The Action Mutant…
doesn’t think this movie was sponsored by Carnation.
review by Joe Burrows
Here we are with another piece in the filmography of Michael Paré (who, for some reason when I see him, the phrase “beef witted, apple-john” comes to mind. Thank you, Darrell Hammond/Sean Connery). I’m sure it’s funny to muse that the guy was most likely on the verge of stardom after doing Eddie and the Cruisers (which became a cult favorite on cable & video, after a so-so theater run), only to see him delve further into direct-to-video dreck once he hit the 90s & beyond. Then again, he lives in Amsterdam when he’s not making films. You know…the pot capital of the free world. So, while your blogging about his wooden performances & the fact he’s been in both Bloodrayne flicks (Uwe Boll strikes!), remember that he’s probably rolling up a nice one with that money & doesn’t give a shit about being in a Uwe Boll pic. And even if he does care, the pot probably takes some of the edge off.
The Plot, as it was:
Paré stars as Scott Youngblood, a Marine Sergeant that learns that his sister Kim (Lynda Bridges) died in Spain. He soon comes to realize that she was a callgirl for an influential mobster named Silke (Eddie Avoth) & that she was murdered when she realized she was in over her head. Getting no help from a crooked police force, Youngblood teams up with slightly crippled photographer Jake (Peter Crook) & feisty callgirl Virginia (Tawny Kitaen and her insane, 80s hair) to try to avenge his sister’s death…even if it means rebuffing a lucrative promotion. Seriously though, her hair is friggin’ huge. We’re talking football helmet here!
Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
True, the Justice in Instant Justice is far from instant, as the movie runs for 101 minutes. However, without that running time, how could it be considered amongst the pantheon of “Big, Dumb & Loud” Action pics of the 80s? In that respect, it certainly fits the second part of that category to a tee. Writer/Director Craig T. Rumar (to whom this film is his only credit) puts together a stock revenge story without a non-cliché bone in its body, starting with Paré as the brawny Action hero. The man can’t put forth a competent emotion, even when he’s only required to yell at people (which he does a lot of). However, that made for about half of the requirements for an 80s Action star (the other: smart ass one liners & lots of them) so he hardly suffers any long lasting damage. Crook provides the sole standout performance as he adds some (intentional) humor as the sidekick & old pro Charles Napier adds some well-needed credibility as a head military officer (he should; he seemingly can play these military guys in his sleep). I wouldn’t know anything about Kitaen’s part, since her hair distracted me every time she showed up. It looked like a muskrat died atop her head and grew a mullet. Add to that shoulder pads that would give Lawrence Taylor envy & you have two of the many laughable elements that keep this from being boring at least. I would have thought Youngblood outrunning a speeding car or Jake being fairly agile for a dude with a cane would have done me in but even those elements can’t compare to the relationship between Youngblood & Virginia. You know the type by now: at each others throats one minute, caressing in the shower the next without much of a transitioning point. It’s been done before (and better) but Instant Justice provides some brain-dead, good fun for anyone with the right amount of tolerance (or alcohol) for cheesy 80s Action. No, really…I’m surprised her hair didn’t jump off of her head and attack people!
Body Count/Violence: 9. Considering the era, the number is pretty disappointing & the carnage isn’t nearly sufficient enough for a revenge tome. That said, there’s the required shooting, barroom brawling, car crashing, explosions, window crashing, frying pan fu (a la Joe Bob Briggs), glass bottle weaponry, etc. The best death would have to be Youngblood running a mobster (on the hood of a Trans-Am the hero heisted) back first into the front propeller of a bi-plane & leaving a nice, splattered blood spot on the hood.
Sexuality/Nudity: Bridges shows partial nipple in her scene & Tessa Hewitt provides the film’s gratuitous nudity fix, showing every bit of T&A in a photo shoot scene. Kitaen doesn’t get naked in the aforementioned shower scene but I doubt I could have focused on her goods anyway. Really, her hair should have been doing the cartwheels in the “Here I Go Again” video.
Language/Dialogue: A few F-bombs here and there, along with milder obscenities.
How bad was it?:
Not much in the way of reviews but viewer feedback has it as pretty bad & maybe slightly below the standards of the time. And they were just as distracted by Tawny’s hair as I was.
Did it make the studio’s day?:
Despite the somewhat name leads, Warner Bros. & Mulloway Limited distributed Instant Justice straight to VHS in America in January of 1987. According to this helpful article, IJ was marketed with Top Gun-style graphics & its star at the forefront. It apparently worked, as the flick went on to sell over 40,000 copies (an impressive number for a direct-to-video release). It has not found a DVD release as of yet so VHS (as low as 75 cents on Amazon, bitches!) is the only way to go for now.
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****
Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.