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

Posts Tagged ‘Mark L. Lester’

Steel Arena

Friday, May 19th, 2017

tn_steelarenaSTEEL ARENA doesn’t seem at first glance like a particularly distinguished b-movie, especially in its current form as a poorly transferred old VHS tape that’s scanned but not panned. Many scenes, including the first one, are conversations in the front seats of vehicles with one or more participants mostly cropped out of frame. I rented it because it’s one of these stuntsploitation movies I find so interesting, but this time it’s about the lives of professional stunt drivers in a road show, not in movies. Most of the stars are real drivers playing themselves and doing their own driving. STEEL ARENA is to stunt drivers as ACT OF VALOR is to Navy SEALs.

It centers on Dusty Russell, a not-all-that-talkative good ol’ boy with a silly mustache that would endear him to the modern hipster. He’s looking for work and a moonshiner has a job opening.

“Can you drive?”

“Sure.”

It doesn’t seem like it’s his passion in life yet, but he turns out to be good at it, leading the cops on a chase that predicts every episode of The Dukes of Hazzard ever made. But the payment plan has some problems so he moves on and finds his way into “the destruction derby” (same as a “demolition derby” as I always knew it), teaming with a guy he meets, Buddy Love, and going on to dominate the circuit. (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.

Firestarter

Monday, September 12th, 2016

tn_firestarterFIRESTARTER is a classic tale of ’80s style supernatural paranoia. An innocent father and daughter are on the run from menacing agents of a secret government entity nicknamed “The Shop.” A university experiment with hallucinogens in the ’70s gave dad (David Keith, WHITE OF THE EYE) and now-deceased mom (Heather Locklear, MONEY TALKS) psychic powers, which have passed on to daughter Charlie (Drew Barrymore in her next movie after E.T.). She can sense things, sometimes move things, but her trademark is fire. When she gets angry at people things get hot. Mom and dad had been trying to teach her to keep it under control, with mixed success. You really gotta recognize what a difficult parenting challenge this would be even if The Man wasn’t out to get them.

So now it’s Take Your Daughter On the Lam Day. They’re hitchhiking, scrounging up change, using Jedi mind tricks. She’s already used to lying to people and using fake names. It reminds me of Starman (TV show), or The Golden Years, like this a Stephen King creation and also using The Shop as the antagonists. Through no fault of their own this family are considered dangerous, and the government wants to either use them as weapons or kill them. Neither seems appealing to them.

This kill-them-for-safety-purposes policy is obviously fascist and heartless, but it’s based in a reasonable fear that if this little girl can blow up cars with her mind what will she be able to do if she grows up? And will she do it? (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.

shit you should read: Mark L. Lester analysis

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

tn_commandoJohn Cribbs over at thepinksmoke.com did a new interview with b-movie great Mark L. Lester. Lester doesn’t seem to get alot of credit or attention, but I figure if one guy directed COMMANDO, CLASS OF 1984, CLASS OF 1999 and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO then it can’t be a fluke. John uses the occasion to go through most of the Lesterography. He offers some interesting analysis of reoccurring themes and has me interested in checking out alot of the ones I haven’t seen, even some recent DTV suspense thrillers.

I love this kind of shit. Check it out when you have a few minutes. Here’s the link: MARK L. LESTER: THE MOVIES

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.

Showdown in Little Tokyo and Bridge of Dragons

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

The Dolph Lundgren vs. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa Saga
SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO (1991) and BRIDGE OF DRAGONS (1999)

As I continue to learn about the works of Dolph Lundgren (no, sorry, I’m not writing LUNDGRENICS, I’m just trying to become a more well-rounded individual) it’s refreshing to find that he has many movies where he is a charismatic action hero and not just some grunting oaf. SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO is one people have been recommending to me for years because it has him teamed with Brandon Lee, which is a pretty big deal for somebody whose most notable co-stars are often talk show hosts like Jerry Springer or Montel Williams.

Basically this one is a cop buddy picture with Dolph as the line-crossing, bushido practicing white cop on the Little Tokyo beat who by the way is out to avenge the deaths of his parents by a samurai, but that’s neither here nor there. We know Dolph is a bad motherfucker right away because he single-handedly busts up an illegal underground fighting circuit by rappelling in from the ceiling in the middle of a match and then taking on those who disagree with his decision. Later he’s in a cafe when he happens to see some of the same Yakuzas bullying the old lady owner for protection money. In the middle of the brawl that ensues he’s introduced to his new partner, Brandon Lee. (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.

Class of 1999

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Director Mark L. Lester returns in 1990 for an ambitiously ridiculous sequel to CLASS OF 1984. Instead of taking some character or setting from that movie and continuing with it he takes the same sort of story and puts it in a futuristic sci-fi world. So instead of a paranoid vision of violence in schools a couple years from now it’s a purposely ridiculous paranoid vision of cyborg teachers taking on violence in schools.

The first one took a while to warm up, but CLASS OF 1999 is at maximum awesome levels straight out of the gate. You can’t help but laugh as the movie apes ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and then ROBOCOP and then a little TERMINATOR. The ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK part is that the hero is a juvenile delinquent who they let out of prison to go– well, not on a mission. To high school. And it’s in a walled off zone where the kids are so out of control the government has decided not to enforce law there. (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.

Class of 1984

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

CLASS OF 1984 is an earlier picture by COMMANDO’s Mark L. Lester. It starts out shitty with a terrible song by Alice Cooper and your usual ’80s horse shit about cities being overrun with maniac punk rocker delinquent savages. In this case the problem is at a high school where new music teacher Mr. Norris (Perry King) is surprised to find metal detectors, switchblades, gang fights and students who lick their middle fingers and say “sit on this, motherfucker.” His new friend, science teacher Roddy McDowall, has learned to get used to it, and carries a piece in his briefcase.

But Mr. Norris can’t just get used to it. These hoodlums are always interfering with his class, and they sell drugs to one student who flips out and climbs up the flagpole and lets go. And later wiseass trumpet player Michael J. Fox (in his first movie role, and looking about 14 years-old) gets stabbed, something that rarely happened on Family Ties, in the BACK TO THE FUTURE or TEEN WOLF sagas, or in any of those TV movies about summer camp. Plus they start threatening Norris outside of school, showing up at his house in Halloween costumes and spraying him in the face with fake blood. Which is a metaphor for real blood, if I know my teens. (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.

Commando

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

COMMANDO is a rare commodity – a Schwarzenegger picture on a low enough budget to feel like the early Seagal and Van Damme pictures. The good ones, though. Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, the perfect name for an ex-special forces muscleman who lives in a cabin out in the woods with his daughter Alyssa Milano. (Who is the boss, anyway? I never did figure that out.) She doesn’t want him going on dangerous missions anymore so he stays home and spends his days chopping wood and feeding deer with her. Luckily, before he gets too bored with this Snow White lifestyle some other soldiers he used to be knee dip in the shit with kidnap his daughter as a way to force him to assassinate some South American leader or other. So he gets to go to war. And to be honest he looks more comfortable running around with camoflauge paint on then he does feeding a deer. We all have our little things we’re good at, you know. (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.