Recently I was a guest on the Adkins Undisputed podcast and the subject of the episode was THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, the 2014 movie in which Scott Adkins plays the villain. Somehow I had never gotten around to seeing it, despite knowing about Adkins’ participation, and that it was directed by Renny Harlin (between DEVIL’S PASS and SKIPTRACE, but I haven’t seen those either), and that I tend to go to these F.S.G. (Fantasy Sword Guy) movies and at least somewhat enjoy them. For example I saw the other Hercules movie starring The Rock that came out the same year. I didn’t understand why they made it a world where there was no magic, and I still liked it.
This is the Hercules played by Kellan Lutz, who you may know as one of the young guys in THE EXPENDABLES 3, if not from TWILIGHT. He also starred in a DTV action movie I reviewed called ARENA. And it looks like he played William Shatner in Michael Almereyda’s EXPERIMENTER? His thing is I guess he’s a uniquely babyfaced burly guy. He looks young and doesn’t try to macho up with a beard or something but is also very, like… wide-headed. I guess he’s tall, but he always looks to me like a comics-Wolverine, Ram Man type guy. (read the rest of this shit…)
Do you all listen to ADKINS UNDISPUTED? It’s a podcast done by a guy named Mike Scott, who goes through the Scott Adkins filmography in chronological order. I can imagine a version of that concept that’s fun to listen to, but not as good as what Mike does. He takes the job seriously, with heavily researched scripted intros, followed by a more free-wheeling discussion with the week’s guest (or “champion”). And very early in the run of the show Mr. Adkins himself caught on to it and has provided interviews for each episode. I’ve learned many things about the movies from Adkins, plus the side discussions have led me to all kinds of Hong Kong movies I hadn’t seen, and the rotating guests have introduced me to some cool people from the world of action movie fandom. It is fun to listen to, but also a genuine work of action movie scholarship. I love it.
So it was a great honor to be a guest on this week’s show. The subject is THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, which I hadn’t actually seen until now, despite Adkins playing the villain and Renny Harlin being the director. Mike originally invited me on for a better movie a little later in the filmography, but we realized it was going to be months before he got to it and nobody was slotted for HERCULES so I was happy to do it. I hope I did okay! HERE IT IS
P.S. I’ll post a review of the movie after the episode has been up for a bit
I don’t necessarily think of Renny Harlin as one of my favorite directors, but the truth is he’s very foundational to my viewing. I grew up being obsessed with all kinds of movies, but when I try to pinpoint what truly hooked me on my twin obsessions of horror and action, it seems like the main culprits are A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS and DIE HARD. So their sequels, both directed by Harlin, were huge for me at the time.
I understand why A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER doesn’t get the same love as DREAM WARRIORS, but for me it was monumental because it was my first Freddy movie in the theater. When it came out on tape I watched it (and its making-of tape) over and over again. That’s how I knew there was this hot up-and-coming director named Renny Harlin, a long-haired Finnish dude who showed such promise with the 1987 horror movie PRISON that he did Freddy 4 andDIE HARD 2 – followups to two of pop culture’s biggest things going. I think some article I read in Newsweek or somewhere called Harlin “The Sequel Master.”
I rented PRISON, of course, and I’ve seen it since then, and it’s pretty good, and stars Viggo Mortensen before he was classy. But until recently I never really paid attention to the fact that Harlin made one movie before that, a Finnish production, but about Americans, and more in the action vein. (read the rest of this shit…)
It took me nearly a quarter of a century to get around to giving CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995) a shot. Certified by the Guinness Book as the biggest financial bomb of all time, it got poor reviews, bankrupted Carolco Pictures (FIRST BLOOD, T2) before it even came out, diverted director Renny Harlin (following DIE HARD 2 and CLIFFHANGER) from the A-list and failed to create momentum for its revolutionary notion of giving a woman the lead role and top billing on a big budget summer adventure.
But I had reason to be suspicious of its reputation. Many of Harlin’s ‘90s movies, particularly his also-starring-Geena-Davis followup THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, deserve more credit than they got at the time. And there’s definitely precedent for mob mentality panning of movies that have been heavily covered as over budget, out of control productions. This had the additional gossip-bait of the star and director being married to each other, causing mean-spirited speculation that one was only hired because of the other one’s clout. (For example, an informative 1996 Independent article about what went wrong manages to refer to them as “Renny Harlin and his demanding wife.”) On top of all that, you know how it is with what I call the Old Timey Adventure genre. They almost always lose money, even when they’re great. That’s just how it is. (read the rest of this shit…)
DRIVEN is a weird footnote in the overlapping filmographies of Sylvester Stallone and Renny Harlin. It’s no CLIFFHANGER, and it’s not trying to be. If anything maybe it wants to be the ROCKY V of Formula 1 race car driving. Or whatever type of race cars they’re driving in this one. They’re not NASCAR I can tell.
Okay, stop the presses, I just looked it up (it turns out I’m on the internet right now). I guess Formula 1 is very secretive like the Masons so Stallone couldn’t get enough info on them and switched the movie to be about “ChampCar” racing. I guess that’s why they didn’t make a big deal of what type of racing it was in the movie, ’cause nobody was gonna get excited about something called “ChampCar.” (read the rest of this shit…)
I was looking through my notebook tonight and I found a review of THE LONG KISS GOOD NIGHT that I apparently never posted. It’s kind of like finding a dime under the couch.
It was actually Christmas time when I watched it. I had forgotten that’s when it took place, although I should’ve guessed, because it’s written by Shane Black. You write what you know, and the only thing Shane Black knows is what wiseass cops say together during the yuletide season. So I meant to post it to celebrate Christmas, but I guess instead we’ll post it to celebrate the recent news that Black is supposed to direct another movie (DOC SAVAGE). (read the rest of this shit…)
I think I owe each and every one of you an apology, because I’ve been neglecting my duty by not seeing 12 ROUNDS until now. The thing has been out on video for a month or two – how are ordinary citizens gonna know whether to watch a Renny Harlin/WWE Films tag team event if I don’t test it out first? Honestly I planned to see it in the theater, but the PG-13 kept me away. Let that be a lesson to you, Fox Atomic. Next time go for a hard-R, maybe you won’t go out of business.
From the director of DIE HARD 2 and the plot of DIE HARD 3 comes this generic but enjoyable festival of property destruction. Wrestler turned wrestler who is in movies John Cena plays Danny, a New Orleans police detective who one year ago arrested a terrorist or arms dealer or something named Miles (Aiden Gillan from THE WIRE – that’s where all the cheesy villains come from now). Miles’s girlfriend randomly got run over at the scene and he blames Danny so he’s after him With a Vengeance. (I’m not sure if he’s already gotten revenge on the guy who drove the car.) (read the rest of this shit…)
What the fuck is this? is a fair reaction to the existence of FORD FAIRLANE. All you can really do is try to set your mindclock back to 1989 and picture it from the perspective of the people setting it up.
I mean you got the hottest action producer, Joel Silver of DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON fame. He’s got the rights to this “rock ‘n roll detective” character taken from some magazine column or Herfy’s tray-liner comic strip or something. To rewrite the script he hires Daniel Waters, hot shit young writer of HEATHERS in his first for-hire job. But who can we get to direct? Who is rock ‘n roll enough? How about that Finnish guy who did NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4? His hair is practically to his ass, I think he could do it. Renny Harlin had been toiling away on a version of ALIEN 3 that never got made, and this was kind of his entry into the world of action. In fact, Joel Silver hired him for DIE HARD 2 after seeing the dailies for this one. (read the rest of this shit…)
From the Academy Award winning writer of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and MYSTIC RIVER, and the director of DEEP BLUE SEA, and with a story by the guy who did the novelization of E.T., comes a new old name in terror…
or, to put it another way, from the writer of PAYBACK and the director of DIE HARD 2 comes a part 4 that’s not as awesome as that sounds. If you are a Freddy devotee like myself you enjoy watching this crap every once in a while, but it’s the first one in the series that doesn’t advance the story at all.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s kind of nice that they continue with some of the characters from part 3, you don’t see that in too many slasher sequels. This one starts out with Kincaid, Joey and Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight instead of Patricia Arquette and seeming to have a completely different personality) out of the institution and in a regular high school like the kids in parts 1-2. (I wonder if they all go to the same school Nancy did? I’m not sure.) (read the rest of this shit…)
Long ago, before the rogue Finn Renny Harlin’s Samson locks were shorn, he was not the director of DEEP BLUE SEA. He was the director of DIE HARD 2. Or DIE HARDER as everybody thought it was called then. (This was before the internet, so I couldn’t explain to them that it was called DIE HARD 2.) Well, CLIFFHANGER is another movie from that o.g. Renny Harlin, or Renny Harlin Classic. And from where I stand this may be his finest McClane-free picture.
Of course, I’m coming late to the party. I missed this one when it came out in 1993 but I was planning on seeing it, so I saw it this week in 2007. So the rest of the world has had 14 years to know what I’m about to tell you: some guys robbing money from a treasury plane drop the money in the mountains, call a rescue team to try to steal their helicopter, and wind up having to deal with ace mountain climber Sylvester Stallone. (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