Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In short: Blowback 2 (1991)

The yakuza Joe (a comparatively skinny looking Riki Takeuchi) and Baku are on the run, carrying a suitcase full of money.

Their flight has led them to the Philippines, but their driver, a certain Lopez (Keishi Hunt), leads them into a trap.

The guerilla boss Yameneko (Mike Monty, known from more Italian genre movies than should be humanly possible) likes money, and he likes dead gangsters, so poor Baku's film life is cut quite short. Killing Riki is of course a different proposition. Getting riddled by bullets and falling down a cliff leaves the exceedingly manly Joe in pain but very much alive, perfectly able to make his way to Manila on foot until he finally loses consciousness in the bar of Baku's ex-girlfriend Rei (Mie Yoshida).

Just a little later, the pissed-off Yakuza begins to snarl, shoot and punch himself through Manila to take vengeance on his friend's killers, supported by Rie and the bounty hunter Ratts (Shun Sugata, whose hobbies are wearing sunglasses, grunting manly and throwing dynamite sticks) who wants to get at Yameneko too.

Atsushi Muroga's Blowback 2 is a typical early 90s direct to video Riki vehicle bound to the action film standards once brought down from some mountain or other by Charlton Heston himself, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Muroga (who would go on to direct the zombie film Junk and the first two Gun Crazy films - the watchable ones) clearly likes the genre he is working in, and while his film diligently hits all the required manly man cheapo action flick beats, it does so with more verve and style than would be strictly necessary.

I am not about to call the film big art here, or even a masterful little genre flick, but the sort of cheap and fun film that is made without the hatred for its own audience that marrs too many of its brethren and with clear knowledge of what it can afford to do and what it can't afford - artistically and financially.

The setting outside of Japan helps the film to a mood which is quite different from the typically claustrophobic and stage-bound Japanese direct to video standard of its time, with scenes full of astonishing things like daylight and mud. Obviously, Muroga uses this copious amount of outside locations for some time filling tourist shots and to stage a large amount of explosions, as it should be.

While all the shooting and bleeding to death is going on, there's also time for some well-placed homages to the Spaghetti Western (especially Django and the Dollar trilogy), the exploding huts of the Italian action film post-Rambo and even a bit of John Woo, all presented mostly in the spirit of good fun.

Add to this Riki doing what Riki does best (scowling and mugging), and the friend of a well-placed explosion will have a fun time here.


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