Tag Archives: Sports

Review of The Running Man (1987)

27 Dec

The Running Man (1987) is a sci-fi/action/comedy film, which is very loosely based on the Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge (1992), Kazaam (1996)), who is best known for portraying David Starsky in the hit TV series Starsky & Hutch.

Written by Steven E. de Souza (Street Fighter (1994), Die Hard (1988)), known for being the writer behind some of the biggest blockbusters starring various action stars.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Mick Fleetwood and others.

And again I’m thrown into a dystopian version of future, the year 2019, as I wonder how come the future looks like 80’s so much. But before that we can enjoy a sequence where Arnold’s character is framed by government using some security footage taken from a conversation in a helicopter. For our enjoyment the footage is 35mm film quality, shot from multiple angles, from cameras which we don’t see from a directly opposite angle and so forth.

Then we see Arnold in prison rocking an awesome beard, which I wish he had left for the rest of the film, but sadly no.

Of course, he escapes and soon he meets Maria Conchita Alonso. This leads to me being exposed to some painful dialogue between two people with the most heavy accents they could’ve gotten. As usual I’m led to wondering why people never address his accent in his movies. It’s like “hey people, I know this is movie is about people fighting for their lives in awful outfits on public television, but what you really have to suspend your disbelief for is this huge guy always talking with an accent thicker than John Holmes’ penis.”

In comparison with the novel this can barely be called an adaptation, Schwarzenegger is the most inappropriate casting for Ben Richards. Somehow there’s more than one movie where there’s this ordinary guy that easily blends in and then they cast this 6-foot tall Austrian bodybuilder, because minor shit like characters don’t matter. Arnold did a bit more similar character to Ben Richards in Total Recall, but it’s still fucking Conan, wearing a jacket.

The movie attempts at the kind of social satire, that was popular and sort of worked in the 80’s, but it doesn’t come close to how well it was done in Robocop. There’s a Star Trek joke that actually works better now.

There’s a scene where some people watch a TV in a bar and I bet the extras weren’t told that they are reacting to a bunch of girls dancing, because I don’t think they would be so excited, cheering and yelling “yeah, go!” all the time.

Of course they decide to dress the leads into the most ridiculous looking spandex suits I’ve ever seen. And not all of the actors are as fit as Arnold, who tries to redeem his outfit by saying “I’ll be back” once again.

I’d like to see a remake of this, that would tone down the cheesiness and follow the novel closer by going for a tone more similar to that of Blade Runner perhaps.

Of course this doesn’t come close to Batman & Robin, but a pretty big portion of Arnold’s dialogue consists of just bad puns and one-liners. Then again, the same can be said about Arnold’s career as a whole. On the other hand who else can deliver a line like this “I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!”?

Overall it’s a really bad and over-the-top film, but if you’re anything like me and have a significant amount of appreciation for cheesy 80’s action movies I think you will enjoy it as well. Recommended for all the wrong reasons.

Pictured: What everyone will be wearing 8 years from now.

Review of Bare Knuckles (2010)

8 Nov

Bare Knuckles (2010) is a straight-to-DVD sports/drama/action film.

Directed by Eric Etebari (Expulsion (2011 Short)), who is better known as an actor, as this is his feature-length directorial debut.

Written by Robert Redlin (McCinsey’s Island (1998), After Dark, My Sweet (1990)).

Starring: Jeanette Roxborough, Martin Kove, Bridgett Riley, Louis Mandylor and others.

I didn’t start watching this with high expectations, but considering my love for the Rocky franchise, there’s certainly some things I do expect from boxing movies. It’s weird to say, but I wished they would’ve copied Rocky‘s formula a bit more, the film could only benefit from that.

In this narrow sub-genre being cliché is almost unavoidable, so the premise of the story isn’t all that bad. My understanding is that the film was highly influenced by Jeanette Roxborough’s actual life, being a stunt-woman and a mother of a handicapped child. That is a unique angle to add to the story, but somehow they fail to insert the intensity of the real-life drama and while it spends enough time on exploring these issues, it seems to have inserted Roxborough’s handicapped daughter as some sort of MacGuffin, just to move the story along.

As I mentioned Jeanette Roxborough is a professional stunt-woman, which shows in her acting a bit, but not too badly. On the other hand she makes up for what she lacks in acting skills by her convincing physical performance. Martin Kove is unsurprisingly the best actor in the movie and gives a solid performance. The other actors aren’t necessarily bad, but the fact that they play these cheesy caricatures really doesn’t help.

The whole “training with the bodybuilder tranny” sequence is really creepy and then it goes on in to this idiotic scene, where they discuss the other fighters in a manner that is the movie equal of a fighting video game’s character screen.

The fights themselves are pretty bad, using slow motion seemingly at random, most fights aren’t “bare-knuckle” at all, since the fighters are wearing gloves and performs various wrestling moves. Also it might be more realistic, but looks terribly uncinematic, when most fights last about 30 seconds and those are the full fights, not montages of highlights.

It is shot in HD video, which makes the fights look more like the ones we’d see on TV, but overall, combined with the movie’s cheesiness makes it seem like it’s made about a decade ago.

The script is the worst part of the whole thing. I kept thinking that it could have been easily improved by just a rewrite by someone (more) competent.

Overall, it isn’t totally awful and unwatchable, but it throws so much stupidity at you that there really isn’t anything to recommend it for.

"I'm acting... with my fists!"

 

Review of Death Race 2000 (1975)

2 Oct

Death Race 2000 (1975) – is a sci-fi/action/dark comedy film,  based on the short story The Racer by Ib Melchior.

Directed by Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul (1982), Cannonball! (1976)), a moderately successful low-budget director.

Written by Robert Thom (Wild in the Streets (1968), Bloody Mama (1970)) and Charles B. Griffith (The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Wild Angels (1966)).

Starring: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth, Martin Kove, Mary Woronov, John Landis and others.

Essentially the movie is just about this racing event that takes place in a dystopian future (well, not now, because it is set in the year 2000) America, where it is just about the greatest form of entertainment there is and the society has degraded and have so little regard for human life that they watch an event, where contestants are awarded points if they run over people, the more vulnerable the target the better, so you should watch out for people in wheelchairs, they’re the bullseye.

This is basically The Running Man of the 70’s, so yeah, it’s over-the-top and cheesy, but in the good way. It has B-movie cult classic written all over it. It comments on the similar themes about entertainment, the game-show culture, the violence on TV, but it also attacks one specific group of people – the NASCAR fans. I think it’s no secret that a lot of people who watch it, really expect the cars to crash at some point, that has become in some ways  more interesting than the winner of the race, but it’s just human nature, even if we acknowledge it intellectually, there’s something emotionally that wants the thrill of it. It is questionable how surely the movie walks the line of satire without falling into condoning the characters.

Most fun was watching Sylvester Stallone playing a constantly spitting and screaming asshole. He overacts so ridiculously it becomes very entertaining. And then he also ass-rapes a construction worker with a huge sword mounted on his car. And he punches a woman and then strangles a woman and then has his ass handed to him by David Carradine, who despite his comical S&M gimp outfit is still pretty cool. It briefly features a young Martin Kove.

The movie’s low budget is rather apparent, the cars look really cheap and cheesy, there’s almost no attempt to make anything look even slightly futuristic or just not  70’s, TV reporters have microphones, that strongly resemble sex toys, not even slightly realistic matte paintings and so on, but that just adds to the reasons why people enjoy movies like this.

I must give credit to the racing scenes. Those Fast And Furious guys could learn a thing or two about car racing movies, because I was a lot more excited in this than in any of those movies, where Paul Walker refuses to act.

Overall, I found it quite enjoyable. Recommended for B-movie genre fans or if you want to see Sly’s early work as long as you don’t take it seriously, because the filmmakers clearly didn’t.

Sly will tommygun the shit out of you (if you don’t get sword-raped in the ass instead)