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Cult TV: The Master Episode 10 – ‘The Java Tiger’

April 25, 2022 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Cult TV - The Master Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Cult TV Issue #15: The Master Episode 10

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest issue of Cult TV. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Well, we’re almost finished with The Master as there are only three more episodes to go after episode ten, “The Java Tiger.” That means Cult TV will feature a different cult TV show very soon. I’m thinking about doing the Wes Craven produced horror show Nightmare Café, which ran for six episodes back in 1992, or the Blade TV show that ran for twelve episodes back in 2006. I’m leaning towards Nightmare Café but I haven’t completely made up my mind. I’m also contemplating going back and finishing Street Hawk, as I only reviewed the first episode (you can check out that review here).

I’ve also been wondering if you guys prefer full on reviews of each episode of a show, like I’ve done here with The Master, or would you like to see the column do shorter reviews of episodes and include more episodes per issue, like I did with Kolchak, the Night Stalker, where I reviewed five episodes at a time. I enjoy doing full reviews of each episode of a show, but is that too much?

Here are the links to reviews for the first nine episodes of The Master, just in case you missed them for some reason (or want to read them again):

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3
Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

And now, onto the tenth episode of The Master.

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Episode 10: “The Java Tiger”

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Director: Bruce Kessler
Writer: Tom Sawyer

As soon as “The Java Tiger” begins and we find out that our heroes John Peter McCallister (Lee Van Cleef) and Max Keller (Timothy Van Patten) have gone to Hawaii for their next mission/adventure, you’re likely to wonder what Keller did with his van and his pet hamster/gerbil Henry. Is the van in an airport parking garage somewhere in Los Angeles and did Keller leave enough food and water for Henry, who lives in the van? Did Keller leave the van with a friend who will also take care of Henry while Keller and McCallister are in Hawaii? The episode never mentions any of this. I mean, yes, Henry isn’t a “main character” or anything on the show, but he has popped up several times and I think it’s kind of weird that Keller doesn’t mention Henry “back on the mainland” or whatever at least once in passing.

So anyway, “The Java Tiger” has McCallister and Keller in Hawaii in order to help out Shelly (Cynthia Cypert), the daughter of Leo Fairchild (Dick O’Neill), McCallister’s old friend and private investigator who was killed while searching for the Java Tiger, a mythical treasure that people have been searching for for decades. As soon as McCallister and Keller arrive and meet up with Shelly they have to fight off the henchmen of Kruger (Kabir Bedi), a mega rich scumbag asshole that wants the Java Tiger and believes that Shelly has access to the information that her father had accumulated while looking for the Tiger, mainly a map that is supposed to show where, exactly, the Tiger is. McCallister and Keller find out that Leo had the deed to an island and that Leo believed the Java Tiger was somewhere on that island. But where, exactly? Leo only had half of a map that likely shows where the Tiger is located. Who has the other half of the map?

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Kruger has the other half of the map.

So then some stuff happens, Keller and Shelly start to hit it off, McCallister contacts a cop that he knows to get some information on what the heck is going on in Hawaii when it comes to the search for the Java Tiger (McCallister actually refers to his cop friend as being a part of “Five-O,” so does that mean The Master takes place in the same TV universe as the original Hawaii Five-O?), and then Kruger’s main henchman Draper (real life badass Anthony De Longis) attacks Keller. McCallister then appears out of the trees and rescues Keller while also getting his ass kicked by Draper (Draper gets the best of McCallister twice in the first part of this episode). And then, out pf nowhere, a mysterious man in a car rescues McCallister, Keller, and Shelly.

It’s at this point that McCallister decides that the best course of action is to infiltrate Kruger’s massive estate, break into a safe that Kruger has on the property, and steal the other half of the map. If anyone is going to find the Java Tiger, McCallister is going to do whatever he can to make sure that he is the one that finds it and not Kruger or his henchmen. So McCallister dons his ninja outfit and formulates a plan to get inside Kruger’s estate. Keller tags along, but he, once again, is forced to participate in a building infiltration while wearing his street clothes instead of a stealthy ninja outfit (or, really, just black or dark clothing. How the hell is Keller is supposed to be sneaky and whatnot while wearing a white shirt that’s so bright you can see it from the goddamn moon?). McCallister and Keller manage to get inside Kruger’s estate without much in the way of resistance and find the safe. McCallister and Keller then gets their asses kicked by Draper and various other Kruger henchmen, with Keller getting away and McCallister getting captured.

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

So then some more stuff happens, Kruger interrogates McCallister about what he knows about Leo, the map, and the Java Tiger, and then tells McCallister that he wants to fight him one-on-one at some point in the future. Kruger, as we see earlier in the episode, is a badass martial artist and is always in the mood for a challenge. Who would be more of a challenge than John Peter McCallister, the ninja master? Kruger then sends McCallister off to be tortured off screen, presumably because Kruger may want a challenge but he doesn’t want a super difficult challenge (Kruger has no intention of losing against McCallister).

Meanwhile, Keller tries to come up with a rescue plan for McCallister. The best idea he can come up with is to take some of McCallister’s ninja weapons and use them while going back into Kruger’s estate. So that’s what Keller does. Shelly comes along for the ride. As Keller takes out various Kruger henchmen with McCallister’s ninja weapons McCallister fights his way out of Kruger’s compound (you just can’t keep a good ninja down). And then Kruger shows up with Draper and various other henchmen and tries to recapture McCallister. And it’s that point that the mysterious rescuer from before shows up again and manages to whisk McCallister, Keller, and Shelly away to safety.

So who the heck is this mysterious rescuer? It’s Leo Fairchild.

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

What? Isn’t he supposed to be dead? What the heck is going on here?

Essentially, Leo faked his own death in order to get Kruger and his henchmen to stop pestering him so he could then devote his entire life, without distraction, to getting the Java Tiger. And now, with McCallister in town, Leo intends to use McCallister’s ninja skills to help him find the Tiger. McCallister agrees to help out, and they all go off to Leo’s island to find the Tiger.

The rest of the episode is McCallister, Keller, Leo, and Shelly looking for the Java Tiger while dealing with Kruger and his henchmen who are also on Leo’s island. Each side has half of the map that will lead to the Tiger, and each side will do whatever it takes to get the whole map.

The best thing about “The Java Tiger” is its rollicking adventure feel throughout. You know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are and they’re both out to find a hidden treasure that, if it’s real, is worth a huge fortune. The island setting also enhances that “adventure” feel, as well as the eventual cave they all go into to retrieve the Java Tiger (because, yeah, it’s a real thing). There’s also a volcano (provided by obvious stock footage). What says “adventure” more than a volcano? The booby-traps inside of the cave also give off a decided Raiders of the Lost Ark/”Indiana Jones” vibe, but, for my money, the volcano is way cooler.

There’s also a higher action quotient in this episode, with McCallister and Keller fighting Kruger’s henchmen every few minutes. There are also several cool fights in the jungle. And the inevitable one-on-one fight between McCallister and Kruger inside the cave is one of the better fights in the show’s run. Could that final fight have been longer and more involved? Definitely. But what we do get is superb. I will say, though, that it’s weird that almost all of Kruger’s henchmen towards the end of the episode wear Hawaiian shirts while Kruger hits the jungle while wearing a designer sweater. What the hell is that about? Is that a rich guy thing, wearing a sweater in the jungles of Hawaii?

I am a little disappointed in the lack of a final brawl between McCallister and Draper. McCallister does get in one final shot at Draper and takes him out, but I was hoping for a slightly more substantive fight between them since Draper got the upper hand on McCallister the ninja master twice in the episode. McCallister deserved to get in one good badass hit on Kruger’s top henchman. I mean, if Draper isn’t going to get his ass kicked in the end by Keller as part of the old “the hero’s sidekick gets to take out the bad guy’s main henchman” scheme, why not have the hero destroy him instead?

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Dick O’Neill is so incredibly great as Leo Fairchild. You totally buy him as a disheveled and hapless private investigator who is in way over his head while looking for what amounts to buried treasure. He somehow looks totally out of place and exactly the right guy for this kind of story. O’Neill’s costumer also deserves mega kudos for the light blue suit and hat he wears throughout the episode. Much like Kruger’s designer sweater, Leo’s suit and hat looks ridiculous but totally fits with the character. And check out how Leo ends the episode, wearing his suit while sitting on the beach (McCallister does the same thing). It’s brilliant.

Kabir Bedi gives Kruger the right amount of elegant sleaze to make you absolutely despise him. He’s some rich asshole criminal who has nothing better to do than look for buried treasure while destroying countless lives in the process. Bedi also has the right kind of physical size to make him a real threat for McCallister. I don’t know if Bedi is a martial artist in real life but he makes you believe that Kruger is. Do you think Bedi informed his performance in this episode by what he saw while making Octopussy?

“The Java Tiger” ends with the Java Tiger likely lost forever after the island’s volcano erupts and causes an earthquake that destroys the entrance to the cave and buries the treasure. Would that fact have prevented other people from looking for the Tiger in the future? I doubt it. The ending of the episode suggests that Leo might go looking for the Tiger again. If that happened, would McCallister and Keller have gone back to Hawaii to prevent the old fool from being an adventurer again? I think Shelly would have asked them to come back.

And what about Kruger? I bet that scumbag would have found a way to get out of prison to continue his Java Tiger quest (he doesn’t die in the cave at the end. McCallister pulls him to safety after he kicks his ass and Kruger sets off a booby-trap that shoots knock out darts into his back).

Dammit, we should have had a second season just so we could see this follow up. I bet it would have rocked (or, at least, have been interesting).

I loved this episode.

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

Rating: 4/5

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Next issue: The Master Episode 11: “Failure to Communicate”

Image Credit: Kino Lorber

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The Master Episode 10: “The Java Tiger” IMDB page

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