American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)

The American Ninja franchise is a true product of the VHS era.

Much like the No Retreat No Surrender series, they are movies of low production value which only seem to decrease in quality, but there is something about them that keeps us coming back for more. Production company The Cannon Group would exploit America’s fascination with martial arts to devastating financial effect. This had very little to do with the quality of action on show or the actors involved, owing much to the nationalistic stance of the latter stages of the Cold War as an inherently fascist cinema exploded in a barrage of invincible protagonists and patriotic exposition…

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Savage Streets (1984)

By the early 1980’s Linda Blair’s career had kind of hit the skids.

A former child model who would shoot to fame in William Friedkin’s horror classic The Exorcist, her sweet-faced innocence had long since faded, replaced instead by wanton drug abuse, high profile arrests, and a brief fling with womanising, crack tooting funkster, Rick James. She even posed for a raunchy spread in pornographic magazine Oui. Her days of wooing the mainstream with her cherub charms were well and truly behind her . . .

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Revisiting . . . Live and Let Die (1973)

At times, Live and Let Die is almost like an anti-blaxploitation movie.

Of course, it is very much a product of its time, and there is no serious slight intended, but watching it you are reminded of just how far society has come in regards to its representation of ethnic groups, so far that its often prejudiced content now comes across as laughable rather than offensive. Here, the movie’s superfly brothers are slick, drug-dealing criminals who occasionally dabble in voodoo, but classic Bond was always a franchise steeped in sweeping stereotypes, regardless of race of creed . . .

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On Deadly Ground (1994)

There is a story about Steven Seagal which may or may not shock you.

One day an executive walked into Seagal’s trailer and found the star weeping. ‘Oh, I’m reading this script,’ Seagal explained, his head shaking in disbelief. ‘It’s the most incredible script I’ve ever read.’

‘That’s fantastic,’ the executive said, ‘Who wrote it?’

‘I did,’ the star replied.

It is this kind of self-gratifying smugness that permeates Seagal’s directorial debut…

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Waterworld (1995)

Poor Kevin Reynolds.

After experiencing huge success with 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, he would be handed a budget of $175,000,000 to direct dystopian spectacular Waterworld, and although that sum may seem paltry by today’s standards, this was more than a quarter of a century ago, and at the time it constituted the world’s most expensive movie, a fact made so apparent in the mainstream media that the production was almost bound to fail, and in many quarters encouraged to…

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Revisiting . . . Aliens (1986)

A sequel that lives up to an original picture is a rare thing indeed. Even rarer is one that in some ways surpasses it, but James Cameron seems to have the formula down to a tee.

In 1991 he in many ways bested his own sci-fi epic The Terminator with Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and a few years prior he took Ridley Scott’s seminal space horror Alien and made Aliens, which for many is the superior movie of the franchise…

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