Whatever it Takes (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The first thing that strikes you as a bit unusual in this film is the casting. They started with a typical Grade B cops-and-mobsters script about Italian undercover cops infiltrating an Italian mob which is dealing in complex illegal steroids. There is nothing especially ethnic about the script, but the characters are all named Salano and DeMarco and Menardi. When they cast the film, however, they decided to go in a different direction. The part of the lead cop, Neil DeMarco, was assigned to champion kickboxer Don "The Dragon" Wilson. I'm not sure exactly what nationality The Dragon is, but you can wager safely that it isn't Italian.

On the other hand, Wilson looks a lot more Italian than Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, who plays the part of mob boss Paulie Salano. 

I guess it wouldn't have made much difference, except that they made no effort to adapt the script to the cast. For one thing, why not just change the names of the characters? For another, although Williamson is an African-American, he is training "his brother's kid" to be a mobster, and the nephew is played by a typical Mediterranean looking guy! They could easily have changed the script to "his best friend's kid", but they just figured "what the hell" and started the cameras rolling. 


Vicky Pratt, as a fitness instructor, does a striptease before bedding Fred Williamson. She is highly-muscled.

two anonymous extras are seen naked in a post-sex scene with a professional wrestler.

Don The Dragon's partner is played by insult comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay. This made for a nice looking video cover, in which all of the three main characters had colorful nicknames between their first and last names but, unfortunately, these three guys are pretty old and tired, even The Dragon, and their fight scenes looked like the Senior Olympics.  
  • Fred The Hammer probably came off the best as a cruel guy obsessed with foot care. (Hey, can you blame him for being obsessed with a kickboxer? Kickboxers are a foot fetishist's dream.)
  • The Dragon's fight scenes were brief and not very athletic, and the ol' Dragon spent more time fighting baddies with his automatic weapons than with his Feet of Death. Although The Dragon wasn't as athletic as in his younger days, he showed even greater zeal than ever for knocking Vince McMahon off the pedestal reserved for the guy with the least subtle facial expressions. 
  • Clay had to work hard to disguise a lot of extra weight, and didn't really take part in the scenes which were physically demanding. The Diceman did have a few funny quips during the film, but the closing credits featured him doing some stand-up material about farmers, which made no sense at all in context. (The story takes place in the inner city)

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Letterboxed, 1.85:1. A surprisingly good looking widescreen transfer for a low-budget film with no theatrical release.

  • no extras except a trailer

IMDb viewers were merciless in rating the film a 2.7. I think that's probably too low. While nobody will mistake this for Grand Illusion, it moves along quickly, and adds some humor and characterization. I never fast-forwarded, and the flick has some beautiful fitness babes to look at. I suppose it should be more like a 4.5 - a typical run of the mill made-for-video film, not awful to watch, but not good, with nothing that you haven't already seen before. Just filler for a sleepless night.

You may like it more than the rest of us if you're really into bodybuilding and related fitness issues, since it features wrestlers, fitness babes, body shaping competitions, etc. 

The Critics Vote

  • No reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 2.7 
  • With their dollars ... no theatrical release
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Not a good movie, but a watchable if unoriginal made-for-vid.

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