I am a true child of the 80’s, given I was actually born in 1980, so I have grown up with some of the best movies ever made but also the most infamous which only fuels my nostalgia. Every so often I find myself spending an afternoon or two re-watching Predator, Alien, The Goonies, E.T. and many, many more. My favorite however, are 80’s action films which I will always have a soft heart for. I spent much of my childhood watching the likes of Bloodsport, Hard to Kill, Delta Force, and Kickboxer only to run out in my yard and practice for hours the different kicks, punches, and blocks I learned from these films.
These films ranged from dumb to awesome depending on the levels of action and fight scenes but they were never something someone could defend should it come to plot or story. They were a product of their time and although I’m not completely against remakes or sequels (the 80’s action scene lived off sequels) sometimes it’s best to just leave things in the past.
I was really interested in Kickeboxer: Vengeance when I saw the trailer. It looked promising, had some cool action scenes, and starred Jean Claude Van Damme as the teacher this time around instead of the protagonist. The story is the same as the first, Eric Sloan (Darren Shahlavi) is the kickboxing champ in the U.S. who gets an invite to fight Tong Po (Dave Bautista) in Thailand for a very large sum of money and bragging rights of being the best. Despite the reservations his brother Kurt (Alain Moussi) has, Kurt flies to Thailand to fight Tong Po and is murdered by the Thai boxing champ. Kurt sets out to train in Muy Thai, under his brothers trainer Durand (Jean Claude-Van Damme) so he can avenge his brothers death.
Kickboxer: Vengeance has my attention right from the start because the story began after Eric had died and Kurt is trying to sneak into Tong Po’s training camp to kill him. This gave some insight on what Tong Po does on his spare time, which is hold training and death matches but then it doesn’t take long before there are a ton of questions and little to no answers and it only gets worse from there. Then you have the very beautiful Sara Malakul Lane who plays Liu, a Thai cop who is investigating Tong Po but doesn’t seem to do much about it even though it appears the entire police force in behind her.
Kickboxer: Vengeance has clearly been hacked to death in the editing room causing continuity errors, an incoherent story, and some of the worst dubbing I’ve ever seen. Characters appear, disappear, then appear again for no reason and the questions start overtaking the answers as the film progresses and it really cuts into the small good things the film has going for it. Dave Bautista looks like the producer of this film kidnapped him and forced him to get as big as he could get and it works. He is menacing, powerful works right along with the original Tong Po played by Michel Qissi.
Core elements of the story were altered just to be different from the original film which leads to huge inaccuracies for characters and the overall plot. It’s revealed that Eric trained under Durand, who is supposed to be the best Muy Thai teacher but he is no match for Tong Po. Originally, Eric went to fight Tong Po with no training because he was arrogant and believed he stayed at his best all the time. This change neuters Durand as a trainer because he’s supposed to be the all knowing last resort who can kick the protagonist butt into gear and push him past him limits so he can be a better fighter.
Also, Eric is killed in an underground fight instead of a normal kickboxing match, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to kill him, but this takes away from the curiosity of the final fight. In the original Kurt was training for a normal Muy Thai match only for Tong Po to change the rules and have them fight in the old way, which had the fighters hand wrapped in rope then crushed glass glued to them. Here we already know the setting so there is nothing to surprise us about the final fight.
Everything about this movie is just wrong. Alain Moussi just doesn’t have Van Damme’s charisma and it boring to watch. The characters and their actions don’t make sense, the fight scenes are so choreographed you can see the stunt men just waiting for their moment to come into the scene and get knocked down by a kick that wouldn’t stop a small child and training sequences are boring do nothing to excite you into training like the original did. The training sequences in the first film, whether you believed them or not, were amazing to watch I’ve quoted and reenacted the “kick the tree” scene over and over again.
There is more emotion in that one scene then there is in the entire 90 minute running time of Kickboxer: Vengeance which leads me to my biggest complaint. I’ve always felt that Van Damme is a much better actor then he’s been given credit for. The man was the epitome of 80’s action for me growing up, he was fun to watch, he still is an amazing martial artist and athlete but he was sleep walking through this role. It’s like he doesn’t want to do these anymore or he’s always tired and if that’s true then he should just stop and focus on other things, because he was the biggest letdown for me. Like this film, his heart just wasn’t into it and broke the heart of this 80’s kid. At least I can try and get over it since this movie introduced me to Sara Malakul Lane.
Possible Spoilers, Obviously.
It’s rare that a movie can actually be better with a more footage added in, most of the time a film can be bogged down and forced to be trimmed to make more coherent movie but the Ultimate Cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a much more coherent film then it’s theatrical predecessor. I was not a fan of the original version when it hit theaters. Superman was a horrible person in how he seemed to just neglect people who needed help, Batman just came across as a complete sociopath, and the populated world was so stupid to believe that a man who could fly, shoot heated rays from his eyes, and juggle planets would use a gun to kill anyone, which is a major plot point of Lex Luthor’s plan to get the world to turn against Superman and for the much anticipated throw down between the two DC titans.
Why does the world believe Superman shot those people? Why is Batman terrorizing the port area in Gotham? How come Superman didn’t realize a bomb was about to go off during a Capitol hearing? All of these questions and much more are answered which not only help the overall flow of the film but also flesh out Henry Cavill’s Superman and alter ego Clark Kent as he investigates who The Batman is. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) gets more to do as she begins to pull the threads of the mystery surrounding the murders that seem to follow Superman wherever he goes. It’s a nice little mystery we are actually following along with that held my attention despite a few dumb moments sprinkled in just to move the plot along.
Henry Cavill shines a lot more as Superman given the added footage and Ben Affleck is still an amazing Batman, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne everyone is pretty much bringing their A-game except the main villain of the film.
Despite all the good, the film is still plagued with problems, namely Jessie Eisenberg, who continues to be awful as Lex Luthor. I did enjoy him more when he begins to lay out his plan to Superman just before the main event fight, but his performance will go down on future list as “Worst Villain Ever” for years to come. The fight between Batman and Superman now takes even longer to get to given the added footage and is still really short compared to all the build-up. Then you have Doomsday. The CGI looks better and I could tell what was going better then I could in theaters, but I still stand that they should have waited to bring Doomsday in and kill Superman until WB had built up the DC Universe a bit more. It would have been nice to see the members of the Justice League walking behind his casket in Metropolis in tandem with a select few at the actual funeral in Smallville.
Originally I hated the first half of the theatrical cut because it was boring and confusing but with the Ultimate Cut I am able to enjoy the film much more as a whole. Usually when someone releases a “Director’s Cut” with added footed it’s usually a cash grab with footage that doesn’t help the movie slightly *coughGreenLanterncough* if at all but in this case, the thirty extra minutes does bring a lot to the film but it still has the same problems with the useless dream sequences, the bloated final third of the film when Snyder wants to just conveniently drop hints of the future members of the Justice League. It still doesn’t work, feels really crow barred in and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still useless until she’s called upon to be the warrior she is.
With the added footage you are now forced to sit through a three hour cut which is really taxing to sit through on anyone who have a thousand things to do every day and it comes with an R rating which it earns with a lot of CGI blood added into the fight scenes and a character dropping the F-bomb. If you are interested, I do recommend giving the film another look, it’s definitely worth it checking out if you want to see a better, yet exhausting, version but if you completely hated the original theactial released film then you’re better off skipping it all together. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits shelves today!
In a world of over the top green screen, computer generated everything, filled with fake sets, fake stunts, and even “faker” action scenes, YES I’m talking to you George Lucas and Michael Bay, thank you lord for Quentin Tarantino! A filmmaker who was raised, born and bred on the old-school ways of movie making. Back when you HAD to do it in front of the camera before people just said we’ll get the “computer guys” to fix it. And it’s welcome believe me and he comes back this Christmas with a western that’s more “Reservoir Dogs” than, well anything else since.
And believe me he’s pulling out all the stops, quick-witted dialogue, fast cutting fights, profane laced dialogue, and over-the-top non-stop bloodthirsty violence. Some could argue that he’s gone too far but COME ON it’s Quentin Tarantino, complaining about that is like going to see “Star Wars” and complaining about special effects. And it’s all done right in front of you as if he’s saying, “look Ma no computers!” And it’s welcome believe me. Basically the plot is this a bounty hunter named “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell) is taking in a female murder named “Daisy” (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to collect the bounty in the middle of blizzard in post-Civil War Wyoming. And do we meet some characters along the way…you bet! An ex-slave turned “Confederate Killer” (Samuel L. Jackson), a could be new sheriff and former Confederate officer (Walter Goggins), and then we have a nefarious Mexican (Demian Bichir), a bitter Civil War General (Bruce Dern), a British executioner (Tim Roth), a soft spoken & possibly dangerous cowboy (Michael Madson), and a angry-quick on the drawl coach driver (James Parks). They’re all killers, tough guys, and hombres that would love to shoot first ask questions later, but which is the good guy and which is the bad guy….well you’ll just have to see to find out.
Some could argue that the film is too long and too slow and unlike past Tarantino outings with all the oddball characters you could at least “like” the characters and their intentions. And if that is your complaint, well you’d be right. Some of the back-stories go on far too long and you just want him to get on with it and stop slowing down the pace. But again it IS called “The Hateful Eight” not “The Likeable Eight” and Tarantino wants to make sure we’re immersed in the world of westerns he grew up on the westerns of Howard Hawks and Sam Peckinpah. There you didn’t know the characters were good or bad it’s just whom you root for, or whom YOU should have rooted for in the end.
But in making sure the film never gets dull well credit needs to go to both Tarantino and his editor Fred Raskin (“Django Unchained,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) keeping up the pace and when the violence hits, and believe me IT WILL hit it’s done with an almost gleeful release (another Tarantino trademark). In a world where everything just seems fake and nothing is believable anymore, almost where everything is just done inside of a computer hard drive, thankfully there is Mr. Tarantino! A film lover’s prayer answered. And sadly it might not do 1% of what “The Force Awakens” might make in just a day of release, sad. Because as long as Tarantino is out there reminding us of what film really is, an art form NOT to just be done on a computer, a collaboration of many who work to give you something to see right in front of you then there is always going to be a reason to go to the movies! And God bless you Tarantino for it!
Written by Jason Greathouse
After more than 50 plus years of martinis, girls, guns, and gadgets you might think Bond is over and done. Not true, not true, not for a second and it continues with the latest installment “S.P.E.C.T.R.E.,” a direct sequel to 2012’s “Skyfall” and the fourth installment with Daniel Craig.
Continuing with the rebuilding the myth of Bond that began with Craig in 2006’s “Casino Royale,” to rebuild the myth of the hero also meant well, we must rebuild the villains as well. So what is S.P.E.C.T.R.E. you ask? Is it a terrorist organization? Is it a secret society? Does it link all of the past Craig Bonds together? Does it tie in to Bond’s past? Yes, yes, yes, and that’s classified.
Also back on board, becoming one of the few directors to do more than one turn in the director’s chair, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (a director who was greeted with mixed reaction until his excellent Bond debut). And does he pull out all the stops you ask? You better believe it! From an over the top chase/fight/shootout in Mexico City, parts of which look like they’re done in one continuous take, an edge of your seat car chase through the streets of Rome, to a plane/car chase through the Austrian Alps. Obviously sparing at no expense to dazzle us all, maybe that’s the explanation as to why the film, according to insiders could be not only the most expensive Bond of all time but THE MOST expensive film ever made. At a rumored $300 to $350 million-dollar budget even James Cameron is shaking his head in disbelief. But not resting on spectacle credit Mendes for making sure that his Bond villains are top notch. Picking the second straight Oscar-winner to take their place as Bond’s nemesis, Christoph Waltz who plays the head of the mysterious S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Franz Oberhauser. Who is he exactly you might ask? Well, you’ll have to see it to know for sure but let’s just say his real name and identity has links to Bond’s orphan past and will have Bond’s many fans fist pumping in the theaters going: YES! And then we have our “Bond Girls” the amazingly sexy Monica Bellucci (yes amazingly sexy at 51, the eldest to play a Bond girl, breaking the record of Honor Blackman, who was 37 upon her Bond debut) and the breath takingly intense French actress Lea Seydoux who is also tied in with this mysterious organization who….RATS ALMOST CAUGHT ME! Not gonna say a word, you’ll just have to see it yourself.
Now the question some will ask is how does it compare with the last outing “Skyfall.” Does it match-up or surpass it? Is it worth the budget? Is it worth the three plus years of waiting to see the follow up to the most successful, in terms of gross, awards, and critical acclaim, of ALL of the previous Bond films? Sadly no, no, and no it doesn’t come close. The plot seems to drag on a bit too long then there’s a subplot involving the new “M,” the always great Ralph Finnes, trying to keep the “00” active and the new head of MI-6 from shutting them all down. It’s a worthy pay off but by the time it comes you just want them to get on with it! Stop the bad guys and blow stuff up already! It walks and crawls when you want it to sprint.
But finally you have what has been my biggest complaint about Bond and I know many of his fans will debate me on this, Craig himself. Finally, after four outings and 9 years showing something that ALL of his predecessors remembered to do with Bond that Craig had forgotten: SHOW A SENSE OF BLOODY HUMOR It looks like he’s finally having fun with the role thankfully, just check out the action/reaction he was with the new “Q (an ever wonderfully droll Ben Whishaw).” But despite of that he still brings his usually beat you with my bare hands approach that made him the obvious choice of the EON producers and execs who were obviously reacting to Bond’s new American competition, Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne. But he still makes you long for the old days of Bond who seemed to manage to save the world with smirk, a vodka martini, and a cell phone that turned into a machine gun. The campiness is gone with Craig; it’s partly welcomed by the new generation but for those who grew up with Bond, like myself, too bad.
But is this the last outing for Craig as Bond one might ask? Judging by the ending, which I WILL NOT even attempt to say a word about, maybe? And judging by recent comments/interviews with Craig (recently quoted in London’s “Time Out Magazine” as saying “I’d rather slit my wrists than play Bond again, I’m over it at the moment”) I’d say no. But then again…..who knows? His predecessor Pierce Brosnan ousted from the tux and Aston Martins after four films as well. Not many actors have managed to have the impact on the character, so even if it is his last, it’s a worthy exit.
Written by Jason Greathouse
3 ½ out of 4 stars
The Guest is a movie has been popping up on my Netflix for weeks now and I would just mentally tag it as a film to watch one night and move on until I actually felt like sitting through it. The film follows David (Dan Stevens) a ex-soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son, Caleb, who died in action. After David is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence and a department of government is looking for him.
The Guest starts out promising, It sets up all the questions you want answered about David. Who is he? What does he want? Why does he seem off? David starts out really charming, winning over Calab’s mother and father almost overnight and they beg him to stay longer as he is the last link they have to their dead son, but it doesn’t take long before we know that there is something wrong with David as he begins to violently help the family out in their problems.
The film is really uneven, Dan is good in the role then there are times he is just awful as he switches from his gentleman to psycho role, Nearly every actor in here is bad except for my always favorite character actor Joel David Moore (Hatchet) and the cute as a button Maika Monroe (It Follows) who jumps back and forth from doing something interesting then being completely forgettable throughout the movie.
Adam Wingard (V/H/S, V/H/S 2/ You’re Next) who started out and mainly directed horror films tries to add this to the action genre and it just doesn’t work. At first David is mysterious and you can see he’s bad for Caleb’s family but it all starts to unravel when it’s revealed that he and Caleb were part of some sort of super soldier program that was used to make them into the perfect killing machines for the government.
Wingard and the crew reveal in not explaining much of anything about David’s backstory, so much so that Lance Reddick just shows up out of nowhere as a a Major who is cleaning up any survivors of this program we are told nothing about. Adam Wingard is good at making your feel uneasy in his films, the entirety of the V/H/S series and You’re Next do just that, make you uneasy and has had me shifting in my chair or couch several times but by the end of The Guest, all I could do was be pissed because I couldn’t help but think how someone’s incompetence help manufacture several unnecessary deaths. This movie left me angry because, like the people who started this program, the stupidity behind it left everyone with a horrible outcome.
Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man – and the legend – we know today.
This just looks odd, some strange horror/comedy/action mashup and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I’m intrigued as I am for just about any movie, but don’t really feel the urge to go see it because I fear it will be horrible, but then I also found some things that could make this fun.
Victor Franenstein hits theaters this Thanksgiving!
Written by Oren Uziel (Mortal Kombat: Legacy) and Dave Callahan (The Expendables, Godzilla) — the film ‘centers around a seemingly harmless guy who realizes his potential when he finds himself caught in the middle of a cross-dimensional battle between the warriors of Earth and the monsters of Outworld. Now, in order to stop the world from total destruction, he must win the martial arts tournament known as ‘Mortal Kombat’.
Now, just reading that description just makes it sound horrible. That isn’t what Mortal Kombat is and I hope that is something that will be changed once Wan assumes full producing duties or someone just got the synopsis wrong. The first Mortal Kombat film was a lot of fun, much like the games were more hardcore then any before it, the movie was the first video game adaption that was pretty real with it’s martial art violence and a few of the fight scenes were pretty incredible. Wan signing on could be a good step towards getting a good Mortal Kombat film as long as they don’t pull a Fan4stic and create something that is completely devoid of the original content.
FOX has been living pretty lavishly off the X-Men Franchise since the first movie debuted near the end of the 90’s and they managed to squeak by into an entire new trilogy of movies when it began to run out of hype by the horrible third film X-Men: The Last Stand.
Now that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has really hit it’s stride in it’s second season and promises to go nuts into the third, CW has pretty much been taken over by DC with Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and ABC is about to debut Supergirl this fall so it’s only natural for FOX to look for a way to get their TV comic book goodness in. So of course they want to make an X-Men TV show, the only catch, FOX only owns the rights to the movies, Marvel stills owns the TV rights.
FOX chairman and CEO Dana Walden commented on the negation process.
“For X-Men, we’re in negotiations with Marvel. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to announce something soon. We’re not closed on a deal yet but it’s something we’re definitely pursuing.” She also killed any chance of a crossover with Marvel characters such as Daredevil or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “This will be exclusively the franchise as it has existed at Fox.” “The characters from the X-Men franchise are with Fox on the feature side so we won’t be including Marvel characters that are at ABC with Disney,”
The show is being written by Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, who wrote Star Trek 3 while Evan Katz and Manny Coto will serve as the show-runners and be credited as its creators.
FOX…when will you learn to play nice? You’re basing your movies on a business model that is rapidly deteriorating. If I was Marvel, I’d work out a deal to be able to use the X-Men characters in Marvel movies in exchange for using the characters for a TV show. If anyone remember the older live action TV shows FOX produced I’m sorry, they were bad, but I’m pretty sure they could actually produce a decent to good series but I wouldn’t be able to trust them by the way they cancel everything so now we’ve found ourselves at an standstill yet again.
There was a time when sequels to movies were made strictly out of profit, there was never an attempt to make them better, tell new stories, just rehash the first one and so on until they finally became obsolete and they moved on. This has been the norm in Hollywood for years until recently. The Fast & Furious franchise is jumping into it’s eighth film, with the seventh crossing over a billion dollars. The Marvel films, although each telling their own separate stories, are each part of a much bigger storyline and continue to grow. The Mission Impossible films started to suffer the same fate, after the disappointment of the second film and the third film it seemed like the IMF had been shutdown for good.
That was until Brad Bird took over directing duties for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal which, in my opinion, was the better of the films despite many of it’s problems. The film is extremely fun and it moved the MI franchise into a new direction where it didn’t have to be consistently serious throughout yet still maintained the amazing stunts and action the franchise has been known for.
Which leads to to the fifth film in the series, the IMF, lead by William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is facing the wrath of the CIA Director, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) who is pushing to have the IMF disbanded based on results from their missions leading up to Ghost Protocal. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has been chasing down proof that The Syndicate, a highly trained anti-IMF, has been operating under their nose the entire time but when IMF is shut down Ethan must depend on Llsa Faust (Rebecca Fergusan) a disavowed British agent who may or may not be a member of this deadly rogue nation.
Each time a new Mission Impossible movie comes out I start to wonder if it will be any good and each time I really enjoy the film and Rogue Nation is no different. The action scenes are amazing, the stunts are incredible, Cruise (who is a very hands on producer) and company have managed to up the previous movie, without overstepping it’s boundaries and taking things to a completely stupid and unbelievable level. All the original characters from the previous film returns except for Paula Patton who had to drop out due to scheduling reason along with Ving Rhames is brought out of retirement to actually be apart of the movie this time, which was nice to see.
I had a lot of fun with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Cruise has never been better and Rebecca Ferguson really steals the show and I hope to see her in future installments. My only real complaints are we have another villain that isn’t all that terrifying despite being the leader of an “anti-IMF” as he’s built up to be. Then the film took a huge step back by pushing Hunt at the complete center of the film again, where Ghost Protocol brought the film series to it’s original roots and focused on the team. Jeremy Renner might as well not been in the film at all the way he’s regulated to the back of the bus and must fill in the office role in IMF despite having skills on par with Ethan Hunt.
As the summer begins to wind down and we start to enter the serious season for films, it’s nice to have one last good summer film that can possibly leave his summer on a high note.
Ah-nold, and that’s Arnold for those of you without a sense of humor, is back and thank you for it! And hand it to him, undergoing a grueling six hour a day, seven day a week physical training regime to, at 68, get in full action movie shape. And he proves he can still throw down with the best of us as he returns to his star-making role in “Terminator Genisys.”
Here he returns to protect both Sarah Conner, Emilia Clarke filling in for Lynda Hamilton, and Kyle Reese, Jai Courtney filling in for Michael Biehn, from Skynet, which was destroyed but hasn’t been yet. But it’s coming so they sent a T-1000 or liquid metal Terminator NOT played by Robert Patrick instead it’s Yung-hun Lee who is not filling in for Robert Patrick, he’s his own guy. But both Arnold and Sarah intercept him, wait are you confused yet…so was I so I’ll stop there. Timeline and story hasn’t been this messed up since Christopher Nolan took us on an amnesiac ride with “Memento.”
But forget that! That’s the only bad news the good news is this; it’s a film that delivers on all cylinders. It’s a great big, fun summertime popcorn movie that reminds us why we love to go to the movies. It’s huge, it’s fast, it’s funny and the action comes and doesn’t stop even paying homage to the prior films at the same time. I mean after all it is more of a reboot than a sequel, in fact you really don’t have to see the prior films, it wants to give us a new world and new look for this world.
Just watch the opening alone which Arnold tries to settle the score with himself by…oh wait just let me stop because it’s a truly fun and funny sequence that sets up the barrage of car chases, shoot outs, fights and high tech commentary that helps to build up to a conclusion that isn’t just satisfying, it makes you crave for more!
And if that isn’t enough good news here’s more British actress Emilia Clarke, Daenerys Targaryen to “Game of Thrones” fans, in an absolute star-making role is a 100%, full-fledged hottie! Looking buff and ready she manages to prove to all the critics and doubters that she is not only an action star but a leading lady ready to take on Hollywood as she fights not one but two killer cyborgs, flips a bus on the Golden Gate Bridge, handles a shoot out in helicopters through the city scape of San Francisco, and even sneaks in a little joke about her height so she can find a way to tell the naysayers “screw you, I’m the star!” Damn right!
So to quote the film “I’m old, not obsolete,” is a great joke for all thinking that both Arnold and the series has gotten too old, and past it’s prime well that’s settled in the first twenty minutes as Arnold himself takes on….WAIT, STOP!! I’m about to spoil yet another bit of fun, oh heck just let me stop, just check it out! They’re already planning another, if it’s as fun as this one they can make 10 more as far as I’m concerned.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 4 Stars
Written by: Jason Greathouse