Happy Birthday Charles Bronson!: THE STONE KILLER (Columbia 1973)


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Charles Buchinsky was born November 3, 1921 in the coal-country town of Ehrenfield, PA to a Lithuanian immigrant father and second-generation mother. He didn’t learn to speak English until he was a teen, and joined the Air Force at age 23, serving honorably in WWII. Returning home, young Charles was bitten by the acting bug and made his way to Hollywood, changing his last name to ‘Bronson’ in the early fifties. Charles Bronson spent decades toiling in supporting parts before becoming a name-above-the-title star in Europe.

By the 1970’s, Bronson had begun his long run as an action star. THE STONE KILLER capitalizes on the popularity of Cop and Mafia movies of the era, with Our Man Bronson as Lou Torrey, a Dirty Harry-type who shoots first and asks questions later. After he kills a 17-year-old gunman in the pre-credits opening, Torrey is raked over the coals by the New…

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Well-Structured Destruction: Clint Eastwood in THE GAUNTLET (Warner Brothers 1977)


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(First off, feast your eyes on the incredibly cool Frank Frazetta poster! Then read on… )

Clint Eastwood’s  directorial credits include some impressive films: THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, PALE RIDER, UNFORGIVEN, MYSTIC RIVER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY. While 1977’s THE GAUNTLET may not belong on that list, I feel it’s a very underrated movie deserving a second look. Clint and his lady love at the time Sondra Locke star in this character study of two damaged people disguised as an action comedy, essentially a chase film loaded with dark humor.

Clint plays Ben Shockley, an alcoholic Phoenix cop sent to Las Vegas to extradite Gus Mally, “a nothing witness in a nothing trial”. Gus turns out to be a woman, a hooker in fact, set to testify against a Phoenix mobster. Ben’s suspicions are roused when he learns Vegas oddsmakers are giving 50-1 they don’t make it to Phoenix alive, confirmed…

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John Wick: Chapter 2 Cordially Invites All to A Party In Rome


In 2015, a little film from Lionsgate came out during that time between the summer blockbuster and the awards seasons. It’s sort of the time of the cinematic year when a film is not good enough to be a blockbuster and not enough pedigree to be seen as awards-worthy.

This film was John Wick and it starred Keanu Reeves. It was also directed by two filmmakers more well-known for choreographing fights and action scenes than a full feature film.

John Wick had the last laugh as it surpassed everyone’s expectations to become one of the best action films of recent memory. It helped resurrect Keanu Reeves as a bonafide action star once again.

At this year’s New York Comic-Con the first teaser trailer for the second chapter of the John Wick story dropped to the howling delights of all attending.

We still have to wait until 2017 for John Wick: Chapter 2, but until then let’s stare in awe at John Wick doing what he does best.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Enter the Dragon, Drive Angry 3D, The A-Team, Ichi the Killer


Tis November 27, 2015 and all 4 Shots from 4 Films are dedicated to four actors who share the same birth date. A date which all will have now figured out as being November 27. One comes from the Master of the Martial Arts himself, another a veteran character actor, a third who became a prawn and, lastly, the one who made the Glasgow Smile cooler before Heath Ledger.

4 SHOTS FROM 4 FILMS

Enter the Dragon (dir. by Robert Clouse)

Enter the Dragon (dir. by Robert Clouse)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Sabotage, The Raid 2, John Wick, Fury


2014 had it’s share of very good action films and here are four that I was particularly drawn to. While the film themselves were of varying degrees of quality in terms of storytelling. These 4 films all had one thing that I enjoyed despite their films’ flaws. They all had action scenes that I thought were quite excellent.

You have gritty present-day action thriller, an operatic gangster epic, a revenge thriller and a war film. One stars an aging action star back from playing politician. Another a foreign film whose filmmaker and star have set the bar for all action films for years to come. Then there’s the stunt coordinators and 2nd unit directors finally making their mark with their first feature-length film. Lastly, a war film that brings the brutality of World War II tank warfare to the forefront.

4 SHOTS FROM 4 FILMS

Sabotage (dir. by David Ayer)

Sabotage (dir. by David Ayer)

John Wick (dir. by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch)

John Wick (dir. by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch)

Scenes I Love: Punisher: War Zone


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In honor of Jon Bernthal being cast as the latest in a line of Frank Castles aka the Punisher for Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix, I thought I’d share with all my favorite scene from the only Punisher film worth the name. The film this scene is from was Punisher: War Zone by Lexi Alexander.

While the casting of Jon Bernthal looks to be a near perfect stunt-casting by Marvel for Daredevil‘s upcoming second season on Netflix, I thought Ray Stevenson’s portrayal as the psychotic antihero in Punisher: War Zone was the best one comic book fans have gotten. Dolph Lundgren was the first Punisher and the less said about him the better. Then Thomas Jane took a stab on portraying the character to some success though still not doling out enough punishing in my book.

With Ray Stevenson we got a Frank Castle who was well into his vigilante killing-spree of the criminal underworld. This was a man possessed to kill in as brutal and efficient manner every violent criminal he comes across. The film itself was so over-the-top that too many thought it was too campy in a violent sense when Lexi Alexander actually tapped into what made the Punisher tick and put it up on the screen. It also helped that Ray Stevenson owned the role he was given.

Jon Bernthal has some big shoes to fill, but with the success of Daredevil the series I do believe he has a chance to make the character his own.

Gloriously Insane Action That Is Kung Fury


Kung FuryThe Insanely Glorious Action That Is Kung Fury

I grew up during the 1980’s and I do remember how it was a decade dominated by martial arts films and cop action films. Even looking back through rose-tinted goggles, I will admit that for a majority of films released under those two genres most were quite bad. Yet, they were bad and enjoyable in their own clumsy and low-budget way.

The short comedy action film Kung Fury arrives on the web today. Why a short film and not a full-length? Well, while it’s kickstarter campaign more than passed it’s goal of $200,000 dollars it failed to reach a stretch goal of $1,000,000 to turn the film into a full-length feature film. While I believe a full-length film would’ve been nice to see, I think this film works best in it’s short film format.

Kung Fury (written, directed and starring David Sandberg) is a pastiche of all the over-the-top action beats action film fans love about the genre during the 1980’s. It throws everything it could think of onto the screen and blends them together with no thought in mind of how ridiculous and insane it turned out. It’s a film that’s a homage and a parody of those very 80’s action and martial arts films that we know and love so much.

Yet, for all the insanity that occurs in the film there’s actually a weird logic to the film’s narrative that reaches a nice pay-off in the end that screams and begs for a sequel. What better way to end a film that’s a love letter to all things 1980’s action than making sure it ends in a blatant cliffhanger that screams sequel and franchise building.

If there’s one film you should see this weekend that doesn’t involve costumed superheroes, post-apocalyptic marauders, acapella throwdowns, and the next disaster porn then it should be the 30-minutes of insane martial arts, time-traveling, police action film called Kung Fury.