Recent Reviews

Strike Commando 2 (Blu-ray)

"Haven't you got it through that fucking head of yours that this whole thing was a farce?"

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Y'know, as much as I dug the original Strike Commando, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was just something missing. But thankfully, there's Strike Commando 2 to quickly fill in that blank: ninjas.

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I guess Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso had their fill of blowing up straw huts, so rather than limiting themselves to ripping off First Blood Part II, the recipe looks a whole lot different this time around. This sequel swipes extensively from Raiders of the Lost Ark, along with a dash of Romancing the Stone and...I dunno, American Ninja or whatever.

The action is actually set in the Philippines this time around, as Michael Ransom – now played by Brent Huff – reels from a shocking revelation. Well, revelations, plural, I guess. Hey, Ransom, remember how you owe your life to Major Vic Jenkins (Richard Harris)? And you know how you thought he was dead? Jenkins, as it turns out, is very much alive, but...y'know, not for much longer. That is, unless his captors are delivered a ransom of $10 million in diamonds.

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So, yeah, capital-R Ransom drives over to some nondescript parking lot with the lowercase-r ransom, the bad guys hand over Jenkins as agreed, fade to black, roll credits.

That was supposed to be a joke. Sorry. Strike Commando 2 obviously wouldn't be much of an action flick if everything went according to plan. The Russian non-union equivalent of Raiders' Toht is hellbent on getting his hands on those diamonds now, which, before you know it, leads to a backwater bar owned by the lovely Rosanna Boom (Mary Stävin) getting blown up to all hell. The...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Strike Commando 2]

Strike Commando (Blu-ray)

"Don't underestimate the man, Colonel; Ransom's no ordinary soldier. He's a war machine and is on the warpath, and you know why."

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The Air Force...? Psssh. They haven't been able to get the job done over here in Vietnam, but the Strike Commandos are the best of the best. And Michael Ransom (Reb Brown) is the best of the best of the best. Even when their latest mission goes tits up, victory remains all but assured. But Colonel Radek (Christopher Connelly) lets his itchy trigger finger get the best of him, prematurely making a call that results in the grisly deaths of every last one of the Strike Commandos.

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That is, except for Ransom. Friendly Vietnamese villagers rescue and nurse this American warrior back to health, and Ransom repays that kindness by doing his damndest to shepherd them across the punishing jungle and out of enemy crosshairs. It's along that journey that Ransom uncovers a sinister secret – one the military brass in Washington needs to be apprised of tout de suite.

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Well, I say it's a secret, but plenty of the higher-ups are well-aware of an enemy state covertly stoking the fires in Vietnam. Whether it's to protect America's reputation or to cover their own asses, they cannot allow Ransom to reveal to the world at large what he's learned. The sole surviving Strike Commando is on his own against the Vietcong, a disloyal military, and the indomitable forces under the command of Jakoda (Alex Vitale). Eh, but that's the thing about being a one-man army. Fuck the odds.

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I mean, we're talking about Bruno Mattei remaking Rambo: First Blood Part II on a shoestring in the Philippines. It may...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Strike Commando]

Larceny (Blu-ray)

Having just swindled a group of investors down in Miami out of a fortune, Rick (John Payne) and Silky (Dan Duryea) have mastered the long con. Their next six-figure scheme on the other end of the country is sure to be even easier pickings. In this Californian community of retired millionaires, their mark is Deborah (Joan Caulfield): wealthy, well-connected, and recently widowed.

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The plan is for Rick to pass himself off as a war buddy of her late husband, and, after earning Deb's trust, convince her to invest deeply in a memorial honoring Jim's life and service. Like the best cons, he'll even dupe Deb into thinking the project was her idea. Not only is she certain to raise a hundred grand among Mission City's elite and hand Rick a six-figure check, but she'll be sure to call the bank and verify that it's on the level. Once the façade drops, her city manager father won't come chasing after these con men, unable to take any action against them without exposing Deborah's pivotal role in the fraud as well. Every i dotted; every t crossed. Eh, but how many noirs have you seen where everything went according to plan?

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Rick has elevated the long con to an art, and witnessing such a master at work is a sight to behold. Everyone in this sleepy town outside Pasadena almost immediately falls under his spell. We as viewers aren't necessarily certain what to think either; there are moments when it's unclear if Rick is starting to feel pangs of conscience or if that's a calculated part of the scheme. Wretched a louse though Rick may be, when the wrong person rears their head at the wrong time and the house of cards looks to be tumbling down, Larceny is breathlessly intense. I found myself wanting the son of a bitch to get...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Larceny]

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