Scenes I Love: Eastern Promises


News that the sequel to Eastern Promises was one of the few pieces of news that really bummed me out when it made the rounds late 2012. The first film was one of my top ten for 2007 and consider it one of the better films about organized crime in the 21st century. A sequel to this film wasn’t needed, but most fans of the film wanted one just to see a furthering of the storyline between Viggo Mortensen’s character and that of Vincent Cassel’s character.

While the sequel may not be happening there’s still hope that it will get resuscitated in the future. Until that happens let’s take a look at what has to be one of the most realistic fight scenes on film. It’s the infamous (or famous depending on how you feel about the scene) Russian bath house scene near the end of the film. The scene sees Viggo Mortensen’s character of Nikolai Luzhin set upon by a couple of Chechen hitmen in the bath house where he proceeds to fight for his life in the most vulnerable fashion anyone can ever find themselves in.

Cronenberg has always been one of my favorite filmmakers and I continue to believe that his work body of work throughout his career puts him in the upper echelon, if not the elite level, of filmmakers living and working today. This fight scene has nothing glamorous about it. The cool factor that some attribute to the scene just emphasizes Cronenberg’s recent observation about the hypocrisy of those who denounce violence yet look at the violence he creates on film and call it art.

I consider this a scene I love just for the base simplicity of the scene itself. It’s primal and almost Darwinian in the lengths a person will go through to keep themselves alive for one second more. The scene also reminds me why Viggo Mortensen remains one of this era’s most underrated and greatest actors. Yes, it’s just a fight scene, but he gives so much into making it authentic that one could almost believe that his life was in danger and he did the fight for real (in fact Mortensen did injure himself so much during the several takes of the scene that his bruises afterwards became a problem for the make-up department who had to apply his vory v zakone tattoos every day).

What Lisa and Evelyn Watched Last Night #65: Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (dir by Brian Trenchard-Smith)

Last night, after we finished watching the first episode of the new season of American Idol, my bff Evelyn and I watched Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, an evangelical apocalypse film from 2001.

Why Were We Watching It?

Considering that I’m an occasionally agnostic Irish Catholic and Evelyn describes herself as being a “Jewish atheist,” and that Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 is a film about Armageddon told from an evangelical point of view, I think the real question is how could we not watch it?  I mean, seriously.

Along with that, of course, Evelyn and I both wanted to watch something that nobody would ever expect either one of us to ever watch.

What Was It About?

Stone Alexander (Michael York) is President of the European Union and is promoting a plan that he claims will solve all of the world’s problems.  His younger brother, David Alexander (Michael Biehn) is vice president of the United States and wants to keep America from turning into Europe.  David is also in love with Stone’s wife (Diane Venora).  And, of course, Stone is actually the Antichrist while David is Michael Biehn.

Anyway, Stone uses his magic devil powers to cause President Benson (R. Lee Ermey) to die of a heart attack and David becomes President.  David, however, refuses to join Stone’s “new world order” so Stone frames David for the murder of their father.  David goes into hiding with a few loyal American soldiers while Stone makes plans to launch a military strike against Jerusalem.

It all, of course, leads to a huge battle between the forces of Hell and the combined armies of Spain and China (no, really).  David finally gets his chance to confront his brother, many prayers are said, and, eventually, a CGI demon pops up and creates a lot of CGI mayhem.

What Worked?

Evelyn claims that nothing worked in this film but I disagree just slightly.  First off, and most importantly, Franco Nero is in this film!  He plays Stone’s father-in-law and, while he may no longer be the dashing Lancelot from Camelot, Franco Nero is still aging pretty damn well.

Udo Kier is in the film too.  Seriously, Udo Kier pops up in the strangest places.

Michael York is a lot of fun as the wonderfully evil Stone Alexander. York’s performance here makes his delivery of the line, “YOU CAN LIVE!  LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!” at the end of Logan’s Run look restrained.  Also, if you’re going to have a made-for-evil name like Stone Alexander, you might as well be the Antichrist.

On a personal note, I had a lot of fun annoying Evelyn by pointing out that just about every policy proposed by Stone Alexander has also been proposed by Barack Obama.  I imagine that Megiddo must be a very popular film among certain conspiracy-minded segments of the population.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, the entire film didn’t work.  It’s not a very good film.  The special effects were cheap, the script made the Atlas Shrugged films look subtle, and I imagine that the film probably created more atheists than believers.

That said, Megiddo is still better than Avatar.

“Oh my God!  Just like Evelyn and Lisa!” Moments


Lessons Learned

Franco Nero ages like a fine wine.

Getting the point of Megiddo