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

Safe

tn_safeI think SAFE is easily one of Jason Statham’s best starring vehicles so far. It’s a less cartoonish tone than the TRANSPORTERs (and obviously the fuckin CRANKs) but still firmly planted in the world of action movies, where one guy if he’s tough enough can use his brains, fists and guns to take on two warring gangs and a corrupt police force. So it’s probly somewhere in between THE MECHANIC and BLITZ on the seriousness charts, but a little more fun than either of them.

I don’t know if it’s clear – I’m not talking about the Julianne Moore one, I’m talking about the Jason Statham one.


Statham’s character Luke Wright is more of an everyman than he usually plays, because he’s totally down on his luck. In a way he’s the anti-Transporter. He does drive a couple times, but only stolen cars, and he doesn’t make it far without getting a bunch of bullets through his windows. He doesn’t have a nice car like Frank Transporter, in fact he doesn’t have a car at all, or much of anything else. He’s homeless. He doesn’t wear a suave suit, he wears a stained sweatshirt and even when he uses a credit card stolen from a Russian gangster to buy nicer clothes he keeps his ratty worn out tennis shoes (probly on account of an incident earlier in the movie caused by his nicest pair of kicks). I think this is significant. He’s a guy that doesn’t need luxury, maybe thinks he doesn’t deserve it, only uses it as a disguise, and even then only as much as he needs.

As he’s building himself back up for revenge it was easy to notice that this character has some Parker-esque qualities. Man, I hope that movie is good.

mp_safeHe does try to protect an Asian girl like the Transporter did, but not because he was hired to. He does it because as he’s about to commit suicide he sees her being chased by the same assholes that murdered his wife ’cause he owed them money. A sign from God. Her name is Mei and she’s a math prodigy who has some very valuable numbers memorized, so she’s a human McMuffin.

SAFE is written and directed by Boaz Yakin. That’s the guy that was a writer on the Dolph version of THE PUNISHER, then THE ROOKIE, then in 1994 became a director with the excellent FRESH. Since then he hasn’t really done the type of movies I’ve been interested in seeing (he directed A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES, REMEMBER THE TITANS, UPTOWN GIRLS…) other than having a part in writing FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2 and producing the HOSTELs. But I always thought he was good, so I had my fingers crossed for his return to action movies.

I’m not superstitious, but maybe the finger crossing helped. This is a movie that shows the sure hand of a director trying to do something interesting without completely violating the expectations of an action movie. Honoring the traditions but putting a little bit of a spin on them. It has a good use of a flashback structure, beginning with the crucial intersection of Luke and Mei’s lives, then bumping back to show how they got there, but catching up early on so we can continue in the present tense without any confusion. It has alot of what I think of as “propulsive stortyelling” – scenes that give you only the information you need and then cut immediately to the next thing you need instead of lingering. For example, Luke is first introduced in a cage about to fight, cut to him being chewed out by the other fighter’s wife as he tries to apologize for putting him in a coma. (Later it does have some fighting, so I was okay with it goofing on me at this point.)

IMDB lists UNDISPUTED II’s J.J. “Loco” Perry as one of the fight choreographers, but I swear the movie listed him only as stunt coordinator and somebody else whose name I forgot got a full screen “action choreographed by” credit. The action scenes do involve alot of handheld cameras, but in my opinion they’re well done and qualify as action, not post-action. Despite some chaos you can always see Statham’s moves and his hits, you know what he’s doing to the guy.

My favorite bits of action are the shootouts that make artful use of a limited perspective. There are two scenes where the camera is inside a car being attacked and the shooters can only be seen in the rear-view and side mirrors. I thought that was a clever alternative to the shakycam we hate, a way of putting you in the confusion of battle but still showing you something.

That’s in line with the style of other non-action scenes where certain things are left deliberately unshown. He gets interrogated by cops and you only see them from the shoulders down (they don’t have that Peanuts “wuh-wahhh-wuh-WUUUUHHhhh” type talking), he comes home to find his wife dead surrounded by Russian gangsters, and you only see him looking in a doorway and curling his fists in that way Statham often does that looks so cool. You never see his wife, or even blood. You don’t have to.

It’s kind of funny how you keep finding out more about Luke’s background. I was willing to accept that he could handle himself because he was a cage fighter, but then we find out another thing he used to do, and another. It kind of builds from him trying to stay out of trouble to going full on OUT FOR JUSTICE on some guys, and he has a great way of putting together a formidable team to back him up when he makes his move on the safe in a bid to make him and the girl safe. Oh shit, I think I just realized something about the title. It is possible that it has a double meaning. Probly not.

James Hong is in the movie. You expect a bunch of balloons to fall down and congratulate him on his 1,000th sleazy Asian mafia kingpin role. There are alot of good faces in the supporting cast, guys that look like they’ve been knocked around by life and remain standing. The only one I could place was Igor Jijikine, the scary lookin Russian from the opening of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and from Seagal’s DRIVEN TO KILL. I mean, I had to look up his name, but I knew it was the same guy. I noticed Danny Hoch in the credits, that’s the performance artist who did that movie WHITE BOYS, but I didn’t recognize him in the movie. Maybe if he’d done a freestyle.

The mayor is played by Chris Sarandon, and there’s another guy that looked similar to him, causing a momentary confusion for me that was enjoyable. I thought for a second they were telling me that the mayor was previously part of an elite hit squad. That would’ve been pretty good.

I like the score, especially during the end credits. It sounds very old school and hard-hitting, without a cute retro or tongue in cheekness about it. I was really surprised when I checked the credits and it was Wes Anderson’s chum Mark Mothersbaugh.

I did feel SAFE was guilty of one major action movie sin: during the climactic showdown it has the characters putting their guns down Mad Dog style so they can use their fists, then doesn’t have the fight. They make a joke out of it, but I don’t think the joke is as good as the fight would’ve been. It’s not a dealbreaker, though. And not as painful as the championship ring in THE MECHANIC being merely a clue and not the promise of a good fight that I read it as.

As I’m writing this I realize that Statham has a whole bunch of movies that I don’t consider great but that I enjoyed watching: DEATH RACE, THE MECHANIC, KILLER ELITE, the pretty good ensembles like ITALIAN JOB and BANK JOB. My favorite movie where he’s the star is TRANSPORTER 2, which is weird because I didn’t really like the other two very much, but that one was just so joyfully ridiculous. Even in his dull or annoying movies I always like him. Career-wise, not quality-wise, he’s the closest thing we have to a modern Bronson, Stallone, Schwarzenegger or whatever, a brand name for endless supplies of theatrically released action movies. There are plenty of people who will go see the new Statham movie and not even have to know what it’s about. And we don’t care that he’s always playing basically the same guy.

Does Statham have a DEATH WISH, a FIRST BLOOD, a TERMINATOR/CONAN/PREDATOR on his filmography to make him worthy of that status? Nope. But it could happen. SAFE isn’t on that level, but it’s a good one. It gives me faith that his best movies aren’t behind him.

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 Monday, May 7th, 2012 at 12:39 pm 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.

100 Responses to “Safe”

  1. One of the best ‘championship ring’ scenes is the introduction to The Rock’s character in The Rundown.
    For starters it does actually have a championship ring as well as topps style sports cards of all the other footballers he has to go through.

    To top it off you kind of get the idea that he is reluctantly beating the shit out of his favorite team.

    Some wonderful ideas in that film.

  2. One of those characters with the Topps-style sports card is named after a friend of mine because he is good friends with Jamie Vanderbilt, the screenwriter. That’s why there’s a Caucasian offensive lineman who went to Notre Dame named “Jamal Johnson.”

  3. I think J.J. had a lot to do with the choreography. At Actionfest he really knew the ins and outs of it.

    I think one thing that makes the handheld clear is that it’s not chopped up in editing. The camera turns to show what’s happening but stays in a continuous shot. I think Yakin had to go handheld for time/budget reasons and expectations of current action movies

    Agree I’d like to see the final fight but oh well, maybe another compromise. I would say SAFE is a HARD TO KILL/OUT FOR JUSTICE level entry in Statham’s oeuvre. Not a TERMINATOR /RAMBO for sure. I’m not sure he does have that built in audience though. His movies aren’t doing so well theatrically.

    Hey Vern, TRANSPORTER 2 is my favorite Statham movie too. Well, I guess CRANK 2 is but I consider that a Neveldine/Taylor joint.

  4. Bronson didn’t really become the Bronson we all love until his late 40’s, so I guess Statham’s best could come in 4, 5 or even 6 years time. And since we all seem to agree that there’s no really bad Statham movie out there, he could very well be the main supplier of good to great action movies for the next couple of decades. Sounds like there’s a book in here somewhere; The Kick-Ass Movies of Jason Statham?

  5. With me, I usually enjoy Statham movies, I just don’t often get out to the theaters to see them. So I’m part of the Statham built in audience, just not the built in theater going audience. Admittedly I don’t get out to the theaters much period either though, and I AM more likely to be inspired to get out and see a Statham movie than I am many other things…

  6. Obviously I’ve got to try to top Mr. Majestyk in the department of knowing someone twice-removed from a famous person, and luckily I can do so while staying on topic, so here’s 2 pictures of my good friend working with the prolific James Hong:

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3447304192/nm4114414
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3480858624/nm4114414

    That kid’s going places in the showbiz. I would recommend the movies in which my boy has co-starred, but, uh, that wouldn’t be fair to anyone who actually listens to my recommendations. Ask me in a couple years and maybe his resume will include something worth a damn.

    Good to hear SAFE doesn’t suck. I’ve read from some of the talkbackers that it might be good, but (no offense, Paul and Fred and whoever else kinda said good things about SAFE) nothing had totally convinced me yet. Now that it has the Vern seal of approval, I guess I’ll throw $8.50 at it later this week.

    Statham’s best movie is COLLATERAL, but that’s not fair to say b/c he has such a small role. His other best movie is SNATCH, but he doesn’t do the lead action star thing in that one. Same with LOCK, STOCK, AND 2 SMOKING BARRELS, which I really like. So, uh, yeah I, too, like his work as the Transportinator, especially when I mentally compress all the action scenes together and leave out the boring fluff scenes of the series.

  7. Bronson made DEATH WISH when he was 52, so Staham still has time. If he really wants to be Bronson, though, he needs to find two or three directors he likes working with who know how to showcase him properly and let them direct at least 75% of his movies. That’ll take most of the guesswork out of it. I’ve skipped his last several releases because I didn’t trust the people he had working with him.

    I guess maybe this Boaz Yakin guy isn’t an untested commodity, but I think I had him confused with Boaz Davidson, which made me think Millenium Films, which made me think EXPENDABLES, which made me think fuck you. I probably still would have skipped it anyway, but at least then it would have been for the right reasons.

    Speaking of Yakin, anyone else remember that none of the songs on the FRESH soundtrack were actually in the movie?

  8. Um, I do think Statham has made some bad movies. Though I haven’t seen the DTV ones I hated KILLER ELITE, WAR and even the boring BANK JOB and MECHANIC was so unmemorable. I guess IN THE NAME OF THE KING doesn’t count because it’s legendary.

    So I do consider a great Statham vehicle a special occasion, though I probably shouldn’t if I like the CRANKs, TRANSPORTERs and EXPENDABLES already.

  9. Wow, I had a choice today to see either this or The Raven. I saw The Raven. I think I made the wrong choice.

  10. Burton,

    You totally did, but it happens.

    Topel,

    No love for the Bank Job?

    Agree that Safe was much better than I would allow myself to hope for. And I loved Robert John Burke (Robocop 3)and the way Statham had an almost grudging respect for him in this movie. One of my favorite moments was the scene at the casino and the cut showing Statham being aware that Burke taook out one of his own guys and then the dialogue that followed once they were outside. Then the payoff at the end with the $50,000 being handed over. Nice work.

  11. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 7th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Well I thought “The Bank Job” was excellent. This wasn’t though. I thought it was ok. Lived up to its name far too much.

    And once again I prove myself a completely inaccurate barometer of “is Vern going to like this movie?” because I thought the stuff that bothered me about it would bother him a whole lot more. Apparently they bothered Vern a whole lot less.

    This is an okay movie but I don’t know who it’s aiming at. I don’t think it does anything particularly badly but I don’t think it really excels either. If it’s going for the art-school action-movie fans like myself, well, the characters, plot and Statham’s manoeuverings aren’t all that interesting, although it’s pretty well-paced. For the more hardcore action-movie fans, I’m surprised more people don’t have the same problem that I have with it being a 12A film – it pulls its punches when it needs to hit hardest – and for the “see one or two blockbusters a year” crowd, it isn’t as much of a fun spectacle as it might have been.

    So… yeah. That’s pretty much all I got.

  12. I’m sorry, but does anyone else find it funny that Jason Statham only has one facial expression?

    also Mark Mothersbaugh did the music? man that’s really weird (not only is he from Devo, but he also did the music for THE RUGRATS for crying out loud)

  13. I’m dissappointed this is tanking at the box office. I was getting tired of Statham’s recent output, but I also think “Safe” is one of his better films, with one of his more expressive and interesting action movie performances. His character’s relationship with the little girl was particularly well-handled; I actually thought the final scene managed to be affecting without giving in to sentimentality. Personally, I loved how the final confrontation was handled and was genuinely surprised by the resolution.

    Danny Hoch was the fight promoter guy who gets into an argument with Statham at the casino following the MMA match. And Reggie Lee deserves some credit for his performance as Mei’s gangster “father.” He had another memorable supporting role in “Drag Me to Hell” as the asshole co-worker.

  14. I love the parts where they just hold on Statham’s face, stoic but more expressive than we’ve ever seen him before.

  15. That slow zoom-in with the building horror movie type music while he’s sitting there contemplating execution by Russian gangsters in his house? That was intense.

  16. It seems a lot of people have something negative to say about Statham’s “recent output”. Excactly what movies are we talking about? How far back are we going?

  17. It was a shame that this tanked. The original planned release was damn near concurrent with Killer Elite (which fizzled anyway) so then it was moved to the same weekend as two other R-rated films, one of which (The Raven, another bomb) probably also suffered from being released against this film.

    It was like when Haywire and Underworld 4 opened on the same weekend, two films chasing the same audience, both starring kick butt females. Months will go by without any R-rated genre films getting a decent rollout. In fact the last ones to come out besides Safe/The Raven were Haywire/UW4, and then they all come out at once and movie execs wonder why nobody comes to see their product and then they greenlight Battleship.

    It sucks.

  18. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 8th, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Wait – R-rated? Really?

    Why?!

  19. Guys, shut up and let RRA do the talking. He’s the resident Jason Statham expert. Watch and learn.

  20. asimov – don’t me drag into this shit. And I’m about as much an expert on Statham as Majestyk is in geology.

    I won’t go see SAFE in theatres. Hell I can’t remember exactly the last solo Statham vehicle I went to see at the movies. Either it was TRANSPORTER 3 or THE BANK JOB, whether came out last. (I saw both.) I didn’t include ensembles like EXPENDABLES.

    And I liked BANK JOB, a solid heist picture. I think it displays that yes Statham can kick people, even in non-homoerotic oil slicks, but also really is Charles Bronson of our era in that stone cold presence. Yes he has only one “face” at all times at the movies, but so did Bronson. And did we ever give him shit for that? Of course not.

    I saw him those early Guy Ritchie pictures, followed by TRANSPORTER, I really thought he was an interesting new personality at the movies. Bronson-esque, and more remarkable considering his model background. Oh and did I mention he can kick people and shit? He became somewhat of a star, but I thought if he found the right script, the right moment, the right movie, he could absolutely break out like a son of a bitch into major stardom as say TERMINATOR had for Arnold.

    Instead, Statham did indeed become the Bronson of our generation by refusing to turn down B-actioneer after B-actioneer that went across his desk. The quick money was just too good and now he’s trapped as one of the world’s biggest B-action stars, if not #1.

    I enjoyed THE ITALIAN JOB* as a decent mainstream heist ensemble picture, and he did his lot good in that one. In THE BANK JOB he’s the boss this time, and really shined. He only kicked someone once according to my memory in that one, and he was money as the sort of local dodger who’s stuck way over his head. Oh and that cameo in COLLATERAL. But otherwise, he’s wasted himself on shit.

    *=Why do locals hate that one?

  21. My theory is that Statham really wants to make a really good or great badass action movie which has both parts action and character drama. Like, 70s characterization mixed with 80s/90s action virtuoso. And he has been trying, with all this movies he makes, all those which are not obvious comic book physics action movies. Who knows, maybe he will finally achieve it with the new adaptation of THE HUNTER.

  22. I will say if anything, The Raven was Cusack’s audition to show he can do more Nicolas Cage-y type roles.

  23. Jack Burton, good lord!! One Nicolas Cage is enough as it is!

  24. RRA, by locals you mean italians or los angelinos?

  25. asimov – I use the slang “locals” in refering to our “local” colleagues/citizens. Like this is our digital neighborhood.

    And I’m the local crazy cat lady.

    Oh and yes one Cage is enough. But I’m all down for a Cage worth giving a shit about again.

  26. My theory is that Bronson stayed on top of his game for almost 40 years just because he went for projects that suited his character, instead of chosing minor roles in ensemble movies or in big budgeted stuff that might fall on it’s ass. He was a working class actor who made movies for the fans and not the critics. And if we’re lucky Statham will do the same.

  27. Hey, I got a B in Geology. And I only went to three classes in the whole semester, so I’d say my potential for geological expertise has largely been untapped.

  28. pegsman – Were alot of those Cannon movies really “top of his game” though? (ASSASSINATION was lousy.) But I suppose the DEATH WISH sequels, specifically the wackier later entries, had their own goofy charm to them. (i.e. part 4: “I was making a sandwich.” PUNCH!)

    “instead of chosing minor roles in ensemble movies ”

    Like THE GREAT ESCAPE or DIRTY DOZEN? (Sorry but it had to be said.)

  29. Mr. M – My apologies then. I replace “geology” with nuclear physics. (Don’t tell me you got a B in that course too. Hubbard would be jealous.)

  30. So now we’re dissing Bronson now? well, to quote Reggie Hammond; You’re gonna lose, Billy! Maybe I should have said so, but I was of course talking about the period where he was big enough to pick the parts he wanted to do. By the way, he did Assassination as a gift to his cancer stricken wife, so instead of pissing all over it I think we all should stand up and applaud a man who lived as he preached!

  31. Nah, everything I know about physics was self-taught. That interdimensional portal I hooked up in my spare time was a total bust. Barely any squid monsters came out of it at all.

  32. “By the way, he did Assassination as a gift to his cancer stricken wife, so instead of pissing all over it I think we all should stand up and applaud a man who lived as he preached!”

    pegsman – I don’t care if ASSASSINATION was made in honor of the Pope. It’s still terrible. The sick Raul Julia did STREET FIGHTER to give his family money, as did the sick Laurence Olivier for that JAZZ SINGER remake and several others in the 80s. Guess what? Those two movies still sucked.

    ~Though Julia had some awesomely camp moments in SF, I’ll give that shit credit.

  33. Continental OPp

    May 8th, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I’ll say this for Statham. Whether intentionally or not, he’s constantly including gay characters in his movies the last while, in a non-condescending manner. For action movies, that’s something. In Blitz you had Paddy Considine as his gay partner who is the only character aside from his older partner who he treats as his equal. In this the two head villains are gay lovers and one of them is established as being even badder and tougher than Statham’s character. It fucking implies he’d lose the climactic fight with him if it went ahead! Apparently the Expendables originally had a gay member. And Besson and others have already joked/implied that The Transporter is gay in an interview (fair enough, a tongue-in-cheek comment there). Maybe he’s just atoning for all the “sausage nigels” in the Crank films, or maybe the Stath is gearing us up for the first gay action hero in cinema. That would be fucking insane!

    And his “one expression” is the only expression his characters need. if “The Hunter” is anywhere near the literary Parker’s equal, we’ll have a very special movie on our hands. And a badass movie star for the ages…..

  34. I’m not so sure the gay character in THE MECHANIC was treated very respectfully, but at least he was considered a real physical threat.

  35. Yeah, I’m not gonna complain about the Stathe’s singular facial expression. Some of y’all openly hope he becomes like a new Schwarzenegger or Stallone or Bronson, but we don’t want anything to do with a new TWINS or JUNIOR or STOP OR MY MOM etc. or OSCAR. Okay for their time, but Statham would be doing some bullshit if he decided he needed to lighten up and emulate those career choices.

    Keep your stone face, Jason, is what I’m saying. If it ain’t broke, etc..

    Only time Bronson’s smile really worked and was memorable was when he told his girl in the doomed parked car he’d be right out in DEATH WISH 3, and of course the final frame of DEATH WISH.

  36. Don’t forget the last scene in Love and Bullets. I for one hope Statham doesn’t aspire to be the new Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Those guys would do anything to stay on top, and made some really bad choices because of it.

  37. Had to chime in on the facial expression thing here even though I’m avoiding the review and rest of the thread till I see the movie this weekend. One Mr. Steven Seagal Esq. is notable for keeping the same stoic expression through his entire Warner Bros. catalog of films for many years and it worked like a charm. The Stath is cool because so far even though he hasn’t lived up to his full potential he sticks to what works.

  38. Continental OPp

    May 8th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Totally forgot about the gay guy in The Mechanic! Best fight in the movie. If it was just one or two instances it wouldn’t be noticeable but it’s a recurring trait with his films. Even most romantic comedies seem content to stereotype the gay community whether they mean to or not. It’s an interesting one.

    I’d love to see Statham in a couple of years pull a “Point Blank” out of the bag and work with a really interesting director on a project that plays to his strengths but is a totally original piece of cinema. Obviously he has nowhere near the cache of Marvin at the time and he may not even want to, but an Asian director like Johnny To or someone like Mike Hodges could do some amazing work with him.

  39. Mouth – Schwarzenegger and Eastwood, biggest stars arguably of their eras, were dismissed as hack actors by many critics at the time.

    But both had a solid knack for not just knowing their macho fanbase and broad public appeal (like humor), but also quality control in the scripts they picked. Schwarzenegger lost that knack in the 90s (and it showed), but Eastwood more or less kept his intact as a star actor up to GRAN TORINO. Sure he had his FIREFOX or THE ROOKIE slips, but shit happens and just mere blips on a otherwise solid filmstar resume.

    I mean Hollywood thought Eastwood lost his damn mind and degrading himself by selling out to do a monkey comedy. Oh he’ll fall on his face, and ultra-liberal critics will get kharmac carthartic pleasure after DIRTY HARRY. Instead turned out to be one of his biggest hits (along with the sequel.)

  40. Sure Assassination was crap, RRA. But Bronson wasn’t. And that’s the whole point, isn’t? I don’t watch movies with Dolph, Jean Claude or Dwayne because I hope they’ll win an Oscar or one day will star in a Merchant-Ivory film. Sure hope that’s not the reason for their popularity among the locals.

  41. “I don’t watch movies with Dolph, Jean Claude or Dwayne because I hope they’ll win an Oscar or one day will star in a Merchant-Ivory film.”

    Or Hamlet right? Jesus I can’t believe you pulled the anti-elitist card on this, or worse on someone who liked fucking KEEP.

    Didn’t you read above where I sorta said the DEATH WISH sequels had their moments?

  42. I think the more pertinent point is that the reason these action stars are so enduringly popular is that even when their movies are crap, they themselves still deliver that certain je ne sais quoi that made you like them in the first place. Bronson didn’t make a lot of great movies in the last 20 years of his career, but he was still Bronson, and that was always worth watching. This curious property is the central tenet of the Badass Laureate theory.

  43. Mr. M – Now that makes sense.

  44. No, no, no, that’s not what I meant at all. I don’t even own an elitist card. I was still on the Bronson thing. What I meant to say is that these guys are cool, and they’re doing their own thing, and we respect them for it. The last 10 years weren’t kind to Bronson movie wise, but the man never lost his dignity (well, the interrogation scene in 10 to Midnight didn’t do him any favors). The only other route I will accept is the Eastwood way. But I don’t think we’ll ever see another one like him.

  45. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 8th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    RRA – on Statham – I agree with YOU sir.

    You can’t go on the amount of facial expressions an actor makes to determine the quality of their acting. Seagal, for instance, has only one expression, but it’s really really versatile.

  46. Drake Hogestyn on Days of Our Lives has at least 20 expressions, none of them connected to an emotion and all of them used out of context.

  47. Now you’re just making up obviously fake names to prove a point.

  48. Ah, come on, you’re a Days man if I ever saw one

  49. Just so everybody knows, the PARKER movie that Statham stars in is not a new adaptation of The Hunter. It’s one of the later books called Flashfire. One thing that’s cool about the book though is that it has some parallels to The Hunter. He gets betrayed and has to build himself up for revenge again, but instead of stealing wallets and shit he does a bunch of smaller robberies to prepare for the big one. This time he has Claire to go home to and he’s looking for all the money, not just his share. So it shows that things actually have changed a little over the course of the series. But not that much.

    I’m with ContinentalOp, I’d love to see Statham “pull a Point Blank” with a more artful director. Maybe we got a shot if the DePalma movie really happens.

    As for the gay stuff, I do really think it’s interesting how much it comes up in his movies. But he never seemed to get on board the idea that Frank Transporter was gay, and then had him make out with a girl and deny being gay in part 3. I still think he’s gay, though.

    Here’s some info about the issue:

    http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2008/11/29/the-transporter/

  50. Continental OPp: Statham in a POINT BLANK type movie? That’s brillant. Though one could say that REVOLVER was an atempt at that. But i get your meaning. It’s a damn good idea, and i wish Statham would heed it.

    Statham in a Steve Soderbergh crime movie THE LIMEY style, perhaps?

  51. RRA, and i guess i’m the local angry man. You know what sets my berserk button.

  52. I hope he’s gay. In the name of progress we need some gay action heros. When I watched the first season of the old crime show Cannon a couple of weeks ago I started noticing little hints about Frank’s sexuality. And after I decided that he was gay the whole show became much more interesting.

  53. Mr. Majestyk: “That interdimensional portal I hooked up in my spare time was a total bust. Barely any squid monsters came out of it at all.”

    That’s because you made the common rookie mistake of opening to the next dor neighbour para-universe. Our universe is actually placed in a rather boring burds of the multiverse. You have to go “downtown” to find the really fun (and world destroying) stuff. Yeah, our universe lies in the multiverse’s suburbia.

  54. pegsman – yeah I’m all for a raging flaming action hero.

  55. “In the name of progress we need some gay action heros.”

    Tom Cruise, John Wayne, Rock Hudson (when he made war movies), John Travolta, Alan Ladd, to name a few… they are not as scarse as you think they are. Now,if your meaning is action characters who are gay onscreen, well, that’s what SPARTACUS is for, for it shows some pretty badass gays.

  56. “Seagal, for instance, has only one expression”

    Actually,he has three: pissed off, constipated, and pissed off constipated.

  57. “I’m all for a raging flaming action hero”

    priscilia queen of the desert two: flame harder.

  58. Continental OPp

    May 8th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    If De Palma can tie his bag of tricks to a noir story a la Carlito’s Way, then I can definitely see it being Statham’s Point Blank. De Palma tells pure genre stories with a unique artist’s touch, that’s what makes him great. And he’s not an actor’s director for the most part, and I imagine Statham would work well with a hands-off approach. Love the idea of him in a “Limey” type story. William Goldman’s writing “Heat” for them, would it be too much to ask to get Lem Dobbs to write his next film??

    Revolver was more of a Guy Ritchie film with Statham in a performance that could have been played by any stoic actor. In terms of someone utilising the physical presence he has onscreen in an artful way without sacrificing the head-bashing and murderous stare-downs, it has yet to be done. The movie with De Palma is intriguing, though.

    Although I hope for the best for his career, it would be nice for his career to stay on this path. His movies may bot always be great (HATED Blitz and Cranks), but they’re all interesting and have unique touches that make them stand apart. Maybe he has an “On Deadly Ground” in him! Who knows? Vern, in a few years you might be Putting out “Stathamantics” or somesuch…..

  59. asimovlives

    Parker is not a new adaptation of The Hunter, it’s an adaptation of Flashfire.

  60. Why didn’t I refresh to see if other post, before I post the same that Vern did.

  61. Also Statham has to face, the one when he looks tough/angry or what ever, and the one when he smiles like when he tells a joke. Unfortunately he doesn’t smile much, but loved it when he did it in Safe, even thought it didn’t really fit with the tone of the first 30 minutes.

  62. I just read the original HEAT novel a couple weeks ago. The first film is surprisingly faithful, considering Burt Reynolds is playing a Mexican, but the novel has one other major subplot, which brings with it a twist that very much fits similar revelations in DePalma’s earlier films. I’m not sure it works in the book but it’s the kind of logic-raping audaciousness that is what makes DePalma’s work stand out.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that the title of the novel comes from the sensation the main character feels in his balls before he kills people. The last line of the book is “His nuts felt like they were on fire,” which rivals “The bitch is dead now” for best closing statements in badass literature.

    So I’m pretty excited for the new movie is what I’m saying.

    Also, Fred’s description of SAFE’s camerawork makes me think that maybe I’ll try to catch a matinee this weekend.

  63. Continental Op

    May 8th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Mr. M – That book sounds like Pulitzer materiel…..

  64. “Just so everybody knows, the PARKER movie that Statham stars in is not a new adaptation of The Hunter. It’s one of the later books called Flashfire. One thing that’s cool about the book though is that it has some parallels to The Hunter. He gets betrayed and has to build himself up for revenge again, but instead of stealing wallets and shit he does a bunch of smaller robberies to prepare for the big one.”
    what’s funny about it is that he raises more money for funding his payback than was actual stolen from him.
    Do you ever think that Parker would work better as either a TV Show or a series of TV movies?

  65. Mr. Majestyk – “The first film is surprisingly faithful, considering Burt Reynolds is playing a Mexican”

    OK it’s official; The Stath MUST sport a ‘stache.

  66. A Mustathe, you might say?

  67. Continental Op

    May 8th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Please make it so! And Trejo as his long lost pendejo!

  68. Well played.

  69. Holy shit after seeing that Scott Adkins EXPENDABLES 2 poster I just realized being that he’s Stallone’s #2 this means The Stath will have to face him since he’s the equivalent in Van Damme’s team. Simon West please don’t fuck that up.

  70. Wow that reads mad backwards with Stath as the villain. Must be the liquor.

  71. I’ve long touted a gay action movie. I think there should be a gay James Bond type who saves the world, kicks ass and fucks dudes. And you better believe when I suggest this around red staters it makes then mighty uncomfortable.

    Unfortunately we’re not there yet as a society. Whoever comes out as the first gay action hero will suffer from the social backlash and declined box office. Only the gay asskickers who follow will benefit from his (or her) paving the way.

  72. What we need is for someone to film one of Joe Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard books. Leonard is a gay black country western fan who knows hapkido and over the course of seven or eight books is characterized as the baddest motherfucker in the world. I’m thinking Terry Crews for the movie. If there’s a young Geoffrey Lewis out there, that’s who I’m picturing for Leonard’s hetero brother in arms, Hap, the often lovestruck shitkicker who also knows hapkido, but not as much as Leonard.

  73. Continental Op

    May 8th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Going to Amazon the shit out of those books, they sound great. Terry Crews would be perfect for that because he is a legitimate brick shithouse of a man, but he has this eccentric side that is really funny and sweet. Are they PI stories?

  74. Kind of. Hap & Leonard aren’t P.I.s in any official capacity. They’re just good ol’ boys who get into a lot of shit and have to fight their way out of it. The books generally play out more or less like detective stories, though. They gotta find somebody or rescue somebody or solve a murder or something like that.

    The books are great. Real fast-paced, tons of action and eccentric characters, lots of sarcastic dialogue, but with a melancholy core. That’s my favorite combo right there, so I fell in love with this series right away.

  75. Continental Op

    May 8th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Wow, that’s right up my street. Have a couple of Travis McGee’s to power on through then straight onto them I reckon!

  76. I’m taking my time on the McGees. I do one or two a year. I try to space out the series I like so I don’t run out too soon. It’s kind of hard when you get a good one and you just want to rip right through it. I did that recently with Greg Rucka’s Atticus Kodiak series and I regret not having any more to look forward to. I started Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie & Gennaro series a couple of months ago and it is a real challenge to pace myself. That one’s so far up my alley I might as well pay rent there.

  77. There’s no reason why Gaysploitation couldn’t be just as big as Blaxploitation was in the 70’s. I’d see Rupert Everett in Scream, Gayula, Scream. And if they do make a gay James Bond movie, I hope Rupaul is the Q type character.

  78. By the way, when I used to post on AICN, I went by TheContinentalOp, so it’s fitting that you’re the one I get into a good crime fiction discussion with.

  79. Continental Op

    May 8th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Jack Burton – That’s putting your Corman hat on.

    Mr. M – No way! My all time favourite PI. Whe you’ve been essayed onscreen by Toshiro Mifune AND Clint Eastwood you’re doing something right. I’ve never read Lehane’s series, the only book of his I read is Shutter Island and I know that’s not indicative of his usual output….

  80. And let’s not forget that Bruce Willis kind of played him, too.

    I haven’t read SHUTTER ISLAND. I’m sticking with the early detective stories for now. Maybe I’ll branch out eventually.

    Speaking of gay badasses, did anybody else see KILLER CONDOM? Its hero is a gay police detective, who, along with everyone else in the movie, is German, despite the movie taking place in New York City. Its main claim to fame is that it was the last film to shoot in Times Square before it got turned into Epcot Center.

    It is also about a killer condom. Not sure if I made that clear.

  81. Maybe if Shane Black’s IRON MAN 3 does well, they could finally do a sequel to KISS KISS BANG BANG?

  82. Mr. M – Let me take a wild guess without my friend wikipedia: KILLER CONDOM came from Troma, right? I mean they are the Marvel of American gonzo filmmaking.

    Stu – I’ve said it before, but here’s a better alternative: Gay Perry in IRON MAN 3, and later the AVENGERS sequel.

    C’mon, wouldn’t you dig him fighting Thanos?

    “Of this whole circus, and I’m the only one who dresses like a straight man.”

  83. RRA: I believe they distributed it but it was a German film, not one of their in-house productions. It’s actually way better and more serious than it sounds.

  84. Mr. M – No no I’m not doubting its merits, I mean a movie called KILLER CONDOM has to be interesting. Or it deserves to be at least.

    IF we get boards, we could debate endlessly about TV/movies/songs with AWESOME titles but failed to live up to them.

  85. “…more serious than it sounds”. Or German humor, as it’s called.

  86. Continental Op

    May 9th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Mr. M – In my opinion Willis isn’t fit to lick the feet of the other two. Did you ever hear of the adaptation of Red Harvest that Bertolucci tried to get off the ground?

  87. Today Predisent Obama announced he is in favor of gay marriage. I assume this is because we all voted here that we want gay action heroes.

  88. Fred, if you ever interview Dolph Lundgren, consider asking him if he’s supposed to be gay in John Woo’s BLACKJACK. I tried emailing the screenwriter about it one time, but he didn’t respond. In that movie he has this assistant guy that really seems like it’s supposed to be his life partner. But the same could be said of Seagal’s THE PATRIOT, so who knows.

  89. Continental Op

    May 10th, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Also ask him if his Blackjack costar The Hammer was even CONSIDERED for The Expendableses…..

  90. Unless there were significant reshoots, I wouldn’t get too excited about the new PARKER movie. I posted a review of it months ago in one of the potpourri threads, but I’m too lazy to find it.

  91. I was surprised to find that this was still playing when I was looking for an air-conditioned refuge from the humidity yesterday, so I figured why the fuck not. And I’m glad I did, because it was way better than the last few Statham joints. There were some interesting filmmaking choices on display, and while none of the action was all that amazing, there was at least a lot of it. The story didn’t always make sense (what happened to the disc? Why did he want it? What exactly was on it, anyway? I think I zoned out for a line and missed everything.) but the central hook was compelling enough to paper over the cracks. Good New York atmosphere, too. Except for the part where he caught a D train at DeKalb at sunset. Everybody knows the D only stops at DeKalb late nights. FUCKING BULLSHIT I WANT MY MONEY BACK

    I think my favorite part of the movie was when he made the cops bring him a sandwich. Not just because it’s fucking badass to make a bunch of dirty cops who hate your guts buy you a sandwich (and an awesome-looking one, at that) and then make them watch you eat it while they’re impatiently waiting for you to tell them something. It also addresses the question I’ve always wondered about action heroes: Where do they get all that energy? They’re running, jumping, fighting, shooting, getting beat up, and basically burning thousands of calories for what seems like days at a time without cease, yet you never see any of them stop to get a bite to eat. I don’t know about you guys, but I personally would start to feel a little lethargic if I didn’t at least have a granola bar and a glass of orange juice or something. That’s why I’m glad Statham thought ahead and refueled before entering into a massive gun battle with a couple dozen triads. You know, for realism.

  92. This was absolutely terrific.

    The fights were cool, painful looking and shot well. The plot was decent enough and above all, moved at a lightning fast pace.

    But what I liked about it most, was that *everyone* was absolutely brutal. No one pulled any punches. People got casually shot when they stumbled in the line of fire or simply just because. Good guys and bad guys were kicked down and then casually executed without giving the usual Hollywood chance to get back up.

    It all actually reminded me a lot of Hong Kong films. Including that last encounter with the two opponents having mutual respect and putting their guns down. Yes, the actual fight would have been nice to see, but the resolution was great nevertheless.

    This truly blindsided me. Probably Statham’s best, in my opinion.

  93. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 30th, 2012 at 5:00 am

    I have to ask – did you guys see a different movie than I did? Was it cut differently for American audiences than it was for us (in the UK)? Somebody above mentioned it being “R”-rated. That’s the equivalent to our “15” or thereabouts? There is absolutely no way I could see anybody giving the movie I saw a “15” rating (which, indeed, they didn’t).

    I quite liked this but definitely not as much as a lot of people. To me, while it had good bits that some people here have pointed out (the hotel, the sandwich, the bit with Statham’s wife) it just lacked an “edge” for me. Flesh out the bad guys a bit more and make it a proper 15- or even 18-rated film rather than a 12A and I think it could be way better than it was. As it was, I couldn’t disagree more with you HT… I think EVERYONE pulled their punches. The fights were definitely scaled back and they did that irritating thing they sometimes do where shakycam is used to obscure a “violent” move.

    (The ironic thing is I probably wouldn’t have noticed that last thing if it hadn’t been for you guys here. Not sure if that means you’ve sharpened my appreciation for action cinema, or destroyed it.)

  94. So, you’re not watching action cinema ever again, Paul? I saw this last night and I agree with Vern in that it’s one of Statham’s best. The shootouts reminded me of Hong Kong in the early 90’s and the fights looked like they really hurt (maybe they did cut them in Britain, I mean this is the country that cut out the batanga scene in Face/Off!). I liked this movie a lot. It’s especially nice to seee a relationship between a grown man and a kid, without getting that phaedophilia vibe most American movies give you.

  95. Charles Bronson is the Charles Bronson we love because of ONE OF THE GREATEST MODERN MOVIES OF OUR TIME.
    Death Wish 4: The Crack Down.

    Wait… he did Once Upon a Time in the West?
    When did that happen?

  96. The Original... Paul

    June 3rd, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Pegsman – I will go as far as this – I think it shows hope for Statham. I’m just really annoyed that they made it into a 12A instead of giving us a “real” action movie, which IMO this wasn’t. If they’d gone all-out and made it into something with action that matched up better with, say, “The Raid”, I would’ve liked it a lot more, although the cliche’d villains would still be something of a sticking point for me.

    I don’t know how much of this was cut when bringing it to Britain, but I’m definitely getting the vibe that SOME of it was. That’s the only way I can explain the discrepancies in terms of how you guys regard this movie and how I regard it (and I’m not just talking about differing opinions – which are common enough, after all – but in things like how much was actually shown.)

  97. Paul, this is the list from MPAA;

    A 13 year old girl witnesses beatings.

    Jason Statham stabs 2 people: one with a fork, one with a pen, then he takes a man into a car and slams his head on the dashboard and breaks a man’s neck.

    A man shoots 3 people; 2 are dead and one is shown alive with blood briefly on his shoulder.

    A man is shot, you briefly see blood on the wall behind, and he falls down a flight of stairs, and a man fights several people in a subway with headbutts, punches and kicks.

    A man walks into a club, while his goons open fire and shoot at random people.

    A 13 year old girl is forced to watch 3 men beat a man to death.

    Explosives are detonated on a door and a man inside the room is shot by other men. A man shoots several men in a car (we see bullet holes in their clothing)

    A man with a gun threatens a woman at a reception desk in a hotel, the security guard is shot (we see blood on his chest). A man is shot in the leg and he is then shot repeatedly in the chest (we see bloody bullet holes in his chest). A man pushes another man through a window and crashes down on top of him on the street below (we see the first man dead with blood in his mouth). You also briefly see a man who’s throat has been slit.

    Ring any bells?

  98. I have to say that I really am glad I watched this today on Netflix. I thought it was a very good action flick. Not to sound morbid, but what I liked about it was how large the body count is. It seems like there aren’t many gun battles featuring a large body count anymore and this one had a large one.

    If anybody sees this, was there a large body count in The Last Stand that came out earlier this year?

  99. Sternshein – I know exactly what you mean, i was just about to type up something in the Netflix Forum about Sho Kosugi’s Rage of Honor and how the best thing about it was the Commando-level body count. Seriously the last 45 minutes or so of that movie is just killing.

    And unfortunately, the body count for The Last Stand is pretty low- I’d estimate only 25 or so people get killed in it, and a good half of that are cops fighting the main villain when Arnold’s not even around. I know it’s my own expectations but I was seriously disappointed that the big action sequence we had to wait the whole movie for, was just Arnold and his ragtag team vs. about six guys.

    I have no idea why body counts seem to be much, much lower these days, with the exception of The Expendables 2, which I swear has to be the highest onscreen body count of all time.

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