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  Armed Response Fearsome Family
Year: 1986
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Stars: David Carradine, Lee Van Cleef, Mako, Lois Hamilton, Ross Hagen, Brent Huff, Laurene Landon, Dick Miller, Burr DeBenning, Michael Berryman, David Goss, Dah-ve Chodan, Conan Lee, Sam Hiona, Bob Hevelone, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Bobbie Bresee
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Yakuza boss Akira Tanaka (Mako) has been crossed by one of his underlings, and when he calls the young man to his office a price must be paid. After giving him a dressing down, Tanaka tells him he knows what he has to do, which is cut off one of his fingers as a tribute; the henchman clenches his teeth and goes through with it, for which he receives monetary compensation, and when he walks to the car his girlfriend is shocked at what he went through but relieved he is still alive. However, he isn't for much longer as when they start the car to drive off, there is a huge explosion: there was a bomb connected to the ignition. Meanwhile, in the bar of Jim Roth (David Carradine), trouble brews...

When you see a film whose title is immediately preceded by a tiger claw slash on the screen, then the words come up, then they are broken by a bullet hole, you pretty much know what you're letting yourself in for and so it was with Armed Response, as if that action template title that tells you very little about what it was about was not enough. It was one of those countless Fred Olen Ray productions, featuring a bunch of hasbeens as headliners, though they were not so past it that they didn't continue to command a cult following. Carradine's career was somewhat overshadowed by the fact he masturbated himself to death, but he was a tried and true action star.

Probably prefer to be remembered for that too, rather than his exit from this life, but when you saw him in material like this which constituted too much of his later work, it's no surprise that he would be recalled in the public imagination for that rather than blasting bad guys with great big guns in such efforts. Undistinguished to a fault, this puttered along from scene to scene, occasionally offering as much bullets, fists and explosions as the low budget would allow, though to be fair Ray seemed to have a bit more at his disposal than was often the case, possibly down to the cast who included a handful of names who for his work were fairly starry - when Dick Miller and Laurene Landon team up, fans get interested.

Though it was the teaming up of Carradine and Lee Van Cleef, who played his father, which was the better proposition in the minds of many. On the other hand, the latter was patently getting on a bit and therefore far too old to convincingly get into unarmed combat as the script demanded of him, no wonder his scuffles were generally over within seconds. Add to that the fact that Van Cleef really wasn't appearing very much, at the beginning and the end in the main, and you might anticipate Carradine to take the larger quotient of the story, yet even then that was not the case as Ray, with both eyes on how much he had to pay these two stars, preferred to limit their screen time to how little he could get away with within his means.

All that was to say, if you were a big Brent Huff aficionado then you may be more satisfied with Armed Response than a Carradine or Van Cleef fan, or for that matter if you were a Michael Berryman fan (and who isn't?) as he played Mako's right hand man presumably because he was available rather than to defuse the aggressive anti-Asian bias, dressed as a ninja and handing out fortune cookies, or misfortune cookies in his case when he tended to see to it the recipients did not last too much longer. Every so often Ray would throw in a spot of personality, such eccentricities as seeing Berryman start finger jiving to a tune on the soundtrack after offing another character, and this could have done with a lot more of those bits of business to make it stand out further from a market that in 1986 when this was released was overcrowded with a bunch of very samey movies. If that sort of effort was what floated your boat, or more aptly was the perfect accompaniment to your beer and pizza on a Friday night, then this would trouble you very little, but for everyone else, there were better things to see this cast in. Music by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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