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Hooper (1978)
6/10
Merely a series of car stunts but quite well done.
7 September 2018
"Hooper" is another self-indulgent car flick from Burt Reynolds and his frequent director Hal Needham. The film isn't sustained by any kind of plot in particular, more like a series of car stunt scenes. In this regard, it is a pretty well made yarn. Back in the day before all this CGI nonsense, seeing really was believing. If nothing else, the cast look as though they are enjoying the experience. In which case, the viewers ought to do the same. "Hooper" is another rare and collectible Reynolds movie and fans should include it in their collection.
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Stroker Ace (1983)
3/10
About 6 years out of date and pretty poor at that.
7 September 2018
The decline of Burt Reynolds was underway by 1983 when this racing comedy was released. He is simply playing the same character from "Smokey and the Bandit," "Hooper" and "The Cannonball Run." A racing car enthusiast who dreams of the big time. If you enjoy car rallies and such like, you might be able to stay awake some of the time. Otherwise, you shall only finished up being bored rigid. A highly talented character actor like Ned Beatty should have passed on this one.
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1/10
Truly scrapping the bottom of the cesspit!
7 September 2018
This whole film is a disaster waiting to happen. I didn't find this atrocity amusing when I first saw it back in the early 80s. Time certainly hasn't altered my opinion. For one thing, Burt Reynolds is reduced to making a pointless cameo. It is a decidedly surreal moment, seeing as the new Bandit suddenly turns into the one the fans love the most. Adding more sexual content doesn't exactly help and it is all in vain. Giving those Texan tycoons more screen time, was the worst possible move. The characters are only supposed to appear at the beginning and then near the end. Otherwise, they don't possess much longevity. Jerry Reed does his best in the lead but he simply doesn't have the on screen qualities of Burt Reynolds. Jackie Gleason is doing his usual but the fun has evaporated. Absolutely dreadful in every department.
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3/10
Dire from beginning to end!
7 September 2018
There was absolutely nothing to be gained from making a sequel to the 1981 movie, "The Cannonball Run." At least that one gives you a bit of entertainment value on occasion. The above film certainly doesn't, in any way! The script is one of the worst in Hollywood history (along with most of them these days) and that is saying something. The cast are merely going through the motions - very perceptive of them would you not say?
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Malone (1987)
7/10
The mercenaries meet their match!
7 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Malone" came at a time when the name of Burt Reynolds was no longer considered a top box office draw. A series of poorly received films had knocked his career off course by about 1983. The above movie does include some effective scenes of action, even though the plot is about as routine as it gets. A former assassin for the C.I.A (Reynolds) takes refuge in a small town that's situated out in the sticks, so he can weigh up his future options. The local community is held in a grip of fear and tyranny by a group of mercenaries who use the town for their own illegal activities. Along comes our hero, aiming to put things to rights! One of my favourite scenes from the film, is the confrontation that takes place on the bridge. My brother and I always enjoy the humour in the scene as well. It makes a change to see Burt Reynolds acting a bit more dramatically, as opposed to his usual charming, devil-may-care, cheerful self.
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Shamus (1973)
7/10
Quite effective Reynolds offering.
7 September 2018
"Shamus" is one of the more obscure movies from Burt Reynolds. Obtaining it on DVD is not an easy task, nor was it available on video for long. Regardless, this is a pretty good film. The pace is quite tight, there is a sense of style about the production and Burt Reynolds oozes with sexual charisma. He plays a private eye who is employed for a job that pays $10,000. He realises that it's all too good to be true. Sure enough, the bad guys begin appearing and problems soon arise....... "Shamus" was one of the most violent films at this stage of Reynolds's career. Some of the death scenes leave little to the imagination. This feels more like an up to date version of some of those 1940s Film Noir productions. I'd call it an affectionate tribute. The script could have been a bit more descriptive at times, plus the story seems a bit on the confusing side.
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Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet (1968)
Season 2, Episode 3
8/10
A great episode from a troubled series.
31 August 2018
It is no secret regarding the various difficulties which occurred during the making of this "Sherlock Holmes" series. Original leading man, Douglas Wilmer, had left the series after having a falling out with the BBC. By the time 13 more Holmes stories had been commissioned, Peter Cushing had stepped in to play the Baker Street sleuth. Consequently, he didn't retain overly fond memories of his time on the series. "A Study in Scarlet" makes for marvellous viewing, in spite of the changes made from the original novel. The episode makes no reference to Watson being introduced to Holmes after having been demobbed from the army. However, the actual plot is quite accurately depicted. Personally, I find Peter Cushing to be a superb Sherlock Holmes. Whilst I understand the actor was unhappy with his own performance, his usual solid professionalism is very much in evidence. He also manages to convey some of the character's personality traits: sudden impatience, pomposity regarding his own abilities, being a bit foolhardy at times etc. The episode is one of only 6 that exist in the television archive (thanks a lot BBC!) but all are worth watching.
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2/10
Arthur Conan Doyle would be ashamed!
29 August 2018
This has to be one of the worst films made that is based upon Sherlock Holmes. Why the film had to be given a contemporary setting, heaven only knows! That terrible jazz music doesn't exactly help. Christopher Lee is a good choice for the Baker Street sleuth but honestly, his voice didn't need to be dubbed. I can't enjoy his performance properly as a result. Terence Fisher wasted his time and his talent on this rubbish.
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4/10
Turgid, boring, predictable and poorly plotted.
29 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Jeremy Brett looked most unwell in the last few years of his time as Sherlock Holmes. His pallid appearance and his lacklustre energy would mare his remaining performances. This feature length adaptation of "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" is a prime example of Brett's poor physical health. Even so, he is a real trouper and is not to blame for this rambling mess of a production. From the beginning, "The Last Vampyre" loses its way via being confusingly plotted, containing some ridiculous references to the "Hammer" films, a thin telepathy that is certainly not good enough to be sustained for over 90 minutes and a highly unsatisfactory conclusion. Nothing is really solved, regarding the vampire-like character. There are only loose references made to the original story but these offer little compensation. Highly respected character actor Maurice Denham is on hand as the local vicar.
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7/10
A problem that's more knotty than usual.
29 August 2018
"The House of Fear" isn't a bad Sherlock Holmes film by any means. Its approach to the story by keeping it low key, works to the film's advantage and it's always good to see Dennis Hoey as the bumbling Inspector Lestrade. However, the narrative becomes rather contrived by half way and that simply can not be allowed to happen when a film is only just over an hour in length. Fortunately, the pace regains momentum before the final 15 minutes. The ending was a bit of a downer as I was expecting something different. One of the last good quality films with Basil Rathbone as the famed sleuth but the quality was gradually on the wane.
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10/10
Rathbone and Bruce shine!
29 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"The Scarlet Claw" ranks as one of the best Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone. This was one of three releases from 1944, the others also worthy of note. The above film is motivated by a good story that really grips on more than one occasion. There is atmosphere and suspense throughout and the gothic look is a big plus. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are on fine form as their respective characters, plus their on screen chemistry is much in evidence. If only Dennis Hoey had been on hand, that would have been great. The method in which the murders are executed, is quite graphic for a film of this era. However, there is no actual bloodletting to be found. I enjoy the fact that the villain's identity was kept a secret until the end. It helps with maintaining a sense of intrigue. The setting of "The Scarlet Claw" has been completely changed from Baker Street to a village in Canada. Quite a refreshing change as well. Anyone who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes shall enjoy this one.
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7/10
Better than I expected.
21 August 2018
By 1946, the "Sherlock Holmes" movies were drawing to a close. Basil Rathbone was beginning to make it known of his growing boredom with the character and felt he had nothing else to add to it. In spite of all that, "Terror by Night" is a fairly good film. The pace is good, there is still room for some intrigue and the production isn't hampered by the restricted and limited number of sets. The one thing I didn't like too much, was the usual cringe worthy attempts by the Americans in putting on a cockney accent! It is embarrassing to say the least. The other criticism I have to offer, is that the villains of the piece are rather dull. Nothing very interesting about them. "Terror by Night" is certainly better than the last Holmes instalment by quite some way.
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Raffles (1975– )
6/10
A rather tame production of an interesting character.
21 August 2018
I was expecting good things from this 1970s series of "Raffles." I can certainly understand why this popular character would be adapted for TV, to cash in on the success of the short stories. Alas, the results are a mixed bag. Altogether - including the pilot episode - 14 instalments were made. For me, that is quite enough. The plotting of most of the episodes is rather weak, causing the narrative structure to become compromised. There isn't much to keep me interested, once a plot is difficult to follow. Anthony Valentine is superbly cast in the title role. As the gentleman thief, his smooth charm and his diction add to his performance. The one who plays his sidekick Bunny, is about as pointless and irritating as it could be. The character has little to do throughout the series and shouldn't have been made a regular character. There are a few episodes that I found to be quite satisfactory but that's about all.
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The Persuaders! (1971–1972)
8/10
Great fun all the way!!
14 August 2018
"The Persuaders" was the last of the truly great shows from "ITC." By 1971, Lew Grade had spent several years at the top of his game and had produced some solid entertainment. Now it was all about to draw to a close and would do by the mid 70s. The above show is carried along marvellously by Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. (R.I.P) Their on screen chemistry is so natural and also funny. They both maintain the shows lighthearted tone and still enjoy themselves into the bargain. 24 episodes resulted and I would rate half of them from being excellent to good. The pace never lets up, as our two wealthy heroes travel the globe and taking on all the villains that cross their path. Some great actors to be found here. Derren Nesbitt, Nigel Green, Ian Hendry, Patrick Troughton, are just a few of them. It makes for a refreshing change to see actual foreign locations being used for the series and this works well. Great fun all the way.
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The Champions (1968–1969)
5/10
An interesting concept with mixed results.
14 August 2018
The idea behind "The Champions," is certainly an interesting one and should have made for a classic series. Having regular characters who are imbued with special powers, is a pretty good gimmick. Sadly, what we are left with, is something where by the final results are weakened by the following. The three leads are about as dull as they come. There is ZERO chemistry between them and they don't seem very enthusiastic about giving even a digestible performance. Having an American in the cast didn't make any difference either. The other problem I find, is that some of the episodes are poorly written. Some are rubbish because they don't make much sense and others are just drawn out by becoming contrived. The title music is actually better than I expected and Anthony Nicholls is well cast as the boss. The opening episode was OK and there are about 7 others that I can tolerate. How on earth this series lasted 30 episodes, I shall never know! 12 of them would have been more than enough.
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6/10
Jet Li has made better ones than this.
11 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I was expecting "Tai Chi Master" to be an entertaining and dramatic martial arts movie. Instead of which, I got to see a production where the script can't seem to decide if the film should be serious or more tongue in cheek. About halfway through, it's decides to keep the proceedings on a more serious note. Jet Li does his best to put on a more humorous performance but he's not in the league of Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung. The fight scenes are very good but that can only compromise for so much
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7/10
A good film with enough destruction to satisfy one and all.
11 August 2018
"Universal Soldier" was the first JCVD movie I came across but it's taken me about 24 years to see it. Now that I have, I have to admit that it's a pretty good flick. Jean-Claude Van Damme does his usual and includes some impressive moves. Dolph Lundgren makes the mistake of trying to act and it doesn't come off well. The climatic one on one confrontation between the two is worth waiting for. It's a knock down, drag out affair and very entertaining.
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6/10
Not bad but not comprehensive.
11 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This must have been the first documentary on martial arts legend Bruce Lee. It was filmed not long after his untimely passing and before the release of "Enter the Dragon." This isn't without merit but a lot was omitted. No mention of Bruce Lee trying to make his own version of "The Silent Flute," (would have been interesting to see) no reference to how Lee came to form Jeet Kune Do and scant details about his rebellious childhood. Rather disappointed by all this. The photos of him testing for various film roles for a proposed project with the Shaw Brothers in 1972, are quite interesting. Judging by the above, Bruce Lee looked a natural for Asian period martial arts movies. If only it could have come true.......... There are some good clips from his films but my favourite is when footage of the original version of "Game of Death" is shown. Superb. Documentaries like "I am Bruce Lee" and "The Legend" are a lot better though.
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4/10
Another pointless Bruce Lee rip off.
10 August 2018
The Hong Kong film industry was becoming invaded by all the Bruce Lee imitators who came along during the latter half of the 70s. Most of the films that resulted, are instantly forgettable. The above movie is barely tolerable. The story is meant to be about the brother of Chen Chen (Bruce Lee) who is out to avenge his brother's death and to destroy the Japanese at the same time. All I can see, is a load of scenes thrown together with no sense of narrative, plus some rather poor attempts at acting and direction. Bruce Li is one of the better Bruce Lee lookalikes. He tends to lack charisma but his fighting skills are OK. In spite of all the film's shortcomings, the martial arts scenes are digestible - just about.......
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10/10
Blistering Martial Arts all the way!!
10 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Fist of Fury" is an improvement over Bruce Lee's previous movie, technically speaking and the story is stronger. Above all, the martial arts choreography is simply superb and represents the best of its kind. The violence is brutal and unpretentious. There is some history associated with this film, focusing on the hatred between the Chinese and the Japanese races. That is the reason why the plot is better than usual. Bruce Lee plays the avenging student of a local Chinese school who seeks revenge for the murder of his teacher. He soon runs afoul of this Japanese school - or should that be the other way round? Soon, all hell breaks loose as Lee exerts his own brand of justice - in Kung Fu style! There is added tension in the story, courtesy of the Chinese citizens being under the control of the Japanese. Bruce Lee is a more hard-edged character in this film. He displays almost no humour or charm and is strictly business. He dispatches his enemies without a second thought and without conscience. His anger and grief surface on more than occasion and in spectacular fashion. The fight scenes are amongst the best I've ever seen in a martial arts movie and I have watched a lot of them. Real life student of Bruce Lee - American Bob Baker - is on hand as a Russian martial artist. His fight against Lee is not to be missed. For the first time, we bear witness to the use of the nunchukus. In the hands of Lee, they are an exceptionally dangerous weapon. At the beginning when Lee first enters the Japanese school, he says the line: We Chinese are NOT sick men," the cinemagoers went wild with applause during the film's release in 1972. The Chinese people immediately regarded Bruce Lee as their hero and who can blame them? "Fist of Fury" proved to be so successful at the Asian box office after breaking all records, that two different sequels were made. In my opinion, neither one of them can match the original.
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Bloodsport (1988)
8/10
JCVD has arrived with a vengeance!
9 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Bloodsport" is where it all began for Jean-Claude Van Damme's movie career. There are several styles of martial arts on display during the course of the film. The person who JCVD is playing - Frank Dux - is allegedly a fraud. He can't prove that he set all of those records during his so called distinctive career advice a martial artist. It's great to see Bolo Yeung in action again and playing a ruthless competitor during the martial arts tournament.
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Death Warrant (1990)
5/10
A standard but good early Van Damme vehicle.
9 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Death Warrant" is another early JCVD movie which helped him on the way to success. The violence is pretty grim but the martial arts has been slickly put together for the fight scenes. Van Damme is up against corruption at a high security prison, where the worst kinds of criminals are to be found and the prison guards abuse the responsibility they have. Going undercover as a newly convicted felon, Van Damme uncovers some sinister events and has to endure the company of some of the less civilised gentlemen. One inmate in particular is the king of the psychos and he wants JCVD! The story isn't much to write home about and is hard to keep up with. It's best to just enjoy Van Damme doing his thing.
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6/10
Offers a more controversial view.
9 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This documentary has opted to take a different approach in relating the Bruce Lee story. Various people who were interviewed for this tribute, seem to place a lot of emphasis upon the less positive aspects of the martial arts legend. Bruce Lee's lack of patience whilst teaching his students, his affair with Betty Ting Pei, an alleged encounter with a crime syndicate during the filming of "The Big Boss," his being open in criticising the traditional styles and having a tendency to brag and to showboat. Some of the above is best taken with a grain of salt. There are better documentaries out there.
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4/10
Oh dear Seagal!
8 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"On Deadly Ground" may have had good intentions, judging by the synopsis. The final results are nothing short of disastrous. Steven Seagal convincing himself that he's a director, doesn't exactly help matters. His "direction" is heavy going to say the least and can't maintain a good enough pace. Michael Caine - in yet another woeful film - tries and fails dismally to put on an authentic American accent. His hair dye job only makes it worse! One scene that invites unintentional mirth, is the one in the local bar when Seagal crosses swords with bigot Mike Starr. The reason why this is all a bit ridiculous, is when the two men test each other's hand speed. Seagal was by now piling on the pounds, so his opponent here would have to be on the stout side. Otherwise, a skinnier opponent would only make Seagal look decidedly slow....An absolute farce! This film is about loads of money being wasted on a story which wasn't developed properly. It becomes just another excuse to have good guys vs the bad guys, guns and all.
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5/10
The first one was all that was needed.
8 August 2018
After the unexpected success of the first "Karate Kid" movie, someone felt the need to make two more of them. Admittedly, the original movie is a good one and it deserves its cult status. Second one is quite poor. Part 3 is ever so slightly an improvement over its predecessor but it's still routine fare. As before, the martial arts is fairly tame stuff. Old Pat Morita still can't move all that quickly as his attempts at Karate only induce a few chuckles! It was good to see Martin Kove return as the former nemesis of Daniel La Russo. At the beginning, we are shown how the passing years have treated Reese (Kove). His dojo - once a thriving establishment - is now completely deserted. After the rather embarrassing events of the first movie, Reese is no longer in demand to teach Karate. We see a lot of unpaid bills and a man who appears to be a shadow of his former self. The camera passes along some remnants of the past: tournament trophies, posters advertising his dojo etc. The story offers nothing new at all but is just about digestible.
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