So once again we have survived.

The Marine 2

tn_marine2Lately alot of us have been noticing the decrease in high quality action movies on the big screen and the increase of them in the direct-to-DVD world. Some of us are starting to suspect that there’s been a switcheroo, that the DTV format – once designated as a 100% crap zone – has become the more reliable place to find good action movies. At least for English language movies it seems like most of the best ones (the UNDISPUTEDs, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER REGENERATION, BLOOD AND BONE) go straight to video, and anything on the big screen, even the ones I end up enjoying (THE EXPENDABLES, THE MECHANIC, NINJA ASSASSIN) you can pretty much 100% assume is gonna be compromised by some blurry, muddy, sloppy, close-up, confusing, de-thrillified action scenes.

Well, I’m not sure if we’ve reached that milestone yet, I might be cherrypicking my examples there. But add this to the evidence file: we got another DTV sequel that is clearly superior to the theatrical original. mp_marine2This one has been out for a while and at least one of you recommended it to me before, and I finally followed up on that once I made the connection that PISTOL WHIPPED and DEATH RACE 2 were both pretty good, both directed by this same guy, Roel Reine. Yes, my friends, the prestigious WWE Films have followed up their hugely disappointing PG-13 boring-version-of-COMMANDO with a solid, enjoyable UNDER SIEGE ripoff. (I would say DIE HARD ripoff but it’s more like UNDER SIEGE because he’s a soldier, he doesn’t do wisecracks and he has some help).

Part 1 starred WWE wrestler John Cena as the awesomely named Marine John Triton. Unfortunately Cena was lacking in screen presence and the movie was limp in between the great explosions that made up the trailer. (To be fair he was better in Renny Harlin’s 12 ROUNDS.) For part 2 it’s an unrelated Marine character now played by – well I’ll be damned – the one and only Ted Dibiase.

‘s son.

If you’re like me and you watched WWF wrestling in the ’80s then you remember The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase. Well, it turns out there’s a Ted Dibiase junior who is now a big time wrestler and is more of a crew-cutted muscleman type. He actually seems like quite a gentleman, which is a surprise having grown up with a cruel father who gets a boner from paying poor people to do humiliating things like lick his boots or crawl around barking like a dog. He was one of the great wrestling heels of the era, a chubby asshole in a shiny tuxedo-themed outfit (looked more like a kid’s Halloween costume than a real tuxedo) who bragged about his money and used it to force people to degrade themselves. Kind of like a cross between Andy Kaufman’s wrestling persona and THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN. Today kids are trained to admire rich people because they buy ridiculous jeweled watches made from the blood of African peasants, they name colognes and headphones after themselves, then their daughters make blow job videos and don’t wear underwear and that sprouts like six different reality shows so they start a record label and appear in movies and turn their friends into celebrities and then everybody who has sex on video with their friend also becomes famous and etc. That’s our royalty now, but in those days some people knew that rich people were cruel and and loved to degrade us and had black servants to carry their money for them. It was a way cooler theme for a wrestling villain than just “Russian guy” or “Iranian guy.”

But the wikipedia informs me that Ted Junior has retained the services of the Million Dollar Man’s stoic bodyguard Virgil. I bet little Teddy was raised and mentored by Virgil, sort of like Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Alfred or Annie’s with Punjab. I bet he grew up to honor the values of the working man instead of his prick of a father. I bet he’s trying to turn around the legacy of the Dibiase family and making things right.

teddibiase
Oh, never mind, it says here that Ted Jr. was a real jerk, he stuffed a hundred dollar bill in Virgil’s mouth and fired him. I guess he just seems nice in movies. In the real world of wrestling it’s a different story.

Anyway, Dibiase plays an elite marine on leave from Afghanistan. He wants to go home but his PR-woman wife has to attend the opening of a beach resort in the South Sea Islands, and she’s allowed to bring him along. Unfortunately for their vacation, but fortunately for our home viewing experience, an army of rebel guerillas led by Temuera “Vern hasn’t seen ONCE WERE WARRIORS yet so he has to refer to him as Jango Fett” Morrison take some of the guests, including his wife, hostage.

At first the locals try to take care of it and send in a team of mercenaries. But Dibiase is a micro-manager when it comes to saving his wife from terrorists, so he insists on going on with them, which they are not happy with. There’s a great moment where almost on a whim one of the mercs hands him a sniper rifle and lets him take a difficult shot. When he nails it suddenly they respect each other. But some other things go wrong.

Dibiase isn’t a charisma explosion like The Rock or somebody, but I thought he was very likable in a boy scout type of way, an old fashioned square-jawed, broad-shouldered, crew-cutted All-American asskicker with a sense of justice, expert marksmanship and unexplained body slamming skills. This is a surprise because not only is he the DTV replacement for a somewhat wooden original, but he was also the last minute substitute for some other wrestler I know nothing about who had to drop out because of an injury.

One nice treat is that Michael Rooker is in it and actually has a good supporting role. He runs scuba tours on the island and has a friendly rivalry with the marine because he’s ex-army. In a trustworthy action movie this means he’s gonna help out later, and this happens to be a trustworthy action movie. In fact I think the camaraderie between these two is one of the highlights of the movie.

Reine has proven himself a dependable DTV director, with a solid sense of story and focus on characters. But until now I haven’t noticed his action standing out as anything special. Most of the violence here is decent to good. Alot of it involves people getting shot or blown up and falling off of balconies. But there’s one really standout fight scene where Dibiase takes on two guys at the same time, pitting his hybrid military-WWE style against Muay Thai. And the scene is very uniquely constructed filmatically speaking.

At first it’s what you expect from a movie starring a wrestler – every one or two punches and kicks is a separate shot. It’s not too fast, you can follow it, but it doesn’t have the kind of jolt I’m looking for. Then all the sudden there’s a shot that goes on for 30 full seconds with multiple moves, some of them pretty complex, people getting flipped and thrown into things. The camera doesn’t stay still – actually, it rotates around the fighters, but it’s very clear easy to follow, and it looks cool.

When it finally does cut the next shot is about 20 seconds long before it goes back into shorter cuts. So there is a good chunk of uninterrupted action in there. You don’t usually see that these days.

I was so impressed with this scene that after the movie was over I went back and watched it again to study how it was put together, and then I checked and found that indeed there was an extra called “East Meets West” where they talk about the making of the scene. Reine says that he intentionally started out with short cuts to make it seem like a normal Hollywood approach to action, before going into the longer shots. I’m not sure I understand his motive behind that but it makes for a good comparison for scholars like us, to show how much more exciting long takes are in fight scenes than quick cuts.

The fight also has a nice move where he kicks a guy’s head through a wooden plank, and the featurette is really interesting because it explains how they did it: they had him kick a guy’s head through a wooden plank. Of course it was not very strong wood, but they show how he actually had to kick the guy hard to try to get it through, and he failed the first couple of times. I’m sure Dibiase is used to taking alot of hits in the ring (and seeing it happen to other people, since his dad, two brothers, grandma and step-grandpa were all pro wrestlers) so it means something when he’s in complete awe of the toughness of the Thai stunt crew.

One of the other action highlights is a foot chase. I noticed that in this scene Reine has some wobbly handheld COPS or LAWMAN type shots, but these always switch to clear, steady shots and plenty of overheads to show the layout of where the characters are, where they’re headed and what they’re surrounded by. I think Kathryn Bigelow did something similar in that great foot chase in POINT BREAK. Wherever Reine got it from I think he’s doing it exactly right – injecting a little shakycam flavoring for that visceral deep-in-the-shit thrill so many directors are foolishly looking after, but without sacrificing the important ingredient of knowing what the hell is going on in order to be excited about it.

There’s nothing real original about this movie, it’s all based on cliches and formulas. But these are cliches and formulas that most filmatists these days just abuse and take advantage of us with. Reine actually makes a solid, enjoyable movie out of it. Congratulations to Reine, WWE Films and the Dibiase family. And Virgil if he helped at all.

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 Sunday, February 13th, 2011 at 12:18 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

68 Responses to “The Marine 2”

  1. Aw man, Vern. This movie was sent to me and I waited, and I figured if it were any good, Vern would have reviewed it by now. So now I’ve got to go buy it back! :)

  2. “who is now a big time wrestler”

    Vern – slight correction from a smark: Junior is languishing in the WWE mid-card and flopped with several storylines, including bringing back the old man’s “Million Dollar Belt” which did nothing for him. His problem might be that he’s remarkably bland in the ring, with a personality coming off as wooden as Woody Woodpecker’s breakfast.

    Last I checked, they’re trying to revive his career by having him work a feud with (the excellent ring-worker) Daniel Bryan*, who could “rassle” with a mop and make said mop look like Ricky Steamboat. So hey why not, its worth a try for management. But Junior just smells Midcard for Life.

    Anyway as for MARINE 2, I’ll check it out now because of you mate. The first one was so fucking dull, lifeless, incompetent, along with a historically inappropriate punchline involving child molestation by a guidance counselor….I loathed that crap. Plus it wasted perfectly fresh Robert Patrick. Boo!

    Tell me Vern, is MARINE 2 better, worse, or on par with 12 ROUNDS?

    *=or Bryan Danielson, that name change confused the shit out of me and other wrestling fans. Imagine Michael Shawns or Austin Stevenson.

  3. I thought the main guy in this one had way more charisma than John Cena also his physique looks normal, like an actual guy unlike Cena who looks like he suffers from elephantitis.

  4. Y’see, THIS is what I come to this site for. I’ll be checking this one out presently and will let y’all know what I think.

    Ted Dibiase’s son, eh? Damn.

  5. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they would make another sequel in which DiBiase Jr teams up with one of Irwin R. Shyster’s sons?

  6. Pro wrestling seems to be too dangerous these days: there’s been far too many deaths where the wrestler was in his prime but suddenly his heart gave out. (Some say steroids are to blame, others blame the crushing work schedules with too little rest between bouts, but I don’t know.)

    So I’d rather see DiBiase Jr. quit pro wrestling and go full-time actor. (Sad to say, as I actually used to enjoy pro wrestling.)

  7. I happened to enjoy THE MARINE because it’s just so goddamned idiotic and over-the-top, and it’s funny in that “That joke you told is not funny but it’s funny that you thought it was” kind of way, but I agree that this one is by far the better movie. If they could have imported some of the humongous explosions from the first one into the sequel, we’d really have something here.

  8. A.R.Yngve – Why the high # of deaths? Its both reasons along with a lack of governmental (local, state, or federal) regulation from safety to drug testing to whatever. Of course to be fair, such strict regulation would effectively put the flea market/pub/high school gym Independent “Indie” wrestling out of business, which is where 99.9% of American wrestlers (or anyone not working “big leagues” for WWE or TNA) work to pay the bills.

    Taryn Mahen – I know what you mean. Personally, without any proof whatsoever, I always had the impression that Mr. Cena has peddled “the gas” if you get my drift. It might explain why he has a frequent series of freakish muscle tears. In fact his physique reminded me of similar ridiculous muscle-to-budy proportions in a certain Chris Benoit.

    Just saying.

  9. @RRA

    For my two cents, Marine 2 is vastly superior to 12 Rounds. As Vern noted, the action is much more clearly staged in Marine 2 and it is a whole lot more fun.

    I personally enjoyed the heck out of Marine 2, and it made me ask the obvious question. Why can’t Rooker get steady, quality gigs? The guy is genius when he has a role.

    Also, as a side note to all with Blu-Ray capabilities – Marine 2 on Blu has one rocking audio mix. It is actually one of the best I have heard, so I would recommend going that route if at all possible.

  10. Temuera Morrison needs to get into a Tarantino movie or something, because that guy is really underrated. He’s fantastic in Once Were Warriors (and the sequel which isn’t that good otherwise) in a really tough role. Most actors are afraid to play genuine assholes who struggle to be good without asking for sympathy, but he does it perfectly as Jake. That little bit of dialogue in Episode II that he has with Obi-Wan is one of only 2 scenes in all three of the films that has some subtext to the acting(the other being the Opera in Ep III).
    Once Were Warriors also teaches kids the important lesson that being big and strong is no match for fast and mean as fuck.

    As for Virgil… ouch: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v93/oddice/virgil.jpg

  11. Actually this is how Dibiase Jr. fired Virgil, Vern:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syUNXmlBPKg
    Which you have to admit is pretty funny.
    Also, there WAS an expectation that his character would take a turn to being a good guy, based both on the upcoming release of Marine 2 and him being in a storyline where he was one of the mistreated underlings in a bad guy faction, where it seemed the logical outcome was them standing up to their leader and becoming good guys…though said leader ended up being popular despite acting like a massive prick (and still does) and HE was made the good guy instead and their standing up to him was treated like a betrayal he was avenging himself for.
    Things seemed hopefull when they played up his lineage more, having the Million Dollar belt and hiring Virgil, though that lost a bit of steam. He’s currently involved in the aforementioned Daniel Bryan feud for the US Championship, though it’s been going on for a while and Ted’s not really came out of it the best, having recently been embarassed having been knocked on his ass by 60-something Jerry Lawler, who’s more an announcer these days than wrestler.

  12. CJ, It is funny you say that, IRS’s son is scheduled to make is WWE debut.

  13. Oh and Johnny Knoxville got the better of him too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNQOAL3I5aI

  14. Vern, I also heard the WWE films BEHIND ENEMY LINES: COLOMBIA staring Mr. Anderson AKA Mr. Kennedy is supposed to be pretty good. If you liked this I would check it out.

  15. Actually, one of IRS’s sons has been wrestling for a while, under the stupid, stupid name: “Husky” Harris

  16. Stu & RRA, you guys are right WWE has jobbed Jr. out pretty bad and squandered what potential he had coming out of Legacy. It is pretty Sad that Cody Rhodes has had a better post Legacy run then Dibiase, and that is not saying much.

  17. Stu, I didn’t realize Husky Harris was Mike Rotunda’s son, but I have not stayed up with wrestling recently as much as I have in the past. The WWE product is stale and TNA is a mess, so it is hard for me to get invested in either of them. There is also a serious drought in young talent at this point but there are a few young guys I really enjoy like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.

  18. Shit, man, I liked the first Marine. Like Majestyk said, it’s ridiculous and over-the-top and kinda hard not to cheer for when you and a few mates set your drunken minds to it.

    Speaking of movies most people didn’t like but I did: Am I the only one thought that The Losers was one of the most enjoyable action movies of last year? I’d love to see a sequel or two.

  19. Knox: Seems like me and you are on the same page. I liked THE LOSERS, too, probably more than THE A-TEAM. I thought Jason Patrick was a great villain (when did that guy get a sense of humor?) and the final ‘splosion was hilariously unlikely. I like to think that was their plan all along: Through a convoluted series of events that no one could have foreseen and requiring split-second timing we will launch the turncoat’s motorcycle headfirst at an airplane. What could go wrong?

  20. I liked THE LOSERS too! Found it a funny touch that Clay wears the same suit all the way through the movie, military gear notwithstanding.

  21. I can’t agree with you guys about THE LOSERS. I do agree with Majestyk that Patrick was good in it and I thought Chris Evans was good in it as well, but despite some decent parts I just couldn’t enjoy it because I hated the direction. It was so heavy handed and over the top it prevented me from just enjoying what was an otherwise fun action movie.

  22. I think The Loser is pretty astonishing in its excellence. I love it when he shoots the lady who got blown back by the wind and thus failed to protect him from the sun or whatever. It was the best men on a mission movie of 2010 by a long shot.

  23. However, I do agree with you guys about THE MARINE it was lovable in a totally inept way.

  24. Yeah, it’s one of the few “team” movies where I loved every single member. It’s all about the team chemistry and one-on-one tension for me. Loved it. Makes me wish I had my own personal sniper, like Cougar.

    I do wish we could see more of Jason Patrick. He’s such a consistently good actor. I guess my favourite role of his would have to be that asshole he played in Your Friends and Neighbours.

    Shit, I’m gonna go watch Narc now.

  25. brandon, not to give you a hard time, but I can see how someone might enjoy THE LOSERS but to say it “is pretty astonishing in its excellence” seems like a stretch. The Expendables was a flawed mess but I would say it was as good as if not better then THE LOSERS.

  26. @Charles, I wish I could get on the same page with “The Expendables”, but the action is so badly directed after the wonderfully choreographed chaos of “Rambo” that it’s just unacceptable. “The Expendables” also carries the baggage of expectations that “The Losers” doesn’t. Also, since we’re on the subject of men on a mission movies– am I the only person who thinks “Red” is an enormous piece of shit?

    Double also, “The Losers” is as much fun (and more) as the trailer promises. That’s pretty rare, thus it qualifies for excellence. I apologize if my affection suddenly became a backhanded compliment.

  27. Knox/Stu/Majestyk – Funny when back last April I recommended THE LOSERS to this web sight, I was the only one if I remember right that actually saw it in theatres and hell Vern if I remember right too didn’t even bother until DVD (but that’s ok, so did rest of the world).

    I mean that’s good, I enjoyed LOSERS. I’m not keeping it to myself. Haven’t seen it again since then, but I thought it was a fully functional successful “team” adventure in the vein of SNEAKERS (which is better, but nevermind) its just pity that WB fucking dropped the ball on the release.

    Also here’s a thought: It was produced by Joel Silver, who for the last 25 something years, he’s tried and failed many many many times to get that SGT. ROCK movie made. This is the closest we’ll get to that I suppose.

  28. Stu – To give Randall Orton credit, he has one thing that Ted Jr. and Cody lack: Charisma. Not a great example of it, but better to have some than none.

    In a way he had what happened to Steve Austin back in 1996 when he became “Stone Cold” the housewrecking foulmouth villain: He got insanely over whether it be from his “Austin 3:16” promo to (unprovoked) attacking his boss to refusing to submit to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania.

    Not that I’m saying Orton is on the level of Austin (no way), but none the less sometimes a heel becomes so damn popular with T-shirts flying off the racks or the crowd chanting along with his signature lines, sometimes the promotion is forced to turn them hero. It happened to Austin, it happened to Undertaker, and eventually it’ll happen to The Miz.

    Charles – I would also add The Miz, and two others that management is high on with their pushes: John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler. Problem with those is, Morrison is a phenomenal worker and Dolph is very solid, maybe underrated. Except both have the personalities on the microphone like that of paint thinner. That’s why Miz is the WWE Champion, and Morrison is still mid-card.

    But WWE, I give them credit for now trying to get those two over with the crowd using horizontal booking: Morrison the physics-defying acrobat face (watch that recent RAW battle royale and his incredible escapes) and heel Ziggler having heat-magnet Vickie Guerrero as his mouthpiece.

    Oh hell, I’ll another name that’s not young by any means but he’s done rather awesome (IMO) as basically the new Million Dollar Man: Alberto Del Rio. Shit-eating smug grin that can’t be trained or taught, winning clean surprisingly on a consistent basis for a heel, and sells the hell out of his opponent’s offense.

    So there is hope for the WWE as it is facing change-over pains. HBK retired, Batista retired, crippled Undertaker is on his last legs (this will be his last year I’m sure), Triple H is on the downside of his career, Rey Mysterio Jr. doesn’t have many years left on his shattered knees, and even Edge says he’ll be retired within 3 years. Even less for Chris Jericho whenever that master comes back.

    Come to think of it, I’m still surprised WWE never set a movie around Jericho. Dude has legendary personality and charisma. I mean if Ted Jr. can get a DTV picture, why not Y2J? I’m certain Miz gets a picture in the future.

  29. brandon, no need for apologizes. I actually agree with everything you said about THE EXPENDABLES. I just don’t agree with everyone’s positive take on THE LOSERS. I guess I will have to check it out again, and see if it holds up on a second viewing, but I hated how it seemed like every other shot had to be in slow-mo and cut to a top forty rock song. I know a number of people feel this was intentional and the movie is supposed to be somewhat of a parody, but it ruined the film for me. Especially because there were parts and performances I liked, but the were drowned in the heavy handed direction.

  30. RRA, I saw THE LOSERS for free at an AICN screener in theaters and did not dig it.

  31. RRA: I’m sure I recommended it too. The only The Losers Vern seems to have seen is the biker movie though.

    As for Orton, I feel it’s the charisma that only works for a heel and a one note one at that. He can glare and look like a sociopath really well, but it usually goes to crap when he opens his mouth. Not to mention the fact nothing has changed in terms of how his character acts, talks or wrestles to incorpate the face turn, and it’s baffling how he’s meant to be a face when he’s going around intentionally kicking people in the head and saying he’d do the same to his own grandmother if it helped him win the title.

  32. RRA, I agree with you about Alberto Del Rio and the Miz. Both are excellent heels. The problem with wrestling now is that the territory system is dead and wrestling has become a very produced TV product that does not allow for spontaneity or originality. Before the death of the territory system (and a legitimate number 2 wrestling organization for that matter) wrestlers could really develop their craft and persona going from territory to territory. It forced them to learn how to pop a crowd and draw money, but these days guys are put on TV and somebody writes everything that comes out of their mouths, and they never really learn how to draw money or get over. Also, during the territory days if you had a bad run with a company you could go somewhere else and reinvent yourself, but now if you go to the WWE and they saddle you with a bad gimmick and/or angle it can taint you in the eyes of the fans and you are not left with a lot of legitimate options.

  33. Charles/Stu – Alright fair enough, thats why I said “if I remember right.”

    Stu – He is one-note, but sometimes one-note can go a long way. You all know Wrestlecrap, right? Website that celebrates/destroys bad wrestling gimmicks/matches/storylines? Well every year they vote for the Gobbledy Gooker, the “worst” in wrestling of that year.

    It didn’t win*, but that Edge/Kane storyline maybe should have. Long-time dependable villain Edge (maybe best WWE heel of the 2000s?), now the hero for some reason out of default, kidnaps Kane’s “father” Paul Bearer and tortures him, taunting Kane for weeks on end until he tricks the Big Red Lug into “killing” his own father.

    And again all this done by the “hero.”

    Charles – Pretty much. The only “territory”, if we want to use that term for Independent wrestling which WWE/TNA scoop up the brightest “new” talents from, would have to be Ring of Honor (ROH) or Chikira or something of that sorts.

    I mean CM Punk as you know, in WWE he’s basically reusing his holier-than-thou prick persona from his ROH Champion days and same with Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson getting over with his wrestling.

    Of course sometimes even ROH bright spots for whatever reason can fail in the WWE, whether it be Colt Cabana (as Scotty Goldman) or Low-Ki (as Kaval). Cabana I thought could do wonders since he can wrestle and have a good personality, but no he went nowhere.

    Or hell, I don’t understand why TNA hasn’t done dick with Nigel McGuinness (aka Desmond Wolfe), who signed him around same time WWE signed Daniel Bryan. Like Punk, McGuinness in ROH was that sort of adorable obnoxious dick who has the personality, the wrestling talent and skills that can be the MVP of your promotion. Think Edge.

    And yet he/TNA have done nothing, and shit the dude hasn’t even been on TNA TV since December. There were rumors when he signed that WWE passed on him because of an undisclosed failing of a Physical, and apparently same “failing” is what’s got him benched for him. I would hate if his career got curtailed before it had the chance to blossom.

    *=2010 winner btw was the utter failure that was the “New Monday Night War” between WWE RAW and TNA Monday Night, which basically ended before it began with a total defeat for TNA.

  34. Brandon, I didn’t like Red either. It’s funny, but the action sucks. They shoot Helen Mirren with the machine gun in closeup, so you don’t even really see her wielding it. They had some cool bits like Bruce getting out of the still spinning car, but where is it going and where is he headed? Does not come together at all. Especially disappointing because it’s not shaky. They had steady shots but still messed up the direction.

    Speaking of which, Birdemic: Shock and Terror arrived in the mail. Can anyone give me a heads up on that?

  35. I guess I should rent THE LOSERS (non biker version) then. As for RED, I saw it and had planned to review it but it was just so mediocre that it kind of left my brain while I was working on a bunch of other reviews. I sort of liked Bruce’s relationship with the girl, and I seem to remember a couple good action moments (the spinning car part from the trailer, some CGI guy-getting-hit-by-a-rocket or something that I rewound a couple times) but it was a pretty half-assed version of an old joke. And if I remember right it had that kind of music I hate where it’s constantly reminding you “hey, this is real quirky and cute, isn’t it!” and makes the whole thing much less enjoyable.

    Helen Mirren firing that gun was cool, but she was funnier in SHADOWBOXER.

  36. @FTopel, Birdemic is so awesomely terrible and I couldn’t finish it, but the sync was also way off and I didn’t have the desire to finish it on anything less than a 32 inch HDTV (you won’t be plagued with sync issues, mine was a download).

    It’s really funny and most of the dialogue sounds like a conversation someone might be asked to write for a beginner’s ESL class. Come to think of it, the acting, which I assume is done by all native English speakers, sounds like people are being fed their lines and delivering them phonetically a la “Sukiyaki Western Django” but more stilted.

    Don’t even get me started on the special effects, they remind me of an old toy called Colorforms which you should Google if you don’t remember.

  37. Vern, like “Back in the Saddle Again?” Because you know, they used to be heroes, then they retired, but now they’re actually doing their jobs again after their retirement from the metaphorical saddle. I think you just gave the perfect explanation for not bothering to review a movie.

    Brandon, I’m pretty much sold. I do have my own hard copy DVD and a 54″ TV (what, Severin Video and Moviehead Pictures couldn’t spring for a Blu-ray?) Can anyone second Brandon to push me over the edge?

  38. Not totally on topic, but I did a video interview with Gore Verbinski today where I asked him about “post-action.” Just trying to spread the gospel of Vern.

  39. Nice to hear there is another DTV Florentine’ish-type director rising up through the ranks.

    Vern – You should interview this ‘Roel Reine’ dude. It’d be great to hear you discuss shaky-cam being balanced with wide-geography-establishing-mastershots and so on…

    This is why I come here now: to find out about good DTV action without having to trudge through all the awful shit, and hear you talk about these films in an amusing, yet articulate and informative manner.

    Thanks for that.

  40. Like you Vern, I checked out The Marine 2 on the strength of Death Race 2 and was pleasantly entertained, and that two-on-one fight sequence was definitely a standout. I enjoyed the first Marine movie, but mainly because Robert Patrick was having such a ball with the villain role. Cena has yet to bring the charisma and personality he shows in WWE to the big screen. And on the subject of WWE, someone please give Edge his own movie.

    And on the subject of Steve Austin, Hunt to Kill is pretty decent too, wiht a nice fight with Gary Daniels.

  41. Anyone play the Smackdown vs. Raw video games? In addition to a typical “career” mode, there’s 5 or so storyline modes where you get a personalized story for each wrestler you’re playing. Some of these are actually better than the real wrestling storylines – like in John Cena’s 2009 storyline, where you’re avenging a fictional army buddy who gets injured in Afghanistan, and then beat down backstage with his own crutches by MVP. (Yeah, I can’t believe they went there either). Anyway, I noticed there’s usually one playable “bad guy”, and the writers usually get around the sympathy issue by a) making you act like a doofy, cocky bad guy, or making you get beat down by a worse bad guy and out for revenge.

    But not with Orton’s storyline in 2010. Having just finished it this weekend, I kinda can’t believe the writers went to the places they went (SPOILERS) – you try to end Undertaker’s career, beat up YOUR OWN DAD, treat your underlings (Dibiase/Rhodes) like crap, then kidnap and beat up THEIR DADS, beat up people who try to help you, etc… There’s really nothing redeeming about Orton’s character or behavior in the game, which is funny because he basically acts the same in real life and he’s a good guy now!

  42. Hey Vern,
    I’m sure you will hate me for it but I loved The Marine.
    I loved that the guy had so much love for his girl that he was willing to go through all of the stuff that he did.

    I like that the girl wasn’t just some simpering bimbo but actualy strong enough to try to help herself.

    Plus you can’t go wrong with a crapload of violence and a Terminator!

  43. I´m glad I´m not the only one enjoying the silly as shit original. Bought The Marine 2 at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago and was expecting something similar. I was initially disappointed,but realized at the same time that WWE Studios had done a pretty good b-action-movie.
    Even if I found the first movie much more entertaining and Cena a better action-guy.
    No fan of Ted DiBiase and if The Marine is no Commando and John Cena is no Schwarzenegger, that means that Ted DiBiase is no John Cena in my opinion. If anyone is bland it´s DiBiase. Don´t care for him as a wrestler. Just my thoughts. i actually enjoy watching these WWE Studios produced movies.
    The think The Condemned is still the best movie they´d produced that I´ve seen.

  44. I loved the original The Marine. I especially loved that they recognized that the female lead couldn’t really act, so they just put her in skin tight jeans and had a dude carry her over his shoulder for like half the movie. I’ve never watched WWE once in my life, but I love that kind of logic in my exploitation cinema.

  45. Here is another reason why I hate Randy Orton. Steve Austin was called the Rattlesnake but he didn’t start acting like a snake. Randy Orton is called the viper and he ends up doing these ridiculous snake like movements. He’s an asshole.

  46. Randy Orton especially Snakelike in the way he’ll shit in a gym bag… wait.

  47. The swedish dvd-cover of The Marine 2 has the american flag in the background removed and instead there´s a white background.It clearly states in swedish law that you can´t promote other countries flags in a violent context for profit.

  48. Hey Vern,

    Can you give us a heads up on SWAT: Firefight? Not a fan of Benny Boom but good cast and the SWAT franchise could be good for DTV action.

    Thanks

  49. I tell ya, wasn’t The Rock returning to RAW last night fucking amazing? 411mania.com may have said it best about that ending: “If you didn’t mark out for this segment, why are you still watching wrestling?”

    Also good news (just kidding) for CJ Holden: That show is now available in the Deutchland.

    Well at least that’s what RAW claimed so there you go.

  50. I think Raw has always been in Germany, but Pay TV only. We definitely get a 1 hour version of Smackdown every week.

  51. RRA: Absolutely. Not sure what I liked best: the jabs at Cena or him putting Cole in his place just like used to in the old days, only this time he actually deserves it.

  52. After re-watching THE MARINE, I stand by in that this is a much quirkier movie than it´s sequel. WWE could have made a really ridiculous franchise out of the first one, instead they made a well-made,entertaining but generic DIE HARD/ UNDER SIEGE knock-off that didn´t have squat do do with the first. Why name it THE MARINE 2 when the only thing common these flicks have is that the hero is a marine??. I liked that Rome hade more rapport with his goons than usual villains. Í loved that stupid fucking main titles with the flag and everything, that insane assault on the al quaida camp, I loved when Rome was talking on the phone and telling his associate to get fucked and puts him on hold for another call, to confirm his sportschannel-subscription! Just weird little touches like this makes it more memorable than it´s sequel to me anyways. The emotionalimpact is greater due to how the movie tickle my funny bone and it´s unusual characters. If they were going to make a third MARINE movie I´d sure hope to see more adventures of John Triton. Where Robert Patrick returns as Rome´s twinbrother; Paris. And we would have dialogue exchanges like:
    “Where the fuck do you come from,Paris?”
    “France,Europe..”

  53. Oh boy. I’m gonna be THAT GUY again, the one who disagrees with you all. Disclaimer here: I’ve only watched an hour of this film. Second disclaimer: saying “it gets interesting after the first hour” is NOT a valid recommendation, and that apparently is what happens since I haven’t got to any of the good bits highlighted in Vern’s review.

    I mean, come on guys, this site is supposed to be “striving for excellence”. If this film is better than “The Marine” then all I gotta say is that “The Marine” must be pretty bad. To me it’s closer to the only Seagal film that Vern and I completely disagree on, which is “Hard to Kill”, and for mostly the same reasons.

    But let’s get the good out of the way first. The cinematography is great, and the scoring is also very good. It looks and sounds pretty. In the pantheon of movies that look and sound great while also treating their audience like retarded six-year-olds with ADD, “The Marine 2” is right up there with “Mission: Impossible 2”. (“Hard to Kill” doesn’t count because although it looks good, it has a terrible score – one of the worst I can recall, in fact).

    To see why I took against this movie as much as I did, you first have to realise that I spent a good deal of it thinking of the other, better movies that it was ripping off. Even “Cliffhanger” made the list at one point (and I’m no Cliffhanger fan). A whole host of films set in similar areas that look like Thai or South Pacific islands (not sure exactly where “The Marine 2” is set, nor do I particularly care) from “The Beach” to “The Man with the Golden Gun”, all the “Die Hard” films, etc.

    My second point is that you have dull characters played by even worse actors. The wife’s boss is a ridiculous character – totally unlikeable, and indeed dislikes and is disliked by everyone he interacts with in the film. (This guy is supposed to be a semi-visionary who pretty much designed an entire resort and managed to get the backing of a lot of very rich people in the process. Is the film seriously trying to claim that this asshole idiot did all of that?)

    Joe and his wife apparently have a perfect relationship despite him being an insensitive jerk who’s away from her for most of the year. Indeed, when he shows his insensitivity by tackling the boss who insults him for no apparent reason THE SECOND TIME HE MEETS HIM, he appears to be doing his absolute best to get his wife fired. Although the boss has a point – why the hell is his most trusted employee spending her time making out with her guy on beaches?

    The worst part is none of these three can act. Watching Joe and wife trying to act buddy-buddy with Michael Rooker (who of course is instantly friends with Joe as a fellow military man, although there’s some rivalry because there were in different branches of the military. Jeez, guys, we’re breaking new ground here!) was literally painful. There’s an unintentionally hilarious moment where Joe’s wife gets kidnapped and we get an emphasized, dramatic scream of “JOE!” at the very end of the scene, with a freeze frame on her agonized face, and I think we’re supposed to care. To use a Vern-ism, this is like if Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character from “Garfield” was suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer.

    Ok, so we’ve established that the characters are bad, the acting is terrible, and Michael Rooker puts everyone else in the movie to shame. What none of this quite conveys is the whole stupidity of the thing. We’re talking “Armageddon”-levels of stupidity. We’re talking “Batman and Robin” levels of stupidity. Let’s give an example. When the terrorists first attack, Joe manages to kill one of them silently, without any of the others noticing. The terrorists are wearing identical clothes and comms units, masks that completely cover their faces, and all have identical weapons. DAMN, if only there was some way to use this stuff!

    I was looking forward to watching Joe attack stealthily, pretending to be one of them, but nope… doesn’t happen, he attacks a small army of gunmen with his bare hands. And it’s not like the guy has anything against guns, like it’s a Bruce Lee movie or something; HE’S A FUCKING SNIPER.

    And going back to that… the American troops send two men in, without backup, to stop an arms deal, or assassinate someone taking part in it (they never quite make the objective of the mission clear). They know almost nothing about their enemy – at one point a “big fish” terrorist appears and they clearly have no idea that he’s supposed to be there – and don’t even bother to secure the rooftop that they’re using as a vantage point.

    Fortunately, their enemy, despite bringing along a freaking MORTAR for self-defence, decide that they’re not going to post any guards on the rooftops. Nor does it ever occur to them to try and get up to the sniper’s nest rather than shooting futilely from the ground, despite the fact that one of the terrorist’s KIDS (hear the scream of “Daddy” when the first guy gets shot by the marines?) apparently does the same thing without the Americans even noticing him. And… oh fuck it, I don’t need to go on here. It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb.

    In conclusion… I didn’t hate this movie, in sort of the same way that I didn’t hate “Transformers” – I just sat there, bemused, wondering why the hell anybody would ever think it was a good idea to make something this braindead and try to pass it off as a movie. To say I’m baffled by the apparent respect for it here is an understatement. To me it’s just a big dumb mess; it looks and sounds good, but everything else about it is just… nothing. There are no real characters. Nothing interesting happens. There are no moments (so far) that have made me think “WOW that was great”. Nothing.

    Ah well, after enjoying “Truck Turner” I guess I was due for a disappointment anyhow.

  54. I didn’t bring no violin.

  55. Ouch… I am cut… to the quick. **Dies.**

  56. But seriously Paul. I’m not gonna try to convince you to like the movie. But the review did make it very clear that I thought there was a great fight scene in the middle and chase scene at the end. Would it have killed you to at least fast forward to those before comparing it to literally the stupidest movie ever made? I know I used the B&R bomb on Transformers 2, but I think that can be defended and I’m prepared to do so. To use it on a movie like this that no reasonable person could think was even remotely comparable is both reckless and irresponsible.

  57. Vern… I get that there are some good fight scenes in it, by direction standards… I will watch them, for a technical standpoint if nothing else. But the thing is, in terms of treating its audience like morons, I think this movie is easily comparable to the likes of “T3” and “Armageddon” and a bunch of other movies. It’s just so ridiculously dumb. Too much so for me, I’m afraid. I can’t enjoy a movie if I don’t believe in / care about anybody in it.

    I think “Transformers” is a good comparison (in everything other than action direction at least) because I didn’t HATE “Transformers”, I just couldn’t understand why anybody would ever choose to make a movie that was that stupid. This is fairly similar. I don’t believe soldiers would act like that, I don’t believe terrorists would act like that. I don’t believe they’d bring along a mortar but forget to arm the roofs, or that it wouldn’t occur to them to at least try and attack the rooftop from inside instead of leaving themselves open to sniper fire in the street. Maybe I’m under-rating it. Maybe there’s a subtle barb in the fact that the American soldiers in this movie are so stupid, they can’t even secure a rooftop; but I don’t think so, I just think it’s plot-convenient idiocy.

    Or in other words, saying there’s a few good scenes (in the second half of the movie) might be a credit to the action director, but it sure as heck ain’t a defence of the movie.

    Is “B&R” the stupidest movie ever made? I know it has a deservedly terrible reputation, but I also know it’s one of those movies that had the pressure of fans on it to perform, and earnt their ire when it didn’t. If you asked me, for example, which was worse – “Batman and Robin” or “Speed 2” – I’d have to go with “Speed 2”, because at least B&R had some kind of value for pure empty spectacle. Speed 2 didn’t even have that.

  58. Yeah, BATMAN AND ROBIN and TRANSFORMERS 2 are more fun to watch than many other terrible movies because they’re so aggressively tasteless and befuddling on so many different levels that it’s more interesting than just being dry and inept. But that’s why it’s a bad comparison.

    What I’m saying is that “I felt the military strategy of the movie was unrealistic” is not equal to “a typical scene of the movie involves George Clooney in a rubber fetish outfit and ice skates handing over a ‘bat credit card’ to pay for the damage he did during a fight in a museum.”

  59. Let’s not turn this into a debate about Batman and Robin, though. I know it’s one of your favorites so I’ll lay off.

  60. Ouch… I am cut… to the quick. **Dies.**

    Hey, look at that! Deja vu!

    (I can’t comment on “Transformers 2” though because I haven’t seen it. What do you think I am, a masochist with a taste for epileptic seizures brought on by unrealistic flashy robot animations?)

  61. Also, I don’t think there are enough “how bad is Batman and Robin” threads on the Internet. We need to make MORE!

  62. THE MARINE is a much funnier movie to watch than it´s un-related sequel. And by the way, what the fuck has THE MARINE 2 got to do with the original.To me it´s the GREASE 2 of action-movies. I know I said it was a decent action-movie, but after watching it again; It just pissed me off of how much it ripped me of. if you are making a sequel, stick to the formula. If not you could call it something else.

  63. Hi guys, late to the party but as a kid I always wondered how Virgil could put up with all that crap, which led to me wondering how black people in general could have put up with so much crap, which led to me listening to EPMD. So I guess I owe my race and class consciousness to Ted Dibiase, so I should thank him by seeing this film his kid was in, so I will go check it out, thanks Vern.

  64. So has anybody around here heard of a film called BLACK RIVER, it stars Hulk Hogan as a serial killer and DDP as the lead who has to foil Hogans dastardly plans. I am do not think it has been released yet, and I do not know when or if it will be released, but I am amusing it it a DTV release.

  65. Wow, WWE must be in love with serial killing roles. There was one recently one with Kurt Angle as a serial killer. Bet that was a gem.

  66. All I could see while watching this was: Muscle bound Judge Reinhold vs Jake the muss.

  67. It’s weird to call this over-rated, but it’s not very good outside of the excellent three-way fight and the awesome foot chase ending. Those two scenes are so good they make this a must-see (or fast forward through) for DTV action fans, even though the rest is kind of a slog to get through. Is it possible the Florentines and Hyams have dangerously elevated the quality of DTV so much that our previously low expectations are now TOO high??

    Btw, Dibiase is aggressively OK here, but as a wrestling presence he’s so forgettable I literally didn’t notice he was gone until this movie reminded me he existed. Like, i still watch WWE every week and if you told me he was still somewhere wrestling in the midcard and not (as I just learned via wikipedia) gone since last year, I would have believed you.

  68. I do kind of think that’s true about Hyams and Florentine raising our expectations too high for DTV. I occasionally get invited to write another piece on the state of DTV action and I regrettably have to say there’s not much to report. I love that alot of the younger, more academic than me writers have caught on to the movement, but I don’t agree when they put Roel Reine or anyone else really in the same category as those two you mentioned. Reine’s done several that I like but Hyams and Florentine are the only two where they are so distinct and consistent that we know Hollywood is fucking crazy not to give them money to make theatrical movies. And also we have to fear that if the money men ever get their heads out of their asses and do that then we’ll sort of “lose” them and won’t get down and dirty low budget action anymore.

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