Episode 22 - Back in Action (1993)
While Chris is away on tour Mike is joined by Corey G from the 1980's Movie Graveyard Podcast to talk about the first of two pairings between Roddy Piper and Billy Blanks (Yes, Tae Bo Billy Blanks).
Back in Action is a great example of the direct-to-video action genre of the early 1990's. As action movies of the 1980's slowly faded from theaters the demand was filled in the lucrative VHS market and overseas distribution that found viewers hungry for cheesy action with as little plot as possible.
Believe it or not, Billy Blanks was the reason this particular film was made. His previous effort TC 2000 was a huge success overseas and the producers decided to bring back him and co-star Bobbie Phillips for another outing - this time pairing him with the semi-successful actor and WWE Superstar Wrestler, Roddy Piper.
Surprisingly Piper and Blanks make a decent onscreen duo. While they certainly can't act, their action scenes and onscreen chemistry are quite good - it even led to a followup pairing in 1995's Tough and Deadly.
What makes this film so odd is that it spends the first thirty minutes establishing a plot with multiple story lines and characters only to forget about them in lieu of more action scenes. The last 50 minutes of this 90 minute adventure is basically just action/fight scenes with almost no setup and certainly no story to compliment it. At one point Billy Blanks breaks down the door of a bordello and kicks everyone's ass only to never be mentioned or referenced again and has zero effect on the plot.
There are two director's credits for this film and it's my own personal theory that someone was fired at some point during production. It really feels like two different movies - one with story and tension and the other with fight scenes. They mesh together to make a bizarre concoction that's at least worth a viewing.
The most jarring thing about the film is a number of scenes that are literally unfinished. A gun fight at a warehouse simply ends in the middle of shots being fired and is the first time the two characters team up and work together. Afterwards Billy Blanks has disappeared and Roddy Piper is back in the police station watching himself on the news. Will we ever find out what happened to Billy that night? No. Not even a line of ADR was included to fill in the gaps.
If you're a fan of action movies I recommend watching this film. You can find the whole thing for free on YouTube or you can order the Region 2 DVD from Amazon. It's not the best movie I've ever seen but it's a fun ride that's worth a viewing - especially for free.
NEXT WEEK'S FILM
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: Joe Don Baker, Leif Green, Jim Greenleaf