COMPILED BY ERIX ANTOINE
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)
Hey all! Rene here with the latest round up for The B-Action Thread. The place where every member must implode in their pants over an action movie. Or over Sly Stallone, or Stephen Lang, or a woman.
The action starts on 1466 and ends on 1468.
felix mentions Scott Adkins’ Twitter account and how he said that Universal Soldier 4 will be using the same 3D cameras that the new Spider-Man film is using. As John Hammond would say “We’ve spared no expense!”
felix also tells us that we finally hit the milestone of 3 million views! That’s a major milestone, and we’re all extremely happy. Here’s to the next million, and all the millions after that.
I posted the first clip to all of the sequences for the old Sega CD game that basically began the ESRB ratings board. I’m talking about NIGHT TRAP!
HunterTarantino has another meltdown over me buying Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King on Blu-ray.
I’ve been out all day at a barbecue, but something very, very wrong has just happened, and I need to address this matter right now.
Rene, we can get past watching Omen IV: The Awakening on Instant because, after all, it’s virtually free. We can forgive watching Sega CD FMV films on your spare time out of morbid curiosity. But buying an Uwe Boll movie on Blu-ray, no matter if it was $10 or $600, is just fucking wrong. You’ve outdone the living shit out of yourself this time, sir.
It pains me to say this, but you may need an intervention. This is a path that may lead to worse things, like reappraising Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and going to shocking extremes to have the government change July 4 from Independence Day to Red Heat Day. Not that this troubles me, but you cannot be oblivious to this feat being nothing short of a milestone.
All hail the Man of Forgiving Tastes.
Erix revisits Backdraft and spurs a conversation on it.
So… Last night, I revisited a favorite from my teenage years. Backdraft. Though not really an “action” movie, it is a thriller and I was wondering what its standing was amongst the locals… I hadn’t seen it in some time and had a thrilling evening watching it. It’s an exceptional B Movie – almost a 50s melodrama… But it’s given superior treatment by Ron Howard and most of the performances are 100% on point. They sell the cheesy elements of Gregory Widen’s formulaic story with real conviction, and you buy into it.
Released the same year as Silence Of The Lambs, I was a bit taken aback this time by how similar Donald Sutherland’s character is to Hannibal Lecter. Goofier, yes. But there is a real power to his two scenes with De Niro and Billy Baldwin that manages to have some of that same energy. Furthermore… It’s a bit odd to consider that he also portrays a character that shares similarities with the character he would play later that same year in JFK. As in – he’s the guy who asks the important questions that lead the hero towards the truth.
Anyway… Great movie. Really.
The score by Hans Zimmer is triumphant… Maybe one of his best. And the special effects are tremendous. The movie still looks spectacular 20 years later. I didn’t see Ladder 49. But I really don’t think this world has been handled in so compelling a fashion. Not before or since.
So… agree? Disagree? Discuss.
Hunter weighs on Backdraft as well.
Admittedly, I have to revisit Backdraft (as I’ve probably discussed with you before). It’s been a good 10 years since I’ve seen it, but I do remember thoroughly enjoying it. You’re very right that it is a very classy melodrama that doesn’t piss its plight down the viewer’s mouth, which is something that Ladder 49 is hellbent on doing.
Do us all a favor (even if Rene is going to read this and may get the idea to) and never watch that movie. It was a film that I went to see solely because my parents were seeing it that night and I had jack shit to do, and in all honesty, it’s fucking horrible. The lengths of cloying with the viewer that the film goes to is sickening, with Travolta stumbling over his attempts to scream out for awards and Phoenix doing the same on a less profound level. Also, if you hate extremely manipulative music, this film will be your enemy.
For anyone who has seen it, I know that the ending is kind of a real life thing and going the other way would have been too manipulative, but in the grand scheme of the film, like Phenomenon, it ends up being a feel-good movie with a fuck-you ending. Maybe it’s just me who thinks this, but after watching the whole thing, the ending just served as sort of an excuse to tell the movie to go fuck itself after being a bitch to watch the whole time.
My one-word review of Ladder 49: Hackdraft.
Not for the pun or because Backdraft was clearly superior (it is, and I think that was the MAD parody too), but because the screenplay is a hack job of a draft of a composition.
Fuck Ladder 49. Let’s remember the real heroes of the world on Memorial Day, not that dude Joaquin Phoenix played.
All this, and Stephen Lang was supposed to play Travolta’s role before ol’ Tony Manero showed interest in it. Come on guys.
I have my take, which goes against the grain.
Surprisingly I have to go against the general consensus on Backdraft and say that I didn’t like it. It was too long, and I found it to be boring, aside from Hans Zimmer’s score. “You Go, We Go.” is one epic track, but the movie itself, save for the aforementioned crazy Sutherland, didn’t grab me. I got the SE dvd at the pawnshop, then offloaded it. Vanessa has it now. Perhaps I’ll revisit it one day, but not anytime soon.
Fat Elvis has his words on the movie.
BACKDRAFT is an old fashioned throwback of an Action movie. It came out at a time I was a bit of a snob, but I could never hate it. A big part of that is Kurt Russell (“You go, we go.”- fuck yeah!) And Scott Glenn. The whole cast is great really. The fire sequences were impressive at the time, and the F/X holds up pretty well last time I watched (I bought the Special Edition DVD on a whim, the only Ron Howard I’ll allow in my collection) On a disappointing personal note: movie put “have sex with a hot girl on top of a firetruck” on my before I die to do list, but so far no go.
After this, a short discussion on Wyatt Earp happens that is started by kain424
I finally decided to watch Wyatt Earp. Kevin Costner’s retelling of the classic western hero story. Long, meandering, and totally off base, it is NOT a good film. It’s excellently shot and has some great performances, but Tombstone easily kicks its ass. Can’t believe I sat through that whole thing.
I tossed in my 2 cents.
Isn’t Wyatt Earp like 3 and a half hours or something? I may sit through it one day.
Erix had this to say.
Heh… Wyatt Earp. Made back when Costner seemed to think that Dances With Wolves Oscar was given to him because of length.
In fact, I think he still thinks that. I’m pretty sure even Swing Vote was like 135 minutes or something.
I can see how they thought Wyatt Earp was a slam dunk, though. Costner reteaming with his Silverado director for an epic western about a legendary hero. And look at that cast!
I think it’s a noble film. But there was no need for it to be so goddamn long. Plus, Dennis Quaid is very good as Doc Holiday. But he had to follow Val Kilmer. And that was rough.
Yeah… I prefer the meat & potatoes approach of Tombstone. It gets the job done a lot better.
Perfect Weapon posts a trailer.
Here’s his description.
No wonder why he LOL’ed. A magical Celtic cross? Vinnie Jones as an Immortal who says things like, “I CON’T DIE!”, “Satan in a stick”, magical glowing balls that look to be related to what John Malkovich used in Jonah Hex…what a terrible-looking motion picture, and yet it has a cast like the aforementioned Jones, Mr. Megan Fox in the lead (c’mon, that’s what his name is now), C. Thomas Howell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Sizemore, Robert Carradine, Jake “Dirty Sanchez” Busey, and even William Zabka. It’s a shame that they couldn’t make a GOOD DTV action movie. But, if anyone wants to watch the movie and take a bullet, I won’t judge you.
Jox posts this toy that we all wish was real.
felix posts this video on Seagal’s latest DTV movie to be made out of that tv series he did that didn’t get picked up.
Erix has this funny memory spurred by it.
German Steven Seagal somehow manages to sound more eloquent. And meaner, in a way.
This reminds me of a discussion I once had with my aunt (who lives in Argentina). She moved there in 1984. So she was not in the US when Miami Vice started airing. She first saw the show on Argentinean TV and dubbed in Spanish. She liked Don Johnson’s dubbed voice. And was disappointed to discover his real voice when she finally saw the show in its original language… “He sounded like he had spent the entire morning gargling with a combination of whiskey and helium”
I hate dubbing on principle. But that’s a funny way to describe Don Johnson’s voice. Not sure what it means.
Blabedaboutmars posts this picture of this strapping gentleman from Drive Angry (Shot in 3D!)
I saw the movie, Feed. Here’s my quick take on it.
Watching the movie, Feed on Netflix Instant. It’s playing out like a feature length version of a Millennium episode. It’s about an Australian cop who travels to Ohio to take down a degenerate who gets off on feeding obese women to death. Known about it for quite some time, and it’s been on my Instant list for a while, but I decided to finally get to seeing a lot of the movies that have just been sitting in my list.
Erix chimes in with this.
I watched Saló with my cousin … When the big scene arrived. And, if you’ve seen it, I think you know what I’m referring to – besides both of us doing a slight double take, my cousin turns to me and goes: “Why aren’t these people projectile vomiting?” To this day, the reason he doesn’t “like” Saló is because of its lack of realism.
Give us a break. We were teenagers. We couldn’t appreciate Pasolini’s Brechtian approach to storytelling.
Iambaytor posts this description for a Robert Hays directed movie that sounds like a gift from the movie Gods.
Last night I watched a movie pretty much tailor-made for Rene: She-Wolves of the Wasteland or Pheonix the Warrior as it was originally known. It’s about a post-apocalyptic world where man has become extinct. The movie seems to have this criteria. “It’s been 5 minutes, is there A)a gunfight going on?, B)two scantily clad women rolling around on the ground fighting each other?, C)one or more topless women on screen?” Of course the answer is always yes. What’s really amazing his that despite how often the movie seems to remind us “Hey, this would make a really good porno” (which is often) it’s actually not a bad little post-apocalypse movie. It slots in somewhere between Hell Comes to Frogtown and Six-String Samurai nicely. It also helps that star Kathleen Kinmont was, is, and will ever be extremely hot. I see now that after this movie she was in a spiritual sequel called Roller Blade Warriors which reads like She-Wolves of the Wastleand + roller skates. I must hunt this down next.
dude hallenbeck brings us news that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been taken out of Jee Woon Kim’s The Last Stand, and has been replaced by Sly Stallone.
X-Men: First Class becomes a hot conversation, and we all pretty much agree that it’s a great movie. I myself saw it yesterday and can attest that it’s an amazing movie, and the best James Bond movie never made.
I finally saw Takers, and aside from Hayden Christensen looking extra douchebaggy thanks to his looking silly in that pork pie hat (only Popeye Doyle could make it stylish) the movie itself was pretty good.
HunterTarantino informs us that he will be doing a podcast with the 2 awesome gents that I did a podcast with back in March. The Director’s Club Podcast with Mr. Patrick Ripoll and Mr. Jim Laczkowski. The subject is action director Walter Hill.
THE MIND OF RENE F. RANGEL
2 weeks ago, Vanessa came over to print out some stuff for her nephew’s birthday, and I re-enacted the scene between Harrison Ford and Henry Czerny from Clear And Present Danger. I even crumpled up a paper and said “YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL PAL!” She was laughing a lot.
THIS WEEK’S MOVIE
RENE REVISITS WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE… AT THE BEHEST OF HIS COLLEAGUES
I’ll be honest, this past sunday, I took part in a Skype conversation with Mike and Erix, and discussed Wanted: Dead Or Alive, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I got the Anchor Bay double feature of it and Death Before Dishonor, back in 2008 solely because it was held in such high regard on CHUD. Mostly for the awesome kill that happens to Gene Simmons.
Revisiting it for the for the first time since I saw it in 2008 for this Column entry, I have to say, I noticed things I hadn’t previously. Such as it being directed by Gary Sherman. He who directed the underrated British horror film, Raw Meat, Poltergeist III, or as it should be known, Tom Skerritt vs. snow covered possessed cars and mirror demons!As well as Vice Squad: Ramrod’s Vengeance.
The movie starts off with Hauer the bounty hunter going after a mark, then we’re introduced to Gene Simmons showing up at an airport terminal looking like the world’s seediest Rabbi. Turns out that this fine upstanding Jewish singer turned actor is playing an Arab terrorist who was disguising himself as a Rabbi. The beard he’s sporting also looks incredibly fake, but it’s supposed to be perceived that that is his real beard, as he begins to cut at it with scissors in the truck he’s in as he’s taken to his base of operations. Rutger Hauer then goes after his mark with a shotgun that is hidden behind a baby’s car seat.
Whenever Gene Simmons appears, this really really cheesy attempt at Arab sounding music comes on. Normally I love synth music, but this synth music sounds terrible. He also goes to see a showing of “Rambo” and it doesn’t say which sequel, so I’m just going to assume that Wanted: Dead Or Alive takes place in the future time of 2008.
Hauer is used as bait by future Deep Throat in The X-Files, Jerry Hardin to lure Simmons out, even though Hauer is supposed to be hunting him down as a bounty. When things go to shit courtest of asshole Hardin, Hauer’s cop buddy tells Hardin “If you’re gonna fuck me, you should at least kiss me first!” This line with a bit of a variation on it appears 2 years later in the B-Column/Thread favorite film, Black Rain. Except in that one it’s said a whole hell of a lot better by Michael Douglas.
There’s this really cool harmonica theme that runs through out the film, and reminds me of a lot of older movies, as well as in one point when Hauer is having a tender moment with his girlfriend, it sounds a lot like the music from The Getaway.
Of course this being an action movie, said girlfriend has to either be brutally assaulted or murdered in order to turn the hero into an engine of destruction. The second one happens here. Hauer is so pissed off he shoots the tv that he’s watching when they show Simmons’ picture. This means he’s going to be on the warpath. The warpath isn’t ready for Hauer.
First he tortures one of Simmons’ zealots by putting him in a locker and shooting at him through it in order to get an address. Then he goes after Simmons while commandeering a tractor trailer rig and finally arrests him. Hauer calls Simmons a “Fly on a pile of shit” then in the most memorable moment in the film, he stuffs a grenade in Simmons mouth, then says “Fuck the bonus” and pulls the pin. Leading to an EXPLODING HEAD.
I have to say, after revisiting Wanted: Dead Or Alive, I enjoyed it a bit more than the first time around. I’m still not a huge fan of it, I thought that with the plot, they could have had a lot more explosions and shootouts, but I’m assuming Gary Sherman was working with a low budget, so there could only be so much put up onscreen, and that I shouldn’t expect it to be True Lies. It’s definitely worth a viewing if you’re into 80’s actioners, and it’s not very well known, expect for probably the Simmons comeuppance, but it’s not a bad film, and Hauer and Simmons do great work. You’ll want to go out and buy a Harmonica.
Oh I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride, I’m wanted (wanted)…
Wait a second, wrong mindset.
Fuck the bonus.
For every aspect of Wanted: Dead or Alive that evokes the normal 80’s action film protocol, it has a quirk that earmarks the film as an individualist among the bottomless sea of shameless attempts to ride the Rambo or Terminator gravy train. An early example of the “re-imagining” craze that has become so fervent in the past decade, Vice Squad auteur Gary Sherman ditches the Western setting and modernizes the general ideas from the show. Unlike his great-grandfather, Nick Randall (Rutger Hauer) is a former CIA agent who got screwed over by the system, cruising the murky streets of Los Angeles and brought back by the agency to take down a scowling Middle Eastern terrorist (Chaim “Gene Simmons” Witz) unleashing havoc on the city, starting small with a movie theater playing Rambo: First Blood Part II (how creative!), and building up to a grand scheme that would basically equate to the American equivalent of Chernobyl.
Had this film been made under the Golan-Globus regime, we would have gotten Michael Dudikoff fighting for the love of Reagan and Zionism, and the result would have had a 50-50 chance of being at least a fun guilty pleasure. Luckily, Sherman goes for something more subversive and cynical than usual. Randall has the skepticism and personal distrust of his employers, but his motivation is less a nationalistic smear like Rambo and more Woodward and Bernstein with a shotgun. Released in January of 1987, the film came out shortly before the Iran-Contra affair became public knowledge, and in retrospect, it proves that Sherman maneuvered a film like Aliens or RoboCop, which masqueraded a fairly liberal minded ideology as a slam-bang action film. Not that it doesn’t work as just that—it’s not wall to wall throughout, but it never disappoints in the gunfire and explosion department—but the mission statement is radical and, for lack of a better word, smarter.
Everyone’s favorite Replicant is an out-and-out blast in the film. Hauer has a brilliant tendency where, with very few exceptions, he is able to wholeheartedly win over as a hero or villain, and it’s no difference here. Earlier this week, I watched Verhoeven’s Flesh + Blood for the first time, where his character is purportedly the headstrong good guy, but his character is loaded with immoral, anarchic qualities that undermine him as reliable—akin to Roy Batty or John Ryder but a lot less despicable. He makes Randall a destructive force to be reckoned with at every corner of the film, and we side with his impulses because his character is an outsider, a misunderstood figure with all the qualities of his ancestor, trapped in a world too lenient and corrupt for his brand of justice. Anyone who’s had a chance to experience the glory of Hobo with a Shotgun will be delighted that Hauer is essentially playing a younger version of that character, though he lives on a shitty houseboat and his shotgun has more bells and whistles than the Remington the older, more pissed off Rutger wields.
Stepping out of his KISS getup, Gene Simmons is a glowering man who, if ever in the presence of Brian Thompson or Edward James Olmos, would set forth the apocalypse due to their tendency to have the evilest of evil eye syndrome that has ever existed in the history of angry stares. Hell, Michael Crichton cast Simmons in Runaway based on the languid, stern gaze that Simmons gave him, and in that context, he’s brilliant as Malik Al Rahim. Admittedly, he doesn’t get much to do other than intimidate anyone in his path, but it works, and it’s proof that often, the stare of Simmons is mightier than the tongue that licks the Tweed.
This movie is so good that it was Robert Guillaume’s first project after wrapping up his stint on the staggeringly long running Benson. William Russ, later the dad from Boy Meets World (for those of you my age who remember that; more of a Family Matters man myself), continues his streak of playing a cop who gets killed after his memorable guest turn on Miami Vice and in the pilot of Crime Story. Above all, however, nothing—nothing—tops that last scene, which plays like it came straight out of an unused further adventure of Snake Plissken. For added fun, make sure you’re watching it on a device that allows you to slowly go through the scene frame by frame, allowing you to be able to see Gene Simmons transform from actual human being into the bottom half of a mockup dummy in 24 frames.
As for whether Wanted: Dead or Alive or Blind Fury is Rutger’s better heroic outing, I can’t answer that. Blind Fury will inevitably get coverage from all of us here at the B Movie Column, and I’ll probably decide then, but the dilemma will still live on. Grenade fu, or the epic double whammy of The Hitcher killing Sho Kosugi and Randall “Tex” Cobb back to back, with the latter falling endlessly into the mountains?
The debate lives on, but Wanted: Dead or Alive is clearly the one bonus you don’t want to fuck off. In a perfect world, we would have gotten a sequel to go hand in hand with a theatrical release of The Punisher from New World. Plus, not only would we have gotten the further adventures of Nick Randall, this would have probably happened:
MIKE’S TOP TEN MUSICIAN ACTORS IN GENRE FILMS
Music and film have often had crossovers into their respective industries, and very often, the former has provided us with singers and rappers whose work matched, if not exceeded, their musical prowess—Mark Wahlberg, Kris Kristofferson, Ices Cube and T, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra all achieved stardom in Hollywood. For the most part, however, musicians usually stick to their song and dance, and take acting gigs in either vanity projects, like Prince, or make novelty appearances in genre efforts that have no concern or ambition for prestige.
Revisiting Wanted: Dead or Alive, as endearing and lecherous as Gene Simmons is as the villain, his presence and reputation are inescapable. In other words, Simmons is not exactly the guy who would get a showy, Oscar-nominated performance in a deep, critically lauded drama (unless you’re Scorsese or Tarantino, that is). Without further ado, I’ve given some thought to my favorite genre appearances by musicians in films, using this criteria:
Lemmy, Tromeo & Juliet. Leave it to Troma to not only douse Shakespeare in their signature brand of nonsensically disgusting violence and gore and alarming sexual content, but to have the mumbling, ass-kicking presence of the infamous Motörhead frontman as the story’s narrator. Proof for any whiny high school underclassman that Shakespeare can be cool.
Henry Rollins, The Chase. Always an omnipresence as a vocalist and spoken-word artist, Rollins has had a slew of supporting turns in his career—a prison guard in Lost Highway, punching bag for Al Pacino in Heat, a blatantly unconvincing computer geek in Johnny Mnemonic—but his deranged LAPD officer in Adam Rifkin’s silly slice of 90’s pop art is a brilliant satire of the trigger-happy, post-riots mindset.
Ice-T, Ricochet. It pains me to make him an honorable mention, as he’s made a beautiful progression from rapper to very busy actor with so many credits under his name, but he deserves to be mentioned. We’ve gone at length about Ricochet before, and while he isn’t nearly as showy or prominent in the film as Denzel or Lithgow, he has endless charisma and walks a genuine line of allegiance as the ruthless but loyal friend of Washington.
Gregg Allman, Rush. This is kind of cheating, as Rush is a legitimately fucking great film with a pair of devastating and powerful lead performances that got woefully ignored during the awards season. Allman, however, is a troubling, silent menace that’s the epitome of subtle brilliance, a southern-fried boogeyman of the real world who could kill you just by ominously staring into your eyes.
Joe Strummer, Straight to Hell. Following acclaim for Sid & Nancy, director Alex Cox turned down a ton of lucrative mainstream jobs like RoboCop and The Running Man and rounded up character actor Sy Richardson, Elvis Costello, The Pogues, Dennis Hopper, and a ton of others for his glorious clusterfuck of an homage to the transgressive Westerns of guys like Leone and Jodorowsky. The late Clash frontman stands out as Simms, the badass shit-talker of a trio of thieves hiding out in a very strange desert town. His impulsive violent qualities, no doubt, are ahead of its time, a respectable prototype for Mr. Blonde.
David Bowie, Into the Night. John Landis’s most underrated film has a sea of cameos from various filmmakers and a standout cameo by Bowie as a suave whackjob secret agent who Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer encounter in their night from hell. Hilariously channeling Roger Moore’s Bond routine, the appearance is solidified when Bowie fights the legendary Carl Perkins (in his only film) with the prize of life, and it ends in a fatal no contest perfectly in line with the loony darkness of the film.
Mick Jagger, Freejack. I’ll probably get a lot of shit of this, especially because I unapologetically love Freejack and its mentally challenged vision of the year 2009 as a live-action Sega CD game. Mick’s acting, in fact, is on the level of the sort of horribly digitized fare in similar games of that era, nothing but a pure novelty and a farcical attempt at being a villain. His flamboyance is a handicap to his attempt at convincingly play a ruthless warlord, but as a huge Rolling Stones fan and noting the crazed non-originality of the film, the two go hand in hand so well, that indeed, for once, a negative multiplied by a negative is positive. If you’re not fazed by my ironic love, I can tell you he legitimately rules in the awesome Performance.
Isaac Hayes, Escape from New York. The Duke! Need I say more?
Dwight Yoakam, Panic Room. Yoakam is a musician-actor who’s underused to a degree, but when he gets a chance, he’s wonderful, a great asshole in Sling Blade and a blast as a morally bankrupt “doctor” in the Crank films. While Panic Room is not Fincher’s finest hour by any stretch, it’s not terrible, and a lot of it rides on Yoakam’s performance. Beyond the high-concept premise, Yoakam is so frightening that, stripped of the illusion, appears and behaves like a real sociopathic loon, and not just because of his Reggie Bannister-like hairstyle.
Wayne Newton, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. In the early 90’s, Wayne Newton transitioned from Las Vegas legend and showman to actor, his specialty being caricature-like extremes of evil. In Licence to Kill, he’s an evil bogus televangelist. In Best of the Best 2, he’s an evil ringmaster of a modern gladiator show. He hit his zenith against Andrew Dice Clay in Ford Fairlane, his charm, smile, and smooth voice never as invalid and diabolical as they are as he pulls the strings on the kitschy, mean-spirited Joel Silver madness that ensues. Newton does something that’s hard to do as a villain—he plays such an overtly “nice” guy that he’s an utter scumbag.