Bullet to the Head

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

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

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

The buddies in this buddy movie are Stallone as Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo, professional killer, and Sung Kang as New York homicide cop Taylor Kwon. (Remember, since Sung Kang is in this it takes place before TOKYO DRIFT). After Jimmy’s partner Louis (Jon Seda from Homicide: Life On the Street) gets shanked in a bar a series of events push Jimmy and Detective Kwon into a tenuous partnership of convenience. Jimmy wants to get the guy who killed Louis and Kwon wants to get the guys who hired Jimmy to kill some other guy.

mp_bullettotheheadThere’s a whole convoluted conspiracy involving a “hot shot lawyer” (Christian Slater) and an African war criminal (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of KILLER ELITE, FASTER, GI JOE 1, etc.) who plan to burn down a ghetto and build condos there. Kind of a return to the race and class and real estate themes Hill used in TRESPASS, but he doesn’t explore them as deeply here, they just come up a couple of times.

By the way, congratulations to Christian Slater for being in a theatrical release again. The last movies I saw him in were EL GRINGO, ASSASSIN’S BULLET, HE WAS A QUIET MAN… I guess BOBBY was the last time I saw him projected, so maybe that explains what happened. But welcome back, Slater. It’s kind of a small role where he does the same kind of hammy bad guy as in EL GRINGO. He talks a big game even when tied to a chair, but all Stallone has to do is hit him with the butt of a rifle to get him to spit out like 2 or 3 pages of expositional dialogue. You guys, BULLET TO THE HEAD CONDONES TORTURE. If Jimmy Bobo gets useful information from torture then we are powerless to maintain our moral objection to its use. Please follow your conscience before voting for this for best picture and all other categories.

Anyway, the plot is pretty dumb, overly complicated without anything original about it. But there’s alot of funny, quotable dialogue, and the characters are great. I kinda doubt he’ll get much credit for it, but Stallone is excellent in this role. It’s exciting to see him really doing a performance, playing a character like he does in ROCKY and RAMBO and COP LAND. I kinda like Barney Ross in THE EXPENDABLES, but he’s one of those roles that’s mostly just Stallone acting like himself. Here he has a specific Jimmy Bobo attitude and growly voice that makes me welcome the occasional unnecessary narration. He’s really funny without a trace of that dorky mugging he usually does when he’s trying to be funny. I don’t think he ever smiles, he’s almost as straight faced as Rambo, but he says funny shit. I also think that his current aging tattooed muscleman look, with the giant protruding pecs, fits the character well.

Stallone and Kang have a good chemistry. Kang is interesting because he doesn’t fit any of the standard types for Asian men in Hollywood movies. He’s the likable by-the-book cop who could’ve been played by maybe non-douchey Bradley Cooper or sincere Paul Rudd. They cut out a joke that’s in the trailer where Jimmy expects him to know kung fu and he says he’s from Florida. Maybe it’s just because he’s Korean and Americans generally don’t know as much about their culture as we do Japan and China, but I do think it’s notable that he never has to pretend to do any martial arts moves or use a sword. He doesn’t even have to have some special Asian knowledge, like for example about Yakuza tattoos or something like that. Maybe the closest precedent would be SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, where Brandon Lee doesn’t know Asian stuff, but in that one the joke is that Dolph does know it. And obviously Lee does do some kung fu.

Not that this is completely color blind. Jimmy does flip him a bunch of racist shit, lumping all the Asian countries together, but Kwon is able to defend himself verbally better than Jackie Chan did in RUSH HOUR. Maybe if it had been a white actor (Thomas Jane was originally cast, but Joel Silver wanted to go “more ethnic”) he would’ve unambiguously hooked up with Jimmy’s tough tattoo artist/underworld doctor daughter (Sarah Shahi). But I like how they do it. When he seems to have a thing for her you don’t know if he’s for real or just trying to make Jimmy squirm. And you gotta respect the economy of the movie. 90 minutes including credits. No time to light a hundred candles and play the sexy saxophone music while they roll around.

I knew from the commercials that it was his daughter, but it’s funny that Kwon assumes she’s his young girlfriend. I guess he watches action movies like we do. I like her, and I like their strained father-daughter relationship. When they show signs of caring for each other they’re small enough gestures to seem genuine.

By the way, in her year of medical school I guess one of the things they taught her was that when you remove a bullet you gotta immediately clunk it onto a metal tray. Has there ever been a bullet surgery scene that didn’t do that? What would happen if they just dropped it in the garbage, or put it in their pocket, or threw it out the window?

All the leads are good, but the scene-stealer is Jason Momoa as Keegan, the mercenary who killed Jimmy’s partner. We all appreciate Momoa in Game of Thrones, and I kinda liked him in his not very good CONAN THE BARBARIAN movie, but this is a breakout performance for him. For most of the movie he’s very effective as a silent killer behemoth guy, the type of old school action movie villain often played by Paco Christian Prieto or guys like that. Then, near the end, another character tells us that Keegan is a hero to other mercenaries for being an honorable warrior. He has a code. Suddenly he starts objecting to the villain’s plot, but he’s not turning into a good guy. He still wants to have an ax fight with Jimmy.

And during this fight he really comes alive, laughing and enjoying himself, stopping to clap at one point. Not sarcastic villain clapping, but this is really fun clapping. He’s great. And I suddenly realized I was rooting for him. Both Jimmy and Keegan are hired killers with no morals, but Keegan has turned down a bunch of dirty money and is talking about honor. Hey, I like honor too! He also does one of my favorite things in action movies, he puts a gun away and gives Jimmy an ax. It’s like in THE RAID when Mad Dog puts his gun away so he can have a fight that will satisfy him more. And indeed he seems to enjoy the fight, just as Keegan does. Pundits lately are complaining about action movies glorifying guns. Okay, but how ’bout praising these movies that glorify putting down guns to fight with fists, feet and blades?

I’ve convinced me. I’m nominating Mad Dog for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Like most action movies now, BULLET TO THE HEAD takes place in New Orleans. And yes, there’s a part with a brass band in a parade, but not a shootout in a warehouse storing Mardi Gras parade floats. Sorry. Another New Orleans touch is a rich-people party where everybody has to wear masks and there’s some naked girls walking around. I kept hoping somebody would say “Fidelio.”

There’s definitely a Walter Hill feel to it in the way he shoots the city and the macho swagger of the white man’s blues rock score by Hans Zimmer acolyte Steve Mazzaro. Hill’s still doing a little bit of UNDISPUTED-style Avid-fart-era flourishes, cutting to computer screens as Kwon checks police files on his smart phone, but nothing too bad. I like when he has a montage of Jimmy’s mugshots throughout the years. It acknowledges how much we’ve seen Stallone age while establishing what a life-long fuckup Jimmy is. Also I believe they used the mugshot from FIRST BLOOD. Reminded me of when they used an N.W.A picture as a file photo of Ice Cube in xXx STATE OF THE UNION.

The action is mostly old school, but sometimes cut a little quick, probly to get around stunt doubles. The best fight, Balboa vs. Khal Drogo II, is kinda choppy but has some good hits and interaction between the characters. The great JJ Perry is fight coordinator as well as one of two 2nd unit directors.

Wayne Kramer was the original director, some claimed he was fired for wanting to make the movie darker than Stallone did. I don’t know, but I think the tone is just right. Lots of laughs, but the hero is a bastard and a murderer, and without the usual humanizing touches this type of character is supposed to get. Yes he has a cool daughter, but he admits he was a terrible father and never gets a full endorsement from her. You might think he’d tell some sweet story about her mother, maybe have a soft-focus, slo-mo flashback of her smiling and running on a sunny day, the failure that haunts him, the beautiful angel who he couldn’t keep around.

Nope. When asked about her mother all he says is, “Junkie hooker. Dead 15 years.”

There are plenty of things wrong with the construction of this movie, but it has a personality and a feel that only the combination of Stallone and Hill could bring us. It’s easily my favorite of the recent Expendables solo projects. I’m excited about this one. I hope you guys like it too.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 4:19 am and is filed under Action, Crime, Reviews. 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.

93 Responses to “Bullet to the Head”

  1. Glad to read that you dug it, Vern.

    It supposedly had a very troubled production, with re-writes and re-shoots galore, with Sly supposedly taking over. If so, I’d love to know how much he did, but I just can’t imagine Hill not delivering the goods, directing wise. The man is a legend.

    Some of the negative reviews for this have complained about it being too 80s. Man. What a weird thing to whine about.

    Be interesting to see how this does, box office wise – especially after THE LAST STAND.

  2. Great review (loved the torture bit). I was waiting for your take on it as I feel I can’t trust most of the normal reviews. Even critics who start their reviews by saying they love 80’s action afterwards make it pretty clear that they don’t actually want more films like that, complaining that the stories are too simple and/or goofy, the stars are too old etc.

    I’m still pissed about Thomas Jane getting fired just because he is the wrong race, especially since Sung Kang is a boring guy whose supposed charisma in the Fast series is overrated if you ask me. At first I was even planning on skipping the film just because of this, but your review makes me want to go see it now.

    After all, one should never pass on the chance to see a good axe fight.

  3. Vern, what about Stallone’s voice? He said in an interview that this is the first time he uses his real voice. What the hell does that mean?

  4. Vern: Are you including in your list of “EXPENDABLES Spin-Offs” that movie where Jet Li dresses up as a turtle to fight against autism and death? (Joking aside, it’s actually worth checking out.)

    Also, BULLET TO THE HEAD should have cast Jay Z as the guy who wants to “burn down a ghetto and build condos there.” He’s good at that kind of thing.

  5. I will skip the review for now , but I’m glad for that “respectable effort” , since I was kinda worried about this one . Thanks to the strange release dates over here I still have to see this , The Last Stand and DREDD . Oh my God , DREDD , I don’t even know if it’s coming out in cinemas or directly to DVD , and everyone seems to like it a lot . I looked everywhere but there’s no release date . The Last Stand wiil be out next week, and a lot of critics hate it , but for Bullet to the Head I will have to wait April 4 , like that Italian poster up there tells me . By the way , I like that poster , it only says “The Myth becomes a Legend” , and there’s none of that old-man theme from the other posters , like “Retirement is for Sissies” and “Revenge never gets old”. That shit is getting old , we know they’re a little older now , and I’m glad that they joke about it , but please , no more old-farts jokes !

  6. Kermit – which country you live in?

  7. This was a much more positive review then I was expecting. I had no real plans of seeing this in theaters, but if Vern is saying it is better than THE LAST STAND (a film I really enjoyed) I will have to check it out.

  8. Possibly my best interview ever was with a drunken Tom Jane discussing his firing from this film very, very frankly.


    Seriously. Read/to that shit.

  9. Excited for this. I love me some motivated Stallone and I will always have love for Walter Hill. The little character beats given to Momoa’s character sound like a lot of fun too. Anyone else feel like the axe fight is a riff on the sledgehammer fight idea from “Streets of Fire”? Just me?

  10. That’s interesting, in Tawdry’s interview Thomas Jane says he was the one who suggested Walter Hill as director. He must’ve also suggested him when he was being considered for Punisher War Zone, because I think that was before Jane left. He specializes in trying to get Walter Hill to direct a movie that he doesn’t end up doing.

    Pegsman, that’s also interesting what you say about Stallone using his real voice in this. He sounds very growly and gravely, it’s a great tough guy voice, that’s one of the things I really like about the character.

  11. Jareth – is the Jet Li movie The Sorcerer and the White Snake? I haven’t seen that yet, so it’s not included in my ranking. I just meant I liked this better than Parker and The Last Stand.

  12. Saw it last night; liked it quite a bit. Far from perfect, but it is very competent. Some reviewers have complained about how BTTH has an 80’s action movie sheen to it… as if that were a bad thing (idiots).

    There’s one great don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment. It’s at the beginning of the axe fight. It’s a very brief flicker of fear that crosses Stallone’s face, as if he’s thinking “Oh, shit… maybe I *can’t* take this guy down”. It’s all the more effective because, up until that point, he’s mowed down everything in his path. Nice touch.

  13. Nice review Vern. I dug this a lot more than THE LAST STAND. Really enjoyed how mean, fast and funny it was. One way in which Hill definitely hasn’t lost his touch is in the bone-crunching brutality of the movie. I agree about the AVID farts (most egregious with the axe fight, imho), but every time a guy got hit or thrown into an object there was a perfect, painful snappiness to it. Maybe it was just my theater, but I thought the sound was great at getting across that satisfying visceral quality. And I agree about Stallone, he was fantastic.

  14. Noticed they cut out a few scenes from the Trailer.

    “You sound like a broken record.”

    “They don’t even make records anymore.”

    I liked the film as a whole. Especially the Ax fight at the end.

  15. Speaking of Thomas Jane ( and projects he doesn’t end up doing) , is he returning as the Punisher or not ? There was a project a while back for a movie with him , and I’m sure you guys have seen this promo and talked about it :


    Is this still happening??

  16. War Zone flopped. So i doubt anyone Punisher is going anywhere for the time being.

  17. Kermit – that was a short film and nothing more. I quite enjoyed it. (I also loved WAR ZONE.)

    Sorry to go off-tangent and into Comic book movies, but Marvel did say the film rights to Punisher reverted back to them, so they have the following options:

    (1) NEW MAJOR MOTION PICTURE – This won’t happen, and I hate to say it because I like the character and loved him as a kid, but he’s had 3 movies and none really captured the public imagination though Jane’s PUNISHER did make over $100 million worldwide.

    (2) DIRECT TO DVD MOVIE – Pretty possible, and lets be honest, you could get Jane for this.

    (3) TV SERIES – I would say this could work, but with ARROW on television where Green Arrow becomes pretty much the Punisher but with green mascara and dresses up like Robin Hood, where would Punisher go be unique and stand-out? Perhaps only by going on HBO or Showtime and be hardcore violent. But that just doesn’t sound like something those channels would be into. (They wouldn’t mind the violence, but they prefer to have critical acclaim to be attached with it. Frank Castle and critics go together like Frank Castle and criminals.)

    I think for now, and major nerd boner really, I could see Punisher popping up sometime on that upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. tv show. I doubt a liberal like Whedon will want to use a pro-2nd Amendment character like Punisher and honestly you only use him if you want a ton of bad guys to get slaughtered and a mob story in NYC. In theory I could even see them getting Jane to come back to the role. That would be good Internet buzz for that, on top of that multi-million hit Punisher short film “sequel” he did.

    Or ok not SHIELD, what if they do HEROES FOR HIRE tv series? Punisher could easily pop up in that NYC-based series. (If its based in NYC, of course.) Either format, if Punisher gets enough buzz or notice, I suppose you could then spin-off into his own program or Direct to DVD movies.

    I would also argue Marvel could do this as well with Blade, but I doubt they’ll bother trying to get Snipes back. They’ll just reboot. But God imagine if Snipes did play Blade again, if just for an episode. The Internet would love the fuck out of that and God knows you would play into the nostalgia factor with people who saw those BLADE movies when they were younger and now older. A throwback to the “first” Marvel hit movie, if now obscured by subsequent bigger hits (and IMO better. Sorry Vern.)

    OK enough funny pages, back to BULLET TO THE HEAD. I hate that this will flop this weekend. You just know it will. I hope its good as you folks say.

  18. Vern: The Jet Li movie I was referring to is called OCEAN HEAVEN. It’s a (melo)drama and probably shouldn’t be seen as in any way affiliated with THE EXPENDABLES. Unless you want to concoct an elaborate backstory where Li’s EXPENDABLES character is in deep cover as a single dad with an autistic son.

    THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE probably doesn’t need to be too high on your list of must-sees. There’s good stuff, but like Li’s other recent film, THE FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE, the script is a mess. Better visuals in SORCERER, though the excessive CGI gets tiresome.

  19. Coincidentally, I just came across OCEAN HEAVEN at the library the other day. I’m glad you guys prepared me for it because otherwise I don’t know if I would have had the mental reserves to retain my hold on reality if I’d seen the cover pic of beatifically smiling Jet in a turtle costume out of context.

  20. Wow , I didn’t know . I quite enjoyed War Zone , but it only made 10 millions worldwide ! That’s a shame , and DREDD isn’t doing better , either . I know that Marvel is going in another , less r-rated , more galactic and larger scale direction with comic book movies , but I think that some of their characters , and I’m talking about well known mainstream characters like Deadpool , are better suited for r-rated , bloody material . Think about it : Deadpool is a talkative psycho , and if you strip it of the violence , you just end up Spider-man with guns . Wolverine is very violent , and Blade is not only violent , but also the very first cinema hit for a Marvel character . A new Wolverine is coming up , there’s talk about rebooting Blade and a Deadpool movie is (was?) in the work , so , adding to the options above , maybe they can hire Punisher Jane for a supporting role in these movies . Now , for the TV series , I can see that happen , the SHIELD tv show is a good opprtunity to showcase lesser known characters like Frank Castle and Moon Knight , they’re ok for this when you think about the tv budget : no superpowers , less special effects . Still , I liked that promo , and I like that Thomas Jane is so passionate about it , he did the same with Jonah Hex , but that was only a photo . I still have to see the Real Jonah Hex movie….but I’m not in any hurry.

  21. No, they went with Ant-Man instead, since apparently the market studies showed that people are more interested in seeing human ants than realistically flawed human beings.

  22. Why couldn´t the feature film starring Jane be as good as that short?

  23. Just got back from it. I ended up paying for it twice, as I overslept today and missed the original screening I had booked for. But I’d say it was reasonably worth the money. Lots of quotable dialogue, some solid action and interesting characters, and the return of gratuitous nudity in modern action movies. The minor avid fartiness was a slight annoyance though. Like when the screen flashes as Momoa is leaving that bar, I thought at first it was signifying the following scene was a flashback.

    “No, they went with Ant-Man instead, since apparently the market studies showed that people are more interested in seeing human ants than realistically flawed human beings.”
    Well, he’s not actually an “Ant-Man” the same way Peter Parker’s a “Spider-Man”. He’s a scientist who discovers/invents shrinking particles and bases his Superhero Identity around being Ant-Sized (though I think he also develops tech to control ants as well). Ant-Man has flaws that could be explored, though
    1. He has a persistent inferiority complex about his worth as a scientist and a hero, due to the perceived silliness of his whole gimmick and powers. You could easily have his accomplishments being overshadowed by the “cool” tech genius, Tony Stark, and it driving him to do reckless things in an attempt to prove himself.
    2. He created an android, Ultron, that was based on his own brain patterns. It gains sentience and becomes one of the Avengers’ most recurring villains. This could easily tie into 1. and be the basis for future Avengers movies.
    3. He once hit his wife The Wasp while he was in the midst of a mental breakdown. It happened once, but it became probably the thing the character is most known for. The “Ultimates” reimagining of it took it up to eleven.

    I’d say 1 and 2 have a good chance of happening in some form, while 3, not so much, given how Marvel didn’t even really do the “Demon In A Bottle” alcoholism storyline that much with the Iron Man movies. At most, maybe he’d hit her whilst under mind control or something, as a weak substitute.

    But enough nerd shit, back to talking about this BTTH, a movie based on a graphic novel…oops. You know, I thought that was kind of a generic title when I first heard about it, but actually, it’s describing the most dominant motif of the movie. I’d say at least 70% of the deaths are from bullets to the head, and on top, Sly even says the title at some point.

  24. I’m not really sure what the big deal about “Dirty Laundry” is. It just seems to be applying Jane’s Punisher to the WAR ZONE approach of CGI-aided sadism. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jane and I like WAR ZONE but I don’t really see why everyone is like, “See? This is the way it should be done!” It’s not appreciably different from what we’ve seen thus far.

    Also, I’m really glad he decided to jump in only after the hooker had been beaten and possibly raped and a small child was nearly stabbed to death. Hope the clean laundry was worth it.

  25. Well, he is at least not spending those 15 minutes ( or whatever) scheming. He gets right down to the punishing. That I like. I don´t understand why this is more sadistic than anything in the 2004 movie, where he drags a guy on fire behind a car like forever.

  26. I sincerely want to continue this Punisher conversation, but let’s do it on one of the Punisher reviews. BULLET TO THE HEAD does not deserve this indignity of turning into yet another comic book discussion. Unless somebody has read the comic book that it’s based on.

  27. We don´t discuss any comick books,just the movies. But point taken.

  28. Going to see this tonight. Can’t wait to see Rambo fight Conan. (Admittedly, not the Conan I wanted to see him fight, but still…)

  29. Won’t be able to see this one for a while, but can I just say how cool it is to have Walter Hill back. Never thought he’d direct again.

    I really love his Westerns, and have watched Broken Trail so many times now. Thomas Hayden Church is such a badass in that. Wish we could go back to the era where we have actors regularly playing cowboys in Westerns. I think guys like Church, Billy Bob Thornton and Josh Brolin could really nail that. Just don’t know if we have any good, dedicated directors today who could repeatedly make decent Westerns the way Ford, Hawks, Leone or Peckinpah did. So many filmmakers these days don’t really stick to a genre anymore.

  30. Saw this, and I’ll join the Thumbs up Chorus.

    The irony of BULLET TO THE HEAD being based off a graphic novel is that some years back Stallone blamed comic book movies for killing the R-rated action movie.

  31. Thinking about this movie some more, I liked how low key a lot of things were played. The big cliche in 80s cross-cultural buddy movies (think Red Heat or Black Rain) was the ending scene where the two guys realize how much they’ve learned from each other and manfully shake hands or whatever. This movie sets you up to think that’s coming, but in the end Sly and Kwon are as cold with each other as they were at the start.

    Or when Sly is explaining why he didn’t kill the hooker in the shower, again you could’ve expected a more histrionic scene where his partner freaks out and Sly bellows I DONT KILL WOMEN or whatever, but these guys are jaded pros and he just says “I let her live, she won’t talk” and Jon Seda goes “well… alright.” I dug that. I just wish the movie’s story could do better justice to these character moments.

    One more little touch I was really into was Keegan’s little pre-fight speech about the firefighters who saved the factory, and how its demolition will make it like their sacrifice never happened. It’s a great observation, wryly delivered, and a nice way to preface these two hardasses doing battle. As a guy who hates seeing my city’s history being paved over for identikit malls and condominiums, it resonated with me more than I expected.

  32. I liked this a lot. About on par with The Last Stand. A simple story, nicely told with plenty of ass-kicking and one-liners. I think it’s cool that Walter Hill has now made a movie with Sly, Arnold (Red Heat), and Bruce (Last Man Standing), a badass hat trick.

  33. You know here is an unpopular opinion: I’m glad Sung Kang replaced Thomas Jane.

    I like Kang, but he also helps the movie by in that if Jane had done this part as it was written, we would be bitching that Jane is wasted blah blah blah. But with Kang, he makes it work without demanding more (pointless) scenes. Which isn’t an insult to him, but he works as a partner and honestly I like whenever Hollywood casts Asian-American actors in considerable roles like this not involving the fucking Triads or Yakuza or martial arts shit. C’mon guys, support progress.

    Yes I do think he made the movie better.

  34. RRA— I agree completely. Nothing against Jane, but he strikes me as being similar enough to Stallone (physique, demeanor) that putting him in the movie as Sly’s partner wouldv’e just been a case of more of the same. With Kang, it makes their relationship more interesting by sheer dint of contrast, and yes, that *does* make for a better movie.

    Dikembe— Good points, all of them. You’re correct; it felt more genuine for Stallone and Kang to part company the same way they met— as adversaries. With that in mind, it makes me think that those two occasions when Sly saves him from those rogue local cops wasn’t an act of comradeship— he just needed Kang alive to help him fulfill his own agenda.

  35. I’m new to this site, but i am nearly finished with Seagalogy: The Badass Cinema, whatever. Great god damn book. It’s taken quite a few sessions on my porcelain throne to get this far, but it’s been worth it. I don’t know what i’m going to do for shitter reading when i finish your book. I’ve recommended it to many people, but it’s tough to convince people to read a long book about that dude. I try to tell them, “You don’t even have to know anything Seagal to enjoy this book.” I’m buying one, new, on Amazon to send to a friend of mine who will be in the Arizona state prison system for another year. (i can’t personally send him a copy. gotta go through Amazon or whatever)

    The strange thing is that i always hated Seagal. I’d always thought he was a complete douche. But one night i woke up in the middle of the night and a Seagal movie was playing, the one where he’s the environmentalist and it’s native americans and all that shit. Suddenly i had an inspiration to start checking out some Steven, just for laughs. A week later i saw a copy of your book, and bought it.

    As for this review, damn good. I’ll check this movie out on DVD.

  36. As someone who has read the comic, it’s a mixed bag as far as what was improved and what wasn’t.

    I’ll be spoiling the comic, fyi, but it’s not exactly a plotty story, even if it differs from the film.

    First off, three of the six issues (maybe a little more) find Stallone and his hitman partner together, so he doesn’t get offed until halfway through. The banter between them is funnier — you also get the vibe that they’re both around their forties, so obviously Stallone and company aged him up considerably.

    The cop that eventually teams with Stallone’s character is a white dude, and Comic Jimmy Bobo eventually gets this guy to turn to the dark side a bit. There’s less antagonism, as this guy starts to subscribe to Bobo’s worldview, so by the end they’re now in business together as a new hitman team.

    While I liked this change in the movie (they should remain antagonists) I think this was more like the Stallone Show. I would have liked to see Sung Kang do more. It’s not really a buddy picture, because he’s pretty emasculated at every turn — he doesn’t even score with Bobo’s daughter (ay-yi-yi!). If they made this movie twenty years ago, it would be exactly the same, except maybe Rick Moranis would have played the cop.

    In the comic, the character that stands in for Bobo’s daughter is a sexy reporter, and there’s some light flirtation. Also, the basic story is completely different — the opening murder involves a politician in bed with an underage girl, and Bobo and his partner kill both of them, then have to cover their tracks (and fail) when the whole thing ends up being part of some conspiracy which has nothing to do with real estate. There is no axe fight.

  37. Thanks Otto, that is high praise. I appreciate it.

  38. Apparently Sly “slammed” Seagal into a wall.

    “The ‘Bullet to the Head’ actor was involved in an altercation with his fellow action star after he said he didn’t want to be associated with him and his set of macho action film actors.

    He said: ”Steven Seagal said that he, ‘Didn’t associate with that kind of element’ – meaning me. So I slammed him up against a wall.

    ”At that time, our testosterone was running full bore. He was full of his height [Steven is 6ft 3in, Sylvester is 5ft 10in] and I was full of … Myself. But we made up. He can be very abstract.”

  39. Thought this shit was pretty weak!

    The action is full of blurry closeups and quick cuts and Stallone & Kang are fucking awful together. A lot of the crap could have been forgiven if those two had even a little chemistry. Their relationship is a bunch of awkward glances while sitting in a car. It’s like they pulled a nervous fan off the streets and told him to sit next to Stallone.

    Momoa’s pretty good, though. Clearly he should have been the sidekick, but I guess he’s way too big and tall to stand next to Sly for an entire movie.

  40. So BTTH has tanked, too.

    Things ain’t looking good for R-rated action flicks at the moment, are they?

  41. I think the problem might be the american audiences ( no offense), I think both THE LAST STAND and BULLET TO THE HEAD will perform alot better overseas.

  42. No offense taken, Shoot, because you’re dead right. Movies aimed at male audiences suffer because American men are too fucking fat and lazy to get off the couch. Honestly, I don’t think the world has ever seen a more monstrously incurious group of people. They simply can’t be bothered to explore anything that isn’t waved directly in front of their faces like a fucking cat toy.

    Full disclosure: I have not seen this yet. But I did see THE EXPENDABLES 2. Perhaps these two items are related.

  43. It also might not have been such a great idea to release the movie Super Bowl Weekend. I’m no marketing wizard, though.

  44. I think the death of the male movie going audience is probably related to the rise of video games. I have nothing against video games, and I’ve played them on occasion, but they definitely keep young men in their living rooms and out of the movie theaters. I don’t necessarily think this is “the problem with men,” but it does affect the bottom line of the kinds of action movies I tend to enjoy.

  45. “Things ain’t looking good for R-rated action flicks at the moment, are they?”


    To be precise, things aren’t looking good for R-rated action movies that look like generic straight-to-DVD flicks.

    Django Unchained did great. Die Hard 5 will do very well. Gangster Squad has done quite well. All are R. There is nothing to worry about.

  46. I don’t think it’s just about getting off the couch. If I look at my mates, my kids and myself I see that my mates are too into sports to really feel the need to go see action movies in the cinema (they’ll watch it on dvd in a few months is always the answer). My kids (over 18, so they’re sort of grown up men) are gamers and doesn’t really care about movies. And me? Well, I’m sorry to say that I just can’t afford it anymore.

  47. tuuka, didn’t Gangster Squad flop? It’s only at $43M on a 60M budget, and the studio gets a percentage of that.

    “Things ain’t looking good for R-rated action flicks at the moment, are they?”


    To be precise, things aren’t looking good for R-rated action movies that look like generic straight-to-DVD flicks.

    What worries me is that studios won’t make that distinction, so we’ll see even fewer R movies. Not that the rating means everything (fuck the haters, Jack Reacher was good), but I don’t want film-makers to have to consciously water down decisions to satisfy a studio every time. PG-13 300 – who would’ve wanted to see that?

  48. Gangster Squad is ending up with 50+ million domestically, which fits the “quite well” criteria. It wasn’t exactly a hit, but it will make a nice profit with overseas market, DVD, Blueray, etc.

    Last year, also Safe House, Expendables 2, Act Of Valor, Contraband, Looper, Underworld Awakening and They Grey were all successful. On the other hand, many PG-13 action movies flopped or disappointed in relation to budget: Total Recall, John Carter, Battleship, Red Dawn, Abraham Lincoln.

    So you could take the lesson either way.

  49. Wayne Kramer wasn’t fired from BTTH. He walked off the film after Stallone butchered the script and wouldn’t kiss Stallone’s ass and tell him his changes were awesome. Stallone also got in Kramer’s face in the most disparaging way and accused him of trying to make the film too hardcore violent. Kramer suggested a shot of a woman exposing her breasts for beads during a mardi-gras parade/shootout and Stallone flipped out yelling he doesn’t do sleaze in his films. Well, the guy is a cheesy hypocrite because Hill came in and made the film every bit as violent as Kramer proposed and added more nudity than Kramer suggested. The film will make ten cents at the box office this week because a) the script sucks big time and b) the film has no visual style. It feels like a half-hearted effort on Hill’s part. Hill was the man in the 80s and 90s, but his laconic way of directing isn’t a good fit for 2013. I love Hill’s movies, but have to agree that a bunch of them have not aged well (Warriors?). The Wayne Kramer/Thomas Jane version would have been a better film.

  50. Justin, where did you hear this? Sounds like a classic case of Hollywood types agreeing to do a movie with people they’re not really familiar with. I guess Stallone had never seen RUNNING SCARED and I guess Kramer never heard about Sly rewriting everything and being THE BOSS on set. Hill’s a legend, but I think BULLET is on of his worst movies. The action doesn’t work, the buddy relationship doesn’t work, the evil land developer story is an exposition afterthought and the whole thing has a really bland/cheap digital look.

  51. Box office is driven by young men, period. Young men have the time to go see movies opening weekend. Grown ups and women have jobs and families and things that keep them busy. It took me two weeks to see THE LAST STAND and it’s my job to watch movies!

    So if young men don’t want to see the old guys kicking ass anymore, they’ll have to go straight to video where they can patiently wait for people to rent or VOD their movie. I’d say it’s a shame, but the movies aren’t that great to deserve the theatrical chance. I mean I got a kick seeing Stallone beat the shit out of people in a theater with over cranked sound effects, but I can’t begrudge people choosing the clever teen zombie movie instead.

    The ’80s aren’t coming back. I think Stallone is smart enough to adjust. He brought back Rocky and Rambo and then came up with The EXPENDABLES. THis was just a one off.

  52. I have a friend who was in the middle of that ‘skirmish.’ Stallone had seen Running Scared and was a big fan of it (as well as The Cooler). He actually inquired about Kramer to direct Rambo. Stallone was into Kramer’s style and doing a more energetic action film at first, but then someone suggested to Stallone that Kramer’s rewrite of the script was too violent and Stallone got nervous. He started hacking away at the script and adding cheesy dialogue. The sad thing is that Stallone working with someone like Kramer and really allowing himself to be directed in a modern way, with super stylish camera blocking and good energy would have been awesome. But Stallone does not have it in himself to give up control. Apparently, he didn’t make Walter Hill’s life easier either. I think Stallone needs to keep directing himself because he doesn’t respect directors and feels he can always do it better. The last time he put himself in another filmmaker’s hands was Copland, but he couldn’t throw his weight around with DeNiro, Keitel and Liotta on the set.

  53. nice info Justin. I always like hearing behind the scenes stuff like that. It bolsters my perception of Sly that his biggest enemy creatively is himself, especially his insecurity about playing unsympathetic characters.

  54. ” I love Hill’s movies, but have to agree that a bunch of them have not aged well (Warriors?)”

    What nonsense. Its dated, like every other movie.

  55. Yeah, I just love the diversity of races in the Warriors’ gang. Like that would ever happen. Maybe it played in the 70s, but it’s complete bullshit – especially for a gang out of Coney Island.

  56. Warriors is meant to be crazy and surreal. That’s such a weird detail to fixate on.

  57. Justin – You have a problem with gang racial diversity, but not the baseball team gang?

    Really? Really? (wait who am I, The Miz?)

    I’m shocked you don’t bitch at the whole Cyrus pitch of a united NYC gang army.

    Its a comic book movie, before that term even existed. Its a fantasy, its not “real” but just set in a real world (1979 NYC), and I find it forever entertaining and digestable because its a timeless, universalist story of a platoon trapped behind enemy lines having to fight their home. Then I love two scenes that show ambition and really put that epic night of hell for that group into context:

    (1) they get back home and Michael Beck says “This is what we fought to get back to?”
    (2) That scene with the prom couple in the subway train. I mean a real division between the underworld of urban poverty and the “normal” world of daylight.

    Or put it another way, if we can have a baseball team gang, we can have racially diversed gangs too because why not? Seriously why not?

    Dikembe – More and more I shit on the “dated” criticism for any movie. Because guess what? All movies are dated, and that’s part of the charm. I mean STAR WARS, look at the hairstyles. Different hair if that had been produced a decade earlier or later. Not a criticism, just an observation.

    I drive up the walls when I hear the dated pissing on music as well. In the end, what do you viscerally, intellectually gather from all this art and use/consume for yourself today?

  58. THE WARRIORS is dated? To me that shit has aged like fine wine. Except for that director’s cut with all those comic book transitions. That’s too much. Between this and that Punisher short it seems like the racial make-up of cartoonish street gangs is the one critical element that shatters peoples’ suspension of disbelief and not, you-know, three-foot geysers of blood or Baseball Furies.

  59. RRA – I’m with you man. I think of “dated” movies as time capsules – a look at worlds that no longer exist (like NYC in 1979, which might as well be Middle Earth for as accessible as it is to us today), along with the attitudes and trends of the time. That’s why I like old shit. I can get the new shit anywhere I turn, it’s nothing special.

  60. Older movies are actually in a way more interesting than new, because you have the perspective to see the context of which they were made in.

  61. I agree, Shoot. I wouldn’t say that I don’t enjoy new movies once in a while, but give me something made in the 1960s or 1970’s and more often than not I’ll like it better than anything made today. Of course they made shitty movies back then too, but as a rule genre movies from that era hold up because they play on emotions and themes that somehow got cut out in the middle of the 80’s and only exist on HBO these days.

  62. All hail the talismanic power of the mid/late 80’s action hero coiffure:

    Yes, we may mock the almighty mullet in the 21st Century… but it was its own king’s crown back in the day.

  63. mullets live on in the video game world though

  64. Man, a Metal Gear movie starring 1980s Kurt Russell would have been golden. They could still cast Russell, but it would have to be a remake of one of the installments I never played that take place in the future.

  65. Snake?



  66. That drawing of Snake is like 16-17 years old.

  67. Dikembe Mutombo – I can thank Roger Ebert for teaching me that, he made that point in one of his Greatest Movies essays. Might’ve been YELLOW SUBMARINE. And in that one, it is dated in that it is a movie that only could’ve been produced in the 1960s as innocently drug-inspired as it was. Yet as a cartoon movie, I admire that movie’s not selling itself short just to children like Disney can at times, but be full of wit and adult-level punnery (“Me got hole in my pocket!”) and of course, pot-friendly imagery to go with those Beatles tracks. I quite loved it.

    In a way it reminded of RANGO, a movie that kids can enjoy but adults would probably get/appreciate it much more.

    CrustaceanHate – yeah that director’s cut made the movie worse and more….trivial in my book. I mean shit its very obvious its a CBM the way it was originally released, you don’t need panels and all that. I mean its a fully organic fantasy universe with its own history and terminology and rules that really I wish we could’ve seen more of.

    RE: Suspension of belief – Don’t forget about the roller skating subway gang too. (How do they walk stairs? Might as well call themselves the Dalek gang.)

    And as for the racially diversed gangs….people do realize there are (from what we see in the movie) pure ethnic gangs, right? The Griffs are all black, the Rogues are all white.

  68. Just saw A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. It’s better than DIE HARD 2 & LIVE FREE in my opinion. There’s some really nice shot stunt scenes (Especially where McClaine and Jack jump out of a hotel building).

    It’s also has a nice coda shot and ending. A nice way to end the series (if they want to). Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn’t just a cameo here. She has 2 scenes with Bruce along with a phone conversation.

  69. Shoot McKay – that image of Snake is from Metal Gear Solid 2, so no, it’s not that old, Snake proudly rocks the mullet well into the 2000’s both in reality and in the settings of the games themselves

  70. I still haven’t ever seen THE WARRIORS because I got scared off by the director’s cut. Can anyone tell me where I can see the original version? Does NetFlix have the director’s cut or the original one?

  71. I don’t know about the DVD, but I just skimmed the streaming version and didn’t see any comic book transitions, which makes it the original cut.

  72. I hate to contribute to the derailment but yes, there is a theatrical cut of The Warriors on DVD, but the most recent releases and in HD (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) are the Director’s Cut. There also have been some reports of color tinkering in that version though not as bad as on The French Connection. I don’t think the changes markedly change the film but you can always revel in the minutiae here: http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=4270

  73. I guess Marvel saw BULLET TO THE HEAD too. Jason Momoa has just been cast asis in negotiations to play Drax the Destroyer in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.


  74. This got released a bit later over here so I only just came back from seeing this. Definitely the best out of all the Big Three’s releases, so I’m glad I got over my childish desire to boycot the film because of what they did to Jane. To be honest, having seen the film, the role he would have played is not something he could’ve done better than Sung Kang, it’s just not a flashy role or even that bad-ass. It’s all about Stallone.

    Anyways, the things I loved are all things I agree on with Vern. Sly actually doing some acting and being 100 times funnier than he was in both Expendables by not trying so goddamn hard to BE funny. Momoa being a badass villain (loved that he turned out to be the last bad guy standing, the one to beat in order to survive). And of course, sexy tattoo chicks. Oh wait. I’m not allowed to say that anymore…

    Great film, very old school. Exactly the type of stuff I haven’t seen in a while and crave more of! Sly should just fucking skip The Expendables 3 (more humor? young blood? a tech wizz, a nerdy superbrain and a tough chick? DEAR GOD NO) and make a sequel to this.

  75. It´s a really good lowbrow 90-minute b- movie and it´s unfortunate that people refused to go see this kind of movie in the cinema whenever every two weeks there is another shooting in America. It does not help action movies like the ones we like to see.

    Anyway, I did not find that Sly and Kang had the same kind of chemistry as Murphy/Nolte had in 48 HOURS, but it makes up with the kind of grit and hard edge that is a hallmark of every great Walter Hill tough guy movie. I will definitely rewatch it soon to see if I can find more things to like about it.

  76. This one was a mixed bag. The plot is garbage, the clues blatantly breadcrumbed, with new MacGuffins tossed out every five minutes to keep the wheels turning. And Kang was wasted. Outside of a few funny lines, he didn’t have much chemistry with Stallone, and he was too weak of a character to provide Sly with an actual battle of wills. It wasn’t a conflict between equals, just a young whippersnapper getting proved wrong again and again by a crusty old-timer. The script treated him like an impediment, not an ally. In Hill’s prototypical buddy movie, 48 HRS, both mismatched partners brought something crucial to the table that made the pair stronger than either would be alone. I never really believed that Bobo needed Kang at all. Kang was basically just Detective Google. They needed information, he looked it up. If Jimmy Bobo knew how to work a computer, he wouldn’t need a partner at all.

    That said, Bobo is Stallone’s best new character since COPLAND. A really solid, understated performance that let him use the blue-collar appeal that made him a star in the first place. Momoa was great, as well, and the hand-to-hand fights were muscular and exciting. The positives outweigh the negatives, but just barely.

  77. “Bobo is Stallone’s best new character since COPLAND.” Not really saying much there, am I? What’s he up against? Barney Goddamn Ross? Avenging Fucking Angelo? I’ll amend that statement to say that Jimmy Bobo is Stallone’s best new action hero since Ray Tango.

  78. Mr. Majestyk – “Bobo is Stallone’s best new action hero since Ray Tango.”

    John Spartan says: “no chance!”

  79. I was thinking of including John Spartan. It was a tough call. I love DEMOLITION MAN but Spartan wasn’t really much of a character. By design, he was Standard Action Hero Guy, more of a caricature than a person. Sly could play that in his sleep. Ray Tango was something new for Stallone: a prissy, intellectual badass. As a performance, it showed a little more range. But I see where you’re coming from. I’d probably rather watch more John Spartan adventures than more Ray Tango adventures, Cash or no Cash.

  80. I’ve finally seen BULLET TO THE HEAD (or SHOOTOUT as it is called in Germany) and generally liked it for all the reasons that are already mentioned. Stallone and Momoa are really great.

    But if my TV still works and they didn’t mess up the Blu-ray then I’m surprised how much this movie lookes like a cheap action movie or tv show from the late 80s or early 90s.

    Flat lighting, flat compositions, basic framing, not as visual exciting or color graded as you would expect from any modern movie with a decent budget. Or even no budget films with modern cameras and some ambition in the camera or lighting department.

    I wonder if there were some discussions when they watched the dailies. Or if they choosed this look for a reason.

  81. Who’s seen ESCAPE PLAN?

    I kinda liked it. Not as many memorable unique touches as in BULLET TO THE HEAD or THE LAST STAND, but it’s functional enough of what the ads promised: A jailbreak movie starring Rambo and Conan. Very complimentary supporting cast for this formula’s archetypes: The evil prison warden, the sadist prison guard, the sympathetic doctor/ear to the prisoner hero, etc. Oh and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as a hacker.

    But really I suppose the glue to the movie for me was Arnold, playing pretty much the comic relief.

    (However I could’ve done without the plot twist in the epilogue. Nevermind not making any sense at all, its a twist for the sake of a twist from the Orci/Kurtzman school. Bleh.)

  82. Man, was this a disappointing movie, the very definition of “meh”. No chemistry between the leads, a tired plot (can we please have a moratorium on the “USB stick holding everyone’s financial information” macguffin?), and the whole thing looks and feels cheap like a latter-era DTV Seagal film, complete with Avid Farts. (IMDB said the budget was $55 million?? HOW?) Some of the action scenes are pretty well-done, but during the final axe fight I suddenly remembered how Streets of Fire also ended with two guys having a similar fight (with sledgehammers) and I realized HOLY SHIT THEY WERE DIRECTED BY THE SAME GUY. Then I got sad because Walter Hill, living legend, may have officially entered latter-day John Carpenter territory with this one.

    The only thing I can recommend is that Jason Momoa is pretty awesome as the villain. He’s not just an imposing physical presence, the dude can actually deliver a line really well. Oh, and *SPOILER* I like that there’s truth in advertising as LITERALLY every bad guy takes a bullet to the head.

    On a side-note, I hope Vern checks out Grudge Match, which is easily the best of his 2013 films. It bombed hard at the box office, but it’s well-written and funny and has a lot of heart, and Stallone creates another likable character. It’s too bad him and Arnold have a certain stigma to them now, because they’re still capable of doing great work every once in a while.

  83. The high-budget cost/low-budget look is part of the charm of this film for me. Consider that a good portion of that budget probly went to Stallone’s salary, leaving the rest for Hill to use on production costs. A lot of Hill’s films have built-in sets and seem stagey (think THE WARRIORS, STREETS OF FIRE, LAST MAN STANDING, JOHNNY HANDSOME, WILD BILL, TRESPASS). In light of that, the Hill/Carpenter comparison would be appropriate since Carpenter is stagey too, but BULLET is nowhere near a low point for Hill as Carpenters low points GHOSTS OF MARS and THE WARD.

    I though BULLET was a good badass throwback to Stallone’s COBRA and SPECIALIST, and even to Hill’s own mismatched partner tropes RED HEAT, 48 HRS.

  84. Can someone please explicate to my ignorant arse, what exactly is a cinematical Avid Fart? I should know by now since I been reading here for a bit, I frequently hear AF’s mentioned, but I’ve never come across an explanation or an example. I’m thinking it’s one of those editing tricks in an action film where, instead of transitioning to another scene with just a normal cut, they kinda have to make a big deal about it by lighting it up after a gun blast, jumping into the next scene with a bang sort of thing….I honestly don’t know…would appreciate any help.

  85. It’s an editing style characterized by pointless showoffery, such as white flashes, skipped or repeated frames, whooshing sounds, sped-up footage, sudden switches to black and white, digital zooms and whip pans, and basic jiggery pokery. It gets its name from the editing software that made such scourges of modern action editing easily accessible for the inexperienced editor trying to jazz up his work without having to cut up thousands of little slivers of film. It was once a way to show how hip and current a film was, but it is now embarrassingly dated and betrays a creative team with no faith in its material.

  86. Cheers Majestyk. I’m thinking post Tarantino wannabe’s started doing this in the late 90’s, Guy Ritchie, Liman et al.

  87. The Original Paul

    July 12th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Darren – watch Seagal’s “Kill Switch”.

    (Actually, what the heck am I thinking? DON’T watch “Kill Switch”. It will rot your brain.)

    Those times that they keep showing Seagal punching the guy again, and again, and again, and it’s all the same punch? That’s an avid fart.

    Personally I regard it as less the staple of Tarantino wannabes – especially not Ritchie, who’s directing is usually fairly tight and self-contained I think, and more the staple of DTV moviemakers of the sort who produced some of Seagal’s worst DTV pictures. “Submerged” and “Mercenary for Justice” are both films I can remember having a lot of this crap in it. I think at one point in “Mercenary” there’s a “scene” – I define that word as loosely as possible – where they take four or five shots to show somebody walking up to a door.

  88. I would say that the granddaddy of the Avid Fart was NATURAL BORN KILLERS. It wasn’t really the same technique but it made it fashionable for editing to draw attention to itself instead of seamlessly blending into the storytelling. I think that style was warranted by the subject matter in NBK but it gave a lot of wannabes a lot of bad ideas.

  89. Haven’t seen KILL SWITCH yet Paul, I hear it’s terrible but that probly won’t stop me checking it out.

    Majestyk, yeah NBK’s a good example where the movie benefited from flashy editing. And speaking of the Avid Fartism of Oliver Stone, I would say his U TURN is an example of using AF’s to show off. For a noir parable like that it only detracts from the story as opposed to playing it straight, like RED ROCK WEST. But I still like U TURN for what it is. It plays well as an absurd, over-acted, over-edited noir black comedy.

  90. I think you’re confusing Natural Born Killers with Godard’s Weekend.

    Editing has always made itself known. Back to Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and his revolutionary idea of creating conflict within the frames. A certain period of classical Hollywood filmmaking focused on invisible editing, but that is hardly true for the whole of cinema.

    Also, fun fact about the ‘avid fart’ – there is literally a plugin for FCP and Avid that makes those automatically. So, it’s often even lazier than you’re thinking.

  91. In case anyone’s wondering: Road to Paloma, Jason Momoa’s directorial debut, is pretty good. It’s definitely a slow-burner – a post-revenge (literally, it takes place right after the revenge) drama that has more in common with Malick than Peckinpah or Walter Hill. I have no idea why this is on the WWE label but it’s up there with That’s What I Am and Dead Man Down as their best.

    Momoa brings alot of that easygoing charm and loose charisma that managed to sneak it’s way into BTTH. I like how his mannerisms and line delivery seem like an everyman, even though he most definitely does not look like an everyman. (It also reunites him with BTTH’s Sarah Shahi, this time playing his sister). Cameos from Lisa Bonet, Wes Studi and Lance Henriksen are also welcome. It’s not a perfect movie but Momoa shows he’s got some skill behind the camera, can’t wait for his next one.

  92. Solid gold recommendation right there, neal2zod. Just saw ROAD TO PALOMA on bluray, probly the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. The post revenge premise allows Momosa to demonstrate a lot of heart and soul in his character, as well as in his fellow actors. I liked his road buddy Cash – ” You know you have a snoring problem?”

    I’d agree with your Malick comparison, and the natural environments add pathos to the story. In some ways it was like a badass THE STRAIGHT STORY, though Richard Farnsworth never got off his John Deere like Momosa gets off his bike to go to an illegal backyard fight.

    Intense third act. The Ed Harris lookalike federal agent was a real convincing prick. I also like the nobility of Momosas reasoning for revenge, the spirit of his tribal heritage and pride. The ending kicked me in the balls.

  93. I think a very early predecessor to the Avid Fart are the transitions in Easy Rider!

    As for the history of Avid Farts…I used to think they were cool, kind of playing off the drop frames thing in movies like Saving Private Ryan. Then they got too common, and started to feel like TV bumpers (you know…Stay Tuned For More of AMC’s The Walking Dead!”) Basically, if they are in DTV Segal flick they don’t bother me too much, kind of part of the ridiculous charm. I do think they are out of place in a theatrical movie like this one though.

    All in all, as for BULLET TO THE HEAD I’m more in the “meh” crowd than the loved it crowd, but it was entertaining enough.

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