Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

What two words at a cocktail party are guaranteed to make your eyes glaze over and your brain start throbbing like you were just shot up with three quarts of Lithium?

"School board."
Listen to me: I DON'T WANNA HEAR ABOUT IT! OK? I'm sure it's important and everything, but it's a Middle-Class Yuppie Suburbanite Done-Given-Up-On-Everything-in-Life topic. It's the equivalent of telling everybody what you ordered at the Western Sizzler salad bar last night.

First of all, can we get a new name for it? Even the WORDS are boring. Can't we call it the Rug Rat Sanhedrin? The Yard Monster Senate? The Velcro-Midget Knesset?

Secondly, can we dispense with the first five minutes of the conversation: "Lemme tell you what idiots these people are"?

We KNOW they're idiots. They're people who actually went to an EFFORT to serve on the SCHOOL BOARD. What do you THINK you're gonna get?

There are only two kinds of people who run for the School Board--ladies in voluminous dresses who think they're on a mission from God to Save America's Youth, and guys who take time out from running Mobil Oil to try to put the school building program on "a solid economic basis." So you already know these two groups are gonna be at each other's throats.

The first group wants to talk about "multicultural education" and "the esteem of our young people" and "what this community stands for," and the second group is constantly saying "OK, let's talk BUDGET."

The reason school board politics are so vicious is that the stakes are so low. It's one thing to say you think there should be cutbacks in the schools because of a declining tax base. It's quite another thing to say that you think each child at Freda Gail Sternweather Elementary should have one less carton of milk per day.

"What kind of MONSTER are you?"
"OK, lady, then YOU pay for the milk!" But whenever this stuff happens, it's only REALLY interesting to about 200 people. That's why, when you have the urge to have the big discussion about "pulling Jimmy out of school and going private," just KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, OK? We've HEARD the story. We haven't heard your particular version of it, but we HAVE heard it.

I don't know when people got so bored with life. We used to argue about whether the Ku Klux Klan could erect a cross in the town plaza at Christmastime. Now THAT'S a topic for the cocktail party. Any topic that could actually cause fistfights is great for parties. But I don't think we're gonna have any kickboxing over the new school property-tax rate, you know?

Don't make me have to repeat this.
And speaking of people who should have a black leather boot used to deviate their septum, we've got some major low-budget chopsocky this week in the form of Blazing Force, starring the next Jackie Chan wannabe, Tyrone Wade, as a cop seeking vengeance against a super ninja from another dimension, a big ole bodybuilder goonie in cool leather who wastes innocent homeless girls and then vanishes into the ether. The only way to defeat him is to learn kung fu from Mr. Yang and squat in a giant pagoda and then zap yourself into other dimensions to gather a broken amulet that's the source of all life so you can fight the evil Grecko in a Kung Fu City finale that's...uh...I forgot, actually.

Anyhow, most revenge movies are about one of two things--they killed the guy's wife, or they killed the guy's partner. So this one is about BOTH. The Kung Fu Goonie kills a hooker in downtown El Lay, setting off a 10-minute chase that ends with Tyrone's partner getting electrocuted with supernatural zapjuice. But that causes FLASHBACKS to when Tyrone's WIFE was killed by vicious bow-and-arrow-wielding drunken rednecks while they were still on their honeymoon. Obviously, it's time for a little Buddha work here--just enough to get him ready to kick some serious hiney.

This movie is outstanding, except in two or three places where they stop fighting and let the actors speak. Other than that, the plot runs roughly like this: Thwak, Pow, Ker-thunk, Nunchuck Nunchuck, Thud.

In other words, my kinda flick.
Eight dead bodies. No breasts. Crack-dealer bashing.
Homeless-stomping. Burglary-suspect abuse. Neck-snapping.
One motor vehicle chase, with subway.
"Rocky"-style training montage, with leapfrog.

Gratuitous Tai chi. Gratuitous nightmare sequences. Gratuitous hallucination sequences.

Twelve kung fu scenes.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for:
*Jana Mitsoula, as the bored hooker who says, "Are we gonna do this or not?"

*James Gordon, as the earnest black partner who says, "What white guy runs that fast?"

*Tyrone Wade, in the title role, as tortured soul Richard Blaze, for wailing like a wounded lion every time somebody gets killed, and for saying, "Don't you die on me, buddy!"

*William Terry, as the greenhorn by-the-book partner who says, "I understand you feel guilty, and you're deflecting that on me."

Two and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's neuron bomb comes from Dean Noble of Toluca Lake, California:
"I was home from school in the mid-to-late '70s and caught a flick about treasure hunters and a giant sea turtle in the Caribbean.

"When the hunters got it into their greedy noggins to capture the turtle, said sea creature towed each and every one of them to Davey Jones' locker. All death scenes were lyrically accompanied by a Bach fugue for harp or guitar.

"The cast featured a requisite blonde cutie who may or may not have been a mermaid, a Carl Weathers lookalike, and a good-guy fisherman with a perpetual three-day growth reminiscent of Bill Pullman.

"There's some week-old Cajun-brand pork rinds and teriyaki turkey jerky from my uncle's 24-Hour Gas 'n Go in Beaumont, Texas, in it for you if you can help me find this flick!"

A video will be awarded to the correct answer. (The winner chooses from our library of titles.) In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax them to 213-462-5982 or e-mail them to Joe Bob on the Internet: 76702.1435@compuserve.com. (E-mail entries must include a postal mailing address.)

©1997 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NY Times Special Features)

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