J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Check Point: Invasion North Carolina

According to civic legend, Lincoln had an emergency escape tunnel dug beneath the White House, stretching all the way to Chester Duncan’s farm in Port City, North Carolina. Even the locals admit it seems strange our 16th president would take refuge in the Tar Heel State, but apparently that tunnel is for real and a band of false flag bad guys intends to make use of it in Thomas J. Churchill’s Check Point (trailer here), which releases today on DVD and VOD.

Port City looks like a pleasant small town. Sheriff Thomas Hancock knows everyone and the decommissioned Navy battleship in the harbor is a nice tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the bad guys intend to commandeer it too. They are what you might call a mixed lot. Some are legit terrorists, like the evil Cyris, whereas others are supposed patriots determined to stage a coup d’état out of disgust at rampant government corruption. They have been stoking national anxiety by abducting and beheading soldiers in the manner of Daesh snuff videos, but local homeless veteran Roy Boyle discovers the executions are taking place right here in Port City.

Check Point features a terrific cast of cult movie stars, including Fred Williamson, William Forsythe, Michelle Lee, Kane Hodder (the best-known Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise), your freshly crowned WWE Universal Champion (and Celebrity Apprentice alumnus), Bill Goldberg, and old school martial arts villain (Game of Death, etc.) Mel Novak making a cameo appearance as the town’s Reverend. It is also refreshingly patriotic and sympathetic to the challenges faced by veterans experiencing PTSD.

Unfortunately, that cool cast has to stand around making small talk for the first sixty minutes while waiting for the narrative to start. Granted, people are neighborly down south, but this is an unusually chatty film. Frustratingly, you can also see where corners were cut due to budget constraints. This is particularly true when the battle is finally joined and a platoon of soldiers supposedly comes piling out of a small civilian helicopter, as if they were all crammed in there, clown car-style.

Still, as farmer Duncan, Williamson brings plenty of attitude and sense of fun to the film, like the old pro he is. Lee and model Mindy Robinson share a nice fight scene, while Goldberg is definitely a credible action hero. Just as you might expect, Hodder’s Cyris makes an entertaining non-horror villain, but he frankly doesn’t get enough screen time.

We wish we could be gushier about Check Point, but the script should have gone through more revisions and more funds should have been raised before they started production. Yet even so, it is hard to pass up a film brimming with so many pro wrestlers, crossover-stunt performers, and exploitation veterans. Check Point has its heart in the right place, but it is what it is, when it releases today on VOD and DVD.

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