Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bare Knuckles

Life is tough when you are a registered bad-ass.  Take, for instance, Zack Kane (Robert Viharo).  Sure, he could take his gypsy good looks and join up with Dexy's Midnight Runners, but opts out of the easy road and is instead a bounty hunter that specializes in punching the faces off the bounty hunted.

Sometimes, though, even a bad-ass needs to be sensitive.  After protecting a lady from a terrible actor grabby guy in a pizzeria parking lot, the gal realizes that she left her purse in grabby guy's car.  Being the soft touch he is underneath that tough exterior, Kane doesn't say a word and starts eating pizza as she starts to walk away.  Somehow, she senses the obvious indifference crazy loner smoldering passion in her savior's heart.  She turns around, walks up to Kane and says, without preamble, "But I don't even know your name."  Cut to them in (presumably) Kane's place, post-coitus.  So fellas, take note: fight, pizza, silence, irresistible to women, in that order.

This movie is about Kane on the search for a serial killer in the Los Angeles area.  The killer stalks women at night and kills them with karate moves.  "But, Brian, anyone can use karate moves to become a serial killer."  Very true, but this one differentiates himself by wearing a leather bondage mask and hissing while he kills.  The fact that he can wander the streets dressed like that and not attract attention is enough to persuade me to stay out of LA.  How does one track down a masked serial killer?  By visiting all the fetish shops and finding out who bought a bondage mask and has a tendency to hiss and/or do karate?  Or maybe by checking out karate classes and seeing if anyone is wearing a bondage mask and/or hissing?  Or, perhaps, looking for a man-sized cat that owns a bondage mask and has mad karate skills?  Those methods are for chumps.  Instead, Kane uses a montage sequence to question some transvestites, the elderly, and talk on a pay phone.  Eventually, Kane finds a lead, teams up with an old partner, Black (John Daniels), finds a reluctant witness (Gloria Hendry) and uses his pizzeria girlfriend to find the killer.  Karate, jive-talk, serial killing, a (very slow) car chase, and something bordering on the line of blaxploitation ensues.

I'm not going to waste time discussing the quality of Robert Viharo's acting or the writing/directing talents of Don Edmonds.  This film is completely lacking in quality and talent.  After about fifteen minutes, I started wondering how bad this movie could get.  Then a strange thing happened.  After noticing the abrupt changes in the movie from scene to scene (is this a detective movie?  A martial arts movie?  A horror movie?), I suddenly got in on the joke.  This is a terrible movie, but it is definitely Lefty Gold.

What makes it Lefty Gold?  Well, the karate is definitely a factor.  The killer (Michael Heit), aside from his mask-wearing, cat-sounding attacks, has a pretty high opinion of himself.  When he prepares to fight his teacher (and his mustache) to the death, he says, "My speed and power amaze even me."  Hey, director, if an actor is going to make that claim, maybe you could at least try to give the impression of power and/or speed.  Instead, we are treated to a sequence where the killer is either about to spit on his teacher, or he is coughing up a furball (further support for the cat-man killer theory). 

Or maybe the Lefty Gold comes from the white leading actor in a movie with blaxploitation music (the film,in fact, is credited as being blaxploitation on Wikipedia) beating up a bunch of Black Panthers?  Perhaps the determining factor is when the trailer has a character named "Black" (played by a black man) blending into the shadows?

One of my favorite scenes is when Kane beats up a gay bar populated exclusively by overweight, ugly homosexuals, most of who are more flamboyant than Johnny from Airplane!

I don't know how GLAAD has failed to give any awards to Bare Knuckles for their sensitive portrayal of the LGBT community, but I suppose sometimes independent movies like this fall through the cracks.

There's more to love in this movie (a car chase where the car is clearly faster and more maneuverable than the motorcycle, for example), but I don't want to spoil the ending.  And also because my notes on the movie are baffling me.  "Dude dresses like Cobra Commander"?  You would think that would stick in my memory, but apparently not.  Is this a good movie?  Not at all.  It is obviously trying hard to be as testosterone-filled as possible, and every time it tries to be macho and ends up looking stupid, I smiled.  I wouldn't recommend watching this film without a sarcastic friend, though.
As a film, Bare Knuckles deserves
But, as seen through the rose-colored lenses of Lefty Gold, it earns

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