I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Archive for July, 2004

Cradle 2 the Grave

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

From the same director, producer and cast as Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds comes another exciting pile of disparate elements squooshed together into the same basic shape as an action movie. It’s really more of a booger sculpture than a movie, but for a booger sculpture, it’s not that bad, I guess.

Joel Silver originally announced this as Untitled DMX Project, supposedly a remake of Fritz Lang’s M. If that was the case, then I guess Tom Arnold (our generation’s Peter Lorre) would’ve been playing a perverted child killer whose killing spree had caused the police to clamp down so hard that organized crime would be pretty much put out of business. So the leaders of rival gangs (DMX, Jet Li, Mark Dacascos) would pool their resources to catch Tom Arnold so everything could go back to normal. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Walking Tall (2004)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

The first thing you see in this movie: “inspired by a true story.” The last thing: “Dedicated to the memory of Sheriff Buford Pusser.”

In between, you got nothing to do with Buford Pusser, except a sheriff with a stick. See, that’s what happens when you raise an entire generation on nothing but Diff’rent Strokes and Duran Duran. They get confused. They grow up, they start running things, but they got heads made out of oatmeal. It’s like letting a dog mow your lawn. If you train it right, it might be able to push the mower around, but it’s gonna do a really bad job by human standards. These kids today, they don’t understand reality. To them, “reality” means you have to eat bugs and stab your best friend in the back to win money. So let me explain it to you knuckleheads. MOVIES ARE NOT REALITY. Because a movie was made in the ’70s does not mean that it actually happened. If you make a remake of Saturday Night Fever or Star Wars, you can’t say “based on a true story.” You have to say “based on a movie you already saw.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Walking Tall

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

I’m not all that familiar with the films of Phil Karlson. Supposedly he did some good gritty crime movies in the ’50s, but I just know him from his later years, when he did movies like BEN and WALKING TALL (he did one more, FRAMED, after those two, and that was that), where you’re convinced at the beginning that it’s some crappy TV movie but by the end you’re surprised by how involved you somehow got.

Loosely based on an actual guy, WALKING TALL is the story of Buford Pusser (Joseph Donald Baker), a soldier turned professional wrestler who moves his family back to his hometown in Tennessee, only to discover that things have changed a little bit. You know, same way they always did in blaxploitation movies. Suddenly there’s a bunch of criminals running the town, selling (in this case) moonshine. You can’t go to a bar without getting in a fight and a woman can’t even step one tippy toe onto God’s green earth without a bunch of drunken yahoos doing donuts in a pickup truck yelling “whooo hoo” and trying to grab her boobies. (Not that this literally happens in the movie as far as I remember, but you know, it’s that kind of movie.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Mechanic

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

First off, I just want to say, I thought Charles Bronson was gonna play a mechanic in this movie. I’m not sure why. Maybe because THE FUCKING MOVIE IS CALLED THE MECHANIC. I don’t know, that may or may not be the reason.

Charles Bronson plays a mob enforcer, or a hitman, or an assassin, or a killer, or a mechanic, or a dentist, or whatever you think sounds coolest. Point is, he’s a guy who makes a living murdering people in fancy ways. And he’s real good at his job, by the looks of it.

The opening scene is one of them tours of force that you gotta be impressed by. For a good ten minutes or more, there is no dialogue, no narration, no explanation. Just my man Charles the Mechanic, spying on a guy, then going into the guy’s apartment, fucking with his teabags, putting explosives in his books, etc. Setting things up. Then blowing things up. All in a day’s work when you are a mechanic who doesn’t fix cars. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Can you believe that? Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Has there ever been a better title for a film of Badass Cinema, because I don’t think there has. Leave it to Sam Peckinpah, that lovable old drunk who spent his whole career fighting with studios and filming innocent kids standing by the side of the road watching as horrible atrocities took place in slow motion to come up with a title like that. I don’t think that one will ever be topped.

I really like Peckinpah, especially one that I guess is not generally considered one of his best, The Getaway. I like that this is a guy who makes violent westerns and crime movies but instead of trying to dazzle the audience with explosions and car chases, he seems to pour his filthy old grizzled alcoholic soul into it. All of his frustrations, problems and paranoid delusions seem to end up in there somewhere. He knows that a good personal film is not necessarily about some dude reading poetry and being misunderstood by the ladies. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Whoopi Goldberg: This Month’s Janet Jackson

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

WhoopiSee, the few of you out there who read this shit, you say I should write these things more often. And I like to write them, to get all this out of my system, but at the same time I feel like a broken record. (For you kids, a record is a large black double sided CD used for hip hop scratching, and when it is “broken” or badly scratched it plays the same part over and over. That’s what it means, saying the same thing over and over, it’s an analogy.) Because it’s always the same themes, just the details are different.

I just looked a few columns back, and I was complaining about how ludicrous it is that, with all the blood on the hands of the Bush administration (and let’s be honest, it’s not just on the hands anymore, these fuckers are dipped head to toe like the dance club vampires at the beginning of BLADE), that the media matrix would really try to convince us that we should set that all aside, get over it, and focus our outrage on JANET JACKSON’S NAKED TITTY and THE NIGHTMARISH HORROR OF TWO MEN WHO LOVE EACH OTHER HOLDING HANDS. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Prime Cut

Thursday, July 8th, 2004

Scroll up a little bit and you can read about POINT BLANK, Lee Marvin’s great Richard Stark adaptation. Directed by John Boorman, an obvious influence on THE LIMEY, one of the classics. Well here’s another one in the same tough guy vein. But it’s less arty, less thoughtful, and has a weird ass meat theme to it.

The movie starts with a slaughterhouse montage showing cows going from cows to sausages. Like the e-coli version of the opening credits to WILLY WONKA. Along the way a dead dude gets thrown in there, chopped up, ground and turned into links, then a big sweaty dude says, “Special order,” packs ’em up and mails ’em to the guy’s boss. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Breakfast with Hunter

Thursday, July 8th, 2004

I’m sure alot of you out there have that Criterion edition of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Yeah, me too. So you may remember a special feature on there showing Hunter S. Thompson filming his cameo for the movie, and that footage was actually an excerpt from this movie, BREAKFAST WITH HUNTER. The same movie I am now reviewing as we speak.

Well that was a pretty good special feature, but as a movie it’s even better. What this is is a “cinema verite” or “direct cinema” or “not narrated” type documentary about the famous maniac/journalist. The directionist followed Dr. Thompson for several years, often acting as his road manager so as to get a chance to film him. Of course this is shot in recent years so there is a heavy emphasis on the making of the FEAR AND LOATHING movie. He celebrates anniversaries, receives honors (including a party from his old friends at Rolling Stone) and reunites with Ralph Steadman, who has come to support him and do some real high quality court room drawings as he fights a phoney charge of drunk driving. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Punisher (2004)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004

Well from what they tell me “The Punisher” is a Marvel Comics type super hero character. In the comic strip he’s a sadistic bastard that goes around “punishing” people. What this means I guess is not spidermanning them with webs or hulking them or whatever, what he does is kill them in horrible painful ways. He does not wear a cape or fly but he wears black spandex and a picture of a skull on his chest. Basically he is the guy from Rolling Thunder as a super hero. Without super powers or a hook hand. Superman’s morally questionable co-worker.

Guys who like The Punisher are not guys I can relate to. They like the violence and sadism and revenge aspects. They have a lot of anger in them and they enjoy getting it out. So far so good. But for some reason their idea of a bad motherfucker is a super hero in a comic strip. They think the right guy to get the rage out is a guy who wears a super hero costume. They can’t just watch Charles Bronson movies like everybody else, they gotta put the guy in a fucking uniform. That was one of the reasons they hated the earlier PUNISHER movie starring Dolph Lundgren. He didn’t wear the uniform. He doesn’t count as the Punisher because he wears different clothes. (maybe the movie takes place on laundry day. Huh? Ever thoughta that, asswipes?) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

The disappointment of that Planet of the Apes remake nonsense got me thinking about the old days. How you used to be able to make movies about talking gorillas that were still intelligent type pictures. You got all the rubber makeup and the spaceships and the fighting and what not that the nerds love but you also got some social commentary in there or some politics or some insights about our world and what not. You got vietnam and the civil rights movement going on in the real world and the apes really strikes a ball or whatever with people because of the obvious parallels. These were expensive studio movies but they were willing to give something back instead of just selling a product and then running like hell.

Then out of the blue I got an anonymous tip, telling me Vern, there was a movie in the mid-’90s which attempted this same thing. You got the rubber makeup and you got the sci-fi nonsense. It’s even a remake of an old movie based on a classic book, just like the apes picture. The one catch is that everyone in the world claims this movie is a worthless piece of utter garbage. but you should still watch it, Vern. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.