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CanFilm Five: Cult Film Expert and Writer Ian Jane

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Ian Jane runs the movie and music review site Rock! Shock! Pop!, contributes regularly to DVD Talk and in the past has written extensively for AV Maniacs and provided liner notes for Synapse Films, Mondo Macabro and Media Blasters. He’s currently hard at work co-writing his first book which will hopefully see publication in 2012. He lives in New York City with his pretty and surprisingly tolerant wife but was born and raised in Canada and still proudly clings to his citizenship.

For this CanFilm Five, Ian dives deep into the five finest fight scenes, brawls and battles that vintage Canuxploitation films have to offer.

5. ABRAXAS: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE
In this epic straight-to-video action/sci-fi hybrid. Jesse “The Body” Ventura proves he has what it takes to govern the fine state of Wisconsin by playing an 11,000-year-old space cop named Abraxas who sports a ponytail. He’s chasing down a space bad guy named Secundus (Sven-Ole Thorsen) who has busted out of space jail and is out to find the child he sired on Earth a few years before he got locked up. Secundus takes on the form of a chubby bearded guy in a flannel shirt and generally causes problems all over the small town where he decides to look for his kid. There are lots of blue lasers in this movie as well as some dirt-bikes, some strippers and some dopey sci-fi gizmos. This one has no shortage of action and punching but the one scene that really stands out is when Jess dukes it out with the bearded fat guy in a flannel jacket, relentlessly punching him in the face over and over again while a kid watches from the sidelines and well timed explosions erupt all around them. This one also gets bonus points for a great sequence in which two unwitting cops come up to the bad guy to take him in. When he resists, one of the cops pulls an UZI out of his coat and unloads on him but it’s no use. Only Jesse “The Body” Ventura can stop this guy with his punches… UZIs won’t work.

4. SNAKE EATER
In one of Lorenzo Lamas’ finest moments, he plays a marine named Soldier who uses the training he got from his time in the service to perform as one of New York City’s top cops. He’s the type of guy who pisses on the rulebook and will do whatever it takes to make sure he gets the bad buys, even if that involves setting crazy spike traps and tying up and torturing informants. He also rides around on a motorbike a lot, the wind blowing through his dreamy hair and making him look ever so dreamy. He’s got a perpetual five o’clock shadow and is a hit with the ladies. When his parents get killed and his sister gets kidnapped, Soldier takes off his shirt, grabs his rifle and hops on his motorboat to see that justice is served. This involves setting more traps and going “Rambo” on the bad guys. Not only does this movie serve as a one-way ticket to squib city and feature some great shoot outs but it’s got a fantastic fight scene in which Lorenzo dukes it out with a bad guy just as a giant tractor gets loose and threatens to crush both their heads. Intense! And if that doesn’t sell you on this one, it co-stars none other than Rockin’ Ronnie Hawkins. Lamas would reprise this role in SNAKE EATER II: THE DRUG BUSTER and SNAKE EATER  III: HIS LAW but the first film is still the best.

3. TIGER CLAWS
Somehow both Bolo Yeung and Cynthia Rothrock wound up in this Canuxploitation action classic in which the big bad man from China plays a kung-fu serial killer. Rothrock plays Linda Masterson who is, of course, a top cop who has to stop him from killing again. She’s got the martial arts skills to get the job done but brings along another kung fu master in the form of Tarek Richards (Jalal Merhi) just in case. Toronto stands in for New York City here, but that’s Yonge Street, not 42nd Street and they don’t do a good job of hiding it. Bolo kicks the snot out of a few people and lots of beat cops with moustaches try to help but it’s all going to lead up to the inevitable battle between Bolo and not Cynthia(!) but Merhi. But before that can happen, Tarek is accused of being the murderer and Linda  falls in love with him. Good paddle fighting and an unusually high quota of flying jump kicks make this one a lot of fun. The movie was followed by two sequels – Rothrock, Merhi and Yeung return for TIGER CLAWS II: BACK ON THE PROWL but Bolo bowed out of the third film and was replaced by a different martial artist played by Carter Wong!

2. TWIN DRAGON ENCOUNTER
The first film to feature Toronto-based martial arts instructing twins Martin and Michael McNamara features all kinds of great action, but the highlight is a scene in which our mustachioed lookalikes use their martial arts powers to stop a group of terrorists who have kidnapped their girlfriends. All of this is preceded by some pretty awesome nonsense like extended aerobic exercise scenes, the twins dealing with the aforementioned girlfriends, lots of driving around in their Twin Dragons van, and a great ’80s synthesizer soundtrack – but it’s the big fight at the end that matters the most. They warm up for the finale with a brawl on what looks to be a dock somewhere in Muskoka with loads of unnecessary slow-motion action but wind up taking the action to the bad guys’ home turf where they all train in unison and ride around on dirt-bikes. Our twin heroes put on some camo and swim to bad guy island where they spinkick the living shit out of guys, knock down some tents, use some Rambo-style bow and arrow violence to their advantage and eventually save the day. Those in the know will have no trouble spotting none other than Crazy Steve Goof, of the legendary Toronto hardcore punk band Bunchofuckingoofs, as one of the terrorists. Tell me that Yonge Street didn’t give Times Square a run for its sleazy money in the eighties.

1. ROCK N ROLL NIGHTMARE
Maybe it’s an obvious choice but it’s pretty hard to beat the big fight scene that finishes off John Fasano and Jon Mikl Thor’s Canuxploitation masterpiece. After a build up that involves a ridiculously long van ride, gratuitous shower scenes, band practices and other assorted oddities, Thor (as John Triton) accepts the challenge and transforms into an oiled-up, wild-haired warrior to do battle with the devil himself, who has taken the form of a bizarre giant puppet monster. As these two titans do battle, someone off screen lobs things at them like weird alien starfish creatures but before they even throw down, they have to argue a lot and Thor has to flex and pose in his steel bikini briefs, all to the sounds of a heavy metal soundtrack, specifically the track “We Accept The Challenge”’ performed by Thor And The Tritonz. Thor’s performance here is so committed that the low budget doesn’t matter and the fight is on such an epic scale that it completely deserves its number one spot on this list. And hey, maybe your mom was wrong and heavy metal isn’t the Devil’s music after all! BRILLIANT!

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  1. Tyler Baptist says:

    Love seeing the Snake Eater films mentioned. Personally, I think they get better as the series progresses, or at least more entertaining. Hell, the third film features checker wipes.