Friday, April 16, 2010

The Gweilo Dojo: SILENT ASSASSINS (1988)

Well, it looks like the NINJA TURF principals finally graduated high school as Jun Chong and Phillip Rhee re-teamed in...

SILENT ASSASSINS (1988) - Cop Sam Kettle (Sam Jones) was this close to leaving L.A. with his girlfriend Sara (Linda Blair) before his chief tells him, "We need you." I'm not kidding, they were literally packing the U-Haul when the chief showed up. Seems bio-chemist Dr. London (perennial old man Bill Erwin) was kidnapped by Kettle's nemesis Kendrick (Gustav Vintas). Tagging along with Sam on his investigation is Jun Kim (Jun Chong), whose niece was kidnapped along with the doctor during the chaos. The duo learn from Oyama (Mako) that Kendrick has hired an elite Japanese killing squad and, with help from Oyama's son Bernard (Phillip Rhee), our heroes attack the secret hideout before Kendrick can secure a chemical weapons formula.

This is a step up from NINJA TURF as it has better production values, a name cast and explosions. Yeah, I'm easy. The cast actually seems to be giving it their all. Chong appears to have aged 15 years in the period between this and TURF, so he finally looks his age. But his fighting skills are still in top shape. As with the earlier TURF, all of the fights are very well done. Chong and Rhee handled the choreography and this is probably the best aspect of their low budget action flicks. Is it on the level of 80s Jackie Chan? No. But they do show some skill, especially during the final siege, where we also get an impressive exploding body. Rhee split from Chong's movies after this flick to go star in the highly successful BEST OF THE BEST series.

Jones, Flash Gordon himself, seems to be having fun in the role, not taking anything too seriously. The same can be said for Rhee, who is a dojo playboy this time around. Blair is featured on the cover brandishing a gun but her role is as the helpless girlfriend. She disappears completely from the picture around the 50 minute mark. Even worse, she doesn't show off her biggest assets despite an odd lovemaking scene halfway in. Karate legend Bill "Superfoot" Wallace also returns from TURF and gets a cameo as a deceitful Colonel but they never show his face! Given the cliff hanger ending, I suspect they were hoping for a part 2 with him as the lead villain.

Also, like TURF, there is some really odd/funny stuff going on in SILENT ASSASSINS. For example, Vintas - a dead ringer for Tom Noonan - always carries a red rose for some reason. His assistant Miss Amy (Playboy Playmate Rebecca Ferratti) is a hoot too, stating "Don't forget, I'm a bio-chemist too" while clad in the 80s worst leather dresses. There is also a hysterical bit where Dr. London displays the fragility of 80s computers as he shows a glitch of one model (if you flip over the keyboard, it will explode!). And then there is Dr. London's strange habit of always holding the kidnapped child in every shot. Creepy!

By far the most amusing thing about the movie is that these silent assassins are the loudest mofos around. Silencers on their guns? Hell nah! Any time they sneak up to kill someone, they let out a huge scream before attacking. So, like NINJA TURF with its lack of ninjas, producer/star Chong again fails to deliver on the title's promise. Clip of some not-so-silent assassins going to town on Mako; was the bookcase bit really necessary?

Stay tuned for part 3 to see how Jun Chong fared in his Rhee-less years!

1 Reactions:

  1. I'll try to track this down, sounds like a must see! Thanks for another great post William.


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