Monday, February 25, 2013

New Crap?: Black Cobra (2012)

The best Black Cobra film ever made...not that that's saying a lot.  This South African film shares the same title as a trio of bad Action films starring Fred "The Hammer" Williamson back in the late-80s.  If you missed the films- and my reviews- here's the short version: it's an Italian rip-off of Cobra, but Starring a Black Actor.  In spite of Cobra not being a hit, they made three of these films (possibly four, depending on your source).  Why?  Who knows?  This film came out sometime around 2012 and actually has an alternate title...but that's less interesting to talk about.  The story involves a man who leaves his home to go to Los Angeles on a mission of love.  I'll get to more details in the review, but sufficed to say he has a good reason for trying to raise a bunch of money.  Being an Action Film, something goes horribly awry and violence ensues.  I won't SPOIL the movie too much, since it is a recent release and has a few decent twists to it.  To find out what all of the kicking is about, read on...
In a fairly-vague opening (just to cut to some action early on), a man digs up some diamonds and has to fight off some thugs.  They all have some back-story...but also die in this scene.  Pointless exposition for the win!
Our hero, you see, has to take the diamonds to America (Los Angeles, specifically- naturally) to be able to pay a Judge to release his dad from Prison before he dies there.  This guy helps him, but never appears after this scene (save for a flashback later).
Before he goes, our hero meets up with his Master.  He is taught a lesson on controlling his rage, but only after we rip off Kill Bill a little bit.
Now in L.A., our hero meets up with some locals- led by a friend from long ago- and makes a deal to sell his diamonds for half a million.  Sounds like a plan!  What could possibly go...
 ...spoke too soon.  Who would have guessed that he'd be attacked by ninjas and have the jewels stolen?

Oh right- this is an Action film.  That makes perfect sense.
After some training from a lady ninja pal (don't ask), our hero and his posse go after the source, one person at a time.  Can you guess what that leads to?  Yes, action scenes (and pretty good ones, honestly).
At one point, our hero takes on a pair of lady ninjas.  I figured that might help you make up your mind about whether to check out this film or not.
 Oh and he fights Shang Tsung- aka Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa- too.  Does that help you make up your mind?  If not, I can't do anything for you.  The End.
Honestly, I had low expectations, but it exceeded them.  The film is not exactly a masterpiece.  The plot is pretty basic and it contains a few sub-plots that really amount to very little.  The whole 'tension with the fiancee' sub-plot is pretty pointless, as is the 'rebellious son' story.  That one does get a good conclusion, but feels a bit out of place.  I guess the point is to show the other side of greed and what it gets you.  Overall though, it could easily be excised and not affect things too much in the long run.  The good parts are the unique story for the character and the action.  His motivation- help his dad- is not that unique, but they layer it with some connections to Apartheid and the dark, political past of South Africa.  It's a subtle touch, but it helps.  One side-note, however, is that the film is a bit confused as to how time works and how you portray it in the story.  They say that the dad has been in prison for fifteen years.  That would place his incarceration in 1997, if the release year is accurate, but they say that he was put there in 1992.  They also mention the Truth Commission starting their work in 1994, which appears to be the source of his arrest.  So yeah, I'm confused.  Ignoring all of that, there's good production values for a Direct-to-Video Action film, some good humor and I have no real complaints about the fight scenes.  The worst thing I can really say is that the fact that our lead looks like the third member of Milli Vannili at times with those dreads.  Regardless, this film is actually pretty good.  Girl, you know it's true!
Next up, a film I found entirely by accident.  Since nobody demanded, here's a sequel to Raptor Island!  Stay tuned...

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