Keoni Waxman’s MAXIMUM CONVICTION Netflix Movie Review

The first 30 minutes of MAXIMUM CONVICTION, another Keoni Waxman Steven Seagal vehicle, are interminable. As a rule I give a movie 20 minutes, if a filmmaker doesn’t care enough, or is incapable of making the first 20 minutes of his movie interesting, then I don’t care enough to finish the movie.

MAXIMUM CONVICTION falls into this category, which makes me actually finishing it, more happenstance than quality. After I had written it off, and was about to remove it from my Netflix rotation, some quirk, on a slow movie morning, spurred me to fast forward it past that boring first half hour, and doing so I found myself in a decent, engaging film.

Michael Pare is always a solid screen presence, and the other actors sell their various roles. And the procedural aspects, the detail paid to how soldiers move and soldier in the 21st century, also make this film better than its initial 30 minutes would lead you to believe. This story of an attempt by trained forces to extract a prisoner from a blackops prison, becomes by the end, a journey worth taking. Grade: Fast Forward the first 30 minutes and it is worth a watch.

Netflix Movie of the Day : FORCE OF EXECUTION

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Keoni Waxman’s latest Steven Seagal vehicle, FORCE OF EXECUTION is an odd duck.

It suffers from confusing, even muddy story telling, but despite that there is an uncomfortable but riveting modern gangster story being told. With an awkward unnerving schizophrenic melange of violence, martial arts, gun-play, sexuality, histrionics, and even a bit of humor, and sporting surprisingly solid performances; the film transcends its initial shortcomings to be an enjoyable and entertaining and purchase worthy film.

Joining the short (but growing) list of films I saw free on NetFlix, and thought enough of to own in a quality DVD or Bluray format.

FORCE OF EXECUTION is a film you will return to. Grade: B. Purchase your copy Here!

Favorite Films discovered on Streaming On-Demand in 2013!

Favorite Films discovered on Streaming On-Demand in 2013!

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2013′s most interesting films for me weren’t found in the theater, or backed by major studios. They were small, even intimate, Independent films found courtesy of the new distribution opportunities that venues such as Amazon Prime and Netflix have opened up.

HALO 4 FORWARD ONTO DAWN, BOY WONDER, ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM, and HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN are films seen in 2013, that here in 2014 still stand tall as memorable and commanding viewing experiences. The last three being some of the most haunting examples of existential angst meets neo noir meets anti-hero you are likely to find. And HALO 4 FORWARD ONTO DAWN on a shoestring budget, creates a scifi epic with more heart and style than any ten STARSHIP TROOPERS.

These are films so good that having seen them for free courtesy of streaming, I had to purchase them on DVD/Blu-Ray. After viewing them you may agree. You can price them at the links below.

Boy Wonder

Another Zero in the System

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn [Blu-ray]

House of the Rising Sun

365 Days of Roku: Day 1 – Amazon Prime’s HEADSHOT

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HEADSHOT-Needlessly convoluted with a purposely fragmented and confusing structure, no doubt aping such films as MEMENTO, there’s room for frustration and dislike when watching director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s HEADSHOT. However it is, for much of its running time, done and played well; and the central conceit such an intriguing idea, that it transcends mimicry and suspect storytelling, to be an involving film in spite of itself.

Stylish and existential, this is a very different crime thriller, that has a voice over (a film noir trope for this new age film noir) that is compelling.

The movie does lose momentum mid-way through, forgetting to use in any meaningful way or examine the interesting idea of the title character’s affiction, and becomes a rather ordinary and plodding man on the run film.

So a film not without its failings but one that has enough intriguing moments to transcend those failings, and have you interested in the end. Grade: C+.

TECH TIPS: Today’s CRACKLE ON-DEMAND TV Guide Watch List

Go back and see previous lists for more great recommendations.

Okay onto today’s list:

Review of movies/programs to catch on the on-demand Roku channel CRACKLE today:

CRACKLE the premier channel for free on-demand movies is showing the following flicks:

The ‘it will do if you have nothing better to watch’ pile:
EMPIRE OF THE WOLVES- a horrific premise, graphic scenes, and an intriguing if convoluted and dubious premise makes this french thriller worth a cursory look

THE CUTTER- This 2007 flick shows Chuck Norris still capable of mixing it up. The premise of this film about Nazis and diamonds doesn’t really hold one’s attention nor do the performances, but there are a couple decent and surprising fight scenes that are worth a look.

WIND CHILL- Starts off generally very effective and intriguing, but comes apart completely in the 3rd act.

The ‘Awful or trust me you really should avoid’ pile:
THE DEVILS TOMB
THE ORDER
SCREAMERS:THE HUNTING- Starts off intriguing, but once we get to the obligatory Noble Black who has to buy it in the first act of the movie, we’re in complete hack mode. Couldn’t finish it. Awful.

The Great or Very Good:
HERO WANTED- This 2008 flick is yet another fantastic Cuba Gooding Jr film (something that I thought for a long time was an oxymoron). Following up on my recent watch of HIT LIST. This and HIT LIST both are good enough that you’ll probably want to add them to your DVD collection.

LEGENDARY ASSASSIN- An action/martial arts movie, but what sells this one is really the touching story at its heart. Tender performances enliven what otherwise would be a routine actioner.

RUSSIAN SPECIALIST- An example of a great Dolph Lundgren film

SILENT RAGE- An example of a great Chuck Norris Film

HARRY BROWN- Michael Caine is mesmerizing in this tale of generational warfare and geriatric vengeance

The Best James Bond Movie Posters of the 1970s!

The Best James Bond Movie Posters of the 1970s!

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Movie of the Day: Wesley Snipes in 2010′s GAME OF DEATH

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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!

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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 Films

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
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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.

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KICKBOXER 1989
DEATH WARRANT 1990
LION HEART 1991
DOUBLE IMPACT 1991
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 1992
HARD TARGET 1993
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NOWHERE TO RUN 1993
TIMECOP 1994

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Best James Bond Movie Posters of the 1960s!

The Best James Bond Movie Posters of the 1960s!

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Brought to you by my MONARCHS OF MAYHEM Indiegogo campaign
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