We originally reviewed this film on March 10, 2020, as part of Mill Creek’s Explosive Cinema set. But since Mill Creek is a recycling-green DVD distributor, we’re going to review it one more time. Which is two more reviews than this Z-grade Lethal Weapon rip (I’d even blame some Road House inspiration) from Crown International, deserves. No wonder the studio imprint went under, right? And the award for “Worst Poster Art of a Crown Flick” goes to . . . they just stopped trying. And we just kept on renting this junk because, well, the cover is so bad. So, we wondered, “How bad is the film inside?”
It’s ALWAYS worse . . . and it looks like it was shot in the Drive-In ’70s during Crown’s heydays and not in a post-cable TV world . . . regardless of Leonard Maltin claiming that Top Cop was the “best erotic thriller of 1990.”
Surely, you jest, Lenny.
Lenny-boy must have confused this with another movie. Perhaps Arnie’s Kindergarten Cop. More than likely one of Len’s many ghost writers and editors behind the film compendiums he “writes” got sick of Len’s ego-shite and decided to screw with him. An “erotic thriller” is well, the pinnacle of those would be Basic Instinct . . . and Top Cop isn’t even CLOSE to that level in its filmmaking or “erotica.” Or Kindergarden Cop. Or Raw Deal. Or Commando. Maybe if Top Cop was made in L.A. by any studio other than Crown? Well, we can’t blame Crown, as it seems they only distributed it and didn’t bank it. And Rondo placed this on our home video shelves. Oh, the joy . . . and the pain.
So, our intrepid Vic Malone, the “Top Cop” of the title, loses his partner to a drug kingpin. And Malone goes “scorched earth” on said kingpin and his minions. And if the cover doesn’t give it away: our “Top Cop” is top heavy — with a case of Type-2 diabetes for desert. For Malone has none of Dr. James Dalton’s rips and none of that Martin Riggs swagger: he’s almost a Mike Biggs from Mike and Molly. (In real life, the actor behind Vic Malone is an ex-Marine. But I forget if that fact was worked into the plot. Not that it matters to the story. Oh, and Mike Bass, who plays one of said drug kinpin’s heavies, played ball for the Washington Redskins.)
Anyway . . . Malone risks his life. He’s saves women. He blows up stuff and rattles off rounds of bullets — and in the usual “ensues” rat-a-tat-tat you’d expect from a low-budget action flick from Crown International. And one set in Arkansas, on top of that.
This was the first directing effort from Mark L. Maness who got his start at 10 years old with an 8mm movie camera he received for Christmas; he then moved on to work for ESPN and Fox Sports Net network. And those Walmart commercials from back in the day: Mark made those.
So, has anyone seen Mark’s films Birthrite (2008) or It Knows (2018)? Neither have we, especially It Knows, which is a low-budget horror (with a decent poster; that he wrote and directed) and we usually get screeners o’ plenty for that genre sent to the B&S cubicle farm. And Maness is still rockin’ the Canon Red, as he has a new flick in production, Ohio (2021). Yeah, we’re interested in seeing that, as it is cool to see these under-the-radar low-budget purveyors still pumpin’ the tiger blood and winning at the foot of Mount Lee.
However, is the writer on this, Helen P. Pollins, still “winning” the tiger blood sweepstakes? Huh? A woman wrote this? Yeah, we thinks that be an alias of the Ellen Cabot-is-really-David DeCoteau variety. Now, apparently, per the credits, there’s a Mr. Pollins, aka Frank, co-producing . . . but again, we think that’s a nom de plume for someone else. If the Pollinses are, in fact, a husband and wife writing-production team, the abysmal state of affairs displayed in Top Cop was enough to make them quite the business.
Our star — and stunt coordinator, associate producer and special effects artist, here — Stephen P. Sides, well, this is his show. So we are guessing he’s the “Helen” of these proceedings. He also produced the vanity flicks Blood Forest (2009) and Step Away from the Stone (2010). There’s another one — that he didn’t act in, but produced and did all the stunts — called Too Scared to Laugh (1989). One of the common denominator actors across those films is Todd Tongen, who went on to become an ABC-TV news anchor affiliate for WPLG/Miami. So, if you’re from South Florida and only knew Todd as news anchor, here’s your chance to see him effectively thespin’ it up as the dopey brother of a drug kingpin.
Look, a self-financed, shoestring run to be the next “Bruce Willis” isn’t going to be good. But one thing Top Cop isn’t: boring (well, it is, but, uh . . .), as the serviceable, cliched action just keeps on comin’ at ya. But does it “come at ya” as good as The Patriot and the Leo Fong two-fer of Low Blow and Killpoint (which also all appear on the Explosive Cinema set; the Patriot also pops up on B-Movie Blast)? Oh, hell no, but it’s as good as The Silencer, which has its own issues, but also keeps the Z-gradeness of the Lethal Weapon-Die Hard variety comin’ at yah.
Eh, it’s something different that you’ve never seen before to watch to burn off some downtime. And you’ll never see this on the all-reality-and-repeats of cable, right? So stream it on You Tube. Be sure to check out our B-Movie Blast Round Up for all of the films on the set.
Eh, better you watch the other “set in Arkansas” (or was it Georgia) Michael Sopkiw action fest that is Blastfighter. For the ‘Sop is god here at B&S.