I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

Hijacked

tn_hijackedex3-coutureOkay, so it’s got nothin on his fighting career, but UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture hasn’t done too bad in his play for an action movie future. He’s had MMA-related bit parts like REDBELT, he was good on a couple The Unit episodes and in some otherwise forgettable DTV pictures (SET UP, and the one with Dolph that I forgot to review), he got punched out by Seagal in TODAY YOU DIE, he plays the villain in a SCORPION KING, he was an Expendable. But HIJACKED is the first real Randy Couture vehicle. He probly shoulda waited for something better, but he’s a worker, you know. He’s gotta work.

Couture plays Agent Paul Ross, member of a CIA task force type deal trying to stop “The Tribe,” some kind of criminal/terrorist group that manipulates global financial markets or something. He finds out they may be targeting Bruce Lieb (Craig Fairbrass, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, CLIFFHANGER), the famous billionaire, not the fourth-string Bruce Lee imitator. Also Ross finds out that his estranged fiancee has just been hired to do PR for Lieb and will be on his private jet with him flying to meet with the SEC, so he decides to accept an offer to help with security.

mp_hijackedOf course the jet gets HIJACKED by members of The Tribe, and he has to try to protect the passengers, stop a bomb from going off, etc. Meanwhile the Tribe leader (in cahoots with a couple Lieb Industries traitors, primarily the girl from JEEPERS CREEPERS) tries to threaten the board members into depositing a couple billion clams into his bank account.

By the way, in Portuguese it’s called RESGATE NAS ALTURAS, translating to something like RESCUE THE HEIGHTS. Remember that in case you need to loudly discuss this movie in an airport or on a plane. I don’t want you tossing that word around in the wrong place.

There are two supporting players who I’d think are bigger names in Hollywood than Couture, but they’re not even named on the cover of the blu-ray. Vinnie Jones (BRADLEY COOPER’S MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) surprisingly doesn’t play the villain, he plays an MI-6 agent and friend of Ross, but he’s only in the beginning of the movie. Dominic Purcell (BLADE TRINITY) has a bigger role as the head of security on the private jet. This is a rare action movie team: they’re equals, they work together instantly, they don’t bicker or disagree. Even Seagal and Keith David in MARKED FOR DEATH have some philosophical disagreements at first, but these guys are in synch.

I want to see these two star in a better movie, but this one supports my twin theories that Purcell should always be allowed to use his Australian accent and that he’s way more charismatic with a mustache. I don’t know why he was humble enough to take a role as basically the sidekick in a no budget, non-theatrical movie as his followup to KILLER ELITE and STRAW DOGS, but it makes me think some day he’ll surprise everybody when he gets the right breakout role.

(I guess now that I look at it he does alot of DTV now, including three Uwe Bolle movies. But I keep liking him in these small parts so I’ll let you know when he goes next level.)

The director is Brandon Nutt, whose only previous work is a horror movie I’ve seen the cover of called LAST RESORT. He’s also credited with writing along with Scoop Wasserstein and Declan O’Brien, who in my opinion directed SHARKTOPUS. I actually knew his name already because he directed WRONG TURNS 3-5 (which are at least watchable) and wrote THE MARINE 3: HOMEFRONT (similar). Recently he directed a JOY RIDE 3, so he’s probly DTV 4 LIFE. But this one seems lower budget than those. They say the jet is really fancy and shoot alot of it in a hotel room set and don’t even make the camera shake a little or anything that would make it seem like it’s inside a flying vehicle. Whenever it cuts to stock footage of the plane taking off or something you see the film grain and are reminded how blandly clean all the new footage looks.

Like our boys in UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY the heroes look through some of the luggage to find a weapon. Ross settles on this:

still_hijacked
which maybe is an oar or something but I initially thought it was one of those paddles for spanking that they use in fraternities or somewhere. The only thing that makes me question this is that Ross never spanks anybody with it, and why wouldn’t he if that was it designed for? Especially considering that one of his famous UFC moments involved spanking a guy. I wonder why that isn’t his action trademark? Even The Rock worked his eyebrow thing into one of his roles (I forget if it was MUMMY RETURNS or SCORPION KING).

Anyway, good choice of weapon, but not a good choice to throw it down on the ground as soon as he hits a guy over the head with it. Yeah, I know, the sound of the wood hitting the floor is satisfying punctuation for an action scene, but come on Ross, you should know that guy is gonna play unconscious for a second and then get back up and stab your fiancee’s best friend in the back. You know better than that.

The plot is very similar to the Brian Bosworth picture MACH 2, and without feeling that much more professional. But at least the Boz got to enter that movie by jumping from a helicopter onto a train. Couture is introduced just sitting bored at a table in front of the big screen that electronically charts everything about The Tribe. The action is a little close up because of the close quarters, but mostly it’s just too simple and staged looking to be all that exciting, like fist fights on a syndicated action TV show. Lots of leaning back to dodge a swing of a knife, a couple wrestling away of knives, a couple neck breaking holds.

But like The Boz, Couture has become more natural at delivering lines and he just has a great presence. I’ve seen some of my colleagues make fun of him as the worst Expendable, but he’s almost my favorite. Not just because he’s a real fighter but because he’s so unlike a normal action star. He came to movies already balding and with fucked up ears (that can be used as weapons!), and you can’t imagine he’s ever been a pretty boy in his life. But he’s not like Danny Trejo or somebody who could easily play bad guys and henchmen forever. He resonates a nice guy quality.

He has an interesting face, he’s manly as hell without being macho, he’s credible as a tough guy despite pretty limited, primitive action scenes. That’s the main qualification for a DTV action star: I want to keep watching him even in a totally generic, not very well made movie. Now let’s hook him up with one of the really good directors and see what happens.

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

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2014 at 12:37 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.

23 Responses to “Hijacked”

  1. 1. That’s a cricket bat.
    2. Craig Fairbrass is a DTV action lead in his own right.

    After seeing a truly shitty Fairbrass called The Outsider (featuring a slumming it Jason Patric and James Caan) I used my Google-fu to discover that you’d never reviewed any of his films.

  2. What’s your thoughts on Vinnie Jones, Vern? Over here in the UK he’s still famous as an ex-soccer player, but I can’t really imagine Americans understanding his appeal without knowing about his notorious soccer career. He was the archetypical ‘soccer hardman’ – a really dirty, violent player, and that’s why he was cast in LOCK STOCK and SNATCH. But without knowing that he must just seem like an Englishman who can’t act? Other non-Brits feel free to comment as well.

    PS as a Brit it pains me to call football ‘soccer’. Hope you appreciate it.

  3. Every time you namedrop MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, Vern, I laugh. Every. Single. Time.

  4. My question is: Is Midnight Meat Train good? I never got around to watching it.

  5. I like it. Seen it twice now. It plays it so straight that you think it’s just some boring torture porn thing but it’s just saving up all the crazy for the end.

  6. Vern, have you never actually reviewed MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, despite referencing it like 30 times?

  7. I’m sure there must be a MMT review buried in the archives somewhere. I liked it. Vinnie Jones is good in it because he isn’t acted to speak or really do anything beyond act scary and bash Ted Raimi’s skull with a meat tenderiser until his eyeball pops out. It’s the role he was born to play.

    Come on Vern, I know you’re Anglophobic and all, but you seriously can’t recognise a cricket bat when you see one? Cricket is a gentlemanly game and the bats are only used as bumpaddles in exceptional circumstances.

  8. For about half a second I thought this was going to be a review of A Hijacking, the Dutch answer to Captain Philips (although I think it may have come out first, so technically Captain Philips is the American answer to A Hijacking). I was not aware of Vinnie Jones’s footballer past (I like soccer quite a bit, but it takes a lot of time to following the game over here in the states). But he’s always struck me as suitably menacing. I’ve never seen anything where he has to show any real range, but he plays a scary motherfucker pretty well.

  9. The Original Paul

    August 21st, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    In all fairness to Vern, I think most people who’ve actually watched cricket have probably died when doing it. (Sorry, cricket fans, I just have a very very very low tolerance for basically any sport that isn’t MMA. Hell, I’m British and I only know Vinnie Jones from his film appearances.)

    Talking of MMA, I’ve never actually seen Couture fight live. I’ve sort of known OF MMA from a fairly young age but I’ve only got seriously into it fairly recently – well, not that recently, six or seven years ago I think? – and I think he’d already retired by then. At the very least he was on his way out. I don’t know what he’s like. The only thing I’ve ever even seen him in, as far as I recall, is “The Expendables”, and I didn’t even recognise him then. It does make me wonder who else might try their hand at the movie business. With many different MMA fighters acting in films like “Unisol: Regeneration” and “Blood and Bone”, and the likes of Rousey, Carano and Couture actually getting major roles, I wonder if we’ll see – say – BJ Penn, now that he’s “officially” retired? Anybody think that’s likely?

  10. Vern is the only person on earth who dislikes SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Of course he has no idea what a cricket bat is.

  11. Wil – It is well known here that he’s an ex-soccerer, but of course we don’t know the context of his reputation. I assume we all think of him as the guy from LOCK STOCK or the Juggernaut, bitch. But like the best athletes turned actors he has a tough appearance and presence. You don’t have to know his past to know there is SOME kind of past there. If not kicking a ball maybe breaking legs.

    I think the only times I’ve come across people who hated him it was Brits carrying over some sporting business I wouldn’t know about. But Americans don’t think about him as much.

    Majestyk – I think MMT was one of those movies where I started writing about it at the time and put it off too long and it was out of my mind by the time I remembered. But I kinda liked it. And I regret not having one every time I review a new Bradley Cooper movie. I should re-watch it soon.

    Crustacean – Am I really Anglophobic? No, I don’t know what a cricket looks like, but now that you explain it I understand the joke in the movie. Ross didn’t know what it was either and wondered if it was something kinky.

  12. I think of Vinnie Jones as the same as R. Lee Ermey. He’s there to look mean & yell & in Jones case, make someone bleed. I’m usually pleased to see him show up.

  13. Vern: I don’t think you’re an Anglophobe, although sometimes you view British cultural exports with deep suspicion, especially if they develop a cult following in the US.

  14. Yeah I’m with you Paul, cricket is a big deal here too, but I find it as boring as batshit. I don’t mind MMA sometimes, but I’m always up for watching a boxing match. There’s something so pure and unadulterated about two men (legally)beating the living shit out of each other. I have to site WHEN WE WERE KINGS and Ali’s spirit(“I just tussled wid a bear!”) in that for switching me on to the sport.

  15. In my defense I did like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, I just didn’t think it was the greatest thing ever like it says in the history books. In my not-defense, I almost turned off WORLD’S END after a while because only the fight scenes did anything for me.

    Crustacean, I accept your description of my anglo-suspicionism.

  16. Vern, if only the fight scenes in THE WORLD’S END – an even better movie than the greatest thing ever – did anything for you, I’m afraid anglophobia’s the least of your problems. Who can resist the combination of rock’n roll, beer, British humor, beer, hommages to Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, aliens, beer, anarchy and kung fu?! I’m writing to Mojo Nixon and having him change the line in ELVIS IS EVERYWHERE from “Michael J. Fox has no Elvis in him” to “Outlawvern has no Elvis in him”.

  17. The only time I ever vaguely understood cricket was back in the early ’00s when, probably motivated by some sort of youthful cinematic completism, I watched a two-day broadcast of endless Bollywood movie LAGAAN, which deals with the sport. I came away with a fairly good knowledge of how it works, but also with the realisation that I’ll never again watch another Bollywood movie.

  18. In the U.S. there’s a pretty strong minority of Anglophiles. This is why I tend to also be a little skeptical of British imports. It’s not that I don’t like British films and TV shows; it’s just that it takes a little bit of work for me to enjoy them. I know a few people who seem to add a few points to any film or show where people speak with English accents. After a while, this become a little grating. I’m sure if people in Great Britain were always going on about how great American pop culture is, there would also be a number of people who would push back a little on this assumption.

  19. I can see how you might get that Vinnie Jones has a history if you know nothing about his sports career – I guess it’s like how I can see that Fred Williamson/Carl Weathers/ Terry Crews’ careers add some legitmacy to them even though I know nothing about NFL.

    On the Anglophile thing, it does seem like there’s a contigent of Americans who will love anything if its British, and lump it all together. It’s like Downton Abbey, whih is really mainstream populist network drama, but some Americans seem to compare it to Mad Men or The Sopranos or something. Or Masterpiece Theatre showing like Lewis/Morse or the Poirot adaptations like they’re high art – they are basically just the British equivalent to CSI or Law and Order or NCIS – the sort of shit your grandparents have on in the background. The same seems to happen with a lot rubbish mainstream sitcoms that people seem to think are comparable to Arrested Development.

    Shaun Of The Dead is amazing though.

  20. Am I the only one who is really looking forward to see Vinnie Jones as a regular in the upcoming fairy tale musical comedy series GALAVANT? Because let’s face it: Someone like Jones in the middle of a weekly fairy tale musical comedy is something, that in my opinion must be seen.

  21. Ahem. Vern. You still haven’t addressed ”Fairbrass-gate”

    I mean. The man was in Cliffhanger! (…and Eastenders)

  22. As someone said already, Vinnie Jones is absolutely perfect in MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (the movie itself is interesting, but not that good). But I do think he’s pretty annoying in any movie where he has to talk more than he does in MMT. And generally speaking, I do find annoying that he seems to have become one of those “lazy casting” guyss, like Danny Trejo or Bruce Campbell or Robert Englund or Sid Haig or Michael Berryman or Danny Glover, some face you’ll recognize from another, better movie you liked years ago, and is now used by lazy filmmakers to endorse the worst crap because it’s easier than trying to produce an actually good movie.

  23. Oh, and for the record, Vinnie Jones’ best performance was in Eurotrip

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