We Want Action: Drop Zone (1994)

drop zone poster Of all the big action stars of the 80s and 90s, Wesley Snipes is one whose films I’m almost completely unfamiliar with. Sure, I’ve seen Blade — what comic fan my age didn’t see it? — and a few other of his more recent films, but I’m still something of a novice when it comes to his filmography. So, when I came across 1994’s Drop Zone, a skydiving action movie directed by John Badham (Short Circuit, WarGames) I figured it would be worth checking out.

And it was. Kind of. While this movie certainly doesn’t abide by the laws of physics and the acting isn’t the best, I still had fun watching it, thanks mostly to the game, if not overly talented cast. Snipes is all over the place in this film. You’d think he’d be more upset after his brother got killed, but you can’t tell as the movie rolls on. Plus, not for nothing, but he’s not the most natural actor of all time. Then you’ve also got Yancy Butler as the head of the skydiving group. She’s super into this role and has a lot of cool moments. I also liked that she was a complicated female character in an action movie which doesn’t happen all too often.

Meanwhile, Gary Busey plays the bad guy. On the Busey-Crazy Scale he’s somewhere between Lethal Weapon and The Rage. This time around he’s running a gang of skydiving thieves who sprung Michael Jeter’s character — a hacker — from prison to help with their next job. They’re trying to get involved with a Washington, D.C. Fourth of July so they can dive in and rob the DEA. The rest of the cast is rounded out with tons of That Guy and That Woman actors and actresses who have mile-long IMDb pages who, on the whole, nail their parts.

Silly as some of the action scenes can be — one parachuter somehow flies right through the window of a truck that should supposedly be driving away from the scene — I will say that the practically shot skydiving scenes are pretty thrilling. In that regard, it reminded me of Cliffhanger where the reality of the subject trumps my brain telling me that I’m watching a fictional film. Not being a thrill seeker myself, I always get a little antsy when I see people way high up with the potential to come down quick, fast and messily.

Snipes’ aforementioned brother is played by Cosby Show alum Malcolm-Jamal Warner. I realized while explaining part of this story to someone over the weekend that this movie would have been infinitely better if Warner had starred. He’s a far better actor and most of the fight scenes felt pretty tacked on, so they either could have been dropped or Warner probably could have pulled them off.

So, while Drop Zone isn’t exactly a classic action film for the ages, it does have some fun moments that make it the perfect kind of movie to watch with a group of friends while drinking beer and eating pizza. Man, I miss watching movies with my friends!

Friday Night Fights: Riggs Vs. Mr. Joshua (1987)

*Friday Night Fights presents crazy fight and battle scenes from movies with little-to-no context. If you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll probably want to skip the clip. *

It might be hard to remember now, but there was once a time where we didn’t want to see Mel Gibson get his ass handed to him. In fact, when Lethal Weapon came out back in 1987 he was a bonafide hero. The film, written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner is still an action classic, thanks in no small part to this knock-down, drag-out fight. In the rain. With Busey. It’s just fantastic.

You’ve already been warned, but this IS the end of the movie, so if you’ve somehow never seen Lethal Weapon, this is SPOILER-tastic. Seriously though, how have you never seen Lethal Weapon?

 

Quick Movie Review: D.C. Cab (1983)

Wow, how is this movie not up there with other 80s icon movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Fletch? Well, possibly because it’s not a tight script like those movies. Many, I love those two flicks. Anyway, DC Cab might suffer from less good plot, but it benefits from starring Mr. T, Adam Bladwin (Jane from Firefly), Gary Busey, Bill Maher and Paul Rodriguez. The idea is that Baldwin’s dad was a cabbie but he died, so Baldwin came to DC to learn how to be a cabbie with the ensemble cast. Like Car Wash, another movie involving Joel Schumacker (he wrote the story for this one and directed) DC Cab features a bunch of blue collar dudes just trying to make a living and be generally alright people while putting up with all the bullshit that comes from doing those kinds of jobs.

In the end, the movie turns out to be a weird kind of ransom story with Baldwin and some jaded rich children getting kidnapped and his fellow cabbies rallying to save him (and the kids presumably).

I added this movie to my queue for two reasons. The first being that I remembered this poster/cover from the old VHS days of video rental and the second being that it stars my namesake Mr. T. Okay, so he’s not my namesake, but I did get the chance to interview the guy once while at Wizard and it was a truly amazing experience (look for the full transcript coming soon). He’s kind of a bit player in the movie, but he does his usual schtick. The real surprise here was Busey who I didn’t even know was in the flick but acted exactly as you might expect him to. I had a great time watching this flick last night and would recommend anyone to do the same on Netflix’s instant watch, but the movie expires today. Maybe this will be like one of those Starz movies that “deletes” and then reappears right away, but I would recommend this for any 80s action/comedy fans who don’t mind watching a little nonsense before seeing Mr. T rough some dudes up.

Number One With A Bullet

2008-08-15
3:50:32 am

Hey Gang, so, I’m not a big werewolf movie fan. It’s one of the many things I share with Brian over at

Horror Movie a Day. So, when I read about how much he liked the Stephen King-based Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Terry O’Quinn, Lawrence Tierney werewolf movie from 1985 called Silver Bullet. I’m actually going to let his

review speak for me as I essentially agree with him completely.

I will say, that I really enjoyed seeing Terry O’Quinn in something besides Locke (and the boss from Old School) and Tierney as someone besides Joe from Reservoir Dogs. It’s fun seeing these guys in other rolls when you’re so used to seeing them as specific characters.

Also, I gotta say that I found this to be a pretty effective movie. The werewolf effects weren’t great, but there was a Jaws-like sense of suspense by not showing him all too much. The mystery of who the wolf really is isn’t the main thrust of the flick, but it is a pretty tense moment when you find out who it really is.

And finally, you just can’t go wrong with Busey. He basically plays a slightly less crazy version of himself now and even adlibbed a lot of his lines, which King himself approved (if IMDB is to be believed). Good stuff.

‘Point’ Taken: A Point Break Review

2008-05-23
4:42:50 am

Woah. I think I fell in love with Point Break tonight. I’d heard about it over the years, am a big Swayze fan and have even seen the Mythbusters episode that talks about the parachuting scenes (I mean, a movie’s gotta be pretty rad if the Mythbusters take it on…or completely ridiculous). If nothing else, I now want to jump out of an airplane, rob a bank, surf and hang out with Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Lori Petty. Anyway, let’s jump into:

Point Break (1991)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Written by Rick King & W. Peter Iliff

Starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, John C. McGinley, Anthony Kiedis & Tom Sizemore (for a second)

Okay, so I’ve gotten a few complaints (really, just from Em, but she’s the only one that I’ve heard from next to Ben and Rickey) that the reviews zoom in on the plot a bit too much, so I’m going to try and keep the summarizing up and the in-depth plot reviews down (we’ll see how that works out).

Here’s the basic plot, Keanu plays Johnny Utah, an FBI agent who recently transfered to the robbery unit in LA. His partner is Gary Busey who actually plays one of the less crazy dudes in the movie. They’re trying to bring down a group of bank robbers calling themselves the Ex Presidents (they put on president masks while pulling their jobs). Busey’s got this crazy idea that the robbers are actually surfers (apparently the other agents consider this a crackpot theory, it sounds like good detective work to me, but what do I know?). So, to try and figure out which gang of surfers knocks off banks only during the summer months, Utah goes undercover, gets Lori Petty to teach him to surf and ingratiates himself to a group of surfers including Swayze who plays Bodhi, the lead bank robber. They become friendly, which, of course leads to conflict, much of which takes place while skydiving.

I love this cast. I used to wonder whether Keanu got a bad wrap or if he was just really good at playing the roles he was given. Honestly, I’m still not sure what the deal with him is, but he has some of the most awesomely bad lines in action movie history in this flick (“You’re sayin’ the FBI’s gonna pay me to learn to surf?” “You’re cold because all of the blood is running out of your body Roach. You’re gonna be dead soon. I hope it was worth it.”). Any way you look at it he’s an incredibly entertaining actor, especially as a surfing FBI agent.

And who can deny Swayze’s awesomeness? Have you seen Road House? They even reference it here with a throwaway line mentioning a place called Patrick’s Road House. Nice touch, writers. Whether he’s talking about “feeling waves” or doing crazy ballet and dance moves after jumping out of a plane, this dude is just so freakin’ charismatic that you can’t help but buy into his “sticking it to the man” BS, even though, by the end of the movie, you realize he’s really just a stone-cold psycho with one thing in mind: getting to the 50 year storm.

Also, why isn’t Lori Petty in more stuff? She’s great in everything she does (League of their Own, Tank Girl, Livewire on Superman the Animated Series and even Free Willy). As usual, she has an innocence that really grabs me, even though she’s playing tough broad. Speaking of tough, Gary Busey kills it, as usual, but this time he’s a good guy. Not sure if I’ve ever seen him play a good guy in a movie (or real life), but it was a nice change that he pulled off with his usual crazy bravado.

Okay, so I clearly liked the cast, but I also dug the flick itself. Yeah, it’s about 2 hours, but I feel like there’s always something on screen that kept me interested. You’ve got car chases, foot chases, beach football, surfing, sky diving, sky diving without a parachute, Dakota shooting at the sky (thanks to Hot Fuzz for so eloquently showing me this scene already), bank robberies, masks, sex, a crazy surfer party and even a fight with a group of dudes that looked like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and turned out to actually feature Anthony Kiedis of RHCP (go figure).

And, even though Mythbusters told me that, not only couldn’t Johnny Utah jump out of a plane, grab onto Swayze, pull his shoot, hold on REAL tight and not die, but wouldn’t even be able to hold the mid-air conversations, I still loved the climactic scene. Dang that was just cool (I don’t think I can swear on here, so you’ll just have to deal with my lame swear fill-ins). I even thought Swayze was gonna get away in the end and would have been happy with the film ending in Mexico (like I said, he’s freakin’ charismatic), but the last few minutes in Australia give us a cathartic fight between our good guy and oh-so-likable bad guy resulting in his (maybe) death while surfing the biggest wave in 50 years.

If there’s one movie that I’d like to see continued in a comic, it’s this one. If IDW could do a serviceable job with Scarface (and I think they did, assuming you can get past the fact that Tony’s not dead), why not Point Break? What happens to Johnny after he tosses his badge in the ocean? Does Bodhi die? What happens to Lori Petty and Keanu’s relationship? How does jail treat Anthony Kiedis? Does John C. McGinley (Keanu and Busey’s superior) ever relax? What does Tom Sizemore’s DEA agent (IRONY!) do after Johnny accidentally ruins his bust? There’s so MANY questions. I’ll make this public offer, if writers Rick King & W. Peter Iliff don’t want to take a crack at it, I’m game. I’ve got this thing half-way plotted already and I only finished the movie 30 minutes ago. Your move, other guys!