Thursday, August 28, 2008

Luke Skywalker = Samurai

While to some of you this may be old news, I was surprised to read the other day that Tarantino is not the only director to take his ideas from old Kurosawa films. Turns out, George Lucas has also admitted to the influence of the japanese director on his very own Star Wars: A New Hope. 

I had no idea, and frankly, I was a little upset at first. I felt disoriented and confused. Star Wars has always been to me the original and complete telling of the hero's paradigm. But to hear that the first sparks of creativity for Lucas' opus were not his own threw me for a loop.

Since then I've calmed a bit. Most of the internet sources claim that Lucas only loosely based C-3PO and R2-D2 on Kurosawa characters. I think I can live with that. If it had been Han Solo or, god forbid, Obi-Wan, I would have been a bit more distraught.

Hidden Fortress, the Kurosawa film of interest, is next in my queue and, rest assured, I will give my full analysis right here on Action Direct once I've watched it. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mini Joker

I don't know about you, but I was an avid collector of all different kinds of action figures. To this day, it pains me to think about losing both my rubber head Raphael and my brother's original Stormshadow G.I. Joe. 

Maybe I can make it up to him with this 1/6 scale Joker action figure, to be released by Hot Toys. The thing has 32 points of articulation! Amazing! 

Check out more photos at /film.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Woody Harrelson to Star in Zombieland

I had to post this for two reasons. First, I love Woody Harrelson. And second, I love zombies. To hear that the two will be together in a movie called Zombieland makes me all tingly. 

Woody will play a character named Albuquerque (which is a great name and also my home town) who is "the most frightened guy on Earth" in a world overrun by zombies. Apparently, the title refers to "an old funeral home that is turned into a morbid attraction called Zombieland". 

Sounds a little stupid, but we'll have to wait and see. Check out this Zombieland game in the meantime.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Tribute

Where were you when you first watched The Matrix? I remember that it was a Thursday, the day after its release. I had just turned 16 and my friend Jack and I went to see it on a lark. The hype still wasn't out yet and I don't think anybody knew just how amazing it was going to be. My god, I was blown away.

Now when was the last time you watched The Matrix? Too long ago, I'll bet. Much like the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones, the greatness that was The Matrix was tarnished by sequels (and prequels). But lest we forget that there was once a dream called The Matrix. This is a tribute to that dream. 

I still believe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

If you can't laugh at yourself...

Well, he is one of the most highly accredited action stars of the late 80s/90s, but we haven't seen Jean Claude Van Damme in a new film in quite some time. Suffice to say, his career isn't exactly in its prime. That's why it warms my heart to see the man star in a parody based on his very own action styled movies coming out soon in Toronto. Apparently, it is set in his homeland of Belgium, but beyond that, who knows what kind of crazy, terrorist ridden, kung fu packed, splits doing hijinx will ensue. I'm interested to see what they come up with. Take a look at Reuters report here for more details. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Poster Challenge

One of our reader's sent me this link the other day, and I'll be god damned if I only got a handful of them correct! I must not be the most visual learner. 

Give it a shot and tell me what you get.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Over the Top (1987)

For the longest time I thought that I had seen this movie. I used the "over the top" move every time I got into an arm wrestling match and referenced it whenever it made sense to reference an movie about a truck driver named Hawk who dominates the underground arm wrestling rings. But when I sat down to watch Over the Top last night, it became apparent in the first five minutes that I had never seen it before. Go figure.

So let's talk about Over the Top, starring Sly Stallone as Lincoln Hawk. The story goes something like this: When Lincoln Hawk's ex-wife falls ill, she asks him to pick up their son from military school and drive him home. Hawk pick's up his ten-year old son, Michael (who he hasn't seen since he walked out on his wife for no good reason) and starts on what proves to be a road trip to remember. Michael is first hesitant to get to know his father and confused about how to feel (or at least, that's what his acting coach told him to think about). But after witnessing Stallone stomp some big dude at a truck stop at arm wrestling, Michael starts to think a little different. Long story short, Hawk's wife dies and her father wants to take custody of Michael. Instead, Hawk goes to Vegas and wins the national arm wrestling championship... Michael and Lincoln Hawk live happily ever after.

Okay, the truth is I was a little disappointed  in the lack of action in this movie. There is lots of really good arm wrestling. In fact, I've never seen better arm wrestling footage. But there was almost no fighting, no gunshots, very little badassery. Plus, the kid in this movie (David Mendenhall) is hugely annoying. A look at IMDB shows that his career has since amounted to a couple of Law and Order episodes as well as a cameo on "A Pup Named Scooby Doo". Next, I don't really care for much of the story. It didn't bother me when the mother died on the operating table or when the kid cries "You were never there when we needed you!" But I was pretty pumped when Stallone tells his kid, "Wait here. Daddy'd got to work." and then proceeds to win a $1000 arm wrestling. Very nice.

The good thing about this movie is Stallone. I'm pretty sure the entire point of this film was to showcase Stallone's right bicep. It's is huge! And get this, the guy drives around in a semi truck with a weight-lifting machine set up to work out his right arm exclusively. I'm surprised he doesn't look more like Freddy Rodriguez in Lady in the Water the way he works that thing. The second best thing about Over the Top is the arm wrestling competition in the end. It's awesome. They treat it like an ESPN television program, cutting to interviews with the contestants in between matches. Hilarious! 

Check out this montage of the final tournament.

Anyway, it's a fun movie worth renting and watching with your best friends and a six-pack of beer. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do it Baracky!

I especially like that they chose Mr. T for McCain. Keep an eye out for Michelle Obama. She makes a few pretty great appearances in this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cool New Art from Gallery 1988

This place in LA, Gallery 1988, is doing some pretty cool sutff. Next up is there Crazy 4 Cult 2 exhibition. This piece is by a guy named Sean Clauretie. 

Check out some of the other cool pieces here and here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Time Travel Just Ain't Easy

I was watching Timecop on my pirated copy of every Van Damme film ever made the other day and could not help but wince at the hoard of time travel no-no's. This is a movie that has some great action, and arguably the best intro scene to a Van Damme film ever, but makes almost no attempt to account for the issues associated with traveling to and from the past. It is just horrible.

So has there ever been a movie that does a good job with time travel? The answer is of course, yes. Back to the Future was genius and I'm a huge fan of Primer. But neither of these is without its flaws. Not by a long shot. Rephrase the question; has there ever been a good action movie that does a good job with time travel? Well, again, the answer is yes. So here they are, my top five action movies that involve time travel
  1. The Terminator (1984) - Need I say anything about the Terminator? The basic premise is this, the rise of the machines is inevitable. But in the future, John Connor leads the resistance against the machines. One machine is sent back in time to terminate John Connor's mother, Sarah. A human is sent back to protect her and impregnates her along the way. The resulting child grows up to be John Connor. Yes!

  2. The Terminator 2 (1991) - Similar to the first, except this time the machines send back a more sophisticated machine to kill John Connor while he is a kid. The humans rise to the challenge by sending back their own machine, although one of lesser technology, to protect young John.

  3. 12 Monkeys (1995) - A virus has forced the human population underground, supposedly by a secret army called the 12 Monkeys. In the future, scientists use a crude and inexact form of time travel to send back convicts on reconnaissance missions. One time traveler, James Cole, is particularly successful at unearthing clues about the 12 Monkeys. Inadvertently, Cole winds up enabling the spread of the killer virus, and the cycle starts all over.

  4. Flight of the Navigator (1986) - Okay, admittedly, not an action movie. And also not your traditional time travel story. David Scott Freeman falls in a ravine and wakes up 8 years later having maintained his youth while the rest of the world aged on. Scientific experiments reveal the blueprints to an unidentified aircraft which the military recently discovered. David and the craft are eventually reunited and proceed to fly all over the universe together. In the end, David opts to return to 1978 rather than live a life of a NASA guinea pig.

  5. The Butterfly Effect (2004) - Also not an action movie, really. But definitely a surprisingly good thriller. From a young age, the Kutch suffers from blackouts. A doctor advises him to keep journals which seems to solve the problem. When he revisits his notebooks as a college student, he finds that he is able to relive those moments in which he blacked out as a child and change the past. Each time he does so, he changes the future in ways that he doesn't anticipate, ultimately affecting those around him. Eventually, Kutcher is forced to go back to the beginning and take himself out of the lives of those that he loves most to protect them. One of the cool things about this movie is the alternate ending where the Kutch goes back to when he's still a babe in his mother's womb and strangles himself with his umbilical cord, thereby ending the pain.
All right, not a comprehensive list, I'll agree. But a good one. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Much Bond, So Little Time

OMG! This is amazing! Every James Bond title to date can be yours for less than 100 clams, or bones, or whatever you call them. 

If my mother is reading, please add this to Casey's Xmas list.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Action Direct in Real Life

In the spirit of the Olympics, and since climbing is not an Olympic sport, I give you Dai Koyamada climbing Action Direct (which also happens to be the namesake of this blog).

I know this is not on topic. But I found it, and I just thought it was too badass not to post. I hope you liked it.

Boba Fett Does the Mandalorian Dance

I always knew that Boba Fett had a lighter, more creative side to him.

Priceless. Thanks to /film for this one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LadyHawke (1985)

I've been meaning to do this review for quite some time now. I was inspired to revisit this movie after I heard an interview with Rutger Hauer on Movie Geeks United about his new autobiography, All those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Bladerunners (review to come). I'm a huge Hauer fan, originally for his performance in Blind Fury and then later for his pure badassery in Bladerunner. He's amazing, and I love him...

In any case, this review is about the classic fantasy-action film Ladyhawke, starring Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Matthew Broderick. It's a pretty epic tale. The story goes like this:

Captain Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer) was once the captain of the guard at Aquila. But when the powerful Bishop of Aquila finds that Navarra and Lady Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) are in love, he curses them in a jealous rage. Navarre and Isabeau escape from Aquila, but not from the Bishop's curse, which changes Navarre into a wolf by night and Isabeau into a hawk by day. The two wonder the country as forsaken lovers until they happen upon Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick), the Mouse who is himself on the run after escaping from the dungeons of Alquila. Navarre forces Phillipe to lead them into Alquila so that he might exact his revenge upon the Bishop. Along the way, Phillipe and the cursed duo become friends. In the end, with the help of the monk who betrayed Navarre and Isabeau to the Bishop, the Bishop's curse is broken and the Bishop gets his just deserves. Fin.

Classic, right? I love it. The metaphors are unmistakable: Navarre who is human by day wears only black. Isabeau, woman by night, wears only white. It's a clear-cut story of good and evil. Simple, but effective. I particularly like the role that Broderick plays in this movie. At first, he is depcited as a crafty thief with little to no courage, and even less loyalty. But by the end, the Mouse takes on the role of a kind of relationship broker for Navarre and Isabeau, whose relationship is suffering under the burden of the curse. He uses his wit and talent as a liar to convince Navarre that their love is worth saving, as opposed to killing the Bishop and in essence, giving up hope.

There are also some pretty good fight scenes here. The first time we meet Navarre, he takes down about 50 (or maybe five) of the guards from Alquila, including the new captain. But before he fights them, one of the guards recognizes Navarre, and is still loyal to his old captain. Before he has a chance to greet Navarre, however, the new captain of the guard pushes him onto Navarre's gigantic sword. Ouch. But nice move.

Also, the Bishop goes down really hard, which I like. Imagine William Wallace's sword, and then imagine it being thrown like a spear and pinning a frailed old clergyman against the wall. That's basically what happens. Kind of like when Azim kills the witch in Robin Hood (By the by, I'm pretty sure that Kevin Reynolds watched this movie on repeat for about a month before he made Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, because the influence is unmistakable. The only thing he didn't steal was the awesome soundtrack, opting for a steaming pile of dog poo instead). 

Speaking of the soundtrack, get this, Ladyhawke actually was nominated for two (count 'em) Oscars! Both were sound related, which is hilarious given the intensely 80's techno soundtrack. No joke, it sounds like the theme music to Cutman's level in Megaman. Seriously, awesome.

As an added bonus, you get to see Alfred Molina (i.e. Doctor Octopus) get his head stuck in a wolf trap, literally.

Overall, I would say it's a must see. Especially if you are a Rutger Hauer fan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

If I Could Have One Power....

It would probably be the power of flight. But I'm sure some of you would consider invisibility as your top choice, possibly top three*? Well, today modern technology has taken us one step closer to attaining this particular dream. Looks like scientists have taken another step toward creating an invisibility cloak... or something along those lines. Look to the next edition of Nature and Science for details.

So, we're close to invisibility. Teleportation is in the works. When the hell is someone going to make a decent lightsaber?

* I personally don't rank invisibility that high because I saw how it messed up Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trekkie Porno

Call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed all of the Star Trek movies. That includes Star Trek: Generations. I wouldn't call myself a Trekkie by any means, but I will say that there was a time in my life when I watched The Next Generation daily. In any case, the talk on the street is that the new Star Trek movie is going to be pretty good. Evidently, at Comic Con they released some posters revealing the casting decisions of a few key players.

We have John Cho as Sulu (top left), Simon Pegg as Scotty (top right), Karl Urban as McCoy (bottom right) and Anton Yelchin as Chekov (bottom left). I guess each panel is available as an individual poster. You can check these out in higher resolution at TrekMovie.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Movie Remakes

Found this on Obsessed with Film, and I thought it was worth sharing. 

I would disagree that the remake of War of the Worlds was good and I actually liked the new Island of Doctor Moreau, but that's just me. 

What would you add to the list?

* The above pic is an exploding zombie head from the original Dawn of the Dead. I think this might be the best remake ever.

Ultraman and Megawoman Engaged!

Action Direct would like to take a minute to congratulate two of our readers on their recent engagement! 

Congratulations guys! 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who Would Win in a Fight: Samantha Caine versus Maggie Hayward

Some of our readers have noted the overt lack of female action stars featured on the blog. This one's for you guys (gals): 

Today's event pits Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) of Long Kiss Goodnight fame against Maggie Hayward (Bridget Fonda) from Point of No Return. I personally enjoy both of these movies (although I'll say now that Long Kiss Goodnight is a better movie). You know the drill, Samantha and Maggie are tossed into a concrete pit with nothing but their wits. Who would win in a (cat)fight?

Casey: Both of these characters are trained assassins. Sam is deadly with a knife and Maggie is a dead-eye. I think as long as Samantha Caine knows that she's a killer (i.e. her memory has returned), she takes this one. Over and over, Sam shows her ingenuity in tight spots with instinctual ease and surprising strength in Long Kiss Goodnight. Like when that bald guy with the crazy eye shoots an RPG at her and she uses the refrigerator as a shield. Or when she throws her daughter out of the window and into the tree house to protect her. She is tough and scares me a little bit. Plus, that platinum blond hair adds a degree of badassery which Maggie lacks. Further, any chick that makes Samuel Jackson think twice (especially a Sammy J playing a deadbeat private eye) is one that should not be underestimated. 

I just think that Sam is much more likely to get brutal in there. The way she ended the injured stag was enough to make me shiver. If it were a competition to take out a mark, well, then maybe Maggie would take it. She is crafty and extremely good with the sniper rifle. Plus, she's got balls (figuratively speaking). And she has that street kid mentality, which could go a long way. I guess it's possible that Maggie's desire to live a long and happy normal life with her boy-toy, Dermot Mulroney, could give her an extra edge. But the thing is, Sam is fighting for her family too. And nature tells us that maternal instinct is more powerful than fraternal.

Needless to say, it would be a hot fight. I would probably make sure that it was 107 degrees in the pit and only let them wear white cotton shirts... Chris?

Chris: Sam has got at least a 6" reach advantage over Maggie, and given the pit fight situation, I'd say that already has her in the lead. I guess you could argue that Maggie has a lower center of gravity, but we're not playing football here, this is a death match. I agree with Casey in that the motivation behind each character is strong, but he struck gold when he points out that Sam is fighting to protect her den of cubs. She'd be like a goddamn wolverine in a pit (especially considering that mouth of hers- it's fuckin' huge!), and Maggie would most likely end up on her back with a glassy eyed stare and her entrails laying all about her. Then Sam would smile with about 250 oversized teeth, climb out of the pit, and go home and cook a delicious casserole for the kids. 

A little more Watchmen to wet the palette...

I know we are going over the top with our promotion of the Watchmen, but I just can't help myself. Take a look at the making of the Owlship: 

You Definitely Are Too Old For This Shit

According to, Shane Black has written a spec script for Lethal Weapon 5, and both Gibson and Glover are interested. Apparently, the plot is something like this:

This time, homicidal Riggs (Mel Gibson) is about to retire, but pulls Murtaugh (Danny Glover) out of retirement to solve one final case, before they both officially head off into the sunset

I, for one, have mixed feelings. The truth is, I liked all of the first four installments. Jet Li definitely helped in the last one. But, I'm sorry, much of the charm that made Lethal Weapon lethal is now gone. Murtaugh is too old and Riggs settled down. This is no longer the story of a cop on the edge and his grounded, but also badass, partner. No, this is now the story of two over the hill cops telling stories about the time they got in a fight with Gary Busey.

I mean, I guess it could be all right. Riggs is still "homicidal", and I guess that helps.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All Van Damme All the Time

Back from Ghana, my friend Allon presented me with the one and only gift that every action junkie ardently desires: a single pirated DVD containing the entire Van Damme filmography!!!

Don't be surprised if for the next few weeks I am dropping not so subtle references to Sudden Death and Timecop.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hey Johnny!

Senator John McCain experienced a transient jump in the polls on Thursday when thousands of voters simultaneously realized that he had a cameo appearance in the 2005 film, Wedding Crashers.

Unconfirmed sources claim that Senator John McCain repeatedly asserted, "This is freaking sweet" while on the set.