American Rickshaw (aKa American Tiger) is a 1989 action-horror hybrid film co-written & directed by Sergio Martino (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Torso, All the Colors of the Dark, & The Suspicious Death of a Minor). It was written by Sauro Scavolini (Johnny Yuma, Violent City, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Dig Your Grave Friend… Sabata’s Coming, & A Man Called Blade). After a stripper named Joanna Simpson (played by: Victoria Prouty from Men) tricks him into filming a sex tape, Scott Edwards (played by: Olympic Gold Medalist Mitch Gaylord from American Anthem, Sexual Outlaws, & Animal Instincts), a Miami rickshaw runner becomes embroiled in the murder of an evangelist’s son Jason (played by: Gregg Todd Davis from Nightmare Beach & Shallow Grave) who is distant from his powerful father Reverend Mortom (played by: Donald Pleasence from the Halloween franchise, Paganini Horror, Phenomena, Escape from New York, & You Only Live Twice) when he inadvertently takes the wrong video tape. With the help of the stripper & an Asian witch known as Old Madame Luna (played by: Michi Kobi from Tokyo After Dark & Hell to Eternity), Edwards sets out to clear his name while avoiding assassin Francis (played by: Daniel Greene from Hands of Steel, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Shallow Hal, & Dumb and Dumber To) dead set on retrieving the video tape.
American Rickshaw is a batshit crazy horror & action hybrid from the 80’s. It has a little bit of a Big Trouble in Little China vibe at times. The script is insane, weird, & it doesn’t make much sense at all but it’s loaded with entertainment. There’s a variety of random & odd subplots here that try to tie everything together towards the end. Italians tried so hard to make their films look American when they shot here but most of them it just doesn’t work & comes off very strange. That’s exactly how American Rickshaw turned out but that kinda adds to it’s bizarre charm. Olympic Gold Medalist Mitch Gaylord was very popular at the time & he could basically do anything that he wanted but for some reason he picked this odd one. He didn’t do that many movies in his career but he was actually solid in this. Donald Pleasence was great as the over the top villain here. He was doing any film at this point in his career which lead to some really interesting roles & features back then. Daniel Greene steals the show in American Rickshaw as the ruthless assassin Francis. It’s definitely his best character & it’s nothing like I seen him do before. He was a leading man at the time & starring in all his own movies but he did this one as a favor to director Sergio Martino. Speaking of Sergio Martino, I loved how he did a little bit of everything when it came to being an film maker. He wasn’t shy to try out something new & he was very creative with his low budgets. American Rickshaw has a decent amount of action, violence, & random horror elements in this. It’s a very fun experience & you won’t forget about it after seeing it. Considering how wild it is, the replay value is beyond strong here. I am surprised this one doesn’t get more love, hopefully this new home video release from Cauldron Films gets it some more attention because it’s very unique. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Cauldron Films! This 1080p (1.66:1) uncut transfer is a brand new 2K from the original camera negative. American Rickshaw released as American Tiger was only available on VHS in a low grade full frame restoration back in the day so this brand new home video release from Cauldron Films is a massive upgrade compared to that older release. It’s like seeing it for the first time here, it’s never looked this good before anywhere in the world. The Florida & the several random locations really shine here. The English: LPCM 2.0 Mono track is better than expected & I was very impressed with it. The score & soundtrack sound great on it. All of the dialogue is very clean & the crazy action has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH
Let’s discuss the special features from Cauldron Films! “Audio Commentary” with authors Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger. These two have great chemistry here & lots of fun revisiting this entertaining feature together. For an obscure & very rare production, these two ladies have plenty of information & stories about it. They go over Sergio Martino & his career. They chat about giallos, other Italian directors, Italian productions in America, & so much more. They talk about the cast, their characters, & some of their other work. They bring up the insane writing & all the weird subplots mixed in with this. It’s one of the better tracks that I’ve heard & reviewed in awhile. There’s not a dull moment here & they have a nice flow for the entire running time. It has a little over 18 minutes of “Interviews” with director Sergio Martino & production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng. Sergio Martino chats about his start & working on stuff under others to break in. He talks about Italy was only making 300 films a year for awhile & the industry was struggling. American distributors would buy 10 of their films for the price of 1 here. He goes over using older cars & breaking rules for his car chases plus stunts. He says it made more exciting, less expensive to do, & better than his competition. He goes over using the Miami locations & other hotter American states during his career. He says he always ending up filming in the summer for them & it was dreadful. He brings up he used a smaller cast from here plus from Italy for American Rickshaw. He chats about the differences between using an American crew & having to watch what he did because of the union. Massimo Antonello Geleng goes over his work with Sergio Martino & the various projects they collaborated on over the years. He shows his appreciation for director Sergio Martino & his versatility on all his features. “Then and now Miami location footage” is almost 3 minutes. It compares locations & shot from then to 2019. “The Projection Booth Podcast discuss AMERICAN RICKSHAW” is a little over an hour & 5 minutes. It features author Kat Ellinger again! She is clearly the biggest American Rickshaw fan of all time. She chats the crazy feature with her co-hosts Mike White & Cullen Gallagher . They go over their first experience with it & their impressions on it. They all say they seen the American Tiger video box back in the day but passed on it. They talk about the various names, artwork, covers, & promotion it had over the years. They try to explain & go over the strange story for it plus the random subplots that were thrown in. They discuss the cast, characters, & some of their other work here. They show their appreciation for director Sergio Martino & his career. The original episode was double the length of the version on here & it’s available on The Projection Booth Podcast site if you are curious about it. Plus it has an “Image Gallery” that’s a little over a minute. It has art for home video releases, posters, & stills from the movie. It has a high quality slipbox, reversible artwork, & a mini booklet with a variety of photos plus writing from grindhouse comics writer & Tough to Kill co-author David Zuzelo.. I am very impressed with this brand new home video label so far. They know exactly what collectors want, the packaging & overall presentation is excellent here. This limited edition (only a 1,000 copies were pressed) is almost sold out at DiabolikDVD & Cauldron Films but a wide release is coming soon. CHECK IT OUT!!!!