Archive for September, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WHITE AND MONDO JUSTIN OF “THE PROJECTION BOOTH” PODCAST

Posted in 2011, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Interviews, Special Columns with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by knifefighter

INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WHITE AND MONDO JUSTIN OF “THE PROJECTION BOOTH” PODCAST
By Colleen Wanglund

 

Mike White and Mondo Justin love movies. Actually they REALLY love movies. So after years of writing about movies for various magazines and websites, Mike and Justin started the podcast THE PROJECTION BOOTH. Each week the guys and their guests discuss a (usually) obscure or cult film, bringing awareness to their audience. I recently interviewed these movie nuts. ~ CW

COLLEEN: So starting off….You guys are both from Michigan right? So how did you end up meeting each other?

JUSTIN: Orginally….Mike just found me online. He had approached me with this press release of sorts about his new book, IMPOSSIBLY FUNKY: A CASHIERS DU CINEMART COLLECTION. He had asked me to review the book for the web. We exchanged a few emails, and through conversation we realized that we were only about twenty minutes away from each other, so we met up for lunch one day and the rest is history.

COLLEEN: How did each of you get into writing about film?

JUSTIN: I’m not sure if I even consider what I do to be film writing in the traditional sense. I’ve written some fun pieces on particular movies, but not criticisms. In fact I really dislike film writing that deals in theory and criticism. It’s boring, and for the life of me I can’t understand why someone would read that stuff. Why in the hell would you let anyone imprint their opinions in regards to what a film “means” on your brain? Why would you allow someone to tell you if a film is “good” or “bad”? Figure out what it “means” for you. Decide on your own if a film is good or bad. Calculate your own interpretation. I’m more interested in deep researching and then writing up background histories on particular films and how that film fits into a particular context.

Also, I’m big on interviews. Interviews are my life blood. I’ve always been a huge fan of interviews. Above anything else, interviewing someone is probably my favorite thing to do. It’s just so personal. It’s one-on-one, and very intimate. And that’s very relative to how we each experience film ourselves.

MIKE: When I went to college I thought to myself, “What is one of the most useless degree’s I could earn?” Philosophy and Art History didn’t appeal too much, so I decided to go into film. When I graduated I was still very much in “paper writing mode” and had a love for ‘zines. I decided to throw my hat into the ring and start Cashiers du Cinemart.

COLLEEN: Speaking of that Mike, what is/was CASHIERS DU CINEMART?

MIKE: It started as a photocopied rag of rants and ended up as a more polished rag of me being a blowhard about movies or topics I wanted to explore. Along the way I made a lot of friends with other folks who would contribute reviews, articles, artwork and more to it. I put it on hold, thinking that it was dead, back in 2007 but jumped onto the “Revenge of Print” bandwagon that Atomic Books in Baltimore started for 2011 and just published the 16th issue.

COLLEEN: Justin what about your website, THE MONDO FILM & VIDEO GUIDE?

JUSTIN: I just started that site out of boredom really. I was bored and wanted something fun to do. Plus I figured that if would afford me opportunities to talk to filmmakers and actors/actresses that I was really interested in learning more about. Prior to that, when I would go around the web and read interviews with people, I’d only be able to find these horrible interviews that really had no thought behind them. So at a certain point, I just thought to myself, “You can do better than that.”  I think I do a pretty good job. People are reading. I started in 2008, and after that first month I had 300 visits.

Last month I had over 70,000 visits — so we’re growing. I mean the studios are looking at it. I did a big interview with a particular actor last year. After I published it online, he notified me that Paramount Studios had contacted him about a project because they had read the interview we had done together.

COLLEEN: Mike, what’s up with you obsession with the movie BLACK SHAMPOO?

MIKE: You’ve seen the film, so I don’t think I need to answer that question. In all seriousness, it just hit a need that my high school friends and I had. It was funky enough to fill our blaxploitation quotient, had some good softcore scenes in there, and was infinitely quotable. It became our ritual to watch that movie as often as we could. After high school it became something more of an obsession in regard to tracking down all the people involved and asking them about this film that was such an influence on us.

COLLEEN: Justin, is there a film that you obsess over in the same way?

JUSTIN: There are a few. But it goes in sprees to be honest. Right now, I’m completely and utterly obsessed with the Orson Welles film, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942). Researching that, and with working on other projects that I’m working on currently, I’m seeing a similar correlation in terms of how that film was mistreated with something like William Peter Blatty’s EXORCIST 3 (aka LEGION). Both films are beautiful disasters that were ripped out of the visionary’s hands and corrupted by their perspective studios.

Then this little movie from 1989 called, SHAG. I’ve loved this movie for so many years. It’s this wonderful little coming-of-age movie set in the south during the summer of 1963. Like Mike with BLACK SHAMPOO, I’ve interviewed almost the entire the cast, the son of the director, the location manager, the producers, the writers etc…

COLLEEN: Do each of you have a favorite movie, and why is it your favorite?

MIKE: I don’t think I could pick one. There are favorites that are such because I think they’re brilliantly crafted and they’ve expanded the vocabulary of cinema. Then there are favorites that are just trashy flicks that tickle my funny bone whenever I see them.

JUSTIN: I don’t think I could pick just one movie either. I have so many movies that I just love the hell out of. Maybe a favorite filmmaker? I love the films of Jerry Lewis because they’re extremely innovative in not just their comedy but also in film technique. His movies are very innocent too. Child-like, even. Then Kenneth Anger I love, cause of the internal response I get from his work. That work is scary as hell to me, and who doesn’t want to flirt with the dark side at times? Todd Haynes, Gregg Araki, Ken Russell as well. I tend to be really interested in strong visuals in film over anything else. Also, I love to champion bad movies with redeeming qualities like SHOWGIRLS (1995) and LAST ACTION HERO (1993). While many find a lot of faults in movies like those I just don’t because I’m always looking for the positives in everything. The acting in SHOWGIRLS is horrible, but does that make it bad? I think it’s entertaining and campy, a bit raunchy as well and the movie is actually really visually rich.

COLLEEN: So what is THE PROJECTION BOOTH, and where did the idea for it come from?

MIKE: The seeds were sown on a long drive that we took shortly after we met one another. We drove down to Franklin, Indiana for a film event/critics panel that will remain nameless. During the drive we listened to some podcasts and found flaws with several of them. I believe Justin suggested that we start our own and really do it up right. We both started making lists of things we wanted to do and to avoid if we ever created a podcast. First we had to have our declaration of principles. It all went from there.

JUSTIN: I don’t think I suggested it, but maybe I did? I recall that it was you who suggested it (but not seriously) and then like six months later I brought up the idea again randomly one day, and we decided to just do it, and “bring it” big time like Hulk Hogan in NO HOLDS BARRED.

COLLEEN: How do you guys decide on which movies to spotlight each week? Does your decision hinge on the guests you’re able to get?

JUSTIN: It’s very simple. Mike makes a pick one week, then I pick the next week. Usually we plan months and months in advance, and it’s easy for a pick to go by the wayside if we are having a problem getting a guest on-board. The guests come pretty easy for us though for the most part.

MIKE: The show really includes films that we both feel deserve more attention or that we can bring something special to. I think we’re both trying to provide a service to let people know about movies that they may not have gotten into before, or giving them more information about them than has previously been known.

COLLEEN: Do you guys generally agree on the films you’re going to do or are there sometimes arguments?

JUSTIN: It’s a free-for-all. There isn’t any final say or anything like that in the sense that Mike or I have to approve each other’s picks. I respect his picks, and I think he respects mine. Now with that being said…We have had a couple heated debates on-air over the last year, but they are only exactly that. Any disagreements about one particular film doesn’t translate into life when the microphone is turned off.

MIKE: It’s almost a little boring if we both agree 100% on a film. What I tend to rely on is that we both come at movies from different angles and pick up on different things. Justin may have a read on a film completely different than mine and that’s what makes it fun. Two guys sitting around saying, “That was cool” would make for a pretty boring conversation.

COLLEEN: For anyone that hasn’t listened to your show that may be reading this, do you have one show that you’ve done that you feel that everyone should listen to it even if they’re not a fan of podcasts?

JUSTIN: Well, that’s a tough question. I mean we alternate picks each week, so what about re-phrasing the question to “What’s one film that you’ve picked each and done a show about that is your favorite to date?”

COLLEEN: Sure

JUSTIN: I’d have to say the show we did about THE WARRIORS (1979) from New York City or more recently our KENNETH ANGER show. Probably…For some reason I’m really partial to an early show we did this year about RED SCORPION (1988). I think it’s because around the airing of that episode I think it when we really figured out our format, and the show then became a well-oiled machine, I think.

MIKE: If I had to pick one show to submit for the Podcast Awards it’d be Justin’s THE WARRIORS show. My other favorites include the ROBOCOP (1987) show because I got to talk to a lot of great people and had a blast editing that one. But I think I had the best time when Justin lined up an interview with the creators of FREAKED (1993). Listening to those guys was a blast.

COLLEEN: What are you hopes for the future success of the podcast?

JUSTIN: As far as podcasts go…I don’t know. I fantasize that we’ll someday get offered a paying talk radio gig. It’s a fantasy though. I mean our show is doing really good. We’ve been picked up for syndication, and we’re FM radio in the deep mid-west. We’re on iTunes. We get these big guests. There are only a couple other shows out there that get the guests we do, and frankly they’re not very good. I think what makes our show good is that it’s informative, well edited, thought-out and often relaxed and fun. Plus our show has a great diversity to it as well. In any given month we’ll have a spectrum of guests that is as wide as: John Waters, Orson Welles daughter, Dolph Lundgren and then Trina Parks. I think the show is fun, and frankly a little bit of a secret out there.

MIKE: Total world domination…(laughing)

COLLEEN: So what else are you guys working on?

JUSTIN: Right now I’m very busy. Besides THE PROJECTION BOOTH show, I’m working on content for the website mondo-video.com as usual. On top of that both Mike and I have been asked to contribute to this book coming out after Christmas called COMMENTARIES ON MINOR CINEMA CLASSICS. I’m writing the chapters on EXORCIST 3, HARDBODIES and HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. I contribute one or two interviews each issue to SHOCK CINEMA magazine. Then after the New Year I’ll be co-authoring the biography of actor Wings Hauser with Wings Hauser himself. So maybe you should consider it an autobiography? I don’t know. Exactly how does that work?…(laughing)

MIKE: I’m currently working on an article about horror parodies of the early ‘80s for PARACINEMA magazine. How’s that for specific? I’ve had a lot of fun writing about subgenres for them such as the rash of body swap comedies in the late ‘80s and the myriad of talking genitals films. I’m also working on a piece for COMMENTARIES ON MINOR CINEMA CLASSICS. Keeping with the parody idea, I’m writing about AIRPLANE 2: THE SEQUEL. I’m also working on a biography of Greydon Clark and a book I’m temporarily calling “GOULD AND SULTHERLAND IN THE ‘70S”.

THE PROJECTION BOOTH can be downloaded from iTunes or directly at the website http://www.projection-booth.com/. And don’t forget to check out http://www.mondo-video.com/ where you can also link to THE PROJECTION BOOTH podcast. And Mike White’s website at: http://impossiblefunky.blogspot.com/

© Copyright 2011 by Colleen Wanglund

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Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: WONDER WOMEN (1973)

Posted in 1970s Movies, 2011, Action Movies, B-Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Campy Movies, Drive-in Movies, Hot Chick Movies, Kung Fu!, Low Budget Movies, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

WONDER WOMEN (1973)

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made . If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it .  Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open . Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

What do you get when you take Nancy Kwan, the lead actress from the classic musical FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961) and THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960), Ross Hagen, the lead actor of such marvels as SUPERCOCK (1975)(it’s about a rooster, now get your mind out of the gutter!) and AVENGING ANGEL (1985), toss in great exploitation actress Roberta Collins from CAGED HEAT (1974) and EATEN ALIVE (1977) with a little Sid Haig, that stalwart character actor who’s illuminated movies from SPIDER BABY (1968) and FOXY BROWN (1974) to this year’s swamp non-epic CREATURE (2011) along with Vic Diaz, who was probably in every movie ever filmed in the Philippines, such as VAMPIRE HOOKERS (1978) and PROJECT:KILL (1976)?  What happens when you feature a story full of bikini clad women, muscular jocks, a basement of mutants, mad scientists, and film it in the Philippines by Robert Vincent O’Neill, who helmed the 1970 classic BLOOD MANIA and drive-in staple ANGEL (1984)?  Well, you get WONDER WOMEN (1973) aka THE DEADLY AND THE BEAUTIFUL, a real mess of a movie that, nonetheless, is never, not even for one second, boring . This mish-mash of genres is proof positive that anyone could make any old movie they wanted in the early 1970s and somehow get the son-of-a-gun distributed.

When our story begins, we see a James Bond-type sequence with three topless women doing water ballet in colored water while other beauties practice their kung-fu in miniskirts or fill syringes . After a brief battle, the kung-fu ladies kick the topless synchronized swimmers unconscious and inject them with something . Next, we’re watching a polo match, and the same hot women shoot one player, pull another man off his horse and pummel him, and drive a car onto the polo fields and haul the bodies into it . Next, a lone black man playing basketball is surrounded by the same racially diverse team of beauties who shoot him with a dart gun . This is all before the credits, folks!  My curiosity has been piqued .

After the credits during a crowded jai-alai game (!), the star player is jock-napped by the women who kill a cop to steal a car and the unconscious man . They toss him into a coffin and gas him, loading him into a hearse marked Chapel By The Sea . Cue groovy wah-wah guitar and theme song (“We are Wonder Women, yes we are . Got that super power…Wonder Women!”)  The girls strip their groovy duds and don mourning dresses and veils . They take him to an island fortress where mad scientist Dr. Tsu (Nancy Kwan) is performing surgery in head to toe shower curtain plastic . Dr. Tsu is snatching the healthiest men around and transplanting their organs into rich, ugly people through her slimy, yet debonair lawyer and accountant Gregorious (Sid Haig) . They are aiming to make a fortune by planting the mega-rich Mr. Paulson’s brain in the jock’s body.

Nancy Kwan is the villainous Dr. Tsu in WONDER WOMEN!

Arriving on a jet plane is Mike Harber (Hagen), who rocks a great disco white suit . His cab driver is Vic Diaz, ubiquitous star of over 110 movies made in the Philippines, and he is just as sweaty and smarmy as ever . Harber is being offered ten thousand dollars by Lloyd’s of London to find the missing jai-alai player .

Meanwhile, Dr. Tsu’s henchwomen bicker amongst themselves, play chess, shoot guns, and play with their ‘toys:’ the muscular, hot men they’ve kidnapped . Sometimes, they go to Dr. Tsu’s shiny, color-flashing laboratory, chock full of things that light up and go beep beep boop boop, and they have brain sex . Attached to machines, they enjoy the sensations of sex without all that messy emotional aftertaste .

Harber visits Won Ton Charlie at the Chinese City of Death (I can’t make this stuff up!) . He is sent by Won Ton to No No the Fisherman at the local cockfighting ring, where we are privileged to witness a real sickening cockfight . In slow motion, nonetheless!  This is just after Harber is attacked by men with guns riding on mopeds with sidecars . Once again, people, I just can’t make this stuff up.

One of the Wonder Women, the gorgeous Maria De Aragon (BLOOD MANIA-1970; she was also Greedo, the would-be assassin in STAR WARS-1977) seduces Harber, and then points a gun at him . He knocks it out of her hand and they proceed to destroy the entire hotel room brawling with some of the hokiest martial arts moves ever . I mean, she really beats him up, slamming him through coffee tables and walls . It’s a hilarious scene, and it continues as he chases her through the streets of Manila . Keep an eye on the people on the streets . Obviously, they didn’t warn anyone that a movie was being shot or get permits or anything . Half the people look bemused and the other half watch with shocked wide-open mouths . And what the heck was that shot of the eel squiggling down the sidewalk?  Or that long parade of motorcycles and sidecars?  They hop into little tiny jeep taxis and have a medium speed car chase all over the city, complete with cars going into fruit stands and a flipping ox cart getting sideswiped!  Let’s not mention the 70s porn music that plays behind the mayhem.

Maria DeAragon kicks butt in WONDER WOMEN!

Of course, our hero drives her into a lake where she gets wet . And of course, she leads him back to the island fortress of Dr. Tsu (Gee, this sounds a lot like a Jess Franco flick.)  She gives him the slip, informing Tsu that he’s on the island . Dozens, maybe hundreds, of hot girls in mini-skirts with giant machine guns are unleashed to find Harber and bring him back . Now, we get the long gun battle through the jungles, but Harber’s a real manly stud and the girls can’t shoot for crap, so it’s up to Maria de Aragon to bring him to Dr. Tsu’s table where she’s eating fiery volcano soup . Really.

She shows him her Simon-esque lab, her vaults of organs, and her mutants in cells in the basement . Tsu explains, “I call this one Tyrannosaurus Rex, after the dinosaur, to remind me that evolution also made mistakes.”   The make-up on these monsters looks like something out of an R. Crumb cartoon, and some are just rubber masks. One tall guy has a blinking light bulb on top of his head encased in a plastic dome!  After all this, Dr. Tsu hooks up Harber to have brain sex with her . Wearing crazy Lite-Bright covered head-pieces, they hilariously emote ecstasy while lying back in red bean bag chairs and never touching!  Oh yeah, that’s hot.

The mutants break loose . Explosions happen . Gunfights start again . And, yes, there is a catfight .

Mmmmmm. Brain sex via electrodes in WONDER WOMEN (1973)!

Kwan plays it all straight, but Haig really seems to be having a great time portraying someone suave and intelligent with just a bit of swish in his mannerisms . I’m so used to seeing him play psycho rednecks, it was nice to see him in such a different kind of part . Ross Hagen was also the producer of this miracle of trash cinema, and he handles the role just fine . With his sun-tanned to leather skin and his gravelly voice, he seems like a second string Lee Marvin . Roberta Collins is also just fine, sniping and bitching with the other girls or pretending to know kung-fu . She really is quite stunning, as is Maria De Aragon, as are all the women at the fortress . It’s enough to maintain the attention of any red blooded heterosexual male.

The costumes are a riot and make this worth a rental by themselves . During surgery, Dr. Tsu and her nurses wear head-to-foot plastic suits loaded down with zippers . The women often sport bat-wing sleeves and color-coordinated mini-dresses . There’s a LOT of hair, either long past the shoulders or in gigantic afros .

WONDER WOMEN is truly a wonder of exploitation cinema . Full of brain transplants, mutants, hot girls with guns and knee-high boots, some nudity, clumsy kung-fu, sexual innuendo, slumming actors, a Thomas Crowne chess scene rip-off, car chases, bike chases, foot chases, animal cruelty, and more action than would normally fit in ten movies – it really is one of a kind. And somehow, the damn thing’s rated PG!  Now, I’m not saying it’s a good or well-made film, but it sure as hell entertains!

I saw my copy on a SOMETHING WEIRD DVR .

I give WONDER WOMEN three moped sidecars out of four.

© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl

The Geisha of Gore vs. SICK NURSES!

Posted in 2011, Asian Horror, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Ghost Movies with tags , , , on September 28, 2011 by knifefighter

SICK NURSES (2007)
Geisha of Gore Movie Review by Colleen Wanglund

As with most horror from Southeast Asia, Thai horror has lots of ghosts. Again, it’s a cultural thing. Many of the movies are based on folk tales and spiritual beliefs that go back generations. In Thai tradition a ghost can be both a protector and an antagonist, depending on the circumstances concerning the dead. For example, a dead wife’s ghost refusing to leave her husband out of love is quite common, as is the ghost who is seeking revenge for a misdeed. There have been male ghosts in Thai stories and movies, but it is predominantly the female ghost that is used to represent maliciousness or misdeeds that go against social norms. The ghost becomes a symbol of punishment. Women are, in large part, still second-class citizens in many of these Asian societies, which is one of the reasons the vengeful ghost is a female.

Written and directed by Piraphan Laoyont and Thodsapol Siriwiwat, SICK NURSES (2007) actually surprised me quite a bit. The movie tells the story of a young doctor and seven nurses working in a hospital in a run-down neighborhood of Bangkok. These eight medical professionals are secretly selling bodies on the black market for their organs.One of the nurses, Tahwaan, discovers that Dr. Tah, her boyfriend, is having an affair with another nurse, Nook. What is even more hurtful is that Nook is Tahwaan’s sister. Enraged by the betrayal, Tahwaan threatens to expose the scam to the police. Before she has a chance to make good on that threat Tahwaan is killed and Tah arranges for her body to be sold to his black market connections. However, a problem arises and Tahwaan’s body must be kept on ice for a bit longer than any of them anticipated.

At one point in the movie we see the nurses in their locker room and one nurse says to Nook how it had been seven days and Tahwaan’s spirit would come for her. This comes from an old Thai belief that if a body is not cremated within seven days of death the spirit of the dead would come back. As the camera moves to a wall clock, we see that it is almost midnight. We don’t need to wait long for Tahwaan’s ghost to appear and seek her revenge against those who killed her. One by one the women are attacked by the ghost and are killed in some gruesome ways. While this is going on, Tah is going to meet his connection to finally be rid of Tahwaan’s body.

Unlike the ghosts typically seen in Asian horror, Tahwaan’s ghost is not covered in long black hair and dressed in white. She appears in all black, including her body, and she poses and moves in a very suggestive manner. Tahwaan uses the individual girls’ vices against them. One of the nurses is completely covered and hanging by hair—she’s quite vain. Another nurse is seen with a purse sewn over her head—she is materialistic. It is also these vanities that Dr. Tah uses to get what he wants from the nurses….including their silence. They cooperate completely with Dr. Tah’s scheme and with Tahwaan’s punishment for threatening to tell all about their little operation.

SICK NURSES is bloodier than your standard Asian ghost story, and that’s not the only originality on display here by the filmmakers. The ghost does not outright kill any of the girls. Instead she possesses them and makes them kill themselves or kill each other. One really cool death scene involves one girl pulling out the thread that is holding the other girl’s neck and head together with the purse over her head. The head rolls away leaving the remaining girl screaming her ass off. It’s funny, but still a bit disturbing. There is another great sequence involving a set of twins, a basin, and a surgical saw that’s both weird and brutal.

What is also intriguing to me is that SICK NURSES pushes the envelope with the Board of Censorship, the governing body of all things moral or immoral in the Thai movie industry. There are typically some very strict rules about movie content in Thailand. Most graphic violence and sex is not allowed to be shown. The Board has also, at times, questioned the portrayal of a profession (in this case the medical profession) and did demand and get a change to one scene in this film. The nurses are all dressed in white, but not necessarily what you would consider a nurse’s standard uniform. Some of the “uniforms” are sexually suggestive, as is the girls’ behavior. It is hinted at that Dr. Tah has probably slept with, or at least flirted with, all of the girls. In this instance, though, I like the contrast between sex and purity, suggested by the white clothing the girls are in for most of the movie. The film uses the color white to sarcastically remind the viewer that women are supposed to be pure and innocent but these women clearly are not—both sexually and in their criminal activities.

Another surprising aspect of SICK NURSES is that one of the characters is a transvestite and another is homosexual. These topics are usually taboo in Thai movies and are rarely, if ever, discussed in Thai culture. It added a pretty decent subtext to the story, but it also allowed for a plot hole involving a main character. This plot hole did not necessarily hurt my viewing experience. I understood what was going on.

That plot hole is not the only thing wrong with this movie. The nurses spend their time running around a near-empty hospital building. If it’s active enough to provide dead bodies to the black market and be lucrative for eight people, then where are all the living patients? And for that matter, where is the rest of the hospital staff? There are also quite a few scenes that are flashback sequences, but the subtitling doesn’t fill us in on that. I caught on quickly but the subtitling should have clued the viewer in to these linear differences. There are other out-of-sequence scenes of what appears to be a banquet where Dr. Tah is awarded as doctor of the year. They appear to be nothing more than comic relief and filler. One of the scenes shows the hospital staff singing a song about compassion, as they are being covered in blood. I don’t know what it was supposed to be. These scenes are interesting but out of context, for the most part, except to show the hospital’s administration as being incompetent, allowing Dr. Tah and his nurses to get away with…well, murder.

Overall, SICK NURSES is an above-average ghost story with some interesting plot devices. These chicks are pretty sick. You can find it easily on Netflix streaming and it’s only 82 minutes long. That makes it entertaining AND quick.

© Copyright 2011 by Colleen Wanglund

Taylor Lautner in ABDUCTION!

Posted in 2011, Action Movies, Campy Movies, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Sexy Stars, Spy Films with tags , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by knifefighter

ADBUCTION (2011)
Movie Review by Dan Keohane

After his “breakout” role as “Sharkboy” in THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVA GIRL 3D (2005) and a few smaller roles, teenager Taylor Lautner hit the big time as the shirtless werewolf in TWILIGHT (2008), NEW MOON (2009) and ECLIPSE (2010) and began the infamous Jacob versus Edward debate among a billion teenaged girls. This past weekend, he broke out from his hirsute role (and only occasionally his shirt) in the new action film ADBUCTION, playing a high school senior who discovers that his life had been a lie when he finds a picture of himself in an online Missing Children website. The website, however, is a trap set by the evil Russian (I think, never really said) mobster Kozlow (Michael Nyvqist). Nathan soon learns that his past, and his parents, have been a lie.

I watched the movie along with two major Lautner fans: my two daughters Amanda (16) and Audrey (14). As we settled into our seats my expectations were minimal. In fact, my early notes covered such critical points as the popcorn (it was really good), my risky choice of Raisinettes over Twizzlers (good choice), and how the trailer for HAYWIRE (2011) showed the whole friggin’ movie (I hate it when they do that; implies the film will not be very good).

Then the movie began and, to be honest, it got off to a good start. Lautner’s performance as a slightly wild but overall decent high-schooler was good. He had a few close friends, including Denzel Whitaker (THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS, 2009) as his spunky black best friend. This made me wonder (not for the first time) why films with a young white action star seem to require the character having a spunky black best friend, and why they have yet to make a film with an African American male lead who has a spunky white best friend.

I do also wonder sometimes what it’s like to grow up in the California school system, since Hollywood makes these kids seem like evil, drunken monsters. Yes, I was a bit of a conservative and nerd in school myself, pre-college, but there sure seems to be a lot of this in films, even supposedly taking place in Pennsylvania. Anyway, I digress. Where was I?

Lautner’s love interest and neighbor, with whom he’s had a crush on since they made out once during camp in middle school, was played by relative newcomer Lily Collins. Her performance was light and we all agreed not very strong. That’s OK, though, because Lautner overall needs a few more years of growth as an actor before he can really shine on the screen (with his shirt on, which was the case for all but a couple of obligatory quick scenes). Together, then, they worked fine, but both were not as impressive as some of the supporting cast.

My point with Lautner, and my daughters agree and, in fact, pointed this out to me, is that his overall presence on the screen is strong – he’s a good-looking kid and not cut from the usual action-hero mold, likely because although he has the body of Hercules, his face still has that quiet innocence of youth. But it’s the face that did him in this movie: his expressive range is not the widest road in town. It’s pretty much one look: halfway between a sweet smile and intestinal gas. This works sometimes, but not when he’s on the phone trying to tell the police about the awful things that had just happened to him (“parents” killed protecting him and his house was blown to bits). He should have at least frowned a little more. There was a scene later on when he wakes up after having been crying in his sleep. The eye drops must have just been put in place by the make-up artist before the director yelled “Action,” and they dripped down his face.

Ok, I’m not trying to be mean. But for an actor to be in every scene there has to be an ability to project emotion and drama without words, a simple look or twitch of the mouth. Lautner’s not there yet, but I think with time and training he will be.

You may not enjoy ABDUCTION, but you might enjoy eating some RAISINETTES while watching it.

As an action star who seems to do most of his own stunts, however, this guy rocks. The climax of the film takes place at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game (which I thought added a lot to the film’s everyman-caught-in-a-web-of-intrigue atmosphere), and here his physical prowess truly carries every scene he’s in. Just don’t zoom in too much when he’s sad, that’s all.

I mentioned the supporting cast. Here, some made the film truly worth watching, and others did not. One in particular in this latter category surprised me. Sigourney Weaver (AVATAR, 2009, ALIEN, 1979, and about a hundred others), plays his psychiatrist-cum-protector. I’m a big Weaver fan – she never fails to add something new and watch-worthy to every role, but she was not good at all in this movie. Her performance felt forced and flat. Now ABDUCTION plays out much like a young adult film, which in many ways it was intended to be, since the star’s fan base is still going through puberty, and Weaver once shined in another YA flick, HOLES (2003), so I know she can have major chops in any film she puts her mind to. Just not this one.

Same goes with the head of CIA pursuing Nathan before the mob can get him, played by the Alfred Molina (SPIDER-MAN 2, 2004, CHOCOLAT, 2000?). Molina usually carries scenes well, but always as a dark, creepy type (in the above-mentioned credits, Dr. Octopus and the uber-repressed mayor of a small French town). His CIA chief was more annoying than anything. Ironically, the guy who almost didn’t get any credit in the film save for a couple short lines as one of the CIA agents, Jake Andolina (UNSTOPPABLE, 2010), was actually much better and very expressive without speaking. I think he would have been better cast than Molina and his Weird Uncle performance.

The actors who played Nathan’s “fake” parents. Maria Bello (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, 2005) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy of the HARRY POTTER films over past decade, without the hair) were very, very good. Their early scenes (before the mob arrived) shined with their honest, powerful portrayals. Adding to this, and to Lautner’s credit, the young lead’s best performances as an actor were with these two people. Lautner’s and Isaacs’ sparring, Bello’s tender love for her son and her misery when he discovers the truth, were great scenes—were, in fact, the best performances in the film.

Michael Nyvqist (who played Mikael Blomkvistin the Swedish films based on the GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO book series) was good as the head mobster, though the part was as stereotypical as you’d imagine it would be. This is a good place to talk about some loose plot holes. Like the TV series 24 (2001-2010), the bad guys in this film have the most amazing tracking technology at their disposal. They can even spy on the CIA, and are constantly one step ahead of them. Just a little too good, you know? Also, during the climactic scene at the ball park, Nathan has managed to sneak something under his seat with duct tape before the game. How he did this, or how his buddy could have, was never said (because, of course, it wouldn’t have been possible). Lautner’s girlfriend (and this is the problem with many spy thrillers when a character in dire jeopardy is saved only by a quick scene cut), also should have finished up the second half of the movie with a few less fingers. I won’t explain why, but trust me, she should have (would have been too much for the fans, though, most likely) .

As mentioned, the climax at the baseball stadium was very cool. Overall, this scene was reminiscent of old James Bond / Hitchcock films. No, I’m being serious. It was well done (except for the thing-under-the-seat bit). Well-played by everyone including Lautner, who obviously also did his own stunts and shines in this kind of action-packed venue. His performance was appropriately intense, projecting the right amount of determination and nervousness to carry it off.

There’s no sex in the movie, and this was good. There was the obligatory make-out train ride scene mid-way through, but they were being hunted by killers and the filmmakers at least had the sense to realize Nathan’s first time would not have happened then. The characters just kissed passionately for a moment and then stopped and saved me from being embarrassed in front of my daughters.

One last complaint (among what I think has been an equally positive and negative review), and I won’t reveal the ending but: after everything was over and the credits really should have rolled, the filmmakers felt (wrongly) they needed another five minutes of everyone looking happy and smiling and acting syrupy. Honestly, it kind of ruined a lot of the impact of a pretty cool climactic scene. If a dénouement hurts the climax, cut it. Simple as that. Leave them wanting more, not less.

Overall, Amanda, Audrey and I were in agreement: ABDUCTION was entertaining, even with a few plot holes and occasional weak performances. They enjoyed looking at Taylor Lautner. I thought his performance was OK. No real range, which is needed for leading man, however. ABDUCTION is not going to win any major (or minor) awards, but it doesn’t suck, either.

I thought it was worth the admission price as along as you go to the matinee and make it a fun Daddy-Daughter(s) date. Which it was.

© Copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Keohane

KILLER ELITE (2011)

Posted in 2011, Action Movies, Based on a True Story, Cinema Knife Fights, LL Soares Reviews, Michael Arruda Reviews, Thrillers with tags , , , , , on September 26, 2011 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: KILLER ELITE (2011)
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(THE SCENE: An interrogation room. L.L. SOARES sits tied to a chair. His face is bloody. MICHAEL ARRUDA stands over him holding a pizza box, while two THUGS stand by, ready to inflict more pain)

MA: That’s the last time you’ll steal pizzas from my delivery service.

LS (whispers): Pssst. Why are you still doing the pizza gag? We already finished reviewing DRIVE last week.

MA: Yeah, well this week we’ve got a new movie to review. KILLER ELITE (2011). So talk.

LS: No, I won’t!

MA: I don’t want to have to let my boys hurt you some more. But I will if you don’t review the movie.

LS (sticks out his tongue): Nyah nyah!

MA (to a third THUG who is sitting at a computer): Are you on Fandango yet?

THUG # 3:  Yessir, boss.

MA: On my say-so, order those tickets for the new Sarah Jessica Parker movie, I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT! We’re going to the movies…

LS: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I’ll talk, I’ll talk.

MA: I knew that would get you. Now spill it!

LS: KILLER ELITE is a new movie starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro. It’s not a remake of the 1975 Sam Peckinpah flick with James Caan and Robert Duvall. I guess Hollywood already met its Peckinpah quota by putting out that STRAW DOGS remake last week. Instead, this one is based on a non-fiction book by Ranulph Fiennes, who is actually a character in this movie toward the end.

MA: Oh yes, the dreaded “This is Based on a True Story.”

LS: Yeah, I hate when that happens. Because you know the finished movie has NOTHING to do with truth.

MA: Exactly. But go on, you punk.

LS: Okay, so in this one, Statham and DeNiro are special ops buddies (named Danny and Hunter, respectively) who have a long history of working together. As the movie opens, they’re in South America to kill some politician, but when Statham opens the car door and kills the guy, he sees that there was an unexpected liability – the man’s child was in the car. Seeing the kid covered in blood, Statham hesitates and gets shot. DeNiro has to save his hide and get him away from the gunfire.

This leads Danny to declare he’s getting out of Special Forces for good.

MA:  I liked this opening, and I bought into and understood Danny’s motivation to leave the killing business immediately. I had more difficulty buying his motivation to get back into the business, but more on that later.

LS: Too bad this is a complete cliché. The hitman who gives up his profession because he accidentally kills a child, or a child is somehow involved, has been done countless times before. THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (1998) anyone? The truth is, if these guys are hard-as-nails killers, they shouldn’t be so easily thrown off their game. I’m just saying.

MA: Well, quit saying and get back to the plot synopsis.  I hear there are still plenty of seats available for the I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT! matinee.

LS (gulps):  So Danny goes to Australia, where he has a new love interest, Yvonne Strahovski (who also plays the hot spy, Sarah Walker, on the TV show CHUCK), and a new life. But that doesn’t last long. He gets a package in the mail that shows him that his buddy Hunter has been captured in Oman and is being held prisoner, unless Danny goes on another mission.

Danny shows up to meet with an old sheik who is about to reclaim his desert kingdom. But first, he wants revenge on the British soldiers who killed three of his sons. If Danny doesn’t do this, Hunter will be killed.

Danny goes to London to seek out the British SAS special ops guys who did the assassinations. It turns out they’re part of some secret organization  led by ex-SAS officers, that even the British government doesn’t know about. They’re formidable adversaries, but Danny doesn’t go in alone. He brings a team of his buddies with him, including Davies (Dominic Purcell) and Meier (Alden Young) who watch his back. But there’s a problem. As Danny is hunting down the men he has to kill, SAS agent Spike (Clive Owen) is hunting him down, trying to stop him before he completes his mission. Spike knows nothing about the grudges and assassinations that Danny is involved in, but he makes it his business to put a stop to it all.

So it’s Clive Owen (in a horrible mustache!) vs. Jason Statham, as the movie jumps constantly all over the world from Paris to London to Oman to South America, to who knows where. The movie jumps around so much that you might lose track of where the guys are at a given time.

MA:  Would you like a map?

LS:  Frankly, I’d like to get out of this chair.

MS:  Keep talking.

LS:  I’m actually a big fan of Jason Statham. He is one of the few current action stars who I actually enjoy watching. He’s in a lot of over-the-top stuff like the TRANSPORTER and CRANK movies, but he’s always interesting and always cool under pressure. He also is big and formidable enough to be believable as a kick-ass action star. And I like that he’s a man of few words. He lets his fists (and his feet) do the talking, when the time comes.

MA:  Yep, I like Statham a lot too, and I enjoyed him here in KILLER ELITE. And you hit the nail on the head when you said he’s formidable enough to be believable as a kick-ass action star. To me, that’s his strength, that you believe he can do all this stuff. Well, most of it anyway. He was one of the better parts of last year’s Sylvester Stallone testosterone flic, THE EXPENDABLES (2010), too.

LS:  I like Clive Owen a lot too. He’s been in some really good movies over the past decade including SIN CITY (2005) and CHILDREN OF MEN (2006), and, despite the bad mustache, he’s good here as well.

MA (now wearing a horrible mustache):  I actually liked Owen better than Statham. They both deliver excellent performances, but I really enjoyed Owen’s shadowy deadly killer Spike. You don’t really know about this guy, and he makes a formidable adversary for Danny. Plus, during most of the film, I was actually rooting for him as I bought into his motivations more. I believed in his desire to seek out vengeance against those who killed his friends more than in Danny’s need to save his buddy Hunter. I thought Owen’s Spike was a much more interesting character than Statham’s Danny.

LS:  Robert DeNiro is a legend, so I don’t really have to discuss his career, but he has been in a lot of crap lately (with a few small character roles that have stood out). In KILLER ELITE, he’s reduced to another supporting role, and he does fine, but this certainly is not much of a career highlight for him.

MA:  Yeah, I would agree, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do it well. I always enjoy watching DeNiro, and it’s no different here, but you’re right, it’s just a supporting role. This one belongs to Statham and Owen.

LS:  KILLER ELITE is not an awful movie, but it can be a boring one at times.

MA:  Boring?  (his mustache flies off)  I didn’t find it boring at all. I really liked this one.

LS:  You would.

Sure, there are scenes of all-out action, mostly involving Statham, and he does a serviceable job. But there are also lots of slow parts in between the action sequences, and I didn’t really care about a lot of the secrets and double-crosses along the way.

MA:  I did. I thought all this shadowy espionage drove the plot along and was really interesting.

LS:  I have to admit, there were a few times when I felt really drowsy and was afraid I was going to nod off, and that’s not good in an ACTION movie.

MA: Did we see the same movie?

LS:  The direction by Gary McKendry is okay. He tells his story and puts the actors through their paces, but he doesn’t do anything that really gets our attention.

MA:  I completely disagree.

I thought he created some pretty cool action scenes in this one. I liked the sequence involving the oil truck, and the fight scene between Statham and Owen when they first meet in the movie is one of the best fight sequences I’ve seen in a long time. It was intense, violent, and deftly edited. It wasn’t over the top, and it reminded me of that classic hard hitting James Bond fight scene between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw on the train in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963).

There were a couple of other chase scenes in this one that I liked a lot as well. Overall, I give Gary McKendry high marks for his direction.

LS:  I don’t know. Statham has been in movies a lot dumber than this one that have been ten times more entertaining. So I wasn’t all that impressed by McKendry.

The script, by McKendry, Matt Sherring and the author of the book it’s based on, Ranulph Fiennes (who is played by Dion Mills in a key scene) is kind of plodding with a few good scenes that attempt to ratchet things up, but the adrenaline doesn’t last long enough.

MA:  I liked the script a lot. The characters in this one were all interesting—think the BOURNE movies but with more than one Jason Bourne— and the plot was intricate and ambitious. You don’t know who to trust in this shadowy world of spies and assassins, and with multiple threats and two strong adversaries, this one had me hooked throughout.

I’m guessing you didn’t like this one because it wasn’t overly bloody. They toned down the violence, I thought, for an R-rated action thriller, and some of the kill scenes occur off camera, which I didn’t mind, but I’m guessing you would have rather seen these scenes.

There was some nudity, though, so I’m surprised this didn’t score some brownie points for you.

LS: Well, there wasn’t that much nudity. I’d almost say if you blinked, you would have missed it. Do I think more gore and nudity would have helped here? Maybe. But it wouldn’t have saved the movie for me. I just didn’t care all that much about the storyline.

The cast is top-notch, though. They deserved more compelling material to work with.

MA:  I liked the material.

LS:  For me, a boring movie can be just as bad or worse than a dumb one. After  paying the exorbitant ticket prices for the movie theaters these days, to be bored for almost half of a movie’s running time isn’t going to get a movie high points with me. So I wasn’t a big fan of KILLER ELITE.

What did you think, Michael?

MA:  I think you may have been tired and in need of a nap when you saw this one. I really liked it.

For me, it meant back to back weekends of exciting action movies, as we saw DRIVE last week. Now, these are two very different movies. DRIVE was a slick, well-oiled smoothly calibrated machine, while KILLER ELITE is a much more traditional action movie.

LS: Maybe I’m just not that into traditional action movies. I like my action with a bit of an edge to it, and KILLER ELITE was way too much “business as usual” for me.

MA:  Fair enough.

LS:  To be honest, I’m also not much of a fan of espionage films overall. So that may have a lot to do with our difference of opinion. Clearly, I’m not the ideal audience for a movie like KILLER ELITE. That said, if you’re not a big fan of traditional action/espionage films, KILLER ELITE is not going to win you over. It sure didn’t wow me.

I thought DRIVE easily blew this one away.

MA: But KILLER ELITE’s tale of multiple assassins and deadly espionage is much more ambitious than the story told in DRIVE. It doesn’t make it a better movie than DRIVE, but I appreciated the complexities of its plot and the fact that its characters do a heck of a lot more than the characters in DRIVE. There’s a lot going on in KILLER ELITE.

KILLER ELITE actually gets better as it goes along, and the tension really builds as Statham and Owen continue their battle with each other and the forces around them. It leads to a decent conclusion which I found satisfying.

To me, the driving force of this movie was seeing Statham and Owen go head to head. They really go at it for the entire movie.

LS: Yeah, except for the really slow parts.

MA: I don’t mean the film is one long fist fight between the two, but these two ace assassins and their respective teams, both of which feature top notch men, go back and forth throughout the film trying to learn about the other and ultimately stop the other, which makes for an exciting movie from start to finish. I was never bored.

From the previews, KILLER ELITE looked like a straightforward tale of Statham rescuing his buddy DeNiro. It’s much more complicated and exciting than that. I was impressed.

One thing I didn’t like all that much was the relationship between Statham and DeNiro. There was something annoying and nauseating about their friendship. They liked each other too much.

LS: I kept waiting for DeNiro to turn to Statham at one point and say “Danny, I’m your father!” But no such luck. You’re right, though, their relationship does border on the sappy. The gist I got out of it though was that DeNiro was Statham’s mentor, and definitely a father figure. Danny doesn’t seem to have a family outside of the job, so I’m guessing they just bonded in a way where they consider each other family. I didn’t find their relationship far-fetched. And I bought Danny’s motivation for wanting to rescue Hunter. It just wasn’t very interesting.

MA: I would have preferred it more had there been an edge to their friendship. There’s an edge between everyone else in the movie, but Statham and DeNiro act like an old married couple, and this stands out in a movie where characters don’t trust each other and kill each other without batting an eye.

This is supposed to make us believe that Statham would leave the happy life he had built for himself and return to the life of killing because he needs to save his friend from the evil sheik. I didn’t buy this. I would have bought it more if there was a darker reason. Perhaps if DeNiro had some secret about Statham that he was worried about leaking out if DeNiro fell into the wrong hands. I don’t know. I do know that I found their relationship sappy and full of vanilla, while the rest of the story was like a strong cup of coffee and, as a result, much more satisfying.

As such, I actually enjoyed Clive Owen’s performance and character more than I enjoyed Statham. Nothing against Statham. He is what he is, and he makes an excellent quiet tough guy, but I found Owen’s Spike much more mysterious and entertaining. I also found his story more compelling. He’s trying to save a bunch of guys he went to war with. Statham’s saving one man, his man-wife. If Owen hadn’t been in the movie, I wouldn’t have liked it as much.

LS: Yeah, Owen is a really good actor, and despite his not being as physical an actor as Statham, I think he holds his own in this movie. I liked just about everyone in the film. I also thought Dominic Purcell (from TV’s PRISON BREAK) was really good as Danny’s right-hand man, Davies. Purcell also just appeared in the remake of STRAW DOGS, where I didn’t like his performance that much at all. He really acquits himself here nicely.

MA: Yes, Purcell was excellent!

While Yvonne Strahovski is beautiful as Statham’s love interest, and she can act too, her character isn’t as interesting nor as integral to the plot as Carey Mulligan was in DRIVE last week, so she’s reduced to a stock female character, sadly.

LS: That’s because she’s hardly in the movie, and when she is, she isn’t given much to do. Her role is not as crucial to the story as Mulligan’s was to DRIVE. Clearly the real  romance in KILLER ELITE, as you pointed out, is between Statham and DeNiro.

MA: Nick Tate as Commander B, one of the mysterious leaders of the Feather Men, looked awfully familiar, and while he’s been in other stuff over the years, where I remembered him from—going WAY, WAY back—was from TVs’ 1970s space drama SPACE 1999. He played a character name Alan Carter. I used to love SPACE 1999, and so seeing Tate brought back memories.

LS: I loved SPACE 1999 as a kid!

MA: I found KILLER ELITE exciting and satisfying, and unlike you, I didn’t find it dull at all. I loved it, and I give it three and a half knives.

LS:  You really liked this one, huh? Maybe we did see different movies. Despite the fine acting involved, I give this one one and a half knives. What do you think about that?

THUG # 1: He disagreed with you, boss! Want me to rough him up some more?

MA (ignores his henchman): Yeah, well, I’m the one standing up holding a pizza box over your head, laughing boy, and you’re the one tied to a chair. What do you have to say about that?

LS:  What kind of pizza do you have in there?

MA (looks):  Pepperoni.

LS: How about a slice?

MA:  I can do better than that. Have the whole pie. (Opens the box and throws the entire pizza into LS’s face. Now he’s covered in blood and pizza sauce)

LS (licks his lips):  Gee, thanks. Extra cheese, too!

MA:  Hey! The script says you’re supposed to break out of the chair and attack me, so we can have an exciting fight scene to finish off the column.

LS:  And waste a good pizza?  I don’t think so. (Reveals that his hands are untied and picks up the pizza on him and around him and eats it.)  Too bad you can’t have any.

MA (frowns):  Well, I’ll just order my own pizza.

LS:  Nah, I changed my mind. I’ll share. Here, have a slice. (hurls a big drippy slice of pizza that hits MA directly in the face.)  Delicious, isn’t it?

MA (wiping cheese from his eyes and nose and eating it):  Just yummy.

LS:  Okay, folks, that’s it for now. We’ll see you next week with another review of another new movie.

MA:  Anyone have any Parmesan cheese?

LS:  Here, have another slice. (Throws another slice at MA’s face.)

—END—

© Copyright 2011 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives KILLER ELITE ~ three and a half knives!

L.L. Soares gives KILLER ELITE ~ one and a half knives!

Quick Cuts: WHO ARE YOUR EXPENDABLES? (Part 2)

Posted in 2011, Action Movies, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, LL Soares Reviews, Mark Onspaugh Columns, Quick Cuts on September 25, 2011 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTS – BAD-ASS ACTION TEAM (PART 2 OF 2)
(Quick Cuts created by Michael Arruda)

Welcome to another edition of QUICK CUTS, that column where brevity is key.

There sure are a lot of action movies/thrillers coming out in September— DRIVE, STRAW DOGS, THE KILLER ELITE, ABDUCTION— which got me to thinking:  last year, Sylvester Stallone collected a bunch of tough guys to star in his action pic, THE EXPENDABLES.  So, we asked our panel of experts, if they had the same choice, if they could gather a group of tough guys— or  gals— to star in an all new kick-ass action flick of their own, who would they  choose?  We asked them to limit their choices to five picks.

~ Michael Arruda

Here are the rest of the answers:

 *****

MARK ONSPAUGH:

Here’s my team, which uses some movie magic to resurrect or rejuvenate some members for the movie, THE SCOWL SQUAD:

Make My Day!

Clint Eastwood – Either old and crusty or young and trigger-happy, it doesn’t matter—no one’s tougher!

Bruce Lee – the undisputed martial arts master.

Sean Connery – 1960’s James Bond vintage—the spy’s spy.

Diana Rigg – 1960’s Emma Peel vintage—beautiful, deadly.

King Kong – because every tough team needs a giant ape!

******

L.L.SOARES:

I know that Quick Cuts is “that column where brevity is key,” but since Michael Arruda listed three separate teams, I will too.

 Just a team of random ass-kickers:

Uma Thurman – The Bride from KILL BILL Vol. 1 and 2 (2003 and 2004)

Charles Bronson – Paul Kersey from DEATH WISH (1974)

Clint Eastwood – Dirty Harry from DIRTY HARRY (1971)

Gunnar Hansen – the original Leatherface from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

And Nicolas Cage as himself

Special Guest Star: Danny Trejo as MACHETE (2010)

Does this man look scary to you?

And for the overseas market:

Toshiro Mifune – from countless Akira Kurosawa films, especially YOJIMBO (1961)

Chow-Yun Fat – 1980s Hong Kong version – from several John Woo movies, especially THE KILLER (1989)

Bruce Lee  – from ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)

Eihi Shiina –  as the sadistic Asami in AUDITION (1999) or as Ruka from TOKYO GORE POLICE (2008))

Min-sik Choi as OLDBOY (2003)

 

And one just for the kids-

Chloe Moretz – Hit Girl from KICK-ASS (2010)

Chiaki Kuriyama – GoGo Yubari from KILL BILL Vol. 1 (2003)

Harvey Stephens – Damien Thorn from THE OMEN (1976)

Linda Blair – the possessed Regan McNeil in THE EXORCIST (1973)

Patty McCormack – Rhoda Penmark from THE BAD SEED (1954)

****

That’s all folks!

Quick Cuts: WHO ARE YOUR EXPENDABLES? (Part 1)

Posted in 2011, Action Movies, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Michael Arruda Reviews, Quick Cuts with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2011 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTS – BAD-ASS ACTION TEAM (PART 1 of 2)
(Quick Cuts created by Michael Arruda)

Welcome to another edition of QUICK CUTS, that column where brevity is key.

There sure are a lot of action movies/thrillers coming out in September— DRIVE, STRAW DOGS, THE KILLER ELITE, ABDUCTION— which got me to thinking:  last year, Sylvester Stallone collected a bunch of tough guys to star in his action pic, THE EXPENDABLES.  So, we asked our panel of experts, if they had the same choice, if they could gather a group of tough guys— or  gals — to star in an all new kick-ass action flick of their own, who would they  choose?  We asked them to limit their choices to five picks.

~Michael Arruda

 Here are their answers:

*****

DANIEL KEOHANE:

Hmm… how about a perfect new CHARLIE’S ANGELS cast:

Jennifer Garner

Angelina Jolie

Uma Thurman

And a mature but always hot Diana Rigg as a female Bosley….maybe throw in Sigourney Weaver‘s voice for Charlie. Now and then she can scream from the speaker, “Get away from her, you bitch!”

When they're ready for the big leagues, Angelina Jolie would be a killer CHARLIE'S ANGEL

******

MICHAEL ARRUDA:

I’d go with Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Danny Trejo, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis and I’d call them THE WILD OLD BUNCH.

OR— I’d ignore time and go with Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Shaw, and Boris Karloff, and for their leader (I know, this makes six but I’m going over budget) I’d choose the Duke himself, John Wayne.

Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name

OR—for my assassin group, I’d go with Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Danny Trejo, and Chloe Moretz, and leading this dangerous group of assassins, Robert De Niro.

*****

COLLEEN WANGLUND:

As the Geisha of Gore I decided to go with an all-Asian cast for my Badass Action flick.

1)    Tak SakaguchiYAKUZA WEAPON (2011), VERSUS (2000) and MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD (2010)

2)    Michelle YeohTOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000)

3)    Andy LauINFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002) and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004)

4)    Sonny ChibaTHE STREETFIGHTER (1974) and KILL BILL Vol. 1 (2003)

5)    Meiko KajiLADY SNOWBLOOD (1973) and the FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION (1972-1973) series

Don't mess with Sonny Chiba - THE STREET FIGHTER!