G.I. Jane

tn_gijaneGI JANE is way classier than its male counterparts RISE OF COBRA, RETALIATION and THE MOVIE, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much of a straight-ahead action movie it is, complete with triumphant music by Trevor Jones (CLIFFHANGER), themes of fight brotherhood and many a badass training montage. It’s built around the idea of Demi Moore having to achieve a level of physical toughness never officially reached by a woman before, which is a little far-fetched, I know. But the actress acquits herself admirably, obviously trained intensely and shows off in many sweaty pull-up and one-armed pushup scenes like an ’80s Dolph, Stallone or Van Damme movie might have. I think maybe Ridley Scott was on a mission to one-up what James Cameron did with Linda Hamilton in T2. To get him back for ALIENS.

It’s also an issue movie, inspired by the debate of whether or not to allow women in combat in the U.S. military. Moore plays Jordan O’Neill, a lieutenant in military intelligence who knows her shit far beyond expectations. If she were a man she probly would’ve moved to some sort of special ops team where she could take advantage of her expertise, but women aren’t allowed there.

Until now. When a female senator (Anne Bancroft) cleverly throws her weight around at a confirmation hearing and gets the military to agree to a number of women-in-combat test cases, O’Neill is chosen as a good poster girl – skilled, but not too butch. So she gets to try out for the Navy SEALs. This was before they were known for killing Osama bin Laden, this is when they were known as Jesse Ventura’s buddies. But they were among the toughest of the tough. They bring in the very best special ops soldiers and even most of those guys drop out before Hell Week is over. So it’s a hell of a challenge for her. It’s a grueling test of strength and endurance that only a small percentage of men can hope to survive, not believed possible for a woman. And that’s not even figuring in the likelihood that nobody there wants a woman to be able to do it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice

tn_hanzoWhat the fuck is up with Hanzo the Razor? I want to respect him as a samurai, but I just can’t get past his behavior. Here’s the #1 issue I have with his first movie, RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE: the scene where he interrogates a woman by forcing himself on her, and then she ends up liking it so much she gives up the information to keep him from stopping. #2 issue: the second scene where he does that, this time with her in a net and three assistants pulling a rope to lift her up and down on him. And gentle love song type music playing while she spins on his “sword of justice,” screaming. That is fucked up, Hanzo the Razor. What kind of garbage is this?

If not for that, though, perfect movie!

I know people got mad years ago when I complained about Jason Statham’s character Chiliman Chevrolet from the CRANK movie pulling one of these “it doesn’t count as rape if you win her over before you’re done” moves, known on the streets as “the ol’ Straw Dogs.” But I haven’t changed my stance on that. It’s a misogynistic fantasy and kind of a dangerous thing to depict in movies. What kind of influence could this have on the samurai constables of the future if they grow up thinking this is how the world works? (read the rest of this shit…)

Time Out’s 100 Best Action Movies

tn_36thchamberWell, I’ve never been asked to be on a film festival jury (and I’ve been twice-rejected from being on a real jury) but I’m honored that Time Out New York asked me to be one of the voters for their 100 Best Action Movies list in the “Film critics and experts” section. I believe I am an expert.

As with all lists like this there’s no way to read it without noticing what you think should be on there that’s not. Personally I can’t help but note that there’s not a single Steven Seagal*, Jean-Claude Van Damme or Dolph Lundgren film on there. Is there any Charles Bronson? There’s a couple Clints. I’m okay with no Chuck Norris. Stallone and Schwarzenegger get their due, and most of us can get behind the obvious choice for #1. It’s got some westerns, some samurai, lots of martial arts. But the b-action gets the shaft. (And blaxploitation, come to think of it.)

*except for MACHETE (read the rest of this shit…)

The Boxer’s Omen

tn_boxersomenTHE BOXER’S OMEN is one of these movies I’ve had recommended to me for years but for some reason never listened. I guess everybody just talked about how FUCKIN CRAZY it was, and I like FUCKIN CRAZY but sometimes a man needs more. For example (HERESY ALERT this paragraph) I couldn’t get into that beloved Japanese freakout available from Criterion, HOUSE or HAUSU. It is indeed unique and goofy and graphically fun, but feature length? I think that’s the ultimate example of a movie that if I stumbled across it on TV at 2 am and had never heard of it it would seem like the greatest achievement in the history of cinema, but when I intentionally sit down to watch it as a real movie I have a hard time getting through it.

Maybe that’s what I was worried BOXER’S OMEN would be. Then I was looking at the box and it said Bolo Yeung was in it so of course I rented it. Why didn’t you say so?
(read the rest of this shit…)

Fury

tn_furyFURY is an intense, well-made WWII movie. It doesn’t feel like just another forgettable same ol’ same ol’ type of war picture. For one thing, the focus on the crew of one tank makes for some unique and thrilling combat scenes. One battle scene in particular really shows the strategy of tank on tank action. They’re like pirate ship battles waged from inside vans. Or like giant turtles trying to outmaneuver each other. Not all battles are just about who has the most guns. And filming inside real tanks really adds to the realistic feel I think. It’s pretty damn cool.

Also it’s a more violent movie than most, or at least more effectively violent. Always good to hear somebody in the back of the theater loudly gasp right at the beginning of a movie. I guess somebody thought this was gonna be about nice, polite combat.

But I think FURY is signifying something too, and I’m still processing what I think about that. Writer/director David Ayer last did the really enjoyable Schwarzenegger movie SABOTAGE, which was a more fun and pulpy version of his usual topic, the Burnt Out Cops That Cross the Line (END OF WATCH, HARSH TIMES, STREET KINGS, TRAINING DAY). And this is kinda like the soldier version of that.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Brainscan

tn_brainscan“Don’t you see? Senseless violence is not entertainment.”
“What is it then?”

I think I saw BRAINSCAN a long time ago and thought it was stupid. And I was right. But watching it again I think I give it a little more credit than I did back then. It’s definitely not of the quality one would hope for from the director of ROLLING THUNDER and the writer of SEVEN. But even in its dated technology (it’s about an evil interactive CD-ROM) it’s kind of ahead of its time, and it has a very ominous tone to it, darker and more unsavory than the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels it was aping.

Like, in the opening scene Michael (Edward “and if you want to shine them on it’s ‘Hasta la vista, baby”” Furlong) is talking to his best bud for life Kyle (Jamie Marsh) on the phone while watching his neighbor Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves from BLUE RUIN) change her shirt. When he comes away from the window he turns on the TV… but then we see that he’s watching her on the TV from a camera he set up. Then he makes a hang up call and watches the footage of her answering in slow motion. At least he’s not jerking off as far as we can see, but jesus. This is our protagonist?

Michael is not that bad a prediction of what life is like for a big chunk of society now. He’s a kid who spends most of his time in his bedroom with his technology. He has a voice activated animated “Igor” on his TV screen that he tells to dial numbers for him or hold his calls or other things. It’s unclear how intelligent it is. He talks on speaker phone and the TV screen shows photo montages of his friends. He’s ahead of his time.

Where he gets this technology is not really spelled out, but his only parental interaction during the movie is a voicemail from his dad telling him he loves him and that “Business is going well here. I wish you were here with me to see all the new equipment.” His mom died in front of him when he was a kid. It still haunts him, and is implied as maybe the reason he’s so attracted to the morbid shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

Furious 7 trailer

Notes:

1. I think we can all agree, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. I cannot find Lucas Black anywhere in this trailer
3. There is a little bit of Tony Jaa though (he’s in that bus they attack)
4. The careful editing of dialogue over Paul Walker shots is moving without being tacky, in my opinion
5. I don’t know who that lady is but I like how she seems to be a normal person not familiar with the rules of the Furiousverse so she just flops onto the hood of the car and screams

Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy”

tn_freddysongsspecialpresentationOh shit you guys, did you notice it’s Halloween already? I feel like the season is just getting started, though. Next week I’m gonna have more horror reviews for you, plus other stuff.

But today instead of another review I thought I should do something different, a Halloween special if you will. Something great and beautiful and timeless that really captures the traditions and atmosphere and feelings of the holiday, like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the world’s only animated tribute to sincerity. Good cartoon in my opinion. I should totally do something like that if I’m up to it. Or maybe I could write about the Freddy Krueger rapping, that might be something more appropriate to my level of expertise. I guess I’ll do the second one.

In the late 1980s, a period when horror sequels were a major part of pop culture, there were two songs by popular rap acts that were inspired by the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET saga. Let’s take a look at them both.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Death Spa

slashersearch14

This one isn’t exactly a slasher movie, but I didn’t know.

tn_deathspaWow, DEATH SPA was not what I expected from a movie about a spa of death. This is a much more professional and imaginative movie than its Fitness Horror forefather KILLER WORKOUT. Sure, it’s completely ridiculous, because it’s about a whole bunch of spectacular deaths at a health club run by a supercomputer. But it’s a little more credible than that sounds, in my opinion. A little.

It opens with a long, show-offy tracking shot in which some of the letters on the STARBODY HEALTH SPA neon light go out so it spells “D   EA TH SPA”. And then the first woman we see practicing alone in the dance studio (Brenda Bakke, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY) seems to have a screen presence and beauty of a caliber much higher than required. I actually thought damn, she should be the lead, but she’s about to get it.

Actually she survives, but is hospitalized for a while and then wears bandages over her eyes. (And remember, Eric Bogosian threatens to burn her eyeball in US2. Coincidence? Yes.) The lead-lead is William Bumiller (LAST RESORT), who has not gone on to canonization in a Seagal film, but who also seems better than the material needs. As spa owner Michael Evans (not based on the actor from Good Times as far as I can tell) he projects rugged, capable, but not dumb. He gets a call about what happened and rushes there in his Porsche between quick flashbacks of somebody on fire. So right away we know he’s got a fairly noteworthy past. (read the rest of this shit…)

Killer Workout

slashersearch14tn_killerworkoutKILLER WORKOUT is low budget fitness club horror made by fringe action auteur David A. Prior, so it has by far the most punching I’ve ever seen in a slasher movie. I gotta respect that, at least. Prior did this between KILLZONE and DEADLY PREY. Unlike his horror debut SLEDGEHAMMER it’s not shot on video, which means it meets my rigid standards of a slasher movie I am willing to try to watch.

When a muscley blond guy (Ted Prior, HARDCASE AND FIST) starts working at Rhonda’s Workout the musclier brunette guy (Fritz Matthews)  jumps him in the parking lot and they have a bare knuckle brawl. Then it happens a couple more times. Lots of old cowboy style ducking and swinging and getting tossed and knocking over furniture. The blond guy is clearly up to something, it seems from our viewpoint like he must be undercover, but other people suspect he’s there to stalk and murder them.
(read the rest of this shit…)