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5.6.15

WRITTEN REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger Part 2

By CORY CARR
Just in time for our month long tribute to Toxie, the hero of superhuman size and strength, Troma has released The Toxic Avenger: Part 2 on blu-ray -- a BLU/DVD Combo in fact! And watching a Toxie flick in high definition is like visiting an old loved one...who smokes cigarettes through their tracheotomy. It's something you are simultaneously excited for and repulsed by. But enough psycho-analysis of hill-billy weddings. On with the show!

Our tale begins Melvin Junko, AKA Toxie, who hasn't quite been himself since the events of the first film. Sure he cleaned up the streets of Tromaville, and eradicated political corruption, but now he feels unfulfilled. He has a deep longing for something he couldn't quite put his finger on and has even been seeing a shrink seven times a week to explore his subconscious in an attempt to cure his sorrow.


It's a shame all the folks at the Tromaville Center for the Blind are so...blind.

While Toxie was trying to overcome his feelings, Apocalypse Inc., a gang of sleazy, unethical and evil industrialists, moves into town in an attempt to take over and profit from polluting the land, water and air of Tromaville. Apocalypse Inc. knows that Toxie won't allow the destruction of his town so they first try to rub him out. They send a hired goon to blow up the Tromaville Center for the Blind where Toxie and his love, Claire, work. In spite of the total destruction of the center and the deaths of it's residents, our hero and his love survive and soon after, Toxie makes short work of Apocalypse Inc.'s hoard of colorful hired goons. One of which is played by a young Micheal Jai White of Spawn and Black Dynamite fame.

The board of directors at Apocalypse Inc. then hatch a plan to defeat Toxie once and for all. They plan to exploit the very thing that has given him his superhuman size and strength, “Tromatons”. Tromatons are what make Toxie strong and what allows him to detect the presence of evil. They will lure Toxie to Japan where a method exists to destroy Tromatons using the eyeballs of fish. Don't ask me, I didn't write it.


Not even the infirmed are safe if Toxie detects their evil ways.

Apocalypse Inc. uses Toxie's shrink to convince him to travel to Japan to meet with his long lost father. Surely being raised in a single parent home is the root of Toxie's melancholia. Before you know it, Toxie wind-surfs his way from Tromaville, New Jersey all the way to Tokyo Japan. And with him gone Apocalypse Inc. quickly takes over and begins ravaging the countryside, much to the displeasure of the Tromavillians.

While in Tokyo, Toxie saves the life of Masami, a young woman who had been attacked by a gang of hooligans and to repay the favor she vows to help Toxie locate his father. By the way, Toxie's dad goes by the name “Big Mac”. In Tokyo he is the big cheese. You could say he is “Big Mac with Cheese”. Make of that what you will.


Toxie takes in Japanese cuisine.

As Toxie and Masami scour Tokyo for Big Mac, Toxie must fight off a colorful cast of characters who work for Apocalypse Inc.. Oh but that's not all! Toxie samples the authentic cuisine, he learns the many customs of Japan, and he even dances with Japanese rockers in the park.

After all this, Toxie finally meets his father and the plan of Apocalypse Inc. is revealed when Big Mac threatens to use his “Anti-Tromatons” against him. A sumo match breaks out between the men and Big Mac is literally, cut down to size in a fish market accident.


Mr. Big Mac Junko, Toxie's pappy.

With his father defeated, Toxie returns home to find Tromaville in shambles. Ya think learning that his long lost father was a crime boss would send Toxie further into a depression. But instead, the time spent in Japan taught Toxie to find inner peace and just like that, he was back to normal cleaning the streets of Tromaville and running Apocalypse Inc. out of town. The film even ends with Toxie meeting Big Mac Junko, his REAL father. Surprise! The man he killed in Japan was Big Mac Bunko, a criminal fraud who ruined Junko's credit rating on a number of occasions. The End.

THE VERDICT
This film is a lot like the character Claire. In the first film Toxie's girlfriend was Sara, a young blind girl who, aside from being sort of ordinary looking and acting like a goof at times, was a very positive and caring character. In this film Sara was replaced by Claire, which seemingly was a mistake...or a bad joke that was lost on me. Anyhow, the actress who played Toxie's love was exchanged with Phoebe Legere who was known for her sex appeal and who also was directed to play the character like a ditsy bimbo who happened to be blind and suddenly more boob-a-licious than her previous counterpart.

This is my problem with The Toxic Avenger: Part 2 in a nut-shell. Like Toxie's girlfriend, it tries to be like the first film, but only bigger and better, and lost some of it's creative charm – and dare I say innocence – along the way. The villains were meant to be goofy and exaggerated in the first film, but in this they seem like unrealistic cartoons. Too much is played for a gag and before long I become disinterested.

This disinterest may also be due to there not being enough story in this 148 minute film to hold my attention. Much of it is Toxie getting into Japanese hijinks that don't progress the film fast enough. Yes, I enjoy the stunts, the fights and all of the practical effects which are EVERYWHERE in this flick, but there is too much going on that isn't important. The Toxic Avenger: Part 2 is;
5 parts Troma
3 parts National Lampoon
2 parts kung-fu flick
1 part promotional film showcasing the Japanese culture to tourists
With that said, I don't dislike the film. In fact, I think if you call yourself a Toxic Avenger fan, or better yet, a Troma fan, The Toxic Avenger: Part 2 is required viewing. It's an important film for Toxie, it's important for Troma and it's important for the entire “video age” or cinema.

As for the blu-ray release, it looks and sounds great! It makes a wonderful addition to my movie collection which it stands out from with it's Troma green case, instead of the standard blu-ray blue. The DVD in this 2 disc set comes with the same bonus features and extras as it's previous release. The Blu-Ray has some of the Troma standards -- The Radiation March and various trailers -- but it also has a new intro by Lloyd Kaufman and a vintage visit to the home of Toxie. Over all the BLU/DVD Combo has a well polished presentation. If your a fan who doesn't yet own The Toxic Avenger: Part 2, or you're looking to upgrade from DVD, this is well worth checking out!

THE TOXIC AVENGERS PART 2

★ ★ ½

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