Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 20 - Instant Rage

my VHS cover for Instant Rage

Instant Rage (1989)
Director: Godfrey Ho
Format: VHS (Filmpac)

After enjoying Ninja USA so much yesterday, I decided to throw another ninja flick into the old VCR. Instant Rage seemed a good bet for more cheesy, unintentionally-funny good times. I mean, look at that cover - it has the pre-requisite ninja, plus an exploding helicopter, trucks smashing cars out of the way, a girl having her face ripped with some kind of hook... how could it not be all sorts of awesomeness?

Let me tell you how.

The main culprit is the plot. If you read my Ninja USA review, in it I asked "who needs plot to get in the way of action and laughs?". Well, it turns out, I do. At least a semi-coherent one anyway. Instant Rage's plot is a mess, but doing a bit of research on director Godfrey Ho (billed as Philip Fraser), it's easy to see why.

Apparently Ho loved him a ninja flick. According to IMDB he has directed 118 movies - 51 with word Ninja in title (including the awesomely-named Full Metal Ninja and Zombie vs Ninja the same year as Instant Rage). And apparently this king of the Hong Kong z-movies was known for taking two or three sources (usually including unfinished Philipino and Thai efforts) and mixing them together to make his end products.

So in Instant Rage there's scenes involving a guy with super-human strength, who joins with a woman and her uncle to try to bring down a mafia family. I think. Then there's totally unrelated scenes involving two caucasian ninjas, who... uh, well... they have some sort of rivalry going on. I think there's also some sort of love triangle - two chicks fight over one of the guys, to which a cop says "Boy if I had two ladies fighting over me I wouldn't be able to control myself!"

The aimless plot wouldn't matter if the action was non-stop, but there are way too many boring sections that get in the way of the butt-kicking. They're not even cheesy enough to keep it interesting.

There are a few laughs to be had - see a guy get killed when he can't escape from an incredibly-slow moving bulldozer and the ninja fights have the usual cheesy magic (disappearing into thin air, throwing explosions) - but the best thing about Instant Rage is its music. It's all shamelessly stolen from other, bigger-budget movies, making for a score that sounds far too classy for a movie of this quality. I recognised a piece from Nightmare on Elm St, and even 10 seconds of the keyboard opening of Bon Jovi's Let it Rock.

My last criticism of Instant Rage is that it suffers from falsecoveritis. Where is the exploding helicopter? The truck smashing through cars? The chick taking a hook to the face? There is a ninja, but even that is false advertising to a certain degree. This is 90% a mafia flick and 10% a ninja movie, with gunplay far outweighing martial arts.

Wow, I've written alot about a movie I didn't enjoy very much. I will say I'm happy to own the VHS of this movie because it seems it's quite rare. As far as I can tell it has never been released on DVD. In fact, the internet has very little info on it. doesn't have a listing for its actors, and the actors named on the back of the video box are generically named (Elton Gibbs? The love child of Elton John and the Bee Gees maybe?) and don't correspond to anything on IMDB.

In closing... Instant Rage isn't even bad enough to be good. There's very little here to enjoy. Go find Ninja USA instead.

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