We Want Action: Raw Deal (1986)

raw deal posterBy now it seems pretty obvious that I’m a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies. They might not be the most advanced films in the world, but every now and then you want to watch a big guy blast through a bunch of bad guys who (probably) deserve it.

I was excited to see Raw Deal pop up on El Rey’s On Demand section because it comes after both Conan movies, Red Sonja, Terminator and Commando but right before classics like Predator and The Running Man and yet I’d never seen it. Continue reading We Want Action: Raw Deal (1986)

We Want Action Double Feature: Sabotage (2014) & Chinese Zodiac (2012)

sabotage french posterI thought about calling this post “We Want Old Man Action’ but thought it might get a lot of the wrong kinds of hits. Well, now that I’ve typed that I guess I’ll get them anyway! But, I’ve got to say, I was very impressed with both Sabotage and Chinese Zodiac which are anchored by stars the 67-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-58-year-old Jackie Chan respectively.

I don’t remember hearing much in the way of good reviews about David Ayer’s Sabotage. After having seen the film, I have a feeling that people didn’t show up because they didn’t want to watch “a Schwarzenegger film.” It’s too bad for them because, this is a tight, sometimes sinister thriller about a squad of DEA agents who tried to steal a ton of drug money, failed and start getting murdered one by one.

Plot-wise, this sounds like the kind of 80s or 90s action movies that don’t live up to the emotional heaviness inherent in their plots, but that’s not the case here. Schwarzenegger’s squad includes Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Max Martini, Kevin Vance and Mark Schlegel all of who balance the reckless after-hours antics of these agents with the ridiculously serious and proficient way they go about their actual jobs. They each bring different levels of intensity to their characters that, when combined with a breakneck pace, intense moments of violence and cops played by Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau, make for an incredibly engaging and intriguing film.

Much like with The Last Stand and even Escape Plan to a lesser extent, I thought Schwarzenegger did a great job of being in a film that doesn’t so much rely on him running around and getting into fist fights or blowing people away, but instead lets him do some actual acting work (while also firing the occasional weapon, of course). If that last sentence sounds like crazy-talk to you, just look at Ayer’s other films like End Of Watch, Fury and Training Day and ask if you think he’d make a silly action film.

chinese zodiac poster If you are looking for something a little bit more silly and fun, then I highly recommend Chinese Zodiac which Jackie Chan starred in and also directed. I’ve read that the movie takes some cues from Chan’s earlier films Armour Of God and Operation Condor (or Armour Of God 2: Operation Condor as it’s also known), but I still haven’t seen those all the way through and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything not being familiar with them.

In the movie, Chan plays a master thief who, along with his crew, agrees to steal back a series of Zodiac statue heads that were pillaged from China about 150 years ago. This job sends them all over the world from locales as diverse as a huge mansion to a large boat in the middle of a jungle protected by pirates.

I love the adventure aspects of this movie that felt like they borrowed well from the Indiana Jones films. I also really enjoyed the action elements. Chan handles a lot of them on his own, but his crew also proves to be more than capable fighters and entertainers at the same time. I was a little worried that he might look stiff or that he might use a fill in like Chuck Norris did in the awful The Cutter. Instead, he’s as spry as I remember him which is nice because the last newer Chan movie I watched, Gorgeous, was a big disappointment.

I’m happy to say that Chinese Zodiac reminded me of Chan’s action-comedy masterpiece Police Story and it’s follow-up. In addition to being a fun action movie, it also has an interesting message about the complexity of the world’s relationship with ancient artifacts, especially ones that were removed from one place where they were revered and taken to another place where they became equally important.

While Sabotage and Chinese Zodiac are very different movies, I liked them both very much both because they’re good in and of themselves, but they also show that these two action stars can still do their thing. To paraphrase Stan Lee in Mallrats, if they keep making these movies, I’ll keep watching them true believers!

We Want Action: Escape Plan (2013)

escape plan poster[As you’ll be able to tell shortly, this was originally written back in March.] It’s kind of funny that I happened to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan the same weekend as the former’s Sabotage also debuted. I didn’t plan on being relatively timely, I just wanted to watch a movie with two of my favorite action stars. Sure, it would have been cool to see these guys team up on the big screen in the 80s, but I don’t know if that would have made for a better movie.

In Mikael Håfström’s Escape Plan, Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a guy who goes to jail in order to test the prison’s ability to keep criminals inside. He works with a team that includes Abigail (Amy Ryan), Hush (50 Cent) and his business partner Lester (Vincent D’Onofrio). Breslin gets hired to test a top secret prison that holds the worst of the worst. He agrees and wakes up inside the Tomb, a state of the art prison run by Hobbes (Jim Caviezel). It becomes clear to Breslin pretty quickly that he got tricked into going to this particular lock-up. He soon teams up with Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) to break out of the craziest prison around. 

I’m sure a lot of people aren’t interested in watching a couple of dudes in their late 60s play action roles and that’s fine. I’d be a little uncomfortable with it myself if it wasn’t these two guys. Much like Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, this movie doesn’t pretend that these are two guys in their prime like some of the latter day Chuck Norris films did. Sure, there are a fair amount of fist fights and more running around than even I do on a normal basis, but the action itself didn’t seem forced upon characters or actors unable to handle it.

With echoes of  my beloved Prison Break and even that Gerard Butler movie Law Abiding Citizen, I had as much fun watching Escape Plan as I hoped I would. But, what really boosted this film in my mind was Caviezel’s portrayal of Hobbes. He really just goes for the craziness of it all and fully embraces it. He’s a ruthless man who wants to keep his ship sailing as smoothly as possible, so seeing that and him break down is a treat. You don’t get to see much of that these days because it can so easily veer into the kind over-the-top territory Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies of yore lived in, but Caviezel walks that line pretty damn well in my book. For what it’s worth, I also really enjoyed 50 Cent in what might be his most understated role to date (or at least in my experience).

At the end of the day, I don’t think Escape Plan is the kind of movie that will change anyone’s opinion of Stallone or Schwarzenegger like Cop Land did for the former back in the late 90s, but it is a fun, well put together action film that looks great and has a super-game cast that seemed to have fun with the material.

HDTGM Triple Feature: Jingle All The Way (1996), Street Fighter (1994) & Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)

jingle all the way poster One of the highlights of my podcast-listening week is seeing a new episode of How Did This Get Made pop up. I’m a huge fan of this show about wacky movies hosted by Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas. Sometimes I watch the movie before the episode goes live, sometimes I’m pretty familiar with them already and other times, I just go along for the ride and check it out later. In the past few weeks, I’ve actually watched a trio of films inspired by the podcast and figured I’d group them all together. I also just realized that these three movies feature three of my favorite action stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone in some of their most bonkers movies ever.

The gang covered the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sinbad holiday comedy Jingle All The Way on their first Christmas episode back in 2011. I watched this one a few weeks back, but thankfully took notes to help jog my memory. The movie finds workaholic dad Schwarzenegger going crazy trying to find an action figure for his son, played by future Anakin Skywalker Jake Lloyd. Sinbad moves in an out of the movie doing the same thing. Meanwhile, it seems like Phil Hartmann is moving in on Arnie’s wife Rita Wilson and this is all leading towards a huge holiday parade in what’s supposed to be a snow-covered town, but is clearly a side street in LA in the spring.

I thought I had this movie figured out for the first 20 minutes or so. That part is basically a movie for kids with over-the-top, cartoony style gags. Heck, there’s all kinds of talk in the first 10 minutes that set up the entire film (toy, parade, snow, etc.). Cool, I got it, let’s roll. And then things start getting weird and dark. The whole Hartman thing was pretty crazy, plus Sinbad is a nutso postal worker (remember when that was a thing?) who actually hands a cop a bomb that explodes! Luckily, he’s okay because he’s apparently facing off against the Road Runner. The whole thing culminates in a big parade where Arnie dresses up as the action figure hero and has a pretty epic fight with Sinbad. I feel like I could use the word “bonkers” to describe roughly everything in this movie. I wound up watching the end with my kid and I’m pretty sure she didn’t pick up on any of the insanity, so maybe you can get away with this one with a tyke if you have one. Maybe just cover their eyes when Arnie punches a reindeer in the face. That might be damaging.

Before moving on, if you’re looking for any kind of message, don’t. The obvious and seemingly intended point is that commercialism is not the point of Christmas, but that being with people is. And yet, the ENTIRE MOVIE is actually about commercialism, getting things, taking them away from other people and keeping them. You can’t just tack on a nice moment from Lloyd at the end and flip the whole script, you know? Ah well, moving on…

street-fighter-the-movie-poster This spring, HDTGM covered one of the greatest bad video game movies around when they did Street Fighter starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Ming-Na Wen (who’s as wooden here as she is on S.H.I.E.L.D., zing!), Kylie Minogue and Miguel A. Núñez Jr. who was in both Return Of The Living Dead AND Friday The 13th: A New Beginning. I’ve probably only played a Street Fighter game for about an hour in my whole life and know next to nothing about the franchise, but it’s still clear from watching this movie that the writers didn’t really care about any of that as far as plot goes and instead decided to just shoehorn in nods to the games.

Basically, Julia plays a guy who wants to not so much rule the world, but his own country. JCVD isn’t down with that, especially after Julia captures one of his pals. Thankfully, JCVD leads some kind of UN-type military group that wears bright blue camouflage for no reason. I honestly can’t remember many of the details beyond that because every single character in this movie is lying about what they want or why they’re there. So many of them switch sides that you practically need a score card. Actually, that’s an overstatement as the good guys are clearly good and the bad guys, well, usually wear masks, hats or have crazy blades on their hands.

The funny thing about this movie is that, I was pretty sure I’d seen this back in my high school days or maybe when I lived with my buddy Rickey and we watched a ton of JCVD movies. When I went to Netflix to give it watch, I laughed because it asked if I wanted to watch again and the screen capture was of the end credits. Guys, I can’t stay away from a good-bad JCVD movie and this is one of the best-worst. If you do watch this movie, please do yourself a favor and listen to the episode. They point out so many awesome bits of craziness that I kind of want to listen to it again right now.

stop or my mom will shoot I realized yesterday that Netflix Instant is about to cut a ton of titles on January 1st. Turns out there are 25 of those soon-to-be-gone flicks in my queue so I figured I’d watch a few when I can. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot popped out from the batch because of one thing: How Did This Get Made (episode 61 to be exact). Since Lu had laid claim to the big TV, I actually broke out the Kindle Fire and watched that way which worked pretty well.

Sylvester Stallone plays a supercop in this one whose mom — Estelle Getty — comes for a visit only to witness a murder that she teams up with her son to solve. This movie is so all-over-the-place that it’s really hard to get a handle on. It starts off with a solid action scene which eventually leads into an airport scene where a group of stewardesses comment on his physique based on pictures — many of them baby pics — that Estelle showed them. One of them even says something about him being attractive in a diaper which is just so weird and gross that it’s hard to handle. In fact, there’s a lot of awkward sex jokes that leave you off balance.

Keeping you further off balance is a scene where Estelle — who is super annoying in that way that moms of this time were on TV and film — actually washes his gun with soap and water in the sink. Up to that point she was just overbearing, but at this point she’s dumb verging on insane. That gets compounded by the fact that she brought an entire suitcase of canned pineapple as well as another one with cleaning products. That’s obviously pre-intense airline security, but I’m fairly certain you can make something terrible with at least one of those cases.

Oh, I forgot to mention that his house is kind of crazy too. He’s got a ton of random stuff all over the place from a ceramic pumpkin and a rubber ducky to a bunch of board games and a tiny red gumball machine. And there’s a dream sequence where Stallone’s in a diaper. And Estelle Getty shoots a guy. And there’s a henchman thrown out a window. And, and, and. None of this is actually about story so much as the crazytown things thrown in to launch an admittedly silly plot over-the-top into bonkersville.

Again, do yourself the service of listening to this episode if you decided to watch the movie (or even if you don’t, it’s that good). They point out a lot of the elements I noticed but also so many more. And remember, while you’re watching this one, remind yourself that Stallone has an Oscar for writing.

Trailer Time: Jack Ryan: Shadow One & Escape Plan

The timing is pretty crummy for this first Jack Ryan: Shadow One trailer to hit so close to author Tom Clancy’s recent passing, but it’s still nice to celebrate the man’s work which had been so influential. This first trailer from the Year One type film stars Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh who also stars as the bad guy. The film opens on December 25th.

Escape Plan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, now has TV spots that seem to be playing in fairly regular rotation. Better yet, they do a pretty solid job of explaining the film in greater detail than we’d seen previously. This one bows on October 18th.

 

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

i-frankenstein-aaron-eckhart-1Aaron Eckhart looks pretty badass in this teaser for the first I, Frankenstein trailer which hits tomorrow. [via Collider]

amber_heard_machete_killsAmber Heard looks ready to handle anything in her solo Machete Kills poster. [via SHH]

hunger games catching fire poster fullSpeaking of dangerous ladies with pointy objects, Jennifer Lawrence wants to shoot you with an arrow in the latest The Hunger Games: Catching Fire poster. [via Moviefone]

Hugh Jackman recently told the world that he’s got a part in Neill Blomkamp’s robot kidnapping drama Chappie. [via Screen Daily]

transformers age of extinction Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack ReynorMichael Bay showed off this picture of Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor from the set of Transformers: Age Of Extinction. [via Michael Bay]

Discovery Channel’s working on an Evel Kineval documentary called True Evel. [via Deadline]

gina carano fast & furious 6Gina Carano’s In The Blood will be distributed by Anchor Bay and Fox home video. In the film, the MMA star goes on a mission to get her kidnapped husband back in the Caribbean. [via THR]

joely richardson nip tuckMaggie, the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a dad trying to help his daughter played by Abigail Breslin after she gets bit by a zombie, has rounded out the family unit with Joely Richardson joining on as the mom. [via TheWrap]

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

hellblazerThis has been a big month for comic-based TV. In addition to the debut of ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. and news of a Gotham series at Fox, NBC is working on a Constantine show based on Vertigo and DC’s Hellblazer comics. John Constantine’s one of the most interesting and dark characters in comics, but how will that translate to TV? [via Deadline]hunger-games-catching-fire-jennifer-lawrence

If you’re interested in checking out a ton of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pics, you’re in luck. [via Collider]

Sideshow‘s Battle Damaged Terminator 2 statue is all kinds of awesome. Half-destroyed Arnold Schwarzenegger has never looked so good! The Sideshow exclusive version even comes with a mini Thumbs Up statue sticking out of the lava!bryce dallas howard terminator salvation

Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation) is in talks to star in the fourth Jurassic Park film, now called Jurassic World. Production was postponed so director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow could polish it up with Derek Connolly. The movie’s scheduled for a June 12, 2015 release, so they better get those contracts signed quick. [via Variety]

TNT has an untitled show in the works that’s described as a mix of Bourne Identity and National Treasure. Yes, more of that! [via Deadline]Christoph Waltz inglourious basterds

WB is working on a new Tarzan movie directed by David Yates (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows) starring Alexander Skarsgard as the title character. He’ll be facing off against Inglourious Basterds bad guy Christoph Waltz as the villain. Margot Robbie (Focus) and Emma Stone have been mentioned to play Jane, but nothing’s finalized yet. [via Varietymichael b jordan chronicle

Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan is being looked at to star in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day 2. No offers have been made or deals signed, but that’s the word right now. [via TheWrap]the wolverine

Finally, feast your eyes on this seriously accurate Hugh Jackman action figure based on his appearance in The Wolverine. [via Hot Toys]