Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.
Really, what more is there to say? Vern’s the man, and if he says it’s time to go buy STONE COLD on DVD, who am I to argue?
Ladies and gentlemen, the day has come. The eagle has landed. Brian Bosworth’s 1991 film debut STONE COLD is finally available on Region 1 DVD. We’re through the looking glass, people.
As a DVD this is kind of a bust. There isn’t even a trailer on the thing. They did spring for interactive menus, that’s about it. They even labeled the disc wrong, the widescreen is actually on the standard side and vice versa. The movie is about a biker gang, but the cover seems designed to make it look like a current DTV espionage thriller – there’s not a single motorcycle pictured on the front or back.
But you know what, even that can’t stop STONE COLD. I’ve been recommending this movie to people for a while now but it was only on VHS so it got tricky. As of this week they will find it in finer movie stores and gas stations for around ten or fifteen bucks. What a year for DVD, man. First HOLY MOUNTAIN, now STONE COLD.
Let me be clear: this is a cheesy action movie. This is not a legit classic like DIE HARD. This is more along the lines of a ROADHOUSE, a really ridiculous movie where you start out watching it because it’s goofy but by the end, whether you have the balls to admit it or not, you know deep down in your soul that the movie kicked your ass. You pointed at it, you laughed at it, but it turned the tables and defeated you fair and square. If you have any sense of sportsmanship you will admit that this movie is awesome. Even if it was kicked off of its college team for using steroids.
Some people might not know who Brian Bosworth is. Now days he is known for some straight to video action movies, the best one probaly being ONE MAN’S JUSTICE, aka ONE TOUGH BASTARD, which is from the director of EQUILIBRIUM and features MC Hammer as a drug kingpin. But he got that career after a brief stint in the NFL. If you lived in Seattle between ’87 and ’89 you probaly remember the hooplah. He had a cartoonish rebel persona and was known for his ridiculous haircut. People who see it in this movie might think it’s a mullet, but back then it was a “Boz cut.” Little kids all around Washington copied the Boz cut which usually included stripes or designs shaved into the sides or even a Seahawks logo dyed into it. And I can’t believe I can’t find this shit on Google, but there was this poster you saw everywhere called “Land of Boz” which showed Bosworth on a yellow brick road with a bunch of little munchkin lookalikes. It was a big deal. After 3 seasons he had to retire due to a shoulder injury. But he had a good contract, I believe he still got millions out of those 3 years. So he didn’t have to go work at Boeing, he was able to take a few years to just go on an inner journey of peace and contemplate the world and that was when he realized the world was ready for STONE COLD.
Let me just point out a few things about STONE COLD. Number one, there is a scene where Bosworth is inside a state supreme court building and about to be run over by a motorcycle. So he shoots the driver in the head, causing the motorcycle to launch out a window, collide with a helicopter – which explodes, then falls down and lands on a car, which also explodes. Number two, there is a scene where Lance Henriksen, dressed as a priest, guns down an entire jury with a machine gun. Number three, the Boz hugs a kimono dragon in one part. Number four, there’s a shot from the POV of an electric guitar. Number five, pretty much the whole movie is like that, I’m not just listing the only good parts.
Bosworth plays a rebellious cop who is already suspended as of the opening scene, you don’t have to see him get suspended. (He still foils a violent grocery store robbery, though.) Because he has a good record of biker arrests the FBI forces him to go undercover in a violent biker gang called The Brotherhood.
The supreme evil of The Brotherhood is illustrated in a classic, fast-paced sequence. First we see a big scary bald guy blow away a priest in the middle of a baptism. There is no context, we have to assume there was no motive at all, but you do see the priest fly through a stained glass window (please pause to note that as the window shatters you can see the rest of the gang sitting outside enjoying the show). Next the bald guy is convicted of murder. Then, the judge who convicted him is blown up. During his investigation, the Boz will discover that the Brotherhood plan to assassinate Senator Brent “Whip” Whipperton, who runs for re-election on an “actually we should execute the bald biker guy who blew away the priest” platform.
So yes, it’s that cartoonish type of bikers. They shoot beer cans off each other’s shoulders using machine guns, they have grenades, they have access to helicopters, they have names like Gut, Tool, Trouble, Mudfish. Their leader is Chains, played by the great Lance HARD TARGET Henriksen, and their second in command is Ice, played by the also great William OUT FOR JUSTICE Forsythe. Either one of those guys are usually a topnotch action movie villain, but STONE COLD has both of them.
Of course, silly action movies are a dime a dozen, especially back then. I think all this shit with The Boz being an eccentric cop is funny as hell, but I wouldn’t be recommending it to you simply based on some laughs at the movie’s expense. STONE COLD’s secret weapon is the director, Craig R. Baxley. He comes from a family of stunt people, and he has a hell of a resume. He did stunts in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, CHARLEY VARRICK, MR. MAJESTYK. He was stunt coordinator for THE WARRIORS and PREDATOR. Also second unit director for PREDATOR. So from there he got into directing and fans of that era of lower budget action will know some of his work. The best known are ACTION JACKSON and I COME IN PEACE. If you watch those movies and this one, you gotta love Baxley, at least as a friend. ACTION JACKSON has a scene where Carl Weathers drives a car into a mansion and upstairs into Craig T. Nelson’s bedroom, where he fights Craig T. Nelson. Who is playing a karate expert.
Baxley never made a movie as good as McTiernan’s best, but he had his own thing, his movies have a real good vibe to them, full of what one could only call Explosive Action, done the old fashioned way, with people. People always say some asshole like Michael Bay “knows how to blow shit up” because he has the money to tell his assistant to hire a guy to hire another guy to hire somebody else to pay ten thousand dollars to create an explosion and then soup it up digitally. Well, I bet Craig Baxley literally knows how to blow shit up. I bet he has actually done it. That is my hunch. At any rate, he knows how to add extra punch to action scenes. He knows when to send a guy hurling through the air, when to create a gratuitous fiery explosion, when to have a guy jump face first through a window, when to have Lance Henriksen hold a gun to a guy’s back and fire bullets through him. He knows how to film a car hurling through the air – you know why? Because he knows how to DRIVE a car hurling through the air.
After multiple viewings of STONE COLD it might start to drag a little in the middle, but still, this is an amazing work. Very few movies of this type deliver so consistently. There are plenty of movies that might seem like they would be funny based on having an ex-football player with a funny haircut go undercover as a biker, or what have you. But rarely do they live up to the awesome movie that you imagine that movie would be. I have recommended STONE COLD to many people and so far nobody has been disappointmed. It has the Vern Guarantee of Excellence. If you’re into this sort of shit – and I know you are because you seem like a pretty cool guy – STONE COLD is a must-see.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32966