On this week’s episode, I’m running down a quintet of action movies that feel like comic book movies, but without existing source material. I had a great time putting this list together and a lot of fun watching these movies. I hope you do too!
Happy New Year everyone. I decided to celebrate by compiling a series of lists celebrating my favorite films and shows of 2017. Sounds like pretty standard stuff, right? Yup, totally. However, these lists will include not just new films from last year, but new-to-me ones that I enjoyed. This one celebrates the glory of big screen blockbusters, most of which I saw on the small screen because, you know, kids.
First off, I’d just like to reiterate how much I enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014) and San Andreas (2015) from director Gary Peyton. I had a great time watching both of those movies earlier this year and highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking for big budget disaster fare. I also had a silly amount of fun watching Vin Diesel in 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter helmed by Breck Eisner. I think this will make a great weekend movie tune-in type of movie.
It’s been way too long since I’ve watched a new Jason Statham movie. While flipping through some of the movies on Epix On Demand, I saw Wild Card and decided to remedy that! This one’s directed by Simon West who also did The Mechanic with Statham as well as Expendables 2. The script comes from the legend William Goldman who had written the original book as well as the previous film incarnation, the 1986 film Heat starring Burt Reynolds. If that’s not enough to get you to watch a revenge film, I don’t know what is. Continue reading Friday Fisticuffs: Wild Card (2015)
This week’s biggest release is none other than Iron Man 3 (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy), the latest Marvel Studios film to hit home video complete with all kinds of special features for you to comb through until Thor: The Dark World comes out.
On the other side of the comic book movie side of the fence, Warner Bros. unleashed their The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray] which includes Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises as well as plenty of previously unseen special features.
What are the odds that two Explosions Are Rad favorites not only have straight to video movies debuting on the same day, but also feature the same word in both titles? Apparently pretty good as Jason Statham’s latest Redemption (also known as Hummingbird in the UK) dropped today…
As did Dolph Lundgren’s clunkily titled Blood of Redemption. This one also stars Billie Zane and sometimes-Statham collaborator Vinnie Jones. So many connections!
Dollman starring Tim Thomerson and directed by Albert Pyun (Cyborg) isn’t exactly a lost classic, but we’d definitely be interested in checking out the recently released Blu-ray from Full Moon.
War movie buffs will jazzed to hear that Shout and Timeless Media have Movies 4 You – Timeless Military Film Collection available now. The set includes Hell Raiders, Lost Battalion, Tank Battalion and Go For Broke.
Jason Statham faces off against James Franco and his drug army in Homefront, an adaptation of Chuck Logan’s novel of the same name penned by Sylvester Stallone. Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder also star in the film which opens on November 27th.
Just yesterday we showed you the first image from the Sylvester Stallone/Robert De Niro boxing comedy Grudge Match and now you can check out the trailer from the flick. Fun fact: the director pieced together training footage of Stallone from Rocky and De Niro from Raging Bull to create the flashback boxing matches! The movie opens on December 25th.
Machinima announced that the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II will kick off on the site on September 26th and released this all new trailer for the web series.
Two of the greatest martial artists on film will be teaming up to star in Fast & Furious 7. We’ve known for a while now that Jason Statham will play the bad guy, but now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, we learned that Thai ass kicker Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak, The Protector) will be in the cast.
The film finds Statham’s Ian Shaw seeking revenge against the crew for his brother played by Luke Evans in the previous film. Series stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker will return along with relative newcomer Dwayne Johnson. Meanwhile, actual fighter Ronda Rousey is in talks to join the project along with Tyrese Gibson who recently snapped a photo with director James Wan in front of the film’s first poster.
This will be Jaa’s first U.S. film. A fan of the Fast & Furious movies, Jaa said, “There is no better film to be involved in for a first U.S. studio production.” He went on to say that, regardless of whether he actually fights Diesel or Johnson on camera, he’s excited about the project. “Having a chance to work with Vin Diesel and The Rock already makes me a winner.”
The Explosions Are Rad crew have been fans of Jaa since we stumbled upon The Protector several years back. He brings an intensity and realism to his action scenes that are hard to match (see below for what it might look like for him to fight a guy like Johnson). Bringing some of that raw physicality to the chase and heist-centric franchise will be pretty interesting. However, if Jaa doesn’t fight Statham on screen, it will be a hugely wasted opportunity. Make it happen Wan!
Fast & Furious 7 hits on July 11, 2014.
Wanna know what’s really up with The Expendables 3? Check out the official press release from LionsGate and Millennium Films:
LIONSGATE AND MILLENNIUM FILMS COMMENCE
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY ON ‘THE EXPENDABLES 3
Lionsgate Will Distribute Action Thriller on August 15, 2014 in North America and the UK
SANTA MONICA, CA (August 19, 2013) – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) and Millennium Films will begin principal photography today on THE EXPENDABLES 3, the third installment of THE EXPENDABLES action-thriller franchise, with production shooting on location in Bulgaria and at Nu Boyana Studios in Sofia.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 will feature Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to their roles in the first two films with Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford joining the all-star cast along with Kellan Lutz, MMA star Ronda Rousey, welterweight boxing champion Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell.
Patrick Hughes (RED HILL) will direct the film, with veteran Dan Bradley (The BOURNE franchise; MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) directing the second unit. THE EXPENDABLES 3 is written by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt, who previously teamed on OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, and Sylvester Stallone. Avi Lerner, Kevin King-Templeton, Danny Lerner and Les Weldon are producing THE EXPENDABLES 3. Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson and John Thompson are executive producing. Lionsgate will release THE EXPENDABLES 3 in North America and the UK on August 15, 2014.
In THE EXPENDABLES 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.
The production will be overseen by Lionsgate’s Jason Constantine and Eda Kowan.
The first two installments of THE EXPENDABLES have grossed nearly $600 million in combined global box office.
It’s cool to finally have a story for the second sequel in the franchise. Note that a few names have been left out of the release like Jackie Chan, Nic Cage, Milla Jovovich and Mickey Rourke. It’s possible those roles just couldn’t be worked out or that they’re being held in reserve for a later announcement.
We here at Explosions Are Rad are big fans of the mash-up action-fests better known as The Expendables movies. The brainchild of Sylvester Stallone, the films bring together some of the best and brightest action stars of all time together offering explosions, fight scenes and gunplay worth the price of admission alone.
If you’re a fan of the franchise, you really need to follow Stallone on Twitter (he’s @TheSlyStallone). The legendary action star took to social media today to not only announce that Bruce Willis won’t return for The Expendables 3, but also that he’ll be replaced by Harrison Ford. “WILLIS OUT… HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!”
He followed that up with what seems like a slam against Willis who appeared as Mr. Church in the first two Expendables movies. “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE”
Willis’ Mr. Church played an important role in both films. In the first, he hired the team to invade Valena and in the second he uses their failure in the first movie as leverage to send them out to get a device that winds up putting them in direct opposition to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Vilain. He even got in on the action alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the second film. Will Ford do the same in 3? We sure hope so.
Last month, Stallone also said via Twitter that the new film, directed by Red Hill‘s Patrick Hughes, will feature real life fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz as well. Hopefully, they fall into Randy Couture territory and turn out to be super watchable on screen. The film is also said to star Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Jackie Chan, Kellan Lutz, Milla Jovovich, Wesley Snipes and many more.
I’m a big fan of Jason Statham. Not only can this guy rumble with the best action stars in the business (as we’ve seen in the Expendables flicks), but he’s also got a versatility that allows him to work in all kinds of action sub-genres. There’s the high octane craziness of the Crank and Transporter movies, more low key outings like The Bank Job and even a brief foray into fantasy action with Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King (the only film of Statham’s I haven’t been able to finish).
Parker fits somewhere in the crime/revenge arena as Statham plays the title character, a thief who gets screwed out of his cut on a job by Melander (Michael Chiklis) and their crew. Left for dead, Statham does who he does best: gets better. After healing up from a gunshot wound, Parker goes on a crusade to get his money back and a little revenge along the way.
If that character sounds familiar, it’s because Parker has had quite the life in fiction. He started out as a character in novels written by Richard Stark (actually Donald Westlake) back in 1962’s The Hunter. In addition to appearing in 24 novels as a hard nosed criminal who gets what he wants no matter what, Parker made the leap to film in 1966’s Made in USA. Other notable adaptations include Point Blank from 1967 starring Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson’s appearance as the character in 1999’s Payback. As it happens, 2013’s Parker is the first film to actually use the character’s name, the others changed it for various reasons. Darwyn Cooke has also adapted some of the books as graphic novels which have proven very popular and won several awards in the field.
Even though he’s been around a long time, I’m not actually very familiar with the character of Parker. I’ve never read the books or the graphic novels, so my only exposure is the one time I saw Payback soon after it came out. This was before Mel Gibson went crazy and it was still okay to like him. I dug that movie because his character — Porter — was so single minded. He had been similarly betrayed and wanted a very specific amount of money back, no more and certainly no less.
That aspect of the character came through with Statham’s interpretation of Parker in this film directed by Taylor Hackford (Proof Of Life), though they made him a bit softer. He’s got a girlfriend who he isn’t too bad too and he’s fairly nice to the down-on-her-luck real estate agent played by Jennifer Lopez. Even though he does still use her as a pawn in his game, he’s not a bastard about it. This isn’t a criticism, just something that might not sit well with Parker Purists.
My actual criticism of this movie is that it doesn’t add much to the crime-revenge drama. You get scenes of betrayal and revenge for sure and the opening heist set at the Ohio State Fair was fun, but this movie felt pretty been-there-done-that. There are fun highlights though. Statham throws down a few times, though this isn’t really a fighting movie. He also puts on a ridiculous Texan accent that’s supposed to fool Jennifer Lopez’s character.
Far from his best efforts, Statham still brings this boring and overly complicated script up from where it wold have been with a less dynamic actor. He does the best with what he’s got, but it’s not a whole lot.
I think I just fell in love with a movie and it’s called Safe. Of course, being a huge Jason Statham fan, I wanted to check this flick out with a quickness after seeing it had been added to Netflix Instant. And, as it turns out, it might actually be the quintessential Statham movie. Not only does it include the kind of ass-kickery you’ve come to expect from franchises like Crank and The Transporter, but it’s also got some pretty sick driving, gun play and the dramatic gravitas I think Statham brings to every role, but is more well-featured in films like The Bank Job, War and even Blitz. I fully believe that Statham is a really fantastic actor who also happens to be awesome at kicking dudes in the face, so the latter wins out over the former. Safe happens to be the the kind of film that lets him show off his many facets.
This time around, Statham plays a one-time cop turned cage fighter who doesn’t take a fall when he’s supposed to and winds up peeving off the Russian mob. They kill his wife and tell him he better go on the run, but add that they’ll be watching and will kill anyone who’s even remotely nice to him, a threat they make good on. Meanwhile, there’s a young girl named Mei in China who’s super good at math and winds up getting kidnapped by the mob. The mob boss, played of course by James Hong, sent her over to the States because her memory doesn’t leave a trace like a computer would. She gets thrown into this crazy gangster world which is not easy on her. The Russian mob finds out about her and starts a war with the Chinese to get her and whatever secrets her brain holds. As it happens, Statham meets Wei in the subway and decides to keep her safe.
When I heard that Safe was about Statham protecting a kid, I worried that it would be pretty boring, like one of those awful levels in a video game where you have to constantly watch out for some useless person, but it was actually a lot more interesting than that. When he tells her to hide, she actually does! When he tells her to run, she runs. It felt like a much more realistic take on the idea than you tend to see in these kinds of things.
And the story’s pretty solid. In addition to all the players I’ve mentioned, you’ve also got a group of dirty cops in play. Statham used to work with them, but didn’t want to be dirty himself so he tried to do the right thing which only lost him his job. As we discover from the mayor, though, Statham was brought in in the wake of 9-11 to be a kind of under the radar super cop who would take care of NYC’s more nefarious elements. I thought that was a cool little touch, something I didn’t expect. While all this is going on and Statham does his best to take down the various mob factions, he runs into a guy who had, basically, the same super cop job as him. I’ll be honest, I was hoping for a real drop down drag out fight between them, but what wound up happening felt a lot more real.
Like I said above, this movie lets Statham do everything he’s good at while still keeping everything grounded. This isn’t Commando or something where emotions rarely come into play. Take the scene where he comes home to find his wife dead, other filmmakers would have had him immediately get into a fight, but instead he’s devastated by what he just discovered and basically gives them the opportunity to kill him. By bobbing when you expect it to weave, Safe offers a good deal of surprises for action movies fans while still offering plenty in the way of hand to hand combat, shoot outs and chase scenes.
I did a little looking into director Boaz Yakin’s filmography and saw a couple interesting bits. First off, he also directed Remember The Titans, which is a pretty great movie if memory serves. Before that he was a writer though, penning the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie, the Charlie Sheen/Clint Eastwood joint The Rookie and also From Dusk Til Dawn 2, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Prince Of Persia, a pretty ecclectic group to say the least!