We Want Action: Inglorious Bastards (1978) & Striking Distance (1993)

Like I said in my Losers review, I’m not a huge fan of World War II movies, but after watching and liking Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds I wanted to check out the movie it borrowed its title from (though it’s also called Quel maldetto treno blindato, Counterfeit Commandos, Deadly Mission, G.I. Bro, Hell’s Heroes and a slew of other versions in other countries). For the longest time my Netflix told me it would be coming to instant watch soon and when it finally did a week or two back, I put it to the top of my list. Holy crap, this was a fun movie, especially if you thought Tarantino’s version didn’t have enough violence.

Like the poster says “Whatever the Dirty Dozen did they do it dirtier!” which is pretty awesome because the only other WWII movie I’m really familiar with is that one with some Kelly’s Hero’s thrown in (I now own that double DVD feature thanks to Christmas). Anyway, the idea here is that five soldiers who were supposed to go to court marshal take advantage of an enemy attack on their convoy and try to make a break for Switzerland. On their way they take in a German soldier, kill some folks and go swimming with a bunch of naked German chicks. Then in the third act things change after they realize they’re responsible for screwing up a pretty big plan of Army’s.

I love the cavalier attitude these characters sport, including Fred Williamson who’s becoming one of my favorite action stars around. But it’s not all gun fire, explosions and naked German girls. The plot’s well put together without being too confusing, the final plan is pretty interesting and everything goes wrong and characters even have pretty interesting arcs. All in all, Inglorious Bastards was worth the wait and has put me in the mood to watch more WWII movies from the late 70s.

Allow me to regale you with the cast of Striking Distance: Bruce Willis, Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore (he looks half the size he does on celebrity rehab), Timothy Busfield (of Revenge Of The Nerds and Studio 60 fame), a hot Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Pastorelli, John Mahoney, Andre Braugher (from Homicide) and the incomparable Tom Atkins. Unfortunately Atkins only has a small part and appears in just one scene (a true cinematic crime as he could surely play every character Eddie Murrphy-style).

The plot’s a pretty simple one. Willis was a cop trying to track down a serial killer who he thought was a cop. After testifying against his partner and cousin (Pastorelli) and speaking out when he thought the wrong guy was tried and convicted for the murders, which included his father (Mahoney). A few years later he’s a river cop with Parker as his new partner when it seems like the killer returns by killing Willis’ old girlfriends and dropping them in the river. There’s some fairly obvious twists and turns, but overall it’s a fun little movie that might actually be more fun for the celebrity spotting than anything else. Plus it’s fun that the movie’s set on water I guess. For part of it at least.

I’m kind of surprised because, according to the IMDb Trivia Page says that Willis apologized for this movie. I can’t imagine why. I mean, it’s not a classic by any means, but it’s a fun enough action movie in the vein of lots of other action movies of the day. Maybe he didn’t want to be compared to Van Damme and Seagal, but I think I enjoyed it more than Last Man Standing.

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