"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Dacascos’

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Friday, May 17th, 2019

I don’t want to raise anyone’s expectations too high. I know some are saying JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARABELLUM is fun but lesser, and that could very well end up being the conventional wisdom. In my mind, though, it’s more than that. It’s an outstanding achievement, a new action classic that outdoes the excellent CHAPTER 2 in both garish spectacle and elaboration on the strange mythology of this secret world of elite assassins.

Like all JOHN WICK movies, it’s full of things you never knew you needed to see, things that are ludicrous, but treated with knowing seriousness, increasing their level of awesomeness. For example, you know that cliche where a character you like gets shot and drops to the ground and you have to wait and hope for the reveal that they were saved by a bullet proof vest? That happens with a dog.

And what about John Wick walking through a desert, but dressed like John Wick? If James Bond goes out into the desert – hell, even if Batman does – he wears different gear. But there is no Desert Action John Wick. When he treks through Moroccan sand dunes he wears the same suit and tie we just saw him wearing in a New York downpour. I suppose maybe he cancelled his debit card when he came back and doesn’t know how to buy new clothes without access to his usual services. But I think it’s more because he’s an icon. That’s his uniform. That’s John Wick. And because director Chad Stahelski knows it’s surreal to see this guy in drastically different settings across the world without changing his blood-stained clothes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Alien Agent

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

ALIEN AGENT is a 2007 made-for-Sy-Fy collaboration between Mark Dacascos and director Jesse V. Johnson. For Dacascos it might’ve been the type of quickie affair he could do for fun and profit between hosting Iron Chef America and appearing in occasional higher profile movies like CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE* and CODE NAME: THE CLEANER. For Johnson it was definitely a gig for hire, his fifth movie as a director but still a learning experience a decade before he started dominating the low budget action world with SAVAGE DOG, ACCIDENT MAN, THE DEBT COLLECTOR and TRIPLE THREAT. So it’s not a career best for either, but it’s a scrappy, entertaining little cheapie with some pleasingly odd touches stirred through the humble sparseness of its production.

Dacascos plays Rykker, a guy who drives around acting like a fed, even flashing a badge, but then steals a police car and sleeps with his tie on in a closed church. He seems to be in an ongoing one-man guerrilla war against a gang of leather-jacket-wearing thugs led by a hot tattooed badass lady named Isis (Amelia Cooke, SPECIES III). In truth they’re all aliens from the same dying planet, and Rykker is sort of a conscientious objector trying to stop Isis’s group from enslaving the human race. Apparently they used to date, and they seem to still kind of like each other, but he believes their people can find an uninhabited world to colonize, and she thinks that’s not enough of a sure thing, so they fight. (read the rest of this shit…)

China Strike Force

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Some of the great western martial artists have a Hong Kong movie or two under their belts. Cynthia Rothrock did YES MADAM, ABOVE THE LAW, etc. For Brandon Lee it was LEGACY OF RAGE. Darren Shahlavi had TAI CHI II and IP MAN 2. Gary Daniels had CITY HUNTER. Scott Adkins was in that movie EXTREME CHALLENGE. Michael Jai White was in SILVERHAWK.  And of course Paul Rudd stars in GEN-X COPS 2: METAL MAYHEM.

I’ve already noted the heavy Hong Kong cinema influence on Mark Dacascos movies including CRYING FREEMAN and DRIVE, but in this Hong Kong production filmed in Shanghai for the international market he actually got to be for-real directed and choreographed by the legendary Stanley Tong (SWORDSMAN 2, SUPERCOP, SUPERCOP 2, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, FIRST STRIKE).

It was filmed in both English and Cantonese, so most of the characters don’t seem dubbed. Dacascos plays the lead villain, Tony Lau, a young gangster who’s trying to get his mentor Uncle Ma (Lau Siu-Ming, ABOVE THE LAW, A BETTER TOMORROW II, POLICE STORY 2) to add drug imports to his criminal portfolio. Uncle Ma is dead set against it – he’s able to pay off the police partly because he stays away from drugs – but he agrees to meet with Tony’s American friend (Coolio, BATMAN & ROBIN, DAREDEVIL) about it out of politeness. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sanctuary

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

SANCTUARY (1998) is not The Great American Mark Dacascos Vehicle, but it’s pretty enjoyable classical DTV (or in this case straight-to-cable, I believe) action, the kind that made me fall in love with the format in the first place. Yes, it’s messy, at times confusing or befuddling. It’s kinda gloomy looking, sometimes there are iffy line deliveries, and there are definitely parts that I laugh at that I’m not supposed to. But also there’s some showcasing of a cool actor I like, pulpy traditions of the genre are exercised, and when something really cool happens there’s a sense of underdog achievement. You’re really pulling for it to be good.

It has a convoluted chronology: it starts with our Catholic priest hero Luke Kovak (Dacascos a year after DRIVE) in a Vatican interrogation room being questioned in Italian about what happened six days ago when he got attacked by some killers from his secret past. From the story of six days ago it keeps flashing back to the larger backstory of his former career doing dirty deeds for the government and why he went into hiding to get away from it. A few times he even remembers his childhood, when a priest was his role model until Dyson (Alan Scarfe, CATHY’S CURSE, IRON EAGLE II, LETHAL WEAPON 3) took him and some other orphans and raised them to be experts in martial arts, guns and spycraft. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kickboxer 5: The Redemption

Monday, May 13th, 2019

“He’s a butcher. A madman. His charm and intelligence make him more dangerous than a cobra.”

Life is cheap in the world of KICKBOXER. Every time the hero doesn’t do a sequel, he gets unceremoniously murdered. It happened to Kurt Sloane (by way of a lookalike) in KICKBOXER 2, and now it happens to David Sloane (through the medium of silhouetted double) in KICKBOXER 5. David (offscreen) refuses to join a new South African kickboxing league, and they have him beaten to death. At least he manages to break the leg of one of his attackers (Tony Caprari, TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY), who will be on crutches for the rest of the movie.

Also worth very little in this series: subtitles. Maybe THE ROAD HOME has legitimate interpretations, and THE ART OF WAR could apply to pretty much anything, but THE AGGRESSOR was a headscratcher and THE REDEMPTION has no practical plot application. Maybe that’s where the American distributors got the idea to rename THE RAID.

But if we follow my usual rule of going by what it says on the opening titles, it’s just THE REDEMPTION, no KICKBOXER in the title at all. And for what it’s worth, the fake David Sloane smashes that title with a flying kick. (read the rest of this shit…)

Drive

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Unless you count an IMDb listing for an unreleased movie called SIRENS OF THE DEEP (2000), the final (so far) feature film directed by Steve Wang is the 1997 under-the-radar Mark Dacascos action romp DRIVE. Dacascos (ONLY THE STRONG) plays Toby Wong (a RESERVOIR DOGS reference?), reformed Chinese assassin on the run from a corporation trying to reclaim the advanced strength-and-acrobatics-enhancing implant they put in him. Attacked in a bar, he commandeers lonely divorcee Malik (Kadeem Hardison, DEF BY TEMPTATION) and his car, and the two end up becoming buddies, driving around the L.A. area trying to avoid a team of mercenaries led by redneck Vic Madison (John Pyper-Ferguson, who’s also in the Nicolas Winding-Refn movie called DRIVE) and his personal Bob the Goon, Hedgehog (Tracey Walter, CYBORG 2), who when not shooting at them hang out in a mobile home like Justified villains. Vic has long hair, wears a bolo tie and sunglasses seems too proud of his rock ‘n roll cowboy look. I was so relieved when he switched to pony tail and tactical gear. (read the rest of this shit…)

Showdown in Manila

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

SHOWDOWN IN MANILA is the latest from Alexander Nevsky, the Russian bodybuilder turned b-movie actor who starred in and directed BLACK ROSE. This one is the directing debut of Mark Dacascos and it’s much more fun and ambitious than that last one, largely due to an EXPENDABLES-worthy cast of action icons.

Nevsky plays Nick Peyton, the leader of some sort of elite police strikeforce thing in Manila. In the prologue he leads a police raid and his whole team are wearing those giant helmets like in THE RAID – except for him, even though he’s 1-3 heads taller than all of them. Standing there ready to take it like a lightning rod. He doesn’t get shot in the head, but does get shot and fails to apprehend two ultimate b-action bad guys: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (L.A. TAKEDOWN, KICKBOXER 2, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, MORTAL KOMBAT, BRIDGE OF DRAGONS) and Matthias Hues (NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER 2, I COME IN PEACE, BLACKBELT, MISSION OF JUSTICE, TALONS OF THE EAGLE, TC 2000). C-HT in particular looks like he’s enjoying the hell out of just strutting around in tropical gangster clothes being arrogant.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Angel Town

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

tn_angeltown“Jacques, as long as I’ve known you you’ve been in deep shit. I expect this.”

Even though I have this weird feeling that French kickboxing champion turned VHS-era action icon Olivier Gruner doesn’t like me, I’m open to watching his movies. I actually didn’t realize while watching it that ANGEL TOWN was his debut, but it makes sense. This is his L.A. gang movie, which came out after COLORS but before BOYZ N THE HOOD or MENACE II SOCIETY (or New York movies like NEW JACK CITY and JUICE). And I’m not saying it’s as good as any of those, but it’s a fun b-action take on the subject, and it makes a decent argument for why Gruner should be in movies.

He plays Jacques, a Frenchman renting a room in a gang neighborhood while attending graduate school in East L.A. He ends up there because he gets into town late and all the student housing is filled up, but also we learn he was born in a French ghetto and lived in one in Hong Kong too. It’s not relevant, but I want to mention why he’s late to school: when he was about to leave he went to visit his father’s grave and then his girlfriend showed up distraught that he was leaving and she took off her fur coat and she was naked so he fucked her right there on his father’s grave. And that must’ve taken a couple days, I don’t know. (read the rest of this shit…)

American Samurai

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

tn_americansamuraiHow the fuck does a guy become an American samurai? Well, in the case of Drew Collins (David Bradley, AMERICAN NINJA 3-V) when he was a baby he and his parents were traveling in a small plane that crashed into a tree, only he survived, and then he was raised by an old Japanese guy named Tatsuya (John Fujioka, ZATOICHI IN DESPERATION, AMERICAN NINJA, AMERICAN YAKUZA). Finders keepers, you know?

Basically it’s exactly like Superman, except being a white man in Asia doesn’t give him super powers. But he does really good in his sword training anyway. I’m not clear why his adopted father was a samurai swordsman in the 1980s, I suppose it’s kind of along the lines of being a civil war buff. In related news I would like to see a Cannon movie called JAPANESE BLUEBELLY. (read the rest of this shit…)

Crying Freeman

Monday, August 27th, 2012

CRYING FREEMAN (1995) is a pretty cool movie that I went back to hoping it would be better than I realized before. I did a brief write-up of it in a column years ago, but I’m not gonna link to it right now because most of the column is angry rants about what was going on in the news at the time and it makes me cringe. Based on a Japanese comic book (or “Japomic Book”) by Kazuo Koike, the same writer as Lone Wolf and Cub, CRYING FREEMAN is a moody, serious assassin movie with Yakuza, mind control, a witch, romance and tragedy. It takes place in 4 different countries (U.S., Canada, China, Japan) with the most convincing, of course, being the part that takes place in Vancouver, B.C.
(read the rest of this shit…)