Killers Edge, The (1990)

I was reading a news article today about some shady, opportunistic Chinese entrepreneur in Mozambique. He thought North America was part of Europe. Then he asked the journalist, “What is Portugal exactly?” This is a true story, meaning this is a man who exists in space-time and is living and breathing today. So, the reporter drew a map to explain Earth. The entrepreneur, of course, was surprised; he had spent an entire lifetime not knowing some important shit. For example, that Portuguese comes from Portugal. Que surpresa! Obrigada!

My point is that I’ve discovered some important shit and I’m embarrassed I didn’t know about it.

What if I told you there were a movie where Wings Hauser and Robert Z’Dar go head to head, toe to toe, mano y mano? What if I told you that in this same movie, Wings eats waffles and Z’Dar wears a bathrobe? And what if I told you that Karen Black was also in this movie? Would you snort and say, yes, Annie, you’re talking about The Killers Edge, you ignorant fuckstick and assert your encyclopedic knowledge of trash action and feel intellectually superior? Or would you be like me, an ignorant fuckstick, and say, OH SHIT, WINGS AND Z’DAR (and Black) IN THE SAME MOVIE?! I WILL SELL MY MOTHER TO SEE THIS.

Please answer honestly because either way, you win. Everyone wins.

Some thugs counterfeit bills to the tune of 45 million dollars. They high-five. “If you weren’t so ugly, I’d kiss you.” A shootout ensues and suddenly there are a few dead bodies. Z’Dar stands over them with a gun and a nefarious smile stretched across his colossal jaw. He plays a merciless crime boss who shoots unarmed men and slits his girlfriend’s throat in a style that detectives can trace to the Vietnam War. This style, I should note, looks pretty standard and not in any way Vietnamese. We all know the most distinct way of throat-slitting belongs to the Colombians, but this is a minor detail because Wings Hauser is on the case.

Wings plays, once again, a loose cannon of a cop, and, once again, he is magnificent. He’s a bit grizzlier and worn down, and his hairline’s a little higher, but he’s still classic, original-flavor Wings. He shoots criminals in a restaurant while he proposes to his girlfriend (which is done by throwing a jewelry box on the table and asking “Yes or no?” Spicy Wings.) The captain is fed up with his antics and yells—what else—”You have no respect for human life. . . . You are a disgrace to this department.”

But luckily, Karen Black, in a turn as a straight-talking, chain-smoking FBI agent, saves Wings from suspension. You see, Wings is a very good detective and knows the Vietnamese style of throat-slitting because he himself was in the war.

The movie unfolds as Wings and his fearful partner track down Z’Dar, his band of merciless killers, and a giant stash of counterfeit dollars. There are a few racist slurs, plenty of gunshots, some sensitive love-making, and three too many flashbacks to the Vietnam War. There are also many scenes where Wings just acts like a regular dude.

I fully admit to reading Us Weekly when I’m at the doctor’s office or getting my haircut. It’s a guilty pleasure, and I think it’s, like, totally important to know who wore it best. But my favorite feature is called “Stars are Just Like Us.” It’s the first section I “read.” It’s a spread of photos of celebrities doing normal things: eating ice cream, buying cereal, leaning on fences. The Killers Edge reminds me of this section: Wings is Just Like Us! He eats waffles! He goes to the batting cages! He falls into a pool! He ice skates and slips! He makes love! He cries!

It’s true. In this movie, Wings cries. I can’t say this is something I’ve ever seen, or maybe I have seen it before but just blocked it out because it shatters every idea I have about Sir Wings Hauser. In my heart of hearts, he is a hotheaded lunatic or a fast-talking whipsmart detective or a tortured lone wolf who makes good, but he is never, ever a sensitive man with feelings. Legend has it that for every tear Wings sheds, Chuck Norris loses a nut. Norris lost exactly one nut from this movie.

In the final showdown, Wings and Z’Dar battle each other on a secluded island—the only place where two monstrous egos can clash without harming the public. The face-off is underwhelming, and not just because my expectations are impossibly high. There just isn’t enough banter or blood or twists. Not even a Vietnamese throat slicing. Z’Dar doesn’t empty his machine gun while sounding a battle-cry and Wings doesn’t make any witty callbacks before landing a right hook. It is a standard fight scene, and while it’s not boring, it just doesn’t try hard enough. And if we know anything about Wings and Z’Dar, it’s that they try so, so hard. I blame director Joseph Mehri for the ending, but I applaud him for bringing together a cast of trash-action behemoths to create a fun ride. Plus, waffles.

Finally, it’s disappointing that Wings does not contribute to the soundtrack, but Z’Dar does play a grand piano, which has a spot cleared for Samurai Cop’s head.

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