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131 reviews in total 
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Absolutely amazing 80s Coen classic., 8 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Raising Arizona' was the first Coen Brothers movie I ever saw, and I admit I left it a bit late before watching it, but I finally saw it as the classic it is now rightly regarded as. The quirkiness of the main characters like Hi and Ed, and the downright menace of 'Mad Max' style villain Leonard Smalls really appealed to me. Nicolas Cage, in a relatively early leading role, is excellent as the former criminal trying to go straight and a young Holly Hunter is equally on top form as the cop who wins his heart. Coen regular John Goodman also turns in a great performance as a bank robber who makes Cage's life difficult.

One thing I like about the characters is that they are mostly portrayed in a sympathetic light, the exceptions being Glen, Dot, their kids and the aforementioned Mr. Smalls. I take it that the role of Smalls will be one Randall 'Tex' Cobb will always be remembered for. If this is so, then I am glad, because the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse as Hi labels him is one of the most iconic movie villains I've ever seen. The comedy and drama is handled equally well in this movie, with a lot of laughs coming regularly. And I really like how the ending is optimistic. All in all, 'Raising Arizona' is a great movie. If the film has any faults, it's that the characters of Glen, Dot and their kids are so reprehensible it's hard to believe. But I guess that was the point. Please watch this movie. You're in for a treat.

The Spirit (2008)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Cheesy, dumb, but a lot of fun., 8 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was not disappointed when I finally saw Frank Miller's film adaptation of this pulp comic book. Yes, there is no denying that the movie is ridiculous in parts and takes liberties with the source material. But overall, I found 'The Spirit' to be a very enjoyable show. The best performer in it is, of course, Samuel L. Jackson as the big bad guy The Octopus. He chews the scenery amazingly, kind of like he did when he voiced Officer Tenpenny in 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas'. I was a bit unsure about the part where they had him dress in a Nazi uniform, but I'll forgive that. The Octopus' obsession with eggs was a bit stupid, though. As are some other story elements such as how ridiculously oversexed The Spirit is. I can understand Dr. Dolan being teed off with him about his work with the ladies. But that said, Gabriel Macht puts in a great performance as the Spirit, with a fine line in sarcastic remarks and random soliloquies.

Eva Mendes is great as the bad girl with a heart of gold known as Sand Saref. When I first saw her movie back story I was afraid she would be a shallow character, but she comes up trumps in the end. Scarlett Johanssen is also good as the equally weird-named Silken Floss, even if all her role requires her to do is state the obvious. Although they could be annoying, the clone henchmen were mildly amusing too. Though I must say that 'Sin City' veteran Jaime King was rather wasted as Lorelei, the Angel of Death. Assassin Plaster of Paris is rather an unnecessary character as well.

But overall, 'The Spirit' accomplished what it set out to do: it entertained. I stand by my opinion, and I hope that like the 1980 film of 'Flash Gordon', which has been mentioned as being in the same league as this film, 'The Spirit' will become a cult classic. I must say that I intend to add it to my DVD collection when it comes out. Great fun.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Great, mindless, action-packed fun, 9 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was 1987 when I first heard of this movie. It was the very first time I'd heard of Gary Busey and a trailer for this movie was the first time I ever heard the famous Survivor theme song. I hadn't seen the whole thing until about 2003 though. But, being a fan of mindless 80s action movies, I'm glad to say I was not let down when I finally came to own a copy of this movie.

It's sad that Busey never really made it as a leading man, because in this film he gives an absolutely fantastic performance as the wronged man Buck Matthews. Unfaily sent to prison by corrupt sheriff Seymour Cassel for killing a man in self-defence, Vietnam vet Buck is released and heads home. Things have gone decidedly bad since he was gone as the town is now in the grip of a sadistic, drug-running motorcycle gang headed by AIP veteran William Smith. Needless to say, the sheriff is on the gang's payroll and also happens to be Buck's parole officer, so things don't look good for our hero.

The film is, of course, a revenge picture as Buck engages in single handed combat with the gang after they kill his wife and traumatise his daughter. He even has his own special vehicle for the task: a weapon-laden pick-up truck sent to him by a Latino drug lord whose life he saved while in the slammer. Yes, it's THAT kind of film.

But it is actually pulled of rather well by writer Michael Montgomery and 'Vanishing Point' director Richard Sarafian. The action sequences, though sometimes grisly (a wire decapitation), are handled well, especially Buck's final assault on Smith's stronghold when good cop Yaphet Kotto finally decides to step in and help him. Kotto, Cassel and Smith all turn in excellent performances, with Cassel being particularly slimy as the crooked cop. It's very satisfying when he gets his comeuppance. The final fight between Busey and Smith is very well-handled.

Although the famous Survivor song is a bit overused, it seems very appropriate for the movie's action. The original music score by Don Preston is very rousing as well. I can honestly say that while Busey is excellent at playing villains like Mr. Joshua from 'Lethal Weapon' and Commander Kril from 'Under Siege', he shows here that if you give him decent enough material, and overlook some of his personal problems, he can carry a film and make it enjoyable. I enjoy 'Eye Of The Tiger' thoroughly as a great 80s action 'missing gem', and I recommend it to my fellow IMDb users with confidence.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not bad at all early Sommers effort, 9 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had wanted to see this film for years after seeing a video trailer for it. Now I have finally seen it. Yes, it is undeniably cheesy in parts, but I accept that fact and watch it for the fun. And this movie is nothing short of great. The plot is slim, but it works. The drag race scenes are all done brilliantly, set to a perfect synth score by the wonderful Tangerine Dream and the two main performances by Matt Lattanzi and Loryn Locklin as the reluctant lovers are very good. It's been a while since I've seen Locklin's later movie 'Fortress' so I had forgotten just how attractive she was. Her character, Melissa, starts out as a typical concerned high school kid, but blossoms into a hot mama by the end of the picture. This is the only thing I've seen Lattanzi in, but he handles the hero role very well.

Veteran performers Geoffrey Lewis and M. Emmet Walsh are great as the kindly school principal and the evil loan shark respectively, and the rest of the villains, such as the sneering Dirk and Manney and evil racing driver the Widowmaker are all very colourful characters. It surprised me that Stephen Sommers, later known for the first two 'Mummy' films and 'Van Helsing' would start his career with this kind of film. We all have to start somewhere I guess, and 'Catch Me If You Can' was a good place to start for him, especially as he never even had to leave his hometown to film it.

The high school kids seem like a bunch of jerks, but at least they later on admit they were and decide to actually do something about the impending school closure that Melissa and Principal Johnson are trying to prevent.

Like another favourite film of mine, Charlie Sheen flick 'The Wraith', parents seem to be non-existent in this town. But the authority figure role is filled excellently by Lewis as Mr. Johnson. It is he who turns out to have been a high-school hero back in the 50s who steps in to help when all hope seems lost.

The main attraction for me was the cars, of course. The star car role is filled by two vehicles: a lovely black '68 Chevelle driven by Lattanzi for most of the movie, and 'Fast Freddie' Johnson's '57 Chevy, which is brought out of retirement for the final race against the clock after the Chevelle is laid low by Walsh's thugs. There's also a wonderful quotient of American muscle cars present throughout. I also like in the movie how some depth is injected into the character of Dylan Malone, Lattanzi's character. He at first seems like your typical anti-authority James Dean type. It is, however, revealed that he drag races to try and earn himself college tuition money to get out of his currently dead end life. This makes the final battle against Walsh more poignant, as Malone basically agrees to become a slave to Walsh if he loses the final race.

All in all, the film is by no means ever going to win any awards. But if you just want a great, fun, popcorn movie, this is one of the best of them. Please Stephen Sommers, dust this one off and give it a DVD release!

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Definitely a B-Movie, but fun all the less, 2 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was curious about this movie as it featured an appearance from Nick Cassavetes, who I think is a great actor, and there were possibly car chases in it, so I just had to see it. The movie is certainly never going to win any Oscars, but I don't care as I thoroughly enjoyed it. The three 'Bimbos' are all very attractive and well-performed and Cassavetes and his 'WRAITH' co-stars Griffin O'Neal and Jamie Bozian were good as the stoner surfers that the girls meet while on the run.

There is only one real car chase in the film, but it's done very well, and features a great cameo from professional nerd Eddie Deezen as a clueless police officer and a unique use for lingerie. ASSAULT is a rather short film, but then again, the film makers probably didn't want the joke to wear thin. I lover how the girls get revenge on the guy who framed them, and earlier in the film where they give a lecherous, crooked gas station owner what-for when he tries to rip them off. It's also funny how Peaches (the 'leader' of the Bimbos) tries to artistically justify go-go dancing.

Overall, this was a great, funny movie, with sexy girls and great humour. May not be to everyone's taste, but I liked it.

Freeway (1988)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A fantastic and enjoyable thriller, 9 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To be fair, I expected car chases in this film. There was only really one, but apart from that, 'Freeway' was a great movie which I am glad to own on DVD. The only really big names in the cast are HOMICIDE's Richard Belzer as the radio psychiatrist and B-Movie villain par-excellance Billy Drago as the Revelation-quoting Freeway Killer. But the rest of the cast generally give good performances. I especially liked how Darlanne Fluegel gave her character, Sunny, a bit of guts. She could have been a helpless victim character but she is fully rounded as she seeks out Drago with the help of bounty hunter James Russo.

Russo, I'm afraid, comes across as rather wooden, but then again, the character he plays, Frank, isn't very well fleshed out save for a back story Sunny is given by his former commanding officer. The tone of menace is kept up superbly throughout the film and the atmosphere of the lonely LA freeway at night with the killer prowling its' length in his sinister grey sedan is an excellent way of building tension, and the music used to underscore the film is suitably composed. I don't know why there are some people who hate this movie so. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. But I absolutely enjoyed 'Freeway' and I can strongly recommend it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"Justice for one, justice for all'., 5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had first heard about this Linda Blair vehicle years ago when I was interested in 80s vigilante movies in the vein of THE EXTERMINATOR etc. I finally got the picture on VHS a couple of weeks ago. The final viewing of the film was a great way to spend some time.

Apart from her cameo in SCREAM, this is the ONLY film I've seen Linda Blair in (I'm not sure if I'm ready for THE EXORCIST yet). But she was great in the leading role as Brenda, the tough girl who decides to take revenge on the sadistic gang who rape her deaf-mute sister and murder her best friend who was just a few days away from her wedding.; There are typical high school clichés at points in the movie, such as the totally nasty spoilt-brat cheerleader type (whom I really hated as she makes a cruel crack about Brenda's sister because she wrongly believes Brenda's trying to steal her boyfriend) and the sneering principal, here played greatly by the late John Vernon. But in the second half of the film, Brenda gets down to the serious revenge business, suiting up in a kick ass black jumpsuit and arming herself with a crossbow for her big revenge against the evil Scars.

As Scars leader Jake, Robert Dryer is an excellent villain. A sadistic maniac who has no redeeming features whatsoever. I've only seen Dryer in two films, this and HEARTBREAKER: STREETS OF FIRE, but he was a brilliant performer in both. The music for the film is great, particularly the songs by John Farnham, best known in the UK for the one-hit wonder 'You're The Voice'. The final climactic showdown between Brenda and Jake is very intense, but suitable to the film.

I give this film a confident thumbs-up.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Typical 80s action, but fun., 5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't really give this film much thought when I first saw it advertised on a VHS tape I have at home years ago. But after a few years, I did get curious and decided to have a look-see. And I have to say I'm glad I did.

Yes, the fashion and dialogue etc. is very 80s in this movie, but then again, every movie sooner or later shows signs of age. So I'll forgive the Miami VICE fashions and stereotypical characters and concentrate on what made this film good. The central performance of Stephen Lang as 'Nam vet Joe Tiger (pronounced Tee-ger) is very good as he takes it upon himself to train a bunch of juvenile delinquents whom the law has deemed as being beyond redemption into becoming survivors, fighters and ultimately those who will right the wrongs of society.

Yes, it is far-fetched, but movies are supposed to be about escapism, aren't they? The actors playing the teens range from okay to over the top, but handle the action well. And once again, Mr. James Remar, one of my favourite actors makes an excellent villain. A young Laurence Fishburne is also very good as a Little Haiti drug dealer. Lauren Holly is also great in an early role as Nikki, lover of BOTH member Carlos.

The first half of the film as the Band train with Joe in the Everglades, learning how to survive is done very well, with the Band naturally complaining about everything at first but slowly and surely adapting. The final big battle at a Miami dope farm after Joe's death is great as well, where the Band of The Hansd finally put all their experience with their mentor to the test.

The film is, in short, great. Not excellent, but great, and I strongly recommend it.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
'Get ready to fly, b****!', 5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was disappointed to hear of how poorly the GRINDHOUSE project fared in the USA, because the premise of it sounded great to me. What especially had me excited was the prospect of this sequence of the film, directed by Quentin Tarantino. A car chase/smash movie with Kurt Russell playing a psycho stuntman? That's a hell of a good premise for a movie in my book.

But in a way, I'm glad that GRINDHOUSE was split in two for its' DVD release, as that way we get to see some footage that was cut from the GRINDHOUSE versions of PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF. And even though I do look forward to getting the Region 1 copy of PLANET TERROR, I am glad to say I finally saw DEATH PROOF on R1 DVD, and it, the film that attracted me to the GRINDHOUSE project in the first place did not let me down. Granted there are a lot of 'talky' bits before the action actually gets underway, but I'm willing to forgive that because of the quality of the acting, writing and directing.

Kurt Russell is excellent as the psycho Stuntman Mike. When first seen in the movie, he does look like a harmless good old boy from a Hal Needham film (as one guy says about him, he looks like he got his scar over his eye from climbing out of a time machine). Sydney Poitier, Rose McGowan and Tarantino himself in a cameo as a bartender are very good, but Russell oozes with his usual charisma. He jokes with the first group of his victims about being a stunt double on obscure shows, which, of course, Tarantino would know about. But very quickly, things turn nasty and there's a whole bunch of corpses piling up.

There's a nice cameo by the father and son Texas Rangers from KILL BILL VOL. 1 where the father, although knowing that Mike is a killer, can't prove it because of the precautions Mike took (Mike stayed sober while his victims were both drunk driving and stoned). But then, when Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms and Zoe Bell come into the picture, Mike may just have met his match.

Most people will no doubt know by now that Zoe Bell was Uma Thurman's stunt double in the KILL BILL movies. But for a stunt-woman, especially considering she's basically playing herself, she is a great actress and I hope we can expect great things from her. Dawson is as good as ever. As for Thoms, this is the first film I've seen her in, but she is brilliant, completing the trio who stand up to the stunt psycho.

The final car chase is handled brilliantly, especially since no CGI was involved. Like in the days of Hal Needham movies, all the car stunts were done for real. The choice of cars was excellent too, with three great examples of American muscle being used: Stuntman Mike's two cars are a Chevy Nova and a Dodge Charger and the girls use a Dodge Challenger, just like the one from VANISHING POINT as the girls point out.

At the end of the day, DEATH PROOF proved to be as good as I thought it would be. Two thumbs up from me!

Redline (2007)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Come on! It's not THAT bad!, 5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As REDLINE is yet another film in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS vein, and there are people who hated those films, I expected REDLINE to get negative press, but not to the extent that it ultimately did. Sure, the plot is minimal and the acting mostly so-so, but I am glad to say that I spent money on a DVD of REDLINE as soon as it was available and I have to say that I found it completely and utterly fantastic.

What attracted me was that producer Daniel Sadek used cars from his own extensive collection for the film, just as the late H.B. Halicki had done for his films GONE IN 60 SECONDS (the original one) and THE JUNKMAN, both of which are favourite movies of mine as well. The fact that they are all exotic cars in this movie was to be expected, and the race sequences involving the various cars are all handled excellently by director Andy Cheng.

Nadia Bjorlin, Nathan Phillips and Eddie Griffin are all great in their roles, even though their characters are little more than stereotypes. The plot DOES have predictable twists (although, I WAS surprised as I had never heard mention of it anywhere, when one of Bjorlin's opponents is the racer who killed her character's father, thus allowing her in the race to get revenge), but ultimately, REDLINE is just good, harmless, mindless fun. I mean, you can't expect EVERY movie that comes out to be Oscar material. I just like to have a good time when I'm watching a film, which is why I give REDLINE a positive six out of ten. And I'm certainly glad that there are others, no matter how few, who agree with me.

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