2004. Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #38
MAX HAVOC is possibly the most controversial of Albert Pyun's films. Its production is notorious due to the producer defaulting on a loan granted to the production from the Gaum government and the case being dragged through the courts for several years. A lot of mis-reporting and false information has been put out onto the internet and sadly Albert has been wrongfully dragged through the mud alongside the producer. The fact of the matter is that Albert was never paid for his work on MAX HAVOC and actually lost a shitload of his own investment. The specifics of the backstory can be found online and the film, which was released was a producers cut, which I am reviewing right now. Albert has recently completed his long-awaited director's cut, which he produced without a single cent of Gaum's funding. I will review his new cut as soon as I get a chance to see it. And so the producers cut... it has copped a shellacking and is often regarded as one of Albert's worst. I do take exception to this because, while clearly not amongst his best work, MAX HAVOC has a lot of merit. It's important to know that the movie was made as lead-in to a television series. The series never eventuated and so the movie had to stand on it's own. For what it is, it's good. Max is a former kickboxing champion, turned photo journalist, who is sent to Gaum for a laid-back assignment. He finds himself caught up with the yakuza, who are on a destructive and deadly path to retrieve a stolen artefact. The acting is definitely sun-standard but the story is decent enough and in true Pyun form, the action is sensational. Say what you want about Albert Pyun but you cannot deny his knack for action sequences. The fight scenes in this are amongst the best he's ever shot... and there's plenty of them to carry the movie home. At times the tropical Guam setting looks more like a travelogue but it also offers a criminal underworld that's aesthetically different to the typical Hollywood convention. David Carradine brings some welcome cred to the movie and keeps it respectable. The heightened action score also held my attention and kept reminding me that none of MAX HAVOC is to be taken seriously. I cannot wait to watch the director's cut but in the mean time this version aint nearly as bad as the loser armchair critics will have you think. Go in with the right frame of mind and you'll get a kick out of it (a roundhouse kick to the head!).