Film Review: Megaforce (1982)

Also known as: Supertroepen (Netherlands)
Release Date: June 25th, 1982
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: James Whittaker, Albert S. Ruddy, Hal Needham, Andre Morgan, Robert S. Kachler
Music by: Jerrold Immel
Cast: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Persis Khambatta, Edward Mulhare, George Furth, Henry Silva

Golden Harvest Company, Northshore Investments, 99 Minutes

Review:

“It’s all on the wheel, it all comes around.” – Ace Hunter

Megaforce is a really bad movie but it’s a really bad movie that I enjoy because the over-the-top performances are wonderful and the film doesn’t appear to be taking itself too seriously.

This was an international co-production with the US and Hong Kong super studio Golden Harvest, who were known primarily for their martial arts films and especially those starring Jackie Chan.

The premise is pretty simple. It’s just a mix of being a Mad Max clone with Japanese tokusatsu influences, as it features a super task force with cool vehicles and uniforms that very much look like a product of their very dated time.

The film stars an interesting trio of leads between Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck and Indian actress and goddess, Persis Khambatta.

At the time Bostwick was an up and coming leading man mostly known for his roles in television and the cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Beck was mostly known for his leading role in The Warriors. Khambatta was mostly known by American audiences for being the bald alien woman in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and her appearances in many high profile pageants like Miss Universe.

This film is really a mixed bag of coolness and hokiness. Additionally, it’s special effects are also a mixed bag. In their case, they’re a mix of solid miniature work, solid action shots and then really awful greenscreen sequences like the flying motorcycle scene. I think the positives actually outweigh the negatives but man, that motorcycle scene really diminishes the great effects work that the film showcases in most effects heavy sequences.

Megaforce is goofy but also endearing in spite of its faults. If you feel like you want to check it out, there is a RiffTrax version, which you may find more enjoyable.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s dystopian future/post-apocalyptic movies.

Film Review: Body Slam (1986)

Release Date: November 21st, 1986 (limited)
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: Shel Lytton, Steve Burkow
Music by: John D’Andrea, Michael Lloyd
Cast: Dirk Benedict, Tanya Roberts, Roddy Piper, Lou Albano, Barry Gordon, Charles Nelson Reilly, Billy Barty, John Astin, Sam Fatu, Sydney Lassick, Afa Anoai, Sika Anoai, Kellie Martin, Sione Vailahi, Tijoe Khan, Freddie Blassie, Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino

Musifilm Productions, Hemdale Film Corporation, 89 Minutes

Review:

It amazes me that I never saw this movie as a kid and I didn’t even know of its existence until I heard someone talking about the wrestler cameos on a wrestling podcast I regularly listen to.

I guess I have to assume that this wasn’t on the shelves in the dozens of mom and pop video stores I spent time in during my childhood. I mean, there’s no way I would’ve overlooked it back then.

The film stars Dirk Benedict, a guy I loved from one of my favorite shows at the time, The A-Team. It also stars one of my favorite wrestlers, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, as well as a slew of other WWF wrestlers from the time. Plus, it also has a few cameos from a bunch of wrestling legends.

Beyond that, you’ve got Tanya Roberts, who I have been crushing on ever since The Beastmaster, as well as Charles Nelson Reilly, John Astin, Billy Barty, Kellie Martin and an underappreciated character actor I’ve always enjoyed, Sydney Lassick.

So the cast is pretty good or at least, interesting. However, the story has a weaker foundation than a house of sticks in a flood zone. For the most part, everything in this movie just feels kind of random and not much makes sense.

That being said, I still enjoy some sequences in the film but most of those usually just deal with the wrestlers I grew up loving, playing versions of themselves doing wonky ass shit.

After getting to the end of the movie, I wasn’t really sure what the point of it was. It seems like it was a tailor made picture just to include the very charismatic Piper and his wrestling buds and really, there’s nothing else here.

That’s not to say I didn’t like Dirk Benedict. He was fine with what he had to work with but I do feel like he was wasted in this and it could’ve possibly torpedoed any real attempt at a movie career after The A-Team.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other goofy B-movies from the ’80s. Also, anything starring ’80s wrestlers.

Film Review: Rad (1986)

Also known as: Hell Track (Philippines English title, Australia), BMX Hellriders (Finland)
Release Date: March 21st, 1986 (limited)
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: Geoffrey Edwards, Sam Bernard
Music by: James Di Pasquale
Cast: Bill Allen, Lori Loughlin, Talia Shire, Ray Walston, Jack Weston, Bart Conner

TaliaFilm II Productions, TriStar Pictures, 91 Minutes

Review:

“God, what I wouldn’t give to go ass-sliding with you right now.” – Cru

This was a VHS box cover that I used to see all the time in mom and pop video shops when I was a kid. I always thought it was probably a cool flick but I always passed it up for ninja movies, horror and action flicks from Cannon. I had priorities back then.

So I just watched this for the first time and I had no idea that it actually had some people of note in it like Talia Shire, Ray Walston and Lori Loughlin.

Beyond that, it mostly stars young actors and kids, as the story revolves around a teen that is trying to win a major BMX race, it’s hefty prize and the respect of his town, mother and BMX rivals.

It’s also a movie with a pretty solid ’80s pop tunes soundtrack. While that was pretty common back then, the music really fit the scenes well in this. I listened through the soundtrack after watching the movie and it’s probably one of the best assembled for its time.

Another surprise about the film is that I had no idea that Hal Needham directed it. For those that don’t know, he’s one of Burt Reynolds’ best buds and directed him in Smokey and the Bandit and its first sequel, as well as Hooper, The Cannonball Run I and II, Stroker Ace and Hard Time: Hostage Hotel.

All that being said, this is still pretty mediocre, as a total package. The film is enjoyable but you’ve probably really got to have deep nostalgia for ’80s teen movies, as well as “extreme” sports like BMX racing.

The action stuff is pretty well done but Needham spent a big part of his career filming great car stunts, chases and races. Here, he takes that same formula and just translates it to BMX bikes.

I definitely can’t call this a classic but it fits well with similar films of the time that involved BMX kids and skaters.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other BMX, Skating and surfing movies of the ’80s.

Film Review: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Release Date: May 27th, 1977
Directed by: Hal Needham
Written by: James Lee Barrett, Charles Shyer, Alan Mandel
Music by: Bill Justis, Jerry Reed
Cast: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, Macon McCalman

Rastar, Universal Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.” – Sheriff Buford T. Justice

Smokey and the Bandit is one of those pop culture things that was huge and often times talked about when I was a kid. Granted, I wasn’t born until the end of 1978 but this was a film that I couldn’t escape, as it spawned a few sequels and was so beloved that it was on television and VHS everywhere I looked. But justifiably so, because there is just something bad ass and cool about Burt Reynolds, especially with Jerry Reed as his partner and Jackie Gleason in hot pursuit. Not to mention the charming charisma of Sally Field.

While this is a massively cherished movie, I personally don’t see it as a classic worthy of the highest levels of esteem. Is it fun? You bet your ass. It is also hilarious, at times, and the characters are all pretty lovable. All that aside though, it’s not a great movie. Well, not great in the sense that it should be a true cinematic classic.

The action is better than decent but it isn’t anything exceptional. It really plays like an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard except it is a feature length picture. As a kid, I certainly enjoyed The Dukes of Hazzard a lot more but maybe that is because I had the car, the poster and it was on television just about every single day. Sure, that television series was obviously inspired by Smokey and the Bandit and a whole slew of cowboy car and trucker movies but it had a bigger impact on me and I certainly feel more nostalgic for it than Smokey.

Burt Reynolds is still pretty damn enjoyable in anything but therein lies the problem. Had this not been a vehicle for Reynolds, it probably would have just come and went and not reached the pop culture heights that it did. Take out Jackie Gleason and you’re not left with much other than a run of the mill car stunt movie.

This is a film that is truly carried by its stars. While I would probably still find enjoyment with it had someone else played the Bandit, I doubt that the general public would have gotten behind it like they did.

The direction isn’t great and the editing is choppy in some parts and actually has a lot of mistakes, especially in regards to where vehicles are in relation to each other from cut to cut. Also, Coors is a pretty shitty beer but the microbrewery revolution hadn’t really kicked off in 1977 and rednecks today still drink mass produced swill.

While it may sound like I am being hard on this film, I’m just putting the facts out there, as I see them. I really like Smokey and the Bandit but not in the same vein as its hardcore fans. But that’s okay. Everyone has their cup of tea and while this is a very good cup, it isn’t a great cup.

Rating: 7.5/10