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KILLING AMERICAN STYLE (1990)
Published by David Carter on 2014/8/24 (1051 reads)
Directed by Amir Shervan
Review by David Carter
Released by Cinema Epoch
Running Time: 89 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Interview
Trailer Online: Yes
Short Version: Fantastically nostalgic actioner
Iranian director Amir Shervan is one of the unsung heroes of early nineties action cinema. After making several films in his homeland, Shervan relocated to the United States to unleash some of the most iconic exploitation films in the waning days of the genre. Best known for the incomparable SAMURAI COP, Shervan focused primarily on the “one man against the odds” subgenre of action and had a keen eye for delivering the type of film exploitation fans love: cheap, sleazy, and violent. The films of this cult director are making a resurgence thanks to the efforts of Cinema Epoch, and their latest release is a DVD of the ultra-rare Shervan flick KILLING AMERICAN STYLE.
Robert Z’Dar (a Shervan regular) stars as small-time tough guy Tony Stone, who opens the film by robbing an ice cream truck company. He’s got a man on the inside helping him pull off the job, but unfortunately his contact turns snitch and Stone, creepy partner John Lynch, and the deranged Loony are promptly arrested later that day. The trio has a trick up their sleeves, however, and they are freed when Stone’s brother Jesse hijacks the prison transport bus. Jesse is shot during the escape, and the four felons begin a desperate search for somewhere to hide out.
That “somewhere” is the quiet home of John Morgan, played by the impressively coiffed Harold Diamond from RAMBO III, several Andy Sidaris’ films, and the American kickboxing scene. Despite being a killing machine, Morgan is somewhat of a pacifist, so he tries to cooperate with Stone and his gang for the sake of his family. Stone refuses to leave until Jesse has recuperated and they’ve gotten the hidden loot from the ice cream truck heist, and it falls on Morgan to make both of those things happen. He helps Stone, but when the brutal thug pushes him too far he learns that Morgan can dish it out as good as he can take it.
It is my professional opinion that any film containing Robert Z’Dar or Harold Diamond is automatically good, so the fact that KILLING AMERICAN SYTLE has both of them puts it into whole new category of awesome. Z’Dar is at his unrestrained best here, snarling his way through dialogue with zeal and relishing in his own villainy. Diamond is a suitable foil, doing a good job with the timid everyman role while still remaining strong enough that his ultimate revenge sequence doesn’t feel illogical. Shervan utilized Hollywood veterans at every opportunity in his films, and Jim Brown fills the bill here as a cop who is perpetually one step behind Stone and his gang. The three leads make KILLING AMERICAN STYLE worth a watch despite the fact that there is very little killing, American style or otherwise, until the film’s climax.
Cinema Epoch’s DVD of KILLING AMERICAN STYLE looks great. The print is remastered but not so much that it loses its VHS-look charm. Posters for similar films are the highlight of the disc’s limited special features. KILLING AMERICAN STYLE will be a goldmine of nostalgia for fans of early 90s’ action trash. The movie will definitely be a treat for exploitation fans of any stripe, and bears a passing resemblance to the video nasty FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE.
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