So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘Darren Shahlavi’

Kickboxer: Vengeance

Monday, September 5th, 2016

tn_kickboxervengeanceIn this age of reboots one thing I didn’t see coming was a respectful attempt to resurrect the magic of KICKBOXER. Produced by Cannon when Jean-Claude Van Damme was still a new star, the original is a seminal film in the foundation of the western-star martial arts movie. Part of the beauty of the era it helped ignite was its disposability; there was such a hunger for this stuff on VHS that they kept churning out KICKBOXERs and BLOODSPORTs and BLOODFISTs with whatever Next Jean-Claude Van Damme they could get. And the combination of these basic story formulas and the appeal of seeing thick-accented martial artists try to act cool between flying kicks made for many enjoyable evenings for people all around the world.

Things have changed. Far fewer straight up action movies are made than in the ’80s and ’90s, and viewing them is not as common of a ritual for young people growing up. The fringe market of DTV has mostly shifted to VOD, a riskier business model since people actually have to watch the movies for them to make money. So, weirdly, this new KICKBOXER (released to VOD on Friday) was made with care, in hopes of people liking it. You can tell they’re genuinely trying to recapture what was fun about those movies, but in a modern context – by which I only mean it has nice digital cinematography of sunny Thailand and many of the opponents are played by famous UFC fighters. (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.

Tomorrowland

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

tn_tomorrowlandWalt Disney himself is never seen or mentioned in TOMORROWLAND, but it’s a fantasy adventure based on his belief in the future as a place of infinite promise and wonder and shit. It’s a story about kids finding a secret hidden city founded by great visionaries of the past (Edison, Verne [not me, the other one], Tesla, the guy that invented the Etch-a-sketch I think) as a hope for a better world. It’s all glorious curvy buildings, flying monorails, friendly robots and floating swimming pools.

One kid named Frank (Thomas Robinson as the kid version of George Clooney) goes there to try out his home-made jetpack. Another named Casey (Britt Robertson, SCREAM 4) is intrigued by their space program. The crew she sees going on a spaceship are young enough to be dropped off by their parents. At least half of them are women and I think only one white kid. The movie’s dedication to diversity and internationalism seems very of-the-moment, but it also relates to one of Tomorrowland’s secret entrances: inside the original 1964 World’s Fair version of It’s a Small World. Wait a minute, It’s a Small World is in Fantasyland, not Tomorrowland. Get your fuckin geography straight, Hollywood. (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.

Pound of Flesh teaser

Friday, January 30th, 2015

It sounds like this trailer is not officially complete or something like that, but it looks great. I knew this was the title of an upcoming Van Damme picture but did not realize it represented such an excellent variation on the you took my daughter/son/elephant type premise. Also it looks like a high level of fighting for modern JCVD and his first use of the splits in a long time.

You may also notice that the late Darren Shahlavi is in there. I’m not sure if he’s playing a bad guy or the bad guy. IMDb lists him second so I bet it is one of the leads and not a henchman.

The director is Ernie Barbarash, whose last movie was the enjoyable FALCON RISING with Michael Jai White. With Van Damme he has done ASSASSINATION GAMES and 6 BULLETS. Fight choreographer John Salvitti is a long time Donnie Yen collaborator going back to IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4 and up to last year’s KUNG FU JUNGLE. He even helped out on BLADE II.

UPDATE: The original trailer I posted was taken down by the producers. I’ve replaced it with the newly released official trailer, which doesn’t make it that clear that it’s about him trying to get his stolen kidney back, and doesn’t have the impressive splits-related money shot that was in the other one (even though it ends with the same scene). Seems like a weird marketing choice to me to try to stop anybody from seeing the trailer that makes it look good, but this will all be moot once we get to see the movie.

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.

Darren Shahlavi

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

shahlavi
I’m afraid it is being reported that Darren Shahlavi, the martial artist best known for playing Twister, the arrogant villain of IP MAN 2, has died. I haven’t found any explanation of a cause of death or confirmation from a news organization, but several people who have worked with Shahlavi, including Jesse V. Johnson (who directed him in THE PACKAGE) seem to believe it’s true. Shahlavi was quite active on Twitter, so I imagine if it was a hoax he would’ve seen it and cleared it up by now.

Fans of DTV and late period Seagal would recognize Shahlavi even if they didn’t know his name. He was in BORN TO RAISE HELL, TACTICAL FORCE and episodes of True Justice. He played Kano in the newer incarnation of MORTAL KOMBAT, and also was in an old movie called LETHAL COMBAT, where he played… Twister? I didn’t know that.

He had been filming the new KICKBOXER movie (possibly called KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE now, but I think it’s still a remake). He plays Eric Sloane, who in the original was Van Damme’s brother who got paralyzed in the ring by Tong Po so he had to get revenge for him.

I learned to get excited whenever Shahlavi showed up in a movie, usually as a smug bad guy. I really did believe he was on the rise. He will be missed.

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.

The Marine 3: Homefront

Monday, April 29th, 2013

tn_marine3You guys know I’ve always rooted for the movies carrying the prestigious WWE Films banner. I gave the rare rave review of their dumb slasher movie SEE NO EVIL (9% on Rotten Tomatoes), even got quoted by the producer on a commentary track. I wrote that the Triple-H/Parker Posey team in INSIDE OUT might be “this generation’s William Powell and Myrna Loy”. I loved THE MARINE 2 and labelled it one of the few DTV sequels superior to a theatrical original. They were starting to have a really good track record there.

Now I’m a little concerned because it seems like WWE Films is trying to get out of the making-WWE-films business. First they started picking up non-wrestling, independent features to distribute (THE DAY), then they put out two wide theatrical releases, DEAD MAN DOWN and THE CALL, that star Oscar nominees/winners instead of wrestlers. I mean I want to see both movies – they’re from pretty interesting directors, the first looks good and the other looks funny-bad – but I don’t like it. Yeah, so what if Cartoon Network has live action shows and MTV doesn’t play M anymore? Other people will make movies starring Halle Berry, I promise you. WWE should only have her in a buddy cop movie with The Undertaker.

(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.

The Package (2013)

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

tn_packageTHE PACKAGE continues two DTV trends that I enjoy:

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin, possible heir to the DTV throne, co-starring with all the other icons of the DTV Action Era. This is his Dolph Lundgren movie. Previously he did his Michael Jai White movie TACTICAL FORCE, his Danny Trejo movie RECOIL and his Steven Seagal movie MAXIMUM CONVICTION. He’s still got to do a Van Damme, an Adkins and a Cuba Gooding Jr.

2. Dolph doing colorful supporting roles where he gets to goof around more. He also stole the show in ONE IN THE CHAMBER and THE EXPENDABLESes and I haven’t seen STASH HOUSE or SMALL APARTMENTS but I bet it’s true of those too. Maybe all these roles where he gets to experiment more will bring something new to him next time he’s the leading man again. (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.

Tactical Force

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

tn_tacticalforceLike STONE COLD or COBRA, TACTICAL FORCE begins with our cop heroes using excessive force to stop an armed robbery at a grocery store. Unlike those movies it has no style and feels amateurish. I was already losing hope even before Steve Austin and Michael Jai White drove up in a SWAT truck together and didn’t look cool. That’s two of my favorite guys right now, I never expected to see them do a movie together, and you give them an entrance like this? I’m sorry, I know you need to protect the head, but Michael Jai looks goofy wearing that big ass helmet. Let him be fake for a second so he can start the movie looking cool. (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.

Born To Raise Hell

Monday, January 10th, 2011

tn_borntoraisehellIn BORN TO RAISE HELL Steven Seagal plays a commanding officer in the International Drug Task Force, a cooperative agency set up after 9-11 because like those ads say the drugs fund the terrorists. This is also a handy way for Seagal to use what he’s been learning as a deputy sheriff in New Orleans in a movie but then film it in Eastern Europe. His character’s partner was killed six months ago (no need for a flashback, they just tell us this) so I guess he’s out for justice or something. It’s not real clear.

While BORN TO RAISE HELL lacks the toughness and entertainment value of URBAN JUSTICE and PISTOL WHIPPED, it’s a little more memorable than most of the recent Seagal pictures, because he seems to care a little more. Admittedly there are some awkward voiceovers (I’m torn on whether it’s dubbed by a double or if it’s his own voice sped up to sound ridiculous), some of the dreaded avid farts and a scene where they use 6 cuts just showing a dude walking 10 feet from his car to talk to a guy. On the other hand Seagal is the sole credited writer and the movie definitely incorporates his recent hobby of taking part in drug raids and some of his beloved themes of brotherhood and redemption and what not.
(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.

Ip Man 2

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

tn_ipman2Ever since the runaway Hong-Kong-equivalent-of-best-picture-Oscar success of the Donnie-Yen-starring biopic IP MAN in 2008, Ip-Mania has swept the globe. In the U.S. it’s quickly become one of the most popular martial arts imports since ONG BAK, and this year will have its own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (at least I assume so. I sent them several letters demanding that). in Hong Kong it already has a (unrelated?) prequel and this very good sequel from returning director Wilson Yip.

IP MAN was very episodic and ended early in Ip Man’s life, so there was a natural opening to continue the story. But the movie had such a perfect blend of character drama and martial arts action that it’s alot to live up to. And in recent years the sequels to the international action phenomenons have been pretty iffy. I enjoyed ONG BAK 2, but it’s a big mess that lost alot of people, and I ahven’t heard anything good about part 3 yet. DISTRICT B13 ULTIMATUM was watchable but completely underwhelming. So this was far from a sure thing. There’s curses to overcome.
(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.

Watchmen

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

tn_watchmenCOMIC CON EXCLUSIVE:

VERN HAS SEEN THE WATCHMEN DVD

(that came out last week)

My fellow Watchmaniacs: People like me and you, being huge comics book “geeks” and true fans for life, we could tell each other exactly where we were the first time we saw those historic Watchman comic strips in 1986, when they exploded onto the scene just like the explosion that happens at the end that Doctor Manhattan was blamed for or whatever it was that happened at the end. I remember LA Law had just debuted on TV, and Pinochet had escaped assassination in Chile. CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD was capturing the national consciousness. I was wearing an anti-Khadafi novelty t-shirt, listening to Falco on my Walkman tape and solving a Rubik’s cube when my eyes first fell upon its graphic novel cover at the graphic novel stand. And remember you were there too and we looked at each other like “uh huh” and we nodded because after seeing all those adventures that the Watchmen were having and everything, you knew this was history, this was the motherfuckin Hindenburg exploding into the moon on top of JFK’s motorcade. (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.