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

Posts Tagged ‘Screen Actor’s Guild Award Winner Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’

The Fate of the Furious

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Here we are, number eight in the impossible series. The one that started as cheesy car exploitation with surprising heart, and evolved into… the FAST AND THE FURIOUS series. The one that, I am happy to say, is still the longest running movie series that I like every installment of. (Second place is still DEATH WISH. I am now aware that RESIDENT EVIL comes close, but I don’t like the first one.)

That is not to say that it can sustain forever. But only because fossil fuels will eventually run out. Inevitably, there has been a slight downward arc in quality since the untoppable back-to-back peaking of FAST FIVE and FURIOUS 6, but part FATE is still an immensely entertaining chapter in the ongoing soap opera about friends who have been repeatedly swallowed and coughed up by the impossible, and filmmakers who have not yet run out of ways to go bigger and more ridiculous than last time. (Hint: car playing chicken with nuclear submarine.)

Ah, who am I fooling, there is no room for hints in this review. This is gonna be straight up SPOILERs throughout. I’ll write it so it makes sense to those who will foolishly avoid the movie and just read this, but my recommendation is obviously to go see the movie first. I will not be pussyfooting around about surprises. We’re gonna want to discuss them. (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 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.

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.

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.

Gamer

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

tn_gamerLet’s say you are a feedback and distortion fetishist. Fuzz and blips, pixelation, video lines, VHS rolling from bad tracking – these things get you hard. That’s fine. We are all beautiful snowflakes. What you do in that case is you make a video of all that stuff, you hide it under your bed, you get it out when you’re lonely. What you don’t do unless you have no self control is make a feature film needlessly slathered in that shit and release it in theaters and on home video to paying audiences who want to be told a story and not just watch little flickers and shit.

More to the point, let’s say you are also a wiseass camera operator who enjoys running through explosions in a firesuit or rollerblading around holding a camcorder, but have not yet developed an interest in some of the other elements of photography such as framing or holding still. Fine! Great! That is your calling, you should rollerblade all you want. It is probly good aerobic exercise. But I have one caveat: if your plan is to incorporate that footage into an actual movie and not just an episode of JACKASS then you have a responsibility to look at the footage first and ask yourself if somebody could watch it and understand what in God’s holy name is being shown. And if the directational fraternity duo Nevildine/Taylor were being honest with themselves the answer to that question would usually be “No. No, not at all. Oh jesus, no, are you kidding me? Uh uh.” I’m thinking maybe these guys should forget about the cameras and just be stunt men. They seem more interested in carrying the camera through risky situations than actually pointing the lens of it at specific things. (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.

2 Fast 2 Furious

Friday, July 7th, 2006

I recently saw and enjoyed THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS PRESENTS TOKYO DRIFT, part 3 in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS saga. And it reminded me that it was time I got around to seeing part 2. This one is closer to a straightup sequel. They couldn’t get Vin Diesel to return so instead they just follow Paul Walker’s character.

I know that probaly all of you have seen that first movie over a thousand times and have it memorized backwards, forwards and sideways, but in case there is one person out there who may not be familiar with the story, I want to help that one person out. In the first movie, Paul Walker is a new street racer in town who befriends Vin Diesel, who is the charismatic leader of a team of racers, but is also leading a gang of armed robbers or a chop shop or arms dealers or kidnappers or something. And a ways into the movie you find out that Paul is actually an undercover cop trying to bust Vin. But throughout the movie they have a special sort of male bonding – the type that happens between an undercover cop and his mark, or between two dudes obsessed with cars – so at the end Paul purposely lets Vin escape. (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.

Crash (2005)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Unfortunately this is not the pervy Cronenberg movie I’ve never gotten around to seeing about the people getting off on car crashes. This is the race relations movie directed by Paul Haggis, writer of Clint’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY. I gotta be honest, my reason for seeing this was not that I thought I would like it, but that I was just real damn curious. Because it got so many rave reviews, and Roger Ebert chose it as the best of the year, but every single person I knew who had seen it said it was corny, overwrought bullshit.

I hate to be a centrist but I think it falls somewhere in the middle. It seems well intentioned. It’s trying to point out different kinds of subconscious racism, it’s trying to show that people are complicated, racists maybe have a chance of being redeemed, people who don’t think they are racists might end up shooting a black dude, etc. It’s one of those movies where there’s a bunch of different characters tangentally connected by coincidence and you find out as the story unfolds what they have to do with each other, which can be fun. And there’s some good little moments and whatnot. One of the best scenes actually involves a cop trying to save somebody from a flipped car before it blows up. In other words, a scene you can see in every single episode of CHiPs. But this is better directed so it’s pretty intense. Also Tony Danza has a cameo. (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.

Hustle & Flow

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I had a good feeling about this movie from right about the time the title came on the screen. It was a shot of a pimp (Terence Howard) and a ho (Taryn Manning) driving in a car, and it freeze frames to write the title in yellow ’70s style lettering.

I always like Terence Howard but I’ve never seen him in a lead role before. He’s always the supporting role that steals the movie. Here he has a lead role that steals the movie. I haven’t seen GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN but I would be surprised if Terence Howard’s performance in this movie doesn’t run a hundred circles around his co-star in that movie, both as an actor and as a rapper. True, he does mumble alot in this movie (you almost need subtitles) but I still feel his enunciation is better than Fifty Cents. (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.