Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Rage and Honor (1992)

I can't go on like this.
Your hair... it's too awesome.

This film is one of a number of Cynthia Rothrock/Richard Norton team-up films that came out in the early 90s. Rothrock plays a school teacher named Kris Fairchild, who spends her evenings teaching underpriveleged kids "the art of martial science". Richard Norton plays Preston Michaels, a cop on transfer from Australia plus part time bodyguard. I don't know which one is Rage and which one is Honor, but they each demonstrate both qualities in abundance when they get into simultaneous yet unrelated brawls in the opening scene; Rothrock gets jumped at an ATM and Norton intervenes when a pimp starts slapping up one of his girls.

The plot kicks off proper when one of Kris' students accidentally films a drug deal gone wrong, implicating a local crime boss and the police department, including Norton who just happened to be there. The kid manages to stash the tape before he is caught and beaten to a pulp, and Rothrock and Norton bump into eachother while they are hunting around the crime scene trying to find it. This leads them to Baby, a former stockbroker who has since taken up the more respectable occupation of vagrant. While trying to track down the tape they run afoul of crooked nightclub owner "Fast Eddie" and the leader of a Warriors-esque all-female street gang named "Hannah the Hun", who has the annoying habit referring to herself in the third person.

You know, it's pretty easy to make fun of haircuts in a film like this. There's always a mullet or two and while these days it's considered a definitive white trash signifier on par with wolf t-shirts or urban wear featuring Looney Tunes characters, people tend to forget that it was quite a fashionable haircut for a decade or so. Even by the standards of the time though, this film features one of the most ri-goddamn-diculous mullets I've ever seen. It's so long and blonde that the albino guy from No Retreat, No Surrender 3 would weep bitter tears of jealousy. If mullets are truly a party in the back, then this guy is rock'n'rolling all night and partying ev-er-y-day.

The haircut in question is worn (and I do mean "worn" because it's an utterly unconvincing wig) by the chief villain Conrad Drago, played by Brian Thompson. He's the usual deep-voiced Frankenstein's monster that Thompson always plays, with an interest in pressure-point based martial arts and black turtlenecks. It also turns out that he is Kris' estranged brother, so I guess he must have changed his last name at some point. He has a partner-in-crime named Rita Carrion (Terri Treas), who manipulates him with the strategic application of blow-jobs. She's a pretty hot redhead and Norton's Angry Police Captain (tm) is played by Daisy Duke herself Catherine Bach, so the movie is pretty much wall-to-wall hot rangers, if that's your thing.

A lot of the time Norton's Australian accent goes unmentioned, but in this film it's explicitly commented upon. Norton uses Australian slang like "stone the crows" and there's a running gag about people asking him how he likes the States so far. Everyone seems to react in surprise when they find out and the bad guys refer to him almost exclusively as "the Australian". It's a little strange as I wouldn't think Australians would be that rare in L.A. The reason he's in the US is because his partner got killed on a drug bust in Victoria. Not because they both rushed in without calling for backup, but because Norton went to call for backup while his partner went in alone. I don't know, I thought it was interesting that his partner was killed because Norton dutifully followed police procedure.

For much of the film Rothrock refuses to fight her brother, but by the end of the film Norton gets a bullet in the thigh (which is completely ignored for about fifteen minutes until it becomes a plot point) and Rothrock is forced to step in and kick ass. They do the standard thing where Rothrock shows some mercy on her brother but he betrays her so she's forced to kill him, a genre trope I'm pretty sick of. Maybe I'm just too much of a pacifist, but I'd like to see more forgiveness and redemption in my action movies. They could finish on a montage of Rothrock and Thompson hanging out as bro and sis; sharing some ice cream, combing eachother's hair, doing charity work together. Finish on a high note, you know? Apart from that oversight, this was a reasonably entertaining DTV actioner.


Ty said...

Definitely agree with your review! Rothrock and Norton are a perfect team-up.

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I had a lot of fun with this one. I've dubbed Rothrock and Norton the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire of DTV action, and they live up to that here.