Well, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD had a good decade-plus run as my most anticipated movie. And that worked out well. I doubt I’ll ever see another one pay off like that in my life, but it’s always good to have things to look forward to, to keep you going.
Right now there are plenty of lower key projects to be excited about, from the finally-happening BOYKA: UNDISPUTED IV to the new STAR WARS picture. But right now the one that pushes my buttons the most is actually a remake of MANIAC COP.
This has been in development for a while, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and (last I heard) scripted by Ed Brubaker, writer of acclaimed crime comics (and Seattleite I believe). Sounds fantastic. But what takes this news to the next level is the director: John Hyams, the genius behind UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, DRAGON EYES, THE SMASHING MACHINE and RANK. I have spent the last five years wondering why the hell some studio hasn’t given this guy a budget to deal with, since his straight-to-video works easily out-thrill, out-style and out-smart most big screen action movies, including $200 million dollar duds like, I’m sorry to say, the recent TERMINATOR picture. (read the rest of this shit…)
Remember how I have that problem with horror movies about witches, because they pretend that witches were real and the religious crusaders – who in real life executed totally innocent people based on a superstition – were right? WARLOCK had enough of a fun time travel premise and comic tone that it didn’t bother me that much, but I appreciate that in the sequel they go out of their way to avoid that problem. The solution: Druids!
Kenny Travis (Chris Young, Bryce from Max Headroom) is a high school nerd who is picked on by a popular (long haired) jock kid named Andy (Craig Hurley) who he calls “the school bully.” Andy makes fun of Kenny for reading comic books, but more notably accuses him of being satanic. Kenny doesn’t know it yet, but his father and some of the others are Druids who are charged with using magic runestones to protect the world from evil. But the Christian church-going townspeople blame all the evil shit that happens on this religious minority.
It’s easy to hate this asshole Andy, but not as easy to actually like Kenny. Can’t he be a nerdy underdog without being such an uncharismatic weiner? He stands there cowering while his fucking dad comes up behind him and uses magic to make the sprinklers go off on the jocks. Then all he can come up with to say to them is “Butthead!”
This, unfortunately is our hero who has to face off against the Warlock, who is played by Julian Sands but is apparently not exactly the same warlock he played in the first one. That’s pretty unusual, now that I think about it. As the movie’s Wikipedia entry currently puts it, “It is a sequel in title only to the 1989 film WARLOCK, and stars Julian Sands returning in the title role.” It’s kind of like if LADY DRAGON 2 starred Cynthia Rothrock again as the Lady Dragon but it was totally unrelated to the first one and not about the same lady dragon. Oh, wait. That is what they did. (read the rest of this shit…)
“He’s crazy. He’d charge Hell with a bucket of water.”
10 years after Clint took his acting/directing to new heights with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, the less known character actor Michael Parks (DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH, KILL BILL, TUSK) took over the role for his one go behind the camera. He was, uh… less successful than Clint was.
When I was reading about Forrest Carter, the Klansman turned acclaimed Native American author who wrote the book that THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES was based on, alot of the bios mentioned that after the success of the movie he wrote a sequel called THE VENGEANCE TRIAL OF JOSEY WALES and tried to turn it into a screenplay. They did not mention that the screenplay had been turned into this.
At the start of the movie Josey is off somewhere living a life of peace thanks to everyone who conspired to pretend like he was dead at the end of Clint’s movie. But some of his friends from the saloon, Kelly and Ten Spot, are still around, and reminisce about him sometimes. If I didn’t look it up I’m not sure I’d know they were connected to the first movie, since they’re not the most memorable characters and they’re played by different people this time. But I’ll survive. (read the rest of this shit…)
NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 2, sometimes subtitled “Raging Thunder,” which is also the name of the opening credits song, picks up exactly where part 1 left off: with Corey Yuen directing movies. But it has no characters or story that have any relation at all. Like it would’ve been hard to throw the ghost of Bruce Lee into a scene or two.
Instead of being about a karate student in Seattle learning kung fu from the ghost of Bruce Lee to fight Russian Jean-Claude Van Damme in a karate tournament this is about Scott Wylde (Loren Avedon, KING OF THE KICKBOXERS), an American kickboxer, getting into some shit in Thailand. It seems like he’s a tourist, there to visit his old friend Mac Jarvis (Max Thayer, MARTIAL LAW II, ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS), but then we find out he has a fiance there, Sulin (Patra Wanthivanond). She’s from a rich family and she brings him to a restaurant for a huge feast of TEMPLE OF DOOM type food such as tiger balls and monkey brains. “Very funny, sweetheart!” he says.
But four guys break into his apartment with big knives and little guns and kidnap Sulin to the tune of inappropriately upbeat music. Two stay behind to fight Scott, and it’s immediately clear that the fights (action choreographer: Corey Yuen) are better in this than in part 1. It’s a very acrobatic fight inside the little dingy apartment, jumping off the bed, slamming against the flimsy walls, kicking a guy through the door and across the hall and through the neighbor’s door (where of course he surprises two people who are having sex). And there’s alot of banging heads against walls. And he kills them. (read the rest of this shit…)
Okay, first thing’s first: although this western starring Mario Van Peebles is sometimes subtitled “POSSE II” or “POSSE RIDES AGAIN,” it is not a straight sequel to POSSE. If it was really intended as a sequel it was in the weird way of “what if we did another western starring Mario Van Peebles?” His character is named Chance this time (it is not specified whether or not his mama took one) and although at first he’s kind of a mystery man, people start referring to him as a “half breed” (explaining his long, straight hair) which I don’t believe he was in POSSE. At the end there’s a part where he puts a stick of dynamite in his mouth like a cigar, which could possibly be a reference to something he does in POSSE. But otherwise it really doesn’t seem like it’s supposed to be the same guy as Jessie Lee.
Anyway, Chance makes a great entrance. He’s coming over the horizon, something looks weird about him, he’s got a strange silhouette. As he gets closer you realize it’s ’cause he’s been tarred and feathered and run off into the desert in handcuffs. Ah shit, this guy is not having a good day.
He comes across a caravan of a couple nuns, some mental patients they’re taking care of and a couple guys on security. The mean Mother Superior (Jean Speegle Howard) has them clean him off but figures he’s a convict and treats him as their prisoner. So she’s not Mother Teresa. (read the rest of this shit…)
Last Halloween I did an important, should’ve-been-award-winning piece called Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy?”, in which I compared and contrasted the Freddy Krueger themed song by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince with the one by The Fat Boys. Today I have a brief update, or sequel if you will, to that piece.
In the piece I embedded the “Are You Ready For Freddy?” video, but said there was no video for “A Nightmare On My Street.” In the comments it came up that people including Jake thought they remembered seeing a video. I feel like I would remember such a video existing, but more importantly it’s not on Youtube, on any of the many extras-packed DVDs and Blu-Rays of the Elm Street series, in the excellent 4-hour documentary NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, or on the DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince video collection.
Since then I’ve encountered other people who think they remember seeing it, so I looked into it again. Wikipedia says
“The song was considered for inclusion in the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, but the producers of the film decided against its inclusion. New Line Cinema, copyright holders of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise, sued DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s record label for copyright infringement, forcing the label to destroy a music video produced for the song. Both sides eventually settled out of court.”
but since this section is not sourced I wondered if some of it could be an urban legend. The very specific language of the disclaimer sticker on the record supports the existence of a lawsuit or threat of one, but would they really have made a video before that happened? (read the rest of this shit…)
Thanks for the warning, fellas. AZUMI 2 is no AZUMI. I had known director Shusuke Kaneko as being good at giant monster and horror type pictures, and I really thought his cleverness and style would apply well to our little badass raised in the mountains to be the ninja assassin orphan girl with the purple cape. But maybe with this one he caught a tough break. Either the budget was much lower or they just didn’t know how to use it as well as Kitamura did. Lots of standard woods and dirt, looking cinematic than ’90s syndicated TV show. Like Xena or something.
I didn’t really mind that (spoiler? unspoiler?) negotiations prevent us from having a huge climactic massacre like in the first one. That part feels kinda ballsy, I can respect that. It’s progress for the character and her story instead of just more of the same. What was disappointing was that the first one had that incredible village set that was so integrated with (and wrecked by) the battle. This one is just in an ugly clearing. She could’ve killed 700 people, it still would’ve seemed like a step down. (read the rest of this shit…)
GAME OF DEATH II is a weird proposition. How the hell do you make a sequel to Bruce Lee’s unfinished final movie and pretend he’s still the star? It’s like if they tried to figure out how to keep Paul Walker in FURIOUS 8. It’s a little different because some of the best fights Lee ever shot were for GAME OF DEATH and they didn’t bother to use all the footage in the first one. But I guess they thought it would be cheating to use that stuff. Instead they took a bunch of his closeups from ENTER THE DRAGON and cut them into scenes of a lookalike always shown either from the back or at a distance. Lee’s character Billy Lo is worried about his brother being too into sex and not enough into practicing kung fu. He finds his kama sutra and leaves him a letter and a Jeet Kun Do manual to counter its harmful influence.
Also Billy talks to his master, who tells stories about his youth, illustrated with clips from Chinese movies Lee made at 6 and 15. Instead of letting you figure it out (like Soderbergh using clips from POOR COW as flashbacks in THE LIMEY) they use onscreen text to tell you, breaking any illusion that this is the character Billy Lo, famous movie star who faked his death. In the younger one he’s picking on an old man, headbutting him in the gut, pointing a gun at him and saying he’s gonna kill him. Weird. (read the rest of this shit…)
This is gonna sound crazy, but HIGH NOON PART II: THE RETURN OF WILL KANE, a 1980 TV movie with Lee Majors replacing Gary Cooper as the hero from the 1952 classic, is a damn good sequel in my opinion. It’s directed by Jerry Jameson, who IMDb says was an uncredited director on that Burt Reynolds movie I like, HEAT. I don’t know what the story is on that, but he definitely did AIRPORT ’77 and a bunch of TV shows ranging from The Mod Squad to Walker: Texas Ranger.
So it’s some TV guy directing. More significant in my opinion is that the teleplay was written by Elmore Leonard, and it shows. It has his knack for interesting language and casual conversation, humor in the face of danger, bonding between lawmen and outlaws, and a sort of rambling turn of events that reflects something about the ridiculousness of life. In the original HIGH NOON the freshly-retired marshal got into trouble because his arch-nemesis had been released and was coming into town for revenge. In this one the trouble starts because he and the Missus (Katherine Cannon, THE HIDDEN) are trying to buy some horses.
It’s a year after he shot Frank Miller and left, and he comes back to Hadleyville for this transaction. At the same time Ben Irons (David Carradine) and his men just got off a train, probly the same one the bad guys came in on last time. We know they’re trouble because a deputy recognized Irons’s face and went to check out the wanted posters. They show up wanting to buy the same horses that Kane just paid for, and they try to convince him to let them have them. It’s a tense conversation because Irons tries to act friendly, but Kane lets him know he remembers him from his days in law enforcement.
“Must’ve been during my wayward youth,” Irons says.
“It was a couple of years ago,” Kane says. (read the rest of this shit…)
JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 is a confident, well-constructed movie about a weird monster dude flying around eating a whole bunch of people. It starts out with the admirably to-the-point text:
“Every 23rd Spring
for 23 days
it gets to eat”
This is day 22, shortly after the events of part 1. We hear in a TEXAS CHAIN SAW-esque radio broadcast that the authorities are still dealing with the “The Horror in Poho County,” the “well past 300” dead bodies with missing organs that they discovered under a burned down church.
This is the handiwork of “the Creeper” (Jonathan Breck, SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD IN 4D), who seemed at first like a spooky serial killer in a big farmer hat and long coat driving around in a creepy truck, but turned out to be a demon with big ol’ wings tucked under there. Well, it’s no secret anymore so this time he uses the wings for most of the movie, which leads to some cool action ideas, but also some special effects-related weaknesses. There are some shots of him flying that take you out of the movie with fakiness. But there are some good ones too. This scene where he chases after a car at night looks pretty convincing:
(read the rest of this shit…)