Wrestling – and I’m talking about real deal wrestling, like Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, not WWE – is a sport of skill and stamina as well as strength. It’s a series of offenses and defenses, attacks and responses, takedowns, holds and escapes. Strength and size are a huge advantage, but they’re not everything. A great wrestler always has to know how to find an opening to control his opponent and also how to slip away when he’s made a mistake. It can look like two brutes rolling around on the ground, but at times it can be as much of a battle of wits as a chess game. The winning wrestler has to perform the correct sequence of moves, and perform them well, to get the other guy where he wants him for the win.
You know how people are always saying “Man, there really oughta be more kung fu movies set in the Shanghai International Settlement during the Second Sino-Japanese War”? Well in 1994 director Gordon Chan and star Jet Li heard your cries. They love a good Second Sino-Japanese War picture as much as anybody so they came up with FIST OF LEGEND, a remake of Bruce Lee’s FIST OF FURY. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE ITALIAN JOB circa 2003 is a standard issue studio ensemble heist movie, and a really enjoyable one. The director of FRIDAY and the writers of DEEP BLUE SEA put together a good group of likable actors to play the team of expert thieves, they came up with some clever gimmicks for an elaborate heist, and they executed it well with good pacing, light humor, a sense of fun but also a reasonable enough sense of danger. So it’s closer to OCEAN’S 11 where they obviously know what they’re doing but have to put in some elbow grease than OCEAN’S PART 13 where they seem to have super powers and can do absolutely anything at a moment’s notice with no trouble at all. (read the rest of this shit…)
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN is slick, clever, full of gimmicks and smart-alecky dialogue somewhere between ’90s post-Tarantino and some old Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY type banter. All of these things can really rub you the wrong way, and the more of these qualities present at any given time the more likely the wrongness of the rubbing. For me personally the rubbing was aligned properly for most of this movie, but it often seemed on the verge of pulling a 180 at any moment. So I can definitely see how you could watch this and just hate it if you were facing the wrong direction. (read the rest of this shit…)
Although welcomed into THE EXPENDABLES with open arms by action fans, Terry Crews is one of the cast members with the least experience in straight up action movies. He was brought in late in the game to replace 50 Cent shortly after 50 Cent was brought in late in the game to replace Forest Whitaker. (Or at least that’s how it was reported, but I thought Whitaker was supposed to be playing CIA agent Will Sands, and Crews ended up playing Expendables team member and excellent-name-haver Hale Caesar.) (read the rest of this shit…)
Part of the reason for my Countdown to The Expendables was to expand my action movie horizons. I didn’t want to just revisit movies I’d seen before, so I gave myself some rules: for each major EXPENDABLES cast member I wanted to review a movie I’d never seen before. Not just one I hadn’t reviewed or hadn’t seen in a long time, but one I had no experience with at all.
When I saw the terrible WWE Films theatrically released post-action movie THE CONDEMNED I said that I liked “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s screen persona, “his gravelly voice and his Plissken-esque don’t-give-a-fuck attitude,” and predicted that “If he was given an actual character to play in a movie by people who knew how to make a real movie, he could be at least as good as Roddy Piper.” I was probly thinking a lowbrow studio movie like a DEATH RACE or something, but this’ll do: a surprisingly compelling DTV underground fighting movie from Jeff King, the director of Seagal’s KILL SWITCH and DRIVEN TO KILL (which it just occurred to me oughta be the name of a movie where Seagal plays an ex-CIA NASCAR driver or Tokyo drifter. Coulda woulda shoulda). (read the rest of this shit…)
In the 1994 sports ‘n action drama PENTATHLON, Mr. Dolph Lundgren plays Eric Brogar, an East German athlete trained since childhood to be the ultimate pentathlon competitor. David Soul (Hutch from ‘Starsky & Hutch’!) plays the authoritarian (later revealed to be Neo-Nazi) coach Heinrich Müller, who slaps little Eric around and drills him to believe that if he trips on a rock or something he’s “failed the German Democratic Republic,” as well as himself and all his friends. I mean, this coach is such an asshole that you know he’s not even gonna be the kind of asshole that turns out to be lovable at the end like James Earl Jones in BEST OF THE BEST. (read the rest of this shit…)
I confess: I didn’t really know who Gary Daniels was. Turns out he’s a British kickboxer who’s been in about 50 movies since the late ’80s. I heard the name before but never watched any of his pictures. A couple people gave me shit about it when I reviewed Seagal’s SUBMERGED and didn’t mention that Daniels was in it. I guess that was a historic meeting of martial arts stars, but I didn’t even notice because I didn’t know who the fuck that was. Sorry, fellas. Like Brakus I am human. I can be defeated. (read the rest of this shit…)
For my Countdown to The Expendables I probly should’ve watched RED SONJA, since they put Schwarzenegger on the cover but I don’t think he has a big role. For THE EXPENDABLES they can’t use his name in the advertising but they sure love plastering his cameo all over the ads. So don’t get the wrong idea here, he’s not a true Expendable. He’s just a bit player.
Oh well. Today I’m trying out one of his movies from the precarious late ’90s, when they weren’t really doing as well so he was forced to quit acting and switch to his backup plan of being Governor of Caleefornia.
END OF DAYS is one I had previously skipped, in which Schwarzenegger has to save the world from The Devil. I guess I just figured somebody would’ve said something if this one was any fun at all. I don’t care if the Toxic Avenger already did it, I think anybody would enjoy seeing Arnold defeat the Prince of Darkness using his fists. Or even some guns. Or he could blow him up and have to jump away from the explosion, like in PREDATOR. The fact that nobody’s ever told me much about this movie is a good hint that it’s not something crazy, it’s just some more gloomy, mediocre, pre-millennial, digital era demonic bullshit like other less musclebound stars were doing. (read the rest of this shit…)
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE SHIT OUT OF VERN & OUTLAWVERN.COM
if that's your thing:
Toss me a couple bucks a month, support the good shit, also get access to a bunch of exclusive writing. This is my primary source of writing money that has allowed me to cut down to part time at the day job. Thank you!
2. Buy my books from your local bookseller or somebody