Thursday, 24 June 2010

Blastfighter (1984)

Moustache bros for life!

With a name like Blastfighter, and the presence of 2019: After the Fall of New York luminaries George Eastman and Michael Sopkiw, it should come as no surprise that this film was originally intended to be a sci-fi action flick. Unfortunately budgetary constraints necessitated a change in genre and Dardano Sacchetti was called in to knock out another one of his overnighters (he only wrote five scripts in 1984; it must have been a slow year). I guess he hadn't quite finished with First Blood after writing the First Blood/Billy Jack mashup Thunder, so this time he throws some Deliverance into the mix. Since they were already committed to delivering a film named Blastfighter (films were sold based on titles in those days; it was a simpler time) they also included a ridiculously big gun.

Sopkiw plays ex-cop Jake "Tiger" Sharp (best name ever), just released from prison after doing a 7 year stretch for executing the scummy hitman who murdered his wife. The first thing his best friend does after picking him up from the penitentiary is hand him a crazy big gun and drive him straight to the court house so he can assassinate the corrupt DA that ordered the hit. I always love it (in fiction) when an ex-con goes directly from prison to committing another crime, but unfortunately he pusses out at the last minute and takes his big gun to some shithole country town where he grew up.

Tiger's big gun may look like a SPAS-12 shotgun with a few useless scopes and doodads attached, but apparently it's some sort of prototype superweapon that fires "smoke bombs, flares, rubber pellets, lead slugs, armour piercing, darts, grenades, tear gas, explosives". Not shotgun shells, surprisingly. Don't get too attached to it because after he uses it to shoot an injured deer he buries it under the floorboards in his cabin and he won't be digging out for another hour or so.

By shooting the deer he angers a bunch of local rednecks who are selling the local wildlife to a weaselly "Chinaman" so he can makes herbal remedies. He pays more if the animals are still alive, since medicines are more potent if the animals are put in prolonged crippling, agony first. It's science. The rednecks are led by some idiot named Wally, who is the younger brother of Tiger's old friend Tom (George Eastman). Tom warns Tiger that if that if the conflict escalates then he's going to have to side with his brother. Tiger says he doesn't want any violence; he just wants them to treat the animals humanely. Then again, maybe he didn't have to blow up their truck by blowing up his own truck as a distraction. That was a bit excessive.

About halfway through the film this girl shows up at Tiger's cabin and starts bossing him around with no explanation as to who she is. Strangely he doesn't call the police or kick her crazy ass into the street, instead opting to sleep out on the balcony so she can have his bed. Show some balls, man! You've got to earn a name like Jake "Tiger" Sharp! Luckily it turns out that she is his estranged daughter Connie (so it's probably good that he didn't hit on her), showing up out of the blue to reconnect with her long lost dad. Look, I'm sure that Tiger would like nothing more than to hang out and feed deer with his daughter like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, but now is a pretty bad time.

Pretty soon the rednecks have killed some of Connie's friends and sent father and daughter running for their lives through the forrest. And here's Connie without a bra! Like Burt Reynolds, Connie gets a nasty broken leg and has to have the bone reset, and soon it's up to a lone Tiger to stealth-kill as many crazed hunters as he can. Indeed they seem to be multiplying by the minute, and what starts out as half a dozen guys ends up as five or six trucks packed to the brim with rednecks who would like nothing more than to give this city-slicker a 12-gauge enema. I don't know where all these murderous rednecks are coming from, but it gives Tiger a perfect opportunity to grab his super-weapon and provide some fiery vehicular explosions. George Eastman shows up in a helicopter to try and talk some sense into Tiger, later showing up in person for a final confrontation since I guess a helicopter explosion wasn't in this film's budget.

This one was directed by Lamberto Bava, who is credited as John Old Jr since this film went to even longer lengths than usual to hide it's Italian origins. Originally Fulci was attached to direct before he left to make his post-apocalyptic flick The New Gladiators, and although that might have been interesting Lamberto Bava is a good choice too. It's shot on location in Georgia, so there's some nice photography. The score features some sweet synth-y disco and a cover of Kenny Roger's Evening Star, though you're likely to be sick of both by the end of the film. It may be a bit slow in the middle, but Bava tries to make up for it in the last fifteen minutes with lots and lots of explosions.

Blastfighter may be an unabashed rip-off, but it's fairly entertaining and it wears it's influences on it's sleeve; even the banjo player from Deliverance makes a cameo appearance, or at least a convincing look-a-like. Nobody gets fucked in the ass though. If that's what you're after you should check out George Eastman's appearance in The New Barbarians.

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