Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

dog-eat-dog-paul-schrader-nicolas-cage-willem-dafoe-6Paul Schrader has had the privilege of being associated with some of the most important and prestigious films in history. Dog Eat Dog is not one of them. That, in just the slightest of paraphrases, was the introduction Schrader provided to his movie in remarks before its screening at the 2016 London Film Festival. The film rolled shortly thereafter, proving him absolutely correct. Dog Eat Dog is simultaneously nothing special and somewhat fascinating, the latter due to the enormous amount of talent associated with the project, starting with Schrader, but extending to a cast that features Willem Dafoe and Nicholas Cage as well as the source material for the script, a novel penned by Edward Bunker, an ex-con who starred as Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs and wrote the screenplay for Runaway Train. (more…)

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braqueursThe Crew (aka Braqueurs) is a phenomenon – an 80-minute, pure adrenaline, perfectly crafted exercise in action filmmaking. Writer/director Julien Leclercq has assembled a dragster built for speed and stripped of anything that would weigh the story down for even one beat. This movie is mandatory viewing for all would-be genre directors. Scratch that. The Crew should be studied in film schools or shown to anyone interested in a pure economy of storytelling. Of course, not every film should be be built according to these specifications, but given that too many movies are simply too damn long, Leclercq beautifully demonstrates the art of the possible. (more…)

img_0348The last couple of trips to the virtual drive-in have been pretty rough. The movies weren’t good; they weren’t drive-in good; hell, they weren’t even so bad, they’re good. They were just bad. The kind of bad that makes you wonder if you’re spending too much time watching movies and not enough time exercising or reading or talking to your family or engaging in some other bizarre behavior. Thank goodness then for Initiation, a little exploitation diamond in a rough patch of mediocrity.

This flick is just damn good drive-in. And what do we mean by that? The finest pieces of exploitation film make you feel just a little bit bad for even wanting to watch them. They tap into the primal, the urges we were meant to have put behind us, but still lurk just below the surface veneer of civility. Lurid is the perfect adjective to describe a good drive-in movie: gruesome, sensational, and unrestrained. (more…)

NerveNerve had the good fortune to be released in the same week that Pokémon Go may have crested. The underlying conceit of the film is that a game app for smart phones could be so alluring that it would drive users outside to play it. What once could have been dismissed as satiric science fiction is now an established fact. If you doubt the potential power of apps, go to any urban area and watch for the folks holding their phones slightly above waist level as they shuffle forward and swipe, occasionally breaking the spell to shout, “I got a Jigglypuff!”

The app in the film is called Nerve, but it could be called Dare or I Bet You. Users register as players or watchers (the latter forking over $19.99 for a 24-hour window). Players are challenged to complete tasks directly tied to personal phobias culled from data mining online profiles. Predictably, there’s a good bit of being in public naked and almost falling off tall buildings. Complete the dare and a deposit is made in your bank account. Fail or bail, and you lose everything. Oh, and don’t forget – snitches get stitches, so don’t tell your mom or the cops. (more…)

Dragon InnToo often lost in the hype surrounding anniversary re-releases and 4K restorations of classic films is whether these movies still maintain a contemporary entertainment value or are they of interest only to cinephiles and film school students. So far in 2015, we have seen the 75th anniversary release of The Maltese Falcon and a return to theaters of the 1954 classic, On The Waterfront. Not only are these two movies among the most influential in film history, both remain riveting cinema and still hold the power to enthrall a mainstream audience. (more…)

TrivisaThere is a notable lack of overt sentiment in the Hong Kong action thriller, Trivisa, but just below the surface of this intriguing film, there is an ache. Trivisa is a bittersweet valentine to the heyday of the hardboiled Hong Kong crime flicks of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Strikingly, the movie does not attribute the decline of the genre to the growing regional influence of Hollywood films that assimilated the themes and talent of Hong Kong action cinema, but squarely targets the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997 as the end of an era. (more…)

WOE_FirstLook-2-1024x716Have you ever wondered if a mime would make a noise when run over by a police car? This and other too-often neglected questions of law enforcement are finally answered in John Michael McDonagh’s irreverent take on the buddy cop formula, War on Everyone.

Imagine a remake of Lethal Weapon in which the Mel Gibson character spoke and acted like Mel Gibson in the course of a DUI. Meanwhile, the Danny Glover guy profanely berates his children, enables his alcoholic partner, and argues with his wife over the source of existential philosophy quotes. War on Everyone is South Park meets Starsky & Hutch, a kick ass, crazy, would-be procedural that is not satisfied until it has found the scene that offends you. (more…)