Friday, February 20, 2009

This is gonna take crackerjack timing, Wang.

Today I would like to kick off a celebration of one of our most beloved action heroes who has become a symbol of badassery that all red blooded americans can be proud to claim as their own. That's right my friends, I'm speaking of the master of mullets himself, Mr. Kurt Russell. This fine biter of bullets and kicker of asses has starred in many action classics over the years, appearing alongside such action greats as Sylvester Stallone, Jack Palance, Val Kilmer, Mel Gibson, Robert DeNiro,  and Ray Liota to name just a few. Casey and I intend to highlight some of our favorite selections over the coming weeks, starting with none other than his kung fu classic, Big Trouble in Little China. 

I was 7 years old when this movie came out, and as I recall, it rocked my young world. Not only did the nasty orangutan monster scare me shitless, but this is one of the first films that made me realize how superior those who knew martial arts were to the rest of the candy ass world. The initial street battle between the two rival chinatown gangs which took place at a funeral of a fallen gang member (AKA one sweet backdrop for a battle) not only laid the foundation for future generations of triad inspired gangland battles (Lethal Weapon 4 anyone?) but was an inspired means to introduce the 3 elemental Kung Fu bosses, Thunder, Rain, and Lightning. These guys defined the term "antagonist" to my young mind, known to me then as "bad guys", and possessed skills which I would envy for years to come (about 23 additional years so far). Lightning bolts and swordplay; a match made in heaven.  

Of course, Kurt Russell played his part to the T. The swarthy, rogue truck driver, Jack Burton, delivered a library of quotable one liners (see the title of this post) and pulled off the 'I just threw my knife at you which you threw back at me which I caught in mid air and hit you in the forehead with it' move of greatness. Stupid Lo Pan. All the while, Jack flirts with both disaster and a young Kim Cattrall to create a series of clever and memorable scenarios that serve to justify Jack's involvement in the whole green-eyed lady ordeal. 

For those of you yet to see this movie, don't fret. This is not one of those flicks that seems stupid and childish if you never caught it in your youth. We here at Action Direct can more or less guarantee you'll thank us for the recommendation (unless you're a 1000 year old cursed chinese overlord who needs the blessing of Shin Dai to make you flesh again. Then you'll probably think the movie is a bit biased in its portrayal of the aforementioned chinese overlord. Also, you might be a chick). To those of you who have already seen it and are looking to rewatch it after being reminded of its greatness, say hi to Egg-chen for me.


In the end, nothing really ends.

Okay, Watchmen is in theaters on March 6th. So until then, you can probably expect two or three more posts due to Keanu's and my own pee-pants excitement. 

Today, I found this youtube video of the Watchmen trailer, recreated using panels from the original comic. It is really sweet, and I, having just reread the original graphic novel, got all giddy when I saw it. 

Pretty sweet, right?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Homage to Bodhi

I was just surfing the movie blogs and found that \film (recently voted one of Time's top 25 blogs) had just posted this about my all time favorite action movie, Point Break. It's worth reading if you have a few minutes and are at all a fan of the film. 

One of the many interesting details outlined in this little number is that the screenplay for Point Break (originally called simply, Johnny Utah) was written by the same guy who wrote Prayer of the Rollerboys, starring Corey Haim and Patricia Arquette (by-the-by, I'm still looking for a copy of this, so if you know where to find it, let me know)! 

Yet another  factoid, turns out Point Break was directed by Katheryn Bigelow, who was married to James Cameron, who released Terminator 2 at the same time. Good things come in twos, as they say.

Finally, my own personal contribution to the Point Break legacy, I recently named my new dog Bodhi after the Swayze's character. Long live Point Break!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Governor Iceman?

Now every post that is published by Casey and myself here at Action Direct comes from the heart. We take Action movies personally. But this bit of business involving one of our favorite hit or miss actors really hits home. According to the American Associated Press, it looks as if we have another action star trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesse 'the Bod' Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Val Kilmer, (AKA Mad Mardigan) is considering running for the governor of our very own home state, New Mexico. What could this mean to the residents of our old stomping ground? Well, it depends on which Val Kilmer steps up to the task of running the state. If we see Iceman Kazansky step up to the podium, we may see New Mexico transform into one of the most formidable of these United States. However, we also run the risk of seeing one super shitty version of Batman try and take flight, which would spell certain disaster (on a scale only seen by the likes of Joel Schumacher). While Val hasn't made any final decisions on the matter, he has been quoted stating, "If I run, I'm going to be the next governor." 

Atta boy Val. 

Not Action Related: Joaquin Phoenix is Losing It

And now for a short break from our regularly scheduled program:

Some of you may have heard that Joaquin Phoenix is leaving acting to pursue a career in hip-hop, which is maybe not such a surprise after seeing him lay down some mean rhymes in Walk the Line... but I was a little shocked.

Well, since he made the announcement, things have gone steadily downhill, culminating in this "its so bad, but I can't help but watch it" interview on Letterman the other night. 

WTF? Is he messing with us? Or is he really this crazy? Have a look.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In case you didn't already know.

In continuing on with our coverage of the adaptation of the Watchmen graphic novel to the silver screen, I would like to put out a little tidbit of info that will most certainly be a boost to all of you fans following its progress out there. As most of you have already heard, the movie that is scheduled to open in theaters on March 6th will not include one of the amazing sub plots of the original story- The Tales of the Black Freighter. However, as a huge fan of the graphic novel himself, Zach Snyder has not left this tale of haunting piratery fall by the wayside. The official release date of The Tales of the Black Freighter animated film will be March 24th and will include Gerard Butler of the the homoerotic stabathon thriller 300 as the voice of the sea captain. This straight to DVD release will be directed by Mike Smith (Futurama, Bender's Big Score) and will hopefully be every bit as enthralling as its printed forefather. A big thanks to Mark Graham of Vulture for staying current on this topic.

Steven Seagal Runs Like a Girl

My friend and fellow action junkie Justin pointed this out to me yesterday. I, of course, immediately went to the internet to confirm or disconfirm this assertion and was perhaps less than surprised to find the following proof (number one hit on my first Google search). It's true; despite his martial arts training from the age of seven under the tutelage of well-known karate instructor Fumio Demura, Steven Seagal has never learned how to control his flailing limbs while jogging up a mountain during a training montage.

That being said, he still kicks some pretty serious ass. I would suggest having a look at some of our previous posts, here or here, if your faith is shaken....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Red Heat (1988)

Believe it or not, there are still a few movies in The Governator's catalog that I have not seen. Red Heat was one of these until last night. While I wouldn't exactly say that this is one of Arnie's most underrated films, I would say that of his not so good stuff, this is one of the better ones. Netflix gives the following synopsis*:

When Viktor (Ed O'Ross), a narcotics kingpin from the USSR, escapes from prison and heads for Chicago, Russia's brawniest, most fearless and most disciplined police detective (Arnold Schwarzenegger) follows Viktor to the Windy City and teams up with a loud-mouthed American cop (James Belushi). Together, the mismatched, culture-clashing, rule-breaking duo must overcome their differences and attempt to track down the nefarious Viktor.

Okay, what is it with naked fight scenes in Russian bath houses (see clip below)? For no good reason, this movie opens with Arnie in a loin cloth beating the crap out of some portly soviet in a bath/orgy house in the middle of a cold Siberian winter. If they wanted to show off Arnie's amazing bod, they could have easily edited in a few shots for Conan the Barbarian, and it would have made about as much sense as him beating the crap out of Le Fours in the snow. 

That being said, it was a pretty good fight scene. I particularly like the part where Arnie grabs a guy by the beard and then proceeds to man handle him. 

Also, Jim Belushi...? I guess I see what they were going for. The juxtaposition of Arnie's staunch soviet training and Jim's semi-overweight and super-annoying persona was indeed striking. I guess I just didn't buy him as "that no good, lazy, sonuvabitch.... but damn is he a good cop" kind of character. There was more than one occasion where Jim broke into a sprint, Martin Riggs style, attempting to chase down a car as it tore through oncoming traffic. But the difference between Jim Belushi and Mel Gibson is also striking.

All right, there was also some good about this movie. I did like Abdul Elijah (Brent Jennings) as the criminal mastermind. But I was upset that we saw so little of him. Also, the Gina Gershon appearance was good, but a Gina/Arnie love story would have been better. Oh yeah, and the part where Arnie was blasting henchman with the .45 reminded me of wreaking havoc with the Magnum on N64's Goldeneye, which I also liked.

In the end, Red Heat is a good one to have under your belt, but don't go out of your way to see it. There's a reason that Predator and Terminator are classics.

*Note: I would really like to be the guy who write these little synopses. How do you get this job???