Thankfully none of these films star Keith Urban, but are instead some previously unavailable Blaxploitation films. Coz as we all know now, "Urban" means "Black". I found this out years ago working at a video store when reading the monthly business catalogues that advertised "urban" films like Phat Beach and Belly as being very profitable in "urban neighborhoods".
But anyhow, there are fewer Blaxploitation fans as big as I(in loyalty, not body mass), and I've been waiting to get my mitts on two of these titles for some time now. Three of the four films feature martial artist, Jim Kelly, who we all remember from Enter the Dragon as John Saxon's buddy. First on the bill is Black Belt Jones, directed by Enter the Dragon's director, Robert Clouse. Jones is an all around butt kicker who works for a karate school run by Scatman "How'd you like some ice cream, Doc?" Crothers. He's also working with the feds or something. Some mafiosos employ their "urban" man, Pinky, to try and gain possession of the karate school by any means possible to expand their evil real estate project. Well, after Pinky's goons start roughing up Jones' pals, it's all out war with Jones slapping the snot out of everyone and winning over Gloria Hendry(who does some snot slapping herself). Tongue in cheek, and as Ronnie Dawson would say, "ACTION PACKED!"
Next up is Hot Potato, and this is the odd film out of the four. A sort of semi-sequel to Black Belt Jones, it's directed by the writer of that film......and it's rather lousy. Kelly is an agent names Jones(which is why we can assume this is some sort of sequel) in Thailand on a mission to rescue a senator's daughter or something(I ceased to care about plot details rather early on here) from an evil Thai crime lord guy. He gangs up with his white partner and an obese comic relief brawler(who has sandwiches fall from his shirt every time he removes it) to carry out the mission. This film is lots and lots of stumbling around in the jungle and getting into little adventures and fights along the way. It's done as flat out zany comedy, but it's extremely unfunny and boring. Definitely the least "Urban" of the four films. Best left in the vaults.
Things look up in Black Samson. Samson's one tough dude who runs a bar, carries a staff and owns a lion. He runs the neighborhood and tries to keep it drug and crime free. Once again the crime syndicate is after the property coz it's an essential piece to their plan. All around tough and evil looking villain, William Smith is given the task of breaking Samson down. But we all know what happens to evil white folks, especially William Smith, in these kinds of films. Good film that benefits from some good performances, especially the two leads.
Finally it's Three The Hard Way, with a great "urban" cast of Jim Kelly, Fred Williamson and Jim Brown. It's dircted by Gordon Parks, jr, who did Superfly. A white supremacist whack job plans on wiping out the "urban" race by poisoning the water supply, and it's up to three bad dudes to put a stop to it. Oddly enough, considering the cast and the director, this film is kind of a letdown. It's not bad, but certainly not as fun as it could have been. It's a lot better than Hot Potato, I'll tell you that. Three The Hard Way has been available, but in very lousy public domain versions, like many of Williamson's films. It's nice to see it get a proper release.
Considering the price, this package isn't bad at all. Two good films, one decent and one forgettable isn't bad for the low asking price. And the films are on two one-sided discs, which is very welcome. The quality is good. it's not painstakingly remastered or anything, but very acceptable. Worth it if you like the Blaxploitation genre, for sure.