I’ve been terribly remiss in not getting a review to the lovely ladies of Rental Rehab sooner – furthermore, I have thus far not delivered on my promise to complete the three-word-Segal-movie-trilogy by reviewing Out for Justice, though that’s coming soon. They say once you’re in a hole, you ought to stop digging, and holding out for Out for Justice would only prolong my leave, so I had to one-up my own sense of expectation and dig a real stinker out of the cinematic crap-vault that was my adolescence.
I knew that I would have to review a movie that not only have I not seen in nearly 10 years, but a movie I couldn’t see even if I wanted to, which I don’t. If you check the Wikipedia entry for the movie No Retreat, No Surrender 2, you’ll see that no video maker or distributor intends to release the film on Region 1 DVD, and I don’t blame them. Neither should you.
However: the internet, like god, is capricious, cruel, and merciless. While looking for screen captures of Cynthia Rothrock’s adorable karate boobs, I discovered that No Retreat, No Surrender 2 has been posted to Youtube under it’s alternate title “Raging Thunder” in 10 barely digestible installments by user “MartialArtsKO1.” I guess I have him to thank, and by thank I mean track down, drown in a bathtub, swaddle in duct tape, leave by the roadside in a hefty bag, and then go party, get arrested, languish in jail for two years, say I was abused as a child, get acquitted of all charges, and then go party some more.
The first No Retreat, No Surrender was a plucky 1980’s martial arts flick about a boy who had to defeat Soviet communism with karate. Fuck you if you think I’m joking – it was the 1980’s: karate was the only weapon we had. Exhibit A: The Karate Kid, Best of the Best, American Ninja, Gymkata and, of course, Tootsie.
The first No Retreat, No Surrender had everything you would expect: montage training sequences, a young martial artist out to avenge his father, an ebony-and-ivory friendship / training partnership à la Rocky III, Bruce Lee’s ghost, and Jean-Claude Van Motherfucking Damme. That’s right – this was basically JCVD’s big breakout exempting the spy thriller Black Eagle, but that’s not what’s important.
What is important is that No Retreat, No Surrender 2 features none of the above.
No Retreat, No Surrender 2 follows the worlds lankiest slack-jawed American around the drug-fueled sex-pits ofThailand, neatly avoiding all drugs and sex, in favor of some contrived plot about this gangster arms dealer guy who blah blah Russians yaketty yak his daughter kidnapping who-gives-a-shit.
The first minute of the movie is just some guy screaming inThai. He’s some sort of general guy, and there’s another army guy with him, and then a shady gangster looking guy behind them. Think these people might be important? The director didn’t’ – you can’t see their faces and so you have no way of knowing who anyone is.
After that there’s plane-flying stock footage, probably provided as a promotional consideration by Singapore Airways. The plane breaks a cardinal rule of cinematography in that it is “arriving” from left to right. Similarly, this movie breaks many rules of cinematography by even existing in the first place.
Handy subtitles let us know that we are inBangkok. We see the star of this movie, Scott Wylde, played by Loren Avedon. He is conspicuously lanky for a leading man – I mean just absolutely gangly.
As Scott heads out of the airport to get a cab, the theme song, “Raging Thunder” persists. This song is horrible. It sounds like a porno soundtrack sung at a karaoke bar by a drunken castrato who has just been harpooned through the stomach. The lyrics are nonsensical, the melody is bland, and the singer’s voice makes it apparent that she firstly knows how much shame she has brought to her family and second is about to kill herself over it.
Once Scott finds a cab, hilarity ensues when Scott, the big tall lanky American, cannot squeeze into the tight confines of the motorcycle rickshaw. Wakka wakka!
The motorcycle takes Scott to a Thai Dojo, or rather, an abandoned flea market that gets to dress up like a Thai Dojo for the day. Inside, Cynthia Rothrock is beating the snot out of some poor boxer. She is inexplicably rude to Scott, and tricks him into fighting another student at the gym. Predictably, Scott mops the floor with him, and after some terrifically forced banter, Scott tells Cynthia Rothrock (I know the character has a name, I just don’t care) that he’s looking for Mack, his old teacher.
Cynthia calls Mack a “bag of foul wind,” thus confirming that this movie was made for weeaboos, by weeaboos. It’s a fart, Cynthia – you’re trying to say “bag of farts.” You are not Asian. Saying “desu” on the internet will not make it otherwise.
Regardless, this dialogue is more confusing than the Palin family tree. Lines just come from nowhere, intertwine, fade into nothingness, and try to pass off babies as their own, and it’s only a minute long. Scott heads off to his hotel, which is apparently also a brothel. He’s bothered by a buck-toothed pimp – more comic relief, I’m afraid, and then flops down into his bed, which promptly breaks. Ha ha ha – it’s funny, because he’s so big! Big lanky American – you die, G.I!
In his hotel, Scott makes a date with his Thai girlfriend. Don’t worry about her name – she doesn’t do anything through the whole movie. They go to a Thai restaurant (boy I hope there’s a joke about exotic Asian cuisine in here), where she insults his clothes and then gives him sort of a cold shoulder. She then makes all sorts of inferences about her dad being conspicuously wealthy, at which point I swear to god she says “My dad’s electronic, that’s all.” Then the food arrives and it’s nothing but bugs, guts, lizards and testicles. They kept me in suspense for all of 2 minutes on that one, but the payoff was worth it: comedy gold!
Scott takes girlfriend back to his hotel room, which is water-stained and plastered with torn-out centerfolds, and they turn off the lights so they can get it on and, presumably, catch a case of bed bugs.
The scene switches to a relatively nice house, where a phone is ringing. Charlie Chan’s more offensive younger brother answers the phone, and insists on speaking English sort of. I have no idea what he’s talking about, and he looks like a Thai John Waters, complete with creepy micro-mustache. Someone is either “there” or “dead.”
Cut back to the hotel, where Scott professes to girlfriend that he enjoys putting his penis into her vagina. She says she also enjoys this. I’m not making this up. Then two dudes bust in and kidnap girlfriend, then as soon as she’s gone, Scott goes on a berserker barrage and kills the two guys who stayed behind to kill him. Good job, Scott – seems like you probably could have just turned into a homicidal maniac at any point; why wait until your girlfriend is gone? Let’s take a moment to make some really obvious Freudian gay jokes. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
There, now that that’s out of our system, we see that girlfriend’s family has been gunned down. There is a lot of graffiti in Thai or Vietnamese, but since I am a big fat McDonald’s G.I. Joe American, I can’t read it. I think the film makers should have known this, but regardless, there are no subtitles explaining what the scribblings on the wall mean.
Scott gets arrested, offering the best single legal defense ever invented, to wit: “You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!” He demands to be read his rights, but the arresting officer says, “This isThailand- you have no rights.” That or “Diss tire and you hand hold fights.” I know it’s really not funny to make fun of foreigners for not being able to pronounce English words, but come on, central casting; you’re not giving me anything to work with.
In the interrogation room, we have more unintelligible, strained, and torturous dialogue. Scott killed two guys, remember, and so the interrogator jokes “Do you mean to tell me they were just dying for a fix?” I had to play that scene four times before I figured it out.
On the other side of the obligatory one-way glass, some white guy with a pedophile beard is talking to the Thai guy with a John Waters mustache from earlier. They conspire to take him toSingapore for three months until this “thing blows over.” Scott is taken under heavy guard to an airport, where he escapes by jumping a motorcycle over some conveniently placed ramps. Then he’s off to find his friend Mack.
At this point in Scott’s arrival in the red light district, I feel I have to point out a huge discrepancy in video quality – it’s almost like no one gave the crew permission to shoot here, and so they had to make due with pointing a VHS camcorder out a taxi cab window.
Scott goes into a titty bar – the kind of titty bar that only exists in movies, where girls in swim suits dance to music that isn’t actually playing. Mack is arm wrestling for money upstairs. Scott fucks with him for a minute, nearly causing him to lose, and that’s when we see that they are arm wrestling over paired gas burners – the loser is going to be barbequed. You’re a real friend, Scott.
Mack wins, and the loser tries to stab Mack with a broken beer bottle, at which point I’m like “Sweet, end of movie,” but then Scott jumps in and saves the day, at which point Mack says “let’s get a beer,” and I agree. I’m on my fifth tall boy of PBR at this point – I’m not even 30 minutes into the movie.
Mack sees Scott on the news, which of course leads to the one line guaranteed to show up in every single bad action movie ever: “Come on, you know me better than that.” Scott doesn’t miss his cue, saying exactly that, and the pair goes off to get some dinner.
They get ambushed and fight their way through some henchmen in, to be honest, a pretty interesting and well-choreographed fight scene. Mack finally turns one of the thug’s guns against him, and just as they learn they have to go to Cambodia, another goon throws a plastic toy hand grenade at them. The Foley artist didn’t even try to disguise the sound – they got this prop at Kay-Bee. Mack and Scott throw the first goon on top of the grenade, run away, and then get showered with the dude’s chunks and gore before shooting off to Mack’s warehouse.
Mack is an arms dealer, and he explains to Scott that Girlfriend’s dad is some big guy in world affairs. He’s planning a coup d’état or something, and blah blah blah MacGuffin. The VC have the girl, it’s up to Scott and Mack to get her, and Mack’s got the hardware to do it, but, there’s a twist:
Cut to: SOVIETS! Finally this movie has something in common with its predecessor. You don’t get much sense of just why they’re there except, per Mack’s exposition, they have some interest in assisting this upcoming coup – but we do see that girlfriend is being held prisoner. In one of the more memorable scenes, a guard feeds her some rice gruel through a long tube that I swear to god is even less sexy than it sounds.
Like all good atavistic weeaboos, Scott finds a crossbow and starts fiddling with it. Mack suggests that Scott give up on Girlfriend and “find a new playmate,” but Scott is undeterred. Mack and Scott hash out a plan and dress up like soldiers. Scott, no shit, ties a red band around his head like Rambo.
They get ready to depart when they discover that they are surrounded by a bunch of police who by way of a bullhorn demand that they surrender. I think. He might also have said “Coal hut wiff your man cup” – no way of knowing for sure. Mack and Scott run through the jungle, the cops apparently having forgotten how to fire their rifles, and Mack and Scott catch a nearby helicopter piloted by, SURPRISE AGAIN: Cynthia Rothrock.
Cynthia and Mack exchange some Han-and-Leia banter while Scott scratches his head and, in true bad movie fashion, demands to know what’s going on. Egads, Scott, if you figure it all out first, please tell me.
Next, there’s a two-minute scene with John Waters Charlie Chan and some police guy, but it’s all in either Thai or Vietnamese and, again, film makers: America McDonalds Coca-Cola no-speaky. This scene is entirely too long, but then again: bad acting is its own language – if the director’s intent was to show me how bad these actors suck, mission accomplished. I don’t even believe they’re in the same room together, let alone carrying on dialogue.
Our trio infiltrates Cambodia and puts down in a rice paddy near a commune. No sooner do they leave the chopper than they are surrounded by guys carrying AK-47s and wearing scraps of gingham table clothes around their heads. I think this is supposed to look like rag-tag rebel militia, but it only made me hungry for cold fried chicken.
They’re taken to a camp. Mack assumes that he’s buddy-buddy with the rebel leader, presumably because of some arms sales or something. This is a shot-for-shot remake of the Bespin reunion between Han and Lando, but only about half as convincing, and also barely in English.
As Mack’s buddy tells them about the Soviet training facility at Death Mountain, we’re treated to an improbable practice scenario where ambushers shoot bulls eyes, one handed, with machine guns, while hanging from trees and then we see a guy walking with a briefcase when, holy shit – this guy pops out of the ground and shoots him in the face. It’s all obviously done for schlock-shock value, but it raises some interesting questions. Do they just kill people who walk into their camp with briefcases? Or was this guy a volunteer, like a sparring partner?
Is there a whole nearby village of these guys? Is it a prank? Like – “hey, take this briefcase over to the training camp” (snicker). I’m just – wow…they totally kill people for practice. This is why we lost, people, this is why we lost.
Just as Mack and the general wrap up their negotiations, someone starts shelling the village. I don’t know who, I don’t care who. Scott takes some shrapnel to the arm, and I think I’m supposed to care, but I can’t be bothered.
Around a campfire, they trio plots its next move. Mack and Cynthia Rothrock fight some more in lieu of the doinking they so obviously want to be doing, and Scott announces that they can do whatever they like as he is going to find the camp. Scott and Cynthia Rothrock have a laugh at Mack’s expense, and we cut to the Soviet training camp.
A helicopter touches down to much pomp and circumstance – this is the Soviet end boss. He is presented with two captives. In true 1980’s villain style, when he learns that one of the men is a good fighter, he offers the man a chance to fight for his freedom, but then because he is a true 1980’s villain, the soviet shoots the man and then throws him into a pit full of crocodiles.
Mack, Scott, and Cynthia Rothrock walk through the jungle until they find a Buddhist compound. They are treated to some stock footage of monks in saffron robes going about their daily Buddha business. Scott is a massive weeaboo know-it-all, so he bags up all their weapons out of respect for Buddhist blah-blah something. Mack, that scoundrel, takes back his knife. I wonder if THAT will come in handy later!
The head monk guy offers to show them the way, and then they are ambushed in an excessively elaborate and completely ridiculous fight scene. The monks spend a lot of time snaring the three with ropes, complete with a totally manly synchronized split routine from Mack and Scott. They get snared, they get free, they get tied up, they cut themselves free with Mack’s knife and run away, then the a bunch of Viet Kong shoot machine guns at them, blowing out their internal organs and causing them to die slowly and painfully on the filthy ground.
God damn it, no they don’t. The monks are nice enough to shoot movie machine guns which never hit good guys, even when the good guys are prancing around and doing cartwheels like ninnies, which is certainly the case here. Never mind that these super-elite VC commandos were, just three scenes ago, shooting bulls-eyes with fully automatic AK-47s at distances of over 100 yards. Now they can’t even hit the world’s lankiest American ninja.
The recover their weapons and Cynthia Rothrock makes a run for a boat. Turns out the boat was already full of VC, who proceed to shoot about 9,000 movie bullets at Mack and Scott while Cynthia Rothrock looks on. The VC then shoot at the boys with a movie RPG which does nothing more than set fire to the hut in which they were hiding and forces them to dive into the water.
Mack and Scott find the real monks, along with a cache of weapons luckily labeled “Made in USSR” in English. They free the monks and take the weapons while Cynthia Rothrock is helicoptered away to the Soviet camp. She fights her way free of the VC that brought her to the camp, then winds up in a sparring match with the Evil Soviet Heavy. The ESH gives Cynthia Rothrock a good beating and tells her that she’ll die if she’s not more polite.
As an aside, half of this movie is Cynthia Rothrock getting kicked in the titties.
On the other side of town, we are treated to a long, long, long over-land sequence: Mack and Scott are climbing up a mountain stream. It’s about 4 minutes of taught rope, splashing water, Mack and Scott struggling and then, finally, near the very top of the mountain, their ropes snap and they fall hundreds of feet onto sharp rocks below. They don’t even have time for last words before they die, and the credits roll.
God damn it – why do I keep doing this to myself? No, we don’t see Mack and Scott gored on the rocks. Instead we get about a full minute of Thai John Waters talking to some police guy, inThai. I think they were probably just figuring out what they were going to order for lunch. Thai John Waters walks away, and one of those VC guys pops up out of a sewer and shoots him in the chest – his life as nonsensical as his death.
Cynthia Rothrock is being interrogated by the Evil Soviet Heavy. She goes into some sarcastic song-and-dance, trying to get his goat, when the ESH brings girlfriend into the room and tells both of the girls they’re going to die because girlfriend’s father left the country. Oh no – a villain I don’t fear is going to kill heroes I don’t care about!
Mack and Scott scope out the Soviet camp from the top of a rocky hill and hatch a hasty plan. That night, while Russians dance around a roasting pig, Cynthia Rothrock and Girlfriend compare plot exposition as they wait to be executed. Scott sneaks up and stabs a dude through the heart – for a naive farm boy from Indiana, Scott has really taken a shine to murder.
Mack rings up some impossibly complicated booby traps using M-60 machine guns, wire, and beer cans. The ambush is set, and apparently nobody notices the dead guard that Scott murdered.
The Evil Soviet Heavy dangles Cynthia Rothrock and Girlfriend over the crocodile pit, counter-balanced by sandbags, which one of the VC then shoots a hole through. It’s actually a pretty ingenious death / torture, exactly the kind of thing I’d think the writer of this insufferable movie would think up.
Mack’s trap, it turns out, involves some remote-operated M-60 machine guns, which Scott sets off with some counterweight blah-blah-blah. Alas the VC did not know that Mack and Scott ALSO have movie machine guns, and so despite not being aimed, or manned, or stabilized in any way shape or form, every bullet manages to hit a bad guy. Furthermore, these are movie bad-guys, who cannot wait to do things like abandon cover, stand together in tight groups near hand grenades, or shuffle single-file into an explosive-rigged building.
I know, I’m a gun guy – but this is unconvincing if you’ve never even seen a shooting range… I digress.
More explosions, more guns, Scott zip-lines into camp, Mack gets both the girls out of the crocodile pit, gets shot in the process, and then Cynthia Rothrock shoots a guy in the head. It’s about what you’d expect.
Scott shoots a crossbow bolt at a bunch of dudes, and there is an explosion. They aren’t even trying to not insult my intelligence at this point. It’s like they decided: hey, if you watched this far into the movie, fuck you, you deserve it. What are you going to do, call us and complain? You’re obviously only still watching because you can’t figure out the numbers on your remote control.
Scott, at last thinking he’ll be reunited with Girlfriend, runs to join his friends. Evil Soviet Heavy has other plans and tries to shoot him with a compact submachine gun, but Cynthia Rothrock jumps in front of Scott, unsurprisingly getting shot – yep, right in the cans.
So exit Cynthia Rothrock. Scott fights the big bad evil Russian guy in a long and drawn out fight sequence. Scott is obviously overmatched despite his awesome Midwestern Tae Kwon Do education, but he manages to get a few lucky breaks, and ultimately kills the heavy by throwing a Soviet flag over his head, tying a rope around the guy’s neck, and dragging him with a jeep into the crocodile pit.
Mack tells Scott that Cynthia Rothrock is dead. The survivors walk away, and the US Government nukes the site from orbit, killing them all in a brilliant flash of light.
God damn it.
The producers want Mack to be Han Solo soooo badly. He calls Scott “farmboy” and “kid,” and he even has this sort of hang-dog pout-slash-sneer thing that suggests he’s really riffing on Harrison Ford. It’s endearing to a point, but mostly you sort of wish someone would just stab him through the lungs. Or, since I’m the one watching this, me.
I studied Tae Kwon Do in a Midwestern dojang for ten years – they didn’t teach us any of the deadly shit Scott seems to know. I got ten years of learning how to believe in myself, try hard, stay off drugs, and not be a quitter. Scott’s not doing Tae Kwon Do – Scott is doing some sort of super deadly murder fighting that they only teach inFort Wayne.
Cynthia Rothrock may not be much of an actress, but she’s the only good thing about this movie. Her lines might not make any sense, but she is plucky and cute and she’ll just kick your heart out. In fact, it was looking for pictures of Cynthia Rothrock that started this whole thing, so it may as well be the thing that finishes it.
I lied – here’s the phone scene with Thai John Waters Charlie Chan.
Written by Vytautas Malesh