FAST GETAWAY (1991) is a movie that has not made it to DVD, and the VHS cover shows a slightly Vanilla-Ice-looking Corey Haim doing a teen magazine locker pinup pose in front of a red rectangle. I was vaguely aware of its existence for many years before learning that it might be worth watching because it co-stars Cynthia Rothrock. And only when I rented it did I learn that it’s the first of only two movies directed by stunt legend Spiro Razatos. (His other one is CLASS OF 1999 II: THE SUBSTITUTE, and then he did some episodes of Team Knight Rider.)
Razatos is a stuntman going back to the early ‘80s (THEY CALL ME BRUCE, POLICE ACADEMY 2) who graduated to stunt coordinator with OMEGA SYNDROME in 1986. He also did SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2. I first became aware of him when I was impressed by the crazy low budget car stunts in the MANIAC COP movies and learned he was the second unit director and stunt coordinator behind them. He also did EXTREME JUSTICE, BAD BOYS II, TALLADEGA NIGHTS and DEATH RACE, and then he became the go-to car guy with FAST FIVE and all subsequent FAST movies, plus MONSTER TRUCKS and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS, which has some good shit in it, I swear.
So the bad news is this is a shitty looking comedy with only about 2% funny jokes, Rothrock plays the antagonist instead of the hero and everyone is wearing early ‘90s jeans that are offensive to modern eyes. But the good news is there are car chases with a ridiculous amount of drifting and squealing tires, Haim’s character is dragged behind a speeding truck hanging from a roll of chain link fence and the truck gets the top lobbed off and then has a long, excellently photographed slide down a cliff before exploding, two people drop on a wire from a terrifyingly high suspension bridge, Rothrock kicks everybody, including in the back of a moving pickup truck, and obviously there is some FAST style fighting and transferring between moving vehicles. (I should mention that the stunt coordinator is Richard E. Butler [TRON] and second unit director is Kenny Bates [KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, 6 UNDERGROUND].)
There’s a Hal Needham kind of spirit to it where it’s broad and cheesy but basically plays as stuntsploitation even though it’s about bank robbers and not the stunt industry.
Haim, in his followup to PRAYER OF THE ROLLERBOYS, plays Nelson Potter, who in the opening scene seems to be a doofus who follows a girl’s butt into a bank just in time to be taken hostage by armed robbers. In fact he’s a willing participant, which explains the terrible acting job he does as the hostage, but not how this gang gets away with a string of robberies while openly showing one member’s face.
Anyway, the ringleader is Nelson’s mullet-sporting dad Sam (Leo Rossi from HALLOWEEN II and the RELENTLESS movies), the enforcer is Sam’s girlfriend Lilly (Rothrock), and the getaway driver is a goofball named Tony (Ken Lerner, HIT LIST, RELENTLESS, THE RUNNING MAN, UNDISPUTED II). A source of friction among the gang is that during the robbery Lilly jokes about Nelson dying a virgin, and he actually is a virgin and is so horny that he tries to hang off of her when she makes out with his did and then climbs up on a bail of hay and humps it while they kiss. It’s one of those great cinematic moments that would be iconic except that everyone who saw it got together and decided it was best if we just swept this under the rug and tried to make sure nobody else found out about it.
Lilly asks Sam to abandon his own son, which is pretty not cool in my opinion, and then doesn’t want the kid to get a share. The argument leads to a pretty good scene where she beats the shit out of Sam, and then the gang splits up. She takes Tony and makes him have sex with her too much and he gets exhausted.
The movie mostly follows Sam and Nelson, who do more robberies, at one point using that very realistic and logical Bugs Bunny technique of Nelson dressing up as a lady and flirting with a teller so he’ll be horny and distracted. After that robbery the cops trap them on a bridge, which is when they do the aforementioned amazing stunt to escape. Sam wants to just rob enough to put Nelson in college to get an MBA, but he wants to keep robbing banks. They get caught, and I thought it would be funny if it just turned into a prison movie like BORN AMERICAN, but actually it gets kind of interesting when newly introduced character Lorraine (Marcia Strassman, the mom from the HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS movies) sees Nelson on TV and goes to bail him out. He doesn’t know – and is embarassingly slow at picking up on – the fact that she’s his mother.
Meanwhile, Lilly and Tony also saw them on TV and kidnap Nelson to try to force Sam to work with them and then there’s a big car-chase-shootout helicopter-blow-up truck-crash type dealie.
God bless the dead and all that but Haim’s comedic chops are not to my liking and his character is not one I find appealing. Rossi, however, is the type of charismatic offbeat character actor I dig, so there’s something to their father-son bond there. Strassman also has a strong presence so, as corny and cliched as their whole family shtick is (she disapproves of the bank robbing but also kinda ha ha wink wink maybe she doesn’t), it kinda works. Also, I’d way rather see a movie with Rothrock as the hero, but she is pretty good and even funny at times as a sexually aggressive asshole.
This was produced by purveyors of lowbrow low budget indies CineTel Films, who were behind the RELENTLESS series and HIT LIST, so that sort of explains why Razatos and much of the cast are from the William Lustig scene. And screenwriter James Dixon seems to be a buddy with Lustig’s frequent collaborator Larry Cohen, having acted in various Cohen movies including but not limited to BLACK CAESAR, HELL UP IN HARLEM, IT’S ALIVE, GOD TOLD ME TO, Q and THE STUFF before writing A RETURN TO SALEM’S LOT for him.