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Tunnel Rats (2008)
I saw Tunnel Rats SOME SPOILERS
I've been writing for Ain't It Cool News for 11 years and I found out there's a rift between Harry Knowles and Uwe Boll that's why Harry won't publish it. Regardless, its the best movies Boll has ever written and directed; except for the ending. WARNING! SPOILERS!
Let's spend a "Holiday In Cambodia" where the people dress in black.
Okay, now before everyone gets on my ass, this is the best film Uwe Boll has written and directed.
Yes, I'm serious.
"Tunnel Rats" is a powerful, well-written story about the little known group of American soldiers in Vietnam of the same name based loosely on elements from the "Tunnels of Cu Chi" and real-life events that took place there.
The pre-credits sequence is intense. A Tunnel Rat armed only with handgun and a flashlight searches for Viet Cong, in a tight, claustrophobic environment. Stops and listens. Nothing. We see the VC doing the same thing. They're heading towards each other. When the confrontation happens, the audience never sees the twist coming.
Boll captures the intensity these men went through in the crawl spaces. You actually feel like your trapped in these tiny confines with the soldiers. The dirt, the dust filling your lungs as you attentively search for the enemy, crawling on your belly, not being able to stand up for long periods of time, no light except for that of your flashlight and the fear of what unknown factor might lie ahead; whether it be an enemy soldier or a deadly booby-trap.
You look for a way out of a 75 mile interconnected maze that is 2-3 levels deep.
One thing I like about Boll what he did with this film is that he showed both sides of the combatants. Each side had their reason for doing what they had to do and what they believed in. Both sides had gray areas in their duties, but basically, both groups just wanted to get this war over with and go home.
Michael Pare portrays the burned out, "Lieutenant Vic Hollowborn." A real hard case, who at one time was probably a captain or major, but was busted down to lieutenant because he's too stern with his men challenging them to boxing matches if they step out of line. A good tactician, they gave him a dirty job instead of a one-way ticket to the LBJ(Long Bihn Jail; a military prison.).
Hollowborn is in charge of a group of young soldiers who risk their lives everyday where one slip is fatal even being warned not to smoke the night before they go into the tunnels the next day because the VC can smell the smoke on them. They can even tell the brand.
None of these guys want to be in the 'Nam. They all hate it. They stay away from the FNG's(F-ing New Guy's) because all they do is talk about home and that's a place the Short Timer's want to be. They also feel that the FNG's aren't worth a salt unless they've proved themselves in combat, but that's hard to do sometimes as that they'll probably be killed in the first week, so why bother getting to know them.
The next day, the squad goes on a simple "Search and Destroy" mission, but all hell breaks loose and each man must fight for his own life in order to survive.
Boll's co-writer and producer, Dan Clarke, particularly pays close attention to detail in the script to give the story the realism it richly displays. The booby trap sequences invented by the Viet Cong based on real events are creatively deadly.
Great photography by Mathias Neumann. From beautiful jungle vistas to the dark tunnels. Quite an impressive contrast. The sound is crisp and clear. The most impressive part is, is that the entire movie was shot in South Africa doubling for Vietnam and you cannot tell the difference.
This is Boll's best film...up until the last ten minutes.
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
You get to know the characters. You like most of them, but everybody dies. EVERYBODY. Who's left to left to tell the story? No one. At least in "Go Tell the Spartans" and "Apocalypse Now" somebody lived to tell the story. Here, you walk out of the theater, and yes ,there are some intense, memorable scenes that you can't get out of your mind that lingers on days after, but there is no one left alive! You're depressed as hell!
Boll creates the best work ever and blows it the last ten minutes. Like the film, "I Bury the Living;" one of the best horror movies ever made until the cop-out ending the studio wanted. It could have been a classic, if not for that.
Boll should re-shoot the ending and have someone live to tell it. Its the only thing that hurts the movie is that ending, otherwise this is the best film he's ever done.
SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER END
This film is realistic and well made. My only complaint with it is the ending. Other than that, Boll did a remarkable job with this movie that deals with a little known chapter in the history of the Vietnam war about a group of remarkably brave soldiers that had to do a rough job.
Lonely Place (2004)
Excellent Film Noir
I saw this film on a DVD screener and I was quite impressed. Being a film noir buff, Mr. Ackerman did an outstanding job in capturing the flavor of the noir look and feel. Seeing Kurtwood Smith is always a pleasure to watch and Mr. Ackerman's team of actors and actresses I found, retained the feel of the people trapped in predictaments that they have advertidly or inadvertidly created for themselves. Examples would be "Detour," "Double Indemnity" and "Laura." The well-written dialouge makes "Lonely Place" feel like your stepping back into time and yet, it could be a situation that could be an event that takes place on the front page of tomorrow's morning newspaper. An outstanding job. I look forward to his future work.
JACK BLACK'S MINI ME!
Outrageous! I had only heard of this film and by luck I got a copy of it! Weird, wild, demented...yes, it's all of these, but the strangest thing is the DWARF LOOKS LIKE A MINIATURE VERSION OF JACK BLACK! Watch his mannerisms! Especially when the dwarf chortles and drools with glee in the toy shop. Amazing! I couldn't stop laughing at this picture! The mother is this bizarre Norma Desmond song and dance cast-off. Creepy! This movie should be remade today with Black as the dwarf, Joan Cusack as the mother, John Cusack as the writer/husband, Jennifer Anniston as the wife, bring back David Lynch from whatever abyss he's hiding in to direct and have Roger Corman produce it. NOW THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT.
Big Wednesday (1978)
The Greatest Surf Movie Ever Made!
This is a great film! It deals with friendship, the passage of time and its effects. There is one actor that each person can identify with. Mine was the William Katt character, Jack Barlow. Being a former surfer myself, I understand the importance of one last time to ride with your friends and to live over your youth again before you go your separate ways. You remember the good times, the bad, but most of all the friendships you made as we are only here for a short time. Chaka, Brahs!
Highly recommended independent film.
I saw this film when it first came out as a kid and just recently found an out-of-print video on it. The movie still holds up. The acting is quite good, especially Ed Harris, who stands out as the "King Arthur" leader, Billy. Tom Savinni did a good job during the scenes where he "sold out" his image. You could see the transition in his face, sans dialogue. Yes, it does need to be shortened by about twenty minutes, but overall its an enjoyable film with many underlying lessons to learn from. Two outstanding, bittersweet scenes are the "Lancelot" character having to return the woman that loves him back to her home and the transition at the end where Ed Harris gives a young boy, who hero worships him, his sword. The stunts are fantastic as well. Sit back with some popcorn and enjoy! Look for the cameo by Stephen King as the "Loudmouth Spectator."