Harry here with Vern’s uncovering of the greatest America has to offer. This time it is BLAST starring… ah hell, I’ll just hand it over to Vern – he’s who you come to AICN desperate for something new to read…
You know how it is with me, every time I get a screener for some shitty straight to video movie I get this idea somewhere in my brain… what if this is it? What if this is THE ONE? The one I’ve been looking for all these years? Well today we’re here to discuss BLAST, which is not the one. But it is one of those rare surprisingly competent ones. Destined for a Not As Bad As You Would Think award from the Direct to Video Academy of Well Who Are We Kidding There Is No Art Or Science In These Things.
Basically BLAST is DIE HARD on an oil rig. Or maybe UNDER SIEGE on an oil rig, but not ON DEADLY GROUND. Anyway the important thing is instead of Bruce or Seagal, we got wisecrackin Eddie Griffin. You know, from MY BABY’S DADDY. Now look, I wouldn’t watch 99% of the shit this guy has made. But I do think he can be funny. I’m more of a POOTIE TANG man, but I liked him in UNDERCOVER BROTHER. And his standup movie/family documentary DYSFUNKTIONAL FAMILY was funny. Here, he has a couple good smartass lines, but mostly plays the action hero.
That’s what had me excited about the movie because Eddie Griffin’s a little guy, nobody’s gonna be threatened by this man. And the box calls his character Lamont “Dix” Dixon a “former Navy Seal.” Turns out they meant to say that at one point he jokes that he is a former Navy Seal, then says, “No, that’s Steven Seagal.” You gotta wonder. Did the marketing people know that Dix is not a former Navy Seal, but have some kind of marketing rule that says movies about former Navy Seals are profitable? Or did they think ha ha ha, Eddie Griffin as a Navy Seal, that’s hilarious, people are gonna want to rent that as a joke? Or did they just not watch the movie, and guessed what it was about based on the cover art? Any of these are possible.
Anyway, Dix is a tug boat captain who’s towing the oil rig when it gets taken over by mercenaries (“Vinnie Jones, SWORDFISH”) pretending to be eco-terrorists. But in the tradition of Darren McCord (SUDDEN DEATH) and Forrest Taft (ON DEADLY GROUND), Dix gets his terrorist fighting skills from his past as a fireman. A Navy fireman, to be fair, putting out fires in Desert Storm. And he got to swing around on ropes alot, he says.
We know Dix is a firefighter because he keeps having flashbacks to explain why he has a kid. See, his friend died in a fire and he had to adopt one of them white kids that wears a backwards cap. The kid has a high pitched voice and I’m pretty sure that at least a couple times he was dubbed by an adult woman like on the old Godzilla pictures. He wears regular length shorts though. Also I’m gonna go ahead and give away that at the end he helps save the day flying on some kind of paraglider contraption that he got for Christmas.
Yes, like DIE HARD, this one takes place at Christmas. I’m gonna let it slide though because it was written by Steven E. De Souza, who had a hand in the first two DIE HARDs, and because it’s based on a German TV movie that took place at Christmas. Maybe that’s why they refer to Father Christmas at some point. If you were wondering where Eddie Griffin movies come from, apparently they are remakes of German TV movies.
Unlike the John McClane model, Eddie Griffin doesn’t work entirely alone in this one. Halfway through he teams up with a bumbling ex-hacker (they actually call him a “cyberthief”) played by Breckin Meyer. On the outside they got Vivica A. Fox with the FBI, sitting in one of those command rooms looking up stuff on computers and explaining stuff.
Vinnie Jones is a generic ruthless bad guy, not really getting to show his sense of humor. His main henchman is the great Tommy “Tiny” Lister (you know, Deebo) but he’s mainly just in a couple scenes. And I don’t understand why he yells “Trick or treat!” when he fires a grenade. It’s Christmas, man, you’re gettin your holiday traditions mixed up. You gotta say like “God rest you merry gentlemen, motherfucker!” Something like that.
Also, they didn’t do this in the original Die Hards but post-Matrix, they always gotta have a hot chick that wears black and does karate and flips and shit. Think of the chick with the blue makeup in HALF PAST DEAD for example. It’s very important to have a girl terrorist in this one because her job is to have all the fight scenes with Breckin Meyer. At one point she’s fighting this guy and she’s doing handsprings and cartwheels and shit. And I thought lady, you’re fighting Breckin Meyer. You don’t gotta dazzle him with acrobatics to get him off balance. This guy couldn’t even get Garfield to stop picking on him. That fuckin cat treats him like garbage, insults him to his face all day long, he comes home from work and makes the cat lasagna. People with regular, friendly cats don’t even do that kind of shit. This guy is a pushover. But somehow he beats her so I guess maybe she was right to be doing flips. Sorry lady, you know what you’re doing I’ll cut out the backseat driving.
It’s really great that they were able to get De Souza to write this one, because that way it’s not just another DIE HARD ripoff. Instead, it’s just another DIE HARD retread. By now De Souza could probaly be handcuffed in the trunk of a car and could use his mouth and jumper cables to scratch this one into the paint. In proper screenplay format, too. Without spelling errors. He knows what he’s doing and he puts all the standard detail and twists for this type of plot, and he and director Anthony Hickox make it seem a little closer to a theatrical movie than most DTV stuff these days. It’s definitely alot better than Seagal’s latest SUBMERGED, which also had Vinnie Jones and was directed by Hickox. I don’t know if it was the Breckin Meyer factor or what but this one is more competent.
One complaint, I could use more crazy shit. De Souza knows how to dish it out, we know this because he wrote KNOCK OFF, the movie that capped off Jean-Claude Van Damme’s brief surrealist period. If you haven’t seen that one, it involves terrorists putting bombs in the rivets of jeans. And Van Damme pulls Rob Schneider around in a rickshaw while Schneider whips his ass with an eel. Kind of hard to explain. This is more like a regular human being movie, but it has a couple good touches like the paraglider I mentioned. Also, you know that type of scene where terrorists take over and suddenly the janitorial staff or whoever turns out to be in on it, and they pull out hidden weapons? In this one, most of the guns are hidden inside Christmas presents, but there’s one turncoat that’s a cook, and he pulls a gun out of a pot of spaghetti. And it’s got spaghetti hanging all over it while he shoots. I wonder how long he was stirring that damn spaghetti waiting to pull the gun out?
My favorite unexplained touch: escape pods. I swear to Christ, there is a scene where the bad guys say “Get out the escape pods,” and they open up these big crates and they got two rockets in there. Nothing ever comes of this and I actually had to rewind it to prove to myself that I was not crazy, they really did have escape pods. And I was right.
One thing that’s weird, the head of the oil company turns out to be in on it, and he text messages Vinnie Jones with updates on everything the feds are doing. Also he tries to run off with a briefcase full of money, or something. But at the end Vivica Fox laughs and decides to let him go, and he gets to make a speech about how he’s shutting down the oil rig because sometimes environmental concerns must trump economic concerns. It’s true to life, because this guy is a total scumbag crook, involved in the murders of innocent people for money, and they let him get away with it. It would make a good ironic ending but the music leads me to believe it is not supposed to be ironic, it is supposed to be a regular happy type ending. I don’t get it.
Anyway, the main appeal to this movie, if any, is Eddie Griffin. I don’t think the little guy should start doing action movies, but he does a good job with the role he’s been handed. He has a couple wisecracks that actually made me laugh, but mostly he wears a nice black turtleneck and grimaces like he’s Wesley Snipes. He even has a scene where he has to cry over the little white kid. And of course, he gets to do slow motion grenade kicking, swinging on a chain shooting like Chow Yun Fat, and that kind of crap. It’s pretty good.
The “explosive fun and non-stop action!” hits stores THIS TUESDAY. So be prepared. Trick or treat.
that’s all I got today,
p.s. Moriarty, I genuinely didn’t mean to “call you out” in my last review like you said I did… I would like to take this opportunity to publicly UNCALL OUT Moriarty. No hard feelings bud. If you’re still mad, why don’t you and the family come over, we’ll watch BLAST, we’ll play cards, whatever. You gotta pay airfare though. And I ain’t changing no diapers.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/20764
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
July 19, 2005, 5:18 a.m. CST
by Lando Griffin
Bill, Frist. Saw the ad/link for this cruising around on some other site earlier and naturally “WTF?” popped into my head. Undercover Brother was funny though. Buh-lee dat playa!
July 19, 2005, 5:23 a.m. CST
Vern ya really need to raise ya standards matey!!
It sounds godawful!!!!!!!!
July 19, 2005, 5:23 a.m. CST
uh, sounds like crap
July 19, 2005, 5:49 a.m. CST
JUGGERNAUT vs. UNDERCOVER BROTHER
You’re never going to fly the space shuttle if you marry a stripper!!!!!!!!
July 19, 2005, 6:28 a.m. CST
Pitching a movie as “Die Hard on a…” is so 1990’s
by I Dunno
And we need to have a cage match with all the wacky black comic actors who want to cross over into action. Thin the herd a little.
July 19, 2005, 7:10 a.m. CST
Vern, you are unofficially the King of Kwality on AICN. Unfortunately – and I appreciate that this is DTV – your comments on Vinnie Jones have me doubting your powers. To put it simply, Vinnie has no place being in any films, ever. Maybe it is a Brit perspective (although I don’t want to speak for a nation) , but the guy is shambolic representation of my country. Even your suggestion that the moron has the wit to engage some humour slays me. He offers nothing, not even good in a campy, kitsch sort of way that much of DTV can be enjoyed in. He is a talentless cretin and should be removed from filmic (and sporting) history in a manner that Stalin would be proud of. Failing that anything that he has been in should be swathed in sack cloth and supplied with a bell so that unknowing individuals can avoid the leperous mess tainted by Vinnie. Phew! Glad to get that out of my system. So, apart from that; Vern keep the reviews rolling in as they’re always the best written items on AICN by a mile.
July 19, 2005, 8 a.m. CST
funny thing is…
I think the novel that the original Die Hard was based on actually took place on an oil rig. Can someone confirm who isn’t too lazy to look it up, like I am?
July 19, 2005, 8:11 a.m. CST
ok so I lied
I just looked it up and I was wrong…geeze I must have been on the sauce or something. I have no idea where I got that from
July 19, 2005, 8:20 a.m. CST
The sad thing is that an action thriller set on an oil rig is a
July 19, 2005, 8:28 a.m. CST
German TV Movie?
Which one? Usually there are only shitty RomCom’s made for German TV.
July 19, 2005, 8:51 a.m. CST
alright I finally got it…
In the book “nothing last forever” the source material for the original Die Hard…Joe Leland (mclane in the movie) goes to visit his daughter stephanie who works in a High Rise building, which instead of being a japanese corporation is Klaxon Oil…damn what a waste of my time. According to the folks at Amazon.com this book seems to be rather enertaining. Did someone say something about wacky black actors?
July 19, 2005, 8:59 a.m. CST
by TV CASUALTY
Wow. Great review. Eddie Griffin should simply accept his fate and keep punching out DTV efforts, with occasional standup. And what’s with Brits hating Vinnie Jones so much? What don’t I know? I thought he was great in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, passable in Gone in 60 Seconds (though it’s a shit movie overall), and has some charm to him. What’s with the ire? Anyone?
July 19, 2005, 9:29 a.m. CST
Nice work, Vern
Laugh out loud funny, this was.
July 19, 2005, 9:42 a.m. CST
Whatever happened to Griffin’s Sammy Davis Jr. biopic projec
Must have been three or four years ago they announced pre-production on that thing. Anyone know?
July 19, 2005, 10:43 a.m. CST
Andsoitis–Nothing Lasts Forever…
Yup, it was indeed a pretty damned good book (and Die Hard is one of my favorite movies). The storylines are *almost* identical, but with a few key differences; as you noted, it’s his daughter instead of his estranged wife (although they kept the last name “Generro” for her–and in the book, she really *is* sleeping with the weaselly Ellis guy) and instead of a Japanese corporation (late-80’s movie) it was originally a Texas oil corporation (mid-70’s book). Also, since it’s his daughter, McClaine’s character (named Leland in the book) is supposed to be about 10 years older. It’s my understanding that Clint Eastwood was the original choice for the movie, and he would have been closer to the character from the book.
Oh, one other key difference–in the book, the European terrorists really *are* terrorists (standard 70’s “liberation front” stuff), and for some reason they changed the head terrorist from Karl to Hans for the film, which seemed odd.
Otherwise, just about every scene is identical–the Christmas setting, Ellis being a weasel, “Now I have a machine gun”, his feet cut to shreds by broken glass, “buttf*cked” Dwayne T. Robinson, Sgt. Powell…even the finale is *almost* the same, with two *very* important differences which I won’t ruin…
Overall, I wouldn’t say one is better or worse than the other, both are excellent.
July 19, 2005, 11:33 a.m. CST
I saw this last week.
I am one of the most forgiving movie watchers alive, but even I thought this movie sucked. I mean, it sucked in the way that someone who is off pitch when singing sucks at singing. It almost there, but everything is just off a bit. Like having Eddie in the badass Jet Li role. I have to admit that he is just too funny to accept as an action hero and all the more in the fact that he isn’t being like John from Die Hard, he’s being like Jet Lit or Arnold or Sly in that he acts like he just knows how bad ass he is. That’s what really threw the movie for me. He looks like a hobbit being Tom Cruise in M12. Yeah, that’s it. You know how Tom Cruise tried to be gracefully badass in MI2 but didn’t quite make it, that’s what Griffin is like in this movie. I can imagine that this movie could be fun to watch if you are drunk OR if you are drunk and you start playing Mystery Science Theater 3000.
July 19, 2005, 12:28 p.m. CST
Slight above average direct-to-video, but…
One thing I did like was that in two or three places they walked right up to a genre cliche, and then basically mooned it.
July 19, 2005, 12:58 p.m. CST
by Moe Ron
What the hell was the name of that movie with Shannon Tweed and Roddy Piper where she was the die hard type hero and the Diceman was the bad guy? I know you’ve seen it. C’mon. Die Hard 3 was originally set on a cruise ship but Under Siege screwed that up and Speed 2 lapped it up, woo hoo.
July 19, 2005, 1:47 p.m. CST
July 19, 2005, 1:49 p.m. CST
lady, you’re fighting breckin meyer!
vern, thanks for that…u made my day. that, and the susequent garfield coments were priceless!!!
July 19, 2005, 1:57 p.m. CST
Boy, Vern that was good. You made up this really awful picture and then wrote a funny review about it. And what a nother funny idea, Eddie Griffin. He’s in jail, Dude! for “consorting with disreputable people”, like he’s reputable? I guess if you’re 6’9″ and play in the NBA you can do anything. And it was pure genius to pretend he’s a comic and like, small. So good. What an imagination you have, Vern. Anyway, what does “video” mean? And how do you go “direct” to it? Just trying to keep up here, Guy.
July 19, 2005, 2:19 p.m. CST
Nothing Lasts Forever, Vinnie Jones, standards, etc.
Yes, the book is very similar, if you want more detail I got a big writeup about it on my sight. Don’t want to stretch out the talkback with the url but it’s the first link above plus DieHard.html. It was actually Frank Sinatra that was first considered for the movie back when the book came out. Nothing Lasts Forever is a sequel to the book The Detective, which was made into a movie with Sinatra. The sequel book was made as a way for a quick movie sequel, like Jurassic Park 2. But when Sinatra turned it down it sat in limbo for many years before being made into the greatest movie of all time that changed the world forever, etc. TO GROGGY about Vinnie Jones: you obviously know more about the guy than I do, I just liked him in Lock Stock where he was driving around with the little kid. I thought he was a believable tough guy. I have to admit I don’t remember any other movies I liked him in, though. Well, MEAN MACHINE was okay, but no LONGEST YARD (original). STANDARDS: On my last DTV review one talkbacker got on my case about overly explaining my low standards towards DTV movies. Normally I would tell him to go fuck himself, except I think he was right. So I will not be explaining it every time. I agree that this is not a good movie, and Eddie Griffin being a silly choice for an action hero is the main thing I like about it. This is not so much a recommendation as it is an exploration, a study, an analysis, a cinematical pondering, or whatever. thanks bud.
July 19, 2005, 3:53 p.m. CST
“God rest you merry gentlemen, motherfucker!”
Heh. Well played, sir, well played.
July 19, 2005, 5:25 p.m. CST
by Aston Lad
…made his name as a footballer with a reputation for cheating, often violently. The kind of bad-boy sporting ‘hero’ that gave our country’s football hooligans (who most agree give us a bad name) someone to identify with on the pitch. America just knows him as the likeable henchman type, so you’ll never understand why those of us Brits who actually appreciate fair play and good sportsmanship think he’s a meat headed grunt. I love him in the movies but hate what he stood for in sport.
July 19, 2005, 5:34 p.m. CST
Has a real life Die Hard situation ever existed?…
by Aston Lad
…because compared to most 80s blockbusters, it seems almost plausible in terms of plot. I know it was based on a novel, but did Roderick Thorpe get his inspiration from a real life ‘wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time’ event in the news?
July 19, 2005, 6:48 p.m. CST
Good reading as always Vern
What I like about Vern’s reviews are that I know I can enjoy the review without ever seeing the movie itself. Like the Knock Off reference – though for Van Damme’s weirdest movie you have to go with Inferno. I’ve seen that about 5 times and still have no idea what the fuck was going on.
Vinnie Jones – the only barely interesting thing I can think about this man is he had two movies out at roughly the same time where he threatened to cut a dog open to retrieve something it had swallowed. Now that’s what I call the magic of the movies.
July 19, 2005, 10:08 p.m. CST
Anthony Hickox!! Man this guy’s career went down the.. okay,
I’m sure we all kinda sorta fondly remember the Waxwork movies (not to mention Warlock 2 and Hellraiser 3!) Shit, he’s working, right?
July 19, 2005, 10:09 p.m. CST
“I was in Garfield, motherfucker!”
Breckin in a Robot Chicken episode. Can’t really stand the guy, but that was funny.
July 20, 2005, 12:48 a.m. CST
I’d watch this on T.V.
Cool.This created Vinny Jones http://tinyurl.co.uk/t18a.To me, he’s a novelty henchman,just like in his playing days.I don’t mind him in the right films though so good luck to him,I hope he can avoid getting into Hollywood trouble should X3 do well.
The last Van Damme film I saw was Replicant.The ending made me laugh.In a moving montage,The policeman reunited his family, contrasting with Van Damme hooking up with a lady of the night(T.W.A.H.)he saved earlier,a happy ending for all http://tinyurl.co.uk/o05c
July 20, 2005, 12:55 a.m. CST
re: “Nothing Lasts Forever”
by Jimmy Jazz
I don’t know of any “Wrong place wrong time-type” situations that inspired Thorp, but the rest of the novel was definitely a product of it’s time. It’s chock full of seventies-style Eurotrash terrorist goodness. Another major difference between Die Hard and Mothing Lasts Forever is that of mood. Die Hard is kind has a black comedy melodrama vibe while Nothing Lasts Forever is played straight and very dark. The characters are all fucked up and there is little room for witty wisecracks. I found it actually kind of depressing, like all of Thorp’s novels I’ve read. I don’t think it would have been thye big hit that it was if they would have followed the mood of the book. Let’s face it, Thorp may have been a master of the genre and a great writer, but he was a bit of a downer.
July 20, 2005, 4:22 a.m. CST
Are you from Aston, Birmingham (just curious as I went to school there for the best of 10yrs) or is it just a clever name??
July 20, 2005, 9:44 a.m. CST
As a Brit, I kind of liked Vinnie, especially the shot of him gripping Gazza by the bollocks. He’s usually enough fun on film not to embarrass himself and that’s saying a lot.
Also having had a 15 year career in the oil industry, mostly on drilling rigs – why bother to make the tug boat guy the hero? Most rigs I’ve been on have been chock-a-block with ex-army, navy, marine or cons for that matter. Best part about Armaggeddon? The people. Those types really do exist in the oil drilling industry and frankly I feel a great wave of sympathy for anyone who tried to hijack any oil rig. Ever.
July 20, 2005, 9:48 a.m. CST
Probably why it’s never happened.
Oh and in the scene in Die Hard when the Japanese guy gets offed by Alan Rickman there’s a model of an oil rig on a table which our boy Bruce crawls under.
Back then it was known as the Sonat Henry Goodrich, owned by Transocean now I believe. Cracking place to work.
July 20, 2005, 3:21 p.m. CST
by Aston Lad
I went to university there from 1999-2003. I adopted ‘Aston Lad’ as my online alter-ego during my student days and ended up using it for net forums etc ever since! It’s kind of convenient because even though I haven;t studied there for 2 years I do love the Aston Martin sports car brand so it’s still a good nickname for me :)
July 20, 2005, 8:39 p.m. CST
Keep it coming, motherfucker!
I wrote that, “…and the horse you came in on” review on the lulu page (about Vern’s brilliant collection of film reviews, the more copies you buy the more likely he is to publish his book on Seagalology…buy!). I love your reviews man, and the one bit that made me gurn like a valium-choked donkey was that “God rest you merry gentlemen, motherfucker!” spot… I was sitting outside reading that on my laptop: that balding lady with the sunspots must have thought I was coming on to her I smiled so wide. Thanks man!
July 24, 2005, 9:58 p.m. CST
I still feel that some people here
just don’t take Vern the right way. Seeing that a review is by him is that same feeling you get when you realise a movie you have been waiting to see is actually opening today! Except that Vern usually delivers…
VERN has a new action-horror novel out called WORM ON A HOOK! He has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the film criticism books Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal and Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer!: Writings on Bruce Willis, Badass Cinema and Other Important Topics as well as the crime novel Niketown.