Friday, February 24, 2006

A study in exploitation

I recently watched Black Mama, White Mama for the first time in a dozen years and Challenge of the Tiger for the first time.

Neither of these movies is great by any conventional standard.

Black Mama, White Mama has solid acting, including a deliciously outrageous performance by Sid Haig, a perfectly workable script and technically solid production values. Unfortunately, the direction is so lethargic that the movie plods along without ever catching wind and moving. It spreads out to too many characters instead of focusing on the titular mamas.

Challenge of the Tiger has an imbecilic script, at least the English language dialogue, terrible dubbing, an absurd plot. There is absolutely no reason this ought to work. Yet somehow it's terrifically entertaining. Yes, sure, some of it is laughing at the stupid script and ridiculous dubbing. Some of it is just the infectious energy of the direction and actors, though. Whatever's left is all slow-motion topless tennis.

The moral of the story is, if you're going to do it, go all out. Have fun! It seems like too many filmmakers these days are more afraid to be on the next generation version MST3K than they are determined to go all out and do what they're going to do. I'm much happier after watching Challenge of the Tiger, more likely to recommend it to others, more likely to buy the DVD.

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