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.
It’s strange that a movie that spawned six sequels and a TV series in-between would have such a hard time getting started but here we are, five years after A Nightmare On Elm Street was rebooted and it’s happening all over again. Jackie Earle Haley had taken over as Freddy Kruger in the remake, and while he was decent, he never had the chance to really shine in the role because the project was stinking with disinterest, mainly by the Michael Bay led Platinum Dunes and the director Samuel Bayer.
When the man was chosen for the role the only thing anyone could put down for his resume was directing the Nirvana music video Smells Like Teen Spirit. In the special features for the film you could tell he regarded horror films as ugly and artless films, which so isn’t the case. He even made the remark that just because it was a horror film doesn’t mean it can’t look beautiful, which of course he’s right, but that seem to be all he cared about. Even Michael Bay had to beg him to direct the project. It was clear that Samuel Bayer wanted nothing to do with this project when you go and look at his IMDB page and see he hasn’t done a movie since. Which is a shame because that was one thing the Freddy movies were missing and that was looking beautiful. Considering their focus is on dreams, they never had a chance to show that until now but they focused more on the look instead of the reason the film existed which caused it not to resonate with horror fans.
Well it seems that New Line isn’t planning on making the same mistake again. Platinum Dunes isn’t listed as a producer on the project the slot is still vacant and they’ve tapped Orphan writer David Leslie Johnson to bring Freddy Krueger back to the big screen. Johnson has worked on a lot of big projects. He’s been hired to write a new Dungeons and Dragons adaptation, The Wrath of the Titans , and he fits the horror genre well since he used to write for The Walking Dead. His next projects is penning James Wan’s Conjuring sequel The Conjuring: The Enfield Poltergeist and Disney’s horror Something Wicked This Way Comes.
It’s pretty clear that Haley won’t be returning for Freddy and I doubt they’ll get Robert England back, but New Line needs to remember the last time they tried to make and Elm Street movie without England and if you watch Elm Street 2, you can clearly see the difference between the stunt man they used and when the brought England on board because the stunt man couldn’t cut it. If they’re going to do this, they need to do it right or just leave it alone. I’m not 100% opposed to remakes, I still have the originals I can go back to anytime I want and I love getting new stories with the characters I love, but I don’t like remakes when they’re lazy. While the Nightmare remake did have some things I liked, it was lazy and it didn’t seem to remember that we’ve seen Freddy do some pretty scary and gruesome stuff in the older movies and in the remake the dream sequences were tame as hell and they shouldn’t have been. What do you guys think of another Freddy remake?
So Dwayne Johnson is in talks to star in the remake of Big Trouble in Little China, and while I adore The Rock and love his movies, this is feeling about as wrong as Ryan Reynolds was going to play Connor Macleod in the remake of The Highlander a while back and you gritted your teeth just thinking about watching that.
While I’m not opposed to remakes, I do feel that some movies can further succeed from a remake but then there are some movies that are so classic that they shouldn’t be touched. Back to the Future is one, and while remaking the Indiana Jones movies would be ridiculous I’d be up for someone else playing Indiana and continuing on with more stories much like James Bond has been doing since the 70’s.
Here is my problem with this news, if you actually watched Big Trouble in Little China it clearly ends with a set up for a sequel, fans of the movie have been waiting for years to get that sequel only to never see it happen despite it’s cult status. My brother and I watched this on HBO nearly every weekend and Jack Burton was our hero.
The casting for this just doesn’t fit. The key to Jack Burton was he was a normal guy, caught in a very strange situation, and doing the best he could with what he had, how can any of that fit in with just the physicality of Dwayne Johnson right now? The man is a walking 80’s action figure, how would he be scared of anything? This is one of those times where a long awaited sequel would be better then a damn remake. If you haven’t seen the film I can not recommend it enough, it’s really fun, has a lot of cool quotable lines, and Kurt Russell is amazing as Jack Burton so go and check it out. Meanwhile, I’ll be hoping this project remains in development hell.
The first film followed Keanue Reeves as an undercover FBI agent who tries to stop Patrick Swayze and his gang of surfers who he believes is running a series of bank heist. The remake once again has Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) going undercover of a group of ‘exteme athletes’ (basically a bunch of white people who woke up and drank a bunch of Mountain Dews) who are behind a string of corporate heist.
While I’m not really opposed to remakes, I do get upset if they are lazy, and I like how they have changed it then to simple bank heist, especially since The Town has completely taken over and currently owns the bank heist movie genre. These guys are doing much more dangerous things which you’d expect given the upgrade in technology from the first film.
The first film was a pretty amazing action film in it’s time and was directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and really paved the way for female directors to play in genre’s normally seen as men only.
Point Break hits theaters 2015!
The new generation of Griswolds is on road to Walley World and hitting more than a few bumps along the way in “Vacation.”
Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Ed Helms, and Christina Applegate. The-remakquel?-finds Ed Helms is playing the grown up Rusty Griswold who takes his family on vacation which leads to disastrous results. The first film was a huge hit which spawned several sequels which nearly all of them were forgettable except for the very under appreciated National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
I like what I’m seeing but I still have that fear that this is just going to try and retread the original, but I have some hope and I do like how they’re continuing the story with his son and not going for a straight out remake.
Vacation hits theaters July 31, 2015!