Saturday, February 15, 2014

BABY BROWN (1990)


All South African movies are about apartheid even if they seem to be about nothing. It’s jarring (at least to a dumb American) when you watch a movie that takes place in Africa and all you see are a bunch of almost Australian people running around, with nary a brother in sight. It would be like watching Cotton Comes to Harlem and seeing nothing but white people, even in the crowd scenes. It’s like you're watching an Outer Limits episode where gentrification is pushed to a science fiction-y extreme. 

Regardless, Baby Brown is South Africa’s answer to the no-budget Lethal Weapon ripoff, but with women playing the mismatched buddy cops and with no brothers in sight anywhere. However, the two partners are not even brought together until 50 minutes into the 90 minute runtime. Before that, a bunch of plot and shit is setup I guess. 



You have tough lady cop O’Hara, who has no interest in starting a family or putting on makeup or playing with the Barbies. Just kicking butt behind a badge and serving as an inspiration to young women who dream to uphold the law and don’t mind absurd overacting. She also speaks in a ridiculous southern accent that comes and goes, as if this is supposed to help Americans relate to the movie and not be put off by its foreignness. 


To show the audience what a badass she is, she thwarts a pervert during possibly the greatest (and certainly the dumbest) hostage crisis scene in the history of cinema. Some crazy overacting asshole has a gun to a chick’s head and requests to talk to a female officer because, according to O’Hara’s douchebag misogynist male partner, “he prefers a material figure, a member of the weaker sex” to talk to. I think the screenwriter got “maternal figure” and “material girl” confused, which is doubly confusing to the audience because there is nothing maternal about Madonna buying clothes and jewelry. 


When O’Hara starts “negotiating” with the creep, he just makes her strip down to her underwear. If his only demand was to see a chick in her underwear, why not just make the girl he’s holding hostage strip down to her underwear? I guess we should just chalk up to random nutbaggery and move on with our lives, but I’d like to think this was all planned out via some twisted internal logic. 


Either way, it’s this kind of insane circular logic that I love in action crap like this. For example, when O’Hara and Ruso later team up after O’Hara’s partner gets shot, the commissioner makes them get drunk together while on duty so that they can overcome their differences and bond. You see, they instantly hate each other because O’Hara is a brunette who sometimes dresses a bit tomboyish and Ruso is a blonde whose outfits are sometimes a bit on the slutty side for a cop. They head to a bar and get plastered and a drunk redneck hits on them, because when an ultra tough person starts drinking at a bar, there is always a drunk redneck that bothers them. You’d think that rednecks would’ve learned their lesson by now that Southern Comfort does not make you invincible. Of course, O’Hara makes quick work of the guy with her very awkward fighting ability, apparently killing him with a mere awkward girly push to the ground. Earlier, Ruso killed a knife wielding thug by kicking him in the balls. For all of their vast differences, both O’Hara and Ruso have the amazing ability to kill tough opponents with a limited series of incredibly awkward martial art moves. 





Despite being cops on duty following orders from the commissioner, they are arrested for being drunk at a bar.  Not because they killed a redneck, mind you, because, let's face it, who gives a fuck when a drunk redneck gets killed. They are brought in front of the commish and are chastised because “the precinct does not tolerate drunkenness”. Their bonding “assignment” was truly a lose-lose, catch-22 waste of time. No wonder the police are so inefficient, what with contradictory policies like this. 
 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Raphael is the local drug lord who speaks in an indistinguishable accent, as does his nutball lead heavy (although a different indistinguishable accent). I guess the movie wants us to believe that it doesn’t take place in South Africa, but is actually a movie about a Kentucky cop trying to stop a collection of vague Europeans. Regardless, Raphael is the kind of ruthless drug lord that has his topless girlfriend fetch him a glass of scotch despite being 18 inches away from the bottle. I guess that is 80’s shorthand for “living in the lap of luxury”. 





Oh yeah, the topless chick is a police informant, which could spell trouble for her if found out, as Raphael already has a habit of offing girlfriends who aren’t even police informants. As a cop puts it, “as ladies get real close they get real dead…terminal love affairs…a lot of ex-girlfriends and axed girlfriends”. So, basically, the two lady cops have to harbor and protect the topless girlfriend from Raphael’s drug cronies, and this conflict is basically saved for the third act. It should come as little surprise that no amount of cronies carrying machine guns stand a snowball's chance in hell against two women that can instantly kill a man with a mere glancing shoe. 




Despite the heavy padding and awkward narrative structure and the score that sounds like Andy Milligan stock music run through a synthtrocity filter, Baby Brown is filled with the kind of stupid touches that bring joy to defeated fans of action trash horseshit. Every edit, line of dialogue, and character decision is an oddball, brain damaged imitation of “respectable” late 80’s action cinema. There’s the scene where O’Hara chases a thug on foot while he is bleeding to death. They give chase throughout half of South Africa despite the fact that he is carrying an uzi and could easily save himself by blowing off O’Hara’s face at any time, but no, that would deprive us of a token foot chase scene that last upwards of 7 hours. There’s the scene where a prostitute tries to solicit Yakov Smirnoff’s chunky cousin by promising a “good time”, but she notices that he’s already masturbating, and he retorts with “I’m having good time already!”.  Later, Raphael’s crony is able to find out the location of the secret police hideout because the drug traffickers have a maid working at the police station (?), and she conveniently keeps them up to date on the latest secret police information. 

 



There’s probably a classic piece of shit in there waiting to come out with some re-editing, maybe something along the lines of a female-centric Samurai Cop. Or maybe I should just embrace the brain dulling spurts of inaction and noodle curdling score, not as roadblocks and detours between the fun bits, but atmospheric bass notes in an action trash symphony that subtly jellos a mind that was never going to understand the world to begin with.

Here are some more random screenshots, for those hopeless enough to care: 
























5 comments:

  1. Almost Australian! Hee Hee! On the cusp of being from Canberra.

    Call me demented and sad, but looks like the greatest movie ever made.

    Mmm, hooker gifs.

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    1. Hooker GIFs are like oreos for the soul.

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  2. Is that a cell phone or a walkie-talkie? Why do I care?
    I nominated you for a Liebster Award/chain-letter. Here's the info; http://scarina.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/scarina-pockets-a-liebster-award/

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  3. Dude! I just posted this article on my Facebook. I've ... er, kinda loved BABY BROWN for years. It is EVERYTHING you describe. I'm so psyched that this shit show got your attention, and I truly enjoyed reading your take on it. Thank you so much.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I don't think more than 10 people have even seen it.

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