Tuesday, 16 May 2017
The Robo-Warrior Trilogy: Counter Destroyer (Edger Jere, 1989)
So here we are; the third in the unofficial Robo-Warrior Trilogy. The climactic act at the end of an upward trajectory of quality and oh dear it's shit.
Counter Destroyer has some things going for it. Counter Destroyer is a cool title even though it sounds like it's about someone who doesn't like losing at boardgames. It is consistent with the other entires in the series in that with the exception of hopping Jiangshi there is nothing that connects any of the movies whatsoever.
And for most of the running time that's all the good you get.
Even with the series lack of canonical elements this movie stands all by itself. The first two both featured hopping vampires wrapped up in a heroin plot and going toe-to-toe with a robotic warrior. From what I can tell this film features no heroin dealers. It also doesn't feature a robotic warrior.
Yes, I am sorry to report that the finale of the Robo-Warrior movies does not actually feature a robotic warrior, for the most part. There is a man called Paul (different name as the Robo Warrior from the second movie) who at one point dons a white ninja outfit and fights some vampires but this doesn't happen until 38 minutes into the film and at no point is it suggested he is robotic in anyway.
Not only does this feel like a massive cheat it also messes with my OCD. Since this now features a ninja this should have gone into my Ninjas, ninjas, ninjas! articles. It would, however, be weird for the final review of a three part film to be written in a different format and placed in a different section of the site. For all this movie's crimes messing with my system might be the worst. Fuck you Counter Destroyer, why didn't you consider the eventual organisational nightmare you would cause me when you made this film in 1989? You're a dick.
So without robotic warriors and heroin deals what is left?
The exhilarating plot seems to revolve around rival film companies trying to produce the same movie about the first Emperor of China. As always it seems at least two movies had footage culled to make this Frankenstein of a film. The first seems to be a cops and robbers drama while the other is a haunted house movie. Those holed up in the house are the screenwriters while the heroic production company go up against the evil rival company in the crime drama section.
I don't know if the evil company are using the movie as a front for something as (full disclosure) I quickly stopped concentrating. They do, however, employ vampires and ghosts to terrorise their rivals and the whole mess is sorted out in a yacht-set shootout. I'll admit to not having any first hand experience of the Chinese film industry but I have to assume this is anything but conventional. Could it be a razor sharp satire, extending the cutthroat nature of the movie business to its logical, if absurd, conclusion? No, no it couldn't.
With that section of the movie a complete abyss of entertainment in falls on the supernatural element to hold our attention. This also fails us.
Joyce, our screenwriter, and her assistant Fanny (I think) cut themselves off in a lush apartment to write their film. Here they are beset by supernatural occurrences such as the appearance of goofy, comedy Jinagshi and a Freddy-like clawed creature.
It appears neither actress are at the top of their game and coupling this with some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard results in almost unbearable exchanges. Even calling out a name three times seems weird and otherworldly, like a robot programmed to mimic human behaviour having a systems crash. The dinner and pool sequence are nicely lit and shot with some degree of technical competency but it's like the cast and crew have never seen human beings interact. It also doesn't help that the voice actors don't understand silence. When not talking they still make grunts, sighs and heavy breathes so that every moment their character is onscreen they are making noises. This has the unfortunate effect of making them sound like they are always on the business end of some kind of sexual stimulation. These scenes are so awful they are actually worth a look.
The whole movie is a void of enjoyment, a gaping whole where entertainment should be. A total waste.
And then it suddenly gets good. You see I've been misleading you slightly, not out of cruelty but to help you experience the movie's final reveal in the same way that I did.
Ten minutes before the end of the movie and with the plot seemingly wrapped up in a lacklustre exchange of gunfire we rejoin Joyce. Paul comes to see her to find She has killed Fanny and that her arm is possessed; Evil Dead 2 style. Paul battles with her and strikes her down only for the claw-hand creature that was possessing her to leap in corporeal form. Paul spins in a circle, as if on a turntable, and transforms into...
The mutha-fuckin' Robo Warrior. The dude shows up, out of nowhere, ten minutes before the movie ends dressed in his previous outfit - weird foil moobs and odd pointy shoulders and all. I genuinely wanted to cheer. The movie had successfully manipulated me, had played the long game and built anticipation for the return of this character. It had revealed to me that I had a secret fondness for this goofy robot dude and seeing him back on screen warmed me in a way I wasn't expecting.
Then I though that even a glass of piss would taste great to a man lost in the desert for weeks.
While Robo Warrior and creature fight it out, the goofy comedy vampires return to nibble on Joyce. As they do her stomach swells and bulges until it explodes, launching a full-grown child Jiangshi into the air. This child then berates the two comedy vampires for killing his Mum and starts to beat them up before hovering on the ceiling and pissing all over them. I promise I am making none of this up.
Robo Warrior defeats the creature and since the comedy vampires and child are good, or something, he lets them go. They bury Joyce and then the claw hand bursts out of the grave like Carrie. The End.
Counter Destroyer is by far the worst of the series even considering the low bar set by Devil's Dynamite. Ninja magpie Godfrey Ho worked under many aliases and has been rumoured to be the actual Director of the series, yet even he denies having anything to do with this shit. The first movie has an okay fight towards the end, the second is the usual brand of B-movie with some pleasant moments of bat-shittery and while the last ten minutes of Counter Destroyer is delightfully mental the only other moments worth a look are the aforementioned god awful dialogue scenes. Considering at least six movies were plundered to make this series, one movie and handful of scenes doesn't seem like a great return on the investment.
I'm now going to stare into a mirror and question why I do this to myself.