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

Posts Tagged ‘Ving Rhames’

Undisputed (revisited)

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Ever since the unlikely series of events that turned UNDISPUTED into one of today’s greatest action franchises, I’ve tried to better appreciate Walter Hill’s 2002 prison boxing drama that started it all. In my review from fifteen years ago I called it “asinine” and generally had a bad attitude toward it without really giving a strong argument for why. Over the years I’ve rewatched it a few times and though I always think it’s decent, it never quite clicks for me. I can’t say that’s entirely changed on this viewing, but I definitely liked it more than on previous viewings.

So I did it! I better appreciated it!

The story is about a humble toothpick-model-builder and convicted murderer named Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes, MONEY TRAIN) who’s just minding his own business being the undefeated champion of a secret prison boxing league when suddenly the actual heavyweight champion of professional boxing, George “The Iceman” Chambers (Ving Rhames, THE TOURNAMENT) gets locked up there. And it’s like having both a Jason and a Freddy out there in the universe – eventually, one way or another, these two are gonna have to end up pitting their skills against each other so we can see who wins. After all, the legendary mobster Mendy Ripstein (Peter Falk, PRONTO) is in there too and he’s a passionate connoisseur of the sweet science, he’s not gonna let it not happen. (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 People Under the Stairs

Monday, October 17th, 2016

tn_puts“Your father is one sick mother, you know that? Actually, your mother’s one sick mother too.”

I like THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS because it’s Wes Craven’s feverish impressionist portrait of American economic inequality circa 1991. It lacks the precise metaphoric aim and pulp effectiveness of THEY LIVE, but it’s Craven’s version of that same type of genre-film-as-angry-shout-at-The-Man.

In fact, one of the villains is even credited as “The Man” (Everett McGill, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY). He and “The Woman” (Wendy Robie, THE GLIMMER MAN) own a big old house inherited from their family, living off of the rent from the “half of the ghetto” that they own. One of their tenants is our 13 year old protagonist Poindexter Williams (Brandon Adams, GHOST IN THE MACHINE – and this kid looks really familiar for some reason), who goes by the nickname Fool after the Tarot card of some joker trapped between a fire and a cliff. That’s where he is now, because at his back is having to pay triple rent or get kicked out of the apartment so the Man and Woman can razed it and build condos, at his front is his sister’s friend Spencer (Ving Rhames, FORCE OF EXECUTION) trying to pressure him into breaking into the slum lords’ house to steal gold coins they can use to pay the rent and for mom’s cancer treatment. (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.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

tn_mi5It’s been a joke for quite some time that Tom Cruise, like Prince or Keanu Reeves, never ages. Actually, now he’s starting to show some age, and I like it. He has a few more lines on his face, a little more character. Good work, Tom. Also his new MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movie is good.

It has been a tradition in the series to have a respectable actor in a position of authority over Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force team. In part 1, Jon Voight played the boss and mentor. In part 2, Anthony Hopkins sent Hunt on his missions. In part 3 there was Laurence Fishburne to question his actions, and in part ghost Tom Wilkinson was “the Secretary.” Now in part 5, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (M:I-RN), we have the most involved of all of these characters, Alec Baldwin as CIA director Alan Hunley. He gets the entire IMF agency disbanded and tries to capture or kill Hunt, who is still in the field trying to finish his last mission.

What I’m getting at is that Alec Baldwin’s famous narrator voice gets to deliver a very good Just How Badass Is He? speech for Ethan Hunt, which includes the appropriately hyperbolic phrase “he is the manifestation of destiny.” That’s one of the many advantages of having Christopher McQuarrie aboard as director and co-writer. The man made JACK REACHER. He loves a good Just How Badass Is He? speech. (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.

Mission: Impossible

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

tn_m-iI don’t know about you guys, but I have found that it’s weird watching Brian DePalma’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE for the first time since the 1990s. Tom Cruise sure doesn’t look 52 now, but he does look a little younger here than he does now. I kinda forgot he used to be like this. More fidgety and cocky, kinda smarmy, playing it really different from in the other movies, because he’s newer. His Ethan Hunt is not the leader, he’s the apprentice of the original TV series hero Jim Phelps (now played by John Voight), forced to strike out on his own, without his mentor or his team, for the first time. Yeah, he seems much younger.

Holy shit, this movie is 19 years old. That’s almost 20 years old. Which is alot of years in my opinion. And alot has changed. I forgot how different this series got over time.

I think MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is unique among the summer blockbusters. It has a bunch of the usual qualities: it’s a big movie star vehicle, based on an existing “property,” climaxes in a noisy special effects-laden action spectacle, did end up becoming a franchise that’s still going today. At the same time it is a Brian DePalma movie, it doesn’t feel like he had to compromise anything. He got to take his style and his interests and experiment with them on a little larger canvas than usual. His gimmicky suspense sequences, twists and tricks are right at home with characters who elaborately deceive for a living. His POV shots put you right into the action when you enter a party as Hunt in disguise, but also they show up in the form of cameras actually worn by the agents to keep tabs on each other and, in one case, to mislead each other. (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.

Force of Execution

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

tn_foe“I think the streets are clean for a while. I’m a dinosau’. Ain’t nobody around like me no more, so…”

Steven Seagal’s new one FORCE OF EXECUTION isn’t really a movie I would recommend to most people, mainly because they would ask what “force of execution” means and I would have no idea what to say. I guess it means the same thing as “reservoir dogs,” but just doesn’t sound as cool or poetic.

However, as a dedicated Seagalogist (in fact, one of the West Coast’s most respected, if I do say so myself) I found plenty of things interesting about this one. In fact, I watched it without reading anything about it and it kept confounding my expectations for a Seagal picture. In the opening scene Seagal’s character Mr. Alexander has a guy tied to a chair and he’s threatening him, saying “You broke the code, Sasha,” and stuff like that. He gives him a knife and tells him to slit his own throat as punishment for being “a rat.” When the guy tries to defend himself Mr. Alexander beats him to death and complains about getting blood on his suit. I mean, Seagal characters are always kinda over the line, but they don’t usually capture a traitor, torture and kill him. (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.

Death Race 3: Inferno

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

tn_deathrace3DEATH RACE 3 is of course the sequel to the DTV prequel to Paul W.S. Anderson’s theatrical sort-of remake of Paul Bartel and Roger Corman’s DEATH RACE 2000. To gage my response you will need to see my scorecard: I consider DEATH RACE 2000 a classic, DEATH RACE a surprisingly solid b-movie, DEATH RACE 2 a pretty enjoyable DTV prequel to that type of movie. And part 3 rates about the same as part 2.

It’s all the same people: Luke Goss (BLADE II, HELLBOY 2) returns as the pre-Statham Frankenstein, masked hero of the newly invented car racing to-the-death prison circuit. Tanit Phoenix is still his sexy girl navigator, Danny Trejo is still his mechanic, Ving Rhames still Weyland, the warden/CEO of Terminal Island, and from the movie we have Fred Koehler as the somewhat autistic Lists and Robin “Liu Kang” Shou in his traditional P.W.S. Anderson supporting player role as fellow racer 14K. Part 2’s director Roel Reine (of PISTOL WHIPPED and THE MARINE 2 fame) and writer Tony Giglio (story by Anderson) also return.
(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.

Death Race 2

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

tn_deathrace2You know, sometimes life brings you down unexpected roads. I never asked to be the guy who liked Paul Not Thomas Anderson’s gratuitous remake of DEATH RACE 2000. It just didn’t seem like something that would happen to me, especially after I skipped the movie in theaters and everybody told me it was shit. But then the DVD came along and I wanted to see what it was like and I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy it. (In other words I will not be damned. I did enjoy it.)

And this week life struck again. Turns out I also like DEATH RACE 2, the DTV prequel.

(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.

Piranha 3D

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

tn_piranha3dYou know, people always complain that there’s too much crap out there and not enough smart movies, not enough movies that have something to say or make you think or really move your soul. But then when a truly important and powerful film like that does manage to slip through the cracks – and I’m talking specifically about PIRANHA 3-D, which is a new 3-D movie about piranhas – those same complainers always stay home, the movie doesn’t make as much money as hoped and Hollywood is forced to go back to making the types of movies that do make lots of money, like INCEPTION. So shame on you, moviegoers. Shame shame and shame again. You have blood on your hands. You are murderers and liars. Fuck you.

I really mean this seriously. Well, not that seriously. Well, not at all seriously. But kind of. You don’t have to see PIRANHA 3-D if you don’t want to. But if that’s your stance I really gotta ask: what do you not understand about the title PIRANHA 3-D? It’s right there. It speaks for itself. Piranhas are a type of deadly carnivorous fish, by the way, did you not know that? Okay, obviously you’re gonna go now. I’m glad we straightened that out. (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.

Kiss of Death (1995)

Friday, February 5th, 2010

tn_kissofdeathThis is the kind of story that’s best to go in dark and just watch how things unfold. But I’m gonna have to describe some of it to explain the movie. At the start Jimmy (David Caruso) is on parole, he’s got a young daughter, and he and his wife (Helen Hunt) are both recovering alcoholics. She got a babysitter so they could go to a meeting together but he didn’t know that was the plan so he already went to a meeting by himself earlier. While he stays home watching the baby his cousin Ronnie (Michael Rappaport) shows up and begs him to come drive a truck loaded with stolen cars. Jimmy tries to throw Ronnie out (“I could go to jail just for talking to you”) but Ronnie has a broken finger and convinces his cousin that somebody’s gonna kill him if he doesn’t find a driver. And Jimmy’s the last on the list. (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.

Give ‘Em Hell Malone

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

tn_giveemhellmaloneThomas Jane plays Malone, a fedora-wearing, ’52 Buick driving, ten thousand bullet firing, fake film noir style opening scene narrating, badass private eye motherfucker in a mostly empty city portrayed by Spokane, Washington. The movie takes place in the modern day (email is mentioned once) but obviously takes most of its cues from the cliches of detective stories/film noir, including the femme fatale client, the fast, back-and-forth quipping and, you know, his hat. He’s old fashioned enough that he keeps calling women “sister.” Also, alot of the score is that cheesy type of saxophone they always use in modern movies and TV as a code for “it’s like an old private eye movie.” (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.