Action U.S.A. (aKa Above the Law) is a 1989 action film story, produced, and directed by stuntman John Stewart (Click: The Calendar Girl Killer, Cartel, Hidden Obsession, Fall Guy: The John Stewart Story, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). Stewart did stunts on such films as Hard Rock Zombies, Savage Dawn, Neon Maniacs, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, The Hidden, Munchies, Creepozoids, Slaughterhouse Rock, Night of the Demons, Phantasm II/III, Death Spa, Witchboard 2, Scanner Cop, Leprechaun 3, and Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return. It was written by David Reskin (Skinheads, Stargames, Hidden Obsession, and Click: The Calendar Girl Killer). It was produced by actor Ross Hagen (Supercock, Five the Hard Way, Wonder Women, Night Creature, Reel Horror, and Murder on the Yellow Brick Road). It was originally released on home video from Imperial Home Video on VHS. It was released on blu ray for the very first time by Vinegar Syndrome in a limited edition release!!!!
Billy Ray’s (played by: Rod Shaft) a bad risk. He took the mob’s family jewels, now they want his! They tried beating and scaring it out of him but he’s not giving them up. So they kill him to set an example of the thief. Now everyone believes Carmen (played by: Barri Murphy from Armed for Action, Time Tracers, Ninth Life, and Walker, Texas Ranger) must know where the jewels are. Two F.B.I. agents Osborn (played by: Gregory Scott Cummins from Hack-O-Lantern, Blood Games, Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, Caged Fury, Cliffhanger, Batman Returns, Gang Related, Switchback, and Bosch) and McKinnon (played by: William Hubbard Knight from Skin Deep, Hill Street Blues, The Real Ghostbusters, and Hunter) are brought in to protect the only witness to the murder and possible lead to the diamonds with orders from their boss Conover (played by: William Smith from Seven, Uncle Sam, American Me, Conan, Memorial Valley Massacre, Maniac Cop, and Red Dawn). The Mafia boss Frankie Navarro (played by: Cameron Mitchell from Blood and Black Lace, Memorial Valley Massacre, Jack-O, Trapped Alive, From a Whisper to a Scream, and The Toolbox Murders) has brought in his most dangerous assassin Drago (played by: Ross Hagen from Bikini Drive-In, Blood Games, Alienator, The Phantom Empire, Angel, and Avenging Angel) to find her and the jewels. This cold blooded psychopath and his vicious associates which includes Hitch (played by: Hoke Howell from Teenage Exorcist, Haunting Fear, Another 48 Hrs., Alienator, Five the Hard Way, Here Comes the Brides, and Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off) follow our heroes through car chases and gun battles across the state of Texas leaving a trail of fireballs and hunks of twisted metal!!!
Action U.S.A kinda reminds me of a low budget Lethal Weapon. I am a huge fan of the buddy cop sub-genre and this one is very unknown but it’s one that you should seek out. You can tell this was directed by an experienced stuntman because it does live up to it’s title. Action U.S.A has non stop action, wild stunts, explosions, violence, gun play, fights, and that pure 80’s vibe. This might be one of the most entertaining movies ever made, there’s never a dull moment here and it just keeps topping itself as the running time goes on. Lots of weird and wacky characters here which makes this feature even more interesting. The chemistry between the three leads are great and they all make each other better in this with their interactions. Gregory Scott Cummins is a familiar face, he’s one of those character actors that you recognize his face but don’t know his name. This is a rare lead role from him and it’s one of his better performances. William Hubbard Knight is hilarious in this. Barri Murphy didn’t do that many movies but she is some excellent eye candy here. Director John Stewart and his producers were smart with this very low budget production. They gathered up some real talented actors that were older and not really getting big roles anymore. The supporting cast is better than you would expect for something like this which includes William Smith, Ross Hagen, Cameron Mitchell, and Hoke Howell. The script is questionable here but it knows exactly what it’s trying to do, some of the dialogue falls into that so bad it’s good category but the talented cast here makes it work. If you are into mindless low budget action flicks from the 80’s, this one is for you and it will actually surprise you because it’s way better than it should be, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from MVD Rewind! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer has a different aspect ratio than the previous Vinegar Syndrome release that was in the original one (1.85:1). This is the same 4K restoration from it’s 35mm original camera negative done by Vinegar Syndrome last year and it looks amazing for being such a low budget 80’s action flick. It has a few different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English: LPCM 2.0 on the disc. Both of these track sounds really good on this home video release and this is the type of movie that sound is very important on. All of the dialogue is very clean, the non stop action has a killer boost, and the music is elevated here. it has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from MVD Rewind! “Audio Commentary” with director John Stewart, lead actor Gregory Scott Cummins and cinematographer Thomas Callaway with cult director Steve Latshaw as the moderator. They chat about most of the additional cast being stunt men. They talk about the locations and how they tried to use as many locals as possible for the shoot. They go over the stunts and some of their favorite scenes. They mention how some of the cast that got involved and they go over their characters. They have all kinds of stories and information about this 80’s action flick here. It’s interesting chat about low budget film making back then. “Interview with Director John Stewart” is almost 29 minutes. It’s a chat with director John Stewart with cult director Brian Trenchard-Smith as the moderator here. He chats about re-writing the script the last minute for production. He talks about moving locations from LA to Texas. His original lead actress quit after 3 days so he had to rush to find a replacement. He recalls his time in Texas for the movie and the struggles of getting permission to do all his crazy stunts in this. He brings up some of his favorite scenes and goes over the cast. “Action U.S.A. Behind the Scenes – Stunt Featurette” is almost 7 minutes and this one actually wasn’t included on the Vinegar Syndrome release so it’s the first time that it’s been on a blu ray in the states. It takes you behind the scenes on various stunts and scenes from Action U.S.A, it’s really cool to see how they set up and put together some of these dangerous visuals. It has an “Action U.S.A” trailer plus a variety of MVD related “Trailers” on here. Just a heads up, the Vinegar Syndrome release included a brand new interview with lead actor Gregory Scott Cummins which isn’t included on this. The limited edition slipcover is awesome for this home video release. The owner of MVD Rewind did a video on Facebook explaining what inspired it and it takes you back to those video rental days when VHS was flying off the shelves. It also comes with an high quality poster. Thanks to the great folks at MVD Rewind, the rare and out of print Action U.S.A is back again on blu ray. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!