Archive for the Nazis Category

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1982)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 80s Movies, Action Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Just Plain Fun, Just Plain Weird, Martial Arts, Nazis, William Carl Articles, Wrestlers with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1982)

Fantasy Mission Force

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable—then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

Every once in a great while, a film comes along that is so weird, so twisted, so indescribable that you can only sit back and marvel at it. . . hopefully while inebriated.  I caught this week’s offering, FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1982) or Mi Ni Te Gong Dui, at a double feature chop-sockey martial arts festival with a group of disbelieving friends.  Now, as I re-watch it, all I can think is “What.  The.  Hell?”  This is no typical martial arts film.  This is no typical film at all.  What it is could best be described as a whirlwind homage to every genre known to man.  If every past and future Quentin Tarantino film were placed in a blender along with several Tex Avery cartoons and a Three Stooges short, you might just get something like FANTASY MISSION FORCE.

In some unknown time period (in various parts the movie looks like it could take place in the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, or the 1980s), the Chinese and the Japanese are at war.  A Jeep with the brave Lieutenant Don in it gets through several booby traps, machine gun wielding Japanese in blackface, some bombs, and arrives at the tent of two other Chinese generals, General Johnson and General Thompson (!).  A group of Western generals, including Abraham Lincoln (again, what?), have been captured by the Japanese and are being taken from Luxemburg back to Tokyo to use in propaganda films for WW2.  According to the generals, Snake Plissken’s been dead for years.  Rocky isn’t suitable for action, and James Bond has gone missing.  It’s up to Lieutenant Don to recruit a rag-tag ‘Dirty Dozen type’ of group of commandos to set the generals free before the Japanese convince the world they have won World War 2.

Then, the titles start over “la-la-la…wooo wooo…lalala….wooo wooo” Chinese pop music from the 1960s that I swear I heard in BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1963).  A group of singing and dancing waiters, led by a Chinese man dressed like a Mexican Bandito (I ain’t makin’ this up folks), all drink tons of beer during an insane musical number (“What a way to treat a wife…la-la-la ha-ha-ha!”)  A black man in a tuxedo and a red headband tells the bandito to call him Pappa then gives him a gun, which he uses to rob the restaurant.  The Frito Bandito is actually a friend of (now) Captain Don, and he joins the force.

The Frito Bandito as an action hero?

Next, we find a group of prisoners working on the chain gang, and after a brief martial arts fight, a gun battle, and a pick-axe fight, one prisoner named Greased Lightning escapes.  He discovers an elegant candle-lit banquet table full of food in the woods.  While he eats, he is recruited by Captain Don and the bandito.

Next, we have a wrestling match between “the killer from Japan” and, from New York City, “the China Doll Sammy,” played by none other than Jackie Chan (RUMBLE IN THE BRONX– 1995, RUSH HOUR – 1998).  Rumor has it Chan owed the director a favor for saving him from a Triad, so he played a small part for star power in the flick, but his boxing match is a great scene and a fun highlight.  His beautiful consort (and partner in crime) Emily wears all black with huge plastic boots up to her knees.  During the entire scene, I kept thinking of the Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs fight The Crusher.  There’s even giant cigars that explode and sumo jokes, and it’s genuinely hilarious!  As they run off with the money, Sammy and Lily are stopped by corrupt military police, bribe them, and escape.

Jackie Chan wrestles under the name “China Doll Sammy.”

Next, in a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) type of drinking contest, in which a beautiful woman and a man take turns drinking shots then shooting away a tied-up woman’s clothes, the woman wins with her terrific knife-throwing skills.  Turns out it was a sting operation, and her partner, the man, and the half naked girl, all have to fight their way out of the bar.  A Wayne Newton look-alike comes for her, and they slap the crap out of each other while confessing their love, despite the fact that he can’t remember her name…Lily.  She is played by the terrific Brigitte Lin (POLICE STORY1985, THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR1993, and CHUNKING EXPESSone of my all time favorite filmsfrom 1994).  After a tender love scene between Wayne and Lily, Captain Dan offers the guy a job, and Wayne Newton leaves Lily tied up and gagged as he takes up the Captain’s offer.  She, of course, doesn’t take kindly to this, so she does what any woman would do.  She grabs every weapon known to man, armors herself up, and uses a bazooka to take out their house and all his possessions!

The lovely Brigitte Lin.

Suddenly, we’re in a Benny Hill skit with Chinese men dressed as Scots doing maneuvers in fast motion in kilts to bagpipe music.  (Still not making any of this up.)

Back to Lilyour heroine takes out almost the whole Scottish army base while doing fabulous gymnastics all the while.  She captures Wayne Newton at gunpoint, but she is also recruited along with two inept Chinese “Scots” (the Laurel and Hardy of the East), the Mexican Bandito, Greased Lightning, and Wayne Newton.  This is the group that’s going to rescue Abe Lincoln?

Off they go in jeeps to Luxemburg (from China?).  Along the way, Jackie Chan and his girlfriend attack the group of misfits.  They are defeated and leave again.  High jinks and shenanigans ensue.  The two Scotsman seem to be developing a love affair.  The group spends a night in a haunted house, complete with floating ghost heads, the soundtrack of Walt Disney’s “Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” on the soundtrack, hopping vampires, ghosts playing mah-jongg, a beautiful female seductress who turns into a living skeleton, a monstrous toilet,  a Midnight Mass, and demons!  Turns out, ghosts and monsters blow up real good when hit with a bazooka shell!   A group of sex-starved Amazon Ninja women who use brightly colored bolts of cloth to capture everyone, takes the group hostage.  They’re led by a tuxedo clad cad who is an artist who destroys everything imperfect around him.  Luckily, just as a new musical number starts with all the Amazons in leopard skin mini-dresses, Jackie Chan shows up and leads a bloody revolution with our heroes blowing up everything in sight.

Scotsmen from China??

They finally arrive at the Nazi headquarters in Luxemburg (which is in a desert?  The things you learn. . .), where huge swastikas fly, one on an orange banner and one on a lime green banner.  They find all the Japanese dead, and the generals are missing.  However, Jackie Chan and his girl Friday show up!  Out of the night drive the Nazis in weird Mad Max cars, rigged out with all kinds of crazy weapons and swastikas spray painted on the sides.  And the Nazis are all tricked out like they’re about to enter Thunderdome! And they’re all Chinese!   Once again, I just can’t make this stuff up, folks.  It’s all there on the screen to see.  If you dare.

The group discovers a hidden stash of money in the Nazi headquarters.  It’s going to be a fight to the finish.  Whoever lives through the battle gets a share of the money.  The following eight minute battle scene is an insane mélange of explosives, machine guns, sword fights, car chases, tanks, bulldozers, and more.  Even though the music is the silly song from the beginning, it looks an awful lot like THE WILD BUNCH (1969).  Most of our heroes don’t make it to the end, the death scenes accompanied by a slow, sad harmonica version of Camptown Races!  Doo-dah!   Doo-dah!  Then, there’s a surprise twist ending!

Evil Nazis are the bad guys in FANTASY MISSION FORCE.

FANTASY MISSION FORCE moves so fast, it’s quicker than the speed of thought, because if you think about any of it for more than a second, it makes no sense, but if you just let it flow over you, the gags are pretty funny, the girls are just pretty (even with weird 80s hair and Pocahontas headbands), the action is deftly handled, and the Nazi muscle cars are pretty bad-ass.  It’s all a lark, just as if someone gave the director a whole lot of drugs and money and said “You only get to make one movie; so you’d better put everything you like into 80 minutes!”  And so was born the world’s only martial arts, World War Two action, romance, adventure, prison escape drama, ghost story musical!

Speaking of the director, it happens to be Yen-ping Chu, who has directed more than forty films and is still at it.  I haven’t seen any of the others he has done, but their titles (such as ANGEL HEARTS1995, SEVEN FOXES1985, and ISLAND OF FIRE1990) make me suspect he moved on to more mainstream fare.

Our heroes, humiliated by Amazons.

Adding to the fun is the dreadful dubbing of the movie.  Whoever rewrote the script (originally by Hsin Wei), knew how silly the whole thing truly was, and they had great fun with reworking the dialogue.

Some favorite lines:

“Wow.  You’re pretty when you kill.”

“The nice people are always the first to die.  Do I look nice?”

“Is THIS what you call horniness?”

FANTASY MISSION FORCE is very poorly edited.  It’s as if an axe was taken to the film and it was all scotch-taped back together.  I’m not sure if it was this way to start, or if the foreign distributors have hacked away at it over the years, but the poor movie looks terrible.  This in no way diminishes the fun to be had with such a crazy flick.  This is the exact movie you want at hand when your buddies come over for a night of drinking and movies.  You are guaranteed to have a good time.

I give FANTASY MISSION FORCE three and a half Frito Bandito musical numbers out of four.  And that’s saying something!

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl

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Me and Lil’ Stevie: APT PUPIL (1998)

Posted in 1990s Horror, 2012, Me and Lil' Stevie, Nazis, Peter Dudar Reviews, Stephen King Movies with tags , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by knifefighter

Me and Lil’ Stevie
See Through An
APT PUPIL (1998)

EXTERIOR: DAY

( Establishing shot of a suburban high school at the end of the day, with teens exiting classes for the afternoon.  Camera pans across the campus lawn as the last bell of the day rings in the background.  The school doors are vomiting out happy looking all-American teens with their backpacks slung over their shoulders and carefree looks on their faces.  They all race to the parking lot and jump into their cool cars with their best gals and speed off to do the fun stuff that all teens do.  Camera pans back to the school doors, where one last student is sauntering out.  We zoom in closer to see that it isn’t a student, but a man carrying a ventriloquist dummy in the shape of Master of Horror, Stephen King.)

Lil’ Stevie:  (Dressed in a tiny Nazi costume) Sieg Heil, mine little comrades!

Peter:   Are you insane?  L.L. will never let this fly!

Lil’ Stevie: Chill out, dumbkoff!  This is legit.  It’s all a part of today’s review.  Guten Nacht, herrs and fraulines.  Ich heissa Stephen King, und…

Peter:    Stop right there, Mein Fuhrer!  Welcome, Constant Viewers, to another edition of ME AND LIL’ STEVIE.  Today we’ll be discussing the 1998 Bryan Singer film APT PUPIL.  Now, most film and comic book geeks will already recognize Singer’s name from his directorial work with the X-MEN films, but would undoubtedly be impressed with the actual number of credits he’s accumulated in his career as a writer/director/producer.  Singer is a very accomplished and talented individual, and definitely proves his merit here in King’s Dominion.

Lil’ Stevie: Which says a lot, seeing that most people tend to avoid Nazi movies like the plague!

Peter:  What the hell are you talking about?  MARATHON MAN (1976), THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978), SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993), INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)…Don’t any of those popular titles ring a bell?

Lil’ Stevie: Oh, whatever!

Peter:   Anyway, King released the novella APT PUPIL in his 1982 collection DIFFERENT SEASONS.  This particular book has the distinction of being King’s first real departure from the horror genre, releasing four novellas that felt more like suspenseful dramas that flourished on literary merit over the blood and guts theatrics of his earlier novels.  Of course, APT PUPIL really is the darkest entry, with its roots planted in the world’s most infamous blight to humanity.

Lil’ Stevie: Now you’re talking MY language!

Peter:   The story centers around Todd Bowden (The late Brad Renfro, who was sixteen when the movie was filmed, and then was cursed to a string of bit parts in films and television until his untimely death in 2008), a straight-A student who, after studying the Holocaust in his history class, discovers that his neighbor Mr. Denker (Ian McKellen, X-MEN, 2000) is actually the Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander.  Obviously, he…

Lil’ Stevie: In my novella, the story begins with young Todd rapping on Dussander’s door, ready to hear all about the horrors of Nazi Germany!

Peter:   You’re jumping the gun on me, so to speak.  Yeah, the story centers around a bright young and impressionable teenage boy, who happens to discover that the guy down the street is a Nazi.  The premise is far-fetched as hell, but King makes it work in the novella.  And why not?  Most people are fascinated by murder and death and inhumanity, provided that it is as far removed from their own personal lives as possible.  The Holocaust is one of the most significant events of the Twentieth Century.  Its very existence proved to the world that humans are not as civilized and gregarious as we’d like to believe we are.  In fact, it proved that mankind is still full of monsters, even when the monsters are people just following orders to protect their own lives.  We don’t like to admit it, but it is fascinating as hell…especially for high school boys who don’t understand the significance or impact that real evil holds.

Lil’ Stevie: That’s very deep, coming from YOU!

Peter:   So, Todd shows up at Dussander’s door and practically lays it all out on the table.  “I know who you are”…”I had to be sure, so I dusted your mailbox for fingerprints,”…”I’m not going to turn you in unless you do as I say!”  And what young Todd wants is for Dussander to fill in the blanks; to tell him what it was like in the concentration camps, how it felt, what he remembered.  And all under the understanding that Todd has written down everything he knows about Dussander, so if anything happens, the Feds will know what happened and how to find him.

Lil’ Stevie: The classic cat-and-mouse game.  Do you like how I pitted a young, clever high school kid against an old, frail man who happens to be a murderer back in Hitler’s Reich?

Peter:   What happens is that the REAL Stephen King ramps things up.  As Todd’s relationship with Dussander grows over time, he becomes more and more deeply enthralled in the old man’s death stories, to the point where he begins losing sleep and failing all of his classes.  Meanwhile, Dussander begins to find empowerment in reliving his old past.  Todd shows up to his house one afternoon and offers Dussander a gift.  Dussander opens the box and finds a Nazi officer costume inside.  At Todd’s command, Dussander dons the duds and begins performing drill maneuvers at Todd’s whim.  It’s creepy as hell to watch as McKellen clicks his heels with precision while turning and marching, until he throws up his hand in a Nazi salute that even causes Todd to freak out a bit.

Lil’ Stevie: McKellen is marvelous in this role.  His German accent is beyond convincing, and the conviction he gives in his performance should have given him an Oscar nod.  But since it IS a Nazi movie…

Peter:   The story continues to escalate as Dussander begins fighting back over the domination that young Todd is trying to hold over him.  First, he shows up for dinner at the request of Todd’s parents (Todd has told them that he goes to the old man’s house to read for him and do small tasks for the old man), and enthralls the Bowdens with fictitious stories about his past life and a never-ending string of lies that he has based his post-Nazi life around in becoming Mr. Denker.  And when Todd’s high school career is jeopardized by his failing grades, Dussander shows up at Todd’s guidance counselor’s office under the guise of being Todd’s grandfather.  The guidance counselor, Mr. Finch (David Schwimmer, the wimpy guy from TV’s FRIENDS), explains that he can help Todd pass his courses if he aces ALL of his exams.

Lil’ Stevie: And here begins the transition of control from Todd to Dussander, as Dussander suddenly wises up and starts taking away the power that he has given the boy.  He informs Todd that he has taken out a safe deposit box at the local bank, and has written every last detail about his relationship with Todd and placed it safely inside.  Should anything suddenly, accidentally happen to Dussander, the law will step in and take that information, and Todd will suddenly be accountable.  After all, by now Todd has known about Dussander’s secret for months and has done nothing to alert the authorities about his existence.

Peter:   It’s fascinating to watch as Todd, who has kept Dussander as his own personal pet, suddenly understands just how deep he’s gotten himself into his own mess.  Not only does he have to buckle down and make the grades (so that his parents don’t discover that he was actually poised to fail his courses), he has to make sure that Mr. Finch doesn’t catch on that he and Dussander have flat-out lied to him, and he has to make sure that nothing happens to Dussander.

Lil’ Stevie: You don’t mess with an ex-Nazi officer.  You don’t do it!

Peter:   …While in the world of Dussander, you have a frail old man suddenly rediscovering the power he once had in his prior life and letting it fill him with a new sense of purpose and invigoration.  Dussander’s flashbacks will actually lead him to turn on his oven and try to put his cat inside it, and later bring him to leading a homeless man into his house and trying to murder the man in cold blood.

Lil’ Stevie: Which will bring us to the climax of our enchanting little film!

Peter:   While trying to murder the homeless guy, Dussander slips into cardiac arrest.  He dials up young Todd on the telephone and tells him to come over immediately.  It’s imperative, as there is now a possible murder-victim in Dussander’s basement and a damning piece of information about Todd still waiting in the bank’s safe deposit box.  If the boy wants to keep his record clean, he will have to rush over and take care of Dussander’s dirty work and clean up the mess.

Lil’ Stevie: Of course, the homeless guy ISN’T dead…

Peter:   Which means Todd will finally get a taste of murder that he has been so captivated by in all of Dussander’s stories!

Lil’ Stevie: …And you say it isn’t a horror story!

Peter:   It isn’t.  And it is.  It’s hard to distinguish just how one would label this picture.  It’s a suspense thriller, to say the least.  The screenplay by Brandon Boyce follows King’s story near perfectly.

Lil’ Stevie: Not true! Not True!

Peter:   How so?

Lil’ Stevie:  The ending is TOTALLY different.  In the movie, after Dussander’s demise, Todd’s secret is discovered by Mr. French.  French shows up at Todd’s folks’ house to talk to them about Dussander and Todd’s lack of ethics, only to be blackmailed by Todd into keeping his secret.  In MY story, Todd guns down Mr. French, and then heads off to the freeway with a rifle to start picking off random motorists until he, too, is taken down.

Peter:   Wow, that’s really dark.  How do you sleep at night?

Lil’ Stevie: Like a LOG!

Peter:   Well, overall, this really is an impressive adaptation.  Renfro’s Todd Bowden is truly disturbing to watch…how he listens with relish to the old man’s stories and how he empowers himself over Dussander, even though Dussander is a notorious war criminal.  The cat-and-mouse relationship between the two is fraught with brilliant tension, and as Lil’ Stevie pointed out, McKellen is spot-on!

Lil’ Stevie: So how come APT PUPIL doesn’t get the same love as THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994) and STAND BY ME (1986)?  These stories all came from DIFFERENT SEASONS

Peter:   Because APT PUPIL isn’t a feel-good movie like the other two are.  It’s not a triumph-of-the-human-spirit film in the slightest.  You don’t get that kind of movie out of Nazi-related material.  Especially when your movie has no clear-cut protagonist.  Both Todd and Dussander are terrible people.  It’s how these two terrible people interact that makes the movie so fascinating.

Lil’ Stevie: But you pointed out SCHINDLER’S LIST and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS

Peter:   Yeah, one’s a bio-pic about a guy who worked to save Holocaust victims and one’s a historical revisionist piece filled with absurdist humor and anti-Nazi propaganda.

Lil’ Stevie: Speilberg’s a hack and Tarantino’s a ham!  I am the Fuhrer of Fiction!

The high school’s doors suddenly fly open, and out walk Quentin Tarantino with a machine gun and Steven Speilberg with a baseball bat.

Tarantino:  We’re here to collect some scalps!  Ain’t that right, Jew Bear?

Speilberg:  Let’s get medieval on their asses!

Peter:   Holy crap!  Let’s get out of here!

Lil’ Stevie: Auf Weidersein, folks!  See you next time!

© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar

(DISCLAIMER: for those who haven’t seen the movie INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, the name “Jew Bear” refers to Eli Roth’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s film, and it is not meant in any offensive way here).