Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Junesploitation 2021 Day 23: '90s Action!

61 comments:

  1. JOHN McTIERNAN DOUBLE BILL!

    THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990, Blu-ray)
    for the first time. Also streaming with ads on PLUTO.

    In addition to shepherding the "Predator" and "Die Hard" franchises, you can add original architect of the 'Ryanverse' (or 'Clancyverse' if you include books and videogames) to McTiernan's list of achievements. If this film adaptation of the hugely popular 1984 best-seller novel is the "Dr. No" of the Jack Ryan movie/TV universe, then Alec Baldwin is the Sean Connery of the pack (which makes both actors' eventual face-to-face meet one of this pic's highlights). Having already seen Ford, Affleck, Pine and Krasinski tackle the role in the latter projects, experiencing Baldwin's take on Ryan for the first time feels like watching the creation of the perfect mold of good looks, arrogance, self-confidence and determination from which every subsequent performer drew inspiration. Connery's good too by saying/moving as little as possible (except when killing a guy with his bare hands), which makes Ramius an intriguing character. "Hunt for Red October" also has a murderers' row of top-tier actors (Glenn, Neil, Skarsgรฅrd, Earl Jones AND Jeffrey Jones, Ackland, Thompson, Firth, Jordan, etc.) populating every supporting role. It's a large sausage fest, but a tasty one. :-P For my money Courtney B. Vance stands taller than most of them, though. Whenever Seaman Jones speaks or is tracking other subs (aboard the Dallas or the Red October) you're as invested in his performance as much as the principals. Vance, Baldwin and Connery are the standouts in "Red October's" super-stacked cast.

    Since it's a new-to-me John McTiernan joint I assumed the action was guaranteed to be top-notch. It is, but at the service of an intricate military/political thriller and not the body count crowd. The 'PG' rating keeps the handful of shoot-outs tame and infrequent, but the submarine-on-submarine action is tense as hell and exciting... when it eventually pays off near the end. I pity the young kids that got dragged to theaters to see this in '90, because they were probably bored silly. ILM and Boss Studios' miniature effects are better than the janky chargers and mini-sub blue-screen work, but they're tolerable because the emphasis is on the humans aboard the ships. And it's not "Conan The Barbarian" epic, but Basil Poledouris' choir-heavy soundtracks is appropriately Russian-y. So yeah, the 90's continued where the 80's left off: in John McTiernan's competent hands. 4.25 STANLEY BEARS (out of 5).

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  2. WE INTERRUPT THIS McTIERNAN DOUBLE BILL FOR A LAST-MINUTE BONUS FEATURE: Michael Canton-Jones' OUR LADIES (2021, theater) for the first time.

    I literally just returned from seeing this, a feature I walked into completely blind about anything in it. Had my four 90's action reviews ready to go but I'm inserting it here for a reason. "Our Ladies" (a 2019 Scottish coming-of-age dramedy that sat in the shelf during the Pandemic) (a) is set in 1996, (b) a submarine is prominently featured (just like "Hunt for Red October"...¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯) and (c) revolves a quintet of teenage girlfriends trying to get laid in Edinburgh on the eve of their certain expulsion from the Catholic School where they sing choir. So, get it? '90's "ACTION!" Hey, LOOPHOLESPLOITATION! to you too! :-P

    But seriously, it's been a while since once-prominent Scottish director Michael Canton-Jones ("Rob Roy," "Doc Hollywood," "Memphis Belle") helmed a feature. That's the price one pays for drawing the bad luck of directing "Basic Instinct 2." Adapting Alan Warner's 'The Sopranos' novel (all the characters in the mostly-female cast can sing well), Canton-Jones doesn't set out to pass judgements on these small town girls visiting the big city as sluts or saints. They're just average Scottish teens who dream of shagging "Basketball Diaries'" Leo DiCaprio or "Baywatch's" own David Hasselhoff (hint: watch the credits! :-D). The Molly Ringwald of the group, Tallulah Greive's Orla, actually has the kinkiest fantasy she's not ashamed to pursue.

    It's a typical 'day/night in the life that will change us forever' formula, except things get "Porky's"-level naughty with some of the girls. While the cheap laughs at piss-in-the-sink and broken-pecker are welcomed, there's a giant heart and friendship bond among the girls (even as some argue, break-up, reconcile, etc.). I cried when the title cards explaining what happened in the lives of these fictitious characters flashed on screen because, yes, "Our Ladies" earned it. 4 HMV RECORD STORES STACKED WITH BEST-SELLING CD'S (out of 5).

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  3. AND NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY-SCHEDULED JOHN McTIERNAN DOUBLE BILL, ALREADY IN PROGRESS.

    LAST ACTION HERO (1993, 4K UHD Blu-ray).

    ... and that's how Skeezy was accidentally circumcised! Don't you love a story with a happy ending? :-D

    But seriously, the version of this movie we've seen for 28 years is what McTiernan, Schwarzenegger and an army of the best acting & behind-the-scenes Hollywood talent money could buy were able do deliver with a loaded [release date] gun pointed at their collective head. Imagine how good "Last Action Hero" would have been if had been delayed by a few months, its script polished, the editing process streamlined, a better actor playing Danny, etc. A hint of this exists in the Deleted Scenes of the new 4K UHD Blu-ray (among the best catalogue remasters I've seen/heard), where alternate takes of narrative beats in the theatrical version hint at McTiernan's instincts being correct in what to reshoot and/or leave out (we didn't need on-the-nose "Total Recall"/"Predator" jokes). And as good as the action direction in "Die Hard" is, the way McTiernan uses his camera in "LAH" to zoom, pan and show viewers the optimal angle to maximize the impact of an action scene is second to none. Yes, the "E.T" bike gag and ice-cream cone death suck ass... but the post-ice cream truck explosion one-liner ('...to cone a term') and preceding shot of the bad guy's car zooming into Jack Slater emptying his gun are amazing. One moment I love Austin O'Brien's sense of child-like wonderment ('Say this word'), the next I want to choke Danny ('I'm a comedy sidekick!'). That's the movie in a nutshell: one step forward, two flip-upside-down backward jumps.

    Since "LAH's" action spectacle has been topped many times over since '93, I found the most joy in this rewatch (besides the new coat of 4K paint) from the little details one tends to overlook while waiting for the next car to flip into a Coca-Cola truck. Mercedes Ruehl is doing a Frances McDormand impersonation and looks adorable in her work uniform. Mom's interactions with Jack Slater when he listens to classical music for the first time from that 'Moe Zart' guy in Danny's tiny kitchen are delightful. The whole Vivaldi/Torelli subplot with Anthony Quinn's mafia rivals actually makes sense if you pay attention, especially when Slater dumps a ton of exposition during the 'Leo the Fart is going to pass gas one more time' casual driving scene. And talk about unintentional social commentary, the famous 'I shot a man and I did it on purpose!' Charles Dance scene gives a new meaning to the term 'white privilege.' Both literally (Benedict's wearing a white suit) and figuratively (a white man shoots a working-class minority point blank without drawing ire from civilians or non-existent police). The More You Know.© 3.75 'TWIN BROTHER DID IT' AUDIO CASSETTES (out of 5).

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  4. AND TWO MORE FOR THE LONG ROAD AHEAD.

    Walter Hill's TRESPASS (1992, TUBI) for the first time.

    White Arkansas firemen Vince (Bill Paxton sporting a luscious mullet) and Don (a jacked-up William Sadler doing a Dennis Leary impersonation), following the tip from a crazy old man that died in a fire, travel to an abandoned factory in East St. Louis looking for $1 million in Greek gold stolen from an Alabama church decades prior. At first Vince and Don only have to deal with the old homeless man (Art Evans' Bradlee) squatting at the room where the gold is hidden. Pretty soon they're up to their blue collar necks fending off black criminals that use the abandoned building as their execution grounds, led by King James (Ice T) pissed off these AK white boys took his baby brother Lucky ("Die Hard's" De'voreaux White) as a human shield. And between the story's southern locations and "Trespass" being shot in Atlanta, Georgia, not a single southern accent is spoken by anybody. :-P

    It's more of a hostage/thriller (Vince and Don only have one gun versus a well-armed gang), but part of the joy of watching "Trespass" is experiencing how many different ways Walter Hill (working from a script by "Back to the Future's" Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale) can keep ratcheting and building tension toward an explosive finale. This is the best performance I've seen from Ice T in a feature, dressing cool (though Bruce A. Young's purple pimp suit looks cooler) and owning the generous close-ups Hill camera bestows upon King James. The only reason Ice Cube doesn't match T is because the former's Savon character is a hothead who messes things up. King James' crew as a whole are kind-of inept, but all his henchmen (Stoney Jackson, Tiny Lister, Glenn Plummer, etc.) get a spotlight scene or two. With only Paxton as the audience surrogate (and even Vince lets out a couple of racist outbursts that bring him down in my book), "Trespass" is the type of violent spectacle where you can appreciate the riddled-with-bullets bodies falling in slow motion without any sense of guilt. And the soundtrack runs the gamut from Ry Cooder (before his collaboration with Walter Hill four years later in "Last Man Standing") to stacked hip-hop soundtrack. 3.5 BLACK-AND-WHITE VHS-C CAMCORDERS (out of 5).

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  5. Hired to Kill (1990, dir. Nico Mastorakis & Peter Rader)

    Brian Thompson is the world's greatest (and machoest) mercenary, hired by George Kennedy's shady businessman to infiltrate the small South American country of Cypra and release a captive rebel leader. The twist: to get in, he has to pose as a fashion designer and work with a team of beautiful and lethal women.

    Assembling the team and the extensive weapons/fashion training montages are fun, and the big action setpiece at the end is... fine. The middle section would get boring if it weren't for Oliver Reed and his magnificent mustache hamming it up as Cypra's leader.

    The Arrow Blu-ray's HD transfer looks great. Which is a shame, I never wanted to be able to count George Kennedy's nose hairs.

    The Finnish title translates as Firepower.

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  6. John Woo's FACE/OFF (1997, HD-DVD). Also streaming on Hulu.

    So many disparate elements had to come together for the happy accident that is this late 90's masterpiece of Hong Kong action excess paired with top-notch Hollywood talent (acting and production-wise). Hans Zimmer protรฉgรฉ John Powell scores his first movie, which means "Face/Off" sounds like a 90's Jerry Bruckheimer action feature. Looks phenomenal too thanks to a cinematographer (Oliver Wood) with action movie experience ("Die Hard 2," "Terminal Velocity," etc.). Bigger actors (Stallone, Ford, Schwarzenegger, etc.) had to turn down the parts to arrive at the ideal duo of contrasting types to play opposite one another (or an alternate version of the other). John Travolta was riding the peak of his post-"Pulp Fiction" comeback trail, which included working with John Woo on 1996's "Broken Arrow." Nicolas Cage had just started to become an action star with "The Rock" and "Con Air" (the latter released weeks apart in the same month). John Woo had script input, and his good instincts (switching the set-in-the-future story to then-present day, fighting to have Joan Allen instead of a younger female actor as Archer's wife, using real stuntmen/planes/boats instead of blue screen effects, etc.) won out over the bad ideas (still don't care for the 'Over the Rainbow' slo-mo montage). Michael Douglas ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") produced, which means Woo always had adult supervision. The best choice was to keep the details and gory close-ups of the 'morphogenetic template' to a minimum (quick glances and distorted glass reflections will do, thank you!) and to concentrate on the fun byplay of two well-known actors pretending to be an uptight FBI lawman (Sean Archer) and/or a wild card terrorist (Castor Troy) switching lifestyles and identities for one wild and crazy week.

    I've only seen "Face/Off" four times (including an appreciative, excited opening night crowd at a packed theater) because I don't want to ever grow tired of how seamlessly Woo runs with this crazy high concept. The Troy-as-Archer scenes are more fun because Travolta cuts loose and gets to play an entertaining bad guy, something he often tries and fails at ("Broken Arrow," "The Punisher '04"). But the Archer-as-Troy moments are some of the best acting Nic Cage has ever done, including the realization Castor has a son about the age of Archer's child when he took a bullet from Troy meant for lil' Mikey's old man. Only now I realize that's Nick fucking Cassavettes as Dietrich, which makes his scenes with sister Sasha (Gina Gershon) all the more gross (that kiss!) and/or poignant ('They're fucking my place up!'). Despite being the second-worst action movie at clearly showing stuntmen who don't look like the actors they're doubling ("True Lies" remains the king) and dozens of innocent people dying for lil' Adam to have a chance to grow-up in a loving family environment, "Face/Off" ranks among the peaks of 90's action spectacle. Now a moment of silence, please, for Dubov (Chris Bauer) not joining his wife and daughter (sister?) in that heavenly sex sandwich in the sky with Castor Troy. :-P 4.5 CHEKHOV BUTTERFLY KNIFES (out of 5).

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    1. I see you did not attempt a plot synopsis either, J.M.

      I am looking forward to watching this again with the director's commentary. It is fascinating to me that Face/Off would come out of Hollywood, which tends to take the safe route when it comes to big-budget films. This is not a safe film, and Woo and company somehow succeed in making you believe all that is going on.

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    2. Every review l wrote today combined wouldn't come close to covering everything l have to say about "Face/Off." No room for the "Super Mario Bros." movie boots, Troy's brother Polloux, the shitty escape from the church Mexican stand-off (worse than even "Enemy of the State"), etc. It's as fun a movie to discuss as it is to watch. Even Woo tried to top it with "Paycheck" 6 years later and came up way short. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ‘

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    3. Joan Allen would've recognized the difference between John Travolta's junk and Nic Cages junk. Unless there was also a Penis/Off... but that's a different movie altogether.

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    4. Surprised the scar on Archer's chest wasn't more prominently featured as something Joan Allen noticed was not present in Troy-as-Archer Travolta. It was instead used as a symbolic metaphor of Archer's transition from being shackled to his dead son's memory to... sniff, sniff... FREEDOM!!! :'P

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  7. FACE/OFF (1997, dir. John Woo)

    Talk about a cinematic wild ride! Face/Off begins with a bang with an amazing action sequence involving a jet and takes off to greater heights from there. The script is absolutely bonkers and the action over-the-top. The insanity definitely produces some comedic moments. (I laughed frequently during the prison sequence.) The final face-off (ha-ha) between Nicholas Cage and John Travolta epitomizes the off-kilter energy of the film. Amazingly, John Woo and the cast make everything work. Having watched The Killer to start the month, I could recognize the Woo style throughout, though it does seem more toned down in Face/Off. Travolta, Cage, and Joan Allen go from serious to tongue-in-cheek at the appropriate moments.

    A first-time watch, this is a loud, big, and dumb 1990s action film that even a long-time 1990s hater like myself can enjoy.

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    1. Loud and big? Absolutely. Dumb? Not on your life! Troy was smart enough to try to take over Archer's life (instead of killing Sean's wife or raping teen daughter Jamie) to advance his criminal enterprise. Archer-as-Troy knew not telling the truth to Sasha would earn her loyalty and assist for that final church showdown.. I could talk about "Face/Off" for as long as Castor Troy could eat peaches: hours and hours! ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ™ƒ

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    2. The characters are undoubtedly smarter and more nuanced than one tends to find in action films. Watching Sean-as-Nick-Cage adjust to living as his nemesis was fascinating.

      In general, like any action film, the intention of Face/Off is be escapist entertainment. It does it well.

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    3. The real test of "Face/Off's" appeal would be to show it to a civilian (someone who watches movies for fun and not action fans with pre-built acceptance of Woo-isms) and see how they react. I want to show it to my parents next time I visit them in AZ, and maybe organize a group viewing with friends after the COVID thing dies down completely. Even 24 years after, this one's such a crazy and wild ride that should not work at all... but does! :-P

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  8. Striking Distance (1993 - Rowdy Herrington)
    From the director of ROAD HOUSE comes this tonally unstable action flick starring Bruce Willis as a drinking ex-police officer who is now at the River Rescue Squad, still haunted by a serial killer from the past who should have been behind bars, but isn't? The supporting cast is full of recognizable faces, like Sarah Jessica Parker, Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore, Brion James or Andre Braugher, but most of them don't play out their full potential.
    As I mentioned, this movie is tonally unstable. Some things are shown to be dark and grim, sometimes there is room for a laugh and even a little running gag, but it doesn't seem to fit. I think, I would've liked a version without the comedic elements, more, yet, it's still a Willis movie, so maybe it was doomed to be a bit funny for his audience. The best thing about this one is the general setting, located mostly around the river, making it somehow a character on its own.

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    1. Striking Distance was shot in and around the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had the chance to live there for a period of time.

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    2. Maybe it's that? Like, being in another city other than New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Vancouver? :D

      Jokes aside: What are the most represented cities in the US/Canada - and what are really underrepresented cities for how unique they are?

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    3. That is a difficult question to answer, Derk. With states offering tax credits to production companies, films are shot in a lot places in the U.S. now. I would say that the biggest cities (NY, LA, and Chicago) tend to get the most representation. Sometimes other locations are passed off as those cities.

      Pittsburgh has been featured in many movies over the decades. The 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme film Sudden Death was shot using the NHL team (the Penguins) there. While I was living in the city in the early 2010s, there were several film productions happening. The biggest was the The Dark Knight Rises, whose shoot disrupted traffic for weeks. Other films being made around that time were The Last Witch Hunter and Concussion.

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    4. Isn't Atlanta huge for movie production now? I mean, Atlanta isn't featured in any of them, but there's a ton of green screen being made there.

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    5. The whole state of Georgia (primarily Atlanta) has tax breaks to make it enticing for Hollywood to shoot movies there. It's been like this for the past 10-15 years, but other states and foreign nations with movie studios for rent want a piece of that sweet ($$$) Georgia pie.

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    6. How you say it, Vargas, it reminds me of the term "stupid German money". :D

      So, we have hot spots for "making" the movies, but not necessarily in displaying them (Atlanta).

      A quick Wikipedia search came up with lists of movies "set" in states, yet these lists are obviously not holistic. Anyway: The "winners" are
      - Delaware (17 movies, e.g. Fight Club, Batman v Superman, Man of Steel),
      - North Dakota (29 movies, e.g. A Star is born (1937), Fargo, Leprechaun, Logan),
      - and South Dakota (34 movies, e.g. Badlands, North by Northwest, The Revenant, Hidalgo).

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    7. Don't forget that many movie productions shoot in multiple states/countries to qualify for different tax credits. Recently, for example, "A Quiet Place II" moved most of its production to a portion of New York State (Buffalo, Akron, Olcotto, etc.) completely different and far away from the original "Quiet Place's" shooting locales in Dutchess County (including my hometown of New Paltz, where I came to live and graduate from college when I moved to the States). Most movies aren't shot in just one state or one region of a state (the original 2012 "Avengers" shot all over the United States) unless (a) they're small movies looking for a great deal ("Evil Dead 2" shooting the interiors of its cabin in the woods inside a high school gym during summer break) or (b) they're big movies guaranteed to generate hundreds of local jobs ("Deadpool" famously shot in Canada to try and keep its cost as low as possible when Fox suits would only give the production as little money as possible).

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    8. I'm aware, that they shoot where it's cheapest or where they find the best infrastructure to do it. My initial question was predominantly about places that are depicted and which should be depicted more? Vancouver for example often acts as a stand-in city.

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  9. Executive Decision (1996, dir. Stuart Baird)

    When terrorists hijack a passenger plane, Steven Seagal's Special Forces badass and Kurt Russell's intelligence consultant pencil-pusher have to team up to board the plane midair and take out the terrorists. Or that's what I thought it was gonna be, but the movie actually managed to surprise me! So I'm not gonna spoil that surprise for anyone who hasn't seen this.

    Not as much action here as you'd like on 90's Action! day, but it works pretty well as a suspense movie, even though it's way too long. Kurt Russell, obviously, is always good. A lot of very 90's tech here, which I have a soft spot for.

    I guess it's a sign that I've watched enough 90's movies and TV when a movie like this has about 40 familiar faces, even though I can't put a name to half of them. I spent half the running time saying to myself "Huh, Richard Riehle's in this too" and "Wait, David Suchet plays the terrorist leader?" and "Hey, that guy was on one episode of The X-Files" and "Oh, that's the first Sarah Connor from The Terminator".

    The Finnish title translates as Moment of Decision.

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  10. "Executive Decision" is trying so hard to be a Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan-type franchise starter for Kurt Russell. His David Grant character is such a Ryan clone it's distracting, but Kurt doesn't phone it in. And don't forget Oliver Platt ("Flatliners"), the farting clown from "Spawn" and Miles Dyson from "T2" among the familiar faces. :-)

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  11. Hard Rain (1998, dir. Mikael Salomon)

    The cinematographer for Abyss and Backdraft makes his directorial debut in this terminally wet action thriller. Christian Slater stars as an armored car driver guarding $3 million who finds himself stranded in a flooded town while a heist crew led by Morgan Freeman are in pursuit. But shifting allegiances and the constant threat of the dam bursting are pushing them all to the brink.

    Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver and Ed Asner round out the support cast of this sadly overlooked 90’s action spectacle. And what a spectacle! Creating a flooded town before the current era of ubiquitous special effects is an amazing feat. Apparently this film had the biggest painted backdrops ever, and it certainly shows. For all of the amazing work done to create a mid-west town under 10 feet of water at night, the film has an unfortunate dark brown, washed out sheen.

    There are a few too many “You should have killed me while you had the chance” moments, and Morgan Freeman’s ridiculous face-turn was the work of focus test reshoots, but it’s still a joy to see these actors in their prime. The solid action set pieces, the cast doing their best standing waist deep in water and the singularly brilliant scenario of the flooded heist make up for the sub-par script. A big, enthusiastic recommendation from yours truly!

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    1. A further note: the IMDB trivia says that John Woo was originally going to direct this, and looking back at the amount of dramatic slo-mo gunfights, that totally tracks with the gunplay in the final cut of this film.

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  12. AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION (1991)
    The guy from part 3 is a secret agent now. After he’s apprehended by a mad bomber, the guy from parts 1 and 2 comes out of retirement to save the day. This one’s a little more plodding than the previous films, with a lot of torture scenes in place of goofy chop-socky action. There’s some novelty at having both American Ninjas in one movie, and I liked the desert rebels who are straight out of a post apocalypse movie, but that’s about it.

    30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 23
    MAGIC SCHOOL: THE FIRST PART (2019)
    Fine, I’ll watch Harry Potter ripoff one. You know the drill: various shenanigans at a school for wizards, where there’s also a conspiracy afoot. There’s not really a main character as we are instead following a bunch of characters’ subplots throughout. It’s a lot of teen drama and not a lot of spellcasting action. It’s the type of movie where you keep waiting for something to happen.

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  13. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990, dir. My Boy Renny Harlin)

    I'm a sucker for a good, twisty private detective story, and this is a fun one, if you're able to filter out all the misogynistic and homophobic jokes. And there are a lot of them.

    The Finnish title translates as Ford Fairlane - Rock'n'Roll Detective.

    Renny's obligatory Finland reference: a bottle of Finlandia Vodka in Fairlane's apartment.

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    1. Another action joint lensed by Harlin's favorite cinematographer, Oliver Wood, who also did the cinematography for... da da, "Face/Off." ;-)

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  14. Hurricane Smith (1992)

    Woof. I love me some Carl Weathers, but this is not his finest hour (or finest seventeen hours if we’re going by how long this 86-minute movie actually feels). No action movie should be this inert. It’s like Inaction Jackson.

    Weathers is a Texas oil-worker who heads to Australia to search for his missing sister and is forced to mix it up with a gaggle of Aussie criminals. While the location helps the movie feel a little different it doesn’t make it particularly entertaining. The action beats are few and far between, and even when they happen there’s not much life to them. Bummer, mate.

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  15. Martial Law (1990, dir. Steve Cohen)

    Buddy Cop movie starring Chad McQueen and Cynthia Rothrock, with David Carradine playing the evil Dalton Rhodes; who knows Kung-Fu and a secret technique that can stop a man's heart with one blow (sound familiar?).

    The action is just ok, but I really enjoyed McQueen (he has a young William Peterson energy) and Rothrock, and especially Carradine and his moustache twirling. Recommended.

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  16. Dobermann (1997)

    Dobermann (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan) got his first gun at his baptism. Now, he leads a gang of bank robbers, made up of his knife-throwing deaf girlfriend Nat the Gypsy (Monica Bellucci!), Olivier who is also a woman named Sonia, Pitbull and even a priest who likes to put grenades into the helmets of motorcycle cops.


    A sadistic cop named Christini (Tchรฉky Karyo) has been chasing Dobermann for what seems like an eternity and he decides that this will be the night he catches him. He sets up an ambush in a club as the gang celebrates their latest bank robbery and his methods are even worse than the villains.

    This film may have an opening CGI animation that looks dated and sure, it's highly influenced by Tarantino, but it's packed with action and incredibly cool villains as protagonists. There's been a sequel planned for a long time and I hope that it gets made. If you're into gunplay set to music by Prodigy, I mean, you really should watch this. I also realize that this is a very small subgenre of action film fans, but so it goes.

    Director Jan Kounen and Cassel would go on to make Blueberry, which is based on the comic books by Jean "Moebius" Giraud. That makes sense, as this film is also based on a comic book by Joel Houssin.

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  17. Sudden Death (1995)

    First Time Viewing. I watched my first Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Bloodsport, two years ago for Junesploitation, and I watched my second, Double Impact, last year. This is number three. Someone on here suggested this one last year and thank you to whoever that was because I liked it a lot. This felt less like "We've got JCVD, let's make a movie," and more like "We're making this movie, and JCVD is going to be in it." I know it's from the whole period of "Die Hard in a different location" movies, but the reason they made so many of those is because the formula WORKS. Of course, I feel like Powers Boothe trying to recreate Alan Rickman's performance really only proved just how great Rickman was.

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  18. Surviving The Game (1994) Ernest Dickerson

    I’ve been watching almost exclusively new-to-me stuff this month, but I felt like an old favorite this afternoon. The third act doesn’t quite live up to what comes before, but this take on Dangerous Game is one of the best. Hauer, Dutton, Mcginley, Busey, Abraham and Ice Muthafuckin T all go big and it’s so much fun to watch. I noticed all the strange little moments between Dutton and Hauer the most this time round. They must’ve had an interesting backstory for their relationship.

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  19. Nemesis 4: Death Angel aka Cry of Angels (1996)

    I wanted to get some Pyun in for today and Prime had Nemesis 4 so I went for it even though I haven't watched the middle two chapters of the Nemesis saga. Now the Skinmax.tv logo that came up might have given me some indication of what I was in for, but honestly even that couldn't really prepare me for the Cyborg sex scene that takes place at one point here. A frequently nude Sue Price, who apparently was in the previous 2 Cyborg movies returns here. She maybe plays the same character, but reading summaries of 2 and 3, the plot here seems largely unconnected.

    Clearly this movie was a low point for Pyun. The budget seems non-existent, and the special effects look like they were done on somebody's home computer with a shareware special effects program. The plot is pretty straight-forward. Alex is a cyborg working as an assassin essentially and she accidently kill the wrong person for her last assignment (given to her by Andrew Divoff, so Nemesis 4 has that going for it at least). This mix up leads to her being hunted down by other assassins.

    I enjoy Pyun's work, and I know he's a favorite of Patrick's so I'm certainly not here to take shots at the guy, but I also can't really recommend anyone watch this other than to say that if you are compelled to check it out there's really no better time than Junesploitation to do so. I can appreciate that Pyun is really into robots and cyborgs given how many of his movies revolve them, so it's always fun to see him do his thing, even when he maybe doesn't have the budget for it.

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  20. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) - 7/10 mangled body part guitars

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  21. The Glimmer Man (1996, dir. John Gray)

    Seagal is the master of cultural appropriation. Keenan Ivory is funny without being too silly. It doesn't know really know what movie it wants to be, but it is no worse than a lot of another Seagal entries.

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  22. Striking Distance (1993, dir. Rowdy Herrington)

    Tom Sizemore is an electric factory, I wish he had more decades like his 90s output. Great use of real Pittsburgh locations.

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  23. El Mariachi (1992)

    Robert Rodriguez's debut movie is very much the Evil Dead to Desperado's Evil Dead II, and like with Raimi's classic, despite recognizing the clear upgrade in all-round quality I find myself vibing more with the small-scale, semi-amateurish, shoestring-budget esthetic of the original work. Sure, Carlos Gallardo is no Antonio Banderas, and frankly it would be unfair to expect any woman who ever lived to compete with Salma Hayek circa 1995, but even if the performances aren't the strongest, El Mariachi's buzzing with a chaotic, unruly energy and can-do attitude that completely won me over. I wouldn't even call myself a big Rodriguez fan, but it's fascinating to witness a young, hungry filmmaker finding ways to break through technical/budgetary constraints with sheer hubris and creativity, and in the process laying the foundations of his individual style for years to come.

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  24. Passenger 57(1992)Dir: Kevin Hooks

    1hr 24 min runtime. 2:50 seconds of opening credits 3:40 seconds of end credits. That leaves one hour and 17 minutes of actual plot and action. And does it move. In that time we learn how bad the heavy is, why Wesley is angry and sad via flashback, set up a love/hate relationship between Wesley and a Flight Attendant named Martie(Alex Dratcher), a hijacking, a landing, racist cops, Wesley vs Racist cops, a carnival, a ferris wheel shootout, a runway action scene, more gunfights and a young Liz Hurley somehow being the most menacing of Bruce Paynes gang.Not too be that dude but newer movies can take note.
    I only watched this because I saw the story was by Stewart Rafill and I wanted to keep that streak going but am I glad I did. This was worth the revisit.

    Its on Tubi

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  25. Captain America (1990)

    Going with another Pyun today. The first thing that jumps out at me is that this movie tackles Cap's origin, getting frozen, getting discovered and thawed out, tracking down his old girlfriend and meeting her daughter all in like the first half of the movie. As a whole, it's not terrible, or at least certainly not compared to the Reb Brown stuff which I watched bits and pieces of recently.

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  26. Broken Arrow (1996)

    This was good. I wish I could watch all the 90's action movie. I looked at the wiki linked from the primer, and was so exciting to see every movie on the long list. Then I realized I was only looking at the movies from 1990. 1991 was another list.

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  27. The Rocketeer (1991) Dir. Joe Johnston

    I haven't seen this in maybe 25 years, and man what a treat. I remember moments here and there, but what I couldn't appreciate when I was 8 was the script. It's so tight. Every set up pays off, sometimes big. The story picks up right away and never stops kicking. So glad I picked this tonight.

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  28. RUSH HOUR (1998, dir. Brett Ratner)

    Finally watched this movie and… it’s totally decent! Always nice to see more Jackie Chan.

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  29. DRIVE (1997, dir. Steve Wang)

    I can't remember if I've seen this before or not. I know JP (a prince) has been talking it up for years, so it was nice to officially check it out for '90s action day. A little long, but great energy and fight scenes. Mark Dacascos rules and Brittany Murphy is always welcome, particularly in unhinged mode. Really fun.

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    Replies
    1. This flick was a HUGE discovery for me this year. As a lover of all things martial arts and action, it was off my radar. Great fights. Silly flick. And a fun baddie.

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  30. Under Siege (1992)

    The premise is really good: terrorists take over a navy ship to steal weapons, but they don't know the cook was a navy seal!

    Unfortunately Steven Seagal is just...not great. Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey are giving it their all, and I just kept wishing the lead was someone else. Which then became a fun brainstorming game. Who in 1992 would have been better?

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  31. Watched a not-so-hot transfer on Amazon Prime

    Gary Daniels strains credulity, defies the laws of physics, and engages in general mayhem in Joseph Merhi‘s Rage. Aside from some seasoned hams like Peter Jason and Kenneth Tigar, the acting is…secondary to other concerns. Daniels plays a public school teacher who is incredibly well-trained in physical combat, weapons, demolition, and also advocates for children to love each other. By chance, he’s abducted by a conspiracy of state troopers who inject him with an experimental serum, that makes him even more of a badass. The rest of the movie is the conspiracy trying to recapture him, and contain the media frenzy. The movie is pretty routine, but there’s an incredible truck chase with explosions about 25 minutes in that’s pretty inspired, and worth your time. Most of the fight choreography is less inspired, but at one point the film goes meta, and Gary’s fighting off the bad guys in an action section of a video store full of B-movies like this one. Totally worth it, once.

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  32. Air Force One (1997)

    Perfect example of how star power can carry a movie. Harrison Ford convinced me that a president could pull that off. ๐Ÿ˜„ It was fun revisiting that one.

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  33. Dead Presidents (1995) Albert & Allen Hughes

    First time watch. Crazy stacked ensemble cast. The Hughes Bros. make this movie feel so sprawling and huge. The heist could be a little more interesting, but I really enjoyed this one.

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  34. Only the Strong(1993) Dir: Sheldon Lettich

    Mark Dacascos returns to his hometown of Miami to help troubled youth by teaching them Capoeira. This my first introduction to Dacascos' but this movie isn't as great as I remember. That said this is one I still enjoyed quite a bit. Not shot great and the acting is on the weaker side but its still a lot of fun and does what it sets out to do. For those that have not seen it be prepared though. You will get a song stuck in your head. Its going to happen. You may even find yourself humming this song at random intervals for the next 18 years. You have been warned.

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  35. Cliffhanger (1993) - Since I watched Cobra for 80s Action I decided to stick with another new Stallone. This is a profoundly stupid movie that ended up winning me over with its stupid-ness. Multiple doses of melodrama, fantastic locations, a couple of great action set-pieces, and (what I was hoping for when I chose it) John Lithgow chewing mountains of scenery throughout. I expected some of the more egregious lines of dialogue to stick with me, but honestly there were so many of them that I couldn't choose (or remember) just one.

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