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Showing posts from May 27, 2012

Review: Silent Rage

Small town sheriff Chuck Norris takes down a psycho killer (Brian Libby), but a mad scientist (an overacting Steven Keats) at a private clinic, decides to use the psycho as a guinea pig to test an experimental new drug that apparently has great healing powers. But wouldn’t ‘ya know it, the nutjob escapes, and hey, now he’s damn-near indestructible! Ron Silver plays a doctor with more scruples than Keats and his colleague William Finley, meanwhile Toni Kalem plays Silver’s sister who is also the love interest for Norris (who otherwise has very little reason for being in this story anyway, outside of having shot the nutter in the beginning). Stephen Furst is Norris’ soft-bellied, soft-headed deputy, AKA Mr. Light Comedy Relief.

Cheap, incompetently written 1982 Michael Miller (“Jackson County Jail”, “National Lampoon’s Class Reunion”) vehicle for karate dude Norris never for a second tries to make it’s stupid plot the slightest bit believable (And what kind of doctors were Silver, Keats…

Review: Ned Kelly

An account of famed Aussie bushranger/anti-hero Ned Kelly (Mick Jagger, with facial hair that makes him look like he ought to stick to barn raising), a petty Irish thief returned to his family (who immigrated to Australia) after three years in prison. Constant battles with the corrupt lawmen see Ned’s poor mum thrown in the clink as payback, and that sets Ned and his brothers (previously just horse thieves and petty crims) right off on a life of robbery and murder, now feeling persecuted by an unjust, British-ruled society. This of course, makes Ned and his gang folk heroes among the lower-class, anti-authority elements of society. Frank Thring turns up at the end as a judge.


Excellent-looking, but confused and rather uninteresting 1970 Tony Richardson (“The Entertainer”, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”) biopic is typical for a film about an Australian subject made by a foreign filmmaker. Richardson sees the story of the Kelly gang as a typical Hollywood western, complete with total…

Review: Road Train

Youngsters on an outback camping trip (lovers Sophie Lowe and Bob Morley, and their squabbling friends Xavier Samuel and Georgina Haig) are run off the road by a huge truck, AKA a Road Train. In all of the chaos, Morley becomes badly injured, and so they decide to confront the truckie, who seems to have stopped. When they get there, the truck appears to be abandoned, however. The film only gets weirder from there, as the four protagonists soon realise that this is no ordinary truck, but a sinister, possibly supernatural entity that will proceed to mess with their minds. David Argue turns up as the nutjob truck driver.

I’m usually the guy lamenting the lack of Aussie genre movies out there and praising them when one comes along. But here’s one you can definitely skip. I guess not all of these Aussie genre films are going to be winners, but by all means, keep ‘em coming. This 2010 directorial debut from Dean Francis and writer Clive Hopkins tries to blend “Duel” (which of course was Ste…

Review: Celebrity: Dominick Dunne

2008 Australian doco from directors Kirsty de Garis and Timothy Jolley probably works best for those more intimately familiar with the career of Dominick Dunne than I am. I’ve heard of him, could pick him out of a line-up (you’ll know him by sight if not name), but wasn’t really aware of what his occupation was. I had the impression that he was one of those red carpet reporters, but although this film sets me straight on that error, it doesn’t really make it clear just how he fell into his numerous professions. It doesn’t go into enough detail as to how Dunne went from soldier to film producer, to fiction writer, to Vanity Fair writer covering mostly celebrity trials (OJ, Phil Spector, etc.). The latter transition is somewhat easy to understand- his beloved daughter Dominique was murdered and he attended the trial, but how does a celebrity-schmoozing, failed producer end up a writer? The transition isn’t adequately explained, and these missing details prevented me from really getting …

Review: The Blood Brothers

Aimless small-time bandits David Chiang and Chen Kuan Tai bond with a more upscale bandit (Ti Lung), who later remembers and the duo (and Cheng Li, Chen’s wife, whom he has a tentative affair with) when the ambitious man becomes a top general in the Qing army. But as Lung becomes more and more ambitious, his relationship with his two ‘blood brothers’ and love for Cheng Li becomes increasingly complicated, and something has to give.

Colourful 1973 Cheh Chang (or Che Zhang) martial-arts saga for the Shaw Brothers plays like “House of Flying Daggers” done three decades before. Ti Lung (whom you might recall as one of the leads in “A Better Tomorrow” from 1986) is particularly good, but some of the other performances are a bit spotty, with the romantic subplot a tad melodramatic (as it tends to be these days as well, in films like “Flying Daggers” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). But who cares, when the martial arts is so good and the film so attractive and effectively staged (espec…

Review: Khartoum

Set in 1885, with the Sudan (populated not only by Sudanese, but Egyptians and Europeans) under attack from a Muslim fundamentalist who calls himself the Mahdi (Lord Laurence Olivier, with a clipped, quite believable accent). Prime Minister Gladstone (Sir Ralph Richardson), wanting to look concerned for his Egyptian allies, but not wanting to commit British forces to what will likely be yet another failure (the Mahdi has already embarrassed a British Colonel’s forces in the opening scenes), decides to send egocentric, bible-thumping, Idealistic General Charles ‘Chinese’ Gordon (Charlton Heston) and aide Richard Johnson, on a mission to try and convince the Mahdi not to attack Khartoum, in the Sudan. Gordon, who is credited with having ended slavery in the Sudan, and the hero of the opium wars (hence his nickname), has no intentions of evacuating Khartoum, instead he tries to force Britain’s hand by staying put in Khartoum. But with the Mahdi totally dedicated to wiping out his enemy, …