Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Film Review: KINJITE– FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS (1989, J. Lee Thompson)

Stars: 4.5 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:  Charles Bronson.  Perry Lopez (CHINATOWN, KELLY'S HEROES), Peggy Lipton (TWIN PEAKS, THE MOD SQUAD), Juan Fernández (BULLETPROOF, SALVADOR, CROCODILE DUNDEE II), Sy Richardson (REPO MAN, THEY LIVE, SID & NANCY), James Pax ("Lightning" in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA), Nicole Eggert (BAYWATCH, CHARLES IN CHARGE), Bill McKinney (DELIVERANCE, FIRST BLOOD), and Danny Trejo (DESPERADO, MACHETE).  Executive Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.   Music by Greg De Belles (LAMBADA, LONGTIME COMPANION).  Cinematography by Gideon Porath (DEATH WISH 4, AMERICAN NINJA 2). 
Tag-line: "A cop full of hatred can't work by the book."
Best one-liner:  "I'd like to shove this up your ass, but I don't want to dirty my hands!"


Hey–
 
What the–

Is that a–


Eat your heart out 50 SHADES OF GREY.  This is 50 SHADES OF BRONSON!!!

The ninth out of nine collaborations between Charles Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson, KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS is looked upon by the consensus as ending this colossal cinematic team's output (DEATH WISH 4, MESSENGER OF DEATHMURPHY'S LAW, THE WHITE BUFFALO, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, ST. IVES) with a whimper.  I'm here to tell you that, happily, that's not the case.  (And as a side note, I'm kind of impressed that I've now reviewed 7 of the 9– all except CABO BLANCO and 10 TO MIDNIGHT.)

Listen: whaddya want?  Just tell me what you want, and I'll see if we have it.  Try me.  Come on.  You want–


CHEEZ FRIES IN DA FACE?

...You're next!

You want high-kickin' senior citizens?


You want Bronson complaining about "sucking hind tit?"


You want Bronson and Perry Lopez (Nicholson's friendly nemesis on the police force in CHINATOWN!) actin' like cop buddies and walking past a poster of Cannon's... SALSA?


You want sleazy Sy Richardson with a deadened gaze and a jangly woman's earring?


You want Bronson going to sporting events with his daughter and

being spied on by child-kidnapping kiddie-peddlin' pimps
 
as Bronson simultaneously becomes becomes the new 'crush of the moment' for his daughter's best friend?


He is extreme.  What can I say?  Bronson makes quite an impression.
Anyway, we got all this and more forbidden subjects in KINJITE.  But first let's pin this sucker down.  Is it a Public Service Announcement?  A skin flick?  An after-school special?  A gritty revenge movie?  A sitcom pilot?  A Cannon shoot-'em-up?  Is it about race?  Sex?  Culture clash?
The answer to all of these questions of course is... "Yes."

KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS follows a few disparate plot lines which, for the most part, intersect in the most Cannon Film-ish ways possible.  One is the tale of a visiting Japanese businessman played by BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA's "Lightning," James Pax.
 
 He has two daughters who comment on psycho-sexual cultural divides between Japan and America.

And because he saw somebody get away with it on the subway back in Japan, he decides to try some L.A. bus groping on a gal singing the campfire classic, "P is for Party."




Of course, she turns out to be Bronson's daughter:


Now, before you cry "laughable Japan-sploitation" (which you certainly ought to, at some points), I'd like to submit the idea that Pax delivers the most nuanced, ever-'present' performance in the film.  He is fantastic, at points exuding genuine pathos and vulnerability.  He's kind of too good for this movie, if you catch my meaning.

The next plotline is about those kiddie-peddlin' pimps I alluded to earlier.  They're played by Juan "BULLETPROOF" Fernández and Alex Cox-fixture and cult movie legend, Sy Richardson.  Mostly, they drive around by the bus station, trying to pick up wet-behind-the-ears youngsters


for their booming prostitution ring.  Leave it to Cannon films to tackle teenage hustling and the sex trade with the sheer poetry of "rich asshole bandits."  Also: note denim backpack.

Anyway, these two lowlifes eventually kidnap one of Pax's visiting daughters in a scene which veers wildly back and forth between "genuinely disturbing" and "unintentionally hilarious after-school special" but eventually dips into "coke-and-asscrack-fueled softcore music video" territory.  I'd also like to give special nod to Fernández as "Duke", whose ludicrously hateable pimp-napper reaches fey and comic heights, even for a Cannon film.


This leads us to our main plotline:  BRONSON.  Bronson is a multi-dimensional character.  On the one hand, he's racist toward Asian peoples

even as far west as India (!):

but on the other hand, he's just a beleaguered dad

trying to raise a daughter (along with TWIN PEAKS' Peggy Lipton!) in an increasingly complicated world:

the poor guy even has to contend with studs hangin' out in his basement:

on the other other hand, however, Bronson hates something even more than bus-gropin' Asians and daughter-romancin' studs:  PIMPS!


See, we've come full circle.


...BABIES!

It becomes about justice.  It's the only thing Bronson cares about.  I guess that's the only thing that he usually cares about, but here, in his last Cannon hurrah he's prepared to go to extreme lengths to puncture the truth and to penetrate justice.  As to what I'm alluding to, I can show you better than tell you:

For those of you too scared (or scarred!) to finish the clip and for those whose jaws need to be scraped up from the floor with a spatula, that was indeed footage of Bronson seeking revenge against a teen prostitute's john while wielding a dildo and menacingly approaching said john's posterior.

But I think the icing on the cake is truly the fade from the john's screams to Bronson arriving home to the missus and casually announcing, "I don't think I'm going to be able to eat tonight."



And by no means is this the only time that justice involves the jamming of sharp objects into unwilling orifices:

Yes, when Bronson catches up with Fernández's pimp for the first time, he takes the man's expensive wristwatch and, er, well, just see for yourself, in a clip that I have aptly named "Charles Bronson feeds a man a wristwatch faster than he can eat it."

And note that he doesn't "want to dirty my hands," implying that he learned a harsh n' grimy lesson the last time around.

Later, the pursuit of justice involves intimidating a doorman– BY FLINGING A STATUE THROUGH HIS GLASS BOOTH:





and by accidentally (!) flinging Sy Richardson to his death (well, he did kinda deserve it)
which combines Bronson's take-no-prisoners brand of justice with the classic Bronson trope of dummies being flung from great heights.

Regardless, this is all simply a prelude to the veritable orgy of ass-blasting retribution accomplished by Bronson at the hind-end of the film.
Having captured Fernández's pimp for a second time, he dumps him in a federal prison, whereupon he is paraded by gleeful prison guards and run along a gauntlet of possibly the most one-dimensional, hilariously over-the-top prison rapists ever committed to celluloid in a Cannon film or otherwise (including Danny Trejo
who incidentally has "something big and long for you, sweet thing") as Bronson watches with wide-eyed, innocent, old man pleasure, wearing an expression that would certainly befit a grandpa at a pee-wee football game:
You can watch the whole gritty exchange right here and give it the standing ovation that it deserves in the privacy of your own home.

As to those who consider this one of Bronson's worst?  I don't know what to say to you.  I feel as if you don't truly appreciate Bronson's art.   Bronson's sincerity.  Or maybe your buttocks were so tightly and fearfully clenched throughout  that you simply didn't appreciate all the wonderful, spit-take inducing moments and subtle cheez-whiz majesties that awaited you.  A truly astonishing, anally-fixated trashterpiece.  Four-and-a-half-stars.  Just stick 'em wherever.


-Sean Gill

16 comments:

Henry Swanson's Glasses said...

50 Shades of...Bronson!? The world, and wound-up housewives everywhere, would implode from that severe dosage of, dare I say, Mandom!

Anyway, I'm right there with you about Kinjite - this is pretty foreign territory for Bronson, but I sort of question supposed Bronson fans who reject the film. As you say, the sheer sincerity of Bronson is pretty damn strong here, and it culminates into his most underrated and overlooked film IMO.

PS - I've always noticed the absense of a 10 To Midnight review from you. If I could, I would highly recommed it if you have not yet indulged, as it is a very similar animal to this film, albeit less bizzare in Thompson's execution. As in, 100% less dildo attacks via Bronson.

J.D. said...

Y'know, I've never given this film the time of day but your review has certainly piqued my curiosity. Bronson and Cannon is quite a formidable duo to be sure and you throw into the mix kidnapping pimps and Danny Trejo, well, that sounds like a pretty impressive mix right there!

Bring on future Bronson/Cannon collabos!

Sean Gill said...

Henry Swanson,

Ha!– may Mandom and furry handcuffs sweep the nation! Also, I actually haven't seen 10 TO MIDNIGHT– it is indeed a glaring omission in my Cannon Bronson canon. I've actually got the disc at home and am planning on watching it soon, though I'm slightly upset about the lack of Bronson-dildo-attack.

J.D.,
Yeah, I'd heard it often derided as a Bronson film not worth one's time– but if you dig DEATH WISH III and MURPHY'S LAW and the like, I see no reason for disliking this. MESSENGER OF DEATH is, for me, the dullest Cannon/Bronson collaboration, and even it has some nice moments. I still have a two left to go, the aforementioned 10 TO MIDNIGHT and ASSASSINATION.

Mike B. said...

Oh man, I've been trying to get hold of a copy of "Kinjite" for a while now, as it always looked to me like the pinnacle of what I like to call "Golbronsolobusitude." To make a short story long, I'm a librarian (and a bit of a miser), so I usually hold out until I can borrow a copy from somewhere (I am a master of the art of the interlibrary loan), but this one has been so elusive that I might break down and buy it. It certainly looks worth it! I also agree with Henry Swanson's Glasses about "10 to Midnight," which marries the Cannon-Bronson film with the 80s slasher film; it's pretty spectacular, and goes to some genuinely creepy, out-there places. And, although there's not a Bronson dildo attack per se, he does in fact wield a different type of, ahem, marital aid while interrogating a suspect in the interview room, and he's pretty darned intimidating with it! When watching a Cannon-Bronson film, you truly never know what's coming next!

Sean Gill said...

Mike,
I mean it's not quite a DEATH WISH 3, but I'd probably put it on par with MURPHY'S LAW in terms of Golbronsolobusitude. I'm a big fan of the interlibrary loan myself, but I'm not sure I'd hold out for a reputable institution ordering a copy. I will be doin' 10 TO MIDNIGHT in the near future, your cryptic comments have stoked my interest even further!

Nick J said...

Just finished watching this on late night TV, and agree, it's impossible not to enjoy Bronson in this. One of the deepest of the films Bronson did for Cannon, and an odd mesh of action and sleaze. Juan Fernandez makes for a great villain, and It was fun to see Bronson partnered with prior "Death Wish 4" villain Ed Zacharius (Perry Lopez). Fernandez gets his just desserts, and the only thing I didn't like was the fact that.....

*Spoiler*







Perry Lopez gets killed in the final action sequence. I knew it was coming when he talked about his plans for retirement but I was hopeful he'd somehow manage to survive because I liked the character and Lopez' portrayal.

Anonymous said...
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Sean Gill said...

Nick,

Thanks for stopping by– yeah, it's that odd mesh of action and sleaze that really takes this film to that higher level of 80s bizarre-itude.

And agreed re: Lopez- a fine character actor who can build some nice emotional stakes even in a bit part in a Cannon film.

Jack Thursby said...

Sean - just picked up my Charles Bronson Boxset last night and put in 10 to Midnight.

Halfway through I stopped it (it's some good classic Thompson/Bronson action) and hopped on Junta Juliel to read your inevitably hilarious take down.

Very disappointed to find you haven't posted a review. Please sort this quickly!

Sean Gill said...

Jack,

10 TO MIDNIGHT's definitely been on the "to review" list for a while now; only one of two J. Lee Thompson/Bronson collaborations I haven't tackled. I think I'll get around to it pretty soon!

balthazar_bee@hotmail.com said...

Hey Sean,

Love the site. My brothers and I were thrilled to see that there's at least one person out there who understands the genius of the Cannon...canon.

Anyway, it looks like Kinjite and Messenger of Death will be getting blu-ray releases this year courtesy of Olive Films. And I think 10 to Midnight and The Mechanic are slated for releases from Twilight Time.

Gotta say, I never thought it'd happen -- not to mention the fact that the Ninja trilogy has been released as well.

Keep up the great work!

Sean Gill said...

Balthazar,

Thanks for the kind words! That's spectacular that even these relatively obscure Bronsons are making the transition to Blu-ray; I thought I'd seen it all when I picked up NINJA III. Glad you and your brothers are keeping the Cannon canon alive.

Allan MacInnis said...

There IS a significant sex toy in the film, though....

Allan MacInnis said...

Aha, someone else mentions the 10 to Midnight toy. And what is it for, you ask? (Everyone shout in unison with Bronson...)

Allan MacInnis said...

Very entertaining review of a very entertaining film!

Sean Gill said...

Allan,

Thank you, sir!