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

Posts Tagged ‘Vin Diesel’

Saving Private Ryan

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

tn_sprspielbergNo joke, I never saw SAVING PRIVATE RYAN before. I’ve never been big on war movies and I think back when it was a recent movie I was real cynical and suspicious of any type of flagwaving. I thought movies like this were just brainwashing kids to join up in case they needed to blow up Iraq again.

But that’s stupid. This one’s about “the good war” and still makes it look like something to avoid at all costs. The famous Omaha Beach invasion sequence near the beginning is a total bloodbath, soldiers pouring off the boats into waves of machine gun bullets. They might as well just be jumping from a diving board directly into a giant fan, it seems like. (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.
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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.

Reindeer Games

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

tn_reindeergamesIn the popular song and cartoon RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, “reindeer games” are the fun group activities that all the popular reindeers enjoy but Rudolph is excluded from due to his low social caste. In the movie REINDEER GAMES the character “Monster” (Gary Sinise) uses it as a synonym for “funny business,” something that he threatens Rudy (Ben Affleck) not to participate in. This misuse of Christmas terminology doesn’t bother Rudy or probly occur to him, but it does bug him when Clarence Williams III keeps referring to “Santa’s dwarves.” So he does have a certain amount of respect for Christmas tradition.

REINDEER GAMES is not a Christmas movie in the sense that it’s about Christmas, or about somebody coming to a realization about the meaning of Christmas, at least not a very convincing one. But I can guarantee you this much: it takes place in December, with a heist planned for Christmas Eve, and with the participators all dressed as Santa Claus. So there are some discussions of cranberries and what not. Maybe a mention of sugar plums, I can’t remember for sure. (Have you ever had sugar plums? They’re actually really fuckin good. I wish I knew a place that sold them. I might have visions of them dancing in my head now that I remembered them.)
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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.

Find Me Guilty

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

tn_findmeguiltyRemember around the time you first heard about Vin Diesel, you would read all this shit about how he wasn’t just some dumb musclehead, he was a multi-talented enigma, he directed a short that caught Steve Spielberg’s eye, blah blah blah? But then he just did a bunch of action and action-like movies, many of them not very good, turned down the sequels, never got his HANNIBAL movie off the ground, then eventually had to stoop to the Hulk-Hogan-in-MR.-NANNY route to get a hit, and everybody wrote him off?

Well, I think he might get things rolling again, but we’ll see. And even if he doesn’t, it turns out he’s got one role under his belt that fits that “more than meets the eye” hype and shows that he’s got more range than just the differences between Riddick and Dominic Teretto (hint: Riddick wears goggles). (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.

Babylon A.D.

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

7% on Rotten Tomatoes… that’s bad, right? I was kind of interested in this idea of Vin Diesel returning in a big sci-fi movie directed by the guy who did LA HAINE (you know, Kassovitz. Amelie’s boyfriend, later in MUNICH). But then there were all these stories about the studio cutting it to shreds, and then the reviews were CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST brutal, and even Kassovitz called it “pure violence and stupidity” before it was even released, pretty much signaling that he was so disappointed in the movie that he was willing to throw away any future chance at directing in Hollywood. I mean those are some pretty bad omens there in my opinion so I couldn’t work up the courage to pay money to see it in a theater. I remember even talking a buddy out of going to see it by describing how bad the buzz was. It was so bad it wasn’t even buzz, it was more of a whistle.

So I’m surprised to be sitting here telling you this, but this movie is actually kind of good. I mean, unlike Vin Diesel’s character, who does a flip on a snowmobile in one scene, the movie doesn’t stick the landing. The conclusion borders on silly, the storytelling becomes pretty muddled (possibly due in part to those studio cuts, I’m not sure) and I was not sure I really understood the point of how it ended up. But as a whole it’s so much better than I had been led to believe. Aside from some corny Riddick-style opening and closing narration Diesel is a cool action movie character inhabiting a fleshed out, believable world of chaos not too far in the future. (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 Chronicles of Riddick

Thursday, June 17th, 2004

I don’t know if you ever saw PITCH BLACK. It was a low budget ALIENS type movie about a bunch of space-people who get stranded on a planet where nasty monsters come out and eat everybody at night. And then if I remember right there is an eclipse, so it’s gonna be a long fuckin night. So they’re pretty much fucked except luckily they have this dude Riddick on board. He is a prisoner actually, a scary mass killer type, but he has surgically altered glowing eyes so he can see in the dark. So with him being good at killing and seeing in the dark, he is a good guy to let loose in this situation. So the murderer becomes some sort of a part time hero when faced with alien monsters, he saves some lives and possibly leaves his old self behind.

Personally I thought the movie wasn’t so hot. It starts out good but the aliens just aren’t all that convincing or scary and I lost interest after a while. But this Riddick character, played by the then unknown Vin Diesel, was a cool idea and memorably played by Mr. Diesel. The great Keith David is in there too playing a preacher named Imam, but I guess not as memorably, since I forgot he was in it until I saw him in this sequel. (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.

xXx

Friday, August 9th, 2002

Well you know me, I’ve been talking about the badass presence of Vin Diesel just as long as anyone has, anyone except for him. I’ve been looking forward to this moronic concept of a Vin Diesel star vehicle, figuring anything this stupid starring Vin Diesel would have to be a good time. You saw my epic dissertation on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS so you know how I enjoy Vin’s egomaniacal charisma combined with Rob Cohen’s pathetic zeitgeist-chasing high conceptualism.

XXX is completely asinine. And I loved that about it. For about half an hour. Then it just got boring in the exact same way all the modern James Bond movies are boring. It takes a special type of standard lowering to enjoy ANYBODY driving around dreary european villages on motorcycles shooting machine guns and blowing things up in the usual ways. You can only watch a henchman shot into the air by an explosion so many times before you start to ask for more from your badass cinematists. I don’t care if you had a young Clint Eastwood riding piggyback on Steve McQueen, you’d still get bored with this movie before it got to the climax. (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

Friday, June 22nd, 2001

There are many arbitrary ways to divide filmatists into two groups. Today I’m gonna separate out the ones who have an obvious vision/theme/style/obsession (good or bad) that can be seen throughout most of their works. For example you can look at your Alfred Hitchcock or your David Lynch or your Roger Vadim and you can usually tell who is responsible for this business. I mean even a Michael Bay or a Kevin Smithee, the lowest of the low, has a signature style. Or you can at least see what the dude was going for there.

Then in the other group we have the commercial or “hack” filmatist who goes from one project to the next just looking for something that might be successful, or that seems cinematic, or that might capture that fuckin zeitgeist thing the germans are always so interested in. Some of these guys might even be decent at the directation of films but they just don’t put that strong of a personal stamp on them. For example you got your John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Dracula [1979], Short Circuit, Point of No Return) or your Randal Kleiser (Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Grease, The Blue Lagoon, Big Top Pee-Wee, Honey I Blew Up the Kid). Occasionally they make a good picture like Saturday Night Fever but you still have no idea what these clowns are trying to do artistic-wise. They’re just doing a job, like plumbing or washing windows or passing out pizza coupons and gum samples on the street corner. They punch the clock and then they go home. (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.