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

Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Trouble With the Curve

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

tn_troublewiththecurveI don’t know if this is true but I heard it’s good luck for movie critics to start a year with a Clint Eastwood review. So I saved TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE for the occasion.

It’s a pretty standard mainstream feel-good-about-everything-at-the-end father-daughter relationship drama, but I couldn’t resist it because Clint plays the stubborn old grump dad and Amy Adams plays the daughter. She’s pissed off and sarcastic through half the movie but I’m still powerless in the face of her charms. I’m sorry.

Here’s the situation: Gus (Clint) is a veteran scout for the Braves baseball team, sent to evaluate some young hot shot out in North Carolina (Scott Eastwood). But Gus is secretly losing his eyesight and openly losing favor in the organization to a young douchebag (Matthew Lillard) who prefers modern methods involving computers and statistics. Gus’s best friend (John Goodman with an impressive mustache) worries they’re gonna drop him if something goes wrong, so he begs Gus’s estranged lawyer daughter Mickey (Adams) to come keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, a young pitching-phenom-turned-scout who Gus likes (Justin Timberlake) helps out and tries to woo Mickey.
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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Moneyball

Friday, February 24th, 2012

tn_moneyballI heard MONEYBALL was good, so I wanted to see it, but I was definitely skeptical. Steven Soderbergh tried to get this movie done for a long time, based on the non-fiction book of the same title. But he got the plug pulled a couple times, the studio thought the script wasn’t entertaining enough and he wouldn’t do what they wanted because he was trying not to dramatize and composite and shit, he wanted to try to make it as close to 100% true as he could. Well, after he finally bowed out they quickly got a new script by Steve Zaillian (SCHINDLER’S LIST, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) and Aaron Sorkin (SOCIAL NETWORK, West Wing TV show) and director Bennett Miller, and that’s a good group of people, but these kinds of salvage jobs never turn out good. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Real Steel

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

tn_realsteeelHere’s a not-perfect but surprisingly enjoyable family sports robots drama from the visionary director of, to be frankly honest, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (remake) and THE PINK PANTHER (remake) and a bunch of other shit like that. Obviously the title is a cheap stunt, they’re trying to make you think Shaquille O’Neal is in it, so please spread the word that that’s not the case. It’s also not officially based on the beloved intellectual property Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, even though it’s about boxing robots. It’s credited as being partly based on a Richard Matheson short story called “Steel” (also turned into a Twilight Zone episode starring Lee Marvin), but I say it’s suspiciously similar to Menahem Golan’s OVER THE TOP. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

The Fighter

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

tn_fighterTHE FIGHTER is another movie about the working class struggle of the underdog boxer, this one based on a true story, developed for years by Darren Aranofsky, finally directed by David O. Russell when Mark Wahlberg realized he’d been in boxing training for 3 or 4 years now and it would be good to start filming at some point. Those are both kinda weird directors for a normal boxing movie, but this is pretty normal, it’s not some radical reinvention of the genre. What makes it fresh though is the focus on the whole family. It’s equally about the fighter, Micky Ward (Wahlberg, BOOGIE NIGHTS) and his half- brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale, AMERICAN PSYCHO) and their place in the town of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Dickie is a former contender and now Micky’s trainer, but to be honest it doesn’t seem like his heart is that in it anymore. He spends most of his time pursuing his other passion, smoking crack.
(read the rest of this shit…)

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

Choke

Monday, October 11th, 2010

tn_chokeCHOKE is an early mixed martial arts documentary, released in ’99 and directed by one Rob Goodman. They don’t call it “mixed martial arts” or “MMA,” they seem to like “no rules fighting,” even though the movie makes it clear that there are rules, and even shows people arguing over what the rules should be. It focuses on the 1995 Vale Tudo tournament, a Japanese freestyle fighting competition similar to Ultimate Fighting Championship except in a ring instead of an octagon. It has ropes instead of walls and is a totally different shape although the number 8 is divisible by 4, in my opinion. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Pentathlon

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

tn_pentathloncountdownlogoIn the 1994 sports ‘n action drama PENTATHLON, Mr. Dolph Lundgren plays Eric Brogar, an East German athlete trained since childhood to be the ultimate pentathlon competitor. David Soul (Hutch from ‘Starsky & Hutch’!) plays the authoritarian (later revealed to be Neo-Nazi) coach Heinrich Müller, who slaps little Eric around and drills him to believe that if he trips on a rock or something he’s “failed the German Democratic Republic,” as well as himself and all his friends. I mean, this coach is such an asshole that you know he’s not even gonna be the kind of asshole that turns out to be lovable at the end like James Earl Jones in BEST OF THE BEST. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Best of the Best

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

tn_bestofthebestcountdownlogoBEST OF THE BEST is a watchable movie, but not the best of any genre, except possibly Eric Roberts non-sequel karate tournament movies. So I’m not sure about using the word “best” two times in the title. Seems a little presumptuous, unless one is supposed to cancel out the other. They were definitely set on that title, though. It’s spoken out loud in the movie and appears in one of those ’80s inspiration-rock montage songs.

This isn’t a full-on martial arts movie or even on par with a JCVD. This is one of those mainstream-trying-to-come-to-grips-with-something-they-don’t-understand pictures, like a breakdancing movie. While it was written and co-starring the Korean-American martial artist Phillip Rhee, everybody else is a white American (Eric Roberts, Chris Penn), or a respected actor (James Earl Jones). Jones plays the coach and the rest play the five elite martial artists recruited for the U.S. National Karate Team to compete against The Koreans in Tae Kwan Do. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

Rank

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

tn_rankOkay, my last two reviews brought out everybody’s expertise of mixed martial arts competitions and professional wrestling. Let’s see how you guys do with this sport.

RANK is another John Hyams documentary in the tradition of THE SMASHING MACHINE, but this one’s in the world of professional bullriding. In both sports Hyams has documented so far the athletes break parts of themselves that they aren’t gonna be able to fix. And the filmatistic approach he used in SMASHING MACHINE ain’t broke so he doesn’t fix that either: it’s almost-direct cinema (just following people around, but they do talk to the camera sometimes), hypnotic score, themes that make themselves apparent and don’t need to be underlined. This time around it looks like he got better cameras, though. The cinematography is outstanding. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

The Smashing Machine

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

tn_smashingmachineTHE SMASHING MACHINE is a documentary about Mark Kerr, at the time an undefeated fighter in UFC, Pride and other mixed martial arts competitions. The director is John Hyams, whose UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION was so unexpectedly great I felt compelled to watch everything else he’s directed. In fact, Van Damme’s admiration of this movie is apparently what got Hyams the gig on the ol’ UNISOL.

The opening got me right away because it’s a voiceover on top of fight footage, and something seems wrong. The gentle, almost nerdy voice that’s talking to us doesn’t seem to match this muscleman we’re watching use his bare hands and feet to take flesh that God shaped in His own image and reconfigure it into an ugly pile of of bruise and injury. If Mark Kerr called you on the phone and said, “I’m the Smashing Machine,” you’d hear his voice and you’d never believe him. You’d hang up. But it’s true, he’s the Smashing Machine. And also a nice, thoughtful guy. (read the rest of this shit…)

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

The Blind Side

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

tn_blindsideI wasn’t planning to see THE BLIND SIDE, but I’d seen 8 out of the 10 best picture nominees already, and I heard it wasn’t that bad. So what the hell. Figured I could start filling out the checklist and have a review for Super Bowl Sunday.

Adapted from part of a Michael Lewis football book, this is the true story of how a completely uneducated homeless kid in Tennessee who barely spoke and didn’t know what an ocean was got brought into a private Christian school, adopted by rich white people, learned how to play football and got his grades up enough for a college football scholarship. He was Michael Oher, now an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. (read the rest of this shit…)

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