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The same year as the greatest buddy cop action flick of all time 'Lethal Weapon' and at times you can see a similarity to be honest. The opening credits definitely have a similar tone and font/colour to the Donner movies opening, but this movie is obviously more of a comedy than thriller. Who'd of thought you'd see Dreyfuss in a cop based action flick though huh, what's even more unusual is Dreyfuss is actually way more believable as the ass-kicking cop than baby-faced Estevez.
So a dangerous criminal has broken out of jail and is coming after his ex-squeeze because she has a load of his money hidden away in her home (she doesn't know). The police are drafted in to stakeout the place (hence the movies title...huh huh) and watch over the woman whilst waiting for the crook so they can nick him. Its up to old man Dreyfuss and his younger partner Estevez to stake out this woman's home by night whilst two other cops (Lauria and Whitaker) stake it out by day.
As you can imagine much pissing around and slapstick ensues as the main mustachioed duo of Dreyfuss and Estevez play pranks on the other two cops, snooping around the woman's house without permission and eventually interacting with her (without permission). As already said its surprising to see Dreyfuss being the cocky arrogant ladies man who basically gets Estevez into hot water with his unprofessional antics. You really really expect the wild card to be Estevez, instead he tends to sit on the sidelines being the uppity by the book cop in the duo. In fact this movie is mainly a vehicle for Dreyfuss truth be told, he's the man, he gets all the action and he gets the girl.
This movie really took me back though, I remember seeing it on the shelves at my local videostore when I was a kid...hell I remember it coming out in the videostore. Its such a dated movie and so so very 80's (naturally), all the action is well shot and directed but its completely overblown in places, hyped up with a typical action movie score ad chock full of those typical action movie type sequences and closeups with witty quickfire quips. The only surprise the movie has going is the fact the bad guy doesn't die in a big way...he merely dies...oh spoiler warning...well not really its bloody obvious, this is an 80's action movie for heavens sake.
The finale I'm talking of is quite an anti climax actually. The whole chase sequence is filled with guns firing, bullets pinging off metal just missing every bodies heads and both antagonist and protagonist are leaping around like gazelles on too much coffee. This all takes place in a logging factory with lots of big dangerous machines so you'd bet your bottom dollar the bad guy will get cut in half or squashed...or whatever. Well you'd think that but no! not in this action movie, nope it looks great, its tense but in the end it limps to a weak conclusion and of course soppy ending.
I'm not saying the movie is poor...but I found it average, a poor man's watered down 'Lethal Weapon' really. Estevez and Dreyfuss are a good combination (oddly enough) and they do spark well off each other at times. The start of the movie is the most entertaining with the duo messing around and...ermm staking out. But as things progress and a love story blossoms it gets a little drab and cheesy, of course its predictable and really the main villain isn't that bad, or not bad enough. I know its not meant to be an overly violent action fest but its not overly funny either...just a standard cop flick with a standard wise-ass duo who like to break their bosses balls being rebellious (twas the thing back then).
There isn't an abundance of action either to be honest, the odd car chase and gunfight routines. Being one of the earlier action movies in the genre it gets a pass as the concept is a little more original than other cop flicks and the duo are an unexpected quirky double team. Up against other big hitters like 'Lethal Weapon' '48 Hours' 'Beverly Hills Cop' etc...it can't quite compete but it holds its own just about. It does the job but it won't have you thinking about it much after the credits have rolled. Its a fast food action movie and its...well ya know...very 80's (get your Boglins out).
Quite the ensemble cast in this late 80's romp. A real list of dated 80's stars, the kind of list you just don't see anymore. Corbin Bernsen, Ruben Blades, Fred Gwynne, Ed O'Neill, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Roebuck and Hoyt Axton. A silly crime/heist caper comedy that is pleasing and well presented in the stunning Montana wilderness.
I liked the plot because its not just a simple throwaway idea. A small team of crooks (Gwynne, Phillips, Blades and Russ) are hired by Bernsen to meet in a cabin in the middle of nowhere to plan a bank robbery. En route to the cabin Bernsen gets nabbed by the cops (O' Neill and Roebuck) but eventually escapes into the wilds of Montana. In the meantime the four crooks carry on with the plan to rob the bank without Bernsen. What follows is a genuinely amusing little comedy where the fours crooks manage to carry out their complicated impossible looking robbery whilst all the while Bernsen is struggling to find his back to civilisation. At the same time the bumbling cop duo are desperately trying to track Bernsen down and are mistaking everything the four crooks are doing as Bernsen's actions. This eventually leads to a nice little twist at the end for the poor beleaguered Bernsen.
So the plot is fun and funny, nothing outrageously funny but it makes you smile. But its the cast that make this movie work, you'd think it might be a case of too many cooks but no it actually works well. The four crooks are a genuinely amusing odd bunch both visually and personality wise. The leader of this surprisingly skilled little team is Fred Gywnne in all of his towering glory. His huge square frame and big block-like head really allows him to perform some great physical comedy with facial expressions which we all know and loved from his Munster days. Gwynne plays it straight here as the stern sensible stoic aging leader dressed smartly in a suit and fedora, that classic attire really suits him(no pun intended) giving him both a dashing and dangerous look.
He is joined by a very rugged manly looking Bernsen who has this golden sunkist visage throughout, he really does look too good. Thing is he doesn't have many lines in the movie, he almost plays a silent comedic role with lots of slapstick tomfoolery...its a good angle actually, quite unique. Lou Diamond Phillips plays the young carjacker and mechanic, Ruben Blades has more of a stereotypical role admittedly as the Latino gangster type but damn if he doesn't do it well with those vibrant tones of his. The less known William Russ can't be overlooked here either with a solid performance as the nervous jittery safecracker who's always at odds with Blades. Some great bickering between them.
On the other hand we also get some great performances from Ed 'Al Bundy' O'Neill and Daniel Roebuck as the bumbling but persistent cops on Bernsen's trail. Not only do we get a slapstick tour de force from Bernsen we also get a showcase in slapstick from these two. I can't deny that O'Neill does tend to give us all the regular facial/physical expressions and emotions we've seen in his long running TV sitcom. Its all very familiar and does kinda make you feel you're watching Al Bundy the movie, you can see his limited range really. But I also can't deny I love his routine and it always makes me smile. Roebuck is a good foil and sidekick to O'Neill's desperation and frustration but he does feel like a poor man's John Candy...sorry but I had to say it.
Honesty this really is such a feel good comedy betwix action movie...more comedy, its like 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' for some criminals sorta. The locations are stunning as I've already said, some shots really showing the expansive mountainous panorama's whilst actually making you feel the chill of raw nature. The plot is fun with tense moments...especially whilst they rob the bank and take out the cop cars, it does feel like they've genuinely put a lot of effort in and you want them to succeed. I always find it funny with these capers how they just happen to have all this expensive looking heist gear which they then proceed to dump after the heist.
All the characters are very likable, you wanna see the bad guys ride off into the sunset but at the same time you don't wanna see the cop duo get into trouble. Its so heartwarming and charming in the end with Gwynne grinning through his teeth whilst chomping on a fat cigar just like George Peppard. Don't get why they go back for Bernsen though, that kinda overrides the clever little twist at the end but hey ho. A totally overlooked and under appreciated comedy methinks, a great selection of character actors with some good solid old fashioned wholesome entertainment for all.
Probably the first Arnie vehicle I ever saw as a kid and even then I thought it was average. Yes I know this could be seen as heresy but I must confess to never thinking a great deal about this film despite being a life long Arnie fan.
We all know the score with this film by now. The plot is based loosely on a Stephen King novel which is all about America being a police or totalitarian state, huge divides between the rich and the poor and of course death and violence being a popular much watched sport on TV. So basically a futuristic view on the ancient Roman civilisation and their bloody culture.
If you think about it its the perfect role for Arnie and various other muscle men just like many other Arnie films, this film pretty much started that craze. Today this kind of story is completely unoriginal but back then it was almost the first of its kind. To be fair its a videogame adaptation all the way, Arnie's character must face each stalker one by one, each has their own unique skill or weapon and they all have their personal level or stage as it were. Guess what Sub Zero's stage looks like?
The stalkers are pretty cliched and generic now when you look back, Fireball Sub Zero Dynamo Buzzsaw and Captain Freedom, not hard to figure out what they all do...accept for Freedom perhaps. A pumped bunch to say the least, Ventura looks full on steroids with his silly wig whilst Brown has a ridiculous wig himself (I think). The other stalker cast members aren't as famous accept for Charles Kalani Jr. perhaps but 80's female action sidekick regular MarÝa Conchita Alonso alongside Yaphet Kotto hold their own.
Of course the film is made by the excellent performance of Richard Dawson who takes a creepy direction on what was his current job at the time as a gameshow host. Not only does Dawson ham it up nicely but he adds a very eerie, sadistic, two faced approach to the role. Its actually quite fun to watch him crawl and grovel to the audience. A real slime ball deviously charming the gullible live audience, whilst virtually blackmailing them for their trust and ratings by lavishing easy prizes upon them with seemingly genuine generosity. It did make you wonder if this was how real gameshow hosts behaved behind closed doors but I imagine that was the goal.
The film does look pretty cheap, it did even back then. Sets are not much more than big empty spaces with stark lighting effects and piles of rubble everywhere. Hell even the costumes look like they've been handmade by the cast themselves. Lots of spandex, a basic ice hockey uniform, lots of leather n chains for background thugs and the most bizarre concept for Dynamo who is covered in what looks like Christmas tree lights stuck on transparent plastic body sections. Why does he sing opera? judging by his helmet its a homage or calling to 'Ride of the Valkyries' and the character is clearly trying to impose fear and terror on his pending victims as he rides his buggy thing into battle. Doesn't work too well though huh.
Quick one for you, who on earth knows what Captain Freedom's outfit was suppose to do or be? looked like something out of He-Man.
There's a lot more hinting at moments than actual visual sequences but there is the odd classic moment. I'm sure everyone recalls the infamous head explosion sequence, the ultra fast toboggan thing that transports Arnie down to the gauntlet game zone and Arnie slamming a pen into some scrawny pen pushing suits back...wince moment...ouch!
Its your classic dystopian futuristic 80's action flick obviously, with the classic update of gladiatorial battles for the blood thirsty masses. Many have copied it but clearly this borrowed from other sources also ('Escape from New York' visually). Jammed packed with all the Arnie one liners you could want, dancing big haired blondes, some good bloody moments and a perfectly sleazy performance by real ex-gameshow host Dawson as the manipulative gameshow host Killian (nasty sounding name also).
Predictable of course but its fun to watch the audience and viewers slowly get behind Richards as he defeats the stalkers one at a time. Watching Killian and his yes men squirm as they know Richards is coming to get them. A bit silly how this one act of rebellion seems to bring down the whole corrupt system as the resistance starts to broadcast the truth and everybody just believes it straight away but hey...its an Arnie film.
'I told Killian I'd be back. I wouldn't want to be a liar'
How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice? get a new line of work maybe. Neeson is back and he's badder than before, well not really but he still kicks ass at his ripe old age and he hasn't forgotten his black leather coat either.
Follow up to the very good original and your first thoughts are is this really needed? The first film was a kind of slick 'Ronin' kick ass machine but can you really do the same again without it being a rehash? well yes and no.
Its a nice idea that we see the aftermath of what the hero did in the last film. He kills all the bad guys and saves the day, but what about those baddie henchmen he bagged? what about their families and friends? no one really wonders how they would feel and its not been explored too much. So this plot about one particular bad guys family (father) wanting revenge on Neeson's character is kinda neat but also kinda stretched. If you think about it the concept could just go on and on, every bad guy killed having one of their family members coming after the hero for revenge.
There are quite a few silly moments in this film I must admit. For a start Neeson's character works out where he is pretty quickly after he's been kidnapped. So before you know it he's contacted his daughter with his trusty batphone thingy hidden in his sock (of course) and well on the way to be rescued, job done, film over then.
The sequence where he instructs his daughter to throw grenades left right n centre so he can listen for the explosion and calculate where he is, is also rather daft. Surely live grenades going off in downtown Istanbul might raise some alerts? wouldn't anyone hear this? if Mills can hear it in his dank prison surely other folk at street level can hear it no?
That also leads to the fact that when Mills is kidnapped it appears that he and his wife are driven quite a long distance away, possibly out of the city. We then learn through the grenade throwing sequence that he is in fact not very far away a tall, almost around the corner actually. His daughter can virtually see where he's been taken from the rooftop for gods sake!
Then there is the car chase which again is very 'Ronin' like in style and visuals. Now this chase is actually very good and very well done, I enjoyed it a lot, kudos. Thing is, Mills daughter can't drive, we know this from earlier in the film. Americans tend to drive automatic cars, the Merc they both escape in is a manual, but somehow this doesn't stop Mills daughter managing to drive this Euro manual like a rally driver through the narrow bustling streets of Istanbul.
Oh and Mills manages to find his wife pretty quickly and easily towards the end too, just a stroll in the park, blip! your dead. Unfortunately we also discover that the main bad guy Murad has two sons who will come after Mills if he is killed, so I guess that's 'Taken 3' then.
Despite all the silly bits and the fact the whole plot is weak and not really important, I did actually enjoy this film quite a bit. The visuals are glossy with good editing, sound and camera work, score does the trick nicely and of course the acting isn't too shabby either. I have read a lot of negative reviews for this film but I can't see why really. Sure its not as good or original as the first film but you get what you pay for.
Neeson bitch slapping balding unshaven Eastern European bad guys, a slamming car chase and all created with smooth eye popping French (yes French!) va va voom.
John Carpenter is back, sorta...hurray!! A sequel to 'Vampires'? yeah OK I can go with this, starring Jon Bon Jovi...hurray!...wait what?? Yes so Carpenter produced this movie, a sequel to his quirky gory original that doesn't have anything to do with the first movie (accept for one item), has none of the original cast but exists within the same universe...apparently. Yes this did go straight to DVD.
I guess the main thing that bothers me about this movie is the fact its just a complete rehash of the first movie albeit with a new vampire hunting team. The main vampire here is also after the same black crucifix from the first movie...so its the same. But what in the name of Aztec buggery is Bon Jovi doing in this movie? your guess is as good as mine because other than attracting a young audience it makes no sense. Wait did I just answer my own question? funny thing is I don't actually think anyone knows this movie exists.
So Bon Jovi is the team leader (I'm rolling my eyes right now...as you should be too). There is a priest who in a big faux pas is actually better looking, has a nice tan, has better hair and bigger muscles than Bon Jovi making the aging rocker look kinda pathetic. Add to this there is the token female character who is actually a vampire but holds it back with some miracle drugs, a 14 year old lad and the obligatory token black guy so everybody is happy. I might also add that none of these characters actually end up doing anything of much interest throughout the movie because its so utterly boring and bland.
Nothing really happens in this movie, all we see is this group trudging around grimy Mexican locations looking for vampires in ruined abandoned churches (always religious places). All the visuals are totally cliched and have come straight outta the Robert Rodriguez book of filming in Mexico. The main vampire is a skinny white woman who doesn't really come across as threatening at all. She's after the black crucifix that will enable vampires to walk in the daylight somehow, but she seemingly works alone as we don't really get much other bloodsucker action from anyone else...or at all.
What really chafes my nipples is the fact director Wallace has the nerve to reuse the tow cable method they used in the first movie for dragging vamps out of buildings into the daylight. In the first flick this was a new quirky angle that kinda worked, here its just blatantly abused simply so it runs along the same lines as the original. There is no need for it at all and it doesn't even make any sense! dragging a thrashing vampire outside through a building? surely the vampire can just grab a hold of anything to stop it. What's so daft about it is in this movie they are so deep inside a building when they use it, so many corners and corridors, its ends up a pointless endeavour as anything could hinder the dragging. I never really understood the point of it anyway, just cut of the head and stake em'.
The action feels muted and dull when it does show up, I kinda got the impression Bon Jovi didn't wanna get too sweaty otherwise it might curl up his clearly straightened hairdo. What is more amusing is watching him trying act macho and moving around a vampires nest holding a very obvious fake stake handgun...oh and lets not forget all the silly macho one liners and quips that any action thriller requires. The plot also involves a method of bringing a person back from being a vampire, a blood transfusion removing all the vampire blood and replacing it with human? is that even possible? Surely you would have to drain every last drop of infected blood from the vampire and then you'd die. Did they pinch this idea from 'Near Dark'? I didn't like it there either.
The original Carpenter flick wasn't exactly great, it was a cliched western with killers for hire which was kinda different. This movie simple uses the first films name and delivers a much weaker product. Yes there is still blood and gore, yes its about a hired killer...but who cares. All the characters are terribly weak and uninteresting and Bon Jovi in no way comes across as a hardened vampire killer. I could forgive if the vampire hunting team was at least cool with an interesting cast but they couldn't even deliver on that. The fact the main vampire was also pretty awful and dismal is pretty much the final nail in the coffin.