The Action Mutant…
wants to hit a Chazwazzer with his Didgeridoo!
Nightmaster (aka Watch the Shadows Dance)
review by Joe Burrows
(written February 3, 2008)
$18.5 million to $18.2 million. Call me fucking Kreskin! Why must the lapdog American audience always prove me right? You couldn’t give your respect in dollars to John F’n Rambo and instead spent it on a collage of lame Britney Spears jokes, which is like shooting fish in a barrel these days. What bothers me more is the MTS ad campaign that states they “took out” the elderly Action hero Rambo. Ahem, winning the weekend by $300,000 does not exactly illustrate “taking out” another film. That’s like shooting each other five times and barely killing your enemy with the sixth shot! But, history will always be written by the winners…and Australian teens will always be dressed like 1950s “greasers”. (Note: The latest episode of The Soup totally nailed down my feelings on Meet the Spartans, titling it “Reference Movie” and having the tagline “If it happened this week, it will be in ‘Reference Movie!’ Alas, MTS once again beat Rambo this weekend by about $125,000 but Rambo is currently out-grossing it at this point, $29.8 million to $28.3 million. There may be hope for you yet, America.)
The Plot, as it was:
Tom Jennings plays Robby Mason, a young pupil in a martial arts class that likes to partake in a late night obstacle course where the kids take out one another with paintball guns. Their instructor Steve (Vince Martin) is a taskmaster that runs them ragged during the day and becomes more demanding of his students as his drug habit increases. This leads the students to become more intense and when one ends up dead during one of the course runs, it becomes apparent to Robby and the others that Steve may be the death of everyone in the class.
Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Aside from the cool title and a pick up of the action near the end, Nightmaster is not much to recommend. Its existence on DVD is solely due to Nicole Kidman playing Robby’s girlfriend here (you know, back when she looked like a normal person and not the platinum blonde, anorexic wax figure she resembles now). She looks good and does well with the material she has but the rest is pretty boring. There are too many dry spots and no one outside of the main characters generates any interest. Martin does a pretty sharp Martin Kove from The Karate Kid but that just makes me want to watch that movie instead (“You’re the best…around!”). If it wasn’t for the decidedly 80s synth pop and the occasional interesting scene, I would have fell asleep. Nightmaster, indeed!
Body Count/Violence: 4. Despite the MPAA’s R rating of this, the violence is relatively light (I think they just say they watch some films and just slap any old rating on them). There’s a kendo stick fight that’s kind of neat, a fall from a balcony and some fights and weapon play but the only real bloodletting comes from a stab wound (and that’s not even much).
Sexuality/Nudity: None. Kidman is shown getting it on with some lad in a dream sequence but it’s all full clothed stuff. She does look good in all of her outfits, though (schoolgirl outfit…check!).
Language/Dialogue: Only one or two mild instances of it.
How bad was it?:
Reviews have it as either “abysmal” or “guilty pleasure”. Viewer feedback is also mixed as well but overseas audiences seem to take more out of it.
Did it make the studio’s day?:
There are no budget or box office records for the film, which was produced by Australia’s Cine-Funds Ltd. in 1987. You can find it on DVD at Amazon for under $12 and on VHS for as low as 95 cents (under its American title Nightmaster; Watch the Shadows Dance is its original Australian title).
Entertainment value: **/*****
Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.