It was only a matter of time…

The B Action Movie Thread has been a gargantuan mainstay of this site for several years. So, in our continued efforts to dominate the internet in every conceivable way, here is a weekly column. A digest, if you will. Dig in and we’ll see you in the thread!

THIS WEEK ON THE B ACTION MOVIE THREAD (Last Week’s Installment)

Mike here with a recap of the goings on over at The B Action Movie Thread. The madness runs from page 1401 to 1404.

Before I begin, however, I need to direct some attention to chewer Walker, who has presented us with this awe-inspiring crest featuring the iconic ECSTASY OF OLMOS, which Hans Gruber’s EYE CONDITION! made the unofficial insignia of the thread last year:

My undying and eternal respect goes out to you guys for giving us this nugget of glory. Walker has even made it his wallpaper! Anyway, on with the recap…

The Jason Statham revisit of The Mechanic hit theaters this weekend, and the thread’s Duke himself, Mr. Fleed, was on hand to report his enthusiasm:

I just got back from…NYC, and getting my…B Action Film Fix, by seeing not a mechanic, but…The Mechanic, The Remake with Jason Statham. The Mechanic, is…Awesome! It really starts out…Swimmingly, and ends with a…BANG! One of, Statham’s…Best films! Sure, the Crank films are really insane, as well as inane, and WAAAAAAAAAAAAY, Over The Top (not the…STALLONE, film.) But, this, Mechanic is a true professional. He is the…Spock, of Hitmen! Just totally ruthless, and logical.

After his appearance at the New Beverly during Edgar Wright’s screening of Hard Times and The Driver, Walter Hill’s work is revered once again, specifically Wild Bill (which I plan on watching very soon) and his brilliant work on the Deadwood pilot.

Fat Elvis alerts the thread of TCM’s airing of the Jaws-with-a-bear epic Grizzly (another film I must see), which doesn’t have Talia Shire and Armand Assante but boasts an explosive (pun intended) climax involving a bazooka.

Gabe T’s unearthing of a 1990 Movieline interview with Charlie Sheen. The post comes in light of his recent troubles and debauchery and his then-current status as an action hero in Navy SEALs (Another one I’ll have to see soon…I guess) and The Rookie. Here’s some choice highlights:

Regarding Robert Duvall: “The clearest memory that I have of Duvall is when a friend of his was babysitting me, Ramon, and my sister Renee. Out of nowhere, the door flies open and Duvall comes running through the room stark naked, waving his arms above his head, screaming at the top of his lungs. Exits out the back door, never to be seen again that night.”

Regarding Gary Busey: “This was after his motorcycle accident. He was taking a lot of brain medicine, just to function, and he was a total basket case. I felt sorry for him, but the sympathy kind of ran out when I realized, how dare he bring this to a production that took better than five years to get going? Busey just totally fucked us. He didn’t know his lines. We had a meeting that night to discuss the problem, but Busey got ugly, he threatened my fiancée Kelly—he threatened to have her banned from the set because she looked at him wrong, or something. It was like, he was going to ban Kelly from my set? Okay, Gary, you are on the next flight back! I’ve never seen my dad angrier. I didn’t want Dad to hit Gary and kill him. That’s what we were worried about. So we basically fired Gary to save him. My dad stepped in and played the role.”

Regarding John Milius, circa Red Dawn: I had this very emotional scene after I had just witnessed the assassination of this whole group, and right before the take Milius came up to me. I was expecting some very philosophical advice. He says, “Listen, I didn’t hire any pussies on this movie. I know you’re not a pussy, so get out there and kick ass.”

I also compiled another handy laundry list of highlights, which I’ve reposted here:

-He’s a poet, and further research reveals that his work was published in the book A Peace of My Mind, featuring illustrations from his future Chase director Adam Rifkin. A third-party merchant on Amazon is selling it for the low, low price of $199.50 !

-Navy SEALS was apparently hyped as the next Top Gun. Its box office returns and what I’ve seen of the film points to the contrary.

-He was totally starstruck by Eastwood.

-He served as director of photography on Nobody’s Heroes, a “Vietnam epic” written and directed by Chris Penn.

-After failing to show up at school after an absence with an excuse slip, his English teacher refused to allow him to take a test for the class, which he was failing. He crumpled up the test, threw it at her, knocking off her glasse, and told her “that she was lucky I hadn’t killed her yet.” He denies this was an “attack.”

-Martin Sheen is quite the strict father. He carried Chuck off to church after his first arrest, where things successively turned worse for him (marijuana possession leading to possession of a deadly weapon). Later, he went on a shopping bender after stealing a few credit card numbers from a hotel lobby garbage bin while Martin was filming The Dead Zone. The best story, however, is when he paid $10 for the answers to his biology final and tried to make a case that they were attacking him with “defamation of character.” He told his mother what he had done, who then told his father, who forced him to “personally write a letter of apology to every head of every department at every school across the nation.” Kind of an exaggeration if you ask me.

-John Milius made him a gun nut. Kelly Preston, his once fiancee, was injured by one of his guns in a mishap that he was not a part of but felt completely guilty about.

-What People considered his “black book” of romantic conquests was really a napkin. According to Sheen, tabloids are “eunuchs at an orgy.”

-After getting wind of an Orion or Hemdale suit who thought he was trouble and suggested Oliver Stone fire him from Platoon, he trashed his hotel room and caused $3,100 in damages. Stone told him to curb his drinking, then forgot about the pact weeks later.

-Johnny Depp influenced him to start smoking.

-On hitting the sauce: “As far as drinking and working, I haven’t had a problem with that. Well, there were a couple of times, but it didn’t seem to make any sense because I lost the edge. When I get on the set I feel like I’ve got the edge, and alcohol or drugs make it tough to maintain that.” He says that he had an epiphany filming Wall Street with a bad hangover one day. Mind you, this is 1990. Things haven’t changed.

Felix directs us to news mirroring a real-life Machete: Steven Seagal, along with Lou Ferrigno, Mission: Impossible strongman (and the original Nordberg) Peter Lupus, retired Chicago cop Dick Tracy, and Wyatt Earp, nephew of the famed gunslinger, are part of a volunteer “border posse” in Arizona, tracking down illegal aliens in the state.

On page 1402, he reports that a Bloodsport remake is in the works. Even in these early stages, it’s safe to say no one will replace the immortal Donald Gibb. More troubling news comes later in the page: an English-language, 3D remake of John Woo’s The Killer is in the works. The talent seems to be a far cry from the aborted Walter Hill take from the 90’s with Richard Gere and Denzel Washington, but the news is still troubling for one of the all-time greats being rebooted.

This poppycock leads to a discussion of untouchable greats—the ones that nobody in their right mind should ever touch again. Among the selections: Hard Boiled, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Godfather, The Road Warrior, The Usual Suspects, The Thing, Layer Cake, Scarface (a re-remake, that is), Jaws, Dirty Harry, Alien, Once Upon a Time in America, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Erix revisits Road House, and it’s “still as fun as ever to watch Swayze kick the shit out of Ben Gazarra and then frolic with Kelly Lynch at the lake.”

Rene is more enraptured by the forgotten NBC X-Files cash-in Dark Skies than Mad Men. However, he’s been very taken with his marathoning of The Shield.

Fat Elvis is also quickly burrowing through The Sopranos (which I plan to finally start soon), as I enter the home stretch on Deadwood.

ED209 discusses his current kick on Euro crime and Western films.

Wadew1 declares Bruce Willis “truly lost” after his appearance as second banana to Kanye West in a Robert Rodriguez-directed Nike commercial.

In terms of new discoveries, I marveled at John Frankenheimer’s The Challenge, and Felix experienced the glory of Action Jackson for the first time. How did he like his ribs? He loved it, as anyone in their right mind should.

The big discovery, however, is made by Rene. As a background, The Man of Forgiving Tastes has long sought after “Don’t Double Cross the Ones You Love,” Ruben Blades’ powerful ballad from the soundtrack to Sidney Lumet’s very underrated Q & A (the opening theme, as Erix so adamantly points out), to no avail. Lo and behold, this week, Rene discovered that not only is the song actually titled “The Hit,” it originally appeared on the Predator 2 co-star’s 1988 album Nothing But the Truth. The song—and the album—are available on iTunes, and if you’re like Rene or myself, you’ll drop down 99 cents on this illustrious hidden gem at your earliest convenience.

Erix provided a very valid take on the song and its significance:

…it’s a miracle they get you to sit through the movie that follows. It helps that it opens with a disgusting Nick Nolte blowing someone’s brains out during the pre-credits sequence.


I’ve always been obsessed with that song. I love how Blades reminds us that it’s even more important not to double cross the ones we need.

I also like that he tries to make it sound like a Peter Gabriel song.

He fails. But the intention is there. I appreciate that.

And if you haven’t seen Q & A, here’s our man Rene with a sales pitch you can’t argue:

If you want to see Nick Nolte grab a transvestite by the junk, and ask a semi nude Paul Calderon for a “blow” then strangle him with the strap from a robe, and start lusting after a crossdresser, then Q & A is for you, Perfect. Also for seeing Armand Assante play a guy named BOBBY TEX, and Luis Guzman with his awesome pot belly. Yeah, Q & A is great. A little overlong, but still great.

Page 1403 encounters a dry patch early on, opening with The Perfect Weapon’s recount of his disastrous first experience with Four Loko—that dangerous alcoholic beverage which has brought us one step closer to the harsh possible reality of something as treacherous as RoboCop 2’s Nuke.

Rene takes in a viewing of Sydney Pollack’s last film, The Interpreter, which leads to a discussion of his filmmaking techniques and the director of many great films like The Yakuza and 3 Days of the Condor.

Felix gives a first look at Deadly Crossing, the first of a series of films edited together from the Steven Seagal TV series True Justice:

Just saw Seagal’s Deadly Crossing. It’s actually two episodes of Seagal’s True Justice TV series edited together (and it shows). It’s decent enough. Though not The Shield by any means. No Seagal dubbing here. The Sensei has 3-4 fight scenes in total. All done in typical Seagal DTV fashion. In overall its definitely worth a look. Though I am not sure if you should watch it on a weekly basis.

Given that he supposedly tends to be the type who gets out of bed at noon and only works till three, perhaps this could be as good as it gets right now.

Dolph Lundgren enthusiast Jox gives an update on Synapse’s restoration and preparation for a Blu-ray release of Dolph’s 1989 actioner Red Scorpion, posting a very nice-looking still hinted at by Synapse:

Lookin’ good. Hopefully, very soon many (including I) will be able to experience this treasure among the legendary Mr. Lundgren’s perfect body (pun intended) of work.

If you’re a regular in the thread, you’re well aware that John Flynn’s (no relation to me) Rolling Thunder has become available at long last on a manufactured-on-demand program via MGM. It’s $19.98 on Amazon; no matter whether you want to wait for a better price or jump at it now, the film is a must for anyone who posts in the thread and for all fans of 70’s revenge cinema.

Erix revisits Joel Schumacher’s 8MM, best known for a supposedly excellent screenplay whose flaws made it…well, just a really flawed, sleazy, disturbing mess of a film:

You have a thing for Nic Cage and his campy throwback pictures, don’t you Elvis? You were also one of Knowing‘s biggest champions. And I guess Next has some of that same vibe to it. I just hate that it doesn’t really have an ending. You can’t really do what they do in that movie at the end and expect people to come away totally satisfied. But it is a fun ride while you’re watching it.

But I think I can be sort of in agreement with you about the “cult classic” status of these films. Basically, I’ve come to see that Nic Cage is definitely our premiere camp actor right now. He already has The Wicker Man, right?

But I recently revisited Joel Schumacher’s terrible film 8MM. And I must say it has definitely aged like a fine wine and become an almost unbearable festival of gut-busting camp. I was screaming with laughter during that early scene where Cage first watches the snuff film. The way he flinches and reacts to a girl getting slapped is just amazing. And how he proceeds to breathe heavily and bite his fist and go into convulsions is a master class in overacting. Even Christopher Lee is taking a pause from one of his Hammer Films death scenes to go: Dude… slow down.

To say nothing of the entire ridiculous plot and the way it unfolds… That climax with Peter Stormare as THE JIM JARMUSCH OF PORN… The way he acts… The fact he has a crossbow. The whole showdown with Anthony Heald.

That thing with Cage: I’M TRYING TO UNDERSTAND!!!!! WHY????BecauseheCOULD. Because. Hecould. Because he could.

And then later, Stormare expires while lamenting that his death should be more cinematic. And it’s hilarious because he’s right. I mean, his character is practically a Bond villain. He should go out in a fiery explosion.

The laughs just don’t stop coming!

Cage in an aggressive whisper asking the girl’s mother for permission to punish the evildoers. I WANT TO HURT THEM. I WANT TO PUNISH THEM… TELL ME HOW MUCH SHE MEANT TO YOU!

…Ohhh!!! Awww!!! I… (SOB) LOVED HER SO MUUUCH!!!

And then smash cut to Cage upon Gandolfini like a snarling beast.

And that last bit…

You were expecting a monster? Sorry to disappoint you. I am just a normal guy.

Dude! You’re this bald, fat asshole in his forties who lives with his mom (who’s a nun) in a house by the cemetery! NORMAL??? Jesus!

Yes. I used to hate 8MM. Now it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe they expected this to be a hard-hitting disturbing thriller when it came out.

The Perfect Weapon takes one for the team and watches the MMA action epic Locked Down. Is it good? Bai Ling plays a prison guard. Choose wisely.

Page 1404 starts with Moltisanti softening up to reveal that he ordered this toy for his nephew’s birthday alongside his requisite Rolling Thunder DVD:

We close the week with this very appropriate Valentine’s Day card:

THE MIND OF RENE F. RANGEL

“Speaking of works of art, I’m watching Showgirls. I saw it a few months back on Netflix Instant, but Hunter convinced me to spring for the Blu-ray, since it was only $7.99 on Amazon, and how could I pass up seeing Verhoeven’s brilliant piece of shit again. In HD!”

“I’d be up for another TMNT movie. Coincidentally, The Blu-ray set of the trilogy plus the CGI one got lost in the mail on it’s way over to me, and it’s been over a month, so I called Barnes And Noble, and they offered to ship me another one with 1-3 day shipping for free. Pretty cool of them to do that.”

“I also got in Luther spies on the President doing cunnilingus on a woman aka Absolute Power. Sadly the case got completely fucked on the way to me, but the disc is ok, and the guy has said he’ll refund all 3 dollars and change that I spent on it. Win win for me. I’ll be watching it in a bit so I can finally see it all the way through.”

“I’ve always loved 8MM for being a depraved piece of cinema. …. I love the Arabic influenced score since it’s such a different score than you would hear in this movie. There’s also Cage asking Anthony Heald if he held the old man’s cock in his hand and gave him a hand job while he watched the movie.”

THIS WEEK’S MOVIE

ERIX IS ENCHANTED BY THE LAST BOY SCOUT

Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You’re gonna lose.

Smile, you fuck.

Not many action films begin with a tacky TV-style football intro while Bill Medley sings an obnoxious theme song that has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie. But that’s one of the details that make The Last Boy Scout so special. In some ways, I guess it brings to mind how James Bond movies typically begin with an obnoxious title sequence while some pop star sings a tune that is only vaguely connected to the film (usually by title only). This extended title sequence usually follows an arresting action set piece that serves as a teaser of sorts. Well… Here, the “teaser” follows the credit sequence. And, to this day, I kind of wish Tony Scott had done it the other way around because it’s definitely an engaging way to open a movie.

As Michael Kamen’s music swells with its accustomed pomp and circumstace, Billy Blanks runs down a football field and fires several bullets into his opponents before turning the gun on himself and blowing his brains out all over the final yard line. It’s the sort of thing where you know to expect the unexpected.

Bill Medley prepares you to expect the unexpected

Although only cited by real hard-core enthusiasts, this is one of Bruce Willis’s best films. Shane Black’s script applies the Lethal Weapon buddy formula to an odd hybrid that combines the testosterone of pro Football with the overwrought machismo of a hard boiled detective yarn; and peppers the mix with car chases, shootouts and explosions. It’s also the most purely fun, popcorn movie in Tony Scott’s catalog. It’s a completely unpretentious comic book made back before he developed epilepsy and wanted to make sure all his viewers had it too. True Romance might be Scott’s best film from an artistic perspective, but this is definitely his best entertainment. And probably the last time he was ever just out for laughs.

Tony Scott knows how to party when he isn't dicking around.

I love the detail that it has. Although, on the surface, it seems pretty shallow (and has often been misidentified as misogynist*) – there is complexity there. And Black’s script inserts plenty of nuance in between the quotable quips. There is great economy in how the heroes are introduced. We first see Bruce Willis looking like death and sleeping off the mother of all hangovers in his car, while a bunch of fucking kids dump a dead squirrel on him. So, basically, no dialog or exposition is needed to establish that this is one fucked up individual.

Cut to Damon Wayans as Jimmy Dix. And the look in his eyes as he glances at the girl on the bed is all we need to know he’s been naughty. But, just for good measure, he goes to the bathroom and pops some pills to numb the guilt.

The movie then proceeds to be the very opposite of subtle – the plot is set in motion with Bruce McGill being blown to smithereens – but it’s this attention to showing rather than telling, this layered approach to the characters, that remains present throughout and betrays the movie’s trashy reputation.

Which is not to say it isn’t trashy. It’s an overblown action picture full of blood and brimstone, with foul-mouthed pre-teens, close-ups of bullet wounds and a flamboyant villain, played by Taylor Negron, who basically suggests a Bennett who shops at Saks and eats at Spago.

A word about the villains in this film… Love them. It is, I think, Bruno’s most interesting rogues gallery outside of Die Hard. The film is cast so well that these minor characters only get, like, a scene a piece and leave a lasting impression. The most famous one is probably the cackling asshole played by Kim Coates in the very celebrated scene that I like to call THE KIM COATES SCENE.

"COP OUT SUCKED!"

But my favorite is Badja Djola as THE PIMP WHO LOVES BAD JOKES. He’s got a great face and this awesome voice. The way he says: “Fuck you, man” is almost musical.

Badja Djola’s scene is also important in illustrating one of the film’s oddest aspects. The character of Joe Hollenbeck is presented as an asshole with a heart of gold. But we are also told, from the beginning, that he is a funny guy. I’ve always found the two scenes where he disarms the bad guys by telling them jokes to be really odd. Because the jokes he tells are not particularly funny. And yet, there they are grinning and guffawing like the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I guess the point must be that they have such a shitty sense of humor, they deserve to die.

It's good to face all hardships with a smile.

Which is not to say Bruce Willis isn’t funny or that there aren’t tons of great lines. In fact, revisiting it again this week, I was struck by just how funny he was. And lamented once again how stiff he’s become in movies where he’s supposed to be funny like Red or the dreadful Cop Out.

Since I first saw this movie on video, back when widescreen was considered an abomination in the eyes of God, I was not able to properly appreciate Tony Scott’s great compositions. Like I said before, this was made back when Tony Scott just wanted to make his films look like films, not advertisements for the effects of Parkinson’s Disease on the human psyche, so the movie looks great and you are given plenty of time to appreciate all the memorable images. Of which there are many.

"When I suggested we carpool, this isn't what I meant"

Some people have criticized the movie for being “an action movie that doesn’t really have that much action.” But people who say that honestly don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. There is no shortage of high-octane action in the movie and the climactic moments of the film, with Damon Wayans riding a stallion on the football field while Bruce Willis and Taylor Negron duke it out on the lighting platform, are pretty damn electrifying.

There is one element that I have not praised yet and that’s Damon Wayans. This was his first major movie role. And I don’t think he gets enough props for how good he is in it. He creates a likable character (who starts out as a bit of a dick) that is easy to empathize with. There is a moment in the film, let’s call it THE BATHROOM SCENE, where he is able to turn a rather corny bit of character exposition into something genuinely emotional and moving. And later, in his scenes with Danielle Harris (as Hollenbeck’s trash-talking daughter), when the film morphs into an R-rated Disney movie for about 15 minutes, you are genuinely engaged. They actually touch fingers through a window pane at one point and, rather than throw a beer bottle at my screen in disgust, I smiled. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to ruin my TV. It was because I cared. Seriously.

Jimmy Dix gives The Last Boy Scout two snaps up...IN A CIRCLE!

I cared enough to be distracted from the fact that I have, in subsequent years, thought about the remote possibility of perhaps having sexual intercourse with Danielle Harris. (The NOW Danielle Harris! For Heaven’s sake, what do you think I am?).

"She'll be screwing 'em by the time she's fourteen"

Parting thoughts… The Last Boy Scout is a tremendous movie. But if all I have said thus far is not enough, consider that Halle Berry is only in it for about 7 minutes, which is precisely how long she needs to be in it and not a second longer (more movies could benefit from this underuse of Halle Berry, in fact) and she has never looked more delicious.

Also consider that Rick Ducommun has a great role as a man who gets shot in the head while talking on the phone.

Still not convinced?

Well… Fuck you then.

* - The film has been criticized as misogynist probably because of the subplot involving Hollenbeck’s wife (Chelsea Field) and her infidelity. And because of the fact that she caves in and weepily begs for forgiveness at the film’s conclusion. But they forget that the movie makes it clear that Hollenbeck’s attitude in marriage pushed her towards that infidelity, a fact he’s well aware of and acknowledges by the end. You could also make a case about how the other two women characters in the film (Berry and an anonymous woman who Chelcie Ross wants to forcibly fuck in his office bathroom) are victims. But damsel-in-distress syndrome is hardly exclusive to this film. And it’s not necessarily misogynist, just silly.

RENE’S TAKE

I remember ads for The Last Boyscout being on the inside, and the back of a lot of DC comics that I bought back in the day. I thought it looked cool, but I’ve never been a fan of football (my parents like sports, but my Dad has never been one to sit down and watch sports games on tv, so it was never something I felt I needed to do.) Although most sports I like, I played Bronco league baseball, and played 4 years of Golf in high school, I never played basketball on a team, but I liked playing it recreationally. Same thing with Soccer. Never football though. I’ve always hated football. Ever since my brother changed the channel on the single tv we had in the house, so he could see his Dallas Cowboys game, and I was watching my beloved cartoons.

The fact that football played such a big part in the movie didn’t really win me over to tugging on my Dad’s arm and telling him I wanted to see it. I did that the following year when I begged my parents to take me to see Lethal Weapon 3 on opening day, (they did), and again when Die Hard With A Vengeance was released 3 years later. (We saw this one the saturday after release day).

I first saw The Last Boyscout several years ago via the old Warner Bros. Dvd that I rented from the videostore that I would frequent, that just closed down this past September.

The opening sequence of The Last Boyscout is something else. A nervous player does a play, takes out a pistol and starts shooting other players, then offs himself. This movie is about football? I don’t think so. It’s about Joe Hallenbeck. A burnt out former Secret Service agent turned P.I. who is always drunk and never at a loss for a comeback zinger. We also get to know football player Jimmy Dix. A drug addled player who is trying to hang onto his glory.

Bruce Willis who at this point was known for playing everyman heroes, plays Hallenback as an asshole who is actually quite likable. His life is in the shitter, his wife is cheating on him, and his daughter hates him.

Noble Willingham plays the arch villain, and comedian Taylor Negron plays Milo, the real threat in the movie. Taylor Negron was mostly known as a character actor comedian. Here he plays a dastardly villain who always calls everyone by their given name. The Last Boyscout is full of high octane action and jokes that will keep you laughing through the bloody carnage. It’s so sad that this movie is basically a blip on the action radar. It has so much going for it that it’s amazing it didn’t clean house when it was released back in 1991. Perhaps it was still the sting of The Bonfire Of The Vanities flop for Bruno, or maybe it’s just because people weren’t ready for this movie. The movie is damn great, and anyone who hasn’t seen it and is a fan of action owes it to themselves to see this movie. It’s a buried treasure that deserves to be dug up and seen by more people.

Mike’s Take:

The sky is blue, water is wet, women have secrets.

The moment Tony Scott presents us with an in-your-face riff on the late 80’s/early 90’s intro to Monday Night Football, The Last Boy Scout heralds itself in many ways as the first full-fledged action event of the 90’s. Its genetic makeup is pure, baroque excess—the extreme violence, the nonstop profanity, the blatant misogyny.

Might I add, this is precisely why I think this is an absolutely brilliant and staggeringly badass film, something that I’d argue without hesitation is on the same level as the original Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies in terms of merit. I was eleven when I first watched my stepfather’s recorded copy of the film. I had just marathoned all of the Die Hard movies a few weeks earlier, so I was at a point where Bruce Willis was basically God. It also helped that I loved watching In Living Color reruns on FX in the late 90’s and had recently watched (and highly enjoyed…at the time) Bulletproof, so Damon Wayans only made the deal sweeter.

With the exception of John McClane and Butch Coolidge, Joe Hallenbeck might very well be the most awesome character Bruce Willis has ever embodied. Hallenbeck is a thoroughly nihilistic and unapologetic fuckup of a gumshoe who makes Elliott Gould’s added, meandering Marlowe from The Long Goodbye look like one of the Hardy Boys in comparison. Remember how badly McClane had let himself go at the beginning of Die Hard with a Vengeance? That’s exactly what Hallenbeck is like and then some. Then there’s Damon Wayans at the height of his Homey D. Clown-assisted popularity as Jimmy Dix, who’s just as much of a moral void as Hallenbeck, except he has enough money to afford $600 leather pants. Naturally, the chemistry between Hallenbeck and Dix is a bipolar wonder, as they bounce wildly from best friends to hateful rivals at the drop of a hat. How else can you explain that Hallenbeck threatens sodomy by umbrella to Dix and moments later have to match wits with the bad guys without hating on each other?

Shane Black’s screenplay is a shining beacon, and far and beyond any of his other works, it’s the most venomous and cynical he’s ever written. The one-liners are endless and hilariously vulgar, and this is where the film shines, its cavalcade of mean-spiritedness. I love that there’s a murder-suicide during a televised football game.

That Hallenbeck refuses to give up cracking jokes about a pimp’s fat wife even when faced with a Desert Eagle at point blank range.

That Hallenbeck’s tween daughter is just as much of an immoral vulgarian as her father.

That Kim Coates’ dispatching is the funniest fucking thing ever…

…until the epic way that Taylor Negron buys it at the end, a never-ending series of bad things in the tradition of the Arsenio Hall scene in Amazon Women on the Moon.

This movie needed a Hallenbeck/Dix franchise. We need more movies like this. We need Tony Scott to return to something of this caliber. As for now, it’s the most  perfect movie for us to look at on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday and if you even look at this funny, we’ll shove an umbrella up your ass and open it.

ICON OF THE WEEK

RENE SALUTES: SHANE BLACK

Shane Black is sadly, not a household name. He damn well should be. If you’re a fan of action, or B-Action, his name should be as well known to you as Steven E. DeSouza., another B-Action screenwriter.

Shane Black started out like most people wanting to break into Hollywood, as a guy wanting to be an actor. On advice from the guy who directed Robocop 3 and Night Of The Creeps, Fred Dekker, he decided to try his hand at screenwriting. At the age of 23 (fuck, I’m pushing 27 and I wish I could say I’ve done something similar to what I’m about to type) he wrote LETHAL WEAPON in six weeks, and sold it for $250,000.

Lethal Weapon. Quite possibly one of the most original movies ever made, and jump started the buddy comedy genre. Especially the “grizzled old cop and the hotshot rookie” Lethal Weapon (which is being remade) is right up there with Die Hard (I’m going to resurrect Alexander Godunov and send him after the slimy bastards that dare to remake this) as a pinnacle of action cinema.

He co-wrote the story for Lethal Weapon 2, and I want to believe that he’s the one who decided to further Riggs’ story arc and have Vorstedt be the man who killed Riggs’ wife. Some may think it’s too coincidental, but it’s a sad yet effective plot twist, and moments later is turned into rage tenfold with Riggs’ discovery of Rika.

He worked a lot in the early to mid 90’s making more money with each successive script. He wrote this week’s piece, the severely underrated, The Last Boyscout for  $1.75 million, $1 million for the equally underrated Last Action Hero (this movie is a genius parody of action movies that was misunderstood when it was first made). Then he hit a career high with a $4 million dollar payday for The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Black has admitted that despite making millions off of these screenplays, that they were often re-written to the point of not resembling his original screenplays. Shit, if it was me, I’d say they could do whatever they want to the damn script for that much money.

He has been rumored to have been a script doctor for many films, but it wasn’t until 2005 when he made his directorial debut with the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that he returned to getting full credit for a screenplay that he wrote. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang wasn’t a large hit (it should have been), but it was a great return to form for him. His trademark wit was all over it, and of course like all of his other scripts, it was a buddy action comedy.

Lately he’s been known for rumors that he beat his ex girlfriend brutally enough to put her in a hospital, then sneaked into her bed, snorted cocaine, and jerked off. Probably bullshit that she was spouting, and since she sued him, he counter sued her saying she was the violent one.

He’s had a long gestating Doc Savage script that he wants to get made, and he’s currently prepping a movie called Death Note that he will direct as well as write. Aside from Lethal Weapon, all of the movies he has written, were not big hits at the cinema, but they have turned quite a profit on the video circuit, and are now widely hailed as action classics.

Shane Black has even done what he set out to be, acting, most notably as one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s team in Predator. He had the memorable role of Hawkins, the radio man. He’s the picture used for this icon piece. He’s a good natured guy who reads Sgt. Rock comics, and is also the first one to get killed. He also has a penchant for telling Billy jokes about his girlfriend’s pussy. As evidenced by this classic line “I told my girlfriend that I wanted a little pussy, and she said me too. Mine’s as big as a house!” to which Billy doesn’t respond, and Hawkins tries to explain it with “Y’see, she wants a little pussy….because her’s…as big as a house…..” Then Hawkins finally makes Billy laugh  (in the iconic Sonny Landham laugh that the Predator imitates before it’s self destruct) with “Last night,  I was banging my girlfriend and I said Jeez you gotta big pussy, Jeez you gotta big pussy! She said why did you say it twice? I said I didn’t.” A part of me wants to believe that those jokes were ad libbed by Shane Black himself, and it seems readily evident with a lot of the jokes that are put in stuff like Lethal Weapon (Let’s get the flock out of here!) and especially in The Last Boyscout. (Why did Mr. Milo cross the road?  I don’t know. Why? Because his dick was stuck in a chicken!)

For these reasons, and many more, we should all be thankful to Shane Black for creating such fine characters and movies for them to run around spouting great dialogue and shooting things up. If only those damn suits over at Warner Bros. would realize that they should make his Lethal Weapon 5 script rather than remake the first movie.