Sunday, June 4, 2017

Full Eclipse (1993)

Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) doesn’t just possess a quintessential US action hero name, he’s also a cop who likes to use two automatics at once while doing the traditional action movie hero lunge that usually ends in a belly flop. Even more typical, Max’s partner is too old for this shit, and reads his wedding vows to his partner in his first scene, before suggesting they wait for backup while confronted with a hostage situation. Obviously, partner guy gets himself shot when Max decides not to wait for backup, causing some choice screaming of “noooooooooooo” from our hero, as well as slow motion shoot-diving.

In a pretty funny subversion of genre expectations, the partner survives. He does end up in a coma, though. However, while Max is off annoying his and his wife’s obviously long-suffering marriage guidance counsellor by being a bit of a twat, some mysterious mystery man mysteriously sneaks into partner dude’s hospital room and injects him with some mysterious fluids. Before you can say “mysterious, sir!”, Max’s partner is better than ever, getting back to duty in what looks like about a day (after having been shot in the chest four times). There’s something not quite right with him anymore, though. Whenever he is own screen, there are growly noises on the soundtrack; he is rude to donut sellers; and when it comes to law enforcement, he acquires a style even his action movie cop partner Max finds too much, correctly describing him as “Dirty Harry on crack”. But no matter, for a couple of scenes later, partner dude walks into a bar full of cops to commit suicide in full view of his loving partner. Oh well, movie over.

But wait, there’s much, much more, for Max is soon contacted by police psychologist Adam Garou (Bruce Payne), clearly the king of subtlety. Apart from his day job, Garou turns out to be the head of a secret police kill squad who “keeps the streets clean” by murdering arms and drug dealers, theirs wives and probably their baristas too. Garou’s “pack” does this not in the old-fashioned manner of just brutally gunning their victims down while holding self-justifying speeches. Instead, they shoot up a mysterious fluid, turn into the kind of people who kill with fang and claw, and clearly have a lot of fun doing it. Garou really, really wants Max on his team, but our hero is made of somewhat sterner stuff and declines. Why, he even tries (if not terribly hard) to sic his boss on the pack, which of course leads nowhere.

Perhaps an offer he can’t refuse of extramarital doggy style sex from Garou’s pack member Casey (Patsy Kensit) will convince Max to join?

Before Game of Thrones was even a twinkle in the eye of George R.R. Martin, when the three little letters “HBO” more often than not suggested softcore porn thrillers, this happened. As the plot of the first fifty minutes or so suggests, “this” means a wonderfully insane pairing of every US action movie cliché ever with a bizarre werewolf tale directed by good old Anthony Hickox who clearly enjoys working on a TV horror movie that looks as if it had a better budget than most contemporary direct-to-DVD action films, and suffers from none of the restrictions of network TV when it comes to sex, violence, and Van Peebles.

If you’re going into this thing looking for depth, clever ideas, and what we call “good writing”, you should probably avoid this at all costs, even though the film’s use of the old “walking dead partner” is at least a bit clever. This one’s all about explosions, slow motion, dubious sexiness, Mario Van Peebles in ripped outfits, and hilarious werewolfery, packing as much awesome nonsense into a bit more than ninety minutes as possible. Judged on that ambition, Full Eclipse is a huge success, full of details that are stupid fun at its most bizarre. For example, what’s the mystery fluid that makes werewolves? Garou’s brain fluid, of course!

Also on board for your delectation are crap werewolf make-up - later on heightened to a werewolf costume that looks more like a bear costume - clear attempts at getting at some of that Wolverine fandom, a master plan that makes no sense whatsoever, gratuitous nudity, hilarious (or was that “steamy”?) sex, and one batshit insane thing a minute. All this is directed by Hickox with verve, style and as much cheese as he could pack in, which, given Hickox particular set of talents as a director, is a lot.

The only thing about Full Eclipse I did not find enjoyable is a rape scene that’s just too unpleasant to belong in a film quite this silly.

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