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DID YOU READ

“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]

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.