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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Retro Review: Blind Fury (1989)

Blind Fury
1989
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Terry O' Quinn, Brandon Call, Meg Foster, Nick Cassavetes, Randall ''Tex'' Cobb
Genre: Martial Arts Action Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $2.6 million 

Plot: A blind Vietnam vet, trained as a swordfighter, comes to America and helps to rescue his son of a fellow soldier






'What The Eyes Don't See, He Comes To His ''Senses''....'

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has had a strange film career. He first started doing Dutch movies such as Paul Verhoeven's M-rated medieval T&A fetish, Flesh & Blood, debuted in his first American effort in Nighthawks alongside Sylvester Stallone, and then the next year he finally made his breakthrough on Ridley Scott's original Blade Runner opposite Harrison Ford. From there onwards, it seemed as though major Hollywood success would beckon for Hauer, but since then he has been in so-called B-movies and obscure affairs that went straight-to-DVD. These days, he appears in supporting roles in such efforts like Batman Begins and Sin City.

Following on from his first major starring action vehicle, Wanted: Dead or Alive of 1987, 2 years after, Rutger Hauer secured another starring gig in Blind Fury and much like with the former, is a low-budget, action-based B-movie. 

I had heard of Blind Fury before and saw the cool poster, but - and much like with 80-85% of movies I have passed up on as a teenager and child that I now enjoy as an adult - for years I held back from watching it as I thought it would be something that wouldn't adow to me. It's supposedly a modern retelling of the Japanese samurai film, Zatoichi Challenged, which I have never come across before. 

Hauer is Vietnam vet Nick Parker, who is left visually impaired during a battle. After being rescued by a tribe, he has now honed his skills as a swordsman and relies on his other senses such as smell, touch and feel to help him get by. These are also heightened to a degree that he can still beat up the bad guys. As they say 'never judge a book by its cover' and Nick is not as helpless and vulnerable as people assume he would be. Nick heads back to the South.

Just as Nick pays a visit to meet up with his war buddy, Frank and bumps into his wife, no sooner is she then killed. Frank meanwhile finds himself on the run. Nick then goes out to search for his son, Billy, who is determined to see his dad and who Nick has to protect and guard, whilst beating up anyone who gets in his way. 

Blind Fury wasn't as gratuitous and serious as I'd anticipated; there is very little blood being shed; rather it takes on a more of a lighter tone but it's the type of film that as long as you don't take it too seriously and you have fun with it, it becomes enjoyable in parts. The action was rather good, whilst the humour was subtle and not overly comical and still, it suited the tone it was trying to evoke. It put a smile on my face to see Nick fool people that he is ''disabled'' and that because he can't see, it gives off the impression he is helpless - only to surprise them and they see him chop down the baddies, like a superhero character. 

With regards to the low points, the little boy was irritating and he brought this film down, whilst the villains were rednecks who lacked charisma and they weren't anything of substanceThe fight between Sho Kosugi and Rutger Hauer was all right and I expected a lot more out of it. Kosugi is severely underutilised and thus it was a shame he didn't appear until right towards the end of the movie. 

The film's set-up bears some similarities to the (unmemorable) Daredevil superhero movie with Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Garner, but Blind Fury is a tad better than that film. 





Final Verdict:

Fans of action movies and action B-movies cannot do worse than settle for this B-movie effort and much like with Wanted: Dead or Alive, I enjoy Rutger Hauer as the good guy and Blind Fury is a bit of a rarity as a movie, as there is nothing quite like this that has been attempted, right after. It's also a light action movie and nothing too heavy that non-fans of action movies cannot sink their teeth into themselves. 

Not a great movie, but as a film of its own making, as unique in its execution, it still gets more right that is good. 



Overall:




Tuesday, 27 February 2018

⏪ Classic Cartoon Rewind: Pole Position (1984)

Pole Position
1984
Country of Origin: U.S
DIC Entertainment, Namco 
Number Of Episodes/Seasons: 13 episodes, 1 season
Characters: Tess Darrett, Dan Darrett, Daisy Darrett, Dr Zachery Darrett, Wheels, Roadie, Kuma
Ran from September 15 - December 8, 1984
Episode length: 25 mins
Aired on: BBC1, CBS, The Family Channel (now Freeform)
'Hey-o!, hey-o! hey-o!'

Pole Position was created by DIC and it lasted for just one short-lived season of 13 episodes on Saturday mornings at fall during CBS's children's block in 1984. It also aired in the UK on BBC1 via CBBC and as part of the cartoon segment of Going Live. Following on from Pac- Man & Saturday Supercade, Pole Position became the latest animated kids TV series based on a video game property. Coincidentally, the impending arrival of Pole Position debuted at a time when the video game industry crashed. 

Dr Zachary Darrett, who is also the uncle to the kids, leads the group. He of whom also became the caretaker/legal guardians of his brother's children, Dan & Tess, now orphans, after Zach's brother and his wife, who were stunt performers, were killed in an unfortunate car accident. Both Tess and Dan inherited the role and thus, took over their duties and to carry out their traditions & parents' dangerous work in numerous shows. They also find the time to investigate and thwart criminal activities. 

Tess, the eldest sibling was the big sister and leader of the Pole Position team, who likes to get things done whilst younger brother, Dan was a bit of a hot-head and has a bit of a tendency to goof around also. They also had a younger sister in Daisy, who is very playful and infectious, who had a pet cat-thing named Kuma that resembled a fusion of a racoon and a cat. She also aspires to be a race car driver and follow in Dan and Tess's footsteps. I thought it was a little bit weird that as Daisy, Dan and Tess were all siblings they had different coloured hair. Tess was a Brunette, Dan was blond and Daisy was a red-head. 

Despite the fact that Pole Position didn't make a lot of hot noise and didn't garner as big of a fan base as say Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats back in the day, it is still notable for being one of the earliest writing credits for Chuck Lorre, who later went on to pen another animated series in Heathcliff, as well as network TV sitcoms, Two & A Half Men, Roseanne, Cybill, Dharma & Greg & The Big Bang Theory. That it still manages to garner a small following to this day, it is down to a number of factors. Interesting good guy characters, the family affair aspect with Dan, Tess and Daisy, cool looking cars and a few neat plotlines. The show also employs a bad guy of the week, similar to Scooby Doo, as opposed to the main villain. 

As much as people tuned in just for the cars and speed car chases, as one would do with a premise such as this, as I rewatched it as an adult I've also grown accustomed to the bond that the siblings share. I just found this show really neat, despite its faults, such as the bad editing and this show wasn't perfect, but I liked the characters and the idea of having various storylines and not just race scenes. Some people didn't like Dan because they find him whiney and annoying & too much of a doofus, but he was all right. I also think that in Tess, she is one of the most underrated female cartoon characters: determined, strong but still remaining level-headed and I liked her characterisation and how she comes across. I've never been bothered by the main characters, nor found either of them irritating. I also found it refreshing to see a cartoon series with a family of siblings as protagonists; there are not many shows that are like this and the concept was cool. 

The animation was good, really liked the character designs and some intriguing plots but thus, it's a shame Pole Position was given the boot like with so many cartoons and was never given time to develop fully.

As a whole, it's not amazing, but I liked this show and it's pretty decent.  
      


                               
            


Sources:                                         

Wikipedia - Pole Position (1984)

Wikipedia - Chuck Lorre                                                       


Saturday Mornings Forever - Pole Position


The Big Cartoon Database

Monday, 26 February 2018

Retro Review: When A Man Loves A Woman (1994)

When A Man Loves A Woman
1994
Cast: Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia, Lauren Tom, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn 
Genre: Romantic Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $50 million 

Plot: The seemingly perfect relationship between a man and his wife is tested as a result of her alcoholism 






'Alcoholic Movie Anonymous' 

Executively co-produced by Ronald Bass alongside two other executive producers and written by Bass himself and Al Franken, the previews and the trailer gave a misleading impression that this would be an endlessly sappy and mawkish affair that would take away from not only the viewing experience but the story itself. Thankfully, it so happens that this wasn't the case; but at the same time, it felt like a TV movie that isn't much to write home about.

Meg Ryan as Alice almost sheds her cutesy image as an alcoholic trying to battle her demons; her almost incredibly nuanced performance tinges on sadness, despair and frustration when she is on the verge of losing a battle she tries to control her urges. 

The pace plods on and yet in doing so the emotional aspects did hit home in some instances that it should do, and like with all of Ronald Bass's movies, it has that TV movie- feel in its tone and approach which makes it too lightweight for its own measure. I also winced through the syrupy title track of the movie, and a song that is one of my most loathed songs, ever.

I enjoyed the performances by the little girls and Andy Garcia but as it went on, the film as a drama didn't get right to the heart of the issue at hand and writer, Bass didn't delve further enough. The story isn't fully fleshed out with plotlines that don't appear to be followed through as in-depth as it should have. I don't expect very detailed explanations that would have taken away the audience's attention, but I wished it was a tad more realistic and with a script that took more risks.

When A Man Loves A Woman is not the romantic drama it has been dubbed as and it is more akin to a Lifetime movie, but thanks to Andy Garcia, the young daughters, it's not so bad. Meg Ryan is a good actress, but seeing her character being difficult and dislikeable and frustrated as a boozy wife was a bit of a frustrating watch at times. I do think she can handle dramas that take her away from her rom-com image & showing her conviction as a dramatic actress, but with difficult and cagey subjects she hasn't completely shown her absolute versatility. She just hasn't had more of those opportunities and when they arrive, very few are good. & when she does a complete 180 - like with In The Cut 10 years after this movie, other than being a terrible movie, - she comes off as being intolerant and dislikable as her character/s. 

Ronald Bass has had a long history of successful movies that have made well over $50-60 million each. Some examples being Stepmom, Waiting To Exhale and The Joy Luck Club. But as admirable as most of his efforts are, sometimes, he approaches themes and storylines with little potency and not enough meat to make it mind-blowing. The sheer pain and ugliness of alcoholism, but for one latter confrontation scene with Alice and Michael, are never realised to make the type of impact it ought to do and Alice's problems never escalated to such levels that were so bad and so life-threatening enough to me to not only show concern towards herself, but for Michael, Amy & the kids. 

Because that didn't happen, it just felt like that pay-off wasn't so assured. 






Final Verdict:

When the film finished, I just felt the execution by Ronald Bass and Luis Mandoki wasn't quite spectacular enough to be truly memorable for years to come and whilst Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan do well individually, I wasn't able to buy into them as a couple and their chemistry didn't come through for me. 


I did like the last scene, but that was scant consolation for what should have been a movie that should have turned out to be something truly special and worthwhile. At best it is moderately sufficient, but its handling of the subject matter just wasn't as credible and that it lacked depth. 



Overall:

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Mini Movie Review: Sabotage (2014) #badmovies

Sabotage
2014
Action



Hideous and mean-spirited action movie with abominable so-called protagonist lead characters. Every 5 seconds or mins the F-word is blurted out, dialogue is beyond horrible with curse words thrown in as the writer sees fit, when at times it is unnecessary. It's a poor attempt at being a mystery and cop action flick. This is a low for Schwarzenegger, who doesn't get to beat up the bad guys, but also for Terrence Howard, who I thought was a respectable actor who put in great turns in Hustle & Flow & The Best Man, but this sunk him to a new low - and if it didn't, it should have. Schwarzenegger's character got better as it went on, whilst the good guy female cop was all right, however. The group of DEA agents stash $10 million, which they were supposed to destroy and when they return, they discover it has gone missing. The members are then murdered one by one, with Arnie's character figuring out who is the traitor in his team. The main characters are so abrasive, their obnoxiousness is so overwhelming. The only joy I got out of this film is seeing each one of them die. Otherwise, this is utterly unmemorable. 


Is It Worth Watching?

For me, this wasn't. For Arnie completists, perhaps so, but it is arguably not worth it


Overall:

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Mini Retro Review: Uncaged (1991) #badmovies

Uncaged
1991
Erotic Thriller



Also known as Angel In Red is an erotic thriller with a young, lean, handsome- looking Jeffrey Dean Morgan, years before Watchmen, Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead, as a nasty pimp named Sharkey who drives a nice looking car. Here, he is almost unrecognisable and has that Italian Stallion Joey of Friends look going for him and beats some woman to death who tries to leave him and some guy in a bar. The picture quality is low grade as expected for a Z-movie, the characters are well nothing, action isn't good and it's your typical straight- to- DVD Z-movie trash. Shoddy editing, cheap feel and for a so-called erotic thriller, there is hardly any sexual nudity. Film is bland and at almost 2 hours, this is unforgivable. 


Is It Worth Watching?


One for die-hard fans of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's only 



Overall:

Friday, 23 February 2018

Hook Movie Screenshots (1991) Part 10

Hook 
1991











Retro Review: P.S. I Love You (2007)

P.S I Love You
2007
Cast: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, Harry Connick Jr, Jeffrey Dean Morgan 
Genre: Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross; over $156 million 

Plot: A young widow discovers her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain & start a new life







'Lightweight Drama That Unfortunately Skips The Realities Of Life After Death'


The question of love after death has been explored before in the 1990 smash hit, Ghost and writer-director, Richard LaGravanese further delves into this aspect in this romantic drama that veers towards TV movie territory. Besides that, the so-called romantic drama, P.S I Love You opts for a tone that takes the film away from the potency and drama, which this film needed more of, the fact it chooses to go down the lighter path and tries to avoid what it is so afraid of saying in its subject matter, brings this film down a notch. 

After the unforeseen death of her Irish husband, Gerry from a brain tumour - which isn't shown onscreen - which shatters her heart, American wife, Holly comes across some letters, some which are written, others in audio form, that he wrote for her before he passed away, and in these letters are instructions on how she's supposed to spend and live each day. Through this, it acts as the healing process as Holly grieves and mourns his death and eventually coming to terms with the fact that she has to move forward - if she is to ever get over this trauma. 

Hilary Swank is a good actress in dramatic roles, but romantic drama/comedy is not her territory, and rather Reese Witherspoon, who has proven in Just Like Heaven or Jennifer Garner would have been the better fit for this type of vehicle and who would have provided that girl-next-door charm, in addition to the softer qualities that Swank doesn't manage to carve out. The supporting roles, on the other hand, feel a tad more sufficient with post- Friends' Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon and Buffy The Vampire Slayer's James Marsters faring better than Swank and her co-star, Gerard Butler as Irishman Gerry. I was surprised by Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Irish accent; it sounded very convincing and he hasn't disappointed me in any of his roles so far. Yet he is still appealing on- screen when he's not trying to be. I'd take him over Javier Bardem, but hey that's me. 

LaGravanese's efforts have been a mixed bag, but when he is a really good writer & gives it everything, it evidently shows in The Fisher King (despite how patchy that was in places), The Bridges of Madison County and Living Out Loud, where he manages to tap into the emotional arc of the romantic aspect of those movies. Yet with Freedom Writers, he hasn't been able to grind out that depth that is expected. & sadly, with P.S. I Love You, the film makes that same mistake here. It never truly expands on its idea. The so-called lighter moments, like the Karaoke singing, were occasionally cringe and weren't really amusing when they tried to be. In such a film that is truly crying out for a screenplay that treats its subject matter, as difficult as it is, with more gusto, thought and serious intention, P.S I Love You is just not that movie. Which is a crying shame, as the idea is good, but the execution lacks weight with an opening as awkward as it was. The one good thing is that it didn't descend into a dark and dreary territory, but still, it feels too lightweight & one-note with a ductile and insipid screenplay and such cloying sentimentality when it should have been more forceful and punchy and the film was approached seriously. 

Ultimately, in consideration of the whole film, P.S I Love You is rather mediocre that as heartfelt as it tries to be, I just wasn't able to connect with the characters and nor feel for them. The Fisher King and Living Out Loud got by, thanks partly to Robin Williams, mostly Mercedes Reuhl and to an extent Jeff Bridges with the latter by Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah in Living Out Loud to help elevate the film further. Yet with this movie, there are really no standout performances; clearly, there is just not one actor who was able to deliver that killer turn or performance that wholeheartedly moved me on an emotional level and made me go: 'that makes me love this film just as much'

That was just not the case with P.S I Love You




Final Verdict

In its consideration of human relationships and love in the aftermath of death, Richard LaGravanese's lacklustre approach is also so hollow and misguided, it veritably flies in the face of what it should amount to and unfortunately, this kills all the momentum P.S I Love You had. Its underwhelming execution just flat out offers little in the way of being a truly satisfying and meaningful drama of what it means to live a life, after years of personal loss and tragedy. 


P.S? more like B.S I (don't) Love You.



Overall:

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Movie Review: Heist (2015)

Heist aka Bus 257
2015
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kate Bosworth, Dave Bautista, Morris Chestnut, Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Genre: Crime Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $4 million

Plot: A father is without a means to pay for his daughter's medical treatment. As a last resort, he partners up with a greedy co-worker to rob a casino. When things go awry, they're forced to hijack a city bus





'Nothing Special, But Favourable Turns By Bautista & Morgan Make It A Ok'

Heist comes off as a generic & relatively subpar crime heist and action movie in the vein of Speed that whilst it doesn't do anything grand to shake up the formula and is derivative as it is, it still manages to entertain due to the performances by the main two of Dave Bautista and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whose presence made up for the lack of good action, which it needed more of.

The first half of the film takes place in a casino heist, with the second half on a bus and operating like the 1994 movie, Speed with the passengers on board of a transit bus. When I think about it, Heist is John Q, which starred Denzel Washington, meets Speed: that is probably the best way to describe this movie. 

De Niro's Frank Silva aka The Pope is a mob boss, who smokes E-cigarettes and runs a glitzy casino named 'The Swan' with Dean Morgan as card-dealer, Luke Vaughn and Dave Bautista as a bodyguard in Cox. Luke used to be The Pope's right-hand man, but who walked away from a life of crime to turn over a new leaf by starting a family. Now divorced Luke has an ex-wife who is watching over their sick daughter in the hospital. Derrick is The Pope's new protege and replacement for Luke, who is far nastier than his predecessor & who has no qualms bending the rules & in disposing associates and people who choose to do The Pope wrong. Vaughn's daughter faces the inevitable of being taken off the transplant list, with him struggling financially. When Frank turns down Vaughn's request of $300,000 needed to foot the bill for his little girl's treatment, he teams up with Cox and the two out of desperation rob the casino and they are forced to flee on foot and end up on the run from the police. Vaughn and Cox hijack a bus and hold the passengers' hostage, whilst onboard. These token passenger characters - a few blondes, a pregnant woman, a Black guy, Asian dude, slightly crazed guy with a knife - are forgettable however and no attempts are made to carve out personalities and thus, they are unmemorable. At the end of the film, I couldn't remember who they were, nor did I care. The police are on their trail and follow the bus, with Luke finding an unlikely ally in the female cop, who senses he is a decent guy, much more so than Cox. With the authorities closing in, Vaughn has to figure out a way how to get out of this situation, alive and get the money back for his daughter's medical treatment. 

The performances are of a B-movie level as seen in many other straight- to- DVD action flicks, although, in Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and perhaps Dave Bautista, their turns are far more efficient and favourable in contrast to the others. Dean Morgan is the rational and level-headed one as Vaughn with Bautista as the irrational one and a loose cannon, who loses his cool at times. They were actually rather sound and pretty good, and that is what separates this film to say Exit Speed, which was a nifty little action B-movie, in itself, where the action was pretty good, yet there weren't many credible performances to come out of it. Meanwhile, it is sad to see Robert De Niro go down this path as Pope, having had years of massive success with movies such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, Awakenings, these days much like with Nicolas Cage, he has been reduced to (so-called garbage like) Dirty Grandpa and doing Z-movie, direct- to- DVD movies. De Niro, does, however, try to not so much elevate himself above the film, rather give the movie some clarity and quality. His character subplots felt awfully tired, however. The rest of the actors seem to be phoning it in with one-time teen heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar aka Zack Morris of Saved By The Bell as a dirty cop and Morris Chestnut unconvincing as the villain. 

I was a little disappointed in the last half hour; it turned out in a way that not only did I not expect, but I expected the pay-off to be a lot more rewarding with Vaughn literally beating up the bad guys and finishing them off. But no. 

But whilst as a big picture, it wouldn't stack up so well, as a little action B-movie, Heist takes bits from action films and carves out something that is actually not too bad. With more polish around the edges, more action sequences and challenging script and further smoothing out the dynamics between Dean Morgan, Bautista, Gosselaar and De Niro's characters and giving them some further depth, that would have made it even better. 





Final Verdict:

Unlike other straight to DVD action thrillers and films of this type, it did hold my attention and movie-wise, Heist is almost on par with Exit Speed. The latter has more in terms of action, whilst the former compared to Exit Speed has the better casting. Still, at best, this is decent and is in no way a 5-star movie and it needed to be more action-oriented, although it makes more of an effort, thanks to Dean Morgan, Bautista and De Niro, who put in some effort through their turns. 

For me, they save it from this movie being even poorer. 

Just don't expect a masterpiece out of this one.


Overall:

Hook Movie Screenshots (1991) Part 9

(aka the Robin Williams & Julia Roberts onscreen kiss)

Hook
1991
Studio: Tristar Pictures/Amblin Entertainment 











   











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