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Posts Tagged ‘Danny Trejo’

Cage

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

“Wrestling? I like wrestling. But I don’t like fighting. But I like wrestling!”

Note: Box Office Mojo only lists “1988” as the release date, but IMDb says September 1, 1989. I’m going with the specific one.

The movie CAGE is alot like the character Lou Ferrigno plays in it: brain damaged, childlike, clumsy, well-meaning, and hard not to like. The opening definitely had me concerned, though. In “VIET NAM 1969,” a bunch of army dudes run around in a field screaming and firing machine guns while the keyboards of composer Michael Wetherwax (SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE) sort of imitate the RAMBO theme. B-movies about the Vietnam War don’t tend to be watchable, in my opinion, so thank God our boys get out of there quick.

Escaping in a helicopter, Billy Thomas (Ferrigno, between his last two Incredible Hulk TV movies) heroically saves his friend Scott Monroe (Reb Brown, UNCOMMON VALOR, ten years after his last Captain America TV movie) by having the strength to one-arm-dangle him under the copter even after being shot in the head with what, judging from the leak it springs in his temple, appears to be an adorably tiny bullet.

(Good makeup effect, though.)

The opening credits are a comically corny rehabilitation montage set to a ballad called “Don’t Let Go” by Jennifer Green. Without sound, Ferrigno and Brown pantomime a series of struggles and minor triumphs, from getting a medal to being frustrated with a puzzle to making it up a few steps. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lock Up

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

It could be argued that LOCK UP isn’t quite an action movie – that it’s more of a drama with some violence and extreme villainy. And if it is action I’m not sure how it fits into the theme of this series about a shift in the genre heading into the next decade. No, it doesn’t seem like the ’90s ones with “DIE HARD on a _____” type hooks (CLIFFHANGER, DAYBREAK) or special effects and stylized settings (DEMOLITION MAN, JUDGE DREDD). But it’s also not quite the over the top feel we associate with the ’80s because of movies like RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, COBRA and, well… OVER THE TOP. It has a score by Bill Conti (fresh off of THE KARATE KID PART III) that brings ROCKY-like majesty, especially during the montage of the harrowing football game that’s intentionally more about hurting him than sport. This is Stallone in tough-but-vulnerable mode, and even has a part where he builds to a yelling, emotional speech kinda like the end of FIRST BLOOD.

I attribute the film’s timelessness and grit to director John Flynn, a legend to me because of THE OUTFIT and ROLLING THUNDER in the ’70s and OUT FOR JUSTICE in the ’90s. This was his followup to BEST SELLER. He didn’t generally participate in trends – he just made John Flynn movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Six Days Seven Nights

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

June 12, 1998

Ivan Reitman’s SIX DAYS SEVEN NIGHTS is a kind of low concept romance/adventure that I don’t think you’d see today, and didn’t generally see twenty years ago. It’s basically just a woman and a man who don’t initially like each other getting trapped on an island together, and then starting to like each other after a bit of survival shenanigans.

There’s more romantic-comedy trappings than adventure ones. Robin Monroe (Anne Heche, PSYCHO) is a hard working assistant editor for the fashion magazine Dazzle who’s in a long term relationship with Frank (David Schwimmer, WOLF). He’s a sweet but immediately off-putting guy who makes grand romantic gestures like surprising her with a sudden six-day-seven-night (you see, that’s the title, SIX DAYS SEVEN NIGHTS) vacation to the South Pacific, where he proposes and she says yes.

But she also meets Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford, THE EXPENDABLES 3), a grizzled, hard-drinking pilot of the small plane who gets them from a larger island to their final destination of Makatea after their more lush charter falls through. On the island he drunkenly hits on her at the bar, forgetting that he was the one who just got her there, and Ford does a good bleary-eyed horny dude. Robin is polite but unimpressed, in contrast to Frank, who could not for the life of him hide his boner for Quinn’s busty and flirtatious co-pilot/sort of girlfriend Angelica (Jacqueline Obradors, UNSTOPPABLE, BAD ASSES). (read the rest of this shit…)

Beatdown

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

tn_beatdownBEATDOWN is yet another movie to add to my list of formulaic underground fighting movies that I found pretty enjoyable. It’s produced by the company Tapout, and to be honest I don’t 100% know what Tapout is, but this definitely seems like a movie aimed at the people who wear their t-shirts. It’s about small town working class folks who drive gigantic pickup trucks and only care about cage fighting. They all have some sort of tragic past involving a dead and/or abusive parent, which they talk alot about. The soundtrack is all a type of rock music that makes me cringe with embarrassment, but I can acknowledge that it might sound good to the target audience. It’s a little weird though when a singer is wailing and grunting about “a wildfire in the streets” over a scene that takes place in a barn.

It’s the story of Brandon, a young underground fighter whose brother gets murdered and gangsters tell him he has a week to fulfill a $60,000 debt. There’s no way he can do that so he decides to get away from it all. He gets on his motorcycle, participates in a driving montage, and ends up at his dad (Danny Trejo)’s trailer in some hick town outside of Austin.

I’ve been systematically going through every movie of this type even if I know nothing about them or their stars. It took a bit before I realized that Brandon was played by Rudy Youngblood, the star of APOCALYPTO. Did you know he got an action vehicle after that? I like that. (read the rest of this shit…)

Los Locos: Posse Rides Again

Monday, September 21st, 2015

tn_loslocosOkay, 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…)

Desperado

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

tn_desperado

RELEASE DATE: August 16th
RELEASE DATE: August 25th

DESPERADO is my favorite Robert Rodriguez movie. People will always say the scrappy, home-made, subtitled EL MARIACHI is better, and a strong argument could be made for FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, with its Tarantino script and movie-star-making performance by George Clooney. But to me DESPERADO is his purest expression, the full enthusiasm of a young, hungry Hollywood rookie high on spaghetti westerns, John Woo and what his new friend QT was up to, fired into a full-blooded action movie uniquely based in Mexican culture.

The Tarantino influence shows in the talky opening with Steve Buscemi as the Mariachi’s hype man/street team, loudly telling tall tales about him in a bar, and in the scene where Tarantino himself plays a criminal telling a long-winded joke about peeing. But otherwise this has an identity very different from the wave of ’90s crime films, one that’s more visual and musical. He uses lots of slo-mo and dissolve edits working in tandem with a driving Latin rock score by Los Lobos. This is just one example of how the fresh Hollywood hotshot used his newfound resources while insisting on doing it his way. Another is the casting of the leads. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bullet

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

tn_bulletIn BULLET, Danny Trejo plays Frank “Bullet” Marasco, who’s in the drug industry with Max Perlich and gets caught and kills two cops. Or the opening scene says so anyway, but I read the box and it said he was playing a cop. Weird.

In the next scene he’s a cage fighter. It’s kinda funny in this day and age to see Trejo do fight scenes, because you expect a guy to do some moves, but he’s just a puncher like Charles Bronson. His opponent Jake the Tank says he has business to settle with him from San Quentin, but luckily Trejo gets in a good one and KO’s him. Very luckily, because Jake is played by mixed martial arts legend Kimo Leopoldo, the guy who carried a full-sized cross on his back when he entered the ring at UFC 3. I think it was genuinely meant as an expression of his Christianity, but it’s also a pretty good way to psyche out your opponent. I am about to fight a crazy motherfucker who carried a cross to the ring. After a long battle Kimo lost to UFC 1-2 champion Royce Gracie, but he wore him out so bad Gracie had to drop out of the tournament. No such problem for Bullet. Bullet probly could’ve been UFC champion I bet, but he’s too busy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Maniac Cop 2

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

tn_maniaccop2Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon return for the bigger, I think better MANIAC COP 2. I guess it had a bigger budget than the first one and it has a more confident, cinematic feel. Hats off to cinematographer James Lemmo (who also did the first one, MS. 45, VIGILANTE and THE GLADIATOR) for his deliberate, ominous pans through New York City locations. There’s even a great opening credits sequence designed by Pablo Ferro (DR. STRANGELOVE) that really establishes the mood as the camera glides across a police impound lot and the remains of the vehicle involved in the climax of part 1.

This is maybe 2 weeks later, when Jack (Campbell) has been cleared of the murders but is trying to get back on the force. I’m a little confused because there’s a new captain and reference to the previous one being dead, but for some reason the commissioner, played by Michael Lerner (BARTON FINK) instead of Richard Roundtree, and given a different name, is treated as the guy who’s always been there. He sends Jack and Theresa (Landon) to police psychologist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian, HALF PAST DEAD), which is also where a new character, Detective Sean “Mac” McKinney, ends up after shooting a suspect. (He didn’t kill him, but only because he says it’s too much paperwork.)
(read the rest of this shit…)

In the Blood

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

tn_inthebloodI heard so much trash talked about Gina Carano vehicle #2, IN THE BLOOD, that I was scared off from watching it on VOD. And it’s true that there’s plenty wrong with it, especially as a followup to Steve Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE.

#1 problem for alot of people: director John Stockwell (UNDER COVER, BLUE CRUSH) isn’t as meticulous about massaging a performance out of veteran fighter, recent actor Carano as Soderbergh was, so there are some pretty stiff line readings. In one scene she even says she’s from “Cuh-NECK-ticut,” not a regionally accurate pronunciation in my opinion. But as a fan of Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, early Van Damme, Daniel Bernhardt, Gary Daniels, Olivier Gruner, early Dolph, etc. this is not a problem to me at all, and seems like kind of a complaint for action movie lightweights.

The main complaint for people of our ilk, that will go unnoticed by normal people, is that the fights are short and over-edited. The hits feel hard, the camera’s not that shaky and most of the framing is okay, but it’s another one hit = one cut movie. Why directors don’t think it’s worth the effort to stage a bunch of moves – or shit, at least two moves – in a row is beyond me, especially since Stockwell is on the public record as having seen and enjoyed HAYWIRE. He seems to take some influence in how to portray Carano as a scary asskicker (even re-using the gag where she calls her betrayer on the guy she just killed’s phone), but little in the clean-as-a-whistle action filmatism that is HAYWIRE’s bread and butter. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

tn_badass2“Let’s go get those sonofabitches.”

BAD ASS 2 is the sequel to a DTV movie I almost forgot about, the one where they bought the life story rights to a mentally ill Vietnam vet who punched out a guy in a racial incident on a bus in a famous Youtube video and turned him into a heroic vigilante played by Danny Trejo. For part 2 they ditch the true story claims, but do have one in-joke reference to the video (a guy pronounces “ambulance” weird). The adventures continue for Trejo’s character Frank Vega, so I guess he’s Buford Pusser for the internet age.

This is three years later and Vega is settled in to a more normal life training boxers, with one particularly promising student Manny (Jeremy Ray Valdez) who is “almost like a son” to him and is about to have his first pro fight tomorrow. This will shock you to your very core and make you question everything you’ve ever believed, but the kid has gotten involved with some drug dealers who say he’s stealing and they murder him but the cops aren’t gonna do anything so Vega has to track them down and, I don’t know, trick them into getting on a bus so he can punch them, or whatever he does. (read the rest of this shit…)