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Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

I recently watched GetEven (a.k.a. Road to Revenge) from 1993 and wrote it up for Letterboxd, I thought this thread might be interested:

If you fail hard enough at doing something, you might end up providing an acute commentary on that thing. There are moments when GetEven almost achieves this.

GetEven is the project of law school graduate and limousine company owner John De Hart, who put together some money and decided he was going to make an action film that he directed, starred in, produced, wrote, and composed for. If you seek his monument, look around you.

The plot of GetEven is perfunctory, for reasons that we'll come back to. Fun-loving L.A. cops Rick Bode (John De Hart) and Huck Finney (Wings Hauser) are fired from the police after being betrayed by their partner, Normad (William Smith). Normad later turns up in the film as a judge, which leads to the troubling thought that De Hart managed to graduate from law school while believing that judges are created by being promoted from the police. While attempting to get back together with his estranged girlfriend Cindy (Pamela Jean Bryant), Bode learns from her that a Satanic cult practising human sacrifice is active in the city. Bode and Finney set out to dispense some vigilante justice.

Or at least, that's how the plot would normally go in an action film. What happens here is that Cindy tells Bode that she witnessed a baby being sacrificed by a Satanic cult, and everyone then pretty much forgets about it. Rather than scenes of detective work or vigilante justice, we get a series of sex scenes between Bode and Cindy. This is what makes it more difficult to have the kind of positive feelings about GetEven that you might have about The Room, Samurai Cop, or Miami Connection. Whatever deficiencies those films have, they are genuine efforts at making films of their genre. This seems to have been made largely so that De Hart can repeatedly simulate sex with a former Playboy centrefold.

Another major problem with this film is that De Hart lacks any ability to act or project charisma. The one exception to this is the bar scene when Bode is performing his (and De Hart's) country-and-western line-dancing song "Shimmy Slide". De Hart appears to be genuinely terrified, but the problem is that the character here is probably meant to seem charismatic and self-assured. Usually you solve the problem of an uncharismatic leading man by surrounding them with good character actors, and so it is here, with William Smith providing the kind of strange, camp performance that you actually want for the villain of an action film.

Pride of place has to go to Wings Hauser though, who clearly made this film in a cocaine-fuelled haze, and whose resultingly demented performance is probably worth at least half a star of my rating. It's also his scenes that come close to being a comment on the buddy cop genre: Bode reacts to his friend's behaviour as just being good manly hijinx, rather than as the clear signs of a man undergoing a breakdown. Weirdly, some of Hauser's scenes remind me of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, a film which actually took the archetype of the wildman plays-by-his-own rules cop and both took it to an extreme and did something interesting with it. That film also leaves you with an appreciation of Harvey Keitel's acting talent, whereas here you're mostly just worried about Wings Hauser's welfare.

GetEven also comes up short compared to something like Miami Connection when it comes to direction. Quite a lot of scenes in GetEven are filmed from a single fixed camera position, and when they arrive the action scenes are pretty anaemic.

This film is a mixed bag. The highs are pretty high, but the cheap feel and the overall cynicism of the production make it pretty difficult to love compared to some of its cult film competitors.

Rascar Capac fucked around with this message at 18:01 on Dec 13, 2020

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Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Shageletic posted:

Wtf



Thats so much photoshop they just used the paint icon for most of the main dude

I will say this: the poster gives you a pretty accurate impression of the film.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Firstborn posted:

Rick Geteven is a bad motherfucker and a smooth operator and country singer


E: Imagine a black tanktop vanity project Expendables with Tommy Wiseau, Rick Geteven, and Neil Breen. Who else gets to go?

Y.K. Kim.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

I've done another Letterboxd review of an action film I saw recently, this time 1992's Red Mob:

When I tell you that Red Mob is an action film made in Russia in 1992, your first question will be "does it feature dudes wearing those stripy shirts?" I can tell you that this film does feature dudes wearing those stripy shirts.

Soviet-Afghan War veterans Oleg (Vladimir Menshov) and Nick (Sergey Veksler) run a camp in Central Asia where wealthy Russians can come to experience military training. However, not long after Oleg's young son Yura (Dmitri Volkov) comes to join them, the pair are drawn into the schemes of Jaffar (Aleksandr Rozenbaum), a gangster running a smuggling operation.

As the first western-style action film made in the former Soviet Union, Red Mob does a good job of importing the tropes of 1980s American action films. In fact, it probably manages to be more macho than its American counterparts, as there are pretty much no female characters at all: at one point early on a young woman turns up at Oleg and Nick's camp, and you'd swear she was going to be a love interest, but she vanishes as quickly as she appeared. The action scenes themselves are well done, if not mind-blowing, and are comparable to lower-budget American films of the 1980s and 1990s. The pacing is a bit of a problem, with the action loaded into the second half of the film, and the overall running time being a bit long.

As an action film Red Mob is passable, but nothing special. The interest really comes from it being a fascinating time capsule of the end of the Soviet Union from clothing and cars (if you want to see a Lada chase, this is the film for you) and even social attitudes: at various points the characters are uncertain which side they should be on, and whether old values have any place in the new world. One of the special features on the Vinegar Syndrome bluray I saw this on makes the point that the film is also prescient regarding the rise of organised crime in post-Soviet Russia.

All in all, if you've got any interest in action films this is worth your time.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

For the weekend, my Letterboxd review of Kill or Be Killed (1976):

South Africa's first martial arts film!

Top karate fighter Steve Hunt (James Ryan) and his girlfriend Olga (Charlotte Michelle) sign a contract to join a team at Baron von Rudloff's castle in the Namibian desert. Once they have arrived they discover that they are not permitted to leave, and that the die-hard Nazi von Rudloff and his dwarf assistant Chico (Danie Du Plessis) are putting together a team to take on one led by Miyagi (Raymond Ho-Tong), whose Japanese karate team defeated von Rudloff's German team at the 1936 Olympics.

As Enter the Dragon rip-offs go this is OK, despite the martial arts sequences that are meant to be the heart of the film not really holding up to modern standards. You can see the punches being pulled, and sometimes slow motion is used to try and disguise things. Characters in the film also seem much more concerned that von Rudloff - who wears a Nazi uniform and drives round in a car with a swastika flag on it - is an arsehole rather than that he is a Nazi, but I guess this is 70s South Africa. An apartheid-era production, there are almost no black actors here, and those that do appear get no lines.

Kill or Be Killed is lifted above average by the fact that it is nuts enough to be entertaining, and by the way the whole production has that fun, campy tone of a lot of 1970s pulp cinema.

You can see the trailer here.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

For the weekend, my Letterboxd review of Terror in Beverly Hills (1989):

When your film can't afford Frank Stallone for its whole run-time, you've got problems.

A group of Middle Eastern terrorists led by Abdul (Behrouz Vossoughi) travel to Los Angeles in order to kidnap Margaret (Lysa Heslov), the daughter of the President of the United States, and ransom her to get the Israeli government to release 55 Arab prisoners. But the President activates Hack Stone (Frank Stallone), a former Special Forces soldier who knows Abdul from when they were both CIA operatives.

This is one of the lowest-effort films I've seen, from the fact that a film advertising itself as being set in Beverly Hills mostly takes place in an abandoned bean factory, to a lack of muzzle flash from guns, to Stallone only really turning up about 20 minutes from the end. The amount of casual racism seems egregious, even for a film from 30 years ago.

High points here are few and far between, with a couple of moments of action-film absurdity, including the way that Abdul is ultimately defeated. A special mention has to go to Cameron Mitchell as the angry police chief, a stock character for 80s action films, but whose performance here is energised by his palpable sense of rage at the film's makers, its audience, God, and himself.

The trailer can be seen here.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

It's Friday, so here's another action film Letterboxd review from me. It's for a film most people in this thread have probably already seen, but I don't think I'd heard of until I saw it talked about here on SA.

Until a few years ago, I'd never heard of Stone Cold but it gets talked about positively by action-film fans online, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Alabama detective Joe Huff (former NFL player Brian Bosworth) is blackmailed by the FBI into going undercover as a biker in order to infiltrate a white-supremacist gang called "The Brotherhood", led by Chains Cooper (Lance Henriksen). Huff's undercover identity is "John Stone".

From its opening scene, Stone Cold is at pains to point out that Joe Huff is simply too cool to be a cop. Because this is 1991, this means that he sports a bleached-blonde mullet, a black leather trenchcoat, and an occasional bandana. Bosworth performs just fine as an actor and an action performer, by the standards of 80s/90s action films, but the film is helped hugely by the presence of Lance Henriksen as the antagonist. Sitcom fans might also like the fact that we get Sam McMurray (Chandler's boss from Friends) and Gregory Scott Cummins (Mac's dad from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) before they were famous.

Stone Cold flopped at the box office, but it delivers plenty of good, well-thought-out action scenes for its mid-range budget. Overall it's up to the standards of its era in terms of story, acting, and direction. It's kind of an overlooked little gem of an 80s/90s-style action film and is well worth your time if you're into that genre.

You can see the trailer here.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

When the legend (about pants-making GBS threads) becomes fact, print the legend (about pants-making GBS threads).

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

My weekend Letterboxd review, this time of Sworn to Justice (1996):

Ally McBeal with roundhouse kicks.

Criminal psychologist Janna Dane (Cynthia Rothrock) finds her sister and nephew brutally murdered, and while she fights off the gang that killed them, she receives a blow to the head that activates her latent psychic powers. She sets out to use her new powers and her martial arts skills to bring justice to those responsible for the murders.

Cynthia Rothrock as a psychic martial arts vigilante with a PhD in criminal psychology could be a lot of fun, but this one is let down by the script failing to come up with an engaging enough story and by the low production values hampering the action scenes: even a comparatively simple sliding-across-a-car stunt is implied with editing, rather than actually shown. We get a lot more scenes of people in 90s businesswear having conversations on cheap office sets than we do fights. There's also the problem that none of Rothrock's enemies seem like credible threats, as she would clearly annihilate any of these men in two seconds flat.

There is some fun to be had, in the form of the goofy martial arts seduction scene with love interest Nicholas (Kurt McKinney), in Walter Koenig showing up in a bad wig to deliver a couple of lines, and in some of the worst corpse makeup I have ever seen. But while I don't remember ever seeing a Cynthia Rothrock film before, I have a strong impression that she can do, and has done, better.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

For the weekend, my Letterboxed review of Hollywood Cop (1987):

Many of Hollywood's best films have been made by outsiders, but so have many of its oddball failures.

The gangster Feliciano (James Mitchum) kidnaps a small boy (Brandon Angle), in order to force the boy's corrupt-cop father to hand over $6 million that he has stolen. The boy's mother, Rebecca (Julie Schoenhofer), turns to L.A. detectives Joe Turk (David Goss) and Jaguar (Lincoln Kilpatrick) to get him back.

This was Iranian immigrant director Amir Shervan's first attempt at making his own version of Lethal Weapon, the second being a far superior bad film called Samurai Cop. Like Samurai Cop, this film is an outsider's take on the 80s American action film, but it is much less coherent than Samurai Cop, so the plot doesn't really matter. This is the buddy-cop film as a Dadaist collage, including a Yacht-rock villain; a graphic rape scene; an angry police chief; a detective asking the victim of a crime to stay at his house; a small child befriending a guard dog; a detective taking part in an oil-wrestling contest in order to win a bet; a maid-outfit swimsuit; an adorable animal companion being shot dead; a gangster beating up a small child; a maniacal gunman with a tremendously positive attitude; a detective taking cover from gunfire by throwing himself to the ground with his arse in the air; Our Hero Cops being racist to an Asian receptionist in a way that leaves you 100% on his side; a group of bikers fighting a group of East Asian martial artists.

Special mention once again has to go to Cameron Mitchell, again playing the angry 80s police chief archetype, but whereas in Terror in Beverly Hills his performance was filled with rage, here he goes with jovial disinterest. That's what you get when you hire a real pro: he doesn't give you the same character twice.

The attraction of Hollywood Cop is seeing someone try to engage with a genre they've clearly seen a lot of, but that they haven't quite parsed. It's not as much fun as Samurai Cop, partly because of the sexual violence, but it is strange enough to have an appeal.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Stairmaster posted:

Samurai cop tbf also features gratuitous sexual violence

It does? I have completely forgotten it.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Another weekend, another Letterboxed review, this time of The Exterminator (1980):

In the 1970s and 1980s, approximately one million films were made about a Vietnam veteran returning home, being pushed too far, and turning vigilante. This is one of them.

Captured by the North Vietnamese, American soldiers John Eastland (Robert Ginty) and Michael Jefferson (Steve James) escape, with Jefferson saving Eastland's life. Years later back in New York, Jefferson is paralysed after being attacked by a street gang. Eastland sets out for revenge and finds himself drawn into a general war on crime.

The Exterminator is definitely a grindhouse experience, taking place in the grimy New York that was just outside the 42nd Street cinemas that films like this were shown in, and featuring the explicit nastiness - including sex workers being tortured - that the style is known for. For all that, it looks pretty good and has at least a couple of really great shots. Where it falls down is in its often disjointed editing, and in Robert Ginty not really being a charismatic presence at the centre of the film. There's also no real build-up to Eastman becoming a vigilante, he just immediately starts, and surely the best bit of any vigilante film is the bit where the protagonist finally flips out?

I recommend this to you if you won't mind its nasty edge. It's a solid film which isn't that far away from being something much better.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

It's Friday, so here's another action film Letterboxd review, this time of Robowar (1988):

Wait, the low budget Predator ripoff couldn't rip off the bit where the monster is invisible?

A commando team led by Major Murphy Black (Reb Brown) is sent on a mission to a jungle island, but only their technical adviser Mascher (Mel Davidson) knows that they are there to find and neutralise Omega-1, a military robot that is running amock.

Reb Brown Slab Hardbeefs his way through a script that might have been generated by an algorithm. It manages to hit pretty much all of the plot points of Predator, but without any of the characterisation or storytelling skill that makes that film so good. There are a lot of scenes of guys firing guns filmed in slow-motion, so as to pad out the running time. The failure to rip off the invisible monster concept is particularly baffling, as that is something that you can easily do on a low budget project which is also an effective technique for building up tension. In Predator when you finally see the monster you're treated to some pretty cool creature design. Here you get writer/director Claudio Fragasso in a motorbike helmet and leathers, making beeping noises.

This is a mindless way to spend an hour-and-a-half, and it's not like you won't have fun with some of the absurdities here (the screenwriters would like you to know that "Virgin" is a perfectly normal name for a human woman), but ultimately the only takeaway is of how good a film Predator actually is.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

A Friday Letterboxd review of Dangerous Men (2005):

In 1984 John S. Rad set out to make a feminist revenge thriller. 20 years later we discovered that he didn't really know what he was doing.

Newly engaged couple Mina (Melody Wiggins) and Daniel (Coti Cook) are walking on a California beach when they are attacked by two bikers. Daniel is killed and Mina is almost raped. She sets out on a campaign of vigilante revenge. Meanwhile, Daniel's police detective brother David (Michael Gradilone) sets out to investigate the murder and encounters the biker gang led by a man known only as "Black Pepper" (Bryan Jenkins).

The above is what the plot would be if this were a normal film, but this is not a normal film. Probably as a result of being put together in stages over a period of 20 years, characters rapidly appear and disappear, leaving us with a series of vignettes. There are huge tonal shifts in short spaces of time, as when a dramatic scene involving an attempted rape suddenly shifts into comedy. Most of the film's soundtrack consists of the same short synthesizer loop, reminiscent of a Sega Mega Drive game, being played over and over again. The overall effect of all this is what I imagine watching Pulp Fiction while huffing paint would be like.

The phrase "anything could happen next" is overused, but in the case of Dangerous Men it is actually true. The odds are that what happens next will be another overly long scene of a woman being attacked, but on the occasions when it isn't the results are genuinely entertaining.

Dangerous Men deserves its place alongside things like Samurai Cop and The Room. As such, it absolutely won't be to everyone's taste, but if you like entertainingly inept low-budget films and can cope with numerous scenes of women being attacked, this one's for you.

Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Snowman_McK posted:

This is Blue Ruin, sort of, except without the training part.

There was an Antonio Banderas vehicle with this plot. It also had Karl Urban.

Blue Ruin is really good. I liked it more than Green Room.

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Rascar Capac
Aug 31, 2016

Surprisingly nice, for an evil Inca mummy.

Another new Letterboxd review for the weekend, this time of 1985's Commando Leopard:

Suppose they gave a guerilla insurgency and no one cared?

In a South American dictatorship, a guerilla band led by Enrique "El Leopardo" Carrasco (Lewis Collins) attacks a hydroelectric dam and then hides out in the jungle. While continuing to plot the overthrow of the government, they are pursued by the head of the secret police, Colonel Silvera (Klaus Kinski).

Commando Leopard has a bunch of care and attention put into its special effects, with some impressive miniatures work. Less attention went into the script, which makes it hard to care about the characters and what they are doing. This is a shame, because the intention here is clearly to go for a grittier type of action film, along the lines of The Dogs of War. The parts of the story that focus on the costs of revolutionary violence also make things a bit more interesting than the way things are usually presented in films.

The acting is also a problem, with Collins (best known to British viewers as half of The Professionals) not expressing a single emotion during the course of the film, and - more surprisingly - Kinski being similarly subdued. Again, this makes it difficult to become really invested in what's going on.

Commando Leopard is a perfectly serviceable action film, but it could have been substantially better with some more script work and more committed acting.

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