Last night I was listlessly watching the channel channel, the usual endless parade of crappy offerings scrolling round and round. Suddenly, a movie description yanked me out of my stupor. Something along the lines of “Chuck Norris as a Chicago cop trying to keep the evil sceptor out of the hands of the devil.” I underestimated what I was about to view, that’s for certain.
Hellbound turned out to be even better than it sounded.
For starters, it’s a circa 1993 Miami Vice rip off. Chuck Norris is Kung-fu Grip Chicago Cop Frank Shatter. His partner is the quintessential neatly dreadlocked, effeminate and non-threatening, endlessly wise-cracking Black man played by an “actor” named Calvin Levels. The IMDB links to a Calvin Levels who is most assuredly not the Calvin Levels in this movie, because that Calvin Levels is an older white actor while the Calvin Levels in Hellbound is none of those things.
Levels gets a lot of weird lines that are either cloying and ineffectual in-jokes about his character’s sexuality or just painfully bad writing, such as when he tells Norris that the reason he told him to turn left because “he was tired of (Norris) going straight all the time.”
So anyway, Shatter (Norris) and Jackson (Levels) are partners and for some reason they have to accompany the body of a murdered rabbi back to Jerusalem and answer some questions for the Israeli police. The biggest question, why a demon needed to go to Chicago in person to kill this rabbi, is never answered. Apparently, despite having loyal satanic minions, this particular demon is a bit of a control freak.
So Shatter and Jackson go off to Jerusalem, Jackson protesting all the way because, as a Black man, it’s cruel to make him miss the basketball playoffs. It’s necessary for Jackson to go because otherwise there’s no one to play the comic foil to the lovable pickpocket scamp they of course take under their wing. (And then forget about in the middle of a car chase – presumably the kid spends 45 minutes of the movie laying on the floor in the backseat of their car???)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Jackson and Shatter go to Israel. Jackson is allowed to cart a priceless gold sceptor-top in his jacket pocket, despite the fact that it is the murder weapon. And a priceless and mysterious artifact. And the murder weapon. Did I mention that?
Now, of course, before they head off to Israel for much wackiness, they show the sceptor-top to a beautiful archeologist at The University, for reasons that are too stupid to bother to explain, but which do explain to us that it’s a priceless and mysterious artifact. She tells them that the sceptor belonged on the staff of a demon, but some monk broke the staff into 9 parts and buried it in 9 different holy places so that it could never be put back together – although the monk left a map that shows where each piece is located of course.
She knows this because her boss, who is played by the guy who does the voice of the baby on The Family Guy just happens to specialize in this particular myth but he can’t talk to them because he’s on a dig in…Jerusalem.
You’ll never guess where that’s going.
So Shatter and Jackson go to Jerusalem, which is portrayed basically as Baghdad circa 1932 so that we can have much Indiana Jones type wackiness while the producers take advantage of the non-union ultra cheap labor, er, I mean, the authentic locations.
We learn that “flea market” is Israeli for “swap meet.” Really. But that’s not my favorite part of the movie. My favorite part is when Shatter and Jackson wait for the Jerusalem police department to close for the night, break in, disarm the police station’s night security guard and…
They wait for the police station to close. For the night. They break in to the police station, which is closed, for the night. The police station has a security guard.
Excuse me, I have to put my head down for a moment.
You know, what happens in this movie isn’t really important. What is important is that this film take it’s place at the right hand of the Exorcist II in the temple of Bad, Bad Movies. Although Hellbound lacks a drunk Richard Burton, James Earl Jones barfing up a leopard, or a gratuitous Linda Blair tap-dancing sequence, it is, nevertheless, a thing of great Badness.
This fine, fine film, incidentally, was directed by stuntman Aaron Norris, brother of Chuck Norris. What a wacky coincidence!