DVD Review: Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two

Action films are like Cheese Doodles. Both are so easy to binge when you’re trapped on the sofa. After the second bag, people just loose count of the handfuls shoveled into their mouths. They only realize how long they’ve been munching away when they realize wonder when they bought new orange gloves. A good dumb action flick delivers wave of chases, shoot outs and explosions to massage the mind in bombast. One can only ask for more excess when presented an eyeful of cinematic mayhem. Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two goes beyond the films starring Chuck, Bruce, Arnold and Sly. This quartet of films gives the firepower of Gary Busey, Jim Mitchum, James Iglehart and Connie Stevens.

Sometimes you watch a movie for the wrong reason and find yourself still enjoying it. Such was the case of Bulletproof (1988 – 94 minutes). My old film school was getting prepared for a visit from Production Designer Rando Schmook (Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie). His co-hort Dane Krogman mentioned that Rando had worked on Bulletproof. This was great since we had a print of it in the archive. We dragged it out for a quality control screening before the big night. Dane sat in front of us howling through out the action film that featured Gary Busey as McBain, a cop who picks bullets out of his skin. After the movie was over, Dane came over to explain that Rando had done the Adam Sandler movie called Bulletproof. We were saved the strangeness of paying tribute to a visiting filmmaker with the wrong film. However Gary Busey’s Bulletproof is a much more enjoyable movie than Sandler’s forgotten dud. Busey is properly over the top in his role as a cop that used to be a CIA operative. He has to battle terrorists that swiped an outrageous attack vehicle. The film is loaded with familiar faces including Henry Silva (Ocean’s Eleven), Thalmus Rasulala (Blacula), L.Q. Jones (The Wild Bunch), René Enríquez (Hill Street Blues), Mills Watson (The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo) and William Smith (Hawaii Five-O). Busey’s McBain character is where The Simpsons came up with their McBain.

Bamboo Gods & Iron Men (1974 – 95 minutes) features the subgenre of Blaction Kung Fu without starring Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones). James Iglehart is the man on a mission with the chops to defend himself. This is the middle of the Iglehart’s trilogy of work with Cirio H. Santiago, the Roger Corman of the Philippines. Savage! and Death Force bookend their co-ventures. Santiago had American International distribute this film. You can tell that this movie was made in the Philippines since there’s a small role for Vic Diaz (The Big Bird Cage) as a hotel clerk. You didn’t get permits to shoot a film in Manila without giving Vic a role. Inglehart is on a mission to track down a Buddha statue that’s carrying a dangerous substance in its belly. There’s plenty of action and even a strange semi-black face finale.

Trackdown (1976 – 98 minutes) bring a urban cowboy action to the marathon. Karen Lamm leaves the family ranch to seek her dream in Hollywood. Little does she know that Erik Estrada (CHiPs) will crush her aspirations. She foolishly doesn’t get a cab and check into a hotel after arriving. Instead she hits a hotdog stand with her luggage visible. This gives Estrada a chance to engineer his gang to rob her. Then he acts like a white knight getting her hooked up with a job and a place to sleep in Los Angeles. But there is a price for his generosity. She ends up being a hooker and working with Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction) in the oldest profession. Anne lets her know that a lot of famous actresses were hookers. Lamm is intrigued that this might be a stepping stone to a role on Cannon. Her brother (The Moonrunners‘ Jim Mitchum) comes to town wanting to see how she’s doing. This leads to him using all his frontier skills to track down Estrada and his sister. Helping him navigate the city streets is Cathy Lee Gifford (That’s Incredible). Mitchum’s bushy mustache makes him looks less like his dad (Thunder Road‘s Robert Mitchum) and more like Ron Swanson. Ultimately this movie comes off like a sleazy episode of McCloud. Kenny Rogers does the end credit song to make things more wholesome.

Scorchy (1976 – 94 minutes) dares us to believe Connie Stevens (Hawaiian Eye) is America’s top undercover cop. She’s out to bust a major drug ring that’s operating out of Seattle. There’s even footage of the old Kingdome to establish the city. One of the bad guys is played by the reliable tough guy William Smith (Bulletproof). He looks perfect in a priest disguise while making a major deal. Oddly enough there’s another tie in to a movie in the boxset when a Buddha statue plays a key role in the investigation. Stevens proves herself a double threat by playing her character as a blond and a brunette. The movie seems like something Connie’s character would request as her dream on Fantasy Island. Mr. Rourke doing his best to make her feel like a solo Charlie’s Angel. But if you can accept it as a cheesy ’70s action film. The ending does its best to make the movie extra gritty.

Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two really does a fine job of bringing together a quartet of semi-explosive fun. These are four semi-obscure titles that are bound to please those who enjoy their action over the top from non-superheroes. Just remember to make sure Rando Schmook know you’re not showing his version of Bulletproof because Busey’s Bulletproof is so much better.

The video is 1.85:1 for Bulletproof and Bamboo Gods & Iron Men. Trackdown is letterboxed full frame. Scorchy is full frame. The transfers on all the films are fine. The audio is Dolby Digital mono for all the movies except Bulletproof which is Dolby Digital stereo. You’ll want that extra speaker to take in the beauty of Busey.

No bonus features.

Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two is worth the price just to savor Gary Busey’s performance in Bulletproof. But things get better when you have Erik Estrada as a street hustler, Connie Stevens being a secret agent and Vic Diaz working the front desk. It’s a fine quartet for watching when you want to remain on the sofa all day long.

Shout! Factory presents Action-Packed Movie Marathon Volume Two. Starring: Gary Busey, Henry Silva, James Iglehart, Vic Diaz, Erik Estrada, Anne Archer, William Smith and Connie Stevens. Boxset Contents: 4 movies on 2 DVDs. Rating: R. Released: November 12, 2013.

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