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

Point Blank (1998)

tn_pointblank98POINT BLANK is a movie not starring Lee Marvin, not based on the novel ‘The Hunter’ by Richard Stark, and not a must-see classic of badass cinema. At least this POINT BLANK isn’t. This one is from 1998 and there was really no way they could’ve known there was already a movie called POINT BLANK, so let’s not start pointing fingers. Anyway it’s basically a low budget CON AIR in a mall. A bunch of lifers mount an escape from their prison bus, take over a Fort Worth shopping mall as it’s closing up and try to hold the people inside hostage for ransom, etc.

mp_pointblank98The leader of the cons is Joe Ray, played by Kevin Gage. I bet you didn’t know there was a title character in David DeFalco’s CHAOS, but there was, and Gage played him, and he was pretty good actually. Here he’s got a different, more weasely look with long stringy hair. It just so happens that his estranged brother Rudy Ray (not Dolemite) is in town, helping dad dig holes on the farm. Also Rudy is a world class mercenary who has spent many years doing all kinds of badass special ops shit (yes, there is a “Just How Badass Is He?” speech listing which wars and conflicts he was involved in). And he blames himself for his brother’s crimes because he wasn’t there for him. And he’s played by Mickey Rourke.

The beginning of the movie actually had me thinking it might be good. There is one really good thing about the movie, and it’s Mickey Rourke. I’m sure this was shot quickly and around his schedule but it also seems like he puts way more of himself into the movie than anybody would expect an actor to do in something like this. He’s a walking badass juxtaposition because he’s got the giant THE WRESTLER muscles but he oozes sensitivity. In his first scene he’s shoveling dirt and then he puts his hand on his dad’s shoulder to comfort him. He does alot of sitting silently with his thoughts, which most musclemen actors would have trouble with, but not him. Although he’s on the side of the law he sneaks into the besieged mall not to stop his brother or kill him, but to try to get him out of there alive. He thinks he owes it to him for not stopping him from becoming a criminal.

One non-Mickey Rourke touch that also had me optimistic: right before the gunmen take over the mall there’s a scene where a department store employee is complaining that they have to go to Dallas to see the Alanis Morissette concert because nothing ever happens in Fort Worth. That was kind of funny.

Unfortunately, the movie quickly dumps itself into the type of gloomy, repetitive rut that many DTV/no budget action movies do, where it just kind of chugs along and doesn’t feel like much is happening in the middle section. Way too much of the movie is just the gunmen standing around pointing guns at the hostages and arguing with each other while Mickey sneaks around in the shadows getting ready to do something.

Don’t get me wrong, he looks cool sneaking around. I like that he’ll stand out of eyesight but not crouching or hiding, just knowing he’s in the right spot not to be seen. Even in the sneaking around he seems to throw himself completely into the job. And occasionally he gets to head scissor a guy or do some kind of dim mak death touch move he learned while he was in the shit.

One major sin is the waste of a cool location. I’m sure they were limited in what they could do inside this mall where they were shooting, but that doesn’t mean it’s not gonna be disappointing. If the story takes place inside a mall you want to see people going through taking advantage of or fucking around with the different items inside the stores, like in DAWN OF THE DEAD. But there’s almost none of that. They almost exclusively stay in one dark area in the courtyard and barely go into the stores at all. (One character steals some new clothes, but you don’t even get to see him do it.)

Danny Trejo plays the part of the psychotic gunman who molests one hostage and unnecessarily shoots another one, the Mr. Blonde type who scares all the other guys and could ruin everything. In fact he sort of becomes the main bad guy and by far the best part of the movie is the long knock down drag out fight between Rourke and Trejo. They have a huge shootout in a construction area, shooting through buckets of paint that cover Trejo completely. Then he gets shot in the nose. At one point Mickey(‘s stunt double) is doing a bunch of handsprings to dodge bullets. They break through walls, get crushed under falling shelves, strangle each other with metal hose, wrestle, do karate on each other, I mean pretty much everything. Good shit. The only drawback is that for some reason the scene is set to a blues-rock guitar song that makes it seem like it’s supposed to be sad instead of cool.

One of the other cons is played by Michael Wright, who played the high school supervillain Victor Duncan in THE PRINCIPAL, the arms dealer Aaron in MONEY TALKS and I guess was on the TV show OZ. They try to give his character a sad backstory, lots of monologues talking about how he hard a hard life and what not. I didn’t really dig that but  at least respect the Seagal-esque attempt to be humanistic in a shitty action movie. Also there’s alot of bonding and embracing while dying. You know, one of those “As long as I’m laying here dying of gun wounds why don’t we make up and have an ironic laugh together (cough cough) I love you man” type deals.

I don’t really know how the title POINT BLANK fits this story any more than a thousand other action movies that might’ve used it but then thought hey, why not instead of that we could choose a title that wasn’t already used for a classic movie that everybody already loves. I mean I understand that CHOPPING MALL was already taken too, but I’m sure you could come up with a more fitting name that hasn’t been claimed. I suggest FORT WORTHLESS.

Right after this I watched THE ROOKIE, and I noticed a credit for second unit director Matt Earl Beasley, and wondered where I recognized the name. Of course it was because he directed this POINT BLANK. It was his only movie as the main director, but he’s done a ton of TV shows since then.

Oh well, he tried. This is not a successful action movie at all, but at least Mickey gives it some unique touches. This is a good place to see that vulnerable soul that was fighting to get out before he got the proper vehicle for it a decade later.

Thanks (?) to Chris Crespo for telling me about this movie

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.
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 10:44 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

31 Responses to “Point Blank (1998)”

  1. Did you notice that they use the basically the same font treatment as POINT BREAK on the cover? (http://www.silverlinemedia.co.uk/surfspot/products/images/pointbreak.jpg) They’re really covering all their bases here with their “confuse and disorient” marketing strategy.

    I’ll still check it out though. I’m not sure there’s a “Dudes break into a _____ and fuck shit up while one lone badass tries to stop them” movie that I won’t take a chance on.

  2. “Unfortunately, the movie quickly dumps itself into the type of gloomy, repetitive rut that many DTV/no budget action movies do, where it just kind of chugs along and doesn’t feel like much is happening in the middle section. Way too much of the movie is just the gunmen standing around pointing guns at the hostages and arguing with each other while Mickey sneaks around in the shadows getting ready to do something.”

    So THAT was what was wrong with die hard. **waits for the gunshot to come…**

    In all seriousness though (if there is such a thing), I don’t recall this movie but the premise sounds strangely familiar. I don’t think I’m thinking of the same movie though, I think I’m thinking of one set in a mall during a flood, where one of the people stuck there is an escaped murderer, and they have to find out which one while trying to evade the flood waters. Can anybody name that movie?

  3. Vern – Will you be kind or harsh to THE ROOKIE?

    Because quite frankly, it doesn’t deserve mercy.

    If we’re talking the Eastwood version and not that baseball movie.

  4. I just watched this a few weeks ago. Due to the aforementioned similarity in font to Point Break, the cover caught my eye. So I guess the ploy worked for me.

  5. Too bad the movie dropped the ball, though. With great fonts come great responsibility.

  6. The Rookie had a couple of good moments – Charlie Sheen using the “Candygram for Mr Mungo!” line from Blazing Saddles, and his girlfriend figuring out the cop at her door is an imposter and throwing a pan of boiling water in his face. Other than that, there’s some class hamming from Raul Julia and the worst “celebrity sex tape” ever.

    Seriously though Vern, you owe it to yourself to review The Hidden. There’s even a link to today’s movie – a cameo from Danny Trejo!

  7. I remember Paul Ben-Victor having a really funny over the top performance in this.

  8. MikeOutWest – I wonder how many people, expecting another entertaining Eastwood shoot-em up adventure, thought of when Eastwood gets raped.

    Yeah.

    The only good thing I can say about ROOKIE is that Eastwood did that so WB would let him make WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART. That was pretty damn good.

  9. Eastwood gets raped in The Rookie?? I remember seeing the movie ages ago on TV but I don’t remember that happening. Shit, I guess I should rent it and have another look.

    Mikeoutwest-Is it anything like the sex tape in Ricochet? If so that’s just more incentive for me to check it out.

  10. Raul Julia’s girlfriend takes advantage of a tied up Clint when he’s being held prisoner late in the film. This leads to Charlie Sheen’s character complaining about busting his ass to find him while Clint was having “whatshername sitting on your face”, which Clint denies. Though I’m sure I saw an edited for TV version where he says “sucking on your face” instead.

  11. The Stone Killer

    June 10th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    @ Paul

    Are you thinking of Hard Rain?

    Saw this Point Blank on video when it first came out. Just remember thinking it was nice to see Rourke in something again.

  12. this sounds a little too bland to be worth wasting time on, sorry

  13. Not only does Raul Julia’s gf take advantage of poor Clint, she videotapes it, showing it on a huge bank of tvs in Raul’s lair. And Raul sees it and gives a kind of disappointed shrug…

  14. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but I seem to recall the end sequence being almost directly a rehash of the end of Leon.

  15. Man, this review bummed me out. I wondered a few times why you hadn’t reviewed this and looked forward to reading how much you enjoyed it. I think you’re getting too old for this shit, Vern.

  16. I’d suggest malled to death.
    chopping mall is taken, so is mallrats.
    maybe mall dogs?

  17. I nominate KILL ‘EM MALL.

  18. Jareth Cutestory

    June 11th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    The title for France and other French-speaking markets? I nominate MA(L).

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    June 11th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Oops. Try that again: MAL(L).

    That’s better.

  20. Even better: LE BIEN, LE MALL ET LE RÉPUGNANT

  21. Stone – nope, not “Hard Rain”, sorry. It was a mystery (although wasn’t particularly mysterious, as it turned out).

  22. KILL ‘EM MALL!

  23. Is there an echo in here?

  24. paul, what is the flick?

  25. KILL ‘EM MALL is perfect!
    KILL ‘EM MALL!

  26. KILL ‘EM MALL
    slashing more than prices

  27. I love this movie. This is the most over-the-top guy-movie freakout I think I have ever seen. It takes every cliche of the genre, ratchets it up to eleven, and then pounds it into the ground. Paul Ben-Victor’s “I’m lisping as hard as I can” fake gay, the innocent pretty boy, the ethnic psycho, the jaded cop, the heroic brother (Mickey Rourke at his greasiest; he’s so nasty looking in this you can practically smell his B.O. coming off the screen)–it’s sheer brilliance from astoundingly silly beginning to insanely ridiculous end. Plus, with lines like Danny Trejo’s “I’ll give your head a blowjob, all over the wall,” among others, it’s really not to be missed. And what’s with the drag queen as the cliche hot-chick-in-danger character? This movie’s crazy. Make everyone you know watch it.

  28. Yeah, Charley! Yeah!

    I havn’t been able to post since this review cos it was bad enough that this community is like a big fucking art school mardi gras, but to see you’d finally been punkified too Vern has been too hard to stomach. I get why none of these prissy emo’s and tards wouldn’t have commented on or even seen this movie, but it breaks my heart that a self-proclaimed B action DTV buff didn’t get it.

    Lemme break it down and spell out why you are no longer the mascot of badass cinema –

    1) So you got a DTV action flick starring Mickey Rourke and Danny Trejo – right off the bat before seeing it you gotta give it 5 out 10 starting score – watchable. Anything featuring these 2 by default classifies as watchable as a minimum rating.

    2) You gotta give it + 1 for support cast. You identify Kevin Gage as Chaos but most prolly from Heat (bad guy with creepy eyes now playin good guy). Combined with the bad guy from The Principal (also playin a good guy); the psycho Nazi from Falling Down (playin good guy…); and even Moe from the Three Stooges (playin bad..), and chuck in James Gammon for fun too – you dun normally get so many decent recognisable supports for a DTV so definately a +1.

    3) Rourke’s muscles +1. Pure steroidal insanity – this look came out of nowhere given Double Team just came out months before it. Suddenly, not only do you got Rourke, but you got a new “hard-hitter” in the field to stand alongside Arnie, Dolph, and Weathers.

    4) Rourke’s character’s car licence plate is “FTW 187″. Now I know most of the fairies here won’t have seen Rourke’s F.T.W., but it’s a nice homage and worth a +1 all by itself.

    5) Trejo’s best and only acting scene in his entire career including the not-yet-released Machete. That’s right – now I know there are some new-age kids around who think Trejo is the new Charles Bronson, but you can scour Bronson’s 163 roles without finding one where he does a laughing scene as bad as Trejo in this movie alone. Trejo could be called the new Al Leong and that’s as high as he goes (incidentally, I recently made a 10 DVD pack for a friend which was an Al Leong pack. Fitting gift using Trejo too and just as limited (the 10 selections are a no-brainer but 20 is a shitty pack) – but think about it for a sec and you will realise a completely charmless gift if you did it with Bronson for an action fan – a nice gift, but completely charmless).

    Anyways – Trejo’s best acting scene – there is a scene when they first enter the mall where Trejo is directed to give a predatory look to a man holding a soft toy. Trejo’s eyes convey in that second without speaking everything the man knows to run and us to know he has to. Normally he has to speak i.e. Replacement Killers when Chow Yun Fat holds the gun to Trejo’s head – Bronson would have said it in his eyes, but John Woo had to tell Trejo to say ‘Check Mate”, and what Woo was going for – a great idea – it unfortunately still didn’t work cos Trejo just dun have the chops. So +1 for that predatory look and Trejo’s best and only acting scene ever.

    6) +1 for Danny’s fight with Rourke. Not just a long memorable fight – but one of those rare few fights where the bad guy gets humiliated as well, covered in paint and sawdust and looking ridiculous. There are precious few of these in badass action – Under Siege 2 was one of the best where Marcus (McGill) talks all his honour badass talk only to be covered in flour and looking ridiculous as Seagal completely humiliated him. Arquette did to Gandolfini inTrue Romance too (though it was for story telling and not just for fun so not a great example). You gotta love these rare moments.

    7) +1 for Trejo sniffing enough coke to drop an elephant, and that great memorable pan back scene of her arse while he snorts. And the great delivery of a line by Michael Wright when he and Gage walk in on Trejo.

    8) +1 and this is a big one for you guys so you might go as high as +3, but for me, +1 for having a faggot as the main bad guy (along with an albino faggot side kick – one-upping The Firm). Like this humiliation scene, you just don’t get enough fags in macho movies so I for one was all for this. You guys though, you should be cumming in your pants at the thought. Admittedly, Rourke refers to him offhandedly as a ‘fag’ and I know that sort of potty talk gets even Vern quivering so maybe you guys will drop it a point and settle for only +2 for the fag – though there’s a cool scene where he camps it up amongst the hostages works well too.

    9) +1 for the mini-gun. I know these days they are a dime-a-dozen, but you still always gave mini-guns +1 in the 90’s as I recall.

    10) +1 for the kills. Rourke stylish kills were nice, but even rewards like teasing you and not killing the fat bitch only to blow her fat arse away 20 minutes later was a nice touch. You don’t often get so much care and variety so a +1 for style and kills.

    Final score – a neat 14 out of 10. Now if 14/10 is “not a must-see classic of badass cinema” as you so hurtfully stated Vernsey, then I dun know what is.

    I give you the opportunity to climb back into the closet and renounce this review Vern, admitting it was tainted by all the fairy folk with whom you are surrounded. Unless you only hated this movie cos there were fags in it. Though that would make you – I hate to say it – a bit of a bigot – I’d at least get that. You’d just be an asshole. Some sort of trash talking low class ex-con rapist who just tells it like it is…

  29. ARMAGEDDON and CHARLEY, you done good.

  30. LOLOL

    So I just re-watched Point Blank today, and as I often do, I came here to check Vern’s take on the movie. I was pretty miffed, and as I’m reading down I think jerk, jerk, jerk, nice one Charley, and then hey this dude is spot on the money!! Who is this dude, I scroll back up, it’s FUCKING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Turns out I’m my own biggest fan!! Trigger for both JCVD and Arnie quotes to go and fuck myself!

    Anyway, good-o to you old AU_Armageddon of 5 years ago! Perhaps time Vern revisited this gem as well? Maybe that could be a new take for you, shitty ass reviews that you then revisited and reflect on, old prison rapist Vern vs new and improved writer not ex-con prolly never raped anyone Vern!

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