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Welcome to the Jungle (2013)
Watched it last night. Bit of a mixed bag for me. First off, the movie looked great. It felt 110% like a theatrical movie. Also, the cast was really likable. The main problem was that it just wasn't that funny. A lot of the humor just tries way too hard and winds up coming off like a 12 year old wrote it. Also, everything seemed to happen way too fast. It felt like they were only on the island for like 5 minutes then all of a sudden, everything goes to hell. There are a few subtle funny moments which are the ones that are most likely to make you laugh. JC again, is the highlight of the movie. I was worried that he was gonna try way too hard to be funny but I thought he did a good job. All in all though, it's decent but not great. It definitely needed some help in the writing department. I'll still be picking it up on blu for my collection and for the special features. Definitely enjoyed Enemies Closer more than this one though. 2.75/5
Enemies Closer (2013)
Fun movie fueled by Van Damme's unhinged performance
Finally watched this. I enjoyed it. The highlight is easily JC's performance, which is one of his best in my opinion. His villain is so wacky and over the top...almost like he was channeling Klaus Kinski or something. Another plus the movie had going for it was the pacing. Once it gets going, it doesn't slow down at all. It almost goes by too fast since it's only 85 minutes. Something I was kind of surprised with was how much JC was actually in it. I mean, this felt like a Van Damme movie! Not just a minute of screen time here and there. He 100% felt like the lead to me. I didn't mind Tom Everett Scott at all. Yeah, his character was a bit of a pussy and he isn't the first actor you would think of for an action role but it was just nice seeing a familiar Hollywood face...and acting wise, I thought he was fine. I would take him as a co star any day of the week over a Randy Couture type. Same goes for Orlando Jones. Everyone else, with the exception of the old guy that lived in the cabin, is a typical generic JCVD direct-to-video co star.
Production wise, I really liked the night time shooting. It hid the tiny budget pretty damn well and it just looked cool in general, I thought. The movie did have a few flaws that were annoying. For starters, Kris Van Varenberg was completely miscast and unconvincing as usual and every time that Linzey Cocker opened her mouth I wanted to hang myself! Also, some of the doubling was overly visible in some shots which is always irritating.
Overall, it may have been a bit of a let down considering that Peter Hyams gave us two of JC's best, but Enemies Closer is still WORLDS better than most other recent JCVD movies. It's a fun little action flick and I could easily re-watch it. 3.25/5
I REALLY LOVED this movie. The vibe was just so different compared to most action movies that come out...and it looked 100% theatrical to me. Looked great in HD too. I can't believe Hyams can churn out these movies with such small budgets. The slow burn that lead to all the action scenes was perfect for the tone of the film. Once the action starts, we are treated to INSANELY VIOLENT and BRUTAL fight pieces which are masterfully executed. My main flaw was the overuse of slow mo in the climax tracking shots. It was still bad ass but it would have packed a bigger punch without it. I knew not to expect a traditional Unisol movie so that aspect didn't ruin anything for me...and honestly, I like Hyams trying new things instead of just making the same movie over and over again like most big Hollywood directors do. He knew he only had a little money to use and he wanted to create something really special with it...and I think he succeeded admirably. The first Unisol will always be my favorite but DOR slightly edges out Regeneration for me because of the unsettling Horror/Noir atmosphere. Just as how Regeneration was my favorite action movie of the 2010, I think DOR will me my favorite of 2012...and both movies came out the same year as an Expendables movie and destroyed them both. 4.25/5
6 Bullets (2012)
Van Damme is in top form
To my surprise, this is playing on Google Play for only 3.99 so I rushed to watch it...twice for that matter. I rather enjoyed it. I'd rank it pretty much on the same level as AG. Both movies were on the cusp of making the leap from being "good" to being "damn good". The script in AG is a bit stronger but JC does a much better job in 6B. He is in fantastic shape and doesn't sleepwalk at all through his performance. He looks and performs the best he has in years. The action is pretty well done and there is a good amount of it. Like AG, Ernie gives us a really cool opening intro to the movie! For the most part, 6B is shot really well, considering the budget. Acting wise, I thought everyone was above average for a DTV...with the exception of Bianca(JC's real daughter). Even though she isn't in it that much, I thought her line delivery was just awful. Kris(JC's real son), however, is better than usual. He still has a lot to learn but he didn't stink up the place like usual. Flannigan was good and I liked seeing him in something other than Stargate. Neal Acree turned out another good music score, although, a lot of it may be a little too piano heavy which kind of kills the tone in a few scenes. It sometimes added a "made for TV" vibe. Overall though, this is another good step for Ernie and definitely one of JC's best DTV's. I'll probably watch it one more time before it expires. 3.25/5
Dragon Eyes (2012)
Old school ass kicking
I was finally able to watch this and I have to say that I enjoyed it. I do agree with some others that the story did have some plot holes, which was the main flaw of the movie. It felt like a lot of the scenes were missing about 5 min that would explain why the next scene plays out how it does. Still, this didn't really affect most of the overall enjoyment factor for me. I thought Cung Le was a cool lead. He has minimal dialog, which is probably a good thing, so he comes off as the strong silent type. As we all know, JC only has a small part...probably about 10 minutes spread throughout the whole movie. His scenes and his performance are both very cool. I didn't really care for how his back story was explained though. The fights do have a lot of slow motion thrown into them but it actually works for the most part. It allows you to feel the brutality of street fighting...plus you see everything clearly, which is great. Hyams knows how to stay on a scene, which I love. As far as the side characters go, they are all clichéd but the acting is actually pretty solid. The guy who plays Beech probably delivers one of the best crack head performances I've seen in a movie. The ending is very abrupt but I felt like it actually fit the tone of the movie. Like Regeneration, I really enjoyed the subtle music score from Michael Krassner too. Overall, the movie isn't great but I thought it was a well made little indie action flick. It totally felt like a late 80's/early 90's beat em up flick like Road House or Perfect Weapon. 3.25/5
Zombie Apocalypse (2011)
Ehh. Not too bad.
Not the best zombie movie but not the worst either. Considering it's an Asylum movie, you have to be a little more forgiving in terms of...well everything. Def their best movie to date though. They even managed to snag Ving Rhames for a lead role, which helped a lot. Once you get passed "made-for-tv" vibe, you may have a OK time with it. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the zombie genre...if it's for free...and if there isn't a much better zombie flick on. 2.5/5
One thing I must say is that Taryn Manning is one of the most annoying and terrible actresses around. Even with all the lousy effects and make-up, she is still the worst part of the movie.
Assassination Games (2011)
Decent little action flick.
Caught this at a theater near by and I have to say that I did enjoy this. It wasn't great or even "really good" but it was better than most of JCVD's other dtv movies(excluding US3 and Replicant)...and better than some of his later theatrical movies(Street Fighter,Double Team,Knock Off, Unisol:The Return). I think putting it on the same level as Wake of Death is pretty fair. I actually may have liked this a little more since it didn't feature the dopey MTV edits that WOD had. The acting was pretty solid all around for the most part. JC's son, Kris' character(Schell) was extremely pointless in my opinion...not to mention he sucked in it. Felt like he was reading his lines the entire movie. I really liked JC and Adkin's chemistry together. They played off each other really well but I was left wanting to see more of them sharing the screen. There were a few aspects I didn't care for but I don't want to spoil anything. Production wise, the movie looks pretty good considering the budget. It's well directed and shot. Good music score too. However, I actually feel like it would have made for a better at home experience than a theatrical one. The sepia tone actually looked a little blurred on the big screen during some of the wide shots...and I did find myself craving a little color. Close ups looked good though. All in all, it was a pretty good movie. This gives me hope for The Butcher. If Ernie Barbarash had a little more money to work with, he'd do a hell of a job. 3/5
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
15 minutes into this, I noticed something strange. I didn't want to turn it off which is pretty rare when talking about most of Van Damme's movies over the past decade. The thing that might kill this movie with some fans is that it is so different from the great original...tons better then the turd of a 2nd one though. It is not a polished Terminator type action flick like the original was. It is much grittier and with some of the locations and fights, it almost has more of a Bourne style feeling to it (not as good of course) with Unisols. The action is well directed...very quick with no dopey slow motion. Even the acting is decent. The main reason for that probably is that the film makers wisely let those actors with accents actually keep them. Too often, they try and hide them horribly and it comes off as a terrible performance. Another thing is that they used subtitles for the terrorists which adds a little authenticity...sounds silly I know but little things like that matter in movies. Mike Pyle is the only one who sometimes comes of as unconvincing but it doesn't really hurt the movie. It is true that Van Damme is only sprinkled throughout, but the film is so fast moving, before you know it, you are already at the final 40 minutes ...and Van Damme owns the *beep* out of it!! It's a blast to see Lundgren too even if it is pretty brief. I didn't really care for how they ended it but it's no big deal. All in all, it is a solid little action flick. It doesn't compare to the original but is still a lot of fun and I look forward to owning the bluray. I thought the music was well done too. Think along the lines of something John Carpenter might have used in a movie. ***out of ****