BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

Advertisements

10 BEST CAR CHASE/ACTION SCENES of all Time!!

https://i1.wp.com/imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/40/4031/LWBLF00Z/posters/bullitt-french-movie-poster-1968.jpgBULLET – A classic, and on everyone’s list for a reason.

BORDER COP – The first few minutes of this 36 year old movie had my mouth agape. As It sports an unexpected and insane car chase sequence by anyone’s definition. Whatever they were paying the stunt man/men was not enough. The only car chase sequence in the film, it’s good enough on its own to earn a place on any list. BORDER COP is so many different and warring things together, it jumps genres so unexpectedly from a jaw dropping car chase movie in the first few minutes, to a low key drama, to a harrowing expose of business and cruelty both of the animal and human variety on the bloody US/Mexican border. A nearly 40 year old movie that sadly, and disgracefully is as relevant today as the day it was made. A solid movie.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Raid 2: Berandal (#4 of 6)RAID 2 – Written, Edited and Directed by Gareth Evans there is much to recommend RAID 2. It’s a great Martial Arts movie, sporting some of the most brilliantly choreographed fight and knife scenes ever put to film, it is also an incredibly violent (and convoluted) crime/gangster movie. In addition it also showcases one of the most bad-ass car chase scenes. Starting at about the 1hour 50 minute mark, when most movies have already finished, RAID 2 is just warming up.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry Movie Poster

DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY– The quintessential 70s American Car Chase movie, this whole film is one long chase. A great car chase film, and a great film.

 

Cotton Comes to Harlem Movie PosterCOTTON COMES TO HARLEM – Predating Friedkin’s FRENCH CONNECTION by a year, Director Ossie Davis’ 1970 Action/Comedy Adaptation of Chester Himes COTTON COMES TO HARLEM showcases a great car chase scene. The scene, that involves a van and a bail of cotton, originates some chase sequences that Friedkin would appropriate for his own film, and filmmakers have been using since. Age not withstanding the car chase scene in COTTON COMES TO HARLEM is better than its imitators… and a lot more fun,

 

https://thisisnotadvertising.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/hire_wp-728059.jpg?w=444THE HIRE– What do you get when one of the most respected car companies gets together with some of the most respected action directors to craft a series of ads/short films…. you get THE HIRE, iconic short films that revive and improve upon the heyday of the car chase film. Short Films that would inspire the feature length TRANSPORTER series. Arguably the short films are better.

 

The Seven-Ups Movie PosterTHE SEVEN UPS – Philip D’ Antoni’s film, seen as something of an unofficial followup to FRENCH CONNECTION, sporting many of that film’s cast and crew and themes, is by far the superior film to the Academy Award winning FRENCH CONNECTION. The fact that the mediocre FRENCH CONNECTION has an Academy Award reiterates my thesis that the Academy has a tendency to reward films that reinforce or refresh for a new generation these racist mindsets and mentalities, often in heroic lights; From A BIRTH OF A NATION to THE JAZZ SINGER to GONE WITH THE WIND to MONSTERS BALL to FRENCH CONNECTION, the Academy is always happy to reward Minstrel Shows, films with Black Faces that are there to reinforce and present White Messages. THE SEVEN UPS Thankfully is not that type of film, and concerns itself strictly with telling a compelling crime film. Which it does in spades, complete with a car chase that starts around the 52 minute mark, and runs 12 minutes, that is easily the superior to the one in FRENCH CONNECTION; and THE SEVEN UP car chase can easily be ranked as one of the best of all time.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Sabotage (#3 of 13)SABOTAGE – One of the latter day, post-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, SABOTAGE is surprisingly a home run. David Ayer, a director I tend to feel is too heavy handed, here finds a story and actors and a co-writer that tend to ameliorate his often too unlikable protagonists and world view. Here Schwarzenegger leads a DEA strike force, up against their deadliest enemy. Besides being a solid action thriller this film also sports an insane 10 minute car chase scene. The actors really sell this 10 minutes and make this a chase scene that holds up.

 

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Movie PosterMISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION – As much as James Bond in its 50 years is known for car chases I couldn’t find one strong enough to surpass the car chases in the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE franchise. Notably this one from ROGUE NATION is the best MISSION IMPOSSIBLE car chase. From cars to bikes, just an astounding and fun 8 minute sequence.

 

Bad Boys II Movie PosterBAD BOYS II – Michael Bay is often vilified, for reasons that seem to me to amount to people upset that his movies are populist entertainment. Of the 13 feature films he has done in the last 22 years, five are devoted to a toy franchise, and the majority of the rest standard summer action fare. But action fare done really, really well.

Michael Bay at the top of his game is a great filmmaker, and I think nothing highlights this as well as his first feature BAD BOYS and his last 13 HOURS.

BAD BOYS II however is neither of those films, being neither popular nor successful. It is definitely a misfire, it is too long and the comedy misses more often than it hits, leading to overlong cringeworthy scenes you want to fast forward past rather than laugh at. Trying to emulate the success of the first film, they get the mixture of comedy and action wrong. That said, even when the comedy fails, the action and visuals never do. I have always loved Michael Bay’s use of the camera, he uses a lovely panning, roving style that is simply exquisite. Michael Bay understands the essence of the Heroic and is able to convey that in the panning of a camera. And arguably it is in this flawed film that Michael Bay crafts some of the best and most beautiful action set-pieces of his career.

Woody Strode who spent a career in films directed by legends such as John Ford and Fernando Di Leo and Richard Brooks and Stanley Kubrick, always considered his favorite director and his favorite moment on screen, was his wordless, almost cameo appearance, in the opening of Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

Michael Bay is that type of director, a painter of romanticized heroism, of images that galvanize and rouse, and unfortunately a lot of that talent was buried for the last decade filming CGI robots, BAD BOYS II is a great reminder of what Bay can do when filming captivating actors and captivating places.

BAD BOYS II is a flawed movie, but it has moments of greatness in it. And the 10 minute car scene alone is worth marveling at more than once and is Michael Bay at his blockbuster best. And more than than is one of cinema’s best car chase scenes.

Isaac Florentine and Scott Adkins’ CLOSE RANGE (2015)

close_range_xlg

CLOSE RANGE (2015)

There are a few solid newer names in the action genre that despite any other failings of the film, are always a joy to watch.

Names like Michael Jai White (Where is my sequel to BLOOD AND BONE??!!!),  Tony Jaa, Markor Zaror (of REDEEMER fame, a great, if flawed, action flick, with a middle fight that stands out as one of the best of the decade), IKO UWAIS (RAID 2 fame) Lateef Crowder Dos Santos, Gary Daniels.

And of course… Scott Adkins.

He has been acting since 1998, but arguably it is 2005’s UNLEASHED opposite Jet Li, and 2006’s UNDISPUTED 2 opposite Michael Jai White that really made him a sought after action actor. He followed those movies up with increasingly higher profile  films to include UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF REDEMPTION (directed by the impressive 2nd generation director, John Hyams) and EXPENDABLES 2. And he has become  a solid and prolific  actor in the action genre/VOD market, doing 4 films in 2015 and working on 7 movies in 2016. Now his choices of film are not always the best, but he is always a solid positive in any film he is in.

It is an upward trajectory to take note of, and along with his aforementioned contemporaries, White, Jaa, and Zaror; these men are the natural heirs to the late 20th century generation of Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Dam, Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Chuck Norris. They just do it largely in the fragmented world of VOD.

This review is on one of those VOD works, 2015’s CLOSE RANGE, in which Adkins teams again with director and fellow martial artist Isaac Florentine.

 

close_range_ver2

UNDISPUTED 2 was also the movie to put Isaac Florentine on most peoples radar, and was his first collaboration with Scott Adkins.  And like other directors who found their muse in front of the camera, such as John Ford and John Wayne, John Woo and Chow Youn Fat, Martin Scorsese and Robert Dinero, Spike Lee and Denzell Washington, Tony Scott and Denzell Washington, Florentine definitely found Adkins to be that pairing for him, as the two have worked on (as of this writing) five movies together. And while their movies have been of varying quality, I would Say UNDISPUTED 2 being by a great margin, their best film (in no small part due to Michael Jai White) followed by this film CLOSE RANGE.

Isaac Florentine continues to improve as a director and storyteller, and for the most part CLOSE RANGE shows this off. From the exciting pre-credit onwards, it is a solidly entertaining film.

Among the entertaining items in this film is another unexpected mini-credit sequence for the bad guys, as they drive toward their reckoning. It’s quite charming.

Speaking of bad guys, Jeremy Marinas who stars as Cruz, is the  Fight Choreographer of the film, and in both roles he does an exceptional job. His brawl with Scott Adkins being the highlight of the film. Which does make the remainder of the film a bit anti-climatic. He is definitely someone to watch as both actor and Choreographer.

And Director Isaac Florentine shows flashes of inspiration in this film, showing innovative ways to keep fresh an old genre.

CLOSE RANGE is very much an action/western hybrid.  Channeling Leone  in its use of closeup and stare-off, of making landscapes of faces, while it never rises to Leone heights, it is a darn entertaining action film. It does become a bit repetitive toward the end. Florentine draws out some scenes too long, particularly the final standoff, to the point of self-parody (the problem I had with all of UNDISPUTED 3 , it played more as a parody than a serious film). But these missteps aside overall a very entertaining flick. Grade: B-/B.

 

 

Netflix Movie of the Day : CALL ME KING

callmeking


R.L. Scott’s CALL ME KING- “I quickly outgrew the council of old men, and looked toward the future” Part action, part pulpy western fueled gangster thriller, part quirky and idiosyncratic familial soap opera, director/screen writer RL Scott’s CALL ME KING is an addictive, compulsive watch.

Undeniably low budget, with a weak reverse Cinderella B-storyline that arguably detracts from the stronger main story, but what elevates this gangster film above its missteps is the Multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-ethnic scope.

It is a film of and for the 21st Century, with fantastic faces, of hard men from hard places. A wonderfully shot and lyrically scripted layered storyline diatribe on the fall and rise of nations, and walkers in dark places. Part mythic western, part poetic treatise on violence.

Other highlights… I love the first shot and last shot of this film, making haunting and foreboding something ordinary. Add to that compelling cinematography, bone crunching martial arts fight choreography, and an addictive score and you have a $100,000 film that is more entertaining than films with a thousand times that budget,

And it is worth noting that R.L. Scott wears half the hats on this production; being not only the Director and Writer, but also the fight choreographer, stunt man, producer, and cinematographer. Wow, simply no end to this guy’s talents. This is a film and a filmmaker to watch.

Currently see it for free on Netflix, but then it is one to own on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a film deserving of a great directors commentary, and special features. Highly Recommended.

Grade: B+.

I’m reaching out to the filmmakers to see when we can expect a Blu-Ray with special features and commentary, and will update when ready, but till that is available the DVD can be had at the link below:

Call Me King

This week’s best and worst Roku VOD Streaming Channels!

 

This week’s best and worst Roku VOD Streaming Channels!

 

The Best:

Netflix amazon_lead

The two pay channels of NETFLIX and AMAZON PRIME, without any surprise I think,  come highly recommended, and were I to guess, they probably make up most of Roku’s streaming traffic.

Netflix for its growing empire of original programming (including DAREDEVIL, HOUSE OF CARDS) and selection of hotter in demand movies is a must-have channel for anyone.

AMAZON PRIME for its wealth of movie content, and a good number of older shows that are not available on NETFLIX, comes in a close second in terms of must have streaming channels.

Those are the only paid streaming channels I have or recommend.

The rest are no-cost, ad-supported, channels. Some of these are worth your time, many of them are not.

The one’s that are hits this week are:

 

popcornflix

POPCORN FLIX

Why? Well, good selection of older films and eclectic shows, mostly solid quality(screen pixelates occasionally) and ad interruptions kept to a minimum. this week’s recommended movies and shows are PHANTOM PUNCH (a Sonny Liston bio-pic directed by Robert Townsend), THE ASSAULT, IN HELL, TUNNEL RATS, SHUFFLE, BIG BAD WOLF, WYVERN, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, FREE MEN, BADCITY, GODKILLER and  CHILLERS – A short lived horror series  hosted by Anthony Perkins

 

ON

I tend not to watch regular TV, so this is a good channel for keeping abreast of the current pop culture and entertainment news. Some highlights are ESCAPE TO THESE BEAUTIFUL CARIBBEAN BEACHES THIS SUMMER, MODEL STARTS MOVEMENT TO ELIMINATE PLUS SIZE, 5 WAYS TO FINANCE YOUR HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS.

 

snag-logo-color

SNAG FILMS

THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT, THE WASP WOMAN, THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS(short film, 15minutes), FUSE, a slew of Buster Keaton comedies, CARNIES,  THE MILLENNIUM BUG, EVEL KNIEVEL, LUCKY DAY (Fun 3 min Animated film), BLACK BOOK (1949),  LETTERS FROM THE BIG MAN, STAN (2009 Laurel and Hardy biopic), SICKO (A 6 minute short film that put a smile on my face. Enjoyable), POOR PRETTY EDDIE,  M.R. JAMES COLLECTION, CRAZY STREETS, ANTE, THE BET, HUNTING BUDDIES, THE GERBER SYNDROME, RIDDLE, BIGFOOT: THE LOST COAST TAPES, THE PURITANS (24 min Short Film), BLOOD MOON (18 min Short Film), LONDON VOODOO, DARK ARC

tubilogo

TUBITV

THE MILL AND THE CROSS,  DOGTOOTH, THE OTHER SIDE, STREET FIGHTER Series

cracle

CRACKLE

HANCOCK, 21, RETREAT, THE CAVE, BROTHERS IN ARMS,

HISTORY

A couple LOST IN TRANSLATION episodes, about a dozen PAWN STARS episodes, 10 AMERICAN DAREDEVILS episodes, H2 Special Presentations, 3 HUMAN  WEAPON episodes

 

The Channels that are losers this week and will just waste your time (rather than providing you great content) are:

 

 

WATCH FREE FLIX- The sound of the too plentiful commercials is fine, but the sound of the actual content, the shows and movies, is turned down and corrupted. Pathetic and a waste of time. Especially disappointing considering this channel has some interesting content if you could hear it. Fix your sound issue or close your channel.

VANGUARD- Limited movie selections and has not been updated in months. Website appears to no longer exist.

 

midnight_pulp_color_small

MIDNIGHT PULP – Roku channel no longer being updated. The website shows additional content (not just the PULP ones) not available on the Roku channel. Watch THE SCARLET WORM and ZOMBIE A-HOLE then lose the channel.

ASIAN CRUSH –  not being updated and content that is readily available elsewhere

CRUNCHYROLL – With the exception of ATTACK ON TITAN, I’m not a fan on Anime. And that’s mostly what this channel has.

PARANORMAL REALITY TV – more interesting content can be found elsewhere.

FILM MOVEMENT – Small selection of indie, foreign films (that can be found elsewhere) and never updated

dorado

DORADO FILMS – Small selection of mostly obsure 70s d-grade euro films, however unfortunately has not been updated seemingly since it launched. Which is a shame because the website is quite striking, and gave the promise of a great streaming channel.

filmrise_logo-e1386889475216

FILM RISE– This was going to make it on the recommended list for one movie, the brilliant SUDOESTE (SOUTHWEST), it is one of the few channels to have this beautiful film available. Unfortunately attempting to stream from this channel was a study in dissatisfaction. Spent more time buffering than playing the movie initially. And when it did play it was interrupted by an ad every 8 minutes, as opposed to the respectable 28 minutes an ad-supported streaming channel should allow you, before hitting you with another ad.  On top of that, with the exception of SOUTHWEST its content could be found on multiple other channels. FILMRISE failed to rise to the occasion.

THE MOVIE TRAILER CHANNEL – Do not make an ad the first thing I see, before even browsing content. Absolutely worthless.

INDIE CRUSH – A severe absence of content. Only about 30+ titles, and just about all of them are available at other, better stocked streaming channels. Not worth the time to add

Well I hope the above helps you find new channels to try and avoid the channels that can’t be bothered to provide updated, quality programming. Hopefully some channels that stumbled this week will improve next week.

You can add and remove channels here.

 

 

Now Watching : Netflix’s DAREDEVIL and WRONG TURN AT TAHOE!

daredevil-key-art Daredevil-Poster-550x814

 

 

The Entire 1st season of Netflix’s first Marvel Studios series DAREDEVIL has  dropped, and one episode in and it feels like… it feels like faith rewarded. From the first frame to the last, the show is pitch perfect.

From the direction, to the writing, to the performances, to the action. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, the Man without Fear is revelatory.  Charlie Cox in that first scene, with the speech in the confessional about his father, and letting the Devil loose, he defines the damaged nature of the protagonists, and this world. The initial costume is perfectly fine, a work in progress. I really hope Netflix will offer this up on Blu-Ray with commentary and features. It clearly deserves it.

Episode 2 here I come.

 

Wrong_Turn_at_Tahoe-200453457-large

Cuba Gooding Jr, has made his share of questionable movies. That said, in the largely direct to video world that has become the domain of most actors, in the last decade or so he has made some gems. WRONG TURN AT TAHOE is one of those gems, and following my first episode of DAREDEVIL, I find the film a nice counterpoint to the Netflix series. Cube giving a wonderfully poised and understated performance… yet full of menace. A great film from beginning to end.

Strongly recommended. Grade: B+

Movie of the Day : THE ARROYO (2014)

arroyo


THE ARROYO (2014)- It took a couple attempts for me to make it through this one, I’m glad I did. While the beginning may not quite grab you (both the title and the description of it is a bit ambiguous if you come across it like I did on Amazon Prime), I would urge you to stick with it. Writer, Producer, and first time Director Jeremy Boreing has created a film that starts humbly and builds into something that is not only worthy of your time… but will demand it.

The Western is an oft eulogized genre, yet for all these premature burials, yet does it rise. The West and the western is as much a state of mind as a locale, and it lives deep and long in Boreing’s THE ARROYO.

If you are a fan of television’s LONGMIRE or film’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MAN you’ll find yourself in welcome company with the ARROYO’s Jim Weatherford, played with a laconic grace by Kenny Maines; but make no mistake Boreing’s THE ARROYO is very much its own animal, exploring darker questions of the lawlessness at our borders and perhaps the culpability of the American political process, and the measure of courage.

A riveting watch, and strongly recommended. This is one I want to purchase the Blu-Ray for, with director’s commentary. And that’s the compliment of a great film, that despite getting to see it for free (courtesy of Amazon Prime) you are still inspired to own it on Blu-Ray!

Give it a watch, you may feel the same.