Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In short: Angel of Destruction (1994)

Nudist pop singer Delilah (Jessica Mark) has acquired the attention of a rather unpleasant fan in the shape of former commando Robert Krell (Jimmy Broome). After some unpleasantness surrounding the rape and murder of his wife years ago, Krell has gone off the deep end, murdering prostitutes in mock marriage ceremonies and collecting their ring fingers.

One of these fingers Krell sends to Delilah. The singer is rather displeased by that sort of gift and hires hard-boiled private eye Brit Alwood (Charlie Spradling) to protect her from any further advances. Alas, five minutes after Brit gets on the case, Krell walks into her office and kills her. And that would be that, if not for the fact that Brit has a sister, hard-boiled undercover cop and hater of clothes covering her belly Jo (Maria Ford).

Jo does not take kindly to people walking around killing off her close relations, and decides to finish the job Brit didn't even manage to start. Protecting Delilah turns out to be quite difficult, for Krell's not the only one who wants to see the singer dead. Delilah's record label boss, the Mafioso Sonny Luso (Bob McFarland), has realized that Delilah's career has hit rock bottom (supposedly, on-stage nudity is no longer in fashion; as if the classics ever went away), and wants to cash in on her life insurance. Fortunately, Jo is experienced in all sorts of ass-kickery, even bare-breasted fighting.

You might remember Angel of Destruction's director and writer Charles Philip Moore as the (dubious) genius behind Demon Wind, a film that features so much more than gun fighting stage magicians. Angel is not quite as beholden to utter, personal madness, and instead successfully attempts to infuse the US "martial arts" direct to video action movie with as much sleazy exploitation values and bared breasts as possible. The film is also, brilliantly, a remake of Moore's own Blackbelt that replaces Don "The Dragon" Wilson with Maria Ford. That film must have been a rousing success, seeing as Angel was made a whopping two years later.

Ironically, soft core specialist Ford turns out to be a much more charismatic and professional actor than Wilson, and the only actor on screen with a line delivery that amounts to normal human speech. While being the best actress on screen in a film full of actors of truly epic inability may not sound like a great achievement, it's pretty clear that Ford (at least here) is one of those actresses in crap movies who gives her all in every form that may be required - spouting dumb yet funny action heroine one-liners, physically threatening people with twice her body mass, doing a hilariously over-enthusiastic sex scene with a living moustache, or having a bare-breasted fight scene. It's difficult to find fault with that kind of work ethos.

The rest of Angel isn't really remarkable: there's one mediocre (this is a US movie - actually a US-Filipino co-production - after all) martial arts fight, followed by a scene of people talking entertaining nonsense, followed by a scene of some actress or other shoving her silicone into the camera, followed by another martial arts scene with loads of broken furniture, and Jimmy Broome making bug eyes that would make Amrish Puri proud, and so on, until the film's finished. From time to time, the expected low production values are broken up by something especially silly, like Delilah's stage show of the prison fetish type or some excellently placed tied up manikins. It's what I like to call good, wholesome entertainment, the sort of film that makes up what it lacks in production values by providing as much as it can of the things it can afford.

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