Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

The Purge: Anarchy

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

tn_purgeanarchyThat movie THE PURGE was a little better than I expected. You gotta accept a completely asinine premise (that 12 hours of “all crime is legal” free-for-all every March 22nd would virtually eliminate crime, unemployment and poverty) but I like Ethan Hawke’s dedicated performance and the subtext about living a comfortable life distanced from the savagery we benefit from. These people say they don’t believe in killing, but they believe in The Purge because it’s the American way. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Now lo and behold part 2 is better than the first one. Not any smarter, but better put together. Okay, we’ve accidentally bought into this world where The Purge happens, now let’s have a more entertaining story about it. They ditched the home invasion/siege format and deal with people moving through the city trying to evade the mayhem. It’s shot in kind of a digital age noir style with solid yellows and reds often highlighting the spaces between dark shadows. As you drive through the city you pass serious beatings on the side of the road, things on fire, gun battles. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Equalizer

Monday, September 29th, 2014

tn_equalizerAll things being equal, THE EQUALIZER is Denzel Washington’s TAKEN. It’s the one where they figure out people like to watch a really commanding older actor be smarter than everybody and kill a bunch of criminals. It has some gestures of seriousness and takes a bit to get to the killing, but once it does it’s pretty straight up about being a violent, lowbrow action movie. It even has the Academy Award winner doing the ol’ slo-mo-walking-away-from-a-fiery-explosion shot. I guess he did that in MAN ON FIRE too, and shot more beautifully from what I remember. But this one is more my speed because it’s not trying to rub my nose in the shit, it’s just trying to be stupid fun.

And by the way I apologize for awkwardly shoe-horning “all things being equal” in there at the beginning. It just seemed like something you do. But let’s try to get past it.

Written by Richard Wenk (VAMP, 16 BLOCKS, THE MECHANIC REMAKE, THE EXPENDABLES 2) and sort of based on the ’80s TV show of the same name, this has Denzel (RICOCHET) playing Edward Woodward’s character Bob McCall, now a book-reading, OCD widower square who works at “Home Mart,” wears polo shirts tucked into dad jeans and cleans his New Balance sneakers with a toothbrush every morning. Then one day when an acquaintance from the diner where he hangs out (Chloe Grace Moretz, TODAY YOU DIE) gets badly beaten by her Russian pimp (David Meunier, a.k.a. Cousin Johnny from Justified) Bob decides to try to help her. And it turns out his previous job was at the CIA or something (the agency is not specified) and that he’s real good at massacring a whole bunch of armed criminals using found objects and guns he takes out of their hands. Gino Fellino would be proud. He even sticks a corkscrew in a guy’s chin and we see it poke up into his mouth. (read the rest of this shit…)

Executioners From Shaolin

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

tn_executionersMany of us know Pai Mei from his strict teachings of Beatrix Kiddo. In KILL BILL VOLUME 2 he’s a mean old bastard with long white hair. But he’s meaner and older than you may realize: his first movie appearance is in EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN (1977), a movie that opens with him dueling a Shaolin priest to the death and burning down the temple with most of the monks inside. He was already an old man then, and that was 1727 (at least according to the first literary references to the alleged historical figure he’s based on).

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Escape (Flukt)

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

tn_escapebtislESCAPE (or FLUKT) is a great little Norwegian period action movie. If I had seen any other Norwegian period action movies I’m confident this would still be one of the best. It’s kind of like a post-apocalypse movie because the population has been decimated by the Black Plague, and gangs of brutes terrorize anybody with the balls to travel around. One such balls-having family is attacked by one such gang, and only their teenage daughter Signe (Isabel Christine Andreasen) is spared.

It’s a gang of five men and one woman, Dagmar (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), who is their leader. Dagmar seems like a real savage and they’re all scared of her, but when they get back to the camp it seems like maybe she’s got some sense of sisterhood, some instinct to be protective of her fellow females. There’s an innocent little girl there named Frigg (Milla Olin), and as soon as she sees her Dagmar turns all motherly, talking to her sweetly and kissing her on the cheek. The men try to intimidate Signe, but Dagmar reassures her. “Don’t worry, they won’t touch you.”

But then, “Unless I let them.”

See, what Dagmar has planned for Signe is worse than what happened to her family. She says she’s barren, but Frigg needs a little sister. So you can see why Signe needs to flukt. Or escape.
(read the rest of this shit…)

A Good Man

Monday, September 15th, 2014

tn_agoodmanex3-seagal“The rate this is going we’re going to run out of Russians soon.”

A GOOD MAN – not to be confused with A DANGEROUS MAN, A SERIOUS MAN, A SINGLE MAN, A SOLITARY MAN, HE WAS A QUIET MAN, etc. – is the latest Steven Seagal picture, continuing what at first glance looks like Seagal’s Goatee Period (SGP). The new facial hair seems to represent the evil Seagal from another dimension, or at least a slightly darker Seagal. In the opening narration he explains that he has both light and darkness in him. Later he calls himself “a regular man who does bad things to bad people.”

He doesn’t seem like as much of an anti-hero as the Russian gangster he played in his last movie, FORCE OF EXECUTION, but he is a guy who goes around literally chopping up gangsters and leaving them strewn across alleys. Technically that’s not that different from what he does in other movies, but it’s presented differently. The first pile we don’t see as an action scene, we see it as a crime scene investigated by detectives. And he leaves a calling card – incense in their hands, the Chinese characters for “Gwai-Lo” – like a serial killer.

But on closer examination, this gangster-slayer actually is an alternate reality version of the guy from the last movie. On a behind the scenes featurette writer/director Keoni Waxman says they originally started writing it as a sequel to “our last movie,” which would explain the returning beard and that both characters are named Alexander. (read the rest of this shit…)

Falcon Rising

Monday, September 8th, 2014

tn_falconrisingI don’t think FALCON RISING is a new b-action classic like BLOOD AND BONE or UNDISPUTED II. It’s not as imaginative or expertly executed as those. But it is something I love that the world doesn’t get enough of these days: a solid meat and potatoes action movie molded entirely around the badassness of a martial artist, the great Michael Jai White.

Career-wise, MJW has diversified more than his golden age predecessors like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal (who he fought in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN and EXIT WOUNDS, respectively). He’s supplemented his many action credits with Tyler Perry movies and sitcoms (WHY DID I GET MARRIED 1-TOO, For Better or Worse) and with creating and writing BLACK DYNAMITE (both the movie and the animated series, soon in its second season). But one look at his cartoonishly inflated muscles or at one of his flying kicks and it’s clear that he was meant for an endless series of action vehicles, even if that’s not what Hollywood (or Sofia, or whoever) thinks they’re supposed to be making in this era. (read the rest of this shit…)

15 Minutes

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

tn_15minutesex3-grammer15 MINUTES is a transitional Robert De Niro thriller bridging the Everybody Respects Robert De Niro era with the Robert De Niro Is a Guy Who Stars In DTV Movies With 50 Cent one. Here De Niro plays Detective Eddie Flemming, famous NYC supercop who steps on the toes of younger hot shot Fire Marshal Jordy Warsaw (Ed Burns in a practice run of his sidekick character in ALEX CROSS) when both report to the scene of a deadly apartment fire.

Eddie is famous for being on the tabloid show Top Story, where he lets the host, Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer, Cheetos*), follow him on busts, so everybody treats him like a rock star and it pisses Warsaw off. But he really has been around the block and has alot of wisdom to share, so it’s a buddy movie where they butt heads but then he unexpectedly goes out on a limb for the kid and sort of mentors him and what not. All that type of stuff.

But also this is a satire about this crime celebrity culture, that’s what that title’s about. Back in the late ’80s, early 2000s we were very concerned about tabloid news shows and their morbid obsession with O.J. Simpson, the Menendez Brothers and etc., so here is a movie coming years after after MAN BITES DOG, SERIAL MOM, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, SCREAM, etc., and hitting at kind of an embarrassingly obvious target in my opinion. But it does get a little bit of novelty by framing it as the American dream, showing a crime spree committed by two European immigrants (introducing Karel Roden and Oleg Taktarov) who have come to America seeking opportunity. Well, actually to collect their share of the money from a bank robbery, which it turns out their buddy already spent while they were in prison. Whoops. Sorry fellas.

By the way I wonder if they ever met Yuri Boyka in prison? (read the rest of this shit…)

Cover-Up

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

tn_coverupex3-dolphYou know, if I find some funk record I never heard of I look at the year, if it came out between 1970 and 1976 then I get higher hopes. ’77 and later is risky. This is a similar concept. There’s still a few Dolph Lundgren pictures I haven’t seen, but I figured COVER-UP was the most promising one because of where it came in his filmography: 1991, that glorious time between the late ’80s and mid-’90s when American action movies were reaching their peak fitness levels, their maximum potential. Dolph did THE PUNISHER and I COME IN PEACE, then this, then SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER.

Well, turns out there’s a reason why you hear those ones mentioned occasionally and this one never. It’s not that memorable. But it has moments. I like moments.

It’s directed by Manny Coto (DR. GIGGLES, STAR KID) who is now mainly known as a writer and producer on 24. This was probly pretty good practice for that. Writer William Tannen is usually a director, he did HERO AND THE TERROR. (read the rest of this shit…)

Patriot Games

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

tn_patriotgamesex3-fordThe traditional action hero is a loner. He might have friends, but he lives and travels by himself. He drifts into town on a motorcycle or on foot, or he lives alone in a filthy apartment, loft, car, or trailer. Maybe he has a kid, usually a daughter, but if so she’s likely been kidnapped and he’s trying to get her back. He might’ve had a family before, might be seeking revenge for their deaths. More likely he just screwed it up. He was too obsessed with his job, or with a specific case or vendetta. She wanted him to quit. Couldn’t take all the worrying anymore. He meant well but he knows it was all his fault. Now he drinks.

There are exceptions to this, but how many? Off the top of my head I can only think of Billy Jack, who is married, Charli Baltimore, who already has a family when she remembers she’s an assassin, and Riggs, who goes and gets married after a couple of sequels. So it happens, but not that often.

That’s one reason why ex-CIA-analyst Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) feels different from other action heroes, and why this type of movie could be considered Adult Contemporary Action. Not only is he a family man before he’s an asskicker, but the movie heavily deals with his family life. He’s got a very successful surgeon wife (Anne Archer), who is pregnant, and a young daughter (Thora Birch), who has pinups of Jason Priestley. They go on a trip to London. They live in a big town house out in the country near DC. He works as a history professor and lecturer (arguably not a badass juxtaposition, since he’s teaching about historical conflicts and strategies, things meant to be applicable to his CIA agentry). (read the rest of this shit…)

Last Action Hero

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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…)