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

Posts Tagged ‘Parker’

Well wishes to Darwyn Cooke

Friday, May 13th, 2016

parker1I would like to send out some positive energy to the great artist Darwyn Cooke, who is apparently very ill. Sadly his wife announced today that he is “now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer.”

You comic book fans must know Cooke for a million things, but of course I know him as the man who since 2009 has been doing comics adaptations of my favorite book series, the Parker novels by Richard Stark. Although of course the change in medium requires a simplification merely by removing most of the words, Cooke (who received the blessings and input of Donald Westlake when he started the project) has been astonishingly faithful to the material. I love his clean, cartoony style, his bold use of shadows, his retro two-tone coloring and his appreciation for the graphic and architectural styles of the 1960s world he sets the books in. The man knows how to draw a good diner sign, and seems to have a catalog of the different types of faces you don’t see anymore.

I also think I must have similar tastes in Parker books to Cooke, because I love the choices he’s made of which ones to adapt. He started of course with The Hunter (the first one, and basis of POINT BLANK and PAYBACK). Then he skipped to The Outfit, possibly my favorite of the series, but he also included a prologue that’s a little mini-version of book two, The Man With the Getaway Face, so that he could include the fun fact that Parker got plastic surgery to hide his identity after The Hunter. And that way Cooke could completely change his character design after his first book.

Then Cooke went for my other possible favorite entry in the series, The Score, the one where they take down an entire mining town. I implore you to read the original novel, an epic heist story, but it’s also really cool to see Cooke’s visual translation, which is heavy on blueprints and diagrams.

Finally he did Slayground, which is one of my least favorite books in the series, but also the most ripe for this type of reinterpretation. The book has a great premise – Parker hiding in a closed amusement park being hunted while trying to recover a stash of money – but plays more like a recipe for what would be a cool action movie than a successful story in the Parker tradition. Therefore I really enjoyed experiencing it in a visual medium. (The movie starring Peter Coyote doesn’t count, because it barely has anything to do with the main part of the book.)

Finding artwork for this post led me to the fact that there are some hardcover editions of the original novels illustrated with Cooke paintings (that’s what the ad at the upper right of this post is for). I must’ve heard about that but forgot all about it. That erases any minor misgivings I had about people maybe using the comics as replacements for the great novels. I should pick those up.

Anyway, I’m very sorry to hear about Cooke and my thoughts are with him and his family. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures bud, you really know your lines and shapes.

parker2

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.

Parker

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

tn_parkerstathamWell, yep. I’m afraid we saw this coming. Academy Award nominated director with unfortunately appropriate name Taylor Hackford’s adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker book Flashfire is not very good.

Jason Statham plays Parker, the cold-hearted career criminal, professional problem solver and single-minded seeker of money. Or he’s supposed to be that character, anyway. He’s involved in a robbery but the other guys on the team want to use the loot as seed money for another heist, and he doesn’t want to. They shoot him and dump him in the water, but he survives and comes looking for them, planning to steal the proceeds from this other heist.

Michael Chiklis is Melander, the leader of the other heisters, who we don’t really get to know much about. Clifton Collins, Jr. is also on the crew, but I couldn’t name a single character trait for him other than Clifton Collins, Jr. looks a little older than last time I saw him in a movie. Parker wears a cowboy hat and pretends to be a Texas oilman so that he can look at mansions in Palm Beach and figure out where Melander and friends are hiding out. Jennifer Lopez plays Leslie, the real estate agent who shows him around, figures out that he’s not really Texan, and pushes her way into his scheme. (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 Badass Cinema Rundown for October 21st, 2011

Friday, October 21st, 2011

tn_karensiscoI hope everybody, or most people, or a couple people are enjoying all the horror reviews this month. I’m happy that I’ve found time to watch a healthy amount of them, plus throw in the occasional TREE OF LIFE or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA when it comes up. But of course the Badass Arts are never far from my mind, so once again I’ve compiled some links and comments on various news from the past couple weeks related to some of my favorite ass-kicking authors and actors, etc. This one includes theatrical releases, DTV, TV, one book, and ballet. Well, all except the last one. Sorry Telf. But I think there’s alot of things to be excited about here. (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 Badass Cinema Rundown for July 12, 2011

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

tn_dragoneyesI could re-post paraphrases of every news story that comes along, but I don’t got time for that shit so instead I give you the most important shit condensed into one post.

Today we got plenty of current headlines to discuss involving JCVD, Scott Adkins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kim Je-woon, John Hyams, Parker, others, plus a special treat for you comics con attenders.

(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.

Let’s talk about this Parker movie

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

tn_parkerYou guys know how much I love Richard Stark’s Parker books. I think I’ve mentioned it one, maybe one and a half times over the years.

So of course I was intrigued when Variety announced the other day that Jason Statham is in talks to play Parker in a new movie called PARKER, based on– well, that part’s not clear, the article doesn’t say. Some have assumed that it’s another adaptation of the first Parker book, ‘The Hunter’ (even though we’ve already seen that turned into POINT BLANK, two different cuts of PAYBACK and a recent comic strip book). Others think it’s gonna just be a new story based on the character.
(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.

Time For a New List

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Remember how I posted about ROLLING THUNDER coming to DVD and how that means John Flynn’s never-on-DVD Parker adaptation THE OUTFIT was “now officially #1 on my list of Shit That Needs To Come Out”?

I guess the Warner Archive people saw that and their response is:

theoutfitIt’s not clear yet when ROLLING THUNDER can be ordered, but THE OUTFIT is already available here. Says it’s widescreen and newly remastered, too, so it shouldn’t be the version I heard played on some HD channels.

It’s all happening so fast, I haven’t had time to formulate a new list. There are two Parker adaptations that have never even been on VHS (at least that I’ve ever heard of). Those are THE SPLIT and MISE EN SAC. The first one I’ve seen and it’s good, the second I haven’t but I’ve heard it’s good and it’s based on a real cinematic book where Parker and crew try to take down an entire mining town.

I’m not sure what should be number one on the list though. I know THE WOMAN CHASER is on there somewhere, and I’d like people to be able to rent PENTATHLON and LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO,  but what’s left with the same urgency as ROLLING THUNDER and THE OUTFIT?

I usually think it’s corny when a blog (short for weblog) post ends with “What do you guys think?,” but I guarantee sincerity here. I wrote this post first to let everybody know about THE OUTFIT and second to ask what movies you love or are dying to see still haven’t made it to a legitimate DVD at all.

So, uh, what do you guys think?

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 Limits of Control

Monday, May 11th, 2009

tn_limitsofcontrolIn Jim Jarmusch’s new one, Isaach De Bankolé plays a man (“Lone Man” according to the credits) on a mission. He meets some guys at an airport who give him a key and a box of matches and tell him to go to a certain cafe and wait for “the violin.”

So he flies there, checks into the hotel, goes to the cafe, waits around, nothing happens. Goes back to the hotel, stares at the ceiling until the next day, comes back, waits. He goes to the art museum, where he sees a painting of a violin. Is this the violin he’s supposed to be waiting for? Not sure. Goes and waits some more. Eventually a guy with a violin comes (SPOILER), talks to him, they trade boxes of matches. Inside his box is a scrap of paper with a code on it, which he reads and then eats.

Basically, the whole movie is him doing variations on this routine again and again, all of it nicely photographed in Spain by Christopher Doyle. He goes to different places and meets different people. At every cafe he orders two espressos in separate cups. Every contact says the same thing to him at first, then talks to him about some interest of theirs (movies, music, molecules). He doesn’t respond and usually doesn’t look like he’s listening. Then they give him the same kind of matchbox with the same kind of note in it which he always eats. In between he checks out some art such as paintings, music or dance. (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 Split

Monday, April 20th, 2009

tn_thesplitThere are two Richard Stark based movies left that have never been released for the home video in the U.S. One is MISE A SAC, a French one based on The Score, where Parker and a crew try to rob an entire mining town. The other is THE SPLIT, based on The Seventh, where Jim Brown as the Parker character robs a football stadium and then has some trouble afterwords. My man David M. in France has seen both – he saw a restored print of MISE A SAC and told me it was great. As for THE SPLIT he did me one better than telling me about it, he sent me a recording from when it played letterboxed on the French Turner Classic Movies channel. (I don’t know who the French Ted Turner is, but it sounds like he plays better shit than the American one.)

If you’re reading this in the future maybe every movie ever made is available for instant download, but in my day you had to be patient. You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to see this thing. The closest I came before now was an old movie magazine I bought at an antique mall because it had Barbarella on the cover (wait a minute, is Roger Vadim the French Ted Turner?) So I bought it for the Barbarella, because a man has needs, but it turned out there was also an “article” – really just a plot summary – about THE SPLIT. I’d been meaning to read it and write a book-to-movie-summary comparison until they get off their ass and release it. But now thanks to French Ted Turner I don’t have to stoop to that. (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 eulogizes the great Donald E. Westlake

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Well, shit. The first bummer of 2009, or the last one of 2008. Turns out last night before his New Year’s Eve dinner the great mystery writer Donald Westlake collapsed and died. He was 75.

Westlake was a hell of a prolific writer. He started in 1960 and delivered books faster than his agent thought he should. Supposedly it was bad to try to promote more than one book in a year, so he started using pseudonyms. Under the Westlake name he wrote around 50 books – add in the pen names and that number doubles. Movies based on his books include THE HOT ROCK (a fun Robert Redford heist comedy recently reviewed by Quint), BANK SHOT, A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER and the most recent Costa-Gavras movie THE AX. He was also a screenwriter who sometimes adapted other writers – Patricia Highsmith for RIPLEY UNDER GROUND, Dashiel Hammett for a TV anthology, Jim Thompson for THE GRIFTERS (he was nominated for an Oscar for that one). Personally I think his best screenplay is THE STEPFATHER, which does such a great job of including dark satire of ’80s family values in the subtext of an effective thriller. He was often known for lighthearted and goofy material but he was definitely good at the mechanics of a tight mystery or thriller story.

The reason this one hits me hard is that one of the other writers hidden beneath the friendly Westlake exterior was Richard Stark. If you had asked me yesterday I would’ve told you Stark was my favorite living writer. Aside from four spinoffs about an actor/thief named Grofield, Stark’s entire output was the 24 novels of the Parker series. These are the sparsely written, ridiculously badass adventures of a guy who plans heists, then leads the team executing them. He’s the best at what he does, knows how to work with the best people, and is usually disciplined enough to follow his rules and obey his instincts. But something always goes wrong anyway and that’s his other job, the problem solver. The guy who cleans up the mess. Usually, but not always, he’s able to outsmart and outfight everybody and get away with his ass intact, and most of the loot. (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.

Payback: Straight Up – The Director’s Cut

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I don’t know how familiar any of you are with Payback, the 1999 Mel Gibson-starring adaptation of Richard Stark’s The Hunter. That’s the same book that inspired one of the all time canonical works of Badass Cinema, Point Blank.

Well, Mel Gibson is no Lee Marvin and writer/director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) is no John Boorman. But I think Payback is an underrated movie. It’s a good balance of vicious and funny. It’s got a bit of a ’70s throwback feel and lots of weird touches to make it an indistinct time period. There are rotary phones, and primitive credit card technology that makes fraud more convenient, and the film is washed out with bleach making everything have a pale blue tint to it. You’re not sure when this is supposed to be taking place, which in a weird way reminds me of the experience of reading the books. Most of it reads pretty modern but obviously you are dealing with armed robbers, there is money, communication and security technology that would make some of the stories impossible today. So I sometimes have to check the copyright dates to be sure when this would’ve happened. (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.