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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Retro Review: Dark Angel (1990)

Dark Angel aka I Come At Peace
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthias Hues
Genre: Science Fiction Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $4 million

Plot: A renegade cop is forced to work with an FBI agent in order to bring down a group of drug dealers with sinister plans

'Action Film That Flies With Wings'

Also going by the title of 'I Come In Peace', Dark Angel is a sci-fi horror actioner that came out almost 30 years ago as I type this and whilst it didn't set the box office alight, to this day, it holds up as one of the better B-movie-type action films, complete with action set pieces, special effects and hints of sci-fi and horror all thrown into the mix. It is also directed by Craig R. Baxley who made his directorial debut with Action Jackson followed by Stone Cold, although, after that, his offerings became more obscure in the B/Z/TV movie vein. 

Set in Houston, Texas, Jack Caine is a renegade cop who chooses not to play by the rulebook and who is willing to take down the bad guys by any means necessary. When his partner is killed during an undercover drug bust, Jack goes after those responsible for his death and goes on a search for a drug the crooks are selling. He is then partnered up with an FBI agent, who by contrast, likes to do things by the book, and it isn't long until they become embroiled in an intergalactic affair and thus, the two are pursued by a mysterious figure named Talec: a weirdo with a white mullet, who kills his victims by wielding a flying disc that slices and dices & pumping in large amounts of drugs into people and sucking their brains out. In other words, he is like a drug dealer from outer space. 

This film reminded me of Dead Heat with its horror, intergalactic theme mixed with Predator 2 and it functions as a buddy cop-type film, although I wished that the Ivy Leaguer and federal agent character, Arwood was better written, because I wasn't a fan of his throughout; he was too uptight and whiny for my liking. Yet in Dolph Lundgren, his acting performance was rather pleasing and he makes an effort too, despite his limited range. Watching his turn as Jack, it was better than I expected and alas, I was a tad impressed as he gave one of the most laid-back and at eased turns I've seen of his. & watching him execute a roundhouse kick is just cool to see as well. Initially, he was offered the role of the bad guy alien dude, but instead, Lundgren chose to play the cop. 

The conflict and'' two cops who don't meet eye-to-eye but who have to work together'' thing is as much of a part of the film; although it should have been marketed as a buddy cop action film with a more recognisable and established actor in place of Brian Brianbrian as Lundgren's second major billing: he of whom for the most part, his performance is all right, but his character was too much of a Debbie downer for me to get behind and root for. 

There are explosions, some action, martial arts fights and kicks with Lundgren executing the roundhouse kick - not once but twice, and Baxley keeps the momentum going and coming in at 1.30 min, the runtime is just right for this movie. The tone is also isn't too serious, which meant I enjoyed it. 

One minor issue is that there are rarely any huge surprises or twists that I didn't see coming that Dark Angel could have a bit more of, but it is certainly one of those movies that have been slept on for years, especially action-based flicks, that has managed to gain a bit of a cult following on home video. & rightly so, because it is a bit of gem. 

Final Verdict:

A hybrid mix of the crime thriller, sci-fi, action, horror slasher, this is a surprisingly entertaining and unique take on the buddy actioner, & much like with Dead Heat and John Carpenter's They Live, Dark Angel offers far more than your regular and standard action/cop movie. It's well-produced, even though it is a low-budget B-movie affair (made at only $5million when originally it was going to be produced at $25 million) and feels inventive and different, but without sacrificing the good elements that make for a decent action flick. 

Far better than the previous offering, 1989's The Punisher - based on the Marvel Comics franchise, and a film which incurred post-production issues, right before it was consigned straight to video, Dark Angel pretty much delivers on every scale and whilst Dolph Lundgren never managed to reach the action echelon of Arnold Schwarzenneger and Slyvester Stallone in terms of box office stardom, he still does relatively well here and in the John Woo 1998 offering, Blackjack

By today's standards, this one still holds up pretty well and with that, Craig R. Baxley has crafted a nifty little fun and entertaining buddy-like out-of-this-world action movie that is ripe for rediscovery and one that sci-fi horror fans should give it a spin.


Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Mini Retro Review: Houseguest (1995) #badmovies


A rehash of the plot from 1992's Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, Houseguest sees comedians Sinbad and Phil Hartman, with Sinbad trying to carve out a name for himself in the comedy film world, post-A Different World and Hartman, who has been a regular on The Simpsons. A con artist is on the run from the mob, moves in with a new family and passing himself off as the childhood friend of the dad & lawyer played by Hartman. Houseguest, unfortunately, fails to maintain the laughs and at almost 2 hrs long, the plot is overstretched and it isn't long until boredom sets in. Sinbad and Hartman make for a somewhat interesting comic duo, but the weak material and uninspired and lacking direction by Randall Miller succumbs their efforts, as well as this comedy. In Hartman, he showed glimpses of being a capable comedic actor, despite being second-billed. Both of them later reunited in Brian Levant's festive comedy, Jingle All The Way starring Arnold Schwarzenneger, which not only became a huge box office hit but even with the poor reviews, it had far more charm than Houseguest. Yes, this didn't do well when it came out, but in watching this film, for me, this one just wasn't funny enough.

Is It Worth Watching?

Unfortunately not


Monday, 16 September 2019

Retro Review: 48 Hrs (1982)

48 Hrs
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham, Brion James
Genre: Buddy Cop Action Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: $78 million

Plot: A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer

'Nostalgia Trip Back To 1982, Which Feels More Like A 2- Hr Filler'

48 Hrs is notable for being one of the earliest buddy cop/buddy movies that set the trend for Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour and many others later on.

A cop in Jack Cates is the survivor of a shoot-out that injured and killed several of his officers, he gives Reggie Hammond, a convict who is about to complete his 3-year prison sentence, 48 hours to help him track down the killer in Ganz, who is accompanied by his partner by the nickname of Billy Bear and the pair go on a murder spree.

The odd racial slurs such as the use of the 'N' word and misogyny marred 48 Hrs; its attempts at living up to the R-rated & 18 rated scheme of things by having Cates and Hammond trading offensive terms towards and against each other and at other people, to make it more 'realistic' sounds cheap.

The most likeable character appears to be Jack Cates' girlfriend, and given that there have been many other films of this type that have been done to death, it also makes 48 Hrs seem dated. Walter Hill's direction is not very distinguishable and is also bland and with that, the story is quite dull whilst being occasionally offensive. The buddy arc is muddled and with the way, the two main characters are written, there was little to no buddy chemistry sensed between them. Nolte's Cate's is not a redeeming character by any sense and he just comes across as charmless, narcissistic and utterly spiteful.

Billed as a buddy cop comedy, there is virtually little in the way of humour and comedy, besides the odd little scene of Reggie blaring out The Police's Roxanne behind bars (Murphy, himself, doesn't appear until after half an hour into the film), and as an action movie in general, both action and story-wise, it doesn't have much to offer in both of these departments. The bar brawl was another highlight from Eddie Murphy's Reggie, but besides that, he remains a bore and not as entertaining as I'd hoped he would be.

48 Hrs lacks the sure-fire comedy, energy and hipness of Beverly Hills Cop 1 (and perhaps 2), and nor does it have any of the buddy cop sparkle of Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. Jack's pomposity is dialled up to an eleven on the Richter scale, but his narcissism can be inexplicable, whilst Reggie is the so-called easy-going guy, but he isn't as fun and breezy as Beverly Hills Cop's Axel Foley. The story isn't compelling enough as it lacks considerable depth, and whilst the acting is mostly good from everyone, the villains are barely noticeable, characterisation-wise. The tone also is off-key and too serious and at times, miserable, this made the story boring to endure.

The other worrying problem is the portrayal of the female characters; there is an Asian female cop, but she's in it for like a few mins, Jack's girlfriend is depicted as someone who deserves to be walked all over and be treated like crap by her boyfriend, the female bad girls are depicted as lesbians/dykes, whilst the rest of the women remain topless - although at least none of them gets brutally killed off.

Final Verdict

On a recent rewatch, unfortunately, 48 Hrs, though whilst not completely unwatchable throughout, it just doesn't hold up as well today, as it feels dated. It isn't a great movie, but I give it credit for being an influential one. This might have heralded the arrival of Eddie Murphy as a movie star, following on from his success on Saturday Night Live, but with this offering and during the much earlier stages of his career, he had yet to find his touch, until 1983's Trading Places came along.

Walter Hill's next buddy-cop entry was 1988's Red Heat: the Arnold Schwarzenneger effort, 7 years on, and one that is arguably a tad more entertaining than 48 Hrs.


Friday, 13 September 2019

How To Bounce Back After Making A Mistake At Work

Nobody likes to fail and when things spiral out of control or go wrong badly, we react to it so negatively. Success, however, is neither possible or conceivable, had there not been obstacles, hurdles and barriers we had to overcome to get to the other end and to achieve happiness and a sense of accomplishment.   

No matter how big or small, trivial or serious they are and intentional or not, making mistakes and encountering setbacks are human and often we are judged for them; that and less focus is placed on what we could have done differently or better to minimise, reduce or avert its impact in favour of criticism, condemnation, which is deserved of course; but by harping on and on about the negatives all of the time, doesn't do us a great deal of good. I have been there and done that, several times and so I'm not just saying this for the sake of it; rather I screwed up a couple of times for trivial and even far more serious things that I have been caught guilty of doing.  

We do and say stupid, dumb things and even things we regret in saying and doing in the first place for various reasons. And yet as bad as the mistake is and can be, you can't let it and other people who buy into it and who think otherwise of you, define you as a person and let it undermine your work efforts. 

So you messed up, big time - yet by choosing not to respond in a positive and assured manner in order to repay and win back the respect of both your colleagues, as well as your bosses who gave you the opportunity by offering you a job, which you took with both hands, is even worse. BUT by learning how to move past your mistakes, by approaching your work life in the right frame of mind and working and striving towards doing and being better in the future is the only way forward. 

  • Apologise for your actions in person - it gives you a chance to explain yourself but keep it succinct and modest and don't make it sound desperate. You can't change what happened or turn back the clock and undo the mistake, but by owning up to one's (ir)responsibility and learning from the mistake, it means there is less chance of it happening again

  • Be honest and hold your hands up - honesty is the best policy and if you lie, then chances are, the truth will come out and the consequences could and will be more costly, such as termination of employment. Acknowledge and admit that you are at fault, rather than accusing other people of it, by avoiding it or come up with excuses 

  • Be humble - show your understanding of the situation by reflecting on your past actions and that you have learnt a valuable lesson

  • Do not beat yourself up - dwelling on the negative leads to self-doubt and can hamper one's own progression or attempts in recovering from the setback. Keep believing in yourself, think positive thoughts and reminding yourself of what your strengths and achievements are and use that to further motivate and spur you on. Whenever I mess up, I always refer to my positive attributes and traits to make me work harder and better than ever.  

  • Get advice from the supervisor, line manager or some of your colleagues and ask where did it go wrong, what you should and shouldn't have done and take this on board from now onwards. Assess your mental and emotional state that led to that specific action. Your plan should address and highlight what actions you must take to prevent such further incidents from ever occurring 

  • Win back the trust of your colleagues through your actions, do not just talk the talk - Failure is not about falling down, but choosing to stay down. If you choose not to do anything, then that is not progress, but it shows you are willing to settle for less. Talk is... cheap; if you talk about it, but do not live up to what you say by doing it, then it exposes your true, or be it false colours. Demonstrate your worth by letting your work speak for itself and resist going on and on about your mistake and/or how good of a worker that you are. Your efforts will be noticed eventually and avoid toxic people, who drag you down 

  • It's not about proving a point, but to show you have changed, not in spite or despite of, but because of your mistake - you change for the greater good and the mistake appears to be a kick- in- the- arse/ass you need and acts as a wake-up call for you to improve and work even harder than before. It also builds your resilience and self-confidence 

  • People, who judge you from your failures, are probably most likely to be the ones who have never experienced the same or similar struggles as yourself - to them, it's easier said than done to say things and offer an opinion, but of whom haven't been through what you have gone through and walked a mile in your shoes to truly understand you and to get to the heart of the matter

  • Do not compare yourself to others, know who you are and what is your true worth - the only person who knows you far better than your actual self... is you, and you alone. Try not to aspire to be as good as anyone else, but do good for yourself and remind yourself that you are bound to get better

  • Turn a negative into a positive, let go, forgive and move on - everyone makes mistakes and nobody's perfect. If, however, everyone is perfect and doesn't screw up once in their lives, ever, then how is s/he going to learn, grow and develop as human beings? Like a rollercoaster, life is a journey and ride that is full of ups and downs but once you get off, that's when it comes to a halt. It's how you handle that mistake that can make matters better - or worse. React positively, be resolute and rise up

  • A real failure is when you never try or do not make any effort to try - if you try and fail, it's not the end of the world, but when and if you don't do anything, then really one hasn't fully moved on and made progress  

Monday, 9 September 2019

'I Have To Start To NOT Take Things So Personally'

By Waiching

Just 2 weeks ago on a Sunday, so not yesterday Sunday but the Sunday of last week, I was working when a coworker, who was also doing something as well, said, ''I don't have friends'' or something on the lines of that. I overheard what she said and said nothing, then I looked up at her. I spent hours ruminating what she said and seething in silence. The remainder of that day, I tried to avoid speaking to her and got upset. I took what she said personally, given that in the past back in high school, college, I didn't have (many) friends;  then I said, ''I realise you and me are not friends, and so you should stop calling me 'amigo' and 'compadre'''. For those who speak and understand Espanol, ''Amigo'' and ''compadre'' are Spanish words for friend, and so in my head, my mental and emotional reaction was one out of sheer anger and distress and that she was contradicting herself: that she says she doesn't have friends at work where we work - and yet on a few occasions, she'd say 'amigo' to me. I didn't understand why she'd say that. I felt horrible afterwards and tried to apologise, but she (and understandably so) didn't want to hear any more as she left work. I ended up in tears. It was something I could have so easily avoided - had I told her in person how what she said made me feel on the inside. But I didn't; I let that incident manifest and resultingly the tears began to flow. I let my emotions overwhelm me. I felt sad, frustrated and that after a good start descended into a bad day at work.

I am what one would call as someone who can be overly sensitive when the thing/situation & even more so the people around me, wrestles and toils with my emotions and my heart.

I felt so terrible that I wanted to make amends for what happened; when I arrived home, I reassessed the situation and I replayed it again in the back of my mind. The thoughts, how I felt was too overwhelming, I felt terrible and I was so sombre, I couldn't sleep properly. The following day, I gave my colleague an apologetic letter that I'd penned. When we talked the other day or two, she said something that struck me and one I will always remind myself whenever a similar thing happens: ''it's not always about you and that I have nothing personal against you''. Yes, this line is so cliched and yes it is used to avoid any further questions, answers. 

& it's not as if she shouted or raised her voice at me when the initial problem flared up; if she did that, then, sure enough, the '' it's not you but me'' remark would reverberate in my head and it would still make sense, and I'd take that personally and I'd have every right to be upset. By stating that ''... I have nothing personal against you'', not only did I get a better understanding of where she was coming from (which was important in my eyes as I wanted to seek clarification on what she'd said), I had a newfound respect towards her that this assured me that from now onwards, it's best for me to shrug it off or pursue the matter further by asking her what she meant by what she said, rather than to overreact and jump into conclusions. That and I can't and won't let it define me, nor get me or drag me down. 

I let it all go, moved on and thus, we are still on good terms with each other.

It is often said that we take things personally when something we care deeply about or our own attributes, qualities and even our flaws and weaknesses are pinpointed and discussed in a negative light. 

By taking what people say to me at face value and to heart and jumping into conclusions, I relinquish whatever power I have left onto him/her. Heck, these same people, most of them (might) have emotional issues that they are dealing with, which can make them rude and thoughtless. It's also a way of letting them get under your skin and control and affect your emotions, it takes an unnecessary toll that I don't want to have. I tend not to care what others think about me, because whatever opinions they do have, they do not openly admit them to me and so with that, I did not and do not have to contend with it. Yet it is when they openly make their feelings clear verbally that I become emotionally affected. I don't do well with extreme negativity and I try to steer clear of it. 

For so many years, I was conditioned to believe that by buying into what other people say and being emotionally receptive to their comments, views, opinions was and is THE only way for me to change, as well as to grow as a person. But then, I realised it was and is all B.S: why? It's almost like brainwashing, but in reality, it isn't. Because change comes from self-observation and within and it is down to me to make that happen for real - not them, not my colleagues, my family, friends - No one, but for me. I can't change how they behave and who they are and I have to grow accustomed to that. And the same applies to me - they can't change me, only I can do that.

A psychologist by the name of Albert Ellis once argued that a person is not emotionally affected by what happens around them, but by their interpretation of what happened and that our interpretations are formed by our beliefs. In other words, when something happens, our reaction and how we react to it is down to our perceptions and how we decipher it and why we came to the conclusion that we did. It is also said that we internalise the events and situations that we encounter via the words, problems, the act itself and feel we are the 'cause' and to blame for how it went down in the first place.

It happens to pretty much everyone at some point, not just myself: someone says something. We think or assume it is about us and we take it negatively and so personally that our feelings get hurt. The words we choose and use really matter to us, and so when someone criticises or insults us, our immediate reaction is of ''how dare s/he says that''. Miscommunications, misinterpretations and the wrong assumptions are some of the key factors as to how and why by taking things personally our relationships with our peers, colleagues, friends, family especially (and the people we are close to) break down.

And so how do I counter all of this? 

For one, I have to constantly remind myself of the positive qualities that got me very far in life and through work today and be more compassionate and knowing I can be proud of what I have achieved, and that nothing & NOBODY can ever take that away from me. Beating myself down isn't going to do me any favours, personally, emotionally and for my own state of mind. As well as continue to be wise, remain grounded, imbued with humility, be more understanding and kind whilst staying true to myself. I have been around people, who have in the past, made me feel worthless and tried to get the better of me. Secondly, I have to grow a thicker skin and must remain immune to their behaviours, actions and comments, which (often have nothing to do with me) will make me feel worse the more I think about them. It's one thing for them to say or do something that is supposed to or it inadvertently hurts my feelings and make me sad or angry... and yet, if I don't give into them and any of my attention, that, on the flip side, adds further fuel and boast my happiness, my own security and confidence.  

Fast forward to today, I wouldn't give those same people the satisfaction, nor the benefit of the doubt - and I wouldn't waste my breath on them if they tried me to give an ounce of their attention. They were and are a part of my past, which I struggled with tremendously, both emotionally and mentally, for what like 20-25 years or so of my existence, as I was subjected to and tormented by their crap. My insecurities and self-esteem issues partly stem from those experiences, which even though they have alleviated for me slightly today, sadly haven't been completely dissipated. 

& despite this, now with me being older, I'm like 'screw you'. Be yourself and if others don't like it, then well, tough. 

But alas, I wish to seek to learn about the different personality types and by doing so, it makes me deal with people more effectively & in addition, to appreciate and understand the people I interact and surround myself with on a daily basis.

I know my own self-worth and for what it is worth, the people who lift me up are the ones, not to mention myself, of whom recognise my accomplishments. In practically over a year, so much has changed and happened since I joined and worked at Costco and plus, I have seen some advancements and improvements, both professionally in my work and personally, as a human being. The more I practice and do it, the easier it becomes and the more my confidence grows and being able to work independently, on my initiative and as part of a team.

The point is, once you give a damn and depend on other people for validation, approval and give people more power over yourself, once you lose sight of your own worth and sense of pride as a person, that is when you surrender to their negative and often toxic behaviours and judgements - and with that, they have won and you lose. 

When really, it says a whole lot about them.... and less about you. 

Therefore, Do NOT interpret what s/he says, as a reflection of your true value as a person. 

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