“…the hottest man-on-man climax this
side of 1991…”
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You may not know this, but Billy Blanks wasn’t always a staple of late night infomercials. I mean to say, if you’re like me, you sure as fuck did know this. I’m mainly speaking to the uninitiated “Direct To Video” action fan who still thinks Jeff Speakman is an obscure name. Billy Blanks has many a shitty DTV title under his belt, and every single one is A) Worth watching, and B) Bloody awful (in the best way possible). I could argue EXPECT NO MERCY as a great starting point for Blanks’ filmography. Conversely, I would say don’t start with T.C. 2000 – what a pile of shit.
EXPECT NO MERCY opens the way all movies should: a team of assassins wearing ridiculous outfits and “futuristic” headgear sneak into their target’s compound and dispatch him and his entire security team with extreme prejudice! The team is led by a maniac with a whip named Damien – did I mention he uses a whip? He’s an assassin…who uses a whip. I almost want to say it again because it’s so insane! The team also consists of a pair of black guys relegated to the back of the proverbial assassin bus. Spider is a big buck who screams “CHAW!” whenever he throws a punch or kick. The final member of the team is Alexander, who brings his iguana and dresses in a shirt that’s more mesh than actual shirt – Assassin Couture, if you will. The boss baddie wants to see all the action, so he’s attached cameras to their headgear so he can relive the experience and use it in future “training exercises.”
By now you’re ripping your hair out for Billy Blanks, and rightly so! Blanks plays the stupidly named Justin Vanier (pronounced like he’s excited for his new vehicle: VAN YAY!).
Dear action film writers,
Please see the attached list of names you should never name the hero:
In fact, try to avoid giving the hero a first name at all. Or even a last name. All action heroes should just be a nickname and an attitude: Bullit, Cobra, Robocop, Lone Wolf, and Payback are perfect. Now make them either tough guys, sarcastic cops full of sass and street smarts or a cop on the edge, and you’ve got yourself a movie. NOW STFU AND BLOW SOME SHIT TO KINGDOM COME!
Your brother in Christ, Moe
Justin is approached by a couple agents (one of whom looks creepily like me) to go deep undercover in a virtual martial arts academy. Not virtual like the University of Phoenix online, but virtual like they do all their training in Virtual Reality. Remember Virtual Reality, kids? If you’re under 25 you don’t! There’s a reason for this: VR was a fucking joke, and the idea of doing VR that could hit back was technology they gave up on before it ever really took off. Anyway, Vanier’s contact in the academy is a painfully thick-accented man named Erik (Jalal Merhi, see the list above). Justin first meets Erik when he takes one of his classes and he appears to the students as a GIANT DISEMBODIED HEAD! GIANT MERHI HEAD!!!! This is all after Justin decides the best look for the first day of school would be to unzip BOTH windbreakers he’s wearing down to his belly button, and walk in with a well aired-out chest!
The technology in the VR training simulators is touted to be so advanced, one can experience any myriad of feelings and actions (even SEX!). All we’re shown of the training sequences seems to prove that the best they can do is make a world that looks like someone attended an all-night TWILIGHT themed rave-turned-orgy. Everyone sparkles so bright that you have to wear shades just to see the TV, but you still have no idea who’s fighting who. It doesn’t get any better when they eventually add multiple opponents to the trainer later in the film. It’s just one big sparkling ball!
While Justin’s infiltrating the VR school, the agents who originally approached him are left in charge of protecting the boss baddie’s newest target, the worst Jewish stereotype I’ve ever seen in a film not made by Woody Allen. A Goy by the name of Goldberg. He talks in a thick Yiddish accent, and you expect him to start complaining about money and express his love of lox and cream cheese-schmeared bagels. He complains non-stop and embodies every negative Jewish stereotype you can name. Though Goldberg never mentions it, you just KNOW he’s been henpecked by his mother since he was a young child to become a doctor and marry a “nice Jewish girl.” The assassin squad trains to kill Goldberg, and the boss baddie’s best advice to his men: “BE MORE STEALTHY!” Oh yeah? THANKS BOSS!
Once Erik realizes that Justin is his new contact, they break into the boss’ office and steal his files, making sure to save them of a 3.5” hard floppy disc! The height of technology! Even ROBOCOP pretended that information was stored on CDs. They couldn’t play pretend? This came out YEARS after ROBOCOP. The idiot chick, Vicki, who follows them into the restricted area, trips the alarm because she thinks they’re industrial spies. This sets off the third act of the film, which is ALL CLIMAX! The boys get caught and locked into the VR trainer and attacked by master level fighters. The simulator is being run by a man who looks so much like Billy Drago, we had to look it up to make sure it wasn’t. His name was Lazar Rockwood. An incredible name in its own right!
The next 30 minutes is chockfull of shoot-outs, car chases, ROCKETS, punch fighting, kicking, and the baddie going mad and giving one of the greatest scream speeches I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear:
“THE GOVERNMENT CAN KILL, WHY CAN’T I?!”
I ask myself this question every day!
Keep an eye out for Billy and the baddie ripping off each other’s shirts, in the hottest man-on-man climax this side of 1991. There are better films, and certainly better Billy Blanks films (I hear the second TAE BO film is a real nail-biter), but this is a fun, especially with a six pack of cheap swill and some good friends.
3 Virtual Reality Stars out of 5
Drink up! I’ve got movies to watch…
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