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

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Walker’

Furious Seven

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

tn_furioussevenNote: as usual, I recommend reading this only after you’ve seen the movie.

How the hell do you follow a movie with a classic freeway cars vs. tank battle and a legendary 27.86 mile cars vs. planes gun/grappling hook/wrestling fight? Well, we already had a good idea from the trailers: with cars that skydive and jump from skyscraper to skyscraper and with Jason Statham. The day after my first viewing I feel like FURIOUS SEVEN is probly not as good as FAST FIVE or FURIOUS 6, but it’s in the same range at least, which is a feat. And due to real life this silly fictional world turns very emotional at the end. I suspect that despite all the effort put into automotive insanity this will primarily be remembered as the one that says goodbye to Paul Walker.

It’s a blessing because really, when has a tragically passed-on star been able to have such a meta farewell in a movie? The character of Brian O’Conner gets to drive off into the sunset and the public gets to share in the send off as a narrating Vin Diesel/Dominic Torretto pay tribute simultaneously in and out of character. Heath Ledger might’ve had a better last big performance, but he was left hanging on the side of a building.

(It’s a little unclear what it means on the movie level, though. Are Brian and Mia and the kids driving off to be far away from Dom so they can be sure to stay out of trouble? Or is Dom just not planning to visit his own sister, best friend, niece and nephew if he’s not shooting guns anymore? Maybe he’s just assuming that now that he’s a dad Brian’s not gonna hang out anymore?) (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.

Bobby Z

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

tn_bobbyzPaul Walker won us over while starring in his six great FAST AND FURIOUS movies, so it’s a wonder he had time to do much in between. As you saw with yesterday’s JOY RIDE review I wanted to take the occasion of our saying goodbye to Brian O’Conner to pay tribute to his work again. The trouble is I’ve already reviewed most of his starring vehicles: RUNNING SCARED, EIGHT BELOW, every FAST AND FURIOUS movie… buddy, I saw BRICK MANSIONS in the theater, that’s the type of individual you are dealing with here. Luckily I remembered there was this one based on the book The Death and Life of Bobby Z by Don Winslow, the author of SAVAGES.

BOBBY Z (released in some countries as KILL BOBBY Z or LET’S KILL BOBBY Z) is no SAVAGES, that’s for sure, but it has alot of the same elements: legendary surfer turned ultra-rich California marijuana magnate, Iraq vet turned violent criminal, crooked DEA agents, ruthless Mexican cartels, genius businessman friend turned unlikely kingpin, women scheming while taken for granted as sex objects by the empire. Walker plays the vet, Tim Kearney, a crazy long hair kicked out of the Marines for beating up an Iraqi general and turned into a lifer for three dumb strikes. Now he’s facing certain death from the Aryan Brotherhood for killing a fellow con named Mad Dog (UFC legend Chuck Liddell).

DEA Agent Tad Gruzsa (Laurence Morpheus Fishburne) offers him a crazy, convoluted deal: he looks kinda like this marijuana kingpin named Bobby Z, who cartel leader Don Huertero (Joaquim “Evil Phil Hartman” de Almeida, FAST FIVE) wants in trade for Gruzsa’s kidnapped partner. He says they don’t know the real Bobby Z is dead so if Kearney pretends to be him and successfully makes the trade the DEA will just let him go and he can try to escape from a deadly cartel or whatever but not have to go back to prison. I mean, it’s kind of the honor system I guess. If he wants to go back to prison that’s cool. (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.

Joy Ride

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

tn_joyrideThat’s funny, back in 2001 Paul Walker seemed like a pretty boy teen star, a jock from VARSITY BLUES, so even though I always kinda liked him (and defended him from the savage hatred of the Ain’t It Cool talkbacks) he was probly the reason I didn’t take JOY RIDE entirely seriously, didn’t give it proper credit as a really solid thriller. I would’ve told you the movie was good, but I would’ve thrown a “ha ha, it’s actually” on front of that. Now I’m not as self conscious, and now Walker is the specific reason I’m giving it a long overdue re-watch. With his last movie coming out on Friday I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a few of his other roles in tribute.

See, he was a pretty boy, and he never did turn into an actor of great range. But here, in the same year he graduated to cop roles in THE FAST AND FURIOUS (which he probly got because Rob Cohen had directed him in THE SKULLS, and which came out about 3 months before this), he could also still play a youth. He turns his air of nice guy innocence toward a leading man role, which in this case is mostly about fear and problem-solving. How do we get the fuck out of here? How do we get this guy to leave us alone? Problems like that.

This is a road movie stalker like DUEL, ROAD GAMES or THE HITCHER, but for the SCREAM floating-head-poster era. Walker plays Lewis, a hopelessly smitten college kid driving cross country to get home during a break. Along the way he will pick up his high school friend/long distance crush Venna (THE WICKER MAN‘s Leelee Sobieski). But then he gets word that his fuckup older brother Fuller (Steve Zahn, A PERFECT GETAWAY) is in jail and nobody else feels sorry enough for him to get him out, so Lewis goes 500 miles out of his way to post bail. Don’t ever do that, the movie will soon teach us. (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.

Brick Mansions

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

tn_brickmansionsMan, say what you will about Luc Besson, he’s still got his exploitation producer thing going, and he’s squeezed more cinema out of Parkour than Cannon ever got out of breakdancing. Back in the late ’90s the LEON director saw dudes bouncing off the streets, walls and rooftops of France, and while other people might’ve thought “I hope that guy doesn’t fall [in French],” his reaction was “I gotta put this shit in an action movie!” So by ’98 Besson, as writer and producer, had Parkour in a foot chase through traffic in TAXI 2, and by ’01 he’d done a whole movie called YAMAKASI starring some of the pioneers of the artform.

Even then he knew he could do more with it so in ’04 he co-wrote and produced BANLIEUE 13, or DISTRICT B13 as we call it here. It was kind of an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK riff but in a near future extrapolation of the Parisian suburbs, and done as a buddy movie. A supercop has to team with a criminal from the walled-off District 13.

For director, Besson used TRANSPORTER cinematographer Pierre Morel, who later did TAKEN and FROM PARIS WITH LOVE for him. There was also a not as good sequel in 2009, directed by the guy who did the making-of TV special for Besson’s THE BIG BLUE.
(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.

R.I.P. Paul Walker

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

tn_paulwalkerTerrible news about Paul Walker dying today. You guys know how much I love the whole FAST & FURIOUS saga, and most of you share that love, so you know exactly how much it bums me out. But I wanted to write a few words about his career.

I wrote somewhere, maybe in my first review of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, that I think of Walker as the popular guy on the football team who’s so nice that you can’t hate him for it. I guess he was raised Mormon, which might be part of where that vibe comes from. I know Mormons get a bad rap because of Mitt Romney and the Joseph Smith sphinx and etc. but every one of ’em I ever knew was a little square and alot nice. I bet Paul Walker really was a nice guy but maybe not that square because I bet he really did wear Pumas every day just like Brian O’Conner. (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.

Furious 6

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

tn_furious6Ladies and gentlemen, the title is FURIOUS 6. They’ve been advertising it as FAST & FURIOUS 6, and every time I see that I think “if the last one was FAST FIVE then why can’t this be FURIOUS SIX?” Well, the actual movie says FURIOUS 6. And this is not the first time that the THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS series has come through for me. We’re family.

Director Justin Lin returns for his fourth and final installment, and I hope they gave him a hell of a gold watch. When he came along there was this one really enjoyable POINT BREAK ripoff and one ridiculous sequel and he had to follow up without the original cast or characters. The series was left for dead. But he did a great job with TOKYO DRIFT, then reunited Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for FAST AND FURIOUS, then brought back almost the entire team and added The Rock for FAST FIVE. With FURIOUS SIX he takes everything he learned from those movies and supercharges the engine and adds spoilers and shit. Having the whole team (minus Don Omar and Tego Calderon, plus Michelle Rodriguez) together isn’t a novelty the second time around, so to make up for that he kicks the action sequences into ridiculous new extremes. Which is saying alot in a FAST AND FURIOUS – have you seen these movies? (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.

Takers

Monday, September 10th, 2012

TAKERS is a heist movie that features Paul Walker (THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 1,2,4-present) and Hayden Christensen (STAR WARS 2-3) as thieves, Jay Hernandez (HOSTEL, CARLITO’S WAY: RISE TO POWER) as one of the cops that’s out to get them, and Johnathon Schaech as their fence. Holy shit, this is like the EXPENDABLES of likable but bland, inarticulate would-be leading men! I bet they’re looking at Chris Klein for part 2. Maybe Scott Speedman.

Nah, that’s a cheap shot. The truth is I sort of like all those guys, or at least root for them to prove everybody wrong. Walker seems too nice to hate, and he’s been in a bunch of movies that I’ve enjoyed, and even been good in some of them. Hernandez – I liked the HOSTEL movies. Schaech channeled Swayze well in ROAD HOUSE 2. Christensen is all right, he’s just going down a path I cannot follow.
(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 Fast and the Furious (10th Anniversary Review)

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
chapter 7
chapter 7

2001posterreleased June 22nd, 2001
10 years ago today!

Wow, I never would’ve predicted this: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS has aged well. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready for it back when I first saw it. Skimming over my intentionally pretentious and off-topic original review I can see that I saw it as an attempt to exploit a fad. This is supported by all the old dvd extras (now on blu-ray) which make a huge deal about it being based on a Vibe article about street racing, and how they went to watch races and ran from the cops and all the cars and extras in the car show scenes are real racers who responded to a web posting. They wanted us to know this “street racing” was a real thing happening somewhere at night, and director Rob Cohen and friends are on the front lines ready to show us what’s going down. (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.

Fast Five

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

tn_fastfiveFirst of all, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on the miracle of the THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS series. It started in 2000, a studio b-movie, a dumb subculture exploiter with hot up-and-coming stars, quite good for a Rob Cohen movie and with a star-making performance by Mr. Vin Diesel, but undeniably corny. I don’t think anybody could predict that 11 years later it would be Universal’s most valued franchise/trademark/anti-intellectualproperty or that a part 5 would be bigger and better than the previous ones. Especially when you consider that Diesel ditched out on part 2 and Paul Walker bailed before part 3 and that even the naming of the movies poses a challenge. You don’t see I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER still coming out with new chapters but they keep doing FASTs and FURIOUSes even after running out of sensible combinations of those words.
(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.

Fast & Furious

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

You take the “the”s out, the title becomes more aerodynamic. This unlikely THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS part 4 combines elements of the previous 3: the characters and tone of part 1, the video game plotting and drug kingpin bad guys of part 2, the director and improved visual style of part 3. Combining all the technologies they’ve developed into a new model.

Part 3 might still be my favorite, with its comprehensive visual tribute to everything that looks cool in Tokyo and its charismatic lead performance by Lucas Black (plus Sonny Chiba bit part, Incredible Hulk car and stupid cameo at the end). I was surprised how much I liked that one and even more surprised how many people I know who have no interest in the series liked it too. (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.