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Posts Tagged ‘Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

“Y’know – this is a weird part of town.”

August 23, 1991

SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO is a movie I have long enjoyed (here is a pretty dumb review of it I wrote 13 years ago). It’s a buddy cop movie starring Dolph Lundgren (between COVER UP and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER) and Brandon Lee (between LASER MISSION and RAPID FIRE), so any possible deficiencies are easily overcome by their great charisma and the unrepeatable novelty of their team-up. Watching it in the context of these other ’91 movies it does seem slightly primitive; it’s a Warner Bros. movie, but the budget was $8 million, which is less than DOUBLE IMPACT – or even non-action stuff like DEAD AGAIN, THE COMMITMENTS, BINGO, RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON and LIFE STINKS – let alone the new state-of-the-art represented by POINT BREAK and TERMINATOR 2. Fortunately it’s in the capable exploitation hands of director Mark L. Lester (STEEL ARENA, CLASS OF 1984, FIRESTARTER, COMMANDO, CLASS OF 1999), so it has heavy doses of The Good Shit. He always gives you something extra.

Just as MYSTERY DATE has its two leads getting into trouble with gangs in Chinatown, this is about two guys fighting a Yakuza drug ring in L.A.’s Japanese district. In this case that’s in their job description as members of the LAPD Asian Crime Taskforce. Dolph’s Sergeant Chris Kenner gets the kind of introduction all his characters deserve: he single-handedly raids an illegal fighting circuit by climbing through a skylight, swinging into the ring on a rope and saying, “Haven’t I told you this is illegal, and it pisses me off?” Then he’s announced as the new challenger and has to fight the guys in the ring. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mortal Kombat: Legacy I & II

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

There’s a new MORTAL KOMBAT movie about to enter our realm, and it’s crazy to think they’ve been developing this thing for over a decade! It made me want to journey back to the beginning of that process and revisit what happened when director Kevin Tancharoen tried to reimagine the fighting tournament game turned movie series.

Tancharoen was on the mixing stage at Warner Brothers when he heard talk about hopes to restart the series. He thought there was a way to put a new, gritty spin on it, and wanted to try. One problem: the only movie he’d directed was a glossy musical, the 2009 version of FAME. He was much more established as a choreographer for Britney Spears than as a filmmaker. He knew they weren’t gonna fuckin believe he was the guy to bring back MORTAL KOMBAT unless he showed them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Licence to Kill

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

One summer of ’89 joint that seems older than most of the others is Timothy Dalton 007 movie #2 of 2, LICENCE TO KILL. It’s got a definite ’80s action influence in that James Bond is supposed to turn in his proverbial badge and actual gun (he keeps the gun though) and goes rogue to get revenge on a Colombian drug lord named Sanchez (Robert Davi, CITY HEAT, RAW DEAL, ACTION JACKSON, DIE HARD), who has invented a novel way to smuggle cocaine (mixed with gasoline). And the theme by Gladys Knight and end credits song by Patti Labelle could probly slip onto a BEVERLY HILLS COP soundtrack without causing a scene. It’s also pretty violent, and was seen as a darker interpretation of Bond, which to some was upsetting and to some others was more in keeping with the books by Ian Fleming. But in most ways it’s old timey James Bond shit with elaborate stunt sequences, gadgets that make computery sounds (what good did it do him to disguise the explosives as toothpaste and cigarettes, by the way?) and multiple gorgeous women who throw themselves at Bond for no reason. (read the rest of this shit…)

Showdown in Manila

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

SHOWDOWN IN MANILA is the latest from Alexander Nevsky, the Russian bodybuilder turned b-movie actor who starred in and directed BLACK ROSE. This one is the directing debut of Mark Dacascos and it’s much more fun and ambitious than that last one, largely due to an EXPENDABLES-worthy cast of action icons.

Nevsky plays Nick Peyton, the leader of some sort of elite police strikeforce thing in Manila. In the prologue he leads a police raid and his whole team are wearing those giant helmets like in THE RAID – except for him, even though he’s 1-3 heads taller than all of them. Standing there ready to take it like a lightning rod. He doesn’t get shot in the head, but does get shot and fails to apprehend two ultimate b-action bad guys: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (L.A. TAKEDOWN, KICKBOXER 2, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, MORTAL KOMBAT, BRIDGE OF DRAGONS) and Matthias Hues (NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER 2, I COME IN PEACE, BLACKBELT, MISSION OF JUSTICE, TALONS OF THE EAGLE, TC 2000). C-HT in particular looks like he’s enjoying the hell out of just strutting around in tropical gangster clothes being arrogant.

(read the rest of this shit…)

L.A. Takedown

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

L.A. TAKEDOWN (or MADE IN L.A. as the credits said on the region 2 DVD I watched) is a 1989 TV movie written and directed by Michael Mann, that started as a TV pilot but the series wasn’t picked up.

Actually, I take that back. It started as a 180 page screenplay that he wrote before THIEF, and tried to get Walter Hill to direct, but after a decade of not getting it off the ground he had a chance to do a TV series so he gave up and rewrote it as the pilot. It’s too bad he didn’t keep pushing for it, because it would’ve been interesting to see what the movie version would’ve been like. If it were up to me it would be called HEAT and star Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. But of course there’s already the Burt Reynolds movie called HEAT so that would never happen.

The story begins with a squad of ruthless thieves headed by Patrick McLaren (Alex McArthur, CONSPIRACY THEORY) driving a garbage truck, which they ram into an armored car. It flips and gets pinned against a wall before they attach bombs, yank the guards out and line them up so some of them can threaten them and punch them in the face while the others climb in the car and steal its contents.  But like an idiot, the squirrely rookie Waingro (Xander Berkeley, BARB WIRE) turns Mr. Blonde and shoots one of the guards, forcing them to kill the other ones too. This was supposed to be clean. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vampires

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

tn_vampiresVAMPIRES is a cocky asshole of a horror-western strutting into John Carpenter’s filmography late, not giving a shit, rubbing everybody the wrong way. I’ve always dug it, though, and I think these days it’s more widely appreciated than it used to be.

The premise, taken from the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley, is that a team of vampire hunters funded by the Vatican travels the southwest tracking nests of vampires and exterminating them with professional grade equipment. James Woods (THE GETAWAY) plays the leader of the team, Jack Crow, maybe the only time he gets to be the leather-jacket-wearing asskicker. The Kurt Russell. The guy who struts around and shoots crossbows and punches people and never once wears a suit.

We see how their job works as the team raids a boarded up old house somewhere in the sunny desert, busting in like a SWAT team, sweeping it room by room to find the bloodsuckers, using a spear and pulley system to drag them out into the sunlight where they flare up and explode (all practical fire effects, from the looks of it). Montoya (Daniel Baldwin, KING OF THE ANTS, PAPARAZZI) mans the Jeep and winch, using a hunting knife to pull the charred skulls out of their kills and line them up on the hood as trophies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Cobra

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

tn_blackcobraBLACK COBRA was another one of my blind rentals, and I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise gem, but it’s definitely more interesting than I bargained for. The last thing I rented without knowing anything about it was BILLY BOY, which turned out to be a shitty South African movie about white people, filmed during apartheid, so it’s a cool coincidence that this is a competent (if sorta home made) one with a black South African hero after apartheid. And the first fight scene is against a group of white South Africans trying to treat him like it’s the old days.

T.J. Storm sounds like the name of a fictional action hero that a kid in a movie idolizes, but that’s the handle of the martial arts champ and stuntman who plays Sizwe Biko, a guy who “won a couple of titles” and whose father is a jailed hero of the South African revolution. (Whether or not they’re related to Steven Biko is never mentioned.) His father wouldn’t confess his crimes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so he was never let out, and now they’re conspiring to kill him in prison. Sizwe learns that he could get him out by bribing a certain judge, so he digs up the family’s secret diamond stash and takes them to L.A. to fence.

(read the rest of this shit…)

The Man With the Iron Fists 2

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

tn_mwtif2My friends, I don’t know about you, but I count myself lucky to live in a world where one of my favorite hip hop producers, the RZA, not only got to write, direct and star in a legit kung fu movie, but got to do a DTV sequel directed by one of the leaders of the form (Roel Reiné, THE MARINE 2, DEATH RACE 23, SCORPION KING 3, 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED). If I somehow slipped and fell into an alternate dimension that’s okay. I’m not going back.

Filmed in Thailand with about a third of the first film’s budget, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 is much more normal and low key than the first one, I want to warn you of that up front. There are fewer colorful gimmicks, no crazy Russell Crowe performance, comparably grounded (both literally and figuratively) martial arts, and no mention of the cliffhanger from the director’s cut where I think he had to team up with the X-Blade to save his wife that got snatched by the Falcon Clan and put in a big nest on top of a mountain or something like that. But for me it’s still a very enjoyable sequel because it maintains the most important ingredient: the complete sincerity of the RZA. (read the rest of this shit…)

Planet of the Apes (2001 remake)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

tn_pota2001
chapter 10

logo_summer2001smallreleased July 27, 2001

Well, so far this summer of 2001 we’ve been having hasn’t been too hot. But at least we got that new Tim Burton movie coming out, right? I don’t know why they gotta remake PLANET OF THE APES but it’s a great cast and that guy knows what he’s doing, I’m sure he’ll do something interesting with it.

Nope. 10 years later I’m not sure I need to explain why the PLANET OF THE APES remake is no good. I don’t remember there being an argument about it at the time, or ever encountering anybody that liked it in the decade since. It was a bad idea, it was not good, let’s all pretend it never happened. The end.

But I’m doing this thing so let’s do it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pearl Harbor

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

chapter 4
chapter 4

2001posterreleased May 25th, 2001

WARNING: contains spoilers for PEARL HARBOR and World War II

After three financially successful action movies in a row (BAD BOYS, THE ROCK, ARMAGEDDON), Michael Bay got a once-in-his-career itch to make An Important Movie. He probly had SAVING PRIVATE RYAN on the brain, and definitely TITANIC.

Ever since James Cameron’s movie broke all box office records studios had been threatening to make asses of themselves by blatantly trying to catch more lightning in that same melodramatic-love-story-during-historic-disaster bottle. Jan de Bont almost did a love-story-on-the-Hindenburg movie, for example. PEARL HARBOR wasn’t as obvious of a copycat as that because 1) it was a love story set against a war movie as much as a disaster and 2) the love song on the end credits was by Faith Hill instead of Celine Dion. Totally different.
(read the rest of this shit…)