Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Triggerman (1997)

What's the market for this kind of picture? I was hoping for a bottom of the barrell action film, something along the lines of bad Jeff Speakman or Van Damme. This is far worse. Seriously, who would watch this? Where would one even find it? I can say, quite confidently, that it never aired on Television (although, if basic cable ever produces a hardcore sex channel, this is the kind of thing that would air during the day. You know, so the kids can watch). I can't imagine any video store ever stocking this. I borrowed one of five copies in circulation from my co-worker, Steve. He bought it for a dollar.

Warning. If you ever have the opportunity to watch a film put out by 'Wildcat Pictures' just walk the other way. Or, burn out your eyes and blow out your ear drums. To listen to this would be almost as bad as watching it. I watched this thing on VHS (remember those?). It's not available on DVD. Never has been. Never will be.

Before getting into the plot, a quick note on the video quality. It's terrible. The director (and creator of 'Wildcat Pictures') Mark Gordon honed his skills as the cinematographer of such films as Alice and Viril and Crystal Force 2. By "honed his skills" I meant "jacked off" because the guy didn't learn a damned thing. This picture is amateurish in every way imaginable. The lighting is awful. The transitions between scenes are terrible. I want to say that Mark Gordon doesn't know how to direct actors, but that would imply that he actually hired, you know, actors.

Here's the plot: Disgraced FBI agent Dexter (Jonathan Aube) has left the Bureau to become a hitman. He's hired by a mob boss (some guy) to kill a rival mob boss (some fat greasy italian looking guy playing a russian). Unfortunately, Dex botches up the hit when a hooker named Layla (Diana Cuevas) shows up. The russian mob boss is taken out, but unfortunately, the nephew of the other mob boss (the one that ordered the hit) ends up in a hospital with "tubes in and out of every orifice". Now, the other mob boss wants Layla dead and orders Dex to off her. Unfortunately, Dex thought he said to get off on her. Meanwhile, Dex's crooked old partner (Corbin Timbrook) with the FBI also wants Layla dead since she's extorting an FBI-friendly senator with a sex-tape. He ALSO orders Dex to take her out, but doesn't trust him to actually do it, so he hires a government sanctioned contract killer (Ike Gingrich) to take them both out. Good hearted Dexter can't, in fact, do it. He and Layla go on the run from the mob, the FBI, and a contract killer (the likes of which the world has never seen). Dex and Layla actually spend most of the movie in a seedy hotel room where they engage in the sex act, etc.

I can see why some might confuse this with the recent No Country For Old Men. Dexter is kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of a satchel of money, he's got a hooker named Layla. He spends some tense moments in a hotel, while a contract killer waits outside. I suppose the contract killer, named Clovis "the cleaner" Brown, would be Chigurh. He even used a tracking device, but since it was on the car, and not in Layla's bra, he had to wait until Dex and Layla came out of their room. Clovis wasn't very menacing. I would think the government could do better in finding an assassin. In one scene, while pursuing his target by car, he says to Dexter (who can't hear him because he's in another car ahead of him):

---"You may think you're getting away from me, but you ain't getting away from me."

---then, "Don't you dare go any faster or we're gonna get pulled over."

---followed by, "I got you now!"

---later, "Dammit! Where did you go?"

It's all very Chigurh-esque.

This movie has to be a joke, right? The most character development we get is Dexter sitting in a dark room and drinking tequila. When he passes out, he flashbacks to a terrific pre-title sequence where he and his former FBI partner bust up a drug deal only to steal the drugs and murder everyone, so they can sell the drugs themselves. He flashbacks to these events at least five times.

My favorite scene was a training homage between Dexter and his thirteen year old Asian friend. Dexter punches his friend's fists while blindfolded on the beach as My Tan (his actual name) says "Focus your energy" over and over. This is worse than Die You Zombie Bastards. The less said about the "score" the better. If you've ever recorded music on your casio keyboard, you could have a job with 'Wildcat Pictures'. In one scene, Dexter is searching through his apartment scored to some somber beepity beep music when, suddenly, the hard rock kicks in as he's attacked. Immediately following the fight (I'm not even going to talk about that) the hard rock stops and returns to the somber "apartment searching" beeping score.

I'm not sure what they spent the thousand dollar budget on, but I know what they didn't spend it on. The special effects. I loved the car bomb scene, everything from the superimposed explosion to the delayed reaction of the victim. This is nothing compared to the guy thrown out of the high rise, a moment it would be hard to surpass in the history of unintentional comedy.

I liked the scenes when Dexter was trying to find Layla in L.A. (oh yeah, this takes place in L.A., not that you could tell). Knowing she's a hooker, he searches L.A.'s seedy underbelly. He draws a crude picture of her butterfly tattoo, show's it to a tattoo artist who points him to the maker, a rotund strip club proprieter named Ugly Kid Joe played by "Film Star Randal Malone" (seriously, that's how he was billed). I guess things like Psychon Invaders and Creepies 2 can be passed off as "films" these days.

A note on the gangsters. One was named Franco and his buddy was named Nero. Clearly a nod to the great Franco Nero. I like that.

There's a "car chase" scene where the picture inexplicably switches to letter boxing about midway through. This "widescreen" look lasts for about a minute and then we're back to full frame. There was no intent here. The filmmakers just fucked up and didn't know how to fix it.

If The Triggerman has a redeeming quality, it's the nudity. There is some. Now, admittedly, Layla isn't the prettiest girl around. She's a skank. After knowing Dexter for a few minutes, she offers to tend his wounds, which leads to a massage ("you're so tight") which leads to a hardcore scene with all the penetration shots removed. The sex was actually convincing, sort of. Anyway, it made me wonder why they didn't just say "fuck it, we're making a porno." They would have made a lot more money. Perhaps Aube (Dex, in case you forgot) had too much integrity similar to his character when he declared his desire to leave his hitman gig because "the cost on my soul is too great."

This was a waste of time. Mine, especially. I hope you didn't read this whole thing. Mark Gordon and company manage to give the finger to the audience, the film industry (of which they are no longer a part of) and even the cruise line industry (as Dexter and Layla plan their escape from the country, Dex says "We can't leave by normal means. We're gonna have to take a ship."

Recently, Javier Bardem thanked the Coen Brothers (upon winning the SAG award) for "using all the good takes". The point being that filmmakers, in many cases, are just as important to performance as the actors themselves. If the original print of The Triggerman still exists, let's hand it over to Scorsese. See what he can do with it. Under his watch, the line "I don't give a shit about him, but I liked that vase very much" might become poetry.

To sum up:

good=the guns looked kinda real
good=Franco Nero tribute
bad=special effects
bad=video quality
bad=fight scenes
bad=Film Star Randal Malone
bad=Steve, for lending me this


Anonymous said...

Bad to the fortieth power, you say? Guess I shouldn't watch this copy I found clogging the sewer grate down front.

brian said...

Well, as long as it's just sitting there, you might as well watch it.

steve said...

'Hope you didn't read this whole thing' - well, I did, and I laughed my ass off the whole time! And don't you worry: there's more to come! The next goad to your towering outrage is snuggled in my shoulder-bag as we speak!

brian said...

Keem 'em coming. I can take everything you can dish out.

steve said...

Oh, I doubt it! The next one makes 'Triggerman' look like Lawrence of Frickin Arabia ... you'll crack, eventually!

Anonymous said...

I'd very much like a copy of "Soldier Boyz." Anyone?

F-Stop said...

Brian, I'm so sorry.

At least I've never steered you to something this bad. Steve's bad movies are starting to make "Bram Stoker's Burial of the Rats" or "Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter" look like Oscar material, no?

brian said...


Let's not get carried away.

brian said...

An interesting note: This film was written by Walter Dill, NOT to be confused with Walter Hill, the writer of such seminal pictures as 'The Getaway' and 'The Warriors' (which he also directed).

steve said...

These movies that I intend to keep lending poor Brian? I started off with the BEST one.

Mr. Anderson said...

The fact that Steve owns these awful movies and intends to distribute them to Brian makes me wonder whether or not I'll read a GOOD bad movie review in the near future...

brian said...


There are ONLY good movies or bad movies. No in between.