I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘Fred Williamson’

Check Point

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

I don’t think any of you would disagree that I’ve been neglectful of DTV action lately. I’ll always try to see the new Scott Adkins and what not but I don’t get down in the dirt like I used to. I mean I’m proud of the other stuff I write about, but I do have some concerns about the state of my mojo. And to be honest I’ve been feeling a little down worrying that too many of my proudest moments are now associated with skeezy people. It’s like, I mention the guy I wrote a book about, the websight I started out at, the place where I did my first public appearance, I gotta distance myself from three different sexual harassment scandals. And as I’m about to post this I just found out about allegations against an iconic hero for most of us around here, and it’s absolutely crushing me.

I’m gonna have to start hiring detectives to do background checks on these people before I start writing books on them. Pretty soon the fictional characters in my novel are gonna turn out to have secrets. I’m gonna have to write strictly about inanimate objects, because people always turn out to be creeps.

I know it’s more important to expose scumbags than to make sure I feel good about my legacy, but it’s kind of a bummer. So while I process all this I’ve decided to put more effort toward seeing probly-gonna-be-shitty-but-hopefully-not DTV/VOD type action movies like I used to, to see if it brings me back to full strength.

So far the results are inconclusive. I started with CHECK POINT, a film from this year, directed by Thomas J. Churchill (LAZARUS: APOCALYPSE). I chose it based on the following signs of b-action legitimacy in the cast: professional wrestler (Bill Goldberg), horror star (Kane Hodder), professional wrestler turned horror star (Tyler Mane), blaxploitation icon (Fred Williamson) and great character actor (William Forsythe). The lead turns out to be Kenny Johnson, who I assumed was also a wrestler because in close-up he looks kinda like present day Mickey Rourke, but in fact he’s an actor who I would’ve recognized if I watched The Shield or Sons of Anarchy. (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.

Blackjack (second review)

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

tn_blackjack“Okay, I understand that, but Jack you need to realize that your sunglasses are the only protection you have from all the white out there.”

woozoneusaBIt wasn’t part of the original plan, but as I was re-watching the American John Woo movies I realized I had to revisit this 1998 USA Networks TV movie (and unfulfilled backdoor pilot), even though I did an okay job reviewing it long ago. I’ve recently had good luck recommending it to a couple people who never heard of it, but I hadn’t seen it myself in 11 years. Fortunately this thing (shot right after FACE/OFF) holds up as an absurd and entertaining Dolph Lundgren vehicle that transcends its cheapo format.

Dolph plays Jack Devlin, a world class bodyguard who seems to work out of Reno. In the opening he agrees to a favor for an old friend who owns a casino and needs him to protect his little girl Casey (Padraigin Murphy) from the mob. She calls him “Uncle Jack,” which I took literally this time, but my research tells me that they’re not actually related.

It goes down kind like in TAKEN, where the kids get to Europe and are immediately kidnapped. Here gunmen arrive about 30 seconds after Jack walks into the house with Casey. He’s checking the rooms upstairs when they come in. (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.

Boss

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Don’t worry, this is the last of the pre-DJANGO slavery-themed reviews. I don’t want to ruin Christmas or anything, but I gotta finish the trilogy.

BOSS was originally called BOSS [word white people shouldn’t say], but it was easy to change to just BOSS and therefore it’s the only one of the Charley trilogy available on a legitimate DVD. In this one it’s still Fred Williamson as Charley, but he’s just called “Boss.” (Or maybe “Bas” like Bas Rutten?) And D’Urville Martin is still his sidekick but he’s called “Amos” instead of Toby. Maybe it’s an alias. At this point they’ve left behind their town in Mexico and are traveling bounty hunters. But it definitely is meant as a sequel because Williamson says so on a title card added to the DVD where he explains why he approves of the use of the n-word in the title, dialogue and theme song. (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 Soul of (hahem) Charley

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The first sequel to THE LEGEND OF (cough cough) CHARLEY is the best of the series in my opinion. It takes place after the Civil War, so Charley is no longer a runaway slave, but he still has to deal with racists, including a former Confederate colonel who still leads his troop of assholes on violent rampages in black settlements.

Charley (still Fred Williamson) and Toby (still D’urville Martin) come across one of these towns right after everyone’s been massacred except for a little boy. By this time Charley is such a legend that the kid can’t believe he’s meeting him, it’s like he gets to hang out with Mohammad Ali. Or Fred Williamson.

(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 Legend of (word white people shouldn’t say) Charley

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I’ve been curious about this series of Fred Williamson slavery-era westerns, and with DJANGO UNCHAINED coming at the end of the month it seemed like a good time to finally get to them.

As the old white patriarch of a plantation is on his death bed he wants to free his favorite slave, who took good care of him. She says she’s too old to start a new life and asks him instead to free her son, Charley (Fred Williamson). Charley works as a blacksmith, which makes me think this was probly one of the inspirations for THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. But unfortunately he never uses his ironworking skills as a free man, not even in the sequels.
(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.

Shadow Fury

Saturday, August 28th, 2010
"I can give a shit about clones!"
“I can give a shit about clones!”

SHADOW FURY is a cheap-ass 2001 sci-fi action movie about clones. It has one of those inexcusable keyboard-pretending-to-be-an-orchestra scores and the acting and dialogue are at higher cheesiness levels than I’ll usually put up with, i.e. worse than a SCANNERS sequel. But I really liked this movie because it rarely goes more than a couple minutes without a really cool action scene, a clever concept or a (usually unintentional) laugh. It has a similar energy to an early Isaac Florentine, so it fits that the director, Makoto Yokoyama, did second unit and stunts for the Power Rangers. An IMDb search finds 7 specific episodes directed by Florentine with Yokoyama on 2nd unit. So let’s call him the 2nd unit Florentine. (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.

Johnny Pate-a-thon

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

tn_pateIn case you’ve had your fill of straight-to-video action and shit, I’ll give you an alternative. Today we’re having a triple-feature of ’70s blaxploitation movies with scores by Johnny Pate. You know, I’m trying to find one of those real accessible topics everybody can relate to.

Johnny Pate is a Chicago-born bassist and arranger. He says his first and biggest love is jazz, but to me he’s a legend because of his comparatively brief detour into R&B in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He worked with many Chicago labels of that era but most notably alongside the one and only Curtis Mayfield – Pate was an arranger for the Impressions and for Mayfield’s label, Curtom.

I’m not as detail-oriented about music as I am about movies, so I probaly wouldn’t know about Johnny Pate except that I happened to pick up his 1970 funk instrumentals album “Outrageous” when it was reissued last year by Dusty Groove. Then I found out he scored SHAFT IN AFRICA so I finally got around to watching those sequels and loved them. At least half of my love for blaxploitation movies comes from the music, and of course SUPERFLY and SHAFT are the two most legendary blaxploitation soundtracks. Here’s a guy who kind of connects them together – he arranged Superfly for Mayfield, he scored the third SHAFT movie, and even played with the original Isaac Hayes SHAFT themes when he scored the short-lived (and not on DVD) SHAFT tv 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.

Black Caesar

Monday, February 12th, 2007

In my opinion BLACK CAESAR is one of my favorite blaxploitation movies. It’s got a good story and direction (by Larry Cohen), a badass soundtrack (by James Brown) and a super badass lead (Fred Williamson). Fred plays a cruel motherfucker, sort of a Scarface type anti-hero, but makes him mostly sympathetic.

You already know the movie is good at the beginning because it has such a good and unusual opening. Fred’s character Tommy Gibbs is a kid (played by some young guy, don’t worry it’s not Fred wearing a beanie or nothin) working as a shoe shine boy.

There’s a nervous white man in a suit, looking over his shoulder, but Tommy convinces him to get a quick shine. Suddenly a scary mafia dude comes out with a gun and the whitey tries to run. But Tommy holds onto his shoe. After the dude is dead, Tommy meets up with the mafia dude in an alley. He gets his payment and also gets to hold the murder weapon and check it out. This kid may have some problems, is the idea. (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.

Blackjack

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Recently I reviewed RED SCORPION and I talked about The Enigma of Dolph Lundgren. The enigma is that this guy who I’m betting is fascinating in real life (he’s a big muscleman martial artist who does dumb action movies, but he’s highly educated) has almost no presence in movies. Well after seeing this topnotch John Woo TV movie I take it back. It turns out when he’s not pretending to be Russian he’s got all kinds of charisma.

I know this is made for TV, not video, but it’s exactly the kind of gem I’m looking for when a dig through all this crap. A ridiculous, enjoyable and unusual action movie. The main reason it’s unusual is that Dolph Lundgren’s character is afraid of the color white. (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.

Vigilante

Tuesday, May 18th, 2004

I don’t know how familiar anybody is with William Lustig. The guy is no genius. He made the MANIAC COP series. He made the picture UNCLE SAM which is a decent holiday slasher picture with subversive Gulf War themes, but it’s kind of a bummer because there is almost no use of stilts after the initial appearance of the Uncle Sam costume in a parade. Anyway after many years of directing bad horror pictures this guy started that company Anchor Bay which put out alot of better ones on video and DVD.

But there are some pretty good ones in his filmography, especially the first one, MANIAC. That was a sleazy, brutal horror picture about a sweaty New York pervert who kills women, staples their scalps to a mannequin, handcuffs himself to the mannequin and cries. Then during the daytime he puts on shades and tries to make it as a hip fashion photographer. It’s a real sick movie with ridiculous gore effects by Mr. Tom Savini. Not recommended for anybody unless they like that kind of crap, which in this case I do. (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.