"I'll just get my gear."

Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Bernhardt’

Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

“I have a problem with cold-blooded killers.”

As longtime reader Sternshein has been promising me for a couple years now, BLOODSPORT 4: THE DARK KUMITE is some crazy shit – maybe the strangest sequel in a name brand action franchise. It completes the trilogy of BLOODSPORT sequels starring Daniel Bernhardt (ATOMIC BLONDE, NOBODY), but it doesn’t follow the tradition of framing it as a story told to children. Instead it opens with Bernhardt fighting in a tiled pit that looks like it might be a drained fountain, with sicko spectators above chanting “KILL! KILL! KILL!”

He raises his leg like a sledge hammer above his downed opponent – but abruptly stops himself, and turns to address the crowd. They drop silent.

“No! I will not kill this man! This man fought with skill, and dignity, and you would have me destroy that integrity. And why? To satisfy your lust for death?”

He helps the man up, hugs him, pats him on the back.

“There was a time the Kumite meant honor. But I see now that Kumite here is dead. It has become nothing more than a bloodsport.”

(It should smash cut to a giant ‘4: THE DARK KUMITE’, but no such luck.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Bloodsport III

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Way back in 2013 I reviewed BLOODSPORT II: THE NEXT KUMITE starring Daniel Bernhardt. But I reviewed it as part of this tournament gimmick I was doing called The Super-Kumite, and the movie lost its round to BLOODFIGHT, so I never followed up with BLOODSPORTs III and IV like I normally would. Until now!

Unlike me, the filmmakers didn’t waste time. Part III (no subtitle) came out in 1996, the same year as part II. Bernhardt (or, as we call him this week, Bob Odenkirk’s fight trainer/co-fight-coordinator/“Bus Goon” on NOBODY) returns as Alex Cardo, the guy who won the sub-titular “NEXT KUMITE” after Van Damme’s Frank Dux in the original.

One odd continuity with part II is that it has a wraparound where the movie is a story being told to a kid. In part II it was Master Sun (James Wong) telling kids in his martial arts class how Alex became a good person. This time it’s Alex telling his ten year old son Jason (David Schatz, AMBROSE BIERCE: CIVIL WAR STORIES) a story about his life “living in the far east as a very successful gambler.” He notices Jason upset late at night, finds out he got suspended from school for beating up three eighth grade bullies, and decides to take him for a camping trip. So Alex figures it’s time to tell his son – who has been training in martial arts – that he was the Kumite champion (“Cool!”) and then about something that happened while he was “living in the far east as a very successful gambler.” It’s pretty cool, because most fathers, when their son gets into trouble at school, aren’t able to whip out a “the time I tried to avenge a murder” story. (read the rest of this shit…)

Nobody

Monday, April 19th, 2021

Yes, it’s true – the makers of JOHN WICK have turned Bob Odenkirk (DR. DOLITTLE 2) into an action star. NOBODY (now on VOD) comes from WICK screenwriter Derek Kolstad (ONE IN THE CHAMBER, THE PACKAGE) and is produced by WICK co-director David Leitch, and it has many obvious similarities to JOHN WICK. The premise is a variation on a retired super-killer in a “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” situation. It mines the same entertaining territory of depraved Russian gangsters having the shock of their lives when they discover that somebody they assumed was just a random regular person is in fact a preposterously elite warrior who’s about to fuck up their whole existence. The dry, dark humor and gory, painful, expertly choreographed violence are certainly in the same ball park.

So if anybody has a bad thing to say about this movie that might not make me spit out my drink it would be “it was too much like JOHN WICK.” But I don’t agree that it’s a problem at all, because its strongest similarity is that it was another trailer that seemed to come somewhat out of the blue and made me say “Holy shit, where have you been all my life?,” and then when the actual movie came out it was simultaneously exactly as promised and so much more than anticipated. I don’t hesitate in saying that NOBODY is a new classic. (read the rest of this shit…)

Skylin3s

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

If there’s a more unlikely sci-fi franchise than the SKYLINE saga that doesn’t star Vin Diesel, I don’t know what it is. The series began with 2010’s SKYLINE, directed by Greg and Colin Strause (ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM), a $10 million alien invasion movie showcasing VFX from the Strause’s company Hydraulx Entertainment (TERMINATOR 3, 300, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES). They were able to accomplish that partly by setting it inside Greg Strause’s condo.

I can’t currently vouch for that one, because everyone said it was bad and I skipped it (I should give it a shot). But that’s what made it surprising when, seven years later, part 1 co-writer Liam O’Donnell made his directorial debut with BEYOND SKYLINE, a weird and ambitious sci-fi/action mashup starring Frank Grillo and featuring THE RAID’s Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian – and yes, they get to do silat on some aliens. Now, three years later O’Donnell has returned with another drastically different chapter, SKYLIN3S. In a director’s statement included with the production notes he admits, “‘They made another SKYLINE movie!?’ It’s legitimately crazy, I know.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Escape Plan: The Extractors

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

I’m not sure why we’d ever be ranking the least likely trilogies of our cinematic era, but if the topic comes up, I’ll be sure to mention the ESCAPE PLAN saga. Here – let’s recap:

It all began with a legit theatrical release from the director of 1408. This was in 2013, after EXPENDABLES 1 and 2, in a period when Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were making solid old-man-action vehicles that just weren’t catching on (BULLET TO THE HEAD, SABOTAGE, THE LAST STAND). ESCAPE PLAN is only my third favorite of those, but it’s a solid sort-of throwback action movie, it was fun to see Sly and Arnold together in something less winky than an Expendables, and it was especially cool to see Schwarzenegger kind of being a character actor, being funny and a little crazy as a sidekick instead of the hero. Plus it had a weirdly overqualified cast of Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio and Amy Ryan (plus Vinnie Jones and 50 Cent). (read the rest of this shit…)

True Vengeance

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

TRUE VENGEANCE is a 1997 Daniel Bernhardt movie that I bought specifically because it was written by Kurt Johnstad. I think I was looking him up because he wrote ATOMIC BLONDE, and I remembered that he was the guy who wrote 300, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE and ACT OF VALOR. I saw all of those in the theater and liked all of them, and it turns out his only other movie is this earlier DTV one that never even came out on DVD in the U.S. It’s directed by David Worth (KICKBOXER, LADY DRAGON 1 and 2), and I think you can understand why that combination of people made it something I needed to see.

Benhardt plays Griffin, who was a Navy SEAL and then a hired killer of some kind but after the death of his wife he quit the life to take care of his daughter Emily (Tessa Sugay, “Club Girl (uncredited),” TOKYO DRIFT, “Dancer (uncredited)” THE SOCIAL NETWORK). After a brief, incoherent sniper prologue we meet him cutely joking around with his daughter pretending he doesn’t know it’s her birthday. So yes, she is going to be kidnapped.

He has an older guy he calls his best friend named Sam (Harrison Young, Ryan as an old man in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), who I think runs a garage and kind of seems like he could be the landlord like the guy in ROAD HOUSE? He’s involved in a great bit of b-movie flavor when he’s doing a crossword puzzle, asking for a word for “something that haunts.” Griffin suggests ‘ghost,’ but Sam says it has to be four letters, and just then a scary dude named Adachi (Keo Woolford, “Airport Worker,” GODZILLA) steps in looking for Griffin, who dramatically declares that “The Griffin you knew… is dead.” (read the rest of this shit…)

G-2

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

Where was I before I got off on this HIGHLANDER tangent? It was something about swords, right?

Oh yeah – G-2. I watched the Lorenzo Lamas fantasy/cop/fighting circuit movie THE SWORDSMAN (1992) and its sequel GLADIATOR COP (1995). I didn’t find out until after posting it that yes, as I kinda suspected, all the Lamas footage in the second one was outtakes from the first one. Used without permission, even. I should’ve checked The Good, the Tough and the Deadly, where david j. moore interviews Lamas, who says he only learned about GLADIATOR COP from an ad in a trade magazine, and when he threatened to sue they paid him what he got for the first one. Easy (if embarrassing) payday.

But the other weird thing I learned is that GLADIATOR COP writer/director Nick Rotundo, despite only having done the stock footage sequel, not the original, felt enough ownership of it to later do this not officially related 1999 movie about the same thing. Like both SWORDSMAN movies it deals with the (now re-designed) sword of Alexander the Great, which it again says is blessed by Apollo, and a modern day guy who’s good with swords draws pictures of it after having had dreams of it and himself in a battle in the past.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Atomic Blonde

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Our Lady of the Swaddledog, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, stars in her first post-Furiosa ass-kicking movie, and holy shit it’s from JOHN WICK co-director David Leitch and the 87Eleven action team. ATOMIC BLONDE, based on a 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City, is a twisty Cold War spy thriller set in Berlin right before the wall came down. Theron plays Elaine Broughton, a beaten and bruised MI6 agent recounting a disastrous mission to obtain “The List,” a document listing all the spies active in the Soviet Union (similar to the NOC List in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE), and to kill whoever stole it.

Broughton has the qualities we look for in a larger-than-life movie spy: three steps ahead, improvisational when necessary, hyper-fashionable, sexy. When less experienced French agent Delphine Lasalle (THE MUMMY herself, Sofia Boutella) follows her, Broughton immediately makes her and beds her. The movie could get away with treating this like a conquest, but instead they start helping each other – spies with benefits – and you get to like Delphine.

The same cannot be said for David Percival (James McAvoy, THE POOL), the goofy, shifty contact who shows her around but might be the Russian double agent known as Satchel. (read the rest of this shit…)

John Wick

Monday, October 27th, 2014

tn_johnwickI never figured Keanu Reeves would become an action hall-of-famer, but here we are. Of course he stars in the great POINT BREAK, but we can’t lie, we all kinda chuckle at his FBI surfer dude Johnny Utah in that. And then he was good in SPEED, but would that be enough? If that was enough Matt Damon would be an action legend. Of course, playing Neo in THE MATRIX trilogy sealed the deal, Reeves learned to do all that kung fu and that hadn’t really been done by a normal actor like that before and those movies and those fights hold up today. Still, it seemed like an anomaly in his career. He would always be Neo to the world but that would be it for Action Keanu, right?

Nope. Because he directed last year’s martial arts gem MAN OF TAI CHI and played the villain, creating and performing some more classic fight scenes. When I saw that I realized it was time to acknowledge his greatness. 47 RONIN put a little bit of a damper on that though because it was so boring I never even wrote a review. If I had it would’ve said “Some of the monsters are cool” and that’s about it.

But after JOHN WICK, Reeves’s strong connection to Badass Cinema cannot be denied. This is a fun, violent, straight-ahead revenge action movie. Reeves did not direct it, but his stunt double from the MATRIX movies, Chad Stahelski, did*. So it’s probly a style of directing too dangerous for Reeves to perform. (read the rest of this shit…)

Meet JOHN WICK

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Stu already linked this in the MAN OF TAI CHI comments, but I thought it needed its own post. Ladies and gentlemen, this movie I never heard of before is now on my most-anticipated list with a bullet:

The boring 47 RONIN kinda put a damper on the roll Keanu seemed to be on with his excellent directorial debut MAN OF TAI CHI, but not enough to make me skeptical of this one. This is just a great trailer with many classical badass elements: the car, the implications of his past, the dramatic visual reveal of his backstory, the PAYBACK-esque first person narration, the fear on John Leguizamo’s face when he realizes which hornet’s nest his buddies have just kicked. (read the rest of this shit…)