SKIN 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. Continue reading Skin Trade
This is not just the latest Dolph Lundgren picture, this is the passion project he’s been trying to make for years. He co-wrote the screenplay (IMDb says John Hyams did a rewrite), and originally planned to direct, but instead gave it to Ekachai Uekrongtham, who is best known for BEAUTIFUL BOXER.
At one point there were rumors that Seagal was going to co-star with Lundgren. Instead we ended up with the more acrobatic all-star team-up of Dolph and Tony Jaa (in his first English role). As you can see, Michael Jai White is also there in a supporting role, along with Peter Weller and Ron Perlman as the skin trader. According to IMDb we should also look out for Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Conan Stevens. The second unit director/action and stunt choreographer is Dian Hristov was Dolph’s stunt double in THE EXPENDABLES 3 and ONE IN THE CHAMBER. He’s also been Seagal’s double through most of the DTV era.
I 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. Continue reading Falcon Rising
Somehow MJW hasn’t had an action movie role since 2011 (when he co-starred in TACTICAL FORCE and NEVER BACK DOWN 2), and he hasn’t had a starring action role since his DTV classic BLOOD AND BONE in 2009. The producers of FALCON RISING recognize this problem so they are pre-planning this as a franchise. If they stick to the plan then White’s character John “Falcon” Chapman will doing flying kicks on motherfuckers in different exotic locations each year. This is of course the Brazil chapter.
It looks like Neal McDonough plays his boss, and his sister (who gets kidnapped, I think) is played by Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. Not surprisingly considering the setting, Lateef Crowder (capoeira fighter who’s in THE PROTECTOR and UNDISPUTED III) is also in it. Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED III, NEVER BACK DOWN 2, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING) choreographed the fights. At one point I read that Isaac Florentine (where are you, man?) was gonna direct this, but it ended up being Ernie Barbarash. Not as much of a sure bet, but I remember thinking his Van Damme/Adkins team-up ASSASSINATION GAMES was pretty decent.
Allegedly this will have a theatrical release September 5th, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
I guess different people are free to interpret Elmore Leonard different ways, but to me he writes serious stories that are funny. As far as this movie is concerned he writes comedies. I guess that’s the GET SHORTY approach as opposed to the OUT OF SIGHT/JACKIE BROWN/Justified one. Too bad this isn’t as good as GET SHORTY.
It’s been years since I read the book, but I think this is fairly faithful. In my memory Skip (Christian Slater) is one of the main characters, which is not really the case here (despite the terrible cover making him way bigger than everybody else). But the basic storyline I think is intact and the movie’s biggest strength is lots of funny dialogue, largely from the book I believe. Continue reading Freaky Deaky
Two years ago give or take a couple days I wrote about NEVER BACK DOWN as part of some back-to-school themed reviews. To commemorate the historic second anniversary of that review they have decided to make a part 2.
If you never saw the first one I forgive you. And I think you’re gonna be okay without it. Of the many mixed martial arts/underground fighting movies of the last few years it’s the slickest and most Hollywood. It’s the standard teen subculture movie but with MMA instead of breakdancing or BMX bikes or whatever. Troubled new kid in town wants girl, she belongs to popular rich bully who also is the king of a notorious underground fighting tournament. I can’t recommend it when BLOOD AND BONE, DAMAGE, UNDISPUTED II-III and FIGHTING have all come out in recent years, but I did sort of enjoy the absurdity of these allegedly high school age dudes having their own Kumite Lite.
Like STONE COLD or COBRA, TACTICAL FORCE begins with our cop heroes using excessive force to stop an armed robbery at a grocery store. Unlike those movies it has no style and feels amateurish. I was already losing hope even before Steve Austin and Michael Jai White drove up in a SWAT truck together and didn’t look cool. That’s two of my favorite guys right now, I never expected to see them do a movie together, and you give them an entrance like this? I’m sorry, I know you need to protect the head, but Michael Jai looks goofy wearing that big ass helmet. Let him be fake for a second so he can start the movie looking cool. Continue reading Tactical Force
I know most of you have already seen this (and sent me the link – thanks for that) but I just realized I could embed it on here and it’s like I’m personally presenting it to you. I’m coming out and introducing it, or inviting you over to my apartment to watch it. There will be a Q&A and light refreshments afterwards.
I’m not sure how close they are to having the actual BLACK DYNAMITE cartoon series ready, but the Adult Swim cartoon people have made this 11-ish minute pilot available to prove that it’s a good idea. Click on the thing here for the video and some comments.
We got a couple stories in the news worth discussing over the weekend in my opinion. Feel free to add your own topics in the comments as long as it’s Badass Cinema current events related. No cheating. Please use common sense, Paul.
In case you haven’t heard, the not-very-good teen mixed-martial-arts movie NEVER BACK DOWN has a DTV sequel coming out. I have high hopes though because it’s directed by Michael Jai White (who also plays the mentor character in the movie). The choreography is by Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED 3, the MORTAL KOMAT web thing, the upcoming UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movie).