Killing, American Style Review: Mullets & No Discernible Plot, Low Budget Style!
Updated: Apr 17
Dir: Amir Shervan
Release Date: 1988
“After escaping from a prison bus, Robert Z’Dar and his ruthless gang hole up in a house owned by martial arts master, Harold Diamond. So ensues a battle of wits and a fight to the death.”
Just before the legendary genius that was Samurai Cop, Mr Amir Shevan was practising his craft with some of the same cast and many of the same ideas in this shambolic mash up of cop action/martial arts/prison escape thriller. While not quite the polished turd of Samurai Cop, this effort does have its share of laugh out loud insanity/sheer incompetence along with some ludicrous set-pieces and terrible dialogue.
Without further ado, on with the show…….
We start with some gunshot punctuated title credits and then straight to a club and some ladies with big hair and all dressed in 80s spandex or denim hot pants being assembled by a moustachioed guy in double denim who has B&W headshots of each. Some men sit around behind him in suits. The guy’s name is Lynch (played by John Lynch who I can’t find much info about of IMDB). All of this is accompanied by some cheesy synth rock music.
“Aright ladies, let’s not waste a lot of time.”, is the opening line of the movie and seems to be some sort of coded instruction to all the girls to immediately start to dance about the place in an unchoreographed mess of movement. “No, no, no, no, just one of you at a time”, and they filter out to take it in turns to show us what they can do. Casey (spandex) goes first and doesn’t last long before Lonnie (denim hot pants) takes over and gets a bit longer screen time.
“Jesus Christ can’t anybody do what I want them to do?” says Lynch without explaining what he wants at all.
“I can.” This line is huskily spoken by a busty blonde spilling out of her spandex leotard top and proceeds to show us exactly what Lynch is looking for. Lynch follows Husky Busty (She gets no named intro) to the dressing rooms and they seem to ‘hit it off’ immediately.
Robert Z’Dar’s jawline walks in the front door, followed shortly thereafter by Robert Z’Dar himself as Tony Stone.
Sadly, Tony doesn’t have a beard (it’s a shame because Z’Dar looks great with a beard in Samurai Cop) but he sure as shit has a mighty mullet and he wants to know where Lynch is. Tony is so badass that when some guy in a suit comes to shake his hand, he just walks past him like he didn’t even see or hear him. Tony’s right-hand man, however, looks like some junkie guy from an East End prison. Lynch is getting some titty action which Stone interrupts by persistently knocking on the door. Finally, telling him they have a big job encourages Lynch to pry himself from between those breasts and to follow Stone.
“Keep it warm, baby”, he says in a kind of precursor to the infamous Samurai Cop dialogue.
“Ha, I will”, is Husky Busty’s response and we linger a couple of seconds to see that she intends to do just that by touching herself.
Sadly, we cut to some Ice Cream & Candy Wholesale yard now and a security guard patrolling just one part of the perimeter fence.
A van pulls up and out jumps Tony Stone in a tight blue shirt. Looks like we got a money heist and the guard is in on it. Tony’s instructions to his men of “Keep it running” are ignored as they get out of the van and follow him almost immediately. They all begin to run around the yard like there is no plan in place other than to run aimlessly back and forwards while someone films it.
Tony, Lynch and Loony (played by Jimmy Williams, later to play angry Cop, Johnson in Samurai Cop) make it inside and the confusion seems to follow them. We get close-ups of people inside the office cabin and all of them are without any expression at all. Nobody seems to know what is going on in the scene and they all just kind of stare blankly.
One eventually points to a drawer and they find more money for which we are rewarded with a close up of Robert Z’Dar as he nods and smiles.
The inside man security guard goes to find yet more security guys and they are all wearing different uniforms to each other.
How much money can an Ice Cream and Candy Wholesale depot make anyway that they would be worth robbing and to have them employ around 3 different security firms to protect it?
“Hey, buddies. Something is going on, let’s go and check”, is the perfectly natural thing the guy says to them.
Well, it all ends up being a huge gunfight with Tony and his gang shooting everyone including 3 cops. One of these Cops turns around when Tony shouts, “Hey Cop!”, even though they forgot to overdub this and he just clearly shouts it in silence. They all escape but the inside man guard is seen firing into the air and watching them leave by the manager of the place and he gets arrested.
We get some more tits now and some Robert Z’Dar sexy sexy action (now that really is a niche porn market).
The crooked guard is walked in cuffs for a totally pointless scene where a cop says, “Is it behind that wall?” and points to a wall, “Yes.”, then he is led away again and is not seen for the rest of the movie.
Tony hears as the Cops move in which puts him off his awkward looking thrusting and he seems to be tangled in bed sheets as he struggles to get out of the bed at all.
Maybe little Robert has a similarly enlarged head and he got caught up……. Anyway, he now thankfully has some trousers on, albeit some odd ones, and he shouts,
“What do you want from me?”, while he answers his own question by shooting another 2 Cops before being arrested by a junior looking Detective.
Straight off to Lynch’s club now which has a sign outside advertising the below:
MARCH 28/29: JOAN RIVERS
WED: ROCKET SHOW
SAT: DAN PALOTTA + DANNY SCOTT
An interesting mix of acts there for what appeared to be quite sleazy in the opening scenes. I can only hope Joan Rivers was not also doing the same dancing Husky Busty treated us to earlier and I’m not convinced Dan Palotta or Danny Scott would do it justice either.
Regardless of this, the Cops raid the place, and, after Lynch punches the Junior Detective in the face, he is arrested.
At the Station, we are treated to the Detective, who seriously looks about 17 with a power mullet and an amusingly deep voice, congratulating the men and, with a textbook close-up shot of the back of his head, he tells them to get them on a bus to Maximum Security.
Immediately cutting to this bus, they are stopped by a traffic incident which is quite clearly a set-up. A man in drag pretends badly to be a woman and asks for help while a prone man shouts that he thinks his legs are broken and he needs help. Of course, the prison bus stops and pretty much all of the guards get out which leads to them being shot as it WAS a set-up! The ‘woman’ was a large blonde guy (apparently Tony’s brother but couldn’t look less like him if it actually was a woman) and the injured guy was Loony who jumps up and shouts, “We fooled them, Tony!”, like an excited child. This joy is quickly cut short by the one remaining guard shooting Tony’s bro (Jesse) before he is also shot down and killed. The crooks make their escape in a shitty old truck that says ‘Carpets cleaned - $20’ on the side.
All American legend, Jim Brown, now makes his first appearance as Lt. Sunset which is a brilliant name and really deserved a separate mention in the opening credits. Brown has never been the most natural of actors but throughout this film, he doesn’t seem to even know why he’s there.
His buddy from Fresno calls him up and thinks he has a lead on where they are hiding out which is impressive as they haven’t even decided yet as we find out in the next scene. Still, Lt. Sunset is heading out there to see his buddy.
“We’re hiding out in a Motel? That’s stupid!”, declares Tony, “We’re gonna need to find a house”. Cut to a house. Some bikini models are walking down the stairs while some annoying blonde kid is doing some shit kickboxing by them.
One is his Mom and the other is his Aunt (he calls her Sexy Auntie for some reason) and they have a busy day of lounging around by the pool to do while this kid, Brandon, is taken to his kickboxing class by his dad, John, played by……. HAROLD DIAMOND!
You may recognise Harold Diamond from the classic and hilarious shit-fest that is Hard Ticket to Hawaii, which owns the dubious honour of being the subject of our very 1st podcast episode.
He annoyed the shit out of us in that one as Jade, and he looks exactly the same in this one; Long, wavy black hair in a ponytail and wears some outrageous outfits which even big Steven Seagal might have thought twice about.
Speaking of hair, Brandon’s Mom has the exact same hair as John with only her sister, Jennie, being blonde so Brandon remains somewhat of a mystery we never care about.
John Morgan, currently dressed in a kind of violet jacket and trouser combo with a huge neck chain, is such a nice guy, he goes off to speak to his Mexican labourer Jose about getting his horse ready for him to take out tomorrow and to tell him that Brandon has donated his old bike to Jose’s son Fernando which gets much thanks and a couple of ‘Bueno’. As soon as ‘Mr Morgan’ leaves Jose and gets a couple more ‘Bueno’ shouted at him as he drives away, Jose is jumped by Tony and Lynch who have been sneaking around the place. Lynch shoots him in the face for no real reason and they dump him over the stable door which Lynch then opens to bury him under a haystack. They then skulk away to see what else is going on.
We know that Lynch sure loves the ladies and, when he sees the bikini babes relaxing by the pool, he almost goes into a trance which can only be broken by Robert Z’Dar shouting at him while perched on a tiny wall like a gargoyle. There’s a brief chase which is just to show the bikini babes running about as they try to lock all the doors to no avail as Stone and Lynch both get in brandishing handguns.
“Anybody know how to treat a gunshot wound?”, Tony asks, though it seems unlikely. Against the odds, Sexy Auntie Jennie is a student nurse so that’s a fantastic stroke of luck.
Loony and Jesse arrive as Tony calls his mother to tell her to bring him the money from the heist, before telling Lynch to then rip out all other phone except one and demonstrates his distrust of phones by tearing the one he just used from the wall and stamping on it.
Brandon’s kickboxing class is shit and he somehow beats some other kid while being watched by another kid with a bum-fluff moustache and his ‘dad’ who seems to have mistakenly got Harold Diamond’s memo to look as ridiculous as possible for this scene and has followed that instruction to the letter. He is about 6’6, slim and has long hair way past his shoulders. The look is rounded off with a moustache. His outfit comprises of a really long pair of Kickboxing trousers, a red vest and a tiny jacket. His kid (inexplicably Hispanic) has a go at Brandon for some reason and his dad joins in so John Morgan has no choice to but to fight the dad. Jackets come off and Diamond reveals he also got that memo as he seems to be wearing violet dungarees beneath that make the Karate gi in Double Impact look like Ninja wear. There’s a cheeky low blow from the dad (played by ‘J.R.’ according to IMDB) and then some fighting intercut with close ups of both kids watching on. It’s not a bad fight to be honest but totally unnecessary to the plot if anyone can remember what that was.
John Morgan wins. Of course.
We cut to Fresno prison now and Lt. Sunset has got an impressive power stance gong on while they talk to the junkie looking member of the gang we all forgot about from earlier. They are asking about where the money is and promising him something or other in return for info. He gives them it and they renege immediately. HA! Stupid criminal.
Apparently, the money is with Tony’s mother (we already knew this) and she runs a cathouse in Nevada. Again, in this instance, it is a brothel and not a cat sanctuary as I also thought when a cathouse was mentioned in Raw Power.
John Morgan and Brandon arrive home to find guns drawn on them immediately.
“These must be the guys the radio was talking about”, Brandon whines.
“Shut up”, replies Lynch, cleverly.
“You shut up”, says the defiant little bastard, and as Lynch goes to smack him one, John steps in and punches Lynch to the floor. When the rest of the gang remember they have guns, they put a stop to this rebellion with some threats on the family’s lives. Tony wants John to go and get Dr Fuji, who Jennie suddenly introduces to the film, while he holds the women and Brandon hostage.
“Now move before your head goes flying off your neck”, which I think is a gun related threat.
The next scene is so painful and difficult to watch, you all owe me one for watching it more than once and write this dialogue down. I’ve never seen Big Jim Brown look so ill at ease as now at the ‘cathouse’ and be subjected to the following atrocities as women approach him one by one:
“Hi, I’ve got Champagne. Everything inside me bubbles”.
“Hi, I have soft drinks. Everything about me is soft”.
“Hi, I’ve got the hard stuff because I love it hard”.
Lt. Sunset ignores each one until this…..
“Honey! They say I’m backward cos I like it in the back”.
“Yes. I know.” He replies. Deadpan. No expression.
“Have something from me. Anything”.
Finally, he asks for just ‘a drink’ and we’re done. He finds out Tony’s mother has already left town which renders the whole scene even more pointless.
“Thank you”, he says for the information, and then to the girl who has been all over him for a minute or 2, “And thank you for your tongue in my ear. I enjoyed it very much”, which seems to be untrue as he appeared to be heavily sedated throughout the entire scene. I wish I had been.
Dr Fuji has been picked up by John Morgan, or at least I think it is Dr Fuji as it appears to be a middle-aged Mexican man and played by Joselito Rescober. There’s a pointless car chase now where a Cop gets tangled up in his own radio when trying to get in his car and then reports the very vague message of, “This is 621, I’m following a suspect.”, back to HQ.
Anyway, Morgan gets home with ‘Dr Fuji’, and he goes upstairs to get on with his work. After a brief scene with a Detective with his leg up on a chair chatting to Lt. Sunset who has another Detective standing too close, just staring at him, they mention the motel and such and we are back to the house where ‘Dr Fuji’ has removed the bullet and has decided he will now leave.
John Morgan tries to placate Tony by offering him his own money to just leave but it ends in another fight with Morgan throat chopping Tony until hit in the back of the head by Lynch who wants to kill Morgan with a,
“No Lynch, not now…. Slow and painful….”, Tony says in a pained voice which is so unusual, I wondered if Diamond had actually caught Z’Dar in the throat by accident.
Lt. Sunset eats watermelon in such a nonchalant way, it needs to be seen. His wife, or daughter, is very angry that her watermelon has been interrupted by the phone ringing and she stays furious for her brief appearance. Reports of the Dr not returning home is what the call is about and Lt Sunset gives us a WWE Ron Simmons/Farooq style, “DAMN!” for our pains.
We discover that Loony’s name is Charles, that Tony intends to sleep for 4 hours and then it is his turn. ‘Dr Fuji’ gave Morgan some pills which will keep him out for a few hours, Jennie and ‘Fuji’ are taking care of Brandon and Morgan’s wife is taking a bath, so all is okay.
Of course it’s not all okay, Lynch just heard the bit about Morgan’s wife and practically licked his pervy lips. He slithers upstairs while we see her lathering up in the bath. There is a fucking massive bottle of something by the bath which distracted me through this whole revolting scene. Lynch is slowly preparing for foul rape while she is unaware he is even in the room. Morgan himself is unconscious in the next room while Lynch rapes his wife. I’ve cut that mercifully short as Lynch really is a slimeball bastard throughout. Loony takes the gun, as it is all wet, and is back to keeping watch. ‘Dr Fuji’ has fallen asleep, and Brandon is up and about. Loony falls asleep in a longer than necessary scene of him doing so and Brandon takes his gun from him and gives it to his Mom before the whole gang burst in and take it off her again. For some reason, somebody’s Cousin Angelo is called and is coming out to help Tony do something or other.
The Cops are staking out the Motel where Morgan is to go and meet up with Tony’s mother for the money handover. For no reason, the Motel has some crazy negative lighting but I think that was an error and they just left it in.
Another thing they just left in is John Morgan deciding to arouse no suspicion at all by having his long hair loose, baggy trousers, a muscle vest and a snakeskin jacket with the sleeves rolled up. He is given a big empty suitcase for the money, a key on a chain which he must hand over and the pass phrase, ‘I’ll see you in Paradise”. Off he goes and nothing can possibly go wrong.
‘Dr Fuji’ asks to make a phone call as his wife will be worried he has been out overnight. When this request is refused with, “Worried? She’ll be too busy making breakfast for last night’s lover” and outrageous laughter, the good Dr slaps Tony across his massive face. This huge misjudgement results with him being called a ‘SONOFABITCH’ and then being slapped 6 times across his own face. He refuses to apologise though, even when he is threatened with a gun in his face.
John arrives at the Motel and parks a ridiculously long way away from where he needs to be and runs up there instead (this happens all the time in movies. ALL THE TME!). He is, naturally, observed by the Cops who poke their heads around the corner like a B&W comedy and nod to each other. Morgan has another fight with an undercover Detective who is rubbish at being undercover and then heads to room 804 where he will ‘See you in Paradise’. He tells Stone’s mother to give him the money and get the Hell out of there, causing a decoy so he can get the cash back to her boys. He also keeps the key on a chain in case she’s searched. She dutifully leaves and is followed by some of the Cops while more Cops actually stay to follow the less than sneaky long haired stupidly clothed guy who ran up there earlier and beat one of them up.
Who’d have thought it? What a shit plan.
Morgan beats them up as well and heads back home where he hides the cash in some hay near his stables. He sees the body of Jose as well which Lynch clearly did not bury under a haystack as he was equally clearly instructed to do. He then meets Fernando (Jose’s son) for the first time who has apparently just arrived in America with his mother – talk about bad timing! Morgan tells him to go home and before he makes it off screen, Fernando gives us a big old grin. Morgan sneaks around the area that even rich people seem to have to hide all their shit and throws a gun up onto the roof before returning in his car to the house for phase whatever of his plan. He tells them there is no money as she wasn’t there which they believe only when he shows them he still has the key on a chain. Not as totally fool proof as it seemed, this plan. In the following argument, it transpires that she is only Tony’s stepmother which finally explains why he and Jesse look nothing alike. Not important, I just like to give closure.
Using the distraction of the argument, John tells Brandon to go up on the roof and get the gun while ‘Dr Fuji’ is just sneaking about the place. Tony suddenly realises that all of his hostages have left the room and sends Loony to go see what’s going on. He is distracted by sexy Auntie Jennie who pretends she wants a piece of Loony length until ‘Dr Fuji’ intervenes and Loony gets angry.
Brandon clearly cannot reach the gun until he somehow just does. Fortunately, Morgan arrives and shoots Loony before anyone else is hurt. Loony dies with a great shout of, “TOONNNNNNNNYYY!!!!”, and this, more than the gunshot alerts the gang to the shambles of upstairs. He gets another bullet to the gut as Morgan and his wife look traumatised by it while little fucker Brandon seems to be enjoying the whole thing. ‘Dr Fuji’ wants a gun though he doesn’t know how to use one. He wants to kill them, ‘Japanese style’. John replies that he will kill them, ‘American Style’, which I think is also with a gun so there’s no real difference in these styles.
There’s lots of shooting at nothing now as John shoots downstairs as Tony hides and then Tony replies by shooting upstairs while John hides. ‘Fuji’ spots Lynch climbing up onto the balcony and John shoots him back down to the ground in a dramatic fall. Tony and Jesse make a break for it as Cousin Angelo turns up in a car full of mullets.
Oddly, the gates of John Morgan’s house have the monogrammed initials of J.R. on them (maybe the house of the ridiculous looking dad from the kickboxing class?). John gives chase. Morgan’s wife, who I am assuming is called Doris from IMDB, has a shotgun and she goes out to see Lynch who remains alive but wounded. Doris soon sorts this out by blasting him in the dick with the shotgun.
Lynch, dutifully dies.
Cousin Angelo and his men are simply there to add more deaths to the count and there is a big gunfight involving the obligatory barrels blowing up and men being on fire.
“You sonofabitch, I’ll kill you with my own hands”, says Cousin Angelo to John before he doesn’t do that at all and is shot dead.
Fernando is still wandering about even though he was expressly told to go home earlier by John. He is naturally taken hostage by Tony and Jesse who now just want the keys to the car so they can get out of there. Morgan gets the jump on them and shoots Jesse dead before Lt. Sunset and his inept team of Detectives finally arrive with some uniformed officers. After John nearly slips over, there’s a ‘settle this like men’ fight between him and Tony which includes showing us the same footage 3 times, a low blow that doesn’t affect John in any way and some crazy, multi kicks to Tony’s face before he grabs a gun and is instantly shot in quick succession by both Lt. Sunset and John.
A fly immediately lands on Tony’s face which he does well to persevere.
“C’mon, lets clear this mess up, Tim”, says Lt. Sunset and then walks in the opposite direction showing us that Tim is clearing that mess up strictly solo.
“I wanna thank you for everything you’ve done”, says John, shaking the hand of Lt. Sunset, ignoring the fact that Lt. Sunset and his men did pretty much nothing whatsoever at all to assist John throughout the entire film and, again, the Lieutenant just walks off.
Somehow, Jose’s family are sitting on a bale of hay, wife crying and holding a baby daughter while Fernando goes to watch the Paramedics load his father’s corpse into the Ambulance. After some emotional blackmail around ‘How can she support us now that Daddy is dead’, and a suspect hand on her leg from John, he goes and gets the money.
“Your Papa had me hold this money for him. It belongs to you now”.
What my Papa asked you to hide a bag of cash behind a haystack?
These are questions that never get asked and the film ends immediately.
Would the Police not still be looking for the cash stolen in the initial robbery?
Has John just put Fernando and his family in more danger should anyone else come looking for the cash?
What if Tony/Jesse’s mother comes back to find it?
What if there was any resolution at all?
There isn’t. The End.
While not as funny and overall inept as Samurai Cop, this does give us hints of the wonders that film holds. Lots of unnecessary dialogue, scenes and even characters which add nothing of value to the rather threadbare plot. Pretty much a Home Invasion film but, had they just broken in and killed them all once ‘Fuji’ had patched Jesse up, they would have been fine and gotten clean away.
Definitely going to check out the rest of Amir Shervan’s films.
The kickboxing class dad (played by J.R.)
Lt. Sunset eating watermelon like he couldn’t give a shit.
Lt. Sunset: “DAMN!”
Lynch being shot in the dick