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— DG PICK OF THE WEEK–
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING beat the direct-to-video taste out of my mouth. Consider for a moment that this is the fourth film in the franchise (sixth if you count the made-for-tv films) and that this features two aging stars of action (in small but important roles). But this entry has a badass x-factor by the name of Scott Adkins who’s the flavor of the month when it comes to punch-ups (he worked on this film just after THE EXPENDABLES 2). Adkins is no joke, this cat hits and hits hard. We’d like to see this guy working on his own film and US:DOR sets him up to do just that.
Here’s the set-up: John (Adkins) awakens from a coma to discover that his wife and daughter were killed in a home invasion and is looking for revenge on the perp: Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who is busy working with Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) on building a new order ruled by the Unisols. A perfect recipe for explosions, fights, chases, chaos, and surprisingly solid acting from Van Damme who is getting better just in time to get old and retire. Lundgren has never really been good and his awkward delivery isn’t any better here, but director Peter Hyams keeps things moving fast and even shows veteran skills in some of the quieter moments of the film (though there aren’t that many). This flick is fun as hell and was a genuine surprise.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK…
I have never been a Wes Craven fan and if you’re like me, this film isn’t going to be changing your mind. I think THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a masterpiece of visceral and dangerous cinema, I really enjoyed THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and though he has flirted with other solid films he never won me over. I think Craven is a guy with good ideas and horrendous execution. Even the first film in the franchise he started, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, is enjoyable but flawed. I was always a bigger fan of the sequels than the original but I digress. DEADLY BLESSING is a really mediocre film that is once again full of moments that work (spiders in the mouth) in a film that ultimately fails. Scream Factory was bound to have a bad film come out in their catalog and this is it; the extras don’t even seem to meet the quality we’ve come to expect from this label. A rare miss for the Scream team.
This is of course the remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s HARA-KIRI and it does just what any remake should: It owns the material, it deconstructs the original, and it never feels tired or even really familiar. This is Takashi Miike’s HARA-KIRI, just as THE THING was John Carpenter’s. Miike has his own opinions on the story and uses them to great effect. I was an avid admirer of his last remake, 13 ASSASSINS, but HARA-KIRI may be the one the next generation remembers. It is a really remarkable piece of cinema. Full review coming soon.
And speaking of Carpenter, here’s the film that inspired the fight in THEY LIVE. Not one of my favorite Wayne films, but damn what a great fight.
THIS was the kind of film I knew director David Ayer could make. While I liked his film HARSH TIMES and always thought his writing was solid (TRAINING DAY, DARK BLUE), this was the film that it felt like he had been building up to. I don’t know if it was always kicking around or if he felt he needed test runs through that universe via other projects, but this film is nothing short of flawless. A return to the type of filmmaking and storytelling that would have been right at home in the cinema of the 70s; using moments that are brutal and troubling contrasted with moments that are human and contemplative. All the performances in this film are of the highest caliber, but can we finally start getting Michael Peña some leading roles after this? The guy is solid in everything he’s in.
This is the first film in a planned trilogy and it feels like it. It has its foot planted firmly in the origins camp, which isn’t all-together bad. ZERO has moments when you can see the potential in a bigger story. More than worth a watch though.
This is destined to become a classic and I am pretty sure I am only half joking. Please watch this as part of a double with JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, the contrast may cause brain combustion.
This flick freaked the hell outta me when I was kid and it still has the same effect, probably even more so since I have two kids about the same age. This is still one of the best Stephen King adaptations and certainly one of the scariest. I haven’t seen this Blu-ray but let me complain for a moment; why the fuck is this a $20 Blu-ray? I would grab this for $10, and maybe consider $14.99, but at $20 I am going to be hunting the used market or waiting for the inevitable price drop.
Five reasons you should pick this up:
5. Fred Olen Ray
Written by David S. Goyer and directed by Albert Pyun (NEMESIS). I know I have seen this but it’s been nearly twenty years so your guess is as good as mine.
See the description for ARCADE, minus the Goyer and Pyun.
A full review is coming soon from No-Budget Nightmares so stay tuned. In the meantime, pick this up and support indie horror.
That’s it for this week, Bastards. We’ll be back next week with: THE DUELISTS (Blu), DIE HARD: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (Blu), WHITE ZOMBIE (Blu), THE OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (Blu). BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Pt2, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, and more.
HERE’S TO GOOD WATCHING THIS WEEK, SALUTE!
SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE
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