Day 11: Vigilantes!
Bad Ass (2012)
As we near the half way point with Junesploitation, Day 11’s prompt is ‘Vigilantes’ and the theme is certainly something that runs deep within exploitation cinema. Looking at a more recent film and perhaps going against the grain with something not out of the 70s or 80s with the vigilante theme is Bad Ass (2012) starring Danny Trejo, a film that actually spawned two sequels and provides an intriguing protagonist with a rough charm.
Danny Trejo plays Frank, a Vietnam veteran who finds viral fame after confronting a pair of skin head men on the bus with the encounter filmed and uploaded to YouTube, they dub him ‘Bad Ass’. His life begins to change after going viral, as his life long best friend Klondike (Harrison Page) gets murdered one night and seeing that nothing is being done to solve the crime Frank takes things in his own hands. Not only to find who murdered his best friend but also put a stop to the crime infecting the local streets.
Bad Ass is quite a fun film, Danny Trejo is in his element as Frank, a man pretty much torn down by his past and living day by day as best he can. He is someone who sticks up for others and shows a lot of compassion for those being hurt, when the time comes he gets in on the action and makes sure whom ever he comes up against knows they are in for a fight. Strange to think this film was based upon a real viral video, and an entire film was plotted inspired by what happened and it really does work as the main character is fleshed out and it actually puts in some social commentaries that tie everything together nicely.
Frank is a great vigilante type, really going against those in power to help the community as well as bring justice to Klondike. The cast are all a lot of fun, the film moves at just the right pace and the final third act is as funny as it is intense. There is a lot to enjoy and admire with Bad Ass, it comes highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of Danny Trejo.
Day 12: Sci-fi!
The perfect type of film for the ‘Sci-fi’ theme with Junesploitation Day is without a doubt an Italian rip off film of something better, and what better director to go with than the King of RipOff Cinema Bruno Mattei?! To really indulge in exploitation cinema, Mattei really is the best path to take and Robowar (1988) is a good (or bad) place to dive into the territory, with a film that rips off not only Predator (1987) but The Terminator (1984) and RoboCop (1987) and with nods to some other films. Oh, forgot to mention the story and script were from Claudio Fragrasso and Rossella Drudi, the duo behind site favourite Troll 2 (1990).
Robowar‘s plot if you can even call it that, sees a group of commando’s venturing into the jungle and they come across an almost unstoppable robot called Omega-1 that seems to want to pick them off one by one. Will any of them get out alive and destroy Omega-1 before it destroys them all? Or will they continue to walk aimlessly around the jungle for long periods of time to some 80s synth music?
The film itself isn’t very good, which is an aspect that can still be fun to watch unfold on screen, there are some sequences that are enjoyable and fun for how silly and outrageously stupid they are. What lets this film down is the long drawn out moments of the commandos walking through the jungle and doing absolutely nothing, and the music playing most of the time is overly repetitive. If these scenes were removed from the film, it would only go for 20 minutes or so if that (at least that is how it feels), which is a not great because the in between scenes are entertaining and having them so few and far between with all the walking around for no reason just makes the film a bore more than a fun time.
It is a big shame that the film didn’t have more to offer besides some action scenes and just walking, Reb Brown is decently fun as Major Murphy Black and Max Laurel as Quang was memorable. When there is action is it all over the place and definitely brings out the laughs, as does Omega-1 with its horrid computer voice and POV shots (funnily enough Fragrasso played Omega-1), these are what work in this mess. The rest is just forgettable and this film really should have been a lot more fun than it ultimately was. If you are a fan of Bruno Mattei films, low budget rip off films and/or Reb Brown you may enjoy this one, but have the fast forward button ready for the long drawn out scenes of nothing.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea
Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!