As you know by now, it didnt. If you managed not to catch it in its long-delayed VHS debut in 1993 or the burn-on-demand DVD released in 2011 just to piggyback off the big-budget, blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger now you can see it the best its ever been and likely ever will be, via Shout! Factorys Blu-ray.
Even given the success of last summers Cap-included The Avengers, I never thought his first feature film would hit Blu-ray. Why? Because its awful so awful, Ive seen it six times now! Here are just three reasons for its awful awfulness:
1. Its from Cannon Films, which specialized in many a Chuck Norris and ninja movie in the 1980s.
2. Its directed by Albert Pyun, whose credits at the time included the Mystery Science Theater-ified Alien from L.A., and more recently, H.P. Lovecrafts Cool Air.
3. See 1 and 2. Repeat as necessary. (I obviously have; its one of my all-time favorite bad films.)
Pyun sprints through the Marvel Comics origin as soon as he can. What takes place at about 30 minutes into the new movie occurs at about seven in this one, as beefy soldier Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger, son of The Catcher in the Rye author, J.D., which boggles the mind) is transformed into the just-as-beefy Captain America, as part of a top-secret government science project during World War II. As a witnessing member (Michael Nouri TVs NCIS) of the military brass remarks, He may not be Superman.
Amen to that, Lt. Col. Louis! Even Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (another Cannon offering, by the way) is gold compared to this comic-book adaptation. With absolutely zero training, Captain America paratroops into enemy territory: I wont let anyone down sir. I love you, Bernieeeeeeeeee!
Then he gets his ass frozen for 50 years.
Cap believes that his archenemy an Italian boy called the Red Skull, as the U.S. military puts it is behind the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, and that the next target is another higher-up whose last name also begins with K: U.S. President Kimball, whos played by Ronny Cox. The film reunites Cox with his Deliverance co-star Ned Beatty, but this time with no man-on-man anal rape. (Perhaps thats in Pyuns directors cut?) The two play pals since childhood, with Beatty now a dogged reporter.
As for action, Cap does a flip over a car and gets to throw his shield a few times. If you think a superhero like him should get involved in a bike chase set to a generic 80s synth score, youre going to be very pleased. Speaking of that decades wretched music, Captain America sports two of the worst rock ballads preserved on film, courtesy of Ivan Neville and Southside Johnny. Theyre more evil than any plot perpetrated by the Red Skull (Scott Paulin, TVs Castle), whose makeup is actually pretty good.
Cant say the same for the special effects, which are as poor as the movies Walter Cronkite impression it tries to pull during the 50-year transitional sequence, in which various headlines are pasted on to the same fake-newspaper story.
Shout! Factory has branded the Blu-ray as a Collectors Edition, but theres only one extra feature. Luckily, its a goodie: a half-hour piece in which Pyun (clad in a wolf T-shirt) and Salinger reminisce about the films making. Pyun mentions how Howie Long almost landed the role, while Salinger recalls the costume was so difficult to get on and off, hed have to give the crew a half-hour bathroom warning.
It was worth it, Salinger says. I mean, youre playing Captain America. Rod Lott
Hey! Read This:
The Avengers film review
Captain America / Captain America II: Death Too Soon DVD review
Captain America: The First Avenger film review
H.P. Lovecrafts Cool Air DVD review
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXVI DVD review
The Superman Motion Picture Anthology: 1978-2006 Blu-ray review