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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

36.15 Code Pere Noel

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

36.15 CODE PÈRE NOËL – a.k.a. WANTED: MR. XMAS, GAME OVER, DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS, HIDE AND FREAK, or DEADLY GAMES on the German Blu-Ray I rented – is an A+ Christmas action-horror cult movie from 1989 that I can’t believe I’d never heard of before. I read about it in the book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television edited by Paul Corupe and Kier-La Janisse. That’s a small press book I pre-ordered last year and there was some mishap that caused it to be delivered a little after Christmas, so I had it set aside for 11 months, excited to bust it out this year.

As I go through it I’ve been making a long list of things to check out. This was at the top, but I can’t imagine anything else on the list will match it. I was convinced I was sitting on the mother of all Christmas recommendations here and then I asked a friend if he’d ever heard of it and… yeah, there’s a new A.G.F.A. restoration of it that was a big hit at Fantastic Fest this year and is even playing here in Seattle at the Grand Illusion this week.

Oh.

Still, I’m so excited to tell you guys about this one. Though it was made a year before HOME ALONE, it combines the kid-defending-his-house-at-Christmas concept with SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT killer Santa horror and tinges of Jean-Pierre Jeunet heightened reality. It’s so joyous in putting its young hero and his Danny-Cooksey-worthy spikey mullet through kid versions of ’80s action tropes that if I didn’t know it was from ’89 I’d assume it was a tribute movie made by some French answer to Taika Waititi. And yet it’s not at all a comedy. It absolutely works on the level of a serious stalk and slash movie, and it’s about serious ideas. (read the rest of this shit…)

Robin Hood

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

ROBIN HOOD (2018) was part 2 in my “have to be out of the apartment during certain hours but THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB starts too late” programming series. I probly shoulda just seen CREED II again, but you know how it is. Sometimes you want to see ROBIN HOOD.

Taron Egerton (LEGEND) plays Sir Robin of Loxley, a reverse Kingsman raised as a “spoiled toff,” he later fights with the commoners against the government, without his fancy clothes. The movie opens with a narrator bragging about how this is not the “bed time story” you know, and it kinda plays as a super hero origin story (in fact it was originally announced as ROBIN HOOD: ORIGINS). It’s a Robin Hood trained by his mentor John (Jamie Foxx [STEALTH]), a Muslim P.O.W. who, in an act of defiance, he freed during the Crusades, even though the dude had almost killed him. Through some decent training montages (sadly lacking in Stan Bush songs) he gets even better at shooting off a whole bunch of arrows real fast, including when whirling through the air in slow motion. Which I am in favor of. Much of the action (which includes exploding carriages and what not) is shot a little shaky to remind you of that not-a-bed-time-story thing, but luckily they can’t resist the occasional slow motion leap or rope swing. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Night Comes For Us

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

THE NIGHT COMES FOR US is another outstanding gauntlet of gory martial arts violence and honor among killers from Timo Tjahjanto, writer-director of the excellent HEADSHOT. Once again the action is choreographed by Iko Uwais (star of THE RAID), and he’s in it and he’s great, but Joe Taslim gets to play the lead this time. Taslim played Jaka in THE RAID and was also in the best FAST & FURIOUS movie (FURIOUS 6) but he doesn’t seem to get noticed like Iko and Yayan. Or at least he didn’t get to be eaten by a monster in THE FORCE AWAKENS with them. So every time I read his name I think of it to the tune of this:

Taslim’s character Ito is one of the “Six Seas,” elite enforcers for the Triads who from the sounds of it are kinda like the Seal Team Six of international crime. For his job he has to be ridiculously skilled and completely heartless, but one day during a routine massacre-of-entire-village he doesn’t feel like killing the last survivor, a little girl named Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). Instead he guns down his own team and takes off to hide the kid in Jakarta. And sure, this doesn’t erase all the people he’s killed in his three years on the job, but it’s like when the Grinch’s heart grows at the end of his story. Let’s give the man credit for changing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Yes, Madam!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

(a.k.a. POLICE ASSASSINS on the DVD I watched)

YES, MADAM! is a 1985 Hong Kong action classic starring the one and only Michelle Yeoh as Senior Inspector Ng, hard working cop who should be on vacation and instead ends up searching for some damn microfilm.

She ends up on the case due to a crazy pile-up of coincidences. Her old instructor Richard Nordon (Michael Harry, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE) is meeting in his hotel room with a thug named Mr. Dick (Dick Wei, EASTERN CONDORS), who ends up killing him. Immediately after that, two thieves disguised as bellboys happen to break into the room. They happen to steal Nordon’s passport, which happens to contain the microfilm of a forged contract that Mr. Dick was after in the first place. And then Inspector Ng happens to come to the room to meet with her old mentor, just in time to see the fake bellboy fleeing the scene and try to chase him.

There’s a dramatic moment in the lobby when Mr. Dick thinks she’s made him and is ready to shoot her. (read the rest of this shit…)

Strictly Bozness: The Fiery Majesty of STONE COLD

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Another one from the Vern Vault: I have written about STONE COLD many times, but this was the only time I thought to title it STRICTLY BOZNESS. Originally posted October 15, 2015 on One Perfect Shot.

STRICTLY BOZNESS: THE FIERY MAJESTY OF ‘STONE COLD’

There is a certain type of action movie I love where it’s more important to be awesome than grounded; where the knowing use of cliches, absurd physics and extreme exaggeration are part of the agreement between the film and the audience. These are movies that are almost impossible to truly make fun of, because their ridiculousness is not a drawback, even when it’s an accident. They make you laugh but you’d be lying if you said you were only enjoying them ironically. Classics of this type include Schwarzenegger’s COMMANDO, Van Damme’s HARD TARGET and Seagal’s HARD TO KILL. (read the rest of this shit…)

He Never Died

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

In HE NEVER DIED (2015), Henry Rollins (JOHNNY MNEMONIC) plays Jack, which is the guy mentioned in the title, the one who hasn’t experienced death so far. He’s an immortal who just lives a boring life in a dingy apartment, mostly sleeping, sometimes playing Bingo, paying his rent in cash from a box of hundreds he has under the bed. Cara (Kate Greenhouse, TERMINAL RUSH), a waitress at the diner he goes to every day, seems to like him, but I’m not sure why. He shows little emotion or enthusiasm and seems uninterested in understanding normal human social interactions.

This is the story of the time a young woman (Jordan Todosey, THE PACIFIER, Degrassi: The Next Generation) knocks on his door and runs off and then he gets a call from a long-ago ex who he hates who says that was his daughter and can he please find her and make sure she doesn’t drive home drunk, because that’s what she does. Around this same time he’s also getting threats from some gangsters for reasons he doesn’t understand, or seem that interested in understanding.

So it turns into a story about this gruff, seemingly heartless weirdo accidentally forming a bond with his young misfit daughter – a common format, I know, but one I’m always a sucker for. And then the gangsters notice there’s this person in his life, so the two things become intertwined. (read the rest of this shit…)

Silent Rage

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

I don’t consider myself a Chuck Norris fan, but I love INVASION USA and obviously he’s in my favorite Bruce Lee movie WAY OF THE DRAGON and okay, LONE WOLF McQUADE is pretty good and I have to admit I enjoyed DELTA FORCE 2 and also the first MISSING IN ACTION is kinda stupid fun so okay, maybe I like some of his movies, big deal, I could stop at any time.

I watched SILENT RAGE because Panos Cosmatos mentioned it on Shock Waves as a rare example of action-horror. Obviously that’s a hybrid genre that has some appeal to me because it’s my two favorite types of movies combined into one super-movie (and because it’s what I’m trying to do in that next novel I’m perpetually on the verge of finishing).

The highlight of SILENT RAGE is definitely the opening, a long, boiling-over-pot of a sequence that reminds me of the deft camera mastery of HALLOWEEN‘s opening and the stand-alone intensity of SCREAM‘s. It’s just about this guy John Kirby (Brian Libby, ACTION JACKSON, THE MIST) at home in Dallas one random day and the kids are running around causing havoc and the wife is sniping at them and nobody’s paying any attention to him but us as he is sweaty and shaking, talking to his doctor on the phone, vaguely asking for help. Then he says “I’m not gonna make it,” hangs up and stumbles to the chicken coop out back. We stay inside watching out the window and the family is still completely oblivious to anything being wrong as he returns with an ax. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shot

Friday, September 28th, 2018

SHOT is a movie that’s not necessarily thrilling from start to finish, but that is a unique specimen and time capsule that I’m happy we, as a civilization, maintain a record of. Somehow the canister-diggers at Vinegar Syndrome got their dusty fingers on a 16mm crime epic made by film students in Champaign, Illinois circa 1973, and now all the sudden it’s on Blu-Ray with a newly restored 2k transfer. The movie is appealing not only for exhibiting the fashion and music of its era, but for having an impressive amount of production value considering its origins. Reportedly they raised a $15,000 budget with campus film screenings, but I imagine it was more a matter of string-pulling that accounts for some of this. They have an abundance of helicopter footage, a small plane, multiple police cars, many guns, and a couple car crashes. It’s no FRENCH CONNECTION (a cited inspiration), but picture yourself, like, 22 years old trying to figure out how to get access to that stuff.

The key to watchability is a solid cast of non-professional actors. Vinegar Syndrome’s promo materials call the movie “regional filmmaking” (and also “a low-key piece of regional New American Cinema”) which is a good description, but might sound like something more laughable and homemade than this. The natural performances I think graduate it to legit indie film. It’s much more professional than so many regional horror movies that I’ve seen, and that’s kind of an interesting part of it, I think. If it was after HALLOWEEN they’d be making a horror movie. If it was after RESERVOIR DOGS they’d be making a crime movie. I guess after DIRTY HARRY they wanted to make cop movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Predator

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

I didn’t get to see THE PREDATOR until after the world had already estimated its coordinates somewhere in the hostile territory between disappointment and disaster. Maybe that prepared me for the sloppy last stretch (it seems like some connective tissue must’ve been lost in editing or reshoots) and a thudding comedy riff or two involving a character with Tourette’s. And I guess a couple subpar quasi-science discussions, sometimes involving “the spectrum.” Also, is it just me or are these people weirdly unsurprised to see aliens?

But everything else in the movie tears its gear off and covers itself in mud to prove it’s a true warrior of entertainment. This is a funnier Predator movie, one full of joyful, gory mayhem, clever dialogue and inventive action beats. Let me give you an example from the opening. Decorated army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, JANE GOT A GUN) witnesses the crash of a Predator ship and pulls an extra-terrestrial helmet and gauntlet out of the wreckage before catching a glimpse of the camouflaged alien pilot (6’9 1/2″ parkour artist Brian A. Prince) stringing up another soldier. Panicked, McKenna accidentally fires the wrist weapon, slicing his friend’s corpse in half and dumping intestines and blood onto the cloaked Predator, revealing its location and appearance.

I mean, you love that, right? I love that. We all, in my opinion, love that. That’s what movies are for right there. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Kiss

Monday, September 24th, 2018

The success of DEATH WISH launched a million sleazy urban vigilante revenge pictures, but it took 44 years – one for each millimeter in a Magnum – for us to get one starring an uncanny Charles Bronson lookalike. In the tradition of THE MAN WITH HUMPHREY BOGART’S FACE, BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA, THE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE, the entire genre of Bruceploitation, Dolly the Sheep and Madame Tussaud’s comes DEATH KISS starring Robert Kovacs, a.k.a. Robert Bronzi. He doesn’t have a death wish, he is the kiss of death, you see. They explain that.

I believe this is a sincere tribute and/or a weird novelty, not a cash grab, because it’s not like there’s gonna be big money in tricking somebody into thinking there’s another old Bronson movie they never heard of, or that Bronson is alive and looking the same age as he was in DEATH WISH four decades ago. There’s no explanation, he just appears there with his messy hair and trademark mustache, wearing his Paul Kersey trenchcoat and tie, a mysterious stranger showing up where he’s not supposed to, putting bullets into child traffickers and their clients, or unsolicited cash into the mailbox of a troubled single mother (Eva Hamilton, OUIJA HOUSE) who has no idea who he is.

(read the rest of this shit…)