"When I say, "Jump!", you say, "How high?" - got it? Got it?! Take it and stick it in your fucking head!"
As Vanessa Williams once sang, I've gone and saved the best for last... At least, in my opinion I have. Hans "Dolph" Lundgren is perhaps the most maligned of my Deadly 3 Killing Machines - his movies are among the worst reviewed ever and he has rarely played in the big leagues in terms of film budget and scale when compared to Van Damme and Seagal. Former sparring partner Stallone (Rocky IV) brought Dolph back in from the cold recesses of DTV film making with The Expendables movies, but by and large he has remained on the straight-to-video scene. There is a fair argument that this is partly due to a poor selection of scripts that came his way, but that would take away the joy of some of the most bonkers, all-out loony actioners that Dolph has brought to audiences - with considerable mono-syllabic style too, if I may add!
I will never forget the joys of first watching Lundgren as one of my all-time childhood gods - He-Man - in Gary Goddard's 1987 toyline adaptation Masters of the Universe. There was my cartoon hero in full flesh-and-blood glory, and Dolph was immense: 6 foot 5 inches of beautiful blond hair, greased torso and mountainous biceps (yes, serious man-crush here)! Here was a living, breathing deity in my young eyes. I had to wait a few years before I could enjoy the rest of Dolph's cinematic adventures as they would prove to be considerably higher in blood-letting and bone-snapping mayhem. But thanks to my trusted VHS player and some liberal-minded relations, I became a staunch defender in Camp Lundgren. This is a man with an IQ close to 160, won a Fulbright Scholarship to M.I.T. and holds a 3rd dan black belt in Kyokushin Karate. A former male model and bouncer who has portrayed everything from the aforementioned superhuman from Eternia, a KGB killing machine with a conscience (Red Scorpion), A Marvel vigilante (The Punisher), a re-animated Vietnam vet super-soldier (Universal Soldier, alongside Van Damme) and a maniacal street-preacher turned deranged hitman (Johnny Mnemonic). These days, he has taken on a jack-of-all-trades approach by taking on the directing, writing and producing roles with every new movie that is released. There is no doubt in my mind that Dolph Lundgren deserves a full re-appraisal of his work, particularly when his films could get onto the cinema screens - and I have selected two of my favourites that showcase the man from Stockholm at his ass-kicking best!
Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)
"Hell sucked - We are back!"
Director: Mark L. Lester
Tagline: One's a warrior... One's a wise guy... They're two L.A. cops going after a gang of drug lords. Feet First.
Plot: American cop raised in Japan Chris Kenner teams up with motormouth new partner Johnny Murata to take down the dreaded Yakuza as they plot to take control of the drugs trade. For Kenner, the battle becomes personal as he discovers the Oyabun is none other than the man who murdered his parents...
Mark L. Lester's buddy actioner is a perfect introduction into the mad world of Dolph Lundgren. Despite a poor box office showing upon release and the interference of distributors Warner Brothers to try & re-edit it to feature more of Brandon Lee, this remains a true Dolph picture - showcasing his on-screen charisma (yes, it is there people!) and physical presence to full effect while trading quips with partner Lee and trading blows with just about every Oriental actor working in Hollywood at this time. Lester's previous form (he helmed Commando with Arnie and Class of 1999 - another maligned B-movie ripe for re-appraisal) put Lundgren in trusted hands and the full force of Lundgren (and Lee) are put to satisfying bloody effect. It is no wonder the censors had a hard time with this - people are beheaded, stabbed in almost medical detail, heads are literally blown apart from shotgun blasts... This is a pretty violent movie, even by B movie standards. And then there is the gratuitous female nudity (let's face it, women are mostly objects in these movies - here we have naked girls used as tables to dine off!). But for a red-blooded hetero male, you cannot beat the sight of Tia Carrere in all her glory as she gives Dolph a good going over to the strains of the "Sex-ophone" love music - that should convince anyone who fell in love with Carrere in Wayne's World to grab a copy ASAP! "I'm gonna enjoy being dead for a while."
The sheer scale of ridiculousness is played out in full here - something that defines most of Dolph's early work. In an early scene, we see our hero avoid a speeding car heading straight at him by literally leaping over it! Oh yeah, boy! Our hero has built his own traditional Japanese home in Los Angeles, only for the scumbag Yakuza goons to burn it to the ground (do they know who they're fucking with??!). And when we get to the final titular showdown with head villain Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (one of the meanest bad guys of all time in the B movies), Dolph gets kitted out in full Samurai garb! Even Brandon Lee, despite being the son of the icon Bruce, cannot fail to be impressed by our hero - his admiration of Dolph's "meaty katana" (already mentioned in this article's introduction) is the perfect example of the homoerotic undertones that lay beneath the surface in every Hollywood buddy cop movie! The violence is savage and efficient (little slo-mo time-wasting here, thank you Mr. Van Damme!), the dialogue is snappy and preposterous (Brandon Lee steals most of the great lines in this picture - another harsh reminder of the charismatic talent that was lost to us far too soon) and Dolph displays his chiseled Swedish muscles to glorious, hard-hitting effect. I urge you to grab a copy & watch it - you will not regret it!
END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: None
(Seriously disappointing, considering that David Michael Frank's score that plays over the credits is ripe for some vocal emoting - someone get Peter Cetera on the line!)
Dark Angel / I Come in Peace (1990)
"Fuck you, Space-man!"
Director: Craig R. Baxley
Tagline: He came in search of a drug so rare it could only be found in one place... Man.
Plot: American cop Jack Caine teams up with by-the-book FBI agent Larry Smith to take down a gang of white collar drug lords, only to discover that an alien warrior has landed on Earth to harvest a drug from the brains of humans for consumption on his own planet. For Caine, the battle becomes personal when his partner is murdered...
One of my fondest memories from my childhood was catching a TV spot for Craig R. Baxley's riotous sci-fi action flick just before I went to bed for the night. The images that were conjured up were absolutely mind-blowing - a white-eyed Vigo the Carpathian look-alike shooting CDs at our man Dolph, who retaliates by firing an automatic space-gun and blowing up everything in sight! It was only 30 seconds of violent ecstasy but it lingered long in the mind for many days afterwards - I was absolutely gutted that I couldn't see it back then! In fact, I would have to wait another 20 years before the joys of Dark Angel were finally released on DVD and I grabbed a copy as soon as I could. Without hesitation, this is my all time favorite Dolph Lundgren actioner - bar none. Everything you could ever want in an action movie is here - white collar drug dealers, alien drug dealers, by-the-book partners, alien policemen, a beautiful girlfriend demanding more relationship commitment, a powered hosepipe-thing to pump heroin into homeless people and sexy female mechanics... There is something for everyone to love here! "Now THAT"S a murder weapon!"
Unlike in Showdown...
Dolph is never outshined by his co-stars here. Brian Benben's straight laced partner is just the foil for our hero's alpha male character to butt heads with, while the earth-bound villains the White Boys are just rent-a-baddies to offer mild threat to our hero. But when Matthias Hues' striking alien drug lord descends on to the scene, we truly believe that Dolph may have finally met his match. Baxley's background in stuntwork comes in very handy when it comes to the action scenes, and these are the most explosive yet in my selection. There is an explosion almost every five minutes, be it cars, gas refineries or even intergalactic space-coppers combusting. The guns don't just fire bullets, but WAVES of bullets. Our antagonist fires razor-sharp CD-looking discs at our heroes - a use of music paraphernalia that rivals Shaun of the Dead
's record throwing antics. And Dolph is thrown around the scenes like a patchwork doll by Hues - something considerably difficult to convince when our guy looms so large on screen. There is a considerable amount of humour injected into the script here, as well as a love story element with Betsy Brantley's lovelorn coroner girlfriend - all allowing Dolph to do more than just kick serious ass. But don't you think our boy has grown soft (not likely, given Betsy's smile after a night of passion with Dolph) - Dark Angel
is still a full-on all-action smackdown of the highest order. Don't believe it when the bad guy tells you, "I come in peace"... But believe Dolph when he says, "And you go in pieces, asshole!" Simply one of the very best in B-movie heaven!END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: Touch Me Tonight (Shooting Star)(No this is more like it! A power ballad that has nothing to do with the film - perfection!)
Even more awesome picture!
Tough talk: "This is for my wife... Fuck you and die!"
Who would win in a fight between Van Damme and Seagal? Just one of those typical playground scenarios that gave us kids an insight to our tastes and choices of movies. Like the whole Sly vs. Arnie debate (for the record, I was on Arnie's side back in the day), many vocally aggressive arguments for and against each cinematic killing machine were fought, without ever offering a definite solution to the question posed. Yet for all of JCVD's spectacular high kicks and Bruce Lee-type overt facial contortions, I always fell onto the side of Steven Seagal. The economy of movement and speed offered up by being a 7th degree black belt in Aikido never failed to convince me that in a true mano-e-mano dust-up, Seagal could put Van Damme to the floor with little effort on his part.
Well, at least before he got fat anyway...
OK that was a cheap shot, but it is a fairly common statement among action aficionados that Seagal's waistline expanded as his movie budgets go smaller. He certainly hasn't lost any of his direct approach to martial arts action, but perhaps physically he hasn't aged quite as well as Van Damme or Lundgren and his DTV actioners are weaker than before. No matter, because we are still left with a wealth of 80s and 90s action classics that offer up solid proof that when it came to slick and spare hard-hitting mayhem, no-one could beat the whispering fists and constant on-screen invulnerability of Steven Frederic Seagal - the Clint Eastwood of martial arts cinema.
The two films I chose to comment on for this article are not even my favourite of Segal's movies (I hold a very special place in my heart for the Under Siege movies), but these are two of the best examples of Seagal's filmic style before he got the chance to play on a naval battleship. It must not be forgotten that until he got too big for his own boots with the environmental actioner On Deadly Ground (from where his star began to wane), every one of Seagal's movies turned a substantial profit - distributors Warner Brothers played it very smart when they unleashed this lethal force onto our screens!
Nico/Above The Law (1988)
"You guys think you're above the law... Well you ain't above mine."
Director: Andrew Davis
Tagline: "He's a cop who believes that no-one is above the law..."
Plot: Italian American former CIA agent turned cop (with strong links to the Mafia) investigates drugs, corruption and illeagal arms trading on the mean streets of Chicago, using lethal Aikido skills learned as a young man in Japan...
Steven Seagal exploded onto the big screen in spectacular fashion with Nico (or Above The Law as it was called elsewhere) and brought a whole new dimension to martial arts cinema. It is an impressive debut, especially since Segal has not even featured in another movie prior to this. He even gets a story credit here - the man certainly went for gold here. Seagal is Nico Toscani (the first of many fantastic character names!) who chooses to fight political and governmental greed and corruption by largely breaking faces and kicking ass with deadly aikido acumen. Toscani's back story even mirrors Seagal's to a degree, with the use of photos from his youth as a young student in Japan. This is a truly audacious introduction to both the man and his artistry, which is deployed in regular fashion in the seedy bars and parking lots of downtown Chicago. The brutal speed of his moves and the ease at which the dumb evil scumbags were taken down made for a refreshing alternative to the high-kicking slo-mo antics of his contemporaries. But Toscani is also a family man too - with a new wife and baby son in the picture. What's this? A caring, family-orientated lethal killing machine?! I'm sold! "Swallow your pride... Choke on it if you have to."
Seagal is also surround by some solid professionals in both cast and crew. The film was helmed by veteran B-picture director Andrew Davis (who would re-team with Seagal to even greater effect in Under Siege), who shoots the action sequences with simple framing and a lovely refrain on hyper-edited jump-cutting - Davis knew all too well that Seagal's technique needed no embellishing. In the cast, Henry Silva adds another straight-from Hell asshole villain to his collection, while Sharon Stone is the lucky gal who gets to play our hero's lady. True, she and token female cop partner Pam Grier have little to do except be the eye-candy to all this testosterone, but hey! We paid to see a man throw a guy into a wall without even flinching - and we get that and then some! Story-wise, Nico has considerable amount of plot details - more than you would usually expect from this type of action film. it won't win any awards for originality - far, far from it - but it was clear to all that with Nico, action cinema had found a new hero... And with an introduction like this, we were rubbing our hands with glee at what lay around the corner.
END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: None - a poor show indeed.
(Somebody get Peter Cetera on the line!)
Out For Justice (1991)
"Yeah, but Richie ain't here! Know why? 'Cause he's a chicken-shit fuckin' pussy asshole!"
Director: John Flynn
Tagline: "He's a cop. It's a dirty job... But somebody's got to take out the garbage."
Plot: Italian-American cop (with strong links to the Mafia) investigates murder, corruption and animal cruelty on the mean streets of New York, using lethal Aikido skills that were probably learned as a young man in Japan...
Even by his own standards, Out For Justice is excessive in its brutality - verbal and physical. Steven Seagal's mullet from Nico has evolved into a slick 90s pony tail, and like Sampson his lethal hands have gotten more deadly! As the exotically-named Detective Gino Felino (sounds like an ice-cream), Seagal metes out bloody-fisted justice as he investigates the brutal shooting of his partner - right in front of his wife and kids. Said psycho is William Forsythe, a regular on the B movie nut-job circuits. Forsythe's Richie Maldano is one of his mega-scumbags, but being a fat, drugged up dickless wonder he is way out of his depth when it comes to Gino Ginelli - sorry, Gino Felino. Segal is on indestructible mode here - in one classic sequence, Gino enters an establishment belonging to Richie's brother Vinnie (Italian-American families in the movies have limited imaginations when naming their children), and proceeds to interrogate everyone in the bar - mostly with his fists and occasionally using a billiard cue and a cue ball/napkin cosh. The combination of martial arts brutality and the mere stupidity of the stooges he throws around (don't they know who they are messing with?!) makes for one of Seagal's best moments on the big screen. "Vinnie! How you doin'?"
Director John Flynn may not have the panache of Davis with Nico
, but he sure has an eye for brutality and lingers long on the gory results of Gino's interrogations. But like Davis before him, he lets Seagal be his own man - leaving the shots un-interrupted as every arm-twist and every neck-break hits the pain target with viscious efficiency. Once again, the action is mainly confined to seedy bars, even seedier strip joints the grimy streets of Brooklyn. OK, so most of the non-violent moments involve Seagal walking around simply asking where Ritchie is - the only noticeable change of delivery is in the location. And the violent scenes are like pretty much all of Seagal's scenes to date (this was the last of his urban actioners before the sea-bound antics of Under Siege
let Segal really fly). But the unusual screen charisma is on full display here - the line delivery is truly unique to Seagal and makes every word have a deeper meaning (!!!) than they would have with any other actor. The cast includes solid character actors such as Jerry Orbach, Juliana Margolies and Gina Gershon (as well as soft-core goddesses Julie Strain and Shannon Whirry), the plot takes a couple of nice little turns as Gino punches and judo-throws his way to the truth and our hero even manages to save his marriage and re-unite his family through righteous killing and excessive use of force... Add in the rose-tinted stories about the homeland and a cute puppy and you have the hallmarks of a true Seagal classic... Just be sure not to throw your unwanted dog out the car window, as Gino might just throw you through the tarmac!END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: Don't Stand In My Way (Gregg Allman)(Seagal makes up for no power ballad in Nico by co-writing and co-producing this country-rock masterpiece - what a guy!)
Tough Talk: "Now take your pig-stick and your boyfriend - and find a bus to catch."
Jean-Claude Van Damme was the first guy to introduce me to the glorious world of martial arts action movies. Sure, I would go on to watch some of the masters at work, indulging in the likes of Eastern megastars Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung and Yuen Bio. But it was a late night screening of Van Damme's 1989 smack-classic Kickboxer to get my high-kicking, judo throwing addiction of to a hard-hitting start. This guy was incredible when I was 12 and fitted right into my burgeoning love of action movies. Heavy European accent? Check. Weak line delivery? Check. Muscled up to the wazoo? Check! The hard hitting training sequences (wait till I got to Jackie Chan!), the patented splits move, the flying roundhouse kick with a contorted look of pained aggression! I loved every sweat-beaded minute!
Van Damme was probably the biggest star of the Deadly 3 on my list. He got to play with some pretty hefty budgets in the mid-90s, with the likes of Timecop, Sudden Death and Street Fighter (let's forget about that one!). But the two movies I have chosen showcase the two different types of action movie that Van Damme specialized in at the early parts of his career - the martial arts contest movie and the gun-toting action movie (with a bit of martial arts thrown in). Just watching them again has got my childhood memories racing back to me... Once I managed to stop laughing so hard!
"Aren't you a little old to be playing videogames?"
Director: Newt Arnold
Tagline: The true story of an American Ninja
Plot: American (with a Belgian accent) goes AWOL from the Army and travels to Hong Kong, to compete in the Kumite - a secret underground martial arts contest where fighters from all countries with all styles duke it out to be the ultimate warrior. American wishes to honor his Japanese father (!!!) and become the 1st Westerner to reign supreme!
How have I never seen this one all the way through before? I had seen bits and bobs when it was broadcast on the box, but the DVD has been sitting in my collection, lying dormant, waiting for its time to strike... And what a movie it is! Everything you could love about Van Damme is laid out in all its glory here. Frank Dux is the first in a long line of foreign-accented American heroes that JCVD would portray throughout his career. But here we have him in one of his earliest leading roles - still a little green, and with his boyish good looks at their prettiest. Anyone who says the man cannot act... Well, they may be right, but there is no arguing that he has certainly improved to some degree at least. But despite this, there is never any doubt about Van Damme's star power here - especially when he makes his physical presence felt with tendon-stretching training montages and brick breaking martial arts skills that defy the laws of physics! Kumite! Kumite!
Van Damme has it all in this movie. He beds the hot journalist (wasn't she Marcia Brady??) within minutes of meeting her - a token JCVD butt shot for the ladies. He leads the pursuing FBI agents (wow, that's Forest Whittaker!) on a Benny Hill-style foot chase to a cheesy 80s power ballad. He befriends a dumb-ass brawler who is put in hospital by the Big Bad of the film (he even gives him a kiss to help him feel better!) before taking on the aforementioned Big Bad in the final fight to end them all! I was crying with laughter all the way through the movie. Van Damme's wide-eyed hero makes for a likeable hero, but you can only be as good as your baddie - and here we have the great Bolo Yeung dusting off against our champion ("You break my record... Now I break you, like I break your friend!"). The cheating scumbag uses every trick he can to gain the upper hand - even throw pixie dust or some shit our hero's eyes. But Van Damme doesn't need sight - he has trained all his other senses to near-superhero level. And now he will bring on the PAIN!
Of all of Van Damme's martial arts contest movies, this really takes the biscuit. Sure, Kickboxer
has the infamous Glass-and-Nails glove fight, but this is way more fun that that! And here we see the physical skills and abilities of Van Damme in full force... All of which promised that some fabulous movies were about to head our way!
END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: Fight to Survive (Stan Bush)
Double Impact (1991)
"Maybe I'm drunk - tomorrow I'll be sober... BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A FAGGOT!"
Director: Sheldon Lettich
Tagline: One packs a punch... One packs a piece... Together they deliver!
Plot: Separated at birth after the death of their British parents, one grows up in LA (with a Belgian accent) while the other grows up in Hong Kong (with a Belgian accent). They meet, fight, fall out and then join up to take down the awful Triad gangsters and corporate traitors to avenge their folks & get back their tunnel-building legacy!
So I follow up Bloodsport with a different kettle of fish from Van Damme. Here is a good example of the type of action movie that all of the Deadly 3 would produce - only JCVD really did the whole martial arts contest thing. But here we have a straight up actioner with a wonderful added bonus... TWO VAN DAMMES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE! This was a real VHS favorite in our household (well, at least for me!) and I would always put this forward as an introduction to Van Damme to my Muscles From Brussels virgin mates. Double Impact is the first of many collaborations with Sheldon Lettich, but for my money this is still the best. You gotta love JCVD for trying the dual role thing here - his limited acting range means the only real difference between the twin heroes Chad and Alex is that one wears black silk underwear and the other slicks back his hair with motor oil (or some other tough guy hair product). But hey! We are not here to criticize our man's acting chops... We just wanna see him kicking chops - repeatedly. And we get that & then some, thanks to one brother's penchant for punches and the other's predilection for firearms. "Didn't I beat you last time?"
This movie is just awesome! Some of the editing choices are really dodgy and they make for excellent entertainment. I mean, nearly every action sequence is shot in slow motion... Completely! That is fine when you are John Woo, but when you are Sheldon Lettich it means your movie is probably 15 minutes longer than it needs to be thanks to all the slo-mo... Although watching Van Damme smash a glass of cognac with his hands in slow motion does make him ten times more manly! There is also one of the GREATEST sex scenes in the movies of all time, with Van Damme and pneumatic love interest Alonna Shaw gyrating in exquisite blue-lit soft focus (this is a fantasy sex scene, naturally) to jungle drum music on a boat - JCVD grunts and moans like a constipated hippo as he thrusts in SLOW MOTION and she just breathes heavily in his direction. Poetry - pure poetry in motion.
Anyway, back to the action - and time to talk about the Big Bads. In Double Impact
we have villains coming out of our ears here. We have our main baddies in Griffith the treacherous financier that took out the hit on our heroes' beloved parents and Zhang the Triad mobster who buys bootleg cognac off Alex and carries a blade in his walking stick (that old chestnut!). Philip Chan makes a welcome return after a bit part in Bloodsport here, but he isn't the only one to return from the previous film... Yep, Bolo Yeung is back baby! Here he has a beautiful scar and a single blue eye contact to really Bond-villain him up, and if anything he has gotten even bigger! There is a fabulous dust-up between Bolo (or Moon, as he is so lamely called here) and Chad - mostly featuring Bolo trying to crush Chad with an oil drum and Chad returning the favour with some non-stop roundhouse kicks! Then there is the guy who only knows how to do a roundhouse kick - but he always wears spurs, making his heels true instruments of death!
But the real baddie highlight for me was Cory Everson as Kara, Griffith's muscular lesbian bodyguard. In truth I have never had a thing for muscle women but Cory could have smacked me down any day! Dressed in tight bondage leather and sporting dark red hair, this villainous bitch has the nerve to touch up our hero's girl and then offer her body to her in return! I was so jealous when I was 13! And don't get me started on the bit where she wraps her legs around Van Damme's head in a choke hold - that would be a real way to die like a man!Double Impact
was a significant success for Van Damme (he is even credited as co-screenwriter!) and his budgets only got bigger throughout the 90s. But I never forgot this movie and it remained a repeat performer on our TV for many years afterwards!
END CREDITS POWER BALLAD: Feel the Impact (Gen)
"Kenner, just in case we get killed, I wanted to tell you - you have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man."
"Thanks. I don't know what to say."
Brandon Lee chooses a great moment to voice his admiration for Dolph Lundgren's natural assets - just as the Yakuza are about to launch a full scale assault on their hideout in Showdown in Little Tokyo.
Yes - this exchange happens right before a major gunfight. And what a great exchange it is... A perfect blend of homoerotic undertone, blatant lead actor ego-boosting and total irrelevance to the plot or action.
Welcome to the world of the B-grade action superstars!
Thanks to the valiant efforts of big hitters like Stallone and Schwarzenegger in The Expendables films, we have seen the big screen return of Lundgren, Van Damme, Snipes, Norris - some of the most notorious secondary action stars of the 80s and 90s. But back in their testosterone-induced Alpha male heyday, while Sly and Arnie were gunning down swathes of Soviet army scum and intergalactic human-hunters in droves, these were the "Other Guys"; the lower budget action heroes that mainly focused on taking on drug dealers, foreign gangsters and corrupt cops. The violence was at times more brutal and bone-crunching, and martial arts were always the main weapons of choice.
In one way I always felt sorry for them. These guys rarely had the budgets or the (try not to laugh) writing to fully support their endeavors in the quest for Box Office domination. The standards set by the Big Two left a high watermark in audience expectation that these boys would struggle to match. But what they may lack in scale, they more than made up for with fury ... These boys didn't need anti-tank missiles and four-way rocket launchers - they had their fists! These guys could take out the entire Mafia with just one roundhouse kick! Danny Glover would have to register them ALL as lethal weapons!
And I could not think of a better way to spend this wet and miserable Bank Holiday than by indulging in my favourite 3 Killing Machines - Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren. I have picked two movies from each of these demi-gods of kill - two movies that I believe reflect the very best of their low-grade genius and charisma. These will never be on anyone's Must See movie list, but to ignore them would be to miss out on something special.
It is a real shame that these boys have been largely consigned to the small screen. Yes, The Expendables may have given these DTV superstars a trip back to the big screen, but they are largely just extended cameos. And yes, their movies are poor in terms of writing, character development and structure - sticking to pre-conscribed motives and methods. But they are GLORIOUSLY bad movies, with no hint of irony or wit and yet they can be the funniest things you will ever see! So I suggest you grab your nearest four-pack of beer, send the lady off to the mall and I invite you to re-assess your prejudices and give these boys another shake of the action stick!
First up, we have Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg. He is the Muscles From Brussels himself...
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME.
"Hey dude - This is no cartoon!"
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Well imagine my surprise when box office headlines from the last weekend
screamed about the success of Platinum Dunes' recent blockbuster revamp Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
broke records to be a financial success and the production company hurriedly releasing statements about a sequel already being in the works... It is so difficult to put irony into text, but please believe me - it is there. As usual, the internet became awash with blue language and violent threats (it always amazes me how tough people become when they think they are cloaked in anonymity, thanks to the Web) - aimed primarily at brain-free film juggernaut Michael "The Bayhem" Bay. Not since the days of Ed Wood has so much vitriol been spouted in the direction of one film maker.
Now before I go any further, I must make a statement for any defense I must put forward letter on.
I am in no way a Bayhem fan or supporter in any respect... I do not share his views, politically, ethically - whatever. So please do not hold it against me when I say this:-
IT IS ALL YOUR OWN FAULT.Now before you all reach for the keyboards and re-direct that Bay-hate towards me, please let me explain. I am sure that not EVERYONE is responsible for what I'm about to discuss. And yet I strongly suspect that the majority will realize that they are guilty of aiding Mr. Bay in his quest for your hard-earned pennies. Many movie-goers in the present day seem to attend screenings of all the big blockbusters from Hollywood with the intense suspicion that they will dislike the film they are about to spend a fair chunk of cash on. It can't have escaped anyone when people talk about going to see "Marvel DC Comic Adaptation IV: The Scraping of the Barrel" and exclaim to their friends that, "It's probably gonna be crap!" This is completely baffling to me... Why would you go pay a ridiculous amount of money on a cinema ticket and a stupid amount of popcorn, candy and fizzy pop if you are not going to be entertained?The only answer that I can fathom is that people LOVE going to see movies they will hate! Now this sounds awfully self-defeating, but it would explain so much. If there is one thing the Internet has taught us, it is that people love to throw their two cents into the ring about anything and everything. I mean, even I am guilty of this - how could my blog even exist if that was not the case?! With the ease that blogs and comment pages are set up these days, we see an explosion of opinions and arguments everywhere we look. So it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to suggest that an inflated sense of self-importance and vanity is easily filtered into pop culture and music, with film and TV producers feeding that demand with glee. Film making is a business as well as an art (perhaps it is more business than art, but that is another argument entirely!). The world is still recovering from a catastrophic financial downturn and so savvy film producers have taken properties already out in the zeitgeist and remade or "re-imagined" old movies, comics, whatever - happy in the knowledge that they are in a "Win-Win" situation... The lovers will come to see the film and love it, the haters will come to the film so they can hate it. This cannot be an alien concept (especially if someone like Megan Fox understands this)? And can you imagine what will happen if a sequel is put out? Think of the money that can be made!The funniest thing about this situation is that the viewers have the power to make or break these films more than ever! If all those Michael Bay haters had just left TMNT alone and seen something else, the threat of a sequel would have become laughably small! But this is Michael Bay's true gift - he knows that no matter what he does, people will come see his movies regardless. Not one of his films have lost money - that is a cold, hard fact. So when people lament about how they cannot believe that Bay keeps getting movies madden, perhaps a little inward attention would give you the reasons as to why.
It really isn't too difficult. I remember the discussions that came around when José Padilha's remake of Robocop
came around earlier this year. People were coming up to me and telling me it is gonna be garbage but they would still go see this. When I was asked if I had seen it, I stated that I had not. This was something of a surprise to people, as they knew how much I love the movies and they couldn't grasp why I was so un-interested. And yet my response was easily explained - for me, a remake of Paul Verhoeven's 80's classic cannot offer anything that I cannot get from the peerless original. I believed it to be a pointless exercise and I still stand by that. To this day I have still not seen it, and so I cannot say whether the remake is any good or not. But thanks to the relatively weak showing the film had at the cinemas (it made a little money, but not nearly as much as people had expected), a sequel would appear unlikely.
You see how you can stop all this? If all the haters just temper their curiosity and stay in for a change, perhaps we could all be spared the travesty of so many producers running slipshod over some of our personal favorites? It certainly is food for thought, at the very least.
It is certainly something I will be thinking about when I go see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Bayhem Redux
(Please don't hate me - I enjoyed the 1990 original movie as a kid, but it was hardly a classic, so I wanna see what Bay's boys have done... And I reckon I'm gonna enjoy it!)
"DIck, I'm VERY disappointed..."