The Expendables week – Rest of the Cast

Well time to wrap up the week. I’ve covered Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Van Damme and Willis. The Expendables 2 also has Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, and Scott Adkins but Netflix only has a few streaming titles for each of them.

The Cutter (2005) – Rated R

“When a kidnapping rescue mission goes horribly wrong, Detective John Shepherd (Chuck Norris) escapes his guilty conscience by trying to save an aging diamond cutter, Issac Teller (Bernie Kopell), who’s been abducted by an unknown madman. With the help of the Issac’s niece, Elizabeth (Joanna Pacula), Shep unravels his mysterious past … only to find that the cutter perfected his craft years earlier as an Auschwitz inmate.”

The only Chuck Norris streaming on Netflix is not one of his better ones. It is a rather generic shoot ’em up, beat ’em up. For Chuck Norris fans only.

The Terminator (1984) – Rated R

“In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?”

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. James Cameron is actually able to turn Arnold’s limited acting range into a positive. Arnold is fantastic as the unstoppable killing machine and is still a good thrill ride. Look for future Aliens stars Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, and Bill Paxton (sporting a Mohawk).

Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG-13

“While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick, a wacky wizard, a fierce woman warrior and a gigantic bodyguard. But there’s a traitor among the ranks.”

While not as good as the first Conan, Conan the Destroyer is a more family friendly version. It suffers from too much Dungeons & Dragons influence and some rather bizarre casting (Wilt Chamberlain? Grace Jones?).

The Scorpion King 2 (2008) – Rated PG-13

“Employing an all-new cast, this action-driven prequel to The Scorpion King tells the heroic tale of young Mathayus (Michael Copon) and his relentless quest for justice against an evil and powerful villain, King Sargon (Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture). Mathayus faces heart-stopping tribulations during his adventurous, odds-defying trajectory toward his ultimate destiny: becoming the formidable warrior king of an ancient desert empire.”

Wow Universal’s reboot of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser was a lot of fun. It made buckets of money so they made two sequels which were nowhere near as good. Here comes the bizarre part. Universal then went and made a prequel to the second film, The Scorpion King starring Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Scorpion King 2 features Randy Couture instead of The Rock. There is even a Scorpion King 3 with Dave Bautista.

Ninja (2009) – Rated R

“An American studying the ancient martial art of ninjutsu in Japan finds his training put to the test when he’s summoned by his sensei to return to New York for a dangerous mission: protect a chest containing the weapons of a legendary ninja.”

Yet another one of those competing movie idea, Ninja came out the same time as Ninja Assassin. Ninja Assassin was originally titled Ninja and starred Korean pop sensation Rain. If you like Ninjas or Scott Adkins then you’ll enjoy this.

Lazy Weekend Musings – Actionfest and Chuck Norris

Wow!

What a way to wrap up Actionfest.

I started by watching the insane Robo Geisha. I then caught the Chuck Norris retrospective flick, Code of Silence.

After that I went out and saw Chuck Norris in the hallway.

Partially due to the burn stunt snafu yesterday, they redid the stunt show. This time Chuck Norris was in attendance. They redid the air jump, the rocket stunt and the airbag fall. The burn stunt was a wowzer and thankfully went well.

I met and shook hands with Chilean martial artist Marco Zaror and stuntman Paul Weston (Raiders of the Lost Ark and 7 of the Bond movies). I got autographs from the beautiful Sheree Wilson (Alex Cahill on Walker, Texas Ranger), Judson Mills (Gage on Walker), and stuntman Jeff Habberstad (Spider-Man, Blade, Live Free or Die Hard).

I had an all movie pass but not a Chuck Norris pass but one of the wonderful fest folks I had been chatting with earlier let me in to the Stunts of Chuck Norris panel. I believe once all the Chuck Norris badgeholders had been seated that they then opened seating up to non-badge holders to fill the remaining seats.

The talk was of course wonderful with many amusing anecdotes from Chuck and the stuntmen. Immediately afterward everyone rushed toward Chuck but his bodyguards and the police whisked him out the exit door.

I then finished off the day by watching The Square and heading home.

I am sooooo looking forward to Actionfest 2 next year.

Aaron Norris, Actionfest, and Stunt Spectacular

Yippeee! I went to pick up my Actionfest ticket yesterday afternoon. A couple of the founders of Actionfest wanted to ask me where I had heard of Actionfest, did I think the advertising had been good, etc. One of them introduced himself to me as Aaron Norris.

So there I was shaking hands and chit-chatting with Hollywood director/ex-stuntman Aaron Norris (brother of Chuck). Wow what a super day.

We talked about the stunt spectacular at Actionfest Saturday 3 p.m. the stunt show is FREE and OPEN to the public.

“Coming Saturday, April 17, ActionFest is bringing something new and utterly incredible to Asheville ActionFest Hollywood Stunt Show, taking place live in the parking lot of the Carolina Cinemas in Asheville at 3pm. Leading it off will be the previously announced Kinnie “The Rocket Man” Gibson, who will fly over the crowd in his amazing rocket pack (recently seen on the hit CBS show “NCIS”). Kinnie and his team have traveled all over the world astounding people with their Rocket Belt (one of only 3 in existence), everywhere from the Super Bowl, the Tournament of Roses parade and even the 1984 Olympics, and now it’s coming to Asheville to blow you away!”

“If that is not enough, The Rocket Man will be followed by an amazing stunt show featuring such top Hollwyood stuntmen as Jan Michael Shultz (THE BLUE BROTHERS); Mark De Alessandro (Sylvester Stallone’s stunt double); John Cann (MACHETE); Randy Fife (THE ALAMO); Trevor Habberstad (THE LAST AIRBENDER) and his father, Jeff Habberstad. These brave men will demonstrate some of the most dangerous stunts around, including high falls, fire burns, air rams (catapults that shoot stuntmen into the air); reappelling (gunshots); fight demonstrations and even sky diving! Asheville has never seen anything like this before and once we are through with it they probably will not let us do this again, so make sure you are at the Carolina Cinemas Asheville at 1640 Hendersonville Rd. on Saturday, April 17 at 3pm and prepare to have the wind knocked out of you and then ask for more! Also featured will be the Ho Sin Sool Dojang martial arts school in Horse Show, NC. This event is all-ages and will be totally free.”

I also got to chat with him about filming in Israel and a few other action movie topics. Of course I was stupid enough to not ask for an autograph or a picture but I got such a kick out of chatting with him. He seems like a wonderful person and is only the second director I have ever chatted with (I met John Carpenter at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2002).

Tonight is the opening of Actionfest with the World Premiere of Centurion. My weekend orgy of Action movies is about to begin. Squeeee!

Also Squeeee! Joss Whedon has been announced to direct The Avengers – a fanboy pairing made in heaven.

Hellbound – Chuck Norris week

In honor of his appearance at Actionfest on Sunday, this is Chuck Norris week. Hellbound is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Hellbound (1994) – Rated R for violence.

“Undercover cops Shatter (Chuck Norris) and Jackson (Calvin Levels) encounter an enemy far more dangerous than the murderers and gangsters they deal with on their Chicago beat in this supernatural thriller. A murder mystery leads the partners to the Holy Land, where they discover that Satans messenger has awakened and is planning to conquer the world. Now, Shatter and Jackson must try to stop the powerful demon before evil invades the planet.”

“We must leave him in darkness then and pray that he never sees the light of day.”

Hang your head and mourn 80s action fans. This was the last film made by Cannon before they went belly up.

Aaron Norris, who frequently costars with brother Chuck as well as doing stuntwork, goes behind the camera here to direct. His direction is somewhat workman-like. He is not flashy but he keeps the action moving.

We start with a prologue set in the time of King Richard. I like prologues that start in the past and segue into the present – I do not think I realized that until I was watching this. We actually get a double prologue as after the scene of King Richard imprisoning Prosatanos, we segue to the 1950s before continuing on to the nebulous “present day”.

Parts of the story are just ridiculous. The detectives do not hesitate to break into the Israeli police department and there is not even a good reason for it except expediency.

Hysterically they shoot just a few shots in Chicago. Apparently if an important Israeli dies in the U.S., the American detectives are forced to fly to Jerusalem immediately for questioning. Who knew?

This is important of course because in addition to our two detectives not one, not two, but three more separate characters from Chicago have also flown immediately to Jerusalem. Four separate writers worked on this and could not come up with an actual reason to have them all together.

Hint: all you had to do was have the American detective be on vacation in Israel or visiting a relative and then have him witness the murder. This would have saved a lot of “what the heck? Is there a secret wormhole from Chicago to Jerusalem?” syndrome.

There are a lot of nice shots of old stone buildings. It is a shame that the cinematography did not focus more on the architecture and other wonderful sights. I do not expect my movies to be travelogues but if you are going to use an exotic locale then show it off.

Frank Shatter (our hero) is an awesome tough guy name. Of course it worked even better as Mr. Shatter (no first name) in the 1974 Hammer/Shaw production, Shatter starring Stuart Whitman and Peter Cushing. Chuck Norris plays Frank Shatter here and he is a no-nonsense kick-butts-and-take-names cop.

His partner Calvin Jackson, played by Calvin Levels, is the comic relief aka good cop. The love interest is played by Sheree J. Wilson who would later co-star with Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger for 189 episodes.

Our villain is played with glee by Christopher Neame. You can tell he is supernatural because he has odd fingernails and weird eyes.

This being the third Norris movie I have watched in a row, I realize now that they all have a huge cheese factor.

As with Breaker, Breaker there is no reason to watch this unless you are a Chuck Norris fan (or just love movies set in Israel). The movie is not bad, just uneven and cheesy, so I have to rate this a pass.

This movie was filmed much better as The Omen in 1976.

People Watch: Victor Quintero has a small part in this as Carlos and works on the stunts. He will be seen this year in stunts in Jonah Hex, Machete, and in the (bound to be horrible) Syfy original Mongolian Death Worms.

The Octagon – Chuck Norris week

In honor of his appearance at Actionfest on Sunday, this week is Chuck Norris week. The Octagon is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: The Octagon (1980) – Rated R.

“A group of terrorist ninjas have been wreaking havoc on the life of a wealthy woman named Justine (Karen Carlson), so she hires former karate champion Scott James (Chuck Norris) to be her bodyguard. Aiming to take down the group of dangerous thugs, who happen to be led by his rival Seikura (Tadashi Yamashita), James must start with their training ground, known as The Octagon. Will evil prevail? Or will James have the last word?”

“If you are seeing ninjas, you are seeing ghosts.”

At last three years after Breaker! Breaker!, Chuck Norris gets a budget. Woohoo!

Chuck is much better here. His acting is still a bit wooden here. He had not yet learned the star formula of winking witticism – action scene – one liner – rinse and repeat.

This does have the absolute cheesiest voiceover ever. Explaining his thoughts is fine but they have his thoughts reverberate. Are they trying to indicate that other than the current thought, his noggin is empty? The reverb really reminds me of Friday the 13th and the cha-cha-cha-ha-ha-ha every time Jason is near.

Just a hint – when Chuck Norris tells you not to get up, it is in your best interest to stay put.

The extra money allowed them to get the gruff Lee Van Cleef to costar. He plays the enigmatic McCarn and is just wonderful. He helps make the first two acts bearable so we can get to the all important third act.

Art (The Brood, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Hindle plays a hero wannabe who idolizes Chuck. A pre-Ghostbusters Ernie Hudson has a tiny part as Quinine. Who knew Ernie was so buff?

Chuck Norris vs. An Army of Ninjas! I wonder who will win? While there is waaaay too much talking in the first two acts, the third act features plenty of martial arts action with ninjas, terrorists, exotic weaponry, explosions and of course Chuck!

This is a cheesy yet enjoyable martial arts film. Leave your brain at the door and just enjoy all of the Chuck on ninja action.

For those of you with set top boxes, Netflix presents The Octagon in a nice looking HD transfer.

People Watch: Veteran character actor Tracey Walter (Batman, Conan the Destroyer) appears briefly and hilariously as Mr. Beedy.

Breaker! Breaker! – Chuck Norris week

In honor of his appearance at Actionfest on Sunday, this week is Chuck Norris week. Breaker Breaker is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Breaker Breaker (1977) – Rated PG.

“Made at the pinnacle of the 1970s citizens-band radio craze, this low-budget action flick follows big-rig driver John David Dawes (Chuck Norris) as he investigates the disappearance of his younger brother, Billy (played by Michael Augenstein). The trail of clues leads Dawes to a backwater California town ruled by crooked Judge Joshua Trimmings (a scenery-chewing George Murdock) and his bad-cop cronies.”

“Wasnt that kid named Dawes? Same address too.”

“Can I use your phone?” – “It is out of order.” – “This whole town is out of order.”

Wow. I cannot begin to describe how 70s this movie is. It is not enough to feature CB radios and truck drivers but we also have a screechy song about them (the titular Breaker! Breaker!). Why heck let us throw in some of them that motorized dirt bikes too. All of this is before we even hit the five minute mark.

If you have someone who is completely paralyzed, why o why would you ferry them in your big rig?

OMG. Someone in this movie just loves hats. We have different characters wearing a Stetson, fedora, safari hat, head scarf, CAT ball cap, black leather cap, chef hat (not kidding and not a chef), tri-corner with long feathers (musketeer reject?), blue floppy hat, denim ball cap, wool seaman cap and some kind of orange floppy hat. We also have a woman with a bunch of ribbons in her hair.

Since all of the clothing budget was spent on head apparel, we have policemen who wear plain khakis and a judge who wears a red graduation gown (were black ones that much more expensive?). I also love that there is no actual lock on the jail – the actors have to pretend that they are locking it.

George Murdock really does chew the scenery thoroughly as the evil Judge Trimmings. Besides George and Chuck, no one else is particularly memorable.

While this is a Chuck Norris film, there are not that many fights. We do have a scene where Chuck basically knocks out a whole town. The ending is completely cornball.

There is no reason at all to watch this film unless you are a diehard Chuck Norris fanatic. If you are such a fan then this is certainly a watchable early low-budget feature of his.

People Watch: Aaron Norris, yes the youngest brother of Chuck Norris, is an uncredited stunt double in this. He is also one of the driving forces behind Actionfest.

Lazy Weekend Musings – ActionFest

Okay these are definitely lazy weekend musings as I am publishing them on Monday. I want to blog 7 days a week but I find I never have time on the weekend as that is when I spend the most time with my wife and youngest daughter. I think this means that I will cover movies on a semi-random topic Monday through Friday (and occasional Saturdays) and that I will reserve Sundays for this and that.

Coming April 15-18 to Asheville, NC (my neck of the woods) is ActionFest. ActionFest is “the worlds first film festival for Action films”. The festival opens with the premiere of Centurion, directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent). It concludes with a presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Chuck Norris. More of the film schedule is to be revealed on their site March 22nd.

As you might tell from the subject of my blog, growing up one of my absolute favorite things to do was to go to the movies. Raising my children, I took them as often as I could (as much for my enjoyment as theirs).

I go to fewer and fewer movies each year. I love my home, my TV (thank you honey!), my comfy chair, and my food. I despise paying the price of a DVD to watch a film in a theater that may work out fine or may have people chattering incessantly or using their cellphones, especially when I know the DVD will be out in four months.

Moviegoers: Insert your own private rant about $6 sodas here :)

In spite of that, Actionfest has me excited about going to the movies again. I plan to go all four days and catch as many of the premieres and retrospectives as possible. All of the movies will be held at Carolina Cinemas Asheville and the closing ceremony will be held at The Orange Peel with The Reigning Sound playing.