Cinemax Friday: Maximum Force (1992, directed by Joseph Mehri)


Max Tanabe (Richard Lynch) is Los Angeles’s biggest crime lord, involved in everything from prostitution to illegal fight clubs.  But, because he’s rich, no one can touch him.  He plays golf with the mayor.  He’s paid off the police commissioner (Mickey Rooney).  The police commissioner spends the entire movie riding around in a limo.  How do you think he was able to afford that?

Captain Fuller (John Saxon) needs some new jack cops to take down a new jack gangster so he goes out and recruits three.  Cody Randal (Sherries Ross) works vice.  Rick Carver (Jason Lively) is a “tech expert” who rigs toy cars with explosives.  Mike Crews (Sam J. Jones) is looking to avenge the death of his partner.  Fuller brings them together and put them through an extensive training course.  At the end of it, he tests their skills and their teamwork by bringing in a secret team of ninjas to attack them.

Which begs the question: If you already have a secret team of ninjas, why do you have to recruit and train three detectives to take down Tanabe?  Why not just have the ninjas do it?

So, logic is not exactly Maximum Force‘s strong point but it still has some good points.  For instance, you have to respect any movie that can bring together Richard Lynch and John Saxon, not to mention Mickey Rooney!  Of course, there’s not really much of a reason for Mickey Rooney to be there.  All of his scenes feature him in the limo and they are edited together so awkwardly that it seems probable the he never actually acted opposite any of his co-stars.  But it doesn’t matter because he’s Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, picking up a paycheck in his twilight years.  As for Saxon and Lynch, they do what they do best and bring gravitas to their otherwise stock roles.

As for the three heroes, they’re adequate even if none of them really shine.  I liked the tech expert the best but that was just because he rigged all of those remote control cars to explode.  Sam J. Jones and Sherrie Ross are both better at throwing punches than showing emotion but that’s what a film like this demands.  Some of the fight scenes are exciting.  There’s a helicopter attack early in the film.  Towards the end of the film, when Mike decides that the team needs some extra help, he calls in an amateur wrestler named Bear who just randomly shows up during the final battle.  Maximum Force knows what its audience wants and that’s the important thing.

An Offer You Can Refuse #5: The Happening (dir by Elliot Silverstein)


The 1967 film, The Happening, opens with two “young” people — Sureshot (Michael Parks) and Sandy (Faye Dunaway) — waking up on a Florida beach.  The previous night, they attended a party so wild that the beach is full of passed out people, one of whom apparently fell asleep while standing on his head.  (It’s a happening!)  From the dialogue, we discover that, despite their impeccably clean-cut appearances, both Sureshot and Sandy are meant to be hippies.

After trying to remember whether or not they “made love” the previous night (wow, how edgy!), Sandy and Sureshot attempt to find their way off of the beach.  As they walk along, they’re joined by two other partygoers.  Taurus is played by George Maharis, who was 38 when this film was shot and looked about ten years older.  Taurus is a tough guy who carries a gun and dreams of being a revolutionary and who says stuff like, “Bam!  Et cetera!”  Herbie is eccentric, thin, and neurotic and, presumably because Roddy McDowall wanted too much money, he’s played by Robert Walker, Jr.

Anyway, the four of them end up stealing a boat and talking about how life is a drag, man.  Eventually, they end up breaking into a mansion and threatening the owner and his wife.  Since this movie was made before the Manson murders, this is all played for laughs.  The owner of the mansion is Roc Delmonico (Anthony Quinn).  Roc used to be a gangster but now he’s a legitimate businessman.  The “hippies” decide to kidnap Roc because they assume they’ll be able to get a lot of money for him.

The only problem is that no one is willing to pay the ransom!

Not Roc’s wife (Martha Hyer)!

Not Roc’s best friend (Milton Berle), who happens to be sleeping with Roc’s wife!

Not Roc’s former mob boss (Oscar Homolka)!

Roc gets so angry when he find out that no one wants to pay that he decides to take control of the kidnapping,  He announces that he knows secrets about everyone who refused to pay any money for him and unless they do pay the ransom, he’s going to reveal them.  We’ve gone from kidnapping to blackmail.

Along the way, Roc bonds with his kidnappers.  He teaches them how to commit crimes and they teach him how to be anti-establishment or something.  Actually, I’m not sure what they were supposed to have taught him.  The Happening is a comedy that I guess was trying to say something about the divide between the young and the middle-aged but it doesn’t really have much of a message beyond that the middle-aged could stand to laugh a little more and that the young are just silly and kind of useless.  Of course, the whole young/old divide would probably work better if all of the young hippies weren’t played by actors who were all either in their 30 or close enough to 30 to make their dorm room angst seem a bit silly.

It’s an odd film.  The tone is all over the place and everyone seems to be acting in a different movie.  Anthony Quinn actually gives a pretty good dramatic performance but his good performance only serves to highlight how miscast almost everyone else in the film is.  Michael Parks comes across like he would rather be beating up hippies than hanging out with them while Faye Dunaway seems to be bored with the entire film.  George Maharis, meanwhile, goes overboard on the Brando impersonation while Robert Walker, Jr. seems like he just needs someone to tell him to calm down.

But even beyond the weird mix of acting style, the film’s message is a mess.  On the one hand, the “hippies” are presented as being right about the establishment being full of hypocritical phonies.  On the other hand, the establishment is proven to be correct about the “hippies” being a bunch of easily distracted idiots.  This is one of those films that wants to have it both ways, kind of like an old episode of Saved By The Bell where Mr. Belding learns to loosen up while Zack learns to respect authority.  This is an offer that you can refuse.

And that’s what’s happening!

Previous Offers You Can’t (or Can) Refuse:

  1. The Public Enemy
  2. Scarface
  3. The Purple Gang
  4. The Gang That Could’t Shoot Straight

Music Video of the Day: Cool by Gwen Stefani (2005, dir. by Sophie Muller)


I ain’t no hollaback girl …. I ain’t no hollaback girl ….

Oh wait, wrong Gwen Stafani song.  This one’s Cool too, though.  In fact, that’s the name of the song!  It’s all about how Gwen used to date this guy but they broke up but they’re still cool, as in they’re still friends.  In this video, Gwen proves just how cool she is by inviting her ex and his now lover to her Italian villa.

This video was filmed at Lake Como, Italy and the main reason I like it is because I like Italy and watching a video like this reminds me of how much I want to go back and visit Italy.  That was kind of the plan for the second half of this year but then the COVID-19 panic hit and upended everything.

By the way, are we still doing the quarantine thing?  It’s hard to keep track.  I know that two weeks ago, people were threatening to throw me up against the wall for wanting to go outside.  Now, they want to do the same thing because I don’t want to go out.  Personally, I just want to know that I can safely travel to Italy.

Anyway, enjoy this video and hopefully, we’ll all get to travel again at some point in the near future!