The Heart of the Dragon: Way of the Dragon

So far, my Odyssey of Bruce Lee has toured The Big Boss, a flawed film saved solely by Lee’s presence, and Fist of Fury (aka Chinese Connection), a fittingly grand revenge tale with jaw dropping-action.

Even though Fist of Fury was a huge improvement on The Big Boss, I felt the director, Wei Lo, still didn’t understand exactly what he had in Lee. Of course, the only person capable of understanding Lee’s full potential was the man himself, so it was fitting that for his next movie, Way of the Dragon, Lee parted ways with Wei and took directing into his own lightning fast hands […]

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Seeing Red: Swords, Sorcery and Sexism in Red Sonja.

The eighties were awash with fantasy films.

Some were excellent (Conan The Barbarian, The Princess Bride), some were flawed but entertaining, (Krull, Willow), while others were just boring or just downright awful (Hawk The Slayer, Conan The Destroyer). It was a glorious time for swords and sorcery fans, and though the quality may have been wildly variable, as a budding Tolkien fan obsessed with anything with even a passing resemblance to the fantastical that featured weird creatures […]

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A Sequel in Earnest: Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon 2

There are very few movies that deserved a sequel as much as Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon; not because it was set up that way, but because of the potential of the movie’s narrative and the ever-burgeoning relationship of its characters.

Although sequels had long been established, it was the 1980’s that saw them grow into an essential component of the marketing beast. The 1970’s had witnessed the dawn of the numbered sequel, but those movies were few and far between, productions such as The French Connection II and The Godfather Part II hardly the products of premeditated money-spinning campaigns […]

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The Glimmer Man (1996)

Seagal has starred in so many second-rate movies during the past two decades you sometimes forget he was once a rather formidable action star.

Back in his early to mid-90’s prime, he starred in some pretty decent efforts, the kind with enough of a budget to attract some top-level acting talent. Take The Glimmer Man for example. Keenan Ivory Wayans may not be first choice when it comes to a humorous, street-talking sidekick, but he’s too good for the kind of bargain-basement efforts Seagal now stars in. Similarly, Manhunter’s Brian Cox and The Shawshank Redemption’s Bob Gunton are both very fine actors whose mere presence can elevate any old nonsense you care to throw at them […]

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Avenging Force (1986)

Dudikoff and James are back in tandem, proving without a shadow of a doubt that they are the very cream of the Cannon crop.

Forget Seagal, Van Damme and . . . well, not Stallone and Schwarzenegger, but for me Dudikoff and James come in at a close third. Any action movie aficionado worth their salt is aware of the iconic duo’s legacy, and for those who aren’t they are the Mel Gibson and Danny Glover of the B-movie scene, starring in such high-kicking classics as the American Ninja series […]

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Dragon Justice: Fist of Fury

The Big Boss established several rules for making a great Bruce Lee movie, mostly by getting them wrong.

The number one rule, which should have been obvious, would be to make Bruce Lee the focus of the movie. The second rule would be letting Bruce Lee do what he did best, be a cool motherf’er. The third rule: let Bruce Lee do a lot of fighting. While it is impossible to keep Bruce from being cool, The Big Boss fumbles on rules 1 and 3 […]

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Masters of the Universe: Star Wars and the Fall of Grayskull

During their B-movie pomp, Cannon Films were a modest distribution company who far exceeded expectations.

Originally formed by Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey as a soft porn production company, the struggling duo were forced to sell to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, an Israeli duo who would tap into the B-movie boom of the early 1980’s. Golan-Globus would achieve immediate success exploring the popular slasher and action genres, creating stars such as Michael Dudikoff (Avenging Force), and eventually attracting some of the industry’s top names thanks to a prolific output of low-budget movies that would turn a tidy profit […]

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Tease the Dragon – The Big Boss

What was it about Bruce Lee that made him the eternal icon of action cinema?

He wasn’t the first star of the kung fu wave. Shaw Brothers Studio had been steadily churning out heroic martial arts fantasy flicks years before Lee got into the game, and cheaply dubbed versions were already showing up in American grindhouse theaters. He certainly was one of the most talented and innovative martial artists in history, but that alone doesn’t explain it, either.  I break it down to something simpler: Bruce Lee was the coolest son of a bitch ever to walk the Earth. He was so cool that both Steve McQueen and James Coburn were […]

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Money Train (1995)

Back in 1992, Ron Shelton’s low-key comedy-drama White Men Can’t Jump gave us more than just basketball.

The story of two racially opposed hustlers who would form an unlikely bond both on and off the courts, the movie proved a surprise hit thanks to a heartwarming screenplay and the magical onscreen chemistry of its lead players. The film was even a favourite of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who was probably in need of a little cheer from time to time […]

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Kung-Fu Cannibals aka Raw Force (1982)

Kung-Fu Cannibals is as barmy as its title suggests.

In a nutshell, it is a movie about a group of maniacal monks who kidnap and barbecue big-breasted women, believing that female flesh gives them the power to raise the dead. If this movie sounds somewhat misogynistic, that’s because it is. If we’re not in a whorehouse we’re in a strip joint, and with characters credited with such unabashed names as Drunken Sexpot and Girl in Toilet, feminists need not apply […]

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