Dec 092014
 
I was just thinking that it was time for another Jason Statham actioner, and, sure enough, here are a couple of posters for his latest: Wild Card. Directed by Simon West (The Mechanic), this is a remake of the troubled 1986 Burt Reynolds vehicle, Heat, written by William Goldman. Should be interesting.

Aug 102014
 
I was watching Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) on DVD the other night, and thought this bit with Dr. Watson enjoying the American funny pages was genuinely amusing. For the record, I couldn't agree with the good doctor more!

It occurred to me that Universal might have been cleverly plugging their own Flash Gordon serials, but Sherlock Holmes in Washington came out three years after their last Gordon serial, Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe, so it seems a bit late.
Jul 272013
 
It's been about three years since the last DVD release, but four more late-period Charlie Chan mysteries from Monogram Studios are coming to DVD in a couple of weeks (August 6th), courtesy of Warner Home Entertainment's latest Charlie Chan Collection

I've never seen any of these four particular crime capers - Shadows Over Chinatown, Docks Of New Orleans, Shanghai Chest and The Golden Eye - which were produced on a shoestring by the legendary Poverty Row studio, but as an unrepentant B-mystery & Chan fan, I'm looking forward to adding them to my collection. (Even if three of them star the somnambulant Roland Winters, by far the least-interesting of the actors who portrayed the Honolulu detective.)

They're arriving right in the nick of time, too, as I've just finished watching the last of the Falcon mysteries, starring Tom Conway, and produced by RKO, and I'll be needing some fresh material for my nightly Late Movies.

Pre-order from Amazon: Charlie Chan: Collection
Jul 222013
 
I am saddened today to hear of the passing of actor Dennis Farina. Farina died Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist. He was 69.

Like just about everyone else, I first witnessed his talent and screen presence when he played hardboiled police Lieutenant Mike Torello on Michael Mann's seminal period police drama, Crime Story series back in 1986. A true-life ex-Chicago cop, Farina brought hard-earned verisimilitude to his mob-busting, tough guy role.

Farina went on to play a wide variety of tough cops and criminals - sometimes comically (as in Get Shorty) - in dozens of television shows and films, including Code Of Silence, Manhunter, Snatch, and Midnight Run. He was well known for his recurring role on Law and Order, but I most fondly remember him as the titular character in Mark Frost's short-lived 1998 private eye series, Buddy Faro.

I'm definitely going to miss the guy. Rest in peace, sir.

Oct 032012
 

I have mixed feelings about this preview trailer for the upcoming film, Parker, based on the Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) books. I've been a bit wary about Jason Statham's casting ever since I first heard about the project - we all know that I love Statham as an action star, but I suspected from the beginning that the filmmakers would end up adapting the character to his established film persona, rather than get him to play the Parker of the books.

Based on this trailer, it appears that I was right.

The opening scenes of the heist and double-cross certainly have a Stark/Westlake flavor, but the rest of the trailer plays out like every other Statham star vehicle. Which means I'll probably enjoy it as an action movie... but as an adaptation of Stark/Westlake? Probably not so much.

Still, it's only the first trailer, and it may simply be a marketing choice (and probably the correct one) to try and make it appeal to the legions of Statham fans who probably don't have the foggiest idea of who the character Parker is.

I'll try and keep an open mind....

I do love the poster, though. Nice, clean, striking design.

Sep 112012
 
Two 70's exploitation films starring the great Robert Conrad, Live A Little, Steal A Lot (a/k/a Murph The Surf) and Sudden Death, will be hitting DVD in October as a double-feature disc from Inception Media. I've never seen either movie, but I have seen the trailers for both films, and they look like great B-movie fun!

Here's the full press release from Inception Media Group:
Prepare to go retro for a double dose of action, mayhem and intrigue with the Robert Conrad Double Feature, breaking onto DVD Oct. 16 from Inception Media Group.

Classic TV icon of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Robert Conrad (Black Sheep Squadron, The Wild Wild West, Hawaiian Eye) – and frequent sidekick Don Stroud (License to Kill, The Amityville Horror, The Buddy Holly Story, Joe Kidd) – are at their macho best in these action-packed feature films from the mod ’70s.

Live a Little, Steal A Lot aka Murph the Surf (1975): Based on the true story of the daring 1964 theft of the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from New York’s American Museum of Natural History.  Called the “Greatest Jewel Heist of the 20th Century,” the robbers nabbed 22 precious gems, including the 563.35-carat Star of India sapphire, the 100.32-carat de Long ruby and the 16.25-carat Eagle diamond (never recovered) … stones so famous they would be impossible to sell. Directed by Marvin Chomsky (Evel Knievel and TV’s The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Roots), with one of the original thieves serving as a film advisor. Also stars Burt Young (the Rocky movies) and Donna Mills (TV’s Knots Landing).

Sudden Death (1977):  When Ed Neilson’s entire family is viciously murdered, he pleads with retired CIA operative Duke Smith (Conrad) to investigate. He refuses, but relents after Neilson too meets an explosive death. Deception, international intrigue and a ruthless “syndicate of businessmen” intent on raping a South Pacific Islands nation of its resources keep the pace fast. But when the executives hire a treacherous assassin (Stroud), the two are thrown head-to-head in a predestined match of cunning, wit and brute force. Only one will survive. For the other … it’s Sudden Death. Directed by Eddie Romero (The Twilight People) on location in the Philippines.

Robert Conrad Double Feature is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16x9 (1.85:1) and digital stereo 2.0. 
May 012012
 

I actually rather enjoyed Ninja, the 2009 flick that headlined British kickboxer Scott Adkins. I thought it was a fun callback to the Cannon Films of the Eighties like Enter The Ninja & Revenge of The Ninja, and thought that Adkins was quite decent in the lead role. I have since seen him in the passable DTV action flick, Assassination Games, with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and am looking forward to his appearance in the forthcoming Expendables 2.  As I said in my review of Ninja, I believe Adkins has "all the qualities generally required of an action star - he's good looking, muscular, athletic and doesn't talk too much."

Anyway, I've since started following him on Twitter and Facebook. A couple days ago he posted a link to te trailer for his next starring vehicle, El Gringo. From the the trailer posted above, it looks like a wannabe Desperado, but it also looks like it could be fun.
Apr 242012
 
It's funny, but I never really thought of myself as much of a fan of  Swedish action star Dolph Lundgren  until just recently. Sure, I respected the guy - it's difficult not to respect a 6'5' authentic genius (reported IQ of 160) with a master's degree in chemical engineering and a 3rd-degree black belt in karate - and I certainly enjoyed his screen work in the early 90s, like Red Scorpion, I Come In Peace (a/k/a Dark Angel), Showdown In Little Tokyo, and Universal Soldier, but I didn't keep up with his filmography past '93/'94. In fact, I only rediscovered Dolph when I was sent some of his later movies for review at my DVD Late Show site. It was then that I noticed that his DTV movies were generally more entertaining than those starring most of his contemporaries (like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, for instance.).

Part of the reason for that, I think, is that starting around 2004, Dolph started personally directing some of his direct-to-video flicks, starting with The Defender. Now, I haven't seen all of his self-directed efforts, but I did enjoy The Killing Machine (a/k/a Icarus), Missionary Man, and, in particular, Command Performance.

I'm about to go sit down and watch his second film as director, The Russian Specialist, a/k/a The Mechanik. I've read some favorable reviews of the flick, and found a very inexpensive copy of the DVD for sale online (less than $5, including S&H). It sounds like a fun revenge flick, and I'm looking forward to it....
Apr 192012
 
Here's one of my periodic lists of B-movies and cult films that I still want on DVD (or even Manufactured-On-Demand DVD-R) for my video collection. Most of these are favorites from my days haunting mom & pop video stores in the Eighties.

As far as I know (and I hope someone will let me know if I'm mistaken), none of these titles are currently available on authorized, Region 1, DVDs or Blu-ray. (Don't talk to me about R2 or other foreign editions. I know it's difficult to believe, movie buff that I am, but I don't own a region-free player and couldn't afford import discs even if I did).

This was originally a list of ten movies, but I just found out that the 1984 Tom Selleck film Lassiter is due out on DVD later this month. 

Arena (1989)
Avenging Force (1986)
Eliminators (1986)
Force: Five (1981)
Godzilla (1985)
I, The Jury (1982)
Ninja III - The Domination (1984)
PeaceMaker (1990)
The Soldier (1982)
I have about half of these titles on VHS, but aside from the fact that they're all pan & scan versions, they're all so old that the tapes are starting to demagnetize (is that a word?) and the image quality is significantly degraded....