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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Dolph Lundgren

The Expendables 3 (2014)

They’re old. Get used to it.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang are back and older than ever! Which means that with age, comes a lot more violence and harm in their way. And possibly, with their latest target, their lives could all be in actual danger. The baddie this time around goes by the name of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and he’s had a bit of a history with Barney. However, he takes mercy on him and instead, decides to injure the ‘eff out of Caesar (Terry Crews), leaving the rest of the Expendables wanting all sorts of revenge that they can practically taste it in their thyroids. And Barney knows this, which is why he decides to give his old crew a much needed rest, and start up with a new crew of youngin’s just waiting to throw their lives on the line for some under-paid mercenary job they know hardly anything about. Eventually though, the mission ends up getting a whole lot more complicated for Barney and his new rag-tag, which means he may have to bring in all the friends he can think of. Or, better yet, the ones who would agree to work in this for chump change.

It should be no surprise to anyone out there who has gotten to know me through the years that I’m a huge fan of the older action movies of the 80’s/90’s. They always hold a very nice place in my heart and will continue to do so, so long as I still maintain a sense of immaturity. Which is exactly why the Expendables movies, despite being an obvious ploy to get nostalgic-mother-humpers like me in the theater, have always worked for me. No, they aren’t perfect and no, they sure as hell aren’t nearly as good as the twelve-year-old inside of me would have thought it been, but they’re still fun movies that deliver on exactly what you want: Your favorite action stars from yesteryear, kicking ass and blowing shit up all over again.

"Grrrr."

“Grrrr.”

And here, with the third movie in this rather surprising franchise, that’s exactly what you get. But then again though, it’s what we should expect, so it’s hard to really judge a movie on what it’s supposed to be and clearly is. A movie should be followed and dissected on what it does with those expectations, and here, it’s something that isn’t nearly as fun and exciting as the second movie, yet, not nearly as lazy as the first. Somehow, this movie is stuck right in the middle and I think that’s fine.

Sure, would I have liked that there’d been less corny chit-chat between some of these strange duos on-screen? Of course. And while I’m at it, wouldn’t have I at least liked to seen more action scenes that didn’t just contain guns being shot, without ever really seeing what they do in the first place? Most definitely yes! But that’s just me being greedy and picky and all that bad stuff. And while I’m like that with most movies I see, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for any of that chicanery here.

So yeah, back to what I was originally saying – this movie’s pretty fun. And considering that were all stepping into what I know to be the “dog days of summer”, that means a whole heck of a lot. It means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting a fun, action summer blockbuster, but it also means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting it courtesy of some people we haven’t seen do stuff like this in quite some time.

I mean, well for Sly, Arnie, Statham, Crews, Couture, Lundgren, and whoever else shows up here that’s shown up in the past two, but as for the other “new breeds”, as I like to call ’em as I sees ’em, it’s great to just see actually working in something again. Even if the material that they are working with is pretty timid, run-of-the-mill stuff, it still makes my heart feel all warm and tingly knowing that, yes, Wesley Snipes may finally be in full comeback mode. Don’t worry, I won’t get my hopes up too high, cause you never know with him, but I will keep my fingers crossed because seeing him here, throwing knives, doing karate and whatnot, made me think of the good old days in which I’d sneak downstairs and watch Blade while everybody else in my house was asleep. The nightmares were terrible, but man, it was oh so worth it!

Come on, Wesley! Just pay your taxes for your gosh sakes!

But I digress, because this movie isn’t just about Wesley Snipes and his much needed return to the big screen; this is about everyone who is involved with the Expendables franchise as a whole. It doesn’t matter if they pop up just to wreck some mofo’s up like Chuck Norris infamously did in the second movie, or if they’re just around to be weird and wear other outfits, from other famous summer blockbusters, much like what Mickey Rourke did in the first movie. See, it’s the little pieces of this cast that make it all worth the while and even though the script is cheesy and at times, god-awful to listen to, it’s fun and it’s hacky for a reason, and it’s only made better because the cast totally seems in on the joke.

I would have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn't have gone over quite as well.

I could have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn’t have gone over quite as well.

Sure, I could totally do without Arnie self-deprecatingly yelling at people, “GET TO THA CHOPPAA!!”, but it’s something I take with me when I’m watching something like this. Sly and the rest of the clan have finally realized that instead of taking themselves so damn seriously all of the time, that they should just lighten up, crack a few jokes at themselves and move on. There’s no need for a super-duper heavy, melodramatic story about how we all need to get along and maybe even highlight some of the problems over in the Ukraine.

Nope, not here. Because here, it’s all about the guns, the blood, the violence, the shooting, the wise-cracks, the half-naked men, the sweating, the yelling, the constant “bro-ing”, the running, the helicopters, the tanks, the explosions, the bikes, the knives, the guts, the, well, everything that has to do with an action movie of this nature.

And Kelsey Grammar for some odd reason. But I guess we can just leave that as is. A little Frasier here and there never hurt anyone too bad.

Consensus: Everything you’d expect from an Expendables movie, yet, not nearly as good as the second, nor nearly as mellowed-out as the first. In other words, it’s just right if you’re hankering for some serious fun and nostalgia.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

More than half of who's pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

More than half of who’s pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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Eastern Promises (2007)

Does Russia ever want tourists to visit them?

The film follows and centres on the story of a London hospital’s midwife Ana (Naomi Watts) who witnessed the death of a young girl in giving birth on Christmas Eve and decided to search for her family and identity. The search leads her into the core of dangers of the underground sex-trafficking business operated by the London’s Russian crime community headed by Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen).

I’ve been covering David Cronenberg flicks pretty frequently now and I’m glad to say that I think I’m starting to understand him a lot more now. Actually, no I’m not. Just bring on the blood dammit!

After A History of Violence came out and sort of took the world by storm, Cronenberg was looking for his next big crime film that would do the same and he pretty much does the same thing here, except everybody is Russian. What I liked about Cronenberg’s direction here is that he allows the story to tell itself and rather than spelling everything out for us, simply gives us a back-story to all that is going on and what could possibly happen with all of these gritty sons-of-bitches. This means that there is enough time for all of the tension to build up, so when Cronenberg does unleash his killing spree for all of us to see, it really feels deserved.

There aren’t many of the scenes where Cronenberg just lets loose with his violence, but when it does happen, shit gets very crazy and gory. I can’t remember the last time that I actually saw a film with so many slit throats but instead of becoming repetitive and a boring way to off somebody, Cronenberg pretty much adds as much ketchup as he can to make it seem like every single blood cell this guy has, is coming right out of his throat. Sorry for all of the bloody detail but it’s something that sticks with you after you see this kind of flick, as well as a scene where a dude gets his eye-ball stabbed. It’s all fun and games with Cronenberg, with plenty of blood and murder to go around.

However, the one violent scene that I heard everybody talking about when this first came out, was actually the big-ass brawl in the bathhouse. Basically, the scene consists of Viggo facing off against two Russian thugs but the catch here, is that Viggo’s completely naked. And when I mean naked, I mean NAKED. You see everything that this dude’s got packing and as daring as it may have been from Viggo, it’s still a huge distraction from the whole scene itself. The choreography is pretty bad-ass and the violence itself is filmed well, with Cronenberg standing off to the side and not trying to add any flash or flair to it all, but it’s sort of distracting when you got Viggo on top of a dude beating the shit out of him and all you can keep staring at is his balls on the dude’s chest. Yes, it’s a pretty daring and different kind of action scene, but it”s also one that really could have been saved had Viggo decided to put some shorts on. Hell, he didn’t even really need shorts, he could have gone with something like spandex or just some sort of leg wear that would have gotten my eye-balls away from his…well..you know where I’m going with this.

Aside from the infamous scene that he took apart of, Viggo Mortensen is actually pretty damn good in this role as Nikolai and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination he got that year. Viggo is always one of those actors who just always seems like a bad-ass in just about everything he’s in, and he gets to show all of that here as a Russian gangster, except one of the rare ones that actually has a conscience. He’s rough, tough, and a dude that you wouldn’t fuck with but if you really feel like you could, you could probably even trust him as well. Great performance from Viggo and another extra kudos to him for going out and baring it all. Lord only knows I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

Naomi Watts‘ performance here as Anna is fine but her story starts to really fall in the background by about the second act, and it’s such a shame because Watts seems pretty much one-note the whole time. I mean this is a chick who can make distressed and scared look perfect, but that’s all she is pretty much given here and as much as I loved seeing Viggo be cool as hell, I would have liked to see. more from Watts and her story as well. Playing two of Viggo’s crime buddies are Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel, and as good as they are, their fake Russian accents seemed a little forced and really took me away from the authenticity of the flick. I know I sound like a brat with that last statement but honestly, if Cronenberg was having such a problem with being able to get these guys to do legit, Russian accents, they should have just freakin’ called up Dolph Lundgren. End of story people!

Consensus: Eastern Promises definitely delivers on some solid acting from Viggo Mortensen, and a solid direction from David Cronenberg, but it also lacks in a story that can really draw you in and the last act or so, really starts to fizzle out.

7/10=Rental!!

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.

8/10=Matinee!!

Lockout (2012)

It’s like ‘My Date With the President’s Daughter’ except its in space and filled with more serial killers and rapists.

A former government agent Snow (Guy Pearce) wrongly accused of a crime gets a shot at freedom — if he can engineer a high-risk mission to outer space in order to rescue the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) from a prison where the inmates are in control.

Right from checking out the trailers, I knew that this was basically ‘Escape from New York’ in space. Hell, it could have even passed as a sequel from John Carpenter himself but it at least still deserves more credit than that. Ok, maybe not that much but come on it’s April!

What this film did and did well was that it was an action movie that kept a pretty quick pace going on throughout the whole time. It went from point A to point B without feeling the need to muck it up or try and bring in some soft moments so we could feel something for these characters. It gets the job done in a slick pace that doesn’t feel like they’re holding you over for too long either.

Just about anybody could correctly guess the entire story based on the trailers/commercials or if you have ever seen an action film from the 90’s, but I think that’s the charm underneath it all. It’s not trying to be anything else other than dumb, mindless entertainment that is pretty much meant to be watched for the sake of passing time. Also, the fact that the script doesn’t take itself too seriously and actually allows plenty upon plenty of jokes to come up also added a lot of the fun to this film as well. Basically, you get what you pay for: action mixed with sci-fi, that doesn’t need to be watched or enjoyed with a brain intact.

The film itself only cost about 30 million dollhairs to make (which may not sound all that cheap but when you think about how much ‘John Carter’ went up for, then you’ll understand) but for some reason I feel like a lot more money could have been used on this. Not all of the visuals are bad, actually they are quite good but the times when they are bad, they are noticeably bad. There is a scene in the beginning where Snow is riding away on this motorcycle while some peeps are shooting at him and it honestly looks like a freakin’ video game cut scene. The SFX looked clumsy and it was almost as if the film didn’t have enough money to fix the scene up, so they just left it in there hoping people wouldn’t notice it’s horrible look. Sorry dudes, I’m a pretty observant guy.

It was also sort of strange that in a that consists of 500 prison inmates on the loose, that the most dangerous threat to these protagonists was the space ship that they were all in. The inmates obviously get their times to shine and show that they can be pretty bad-ass and killer when they have to (that’s what got them in there in the first place), but too much of the film was focused on the problems that Snow had to deal with when it came to the actual space ship itself. It would constantly shut-on and shut-off, change room temperature, come close to blowing up, and a whole bunch of nonsense that sort of took away from the dangerous level of all of these bad guys in the first place. Maybe the other problem also had to do with the fact that whenever the two main bad guys talked, I couldn’t get past their thick, Scottish accents. Then again, that’s probably my fault so don’t mind me.

Guy Pearce has been one of those actors that you can depend on no matter what the material is, and it was pretty cool to see him finally get his shot at showing he can be a leading man once again here as the wise-cracking Snow. Snow is basically the Snake Plissken-type where he’s dangerous, smart, and very much a loose cannon but Pearce sells that every single second here and makes us like Snow a whole lot more. I would say about 95 percent of this dude’s dialogue is either a wise-crack, insult, sarcastic comment, or just a plain and simple joke but it never gets boring one bit and makes a lot of the scenes with him a lot more playful and lighter. Pearce obviously is having a blast with this role and I couldn’t help but have fun watching him myself.

Maggie Grace is pretty good as the president’s daughter, Emilie Warnock, even though she is pretty much playing the same role she did as Liam Neeson’s daughter in ‘Taken’ but at least this time, she can fight back. Grace has some obvious chemistry with Pearce and I could actually see these two characters play together very well in a sequel to this, but judging by the box office for this one, I highly doubt that it will ever come around. Yeesh! On another thought though, can anybody tell me just what kind of accent Peter Stormare was gunning for here? The dude sounded like a strange mixture between a cowboy and Ivan Drago, and sometimes he would even go back and forth between the two. Strange accents aside, the guy is still a good actor though.

Consensus: Predictable, dumb, and unoriginal, Lockout barely has any of the elements that makes a good, if memorable, sci-fi flick but with a reliable cast, quick pace, and fun action to boot, it doesn’t do so bad when it comes to just killing some time.

6/10=Rental!!

The Expendables (2010)

It’s like a family reunion, except with more explosions, and steroids.

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) leads a ragtag band of hired guns charged with overthrowing a South American despot, a job no official military unit is willing to touch. But once on the ground, the team learns there’s more to the mission than they were told. Their next move determines whether they survive — or are, indeed, expendable.

Ever since I heard of this films first being talked about last year, I was instantly already pumped for this to actually come out. I was a big fan of the action films, that took over the 80’s and early 90’s, and seeing all my favorites on the big screen, is like my fantasy (no homo).

The film’s plot is how should I say, just terrible. There is plenty of plot holes that doesn’t quite explain a whole lot about the story, and it does not make any sense as it goes on even longer. Also, the screenplay isn’t terribly written but at times it does feel a bit lazy. The jokes are some what funny, but the film tries to be dramatic at times, and it doesn’t work, and is just pretty weak.

But that’s not what this film is all about, it’s all about guns, killing people, explosions, knives, shootings, more explosions, and by the end of it all, laughing it all off, and having a good time. For the most part, the action was awesome. There was defiantly plenty of action to satisfy all action lovers needs, but I just wish there was more than what I was given. The beginning, and the final 35 minutes deliver on the action very well, but I can’t quite say the same for the middle parts. Overall, the action was great to watch, and for once I could actually see what was going on, instead of having to be totally confused, because of the constant swerving of the camera.

The ensemble cast had me first interested because it has all of my favorites from the era of those action films, as well as some other ones. However, it doesn’t use all of them to their full potential, instead the film is more focused on Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Jet Li, while everybody else is sort of just side characters for the story. However, all three are good and bring a lot to the screen, and when their not killing people, they have great times on screen together. Others in the cast that are good when their on screen is, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The main villain here is portrayed by Eric Roberts, who I think knows that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, cause I really couldn’t with this film as a bad guy, but if that was the type of performance he was channeling, than he does a great job with it. There are also two good cameos from Bruce Willis, and the guy that hasn’t been around forever, that’s right bitches, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It isn’t the greatest cameo ever in the world of cinema, but it’s always good to see a long lost action hero, back on screen.

Consensus: The Expendables, may have a bad plot, and problems with its script, but it does provide plenty of the action it promised, and the cast still does provide plenty of fun for everybody.

7/10=Rental!!!