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Van Damme

The new Van Damme Blu Rays…WTF?


I must say I´m so very dissapointed in whoever greenlit these covers.

Why not keep the old artwork of the movie-posters?

These are hackjobs of the worst kind, the blue and grey makes it look so cheap, but seems like a trend there.

Luckily, there are different artworks, depending on the country they get released in…the french Death Warrant looks halfway decent and actually has a picture from the film..they put a frickin scene out of Lionheart on there and a badly photoshopped face..holy cow that`s a hackjob if I have ever seen one!!

They just don`t care it seems….


The Expendables 2 Review


Hey there..back to writing reviews, finally. I wasn`t in the mood the past few weeks , but

Now I feel the need again.

This time it`s The Expendables 2.

And I must say-this film is truly expendable. I wanted to like it, I really did. The first one was a huge disappointment already, I was hoping that it gets better. But in my opinion, it didn`t.

Again, the story is something everybody could write down in a minute on the toilet.

When I have the feeling, that I could have written a better story, that`s when I begin to feel cheated. It is not a low-budget crap movie..it`s some of the biggest names of action cinema!  With that amount of star power, how can you let it become such a poor movie? And that twice, holy cow.

It feels like the last writer`s strike never ended. I was kinda excited for Van Damme as the villain, and for a few minutes I tried to sugarcoat it…but I gave up soon.

His accent , which I normally have little problems with, eventhough he should`ve gotten a few lessons to improve his english, he never did, and here he makes it only worse. The way he says challenge there is just so terrible. Why did nobody say: “ Hey JC, it`s challenge, not challANGE!” Please try that again. And all the shit about the goat and satan and all that..WTF? Terrible. Plus the respect and honor crap, when it`s crystal clear that he doesn`t have any of that?  And killing off the “character” with the weakest background and oh so heartbreaking Afghanistan story?  In the beginning I thought they might kill Rourke`s character, even without actually seeing him, since he obviously didn`t return, it would`ve made more sense, revenge-wise. Opening with a huge onslaught of action that doesn`t mean anything for the following “plot”? What a waste. Even the finale didn`t provide that much action. They surely shot a lot of people, but it wasn`t the same scale as the opening.

Chuck Norris comes outta nowhere, making no sense. And the Chuck Norris jokes were lame.

Also, the I´ll be back and Yippi-kay-yea..so forced and not funny. You might say” It was never intended to have a good story  etc..”..maybe. If so, this kind of  retro-action-parody isn`t for me. I have no desire to watch this again anytime soon. It just has no rewatchability for me.

Just a bunch of missed opportunities. I could think of several scenes that would`ve made a difference. Make Stallone box Lundgren, even in a training situation-you got a nod to Rocky 4. Make Van Damme split and punch someone in the nuts-nod to Bloodsport..and so on.. Even the final fight of Stallone and Van Damme was too short and one-sided. Universal Soldier 4  kicks more ass than this one. Simon West delievered decent action, but all pieces together, it didn`t tickle me much. During the movie I really only waited for the final fight and it was too short.

In the end, maybe it was too silly for my taste. If I want silly, there is always Jackie Chan or Adam Sandler…doesn`t work for me with the action stars of yesterday. The action is decent, but to me felt aimless and uninspired. Ok, enough of the bashing.  I couldn`t invest my feelings into this one, it felt ..well..expendable. The Expendables movies will never find the way into my collection, because I see no long-time value here. I rather  watch me some originals, which even after 20 years or more, are far better and left lasting impressions.


UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012) Review FFF 2012


Directed  by John Hyams

 

 

Yesterday I went to see Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning at my local Cinemaxx.

I was quite excited for it, because it was supposed to be bigger and different from the third part, also directed by John Hyams. I didn`t really like that one, mostly because Van Damme looked so tired and bored to death. For a DTV title it sure was pretty good, but my critiscism mostly was due to the story and Van Damme. The second part was ignored(probably a good thing) and yet the story for the third felt very run of the mill-cheap.

From what I gathered, this was going to be pretty violent and in 3D. Both not really a reason for joy, the third was very violent , but it wasn`t fun, except for Dolph`s final moment there.

Well, I´m happy to say that they achieved fun violence here!

The film opened like a horror film and used the 3D for atmosphere , rather than “in your eye-poking” stuff.It`s also shot completely in first-person perspective for the entire opening scene. Ill try to not spoil anything, cuz I didn`t know anything about the story, apart from a few pics I`ve seen online. That`s the way you should go into this, too. If you are lucky enough to catch it at Fantasy Filmfest in Germany or Actionfest in the US. Otherwise  you`ll have to wait til the end of October for it to appear on DVD and Blue Ray. Maybe it gets a limited run at theatres, too.

I have written some ugly stuff about John Hyams, after I´ve been quite disappointed with his past few outings. To me, it was nothing special. Maybe my expectations are too high, possible.

Most seem to like the 3rd UNISOLs outing, I didn`t. But this time, I have to say: They really did something different. Finally, it didn`t feel like run of the mill stuff.

As I said, it opens like a horror-film and it continues to not be your ordinary action movie. A bit film-noir, thriller elements and medical sci-fi all mixed into one dark, but very entertaining experience. For the first time I liked Scott Adkins as an actor. I couldn`t feel much sympathy for him in his earlier movies. After all, he is the central figure in the film and if you don`t like him, the film is pretty much done, right? He did very well. The action-and blood-metre is pretty high in this film, with scenes you would only come to expect in horror films, this is really hard R, for real! And they managed to make it fun, too. There were several scenes that made us cheer and scream out loud in the cinema. (Btw, it wasn`t really packed, only a hundred people there, tops.) I would love to talk about certain aspects of the film, but that would include all-out spoilers, I guess. For now, I must hold back.

I really have to watch the third part again, maybe this time around I could enjoy it more. Also, I must refresh my memory …the Unisols seem to not need any cooling devices anymore, the body overheating and such seems to be no problem anymore. Maybe that was explained in the third, I don`t remember. Andrei Arlovski gets quite a lot of screen time and fights a lot. Dolph Lundgren has a few good scenes and two fights. Van Damme  has some key scenes and a great fight at the end. He is the leader of his Unisols pack, with an agenda of their own. The suspense is held up til the end, with a major twist I can`t spoil as well.

I wish I could revisit it now, but I have to work from memory of one screening only.

It is a brutal mystery sci-fi thriller, refreshingly different. Fans of the main actors will love it, there is no doubt about that .  John Hyams redeemed himself with this one in my mind. If he keeps doing inspired movies like this he has my full support.

From me, if I`d go by a scale from 1 to 10, I´d give this 8 out of  10.

Brutal, fun action galore, a great genre-mix that`s  thrilling til the end. Some very good fights and lots of blown off heads!!! (some scenes are really out there!)

Written by  Ingo

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UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992)


Directed by Roland Emmerich

Somehow this came to mind when I was brainstorming on what to write about.

I wanna try and find some films that are not as well-known as this one, next time.

There must be some films that are less known and deserve a wider audience. But now I´m stuck with this, pretty much a mainstream film.

 The first Hollywood gig for the now well-known Emmerich, and he did a damn good job. Not only was it a success, it looks really, really good for a 20 million dollar flick.

He was known to deliver films that look more expensive than the budget would suggest, compared to the output of other directors with a similar budget. And keeping costs down is something they like in Hollywood.

Emmerich said he doesn`t like these kind of films, but yet he delivered. It was his entry into Hollywood, so he did what he was told to do.

He didn`t even know Van Damme and had to watch his earlier films to be able to cater to the fans.  The naked Van Damme , the buttshot…it wasn`t in there cuz Emmerich is gay, it was something Van Damme exhibited in all of his earlier movies and was a sort of “must” shot.

Almost a trademark, a seal of approval.

The making of and the stories behind the scenes are pretty interesting, but I like that kinda stuff anyway. When I first saw it in theatres, I was a few minutes late, and missed the opening scene, in which Van Damme and Lundgren killed each other, only later did I see that. Weird for me,to be late for a Van Damme film, but it happened.

I must say, Van Damme looks damn weird with any kind of helmet on…he has a weird face like that. The naive look he gives you sometimes, that`s also something I always tried to ignore.

But I was too much of a fanboy to really pay attention to that. Now, it`s just one of the things I would like to cut out of every movie he did that in. But overall, he got to play a character with not depth, but versatility. A good role for him. The plot: Dead american soldiers re-animated for a secret special force- is something typical for B-movies, you must leave your brain at the door.

But once you accepted that, it was a great action concept, now copied a hundred times over…

Having Dolph Lundgren as the main villain was genius in hindsight, the fact that he accepted to star in a film not as the hero but the villain paid off.

He could be evil and go all nuts, showing a bit of acting abilities, although in the final fight there is one scene at the end that was really , really bad. But that aside, he was awesome as Sgt. Andrew Scott .

Basically, they both are Universal Soldiers, and both start to remember things from the past.

The last thing they remember is the altercation in Vietnam , when Scott went nuts and started executing prisoners at will, collecting his victims ears on a necklace .

Luc Deveraux(Van Damme ) intervened and they both got shot.

After a hostage rescue at the Hoover Dam, a female reporter is caught snooping around. She gets arrested , together with her cameraman. Scott does what he does best-execute people. Before he shoots Veronica(Ally Walker), Van Damme has a backflash and remembers a similar scene from Vietnam. He again stops Scott, which triggers his memories, too. Funny, that none of the other soldiers have those problems, but that´s the script…

Van Damme escapes from his duties as a Universal Soldier , together with Veronica and a manhunt begins. I`m sure most of you know the film anyway, right?

What follows, is a lot of fun. Van Damme plays his role a bit like a child, very naïve, but(almost) always able to protect Veronica. He slowly awakens from being a Universal Soldier, while they try to figure out how to keep him alive and who is behind it all.

Chased by a very angry Scott, who goes berserk, his only goal-to stop the traitor, with all means necessary.

There is a great chase sequence, lots of funny bits inbetween( I really loved Ally Walker in this), lots of shooting stuff and explosions, and a quite satisfying  and brutal final fight. The film mixes everything very well, it`s funny, has action galore and a nice supporting cast. The remaining Unisols are all wellknown action or martial arts actors, from Simon Rhee to Tiny Lister to Ralph Moeller. I enjoyed Ed O`Ross(RED HEAT) quite a bit, he was a kickass Colonel.

I have seen this so often, I rarely put this on, but when I do , I realise that this is a very well-done action film, that stood the test of time.  Sadly Emmerich went on to do films that are just blockbusters  without much artistic merit, just FX spectacles. Not saying that Unisols is anything deep, it surely is not, but after Stargate, it was all about FX. I liked Independece Day back then, but I am in no hurry to watch it again. Same goes for Godzilla or what came after…

He is just another version of Michael Bay, and Michael Bay at least picks the better scripts, or franchises…the scripts aren`t anything worth talking about,lol.

Emmerich, a good, very talented guy, who wasted his talents on big, ridiculous blockbusters.

Seen them all, but have no desire to see them again, at all.

But Unisols is a solid actionfilm that delivers. And Dolph Lundgren has the best scenes in this, absolutely my favourite performance by Dolph. Sometimes, leading men look better in smaller roles. Certainly the case here. He steals the show. No wonder they cloned him for a sequel, after he was sorely missed in Universal Soldier 2.

If you haven`t watched it 50 times, like I sure as hell did, you may wanna revisit this fine piece of action cinema.

“Are we having fun yet?”…Yes, we do!!!


BLOODSPORT (1988) directed by Newt Arnold


Man, is this really necessary?

Thousands of reviews must`ve been written about this…but hell, I´ll add my 2 cents anyway.

This film singlehandedly made me into a VAN DAMME nut for years to come. I´ve cooled down since then,

but boy, have I spend money on this guy, you have no idea.

It made me start up karate and I collected every snippet on JCVD I could possibly find,

sometimes buying magazines for a single page story, etc. etc.

I worked in a cinema for years and got my hands  on all the posters, banners and

in one case a 35 mm film roll of the trailer to UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 2.

I won`t spend time to tell you the plot, as you should know it by now…

As a teenager, these kind of films made a huge impression on me, as did Rocky or Rambo or anything Arnold.

Van Damme couldn`t have asked for a better entry into the realm of action stars, this film was much debated between us teens, and wars broke out over who would/could possibly kick his ass? Chuck Norris? Bruce Lee, The Hulk? Bud Spencer?

The craziest thing I have ever heard about VAN DAMME was this: That he implanted rubber bands into his legs…hellyeah…sure…

Not long ,before I was an expert about anything VAN DAMME. I tried to track down his early works, in most cases with success, one or two left open to debate, still.  I ended up owning a collection worth showing off to even the most hardcore fans. I imitated him and all that..looking back, a little ridiculous, but that`s what teenagers do, don`t they….

Can`t hurt to have an idol or two, as long as it isn`t Charles Manson. VAN DAMME polarized, just like AXL ROSE or BORIS BECKER, some loved them some hated their guts..and I ended up defending him, taking it pretty personal  sometimes..also something you have to  and will grow out of….

What makes Bloodsport so great and made it leave such a huge impression on a whole genre, like only Bruce Lee did before that, are the diverse fights( MMA  and mixed martial arts are common now, back then it was quite exotic), the fatherly trainer, the perfect hero and a great villain. Add a few funny secret agents and a buddy ( Jackson) , and you have a perfect 90 minutes action flick. I must not forget the fighters themselves, a pretty colorful bunch. Also, the soundtrack wasn`t half bad. Typical 80`s aggro music that set the tone for the fights, plus asian sounds for authenticity. It is pure late 80`s action kitsch in perfection. It spawned an insane number of Bloodsport wannabe`s and birthed a new breed of action heroes, from Olivier Gruner to Don”The Dragon” Wilson etc…

Although my fanaticism has cooled down a lot, Bloodsport remains an unapolagetic personal favourite of mine.

I could go on writing about the production and lots of other details, but since this is all easy to access via Wkipedia or Google I shall spare you that . You probably know most of it already. One thing I will mention, though:

Van Damme took this film and recut it to the version we all know, after it got rejected by the studio, ending up in the vault. Thanks to him this film got saved from the trash, so to speak. For that we should salute him, or else we would`ve missed out on one of the most entertaining martial arts films in history and the subsequent flood of similar films and their stars. Thanks JC.. and thanks Newt Arnold, for images burned forever in my brain.

You Jackson? You look like a Jackson.


UNTIL DEATH (2007)


Directed by Simon Fellows

This was a  title I was very excited for, when the first pictures came in,

and the plot also made me hope for a dark, edgy action thriller, which  it is , in parts.

Van Damme looks pretty cool as the drug-addicted detective with a mean streak.

Anthony Stowe is a tough detective on the streets of New Orleans( yet one more excuse for his accent, it never stops).

After trying to arrest the drug dealer Callaghan(Stephen Rea)( and failing miserably), Stowe has two dead undercover cops to his credit and most of his colleagues  seem to hate him for that, but even before he wasn`t exactly everybody`s  darling.

One of the victims of the bust gone wrong was the wife of another detective, who blames him for her death.

But he doesn`t  take that shit and puts him in his place. (good scene).

Stowe also has to deal with his ex-wife and his heroin addiction, he nails prostitutes on pool tables and knocks out

people who wanna tow his car. So far, so good. Van Damme plays that role pretty convincingly, but sadly, the movie can`t keep its head above water.  I´d say,. the beginning and the end are the weak points here. For  a lot of the middle, this is really good, dark stuff, although some of the story feels very rushed.

A bit later he finds himself in a set-up, that  ends for him with a bullet to the head.

He miraculously survives, and when he awakens from a coma, he changes into a nice guy, wanting to put things right.

Not only with his ex, but also with some colleagues. He doesn`t drink or drug himself anymore.(that may be a little hard to believe, but that`s the story).

Callaghan was very busy during his half-year in a coma,rising to the top spot of evil-doers  in New Orleans.

Callaghan also kills his partner.

Fresh out of the coma, he still is after information about Callaghan, but also busy making up for his bad behaviour, walking the good guy route now. His young informant, who he kinda befriended before his coma, gets killed and his wife kidnapped. I forgot to mention, Callaghan was Stowe`s partner , back in the day, two bad cops, one being a bit badder.  Stowe may have been the reason he got off the force, if there is an explanation in here, I missed it.  By now, the film goes downhill, with a very simple stand-off in a warehouse, with a villain`s monologue that`s  cringeworthy, even though delivered by a respectable actor. The shootout is half-assed, a really weak and low point of the film. I enjoyed it until now, but the scene in the warehouse is truly abysmal.

The film could`ve used a bit more of clever writing, but since Stephen Rea isn`t exactly physically imposing , and lacking martial arts skills, they seemed to have not been able to wrap it up but with a poor shoot-out in a warehouse.

I just found out that the european cut is different from the US cut(the only one I knew until today, since I never bothered to buy a german edition). Seems like the european cut has the end with Van Damme dying, plus a few alternate or extra scenes. Here, both die, shooting each other at the same time.(With two CGI cartridges flying around , so you don`t miss it)

Well, as I said, a lot of this film is pretty dark, and Van Damme really tries to act fucked up, which for the most part,worked well. But the rushed end at the warehouse eliminates much of the promising parts. Rea remains one-dimensional as the villain, that alone took a lot of the potential. A movie needs a good villain, or the whole thing is pointless. The dirty, mean and strung-out Van Damme was great to see, but the end lacked the punch, and ultimately drags this movie into dissapointing territory. Another thing , again, was Van Damme`s  delivery of lines. He really needs to spit out his dialogue a bit more fluently, sometimes it truly hurts to hear him speak. But now it`s too late  to invest into an english teacher. Just sayin`.

This could`ve been something, but the lack of care in writing, the lack of a good ending makes this a missed opportunity.

link to alternate scenes/ending:

trailer:


Dragon Eyes (2012)


Directed by John Hyams

St. Jude Square is a neighborhood living in fear and despair. The dueling gangs of local kingpins Dash and Antuan terrorize the streets and the citizens live without a shred of hope… until mysterious stranger Ryan Hong (Cung Le) arrives in town. He begins to play one gang against the other using his unparalleled martial arts skills, and by calling on the teachings of his brilliant mentor Tiano (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to find the strength to battle back. However, just as he begins to bring the community under control, Hong is confronted by Mr. V, the town’s ruthless and corrupt police chief. At first Mr. V is impressed by Hong’s skill, but soon sees Hong as a threat to his regime, and the two warriors are locked in a head-to-head battle, pitting the fear and corruption of Mr. V’s regime versus the new beginning Hong represents for the people of St. Jude Square. Written by IM Global.

Well, a new Van Damme?

No, far from it. This is the good ol`bait `n switch, as there are many  of them out there, big names that only appear for seconds or a few minutes in the actual film.

This has Van Damme as the “mentor” for Cung Le, while in prison, training him or somethin…

The rest is a c-grade gang flick, with Cung Le as the hero, saving the day.

This you can easily avoid, there`s nothing worthwhile to see here.

The few scenes with Van Damme training also add no excitement to this bad, bad flick.

Kinda hurts, when even Peter Weller plays a role in such a crap.

John  Hyams seems to have learned nothing from his father. He is just one more crap director.

Compared to this, the ever-in the making EAGLE PATH (now renamed I believe in “Soldiers”) must be a great movie.

Don`t waste your money on this, really.Not even a minute of your time.

Trailer to this crapfest below.

UPDATE:

Im glad that there are other, sane people out there, who agree about DRAGON EYES. It sucks!!
I didnt provide a real, in-depth review, but the final product is the same…

After I got flamed by some fanboys on a VAN DAMME forum for telling it like it is, this makes me feel good.

http://www.fightlinker.com/dragon-eyes-review


UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4 (EX2 protest image) real soldiers are rated!!!


Came across this cool image , made by a member of the Van Damme fan forum www.vandammefan.net .

Related  to the PG 13 stuff going on with The Expendables..I think thats a kickass  photo.


Funny PG 13 EX 2 trailer…..


My friend over at Explosive Action posted this on facebook, and I just have to share it with you, my few but beloved readers. its  just too funny not to share it!!!


Official pics from UNISOLS-4 -VAN DAMME


JCVD  just released 3 stills from UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4, bald like Bruce Willis.

Not that I have high hopes for this movie, and I am afraid, it will again feature Van Damme in only half the movie, as happened in part 3 already. Movie stills can be very misleading…I remember being stoked, seeing stills for Lundgren`s DIAMOND DOGS, and it was a really crappy movie. But I am always open for a surprise. This is supposed to be in 3D-WHY? It probably won`t play in theatres, and if it does, its gonna be a limited release like ASSASSINATION GAMES.

Whatever….cannot really judge it before it`s out.

Until then, here are the 3 stills  JCVD released on his facebook.


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