Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gweilo Dojo: STREET SOLDIERS (1991)

As quickly as my love affair with Jun Chong films began, so it ends with his third production...

STREET SOLDIERS (1991) - The Tigers and JPs are two of the whitest gangs you've ever seen and they rumble hard because JP leader Priest (Jeff Rector) and Tiger associate Troy (David Homb) both have the hots for Julie (Katherine Armstrong). Priest, fresh off a five year prison stint, dated her as a teen and thinks they are soulmates because they got tattooed together. Seriously. And this guy is the gang leader of the bad guys! Troy's buddy Chuck (Joon B. Kim) gets his uncle Master Han (Jun Chong) to teach the gang some martial arts in a one minute montage. When Julie is kidnapped and Chuck killed, it is time for one more montage (mountain climbing included!) before the final siege of the JP's headquarters.

You know you are trouble when the first scene in your inner city gang flick has two white boys discussing whether or not they are going to go to the high school dance. This is rough, rough stuff. I'm kicking myself now after I looked up the filmmakers because director Lee Harry's only other credit is SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT part 2. Yes, the film reviled as one of the worst sequels of all-time. Harry, who also co-wrote, seems to think he is making a martial arts WEST SIDE STORY. But he adds all the stuff that classic was missing like weak drive-bys, stick ball and a disturbing gang rape scene. Of course, this is a film so wrong headed that it has one teen going on and on about how cool the flea market is. "I thought it was just a place for old folks and kids trading baseball cards," he excitedly exclaims after a montage showing the amazing wares on display.

STREET SOLDIERS also totally lacks in the acting department. I'm not saying TURF or ASSASSINS had Oscar caliber performances, but those folks at least looked liked they were having fun. Lead stud Homb looks like Tim Robbins short brother and is the most decent of the folks. He was previously in the horror flicks WITCHCRAFT II and THE CHANNELER (alongside Dan Haggerty and my main man Richard Harrison). And if you think the "Garbage Day" acting in SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT pt. 2 is bad, wait until you see the stunningly awful performance of one Jeff Rector. Take a gander (he's the one with the cross earring and raspy voice):

Rector actually still works to this day in B-movies and has even produced and directed a few cheap-o flicks. He has a twin brother, Jerry, who is also an actor. I'm sure Jerry is really freakin' pissed.

Chong produces once again but doesn't have student Phillip Rhee around this time to help do the action so the film suffers greatly. Director Harry has no idea how to shoot a fight scene so even if Chong can still deliver the kicks, chances are you won't see them properly displayed on screen. Excellent Korean martial artist Hwang Jang Lee (from DRUNKEN MASTER; billed as Jason Hwang) is completely wasted as his final showdown against Chong is horribly edited and Harry keeps cutting back between it and a brawl between Priest and Troy. Did I forget to mention that Lee is also forced to walk around with a rubber snake around his neck and pretend that it is real.

So while I give both NINJA TURF and SILENT ASSASSINS enthusiastic thumbs up, I can only shake my head at STREET SOLDIERS. It says something when the biggest laugh I get comes from the opening credit "And Jay Richardson as Wheelchair Willie." Maybe it was the dried up direct-to-video action market or Chong's embarrassment, but he stayed out of movie producing for the next 15 years. More on that in part 4...

1 Reactions:

  1. Well, I popped in NINJA TURF on saturday and despite it's technical shortcomings, I kind of liked it. While the fights are energetic and pretty well staged, the film's biggest flaw (outside the of the bad dubbing and ropey perfomances), is how horribly lit it is. In some scenes I could barely make out what's happening, just saw some black smudges on the screen, but the plot is so retarded that you have to love it. Jun Chong most be the oldest high schooler in history and all his crying that his mommy does not love him kind of lowers his badass factor!

    Anyway, SILENT ASSASSINS looks good and I'm going to track that down. Besides I can watch just about anything that has Mako in it.

    Based on this post I will probably skip STREET SOLDIERS!


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