“Viggo Mortensen is… AMERICAN YAKUZA.” That’s what it says on the trailer. This is a rare early Viggo lead role and it’s pretty much a straight up action/crime movie. In the tradition of AMERICAN NINJA, AMERICAN KICKBOXER, AMERICAN SAMURAI and AMERICAN BEAUTY, Viggo is an American white guy who earns the trust and acceptance of the Yakuza, complementing their traditions and rituals with his own American spirit. When they drink sake he drinks Bud Light or Wild Turkey. But don’t worry man, he’s cool. I’ll explain. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘DTV’
All I wanted for Christmas was NINJ*. But it doesn’t come out in the US until March, so I ordered it from Thailand. It’s a Christmas miracle!
Over the last year or so, while sci-fi nerds all over the world were dreaming of the possibilities of AVATAR, a much smaller, more specialized band of connoisseurs – DTV action fans – were dreaming of NINJ*. It showed promise because of three reasons:
1. Isaac Florentine. The Israeli martial artist turned filmatist is the only reliable DTV auteur I know of. His movies usually have a fun tone and always have great, well-staged fights with energetic camera movements (and sound effects whenever somebody moves their arm or turns their head). He’s made distinctive vehicles for Dolph (BRIDGE OF DRAGONS), Michael Jai White (UNDISPUTED II) and Van Damme (THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL – although he disowned that one. But I liked it.). (read the rest of this shit…)
Once every 7 years, in a different town each time, high stakes gamblers run a secret competition where the world’s greatest assassins all try to kill each other and the last one standing gets ten million dollars. With that premise and generic title this doesn’t sound like the kind of DTV I would like. And with Ving Rhames and Robert Carlyle starring I have to wonder if this was intended for theatrical release, which could also be a bad sign. We don’t want another EDISON FORCE on our hands. But the great Scott Adkins (UNDISPUTED II, SPECIAL FORCES, etc.) is in this so I’d been keeping my eye out ever since I spotted it on his IMDb page. It was released by the fucking Weinsteins with their pain in the ass exclusive deals (how the fuck do I get my friend to watch MARTYRS if he can’t find it anywhere?) so I didn’t know it came out until I got some emails about it. Two different people said it was even better than BLOOD AND BONE, which I’d pre-emptively declared best DTV action movie of the year. (read the rest of this shit…)
By 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…)
THE 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…)
I 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…)
Ladies 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…)
When 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…)
Note: 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…)
MEN 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…)