POLAR (a new Netflix original, exactly like ROMA) is one of these movies about a legendary hitman trying to retire. And it’s the type that takes place in a very exaggerated world where murder-for-hire is a thriving business populated with many quirky and talented individuals possessing a flair for fashion and creative violence. It seems like if it’s not inspired by the JOHN WICK saga it’s at least given aid and comfort by it, but technically it’s based on a comic book that started in 2012. Polar was a web comic, improvised by writer/artist Victor Santos in black, white and orange, and posted one page at a time, with no dialogue until it was later collected into a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The movie is far from silent or monochrome and it’s more structured than that sounds like it would be, but when you hear it’s based on a comic book it makes plenty of sense. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘hitman’
THE BIG HIT is a 1998 action-comedy with enough good qualities that I have a soft spot for it. Alot of the humor is too broad for me, but that’s okay. I saw it when it was in theaters, and returning to it 20 years later it’s interesting as a time capsule, a Polaroid of a specific moment in movie and pop culture history. It was a time when:
-New Kid On the Block brother, laughing stock rapper and underwear model Mark Wahlberg was suddenly a cool actor after having starred in BOOGIE NIGHTS the year before. This was his first movie released post-Dirk Diggler, but it had been shelved since 1996. At the time, most people still derisively called him Marky Mark. It’s so early in his career that he has a song on the end credits (“Don’t Sleep”).
-Hong Kong cinema had invaded Hollywood. John Woo had already done HARD TARGET, BROKEN ARROW and the Once a Thief tv show, Ringo Lam had done MAXIMUM RISK, Tsui Hark had done DOUBLE TEAM. Chow Yun Fat had starred in THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, and Jet Li would soon be the villain in LETHAL WEAPON 4. So here we have Kirk Wong (director of CRIME STORY starring Jackie Chan) bringing a little bit of Hong Kong flair to the action in THE BIG HIT. Wahlberg practices on a kung fu dummy, and in his hidden weapons cache we see enough bladed weapons to stock a Shaw Brothers movie (plus a three-section-staff ala 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER).
I 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…)
“You must be Mandrill. Who else would be so fearless as to kiss my woman in my pool?”
MANDRILL is Chilean vehicle #3 for martial artist Marko Zaror, and in my opinion his best so far. In KILTRO he played an overgrown man-teen with dyed hair and baggy pants, in MIRAGEMAN he was an emotionally-stunted wannabe super hero who barely talked, so it’s surprising to see how well he fits the more standard super-suave badass role. (read the rest of this shit…)
These days Luc Besson is mostly thought of as a producer of action movies (DISTRICT B13, TAKEN, THE TRANSPORTER, UNLEASHED). But man, there was a time there a while back when his heart was in being a writer/director, and LEON aka THE PROFESSIONAL is a hell of a good action movie he did.
The year was 1994 and American crime movies were having sort of a resurgence. Young men with movie cameras were reading the Psalms of John Woo and rediscovering the joys of onscreen bullet discharge. It was the year of KILLING ZOE, THE LAST SEDUCTION, FRESH, the Alec Baldwin version of THE GETAWAY and of course DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH.
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After VENGEANCE heroically bloodshedded me in the face it was obviously time to check out some of these Johnnie To movies that I’ve been ignoring even though everybody and their blood brother has been recommending them to me over the years. It’s nice to see that while Hong Kong action cinema has lost the worldwide attention it had in the ’90s there’s still been some people keeping it alive. Mr. To definitely has a modern take on the types of emotions and style we love from that era. So here’s another one of his more recent ones, 2006’s EXILED.
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If a revenge movie is just called VENGEANCE, somebody might assume it’s gonna be obvious and unimaginative. In the case of Johnnie To’s VENGEANCE they’d be wrong – it’s elegant and poetically simple is what it is. Like a haiku with exit wounds. At this time I would like to ask that hypothetical somebody to admit that they would’ve been wrong.
In the opening scene a family is gunned down by three hitmen. Only the mother survives, and just barely. Her father, just known as Costello (Johnny Hallyday), comes to the hospital, vows to avenge her and gets minor details about the attackers by having her point at words in a newspaper. (read the rest of this shit…)
LE SAMOURAI is a movie I’ve meant to see for years. It just comes up so often when you’re into the shit I’m into. It was a big inspiration for THE KILLER and GHOST DOG, and probly THE AMERICAN, and since it’s both a crime movie and an instigator of that French wave that was new at the time it appeals to a broad range of movie buffs. People who wouldn’t normally watch too many French movies from the ’60s might watch it because it’s about a hitman, and vice versa. (‘Vice versa’ is Latin by the way, not French.)
So after hearing about it all these years it’s kind of a surprise still, ’cause it turns out I got the wrong impression. The way people talk about it I thought it was gonna be way more arty, way more slow and difficult, way more pretentious. But it’s a pretty straightforward crime movie in my opinion. It’s not fast-paced by modern standards, but it doesn’t have much fat on it either. Just alot of quiet. And a bird chirping.
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I got mixed feelings about some sucker remaking a Charles Bronson movie. On one hand it’s obviously foolish, because no man has ever been discovered who could stand toe-to-toe with Bronson in badass presence. It doesn’t matter who you get to star, unless maybe Lee Marvin is alive again, or Clint is interested in remaking old Michael Winner movies. Barring that, anybody’s gonna pale in comparison.
On the other hand, alot of Bronson’s movies are (by design) pretty formulaic, they’re all about taking the type of basic situations you’d want to see Charles Bronson in and then putting Charles Bronson in them. Therefore if you do have a new action icon to star in some movies, these are the types of movies you might want to try to put him in. And Jason Statham isn’t a bad candidate, in my opinion. (read the rest of this shit…)
Here’s a movie I never heard of until Criterion released it a couple years ago. It’s a real raw, pulpy, hard boiled crime deal, low budget, filmed independently and released in 1961. It’s about a hitman from Cleveland coming into New York, staking out his target. Because it’s black and white and full of hard-nosed tough guy narration it makes you think of old noir movies, but because it was made in the ’60s it’s a more modern, realistic approach to dialogue and acting, all done in real locations, on real city streets, not always with permits.