Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26 - The Hammer visits the Philippines

Black Cobra II (1990)

Director: Edoardo Margheriti
Format: TV

By 1990, former NFL hardman Fred "the Hammer" Williamson's best days were behind him. He was 52 years old and well removed from the height of his cinematic career, which came in a string of blaxploitation movies of the 1970s.

The age of 52 might not seem that old (Chuck Norris still kicks butt in his 60s), but for someone with a lengthy career in the rigours of American football, 52 might as well be 82. And the Hammer looks about that old early on in Black Cobra II (in which he plays cop Robert Malone) as he hobbles after a criminal through the streets of Chicago.

Somehow he manages to catch up to the crook and ends up blowing him away. His police captain isn't happy (are they ever?) and sends him to Manilla, Philippines on some sort of Interpol exchange as punishment.

There he has his wallet stolen at the airport and meets local cop Nicholas Hammond (your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger in the 1970s TV series THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN). Together they search for the crim who stole Malone's wallet, who ends up dead. They investigate and come across a group of shady underworld characters. What we essentially get is a buddy cop movie with two "partners" who start off not liking each other.

We're talking real cookie cutter stuff here - Malone is the loose cannon and Hammond's character the conservative cop who likes to play by the rules. Gee, I wonder if they'll end up respecting each other by the movie's end?

There's also an attractive love interest for Malone, played by some girl who never acted again, according to (despite the fact her acting isn't as bad as Williamson's or Hammond's).

Some of the Philippino cultural stuff adds colour to proceedings, but otherwise Black Cobra II is a snorefest. The acting is flat across the board (Hammond being the biggest culprit) and the action is sparse. When Williamson busts out his "martial arts" skills to beat on bad guys it's frankly embarassing watching him try to get his leg up past waist height.

The final act features shootouts, a couple of explosions (accompanied by groovy 80s-style synth-and-cowbell music) and a finale involving terrorists, but you'll be lucky if you're still awake by then.

I haven't seen the first Black Cobra (1987) or the third (released the same year as part 2 and, I'm guessing, filmed at the same time in Manilla), but if Black Cobra II is anything to go by, I'm not missing much and won't be seeking them out.

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