Angel Town (1990)

There’s a lot of stuff in Angel Town (directed by Eric Karson of Black Eagle fame) that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Olivier Gruner‘s presence at Southern California University is good for about two scenes and nothing else. There’s some talk about Gruner training the Olympic team or something. There’s the flashbacks he has to his youth in France where he was treated poorly. And best of all, there’s the scene at the beginning of the movie when Gruner was still in France and a woman screws him in a cemetery! And he still decided to go to America!

In an Olivier Gruner film though, it’s not so much the dead end story elements that we worry about, it’s the kicking! And there are kicks a plenty in this, Gruner’s debut! While I detailed all the stuff no one in the movie even seemed to care about, there’s only two things we do need to care about!

One is that Gruner (Automatic) is the baddest ass ever to come to Los Angeles from France! And the other is that the baddest ass ever to come to Los Angeles from France has just moved into a neighborhood that’s infested with the most evil gang ever! But not only has he moved into the wrong neighborhood, he also uses his unerring fighting instincts to move into the very house that the gang has targeted for constant harassment!

It’s the house of the family whose husband was killed by the gang leader, Angel, a decade ago! The husband was a folk hero for his battle against the gangs! Even Gruner’s good friend and karate school owner, Henry, knew and worked along side him to defeat the gangs! But once this guy was killed, everyone gave up fighting the gangs, That’s probably what the dead guy would’ve wanted, right?

But the dead guy left a widow, a son, and a grandma! Now, Angel is determined to force the son (Martin) to join his gang, even if it means scaring his grandma into dying of a heart attack and raping his mom!

Yeah, that’s too bad for those gals, but guess who doesn’t have a weak heart and who isn’t about to go hanging around work after hours just waiting to be violated? That’s right! The very same guy who can roll into his graduate level engineering class late and still tell the professor where the error is in the complicated math formula!

What’s great about Gruner in this movie (besides his academic abilities) is that not only was he constantly kicking people and slamming their heads into stuff even after they were obviously unconscious, but was a surly bastard about it all!

Sure, he acted all polite here and there, but he wasn’t above criticizing and complaining to Martin and Henry about what pansies they were. He could also be pretty intense like when he put Henry in a chokehold and explained to Martin that the only reason he didn’t kill Henry right then was because he knew that Henry’s family would stop at nothing to kill him! Gruner did this to illustrate that you have to make sure that the other guy knows that if he messes with you, there’s a price to pay, but Henry was probably praying that nothing ever happened to his family!

Gruner doesn’t really have a lot of time though to threaten his friend’s life because every five minutes or so, he and Angel’s gang have some kind of confrontation.

I don’t know if Gruner was pulling his punches or if the gang members were especially tough, but he had to beat up the same gang members for an hour and a half before he made any progress! When he finally got around to visibly snapping necks and arms, I was thinking, “it’s about time you took the kid gloves off! All these gangbangers understand is getting killed!”

The movie is about 20 minutes too long since there isn’t much of a story beyond the whole “Angel’s gang keeps attacking the house Gruner lives in” plot. Every so often, Gruner will get chased around by some of the gang members, or they’ll cruise over to his school to shoot it up or put a stick of dynamite in his car, but without anything else happening, watching Hispanic dudes in bandanas and flannel yell “vato” again and again can get a little tedious.

And what is the deal with Angel? I guess he’s super bad because he carries around an Uzi. So why didn’t he ever just empty it into Gruner? Instead Angel managed to have one of the most humiliating fates I’ve ever seen happen to a villain.

At the end of the movie Gruner beats him senseless. Then Gruner says that Martin and Angel should go one on one with no interference from anyone. Everyone agrees and Angel ends up getting kicked to death by this teenaged kid! The best part is when Gruner stops the kid saying “you did what you had to do!” I guess so, if what you had to do was kick a guy to death after Gruner softened him up for you!

The movie did have some of those nice brutal touches that we love to see in our kickfighting entertainment. In a great display of one-upmanship, Gruner sneaks into Angel’s bedroom and puts a knife to his throat and threatens him while Angel’s girlfriend inexplicably laughs! Not to be outdone, Angel returns the favor by killing his girlfriend and putting her nasty, bloody body in Gruner’s bedroom!

Gruner though isn’t a champion fighter for nothing because he takes the body and puts it in Angel’s car! Remember, Gruner was just renting that room, but Angel owned the car! You almost start to feel a little bad for Angel when Gruner blows his car up with some dynamite that was meant for Gruner’s boarding house!

Throw in a crippled vet who helps out with his automatic weapon during the final showdown and you’ve got a movie that while overlong, is full of enough Gruner intensity and solid violence to satisfy even the most desensitized of vatos!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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