Empty Balcony: Point Break

It’s somewhat amazing, but Point Break, the 1991 action flick from director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter W. Peter Iliff, has become a classic. It’s a film that’s loaded with contemporary action tropes. It’s also one of the flicks that, despite its success, can be pointed to as partly responsible for the downfall of 1980s-style action films. It has aged well over time, but when it came out it was an eye-roller. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Point Break”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The New Gladiators, aka Warriors of the Year 2072, aka I guerrieri dell’anno 2072

Warriors of the Year 2072Television is a tough racket. Just ask the employees of WBS TV. In the future, the year 2072, to be precise, WBS has a hit show on their hands. It’s called The Danger Game, where contestants are hooked up to a machine that pumps visions of bloody torture directly into their brains. If they endure the torture without panicking, they win. It’s a successful show for the discerning TV consumer of the dystopian future, but it’s still getting beaten in the ratings by Kill Bike — a show featuring riders on motorbikes engaging in some poorly filmed jousting.

The mysterious head of WBS, Sam (Giovanni Di Benedetto), has a new idea for a show that should get WBS back on top of the ratings. Essentially, WBS is going to steal the idea of Kill Bike, but WBS will increase the stakes. The contestants will all be convicted murderers, and they will battle to the death in the famed Coliseum of Rome.

The New Gladiators was released in 1984, and is part of the wave of cheap Italian sci-fi that found inspiration following the successes of the Mad Max films and Escape from New York, among many others. This particular film, from famed b-movie auteur Lucio Fulci, borrows from those two films, while still finding enough room to cram in heaping amounts of Rollerball, Blade Runner, and A Clockwork Orange. Most impressively, Fulci was able to reach forward through time and steal ideas from The Running Man (all joking aside, the similarities are enough that I have to think the people behind The Running Man were Fulci fans). Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The New Gladiators, aka Warriors of the Year 2072, aka I guerrieri dell’anno 2072″

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 readingEmpty Balcony: The Raid 2″