MOVIE – “For Hire” (1991)
DIRECTOR / WRITER – Stefan Rudnicki
SIX DEGREES OF CAST & CREW
- Actor Kamar (De Los Reyes), Producer Steve Rockmael, Cinematographer F. Smith Martin, and Original Musician Jeff Lass all also worked on 1993′s “Da Vinci’s War“. This starred Joey Travolta (John’s brother), who was also in 1995′s “To The Limit”, which featured MORE music by Jeff Lass.
- Kamar can be seen in 1989′s “East L.A. Warriors”, along with actor William Smith. Smith was in 1993′s “Road To Revenge” with good ol’ Wings Hauser, star of 1990′s “Coldfire”, also starring… Kamar! “Coldfire” also featured Michael Eeston, star of the “Total Recall 2070″ TV series (1999), two episodes of which featured… Kamar again! Pretty slick.
- Star actor David Heavener had a thing for writing and directing movies for himself to star in, back in the 90′s. One example would be 1995′s “Dragon Fury”, along with “Ring of Steel” (as reviewed on CinemaNARCs) star Robert Chapin! Also in “Dragon Fury” was Richard Lynch, as seen in Mystery Science Theatre 3000 favourite, “Werewolf” (1996). Also in “Werewolf” was MST3K favourite, Joe Estevez, as seen in the MST’d “Soultaker” (1990). Alongside him in that was oddly-faced Robert Z’Dar. Z’Dar was in 1988′s “Maniac Cop” (as the Maniac), which also featured the above-mentioned William Smith. Z’Dar, Estevez, and Heavener would all converge in Heavener’s 1997 “Hollywood Cops”, and “Guns of El Chupacabra” (also ’97).
- Heavener more recently birthed 2006′s “Costa Chica: Confession of an Exorcist”, also starring “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Piper was the star of 1988′s “Hell Comes To Frogtown” (also featuring the aforementioned William Smith). That and its sequel, “Frogtown 2″, were directed by Donald G. Jackson, who also directed “Guns of El Chupacabra”. More importantly, Piper’s lead character in “Frogtown” would be re-cast in the sequel with… ROBERT Z’DAR.
I had a legitimately tough time with this movie. So much of what Cinema NARCs purports to celebrate is finding the good in the bad of the films we review. A movie can either be secretly good under a bad packaging, or perhaps just has Mystery Science Theatre 3000 tendencies, allowing you and your friends to just sit back and crack wise at bad acting and special effects. And don’t get me wrong, “For Hire” is highly riff-able. It’s just… painful to even try.
In any attempt to describe this movie, the following is obvious : the acting is largely horrible, the “martial arts choreography” is almost entirely horrible (looking downright made up at times), and the story is just one big vague jumble. That being said, I should be able to punch out at least a paragraph or two by expunging on these things. But this movie was just so unenjoyable on nearly any level, I was sorely tempted to not even bother.
As I sincerely do NOT want to re-watch this movie to try understanding it better, so here’s my best attempt at summarizing this… thing: The mayor of some mid-level city can’t keep a ragtag gang from taking over “Chinatown”, and the Police Chief (?) is alternately right for being upset that his force is being thinned out while the Mayor won’t give more financial support, and wrong for perhaps being secretly corrupt. The Mayor is a puss with a house full of adopted children, and feels he has no choice but to hire out to a mysterious mercenary (J.D. Makay, played by Heavener) who somehow knew all this was happening. Meanwhile, two guys (one played by the smooth Kamar, the other by a John C. McGinley lookalike) butt heads over who should lead the gang. Their boss wears shiny red smoking jackets and Ringo Starr sunglasses. Kamar kinda-sorta becomes a good guy, people punch each other, the end.
A longstanding symptom of the kinds of movies we review here is vagueness; the stories are such poorly edited, poorly re-re-re-re-written mishmashes of just trying to string things together. You always get a sense of the filmmakers starting out with what was possibly a legitimately solid idea, and nothing but good intent. But once things start rolling, things like time and financial constraint inevitably take their toll, and you get stuff like… well, “For Hire”. Worse yet, the film comes off as one of those productions where somebody involved probably insists, “We MUST have kung fu fighting, a singing number by the cute young female lead, a wise-cracking sidekick kid, and a striptease!” Why do I feel these things were insisted upon? Because their inclusion in said film MAKES NO SENSE. Entertainment value is one thing, and I know, it was the early 90′s, and 99% of these movies had to appeal to baser male indulgences.
There’s a scene where Kamar’s character Sonny is upset with his crew over killing a cop. The gang fears Sonny, and the exchanges between these characters comes across as hearkening back to soldiers bowing before an emperor. Further bolstering this theory is their offering unto Sonny a stripteasing woman. Not for later, in private, but right there, on the roof, in front of the whole gang. If the whole “Appeasing the emperor” theory were even remotely obvious (or even possible), then the movie might be worthy of deeper, more poetic scrutinization (which it is at times). But if all we’re doing here is trying to wake up the manly men in the audience, a far more attractive woman would’ve been appropriate; a thirty-something lady who looks like a nighttime office janitor is not sexy just because she’s topless and wiggling around.
You do get a sense of deeper poetry closer to the end, during the big (but not penultimate to the film) martial arts battle between Makay and Sonny, no less. Flashbacks to their secret shared history flow unexpectedly yet seamlessly; the two start off fighting on a rooftop, and between flashbacks end up in a scenic wooded area also relevant to their history. The two fight to a stalemate and just… walk away. This sequence is pretty well the only redeeming item to the whole film (unless you count the stinger after this review). It’s also the only enjoyable fighting in the whole movie, as these two are the only ones who seem to actually know any martial arts.
I really want to be able to say more about this movie for some reason, but to force myself would make me no better than the filmmakers who I’m sure at points had to force themselves to make something even remotely sensible. There was a semblance of a happy ending, but was there a moral beyond merely killing bad guys? The hero of the film certainly didn’t seem moral, merely polite. In more typical action movies of this vein, the hero is generally a semi-retired action tough guy pulled in to the plot for personal reasons. With “For Hire”, there’s nothing like that, beyond Makay secretly playing martial arts sensei to the Mayor’s annoying son. Makay knows the Chinatown gang situation is coming to a head, and knows the Mayor is desperate for help. But in decidedly un-heroic fashion, he charges One Million Dollars to beat up / kill the whole gang, from thug up to mob leaders. If anything this gives us the title of the film, but why are we implored to sympathize with him as a hero when he’s otherwise the antithesis thereof?
I’m sick of talking about this movie, so here’s our “hero” using a pool table trick to knock out some bad guys.
RATING – One generic black ninja gi out of five