Category Archives: Bad Movies

Review: ‘Above the Law’ With Bonus NICO! Game Card

Review by special guest writer Vytautas Maslesh. Visit his blog, Sardonic Shock Syndrome, to enjoy more of incisive pop culture commentary. 

 above the lawAbove the Law (alternate title:  Nico: Above the Law) was Steven Seagal’s breakout performance and the first of his three-word-title series (Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, and Out for Justice before breaking form for Under Siege, but then coming right back to it with On Deadly Ground).  The film did much to set the tone for not only Steven Seagal’s cinematic career, but the real-life crazy show that is Steven Seagal in real life.

Steven Seagal is, time has proven, a Grade-A bullshit artist.  It’s so obvious now that it’s almost tiresome to point it out, but lest it go unsaid, you probably had one friend like Steve back in middle school – the kind of guy who had an uncle that works for NASA and let him play around in the space shuttle when he went to visit, the kind of guy who was attacked by a bear while he and his family were camping over summer vacation and only managed to save his family by shooting the bear with the fully-automatic rifle his grandpa gave him for a birthday present – you know, the kind of guy with a Canadian girlfriend.

In Above the Law, which Steven Seagal not only starred in, but also wrote and co-produced, we get the first taste of Steven Seagal lunacy.  Whether Steven Seagal started modeling his own life on the Nico Toscani character after the movie, or if Nico Toscani is meant to mirror the life that Steven Seagal read about in a comic book once is a matter of speculation and conjecture, and is ultimately trivial.  Above the Law is where it all starts: the crazy conspiracy theories, the earnest self-aggrandizement, and of course, the bullshit.

With just a splash of TJ Hooker.

With just a splash of TJ Hooker.

Let me summarize the plot of Above the Law. Because the writing on this movie is so impossibly lazy, I decided to highlight the clichés and tropes for you.

The character of Nico Toscani is the son of Italian immigrants who goes to Japan to learn Aikido and is recruited by the CIA at a young age.  He leaves the agency, disillusioned with all the torture and gun running and such, and becomes a tough Chicago street cop who of course plays by his OWN RULES.  His partner is Pam Grier in her post-Coffy, pre-Jackie Brown years.  His wife is Sharon Stone, who is terrible.  How bad of an actor are you when you have to admit that you were showed up by Steven Seagal?  The answer is Sharon Stone. Even in this cinematic stink-bomb, Sharon Stone is out of her depth.  Then again, Sharon Stone is out of her depth in a bird bath.

The heavy is played by 1970s-1980s staple bad guy and four-time Tiger Beat cover model Henry Silva, who is doing the best with what he’s given.  He plays a TORTURE HAPPY CIA boss whose preferred tool is chemical interrogation – basically he shoots someone full of smack and then plays 20 questions before killing the dude anyway.  He masterminds a plot to something about Nicaragua and killing a senator and oh who really gives a shit?  Nico meets Henry Silva in the jungles of Cambodia, and the cruelty of the former causes gentle soul Nico to leave the CIA behind, but of course try to get out / pull me back in / etc.

The prequel to "Tropic Thunder."

The prequel to “Tropic Thunder.”

Nico stumbles on what he believes to be A PLOT TO SMUGGLE DRUGS into the country, but the drugs TURN OUT TO BE EXPLOSIVES.  There’s a plot to assassinate a priest and something mumble mumble – the point is that this conspiracy goes ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!

Unsurprisingly, Nico takes THE LAW INTO HIS OWN HANDS because OWN RULES.  Nico goes after the bad guys, but unsurprisingly they decide to GO AFTER HIS FAMILY, leading to the most pointless shootout in history – honestly, Nico and another cop who is not Pam Grier go chasing after Henry Silva, shoot up the hotel room where he’s torturing a priest, and then leave – Pam Grier is shot during the shootout even though it was only 8 DAYS UNTIL RETIREMENT, but it’s okay because SHE WAS WEARING A VEST.

Nico goes after Henry one last time.  There’s a CAR CHASE and a SHOOTOUT CAR CHASE, but Henry Silva wants Nico taken alive.  Pop quiz, Henry Silva – if you wanted him alive, why have your henchmen shoot at him?  Do you not know how bullets work?

seagal choked

Anyway, Henry Silva decides to torture Nico to death with that chemical interrogation stuff he’s been using all movie, but Nico is DRUG PROOF SUPERMAN.  He SNAPS OUT OF IT and then he snaps Henry Silva’s arm and spine.  The SENATOR IS GRATEFUL BUT CLUELESS, and the movie ends with Steven Seagal boring some reporter to death with stories of his CIA exploits which totally happened even though the government denies it so you can’t prove it didn’t happen and you could ask my Canadian girlfriend but we broke up and then she died.

The worst part about Above the Law is that it is B-O-R-I-N-G.  Steven Seagal movies work when they are over-the-top batshit, but it seems that in Above the Law, Steve might not have had 100% free rein to do whatever the hell he wanted, and so there are no Jamaican posses, post-coma montages, or Gary Buseys.  Instead, it’s a by-the-numbers cop action flick with an unnecessarily involved CIA subplot and long sequences of Steven Seagal running like a twelve-year-old girl making fun of a thirty-six-year-old gay man.

Gotta poop gotta poop gotta poop – too late.

Gotta poop gotta poop gotta poop – too late.

The mystery really is that if you’re going to completely bullshit your way through not just a film, but an entire filmic career and media persona, why should it ever be dull?  Why babble on for 30 minutes about the minutiae of CIA spying programs when you could just say that you’re an astronaut who doesn’t need a rocket ship, but rather just jumps to the moon whenever he feels like it?  It worked for Dolemite, and it would sure as hell go a long way to making Above the Law halfway watchable.


  • Steven Seagal arm snap count:  2
  • Spine snap:  1
  • Disarms a guy using slappy martial arts:  5 I think
  • Running:  Approximately 4 minutes
  • Running like a man:  0 minutes
  • Bullshit:  CIA history, Italian heritage, speaking multiple languages


There’s one kind of decent line of dialogue in the movie – after escaping an ambush, Steven Seagal disarms some assassins.  When one of them advances on him saying something about how Steve can’t shoot them all – Steve shoots the guy in the gut and says “no, but I’ll get an A for effort.”

This movie came out in 1988.  That year, Pam Grier was diagnosed with cancer.  I doubt this is a coincidence.

This is a photo of Chelcie Ross, who plays Nico’s ex-CIA partner Nelson Fox:

chelcie ross

This is a photo of Ben Stiller playing “Simple Jack” in the movie Tropic Thunder

Movie reviews muh-muh-muh make me haahh-peee.

Movie reviews muh-muh-muh make me haahh-peee.


Nico the game


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Filed under Bad Movies, Contains Steven Seagal, Guest Review: Vytautas Malesh, Loose Cannon Cop

Space Seed (Star Trek: The Original Series) Review



Episode: Space Seed – Season 1, Episode 22 (1967)

Director: Marc Daniels

Teleplay: Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilbur

Story: Carey Wilbur

Kirk accidentally revives one of the premier war criminals of twentieth century Earth, the fabulous Khan Noonian Singh (national treasure Ricardo Montalban).[1]  Over the course of a record five costume changes, Khan tries to conquer humanity all over again, all while spawning the best Star Trek movie ever shot.

At first, Kirk can be forgiven for thinking he’s only got a defrosted asshole on his hands. Khan deports himself like a Nietzschean Superman, but so does every douchebag in the bars of South Florida. It isn’t until Khan’s Master Class in Straight Pimp’n (re: ship’s historian Lt. Marla McGivers [Madlyn Rhue]) that the truth is revealed: Khan is that Khan, brutal leader of the augmented beings that fomented Earth’s mid-90s Eugenics War. McGivers stops sliding off her chair long enough to help him awaken his super-cronies and hijack the ship.

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What the World Needs Now is a Film About How We Are All Connected (And That Racism is Bad)

Another theme should probably be that peace is a good thing. (Credit: ion-bogdan dumitrescu)

Another major theme should probably be that peace is a good thing. (Credit: ion-bogdan dumitrescu)

OPINION/COMMENTARY – By a Hollywood Producer

It’s been an emotional week. Not gonna lie. What, with all the joy — and sadly, vitriol — surrounding the SCOTUS decision to knock down DOMA (Hooray for Chad and Brian! Cannot wait for the invite) and Wendy Davis’ courageous stand in Texas, it’s almost like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Speaking of, I believe what the world needs most — in this exact, powerful moment — is a film about how all of us are interconnected in some way. Also, it should say something about racism. More specifically, it should convey that racism is bad.

Let’s face it, in a world where everyone’s favorite saucy Southern Aunt Paula gets caught throwing around the N-word, we need more films that show the interconnectivity of all of our lives. This is true whether you’re a woman who made millions off of selling an image of wholesome butter, or whether you’re a low-wage food service employee from the suburbs of Atlanta. We are all connected.

That’s basically what this film will be about. That and the racism thing.

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Filed under Bad Movies, Fake News, Movies That Pander, Rant

The Man Trap (Star Trek: The Original Series) Review

Women: amirite guys?

Women: amirite guys?

Editor’s note: Rental Rehab is pleased to welcome itself back from the dead with a witty new series by guest writer Joshua, who will view and review the Star Trek Original Series.  

Episode: The Man Trap – Season 1, Episode 1 (1966)

Director: Marc Daniels

Writer: George Clayton Johnson

After the metaphysical conundrums and moral seriousness of the two pilots, the viewing public was confronted with “The Man Trap.” It is our first exposure to the O.G. bizarre love triangle: Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer Spock (Leonard Nemoy), and crotchety Chief Medical Officer Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley).

The Enterprise is dispatched to planet M-113 to administer routine medical examinations to xeno-archeologist Robert Crater (Alfred Ryder) and his wife, Nancy (Jeanne Bal).  All three members of the landing party all see someone materially different when they first catch sight of Nancy, and soon various members of the crew die mysteriously via having the salt sucked from their bodies (through their faces!). Professor Crater’s wife is some kind of shapeshifting predator native to the planet – “The Last of Her Kind” – that has taken on the original Nancy Crater’s identity. Eventually McCoy is tasked with destroying the monster, made nearly impossible by his romantic past with the Nancy whose form the creature has usurped.

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Filed under Bad Movies, Childhood Memories, Star Trek Original Series

Jean-Claude Van Damme Saves Future, Runs from Past in Cyborg

Jean Claude Van Damme as Jesus in Cyborg

For God so loved the Earth.

Need evidence that Wikipedia is a tenuous source for information? The site’s page for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “the fewchur is scary” film Cyborg (1989) includes an 850-word-plus* plot summary. Holy god; 850 words?! Considering the film must have set records for “Least Amount of Pages Included in a Script Since Octagon,” the essay seems dubious at best. In place of storyline, character development and dialogue Cyborg delivers the same 3 tedious flashbacks (always of the mostly silent, now-deceased woman who Van Damage couldn’t save, somewhere in the distant, sad past) in a constant loop, roundhouse kicks and a series of vaguely homoerotic grunts and growls as greasy, half-naked men wearing shoulder pads wrestle around with one another in water.

Here we have an excerpt from the script:

Hero: “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”


Hero: “NnnnnnAAAAAAAAAAAarrrrrrgggggggggh.”

Villain: “OooooorrrrrryyyyyGGGGGGGGGsssssssssaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!”

And it goes on like this.

The semblance of a story involves a gang of futuristic pirates led by Fender Tremolo who is never afraid to slowly remove his cheesedick sunglasses in order to reveal his primary weapon: a pair of piercingly sensitive blue eyes that seem to look directly into your soul. So dreamy. When they aren’t rehearsing for a revival of Tremolo’s off-broadway musical, “Cats: After the Fever,” the pirates drift around the mostly vacant Eastern seaboard trying desperately to control the cure for a plague that has ravaged the countryside and forced Starbucks to close at least half of its franchises. When we meet them, the ruffians have scored very little in the way of booty beyond a few Mad Max wardrobe cast-offs and a cyborg whose futuristic brain is known to house the answer to how to solve a Rubik Cube in less than 5 minutes.

Fender Tremolo from Cyborg

It's just so frustrating. I can get the green side to line up, but this red side...Ugh!

Gibson Rickenbacker (Van Damme) is the mercenary who comes–begrudgingly–out of retirement to scrap with his old opponent, Fender, and humbly serve as a Christ figure before finally saving mankind from the future and etc. Oh, and, AHHHHHHHARRRGGGGGGGHHHHH…there’s this supremely awesome final fight scene:

At Rental Rehab, there’s nothing we love more than a good film-based drinking game as evidenced here, here and here. As such, we offer, The Cyborg Drinking Game. Rules are outlined below:

Gather your preferred post-apocalyptic beverage of choice. This could be a nice bottle of red to symbolize the blood Christ Van Damme shed for you, or a bottle of scotch to help you forget every time you have an extended flashback of your dead lover who, because of your small penis, you were unable to save. Got it? Great, you’re ready to begin:

  • Take a drink every time a cyborg is mentioned, shown or plays a pivotal role in the movie.

OK. That’s it. Game over. At this point, you are entirely sober and can drive yourself to the cinema to watch a movie that doesn’t completely suck all of the air out of the Thunderdome. You’re welcome.

Rental Rehab review by Tricia, with a special thanks to the Serba Sucky Sinema for hosting Cyborg as part of a recent reunion lineup of le’film terrible.

*Figure accurate as of 2:49 p.m. 8/14/11


Filed under Audience Participation, Awesome Action, Bad Movies, Contains Jean-Claude Van Damme, Future World

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Review: Special Guest Review by Vytautas Malesh

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Movie

A sequel? It's gotta be good!

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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Title Page

Press "A" to Start

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.

Jack McBrayer Kenneth 30 Rock

Speaking of breakout roles, here's Jack McBrayer.

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.

Corey Yuen Director No Retreat No Surrender 2

At least now we know who to blame.

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.

Cynthia Rothrock No Retreat No Surrender 2


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.” 

Charlie Chan brother Thai John Waters

Horry go rightry do raundry.

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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Brothel

Exhibit A

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. 

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Scott Red Light District


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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Scott Mack Fight

Where ya gonna find a Kay-Bee Toy Store/where ya gonna find...Kay-Bee?

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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Torture

Oh yeah, take it all baby.

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 Rothrock No Retreat No Surrender


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.

Mack Scott No Retreat No Surrender 2 Movie

Mack, old buddy -- good to see you! Chewbacca you still hanging out with this loser?

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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Army Man

At last -- the heavy!

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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Monk Fight Scene

Scott, and Mack's stunt double.

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.

Cynthia Rothrock No Retreat No Surrender 2

It's like the female equivalent of the ding-ding.

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. 

Thai John Waters No Retreat No Surrender 2

What's Thai for "I should have paid my SAG dues?"

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.


No Retreat No Surrender 2 Airplane

No, please, take me instead.

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. 

Cynthia Rothrock Dies

Did I lie? I did not lie.

 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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 End Fight Scene

That. Just. Happened. Did it blow your mind?



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.

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Harrison Ford

I got a bad feeling about this.

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. 

No Retreat No Surrender 2 Karate Kid

I got my black belt and also a Ninja Turtles pizza party.

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. 

Cynthia Rothrock 105 pounds of spunky blonde death

105 pounds of spunky blonde death.

I lied – here’s the phone scene with Thai John Waters Charlie Chan.

Written by Vytautas Malesh

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Filed under Awesome Action, Bad Foreign Romance, Bad Movies, Guest Review: Vytautas Malesh, Insulting to the Military, U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!

Counterpoint: Secretary Attains Wall Street Investor Status in 3 Weeks

Working Girl Movie Poster Griffith Ford Weaver

How to Sleep Your Way to the Top

November 18, 1988 – New York, NY – Wall Street Investment bank employee Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), 30, was offered a job as head of the Mergers and Acquisitions department this week despite her lack of experience and continued complaints about her performance from prior managers at the bank. “She wrote that I was a ‘sleazoid pimp with a tiny little dick’ on our electronic stock ticker crawl display,” complained previous manager David Lutz (Oliver Platt). “Is that means for a promotion now? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.”

Oliver Platt Working Girl Movie

Oliver Platt - sees same 'face guy' as Mickey Rourke

“Well, he deserved it,” countered a smug McGill sitting in her new corner office replete with Mac SE and private Sanka station. “He tried to set me up with one of my superiors (Kevin Spacey) in order to better my career. That jerk picked me up in his private town car, offered me high-end champagne and blow and tried to take me out to a swanky hotel. I told him to buzz off and jumped out of the car, marched home in my trainers to my shabby little apartment, and nuked a nice warm sanctimonious bowl of Dinty Moore.  I showed those bastards.”

Following her reassignment to a new department, Tess quickly moved up the ladder by impersonating her new boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), after Parker suffered a leg injury while skiing in Europe. After an extensive getting-to-know-you period of interaction with Parker before the accident, one week at most, McGill could accurately mimic Parker’s voice on the telephone, fit into Parker’s wardrobe, and hold meetings in Parker’s office without remonstrance from any co-workers at the bank.

In yet another fortunate turn of fate, McGill unexpectedly charms Parker’s beau Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) into falling in love with her. Trainer, of course, is also the primary executive contact for Dewey Stone, the company with whom McGill is pitching an upcoming merger. “How, in all of the romantic comedies based in New York, would I accidentally go to bed with the very man who I had an important meeting with the next day?” muses McGill as she removes her leg warmers and puts on her pumps.

“Of course I got wrapped up in the fun,” friend Cynthia (Joan Cusack) says drolly, using air quotes. “I had to pretend to be her secretary so she could keep up appearances with Jack. Nevermind that my desk is in the typing pool on the other side of the building. I mean, how did I get any work done when I was spending hours helping Tess with her crazy plots and schemes? For all intents and purposes, I would probably have been fired, had this plot been based in reality.

Working Girl Movie Joan Cusack Close-Up

Joan Cusack practices being John Cusack in drag.

Since it wasn’t, though, I kept my job. I even had a little fun of my own. That first night she slept at Jack’s I had given her a mammoth dose of Valium before she went out to the mixer at the bar. And then she took a bunch of tequila shots on top of it! Glad I didn’t have to hold that wall of Aqua-Net back while she puked. Ha. In fact, a regular person would probably be comatose for days after swallowing such a potent narcotic and so much booze.”

Working Girl Melanie Griffith Tess McGill

I dream of Unscented Extra Super Hold.


“Not everything worked out perfect though, ya know,” a pert McGill said. “I still had to work as Katharine’s personal assistant/nurse at home despite obvious conflict of interest issues. And the fact I’m not registered as a nurse to dispense drugs to injured patients. But hey, I’m the plucky underdog here, so I get, like, a bunch of free passes.”

As of last week, McGill had successfully started her new job as an executive, turned down a marriage proposal from her deadbeat yet still very sexy ex-boyfriend Mick Dugan (Alec Baldwin), been both fired and re-hired at the bank, had a showdown with boss Parker replete with the word ‘Johnson’ included, and moved in with a philandering man whom she had known less than one month.

Big Johnson T-Shirts

SO so glad these have all but disappeared.

–       Counterpoint review of Working Girl (1988) to Tricia’s Rental Rehab review of The Secret of My Success (1987) written by Kelli

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Filed under 80s Business Flick, Bad Movies, Bad Romantic Comedy, Contains a Baldwin