Killpoint (1984)

Let’s get back into some action stuff and reunite with Leo Fong in Frank Harris’ 1984 action spectacular Killpoint!

This week’s B-Movie Enema article is the second of three new Leo Fong features celebrating this action star this year. Just about five or six weeks ago, I featured Blood Street on the blog, which itself is a sequel to his endlessly enjoyable Low Blow. Later this year, I will take a look at one from the mid 70s. But this week, with Killpoint, we see Fong teamed up with Low Blow co-star Cameron Mitchell as well as director Frank Harris. Here’s hoping we get some of that Low Blow fun feel in this movie too.

Frank Harris only directed films from 1983, Killpoint being his first, to 1990. He was better known for being a camera guy and a cinematographer. In fact, with both this film and 1986’s Low Blow, Harris is pulling down double duty as both director and cinematographer. Outside of those two films, the only other one that immediately jumped out to me on his filmography was as the cinematographer for 1996’s Skyscraper starring Anna Nicole Smith. In television, he worked as cinematographer for several episodes of 2009’s kids’ tokusatsu show Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight. Harris passed away in April 2020 at the age of 76.

Okay, But now, let’s talk about Cameron Mitchell…

It’s kind of hard to believe this, but Cameron Mitchell has appeared in, now, EIGHT articles for B-Movie Enema and I don’t think I’ve ever really said too much more than to say, “Welp, there’s Cameron Mitchell over there just doing his thing…” Mitchell got his start, like many actors of his generation, doing crime dramas, war flicks, and westerns. Sure, he would have the occasional sci-fi or horror picture thrown in just to keep people on their toes, but he was often seen in one of those three main genres.

That said, he did appear in the very fine, early giallo by Mario Bava, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace where he played the owner/manager/operator of a haute couture house that is visited upon by a deadly killer and begins picking off models and designers one-by-one. However, while Mitchell had several roles on stage and in film and television for about 30 years, the mid 70s proved to be a pretty trying time for the actor. He filed for bankruptcy and was unable to pay his debts that came to about $2.5 million. At the time he had that debt, he had only $26 in two bank accounts.

He totally owned up to it by saying that what happened to him happened to many actors of his generation – making terrible money decisions. It’s really that mid 70s period in Mitchell’s career that really changed him into being an eight-time featured actor in a B-Movie Enema article. In the 15 years between 1974 and 1989, Mitchell was in theatrical and television movies one right after the other. A lot of these movies were cheap-o action flicks. By the mid 80s, being in those cheap-o action flicks could be a blessing as the video store phenomenon began picking up. So there was definitely work to be found. Now, Mitchell gets derided a bit from some for taking all these roles and working in these movies that were kind of beneath him, but, hey, Mitchell got paid, probably not too badly in the grand scheme of things, got top billing most of the time, and was constantly working.

Mitchell ended up passing away in 1994 at the age of 75. There are so many different things I could say about how he acted and get into deeper examination of that sort of stuff. Considering how often he appears on the blog, there could be a whole article dedicated to Mitchell. But, also considering there is no way in hell this the last time we’ll see him in a movie on this blog, I’ll have more opportunity to talk about Mitchell.

So, let’s get started with Killpoint!

The movie opens with a pair of army boots traversing a hallway. I’m gonna guess this guy is a super bad ass. And… Yes he is. This is no-nonsense henchman Nighthawk played by former baseball player Stack Pierce. Nighthawk rolls up on some poor, unsuspecting fool and guns him down in cold blood. Why did he do that? Well, hang on tight. I’ll get there.

Now, get this… The guy that Nighthawk killed was just looking around his desk, and kind of not really doing much but minding his own business. Nighthawk guns him down with a silenced machine gun. You might think that is overkill, but no. It’s all to leave that poor son of a bitch who was just doing his job and gets gunned down by this bad mofo lying in the legs of a chair that also got knocked over when he fell from being shot.

I don’t know why that tickles me so much, but it does. The guy gets plugged by a machine gun, then somehow lands all intertwined into the legs of that chair, and THEN Nighthawk goes over to see if he’s dead. I think you got ’em, Nighthawk. I don’t think anyone alive will just be hanging out in the legs of that chair like that.

Okay, so yeah, Nighthawk then goes and clips some wires on the security system and opens up a room that has a fuckload of guns. I mean a FUCKload. There are machine guns, something that looks like those kind of, like, rail guns or something, bazookas, and more. Outside, we get to see Cameron Mitchell doing something a little more bad ass than he normally does by having him checking shit out through the scope of a gun.

He looks at what’s likely a Mexican guy just sitting outside drinking a cerveza through the scope and squeezes the trigger. That brings the title to the screen and it’s fairly awesome. Mitchell, Joe Marks, then tells Nighthawk to go kill this gangster because no one else will be selling guns in Marks’ territory. This gangster is eating at a restaurant in town with a bunch of innocent bystanders. Nighthawk and goons kill everyone – even the women and children.

Agent Bill Bryant, following up on the stolen guns starts asking an informant what he knows. The informant says the guns are coming from a guy named Nighthawk. He also says Nighthawk works for a guy named Joe Marks. So, right there, in the first seven minutes of this movie, We know who the bad guys are, and we see the good guys get that information fairly quick. Agent Bryant is played by Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree. By this time, Roundtree was showing up often in movies as a supporting character in both low budget stuff and in mainstream flicks.

We then shift to Lt. James Long, Leo Fong. He’s a member of the Riverside, California Police Department. Long’s captain, Skidmore, totally reading his lines off cue cards hanging on the wall in front of him, calls the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), to Bryant’s boss, and he relays back the info that Bryant found out. Skidmore says that Long is going to be assigned to this deal and work directly with Bryant. The ATF dude brings up an important piece of Lt. Long’s past… A few months back, his wife was raped and killed and he’s probably not exactly in the best mental shape.

So give ’em a gun, some bullets, and assign him to this REALLY important thing!

Bryant tells the uniformed cops in the morning meeting about Nighthawk, the stolen guns that seem to match up with what was taken from the armory, etc. I was going to question if regular beat cops are the best people to be involved with heavy artillery from the army, but I guess Bryant satisfies my curiosity in that. He just says who they are looking for and how the ATF needs as much local help as possible. Okay, fine. I can accept that.

Later at night, Nighthawk is meeting with some goons. He tells them that there must not be any witnesses. If they get caught, there cannot be any lead given about where the weapons came from. If they tell the cops anything, he’s going to kill each one of them, and their entire family. They go to a grocery store and shoot the place up. Everyone in the store is killed.

The news report says that authorities believe the killings at the store and at the Chinese restaurant a couple days before are linked. This is due to brass casings found for the discharged rounds at both locations being consistent with the types of guns stolen from the armory previously. After Marks finishes watching the news report, we get to see some of Cameron Mitchell’s character’s quirks. He mumbles to himself, seemingly nervously, while watching the report. Then he tells Nighthawk how he and his crew made the news. When the doorbell rings, he says it’s Anita, some woman who just hangs around with Marks. She comes in with his little tiny poodle. Wow, this scene is extra.

Alright, so let’s break down this whole moment of insanity that Killpoint just had. Cameron Mitchell is playing an arms dealer who lives in a house that seems a little more normal than the house that an arms dealer would own. His main henchman, Nighthawk, is fuckin’ blood thirsty. I thought Anita is his wife, but she doesn’t seem to be sticking around long after bringing home Mitchell’s prized, adorable, tiny dog. So, I guess she’s just some lady that Mitchell knows. Nighthawk hates EVERYTHING about this fucking dog. His disdain for the thing is obvious. Mitchell has him make a drink for the woman. He goes and hears them arguing over how the dog shits and pisses everywhere. He’s going to use tongs and be real tidy about making Anita’s drink, but then decides to just paw at the ice and the lemon and everything. After the news talks about the heist of the weapons, Cameron Mitchell shoots the TV. Then, Mitchell wants this pretty girl, Candy, that Anita hired for something to come over. Yikes. Nighthawk wants a girl too, but Anita says that she’ll call him when she starts dealing little boys. Dang.

That all happened in just over two minutes of screen time. It’s bonkers. However, I can at least say that this one scene has given this movie its personality.

Candy comes over, and if you didn’t think things were going to be weird with Cameron Mitchell, he’s sitting in the corner, in a shadowy wicker chair while smoking a cigarette. He wants to know about her. She doesn’t really do stories about herself, so he asks for info in a different way. She says that she’s really a singer and just making ends meet until she can make it. Cameron Mitchell asks her to sing. She’s nervous and doesn’t know what to sing. He tells her to sing anything. If she doesn’t sing, he’s going to get physical with her. He yells at her, makes her cry, and is barely able to warble something out. He then tells her to take her clothes off. When she refuses, he slaps her around. It’s a really uncomfortable and kind of scary scene.

Now, that scene comes IMMEDIATELY after the goofy one that ended with Anita telling Nighthawk that she’ll find him a little boy and Cameron Mitchell shoots a TV out and fawns over a dog. Two back-to-back scenes has a very major clash in tone. Mitchell goes from kind of odd guy to a fucking rapist and killer.

Oh yeah… The very next scene is the cops finding Candy’s body and Lt. Long going to see it in the morgue that connects Cameron Mitchell to the the stuff that they already know about the weapons. Oh, and yeah, that’s right… Lt. Long? His wife was raped and killed too. I’m not sure he should be the one to go and check all this out. Oh whatever.

Long thinks about his wife and starts training. He beats the fuck out of his sparring partner. He shoots rifles and guns on the shooting range. He lifts weights. He does sit ups. He stares intensely. James Long has come to fuck up some bad guys!

Nah… I’m just fucking around. After an intense scene of his remembering his wife, and doing bad ass training montage shit, he just calmly goes to Candy’s apartment. He finds Anita’s phone number and that Candy has a sad looking golden retriever. Long goes to Anita’s house and I think Anita runs a little bit of everything that involves pretty girls. I’m assuming her legitimate business is probably a massage parlor. I’ll also guess she has prostitutes too. Anyway, when Long tells her that the girl was found strangled, she gets rather upset.

So now, Anita goes to Joe Marks and tells him that Candy’s dead. She more or less accuses him of killing her. Joe says nuh-uh he didn’t do it. She starts crying. Joe complains about women crying. He also tries to get his dog to smoke a cigarette. Nighthawk arrives and says that Joe didn’t kill the girl. Anita pulls a small .22 on Nighthawk and shoots him in the gut. He returns fire and kills Anita. Joe complains about everyone bleeding on his shit.

This is a crazy movie. It’s almost like those Godfrey Ho movies… You know, the ones that he made by taking half a movie, filming more stuff of his own, and then stitching it back together into a complete, barely interconnected movie? The stuff with Joe Marks and Nighthawk are on a wholly different level than the James Long and Captain Skidmore scenes. Cameron Mitchell and Stack Pierce are vicious and even, at least in Mitchell’s case, playful. As I said, there’s a ton of personality in those performances. Leo Fong is mostly staring and being stoic and being a cop. The guy playing Skidmore didn’t memorize his lines. It’s a completely different feel and flow with them.

Really, it makes this movie way more interesting than it has any right to be.

Lt. Long meets with a guy who knows a guy who may or may not know anything about that one thing that went down with those guns. This guy wants to know if the cops will be lenient with the informant. He tells Long where to meet the guy tomorrow. It appears the guy meets someone else who takes him to the bathroom and blows his brains out… Uh, I mean with a gun. He… He kills the guy by blowing his brains out with a gun.

But then Cameron Mitchell is in his pool with his dog.

I think this movie has a personality disorder. I should also mention that while Marks is in the pool with his dog, he’s got beefy shirtless dudes and karate guys in the backyard. Nighthawk is tired of cleaning up all the dead women Marks leaves in his wake. He also has very nearly had enough of that fucking dog too. They find out that the guy they sent to deal with the snitch that Long was supposed to meet did a real messy job. About 30 people in the bar knows what he looked like and what car he drove. So Nighthawk kills him to get rid of him.

Another round of goons, this time a group of Mexicans where before they were black guys that worked for Nighthawk, gets a bunch of the army guns and goes to shoot up a house with one of Marks’ rivals inside. I’m not sure if these guys were gunrunners or just a gang that would prove to be a problem for Marks and his operation or what. Either which way, more shooting. More dead guys.

What also happens is more Leo Fong going to the scene of the crime, looking at a victim, then driving off. Now he goes to a local Karate Tournament and just checks things out. I don’t think this is part of his investigation. I mean, sweet kung fu action’s going on here, but I don’t think this is helping stop the bad guys with all the army guns. He talks to a kung fu guy in the bathroom at the tourney and finds out about the guy who killed the gang – Sanchez. Sanchez just so happens to have been at that very tourney just about an hour previous.

I guess that’s why Lt. Long went to that kung fu meet.

So after Long beats up the gang and kills a guy, he takes one of the machine guns to Bryant. Oh yeah, I bet you also forgot that Shaft was in this movie. He was missing for quite a while. He does pop in from time to time to go for a helicopter ride while the Mexican guys kill the other Mexican guys. He also shows up to get one of those machine guns back that Long was able to get off one of the Mexican gang guys.

Another crime takes place at a liquor store with the army guns after a carjacking. This is what the movie is… A crime happens with lots of shooting. Then, Cameron Mitchell does something fucking nuts. Nighthawk kills someone. Then Leo Fong shows up to walk around someplace. And maybe, just maybe, we see Richard Roundtree do a thing. We know we’re due for a cycle to begin when a crime happens.

Every now and then something new gets added to the mix. For example, this time the cops actually capture the guys. They don’t stop them from killing a whole liquor store of people, but they show up to “apprehend” the bad guys. What I mean by that is they shoot most of the guys and Leo Fong karate kicks another so hard and so much it rips his sleeves and makes him bleed all over his chest.

Low Blow and Shaft interrogate the guy Low Blow beat the shit out of, but… Well, I’m not sure he doesn’t still need some medical attention. He’s still bleeding rather profusely.

Sylvester, the perp that got his face all fucked up by Leo Fong, doesn’t want to tell them nuthin’ about nuthin’ when it comes to those guys. Shaft tries to rough him up a bit. He tells him that Sanchez is about to sing. So they put him in an unpadded, on furnished cell some place deep in the bowels of the police station. Who’s in there? Sanchez. This seems like a real bad idea. The two fight each other until two cops come in and break it up. Did they not know this would happen?

Anyway, Sanchez asks for a deal. He tells Long and Bryant about a guy who runs a pawn shop named Bernie. Long comes in and asks for guns. Bernie says they got guns. He says he wants the heavy shit, you know, M16s, grenades, rocket launchers, etc. Long and Bernie meets in a shit-kicking bar that also kind of is a burlesque or strip club? Girls dance on a stage, but they are still kind of clothed, but just wearing tiny tube tops and thongs and shit. I dunno. This movie is weird and I’m not sure what happened to Nighthawk or Cameron Mitchell.

Long and Bernie meet. Long gets a meeting set up with Marks that night. He tries calling Bryant to tell him, but Crawford, Bryant’s superior answers and gets the info and says that Bryant is following up a lead on a bar where Nighthawk is said to hang out. Now, typically this would be worrisome. In a normal movie, we’d find out that Crawford is on the take or something with Marks, but Long doesn’t think twice about it and just gives him info about his upcoming meeting.

I should also point out that there’s a recurring thing that also happens with all that stuff I said earlier about the cycle of things that happen in this movie. Agent Crawford and Captain Skidmore are almost like a Greek Chorus in this movie. When there were things that were either too expensive or too hard to film, they pass info back and forth to each other in exposition dumps. Instead of Bryant answering the phone and telling Long that he has something to follow up on, Crawford delivers that line. Why? I’m guessing Richard Roundtree was not around many days and they ran out of time to have him tell Leo Fong himself.

Anyway, Bryant shows up at the bar and Nighthawk is immediately onto him. He has one of his bitches (seriously, he has multiple bitches around him in this bar) go over and get fresh with Bryant. She feels him up and shouts back, “Oh shit, Nighthawk! It’s the PO-LICE!” This ultimately gets Bryant shot by Nighthawk. Nighthawk then goes to a guy he thinks sold him out to Bryant and shoots him… many times.

Nighthawk don’t fuck around.

Long goes to his meeting with Bernie, Nighthawk, and Marks. There’s a lot of racially charged dialog, mostly from Nighthawk because, well, Nighthawk. Long says he wants everything Marks has and he wants it tomorrow. Marks says he’ll get him what he wants by tomorrow. Long leaves the bar and he gets kung fu jumped by some local roughs – some in tank tops, some in business casual.

I will give this movie one thing… This is maybe the only time I’ve ever seen Leo Fong defeated in a karate fight. Nighthawk comes out to ask him how he feels, and tosses in a “Chinaman” reference just to rub it in. Marks and Nighthawk comes to Long’s room to tell him that Marks set up the attack because he had to make sure he wasn’t a cop. He passed Marks’ little test. So I guess they are now all friends.

But Leo Fong is preparing for battle in the mirror…

Shit is about to hit the fan. Marks and Nighthawk go to a diner. The woman working there has a baby that she has to bring to work. On top of that, the baby is crying its head off. The woman is also just talking and talking and talking while that baby cries and cries and cries. Marks, or possibly Cameron Mitchell himself, is losing control.

He tells the woman to shut the kid up but she can’t hear him because the kid is crying and she’s talking. He then mumbles to himself and starts to get real irritated. Then he yells at her for a check. When she opens the cash register, he slams her fingers in the drawer and strangles her to death as Nighthawk comes in. Nighthawk just gives a look like he knows the boss man is losing his cool.

Speaking of the mental health of Joe Marks, he’s starting to doubt Nighthawk. He says he can’t trust him or that Chinese dude who wants to buy all his stock of weapons. Well, I can say that Marks is about 50% right about who he can trust. James Long is a cop. Anyway, Marks is not doing great. Earlier, Nighthawk did say he thought his criminal empire was going down the toilet when Marks was playing with his dog in the pool. What about his dog? He talks about how he misses the dog and, while he didn’t love it pissing and shitting on the floor, he still talks about how much he misses it.

Yeah, the dog died off camera. While internally, Marks is dealing with not being able to trust Nighthawk, he verbally seems to be treating him like normal. Marks meets Nighthawks in a secluded spot. He sticks his hands on the top of Nighthawk’s car window to peer into the back of his limo and talk with his henchman. Marks tells him that he misses the little dog so he wants a tombstone for it and he wants Nighthawk to go down to the place they originally got the dog from and get the two siblings that were there too. Nighthawk does not look like he wants to do anything of the sort. In fact, he has his driver raise the window to crush his fingers, similar to how Marks did that to the woman in the diner, and Nighthawk slits Marks’ throat.

Now, I feel like there are some missing scenes here or the script got a rewrite or something. The relationship between Marks and Nighthawk deteriorated fast. Sure Nighthawk was all business and certainly didn’t like Marks fucking about with that dog, but it wasn’t until the diner that we saw some sort of real strain between them. Nighthawk did say he didn’t exactly appreciate having to clean up messes that Marks had like the dead girls, etc. I have to assume that Nighthawk killed the little dog, but we don’t know that. There’s nothing there in the movie. Maybe that scene at the pool did have Nighthawk trying to explain more of his grievances but, man, Cameron Mitchell is chewing up so much of that scenery, it’s hard to say exactly what should have happened there.

Anyway, the big showdown has finally come. Long called Nighthawk and is ready to go pick up the weapons. Meanwhile, the cops are planning to spring into action to bust up the whole gunrunning operation. Nighthawk has two guys in the back of his limo with shotguns as his insurance policy for Long. Long has a grenade for his insurance policy too.

Nighthawk takes Long to the guns and he’s got the truck full of weapons so Long tosses the grenade and it sets off a shootout between Nighthawk, his men, and the cops. Leo Fong karate fights one of Nighthawk’s goons, and then another of his goons. Sadly, this is two years before his Low Blow powers kick in to turn a guy’s head into buttery chunks. However, he still gets into three karate fights of increasing skill and danger. This is very much like a video game. I wish there was an 8-bit Nintendo game of Killpoint.

In it you are James Long. You spar with your buddy on the police force. You shoot guns at the firing range. You have kung fu fights in alleys. You walk around. You have to successfully attend a karate tournament. You have to successfully be called all sorts of slurs by Nighthawk and Marks without blowing your cover and begin to karate fight them. You then have that final fight where you face off against three kung fu guys before getting into a shootout with Nighthawk but not before you get unexpected help from Marks.

You know what I forgot was going on? The movie Killpoint. I was so excited to talk about Killpoint for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Konami that I forgot the movie was still happening. And that’s because the end is kind of boring. The last interesting thing to happen in this movie is when Marks killed that poor girl at the diner. As I said, we suspected that Marks and Nighthawk was having a fallout, and there was that voice over from Cameron Mitchell explaining his distrust of Nighthawk, and Nighthawk slit Marks’ throat. Yet, that wasn’t all that interesting because we didn’t have a whole lot of that info or saw that deterioration or that dog die or nuthin’. There’s a shootout between the cops and Nighthawk’s goons. There’s a trio of kung fu fights that Leo Fong has to win, and then we think that Long will get the victory by shooting Nighthawk, but no… It’s actually Marks that finishes him off. I guess that’s kind of interesting that Marks survived getting his throat slit, at least long enough to kill Nighthawk.

It’s a weird ending. I’m not saying it’s a bad ending, but it is weird for what this movie was for the previous 80 minutes. If I’m being honest, I can’t tell you much of anything about this movie beyond “bad guys steal weapons from a military armory and good guys have to stop them.” There’s nothing more to say. Yet, there’s a lot more to be inferred. Yeah, Nighthawk and Marks have a falling out. You can see it on Nighthawk’s face, and that is great acting by Stack Pierce. While some scenes with Leo Fong are kind of listless and lazy, we could have used some of that time to tidy up the pacing and have more to show and say about that falling out between the two baddies. I think it’s safe to infer that Nighthawk killed Marks’ little dog, but we don’t know that. We don’t know the dog is dead until Cameron Mitchell wants to buy a little tombstone for it.

In all, there are some crazy things in this movie. Pretty much ANY scene that involves either (or both) Nighthawk and Joe Marks is just bonkers. Stack Pierce is such an imposing figure on screen. He’s perfect as the deadly henchman. But whoa… Cameron Mitchell steals this movie. He oscillates between goofy and downright scary. I’m surprised there was anything left of the film frame in his scenes because he was eating all the scenery around him. Honestly, Mitchell is more the reason to see this movie than anything else. You should be able to find it on YouTube. Leo Fong isn’t the Low Blow character here. He’s very straight and narrow in this movie. He’s not yet a bad driver and parker that we see in that later movie. He’s not very charismatic here (if you can actually ever say that about Leo Fong in his movies).

No, it’s Cameron Mitchell that you come to Killpoint to see.

Alright, that’s the end of this article. Tomorrow, on B-Movie Enema: The Series, it’s the last episode of the first half of Season 3 – The Pumaman! To get the episode, all you need to do is subscribe to the YouTube or Vimeo channels and follow on Facebook and Twitter to see when it drops! In addition, if you have a Roku, you can also get the B-Movie Enema channel and also see every episode there. There are links to do all those things at the top of the sidebar to your right.

As for next week’s article, it’s the first of a two-part duology. From Italy, it’s 1983’s Hercules starring Lou Ferrigno and Sybil Danning. Then, the week after that, we take a look at The Adventures of Hercules from 1985. See you back here in seven days!

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