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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Posts Tagged ‘assassins’

The Villainess

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

THE VILLAINESS is LA FEMME NIKITA with a little KILL BILL by way of South Korean cinema. A young woman with a troubled past has her identity erased, is trained to kill for the government, put undercover, given a mission, trying to earn her freedom. But she was already pretty damn good at killing before the feds got involved. They capture and recruit her after an incredible opening massacre, done in her POV – it’s first person shooter/slasher/stabber/kicker-through-window – until she sees herself in a mirror, then gets her head smashed into it and the perspective separates from her body, rotating around her as she continues to fight, mostly using gym equipment (the jump rope is my favorite) as weapons.

As her captivity, training and missions are depicted in somewhat elliptical fashion, the events leading up to that rampage also come out piece-by-puzzle-piece in flashbacks, not even in chronological order within themselves, and with some characters played by different actors in different periods. I find the story at times confusing and overcomplicated, but still compelling. Even if I didn’t, I’d still call THE VILLAINESS a must-see for the most audacious, envelope-pushing action filmatism I’ve seen in quite a while. (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.

Golgo 13 (1977)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

tn_golgo13GOLGO 13 from 1977 – sometimes subtitled ASSIGNMENT KOWLOON, but not to be confused with ASSIGNMENT MIAMI BEACH – is the second adaptation of a popular Japanese comic book. Sonny Chiba plays an infamous assassin known as Golgo 13. But fuck the code name, his real name, or at least the alias he’s living under, is “Duke Togo.” I mean why would you even want people to call you Golgo 13 if you’re normally called Duke Togo? Just stick with the one awesome name, in my opinion. Don’t hog ’em.

This is a great role for Chiba because he’s just full of larger than life swagger. He wears flashy suits and sunglasses, he has boxes of weapons delivered to him at his hotel, he satisfies women, he’s the very best at killing people and outsmarting everybody. He’s Shaft times James Bond but sort of the bad guy, which makes him kind of cooler than either one. And director Yukio Noda (BRONSON LEE, CHAMPION) shamelessly drapes it in the stylistic cliches of the time. A good thing.

An opening about Hong Kong police responding to a murder moves to a small boat off Miami where a white man named Rocky Brown is expecting to meet the legendary assassin Golgo 13. He’s worried because he doesn’t see any boats around, when suddenly Golgo climbs right out of the water onto the boat with scuba gear. Two other white men watch on a telescope from a hotel balcony, discussing who he is, explaining him to us. Suddenly Golgo pulls out a rifle – is he gonna betray this guy that wants to hire him? No, he fires at the hotel, taking out both of the exposition guys. (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.

John Wick

Monday, October 27th, 2014

tn_johnwickI never figured Keanu Reeves would become an action hall-of-famer, but here we are. Of course he stars in the great POINT BREAK, but we can’t lie, we all kinda chuckle at his FBI surfer dude Johnny Utah in that. And then he was good in SPEED, but would that be enough? If that was enough Matt Damon would be an action legend. Of course, playing Neo in THE MATRIX trilogy sealed the deal, Reeves learned to do all that kung fu and that hadn’t really been done by a normal actor like that before and those movies and those fights hold up today. Still, it seemed like an anomaly in his career. He would always be Neo to the world but that would be it for Action Keanu, right?

Nope. Because he directed last year’s martial arts gem MAN OF TAI CHI and played the villain, creating and performing some more classic fight scenes. When I saw that I realized it was time to acknowledge his greatness. 47 RONIN put a little bit of a damper on that though because it was so boring I never even wrote a review. If I had it would’ve said “Some of the monsters are cool” and that’s about it.

But after JOHN WICK, Reeves’s strong connection to Badass Cinema cannot be denied. This is a fun, violent, straight-ahead revenge action movie. Reeves did not direct it, but his stunt double from the MATRIX movies, Chad Stahelski, did*. So it’s probly a style of directing too dangerous for Reeves to perform. (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.

Dragon From Russia

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Researching my review for CRYING FREEMAN I found out there was this five-years-older adaptation of the same comic. This one’s actually a Hong Kong action movie for real, but it’s not the moody John Woo type that influenced the 1995 version. This is the frenetic wire-fu style that was also big at that time.
(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.

Crying Freeman

Monday, August 27th, 2012

CRYING FREEMAN (1995) is a pretty cool movie that I went back to hoping it would be better than I realized before. I did a brief write-up of it in a column years ago, but I’m not gonna link to it right now because most of the column is angry rants about what was going on in the news at the time and it makes me cringe. Based on a Japanese comic book (or “Japomic Book”) by the same writer as Lone Wolf and Cub, CRYING FREEMAN is a moody, serious assassin movie with Yakuza, mind control, a witch, romance and tragedy. It takes place in 4 different countries (U.S., Canada, China, Japan) with the most convincing, of course, being the part that takes place in Vancouver, B.C.
(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.

Silent Trigger

Monday, August 13th, 2012

I hoped this would be one of the better Dolph Lundgren vehicles, because it’s directed by Russell Mulcahy, who used to be so good. This was ’96, his next movie after ’94’s THE SHADOW. I guess this is his punishment, but THE SHADOW is more fun. SILENT TRIGGER is at least watchable, but so are other things that are actually 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.

Killer Elite

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

tn_killerelite(KILLER ELITE is enjoyable if unspectacular. Luckily it’s more in the vein of the sort-of-classy studio action thrillers like THE BANK JOB than the gloomy Millennium Pictures joints I halfway expected it to be like. So it co-stars Robert DeNiro, the legendary actor, and not Robert DeNiro, that old man from the 50 Cent movies. But the star is definitely Jason Statham, looking exactly the same in 1980-81 as he does in any other time period (minus the track suit). (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.

Colombiana

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

tn_colombianaI can’t claim COLOMBIANA is anything special, because I’m not a fuckin liar. But I enjoyed it as a solid Luc Besson production, a retelling of the good ol’ cliches about elite assassins and avenging the deaths of parents, but with the novelty of an up and coming star we haven’t seen in this type of role before.

It’s a hitwoman movie, but not the post-Tarantino type where you see they’re just like us and watch TV and stuff. It’s the opposite. The one where she’s so driven that she has no real life. Her man friend (Michael Vartan from ROGUE) has to quiz her just to try to get her to say where she’s from. And she won’t say. All we really see about this Cataleya lady outside of her job is that she enjoys dancing by herself and sucking on lollipops. Those are her hobbies. By sheer coincidence those are also the type of things Luc Besson would like to see an attractive actress doing. (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.

Assassination Games

Friday, July 29th, 2011

tn_assassinationgamesASSASSINATION GAMES teams up two of the best working action guys, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins. They were already in THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL together and will both be in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: A NEW DIMENSION, but this is the first one where they’re co-leads. They play two elite assassins who work together after they realize they’re after the same guy (for Van Damme it’s business, for Adkins it’s personal). It would be one of the most anticipated DTV movies of the year if it wasn’t getting a negligible (Oscar qualifying?) theatrical release today. It’s not playing on my coast, but luckily I was able to get a DVD screener. (Here’s the official websight with theater listings – not sure how well they’re gonna do with that title ’cause it was hard to even find on Google.) (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.

Elektra

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

ELEKTRA was considered sort of a flop when it came out a year or two ago, and that made the studios think there just isn’t money in female action heroes or female biopics. This may have led to the troubles with the Edie Sedgwick movie, the limited release of the Betty Page movie, etc. However, this very unorthodox and presumably fictionalized biography of Carmen Elektra is not really as bad as I thought it would be.

Jennifer Garner (Felicity) plays Elektra (they never call her Carmen) as a brooding, obsessive compulsive ninja assassin who has recently returned from the dead. (a little exaggerated there, in my opinion.) She imagines herself as a major player in some kind of mystical war between good and evil forces. I think you can interpret it a couple of ways, alot of people probaly take it literally and figure this is like CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, this is telling us that the whole time we thought Carmen Elektra was just some chick on BAYWATCH or SINGLED OUT or whatever, she was actually also a ninja assassin. On this mission she goes to an island somewhere, it is not exactly a beach paradise but still she could be filming some pickups for BAYWATCH or MTV Spring Break while she’s there and then after she’s done with those she’s gonna assassinate some people. (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.