"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Posts Tagged ‘Sheldon Lettich’

Self indulgent THE GOOD THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY journal

Monday, June 27th, 2016

tn_gdtBwarning: I had to write this down as a time capsule of my book signing experience. Read at own risk.

 

Today, like the mighty sasquatch, I live as a recluse somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, in the name of transparency, I was out in the open in Burbank, California, joining lower-cased author david j. moore as one of the many guests signing his gigantic coffee table book THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY: ACTION MOVIES & STARS 1960s-PRESENT.

“It’s about action stars, not action movies,” david kept telling people as he signed their books. He’d wanted a different subtitle that made that more clear. Rather than trying to catalog everything that could technically qualify as an action movie – which could end up being half super heroes and transformerses and shit – he chose to zero in on the dying art of the action star vehicle. I remember him calling me for counsel on this issue a few years ago. I don’t think I was much help, but I agreed with his eventual decision to limit it to actors who primarily or exclusively do action, and (with a few exceptions) started as martial artists or athletes. That means no to my boys Bruce and Clint, sorry to say, but yes to JCVD, Cynthia Rothrock, Jerry Trimble, Michael Dudikoff, Olivier Gruner, ex-diver Jason Statham, and plenty of people I’m not even familiar with. People who never had books about them before, who you never thought would have books about them. (He does include Bronson, Stallone and Schwarzenegger, if you’re worried.)
(read the rest of this shit…)

Perfect Target

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Daniel Bernhardt is a Swiss martial artist and model who appeared in a Versace commercial with Jean-Claude Van Damme, then was hired to play the lead in the BLOODSPORT sequels. So it’s only natural that in 1997 he inherited Van Damme’s frequent collaborator Sheldon Lettich, who had already directed LIONHEART and DOUBLE IMPACT (plus the great Mark Dacascos capoeria-‘n-teaching movie ONLY THE STRONG). But I’m sorry to say the substitute is not as good as the real thing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Only the Strong

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

tn_onlythestrongLadies and gentlemen, I present to you the best find of my Back To School Special. Maybe THE SUBSTITUTE is better, but I’d already seen that one before so I knew what to expect. This is a surprisingly natural hybrid of the inspirational teacher movie with the American martial arts star vehicle. It embraces the necessary corniness of both genres and seems a little more sincere about the turning kids around aspect than THE SUBSTITUTE does. And it came out in ’93, three years earlier.

It stars American Iron Chef host Mark Dacascos and it’s directed by long-time Van Damme collaborator Sheldon Lettich. This is his third directational work after LIONHEART and DOUBLE IMPACT. Dacascos plays Louis Stevens, a peace time Green Beret who fell in love with the martial art capoeira while stationed in Brazil. He was apparently some kind of troublemaking kid until a good teacher named Mr. Kerrigan (EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE sidekick Geoffrey Lewis) turned him around and convinced him to join the military. Once he gets out he returns to the school to see if there’s any way he can work there and try to make a difference in other young people’s lives. The school is a hellhole and he pretty much gets tossed out on his ass. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lionheart

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

LIONHEART is Van Damme circa 1991, and his best up to that point if you ask me, which by reading this you agree to do. As a matter of personal taste I think competitive fighting is one of the squarest action subgenres. You got less room for chase scenes and explosions, the rules and locales of the fights are too rigid. I mean nothing against a good pre-fight jitters locker room scene or a spooky ancient temple with torches and mystical snake statues, but I prefer a more urban style of action movie. One with crooks and creeps, alleys, fire escapes, car windshields.

LIONHEART is a smart compromise because it continues the competitive fighting of BLOODSPORT and KICKBOXER but in a cartoonish underground fighting circuit in New York and Los Angeles. This is another subgenre that gets old fast, usually because you get sick of looking at the same dimly lit arena with a fence or barbwire, maybe a strobelight. This one avoids that pitfall by having a new location and crowd for each fight: a circle of cars (with people rollerskating around), a swimming pool with all but the deep end drained (crowd in bikinis like it’s a pool party), inside somebody’s mansion (a black tie event) and (my favorite) a racquetball court. Brian Thompson is there but never fights. The real villain is Cynthia (could’ve sworn the credits just called her “The Lady,” but maybe I imagined that) the stereotypical L.A. rich bitch of the ’80s: short hair, expensive clothes, sexually and capitalistically aggressive. (read the rest of this shit…)

Double Impact

Saturday, January 1st, 2000

Well I thought this would be funny because Jean-Claude Van Damme plays twins but it is not one of his better pictures in my opinion. It is not nearly as boring as Cyborg, but it is pretty generic and dull and shows few signs of the iconoclastic action pioneer that Van Damme would later become.

I guess he does an okay job of playing two different characters for such a limited actor but you would think they would do more with the twin concept. The opening scene where jean claude’s characters is only a baby is pretty well done, but then it skips to 25 years later and the happy keyboard music plays and it’s just your usual mistaken identity twin garbage. (read the rest of this shit…)