AMB: Taken (2008)

taken-poster

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Taken (2008): Breakdown by Kain424

A former government operative’s daughter is kidnapped.  Now he must tear through the underworld of France to get her back.

[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]

THE GOOD GUY:

Bryan I've Got Skillz Mills

Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills

Mills is about equal parts fantasy and fear.  Besson clearly wrote him to be capable of near superhuman levels of monstrous deeds, but he’s also that Ethan Edwards-kinda guy everyone secretly wants to have their back.  He’s a tough-love sort, but it is love.  And if you accept it, it’s a tender, caring kind of love.  If you don’t, it’s overbearing and way overreaching.  This might seem like a crazy task to give an actor, but Liam Neeson is more than willing to give this would-be DTV role all he can muster.  And it absolutely pays dividends, because Neeson makes you believe this guy could actually exist.

THE BAD GUYS:

da bad guys

What really puts the whole question of whether or not this film might be somewhat racist is put to rest rather easily when you realize you can’t remember any of the bad guys.  Oh? You remember “Marco from Tropoja”? Good for you… except you don’t.  They all do the Spartacus song and dance during the big confrontation and identify themselves as all being “Marco from Tropoja.”  There’s the French cop named Jean-Claude (no, not THAT Jean-Claude), but who else?  I had to look up that rich white dude on IMDb to find out he was named Saint Claire.  Nah, the villains of Taken are either slightly brown or completely undercooked.  They simply are.

[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]

MURDER BY NUMBERS: [35]

For a mainstream film. Taken is definitely one of the more violent ones.  What’s especially noticeable here is just how lethal Liam Neeson’s character is.  Of the film’s 35 deaths, 32 are caused by the main man himself.

[THE BEST OF THE REST]

EPIC MOMENT AND BEST LINE:

Look, Taken is film based solely around a gimmick.  It’s a gimmick that works well, however.  So well, in fact, the entire premise was sold in the trailers.  Here is the scene in question, in case you’ve been living under a rock:

[THE EXECUTION]

Spray and pray, the Christian way

Taken is a an interesting sort of Action film, delicately toeing the line between entertainment and grim drama.  Essentially a modernized telling of John Ford’s The Searchers, mixed with a little Cold War stayover anti-Russian sentiment, and a whole lotta Americentric xenophobia.  It is of the post-Jason Bourne variant of Action style, but mostly it is post-9/11.

Living in the United States after the terrorist attack on September 11th 2001 was an interesting, if not frightening, experience.  It was a time of grandiose, outwardly expressions of patriotism, whilst simultaneously representing a sad, almost xenophobic view of the rest of the world.  There was an intellectual dishonesty apparent in the national response to these troubled times.  Though the offending group of men responsible for the deaths of those 2,996 people were from a radical faction of Muslim terrorist group called Al-Qaeda, with the 19 men responsible being largely from Saudi Arabia, U.S. citizens largely condensed their animosity toward a vague and unspecific group, for the most part simply referred to as “Middle Eastern.”  During this time, to question the newly jingoistic and increasingly threatening attitudes of the time was to be called “unpatriotic.” When the United States went to war with Iraq, many did (and still do) believe it was a vengeance strike in retaliation for the September 11th attacks.  And because the invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces was so widely criticized by other countries, it wasn’t uncommon to hear a repeat of then U.S. President George W. Bush’s words: “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.”  Much of this sad, black and white worldview animosity was directed at France.  This went to such an extreme that there was an actual movement to change the name of French fries to Freedom fries.

So when viewing Taken, written by prominent French writer and sometimes director, Luc Besson, it is important to keep these events in mind as they had every effect on the film.  Make no mistake, because as Taken is superficially an Action film in the style of Commando, it is every bit a satire.  That fact it plays itself so straight only makes it better.  Liam Neeson’s single-minded determination, lethal skill, and even his age make his Bryan Mills a modern take on John Wayne’s famous Ethan Edwards character from The Searchers.  And who is more America than John Wayne?  What would John Wayne think of his virgin American daughter going away to care-free Europe for vacation?  Even worse, what if it’s discovered his daughter is actually planning on chasing around famously liberal Euro-rockers U-2? And what of those filthy French scumbags?  They won’t even help us in our dirty wars!  They must be with the bad guys!  And it turns out they are!  When Neeson’s Mills eventually finds out the man behind the man behind the man is actually “Middle Eastern”, the film finally hits Paul Verhoeven levels of satire.

Bumping off the occasional rich white asshole is just a bonus

But, of course, this wouldn’t come anywhere near Verhoeven’s oeuvre if it wasn’t violent as all hell.  And Taken is one of the most violent films to become popular in the mainstream in years.  There were some immediate comparisons to the Bourne films at the time of its release, and while they do carry some of that Greengrass shaky aesthetic, Neeson’s bone-snapping efficient use of his enemies’ limbs against themselves is far more reminiscent of Steven Seagal’s films.  In fact, were it not such a Conservative-baiting, white paranoia thriller, this could have easily been a Seagal picture.  Fortunately, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, it has Neeson instead.  Neeson’s background as a heavily dramatic actor with a real sense for gravitas holds the movie together in a way Seagal’s whispery, self-serving calmness never could.  When Neeson is on the phone with his daughter right before her kidnapping, he is scared silly.  But just beyond that is a part ready to fight.  Ready to kill.  And that’s something I think only he could have brought to the table, as opposed to the many Action stars of yesteryear who may have otherwise filled the cool dad’s leather jacket of Bryan Mills.

I would say Taken is pretty damn entertaining as a play on post-9/11 American fears, though as an Action film it struggles a bit with its identity. The bits involving human trafficking are at times much darker than you may expect, and Bryan Mills’ use of torture and terror almost seem hypocritical.  At one point he snarls, “I’ll tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!”  The audience is meant to cheer on this hero, but it becomes difficult the more and more he behaves as a villain.  But still, America felt wronged and hurt.  And for the time, it felt good to hurt someone right back.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Don’t kidnap John Wayne’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Steven Seagal’s daughter anyone.  Ever.

[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]

[  ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[  ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Factory/Warehouse/Castle
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[  ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[  ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[  ] Manly Embrace(s)
[  ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[  ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[  ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

[TOTAL: 14 outta 25]

Oh, I see you're angry


©AllOuttaBubbleGum.com

John Wick killcount

John Wick (2014)

john_wick

Starring Keanu Reeves

Watch video:

Reeves kills 80

Discuss

John Wick rights held by Thunder Road Pictures, 87Eleven,  and MJW Films.

Friday Night Movie Night: In The Line Of Duty III

In The Line Of Duty III

Before you start feeling too far behind here, let me explain that there is no In The Line Of Duty or In The Line Of Duty II.  This was a marketing scheme which morphed into a fairly successful Honk Kong Action film franchise.  You may read my thoughts on this film HERE.

TL;DR version: I think it’s one of the greatest Action movie ever.  So watch it tonight and enjoy it with me.

Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed it.

Discuss

Mark Wahlberg killcounts

OSCARS WAHLBERG

The Basketball Diaries………………………………………………..1

Fear……………………………………………………………………..2

Traveller

The Big Hit……………………………………………………………..33

The Corrupter………………………………………………………….8

Three Kings……………………………………………………………3

The Yards

Planet Of The Apes……………………………………………………54

The Truth About Charlie

Four Brothers…………………………………………………………..5

Invincible

The Departed……………………………………………………………1

Shooter………………………………………………………………….39

We Own The Night

Max Payne………………………………………………………………28

The Other Guys…………………………………………………………2

Broken City………………………………………………………………2

Pain & Gain………………………………………………………………1

2 Guns…………………………………………………………………..12

Lone Survivor……………………………………………………………12

Transformers: Age Of Extinction………………………………………1

Mojave

Entourage

Ted 2

TOTAL 204

**All counts above 9 are tentative. Until there is a video showing verification, you may take these numbers with a grain of salt.

AMB: John Wick (2014)

john-wick-poster-Keanu-reeves

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

John Wick (2014): Breakdown by Kain424

After Russian gangsters rob him, steal his car, and kill his dog, former hitman John Wick takes up arms once again for revenge.

[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]

THE GOOD GUYS:

John Wick

Keanu Reeves as “Baba Yaga” John Wick

Reeves does well for himself here, as the awakened unstoppable killing machine of the film’s title.  John Wick is nearly as supernatural as his legend would have many believe, a silent killing machine who can roar at any given time, becoming the world’s greatest headshot collector.

THE BAD GUYS:

Death With Dignity

Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov

Tarasov is a gangster finally making it big, and then suddenly losing it all because of someone else’s mistake.  Nyqvist plays him as desperately furious as possible, dying along with a hopeless rage.

Scared Of The Boogeyman

Alfie Allen as Iosef Tarasov

Game Of Thrones’s Alfie Allen plays another luckless, foolish thug, who gets things going and then spends the remainder of the film frightened and on the run.

Judo Bitch Of Awesomeness

Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins

Palicki is becoming more and more known for her roles as the tough hot chick in Action these days.  While her role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has recently given her more time in the spotlight, I love her fun and freaky assassin in John Wick.  She’s versatile enough to go head to head with Reeves and make it believable.

That's Not Van Damme...

Daniel Bernhardt as Kirill

Since Stahelski had worked with Bernhardt way back in Bloodsport 2 and the Matrix films and Leitch had choreographed him in Parker, it seemed only inevitable Bernhardt would pop up in their debut film as directors.  He’s got a great presence, and I’m glad they gave him so much to do as Tarasov’s big bad right-hand man.  Is it still too much to ask to see him starring in something again?

[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]

EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:

Typical

Look, this simply would not be a Derek Kolstad joint without skinny bitches and champagne.  It’s like Luc Besson and little girls.  It’s there, it’s kinda uncomfortable, but you ignore it and go on with the rest of the movie to cling to what you like.  I’m admitting it, I’m not saying I like it, just being real.

MURDER BY NUMBERS: [~90]

Ah, man! Not in a speedo! Not like this!

A shitload of people get themselves well and dead by the end of this picture, mostly at the hand of Mr. Wick himself.  Reeves scores 80 kills, largely by headshot.  It’s something to see, for sure.

[THE BEST OF THE REST]

BEST FIGHT:

Keanu Reeves vs Adrianne Palicki

At least let me get dressed first!

Yeah, in film with Daniel Bernhardt it still comes around to Reeves versus the chick who played Jady Jaye in the second live-action G.I. Joe movie.  And it’s awesome and fun.  Watching these two twist each other into pretzels and slam one another around the room is an absolute treat.

BEST LINE:

John Wick is strapped to a chair and about to be executed.  But he’s only getting angrier.

He's thinking he's back.

“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back. So you can either hand over your son, or you can die screaming alongside him!”

[THE EXECUTION]

John Wick is the latest in the newer trend of old-guys-proving-they-can-still-kick-ass series of films, which started with Sylvester Stallone’s return to his Rocky and Rambo characters and then continued into more popularity with the Liam Neeson Action vehicle TakenJohn Wick sees Keanu Reeves drop his cane and pick up a gun in a surprisingly well-crafted thriller one would have expected to be more DTV than Theatrical.

My name... is, uh, John. Hi.

In fact, were it not to have found Keanu Reeves attached, I could easily see this having gone the DTV route, probably with someone like Dolph Lundgren starring.  This isn’t a knock, mind you, just the reality these days.  Lundgren is definitely top tier when it comes to DTV and John Wick is as clever and fun as about anything to come out in the last few years in that area.  Written by One In The Chamber and The Package scribe, Derek Kolstad, John Wick’s screenplay sees the usual quirky gangster characters, unlikely hand to hand battles, and machine gun battles found in his other work.  Fortunately, the film is largely saved by the involvement of Keanu Reeves, who was able to bring in first-time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, two Hollywood stuntmen from fight and stunt studio 87Eleven.  Both Stahelski and Leitch have been in the business since the early 1990s and seem to have worked out what works and what doesn’t work in an Action film.  And while they may not make a particularly strong stylistic impression, they definitely make the Action worth the ticket price.

The gunfights are just the kind of free form-yet precise type of inventiveness modern Action needs.  Remember that part in The Expendables 2, when Chuck Norris kicks the guy into the metal sensor and fills him with bullets?  That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.  And that was Chad Stahelski’s work.  These two have studied Hong Kong-style Action films and made a blend between that and a more U.S. style that probably works better than either.  Or it might, if it continues to evolve.  Rather than use shaky-cam for the fight scenes, Leitch and Stahelski get performers who are willing and can do their own stuntwork.  And having worked with Keanu Reeves on The Matrix films and Man Of Tai Chi meant they had a major actor who had developed a good rapport with them.

Neon Death

Keanu himself really tries here, and I think it pays off.  I never bought him as an Action star, even after the separate successes of both Speed and The Matrix, but I think he plays it about right as the titular hero here.  His disassociative acting style works as a hitman.  He doesn’t quite feel right, and that’s very much the type of character you’d expect, especially for a film paying such reverence to the works of Jean-Pierre Melville.  He has menace, but is never really intimidating.  It’s his legend that’s intimidating.  It wouldn’t make sense for a group of thugs to think they could just drop in on someone like Dolph Lundgren, beat him up, kill his pet, take his stuff, and then walk away.  But you don’t get that kind of “don’t fuck with me” vibe from a guy like Keanu Reeves.  So his casting here ends up working on that level alone, let alone his smooth physicality.

Aside from its star, John Wick is also grounded in some truly inspired performances, my favorite probably being Michael Nyqvist’s gangster boss, Viggo Tarasov.  Tarasov is like a cliche Action movie villain who suddenly realizes he’s in an Action film.  He knows damn well it’s all over as soon as he finds out what his hot-headed son has done.  In a last act of “fuck it” defiance, he still throws everything he’s got at John Wick.  If he’s going down, he’ll make Wick feel it.  All the while, Nyqvist seems to be having a great time.  This is far and away better than his work in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

John Lequizamo’s character of Aurelio gets to add on the film’s thickest layers of substance.  If his performance had faltered in the least, much (if not all) of the movie simply wouldn’t have worked.  So he should be commended for what he brought to the film, especially with such limited screen time.  And of course I have to mention how delighted I am that David Patrick Kelly gets brief cameo.

This certainly has the feel of a movie made by Action fans FOR Action fans.  Aside from the tough guy casting and filling out of the small parts by cult faces, it’s clear Stahelski and Leitch have done their homework.  I mean, the name of the club is The Red Circle.  All the great fight choreography and gun fetishism that’s been missing in modern Action is present and accounted for here.  All wrapped up in a tight little story, about as simple and brainless as needed to be effective.  It was interesting to see this universe they’ve created, as it was almost Tim Burton-like.  Not in any superficial way, but in its otherworldliness.  The characters are like ghosts, but all living in this kind of neon universe.  It’s almost as if the 90s aesthetic from The Matrix never left, but simply evolved into this.

Badass Is Back

Speaking of which, back at the end of the 90s, after The Matrix was released, I’d hoped the use of skilled fight choreography and clearly filmed Action sequences would usher in a new era for the genre.  Instead, studios focused on the technological aspect of the film.  Bullet time and even more CGI became the norm.  But here, again, is another Keanu Reeves film.  Again, it is full of well-shot Action and damn good fight scenes, mostly between actors who have trained in martial arts of some kind.  Seeing as it’s done well, I dare to hope again.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Don’t hurt people.  You’re only killing yourself.

[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[  ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Factory/Warehouse/Castle
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[  ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[  ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[  ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[  ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

[TOTAL: 18 outta 25]

ShibumiShibumi, huh?  Very clever, guys.

©AllOuttaBubbleGum.com

Once Upon A Time In The West killcount

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-poster

Starring Charles Bronson

and Henry Fonda, Jason Robards

Watch video:

Fonda kills 9

Robards kills 12

Bronson kills 7

Discuss

Once Upon A Time In The West rights held by Finanzia San Marco, Rafran Cinematografica, and Paramount Pictures.

AMB: In The Line Of Duty III: Force Of The Dragon (1988)

in-the-Line-of-Duty 3

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

In The Line Of Duty III: Force Of The Dragon (1988): Breakdown by Kain424

Two murderous terrorists engage in a violent killing spree after a foiled jewelry heist.  Only an ambitious Hong Kong policewoman and a hard-boiled Japanese detective on a mission of vengeance can stop them.

[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]

THE GOOD GUYS:

Cynthia

Cynthia Khan as S.C.S Rachel Yeung

She may not have the flexible acting skills or fluid movements of Michelle Yeoh, but Cynthia’s got a burning fire in her eyes and a definite presence.  I think she more than acquits herself in this film.  Rachel is a scrappy and persistent pup, but one with quite a bite to her.

Hiroshi

Hiroshi Fujioka as Hiroshi Fujioka

Fujioka is pure personality in a jar.  He naturally exudes a strength and confidence reminiscent of Sonny Chiba without the cruelty.  His cleverly named Hiroshi Fujioka works for the emotional weight of the narrative, as we can see his earnest desire to avenge his murdered partner.

THE BAD GUYS:

Michiko

Michiko Nishiwaki as Michiko Nishiwaki

Sensual like a knife and ferocious like a shark, Michiko (also imaginitively named) is easily the most hardcore member of the In The Line Of Duty III cast. She is death shaped like a woman.

Stuart

Stuart Ong as Nakamura Genji

Genji is dying of some disease, and will use every ounce of strength left in his dying body to kill or maim anyone who gets in his way.  Nothing to lose and everything to gain, Genji is a heavily armed wounded animal.

[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]

Sex and Violence

EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:

While I will readily admit this film’s use of nudity is clearly an attempt at titillation bordering on exploitation, I have to applaud the film makers’s use of this to further their own storytelling ends.  In a shortcut to characterization, we get a rather sweaty and intense sex scene, complete with hair pulling, bloodletting (with a knife, no less!), and Basic Instinct-like impossible positions.  And though Michiko Nishiwaki spends much of the duration in somewhat of a submissive “taker” position, it is Michiko herself who initiates this moment and literally draws first blood.

Killer Kiss

In fact, Michiko Nishiwaki’s entire character is one who willingly will use her sexuality to catch her opponents off guard, as seen in the opening, wherein she begins kissing a guard who spots her.  She then knifes the man to death, lips still locked onto the poor fellow, in order to silence his screams.  So is this misogyny?  I wouldn’t say so.

MURDER BY NUMBERS: [145]

For a film that is basically about two cops versus two criminals, this is one damn big violent movie.  And it’s not just the large bodycount I’m talking about.  People are repeatedly shot, ever after they’re dead.  There are deaths by fire, explosions, car crashes, knifing, and more.  People are beat to a bloody pulp, scalded with hot water, and stabbed with an assortment of devices.  It’s a Jackie Chan routine gone horribly wrong.  But it’s amazing to watch.

[THE BEST OF THE REST]

EPIC MOMENT:

Start With A Bang

I would say the opening of the film, with its sudden burst of violence.  Our two lead baddies come swinging off a balcony, firing their machine guns into an ever-panicking crowd,  The movie starts on this high note and plays it to the end, but it begins here.  Wow.

BEST FIGHT:

Last Man Standing

Speaking of wow, the fight between Hiroshi Fujioka and Stuart Ong is one for the ages.  These two kick and punch each other into oblivion, use old boat equipment, ropes, fire, and everything in an old warehouse to destroy the body of the other.  And all this while one of them is handcuffed.  By the end of it they can both barely stand.  It’s so gruesome it gets disgusting.

BEST LINE:

Ever been watching one of those films where the main bad guy treats his bodyguards like shit and you just start wondering why they even bother coming to work everyday?  Why don’t they just quit?  Well, we finally have a film where exactly that happens.  After being bullied and yelled at for several minutes, two bodyguards literally quit.  As bad timing would have it, our renegade Japanese cop is showing up to go after their former employer and he meets them at the doorway.

So Satisfying

[THE EXECUTION]

In The Line Of Duty III is a curious film, starting with its name.  To be clear here, there is no In The Line Of Duty or In The Line Of Duty II.  In 1985 the D & B Films Company (founded by Sammo Hung and Dickson Poon) released Yes, Madam, a breakout film for both Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Yeoh.  Yeoh was going by the name Michelle Khan at the time.  It was an impressive debut for both women, and kickstarted an entirely new genre featuring female protagonists kicking massive amounts of ass.  The following year would see the release of Michelle Khan’s Royal Warriors, wherein a policewoman teams up with a vengeful Japanese cop and an airline sky marshal against renegade terrorists.  While also a success, Michelle Khan went on to marry producer Dickson Poon, who apparently convinced her to “retire” from films.  With Rothrock off doing her own thing and their other star out of the film making game, D & B Films pulled a move so scandalous and so bold I honestly can’t believe it worked.

False Advertising

First, they re-released Royal Warriors under the title In The Line Of Duty.  Pushing Michelle Khan’s name into the foreground of their marketing, they then re-released Yes, Madam as a sequel to Royal Warriors, proudly putting new white person star Cynthia Rothrock right up there with Michelle.  Then, they took Taiwanese actress Li-Tsing Yang and renamed her Cynthia Khan, and put In The Line Of Duty III into production.  Now, we all know what sort of trickery hack film studio The Asylum is willing to do in order to gain a potential audience, but this really takes it to another level.  It really shows what kind of faith the studio had in its audience, and I think this film would simply be relegated to a very curious historical anomaly, perhaps best long forgotten.  But amazingly, In The Line Of Duty III is great.  Like, seriously great.

When we speak of great Hong Kong films, the conversation can often be dominated by John Woo.  This is really too bad, because there are so many other wonderful directors and so many truly awesome Action films from that era.  In The Line Of Duty III, I believe, is absolutely one of them.  The action beats bounce steadily from a contained, almost comedic rhythm to an epic intensity that easily rivals some of the more well-known Action flicks produced around the same time.  The fight scenes are brutal and the gunfights are simply crazy violent.

Source Material

But the thing that stood out to me upon my first viewing, and still stands out after repeated watching, is the movie’s incorporation of the more effective bits from other films.  The casual eye may not spot it, but In The Line Of Duty III makes use of snippets from films like The Terminator, Nighthawks, Armour Of God, and more.  Quentin Tarantino and The Wachowskis would go on to use the same technique to great success in the following decade, and here it is is equally effective, if not more because you almost don’t notice it.  This isn’t a knock on the movie, of course, just an observation.  I think what they’ve done here is a wonderful way to co-opt something they thought would work for their film.  If it didn’t work, I might think otherwise, but joint directors Arthur Wong and Brandy Yuen make great use of what came before them.  But the real highlight is what they bring to the table themselves.

Despite the usual tendencies of these kinds of films to be melodramatic to the point of soap, Wong and Yuen take the film almost preposterously serious.  They move from what I’d at first thought was going to be a James Bond-style title sequence to a fast-paced heist scene, complete with out well-dressed, heavily armed antagonists causing panic at a jewelry expo by firing into the crowd with automatic weapons and tossing smoke grenades.  Their heist of the jewels seems ludicrously simple, and their dispatching of an army of security guards is quick and insane, but the pacing is enough to keep you from overthinking what’s happening.  It’s almost overwhelming.

The Matrix, much?

All the more impressive is that the film manages to keep the pace for much of the (fairly short and sweet, at just about an hour and a half) running time.  The introduction of several loaded Action scenes keeps the pace brisk, and the focus locked.  But there is just enough breathing room to make for an interesting story.  The villains of the picture aren’t out for financial gain.  At least, not after they discover the jewels they stole were high-end fakes.  In The Line Of Duty III quickly becomes a brutal tale of savagery, as Michiko Nishiwaki and her lover Stuart Ong go on to seek revenge for their betrayal.  But violence only begets more violence, and with every attempt to fulfill a vendetta, more bodies hit the floor.  One of our protagonists, played by Sega spokesman Hiroshi Fujioka, attempts to apprehend the two maniacs, only to have innocent civilians killed all around him.

Passion Of Death

And while I wouldn’t say the film is specifically misogynistic, it does have some things to say about the link between sex and violence.  While Cynthia Khan entertains a romance with Melvin Wong, she is seemingly an asexual career-driven creature.  Her femininity is never really used against her or for her.  Hiroshi Fujioka, on the other hand, is completely sexual.  Her and Stuart Ong’s relationship is passionate and lethal, even in death.

But let’s not forget this movie is still entertainment.  In addition to the great martial arts fights and gun battles, we also get some cameos from Hong Kong staples like Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, and a late third act role for one of my personal favorites Dick Wei.  Also worth noting is the bodyguard who leads the mutiny from their asshole boss is none other than future fighting game movie staple Robin Shou.

Woman on woman violence

There is a point, once Fujioka reaches Hong Kong, where the movie briefly becomes a less comedic version of Red Heat, but In The Line Of Duty III is about twenty times more action-packed.  It does basically take the final fight from the previous year’s Iron Angels almost wholesale, but there is just enough violent absurdity to make me get past it.  Hong Kong films from this era were remarkable with what they achieved action-wise, and this may just be the best of them.  Definitely, DEFINITELY, seek this one out.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Violence begets violence, revenge is masochistic, and crime only leads to suffering.

[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[  ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Factory/Warehouse/Castle
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[  ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[  ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[  ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [In The Line Of Duty IV: Witness]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

[TOTAL: 20 outta 25]

©AllOuttaBubbleGum.com

Mission: Impossible II killcount

Mission: Impossible 2 (2002) a.k.a. M:I-2

MI-2

Starring Tom Cruise

Watch video:

Cruise kills 29

Discuss

Mission: Impossible 2 rights held by Paramount Pictures, Cruise/Wagner Productions, and Munich Film Partners & Company (MFP) MI2 Productions.

Blade: Trinity killcount

Blade: Trinity (2004) a.k.a. Blade III

blade_trinity_snipes

Starring Wesley Snipes

Watch video:

Snipes kills 47

Discuss

Blade: Trinity rights held by New Line Cinema, Shawn Danielle Productions Ltd., and Amen Ra Films.

Friday Night Movie Night: The Last Stand

Last Stand

Tonight’s feature is something a little bit different: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big comeback vehicle The Last Stand.  Kim Jee-woon’s 2013 modern Western is a flawed film in many ways, but it’s also a lot of fun.  I ended up making my own cut of the film and you can view it below:

Hope you all got a chance to see it!

See you next time!

Discuss