Monday, May 28, 2007

Chopsocky Bob Chaney

THE INSTRUCTOR is one of those films that comes along so often that makes you just shake your head in wonder that it even exists. Making a good film is extremely difficult. Making a bad film is also hard, but making a film both this bad and this hilarious is almost impossible. This plotless wonder is still probably the best film ever made in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Bob Chaney, who looks like a hairy cross between Ron Jeremy and Burt Reynolds, complete with mustache, huge eyebrows and a large helmet of black curly hair (really, he looks like Count Dante in those old comic book ads), plays The Instructor (who may be named Hunter, but I couldn’t be sure). He and his karate student, Thumper Rhodes (played by writer/producer/director Don Bendell), are jogging and chatting one morning when they run across both a mentally disturbed “Mama’s boy” dressed as a ninja (who picks his nose) and a gang of punks who pick a fight with them at the railroad yard. After Thumper is easily taken out with a single blow (making his later karate championship quite laughable), The Instructor fights the rest of the gang using moves more akin to Rudy Ray Moore than Chuck Norris. Yes, I realize Chaney really is a karate grand master, but you wouldn’t know it from this movie.

Nothing in the opening twenty minutes has a thing to do with the rest of the movie, which introduces Bud Hart (Bob Saal), a rival karate instructor who is also evil, moonlighting as an assassin for a union boss. Hart and The Instructor were childhood friends until Hart raped and murdered The Instructor’s wife. Instead of seeking vengeance, like in every other movie, The Instructor turned the other cheek. He really doesn’t seem bothered by it at all, not even when Hart beats up a street cop in front of him. And not even when Hart asks the union boss to send some goons over to The Instructor’s karate school to vandalize it (they throw some papers on the floor) and rape his new girlfriend.

More chases and fights ensue. I’m not sure why. Eventually, Thumper is beaten half to death in the shower by the fat retarded ninja, who steals his karate trophy to display in his mother’s basement. The Instructor, suspecting Bud Hart, chases his nemesis all over Cuyahoga Falls in his groovy Stingray, then on a motorcycle, and finally down a waterfall and up a mountain. It’s a long chase and fight sequence, made even more riotous because Hart didn’t do it. The movie finally ends with The Instructor in jail facing a murder charge, but quickly released with a $500 fine and a suspended sentence!

In addition to the wonky story and inept action scenes (I can’t bring myself to call them setpieces), THE INSTRUCTOR provides plenty of laughter, including co-star Bendell’s wild hair and mustache combo, The Instructor’s occasional flashbacks to better times when his wife was alive (and to Hart and him as kids playing in the woods!), Chaney’s attempt at heavy dramatic acting when he discovers his friend’s beaten body (he clutches his fists, throws his head back and screams), and the ballads that punctuate the montages. Don’t bother trying to find out who wrote and performed them; this movie has the smallest credits I’ve ever seen. Bendell, much to our loss, never made another movie, but he moved to Colorado shortly after THE INSTRUCTOR and became a popular author of science fiction, western and military action novels. Chaney also moved from Ohio to California, where he operates a martial arts academy.

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