ALI BOMAYE!

Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Not too long ago it was in the nerd-news that Samuel L. Jackson had signed on to play the character “Nick Fury” in as many as nine Marvel Comics movies. Some people said, “Well, that’s not surprising. Samuel L. Jackson will sign onto anything!” But that’s not really fair, they were probaly just actors who were bitter because they didn’t get the roles in THE SPIRIT, CLEANER, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, S.W.A.T., SOUL MEN, JUMPER, HOME OF THE BRAVE, FREEDOMLAND, FARCE OF THE PENGUINS, BASIC, CHANGING LANES, SPHERE, LOADED WEAPON 1, etc.

Where does this Nick Fury come from? Probaly some comic book, but in my opinion mainly from this TV movie starring David Hasselhoff. I actually have wanted to see this for years because it was written by David Goyer in the same year he did BLADE, but they rarely showed it on TV. One time I happened to catch part of it on cable so I checked to see when it would air again – never, it turned out. That was the one and only scheduled airing. But that was before Fury Fever swept the nation, so now it’s on DVD. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ip Man

Donny Yen plays Ip Man, the grand master martial artist who I guess was the first to openly teach the Wing Chun style of kung fu. If you’ve heard of him it’s probaly because he was Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun master, although that’s only mentioned in the text at the end of the movie.

Like Ronny Yu’s JET LI’S FEARLESS, IP MAN is a prestige martial arts picture, a fictionalized take on a historical figure, a beautifully shot period piece (in this case the ’30s) mixing drama and inspirational nationalism with topnotch martial arts choreography. The look is a little more timeless than FEARLESS though – I didn’t notice any digital shots, and only a couple wire-assisted moves. (read the rest of this shit…)

Knock Off

In the second of Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s surrealist double feature with collaborator Jean-Claude Van Damme (the first was DOUBLE TEAM), the eel really hits the ass. You probaly haven’t heard that saying before, because I just made it up, but it means “shit gets real weird” and it comes from the scene where Van Damme is pulling Rob Schneider in a rickshaw and Schneider starts whipping him with an eel while yelling “Move that beautiful ass!” That’s something most of us will only see in a handful of movies and TV shows within our lifetimes.

This time Van Damme plays the head of a Hong Kong fashion exports corporation who gets mixed up in a CIA/Russian mafia/Triad/terrorist plot because he sells inferior knockoff jeans that have a lower quality denim as well as high powered miniature explosives in the buttons. One of the very first exploding jeans movies. If that doesn’t tell you this is one of the weirder Van Damme pictures how about these tidbits: Rob Schneider plays his partner, there is a shot from the POV of Van Damme’s foot going into a shoe, it takes place in a world where fire is green. Or at least the fire that comes from these bombs. That’s some remarkable technology there – not only is it small, it changes the color of fire. I wonder what color air is in this world? (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern sees LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (remake [not CHAOS])!

SPOILER ALERT !!

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT REMAKE

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT original, VIRGIN SPRING, CHAOS, THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake, and URBAN LEGEND.

Well well well, what do we have here? Looks like a remake of a Wes Craven movie, already unofficially remade as a Demon Dave DeFalco movie, itself based on an Ingmar Bergman movie based on a 13th century ballad based on a legend of why a particular Swedish church was built. I’m not sure the modern moviegoer is concerned with the origin story of the Kärna church, so we gotta wonder what exactly the reason is for this remake. The answer, of course, is that the original movie was first called KRUG AND COMPANY, they didn’t call it LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT until it had been traveling around for a while. They made it up after the fact, it didn’t really mean anything, so in the movie they never mentioned the location of the house. I saw the trailer for the remake where somebody’s driving down a road and says “it’s the last house on the left.” This is the reason to remake it, you can finally go back and establish that! (read the rest of this shit…)

Southern Discomfort

Nope, this is not a sequel or rebuttal to Walter Hill’s SOUTHERN COMFORT, and it’s not a withering expose of labor unrest at the Southern Comfort liqueur factory. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is an hour long documentary about a night of indie wrestling in Alabama made in 2000 by Fred Olen Ray, a director I thought only did no-budget movies with babes and dinosaurs and shit like that. Although much more upbeat than THE WRESTLER or the Jake “The Snake” Roberts portion of BEYOND THE MAT this is that same world, the bonebreaking for small crowds and small pay in high school gyms.

The Iron Sheik is the superstar of the bunch, doing a good job of not seeming depressed that he went from 19,000 fans at Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden to 400 at the Saks High gymnasium. But the stars are all wrestlers I never heard of before who as far as I can tell have mostly never achieved much more fame than this and in their interviews never imply that they want to. They’re happy working regular small town jobs and then on the weekends putting on a mask and throwing people around. (read the rest of this shit…)

Navy SEALS vs. U.S. SEALS II

Man, Michael Biehn and the other guys on his team in NAVY SEALS really like to party and be outrageous. Especially Charlie Sheen, have you seen how out of control that guy is? On the way to Dennis Haysbert’s wedding he jumps out of a moving Jeep and over the side of a bridge just for laughs. You know how those SEALs boys are. You don’t even have to TELL them to jump off a bridge, they just do it for no reason. And their nice wedding clothes get all fucked up, but they don’t care because they’re Navy SEALs.

That’s what it’s all about.

I think this movie was inspired by TOP GUN. It’s one part action movie, two parts lifestyle magazine. It wants to show that Navy SEALs are elite warriors and heroes, but mostly it wants to show what a fun time they have just hanging out with their bros when they’re stateside. Just some men, going around together, being men. Hoo rah, best buds for life. Dennis Haysbert is the only one in a serious relationship, he’s about to marry S. Epatha Merkerson, but as she’s coming down the aisle their SEAL pagers beep and they all leave. Sorry Toots, maybe next time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Quiet Cool

James Remar is a New York City cop. Not the kind in a uniform, the cool kind. We know he plays by his own rules because he wakes up in a messy apartment face down next to a pizza box with a couple of uneaten slices still left. Can you believe that? He just let two slices dry out overnight. This is a guy who just doesn’t give a fuck! It’s like the saying goes, “Never face an enemy who does not fear wasting pizza.”

We also know he’s a rugged individualist because he drives a motorcycle, movie code for “he’s a rugged individualist.” In the opening he sees a dude on rollerskates swipe a lady’s purse and he chases him down, driving his motorcycle into a subway car, doing a wheely, using the stairs from the subway entrance as a ramp to jump over some pedestrians, finally grabbing the rollerthief, dragging him at high speed and tossing him into some water. And it’s hard to swim with rollerskates on.

(By the way, I swear I saw this exact same thing happen on CHiPs one time. Were rollerpursesnatchers really a serious problem? I don’t remember.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Darkman III: Die Darkman Die

Darkman’s still trying to fix that liquid skin problem, and this time he forms a partnership with one of the doctors who did the experimental surgery on him in the first place. She wants to try out a new technique to rewire his nerves so he has feeling again, and he agrees to be her guinea pig on the condition that he can borrow her top of the line DNA sequencer for his skin project. Both end up getting what they want: the equipment helps him “break the 99 minute barrier” (again – they seem to have forgotten he already did it in part 2) and she rewires his nerves to a remote control device because actually she works for a crazy steroid dealer (Jeff Fahey) who’s pissed off because Darkman stole a bunch of his money and now he wants to study him to find out how he gets his super darkstrength.

DIE DARKMAN, DIE has the same director as part 2 but this time it’s written by Colleary and Werb, the guys who wrote DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH and FACE/OFF. Come to think of it these guys are obsessed with faces and masks. Colleary even wrote an episode of the new Alfred Hitchcock Presents about a woman who has plastic surgery to look like someone else and Werb was a writer on THE MASK. Weird. But the point is they are pretty good writers and went beyond the DTV call of duty on this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Darkman II: The Return of Durant

We thought Larry Drake’s sadistic, finger-collecting crime lord Robert G. Durant was killed when Darkman caused his helicopter to explode, but actually he survived, in a coma, his gang secretly keeping him on life support in his mansion. Also we thought Darkman was a big screen hero played by Liam Neeson, turns out he’s on video and played by Arnold Vosloo.

THE RETURN OF DURANT is a pioneering DTV sequel, one of the earliest examples of the artform, and also the beginning of Sam Raimi expanding his Renaissance Pictures empire by executive producing a bunch of other people’s shit instead of just making EVIL DEAD movies. If nothing else this movie was a training ground for sidekicks in future Raimi productions – Vosloo would be Lance Henriksen’s in HARD TARGET and female lead Renee O’Connor would be Xena’s. (read the rest of this shit…)

Darkman

I believe you’re all familiar with the director Sam Raimi. You know – kind of a smart ass, wears a tie, master of energetic camerawork, loves the Three Stooges. These days I guess people just think of him as the guy who did the three Spider-man pictures. Nerds curse his name because although the first two touched their hearts and moved their souls the third one was kind of dumb and had a part where he did an evil dance, and apparently in the comic book it is made very clear that the whole point of the Spider-man character is that he would never do an evil dance like that. The Punisher or Blade maybe would do one under the influence of sorcery or an alien ray, but Spider-man – never. So even if Sam Raimi did direct THE EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2, ARMY OF DARKNESS, SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN 2, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD and A SIMPLE PLAN it doesn’t matter, that’s all moot now, like Michael Richards’ comedy after he used the n word.

But with this review we gotta transport ourselves back to the early 1990 when Raimi was an underdog, a cult director who had done two drive-in masterpieces and one disowned comedy, and here he was trying to break into the post-BATMAN studio game with a movie that was big budget for him but small compared to the movies it was gonna be held up against. It’s kind of like a comic book movie: a super hero origin story, with music by Danny Elfman, and with ‘man’ in the hero’s name. It’s also kind of a horror movie: he’s a mad scientist and a burnt up Phantom of the Opera type freak whose scarring turns him crazy and murderous. But mostly I think it’s like an action movie: it has R-rated violence, he’s getting revenge one-by-one on the criminals who wronged him, there’s explosions and stunts, and one of the screenwriters is Chuck Pfarrer, the ex-Navy SEAL who wrote NAVY SEALS and HARD TARGET. (read the rest of this shit…)