Tag Archives: movie reviews

FORCE OF LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: TWO LADIES WITH HOT TAKES

michelle and natalieMeet Michelle and Natalie, the two pop culture reviewers whose YT Channel is called Force of Light Entertainment. The ladies offer reviews and commentary on current day big movies and television shows, in contrast with Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of productions from the (often distant) past.

force of light entertainmentMichelle and Natalie try to stay positive when they can, and avoid the more sarcastic approach that I employ. When they do have to jump into cultural commentary depending on the item being reviewed, they push back against SJW idiocy and censorship. Below is a sample of the two sisters’ approach as they express their displeasure with an episode of The Book of Boba Fett.

To subscribe to the ladies’ channel (where their brother Michael sometimes drops by) click HERE.

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MR NO LEGS (1978)

mr no legsMR NO LEGS (1978) – Ted Vollrath, a Korean War veteran who lost his legs due to injuries he suffered during the conflict, became a multiple black belt in martial arts disciplines and established Martial Arts for the Handicapable Incorporated in 1971. In addition to appearing in a documentary titled Let Me Live In Your World he starred as a scene-stealing badass in Mr No Legs, which was also released under titles like Killers Die Hard, Pushers Die Hard, Dope Runners Die Hard and the much less descriptive Gun Fighter.   

Mr No Legs is nowhere near as outrageous as the Hong Kong kung fu movies Crippled Masters, Crippled Heroes and Crippled Avengers, nor is it as exploitative as those flicks. Vollrath plays Lou, the title character, whose wheelchair is equipped with built-in shotguns in the arm rests and Ninja stars connected to the wheels.

mr no legs titleLou himself is deadly in or out of his chair, as he is highly skilled with knives and handguns, but his most dangerous trait is the way he can use his muscular, toned body to kick the butts of all comers in unarmed combat. Lou’s status as the enforcer and hit man for a Tampa drug lord has earned him big money and a buxom blonde lady who sees to his various needs.

A real-life multiple amputee with a James Bond-gimmicked wheelchair and mastery of karate would be enough to ensure Mr No Legs a spot in Psychotronic movie Valhalla, but the film offers so much more.

Consider the following: Continue reading

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HUNTERWALI (1935, 1988) AND A REQUEST FOR HELP

Hunterwali in action

hunterwaliFor several years here at Balladeer’s Blog I have been trying to track down, watch and review all of the film versions of Hunterwali (Whip-wielding Woman), Bollywood Cinema’s butt-kicking masked female heroine. Often glibly dismissed as a female Zorro, there is much more cultural context to the Hunterwali figure – contextual significance that goes beyond the particular time period of each film version.

hunterwali picThus far I have been able to watch the 1935 original, which starred the actress billed as “Fearless Nadia” in India, and the 1988 Hunterwali. I have had no luck tracking down the 1959, 1972, 1977 and 2017 movie versions. Nor have I been able to buy the 1943 film, Hunterwali Ki Beti (Hunterwali’s Daughter), the very first sequel movie in Indian entertainment history.

Hunterwali upper handThe basics of the Hunterwali story involve Princess Madhuri adopting a masked, whip-wielding and stunt-riding identity to combat the many injustices inflicted on the kingdom by her father’s evil Vazier Ranamal. That villain even imprisons the king and lusts after Madhuri, little realizing she is really the swashbuckling “protector of the poor and punisher of evildoers” called Hunterwali. Continue reading

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DEATH MACHINES (1976)

death machines

This poster bears absolutely NO resemblance to anything that’s actually in the movie.

DEATH MACHINES (1976) – Balladeer’s Blog’s old friend Ron Marchini is back! Just two years after sharing the screen with the Wizard of Odd Leo Fong in Murder in the Orient, Marchini produced this film in which he, Michael Chong and Joshua Johnson portrayed lobotomized living thralls who kill on command.

Paul Kyriazi directed and co-wrote Death Machines, a movie which has decent production values and always looks as if it’s a professional project, but is hilariously let down by the acting, writing, fight choreography and special effects.

Madame LeeOur story begins with the villainous Madame Lee (Mari Honjo), the Asian field boss of a criminal empire, observing a demonstration of her outfit’s new martial arts assassins in action. Ron Marchini IS White Death Machine, Michael Chong brings to life Asian Death Machine and Joshua Johnson wows as Black Death Machine. That’s exactly how our title trio are listed in the credits, by the way. Continue reading

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LEONARD NIMOY’S BOXING MOVIE: KID MONK BARONI (1952)

kid monk baroniKID MONK BARONI (1952) – It’s not Rocky, it’s Spocky! Leonard Nimoy made his film debut in this half-assed, cliche-filled and trope-ridden mess of a movie. Nimoy plays Paul Baroni aka Kid Monk Baroni, a street-fighting tough guy whose belligerence stems from his mild deformity and the scorn that it brings him.

nimoy fake noseIn lieu of prosthetic ears, Kid Monk Baroni finds Leonard sporting a prosthetic nose for a large part of the film, thus depicting the “ugliness” which drives his hostile urges. Paul Baroni has become a leader of sorts for his pack of juvenile delinquents called the Billy Goat Gang, an inferior imitation of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall’s Bowery Boys/ Dead End Kids/ Little Tough Guys and all the other names they used over the years. Continue reading

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FIREPOWER (1979)

firepowerFIREPOWER (1979) – Sophia Loren, James Coburn, Tony Franciosa, Billy Barty and O.J. “Alec Baldwin Times Two” Simpson star in this late 70s combination of an espionage tale and a caper flick. Throw in Eli Wallach, Jake LaMotta and Victor Mature and you’ve got what may sound like the cast of a disaster movie but actually Firepower is a very good film from Lew Grade.

Sophia Loren, looking fantastic but a bit too thin, stars as Adele Tasca, widow of Dr Ivo Tasca, who was killed by the underlings of international tycoon and fugitive Karl Stegner. In a nod to the times, Stegner is a composite of the likes of Robert Vesco with sprinklings of Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes and Stavros Niarchos. For a modern version of a bloated rich pig figure wanted in certain countries and reviled around the world think of George Soros. 

At any rate, Adele’s husband was bumped off because he was about to deliver evidence and testimony against the reclusive Karl Stegner tying him to untold numbers of deaths from tainted pharmaceuticals. Continue reading

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BLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY (1989) – A HAPPY NEW YEAR MOVIE REVIEW

bloodhounds of broadwayBLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY (1989) – Randy Quaid and Madonna as a romantic couple? Rutger Hauer as a pastiche of crime lord Arnold Rothstein? THE William S. Burroughs as a butler? Ethan “Neelix” Phillips as a wannabe gangster?

Yes, all that and more in this all but forgotten 1989 flop which deserved to be much better than it is and with work it could have become a New Year’s Eve viewing staple.

Bh on brFour Damon Runyon stories were blended into a 93 minute movie that was released to just one theater … missing a reel. PBS Playhouse gave this romantic comedy its widest exposure before it fell down the memory hole. As of this writing it has only 8 reviews at IMDb.   

Significantly, the film is set on December 31st of 1928, which was the last big New Year’s Eve bacchanalia of the Roaring Twenties but nobody knew it at the time. Before another year went by the Stock Market Crash would help usher in the Great Depression, making that 1928 New Year’s Eve blowout a figurative Mardi Gras before the austerity of Lent. The December 31st, 1929 celebrations were considerably subdued by comparison.

If you’re a Guys & Dolls fan, Mindy’s Restaurant is one of the settings for Bloodhounds of Broadway, just like in that much better known work based on Damon Runyon stories. At any rate, the four tales combined to form this rom-com are:    Continue reading

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020)

christm 2020A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020) – Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 comes to a close with this review of the criminally underrated version of A Christmas Carol that was released last year. This production is easily one of the most beautiful adaptations of the Dickens classic.

The director was Jaqui Morris and the screenplay was crafted by David Morris utilizing almost nothing but Dickens’ own words from the novel. In this boldly creative non-musical presentation each character had their dancing performed by a professional dancer while their dialogue was voiced by professional thespians.

sian phillipsAnd what thespians! The voice of Andy Serkis is heard, in addition to those of Sian Phillips, who apparently will never die, and Leslie Caron, whom I thought had already died. Serkis provides the dialogue for Marley’s Ghost and Old Joe. Phillips is the narrator whose wonderful performance ties it all together and Caron provides the voice for the Ghost of Christmas Past.

A Christmas Carol is presented here as if it will be a puppet show put on by a family of entertainers but instead of actual puppets, professional dancers act out the story. In the same way that a ballet features superb dancing set to music, this dancing is set to narration and dialogue from the Dickens novel. Continue reading

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MS SCROOGE (1997)

ms scroogeMS SCROOGE (1997) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon is fast approaching its finale. This time around I’m reviewing Ms Scrooge, a Hallmark TV movie starring the revered actress Cicely Tyson as Ebenita Scrooge. 

Tyson is easily the best thing about this production and she towers over everyone trying to share the screen with her. Ms Scrooge would have had more impact if they had surrounded Cicely with other big names, but even as it is it’s still pretty enjoyable.

cicely tysonThe main distraction in this telefilm is the one that afflicts many other attempts to set A Christmas Carol in more modern times – employers cannot, and for decades haven’t been allowed to, treat their employees the way that Scrooge treats Bob Cratchit in the original story. Some modern adaptations avoid the problem by just making vague references to Ebenezer’s merciless running of their business, and in my opinion that works the best. Unfortunately this Hallmark presentation constantly takes you out of the story with blatantly illegal conduct by Scrooge.  

As Ms Scrooge rolls along a few elements indicate that the creative team really gets the Dickens story, while others indicate that they have no clue. Same ol’ same ol’ for most Carol adaptations.   Continue reading

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THE READ-ALONG CHRISTMAS CAROL (1995)

Fezziwig's Christmas Party

Fezziwig’s Christmas Party

Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!

It’s the time of year when I examine countless adaptations of the Dickens classic from television, movies, radio and elsewhere! As always new versions will be sprinkled in with the old standards.

Here is a look at the 1995 home video Read-Along Christmas Carol.  This version is just 50 minutes long and is ideal for youngsters learning how to read or for the hearing-impaired to watch. Continue reading

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