I didn’t start watching wrestling until about 10 years ago when I was forced to start watching by getting into a relationship with a wrestling fan. Therefore, I knew Roddy Piper as the guy from They Live instead of the guy from Piper’s Pit. I also happen to think he was the best actor to come out of pro wrestling, and it’s his charisma that saves Immortal Combat from being totally laughable. It doesn’t hurt that his co-star is Sonny Chiba. They’re cops who try to back up an undercover lady cop who gets murdered at a party while they’re baited into a fight for the entertainment of the guests, and then Piper pulls a Beverly Hills Cop and goes on vacation to the island whose brochure he found on the dead cop.
Basically, this is another movie with zombies on a Caribbean island, but this time it’s Mayan magic and mad science making them instead of a virus or voodoo. Also, they don’t munch guts, they just beat people to death. And it’s not a horror movie, but a martial arts film without enough fighting. Of course, there’s never enough choreographed fighting for my taste, not in any movie. The world just needs fewer people running their mouths and more attractive men kicking people in the face.
Aside from the ridiculous zombie plot there are about five other plots: there’s a serial killer played by one of the American Gladiators, Sonny Chiba has some drama with his daughter (who looks just like him!), there’s a reporter trying to expose the scientists, Meg Foster spends the whole movie doing a creepy Katherine Hepburn impression, and somebody is the chosen one from Mayan prophecy. Two people who don’t speak English very well have an unintelligible conversation. Piper’s (dong euphemism) gets injured a lot, even getting its feelings hurt at one point. There’s a reluctant zombie, and a lot of comedy. And this movie has the distinction of featuring an opening scene unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in a cop movie: instead of the film opening with two cops going on a raid and then getting in trouble with their angry captain, we watch the botched raid in flashback intercut with the captain reacting and being angry as they try to explain themselves. It really sets the tone for the rest of the movie, which is back and forth between all the plots.
Yet somehow, for a straight to video 90s action movie, it’s very enjoyable. Or maybe it’s just that I have bad taste.
My tape of Immortal Combat is a screener that was put out by A-Pix Entertainment. The distribution companies always warned the video stores not to sell screeners, but we have acquired a ton of them somehow. A-Pix also distributed such films as Da Hip Hop Witch and Jack Frost. That’s the chilling and killing Jack Frost, not the Michael Keaton reincarnated as a snowman one. They should have just cut out the fluff there and hired Michael Keaton to play the killer snowman as a frozen Beetlejuice, you know? A-Pix even produced a few movies, such as Uncle Sam (He wants you…dead!) which I will be discussing here, possibly next week. Someone was kind enough to share Immortal Combat on YouTube, so if you need to see it here it is.