About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
For this episode we take another trip into the murky depths of the Drama boxset (I’ve got to start ticking these bastards off!) for a film about a sport I have no interest in. My spirits weren’t exactly high but my fears were somewhat unwarranted as this one turned out OK. Not, you know, great, but OK, which at this stage in proceedings, I consider a win.
Split Decisions stars Gene Hackman and a bunch of actors for whom IMDB was invented. The phrase “What’s he been in?” has never been uttered quite so many times by your humble reviewer, and as such I shall do my best to describe the actors to you in the most familiar way I know how.
So, Gene plays a cop (we know this because briefly dons a policeman’s uniform, although this fails to become an important plot point) who also helps train his two boxer sons played by Cabal from Nightbreed and The Lawnmower Man. Except that Lawmower Man has gone off to the big city to seek his fame and fortune with a bigger boxing promoter, much to the chagrin of his father who is training his more loyal and level headed son for the Olympics.
When Lawnmower returns home he is approached by a shady boxing promoter (played by Mr. Strickland from Back To The Future) who wants him to take a dive in a fight against his prizefighter in return for a pay off. When he refuses, Mr. Strickland has the slacker beaten up and thrown from a window to his death. Marty McFly got off lightly!
Cabal decides that the best way to avenge his brother’s death is to get into the ring with the prizefighter (and aforementioned defenestrator) even though he’s clearly way out of his league and will almost certainly get pummeled to death. CUE TRAINING MONTAGE!
Well the big fight comes and things go pretty much as expected with poor Cabal getting his ass handed to him on a plate. Then, suddenly, he wins, and the police arrest all of the guilty parties. Cue near carbon copy of the freeze frame from Rocky. Seriously that how it ends! He’s on the ropes when he suddenly launches a volley of blows out of nowhere and defeats the guy. I can only assume the writer was right up his deadline on this one.
Well despite the ridiculously abrupt ending, this one wasn’t all that bad, the story is pretty derivative (seriously how many loved one’s deaths have been avenged in 80’s cinema?), but the cast are pretty strong. Hackman has little to do but not as little as The Girl From Flashdance. Oh did I not mention that The Girl From Flashdance was in this? Well that’s because she does NOTHING! It’s not that she’s in only a few scenes. She’s in lots of scenes, sitting in the background, looking a little worried, kissing the hero. Hers is one of the most underwritten characters I’ve ever seen, and she’s the only bloody woman in it (unless you count ‘Sexy Round Announcer Lady’ as a meaty feminine role)! She does has one scene with some dialogue but the main point of that scene appears to be so she can lean out of a window dressed like this –
I’m not even exaggerating. Most of the dialogue revolves around how she probably shouldn’t be leaning out of a window dressed like that. Germaine Greer this is not. Some versions of the DVD even have her on the cover next to Hackman, clearly to capitalise on her Flashdance fame, which is even more insulting.
But all gripes aside, this one was a whole lot better that some of the other dreck I’ve been forced to endure during this series. It rolls along fairly painlessly and for once I didn’t feel entirely like an hour and a half of my life had just hemorrhaged into the ether.
Cheesy Sci-Fi next time I think. I feel like I’ve earned it.