Enforcer from Death Row (1978)

We’ve come to the end of a loosely connected, months-long, trio of reviews that featured the late, great Leo Fong.

Welcome to B-Movie Enema. This week, I’m going to take a look at 1978’s Enforcer from Death Row. This film comes pretty early in Fong’s career as an actor. While we are accepting the fact that this movie was released in 1978 and was called Enforcer from Death Row, the film is also listed on IMDb as Ninja Assassins with the date of 1976. Some of this can be explained by a couple factors at play with this movie.

First, the 70s were kind of known for a couple things when it came to film distribution. You had independent studios cranking out low budget movies and then shopping them for distribution. That distribution, especially for movies like these kung fu/exploitation/low budget action flicks would land the films either at drive-ins or in grindhouse theaters. Second, this was a movie made in the Philippines. That was kind of a southeast Asian haven for films to be made quick and on the cheap in the late 60s and 70s. There are some very fine, if not extremely simple, movies that came out of the area during this time.

You’d also find a lot of talent like one of the co-stars in this movie, Cameron Mitchell, getting roles in these movies because they needed talent, recognizable people, and they needed them somewhat cheap. Mitchell kind of checks off all three boxes and then some. But the point I’m making, it would have been put together, then needed time and name changes to start appearing on movie screens over here.

But… there’s not much more known about this movie. One of the co-directors of this movie was Efren C. Piñon. He had a decent career. He mostly worked in the action genre with a lot of martial arts stuff going on. He worked with folks like Leo Fong, Fred Williamson, and Vic Diaz. These are all folks who we know pretty well around these parts. His career spanned about three decades. In the 2000s, he made a more religiously slanted movie with Williamson called Transformed. He’s still around from everything I can see but he’s not currently making anything that anyone is aware of.

Our other director for Enforcer from Death Row is Marshall M. Borden. This was the only film he directed. He was mostly an editor, but even then, he doesn’t have that many credits. The three most notable credits are as assistant editor on 1961’s West Side Story and 1963’s The Pink Panther and as editor on 1981’s Wolfen. There’s nothing on his resume after 1983. I’m not even sure if he’s still around.

So, wow… We’re really off to the races here, huh? Well, the only cure for that is to really just dive into this movie and see how Leo Fong and Cameron Mitchell enforce things from death row while assassinating ninjas.

The movie opens with a guy climbing over a wall at night with two masked ninjas following him. All this is set to a sweet 70s soundtrack. It’s the kind of soundtrack that if it turned out that Shaft and Super Fly were the masked ninjas chasing this guy, I wouldn’t be surprised. The guy is eventually caught by the ninjas – of which there are many more looking for the guy. They kick him around and drown him.

The movie shifts to Arizona where a white dude and a black dude with a sweet afro show up at the headquarters of, get this, the World Organization of Peace, or WOP. So white dude sits down at a table of mostly more white dudes and that black dude with a fro, and another black dude with some sweet sideburns, and delivers the bad news that some of their agents have been killed in Manilla. I have many questions about WOP. Well, I have many questions about WAP too, but this is WOP’s time to shine for now.

First of all, this is some Birdemic or Miami Connection level shit here. World Organization of Peace? Now, I just did a cursory search for World Organization of Peace in a google machine. I started getting nervous when I saw it was one of those suggested searches as I was typing it out. I couldn’t possibly be making fun of something real… right? Nah. Here’s the thing. There are two organizations that are close but the wording is real, real close. First, there’s the World Organization FOR Peace. Second, there’s the Organization for World Peace.

Both of these have a word that is doing the Lord’s work – FOR. There’s a big difference between having a organization looking for world peace and an organization that is just OF peace. Let’s get a little pedantic, yes? So the WOFP and the OFWP are out there raising money, having conversations and doing stuff to try to find a future in this world that war and inhumanities and such are no longer a thing. Swell… They are humanitarians. Got it. This WOP, which I TOTALLY SWEAR is me referring to this bullshit organization and not a comment on what’s likely to be the Italian guy on this organization’s board, is doing what…? They are of peace. They have agents. Are they sending people, referred to as agents, out to bring about peace by way of… I dunno… like, James Bond shit? That’s not peace. Also, I’m assuming the titular enforcer from death row is going to punch and kick peace into you.

I referenced Birdemic and Miami Connection. This WOP is Birdemic-like in the sense that it’s a dumb name that sounds, I guess, real. The WOP is Miami Connection-like if they need to bring in a hardened criminal to enforce peace by way of violence. We might be in for something truly special here, Enemaniacs.

Okay, so here’s what’s happening. These WOP agents are being killed by a guy or group named NOMAD (I totally bet that’s Cameron Mitchell… it HAS to be, right?). NOMAD is putting in some serious work to prove they are serious bad guys. If the heat is still on them from WOP, they will continue to kill agents and innocents. Speaking of innocents, the head of WOP says that the World Health Organization has reported a population on one of the islands is suffering from mysterious illnesses and what have you on an epidemic level of infection. There was also some chemical warfare shit stolen from Baltimore so there’s probably some connection to all this.

Well, what do you do when the world is threatened to not have the peace that the WOP is all about, but their agents are killed within hours of arriving on the scene? You go get yourself a Leo Fong, motherfuckers!

Fong is playing T.L. Young. He’s set to be executed by California and the United States for a murder he did not commit. So Mr. Anderson, another agent at WOP, is sent to retrieve our soon-to-be hero. He gives some guy an ultimatum to do what WOP wants or his family will be endangered. You know… what peaceful organizations in the world would do to ensure cooperation.

So there’s a whole escape plan here for Young that is kind of complicated and stupid. Young is gonna be executed, but Mr. Anderson gave that other guy something to diffuse the cyanide and acid that is used in the gas chamber. In addition, Mr. Anderson, posing as a priest, goes to Young and gives him a pellet to bite into as the gas starts to pour into the chamber. I guess that’s going to help him survive. In addition, there was a team supposedly sent to retrieve the body.

There’s a doctor sent in to check Young’s vitals to make sure he’s dead. In doing so, he also injects a serum into Young’s arm. He gives the thumb’s up that, yup, this dude is dead and a team rushes him out to an ambulance to revive him. He’s got Leo Fong business to do…

Mr. Anderson tells T.L. Young that he no longer exists. He was saved and he has his freedom, but to the rest of the world he’s a dead man. He’s now got a mission and Anderson’s boss wants to talk to him about it.

Young’s response? “How much money and who do I kill?” says the new hire at the World Organization of Peace.

Anderson is going to let Fong get some rest and regain his skills and strength before meeting the boss. This means a Leo Fong training montage that we typically don’t see later in his career. Anderson comes and collects Young to go to Arizona to talk with the boss. So it’s off to the World Organization of Peace. The boss says WOP is a sort of security group that will help wipe out criminals that might threaten the stability of the countries and so forth. WOP gives Young a plane ticket to Manilla and $100k and a new name. I don’t remember what they say his name is going to be now, and I don’t care. I’m just going to call him Leo Fong because that’s who he is and that’s what he always plays in these movies.

They give him a name of someone to meet up with. That guy is snooping around the home of a guy who is sitting on an ugly couch and drinking cocktails with three sexy bitches. They rough the guy up to make him talk. They suspect he’s with WOP. They discover a radio transmitter on the guy so they tie him up and dangle him over a cage full of big, deadly snakes.

I guess Leo Fong isn’t going to be meeting that guy anytime soon.

We then find another scenario in which a man, Mr. Sullivan, goes to a meeting with a guy. He’s told it will be $5 million to kill a guy he wants dealt with. He says he’ll think about that, but then is shown to a room to sex up a prostitute. Just as things start to get exciting, he’s attacked by ninjas and a big henchman. They capture him for being a spy and decide to feed him to the rats.

Here’s the main problem with this movie, and it’s not the quality of the video I have for it or the bad acting… It’s the fact that we don’t know anything about anything. The WOP is, I guess, the good guys. They are up against an evil organization with a henchman who has an ugly couch and three sexy bitches to drink booze with. We don’t know what this bad guy’s business is other than he has some chemical warfare shit and he doesn’t like the WOP. We know WOP is secret, but we don’t really know what they do or why. It’s intrigue for the sake of intrigue. That’s really it.

Anyway, Leo Fong goes to meet Filipino Micky Dolenz.

Leo Fong goes looking to meet up with Jose Cervantes. That’s the guy who got caught sneaking around the bad guy’s compound. He finds out that Jose hasn’t been seen since the day before. Leo finds out where he’s registered and bribes the front desk girl to give him a key, but someone is hanging out in the lobby waiting to see who comes poking around Jose’s stuff.

As Leo Fong pokes around, he’s attacked by ninjas. Leo is able to fuck up one guy, but a second guy comes in and knocks him out. He makes off with this particular item in Joe’s suit case. When Leo comes to, he chases after the ninja taking off on a motorcycle. So now, get this… In the ensuing chase between the ninja on the motorcycle and Leo Fong in a car, the address book, or whatever it is that Leo Fong got beaten up for, falls out of the ninja’s pocket. Leo Fong finds it. So I guess that ninja didn’t really accomplish anything. Leo Fong, somehow, just kind of stumbles into success time and time again in his movies.

We continue to meet more cast members. Another guy who is maybe from WOP (but I also don’t think he is) is captured and hung upside down. This time over a big vat of acid that he is being slowly lowered into. One of the lady scientists working for the bad guys sees that he’s hanging out in a pretty precarious situation and frees him. I guess maybe she’s an inside person for WOP (but I also don’t think she is)? So this dude, Danny, escapes certain, horrible death.

Later, Leo Fong is sneaking about the bad guy’s compound just like everyone else from WOP does while the bad guy drinks booze on his stupid looking couch with his trio of bitches. When he’s discovered, people try to out-kung fu Leo Fong, but this is younger, pre-Low Blow Leo Fong. He’s gonna be able to kick you back quite often. He is able to get away from the baddies and drives off into a car chase.

This might be pre-Low Blow Leo Fong, but it’s still Leo Fong with a moving vehicle, so guess what happens…

So he sees some bad guys go into that little house and Leo Fong simply drives his car into the place, jumps out of the car and the place EXPLODES. This doesn’t sit well with the bad guy spies and they torture another agent with WOP to find out about who Leo Fong is and gives our baddies whatever the new name WOP gave him.

It seems to me that every single agent with WOP is apparently in Manilla. I swear the baddies have killed about 27 WOPs. Then a really weird sequence happens. Spencer, one of the big shots of the bad guy spy organization has a tender conversation with his secretary where he tells her how he would have nothing without her. She takes this to mean that she did a good job. He means it as a way to express his love for her. They go for a walk on the beach where she tells him about how she used to go to the beach all the time and build sand castles. He tells her that she’s beautiful and the scene ends with them looking each other in the eyes as the sun sets.

What is this fucking movie? Seriously? Why should I care about the bad guy’s love life? He’s a real bad dude. Why should I now care about his happiness? What especially makes it bad is that this girl seemingly either has full knowledge of what this guy does or she’s just kind of obliviously stupid. I see no indication that she’s a bad guy too. I guess they had to find a way to add a couple more minutes to the movie’s runtime.

Leo Fong ends up another car chase, but, this time, it’s Filipino Micky Dolenz. Leo Fong gets away thanks to Danny and a helicopter coming along for Leo Fong to climb up into while still driving his car. Danny introduces his sister to Leo Fong. She’s the one who helped him get out of the acid trap earlier. She talks about Spencer, who is, supposedly, an American business man of high regard. Spencer has a pretty thick accent. I don’t think he’s American, but whatever. He also has proficiency in karate. I guess I know how this will end.

Anyway, we see some more bad guy ninja business happen. Who do they attack? I do not know. Why do they attack this guy and his wife? I cannot say. I know they rape the guy’s wife. Why did they do that? Because this kind of movie demands such a thing.

The lady scientist gets called into Spencer’s office to find out why she took a two hour break. He starts slapping her around and then begins kissing her. That’s when his new girlfriend, Brenda, comes in and sees what’s going on and starts slapping the shit out of the girl. I guess becoming Spencer’s girlfriend makes you into a crazy bad guy who slaps the shit out of women.

This movie sucks.

No, I mean it. This movie has no plot. There’s nothing happening here. WOP is an agency that does things that I don’t understand. The bad guys are bad guys for reasons I can’t say we’ve ever been told. It’s just a series of scenes haphazardly slapped together. There’s no intrigue and no interesting anything. I had hoped for something special with the previous comparisons to stupid stuff on the level of Miami Connection or Birdemic, but I’m being let down majorly.

Worse? There’s been NO CAMERON MITCHELL. Where’s that son of a bitch at? Why hasn’t he come in here and slapped a ninja around or, hmmm, maybe do some inappropriate shit to a woman? His insanity is exactly what this movie needs.

Alright, what do we have in this movie now that we’re moving toward the final act? Well, Danny’s sister is being questioned and forced to give info thanks to some sort of soldering device being stuck on her crotch. No shit. She’s getting tortured with a hot gun on her lady bits. Danny and Leo Fong are being hounded by ninjas. So Leo Fong says they can’t just wait around. They need to take the fight to the bad guys. So, they do.

And, man, do they. Leo Fong gauges a guy’s eyes out… ALL the way out.

And, just because this movie is bonkers, we don’t hang on Leo Fong cupping that guy’s eyes in his hands long before a boat off the shore explodes! Why did it explode? I dunno. I do know that Leo Fong STILL HAS THE GUY’S EYES IN HIS HAND WHEN HE GOES OVER TO TALK TO DANNY ABOUT SOMETHING.

It seems as though I’m trying to make this moment seem funny or kooky or fun to watch. It still isn’t. That said, the gauging of the eyes out is right up there with Leo Fong smashing that one guy’s head into buttery bits of head chunks in Low Blow. It’s an early indicator that Leo Fong is not to be messed with or something REAL bad is liable to happen to your face and/or head.

Leo Fong and Danny fight their way to Danny’s sister. She tells them that they plan to release the bio weapon so they go to the lab where it’s being kept and it’s just this dinky little room with some beakers and shit on a table. Anyway, they light the room on fire. The guy who is normally seen drinking booze with bitches comes in to karate Danny and Leo Fong. I don’t quite understand everything that happens here, but Danny gets knocked out or something. Leo Fong has to tell Danny’s sister that they can’t save him and they need to leave while the place is burning. Sucks to be Danny I guess, but I bet Leo Fong fucks his sister when this is all over. You don’t kick this many guys in the fucking face and guts and gauge eyes without getting laid after this.

Leo Fong takes on Spencer in a kung fu fight while a sexy catfight breaks out between Brenda and Danny’s sister. The sexy catfight literally lasts five seconds because Danny’s sister breaks a champagne bottle and stabs Brenda in the gut with it killing her. Spencer tries to escape in a helicopter, but Leo Fong stops him. He just jumps into the ocean. That means now Leo Fong has a fucking helicopter. He sees that Spencer has flagged down a car and has taken it from the guy. No shit, he tells the guy to pull over to check his tires. As the guy gets out of the car, he kicks the man into the road where he’s then run over by a truck. That, somehow, is far more interesting than Spencer trying to run away in a car from Leo Fong in a helicopter.

Anyway, Leo Fong has a crane hooked up on the helicopter. He takes Spencer to the water and submerges and I guess it kills him. Then cut to the henchman who was fighting Leo Fong earlier in the burning lab with a bandage over his face. He says he wants revenge and needs to train. Is… Is the movie over? Is this sequel bait? Wha… What is happening? Is Danny dead? How did he die? Was he dead from something the karate henchman did or did he burn up in the lab fire?

I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that Leo Fong is back in the United States and he’s there to see Colonel Beltran, the head of WOP. He’s instead met by Beltran’s superior, motherfuckin’ Cameron Mitchell!

The middle finger is for “I’m only showing up for the last five minutes of this fucking movie, assholes!”

Cameron Mitchell wants Leo Fong for future missions. He’s extra mysterious and makes sure to point out that he did not give Leo Fong his name. That shit is top secret. Before driving off, he tells Beltran that he’s the “man for the job” and he should be contacted immediately. That henchman with the bandage has bought a long range magnum, which is mostly useless because 1) it only has one bullet at a time and 2) this guy’s shit at shooting. It allows Leo Fong to run him down and kung fu his ass to death.

Need I say it again? Yeah, I think I will. Of the four Leo Fong movies I’ve covered on this blog, this is THE WORST of them. It’s so full of pretty much nothing. It’s kind of boring, but the thing that just burns the hairs on my ass all the way off is how absolutely uncommitted to having any kind of actual content worth a shit the movie is. All of the things in this movie, international intrigue, shadowy spy agencies, bad guys, kung fu, and Leo Fong, and you can’t make a movie that has something more interesting than some technical aptitude to Leo Fong’s karate skills?

Gosh, we’re really not off to a great start with the next 350 articles on B-Movie Enema, huh?

I need to call in a ringer to get things back on track. I need someone who can bring with him some pretty big, er, assets… And by assets I mean TITTIES! Yup, I need to call the man… The one, the only Russ Meyer! It’s been a bit since I had my Russ Meyer Month, so let’s bring him in for one before we close out 2022! Join me next week for his 1975 classic Supervixen!

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