80’s Trash of the Week: The Warrior and the Sorceress

As much as I love Conan the Barbarian, I have to blame all the terrible sword & sorcery movies that followed on its great success. Even David Carradine got into the act with 1984’s The Warrior and the Sorceress, where he plays Kain the warrior. Not Kwai Chang Kane, either. In this post-apocalyptic remake of Yojimbo, he wears a black cloak with a red stripe, and carries the finest sword and throwing knives to be had at at the Rennaissance Faire.And as you can guess from the title, there’s a sorceress, but she comes later. We meet Kain as he struts into a town lorded over by the thugs of Bal Caz and Zeg the Tyrant, who battle over control of the town well. When Kain comes to town, he is met by Bludge the Prelate – everyone here is named after a Tarot card or something- who tells him the score. Carradine plays Kain as cool as usual, with a sly grin that says “yeah, I’m starring in a real piece of shit this time.”

And the Oscar winner for fight choreography isn’t…

Bal Caz looks like Andrew Zimmern with a topless slave girl on his right and a talking Gila monster advisor on his left. Kain starts playing the two bad dudes against each other in true Yojimbo style- though to be true, the story was Dashiell Hammett’s first, with Red Harvest. The thugs didn’t even bother to cut their mullets or grow them out, but that makes it even more entertaining. Zeg looks like Robert Patrick with hemhorroids, and he holds Naja the Sorceress prisoner; he wants her to create for him the “Sacred Sword of Yura” which can cut stone, I think. Because he tries to chop stone with his sword, and when it breaks, he slaps her around.

It was tough to find this rare photo of the Sorceress with clothes on.

In this post-apocalyptic hell-world, not only is the water is controlled by sword slobs in ragtag outfits, but the women are forbidden from wearing any tops. Especially the sorceresses. All the time. Now, you know I like the boobies and love sharing them, but this is like Carradine is leading a National Geographic exploration to the lost tribe of the sword-wielding bikers and their boobie bitches. Soon Kain has the two leaders in a gang war, the diaper-clad Bal Caz on his litter vs. Zeg and mullet marauders; while they mess around, Kain kidnaps the Gila monster critter and the sorceress- who was part of an order he once served- and exchanges them. So the bad guys… trade them back. I think this was to buy him time to help Bludge escape, at the Sorceress’s request. But I was too blinded by boobies to pay attention. Or I was writing this. You figure it out.

Tonight on Bizarre Foods, I’m going to eat Yoda.

So then he has to go back and save the Sorceress again, by siding with Zeg and asking to see her. By now, Zeg’s captain Queef (okay, it was probably Kief) is getting suspicious, especially after the Sorceress escapes. She’s now stripped down to a thong, and I began to realize that nudity was her power, like Samson’s hair. Kain sets her free from low-budget cross between Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors and an octopus, but Queef is onto him by now. Played by Anthony de Longis who was Blade from Masters of the Universe (full review) and recently starred in Jet Li’s Fearless, he’s actually quite surprisingly entertaining in this. Sort of like Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma, the Z movie version.

Queef

They trick Kain by having a four-titted exotic dancer distract him at dinner. I wish I was kidding. The 3-boobed chick from Total Recall, eat your heart out. But this gal has a snake in her cooch or something that strikes Kain and makes him fall unconscious, but not before he tries to choke her to death. If you find yourself forced to watch this movie, fast forward to this scene if only to see David Carradine’s face when the dancer with four boobs dances out. It’s hilarious. If his eyebrow got any higher it would be off his forehead. I guess they had so many scenes with Maria Socas topless that the only way to top it was to come up with a double-breasted dancer.

Four tits, huh? Let me count those again.

They beat up Kain but he escapes while they’re fighting, thanks to yet another subplot with Burgo the Slaver, who sort of looks like a giant Jawa. If Jawas looked like leather-faced pig people under their hoods. He comes back for revenge and soon his slavers have killed the two bad guys and enslaved the whole town, including Bludge the Prelate. But luckily for us, the Sorceress has saved Kain for a change, and turned his sword into the Sacred Blade of Yura, which can cut through styrofoam anvils like BUTTA. Between Kain and his sword, and Naja with her dagger and battle thong, it’s not long before they are free. Even though Queef steals the Urine sword, Kain is able to defeat him, because David Carradine is such a bad-ass.

I will trade you all my slaves for some sunblock!

Beers Required to Enjoy: 3 or some kleenex & lotion
Could it be remade today? Not until 2084
Quotability Rating: zilch
Cheese Factor: Wisconsin
High Points: Holy shit that chick has four boobs!
Low Point: I think I overdosed on boobs
Gratuitous Boobies: Boobolplex from 09:36 till the end



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R.I.P. David Carradine

David Carradine has died at age 72, in a hotel in Bangkok. Conflicting reports from news agencies and his lawyers have it vary from natural causes, suicide by hanging, to death by misadventure from autoerotic asphyxia, or perhaps someone was helping and fled. He was found in a closet, after all. I don’t want to think of my ’70s hero with a rope around his genitals, so let’s remember all the great movies and TV shows he gave us.
Of course, the TV series Kung Fu, where he played Kwai Chang Kane and walked the Earth. Along with Bruce Lee, he helped bring martial arts to popularity in the States. But he began in Westerns, and even had small roles in The Long Goodbye (full review) and Scorsese’s Mean Streets. His dive into exploitation began with Roger Corman and Paul Bartel’s classic Death Race 2000 (full review) and othe car movies like Cannonball! and continued with unbelievable ’80s movies like Q and The Warrior and the Sorceress, which I’ve finally found and will review next week in his honor.
He managed to sneak the uber-violent Western The Long Riders in there, and he was always working, even if it was playing the bad guy vs. Chuck Norris in Lone Wolf McQuade. My favorite roles of his were Frankenstein in Death Race 2000, and when he took Bruce Lee’s role in the underrated martial arts film The Silent Flute (aka Circle of Iron). That story was originally written by James Coburn and Bruce Lee, and the story is similar to Game of Death in some ways. After Lee died, Carradine was the only choice- he not only had good kung fu chops and acting ability, but his chilly presence gave off just the right kind of mystic aloofness the role required.
Now, Carradine is probably best known as being Bill in the Kill Bill movies, and we should thank Tarantino for bringing Carradine to a big film again. He was always working, as his extensive IMDb profile shows, but languished in many forgettable roles unworthy of his presence. He was an instantly recognizable icon, and will be missed. Hopefully it was quick. We were all hoping he passed away under a pile of hookers of a massive cardiac infarction, befitting his manly image. But no matter how he died, we’ll always remember the crazy, fun movies he helped give us.

R.I.P., Mr. Carradine.

Death Race vs. Death Race 2000

I remember hunting down Death Race 2000 on VHS in high school with friend Pita-San. We were nerds who played “Car Wars” and this was on the required viewing list for players of that old game; we were not prepared for its dark satire, or the crazy camp. It amazed us. We did not think such movies were made. We loved it. So I was sort of excited about a remake, which could be a lot of fun- cars exploding, over the top villains, and a dark satirical future. I was sorely disappointed.

Frankenstein’s monster car

Let’s begin with the original. In a post-apocalyptic future, America is led by a brown-shirt President who blames all our problems on the French (some things never change). The populace is kept distracted by a violent cross-country road race in which drivers gain points by running down pedestrians in their suped-up, blade-festooned vehicles. Frankenstein (David Carradine) is the favorite driver- so called because he’s been in so many wrecks that most of him has been replaced. He drives a Godzilla-inspired Corvette with razor spines from nose to tail. His biggest rival is Machine Gun Joe (Sylvester Stallone), a gangster Guido with sadly inoperable tommy-guns and a huge Bowie knife mounted on his car; others include the Nazis Mathilda the Hun and Herman the German in their V-2 rocket-propelled Buzzbomb (complete with Prussian spike nosecone), Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov, Rock ‘n Roll High School) a cowgirl with longhorns on her hood, and Nero the pretty-boy, who thankfully gets killed first.

I hate Illinois Nazis.

It’s an utter campfest, as they plow through construction crews, guys playing chicken with them, and Rebels trying to sabotage the race. Frankenstein is saddled with a new navigator that he thinks is a government spy; he wants to win this last race so he can meet the President, and give him a handshake… with a “hand grenade!” Yeah, his metallic hand has a grenade built into it. There’s fake red blood galore, but it’s all well directed- the cars are sped up a little on camera, but they seem to be going pretty fast, and the stunts are decent. Whenever they aren’t racing and things get a little slow, director Paul Bartel wisely makes the girls (even his wife Mary W.!) show off their boobies. So all in all, it’s a slice of ’70s delight.


Carradine was fresh out of “Kung Fu” on TV and needed to break away from his Kwai Chang Cane character; Sly was probably raising money for Rocky, and they both chew into the roles with relish. The newscasters who follow the race are a mockery of TV talking heads, with a Howard Cosell talk-alike and others who drip with insincerity as government stooges. The budget is all spent on the goofy cars, but everyone involved goes at it with gusto. The Arnie movie The Running Man has more in common with this than the Stephen King story it’s based on, and while it’s pacing is slow for modern audiences, there’s nothing else quite like Death Race 2000. Name another movie where the doctors would roll out the elderly patients for “Euthanasia Day” only to be run over themselves. Paul Bartel knew how to make good trash, but this and Eating Raoul are his best. If you must see the “re-imagining” in theaters now, find a way to see the original.

Machine Gun Joe’s murdermobile

Death Race is a another video game movie from that master of mediocrity, who should be banned from having a name similar to Paul Thomas Anderson’s and Wes Anderson’s. Like a dog wiping his ass across the white carpet of cinema, he’s left a brown streak across the movie rack that cannot be ignored. I’ve seen Alien vs. Predator (the most boring of all the Alien films), Resident Evil (the worst of the trilogy), Event Horizon (probably the most overrated nerd-beloved film of all time, Hellraiser in space) and now Death Race, which mixes NASCAR, machine guns, and pinball in a prison movie. I’m told Soldier is saved somewhat by Kurt Russell, so I’ll rent that the next time I’ve watched too many enjoyable movies and need a letdown.

Driving my career into the toilet

There’s nothing surprising about Death Race. Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” Sitting Target) and his gravelly voice manage to uplift his scenes, but Jason Statham coasts by, having cast off any emoting ability sometime after Cellular. I loved him in Guy Ritchie’s movies, and as The Transporter, but he’s really become Vin Diesel’s grittier brother. Joan Allen (Manhunter, the Bourne Trilogy) must owe someone a favor; she’s horrible as the steely warden Hennessy, who runs the private prison with a cool and ruthless demeanor. The problem is she only has one note. Angie Dickinson in Payback: Straight Up was believable; Hennessy is not. Hearing her say nonsensical vulgarities like “Okay you, cocksucker. Fuck with me, and we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk!” is hilarious; you’d think McShane of the legendary Al Swearingen would have coached her on how to cuss!

Mad tite whip, yo

Crowd favorite Frankenstein died in his last race, so Hennessy frames ex-NASCAR driver Jensen Ames (Statham) for murder to get him to replace the masked marauder. Carradine voices Frankenstein in the opener, which was a nice touch (there are a few forgettable nods to the first movie). The rest of the drivers are all tokens- Machine Gun Joe is now a twofer, a gay black musclehead played by Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers); 14k is the Asian nod to the ricer Fast and the Furious crowd, there’s Pachenko the Russian, a nondescript Latino dude whose job is to yell vulgarities in Spanish, and an Aryan Brotherhood guy who’ll be the bad guy among bad guys. I was hoping there’d be an obnoxious Guido driver so I could point up at the screen and say, “hurr! he’s like me! I can now relate to this story!” They also bus in women prisoners so the gals have someone to cheer, but they are only allowed to serve as navigators- McCain must be president in 2012. The lithe ladies all have boomboxes in their cooches, which play riffs if they sway their hips in slow motion while they walk on screen. I must get Firecracker one of those. Natalie Martinez plays Frankenstein’s navigator Case, so maybe it’s just something hot Latinas are born with.

We need more uniforms like this in women’s prison

This movie is all about the action, but it’s mostly boring. Armored cars with machine-guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers hammer at each other as they lap the track, which has Power Ups (they’re actually called this) scattered around it, like Mario Kart meets Twisted Metal. The guns barely seem to hurt the cars’ armor, and most kills are of the crash & explode variety. PWSA tries to up the gore factor now and then, but it’s bad CG the few times we see a pedestrian get plowed. We actually see a guy explode as soon as a car touches him, for example; I’d rather have fake red blood on an actual stunt man, thanks. During the final lap, Hennessy releases “the Dreadnought,” a tricked out semi with a tank gun, and its wheels have those spinning blades we’ve seen a dozen times- the token Asian’s navigator gets chewed up by it, which involves her jiggling in her seat with her tongue hanging out. The driver doesn’t even get blood on him. It would have been funnier if we just heard her scream and see him get splattered with her innards, but you can’t expect clever from this Anderson.

The infamous hand grenade!

The ending seems like an afterthought and I think PWSA (pronounced Pwissa) wrote it on toilet paper in between grunts. It’s as if they ran out of time, needed a prison break, and then forgot that they didn’t kill the evil warden. When they do escape in their death cars, try not to roll your eyes when the guards chase them in regular old police cars, as if escape never crossed their minds; the cars are all rigged with kill switches on the weapons, but Hennessy never imagined they could be bypassed. They chase them with helicopters across the only bridge off the prison island, which is protected by … a chain link fence. Even prisons that don’t hold death races have better security than this. But we ran out of time, so they need to escape easily. So much for finales.

How the remake feels!

Jason Statham, what’s gotten into you? It’s an easy paycheck, I know. I really liked The Transporter. If you can’t tell what made that more fun than the latest string of movies you’ve made, fire your agent before you lose any remaining cred. We’ll always have Turkish.

And as a bonus here are two photos from Death Race 2000 that look like they’re from an S&M movie, or a Batman porno.