SUDDEN DEATH (1995, DVD, Erich: 6/2/2016)While this "'Die Hard" clone set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is a little clunky around the edges (cardboard spectators, visible stunt doubles, straightforward narrative with no major plot twists, etc.) it's also a perfect time capsule of an action movie template that got pushed aside by the slick Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster formula. Shame, because the casting of Jean-Claude Van Damme takes advantage of his ability to project confusion and vulnerability. Whatever faults "Sudden Death" has when measured against the template, at its core there's the heart/soul of a reluctant hero (former firefighter downgraded to fire marshal) fighting to save his kids/civilians from a hiss-worthy villain (Powers Boothe hamming it up). That counts a lot in this overdone-to-death gimmicky genre. 4 EXPLODING PENGUIN PLUSHES (out of 5). KINDERGARTEN NINJA (1994, A.Prime, Chaybee: 6/6/2017)While Joe Montana went on to great fame and fortune after 'The Catch,' his 49ers teammate Dwight Clark got to co-star with J! royalty George Chung in this D.A.R.E. sponsored movie about karate overcoming drug dealers. Who says there's no life after football? :-P Despite its low budget and clearly-shot-on-video production values "KN" has honest-to-goodness entertaining scenes, including the only time in an action movie that a hero kicks ass while singing karaoke. It doesn't fly as high as "Hawkeye," but what does? 3.75 DISAPPROVING BRUCE LEE JAWLINES (out of 5)THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991, Blu-ray, JGodsey: 6/2/2016)This is Shane Black's amusing cynicism formula distilled into its purest cinematic essence, with Tony Scott's eye for slick camera placement and movement giving even the most mundane throwaway lines (particularly foul-mouthed Danielle Harris) the veneer of trashy pop art. What was over-the-top in 1991 feels contemporary today, especially the cynicism toward professional athletes/team owners and audience's ability to embrace an alcoholic has-been private eye (Bruce Willis in old man mode) as our hero. We grow old and safe in our viewing choices, but "TLBS" remains unchanged in its uncanny ability to entertain by embracing the action movie tropes it gleefully disregards to sneak another "head or gut?" jab. Milo would be pleased with Joseph, indeed. 4 FIERY BOUNCING BALLS (out of 5)And speaking of Marlon Wayans' older brother...MOST WANTED (1997, VUDU, JP: 6/21/2018)It's an old-school "Law & Order" reunion as Jill Hennessy and Paul Sorvino are recruited by sharpshooter Marine Kevin Dunn (star/writer/producer Keenen Ivory Wayans) to clear his name after he's framed by a shadow government agency for assassinating the first lady. There's sporadic action, but for the most part this is "The Fugitive" in L.A. with Wayans trying to bring down the mini-bosses standing between him and Jon Voight (who projects so much of himself it's weird). "Most Wanted" takes itself and its plot too seriously, but the few times it wants to (civilians chasing after Dunn for reward money getting massacred by traffic) there's some fun to be had here. It's fine... barely. 3 MONTEL WILLIAMS AUTOGRAPHS (out of 5)
Sudden Death was shot in Pittsburgh, a place I lived for a while. There were film shoots happening frequently there because of the tax credits on offer. The big shoot during my time there was The Dark Knight Returns, which partially blocked a major thoroughfare for about a month. Sudden Death was one of many productions in Pittsburgh in the 1990s. A Bruce Willis film called Striking Distance was a notable production. The museum scenes (The Carnegie Museum) and the cage scenes of Silence of the Lambs were shot in the city as well.
Yeah, l like that Van Damme has a couple of scenes with the NHL French players to (a) establish he played semi-pro hockey in his youth and (b) has a foreign accent. The whole movie has a grimy homemade feel, and that gives it personality. And dude, freakin' Mrs. Roeper from TV's "Three's Company" got it worst of all. That was brutal. 🥶🙄
Correction, that's a Canadian player, not French. Or if you wanted to be more specific, you could say French-Canadian or Quebecois. (There have been very few French NHL hockey players...like maybe a dozen ever)
You're right, French-Canadian covers it. 🎿 Shows you how little l know about hockey, which doesn't affect anybody's enjoyment of "Sudden Death" at all. 🎱
In honor of Mikko Viinikka, it is a Renny Harlin double feature.THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (1996)Ah… the 1990s. I was a teenager most of that decade, so this should be a sweet spot when it comes to popular culture. The weird thing is that I felt completely alienated by the popular culture of the period. I could not stand Friends and would not have had any interest in The Long Kiss Goodnight. This was also the time I started to get interested in older movies and unpopular styles of music. I will begin by stating that I was entertained by The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena Davis is terrific in her dual role of Samantha/Charlie. Samuel L. Jackson has never been my favorite actor, but he fits into his role here. The staging of the action is exemplary. Having the story take place around Christmas was an amusing twist; it dives into the Christmas theme quite deeply. What I was not particularly fond of was the main villain, Timothy. I just did not find him threatening enough. He kept talking and talking and talking, but I wanted him to do something. His end was on the anticlimactic side.Interestingly, the story is set in the area of Pennsylvania that I live in. (The credits list that it was shot in Ontario, Canada, however.) There are towns named Honesdale and Stroudsburg around here. The geography is just a little different from the film. You will never see a sign that has Scranton and Patterson on it here. It would just be Route 80 East going into New Jersey. While watching The Long Kiss Goodnight, I was pondering the differences between 1980s and 1990s action films. I find it difficult to identify them. The stories and actions scenes are equally over-the-top, and the heroes survive situations that defy reality. It has to be something in the little details of the script: the way characters are written, the structure of the story, or the directing instructions. There are frequently more turns to the narrative of a ‘90s films than one typically finds in the 1980s. There also tends to be more intentionally comedic elements in the ‘90s. What are any of your thoughts on the subject?DIE HARD 2 (1990)This is definitely more in the ‘80s action mold. John McClane is saving the day again during Christmas season. This time the trouble is at Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. There is a little bit of current events thrown in: Manuel Noriega and Oliver North. I have not watched Die Hard 2 since the early 1990s.Though there is not much that is new in the sequel, it manages to be a very entertaining ride. There are lots of familiar faces: Dennis Franz, Franco Nero, William Sadler, Robert Patrick, and John Leguizamo.It was amusing to observe Harlin slipping a little Jean Sibelius music into the soundtrack.
The first three years of a new decade are carryovers from the culture and society of the previous decade. Not even John McClain saying 'It's the 90's, lighten up!' can make "Die Hard 2" any less an 80's action flick than "Tremors" or "Back To The Future 3." Then again, "The Last Boy Scout" is only a year older than these movies and it has nailed 90's cynicism to a tee. It's possible, but not a science.
Aww, I'm touched. My boy Renny has made a lot of crap, but the two you watched are probably the two best movies he's made.He always slips in something Finnish in his movies, like Sibelius, the Finnish flag or Finlandia vodka.
I while I may not enjoy ALL of Renny's movies, I appreciate the feeling that he was always earnest in his projects and never felt he phoned it in for a check. CUTTHROAT Island is a mess but it's an ambitious failure mess.
THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (1998, Antoine Fuqua)You come for the Chow Yun-fat, you stay for the Mira Sorvino. And you enjoy the car wash shoot out.
Yes. Yes you do. To all three of those.
On Deadly Ground (1994, dir. Steven Seagal)In his vanity project and only directorial effort, White Savior and Biggest Badass Who Ever Drew Breath Steven Seagal adopts himself into the Alaskan Native culture, cures Mike Starr of racism with a few punches, negs Joan Chen, brutally murders the greedy villains and their innocent employees, and delivers an intolerably long and sincere "save the Earth" speech overlaid by stock footage. Meanwhile, Michael Caine collects a paycheck.Mission: Impossible (1996, dir. Brian De Palma)Even though this is the fifth best of the six M:I movies, it's still a solid spy romp. The dangly scene is iconic, the train setpiece is great (as long as you don't make the mistake of comparing it to the later movies), and De Palma directs the shit out of the movie. The almost quarter century since its release has turned the tech from state of the art to quaint.The Gideon Bible "reveal" still makes no sense to me.
The Gideon bible was stamped as being from the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Phelps brought it with him to Prague because he was using biblical passage in his correspondence with Max.
Yeah but Max says Phelps didn't use biblical passages.
The only thing I could think was that Phelps needed to reference the Bible with coded language. I think the most plausible explanation is David Koepp wrote one scene, and Robert Towne wrote the other. The biggest problem with Mission Impossible is the whole Job 314 subplot doesn't make any sense. Or if it does, its something that can only be understood by someone with a deep understanding of AOL.
He didn't quote scriptures but he did use Religious messageboards to contact Max.
The River Wild (1994)I’m a total sucker for the yuppies-in-peril subgenre that was all over the place in the 90s (Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, so many others) and this fits right into that sweet spot. Meryl Streep and her fractured family head out to the wilds of Montana on a white-water rafting trip only to find themselves menaced by violent thieves Kevin Bacon and Baby John C. Reilly.The family-in-danger stuff is nothing you haven’t seen before, but the scenery is spectacular and the rafting sequences have some genuine white-knuckle tension to them. The cast is uniformly good, Bacon in particular seems to be having fun as the manipulative criminal who needs Streep to get him down the river, and David Strathairn, practically hidden from view by a pair of extremely 90s glasses, has a few moments to shine as Streep’s semi-estranged husband. Also of note is the family dog Maggie, who gets a handful of fun action beats all her own. It may not be art, but it’s entertaining and beautiful to look at so I’ve got no complaints.
Money Train (1995) - First time watch. I hate to admit that the third attempt to capture that Snipes/Harrelson cinema magic (after Wildcats and White Men Can't Jump) left me cold. This was all over the place. Theoretically an action movie, but long stretches where it's just a weepy love triangle between the two and Jennifer Lopez. A major storyline that ends halfway through. And a lot of 90's elements that should have stayed there. Like Robert Blake. Because F that guy.
watched not too long ago. felt the same.
The Specialist (1994, dir. Luis Llosa)A pissing contest between three middle-aged men, with a twenty-something woman caught in the middle. Charming.Sly Stallone and Sharon Stone have all the sexual chemistry of two planks of wood. Plus the actors have a 12 year age difference, but Stone's character is clearly written as being in her early 20's, so the characters are about 25 year apart. Eww.Batman Forever (1995, dir. Joel Schumacher)In celebration of its 25th anniversary and in memory of Joel Schumacher.It's unmistakably Schumacher all right, over-the-top performances, neon lights, dry ice and all. It's goofy and I'm a fan of goofy. I sanction this buffoonery.
Nowhere to run (1993) I’ve watched a bunch of JCVD movies this year (this was number 14!), so this was a great chance to watch one I hadn’t seen. This is Van Damme’s quiet, man on the run movie. He spends time just kind of hanging out at Rosanna Arquette’s farm with her and her kids and protects her from greedy land developers. It’s pretty low key, but it’s a solid movie and it’s one of my favorite Van Damme performances.
L.A. Wars (1994, dir. Tony Kandah, Martin Morris)Fucking A.
Sudden Death 1995, dir. Peter HyamsThis 90s Van Damme movie slipped past my radar during my video store youth. This is probably the most expensive movie in which JCVD had top billing and holy shit, is the money all on the screen. I loved this movie, probably because it feels so good to visit mid-90s big budget another again.Mr. Vargas already summed it up nicely above, but my thoughts:•Alternate title: Under Siege: Hockey Stadium•Set to another soundtrack, JCVD kicking the shit out of the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot would be downright slapstick.•Powers Boothe plays the smarmiest motherfucker on the planet, and I loved every second he was on screen.• THAT man is playing Doom•JCVD is next-level MacGuyver: he can improvise a dart gun, mix homemade bombs in mason jars and hotwire a sports stadium•This movie takes about 40 minutes before JCVD kicks the shit out of someone and that is too long to wait
"THAT man is playing DoomThe tech guy who looks like Penn from Penn & Teller? 🤗"This movie takes about 40 minutes before JCVD kicks the shit out of someone and that is too long to wait"And when the kicking begins, it's against a female henchman dressed as a Penguin mascot. 🤪😇
I was confused, was the henchman a trans woman? They didn't bother to make a throwaway line to explain it, and being a 90s movie normally the script would include a slur, so I guess I'm grateful it's left ambiguous.
No, she was just a female villain working as part of Powers Boothe's team. In the context of the movie her sexual orientation it's irrelevant. but since she could keep up with JVCD while wearing a Penguin suit the woman must have been a hell of a physical specimen. Either that or Van Damme was pulling his punches because he knew he was beating on a girl, whether it was his new girlfriend (whose body he finds at a stadium office a few minutes later) or the terrorist she turned out to be.
UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY (1995; dir. Geoff Murphy) I've always liked both Under Siege films, but I always remember this one as being lesser. Good, but lesser. It is not. It is very much an equal to the first in all its action movie glory. This one has some very high highs and again an awesome cast. We dont have A guys like Busey or Tommy Lee Jones but we get a silver haired extremely scary and fitting Everett McGill and an appropriately scummy Eric Bogosian. Also a young Morris Chestnut is a terrific underdog sidekick player. There's a ton of knife play and thrills inside and outside of the train and plays the 90s fear of satellites thing to a perfect end.
I've always liked 2 more than 1 as well (they're both awesome, so who cares), but it seems more and more people are coming around! Glad you had fun with this one. "Now, this I'm trained for".
My best friend in college and I would greet each other in the hallways of our dorm screaming at the top of our lungs 'RYYYYBAAAACKK!!!' Really confused the hell out of everyone who saw wondering what we were on. We were high on "Under Siege 2," naturally. :-D
That rules. Jealous of that friendship
That friendship ran its course and ended 17 years ago, but l wouldn't trade those college years/memories for anything. Good times. 🤫🤓
Samurai Cop (1991)So this is going to be a longer meandering post, but I promise it has a point! So my buddy's father in law died a couple years ago. Kind of old school guy, chain smoked and played pool in the basement to get away from everyone. When he died I started hearing about this porno collection he had and how my buddy wanted to get his hands on it just to check it out. So I come over to my buddy's house yesterday and see four giant black trash bags sitting in his living room. I inquire, assuming he's cleaned out his basement or something. He replies, "that's Tim's porn collection." My eyes widen with that "holy shit" look. So we fork through it in awe at its magnitude. I settle on an older VHS because it has an attractive looking redhead on the front, naturally. We head down to the basement, to complete the aesthetic, and plug up the VCR he's borrowed from his parents. Porn has come a long way is my very brief summary of the "film." The point of the story is, that late 90s porno had better acting, editing and production values than Samurai Cop by a good mile. That being said, Samurai Cop has easily been one of the most enjoyable watches of this month. We busted a gut more than once.
I loved every word of this review. And co-sign on the redhead love, naturally.
For a moment I thought the punchline of the story would be that the same actors that appeared in "Samurai Cop" were also on that late 90's porno VHS. I wouldn't have doubted it based on the quality of the... ahem... "acting" in "SC." :-P
That porno was far too high brow (it wasn't very high brow) for anyone that appears in Samurai Cop.
That was one of the best reviews I've read this month!
Rapid Fire1992, dir. Dwight H. Little (you my boy*)After hearing Patrick praise consistently praise this one, I grabbed the Twilight Time release as they were slowly coming to an end. Like most people, my only real exposure to Brandon Lee was ’The Crow’, which is a wildly different character in every context than Jake Lo. I’ve always heard how charming and charismatic he could be, much like his father, but Eric Draven only has time for brooding. This movie lets Lee show his full range and kick a ton of ass in the process. Powers Boothe is always fun, although I was fully expecting him to be the big bad. The villains we do have are certainly subpar, but still perfectly serviceable for a more grounded action movie like this. Little’s direction does a great job of showcasing the actors and stunt performers rather than “editing” together a fight between barely trained stars. Speaking of, I literally fist pumped when Al Leong suddenly appeared from nowhere for a featured fight. It was interesting to see a movie like this addressing the Tiananmen Square massacre, giving our hero an actual political motivation versus the usual “wrong place, wrong time, now you’re stuck” scenario. Even more than ’The Crow’, this film really makes one sad over the loss of such a great burgeoning talent because it shows a level of energy, enthusiasm, and charm that’s rarely matched.
Now you gotta keep the Brandon Lee train going and see Showdown in Little Tokyo!
Yup, been tracking that one down for a few days. Dolph is in it too? Hell yeah.
The Crow (1994)Another one of my massive blindspots gets taken care of. The Crow is not so much an action movie as a neo-romantic, neo-gothic, neo-noir, supernatural, dark revenge fantasy, and just writing down all these labels fills me with joy. Simply put, I loved it, and it's truly regrettable that I hadn't seen it sooner, like 20 years sooner. A tortured superhero who looks like a vampire, dresses in black and plays a mean guitar comes back from the dead to exact his vengeance and brood a lot, all set to badass 90s alt rock? If I liked it this much now, in my late 30s, my teenage self would have lost his freaking mind.
It's all those things AND this amazing ode to the life of Brandon Lee (whose character is resurrected much like Brandon is every time you watch it). Just your description makes me want to watch it again.Michael Wincott as the bad guy and Jon Polito as 'Gits' the sleazy pawnbroker who gets what he deserves. So fucking good.
It was a movie that came out when I was a teenager. And everyone I knew saw it. I don't know why I haven't seen it yet. I guess I'm kind of worried I won't like it, but your review has convinced me!
Do it! I'm living proof that you can be way, waaay past your teenage years and still fall in love with everything The Crow does.
SOLO (1996) Mario Van Peebles plays a robot supersoldier who develops sentience and goes AWOL, hiding out in a South American village where he befriends the locals and learns to be human, etc. But he’s still able to bring the pain when the army comes after him. It’s a generic Terminator ripoff, but Van Peebles’ performance is interesting. Like Schwarzenegger or even Brent Spiner, Van Peebles takes an emotionless robot role and manages to find the character in it. Then William Sadler goes over-the-top as the kill-happy military villain, as he should. I guess I liked this one. 30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 24 Why does actor Richard Monette, who plays the priest, get the coveted “and” credit during the opening titles? I looked him up, and he’s a huge Shakespeare guy, who for many years was artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Ontario. He did a lot of TV work, but few films. IMDb says that back in 1973 he played a character named “Rock Hard” in a movie called BIG ZAPPER which I absolutely have to see now.
I think a lot of the "and" credit things are negotiated when they're joining up for a film. I guess they really wanted that specific guy.
Plus, wasnt it HMLPN2 a Canadian production? He mihhtvif had more notoriety up north at the time?
The Hunt for Red October (1990, dir. John McTiernan)Hadn't seen it in years, it was a really fun watch. Sean Connery, as always, stands out as one of the great all-time movie stars. Most of the special effects/stunts still held up although I really would love to see this one on the big screen. Highly recommended.
Point Break (1991) Another shameful, How Did I Miss This? gap in my viewing history filled. Point Break is stunning. It is everything you've ever heard it is. Get me two, Utah.
Last Action Hero (1993) Dir. John McTiernan It's insane to me that Michael Bay had a career AFTER this movie. Have we learned nothing?
Trespass (1992)So much talent involved in this movie. No idea why it doesn't get talked about more.
Walter Hill, baby! I haven't seen it, but it's been near the top of "Movies I should have seen by now" list for awhile now. Glad to hear that (yet another) person thinks it's great.
Day 24Guardian Angel (1994)Cynthia Rothrock is a bad ass in a movie that doesn't let her be much of a bad ass. Not enough ass kicking and nudity for this cheap, forgettable, snoozer. Nemesis (1992)A stupid mess of a movie that makes no fuckin' sense. Lots of big guns are fired, lots of mini explosions, lots of cyborgs that turn into sparklers when being shot up. Lots of terrible dialogue done with really bad accents. This movie sucked!
Oh no...Nemesis was my movie I planned to watch today, Albert Pyun day. I guess I'll lower my expectations. Or maybe fish around for another movie..
"A stupid mess of a movie" describes just about any movie Pyun made. You got 50-50 odds of doing better/worse than "Nenesis."🤓😰
Thanks, maybe I'll stick with Nemesis after all. I was looking forward to watching it, after missing it during the "Patrick's birthday live tweet" event.
Goldeneye (1995)I've always liked Pierce Brosnan as Bond. Also it made me want to fire up my N64.
Blown Away (1994)This was amazing! Contender for the best thing I've seen this Junesploitation. Also, my new favourite Stephen Hopkins movie. It's not everyday you seen a Stephen Hopkins movie better than everyone before, and so this is a very special day. The boat blowing up at the end was just fantastic. All time candidate for things getting blown up!
I watched Jeff Speakmans big shot "The Perfect Weapon"(1991) still don't understand how Pauly Shore got like 6 theatrical starrers and Speakman only got one. Such is Hollywood I guess.
Demolition Man (1993, dir. Marco Brambilla)This is a personal favorite, but I’m always amazed by what a weird patchwork monstrosity this is each time I revisit the film: it’s part meathead action movie, part self-aware sendup of meathead action movies, part satire of facism and engineered totalitarian utopianism, and prescient across the board while remaining appealingly loose and silly. Sandra Bullock is definitely the MVP but, aside from a really unfortunately racist adlib, I was really impressed with Wesley Snipes’ performance this time around: he’s basically playing the Joker by way of Dennis Rodman, and his hyperactive chaotic energy is the perfect destabilizing force for the spotless, clockwork backdrop of the film. (Plus, on top of all that, Demolition Man contains what might be the least grating and/or unnecessary Rob Schneider performance so maybe it deserves an honorary Oscar?)Double Impact (1991, dir. Sheldon Lettich)Basically “Goofus and Gallant” as a ‘90s action film. Jean-Claude van Damme plays identical twins, and holy shit, you will absolutely appreciate the sophisticated computer-controlled camera movements and optical effects used to double Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers more when you notice one JCVD is always under/overlit or slightly out of focus when the twins appear on screen together. The four-minute dayglo sex scene made absolutely zero sense until I remembered that Van Damme cowrote the film. Still, it’s all worth it to get to the killer freeze frame that ends the film.
The Mask of Zorro (1998) and Cliffhanger (1993):These movies are fun. I like it when movies are fun.