Sunday, 27 March 2011

DEATH RING (1992) Mike Norris

Before i go any further with my inane (poorly spelt) ramblings, may i take the time to apologise for not reviewing this classic movie sooner. DEATH RING is a stone cold classic (that my nephew and myself, never tire of watching) and it's also one of the rare cases of a movie that's better than a lot of the flicks it's (clearly) ripping off.

Matt Collins (Mike Norris, son of Chuck) is a decorated (yet unemployed) 'Special Forces Lieutenant' who has just won a televised 'Tough Guy endurance' competition...which (unfortunately for him) attracts the attention of perverse millionaire 'Danton Vachs' (Billy Drago, son of a bitch, i guess?)

('Self Explanatory' picture #1)

Vachs puts together human-hunting weekends for rich clients, and impressed by Matts stamina, thinks he's found the perfect prey for his next hunt (after a disappointing 'hunt' last year) Vachs (replete with Chinese henchwoman, Miss Ling) sends out his goons to capture Matt, and bring him to his island. What he doesn't know is, Matt is not only resourceful...but he's a 'Double-Hard Bastard' to boot!

("Fuck The Great Escape" thought Chad McQueen)

Oblivious to all of this, Matt is going through the usual routine "Poor me and my rich girlfriend" self-recriminating shit. Matt feels he should be the one 'bringing home the bacon' (so to speak) instead of his wealthy girlfriend Lauren. He has another shoulder to blubber on, in the shape of ex-army buddy 'Skylord' Harris (Chad McQueen, son of Steve) a laid back 'Bret Michaels' wannabe biker boy, who apparently is (quote) "Like all birds, clumsy on the ground...but in the air there's nobody better" and has also saved Matts life during combat service.

(Hey, even bad guys gotta 'date' too)

One softcore sex-scene later, both Matt and Lauren are kidnapped by Vach's goons and taken to meet their captor. Skylord gets on the case, rushing around town, doing the whole "Have you seen this tattoo" shamus shit, kicking a little ass, and forsaking the obligatory 'Playboy trimmage', on his quest to find his buddies.

(An unpleased Skylord is asked "Is that a gun in your pocket?")

Matt awakes on Vachs island, and is introduced to the hunters (a motley bunch of crude stereotypes) and is also reunited with Lauren, who will act as an incentive for him putting on a good chase for the hunters....who all introduce themselves at the dinner table:

Apache (Henry Kingi) a strong silent 'Red-Indian' type, who cites his specialist skills as "Apache". When asked "Is that it?".....He replies "It's enough!"

The Iceman (Victor Quintero) who simply introduces himself as "Soldier Of Fortune"

Mr Chen (George Kee cheung) ex KCIA (and chief decapitator from 'The Exterminator')

Mr Temple (Donegan Smith) a Casey Kasem looking attorney/infamous hunter/evil bastard

Mr Cross (Bramscombe Richard) a briefly glimpsed, rather pissed off hunter who makes the mistake of badmouthing Vach, mid-speech (no-one puts 'Billy' in the corner) and is promptly stabbed with a fork, before being kicked to death by Danton for his troubles.

(Vach gets 'Fork-in-Cross')

Eighteen kicks later (yep, i counted them) plus one more for luck Vachs has his two female bodyguards (Bambi & Thumper) to remove the body, before launching into another long winded Billy Drago-esque speech (replete with crazy hand gestures, and pseudo cod-psychology) and even has a 'weapons lottery', by drawing numbered balls and giving out (racially stereotypical) weapons to the hunters, and showing off the elusive prize for the winner....the FUCKING DEATH RING!!!!!! (Oh yeah!)

('Self Explanatory' picture #2)

The next morning, Matt is given a four hour head start by Vachs, but not before vowing to get back at his captor. Vachs promises to let Matt and Lauren walk free, as long as he "evades the hunters" But on a deserted island, Matt can run....but is unlikely to hide. During his headstart, we are treat to the hunters getting psyched up (Apache lights a fire and shouts war cries...Iceman lifts weights...Mr Chen and Temple swap some spiritual mumbo-jumbo, whilst meditating)

(Drago stipulated that only HE could move his hands, during dialogue)

Matt meanwhile (in true Rambo style) makes a few traps out of branches, and covers his face in dirt as camouflage (although his stonewashed 501's and bright green shirt may betray such noble intentions) Vachs has his hunters drink snakeblood, before launching into another incoherent ramble (but hey, this IS Billy Drago, afterall) before finally unleashing the hunters. Apparently Vachs has his hunters microphoned, so along with Miss Ling, he sits back in his mansion and listens to the carnage firsthand.

("Hips or Lips?")

First up, Mr Chen gets the drop on Matt. After much kung-foolery, the 'oriental gentleman' is caught in a makeshift trap and stabbed. A victorious Matt shouts more of the obligatory "I'm coming to get you" crapola to (an unimpressed) Vachs. Skylord putting the clues together back home and during his snooping, is kidnapped by a strange man (who, thankfully has no famous relatives) and turns out to be after Vachs himself. He forces a beat up goon (from pic #5) to spill the beans on Vachs island and sends Skylord off to find his friend.

(Well, i've gotta try attract female readers to this blog as well)

Wandering through the woods, Matt falls down a hole and is at first attacked and then befriended by John Blackwell (Don Swayze, brother of the late lamented Patrick) who explains that he's hid down the cavern, since evading the last lot of hunters. Problem is, Blackwell has injured his leg, but together the two 'huntee's' decide that two heads are better than one (even if Swayze's head looks like a 'shrunken' version of his brothers) and set out to turn the tables on the remaining hunters.

(and homosexual readers, also)

And along comes Apache (replete with tomahawk) races at Matt, and after much fuck-uppage is promptly skewered/murdered, in a scene likely to evoke memories of the cheyanne massacre from Soldier Blue. During another bout of "I'm gonna get you's" by Matt, Vachs overhears Blackwells voice, to which the injured huntee replies "Yeah, it's me...back from the dead and ready to kick your ass"

(Typical Republicans in '92'....hiding behind Bush)

Sensing the prey is imminent (a clearly insane) Mr Temple garrotes The Iceman (talk about 'helping the enemy') and takes his trademark machete before engaging in a battle with Matt. This sets the scene for some great metaphorical dialogue before the ruckus:

(The iceman Gonneth)

Temple "I've never lost at anything...not in law, not with women, not in games. I'm grateful for you being so skilled, it's kept me from my first failure"

Matt "Jury's still out on this case"

Temple "I've heard they reached a verdict" (before lunging with a huge machete)

(Temple proved to be a bit of a redneck)

Matt gets a few kicks in, but Temple starts to kick the shit out of him. Just as Temple moves in for the kill, Blackwell bashes the fuck out of the psychotic lawyers neck, thus saving Matts life (and inching closer to a man-o-mano with Vach at his island fortress)

(Yep, Ray Liotta and Michael Jackson DID breed)

Both Matt and Blackwell storm Vachs liar (making short shrift of the many guards) and hey look, Skylord pulls up in a fucking helicopter. I guess we can now expect a showdown between Matt and Vachs, and Lauren against Miss Ling? In a noble act of chivalry, Matt spares us a female rumble by kicking Miss Ling out the fucking window, before getting into a swordfight with Vach...resulting in much more 'rhubarb, rhubarb' from Drago, before a messy decapitation takes care of the perverted millionaire.

("Gillette...the best a perverted millionaire can get!")

Matt and Lauren are reunited, Skylord drops in to say hello. Old friends are reunited and new friends (i.e, Blackwell) are introduced. Just as all this shit seems tied up, Matt is suddenly attacked by Miss Fucking Ling (one tough bitch, she be) Lauren shoots her a new asshole despite my assertion that Matt Collins is indeed a "Double-Hard-Bastard"...he has (in fact) been saved from imminent death by nearly every good guy in this movie.

("Come to Drago's eaterie....Just $10 a head")

With Vachs island fortress loaded with explosions, and the good guys about to fly away to freedom, Matt leaves the safety of the helicopter and runs back to the mansion, but returns seconds later. Airbound and shit-eating grins aside, Lauren asks her intended why he went back to the mansion for. Matt lifts up his hand, and proudly announces "THE DEATH RING" (classic end to a classic movie...with a pay off rivaled only by Martin Kove's 'pour-beer-on-own-head' finale from 'Project Shadowchaser')


Death Ring may lack the budget of HARD TARGET, or the 'first-generation' cast of SURVIVING THE GAME...But for my money (which admittedly is paltry) DEATH RING is one the finest 'Most Dangerous Game' rip-offs out there. And a must for fans of STV movies, and Billy Drago completests everywhere (of which I am) For good solid storytelling, above average production values and performances, DEATH RING is one to 'Hunt' down (geddit...hunt....ha-ha-ha!...I made a funny!)

BTW, was it intentional to have characters named Mr Cross and Mr Blackwell in the same movie?.....I soupose it was....Ha-Ha..I'm on a (Bread) roll with the gags...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (cough, splutter, spits out cheap cider, etc)