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

Archive for January, 2014

Angel 4: Undercover

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

tn_angel4In ANGEL 4: UNDERCOVER, the chapter after the final chapter, Angel rises from the streets to invade the corporate world. “Executive by day, hooker by night. From the boardroom to the bedroom.” Cool idea, right? Seems like a very ’80s idea, but it was still the early ’90s, it wasn’t too late to explore those still relevant themes of corruption and cruelty hidden behind mirrored skyscrapers and fancy clothes.

I should specify, that’s what the box of ANGEL 4 is about. The movie itself is a standalone story where she’s not an executive and there’s no boardroom (or bedroom, really) and she doesn’t look like the same lady on the cover and doesn’t become a hooker again. But you know, you gotta let the marketing people express themselves too. They had a story they felt like they were born to tell, and they just had to let it out.
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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.

Royal Warriors

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

tn_royalwarriorsROYAL WARRIORS is a pretty good 1986 Michelle Yeoh vehicle directed by David Chung (cinematographer of ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA) with action choreography by Hoi Mang (YES, MADAM!, NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER).

Michelle, called Michelle Khan at the time, plays Michelle Yip, who at the beginning is visiting Japan and enjoying one of those things where Japanese youths dress up rockabilly style and dance in the street. She happens to be in the way watching a guy play barrels as drums when some gangsters come by chasing a fleeing kid. So when she sees what’s happening she goes after them, stickfighting, climbing on statues and kung fu-ing them before she whips out her badge and we learn that she’s a Hong Kong cop. (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.

Kon-Tiki

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

tn_kon-tikiKON-TIKI is light, well-constructed and direct, just like the raft it’s named after. It’s the true story of the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl embarking on a dangerous raft trip to try to prove that ancient Polynesia could’ve been populated by South Americans. This was before American Idol and stuff so back then you would have to try to prove or discover things to get famous. And then instead of a reality show you would film an actual documentary about your adventures. They just didn’t know any better, you know? I’m sure if Jacques Cousteau had known about sex videos he would’ve just done that instead of winning an Oscar by having an ax fight with a school of sharks while Louis Malle filmed him.

Anyway, Thor here comes up with this theory while living on an island, and he wants to write about it, but all the publishers of scientific books and magazines (I’m calling you out, National Geographic!) laugh him off as an idiot. He comes up with the raft idea but still has trouble getting funding, ’cause this was before Kickstarter. He has to go around talking to people who often think he’s a crazy man. Which he kind of is I guess. (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.

Angel III: The Final Chapter

Monday, January 27th, 2014

tn_angel3ANGEL III: THE FINAL CHAPTER, the third and last of the four ANGEL movies, finds Molly “Angel” Stewart far from her roots. She is no longer played by Donna Wilkes or Betsy Russell, now she’s played by Mitzi Kapture (Silk Stalkings, Baywatch, The Young & the Restless). She’s not a prostitute or a lawyer or runner anymore, now she’s a photographer helping out the police (we see her go along on a gambling bust to take pictures of people running away) and in her spare time trying to work on a photography book about street kids. Most drastic of all she doesn’t live in Hollywood anymore, she lives in New York. (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.

Prisoners

Friday, January 24th, 2014

tn_prisonersPRISONERS is a crime mystery elevated to near-epic status by its patience and taste. It has intense performances, especially by leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, but also supporting players Paul Dano, Terence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo. It has gorgeously bleak Roger Deakins cinematography of grey, rainy Georgia suburbs that looks just like my neck of the woods. Serial killer central. It takes its time, doesn’t drum up fake excitement with bombastic music. It has the kind of careful, deliberate camerawork and pacing we associate with Kubrick, or at least Fincher. Smart directors with so much cinema in their blood they don’t know how to shoot anything without transcending the perceived limitations of its genre.
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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.

Avenging Angel

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

tn_avengingangelAVENGING ANGEL takes place 4 years after ANGEL. Lieutenant Andrews (now played by Robert F. Lyons) has become Angel (now played by Betsy Russell from DELTA HEAT and SAW III-VII)’s guardian and paid her way to leave the streets of Hollywood for a college somewhere a few hours away, where she’s studying law and excelling at track and field. She goes by Molly again and has a preppie boyfriend named Terry (Richard DeHaven, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) who doesn’t know about her past as a gun-toting teenage prostitute.
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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.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

tn_thebutler“I always loved servin’.”

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER by Lee Daniels is the new one from crazy fuckin Lee Daniels, and I know what you’re thinking: thank God a Warner Brothers claim with the MPAA forced them to include “LEE DANIELS'” in the title at 75% the size of THE BUTLER, because otherwise I would’ve assumed that this modern movie with Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey on the cover is the lost silent short from 1916 THE BUTLER. I mean, who wouldn’t? It would be an easy mistake to make.

Also I know what Lee Daniels is thinking: that’s pretty cool that some crazy corporate bullshit that makes no sense caused me to get my name in the title like WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE or JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES.
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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.

Angel

Monday, January 20th, 2014

tn_angelANGEL is a story about a young girl named Molly (Donna Wilkes from JAWS 2 and GROTESQUE) who lives near Hollywood Boulevard and buses out to the North Oaks Prep School. She gets straight A’s, she seems very innocent, and when a super nerd at school (who looks easily 35, but it’s okay because she’s 24 in real life) asks her on a date she turns him down by saying her mom says she’s too young to date. I thought she might be telling the truth, but after school she goes back to the boulevard, where everyone calls her Angel, she puts on makeup and starts walking the strip. Yep, our little angel is a teenage prostitute. It quickly becomes clear that she’s paying her own way through school, and that there’s a reason she’s not letting anyone into the room where she says her paralyzed mother is holed up.
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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 Act of Killing

Friday, January 17th, 2014

tn_actofkillingBTISLMan, I don’t know how long this will last, but when I finished watching THE ACT OF KILLING I had a strong feeling that not only did that have to be the best movie I saw from 2013, it might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s an amazing, one-of-a-kind documentary that achieves a whole bunch of things: it shows me fascinating, outside-of-my-experience human beings in crazy situations; it’s a stunning visual portrait of places and people in Indonesia; it is deeply upsetting and shocking and yet at times horribly, uncomfortably funny; it tells my ignorant American ass a few things about a major human tragedy I never heard of but also, it sounds like, helped the people of Indonesia start to address a deliberately whitewashed part of their history. When you hear the subject it sounds like a message movie, but aside from that it has what I think is always more important in a documentary: it captures some incredible human moments that you can’t believe you’re actually seeing, including a monstrous war criminal coming to realizations about what he did.

It accomplishes this all without a single talking head, no narration and very little explanatory text. It plunges you into this world of war criminals and their supporters who are amazingly comfortable with director Joshua Oppenheimer (and un-named Indonesian co-director – at least half of the names on the credits are listed as “ANONYMOUS”). Oppenheimer is barely seen or heard but sometimes they address him by name like a trusted friend. (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.

Her

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

tn_herHER by Spike Jonze – his fourth feature film in 14 years – is a completely unique movie. It’s a touching relationship drama mixed with light sci-fi and cultural satire that’s somehow brutally accurate and gently affectionate at the same time. It’s the story of this depressed writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who’s in the middle of a divorce, and he meets someone who he really connects with… only it’s not a person, it’s the artificially intelligent voice in his computer (Scarlett Johansson). Yeah, he thinks it’s weird at first too, but it just happens. You can’t argue with your heart I guess.

Spending his life with his operating system has its share of challenges. He has to carry a little camera around for her to see the world. It’s awkward introducing her to people. They can’t hold hands or take a picture together and when they get it on it’s basically phone sex. They’re dealing with alot of handicaps here.
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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.