I’m sorry for my prolonged absence from the site, and it will be a little longer before I’ll be able to update. I was involved in a pretty significant physical altercation about a week ago and it’s taken me a while to recover. But before you ask, don’t worry, I’m completely fine. It’s just been pretty complicated lately getting everything sorted out; hopefully everything will be clearer soon. It’s all coming back to normal, and I can safely say that I’ve seen and done things in the past few days that will give me stories (and nightmares) for the rest of my life.
And now for something completely different.
Before all of this madness swung into high gear, I attended a gala screening of Rampage, the latest release by Dark Maze Studios, creators of the hilarious and fantastically original gamer movie Press Start*– a film full of old-school gaming references from the Nintendo era that an old gamin’ salt like me always finds irresistible. And no, Rampage has nothing to do with the adventures of giant city-destroying monsters. You may be more familiar with its bastardized American ur-name: Turkish Rambo.
Dark Maze acquired the rights to this classic and released it in the United States on DVD for the first time since its creation over 23 years ago, and has even gone the extra mile by commissioning a faithful, English dubbing track and an all-original score by Jake Kaufman, the composer for Press Start and Contra 4. Until now, you could only catch snippets of movies like this on YouTube, but now you can watch it raw and uncut! And if you’re not completely sold on this already, it’s directed by the same guy responsible for Turkish Star Wars, the movie that nearly broke my mind and sent me gibbering “Everybody in the pooooo-o-o-o-ol” in a nuthouse somewhere.
The movie, patterned loosely after Rambo: First Blood Part II, follows action hero Serdar as he is freed from military prison to infiltrate and put down a band of anti-government guerillas. At least, I think that’s the gist of it. It’s hard to tell because often times it feels like the movie was edited with a pair of hedge trimmers. At some point, he rescues a sleepy-eyed blond woman whose only contribution to the story seem to be whining and wordless sniveling (like most movies of this genre). And the Vincent-Price looking villain (whose ubiquitous scowl makes him look like a permanent =[ frowny face) blows Serdar’s cover almost immediately and buries him in sand, where he proceeds to shout at him for about fifteen minutes demanding to know who he works for (because, y’know, it could be anybody).
The riffing here was coming too furiously to adequately understand the nuances of this rich, subtle, sweeping epic, so you’ll have to excuse me if the whole plot sounds a little sketchy. After some time he escapes and embarks on a punishingly long, Cormanesque rock-climbing sequence, interspersed with footage of other people we don’t know, doing things we don’t understand in places with no seeming spatial relation to the action at hand.
I don’t want to spoil everything for you, but my personal highlights of the night were of Serdar slitting a man’s throat twice (who was still able to phone up his boss and gurgle a warning), and of course, the thrilling climax where Serdar goes apeshit on the villain’s entire compound with a stolen rocket launcher. The effect used to simulate a real rocket launcher’s firing mechanism involves a grip just off-screen tying a string to the rocket and pulling it away as fast as he can. This is accompanied with a “thoomp!” sound not unlike dropping a long cardboard tube on the ground. Then, of course, there’s the plethora of cartwheeling, flying stuntmen falling ass-over-teakettle (in many cases, jumping toward the blast), and Serdar’s amazing good fortune in finding spare rockets just lying around behind oil drums.
It’s a veritable orgy of nonsense violence (y’know, sort of like the latest Rambo movie), and if you’re looking to start a movie-riffing night at your parties, there’s no movie better to start with than Rampage. The DVD is also loaded with special features, an audio commentary, and a mini poster destined for a spot of honor on my wall. Fantastic stuff, especially since the English dubbing is played completely straight-faced, without a hint of ham or parody, just as it should be. Ed Glaser himself said that they took every effort to perfectly replicate the spirit and sound of all of the dialogue and effects, complete with the slain soldier’s Ahnuld-like “nyaaaauuuugh” death throes.
If you want to catch a great action flick…well, you might want to rent Die Hard. But if you want some serious, balls-to-the-wall action, get some life back into your parties, or to put a frigging awesome movie on your shelf that few people but hardcore riffers would ever own, you’ve got to check out Rampage. Give it a shot.
Or Serdar will cut your goddamn throat. Twice.
* To my shame, Ed Glaser, the creator of Press Start was good enough to send me a completely free copy of the movie in the hopes that I would review it. When I recorded my half-hour long review, I realized just as I was turning the camera off that I had forgotten to turn on the battery pack of my lavalier microphone, and I didn’t get a single syllable of sound. Instead of re-recording it like I should have, I got angry and moved on to something else, which was a true disservice to Mr. Glaser and all the people who worked very hard on a one-of-a-kind, entertaining movie about video game heroes. I’ll see if I can’t make it up to him.