I keep making this stupid wisecrack about trying to seek diplomatic immunity at an International House of Pancakes. But the characters in 1976’s weird grindhouse heist picture Blind Rage spend so much time in one that I suspect they really think this is some sort of neutral territory akin to international waters.
A climatic fight will take place on the roof of the one in Hollywood. This is after the action has been to Mexico, Japan, China and the Philippines (where the film spends the vast majority of its runtime). One of the first scenes is at an IHOP, so the movie went around the world just to come back to what I believe is the same location. As a cop says on the CB near then end, “It’s going down right now at the International House of Pancakes!”
Fuck, yeah, shit always going down at the IHOP! The first scene set there has a criminal mastermind seat himself in a booth across from an agent who just attended a meeting where it was revealed millions of dollars is going to be held in a bank in Manilla.
This criminal “geeenyus” (imagine it said in a Wiley Coyote voice) is a performance so bad that I couldn’t stop laughing through it. Not only is his line delivery bizarre, but he keeps looking to his right as if he has a nervous tic, or maybe severe drug paranoia. There’s even the guy’s introductory line, “My name is Lou Simpson, but my friends call me…Wilbur”. Well, how about I call you Betty and you can call me Al?
At the earlier meeting where the agent learned about the money, he is told it is going to help “stop the domino theory.” That is an…interesting…turn of phrase. You see, that theory was the justification used by the countries which invaded Vietnam. The idea was that, as Communism toppled one government in Asia, it would topple another, which would topple another, etc. I assume the guy meant to imply this money would help stop Communism, because stopping that theory doesn’t make any sense.
Anywho, all of these relatively minor stupidities will be over shadowed by a far greater one which is the plot. Five blind men from various countries will be brought together to steal the money being held in Manilla.
You will likely ask, “Why blind men?” I was never sure, and I’m not sure the movie is, either. One character says it is so that, if any one of them is caught, they won’t be able to identify the others or their handlers. I guess the person who thought this didn’t consider the other senses a blind person has.
Another person says it is because somebody working at a bank seeing five blind men wouldn’t suspect they were about to rob them. My thoughts are that, unless somebody walked into a bank wearing a mask of some sort, I would consider anybody to be equally likely or unlikely to be a potential robber. What if it was five guys who can see, wearing dark glasses and using walking sticks and just acting like they were blind?
In the end, it doesn’t even matter these guys can’t see because they are rigorously trained to create the illusion they are not visually impaired. A full-scale model of the bank lobby is constructed and used to show the robbers how many steps it is to the withdrawal slips, teller windows, etc. They are even trained to fire pistols at the positions where people are most likely to be. I was stunned that, during this target practice, many of the trainers are far closer to the targets than I would be. Heck, I would be behind the shooter.
Leila Hermosa, as the lead trainer, is the only woman in this picture and it is a thankless role. When we first see her, she is assisting at a beeper baseball game at a school for the blind. That was interesting to see. Then she isn’t given much of anything to do in the training sequences. In one baffling and deeply regrettable scene, one of the blind men she’s training tries to rape her in her sleep.
Hiring somebody only because they work with the blind seems condescending, as the guys she’s training were doing perfectly alright on their own, especially the one who seemed to be under constant attack from martial arts experts. Since none of them have robbed a bank before, it seems like the best person to assist would be an expert in bank robbery.
So when they do the robbery, they have practiced everything as to give these the illusion they can see. Because of that pointless bit of trickery, a few innocent people get killed during the heist. Then almost everybody else in the picture dies when a tanker truck they are in collides with an airplane. You see, the handler and an assistance make a getaway with the blind men hidden in a compartment beneath the tank of a fuel storage truck. First, why use this type of truck? Second, why is it actually full of fuel?!
This movie is packed with weird aspects like that. When we’re told the backstories of the five blind men, we learn the first two were actually blinded by thugs in what looks like the Three Stooges’s eyeball-poke gag gone very wrong. Turns out none of them lost their eyes from ricocheted BB gun fire, which is what my money was on. There’s also Fred Williamson for all of like 10 minutes and it is all right at the end. Even the music is screwy, with a theme song sounding like knock-off Shirley Bassey, which ends in the baffling line: “When you fall into the system”. What system?
For that matter, what rage? Blind Rage is a spectacularly, often hilariously, inept movie where five blind men are pointlessly used to commit a heist. None of these men were especially angry and none got justice for the loss of their eyesight. Here is a movie so gloriously stupid, it can’t even get its title right.
Dir: Efren C. Piñon
Starring Fred Williamson (allegedly), Leila Hermosa, Leo Fong
Watched on Ronix Flix blu-ray