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Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991) – Review

1 Star

The Delta Force trilogy comes to a limp conclusion in this tacked-on installment that features a cast of Hollywood siblings including absent series star Chuck Norris’ son, among others. There is no explanation why this movie has been decreed as part of the Norris led Delta Force flicks, other than to capitalize on the internationally recognized brand. This is especially disappointing considering that Delta Force 3 was released by the Cannon films label which had launched the first two installments into globally renowned jingoistic action fantasies. At this point the producers were robbing their own franchises to scrap together a buck for the next project. It may have worked in the short-term, but that Cannon logo that once stood for upper echelon guilty pleasures had been reduced to a warning sign from jilted consumers.
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Fair Game (1995) – Review

2 Stars

Fair Game exist in the world of erotic-action-thrillers that were prominent during the mid 1990s. This list included The Specialist, Jade, Color of Night and numerous other forgettable bombs. The two points of interest in this modestly budgeted flick from prolific producer Joel Silver are, the screen acting debut of super-model Cindy Crawford and the second interpretation of Paula Gosling’s book that was previously filmed as Stallone’s Cobra.
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The Human Shield (1991) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The producers of the action flick The Human Shield loudly proclaim this B-movie as the first ‘film to deal with the Iraq war!”. That sadly positions this flick as The Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now of Operation Desert Storm, something which it is most definitely not. The Human Shield is a moderately entertaining action/drama with a typically understated lead performance from the American Ninja Michael Dudikoff. Directed by Ted Post, also responsible for Chuck Norris’ Good Guys Wear Black and Eastwood’s Magnum Force, this very 90s tale is watchable, but not memorable.
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Supergirl (1984) – Review

1/2 Star

Supergirl is from the same producers behind the Superman series, but this second-rate spin-off has none of the magic or charm of that higher profile sister franchise. In fact, Supergirl is hands-down the worst superhero film to ever receive a theatrical distribution. The initial thought was to spawn a secondary franchise that would run concurrently to the other series. After this weak outing all sequel talks were quickly squelched, and the character has laid dormant ever since. Not a single element works in this wretched affair, from the casting to the special effects and particularly the idiotic script, everything that made the Superman movies successful has been pillaged and executed incorrectly.
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Last Man Standing (1996) – Review

3 Stars

Prohibition era Texas stands-in for 1860s Japan in this gangster tinted remake of Aikra Kurowsawa’s samurai classic Yojimbo. The film library of Kurosawa has been raided numerous times before, most notably for Star Wars, and A Fist Full of Dollars. Action maestro Walter Hill has taken the story and given the proceedings a sepia-toned visual scheme, that emphases the history of the narrative and the desuetude of its characters, who are stranded in this desert hell-hole run by two warring chieftains.
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Bloodfist IV: Die Trying (1992) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Don Wilson has his most dangerous role to date, playing a car repo-man on the deadly streets of Los Angles. Staying true to the crazy logic of the series, Wilson is cast as different lead character in each installment of this wildly popular martial arts saga. Continuing on the upward swing of the last entry, Part IV once again features better than expected direction and a script that is both entertaining (every body Wilson encounters is a kung-fu practitioner) and full of self mockery (see previous parenthetical).
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Bloodfist V: Human Target (1994) – Review

3 Stars

Bloodfist V: Human Target holds together surprisingly well for the fifth entry in a series of B-movies that aren’t exactly renowned for their narrative cohesiveness. Typically the fourth sequel is a desperate last trip to the well, but the thing is that this particular low-brow franchise started off on shaky ground and has found its footing with each successive outing. The key to success may be in the ever-changing world that each new installment brings, the only consistent from sequel to sequel is lead Don “The Dragon’ Wilson and although there are nine ‘official’ follow-ups he has yet to portray the same character twice.
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Stick (1985) – Review

3 Stars

Burt Reynolds is Stick in the film of the same name based on the novel by famed crime writer Elmore Leonard. The source material has been jettisoned to make way for a more standardized 1980′s action film, but Reynold’s fans will be wildly entertained throughout. Returning to the director’s chair for the first time since the well received Sharky’s Machine, Mr. Reynolds has fashioned himself a fine star vehicle, even if lapses in momentum and logic are evidence of post-production tampering.
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The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012) – Review

3 Stars

If you do not recognize the name of the man behind the camera, Roel Reine, then you obviously aren’t a fan of upper echelon direct-to-DVD fare. This helmer from Holland has been relegated to projects for studios that typically are b-level follow-ups to theatrical release franchises. A look at the prolific director’s resumé revels as much; The Marine 2, Death Race 2, and now The Scorpion King 3. Without the involvement of Reine this film would be an utter bore, but due to his lively camera work and nuance for giving modest productions an oversized (and greatly appreciated) grandiose feel.
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City Heat (1984) – Review

2 Stars

City Heat gets all the peripheral elements right, the 1930′s have been lavishly recreated (on the backlot of Warner Bros. in Burbank, Ca.) and the look and feel are spot on. This is an action comedy in the tradition of the gloriously goofy golden era screwball comedies and gangster pictures, starring two icon’s of late 1970′s action films in Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. The pairing of these two box-office kingpins was notable at the time of the film’s release, nearly 30 years ago. However, this isn’t some Expendables style throwback to mayhem, but rather a light touch action/comedy with an absolutely winning turning from Reynolds.
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300: Rise of an Empire (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

There can never again be that sense of thrill and innovation that was so present in 300. That film was a transformative experience for audiences and a major influence over action directors since. Now, seven years later comes the prequel/sequel 300: Rise of an Empire and it is a rollicking, erotic, blood-thirsty follow-up that is nearly as exhilarating and bold as it’s predecessor.
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Bullet (2014) – Review

3 Stars

Bullet, the new Danny Trejo B-movie is a slick little action flick with a great cast and better than average production values. Director Nick Lyons infuses the boilerplate script with a visual energy that is matched by the blazing pace. The bare-bones story casts the ever prolific Danny Trejo in the lead role as Danny Trejo is Frank “Bullet” Marasco. Frank is a world-weary police vet with years of experience dealing with street scum. A recovering addict and dead-beat father, Marasco is attempting to pull his life together when we are first introduced to the violent cop.
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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) – Review

3 Stars

The newly rebooted Jack Ryan franchise is energized from its long dormant state with a total overhaul that ironically proves the closest to Tom Clancy’s original concept, yet to hit the screen. This is a neatly assembled action thriller that is appreciatively modestly scaled in ambition and design. I applaud the filmmakers for resisting the urge to mine the Bourne/Bond territory, though one scene in which Jack kills for the first time comes close to imitating a similar sequence in Casino Royale. Speaking of 007, director Kenneth Branagh makes a case that he should be handed the reigns of that franchise when current overseer Sam Mendes decides to pursue more illustrious endeavors.

The extremely lean and efficient screenplay credited to writers Adam Cozad & David Koepp quickly establishes a melancholy tone that perfectly suits the material and the main character’s conflicted feelings about his personal and professional existence. We are introduced to Jack Ryan (a perfectly cast Chris Pine) on a lazy afternoon during his college days in London. Then the 9/11 attacks happen and the economics major enlists in the Marine Corps, where he is deployed to Afghanistan and suffers a near fatal injury in an attack on his unit.

During his rehabilitation Jack falls for his pretty nurse, Cathy (Keira Knightley) and is approached by a government figure (Kevin Costner) to join the CIA as an analyst for Geo-political terrorism. Cut to present day, Jack works in an upscale financial firm on Wall Street and Cathy is a practicing physician. Spotting shady transactions between New York and Russia, Ryan stumbles on a plot to destroy the U.S. economy ignited by a concurrent terrorist attack.

Nothing in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is cutting edge, but everything works from the casting to the direction. This is a nearly flawless film for about the first hour before the lapses in credibility become too great to ignore. This third-act mist-step, while a let-down didn’t fully diminish my enjoyment of the picture and I recommend it to any familiar with the source material and to those just looking for a brawny thriller.

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley

Game of Death (2010) – Review

1 Star

Game of Death is ideal fodder for those Redbox rental kiosks sprouting up everywhere. It features a former action-star, it barely runs 85 minutes in length, and once the realization sets in that Death is a bomb; you don’t feel bad about wasting a buck on the nightly rental. Game of Death is a ponderous so-called action-thriller with little of either, the film’s only real distinction is that it was the final project completed before star Snipes’ prison term.
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The Legend of Hercules (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The Legend of Hercules isn’t mush fun and lets face it, fun is exactly the tone the producers should have been aiming for. This latest incarnation of the mortal son of the gods has been developed under the same watchful eye as the creators of that ghastly Conan reboot a few years back. That should be the tip-off that loads of money have been spent on a script that doesn’t seem fit for filming, headlined by a star with the right physique and nothing else. The main difference between the two fantasy flicks is that Hercules has been directed by long-time film action ace Renny Harlin, who brings a glossy sheen to the proceedings that without his involvement this dud surely would rank among the genre’s worst.
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