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Showing posts from October 11, 2015

Review: Dogfight

Set in 1963, River Phoenix and his fellow marine buddies (Anthony Clark, Richard Panebianco, and Mitchell Whitfield) are partaking in a ‘dogfight’, a bet to see which one of them can bring along the ugliest date. Phoenix eyes mousy, folk music-loving waitress Lili Taylor and brings her to the local bar for the judging. A trip to the ladies’ room sees Taylor informed by another girl (played by E.G. Daily, who ‘wins’ the bet) that she’s part of a bet, as well as the nature of the bet. She is outraged and hurt she lets Phoenix have it, storming out. But unlike his idiot comrades, Phoenix has somewhat of a (guilty) conscience and a heart, and spends the rest of the night making it up to her. He starts to develop feelings for the girl, and begins trying to win her over. Taylor starts to see that there’s more to this young man than an immature dickface who plays unglamorous women for cruel sport. His friends are still complete dicks, though. Meanwhile, when dawn comes, Phoenix and his comra…

Review: Fist of Fury

Bruce Lee stars as Chen Zhen, a martial arts student in the 1930s whose master is murdered, resulting in an enraged Lee taking on rival Japanese, who control Shanghai, and beating the crap out of them. Riki Hashimoto plays the leader of the Japanese who tries to pressure the martial arts school to hand over Chen Zhen or else he’ll have the school closed down and everyone arrested. Robert Baker plays Hashimoto’s Russian ally, whilst Paul (Ping Ou) Wei plays a slimy interpreter, as he later would in “Way of the Dragon”.

Written and directed by Lo Wei (“The Big Boss”), this 1972 martial-arts flick is far and away Bruce Lee’s best-ever starring vehicle, and probably one of the best martial-arts films ever made. This is the one to see, folks. It kicks arse. It’s the story of Chen Zhen, whose tale would also be told in Jet Li’s “Fist of Legend” and the uneven “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen” (with a slightly miscast Donnie Yen). This is definitely more indicative of director Lo…

Review: Rambo: First Blood Part II

Imprisoned for blowing shit up in a small Oregon town in “First Blood”, this sequel has John Rambo (Sly Stallone) approached by old mentor Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) with an irresistible proposition: Rescuing lost American POWs in Vietnam. Well, hold back there just a second. The mission is actually for Rambo to merely go there, take pictures and then it will be decided if the rescue mission is a go or not. Try telling that to Rambo, though. He has a bit of a problem forgetting that the War was a long time ago. Charles Napier is the suit in charge of the mission, Julia Nickson plays Rambo’s pretty Vietnamese guide, Martin Kove plays an American soldier and pilot, and Steven Berkoff turns up as a nasty commie Russian Lt. Colonel in cahoots with the equally nasty Vietnamese ‘coz…communism?

Nowhere near as interesting as its underrated predecessor, this 1985 sequel was directed by George P. Cosmatos (“The Cassandra Crossing” and “Tombstone”) and scripted by star Sly Stallone with a b…

Review: Out of the Furnace

Christian Bale plays a working class Pennsylvania mill worker with a loving girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), and a wayward younger brother (Casey Affleck), whose debts he secretly pays off to bookie Willem Dafoe. Affleck is a troubled war veteran who just can’t seem to keep it together, Bale worries about him. Unfortunately, one drunken drive and a fatal car accident later, and Bale finds himself doing a prison stint. When he gets out, his dad has died, Saldana has left him for a nerdy middle-aged police chief (Forest Whitaker), and Affleck (who has served yet another tour in the Middle East) is in more shit than he was when Bale went to prison. Affleck (who refuses to work at the steel mill) is supposed to be taking dives in bare-knuckle fighting to pay off his debts to Dafoe, but Affleck is a stubborn SOB who just can’t seem to lay down. This earns him the psychopathic ire of intense redneck kingpin Woody Harrelson (who is a mean and violent prick…because), and it’s unlikely that even Dafo…

Review: The Man Without a Face

Set in the late 60s, Nick Stahl stars as a sensitive 12 year-old who wishes he knew more about his father, whom his well-meaning but self-absorbed thrice-married mother (Margaret Whitton) refuses to talk about, and who his bitchy older half-sister (Fay Masterson) seems to know more about than she’ll let on too. His younger half-sister (Gaby Hoffmann) is friendly enough, but kind of annoying and not much help. He wants to escape his unhappy home life by going to a military boarding school that his father apparently attended, but having already failed the entrance exam, his mother is reluctant to let him take it again. So Stahl decides to find himself a tutor, and thinks he’s found the perfect one in the facially disfigure, aloof town outcast Mel Gibson. Why this guy? Because he’s a former teacher. At first, Gibson is completely and abruptly against the idea, but seeing that the boy is adamant, he relents and begins teaching him, albeit in a quite harsh and strict manner. Before long, t…

Review: Sudden Impact

In this fourth outing, Clint Eastwood is back as hard-arse, non-PC detective Harry Callahan, who after yet another perp walks due to a lack of evidence and after his general refusal to do anything by-the-book pisses off his superiors, is given a vacation. Well, sort of. He is shunted off to a small-town precinct not too far out of San Fran, in order to help investigate a serial killing case. The audience already knows that the killer is a woman, gang-rape victim Sondra Locke (whose sister was also a victim and left pretty much a vegetable as a result), who is killing the gang members (who include a sleazy Paul Drake) one by one, shooting them in the head and…the other head. However, it should be noted that one of the rapists is a butch lesbian played by Audrie Neenan. On the side, we have the small-town police chief (Pat Hingle) treating Harry like crap, and mobster underlings pissed off at Harry for kinda sorta causing nasty a Mafioso (uncredited Michael V. Gazzo) to have a fatal hea…

Review: Kalifornia

Journo David Duchovny and his pretentious photographer girlfriend Michelle Forbes plan a road trip to California through Texas and Arkansas, with Duchovny hoping to stop at various destinations that are home to brutal serial murders, his favourite subject. She can take the pictures, he can write the text and hopefully a book will spring forth and make lots of money. Asking for someone to join and share in the travel/petrol expenses, his ad is responded to by Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) an uncouth and seemingly unwashed hick ex-con, who brings his brow-beaten, dopey girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis) along for the ride. Forbes’ Carrie is immediately dismissive and derisive of these lower-class hicks (but feels pity for the physically abused Adele), but Early seems to arouse something in Duchovny’s Brian (Early teaches Brian how to shoot a gun, for instance). That’s because what Brian doesn’t know is that Early is a brutal, soulless killer, and he’s gonna give the rather na├»ve writer one he…

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Confined to District 13, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is struggling with the devastating climactic events of the previous film that saw her home bombed and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) basically left for dead. She is persuaded by rebellion leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and her advisor Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to feature in propaganda pieces as a symbol, the Mockingjay to unite the people behind the rebellion and against the dictatorial President Snow (Donald Sutherland). When Katniss proves somewhat resistant and stiff, she is shown something that brings the horror all-too close to home for her. Thus a fight for the will of the people is waged, as Peeta turns up on government TV with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) to try and dissuade the people from taking up arms, shocking Katniss. Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, and Jeffrey Wright all reprise their roles, with Natalie Dormer turning up as the person shooting Katniss’ propaganda pieces.…

Review: Attack

Set in Belgium in WWII and concerning the infantry company of Capt. Cooney (Eddie Albert), and said soldiers’ growing realisation that their Captain isn’t fit to lead. Most enraged by the situation is Lt. Costa (Jack Palance), who is angered that Cooney didn’t provide the backup he assured Costa was coming during a mission that saw several men killed as a result. Costa believes Cooney is a coward, and indeed he is. Hell, Cooney’s superior Col. Bartlett (Lee Marvin) probably even knows it, but being a lifelong friend of Cooney’s, and wanting to curry favour with Cooney’s important father, he has been looking the other way. Costa decides he’ll give Cooney one more chance. If anyone else in their company dies unnecessarily, Costa will take Cooney out himself! William Smithers plays Lt. Woodruff, who tries to keep the peace between Costa and Cooney, Buddy Ebsen is Costa’s reliable good ‘ol boy right-hand man Sgt. Tolliver, Robert Strauss plays wise-arse Pvt. Bernstein, and Richard Jaeckel…

Review: Scanners

Stephen Lack stars as Cameron Vale, who discovers he is a ‘Scanner’, someone with extraordinary psychic powers. He is trained to hone these powers by eccentric scientist Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan). The idea is for Vale to infiltrate an underground movement of Scanners, led by the cold-blooded Daryl Revok (Michael Ironside), a murderous Scanner who can make people’s heads explode. Jennifer O’Neill plays Kim, another Scanner who is part of a kind of Scanner think tank. Lawrence Dane plays the clearly untrustworthy head of the organisation Dr. Ruth works for.

Of all the films about mentalists or psychics, here’s one of the only ones you really need to see. This 1981 flick from writer-director David Cronenberg (“The Dead Zone”, “The Fly”, “Eastern Promises”, “A Dangerous Method”) has a few wobbly performances here and there, but is for the most part great fun for people who like exploding heads. That’s everyone, right? One of Cronenberg’s best films for sure, if not quite the equal …