NYAFF 2010: L.A. STREETFIGHTERS Review
[Our thanks to Mark Popham for the following review.]
When NYAFF organizer Grady Hendrix took to the front of a theater in a cutoff baseball tee and asked the assembled audience if they had ever counted bananas last Saturday night, he wasn't just drunk- he was also introducing an amazing slice of early '80s Tae Kwan Doe-sploitation, Richard Park's L.A. STREETFIGHTERS a.k.a. NINJA TURF. Apparently one in a long line of Park films where bizarre, semi-coherent plots include scenes of people counting bananas, L.A. STREETFIGHTERS is one of those B (or C or D) movies that actually transcend the whole "so bad it's good" attribute. What you are watching on screen is nothing less than outsider art, a collective hallucination produced not by one or two auteurs but by a sizable number of people, apparently none of whom ever realized how weird this damn movie is.
The plot isn't that bizarre at least- new kid in high school Tony (Phil Ree) befriends grizzled teen gang leader Young (a 41- 41!- year old Jun Chong) and they're soon working security and whooping ass through a large swath of comical ethnic gangs. But when Young steals a suitcase of dirty money from a drug kingpin, the entire gang is in trouble.
See? It's not too nonsensical, and at times you'll be almost convinced that you're watching a reasonable facsimile of an actual movie. But then you'll watch a couple of kids menace a liquor store owner with a didgeridoo, or watch Young give a banana to some random naked guy showering outside his house, or view the silent pajama'd majesty of the actor nicknamed "Chinese Orson Welles". I'd say that this would be a perfect drinking game movie except none of the high weirdness of the film comes from repetition- something bizarre will happen and the movie will then gallop off to something else equally bizarre. The best L.A. STREETFIGHTERS drinking game might simply be "DRINK".
Although L.A. STREETFIGHTER is best seen in the company of inebriated cinéastes, it's now available on Netflix and Netflix On Demand. You really have no excuse.
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