Sunday, March 23, 2008


The Action Mutant…
doesn’t want to be out like Swayze.


review by Joe Burrows

According to the trivia section on Fred Williamson’s IMDB page, he perpetually wears his Super Bowl I ring. So, for all of those people that have always asked the question “Why doesn’t Fred Williamson ever play against type…you know, like as a librarian or some other nerdish figure with glasses?”…well, now you know. How would he explain the Super Bowl ring, huh? It’s not because he would look egregiously out of place. No! It’s the ring, bitch! He also explained once that his films will be hits as long as he beds all the girls and wins all of the fights. As Peter Griffith once put it, “That’s the smartest thing anyone’s ever said about anything!” And don’t trust whitey. Then again, that’s just obvious.

The Plot, as it was:
Big Fred stars as Thomas Fox, an L.A. detective who gets a tempting offer from…a rich white guy (doesn’t this sound familiar)! J.T. (Chris Connelly) pays Fox to travel to Europe to find his missing daughter Susan (Donna Owen). After trekking through Cannes and Rome with help from a sexy socialite (Beatrice Palme) and her swishy, homosexual karate roommate (Cleo Sebastian), Fox finds the girl but trouble finds him everywhere. You know what’s next…nothing is as it seems, there’s more than meets the surface, blah, blah, blah, etc. And no, I wasn’t kidding about the whole “swishy, homosexual karate roommate” thing.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Well, Foxtrap is better than the previous Williamson film I reviewed (The Messenger) but that’s like saying a firing squad is slightly better than being stoned to death. In other words, they’re pretty much the same movie, both in story and quality. The European locales featured are about the only classy thing involved in the production. Its 88 minute runtime makes for trashy and cheesy fun but the action is awkward in its fits and starts. There’s a fight scene in an alley that made me think backyard wrestlers would have choreographed it better. Williamson (again the director and taking story credit) makes sure to throw in a few red herrings to make things seem more involved than they already are but the characterization is non existent (even by genre standards) and things move from one trashy sequence to another. Yes, I know that demoralization of women kind of goes with the territory in the genre but its depressingly noticeable here. All of the females are drugged, raped and/or beaten up (Palme seems the most beneath this material, though they’re all just there for eye candy) but hey, Fred gets to screw most of them so it’s all good, right? As expected, this would have been right at home ten years earlier than its release date but it’s only moderately successful in its trashiness. Add in the predictable conclusion and the laughable dialogue and it adds more to the fact that you feel like you’ve seen this before (and if you’ve seen a Chuck Bronson film before, you have).

Body Count/Violence: 21. The first half lags in action, with that embarrassing alleyway scuffle being the highlight. However, Big Fred soon begins to take care of business with some gunfire and others throwing in the occasional stabbing, beating and car explosion. The only novel killing is when Sebastian floats gaily in front of two goons, comes on to them and spin kicks them both (sending one drowning in a fountain).

Sexuality/Nudity: There’s more than a fair amount of nudity here, which is a Williamson staple. Daniele Romer briefly shows her breasts while putting on a shirt and Owen shows the same in a dimly lit closet (there’s also a gratuitous upskirt shot of Owen that doesn’t show much but is gratuitous anyway). Palme shows her nice T and very nice A in a tender love scene with the director. There’s also a woman’s rack on a hotel billboard when Williamson checks in to Cannes.

Language/Dialogue: Only the occasional mild to strong obscenity.

How bad was it?:
The viewer feedback doesn’t give it much love, yet there aren’t any reviews (that I know of) to compare with.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Our friends at Po’ Boy and Realtà Cinematografica filmed this in 1985 (you can tell because there is a poster of Death Wish 3 outside the hotel at Cannes!) and it was released in the U.S. in February 1986. No box office or budget figures are available and it can be found only on VHS under the MGM Soul Cinema label.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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