Judge and Jury

Director: John Eyres

USA - 1996

  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! 

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If you're anything like me, you have often wondered: Whatever happened to John Kreese? You know, the evil sensei (with the remarkable mullet) from the Karate Kid trilogy? And like you, this question burned within me, torturing me...until now. And now, having finally seen another film starring the artist formerly known as Kreese, I can rest assured that Martin Kove is still upholding the fine tradition of active participation in crap cinema. "Sensei or not, I still think you're a punk! And your mullet is fairly ridiculous, too!"Sure, there may be a lack of Karate Kid movies to star in (for now, at least), but that's OK, because Kove will continue his legacy in something even worse.

And believe you me, this is even worse than The Next Karate Kid.

Kreese..er, Kove, plays Michael Silvano, a down-and-out ex-football player. His marriage is on the rocks, and the relationship with his son, saxophone player Kenny G, is strained at best. Well, if you want to get overly technical, Silvano's son isn't the real Kenny G; more of a younger variation thereof. Fine, he’s not even a younger variation; it's just the damn hair, I guess.

Anyway, we then learn that the root of Silvano's problems was planted many years ago - a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time - a convenience store, to be exact, during a hold-up by biker/hoodlum Joseph Meeker, and his recently betrothed Mary. Wait a minute, I just caught that...Joseph and Mary? Was that intended to be some hackneyed religious implication? Just when I thought this movie couldn't get any worse.

Moving along - so, it's a hold-up, and as we all know with movie hold-ups, things can never go smoothly. The clerk hits the silent alarm thus inciting Meeker to immediately blow him away. This, in turn, triggers a screaming fit in one of the patrons, so Joseph blows her away as well. Then, to add just a little more confusion to the situation, the authorities finally arrive. As the police burst through the door, chaos erupts - shots are fired, guns are dropped, and Silvano - somewhat inadvertently - shoots and kills Meeker's wife, much to Joseph’s dismay. After the carnage settles, Meeker is apprehended, convicted, and ultimately electrocuted (swearing to someday return, naturally).

Jump ahead approximately five years; Silvano’s life has just about hit rock bottom. Tortured memories and a volatile temper have put both his wife and son at odds with him. And just when it seems impossible for things to get any worse, Meeker (as promised) returns from the grave to exact his revenge on Silvano for killing his bride.

Judge and Jury becomes pretty elementary after that. Many women would love to find solace in the arms of Kenny G

We're treated to some boring chase scenes, a boring family abduction, and a boring final showdown in an abandoned theater. The keyword here being: Boring. This film is boring. Not only has all this crap been done before (once again, what hasn't?), but it's been done eons better.

There are only two other factors I feel are worth mentioning. Sadly, they’re both bad.

1) An abundance of bad (I mean bad) one-liners. These shameless writers should be spanked. Severely. I’m not talking about the occasional bad joke, we’re talking about multiple infractions per scene. They just keep coming. Relentlessly. For instance, take one poorly-choreographed fisticuffs scene (Please! *ka-ching!*), set in a kitchen, between the undead Meeker and Kreese. Upon entering the threshold, Silvano discovers Meeker donned in the attire of a French chef (I'll get to that in a minute). As they start to brawl, Silvano gains the upper hand and just as he is about to strike a deadly blow, Michael exclaims, "I don't even like French food!" Even at this early stage of the scene, it proved quite a struggle not to hurl my remote through the television screen. Then, as Meeker tries to put his adversary's face to an oven-top flame, he asks how Silvano likes his meat cooked, begging the witty reply, "No thanks, I'm a vegetarian!" And then, to top it all off, as Meeker proceeds to beat the daylights out of Silvano, he asks if Michael would like some dessert - Can you, Fair Reader, guess what comes next?

"No, I'm on a diet!"

Ha ha. Ha. Hrmph.

2) The Scooby-Doo Factor. Remember when Shaggy and Scooby, while attempting to elude the villain du jour, would sometimes duck into a room and as the creep followed them in, they would be decked out in some sort of wacky disguise? I used to love how it only took the comic duo about two seconds to transform a room in a seemingly haunted house into a fully-functional barber shop. Flaming footballs....of DOOM!Well, there is a similar theme that runs through Judge and Jury, difference being, here it isn't funny. Heck, it doesn't even fit in with the character. In the beginning, Joseph Meeker is introduced as a heartless, remorseless maniac. Then, after he dies and comes back bent on revenge, suddenly he's Mr. Dress-Up? We get to see him as the aforementioned French chef (complete with a handlebar mustache), a transvestite, and a clown, amongst others. Not only do these guises not mesh with the original scope of the character, but they're not funny either. (And please don't misinterpret that as an implication that the rest of the characters are well-rounded.)

In summation, this movie should not be bothered with - not even for die-hard John Kreese fans like myself. Preserve Kove's image in fond memories of the Ralph Macchio epics. After seeing this, his credibility may forever be tainted, and then you, like myself, may lose all respect for your favorite evil sensei.

Click here to check out some of the many wacky disguises of Joseph Meeker!

 

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-- Copyright 2000 by J. Bannerman

 

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