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The 100




Salsa
(1988)
Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 10 Beans

n the surface, this movie seemed tailor made for me. I am an enormous fan of flamenco dancing, fiery salsa music and hunky Latin American men. When I read "the sun goes down, the lights come up and the world turns onto salsa - it's hot''on the vid cover, I was like "grrrrr...."
But lustful growls soon turned to disgusted groans when I checked the opening credits and realised the star of the show was none other than Robby Rosa. Yup, that's right. Not only does this bloke look like he's been kissing a meat mincer, but in the mid 80s he helped perpetuate a musical crime called Menudo. Not only couldn't Menudo sing or play musical instruments, but they were regulars on the front cover of that august publication "Tiger Beat.''
Enough of the history lesson. On with the action, and I turn in that direction with great weariness. Not only has Rosa commited the unpardonable sin of making salsa dancing about as sexy as going to the dentist, but he cannot act. His portrayal of "Rico From Puerto Rico'' isn't just wooden. It's ply-wooden. Director Boaz Davidson must have really scoured the bottom of the B-list barrel to come up with an actor this bad.
Fortunately for the hapless Rico, he doesn't have to do much acting. All he needs to do is ponce and pout his way through 22 badly choreographed, poorly lit, unimaginatively filmed and inutterably cheesy dance numbers. Boy, does this guy dance! From the moment the opening credits roll till I felt the blessed relief of a sign saying "The End'', Rico was in constant motion. He dances at work, in the shower, on rooftops, in the hallway, while he's having dinner, you name it. Did somebody slip this guy some amphetamines before the cameras rolled or what gives?
His dancing, by the way, is pretty good. He's not Antonio Vargas or Joaquin Cortez (famous flamenco dancers who make my stomach drop clear to my toes), but he makes out. The dance numbers, however, are absolute shockers. The first is my personal favourite. You see Rico at the garage where he works. He's under a car. Then the salsa cranks up and he starts jerking his pelvis. Then he races around the workshop, hitting fellow workers with tools to seduce them into that sinfully sticky salsa. The whole workshop erupts and a woman turns up and starts twisting herself around Rico like a grapevine and...well, you get the picture.
The plot of "Salsa'', which is thinner than gossamer, is thus. Rico's the lord of the dance and he drives women crazy. His big dream in life is to win the annual Fiesta dance competition at La Luna, the LA salsa club where he hangs out when he's not grinding his hips under people's cars. Rico wants to be the King of Salsa, god damnit. So he teams up with his long-suffering girlfriend Vicki(Angela Alvarado) who - to quote "Showgirls'' - dances like a truck.
Rico soon discovers he hasn't got a hope in Hades of winning the trip to San Juan (first prize in the salsa dance competition) unless he finds a partner who's got it together. So he teams up with Luna (Miranda Garrison), the reigning Queen of Salsa and a right bitch to boot. Vicki gets upset, and rightly so. She also finds out that Rico's been engaging in a bit of salsa action with his sister's best friend Lola (played by - wait for it - Moon Orana). Rico, quite frankly, can't keep it in his trousers when he hears that funky salsa beat. That's his excuse, anyway. Personally, I think he's a sleaze of the first order.
Apart from being under the mistaken impression that he's God's gift to women, Rico is a macho pig. He doesn't seem to think his sister Rita (played by an actress whose name is mysteriously absent from the film credits) should be allowed to go out and dance at La Luna. Nor does Rico think Rita should be allowed to date his best mate Ken (Rodney Harvey).
Rita thinks otherwise and dates Ken behind Rico's back. The pair of them kiss a lot, fool around and indulge in some of the most dangerous motorbike stunts since Evil Kenevil. Rita cover's Ken's eyes with her hands, feeds him icecream and French kisses him while they're speeding down the highway on the bike. In another scene, Rita flits all over a public carpark, waves a jacket at Ken and pretends to be a bullfighter while he speeds straight towards her on his bike. Oh, and neither of them wear helmets. Ever.
As the movie dragged on, I noticed other stuff which really annoyed me. For instance, Rico drives this really flashy red convertible. Yet he never turns the engine or lights off when he stops anywhere. He just leaves the damn thing running all night. Ken has eyes like a poddy calf and a bleating little voice which drives me to distraction. And Vicki wears some of the tartiest early 80s get-ups it's ever been my misfortune to see.
However, I hung on till the bitter end because I was dying to see whether Rico won the dance contest and was named the King of Salsa. And you know something? The damn movie ended right in the middle of a cheesy dance number. The last thing you saw was Vicki, Rico, Ken and Rita all hugging in the middle of La Luna and all the other patrons rushing over to hug them. Like some kind of giant love in or something. What kinda movie keeps you hanging and rips you off as badly as "Salsa"? This is an eleven-beaner if ever I saw one.






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