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I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable 80's b-film buff. Spent my summers inside watching videos instead of playing sports, meeting girls, or making the world a better place. You'll find copies of Raw Force, Gymkata, Pray for Death, and For Your Height Only, just to name a scant few, in my movie library. It is nice to find some movie form the era I don't recall seeing. The Indonesian action film The Stabilizer (1984) is one such film, and it delivers everything I expect from an 80's Indonesian action film.
Drug kingpin Greg Rainmaker and his cartel The Golden Triangle have kidnapped a professor working on a "narcotic detector" formula. Jakarta police officer Captain Johnny enlists the aide of crack do-gooder and Rainmaker-hater Peter Goldson (aka. The Stabilizer) to help him topple Rainmaker... Damn that bastard Rainmaker!... You see, he killed Goldson's wife years before, and Goldson has been seeking revenge ever since. With aide of their kung fu fighting chicks, Captain Johnny and Peter Goldson begin cracking down on Rainmaker's operations (many a warehouse fight) and eventually make their way to Rainmaker's secret island base to take the man down.
Peter Goldson is played by Peter O'Brian, who carved a completely unnoticed niche in Indonesian action films and whose career highlight seems to be Cynthia Rothrock's Angel of Fury. He has this swarthy Kenny G meets Rambo look that is quite freaky. He also has the strangest facial contortions and wide-eyed, deer in the headlights stares when he is fighting which make him almost sideshow worthy- "Come see the Amazing Face Twitching Z-Grade Action Star!" And, while I'm talking about our hero, what about his character name? Peter Goldson. Say it again, Peter Goldson. It just doesn't ring as a good macho action hero name. Something along the lines of Jake Clever, Lee Meatwedge, Rock Slaghammer, or Mike Ramtank would have been more appropriate, and in a film like this, it wouldn't even appear too silly. It is no surprise to me that he had a character named Rambu in another Indonesian action opus called The Inturder. I guess when he wasn't stabilizing he was intruding.
Not to be outdone, his partner Captain Johnny looks oddly like an Indonesian Michael Knight era David Hasselhoff, right down to his helmet hair and knockoff Members Only style jacket. And as if the film is some odd tribute to horribly distorted imitations of 80's icons, one of the thugs is an Indonesian Mr. T.
I always have enjoyed foreign action spectacles of a low grade variety, especially the imports. There is just something admirable about Indonesian, Italian, Filipino, and the like, with lower budgets and their often cruder film industry, you get a completely different flavor of unabashed girt and, often, good doses of unintentional humor. Such is the case here in which a silly almost non-plot is just there to hang some action scenes around. The very 80's action is like an R-rated A- Team or, as I like to say, of the Golan-Globus variety.
Peter Goldson is captured, hands tied behind his back. No problem. He just bites the bad guys and jerky headbutts them. Goldson kicks one baddie into a weedeater. He crashes into a warehouse on a motorcycle, going so far as to jump the cycle to one attacker, sending the front wheel into his head. Many a nondescript stuntman gets knocked through a wall, his neck broken, receives an epileptic pummeling, is run over, torched, or meets a cheap squib splattered death. I swear the boats used in one sequence are just slightly modified Tunnel of Love carnival boats. Rainmaker wears spiked loafers. One of the henchmen eats two live lizards, for real (sorry PETA). While Rainmaker is raping Goldson's wife, they cut to a picture of Goldson on the wall, tan and oiled, muscle flexing, black sunglasses, Lionel Ritchie hairdo glistening, black mesh muscle shirt, and holding a gun. That scene alone reaches a level of b-film chessiness that nearly killed me with gut-busting laughter.
The DVD: Troma
Picture: Full-screen. As if the full-screen and worn picture weren't enough to clue you in, you can tell it is vhs-sourced based on some vhs contrast wear defects in a couple of shots near the end of the movie. But, honestly, what the Hell were you expecting? This isn't the kind of film likely to get an original negative restoration. I'll probably give it ½ a star more simply because of its rarity, and I'd venture to think finding an original negative or clean print of the film would be a pain.
Sound: Once again, what else would you expect other than a muffled mono dub? The voice acting only adds to the laughter, including some cumbersome banter between Johnny and Peter. There are several dialogues where the intention is for it to be lighthearted and funny- but it really isn't- therefore it turns around and becomes funny again. The guy doing Goldson's voice is so over the top, he makes He-Man sound understated.
Extras: Chapter Selections--- Troma trailers and web info.
Conclusion: Well, the market for this kind of film is small. I don't know if the selective audience is going to be willing to fork over $20 for a vhs quality, no-frills transfer. Yeah, you don't expect top-notch quality when it comes to this kind of film, but you also don't expect to strain your wallet. Certainly if this were more bargain priced I'd say it was a decent b-film purchase. If you are curious/a fan, I'd hold off, rent it if you can, or wait for it to hit the discount bin. Rest assured, it will.