tn_neverbackdown2Every once in a while there’s enough goings on in this type of movies we love that it’s worth a bunch of quick mentions in one post, to make sure everybody is up-to-date. So here is the rundown in the form of a convenient numbered list.

1. Sylvester Stallone has met with Walter Hill to possibly direct his movie HEADSHOT.

Stallone is doing this movie that was gonna be directed by Wayne Kramer (RUNNING SCARED) but they had creative differences and broke up but are still friends. Now Deadline is reporting that good ol’ Walter Hill is one of the directors Stallone has met with as a possible rebound.

Honestly I don’t have high hopes for the movie. Nice title and everything, but apparently the disagreement was over Stallone wanting it to be more of a comedy than Kramer did, and I don’t really trust Stallone’s ear for comedy and laffs. Still, this is an exciting story because a) maybe Walter Hill could make something out of it and b) this could be a good sign for the type of directors he might look at for EXPENDABLES 2. I didn’t put Hill on my list because I read somewhere that he gets so much money from the ALIEN movies that he only works when he really wants to. But I know alot of you guys had him on your lists. If he’s meeting with guys like that for the one movie I’m sure the subject of the other one comes up too.

2. Holy shit, Schwarzenegger might do a movie with the director of BITTERSWEET LIFE.

While Entertainment Weekly has made a big story about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first post-governorship project (a Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos style piece of garbage cartoon for little kids):

the real story is that he’s at least considering the English language debut by Kim Ji-Woon, according to slashfilm’s sources anyway. Liam Neeson was set to star at one point, he left, and this other guy happened to be available.

If Schwarzenegger was just gonna continue in the vein of his last couple movies I wouldn’t be too excited about it. We don’t need more COLLATERAL DAMAGEs. But I’ve seen quotes from him about wanting to follow Clint’s model and do movies that take advantage of his age instead of try to ignore it. Working with a great director like this would be very promising, and both parties could benefit. I mean if he’s gonna direct a movie in the English language he might as well get a lead he wouldn’t be able to find an equivalent of back at home.

I bet you Arnold ends up in AVATAR 2, too.

3. There’s a trailer for WARRIOR now.

It looks like a completely generic feel-good sports movie except it happens to be about mixed-martial arts and have an incredible set of leads: Tom Hardy (BRONSON) and Joel Edgerton (ANIMAL KINGDOM) as estranged brothers, Nick Nolte as their dad/trainer. The stunt coordinator is J.J. Perry (BLOOD AND BONE, UNDISPUTED II). I guess this movie was the reason he didn’t do UNDISPUTED III.


That unofficial MORTAL KOMBAT movie starring Michael Jai White has led to an official series of webisodes or netlings or whatever it’s called. Same director, same cast, not sure if the fight choreographer is still Larnell Stovall. It starts April 12 and here’s a clip, a little cheesier than the other one in my opinion but hey, it’s free. I’m not gonna be a bitch about it. Maybe it’ll be fun.


5. KNIGHTRIDERS now old enough to wear a fannypack

Josh N. reminded me that this Sunday is the 30th anniversary of the release of one of my favorite movies, George Romero’s KNIGHTRIDERS. He’s gonna visit one of the shooting locations. Those of us who don’t live around there can celebrate by watching the movie while jousting on actual motorcycles.

In sort-of-related news I purchased a book called 101 Action Movies You Must See Before You Die mainly because I flipped through it and noticed that it had KNIGHTRIDERS in there. I’ll have a review of that eventually.

6. The second annual ACTIONFEST is going on right now in Asheville, North Carolina.

If I was there the movie I’d be most excited to see would be NEVER BACK DOWN 2, directed by and starring Michael Jai White. It sounds like the connection to part 1 (which was a cheesy teen movie version of the underground fight tournament subgenre) is that it involves the same fictional tournament, “The Beatdown.” I’m hoping it will be this generation’s UNDISPUTED II.

They also have MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED! (documentary on exploitation movies of the Phillipines by the director of NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD), that crazy looking movie BUNRAKU, an MMA documentary called FIGHTVILLE, Takeshi Kitano’s new gangster movie OUTRAGE, Takashi Miike’s 13 ASSASSINS, (which I’m hearing nothing but raves for so far – I guess you can watch it on demand and in theaters soon), and some other stuff. I rented a couple of the older movies they’re showing so I might have a couple tie-in reviews.

We got Mouth, FTopel, Rook and maybe others on the scene there. Hopefully they’ll keep us updated in the comments here.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 2:32 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

128 Responses to “THE BADASS CINEMA RUNDOWN for April 8, 2011”

  1. As far as the Mortal Kombat webseries, Larnell Stovall is definitely back for that. There are also plans for the series to lead into a feature film.

  2. 13 ASSASSINS is great. Koji Yakusho deserves some kind of badass award for his performance.

  3. I’m trying to figure out how it is possible that I hate the new MK footage less, but at the same time more than the teaser from a few months ago.
    I mean, at one hand it completely lacks all that 00’s cheese, with its “Oooooh, look how dark, brooding and pseudo-realistic we are” bullshit and that’s a good thing. But on the other hand it looks like a clip from a generic DTV actioner, from the slow mo bullets in the beginning, right down to the fighting location (An old factory or whatever this is). And it has absolutely nothing that makes it look like MORTAL KOMBAT! No recognizable characters, no recognizable moves, NOTHING!

  4. Machete Maidens Unleashed… nice, I have to check that out.

    Speaking of the Pacific Rim: Vern, my mental image of you is at a laptop at a wharf in Seattle, next to a fishmonger, typing out reviews. Then Frasier and Bill Gates show up with your Starbucks coffee, and the Seattle stereotype is complete. But lately that mental image has been disturbing, because of what’s going on in New Zealand, and now Japan: the Pacific plate is rumbling on one end, and the other end, the Pacific Northwest, is long overdue for the big one.

    So take care my friend, stay on higher ground for the uh, next decade or two. We don’t want to lose a valuable voice in bad ass cinema to that drunk asshole Mr. Juan de Fuca and his evil posse the Subduction Zone. Fuck them.

  5. I’ve watched Outrage. It’s a great great yakuza movie that takes its time to slowly unfold and unfold and unfold, taking twists and turns you never expected and revealing itself completely by the end. Perfectly paced, brilliant storytelling.

  6. Numbers 1 & 2 are the problem with internet movie news. These kinds of early news items seem designed to be doubly disappointing. Once when the collaborations inevitably don’t happen and then again when you see the finished film and think how much better it would have been if Walter Hill directed it and it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still, if those two movies don’t end up happening at least we have Del Toro and Cameron’s AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS to look forward to.

    I sort of get the feeling all the raves for 13 ASSASSINS are just because Miike finally made a “mature” film. (The reviewers often seem to ignore the fact that he’s already done that before.) But who wants to watch a “mature” film? That’s almost as bad as calling a film “important.” Anyway, you might want to temper your expectations a little. It is really good, but all the comparisons to SEVEN SAMURAI may make you think it’s THAT good. Really, it’s more like a cross between SEVEN SAMURAI and AZUMI.

  7. billydeethrilliams

    April 8th, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Webisodes, netlings,… interskits? I’m sorry.

  8. Thanks for the mention, Vern.

    IRONCLAD last night was the foreplay event movie of ActionFest 2011. It got all cozy with us on her roommate’s couch, let us round 2nd base, glimpse toward the 3rd base coach to see if we were being waved home, but then gave us the “oh shit, get down & slide in here fast” signal to let us know the right fielder might throw us out at 3rd, but luckily the incoming ball clipped us on the shoulder and we were safe and then later we would have the option to steal home. It got her wet & ready for the main events of the weekend, but the best surely is yet to come. Hopefully we all get to come some time soon.

    By this double baseball-sex metaphor, as if it needs any explanation, I mean to say that IRONCLAD was a really fucking outstanding movie in terms of badass content, badass tone, originality of setting, pacing, uniformly excellent acting, and dialogue that was perfectly balanced with badass-heroic lines, cheesy-heroic lines, just-how-evil-is-he lines, & mega-acting facilitating lines. However, it fails in the one thing at which all of us here unfortunately expect to see failure these days at the cinema, and that’s the “not having stupid close-up shaky cam filmatism” department.

    Fuckin’ post-action.

    But I greatly enjoyed the thing despite it. (Fight director Richard Ryan said after the screening that he had a crew of just 10 guys he had to use over & over again for the most dangerous action stuff in the big battle scenes, so the post-action style editing is likely due to the need to hide the relative lack of manpower and to not let the audience know that the same anonymous stuntman/fighter is killed multiple times in the same scene and throughout the movie. So blame it on the budget, blame it on a cramped shooting schedule, but most of the movie doesn’t look low-budget at all.)

    The first 3 words uttered by Brian Cox in the very beginning are impeccably delivered, setting the mood brilliantly. A voiceover tells us that an attempted reversal of the implementation of the rights of all free men outlined in the Magna Carta of 1215 is underway, with Paul don’t laugh because he’s actually really fucking great and shockingly not out of place in this movie Giamatti as King John murdering & intimidating his way across the land. He has the Pope’s blessing and apparently got access to that sweet Papal expense account to hire a fleet of potentially badass mercenaries who seem to be anything but Catholic.

    I saw a copy of Magna Carta at the Archives museum in DC. It’s pretty cool to behold, especially in that setting with all those other Important American Documents in the room. Just something to consider if you’re ever in DC, something that adds to the thematically rich sense of history in IRONCLAD. But I’ll avoid further historical analysis here, because that’s what a movie with this much gratuitous bloodshed would want.

    There’s a good, modified “getting the team together” sequence, well really most of the first 30 or so minutes of the movie, that Vern would probably enjoy. The good guys are all flawed, all prone or willing to take up arms for various reasons & to varying degrees, but what’s great is that the acting, filmatism, & the economic dialogue facilitates in the audience that understanding that all the established good guys have a strong sense of honor, brotherhood, and other corny shit that no one much talks about but comes in handy when it’s 20 dudes in a small castle going against 1000 trained zealots and the 1000 have flying fireballs and are led by a guy marked up in full William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace blue.

    Those flying fireballs and the tactics of the Royal force in the battle scenes are fun to watch, especially for a guy like me who always keeps in mind General Patton’s great declaration, “I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did.” The catapults in IRONCLAD are highly effective. It’s a shame most of the one-on-one swordfights & other dismounted ground force battle scenes weren’t filmed & edited in such a pre-post-action fashion. There are a few gruesome bits of RAMBOesque innards-exposing, body-halving swordplay, but the special effects department shows more care for the final product than does the fight-editing department.

    There’s also a great scene with a heroic horse. It starts off like that badass 1-man rampage in RED CLIFF, but then it turns to tragedy, then escalates into something more throat-lump-causing, and is ultimately a great crowd-pleasing moment. Horse heroism. Horseroism. Horsheroism. Equineroic achievement. Somebody call the OED.

    On the flip side of this kind of heroism, you have the stupid humans who charge up the ladders to siege a castle. I don’t know, man, I’ve done some questionable things, acted on questionable intelligence before, but I doubt I’d ever be the pointman on a vertical battle position where I’ve gotta climb a ladder just to get to the edge of the enemy’s primary defensive position. These guys must have been brainwashed. They really thought they were doing this stupid shit for the glory of the King and His Divine Right as the instrument & representation of God’s will. Wow. Glad God & faith doesn’t inspire such insanity these days. Let’s all be glad we live in 2011 and not 1216-1220 AD.

    Anyway, I don’t have time to edit or complete this post, so forgive the ramblings. I didn’t really name any names yet, and I should, because James Purefoy and the guy who plays the lady’s man are great, and I wanted to spend more time with the gray-haired badass bad guy who it looked like might defect over to the good guys in what would have been an awesome twist, but it’s on the IMDB and you’ll all see this eventually, so I’ll just emphasize again that the acting in IRONCLAD is stellar across the board. Giamatti gets a phenomenal mega-moment that the ActionFest audience loved. It was just the right amount of humor with some “oh shit how far is he going to go with this, I can see veins popping in his neck, oh shit what’s he gonna do with that axe?!” That’s the kind of good stuff that makes IRONCLAD a winner.

    Does it pass the WWMMNMP13BTSIAT test? Eh, maybe $10.75, for the mega-Giamatti alone.

  9. My lineup for today:

    either SUPER or FILMS OF FURY

    People get paid to “report” on these things?

  10. “I’m trying to figure out how it is possible that I hate the new MK footage less, but at the same time more than the teaser from a few months ago.
    I mean, at one hand it completely lacks all that 00’s cheese, with its “Oooooh, look how dark, brooding and pseudo-realistic we are” bullshit and that’s a good thing. But on the other hand it looks like a clip from a generic DTV actioner, from the slow mo bullets in the beginning, right down to the fighting location (An old factory or whatever this is). And it has absolutely nothing that makes it look like MORTAL KOMBAT! No recognizable characters, no recognizable moves, NOTHING!”
    Yeah, I was actually thinking while watching it that the intent was to make it seem like some generic DTV movie, but then at the end, bust out some MK Craziness, such as MJW ripping the sleeves off his outfit to reveal Jax’s cyborg arms and do a fatality on the guy.

    I like that the image in the embedded GOVERNATOR video shows Arnold sticking two fingers up at the electorate.

  11. Vern – why weren’t you invited to ActionFest to lend your knowledge and wisdom?

  12. Probably because a) he doesn’t have the same connections/”name value” as your Drew McWeeneys and the like and b) he’s got his anonymity to preserve.

    Also, Chuck Norris’ brother Aaron is still co-running it and wasn’t Vern mocking how last year he gave his bro a lifetime achievement award only for Chuck to say he(Aaron) should have it instead? So when Vern’s ready to carry out a coup and depose the guy, we’ll be waiting.

  13. All I know is I watched that one 7-8 minute Mortal Kombat short on YouTube a couple weeks ago during my Larnell Stovall homework and I thought it was pretty tight. Haven’t seen any others yet. I was grateful my favorite MKII character got some shine.

    Baraka is a scary motherfucker.

  14. Oh, and another piece of news, Tony Jaa and Sammo Hung are looking to work together it seems:

  15. Apparently, I just missed Mr. Michael Jai White here at the cinema, but he’s somewhere in the building.

  16. Very clever of him to avoid me so far, but he can’t hide for long.

  17. Hmmm. what else is there to say? Like I fuckin´LOVE KNIGHTRIDER!
    It is THE most underrated Romero movie ever made.I own it on VHS and everytime I watch it I get some urge to cause havoc on society. Just like after watching COOL HAND LUKE. Two best rebel movies ever made ( next to DIRTY DOZEN and KELLY´S HEROES).

  18. I’m surprised that in the White department, Vern didn’t bring up that news about the BLACK DYNAMITE toon. Anyway.

    BTW I thought that “Governator” cartoon was like an elaborate April’s Fool Day hoax or something. Except its real, and my god it looks terrible. Deadline claims its near sales overseas…and I’m sorry, but you get what you paid for.

    I would like to think Mr. Austria Oak has something left in the film tank, but unless he can get himself attached to the talents out there*…it won’t be pretty.

    Stu – Sounds about right.

    *=You know, like how he became “Arnold” because of Milius, Cameron, Vernhoeven, etc.

  19. I would just like to take a second to point out that the tagline for Roland Emmerich’s new Shakespeare conspiracy film ANONYMOUS is “We’ve all been played.”

    and frankly I think thats pretty awesome.

  20. That issue of Entertainment Weekly (where they revealed THE GOVERNATOR) showed up in my mailbox on Friday, April 1st.

    I was convinced it was the best April Fool’s Day prank ever…. but it isn’t a prank, is it?

  21. Jareth Cutestory

    April 8th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    “Equineroic achievement.”

    Let the record show that this time it was Mouth who started up with the horsefucking references, not Mr. Subtlety.

  22. That horse in IRONCLAD is a beauty, I’ll admit that much, Jareth.


    Tits. {Smiley face}

    Also, John Landis is hilarious. Sid Haig is funny, American WWII vets’ amzing endless legacy of greatness includes facilitating & even appearing in great cheap cinema in the Phillipines even while Marcos presided over strict martial law there, and Roger Corman, even though we all know he’s the king of cheapsploitation, is the most overappreciated cinematic great ever. Boobs.

    You have to see MACHETE MAIDENS to get anything out of it. It’s full of wonderful 1-liners and it’s a start-to-end editing clinic with talking heads masterfully interspersed with poignant & hilarious footage of Phillipine films, pretty much exactly like NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. Thumbs way up. Ta-tas.

  23. Mouth: sold

    I have to see Machete Maidens ASAP.

    oh, forgot: Boobs.

    (Should just be a mandatory salutation.)

    (I’m not talking about comment board comments.)

  24. People still give a shit about Mortal Kombat? Why? It’s like the movie equivalent of whining about “The Phantom Menace” (ten years after it’s been released). Utterly pointless.

    Ahh, “Knightriders”. David Hasselhoff at his charismatic best. I always wanted my own KITT.

    Oh wait… Romero’s “Knightriders”… oh well, I guess that was pretty good as well. Heh.

    On a more serious note, definitely agree with Vern on Arnold making movies that work “for his age”. Question is though, does he really have the acting chops? It says a lot that his most memorable, if not necessarily his best, role ever was as a merciless emotional killing machine. Guess it’s better than him turning into what Stallone seems to have become nowadays, if “The Expendables” is any guide.

    And “Warrior” should be fucking awesome, given who’s in it and who’s making it. I don’t want to set my expectations too high, because potential like that isn’t often realised; but damn, I hope it manages it.

  25. “IRONCLAD last night was the foreplay event movie of ActionFest 2011. It got all cozy with us on her roommate’s couch, let us round 2nd base, glimpse toward the 3rd base coach to see if we were being waved home, but then gave us the “oh shit, get down & slide in here fast” signal to let us know the right fielder might throw us out at 3rd, but luckily the incoming ball clipped us on the shoulder and we were safe and then later we would have the option to steal home. It got her wet & ready for the main events of the weekend, but the best surely is yet to come. Hopefully we all get to come some time soon.”

    No offense, Mouth, but your Knowles are looking kind of Harry, there.

    Looking forward to finding out about the rest of the fest, though. So, good job on that.

  26. Favorite cinematic horse heroism: Survival of the Dead. But that might just be because the horse’s good deed not going unpunished fits in with my recent pessimism.

  27. Mouth, good to hear about MACHETE MAIDENS: UNLEASHED! I loved NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, so this one is on my must see list.

  28. Thanks. Yeah, dudes, MACHETE MAIDENS, unlike a lot of documentaries, is uniquely entertaining while you watch it, but it won’t change your life or anything like a lot of great serious documentaries, which are not so fun to watch.

    LITTLE BIG SOLDIER proves yet again that Jackie Chan is a timeless comedic genius, but it becomes only a so-so action movie and more of one of those movies people — lazy critics actually — call a “meditation” on war, peace, combat, the fragility of life & friendship, etc.. MTF.

    SUPER time, tough call, but I think FILMS OF FURY, another compilation doc, will be fine on the small screen. Or I might be an idiot. I might regret this decision. C’est la vie.

  29. I watched the trailer for FILMS OF FURY, and I wondered “What are clips from FOR A FISTFULL OF DOLLARS and HARD BOILED” doing in a Kung Fu Documentary?”

  30. Not much time to grab a pint & post up to see Mr. Black Dy-na-MITE! before NEVER BACK DOWN: PORT OF CALL KICKASS DIRECTATIONAL DEBUT OF THE GUY WHO WAS SPAWN, but it’s worth noting for the nerd crowd that loved KICKASS (yeah, sorry, I prefer to judge a film purely by her own merits but the comparisons are inevitable & too obvious to ignore in this case) that SUPER is a hardcore piece of 21st century uncomfortable blend of fantasy & ‘regular guy becomes superhero crimefighter’ action filmatism.

    A lot of it annoyed me, and I resisted being impressed, but Ellen Page & Rainn Wilson pretty much owned. There’s some R-rated shit going on, a lot of morally dubious retribution & senselessness that one day soon will garner 100+ comments here, I reckon. Somehow it reminds me now of Shane Black’s KISS KISS BANG BANG, with a touch of that underrated Michael Cera thing YOUTH IN REVOLT from last year. All I can say for now about SUPER is, I saw some of the insanity coming from a mile away, but it still punched me in the stomach.

    Unfortunately, Michael Rooker’s character is nothing special, sorry Vern. He does have cool hair, though, and he does something funny with a box of candy.

    ActionFest is batting 1.000 right now. Or, it has a 4.0 GPA if you don’t get that because you’re a weirdo like Paul and you follow cricket instead of baseball. Or it gets 4 Reagan faces if you’re Debbie Schlussel.

  31. Oh, yeah, Eddie, ‘preciate the constructive criticism, but I think the only Knowles pieces I’ve ever read are the ones that are linked to from this web sight. I’ll do better next time.

  32. Mouth – The rhythm of the dialogue and type of colors in SLITHER reminded me of KISS KISS BANG BANG, so there’s probably something to that. It’s a James Gunn thing I guess.

  33. Pre-movie entertainment is “Trailers From Hell,” and they’ve done KNOGHTRIDERS & now ROLLING THUNDER, the latter introduced & narrated by Eli Roth. He’s now describing The Look. Good shit.

  34. Hey Vern, this is actually totally unrelated to anything in this particular post, but I just watched Drive (starring Mark Dacascos) and Johnny Mnemonic. You should, like, talk about those at some point. So, yeah. Keep on doin’ what your doin’.

  35. WARRIOR looks pretty damn cool.

  36. Rbx5 Drive is definitely a personal classic to me. One of the few times that Kadeem Hardison did not annoy the shit out of me. God bless Cinemax for exposing me to that movie many years ago. Matter of fact I really miss the days where Cinemax was probably the most BADASS CINEMA fan friendly premium movie channel of them all now that I think about it.

  37. Throw me on the DRIVE bandwagon. It’s a fun movie and an overlooked part of the wave of late 80s American action movies that tried to cop some Hong Kong flavor. Steve Wang also directed GUYVER 2: DARK HERO, which is the best ultraviolent episode of Power Rangers ever (and maybe the best American live action Anime adaptation, although that doesn’t really mean it is good)

  38. Jake: “I sort of get the feeling all the raves for 13 ASSASSINS are just because Miike finally made a ‘mature’ film.”

    I’ve actually seen quite a few reviews express disappointment that “13 Assassins” isn’t as bizarre or outrageous as some of Miike’s most well-known work. Count me as someone who’s basically in complete agreement with the rave reviews. It’s not so much the “mature,” more straightforward approach of the film that I loved so much but rather the high level of filmmaking craft that’s on display, from the quietly intense diaologue scenes to the ferocious and chaotic but cleanly-staged combat scenes. As much as I love Miike, I don’t think his work consistently exhibits the same level of craft that can be seen in “13 Assassins,” “Audtion” or “Big Bang Love Jevenile A,” to name just a few.

    Also, “Outrage” is indeed a great movie from Takeshi Kitano. I hope it’s received well at ActionFest because it has been pretty much raped by critics. Personally, I think it’s one of the best gangster films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s beautifully-filmed and edited but also completely savage and cold. It doesn’t mess around with romantic subplots or humanizing moments for the gangsters; it just focuses 100% on the cruel mechanics of the yakuza world.

  39. MJW pic & autograph complete. I even asked him a question in q&a. That kid’s going places, I think. NEVER BACK DOWN 2 is simple & awesome, like a better BLOOD & BONE.

    HOBO time.

  40. Mouth, I am officially jealous you got to meet MJW. I am huge fan of BLOOD & BONE, and if NEVER BACK DOWN 2 is as good count me in.

  41. HOBO technical difficulty delay, but it’s cool cuz somehow I am seated next to a babe. The percentage probability on that is crazy low here, so I’ll pat myself on the back for this fortuitousness.

    Vern, I think you’ll be pleased with the autograph I obtained, but I had to go with one of my girlfriends’ names for the dedication, er, the “To [so & so, preferably oneself or a significant other]” part.

  42. Mouth, if you have the chance to check out BUNRAKU I would recommend it. I saw it here in Austin at Fantastic Feast last year and I really liked it. It is a crazy pop up book of an action film that is like no other movie I have seen. The filmatism is strong and it has some great badass moments, but I would have to say the creative and often elegant art direction may be the star of the film.

  43. Mouth, if you happen to run into MJW again at the festival can you please ask him if he would maybe consider renaming his movie either NEVER BACK DOWN 2: NEVER GIVE UP or NEVER, EVER BACK DOWN? Thanks.

  44. Thanks, men. BUNRAKU is happening for me soon.

    Right now, and Mikey (That’s what I call him now that we’re buds.) says he’s not finished polishing NBD2, it’s called NEVER BACK DOWN 2:THE BEATDOWN, which is okay by me.

  45. I love me some Takeshi Kitano (his art exhibition in Paris last year was one of the most entertaining things I’ve come across in some time) but I found OUTRAGE to be pretty disappointing. Too cold, too detached, too meandering. It’s probably the most violent of his films so far, but also the most nihilistic, in that you don’t really know – or care – anything about the characters involved. They’re all pretty unlikeable, and there’s none of the brotherhood/honour subtext you saw in his other films, or any real badass moments. All these yakuza are pretty much assholes, and there’s a weird racist vibe in some of the subplots that didn’t sit well with me.

    I liked the bit with the Stanley knife, though.

  46. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 9th, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Warrior looks like a great film, got to see this.

  47. Damn Mouth that’s good stuff. I’m jealous, I’ve been meaning to meet MJW for the longest right now. Would’ve loved to ask him about his role in Universal Soldier 3D and if it’s in anyway related to his work in Universal Soldier 4: This Is Really Universal Soldier 2, Well Sort Of. Never Back Down 2 is definitely on my radar.

  48. Jam: “They’re all pretty unlikeable, and there’s none of the brotherhood/honour subtext you saw in his other films, or any real badass moments. All these yakuza are pretty much assholes, and there’s a weird racist vibe in some of the subplots that didn’t sit well with me.”

    The fact that none of the characters in “Outrage” are likable people is part of the reason why I loved it. It reminded of Johnnie To’s “Election” films and their similarly unsympathetic depiction of gangster life. The notions of honor and brotherhood among criminals are brought up in “Outrage,” but Kitano tramples all over them in brutally hilarious ways. Perhaps it’s a bit contradictory to say this, but I do think the film still manages to be filled with badass moments from beginning to end; even the presentation of the title during the opening credits is badass.

    And while some of the yakuza characters may be racist, I don’t think its fair that some reviewers have labeled “Outrage” a racist movie. IMO, the subplot involving the embassy official is no different than the scene in “The Departed” in which Costello’s gang makes a deal with some Chinese gangsters. Nobody complained about that part, which showed the Chinese guys just standing there while Jack Nicholson hurled a bunch of racial insults at them and Alec Baldwin referred to them as “Chinamen.” Then they end up just getting duped by Costello and his phony microchips anyway. Those guys must be the shittiest Triads of all time!

  49. If lines are being drawn here, I guess I’m going to have to side with the “Outrage is a bad movie” camp.

    There are some awesome kills in the movie, but the aimless, overcomplicated, unfocused plot just drags the whole thing down. And I don’t think it’s so much about the characters being unlikeable as it is about them being bland and forgettable. For me, anyway.

  50. ActionFest 2011 Saturday:

    Buddy Joe Hooker lovefest
    Modern Fight Directors panel
    Awards Presentation (That’s where all the ladies will be, I bet.)

    I gotta say, Ice Cube never had a good day like this.

  51. Mr. S – That tagline is so bad, its good. At least Emmerich isn’t interested in destroying the world again. For now.

  52. I have to agree with Joe. I really did appreciate Outrage for showing how nihilistic and brutal yakuza life is. It’s a completely unsympathetic look at gangsters and perhaps a more realistic way of depicting them since there really is no glory, even fleeting, in being part of a “family” which truly does not respect or care about their lives at all. There really is no honor among thieves and every person is a pawn for the accumulation of money or power. Life is cheap and easily spent by the ones above them. Perhaps it’s a commentary on modern life.

    And I did not think the plot was meandering at all. I thought the complete opposite in fact. It was extremely tightly plotted and was incredibly dense, especially when you consider the huge number of characters involved as they crossed paths and ultimately get killed. The story reveled in absolutely pitch black humor as each turn revealed more about the machinations going on from the very first moment until the very end.

    As for Anonymous… I cannot imagine what Roland Emmerich is going to be doing with that time period because the trailer for it just looked insane.

  53. Bad news on the planed 5th installment of the DIE HARD franchise. It is being reported that they have recently replaced the director and now Darren Lynn Bousman the dude who directed all the SAW squeals is taking over. I am on the record as hating all the SAW films so maybe I am not a good judge but this is really disappointing news. It is a truly sad day when I am more exited about the 5th FAST & FURIOUS film then a 5th DIE HARD squeal.

  54. My close personal friend Michael Jai White just dropped some wisdom in the Fight Directors’ Panel event here. Maybe he’s not the first to ever have this idea, but it hit this particular Jackie Chan fan square in the heart.

    It’s an exercise in understanding greatness in action star acting. We never think of a De Niro fighting style or a Christopher Walken fighting style, but we know their speech mannerisms and we regard them as acting greats. The implication is that we should equally praise martial arts performers, even if their dialogue delivery isn’t legendary for the same reasons.

    Mikey said, try to watch Jackie Chan’s movies, especially his early, non-Sammo Hung stuff, and imagine him playing it all serious, or maintaining a scowl while he fights.
    Do this and you’ll realize Chan’s genius, the Buster Keaton qualities he exhibits and improves upon.

  55. Charles – I wouldn’t be shocked if DIE HARD 5 collapses like the 4th BOURNE picture did last year. (minus a reboot sequel by one of the original scriptwriters)

    Cassidy – insane or inane? The two words have a significant difference of intent. With Emmerich…..well, thats why I had to ask for clarification.

  56. Charles – you never know, “DH5” might be an improvement over DH4 and the last two thirds of DH3. In situations like this, what works is if they bring a new director and fresh ideas to the table instead of trying to flog a dead horse. Not that the whole idea of a “Die Hard 5” doesn’t feel a bit like flogging a dead horse all of itself right now.

    (Continuing on the “Die Hard” theme… I think the exact moment that the “Die Hard” series jumped the shark was when Simon Gruber was introduced in #3. To me, that one moment was when the series officially became lost for ideas. From that point on it’s a direct and straight ripoff of the original “Die Hard”, but missing everything that made the original film great. Seriously, who on earth came up with the decision to make the villain of #3 a cut-rate version of Alan Rickman in #1? Did they really think the guy from “Dungeons and Dragons” could possibly do the role of someone named “Gruber” any justice?)

    Completely off-topic, but Ima gonna see “Scream 4” next week when it comes out. (Yeah, I’m a hypocrite, I deride people for going to see bad sequels and supporting the system, etc, etc. In my defence this is one of two, MAYBE three “franchises” that I’ll actually pay money to go and see based on its name alone. Even the worst “Scream” movie, which Vern reviewed not so long ago and pretty much said what I was thinking, is still better than 80% of so-called horror films nowadays. Hopefully #4 is a set back towards at least the quality of #2, although that might be a bit much to hope for.)

    Vern mentioned “Thirteen Assassins”. I’m trying to work out the chances of this massive, anticipated, critically-acclaimed film appearing in any cinema near me any time soon. (Maybe the capital arts centre… but that’s fifty miles away.) I think it works out something like this, if you put the most likely events at the top and the least likely at the bottom:

    – Charlie Sheen’s craaaay-zeee antics feature in every major newspaper.
    – Sun rises tomorrow.
    – “Warrior” really does manage to live up to the hype, kinda.
    – Unfortunately, “Random Opportunistic Mortal Kombat Movie that only got made because someone a YouTube joke video went viral” surprisingly does not.
    – Michael Bay adapts my screenplay into a movie that makes a hundred bazillion dollars.
    – I marry the girl from Mouth’s avatar within the next year.
    – “Thirteen Assassins” comes to my local “Vue” or “Odeon”.
    – The moon will turn to blood, man will eat man, and the world will be shrouded in eternal darkness.
    – “Die Hard 5” doesn’t suck.

    Yeah, I’m a cynical bastard.

  57. Wow, man, I’m not ever starstruck, but I gotta say, I just sat in the front row of the awards presentation here RIGHT NEXT TO MICHAEL JAI WHITE, LARNELL STOVEL, AARON NORRIS, BUDDY JOE HOOKER, RICHARD RYAN, DESTROY ALL MOVIES’s ZACK CARLSON, RIC MEYERS, COLIN GEDDES, PETER KUPLOWSKY (the last 3 of whom I conversed with at length last night in the VIP lounge), and some other really cool people.  

    MJW is a diesel motherfucker.  I’ve got some proteining to do to catch up.  

    I have nothing bad to say about any of these dudes.  This festival has been a classy affair the whole way, with the director & programmers doing an especially great job acknowledging the local Asheville scene as well as celebrating international action flavor by heavily awarding BANGKOK KNOCKOUT and featuring foreign filmmakers, etc..

    All we demand of action movies is that they kick ass and at least show us something new.  And we’ve come to expect a certain minimum level of badass insanity from Thai action films.  BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is among the more insane, if nowhere near the most badass, of the recent Thai movies we love.  

    A good crowd helped me through the painfully stupid dialogue, baffling flashbacks, and black holes in the narrative.  BANGKOK KNOCKOUT started tame and got progressively more out of control, with an evil rich American cigar aficionado presiding over a SAW/DEATH RACE-like survival game that eventually features multiple climaxes going on at the same time in different settings, kind of like what I do to your moms when they visit me, hey-yo!  

    Great thing about BANGKOK DANGEROUS is, the crew was obviously like, hey, why don’t we have a Jason/Mike Myers slasher guy as one of the bad guys in this martial arts movie, and while we’re at it, let’s have him attack the good guys at the same time that a charred out sports car charges at everybody, and then let’s kill him & the car in a bunch of awesome flames, and then let’s bring back the Mike Meyers axeman and the possessed car again later, and then we’ll have another melee scene with 30 people too.  

  58. Paul, I too am usually a cynical bastard when it comes to movie trailers, but that damn FAST5/FA5T, despite Vin Diesel hinting in it that he’s prepared to go to prison after stating so unequivocally in the original that he’s not ever going back, looks fucking hot.

  59. Also, I just posted that after having spent several minutes sitting on a couch opposite MJW in the VIP section of the ActionFest venue.

    Vern! You would be so welcome here! Buy a plane ticket, you cheap anonymous fuck! (I say that out of love.)

  60. Yeah this would be the first time I see a FAST & FURIOUS at the cinema cause of the powerfulness of that trailer. I didn’t even see the last one and don’t ever plan to. To be honest I only liked TOKYO DRIFT but there is something very enticing about this new one based on that trailer. Seems like Justin Lin is just gonna keep getting better with some of his set ups. Some of the new stunts look awesomely wild.

    I will never get the DH3 hate or more specifically mixed opinions as I always see whenever I’m on the interwebs. It’s easily my favorite after the greatest western action flick of all time when it comes to that series. But I am biased because it was the first movie that I ever spent time on the set of when I was a kid during the hottest summer I’ve ever lived through.

    The “harlem” scenes were really my hometown of Washington Heights. I was there for the “I HATE N-WORDS” scene except the board said “I HATE EVERYBODY” when they were shooting. Naturally to protect themselves and avoid any real commotion. Probably the first case I remember of going “hey they digitally changed that” once I saw the finished film at the flicks. I remember Bruce kept randomly shouting “I HATE EVERYBODY” during takes and also joked around with us a lot. I’ve heard many nightmare stories about Bruce being a dick and shit but he was such a genuinely fun presence to be around during that day. Especially considering how hot it was. Really good sport.

    Anyway to be specific 174 and audubon was where the stoop is where the black guys that stepped to him were at. That stoop is also the spot where I used to spend many nights freestyling and smoking blunts with my pals as a youngin lmao so it’s a bit of a personal landmark. The hardware store Zeus owned was actually owned by the pop of one of my childhood buddies at that time. It is now a billiard room.

    The school that his nephews went to is actually P.S.115 on 175 between st nicholas and audubon ave. the primary school my cousin and an ex-girlfriend of mine went to. Just sharing this in case one of my fellow badass cinema enthusiasts decides to come out here to NYC one day and would like to visit DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE landmarks.

    I’ll never quite get why they shot the “harlem” scenes in “dominican harlem” and not the real harlem. Maybe it was money reasons but hey I can’t say I’m not glad that they did. That is easily one of the greatest memories of my life. I mean I got to meet Bruce, McTiernan and that old black lady who randomly appeared in COMING TO AMERICA and many other 80’s movies. To a 10 year old kid who grew up loving Die Hard and Predator and was way more into movies than he should’ve been (to the point of knowing who directors, writers and producers and not just actors were by name) it was like being in heaven.

  61. Oh and I rather Vern never show his face anywhere at all like ever. The anonymity has always been a huge part of the charm. I mean the fact that we’ve probably bumped into him before and not even know that we did is pretty cool IMO. Very refreshing considering how many other internet movie experts like to parade around like they’re the prom king and shit.

  62. Actually, FAST FIVE may be at the top of my must see list. Every trailer they release for it only gets me more excited. The amount of practical effects and stunt work looks amazing, and I am not even a fan of the FAST & FURIOUS series. Also, The Rock looks extremely badass in it. The F&F franchise is a peculiar one because it is the only franchise I can think of where all the squeals are better then the original.

  63. We should take a mo

  64. We should take a moment and celebrate the life & amazing work of Sidney Lumet, who just died. He was one of the greats, folks. A great filmmaker and one of the greatest artists ever.

    I could babble on for forever about him, but it’s really best if you check his phenomenal filmography out for yourself if you haven’t already. His body of work is so amazing that it certainly defies description in a lowly internet comment.

  65. Already paid my respects today by watching 12 ANGRY MEN and SERPICO back to back.

  66. BANGKOK KNOCKOUT gets released here in Singapore next week. Definitely looking forward to it.

    A review of NEVER BACK DOWN 2 is out.

  67. Mouth, thanks for all the updates. Sounds like a great time.

    And I’m absolutely with you on Fast Five. I went and saw YOUR HIGHNESS (which I’m not gonna review since the director did the intro to Seagalogy, but it did make me laugh) and they had a trailer I hadn’t seen before. Holy shit, I thought the last one was good. This one has what appears to be a real car crashing into a real train, about 15 other apparently practical car stunts, The Rock punching Vin Diesel in the face, and a ridiculous basejumping-in-a-car type ending.

    And when has there ever been a part 5 that looked bigger and better than the previous installments? How the fuck did they get to have a star of the caliber of the Rock added for fucking part 5? I wonder if this is the EXPENDABLES casting influence that makes this stuff happen now?

    And it’s in Imax! (I don’t think the one out here is getting it, though.)

    anyway, the summer begins and ends April 29th.

  68. Here’s Michael Jai White & Vern, wearing a shiny tie & matching pocket square below his own button for some reason, as the PR lady announces that they are in a hurry and don’t have time for any more pictures: (MJW is on the left.)


    But he had time for an autograph: http://i54.tinypic.com/20gk0uh.jpg
    Michelle better appreciate that.

    And then there’s this: http://i52.tinypic.com/dczasx.jpg

    from this guy, a kung fu expert here posing with the young winners of the 30 second action film contest: http://i54.tinypic.com/wmedyd.jpg

  69. I still wonder if Sly is going to use an outside Director for The Expendables 2 or is he doing it himself?

    Personally I’d prefer he use someone else for the sequel. Despite his writing skills, Sly’s Direction has never impressed me.

  70. I forgot to mention the best part of the FAST FIVE trailer is one of the all-time most ridiculous “badass people looking real serious and walking slow motion toward the camera” shots. I think they’re on a beach and all wearing light colored clothes and there must be like 12-15 of them all either looking like models or sporting oversized muscles.

  71. Yeah, I can’t wait for Fast Five. The third is still my favorite, but this one looks like it could take the top spot. The more ridiculous and over-the-top, the better.

  72. Vern, I kinda agree. But I saw the first movie and disliked it – didn’t hate it – but the whole “they only drive in straight lines!” and the fact that the cars are apparently supposed to be more badass than the actors (and, worse, actually come off that way – I mean, what is Vin Diesel DOING in that damn movie?) pretty much killed it.

    I’m on the record as hating the third movie, and y’all know why. If you hadn’t already gathered by my rants on “Road Trip” and “The Tournament” and “My Bloody Valentine 3D” and various other movies, I really really hate it when the lead guy / girl is a black hole of unlikeability that brings down the rest of the movie. And boy, does the lead guy from “Tokyo Drift” qualify. A vainglorious, arrogant, delusional, stupid ugly-American douchebag who we’re supposed to somehow empathise with because he’s not QUITE as much of an asshole as the one-dimensional villain. Well fuck that.

    I’ve not seen Fast 4, and I haven’t mentioned Fast 2. Why? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME. Seriously, I can’t think of one bad thing to say about this movie. (Well, ok, maybe one: the villain is a little cliche’d. Seriously, when are the “Fast and Furious” movies going to do a crazed Joker-type laughing anarchist figure who comes from the world of street racing and LOVES it, but everyone’s scared of because he’s so fucking psychopathic?) But Paul Walker is good, Tyrese is good, the chase scenes largely work, the girls are hot and skimpily dressed, and there’s a real sense of cameraderie among the street racers that’s missing from #1 and #3 because everyone’s an asshole to everyone else in those movies.*

    So what I’m saying, I guess, is I hope that if I ever see “Fast 5” then it’ll be like “Fast 2” and not “Fast 1” or “Fast 3”.

    *Yeah, I know there’s a couple of scenes in the original movie where everyone sits around and drinks together, but they kinda gives off an eighties beer advertisement vibe that makes them hard to take seriously.

  73. Paul, you might have suspect this before, but you are fucking crazy. I’m not the hugest fan of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS EPISODE 1, but what reasonable person asks “what is Vin Diesel doing in that movie?” NO REASONABLE PERSON COULD EVER ASK THAT. It’s like asking what Stallone is doing in ROCKY. Like the movie, hate the movie, have no opinion on the movie, there is no denying that the entire movie rests on, is fueled by, and grows out of Diesel’s outsized machismo. It is just ludicrous to think of the movie without him. (on the other hand it’s not necessarily diesel to think of part 2 without Ludacris.)

    On another note, TOKYO DRIFT is of course the best of the series for the exact reason that Lucas Black is the only really likable hero in the series.

    But I’m genuinely glad you enjoy part 2. I don’t know many people that like that one, but it’s just so joyfully ridiculous that I can’t help but smile while watching it.

  74. I too think TOKYO DRIFT is the worst of the series either, mostly because they try to convince us very hard, that that ridiculous car fetish movie for teens is a serious drama about honor. I only liked part 1 in a dumb-but-entertaining way, part 2 was too generic to entertain, although I liked the chemistry between Walker and Tyrese. But part 4 was seriously entertaining and even the best so far! And just like several others here, I really do consider watching part 5 in theatre, just because of how much I enjoyed part 4, how much fun the trailer makes it look and how much Dwayne Johnson contributes to this!
    And I just love how they bring Han back AGAIN! And this time it’s apparently not a cameo!

  75. I’ve visited Asheville North Carolina before, it’s a really really cool town, so it’s not impossible that I one day might get to attend Action Fest, we’ll see

    if I do, I’ll be the guy in the Videodrome “Civic TV” T shirt

  76. Wait. I thought everybody agreed that 2 Fast 2 Furious was the worst of the Fast and Furious movies. I mean, it’s the only one that was made by a director who doesn’t know how to shoot action. It’s the only one without Vin Diesel. You know, because he had that cameo in part 3.

    My whole world view is shattered.

    Fast 5 looks awesome, though.

  77. Vern – I totally agree with you about Fast 1, in fact I pretty much agree with your entire review of it; and I don’t think you quite “got” what I was trying to convey there. Vin Diesel was the point. Vin Diesel was the star. Vin Diesel was the breakout star of “Pitch Black” and this was supposed to be his big starring role. And what do they do with him? NOTHING. Yeah, he has charisma, but what the hell is he doing in this movie? He’s wasted.

    My point is, if you haven’t watched the movie for some time, think back to it. Try and think of a scene, ANY scene, where Diesel is utilised and you think: “that’s awesome!” or “that wouldn’t have worked without him.” Gold star if you can come up with something, because I sure as heck can’t. Now think about “Pitch Black”. Same question. Easy, isn’t it?


    On Lucas Black… I’m going to make a comparison here. You know some people have problems with the “ugly American” stars of “Hostel”, but I don’t have that same problem. And the reason that I don’t is because there’s a genuine unspoken redemption for the guy who makes it out alive, and in a very subtle way he’s shown developing some kind of humanity or empathy or whatever. To me it’s the story this kid’s journey from being an asshole to being an actual human being. It’s subtle, it doesn’t preach, for the most part it’s unspoken; but it’s growth. It’s character development.

    Well I think Black’s character is the reverse of that. He starts off as the “ugly American”. And some people (rightfully) take issue with that when he moves across to Japan. But he’s the audience-surrogate, so those OTHER people naturally have to be portrayed as even bigger assholes to make him look good. The result is that with the possible exception of the one major character in the movie who has nothing to do with street racing, there isn’t a single likeable character there.

    The trouble with Black is he doesn’t change. He starts off as an obnoxious braggart and he ends as an obnoxious braggart. Just because some characters in the film “come around” and accept him, doesn’t mean I have to.

  78. OH I just thought of something.

    Lucas Black, I’ve described him as “ugly American” twice now. It’s a good description. He crashes into a foreign culture, tries to stamp his mark on it even though he clearly knows nothing about it, combines arrogance with total ineptitude. So I wonder… does this irritate me, but not you, because you’re American and I’m not?

  79. Eddie: I could summarise my view of the three F&F movies as follows:

    Part 1: the pointless one.
    Part 2: The fun one.
    Part 3: the annoying one.

    Part 2 is ridiculous, but at least it knows it. And in its self-awareness it works really well, for me. Yeah, the villain is a bit crap, but do you remember anything about the guy who kept trying to torment Lucas Black in part 3? Erm… his uncle was played by Sonny Chiba? (Incidentally, yay – another great actor wasted.)

  80. 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS was dull as dishwater. And the first one is quite forgettable quite honestly. POINT BREAK but with street racing without the memorable unique charms and moments? Pass.

    Still I enjoyed the shit out of FAST & FURIOUS, and FAST FIVE looks…..fun?

    The one impression I got from F&F and TOKYO DRIFT, one I doubt that director wants shared in public, is maybe that guy was put on Earth to shoot car chases. Even the retarded TEMPLE OF DOOM-inspired ones.

    ~Which reminds me: I remember years back David Twohy did a script for Paramount for a never-produced ITALIAN JOB sequel which was set in Brazil. This FAST sequel is set…in Brazil. Odd.

  81. I haven’t kept up with the series, so I might agree with you guys if I saw FAST AND FURIOUS, but I have to say I have a major prejudice agaisnt the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise as a whole. Why? I’m one of those guys who can be engaged with pretty much any conversation… as long as it isn’t about cars (I’d be OK with discussing CARS though). THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS was like being stuck in a room with car-bores who have an exceptionally limited vocabulary and like boasting about that one time they spent a night in a cell for stealing a traffic cone. Vin Diesel is frustrating to me beacuse he’s such a fascinating character, yet only PITCH BLACK (to my knowledge) came close to capturing his mystique. Generally he’s a bit dull on screen, in films that are *very* dull. I even tracked down his directorial debut STRAYS and I found it unwatchable

  82. I’ve only seen the first Fast and Furious film, but I remember really liking it. The scene that has always stuck with me is when the entire group sits down to eat dinner and they make it a point to say grace first. I thought this was a unique moment in an action movie. It also did a good job of furthering the themes of family. I should probably get around to watching the sequels because the Fast 5 trailers look pretty badass.

  83. PacmanFever, I can relate to what your talking about. I just don’t give a shit about cars, and that is a big reason I don’t consider myself a fan of the F&F series. To make it worse I remember when the first one came out my brother and two of my best friends were all mechanics at the time, and they loved it because of the cars while to me it was nothing more then a lame POINT BRAKE ripoff.

  84. Time for TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN, an Australian movie that looks like it might have some RED DAWN things going on.

    The stunt show in 2 hours looks promising. A bunch of salty looking grizzled dudes in weird outfits seem to be gearing up to do some stupid shit in the parking lot, and there’s a cherry

  85. picker and other heavy equipment out there. Was I supposed to bring my hardhat?

  86. Mouth, thanks for all the updates. Did you get to see BUNRAKU?

  87. I’m not a car guy myself. I do admit to enjoying seeing some awesome car stunts and street races on occasion though. For this reason I was pretty dissappointed in the first FF cause the car stunts were pretty limited outside of the climax and the races were boring cause of the whole “driving straightforward” crap. I loathed 2 FAST because of the CGI cars and lack of imagination in that department too. Singleton was just way too wrong for that movie.

    So this is why I admire TOKYO DRIFT because it corrected all that despite the generic SKI SCHOOL wanna be plot. Based on the trailers part 5 looks like it’s gonna continue one upping that shit so man April 29 has a huge highlight on my calendar cause of this. Can’t wait to hit up the flicks during matinee while slacking off from my lame ass job that day. It’s only 2 weeks away.

  88. Oh and damn Vanessa looks pretty exceptional in that pic there Mouth. Kudos.

  89. I’ve seen the first two F&F films, and definitely prefer the second one to the first, but FAST FIVE does look like something I might go to see, and it amuses me that that it’s technically a prequel to TOKYO DRIFT. I also wouldn’t mind seeing this “disconnected characters from different films of a series join forces” idea more, like an UNDISPUTED movie where Snipes, White and Adkins’ characters are forced to work together in a tournament made up competing TEAMS. I’ve still to see UNDISPUT3D though…

  90. Undisputed III in my most humble opinion was the best movie I saw last year and I saw some of the oscar winners and everything but none packed quite the punch (pun intended) that Florentine’s classic did. You owe it to yourself to see that movie as soon as yesterday.

  91. Stu, I have to agree with Broddie. As a fan of badass cinema you owe it to yourself to see UNDISPUTED III as soon as possible.

  92. RRA – I meant “insane” but I would not be surprised on finding out more about the story of the movie that the other word applies as well.

  93. I always inteded to, but it seems pretty rare to find on R2(I had in a look in a local highstreet megastore for it, but they only stocked the ORIGINAL UNDISPUTED. Can you believe that shit?), and those that were available are a bit expensive. There’s a czech release that’s more reasonably priced, but I kinda want a proper UK edition, so I just a minute ago found one off ebay that’s a bit more expensive, but in a way I can live with.

  94. Having watched the trailer for FAST FIVE I can definitely see what you guys are talking about. There’s some great stuff in there, although the obligatory franchise “yes lads, this one will have plenty of PG-13 T&A” shots make me laugh. Despite my franchise prejudice I might well check out FAST & FURIOUS if I can find the DVD real cheap (and something tells me I’ll be able to) and if I’m sufficiently impressed I’ll go back to TOKYO DRIFT to complete the incumbent Lin FURIOUS ovuer

  95. For those interested here is the most recent FAST FIVE trailer Vern mentioned.


    PacmanFever, I don’t think you need to have watched any of the other films to appreciate FAST FIVE. It is my understanding this installment is very much like an OCEANS 11 film but way more badass and with cars.

  96. Charles, you’ll surely see BUNRAKU for the same reasons I did, because it looks & sounds awesome.  I have to admit I was in some kind of zombified state when I watched BUNRAKU, so I feel ill-equipped to judge it with any authority.  It wouldn’t be fair to the movie, since it was a Saturday 10 p.m. showtime and I had partied until almost 4 the night/morning before and even squeezed in 15 holes with my 8:20 tee time Saturday morning.  Also, I started drinking at noon.  

    Larnell Stovall should be proud of his work in BUNRAKU; he found inventive ways to take advantage of the premise of a post-firearm world in what looks like a cross between SIN CITY & Julie Taymor’s TITUS.  I was a tad disappointed in the camerawork & editing shortcuts in most of the fight scenes, but there’s a ton of them and it’s not post-action.  It’s just that you can see that everything is so close to greatness but doesn’t quite achieve it, in my opinion.  

    Most of the movie’s visuals & editing is seamless & beautiful.  Thumbs up, but don’t ask me for a synopsis.  I remember thinking a lot of individual parts were fucking rad, and the stars all seemed to enjoy punching people.  

    Josh Hartnett might be typecast, but that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. He’s good.

  97. Mouth, I am glad you got to check out BUNRAKU. Did they say it had American distribution yet? I really think it one of the best and most inventive action films I have seen in a while. I just wish more people would have had the chance to see it by now. I am already on the record (somewhere on this site) that I think it is Harnett’s best performance of his career.

  98. MAN OF STEEL (official title) has a confirmed villain:
    So he should definitely be shown punching someone in the face

  99. That is some good casting! Michael Shannon, will make a great Zod. I am sure Shannon is a great dude in person, but man is he good at playing unlikable fucks.

  100. 13 ASSASSINS: Like the best of Miike’s many films, this one is gonna stay with me for a long time.

    On the 4 hour drive back to Fayettenam, I’ll be formulating my thesis comparing the ending of Renoir’s classic LA GRANDE ILLUSION to the ending of 13 ASSASSINS. It’s damn near that good.

    Au revoir, ActionFest 2011. I made some friends, fist-bumped Michael Jai White, saw some awesomeness, missed a few presumably great movies, and have vowed to return. I’ll work on making an interesting wrap-up post & short video-photo montage and have it up tomorrow.

  101. Okay, I just got back in front of a computer and I was ready to dazzle all of you with my amazing reporting on the ActionFest experience, only to discover that Mouth has been zapping great info to you the entire time. I feel ashamed, but I will attempt to redeem myself. First, let me share with you what I was able to take in. The titles were, in order; FILMS OF FURY, NEVER BACK DOWN 2, BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, BAIL ENFORCERS, and BUNRAKU. I also caught the Buddy Joe Hooker panel and the Art of Fight Direction panel.

    FILMS OF FURY was a workprint and still has a way to go, but I thought it was a lot of fun. It’s basically a “Kung Fu Cinema for Dummies” introduction to the genre. There isn’t much here to surprise true aficionados, but it succeeds as a heartfelt tribute to the great ones. There’s just one big problem, which I’ll come to in a second. I was able to talk for a while with the writer, Ric Meyers (see Mouth’s photo) and found him to be a really friendly and engaging guy. In the Q&A after the screening, he openly ackowledged the greatest flaw in the movie; no on-camera interviews with the legends. It was something he desperately wanted, but was a no-go. I can’t remember if it was time or budget issues or both, but whatever the reason, it’s a damn shame. It could have been another instant classic like NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD. Oh well.

    I don’t have time to say everything I want to say about NBD2. Suffice to say, it’s a damn good movie and no one here will be disappointed. I will be back with more soon, Scout’s honor.

    Mouth has pretty much covered BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, so I’ll just say I had a lot fun. I think I saw it with the same crowd Mouth did, because I also found the audience to be a really appreciative bunch and all the love in the room really elevated the whole experience. It’s been a long, long time since I saw a picture with people who were noisy in a good way.

    Now we come to the part I’m nervous about. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone here will love BAIL ENFORCERS. Everyone. I’m serious. There, I did it. I’ll be back with more on this one.

    BUNRAKU is, in my opinion, the greatest comic book movie ever made that isn’t (so far as I know) based on a comic book. Even better than DARKMAN. A lot’s already been said here, so I’ll just second all the good things you’ve been told by my esteemed colleagues.

    Okay, more in the next 48 hours. Kudos to Mouth for his moment-by-moment account.

  102. Rook Reports: Part Deux


    You can relax now. Here I am again, as promised. As I said before, this is a good movie that everyone here ought to enjoy. Here, excerpted from the ActionFest program, is a short plot synopsis:

    “Ex-boxer Zach (Alex Meraz), talented MMA fighter Tim (UFC fighter Todd Duffee), bullied record store clerk Justin (MMA fighter Scott Epstein), and wrestler Mike (Dean Geyer) come from very different backgrounds, but they share a passion for the “savage science” and quickly become loyal to their unorthodox trainer, Case (Michael Jai White), a brilliant ex-UFC Champion down on his luck.”

    As you have no doubt discerned, MJW has to share the spotlight here with four guys, each with their own backstory and motivation and so forth. The good news is that all of our young lions are completely believable in their roles and never let the side down. Personally, I would have liked a little more screen time for MJW, but that just wasn’t the nature of his role.
    Speaking of his role, MJW really does a fantastic job playing a mentor. You really see how he can inspire intense devotion from these guys. I wish I could have come into the orbit of someone like this when I was a college kid. He also gets the best lines in the movie. I won’t ruin it for you by repeating them here, but there are some real gems.

    With MJW at the helm and Larnell Stovall choreographing, it basically goes without saying that the fights are spectacular, but I’ll say it anyway. The fights are spectacular. No disappointments there.

    Prior to the screening, MJW gave a little introduction explaining that the film was still a work in progress, so I won’t nitpick about some of the things that didn’t quite work. It’s entirely possible that most of that stuff will disappear before the final cut. There are, however, a couple of things I think are worth mentioning. No spoilers, so don’t worry about that.

    The first would a moment with a young lady portraying a nurse who gives one of the worst line readings ever. Really. This, to the best of my recollection, is what she was given to say:

    NURSE (on telephone): “Hey girl, have you seen this website about the Beatdown? These guys are really hot. MMA is what boxing wishes it could be. These guys could have me anytime. Ground and pound, baby. Yeah.”

    Granted, this isn’t exactly Arthur Miller, so the actress didn’t have a hell of a lot to work with. But , still, she reads it like one of the holographic teen girls in JASON X. “Look at us! We’re smoking pot! We’re drinking beer!” Difference being, those girls did it that way on purpose. It’s a small thing, but the audience was laughing and for just a second or two, it took you out of the picture. I’ll be curious to see if it’s still in there when the movie gets a general release.

    The second bit is bigger and, for me, more serious. There are two scenes in the movie where MJW gets hassled by police. His primary antagonist among these cops is an officer visiting via wormhole from 1962 Alabama. He is the only character in the film who speaks with a southern accent, and the words that flow from his mouth are, well…

    COP: “Git yo black ass outta here, boy.”

    That’s just a sample. To give you the full flavor of the performance, he stretches “boy” into two syllables.

    Can we please wave bye-bye to this particular cliché once and for all? I have lived in the South (and known cops) all of my life. This racist cracker policeman stereotype is just an insulting caricature. I can buy it in MISSISSIPPI BURNING, for example, but here it’s just plain stupid. Even if you had a cop who harbored these attitudes in his secret heart, he certainly wouldn’t go around blabbing it and I promise you there is no way in Hell he could get about five of his fellow officers to get on aboard with his agenda, as this guy does. I’m pretty sure this particular element is here to stay, as it’s actually crucial to the plot and, in fact, sets up one of the best fights in the movie. But, I’ve got to tell you, for the record, it’s really fucking annoying.

    Oh, one more thing, two of the young lions look so much alike that it took me about fifteen minutes of movie to figure out who was who. You probably will not have this problem. But then again, you might. One of them should have grown a moustache for the role, in my opinion.

    In spite of these things, the movie is still a blast and a great directorial debut for MJW. He has every right to be proud of it. The AF crowd gave it a great reception, and I can practically guarantee that no one left the theater saying, “It just wasn’t as good as the first one.”

    I’ll be back with some thoughts on BAIL ENFORCERS.

  103. “Now we come to the part I’m nervous about. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone here will love BAIL ENFORCERS. Everyone. I’m serious. There, I did it. I’ll be back with more on this one.”
    Is Trish Stratus really the main character or is she just promoted the most as a recognisable face? I ask because I went to the movie’s official website and one of the stills was of her being held hostage…which you don’t expect a main character to have done to them.

  104. She is absolutely the main character. I’m not familiar with her as a wrestler, but I think if you liked her there, you’ll like her here. I’ll tell you lots more soon. Watch this space.

  105. I checked out the trailer for BAIL ENFORCERS on the website for the festival, and while it really showed the limited budget of the film, I was intrigued by the premise of the movie. Looking forward to your review Rook.

  106. IRONCLAD, MACHETE MAIDENS:UNLEASHED, BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, and LITTLE BIG SOLDIER, as previously mentioned, are all well worth watching, though you might not be missing much if you wait for home release.

    I missed THE HEIR APPARENT: LARGO WINCH (a 2008 release, apparently), and that’s a shame because look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRKTZPg_D1k Poor Duncan from LAST OF THE MOHICANS, he always ends up dead & lonely. That clip was good enough to make the decision almost a toss up between HEIR APPARENT & BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, but obviously Panna Rittikrai wins.
    I also had to miss OUTRAGE, ActionFest Best Director & Best Picture winner A LONELY PLACE TO DIE, BELLFLOWER, and Mouth’s Honorary Award Winner for Best Title FIGHTVILLE. I had no interest in seeing BAIL ENFORCERS, but, uh, yeah.

    Rook & I are in total agreement about everything NEVER BACK DOWN 2: THE BEATDOWN. I will also avoid spoiling any of the experience, but I’ll alert you to the fact that the very first shot is fighting and that there are gratuitous sex & female nudity scenes that made me want to high 5 my new close personal friend, rookie director MJW. Like he said in the Q & A session, he knows what the audience wants because he too is primarily a fan, a fight expert 2nd, and a filmmaker most recently. Also, Mikey has mastered the mean glare and use of the word “motherfucker.”

    Of course we will all enjoy it because of the great, satisfying violence, but eventually I’d be interested in intellectualizing the gay dad subplot & a few other elements of NBD2 as a comment on or deliberate defense against the likely charges of homoeroticism in a movie featuring muscular dudes grappling. I also think maybe the gay dad = NEVER BACK DOWN 1 in a meta-textual narrative sense, but we’ll see what makes it to the final cut. This non-badass approach to watching the movie is purely intended to help stimulate your mind during the more banal, teen TV show type of scenes between fights.

    I brought my copy of FIRST BLOOD in the hope that Buddy Joe Hooker would sign it, and I’m sure he would have, but I kept failing to put myself in position to force an autograph.

    I let myself fall in with a crowd of perky, heavy drinkers between the awards presentation and a screening of THE WRAITH (1986). I was swept up in a wave of trendster calls for “winning” and “tiger” something, and they bought me a drink or 2 so it seemed like a decent way to approach a Charlie Sheen movie about a ghost car that is a representation of either a dead boy or a hole in the love life of the ridiculously hot Sherilyn Fenn. I was excited when the DESTROY ALL MOVIES guy introducing it told us it was good and said it “has some inter-dimensional, cross-dimensional things going on.” I gave it a chance, but it turns out this chick is right: http://popdose.com/soundtrack-saturday-the-wraith/ Clint Howard’s hair. Dear Christ, that hair.

    BUNRAKU seemed really good, but I’ll defer to more sober experts.

    TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN, a compelling Australian RED DAWN that focuses on cute teen girls trying to figure out which boys they like as much as it does on the invasion-insurgency narrative, made me think about a lot of things – the nature of badass juxtaposition in real life, properties of various flammable materials, why the fuck guys can’t just be open & honest and tell a girl “Hey, I like you, let’s go out” and vice versa, my first kill, the birth of local insurgencies, Bible thumpers and how they treat war, and how much it sucks to go weeks without a proper shower.

    I was impressed by the tactics of the young insurgents, the filmatism, and the badass vehicle chases (dune buggies with hood-mounted machine guns versus garbage truck with Spy Hunter-style rubbish release capability!), so I was fully engaged the entire time, but then it sort of ended on one of those cheesy, forced wrap-ups that tells the world that the story will continue either in someone’s imagination or, hopefully, a sequel.

    Also, the film never specifies which Asian invading force it is, but I swear the only non-English word I heard one of them say is “Kumite.”

    The 2 most fucked up, depraved movies I saw were SUPER & HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. The latter was disappointing, but that’s because I had unreasonable hopes and b/c of my itch to enjoy the superior MACHETE, the 3rd best movie of 2010, screening simultaneously with an ActionFest crowd in an auditorium just 50 feet away.
    SUPER features my single favorite scene of the festival, but shut up, Mouth, b/c it happens at the very end of the movie.

    The most memorable part of the stunt show for me was when Aaron Norris had a combat veteran’s moment, twice accidentally carrying his live microphone too close to a speaker and twice flinching because, as he rightly noted, it sounded like an incoming mortar round.

    JCVD & Scott Adkins got us amped up with a special preview of several minutes of the upcoming WEAPON while we waited for MJW to arrive & intro the NBD2 world premiere. WEAPON looks like a cliché action movie so far, but the gunplay, fighting, and slick visual darkness motif seems very promising. It enters the Woo zone with one of those scenes where the guys fight and end up pointing their guns at each other and slowly circling & chatting.

    Pre-13 ASSASSINS, Iko Uwais greeted us with a more intense, polished version of this brilliant peak at SERBUAN MAUT (THE RAID): http://twitchfilm.com/news/2011/04/get-your-first-taste-of-iko-uwais-in-the-raid-serbuan-maut.php

    It’s a beautiful thing, this American life in the 21st century. I can get in my Japanese car, probably filled with Canadian or Venezuelan or Saudi petroleum product, plug in my assembled-in-China iPhone to listen to a book by world traveler Olen Steinhauer, switch to my Rhapsody app to listen to Maxwell and live recordings of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, then switch to local radio like my lifelong personal favorite 91.7 WSGE out of Gaston College or the amazingly eclectic 88.7 in Asheville, then eat Greek food, then watch a Canadian guy introduce a movie filmed in Wales, then go to the downtown Biergarten to hook up with college chicks and, alas, be hit on by gay guys. Diversity for the fucking win.

    In conclusion, Brakus would attend ActionFest 2012.

  107. Looks like Walter Hill is confirmed to direct Headshot. . .

    I really, really really hope he brings back the rampant badassery of his best films. We shall see, but I am optimistic.

  108. So…episode 1 of that Mortal Kombat webseries is out and apparantly they tried to go for an early to mid 90’s generic DTV action feel for that, just like the last sneak suggested.
    I hate it.


  109. Rook Reports: Part Trois


    Greetings and salutations to all and sundry. Here I am with my eagerly awaited musings on the subject of BAIL ENFORCERS, a movie that I am greatly enamored of.
    Here, for your reading pleasure, is a plot synopsis excerpted from the ActionFest program:

    “Seven-time World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Women’s Champion Trish Stratus leaps from the ring to the silver screen with her debut performance as the member of a crackerjack team of bounty hunters who hit the jackpot when they pick up an informant with a hundred thousand dollar bounty on his head. Before they can claim their reward, they’ll have to fight the entire mob underworld, and match skills with a trio of deadly assassins.”

    Before I go any further, I should make small correction to this summary. The final sentence should read as follows: “Before they can claim their reward, they’ll have to fight the entire mob underworld, which consists of a third-tier boss and a trio of deadly assassins.”

    That is the plain truth, and you can be forgiven if you think it sounds underwhelming. However, trust the Rook when he tells you that this movie works. There are three reasons why.

    Reason number one is the writing. The action in this story takes place over the course of a single night, and every event leads into the next in a perfectly logical way that never feels forced. The cast is small, but this is a good thing. Every character is given room to breathe and emerge as a distinct personality. Although some of them do things that are really stupid, it’s always a bad decision that grows out of their character, rather than the usual “I become a moron here because the script says so” crap that happens time and again in the movies. The dialogue is smart and natural; an excellent facsimile of actual human conversation. I doff my hat to writer Reese Evenshon. I hope they hire you again for the sequel, buddy.

    Reason number two is the acting. I used the word “natural” above, and that applies to the performances as well. Trish Stratus is certainly a beautiful woman, but she brings a lot more to the party than looks. Not only is she a completely believable ass-kicker, she’s genuinely likeable; a real charismatic screen presence, if I say so myself.

    And it’s not just her. The other two guys on her team do a great job as well. Boomer Phillips takes the character of the comic relief sidekick and does two notable things with him: He makes the character (a) more or less competent and (b) actually funny. I’m pretty sure credit for the latter goes to Phillips, since it seems (based on some credit cookies) that he improvised a lot of his dialogue. Frank J. Zupancic does a great job as the team leader. There is not one frame of the film in which he is not completely believable. He knows this, because I told him so in the lobby after the film. I think it was a life-affirming experience for him.

    The four bad guys are great, too. They all take stock characters (Italian Gangster, Cold-Blooded Assassin, et al) and breathe real life into them.

    Reason number three is the action. The fights are all done in coherent long-takes that showcase the skills and physicality of the participants. The climactic scrap between Stratus and Andrea James Lui is a real standout. No frantic cutting and seizure-cam here. This, in my opinion, is where Status’ background as a wrestler really pays off. She comes from a world where you have to deliver the goods consistently, without being able to rely on camera tricks to convince the world that you’re a badass.

    Will this movie find an appreciative audience? I hope so, but I don’t know. I think one of its big problems is the title. BAIL ENFORCERS just isn’t much of a grabber, you know? On the other hand, what else were they supposed to call it? As a purely academic exercise, I tried to come up with a decent alternate title and couldn’t do it. I guess that’s why they make the big bucks.

    The other thing is the primary image they’re using in the marketing looks like it should be for a movie called TRISH STRATUS: ANGEL OF H.E.A.T. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great picture, but it just doesn’t capture the mood of the movie.

    Well, there it is. I thought it was a hell of a good time at the movies. If you disagree, feel free to heap calumnies upon my head. I’m a tough guy. I can take it.

    Thanks for listening.

  110. Man I love THE WRAITH. It is the type of totally ridiculous concept movie that only could have been made in the 80’s. It is also a PG-13 movie with boobs in it, and not just any boobs but Sherilyn Fenn’s amazing boobs. However, as great as Fenn’s breasts are I think Nick Cassavetes performance as Packard the insecure and extremely sensitive gang leader steals the show. I know in any review or conversation about this film at some point Clint Howard’s hair will be mentioned, and rightfully so it is completely bananas, but Cassavetes’s Uncle Jesse hairdo deserves some recognition as well. Something about Cassavetes’s hair cut adds to his vulnerability. His hair cut plus Cassavetes’s pouty on the brink of crying at any moment performance equals a truly memorable villain. Seriously, Cassavetes work really elevates the film. If you have not seen THE WRAITH they recently released a special edition DVD loaded with extras I would highly recommend checking out. Vern, I am sure your list of films you plan to review is long and getting longer by the day, but I would add THE WRAITH to it. You will not be disappointed.

  111. Nice to hear that about BE, Rook.
    My copy of UNDISPUT3D arrived today. It’s a dutch version, which is a novelty, but it’s in english and I can turn the subtitles off, so it’s all good, and the film is definitely “for the fucking win” as Mouth would say.

  112. Stu, I just hope that when you and the rest of the guys see it, you enjoy it as much as I did. As for UNDISPUTED 2 & 3, they are the first non-Seagal movies I bought based on a recommendation from Vern, so they have a very special place in my heart. I will return within next 48 hrs. with my 4th and final installment. in which I reveal several interesting bits from panels and Q&As, including…wait for it…MJWs dream project!

    As always, thanks for listening.

  113. Rook Reports: The Final Chapter

    Well friends, after a great deal of reflection I have come to the conclusion that several of the miscellaneous anecdotes I was going to share with you about my AF experience would be interesting to exactly no one other than myself. So, rather than bore you I will attempt to apply an Elmore Leonard rule of writing: Leave out the parts that everyone skips. There is, however, one bit that I know you will like. At the Art of Fight Direction panel, kung fu movie scholar Ric Meyers asked his fellow panelists this question: What’s your dream project? MJW named three. He said he would love to do the Marvel Comics character BLACK PANTHER, he wants to do a project called THE MOOR (I’d love to know more about that one) and — this is really interesting –he would love to do a biopic about Paul Robeson. Let’s hope he gets to do them all.

    Now you know the rest of the story. Thanks for listening.

  114. White shot some promo footage for The Moor a while back.


    Looks interesting.

  115. Boy, the board hasn’t been taking my posts since last weekend. I’m sorry I missed Mouth and Rook in Asheville, but you guys have nailed it. Can’t believe I never saw Mouth in his white suit and Vern notepad though. You guys should Facebook me. Just send me a message saying who you are on this board and I’ll approve you.

  116. Game of Thrones. Have you people seen the first episode? I´m a big fan of the books.

  117. What do you guys think about Jason Statham being cast as Parker (or Walker in Point Blank and Porter in Payback). It will only be called Parker and directed by Taylor Hackford. I’m not sure which Westlake novels it will be adapted from. Perhaps it will be a new Statham franchise.

    Hopefully it will not be another adaptation of The Hunter.

  118. There’s a great moment in BUTCHER’S MOON that simply has to be filmed.

    MOBSTER (looking down the barrel of Parker’s gun): Hey, I’m just the messenger!

    PARKER: Now you’re the message.

  119. I think Statham as Parker is great news. THAT is how I want to start my day. Should be badass and then some, hopefully.

  120. Ghost – thanks for the heads up, I hadn’t read about that yet.

    There’s probly some better casting out there, but I don’t mind him. He could work and he’s not gonna erase the memory of Lee Marvin or even Mel Gibson. I’m more worried about Taylor Hackford. I’d trust Steven Soderbergh or somebody more. But we’ll see.

    Actually now I read the Variety article which has a troubling plot description:

    “Pic, based on the book series by Donald Westlake, revolves around a thief who, though at times is forced to be a killer, still lives by a code of honor that includes never stealing money from people who need it.”

    Okay, so obviously it’s not gonna be Parker.

    It’s weird that they’re letting them use the name, by the way. Westlake never authorized that while he was alive. I wonder if that means they bought the rights to the entire series. Maybe he’ll be the crook James Bond, with endless movies and new guys playing Parker over the years.

  121. The Graphic Novel adaptations (which are fucking incredible, by the way) were allowed to use the namem but then again I don’t think those sorts of adaptations are usually prone to name changes. Though actually I watched an interview with Westlake where he actually said jokingly he wished he’d given the character a different name, because he had to keep thinking up less awkward ways of saying “Parker parked the car”. What I really HOPE for with this adaptation is they actually set it in the 60s, and I think there’s a good chance they might, given the popularity of MAD MEN and the whole style of that, which is pretty comparable, and the time period also allows them to take ideas straight from the books and not have to worry about how the jobs would work in the present day with better technology and security.

    I thought episode 2 of MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY: PORT OF CALL: EARTH REALM was better than the first, at least because of the near-Fatality Jax does on Kano is more MK than anything from the first part.

  122. Saw FAST FIVE today. Had a great time with it. Straightforward, well paced story which incorporates the history of the films so far, but in a way that’s not confusing to newcomers. Diesel and Walker carry the film well enough, though the other members of the crew get a nice bit of focus. Tej and Roman have an entertaining bit of camraderie where they’re always trying to one up each other, Tego and Rico similarly are best friends having friendly arguments, and Han actually gets a romantic subplot with the weapons expert Gisele, which actually leads to a poignant allusion to the future events of TOKYO DRIFT. I know it’s the same director, but I didn’t expect them to actually reference it like that, and to actually make it sorta touching! Actually, when Roman and Dom meet for the first time, there’s indication they’re uneasy about each other for some reason, but this isn’t followed up on before and they’re get along fine the rest of the movie, which is odd. They even bring back Vince from the first film(the guy who was always saying O’Connor was a cop and had a thing for Mia), and actually make him a bit more of a sympathetic character, so good job on that, Lin.
    I really liked The Rock as Hobbs. He’s playing a straight up, badass pro with a “tough shit” attitude who doesn’t care why Dom and Rick are wanted, their names are on a list and it’s his job to bring them in. Him and his team are played up effectively as much of a threat to Dom’s crew as the main villain (Joaquim De Almeida as local crimelord Reyes, who’s good, but definitely suffers from diminished appearance due to the other things taking up screentime), and there’s good macho tension when they meet each other face to face. The Rock gets to do some good quality action stuff in this, particularly in an early scene, and thankfully the movie carries on the tradition of having wrestlers turned actors use wrestling moves in fights. All this, coupled with his character’s ultimately honourable ways makes me think a US MARSHALLS type spinoff for the Hobbs character could definitely work, especially with the fact that they could set it in many different international locations that would create variety for sequels. Though maybe have a bit more quality control on some of the quips he uses(“I want surveillance on this guy round the clock. If he goes to the bathroom, I wanna know how many shakes he gives it”).
    In terms of filmatism, it’s definitely more on the good, comprehensible side of things. I could have used the camera being a little further back in the fist/firefight stuff, but the chases and car sequences are all for the most part clearly shot, and you can tell exactly what was going on, who was doing it, where they were doing it, and what the results where. Oh, and the film thankfully has way more emphasis on car chases/stunts than on racing. There’s only one actual race in the whole movie, and that’s more about the characters, nitro is used sparingly, we don’t get internal views of the engine and shit, and the Universal logo doesn’t get pimped out this time. They have an obligatory Street Racing Party With All The Hot Chicks In Super Revealing Clothes Scene, but thankfully they completely skip over the race because they figure we already know (SPOILER)no way is Dom losing to the douchebag who’s his opponent.
    There is one thing that bothers me about the movie, and it’s the same problem with the Chase sequences from Nolan’s Batman movies. Dom and O’Connor are criminals, but are of course not looking to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it, yet the only reason nobody innocent gets hurt or killed by their driving is pure luck. Especially in the opening scene. Those buses don’t have seatbelts. I also don’t buy that there’s only ONE good cop on the entire Rio police department, so as far as I’m concerned, they also decapitated, crushed or otherwise seriously harmed a number of decent cops with their car fu in the final sequence.
    Otherwise though, I recommend it.

  123. Stu – How does it compare with #4? Better or worse?

    Give Justin Liu credit: He knows how to make good car porn without self-indulging himself into boring sadism like your usual Bay production.

  124. I’ve only seen the first two F&F films, so I can’t compare. And I actually really like the car stuff in this, because they let the cars speak for themselves in how they’re used, rather than focus so much on the customisation/gaudy paintjobs like in the earlier films, and there even seems to be a subtle rejection of all that stuff with Roman seeing a bright blue car and asking if they won it off Poppa Smurf, and Hobbs deems putting a DVD player into a classic like a GT40 to be sacrilege. Basically what I’m saying is you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen driving these vehicles, and the people who do don’t seem all that douchey because of it. I’m not a driver and I know jack shit about how cars work, so its less alien to me this time around.

  125. Stu, thanks for the review. I am going to try and check this one out next weekend.

  126. When you do see it, there’s a post-credits scene, by the way. I didn’t know this, and only read about it later.
    Also correction to my review: it wasn’t a DVD player, but a GPS system in the GT40.

  127. As a series non-fan who was looking forward to FAST FIVE on the strength of the trailer I thought it was…OK. There is some great action, it’s a little more traditional and classy then I’d think of this series, and there are actually some nice character moments. But it’s also surprisingly slow, has about five too many endings and is chock-full of cringeworth TRANSFORMERS-style jokes. If they still have matinees in America, I’d recommend waiting for one of them.

  128. Anyone check out the latest update on the Actionfest home page? http://www.actionfest.com

    They’re optimistic it will continue but my gut feeling is it won’t. I hope I’m wrong. I loved my annual trips to Asheville, the place that brought Mouth, Neal2Zod and I together in real life, and Gina Carano into my bosom for a warm embrace. If they do keep it going I hope it will still be April, because pretty much every other month is taken by some high profile industry event already.

    But attendance was always low and I’m sure they lost money on those first three years. I don’t know much about the management side of things but I knew something was up when we didn’t even have the dates confirmed for this year. :(

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