“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for January, 2013

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

tn_harakiriWow, Takashi Miike’s got another great samurai remake under his belt, and this time as far as I’ve heard he didn’t even have to cut out a demon-rape scene to make it classy. Like 13 ASSASSINS it’s got a strong mood and great story built upon the great structure (I’m told) of the original (Masaki Kobayashi’s HARAKIRI [1962]). A word of warning, though: this one is not the action spectacular that 13 A’S is. It’s closer to the classical tradition where it’s a drama about castes, codes, corruption and conflict, and eventually you know they’re gonna pull out the swords, but that’s the cherry on top, not the actual ice cream.

I’d heard that, and it made me hesitant, but it turns out it wasn’t necessary. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last year. I loved it. Not just a LIMITS OF CONTROL “this is trying my patience but is intellectually interesting in some ways” type of appreciation. Even watching it late one night after work I found it genuinely engrossing from beginning to end (although I had to have somebody decode the final scene for me because by that time it was past 3 am and I was losing consciousness). (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Parker

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

tn_parkerstathamWell, yep. I’m afraid we saw this coming. Academy Award nominated director with unfortunately appropriate name Taylor Hackford’s adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker book Flashfire is not very good.

Jason Statham plays Parker, the cold-hearted career criminal, professional problem solver and single-minded seeker of money. Or he’s supposed to be that character, anyway. He’s involved in a robbery but the other guys on the team want to use the loot as seed money for another heist, and he doesn’t want to. They shoot him and dump him in the water, but he survives and comes looking for them, planning to steal the proceeds from this other heist.

Michael Chiklis is Melander, the leader of the other heisters, who we don’t really get to know much about. Clifton Collins, Jr. is also on the crew, but I couldn’t name a single character trait for him other than Clifton Collins, Jr. looks a little older than last time I saw him in a movie. Parker wears a cowboy hat and pretends to be a Texas oilman so that he can look at mansions in Palm Beach and figure out where Melander and friends are hiding out. Jennifer Lopez plays Leslie, the real estate agent who shows him around, figures out that he’s not really Texan, and pushes her way into his scheme. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

The Last Stand

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

tn_thelaststandWith THE LAST STAND, Arnold Schwarzenegger officially kicks off his Old Man Period, sort of following the Clint Eastwood precedent. And I’m all for it. Alot of people love nothing more than shaming actors, especially action stars, for failing to conquer time and science, and instead succumbing to the biological changes that occur as a result of human aging. They love jokes about John McClane on a walker or Rambo wearing Depends. Ha ha, I bet when you were Mr. Universe you never guessed that your cells would change in tandem with the passage of time and you would end up with a different physicality that would lead to new health challenges! Serves ya right, grandpa! (And when I say “grandpa” I use it in the sense of “old men are the worst thing there is” and not in reference to my actual grandfather, who we call “Pa-Pa.”)

Of course, real fans of Badass Cinema put Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood on a pedestal. We know that a mug with some miles on it always trumps a babyface. Grizzled veteran beats young hotshot in pretty much all cases except maybe Bruce Lee. So we welcome Old Man Arnold.
(read the rest of this shit…)

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

Death Race 3: Inferno

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

tn_deathrace3DEATH RACE 3 is of course the sequel to the DTV prequel to Paul W.S. Anderson’s theatrical sort-of remake of Paul Bartel and Roger Corman’s DEATH RACE 2000. To gage my response you will need to see my scorecard: I consider DEATH RACE 2000 a classic, DEATH RACE a surprisingly solid b-movie, DEATH RACE 2 a pretty enjoyable DTV prequel to that type of movie. And part 3 rates about the same as part 2.

It’s all the same people: Luke Goss (BLADE II, HELLBOY 2) returns as the pre-Statham Frankenstein, masked hero of the newly invented car racing to-the-death prison circuit. Tanit Phoenix is still his sexy girl navigator, Danny Trejo is still his mechanic, Ving Rhames still Weyland, the warden/CEO of Terminal Island, and from the movie we have Fred Koehler as the somewhat autistic Lists and Robin “Liu Kang” Shou in his traditional P.W.S. Anderson supporting player role as fellow racer 14K. Part 2’s director Roel Reine (of PISTOL WHIPPED and THE MARINE 2 fame) and writer Tony Giglio (story by Anderson) also return.
(read the rest of this shit…)

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

Mama

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Usuatn_mamally a director you like producing somebody else’s movie doesn’t mean much. See for example Sam Raimi. Love the guy’s directorial works, but look at the stuff he and his company produced – not necessarily the seal of quality. I’m starting to see Guillermo del Toro is different, though. I still gotta see THE ORPHANAGE, but most people seem to speak highly of it. I loved DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK and now this one is pretty good. These last two are movies where he found new filmatists who had done short films and helped them to make a feature.

In this case the director is Andres Muschietti, who wrote the script with Neil Cross and his sister Barbara Muschietti. (That’s kinda cool, I don’t know of another brother-sister filmmaking team other  than the Wachowskis. And I guess Joie Lee wrote CROOKLYN.) They’re “adapting” it from their short film of MAMÁ, but I put adapted in quotes because there really isn’t a story in the short version, it’s basically just a cool shot (which is replicated in the feature version). I have no idea how del Toro figured out from that clip that this guy could direct a real movie that tells a story and has acting in it, but somehow he guessed right. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Camouflage

Monday, January 21st, 2013
I wonder if they considered Leslie Nielsen for THE BOONDOCK SAINTS?

FROM THE OUTLAW VAULTS: I never get to take Martin Luther King Day off at my job, but I’m gonna simulate taking a day off here on outlawvern.com by posting an old review of a Leslie Nielsen movie you never heard of. This is a review I came across on my hard drive that I wrote two years ago shortly after Nielsen’s death, but never quite finished or posted. It’s not a movie I’m gonna go back and rewatch in order to complete the review, but I didn’t want to waste all that typing, either. So here it is.

* * *
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t find myself renting some 2001 Leslie Nielsen movie I never heard of. But the poor guy died recently and I happened to notice this one was written by Billy Bob Thornton (with his partner Tom Epperson and some guy who was in SPIDERBABY), so I wanted to see what the deal was.

 

(read the rest of this shit…)

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

The Weight of Water

Friday, January 18th, 2013

tn_weightofwaterI’ve been thinking about Kathryn Bigelow lately because of ZERO DARK THIRTY, and I realized she has two theatrical releases that I never saw. We’ll call them the “in between STRANGE DAYS and HURT LOCKER” period. So I decided to fill that in.

Alot of times when directors make a movie that’s really different from what they’re known for it’s cool, because it shows that they’re challenging themselves and stretching and experimenting and all that. I’m sure some people feel that way about THE WEIGHT OF WATER, but I gotta admit I’m not that into this movie. It’s well made and shows some of the things Bigelow’s good at. But it’s not about surfing bank robbers or nomadic vampires or the manhunt for Osama bin Laden. In my opinion it’s about two couples on a boat trip having relationship problems while one of them reads old files about a murder that happened in 1873.

It is from the producer of ON DEADLY GROUND though. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Taken 2

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

tn_taken2TAKEN 2 is another Liam Neeson post-action thriller where he gets to be smart and tough and wear a leather jacket and then the camera wiggles around while he cracks some bones or whatever. I tend to like these disposable Luc Besson productions for their absurd gimmicks and shameless lowbrowness, but they were more fun when they also had good action sequences. This one’s from Besson’s acolyte of the moment, Olivier Megaton, who did the joyless TRANSPORTER 3 and the more enjoyable COLOMBIANA. Neither of those have action scenes half as good as the ones in previous Besson joints like LEON, TAXI, TRANSPORTER 1-2, UNLEASHED, KISS OF THE DRAGON or DISTRICT B13.

I didn’t love the first TAKEN. Of course it’s funny to see Neeson as a wrist-snapping black-ops know-it-all, and I love a simple plot about a guy like this saving his daughter from kidnappers, and it was funny how his overprotective father paranoia seemed to become a reality, with her getting kidnapped by white slavers about 5 minutes into her European vacation. But then there’s the wobbly action scenes (a shame coming from the director of DISTRICT B13) and it doesn’t exactly have the momentum that makes this type of premise sing. It’s fun, but should be better.
(read the rest of this shit…)

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

City Heat

Monday, January 14th, 2013

tn_cityheatCITY HEAT is a light-hearted gangster movie from 1984 that attempts to combine the powers of two of its era’s biggest icons of manliness: grimacing Clint and wisecracking Burt. They also have Richard Roundtree in there, but he’s playing kind of a weasel, so he’s not able to perform as a representative of blaxploitation swagger.

Burt is a behind-on-his-payments gumshoe, Clint is the Lieutenant who used to be his partner before he quit the force. Now they act like they hate each other, but of course they team up and work pretty well together. Their first scene together is a good one: Clint sits at the counter in a diner, drinking his coffee, staying out of it while two mafia thugs beat the shit out of Burt. He wants nothing to do with it until he gets bumped and spills some of his coffee, then he gets pissed. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Oscar shit here

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

This is a pre-emptive post to make sure the ZERO DARK THIRTY comments don’t turn into Oscar nomination talk. Let’s do that shit here.

I for one am outraged that UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING didn’t get anything. (unless it did?)

more to come…

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.