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TC 2000 (1993)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

TC 2000 (1993)

Starring: Bolo Yeung, Billy Blanks, Jalal Merhi, Matthias Hues, Bobbie Phillips, Ramsay Smith

Written By: T.J. Scott, J. Stephen Maunder (story), Richard M. Samuels (story) Directed By: T.J. Scott

The Short Version

This is what the direct to video era was all about!

B grade martial arts action meets B grade derivative sci fi.

For a flick on a cheap direct to video budget, TC 2000 really doesn’t look bad at all.

A cheesy script and hit-or-miss acting is broken up by lots of enjoyable action sequences.

Go in with realistic expectations, and TC 2000 is way more fun than it has any right to be.  I love it.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEEZ WHIZ.

It’s cheap, you know it’s not very good quality compared to other cheese, but it’s delicious and you love it anyway.  Bonus: it’ll probably survive into the post-apocalypse.


Pairs Well With...

RED DOG.

The official midnight movie beer of the mid 1990s.

“No one ever accused me of being bright.”


As the final remaining Blockbuster Video stores close their doors forever, let us look back with fond remembrance at the movie culture it once gave life to and allowed to flourish: the Direct To Video Era, especially its Golden Age of the 1990s and early 2000s.  Finally, low-to-mid budget features had an outlet through which to reach hundreds of millions of people besides movie theatres and television networks.  The size of the market exploded, with niche genres like action and horror coming out as the biggest winners.  Sure, there was a ton of cheese sitting on those video store shelves, but that was all part of the fun.

Case in point: TC 2000.

Let’s be real here: TC 2000 is not a masterpiece of cinema.  But it is, thanks to a happy combination of craft and accident, a masterpiece of cheese.  No Hollywood critic would give this movie the time of day, but it wasn’t made for the folks who huddle around the red carpet at pretentious award shows.  It was made for regular sci fi and action fans wandering (and perhaps sometimes stumbling) into video stores after dark looking for something to do with their eyes at the midnight hour while munching on cheap snacks and drinking cheap beer.  (Call it a niche market if you must, but that was one huge niche, let me tell you.)  Sure, it’s derivative as hell – if you can find half a dozen original ideas in this movie, you’re probably drunk – but that’s exactly the kind of thing the target audience was looking for: something familiar.  (Call it a comfort flick to go with the comfort carbs being consumed while parked on the comfortable couch.)

How familiar?

Picture if you will a post apocalyptic world.  Humanity has destroyed the environment.  Years ago, the “haves” escaped to a clean, well-supplied city underground, while the “have nots” were left to rot on the dying surface in squalor.  A dedicated force of cybernetically enhanced TCs – Tracker Communicators – patrols the areas near the underground city to keep marauding bandits away and in check.  There are whispers of a secret program to reanimate dead TCs and make them into super fighting cyborgs, but that’s not ready for prime time yet.  They say.  There’s also a story about a special machine that can either fix the ruined environment or kill everyone on the surface, depending on the setting, but it seems that no one can get in…

Then one night, a group of bandits called the Picassos finds an inventive way into the city, but instead of raiding the food supplies, they head for a secret storage area that even the TCs didn’t know about.  Zoey Kinsella (Bobbie Phillips, Chameleon), the oh-so-charming partner of the city’s best TC, Jason Storm (Billy Blanks, Talons of the Eagle), is killed in the skirmish.  Her body disappears.  Our hero quits the force and quickly finds himself in exile on the surface.  Gosh, you don’t think that something’s going to happen involving that secret reanimation program or that legendary machine, do you?  Hmm…

Let’s see.  Highlander 2, check.  Universal Soldier, check.  Hard to Kill, check.  I won’t ruin any potential drinking games by rattling off the rest, but there are a lot of them, and in that regard, TC 2000 is no different than most B-List Video Store Era fare.  What is different about this flick, though, is that it embraces its derivative nature and its undeniable cheesiness while at the same time reaching for something more… and getting it.  Be it through skill, voodoo, or sheer dumb luck, the creative team behind TC 2000 has found ways to turn pitfalls into assets and wine coolers into wine.  Call it the art of “yeah, but.”  For example…


Yeah, the budget of TC 2000 is obviously held together by duct tape and Canadian tax credits…

But the production design team has done an outstanding job of making the movie’s world look more expensive than it really is.  One of the major hazards of any direct-to-video sci fi flick of this or any era is that restricted budgets invariably make “futuristic” sets look so cheap that the viewer gets taken right out of the movie.  In the case of TC 2000, however, even if you intellectually realize how the magic is done, it still looks good enough that suspension of disbelief is never an issue, and that’s damn rare for this budget and genre.  (Okay, so they obviously picked up the soundtrack from a bargain bin, but all things considered, I can live with that.)


Yeah, Billy Blanks and Jalal Merhi (Tiger Claws) aren’t exactly the world’s most gifted thespians…

But Bobbie Phillips has charisma and acting chops enough to make up for the both of them, especially with action strongmen Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport) and Matthias Hues (Kickboxer 2: The Road Back) to finish up the top line.  (Bonus: Bolo’s actually a hero in this flick, which is rare enough to put TC 2000 on many a genre fan’s “must watch” list just for novelty’s sake.)


Yeah, Billy Blanks and Jalal Merhi still aren’t exactly the world’s most gifted thespians…

But they’re a damn sight better than Lorenzo Lamas any day of the week, and you know what?  They try.  Even better, director T.J. Scott seems to know exactly what he’s got to work with, and doesn’t attempt to draw blood from any stones.  He just gets the best he can from his actors, and then makes lemonade with it.  How?  I can’t help but notice that there’s no blatant comic relief or obvious silliness here, even though such things are standard “break it up” fare to keep action flicks light.  On the other hand, Billy Blanks does have a grieving scene that’s worth more than its weight in keystone kops.  Get what I’m saying here?


Yeah, Billy Blanks and Jalal Merhi still aren’t exactly the world’s most gifted thespians…

But they can fight and make it look good onscreen, as can the aforementioned man-mountain Bolo Yeung and giant Nordic dude Matthias Hues, and there are a lot of fights in this flick, which coincidentally happen at very regular intervals.  Better still, T.J. Scott, DP Curtis Petersen, the fight coordinators (including Mr. Blanks and Mr. Merhi), and the rest of the crew do a very credible job of showcasing these constant duels, brawls, and skirmishes to good advantage.  Is it Jet Li vs. Donnie Yen?  No, but it’s still lots of fun to watch Billy Blanks go some rounds with Matthias Hues and see Bolo Yeung pound pretty much the entire stunt crew.  Pulled punches aren’t obvious, and no one embarrasses him or herself by falling down after a clear miss.  (Never a guarantee in these films.)  At the end of the day, it’s the credible fighting on decent looking sci fi sets that will bring TC 2000 to the next level for most fans.


Yeah, the story’s really derivative and super cheesy…

But everyone involved knows it, owns up to it, and respects both their own work and the audience’s attention.  Sure, the acting is hit and miss, but no one is phoning in here, and that effort shows, as does the crew’s effort to do their best work behind the camera to maximize what goes on in front of it.  The act of making the film is taken seriously.  The script is also taken seriously… but not too seriously.  No one’s making a joke of it, but there’s just enough apparent self-awareness on everyone’s part to assure the audience that it’s okay to laugh and have a good time when Bolo punches a door and blows out the heart of the dude standing on the other side of it.  For the most dedicated genre fans, it’s this “getting it” that brings TC 2000 to yet another level on the cheesy video shelf.  Ergo…


Yeah, TC 2000 is still on the B-List…

But it’s on the A-List of the B-List.


I admit being surprised by TC 2000 this time around.  It’s been almost fifteen years since I saw it last, and I remember being less-than-impressed, back when.  (I’m really trying hard not to acknowledge that this movie is now old enough to drink in most American States, by the way.  It can’t be that old… can it?)  This time, though, I have the experience of having seen hundreds more of its brethren to call upon, and in that grand light – perhaps twinged with a tint of nostalgia for a now-bygone era – TC 2000 really isn’t that bad at all.  In fact, I’d say it’s pretty great.  Flawed and cheesy, to be sure, and no one’s Academy Award winner, but I find that I love it just the same.

Bottom line, if you remember those heady nights of walking into a Blockbuster Video to grab a cheap flick to watch over a cheap beer, TC 2000 is an awesome blast from the past.  Even if you’ve never had that experience (or won’t admit to it), it’s still worth a look for anyone who enjoys the B side of sci fi and/or chop socky.  Call it a party in a box.  (Or on a streaming connection, if you must.  Whippersnapper.)

And remember:  Be kind.  Please rewind.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, February, 2014

This review is for my friend and former partner in crime, Kenner. I've never actually watched a cheesy midnight movie with him, but I feel like I have.


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

Promotional/still images copyright their original authors. If you're going to drink, please do so legally and responsibly. Thanks.