So I kinda thought this was your typical Dwayne Johnson action vehicle, judging by the menacing poster for the film you'd be forgiven for agreeing with me. The Rock standing there fists clenched, looking angry, sweaty and buff, whilst in the background a large rig is powering through cars causing mayhem and destruction. Its all true but that particular moment of excitement isn't until the finale, before that you gotta sit through a whole load of factory line guff.
So Johnson's teenage kid is wrongfully banged away as a drug dealer (a set up) and his only way out is to stitch up another drug dealer hence the films witty title. Of course the dumbass kid won't play ball so its up to Dwayne to go out and bring down a huge cartel all on his own. Myself? meh I would have let the kid rot.
Now as I already mentioned you assume this is gonna be an ass kicking flick with Johnson in revenge overdrive mode but no!!. Against cast Johnson is actually playing a regular Joe here, a father who doesn't kick ass but actually is rather meek, timid and normal...in other words he gets his ass kicked, despite looking like the offspring of The Hulk and He-Man (seriously he couldn't throw any punches at all?!). This time Dwayne Johnson is actually using his real acting chops and his brains to get through this sticky cinematic problem.
The film is really really trying to be some kind of serious crime drama, the type of thing you'd see Pacino or De Niro in. The problem is the casting, why use Dwayne Johnson for a role like this? sure he does a reasonable job but you're just expecting him to snap everybody in half and break out some massive hand cannons. Its obvious Sarandon has been drafted in to inject some heavy weight acting but it fails to save the day, she ain't that good.
Everything is so very bland and generic here to be honest, the film only comes alive for a brief 18 wheeler, car chase sequence which while good is still totally generic. Up to that point its pretty low key with no intensity, no action, no interesting characters and a daft plot if you ask me. I don't know anything about US law but why would one persons jail time be reduced if someone else decides to help out the law by becoming an informer?. That just sounds like a very odd decision, this criminals friend/family member helped us bust this dealer so we will reduce his sentence out of thanks despite the fact he did actually commit a crime, eh?.
So what do we learn from this film? apparently in the US law abiding citizens can assist police in MAJOR drug busts to reduce some other criminals jail time. Terribly formulaic and by the numbers, there are attempts at strong emotion but it didn't work on me, it just reads like a checklist of cliches.
The second collaboration between Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer with the Sinbad franchise/fable. The first being a rollicking good yarn with some great actors (Thatcher) and the usual Harryhausen animated goodness, could this keep up that trend? (Personally I think Schneer had an Arabian fetish).
Once again the plot is much the same as before with Sinbad sailing off into the wilderness to find an ancient mythical artifact of some kind. This time he's basically trying to find the fountain of youth amidst other various problems like needing three pieces of a puzzle to find its location. The usual soft core fantasy elements you come to expect.
To cut the chase, in all honesty, this film kinda sucks. Yep I did just say that I'm sorry, let me tell you why. The problem is quite simply that nothing happens for almost the entire of this film until they reach the mysterious island of ideginous Hulk people. Yep that's right, all the natives are green coloured like the Hulk, with Lou Ferrigno type wigs but minus the muscles.
The only thing to happen up to this point was the most dull action sequence ever where Sinbad fights a wooden figurehead off his own ship that has been animated by the evil wizard Tom Baker. Sometime after that we see the only sequences that keeps this whole adventure afloat, namely the epic animated battle with the Kali stone statue. Now although this sequence may not seem as renowned as the legendary skeleton warrior battle from 'Jason', for me its right up there for thrills, visuals and Harryhausen's skills. What is so impressive about this character is the sheer fluidity of animation on display, Ray even makes Kali do a little traditional dance before she leaps into battle. Yes its just one character compared to the seven skeleton warriors but it looks very realistic, very stone-like, and the six arms in motion is just damn amazing!, easily one of the best visual effects by Ray in my eyes.
Once we have sat through the high of Kali things do get a bit flat again, the natives are revolting and Tom Baker's eyeliner grows weaker with each frame. As the story progresses we finally get a bit more action as a centaur pops up, albeit a rather sorry excuse for one, again with the cyclops idea?. Things perk up as this centaur must do battle against a griffin which is very well created, definitely a lifesaver for the film as so far only Kali looked any good. Now although this mythic battle isn't exactly epic it still manages to raise your interest, its animated well and the griffin looks terrific, just a shame the griffin is killed and everything goes back to being dull once again.
Apart from Kali the only other thing to applaud in this film is the cast. Tom Baker becomes invisible towards the finale and looks like a bad Mortal kombat character but still manages to out act everyone else with his rasping accent and crooked smiles. To look at John Phillip Law is probably the most handsome Sinbad with the classic silver screen looks of a dashing 'Indy' type hero, his accent is also quite atrocious but that makes it even more enjoyable. And all the while the stunning Munro looks tanned and delicious with her skimpy Arabian attire, she doesn't really do much of course, she's merely there to be saved by our swashbuckling hero, this is 1973 you know.
I did quite like the design of the golden mask worn by the 'Grand Vizier of Marabia', actually kinda cool in a '300' type of way. The moment when he removes his mask to reveal his burnt head is also a good moment, some pretty good makeup work there I must say, more gruesome than expected, a bit 'Jason Vorhees-like'.
So yes this voyage for Sinbad was disappointing and rather unadventurous really. You do start to get the impression these Arabian tales don't really have anything else to offer other than the small Harryhausen sequences. There is quite literatly nothing on offer here accept for the two main battles involving animated Harryhausen creatures. The cast is great and the visuals all round look nice and atmospheric but overall it really is very daft (green Hulk natives) and bland (constant traveling sequences).
We've had Arnie's come back vehicle and now its Sly's turn in this very Hong kong sounding action flick. Whilst the Austrian oaks come back flick turned out to be a rather silly, almost parody type action flick, Sly's offering is much more violent resembling the good old days. So yes this film is highly retro and a typical slice of hokum courtescy of action maestro Hill.
So despite the John Woo-like title the film is acutally an adaptation of a French graphic novel believe it or not. This still doesn't mean the plot isn't predictable as hell, featuring the usual 80's cliche of a mismatched pair having to help each other out in order to bring down the bad guys. One is a cop (that really poor 'Fast n Furious' actor) and the other is contract killer (Sly), both are trying to bring down the big boss, add to that the standard big muscle bound nemesis for the obvious big sweaty fight at the end.
Take note of the films title as this is what you get throughout, plenty of people getting shot in the head, novel huh. So yes the film does hark back to the good old days of the 'straight to the video shop' action flicks, plenty of mindless violence in a cookie cutter plot. But this is the problem, this film is or would be a straight to DVD film if it wasn't for Sly being in it.
There is virtually nothing memorable in the entire film. Nothing that made me sit up and pay attention and nothing that would make me come back and watch it again. Stallone (like Arnie) is clearly too old for this shit with his sagging chest and extremely tight looking pants (girdle?). Yes he looks good for his age sure (the odd nip n tuck aside of course), but he's a millionaire movie star people, what do you expect!.
On one hand I fully endorse any adult retro action flicks in general to get away from the modern age of the wider audience pleasing 12A and PG-13 ratings. On the other hand they still have to show a little bit of thought and at least try for some originality. This film is exactly what it shouldn't be, a simple vehicle for an aging action star to try and get back on his horse and nothing more. Just like 'The Last Stand' its virtually pointless and should have used a younger star, it still would have been a throw away action flick but you expect that.
I hate to have a go at these iconic stars I really do, but the time has come for both Arnie and Sly to call it a day in my view. This film is sooooo by the numbers it was dull, the only thing I can possibly give plus points for was the finale fight with Momoa and the fact its an adult film. If anything this film shows how good Momoa can be in action/fight sequences, maybe he should of been in Stallone's role.
Fairly decent film which isn't entirely original or well acted but the young cast do OK to keep you interested (especially the girls hehe). There are some reasonably nice sequences with fights, guns and cars to satisfy the brain but 'Lethal Weapon' this ain't.
Vinnie Jones has a surprisingly good little cameo as a drug kingpin utilizing his gruff cockney accent against the over tanned bleached teeth of the youthful cast. He is the only person to add a touch of danger and realism, kinda.
The classic mythological Greek tale of Jason, the good ship 'Argo' and its brave Argonauts, sailors of the Argo. This is most probably Harryhausen's greatest accomplishment in film, probably his most well known film and most probably his best film alongside the other Greek classic 'Clash of the Titans'.
The plot? surely we all know it by now, 'Jason' and his warrior sailors venture off to find the legendary Golden Fleece of 'Colchis' battling various obstacles on the way. Like most films the plot has been altered somewhat obviously for dramatic effect and simply because Greek mythology is quite complex offering many problems for film makers of the time. In no way does this deter from the films excellence at any point, you can easily enjoy the adventure knowing nothing of Greek mythology.
Without trying to cast a shadow over the films director or the decent cast throughout the film, but this is pretty much the Harryhausen arts n crafts show. All the cast put in sterling performances, as you would expect of the era, with director Chaffey clearly doing something right. I must admit to always feeling a tad sorry for the cast and crews in films like this as they do tend to be known as Harryhausen flicks and nothing else.
For me the Nigel Green as some bloke called 'Hercules' stood head and shoulders above the rest. Now not only was his performance quite amusing and gloriously tongue n cheek in that stout old fashioned way, but his thick curly hairstyle was quite impressive too hehe. His whole look was burly, gruff, jolly and fun, yet not bulging with muscles. I also liked how the Argonauts in general weren't all big muscle bound meatheads, and the hero Jason (Todd Armstrong) was quite a regular looking guy, not some pretty boy. It gives the film a little sense of reality amongst all the fantasy. You know in this day and age the entire crew would be more pumped than the Michelin Man.
Of course the real interest kicks in when we see the mighty 'Talos' come to life and surge across the beach attempting to stomp the Argonauts. Is this the best sequence in the film? hmmmm it comes damn close despite nothing much happening. The entire sequence just looks so damn good and intimidating you can't fail to love it, how fudging cool is 'Talos'!!.
After this its a virtual onslaught on awesomeness as Harryhausen moves into fifth gear. The 'Harpies' were probably the weakest of the creature creations in the film, they don't look quite as sharp as the rest really. But rest assured the 'Hydra's' brief moment in the spotlight got things right back on track. A shame that no sooner does this classic creature appear 'Jason' kills it off pretty quickly...and easily really. But even then when you think you'd seen the best the film has to offer in terms of shadow fighting monsters we get the greatest sequence by Harryhausen ever!.
Yeah you all know what I'm talking about, the famous battle between the skeleton warriors and the Argonauts must be one of the most influentially inspiring sequences of all time. It wowed me as a youngster and it still does today, the film has become known for that sequence alone really but its understandable. I loved how the 'Hydra' sequence leads into this epic undead sequence via the 'Hydra's' teeth being sown. I love how one scene gives meaning to the other without resorting to crowbarring in random monsters just for the sake of it.
Again a small sequence involving live action is used here like 'One Million Years B.C.' only this time it looks much much better. I'm glad they didn't use this option too much as it is a bit dubious looking against the obvious models and out of scale water but they just about get away with it. Would have been interesting to see a full stop motion 'Triton' though, much like the 'Kraken', I guess cost came into it.
Creatures aside the film in general is fine, a steady pace, not overly exciting but not dull either. The Mount Olympus sequences are cheesy as hell, the Argonauts battle armour costumes are superb and appropriately heroic looking (love those outfits) and location work is truly stunning in the film. Rough mountainous terrain and pure blue seas under a clear blue sky, it looked hot. After all these thrills the film does end rather abruptly like many of these oldies tend to. Not too much of a problem though, after seeing some of the greatest stop motion sequences ever committed to film.