Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Toxic Avenger 2

The Toxic Avenger (1989)

Dir: Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz (Troma)

IMDB Rating: 4.6 out of 10

After The Toxic Avenger succeeded in establishing a strong cult following and essentially put the Troma name on the map it was only a matter of time until a sequel was made. Problem is more often than not sequels never live up to their predecessors and run the risk of damaging any fan appreciation that has been built up. Lucky for the guys at Troma not only did they manage to create a character and an entire universe very similar to those found in popular comic books of the time only with it's own special Troma twist , But The guys at Troma truly know how to make a good sequel. Taking all the elements that worked with the prior film and just expanding on them and taking them up just a notch enough to keep the fans coming back for more. As you can probably tell already, I like this film but how does it stack up against the original? Well, Let's dive in and see.

      After the events of the first film the town of Tromaville has been completely wiped clean of any crime and the citizens are overjoyed and dancing through the streets. With no baddies to chase Toxie takes a job at the Tromaville center for the blind with his girlfriend Claire, Which is a bit strange because there is no explanation as to why the name has changed or if it is a new blind woman he has shacked up with but my guess is they could not get the original actress to reprise the role of Sara? This is small potatoes though so, we shall move on. Things are looking up but, Toxie is getting bored with his new life without crime fighting. The boredom is quickly put to an end when the Apocalypse Inc. arrives on the scene and they want Toxie out of the picture so they can focus on taking over Tromaville. A bomb is delivered to the center for the blind and after a huge explosion kills all the residents Toxie survives and springs into action, Taking several of the Chairman's goons, One of which is played by a young Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite). After defeating the thugs , Toxie begins to suffer from serious depression over the deaths of the blind folks at the center and begins blaming himself. Meanwhile the folks at Apocalypse Inc. devise a plan to take out Toxie once and for all as they have some folks in Japan working on a Anti-Tromaton serum to relieve Toxie of his super human size and strength. Only problem is finding a way to get Toxie to Japan, The Chairman quickly solves this by using Toxie's missing father as a pawn and he manages to get Toxies Therapist to talk up the missing father being the root of his depression and informing him that the long lost father has been found living in the land of the rising sun. After talking it over with Claire , Toxie decides since tromaville is safe he can take some time off to reunite with the family member he has always yearned to meet.So, Off to Tokyo Toxie goes via Windsurf Board.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, Toxie notices his Tromatons acting up and he saves a young woman named Masami from three low lives. After he takes out the light work Masami promises to help Toxie in his journey to find his father. Meanwhile back in Tromaville , Apocalypse Inc has taken over the town and things are getting bad as they have flooded the streets with drugs while ruling  the streets with an iron fist keeping the citizens in fear. In Tokyo Masami and Toxie continue their search and It turns out that his dad is a well known business man who goes by the name of Big mac Junko, But not too many folks are willing to speak on his whereabouts.After a little searching they receive a tip that Junko is working in the fish market and Toxie finds Big Mac loading a truck for his fishing business. Shortly after reuniting with his long lost pop, Toxie's tromatons again alert him of evil nearby. Sadly for him the evil is stemming from none other than Big Mac Junko himself and it is revealed that the fish business is just a front for a Cocaine smuggling  operation. As Toxie pleads with his newly found father about his criminal ways , Mac tells his son that he is working for Apocalypse Inc and not only does he run a drug and white slave trade but he has also developed the Anti-Tromaton serum he plans on using on his own son. Big Mac sicks some of his lackies on Toxie and a fight through Tokyo ensues, Providing some very funny moments as Toxie disposes of his foes in typical Troma fashion which makes for some laugh and stomach churning moments.

Toxie closes in on his deadbeat father and Big Mac introduces a monster of his creation in which Toxie makes short work of turning him into a sushi plate. Then it is time for the big showdown between father and son as Mac shows off his Sumo skills. During the brawl Mac is violently murdered by an innocent bystander who is working at a small fish shop as he chops him up while not paying attention as his eyes are focused on the monster hero. However mid fight the Anti -Tromaton serum falls to the ground and begins to affect Toxie. Luckily Masami manages to get Toxie to safety and he awakes at a sumo dojo where the local Sumo's nurse him back to health before teaching him the ancient art. Once Toxie is back to normal he bids goodbye to his new Japanese friends and makes his way back to New Jersey. Upon arriving Toxie see's the damage Apocalypse Inc. has done and Toxie rapidly reestablishes his dominance and turns things around. The Chairman believing he cannot defeat Toxie calls in his Ace in the hole , A terrorist named The Dark Rider who is called in to suicide bomb town hall and destroy Tromaville for good. This leads to a long and exciting Car chase as Toxie hijacks a cab and tails the cyclist through the streets of Tromaville. Luckily Toxie is able to detour The Rider and he once again saves the day as the heads of Apocalypse Inc flee the town. Things are back to being peaceful as Toxie and the city rejoice, While he is celebrating with his friends and family a older Jewish man shows up and it is Big Mac Junko Toxies actual father, revealing that the mob boss posing as him was actually big Mac Bunko , A man who has ruined his credit for years. So Toxie now reunited with his entire family live happily ever after in a clean Tromaville. Though as we know this is not the end of the Toxic Avenger saga.

Toxic Avenger 2 is a prime example of a sequel done right, Is it perfect? No, But it does do allot of things right. The character of Toxic Avenger is basically a over the top version of a super hero much like the ones of Marvel and DC and Troma managed to create a perfect universe to allow this character to grow in Tromaville. The things this film did right are easy to spot as they turned the gore up a notch yet kept it slapstick enough to not turn the viewer off and a perfect example of this is the fight scene in the fish shop where Toxie turns seafood into weaponry making it much to silly to offend anyone but at the same time the part where Bunko is chopped up by the butcher is done well enough to please any gore hound watching, Also they managed to create a perfect villain army for Toxie to face in the form of The Apocalypse Inc. The story here may have been a bit to ridiculous with the trip to Japan and such but it is a arch that is very easy to continue to build upon and move forward within the Troma universe. Some things they did wrong, Well they are a bit harder too find honestly and when I think about it they just come off as nitpicks. Mainly being the costume of Toxie as I preferred the original better but as the series continued I got used to the new look and that look has become how I have grown to recognized to this day, Another thing is the strange unexplained change in love interests for Toxie. If it is supposed to be the same girl which it seems it is, then why the name change? Several films have had different Actors/Actresses play a role within a series so the name change leads the viewer to wonder what happened to the original if it is a different woman. Though in the end  again this woman is the one the viewer ends up recognizing as the series continues. So although I still like the first installment better than this one, It is not by much as this volume is just as fun just not as memorable and that is to be expected in almost any series with the exception of maybe Friday the 13th as most who know the series recognize Jason and not his mother as the main attraction. Next up I will be taking a look at the third installment of the series which oddly enough is the one I always have trouble remembering so perhaps after re-watching it for the umpteenth time and actually reviewing it perhaps I will uncover the reasoning behind why it is such a forgettable installment for me. In the end though in my opinion you cannot go wrong with any of the Toxic Avengers as they are all fun too watch and they are great films to just put everything aside and be entertained and that my friends is something I truly love in a film. Thank you Troma for providing me with such a series that i will never get tired of watching even after all these views and years have passed. To me Toxic Avenger has a never ending shelf life and that is truly rare too find in film these days.

Fun Factor:9
Overall: 7.5 out of 10

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