When I grow older, I will be stronger, They'll call me Freedom, Just like a waving flag


I'm not here to tell you why the Confederate Flag (AKA the battle flag of the North Virginian Army, AKA the Southern Pride flag, AKA the White Pride flag, AKA the Lynyrd Skynrd flag) is unsuited to modern usage in the United States of America.  These reasons have been endlessly recounted elsewhere, and just as endlessly denied by solipsistic apologists who can't accept that the actions with which that flag has been associated speak far louder than the hollow words with which they attempt to redefine it.

If, indeed, the desire is to have a flag of genuine "Southern Pride" (a vastly loaded and suspicious concept, given the history there), then rather than fighting over what one tainted symbol means, then perhaps it's time to start looking at viable replacements about which ALL Southerners can feel good, free of the burden of racist history.

1. The Martin Luther King Jr. Flag

One of the most persistent claims be defenders of the Confederate flag is that "Nuh uh, it's totally not racist!  It's about freedom and rebellion against power and the Southern heritage we're prouda."

Okay, so why is it always the Confederacy?  Is there nothing else for the South to be prouda?  And what makes treason and bigotry heroic?  The desperation of the spin on this subject is pure, uncut cognitive dissonance, so I'd like to offer a symbol that actually does, for ALL Southerners, and indeed all Americans (be prouda your contributions!).

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Southerner.  He was a Christian.  He was an American.  He stood up to power to fight for human rights and freedoms, ultimately giving his life for the cause.  He was, indeed, ALL of the things that white Southerners claim they believe in when they defend the Confederate flag.  Unlike the Confederate flag, however, he ACTUALLY, REALLY, NOT-JUST-MADE-UP stood for those things.  So why WOULDN'T you want this to be the flag of Southern pride and accomplishment?

Unless you're just full of shit.

2. The Barbecue Flag

 Who doesn't love barbecue?  Black or white, from the Carolinas to Texas to Missouri, Southerners have developed numerous styles of cooking and saucing meat that are the envy of the nation.  Southerners should be proud to rally around the BBQ flag and show their pride in the art and innovation of the South.

If it helps any, you'll still be able to piss off those fussy eaters in the Northwest with your love of cooked meat, and just between us, isn't pissing off non-Southerners pretty much the point?

3. The Blair Mountain Flag

 In 1912, the largest armed uprising since the Civil War took place in West Virginia.  More than 10,000 miners, black and white together, stood up for their right to unionize and demand better working and living conditions.  You get all the rebellion and independence, but you get it in the context of DEFENDING THE RIGHT THINGS; real rights; not the "right" to deny the rights of others.  This was a case of actual victims standing up to power, not using their power to victimize others.  It would also make a valuable symbol today, when once again, corporations use fear tactics to keep labor docile or complicit.  The South, which continues to struggle economically, has always done the best for itself when it has reminded its controlling economic interests that its man-and-woman-power is one of its greatest assets.

4. The Music Flag

So much of the music enjoyed by Americans, and indeed the world today was either invented, or at least has roots that crisscross through the South.  Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Soul, Rock & Roll all have roots in the South.  Honestly, so much of what gets called "Black culture" is in overlap with Southern culture, that is just seems bizarre to me that there are so many "proud Southerners" who are so willing to disown it.  Once you really understand that African Americans are AMERICANS, and that Southern Blacks are just as Southern as y'all honkies, you start to realize how much more you have to share proudly.

The acknowledgement of Gospel is also the closest you're getting to having some Jesus up on ya flag, so I advise you to take the deal.

Other possibilities include the Sweet Tea Flag.  It features a sack of sugar and a tea leaf.  The Sweet Tea flag serves the purpose of identifying something the Southerners love but everyone else generally hates, so you still have the advantage of pissing off Yankees, while at the same time continuing to demonstrate your disdain for science and personal responsibility with all those fat-ass kids with the sugar-beeties y'all're raising.

And the Second-Hand Trampoline Flag.  Nothing says freedom like a turning your kids loose on a trampoline that's no longer sold due to safety issues.  How dare them Feds tell your kids that they can't break their arm during the first week of summer!  The background would be a house with plywood replacing rotting siding, because you have a right to a hammer, and only some elitist Yankee cares about fancy-pantsy siding anyway.

A Runaway Hit -- Really, A Smash!

The next collaboration isn't ready yet, so I decided to treat myself to one of Cannon's most atypically lauded offerings...


Runaway Train - 1985
See link for complete writing credits
Directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy
With Jon Voight, Eric Roberts & Rebecca DeMornay

While the history of Cannon Films is defined by low-brow id-chow, Menahem Golan occasionally liked to hire a prestigious director (often from Europe) to make a movie for Cannon that would dilute their reputation for crap.  He bundled these with the usual brain-dead carnography so that theater owners who wanted the latest Bronson or Norris xenophobic murder porn would also have to take the fancy-pantsy art-house fare.  While I don't think that necessarily implies that he secretly had a sense of taste that he otherwise chose not to use, he still didn't have to make Zefirelli's Otello or Reggio's Powaqqatsi.  Maybe his ego needed the legitimacy, but his business model didn't necessarily.  They could have gone just as far if not farther by continuing to shovel the shit -- McDonald's certainly has.

Runaway Train was one of Cannon Films' biggest and most successful "prestige" titles, and not without cause.  It's a gritty, rock-solid action adventure film that eschews the traditional Hollywood need to make everyone likeable, and lets some of the light of actual character depth shine through.

The story is more-or-less as simple as it sounds.  Notorious criminal and habitual jail-breaker Oscar "Manny" Manheim (Jon Voight as his most anti-social) and his hero-worshipping sidekick, Buck McGeehy (Eric Roberts) break out of a brutal Alaskan penitentiary, then hop a train to freedom, little realizing that the train's conductor has just had a heart attack and pitched over the side of the train.  By the time they discover they're on a Runaway Train it may be too late to do anything about it.  That's the plot, but it's not the whole story.  That structure is ornamented with tense action on both small and grand scales, and embossed with moments of humanity where Buck's admiration for Manny becomes evident, and where Manny's reactions reveal that he wants nothing of the sort for Buck, recognizing that it was that kind of naive, young buck stupidity that made his life the kind of waste that necessitated a talent for jail-breaking at all.  Indeed, he wants nothing of the sort for himself, but fatalistically accepts the limited number of choices with which he has left himself.

Legendary Japanese director is credited with the original story idea, which appears to have gone through a number of drafts along the way.  As a viewer who approached this not merely as another movie, but the product of Golan & Globus, I experienced a kind of tension throughout, wondering where the next words spoken were going to come from.  Would it be a moment of insightful humanity?  Tense exposition?  Uber-macho and heavily stereotyped prison color?  The director, Andrey Konchalovskiy doesn't appear to have made an action movie before this, but he handles it with all appropriate tension.  Runaway Train apparently got him hired for Tango & Cash (an above-average Stallone film), and Tango & Cash apparently put him off action.  His refined palette of film-making choices smooth out some of the rough spots in the script and make Runaway Train much more than it needed to be.

Jon Voight was still doing some of his best work at this point in his career -- not the mere casual gravitas that he's settled into, but when he was really cooking, and filled his characters with yearning, fire and pain.  It's not often that you see a character thinking while they're speaking.  The last time it really struck me was Matthew McConaughey in True Detective, but Voight has that here in Runaway Train too.  Manny is not an innocent man falsely accused.  He is a lifelong con who knows nothing else and is only too happy to take violent offense at the least perceived sleight.  He is a desperate criminal, and shows it.

Now, I've developed a pretty solid rule of thumb over the past few years.  Is Eric Roberts in a given movie?  If yes, then you can usually be pretty sure that it's not a good movie.  It's not that Roberts is terrible (he's wildly inconsistent), so much as he makes terrible, horrible choices.  In Runaway Train, he has a director that figured out how to get the most out of him, even if that's still inconsistent.  Roberts is sort of the Lenny to Voight's George.  Rather than asking about the rabbits, Buck fantasizes about the next big score, hopefully with Manny as his partner, and their eventual flight to the criminal equivalent of "milk & honey."  Much of Roberts' career has been spent playing seething creeps and sneering villains, but it's here, as an ignorant, dumb punk, that he gives one of his better performances, inconsistencies and all.

The surprise member of their trainbound trio is Sara (Rebecca DeMornay), the conductor's young assistant.  Like Roberts, she's playing against what would later become her established "type."  She's not just scared, she's vulnerable.  The strength she displays doesn't come from any inflated sense of confidence, but from that place of calm certainty that comes from accepting one's own responsibility for keeping oneself alive.

I really found the production texture interesting on Runaway Train.  There IS a sort of sheen of cheapness on it, but it's also clear that they spent on the kind of things that show up on the screen in a more direct way.  There's a lot of external action on a train speeding through snow (and other obstacles) and that clearly cost money.  In fact, a lot of the snowy exteriors look like they must have taken effort and expense to get to and shoot.

While I certainly enjoy the occasional spectacle, Runaway Train is the kind of movie that's just a good movie.  It doesn't have to rely on explosions to give it life.  It focuses on lives to make it explosive.

Below the Belt

Kicking Cannonade into gear, I am joined by fellow cinephile, Aaron McAbee of Seattle, WA.  The Cannon Film we watched was Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, because Aaron had it on Laserdisc.

...for some reason.

Bronson Goes to Work... AS ONLY BRONSON CAN!

FYI: He's not an FBI agent in Kinjite

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects - 1989
Written by Harold Nebenzal
Directed by J Lee Thompson
With Charles Bronson, James Pax & Amy Hathaway

Tim:  The slimy "Yuppie" stereotype berates the obsequious and perverted Japanese businessman stereotype, "Below the belt" matters, he patronizingly stresses, are "'KINJITE!  For-BIDDEN in The West!"  Thus we are reminded what a backward people the Japanese are as preamble to our F-Yeah 'Murican wallowing in a world of "below the belt" behavior.

Well, the good news is that Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects has a surprisingly ethnically diverse cast.  The bad news is what it does with them.

Aaron:  Charles Bronson and Cannon films were like a violent Siamese twin the 80's that consistently made money together pimping each other out. Bronson and Cannon made films that should have only been shown in the worst, scummiest multiplexed theater or in Times Square, where on many levels you put you life in your own hands going to the bathroom or eating at the concession stand.  In this film environment, Bronson showing up on the marquee makes a certain audience feel that it was being served comfort food when they were sick.

Yes, my son, even Christ thinks you're an asshole
Tim:  If all you ever had of Earth civilization was a VHS tape of Kinjite, you might believe that life on Earth was exactly what Fox News says it is.  If Bronson & Cannon were still churning them out, would we even need Fox News and the other voices of fear to keep the paranoid bigots stirred up with their relentless stream of virtually identical American nightmares?  Bigotry and paternalism are held up as values.  Bronson makes it very clear from the start whose side he's on.  Not that anyone asked him, but he hears that uppity California Cuisine is out of style and meat n' potatoes are back.  Yeah, we know potatoes are back, Chuck, we recognized you as soon as we saw you.

Continuing that Fox News/"Real America" trend, Bronson immediately proceeds to wipe his ass with the Constitution while pursuing "Bronson Justice" while hiding behind a badge.

Aaron:   Within the first minutes we get introduced to the villain (dubbed Sleazebag Duke by Bronson).  Bronson has a hard-on gun erection when he thinks of busting Sleazebag Duke, but he has to settle for a dildo in the early scene.

Let me explain that statement. 

Tim:  I really wish you wouldn't...

Aaron:  Within the space of five minutes we have Bronson and his partner breaking down a door, punching a businessman (probably using my future social security to hire a underage prostitute) and tossing him into cardboard furniture.

Tim:  I'm not sure they ever proved she was underage.  Bronson just goes banana-crap because she "looks about the same age as my daughter."  She showed no signs of duress.  He really had no legal cause, but I doubt he'll see it that way later when the case is dismissed.

Aaron:  When he demands that the Suit confess to Duke's involvement, the 3-martini-lunch fuck-head refuses.  Never refuse Bronson when there is a dildo nearby.  "You're going to feel like it is to be one of the kids" as he grabs the before mentioned dildo.  His partner leaves with the teen prostitute as we hear the screams of the Reagan supporter from the other room.   It would have been a different movie shown in a different type of theater in New York if this scene went on for 30 more seconds.

50 Shades of Crap
Tim: This scene really contains the DNA of all of Kinjite's monstrosity.  The characters don't speak to each other.  They spout captions.  When Bronson declares "I'm gonna take you down to the station," the creep responds "Bull shit I am!"  Cracka say wha?

Wrapped up in this blanket of illiteracy, we're treated to a melange of equally savory human characteristics; most particularly how absolutely bigoted this film is.  In addition to his extralegal approach to warrants, assault and rape, Bronson also threatens the night clerk at the hotel based on his Indian ethnicity, and this seems perfectly reasonable to the viewer because, well fuck them, they're different.

Afterward, he confesses his concern about his actions.  No, not that he violated the law and sodomized someone, but that he might "jeopardize my pension."  Without needing or wanting to know the facts, his wife cuts him a blank check made out to "a good man" who just "got his Irish up" and that's all he needs to go on.  When the banks lose his pension anyway, I bet you he still blames "the coloreds."

Aaron:  Next we see a Japanese business man receiving lessons of becoming use to society in America.  It's very nice that when a Japanese character is on screen we hear Japanese harp music playing, otherwise we might not know who this character is and where they come from.  The Salary man is sexually frustrated, with a wife who does not favor the tentacle porn manga that he reads.  OK, truth be told, we never see the porn mentioned, but Japanese Businessman + sexual repression?   What else could it be?
Tim:  Japanese fetish interests?  It could be aaaanythiiiing. Anything.  Especially when filtered through the fears and fetishes of the viewing audience.  The vagary makes it just as depraved as the individual viewer needs it to be to get off/get angry.

The Japanese scenes are agonizing.  The Salary Man is craven, dimwitted and of course, hung with the burden of unnamed but clearly disgusting (I guess. His wife said so. Maybe he just wanted to do it with the lights on) perversions.  His oldest daughter is the really interesting one.  While her parents talk about the argument that they're having, she delivers serenely authoritative exposition about the Japanese Condition to her younger sister.

Aaron:  Back to Bronson (otherwise known as the real reason we are watching this film).  He tracks down Sleazebag Duke -- 

Tim:  Whoa there, let's not blow past WHY he's tracking down Sleazebag Duke.  If this movie actually had a story, the football game scene would be pivotal to it.  Bronson has his daughter and her friend (she's Black, so we know that Bronson is totally not racist! His daughter is free to associate with "the good kind.") at a football game.  From across the field, Sleazebag Duke and his side-duke drool over the white girl before discussing The Bronson Problem.  Duke takes a warm-up run at Bronson's daughter to see if she's vulnerable to discount pimp-patter, as well as yanking Bronson's chain.  This leads to more assault from Bronson, as well as the affirmation that teen girls just cain't git enough of a man with anger issues.

It's my belief that the first-napkin pass of the story originally planned for Sleazebag Duke to turn-out Bronson's daughter.  The whole first act dance between Bronson and Duke builds toward that, but then they sandwiched it together with the pitch for another Bronson vehicle involving Japanese perverts and we get this convoluted burlap sack of events that results in the remixed story parts having some pretty big parts left over in the end.

So that's when he "tracks down Sleazebag Duke."

Aaron:  He actually hides in the back of his car and points a gun to his head, forcing him to drive to an abandoned lot.  Sleazebag Duke is so out of touch with reality he offers to buy Bronson out by giving him his flash watch which is worth more than he makes in a year. Looking at the watch he tells Duke "I want to shove this up your ass but I don't want to get my hands dirty".  OK, within a space of 15 minutes we have Bronson not only butt rapes a businessman with a dildo but now we have him state that he wants to shove a watch up the main bad guy's ass. When does it stop being subtext and become untamed repression?  So instead of shoving it up his ass (his line, not mine) he forces Duke to swallow it.  Then Bronson blows up his car by setting it on fire and delivers the line of the film about what he plans to do with Duke "Dead.  Dead in the Gutter Dead."  That's pretty dead in my book.

Tim:  This was the scene where I learned that a burning bag of garbage in the back seat of a car = big explosion in 30 seconds or less.  A burning bag of garbage in the back seat of a car is also an apt metaphor for this movie.

Also, in case you were confused (as I was) by the opening scene, this makes it absolutely clear that Bronson probably has to chase down perps to violate and assault because he's already finished violating and assaulting the Constitution.  At one point I wondered if the story arc would have to include his dismissal from the force so he could go 100% vigilante, but that's a bit of insight to which this film is incapable of reaching.  It's all treated as "doing his job" despite obstacles like the Chief and the Law getting in his way.

Aaron:  In Japan we get to see the businessman having one too many drinks (they work 22 hour days, after all) and taking the subway home. On the train, he forms his further sexual hang ups by watching another business man groping a female who does not resist and in fact submits to his groping style.

Tim:  The Tour de Stereotypes is in full swing as we return to Japan.  Look how foreign they are!  They're orderly!  They use trains!  They're orderly!  They use trains!  They're orderly on the train!  The trains are orderly!  Order!  Trains!  Order trains!  Also, did we mention that they're GIANT PERVERTS??? 

There's almost a moment of clarity during this scene, where the filmmakers manage to suggest that he's merely seeing it as submission, seeing her taking a shameful pleasure in it.  Of course there is no real clarity here.  It's meant both to depict Salary Man (and his countrymen) as morally corrupt, while allowing the audience to be both aghast at "them" while themselves being titillated.  Nevertheless, it plants a seed in his weak, non-American psyche thanks to his inferior moral fiber. 

Aaron:  Salary Man stores the groping incident in the spank bank and adds yet another fucked up Tetris block to the tower that is his poor, sad excuse for a sexual development.  In a few scenes he gets a promotion where he will soon discover the decadence of the USA.  And Los Angeles at that.
Tim:  So you'd think that Bronson and Salary Man were on a collision course, and you'd be partly right.  Salary Man gets to LA, gets a few drinks in him, gets all lathered up with no place to go but... public transportation.

Aaron:  Gazing at the temptation that is Catholic and High School on the bus going back home, the wholesomeness is something that he can not resist and he tries to recreate the scene on the subway.  Guys who grew up in the 80's know that just because you watch lots of porn, that doesn't mean the dialog is going to get you anywhere.  Just because you see something done on a Japanese subway doesn't mean it's going to work in LA.  Especially if the Catholic High School Girl you have in your groping hands' crosshairs turns out to be BRONSON'S FUCKING DAUGHTER! 

Tim:  I feel like the director thought he was doing some high-end psychological film-making here.  The mounting tension as he flashed back to the subway in Japan and the girls' unenthusiastic and circumstance-inappropriate chanting of their "party" cheer while his hand moved closer and closer to her skirt seemed to go on forever.  "LOOK upon this WRETCH!" it demanded, "LOOK and KNOW that he is out there IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING, and it could be YOUR fair-haired innocent NEXT!"

 Aaron:  Things do not go like he planned, as Bronson's daughter screams out and raises a ruckus.  The Salary man cuts his losses and jets quickly.

Tim:  I'm pretty sure that Glenn Beck masturbates to this scene.  Guys like him and other Tea Party wingnuts must get the same kind of satisfaction from this that the Salary Man did not.  The touch is just the beginning of the outrage-gasm.  The instant she yelps in surprise, everyone in the crowded bus begins milling around in shock and it immediately stops.  Salary Man bails out the door and disappears into the crowd as passengers spill off the bus.  I wrote down what was said next because I didn't want to miss any subtext.
Teacher:  What's the matter, Rita?

Her Friend:  Some PERVERT touched her!

Teacher:  Who?


They did NOT come to party.
And then, I jive thee not, a bona fide mob-rule hate crime breaks out as white guys start beating the shit out of any available Asian.  Because that's reasonable.  'Murrica!  Gahd dayum!

Just to save audience members from a rage-fired heart attack, Salary Man gets mugged and beaten a block or two away.

Aaron:  ...an example of instant Karma. 

Tim:  Just in case you were uncertain about Rita's opinion of fer'ners, we get her police interview.

Lady Cop:  Now Rita, I know it's difficult, but -- have you some way of knowing if he was... Japanese?  Chinese?  ...Korean?

Rita:  How can you tell? [huff!]

She then looks suspiciously at the Asian Detective over Lady Cop's shoulder.

Rita:  [Whispers] (He looked kinda like...) [Suspiciously indicates Asian Detective with here eyes, in that subtle language that we honkies share with one another.]

And then Asian Detective EXCUSES IT because: "Asians share a superficial likeness."

Well fuck me, folks.  There you have it.  No learning opportunities here.  Nothing but the sweet, sweet succor of knowing that your ignorance and prejudice is totally valid, and supported by our more enlightened people of color who know that whitey sho' do carry a mighty burden, lawd.

But wait, that was the subtle and restrained part, because --

Aaron:  All this happens before Bronson is told of the incident.

When Bronson does hear about the incident he goes zero to Klansman in .06 seconds...
Tim:  Oy vey, this is some straight-up Beer Hall Putsch right here.  Here's the crazy thing -- well, one of them.  Bronson's partner speaks to him as though he possessed actual human reason, which means that Harold Nebenzal did actually recognize reality when he was writing Kinjite, BUT THEN KEPT WRITING.  The partner says, quite sensibly, that nothing really happened and she was fine.  Spoken like a man who knows he doesn't have long to live. 

Honestly, Ren & Stimpy's John K should animate this scene.  I thought he was going to have a stroke (shit, I hope he didn't really have a stroke. I wouldn't exactly feel guilty, but that makes it look even worse for me. I know it's the internet, but whatever...)

And that kicks off a big, xenophobic, anti-immigrant rant (particularly concerning the Japanese) which escalates --

Aaron:  -- yelling at a group of Japanese people in front of an upscale hotel, "You people behave like your own this town!" while the party goers look at him with a "What an asshole!" look on their face. 

Tim:  I think it was more of a stunned silence mixed with disgust, like a homeless person who was kicked out of the state hospital, or an unbalanced uncle who makes no secret of touching everyone at your dinner party with his scrotum.  They understood what an embarrassment he was for the rest of us as Americans, but that didn't mean they weren't impatient for us to chain his rabid ass up in the back yard.  

I can see their point.  We really should have.

Aaron:  I would have loved to have seen one of the party goers come up and speak to him in perfect English about how the Native American's felt about his ancestors.  The partner begs forgiveness before Bronson can find a ramen cart to tip over.

Up until this point you have seen Bronson do some very high on the chart asshole things to complete strangers.  You feel deep sympathy toward the strangers that he verbally assaults and (to a certain extent) Sleazebag Duke.

Well, Duke kidnaps the oldest daughter of the Salary Man, in a scene in which we hear Japanese harp music and see the girl staring at a lotus.  Duke drives by and tells the girl that her parents told her he would be picking her up.  As she gets in the car, she drops the lotus on the ground.  Yeah, not subtle in the least. 

This leads to a scene in which Duke leads her into his pad, leading her into his bedroom.

Tim: I see you've tracked down a few leads... 

Aaron:  A few moments later he walks out and his back up man (in more ways than one) enters the bedroom.  When the back up man leaves, we see the actor who was the pimp that got slapped around by Steven Segal in the beginning credits of "Out for Justice" get up and go into the room.

Tim:  Dude, why do you know that?

Aaron:  The bad guy just got much more slimy and scummy very quickly, providing Bronson with enough reason to make them all dead and in the gutter dead. 

Tim:  Paranoiacs can find one thing to justify their hate and fear, and yet a million things won't disillusion them.  A million and one MIGHT, however.  That's why there's Bronson and Fox News.  "Filled with violent rage and resentment toward strangers?  Good!  You never know... and never knowing might always kill you and rape your family, except when you don't know what you don't WANT to know, you know?!"
Kinjite is an anthem to the superiority complex of blue-collar ignorance and paranoia.

Aaron:  In a scene that plays like a grind house Pretty Woman, the Japanese Daughter gets a makeover montage, with new hair, new clothes and a group of pimps and whores clapping and celebrating her entry into the world of a ho as Duke announces "You're Open For Business.' 

About the same time, Bronson announces to his partner "We got to find that girl.  Even if we work out of the system."  That implies that before this he was working in the system.

Tim:  Between kicking asses (well, between super close-up shots of tired, old punches being pantomimed and long range shots of stuntmen waving their arms around) Bronson shares a tender moment with his partner in the car.  Okay, it's actually after questioning Salary Man and Wife about the abduction of Older Japanese Daughter.  But he kicked ass at it.

Bronson:  Boy am I glad we're out of there!  I don't know how to deal with that sobbing... tears and all?  I thought these guys had balls of iron... you know, "give your life for the Emperor?"  Committing hari-kari, that kind of thing?  Now don't make me out to be insensitive, because... I can imagine... being the father of a teenager, I can imagine how this guy must feel.

Nightmare scenarios featuring his daughter?  Yeah, Bronson can relate to that.  He's just your average, racist, paternalistic, paranoid rage monster.  You know; A Hero.

So Bronson and Sidekick decide "work outside the system" by kicking the shit out of a (by all appearances) perfectly legal porn shoot.  I'm not sure if this got them any closer to Sleazebag Duke, but at least Bronson will be able to have sex with his wife tonight.  They go back to roughin' up suspects and other innocents until something happens.

Aaron:  The first gunshot of the film is at the 80 minute mark, and that is only fired to open the door of Duke's apartment.

Tim:  Sleazebag Duke's driver, wingman and chief blunt-roller Lavonne covers Duke's escape with the girls.  That is to say, Duke escapes with the girls... except Fumiko (Older Japanese Daughter) who has locked herself in her bedroom.  Lavonne talks a lot of shit, until the instant they suggest torture.  Then he goes into some kind of Stepin Fetchit routine, all "Sweet Jesus!" this and "Swear ta God!" that.  They dangle him off the balcony (holding mainly onto his shoes -- I mean really, what did they expect?) for Duke's whereabouts.  As far as we or Bronson knows, Lavonne really doesn't know.

Aaron:  They do not get any info and they manage (in terms that can only be described as slapstick mistake) manage to let him slip.  He manages to land in the pool only to have huge pools of blood form around him.  I feel a bit sorry for him, imagining as  he falls and sees that he will make the pool and the instant disappointment that he feels as his skull is impacted two inches into his chest. 

Where the white women at?
Tim:  There was really no chance of Lavonne making it out of this scene alive.  There was going to have to be some sort of relief for Bronson's frustrated rage at missing Duke, which suggests at the very least a hospital visit for whoever caught the fallout.  But Lavonne is the primary Black representative in our urban nightmare vengeance fantasy, so, sayonara Lavonne.

Aaron:  The daughter is discovered from a locked bedroom and is reunited with her parents. 

Tim:  She had the good manners to apologize for all the trouble, because you've heard how they are, right?

Plenty of cheese.
Aaron:  Everyone's happy.

Tim:  Not the guy who has to clean the pool.
 So Fumiko's parents come to Bronson's house to honor his family with gifts of gratitude...

Aaron:  ...providing only the top notch items that you would furnish in a high scale Chinese restaurant.

Tim:  Bronson's House should be a band.
Aaron:  Uncomfortable and deer in headlights looks when the Groper meet the Gropee, but the daughter plays it cool and does not raise the issue with her father.  After all, his daughter been hooking for the past few weeks, so he gets a pass.  Although a part of me would have love to seen Bronson finding out.

Tim:  Yeah, this was just weird, and it's the piece of the puzzle that makes me think that Kinjite was cobbled together from two different Bronson projects (which is entirely possible with Cannon).  They set these guys up on a collision course from the beginning, and Bronson gets filled with all this anti-immigrant, racist, creepily paternalistic, strangely leering, self-righteous rage that has him violating the law on any minority who gets in his way, and all of that leads... here?  It's a grave anti-climax for so masturbatory a movie.  I mean, sure, what are you going to do once it turns out his daughter has been kidnapped and raped repeatedly, but in that case, why have the groping at all?  Was that to justify the abuse that would be heaped on his daughter?  It just doesn't add up, no matter what direction you work the equation.  Are they saying that it's okay if the ethnic person who made you angry gets a pass, as long as you vent your rage at other people of an ethnicity with a superficial likeness?  The evidence supports it. 

I also found it a little disturbing that they minimized the crime against Rita by putting her in the position of sucking it up to keep everyone happy.  Granted, no good could have come of it and Bronson's reaction would certainly be disproportionate, but that kind of supports my point.  Why is a teen aged girl the one who's expected to be restrained and mature while her father continues to walk the city streets vomiting hate and anger?

At least their super-classy gifts from the inscrutable Orient set up another totally subtle visual metaphor with a porcelain doll cutting to Fumiko.

Aaron:  The Japanese Daughter kills herself with an overdose (thank god they showed some restraint and did not have her use a samurai sword).

Bronson tracks down Duke with help from a hand printed Japanese lithograph clue from the daughter.  No, I not making that up.

Tim:  Is that a Laserdisc thing?  In the version I saw, it was a poem that provide the hai...clue?  Calligraphy, perhaps.  Anyway, anyone not-Bronson would recognize immediately that the poem was about Duke hiding out on a ship in the harbor.  Anyone Bronson take a few days because he blew it off as weird foreign shit until the girl died.

Down at the docks, Bronson and Sleazebag Duke face play the most dick-measuring round of the Staring Game I've ever seen -- until Duke's boy drops a giant metal claw on Bronson's fine American automobile.  In a thoroughly undignified death, Buddy Cop is gored by the claw, leaving Bronson free to work even further outside the law.  He climbs up the claw before Stooge #9 can drop the car, and finally gets to tear into that bottomless ammo cylinder.  Ahhh, sweet release...
Aaron:  Bronson hangs off the claw and kills the operator, making it lose control over the whole area; running into power lines and a warehouse, creating a good old-school destroy-a-huge-section-of-the-ozone-non-CGI-kind series of explosions . Duke drives into the brink and announces that he can not swim. 

Tim:  As we all did, at one time or another in the 70s and 80s.  Listen, kids, y'all don't even KNOW.  We used to drive cars off of docks on week nights, then blow them up on weekends.  It was a wasteland of burned out car husks.  All those cars in the harbor are why we have global warming now.  Sorry.  At least that's how the video playback of my memories have recorded it.  Maybe it was my memories of video playback.

I gotta say, after all the idiotic things I saw Duke do throughout this movie, I question the judgment of asking Bronson for help most of all.   The Bronson Fan's head must reel with the possibilities here.  Bronson has Sleazebag at his mercy.  Oh so many ways to murder and/or violate him...

He DID come to party.
Aaron:  Bronson delivers Duke to a jail that might just as well have had a neon sign above the entrance with the words "Anal Rape R Us."

Tim:  Hey!  Danny Trejo!

Aaron:  Standard prisoner (in truth & fiction) and staple of any grind house film, Danny Trejo taunts Duke, "I got something big and long for you!"  I do not think it his resume either.

Tim:  It's on his IMDb page.  Danny did a few Cannon films early on, but with his first on-screen credit coming from one of Cannon's respectability projects (Runaway Train), Kinjite wasn't just a step down; it was a rude kick down a broken staircase.

Bronson states his intention to let Duke receive the same kind of "attention" as the girls he was running.  The reality of the situation ("Trial? We don't need no steenking trial.") finally starts to dawn on Duke, and he begs and pleads to Bronson for mercy.  Again, what the hell is this guy thinking?  But ohhh what sweet release for all the vengeance boners in the house tonight.  The desperate pleas crescendo behind Bronson as Duke meets his new roommate...

Aaron:  As Bronson walks away he declares, "That's Justice!"

Tim:  This is a strange yet pleasurable new sensation for people who are unused to taking pleasure in change, but the thought of Sleazebag Duke getting familiar with the "seat of justice" is a tantalizing variation on the standard "dead-in-the-gutter-dead" payoff that the fans expect.  Maybe it's the "kinder, gentler" version of "Bronson Justice," you know, given that this movie was so sensitive about the subject of sexual assault.

Aaron:  In this film Bronson is the deliverer of  hell to Duke through consistent anal rape until he is traded for half a pack of stale Kools and the whole cycle starts over.  Like Norm McDonald says, "You're really not getting sentenced to five years in prison.  You're getting sentenced to five years of anal rape."

Tim:  Gruh.  Disturbing.  And yet, a new way for Bronson fans and the State of Texas to achieve full release.

Let me just call back Bronson's earlier enthusiasm for man-on-man rape, as pointed out by Aaron.  In the first scene, he rapes a perp with a dildo.  Later, he fantasizes about shoving something up Duke's dook-chute but has to settle for oral because he doesn't want to catch anything.  And finally, he gets to have that warm feeling inside every night when he lays in bed thinking about Duke getting a warm feeling inside every night as the personal full-time codpiece for the Biggest Blackest Yard Bull in San Quentin.

I think I'm starting to see where he gets all that anger...


Aaron:  This is a disappointment in term of a typical Cannon/Bronson film.  Given the high body count in his other films, this could be a after school special in terms of kills.   In many of Bronson's films (Death Wish, 10 to Midnight) sex is used not in a flashy or appealing way.  Some use rape to a disturbing level as a plot device (especially in Death Wish 2, which has a harrowing and deeply unwatchable rape scene of a young disabled girl). In this film you do not get to see most of the sex (truth be told the count is: two sets of boobs, an ass and a bush shot) but that seemed to be forced as if it was written in just to appease the audience (and it did 'cause I like boobs). 

Tim:  I only noticed the butt since it just sort of hung around in the middle of Bronson's ass-kicking at the porn shoot.  By that point I was so deeply turned off by pretty much all of humanity that I didn't even care.

Why I oughta...!
Aaron:  The other thing I find really not right is whenever Bronson plays a father.  It just does not feel normal. Like a robot playing a human. Many times he seems uncomfortable and just plain isn't warm enough to act like he is a family man. In many of his films the main reason that he has a family is to provide [him] with [an excuse for] vengeance later on, after something bad (death or rape or rape/death) happens to them, allowing Bronson to become a killing machine without any [conscience] or control.  In this way this film reminded me of a slightly more interesting version of Taken but, truth be told, paint drying in slow motion is a better version of any Taken films. Take my advice and watch Death Wish 3, the original Death Wish (which, truth be told, is not a Cannon film but one of Bronson's best performances) 10 to Midnight, The Evil that Men Do and Messenger of Death.  They provide a much better consistent delivery of what you want from a Bronson/Cannon film and it not people drinking tea and talking about their servants.

Tim:  I find your familiarity with Bronson's body of work disturbing.  I MIGHT check out Death Wish 3 (for the extremity), and then I'm getting as far away as I can from this shit.

In Taken's slight defense (I think I saw two of them), they have vastly better action, and even if they're totally disposable, at least they stay in the mental waste bin once you're done with them.  Kinjite has been crawling out of the trash, trying to hump my leg for the entire week since I watched it.

For a movie that features molestation, prostitution, abduction, slavery, drug overdose, murder, rape, rape and more rape, the one who ends up the most violated is the viewer.  Kinjite is a film so absolutely seedy and unsavory that it took three showers and Pitch Perfect for me to wash the sensation of a greasy residue off of me.  I felt like I'd been teabagged by this movie, after it had worked the docks all afternoon... in summer... in Texas ...and had fish tacos from an unregulated food cart for lunch.

One of the two most disturbing aspects of the whole movie was the perversely exaggerated patriarchal paternalism of Bronson-as-father.  It's obvious that this is the kind of man who can't have a healthy relationship with his daughter because he doesn't see her as a whole person, but one that he sees it as his job to mold into the shape of his choosing (specifically, one who never does anything that he'd be uncomfortable thinking about her doing -- and he cannot STOP himself from thinking about it).

From the first scene where he goes after Orange County with the dildo; he associates the hooker with his daughter (not that he knows she's a hooker, mind you, it's just the thought he can't handle).  Later, when he's interviewing her, he keeps trying to tell her all the stuff that Duke did to her, roping her into that life.  Count by count she corrects him, explaining that all those things; the rape, the drugs, the abuse, all began before she met Duke.  It's a weird glimmer of the real world, and Brosnon can't hear it.  I swear, there were times when I started to wonder if the writer were somehow crafting a super-elaborate satire that no one else in the chain of production would be in on.  Everyone in the movie knows that Bronson is a racist, misogynist asshole, but the movie doesn't.

Bronson continually projects his own issues onto others, and someone must have beaten the living shit out of his character as a kid.  Several times, he reduces women to the role of feeble naifs.  They're not allowed thoughts, feelings, experiences or opinions of their own; just the ones he clears for them -- and the only role he seems to approve of for them is dainty, frilly princesses who (if Bronson can keep 'em from gettin' all ruined-up with the rapin') will one day fulfill their destinies as blindly supportive wives to other violent throwbacks.  The best line for summing this up is his histrionic exchange with the Chief after his daughter's gropisode.

Bronson:  Captain, this bag of shit is running little girls -- BABIES!!!

At this point, his usual cold-fish persona gives away to quavering panic.  From his perspective, he's trying to make a point with a cheap, emotionally-charged exaggeration that depicts his protectivity.  Of course it's SO knee-jerk and exaggerated that it looses meaning, instead painting him as irrational, immature, and transparently manipulative.

This kind of exaggeration comes up again in the world in general.  While Salary Man wanders the streets of what appears to be Times Square in LA, a porn theater barker tries to seduce him in with promises of girls as young as nine.  The vastly exaggerated specter of urban crime is the core of Bronson's oeuvre.  Take the Bronx of the 1970s -- scratch that -- take the reputation of the Bronx in the 1970s, double it, triple it, quadruple it or multiply by ten, then apply it to every city in America.  Escape from New York was a milder depiction of urban life than most Bronson films in the 80s.  That image, burned in like an afterimage of the sun, has become the basis for so much of what the Tea Party believes and pushes about the non "Real America" America.

Well,I had 3/5 of a grip on him...
And that brings us to the second most disturbing aspect of Kinjite: the racism.  Like the misogyny, the racial bigotry is treated as justifiable and complementary to Bronson's supposed heroism.  Yes, the cast is ethnically diverse, but rather than showing the possibilities of a world of differences, here they're merely used to show the range of threats allayed against you -- I mean, "you" if you you're white.  If you're not white, you know all about the threats from your conspiracy meetings.  Bronson endures the presence of Latinos, African Americans, an Asian Indian, and all the Japanese you can fit into a subway car, but he felt so penned in without being able to kill every last one of them.

Isn't it curious that the same people who want to claim that there IS not police violence or police racism are the same one who would devour this movie with a bent spoon.  Kinjite says "Sure there's violence and racism... but it's all super justified!"

Aaron:  Truth be told, my biggest problems re-watching this film is that I fought the urge to crack open a tall boy Tecate as a witness the Cannon Logo coming up. It is the official sound that should follow in great unison every time the Cannon Logo music ends in the theater or Laserdisc viewing.


Tim:  I appreciate that you're willing to meet these things on common ground, Aaron.  I just don't have that much compromise in me.  In Bronson's case, it's almost exactly like negotiating with terrorists.

But in the interest of "saying something nice," I have to say that ordinarily I really hate the cheesy synthesizer soundtracks of low-budget 80s fare.  In Kinjite, I found the inappropriately bouncy, Casio Asstone IV, too-banal-for-porn noisetrack to be the least seedy thing about the movie, so, somehow, that's a really impressive compliment.

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects is a relic from a terrible time that never was.  It's the propagandist version of history from the alternate universe in which Republicans imagine they live.  Let us never speak of this Subject again.

Aaron McAbee had certain things presented to him at a early age that defined him.  One was a much too young viewing of Ken Russell's Altered States.  Another was reading Danny Peary Cult Movies Vol One (he still holds the record for checking that out from the King County Library).  He mourns the closet multiplexes with the paper thin walls and oblivious ticket takers (except for that time he tried to sneak into Scarface at the Aurora Cinema 123). He ask questions such as "Why can people watch a Baseball game that goes on for hours but bitch and complain when a film runs over two hours?"
Proud owner of Kinjite (the) Forbidden Subject on Laserdisc.  He collected for over 20 years and when they stopped making them, acquired many collections from friends, old customers from the various video stores he worked, craiglist and ebay.  No, I do not want any of your disc or players!
Misses the experiences of watching a double feature in a huge theater but try to replicate it by introducing obscure films to friends that they might enjoy.  Hates people who talk during films, hate anyone who text during films.  Sit down and get lost in films.  Don't like it; spare us and leave.

Tim wishes there were more people talking during Kinjite. 

Edited by Tim