Tuesday, June 26, 2018

B-Movie Review: "Rolling Vengeance" (1987)

Redneck drunk drivers killed his family … so now he’s gonna’ exact revenge on ‘em using a homemade monster truck with a giant drill penis.


By: Jimbo x
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

You know something I really, really miss? 1980s vigilante action movies.

We’re talking Death Wish II, III and IV. We’re talking Cobra, we’re talking 10 to Midnight and you better believe we’re talking Savage Streets. Sure, sure, a whole lot of them were flat-out terrible (ever seen The Exterminator 2 or 1990: The Bronx Warriors?), but a surprisingly high number of them weren’t just entertaining B-movies, some of them — like Fighting Back — even teetered on the verge of being legitimately great movies. And then there are flicks like Stand Alone, which I honestly, genuinely, unironically consider to be one of the absolute best movies of the entire decade.

With Donald Trump getting elected POTUS and synthwave aesthetics coming back into vogue, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the once-dead subgenre springs back to life (you know, pending Hollywood ever grows a set of cojones, which, let’s face it, probably ain’t gonna’ be happening anytime soon.) Even now I’m not entirely sure what it is about movies of the like that make them so comfy, but they just plain are. Is it the vengeful undercurrent of unremorseful, Reaganomics-era white rage? The deliciously anti-P.C. counter-fascistic thematic tones? That weird, still kinda’ reassuring sense of hyper violent conservative-tinged moralizing? Whatever the case may be, movies of the like are entertaining and enjoyable as all hell even WHEN they’re substandard dreck.

Well, 1987’s Rolling Vengeance is a formula film that straddles a very fine line between being exceptional B-movie fare and almost legitimately good cinema. It’s hokey and corny and degenerate enough to appeal to the midnight wacko set, but it’s also filmed so surprisingly well — with way better than average cinematography and acting — that you kinda’ have to wonder how great of a motion picture these people could’ve made had the budget been more than $13 Canadian. But even as is this is a really fun genre offering, and one that’s well going out of your way to experience if you really miss trips to the video store and/or voting for Ronald Reagan.

The flick begins innocuously enough, with these two guys in semi-trucks using their CB radios to tell each other they’re full of shit. Then one of them clips a mechanical wheat thresher and he tells the other one to “eat his shorts.” Meanwhile, a generic power ballad with the chorus “driving all day, driving all night” plays in the background, and unfortunately, it is catchy as all fuck.

So they drop off their delivery of Jack Daniels and Budweiser, except the driver ain't too good and he can't back the thing up and he loses a couple of boxes on the dock.

Then we meet Ned Beatty, wearing a leather jacket and rocking  a Wolverine haircut, who’s the owner of a trashy honkytonk. He gets visited by a bunch of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers advocates who call his business "disgusting." Oh, by the way, he's also a used car salesman AND the owner of a strip club. Fuck, how many scumbag stereotypes can you fit into one character, guys?

Next, we've got a pair of two Canadian rednecks in pickup trucks drunk driving and throwing beer bottles at the windshield of the semi-truck. Which, I know, doesn't make any damn sense ... why would stark-raving mad alcoholics just waste booze like that?

So we learn that the cigar chewing older trucker is actually the dad of the younger truck driver who has a quick temper and can't figure out why they HAVE to make deliveries to so many miscellaneous assholes. His name is "Big Joe Rosso," and the name of his truck driving operation, naturally, is "Big Joe Rosso and Son." Then they have a birthday celebration for the youngest child in the family (dude's get three kids, by the way) and then the girlfriend of Joey (the son) shows up and they make out a little. So he takes her for a ride in his dad's new big rig and they drive by that one dude's liquor store and they talk about how much they hate that spirits-serving motherfucker. Then the little girl asks her dad when she's going to grow boobs the size of Dolly Parton's (no, really) and then she asks her pa to play her a  music box. Then Joe and his wife have a discussion about how they want Joey to go to college instead of becoming a truck driver. Then he tells his wife "god damn it, I like you," which is certainly something every woman one day dreams of hearing from her man.

If you're looking for a good video game pairing with this movie, might I recommend Double Axle?

We cut to the ruffians who work at the liquor store, who unsurprisingly, are getting drunk as fuck and 'rasslin. As it turns out, Ned Beatty has his *own* disappointing son (actually, about four or five of them) so it looks like we've got some narrative parallelism going on here, don't we? Next up, Joe's wife and his youngest daughter go for a drive, and then the drunk ruffians start throwing beer bottles at HER car and then they break into her ride and then threaten to rape her so it's time for our first car chase of the movie. (An aside: I just noticed the kid is wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers cap. Is that some sort of trick to make audiences think this shit is happening in America? If so, they probably should've taken greater measures to obscure he license plates that clearly read "Ontario" on them.)

Well, irony is a motherfucker, so the wife and kid end up getting creamed by, you guessed it, Joey's truck. Cue the triple funeral, as Joe and Joey mourn the loss of their entire household. Joey tells his girlfriend "he feels kind of empty now." Then the dad goes into his little girl's room and listens to that music box play and he cries very manly tears.

Cut to that trashy ass liquor store/dive/whorehouse, which apparently holds about 200 customers at a time. The owner chews out the regulars for killing what's her name and his kids, but like you'll pay attention because there's this one broad with HUGE knockers shaking her milk cans directly behind him the entire scene.

Then the redneck ruffians are on trial for vehicular homicide, or manslaughter, or something else like that. Fuck, the lawyer looks like Christopher Reeves. It's uncanny, really. Anyway, the judge only fines them $300 and Joe yells "they ought to be strung up by their balls" and the judge says he can sue them in civil court and the rednecks LITERALLY let out a "yee-haw!" after the judge bangs the gavel. Then Joey tells one of them "he drives like he has a firecracker up his ass"  and then Joe and Joey go the dive and order two beers and one of the rednecks pours a beer on Joey's head and yep, that leads to an all our barroom brawl battle royale. Then the bar owner comes in with a shotgun and starts blowing holes in the roof and then Joe, Joey and their hitherto unmentioned pal Steve grab the dude's gun and vamoose on out of there.

Then the rednecks come up with a new plan to exact revenge ... they stand on an overpass and throw fucking cinder blocks at their trucks. It's a surprisingly effective strategy, which results in Joe's truck flipping over. Although in critical condition, he appears to survive, while his son vows to "get the bastards."

Time for a montage of Joey digging through a dump and welding shit while a song that sounds like a very slowed down version of "War Machine" by Kiss called "Coming Up On You This Time" plays in the background. Well, five minutes later, that motherfucker has his own homemade Grave Digger, and then ... time for more titties at the dive.

So, naturally, the very first thing Joey uses his monster truck for, of course, is steamrolling EVERY single used car in the bar owner's car lot. And oh yeah, that shit is ALL kinds of satisfying to witness. Also, it just dawned on me how much the bar owner looks like Archie Bunker, which makes everything that happens in the movie about 15 times funnier by default.

Then Joey and his girlfriend play tonsil hockey some more, then they make sweet love by a roaring fire. And the lighting is all ghostly, too, so it's kind like watching two poltergeists bump uglies.

The next morning, a whole bunch of MADD protestors are at the bar. The owner surveys the damage to his used car lot and his redneck brethren comment on how most of the tires are still good. The sheriff asks the bar owner if he has any enemies and he says "nobody since the Gooks." Then when the cop asks him how he hurt his arm, he tells him he tripped over his own dick in the shower. Goddamn, do I miss the 1980s.

Now the owner is all kinds of liquored up, and he tells one of his sons his mama was a straight up slut and then some of the rednecks grab their shotguns and start chasing after Steve's truck at night. And that's when Joey  shows up to make the save in his custom-made killing machine. He runs over one dude (flattening him like a pancake in the process) and uses a drill apparatus impale and then crush another motherfucker.

LOL at Steve's last name being Tyler. Also, LOL at the sheriff looking like Mike Pence, too. Back at the bar, the owner curses at the rednecks for not praying before they eat and shoves potato salad in their faces. Then the owners says they've got to kill Joe and Joey or else he'll kill THEM himself and then they have a team prayer to "help get the low-life sons of bitches" that killed their two drinking buddies. And instead of Amen, he concludes the oration to the Almighty with the refrain "fuckin' A, we need more potatoes out here."

Guns don't kill people ... guys in gigantic, unrealistic, highly improbable homemade monster truck death machines kill people.

Then the rednecks (you know they're rednecks because one of them is wearing a rebel flag tank top) decide to sexually molest Joey's girlfriend, because all is fair in love and war ... especially rape. Of course, it's only a matter of time before Joey hops in his big rig and starts chasing after the no-good white trash that defiled his gal pal. Some more trucks get turned into paperweights and then this one Okie gets splattered in a cornfield while this really triumphant, SNES-sounding music plays in the background and it is glorious. Also, I love how ALL of the death scenes in this movie are in slow-motion. I mean, if you're going to show a guy having his guts busted within the treads of a homemade tank, you might as well be able to savor the moment, shouldn't you?

So Joey chases another rube through an abandoned warehouse and winds up splattering his ass while he's locked inside this makeshift office. Then a TV crew asks the sheriff if he finds it just a little suspicious that all these people getting killed by monster trucks are all related to the bar owner. I mean, shit, it's gotta' be pretty hard to hide something like a homemade killdozer ... even as protectionist good old boys, you'd think SOMEBODY would've at least paid Joey and pals a visit, eh?

Then the sheriff visits Joey at the hospital and tells him he knows he's the one monster trucking everybody to death and he politely asks him to stop murderizing everybody and he'll leave him be. Then Joey's dad FINALLY dies. He tells his girlfriend to go home and he starts rushing towards the exit. Well ... I guess you can figure where this is headed.

The bartender is holed up in his dive, swigging Jack and brandishing a shotgun and just waiting for any nearby monster trucks to come smashing through his front door. His last surviving son is also drunk as shit and he starts crying because his daddy doesn't think he's tough and that's our cue for an impromptu demolition derby. Only this time, the po-po is waiting for the monster truck to show up, but even by then Joey has pretty much torn half of the bar asunder. But then the bartender’s sole surviving son shoots the cop AND STEALS THE MONSTER TRUCK! Oh fuck, that is a brilliant twist of fate right there.

The musically literally turns into the boss theme from Altered Beast and then the bartender's son uses the truck's penile-like drill to chase after the girlfriend, who is stuck in a very womb-like canal. Joey manages to smoke the bartender's son out of the machine and then it's time for some kung fu, complete with Joey hitting that motherfucker with some Wanderlei Silva-like knees to the noggin. The girlfriend narrowly avoids getting her uterus scrambled by her boyfriend's redneck skewering apparatus, and we cut to an ambulance where the sheriff is alive and well after all. Then a deputy pins the monster truck deaths on the bartender's son, and Joey and his girl walk off into the early morning sun while some sappy love ballad plays in the background. And yep ... that's all she wrote, folks.

It truly is a happy ending ... even though literally everyone they love is dead. And she just got raped by an STD-ravaged hillbilly. And he's probably going to go to jail for the rest of his life for killing like, six or seven people.

In case you were wondering, the flick was directed by a guy named Steven Stern, whose filmography primarily consists of Canadian made-for-TV movies with names like Camp Grizzly and Murder in Space, but he’s probably best known for helming Mazes and Monsters, that one TV movie starring Tom Hanks as a guy who plays so much D&D it literally drives him insane. The writing credit belongs to this fella named Michael Montgomery, who produced a couple of episodes of BeetleBorgs and Masked Rider, but that’s about it.

Lead actor Don Michael Paul went on to become a veteran TV actor, with recurring roles on shows like Models Inc. and The Hat Squad. And if “Big Joe” looked familiar, he should. He was played by character actor Lawrence Dane, who has been in everything from The Red Green Show to Scanners to Bride of Chucky. And of course, Ned Beatty is Ned freakin’ Beatty, whose oeuvre includes such all-time classics as Deliverance, White Lightning, Back to School and Toy Story 3, among tons of other movies.

All in all, I’d consider Rolling Vengeance to be a pretty entertaining little vigilante action thriller. The whole “monster truck” gimmick certainly makes it stand out from the deluge of Death Wish wannabes from the epoch, and at times, it almost takes on a slasher-like atmosphere … only instead of Michael Myers, you’ve got a dude sneaking around in a 15-foot-tall automotive monstrosity that literally spews fire.

It’s corny and cheesy at times, but I really dug the rawness and roughness of the plot. It’s so unsavory and so nihilistic, and at the end of the day nobody really walks out of the picture morally unscathed. That’s not to say the flick gets all high and mighty on us, but it is nonetheless refreshing to see a contemporary genre flick hit us with a somewhat unconventional ending.

It’s fun and grimy and scummy and violent and cynical, playing out like a darker, more jaded iteration of Walking Tall. The whole monster truck motif could’ve resulted in the movie becoming a self-parody, but to their credit the filmmakers play the whole thing 100 percent serious, and for that it never becomes tedious or unengaging.

It’s not for all tastes, but if you’re a serious vigilante action enthusiast — or hell, anybody who misses the Cannon Film Group — Rolling Vengeance is right up your alley. Calling it a genre classic might be a stretch, but it’s certainly way better than it probably had any right to be; and really, just how many movies are there out there in movie land that’ll quench your thirst for slow-motion mass death by vulcanized rubber?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Revisiting Pride FC 3 from 1998!

Featuring Emmanuel Yarborough being fat, Kazushi Sakuraba making Carlos Newton look like a jabroni and Nobuhiko Takada actually WINNING an MMA fight … kinda’!


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

Our all-encompassing, whirlwind tour of every single Pride FC show ever continues with a look back at Pride 3, held June 24, 1998 in … a surprise, I know … Tokyo. Goddamn, even ECW managed to leave Philadelphia every now and then, you homestuck rice-eatin’ muthafuckahs.

Up first it's Akira Shoji vs. Daijiro "Shunsuke" Matsui. Our hosts, as always, are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten. This time around, we're calling this shit LIVE (from 20 years ago) from the famous NIPPON BUDOKAN, which yes, IS the very same venue where Cheap Trick recorded their live album.

Yeah, I can't tell these two guys apart. Rutten has me laughing my ass off already with his comments about "samurai spirits" and shit. And LOL at Quadros describing Sakuraba as "an up and comer," which wasn't necessarily funny at the time, but in hindsight is goddamn hilarious. Rutten questions whether or not black is technically a color and Quadros says they are "two young bulls risking at all" and of course, they then proceed to do fucking nothing for the first minute of the fight. Shoji is the one with the 'stache, if that makes it any easier for you. Shoji scrambles and he gets Matsui's back. Now he's pounding his noggin like a pinata. Matsui's torso is hanging out of the ring so the ref has to pull him back in. Matsui throws some crappy looking leg kicks and Quadros comments on the "intensity" in Matsui's eyes. So, of course, he gets taken down instantly by Shoji. Shoji is in the full mount for a few seconds and Matsui hops right back up. "These two men are fighting for the purity of the sport," Quadros says. "I don't think there's anything evil in either of these guys." Wow, way to get all metaphysical and shit, guy. Shoji sprawls and keeps Matsui trapped in the shoulderlock. Matsui's up and Shoji knees him in the head a couple of times. Shoji secures another takedown and he's in the full guard. Rutten is REALLY stretching it when he says this one is "action-packed." Matsui eats canvas again, and Shoji starts punting him like he was trying to make a 45-yard field goal. Matsui goes for a bodylock and Shoji LITERALLY hits him with a shoot version of D'lo Brown's old Sky High finisher. Shoji's on top again and Matsui's peppering him with pillow-soft punches. Now Shoji's landing some FAT punches from the top. Both men are back up. Matsui lands a rinky-dink leg kick. Matsui shoots for a takedown again and Shoji just casually leaps out of the way and that's the bell to let us know the first ten minutes of this fight is over.

Round two. Holy fuck, why HASN'T there been a podcast titled "Who's the Bas?" by now? Quadros says Pride FC is better than the UFC because having a ring means your vision isn't obscured by a cage. Bas is so impressed by how these two guys are "constantly moving." There's this great moment where Shoji has Matsui in a bodylock and he rolls him over and somehow winds up in the full mount. Matsui is up and THROWING BOMBS now. Shoji's keeping his distance. Matsui misses on a sidekick. Now they aren't doing much of shit. Matsui shoots for the takedown, Shoji sprawls and he gets his opponent's back. Shoji starts punching the shit out of Matsui's head and the refs reposition them so Matsui's head isn't poking out of the ropes. Looks like Matsui's going for a desperation leg lock. Shoji hasn't let go of the bodylock though, and he's continuing to punch the fuck out of Matsui's skull. Now Shoji is punching the hell out of Matsui's face from the full mount, then Matsui starts punching upwards and he actually rattles Shoji with an upkick. Shoji is still in the full mount. Matsui has his legs wrapped around his foe's legs, so he ain't going to be doing too much moving. Matsui tries to explode but Shoji doesn't release the headlock. Now Shoji is controlling Matsui from the north-south position. One minute left in the round. Shoji goes for a knee to the head, but even though he gets a lot of hangtime, the impact is minimal. Matsui is up and he's looking for a single-leg takedown. Shoji holds his own, sprawls, and appears to be going for a guillotine. And there's the bell.

Round three. Before the action begins the ref wipes Matsui down with a towel. Quadros says neither man knows the definition of the word "reverse," which makes me very concerned about their abilities to parallel park. Matsui goes for a liver kick and misses by a couple of miles. Matsui tries to rattle off a combo, Shoji trips him and he's right back in the full guard. Shoji pops up and Matsui looks like he's about to shit his pants. Now Matsui is back up. Shoji ROCKS Matsui with a right hand. And then Matsui lands a takedown. Unfortunately, he runs right into a guillotine attempt by Shoji. Matsui's head pops out, so he's safe ... for the moment. The refs reposition them. Why, I honestly don't know. Matsui, somehow, manages to get in the full mount. He's landing some OK-sized shots, but nothing terribly damaging. Rutten keeps saying Matsui should go for a "crossface." Shoji pops up and gets a wild flurry going on, but he misses on pretty much every swing. Matsui shoots for a takedown. Shoji sprawls. God damn, do I love Bas' "bang, bang" sound effects. Shoji misses on another haymaker. Both men vertical. Matsui shoots for another takedown and Shoji pops him in the head a couple of times. Shoji looks like he's going for a guillotine with a minute left. Meanwhile, Matsui's trying to get a last-second ankle crank. Shoji's arms are locked up. He looks like he's about to get up, but yep, there's the bell.

That's called "the eye of the tiger." You know, the tiger that just shit all over itself.

Round four. Wait, I thought these things were only scheduled for three rounds? Holy shit, back in the day Pride LITERALLY made it up as they went along. Shoji lands a knee to the head from the north-south position. Now Shoji's landing some HARD knee shots from side control. He lets Matsui up. The ref checks Shoji's glove and Matsui gets nothing but air on a high kick. Matsui goes for a combo but nothing lands clean. Matsui goes for a baseball slide, of all things, and Shoji just looks at him like he's plum retarded. Shoji kicks the wind as Matsui pulls guard. They're both back up and Shoji connects on some HUGE shots. Alas, Matsui weathers the storm, only to find himself stuck in another headlock from the north-south position. Shoji scrambles Matsui's brains with a wild flurry of punches. Back to the sprawl. Quadros asks Matsui to do another dropkick. Shoji's landing knees from side control again. Now he's backfisting Matsui's head like a bongo. Matsui temporarily pulls guard, but Shoji lets him back up. Three minutes left in the round ... I think. Shoji with another wild flurry and Matsui tries to lock in a guillotine — and then a DDT — on Shoji's massive takedown. Matsui explodes his way out from the bottom, he almost falls out of the ring and the ref gets both men vertical in the middle of the ring. Matsui lands a punch and goes for a takedown. Yep, Shoji sprawls and he's working from side control once more. Shoji has his back. Matsui pulls guard again. He's back up, and Shoji LITERALLY spears him out of the ring. The ref puts 'em back in the middle of the ring, and wouldn't you know it, there's the bell. There are no judges, so this one is deemed a "draw," even though it's obvious Shoji was the aggressor (and dominator) all fight long. By today's standards that was just OK, but for its time it was some intense stuff; I feel a little iffy calling it a "great fight," per se, but it certainly wasn't boring, that's for sure.

Oh god damn, the next fight is Daiju Takase against EMANUEL YARBOROUGH. Yes, that 600 pound motherfucker Keith Hackney beat up back at UFC 3. By the way, the weight differential for this one is a good 400 pounds. Cue Bas Rutten commenting "Oh. My. GAWD." and it's pretty much the funniest thing you'll hear in your life, ever. "You don't want to have this guy mounted or side-mounted on you," Quadros says. I think he's talking about Emmanuel, but I could be wrong. Of course, Quadros brings up that EPIC Hackney fight I mentioned earlier. The one where Emmanuel ate about 80 unprotected shots to the head — and that is NOT hyperbole, kids — before the ref waved it off. "He can suffocate him just by laying on him," Rutten says. "This is like a horror movie," Quadros responds. Takase's offense consists of him LITERALLY running circles around Emmanuel. "This is a good place for a spinning jump kick," Quadros says. Now Emmanuel is on the offensive. Yarborough makes Takase eat the fattest spinning back fist of all-time. Takase continues to jog around Yarborough. Isn't that literally a "yo momma so fat" joke made flesh? Takase does a barrel roll for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Yarborough is blown up from just walking around Takase. Takase with a low kick. Five minutes have expired. LOL at Quadros saying Takase shouldn't go for a spinning back kick because his leg might get caught in Yarborough's flab. I just now noticed Takase has a haircut like Moe from The Three Stooges ... aka, the church shooter special. Emmanuel is sweating so much he looks like a melting Milk Dud. Quadros says Emmanuel is so fat that he literally can't turn around. Rutten jokingly (I think) recommends Takase goes for a takedown. Then Rutten says something about the Japanese having so many earthquakes that they don't really care about them anymore. And that's our cue for Quadros to drop the quote of the millennium — "you know, this is a really silly match." Takase lands a jab to Emmanuel's left titty. Then he lands a kick to Emmanuel's tummy. And that, mercifully, is the end of round numero uno.

Round two. "I don't know if it's a good idea to be this big and to fight," Rutten comments. Yarborough is trying to grab Takase now. Rutten requests a flying side kick, but Takase isn't listening. Takase gets yellow-carded for stalling. Meanwhile, Emmanuel is almost dead from oxygen deprivation, and he's literally done nothing but stand the whole fight. THEN HOLY SHIT TAKASE SHOOTS FOR A SINGLE LEG TAKEDOWN. Yarborough falls into the full mount and he's just vibrating on top of Takase. Quadros says this is like watching Jaws eat Robert Shaw, and that is a PERFECT analogy. Emmanuel looks like he's fallen asleep on Takase's foot. Takase escapes and now he's UNLOADING on Emmanuel's skull. Thankfully, the ref stops this one BEFORE Emmanuel eats six dozen elbows to the brain.

The official time is 5:19 of round two. From a technical perspective, it was a terrible excuse for an MMA fight, but for sheer entertainment value, it was a goddamn riot. DO go out of your way to see this one, kids.

Up next it's Kazushi Sakuraba taking on Carlos Newton. Bas Rutten is out to give Newton and Saku some flowers. He grabs the mic and says he's going to fight Randy Couture later that year and once his contract is up he wants to kick Rickson Gracie's ass. Spoiler: neither of those two things ever happened. Saku with leg kicks early. Carlos shoots for a takedown and secures a bodylock. Newton goes for a judo toss and Saku does a cartwheel to flip into Newton's guard. Saku runs circles around Newton and he locks in an armbar. Newton just BARELY escapes. Fuck, Saku could just plain GO back in the day. Saku almost working from the full mount. Newton goes for a toehold, and then he hops into the full guard. Newton working from the north-south position. He has Saku's back, but for whatever reason he lets Saku escape. Now Saku is threatening the full mount. Saku spins out and goes for another armbar. Newton folds him up like an accordion and Saku hops right back into the full guard. Now Saku is shaking his fist like a rock tumbler, trying to throw Newton off his game. He lets Carlos up. Saku with a very good looking high kick. He whiffs on a follow-up low kick. LOL at the way Quadros pronounces "innovators" — he makes it sound like "anal vapors." Saku flips from side control to the full guard with ridiculous ease. Saku is looking for another toehold. He's got it and Newton is fighting like mad to get out of it. He escapes and he has Saku's back. Newton looking for a choke. Newton with some pillow soft shots to Saku's noggin. Saku shucks Newton off of him and he's back in the full mount. He's working something from side control, but then he goes back to the full guard position. Saku pops Newton from the top with a hard right. Saku momentarily has Newton's back. Now they're both up and trading blows. Saku shoots for a takedown and the bell sounds almost instantly.

Round two. Newton shoots for a takedown. He drags Saku to the mat and has his back. Newton is rolling like crazy all over the ring, all without losing his waistlock on Saku. Newton with a hard knee to the liver. He rocks Saku with a solid right on the ground. Newton working over Saku from the rarely-seen (but certainly effective) doggy-style mount. Saku is holding onto Newton's leg for dear life. They roll and Newton still hasn't relinquished that waistlock. Newton with a barrage of shots from the back, right to Saku's ribs. That looked hurty. Saku flips over into the full mount. Saku with a hard elbow shot from the top. Saku looking for an armbar. He's almost got it. Newton fighting like hell to get out ... and he ESCAPES! Newton has Saku's back now. Five minutes remain in the round. Saku rolls over Newton and he locks in a knee bar ... and just like that, Newton TAPS!

The official time is 5:19 of round two. As impressive as Saku's win over Vernon White was at Pride 2, this was an even bigger statement from Saku, as he pretty much reamed a UFC champion caliber-wrestler out the ass for almost 15 minutes.  Going back and watching these EARLY, EARLY Pride FC shows, it's such a joy watching Saku morph into the MMA legend he would ultimately become. And what's truly amazing is sensing how good he was from even THIS point in his career. Yeah ... if you are an MMA fan, you need to see this one, simply for its historical value.

What the ... a black athlete showing poor sportsmanship? My goodness, what a novelty.

Now we've got Gary Goodridge going one on one with Amir Rahnavardi. Yeah, I've never heard of him, either. Amir, we're told, took this fight on one day's notice. Goodridge, meanwhile, looks like a slightly more caramelized version of Bobby Lashley. Amir with low kicks and a flurry of punches right out the gate, and Goodridge catches him with an uppercut and a ton of knees in the clinch. Amir goes for a hip throw, but uh-oh, Goodridge lands right in the full mount. Whoops. Now Gary is just teeing off on that poor fucker. Goodridge switches to side control, then he hops back into the full guard. Goodridge is RAINING some heavy right hands. Amir tries to tie up his adversary's arms. Gary lands another heavy ass right. To his credit, Amir's defense from the bottom isn't too shabby. Amir hugs up on Gary. Goodridge rattles of some more hard rights to the side of Amir's head. Amir is looking for a kneebar. Oh shit, he almost has it. Gary escapes, and he's in the full mount, with Amir's right leg trapped underneath Gary's girth. Goodridge in side control, folding up Amir like a tortilla. Gary's looking for a keylock, I think. Gary has Amir’s back. He clubs him with another hard right. Amir lobbing punches from the bottom and he just eats them and make Little Richard sound effects to taunt him. OK, that is great. Gary uncorks three or four hard rights from the top and Amir is goddamn OUT.

The official time is 7:22 of round one. In the post-fight antics, Goodridge grabs a trophy and screams like a wild black man and everybody in the audience acts horrified ... for obvious reasons.

Alright, now we turn our attention to Mark Kerr vs. Pedro Otavio, or as he is better known, "who the fuck?" Pedro with low kicks, but he whiffs on the attempted head kick. Kerr lands a facile takedown. He's in the half mount as Pedro struggles to escape. Kerr with a ton of shots to the pancreas. He flattens Pedro out, he locks in a kimura and the ref waves off the fight. But Pedro is SCREAMING that he never tapped, even though Pedro was crying like a bitch during the submission. Well, shit ... he never DID tap out actually. But I guess screaming like a banshee kind of counts as a verbal submission, don't it?

The official time of the stoppage was 2:13 of round one. He really seems to enjoy the trophy they give him for the victory, too.

And that brings us to our main event Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kyle Sturgeon. Yeah, of all the bouts on the card, they picked THIS ONE to close the show. Rutten makes fun of his tan, and Takada ... of course ... gets a huge reaction from the Japaheeno fans. Quadros obliquely says he thinks this is Sturgeon's first real MMA fight. Takada gets dropped by a high kick, and Takada starts rattling off his own low kicks. Sturgeon gets a takedown, but Takada quickly scrambles back to his feet. Takada gets a takedown and he just kind lays there from the full mount. Takada pulls away, he locks Sturgeon in a heel hook and Sturgeon TAPS.

The official time? Just 2:18 of round one. So, yeah, that one was almost assuredly a work.

Thank you, Kyle. Your payoff is waiting for you in an unmarked brown paper bag behind Amir Rahnavardi's locker.

At less than two hours in length, there wasn’t a whole lot to the show, but what was there was very solid. In fact, there wasn’t a bad fight on the entire card, which is something you definitely can’t say about the first two Pride cards.

The Shoji/Matsui curtain jerker was an entertaining, fairly competitive sprint, and it was a fucking pleasure watching Sakuraba and Newton put on a clinic. The Takase/Yarborough affair was fun as fuck even if it was a shameless freakshow fight, Goodridge/Rahnavardi was way better than it had any right to be and the Kerr/Otavio and Takada/Sturgeon squashes were perfectly fine for what they were (and weren’t.) So, all things considered, this was actually a damn good card from top-to-bottom, and on the whole a vast, VAST improvement over the stank-fest that was Pride 2.

There are certainly worse ways to kill a boring Sunday afternoon than rewatching this one — preferably, with a nice pineapple, black olive and pepperoni pizza and a nice, cold glass of Diet Dr. Shasta by your side. It may not be the apex of the fighting form by any stretch, but it’s a rare late 1990s MMA card that doesn’t hit any doldrums whatsoever.

And for that reason alone? Yeah, you should probably go out of your way to see this one.

Buffet Review — Atlantic Buffet (Marietta, Ga.)

What's more American than eating a plate of burritos, sushi, pizza, chicken tenders and ice cream at the same time, anyway?


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com

@JimboX

I believe it was Tocqueville who once said America’s inherent greatness could be found within its churches.

Well, if that fruity Froth were alive today and exploring modern America, surely he’d change his answer to the all-you-can-eat buffet. I mean, is there anything that demonstrates the sheer exceptionalism of the American experience more than being able to eat a virtually endless amount of food while being surrounded by an assortment of really, really fat people of all races and ethnicities?

I’m utterly obsessed with buffets as both a caloric and sociological institution, and thankfully, living in the metro Atlanta area means I’m privy to about a billion of them, ranging from national franchise emporiums of gluttony to bottomless breakfast bars owned by former WCW World Heavyweight ‘rasslin champeens.

Each and every one of them has a certain character and charm all its own, but really, the smorgasbord of foodstuffs is only half the consumer experience. The other side of the equation is the ambiance of the experience, that totally bizarre (and patently American) sensation of eating until you’re about to puke while surrounded by perfect strangers who are also eating until they’re about to puke. Really, going to a buffet in the Deep South is about as close to visiting the Martian bar from Total Recall as any of us are gonna’ get. Sure, we all come for the buckets of fried cheese sticks, butterfly shrimp and brown gravy, but it’s being able to binge and purge while surrounded by people who look like extras from a Frank Henenlotter movie that truly makes the American buffet-going experience such a wonderful rite.

Well, The Atlantic Buffet Sushi and Grill in Marietta represents pretty much everything I love about the local buffet scene and then some.

You’ve got the multiculturalism (drug-addicted white women who weigh 78 pounds breaking bread with 4’8 tall Mexican men, while 300-pound black women from the Caribbean cackle loudly over macaroni and cheese while lanky Cambodian immigrants give them the stank-eye.) Then there’s the deliciously grimy backdrop (it’s situated in a strip mall parking lot that’s half vacant properties and half wandering street urchins named Marley begging you for a loosey.) And, of course, you can’t forget the robust menu (which, as you will soon see, runs the gamut from egg rolls to pizza to enchiladas to ice cream, just like the place was Juwanna Mann’s refrigerator in Friday the 13th Part V.)

But words won’t do us too much good here. Rather, let’s let the photographic evidence speak for its goddamn self, why don’t we?



Before we get into the menu at Atlantic Buffet, I suppose it's only fitting that we'd first examine its aesthetics. The building itself takes up a pretty hefty amount of strip mall space,  maybe about 20,000-30,000 square feet altogether. For a metro-Atlanta buffet in a pretty scummy part of town, it was actually astonishingly clean ... especially considering I stopped by on a weekday afternoon, when you'd expect the crew to be half-assing it like motherfuckers.


As I was saying, the restaurant was way cleaner than anticipated. You couldn't eat off the floors or anything like that, but it was nonetheless nice to walk into the buffet knowing I probably wouldn't get salmonella from simply touching one of their forks. Still, it did have a pretty weird smell to it ...


...which I would attribute to the water fountain located smackdab in the middle of the lobby. You know how fountains at the shopping mall kinda' smell like a mixture of Purex and copper? Well, that is precisely what this one smelled like, too. Granted, you'd have to be pretty close to it to whiff said offending odor, but you have to consider these guys nothing short of ballsy to put an adornment that close to the condiment section.


As far as the architecture, it had a weird seafood restaurant vibe to it, with just a few hints here and there of an Asian influence (i.e., that giant fucking Chinese star behind the cash register.) But then again, with all those jugs of vinegar and paprika laying around everywhere, it also had just a mild country buffet atmosphere going on, too, which — considering the shifting demographics of the metro Atlanta region — can't help but seem just a smidge symbolic.


The furniture is exactly what you would think it would be. Heavily used, slightly tattered, with chipped wooden tables and pleather chairs no doubt caving in from many a buffet eater's suddenly engorged asshole. Still, the floors were a lot cleaner than I'd expect, and however scrubbed off the tables last did a pretty good job ... there were no signs of vomit or discarded wasabi sauce anywhere in my dining area.


Don't even ask what was in the giant hand sanitizer bottle on the left. I didn't check, and I didn't want to check, but I can promise you it wasn't hand sanitizer. Along those same lines, I can only imagine the plebs who walk in and just assume the BBQ and honey mustard pumps are for ketchup and regular mustard and wind up jamming their mozzarella sticks in the "wrong" condiment. I bet they really feel bad about themselves afterwards, huh?


Interestingly enough, only the bottom rack of the pizza containment unit contained pizza (if I remember correctly, it was sausage ... so random, I know.) The things on top were garlic rolls, underneath those were those spinach things you get at Greek restaurants and below that was a different kind of garlic bread ... this one, a little less cooked than the ones on top. Needless to say; these things weren't exactly my favorite selections at the buffet.


Even around 3 p.m. the good stuff was starting to get picked clean. I can't remember what kind of fish they were serving, but apparently it was pretty popular with the locals, since that shit just couldn't stay in stock. As a general rule I don't eat oysters even from ritzy restaurants, so naturally, I didn't even bother with the half-shelled offerings here. Oh, and if you're wondering what's on the plate? It's either a chicken dumpling or a prop from that old David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ. I'll let you decide for yourself which is which.


See, I wasn't bullshitting you about that stuff going fast. These patrons were literally leaving nothing but water behind, which sorta begs the question ... why isn't anyone touching their mac and cheese, exactly?


On the left we have some sort of seafood crabcake/salmon clusterfuck and on the right ... uh, a pot roast, I want to say? I'm not really a big fan of either dishes, so I opted to skip the taste test here ... but not before taking some photographic evidence of the culinary crime scene.


Nothing says "modern America" like burritos at an Asian buffet in a neighborhood that's 80 percent black. What's even more surprising, though? Those things were actually surprisingly decent ... and way more flavorful than anything you'd get at Del Taco, for damn sure.


Now we're getting to the good stuff. Greasy asparagus, Mongolian beef, sesame chicken ... all legitimately yummy Chinese or Japanese or whatever fucking country it's supposed to come from. No jokes here — this fare is simply too delicious to make fun of, so let's keep chugging along, why don't we?


The red stuff is a thick, gooey, chili sauce. The yellow stuff that looks suspiciously like a bucket of piss? Well, that's actually something even grosser ... liquefied butter. I literally gained ten pounds and heart disease just smelling this stuff right here.


From left: cheese quesadillas, greasy zucchini and sauteed mushrooms. I'm not sure which country has that kind of cuisine, but hot fuck, do I want to visit it someday.


All these are raw ingredients reserved for the hibachi chefs. Alas, they're also out in the open and easily accessible to any and all wandering buffet customers ... perhaps you can see where there might be some lawsuit-inducing confusion here. Strangely enough, this seems to be a common practice in Asian buffets throughout Atlanta and its hinterlands; in fact, I don't think I've ever been to a thematic buffet that didn't have the raw ingredient buckets placed absurdly close to the normal buffet fodder.


Speaking of raw food, here's the sushi bar. Long story short, all of this stuff is fucking tremendous and if you have taste buds, you'll probably love it. Hey ... it might be worth the stomach cancer.


This is what I like to call the nominal dessert section. I mean, who the fuck considers gelatin and grapes and cut up bananas with grape shit smeared on them desserts? Thankfully, the good shit was right around the corner ...


... that's an entire fridge of single-wrapped brownies and red velvet cake, kids. I'm not going to tell you precisely how many of those things I had, but I can promise you this: it was more than 17.


But that wasn't the extent of their sweet stuff, though. They also had a cavalcade of cookies (which really isn't that uncommon), but this was the first time I've ever been to a buffet that not only served rice crispy treats, but several different variations. Of course, they didn't have the General Mills Monster Cereals Gangbang Special, but then again, it wasn't Halloweentime when I ate there, either.


As for the ice cream, it was your usual assortment. You had vanilla, rocky road, chocolate and cookies and creme. The stuff was really hard, though, and the scoop was way too small to spoon anything out efficiently without getting your hands in the congealed dairy treat. And no, I have no clue what kind of brands they were, so don't even bother asking.


Whatever it was, though, the ice cream was pretty solid. After cramming down God knows how many milligrams of sodium and downing about three cups of instant coffee during the affair (that's a good trick for frequent buffet patrons — not only does the java curb your appetite a little, it also prevents you from filling up your belly with other liquids, thus allowing you to scientifically cram more food in there) I was in dire need of something cold and sugary. You think I'm joking, but according to my FitBit my heart was hitting about 129 beats per minute just trying to process the maddening surfeit of food I just ate, and even in the middle of freaking winter I was sweating like a whore in church. So, yeah, asides and shit; I really liked the cookies and creme ice cream and you probably will, too.


Let's take a closer look at my own individual dishes, why don't we? The sushi bar is the best place to start, naturally, and as you can no doubt see for yourself, these guys have a TON of variety. The fried thingies with the boom-boom sauce on it was my favorite, but the little wanton packet filled with shredded fish wasn't bad either; that, and I goddamn loved their red pepper paste ... that stuff is just plain exquisite.


And here's a closer look at those aforementioned pork dumplings and Greek spinach buns. They may not look very appetizing in photograph form, but I really enjoyed both offerings, considering they presented two totally diametric gustatory experiences; one was greasy and chewy, the other was flaky and buttery. That's a hell of a combination, really — maybe not "buddy cop movie" duo good, but quite good nonetheless.


Outside of the burrito and cheese-stuffed shrooms, I have no idea what the hell any of this stuff is supposed to be. I think there's some shrimp and chicken fingers in there, though. That orange and yellow thing in the middle, though, could be anything ... and I do mean anything.


Grilled (read: oily as fuck) asparagus buried under more shrimp, Mongolian beef and sesame chicken. If your stomach doesn't start rumbling just looking at this, congratulations on being a.) a vegetarian, b.) a pussy or c.) come to think of it, there's not really much of a difference between a.) and b.), actually.


And we wrap up our whirlwind tour of the buffet's cuisine with the usual subjects; coconut shrimp, crab rangoon and an egg roll. Not that you really need me to tell you this, but this stuff really sticks to your ribs, and I literally gained five pounds over the course of one 60-minute eatin' (I weighed myself before and after, so that is mathematically indisputable, motherfucker.) Even better, I only spent about $8.99 on the whole meal, which is a steal, really, considering I easily ate at least that much in cheese quesadillas alone.


Oh, one last thing. They didn't have a game room with any coin-ops, but they did have a whole bunch of gumball toy dispensers, all of which looked basic as shit. I mean, the NFL stickers are kinda' cool, I guess, but who in the fuck wants a temporary tattoo of a pizza? Ditto for those crappy bouncy balls on the bottom left corner. Heads up, parents: if your kid is entertained by that stuff for more then two minutes, he officially has autism.


I'm not sure what the buffet owner's name is, but the guy behind the waving golden cat was a pretty nice chap who didn't give one fuck that I was taking pictures of everything like some sort of health inspector/paparazzi for burritos. In fact, I was so enchanted and enamored by my experience at The Atlantic Buffet that I even left them a huge tip of exactly $2.12, which is probably the most I've left at any restaurant so far in 2018. Hey, you folks deserve that change, and then some.

Interestingly enough, they also have a sister restaurant called — what else? — Pacific Buffet, which is about ten miles away in Kennesaw. That one I've been to many times in my youth, and while it's a bit ritzier buffet, I still think I prefer The Atlantic. For one thing, it's considerably larger and the menu has more nuance, but really, it's the atmosphere of the place that drew me in. It just feels like some sort of urban sprawl utopia, a place that could be either 20 years into the future or 20 years behind the times. Yes, it's a great place to eat General T'so chicken until your stomach begins to rupture, but it's an even better place to people watch. The animal kingdom has the watering hole, but in the land of man, we've got the line for more mayonnaise. And hers, indeed, is a sight to behold.

It didn't take too long to find The Atlantic's Yelp page, and their Facebook page is right here if you are curious. If you're ever in the 'burbs of Atlanta, I'd wholeheartedly recommend giving these guys a try. It's totally unpretentious, no-frills, straight-to-the-point, gimmick-free, kinda'-grimy-but-not-too-grimy buffet dining in its purest essence, and I'd love to dine there at least once a week, if I could. 

Except, you know, if I did that I'd probably weigh 400 pounds and die at age 38. Which kinda' begs the question; if these people literally live off this shit, how come you NEVER see fat people working at an Asian buffet? Methinks there's something major going on there that ought to be investigated. I mean, seriously ...