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

Posts Tagged ‘Walter Hill’

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 Assignment

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

THE ASSIGNMENT is Walter Hill’s weird new pariah of a movie, a Tale From the Crypt without a Keeper, based on a gimmick that was too challenging to execute properly, even ignoring the current touchiness of the subject matter. It’s much more interesting than good, more of a great acting challenge for Michelle Rodriguez (AVATAR) than a successful vehicle for her talents. Nice try, though.

Here’s what it’s about: ruthless hitman Frank Kitchen is just doing his thing one day, ruthless hitmanning, when he gets jumped and knocked unconscious and later he mysteriously wakes up in a hotel room with a woman’s body. Not, like, in bed with a dead woman. Like, he looks down and he has female genitalia. (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.

Hard Times

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

tn_hardtimesrookiesWalter Hill’s HARD TIMES could almost be a western or a samurai movie, but it happens to be a bareknuckle brawler movie instead. In fact I think it’s the template for my beloved sub-genre of the underground fight circuit movie. Charles Bronson as a guy named Chaney wanders into town (New Orleans circa 1933) on the back of a train. He’s so broke he can’t afford a coffee refill, but he sees a bunch of guys going into a warehouse across the street and he decides to follow them in. Turns out they’re there to gamble on a bare knuckle fight.

Did Chaney know that’s what was going on? Did he come here looking for it? Is this his vocation? Or does he just happen to notice this is going on and need the work? That would be pretty lucky for him, since he happens to be really fuckin good at it. But this is Charles Bronson we’re talking about. I’m sure he’d be the best at whatever manly job was available.

We don’t know what his deal is, but he approaches Speed (James Coburn), the manager of the losing fighter, and convinces him to get him a fight. Speed has no faith in him, but he’s got nothing to lose because Chaney has a little wad of life savings to put up the bet himself.  There’s a big buildup as everyone scoffs at him and then, as in so many of this genre later on (BLOOD AND BONE, NEVER BACK DOWN, DIGGSTOWN, ONG-BAK, LIONHEART, UNLEASHED [suggest others in the comments and I will add them to the list, I know there’s a million of ’em]), he K.O.s the guy in one blow. (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.

Bullet to the Head

Friday, February 1st, 2013

tn_bullettotheheadWe all know Walter Hill is one of the greats of Badass Cinema, but it’s been a while, at least in theaters. Somebody told me that because he was a writer on ALIEN he gets so much money that he only works when he really feels like it. And what he’s felt like working on for the last decade was made-for-cable westerns: BROKEN TRAIL and episodes of Deadwood. His last theatrical release was UNDISPUTED in 2002. As much as I love the Wesley Snipes performance and the DTV sequels I don’t like the movie very much. Before that Hill took his name off of SUPERNOVA and before that he did the mixed bag that was LAST MAN STANDING. Like I said, it’s been a while.

I wasn’t sure about Sylvester Stallone in this either. I’ve enjoyed the EXPENDABLESes okay and RAMBO a little more, but each took away some of the faith I had in Stallone after the comeback of ROCKY BALBOA. His last starring role that wasn’t from one of those series was also in 2002, it was AVENGING ANGELO.

I never thought that in 2013 these two would collaborate on a buddy action movie. And yet here we are. And I’m happy to report that it’s a respectable effort for both, especially Stallone.
(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.

Two more trailers: The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Hey, that’s nice. To celebrate the occasion of Expendables 2 we have trailers for upcoming Schwarzenegger and Stallone pictures, both from great directors. If you haven’t seen them I’ll show them to you.

First up we got THE LAST STAND from the director of BITTERSWEET LIFE, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD and I SAW THE DEVIL. I was hoping for something a little quieter and less Johnny-Knoxville-in-a-funny-hat than this looks, but I still thing it looks beautiful and appropriately absurd. I’ll take it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMmL0uQYeY

Next up is the Walter Hill buddy movie. Keep in mind that Hill hasn’t directed a theatrical movie since UNDISPUTED in

For a minute I thought that was Shannen Doherty as his daughter. That would’ve been weird. Also I see Falsone from Homicide: Life On the Street is in there. And I didn’t know it but I guess I always wanted to see an ax fight between Rambo and Kal Drogo.

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.

Streets of Fire

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

tn_streetsoffireYou guys ever heard of this one?

Okay, you were right, STREETS OF FIRE is pretty cool. I was a little skeptical because the poster calls it “A Rock & Roll Fable,” which is not really one of my top kinds of fables. I’m more of a free jazz fable type of guy, I like SPACE IS THE PLACE. Also I got some prejudices against the ’80s rock and the retro ’50s style fetishes. Luckily the singer gets kidnapped for most of the movie, so the long onstage performances are only at the beginning and end. It’s not a rock musical or anything. (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.

Trespass

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

tn_trespassDidn’t Robert Zemeckis used to be a big deal for movie nerds? Right now he’s mainly looked at as a heretic because of his obsession with doing those creepy motion computerized movies that I seem to be pretty alone in appreciating. But there was another Zemeckis before that, a live action one. Everybody loved that BACK TO THE FUTURE and a couple of his other movies. It seems like people used to put him up there just below Spielberg as one of those worshipped All-American brand name mainstream directors of the ’80s. (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.

Red Heat (1988)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

tn_redheatOne thing we’ve learned from the movies is that cops often come from faraway lands to follow a fugitive or transfer prisoners back to their jurisdictions, and when they do that they have to team with a screw-up from the local department and at first they hate each other and say ignorant things but over time the screw-up will learn from working with the foreigner and the foreigner will see something in the screw-up that no one else did and they will gain respect for each other and at the end they will be great friends to set up for the sequel that most likely will never come. Pat Morita came from Japan and did it in COLLISION COURSE, Jackie Chan came from Hong Kong and did it in RUSH HOUR, Clint Eastwood came from Arizona and sort of did it in COOGAN’S BLUFF, except he didn’t need the partner because he’s motherfuckin Clint. Well, here we got Schwarzenegger coming from Russia to Chicago to get the Georgian gangster who killed his partner and is bringing “the American poison” into their country. James Belushi has to escort him and Walter Hill has to escort the 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.

48 Hours + Another 48 Hours

Friday, April 11th, 2008

the complete 96 hour saga

48 HOURS is a well made and highly influential movie, but I think you sort of had to be there. Today about 30-42 hours of it holds up.

Coming 5 years before LETHAL WEAPON this is the father of the ’80s interracial buddy movies. The premise is that edgy cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte), in a desperate ploy to stop a killer, manages to get custody of convict Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) for two days to help him with the case. Of course they hate each other until they slowly earn each other’s respect. It’s cop vs. criminal, white vs. black, etc. Part of the fun is watching them flip each other shit and get in fights, although it gets uncomfortable because Nolte uses most of the racial slurs he knows – yes, including the N-word. He later apologizes and says he was just doing his job of keeping Reggie down – I’m not sure what that’s meant to say about cops but you can interpret it how you want. (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 Warriors

Friday, August 24th, 2007

I gotta be honest. As good as THE WARRIORS is it’s not quite the amazing masterpiece I like to remember it as. What makes it good is mostly on the surface: the different gangs and their gimmicks, the bleak rawness of everything from the cinematography to the John Carpenter-ish analog keyboard music, and the dead seriousness of all the characters in the face of this exaggerated world where thugs patrol the streets in baseball uniforms and gangs seem to outnumber law abiding citizens by a thousand to one.

This is all more than enough to make it some kind of minor classic, but my memory was being pretty charitable to the storytelling. I always loved the mythological simplicity of it: Cyrus calls a meeting to try to unite all the gangs, some prick assassinates Cyrus and blames The Warriors, now these 9 guys have to cross New York on foot to get back home before the other gangs kill them. It’s a good old fashioned odyssey or a guantlet or whatever. (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.