have Hotdog, whose gimmick consists largely of taking someone's cigarette out of their hand, dipping it in alcohol, taking a drag, and then giving it back to them while saying "Hotdog." I'm not sure why, but that is one of the most badass things ever. He also has what Gorilla refers to as "Hotdog's Bag of Tricks," a backpack from which he pulls, over the course of the movie, nunchucks, thumbtacks (one handful), and a boomerang, thus making him the bad karate movie equivalent of that one guy from Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
Finally, we have The Fly, whose mastery of zen is apparently so strong that he gained the ability to float through sheer force of will alone. He initially refuses to join up with Chase's group, but reluctantly agrees once Chase proves that he can float too.
Of course he can float. He's Steve Chase.
With the team assembled, it's only a matter of time before they get to Ironville, but they don't manage to do it before Marduk--who is exceedingly ineffectual to an almost Cobra Commander-esque level of goofy plots--sends out a bar full of South African rednecks, a truckload of easily-defeatable "Elite Soldiers," and, in his most bizarre bit of reasoning in the movie, a squad of paratrooping karate fighters.
Don't get me wrong: karate paratroopers is a great idea on paper, but it seems like it would be a lot more efficient to send out a Super Potato Gas-powered van out instead of having a bunch of guys in bright orange jumpsuits parachute into an open field in the middle of the day, get out of their harnesses, and then go fight Steve Chase. It's like three extra steps between dispatch and asskicking, and that's no way to run an evil empire, Marduk.
Eventually, the crew makes it into Ironville, where they're eventually captured and--in an effort to prove the superiority of his New World Order--made to battle against Marduk's elite warriors, with Steve Chase facing down The Optimus.
I'll let you work out who wins for yourself.
Oh, and it also turns out that Kandy isn't actually Dr. Kane's daughter, which is never explained and has no impact on the plot whatsoever, but, hey! There's nunchucks!
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