I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

Posts Tagged ‘RZA’

Roxanne Roxanne

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Do you guys know who Roxanne Shanté is? In the early days of hip hop, back when it was still pretty much just a New York thing, she was one of the greatest battle MCs. And she was also a 14-year old girl. Marley Marl, the producer behind Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, MC Shan, Kool G Rap, and others, was her neighbor in the Queensbridge housing projects. The way she tells it, one day when she was going to do her laundry he yelled down to her from his window to ask if it was true she could rap, and would she come up and record some rhymes for him. When he played her the beat that had been sampled in UTFO’s hit “Roxanne Roxanne,” she says she freestyled about being the Roxanne in the song. Ten minutes later she went back to the laundry and forgot all about it until her friend called and told her it was playing on the radio. And then it became a phenomenon.

I never knew much about her or heard that story until she was on Ice-T’s podcast three years ago. I actually wonder if that interview gave writer/director Michael Larnell the idea to make a movie about her. Either way, a bunch of the details she mentioned to Ice ended up in the biopic ROXANNE ROXANNE, which played Sundance in January and was released direct to Netflix on Friday.

I think Shanté’s story is more natural for a movie than your usual superstar music biopic it was more neighborhood legend than media event. I know her voice and style and “Roxanne’s Revenge” and some of the responses it inspired from rival female MCs, like when UTFO came back with someone calling herself “The Real Roxanne” added to the payroll. But she’s not like Johnny Cash or someone where they’re wedded to depicting the creation of all the most famous songs and their climbs up the charts and a bunch of iconic moments that people would be mad if they skipped. And there’s not a bunch of footage we’ve all seen a million times and can’t help but compare it to. (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 Man With the Iron Fists 2

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

tn_mwtif2My friends, I don’t know about you, but I count myself lucky to live in a world where one of my favorite hip hop producers, the RZA, not only got to write, direct and star in a legit kung fu movie, but got to do a DTV sequel directed by one of the leaders of the form (Roel Reiné, THE MARINE 2, DEATH RACE 23, SCORPION KING 3, 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED). If I somehow slipped and fell into an alternate dimension that’s okay. I’m not going back.

Filmed in Thailand with about a third of the first film’s budget, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 is much more normal and low key than the first one, I want to warn you of that up front. There are fewer colorful gimmicks, no crazy Russell Crowe performance, comparably grounded (both literally and figuratively) martial arts, and no mention of the cliffhanger from the director’s cut where I think he had to team up with the X-Blade to save his wife that got snatched by the Falcon Clan and put in a big nest on top of a mountain or something like that. But for me it’s still a very enjoyable sequel because it maintains the most important ingredient: the complete sincerity of the RZA. (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.

The Protector 2 (Tom Yum Goong 2)

Monday, March 31st, 2014

tn_tyg2bHow can the same shit happen to the same elephant twice?

The first thing that jumped out at me in TOM YUM GOONG 2 was the amount of digital effects. Part of what made us fall in love with Tony Jaa’s movies ONG BAK and TOM YUM GOONG a decade or so ago was that they were refreshingly organic. All real stunts, very few visual effects, for the most part not even using wires. So it’s jarring to suddenly see him dodging obvious digital cars and motorcycles, ducking a digital subway, running from a digital explosion. Of course all movies are fake, but that’s more of a low budget version of a DIE HARD type of action than a Thai style, where we’re used to seeing real guys get knocked off of real trucks and get back up for real.

By the way, who’s the sorry motherfucker who found it necessary to introduce green screens to the Thai film industry? There’s this whole great sequence of Jaa fighting motorcycles on a rooftop, and I’m sure most of the stunts are real, but because the background is clearly fake you start questioning the whole thing. They even use green screens for his closeups when he’s holding onto the top of a car. I guess we’re past the days when Thai stuntmen were the crazy motherfuckers who would do anything. They must’ve finally gotten a union. (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.

Tom Yum Goong 2 trailer

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

“Fierce as a lion, strong as an elephant. Sadly after today he’ll disappear forever.”

I can’t tell if this is gonna be any good, but I do know that 1) I personally requested in CLiNT magazine for them to shoot Tony Jaa in 3D, and they did it 2) it is the sequel to maybe my favorite straight-ahead martial arts movie of the 2000s. (Or top 5 if I put it up against KILL BILL.)

One thing I really hope for, though there’s no evidence in this trailer, is an attempt to one-up part 1’s famous long take fight scene. It doesn’t have to be the same kind of thing, but maybe some other spectacular idea we haven’t quite seen on that level before. One thing that makes TOM YUM GOONG so great is that they were clearly intent on outdoing everything they achieved in ONG BAK. They seem to have lost that spirit in later movies as Jaa started having a hard time living up to his legend or whatever was going on that caused him to abandon the filming of the ONG BAK sequels and become a monk for a while.

Now they have JeeJa around, which could help in the upping-the-ante department. And I like that RZA is the bad guy, since he is already kind of a TOM YUM GOONG villain for having rescored it for the bastardized Weinstein version THE PROTECTOR. (Not that he did a bad – or good- job. In fact, if the music on this trailer is from the movie I wouldn’t be against RZA taking a crack at it.)

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.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Monday, April 1st, 2013

tn_gijoe2BruceGI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA was a stupid fucking movie from a shitty director. I loved it. It was just so un-self-consciously ludicrous that it was hard not to enjoy. Like a hyperactive little kid that you would never want to be a parent to but just seeing him jump around giggling for a minute makes you laugh.

The directionist was Stephen “THE MUMMY” Sommers, a veteran of loud, dumb, rhythm-less and weirdly low rent big budget summer blockbuster type movies. The guy couldn’t direct his way through a “DIRECTORS ONLY” door, but he’s excited enough about ninjas and funny masks and shit that he accidentally made a fun one. I would say he made RISE OF COBRA fun not so much through his talents as through a series of coincidences. (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 Man With the Iron Fists

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS is the new kung fu movie directed, co-written and starring RZA, leader of the Wu-Tang Clan. The rap group, not the clan, although he has actually been a guest at the Shaolin Temple and trained under a 34th generation Shaolin monk, no bullshit. If you’re not a Shaolin monk and not into hip hop either you might still be familiar with RZA from his all time classic score to GHOST DOG: WAY OF THE SAMURAI or you might’ve seen him show up as an actor occasionally, like in AMERICAN GANGSTER or FUNNY PEOPLE.

Directing a kung fu movie, though, is something he’s been trying to do since at least the ’90s, when he started filming a super hero martial arts thing called BOBBY DIGITAL. (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.

Fred talks ‘Iron Fist’ with the RZA

Friday, October 1st, 2010

tn_rzashaolinI promise, I got an actual review coming soon, but I thought this was deserving of a “blog” post. Entertainment journalist and frequent outlawvern.com commenter Fred Topel got a chance to speak to Wu-Tang mastermind and soon-to-be-director-of-kung-fu-movie-starring-Russell-Crowe the RZA at Fantastic Fest. This is the RZA we’re talking about so Fred doesn’t get a normal concrete type of description of what the movie is about, but instead some abstract musings about RZA’s approach to the martial arts, the philosophy of the movie, why he thinks Crowe will be great and unexpected news about his plans for the music.

I was gonna post the link even before I saw that he dropped my name in one of the questions. Thanks for that one, Fred.

article on Crave Online

short one from Screen Junkies

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.

RZA to direct Academy Award winner Russell Crowe in kung fu movie

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
The RZA (right, with colleague)
The RZA (right, with colleague)

My buddy Telf tipped me off to this one. E! Online is reporting that Wu-Tang Clan abbot/GHOST DOG scorer the RZA is claiming that Russell Crowe is in his long-in-development kung fu movie THE MAN WITH THE IRON FIST. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, man, but we live in a world where Steven Seagal co-stars with Robert DeNiro and Jessica Alba, where Dolph Lundgren fights Jet Li on the big screen, and where the guy from THE INSIDER and GLADIATOR is hanging out with Bobby Digital. These are some pretty good times, in my opinion. (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.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Friday, April 16th, 2004

(another unused one for the ain’t it cool news.)

Harry and associates,

I am writing to inform you of an exciting new picture called KILL BILL VOLUME 2. Please forgive me if you already know about this one or have covered it already. Or if you have travelled to China to visit the set. I don’t usually read your sight except when my reviews are on it.

Just jerkin your chain bud but seriously here’s the deal. This has been coming on for a while but after seeing this movie I think today is the day. I would like to officially endorse the works of Mr. Tarantino as an important chapter in the history of Badass Cinema. VOLUME 2 is a very satisfying conclusion to that exciting saga of revenge we began oh those several months ago with The Bride. (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.