I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Scorpion

tn_scorpionSometimes you find a movie you never heard of, and you just have this feeling that this is the one you’ve been looking for, this is gonna change your life.

But usually you’re wrong. Especially with this one. Some day I gotta learn that just because the cover is printed in special inks derived from 92% organic awesomeness doesn’t mean the movie itself is gonna even be possible to sit through. 1986’s SCORPION is a prime example of a movie where all the greatness was used up in the cover photo and none was left for the movie.

But you know, sometimes you got no choice but to flip that coin. When you come across a poster this good you gotta rent the movie:

mp_scorpion

1965 International Karate Champion (middleweight division) and author of the book Beginning Karate Tonny Tulleners plays Steve Woods, American superspy. Woods is code named “Scorpion” of course, but some dumbfuck prints his full name in the newspaper after he goes onto a hijacked passenger jet unarmed (and wearing running shorts) and single-handedly kills all of the terrorists onboard without a single civilian casualty or even injury. He’s real bummed that his cover was blown, but it doesn’t seem to affect him much. That’s probly why the Bush administration thought it was okay to out Valerie Plame – they were obviously huge fans of this movie. Anyway they stop calling him Scorpion after that, so I’m not sure why that’s the title. It could also be called JUSTACHE.

Arab terrorists are planning attacks on American targets, so Steve has to find out information, etc. He drives around in his Porsche with its giant spoiler and meets out in the open with informants, and they just tell him shit. Also there’s a guy that plays recorder.

It actually seems like a pretty easy job. Theoretically it’s dangerous, but he almost never gets into scraps or shootouts, there really isn’t alot of action in this movie. There’s a witness that gets gunned down at a hotel room where they’re hiding him, but not when Steve is there.

A surprising amount of this movie is about Steve and the other agents standing around waiting in a hospital. Usually in an action movie they just have a minute or two in the hospital to show “oh shit, his partner and/or loved one is in a coma now,” but in this one they have several very long scenes where almost nothing happens and they’re standing around talking in a hospital room or hallway. There are two different parts where they talk about whether or not anybody has called the guy’s family to tell them he got shot.

If you were forced to watch SCORPION, like for research or as part of some controversial pro-Tulleners legislation, it might be more amusing watching it with a bunch of people. There’s some weird things that happen, like at one point he goes into the hotel room to look at the place and imagine what might’ve happened there. Suddenly the phone rings and he just answers it and it’s for him. I don’t know how the guy knew to call him there or why he felt comfortable answering it. I think if it was me I’d just let it ring.

Another part, Scorpion and his partner pull guns on a suspect who’s running onto a crowded cruise ship. Everybody’s screaming and then Scorpion fires into the air. What’s that about? You think this guy really needs a warning shot? Or maybe you think gunfire is gonna calm down the panicking crowd? What the fuck, man. Never let Scorpion herd your cattle.

Also there’s a childhood flashback about trying to push over a grave as a little kid, so at the end of the movie he actually goes to a graveyard and knocks over a grave, to prove to himself that he can accomplish anything, or something like that. That’s how it ends (SPOILER). This is a shocking expose about the dark underbelly of the American intelligence aparatus, I guess. Going around desecrating graves.

If anything’s good about the movie – and that’s questionable – it’s that Steve Scorpion Woods does sort of fit people’s exaggerated idea of what a sunglasses-wearing, mustached karate asshole is supposed to be like in a movie like this, but honestly usually isn’t. At the end when the douchebag bureaucrat who told him off before comes begging him for help, Scorpion just turns his back and drives away in his awesome Porsche. It’s like a parody, except if it was a parody it would have more explosions, shootings, karate, and events.

Just by how Tulleners looks it’s easy to assume that this was meant to be a knockoff Chuck Norris movie. In fact they probly thought it could be better than Norris’s movies since Tulleners is known (in circles where people know of him) for beating Norris in a tournament. From the looks of it he won Norris’s mustache, but not his screen presence. Still, I consider Tulleners the best U.S. karate fighter today. And by “I” I mean this March 1971 issue of Black Belt Magazine:

tulleners

Although I don’t think Norris has a very good body of work, this one existing Tony Tulleners vehicle is in a different category of cheap and amateurish. Cannon made crappy movies, but this is the type of movie made by people who could never dream of making a movie worthy of Cannon, they just don’t have the skill set.

To be fair, writer/director William Riead clearly knows alot about making movies – because he directed more than 20 “Making of” documentaries for TV, including CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, FIRST BLOOD and LONE WOLF MCQUADE. But for whatever reason he wasn’t able to apply any of that knowledge to this particular movie. Later he was able to work with the real Chuck Norris in one of his lesser known roles, the anti-smoking documentary DYING FOR A SMOKE. Rick Dees and Debbie Gibson were in it too.

Anyway, cross SCORPION off the list. But I’ll keep looking. I’ll find some more good ones, I promise.

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(if you want a much more detailed dissection of SCORPION I found this one)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2011 at 1:54 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “Scorpion”

  1. ‘as part of some controversial pro-Tulleners legislation’

    Tell like it is Vern.

    Remember seeing this video cover, but never plucked up the courage to rent this (maybe i thought it was too much like Malone) and i was too much of a Monster Squad fan at that point. Dunno why it stuck in my head. Its like the Missing in Action movies or the other Chuck movie The Hero and the Terror, i can remember bits of them (Chuck with a big ass gun, as was the style at the time and also when he falls through a roof) and the covers, but can i remember what the movies were like.

    Were they really that bad ?

  2. wow Vern, you’re probably literally one of 5 people in the world who has watched this

  3. ‘Justache’ is the best title I’ve heard this year.

  4. I am one of the other four. In my defense, it came packaged with seven other equally low-impact action movies (the exception being Sho Kosugi’s amazing 9 DEATHS OF THE NINJA WHO’S NOT REALLY A NINJA BECAUSE HE NEVER FINISHED NINJA SCHOOL AND NEVER TECHNICALLY DIES EVEN ONE TIME) that I bought for nine bucks so at least I got maximum value out of the deal. And Vern’s right, there’s nothing to recommend this movie except the cover. But what are you gonna do? When you see a cover with a guy in aviators jumping mustache-first through a plate glass window, you watch that fucker. That’s just what you do. You’ll probably regret it, but you can take comfort in the fact that you never had a choice.

  5. I don’t know, Jam, I think JUDO’S FIGHTING NUNS has some legs.

  6. Wow this cover brings up memories of seeing it in the video store when I was a kid and thinking “this movie looks awesome”. Which brings me to this grumpy lament – now with Netflix, Instant, and Redbox, I actually don’t know if I’ve seen an awesome DVD cover recently. It’s a dying art, kinda like the liner notes in CD’s.

  7. I remember seeing this on the shelf at the videostore I worked at in the 80’s and 90’s. Just sitting there. Collecting dust. I do not think anyone ever rented it.

    Even with free rentals, I couldn’t be bothered to have a look.

    Thanks for taking one for the team Vern.

  8. This seems like the kind of thing someone should remake, just to attach that cover to an actual decent film. Possibly starring Dennis Farina.

  9. Well, if this doesn’t prompt Vern to do a Chuck Norris retrospective I don’t know what will. Silent Rage, Silent Rage, Silent Rage, Silent Rage.

  10. I would have thought nun-chucks would be more appropriate.

  11. Less presence than Norris? Was he dead?

    Incredible cover though.

  12. I am starting the screenplay for the “Justache” movie as we speak …

  13. neal2zod, I agree with you that movie posters and in turn DVD/Blu-Ray packing art is on the decline, but I think Netflix has in some ways preserved that old local video store feel. I love that I can skim through pages of movie packing art in the instant que section of Netflix and find stuff similar to SCORPION. Especially since many of the streaming films do not have DVD releases they use awesome old art from their original release.

  14. Just to let you know Vern (even though you never reply to any of my fucking posts and I’ve bought your books and bought into your wonderful world of reviews and nonsense, although I suspect this is because I don’t possess the linguistic prowess of a “Mr Majestic” or “CC” or whoever the fuck) that broadcasting in Britain (the UK) on Monday night is a special one off, one hour long documentry entitled “Steven Seagal v Justin Lee Collins”. Justin Lee Collins or JLC as he is know on our shores, was one of two hosts of the Friday Night Project which you refered to in “Seagalogy” as the “corny” show in which Seagal presented for an evening.
    By the looks of the trailer, JLC steps into the world of Seagal which may incorporate exposing his madness along with his cult, yet done in a loving manner. I cannot tape this for you as I have Sky + which is your version of Tivo(?) and cannot download this to a hard copy. I suspect you have people over here who can do you a favour or, if not, it will end up on Youtube.
    I’m outy.
    Thought you should know as this is essential viewing for any Seagalogist

  15. “justache” lol

    “In a time of international terror, justice wears a mustache…”

    good neologism

  16. Thanks Solo. I did hear about this from one person who hopefully is gonna hook me up. But I didn’t know it was the Friday Nights guy. Sounds great.

  17. Hey!! No probs Vern. If I can get a copy then I’ll let you know. I’ll also post to tell you how it went down. Cheers.

  18. Woo, I’ll set my video recorder.

    I remember watching this film ages ago on TV, and wouldn’t have minded if I didn’t. Think I switched it off after the first half hour or so. Make of that what you will…

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