Arizona Road (1991)

Fabrizio De Angelis takes a break from making Karate Warrior movies to terrorize the undoubtedly flummoxed residents of Arizona yet again with a tale of a whiskey-soaked gold prospector, a wayward nun, and a dues-paying Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Fabrizio previously tore Arizona a new one with three spectacularly destructive Thunder movies starring Mark Gregory. That trilogy dramatized the late 1980s social issue of pretty Italian boys with big lips pretending to be Indians who are harassed by stereotypically narrow-mind small town cops. Among the highlights was Gregory rumbling through town on a piece of construction equipment destroying his own personal Death Star, the local police station!

De Angelis knew that if he wanted us Thunder fans to take Sabato’s pretty Italian boy with big lips pretending to be a Hispanic seriously, he would need to need to be at least as batshit crazy as Thunder was! One hijacked school bus and a demolished wall later, we had our answer!

With Arizona Road, it’s clear that De Angelis isn’t trying to hit the home run the Thunder movies were or the grand slam that he and Sabato’s other team up, the unforgettable kick in the nuts and head, Karate Rock was. It’s like he was trying to bunt his way onto first base what with Arizona Road‘s emphasis on the crazy coot miner straight out of an average Scooby-Doo episode and talk of deeds and recording claims.

But then at the last second, he pulls the bat back and swings away, putting one deep over the centerfield wall as soon as Sabato puts on the Urban Cowboy gear to go out for a night of boot scooting at the local saloon!

With the most glorious red and white checked cowboy shirt and big cowboy hat perched unnaturally over Sabato’s impossibly oiled up hair, I laughed at myself for ever thinking that Thunder’s Jheri curl was anything other than a greasy mop!

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Sabato’s Emiliano is a pilot who left town years ago and has now returned to stud the hell out of the place with his own plane, preference for cussing, and ability to win and lose backroom bar boxing matches at will, depending on whether he wants to help some local kids get some cash!

Before he left town so long ago though, he was just a simple (but still obviously studly) delivery boy who saved the nun Aurora from being kidnapped by the town’s most powerful man, MacDonaldson. And while some things have changed (Aurora is now a slut), MacDonaldson still harbors a grudge and is just waiting for the opportunity to have the lard ass sheriff on his payroll do something about it!

Do you know what else Emiliano did before he came back to town? Gave a bunch of money to Morris the Miner for a mine!

Since Emiliano probably assumed the soused old bastard was just going to drink it all away, he is understandably surprised that he not only is part owner in an actual mine, but that old Morris found honest to goodness gold in it!

And we all know what that means! Old Morris is going to have his head slammed repeatedly into a wall until his Jack Daniels-scented brains are sliding down the side of it and Emiliano is framed for the murder and sent to the hoosegow!

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Once he’s locked up, MacDonaldson mentions to the sheriff that all those cans of gasoline lined up alongside the jail could be a real fire hazard if they somehow got ignited. Why, if the jail somehow burned down, they’d probably have to build a brand new one with all the modern conveniences. You know, like some place to store all your topped-off gasoline cans so that they don’t burn the whole frigging place down!

MacDonaldson’s fire safety concerns prove to be eerily prophetic because about five minutes later the whole place is ablaze and Emiliano is trapped inside!

One thing I love about revenge is its single-mindedness. Letting it eat you up is a good way to maintain focus. For instance, once a fireman breaks into the jail to rescue Emiliano, most of us in that situation would be gasping for breath, hanging all over the guy, thankful to get out just before being burned alive!

Emiliano? Beats the piss out of the fireman, steals a shotgun, and escapes out the back!

You might say it was a little silly that he was somehow able to escape a fifty alarm fire by running out a side exit, but he escapes a shootout with 100 cops that have surrounded his cabin by crawling out underneath it and running off into the night, so clearly his pilot and mining experience have trained him for just such situations.

Perhaps recognizing that without the sheer quantity of destruction featured in his Thunder films, De Angelis knows he needs to beef up the acting part of things. And he does! By delivering us the patented and always welcome David Warbeck cameo!

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Warbeck (Ark Of The Sun God, Mean Tricks) leant a welcome air of professionalism to other De Angelis projects such as Karate Rock and Karate Warrior 6. Here, he plays the deus ex machina FBI agent who extricates Emiliano from all his trouble.

Warbeck is in maybe three scenes and doesn’t even first appear until almost an hour into things, but he’s decked out in western wear and pretending to be a preacher, so it’s clear the wait is worth it!

The ending is pure De Angelis genius as well! Warbeck announces the evil sheriff is under arrest and that Emiliano is cleared of all charges and Emiliano meets up with MacDonaldson one final time in a spectacular display of misplaced destruction!

Instead of sneaking through a window or back door to get to MacDonaldson, Emiliano does the next best thing and simply jumps through a skylight! Broken ankles be damned, he’s on a mission of sweet, sweet vengeance!

And what a vengeance it is that he wreaks! Against MacDonaldson’s vase! After shooting the vase and pointing the shotgun at MacDonalson, Emiliano leaves and he and Aurora go flying over beautiful Monument Valley. Their love and freedom and perhaps the entire film itself, symbolically represented by the empty whiskey bottle she chucks out of the plane into the pristine wilderness below.

© 2015 MonsterHunter

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