Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bare Knuckles (1977)

Bare Knuckles

Written & Directed by Don Edmonds

Zachary Kane...Robert Viharo
Black...John Daniels
Jennifer...Sherry Jackson
Richard Devlin...Michael Heit

"Zachary Kane, Bounty Hunter."

That's the kind of introduction that makes young ladies helpless but to do your sexual bidding.  It's like, "Stony Rockson, Astronaut," or "Alexander Midnight, Private Eye."  Of course, it doesn't hurt that Kane is 100 Percent Grade A Badass, with a mullet made of pure machismo and a mustache made of Chuck Norris's darkest fears.  These are the seedy streets of 1977 L.A., where only the toughest of tough guys don't get eaten alive.

When a masked killer begins stalking the streets, terrorizing and killing innocent women, the police take notice.  And when a 15 grand reward is offered, well, Zachary Kane takes notice as well.  For this man, it's all about the benjamins.

But Kane only gets his money if he brings down this serial slaughterer before the police do.  Luckily for Kane, he has something that the police don't have: street cred.  Kane uses his considerable pull, and his considerable fists, to track down the one surviving witness who has gone into hiding.  But in order to do so, he must forge an unlikely alliance with Black, an African-American rival.

You heard me right.  Zack and Black--but they aren't attorney at laws!

This nearly forgotten action flick probably deserves a bigger audience than it has.  Sometimes referred to as a Blaxploitation film, that's not quite an accurate description (although it does share certain elements with that peculiar sub-sub-genre).  It's a bi-racial buddy cop movie, only they're not technically cops...and they're probably not technically buddies, either.  Not to mention the fact that their partnership dissolves during the second half of the flick without another mention (despite what the poster would have you believe).  But still, if Shaft and Lethal Weapon had a cocaine-fueled quickie in the mens room at an all-night Pizza Hut, and Lethal Weapon somehow got pregnant (because let's face it, Shaft is nobody's lady), this is probably what their bastard offspring would look like.

Always cheap-looking, often corny, and occasionally harmlessly offensive, Bare Knuckles is quite dated...but that's part of its charm.  Definitely worth a look if you enjoy action and exploitation films from days gone by.  And it's an admitted favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who draws his inspiration from these sorts of flicks, so fans of his work will probably be interested as well.

"That's right.  I rock the flute, bitch."
Besides, where else can you see a bar room brawl...in a gay bar?  Or a villain who makes sexual advances on his own mother?  Or an Asian bystander going toe-to-toe with a mad man using only a pair of chopsticks?

What's that you say?  Police Academy 2, The Manchurian Candidate, and Kung-Fu Panda?

All right, smart ass.  Let me rephrase:  Where else can you see it all in one movie?

Nowhere.  Now make room for Zachary Kane...or you could be his next punching bag.

Rated R
90 Minutes
United States

"Sunday brunch and sex orgies."

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