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Posts Tagged ‘DTV’

The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

tn_substitute4By part 4 the SUBSTITUTE series is almost entirely divorced from the theatrical original. It’s the only one not written by Rocco Simonelli and Roy Frumkes – this time it’s Dan Gurskis, who apparently did an uncredited rewrite on part 3. It’s Treat Williams as Karl Thomasson again, but he’s not even really an undercover substitute. He discusses it that way, but really he’s given the job of history teacher at a military academy under slightly sneaky but not really clandestine circumstances. He’s not THE SUBSTITUTE anymore, he’s THE NEW TEACHER.

For once he’s not on a mission on behalf of a teacher – this time an old general friend is worried about his nephew at this academy, and is sending in a team to check things out. He was right to be worried because the head of the academy, Colonel Brack (Patrick Kilpatrick), is an open white supremacist maniac who’s training an elite corp of neo-nazis called “The Werewolves” and sending them on terrorist bombings of minority owned power plants (?). (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 Substitute 3: Winner Takes All

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

tn_substitute3THE SUBSTITUTE 3 is much shittier than the previous ones, but still fun because I like the Thomasson character and because of the goofy way returning writers Frumke & Simonelli and new director Robert Radler (BEST OF THE BEST 1-2, various POWER RANGERS episodes) decided to mix things up (hint: more white people). It opens with Thomasson (still Treat Williams) a prisoner in Kosovo. His partner (David Jensen) is tortured nearly to death, but still jokes that he tipped them for their troubles. Before escaping captivity Thomasson has to put the poor guy out of his misery and make a promise to deliver a message to his daughter (Rebecca Staab). (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 Substitute 2: School’s Out

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

tn_substitute2I was concerned about THE SUBSTITUE 2: SCHOOL’S OUT because it substitutes Treat Williams for Tom Berenger. What kind of a trade is that? And when will Tom Berenger get healthy enough to come back? That’s why despite being Mr. DTV Sequel I avoided this movie for years.

Don’t get me wrong – Treat Williams has his place. But it’s not behind Tom Berenger’s desk. Berenger was so good in the first one with his gruff voice and scarred face. Williams is more of a pretty boy nerd with a squeaky, whiny voice. I couldn’t see how it would work.

Well, duh – by having him play a different character. That was a relief to find out. Not a relief on the level of “phew, the MRI shows I don’t have M.S.,” but still a relief My pre-judgment of Treat Williams was off-base. I really like him in this movie.

It turns out Shale and Jane joined the Peace Corps and went to teach in Costa Rica. (I guess he was just fucking around at the end of part 1 when he said he wanted to go to L.A. to teach. Or maybe this is a tribute to the way DEATH WISH 2 refuses to follow the sequel setup from the end of part 1.) (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.

Vern predicts BLOOD AND BONE will be this year’s best picture (direct-to-video category)

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

tn_bloodandboneLadies and gentlemen (although, let’s be honest, mostly gentlemen around here), Michael Jai White has arrived. He has officially gone from “promising” to fully formed action icon. He has earned the right to just be referred to as MJW and have everybody know what it means. It doesn’t matter that Hollywood hasn’t figured out to build movies around him like they do with Jason Statham, that Sly didn’t think to make him an Expendable, that Marvel Comics hasn’t lined up some super hero for him to play. He’s sick of waiting so he’s just taking it.

I believe come this Fall many of you will agree with me on this, and even for those already on board his status in your internal action hero rankings will be elevated. In October you’ll get to see him in the very entertaining blaxploitation homage BLACK DYNAMITE, where he gets to show both his badass presence and his previously untapped comedy chops. That’s a long time from now but you’ll only have to wait until September 15th to see him in a serious DTV action vehicle called BLOOD AND BONE. (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 Art of War III: Retribution

Monday, August 10th, 2009

tn_artofwariiiWhen you get to part 3 in a trilogy there’s a big risk of blowing everything. You have to continue with what people loved about the first two but with more risk than before of feeling like we’ve been there, done that. You might need to introduce something fresh, but then you risk the audience rejecting the new shit. But more importantly you just have to make a solid movie, you can’t get lazy or arrogant or lose sight of what your series is about. If you slip up a little bit moviegoers will want your head – it happened with SPIDER-MAN 3, X-MEN 3, GODFATHER 3, BLADE 3, HELLRAISER 3, CHILD’S PLAY 3. It’s alot of pressure, but it’s not impossible. Every once in a while you get a part 3 that really delivers or even improves on the ones before it, like RETURN OF THE KING or REVENGE OF THE SITH in my opinion or HARRY POTTER 3 which is still the best of the series.

None of this is relevant here though because this is part 3 in the ART OF WAR series. (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.

Command Performance

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

tn_commandperformanceNote: I sent this in to Ain’t It Cool last night but they didn’t post it, so what the hell, outlawvern.com exclusive. I’d kind of feel bad posting it there anyway because it’s not a very positive review and I don’t want to bum everybody out. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do I guess.

In COMMAND PERFORMANCE, director/co-writer Mr. Dolph Lundgren also steps out from behind the camera to star as the hero Joe. He’s just a regular guy, your usual American biker who hates guns and lives in Moscow and plays drums for a band called CMF who are opening for an American pop singer performing for the Russian president and his daughters when they’re taken hostage by vengeful terrorists and has to save the day. In other words, DIE HARD in a rock concert, with Dolph Lundgren on drums.

I know there are a contingent of you out there who are as excited for this one as I was. It’s the most anticipated DTV movie of the year besides the Scott Adkins/Isaac Florentine joint NINJA. So it kills me to say this but I don’t think COMMAND PERFORMANCE is one of Dolph’s better efforts. (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.

Men of War

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

tn_menofwarMEN OF WAR is a Dolph Lundgren mercenaries-on-a-mission movie. In the surprisingly atmospheric opening Lundgren’s ex-Special Forces character Gunar is hanging out on the streets of Chicago, wearing a hat he could wear if the movie was set during the Depression, his breath showing in the cold air. Some tough guy rudely tells him to talk to somebody, gesturing to a limo. “In the back seat?” Gunar asks and when the answer is yes he bashes the guy’s head through the backseat window and leans in to talk to the passenger. So you don’t have to wait too long for the movie’s declaration of badass intent. (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.

Vern makes DIRECT CONTACT with Dolph Lundgren!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

tn_directcontactDIRECT CONTACT is the new Dolph Lundgren DTV movie directed by Danny Lerner (SHARKS IN VENICE) and written by Les Weldon (RAGING SHARKS). It comes out in the US on Tuesday and has already been released in Thailand, Kuwait, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.When we first meet Dolph as Mike Riggins, life is not the best. #1, he lives in a Balkan prison. #2, he owes a bunch of gangsters money, and some guy spits in his food, so he has to fight everybody and stab a dude in the eyeball. #3, the screws come in and club him like a baby seal. #4, he gets put in solitary. #5, when he pukes up blood a rat comes over and starts eating it.

On the other hand, it’s kind of a cute rat eating the blood he puked up. Not RATATOUILLE cute, but he doesn’t look like he has fleas. Well-groomed. So it could be worse. (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.

Vern Has Seen The New Seagal, DRIVEN TO KILL!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

First of all, let’s be honest: no Steven Seagal character really has to be “driven” into killing. He’s never gonna play a peaceful guy living an uneventful life as a librarian or a computer consultant who one day is forced by circumstances to tap into a savage side of himself he never knew existed. That’s just not a Seagal character type. True, in MARKED FOR DEATH he states an explicit isolationist philosophy to Keith David and only starts killing a few minutes later when his sister’s house gets shot up by gangsters. But even in that one he’s already done a whole bunch of killing earlier in life without necessarily being driven into it. He’s never just an ordinary non-violent guy at the beginning of a movie.

And especially in this one, because although he is a very successful crime writer under the name Jim Vincent, everybody knows he’s actually Ruslan (no last name, like Prince, McG or Vern), former Russian gangster. In a rare visual change to the iconic persona, Seagal sports MARK OF CAIN style tattoos on his forearms. There’s a nice badass moment when some young guys are pushing him around, he breaks a glass on one guy’s head and then pulls up his sleeves. The other guy just about shits his pants before he starts apologizing. (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.

Mission of Justice

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

tn_missionofjusticeHey, it’s another one from the VHS pile. Recently some of my fellow Seattle-based action fans asked me if I’d do an interview for their podcast, “Stack of Dimes.” I don’t really like to be interviewed so I weaseled out of it, but I still listened to some of their episodes to see what it was all about.

They’re really into Van Damme and mixed martial arts and stuff like that. They make fun of Seagal a little, but you can tell that’s one of their favorite types of movies. “JD” was the guy who contacted me, but his co-host “Thunder” keeps mentioning this DTV kickboxer guy called Jeff Wincott, and in the latest episode they actually scored an interview with him. I really wasn’t familiar with this guy and of course I’m always trying to expand my horizons and enjoy the vast spectrum of everything available, all the way from Van Damme to Jeff Wincott. The movie they talked about most in the interview is called MISSION OF JUSTICE, so I decided that would be a good one to start with.

Man, how did I miss this one before? I mean I’m not sure it’s rocketing to the top of my list, but it’s probaly gonna be scribbled somewhere in the margins of the list at the very least. It’s kind of like a really good Dudikoff movie that occasionally reaches for STONE COLD level awesome. It’s got quite a collection of the great action movie tropes: stumbling across a liquor store robbery, cop who gives up his badge, partner who risks her job to help him continue his investigation, undercover infiltration of a mysterious organization, evil person pretending to be good to run for mayor (Brigitte Nielsen!), best friend murdered, chop shop, nice grandma who you just know is gonna get murdered, incriminating video tape… (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.