Written by / 9/09/2016 / No comments / , , , , , ,

KEN NORTON BEATS 'MANDINGO' WITH HIS OWN 'DRUM'

Part of a nifty Asian poster for Steve Carver's DRUM Year: 1976
It would take a miracle to erase the glorious cinematic exploitation of MANDINGO, wherein real life boxing champ Ken Norton plays a "Mandingo Fighting Slave" that his new master trains to death-wrestle other slaves, or perhaps just a more contained followup would do the trick...

Not a sequel but, directed by action-auteur Steve Carver, DRUM is an effectively lean, mean, sparse and vastly underrated vehicle that would have worked with or without making up for the catastrophic predecessor that Quentin Tarantino deemed "The SHOWGIRLS of the 1970's," which would make this exceptional entry, with Norton in the title role, a comeback... Although, being a boxer, where the retirement age is usually young and, after enough punches, brain damage can occur, even a bad movie is a good move, especially when surrounded by great actors such as Warren Oates and Isela Vega, together again two-years after Sam Peckinpah's BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, a bizarre labor-of-love almost as Critically-Ashamed as MANDINGO (for completely different reasons), and unfairly so...

Bring Me the Head of DRUM
They're only in a few scenes together, primarily the setup taking place in her mansion (following a quick Cuban-set montage/backstory) where Oates – as a Slave Trading plantation owner – buys Drum to be a (half black) "Breeder" for what were also referred in MANDINGO as "Suckers" i.e. Babies, sold for a generous profit and wanting to give his immense yet unkempt manor more class, particularly when gold-digging Fiona Lewis moves in with an ulterior (marital) motive beyond spreading proper etiquette...

Meanwhile, stealing scenes with more open sexuality and sly manipulation, is the estate's promiscuous daughter... LASERBLAST blonde starlet Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith... who will do anything to grab hold of Drum's stick (sorry, just had to). After he rejects her numerous advances, she sets her determined, lusty sites on his best friend, Blaze, played by the black acting-ringer herein...

A once hard to find VHS is now a terrific Blu Ray
Cult Film Freak's personal acquaintance and interviewee, Yaphet "The Black Brando" Kotto got the acting bug following a New York afternoon screening of ON THE WATERFRONT: He's the perfect partner for Norton, who, as a real life athlete, looks better than he delivers lines... Yet there's a natural, loose vibe about him, effective enough to care about, and one scene, as Kotto knocks him down during the first half of a brawl – which entails boxing instead of wrestling – is like watching Apollo Creed losing to ROCKY Balboa in the beachy foot race in part III...

Rainbeaux Smith
Back on track: Although DRUM doesn't center entirely on the viciousness of slavery or throwing phrases around as if they were commonplace, it deals primarily with a seemingly idyllic homestead in complete disarray, Drum an even-keeled part of it, all leading to a hands-on mutiny that seems as if the slaves, following Kotto's instigating "Fletcher Christian" lead, had screened MANDINGO hours earlier.

Norton with Kotto... FILM SCORE: ***1/2
Warren Oates is good, of course, though not his usual great, and, like Perry King as Norton's previous owner, he's able to be as vulnerable as he's racist, which, to him, is simply part of the job (plus, compared to Royal Dano's truly harsh slave trader, Oates is Mickey Mouse): And for a man who "Doesn't seem to know any better," he learns a prolonged lesson: first through a risqué in-house melodrama and then the literally explosive finale. Meanwhile, a creepy, all-encompassing villain in a bi-sexual Frenchman, played by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA double-crosser John Colicos, gives Norton, and the audience, someone to truly despise. Yet what our titular hero holds back is everything; his expressions speak historic volumes... And it's great Ken had this chance to prove his abilities, which, sadly, didn't last long since, especially at this point, the Blaxploitation genre (where he made a terrific hero) was pretty much dead and gone, ironically caused by Organizations like the NAACP, putting many of their own out of work in movies where, albeit full of cliches, some incredible talent (like Kotto in BONE) had derived and flourished: More proof that the party poopers aren't always narrow-minded, letter-writing church mice!
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Featured Post

TOM COURTENAY GETS CHASED THROUGH ENGLAND AS 'OTLEY'

Tom Courtenay as Gerald Otley escapes another close call in OTLEY Year: 1969 At the crest of the 1960's counter-culture, OTLEY was t...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

FOR TELEVISION REVIEWS

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "A husband is a sticky commodity, my dear." Rod Steiger to Julie Christie, Doctor Zhivago

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

MOVIES 1)THE FEARMAKERS 2)JAWS 3)LOCAL HERO 4)THE CROWDED SKY 5)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 6)VIOLENT SATURDAY 7)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 8)CANYON PASSAGE 9)FALLEN ANGEL 10)HOT CARS 11)CURSE OF THE DEMON 12)HARDCORE 13)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 14)SHARKS' TREASURE 15)IN HARM'S WAY 16)SWEENEY TWO 17)EASY LIVING 18)THE ROARING TWENTIES 19)AIR PATROL 20)THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 21)THE SERGEANT 22)OTLEY 23)AL CAPONE 24)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 25)ASH WEDNESDAY 26)DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS 27)SORCERER 28)MY BLOOD RUNS COLD 29)THE DEFECTOR 30)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 31)WICHITA 32)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 33)CANYON RIVER 34)MADISON AVENUE 35)THE SHARKFIGHTERS

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)JACK NICHOLSON 5)ORSON WELLES 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)VICTOR MATURE ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)SUE LYON 3)GENE TIERNEY 4)MERRY ANDERS 5)FAYE DUNAWAY DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)OTTO PREMINGER 4)STANLEY KUBRICK 5)ORSON WELLES 6)JOHN CARPENTER 7)MAURY DEXTER 8)JOHN GUILLERMIN 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH GREATEST FILMS EVER MADE 1)THE GODFATHER PART II 2)GOODFELLAS 3)THE GODFATHER 4)LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 5)CHINATOWN 6)CLOCKWORK ORANGE 7)JAWS 8)PSYCHO 9)RAGING BULL 10)MIDNIGHT COWBOY

SCIENCE-FICTION STUFF

Popular This Month

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

STARING INTO THE SIXTIES

ENTER THE SUE LYON CAGE

All Time Popular

BLASTING TO THE EIGHTIES

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE