Film Review: Gypsy (1990)

Release Date: October, 1990
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Carold Dickey, Amir Shervan
Music by: Alen Der Marderosian
Cast: Harold Diamond, Stuart Whitman, Delia Sheppard, Joselito Rescober

Rex Films, 101 Minutes

Review:

“I’m not a fighter. I’m a lover.” – Rose’s Father

This is the last of the five American films by Amir Shervan that I needed to review. I’m a fan of the guy’s work ever since seeing Samurai Cop and none of his films have really been disappointing, as I’m a big fan of this sort of schlock.

Gypsy is actually the most obscure of the five, even though they’re all pretty hard to track down if you’re not looking for them on Prime. Luckily, I was able to rent this one there and finally give it a watch.

Out of all the Shervan pictures from the States, this is the second worst, coming in ahead of Hollywood Cop. Yet it is still amusing and I really like his regulars Harold Diamond and Joselito Rescober, who actually plays his best character in this movie.

This is action packed, loaded with lots of glorious breasts and it fits well within Shervan’s patented style.

The plot is about a drifter type who brings war to a racist land baron and his minions, who have been exploiting migrant families. It’s got shades of Road House, Raw Deal, Delta Force 2 and Shervan’s other American flicks.

While most will deem this as a terrible movie. I have taste and I deem it as solid schlock with a lighthearted goofiness that makes it an entertaining and endearing experience.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: Amir Shervan’s other wonderful films.

***no trailer available***

Film Review: Rocky V (1990)

Release Date: November 16th, 1990
Directed by: John G. Avildsen
Written by: Sylvester Stallone
Music by: Bill Conti
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison, Richard Gant, Kevin Connolly, Tony Burton, Delia Sheppard, Burgess Meredith (cameo), Carl Weathers (archive footage), Dolph Lundgren (archive footage),

United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 104 Minutes

Review:

“Now, like your Mark Twain once said, ‘Virtue has never been as respectable as money.'” – George Washington Duke

I have never gotten the level of hatred that people have for Rocky V. Is it the best in the series? No. But I also don’t think that from a quality standpoint, it is anywhere below the later sequels III and IV. It actually has a great and important story and examines some areas of a boxer’s life and boxing as a sport that were probably long overdue in being explored in this long running film series. There is one big negative but I’ll get to that.

First, the film deals with Rocky Balboa getting brain damage after his bout with Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. It also deals with how athletes are often times taken advantage of by financial crooks, as we see Paulie give power of attorney to their accountant, who lost all their money in a failed scheme. Additionally, we get to see the crookedness of high profile boxing promoters with the character of George Washington Duke, who was an obvious caricature of Don King, who exploited several young boxers that he “owned” for his own personal monetary gain. Lastly, the film deals with a boxer and his relationship with his family and also with his personal struggles when his career is over. Rocky V is a film with a lot of layers, all of which I found to be interesting.

And that’s the thing. You could say that there is too much going on in Rocky V from a narrative aspect but I like that the film addresses these issues, shows them play out naturally and doesn’t have to spell everything out for the audience or beat them over the head with each issue. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the challenges as they appear and to understand that ultimately, Rocky has always had what he needs most and that the solution is simply embracing the love in your life.

Rocky V may be cheesy at points but aren’t most of the Rocky films to some degree? Balboa is a good hearted guy always ready to crack a bad joke and those characteristics have sort of become larger than Balboa in the films themselves. Plus, by the time you get into the later films, Paulie just adds in his own sense of humor that keeps the later sequels grounded in lightheartedness even with serious subject matter.

This film also brings the original creative team of the first Rocky back together. John G. Avildsen returns to direct, Bill Conti is back on the music and ultimately, it works well to recreate the poor area of Philadelphia that Rocky, Adrian and Paulie rose out of but now have to return to. The addition of Burgess Meredith, even as a ghostly cameo, is a nice nod to the first film and brings things full circle, which was good considering that this was the last film in the series for sixteen years.

The big negative I mentioned before is Tommy Morrision, who played the boxer Tommy Gunn. The character starts as Rocky’s protege but decays into a puppet for the sinister George Washington Duke and thus, becomes Rocky’s big opponent at the end. The problem with Morrison is that he is a real boxer and not an actor. Rocky films work better with actors as the rivals. Imagine if Apollo Creed was played by George Foreman or Larry Holmes, it just wouldn’t have worked as well. Also, I felt the same way about Antonio Tarver in the sixth film and Tony Bellew in Creed. None of these guys had the impact of Apollo, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago. Plus, Morrison’s line delivery was really painful at times.

While people knock the street fight at the end of the film, I’m fine with it. We’ve seen Rocky in the ring more than a half dozen times. Seeing him take it to the streets and embracing his roots against a jacked up farm boy was kind of cool.

I think that Rocky V came out in a time when the franchise sort of ran its course. It was the fifth film in 14 years. Plus, there was solid competition when it came out, so it didn’t perform well. Critics weren’t crazy about it but they aren’t crazy about most movies. I think people shit on Rocky V because it’s fun to shit on something that everyone hates. But I think it is more about following the crowd and not really about the movie. People just parrot each other’s sentiment and comments without much actual thought of their own but that’s why we always end up with shitty presidential candidates. But I’ll stop there and not go on some political rant.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Rocky films.

Film Review: Young Rebels (1989)

Release Date: November 1989
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Amir Shervan
Music by: Alan DerMarderosian
Cast: John Greene, Tadashi Yamashita, Robert Z’Dar, Aldo Ray, Joselito Rescober, Delia Sheppard

Rex Films, Cinema Epoch, 93 Minutes

Review:

Amir Shervan created magic, probably unintentionally, when he made Samurai Cop. Another one of his films, Killing American Style, was perfect for all the wrong reasons. As I am working through as much of his filmography as I can, I have gotten to Young Rebels. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the awesomeness of the aforementioned motion pictures.

This doesn’t mean it is bad. Well, it is bad but it is fantastic bad. But not as fantastic bad as the others.

In this movie, a guy owes some mobsters some money. He gets his bad ass brother involved. The deadbeat non-payer gets murdered. Brother then gets really angry and with his friends, decides it’s time to take the mobsters down.

The style and tone of the film is really consistent with Shervan’s Killing American Style. It also features Robert Z’Dar, which is always a plus. Now the movie is humorous but not as much as the later released and way more famous Samurai Cop.

If you are a fan of other Shervan flicks, you will probably enjoy this one enough to give it a watch. It just doesn’t have the magic of the other Shervan pictures I’ve seen before this.

I’m hoping the few that I still have to watch are closer to Killing American Style and Samurai Cop. So far, I’ve been happy with his pictures, even if this one was a bit weak by comparison.

Rating: 6/10

*Unfortunately, there isn’t even a trailer for this online. This is the best I could find to give you a taste of the movie.

 

Film Review: Killing American Style (1990)

Release Date: 1990
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Amir Shervan
Music by: Alan DerMarderosian
Cast: Jim Brown, Robert Z’Dar, Harold Diamond, Joselito Rescober, John Lynch, Veronica Paul, Jimmy Williams, Delia Sheppard (uncredited)

Rex Films, Cinema Epoch, 90 Minutes

Review:

After having revisited Samurai Cop and seeing its sequel Samurai Cop 2, as well as recently revisiting Miami Connection and a lot of Cannon Films’ action pictures, I wanted to keep that vibe alive. So I figured I would check out one of Amir Shervan’s (director of the first Samurai Cop) other pictures.

Considering that Killing American Style featured both Robert Z’Dar and Jim Brown had me interesting in watching this movie first. It also features Joselito Rescober (the gay waiter in Samurai Cop) in a much larger role as a Japanese doctor. The film also stars Harold Diamond, who I guess was a regular in Shervan’s bizarre yet fun pictures.

Let me start by saying that this film is no Samurai Cop. That being said, I still loved it for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is Robert Z’Dar. I love him in just about everything but never has he been this great. He was damn committed to the role of Tony Stone and he sold it hard. Maybe too hard but he knew what kind of film this was and it called for some over the top insanity. Z’Dar delivered in every conceivable way and this may be his magnum opus. It is refreshing seeing him really come alive and push the envelope, especially as his character here is the complete opposite of his most famous role, the title character in the Maniac Cop film series. He isn’t a silent hulking giant any longer. Here, he is a loud and brash criminal douchebag.

Another thing I love about this is seeing Joselito Rescober be more than a funny bit character with a cameo. While he isn’t as funny as the waiter in Samurai Cop he is still enjoyable as Dr. Fuji and he had some good moments.

I also really liked Harold Diamond. He was a good hero for this sort of film and even though he is immobilized, for a brief stint in the movie, he isn’t some pussy even with his family’s lives in danger. He never stops trying to defeat his home invaders. His son is also awesomely hilarious.

The rest of the cast between the family members living in the house and the criminals who invaded their home, are all pretty good. Yes, this is a poorly acted ham and cheese festival but all of these people nail their roles in just the right way.

While this isn’t as great as Samurai Cop and certainly doesn’t have its cult following, it exists in the same vein as that film. It is another superb outing from Amir Shervan but his movies aren’t for everyone. You have to be a big fan of over the top, mostly insane, cheesy yet testosterone-filled 80s action flicks.

In fact, it is great that these movies remained mostly undiscovered until now. It is like reliving the feeling of seeing something like this for the first time back when I was a kid bin-diving in mom and pop video stores in the 80s and 90s.

Rating: 8/10