Posted in DVD

Re-watching American Samurai

David Bradley, from the American Ninja series, stars as a man raised by a Japanese family who is estranged from his step-brother. He has been trained as a samurai.american-samurai-poster

Our hero, Drew,  grows up to a journalist and he goes to Turkey to investigate something. He is working with a female photographer. They don’t hit it off. Later they get to like each other a bit more.

The step brother Kenjiro is in Turkey and involved in illegal fights to the death. The poster describes the movie as “Bloodsport with Blades” and that seems fair. The fight scenes are a lot of fun.

This is fun. It could start a little quicker but the fights are good, Bradley is a likeable hero, and Dacasos is good as the villain(more for his fight scenes than his acting). It is worth seeing if you liked the American Ninja movies. It is worth seeing again if you haven’t seen it in a few years.


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Summer of Noir: Criss Cross

Burt Lancaster stars as Steve Thompson in this classic. Steve works for an armored car company and he’s mixed up with a criminal’s wife. When caught with the wife, Steve says he wanted to talk to the criminal about pulling a heist.

Dan Duryea was the criminal Slim and Yvonne De Carlo was Anna, Slim’s wife and Steve’s old flame. Dan Duryea was known for playing criminal’s and creeps. De Carlo was good and her scenes with Lancaster were good.

The supporting performances were good and I like Lancaster’s voice over and the repeated references to fate. The scene with the gang planing the heist was fun and I liked the consultant.

I think this is well worth seeing.

Posted in DVD

Faster re-watched

I will try to avoid any speed related puns in this post.

This is a revenge movie. Dwayne Johnson gets out of prison and he wants revenge on the men who killed his brother. Johnson and the screenplay don’t relie on his likability at all.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as the cop who is investigating the killings. He is days from retirement and he looks shaky. He and his wife are separated or divorced.

There is a hired killer hunting Johnson.  The killer wants to move on from his career but he has committed to this job. It becomes one last job.

There are a few surprises along the way. That was nice. The performances are good. This is not great but it is good.

Johnson is not at his best as a grim seeker of vengeance. There is a likeabilty to his screen persona. So as good as this movie is, I think better movies are in Johnson’s future.

Posted in DVD

Fantastic Four Re-watched

With the reboot of Fantastic Four coming out in August, it seems like a good time to re-watch the original film. So I did and I still liked the film. It is not great but it has some nice moments.

The oddest aspect of re-watching the Fantastic Four is seeing Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/the Human Torch. Evans is good in the role but he is best known now as Captain America. Evans has a good buddy chemistry with Michael Chickilis’ the Thing. It is funny to see them pull pranks on each other.

Jessica Alba took a lot of criticism for her role as Susan Storm. I don’t think she was that bad. She is not the worst actress ever cast as a scientist. She and Evans don’t look that much like brother and sister.

Ioan Gruffudd is good as Reed Richard/Mr. Fantastic. He is likable but also a bit remote.  His relationship with Sue is good and his relationship with the Thing is good.

The Thing is the heart of this movie. Michael Chiklis is good in the role.

The worst thing is the villain. Victor Von Doom is played by Julian McMahon and he is not great. Maybe with a better actor as Doom, the movie would have been better.

I am probably being generous in my views on this movie.

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Above the Law re-watched

I re-watched Yuen Biao’s Above the Law (it is also known as Righting Wrongs). This is a Hong Kong movie from the 1980s staring Yuen Biao, one of the Seven Little Fortunes troupe that included Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. The Fortunes got into movies and some of them (Chan, Hung, and Biao) made films together.

Yuen Biao stars as a lawyer but he still get into plenty of action out of the courthouse. After becoming frustrated with the legal process, he takes the law into his own hands. Cynthia Rothrock co-stars as a cop (she was a former martial arts champion turned actress).

Yuen was really good in this film. He has an agile fighting style. This is not his best film but it might be one of his best and it is one of the better ones without Hung or Chan. It still holds up.

I think the best film I saw with Yuen Biao is Dragons Forever, the last film Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and he made together.

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Dan in Real Life re-watched

I like this movie a lot. I am not sure if it is my favorite movie with Steve Carell. It might be. I still have my DVD that I bought in 2008.

Carell stars as Dan, an advice columnist and father. His wife has been dead for four years, As the movie opens, Dan is taking his daughters to his family’s annual vacation weekend. At a bookstore, he meets a woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche) and feels something he has not felt in years.

Marie turns out to be his brother Mitch’s new girlfriend. She feels something for Dan too. The weekend starts to become complicated.

Juliette Binoche is really good in this movie. She and Carell make a likable couple. Dane Cook seems a bit of an odd choice to be Carell’s brother Mitch.

This is a good movie but it is not a laugh riot. I think it holds up on re-watching.

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Avenging Force

This is a good movie from 1986. It is not a classic but it is enjoyable. The director and stars of American Ninja team again for a more serious movie (relatively more serious anyway).

Michael Dudikoff and Steve James fight right wing nuts. Dudikoff is a former secret service agent and James is running for the Senate. That is the plot.

The villains are a secret society called Pentangle. They are racist and want revenge on James’ character for blocking them from building a factory. They claim to be worried about a decline in America and its values. Also, they hunt people in a swamp.

Dudikoff and James are a likable pair and some of the action is pretty well staged. James’ character drops out of the movie but they have a good buddy chemistry.

This blu-ray features an introduction by director Sam Firstenberg. It is not bad. He says that he thinks this is his best movie. Maybe it is.