Here’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…)
Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category
THE 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.
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CHOKE 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…)
In 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…)
BEST 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…)
Okay, 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…)
THE 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…)
I 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…)
FACING ALI is a great new documentary about Muhammad Ali (out on DVD last week) that tells his story through the eyes of 10 of his opponents. You still get clips of the champ talking, training, fighting, but you hear about these legendary fights from new interviews with the other guys.
Each of them tell a little about their backgrounds, so they have their own interesting stories. Then they tell about the lead up to the fight, what happened, how they felt about it. Some have nothing but respect for Ali, they admire him, even idolize him. Some are still bitter about the way he insulted them, thought he was too mean. But more than one cries when talking about Ali’s Parkinson’s. (read the rest of this shit…)
So Mandela (Morgan Freeman) has just been elected president of South Africa. The headlines ask, “He can get elected – but can he run a country?” Mandela says it’s a legitimate question.
Apartheid ended a few years earlier, but the white Afrikaners still aren’t ready for this. In his first day as president he has to make a speech explaining to the white people in his office that no, contrary to rumors they are not fired. Whatever they did in the past is in the past. If they don’t want to work with him then fine, pack your shit (paraphrase), but otherwise he needs you so stay and do what’s right for the country.
The mistrust goes both ways. Mandela’s head of security (Tony Kgoroge) knows this is gonna be a tough job, but when he asks for more men Mandela gives him a bunch of white South African cops, the enemy of the African National Congress. He has every reason to believe these scary motherfuckers could plan an assassination themselves, but Mandela wants them for their symbolic value. If he goes around with an integrated security team then that says something. What else can he do, really? Somebody’s gotta put their toes in the water. (read the rest of this shit…)