Shitty Movie Sundays: Samurai Cop

Samurai Cop, the 1991 stinker from writer/director/producer/editor Amir Shervan, has more shitty filmmaking moments than are possible to recount in any review of reasonable length. Here’s a sample:

  • Fight scenes and car chases have sped up footage to simulate quickness. It’s not subtle, either — approaching Benny Hill Show levels of speed.
  • A great deal of dialogue was recorded in post. That’s not unusual. But Shervan did many of the voices himself, dubbing the voices of stars and bit players, alike. That is unusual.
  • There are a lot of cops in this flick. Many of them wear uniforms. Some of those uniforms don’t have badges.
  • Star Mathew Karedas cut his glorious locks after principal shooting wrapped, but was called back months later for reshoots. Shervan put a ridiculous wig on his head with little regard to whether or not it looked right. It does not look right. In at least one scene, it briefly popped off of Karedas’s head.

Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Samurai Cop”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Truck Stop Women

What a relentless pile of exploitative schlock. They don’t make them like this, anymore. The combination of online mob outrage, and the actual progressive growth of our morals, makes a flick like this a difficult proposition in the 21st century. Even watching this film, and a whole plethora of its contemporaries, can make a viewer feel a little squirrely, as if they were doing something wrong. This is one of those flicks that can make a person feel ashamed of being entertained. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. Truck Stop Women is wonderfully shitty. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Truck Stop Women”

Empty Balcony: Mr. Majestyk, or, Charles Bronson is Charles Bronson in Charles Bronson: The Movie

All Vince Majestyk (Charles Bronson) wants to do is get his melons in. But, ole Vinnie has an insatiable need to antagonize everyone he meets, resulting in some very bad people wanting him very dead.

From 1974, Mr. Majestyk was directed by the prolific filmmaker Richard Fleischer, from a screenplay by none other than legendary crime novelist Elmore Leonard. It’s also just about the perfect Charles Bronson flick. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Mr. Majestyk, or, Charles Bronson is Charles Bronson in Charles Bronson: The Movie”

Empty Balcony: The Raid 2

Despite how much I liked The Raid, my review of the film ended up being a little thin. That’s because, while there was much to recommend, the film was overwhelmed by its violence. It took all the hard work that went into the sets, the music, the costumes, even the acting of the leads, and rendered it subservient to the majesty of the violence. As it turns out, that’s because the only thing to survive writer/director Gareth Evans sprawling vision of crime, police corruption, and kickass martial arts, was the violence, owing to a budget that precluded any grand scope. The success of The Raid opened the taps more for the follow-up, and allowed Evans to explore in-depth themes that were forced to remain on the periphery in the first film. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: The Raid 2”

Empty Balcony: The Raid

A million bucks must go a long way in Indonesia. That’s all the money writer/director Gareth Evans had on hand to film The Raid (released in the U.S. as The Raid: Redemption). Despite that tiny budget, Evans constructed a spectacular action flick, packed so full of visual and auditory stimuli that just watching it can make a viewer feel a little drained by the end. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: The Raid”

The Empty Balcony: The Equalizer

Once upon a time there was television show called The Equalizer that ran on CBS. It was successful enough to last for four seasons and 88 episodes. I don’t know if that’s significant. Any show that runs on American network television for four years and 88 episodes is a success, but it’s not a smash. In fact, The Equalizer was and is somewhat of an anonymous show. It’s curious that in the age of remakes and reboots, someone in Hollywood chose to resurrect this show and make it a movie. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Equalizer”

The Empty Balcony: Thief

Thief, the debut feature film from writer/director Michael Mann, is a bit of a relic. The 1980s were a weird time, when the progressions of style were suddenly upended and everything went day-glo. Even music changed, utilizing the cost-effective yet grating sound of synthesizers. Michael Mann embraced this decade with gusto, finding a ready home in all the glitz and glamour. His style of filmmaking is so intertwined with the 1980s that I can’t figure out which informed the other. The style is a distinctive one that viewers can readily recognize. But it all had to start somewhere. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Thief”

Schwarzenegger Month: Raw Deal

This movie is Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cusp. After Conan and The Terminator, people knew who he was, he was a legitimate star, and this earned him more roles. But he was still making movies for Dino De Laurentiis. That man was a producing legend, but not always for the best reasons. For every Blue Velvet or Serpico, there were about five or six Maximum Overdrives. De Laurentiis movies look cheap, like the filmmakers that made them didn’t have the cash they needed, or weren’t competent filmmakers in the first place. Raw Deal was the last De Laurentiis film with Arnold to hit theaters, and Arnold was probably glad about that. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Raw Deal”

The Empty Balcony: The Yellow Sea

The Yellow SeaIf you can follow the plot of The Yellow Sea, the Korean film from 2010 written and directed by Na Hong-Jin, then you must be Korean, or at least speak the language fluently. Those are the only reasons I can think of why so many western viewers online, including myself, found this flick’s plot to be confusing, at best, and impenetrable, at worst. The good news is that doesn’t matter. Normally, when a movie has a plot that I can’t follow, that is a bad thing. Not so with The Yellow Sea. About halfway through, I gave up on trying to keep track of all the twists and turns, and just sat back and enjoyed one of the best action films that has hit cinemas in this decade.

Gu-nam (Ha Jung-woo) has a problem. He’s an ethnic Korean born and raised in northern China, which has its disadvantages, apparently. He is what is known as a Joseonjok, a blanket term for ethnic Koreans in the country. In order to finance a better life, Gu-nam goes into debt with some local coyotes to arrange transportation to South Korea for his wife. Because the standard of living in South Korea is so much higher than in China, she should be able to work and send back enough money to Gu-nam to pay off the debt to the coyotes and finance a trip down to the peninsula for both Gu-nam and the couple’s young child. But, something goes wrong. Gu-nam’s wife has been in Seoul for months, and nary a check has arrived. On top of that, the coyotes want their cash. In desperate straits, Gu-nam agrees to be smuggled in to South Korea on a fishing boat, to carry out a hit for a Joseonjok gangster, with the understanding that the debt will be paid. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Yellow Sea”