Well the quarantine rages one! So naturally I’m taking advantage of the situation by watching as many cool movies as I can get my hands on! I checked out some pretty excellent Japanese movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s the other night and I won the jackpot as somehow BOTH movies delivered the damn goods! I mean that rarely ever happens when blindly grabbing two oddball movies I’ve never heard anything about.
First up was was 1988’s “Cyber Ninja”, which obviously by the title showed some true promise! This wild sci-fi action film tells the story of a cyborg ninja who’s battling an evil empire that uses giant dinosaur like robots along with a gang of robotic ninja’s of their own to wreak havoc upon a kingdom of samurai warriors. Yeah basically that’s the story, nothing fancy here just a bunch of wild action and robot ass kicking for a lean 80 minutes. There’s some cool martial arts as well and really sweet robot designs at play here that mix feudal japanese elements into their look. There’s these giants mechs in particular that have a sort of Japanese tree house melded as the control center, kinda of like a play on a Star Wars ATST walker. There’s also a ton of that ultra colorful hand painted laser/electricity/energy blasts fx that accompany the martial arts mayhem. It’s a ton of fun and it seems this was perhaps an inspiration for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? The movie was release by Namco, which later merged with Bandai, both famous for their video games. Cyber Ninja is must watch if you dig weird, 80’s action and fantasy stuff & was great little viewing surprise that doesn’t require your attention span to be in full swing either.
Next was 1991’s Mikadroid, also known as “Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disoclub Layla”. With a title like that you know you’re at the least in for something quite unusual and yeah it brings quite an intriguing little tale of terror to the screen. It’s super lean run time of 73 minutes also makes it much less of a commitment and the perfect companion to Cyber Ninja in more than one way. I’d say at it’s core, it’s really more of a horror movie, and go as far to even call it a “proto-slasher”. It follows a World War II soldier who was experimented on along with two others for a super soldier program.
However they went a step further in a secret underground bunker to transform him into a cyborg/droid and ends up looking like something straight out of a Hellboy comic. We flash forward to 1991 to a discoclub that was built on top the hidden bunker where some electrical issues awaken the WWII super solder robot from his long slumber (I guess a real Captain America kind of thing going on here more than I originally realized). The droid heads up into the parking garage where he conducts his killing spree on the oh so stylin’ Japanese party animals after their wild nights of drinkin’ and dancing the night away.
This movie’s certainly a unique slice early 90’s cinema. It’s quite beautifully shot as well as having a pretty kick ass looking robot and some really stunning underground locations. I was hoping for a bit more from some of the kills but the strange story is the true highlight. Enough so that this little oddity by it’s end unfolds into something truly unique for it’s time and relative obscurity. Released by Toho, it was originally intended to be a full on horror film for the straight to video Japanese Market. Originally set to be a a zombie horror film having the WWII soldier an undead killer instead of a robot . The day before filming began a child murderer was arrested, who had an open passion for horror films, and it resulted in almost all horror movies being essentially blacklisted from production at the time. The film’s plot was frantically reworked into a “sci-fi” film while still keeping the basic premise intact. That all being said, the changes made I think likely added to the movie’s bizarre but ambitious plot. If you go into the movie with few expectations you’ll find a truly charming little feature that firmly lands it in a league of it’s own for the time.
So way back in 1988 Hong Kong had their own awesome version of Robocop, an ass kickin’ lady cyborg named Maria! Yes, the action/sci-fi flick ‘I Love Maria’ aka ‘Roboforce’ is easily one of the best 80’s movies I’ve seen coming from that region of the world since I started going down the rabbit hole of odd ball Hong Kong cinema a while ago. I must admit, a lot of Hong Kong films during that era are usually pretty hit or miss, many with confusing, nonsensical plots & often weird slapstick potty humor that likely loses something in the often rudimentary english translation provided. However ‘I Love Maria’ definitely hits the right beats on the humor, action & plot to make it stand out as not merely a foreign remake of Robocop but a uniquely charming little sci-fi adventure all of it’s own. The plot’s indeed pretty outrageous, but to a large degree that’s what makes it a so much damn fun. It’s also filled with some memorable characters that at the end of the day, leave you with some warm fuzzy feelings about friendship & the importance of true camaraderie. So what’s it all about you ask?
So the vicious “Hero Gang”, is a downright nasty criminal terrorist organization (I know odd name for the gang then huh?), hell bent on wreaking all out havoc upon the streets of Hong Kong with their unstoppable killer robots: Pioneers 1 and 2! While Pioneer 1’s a giant hulking armored unit, Pioneer 2’s been modeled after “Maria“, the Hero Gang’s devious second in command. When Pioneer 2 gets damaged during a secret assassination mission, it’s taken into the custody of a curious hi-tech weapons inventor employed by the police force named “Curly”. He secretly repairs & reprograms her with new coding that triggers changes to her logic center. Pioneer 2 begins to develop her own unique heroic personality and soon Curly finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly battle against The Hero Gang. Banding together with a drunken ex-gang member named “Whisky” & “T.Q.”, a bumbling news camera man, the four of them embark on a dangerous mission with the fate of Hong Kong in the palm of their hands!
‘I Love Maria’ is a must see for fans of odd 80’s sci fi, the three main human characters have some great chemistry together, one of which is cult director Tsui Hark (Detective Dee, Double Team, Once Upon a Time In China), who hams it up thoroughly as the heroic alcoholic ‘Whisky’. The special effects work is pretty stunning as well, especially when it comes to Maria battling the ‘Pioneer 1’ robot. They bash though walls, fire rocket launchers for their arms and fling eachother around like rag dolls on the streets of Hong Kong. They never skimp on spectacle here either as there’s a plethora of explosions, Hi-tech weaponry, martial arts battles, car chases & of course awesome robot beat downs to behold here. There’s also a pretty interesting duo of villains, the brother & sister leaders of The Hero Gang who also happen to be in love. Throw in “Mr. Vampire” himself, Lam Ching Ying in the mix to showcase his always amazing kung fu and you’ve got yourself a frenetic sci-fi action flick here that never lets up.
That all being said the real star of the show is clearly the charismatic cyborg Maria, who not only lights up the screen with her robotic butt kicking but also with her curious charm. A largely forgotten rad 1980s female action hero that more people need to discover. Hunt this one down, especially if you dig over the top, 80’s, sci-fi action stuff that really fires on all cylinders: unique characters, stunning practical fx, sets, locations and just pure cybernetic mayhem a’ plenty . Stick around all the way through the end credits as well, where you’ll some of the sweetest scenes of the movie. Someone needs to jump on releasing and cleaning up some of the amazing Hong Kong horror/sci-fi stuff out there from the 80’s & 90’s, there’s so many forgotten, rarely seen gems for fans of cult cinema in the USA. Until then this one’s actually pretty hard to find, but definitely worth the effort!
One of more popular posts this year here at Universal Dork was one where I ask the question of the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate, where the HELL is Edward Furlong?! The movie hyped as a direct sequel to T2 had two of the key players locked down with the return of Linda Hamilton and of course Arnold. However Eddy was NO where in sight. Yesterday at San Diego Comic Con though James Cameron confirmed some HUGE news for Terminator fans-Edward Furlong will be returning as John Connor!! The original John Connor, is the one missing piece to the nostalgic puzzle and now Edward will possibly get a second chance to shine. As most know, Furlong has had a LOT of troubles with drug addiction and has spent a lot of time recently in treatment. News lately though shows him looking a lot more more trim and in a much better frame of mind. Go Eddie!! It appears he’s cleaned up his act and just might get his ‘Robert Downey Jr’ moment this year.
To be honest the first ‘Terminator: Date Fate’ trailer didn’t impress me, even though it seemed to be trying to pull hard on nostalgic heartstrings. It was full of sloppy CGI and had some oddly placed music that surely didn’t help to make it stand out from recent ‘phoned in’ blockbuster sequels. With the news of Furlong’s return however it just upped the ante for old school Terminator fans and given me a reason to get interested again. Now we can only speculate just what his role will be and how big. My guess, maybe he appears in the end of the movie, perhaps like Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens?
Hopefully he’s utilized in a real way, there’s been rumors that John Connor will be dead in this new installment to make room for strong female characters to shine. I hope that’s not the reason why he might not have a larger role. I love strong female characters, but first and foremost let’s not make the same mistake the Star Wars sequel trilogy has made so far. Pushing the classic characters into the back ground so early on has been a major bummer for fans. People want the original characters to shine again because they still resonate with us and if they’re going to pass the torch to a younger or female generation do it the right way. Let’s see the originals get good quality screen time and work the new characters in slowly. I’m not holding my breath though because more often than not Hollywood has shown time and time again that when it comes to modern sequels to beloved movies they simply just don’t understand what the fans really want to see.
Anyway I’ve totally got my fingers crossed for Edward Furlong to make a big return to cinema and really hope they utilize the real John Connor in a truly memorable way. The original trio united! The news of Edward’s return has now put ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ fully back on my radar. My interest is peaking!! Here’s some new footage as well that was released at Comic Con! What do you think about it all?
I just checked out this trailer (released today) for the upcoming “Banana Splits” feature length film!! I know a lot of people out there don’t have any idea what hell a The Banana Splits are, but being someone who was born in the 1970’s (it aired from 1968-1970) I saw lots of this one on reruns!
Before the success of “H.R. Pufnstuf,” (who most probably don’t know what that is either anymore) Sid and Marty Krofft cooked up this wacky, live action, slightly psychedelic puppet themed Hanna-Barbera children’s series. Its theme tune, “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” is still iconic amongst many who grew up in the 1960’s, 70’s and even the 80’s. Check this original footage out from the show, it’s clearly perfect to inspire a horror flick:
Well this new trailer is quite a welcome surprise, I’ve always kinda thought the characters from the tv show were slightly creepy and it seems someone else was in agreeance. The Banana Splits are now entering the horror genre and I’d guess it must be because for years there’s been talk of a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” live action horror movie that’s been in developmental hell. So hey why not let the Banana Splits steal the damn spotlight? It looks like they’re maybe mechanical / animatronic puppets like Chuck E. Cheese or the “Showbiz Pizza dudes” who are also creepy as hell! I’m all for this and I think the trailer looks like a ton of fun! My childhood nostalgia has returned via the SyFy network(?!) to possibly quench my horror movie thirst! Check it out!!
Dang!! It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve actually been looking forward to a new ‘Terminator’ movie, but with the release of these new photos of Linda Hamilton back as the one and only ‘Sarah Connor’ excitement has finally officially set in! Check these out from the upcoming James Cameron produced, 6th film in the franchise.
At 61 years old Linda Hamilton looks as bad ass as ever and actually looks even more imposing than she did back in 1991. This a huge boost for people who’ve been disgruntled about the movies since Terminator 2 and raises a lot of questions about what exactly this story will indeed really be about. As time travel is a focal point of the franchise it seems like the possibilities are really endless & anyone’s guess.
I’m hoping that Arnold’s role will be that of the T-800’s designer, who made the killing machine in his own image. That’d be awesome to see his character this time around the dude that needs to be saved. So as truly great as Linda looks back in her original role I’m compelled again to ask WHAT ABOUT EDWARD FURLONG?
Was he ever considered for the ‘John Connor’ role in this upcoming movie? I know the guy has seen some tough times over the years, but damn would I love to see him get in shape, clear his mind and make a killer comeback ala Robert Downey Jr!
Well the big Terminator news this week is that Linda Hamilton will be returning to franchise to kick some butt in the next film produced by James Cameron & directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). This seems like great news for old fans as it also appears Arnold will return as well. I’m not quite sure if Arnold will be “The Terminator” this time around, I’m hoping they’ll cast him finally as the dude who the T-800’s human image was based upon. Whatever the case it seems that Hamilton & Arnold aren’t going to be cast in the leads either as Cameron is looking for an 18 year old woman to lead the reunited cast. This all sounds fine and dandy, BUT it’s clear there’s one thing missing….Edward Furlong dammit!!
Yeah, so I know he’s a bit of a hot mess it seems these days and his star power has severely faded into obscurity. However I think it’s come time for Furlong to get his shit together and get back in the game. I mean let’s really complete the reunion! I have a hunch fans would LOVE to see him back in the role of John Connor and this movie role might be the one thing that can get him to turn things around. But it seems that over the years he’s had some serious drug problems and domestic abuse issues which could get in the way of any future Terminator related roles. The same type of thing happened apparently with Nick Stahl who appeared as Connor in Terminator 3.
I’m not sure how people would feel about it or if perhaps Cameron doesn’t want to let the guy have a chance because of his severely troubled history. I for one think it could be a good thing, if indeed Ed could prove he was ready to start making some positive life choices. It would certainly add that additional hype and seriously up the nostalgia factor for franchise fans. I mean he’s only 40 years old, though he’s got a lot of cleaning up and exercising to do, the last I saw him he looked quite overweight. But still with the others joining the cast it would just feel right to get him on board…What do you think? Is is too late for Edward Furlong?
Hey here we are again for the second installment of The Best of the Box where I’m listing some of the best VHS box cover art of all time! Well this time I’m showcasing Mutant Hunt, which is a pretty fucking hilariously awful movie from 1987. However they really did the right thing when hired the artist for this one. As a kid I’d alway dug this one, but it wasn’t until more recently that I actually saw the movie. Cyborgs were the shit in the 1980’s and with the success of The Terminator it seemed that everyone and their uncle was trying to cash in on the man machine phenomena! Track this one down and watch with a rowdy group you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover in this case!