Let me ask you something, what do you think a movie with the title Never Too Young to Die is going to be like? Is it going to be a complex mind-bending meditation on the frailty of life? Or is it going to be another bizarre eighties action movie? Well, I think that you already know the answer to that question. Now, to be fair, there’s some logic behind the madness here. Never Too Young to Die is a title referring to two things, the first of them being an attempt to mimic James Bond movies. However, this isn’t a straight Bond rip-off but more of a Son of a Bond movie hence the Young in the title. They even got George Lazenby who played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to play Lance’s father. Yes, our hero’s name is Lance, why do you think that’s weird?
With that out of the way, it’s time to really dig into this little gold nugget of eighties extravaganza. We will be following Lance Stargrove, a young gymnast who after the murder of his father decides to catch those responsible. During that quest, he will learn that his father was actually a secret agent who was killed by the post-apocalyptic gang led by an evil hermaphrodite. Just to be perfectly clear, they say in the movie that he’s an evil hermaphrodite, that is not something that I made up. Why is this important, I do not know. But at least it contributes to the overall insanity that is this movie. And Lance Stargrove is not the only cheesy name movie has for you. We’ve also got Velvet Von Ragnar, Danja Deering (not Ganja), and Cliff. Why, what’s wrong with Cliff?
Never Too Young to Die is a movie so bad that it’s good and a second movie featuring gymnastics in this category. The first one is, of course, the one and only Gymkata. The first thing that’s going to hit you is the heavy-handed storytelling. You know that old film rule show don’t tell? Well, they’ve not only told us, but they also wrote a manifesto, drew a diagram, and created a live-action reenactment. Secondly, you’re going to notice the breakneck pacing and surreal editing. The story is at the same time incredibly simplistic and yet perplexingly complex to comprehend. Stuff just happens, people appear out of nowhere and start telling their evil plans. Or they just wait for our heroes to punch them in some way.
However, since the movie opens with our main hermaphrodite villain’s story, it’s time to tell you that he’s played by none other than Gene Simmons of Kiss. He was pretty good, completely leaning into this over-the-top persona and offering a different kind of bad guy. The same goes for our main hero, Lance, not a very muscular or capable young man. But a man with determination, a lot of great hair styled into a beautiful mullet and his father’s secret agent genes. John Stamos gave a pretty straightforward performance and was a good counterweight to Gene’s craziness. The icing on the cake is Vanity, a stunningly beautiful Canadian singer-turned-actress. She made this movie that much better and each of the scenes with her were excellent. Her girlboss attitude, mesmerizing beauty, and loads of charisma will make you fall in love with her.
I remember first seeing her in the 1991 movie Neon City, a pretty cool post-apocalyptic B movie and fawning over her. She was gorgeous there and she’s gorgeous here. Speaking of the post-apocalypse, the gang our heroes will be fighting looks like it ran away from that type of movie. The only problem is that the world is pretty much alive and well. We meet Lance as he’s getting ready for a big competition at his college and all the other institutions and buildings look perfectly normal. Most of the locations we will be visiting looked surprisingly authentic. Just take Lance’s dorm room full of little details and posters. A room that he shared with Cliff, his Asian friend who, of course, was in charge of gadgets.
Also notice the fascination with what were then, Casio and Seiko smartwatches. Moving on, you can also expect a banging eighties soundtrack. And a lot of cheesy scenes although the seduction one with Vanity and Stamos takes the cake. Or should I say apple as Stamos kept eating apples to resist Vanity’s sexual advances? That scene, where she’s sunbathing and then cooling off with hose was the only one with a bit of nudity. Probably because they were still thinking Never Too Young to Die is going to be a mainstream success. Instead, the movie fell into obscurity until Shout! Factory bought the rights, remastered it, and released it to the general public. I thank you for your service Shout! Factory.
Director: Gil Bettman
Writers: Steven Paul, Anthony Foutz
Cast: John Stamos, Vanity, Gene Simmons, George Lazenby, Peter Kwong, Robert Englund
Fun Facts: Some of the lyrics and music you can hear in the biker/transvestite underground club were eventually featured in Kiss’s 1992 album Revenge.