Sunday, December 25, 2011

Score (1995)

If you ever wondered what would have happened in Quentin Tarrantino's Reservoir Dogs if Pumpkin and Honey Bunny from Pulp Fiction showed up at the warehouse, well Score is your answer. A total rip off of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs (and a plethora of others), Score is the story of a group of guys in cool suits with black ties and cool shades who rip off a jewelry store, and meet up at a warehouse. Sound familiar so far? Then they are stalked by two loony killers, T.J. and Sara, who think they are wild west gun slingers. Every plot point from Reservoir Dogs aside from Michael Madsen cutting off an ear while dancing to Steeler's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You" is stolen and redone (although I wish this scene had been thrown in there as well). Yes, even the plot twist at the end came right out of Reservoir Dogs. If you liked Reservoir Dogs, or Quentin Tarrantino, and want to see a low budget and somewhat goofier remix of it, Score is it.

The Plot.
Score stars Ozawa Hitoshi (Wild Criminal and Yakuza Zombie) as Chance Deluise Kawahara (While the men in Reservoir Dogs are named after colors - Mr. White, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Orange, etc., Score has names like Tequilla, Chance, Right, and Cobra) who plays an expert bank robber who has been freed from a Texas jail by "The Colonel", to do "one last job" - to steal one million dollars in jewelry.  Now, this jewelry store is supposedly in San Francisco (a freezeframe of the car's GPS device confirms this), however, the movie was (painfully) obviously filmed in the Philippines - absolutely not the USA (and the Japanese Wikipedia page for this movie confirms it).  But this is super low budget, so what can you do?

When the jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, people get shot, etc., (how else could it have possibly gone down?) and the gang meets up at a warehouse in the desert somewhere outside of San Francisco, attracting the attention of two road killers (who miraculously happen to also be Japanese - again, this is supposed to be the California desert) named T.J. and Sara.  They've been killing their way across the American West, and when they find out their targets holed up in the abandoned factory have a cache of expensive jewelry, they decide to take it for themselves.  T.J. is played by Ozawa Hitoshi's younger brother Kazuyoshi (who played Yuki in the Tokyo Mafia series).  Ozawa Kazuyoshi is good as the psychotic killer T.J. (who incidentally thinks he's Doc Holliday).  I would say he's great, but this movie is B all the way, and there isn't much in the way of great acting anywhere to be found.  Although I will give credit to Miyuki Takano, who plays "Sara" (even if according to IMDB she's never done another movie) - I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one does crazy like a Japanese chick.

From this point, the movie becomes a cat-and-mouse game - T.J. and Sara vs. Chance, Right (a slimy and shifty character played by Mizukami Ryushi from Ring 0 and Takashi Miike's City of Lost Souls) and Tequilla (Tequilla being played by Ehara Shu from Junk and Yakuza Zombie).  Ehara Shu is as good as anyone in this movie, a solid B performance for a solid B movie.  I wish I could say there's more to the plot, but that's about the sum total of everything.  All you're left with is, who is gonna survive, and who is gonna get the jewelry?  As far as B movies go, this one isn't great, but isn't bad.  I'd say it's solid, with the added bonus of getting to watch for stolen scenes from other movies.  Another major influence on this movie (I should say a major target of cinematic theft) is Jean Claude Van Damme's 1993 film Hard Target.  And I have no idea why - such an odd choice to mix with everything stolen from Reservoir Dogs. Suffice it to say, various clips from Hard Target were reconstructed in this movie.  If you don't believe me, take a look at the trailer:

Just in case you still don't see it, here are a couple side by side shots so you can see what I'm getting at.

Still don't believe me? Compare their mullet hair.  Or their names - Chance Deluise Kawahara vs. Chance Boudreaux. And as another example of another movie, Pulp Fiction:

So, as you can see, there are a lot of scenes lifted from other movies, and a lot more than I've actually mentioned.  But that just adds to the charm of this B movie violent bonanza.  Speaking of violence...

The Violent Rundown.

There's a lot of shooting and a lot of fake blood tossed about in this one.  It's hard to count the shootings, because a lot of people are hit with barrages of bullets, but my guess is somewhere around 15.  The rest of the violence is pretty typical stuff, two guys shot by arrows (Ok, so not quite typical), two beatings or so, a broken finger, a head bashed by a rock, a boot to the head, and a good old fashioned stabbing.

The Final Verdict.

Well, I've mentioned the cinematic heists from other movies, but a wise man once said "Good artists copy, great artists steal" so who am I to fault this movie for lifting scenes from other films and mashing them up into a pretty good heist movie with enough Reservoir flavor to keep me entertained?  I will admit the mixing in of scenes from Hard Target seems pretty random, but I guess in 1995 John Woo and Van Damme were still big enough to warrant stealing from, and careers have been made by copying Tarrantino, so I'm willing to overlook it all.  If you like 80's action movies, you'll probably like this one - and if you like crappy 80's music, the credits roll with what sounds like a crappy 80's song by a Japanese band.  Like most Japanese movies filmed in the 90's, Score looks like it was filmed in the 80's.  Also like most Japanese movies filmed in the 90's, the lighting is horrible (I've mentioned this on the blog before).  This is no Tarrantino or Takeshi or Miike, but it's entertaining and interesting enough to recommend.  So there you go, it's "pretty good".  I like Ozawa Hitoshi, even though this wasn't his best work, and I think I'm starting to like Ehara Shu despite the fact that he starred in the (aptly named) crap-fest Junk.  And Ozawa Kazuyoshi is not bad either.  So toss it in the ole Netflix queue and prepare to be whelmed (unless there is another word for being neither over nor underwhelmed.)

1 comment:

  1. If there's one thing about this hardcore action flicks that most people take for granted, it's the director's fascination for men to wear artisan jewelry rings. For some reason, they have been pretty consistent in whatever genres.