Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 1990 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 16th, 2013
"It's exciting to act like a jerk."
It's been far too long, Dragon Dynasty. What martial arts gem do you have in store for me this time? I am rarely disappointed by the action imports that make their way through your studio. Let's see, something called Outlaw Brothers. Huh. According to the cover it contains "turbo-charged, high-octane martial arts action." Not bad.
So in goes the disc, up spools the film, and I'm faced with about 100 minutes of utter incoherence. It's been twenty minutes since the credits rolled and I'm still not entirely sure what this movie's about. And that's with the dubbing and English subtitles running concurrently.
As near as I can tell, the eponymous outlaw brothers are a pair of wisecracking dinks who make their criminal living stealing hot sports cars from the 1980s. Their illicit enterprise is being tracked by the most lethal and acrobatic female cop on the force, a whirling dervish of feet and hands and eyeliner.
That's about all I've got for a story summary. There's some criminal maneuvering, as the brothers leverage their car stealing against some local kingpins, but whatever. Getting lost in a Scorcese-like crime epic should not be why you take Outlaw Brothers for a spin. Nope, you should just be interested in chickens.
Oh, the chickens!
I've seen many insane martial arts sequences during my Verdict tenure, but few have involved such wanton destruction of avian barnyard life as the climactic action sequence in Outlaw Brothers. Here's the set-up: the heroes and the antagonists (including a skilled, mullet-adorned blonde douchebag) square off in a shipping warehouse for their final confrontation. Outmanned and outgunned, our heroes open fire on the suspended containers overhead and the doors fly open and hundreds of chickens come pouring out. What follows is about fifteen minutes of gunfire and pugilism and attempted vehicular manslaughter, all buttressed with shots of broken, bloodied chickens.
Not that anything will be able to trump the visages of mutilated poultry, but the action choreography isn't bad. The fighting is fast and practical, with only fleeting instances of wire work standing out (there's one ridiculous moment at the end where two characters get yanked out of harm's way on a tow cable, a feat if done in real life would result in severed torsos aplenty). The female combatants are the highlights here, with both women (on each side of the law) showing that they have the skills to pay the bills.
That's all I can offer in the way of a recommendation. Outlaw Brothers can be enjoyable at times, both inadvertently (some brutally bad dialogue is made worse from the dubbing) and willfully (the fighting). On balance, it's probably not enough to tilt the scales in favor of a must-buy.
Dragon Dynasty's DVD is a lean once, a surprise from a label that typically puts out stacked releases. The tech is passable (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Chinese and English mono audio tracks); the extras, non-existent.
There's some cultish B-movie fun to be had with Outlaw Brothers, but
only if you score it at a yard sale.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Cantonese)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated