14 February 2011

Future Force

United States - 1988
Director - David A. Prior
Worldvision Home Video, 1993, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 30 minutes
(also starring Robert Tessier of Starcrash)

I have never fully understood the cult popularity of David Carradine. I see it being related to him as himself, the David Carradine persona that developed later in his career, rather than any outstanding ability. I have always appreciated Carradine as a litmus test for the quality of film I prefer, something that in my opinion changed for the worse as his cult status grew. Carradine’s name on a film virtually guarantees that it is going to be a laughable piece of shit, but I for one am alright with that. What? You thought I was being critical of this whole situation? I actually appreciate it because it makes a shitty movie so much more enjoyably ludicrous when David Carradine is in there trying to be a badass or tough guy character that he clearly isn’t. It wasn’t until he stopped “acting”, when he began being cast simply as David Carradine, that he started to get boring.

Future Force is a case in point. Carradine operates as the lead in a movie in which he is clearly outclassed in nearly every way by the supporting characters. Together they are all members of C.O.P.S., or the Civilian Operated Police Systems, which as we are all aware is what the police already are. However, in the opening narration we are told that just before the beginning of the film the C.O.P.S. pulled society back from the brink of violent social collapse. In the not-too-distant dystopian 1991 of Future Force, the near-unraveling and subsequent reconstitution of society facilitated by C.O.P.S. has erased any memory of the pre-apocalyptic public law enforcement you and I know. In 1991, that shit is a novelty worthy of acronymic boasting.

Yeah well, who does your hair?
Yet closer inspection of this visual smorgasbord reveals little evidence of any recent social calamity. In fact, the disorder which the C.O.P.S. are ostensibly there to deter repeatedly finds them at its center. In the background, society appears to be functioning quite normally and without any apparent need or even awareness of the C.O.P.S. existence. Their interaction with the peripheral public at large consists primarily of blatantly contradicting their stated mission to “police” or to be “civilian operated”. Furthermore, the C.O.P.S. are a spicy blend of typically "anti-establishment" social stereotypes including but not limited to punks, bikers and rednecks with a dash of leatherman thrown in there for fun. Considering the hard evidence then, C.O.P.S. is looking more like a roving band of undesirables than pillars of the community. So actually, this whole narrative explanation sounds remarkably like a story C.O.P.S. themselves concocted to excuse their dysfunctional behavior.

"I'm tired, where's craft services?"
Amongst the various muscular, mulleted and teeth-grindingly macho members of the C.O.P.S. is one graying skinny guy with a potbelly and a bowlcut. His name is Tucker (indeed, Carradine), and while the rest of the “force” usually carries modern assault rifles, he comes equipped with a six shooter and a blank stare. Despite this totally insignificant disparity in physical attributes, Tucker is the master of every situation he finds himself in. When a new mission comes in he is the first C.O.P. to be called on, and when he becomes the target of his fellow “officers” he out-everythings every single one of his beefy, grunting rivals.

We can begin to see now why the acronym doesn’t match the reality. The complete lack of “social chaos” outside the immediate vicinity of the C.O.P.S. themselves reveals the premise as an elaborate live action role playing game set in a near-future dystopian fantasy realm as imagined by the P.C.s. (Player Characters) Furthermore, Tucker uses the videophone in his Jeep Cherokee to speak with his friend Billy, a kid in a wheelchair who runs the C.O.P.S. central computer system. Billy provides Tucker with secret super weapons and all the information he needs to defeat and/or evade the other C.O.P.S. Thus Tucker's inexplicable “superiority” over his obvious betters in this context is revealed; he is in collusion with the G.M. (Game Master) and is what they call in role-playing parlance, a “cheater”.

Wanted: For taking all the fun out of the game.


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I think the key to Carradine's cult popularity, at least from my mind, is a lot of us grew up watching him on Kung Fu. Seeing a recognizable face in a B-Movie is always great, and from there it just kind of grows.

The Goodkind said...

Yes, I gathered that to some extent but my commentary on Kung Fu was deleted from an early draft of this. I never watched it so I don't know but being in the early part of his career, I suspect that he was better than in Future Force.

Ty said...

Nice write-up. Looks like the usual AIP silliness. One of these days, will take a look.