Friday, 29 July 2016

CODE OF HONOUR (2016) Steven Seagal



Back in 1974, the late, great (and much missed) Michael Winner kickstarted the whole 'Vigilante' genre with the seminal classic 'DEATH WISH'. By the time of the third movie in 1985, Charles Bronson was referred to as 'Mr Vigilante' (presumably for postal reasons) But I guess such labelling would be demed 'Transphobic' nowadays?
In 2016 (the rightful heir to Bronsons stoic tough guy persona) Steven Seagal revives the genre...but up's the ante, by being referred to as (I shit thee not) 'The Super Vigilante' (not entirely sure if this is a dig at the current glut of DC/Marvel franchise pics....or merely just the Stout Sensei's ego running into overtime?) But digression aside, CODE OF HONOR has (after a brief stint in about 4 cinemas in Syria) hit VOD/DVD.

Can Seagal still (literally) kick it?....Have I learnt to string together semi-coherent sentences yet?....Read on to have all your fears and doubts confirmed?


A drug deal with two rival gangs ends in a (CGI) bloodbath, when M.I.A Colonel Robert Sikes picks them off from a great distance with a high powered rifle. Clocks get stopped, heads get put to bed, as our cigar-chomping goateed anti-hero casually guns down a multicultural selection of assorted badguys. It's a pretty cool sequence with explosions and shot up cars (but the CGI blood lets it down a little) After dispatching all but two of the criminals, Sikes parasails down (with back projection worthy of an episode of Adam West's 'BATMAN') before knifing one bad guy, and leaving one survivor (presumably to warn others)

(Goatee in motion......Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)

 The police arrive (surprise, surprise...5 minutes later) and notice mysterious Federal agent William Porter (Craig Sheffer) snooping around the crime scene. After a brief dick-measuring contest, Porter works in liaison with the police, without giving too much away of his actual intentions at this point

 ("I don't care if you are Elton John....FREEZE!")

The director realises too much plot/dialogue/exposition may be off-putting to Seagal's fanbase, so we then skip to the obligatory (if not contractually enforceable) 'Strip Club' sequence. Seagal (requiring no doubles in this location) sits there gazing on as a bunch of surgically enhanced 'Ladies' shake their meat to the disco beat. No doubt, the character of Sikes is meant to be thinking of black Op missions in Angola....However Seagal (the thespian) merely lights another stogie and piehawks in silence (and 30 minutes into the movie, and he still hasn't uttered, mumbled or southern drawled a single word yet.....let alone had words dubbed into his mouth) Seagal talked more in HARD TO KILL (and he portrayed a coma patient in that one)


  (The Horror.....The Horror")

Amidst this naked flesh, we are introduced to the character of  Kerri (Helena Mattsson) a Heather Graham lookalike. In keeping with the order of natural selection/misogyny found in these movies, she doesn't actually strip off, and has a backstory and shit. When her child gets ill at School she leaves the strip club early, after warning her fellow worker to watch out for the scary looking guy sat in the back row (Seagal) as apparently he's a lousy "tipper" (I have it on very good authority that Steven Seagal is very generous with Strippers, Sex-Workers, etc.......but that's for another court case, I guess?)

 ("Nice legs....What time do they open?")

With our unlikely heroine out of the club, Sikes averts his gaze from the dancers long enough to notice a gang of scummy criminals sat ahead of him. With little regard for what few innocent patrons are in the club, Sikes exits the bar, and then gives new meaning to the term 'Blow Job' by bombing the shit out of the establishment (tough shit, if you just called into the 'Snake Eyes Strip Club' asking for directions, or a book of matches?)


 (Seagal regretted eating Chilli-Peppers before a fight scene)

Admittedly, it's a pretty cool sequence to see Seagal walk away (as a building explodes in slow-mo behind him) in what I assume (given how shoddy the actual CGI work is in the movie) a real shot done in one take?

  (Every good Fire Engine needs it's Hoes)

Kerri returns to work (with no further mention of her child's illness) and is met by Porter at the crime scene. Porter notices Sikes looming in the background (like Michael Myers in 'HALLOWEEN' ) But our 'Anti-Hero-Super-Vigilante-Colonel-Commander' vanishes 'Like A Ghost' (tm) These vigilante murders have not gone unnoticed by local crime boss 'Romano' (an underused James Russo, clearly paid in cocaine for his appearence here) who senses a pattern, and is keen to Question Kerri (as the only survivor of the Strip Club massacre) He sends his goons to retrieve her.


  (Craig Sheffer celebrated bagging a role in his first, but probably not last 'Seagal' movie)


 Porter decides to come clean about the vigilante to the police, and introduces Sikes in the customary 'Isn't -He-Just-So-Fucking-Cool' monologue (an unwritten law in all Seagal movies) to his bemused colleagues
(Quote:)

"His name is colonel Robert Sikes....He is a Commander of one of the most elite units....His service record is impeccable....His skills at hand-to-hand combat...weapons, firearms, explosives is un-matched. He's trained to blend into any city, any terrain. And he's using those skills and that training to go after gangs or drug dealers, or anyone, who in his mind is threatening the moral fabric....the well being of this country"


 (Nice knife-Rack)

It transpires that whilst Sikes was leading Black Op missions around the globe, his wife and child were accidentally killed in the crossfire of a drive-by-shooting.....Hence his 'Vigilante-ism' The police send out Detective James Peterson (Louis Mandylor) to apprehend Sikes by all means necessary.
Meanwhile, Romano's goons catch up with Kerri at her house, but Porter arrives and goes ape-shit with his knives. Giving chase in an alleyway (one of the many glamorous locations on display, Ladies and Gentlemen) Romano's heavies are just about to get the drop on Porter (who is out of bullets and knives) when up pops Sikes (and at the 45 minute mark) utters his first lines of dialogue. Sikes mumbles some deep mumbo-jumbo about "Saving The World" and "Anonymity" There's a begrudging sense of respect between Master and Pupil, they agree to not kill each other long enough to arrange a second meeting at a nightclub (owned by Romano, no less) later that evening.

(Just say No.......To fake CGI Blood)

With a few hours to kill (not to mention 'Criminals') Sikes takes his brand of justice to a small gathering of scuzzy drug addicts. Oddly enough, he only shoots the male stoners. Leaving one zapped out woman smoking her crack pipe, oblivious to being covered in the brain matter of the dealer that lays dead, alongside her? A bizarre sequence. Vicious, nasty (and even in a movie of this ilk, morally questionable) but lessened slightly by more CGI assisted blood (are squibs so expensive, nowadays?)

 (The lighter side to Steven Seagal)

In an actual act of rare common sense for this kind of movie, Porter actually informs the police about his meeting with Sikes. And goes to meet his ex commander not only wired up, but with a tactical squad nearby to apprehend the 'Super Vigilante'
Sikes, undaunted lights another ciger (giving his erstwhile namesake George Segal a run for his money) and continues to make up for lost dialogue (by not shutting the fuck up about Porters many failings in life)
Namely that Porter had (quote)
"Fucked everything that moved....Drank every drink....Snorted every drug.....Accepted every vice......Foreign And Domestic"
This seems to be the juxtaposition between Sikes and Porter. Sikes had his family cruelly taken away from him....Whereas Porter pissed his family away. For all the mocking of the movie....This is a pretty good sequence, and Seagal actually manages to nail the intensity of the scene.

(Always turn off your flash, whilst taking 'Selfies' in the mirror)

After mucho introspection, Sikes then caasually announces that he's holding not only another detonator, but also a radio scrambler (to prevent the tactical squad from getting the nod) and that Porter is sitting on a timebomb (like quote: "The one we used in Afganistan") which will detonate if Porter leaves the seat. Romano however, is onto the duo in his club, and a gunfight ensues....Requiring Porter to fight off the bad guys whilst remaining seated. Sikes just disappears ("Like-A-Fucking-Ghost" etc)


(Russo surrenders all dignity in his role as Drug Lord Romano)

Romano surrenders and is arrested, and is due to stand trial. However, Sikes blows his head off at a jam-packed (14 person) press conference outside the law courts. Everyone is covered in Further CGI brain matter, and (hopefully) the producers sent Russo packing with his well-earned $20, and directions to the nearest Billy Zane, Albert Pyun, Eric Roberts film-set (whilst that particular afternoon was still young)

(Utah's Parking Laws were getting stricter by the day)

Kerri (and son) move into Porters seedy hotel room (not sure if that's allowed under Utah's 1998 'Hotellier Health & Safety' Regulations?) Regardless, it forces Porter to ditch his bottles of booze, bond with the child, and clean his act up. Meanwhile there's a (frankly pointless) subplot about the Commissioners daughter  getting killed in the nightclub shoot-out. And also a Senator who likes sleeping with girls that are (clearly) 60 years younger than he is?  The police finally manage to locate a file on Sikes (most of it Redacted) which leads them to question if Porter is making the whole thing up, to cover his own vigilante tactics?

(Let's hope they omitted 'MY GIANT' from this dossier?)

And it seems that the Police might actually be onto something, as Porter flees his motel, and finds a trail of dead bodies that Sikes has left in his wake. However, we are now (confusingly) shown all of Sikes previous kills performed by Porter. It seems\ like an interesting concept? Is porter imagination Sikes as a manifestation for his rage? Quite apt, given that Seagal is always referred to as a "Ghost" (or is a dig at the fact that he's never on set enough) For a brief spell it seems as if this eleventh hour 'twist' will result in the first time a Seagal character hasn't actually been in a Seagal movie at all?

(A guy actually older than Seagal get's the love scene in this one?)

However this 'concept' is ditched when Porter gets the drop on Sikes on a rooftop. The two guys shoot the shit, then engage in a pretty cool knife fight. Sikes notices police helicopters closing in, and jumps through a skylight....Leaving the police to think that Porter *IS* the vigilante. Porter evades police fire, and makes down into the building to see if Sikes Survived the fall. Of course Sikes survived the fall.....he's played by Steven Fucking Seagal. Although he does have to remove a shard of glass from his hand (so maybe Seagal is aware of his own omnipotence) But s soon as the glass is removed, both men resume their fight, before Sikes activates another bomb. Porter runs away, but the explosion takes out most of the top floor of the building.....Surely no-one could survive that?

(Never punch a guy with a glass jaw)

The police retrieve one burnt corpse from the wreckage....which is identified as Sikes. Kerri and her son are siting nearby,  and it seems that the youngster has been given a catchers mitt by his mothers "Friend" (which we, the viewer is meant to think was Porter....however the scene is left open ended by not showing either character).....So, who actually survived.....and more importantly....Who actually existed? All in all, it's a pretty enigmatic and ambitious ending to what is an otherwise routine STV action thriller?


("Mommy, shall I wait here, whilst the guy with the goatee shags you in the customary creepy finale?")

CODE OF HONOUR is a really interesting movie. Sure it's low budget, and lacks big set pieces. But all of it's faults (chiefly CGI blood) it manages to spread out it's limited content, thanks to good pacing. It tries to do something different with the Seagal formula. Like 'Bruce' the shark in JAWS, it utilises the inactivity of it's star, by adding a mystery element. It's not a prefect plot-twist, but it's a risk that the likes of (Seagal's usual director) Keoni Waxman rarely take with his star. Apert from the bad CGI, another grumble is the lack of fights. Craig Sheffer (a really underused talent) does the majority of the fight scenes in this one. Seagal seems content to just sit back and pick off his prey with a high powered rifle. He's cool doing it....But had he snapped a few arms, or at very least 'Took-The-Ruckas-To-All-These-Motherfuckas' and bust some aikido on these street punks....this could have a mini-classic?

(Don't ask)

Michael Winnick directs proceedings in a very workmanlike manner. But (after a glut of previous over-complex Seagal flicks) sometimes 'basic' can be a blessing. I love the theme of the Teacher/Student chase. And the fact that they nearly went all 'Twilight-Zone-ish' at the end was a brave attempt to mix it up a little (after the slightly generic 'ABSOLUTION') But good intentions don't always result in good movies, and whilst I enjoyed the movie.....I could see the average punter (clearly expecting UNDER SIEGE 3 with very new release) being a bit bored, or even baffled with this one? For once the plot satisfies....it's the action that underwelms. Maybe if MARVEL were thinking of another Big Screen PUNISHER re-boot, perhaps Seagal could still be nimble enough?

(The polar opposite to FIRE DOWN BELOW)


After waiting what seemed like an eternity in DTV land after ABSOLUTION (2015) Seagal now has FOUR more movies to be released this year. ASIAN CONNECTION has more action, but looks generic. THE PERFECT WEAPON has a sci-fi slant (but looks a little too low budget) KILLING SALAZAR looks decent (but I think Like Goss and Georges St. Pierre will be the main stars of that one....Plus Keoni Waxman is directing) As with END OF A GUN (but the details haven't been verified yet) Another movie CONTRACT TO KILL will probably turn up in 2017 (same with the rumoured Seagal directed 'ATTRITION') So like the proverbial bus....You wait all day for a Seagal....and then four come along at once.

(Even if you had infinity knives....I would punch you up into the air like a kite)

I doubt CODE OF HONOUR will gain Seagal new supporters. But his diehard fanbase should enjoy it, whilst maybe bemoaning the lack of hand-to-broken hand combat. Seagal isn't dubbed in this one, although he is slightly doubled in the long silhouetted shots of the climactic knife fight. Seagal also seems a lot slimmer in this (which is another reason they should have been more action) A few more fight scenes may have lifted it out of the ordinary (or at very least complimented the plot-twist in the final third) The other performances are all ok (no real stinkers) Sheffer is his usual intense (Don Stroud-Looking) self. Russo is good in his few scenes. Mandylor is reassuringly bland and the requisite eye-candy is present and correct.

(More bad CGI blood)

I was chuckling slightly at the end credits at the bizarre 'Special Thanks To' credits, that kick of such plaudits as (quote) "All Those That Rescue Shelter Animals" (which then makes it look s if the subsequent names have all adopted 3 legged cats from their local Pet-Pound) Axeman 'Eddie Van Halen' is one such name on the 'Special Thanks' list....and to be fair, the funky (almost 80's sounding) Guitar track on the closing credits sounds a lot like his handiwork....I wonder if he and Seagal have ever 'jammed' together?


Interesting (ish) Factoid

Seagals character makes a few references to the term 'Foreign And Domestic' throughout the movie.....which was the original title of this movie, back in it's development stage.




Technical Guff

Code Of Honour is brought to you (in the UK) by 'Highfliers Films' on the DVD format only (Bastards....I want it on Blu-Ray) It is rated 18, runs at 106 minutes, and has zero special features (unless you think a choice of listening to the movie in either Dolby Digital Stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 is somehow qualifies as a feature?) It does however contain trailers for the following:

The Runner
D-Day Survivor
Haunting At 1666
Essex Vendetta (which looks really funny and right up my street)
Alien Battlefield
Badge Of Honor

Monday, 18 January 2016

Coming soon - MOB HANDED (2016) From the makers of KILLER BITCH (2010)

Thank the lord....My prayers have been answered.
A sequel (of sorts) to one of my favourite exploitation movies of the 'noughties' KILLER BITCH (2010)
Read my review of KILLER BITCH here



And enjoy the teaser trailer, for what looks like another enjoyable, controversial ride through the criminal underbelly of the UK (with a cast to die for)
Support real British movies (none of that 'Exotic Marigold' shite) made by people with a genuine passion for the medium.



The director, Liam Galvin has assured me that it's due to be released in May?








Friday, 31 July 2015

BEYOND FURY (2016) Please Help Make It Happen


Director Darren Ward began making films in 1989. By 1991 he had made over 12 short films. In 1994 Ward made a short action film called BITTER VENGEANCE which received a 'Highly Commended' judges award at BAVA (British Amateur Video Awards), which were hosted at BAFTA in London. Ward wanted to expand on the characters of- 'Walker', 'Jimmy' & 'Randall' and so Ward based his first feature film SUDDEN FURY around those characters.


SUDDEN FURY (1998) marked the last starring role of the late David Warbeck (star of many Italian horror and action films) and was the beginning of Ward's crime thriller trilogy.  SUDDEN FURY has been released on DVD around the globe and has played at many International film festivals. Ward continued with a multi-award winning short film called NIGHTMARES (Super16, 2004), which featured at the LA International Short Film Festival, with the world premiere being held in Hollywood. NIGHTMARES has also featured on TV, being aired on SKY many times as well as receiving a Silver Remi Award at the Houston World Fest in Fantasy/Horror.


In 2010 Darren Ward's A DAY OF VIOLENCE was released giving audiences one of the most uncompromising and gritty Independent crime films in recent years. ADOV also featured Italian horror legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice (City of the Living Dead, Cannibal Ferox, House on the Edge of the Park) and came complete with a thumping electronic score by Dave Andrews. The film has been presented at many festivals around the world (UK, US, Germany, France, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Canada and many more) and went on to win 6 International awards including Best Feature, Best Special Effects and an honorary mention for the contribution to the genre.

NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO HELP FUND THE LATEST CHAPTER IN THIS TRILOGY

Director Darren Ward is shooting the third chapter in his 'Crime Trilogy' (and a direct sequel to SUDDEN FURY, no less) as we speak. But (as with most genuinelly passionate film-makers) funding is a big setback. Undaunted by this, he has managed to get around 30 minutes 'In The Can' (as they say) but is in need of more funding. Making movies for the fans, sometimes requires likewise help. So please support this unique (unsung) talent by contributing anything you can to:

contactus@giallofilms.com 

Reknowned actor Dan Van Husen has already filmed scenes for what promises to be the most explosive crime thriller to come out of the UK. And more international actors are scheduelled to appear. I shall keep you updated as they are secured (but trust me, it'll be a exploitation movie fans dream come true) and with help from the audience they're created for.....This dream can be realised sooner, than later. So please contribute as much or as little as you can. Thanks for reading, and please fel free to check out the aformention movies (either through my own blog reviews) or by purchasing them from reputable sources.

 Below are some exclusive stills from BEYOND FURY

(Darren Ward directs Dan Van Husen in the upcoming BEYOND FURY)



(Nick Rendell returns as hard-as-nails 'Walker' in BEYOND FURY)


(Lady in danger...a tense moment from BEYOND FURY)
(Down.....But never out. Walker returns in BEYOND FURY)

Please help support this great director, and for further details contact the man himself at:

https://www.facebook.com/darren.ward.5

All donations are appreciated and extra generous donations  may lead to an on-screen 'Thank You' in the finished movie credits


(Better the funds go to Darren Ward....Than another Richard Curtis rom-com-shit-fest, I say)



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

MERCENARY - ABSOLUTION (2015) Steven Seagal


After nearly a two year absence (on my own blog) what better way to return...than with a review for the 'Stout Sensei's' latest (which despite a limited '10 screen' run in the U.S.) went straight to nearest supermarket shelf in the UK.......I've been away for 2 years....Seagal has been away from cinematic lead roles since Half Past Dead (The parallels are there, however flimsy)
Ladies and (the few) Gentleman (out there) I bring you
MERCENARY - ABSOLUTION
(Don't call it a comeback for either one of us...)


The Plot

John Alexander (Steven Seagal) is an off-the-grid government hitman ('The Best') who takes out the garbage that the shadowy organization no longer need. Tired of the endless killing (of which he's 'The Best' at) he seeks redemption for all his sanctioned killings. He needs to readdress the balance of the bloodshed, and perform a good dead to counterbalance the carnage.
Basically, if you haven't fucking figured it out yet.....He's the Mercenary seeking Absolution (He's previously been a Mercenary for plain old JUSTICE in the past) I dare say that his answer-phone message is probably "Hi this is Steven Seagal....I'm not in right now, I'm OUT...either FOR JUSTICE...or A KILL....But the bottom line is I'm OUT OF REACH, right now"


(A Good Man meets a good Mann)


Anyhow, Alexander's sidekick Chi (Byron Mann) accompanies him on 'jobs' (their latest assignment being in 'DTV-Budget-Friendly' Romania) After wiping out some scummy Afghan Terrorist motherfucker, our heroes hold out in a bar, and await a safe exit, through their shadowy 'Handlers' 
Alexanders 'Absolution' comes in the shapely form of Nadia (Adina Stetcu ....who is a step up from the usual generic eye-candy of the DTV genre) Terrified and screaming, it transpires that Nadia (and her sister) have run afoul of sadistic mob Boss (Vinnie Jones) who has a sideline in torturing and murdering women. Nadia has fled his clutches (but her sister has been given the 'Deluxe-Ike-Turner-Workout' by the former footballing thespian)  With his minions in tow, trying to retrieve the girl, Alexander seizes his chance to do the right thing and intervene.
 
 
("You put your left arm in...I pull your left arm out...In...Out...In...Out....And shake it all about")


Both Alexander and Chi beat up the gangsters and flee the scene (with girl in tow) Unbeknownst to them, the girl has has stolen a video camera containing footage of her sisters murder (filmed in Vinnie Jones' mini-porn-snuff-dungeon) However, this sadistic mob boss has shady links with the very Handlers that are safeguarding Alexanders safe passage back to the good old U.S....Making escape from Romania for our 2 heroes, near impossible. Cornered (but never scared) Alexander (and Chi) must take the fight to the bad guys.

(Hitting a cinema near you...Maybe? Lionsgate pull out few stops, in returning Seagal to cinemas)


Review

Whilst lacking the big budget spectacle of earlier movies like On Deadly Ground or Under Siege 2, Absolution succeeds over more recent releases by having a clear narrative (and not much 'filler' plot) If the movie had a bigger budget, then this could have easily held it's own against any action blockbuster blocking up the multiplexes. As it stands, the movie is technically proficient enough for a DTV release (hampered only by limited locations and scaled down set-pieces) Compared to the likes of heavily padded affairs like Black Dawn or Flight Of Fury, the movie is a triumph in it's simplicity. Director Keoni Waxman uses the low budget wisely and gives the fans want they want to see.....Seagal in full-on badass mode. The movie goes from A to B to C, in an efficient manner, ticking all the genre boxes where they count. By now, the audience must be in on the joke, as we watch a succession of bad guys foolish enough to incur the wrath of Seagal (and we must laugh, as he returns their once working limbs to the bad guys, either broken, or not at all) Sometimes it's predictability is comforting. Regardless of it's limited cinematic run...I tend to think the big screen has missed Seagal (and vice-versa)

("Anything George Segal can do...I can do better....I can do anything better than him")


Seagal (looking a little older, but wiser) whispers a lot of his dialogue in his usual world-weary manner. However, given his character's motivations (or lack of them) this performance works in his favour. He seems to have slimmed down a little (since Force Of Execution) and remains imposing in his fight scenes. Co-star Byron Mann compliments Seagal admirably (and performs the more acrobatic fight scenes) If Seagal wishes to take a back-seat in future movies, he could do a lot worse than share centre stage with Byron Mann more often. They have good chemistry together. 


("I'm a little teapot, short and stout...Tip me up, and pour me out")


 Whilst Seagal won't be giving the stunt team of The Raid series sleepless nights, he acquits himself well (for a guy in his 60's) the rapid edits in his fight scenes are not to cover any inadequacies in his skills, but sadly an unfortunate bi-product of  keeping up with the Hollywood 'standard' of fast paced (rapid) action (a big 'fuck you' to Matt Damon and Co. for effectively ruining action-cinema as we know it)   Make no mistake (Like for example, mistakingly using sandpaper instead of toilet paper) Seagal is still fast and furious with his hands (and a few limited kicks) However, given his assassin credentials in the movie, he executes a lot of targets utilizing gunplay (shooting/fighting take a 50/50 split of the action on display here) At his age, size and appearance, Seagal still looks more convincing as a badass than (the worn-out cliché that is) Liam Neeson.


("I a-wrist you in the name of the law")


As with A Good Man, I especially liked the rumble between Seagal and Ron Balicki. There is a sense of mutual respect for each other (an almost swordfighting sense of 'parry') lending an intense calm before the storm build-up to their combat (their fights, being the action highlights of both movies) Vinnie Jones in comparison, gets tossed around like a rag doll (hardly a spoiler, at this stage of the game) which is a shame, but  it's enjoyable to hear Seagal refer to Jones as "Bitch" before and throughout their brief rumble. A little more of the final showdown wouldn't have hurt anyone (apart from Vinnie Jones, that is)


(The executive at Lionsgate that green-lit the cinema release...Was suitably rewarded by his bosses)


As previously mentioned, the plot is straightforward enough, and doesn't contain filler scenes, story or actors (unlike say, Out For A Kill or Shadow Man) Seagal seems purposely 'lethargic' (but never bored) the action is spread out evenly across the running time, and there's nary a dull moment. Seagal is on-screen throughout the movie (no long periods of inactivity, unlike stuff like Force Of Execution) Editing is top notch, and the soundtrack sounds semi-orchestral (and cinema worthy in places) Seagal might have been back as an A list star, had he made more films of *this* standard 10 years ago.

(Producers are hoping that Seagal's 'Gone-To-bed' eyes, might bring in the ladies?)


However, before I go on a full-on Fanboy gush-fest, the movie is not without faults, and as usual it's down to the usual culprit of many modern Seagaldom (namely 'Doubles') The 'body doubles' for Seagal are noticable, but not entirely his fault. I know the 'Stout One' is rarely on set these days, but maybe if Waxman didn't feel the need to film inserts that link all of Seagal's filmed scenes, they wouldn't be so apparent? The bottom line is, I can guess that Seagal gets into a car...I don't need to see a badly shot 'double' doing such (I don't need to see ANYONE do such trivial stuff) I'd also like to semi-gripe that however brutal the fight scenes are, Seagal (who surely possesses a huge repertoire of moves and techniques) could do with mixing it up a little from his usual punch, chop, kick combos of his recent movies. I know these kinds of movies have brief shooting periods, but a little more fight coreography wouldn't go amiss.


("If my ponytail has to go......so does yours!")


Purportedly part of a trilogy of 'Mr Alexander' movies (following on from Force Of Execution and A Good Man) Despite the character name staying the same....The traits (or timelines) couldn't be any different (so I don't think it's panned out as the three-part saga that director Keoni Waxman had envisioned?)

(The FX budget for Marvels 'HULK MEETS SHE-HULK' movie had shrunk considerably)


Mercenary - Absolution (whilst not a world beater) is action packed (and coherent) enough to qualify as an above average DTV movie. It might have worked on the big screen, but a lack of big budget CGI spectacle and limited location work, may have left mainstream audiences checking their watches (and maybe even their calendar's, to check it wasn't 1994 again?) As it stands, it's an old school biff em' up, with no pretensions to be anything else. It's not Out For Justice, nor should we expect it to be. Seagal is still the 'Baddest Man On Planet Action'...but would/could benefit from a shift in gear (and a change in directors and crew) Whilst hardly likely (at this stage in the game) to win any new converts....longtime fans (who have endured some really shitty movies in the past) should enjoy the movie on it's own limited terms. I enjoyed it immensely (because I'm a pervert) but would like to see something a little different with (the upcoming) Code Of Honour (hopefuly a change in director might lead to a change in direction?)


(Here's a poster I created in the build-up to this movies release)

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Opened up my own DVD shop!


 First of all....HAPPY CHRISTMAS to anyone reading this.

Apologies for not posting in nearly 6 months, but staying true to my love of 'Straight-To-DVD' movies....I've only gone and opened up my own shop (chock full of the bastards) called:
MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES


The shop is now in it's 7th week, and whilst I'll never be a millionaire (most profit goes back into re-stock) I seem to be making a living, buying and selling stuff that I have a keen interest in. The icing on the cake, is that it's directly over the road from where I live.

(I reckon I drink around 20-25 cups of coffee per day, sat in my shop?)


Of course, I have to bite my lip on several occasions with straight-talking (i.e, rude) customers (expecting latest releases for £2-£3) but answering to no-one other than the tax-man, and opening and closing whenever I feel like it.....more than make up for a few idiot customers.


Even on slow days, I have my trusty portable DVD player, and now that I've exhausted my entire 'Rumpole Of The Bailey' collection (see pic above) I now have more time to watch cruddy B-movies (which I intend to start reviewing again in the coming weeks)




The paintings you can see in the background, were done by my girlfriend and are also available for sale in the shop (hey, always look after the ones you love, I say)

Hopefuly, I can make a semi-comfortable living out of something I love?




I have at least 35 Seagal movies in the action selection alone


Thursday, 5 April 2012

DIRECT HIT (1994) William Forsyth



The Blurb On The Box:

"John Hatch (WILLIAM FORSYTH - The Untouchables, The Waterdance, Out For Justice) is a professional assassin working for the CIA chief (GEORGE SEGAL - A Touch Of Class, Where's Poppa?)
He's a killer - One of the best - But he's not proud of it and wants to retire. His last assignment seems like an easy one: Remove Savannah Miles (JO CHAMPA - Top internation model/actress, Little Buddha, Out For Justice) a young woman who is supposedly bribing a U.S senator (JOHN APERA - New Jack City, The Godfather, television series Another World)
When he learns she is nothing but a pawn in a much larger game, Hatch tries to redeem his own life by protecting hers...putting himself in the line of fire. Pursued by a government-trained mercenary (RICHARD NORTON - Cyber Tracker, Lady Dragon, China O'Brien I & II) and the police. Hatch has use every trick he's ever learned to keep himself and Savannah alive"




The Truth Of The Matter:

Saw this when it first hit the shelves, and throughly enjoyed it. Was a wee bit apprehensive on re-watching it again, but it turns out this nifty little PM thriller still kept me hooked (despite it's now obvious b-movie trappings, and generic storyline) it's saving crace, is seeing (eternal 'cinematic-bridesmaid') William Forsythe take centre-stage for a change, in a role that would usually taken up by some handsome muscle-man type. Believe me William Forsythe is neither muscular or handsome (except maybe in his wifes eyes?) But his acting chops, and all-round bad-assery, make for an interesting casting choice. Rounding off the ensemble, is George Segal (playing pretty much the loveable cigar-smoking asshole, he always plays) Richard Norton (more on him later) and Jo Champa (who, according to the blurb is a "internation" model....whatever the fuck that is?)


(One for dem lady-folk)

Pic opens with wise-ass rookie, waxing lyrical about the life of a hitman, the night before his first big job. He is to be teamed up on this 'hit' with seasoned pro (and yep, you guessed it....'The Best') John Hatch (Forsythe) and their target are four heads of the biggest crime families under one roof at the same meet-up (which turns out to be an arms trade, replete with a cheesy QVC style sales pitch that would have Ricky Roma wretching)



The hit doesn't go to plan (rather fucking obvious, given that the 'targets' are packing more 'heat' than the hit-men) and the loudmouthed rookie is soon taken out (but not before blowing himself up) leaving Hatch to engage in a car-chase (c'mon, this is PM after all?) against the one remaining mobster (who's limosine driver Carl, has teeth could give Austin Powers a run for his money) The obligatory (and possibly, borrowed stock-footage) car(nage) ensures, With Hatch eventually getting his man (with a little help from a fire-truck)

(Get to the Choppers!..........Carl and his snarl)

Back at HQ, Hatch tells his shadowy C.I.A. boss, Tronson (Segal) that he 'Wants-Out' (tm) but is asked to do 'One Last Job' and take-out Savannah Miles, a two-bit nobody, who is linked in a blackmail case against (corrupt) presidential candidate Terry Daniels (John Aprea.) Hatch refuses, but Tronson glibly retorts "She's just some low-life blackmailing slut...Do her on the way home for Christs sake?" whilst also threatening not to pay our hero for the last job. Hatch agrees, and sets out to find the woman.

("This time, I'm gonna play a loveable cigar-smoking asshole" thought George)

Hatch soon finds Savannah (working unsuccessfuly) at a local titty-bar, to which the displeased owner tells our shy heroine that "No-one gives a shit about dancing...they wanna see 'Bush' you understand?" forcing Hatch to not only kick the shit out him (and most of the bar) but to also realise that this woman may not be the slutty blackmailer than Tronson is making out?

(Top internation model?)

Following Savannah home, Hatch baulks at killing her alongside her young daughter as they both sleep, and upon further investigation, he uncovers that she is about to lose custody of said daughter to her estranged husband. Overhearing her plight in a confessional booth, Hatch tells Tronson that Savannah is not the blackmailer, and wants no part in her murder. Tronson (smokes more cigars) looks pissed off, and puts another hitman on the case.

(An always welcome...but criminally wasted...Richard Norton)

Drowning his sorrows in a bar, Hatch is confronted by 'work-collegue' Rogers (Norton) who taunts our hero with "Lost your balls, huh?" and "You can't turn your targets into people" before boasting he he now has the task of taking out Savannah. Hatch meanwhile, does any any self-respecting murderer would do, and goes to visit his father up in Rocky-mountain Nowheresville. Racked with guilt and realising that 'Family' matters (helped further by an arty-farty dream sequence) forces Hatch into "Doing something he's gotta' do" by heading back home and saving Savannah from the murderous clutches of Rogers.

Upon saving her from Rogers initial assasination attempt, Hatch and Savannah flee the scene. It transpires that her estranged sleaze-ball husband is behind the blackmail, and took the pictures over a decade ago at a drug-fuelled party the senator was at. They must race to find the daughter, not only evading Tronson, Rogers and the rest of the hit-men, but also (thanks to the political 'pull' of Senator Daniels) the police force


(The usual PM car-nage)

Without spoiling things further (like you'd need to be a fucking scientist to figure it out?) a lot of bad guys get shot, wrongs are righted, and even our portly hero gets his 'Fuck-On'.

Forsythe still has the same crazy look usually reserved for his bad-guy roles...which kind of makes sense, because all that killing would probably take it's toll on your weight and general appearence. And with a haircut from hell (think 'Three Stooges' Moe) mixed with 90's baggy fitting jackets, Forsythe is anything but the stereotypical 'stylish' hollywood assassin.

(Keeping the spirit of Star Strek alive, with nonsensical 'random flashing lights in a cardboard box' technology)

And just before you think it's about time me and this movie got a hotel room, let me tell you the one aspect that really pissed me off.. It wasn't the production values, the cheesy synth score, or the "Oh-Fuck-It" attitude in the movies final third.....it was this:

RICHARD NORTON DOESN'T FUCKING FIGHT!

I mean c'mon guys. This is Richard Norton. The guy is a total badass. You've even got Art Comancho onboard, so what in Gods-blue-and-green-misery-orb went wrong with the fight scenes? No offence to Mr Norton (he's quite a good actor) but without throwing a single punch, there was little point in him being in this movie (Christ-on-a-stick, even the Lamentable ROAD HOUSE 2, had him kick a little ass...and that was made 10+ years after DIRECT HIT?) So I just thought this paragraph may serve as a warning to any Norton fans out there.

Overall, DIRECT HIT gets some things right (in terms of casting and plot depth) but lacks the really bat-shit crazy action set pieces, that PM do so well. Forsythe manages a bit of 'Rex-Kwan-Do' on a few bad guys, but mostly resorts to gunfighting (or 'Heroic-Bloodshed', to coin a 90's phrase) Had it not been for a fuzzy final third (which looked like out-takes from the opening shoot-out from NEMESIS) this could have been a stone-cold classic. The lack of Norton-Fu, makes it recommended to bad movie perverts (like myself) and PM completists. Good...but no cigar (probably because George Segal smoked them all as part of his salary?)


Classic Quote:

Hatch: "I guess I am what I am...a cold blooded murderer"
(Probably the second most unlikeliest chat-up line that ever led to an immediate love-sequence, since Shark Attack III?)


Trivia:

This movie reunites three thespians from Out For Justice....two of them are obvious, but can you guess the third?