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  Never Too Young to Die You Don't Want To Know What I-Spy
Year: 1986
Director: Gil Bettman
Stars: John Stamos, Vanity, Gene Simmons, George Lazenby, Peter Kwong, Ed Brock, John Anderson, Robert Englund, Tara Buckman, Curtis Taylor, Jon Greene, Tim Colceri, John Miranda, Patrick Wright, Gary Kasper, Art Payton, Ivar Mireles, Randy Hall
Genre: Action, Thriller, Trash, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hermaphrodite supercriminal Velvet Von Ragner (Gene Simmons) has devised a new plan to gain untold amounts of money by holding the city of Los Angeles to ransom. How will he go about this? By threatening to pollute the water supply, and he has the means to pull it off thanks to his high-tech operation and army of followers who will perform his every command without question. There's just one major snag: the computer disc that holds the code to set off the attack has been stolen by a secret agent, Stargrove (George Lazenby), and he's not willing to give it back without a fight...

If you're thinking, well done George, finally headlining a movie after all those years in the cheap flicks wilderness since turning down another Bond, then hold your horses there because Lazenby only appeared in the opening ten minutes or so of this before getting bumped off. No, he wasn't the star, he was the special guest, for the actual leading man was John Stamos, the year before he found American sitcom fame in Full House, playing Lazenby's son Lance. He's a high school student who happens to be an excellent gymnast, a plot point which if you've seen Gymkata you might expect to feature heavily in the action sequences to follow.

You might think that, but apart from a couple of "special" jumps it has nothing to do with what happens next - maybe the producers just wanted to see him on a trampoline wearing a leotard? Anyway, once Lance hears of his father's demise he is understandably not best pleased, not least because he never really got to know him as well as he would have liked to. But after being contacted by one of his dad's bosses, he finds himself out for revenge on the man who executed Stargrove, who happened to be Von Ragner, the real reason this has attracted the cultish attention it has since its release. It was Gene Simmons from KISS in possibly his campest role, dressing up transvestite style and purring seductively.

If you can think of anything more of a turn-off than that, keep it to yourself, but if nothing else Simmons was worryingly memorable in his spangly outfits and huge perm, even performing a nightclub act as if he was Marlene Dietrich in some old Josef von Sternberg movie. As you were left pondering what the hell the filmmakers thought they were doing, the movie burbled along regardless, as if each additional item of absurdity was perfectly reasonable for your average eighties action outing, so there were plenty of sequences where cars were chased, bombs went off, and fists flew. As far as you could tell, this believed it was an adventure in the James Bond vein (why else hire Lazenby?), but even A View to a Kill didn't sink to these levels of oppressive tackiness.

What Never Too Young to Die proved was getting that particular quality of Bond movies was not as easy as it looked, something all those spy cash-ins of the sixties had proven quite convincingly, but hadn't put off those of lesser means emulating them for decades. This was not looking forward to the Bourne series, as you couldn't have placed it anywhere except 1986, what with its screechy synth score (by about five people) and the love interest played by Vanity. She was a fellow agent who falls in love with Lance, though seemed to have been hired to perform in a sort of softcore pop video sequence where she finally seduced our hero as she made little impact elsewhere. The other guest star was Robert Englund, in between Nightmare on Elm Street entries, who gets about three lines as the computer expert Van Ragner has hired. Featuring a climactic battle where Stamos sinks his teeth into Simmons' bosom, this could only have been made by a team with spectacular lack of self-awareness as to how weird they truly were.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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