Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cannonball Run II (1984)

This movie kicks off much in the same way as the first movie. A white Lamborghini Countach is roaring down a desert highway, the engine throbbing as it tears up the tarmac yet again. It pulls up behind a cop car, teasing it, then blows past it. Next up we see another familiar SPEED LIMIT 55 sign, the Lambo breaks next to it and out jumps Catherine Bach, she obstructs the sign with another so it now reads SPEED LIMIT 155. She jumps back into the Lambo and it screeches off into the distance, cop car in tow. The chase continues until the Lambo pulls into a construction site and gets its white body colour jet washed off to reveal its original red body colour.


This intro sequence is nowhere near as ultra cool and thrilling as the original movies intro, how could it be when we've seen that idea already. Nonetheless its still a solid intro that still puts many action flicks to shame. Even the stark bold red credits that once again appear, this time with a typical 80's go-faster stripe underneath, look much better than most modern movies CGI credits.

Now I can't sugarcoat the plot here, lets be brutally honest, its exactly the same as the first movie, a shameless rehash. But that rehash does work to a degree because its a new race with new competitors, like a new season of Wacky Racers. This time the Cannonball has been organised by the Sheik (Jamie Farr) from the first movie, who has been ordered by his father to simply win the race, to restore honour to the family name. The main subplot surrounding the main event sees Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. back again but this time they owe a large sum of money to Don Don Canneloni (Charles Nelson Reilly), who is in turn in financial trouble with the mobster Kaplan (Telly Savalas). Together Canneloni's goons (Henry Silva, Alex Rocco, Michael Gazzo and Abe Vigoda) and Kaplan, spent most of the run time trying to stop the Sheik in order to kidnap him for his vast wealth.

This is where the movie pretty much turns into a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon for the most part. There are sequences that have literately lifted straight out of the WB cartoon as the goonish thugs attempt to snatch the Sheik from the race in various harebrained schemes. They fly a chopper with a large magnet underneath to try and pick up the car whilst in motion, they set up a large tripwire-esque trap across the road to stop the car, they use a big claw-like clamp on the front of a car to try and grab the Sheiks car etc...its all pretty childish and cringeworthy to be honest.

As for the race, well back under starters orders this time are of course Reynolds and DeLuise, this time dressed in military garb and driving a limo also decked out in military colours. This time they pick up a pair of dancers dressed as nuns (Shirley MacLaine and Marilu Henner). This sexy duo think the dynamic duo of the Bandit and Captain Chaos could provide them with lots of money (the race winnings).

The sheik is of course back in the race driving another Rolls. Along for the ride with him are his servant played by Doug McClure and Doctor Van Helsing from the first movie again played by Jack Elam. As we know his aim is to win the race hands down, Van Helsing is there to look after him as he has an ulcer.

Making up Needham's automobile Ocean's 11-esque roster again, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin are this time dressed up as cops driving a Chevrolet Corvette. The rat pack is completed later on in the movie as Frank Sinatra joins the race in his Dodge Daytona Turbo because...well to complete the rat pack clearly.

Jackie Chan is also back in what feels like a rehashed role, his character wears virtually the same attire and he's driving another very similar Japanese car, a Mitsubishi Starion. Difference is for comedic purposes his partner is the giant Richard Kiel whose presence also seems to influence more Bond homages. Their car is able to turn into a mini submarine when under the water, plus other predictable gadgets seen before.

This being a Needham/Reynolds race flick (or personal inside joke flick), you can't not have some sexy ladies in skimpy attire driving a smokin' hot supercar. As already mentioned this time its Catherine Bach (minus her Daisy Dukes) and Susan Anton. However, not content with having a white/red Lambo at the start (which they abandon in the desert with its doors open!), they also get through a Merc 300 SL Coupe and a yellow Nova Sterling! Expect many tight ass shots...but do enjoy.

The worst idea in this flick has to be the use of a hideous orangutan that pretends to drive a Cadillac Fleetwood 75, whilst in the back is Mel Tillis and Tony Danza. Dunno if this is the same orangutan that partnered up with Clint Eastwood, don't think so, but the idea I think has been pinched from that Eastwood franchise.

Much like his other Burt Reynolds driven franchise this movie goes exactly the same route, a rehashed sequel. Like the first movie, this was never meant to be a sensible, its a complete parody/spoof/farce of a comedy that serves up yet more larger than life cameos, inside jokes, stereotypes and nods and winks galore. The movie ends with such an outlandish and hokey fight sequence, seriously, every trick in the book and every character is crowbarred into it for no real reason at all. Its like a beat 'em up videogame franchise with every character forced into one game title. Everything is upped to crazy cartoonish levels of mayhem with more in your face stunts and tyre screeching antics, yet there is actually less focus on the vehicle aspect this time I think.

Its not as bad as 'Smokey and the Bandit II', its not a complete and utter virtual remake of its predecessor, there is some fun to be had here admittedly. Of course car porn is evident and appreciated by those inclined, the action is hectic and enjoyable at times and I can't deny that the casting is epic. I loved seeing the Godfather mobsters all together, its cool seeing the rat pack together for the last time, and basically the sheer number of all-star cameos and odd matchups is just intriguing to see. Its lazy for sure, but still manages to keep its head above the waves with pure quirkiness.


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