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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Hell Hath No Fury

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

You may know Jesse V. Johnson as the director of such Scott Adkins films as SAVAGE DOG, ACCIDENT MAN, THE DEBT COLLECTOR, TRIPLE THREAT, AVENGEMENT and DEBT COLLECTORS. If not, you ought to. Johnson has become well regarded in our circles for his always good, often great movies with Adkins, but it’s not like he’s helpless without him. The latest and best evidence of that is HELL HATH NO FURY, a scorching little WWII thriller released this week on VOD. It’s not a high flying action movie like he’d do with Adkins, but don’t worry, it’s not trying to do SAVING PRIVATE RYAN at bargain prices either. Within a pretty simple standoff scenario, in a contained location and time frame, it finds great tension, some nasty violence and more substance than I ever would’ve expected.

It stars Nina Bergman (ASSASSIN X, THE BEAUTIFUL ONES) as Marie Dujardin, a French woman of uncertain character. We first meet her in the back of a car with SS officer Von Bruckner (Daniel Bernhardt, ATOMIC BLONDE, NOBODY, SKYLIN3S), seeming to enjoy herself before the car is ambushed by French resistance fighters. Three years later, as the Nazis are leaving town, a mob of locals brand Marie a collaborator, shave her head and plan who knows what for her before some American GIs rescue her. (read the rest of this shit…)

One Shot

Monday, November 8th, 2021

ONE SHOT is the new Scott Adkins joint, and the most heavily hyped and anticipated movie of the moment for those who stay plugged in to “Action Twitter.” I’m sure Adkins would prefer to work in a little higher budget range, but I think having a dedicated and growing following as he continues to make movies like this is a much better outcome than if he had been cast as Iron Fist or some big movie character like we all used to say he should. Instead of a super hero he’s an institution.

This one is not from Jesse V. Johnson or Isaac Florentine, but rising #3 most prolific Adkins director James Nunn (GREEN STREET 3, ELIMINATORS). And as you might guess from the title, yes, it is a movie like ROPE or RUNNING TIME designed to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot. I know there are some who don’t like that approach, so I will say in its defense that it doesn’t come across as flashy or show-offy at all (not that I would see that as a bad thing, personally) and the real time feeling serves to heighten the tension of its siege scenario. And in case you were wondering there is an organic explanation of the title (the protagonists believe they are defending their “one shot” to stop a terrorist attack). (read the rest of this shit…)

Throne of Blood

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

THRONE OF BLOOD (蜘蛛巣城, Kumonosu-jō, “SPIDER WEB CASTLE”) is an Akira Kurosawa movie from 1957, and the only one I’ve seen by him that has supernatural shit in it. It’s partly inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which to be honest I don’t remember that well, because I only read it in school, and Julie Taymor hasn’t made it into a movie yet. But even I picked up on it when the Lady Macbeth-like character couldn’t stop scrubbing her hands, thinking they still had blood on them. That guy died 400 years ago, and he still owns guilty hand-washing scenes. Hats off.

Two generals, Washizu Taketoki (Toshiro Mifune, HELL IN THE PACIFIC) and Miki Yoshiteru (Akira Kubo, GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE), are headed back to their boss Lord Tsuzuki (Hiroshi Tachikawa, FIGHTING ELEGY) at Spider Web Castle after a glorious victory in battle. But, like a horror movie, the woods seem to have changed, and they’ve gotten lost. Then they spot a strange all white ghosty type person (Chieko Naniwa, SANSHO THE BAILIFF) just kinda sitting there in the woods glowing. And when that happens, I mean you basically got a choice of running away or walking up to it and seeing what the deal is. They choose B. (read the rest of this shit…)

Da 5 Bloods

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

DA 5 BLOODS is Spike Lee’s new Vietnam War joint that happened to be produced by Netflix, so when our current global nightmare thwarted theatrical release they didn’t have to delay it, they just put it right onto their service, making it one of Pandemic Summer’s biggest blockbusters in my opinion. For now this is our James Bond and our Top Gun (I won’t say Wonder Woman, because it’s very male oriented).

Like so many of Lee’s movies, it finds interesting ways to visually connect history to the present. Think of DO THE RIGHT THING’s showcasing of the photos and quotes of Dr. King and Malcolm, MALCOLM X’s coda of real people (including a newly freed Nelson Mandela) saying “I am Malcolm X!,” or BLACKKKLANSMAN’s montage with the murder of Heather Heyer, the real David Duke and the president’s other Very Fine People in Charlottesville. Following in that tradition, DA 5 BLOODS opens with historical footage and photos establishing Those Uncertain Times of the Vietnam era.

Muhammad Ali explains his refusal to kill people who haven’t done anything to him on behalf of people who have. To the tune of “Inner City Blues,” we see black soldiers in Vietnam, whitey on “Da Moon,” Black Panthers, Malcolm, Martin, Kwame Ture, Angela Davis. We alternate between brutality in Vietnam and at home: burning monks, the Kent State shootings, the street execution from that famous photo, police clubbing protesters at the DNC, the children burned with napalm. When the war ends and this volley of fast-speed documentary turmoil subsides, the frame stretches and contracts to widescreen, and Saigon dissolves to modern tourism-friendly Ho Chi Minh City, where four of our titular quintet meet up in a hotel lobby, hugging and hand shaking, sipping the first of many fruity umbrella cocktails, in a present that will repeatedly bleed into the past. (read the rest of this shit…)

1917

Monday, January 27th, 2020

I’ve never been a war movie guy. I’m not actively against them like when I was young and rebellious and thought they were propaganda, but I don’t seek them out. Of course there are some great ones, but I wasn’t in the market for Sam Mendes, director of AMERICAN BEAUTY and AMERICAN LONE WOLF AND CUB (and producer of Shrek: The Musical) doing his take on DUNKIRK. So when I saw the trailers for 1917 I wasn’t buying.

That is, not until they started playing little featurettes showing off that Roger Deakins (THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE, JARHEAD, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE ETC. ETC., PRISONERS, BLADE RUNNER 2049) is the cinematographer and he did it all in connected long takes. Okay, that I’ll watch. I’m into shit like that.

I thought it was funny that in the interview Mendes says that when they looked at the script they realized that was the way to tell the story – as if there was some way to have written the script not planning that. What are you, a pro-wrestler, you gotta tell obvious lies to make the story sound better? Be honest with me Mendes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Overlord

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

For me OVERLORD was the definition of a time killer, because I needed to be out of my apartment for fumigation at 10 and at work by 3 and the movie I actually wanted to see wasn’t playing in a time slot that worked for that, but this was. So happy Veteran’s Day, OVERLORD, and thank you for your service in filling that window with okay-though-arguably-making-light-of-the-real-atrocities-of-WWII entertainment.

This is a Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams) production of that old usually-low-budget-horror saw of the soldiers who come across monsters, zombies or demons created or summoned by Nazi mad scientists or occultists. In this case they’re doing a Universal Soldier, trying to turn dead bodies into soldiers. Of course in this case they’re using their own victims. I guess that’s positive that they don’t have enough people who believe in their insidious ideology – they have to manufacture them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hell is for Heroes

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

HELL IS FOR HEROES is a tight little black and white Don Siegel war movie that I watched because of that Village Voice piece I just did about the McQueen/Marvin/Bronson/Brown film series it’s playing in later this week. To tell you the truth I don’t watch too many war movies, and I don’t really have a desire to get more into them, but I liked this one.

It’s about a platoon of American soldiers in Montigny, France, 1944. They’ve been hanging out in this “rest area near the Siegfried Line,” waiting to go home. You got your eccentric goofballs: Corby (Bobby Darin) is a talker and hustler who carries around a bunch of junk and prides himself on being able to get people whatever they need. He’ll tell you all about it. Henshaw (James Coburn, HARD TIMES, DEADFALL, ERASER) is some kind of mechanical genius. He seems to keep his mind occupied by puzzling over how machines work. In the opening he has a car dismantled and Sergeant Pike (Fess Parker, THEM!) asks what was wrong with it. “Oh, I don’t know,” Henshaw says, seeming to have not considered that question. Also there’s Homer (Nick Adams, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD), a young Polish guy who clings on to the soldiers, runs errands for them and dearly wishes to join them in hopes that he can go back to the States with them.

Into this hangout movie is transferred Reese, played by Steve McFuckingQueen. Pike knows him and trusts him as a soldier, but he’s trouble. He walks in with his rucksack and an air of superiority, finds his corner and minds his own business until he sneaks off to get a late night drink even though it’s strictly forbidden. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dunkirk

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Git ‘r dun, kirk! Well dun, kirk. Done ‘n dunk, kirk. What have you dun, kirk!? You know you dun kirked up, don’t you? You know that, right?

DUNKIRK is Mr. Christopher Nolan’s WWII (World War 2) movie, a sweeping epic in visual terms but kind of an intimate story; a historic event depicted through the perspectives of three groups of lightly developed characters. I saw it in Imax, and I’d guess 98% of the movie fills the entire gigantic screen from top to bottom. They cropped it briefly inside a small boat (probly didn’t want gigantic closeups) but otherwise your field of vision is filled with sky, sand, water, helmets, bodies, smoke. And Hans Zimmer’s stress-inducing score frequently mimics a ticking stopwatch as we watch these thousands of British soldiers trapped on a beach in France waiting to see whether they’re gonna be miraculously rescued or bombed to shit.

Nolan gotta be Nolan, so he gave a simple story a uniquely tricky structure. He intercuts between the soldiers on the beach, some citizens in a small boat and a few pilots in the sky, but titles tell us that their stories encompass one week, one day and one hour, respectively. You never feel like you’re skipping around in time, but it’s an illusion, a timeline repeatedly expanding and contracting until it gets to the end. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hacksaw Ridge

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

HACKSAW RIDGE is a twisted, uninhabitable mass of rock with a steep edge and riddled with secret caves, one of which is home to 2×4-carrying WWF legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. But there is no movie about that so until then we’ll have to make do with director Mel Gibson (APOCALYPTO)’s identically titled HACKSAW RIDGE, the best-picture-nominated movie based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), the only WWII Medal of Honor recipient who was a conscientious objector. See, he wanted to do his part to fight Hitler, but he didn’t believe in killing or even touching a gun, so he went as a medic and was really fucking good at saving people’s lives. A reverse AMERICAN SNIPER.

I wonder if he traveled through time if he would kill Baby Hitler, or just try to give first aid to other babies fighting against Baby Hitler? It really makes you think.

The first half or so is before he goes to war. We see him as a little shit, constantly running and climbing and getting in violent scraps with his brother Hal, with no intervention from his drunk asshole dad (Hugo Weaving, BABE), a WWI veteran. Desmond could easily turn into the town bully, but maybe it’s his intense devotion to the family’s Ten Commandments poster that ensures he’s a big dork by the time he grows into Garfield. On one INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE style conveniently fateful day he discovers the two other loves of his life, because he 1) rushes to heroic action in administering a tourniquet and getting an injured person to a hospital where 2) he spots a beautiful nurse (Teresa Palmer, POINT BREAK remake) and decides he will marry her.

But not until his first furlough, because shortly after successfully wooing her he announces that he has to enlist. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jarhead 3: The Siege

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

tn_jarhead3Maybe you didn’t know this, but there are straight-to-video sequels to JARHEAD, the 2005 Sam Mendes war film based on the memoir by Anthony Swofford. They’re not about Swofford, or other real people. They’re just unrelated fictional stories about Marines in the Middle East. Part 2 I’m afraid was too generic for me to finish, but part 3 has Scott Adkins in it and is directed by William Kaufman, whose HIT LIST is a good high concept DTV Cuba Gooding Jr. thriller and even had some unexpected War On Terror commentary, making him an interesting choice for this.

Well, I’m not sure “interesting” is a word I’d use to describe JARHEAD 3, but it’s not bad. Charlie Weber (CRUEL INTENTIONS 3, VAMPIRES SUCK) plays Albright, a pretty new but promising young Marine assigned to defend a U.S. Embassy. Adkins plays his Gunnery Sergeant Raines, who the men think of as a Buddha of the Marines. We only know this because PR department interviewer Blake (Dante Basco, who I know as one of the stars of FUNK BLAST, a movie ride that once existed at Seattle’s EMP, and you know as Rufio from HOOK, and we all know as Pinball from BLOOD AND BONE) says so. I wish there was more in the movie to back it up. (read the rest of this shit…)