Arnold’s First Film

hercules_in_new_york_ver3

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Hercules In New York (1970): Breakdown by Kain424

The Greek half-god grows bored and descends from Olympia to live among humans.  After a series of hilarious (read as completely unfunny) hijinks, he learns what it is to be human and understand his place in the universe.

[THE EXECUTION]

Far in the deep past, when myth and history merged into mystery, when the gods of fable, and the primitive beliefs of men, dwelt on ancient Mount Olympus in antique Greece.  A legendary hero walked, godlike, upon the earth… Sometimes.

These words, read aloud with class and dignity by our unseen narrator, are immediately shattered by the familiar tone and voice of acting newcomer Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his first starring role.

Why Can't I go?

“Why can’t I go?”

And so begins the film, an embarrassing mockery of every Schwarzenegger flick to follow.  Arnold (billed here as Arnold Strong) has stated that he has tried for years to make people forget about this movie.  Well, I’m here to remind you.

Arnold Strong

Schwarzenegger, who had grown up seeing people like Reg Park and Steve Reeves as his heroes, cultivated his fame the same way his predecessors had: bodybuilding.  Eventually, Arnie was able to live and train with Park in South Africa.  It was the former Hercules actor himself who convinced “Mr. Universe” to accept the role upon arrival in the States.  So here, at age 23, is Arnold.  He mumbles through every scene so badly he was dubbed over.  When I first saw this film, in fact, it had some other actor dubbing Herc.  The odd thing is someone actually thought that dubbing the main character would somehow make this a better film.

Ha HA

Hercules In New York is filled with bad jokes, bad dialog, bad action, and bad actors.  It’s truly grueling to sit through, with its only value being a freakish curiosity to show one’s friends.  The whole thing looks like it was shot around a park (the poster for the film excitedly tells us it was “filmed entirely in New York!”), with the actors occasionally glancing at the camera or offscreen, probably looking to make a break for it.  I could have sworn I heard a dog barking in the background during one of the scenes on “Mount Olympus”.  Humorously enough, several of the poor attempts at humor will be used time and time again by Hollywood at the end of the next decade and the decade after that, all in strong man comedies with bigger production values.  Sure, there are some scenes worth mentioning, but all in all it’s not worth watching.

Arnold as petulant Hercules

Young Schwarzenegger is probably at his biggest here.  At first this may seem like a great idea, but it only serves to make matters worse.  Arnold is so big (“How big is he?”) when he stands next to normal people he makes them look like shriveled children.  At no point can you follow a guy that looks this freaky.  At least not as a main character.  It’s no wonder he spent much of the next decade in small parts, as either a gym jockey or a thug.  Also, at such a young age Schwarzy has yet to completely develop the keen wit and personality which would make him famous only a few years later.  Here, he just comes off as your average meathead, a stereotype in full form, big muscles, no thought process, and an overstated arrogance that literally pisses off the gods.

My conclusion:  stay away.  I’m a huge Schwarzenegger fan and even I am put off by this film.  Looking back, I’m amazed the Oak ever decided to try comedy ever again after this disaster.  Hercules is not even the zany fun it clearly aspires to be, and barely the “well, it’s something we can make fun of” kinda fun.  If you want a re-cap of the best/worst moments in the film, simply read on.  It’ll take up less of your life than actually sitting through this atrocity.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Hercules

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Arnold Strong is Hercules, son of Zeus

Hercules is portrayed as a single-minded jock-type, arrogant and completely ignorant.  He has all the self-deserving ways of a spoiled rich kid with a legacy scholarship.  Still, in his backstory he strangled two serpents as a baby and in the film he subdues a 600 lb. bear with his bare hands.  Bad-ass though?  I’m not gonna give it to him.

[THE BODY COUNT: ZERO]

I’ve seen this movie three times now, and I’m pretty sure not a single person dies.  The mobsters at the end might die under all the debris, but I’m pretty sure they just gave up on fighting.  It fades to black, so I guess we’ll never know.

[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]

Arnold vs. Bear

Arnold fights a bear.  And wins.  Yeah, ok, so it’s a guy in a suit.  And it’s really obvious, but whatever.  It’s all this movie’s got.  I’m actually surprised they had the presence of mind to shoot the scene in low light.  Not that it helps.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

I think Arnold Stang’s character may be obsessed with Hercules, but perhaps that is just because he  is a sad leech of a person.  There’s a moment, before a weightlifting competition (go figure, right?), where Stang is rubbing Arnie’s muscles around.  It’s a bit creepy, but it doesn’t even get to first base.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

Zeus treats Juno as an annoying, stuck-up wife (though probably not to the degree that an attempted child murderer deserves), always berating her and telling her he doesn’t want to hear her opinions.  Still, this movie doesn’t bother too much with characterization, so women aren’t even treated like objects.  It’s too shallow for that.

Deity Hoes

…With the exception of Zeus’s groupy bitches.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Though I would never use the word epic to describe much of anything in this film, I would say that, other than the bear fight, the Hercules vs. College Athletes scene probably comes the closest.  Hercules shows up on a college campus and challenges the best athletes at each of their sports.  He stomps them (and ludicrously so) in every category, including discus throwing, javelin tossing, and the running long jump.

The Oak

The one-liner occurs after a cabbie tells Hercules, using the slang terms “bucks” and “dough” to describe currency, that he owes money for the ride he has just taken.

Hercules: “Bucks?  Doe?  What is is all this illogical talk about male and female animals?”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Know your place, listen to your parents, and be careful about picking your scripts.

[THE SIGNS OF SCHWARZENEGGER: 2 outta 5]

[X] Performs A Ridiculous Feat(s) of Strength
[  ] Says, “I’ll be back.”
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[  ] Unnecessarily Violent Opponent Dispatch
[  ] Wields A Big Gun or Sword With One Arm

[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[  ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] 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
[  ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[  ] 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
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[  ] Vigilante Justice

*I’d say a chariot is pretty manly.

Ahoy!

Look ahead!  A Shining Future In Action Flicks Awaits!

Homageday: Originality Has An Expiration Date

Doomsday 01

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Doomsday (2008): Breakdown by Rantbo

Studio Head: So, what’s your idea?
Neil Marshall: Well, I want to make an homage film to 80s sci-fi, set in a post-apocalyptic UK.
Studio Head: Hmm, and who do you see starring in it?
Neil Marshall: OK, my idea on that is—wait do you know who Snake Plisskin is?
Studio Head: Of course.
Neil Marshall: OK. Picture him in your head. —Now imagine that he’s a super hot chick…
Studio Head: Sold.

[THE EXECUTION]

DOOMSDAY chronicles the first (and sadly, most likely last) adventure of Sinclair (that hot chick Kevin Bacon raped in HOLLOW MAN), a child survivor of a deadly virus breakout in Scotland. Now in her early thirties, she works for the Department of Domestic Security (DDS), basically kicking ass and killing criminal scum. When news comes from her handler, Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) that the virus responsible for killing millions is back and in London. She is then asked by Nelson to lead a team beyond the barrier wall dividing Scotland and Britain, where there is reason to believe immune survivors exist amongst the rubble of Glasgow. Sinclair accepts and the game is on.

Doomsday 02

Hmm, a rag-tag team of soldiers and scientists lead by a strong female character, that happens to know the territory of said excursion from a long time ago—whom is known only by her last name, are sent into a danger zone of unknown hostile activity to search for survivors in large armor plated tank-trucks. Sound familiar?

As for the film as a whole, I think they really should have called it:

HOMAGEDAY: Originality has a expiration date.

There really isn’t an original idea in the entire film. It just lifts a bunch of them from other movies, including, but not limited to: 28 DAYS LATER, ALIENS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, MAD MAX 2 and THE WARRIORS. And with 28 DAYS excluded, it never even come close to being as good as any of the films it re-imagines. But the truth is, I fucking love these referential movies. Before the eighties there really wasn’t much of a “pop-culture”, at least not like there is today with the internet and home video. You could say that STAR WARS was the first big casserole of film homages, but I think Tarantino is the most responsible for creating the “genre”, if it has indeed become that. Every film he has done has lifted heavily from the films that he loved growing up and DOOMSDAY is more of the same. Of course with an 80s, rather than a 70s, twist and certainly not as well shot or well written as a Tarantino joint, it’s still a really fun picture even with all of it’s little flaws.

Doomsday 03

My only real big complaint is the god damn editing. Using the slow-mo button, you’re able to see what I think Marshall had intended: a string of re-enacted action scenes featuring the best the 80s had to offer. But, apparently this was not exciting enough, so they took a pair of scissors and went to town on the print. The action is quick-cut to annoying levels and it makes the sequences seem like they are trying to hide a lack of professional stunt talent. This is made worse by the fact that the supporting characters are almost all indistinguishable from one another, are poorly developed and all but two of them die literally 10 minutes (or less) after being introduced. Sure, they add to the body count, but it’s frustrating as you never really care when they get picked off. It would be like if the team from ALIENS were all introduced mid-way through the film and all but Hicks, Ripley and Newt were killed off ten minutes later.

Doomsday 04

In closing, the sum of DOOMSDAY’s many parts never live up to the random sequences it’s paying homage to, but at the same time, it was just so much fun to watch a movie made by people who love the same films I do. So I dug it. And as long as you don’t watch it with hopes of it being better than the films it lifts from, I think you’ll have a good time also.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Doomsday 05

Rhona Mitra is Maj. Sinclair

“What did they call you before Major?” – “Eden.”

Take a bunch of cool aspects from some of the best 80s sci-fi action heroes and put it into a model/actress and bingo—you have Eden Sinclair. And I love her. But, I can’t really put my finger on why, as she doesn’t bring a whole hellova lot to the picture. Eden sports a black tank-top and rocks an eye patch like Snake, but she never really deliverers his likability and I never saw her as the “Anti-Hero” like I did Kurt Russell or Mel Gibson. But I think a large part of this goes to her lack of witty dialogue.

Eden says stuff like “Bollocks” and “There’s something you don’t see every day” but it’s always delivered in a deadpan that I just don’t find humorous. The only thing that Mitra really does to sell the character well is leave us with a self-satisfying smirk in the final shot of the film. I figure it’s that look, the circumstances as to why she gives it and the fact that she is unbelievably boner inducingly hot, that attracts me so much to her character. I guess I’m just a sucker for skinny brunettes in tank-tops. And I feel no shame about it.

[THE BODY COUNT: FUCKED IF I KNOW]

More than D-Day, but less than Judgment Day. I tried to count the kills, but got frustrated with the bad editing. It was hard enough trying to keep track of Eden’s, which I believe was 39, give or take a couple. Pretty good numbers for a chick, especially by this decade’s pussified, child-friendly, PG-13 action movie standards. On top of the massive body count, we are given multiple explosions, car chases and hand-to-hand combat sequences that build and build to a pretty satisfying ending. If this film is good for anything, it would have to be its non-stop hard R violence peppered throughout. It’s a bloody good time.

[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]

Just before Eden is sent onto a medieval gladiatorial battlefield, (don’t ask, you just need to watch) she has a chat with the castle’s ruler, Kane (Malcolm McFuckingDowell). Kane explains his newfound psychotic and religious outlook as a result from losing his family in the outbreak and asks “What have YOU ever lost.” To which Eden replies, “…”. Um, OK?

Eden coldly marches out to her fate and proceeds to kick ass against all odds. After disarming her executioner she says, “I’ll tell you what I’ve lost—I’ve lost my bloody mind” and buries his own pike deep into his mongoloid melon.

Doomsday 06

This is as cool as her character ever gets, (until the very last scene) and it is a pretty big let down. It’s not a terrible line, but the delivery is WAY off. It was no mistake that I quoted it without an exclamation point, that’s just the way she says it. Quietly and so only the gladiator could have heard it. But he isn’t that one who asked her, it was Kane. Why she didn’t shout this as a warcry for Kane to hear, I’ll never understand, as it really would have improved the badassness of the fight. But regardless of the missed opportunity, it’s still the best of the film. It’s fun to watch and not as badly edited as the previous ones. It’s reminiscent of Snake’s fight in EFNY and one of the few times Mitra sells her stone-cold cynical Plisskin-esque demeanor.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Doomsday 07

Aside from the legions of shirtless cyberpunks, I didn’t notice any. You might think that all the bare skinned cannibals would be enough to orbit this movie into the homoverse, but these creatures are far from appealing. Stringy, tattooed, covered in their own feces… This is not attractive and thus renders this film almost completely hetero.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

I’m glad that even in a post-apocalyptic society, the ladies never lost the tradition of shaving their armpits and legs. And that’s a good thing. But sadly, much like their male counterparts, the fine young lady cannibals only seem interested in teasing us with exposed mid-riffs and some occasional sweaty cleavage.

Doomsday 08

There is however an instance near the beginning of the film where Eden shotguns a naked female human trafficker while she’s taking a bath. Which was pretty sweet, but that’s it as far as nudity. Thankfully though, this flick doesn’t skimp on the feminine torture. Despite the fact that the women of the film are tough-as-nails, take-no-shit leaders, it doesn’t stop them from getting tortured and scarred for being defiant in the eyes of their male overlords.

Doomsday 09

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Mad Eden: The Road Dominatrix

Doomsday 10

Sol and the cannibals are waiting with a caravan of cadaver-filled, carnage-creating, death machines as Sinclair makes for the Scotland-England border. The high speed chase that ensues is as fast and furious as it is unbelievable and nonsensical. It powers along, crescendoing to the film’s moneyshot, and even though they blew their wad in the trailer, it still pumped my nads. It caps off the end of the race with a big satisfying bang and aside from the digital fire, was done practically and it really shows.

The one-liner I took the liking to however, did not belong to the heroine, but to Malcolm McDowell. When expressing his feelings toward the suffering public of London and their need for a cure, he exclaims:

Doomsday 11

“They started this fire. They can BURN in it!”

Super badass.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

In the land of the infected, the immune man is king. And if you’re hungry, have a piece of your friend.

[THE CHECKLIST: 19 outta 25]

[  ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] 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)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Doomsday]*
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

*Cheap? Maybe. Funny? Definitely.

Doomsday 12

“It’s Feeding Time At The FUCKIN’ ZOO!”

Doomsday (2008) © Rogue Pictures and Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Meaner Guns

Tournament 01

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

The Tournament (2009): Breakdown by Rantbo

Wanna play a game? “30 contestants—24 hours—1 rule—kill or die. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets—the Tournament has begun.”

[THE EXECUTION]

In the tradition of ASSASSINS, BATTLE ROYALE and THE RUNNING MAN, comes THE TOURNAMENT. Essentially, an unauthorized remake of the 1997 action/thriller MEAN GUNS, the plot is very simply Killers v. Killers for the grand prize of a shit load of money. At least—I think that’s what the winner receives—it’s never really made too clear as the reasons for the various main character’s participation is anything but cash. One wants redemption, one wants revenge, one just wants out, and another just gets a hard-on being a batshit insane mass-murderer.

While MEAN GUNS had the ever awesome Christopher Lambert and the ever entertaining Ice T, THE TOURNAMENT delivers as much, if not more, with a cavalcade of B-Listers: Ving Rhames, Kelly Hu, Robert Carlyle, Ian Somerhalder, that parkour guy from CASINO ROYALE and even (most importantly) up and coming DTV Action Icon, Scott Adkins. Or as I like to call him, The Reason I Watched This Movie. So, lets talk about him for a minute…

Tournament 02

The always (at least so far) impressive Adkins plays a Russian Hitman named Yuri Petrov. A regrettably small role. Thankfully though, Adkins cleared enough time on his schedule to provide a kick-ass fight sequence and successfully make this movie at least 3 times cooler by gracing it with his badassness. More on this later.

As for the rest of the cast, they are certainly a grab-bag of interesting choices. It’s always nice to see the lovely visage (amongst other things) of the fabulous Kelly Hu (THE SCORPION KING), made all the better as she is one of the killers and not just some background T&A. Carlyle performs his role of a catholic priest well, despite the fact that I hated his character. Rhames somehow manages to pull off still being a badass, even when blubbering like a rape victim. And Sebastien Foucan (the parkour guy) even managed to score a couple lines of dialogue to flesh out his impressive acrobatic feats. Which leaves Somerhalder. The one guy who just didn’t do anything for me. His character, Miles Slade, is a raving, unhinged psychopath and I found the role to be too over-the-top for Somerhalder to believably pull off. Had he played a quiet, reserved sociopath, I think I would have bought it AND paid for the extra insurance. But, as is, he just made me cringe and not for the intended reasons. But it wasn’t distracting enough to really hurt my opinion of the film as a whole.

Tournament 03

Overall though, this film is top-fuckin’-notch. The story, however lifted, is still fresh and entertaining. The violence is unapologetic and gratuitous and the seemingly sole theatrical inhibitor, the cast, for the most part delivers all I could have hoped for. It’s films like this one, BLOOD & BONE and COMMAND PERFORMANCE that are quickly turning the tide of great action to the home front venue. And while I do love attending the cinema, my pocket book ain’t complainin’. Definitely worth watching, if not just straight up buying, THE TOURNAMENT is guaranteed Grade-A entertainment and one of the years best action flicks, hands down. Check it out.

[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]

Tournament 04

Kelly Hu is Lai Lai Zhen

“Abandoned at birth, left for dead. At seventeen she was killing for the Triads and has grown up to become the number one hitter in the eastern market for the past 3 years—a snip at 10-To-1.”

Hu gets a shot at her first lead role (at least that I’ve seen), and as it turns out, it’s a pretty good one. Not to say that she isn’t just a pretty face attached to an archetype, that’s exactly what she is, but unlike some, she also manages to pull off playing a bad-ass mama-jamma. On top of going toe-to-toe with Scott Adkins (a feat Michael Jai White barely survived), she also plays the protective “mother” to the helpless Father Joe, fights and defeats no less than three men twice her size and has a dark past of nefarious deeds that can’t be chalked up to vigilantism or anti-heroics by any stretch of the imagination (except for with sick fucks like me that smile when innocent pregnant women are blown away on film). And yet I think even well adjusted viewers will still get behind Lai Lai. Hu plays the role of wanting, needing and perhaps deserving redemption very well. And again, looks fucking good doing it.

Tournament 05

Robert Carlyle is Father Joseph Macavoy

“Wrong day to be a good samaritan.”

Entered into the tourney against his knowledge by a devious French man, the Padre becomes the film’s resident puss. To be fair, the guy is a drunk, not a killer. But on-top of the expected level of self-pity for the situation, Macavoy compounds it with drunken pissing and moaning. Needless to say, a badass this guy is not. But annoying and unnecessary? A-#1! Personifying Lai Lai’s redemption, his character was anything but subtle. If it’s one thing this movie REALLY didn’t need was a ham-fisted, whiney, hypocritical religious figure. But, whatareyagonnado, eh? He’s attached to Zhen’s hip for the whole ride. Just gotta deal, it’s worth it.

And the other heavy hitters…

Tournament 06

Sebastien Foucan is Anton Bogart

“An outstanding athlete,  he lives for the thrill of the hunt. Silent, stealthy, smart—a lethal option at 9-To-1.”

Tournament 07

Scott Adkins is Yuri Petrov, Russian Special Forces

“An incredible all-rounder armed to the teeth. Fists, feet, bullets, bombs—utterly merciless, he has it all.” Odds, 12-To-1.

Tournament 08

Ian Somerhalder is Miles Slade, The Crazy Texan Kid

“An outside bet, but he’s mad enough to rise the ranks. Reckless, ruthless, wild, but guaranteed great entertainment. This is one guy who truly loves his job.” Odds, 25-To-1.

Tournament 09

Ving Rhames is Joshua Harlow

“And, if you thought it couldn’t get any better—we have a dramatic late entrant—a returning champion who I’m sure will add something very personal to the proceedings. Seven years ago Joshua Harlow took the Tournament by storm and retired as a champion. But this year he’s back. For one reason and one reason only—revenge. Joshua’s wife was brutally murdered in their Miami home four months ago,  and the person who killed her is one of this year’s players! Joshua Harlow is our favorite at 2-To-1.”

[THE BODY COUNT: APPROX. 65]

Guns, knives, vehicles, garrote wire, grenades, make-shift flame-throwers, surgically implanted explosives, those bolt-shooting things they use to kill cattle—this film’s got ’em all and boy do they get used. Here’s a tally:

Lai Lai: 4
Bogart: 2
Harlow: 14 (2 more by proxy)
Petrov: 10
Slade: 12 + 1 Dog
Random Deaths: 20ish

The 29 Losers And Who/What Took Them Out

Lai: 3
Bogart: 2
Sniper Chick: 1
Harlow: 6
Slade: 6
Bus Driver: 1
Rando In The Titty-Bar: 1
Montague Of Random Death: 8
And A Internal Bomb: 1

[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]

Lai Lai  vs. The Russian

Tournament 10

In a church no less! This scene is kind of like a slightly more believable, though equally as bad-ass, live-action version of the Tifa v. Loz fight in FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN. With more blood and grenades. So, what’s not to like? Petrov bursts in the window and hits the ground running with a stunning display of acrobatics, whilst also chucking grenades about like a twelve year-old Halo enthusiast. Lai keeps them at bay by shooting them (quite impressively) out of her radius, so the fight moves on to be decided by fisticuffs. Petrov is clearly the more powerful and skilled of the two, but Lai Lai is a scrapper and knows how to use her environment to even the odds. So overall, it’s a fucking good battle.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Tournament 11

Slade: “Look at what I did to that guy! What da fuck was I thinkin’!?”

Slade has some issues.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

“Fuck me sideways, I would LOVE to have a piece of that pie!”

If it’s one thing this movie seems to be in support of, it’s the idea that assassins aren’t these honor bound, “No women, no kids” killers with hearts of gold that Hollywood would have you believe. Nope, they are murdering scum that live off the suffering of others. Man, I’d love to be a hitman… Anyways, with women officially off the “Do Not Kill” list, the film features some doozys in true brutal equality,

Tournament 12

“I just want you to know, after I kill you—I’m gonna FUCK you!”

Also, there’s this little action sequence inside a Nuddie Bar…

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Angel’s House Of Tits And Death

“Jesus Fucking Christ, that isn’t a cluster, that’s a war zone!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bloodbath about to take place.”

This seems to be a trend in recent action flicks—THE BUTCHER, CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE, and I must say, it gets my stamp of approval. Any situation that lends itself to shotguns, tits and shotgunned tits, is my kind of action sequence.  Slade himself wastes 11 people. Including 3 strippers, for no reason other than that he’s off-balance.

Tournament 13

It’s a skinny-dipping bloodbath of gratuitous nudity and violence and I loved every second of it.

As for the one-liner, it goes to my man Adkins…

Tournament 14

“In the name of da fathur, da son aund da holy ghost—good bye.”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Don’t kill innocent pregnant women if there is a chance you might later regret it. That shit can eat at you, or should I say—Hu? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

[THE CHECKLIST: 18 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[  ] 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)
[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)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

Tournament 15

The Tournament (2009) © Entertainment Film Distributors and The Weinstein Company

T2: The Ultimate Sequel

T2Titles

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991): Breakdown by Kain424

Two more terminators are sent back in time, one to assassinate a young John Connor and the other to protect him.

[THE EXECUTION]

There are many who say the Action genre hit its peak with T2, and one can see why.  Alternately one of the most expensive films ever as well as one of the highest grossing of all time, the movie hits all the right marks with its precision in writing, direction and stuntwork.  Jaw-dropping stunts and epic moments abound, giving everyone a favorite scene, one-liner and special effects sequence to be talked about for years to come.  With iconic images in nearly every shot, it was destined to become a classic.  Schwarzenegger would never be more popular, and the entire genre, as well as sequels in general, would never be the same.

High Five

If the first film could be seen to lean more towards horror, T2 has obviously decided to more fully embrace action sensibilities.  The vehicular gun battles have become more stunt-focused and vary from car on car to helicopter on S.W.A.T. van.  The largely synthesized score of the first film has been upgraded to a full on orchestra, featuring a more solid drum base and a choir.  This adds an epic feel to the proceedings, and in a film about time-traveling killer robots, this really helps lend a lot of credence.

T2 Awesome

From The Terminator to Terminator 2, one can see how much James Cameron has grown as director.  There are wider shots, a more mobile camera, and extremely busy set pieces.  Cameron pulls out all the stops for this film, utilizing every trick in the film book: stop motion, miniatures, green-screen effects, CGI, pre-filmed backdrops, and forced perspectives.  Amongst this, he still pushes his actors (in a genre more known for explosions than acting) for great performances.  And, it fucking works.  This is particularly true of Linda Hamilton, returning as Sarah Connor.  Hamilton makes the transition from a ditzy waitress to a warrior woman on the edge of sanity seem not only natural, but almost logical.

Sarah Crazy

Schwarzenegger is given far more dialog and an opportunity to play up the comedic side of his screen personality.  Since the first film, Arnie had become as well known for his one-liners as his gunning down hordes of enemies.  Cameron plays off this image by pulling one of cinema’s greatest bait and switches and turning the T-800 into a good guy.  It was realized after The Terminator‘s success, that many people identified with the killer cyborg character.  Taking this to its logical conclusion, with people wanting to be the Terminator, Cameron asked the question: what would it be like to have your very own terminator?

Future War

The movie deals a lot with responsibility and fate, which I find ironic given that the series’s fate has landed in such irresponsible hands.  Watching the movie over again, I am struck with just how damn good it all is and I find the sequels even more disappointing.  In three minutes, the future war scenes kick the shit out of the entire 3rd and 4th films in the series.  Perhaps it is Cameron’s fault for setting the bar so high, or the hacks that have attempted to reach it.  It’s possible the film simply had a combination of elements (timing, marketing, talent, star power) at such a lucky alignment as to never occur again.

Holy Shit, It's Michael Biehn!

The fan service present in the movie is almost ridiculous, with several smaller characters returning and bits of dialog uttered in the first film being either referenced or becoming major plot points.  It’s basically the ultimate sequel, except, like Evil Dead 2, the second Terminator film is almost more of a remake than a sequel.  It’s been said that Action films are as repetitive as they are derivative, and T2 doesn’t help arguing against that point.  It’s almost the same film but with better effects and more stunts.  I think it’s clever how much it mirrors its originator, replicating shots and moments while maintaining true to its source.  If you aren’t quite sure what I mean, here’s a little montage of some of what I’m talking about:

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T2 set a lot of trends in film, not all of which have been for the best.  With the advent of newer, faster computers, CGI became more commonplace.  While Jurassic Park would later establish CGI more prominently (particularly in PG-13 films), it was here that special effects started stealing the show away from practical stunts, car chases and shoot-outs in Action films.  It was also shown that an Action flick could make incredible box-office returns without a lot of gore and death, leading to more family-friendly Action movies in the future.  So as much as it represents a sort of pinnacle of the Action genre, Terminator 2: Judgment Day also represents the beginning of the end of an era.

Arnie Cool

Still, it remains a damn good film.  One of the best ever made, in fact.  If you haven’t seen it, you’d better stop reading now and go check this baby out.  It’s a time capsule to a time when bullets and babes were kings and queens.  Before Will Smith’s “Wooooo!” was considered Action-worthy and superheroes were all the rage.  Before rock was dead and kids ruled the box office.  When explosions were real and stuntmen had jobs.  When Schwarzenegger was a god, and the Terminator was still cool.

[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Terminator (T-800)

The Model 101 is back, but this time to protect.  Aside from a few scenes in the beginning, Arnie leaves his performance of a watching, recording machine back in the first film.  He almost instantly becomes a more sympathetic being, but also an instant exposition device.  To his credit, Schwarzenegger makes it credible.

CSM-101 Smiles

More emphasis is put on his height, and instead of machine guns, The Austrian Oak mainly uses big, one-shot weapons like a shotgun and a grenade launcher.  The result being that the Terminator feels more like a tank this time around.

Sarah Connor

Linda Hamilton is Sarah Connor

Spending the first half of the film in an institution, it’s clear that much has changed in Sarah.  Introduced doing chin-ups on her overturned bed, she has become a warrior mother.  She’s an ass-kicker with vulnerability.  She wants to stop the impending doom of the future, but lacks the cold killing ability to murder the innocents necessary to do so.

T-1000

Robert Patrick is the T-1000

Patrick plays the role like an alien-possessed man, intense in an undefined way.  His look is pointed, his smile false, and his frame small, but underneath is a machine unlike any other.  In a show-stealing performance, he manages to be scarier than the invincible machine of the first film.  He is seemingly indestructible, very fast, and very lethal.

John Connor

Edward Furlong is John Connor

A clever kid, John is one bad break away from juvenile hall.  He’s rebellious and resourceful, but also a born leader.  A lot of people have claimed to be annoyed by Furlong’s performance, but I think he did a great job displaying the conflict he has between becoming who he must be and running away from it all.  One day, he’ll be quite the fighter. Even at 12 years old, this John Conner is more of a bad-ass leader, and take-no-shit, humanist survivor than any incarnation that followed.

[THE BODY COUNT: 27 Confirmed, 3 Uncomfirmed, 1 Dog]

Casualties

There are 15 real deaths seen in the film, with a few implied.  Jenette Goldstien’s character is assumed dead, as is the pilot of the helicopter, who jumped from a great distance.  Also, the officer on the motorbike is assumed to have been killed by the T-1000, who perpetrates about half of the main kills of the movie.  The other half dying during the future war opening sequence.  Since the T-800 swears not to kill anyone, he only manages to tag the main baddie at the very end of the film.

Need Sunblock

In Sarah’s nightmare, she witnesses an entire city being annihilated in a nuclear strike, but only a park setting with 11 people are seen killed.  As the nightmare ends, Connor herself is blasted into a skeleton, apparently having forgotten her 2,000+ sunblock.  It’s all very nasty.  So aside from that, there are stabbings, gunshot and lasershot victims.  Mostly tame stuff, but occasionally graphic.

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

My favorite kill belongs to the T-1000, disguised as John Connor’s foster mother (played by Jenette Goldstein).  Using his best impression of a nice housewife/mother, the T-1000 is trying to lure Connor back home in hopes of an ambush.  Outside, the dog is barking up a storm and the foster father (played by Xander Berkeley) is bitching away and drinking straight from the milk carton.  Goldstein calmly switches the phone to a different hand and reaches offscreen, creating a nice ~SCHINK!~ sound effect.  Only after the phone is hung up do we see the damage, and it’s pretty ugly.  The T-1000’s arm has turned into a blade and not only has it pierced the annoying, good-for-nothing foster parent, but it’s also pierced the milk carton he was drinking from!

Foster Parents Are Dead

As horrifying as it is, there’s just something so damn hilarious about the way Goldstein plays it.  It’s like she’s just kinda annoyed so ~SPLAT!~ she kills him.  Like swatting a fly and then going back to dinner.  It’s great!  Add to that the way Burke sort of hangs there a second, even after the blade is removed, before finally collapsing to the kitchen floor, and you’ve got one of my favorite on-screen deaths of all time.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

As it’s a Terminator film, there is the obligatory nude intro, and this time a naked Arnie walks into a biker bar.  As gay as this premise is, it turns into a brutal fight sequence.  But just when you think it’s gonna go all straight and narrow, Schwarzy sticks a knife into a guy’s back, pinning him to a pool table.

Like any man would, upon first penetration with Arnie, the guy starts screaming: “Oh got, it hurts!  Pull it out!  Pull it out!”

Arnold then spends the rest of the movie dressed completely in leather.  So yeah, there’s some gay here.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

Model Citizen

Sarah Connor, despite being treated as a nutjob throughout the beginning of the film, is shown to be intelligent, resourceful, and skilled.  In fact, rather than seen in a bad light, Sarah is one of the strongest female characters to grace the silver screen.  Works out, protective of her son (who she has taught all manner of life skills), helps save the world.  That’s a role model.

There is one sick orderly who gets his jollies molesting the female patients of Sarah’s ward. He gets her good with a slimy tongue drag across her face while she plays catatonic in her cell. However, she returns the endearing facial contact—with the business end of a broken mop handle. ~CRACK, GUSH, COLLAPSE!~ Falling to the ground like the wet bag-of-shit he is, revenge was served.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

The whole fucking movie is epic!  It may sound like I’m copping out here, but it’s true!  From the opening to the end credits, the damn thing is filled with breathtaking awesomeness, death defying stunts, claustrophobic shootouts, and killer effects.  Here’s another quick montage:

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And that’s only 20 seconds of a film that’s nearly two and a half hours long!  This flick does not let up.  It’s a balls-out good time, so strap in.  This one’s a fucking winner.  But you know what my favorite moment is?  It’s following the one-on-one battle between the two killer cyborgs, with Schwarzenegger presumed dead.

Epic

The T-800 uses his auxiliary power supply to restart, and as the music pumps up to goddamn heroic heights, he yanks out the metal spike with which he has been impaled, and pulls himself up, back to life and ready for one more round!  It’s such a simple scene, surrounded by loud and awesome ones, and yet I love it more than any other in the film.

Now the one-liner is a bit easier to narrow down.  Taking John Connor’s words to his cyborg heart, and with the T-1000 frozen in his sights, the T-800 unleashes this soon-to-be-a-common-catchphrase:

Hasta La Vista, Baby

“Hasta la vista, baby.”

And then he blasts the evil cyborg assassin into pieces, showing us all why Schwarzenegger is the King of the One-Liner.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.  And if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.

T2 Epic

[THE SIGNS OF SCHWARZENEGGER: 5 outta 5]

[X] Performs A Ridiculous Feat(s) of Strength
[X] Says, “I’ll be back.”
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[X] Unnecessarily Violent Opponent Dispatch
[X] Wields A Big Gun or Sword With One Arm

[THE CHECKLIST: 21 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] 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)
[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 [Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

Thumbs WAY Up

How To Make A Grown Man Cry 101

HA-ZUUU-MAY!!!: The Movie

Azumi

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Azumi (2003): Breakdown by Rantbo

Gorgeous teenage girl slaughters half of Japan in protest of violence and bloodshed.

[THE EXECUTION]

Back in 2002, I got really into ordering awesome/fucked-up looking Asian cultish cinema via shady internet sites. Amongst my early finds was Ryûhei Kitamura’s now semi-renowned Japanese samurai zombie shoot ‘em up, VERSUS. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. His film ALIVE came next and then ARAGAMI. A huge sucker for ass-kicking babes, his next film quickly became my favorite as it features one of the all time greatest: AZUMI.

Azumi 02

Orphaned as a little girl by the ravages of war, Azumi is taken in by a wondering samurai and along with her 9 newfound “brothers” is raised and taught in the arts of the shinobi assassin. Trained for the sole purpose of finding and killing Japan’s warlords and thus, bringing peace to the country,  the story follows the journey of Azumi and her kin as they seek out and destroy two of the land’s three warmongers, their assassins and—their armies.

Azumi 03

Let me begin by saying the film looks fantastic. The locations, setting, set-design, costumes, weaponry, Aya Ueto’s ass—it’s all fit to impress and succeeds in doing so. And the cinematography: splendid, albeit a tad overly stylistic. But as I watched this for the first time back in 2003, BEFORE viewing the sense-overloading MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, it was a real exotic feast for the eyes. At the time, I just hadn’t seen things like this:

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It was fucking cool, man. Still is, in fact. Add to this scene the knowledge that Azumi just spent the last 12 or so minutes cutting and exploding her way through an entire outpost of sword-fodder stuntmen, and you have yourself one kick ass reason to watch the show. Personally, to say I was impressed and entertained would be an understatement. Though, the film is not without it’s faults.

The main issue I have is with the overuse of unbelievable and silly looking wire work and it’s accompanying green-screen. Unlike when it was used in art-house martial arts films like HERO or CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, the wires add a level of camp to AZUMI that I just didn’t like. The premise of a team of teenage assassins fighting warlords and ninjas was enough. I would have much preferred they took it uber seriously and kept these killers abilities within the Earth’s gravitational standards.  Making matters worse, it shows up a lot whenever Saru the Monkey-Face Man is around, and he was already an annoying son-of-a-bitch because, as his name would suggest, he looks, acts and sounds like a monkey.

Azumi 04

“Eek-eek, Oh-oo Wa-wa!” and all that nonsense would have been better left to a more Steven Chow style comedy-driven martial arts film. Not to shit on Chow’s parade, I like his work also, but I thought AZUMI was better than that. Or, maybe I’m jaded and just wished it was.

But, gripes aside, AZUMI is a balls-to-the-wall, hack-&-slash extravaganza. It’s fast, dark and sexy. A proverbial steel sword of entertainment, dripping with fan service, shoved right up your fun-hole. If you’re into samurai flicks, 60s westerns, martial arts, revenge tales, hot assertive ass-kicking women, or better yet all of the above—AZUMI is for you. And it only took three years after being made to get Stateside. Which means you won’t even have to order an expensive region 0 copy, like I did back in the day. So what are you waiting for!? Check it out.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Azumi 05

Aya Ueto is Azumi

One of the sexiest characters ever created. And she’s pretty bad-ass too. For verification, one only has to look at the fact that when asked by her master to kill the person closest to her (a fellow student she clearly loved and had known since they were children), in order to sever ties with her emotions and become a killer through-and-through to her soul—she does. And that’s just the beginning of her tale. Azumi goes on to slaughter dozens upon dozens in her fight to end war and suffering. One may see this as hypocritical, but one may also be an effeminate nancy-boy for not first seeing how inherently bad-fucking-ass this character is for being a cold-blooded tornado of death and doe-eyes. Oh, and her music theme is bitchin as well.

[THE BODY COUNT: 300+]

Azumi 06

This one’s kinda hard to sort out. But I have some numbers, that I’m sure at least come close.

– Azumi takes out 99. By herself. Check it out, HERE.
– Her band of brothers manage to score another 110+. That’s over 200 for team assassin.
–  Two separate groups of bandits collect around another 50, between a village raid and a turncoat fight against one of the warlord’s men in the finale.
– Mogami, a released psychopathic sword-for-hire goes predictably apeshit and wacks 20+ of his own men and takes out one of Azumi’s compadres.
– A bloodthirsty trio of mercenaries, known as the Sajiki Brothers rack up 17.
– Then for added spice, 4 more randos, including Azumi’s mother and two more of Azumi’s fellow fighters.
And this tally doesn’t even include the ocean of bodies from a flashback of Azumi’s master’s:

Azumi 07

No way am I going to try and sort that shit out.

[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]

Azumi vs. Mogami

Azumi 08

For all intents and purposes, this is the final fight of the film. The second warlord resorts to some dirty tactics to stay alive, but none so nefarious and ill-advised as releasing this nutter from a dank, soiled prison. Obsessed with fighting and killing both skilled opponents and novices, Mogami screams with orgasmic glee when he sees Azumi in action and goes off on a killing spree of his own men out of sheer excitement for the battle to follow. Finally, when all is (literally) dead quiet, these two titans of extermination clash steel and it’s one hellova show.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Bijomaru Mogami

Azumi 09

Translated, his name means Bitchmask Make-up. I dare you to prove otherwise. On top of the effeminate face-paint, Mogami is almost never seen without a single stemmed rose in his hand, which contrasts quite fashionably with his fully white kimono and silky long black hair. He’s like Sephiroth’s gayer twin brother. Which, if you’ve seen Sephiroth, is saying something.

[Editor’s Note: that hand so gingerly cupping Make-Up’s balls, actually belongs to none other than Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima!]

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

Along their journey, Azumi and her kin meet an entourage of street performers and one of her brothers, Hyuga, takes a liking to one of the female entertainers. He never gets to act on his puppy-dog lust though, as the Sajiki Brothers beat him to the punch, kidnapping the young girl and her three female friends into the woods to make with some surprise sex. Azumi and crew show up in time to stop the penetration… or rather, orifice penetration, as three of the girls are killed by sword, axe and blade.

Azumi 10

The one girl they manage to save, Hyuga’s sweetie, having lost her whole family, leaves with Azumi and Hyuga. The trio make plans to abandon their professions and go back to the girl’s home village. BUT, along the way, Hyuga is killed before his new love’s eyes and then the next day the girls are attacked AGAIN, by a completely different group of bandits and get roughed up and slobbered on with pre-rape juices before Azumi is able to save the day.  How dare any of us complain about a shitty weekend.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

EP-M: Azumi Rambles Into Town…

Mogami: Do you really think someone will come and rescue a dying old man like you—huh, old man?
Azumi’s Master: She’s already here. [Shit explodes…]

Azumi 11

…and she eviscerates everything.  Azumi almost single-handedly wipes out the entire town’s population with nothing but her sword and cunning—with an assist by some dynamite. But only an assist. For the most part, it’s all Azumi and her skills with the blade. Reminiscent of Yojimbo or Zatoichi, the twist of having a little girl thrash and slash the hurricane of destruction and chaos is inspired and really got my blood pumping.

THE LINE:

The Eldest Sajiki Brother: We kill whoever we like…
Azumi: Oh, I see…

Azumi 12

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

“Learn from Azumi. The strength comes not from muscle, but from speed!”
“An assassin is unable to choose whom to kill. Depending on your mission, sometimes you must kill a child, or a great and respected person. The way of the assassin is to have a mind of steel and to become inhuman.”

[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[  ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[  ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)*
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[  ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[  ] 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)
[  ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[  ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Azumi 2: Death Or Love]
[  ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

*Azumi uses a rock to kill some fish…

Azumi 13

Azumi (2003) © Vitagraph Films, Urban Vision Entertainment and AsiaVision

This Movie Doesn’t Just Roll, It Rocks.

Rock

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

The Rock (1996): Breakdown by Rutledal

Die Hard on Alcatraz. A chemical super-freak and a former spy have to prevent a group of mercenaries from blowing up San Francisco.

[THE EXECUTION]

You might have noticed that Michael Bay does not hold a high star at the AOBG office*. This is because he dedicates most his time tarnishing the Action genre with his successful CGI heavy shitfest action movies, and their PG-13 ratings and bullshit heroes. (See: Transformers) But as the saying goes even a broken watch shows the correct time every twelfth hour. Well, Bay is more like a digital watch so let’s make it every twenty-fourth hour. So far he has only succeeded once. While cases could be made for the Bad Boys movies, I’m sure as hell not going be the one to make them because I didn’t ask for a more racist update of Lethal Weapon and neither did I enjoy it. But enough about them, the reason I’m writing this is Bay’s sole masterpiece and one of my all time favorite action movies: The Rock.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The movie starts of as an army General with a hero status most people in the military can only dream of decides that the government owes him (well, him and the families of MIA Gulf War troops) some money, so he does the most logical thing and sues them. Just kidding! He steals a load of nerve gas rockets and decides to hold the entire city of San Francisco hostage until they pay him. The government’s solution? Send in a former spy whose been locked in a prison for the last thirty years and an FBI science geek who has never seen field action. Essentially it’s a crossover between Escape from New York and Die Hard, if they were buddy cop movies, except neither of the characters are cops and none of them are black.   Oh, and there’s also a Navy SEAL team accompanying the duo.

Michael fucking Biehn

The movie has a lot going for it, there is plenty of bad-ass dialogue, the effects aren’t overused like Bay usually does, and it’s really quite violent. And just check out this cast: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, William Forsythe, David Morse, John Spencer, Tony Todd. The list just goes on, all crammed into one movie. It’s a god damn orgy of badasses. Strange, I’d say, considering the casting Bay does nowadays (See: Shia LaBeouf). It also features one of the greatest car chases in action movie history and sports one heck of a great score. Few hardcore action movies can show off a score as good as The Rock‘s. It’s simply great. How Zimmer failed to receive an Oscar nomination is beyond me. Fuck you, other scores that came out that year and that most certainly were crappier!

Michael Blosion!

It’s not completely without its flaws however. Like most Bay movies, it’s heavy on explosions (far more than it has to be, of course), around half the movie or so is shot in slow-motion, and not surprisingly chock full of racist stereotypes for comic relief. Still, the good parts more than make up for it, with the two leads working great together, and the humor doesn’t depend entirely on black stereotypes. With is mixture of the styles of 80’s and 90’s action The Rock almost qualifies as a timeless action classic. No matter what you classify it as, it’s a must in every self respecting action fan’s collection.

* There exists no such thing

[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]

Connery Stalks!

Sean Connery is John Patrick Mason

“With scissors, this man could kill you.”

Mason is the only man ever to escape Alcatraz alive. He is also a former top British agent. Seriously, I’m not gonna bullshit you here, Mason is James Bond. He’s just older. So yeah. He’s bad-ass, very bad-ass. There is nothing he can’t do, except cut someone’s balls off with a trimmer.

Make Fun Of My Hair Again!  I Dare You!

Nicolas Cage is Dr. Stanley Goodspeed, but of course he is.

He is a biochemist, or a science nerd. He drives a Volvo (a beige one) and has never seen field action. He is pretty whiny at the start of the film and actually vomits at the thought of having to go out in the field on a real mission. However, when finally in the thick of it, he rises to the occasion and quickly adapts to ways of bad-ass. I mean, anyone who uses a freaking missile to impale someone is a certified bad-ass motherfucker in my book. Also, he stabs himself in the fucking heart with a huge needle, do you have the balls to stab yourself in the heart? How about with a huge needle?  Didn’t think so.

[THE BODY COUNT: 24]

Is That Normal?

Connery finishes off 7 bad guys, while Cage gets a little less with 3. The others are mainly Michael Biehn and his marines getting gunned down in an overly dramatic shootout, and various mercenaries that get killed during an internal argument.  Lots of violent deaths here.

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

There are many great deaths in this movie: there is the guy who gets launched with the missile, the guy that is burnt alive, etc. But there is no contest when it comes to the best death. It’s Nic Cage forcing a ball of nerve gas into Captain Frye’s mouth before punching him, thereby crushing the ball. Watching that creepy-ass motherfucker Frye (get it?) with spasms and melting skin (just watch the movie) is at once both disturbing and extremely satisfying.

Pepsi And Pop Rocks.  You Just Had To Find Out.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

I Feel So Naked Without My Guitar...

Nic Cage has a nude scene, but you don’t see ass or junk, and Sean Connery talks about having to avoid a prison gang rape (seeming to grow nostalgic over a former era when the attacks were much more frequent). One of the mercenary guys refers to Cage as “Sweetie”, but nothing ever happens between them. There is a moment when Connery saves Cage from drowning and the score is just a tad too romantic. Oh, there is also the whole discussion about the Elton John song “Rocket Man”.

What?  Is He Gay Or Something?

And then there was this guy.  Oh yeah.  He’s a hairdresser.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

I think there are three female characters in the entire movie: Nic Cage’s girlfriend, Sean Connery’s daughter and fat black tourist lady. Nic Cage’s girlfriend gets treated pretty much like crap. No one cares to inform her that her boyfriend is in a life threatening situation. At one point Cage even walks out on her while they are having sex because his work has more priority. Connery’s daughter barely gets any screen time so Bay doesn’t take the time to harass or stereotype her.

Wow

But then there is the black tourist lady and you better believe Bay manages to turn her into a stereotype. She is loud, noisy, constantly talking about how she has a gun at home and uses “fuck” as every second word. She may only be in the movie for 2 minutes, but I’ll be damned if Bay doesn’t manage to squeeze every black stereotype in to her.  So kudos, I guess.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.

[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[  ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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*
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery [Electric Claw Launcher]
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation [Helicopter, Hummer]
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[  ] Manly Embrace(s)
[  ] 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)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse [Drinking]
[  ] Tis The Season
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel/Remake [Qayamat: City Under Threat]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)

[  ] Vigilante Justice

*I’m counting all those areas with the dark pipes and stuff beneath the prison

WAAAAAAAAAH!

“Wait, I need you to do all the action stuff.”

Action Of The Tiger

Action of the Tiger

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Action Of The Tiger (1957): Breakdown by Kain424

Mercenary attempts to smuggle ex-Communists and children to Greece from Communist Albania.

[THE EXECUTION]

Before he brought James Bond to the big screen with 1962’s Dr. No, Terence Young was a British action and thriller director. Young’s films often featured world-weary heroes reluctantly forced into action by women and circumstance.  Action Of The Tiger is one such film.

Old School Action... of the Tiger

Taking place in the era of which it was filmed, there are a lot of anti-Communist propaganda elements.  The citizens of Albania are living in destitution among ruins, too proud to leave but more than willing to send their children off to capitalist societies.  Our hero, played by Van Johnson, is no less a contradiction.  Basically a smuggler or mercenary (his occupation is only described as “will do anything for money”), he seems to gravitate toward good deeds.  Still, he doesn’t seem all that sympathetic when a woman is struggling for her virtue against his brutish first mate aboard his boat.  This topsy-turvy morality continues throughout the film, building an air of uncertainty almost up to the end.

The film itself is a small epic, bringing us to exotic locales and introducing us to various different cultures.  Young almost glorifies the lands depicted, but then instills us with a sense of dread and danger, having devious villains and hordes of bandits attack.  Allies can’t be trusted and objectives are seen to be as elusive as they are difficult.  Every step of our characters’ journey is plagued with setbacks and mounting obstacles.  They try to rescue the female main character’s brother, and find him to be blind; as they attempt to escape, they gain more and more child refugees in their group; bandits who help them turn out to be possibly more dangerous as allies.  One can never be sure if our protagonists will make it and, if anyone does, who will be left alive by the film’s end.

Surprise sex

The action, for its time, is handled pretty well.  Violence is emphasized, but not in a gory fashion.  There are a lot of people shot and blown up here, but some of it is meant to be pure entertainment.  There’s even a bar fight at one point, and this is played for laughs.  007 fans will be interested to note that along with the director of future Bond films, the suave British agent himself appears in the film.  Sean Connery plays Mike, Carson’s right-hand man.  He’s drunken, unshaven and decidedly non-sophisticated.  Still, I find him much more interesting when onscreen than our leading man.

The plot’s been replicated a few times since, but the movie still manages to hold up.  Van Johnson’s performance stands out as a bit of a weak point in an otherwise fairly entertaining feature.  It’s got plenty of cool plot twists, and it’s 90-minute running time allows for a less than boring viewing.  On top of that, Connery’s presence (though in a very limited capacity) makes it a bit of a nice catch for fans.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Van Johnson

Van Johnson is Carson

The guy apparently has a pretty bad-ass (or whorish, depending on how you read into it) reputation for doing anything for money.  It’s implied that he’s gone and done some very dangerous stuff in the past.  There’s a funny moment when the heroine places some money on the table he’s playing poker at.  It’s to show him she’s serious, but he just uses it in the game he’s playing and promptly loses it.

As far as acting goes, I can’t say I’m a fan.  He seems to be an old school actor, tough because the script says so and never having to prove it.  He barely changes his facial expression and in one creepy moment, seems to laugh without smiling.  Still, he climbs up a mountain ledge to drop grenades on an outpost of villains.  So that’s pretty bad-ass.

[THE BODY COUNT: 29]

There are several battle scenes in the film, and my count here seems fairly close.  Van Johnson manages to kill four or five and Carol Martine even gets one in.  While most of the deaths are faceless bad or good guys during the battle scenes (including the one Connery kills), there is still one main character that falls prey to the great many bullets whizzing about onscreen.

All in all, it’s a fairly bloodless film, but I suppose the quantity makes up for the lack of quality.

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

Trifon.  I can’t think of a single character in recent memory that has turned me against him so fast.  Upon meeting the bandit captain, I immediately took a liking to the guy.  Three or four rape attempts, a couple moments of cowardice, and a blackmailing subplot later, and I was more than willing to see the fucker go.

Trifon is Gone

So when our heroine, Martine Carol, kinda talks Trifon into rushing the machine gun-equipped enemy on horseback, I almost gave the film a standing ovation.  Almost.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

All the main characters seem to hunger for female touch.  In particular, they want Martine Carol.  So there’s nothing here.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

Twice, our main female character is nearly raped.  Both times by supposedly good guys, too.  Connery attempts to rape her in Carson’s boat, with Carson looking and not really giving a shit.  Afterwords, the Scotsman merely apologizes and the issue is never again mentioned between them.

End the Conversation

Still, there is an old “Countess” whom all characters treat with respect until the bad guys arrive.  She stubbornly holds her ground when questioned, but then gets a gloved backhand for her pride.  Conversation ended.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Without giving too much of the plot away, I liked the entire climactic escape sequence.  Terence Young crafts a very tense series of events, all leading to one moment.  Everyone’s nearly gotten away, been captured, and are now nearly away again.  Everything must go “without a hitch”, but a shadow of an Eve’s dropper shows us that someone has overheard their plan.  Will they make it?

It's Connery!

The one-liner, I got from the exchange between Carson (Van Johnson) and Tracie (Martine Carol):

Carson: “My usual fee is five thousand, but –“

Tracie: “I don’t expect favors from a cut-price Galahad!”

Carson: “You didn’t let me finish. I was going to say for you, TEN thousand.”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

Rape is hilarious if you’re drunk.  And no matter how mercenary you may be, a hot woman and children in need are all it takes to get you to change your ways.

[THE CHECKLIST: 14 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] 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
[  ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[  ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] 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
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[  ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

Happy Sean

Heeeeere’s Seanny!

Action Of The Tiger (1957) © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Caucasian Ninja Magic!

American Ninja 01

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

American Ninja (1985): Breakdown by Rantbo

A Private in the military proves he is an army of one, as he takes on an island of arms-dealing ninjas—with his own brand of WHITE NINJA MAGIC!

[THE EXECUTION]

“Have you ever heard of ninjitsu, sir? The secret art of assassination. Well, according to witnesses testimony and evidence,  this massacre was the work of ninjas.”

A mysterious past, a deadly art, a head shaped like a dreidel. Michael Dudikoff is—AMERICAN NINJA.

American_Ninja_02

JOE ARMSTRONG—MASTER OF DISGUISE

The principle couldn’t be more simple, or more B-Action. A Caucasian jarhead, raised in the jungle is brought back to the States, breaks the law, is shipped back out to an island military post where he uses the skills taught to him by a Japanese WWII hermit, to take down a corrupt military base and the arms-dealing ninjas they employ.  How’s that for a fuckin’ plot!?

The flick begins with what feels like the first 10 or so minutes of exposition missing and it isn’t long after the iron-walled introduction of Joe, the American Ninja, that his military convoy is attacked by a—militia of Hispanics…? Kay. The ninjas eventually show up, but it’s pretty clear that producers Golan-Globus took a “kitchen-sink” approach to this entry in their glorious film stable. One assumes it was done in effort to make up for the triple-digit budget, but rather than sight this as a negative, I say it’s quite charming and impressive. I’ve seen 150 million dollar blockbusters that aren’t half as entertaining. A bunch of them. Sometimes Most times, less is more and a good portion of AMERICAN NINJAS’ memorable moments and good times are due to the unintentional laughs and cheesy, though creative, stunts and battle sequences.

Which brings me to the fight choreography. Dudikoff is athletic and cut, no doubt about that…

American_Ninja_03

But a master of ninjitsu? I think not. In fact, Tadashi Yamashita (GYMKATA) withstanding, I don’t think anyone in this flick was trained in such arts. And if they were, it wasn’t to a degree in which this film would like to suggest. For instance, before performing so much as a jump, the “ninjas” expel loud grunts and battlecries, almost without exception. And when I think of ninjas, I think of three things: #1) Black body suits. #2) Stealth. #3) Proficient killings. And these clowns succeed in costume only. The kills that they do manage to pull off are due to their overwhelming numbers, dogpiling and shock value, as I’m sure their victims are more than slightly off balance as their brains are likely trying to process the fact that a fucking ninja is attacking them. Which appears to be the sole purpose for wearing the ninja outfits, as they seem to only fight during peek daylight hours, thus rendering the stealth black coloring of their apparel fucking useless.  So their success comes from the opposite intentions which, luckily for them, creates an element of surprise despite lacking any and all subtlety. But, what are you gonna do? It’s more expensive to film at night.

American_Ninja_04

Once again though, this all works in favor of the movie. As horrible as AMERICAN NINJA is, the fact remains that it is also incredibly watchable and fun to boot. Produced by Cannon, staring the Dud and with a story revolving around gun-running tropical island ninjas, the film screams 80s like a gacked up Brian Johnson in leg warmers. Plus, the theme song is catchy. So, do I recommend it? Hell yeah. This film is a blast of ninja magic—Cracka, VANISH! ~POOF!~

[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]

American_Ninja_05

Michael Dudikoff is Private Joe Armstrong

Date Of Birth: UNKNOWN
Parents: UNKNOWN
Next Of Kin: UNKNOWN
“A construction crew found him on an island in the pacific six years ago, knocked unconscious by an explosion where they were blasting a road through the jungle. Brought back to the United States with total amnesia—in and outta foster homes, HELL, he’s got more last names than I can count! — Here it is, I knew it—age sixteen, in reform school for almost killing a man. Six months ago, he got in trouble again. Judge gave him a choice, enlist or go to jail.”

“He possesses GWAIT skiwls.”

Dudikoff re-defines Stoic-BadAss as Joe The Ninja. Joe can drive, he can fight and he can kill. Practically impervious to all weaponry and assassination tactics, his only weakness?: emoting. Because emotions cause him pain and that he can’t have. So the Dud spends his entire role with an eerie “serial-killer-esque” determined stare on his mug and the guy couldn’t be more creepy than if he were wearing a clown suit and sporting a boner… OK, he’d be a little creepier—but not by much.

Joe kicks all sorts of ass. From a convoy ambush of ninjas, to a warehouse full of ninjas and even a hacienda that’s guarded by an army of ninjas, none of them ever get the better of Ol’ Joe . He even fights a guy whilst hanging off the bottom of an in-flight helicopter! Or, at least his stunt-double did—still, pretty impressive.

American_Ninja_06

Steve James is Corporal Curtis Jackson

“You know, every place you go, there’s always SOMEONE who thinks he’s a badass! Then there are those few who are.”

Aside from apparently possessing a forensics degree in eastern assassination methods, this mother fucker is ripped like a bag of chips.  Every time we see Jackson, he seems to have lost an article of clothing, and the more his lack of inhibitions show, the larger the weapon he ends up holding and subsequently, the more deadly he becomes. Eventually leading to him brandishing a fuckin’ rocket launcher. And he still has on pants and a headband! Could you imagine the destruction Jackson could wrought had he gone the full monty!?  I don’t think there is a film stock out there possible of capturing such awesomeness.

[THE BODY COUNT: AROUND 115]

An ass load! This flick is the Normandy of Ninja movies. Joe himself wastes an impressive 28 and his buddy Curtis, an even more impressive (considering his screen time) 16. Watch it go down, HERE. The rest are all ninjas and soldiers killed in the wake by each other as Joe pursues the evil kidnapping gun-runners. Methods include, shooting, stabbings and explosions, all very average stuff, but the sheer unexpected volume really makes up for the bulk and lackluster deaths.

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Holy shit! Our military equipment is worse off than they talk about! Who knew that army jeeps can, and DO, explode when the bumper is hit at 10mph!? That shit is scary / awesome.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Jackson: “Yeah, YEAH, YEAH! You’re tingling, YOU’RE tingling—I knew I’ve touched something again! HAHAHA—Yeah!”

Ninjas are one of the few “manly” professions that aren’t inherently homosexual. Lucky for us, this film takes place on a military base and soldiers are gayer than church.

American_Ninja_07

Picture One: Bad Touch! BAD TOUCH!

Picture Two: While it is insinuated that Joe sleeps with the general’s daughter, Patricia, his line of duty is still God—Country—Jackson. Joe and his chocolate bear are one cute couple. Quick to overheat and get in each other’s face, they are just as fast to reconcile with a sweaty post-sparring embrace and an affectionate hair mussing.

Picture Three: As for that ninja with the mallets. Not sure why he is dressed, or rather un-dressed, in such a fashion, but why not!?  More fun like that anyways. Bang a gong!

And then Jackson makes quite a statement appearing during the final battle dressed as Rambo, but with fingerless gloves and an unexplained ripped shirt, to do battle with another barely clothed beefcake. And Jackson’s special game-changing move? He eagle-claw grabs the guys scrote…

American_Ninja_08

“How do you like that, Little Nuts!?”

And it sounds like someone twisting a handful of wet celery. Whoo Gaa!

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

American_Ninja_09

Played by that one girl from WEIRD SCIENCE and FRIDAY THE 13th 4, Patricia is the epitome of the term ‘cuntbucket’. Filled to the brim with pure feminine fail. Snooty, self-centered, dainty, bitchy, loud, obnoxious, dumb and unable to drive a car 10 yards without crashing it. An affront to women everywhere, from any and every decade. So, naturally, I thought she was pretty funny.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

EP-M: Decisions, Decisions…

I’m really torn here… There are at LEAST 3 epic moments in this one. So, I ask you, what’s more awesome?:

1. Joe catching an arrow—then breaking the SHIT out of it.

American_Ninja_10

2. Joe’s master praying himself invisible?

American_Ninja_11

3. Or Black Star Ninja using a hidden laser wrist -cannon to kill a flower pot, instead of Joe?

American_Ninja_12

I can’t pick just one.

THE LINE:

Shinyuki: “Beware the Black Star Ninja, he has taken the dark path and has betrayed The Code.”
Joe: “Then—he must die.”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

No matter how long your race has honed and perfected it’s martial arts craft, when taught to Americans, we will always kick your ass.

[THE CHECKLIST: 21 outta 25]

[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
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] 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
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

American_Ninja_13

Shh, SHH! It’s going to be OK, I—won’t—hurt—you… SHHhhh

American Ninja (1985) © Cannon Film Distributors and MGM/UA Home Entertainment

The Wrecked Movie

The Wrecking Crew

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

The Wrecking Crew (1969): Breakdown by Kain424

Intelligence and Counter Espionage (ICE) agent Matt Helm is dispatched to find and retrieve a billion dollars in stolen gold.

[THE EXECUTION]

Because of the popularity of James Bond, knock-off spy films began appearing all over the place in the 1960s.  The Wrecking Crew is one of them.  This is the fourth and final film in the Matt Helm franchise, one of the higher budgeted knock-off series.  And when you look at what it’s got going for it, you won’t be blamed for having high expectations.

Bruce Lee Wrecking Crew

There is a helicopter chase, spy gadgets, car chases, scantily-clad women everywhere you look, a booby-trapped mansion, fight choreography by Bruce Lee AND Chuck Norris.  Hell, Chuck Norris is in the film!  There are shoot-outs, heist plots, double-agents, and a final fight aboard a speeding train.  This film has it all.

Martin Flinches

And it completely fumbles the ball.  The film spends more time emphasizing our hero’s pursuit of women than his pursuit of the gold, giving the entire duration a feeling of wasted time.  And despite its use of car chases and helicopters, the bluescreen looks terrible, and the car chase is ruined with the movie’s horrible musical score.  In fact, the elevator music-style soundtrack only adds to the feeling that we’re waiting for the real adventure to begin.  The fights, despite the talent behind them, are terribly done.  They’re plodding, clearly fake mistakes of celluloid junk.  Everyone is moving at half-speed, as if they’re doing a dress rehearsal.

The film’s emphasis on women (usually a good thing in spy movies), gets as bothersome as it is distracting.  One goofy scene after another follow the last, with every woman dressed in a more ridiculous manner.  At first, I was laughing about the different shots of women’s asses, but it got old after about the fifth or sixth time.  In an effort to keep from turning the damn thing off, I tried to tell myself the movie is just a product of its time.  But then I remembered how many quality Bond flicks were released in the preceding years and almost came completely unglued.  The Wrecking Crew is simply an unfocused mess of great ideas and things the producers thought people wanted from the genre.

Women in The Wrecking Crew

Someone also forgot to tell the writers how cameras work.  There are many scenes where characters are looking at screens where there is pretty much no way a camera could be without the people being watched noticing.  It gets embarrassing the more they use it.  Also noticeable are the pads when people jump to the ground.  Pretty much the only thing not ruined is the gunplay, but the impact of that is even lessened by the lack of squibs or equivalent effects.

A lot of the film’s problems come from its casting.  From a shrill, nerdy, and offensive Sharon Tate (ok, she wasn’t too bad) to a too-old-for-the-part Dean Martin, we have unlikable characters who we can neither relate to or get involved with unless we are the biggest of fans.  Martin, who has had excellent turns in films like Rio Bravo, is about a decade or two removed from where he should be.  Perhaps a slightly younger, ex-prizefighter, Dean Martin would have spent less time singing and schmoozing and more time putting foot to ass.

Young Chuck Norris

Only recently, with films like Transformers, have I seen such wasted potential.  If this one pops up on your radar, try and avoid it.  The only valid reasons one would watch The Wrecking Crew is if they are an absolute completist or perhaps are that curious about what a young Chuck Norris looked like.   Check out that image above.  Now you don’t need to sit through this torture of a film.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Dean Martin

Dean Martin is Matt Helm

A special agent for ICE, Helm is supposed to be the best.  But like 007, Helm seemingly has only a loose interest in the mission at hand, preferring to lust after gorgeous women to saving the European and American economic markets from collapsing.  Still, he can make a helicopter from parts stored in his car and fly it damn well.

And yet for all his supposed skill, he remains a remarkably ineffectual hero.  He never has to do any detective or espionage work, pretty much happening on the villains the moment he arrives in the correct country.  I’d call the guy more a lucky son of bitch than a bad-ass.

[THE BODY COUNT: 16]

Without being too violent, I think the movie still provides an adequate amount of bodies.  Martin kills 11, making him the MVP for this one.  We get death from gunshots, explosions, and a few from falling from a traincar moving at a high rate of speed.

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

I’ll be honest.  I did like the main baddie’s death.  Helm throws him out the trap door in the bottom of the speeding train, and the guy gives a pretty awesome death scream.  So that was cool.

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Since Martin plays the role as a man who wears his sexuality on his sleeve, there isn’t much question as to the protagonist’s sexual preference.  The villain seems equally interested in women.  I’d go into his home decorating, but I think that gaying up your house comes with the title of “Count”.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

Freya: “I’m an agent. And I also happen to be a good one. And I’m also a woman!”

*runs off crying*

No question about it, the women of The Wrecking Crew are absolute objects.  The ones without names are clearly meant to be scenery, even acting as furniture in some instances.  And the one with names are treated no better.  Look no further than the most offensive character of Freya, played by Sharon Tate.

Sharon Tate

A contact for ICE, Freya is supposed to be some sort of agent in her own right.  Realizing this would make her seem somewhat of an equal to our male protagonist, the film makers have decided to turn Freya into a shrieking, bumbling child of a woman.  In a series of running gags (with emphasis on gag), she accidentally foils many of Helm’s plans, all the while remaining forever jealous of any other woman he even gazes upon.  Way to set women back a few decades, guys.  Good job.

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

The Wrecked Crew

The best moment of the film occurs near the end.  Dean Martin and Sharon Tate fly a helicopter into the middle of the villain’s compound, where Martin shoots and blasts his way inside.  In a film littered with poorly done action, it’s easily the best sequence.  There’s shoot-outs, explosions, and Dean Martin even manages to dive over a wall.  And, for a very brief moment, the movie almost becomes good.

Zipper Choices

As for the one-liner, it’s from the lead villain’s main squeeze.  Matt Helm comes upon her dressing in her bedroom.  She asks him to zip her dress, prompting the following exchange:

Matt: “Which way do you want it, up or down?”

Linka: “Well there’s always a choice, Mr. Helm, isn’t there?”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

All the great ideas and talent in the world won’t amount to shit if you don’t know what to do with them.  Oh, and Bad Guys, stop monologing  and just kill them when you have the damn chance.

[THE CHUCK OF NORRIS: 1 outta 5]

[  ] Facial Hair
[  ] Jumps/Or Kicks Through A Window Or Wall
[X]
Performs Spin Kick or Spin Punch To Enemies Face
[  ] Shows Off His Hairy Chest
[  ] Sports Some Cowboy Getup

[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” *
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[  ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[  ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[  ] Factory/Warehouse
[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)
[  ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[  ] 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
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[  ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[  ] Vigilante Justice

* Dean Martin was a prizefighter, and I’ll go ahead and count that.

Roundhouse kick... Chuck Norris!

Roundhouse kickChuck Norris!

Enter the 80s

Enter The Ninja

[THE CHALK-OUTLINE]

Enter the Ninja (1981): Breakdown by Rutledal

A westerner who has been taught in the ways of the ninja must help his friend defend his land. Retardation ensues.

[THE EXECUTION]

This is the movie that launched the wave of ninja movies released all trough the 80s and parts of the early 90s. It also changed the face of The Cannon Group, turning them in to one of the prime providers of low budget action films in the 80s.

Since this was made at the time when Asian actors still weren’t billable at the box-office (despite Jackie Chan’s best efforts), Italian western hero Franco Nero was cast in the lead. Prior to this movie, Nero had no experience with martial arts and had to be doubled for most of the major action sequences. Unfortunately both become quite obvious. That Nero does not know martial arts shines through every time he is fighting without his ninja suit. It is also easy to tell when he is being doubled because Nero has big mustache and his double doesn’t.  Yeah, it’s that bad.

The movie also features one of the most cliché-ridden, comic-book style henchmen in cinematic history. I shit you not, when I say we are talking about an overacting, short and fat dude with a German accent, a limp and a hook for a hand. A fucking hook for a fucking hand! Fuck this movie.

One of us!

The story follows a man who is the first ever Caucasian ninja (aren’t they all?), even going as far as giving him a white ninja costume. However one of the more Asian ninjas doesn’t take too kindly to teaching the ways of the ninja to strangers/non-Asians. Instead of actually focusing on that plot point, the movie instead follows our white ninja hero as he goes to help his friend, who is being hassled by an oil tycoon, only to later have the two plots melt together.

Uh Oh

The movie has all the classic elements of a ninja movie, like ridiculous sounds effects and smoke bombs. Well, all except martial arts, of which there is surprisingly little, probably due to Nero’s lack of skills in the field. It is poorly edited and at times extremely inconsistent, there are moments where the actors look baffled, as if they have no idea what is going on. Still, the movie has its moments and the score is actually pretty decent. It also helps that professional martial artist Shô Kosugi plays the evil ninja.

Overall it’s a pretty bad movie, and I think that if it hadn’t ended up launching a popular sub-genre of 80s action it would have vanished from everyone’s memory years ago. This is for hardcore fans of ninja movies only.

[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]

Dudikoff or Nero?

Franco Nero is Cole

“One man? We are afraid of one man?”
“He’s like an army. He’s like a whole army.”

“20 men? He got rid of 20 men? That is impossible!”
“Impossible or not, sir, he took care of them all.”

He’s pretty bad-ass. For starters, he has a license as a master of ninjitsu, which I’m pretty sure is hard to obtain. In a flashback he says that when the war* is over the first thing he will do is look for another war to fight in. He just can’t get enough action. He does cry when his friend dies, but quickly decides that killing is a better way to cope with grief.

*Non-defined conflict taking place in Africa

[THE BODY COUNT: 31 Real and 11 Fake Deaths]

Nero kills 26 bad guys by various ninja weapons, even beheading a guy. He’s pretty hardcore like that. The fake deaths come from the opening sequence where Cole slays down 11 ninjas, before it’s revealed that it was  a training exercise and they are all alive and well. The other deaths are pretty evenly divided: 1 for Cole’s friend, 1 for the main villain, 1 for the rival ninja etc.

Pit Death

[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]

Go into YouTube for a minute, plot “worst/best death scene ever” in the search monitor. Did you find a video of a guy who gets hit with a ninja star in the chest and then shrugs before falling over dead, all in unnecessary slow motion? That’s from this movie. It’s the death of the movie’s childlike villain, and since a certain henchman survives the movie, this is the movie’s most satisfying death.

Best/Worst Death Ever?  Probably

[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]

Yep, those are two naked guys

There are some gay undertones in the friendship between Cole and his alcoholic friend, but it’s never fleshed out to its full potential. A shame it is. Our hook handed henchman however has gotten it. When asked what he needs, his answer is always the same: “More men”. Still, the movie keeps a low profile.

[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]

When he goes to visit his friend, Cole doesn’t think waiting at the gate is fit for a ninja like him so he climbs the fence, only to be met by a woman with a shotgun. Instead of trying to explain what is going on he makes sexist remarks, disarms her, cops a feel and kicks her in the ass. Honestly, he turns her around and squeezes her breast for no good reason other than to just squeeze her breast.

That's Quite A Grip You've Got There

They then try to make a strong independent female character of the woman, his friend’s wife, Marry Ann, but it all falls to the ground when they have her sleep with Cole only to give him a reason to save her later on.

There is also the guy that who sells porn pictures from his jacket.

Pocket Porn?

[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]

Ying Yang

At the end of the title sequence a ninja dressed in white comes in from the left, jumps up and kicks a ninja dressed in black right in the face. The only thing is, he misses the black ninja by a couple of feet. It perfectly sets up the movie, and from there it’s all downhill.

That's how accidents happen

Cole: “Give Mr. Venarius a message from me.”
Henchman: “Yeah, what message?”
Cole: “I don’t like to be followed.”
Henchman: [Pulls a gun on Cole]
Cole: [Crushes his throat with a single blow] “Never mind
I’ll tell him myself.”

[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]

When making a movie about ninjas, make sure your lead (especially if he’s supposed to actually be a ninja) knows martial arts.

[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]

[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” [Shô Kosugi]
[  ] 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
[  ] Giant Explosion(s)
[  ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[  ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[  ] Manly Embrace(s)
[  ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[  ] 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)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[  ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[  ] Tis The Season
[  ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[  ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice

Ouch!

“Sir, I’m hurt.”