Last Action Hero

tn_lastactionheroex3-arnoldDo you guys remember how LAST ACTION HERO was the big ticket for ’93?

Okay, probly not. That was the tagline on some of the posters though. See, they knew this was destined to be a huge event movie, the movie of the summer. Fuck JURASSIC PARK. But also the plot involved a magical ticket that transports people between the worlds of reality and fiction. It’s a double meaning. They put alot of thought into this thing, just not the right kind maybe.

This is at least the third time I’ve watched and attempted to truly like this movie. That’s a strike out, so it’s time to sit on the bench and accept it as a kinda interesting, kinda terrible movie. Not as good as HUDSON HAWK but a bit of that same clever/awkward cocktail. Unique enough to keep coming back to, not good enough to be 100% sure it was worth it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tequila Sunrise

tn_tequilasunriseex3-gibsonIn the opening of TEQUILA SUNRISE, Mel Gibson as “Mac” McKussic comes to a motel with a guy and a briefcase full of coke for one of those business transactions that guys with briefcases full of coke have at hotels. One of the guys who comes to meet him is Nick Frescia (Kurt Russell), talking cocky, hair all slicked back. Mac immediately knows that Nick is a cop so he talks his way out of the room and makes a run for it, doing a parkour-like swing from a balconly, nimbly hopping fences, ducking under a freeway overpass, trudging through water, dodging police searchlights. (read the rest of this shit…)

The 13th Warrior

tn_13thwarriorex3-banderasTHE 13TH WARRIOR sounds like a pretty badass thing to be, but let’s be clear: Ahmed ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas) is number thirteen out of thirteen. In other words, the last guy to be picked.

Well, I guess it’s not exactly a nerd-in-gym-class scenario, they do want him. He’s drafted against his wishes. But not like he’s some John McClane type reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to go because he’s unqualified. He’s not a warrior, he’s an Arab poet who got too flirty with some caliph’s girl or something so they made him an ambassador and sent him packing, the poet equivalent of the alternate ending of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. where he gets transferred to Alaska. Ahmad ends up hanging out with these “Northmen,” or vikings. Their king has just died and gone to Valhalla to kick it V.I.P. (vikings in paradise) style, but Ahmed is taken in by the heir apparent Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich), shown some of their ways and pushed into service with this dirty baker’s dozen on a mission to protect a village that’s been attacked by monsters that come from the fog, ravage villages and tear off people’s heads. And they take the heads with them when they leave. Choppers keepers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hijacked

tn_hijackedex3-coutureOkay, so it’s got nothin on his fighting career, but UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture hasn’t done too bad in his play for an action movie future. He’s had MMA-related bit parts like REDBELT, he was good on a couple The Unit episodes and in some otherwise forgettable DTV pictures (SET UP, and the one with Dolph that I forgot to review), he got punched out by Seagal in TODAY YOU DIE, he plays the villain in a SCORPION KING, he was an Expendable. But HIJACKED is the first real Randy Couture vehicle. He probly shoulda waited for something better, but he’s a worker, you know. He’s gotta work.

Couture plays Agent Paul Ross, member of a CIA task force type deal trying to stop “The Tribe,” some kind of criminal/terrorist group that manipulates global financial markets or something. He finds out they may be targeting Bruce Lieb (Craig Fairbrass, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, CLIFFHANGER), the famous billionaire, not the fourth-string Bruce Lee imitator. Also Ross finds out that his estranged fiancee has just been hired to do PR for Lieb and will be on his private jet with him flying to meet with the SEC, so he decides to accept an offer to help with security. (read the rest of this shit…)

Money Train

tn_moneytrainex3-snipes“You know, we are not getting along.”

In MONEY TRAIN that legendary comedy duo of Wesley and Woody play John and Charlie, brothers who are both New York City transit cops who play by their own rules. They get into fist fights with other cops (for example over the fatal shooting of a guy who only snatched a chain), Woody has a gambling addiction, and when they chase a suspect onto the tracks it slows down the train that delivers the apparently millions of dollars of subway fare, getting them on the shit list of Captain Patterson (Robert Blake, Our Gang).

Then they get assigned a new partner. Somebody who’s uptight and doesn’t like their methods, right? No, actually she’s really cool, works well with them and even hangs out with them at the bar after work. The trouble is she’s Jennifer Lopez, so they fight over her.

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Arena

still_arenaex3-lutzWe’ve all noticed by now that Sylvester Stallone has been trying to settle on the magic EXPENDABLES casting formula. The action icons (Dolph, Wesley, Arnold, Bruce, Jet) are surrounded by a protective layer of athletes (Couture, Austin, Ortiz, Rousey) and youths. For EXPENDABLES 2 he plucked young Liam Thorsbrother from the HUNGER GAMESes, and now EXPENDABLES 3 picked up Kellan Lutz from the TWILIGHTs. I didn’t really know who that was so I was pleasantly surprised when I looked him up and found out he has legitimate b-action experience. He did the sword and sandal ones like IMMORTALS and RENNY HARLIN’S LEGEND OF HERCULES, but also one called JAVA HEAT where he’s an American cop trying to catch a terrorist in Indonesia. And the terrorist is Mickey Rourke.

I should probly check that one out, but when I decided I needed to choose my first Lutz for EX3 supplemental viewing I chose the DTV death match picture ARENA, because I’d come close to renting it before anyway. You know how I am. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Expendables 3

tn_ex3THE EXPENDABLES 3 is another Expendables movie, like any other. It’s got a cast that indicates it should be the ultimate action movie, but ends up being penultimate at best. It’s a weird mix of satisfying appearance of favorite faces and tropes and disappointing execution of these elements. I call that feeling satisppointment, or expendablation. Just like the others I enjoyed it, but with a nagging feeling that this should be something actually great.

But the first stretch had me thinking it might blow the other ones out of the water. It opens mid-mission as our old Expendapals Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) are in a chopper chasing after a Russian prison transfer train to bust out an original team member who’s been locked up for 8 years. That prisoner is none other than Wesley The Daywalker Snipes as “Doctor Death,” and it’s an excellent welcome home party for the man. He’s got a crazy beard and hair and a spaced out look in his eye, and instead of going with the rescue party he runs across the train, does a slide and a bunch of acrobatics, kills a bunch of his captors and causes the train to crash into the bastard in charge. (read the rest of this shit…)

War

tn_warex3-li-stathamWait a minute, there’s a movie that’s Jet Li vs. Jason Statham that I never bothered to watch? How can this happen? Well, I remember I was excited for it when it came out but then everybody said it sucked, and I’ve seen enough generic movies of this type (Statham vs. Snipes in CHAOS) to fear sitting through another boring, lifeless slog that wastes my favorite action stars. Fortunately I think I waited just the right amount of time because while I’d agree it isn’t a proper use of Jet Li that’s not really a crushing surprise anymore, and WAR is more watchable, more of a real movie than what I’d always pictured.
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Rebel

tn_rebelex3stallone“Thanks for the poncho.”

We associate Sylvester Stallone with the ’80s, right? Sure, it was ’76 when he blew up with ROCKY and the ’90s by the time he did CLIFFHANGER. But it was the ’80s when he became Rambo, and RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II was the height of his worldwide icon status, it seems to me. The one that inspired a thousand ripoff VHS covers and parodies and was quoted by President Reagan. To people who aren’t into his type of action movies he’s a symbol of Reagan era war-mongering and media violence. To us he’s on the Mount Rushmore of the most prolific and larger-than-life era of the genre we love most.

For all these reasons it’s weird to see him playing a lefty student radical, as he does in REBEL (filmed as NO WAY OUT). Released in 1970, this was his second real movie role, the first being the softcore movie THE PARTY AT KITTY AND STUD’S. This time he plays Jerry Savage, an anti-war activist who’s grown tired of useless campus protests and wants to do something that will make a difference. To that end he’s gotten involved with a Weather Underground type group that’s planning a bombing to protest a popular kitchenware company that’s making a side business of manufacturing tiger cages, “animal cages to hold people” that they prove are not only being used cruelly in ‘Nam, but are also being set aside for future use at home. (read the rest of this shit…)

Step Up All In

tn_stepupallinIt may be shameful but it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the STEP UP series. It’s like the DEATH WISH series in many ways. Okay, in only one way: I like all of them. The first one is enjoyable dumb melodrama, then the second is a surprisingly good and clever sequel, and the third is even better. Part 4, REVOLUTION, was not quite as good but I liked it, it had people dancing on bouncing cars and a ridiculous plot about using flash mob dancing as a tool of political protest and at the end Peter Gallagher thanked the guy for practically humping his daughter on stage in front of him. Because the transcendence of dance or whatever.

I’m happy to report that I liked part 5, STEP UP ALL IN, a little better than the last one, although admittedly they sorta cheat and do it by rehashing parts 2 and 3 and bringing back favorite characters for more than just cameos this time.
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