Cast: Nick Mancuso, John Savage, Billy Drago
The following are excerpts from The Unknown Movies
The People (Who Rent
TROY COOK, hereafter known as THE DEFENDANT,
with the following:
(1) Failure to deliver "the goods"
(2) Failure to bring THE TAKEOVER, hereafter known as THE
FILM, up to the minimum level set for acceptable pacing.
(3) Multiple counts of assault; more specifically, attacks on the
level of viewers
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . . .
(Transcript of the trial)
DEFENSE TEAM: Your Honor, my client right from
the start intended
his production to not just be a typical shoot-em-up, but to have
characters and realistic situations, even for the action sequences. And
right from the start, and to the end, he accomplished this goal. Let's
start at the very beginning: the cast. Look, this movie is a B-movie
dream cast: There's Nick Mancuso, who has made a name for himself in
and television. And there's Billy Drago, the muscular, long blond
chap that fans recognize from other B-movies, even if they don't
his name. And then there is John Savage, an actor who's had a healthy
and video career for over 20 years. And his performance! - it can't be
denied that he gives an excellent performance here, projecting a
yet ruthless attitude that wouldn't hesitate to order a killing.
PROSECUTION: But your Honor, Savage's character
is more of a
supporting role, so he doesn't get as much screen time as the other
And the performances of Mancuso and Drago? Please. While Drago has been
a good villain in other movies, the material is so weak here, he has
to do except mostly sit around, bark orders, and sneer and mock.
is even worse; he acts very bored throughout the production. The
"sleepwalking through a performance" is apt for his performance - he
looks and sounds like he's asleep! If he blandly mutters his lines
the movie, how can we get engaged in his character or what he does?
DEFENSE TEAM: We maintain Mancuso does well with
because there's a lot the character goes through. Mancuso's character,
Jonathan, at the beginning of the movie actually is fleshed out from
start. In prison, his character is being pressured by Drago's character
Daniel to help join him in his attempts to take over the mob operation
of Tony, Jonathan's former boss, who has taken over his restaurant and
girlfriend while he's in prison. Meanwhile, Jonathan is under strain
the inside by his uncontrollable friend Mickey, who has inflicted the
of a prison gang.
PROSECUTION: This opening sequence is just as
boring as the rest
of the movie! Jonathan and Daniel's conflict is just done by some
telephone calls. The subplot concerning the prison gang has potential,
but its resolution is pretty much just a whimper, and its aftereffects
for the rest of the movie are not existent. And during many scenes, you
can hear background chat from different prisoners. Now that by itself
bad, but you hear the same voices uttering, "freakin' lawyer" three
times and "SHUT UP!" five times during all the sequences
use this background chat on the soundtrack!
DEFENSE TEAM: So who says that those other
repeat those words? It could happen. Speaking of things that could
look at the gun fights in the movie, which start when Daniel and his
arrive in L.A. and start to attack Tony's men and outfits. The guns
they fire are dubbed with the correct sounds - real guns have more of a
"pop!" sound than a "bang!" sound, and these guns utter the correct
noises. Also, the gun fights don't go on forever, but are much briefer.
And you don't see exaggerated scenes like someone getting blasted in
stomach by a shotgun and flying through a window - it's more true to
PROSECUTION: The gunfights may sound realistic,
also look more realistic, but what about the entertainment
There isn't any. The direction of these gun fights is showing a man
a gun, then cutting to a shot of someone falling down from being shot.
DEFENSE TEAM: The focus on this movie is not
It's more about the characters and how they change throughout the
What about that intriguing fantasy sequence where Mickey imagines
former girlfriend coming on to him? It shows that he has some hidden
And Daniel's reasons for his attempted takeover are not for the
reasons of revenge or greed - he simply doesn't think that the L.A.
is effective anymore, and thinks it's time for new management.
PROSECUTION: And what becomes of these
Mickey's desire for Jonathan's girlfriend is never mentioned again.
reasoning becomes buried with him ordering shoot-outs and sabotage
The seeds for interesting characters are here, but they are never
JUDGE: The court is recessed. I shall retire to
my chambers to
view what is in question once again.
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . . .
JUDGE: After viewing the movie in question, I
have to agree with
both the defense and the prosecution; although the movie has serious
it is not completely without interest.
I'm not saying that I would recommend the movie to my
To illustrate my point, I will go through the three charges now, and
my decision for each one.
The first charge - failing to deliver "the goods" - was
a fairly easy
decision to make. Most of your movie is just people standing around and
talking - that takes away most chances of delivering these "goods". The
scenes in the movie that could do that - mainly the gun battles - are
directed. These gun battles may be realistic, but realistic does not
mean "better". My finding? Guilty.
The decision as to whether the movie fails to rise to
the minimum level
of pacing was a somewhat more difficult decision. Many of the scenes in
the movie do overall have some purpose to advance the story. But there
are a few scenes which could easily have been edited out without
the flow of the picture. And many scenes simply could have been
from their current bloated time limit. My finding? Guilty.
However, the most difficult decision was whether you
assaulted the patience
level of viewers. After much deliberation, I decided to use the
if the movie was actively bad - bad enough to cause voices of
from viewers or various feelings of discomfort. Although the movie
wasn't exciting, it did manage to land on the line where a viewer's
is a shrug. Since the movie clearly lies directly on the middle mark in
this category, it can't be called bad enough to be accused of assault.
My finding? Not Guilty.
In short, although you are innocent of the third charge,
you have been
found guilty on charges one and two. It is important you be punished
your two convicted crimes. However, it is also important for a society
to also reform criminals so such people will not return to a life of
Your sentence will be divided into two parts - the first for
the second for reform.
Your punishment part of your sentence is as follows: You
any three Albert Pyun directed movies of your choice back to back,
Sword and The Sorcerer or Nemesis. Order! Order
the court! It is important for Mr. Cook to know something of the pain
bad filmmaking that he placed viewers of his movie through.
And now for your reform. Mr. Cook, I hereby sentence you
watch the following three John Woo movies: A Better Tomorrow,
Killer, and Hard Boiled. Hopefully, these three
will give you a better how to film exciting gun battles, and yet at the
same time place interesting characters in interesting situations. The
will escort you to the viewing room now.
The court is now adjourned.
Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
See also: An Enemy Of The
People, Phoenix, Ulterior