GAME OF DEATH (2010) – This is a very interesting film, that belies its pretty tepid IMDB and Amazon ratings. Wesley Snipes stars as a covert agent who finds himself betrayed by his own team, and out in the cold with hundreds of millions in dollars fueling his death.
It is a very low key film, that has some quirky points I have not previously seen in an action/thriller, such as an assassin possessing a well known ailment, and having to perform while dealing with said ailment.
I was quite intrigued by this film’s general quirkiness and oddness, however the real selling point for the film is the fight scenes. They are by no means plentiful but when they come they are jaw dropping. Wesley Snipes remains an awesome martial artist to watch perform and these fight scenes are particularly and literally bone-breaking, and helped by strong direction and cinematography.
And finally the story itself and performances moved at a fast clip, kept me engaged and entertained and culminated in a satisfying conclusion. Zoe Bell, Aunjanue L. Ellis, Robert Davi (A walking ‘Movie Tough Guy’ Institution with over a 120 film and TV credits to his name) and Gary Daniels (showing the impressive Kickboxing skills that made him a World Champion) deliver straight forward but compelling performances.
I like the clean, stripped to the bone efficiency of this film’s narrative. No pesky side-kick (the plodding THE CONTRACTOR comes to mind), or hackneyed back story, or awful comedy relief, or crow-barred in relationship/love-story (all of which Wesley Snipes has had to deal with, as have most action actors). The flash-back framing excepted, this film is almost in real time and is simply about a mission that goes wrong… and dealing with it.
All-in-all a tight and largely impressive 90 minutes. The fight scenes alone, put this high on the recommend list, and will keep this film one that stands up to repeated viewings. Grade: B/B+. Based on the strength of this film I’m looking forward to Snipes’ upcoming films including EXPENDABLES III! Yeah Baby!
You can try the film for free on the on-demand channel CRACKLE. Easily available if you have a Roku Digital Media receiver.
Or for the ‘I just want to buy a DVD’ demographic among you (I’m a card-carrying member :)), you go here: Game of Death [Blu-ray]!
30 Years of Jean-Claude Van Damme
According to AMG (courtesy of Fandango), Jean Claude’s first film was 30 years ago in 1983 with the romantic french comedy MONACO FOREVER.
So to celebrate 30 film years of Jean Claude Van Damme we’ll start with this simple article listing his filmography over these thirty years, along with random notes.
MONACO FOREVER (1983)
BLACK EAGLE (1986)
NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER (1988) – The film that put the world champion kick-boxer turned actor on the map, here playing a villain
BLOODSPORT (1988)- His first starring/hero role
CYBORG (1989)- A panned film when not being overlooked, this sci-fi flick mixing a dystopian future with lots of action, while undeniably low budget and of its time, I personally am a huge fan of.
NOWHERE TO RUN 1993
STREET FIGHTER (1994) -With the under-performance of this film is where the brakes on Van Damme’s skyrocketing popularity and career (already lessening a bit from NOWHERE TO RUN) began getting applied
SUDDEN DEATH (1995) – A good movie, perhaps one of his best from that period, it possessed a ‘DIE-HARD’ premise to it, it nevertheless underperformed at the theaters.
THE QUEST (1996) -
MAXIMUM RISK (1996) – His first of many impressive collaborations with Director Ringo Lam, Lam was the first director to get a real performance out of Van Damme, and a fantastic and very nuanced and heart-felt performance it is. It would signal the changing of the guard for Van Damme’s career as his drawing power as a mainstream action star would start drying up, and smaller budget, direct to video films would be the order of the day, but Van Damme as actor would increasingly emerge. MAXIMUM RISK is one of my favorite Van Damme films.
DOUBLE TEAM (1997)- Tsui Hark, following in the footsteps of fellow country-men John Woo and Ringo Lam, chooses Van Damme to make his Hollywood directorial debut. Unfortunately the film is a creative and commercial misstep, that would signal the beginning of the end to Hollywood’s love-affair with Van Damme.
DESERT HEAT (1998) -
KNOCK OFF (1998) -
LEGIONAIRRE (1999) -
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER:THE RETURN (1999) – For all intents and purposes the end (for a time) of Van Damme’s Hollywood Career.
REPLICANT (2001)- The 21st century has arrived, and the rise of home video and DVD makes direct to video (DTV) productions possible. Alternative avenues to get your movie out there for studios that cannot get or afford theatrical distribution. DTV would allow Van Damme, and other abandoned once Hollywood darlings (such as Seagal and Snipes)to continue making movies. REPLICANT, a merely serviceable film, is the first of Van Damme’s next phase of his film career.
THE ORDER (2001) -
DERAILED (2002) -
IN HELL (2003)- A fantastic Van Damme performance and film, helmed by Ringo Lam
WAKE OF DEATH (2004) – Another fantastic DTV film. This and IN HELL showing the older Van Damme not just a better actor than in his youth, but making better films. As both of these films are better than anything he produced in his Hollywood years, with the exception of MAXIMUM IMPACT and SUDDEN DEATH.
SECOND IN COMMAND (2006) -
THE HARD CORPS (2006) -
SINAV (2006) -
UNTIL DEATH (2007)-
THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL (2007)
JCVD (2008) – This is the movie that really revitalized Van Damme’s image, and by so doing, his career. Part action/heist flick, part psuedo-documentary, part bio-pic, it’s a deeply personal film that uses innovative 4th wall breaking cinematography and exciting story and action, and a wrenching performance by Van Damme to make it one of Van Damme’s most critically lauded films.
In many ways JCVD signals the third phase of his career, his return to mainstream prominence while continuing to also do his DTV work, a two pronged ‘best of both worlds’ approach where Van Damme is increasingly the action equivalent to Brando (in terms of longevity) to younger actors’ Pacino. He brings the name and gravity and they bring the youth and the bulk of fight scenes. Most notably this dynamic is seen in his very successful, recent collaborations with the amazing Scott Adkins.
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION (2009)- A direct result of JCVDs popularity, sporting an exciting new director in John Hyams and littered with brutally talented young MMA performers, this is a sequel that completely improves upon its inane and mediocre predecessors. It is, without reservation, a great action film.
THE EAGLE PATH (2010)-
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011)-
ASSASSINATION GAMES (2011) -Another fantastic action/thriller co-starring Scott Adkins.
SIX BULLETS (2011)-A strong first half, goes off the rails at the end with the parents unbelievably becoming Mr and Mrs Rambo.
DRAGON EYES (2012)-
EXPENDABLES 2 (2012) – A rare return to villain status for Van Damme. Good to see him back, thanks to Stallone, in Hollywood’s good graces.
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER:DAY OF RECKONING- Van Damme’s third collaboration with John Hyams, while sporting very little Van Damme, is a home-run and illustrates a bit of that passing of the torch that is going on between him and Scott Adkins (with that whole Apocalypse Now vibe running through it). I loved REGENERATION and DAY OF RECKONING is even better. Part Horror, part sci-fi, part thriller, part action, it is some of the most exciting film-making I’ve seen in a while. Really quite impressive.
And 2013 and 2014 has other projects in the pipeline for Van Damme, and whether these projects are met with accolades or are derided, the given is Van Damme himself shall continue to be a charismatic and watchable screen presence, that gives his all.
I look forward to seeing the work yet to come.
Brought to you by my MONARCHS OF MAYHEM Indiegogo campaign.
If you like this blog, definitely go view and support our MONARCHS OF MAYHEM campaign. There are only a few days left and we only need a 147 of you to contribute at the $35 level to make the book happen! We can do it!
Go view it and support it here! Thanks!
I’m still toying with cover ideas for MONARCHS OF MAYHEM, below is one. the photo was taken by yours truly. I’m relatively proud of it. I’ll post more ideas as they pop up.
MONARCHS OF MAYHEM is a book full of interviews with writers of the weird and pulp and strange. From the pulp stylings of Ferguson to the subtle horror of Gavin to the breakneck thrills of Olden.
It takes the existing five interviews you can find here, updates and expands them, and adds five more interviews not previously published, and combines it with extensive photos of the authors own works but more than that their inspirations, their loves, their peers to bring a strange and evocative book filled with posters, book covers, DVD and CD recommendations and much more. 96 pages, hardcover, limited edition.
Sounds really intriguing? I think so.
To make it happen I need you (yes you! :)) to swing by the Indiegogo page linked to below, take some of your friends and support the project at the $35 level. At that level you get the hardcover book.
You make it happen here!
Join the final push to open your quintessential neighborhood coffee shop
At the $25 level you get a cool mug, a free drink, and 10% off every-time you use that mug! That’s a deal!
The neXt generation, shape-shifting, 3D logic puzzle.
For a measly $40 you get the X-cube, which is like Rubik’s Cube on steroids! Sold!!
Timbuktu Archival Effort
In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss.
Sounds like a really solid cause.
VacuVita is a fully-automated and sustainable kitchen system that keeps food fresh for up to 5 times longer!
Really fantastic rewards at the $13 and $39 and $99levels.
And last but not least
MONARCHS OF MAYHEM – Words and Images Art Book – Click Here
A beautiful book that collects, compiles and expands a series of articles/interviews with some of the most exciting creators of Pulp and Weird Fiction.
Yep Gals and Guys, the long awaited MONARCHS OF MAYHEM book is here, and at the $35 reward level it can be yours. Support this project fellow subscribers, bloggers, podcasters and browsers. All I need is a 150 of you to take a look, and decide to say yes. You’ll be glad you did by being rewarded with a great art/interview book!
Today’s classic comic cover (alliteration is your friend) is a Jim Aparo cover from writer Bob Haney’s crazy 1970s run on BRAVE AND THE BOLD. This is one of the best books DC was putting out back in the 70s, and even back then the stories were outrageous non sequiturs, diverging wildly from established DC tropes of storytelling and often character. I loved Bob Haney’s stories, and being even of their time the stories were out of their time, and therefore remain oddly timeless.
This particular cover and comic of the day is BRAVE AND THE BOLD #149, from 1979, starring BATMAN in conflict with the TEEN TITANS, and titled ‘LOOK HOMEWARD, RUNAWAY’. Both the absurd and highly entertaining writing of Bob Haney and fluid and graceful art of Jim Aparo are at full gallop in this fun story.
If interested grab a copy here!
Enjoy till next time!
Today’s Webcomic of the day is GRAVEDIGGER, beautifully drawn noir tinged crime webcomic, starring a character that bears more than a passing resemblance to movie heist hardman Lee Marvin.
Well drawn and engagingly written. Check it out here!