It doesn’t get much better than a cheesy, ultimate sci-fi actioner from Jalal Merhi.
Jalal Merhi made a name for himself in the 1990s direct-to-video circuit with producing and starring in films such as Talons of the Eagle and the Tiger Claws film series. In 1994, he assembled the mighty quartet of muscles Billy Blanks, Bolo Yeung, Matthias Hues and himself for TC 2000. And what he and his fellows delivered in this low-budget martial arts flick is beyond all imagination, so let’s have a look!
In 2020, the ozone layer has been destroyed, and the world’s richest have taken refuge in an underground city. Jason Storm (Blanks) and his partner Zoey patrol the entrance to the underworld. One day Niki Picasso (Merhi) and his gang attack the gate and kill Zoey. A secret weapons program turns her body into the cyborg TC 2000, and she is sent to infiltrate Picasso’s gang who found a way to make the surface world hospitable again. Meanwhile, Storm uncovers a conspiracy, and is exiled. He meets martial arts master Sumai (Yeung), who trains him in the mystical power of the Chi, and together they to take on their enemies.
Death launch mechanism has departed, Surface World cleansing has commenced
This sounds like a lot of plot, but every new hook is really just an excuse to set up the next fight sequence. The environmental message the film carries is still welcome in our time, even though the destruction of the ozone layer has been prevented. But we can easily draw some parallels to global warming, and the scenario that the ultra-rich will be able to buy themselves safe shelter and leave the rest of us to suffer in an inhospitable world, has some disturbing credibility.
The underground is a giant, perfectly illuminated boiler room, and the overworld a strikingly tidy chemical plant. The budget must have been on the low end of the spectrum even for a DTV actioner, and the ultracheesy dialogues and acting are perfectly in line with this. It looks like all the money was spent on smoke, lighting, and body oil for the bare chests of our protagonists. This leads to great creations like helmets made from welding masks, a fortress built from cable drums, and fireworks to emulate world-ending missiles.
Jason Storm, report for total deprogramming right now!
The talent of the main cast lies in their martial arts prowess, and TC 2000 delivers a fight every five minutes. They all look pretty neat, even though nothing is spectacularly choreographed or shot. But there’s just so many of them, and with the absurdity of everything else that’s going on, spirits are high all the time!
We know an important fight is coming up when everyone goes topless before the beating starts, and especially Blanks likes to get rid of his shirt at every opportunity. He may not be much of an actor, but delivers the most awesome grimaces while fighting and sports a most intimidating hair cut that looks like a helmet.
Billy Blanks’ Ultimate Boiler Room Beatdown
His other cast mates are equally entertaining. Even though Matthias Hues’ massive body barely fits on the screen, it’s amazing to see how easily he delivers jumpkicks and roundhouse kicks galore. Yeung is an unstoppable force fighting guys four times his weight, and his chi superpower that “transfers power through objects” gives rise to many hilarious moments. Fashion-wise, Merhi and his Picasso gang take the cake with a wild mix of glam and punk rock attire, and face paintings you will only find in a self-expression workshop on a teambuilding trip.
Much of this may sound like a film that falls into the so bad it’s good category, but TC 2000 just radiates so much energy! The combination of fine martial arts action, a massive amount of cheese, and a likable low budget flair create a fun flick that is a lot bigger than the sum of its parts.