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Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon

Westlake Entertainment // Unrated // January 23, 2007
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted January 30, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Hi, I'm Mickey Hardt. You may remember me from such German TV movies as "The Smell of Money" and "SOS Barracuda: The Girl Hunter." Now you can see me in my very first leading role, playing Max Havoc, a kickboxer-turned-sports photographer who travels to Guam for sun and thrills. It's all in my new movie, "Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon," co-starring Richard Roundtree, David Carradine, Nikki Ziering, and Carmen Electra, plus a couple of gals you may have seen posing for "Maxim" or "Stuff." And keep an eye out for the next exciting Max Havoc adventure, "Max Havoc: Ring of Fire," with Dean Cain and Rae Dawn Chong, on DVD this summer!

OK, now it's me, Dave, your friendly neighborhood film critic. I promise you that everything written in the above paragraph is absolutely true. I know this because I just spent ninety minutes watching "Curse of the Dragon," followed by an obscene amount of time online researching the film and its upcoming sequel.

About the movie itself, there's not much to tell. It's the kind of moronic C-level action flick that always stars some former martial arts champ (in this case, aspiring German actor Mickey Hardt) and features the sort of ineptitude one can only find on the bottom shelf of your local video store. The story makes zero sense - one gets the impression much of the original vision for the film was pushed aside due to budgetary concerns, leaving scenes unfilmed, requiring the editor to fix it all later, which he never really bothered to do, because his last two paychecks bounced. That sort of thing.

Following a pointless dirt bike credits sequence, we meet Max Havoc, who retired from kickboxing after a championship match ended with him killing a guy with one punch, which we see in slo-mo flashback a good twenty times throughout the movie, you know, for those who walked in late. Now hiding from the sports scene by working as a sports photographer, Havoc gets sent to Guam to shoot, I dunno, boats or something for some hotel ad campaign. Once there, he bravely rescues a woman from getting killed by a canoe that's paddling by at, oh, say, three miles per hour. Turns out said woman and her sister - Jane (Joanna Krupa) and Christy (Tawny Sablan), although I can't remember which sister was the smart one and which was the slutty one - are in possession of a jade dragon statue belonging to yakuza boss Grand Master (Carradine, who probably filmed all his scenes in a quick afternoon before heading to the beach to get totally faced), who will kill to get it back. Will Max Havoc kickbox his way to saving the day? Or will he be too bogged down with all the hepatitis he got from banging every babe on the island?

Now's a good time to mention that this whole thing comes to us direct from director Albert Pyun, the wizard behind such classics as "Cyborg," "Kickboxer 2," the "Nemesis" series, and "Captain America," a movie Americans never saw because Menahem Golan cancelled its domestic release. I repeat: Albert Pyun once made a movie so bad that the producer of "Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold" thought it was unfit for theaters.

Pyun's work on "Max Havoc" is par for the filmmaker, what with muddy visuals, craptastic non-action sequences, and the decision to cast leading ladies based not on their acting abilities but on their cleavage. ("Are you willing to jump around in a barely-there bikini? Able to take on the oily advances of Mickey Hardt without retching? Congratulations. You made the cast!")

And now, the story behind the story: A few years back, the producers of "Curse of the Dragon" convinced the Guam government to help back a hefty bank loan used to finance the movie. Officials agreed, hoping the movie would be good for tourism (which explains why half the movie plays like an extended travelogue) and that maybe, just maybe, an action blockbuster with big name stars will finally bring the magic of Hollywood to the Paris of the Pacific. Little did they know that the Hollywood they would get would turn out to be less of a "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" variety, and more of a "the tranny crack whore just puked on the homeless guy again" variety.

You see, some folks apparently lack the savvy to avoid bankrolling a movie with the words "Max Havoc," "Albert Pyun," and "kickboxing champion" related to them. So the good people of Guam were apparently actually shocked to learn that the movie they were celebrating turned out to be a steaming dung pile, and they were more shocked to discover that the producers had skipped town after defaulting on their loan, leaving the taxpayers to pony up the funds.

Meanwhile, not only did the producers have the balls to release the movie anyway (following a premiere in Guam - one can assume it did not go well - "Max Havoc" was just granted a toss-off direct-to-video release Stateside, some two-plus years after this whole debacle), but they actually found somebody to fund a sequel, which has already been scheduled for - wait for it... - a direct-to-video release later this year, plus the obligatory international release.

It's a story so nutty, I kinda want it to be a movie. Martin Kove could play the slimy producer, Christopher Lambert could be the guy from the Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority, and David Carradine could spend a quick afternoon starring as Albert Pyun. Before taking off for the beach and getting totally faced, of course.


Video & Audio

"Max Havoc" looks about as cheap as you'd expect, with a drab, grainy, just-a-little-too-dark full frame transfer that does nothing to enhance the film's travelogue intentions. The stereo soundtrack is just as blah.


"Cast interviews" features video chat sessions with Hardt (7:56), Sablan (3:39), and supporting player Tina Warn (2:41), all of them telling of how great it was to work in Guam, how cool the story is, how hard the action stuff was, that sort of thing. No surprise: Sablan admits to never having acted before.

The film's trailer (which crops the action for a faux-widescreen effect) distills the movie's complete dumbness into three tight minutes, while the narrator tries to sell the whole mess with a straight face.

"Bios & Filmos" is a collection of text pages on Hardt, Krupa, Carradine, Roundtree, and Electra. And yes, they really did spell it "filmos."

A stills gallery plays out in a slide show format, lasting one minute. A "poster art" section contains just one poster, a Photoshop monstrosity. And for those daring enough to download Max, the disc contains a wallpaper calendar; unlike the real Max Havoc, this one's most likely virus-free.

Final Thoughts

The majority of you should naturally Skip It, while a few of you - you know who you are - will find enough giggles in the movie's utter terribleness to make a rental the beginning of a fun night laughing with your friends.

Note: The movie review portion of this article is a reprint of a review that previously appeared elsewhere online. Which means, yes, people, I had to watch "Max Havoc" twice. Oh, the humanity!
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