Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Yikes. That’s all I can say most days I have a Foywonder review waiting in the mailbox. This guy just heaps the abuse on himself. I tried to watch Benigni’s PINOCCHIO recently, recalling his hilarious review for it at the start of the year, but I couldn’t do it. Ten minutes in, my brain actually crawled out of my skull and ran screaming from the room. Yet, somehow, amazingly, this guy takes direct hit after direct hit to the cinematic nuts and lives to tell the tale.
So what’s he up to this time? A direct to video masterpiece, according to him. I’ll let him explain it to you after he gets a little unsightly begging out of the way upfront...
Before we begin, I have a cheap plug to get out of the way. Hey, I sat through PINOCCHIO and KANGAROO JACK for you people so dammit you can allow me a cheap plug! For those of you unaware, I am the organizer of a new bad movie film festival set to debut this fall.
SCHLOCKTOBERFEST 2003: SCHLOCK & AWE will take place Saturday, October 18th in Long Beach, Mississippi on the USM-Long Beach campus. From noon until sometime around 2 am, those that attend will be subjected to almost 14 non-stop hours of cinematic schlock all of which have been hand selected by yours truly.
The inaugural event’s line-up will include (courtesy of the fine folks at Something Weird Video) the world’s first and only jellyfish man movie STING OF DEATH. This obscure 1965 schlocker is about a lovesick were-jellyfish terrorizing a group of twenty-somethings in the Florida Everglades. It even features a dance sequence set to the tune of Paul Anka’s timeless classic “Do the Jellyfish.”
If that’s not enough, we will also be showing 1977’s YETI, GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY in which a 50-foot Oak Ridge Boy with the world’s largest mullet runs wild in downtown Toronto. Then there’s the 1965 horror comedy DEMON HUNTER: THE LEGEND OF BLOOD MOUNTAIN, which is in my humble opinion the absolute worst movie nobody has ever heard of. It will all culminate with the “Midnight Mystery Movie,” one final film whose identity will not be revealed in advance so you’ll just have to attend to find out.
Still not enough incentive for you? Well, we’ll also be giving away plenty of door prizes although I assure you that nobody who wins will feel like a winner. Much like the movies, I’m hand selecting these as well.
Be sure to check out the entire SCHLOCKTOBERFEST website while you’re at it. There you’ll also find more specifics on the festival itself as well as my regular web column “Foyeurism,” which this month features my long delayed reviews of LXG and GIGLI. And if you stop by be sure to check out my Summer Movie Quiz (It’s not what you think!) for a chance to win a DVD of something truly awful. Maybe you’ll even manage to find the “easter egg” on the front page that has eluded so many? For those bored out of their minds there’s even a Schlock Word Find game. Yes, there’s lots of fun and crap at Schlocktoberfest Dot Com. Hope to see you at SCHLOCKTOBERFEST 2003: SCHLOCK & AWE this October.
Now for some of you this is the part where you just skip right to the Talkback section to piss and moan about this article being too long or whatever else you’re angry about. For the rest of you…
Let’s talk about TIMECOP 2!
Actually, the full title is TIMECOP 2: THE BERLIN DECISION. I personally think that’s a terrible title but I suppose its better than calling it TIMECOP 2: THE RETURN, TIMECOP 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES, TIMECOP 2: THE QUICKENING, TIMECOP 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, or TIMECOP 2 AND THE CRADLE OF LIFE. And with a title like TIMECOP 2: THE BERLIN DECISION it’s rather obvious this film is going straight-to-video because if it was going to get a theatrical release you just know the marketing geniuses at Universal would have gone for something “catchier” like TIMECOP 2: OUT OF TIME, TIMECOP 2: TIME’S UP!, TIMECOP 2: TIMECOPS UNITED, or just simply TC2. Hey, everybody loves acronyms! Oddly enough, the actual opening credits display the title as simply TIMECOP: THE BERLIN DECISION so even the people making and distributing the movie were unable to agree on the title.
Now to be perfectly honest I really didn’t care for the original TIMECOP. For starters, the means by which they travel through time was both crappy and stupid. For those that don’t remember or don’t know, you get inside this big pod that’s set up like a crash test simulator and it goes zooming into a wall where it vanishes into some sort of temporal void. Then the time travelers step out of a temporal void with no sign of the pod they were seated and strapped into. To return to the future they need only push a button on the special gadget wristwatch they wear and suddenly they get sucked into a void and back into that pod that comes rolling out of the wall facing the other direction with no explanation ever given as to just where it goes and how it was able to turn around. Fortunately, the makers of TIMECOP 2 have modified this process just enough so that it’s still stupid but not as crappy looking.
The other thing that totally killed the original for me was that you had this great premise that allowed you to go anywhere throughout history and yet the movie was set primarily in 1994 and 2004. You make a movie about a time travelling police force and set the majority of the movie in the present instead of actually using the concept to its fullest? Ancient Egypt? No! The Crusades? No! The Ming Dynasty era? The Renaissance? The age of dinosaurs? No, no, and no! They have the majority of the movie take place in the same exact year it was released and it’s all about this corrupt Senator who travels back 10 years to plot his rise to power and, in the process, kills the hero’s wife so now the hero must stop him and save the missus. How lame is that? Now that I think about it, I hated TIMECOP! No imagination whatsoever! And Ron Silver as the bad guy? God, I hated that movie!
I won’t even mention that very short-lived TIMECOP TV series that ran on ABC for like 3 weeks.
Still, I decided to give TIMECOP 2: THE BERLIN DECISION a try. Now to answer your first question, Jean Claude Van Damme is not in the movie. He was too busy making some jungle prison movie with Ringo Lam and some “DIE HARD in a casino” movie called COVERPLAY to reprise his role as the high kicking, monosyllabic, Timecop pretty boy with a mullet. They don’t even kill off his character in the opening 10 minutes like they did at the beginning of KICKBOXER 2. Alas, TIMECOP 2 is 100% Van Dammeless.
However, to make up for the loss of a certain four-name actor they hired two three-name actors to star in the sequel - Jason Scott Lee and Thomas Ian Griffith. Jason Scott Lee and his “Farrah” hair replace the Muscles of Brussel’s mullet in lead as the film’s hero. Oddly enough, Jason Scott Lee seems to be building himself a nice little niche starring in direct-to-video sequels to theatrical movies that weren’t that good in the first place. In addition to starring in TIMECOP 2, he’s also the star of two DRACULA 2000 sequels and he’ll be seen in THE PROPHECY IV. I swear if he gets a role in the upcoming, made-for-video SPECIES 3 then he’ll have hit a Grand Slam of sorts. Thomas Ian Griffith plays the movie’s villain, an evil time historian. You may also remember Thomas Ian Griffith from some of his other roles like the evil vampire in JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES, the evil general in KULL THE CONQUEROR, and as the evil karate guru in THE KARATE KID PART III.
Once again I’m going to give the spoiler warning because there is simply no way to properly review this movie without dealing with spoilers. For some strange reason though I have the sneaking suspicion that more people are going to be interested in seeing the movie by the time I’m finished than would ever had been otherwise.
TIMECOP 2 opens with a very stilted voiceover, the only kind Jason Scott Lee seems capable of in this movie, by Ryan Chan (Jason Scott Lee, duh!) as he waxes philosophical about time travel and time itself. To beat us over the head even more so, Chan is always staring at this pocket watch that belonged to his father, a physics professor specializing in time travel theorem who died of a coronary in a restroom when Chan was just a small boy. Chan was in a stall when dad dropped dead and it’s obvious from the blurry flashbacks we’re shown that his dad didn’t die of natural causes but Chan doesn’t realize this because if he did there wouldn’t be much of a movie. We learn from this scene that Chan is very adamant about protecting history as he emphasizes how the past is important because the good and the bad shape who we are today. Besides, what’s past is past and the past isn’t meant to be tampered with. I wish he’d give that speech to some Hollywood executives before they greenlight some of the remakes and sequels they do. Also, if time gets altered only the Timecop involved would know for sure. I’m not entirely sure how that would work because you’d think if something happened that changed the course of the world it would affect everyone equally including the Timecop.
Now whereas the original was set in 2004, the sequel is set in 2025. Now that I think about it, We’re one year away from the futuristic vision portrayed in the original TIMECOP and I still don’t see anyone driving down the street in motorized, self-driving refrigerators.
In addition to the Time Enforcement Commission (TEC) there’s also this new group called the Society for Historical Authenticity or something like that. Since there have been so many “time breaches” and attempts to alter history this new division was created consisting of people who travel to specific times and places to observe how accurate these places are so they can spot differences just in case somebody alters something. I’m not entirely sure how this would work because if history gets altered why would you have a memory of something that never happened and records of that something would reflect the change accordingly.
Okay, it’s Berlin 1940, and Ryan Chan along with two other Timecops are on a mission but exactly what that mission is completely slipped past me or was simply never explained. What matters is that they meet up with meet up with two members of that Historical Authenticity group, Brandon Miller (Thomas Ian Griffith) and his much younger wife Sasha, at this Nazi shindig. Before you know it Miller and Sasha are preparing to change history by assassinating Hitler. The guy playing Hitler looked to me like Dan Aykroyd pretending to be Richard Nixon while made up to look like Adolph Hitler. Chan scuffles with Miller while Miller argues about all the good that could be done by erasing past mistakes and such. Actually, there are going to be about 4 or 5 different scenes in the movie where characters have this exact same argument. In the end, Chan has to shoot Sasha before she would have killed Der Fuhrer and thus altering history dramatically. Sasha is dead and a distraught Miller is arrested.
Back in 2025, Miller is found guilty of time crimes and incarcerated in some futuristic underground prison for the criminally insane. Chan feels guilty and is considering quitting the TEC.
For the first 10 minutes of the movie it seemed as if this might actually be a surprisingly good sequel with some actual ideas to go along with the action. It looked as if this movie was going to use the time travel concept for a plot more ambitious than just revenge or saving a loved one. Unfortunately, TIMECOP 2 is about 80 minutes long and the next 70 were going to get stupid. Really stupid! EXTREME OPS stupid! I know movies that involve time travel even the really well made ones almost always have some sort of paradoxes or things that just don’t quite add up but TIMECOP 2 takes things to a whole new level absurdity.
Long story short, Miller escapes from prison and begins travelling through time killing off the Timecops either when they were younger or before they were born. Yes, we’re in TERMINATOR territory. His plan is to eliminate all of the Timecops so there won’t be anyone to stop him when he travels through time changing history for what he believes will be the betterment of mankind. Okay. Sure. When a Timecop has been snuffed out in the past, they suddenly dissolve into CGI flakes and vanish in 2025. So why is it everyone still remembers that person even though technically their elimination from history should erase them from everyone’s memory?
His plan doesn’t make sense anyway. It’s not like the Terminator hunting down a particular person like Sarah Connor who will have a specific impact on the future. You’re killing off the people who work for a particular company. This movie wants you to believe that he’s literally eliminating the entire TEC division by wiping out the people currently on the payroll and these people are irreplaceable. Wiping out individuals on a company’s payroll is not the same as killing off a particular historical figure. If you eliminate Officer Smith from ever existing there’s still going to be an Office Jones to take his place.
Another example of the movie’s illogic comes when Chan travels back in time to that prison to prevent Miller from ever escaping. First of all, for no other reason than the producer’s feeling they needed to toss in a pointless action sequence, Chan gets into a seemingly endless and extremely pedestrian fight with this inmate he once busted but we’ve never seen before and couldn’t care less about. Finally he confronts Miller who proceeds to filibuster about why changing history is good and how he’s going to make Chan pay for killing his wife and then escapes by simply walking around the corner, for crying out loud! Chan returns to 2025 only to find changes have already taken place due to Miller altering history although I thought eliminating Chan and getting his wife back was top priority at least it was according to his speech. Chan gets them to send him back to the prison only even earlier than before. When he gets there he comes to find out that there is no Brandon Miller incarcerated there nor has there ever been. Meanwhile, a crazed Miller is traveling through time while still mourning his dead wife and vowing to bring her back.
Wait just a damn minute! If Miller was never in prison then that means that he wasn’t arrested back in Berlin and that should also mean that Sasha was never killed in the process so she should already be back alive. You can’t turn your brain off while watching this movie because it keeps saying and doing things that kick you in the head. TIMECOP 2 is just daring you to think about it all. It dares you to apply logic where there is none.
Oh, there’s also some hints as to a romance between Chan and this female doctor played by Mary Page Keller. Keller also happens to be Thomas Ian Griffith’s wife. No wonder Miller wants Chan dead so bad. He killed his movie wife and is romancing his real-life wife!
So Chan returns to 2025 yet again to find that everything has changed yet again. Because they are able to track temporal distortions they know that Miller is now in 1889 Texas and Chan says something about having family from 1889 Texas. At least the movie is smart enough to have another character ask how an Asian guy has ancestors living in 1889 Texas. Chan mumbles a response. I didn’t catch it and I didn’t bother to rewind the movie in order to hear it either. What’s past is past and the past isn’t meant to be tampered with, I say.
Chan is going to go after him but first they give him this new super duper gadget wristwatch that will allow him to tag along Miller’s time wake (that little bit of distortion that appears in the air as they return) and follow him wherever he goes next. As it turns out, Miller doesn’t need this fancy shmancy pod to time travel because he has a super duper uber gadget wristwatch that allows him to travel anywhere throughout time by doing nothing more than typing in the date he wants to travel to.
Hold it! Hold it! Hold it!
There have been numerous scenes in this movie where we’ve been repeatedly told how dangerous and complex time travel is, how it can eventually lead to dementia, and how one mistake can lead to someone materializing in solid matter and so forth. Hell, one poor bastard in the movie explodes after his entire cellular structure becomes unstable during the process. Now all of a sudden we have a villain who doesn’t need this whole time pod thingamajig and can go anywhere he wants by just pushing some buttons on his wrist device? Where did this technology come from and why don’t all the Timecops use it since its shown to be easier and more stable than sitting in that contraption and being rocketed back in time? And where did these other wrist thingamajigs come from that allows you to ride someone else’s time stream? Why am I even bothering to ask at this point?
So back to 1889 he goes to confront Miller in a Wild West setting and from there they will head to the Roaring 20’s where we will come to learn once and for all that all Chinese people really do know kung fu. Then its back to the future as they end up in the 80’s so Chan can meet up with his parents before they were married and briefly pay homage to another certain time travel movie from that decade. Chan was told that the less there is of the other guy’s time wake when he tags along the further away he will be from him when he arrives at the destination. Yet Chan always arrives just a few yards away from Miller no matter how little of it he gets. And at one point somebody throws a knife into the wake and it goes through and arrives at the next time point so exactly why Chan needs this new special gadget wristwatch when all he or anyone else would really have to do is… I give up.
My God, TIMECOP 2 is so aggressively dopey that it could even make the most hardened anti-Semite throw his hands up in the air and yell “Oy vey!”
In the end, Miller travels back in time to the day Chan’s father died (Wow, I never saw that coming!) and shows up at the college where dad is conducting a class about the ethics of time travel and why altering history is a bad thing. Miller was also one of the students at the time and the young Miller is played by Thomas Ian Griffith in this mortifying bad, long-haired hippie wig. Sitting next to the worlds oldest, waviest graviest college student is Sasha who is played by the exact same actress who played her during the Berlin sequence so apparently the girl is an eternal twenty-something.
Even though Jean Claude Van Damme isn’t physically in the movie he is still there in spirit as the climax comes in the form of a kung fu battle in the college atrium. Apparently two men can beat the crap out of one another and destroy school property without ever having to worry about a single cop showing up or any other students for that matter. Must be one of those California party colleges I’ve heard about. Admittedly the final fight is pretty decent although Scott Leemage is no substitute for Van Dammage.
And then it happens; the movie’s single greatest moment, the moment that makes me realize that sitting through this silly little flick truly was worth it. In the middle of this life or death battle, from completely out of nowhere, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, Jason Scott Lee lets out this bloodcurdling scream as he rips his shirt off Hulk Hogan-style so he can fight the rest of the battle with his oiled up pecs exposed. It’s almost as if his shirt spontaneously exploded off his body and I damn near fell out my chair laughing. Oh my God, is that moment hysterical!
To the film’s credit the resolution to this mess didn’t play itself out exactly as I expected it to but the way it plays out still makes the Chan character look like a hypocrite when it comes to all his talk about not altering history. Oh well. At least he gets another scene where he stares at that pocket watch because God knows this movie didn’t have enough of those moments.
Honestly, I can’t decide whether to recommend the movie or not. I swear there are moments in this movie where you want to laugh and bang your head against the wall out of frustration at the same time. Not since GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH has a time travel movie made less sense and not since GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH has a nonsensical time travel movie proved so entertaining and headache inducing at the same time. It’s maddening I tell you! The more you think about it all the less sense it all makes and in my case it finally broke my brain causing me to just begin giggling like a madman at the absurdity of it all. I’m not exactly sure that’s a ringing endorsement.
TIMECOP 2 is supposed to be the first in a proposed trilogy of direct-to-video sequels to TIMECOP. Whether or not the next two get made is still up in the air but if they do I’d like to offer a few ideas. Team up Jason Scott Lee with a precocious kid who really wants to be a Timecop when he grows up and call it TIMECOP AND A HALF. No? Okay, how about a rock opera version and call it TIMECOP ROCK? Nope? What if you make the hero a cyborg and call it ROBOTIMECOP? Not interested? Hey, toss Chevy Chase in and you could make TIMECOPS & ROBBERSONS! I got a million of them and none of them would be any sillier than the movie I just reviewed.
Remember when Jason Scott Lee was “the next big thing”? And we had all those articles about what a huge star he was going to be? Remember that? Reading the above review reminds me of why that never came true...