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Monday, May 2, 2011

Steele Justice

It was only a matter of time before a movie starring Martin Kove wound up on here. You may recognize him (supposing you don't already know, I will give you layman's examples) from Rambo: First Blood Part II, The Karate Kid and the TV show Cagney & Lacey. I present to you here one of his many and vastly mediocre yet somehow still vaguely entertaining bits of his film career with this 1987 outing titled Steele Justice. Check out the trailer:

I paid 99 cents for this, and if I were you I wouldn't pay more than that unless you are some sort of strange Martin Kove completist. I couldn't pass it up because I really like the ultimately cookie cutter and likely mostly direct to video genre of Vietnam Vet revenge movies. Here's a rundown of the plot to every one of these movies (there are deviations from this outline on occasion):

1. Footage of character in "Nam" showing his combat exploits
2. Flash forward to present day
3. Main character admits to buddy that "nothing has been right since Nam" because he is a shiftless alcoholic
4. Nam buddy/family member gets whacked by Vietnamese mafia or some such organization
5. Main character decides to start one man war, getting info along the way
6. Climactic showdown with main villain ending with main character finding peace and driving off.

I thought the way this was shot it was certainly direct to video, until of course I found this (anyone who saw this in a theater please chime in):

                                                     And this! WHAT?

The Nam flashback is this movie is somewhere beyond baffling. It begins with all these Special Forces badasses on hovercraft going to a rendezvous point. Hovercraft!?! I thought SF guys were supposed to the silent and sneaky? Whatever, its made in 1987 and hovercraft kick ass so I will let this one go as it starts the movie off as laughably ridiculous. This is followed by shots of them preparing their very high tech 80's looking weaponry and Steele and his buddy Lee being jovial and non serious badasses as they walk into a trap set by General Kwan (The main villain, played by Korean actor Soon Tek Oh- I don't think a single Vietnamese actor appears in the movie) that results in one of two reasons I keep this movie: A LIVE HAND GRENADE TAPED TO A RAT! Unfortunately I cannot find so much as an image of this, but its pretty self explanatory.

I won't bother to detail the plot, rife with quite a few face punches and whatnot. The cast in this movie however is another story. We have Bernie Casey, Ronny Cox (you may know him from Robocop and Total Recall), and even two alumni of Big Trouble In Little China: Peter Kwong and Al Leong (AKA the ULTIMATE 80's action movie "that guy" everybody recognizes but never knows his name)! Not bad for a bottom of the barrel action flick released on vhs by the oft dreaded Goodtimes Home Video, right? Oh yeah, there's even a cameo by 80's singer Astrid Plane. For those who's name with which this does not wring a bell, she was a vocalist in 80's group Animotion, known for two dereadful songs ("Obsession" and the lesser known "I Engineer"). Don't believe me? Watch this if you think you can stomach a shit sandwich:

Before I forget, Steele also carries around a "poisonous" snake named "three step". You get bitten and die three steps later...yawnnnnn. He loves the snake so much, he brandishes it at cops while like any self respecting drunken (and obviously partially crazy) Nam vet would do. We all know that showing a deadly poisonous snake to cops and explaining how if it should bite you you'll fucking die is absolutely NO way to avoid arrest last I checked. On a side note- I don't know much about snakes, but I do know that red black and yellow snakes that ARE poisonous can be easily spotted. "Red touch black, friend of Jack" anyone? I don't have to tell you what the snake I?

Like all competent 80's action flicks, this film also has the standard "hero works out and picks himself up out of the gutter" montage. Montages are pretty fucking lame, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Here its is, from a Spanish dubbed print. Just listen to the inspirational/awful jam on top of it:

I have to ask, what on earth does twirling left to right forcefully with a stick on your shoulders even work? The world may never know...

I have to be perfectly honest, I'm really not sure what to say about this movie really. Its a good get drunk and watch an action movie type of yarn. Oh yeah, there are some choice bits like when Steele gets kicked in the balls and drives his ex wife's truck through a bar as a result, and another great hand grenade related bit (Its the 2nd reason I keep this movie, I won't give the scene away!), lots of VERY wooden acting by practically all leading cast members- but that goes without saying- and a ridiculous bit with a warehouse shootout where Steele rides about like a right twat shooting everything in sight from some weird robobuggyguntruckwhatsisthingamajig. I am truly dumbfounded by this movie and I actually don't have any real idea why it is that I like it.


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