Conquest

tn_conquestI have this rule for fantasy movies, you might’ve seen me write about it before. I know, the LORDs OF THE RINGSes are great and everything, but I prefer some barbarians in these things. I don’t want a little innocent creature sneaking around trying not to get a spell cast on him, I want a big motherfucker with an ax smashing skulls. Sure, Aragon is pretty cool, but he’s just like a knight or something. Fuck a knight. And he’s not even on screen the whole time. To me, the best ones are where the main character is a beefy warrior whose code is not as civilized as ours, a man or woman forged in the fires of their savage era. CONAN THE BARBARIAN is the best example, but also WOLFHOUND, THE SCORPION KING, (I’m sorry but) the remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS, and BEASTMASTER qualifies I think. KULL THE CONQUEROR has its heart in the right place. But usually they’re about a little weinery guy who has to overcome that harsh world: a hobbit, for example, or Peter MacNicol in DRAGON SLAYER, or elfy Tom Cruise in LEGEND.

CONQUEST has both of those types of characters teamed up. Ilias (Andrea Occhipinti, THE NEW YORK RIPPER, THE SEA INSIDE) is the wimpy guy, he’s from the civilized part of the world, he reminds me of Harry Hamlin in the original CLASH OF THE TITANS and he has a magic bow that shoots an unlimited supply of glowing animated arrows.

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Mace (Jorge Rivero) is the barbarian.

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Man and Boy

tn_manandboyMAN AND BOY. Ha ha, yeah I know, I noticed that too. The name sounds inappropriate. I bet if it was called THE SEARCH FOR JUBAL or something it would’ve played on cable more and we all would’ve heard of it before. Instead I had to just stumble across it by accident in the western section at the video store. It’s from 1971 and it stars Bill Cosby (The Cosby Mysteries) as Caleb Revers, an ex-Union soldier who, after the Emancipation Proclamation, holds his head high and owns property despite what some of the white folk around might think about it.

I mentioned Jubal ’cause that’s the name of their horse. Being the Cliff Huxtable of the Old West, Cosby is a horse doctor who is going to put some white guy’s injured horse down, but then his son Billy (George Spell, THE NAKED KISS) cries so much he makes a deal with the farmhand or whatever to take the horse if he can get it to walk. It’s like WAR HORSE for a minute, they nurse Jubal back to health and then force him to haul a giant boulder. These people in movies sure do talk a big game about how much they love a horse before they enslave and torture the poor thing. No wonder those big bastards dream of one day fucking all of mankind to death, yelling “Remember Enumclaw!” (see ZOO). (read the rest of this shit…)

Invincible (2001)

tn_invincibleI saw this old issue of Asian Trash Cinema that had an interview with Ching Siu-Tung, veteran martial arts choreographer, prolific wire-fu practicioner, Jackie Chan Chinese Opera schoolmate, and director of Steven Seagal’s weirdest movie (BELLY OF THE BEAST). Of course the interview covered alot of his most legendary work: he directed the SWORDSMAN trilogy, EXECUTIONERS and NAKED WEAPON, he was stunt coordinator for A BETTER TOMORROW II and action director for HERO. But I was even more interested in the weird little tidbits I’d never heard about his brief flirtations with Hollywood after THE MATRIX exploded and Yuen Woo Ping was all booked up.

The craziest one was a story about “the director and producer” of SPIDER-MAN coming to Ching, unhappy with how their action scenes were coming out, and wanting him to redo them. Of course it never ended up happening, he seems unclear why and doesn’t go into details. But it’s an intriguing story. Raimi was always up on the Hong Kong guys, he executive produced HARD TARGET after all. It makes sense he would know about the top wire-fighting guy and think of him for a movie about a guy swinging on webs.

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Thank God it’s Slyday

Today is Sylvester Stallone’s birthday, as good a time as any to make sure everybody knows that there was a Hungarian comic book adaptation of COBRA:

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It seems the entire gem of a comics strip was once posted online by the excellent Cannon Films fan sight that has since disappeared like it was the Cannon SPIDER-MAN movie. I have also found evidence that this same series included an issue with back-to-back James Cameron adaptations…

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…so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other cool ones.

Any Hungarians got a line on these? Are they rare, or do you just have them lying around everywhere, waiting to bring joy to the heart of somebody like me?

“unbekümmerter Don’t-give-a-fuck-ness”

tn_germanmechanicThere’s a new interview with me up on a websight called Hard Sensations. As far as I know it is not a pornographical type of websight, but it’s hard to know. See, the whole thing is in German, so I don’t know what the fuck I was talking about. Possibly THE LONE RANGER, judging by the pictures. Whatever it was, hopefully it’s nothing I could be blackmailed with by German blackmailers (erpressers).

So let me know what you think CJ and the rest of you learn German and then read it and then let me know what you think. Dank Kumpel.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

tn_trans4For God’s sake don’t take this as high praise, but TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION is the most legitimate movie in the TRANSFORMABLES saga so far. Not too legit to quit while they’re ahead, but competent in ways the others weren’t, and overall much less annoying. The downside: less crazy. Michael Bay has earned an expectation of escalating preposterousness and headscratching whatthefuck moments in each chapter, but this time he verges on tasteful, at least by the standards of his filmography. Only mild racism, no leg humping, only one scene with a hero threatening an old lady with a baseball bat. Robot hyenas with fur and a trigger happy fat Transformer with the voice of John Goodman seem kinda tame after the robot baby factory on the moon, Robot Heaven and peeing and farting robots of previous chapters. And we’ve gotten acclimated to the robot beards. He’s gotta go further than this if he wants to shock us.

And guess how he did it? I cannot fucking believe I’m typing this, but Michael Bay – the George Washington of the cinematic movement that forced me to invent the Action Comprehensibility Ratings system – has made a movie with genuine action clarity.

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Snowpiercer

tn_snowpiercerSNOWPIERCER, the Hollywood-stars/English words debut of South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, is the second best train movie I saw on the big screen in June. While UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY is DIE HARD on a boat on a train, SNOWPIERCER is  the post-apocalypse on a train. The whole world has been frozen over, eradicating all life except for the lucky bastards that got onto a giant train that has been traveling a globe-spanning track for 17 years.

It has similar themes of class inequality to ELYSIUM and the HUNGER GAMESes, but I liked it quite a bit more than those. The concept is that the poor people live in squalor at the back and the rich people in luxury at the front. It’s a brutal dictatorship; the tail dwellers get threatened and beaten, limbs severed as punishment for defiance, fed nothing but green jelly protein bars. Every once in a while a lady in a pretty yellow dress comes back with a tape measure to size up which of their children to steal. You can just feel the anger and humiliation of the people when this shit happens. It’s easy to hate those motherfuckers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Wolf Creek 2

tn_wolfcreek2Man, I waited so long for WOLF CREEK 2 that I gave up on it happening like three different times. Back in 2005 director Greg Mclean said “You call that a debut? This is a debut!” with his deeply Australian outback slasher. It was kinda controversial at the time. I remember a Seattle Times critic walked out. Ebert was really offended by it. All my buddies except the two I saw it with said it sucked. It was labelled a new low in “torture porn” by non-horror fans who still review every new horror movie or worse, “nu-horror” by horror fans who hate most new horror movies. But I thought it was really well done, masterful tension and outstanding (sometimes darkly humorous) villain performance by John Jarrat (DARK AGE), very effective use of wide open nature as a source of terror, plus a little bit of precious George Miller blood pumping through the veins of the chase scenes. One over-explanatory scene and an abrupt ending couldn’t kill it for me.

Mclean’s followup was ROGUE, a really good giant croc movie somewhat buried in the U.S. when it came straight to video from Dimension Extreme. But then financing problems, the death of a close collaborator and who knows what else kept slowing down the return to the giant crater where a guy stalks people. So I’m happy to report that even with all that anticipation this is a very good sequel. It’s a smart escalation, more action packed, faster paced, cleverly structured. The only big repeated error is another “That’s it, huh?” ending. (read the rest of this shit…)

Do the Right Thing

tn_dotherightthingThoughts on DO THE RIGHT THING, 25 years later.

This is still my favorite Spike Lee movie. And I’m a big Spike Lee fan. I mean, I can’t say as big as they get, ’cause I still haven’t seen SHE HATE ME and a couple of the documentaries. I’ve seen everything else though, and I like most of them. I mean – MALCOLM X, CROOKLYN, CLOCKERS, GET ON THE BUS… so many good ones. I know some of you guys are gonna say 25TH HOUR. White people like that one. Including me. I even kinda like GIRL 6. BAMBOOZLED is too much for me though. Or at least at the time it was. Haven’t revisited it. Maybe some day.

I say this because I feel that Spike Lee doesn’t get enough credit as a pioneering and original voice in American cinema. You only see him in the news when he says something stupid, getting mad at Clint for not having enough brothers in his WWII movie or something. I think The Ain’t It Cool News has a social responsibility to mention his name every once in a while just to create the talkback that can remind us how many mush brained racist idiots still exist in the modern world. But there’s not enough discussion of his body of work, his unique style, his influence, his ahead-of-his-timeness. So what if he has a big mouth, if he has a vision to match? (read the rest of this shit…)

Non-Stop

tn_nonstopSo far I think I like the idea of Liam Neeson action vehicles more than the actual execution of them. Both TAKENs were fun, but with post-actiony scuffles and not as tight of storytelling as I prefer in a formula revenge movie. UNKNOWN from what I remember was kinda fun, but what was it about again? He was playing an amnesiac I believe? Yeah, that’s about how I feel about that one.

By far my favorite of this cycle is THE GREY, but that’s because it was all about manly drama. Most of the actual action (anything involving wolves) was as indecipherable as they come. So I came to his new airplane suspense thriller (from UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra) pretty jaded, but I enjoyed it more than expected.

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