Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Braveheart

Monday, May 25th, 2015
1995

RELEASE DATE: May 24

tn_braveheartBRAVEHEART is an important motion picture. It won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, it transformed Mel Gibson from the star of the MAD MAX and LETHAL WEAPON movies to a respected director, and it became a point of pride for people of Scottish descent all around the world, or at least in the U.S., I don’t know. So I figured there was only one way to properly celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film’s release: get around to watching it for the first time. See what the deal is.

Mel Gibson (the star of the MAD MAX and LETHAL WEAPON movies) plays William Wallace, a rugged young goofball and champion rock thrower returning to his village after years of absence after the war deaths of his father and brother. He gets home just in time to witness the English declaring prima nocta, best known as that thing that Tony Stark jokes about in THE AVENGERS 2, but it means the royalty are allowed to rape your wife. Even back then it was not considered cool at all.

But William goes about life as normal and he falls in love with a gal named Murron (Catherine McCormack, THE WEIGHT OF WATER, 28 WEEKS LATER) and he marries her in secret (Anakin style) so as not to attract wife-raping royal scum. But some asshole comes and kills his wife so he gets revenge and then becomes a revolutionary and leads a ragtag army of guerrillas and kills like seven thousand people and spends most of the movie covered in war paint and/or blood. But he’s still pretty charming for the most part and has a good sense of humor including mooning, etc. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mad Max: Fury Road

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

tn_furyroadSPOILER WARNING. I mean, I can’t stop you from reading this, but I’m not being careful about spoilers because for crying out loud see this movie IMMEDIATELY. Quit your job if necessary.

Usually if you’re still watching a movie for the first time, it’s kinda premature to start thinking “this is a masterpiece.” Not so with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. It’s part 4 in an old series, but it truly feels like an entirely new type of movie. It is thrilling, explosive, inventive action at its most pure and relentless, yet it manages to weave a moving and powerful story around and within and through the hundreds of spectacular stunts. As he has in each successive MAD MAX movie, director George Miller re-invents his post-poxyclipstic world with even more ornate detail and flair than before, unfolding a fantasy world as teeming with weird characters and happenings as the whole HOBBIT trilogy without ever dumping a bunch of exposition on us. He explains what we need to know economically, mostly visually, and leaves the rest for us to daydream about.

This is a movie that will transform people’s brains. It just might be the most elaborate action movie ever made, both in the complexity of the stunt sequences and in the meticulous design of the people and things in it. Now the cars aren’t just cool and beat up, they’re built from unlikely combinations of multiple vehicles piled on top of each other, covered in spikes, flame throwers, animal skulls and creepy doll heads, with weapons hidden inside and out and half naked goons climbing all over them firing guns and throwing spears and bombs. Steering wheels are removable, heavily decorated and carry some sort of religious significance. One character pulls his off and holds it aloft during a chase to show that he’s ready to die. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Road Warrior (accidental second review)

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Note: Like most people of the planet Earth, I re-watched the whole MAD MAX trilogy during this last week of a decade of waiting for FURY ROAD. And I knew I’d never done a write-up of MAD MAX before, so I did one. I followed that up by writing about ROAD WARRIOR. And then I realized that I already wrote a review of it 8 years ago. And sometimes that’s fine because I think my old review is sucky and I can do better now, but actually I kinda like that review, I made some good points, and I called Wez’s bitch his “desert life partner,” which was pretty good.

But let’s be honest, we’re not gonna think about a god damn thing besides Mad Max between now and 7 pm tonight and whenever we see the new one, so what the hell. Here is my alternate dimension review of THE ROAD WARRIOR where I still love it in the same way but say it in different words.

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tn_roadwarriorYeah, I always liked MAD MAX, but THE ROAD WARRIOR (or MAD MAX 2 as most of the world calls it) is more my speed. Get it? Speed. ‘Cause that’s one of the things George Miller knows how to capture on screen. Even the mythically narrated opening montage establishing Max (née Rockatansky) as a legendary hero seems to be moving fast, then the screen opens up wide, we pull out of the blower on Max’s car and the movie just launches us down the highway. The insane car stunts of the first one are multiplied, now we have even more cars flyiing through the air, rolling, flipping, smashing through each other, dragging broken pieces (or people) behind them, scraping across the pavement, spraying sparks, shooting pieces of rusty debris in all directions.

Wherever Max was before, where there were bars and homes and children and stuff, he ditched that fuckin place and now he scours “the wasteland” with all the other thirsty leather-clad psychos. And I kinda doubt the Halls of Justice are still standing anyway, it seems like shit has gotten worse in general, and we know from the montage that some forgotten factions of humans went to war and dropped the bomb on each other (in old black and white stock footage). Whatever the current socio-political situation is, we know that guys like Max travel the desert roads looking for crashed cars, or causing crashed cars, and trying to steal any leaking or unused gas, or “juice.” It’s a snake eating its tail, really. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mad Max

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

tn_madmaxMAD MAX is a unique specimen even compared to the other MAD MAX movies. Every time I revisit it if it’s been several years I think Oh yeah, I forgot it was like this. Max Rockatansky – who has a last name, you notice – is not a nameless drifter or a mythical hero yet, he’s maybe a supercop at best. At worst he’s just a dude. He can laugh and go on picnics and has a wife and kid. He does wear a cool leather jacket and sunglasses, but this seems to be the police uniform in this near future. The other patrolmen wear it too, they just don’t look as good in it.

It is not post-apocalyptic (or post-poxy-clipsic?). I guess we could say it’s antebellum. The sign is crooked at the Halls of Justice and the highways are dominated by giggling, sweaty, gibberish-ranting lunatics like The Nightrider (Vince Gil, the Australian actor, not the American country singer) and The Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne, also in FURY ROAD). They’re like DEATH WISH creeps on wheels, hateful, punkish bullies who live to scare and violate random innocents on or along the roads.

The other police can’t keep up with the cop-killing Nightrider. It’s Max, sitting patiently on the side of the road ahead, who comes in for the close. Since the Rider and his girlfriend end up in a fatal, explosive crash, the Toecutter blames Max and comes after him for revenge. So, if you thought Nightrider was a real charmer and wondered who else he was close with, Toecutter is the answer. (read the rest of this shit…)

3 Days to Kill

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

tn_3daystokillIn 3 DAYS TO KILL Kevin Costner plays Ethan Renner, a CIA agent who finds out he has brain cancer spread to his lungs and three months left to live. The three days of the title refers to something separate from the three months to live. Don’t worry about it. He has to catch a guy, but when his heart rate gets too high he hallucinates and then passes out, which can be inconvenient in this line of work (or I guess pretty much any line of work or even leisure activity). This may sound like Costner’s version of DYING OF THE LIGHT, but in fact it’s his turn at a TAKEN type old man action movie written and produced by Luc Besson.

This one’s almost like TAKEN remixed. Instead of already having left the CIA he’s forcibly retired after collapsing on the job at the beginning. Instead of having to go to Paris to save somebody he already lives there. In the tradition of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills character he is still in love with his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen in the Famke Janssen role) and wants to spend time with his teenage daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld from TRUE GRIT), who barely knows him and calls him “Ethan” instead of “Dad.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Bullet

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

tn_bulletIn BULLET, Danny Trejo plays Frank “Bullet” Marasco, who’s in the drug industry with Max Perlich and gets caught and kills two cops. Or the opening scene says so anyway, but I read the box and it said he was playing a cop. Weird.

In the next scene he’s a cage fighter. It’s kinda funny in this day and age to see Trejo do fight scenes, because you expect a guy to do some moves, but he’s just a puncher like Charles Bronson. His opponent Jake the Tank says he has business to settle with him from San Quentin, but luckily Trejo gets in a good one and KO’s him. Very luckily, because Jake is played by mixed martial arts legend Kimo Leopoldo, the guy who carried a full-sized cross on his back when he entered the ring at UFC 3. I think it was genuinely meant as an expression of his Christianity, but it’s also a pretty good way to psyche out your opponent. I am about to fight a crazy motherfucker who carried a cross to the ring. After a long battle Kimo lost to UFC 1-2 champion Royce Gracie, but he wore him out so bad Gracie had to drop out of the tournament. No such problem for Bullet. Bullet probly could’ve been UFC champion I bet, but he’s too busy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kung Fu Killer

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

tn_kungfukillerKUNG FU KILLER also played as KUNG FU JUNGLE (it still says that on the end credits) but the new title fits better. It refers to both the villain and the hero of this enjoyable moosh-up of martial arts challenge movie and serial killer thriller. Donnie Yen plays Hahou Mo, a renowned teacher and fighter who’s in prison for killing his opponent the last time he had a martial arts duel. But when a mysterious killer is targeting other martial arts masters Hahou convinces the police to let him out to help catch the motherfucker. I mean, if Hahou’s gotta go to prison for an apparently accidental and honorable duel-death then surely this murdering creep should be in there too.

Just as John Doe in SEVEN was killing based on the seven deadly sins, Hahou determines that this guy is killing in an order based on traditional martial arts training. He predicts who the victims will be based on who has the best kicks, grappling, etc. To stop the killer he works with police inspector Luk Yuen-Sum, or “Madam” (Charlie Yeung, BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake with Nic Cage), who is suspicious of him, and his wife Sinn Ying (Michelle Bai), who he is very protective of. (read the rest of this shit…)

Everly

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

tn_everlyEverly (Salma Hayek) is one of these sex slaves who doesn’t know Liam Neeson or Tony Jaa, so she has to take justice into her own hands. Her movie starts right in the thick of things, but we quickly start to piece some of her story together: she’s been kept woman to a Yakuza for four years, taken away from her young daughter, and she can’t stand it anymore. She had an escape planned with a police officer she trusted, but he hasn’t shown up. Now she’s here in the bathroom with one stashed gun and a bag full of money, so she can either kill herself or take that one opportunity that Eminem talks about in that one song.

In a way this is a DIE HARD type movie. It’s one person fighting off many criminals in a contained location, in this case the fancy apartment she’s been stuck in. It’s even Christmas time, though she is not bare foot, so in that sense it’s more like DIE HARD 2. And she can fight better than we probly could, but it’s all tenacity, she’s not a super woman. She gets shot, cut, stabbed, she cries, she messes up, but she keeps fighting. (read the rest of this shit…)

Skin Trade

Monday, April 27th, 2015

tn_skintradeSKIN TRADE (actually written as SKINTRADE on screen) is the long-awaited passion project of Dolph Lundgren, who produced and wrote the screenplay with Gabriel Dowrick (an editor and sometimes director) and Steven Elder (an actor who was in GALLOWWALKERS). Over the years Dolph had sometimes planned to direct it himself, sometimes not to act in it, at one point possibly to have Steven Seagal co-star. Eventually he handed over the reins to Ekachai Uekrongtham, director of BEAUTIFUL BOXER and PLEASURE FACTORY, which is about the sex industry in Singapore. To Dolph SKIN TRADE is an attempt to raise awareness about the problem of sex trafficking. For me it is an achievement in having a movie that stars Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa and Michael Jai White.

Dolph plays Nick Cassidy, an NYPD detective who gets himself into trouble by gunning down Serbian gangster Dragovic (Ron Perlman, sort of reprising his character from POLICE ACADEMY: MISSION TO MOSCOW)’s prettiest son two seconds after he yells “I will prove to you… I AM MY FATHER’S SON!”

Just another day on the job, you would think, but next thing you know some dudes fire an RPG into Nick’s living room window and he wakes up in the hospital with the side of his face melted and no wife or daughter in his burned down house.

Meanwhile Tony Jaa plays Tony, an undercover cop on a crusade against Dragovic’s sex slavery ring in Cambodia and Thailand. We first meet him wearing a nice suit and being threatened at gunpoint to have sex with a young kidnapped child. He fakes like he’s gonna do it but instead he pulls out his belt to use as a weapon to beat up every sorry sex slaving piece of garbage in the room and dangle their cowering leader (Gigi Velicitat, ELEPHANT WHITE, THE MARINE 2, STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN LI) off the side of the building until he tells them where their next shipment of human cargo is headed. And then he drops him anyway. The guy probly shouldn’t have offered him that freebie on sex slaves in my opinion. That was his mistake. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Man With the Iron Fists 2

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

tn_mwtif2My friends, I don’t know about you, but I count myself lucky to live in a world where one of my favorite hip hop producers, the RZA, not only got to write, direct and star in a legit kung fu movie, but got to do a DTV sequel directed by one of the leaders of the form (Roel Reiné, THE MARINE 2, DEATH RACE 2-3, SCORPION KING 3, 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED). If I somehow slipped and fell into an alternate dimension that’s okay. I’m not going back.

Filmed in Thailand with about a third of the first film’s budget, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 is much more normal and low key than the first one, I want to warn you of that up front. There are fewer colorful gimmicks, no crazy Russell Crowe performance, comparably grounded (both literally and figuratively) martial arts, and no mention of the cliffhanger from the director’s cut where I think he had to team up with the X-Blade to save his wife that got snatched by the Falcon Clan and put in a big nest on top of a mountain or something like that. But for me it’s still a very enjoyable sequel because it maintains the most important ingredient: the complete sincerity of the RZA. (read the rest of this shit…)