Search - What It Is...What It Was! on DVD

What It Is...What It Was!
What It IsWhat It Was
Actor: Various
Genres: Action & Adventure
R     2002     14hr 30min

Mean Johnny Barrows (1976 86 min)- He's lean he's tough and he's mean! Fred Williamson is a seriously macho hero quick with a gun and Hell with his fists. But when he goes up against the Mob it's anyone's game! Mean Johnny...  more »

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Movie Details

Actor: Various
Genres: Action & Adventure
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure
Studio: Bci / Eclipse
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/29/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 14hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Ten the Hard Way
B-Movie Nightmares | Sparks, NV United States | 03/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Do you like black action movies of the 1970's? I ask this because 8 of the 10 movies featured here fall into that category. Don't expect high budgets or perfect picture quality, and you might just enjoy 10 flicks for a cheap price. Here's all 10 from worst to best (more or less):(10) Paper: Incriminating Evidence. Looks like it was shot with a home video camera around 2000 or so. Rap music on the soundtrack. The skimpy story is secondary to the characters hangin out drinking, and it looks like they're really doing it. "All weed provided by cast and crew," according to the credits. There were lots of really annoying sound drop-outs, and it's all pretty boring. But hey, the guy that made it raps freestyle at the end with his friends. The beatboxing guy is the most talented individual involved with this movie.(9) Lady Cocoa. Filmed at Lake Tahoe, this stars Lola Falana as a prisoner being escorted to her trial by two policemen. When they stay at a hotel, she has to pose as the wife of one of the cops. Instead of being tough, Lola comes off as whiny and lame, a spoiled rich girl. It's boring until the last 20 minutes or so, plus the picture is crappy and the soundtrack is really scratchy. Football player Gene Washington stars as the phony cop husband, and Mean Joe Greene has a bit part.(8) Black Cobra 2. One of 3 movies in the set starring Fred Williamson, king of 70's black action. This is an 80's movie actually, and by this time Fred looks like he's just going through the motions. He plays a Chicago cop is sent to the Philippines, where he pairs up with an Interpol agent to fight bad guys. Fred smokes his trademark cigar. Some cheesy entertainment value here, especially the synth-rock soundtrack.(7) Death Journey. 70's Williamson, where he also directs. He is a bounty hunter type who transports a chubby accountant 3000 miles so he can turn state's witness against the Mob. The picture looks faded out, other than that this is pretty watchable. Fred fights a lot of hit men and impresses the ladies on the way, most of it with his shirt unbuttoned. "Music supervised by the Mighty Manchurian."(6) Velvet Smooth. A tough chick and her kung fu-kickin' lady friends investigate when a crime ring gets robbed. Really cheesy fight scenes, great 70's music, and funky clothes add up to a good time. Lady Cocoa could have taken lessons from Velvet.(5) Black Fist. Bad picture looks like a cheap video transfer. Otherwise, extremely fun. Leroy Fisk is broke, so he becomes a professional street fighter. Dabney Coleman is a corrupt cop named Heineken. Phillip Michael Thomas is hilarious as a drunk with long messy hair. Also featuring "Martin the Wonderdog," how can you go wrong?(4) The Black Six. A high school football player dating a white girl is killed by her brother's racist biker gang. His brother, who happens to be a member of an all-black Vietnam vet biker gang, comes to town and investigates. Gene Washington, Mean Joe Greene, and four other football players play the Black Six. There's some dull moments, but the ending is slam-bang action. The final words onscreen at the end are great.(3) Final Comedown. Billy Dee Williams, without moustache, gives a great performance as a member of a Black Panther-like group. The story is told mostly in flashback as the group stands off against the police. A politically charged film with lots of violence.(2) Mean Johnny Barrows. Williamson at his best. He plays a guy discharged from Vietnam for punching his racist commanding officer. He returns to the U.S. where he is down on his luck and gets involved in Mob action. Stuart Whitman and Roddy McDowall have supporting roles, and Elliott Gould has a bit part. Good movie with a great ending. Continuity freaks note: his Vietnam nametag reads "Johnnie Barrows."(1) The Black Gestapo. Violence. Outrageous dialogue. Lots of nudity. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! A Black Panther group goes more radical and becomes black Nazis. Russ Meyer fans will recognize Uschi Digard in a small yet memorable part. Tasteless and entertaining grindhouse cinema fare.Fans of black action movies need to buy this set. The picture quality falters at times, but I'm pretty sure with a lot of these low-budget films these are the best available prints on DVD."
Get down with your cheap DVD buying self
spejic | San Francisco, CA | 11/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Some good films for very little money. You just can't go wrong. Except for no extras, no letterboxing, dirty film, poor transfers, bad sound, a squashed transfer on Lady Cocoa making everything look flat, and the text of the copyright imprinted near the end of most of the movies right over the action.Movies with my grade:Mean Johnny Barrows (B) - Fred Williamson is a Vietnam vet who can't get a break, either in uniform or in normal society. After holding out far too long, he joins good Italian mafia as they fight bad Italian mafia. He takes out the trash and looks good doing it. He gets some unexpected revenge, but this world isn't built to give Johnny Barrows a happy ending.Death Journey (D-) - Fred Williamson takes a weekend to make a really bad movie. Plot is about a beyond-the-law driver who has to take a witness across the country - I think. Spends most of the movie in Arizona. Hopelessly confusing. Lotsa shootin, though.Lady Cocoa (B) - Calm drama about a self-assured black woman held in protective custody in Las Vegas by a black rookie and a white veteran officer. A little slow, but I like the characters and the twist at the end. Mean Joe Green has a large part, but never says anything.Velvet Smooth (B-) - Unintentionally funny movie about 3 funky women free-agents who help out the good gangster with their stunning kung-fu and accounting skills. Actually, their kung fu is hilariously fake. As are their accounting skills. A little long.Black Fist (B+) - Leroy can't find work, so he joins an illegal street-fighting network. He makes money and builds a life, but his boss decides to put him in his place. He learns that there is no victory in revenge, but only after sampling every kind first. Philip Michael Thomas has a bit part.The Black Six (C) - Gene Washington, Mercury Morris, Joe Green and 3 other football greats star as a black motorcycle gang of Vietnam vets roaming America and facing racism. The brother of their leader is killed, so they face off against the hundred strong white bike gang. Not much to it, but the Alamo style fight at the end is ok.Black Gestapo (A-) - An idealistic black self-help association is taken over by a man who twists it to his own designs: indoctrinating black youth in the fascist ideal, selling drugs and renting naked women. The original leader has to take it back - with prejudice! Great movie. Watching it make me want to storm South-Central Poland.Black Cobra II (D) - Fred Williamson must put out a movie every other week. Here, he is a Detroit cop so out of control his boss sends him to the Philippines to be a special envoy to Interpol. No, it doesn't get any better from there.Final Comedown (A-) - Hard core movie that is a real downer. Billy Dee Williams stars as a good man who faces countless humiliations in a racist Los Angeles until everything boils over into a Watts-style riot. Plenty of cops getting shot. Also lots of whining by white college pretenders to the revolutionary ideology. Presented in an effective flashback format. Sometimes hard to watch, but I think it is the best thing in the set.Paper: Incriminating Evidence (?) - I don't know how to grade it, because this is just mind blowing. Not blaxploitation, but a modern "urban" film with a budget of $43.25 made by well meaning guys who don't know anything about writing using their friends who don't know the first thing about acting. At least the camera is pointed in the right direction most of the time. The plot is indecipherable, but it kind of follows two killers for hire and their downfall. You cannot believe how many blunts are made and smoked throughout this film. Yet parts of the film are strangely attractive, like the extending driving though the South Bronx, and the chill sessions with their crew. The movie is actually really short - the last 15 minutes are a showcase for the stars' (lack of) rapping talent."