"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

The Old Guard

THE OLD GUARD is a pretty good Pandemic Summer blockbuster, because I’m sure it would’ve felt underwhelming if it had been advertised for months and played on the big screen, but as a movie I read mentioned once or twice and never saw promoted until shortly before it dropped on Netflix, it was enjoyable.

In the opening scenes it almost seems like another one in the tradition of CLOSE and EXTRACTION – militarized elite mercenaries or whatever, all geared up with their guns and armor and headsets, on a mission to rescue kidnapped kids in a Muslim country (South Sudan this time). But there are little hints that something else is up – wait, is that guy carrying a sword? They have a team, too, instead of one burnt out loner who’s messed up about losing a kid. Their leader is Andy (Charlize Theron, with hair and physicality that reminded me she was AEON FLUX), who thinks they should be laying low, but reluctantly agrees to meet with this ex-CIA guy Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor, TRIPLE 9) for intel.

It turns out to be a trap. They breach the place and the walls close in on them and some guys come out and machine gun them. A minute later is when we get to the real premise – the team wake up, the bullets drop out of their wounds, they heal and they stand up and kill those motherfuckers with that sword and a cool ax and some kung fu and shit. (Fight coordinator: Daniel Hernandez, xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, VENOM.)

It’s based on a comic book published by Image Comics starting in 2017, adapted for the screen by its original writer, Greg Rucka. These guys are all warriors who are immortals. They don’t know why, it just happened that way. They have dreams that lead them to each other, but unlike the immortals in the Highlander universe they don’t kill each other. They team up and go around together and try to put their healing powers and centuries worth of combat practice to positive use.

Andy is short for Andromache of Scythia. If I were her I would use the full name, honestly. Like X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, they live so long they get mixed up in all the conflicts. At one point we see her in an American civil war photo, fighting for the Union, I believe. Her best buddy Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts, RUST AND BONE, THE DROP) fought under Napoleon. Joe (Marwan Kenzari, BEN-HUR, THE MUMMY) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli, THE GREAT BEAUTY, THEY CALL ME JEEG) fought on opposite sides of the Crusades before they figured out they were soul mates. There’s a great moment where they get captured by shithead mercenaries and one tries to insult him with a “what is he, your boyfriend?” remark. Joe makes a little speech about what Nicky really means to him, far beyond a mere boyfriend, an epic description backed by hundreds of years of profound connection. The asshole has no retort.

(I was surprised just now to realize Kenzari is the same guy who played Jafar in the live action ALADDIN – I kinda liked that movie, but he has much more presence here.)

It’s harder to be immortal these days without somebody figuring it out. For example this Copley guy, who records their death and resurrection and shows it to pharmaceuticals CEO nerd tyrant Steven Merrick (Harry Melling, Dudley from the HARRY POTTER movies). Merrick is immediately hateable for 1) his bug-eyed acting style and 2) wearing a hoodie under a suit. Not my favorite villain, but at least not a bland one. He gets a reaction.

He sends thugs to try to capture Andy and her team to be used as guinea pigs, believing it’s ethical to imprison, torture and even kill them because it might help other people live longer. And make the stockholders lots of money. But Andy and friends are a little preoccupied because for the first time in forever they’re aware of a newbie. Andy has to go to Afghanistan to pick up Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK), an American soldier who freaks everybody out when she quickly heals from a throat slashing.

They have some fun with their ability to get shot up and maimed and then walk it off. There’s a good compound fracture. Otherwise the story is mostly made of familiar beats, but not bad ones. Andy shows Nile tough love to prove to her she’s immortal, dragging her into a Jeep, shooting her in the head when she runs, fighting her in the cargo hold of a plane, threatening to crash the plane, etc. And by the end they really like and respect and are nice to each other. I like that kind of story.

I have seen some high praise for the action, as well as some pushback. I would say it’s in the middle. Doesn’t excel like EXTRACTION, but above average. It’s shot pretty clearly, and Charlize gets some good moves. Maybe too much emphasis on the upper body without showing their feet.

To me the strength of the movie is the little character moments. I like the bonds shown between these people who share a lonely, weird existence, have known each other almost literally forever, and have died for each other. They meet up in new cities, hug each other, have their own jokes with each other. Without giving anything away, I especially like the way they deal with it when one of them has wronged the others. They’ve been through too much to just switch to being enemies.

Of course this reminded me of HIGHLANDER and some of what’s fun about those stories. There’s some overlap – jokes about what they’ve witnessed throughout history, flashbacks to different time periods, Andy having a Rodin sculpture in her secret stash cave. And the way they get in Netflix’s beloved “haunted by the loss of a child” trope is by using Connor MacLeod’s backstory from the earlier drafts, that he had kids and had to watch them grow old and die. Some sad shit! It’s also different from HIGHLANDER in that it emphasizes their adaptation to modern technology – the sword and ax are there, but they (sadly) don’t default to them.

The similarities made me think oh damn, Charlize would’ve been a good, uh… Connie MacLeod in Chad Stahelski’s HIGHLANDER remake. As much as I enjoyed this, I’m assuming that will be better because undoubtedly the action will be better, and I think Stahelski’s movies are stylish enough that there’s a chance he’ll recognize the importance of flashy technique when following in Russell Mulcahy’s white Diadora Borg Elite trainer footsteps.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood – who I know from LOVE & BASKETBALL, but she got some hype for BEYOND THE LIGHTS several years ago – isn’t going for stylization like Mulcahy. But she also doesn’t do the yellow tinting some people objected to on EXTRACTION. (There were apparently two cinematographers: HIGH ART’s Tami Reiker, and Barry Ackroyd of THE HURT LOCKER and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.) It’s a decent looking film, but I think her strengths are more dealing with actors and characters than visuals. I guess I haven’t seen enough Netflix originals to generalize, but of the action ones POLAR is the only one I can think of that’s stylistically playful.

I’m wondering if we should call this category of movies DTV+ or something. They have Charlize Theron and a $70 million budget – doesn’t seem fair to put it in the same category with Jesse V. Johnson, even if most of his are better than this. But they find that sweet spot in between the expectations of a theatrical movie and a TV show. I don’t need to watch this every week, but I’m happy that it’s clearly intended as a series, especially since the next one would likely revolve around the minor character played by the great Veronica Ngo (credited here as Van Veronica Ngo) of the Vietnamese action films FURIE and CLASH.

In addition to the pandemic, this is a summer of upheaval. Snowballing injustices and unrest have forced a long overdue season for us to collectively face and rethink some of the things we’ve been ignorant or complacent about. On that score, good for Netflix putting this budget behind a Black woman director, particularly for something that’s just cool and fun, not looking for prestige. And for having a cool gay couple in it – again, just because it’s part of the story, not because it’s About Something Important.

On the other hand, I’m starting to be more conscious of how comfortable I’ve gotten over the years with the way modern action movies glorify militarism. I struggled with this in my upcoming book, because an effective, traditional way to explain someone’s fighting abilities is to make them ex-military. In the ‘80s you could say they’d been in Vietnam, a war most everyone agreed was a mistake. But now it pretty much has to be related to the vaguely defined “War on Terror,” still in progress, so it’s often treated as a straight forward heroism, not a dark, complicated one.

Nile needs to be a modern day warrior, so she needs to be a soldier in Afghanistan. And she needs to be a good guy, so they make a point of showing that she’s extra empathetic when entering someone’s home (to save them from a bad man), and reminds her team to be respectful. There’s more to it than that, and it’s not what most of the movie is about (the bad guys are Big Pharma, after all), but I think it ends up leaving an impression of don’t worry, there are some good people in there, we’re the good guys. Don’t worry about this neverending occupation. At least when combined with a hundred other movies doing the same thing.

I want to be respectful of veterans and the tricky dynamics of the situation, but maybe a military conflict that’s old enough to vote should have to be depicted with a Verhoeven eye for the infuriating madness of it all. Maybe at some point it becomes immoral to unquestioningly push this assumption that sending our troops everywhere is the only possibility.

So anyway…

THE OLD GUARD is a fun movie. Andy is no Furiosa and this is no ATOMIC BLONDE, but I love that Theron is both a respectable Academy Award winning Great Actress and somebody who gets totally excited to train and do somersaults and look cool in some genre shit that could’ve gone to Milla Jovovich. I like these characters, I like this cast, I look forward to more at some point. My heart says don’t make Ngo the bad guy, because what about friendship? But my fandom says I gotta see that battle. A great screen martial artist who’s also a fine actress vs. one of our finest actresses who’s also a great action star. Straight outta Scythia, into your living room.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Fantasy/Swords, 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.

380 Responses to “The Old Guard”

  1. Not sure if i’ll ever get Netflix. There’s already so many old movies i haven’t seen.

    Wish this, The Irishman and The Night Comes For Us got a theatrical release though. Watching movies in a theater is the best way for me. I get distracted easily watching stuff at home.

  2. Interested to finally sit down and watch this one soon (my mom texted me to tell me how much she liked it, which is usually a pretty good sign, she’s got fun taste in action movies- she’s the reason ERASER was on constant rotation in our house).

    This is actually based on a comic book by Greg Rucka, which I read and thought was ok but not excellent. From the review, it sounds like they stayed pretty true to the source. There’s a bunch of more interesting action comics (as opposed to Action Comics feat. Superman) they could have adapted instead, many of them even written by the same guy who wrote this, but I guess the high concept is what sells these days.

  3. I found this film to be an incredibly boring pilot of a tv show I would give up on after an episode of two. This thing has no life despite it being about immortals. People gave Extraction shit for having no levity but I would argue this is worse. 80% are speeches about how much it sucks.

    If this thing was 20 mins shorter and didn’t spend so much time with monologues how much it sucks to be immortal I may have liked it. It’s way too long.

    The fights didn’t do anything for me beside they had cool choreography that wasn’t performed with much zip.

    I don’t know. It’s well made and the director feels more at home with drama scenes. I really am glad she tried this at least and it’s doing well enough that I pray we get more action films from more than just white dudes.

  4. Thank you for acknowledging the action is only in the middle. On the old ACR I’d give it a 3 at best, which is better than Greengrass but still cut to shit and shakycam. To make 87eleven action look bad you have to really be trying to.

    But I suppose it’s telling about the state of action in the last 20 years that medium blows people away. Still, they’ve seen John Wick and Atomic Blondie, or even Birds of Prey. And as mentioned above, Extraction had good clear action whether you liked the story or not.

  5. Haven’t seen this, but I do think the war on terror has had a few Verhoevenish stories…I don’t remember Jarhead super well but that kind of fits, and Three Kings. And of course they were shot when the war was still relatively new. Now it’s just ind of this thing that’s been happening and no one much pays attention to it unless something big is going on like us going against that huge caliphate a year and change ago. Otherwise it’s hardly even background noise.. pretty weird.

  6. Those were about the first Iraq war though! But my point is not that there should be *some* movies critical of the War on Terror (there are). It’s that I’m starting to feel that *any* portrayal that’s not explicitly critical is pretty much indoctrination at this point.

  7. Holy shit you’re right…They WERE about the first Iraqi war. That’s insane, this war has been going on so long I got them confused. I do get where you’re coming from…don’t totally agree, because it is good shorthand and I know this guy who used it to show why his character had trauma without delving into anything too much, and it IS a good way to show why someone is good at killing people. But it’s not really an unreasonable view either.

    Was a little curious about this, checked out some…wanted to see some of the action. It’s decent but kinda generic…I disagree with people saying it’s cut too much or shakycam. I know what shakycam is and the moves in this are clear. Sometimes if a camera isn’t sitting on a tripod in a wide shot people want to talk about Greengrass but I don’t buy that at all.

    What IS kind of so-so is the action itself. It’s good, it’s slick, well put together with nice choreography but man is this style getting old. Where everyone is a supreme professional badass always running around in the fucking Weaver stance and then grabbing someone’s arm and doing some kind of move where they roll together, then they stand and fire off a perfect two shots to the chest and one on the head on someone coming at them and everything’s perfect. These 87eleven action scenes just feel like corporate McDonald’s fries at this point.

    If someone really wants to mix things up, give us some sloppier action, or something like The Warriors where it’s just really tough…actually that aspect was great in that London tv show now I forget what it was called. It was slick but not overly produced feeling. Or some martial arts where it feels a little jazzier and not out of the pre-viz factory, like what Jackie Chan or Donnie Yen or Sammo would do (especailly Jackie in his prime).

  8. Probably the most ‘Meh’ film i’ve seen this year.
    It definitely has an interesting premise but it all just feels boring and what action there is it’s not choreographed/filmed well.
    Charlize was the best thing in it by a long mile.

  9. I am guessing you mean Gangs of London, Muh, which was, after all directed by the guy who made THE RAID. I’m not quite ready to say I’m bored with 87eleven action just yet, if only because they’ve raised the bar on what is acceptable as action in these kinds of movies.

    I liked OLD GUARD more than I liked EXTRACTION but less than CLOSE. The cast is very good all the way down, although I might worry that Ejiofor could get stuck with these kinds of roles when he deserves better, and I could’ve used more skinny Dudley Dursley being wild eyed and evil. But it’s not just Theron’s show, as some seem to be suggesting.

    But what I really thought, and I thought it during EXTRACTION too, as did some others here, was “Gee, the good guys surely do kill a lot of people.”, which I think kinda links in to what Vern is saying about us becoming inured to the War on Terror. Maybe if you sign up to the private army of some wild-eyed pharma CEO with no scruples you get what’s coming to you, maybe, but the culpability of a lot of the fodder soldiers and police in EXTRACTION was a real grey area. I know this seems an odd complaint to make against action movies, but it feels like we’re a long way from John Connor’s “You just can’t go around killing people.”

    If our hero is gonna take out the bad guys, I wanna know they killed his dog and so really deserve it.

  10. Really just ok movie and completely forgettable.

    The one moment, though, that will really stick with me: the flashback to the immortal who is put in an iron coffin and thrown in the ocean. Obviously they set this up that she would be a central character of any kind of sequel at the end.

    But that whole idea of someone spending eternity drowning and dying over and over again, never breathing air for centuries, locked in that box. I could not get that out of my head the rest of the movie. I’m actually still thinking about it a bit, just a gruesome, dark fairy tale type scene that really stuck the landing for me.

  11. Man, I think I burned out on “87eleven Action” in the middle of the first John Wick…

    Bad guy, approaches John Wick. John Wick puts bad guy in wrist lock. The John Wick Wrist Lock™ causes bad guy’s entire body to go limp, suddenly his other arm and both legs no longer work. John Wick can then use him as shield, whip him around indiscriminately while shooting other bad guys, or tie bad guy into pretzel causing him to shoot himself in the face with his own gun. Repeat 200x, that’s John Wick 1. 600x, the John Wick trilogy. It gets real old…

    In contrast, Point Blank was on a couple days ago. The fight in the back of the movie house doesn’t even seem choreographed. Like, at all… It seems like Boorman’s only direction was “Beat the fucking shit out of each other. Okay? Action!” The result? A hell of a lot more visceral and memorable than 200 fucking wrist locks.

  12. I did not expect to like this more than most of you. Normally I’m the first to eyeroll an action movie that just wants to mope instead of kicking ass, but I liked the characters (Well, except for the newbie, who strikes a blow for equality by proving just as milquetoast as any of the bland white guys who’ve played the audience POV character in a fantasy movie) and I found the mythology and the film’s take on immortality to be so interesting that I didn’t care how mediocrely the action was covered. It was fine. Like someone said, I’ve seen 87Eleven action scenes before. I’ll see them again. I’m not gonna cry if they’re not 100% clear as a bell in this one case when the action isn’t really the main course for this particular meal. It’s cool to realize that the premise of this origin story isn’t what you think. SPOILER: It’s not the story of a badass immortal and her team: it’s the story of a former immortal adjusting to mortal life with the help of her still immortal team. We still get all the gore and stunts but Charlize has something extra to chew on. I’ll definitely watch a sequel if we’re not all dead by then.

  13. By the by, the best straight-to-Netflix action I’ve seen lately has been LOST BULLET (BALLE PERDUE), which Fred was boosting but otherwise seems to’ve gone largely unremarked.

    To be sure, my expectations were low – I envisaged TAXI with less slapstick – but it really delivers a good time, even if it makes you wait a long time for the car carnage the premise promises.

  14. Yes Borg9! Gangs of London! That had the best tv fight scenes since Banshee, and probably bettered it. And that’s a REAL high fucking bar. It has a few real slick fights, had some brawl fights, a brutal fight, a scary fight with an insane slasher. None of them felt the same.

    And there was that ONE episode, if anyone say the show you know which one I mean…it’s just like holy fuck. I absolutely put it on par with The Raid. It’s not nonstop action, but EVERY scene had suspense or something along those lines, and then totally insane bloody wowsers action. A brilliant episode and Gareth directed that one, clearly.

    I’ve been on a tear with British shows right now. London was very good but sort of petered off at the end, I was hoping it would have had a more real contained END instead of setting up more but that’s okay. And then I saw Inside Number 9 which is easily one of the best tv shows I’ve ever seen. Every single episode is great. I was looking for a horror anthology and there’s not a ton of them and heard about that show…it’s not HORROR, more like Alfred Hitchcock if it were really funny, but it can also get really twisted. But every (short six episode) season does has a straight up horror episode, still with a lot of humor. Amazing writing. Recommended!

  15. I thought this was decent, though I was more interested in the setup than the followthrough. I’ve read complaints that since the characters are immortal, there’s no real threat in the action scenes, but I think we accept that most movie action heroes are immortal. This film’s just explicit about it.

    It played a bit like a vampire movie for me. There are shades of NEAR DARK in the family/group dynamic.

  16. I NEVER get that complaint about there not being a threat in the action scenes or they have plot armor or whatever. It’s like yeah, when I’m watching Arnold or Sly or The Rock or Seagal I don’t actually feel concerned that any of them are going to take a bullet to the head. The closest a pure action movie has gotten to real fear for a protagonist I’d say is Die Hard, where McClane is REALLY put through the ringer. But come on, no one thinks he’s going to slip off that fire hose and fall to his death.

  17. It’s not even a fair complaint in the case of THE OLD GUARD, as the story of Veronica Ngo’s Quynh makes it pretty clear that really very bad shit can still happen to them, immortal or not.

  18. Plus, I thought they did a good job of establishing that any death could be the last. They really worry about each other every time. Other than for training purposes, death is never taken casually, and in many cases would be preferable alternative to the many other fates that could befall them. Imagine getting dissected for decades straight. Isn’t that literally what hell is supposed to be? I honestly felt far more worried for these supposedly invincible characters than do for most traditional action heroes, who are functionally invincible anyway. As scary as death is, there’s nothing scarier than eternity.

  19. ~Possible Spoilers~

    I really liked this one – not quite loved, but it was very enjoyable. My favorite things were the effortless displays of teamwork when the Immortals were fighting, and the fact that Joe and Nicky wound up together after meeting and killing each other during the Crusades. And Charlize Theron continues to be an amazing badass who manages to express herself as well with fight scenes as she does with dialogue (her match with Nile on the plane wasn’t exactly amazing but the expressions on Andromache’s face and her eventual enjoyment made up for it).

  20. Overall I liked this and would watch episode 2, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An action scene that isn’t in an empty, dark room or an office hallway would be nice. I also would have appreciated it if they had put a little bit of effort into Charlize’s ancient flashbacks. But I’d agree that the best thing about the movie is the closeness between Andy and her team and how they all seemed to have GOOD HEARTS. Even the big betrayal is done out of love. Nile is stuck being the hesitant, conflicted character who doesn’t want to accept her new reality for most of the movie, but I was on board with her by the end of the movie.

    Points to the cast for doing most of their own stunts. That’s always nice to see. Like others have said, the action is decent, but not amazing. It felt like the director was dipping her toe in the John Wick style.

    The way they made the immortals vulnerable worked pretty well for me. The iron coffin thing was particularly fucked up.

    All signs point to a big showdown between Charlize and the lead from FURIE, so that bodes well for a sequel. I’m guessing Charlize will get her healing abilities back after she kills the star of FURIE? Maybe? (I’m assuming Charlize will regain her healing at some point if she continues to star in these movies.) And I hope Andy’s world weariness doesn’t go away *completely*. This is a Greg Rucka property, so I want to see a Renee Montoya-esque bar fight in the sequel.

    One more thing– I had to laugh at super innocent, naive Chiwetel’s surprise *every. single. time.* the clearly evil, beady-eyed BIG PHARMA guy didn’t do the right thing. “I-I never agreed to this….”

  21. Yeah I didn’t see the woman in the coffin part but man that would be the most horrible thing ever. Shit just being buried alive would be bad enough, but that? The worst.

  22. I really liked this one. I guess I can see everyone’s complaints about it being boring or the action not that great or whatever, but I don’t agree. I don’t think it was the most exciting or the best action, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

    One of the highlights for me was the speech Vern mentions about the love Joe feels for Nicky. I thought they felt like real people. They didn’t feel like mythic, badass, mopey immortals. They felt like a group of people who had deep, meaningful relationships, had been through some serious shit together and were showing some melancholy. I actually didn’t find this to be very heavy on the burned out, cynical stuff. I’m not sure what the difference is, but for me, personally, I didn’t think it near as morose as EXTRACTION or even ATOMIC BLONDE. I also thought they gave Nile just the right amount of “I didn’t sign up for this shit – I want my old life” without making her annoying. I also really like how they handled **SPOILER** Booker’s betrayal. It wasn’t done out of anger. He was hurting and thought this was a solution. He pretty much immediately regretted it. The others were hurt and mad and knew he had to face some consequences, but they weren’t going to write him off completely. And he knew he deserved it.

    Anyway, I liked it. Maybe partly because I had zero expectations but I’d re-watch it and hope there’s a sequel. That drowning over and over fate is truly a nightmare. I hope they don’t make her a complete lunatic bad guy, but could understand if you’d end up that way.

  23. Well I’ll take solace in knowing Franchise Fred and myself agree lol

  24. Maggie – I didn’t want to mention it in the review because SPOILERS but I think that part you mentioned about Booker knowing he deserved his punishment was maybe my favorite part in the movie. Specifically when Andy said she wanted to let him off with a warning and he laughed and said she would learn. (Does the cliffhanger imply that he’ll be holding a grudge, though? It seems to set up for those two to be the bad guys, but hopefully it will be more complex than that.)

  25. I’m LOL-ing a bit at the digs at “big Pharma” here when we are all literally waiting for them to save our lives in the next six months. I wouldn’t mind some immortal blood or whatever right now.

  26. Beyond the Lights is probably in my Top 5 Movies of the ’10s, so this was never going to live up to that, but I still loved it. I mean, it has alot going against it – a plot we’ve seen before in Highlander and vampire movies, Theron playing the same role she played in Hancock, Ejiofor kinda playing the same guy he played in Serenity, etc… All the familiar beats are there but I thought the action was solid and I loved the chemistry of the team. If there’s one glaring problem it’s definitely KiKi Layne, whose cardboard-like line readings stuck out like a sore thumb in a mostly well-acted movie. (I mean, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega’s charisma and likability went a LONG way in smoothing over how poorly defined their characters were in Star Wars – Layne has almost no screen presence, but at least I’m glad the script treats her as just the new Immortal on the block, and not The Chosen One Immortal who immediately has more power than Charlize, etc…)

    Also I really loved the message about Theron’s character being jaded about how shitty the world is, and not realizing that her little victories throughout the years were having a butterfly effect and ended up making the world slightly less shitty. It’s corny and simple but I thought it was kind of a powerful thing to say in a time when the world is undoubtedly in a long stretch of shittiness.

  27. Vern, I think it could go either way. They’ve shown he’s lonely and sad and has it in him to do something stupid and desperate, so to then be even more isolated could be enough to make him side with her. But it could also be that he’s going to be conflicted and trying to be a calming influence. I like how nuanced things were played in this one and I’m hoping they keep that up.

    I also totally understand where you’re coming from on the soldier stand point. I thought the same thing when I was watching this. Lately I’ve wondered about how many cop shows I watch. I’m trying to just think of them as complete fantasy. They’re one step short of having elves and magic shit. Maybe that way I can stomach them for awhile longer.

  28. I didn’t particularly buy Booker’s betrayal, nor that Copley would be so naive, but whatever. This stuff maneuvered the players into place, and I liked the interactions they all had when they got there. It was clunky but good stuff arose from it.

    I really loved how calm all the immortals were. None of the short-lifers and their infantile bullshit could get much of a rise out of them, and even Booker’s betrayal—which would require him to pay with his life in literally any other movie—was treated like a dick move, like hooking up with your buddy’s not a heel turn that would villainize him forever. They’d all been together too long to think that a little thing like literally shooting your leader in the back and selling her to a pharmaceutical company come between them forever. It felt adult in a way that most drama—which relies on adolescent passions and childish overreactions to drive the plot—has little use for. With time, nothing is unforgivable, and these characters have nothing but time. Sure, it’s not the kind of whiplash emotional rollercoaster that peak TV relies on, but it felt real.

    I’m sure Booker will play the same conflicted turncoat role in THE OLDER GUARD. Iron Maiden Lady will convince him that Andy abandoned him just like she abandoned her, but then when he sees how far she’s willing to go, he’ll switch sides again. You hate to see a character repeat patterns like that, but what can you do? He’s only 200. He’ll grow out of it when he’s more mature.

    Also, if anybody is interested in the non-comics work of Greg Rucka (one of my favorites from my funnybook-reading days), I would recommend the Atticus Kodiak series. The first three books are about the titular security expert taking different bodyguard jobs, but then in the fourth Rucka seems to get bored, so he viciously tears apart the entire format of his series, which then continues for a few more books with a totally different premise. It’d be like if the fourth season of CHEERS ditched all established locations and cast and suddenly it was about Sam becoming a ski instructor or something. I read that fourth book just before I started my own series, and it was a real inspiration to me. I had previously labored under the impression that a series had to stick to certain tenets: a profession, a milieu, a location, a time period, a cast of characters. The familiarity of it all being the selling point. Rucka’s bold choice to trim all that fat and follow the central character into a new phase of his life gave me the courage to allow my own series to travel wherever it wanted to go, and I’ve been exploring it ever since.

  29. Also, I feel like a gif of Joe saying “You’re a child. An infant. Your mocking is thus infantile” would really come in handy when internetting with at least half of America’s pissbaby citizens so somebody really ought to get on that.

  30. On the note of Rucka’s other work- he also did a comic series called QUEEN AND COUNTRY which is quite good- basically a very gritty, ground-level spy story. It’s often described as “Jane Bond”, since it stars a lady British spy (named Tara Chase) but it’s much more grounded than any but the earliest of the Bond movies. If you’re not into the comic scene, he also wrote a few prose novels following the same character that similarly blow up the premise in an interesting way (mostly by just allowing Tara to age like a normal person).

  31. I concur that QUEEN & COUNTRY, in both graphic novel and prose form, is dope. Rucka’s the fuckin’ man.

  32. Also, how badass is that last name? I want to invite him and his whole family to a barbecue just so I have occasion to say “Bring the motherfuckin’ Ruckas.”

  33. Michaelangelo McCullar

    July 16th, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    I thought it was a cool touch that Nile was a member of the Female Engagement Team. That’s an underseen aspect of the military.

  34. To be fair, what explanation for a character having action movie skills would be acceptable if ‘ex-military’ is out? Cop? NRA member? Please don’t say CIA agent……..

    (And isn’t it a little weird that ‘Mafia hitman’ is apparently okay?)

  35. I will say I kind of like it when sometimes a character has random skills. Like in Hard Target, why is this kickboxing great shooter and flipper just some dock schmo? Movie don’t even care.

  36. I think too many people think cop shows and movies are recruiting white supremacists. I don’t really see how. I feel like cops are portrayed as either idiots or they are portrayed as doing the right thing. I can’t imagine a person seeing a corrupt cop movie thinking how awesome it is to be a cop. I guess I”m able to separate fiction from real life better than 80% of people or something.

    I do think we should get a TV show that pairs up a cop with a social worker so maybe we can normalize that situation more. But portray both as competent and not like cop makes fun of stuffy social worker plot mechanics.

  37. I don’t know that cop movies are recruiting white supremacists (although they have been infiltrating the cops for awhile now). It’s more like cop movies, especially ones people drawn to being a cop would watch, would tend to glamorize or or at least show it’s fine to abuse criminals (only as long as they’re bad though) or shoot people. It’s not about showing a corrupt cop, it’s having Riggs abuse somone in custody for comic relief. Or Bad Boys 2 where they terrorize some kid for laughs.

  38. This movie rubbed me wrong in so many ways.

    Takes itself waaaaay too seriously, and has a mid-section which brings an already lumbering narrative to a crashing halt.

    If you’re gonna take frequent time off from the ass-kicking for weighty world-weary ruminations and regrets on a life long lived on doling out violence a la UNFORGIVEN, then you better have an Eastwood or a Freeman in the bunch to make me give a shit or a Hackman to scare me shitless.

    And for a movie about a bunch of immortals who’ve been around for millenia, where’s the sense of scope? Even largely set in present day NY, you got that epic sweep of Connor MacLeod’s life that told you this dude’s been kicking around in kilts since the days of BRAVEHEART (or ROB ROY) and he gunned down a Nazi in WW2 to save a girl who’s now his assistant not to mention fought a drunken duel in the era of powdered wigs and tights through some nice flashback cut-aways.

    What does The Old Guard give you? Snapshots on a corkboard, ONE flashback of Quynh and Andy and a whole lot of blah-we met during-blah blah- this happened during-blah blah exposition.

    You’re telling me a 70 mil budget didn’t stretch to some mini flashbacks detailing these characters’ backstories , a couple of basic establishing shots, a little green screen recreation of a bygone era, something an average History Channel on YouTube can knock out of the park and which even the otherwise God-Awful X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE aced in it’s credits??

    And..it’s the SECOND high profile Netflix release to criminally waste Veronica Ngo.

    The Old Guard is endemic of the sort of self-important bloviating seriousness that some movies adopt so it’s makers can stroke themselves with the contented smirk that they gave you “more than just an ass-kicking Charlize Theron flick about immortal soldiers”. Listen dipshit, everything from the trailers to the posters sold this as an ass-kicking Charlize Theron flick about immortal soldiers. If you were aiming for “MONSTER” or “NORTH COUNTRY”, ONLY WITH MORE GUNS AND EDGE WEAPONS, then that’s what you should have sold in the promos.

    All The Old Guard succeeded in doing was make me go back and re-watch HIGHLANDER for like the 250th time, and am happy to report, 30 years on, a movie that starts in a wrestling arena, then proceeds to a sword duel in a parking lot before transitioning to medieval Scotland still hits all my geek sweet spots.

    Plus, Clancy Brown’s Kurgan has never dropped out of my Top 10 list of ALL TIME AWESOME SCREEN BADDIES”

    For the no doubt inevitable Old Guard sequel I only have this to say: Can the contemplation and commence with the carnage.

  39. I did not get from the poster that this was anything other than a generic action film. I can see how you’d get it was about immortality if you knew already, but I didn’t and I didn’t. I know it’s not a priority for the world at the moment, but I hope posters get better again at some point in the future.

  40. I don’t think cop shows are recruiting white supremacists. I think they’re creating a false reality that everyone fell for, including myself. Other than maybe being amped up a little for dramatic effect, they think that cops have these super dangerous jobs, but they do them because they believe in justice and being the righter of wrongs, the champion of the little guy. They think they’ve been trained and have a natural affinity for dealing with people and noticing details. They think they’re kept in line because they’re afraid of I.A. and getting their badge taken away by their captain. And if they do step out of line, it’s for the greater good. They’re hampered by a system that favors scumbag defense attorneys who look for loopholes to get their guilty clients off. So, it’s okay when they blur the lines because it’s all in the name of justice and the perps are bad guys who need to be stopped.

    Turns out, none of that is true. Pizza delivery guys have more dangerous jobs and they have bupkis for training or aptitude and no one holds them accountable for any of their actions and the system is set out to screw over the little guy at every turn and other than the very rare occasion, cops are just glorified file clerks. They’re there to blame you for your own sexual assault or give you the correct form to fill out for your insurance, because they aren’t even going to attempt to look for your stolen goods. Or they’re there to give you a ticket. And yet these paper jockeys and violent, untrained, racists somehow need to be kitted out like they’re going up against the goddamn Predator.

  41. Do any of you even know any police officers? I’m friends with one and he’s a good guy trying to do the best he can. He’s from Scotland, thinks Americans are dumb about firearms, votes liberal. Right now, though, I feel bad for him. For example, some people he thought were his friends were filming themselves at the protests calling cops pigs and throwing water bottles at their cars. He likes being a police officer, does a lot of outreach in the community, etc but he’s feeling pretty underappreciated. I can understand his frustration. Whether you like it or not, cops are still an important job in our society. Are there things they do that would be better served to have other people do? Absolutely. Am I for ending qualified immunity? Absolutely (my state did). Do some Cops make poor choices that lead to the death of Black people? Yup. But you can’t just get rid of the police. Heck Black leaders in New York were saying they want more cops back on the street because crime is up over 300%

    It’s also frustrating that the same people who argue that violent video games can’t possibly lead to school shootings are the same pepole who blame Law and Order: SVU for the shit bad Cops do. Give me a break.

  42. Yes, I do know some cops. No, I do not think every single one is bad. I think the majority of them are, or they let others get away with being bad, which makes them also bad. I think it’s a broken system. I think they’re not vetted, trained or monitored properly. I think it’s a toxic environment fomented by bigotry and toxic masculinity and is running out of control with unchecked power which is something that attracts people looking to use that power for their own purposes.

    Was the Law and Order comment toward me? If so, that’s not what I said. If not and you’re just saying in general, okay. I’ve not heard that argument, but agree it’s pretty dumb.

  43. I got a cop friend. And he’s everything you described. And that’s the problem. He got into police work to be a hero, and so he naturally assumes that everything he does is heroic. That makes him pig-headed, self-righteous, manipulative, a terrible listener, and a disingenuous debater. I’d truly hate to be in an interrogation room with him. He’d have his mind made up before he even sat down. He tries be liberal because he’s from a liberal area, but I’ve no doubt that if push came to shove, he’d toe the thin blue line. Because at the end of the day, he’s about being a hero, so if you imply that he or his brethren are not heroes, that makes you the problem. Despite the fact that his own officers have turned on him for some petty fuckshit in the past, I have zero doubt that he subscribes to the “a few bad apples” theory without remembering the rest of that saying. Because it is entirely possible to be a good guy in your personal life and still a tool of an oppressive organization. So no offense, but fuck your one cop friend. Fuck mine too. If they want our respect and gratitude, they need to speak out and clean house and earn it. Of course, if any cops were really in it for us and not just to get their hero boner stroked, we wouldn’t have to explain this to them.

  44. Magggie, that was a general comment based on the countless hours of Twitter I use which I need to cut down on.

    I don’t get that sense but you might be right Mr. M.

  45. I grew up with and am related to several people who are or were cops, and for the most part they’re fine people outside of their job, I get along with them inter-personally, but they’re not good cops because there’s no such thing. It’s impossible to be a good cop and keep being a cop. The good cops are the cops that quit or wash out. The job doesn’t allow for being good. A hypothetical “good cop” would hold other cops accountable when they lie on their reports, or when they lie on the stand, or when they use excessive force but a “good cop” learns very quickly that’s not a smart idea. And if they’re a rare “good cop” that persists anyway, if they ignore all the pressure from their peers and superiors, if they reject the cop-notion that it’s them vs the world (vs not only the bad guys, but the ungrateful public that hates them for protecting them), then they are ostracized and turned against, doing the job becomes untenable, and they quit or are forced out.

  46. Just ask Frank Serpico.

  47. I came across a few things that basically back up what JTS and Majestyk are saying.

    The first is a “one former cop’s story” kind of thing, which makes it a bit more personal and anecdotal, but it’s pretty darn persuasive and lines up to the other data. The second is more systematic. You put these together with some of the actual stats and the anecdotes that we know of, and it paints a pretty compelling picture.

    I’m pasting two links; hopefully, they both come through.

    https://medium.com/@OfcrACab/confessions-of-a-former-bastard-cop-bb14d17bc759

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/7/7/21293259/police-racism-violence-ideology-george-floyd

  48. I guess if I had to boil down my thoughts on this movie from a ramble–to the effect of “good enough that I wish it was better”–to an anecdote, it’s that if your premise is that your good guys fight people with both swords and guns, shouldn’t they have an enemy who wields a sword too? For some kind of climactic swordfight? Instead of just Jason Voorheesing through a bunch of guys with Glocks?

  49. Thanks for the links Skani. I read that second one and it was a good read for me. Appreciate it.

  50. No problem!

  51. The TV show Angel did a take on the whole immortal being loaded into a coffin and dumped in the ocean between the end of Season 3 and the start of Season 4 which was done quite well.

  52. Ninja Scroll did the immortal suffocating at the bottom of the ocean forever thing too. It’s haunted me since I saw it in the 90s.

    I wonder if Lazarus is gonna be made into a show? It’s Rucka’s other immortal warrior series.

    Does anyone watch Stumptown? I never see it mentioned anywhere. It’s not bad!

  53. I did, missed a few episodes and haven’t gone back. I wonder how many shows like this won’t come back after the Pandemic.

  54. Muh – Have you seen Cinemax’s Warrior, a period action drama based on a Bruce Lee story idea? Jonathan Tropper, who was one of the creators behind Banshee, also produced it. I thought the first season was excellent and deserved much more attention.

  55. Joe, I was able to see the first episode which I liked, but haven’t had the opportuity to see more than that. I do need to.

    I assume you watched Banshee? It was a great show but the fourth season was pretty rough. The third though…wow!

  56. For sure, agree about Banshee, Muh. Cinemax seemed to have a nice thing going with its genre shows, but they seemed to get overshadowed by so many other big shows out there. There’s a recent article discussing how original programming on the channel has stopped and none of these shows are even available on HBO Max for people to discover. Too bad.

    Gangs of London was going to air there too but got moved to AMC. Haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  57. So weird that two things that rarely bothers me in movies really stood out as major flaws in this: the use of pop songs, and the look of blandness. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky had it right, it looks like a cable series pilot, a tad above dtv movies, that cost $70millions

  58. Is it the use of pop songs in general that bothers you, or is it the way they are used?

  59. Even Megan Fox wants to be Charlize now!

    ROGUE Official Trailer (2020) Megan Fox VS lions, Action Movie HD

    ROGUE Official Trailer (2020) Megan Fox VS lions, Action Movie HD © 2020 - Lionsgate

  60. My money’s on the lions.

  61. No, I’m not usually against songs in movies but in this one they seem to really stick out, feels totally out of place with what’s on screen. I started the movie a second time and noticed they actually had some nice original score.

  62. Hi to everybody. I am a reader and admirer of vern’s work for years. Have bought seagalogy / have contributed via donation in the past. I need to say some words and please guys try to hear me with an open mind.
    I come here because I love movies. I come here because I love Vern’s take on movies. I come here to read the comment of people who love movies and Vern’s take on them.
    But lately in the comments I ONLY read opinions on political & social stuff many times totally unrelated to the movie at hand. And it goes on and on and on.

    EVERY MOVIE is dissected by being seen from a prism of if it’s progressive enough for 2020 even if it is a “blaxploitation” film from the 70’s. Opinions upon opinions on how to change the 40 year term “blaxploitation”. Dissection of the police problems on a movie about immortals.

    OK. I get it. It’s a time of social change. I’m not in the US so I can’t begin to understand how timely this thing is for you guys who live there.

    But there are SO MANY FORUMS for your debates which are not on websights with the subtitle “Vern’s reviews of the films of cinema”. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t condone or dissaprove views. I am bluntly saying that a site I LOVE and come to decompress from the world and read about MOVIES has been highjacked by political and social commentary. Vern himself feels the need either on his own or by the very change of the comments to “judge” past movies on today’s standards as well, even if it’s lightly (for now).

    The MOVIE DEBATE is dying in here.
    I love you and respect you all you are part of my life for many years. Thank you for letting me speak my mind.

  63. With all due respect, I don’t get this complaint. You had a chance to say whatever you wanted to about this movie or any other and you chose not to. You chose instead to continue the political discussion. Because let’s be clear: Complaining about people talking about politics is STILL TALKING ABOUT POLITICS. By declaring certain topics off limits in certain spaces, you are taking a political stance. I get that the constant barrage of this stuff can be wearying, but the answer is to give us something else to talk about, not berate us for speaking our own minds. You have the exact same rights and abilities to generate discussion as we do. Why not use them? Next time all the political talk gets too much, try steering the conversation back toward the movie by offering your own opinions on it instead of just complaining. If you would like a different topic of discussion, it is up to you to introduce it. No one else is under any obligation to tailor the conversation to your preferences.

    I hope you do not feel attacked. I would be happy to talk movies with you anytime. But you have to SAY SOMETHING about movies first.

  64. I generally agree with Majestyk, which includes that I very much appreciate petrosmt voicing an opinion with kind consideration.

    Another point worth making is that Vern has been an intensely political critic since the 90s. We’re talking about a writer that was forged in the WTO riots here – I really cannot imagine a Vern community that would skew apolitical. Times of intense strife and ruin have always been acknowledged by our host, it only makes sense that his community would follow suit.

    It should also be noted that despite being as welcoming, appreciative and participatory as he is, Vern’s observant, hilarious and unique viewpoints are of such an excellence that they are often greatly intimidating. (This also applies to a great many of the commenters here – particularly you, Majestyk!) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve internally responded with “That’s a really good point, I wish I had something worth contributing.”

    Though we are in a time of serious debate and constant acknowledgement of the world we are in, the amount of in-depth discussion on the internet has greatly decreased from where it was, say, ten or eleven years ago. This is not a solely Vern-centric issue. Where did all the bloggers go? What happened to message-board culture? It is strange to me that substantial writing and debate has to be processed through Twitter threads. Where are half of the outlawvern commenters from 2010? I genuinely would like to know what some of those old names think of the world we are in.

    This was occurring even before the world grew so intensely divisive, and I can’t quite figure out why. Was the novelty of the normalization of internet use still there? Has the malaise of information overload hit us to the point where our minds process words better if they are broken up into tiny, organized chunks? Is in-depth conversation a leisure activity?

    I think the politics have helped the Vern-fan discourse to survive when other less-acknowledging communities have not. Though I agree with Majestyk in that complaining about people talking about politics is still talking about politics, I feel that kindly considering the realities of others lives while admitting the truths of one’s own constitutes a political action too. You’ve done that, petrosmt. Your decency and careful wording are by their very nature politicized.

    It is possible to decompress while acknowledging the realities of our times, because kindness and respect alleviate pressure.

    Escapism isn’t by nature wrong, but sometimes when you try to escape during intense times you go and rent Garfield: The Asshole Cat and it’s weird, you know? And then you gotta tell people about it. The politics have a way of seeping in.

    Anyway, petrosmt, I’ll get the conversation started and we can go from there. What’s your favorite movie, and why?

  65. petrosmt – Thank you for stating that in a respectful way instead of the insulting way people have said it to me over the years. As I have always told those people, I will always be interested in the politics of movies, and the connections between the movies (including old ones) and our lives at the time we watch them. I specifically got obsessed with Seagal because of ON DEADLY GROUND and political themes I noticed in his other movies. I sometimes use movies for escape too, but more often I use them like OMEGA MAN and DAY OF THE DEAD – as ways to process what we’re going through. My recent pieces on those two could only be written during this pandemic, and those are the pieces I’ve been most excited about recently.

    I think The Summer of 1985 series *is* a form of escapism for me, but when these 35 year old movies turn out to be very relevant to today (like DAY OF THE DEAD) I’m going to focus on that, because it’s important to me. I sometimes write reviews that are all just silliness, but I prefer having some thoughtfulness in there. I aspire to both.

    As you noted, we are in a really volatile and transformative period in the U.S., and this stuff is on my mind, so I bring it up when I feel it’s relevant. And I think it’s fair to say that this is a group of people who like to talk to each other, and these sorts of things are on some of their minds also, so it just works out.

    That said, the issue with THE OLD GUARD was kind of an aside that I felt a responsibility to bring up as a lifelong anti-war person who has allowed myself to succumb to some of the glorification of militarism in the movies I like. So I too was more excited about the parts of the discussion focusing on other aspects of the movie. I would be absolutely delighted if you popped in with your strictly-movie-oriented points about the story or the choreography or “the MOVIE DEBATE,” as you put it. Honestly I’m relieved whenever that happens. So please do.

  66. I too would like to give credit to petrosmt for being civil about all this. I hope I responded in kind. I know I write hard and often come off harsher than I intend. I really would appreciate more discussion of this movie, which I seem to have enjoyed more than most, so if petrosmt or anyone else feels like dipping back into it, I’d be amenable.

  67. First of all thank you all who responded for not outright attacking me but in a way “debating” me. Majestic I have read numerous posts from you so I know I can expect a more passionate response!

    Since this is the conversation I started and you guys Vern included chimed in, let me clarify IF I can.

    I am VERY political myself, world politics and off course my country’s included. I read a LOT about US politics, try to see some late night US hosts daily to get some “news” with a little humor in them (I think Hasan Minhaj on Netflix breaks down very well his subjects even for people like me who don’t live there).

    Up until now that side of my reading / viewing did not “blend” with my movie fixation / love and my reading / viewing upon that.

    For a few months now not just here but on ALL the sites I frequent, a sociopolitical “angle” has started to pop up on every article / every review / every column and comment section. It has started in general to rub me the wrong way because I feel that after a certain point, it became a “chicken and the egg” situation where the journalist / blogger etc sees the way people politicize in the comments and starts to try and find the social/political angle on anything and everything because it’s the new “trend”.
    I TOTALLY EXCLUDE our host here from such motives but just wanted to tell you how I experience my everyday reading up on movies changing dramatically and veering off to an endless sociopolitical debate EVERYWHERE.
    Yes, sometimes something inspires or provokes us to go in other discussions of race / police / politics and social issues. I understand that.
    Sometimes it’s also just an action movie. Just saying.

    Seems there is no middle ground for some time now and no matter where a discourse starts, it ultimately becomes a sociopolitical study of some sort apropos of even the movie discused some times.

    And Majestic I understand that by having 2 posts myself talking about this I’m essentially part of it.

    But it’s really how I FEEL and I see you all as my peers and this as our forum. Surely many of you guys will remember that “back in the day” our host here or somewhere else would at one point say “guys I see you really need to talk about these specific things, I’m making a thread to discuss (insert sociopolitical debate here)” to try and make a place for thoughtful discussion on these VERY serious problems of our society.
    Right now what I see happening is almost EVERY article becoming something else in the comments section.

    I won’t talk about this again and I thank you once more for letting me express my frustration even if you don’t sympathize at all.

  68. I don’t think it’s that we don’t sympathize. These times are tough on everyone with a conscience of any kind. I’d imagine all of us would prefer a world where the political scene isn’t so insane that we feel like we can’t take our eyes off of it for a second. But that’s not our world, and I imagine a lot of us survive through some balance of escapism and venting. What’s great about this sight is, you can do both here. You can read all these great filmatistical insights and hilarious jokes from our host and all the commenters, AND you can get into a political discussion with people who aren’t going to haul off and call you a monster (or worse, a Republican) at the first sign of disagreement. So just remember that when what you’re reading is bumming you out, it’s probably also making someone else feel a little less alone. I really do hope getting this off your chest made you feel a little better, and I think I speak for us all when I say that we won’t hold you to your promise not to express yourself on this matter again . I’ve used this community as a sounding board/free therapist more times than I can count and always gotten positive feedback and support. (Well, not always. But mostly always.) I’m sure few begrudge you bring it up if this issue or any other troubles you in the future.

  69. I agree with you petrosmt, turning every discussion about everything, not just here but everywhere, into some big political thing is really getting old. Sometimes, sure. It comes naturally. But usually you get people and all they want to do is talk politics so they have to throw it in no matter what. They’re on Twitter fucking 24/77 and reading the news and just can’t think about anything else.

    Oh shit, I totally missed Joe’s last comment…Joe if you’re still reading this thread, Gangs of London was pretty great. Storywise it could maybe have been a wee bit better, there’s a twist that I HATED and it comes early. But there are fights in there that are some of the best on tv, better than Banshee, which until now was tops. But there’s a fight with the lead character and a guy with an axe that I thought was fantastic, they’re doing some really unique stuff there.

    And there’s one episode in particular, directed by Gareth Evans himself, that I’d put on par with The Raid. It gets THAT crazy and intense. Not so much in terms of hand to hand combat, but the overall meatgrinder nonstop feel of it. The first half is slow but even still, every scene has some cool suspense in it, then it goes apeshit. Totally recommended.

  70. I’m sick and tired of talking about politics but I think this is a good place to read political views because of how civil everybody is.

  71. Muh- That’s a big claim for Gangs of London, since the fights on Banshee were *fucking insane*. I still occasionally just binge as many as I can on youtube, so I’ll have to check it out!

  72. I am so hyped for Gangs of London to air in the US. Not sure when it’ll happen; supposedly it will be on AMC at some point?

  73. Vern is my favorite reviewer and its a pleasure reading you all here debate movies.

    I am from Singapore, so i try to stay out of the political discussions here for the most part.

  74. I saw Gangs on some British site where I got a one month subscription. Totally forget what it is though.

    Kurgan, Banshee DID have some great fights, I think London’s hold up. And to be honest I think the choreography of the axe fight outshines anything on Banshee. They’re not all necessarily that great, in fact don’t expect a fight-a-thon. In the whole series there’s maybe only four real hand to hand combat scenes. I was disappointed in that, I would have liked more, but they do a lot of gun stuff. The fights in Gangs are very “Raid” like, where it’s constantly like “oooooh fuck what he just did to that guy.”

    Banshee had the great fight between the MMA dude and Hood, and a few with Chaton the giant villain which were awesome, the obvious great one with the Native American woman and Burton which was so fun, and the one where Carrie and the goon fought for a full fourth of the episode. The rest were all good, but nothing super memorable to me. I HATED the big finale fight, talk about waiting for this shit for four seasons and THAT’S what we got? The whole last season was pretty daggone weak.

  75. Yeah, unfortunately the lead actor broke his hand the previous season and didn’t want to do any big fights anymore. That’s a pretty tough hurdle to overcome when a big part of the appeal of the show is how crazy and brutal the action is and how much of a DGAF-badass the lead is. Combine that with the total misfire of the devil-worshipper serial-killer storyline and you get a weak final season.

    Banshee’s still the best, though. Gangs of London’s, like, four total fights are more impressive in comparison… but otherwise it’s not a comparison. Banshee’s greatand Gangs of London isn’t very good. Banshee is really fun and awesome for three seasons. Gangs of London has an intriguing pilot and one amazing action episode that’s barely related to the rest of the show, but the rest is pretty bad.

  76. GANGS OF LONDON was a huge disappointment. It looked great but it turned out all the awesome stuff in the trailer was just the first episode. It had some good moments but honestly nothing that came close to BANSHEE. I don’t think I even watched the last episode because I didn’t give a shit what happened. And it did not have hot naked chicks every episode like BANSHEE did.

  77. I should also point out that SPARTACUS is way better than both of those shows combined. I’m not sure if everyone already knows that?

  78. Going to bat for GoL here. Am not sure what’s prompting this comparison with Banshee. An operatic, gangland epic about a power play rife with betrayals, double-crosses and counter-moves needs to be like ….an Action drama about a bank robber impersonating a dead small town sheriff who then turns out to be an even better law enforcer??? Warrior would be a far more apt “apples-to-apples” comparison to Banshee.

    The “created by Gareth Evans” tag likely turned out to be a double-edged sword for GoL, heightening expectations of a “The Raid as a TV Show” when what you got was a pretty cool and stylish Mob Drama sprinkled with a few Raid-style beatdowns. Sure it was formulaic, but the acting and action sold it for me and I binge-watched it across 2 evenings.

    My gripes about GoL would be in it’s frequent and mean-spirited wallow in torture sequences (almost an entire episode is dedicated to the systematic brutalizing of a young woman chained in a basement) and the fact that it could have been wrapped up as a 9 episode self-contained mini-series, instead of leaving threads unresolved for a second season.

    And lest my comment above be misconstrued as a dig on Banshee…Au Contraire, I join the chorus here to say Banshee is all kinds of AWESOME!

  79. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 2:15 am

    I haven’t been commenting much on here lately (it’s been limited to the occasional Scott Adkins fan post, pretty much) but I can’t just NOT reply to HALLSY on his very important question.

    SPARTACUS?

    Hell yes. In fact I was so happy when I discovered BANSHEE because there was finally a show that came somewhat close to delivering the same type of thrills and entertainment value as SPARTACUS.

    (Controversial opinion though: I thought VENGEANCE was the best season)

  80. You know how petrosmt feels about politics taking over every conversation? That’s how I feel about TV shows.

    Fucking TV shows. Let me save you all the time and sum up what you’re going to say about each and every single one of them: “It started out great but then it started meandering around the middle of the season and I kept watching for some reason but then I lost interest even though I hear it picks up again around season four.” You know this is true because, deep in your hearts, you are all movie people. You’re not TV people. TV people just want something to fill the hours, so they will sit there and watch 45 hours of tedious subplots with occasional nudity and only notice that they’ve wasted their time when it’s all over. Movie people demand results. If you’re not consistently entertaining the balls off a movie person, you can get the fuck out of here. I am a movie person and this is why I know that every time a great movie director makes a TV show, an angel gets its wings and knees broken and is left to die alone in the snow. You guys are better than that. Don’t contribute to the maiming of angels. Watch movies.

  81. KayKay, not saying that GOL is necessarily like Banshee in all ways and tone. The comparison is that it’s a tv show with highly involved gritty action, especially hand to hand combat like Banshee had…and you don’t get a lot of those. Plus they’re both modern day crime shows. So its a very simple comparison I think.

    Kind of like after watching Spartacus I wanted something similar like that, or like Game of Thrones, so I stared Vikings. Clearly none of them are at all the SAME, in that one is a fantasy, one is technically historiacal but treats it like fantasy and it was more stylized, and Vikings is a realistic drama show. But I’m getting the same basic thing from them, and they all have scenes of dude storming the casting with swords and shit.

    I didn’t want to mention how GOL ended because of the people who haven’t watched it. But I agree I thought it was a one off and would have preferred it that way, I think. I do agree by the 9th episode I was like what’s going on, why is this becoming such a drama? I’m here for ass kicking. So it’s not one for the books or anything. But when it’s really kicking, it REALLY kicks, I think.

    Hallsy, as a Banshee fan what did you think of that last season? I thought it was damn rough but at least was looking forward to the inevitable Hood/Burton showdown. And then THAT sucked. The previously unstoppable Burton is suddenly stunned by being punched in the face? Jesus Christ he fought the Native American chick for five minutes after getting stabbed eight times, and a punch in the face was his weakness? It’s pretty bad when the big last fight of the entire show was between two bland Nazis.

    But I do agree out of the three shows, Spartacus is clear and away the winner. That show was AMAZING. And I HATED it the first time I tried to watch it. I made it through the first episode and it was so transparently trying to be 300 with no money cheesy, trying soooo hard to be cool, and it was pathetic. Stopped watching. Someone later told me you gotta get through the first few, and it gets really good. And I had been watching GOT and was between seasons and wanted something like that, so tried again. And again that first episode was hammer SHIT. And the second was still good, but kinda lame. Third…hmmm? And THEN it really kicks in. They had to figure it out, but when the more plotting and scheming and stuff starts, it all clicks. I might have also liked the second season best, that one was really good. But then the third was so great too. I’d have to see it again. But it’s a fantastic show.

  82. Another thing that makes GOL similar to the historical shows…the tone. Banshee is basically serious. Sure it’s fun, but it’s not goofy. GOL is less fun, not a lot of humor, but it’s a serious show too. Just like all of those other shows are similar in that no matter the fantasy or whatever context, they are playing it straight and present things relatively realistically (Spartacus takes it furthest but even then, they have rules).

    But you couldn’t compare GOL or Banshee to, say, that Lethal Weapon tv show…hey watch a wiseceracky goofy formulaic show with simple car chases and fun! They gotta FEEL the same.

  83. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I agree to a certain extent. I love a good TV show but they are incredibly rare, certainly ones that remain good all the way through. But it can be nice to just hang for a bit longer with characters you enjoy. You get invested, then get hit that much harder if something happens to them somewhere along the way.

    However, in many, many cases I would greatly prefer a film telling me the same story quicker, with more intensity and a slightly bigger chance of having an actual, well thought out ending. Certainly when it comes to action nothing beats a 90 minute roller coaster that doesn’t force you to wait through 3 x 45 minutes of boring crap before it gets to the point again.

    But it’s also a case of being hungry, and simply having to go where the food is. R-rated action films are in short supply, certainly ones that are filled with the excellent gleeful carnage that we crave. I can only name a handful of movie titles that came out during the last decade that really scratch that particular itch, so who am I to turn down a TV show that provides exactly that – albeit on a lesser scale than a movie would be able to. I’d have rather had a great BANSHEE movie and a couple sequels instead of the tv version, but I’ll take what I can get.

    BTW, certainly there’s plenty of films that are also not consistently entertaining the balls off us. Plenty of action films too that only have one big scene and the rest is wasting your time. You gotta find the good stuff wherever you can find it, even if it’s small nuggets buried in the shit.

  84. Oh, Mr. Majestyk’s comment just popped up here. And to that I say NAY. Majestyk, you are incorrect. And actually your complaint about tv show kind of matches most movies “It started out great but like most movies couldn’t figure out how to do a second act so they thought a lot of uninteresting backstory fill in scenes would get the job done, and then we got to the uninspiring ending.”

    For me, tv is where it’s at now, it’s where the adults go. I mentioned this to a friend and he was shocked because before, I was always the movie guy. “I thought you loved movies?” Yeah, back when fucking DePalma could get financing, or Scorsese could make his epic, or any of these other grand gestures could be made. Now it’s mostly cartoony horseshit. What movies has anyone seen recently that were great, or at least super interesting? There are some for sure.

    But I feel like few movies at the end get to be as satisfying as the ending of Spartacus. Or Sopranos. Or my favorite show, Justified. I just saw maybe one of the best things I’ve ever seen, the writing was always off the charts excellent…Inside Number fucking Nine. You don’t get writing in movies that good that often. And they’ve done it for five seasons now.

    One of the things I always liked best about movies are the few scenes you might get before the story really kicked off…where characters are able to talk about whatever bullshit was going on that didn’t have to do with the plot, or are just doing something interesting with their day. Tarantino has figured out a way to make entire movies out of those scenes. And I feel like tv allows more time to stretch and get into the stuff I enjoy, that’s not just trying to connect the plot.

    Plus movies might do some cool stuff, but I don’t think I have seen a fight scene as fun and crazy as the one in Banshee where Burton fights the woman with a hatchet in and out of a car…not since then. There have been some great fight scenes, but not as inventive. There were actually some very cool ones in the Preacher tv show.

  85. I just watched one of the lamest most fucking boring movies in a long time last night…Disappearance at Clifton Hill. Looked like it had all the shit I might enjoy…a solitary person in a weird location in a thriller, I love that kind of shit. Instead I got boilerplate mystery nonsense that was so concerned about getting from point to point they forgot any mood or even a thrill or suspense.

  86. I agree, but if a movie isn’t consistently entertaining, I then don’t watch the next seven sequels in the hope that eventually it’ll pick up again. When a movie drops the ball, it’s over soon. A TV show dropping the ball has the potential to leave you hanging indefinitely. I just don’t have time for that. And I literally have nothing but time.

    I think the only TV action scene I was ever even moderately impressed by was that one hallway scene in DAREDEVIL, and that show shit itself down its own leg pretty soon after that so in retrospect a single scene in one episode was not worth the time investment. I think those Netflix Marvel shows were what fully killed my interest in TV. If they can’t consistently make R-rated superheroes on the streets of New York entertaining then there’s really not much hope for the medium in its current form. It was probably when a good chunk of the PUNISHER pilot was given over to two sophisticated lady lawyers having cocktails and discussing their careers when I decided life is too goddamn short to sit through shit like that when all you want to see is an angry dude shoot some people. Granted, I haven’t seen the shows you guys have mentioned but it sure seems like they fit the pattern I’m describing. I just don’t have the patience to sift the gold from the shit over that many viewing hours.

  87. Just to be clear, I was agreeing with Gaul, not Muh.

  88. If we’re talking about great fight scenes in TV shows, I think the Daredevil Netflix show deserves a mention. Excellent acting from all the lead actors and amazing fight choreography combined with excellent stories and the introduction of comic book characters from the larger Marvel world that were done very, very well (Jon Bernthal as the Punisher was incredible).

    As far as TV shows vs. movies, I like how The Undefeated Gaul put it – we spend time with a show because there’s something we like about it (sorry Gaul, I’m paraphrasing and probably badly) and we enjoy it, warts and all. Movies and TV shows are equally entertaining to me for many reasons, and I believe that there’s something for everyone. To each their own, I’m not going to try and convert anyone to change their views beyond recommending the stuff I really like.

  89. Your problem M is you watched a tv superhero show and expected it to be worth a shit. You chose wrong.

    I didn’t even think the fights in Daredevil was all that. That one hallway fight was oookay, but not really that interesting.

    I mean saying sometimes there’s stuff not that interesting in tv shows is right, but it’s not like I watch John Wick 3 and think man this story is so interesting and good, I’m just waiting for them to start fighting again.

    TV now is the sort of adult, middle ground movies you used to get and those were my favroties. No one’s going to finance a movie like U-Turn today. But you can get stuff similar on tv. So, I go to tv. I mean what action movies out there are there, mostly more superhero crap or whatever Netflix is making.

  90. Are we not allowed to enjoy movies and TV equally? I don’t have a preference…I get just as excited for the new season of LAST CHANCE U as I do for the next JOHN WICK.

    The shows we’re talking about here are the best of the best, IMO (except GANGS OF LONDON) and do not really have any issues with pacing or filler. On paper, SPARTACUS should not have been able to maintain its greatness for more than one season but it just got better and better. I never wanted that show to end. And even though the ending was pre-determined part of me really wanted them to do a Tarantino and rewrite history. It’s definitely one of my favourite shows ever.

    There are definitely some shows that drag, and unfortunately, once I start watching I usually feel the need to stick it out at least until the end of that season. So I do end up wasting a lot of time. I mean, I spent nearly 8 hours over the last week finally finishing season 1 of TWIN PEAKS even though I found it excruciating….and I haven’t fully written off season 2 yet.

    Muh – it’s been a while so I don’t really remember season 4 of BANSHEE but I don’t remember having any issue with it. Was that the season where they barricade themselves in the police station and are under siege from the Natives? I liked that show all the way through.

    Also Muh – I think we think alike but I strongly disagree with this:

    “Plus movies might do some cool stuff, but I don’t think I have seen a fight scene as fun and crazy as the one in Banshee where Burton fights the woman with a hatchet in and out of a car…not since then”

    See: RAID 2 Kitchen fight, all of THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, RAID 2 car fight, etc. Don’t get me wrong – that Banshee fight is fucking amazing!

  91. MUH, I get your point, but for me Banshee and GoL was tonally different. Banshee seems to exist in this Twillight Zone Alternate Reality Plane, this mythical town that has BOTH a thriving Amish AND Native American community and which exudes such a malevolent aura it attracts Violent Bikers, Deadly Cults, Meth Dealing Crackers, Satan Worshippers, Neo-Nazis, Serial Killers AND Colombian Drug Lords?

    GoL on the other hand seems more rooted in the real albeit exaggerated London-set Gangland Arena which showcases Mob Bosses of seemingly every stripe ( English, Irish, Turkish, Albanian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Pikeys) and tonally far grimmer.

    The amazing fights are probably the only connective tissue I can see between the 2 shows.

    But yeah, I’d binge watch all of Banshee in a heartbeat, but only selected episodes of GoL

  92. Haha jeeze Mr. M really swinging hard for something other people enjoy that he doesn’t.

  93. BANSHEE always sounded interesting to me but I never had any way of seeing it, but SPARTACUS did not look up my alley. It looked like 10% action, 5% tits, 85% palace intrigue. And I fucking hate palace intrigue. You know what I’m talking about. White people in robes with fake Shakespeare accents backstabbing each other and making alliances and seducing each other and holy fuck just fucking stab someone for Christ’s sake. That shit feels like reading the minutes of a board meeting concerning the corporate takeover of a company that doesn’t exist. Movies tend to know those scenes are dull (and so does TV, which is why GAME OF THRONES invented the term “sexposition” in order to alleviate the boredom with gratuitous nudity) so they gloss over it. TV makes you sit through every goddamn PowerPoint presentation.

  94. SPARTACUS is definitely the show I’ve been most surprised by how much I initially disliked it vs how highly it rose in my estimation. It’s just so fucking good. I started rewatching BANSHEE last night after this conversation but now maybe I’ll need to restart SPARTACUS too (and finally drag my wife along for the ride maybe).

  95. Kurgan: I never said anybody was wrong. I never do that. I state my own tastes. I am interested in hearing about yours whether I share them or not. I’m having a great time right now because I do not require anyone to agree with me. My disagreeing with your opinions does not mean you are attacking you personally or devaluing those opinions. It just means we get to have an actual conversation with some meat on it. If we only spoke up when we agreed with each other, this place would get pretty fucking boring real quick. So what you call me shitting on what others enjoy, I call me saving the discussion from turning into a circle jerk.

  96. Haha my man I didn’t say you were wrong. I just noted that you were swinging hard at something other people were talking about because they enjoyed it. In fact, you actually admonished everyone for watching tv instead of movies, saying we should be “better than that”.

    Even so, I don’t feel attacked! I thought it was genuinely funny how venomous that first post was, and of course you’re welcome to your opinions, but please don’t assume I’m mad just because *you* put the pedal to the metal about tv.

    BANSHEE is pretty fun, I think you’d like it!

  97. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Gotta admit, Mr M – SPARTACUS does have plenty of what could be considered ” palace intrigue,” and while I could try to convince you it’s done in a really fun way, if you really don’t like that sort of stuff it may be too big an obstacle for you to enjoy it.

    That said, there’s so much else to appreciate. I could write a fucking essay about it (I actually tried twice to do just that in this post, but I keep deleting it because I feel my words aren’t doing it proper justice). Anyways, it’s my favorite show of all time, a fact supported by my username on here and a treasured photo of me and Manu Bennett in the top drawer of my desk.

  98. BANSHEE is definitely not what you would expect from Academy Award(tm) winning writer of AMERICAN BEAUTY. People being blown up with rocket launchers like it is a normal thing to do. Good show and it surprised the hell out of me how pulpy it was.

    I have been guilty of spending time with the recent HBO prestige series PERRY MOPEY, and it is quite the opposite to previously mentionedshow. Beautifully show, but when you look closer , storytelling seem secondary to moping and stuff justnot happening.

  99. Sorry, man. I’d hoped that including the line “Don’t contribute to the maiming of angels” might indicate that I was being somewhat facetious. Watch whatever you want. It’s your eyeballs. But don’t come crying to me when Scott Adkins’ next project is a 13-episode limited series where he gets into two fights and most of the episodes are about his costars getting over a divorce.

  100. Hallsy, I do enjoy movies and tv equally, BUT not necessarily modern movies as equally. I’ve just seen way more shows I like and get more excited for some of these shows than I do for movies coming up. Also usually with an action movie, they all follow the same basic template because in two hours no one’s trying to do anything that interesting storywise. So you can sit there and they essentially coddle you. A tv show though…maybe it works or not, but because it’s longer, by nature that makes it more unpredictible. Who knows where it’s going (unless you’re watching some Marvel crap, then you know for sure). But yeah I was kind of hoping they’re pull a Tarantino with Spartacus too, they easily could have done it…made the Romans THINK he died but he really doesn’t. But no, they stuck to their guns and fucking killed everyone, and some of them hurt (like having several of the characters be crucified). BUT, at the same time they let a bunch of the good characters survive and it still felt overall like kind of a win. What a damn great show.

    But, I must be pedantic and mention that The Raid 2 came AFTER Banshee season 3 so that does not count. Night that Comes for Us was good, but for me that was just really cool fighting, but not doing anything really neat filmmaking-wise which puts it more in the category I’m talking about. The Raid 2 DOES have super cool filmmaking. Night is just mostly meat and potatos…awesome stuff but filmed pretty normal. Plus the one thing that group absolutely SUCKS at is group fights. They’ve never figured out a way to do a real group fight or even a two on one. Even in the end of The Raid for the big 2 on 1, it’s mostly one guy gets knocked down so it can be a 1 on 1, and the second HE gets knocked down the other pops back up. Repeat for five minutes. In Night, you have a group fight where the hero is taking thirty seconds with his back turned to an armed group and no one hits him in the back with a pipe? Bad, bad. Jackie Chan was a master at this kind of thing.

    KayKay I do agree that Banshee and London aren’t really THAT similar, but they are enough that if you’re saying “you liked this action show, then you might like this one” is true.

    Mr Majestyk you have clearly not watched GOT because sexpositon maybe was used for 5% of the intrigue, but all of the glorious rest you got to see. But I love intrigue, it’s kind of why I like film noir and that kind of thing. Backstabbing and all of that is fun.

  101. You’re right. I think I got six episodes in before running screaming into the night. That’s three and a half more than MAD MEN though so not bad, all things considering.

  102. If Scott Adkins made a tv show as good as Avengement I’d watch the shit out of that. Frankly in his movies a lot of times the fights are the most boring part to me. It’s not even that they’re bad, but it’s not like they’re particuarily good either. They’re basically “dad” movies, where you lazy father who wants to watch fighting but not be challenged might check them out and watch them and never have to think a single thought. My dad own all of Statham’s movies, and he still gets confused by the plots sometimes…I’m like how the fuck are you confused by these stories dude?

    Avengement was straight up GOOD. Not even has a low budget movie, or a b-movie, or any of that. Just a really good movie and Adkins is quite a performer, I don’t know why they were so nervous about having him act more, he’s always clearly been talented.

  103. I agree that the Adkinsography has only improved since they started letting him use his conversational skills more. But I still wouldn’t want to watch him talk for hours in between fights. I want all the stuff you say you find in TV, but I want it done at a movie pace. The relative lack of time constraints on TV (particularly in the binge-watch era) leads to some very bad writing habits, in my opinion. It’s the limitations of standard film running time that both leads to formula AND forces interesting storytelling techniques. I’m not interested in stories that feel like they have all the time in the world to get to the point. I got a friend who thinks she needs to stick in every last detail of evert anecdote she tells, and by the time she gets to the moral of the story, I find I just don’t give a shit anymore. The destination was not worth the journey. That’s how I feel about TV. You can do all the drama you want, but do it like there’s a giant boulder rolling right behind you.

  104. I love anecdotes though as long as the details are interesting. Scorsese doesn’t make a movie like the plot matters, also Tarantino. Mel Gibson as a director does that too. And that’s the kind of stuff I revisit. Tarantino’s been talking about doing a miniseries and I would LOVE that.

    I do think some of these shows could be shorter. I was surprised at the brisk pace of Chernobyl, but maybe shouldn’t have because it was the first show done by a movie guy. And origianlly it was supposed to be six episodes, and when doing it the guy said no, it should only be five. And that is correct. Do the right length. Some of these shows they mandate 13 episodes or whatever and on the more generic ones like Daredevil which is doing long form stories, that’s a real issue. Justified was always great because they’d put in more one-off stories that get resolved by the end of the episode. Sopranos too. That;s becoming a lost art with tv and I think it’s important. Sopranos was actually excellent at telling three types of stories…they had their long form story that was the entire show, then they’d have the season arcs that always had some sort of resolution, then they were great at telling a particular story every single episode that had it’s own theme and resolution. And THAT’S how you make a master show.

  105. I’m definitely not gonna watch Madmen that’s for sure. I don’t care what anyone says about it.

  106. On an unrelated note, I finished the De Palma novel ARE SNAKES NECESSARY and unfortunatly it was a pretty bad book. The best parts of it, which I can’t talk about, but has to do with Hitchcock and VERTIGO had worked much better in film on a metalevel.And the writing felt like just a reworking of a screenplay. The rhytm to it took me out of the story, which took 130 pages before the plot started. And in a slim 230 pages book that isway too long.

  107. DePalma’s a sad case. After Snake Eyes, it’s been downhill. He just lost it. A shame, that guy, even when making a movie one might call bad, like Raising Cain, was still fucking great.

  108. Honestly I feel like most of the still-living New Hollywood directors haven’t been able to sustain an interesting career into the 2000s. Spielberg and Scorcese are probably about it. Hell, even my main man John Carpenter tossed out a couple stinkers before calling it a day.

  109. Yeah…honestly with a guy like DePalma it’s not a surprise. When you build a career out of more or less imitating another director and being a stylist, eventually your style gets old. And Carpenter, as being a horror guy, didn’t really have room to stretch…and he wasn’t adept enough to transition and make regular action stuff cause he tried to get too clever with it. Spielberg is just a good old fashioned director who seems interested in a a number of subjects so he can keep going, and Scorsese also changes things up a lot. He may be knows as a mobster director in a lot of ways but hell, he’s also a religious epic filmmaker. I mean who makes three of them?

    And unlike DePalma and Carpenter, they don’t write their own material, at least not outright. If anything it’s an adaptation. But if you’re a writer/director and REALLY like one kind of thing, it gets old.

    I love Tarantino but unless he changed his style, he may very well have gotten old had he plans to go past 10 movies. But maybe not, I thought Hollywood was pretty great. But I didn’t love the ending, that felt like Tarantino leaning too much on his old bullshit.

  110. Muh: “I love anecdotes though as long as the details are interesting.” Bam. Exactly. Distinguishing between interesting details and dead weight is the very essence of storytelling. Knowing what to leave out is as important, if not more so, than knowing what to put in. I used to rewrite and edit Letters To Penthouse style porn for a living, and my main job was to cut out all the incidental crap the original writers threw in because they were getting paid by the word. But even in a stroke story, a certain amount of setup is necessary. You couldn’t just jump right to the fucking. Readers want to know who’s fucking, why they’re fucking, where they’re fucking, etc. You had to show discretion in what you chopped out or the reader wouldn’t be able to get invested enough in the reality of story to jerk off to it. I had a colleague who had no idea what was a crucial detail and what was filler, so his stuff would have pages of blow-by-blow descriptions of parking and meal prep before the fucking even started, while mine would take it as a given that the reader would get the gist of the situation with just a few telling lines. The difference was confidence. He lacked it, so he treated the reader like an idiot and second-guessed every step. I do not lack for confidence and I respected the reader’s intelligence enough to know he’d keep up if I elided over the banalities. That job basically sapped my will to live but it taught me a lot about how to just get the fuck on to the part of the story you can jerk off to (metaphorically).

    Good conversation, guys. I hope I wasn’t too much of an asshole about it.

  111. I always remember the Elmore Leonard line (which I’m paraphrasing), where he said his goal was to cut out all the stuff readers skip.

  112. This is something Lawrence Block excels at in his Scudder novels. Anecdotes. They fully realize the world for the reader without taking too much time. One of my favourites is the one about a guy whose job was to start a mob boss car. He went to the car, started it, went home. That is it. He later complained that nothing much happened on his job. Man, it took lessthan a paragraph to convey that anecdote and yet it is funny as hell.

  113. Obviously DePalma is not at the height of his game, I can’t agree that it was downhill after SNAKE EYES, since FEMME FATALE is one of my favorite movies by him. I also liked PASSION, so it’s not like he’s out to pasture. Still need to see DOMINO, though.

  114. I would think the dude whose job is to start a mob bosses car would be pretty grateful for every uneventful day at work!

  115. That is the pun of the whole anecdote,you jerk!

  116. Sorry,goofball would be more accurate.

  117. I watch a lot of TV and enjoy most of it. I do admit to putting on stuff sometimes with the idea of only half paying attention or something I don’t need to concentrate on too hard. But I think the Netflix Marvel model set the tone for a lot of the streaming TV and has done it a disservice. They spend way too much time on characters and side stories that are stupid and no one in their right mind should care about. I was really excited for Carnival Row. I wanted a steampunk mystery romance with a hint of world building and politics. Instead I got a steampunk political world building with a hint of mystery romance. They seriously sidelined the main character for multiple episodes while dealing with a side character’s crisis in socio/political faith. Doing a long, contained story has good points and bad points, but I really miss the monster of the week and bottle episodes. Those are usually the ones that people loved and wanted to revisit back in the old days. They let the characters shine. They let the writers step out of the comfort zone and maybe try something different. I get that now they have the story that keeps growing and keeps putting up cliffhangers to keep an audience interested, but that’s kind of insulting to viewers, too. You don’t need to keep dangling the hook to keep us coming back if you have interesting characters and good writing. But then again, people can be morons, so what do I know?

  118. DOMINO does not hang together well, and the middle is full of middling crap not worth DePalma’s talents, but it’s got two bang-up suspense set-pieces, one of which culminates in a precisely timed kick to the nuts, so I’d say he’s still got it where it counts.

  119. The finale of ARE SNAKES NECESSARY is somewhat of a literary fizzle of a De Palma climax.It would have worked better in cinematic terms..

  120. “Distinguishing between interesting details and dead weight is the very essence of storytelling.” I am a natural born story teller. When I was little I thought show and tell was show OR tell and if I didn’t bring something that day, I’d just get up and tell a story. My parents were less than thrilled with some of the family stories I shared. One of my best friends used to be the worst at listening to stories. She’d interrupt to finish your sentence or thought if you even paused for a second. It was because her father is one of the worst story tellers. He digresses, he takes long ass pauses, he gets distracted. She’s actually improved at not jumping on your story, but it’s a real boner-killer when trying to tell a story.

  121. Vern I’ll have to check out Femme Fatale again. I remember being pretty so-so on it. I never watched Passion, but I see it’s on Tubi so maybe I’ll check that out tonight if I don’t have to take a bunch of phone calls.

    Kurgan I always liked that Leonard line, but it’s interesting because in Tarantino’s version of a Leonard, he DOES put in a bunch of stuff that would probably be cut out of a regular movie. And that’s the best stuff, when the plot kicks in hard you can tell, and to me it gets less interesting. Still good, just less interesting.

    You know what though, Game of Thrones actually is a very interesting experiment in what Mr M is talking about. Because I pretty much guarantee if it didn’t have that intrigue and details, it wouldn’t not have been a success, at least not like it was. When I first heard about it I figured it was going to be some dull Lord of the Rings shit, which is okay sometimes to watch once but I don’t much care for fantasy stuff, especailly not the “ever so perfect hero vs heartless villains.” I was like who wants to watch that crap. Then I got sucked right the hell in with all of that stuff.

    And THEN, to use Mr. M’s “I just want to jerk off” example, well you got it in that least season, where they packed a season and a half’s events into six episodes. And THAT’S the season people turned on. And it’s true, everything was undercooked. It just wanted to go from setpiece to setpiece, we don’t need character reasons for it, we just want to see the things blow up! My dick is in my hand! And it just seemed half-assed and rushed. The creators of the show were Hollywood guys who were only really doing the detail work because they had the books to guide them, but once they got off they went right to their roots and fucked their show up. They stopped putting in the work.

  122. I’m probably setting myself up for redicule but I really liked Into the Badlands. Pretty fun story with a lot of old school wire Fu fights. Nick Frost also does martial arts and he is awesome in it.

  123. I’d say you’re setting yourself up for redicule by misspelling redicule, but then I commit so many typos I woodn’t have a leg two stand one.

    Sometimes luxuriating in something and giving it time to world-build itself and pay-off can be very satisfying to me. STRANGER THINGS, BARRY, and the Netflix MANIAC series are few examples. I like something lean and aerodynamic that just gets in there and gets er done (a la CRAWL), but I think longer-form storytelling can work well, it’s just a different beast.

  124. Look, I’m not trying to bag on De Palma (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE is an all-timer!), but FEMME FATALE is 20 years old at this point- not a great argument for his continued high quality output.

    Anyway, I think the most important thing you can do as a creator is understand the strengths and limitations of whatever medium you’re working in. To keep on the example of Game of Thrones, the earlier seasons of the show were able to avoid a lot of the criticisms of the books -primarily that ol’ George spends too much time talking about what people are wearing or eating- because it’s so easy to get across that kind of visual information quickly onscreen. By contrast, as Muh points out, the later seasons falter because they aren’t able to depend on or really portray the well-expressed thought processes and characterizations that are a lot easier to do in a novel. That’s a real danger when adapting something- you have to understand the bones of the story, how that story works and what’s *essential* to its telling, as well as how to translate those things effectively to another medium. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is one of the greatest film adaptations of all time, but the movie consists of maybe 25% of the book’s content because both Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson had a rock-solid grasp of what works onscreen vs what works on the page.

  125. I watched the first episode of Into the Badlands. I thought it was pretty good. Didn’t really want to commit to the series though, but I figure one of these days I may. Bat apparently I think they get more into fantasy/spiritual stuff later on? I’d be less interested in that, but seeing a workable world set in that milieu is interesting.

    Yeah Kurgan, and the thing is, in the earlier versions of the show they DID do that. You’d think they would have cracked the code. Where they REALLY fucked up was, the last season they fell so hard on the Hollywood horseshit idea of “personal choice.” Oh she got mad so she killed everyone. But no, in the previous seasons you would see the societal pressures put on people that forced them to behave that way. Not that there weren’t plenty of breaks. And the problem is in that last season, which I still did like okay…was they wanted to ditch all the character and storybeats to get to the “good stuff.” But that was never the good stuff with GOT. Okay it WAS, I loved the battle stuff and the fights and killing, but it had to feel like it meant something. And the big Dany break, they had the code, they just rushed it. I think they could have actually solved some of their problems by just adding one single episode, they went right from the giant battle with the zombies to the other castle. They needed one in between. One for cleanup, then I would have ended one where one began…spend a whole epsiode heaping stuff on her and END that episode with the dragon burning up Varys. Then you get a full episode dedicated solely to what she’s going through.

    I do disagree with people who say oh the battle of the dead should have been a full season. Ugh, and done what with it? They’re not even characters, and they never stop. All you could do is have characters lose to them and fall back, but horses get tired where the dead don’t so what exactly would they have done? I was perfectly fine with wrapping that shit up in one big fat battle, which I think is one of the best battles I’ve seen in anything. That was SO fucking good.

  126. I’ve seen exactly one (1) episode of GoT. It was over at a friend’s (oh my God, you guys, do you remember hanging out at friend’s houses?!) and I think it was the season finale of the 2nd to last season and it was so boring. It was exactly like Majestyk says, palace intrigue. At one point I said, I thought this was all sex and violence, but it’s just talking.

  127. I remember…friends.

    Season finales are no good, and only watching a single episode of a show with no context like that is just about pointless. They’re usually about cleaning up the ACTUAL finale (which on GOT was always the second to last episode of the season). And then they’re setting up where things are going. But too bad you didn’t see the previous episode, which at the time had me screaming at the screen because it was so cool. The first half was the setup to a battle, where for once you really kind of felt like what waiting around for a castle sacking must be like, on both sides. And then you get a FUCK YEAH moment where I started yelling, and then you pretty much get a half hour of nonstop carnage and slaughtering with all the gory detail you could want. I didn’t think we’d get awesome battles in the show (in the previous season there were a few but you didn’t get to see them). And then out of all the other battles, it ended up being the LEAST awesome. They just ramped up every time.

    Man, the last time I was with friends, the very last thing we did together, was watching fucking VEROTIKA. How much of a horrible, horrible waste is that? All the other things we could be doing! At least then I said to get that stink out of our eyeballs, let’s watch Eaten Alive since they were all debating for half an hour about what to watch and I was like this is what Danzig wished he made.

  128. My main problem with GOT was how unfocused and overstuffed it got after season 1. At first it basically boiled down to “Sean Bean tries to solve a mystery, while somewhere else Khaleesi goes from timid sex slave to proud leader”, with a bunch of “Here is a quick look at what other characters are doing. It might be important soon!”. Then it turned into episodes, that were basically just short scenes with all the characters. “Here is a scene with Arya, here are 10 minutes with Tyrion, 25 minutes with Khaleesi, a few minutes of Littlefinger, and hey, here is a brand new character, but he won’t appear again for a few more weeks and then he dies, etc” and by season 4 I was out.

    Which admittedly is a pretty unique problem in today’s TV landscape. Usually it’s just “Nothing happens until the shocking cliffhanger at the end of the episode, which will be quickly solved in the next episode, where also nothing happens until the cliffhanger.”

    During the height of the “golden age of television”, I had way too many discussions about why I happily watch “stupid” procedurals like NCIS, PSYCH or CASTLE, while others would geek out over the “cool” and “intelligent” shows like MAD MEN or GOT. The answer was simple: It’s less frustrating. They only have to tell a story for 40 minutes instead of a whole season. And it’s incredible how few of these story arc shows manage to not just not drop in quality, but even stick the landing. SPARTACUS is something that I totally agree on. And of course BREAKING BAD. I wouldn’t put BANSHEE on the same level, but its self aware pulpiness made it watchable, even in its lower points.

    The only story arc shows that I bother to watch these days are THE BLACKLIST, which has the advantage that even the most arc heavy episodes work by the “villain of the week” concept, BETTER CALL SAUL, which so far comes really close to BREAKING BAD’s quality and I recently started MAYANS M.C., because I remembered how much fun I had in the Shakespearean pulp world of SONS OF ANARCHY.

  129. Loved!!! FEMME FATALE!!! Deliciously underrated DePalma. It’s kind of like THE GAME meets De Palma meets BOURNE meets, I don’t know, US WEEKLY. But De Palma and THE GAME are the main ingredients. The other stuff is more subjective, just vibe and feel. I’m not 100% sure what the term Euro-trash is supposed to me, but if there is such a thing, this is it. And that’s a compliment.

  130. “supposed to mean” !! damnit. Don’t ridikule me. Mean?

  131. The sidelining of Jon Snow, the dumbing down of Tyrion, the swift dispatch of Varys, a 1 episode conclusion to an arc that’s been built up for 7 seasons, LAMEST DEATH EVER for the show’s ONE remaining effective villain and culminating in the series’ single most useless character ever winning the Grand Prize.

    Season 8 dropped the ball so hard, it crashed through 10 floors, created a meteor-sized crater in the streets and kept going till it reached the Earth’s Core.

    The cracks started showing in Season 6 once they ran out of books to adapt, and contrary to what fans of the novels like to claim, I believe if George RR Martin ever finished the bloody Saga of Fire and Ice, they wouldn’t end in any significantly different way to the show. Just that D&D gave you the Cliff’s Notes version of it, rushing the ending like a Virgin on his wedding night, which anyone who’s ever done that Horizontal Tango would tell you, yields satisfaction neither to the Rider nor the Ridden.

  132. As for the Majestyk Lament on TV, can’t add anything more significant by way of a response than what the Gaul & MUH have articulated.

    As a die-hard junkie for Hard-R Action & Hand-2-Hand combat, and seeing Cinematic Franchises like the F&F series increasingly substitute lame CGI for genuine stunts and apart from the odd gems like John Wick and Fury Road, pickings are super slim. Yeah I can enjoy selected MCU or X-Men flicks but a CGI Hulk flinging a CGI Abomination across 3 streets and 4 buildings isn’t exactly my idea of Action (Diverting Spectacle is a more apt term I’d use).

    DTV has been a great alternative, but let’s be honest, there’s a ton of crap here as well unless you’re talking about top-tier Isaac Florentine or Jesse V Johnson and certain selected efforts by James Nunn, William Kaufman and further down the totem pole, Ernie Barbarash, Roel Reine and the rare Keoni Waxman flick when he’s not busy churning out Seagal crap.

    Then you look East…and outside of the Ip Man flicks, Donnie is pretty hit and miss, and the infusion of Mainland China money also means I need to swallow a disgusting amount of Chinese Propaganda along with my kung fu. Even Dante Lam’s (who’s awesome at staging action) recent Operation Red Sea needed to come packaged in some gag-inducing Mainland China jingoism.

    Korean Cinema? Sure there’s some great stuff, but a lot of the action comes packaged with elements of Melancholy, Sorrow, Regret, Tragedy and outright Horror which I need to be in a certain frame of mind to watch.

    Thai/Indonesian/Vietnamese?Sure…still waiting on the next Raid, Ong-Bak,Jailbreak,Rebel & Clash though.

    Bollywood? Bitch please, am being serious.

    And then…TV just kinda exploded with the type of awesome action you craved in your cinematic diet!

    So, what I’m saying is, when I crave an action fix and don’t get enough of the Good Shit from my preferred source, I’m open to alternatives, especially when I get a bad case of the shakes.

    So, after watching Raids 1-2, Ong Baks 1-3, John Wicks 1-3, Ip Mans 1-4, the Adkins/Florentine, Adkins/Jess Johnson collabs, Blood&Bone, early Cynthia, Jackie and Jet for the 575th time and even having exhausted the back-catalogue of Jeff Wincott, if someone comes and tells me:

    – Hey check out this show about a robber masquerading as a Sheriff which features some pretty jaw-droppingly good fights, I’m like why the hell not?

    – Hey check out a couple of Netflix’s Marvel shows, each season is a tad long, but it’s low on CGI and high on amazing fights and action, I’m like, bring it on.

    – Hey, I know you’re an Iko fan and his Stateside efforts like Mile 22 and Stuber left your soul crushed and weakened, but there’s this show called Wu Assassins, not really that good, but features some great fights not Peter Berg-edited into incoherence, I’m like, ok will give it a chance.

    Am first and foremost a MOVIE fan, but Jesus is there a fuckton of flotsam on the Cinematic Sea currently.

  133. “But I still wouldn’t want to watch him talk for hours in between fights”

    EXACTLY!

    Adkins has a pleasant baritone and he’s English, and so can spew reams of dialogue with effortless ease. But I’m not about to trade an Adkins roundhouse kick to the head for an Adkins Monologue.

    Avengement was awesome not because it was Adkins in a pub spinning a yarn, but because said yarn was frequently punctuated by a jagged bottle edge to the throat and a shotgun blast to the head.

  134. Skani, I thought I spelled it wrong. Lol

  135. Stern — haha. I keep telling myself that I’ll get better / more disciplined at proofing, but I’m slowly moving into the acceptance phase. SAD!

  136. The Elmore Leonard line was about prose, not about plot. It’s about skipping long paragraphs that describe the weather or that get too into the character’s head. His stories have lots of digressions and characters spend a lot of time talking (entertainingly) about nonsense, but dialogue isn’t something readers skip.

  137. That’s what I love about hard-boiled prose. By being efficient about descriptions and setup, it leaves room for entertaining digressions and lengthy conversations. Tarantino’s style wouldn’t work if he spent as much time on the plot shoe leather as he did on his dialogue. He cuts all the fat out of his plotting so he can focus his story real estate on the stuff that matters to him.

  138. How To Structure A Fight Scene

    How to Structure a Fight Scene | Video Essay

    Accented Cinema - Episode 39 We loosely talked about how to film a sword fight before, but how to WRITE a fight scene is an entirely different story. Today, ...

  139. I can’t really get into those procedural shows, they’re just so boring and generic. I mean a little bit of them can be all right but after that, eh. At first I was slightly turned off by Justified because it was doing case of the week for awhile. Now the plus side is it’s written by top writers doing great character work, not coming up with the usual stinger zinger for the cop to say before the title credits of Law and Order. “This is going to be a long hard one.”

    Okay that’s NOT from Law and Order, name that movie!

    But Justified kind of splits the difference. And later managed to integrate their cases of the week better into the overall storyline so they didn’t feel so completely out of place. And that show can be dangerous, a few times I wanted to watch some of it but didn’t want to just watch a random episode in the middle somewhere, so I was like well I can watch the first ones since they’re so self contained. The danger is it’s SO good I want to keep watching and THEN I hit the arc and it’s like goddammit now I want to finish this damn season.

    KayKay I totally agree that in GOT they did the ending the way Martin’s going to. But they botched it in their rush to just do the cliff’s notes and have shit blow up. Martin will do the same thing but put in the work to make it all feel like it fits. At first I thought those guys were geniuses because they made a lot of the correct changes to the story, switching characters around, changing some of the fates, etc. Then I hit the end and I was like “fucking hacks.” I actually did like the death of the big villain though. I know a lot of people didn’t, and even she didn’t and Arya didn’t and it seemed like they wanted to have some kind of big cliche tower fight, but I thought she got what she deserved…everything crumbling down around her and it’s basically her fault, and she knows it. That’s poetic justice, not just Arya slitting the throat of yet another main villain, whcih we had already seen several times over.

    I do disagree about Avengement to an extent. Yes it’s good because it has some action to break it up, but at the same time none of the action is particuarily interesting or memorable. It’s just basic punching. Which is fiiine. But not even basic punching done in a cool or exciting way, it was like “well this is a DTV movie so we’d better have some punching in it.” But in that movie I thought the fights were basically something to just kind of get through because I was enjoying the rest a lot. I WOULD watch a show where he talks for an hour before fighting. Put him in some kind of Banshee style show? Hell yeah I’d watch that.

  140. JTS you are correct about Leonard, but he got brought up more or less when we were talking specifically about digressions and stuff like the scheming in GOT, which I’m certain is what people liked about the show. Once they cut down on the schemes and the details is when everyone said the show took a big shit. That is what MADE the show.

    Oh and ps, I just watched Passion by DePalma. It was…fine I guess. But definitely felt like Old Man DePalma going through the motions. It took FOREVER to get anywhere sort of interesting, then it got pretty good, then it was like…I feel like this could have been done better. It was like it was trying to be as batshit insane as Raising Cain and it wasn’t, but should have been.

  141. Well, back on the topic at hand, I finally sat down and watched this whole thing and wound up really enjoying it. A little bit clunky in some places maybe, but overall pretty satisfactory. My favorite part was the chemistry between the various immortals and particularly the way the fights were choreographed when they were all together. I enjoyed how they would just fling guys into the paths of each other’s weapons and no-look handoff reloads and stuff. Really got across the idea that they were a team honed through hundreds of years of experience with each other. I liked it a lot more than the original comic and bring on number two I say!

  142. “I do disagree about Avengement to an extent. Yes it’s good because it has some action to break it up, but at the same time none of the action is particuarily interesting or memorable. It’s just basic punching”

    In that case, MUH, I’d advise you give the latest Adkins joint Legacy of Lies a WIDE berth.

    Kinda reconfirms my nagging suspicion that, like Donnie and Wilson Yip, Adkins without the firm guiding hands of Florentine and Johnson, can be more miss than hit.

  143. I actually haven’t seen a ton of Adkins movies. Whenever I do I’m always vaguely entertained enough on the base level of DTV, sometimes more than that, but never really never that much more. I’ve not been a huge Florentine fan, his movies always come off cheesier, with their super sped up silly fights. Johnson is a lot better and a better director. But still…they made a movie with Iko, Jaa, Tiger Chen, with Adkins and Michael Jai White and I’m watching the fights and feeling like why am I kind of bored? They’re not BAD really, they’re just nothing. Like everyone’s going through some rote motions. Iko did amazing fights even in that horrible piece of shit Wu Assassins show.

    And it’s not like you even need great choreography, you just need a vision for what to do with them. No one did basic punchups better than Walter Hill. Watch The Warriors, there are no super cool movies anyone is doing, but he was able to put things together and the momemtum of things made it amazing. A guy like Johnson just wants to shoot everything in a wide so we can “see the action” which is fine, but can also get stale and just look like he’s pointing a camera. The fight in 48 Hours is nothing in terms of choreography but it’s great.

  144. “And it’s not like you even need great choreography, you just need a vision for what to do with them”

    This, I absolutely can get behind.

    You don’t even need a grand vision, just one that suits the movie. My problem with a lotta movies these days is that it’s makers have no idea if it’s a “a quick burger and fries to go” flick or a “9 course Chinese Banquet Sit down” one.

    Like, I’m glad so many here give the Old Guard props for it’s “back story” when for me, personally, it didn’t need one. This was a burger and fries movie, but they loaded me with a salad I didn’t ask for and which took me forever to eat and digest because it was exceptionally crunchy and didn’t even come with a soda to wash it down. If your vision was “Immortal Mercenaries Who Kick Ass” then show THAT. If your vision was “Immortal Mercenaries Ponder the Weariness Of A Never Ending Life” then ditch the guns and axes and show THAT.

    Unforgiven didn’t need epic quick draw gunfights and The Quick and The Dead didn’t need fireside ruminations on death and the morality of killing. And neither pretended to be the other.

    Costner’s Wyatt Earp NEEDED the full banquet sit down while Russell’s Tombstone just needed to be a tasty Big Kahuna burger washed down with a tasty beverage.

    The Warriors is a perfect example. Essentially a re-tooled Odyssey, it had clarity of vision, focus and purpose. Then again, I consider Walter Hill to be a fucking genius.

  145. 3 Expendables and 1 Triple Threat have convinced me that gathering certified ass-kickers in one movie is akin to wanting to be a male porn star: The idea,fantasy and anticipation behind it is far better than it’s realization is ever gonna be.

    I’m watching this stellar assembly of bulging biceps, karate exponents, Muay Thai wizards and Silat supremos in one location and keep asking myself “Why is there so much jabber instead of jabbing?”

    Even Stallone, whom I consider to be a very talented director and writer couldn’t ace it.

    Every inspired idea is rapidly torpedoed by a head-scratchingly bad one.

    Let’s have the loose cannon, unhinged one in the group be Lundgren but then sideline him midway.

    Let’s have Lundgren have a stare down with Steve Austin but then have Austin go toe-to-toe with …..Randy Couture????

    Let’s shoot a 2-on-1 showdown between Jet Li, Statham and Gary Daniels…and hyper-edit it into incoherence.

    Let’s have Mickey Rourke but feature him in only 2 scenes, one of them a long rambling monologue nobody asked for and shot in extreme close up.

    Let’s reverse a common 80s trope and have the Asians be the good guys and the Westerners the bad ones..then have Adkins and White spend half the movie driving about while Chen and Jaa run and hide, while Iko pops up sporadically like the badly written and awkwardly shoe-horned character he is.

    So it IS possible to mess up a simple order of burger and fries.

  146. Yeah I’ve never seen a full Expendables movie. They don’t even look that entertaining to me.

    But I don’t mind talking. I don’t mind that there was a a bunch in Triple Threat, I don’t even recall it being a talky movie or anything…I bet there was a solid 20-25 minutes of action in that flick, which is more than some would have. There was a lot of dialogue and downtime in Raid 2, I know some people complained but I thought it was wonderful. I love character details. But when they fought, it was great. In Triple Threat, when they fought it was generic by the numbers nothing. Just fulfilling the most basic needs of DTV…let’s have punching, doesn’t have to be good, as long as they’re punching people are happy. There was no energy and it was filmed boringly, a Johnson hallmark. What a waste of three amazing martial artists. Yeah the story was dumb, there could have been an interesting way to put them together but they sure didn’t crack that code.

  147. Couldn’t agree more with KayKay. I am not as big of a follower of modern action films, but I did watch all of the 80s-90s major ass-kicking films, and I did watch all of the EXPENDABLES films, and they were super-disappointing on the whole. Honorable mention to JCVD, who is about the best thing in the franchise and elevates 2 as the best film in the series. I still think the basic premise and cast /character structure of EXPENDABLES could’ve worked well. It’s not just that it’s overstuffed — I can live with over-stuffed — it’s that the films look like shit, are too enamored of their own cutesy male bonding grab-ass antics, and, relatedly, their pacing is pretty clunky. Again, part 2 does better on just about all counts. Especially with part 1, it just looks and feels fairly amateurish and slipshod, like they thought casting and premise alone could carry the film. Nope.

  148. Skani, reading your comments it just dawned on me, The Expendables, especially 1 &2, largely became the Meathead Version of Ocean’s 12, where your Big Stars aren’t so much inhabiting a role as goofing around, and letting you know they’re goofing around and collecting a fat paycheck for it with gag reels and outtakes masquerading as approved takes.I did enjoy Expendables 2, but the nudge-nudge-wink-wink smarminess got pretty annoying right about the time Chuck Norris shows up for a pointless cameo for as long as it takes him to crack a Chuck Norris joke and later with Willis and Schwarzenegger swapping catch-phrases. Apart from JCVD and Adkins, NOBODY seemed to be taking this seriously!

    And I agree, only JCVD, Lundgren and Gibson totally committed and elevated this series.

    I’d also give some credit to Snipes and Banderas in Expendables 3, that is for the 30 minutes of screen time where they weren’t mercilessly sidelined in favor of non-entities whose most recognizable member was the 8th Least Relevant Vampire in Twilight.

  149. I’ve softened on it a bit, but for a time I considered the second EXPENDABLES to be the worst action movie ever made. I’d seen less competent action movies, but none that I found more purely insulting to the genre I love. That goddamn Chuck Norris scene made me want to swear off the fucking lot of them.

    I still think it sucks but whatever. The genre survived Sly’s cynical attempts to strip its corpse for nutrients.

  150. Yeah, I mean, that Chuck Norris scene and the smart-car thing with Bruce and Arnold just reflects the series intentionally devolving into self-parody, and I’m not sure why they did that at that point, but part 1 was such a lifeless, dimly lit, self-important nothingburger that I gave the credit for at least trying to inject some life into things. But, no argument that this franchise is probably the single-greatest waste of action star power in human history and should be confined to the deep recesses of space.

  151. It’s weird how the EXPANDABLES series always misses the mark. Part 1 was solid and at that time it was a novelty to finally see all those action stars together, but then Sly blew it by promising us the ultimate 80s action throwback and giving us shaky, overedited post action bullshit. Then in part 2 they started to cater to the crowd who watches actionmovies ironically, giving us Chuck Norris jokes and cringy winks and nudges. And part 3 was PG 13 and sidelined most characters for some new guys, that nobody cared about.

  152. Vince, I know we don’t see eye to eye on the EXP movies, but worst ever?! I know from earlier, quite lenghty, discussions that where most people here see PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, TURKISH STAR WARS and HOT RODS TO HELL, I see DANGER: DIABOLIK, CASONO ROYALE ’67 and MODESTY BLAISE (read: big, chaotic and crazy), but come on…

  153. Whoa, pegsman, apropos of absolutely nothing else, thank you for the violent flashback trigger of having seen TURKISH STAR WARS a six-pack deep at my local arthouse theater (Grand Illusion represent!) and being dizzyingly confused yet fully enchanted.

  154. The real problem with The Expendables films were not having strong visual Director’s who knew the Action genre, I mean Sly directed the first Ex and the 4th Rambo film but his style was that fast, quick edited, hyper stylised stuff we’ve been seeing in big modern action films for almost 2 decades now.
    They needed someone like John Mctiernan, Walter Hill or even Renny Harlin to give the films the vibe they were trying to aim for but again Sly rarely works with BIG action directors where he has less of an input and rather work with a guy called Patrick Hughes???????

  155. Patrick Hughes made the very good RED HILL, so I can see why Sly hired him. And EXPENDABLES 3 is the best in the trilogy.

  156. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 7th, 2020 at 2:33 am

    The EXPENDABLES films are indeed weird. Each of them have enjoyable elements, yet all seriously miss the mark in different ways.

    The first one has the best action by far, meaning it has two scenes I never mind rewatching: Statham and Stallone VS the soldiers and the whole last act. It’s shaky-cam and often murky, yet there’s a rhythm and energy to it, it kind of sucks you in – especially the last act. Plus it was shot knowing it would have an R rating (even if the blood and gore is all CG). Aside from that it’s a weird, kinda slow and awkward film – nobody seems to be comfortable saying their lines and there’s no chemistry between anyone.

    EXPENDABLES 3 is the opposite. It actually feels like a real film, with normal dialogue and the actors bouncing off of each other much more naturally. Snipes and Banderas are great additions to the cast and Gibson is fantastic, bringing an intensity the film does not deserve. Because all the rest of it sucks. It does 2 truly unforgivable things: having a PG 13 rating and giving half the movie over to a bunch of young assholes nobody wanted to see. Aside from that the action is as generic as it comes. Sure, you can see what happens as there’s less shaky-cam, but there’s no energy, no kick to anything. This is the only one I never want to watch again, because it actively pisses me off. You get Snipes in, get Gibson as the villain, and THIS is what you do with them? It’s a fucking disgrace.

    And then there’s the second one, which sits in the middle. It’s still an awkward film, but not quite as awkward as the first one. The action is not as good (having been shot with a PG 13 rating in mind), but it does the job, there’s some good moments. Van Damme gets a chance to shine; Adkins is criminally wasted but makes the most of his 2 minutes on screen. There’s some super cringey comedy stuff, but also some jokes that land. It’s fine.

    In the end though, after three films we never got anything close to what was promised, to what on paper could have been one of my favorite films ever. Stallone had gold in his hands and got three chances to make something with it, but flushed it down the toilet every time. It’s a damn shame.

  157. I agree, I only saw the R-rated version though. As much as the EXPENDABLES films weren’t what they could or should have been I did think they improved as they went along.

    It will actually be ten years since EXPENDABLES next week. Remember how “the internet” said you were a slack-jawed numbskull if you want for THE EXPENDABLES over SCOTT PILGRIM? Because grizzled, grey musclemen fighting in the style of 80s action films is dumb, but Pitchfork subscribers having SNES-tinged CGI fights is smart?

  158. I seem to recall the opposite reaction. That you’re a sissy lame boy for choosing Scott Pilgrim over The Expendables. I ended up seeing both on the same day. Scott Pilgrim is the better movie by a wide margin. If this were Twitter I’d tell you not to @ me lol

  159. I started Banshee and I’m on episode 5. I like the show a lot but when do these great action scenes kick in?

  160. Sternshein, in the immortal words of Hannibal Lecter: All good things to those who wait.

    I saw it more than 2 years ago, but has the asshole boxer shown up? That’s about the time the first of many brutal smackdowns start to occur. But I think it’s S2 or S3 when the really cool set pieces kick in.

  161. See? This is why I can’t with TV. I start thinking “Hey, I keep hearing this BANSHEE show is a reliable source of good fights. Maybe I should stop being such a prick and check it out.” And then all of a sudden it’s “Fights? Oh sure, we got lots of fights. Oh you mean right now? Oh hell no, son, have a seat! Fights don’t get started for another 15, 20 hours! Get comfy! Can I interest you in an adultery subplot or something?”

    You know, it’s been awhile so I can’t say for sure but I believe they had a car chase AND a gunfight in the VERY FIRST episode of THE A-TEAM. They didn’t make you wait until Season 3 while they spent the first 30 episodes detailing the van.

    Also, I apologize for suggesting that it might be possible for me to stop being such a prick. I think we all know that’s a lie.

  162. Hahahaha…I hear ya, Mighty Majestyk!

    Yes, TV does demand an investment in terms of sheer hours of commitment, like it or not. For me personally, outside of great action, the central premise of the show itself needs a hook that attracts me, and if it does…hell, reel me in! If it doesn’t, then no promise of bone-crunching carnage somewhere down the line is gonna entice me, just like you, I’d go “Screw this, I’d rather watch Headshot again”.

    For me personally, with respect to Banshee, I was just sold on the central idea that the Hero, who’s the Sheriff, this Engine of Law Enforcement in a small town, is himself a criminal. But he’s strictly a thief, a heist planner who considers other forms of criminal activity beneath him and abhorrent. And the fun is in watching him deal with various assortments of venal slime buckets who assault, rape, drug deal, torture and kill with impunity. He doesn’t think like a career lawman. He speaks the Scumbag Lingo and goes straight for the jugular, dispensing his own brand of righteous retribution.

    So, that was my hook, (and seasoning the palate was Hoon Lee’s scene stealing acerbic transvestite, Ulrich Thomsen’s chilling lapsed Amish turned Drug Lord and Matthew Rauch’s terrifying henchman not to mention copious amounts of nudity from the largely game female cast, God Bless them) but I totally understand that not being someone else’s cup of tea, and if you’re strictly signing on for a series of consistently occurring Epic Beatdowns, then you’re gonna get blue-balled frequently.

    And The A-TEAM was awesome!

  163. That does sound pretty cool. I would be all over a movie with that premise. If I was gonna give any TV show a shot during this advanced stage of my TVphobia, it’d probably be this one.

  164. The MMA fighter is in the third episode so if you don’t think that’s a good fight, then might want to move on. But I think that shit was better than Scott Adkins’ mostly bland work.

    Hey Majestyk…A-Team was trash, so there’s also that. Who needs a storyline and plot threads when we can have ONE plot and just use it over and over and over and over for years exactly the same? Montage of building something near the end, what will it be thiiiis time?

  165. Looking at a list of Banshee episodes from season 1…in the first ep you had a nice brutal quickie. Then in the third you had the awesome MMA fighter bout, which is where I really perked up and said this show isn’t playing around. The sixth has the gruesome fight against the giant albino. The 7th has the great one take chase scene. The 8th has a brutal fight that lasts about a third of the entire episode.

    Every other episode still has some kind of fight or action sequence, it gets more gun heavy in the last couple.

  166. The only reason why the MMA fight is as memorable as it is is only because of how fucking brutal it is. Take away that and it’s not paticulary well choreographed or anything. But it’s still memorable. Probably the finger breaking spot was the most wince inducing of them.

    Muh, I think we’ll probably see eye to eye on Banshee because the show is super enjoyable. I think you and others may have over sold the action but I think the acting and dialogue were undersold which is what I like the most so far.

  167. I think it’s a fair point that the action is not *as good* as the best of the best movies, but what impresses me is how it executes action pretty consistently at a way higher level than most any other tv show I can think of and on the production schedule of a tv show too. And for me personally, the choreography of a fight is less important than the intensity of it- in fact, an over-choreographed fight can kind of take me out of the moment. BANSHEE hits that sweet spot for me, plus the characters are all such fun bastards it’s a good time to watch them bounce their fists off each other.

  168. Well it depends then on your definition of a good fight. I have a pretty wide definition…my particular favorites are well choreographed stuff but it doesn’t have to be that. A great, down and dirty, brutal fight meets my personal criteria. Which is why a guy like Scott Adkins, as talented as he is, I can’t get into because none of his stuff really advances beyond “technically fine but bland in every department.”

    But I guess because it usually came up when we were talking about action stuff which is why that got highlighted, but even if a show has GREAT action I won’t watch it if the rest sucks. Like Wu Assassins has got to be the worst jam I’ve ever seen, so I just found the fights and watched those. But yeah Banshee is an excellent show overall, with great characters and I love the storyline. It’s a lot of fun.

    And there ARE later on a number of next level fight scenes, that go beyond just being good brutal punch em ups and into “that was goddamn GREAT.” Those start coming in the second season. And there’s a few where they don’t seem as interesting until you pay attention…like there’s one where he fights a line of security guards and overall it’s not amazing choreogrophy or anything…and then you start realizing there’s been no cuts. They don’t do it in a “Daredevil look at this trick” way, they just do it straight up.

  169. My other response was to Stern, but Kurgan I agree. I love the super choreographed stuff the most, but that style of action would actually break the world of Banshee. It’s about lowlifes and criminals, not kung fu masters, so the fighting is appropriate for the story.

    The fight with the Jason Statham clone in the second season is one for the books.

  170. You guys are making a very compelling case. Does the show supply a reason why a small-town sheriff gets into big-time action movie scrapes on a weekly basis?

    Honestly, I’m more likely to check it out if there isn’t. Lets me know the show is more interested in being awesome than being…whatever the fuck most TV wants to be.

  171. I mean it does more or less, in action logic. But it’s still a tv show…it sounds like you mostly want case of the week stuff and what’s the crisis THIS week and let’s fight a lot, but this is still a drama show with characters so there’s going to be talking and scenes where characters discuss personal shit. It’s not Stephen A. Cannell making Renegade.

  172. I would say that’s a qualified “yes”, but only insomuch as the town of Banshee is, by the time he arrives, already populated by an improbably large number of mobsters, murderers, drug-runners, moonshiners, gangbangers, and other such assorted types of fellas. Indeed the whole *world* appears to be populated largely by people it turns out to be a bad idea to fight. It’s kinda like the first John Wick movie in that way- the explanation is just “this is how it is here”.

  173. Yep, and in action movie terms it make sense because Banshee isn’t just a regular town that happens to have a lot of criminals in it…it’s basically powered by a guy who has set up a giant criminal enterprise there, and so he has guys coming in and out doing business.

  174. I don’t actually want a return to the completely episodic trash TV of the 80s. I just want a show that commits to entertaining me every single episode, not just at the beginning and end of the season. My platonic ideal of TV shows is BUFFY: Monster-of-the-Week stuff provides structure and incidental thrills to every episode while the Big Bad moves the uberplot along in the background. It sounds like BANSHEE might fit that bill.

    Unfortunately, it turns out it’s not and likely never will be streaming anywhere I’ll ever be able to see it. I’m not getting Hulu and doing a $9.99-a-month add-on just to watch one show. So once again I am back to my original position of “I just can’t with TV.”

  175. But seriously, I really like the premise the way you guys describe it. I’m a little disappointed I’ll never get a chance to see it.

  176. I was entertained by every episode. And sometimes they do basically have “monster of the week” episodes where there’s a basic storyline that gets resolved by the end. But it’s more of a drama than Buffy (which did melodrama). And every season has a storyline.

    My favorite tv show ever is Justified, which is supremely entertaining, is funny, every character is great, and the villains are super colorful. My dad hates everything and just watches Law and Order so I finally loaned him these so he’d maybe get some slight mental stimulation on tv beyond that and Fox News, and he loved it so much he watched them all in like six days, which is insane. And then he started watching them again right after.

  177. I guess I am looking for more shootouts and chases more than fights with this show. For example, the opening of episode four with the heist was great. He’s trying to get away and he has to constantly think on his feet while trying to flee like 10 cop cars. I liked that one a bunch.

    Right before starting it I was thinking that maybe I should watch Justified but everybody knows that one and I think Banshee could use a little love.

  178. I guess I could get the discs from Netflix. (Yes, I’m the guy who still gets discs from Netflix.) I did that for of JUSTIFIED, but the process was so laborious that I gave up after one season, despite liking the show. It’s not like my disc queue is full of eagerly awaited masterpieces or anything so maybe that will be a good use for it.

  179. Yeah Muh the albino fight was quick and brutal.

  180. After getting such a kick out of seeing Antony Starr as Lucas Hood in 38 episodes of BANSHEE, it was almost painful to see him as the asshole superhero Homelander in the otherwise great THE BOYS.

  181. Muh, I am shocked and saddened by your disdain for Scott Adkins. I’m not sure how you could watch the UNDISPUTEDs, NINJAs, ACCIDENT MAN or DAY OF RECKONING and come away thinking the fights were bland…

  182. Now you know how the rest of us feel about you and HARD TARGET.

  183. Yeah, as mentioned elsewhere, I won’t pretend to keep up with you hand-to-hand action connoisseurs, but DAY OF RECKONING and BOYKA kick-ass. That sporting goods store fight?! “C’mon!!?!” (in my best GOB Bluth voice)

  184. I have zero disdain for Scott Adkins. I’ve never slammed the guy, he’s incredibly talented and now that they’re letting his personality shine and letting him act, his movies have improved solely because of him.

    But yeah, his fights are kind of dull generally speaking. And it’s not his fault. It’s the speed at which they do them and the, I guess limited talent of the coordinators. Adkins himself has said they can’t do great fights because they have to shoot them fast…this comes from him not me.

    Undisputed fights? Yeah, to me, bland…not HORRIBLE, they simply exist. Not a lot of drama, they fight, it stays about the same level throughout, it’s all sped up and looks kind of silly, then the hero wins. Ninja was dull. I saw Accident Man and don’t remember it that well, I liked him but again, the fights themselves are kind of boring. Generic kicks, generic blocks, generic everything. Day of Reckoning fights are fine enough but what move did they do that was cool, what combo was awesome, really what finishing move? You can even count the moves, 1! 2! 3!, same basic speed and generic stuff, all shot with an okay enough style but nothing memorable in what they’re doing with the camera either.

    Now Banshee, take the MMA fight…it’s sort of generic in terms of pure choreography. But they actually tell a little story in it. MMA guy is arrogant, realizes Hood is pretty good. Some back and forth, guy starts getting pretty pissed because Hood is putting the hurt on him. Goes into fancier stuff, puts Hood on the ropes, guy is getting arrogant again. Hood picks him up and slams him down, now he needs to end this and gets brutal and does a number of cringe things to the man’s body. Day of Reckoning, the fight in the store is this…they are both mad and beat on each other for two minutes, then Adkins breaks the guy’s arm and wins. No character beats, no nothing, just get in there and shoot a fight in a day and call it, we have a movie to shoot and we only have 12 days!

    It’s kind of like the Raid, a movie I LOVE and the choreographers are good and coming up with some cool moves, but can also suck at telling a story in a fight. They’ve gotten better. But the end of The Raid is basically this for five minutes: Mad Dog is fighting two guys, he knocks one down, the other is instantly on him. They go one on one, then Mad Dog knocks him down JUST WHEN the other has recovered and is instantly on him. Repeat that formula until Mad Dog gets stabbed in the neck. It’s a fun fight, it’s well done, but the first time I saw it it started getting old after awhile.

    Compare with Jackie Chan, who is a fucking master and can do a 15 minutes fight scene in the end of Drunken Master 2 and it never gets boring, because he keeps changing things up…the speed, the tempo, the fighters, the story, and adds in character beats. Never gets boring to me.

    But this is why I think Adkins’ best movie was Avengement, although I haven’t seen them all. But it actually had a cool story and I liked his character, when they started fighting in that movie is where it got so-so.

  185. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 14th, 2020 at 1:49 am

    Muh, I will say that the fights in quite a few of his more quickly shot films aren’t the greatest – I’m talking stuff like ELIMINATORS, HARD TARGET 2, CLOSE RANGE etc. – even though they’re still very entertaining while you’re watching them, they’re a little bland and generic and I’ve never gone back to them after seeing them the one time.

    But calling the fights in any of his UNDISPUTED films bland simply does not compute. Those are high quality, energetic and expertly shot fights. Great camera moves, super cool choreography. J.J. Perry played a big part in putting Adkins on the map with his choreography for UNDISPUTED 2 (check Adkins’ recent interview with him for more details on that) and Isaac made it look fantastic. And the final fight in UNDISPUTED III is just a goddamn classic, and also telling a story in itself which you mention you enjoy.

    Compare that to the fight scene with the MMA fighter in BANSHEE, which is very cool and very good for a TV show, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to Adkins’ better stuff in any way. How could it?

    Anyways, it seems you are looking for something very specific from your fight scenes, which I can relate to. I have some strange quirks myself, certain “sins” that nobody else would even notice being committed in a fight scene, but for me can make me lose all interest immediately. Still, I had to stand up for UNDISPUTED, man. That shit is legit.

  186. Some days I find myself longing for the days when movie heroes didn’t have to have a black belt in anything. Bud Spencer, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Burt Reynolds – they often impressed us more in their fight scenes than most of todays helium filled superkickers.

  187. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 14th, 2020 at 6:11 am

    I missed out on a lot of that era and never really caught up, but I do remember being completely riveted as a very young kid watching the fight between Sean Connery and the main henchman in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. I watched that scene over and over. When you look at it now, it’s just two grown men running after each other, bumping over furniture and awkwardly pulling at each other’s legs. It does have the great finishing move of the bad guy being thrown to the piranhas though. Those were the days.

  188. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve started zoning out during martial arts fights. They all seem to have the same rhythm of punches and blocks and counterattacks and they make my brain trail off. So I do sympathize with Muh on this. I love amazing feats of physical prowess in my fight scenes but what I’m really looking for a little more personality. When each fighter is unnervingly, every fight starts to feel the same unless there’s some gimmick thrown in, like an offbeat weapon/location/opponent. I want some sloppiness in there to fuck up the formula so it’s doesn’t seem so choreographed and perfect. I think THE NIGHT COMES FOR US was a step in the right direction.

  189. Oh, here’s my main pet peeve: When every hit is so brutal that there’s no way to tell what’s a finishing move and what isn’t. You have everybody get viciously slammed in the face 27 times, I start figuring the movie takes place in a world where faces are invincible. So why all of a sudden does the last punch to the face work? You start a fight at 10 and there’s nowhere to build to. There needs to be more modulation to the escalation of violence if the finishing moves are to be both believable and impressive.

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    Punisher Prison Fight Scene | Daredevil (2x9) [HD Color Regraded] Propiety of Marvel and Netflix.

  191. And again, I’m not saying the Boyka fights are BAD. They;re not bad. They are uninteresting to me. They start, they’re undercranked so this hardcore realistic fight suddenly looks cartoony and cheesy. There is no break to the rhythm of any of the fights, once they start, it’s pretty much the same until the end. And suddenly, out of the many kicks that have been delivered to the face, suddenly one works and a kick to the face takes down an opponent. I don’t see any great camera moves, it seems purely functional in terms of how it’s shot. Very well, this is not fights from the 90s where they were all garbage. All of the moves are precise and slick and nicely rehearsed and feel that way.

    The MMA fighter in Banshee is not slick like a Boyka fights, but like I said the storytelling and character beats is why I think it’s good, even if the moves themselves aren’t much to write home about. And you see how he wins…he slowly keeps hurting the guy, then fucks his arm up, now the guy can’t punch or grab. But it still goes on. And where he basically finished the fight by RIPPING A MAN’S HAND IN HALF, you know it’s done. Where in Boyka they just hot each other with moves of the same speed and intensity but for some reason the 18th kick to the face knocks the guy out, because I guess it was better than the 17th. And if you want variety…well you have big muscle dude who does spin kicks vs other muscle dude who does spin kicks, in the same basic ring.

    The best James Bond fight is still the one on the train. James and another guy just trying to kill each other, nothing fancy. And when the guy’s on the ground, Bond does what a real dirty fighter does…stomps on his back and kicks him in the head, not what they do in modern choreography where he expends energy to pick the guy up to he can punch him in the face.

    I agree Mr. M., The Night Comes for Us had really stepped it up for those guys. In stuff like The Raid 2, which has AWESOME fights, they still did shit that annoyed me a lot. Like when the bad guy pulls out a knife and deeply slashes the good guy’s leg right underneath…then they keep fighting and totally seem to ignore it happened. Why have him get wounded it you don’t make it part of the story of the fight? They did that shit a lot and it makes no sense, this is the stuff Jackie excels at. But in Night, the end fight…it’s nice and a little basic to start, sizing each other up. THEN, suddenly it speeds up and you get really nice fast combos. Then you get stuff on the ground, then they start fighting around objects and try to use weapons on each other. It’s a long fight but has a cool set, and a nice variety of what happens. THAT is a great fight.

  192. I sympathize with a lot of the spirit of the discussion here (I’m all for fights that tell stories! I always say the best fight scenes should be like the best songs in musicals- they should both tell a story and advance the overall story, be motivated by the character’s emotions, and, ideally, get stuck in your head for a few days afterwards) but I will just say that in a real fight, a boxing match say, the punch that actually knocks someone doesn’t really *look* all that different from the other 50 punches that happened over the last minute. That’s not to say movies shouldn’t strive for “better than real”, because they definitely should, but it’s not really unbelievable if one kick doesn’t knock a guy out but the next one does. That’s just fights for ya.

  193. But…that’s not how any of the fights happen in the UNDISPUTED series. In UNDISPUTED 2, MJW is a boxer that has to learn MMA to beat Boyka and wins by snapping his leg in half with an MMA hold. It aboslutely tells a story which you seem to be into. In UNDISPUTED 3, Boyka counters a Marko Zaror kick by kicking his leg and, again, snapping it in half (its nasty). Like, none of the fights end with kicks to face. Also, they are not “hardcore realistic fights” and at no point do they ever even remotely pretend to be. Those movie are very cartoonish from start to finish which a big part of their charm. Are you sure you saw them??

    Anyway, I don’t buy that criticism about fights having to tell a story. That’s what shitty professional wrestlers say to cover the fact that they suck. Sure, the best fights do combine physical ability and storytelling, but the former is much more important in my book and focusing on the latter is usually what makes fights more boring to me.

  194. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 14th, 2020 at 9:47 am

    My main pet peeve is fights being interrupted or intercut with other stuff that’s not nearly as interesting, messing up the build-up, energy and rhythm that the fight was busy creating. In the worst cases, when it cuts back to the fight, it will be a completely different move, or the characters are suddenly in a different part of the room, making you feel like you missed some important beats and cool moves.

    THE RAID has a minor case of this in the end fight, when it suddenly cuts for a minute or two to the white haired corrupt cop. SPL 2 was worse. All I wanted was to watch the heroes fight Max Zhang but it keeps cutting to the gangster boss in his bed and the daughter walking around outside.

    Another gripe is weak finishing moves. You want the fight to end with a bang, not a whimper. Gareth Evans is a master at this, but way too often movie fights will end in some random, uninteresting way. In the worst cases this feels like edging without release, very unsatisfying. Oh, or fights where nobody wins, it just ends because of some random interruption, I fucking hate that. Or bloodless fights, where people get punched in the face 25 times and don’t even suffer a bloody lip.

    I could go on :)

  195. Kurgan, I mean sure…but you see how real fights can also be uncinematic that way? You really going to end your big climactic fight by a guy getting a tap to the face that looks like nothing but was lucky? Movies are drama, and it’s not like any of these movies are trying to be realistic. I’m talking about what’s interesting and what isn’t…and by the way, doing that COULD be interesting. Like if you had a guy keep popping a dude in the face and you see him getting frustrated because he’s not blocking them, then getting tired and out of sorts and finally beaten…that’s a story, that’s drama, that’s not just two guys slugging each other until one loses.

    Yeah Hallsy I’ve seen those boring movies, but I didn’t memorize them…don’t be pedantic. You realize when I say “kicks to the face” I’m not being literal, right? Also, you described two fights…so there are only two fights in those movies? I mean you’re saying that movies which are inherently telling stories shouldn’t be telling stories in all of their aspects? That’s the argument you want to make? Ooookay! Yeah stories in movies are like wrestling.

    But this is also why I can’t really make it through a lot of the 70s kung fu movies either. They have an end fight which is two guys in a field throwing moves at each other for 10 minutes without a lot of variation. Shit gets boring.

  196. Gaul I agree, I don’t like it when they intercut fights. You lose steam that way. The worst examples of that shit is 2000s American kung fu movies. Like Jet Li would be fighting Mark Dacascos on some shitty movie and it’s like damn this is actually pretty good…but you only get 20 seconds of it and then it will cut to DMX using a shotgun like a yo-yo and it’s like why am I here?

    I agree with you about Gareth Evans, he’s great about cool finishing moves. I don’t always mind an interruption, if there’s a good reason for it I’m up for anything.

  197. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 14th, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Muh, that’s funny, I almost mentioned CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE in my post. Indeed that Jet Li/Dacascos fight is a perfect example of this. I actually made my own cut of that fight, which was fun, but then you realize the whole fight is just 90 secs long when you cut it together. Good finishing move though, nothing like exploding a small nuclear weapon in your opponent’s throat!

  198. Yep that was a pretty good fight, in the rain with the fire. I mean for a Hollywood production, quite good. Another fight by the same shitty director that is actually surprisingly good considering it stars Fat Seagal is the one he made right at the same time, what was it called…something about wounds. Seagal himself is not much but Michael Jai White is in there bringing the flash and they have a cool fight with some kind of giant paper cutters. And of course chopped to shit, so you only get 10 seconds at a time and then a bunch of filler in other scenes.

  199. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 14th, 2020 at 11:04 am

    EXIT WOUNDS yeah, the very last watchable film Seagal ever made.

  200. I really hate Andrzej Bartkowiak. I don’t know how he managed to make so many martial arts movies without knowing how to actually film a martial arts movie. He is obviously a good cinematographer but he needs to stop directing. Also the latest Scott Adkins art of action really makes fun of the football scene in Romeo Must Die. Don’t watch Maximum Impact despite all the stars in it, it’s awful.

    Gaul, Gareth has gone on record saying he wishes he didn’t cut to the two guys and just did the final fight in one scene. It’s still one of my favorite fights ever.

  201. I feel a little bad about complaining, because the state of action cinema is miles above where it was ten years ago, when you’d be lucky to see Jason Statham begin and complete a blow in the same shot. There is a dedication to showmanship and brinksmanship in today’s action cinema that I am 100% down for. But I do that the workmanlike nature of DTV/streaming has made a lot of those type of movies extremely anonymous. This is still a big improvement over the straight to video scene of decades past, though, when the stories were shit and the action was too. Nowadays we’re seeing some progress on both fronts, as certain DTV directors get better at their craft and expand their talents a bit more. But I’m not sure if anybody will really be allowed to try anything too distinct. The fact that Jon Abrams made a couple of idiosyncratic action films that managed to have distinct personalities while still delivering on their genre requirements and yet he hasn’t gotten an action movie made in eight years tells me that maybe the action industry isn’t ready for personality yet.

  202. Sternshein that’s Hollywood for ya. They didn’t really care about the action quality. I always did find it funny that they constantly used the same sound effects as The Matrix, which has these unmistakable sound effects and then they would reuse it in that slop.

    Romeo must Die is a weird one. What a PIECE OF SHIT movie. Everything about it sucked, not just the action. Except…the end fight is actually pretty good. For the most part they ditched the wire work and gave us a real fight with some good work in there, and it was kind of cool and different seeing Jet Li being tortured and screaming and going beserk. He’s usually so cool and collected so seeing his hands get burnt and a guy ripping off the flesh and Jet screaming was interesting to see. I liked that fight scene.

    Mr. M the action is definitely quite above what it used to be…I mean back in the day you’d get a Van Damme movie movie where they choreography would be a rightcross and they’d just use the same punch about eight times and call it a day. But yeah, the reason Adkins languishes in DTV Land is because none of the movies really gets past being anonymously fine. There’s nothing making people sit up and take notice except some hardcore fans (the same type who used to act like those Van Damme movies of yesteryear were also awesome). It’s like Mark DeCascos but at least DeCascos had the amazing achivement of Drive (In DTV Land, then got some breaks in French flicks). But hell back in the 90s you’d still get some DTV shit like Bloodmoon which is HORRIFICALLY cheesy but has some banger fight scenes. The late 80s and early 90s were like the boom of old school HK kickboxing style movies. Even something like Grosse Point Blank comes out and has a great fight scene right in the middle.

  203. Mr. M do you mean John Hyams? Yeah he’s off doing all them Asylum tv shows now. I did like Black Summer quite a bit, he kept it pretty entertaining.

  204. What’d I call him? Jon Abrams? Yeah, for some reason my brain wants to make that switch. I even looked it up before making that post and my brain still fucked me.

  205. I doubt if any of todays movie makers are on this page, but in the Shaw Brothers era most fight scenes were made for the same reason they made musical numbers or dance acts in other movies. We were supposed to admire the choreography and the athletisism of the actors. The fights were seldom used to drive the story forwards. And I love that. There are several Chang Cheh movies where it’s almost impossible to understand the story, but where the fights are so excellent that you simply don’t care. At the other end of the scala you have fights in thrillers and action movies that are all about story, but who are still memorable in their own right. Spencer Tracy vs Ernest Borgnine in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, Sean Connery vs Robert Shaw in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, Rod Taylor vs William Smith in DARKER THAN AMBER, Robert Redford vs Hank Garrett in THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, Charles Bronson vs Nick Dimitri in HARD TIMES, Clint vs William Smith in ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN etc, etc. And the reason we still remember these is still the dancing thing, but they’re in movies that deliver on other accounts. I don’t really know where I’m going with this. A bit hyper after too much coffee. Maybe Scott Adkins’ next, LEGACY OF LIES, will be his ticket to the latter category.

  206. You know, I’m conflicted reading comments from Majestyk and MUH. While agreeing with many of the points, it also brings to light how our lizard brains are wired. It tells me, after 3 consecutive days of being served prime cut Porterhouse Steaks, exquisitely seasoned and perfectly done to tickle the choicest palate, come Day 4 there’s going to be a discussion on how, maybe, just maybe, you know those steaks could have used a little over-salting, under-seasoning and perhaps just burnt slightly at the edges.

    We’re spoilt as fuck, we are, that’s the problem. We’re living in a Golden Age of Action Choreography that keeps upping the ante, while it’s efficacy on our senses wears out faster, leaving us craving a new high.

    And when we start poking holes in the fights of Undisputed 2,3 and the Raid films, then the Apocalypse is well and truly here.

    I don’t NEED fights to tell me a story all the time, although the emotional investment definitely ups the thrill factor. Sometimes, all it’s about is luxuriating in an exquisitely choreographed Violent Dance Routine and pegsman’s comment…..

    “I doubt if any of todays movie makers are on this page, but in the Shaw Brothers era most fight scenes were made for the same reason they made musical numbers or dance acts in other movies. We were supposed to admire the choreography and the athleticism of the actors. The fights were seldom used to drive the story forwards”

    ….perfectly sums this up.

    Truth is, very few fights emotionally thrill me, because I’m simply not that invested in the baddie getting his comeuppance which is a direct result of him not being a Repellent enough Shithole for me to give a rat’s arse most of the time. Very few Jackie Chan baddies are in any way menacing to me, but the stunts and choreography is Next Level Stuff which is all I require. I don’t require the emotional catharsis of the villain getting his just desserts. I’m basically watching Fred and Ginger, only with more kicks to the face and chops to the larynx. Ditto the villains in the Undisputed series (neither Adkins nor Zaror in spite of being certified ass-kickers evoked the type of vicious Prison Bully Menace that a Sonny Landham did so effortlessly in LOCK UP) and even the Raid films (Yayan Ruhyan and Cecep Ariff Rahman are vicious fighters but hardly menacing screen presences)

    In contrast, Merantau’s final showdown pulled me in emotionally, because the baddie has been established as a vicious sex trafficker and had just raped the heroine to boot. And yeah, the more emotional investment you have, the less you give a toss about the precision of the choreography and vice-versa. I wouldn’t rank the fight at the end of Out For Justice as top-tier Seagal stuff, but damn if it wasn’t emotionally satisfying thanks to William Forsythe’s terrifying portrayal as an unhinged psycho, priming you for 80+ minutes into some kind of Pavlovian anticipation for him to receive his comeuppance. And yeah, that’s also why Lucas Hood’s fight with the MMA fighter was good. Hardly the stuff of great choreography but emotionally satisfying because who the fuck doesn’t want to see an asshole rapist ending up a bloody, battered and crippled heap on the floor?

    So what am I saying? I don’t know, maybe that these are glorious times for fight flicks, the buffet is varied and it’s about what tickles your palate, and there’s something for everyone. Shit, if there’s any doubt, just go re-watch 2 of Don Wilson’s BLOODFIST movies for a stark reminder of what passed off as DTV martial arts once upon a time.

  207. “the same type who used to act like those Van Damme movies of yesteryear were also awesome”

    MUH, am not sure what your age is, but it all comes down to “You had to be there” if you’re not old enough or “you’ve outgrown that shit” if you are.

    Sure, the “One Punch, One Kick, Loop it 4 times” seems laughable now but JCVD and Bloodsport, CYBORG, KICKBOXER etc filled a gaping hole in Western martial arts cinema when the nearest alternative Chuck Norris was well past his prime. I can imagine someone of my Dad’s age bristling when I say Enter The Dragon is overrated, when you needed to be at the cinemas in the 70s, after a decade of Shaw Brothers’ Elaborately Mannered Kung Fu moves to suddenly see a combo of raw kicks and punches executed with savage ferocity.

    And also…with regards specifically to your comment about the Sporting Goods Store Fight Scene in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning not having an epic finishing move, watch the European Cut of that scene.

    You’ll change your mind.

    I guarantee it!

  208. I’m not, like, actively complaining. I just can’t help but notice that my attention more easily drifts during the kind of fights that used to utterly enthrall me. Too much of a good thing, I guess.

  209. KayKay, I was there at the time Van Damme was big, and my friends thought he was the shit. I always made fun of him back then for sucking, so I neither grew out of him nor came too late. This was back before you could find a lot of great action in the average thing…then one day when I finally got to college my professor was like “Let me show you some stuff from this guy named Jackie Chan from Hong Kong.” And the whole class was like uuugggh, no one wants to see that shit. Then he throws on a mix tape and our minds were BLOWN, it was like where has THIS been all our lives? When I saw The Raid the first time, even then I was getting a little bored by the fight at the end. It’s the same basic five bits replayed over and over. I didn’t hate it, but eventually it starts getting old no matter how technically good it is.

    Now, let me discuss “telling a story” vs “telling a story within a fight.” These are two different things. Seagal’s fight at the end of Out for Justice WAS very cathartic because the villain was just so heinous. Of course Seagal’s ego still wouldn’t allow it to go to the next next level and actually tell a story DURING the fight, where we would actually be concerned for his safety now that he comes face to face with this raging animal. Nope, it typical Seagal fashion he’s easily throwing the guy around and basically tortures him to death for a few minutes before deciding to just murder him, which he easily could have at any time.

    But now, since Jackie Chan was mentioned and he’s the king of choregraphy as far as I’m the concerned, the top ever…I’ll talk about a fight he did that doesn’t necessarily tell a story, and wasn’t even necessary to the entire story of the movie (they could have done this thing without a fight) but makes all the difference. The opening of Drunken Master 2.

    So Jackie finds out the incomparible Lau Kar-Leung has taken something he thinks is his, chases the dude down. Lau has a spear, Jackie has a sword. They fight under a train, which is a unique and interesting way to stage a swordfight. After abou a minute or so of that, they get out from under it, have a very brief conversation, then fight AGAIN now under a bridge so they still have to keep low and fight amongst the columns. THEN, they finish and Jackie follows Lau to a ht, where they both ditch the weapons and go hand to hand. Regular combat for a bit, then Jackie busts out his Drunken Style. This interests Lau and they fight some more, now Jackie is using Drunken and calling out the names of the moves. Then they end so Jackie can catch the train, and the switch is made (again, this could have been done without the five minutes of fighting so this entire fight isn’t “necessary” to the story but this is a kung fu film so we needs kung fu.).

    But see all the many levels to this sequence? That’s basically four different levels to this fight, which all amounts to the same basic story point. But this is what a master like Jackie knows…to keep everyone engaged, he keeps changing things up. Under a train, under a bridge, unarmed, and then using Drunken. Why not just that a five minute fight under the train? Cause he knows the mix is what keeps it fresh, and doing this you can fight FOREVER and keep things feeling new. He doesn’t fight with a ladder for three minutes in Police Story 4, he busts it out only at the end as a climax to the other 10 levels of action that came in the previous few minutes. This is what makes him a legend, he gets it totally. I could do this with almost every fight he does. He always varies the opponents, their styles, the numbers, and the locations within a movie.

    And I’ll go to bat for Bruce Lee. Enter the Dragon is his least interesting I think, but his fight with Chuck Norris, while basic by today’s standards was damn excellent and when you compare what he was doing vs what everyone else was at the time, he was so far beyond. I think the same in The Big Boss. The ferocity is there, plus Bruce did know how to mix it up. I’m not going to say the MOVIES were great, but he never got to do more. Kung fu movies as we know them only existed for like four years before he got on the scene. Before that you had swordplay stuff, but not hand to hand combat movies. That only started in the very end of the 60s. So guys like Bruce and Wang Wu were basically creating grammar for a brand new art.

  210. KayKay – thanks for expressing my position so much better than I could ever do it. But why did you have to go and ruin it by dissing JCVD? I thought the one thing we could all agree on here is that BLOODSPORT is an all-timer. Maybe you rewatched HARD TARGET recently and are holding that against him?

    Re: Seagal’s last watchable movie – if we are not counting MACHETE, I would say that PISTOL WHIPPED was surprisingly watchable. And the only reason I watched that one at all is because Vern pumped its tires in SEAGOLOLOGY.

  211. I like action movies

  212. Anyone like Luc Besson’s latest entry ANNA?

    It’s no ATOMIC BLONDE but there’s a pretty great restaurant fight scene there.

  213. Does the fight have a story to it?

  214. Keep adding those interesting insights, Stern.

  215. Look, I’m just goofing around.

  216. Felix – I liked it, and also thought of ATOMIC BLONDE.

    http://outlawvern.com/2019/11/05/anna/

  217. HALLSY, not at all, wasn’t dissing JCVD at all. I consider the man an important element in the Western Martial Arts Cinema Iconography. But you can’t escape the fact that viewed from the prism of today’s far more intricately choreographed and ferocious Tournament Fight Flicks, Bloodsport’s scraps seem a tad anemic. There are a couple of great finishing moves I’ll concede, but the choreography isn’t much to write home about. Comparatively Bloodsport 2 & 3 had better fights, given that future fight and stunt supremos like JJ Perry and Chad Stahelski choreographed them. Lionheart and Double Impact remain my early JCVD flicks of choice, the former for better staged fights and a genuine heart (no pun intended) at it’s core and the latter for it’s goofy charm which harks back to old Bollywood movies of the ’70s which had a common trope of identical twins being separated at birth who later re-team to take down the baddies.

  218. MUH, I totally agree that Jackie’s the Poet Laureate of Fight Choreography, and the way he mixes up styles, tempos and incorporates props is unparalleled. Which makes the dichotomy between his fights and all that other stuff in between so pronounced.

    Because I can unequivocally state here’s one thing I’ve definitely outgrown: The Jackie Approach to Comedy.

    Not just the scene you described, but all the other action bits in Drunken Master 2 still holds up amazingly, but the only reason to sit through the non-fighty bits is the late, great Anita Mui as Chan’s step-mother.

    I rewatched Dragon Lord a few weeks ago and once again: Top Notch stunt work, but then there’s a bit where Jackie’s father is quizzing him over some poetry recital and that scene seems to go on for 3 hours and later, there’s a Chinese “Hacky Sak” match, where I swear I left it running to make a sandwich, followed by a coffee and then took a leisurely dump, only to come out to see that freaking match still playing!

    Caught Wheels on Meals a few days ago. That showdown between Jackie and Benny the Jet? Still exquisite poetry in motion. But then there’s that love triangle bit between Jackie, Yuen Biao and the Spanish girl which is just Root Canal painful.

    Seems as Jackie got more control over his films, it demonstrated his absolute mastery over choreographing stunts and fights while exposing his weaknesses elsewhere.

  219. I don’t agree about WHEELS ON MEALS. I think the movies directed by Sammo has some of Jackie’s best comedy work. Especially DRAGONS FOREVER, which is really funny in parts. But, as we know, what one think is humorous is very subjective.

  220. Maybe I should give DRAGONS FOREVER re-visit then. Last of the “3 Brothers” collab if I recall.

    The beauty of having seen all of Chan’s 80’s exploits in your teens is that you’ve forgotten large chunks of it and can watch it like you’re seeing it for the 1st time.

  221. Jackie’s latest work hasn’t been that impressive. THE FOREIGNER with Pierce Brosnan is the best recent one so far. Jackie is on serious dramatic mode here.

    His latest film VANGUARD was supposed to have released during the Chinese New Year but has been delayed due to the Pandemic. Not expecting much from that one. Like The Expendables 3 – It seems the focus is on the younger cast.

    Jackie Chan's VANGUARD (Official Trailer) - In Cinemas 25 January 2020

    Covert security company Vanguard is the last hope of survival for an accountant after he is targeted by the world's deadliest mercenary organization.

  222. Watched this. Meh. Also watched AEON FLUX last week again for the first time since it came out. It was pretty bad then and it has NOT aged well. It is not that the SFX are lousy, it is the overall cheapness of the production and the overblown techno music that kicks in every fight scene trying to convince you that something exciting is happening. And it isn’t, the fight scenes are laughable for the most part. I noticed the MTV films logo at the start and it shows, the movie is total crap produced on a budget trying to masquerade as a real film. Just horrible. Francis McDormand tho, what a weird choice there both by the casting department and by her. It is like Judy Dench’s recent cameos in bad sci fi and fantasy, with this recent Disney POS and the Riddick movie long ago. If you are gonna do some stunt casting make it work, cast Mila Jovovitch or the ELEKTRA woman or something like that. Putting some Oscar winner in a minor but central role is just weird in low-brow shit like this.

  223. I strongly disagree. That sort of casting is a great tradition, including the examples you gave as well as Toni Collette in xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, Helen Mirren in the F&F movies, and of course Imaulda Staunton in SHADOW MAN. What’s wrong with not doing the most obvious thing every time?

    But aside from that, I don’t think it’s weird that McDormand would be interested in a movie from a promising female indie director, based on weird cutting edge source material, starring Charlize shortly after she won an Oscar for MONSTER and Sophie Okenodo who had just been nominated for HOTEL RWANDA. Also, Kusama says she delivered an art film that was heavily re-edited by the studio, and whether or not her version would’ve been good, I’m sure it’s what McDormand was sold on.

    But I would probly agree with you that it didn’t age well. I’ll find out some day.

  224. Two episodes into season two of Banshee and the action has improved by leaps and bounds.

  225. KayKay yeah while I like to talk theory on action and Jackie’s the prime, I can’t go to bat for his movies generally as a whole. He’s made shockingly few movies that actually work as overall films from start to end. Although the problem with comedy is it’s not only subjective, but also highly different culturally. I have no doubt the audiences in China are in stiches over these long comedy scenes. But there’s also sometimes wordplay that doesn’t translate so we’re not really getting all of the jokes either.

    One thing that was fun to see when Jackie came to America is he got into movies that actually had a semblance of a story and plot, and a villain that tied into things instead of being one of his random stunt guys given that role in the middle of shooting and then it’s supposed to matter that he’s the bad guy. But of course the trade off was the action, although I think they bridged things well in Rush Hour 2 which had some great stuff, and Shanghai Knights which felt like unfiltered Jackie but with American production and story values. But of his modern Chinese movies, which have halfway decent stories…Police Story 1 and 3, Miracles, I like the overall comedy and stuff in Dragons Forever, Rumble in the Bronx. A few others. Some of his old school stuff is tighter like Fearless Hyena or The Young Master. Buyt man you get into something like Mr. Nice Guy and it’s like what the hell, are they just making up and entire movie on the spot?

    Yeah Stern, Banshee picks up with the action in the second season, I know the security guard stuff is in the 2nd but the THIRD is where it really gets awesome because Chaton is introduced and that guy is a beast of a villain. Every action bit he’s involved in is classic. The third season is just on fire the whole time.

    Someone should do Aeon today with a budget and really go for the visuals. I’ve never finished the movie, it’s pretty awful. Would be interested to see the original cut but clearly that won’t happen.

  226. Am I going to be disappointed in season 4 because you never mention season four.

  227. Banshee S4 is hardly the Last Season Catastrophe GoT Season 8 was. It falters only because the bar has been set so high in S2 & S3 and the Lead’s off-set injury meant less of the awesome beatdowns the previous seasons spoilt you with. But it’s still a good watch and concludes the remaining arcs well enough for a solid send-off.

  228. “it’s like what the hell, are they just making up and entire movie on the spot?”

    My sentiments when watching at least 60% of Chan’s HK Oeuvre

  229. Season 4 isn’t a clusterfuck but it’s not great. Some people made it out to be epically bad and I thought they were overstating things. But…it’s not just the lack of beatdowns that’s the problem. It’s the fairly lame storyline though a good chunk of it, plus just less action overall. Like, okay Hood may not be able to do the fights, but does that mean NO ONE can be fighting? Carrie was always whipping ass. They didn’t really replace the non-action with a good story or even shootouts. And they make a super perplexing story choice right at the beginning that to me is fairly idiotic. It’s a huge drop in quality from 3, which is an amazing season. Enjoy that one while you can Stern. Cause it gets a little rough after that. But in the end I still liked it okay all things considered. But good thing they pulled the plug.

    Kay I’m not even sure if it was an OFF-set injury that was the problem. Was it? I know Starr talked about just feeling so worn down in general he couldn’t do the fights anymore, plus his many many injuries.

    Fun fact: in that second episode where he fights the security guards, they have that one insert shot where it goes into slow motion as his wrist gets smashed by one of the guards. That’s because his wrist really got screwed up and they used it for the show. Is that the injury you mean Kay? I kind of thought he got that working on the show too, but I don’t know for sure.

  230. MUH, I recall Anthony Starr talking it up in the behind the scenes features and how he didn’t really want to partake in too many fights in the later episodes owing to the sustained injuries he’d received. Not sure if it was ONE bad injury or a collection of successive ones.

  231. And it’s important to know that the last episode is one of the best of the entire series.

    When it comes to GoT, the last season is only disappointing to those who wanted Jon and Daenerys to get together and live happily ever after.

  232. Watched MILE 22 last night.

    What a waste of Iko Uwais and Rhonda Rousey. The action is overly edited. There’s no sense of geography. What happened to Peter Berg here? He knows better than this.

  233. My main problem with BANSHEE’s final season was another problem of the “golden age of television”. When the producers say “Yeah, we wanna end it on our own terms, so this will be the last season”, but when you watch it, it’s very obvious that they had stories for at least two or even more seasons, so lots of shit happens without the right buildup or payoff and everything feels rushed.

  234. Liam O’Donnel is still the only North American to use Iko Uwais correctly.

  235. I guess the other question I have is, how are the shows Strike Back and Warrior?

  236. Kay, I think it was the overall wear and tear. He said he was just so run down, I always thought it was a number of things.

    Pegs, I don’t entirely agree with your assessment of the final GOT season, although I didn’t hate it nearly as much as a lot of other people. Finishing off the zombie horde in one GIANT battle…works for me. People wanting a whole season of that are deluding themselves, how do you turn that into a season? They never stop or rest and just overrun places. It would just be a bunch of constant fleeing. BUT, I do think character motivations and stuff got really murky and it did feel rushed and half-assed. But then…

    CJ if you sort of mean GOT too, I know they did have a set number of episodes they planned to do from the very start, and they were on the money. They had basically plotted out the entire show from the beginning, which is kind of nuts.

    I don’t feel like Banshee was really shoving in a ton of planned story into the last season, I think they were trying to be more clever than they are. The guys who made it would always talk about doing unexpected things and not wanting to be formulaic…I mean okay, but then you also run the risk of doing really dumb, lame, or boring shit. Like I LOVE season three, but SPOILER FOR SHERN…

    The last two episodes are like what? They had this amazing plotline going on, but end it in the eighth episode to do this b-story heist and that;s the climax? What are they doing? I know they were really pleased with themselves with that one, but I thought you have a great villain, yeah we figure it’s going to end in the last episode, and maybe it should have. It’s not like that add-on was terrible, just seemed like they were being very try-hard.

  237. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 20th, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    I think with the 4th season of BANSHEE it was definitely Starr not wanting big fights anymore, combined with a much smaller budget? I haven’t checked that honestly, but that’s what it felt like. I disagree with CJ, to me it felt like they didn’t have a story at all. They knew how they wanted to end it but didn’t know how to fill up the eps to get there, so they made up some lame bullshit. So I was incredibly disappointed with the season as a whole, although I did appreciate the very end of it when we finally got there, which was a nice farewell to most characters that mattered. That’s the part they put some effort into.

    Sternshein, STRIKE BACK is fun, although it changes into different shows during its run. The first season, starring Richard Armitage (who really should have done more by now than playing a dumb dwarf and a Marvel assassin with 2 minutes of screen time, he seems like he could be badass) and a pre-WALKING DEAD Andrew Lincoln, is very serious. I don’t remember a lot, it was fine I think. Then with season 2, the main run of STRIKE BACK starts, which last a couple seasons. This is just fun, tongue in cheek action stuff with fun buddy banter throughout. It’s kind of empty, but pretty enjoyable. Lots of fun actors show up to play villains left and right, there’s main character deaths every two episodes, it’s kinda cool. Then after some seasons the cast changes again and I stopped watching because it turned to shite. It might even still be going today, no idea… never looked back.

    WARRIOR I tried but dropped out after 4 or 5 episodes. I’ve heard people say it’s good but it didn’t do anything for me. On paper it still sounds pretty good, but the execution couldn’t hold my attention.

  238. I was just reading stuff from the creator about season 4 and he claims lessened budget didn’t have anything to do with them having less action in 4. He thought they really shot their wad in the third and couldn’t top it, so he decided on the amazingly stupid decision to not have action. He said 4 was more how he originally envisioned the show, something moodier and darker without big action setpieces. Yeah buddy, great idea to change everything about your show at the very end. So I think that, along with Starr needing more time to not be fighting, led to it. I guess that also answers why he didn’t have anyone else do the action, he just didn’t want to and instead focus on lame storytelling instead.

    Here’s one interview:
    https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/banshee-season-4-jonathan-tropper-showrunner-interview/

  239. Stern, speaking for myself only, if you dig BANSHEE, you’d dig WARRIOR. It’s from the same creator, so you get that same heady combo of brutal fights and copious female nudity (God Bless You, gals!). Plus it’s Chinatown, San Francisco, late 19th century, triads, Irish immigrants and Chinese Boat People simmering under a seething hotbed of racial polarization, all of which provide legit reasons for it’s frequently under-estimated and put-upon Asian hero to break out his fists and feet of fury to restore some balance. Plus…..it’s got Joe Taslim!!!!!! Can’t wait for Season 2.

  240. I still find it really weird that the novelist of “This is Where I Leave You” also created Banshee and Warrior.

  241. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 20th, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Muh, that’s interesting about season 4. So it was a choice and not dictated by budget or desperation. Very strange…

    And KayKay, that’s what I mean, when you describe WARRIOR like that it sounds fucking awesome. Yet, I wasn’t captivated at all when I tried it. Maybe I should just give it another chance.

    By the way, have any of you seen INTO THE BADLANDS? I haven’t, but it seems like it could be pretty cool. Would you say it’s worth seeking out?

  242. WARRIOR is endeed awesome. It’s based on Bruce Lee’s ideas for the TV series KUNG FU, which he didn’t get to star in, in the early 70s. And the fights are super cool.

    As for STRIKE BACK, it sounds as if I’m a bit more of a fan than Gaul. It’s about the military section of British Intelligence, and the action is REALLY good. They made 76 episodes – 6 with Richard Armitage, 40 with Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton, and 30 with Warren Brown, Daniel McPhearson and Alin Sumarwata – and none of them are shite. The main attraction, besides actors who look like they are professional soldiers, really violent action and sex scenes that top anything BANSHEE provided, are the unusual feat of not being politically offensive to anyone. I admit the last four episodes aren’t as good as the rest (I won’t say spoil why), but that leaves you with 21 hours of excellent TV. The last episode aired 17. April this year.

  243. I recommend INTO THE BADLANDS too. Great story, cool action, and you get a good hero in Daniel Wu. And in addition you get Nick Frost as a funny martial arts performer.

  244. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 21st, 2020 at 1:00 am

    Thanks, I’ll give BADLANDS a go I think.

    As for STRIKE BACK, I admit “shite” is not the right word to use. I think me dropping the show came from not wanting to deal with the main cast changing, as I really liked Winchester and Stapleton, but even the last season with them hadn’t been as good as previous ones. Still fun, but it did start to feel like we’d seen it all before, so I guess I was already zoning out a bit. Then the cast change was an excuse to drop it completely.

  245. I prefer Winchester and Stapleton too. But in season 7 the show got their mojo back in full, and some of the episodes are as good as anything in season 2 and 3 were. I especially liked how Sumarwata grew into the part of badass Corporal Novin – while simultaneously pissing off the misogynists online.

  246. Sorry to step in with a tangent, but since the conversation is about series with good action – If any of you have the chance, please watch Gangs of London NOW. It’s basically a (pretty awesome) gangland crime saga with frequent (glorious!) interludes of gory, impresively choreographed and shot action. Gareth Evans is one of the show runners, and directs some episodes and all of the action sequences.
    It’s an HBO/Sky+ production, so not sure what availability is like wherever you are. Here in the UK it’s out on BluRay, which is how I’m watching it. I’m at the halfway mark so I can’t say it won’t drop the ball, but the first five episodes have the best action I’ve ever seen in a TV series. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the crime drama and the balls-out-action sensibilities, but aside from that I’ve got no complaints about it whatsoever.
    (and apologies if it’s already been discussed to death elsewhere)

  247. Please take the following rant as about 35% tongue in cheek.

    Just when I’ve decided to give BANSHEE a shot because of the universal praise it gets around here, all of a sudden it comes out that well, actually, literally a quarter of the series is total garbage that completely misses the mark and has none of the qualities everybody praised it for.

    Personally, I would mention it if a movie completely shit the bed in the last act. A bad half-hour would affect my recommendation of said movie. If a Scott Adkins kickfest ended with a lengthy discussion of ethics instead of an action scene, you best believe it would come up in the conversation. It’s taken as a given that TV will waste your time, though, so a show with a mere eight hours of disappointment following an investment of more than a full day of viewing is barely worth mentioning.

    Let me repeat: Eight. Hours. Of. Disappointment. That’s four shitty movies’ worth of viewing. And it’s a footnote to the discussion.

    “How was your weekend?”
    “Great! Best ever!”
    “Really? Didn’t you spend Sunday night in the emergency room?”
    “Well, yeah. But other than that…”

    Yeah, it’s safe to say that I just don’t get TV. I got the first disc coming from Netflix though so I guess I’ll still give it my customary two or three episodes before I decide to just watch JOHN WICK again.

  248. That’s silly. Season 4 is the shortest season, and even the people here saying they were disappointed with it compared to the other increasingly awesome seasons (and I would agree with them) acknowledge that the ending is satisfying and definitive and sends the show off well.

  249. As a side note, for those looking for more Richard Armitage in their lives, he’s playing Wolverine in these little podcast dramas Marvel is putting out. If you’re into podcasts at all I think they’re worth checking out. Good production values and his voice really suits the character. He absolutely should be a bigger screen star though, he was my favorite part of the otherwise-boring Hobbit movies. I should check out STRIKE BACK, I’ve heard about it a few times now.

  250. That is not the impression I got from the other comments, which had Muh, the show’s loudest advocate, using words like “lame,” “idiotic,” and “good thing they pulled the plug,” but I will keep that in mind. If I like it enough together through three seasons it’s not like I’m not gonna quit before the last season. A good show can usually overcome a bad season or two (I still love VERONICA MARS and that show now has as many shitty seasons as it does good ones) but it’s hard when the bad season is the last one.

  251. Also, like, no shade intended here M, but I legit do not understand how you can keep saying all this kinda thing about tv when the only show you admit to watching is AGENTS OF SHIELD, which I, a die-had Marvel fan since small times, found so boring i couldn’t even get through the second season. BANSHEE is at least better than that!

  252. It’s just the only show that’s still on from back when I used to watch TV. I nearly gave up on it several times and definitely would have if the last few seasons hadn’t picked up the pace. Eventually Helsinki Syndrome must have set in or something. If it came out now, there’s no way I would watch it, but it’s been grandfathered in so I still catch up on it when the episodes come to Netflix. I guess this last season was its last, though, so since the only other show I really enjoyed (DRUNK HISTORY) was also just cancelled, I guess that’s pretty much it for me and TV.

  253. Armitage is also spectacular in the last half-season of Hannibal. There’s a show that doesn’t waste its, or anybody else’s time! (if anything, that last season could have used like… 2 more hours of breathing room to really blossom. Still pretty unique though)

  254. Since it was mentioned: DRUNK HISTORY. Man, this might be the first time ever that I am actively cheering the cancellation of a show that I didn’t even watch. Nothing unfunnier than drunk people who mumble scripted bullshit while we watch hammy re-enactments of said bullshit. I guess you have to be drunk yourself to enjoy it.

  255. It was a delightful and informative show that moved me to tears with the unguarded sincerity of its subjects on multiple occasions. I never watched it drunk or even tipsy in my life.

  256. DRUNK HISTORY’s whole appeal is the hamminess of the re-enactments combined with the no-script ramblings. I certainly understand not liking the concept behind the show, that’s fine, but come on, someone claiming a balloon is named “The Fuckin’ Whatever” and then cutting to a re-enactment where there is a hot air balloon emblazoned “THE FUCKIN’ WHATEVER” is just good comedy.

    If nothing else, at least watch the LSD/dolphin sex episode, because the scene where Chris Parnell as Carl Sagan freaks out because the team he assembled to decipher dolphin speech has instead spent all their time doing LSD and giving dolphins hand-jobs is maybe the hardest I’ve laughed at a tv show in a decade.

  257. You can still listen to Matt Christman’s “The Inebriated Past” from the Chapo Trap House podcast. The one about DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans is very helpful in understanding the inability of our government to function (don’t worry, it’s not both-sidesism… the thesis is that the founders understood that the system would be torn apart if it ever became bifurcated into ideologically opposed factions).

  258. Sorry about the link, it’s easily googleable if anybody is interested.

  259. Well Mr. M., I was mostly talking about the quality of action and I talked about the characters, I think I said I liked the overall storyline a lot but that doesn’t mean they don’t take weird detours in that last I was so-so on.

    I don’t mind making fun of Tropper because I think he was little full of himself. BUT, I do think overall they brought the show in for a proper landing and to be honest, the last season in terms of action is not THAT different than the first. There’s a little less, but there’s still action and all of that, the first season has fights but I even outlined the big major fights earlier in this thread and there was only like 6. And several of those were a little smaller. But it seems like a comedown after the overall insanity and over the topness of the third season, to then come back down and go smaller again. But other people hated that last season more than I did, I still liked it. But yeah,best the pull the plug when they did, because you could feel like they didn’t quite have a handle on it. But you may like what they did, that I felt was weird…cause it’s stuff happening. I just thought it was a little too ridiculous and actually part of my complaint is they went a little too fast with some of the stuff. So like, where we were all bitching about the last season of GOT for rushing through shit, that would probably be your favorite season.

    But I’m also being a little over the top with the “lame” stuff, although some of it did feel a little lame. But unlike the other seasons I only watched the last one once, so I might like it more seeing it again (I usually would rewatch a season before starting the next since I watched them in real time when they came out). I wonder how it would have felt just streaming it all at once, it also may feel more cohesive. But when you know it’s the last season and you’re coming off the third, expectations are OFF THE CHART.

    NOW! I need to try Warrior again, I did see the first and it seemed okay but also not that interesting. But sometimes those shows need to grab you, so maybe when this next season comes out that’s when I’ll look at it.

  260. I just watched that DRUNK HISTORY Dolphin thing, and it’s hilarious. Chris Parnell is a national treasure.

  261. Sorry this turning into a Banshee thing but season 2, episode 5 was utterly fantastic.

  262. From the director of London is Falling of all people.

  263. We’re proud here in Norway about the fact that our Magnus Martens directed the episode with sickest fight in the entire series (03/03).

  264. Yeah Stern, I had to look that one up and that’s a good one…and interestingly, one of the lightest on incidents, it’s a slower paced one without much action in it.

    The NEXT one is one of my favorites, truly memorable.

  265. I’m really vested in these characters so I like episodes even if nothing happens action wise. The next episode is pretty timely and sad

    Julian Sands really has the worst Russian accent. And the action scene with Job at the begining of the next one makes me wish he got to do more action in the show.

  266. Oh yeah I don’t need a show to have constant action either. I mean I don’t consider something like Justified to be an action show but it’s easily my favorite. It’s all the characters and writing for me, and that Banshee you mentioned was strong. I love Job, he’s awesome.

    That truck fight is one of what I consider to be the great fights in the show. The setup is so well directed with th trucks on the highway and the angles they used to make it feel larger than life. And the finishing move…wow!

    The rest of that ep was sad but dumb characters doom themselves on that show. But you get the tragic poignancy of despair, and you get Hood fighting Knockoff Jason Statham on a highway littered with careening trucks. That’s Banshee all right!

  267. Andrew Howard has been a badass in BURN NOTICE, HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS, COPPER, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, BANSHEE, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., HELL ON WHEELS, THE OUTPOST, TAKEN 3, WATCHMEN and PERRY MASON, so it’s safe to say he has earned his stripes.

  268. The finale of season 2 was great. Sets up Chaydan as the big bad if season 3. Can’t wait to see how this all goes down

    Also, fuck skinheads Nazi fucks.

  269. Pegs I hadn’t seen any of those shows except Hatfields and I loved him in that…after seeing him in Banshee and loving him I looked him up because I thought he seemed familiar. Yhen I realized he was the baddest of the bad in Hatfields and I was like that’s it! He’s great.

    Stern you’re going to be seeing a whoooole lot more Nazis. And yeah, Chaton is indeed the villain for season 3 which is why it’s the best one. He’s a great antogonist, and the one guy who can actually take on Hood (who is inclined to do so) instead of being a mastermind with minions. I thought season 2 was great but thought they were being a little repeaty with the villains. So getting closure on that and moving on was good.

  270. For my money…

    Strike Back – The Scott/Stonebridge years are untouchable, but once they go Next Generation, it’s really obvious that you’re watching Scott 2.0 and Stonebridge 2.0 and the chemistry just isn’t there.

    Warrior – Largely good, although I find it unintentionally funny that the show’s central conflict is an evil politician making out that all of the Chinese characters are murderous criminals–and all the Chinese characters ARE murderous criminals.

    Into The Badlands – Decent, but does the Lost thing of spending a lot of time on mysterious mysteries that they never bother to explain. Also, sometimes the show’s overall silliness doesn’t seem to mesh with the graphic violence and it feels like you’re watching the Adam West Batman punch people’s heads off.

    Banshee – Everyone’s right, the final season is a disappointment compared to the show at its height, but it’s still enjoyable as an epilogue that sends everyone off into the sunset. I don’t think there’s anything comparable to the sense of betrayal people had with GOT or HIMYM. Just the old “not reaching full potential” on the report card.

  271. I feel I can’t stress this enough: the 7th season of STRIKE BACK – with the Next Generation – is so good it rivals anything Scott and Stonebridge did.

  272. I started season 3 and I have a feeling for many the storyline probably plays different in 2020.

  273. It probably does…I haven’t watched the show in some time.

  274. I suspect a lot more young white people watching would be on Chadin side.

  275. Actually I’m all for Chayton taking over Banshee.

  276. There is a siege episode and this is now my favorite show ever.

  277. Stern, why would anybody be on Chayton’s side? The man is a hulking, vicious sociopath justifying his violent acts by cloaking it in some self-righteous moral indignation for injustices past. This MoFo wants to hurt people. Period. And any vestige of sympathy I may have had for him was obliterated by one heinous act he perpetrates on a character I liked.

    Fuck him.

    And the fact the character evokes such a reaction in me is why Geno Segers deserves whatever praise he got for his work in this show. And that VOICE! You can sprout chest hairs just listening to it.

  278. Majestyk, I think we may have just psyched you out on Banshee.

    Tell you what. Ignore the hard-sell from some of us blowhards (ok, THIS blowhard) and just try out the 1st season and see if you dig it. And you know what? Banshee is a show you can actually check out of anytime. It’s not like Hood and the residents crash landed on a mysterious island and you need to invest 6 whole seasons to figure out the what and why.

    About the only over-arching thread stretching across 4 season is Hood’s conflict with Kai Proctor and it doesn’t take Inception-levels of deep diving to figure out how that’s gonna play out. Although once you hit the Chayton thread, you’re gonna want to ride that express all the way to the terminus. Especially in the earlier seasons there were a few stand alone episodes basically to set up what a Take-No-Shit Bad Ass Hood is. I liked one involving some ass-hole bikers and also recall one episode with a morbidly obese Crime Lord running his empire out of a moving 18-wheeler which I wished had a few more episodes but concludes in 1.

  279. It still makes me chuckle a little that by this point Geno Segers was best known for a Disney Channel sitcom, before he scared actionfans everywhere with his presence in BANSHEE. That’s a bit like a reverse Ken Foree, who we all know as badass horror icon, yet a whole generation remembers him as the dad from KENAN & KEL.

  280. To be fair he seemed pretty badass in episode one. The military isn’t the most sympathetic group. But you now know I saw the Assault on Pricinct 13 episode so that should tell you how I feel about him now. :(

  281. Ya see, Stern? We told ya!

  282. By the way, what did you think about the fight between Burton and the Indian assassin lady? Isn’t that a helluva fight? I’ve noticed ever since that, a number of things have taken the ideas from it (like doing a seemingly uncut long shot but switching out stuntpeople and the actors in hidden cuts. Atomic Blonde did it like that.

  283. Wasn’t Children of Men the first to do a camera in and out of a car? Anyway, it was a great fight because they built him up for two seasons and this was his first extended fight. However, the finishing move was a bit over the top and , quite frankly, felt very icky doing it to a woman. The show really didn’t do much with her because she seems like a badass but never did much until the end.

  284. It’s not the camera going in and out of a car, which was also done before Children of Men, it was doing a fight scene in and out, then over the car as you see where the axe is hotting, around to the side to see a head get shoved through a window, and then back in for fighting. I mean I don’t really care what does something first, just who does something awesome.

    I feel like they had more plans for her and were really setting her up for stuff late, but she was a show to show player and got a lead in another show so they had to bump her off.

    Was the ending ickier doing it to a woman? Eh, maybe but this is where things in production get annoying. Like let’s say (and this is a real example) I have two main characters, one is white and one is black, and I like the black actress as the villain…THEN you get dinged because all the culture people say why make the black person the bad guy? But that was the part she WANTED, she just wants to play interesting characters and no one gives her villain roles ever because of her looks. You know…not like I WOULD, but some people would say eh just cast two white women instead, save the hassle. Or I guess two black women. But they’re also BOTH criminals so then it’s why cast two criminals? It’s like no one can watch anything without politics absolutely being on the front of their mind now. And I do get it, things have been fucked up for a long time and now people have to think about it.

  285. The last thing I’ll say is that Rebecca Bowman is the worst character in the show.

  286. Hmmm…I’m not sure sure THAT’S true. Out of that entire crew of sleazebags? Proctor had a guy killed just so he could get to have weird feelings all to himself about his own family member. Plus all the other shit!

    Plus there’s Nazis.

  287. No, I mean her character sucks and brings the show down whenever she is on screen.

  288. Ah. I didn’t think she was that bad…but yeah in the middle of all the other interesting characters she didn’t have a lot to really do and wasn’t really interesting in her own right. I thought she was…okay.

  289. i firmly believe that for there to be TRUE gender equality on screen, then female deaths especially villainous female deaths need to be seen in the same pristine high definition close-ups frequently accorded to their male counterparts. In this aspect, I think the Horror genre levels the playing field far more frequently than the Action one.

    One of the things which pissed me off about the otherwise okay-ish BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE was it’s climax where a girl, who’s firmly been established as deranged and murderous, plunges a knife into the abdomen of a sympathetic male character which is shot in close-up so you see the blade twisting in his guts, then someone else shoots Psycho Girl but she falls off camera. Some pretty skewed values and politics at work there.

    Which is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD for all the flak it gets. To see Bruce Willis pummel Maggie Q with the same ferocity he did Alexander Godunov and William Sadler is to witness some true egalitarianism at play.

  290. “In this aspect, I think the Horror genre levels the playing field far more frequently than the Action one. ”

    But even here it’s interesting that, despite its reputation as being the overly misogynist* genre, usually more men then women die in horror movies, according to those kill count videos, that I keep recently watching.

    *I know, there are more factors to that than “They kill female characters”.

  291. I’m just saying the scene elicited an emotional response from me and I don’t think it might have it it were just like a regular stab.

  292. Was season four a situation where they dragged their feet on renewing it to where actors got other gigs so they had to write them out of the show? I’m really disappointed in certain developments.

  293. Are you referring to some murders, perhaps? No I don’t think that’s the case, they were just trying to be a little too cute with the style of the show and they ain’t that cute. Some characters still have more to do than you might think.

    But yeah, season 4 is where they started to get arrogant.

  294. Mostly referring to Rebecca Bowman.

    Looking forward to the whole season though. I saw a trailer and one chase/fight looks like it could be a good one.

  295. So I finally pulled the trigger and watched the first two episodes of BANSHEE. The action was mostly shakycam mush (That foot chase after the rave was literally nauseating) but that’s okay. I liked the main character and I really liked the setup. I love stories set in contained systems, and Banshee’s bought-and-paid-for township certainly qualifies. It’s definitely a TV show, though. From the framing to the pacing to the sound design, there’s no mistaking this for a feature film. Too many fucking flashbacks, for one. Plus, in just those two episodes, there were at least three completely pointless sex scenes I had to fast-forward through. I fucking HATE sex scenes. They make me cringe. I think I’ve seen maybe three, like, ever that actually did something for the story or characters that couldn’t have been accomplished by a time-saving fade to black or an insert shot of a train entering a tunnel. These scenes were just an excuse to show attractive actresses naked and I don’t need to waste my time on that bullshit when I’m trying to enjoy a story. I’m not a 12-year-old boy scrounging for woods porn. I can gawk at boobs on my own time, thanks. I can already tell this is going to be part of the formula so I’ll just have to keep my fast-forwarding thumb ready if I choose to continue. Which I probably will, but I’ll admit to feeling some blue balls at the conclusion of those two episodes. It was a movie’s worth of viewing but not a movie’s worth of accomplishment or catharsis. I know TV works the long game but I gotta say I prefer the sense of achievement that comes from watching a complete story in one sitting. But I more or less enjoyed myself. Thanks to everybody who kept plugging for it even as I dragged my feet.

  296. Oh, and I can verify that there were STRIKE BACK banners all the fuck over Manhattan when the BANSHEE pilot would have been shot, so that winky bit of in-house product placement during the extremely CGI bus crash was actually pretty accurate.

  297. I wish Banshee would have been able to hold onto David Harbour a little longer. Feels like they were setting himself up to be the big bad of season four but Stranger Things happened.

  298. Vince, the sex scenes in BANSHEE and STRIKE BACK are the reason my better half hates both shows. But they disappear after a few seasons.

  299. It’s funny though, you tend to have to justify sex scenes as “being important to the story” or everyone gets on you, but no one feels like the need to justify, say, long fight scenes. I mean why have a five minute kung fu fight in a modern movie when someone could just shoot the other guy? Cause why not I guess.

  300. Probably because dozens of long action scenes will turn something into an action movie, but dozens of long sex scenes will turn something into a (soft) porno.

  301. Well, Banshee WAS on Skinemax.

    I mean I don’t really care about sex scenes all that much either, but it is sort of funny because I just hear it all the time, you can have tons of violence and no one asks anything but even one sex scene can have all this handwringing about how does it develop the characters and is it needed to the story and this and that. Not dozens of sex scenes, just one.

  302. CJ, not if it’s an European production. Something like BABYLON BERLIN would probably still be considered as artsy.

  303. A preponderance of premium cable shows start off *heavy* on sex scenes and nudity and then tone it down as the show goes on. That’s true of Banshee and Strike Back and Spartacus and even Game of Thrones. I think that’s partly because creators start shows wanting to be provocative and then lose interest in provoking in that way, and partly because the actresses grow wary of it and have stronger bargaining positions in later seasons.

    (The only exception I can think of, and I don’t know why it’s the exception, would be the Showtime show ‘Weeds.’ The sex scenes in that show, at least the ones involving lead actress Mary Louise Parker, start off pretty tame but get increasingly explicit.)

  304. Have no issues per se with sex scenes, and evaluate them with the same rigor I do fight scenes. If the bodies are hard, well trained and execute the choreography with precision, a sex scene can be as satisfying as a good mano-e-mano beatdown, both after all heading towards a climactic explosion, one of pain, the other of pleasure. And as far as diversions between action scenes or important plot developments go, gimme nubile bodies grinding away to some forced segue into comedy or pointless tattle which don’t further the narrative one iota.

    Ditto for nudity. Which is why I miss the ’80s, when action movies, especially cop ones, found a way to slot in that one scene where the hero needs to meet a snitch, unwind with his newly assigned partner or start a fight and the location is always a strip club. Cue Buddy Bonding, reveal of critical plot development and free-for-all bar fight amidst copious eye-candy T&A shots.

    God, I miss them!

  305. I just think they’re boring. I’m not gonna get horny watching this two-minute soft-focus grinding session, and why would I want to when I’m just going to go back to the plot in a minute anyway? What is the goal here? Who are these scenes for? Is this an evangelical thing? They’re morally opposed to porn so they have to steal their jollies old school Skinemax style?

    I also feel bad for the actresses. These scenes appear with such clockwork efficiency that they have to be a network mandate. These shows are being greenlit and sold off the flesh of actresses who are often not even main characters and thus not reaping any of the benefits of the show’s success. They’re just the special guest tits. I know this is something that’s been going on in movies for decades but I’d hoped we’d moved past it.

  306. Some actresses just don’t really care though. I can go to Modelmayhem and find hundreds of nude models just in my immediate area, some people are just fine with it. I mean action movies are also sold on the backs of stunt people who are wrecking their bodies for our entertainment.

  307. There was a period of time where I swear every Netflix show, no matter if it made sense or not, were contraxtually obligated to have a sex scene in the pilot.

  308. I like a good sex scene. It doesn’t have to be graphic. I like seeing characters bonding that way, especially if the actors have good chemistry.

  309. I do think it’s kind of bananas that, at least in American culture, a sex scene, depicting an activity most of us will engage in at some point in our lives, is so much more scandalous than any given (and much more commonly depicted) scene of extreme violence, the likes of which most folks will, hopefully, never encounter.

    Maj- I often think about the idea of “why is this happening in re: sex scene” in the genre of horror, particularly in slashers of a certain vintage. A lot of ink has been spilled over the years about the effect of linking sex and violence, particularly violence against women, in movies like that, but I feel like it comes down more to a desire on the part of the filmmakers to add a certain additional amount of transgressiveness to an already disreputable and transgressive genre. Especially in the ’80s, when the culture at large (the American monoculture, if you will) was much more conservative than it became in the ’90s and 2000s. In some ways I feel like the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way, and I wonder what effect that will have on the sleazy horror movies of the next decade or so.

    KayKay also brings up an interesting point above that a *good* sex scene can be as blood-pumping and exciting as a good action scene (and of course, vice versa, a *bad* sex scene can be just as awkward and embarrassing as a bad fight scene). I think this is true, and I also wonder whether the rise of the role of “intimacy coordinators” on sets will end up resulting in an increase in quality of sex scenes, just as the increasing prominence of second unit and stunt coordinators has raised the bar on action/fight scenes over the years.

  310. Kurgan I don’t even know if it was them trying to be transgressive, as much as really just adding a selling point…nudity in horror has gone way down now that you can easily get nudity everywhere, but back in the day if you were a teenager and wanted to see some boobs…well, why not have some right along with the gory horror movie?

    It IS weird that there was that point where EVERY movie had to have a sex scene. I mean you’re watching a regular comedy, and right in the middle has to be the Skinemax love scene. Action movie, same thing. Probably at least two in a junk horror. Oh goody, there’s Jean Claude’s ass again, backlit in blue, which movie is this again?

  311. A little while ago Vern retweeted a Sandahl Bergman appreciation tweet and I remembered seeing her in a making of doc for the movie about Bob Fosse ALL THAT JAZZ. There’s a fantasy scene where the dancers are nude. She wasn’t sure she wanted to do it but ultimately decided that she was young, in fantastic shape, and she trusted their vision so if she was ever going to do it, it might as well be then. It made me wish I hadn’t been so uptight when I was younger.

  312. The serial killer plot of season four sucks really bad.

  313. YUP.

    I really don’t know what they were thinking. Except for the idea of not being cliche and trying to do different things, but sometimes you can be TOO different, especially in an already established universe.

  314. The rest of the season plots are good but feel s little rushed. I want one more season.

  315. I assume you’re not done? I know exactly how they could have used the same number of episodes and not feel rushed. I don’t quiiite recall it feeling rushed, but that might be because they were burning through the stuff I didn’t like. If I recall, it does slow a bit.

  316. “I do think it’s kind of bananas that, at least in American culture, a sex scene, depicting an activity most of us will engage in at some point in our lives, is so much more scandalous than any given (and much more commonly depicted) scene of extreme violence, the likes of which most folks will, hopefully, never encounter.”

    The Kurgan, replace “American” with “Asian” and that statement would be no less true. Up until the mid-90s, Indian movies didn’t even show lip-to-lip kisses between couples! Sex on screen was policed with missionary zeal and transgressions, especially among the female characters i.e sex outside of marriage was punished in one form or another (censure, embarrassment, humiliation etc),the type of Puritanical Morality which I saw replicated in those early 80s slashers where The Slut was picked off first and the NICE girl survives, or at least survives long enough to be the FINAL victim.

    Which is why Western (as in Western Hemisphere, not Cowboy) movies, for me, held the lascivious anticipation of some honest to goodness sex spicing up the action and horror.

    It’s watching The Terminator for the 1st time and completely not anticipating a Linda Hamilton/Michael Biehn sex scene being slotted into a tense, thrilling and amazing action movie

    It’s watching 48 hours and being delighted at a shot of a fit hooker walking across a room starkers.(On that note, love the way Walter Hill sprinkles nudity into his movies. It’s so casual, so European)

    It’s watching Conan The Barbarian and delighting in Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman taking some much needed R&R from the hacking and slashing to make the Beast With 2 Backs

    It’s being bored out of your skull watching Highlander 3 and just as you’e dozing off, there’s a superbly choreographed and fairly lengthy sex scene between Chris Lambert and Deborah Kara Unger to snap you awake.

    Oh..and while we’re still in The Old Guard comments space, in the graphic novel, Theron’s character frequently engages in random sexual encounters to alleviate the tedium of immortality, which has predictably not made it to the film.

    How annoyingly sterilized have action movies become, sexually!

  317. I am now done. Very good finale. I still think they had another season in them but I’m satisfied. Glad I decided to watch so thanks for the nudge muh!

  318. Sex scenes in action/suspense shows/movies are pointless. If they wanted to aknowledge the fact that we all get naked at least a couple of times during the day, and that people have sex once in a while, we would have full frontal Charles Dance or Morgan Freeman on a weekly basis. But they way the scenes are shot and focused are all too Weinsteiny for me.

  319. pegs, that’s the whole idea. It’s the illusion of seeing 2 attractive specimens going at it and enjoying it that’s the attraction (for some viewers. I understand if others have no use for it). Most of us don’t look good having sex on camera. Watching peak Baldwin and Bassinger humping in The Getaway provides a guilty and voyeuristic pleasure, especially since they were married at that time. Seeing Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman get it on, not so much.

    You might as well question the logic of comedic interludes in action movies. I mean, in Lethal Weapon 4, when the movie stopped stone cold dead for some Chris Rock and Joe Pesci patter, I was wishing for Riggs to bang Lorna again.

  320. I get what the idea is. But the way they usually do it it looks like it’s done mostly for the director’s pleasure. It can be done as a natural part of the narrative, but most movies and shows fail miserably.
    I don’t need it. On the other hand, De Vito and Perlman…

  321. I don’t really care one way about nudity. I won’t complain about seeing hot actresses take their clothes off but am not bothered about it and generally would prefer not to waste my time on sex scenes. Except for one scene that is seared into my brain and KayKay beat me to it. THE GETAWAY gets my vote for best sex scene ever. Of course, I was like 14 at the time and haven’t seen it since so I might be way off. You know what I hate way more than sex scenes though? Long-ass close-up kissing scenes make me want to barf. I also don’t care for actual barf scenes and am constantly amazed at how many of them exist.

    Majestyk – if you’re looking for accomplishment and catharsis on a weekly basis, I recommend SPARTACUS. Definitely keep your finger on the FF button though.

  322. Stern, glad you liked it. I remember getting into arguments about the Rebecca plot thread…I was like do you really think what you’re seeing is all there is? I knew exactly where that was going.

    So I would have cut all of the serial killer stuff and just had done the plotline real time and get rid of the supposedly clever tricky shit.

    But I do like overall how the show ended, it was very satisfying. They had the wrong fight as the elaborate last one though, that was kind of weird. We’d been building to the GIANT showdown for four seasons, we knew it had to be coming…and then suddenly the unstoppable bad guy realizes his one weakness is being punched in the face? That was seriously lame.

  323. I kinda figured as soon as that character showed up that her entire arc would be a drag. I guess I’ll just start fast-forwarding whenever she shows up.

  324. I didn’t mind her arc. They just tried to be clever with it instead of mining the actual drama. Where it led to would have been pretty great if played straight.

  325. You are right about how it played out. For the record, it’s headbutts that won the day. Though Anthony Starr had to have been hurting bad not to give us a better fight

  326. So the second disc of BANSHEE finally showed up. I think I might be in trouble here. The third episode was almost a total waste of time until the fight with the MMA asshole, which was satisfying even if the show is rapidly becoming POLICE BRUTALITY AND WHY IT ALWAYS WORKS. The fourth episode started okay (well, except for like the fifth gross, pointless sex scene between the love interest and her milquetoast husband) but then I had a real hard time maintaining interest for the rest of the episode. I’m still interested in the central premise of the show but I’m concerned about the early proliferation of subplots. They rob the individual episodes of all propulsion. I know this is standard operating procedure for TV but that’s why I so rarely watch TV. I want every episode to have a beginning, middle, and end (you know, like a story), not just a sequence of middles. If the last episode on the disc doesn’t grab me, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to throw in the towel.

  327. BANSHEE was produced by Alan Ball, who I think had just stepped down as show-runner of HBO’s TRUE BLOOD, a show that became as entirely pointless as it’s pointless sex scenes. I only saw a few episodes but I felt like they wanted to make it a cross between the “sexiness” of that show and something more like JUSTIFIED. It proved to be neither to me.

    I don’t really care for sex scenes in the middle of movies that aren’t essentially about sexuality or relationships, but just thrown in for whatever reason. The other kind I’m talking about, stuff like SECRETARY or CRASH (basically the high points of Spader’s post-Brat Pack, pre-BOSTON LEGAL era) that unify the themes of sex and love between adults to more unconventional places.

  328. I didn’t know that but that definitely tracks. All the parts with Job reminded me an awful lot of that awesome scene on TRUE BLOOD with Lafayette where he takes off his earrings and fucks up those rednecks who insulted his cooking (best scene and best character on that show by a country mile).

    I watched the first few seasons of TRUE BLOOD back in the day, and it was fun until it wasn’t. It wasn’t the rampant sex scenes that got to me. If you’re gonna watch a vampire show, you’re gonna have to deal with some sex scenes. No, the problem was Tara. Fucking Tara. Good good. Worst fucking character in the history of television. Her entire job for the entire series was just to be a mindless, petulant obstacle to every single fucking plot line. Every scene she was in ended with her storming out of the room over some bullshit misunderstanding, thus allowing the fucking tediousness to get stretched out for another episode and another episode and another episode. Just horrible, manipulative writing. I stopped watching after the episode where SPOILER she gets her fucking skull splattered all over the wall, because 1. I knew the show wasn’t getting any better than that, and 2. I also knew the show would find a way to bring her back as a ghost or a vampire or some fucking thing and I preferred to remember her as a corpse. I hear Anna Paquin turned into a fairy or some shit in the next season and started fucking, like, ALL the vampires so I think I probably got out at the right time.

    None of this bodes well for me getting disc 3 of BANSHEE.

  329. Rutina Wesley, who played the dreaded Tara, redeemed herself quite a bit in the third season of HANNIBAL playing the Joan Allen/Emily Watson character from MANHUNTER/RED DRAGON. I watched TB up through it’s 6th season, where I finally just gave up caring. Same thing with DEXTER too, where the hate-watching just became boring. They both had real promise starting out, but it was squandered and became genre drivel. The problem with DEXTER is that he should have been the only serial killer on the show besides his brother and later the Trinity (played masterfully by John Lithgow). And TB suffered for introducing fairies, werewolves and finally the undead, when it should have stuck to just having vamps.

  330. The problem with DEXTER (which I definitely watched ironically for the last few seasons) was that the showrunners had no balls whatsoever. There was MASSIVE story potential in Dexter being outed and having to face down all of his friends and colleagues at Miami Metro, but they were too fucking chickenshit to mess with the status quo of their cash cow, so they employed deus ex machina after deus ex machina to let him wiggle off the hook every time. All that did was make his supporting cast look like the stupidest fucking pack of drooling assholes in the history of the universe. By the last season, I hated all of them and cheered on their pain. That’s why my favorite moment of the show was in the very last episode, after Dexter gets away with murdering a guy ON TAPE right in the interrogation room. Just as they’re letting him go (because of course they him go), Batista gets this absolutely priceless look on his face, like he’s FINALLY starting to put the pieces together here about his good buddy Dexter who sure seems to have a lot of people senselessly butchered in his immediate vicinity. It’s the face of a man who realizes that no one has ever sucked worse at any job than he sucks at his job. My head canon is that he went home that night and ate his service revolver. Honestly, that little moment of glorious spite is why I never hated the much-despised series finale. As long as Batista is miserable, Dexter can go lumberjack all he wants.

  331. For all of the show’s faults, I never thought Michael C. Hall was one of them. To me he always managed to keep the character interesting, no matter the ridiculous things going around him. That gets lost amidst the show’s bad reputation, which has sadly hurt him in the long run. It’s amazing to consider that he went from his character on SIX FEET UNDER to someone as opposite to that as Dexter was. I still remember being blown away by how different he looked when I saw the first footage Showtime released.

  332. Based on what I know about you, I would stop watching Banshee. I don’t think you will ever fully like it and you probably don’t need to waste your time.

  333. I bailed on DEXTER after a few seasons, but TRUE BLOOD was awesome right to the end. The wilder the better! BANSHEE season 4 is too good not to recommend.

  334. Echoing Sternshein..

    Majestyk, if your takeway from BANSHEE thus far is the show’s tacit approval of police brutality coupled with your reactions to the sex scenes,then nothing else coming down the pipeline is going to wow you. I’d cancel the order on the next batch of discs if I were you.

    Different strokes, different folks is all……

    I’m just pleased as a pig in mud that the comments section of a lame-ass Theron Netflix movie segued into a spirited discussion of one of my all time favorite shows!

  335. I wonder if the different takes on these shows has something to do with the way they’re watched. I watched BANSHEE, JUSTIFIED and TRUE BLOOD one episode a week, because that’s how they were released. Binge watching have to make the experience different?

  336. I’ve only watched them two at a time, in order to simulate watching a movie. I can’t blame my boredom on binge-watching, since the third episode lost my interest immediately. I find that is common with third episodes. Shows are still trying to be cinematic and bold and hook viewers in the first two episodes, and they’re willing to spend the money to do so. I find that by the third they mellow out and take the form that the show will maintain going forward. Not coincidentally, it’s also when they start dealing with all the plotty business of maneuvering characters around for the eventual season finale, and that’s when I tune out. Shows I’ve dumped after Episode 3 after enjoying the prior two episodes include: HANNIBAL, MAD MEN, LEGION, probably others I’m forgetting. Episode 3 seems to be the make or break moment for me. If that one bores me, I’m done.

  337. Also, Kay, the show’s approval of police brutality is not tacit. It is literally saying that cops would be way more effective if they were only allowed to be viciously, sadistically violent. Every time he violates someone’s rights or beats the shit out of a suspect without due process, we are expected to be thinking “Hell yeah! That’s how it’s done!” We are definitely not supposed to be on the side of pussy deputy who wants to do things by the book. This does not offend me, because that is par for the course for this kind of macho pulp, and I’m sure somewhere in this show’s thirtysomething hours of running time it will find some way to wring its hands over this issue while still finding excuses for its hero to be morally justified in doing the exact shit Americans are currently amassing in the thousands to protest on a daily basis. I am not criticizing the show for this, because clearly it is working on action movie logic, not real world logic. But “Theres nothing cooler than a violent cop with no moral or legal restraints” is definitely what the show is about, even if it puts air quotes around it. It is worth mentioning, I feel.

  338. I don’t know, I was on the side of the pussy cops. And they do end up paying prices for the shit they do too. I mean not all the way, but things go bad for some of them and it comes from their other activities.

    Ha ha, knew this would fail though.

  339. I was hopeful for a second there. I truly want to believe that I have not become totally immune to the charms of the hour-long television drama, a format that has given me much entertainment in the past, but recent experience is telling me otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with BANSHEE. It’s just a TV show, doing what a TV show does. I’m just not into that anymore.

    I bet I’d like it a lot more at a half-hour. I’ve had better luck with that format in the past few years.

  340. More dramas should try the half-hour. KIDDING on Showtime utilized it very well. I hope Netflix is keeping COBRA KAI at 30 minutes or less. One solid hour can be a challenge. It’s why AMC’s shows work well at binging. I think the longest episode of HALT AND CATCH FIRE was 55 minutes, where most of them were around 42 minutes (some even shorter).

  341. Mr M, if you can’t enjoy Cobra Kai then definitely give up on tv forever lol

  342. Mr M, it’s been a while since I saw BANSHEE, but I think they hammered in pretty well that Brock was the only sane man in town. Even if history has proven that an uncomfortable amount of cops are like Hood.

  343. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 14th, 2020 at 12:22 am

    Antony Starr though… that guy is GREAT. As good as he was at playing the likeable badass on BANSHEE, he might be even better on THE BOYS as a villain. Anyone else watching season 2 right now? Dude just straight up makes me uncomfortable whenever he’s on screen, he’s fucking terrifying (in a good way) yet still also manages to be funny quite often.

  344. I agree. Even the term super villain doesn’t cover just how bad this guy is.

  345. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 14th, 2020 at 4:27 am

    Yeah, it’s funny – I just watched an interview with Starr where he mentions that everybody always tells him that Homelander is terrifying, but he doesn’t agree because it’s such a pathetic, goofy character. I think that’s exactly what makes him so scary. He’s like a mentally unstable, sociopathic little kid in a grown man’s body, but he’s got superpowers and is pretty much invulnerable. Any time you piss him off, even through no fault of your own, there’s a very real chance you’re gonna get killed or hurt horribly. It reminds me a little bit of the TWILIGHT ZONE movie, the segment where the little kid is terrorizing his family and all they can do is suck up and try to please him, or risk the consequences.

  346. Maj, I read it more as Hood acts this way because he is OUTSIDE traditional Law Enforcement and hence couldn’t give a toss about Due Process, but as others have stated, the rest of his deputies, Brock in particular, frequently call him out on it.

    But I also acknowledge, watching it via a prism of acute self-awareness of the current socio-political climate leads to a pretty deep and thorny rabbit hole. If you were inclined to, there’s a shit ton to unpack if you stop and ponder that the douchebag MMA fighter is black, scores with a white waitress, starts to get aggressive in bed, is rebuffed and promptly retaliates by raping and beating her bloody. He is then beaten to a pulp by the white pseudo-sheriff.

    And what to make of events a season or 2 later (can’t recall) where the white wife of a black deputy is assaulted by redneck racists, who are then arrested. The deputy then gets into a cell with the leader and proceeds to dish out some punishment of his own.

    Sometimes, it’s easier to sit back and just anticipate the next awesome beatdown or nubile hottie taking her top off.

  347. Gaul, I’m tempted to watch The Boys, but kinda burned on Preacher. I just loved Ennis’ Graphic Novel, but found the show super disappointing. As someone who devoured the full run of Ennis’s The Boys across 3 sleepless nights and was equal parts thrilled,appalled,amused,grossed out and just flat out entertained I’m just wary of a neutered adaptation. There’s a chapter featuring a Superhero “conference” which you wouldn’t want to be caught reading on a crowded subway, featuring scenes of orgiastic excess that would make Caligula envious. How would they even film that without a shitload of porn body doubles?

    I mean, I’m not exactly craving for an exact page to screen replication of a scene where a guy goes down on his girlfriend, only to get the first squirt of her menstrual cycle on his face or a hooker inspecting her ruptured vagina (because what did you think was gonna happen when you get gang banged by super powered beings) but equally am against a watered down Ennis vision.

  348. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 14th, 2020 at 6:08 am

    KayKay – I’ve actually only just started reading the comics after enjoying the show, and they definitely seem to be two different beasts. When it comes to violence and sex it has definitely been watered down a little bit, especially where the latter is concerned. There still is plenty of violence and gore, but the comic really is quite extreme, so the show doesn’t reach those insane levels (and I’m speaking purely on what happens in the first collection of isses, which is all I’ve read so far). There also seem to be plenty deviations in the story, some quite major, so if you’re against anything other than a 100% true adaptation, maybe this isn’t for you.

    If you can accept the differences the show is great in its own right though. Don’t think this is gonna be like PREACHER – I can’t vouch for how good of an adaptation that was because I never read those comics, but the show was boring as hell and wasn’t worth the effort of getting to the small handful of cool moments sprinkled throughout. THE BOYS is much, much, MUCH better.

  349. I can tolerate a great deal, but when someone starts to diss PREACHER, I have to write their name down in my little black book.

  350. Thanks for the clarification Gaul, I guess I will check it out. It would be interesting to see Starr as a heel after 4 seasons of watching him as Banshee’s Dark Knight, the Sheriff they don’t need but deserve. And Karl Urban is always worth a watch

    pegs…hahahaha….ONLY the show which honestly did NOTHING for me. I surely can’t be in the minority, as PREACHER the show got nowhere near the acclaim and love THE BOYS is getting.

  351. My book is full of names.

  352. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 14th, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Haha, to each his own! While I will admit there were some very cool moments in that show, for me they were too few and far between. It’s not a bad show, I stuck with it for two whole seasons but in the end it just didn’t seem worth my time to go any further with it.

  353. You probably won’t believe me now, but season 3 and 4 are better than the first two. They actually managed to completely change the look and set up in each season. And what that show did for religious satire..! And the action and violence got better as they moved along.

  354. I love the comics, and I’ve seen the first two seasons of the PREACHER tv show, and boy, they suuuuuuuuuuuucked. Some inspired moments (the fight with the constantly-reviving angels in season 1, the fight with the torturer in season 2) but mostly bad and boring.

  355. I never read the PREACHER comics, but I really liked season 1! Then the first episode in season 2 pissed me off so badly, I instantly stopped watching. The ultraviolence felt out of place and more there for childish shock, there was a scene of a shoot out, that suddenly turned into some bad filmstock as if they wanted to say: “Look kids, it’s like that Tarantino stuff you like!” and the whole story fell apart so badly within that one hour and it became exactly the kind of crap that I associate with the Rogen/Goldberg douchebag factory, my TV was yelling at me “FUCK THAT BULLSHIT! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!!”

    Not interested in THE BOYS. While I am still able to enjoy “real” superhero stories, the whole “Oh, our modern gods are actually evil fuckups or something like that” became such an annoying cliche, before it even was overdone. Also I’m surprised that it got a 3rd season, since it’s an Amazon show. Normally they get cancelled when season 2 is in production, unless they somehow manage to hit awards gold. (I wish I could bring myself to watch MRS MAISEL. It has Tony Shaloub, is from the creator of GILMORE GIRLS, but I still need to find the “Hey, you will like it!” spark.)

  356. You are of course all wrong about PREACHER. But I can live with that. It’s your loss.

  357. CJ: What you’re describing is probably what the show should have been from the start if it wanted to capture the comic, which is awesome and multi-layered, but one of those layers is absolutely “Holy shit, look at this fucking crazy fucked up shit they’re letting us get away with can you believe it!” As I recall, a guy gets his jaw blown off in loving detail for no good reason on like page 2 of the first issue. There’s a comic relief character named Arseface, so-named because he ate a shotgun blast and it didn’t take. The main(ish) villain spends the last third of the storyline pissing in a bag because he got his dick chopped off. It was always “that Tarantino stuff you like.” They just fooled you for a season.

    THE BOYS (comic) was fun for a while but like 90% of ongoing comics I quickly lost track of what the fuck was going on and so very little of the nonstop nastiness had much weight. You knew it was always going to do the most nasty, cynical thing possible in every possible circumstance, which gets kind of monotonous. You need some rays of light every now and then for the darkness to stand out. There is one legitimately horrifying issue concerning a fledgling superheroine’s, um, initiation that really stuck with me, though. I wonder if that’s in the show.

  358. It’s not really. There’s a much tamer version. It’s the Aquaman-analogue who pressures her 1-on-1 of his own volition, and when it comes out that he did it he is kicked off the team and everybody else disapproves.

  359. That’s not to say that THE BOYS tv show is bad, ’cause it’s pretty good. Gaul is right that it’s a much better show than Preacher, and it is indeed a much better adaptation of the Garth Ennis comic it’s based on. It’s just, to the surprise of no one that read the comic, it’s nowhere near as nasty or cynical.

  360. Mister Vincent Majestyk, all the things you’re describing are in the show. In detail. And it has an inbred Jesus tap dancing on stage while Adolf Hitler plays the piano. That is not as common a sight as you might think.

  361. JTS: So they went for the “one bad apple but please don’t finish the rest of that saying” approach to systemic oppression. Typical.

  362. I think the show is pretty good at depicting them all as scumbags who kill innocent bystanders without batting an eyelid. Only Deep threatened to disrupt the money flow and had to be relocated for a while. Where PREACHER was satirizing the fascist side of religion THE BOYS do much of the same for politics.

  363. That makes more sense. Try as I might, I couldn’t imagine any of the “superheroes” on THE BOYS taking a moral stand on anything. Still, I think the comics version is probably more effective at conveying, in the bluntest possible terms, how absolute power absolutely corrupts absolutely everyone.

  364. They don’t take the bad apple approach in the least.

  365. No, they’re still mostly bad apples (though only the Superman-analogue is as bad as he is in the comics). It’s just that the sexual assault was just one person and it wasn’t condoned and he was in fact punished when she came forward — as opposed to the comics, where she is essentially gang-raped and it actually *is* standard operating procedure and no one cares and she has no recourse. It’s just evidence that the show, unsurprisingly, can’t approach the comics extremity.

  366. Oops, in case I wasn’t clear, I mean they are all bad. It’s *not* a case of one bad apple. They’re all bad apples. Just much less bad than they were in the comics, with the exception of Homelander.

  367. If I recall, the problem with the sexual assault to the heroes is NOT that it happened as far as they were concerned, but that she went public and it became a PR problem.

    Actually I prefer it being a single guy to do it and not the whole group, which is kind of over the top and silly…but a guy just getting her alone and pulling his dick out is more gross and realistic, and more uncomfortable to watch. It’s a better choice dramatically. They all have their own individual excesses.

  368. CJ – I would very strongly recommend MRS. MAISEL. I’m not sure what’s holding you back but it’s possibly the best show on tv these days. It’s so great – the writing and performances are top notch (Shaloub is terrific but so is everyone) and the costumes, set design, etc. are stunning. It would definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea here but I believe that you would really enjoy it.

    The PREACHER show had some inspired moments but was mostly unwatchable. I’m not sure how many seasons I tried to stick with it but am not in any way tempted to go back and finish it. I give them credit for trying to adapt something so fucking crazy but they just made so many bone-headed decisions that ruined it. I also think it was a mistake to do it as a TV show. They could have condensed the story down to 2 hours and made a great movie out of it. Also, why do they keep hiring British guys to play characters from the South of the US? They did this with WALKING DEAD too. The whole time you’re watching you can just see them struggling to keep the accent instead of just acting. It’s so painful to watch.

    THE BOYS is much, much better. I haven’t seen any of season 2 yet. Season 1 was a bit up and down. The best parts by far were straight out of the comics so I’m not sure why they made some of the changes they did. Anyway, I am fully expecting them to do HITMAN at some point and based on the current trajectory, that one should be a perfect adaptation right?

  369. I don’t know, I just look at MRS MAISEL and think “Eh, why should I care about the story of a fictional stand up comedienne in the 1950s?” I’m not completely against watching it, I’m sure one day I will tune in and probably even like it, but this is one of those cases, where a story doesn’t speak to me at all. “From the creator of GILMORE GIRLS” should be enough for me, but somehow it isn’t. I’m still waiting for the show’s invisible car. Which is what I started to call moments, that made me interested in movies and TV shows, based on how ATLANTA went from “I don’t give a shit about the story of a gangsta rapper and his broke cousin who try to make it in the music biz.” to “Oh, you tell me it’s a surreal dramedy that doesn’t even shy away from a sight gag with an invisible car? Now you have my attention!”

  370. I can recommend PREACHER. A wonderful, and obviously greatly misunderstood, show.

  371. There’s nothing I can specifically point out to sell it to you. It’s just a really fun, entertaining show that looks great. It sounds boring, and it might actually be, but I think it’s one of the best shows on television. It doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking, it’s just that everything is done perfectly. I didn’t set out to watch it, just put it on one day while bored and enjoyed the Hell out of it. I’ve never seen GILMORE GIRLS so I can’t compare the two, but from what I can tell at a surface glance, that is show which does not seem to have any immediate draw, either.

  372. That’s also one disadvantage of streaming Vs television. I dismissed GILMORE GIRLS for years as some average soap opera, until I randomly caught bits of it on TV and laughed my ass off. Won’t happen with any of the streaming shows.

    That said, I just randomly watched the first episode of KOBRA KAI and it really was pretty good, so I’m gonna keep watching.

  373. CJ I also recommend you give MRS MAISEL a shot. It’s one of those show that sucks me in because it’s this time and place and people that are totally foreign to me and I’m fascinated about getting a glimpse. I’m 100% sure it’s not an accurate representation of 1950s NYC Jewish/comedian culture, but they are so good with the sets, costumes, etc. that it feels so lush. Many of the characters are a fucking delight, Shaloub and Alex Borstein are my favorites. The only thing I could see being a turn off for people is if they don’t like the fast talking, quipy kind of dialogue, but if you like GILMORE GIRLS, I can’t see that being a problem for you.

  374. HALLSY, agreed about Preacher. The show has several foundational problems, but one of the big ones is Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer. The accent is very bad and there’s not much to the character outside the accent. He’s such a mopey drip and he has the exact same boring arc in seasons one and two. Inexplicable how they went so wrong considering that I like Cooper in other things and I like the comic book character. They shouldn’t have been able to miss.

  375. That’s what you guys have taken away from a show that has a hoodlum priest who commands the voice of Genesys, a Camaro driving bankrobber and an Irish vampire who tries to stop a fascist organization led by TVs greatest character ever, Herr Starr, Adolf Hitler and God himself from starting Armageddon for their own gain, all while the trio are being followed by Satan and his demon gunslinger, arch angels, neo nazis in tanks, a cannibalistic witch, Marquis de Sade reborn and a faceless boy called Arseface, who escaped from Hell by digging himself out?

  376. pegs, your description does more for the series than the series did for me.

    The comic on the other hand rocked my world 7 different ways.

    And agree…for the charismatic titular character who needed to anchor this weird and wonderful world they went for Dominic Cooper???

  377. I’m a big fan of the concept of Preacher, which is why I love the comics and wanted to watch the show in the first place. The problem is certainly not the concept. But you can write a summation like “a boy with an ass for a face teams up with Hitler and escapes hell” and it sounds like it’s crazy and fun, how could it not be? — but then it turns out “hell” is just a dimly-lit room populated by eight people in gray jumpsuits and “escaping” means crawling through a vent. And it takes 13 episodes to do it.

  378. KayKay, I don’t know how far you got, but if you’ve seen the fight in the hallway – Jesse vs 30/40 opponents – you’d know why he got the part.

    JTS, I was under selling it in that description, and still people got intrigued.

    Kids, let this be a warning: Reading will eventually deprive you of good TV in the future.

  379. Pegsman – the fact that they took all those elements and still made it into a shit sandwich just makes it so much more disappointing.

  380. This song sound familiar, and 10-12 years ago I might have asked you for a dance. But at the same time, you guys come on so strong that it could be fun to ask you for some proof. Tell me excactly what you find so terrible about the show. It might be educational.

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