|Omega Cop II
Omega Cop II: The Challenge
Year of Release:
Country of Origin:
By Nathan Decker
What happens when unchecked ego and the need to pay your mortgage join hands and rush headlong over a cliff? You get the "long awaited" sequel to the "action blockbuster" Omega Cop from 1990, starring Ron Marchini as a future cop on a mission of vengeance and survival, or at least on a mission to get enough SAG credits to keep his cheap health insurance.
1991's Karate Cop, showcases karate expert Ron Marchini in the title role. Marchini, who was pushing 46 years-old while filming this movie, though doesn‘t look a day over 45, is an accomplished martial arts champion, and wannabe action film star. He's here reprising the same John Travis role from 1990's Omega Cop.
He also bankrolled, co-directed, produced and wrote Karate Cop, and choreographed all the fights himself. So, basically, this was an ego piece for him, and we can look no further for someone to heap insult and blame on for this travesty. Travolta had his with Battlefield Earth, Costner his with Waterworld, so Marchini can have Karate Cop engraved on the prow of his boat across the River Styx to hell.
Ok, what we have here is your typical post-apocalyptic societal collapse, this one brought about by unknown factors, but probably an environmental holocaust due to over-pollution and over-population. There's zero evidence of any sort of nuclear war or comet strike or anything that drastic, just Al Gore being proved right. The area our movie is set in is never explicitly said, though it was filmed in the Stockton, California area (the same as the first film) and there's absolutely nothing in the film that would negate the idea that the actual setting is northern California.
Following the collapse of western civilization (hey, it had to happen sometime), all law and order disappeared, leaving the streets to the criminals and scumballs. In the Stockton area, these are collectively called “scavs”, short for “scavengers”, of course. The scavs of Stockton are beholden to a powerful drug lord named Lincoln, who has his own private army and fortified compound. The scavs seem to be dependent on Lincoln for everything from drugs to food, and as such do the dirty work of protecting his outlying turf and collecting booty and loot for him.
Now, I read that principal photography for this film took just 17 days. That I can believe (actually I would have guessed more like 10 days) considering the unpolished script and the generally hurried look to almost every scene. I can't image that there were many second takes for most shots, regardless of the quality. Extras, props and permits all take money, and Marchini clearly didn't want to waste a dollar. So, to that end, I will write this review with the 17 day shooting schedule in mind.
And on to our show...
The two girls are from a compound nearby and are apparently (though it's not clear) out at night on a foraging expedition when they are seen and chased by the scavs. One of the girls is Rachel, who I will detail later, and the other is Mica. Mica is a big boned blonde Scandinavian woman played by first-timer Vibbe Haugaard.
While Rachel runs ahead, Mica drops back to delay the scavs, what is certainly a suicidal move but one that shows both Mica's courage and the value to the compound that Mica places upon Rachel escaping unhurt. Swinging a length of chain, Mica gives a good account of herself for a few minutes, but the scavs' numbers are too great and she takes a knife in the back and is pounded down.
Rachel crawls up on a pair of black leather boots, filled with smelly feet, attached to the sinewy muscled legs of our film's hero, John Travis (Ron Marchini). "Help me." Rachel mutters before passing out (from exhaustion maybe?).
And now we have our first set-piece fight between Travis and these handful of thugs. In typical movie fashion, the thugs take turns attacking Travis, instead of ganging up on him to use their numbers advantage. Travis smacks them all real good, though the frequent editing cuts and pointless close-ups of Marchini’s feet and fists do little to improve the action. Surprisingly (very much so), they had two cameras for this shoot, as different angles of the same hits are spliced in frequently. That they could afford two union camera crews for this movie is amazing, and probably sucked up half the budget. And where you have union camera guys, you have to have craft services tables, and those donuts and ham sandwiches don’t come cheap. I wonder if Marchini dipped into his own pockets for this film?
Anyway, quickly moving indoors with one of the cameras, the actress playing Rachel strips down to her panties and gets in a sleeping bag as Marchini busies himself with a can of beans or something.
It's now the next morning, and we're to believe that Rachel slept all night under the watchful eye of Travis. She's naked because he had to wash her clothes because of the "acid rain". But it's ok, because he "didn't look". Rachel dresses herself from the pile of clothes next to her and casts suspicious gazes on Travis.
Rachel is played by twentysomething Carrie Chambers, whose sole claim to even marginal fame seems to rest entirely between the golden mounds of a mammoth set of breasts. She has extremely limited acting skills, virtually zero screen presence, and runs like an ungainly duck, but she does have a mind-mumbingly perfect pair of boobs, which this movie takes great pains to show us in a variety of bouncy, nipply ways. I'm not saying that Carrie Chambers doesn't belong on film, but it's clear why she's here.
They are headed for Rachel's compound, which is "not far". But nothing is going to be easy in this movie, and they are soon boxed in by a large group of scavs, who advance with clubs and knives from all directions. Grabbing little more than his cut-off double-barrel shotgun and the girl, Travis jumps out of the car and dashes down a side alley, pursued by the mob.
Eventually cornered, they are confronted by this mob's "leader", a big dude named Snaker. Snaker is played by Michael Bristow, who was also "Raccoon Face" in Omega Cop. His character is a twitchy, jerking, insanely over-the-top crack addict with Tourette's Syndrome and ADD. His face has been made up to look like he's just come from an audition for a community college performance of Cats (which might be the case) and he wears tight black spandex pants and carries a bullwhip (!) and a revolver (which might be the same as used in the Dad scene below).
Snaker fancies himself a fighter (and he better be if he's going to keep the leadership post of this unruly mob) but he's met his match with Travis. After a quick thumping that leaves Snaker wallowing in the dirt in pain, Travis and Rachel hotfoot it out of there, with the mob in chase again.
They make it to a ten-foot high chainlink fence, supposedly surrounding Rachel's compound. Rachel whips out a remote control (!) and turns off the electricity (!) so they can pass through, and then turns it back on (!). What? Where do they get their electricity from? Electric fences take a lot of juice (as do teleporters later) and in this post-apocalyptic setting, with all society in tatters, I'd be amazed if they were still able to pay their utility bill on time. Pacific Gas & Electric would have surely turned off their account by now. But, who knows, maybe in this horrific hell of roving gangs and rampant disease, perhaps the monopolistic California energy companies still exist. Perhaps they have become the "new government", holding together the shattered fragments of civilization while still overcharging for electricity (I'm bitter, I lived in California for 18 years and had to pay those frickin' PGE bills every month, where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?).
The set for the compound appears to be a garage, surely rented by the film crew for a few days’ shooting. Some trash is artfully tossed around, and anything intact-looking is moved out of frame to give the impression that this building is abandoned.
These kids live in this compound and are known as "freedom fighters". They are orphans who have been taken in by Rachel as protection from the scavs and the streets. She feeds them, protects them, and gives them hope (though she can't wipe their faces clean or comb their hair, rotten parent). There don't seem to be any other adults here, and we wonder if it was only Rachel and the now deceased Mica caring for them.
There's one older boy about 15 or so named Cal, who actually has a speaking role. Cal is played by Dax Nicholas, who was also the kid who baited Travis in Omega Cop. He’s quite possibly the most awful excuse for an actor ever in the entire history of filmmaking. He must be the director’s son or something.
Ok, now clearly Marchini was a fan of James Axler’s Deathlands series of PA books (which were pretty popular at the time) because Rachel now shows Travis a “teleporter”! This is a matter transfer machine, or a Star Trek transporter if you prefer, that can zip anything from one unit to another instantly. Just going to call it the “Mat-Trans” unit, for the Deathlands fans.
Rachel says that the “military” build a number of these units all around the country to move stuff and people around. In the chaos, however, all but three were destroyed (how does she know this?). Two of the three left are here in the Stockton area and the third is in far away Juneau, Alaska. Rachel’s goal is to ship her and all her kids to Alaska to escape the mess that's now California.
The problem is that each machine runs on a “crystal” and the one for their machine recently broke. Rachel wants Travis to travel over to the other Mat-Trans unit nearby and get that crystal and bring it back. Simple plan, eh? Against his better judgment, and surprisingly not at all swayed by Rachel’s monstrous breasts bulging out of her tight shirt, Travis agrees to this plan.
Just before shooting closes down for the day, Marchini and Chambers run to another part of the garage where a black Kawasaki motorcycle is parked under a tarp. Rachel has been saving this for just this occasion.
Travis rides the bike down a dirt path, at a dangerous speed in my opinion. Lurking on the rooftops of nearby buildings are scavs, and they mean to do harm to our hero. They begin tossing Molotov cocktails (!) down at him as he races past below.
The stuntman drives through a carefully pre-arranged track, avoiding the gunpowder bombs buried under two inches of topsoil scattered about the dirt path. Boom they go, geysering up dirt and smoke, vroom goes the motorcycle, swerving and gunning it to safety. Wow, that really looked authentic, just like in Renegade! Because Coke bottles filled with gasoline always cause neat explosions with no flames but lots of dirt.
This he does, but not without trouble. Jumped by a cultist, he has to shoot his way out, which causes the Mat-Trans unit's security system to kick in. On the wall is one of those scrolling LED signs like you see outside bars and restaurants, this one announcing that a self-destruct bomb will go boom soon! Travis runs out, but the bomb is a dud, luckily.
Outside, Travis’ luck takes a hit when he sees his motorcycle is gone. Since he has the keys still, someone pushed it off and they couldn’t have gotten far. Most oddly, right across the street from the building (the one full of dangerous cultists) is a small diner called “Jackass Junction”.
Travis enters and warily has a seat at the bar, all the scuzzy patrons burning holes in his back with their beady eyes. The bartender (Carradine) comes over and offers a bowl of fresh "jackrabbit stew", which Travis reluctantly orders. The bowl of stew, looking much like Hormel chili bought down at a local supermarket and cooked up by Marchini's wife, is placed before him and he makes a show of stirring it around.
Travis then asks Dad (that's the bartender's name, really) what the bill is, to which the old man only laughs oily. He says the price is the keys to the motorcycle that one of his boys pushed back here a bit ago. Ah, so that's where his motorcycle went! Dad pulls out a large revolver and points it at Travis as the half-dozen men rise as one and advance on him, knives and clubs drawn.
Acting with the swiftness of someone who has read the script, Travis whips around and shoots Dad with his shotgun (Carradine's agent, who had not read the script, screams "Don't hurt him for god's sake!", which was edited out in ADR), knocking him backwards onto a mattress hidden behind the bar. Dad artfully drags his pistol across some bottles as he goes down, shattering them in bursts of glass (the agent again screeches in agony as his client is showered in beer and glass shards, vowing to never again let Mr. Carradine work with this low-rent son of a bitch Marchini).
Turning quickly on the thugs rushing him, Travis thumps, smacks and generally mangles them all. While all this is going on, the dancing tramp continues to sway and rub her fur-covered boobies to the music, seemingly oblivious to the carnage around her. In one of the better bits, she asks Travis, "Do you want to dance?" To which he replied, "I'd love to, but my feet are killing me." And she replies mischievously "And everyone else, too." Priceless!
The rope is pulled tight, the stuntman lays the bike down and rolls a bit to make it look good (the insurance agent on set cringes at the damage to the bike, which is a lot, and the $1,000 deductible).
Travis jumps up and runs off, chased by the scavs and Snaker, who is a freakin’ lousy shot with his revolver at such close range. Travis makes it to a thick cornfield (!) and takes advantage of the limited visibility to make good his escape.
Over in druglord Lincoln’s compound, we see poor Rachel is chained up and harassed by Lincoln and his goons. He tells her that she’s earmarked to be the new girlfriend of his Champion, who enters now to clutch at her and laugh with evil delight. The Champion is played by martial arts master Michael Foley, a true legend in the exclusive community of hardcore karate worshippers (all four of them...). We just know this isn’t going to end well for her, but at least we don’t see it on screen. Hurry, Travis, hurry and save your woman!
Lincoln and his gang are watching the Champion fight contenders in a gladiator-style pit, ringed with shouting fans and surrounded by electrified chicken wire. There’s a lot of breaking bones and a lot of bleeding down here. My, look at those shoulder pads! And those lacrosse helmets! This is definitely a post-apocalyptic movie.
Our bad guy Lincoln is played by D.W. Landingham, who was also "Norm" in Omega Cop. He's a fat-jowled overly-squirmy guy, dressed in the sort of fake military tunic with lines of costume jewelry medals that you see on a lot of PA warlords.
Lincoln has a favorite woman, of course, his moll. She’s played by Dana Bentley, a skanky chick whose butt I recently saw in 1991's Bad Girls from Mars. Here she slinks around in a leather dominatrix outfit, but the camera never really gets close enough to her for us to get too excited.
Rachel is brought in now, lead on a leash by the moll. Good lord! They put her in a shiny silver dress, with slits up both legs all the way to her waist, and with a plunging neckline sans bra. Trashy, but nice.
Ron Marchini’s wife Jo Anne is on set today, and she expresses her displeasure at all these young hotties in their skanky outfits working with her husband. Ron assures her that it’s all just business and he doesn’t find them attractive as she. Really. Jo Anne is still not happy, but she lets the shoot continue, while stationing herself behind the key grip so she can keep tabs on where Ron puts his hands.
The rest of the day is cancelled when Carrie Chambers, who plays Rachel, suddenly requests extra pay for having to wear this ridiculously unflattering porn star outfit. She calls her agent, who just laughs at her, and she storms off set and back to the Motel 6 where she has been staying. Marchini himself goes to her room, with his wife in tow to keep a eye on him, and talks her into returning for a 5% share of the net profits (which will end up being like $17.40) and a promise to not tell her mom.
Travis now swings in on a rope to save the day, kicking the Champion into the electrified fence. The Champion fries beautifully, twitching and thrashing on the fence. The crowd goes crazy with rage, but Travis quickly reaches Lincoln and holds a knife to his throat. Lincoln proves himself a coward here (as are many of these sorts of thugs who let others do their dirty work) and Travis uses him to get him and Rachel out of the room. He tosses Lincoln aside then (why?) and they run for dear life. Travis seems to have no escape plan prepared, but just runs about the building looking for a way out. All this running is hard on Rachel in that flimsy dress, and she has to hold her boobs with one hand as she runs to keep them from flopping out. Eventually, they make it up to the roof.
While "jumping" from one rooftop to another, Travis takes a bullet in the leg! Hobbling off, he and Rachel manage to escape, surely helped by the bad guys, who just stop chasing them, stop shooting at them, stop paying any attention. Perhaps it was 5 o'clock by then and union rules state that extras can only work eight hours a day and Marchini was unwilling to pay them the overtime so the scene just ended there.
She gets the Mat-Trans unit up and running after replacing the old broken crystal with the new one that Travis retrieved. A lot of typing on a keyboard, and a lot of adjusting with a crescent wrench (a little too blacksmith for such a delicate machine, I’d say), and it’s operational again!
Piling all eleven kids (minus Cal) onto the platform, she flips the switch. With a humming and flashing of lights, the kids are zipped up to Juneau, Alaska! What they are going to do there is never stated, but lets not worry about that right now, lets just celebrate.
At the same time, however, the compound is under frontal attack by Lincoln and a bunch of his men on some sort of fork truck. Travis holds them off while the kids escape, but Lincoln's men bust in before Cal and Rachel can make their jump north.
There's some fighting, some kicking, some punching, and some general unpleasantness directed towards a number of underpaid extras wearing matching jumpsuits and lacrosse helmets. In the melee, Snaker takes a crossbow bolt (!) from Cal and dies, all of Lincoln's men get thumped and thwacked while he just stands there and looks annoyed, and Rachel and Cal manage to make their jump to safety.
Which goes as expected, with a whole lot of kicks to the face, punches to the chest, eye gouging, ball kneeing, and lots of grunting and sweating. The post-production editors will have their work cut out for them with this fight, filmed with two cameras and lasting a good five minutes.
In the end, the Champion is bested and Lincoln is killed when he tries to make a Mat-Trans jump himself, but Travis kicks the crystal and Lincoln goes puff into a pile of ashes. Ah, but all that started a self-destruct mechanism that will explode the unit in 90 seconds! Run, Travis, run!
Ka-boom! The building explodes in a rolling gas-fueled fireball! Travis crouches down and holds his head in his arms as gouts of dirt and smoke roll over him.
The ending shot (most likely filmed some days earlier in between smoke breaks) shows Travis walking off into the sunset (please!) with his hat and his dog. If there was ever a better set-up for a sequel, I've not seen it. Karate Cop II/Omega Cop III where are you?
Bonus! Some handy
stats for this
Stinger: The Moviefone.com description for this movie was clearly written by someone who had never seen the movie, and most likely by a blind goat herder in Nepal...
“Set in the Future, Karate Cop stars Ron Marchini in the self-explanatory title role. Marchini is obliged to join forces with gorgeous scientist Carrie Chambers, who's also pretty good at taking care of herself. The two crimebusters scour the city in search of a priceless stone. Villain David Carradine, of course, intends to rule the world with that rock.”
US Poster (click to enlarge)
UK VHS (rental sample) with alternative title (click to enlarge)
UK VHS (rental sample) with alternative title insert (click to enlarge)
Pal (UK) cover
|Trailer/Clips:||David Carradine's scene from the film (6:55)|
|Fact Sheet:||Check out the Fact Sheet|
|Comments:||Check out the discussion thread here: Karate Cop|