CANNON MONTH 2: Mad Dog Coll (1992)

21st Century released Hit the Dutchman the same year as this movie, which concentrated on Dutch Schultz. This Greydon Clark and Ken Stein-directed film is about his nemesis, Vincent Coll, who started off as a street fighter and works his way up to becoming a crime boss.

Coll was called Mad Dog by the press after a five-year-old was caught in the crossfire in a gun battle. This movie claims that he was innocent of that and it was someone else who did the crime. It also presents Vincent (Christopher Bradley) and Peter (Jeff Griggs) as being sick of the low wages they received from Schultz (Bruce Nozick) and striking out on their own, which starts off the gang war.

Both this film and Hit the Dutchman were made by 21st Century in Russia, so the entire film has a very soundstage feel that also feels very Cannon, so you know that I loved it. It looks way better than it should, thanks to Janusz Kaminski, whose career would go way upward after working in the world of low budget films.

Released in the U.S. as Killer Instinct — to cash in on Basic Instinct but having nothing to do with that movie, God bless Menahem — this was intended to be part of a trilogy that only got two parts. Regardless, I love that Golan saw that more gangster movies were getting made, so he went to Russia to show America in the 1920s.

CANNON MONTH 2: Three Days To A Kill (1992)

This movie stars so many people that I love no matter what they do.

When Ambassador Barnes (Karol Brown, whose only other acting role was as a pregnant woman in Killer Sex Queens from Cyberspace, which is an adult film and has Jerry Springer and Larry Flynt in it) is taken by Columbia crime lord Perez (Henry Silva!) and his henchman Pepe (Sonny Landham, who started his career in adult), the top brass in the form of Captain Wright (Chuck Connors!) calls in the best: Calvin Sims (Fred Williamson!) and his explosives expert buddy Rick Masters (Bo Svenson!). First, Cal has to get Rick out of jail. Then, they’re joined by an undercover soldier pretending to be a dancer named Yolanda (Kim Dakour), then they get started getting some payback.

Made for HBO by Williamson, but this wasn’t the only film he directed. His first was all the way back in 1975 and Mean Johnny Barrows and some standout entries include Vegas VampiresMr. Mean and Original Gangstas, which found Williamson helping out Larry Cohen. If you love 70s black action movies, that’s one you definitely need to seek out because it stars Williamson, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Richard Roundtree, Ron O’Neal, Robert Forster, Charles Napier and Wings Hauser.

This was written by Charles Johnson, who also wrote HammerMean MotherBeyond Atlantis and Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off, and Steven Iyama, who wrote Last Call and Deadly Past.

This movie has a great tagline: “He’s dangerous, he’s destructive and he’s dead serious.” It was also the final film for both Connors and Van Johnson.

CANNON MONTH 2: Desert Kickboxer (1992)

Joe Highhawk has the most 1992 name ever as well as the most direct to video career path: he’s a cop who is also a kickboxer. He’s played by John Newton, who was Superboy on the syndicated series. But then his rage takes things past the limit and he kills a man in the ring. He quits his big city job, he leaves behind kicking people to death and heads out into the desert of his youth, where he lives in his grandfather’s trailer on a reservation and serves as a deputy to Sheriff Larry (Biff Manard).

Meanwhile, an accountant named Claudia Valenti (Judie Aronson, American Ninja) notices that the books of her horse breeder client Carl Schultz (Paul Smith!) are off. One of the trainers helps her and her little brother Anthony (Sam DeFrancisco) get away. Also, she now has $20 million into a secret account, which enrages her boss, who is really a drug dealer named Santos.

Of course Joe helps them. Of course they hook up. Of course Santos and his men break that up, take Claudia and leave Joe for dead. But then we get what makes this movie so unique, as not only do Santos and his gang kill the little brother, but Joe has a phoenix — or hawk? — rise from near-death set to a montage as shirtless Joe comes back alive in the desert. Joe returns to decimate henchman Bruno (Michael M. Foley) and Santos pays. And by pays, I mean he gets kicked directly in the dick.

Director and writer Isaac Florentine would go on to make Undisputed 2Ninja and work on the WMAC Masters show, just like nearly everyone that was involved in 90s non-Asian martial arts direct to video movies.

The tagline is “Navajo… Warrior… Kickboxer. Cross the line of his law and you’ll live… to regret it.” It’s also a movie where a white guy plays a Native American and the Navajo are said to do the Ghost Dance and yet they never did it.

CANNON MONTH 2: Hit the Dutchman (1992)

Amazingly, this movie is not a drug reference, but instead is all about Arthur Flegenheimer (Bruce Nozick) who is recruited by “Legs” Diamond (Will Kempe) and becomes his right hand man under the name Dutch Schultz.

We’ve seen it before, but have we seen it from Menahem Golan in the director’s seat and have we seen it shot in Russia instead of New York City?

No, we have not.

Golan instead this as a trilogy covering the most important gangsters of the era and only one other movie was made, 1993’s Killer Instincts AKA Mad Dog Coll.

Menahem also steps in front of the camera to play a role named Hymie Weinstock. Other than Sally Kellerman, he may be the most recognizable person in this. I really wanted to love it, but it’s pretty unfocused and even though the fight between Thomas Dooley and Schultz is covered, this doesn’t get as intense as the other gangster movies of the early 90s that it was certainly cashing in on like Goodfellas and Bugsy.

CANNON MONTH 2: Finest Hour (1992)

Directed by Shimon Dotan and written by Stuart Schoffman, Finest Hour may seem to you to be an awful lot like Top Gun in parts because, well, it kind of is. Except that it’s about Navy SEALs and then love comes between two leads and it takes a war to bring them back together.

Lawrence Hammer (Rob Lowe) and Dean Mazzoli (Gale Hansen) are two Navy officers working to become SEALs. Hammer has a bad attitude and isn’t a team player while Mazzoli is respected by everyone. They end up becoming friends except that they both love Barbara (Tracy Griffith). Well, despite nearly making out with Mazzoli one night, she still runs away with Hammer — that very same night — and gets married.

The two nearly fight when it turns out that Hammer and Barbara are moving away, but the upcoming war in the Persian Gulf rears its ugly head and when their instructor Bosco is taken, the two work together to rescue him. Hammer ends up in the hospital and Mazzoi ends up taking care of his wife during that time. She confesses that Hammer slept with her best friend and she’s planning on leaving him.

A new mission comes up and Hammer — still injured — compromises everyone by falsifying his medical records and getting on the mission. He dies and when he does, so does anything between Mazzoli and his wife. I guess the whole forbidden fruit cucking thing was what kept them together.

Speaking of tragedy, Lowe almost died when he was dragged by a cord behind a speeding boat and couldn’t get free. One of the Navy SEALs on the crew dived in and rescued him.

The U.S. may have only seen this movie on video, but it played theaters in the Phillippines as Desert Storm: The Final Battle.

You can watch this on Tubi.

CANNON MONTH 2: Prison Planet (1992)

Mad Max meets American Gladiators in the ultimate road war!”

Wow, that tagline promises so much.

Also called Badlanders, this movie moves us to the year 2200. Earth’s ruler is threatened by his brother  Himshaw (Jack Wilcox). The rebel leader who is soon sent to Annakin, the prison planet that gives this movie a name, so two of his commandos named Blaine (James Phillips) and Shiba (Kim Kopf) get caught on purpose so that they can rescue him.

Michael M. Foley, who played the big bad guy Broxton, went on to play Tracey “Tracer” Swedom on WMAC Masters, a kung fu fighting show that tried to air around pro wrestling in the mid 90s. It didn’t last all that long. Hosted by Shannon Lee, the daughter of martial artist Bruce Lee and sister of Brandon, it had Ho-Sung Pak (who was Shang Tsung and Liu Kang in the first two Mortal Kombat games), Chris Casamassa (Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat movie) and Michael Bernardo (Nick from the two Shootfighter films). It was created by Chairman/CEO of 4Kids Entertainment Alfred Kahn and their President Norman J. Grossfeld along with Kathy Borland, who in addition to writing the initial episode also was the costumer for Two Evil EyesMonkey Shines and Day of the Dead.

Director Armand Gazarian also made Games of SurvivalDouble CrossStreets of War and The Searcher. He wrote the script too, which was based on a story by James I. Nicholson, who directed Dark Harvest.

This was followed by two sequels, Prison Planet 2: The Armageddon and Prison Planet III: The Revenge. Neither of those movies share any of the same filmmakers as this movie, nor any of the actors. In fact, they are comedies about two men who steal a king’s pizza and get banished to a prison planet.

For another take on this movie, click here.

You can watch this on Tubi.

CANNON MONTH 2: Danse Macabre (1992)

How did it take so long for Greydon Clark and Menahem Golan to work together? Well, their team-up started with The Forbidden Dance and certainly another dance movie had to follow. Originally developed as a sequel to the earlier 21st Century Robert Englund-starring vehicle The Phantom of the Opera — it was called Terror of Manhattan — it was still released in Japan as a follow-up.

This movie is a collection of so many of my movie obsessions. It’s a horror dance academy movie, which makes you want to compare it to Suspiria as much as Etoile. It has Englund seeking another role that isn’t Freddy. It has Josef von Sternberg’s son Nicholas Josef von Sternberg as its cinematographer. It was produced by Harry Alan Towers. And, most of all, it’s a Menahem Golan movie.

At a dance academy outside Saint Petersburg run by crippled Madame Gordenko (Englund!) and staffed by American-born teacher Anthony Wagner (also Englund!) and Olga (Irina Davidoff), a new student by the name of Jessica Anderson (Michelle Zeitlin, who shows up briefly in Showgirls). She struggles through the first class, but Anthony sees something in her, as she looks exactly like his lover Svetlana, a Russian ballerina who was injured in a motorcycle crash and became the twisted Gordenko.

Claudine (Nina Goldman) tries to help her learn the moves, but Jessica is better at dancing to rock music. As Claudine goes to the spa, she’s drowned in a hot tub. Meanwhile, Jessica falls for a photographer named Alex (Alexander Sergeyev) who is sneaking around taking photos and has a cool motorcycle. The rest of the school is a mess, as there’s a girl named Ingrid (Marianna Moen) who stays in the attic dancing non-stop while she does drugs.

While dancing with male dancers the next day, Jessica grabs one of their crotches. This upsets everyone, including Angela (Julene Renee), who walks right into a noose. No one notices. In fact, everyone just decides that anyone who dies has decided to leave the school, like Natasha (Natasha Fesson), who is pushed into the path of a train. And oh yeah — when the students all go to a nightclub, Anthony watches Jessica and Alex kiss — it’s a prelude to him sneaking into the dorms and dancing horizontally with her — and starts crying.

The film then reveals that Gordenko is killing the girls as we watch her launch Ingrid from her attic window. Almost everyone leaves the school as the deaths become too hard to get past. Anthony tells Olga that Jessica is the only good dancer left, so she must represent the academy at an upcoming special audition.

Jessica then catches Alex sneaking into Anthony’s quarters. She tries to find him but Olga finds him first. and then they open a cupboard filled with Claudine and Angela’s bodies. Gordenko appears and stabs Alex, getting away in time for Olga to pull the dagger out and Jessica to see her with the murder weapon, just in time for Anthony to arrive. Oh man, red herrings abound, but Olga accidentally stabs herself and Anthony whispers in her ear, telling her that the secret is safe.

Anthony begins to transform Jessica into his long-dead ballerina girlfriend and she soon learns that he and Gordenko are the same person — Svetlana’s dead body is in the attic — as he drugs her and awakens her just in time to dance for the audition, calling her Svetlana. Yet when she rips off the wig and starts her Flashdance moment, dancing to the music that she wants to perform to, Anthony and Gordenko battle for control of his body. That can only end with Anthony throwing himself off a balcony to save Jessica, telling her as he dies that “You danced for me.”

Wow. This movie is absolutely wild with Englund acting as an old wheelchair bound woman with a voicebox when he isn’t being a lovesick dance instructor. And did Harry Alan Towers love Ten Little Indians plots or what?

CANNON MONTH 2: Rescue Me (1992)

When Ginny Grafton (Ami Dolenz) is kidnapped, so the young man who’s been in love with her all through high school — Fraser Sweeney (Stephen Dorff) — teams up with town rebel Daniel “Mac” MacDonald (Michael Dudikoff) to go across the country to rescue her.

Also known as Street Hunter, William Lucking and Peter DeLuise plays the kidnappers, Dee Wallace-Stone plays Fraser’s mom and even Samantha Phillips (Phantasm II) and Kimberley Kates (Chained Heat 2) show up.

The problem for everybody is that Ginny is no kidnapped princess and uses everyone against one another, even running from the kidnappers only to go to a concert and hook up with the lead singer of the band.

This movie can’t figure out whether it’s a coming of age story, an action film or a comedy. It can be all of those things, but it’s not particularly good at any of them. It’s directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, who also made Hercules In New York. That should tell you what you’re getting into. That said, I enjoy Dudikoff and Dorff, so this movie was watchable thanks to them.

You can watch this on Tubi.

CANNON MONTH 2: No Place to Hide (1992)

Director and writer Richard Danus only directed this one movie — he wrote a lot for TV, like on Serpico and Star Trek: The Next Generation — and somehow, Cannon got it.

Drew Barrymore plays Tinsel Harvey — this name feels like a porn star’s or a hardboiled detective’s love interest — and when her ballerina sister Pamela (Lydie Denier, who was in plenty of Zalman King movies) dies while dancing, she ends up being protected by Detective Joe Garvey (Kris Kristofferson) from a killer who dresses like a giallo villain. Also, one of the ways he protects her is by leaving her with a wheelchair-pound, hammer-carrying O.J. Simpson.

Yes, really.

Somehow, Martin Landau is also in this and when asked about the movie, he said, “Why would you want to know about that one?” That’s better than Kristofferson, who often acts like he doesn’t even remember making it.

Kane Hodder is in the cast as well.

Also, there’s a Satanic Brotherhood of Thorn underground conducting all of this from behind the scenes and this inches the movie toward the absolutely dumbness that I need and want so badly.

I mean, it kind of makes sense. If the Italian exploitation industry had been around in its full power or if this was 1972, Drew Barrymore had been in enough public scandal — and done Poison Ivy — that Umberto Lenzi would have totally given her Carroll Baker roles. Alas, what could have been.

CANNON MOVIE 2: American Samurai (1992)

Seriously, of all the Cannon movies I’ve watched in the second Cannon month, this has to be my favorite. It takes the Enter the Dragon template and then goes absolutely insane with it. All hail Sam Firstenberg, the director of not just this, but Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, American Ninja, Avenging Force and American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, all of which are worth your time.

Actually, this movie takes a lot of inspiration from American Ninja. Andrew Collins (David Bradley, who took over in the American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt) is the only survivor of a plane crash in the Japanese mountains, which is how he gets raised by samurai master Tatsuya Sanga (John Fujiyoka, who fulfills the same role as Shinyuki in American Ninja). Along with Tatsuya’s son Kenjiro (Mark Dacascos, who beyond being the American Chairman on Iron Chef is amazing in everything he has done), he studies the fighting skills of the samurai and surpasses his new stepbrother. He’s given the family sword and that leads Kenjiro to renounce the samurai and joins the Yakuza and swears that one day, he will destroy Andrew.

Ten years later, Andrew is a journalist on the trail of opium smuggling in Turkey. I mean, it becomes personal when someone breaks in and steals his sword, then goons shoot him in the stomach necessitating him reaching into his own belly to pull out the bullet! — but when he gets there, they kidnap Janet Ward (Valarie Trapp) his photographer — and girlfriend, I guess, but he always negs on her so their romance is one of my least favorite things in this — which means Andrew must enter a weapons-based martial-arts tournament that is totally Kumite, but has weapons in it, which makes it so much better. Of course, the champion ends up being Kenjiro and that means that the once brothers must battle one another.

What takes this movie to the levels of insanity that I demand is that the other fighters in this seem like they came from other eras of time, like Eternal Champions or even WMAC Masters, but this is filled with tons of gore. I mean, there’s a guy named Conan who pretty much fights like Conan (Rocky McDonald, who has done stunts in tons of movies like Dead-End Drive-In all the way up to Mad Max: Fury Road), the singlet-wearing spear-using McKinney (Ron Vreeken), a big dumb American dude with a knife who is totally not Donald Gibb, a pirate, a Viking and so much more. Even better, people are killed and one scene and totally come back in the next, making me think that yes, this is very much a video game world.

This is the only movie that John Corcoran ever wrote — the Pittsburgh native was an editor of several magazines (Black Belt, Professional Karate, Inside Kung Fu, KICK Illustrated, Martial Arts ProfessionalThe Fighter International and Martial Arts Success), was the first-ever PKA events coordinator and co-founded the STAR System World Kickboxing Ratings with Paul Maslak — but man, he did it. Please check this one out. More people need to be talking about this.