Saturday, 26 February 2011

DEATH WARRIOR (2009) Hector Echavarria

With the most generic title since Attack Force, DEATH WARRIOR is a nifty little MMA flick, written by and starring Hector Echavarria. The movie combines elements from CRANK, SAW (even the UK's own KILLER BITCH or Middlesbrough Lensed THE TOURNAMENT)

(Professor Joe Butcher looked on.....)

Hector Echavarria plays Reinero, world champion MMA fighter (and Wayne Newton/Tony Anthony lookalike) who (still at the top of his game) is looking forward to a much-hyped fight between himself and (his secret buddy) Wolf (played by piss poor B A Baracus) Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. Immediately, we see that beyond the tough talk of the two men...they are in fact good friends, and merely talk shit to sell the fights (wow, already making 'dirty trick' movies about a relatively new sport) Fight promoter Russell, Reinero's wife kira, plus best friend (lantern chinned) Andre (and his sluttish sister, Sophia) look on. Life (it seems) can get no better for the champ and those around him....So far, so humdrum.

("You want a rose, an anchor......Or 'Mother'?)

Until one night, following a bout of (soft core, body doubled) rumpo with his missus, Reinero and wife are attacked by a mysterious swat team, and forced at gunpoint to listen to the sub-par Pacino impression given by criminal mastermind, Ivan (Nick Mancuso, clearly a long way from UNDER SIEGE, and seemingly coked up to the nines) who then injects Kira with a slow acting poison, and forces Reinero to fight in secretly filmed online death matches with other fighters in the same predicament, in reward for his wife's antidote. Reinero is knocked unconscious (requiring three pistol whips to the head, hard bastard that he is)

(Look ma.....No glands!)

Upon waking up, Reinero assures his wife that he'll get to the bottom of this, and attends his first meet up with (surprise, sur-fucking-prise) Wolf, and the two desperate men must fight it out to the death. Some 'Sonny Chiba' x-ray shots later, Wolf is dead and Reinero is even more pissed off...and what's worse, he thinks one of his friends may be working in cahoots with Ivan (with suspects and red herrings aplenty like these, it's a shame that Agatha Christie isn't around to rent this movie out, and enjoy the homage to her craft)

(One down...Next stop Bradley Coopers house!)

Reinero, gets into several other scrapes with several other fighters, before putting two and two together, and figuring out the bad guy...But not until we've been treat to several dozen 'avid fart' moments of sped up traffic, nighttime Aeriel shots, Silicone enhanced bimbos and the sort of hammy overacting by Nick Mancuso, that would have Billy Drago wincing in his bodyguard encrusted mansion.

(Down a bit, Nick)

Much more of the above ensues before a final online Mano-O-Mano between Reinero and (longtime buddy) Andre is staged. With Reinero's wife locked up in Ivan's palace (under constant threat of rape), and Andre's sister wearing an explosive necklace...both guys must fight to the death, but (with so much at respective stake) who will survive (here's a fucking clue...not Andre!)

(Drugs are for mugs, and crack is indeed...whack!)

And just when you think this movie with all it's elaborate SAW-like torture devices and chained fighting contraptions couldn't afford the bus fare from 'Insane St' to 'Ludicrous-ville' ends with MMA champ Reinero squaring off with (63 year old) Ivan, in a sword fight with the online cameras still rolling.

(Death Warrior meets Crystal Meth Warrior)

Torn between treating this movie with the resent it (probably) deserves, yet loving the high-fat 'cheese' content, it did keep me thinking throughout the movie. Although Hector Echavarria is the obvious hero of the movie, none of his opponents were genuine bad guys (as they all were blackmailed into this, as he was) so the (sub-par) 'linkin Park' soundtrack throughout the rumbles felt inappropriate (as did the 'Let's-see-what-bone-has-been-broken-here' CGI shots) But maybe I'm thinking too much about it.

(Reinero autographs tits, as his unimpressed wife looks on)

Hector Echavarria has that sort of Seagal-like arrogance to his character (i.e, his hair is bit iffy, and in between fights, everyone talks about great he is) But he adds that extra level of douche-ness, bye actually autographing two bimbos chesticles, right in front of his wife (who then gives him a night of red-hot 'in-out'....and also obliges him later on in the movie, despite being at deaths door)

(A briefly glimpsed shot of what i can only assume to be, an Arab gentleman?)

As previously mentioned, highlight of the movie is Nick Mancuso, who certainly earns the $40 they paid him to star in the movie. Not content with the wild eyes, he goes on full-out Pacino mode on several occasions (leading to some cracking dialogue) I'd recommend that he never switch dealers, and keep giving scenery-chewing performances like this one, in many more movies to come.

(It's not THAT sort of movie, folks!)

DEATH WARRIOR has a little more going for it than most MMA movies of recent. It's melding of genres, and a few elaborate scenarios set it apart from routine stuff (for example STREET WARRIOR or CIRCLE OF PAIN) And if Hector Echavarria is wooden, then Nick Mancuso adds the required polish (i.e, general shouting, and 'I-Don't-Give-A-Fuckness') to bring about a shine to proceedings.

(Nick Mancuso demmands payment in cocaine)

The big question is....Do i keep this movie, or stick it on my DVD stall?

(As do 'We'...........the audience)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

My Seagal 'Congratulatory' Mix

I've recently uploaded a few of my songs/mixes on Youtube, and this is probably the best place to showcase this one (replete with 'first timer' style slideshows) the mixes are rather lame, but contain most of the best "how good is he" moments from Seagal movies...Enjoy

BORN TO RAISE HELL (2010) Steven Seagal

Wow.....two Seagal reviews in one day (I must be on PCP!)

BORN TO RAISE HELL crept into the UK on december 27th 2010. Whilst hardly a fitting 'step forward' after MACHETE got the 'Stout Sensei' back on the big screen, it has a few points of interest, to satisfy the die-hards.

Seagal plays special tactical squad leader 'Bobby' (surnames not needed)who heads up an 'International Drug Task Force', that (for budgetary reasons is currently located in Bulgaria) The film opens with getting the drop on some arms dealers, leading to a brutal shoot out in a bar. For the many faults I'm about to point out about this movie, let me take this opportunity to point out that Seagal is badass as fuck in this one (sample dialogue "This shotgun is my warrant bitch")
The titles roll and we are treat to images of money counting machines, lap dancers and all the other 'pleasantries' associated with the middle east.

We are treat to a voice-over (that's supposed to be Seagal...but clearly isn't) who informs us (rather modestly) that the squad is headed only by the "top narcotic cops" (i.e, him...because he's there to replace a friend who was killed on duty) Bobby swears to find the killers. And about 5 minutes into things, we also get the 'nagging girlfriend on the phone' scenario (of course she's almost 40 years younger) and after calming her down, Bobby hangs up and remarks "Believe 'Dat Shit" (as we've all done)

We are then treat to a pleasant scene involving a 'home invasion' by a gang of Russian criminals, lead by the sadistic Costel (played by Darren Sahlavi) whose M.O. is to break in, kill the husbands and rape the wives. More 'Avid Fart' nonsense ensues, leading to Bobby and his task force getting he drop on some other criminal/dealer types. For a lesser sentence, one of the detained crooks (Bruce) agrees to go undercover and rat out even bigger criminals, like the old mob boss Dimitri, who plays chess in the park or the 'home-invasion rapist' Costel, who turns out to be another powerful kingpin (guess the break ins, murder and rapes, just ease the tension somewhat?)

(Voltage Pictures were accused of 'Subliminal-Advertising' in their movies)

Bruce is wired up, and attempts to frame Dimitri, whilst Bobby and Steve listen in, parked in a nearby van. They are soon made by Dimitri's bodyguards and Bobby gets out, knocking several shades of shite out of one and all.

(Flipping hell)

Meanwhile the Dimitri leads a family life in his huge mansion (replete with drug laboratory and workers in the basement) Seagal pulls over Dimitri and arrests him. Later that evening, Bobby attempts to have a quiet meal with his girlfriend...but oh no, more wrists, arms and legs to be broken. Upon beating three of Dimitri's guys senseless, Bobby remarks to his wife "See why i hate eating out"

(This Bruce isn't 'Boss')

Dimitri gets bailed, Bruce is shot in the head for his treachery, and Bobby indulges in (another Seagal trademark) 'The Clothed Lovemaking Scene With The Younger Girl'

("I said full fat milk!")

We cut to Dimitri and having a major fallout with Costel...leading to more 'avid fart' shots of topless dancers, sped up angles and European looking cars. Costel decides to do his whole 'house call' act on Dimitri's family, resulting in his wife being murdered, and a war between the two crime lords well and truly up and running.

Costel attempts to flee the scene, but is confronted by Bobby and Steve, resulting in a chase, a shootout, leading to Steve's death. With two friends dead in the line of duty, Bobby swears revenge, and even teams up with Dimitri to bring Costel to justice.

("How dare you have the same colour jacket as I?")

If my review seems a little disjointed, it's only because the plot to this one is all over the place. Despite the fact, that this is a by-the-numbers Seagal effort (nowhere near as good as A DANGEROUS MAN, URBAN JUSTICE or DRIVEN TO KILL) it does have a few interesting points, though. The plot (however slim) has parallels to early 70's Italian 'Polizia' movies (in that it shows the Law teaming up with the lesser evils to bring down the greater ones) and the actor playing Dimitri is quite good, and Darren Sahlavi is a name to watch out for (shame his rumble with Seagal was so one-sided)

Seagal adds real police procedures to the 'raid' and 'arrest' sequences (probably picked up from his stint as a real life deputy) A mixed bag for sure, but not without interest....but a step back from A DANGEROUS MAN. The one good thing about a less than memorable Seagal movie, is in about 6 months time, you'll barely remember a thing about it (thus, it'll be like watching a new movie again) and chances are,you'll either see something you didn't notice before, or it'll just plain grow on you. Either way, it's far from the turkey it could have been, but could have been so much better better (especially since Seagal wrote the script) I suppose it's A DANGEROUS MAN's fault, for being so good

("Oops...My bad")

Classic Dialogue:

"Midgets are a little should never be" (Remarks Dimitri to Costel, during a light pay-off)

"Trust is not one of my more spectacular attributes" (Bobby modestly informs Bruce)

"Only a brilliant Strategist, cold have beaten me in one move" (says Dimitri to Bobby, after only one exchange in chess)

A DANGEROUS MAN (2009) Steven Seagal

In 2007 Seagal bounced back (after the ropey FLIGHT OF FURY) with the majestic URBAN JUSTICE. He then followed it up with PISTOL WHIPPED...before slumping again with (the interesting misfire) AGAINST THE DARK and the (Michael J Fox edited) KILLSWITCH. It looked like a clear case of 'two-on'/'two off' for the stout sensei. But then along came THE KEEPER and restored a bit of credibility. Could Seagals next movie 'A DANGEROUS MAN' stick to the equilibrium of the 'two on/two off' system?

("How dare you mug my wife, with hair like that!")

Seagal stars as Shane Daniels (replete with native indian patchwork jacket) and the movie kicks straight into action, as we see Daniels defend his wife from a car-jacker (within the first 60 seconds) after beating him up a little, Shane gives chase after the crook. Skip forward to the next day, and the car-jacker is found dead (not to mention, brutally mutilated) and Shane (given his 'special forces history' tm) is number one suspect (and therefore under impartial US law.... he's imprisoned for the murder)

Cue the opening titles, and i must say they're pretty stylish for a DTV release.

Don't go expecting any HALF PAST DEAD 3 here folks, because the clock spins forward about 52, 560 hours (i.e, six years) and Shane (still incarcerated) receives one of those 'Dear John' letters from his wife (ungrateful bitch)

(Steven was always last in line for the prison toilet)

And speaking of bad timing (which we weren't, but I'm fresh out of cliché's) it turns out that evidence is found, which proves that Daniels didn't murder the carjacker, and he's released (although understandably 'pissed') Now, this being a Steven Seagal movie, do you think his next step will be to:

A) Track down his wife, and win back her heart?

B) Bring back rock music to a town (led by John Lithgow) that had previously banned it?

C) Kick some fucking ass?

(Answers on a £50 note, to the usual address)

Anyhow, whilst this is going on, a gang of Chinese crooks are smuggling immigrants into the U.S, and they take one special refugee aside (more on that later)

Daniels now released calls into a liquor store, and is soon back in trouble, when two (foolish) hoods try to rob him. Despite pleading with them to leave him alone, before he (quote) "Fucks them up ugly" Daniels gives them both a severe and brutal beating, drives off in their car, bottle in hand, and heads to (what he thinks is) a deserted wasteland to remember about his wife (cue flashbacks of a younger naked girl, dancing around an older fully clothed Seagal)

(Steven required no stunt doubles in this scene)

Seems that Daniels can't even have a sneaky 'trim' flashback in peace, because this 'deserted' highway is soon anything but. First off two Russian youths, who stop to unload empty beer cans from their van appear on the scene. And then a deputy sheriff in his police-car pulls up another car, driven by two Chinese drivers, who are reluctant to say whats in their boot, and promptly shoot the shit out of the officer, before setting their sights on the Russian youths. One of the young Russian men is killed, Daniels intervenes (wahey!) killing one of the Chinese criminals, and knocking out the other one (in some classic Seagal 'Slap-Fu') Daniels takes the Chinese car (quite the thief, it seems) after finding a carry-case full of money, and a tied up Chinese girl (as you do) inside.

Daniels, the girl, and the surviving Russian drive off with the money. The Chinese girl wakes up, and tells Shane that her uncle is an important business man, who has been smuggled into the country by the Chinese gangsters, but (upon realising that he's a VIP) they've double crossed his niece, and are now holding him to a higher ransom. Daniels agrees to help, if her powerful uncle can secure him a visa out of the U.S. The grateful Russian youth, also thanks Daniels, and points out that his father is a powerful Russian mob boss, who will gladly help him out (should he need it?)....Mmmm, subplot methinks?

(A clue, perhaps?)

Daniels and the girl, part way with the Russian, but soon realise that there's a 'tracking device' in the bag of money, and Shane finds himself killing more Chinese hoods, intent on retrieving it.

(If only he'd apply these tactics to LAWMAN?)

With the net closing in, Daniels visits the Russian mob boss (who thanks him for saving his son, and swears undying loyalty) but soon the Chinese hoods are blasting the mob bosses mansion, so Daniels, The Girl, the mob boss and his son, take the war to the Chinese, and attack their HQ to rescue the girls uncle.....

A Dangerous Man is a fast-paced action movie, with rarely a dull moment. The cinematography is crisp, and the camerawork is great. As previously mentioned, the opening titles are really good (and get the viewer pumped up for the next 90 minutes) The film has numerous fight scenes, explosions, profanity....everything a good 'Seagal-movie' should have

Steven gives a lively (i.e, awake) performance (think DRIVEN TO KILL) He performs most of his fights and still has amazing hand-speed, and his usual 'baddass persona' is present and correct.There's a well spread out series of fight scenes (again, probably on par with DRIVEN TO KILL) and more (basic) 'bang-for-your-buck' action than THE KEEPER

Only gripe (if any) is that Seagal is dubbed throughout (although not as bad as KILL SWITCH or ATTACK FORCE) it's all the more infuriating that the dubs are actually the same dialogue that Seagal is wording anyhow (i think the directors should tell him to "speak up" during takes?) Then again, they're probably shit scared of him.

A Dangerous Man is another good movie for Steven Seagal (had the dubbing/double issues not arisen....It would be near perfect) As it is, the casual viewer would probably not notice these gripes, and enjoy it for what it is....a simple-minded fast-paced action thriller (just don't go expecting another UNDER SIEGE 2) but for a DTV release it's a pretty solid movie (actually, it's better than some of his cinematic releases)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Happy Birthday Burt Reynolds

With a fair few obituaries on this blog, it's only fair that I include something to celebrate on Straight-To-Dvd-Heaven, every once in a while...Namely that Burt Reynolds is 75 years young today.
Former halfback, stunt-man and all round 'good old boy'...Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest box office stars of the seventies, starring in such classics like DELIVERANCE, THE MEAN MACHINE, SHAMUS, HUSTLE, SEMI TOUGH, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (the criminally underrated) STARTING OVER, CANNONBALL RUN, SHARKY'S MACHINE (my personal fav along with) STICK, HEAT, MALONE and RENT-A-COP.
His good looks, killer timing and fun movies, often detracted from the fact that Mr Reynolds is also a great actor and director (Sharky's Machine are proof of both attributes)
Sadly though, as the eighties winded down, cinema had new box office champs (Arnold, Sly, Cruise, etc) but reynolds kept at it, and has appeared in a diverse range of DTV projects, before having a mini revival with BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997) before returning to mostly DTV work.
Some notable DTV releases being, THE MADDENING, RAVEN (fuck yeah...'Raven-Team' zippo lighters!) BIG CITY BLUES, (Albert Pyun's) CRAZY SIX, PUPS and his Logan Mcqueen movies.

Hollywood might have a short memory Burt, but i salute you on your 27, 375 days on 'gods blue and green' misery orb....All the best 'Bandit' (I may even watch SHARKY'S MACHINE tonight, or better yet...order that R2 import of STICK
, that I've been after for so long off E-bay?)

(This one)