Thursday, August 11, 2016

In short: Shadow Fury (2001)

Shadows, don’t they make you furious, too? Anyway, we’re in the near future (some time after the war on the Comoro Islands, apparently), which looks exactly like 2001. But there are clones - mostly chicken clones because human cloning is forbidden - and other mildly science fictional stuff.

The three chief scientists of the main cloning company hire liver-damaged bounty hunter Mitch Madsen – sometimes Madison because most character names here fluctuate depending on the actor using them – (Sam Bottoms) to find and kill their former colleague Dr. Oh (Pat Morita) who has grown himself some excellent mad scientist/Japanese fighting video game hair, and some clones, and wants to kill them, conquer the world, win Mortal Kombat, or something.

Despite the presence of super mega ninja clone Takeru (Masakatsu Funaki whose chest I now feel rather intimately acquainted with what with all the ripping off of his shirts here), Mitch manages to kill Oh. Unfortunately, Takeru escapes, and he’s programmed to kill Oh’s surviving ex-clients. On the positive side, Takeru also possesses the perfect human liver that could replace Mitch’s, so there’s rather good motivation for our hero to continue his work by protecting the scientists. When Takeru’s not trying to kill someone he spends time with Minnie Mouse voiced prostitute Sasha (Cassandra Grae) who just might be able to help the clone ninja lose his killer instinct, and perhaps hook him up with Godfrey Ho.

To complicate things, the scientists Takeru is programmed to kill - apart from sexy girls scientist Dr. Foster/Forster/Forrester (Alexandra Kamp) of course – are indeed evil and have their own program of evil killer clones with the strength of a boxer, the agility of a gymnast, and the psychology of Jack the Ripper (seriously). Why, might our near future hold a team-up between a crap ninja and a double-crap alcoholic (no doctor, the poison gas destroyed my liver, not me marinating it in alcohol) bounty hunter?

Usually, you didn’t get such a load of adorable bullshit in your cheap direct to DVD US action movies anymore in 2001, but thankfully, some Japanese gentlemen on the production and writing side, and director Makoto Yokoyama still carried the true spirit of the genre, and let it out quite wonderfully in this very special movie. Shadow Fury has it all: action sequences that start out ridiculously bad but end up ridiculous and quite good, the best mad scientist hair ever, some hilarious yet straight-faced “drama” that probably would work better if the film’s dialogue weren’t generally absurd, and often so wrong it’s funny.

Because it is that sort of film, we also get an evil kid clone and his various older versions, lots of hairlessness, a guest stint by Fred Williamson himself as Mitch’s black market weapons provider with a deep love of ninjas, some damaged clones in very bad wigs for the film’s more tokusatsu-style fight scenes, and lines like “I don’t want your goddamn liver! I want your help!”.

And if that doesn’t convince you of the Shadow Fury’s artistic merits, I don’t know what could.

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