“L.A. Streetfighters”: a major midnight movie discovery.

“L.A. Streetfighters”: a major midnight movie discovery. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival.

In the 1990s, “Beverly Hills, 90210” set the standard for actors too old to play high school students, with a cast that included Luke Perry (25-years-old playing 16 at the start of the series) and Gabrielle Carteris (16 going on 30). But they all look like fetuses compared to Jun Chong, the hilariously old geezer who plays a high school student named Young in “L.A. Streetfighters.”

According to the website Video Junkie, Chong was 41 years old when he played, ahem, Young, a whippersnapper with an impossibly demanding — and impossibly drunk — mom. “I can’t be the person my mother wants me to be!” Young protests. “She expects too much!” Yes, she expected her son who looks like her older brother to graduate from high school by the age of 40. The tyrant! Parents just don’t understand.

“L.A. Streetfighters” seems blissfully unaware that it is completely absurd, and that is the very quality that elevates it to the level of great bad art. It’s not simply that it is poorly made — most low-budget martial arts films are poorly made — it’s that “L.A. Streetfighters” is strangely made in ways that go way beyond just casting a guy 25 years too old for his part.

What to make of the scene where Young walks in on a friend showering in a room full of potted plants and give him a banana? What to make of the scene where a hitman on the trail of some stolen money takes time out from beating a dojo full of men to put on a karate demonstration on a punching bag? What to make of the scene shot in slow motion featuring dubbed voices recorded at normal speed? Watching this movie is like seeing the world through the eyes of a delusional psychotic who’s high on peyote.

06242010_streetfight3.jpgThe narrative of the film resembles a Jenga puzzle: identical scenes neatly stacked one atop the other with no attention to which piece goes where. Once a piece has served its purpose, it’s removed from the pile and placed back on the top so it can be used again. Young, his new buddy Tony (Phil Ree) and some of the other street fighters wander into a grocery store where someone is being harassed by a gang and everyone gets into a fight. And so on.

Eventually — because this is apparently how Fairfax High School students earn a little extra pocket change — they start working as hired muscle at clubs. But when the group works security for a drug deal, Young impulsively steals a briefcase full of money, and becomes the target of a citywide manhunt. His excuse? “The money’s dirty! I’ll use it for a good cause!” I guess Young wasn’t out of school getting his driver’s license (or maybe his AARP membership card) on the day they taught the lesson about how two wrongs don’t make a right.

Kudos to the NYAFF programmers for finding and championing this honest-to-so-bad-it’s-goodness gem. This fascinatingly weird movie is a perfect choice to play their Midnights sidebar. It also would make a strong choice at any high school’s Scared Straight program. Be careful, kids. Stay in school too long and you’ll wind up in a movie as bad as this.

“L.A. Streetfighters” plays Saturday, June 26 at midnight at IFC Center in New York City. If you don’t live in the area, “L.A. Streetfighters” is currently available on Netflix and Netflix Watch Instantly.

[Photos: “L.A. Streetfighters,” Action Brothers Productions, 1985]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.