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|22 reviews in total|
This is the worst Death Wish movie. If you thought the others were
unrealistic or stupid, you were right, but this movie blows them away.
Charlie Bronson was not a good actor. He had a bizarre speech cadence
that somehow made him seem like a tough guy. This movie was made when
he was 73 years old and every year shows. While I like action movies, I
don't particularly enjoy seeing senior citizens diving to avoid gunfire
or trying to kill people. It just doesn't look good or believable.
Granted, some old people kill. They don't kill entire bad guy
operations, though. And jeez! he was engaged to a woman 33 years
younger than him! I'm sorry, I just can't fathom why the filmmakers
thought that the audience would think anything except "wow, he's aging
poorly" when viewing this.
I'm not saying that old men cannot be violent in movies. THE LIMEY features Terrence Stamp as an AMAZING vigilante. UNFORGIVEN is a great movie, too, and Eastwood looks like the leather on his face is at least 200 years old. However, both of those movies has the characters' age play a major factor in the film. This movie tries to ignore it.
This movie should have had Charlie as a grandpa who, with an elderly wife, is killed by vengeful mafioso. Then, Charlie's son or grandson could pick up the vigilante torch and kill the bad guys for grandpa. Instead, the director tried to make an action movie with someone who could break his hip at any time.
This movie is unique in the fact that it ties into the fashion industry. Yes, the bad guy is a fashion big-wig. Somehow, this fashion guy managed to head some large scale operation that involves murder and the mob. Okay, sure, whatever. The plot of Death Wish movies (aside from the first one) has never really mattered. All you want is for Charlie to kill the crap out of them. In that way, this movie delivers. It also provides a death via soccer ball. That guy then flails around with his upper body on fire. And then Charlie chuckles. I wonder why Charlie wasn't in more comedies; his sense of humor and timing are dead-on.
All in all, it's pretty sad to see an old man try and act young.
Without a doubt, this is the best Roddy Piper/Sonny Chiba movie EVER.
Not many people know this, but these two great action stars made over
200 films together, although this was the only one released stateside.
That's probably not true. At all. It would be funny if it was, though. Roddy Piper, a wrestler that knew his own acting limits and stayed within them (no "suburban commando" for him. just dumb and violent stuff, thank you very much), stars in this film that is kind of about immortal bad guys. I say "kind of" because this movie manages to veer away from the dumb-but-enjoyable premise of fighting the unkillable for almost two hours and needlessly complicate the matter by involving power-hungry white-collar bad guys. Who cares about the mortal baddies when the immortal have to be killed? Certainly not this movie's target audience: drunk college kids and boys under the age of ten.
My problem is this: former American Gladiator Malibu (Derron McBee) is the immortal bad guy. He has all the acting chops one would expect of someone who has been paid to joust with large Q-Tips on TV. Still, he's a ridiculously cartoony bad guy who makes the beginning scenes fun to watch. Then he's gone for about an hour, until the very end. Huh? Who plotted that? Does the audience care about Roddy Piper's sort-of romantic interest that doesn't get naked? No! Do they care about the non-immortal non-combatant bad guys? No!! Do they want to hear Roddy Piper fake a Southern accent? Well, maybe. It's pretty funny bad.
Sonny Chiba is in this movie, too. He's credited as Sonny "J.J." Chiba an his character's name is "J.J." too. Presumably, J.J. is his real nickname and he plays himself in the movie because the movie is based on events from his life. Sonny has a Caucasian daughter in this movie. There is some sort of drama involving her being surprised that he's not her real dad or something. It's hard to pay attention to all of this movie. I'm lucky to be able to recall even that much. This plot just sucks the interest right out of your body.
Oh, remember the wrestler Zeus? He's in this movie, too. He makes friends with Roddy Piper after he watches Rodddy break a guy's nose for pestering a woman. That isn't integral to the plot, mind you. It is, however, exactly the sort of thing that I imagine Zeus likes in his acquaintances.
If you are familiar at all with the Death Wish series of movies, it
might strike you as odd that the original was actually a film, as
opposed to its sequels, which technically qualify as guano. This film
has a score by Herbie Hancock, is based on a novel, and features early
small roles for Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Guest. Charlie Bronson is
actually conflicted in this movie. Honest. It's a drama with a slow
build. It's not a great movie, but it's not bad by any means. It's just
not anything like it's sequels (well, Charlie kills bad guys in both,
but this isn't an action movie). Overall, I'd say that Death Wish is an
okay, if dated film that attempts to comment on vigilantism in our
culture. It is not a hero-gets-mad-and-kills-stadiums-full-of-bad-guys
movie Weird, huh?
What's not weird is Jeff Goldblum's role. As you may have suspected, Jeff is actually responsible for all the Death Wish sequels. Jeff, with long hair and a Jughead-style crown hat, leads a gang that robs, beats, and (probably) rapes Charles Bronson's wife and daughter. I don't understand why Charlie never followed Jeff to another movie set and just took care of his grudge once and for all. Wouldn't it have been great if Charlie showed up during the Big Chill and shot the only character that couln't get laid? Of course it would have.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Popping this movie in your DVD player makes about as much sense as
shoving cottage cheese in your ears. Sure, it might feel nice and cool
for a moment, but in the span of two hours, those curdles start to
bother you. That said, I have to point out a few of the odd premises in
First and foremost, Stallone is the "smart" guy? Who made that decision? I'm sorry, that just ruined my suspension of disbelief. It's not like both characters were rich, smart, suave businessmen/cops. Russell played the same role he played in "Big Trouble in Little China": a mullet. If you've seen "Rambo III," you know Stallone could have easily filled that part. Besides, Russell's character has to dress up in drag. Stallone does a good job as an ugly, muscular, broad-shouldered gal in "Nighthawks;" I think he could have done it again here.
A major part of this movie is the fact that Tango and Cash are such great cops that their exploits are front-page news every time. Thats not so bad, but the articles name and show pictures of Tango and Cash. I don't know about you, but I have read the Chicago Tribune for many years and have yet to see a front page headline naming a police officer in any positive context. Clearly, Chicago needs better cops, cops like Tango and Cash.
It's weird...Jack Palance is the bad guy in this movie, and he's exactly the same character he plays in "Batman." Only, instead of loving Jerry Hall, he loves mice in this one.
So, the basic premise of this movie is that Tango and Cash are busting drugs like crazy. This makes them celebrities. Jack Palance has the great job of being the shadowy underworld boss that nobody knows about or even suspects of existing. Clearly, he needs to come out in the open an take care of Tango and Cash to get back at them for all the drug busting. However, he can't kill them because that would make them martyrs... or dead cops. Jack seemed more concerned with the former, but I would guess the whole "murdering-celebrity-cops-bit" would be the bigger problem. Whatever. So, Jack sets up Tango and Cash, sending them to prison for something they didn't do. When they break out (of course they do), Jack's minions want to kill Tango and Cash. Jack says no, and then sends out someone to kill them anyway. Well, what kind of plot logic do you expect from a movie that has Kurt Russell dress up as a "sexy" woman and get away with it?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NOTE: the spoiler comes toward the bottom and is clearly noted. Feel
free to read the rest of this.
IDENTITY is one of those movies that just misses being great. However, just because this movie aims for the heavens doesn't mean that its graceless fall back to earth can be ignored.
On paper, this movie seems like a sure thing. John Cusak restrains his typical ranting character and does a good job as a penitent man. John C. McGinley (who is my favorite actor to see die in movies because I hate him so much) does a good job as a wussy husband/step-father. Rebecca DeMornay is good as a washed up actress (two words: type casting). Ray Liotta is pretty good, too, and even Jake Busey does a pretty good job, which is shocking. His death is pretty cool, too, but was unfortunately performed on a dummy.
Good actors need a good script, though. The material is good. This movie is based on the plot of Agatha Christie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS (AND THEN THERE WERE NONE), which is a good book and has been made into a good movie. However, someone decided to try a different angle for IDENTITY. Instead of using good source material and hiring and good screenwriter, they hired Michael Cooney. I'm sure you remember him better as the writer/director of JACK FROST and JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN. No? Well, you're missing out on a homicidal snowman killing Shannon Elizabeth in her film debut. With a carrot. In her special place. Doesn't that sound like the right person to write a murder mystery with talented actors?
Obviously, it was. The writer clearly thought that adding not one but two plot twists that make the viewer not care about the characters or the linear plot was a good idea. After the plot twist, I felt as connected to these characters as I do to the bad guys in RAMBO III. This should have been a three or four star movie. The plot twist subtracts two stars automatically. Watch this movie if you want to be disappointed. Then watch CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD because you clearly want to punish yourself.
SPOILER COMING UP! BEWARE!
The movie is pretty good in the first half. There is a puzzling peripheral plot line about an insane convict having his sanity tested, but the rest of the movie is fine. Then the plot twist happens. All the characters in the murder mystery are symptoms of the convict's disassociative identity disorder (AKA multiple personalities)! What a great, edgy idea! Why should we care what happens to figments of someone's imagination? We shouldn't!
Whoa, the little kid is the killer? That's intense! No, it's not. It is stupid. It does not even take advantage of the whole unreality of the mind-scape. Instead, the kid turns out to be the mystery killer and we are led to believe that, somehow, he orchestrated all of the other murders, which is not possible. Had they played up the idea that anything can happen, then it might not have been so bad. But they played it straight. Had the kid been the killer in a movie where the characters were not imaginary, then it might have been cool. Puzzling and motiveless? Yes. Awful pot twist? Not necessarily. This script commits a sin of screen writing. It tries to outsmart the audience by introducing a "guess the killer" plot and then makes it absolutely impossible for the audience to fulfill their expectations. Wrapping it up in psychologist mumbo-jumbo doesn't excuse this, it just insults the audience's intelligence; we know when we are being messed with. Screw you, Michael Cooney. The cast and director are all pretty good; they should have known better than to be involved with this script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am not a huge Van Damme fan, but I have seen (and commented on)
several of his movies. When you watch Van Damme, you want to see bad
acting, bad accents, decent action, and several slow motion kicks to
the face. Bloodsport delivers like no other.
Let's just start with the acting. Van Damme was not quite full of himself at this point in his career, having played "Gay Karate Guy" in 1984's Monaco Forever, so he's actually not as bad as usual. His main supporting actor is Donald Gibb, best known for playing Ogre in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. He basically plays Orge in this movie, too, although he doesn't shout "NERDS!" He should have, but he didn't. That is why this is 8 out of 10 instead of 10 out of 10. Forest Whitaker is in this, too. Apparently, being a supporting actor in Platoon, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Color of Money, Stakeout and Good Morning Vietnam was not enough credit to land him the coveted role of the main military policeman that is constantly outsmarted by Van Damme (!) in this film. Instead, the actor with the best film credits in the movie is the second-in-command military policeman who serves under the person that is constantly outsmarted by Van Damme. Either the casting director was racist, or he could see into the future and knew that Forest would eventually costar in Battlefield Earth and was thus deserving of punishment. Bolo Yeung, the Asian bad guy with the huge pecks, plays a suitably evil villain at the impressive age of 50.
The soundtrack is pretty awesome, too. You have a nice blend of lame 80s music combined with a strange theme song that has the refrain "Ku-mite! Ku-mite!" The song is so good, it makes you wish Ah-Ha covered it.
The plot of the movie is silly. To avenge the death of his Asian friend and make his mentor proud, the military-trained Van Damme sneaks off to Asia to compete in the Kumite. This is the world's most hard-core fighting tournament and it is ultra-secret. The military doesn't want Van Damme to fight, so two men are sent to Asia to get him. They fail frequently until they eventually decide to let him compete. There is a nosy reporter woman that wants to cover the Kumite. Naturally, her main purpose in the movie is to give us a reason to see Van Damme's ass. Van Damme and Ogre become friends after Van Damme beats him in a karate video game. Ogre (for reasons unbeknownst to me) identifies Van Damme's accent as American and the two become good friends. After a shot of Van Damme beating someone up is shown in slow-motion two or three times, Ogre stands up and shouts, "That's the fastest thing I ever saw!" You see, if he hadn't said that, the audience wouldn't have known it was fast; they would have had to rely on the timer above the ring that said "new world record." Obviously, Van Damme has to fight a number of people, most of whom have comically unique styles of fighting. Just as obviously, Van Damme has to fight Bolo in the end. Van Damme has several slow motion kicks to the face and seven different times where he does the splits. Van Damme doesn't get much better than this.
By the way, this is based on a true story. HA!
Let me preface this by saying that you should not rate Van Damme movies
the same way you would, say, Shindler's List. Or anything that's ever
won an award, for that matter. Van Damme movies are horses of a
different color. In the case of Replicant, the horse's color doesn't
matter as much because the horse certainly deserves to be made into dog
This is not a good movie, even by Van Damme's standards. Yes, he plays a dual role in the film. Yes, one of the Van Dammes is a crazy killer. Yes, the other is a clone. Yes, Michael Rooker is the only other actor of note in the movie (yes, I know how sad that is). These elements would make me think Replicant would be an amusing movie. I mean, come on! Van Damme fighting himself is always amusing and when he is also one of the most talented actors in the film, you just know it's going to be stupid. Stupidity and Jean-Claude go together to make dumb action movies.
This movie is just dumb, though. And boring. And WAY too stupid to ignore. The good Van Damme is a clone (or, should I say ... REPLICANT?!?) of the bad Van Damme. He is created to give insight into the mind of the bad Van Damme. Because clones clearly have psychic connections to their evil originators. That is why Congress has outlawed cloning, because it leads to mind reading. And if our children don't read books, by God, they won't read minds.
Obviously, the audience is too stupid to realize that Van Damme is playing two roles that are drastically different, so the bad Van Damme has long hair. If it wasn't for the foresight of the filmmakers, I would have been scratching my head over that one for months; "I thought he was a good guy clone. Why is he evil now? ((sound of me throwing my own feces at the TV))" On the bright side, the good Van Damme shows off his acting skills. I wish I could say that Jean-Claude turns in a winning performance, but this movie was not entered in the Special Olympics, so everyone is not a winner. He does act mentally retarded, though. That is either pretty funny or horribly offensive, depending on your point of view. If only the makers of The Other Sister had realized how easily Van Damme can act like a person doing a bad impression of a handicapped person ... my God. The Other Sister could have had Van Damme playing dual retarded roles. And they would have to fight each other ... like retards! That movie would have so awesome, I would have lost control of your bowels for months.
That's right. I control your bowels. You have to pee ... NOW.
The main problem I had with this movie was its shocking lack of
slow-motion roundhouse kicks to the face. Sure, it suffered from bad
acting and a poor plot, but that could have been redeemed with another,
say, thirty slow-motion kicks to the face. That would leave the movie
with maybe twenty minutes of plot, which could be boiled down to
someone saying, "Oh. I guess Jean-Claude doesn't like those guys." This
script is terrible. Jean-Claude is in a movie called "Cyborg" that
features him NOT being a cyborg. Instead, the cyborg is a woman. A
kick-ass woman? That would be cool, but no. She's merely a plot device.
This was originally supposed to be a sequel to the "Masters of the Universe" movie, but was so bad that it was decided not to sully that franchise's good name and simply release it as "Cyborg." Dolph Lungren has gone on record saying that he hates this movie so much that he would be willing to kill 200 pounds of cute puppies just so he never has to see this movie again. Or wait ... I'm sorry. I got myself mixed up with Dolph again (!).
On the bright side, it is amusing to see Jean-Claude handled by a totally inept director. I can imagine Albert Pyun thinking aloud right before filming this movie: "You know, there are a lot of flashbacks in this script, but I don't want to do anything cliché. Black and white photography would be too obvious. Changing the music or adding graininess to the film would just be dumbing it down for the audience. I know! To signify a flashback, I will just have Jean-Claude stare blankly for a few seconds! And I'll have him wear a mop head to kind of sort of look like he really has long hair! Brilliance! Now, how to get rid of earwax? I think I have a gun around here somewhere..." The villain in this movie has a ridiculous voice, but is certainly ripped enough to handle Jean-Claude. So, if nothing else, Jean-Claude fights someone who looks pretty tough. Score one for the filmmakers.
This is a film with bad acting, stupid plot, terrible camera work, and
is clearly just a promotional tool for these "actors." And yet, it is
amazing. AMAZING. AM. AZ. ING. Of course, I'm lying. But the movie has
a few amusing reasons to watch.
For an example of the acting and camera work chops on display in this film, look no farther than the scene with David and his girlfriend at a diner. She has an extended monologue, but the camera repeatedly cuts to David reacting to her. Instead of simply shooting the shot so it could have the semblance of an actual conversation, we are given about ten reaction shots of David not saying anything. And I mean that in the literal and figurative way, since he does not speak and translates nothing through his "acting." The dancing scenes were pretty funny to me, but I don't give a sh*t about group dancing. Maybe they were really good. All I know is that I couldn't tell which dance group was better until the crowd applauded for them at the end of the competitions. And I could only tell then because Steve Harvey would tell us who got the louder applause. There is a character in the movie that is supposed to be a total dance master, but doesn't compete anymore, because he's all about the "art." Now, of course, he has to dance at some point to show off how awesome he is... but I honestly could not tell him apart from any of the other dancers.
I also liked the frequent references to doing things "street." Whenever a dance was allowed to be "street," or no-holds-barred, it looked a lot like all the rest of the dance routines. I guess "street" means "heavily choreographed." Or maybe "street" is referring to the language in the movie. There are several moments where a character makes a pretty lame remark and everyone on the set reacts like the speaker was on Def Comedy Jam. The phrase "oh, snap!" would be fitting in most of these cases.
What would have made this movie better would have been legitimate actors. Just imagine what this movie would be like if you replaced B2K with members of Kenneth Branaugh's Shakespeare films. Sure, the movie would have still been bad and had a dumb plot, but you would have gotten to see Denzel Washington and Keaunu Reeves doing MTV dance moves. And Jeremy Irons could play Steve Harvey's character! That would have been awesome!
This is the most poorly made movie that I can remember being in
theaters. Yes, this movie is bad. However, it is not unwatchable. Let's
count this movies strengths (which would be weaknesses for most movies,
but when you fall into the so-bad-it's-still-bad-but kinda-funny
territory, you take what you can get), and come to a better
understanding of the film.
First off, I love the film's concept of a rave. It's a few tents, a (singular) keg of beer, and dancing in the daylight. Oh, and it's outside on an unpopulated island (because those exist near the United States). I don't know where they got the power to run this rave, since the island clearly is deserted and does not have a power source. Maybe they used power generators...and hid them...and muffled the sound. You would think that a movie like this would exploit the idea of a rave to have pointless nudity and partying, but they don't. We don't even have the gratification of seeing these ravers die, for the most part. All we get is a flimsy framing device for the movie that is quickly forgotten.
The movie also opens with narration from the main hero. However, he is narrating things that he could not possibly know about. And then the narration stops. Sure, why not? Now, on to horror movie staples. The nudity in this movie is strange. I think it's a given that horror movies like this need nudity, but even I laughed at one of the two nude scenes. It involves a girl washing her shirt in a sink. Huh? There was a scene involving two ravers making out in the jungle that did not have nudity, but a dirty shirt has it? I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that it's odd. The other nude scene involves a girl getting undressed and swimming while her boyfriend opts to sleep on the beach. During this entire scene, it is clear that there is something scary in the water with this girl. Bubbles are rising up, she's getting scared, and the camera has almost point-of-view shots looking at the girl from underwater. However, there is nothing in the water, apparently. Despite all that foreshadowing, it turns out that the bad guys were in the jungle.
There are also tons, and I mean TONS, of continuity errors in this film. The same scene will change from raining to not raining, depending on the camera shot. Characters just emerging from the water are often dry. Sometimes, characters have backpacks and weapons appear on their persons out of thin air. I think the door to the house (yes, of the dead) was even blown up twice.
My favorite part of the movie is not even in the film. On the DVD insert, each of the main characters (the ones who survive the initial purging of ravers) is given a military title and weapon of choice. For instance, the Asian woman is a martial arts master. However, the character Simon, who is constantly shown to be a total moron, is identified as the tactical leader of the group. Good choice, guys.
And who can forget the video game clips? The clips in the movie rarely have anything to do with what's happening on screen, and on those rare occasions where the video clips and the scene coincide, I would bet money that it was coincidence. Most of the clips are not even played by a real person. Instead, the screen has "press start to play" or "insert coins" or something like that flashing in the corner. The filmmakers did not even buy the video game they were taking clips of! Another interesting part of the movie is the logic of becoming zombie. Instead of becoming a zombie when you are bitten, like in most zombie movies, you must be injected with a serum. I think you have to be alive for this to work, but I may be mistaken. I would double check, but that would require watching this movie sober. Now, I know this isn't exactly a classic zombie movie, and I do appreciate when movies make up their own rules for classic movie monsters. However, this whole serum business is ridiculous. That means that all of the ravers (remember, there are no bodies found at the rave or anywhere else) were killed and then dragged to the secret lair of the serum doctor, who injected them and turned them into zombies. Apparently, the doctor had been preparing for an unprecedented rave on his deserted island and had made an extra large vat of serum to inject dozens of people with.
All in all, there is a lot to laugh at in this movie (I didn't even talk about the Matrix-style shots), but I wouldn't recommend it without a few friends and beer. Or, watch it on a Nyquil buzz when you're sick and falling asleep on the couch. That might be the best way to watch House of the Dead.
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