There’s a movie about a Priest with dinosaur powers fighting ninjas and it’s everything that description would promise… and more.
I’m sorry, did you need more than a PRIEST with DINOSAUR POWERS fighting NINJAS?
Look, here’s the trailer.
You’re welcome. You’re. Welcome.
For those of you who can’t watch it now, here’s the gist:
Doug Jones (Greg Cohan) is a Priest whose parents are killed by a car bomb. To deal with the hit to his faith, he heads to China, where he finds a relic that causes him to turn into a dinosaur when he’s really angry or hungry. After returning to America, he saves a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), who convinces him to use his powers to kill evil people. It turns out that some of those people are ninjas. Also, Aurelio Voltaire is in it and I’m told that means something.
This movie does not pretend to be anything other than cheap and ridiculous, but that acceptance allows this movie to be amazing. Much like Evil Toons, a film I consider to be the greatest C-Movie of all time, this movie establishes about 3 seconds in that any attempts to take any part of this seriously will be punished. This movie is fun, nothing more. There’s no secret depths to plunder, just pure nonsensical enjoyment. That’s why rather than trying to establish any credibility, the film starts with this message:
Despite that warning and despite the fact that most films like this contain a ton of gratuitous exploitation, this film is actually pretty tame. I don’t think there was any nudity and the sex scenes are depicted more for comedy than for any titillation. The violence is extremely cartoonish, to the point that sometimes the film goes out of the way to show that the people involved were not hurt in the process. So, if that’s what you want in your so-bad-they’re-awesome movies, I’m sorry to let you down, but if you just like nonsensical comedy, this is your place.
The plot of this movie is essentially constantly in flux, with montages taking up the traditional hero’s journey about halfway through the film, leaving us with a completely different arc for the second half. That’s the half that involves Chinese ninjas, something that someone in my viewing group, let’s call him “AndTheArgonauts,” wouldn’t stop yelling about. He should know that Japan doesn’t own all the ninjas, something that Revenge of the Ninja already taught my readers. Granted, the plot is not just ridiculous, but revels in being absurd. Despite that, at no point do characters ever question how insane the things happening are, which encourages the audience to just accept that this is the nature of the reality we are witnessing. For example, the main character apparently drives to China from the US at one point, with nothing indicating any intervening mode of transportation. However, it makes for a pretty awesome title sequence, so no one should question it.
In an attempt to supplement the mostly non-existent plot, the film takes a lot of pleasure in playing up ridiculous film tropes, particularly flashbacks. There are at least a half-dozen flashbacks in this film, most of which are either ridiculous, intentionally hackneyed, or irrelevant to anything that’s going on. At one point, we watch a henchman flashback from the outside and it’s hilarious. Hell, there’s a Vietnam flashback, something that adds even more questions that the film clearly never intended to answer.
The film’s budget was supposedly around $35,000, an amount that somehow is not only less than the cost of the Blair Witch Project, but, perhaps more disturbingly, less than the cost of the Bare Wench Project, the Skinemax parody of the former. That’s right, this movie cost less than a 3AM softcore special. Because of that, special effects are pretty sparse, but their absence is usually covered by a humorous distraction or a fourth-wall break, including this bit of absolute cost-cutting genius:
And yes, you get to see the Velocipastor repeatedly throughout the film, and yes, it looks as hilarious as you would hope, but I’ll only give you a peek here.
The acting and the cinematography are much better than you’d expect from an amateur film, but still not mainstream quality. I will say that Alyssa Kempinski might actually have a future as an actress, though it might just be that she stands out above the other competition here. At times it’s hard to tell who is a bad actor and who is just good at playing a bad actor, so things get a little confusing. Since the movie isn’t meant to be serious, the odd scripting and mediocre acting work perfectly within the film.
However, there is one aspect of the film that it does take completely seriously: The soundtrack. The filmmakers go to great lengths to make sure that scenes last long enough for all of the songs to be played in their totality, leading me to believe that they probably were only granted permission to use them on that condition. Still, the music to this film is actually pretty awesome and doesn’t really get undercut by a joke at any point, and that actually helps with the feeling of the movie as having logic more akin to a music video than a traditional narrative.
Overall, this movie was actually really fun. I genuinely enjoyed it. You can buy it on Amazon Prime for like $8 and I promise it’s worth the money.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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