Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sequels: The Good, The Bad, The Underrated and The Forgotten. Part 3.

Oh I love sequels, oh so much. I just love being able to watch a second, third, fourth instalment of a film series and just enjoy the fun of it. There have been many sequels out there which are in my viewing schedule quite frequently, and sure I get a lot of flack for my favourites, but I just don't care! A lot of people say I don't have a serious taste in movies because the films I like are quite fun, action packed, silly or have been described as 'colourful'. While I may enjoy all those elements I can have a serous side to what I like. But unfortunately with sequels not many of them can be taken completely seriously. I feel I bond with sequels in that way. For a long time I was the bastard child, the black sheep, the one no one takes seriously because I am not serious a lot of the time. And a lot of sequels out there aren't serious but I have found that most sequels I have watched are far from boring. I think as a group of cinema goers that we should all get together and just accept that sequels are not going anywhere. As long as a movie makes a tonne of movie and a sequel can be easily put into play, they will not be leaving our cinema screens any time soon. Just embrace them.  I have compiled a list of sequels, that I came across in my collection which need honourable mentions. But before I give you my list, I want to show you my love and appreciation for what I consider to be some of my most favourite sequels of all time. Judge me if you like, but I get enjoyment out of these!

Anyone out there that truly knows me, that I am a huge fan of the Rocky franchise. It is a franchise that I grew up adoring, and the older I got, the more I began to really understand the heart, soul and depth that Stallone and Shire possess in these series of films. The sequel I find to be the strongest in the entire franchise is 'Rocky II'. Why? Because we see Rocky's fall from grace. Before he was an underdog with nothing to lose. But in 'Rocky II', he has everything to lose, and he is struggling with this as well struggling with his heart to do what is right for him. Some may say that it conveys a lot of the same elements as the first film. And that is true it certainly does, and while the heart is the same as the first film, the storyline and emotion is completely different. It is beautiful seeing Rocky finally having something to live for and love, and the struggle to keep what he has is a great one. When the finale comes around it makes that struggle all the more worth it. If you were to ask me what my favourite sequel was at age 16, I would have totally said Rocky IV, but I have now lived in the world and experienced a lot more things, and while I do love many montages and a Swedish martial artist pretending to be Russian, my heart lies with 'Rocky II'. One of my favourite scenes is when Rocky asks Adrian to marry him at the zoo, and it is incredibly sweet and charming, so let's just re-watch that for a minute. This video makes me god damn happy. I think the love between Rocky and Adrian is incredibly real, honest and strong and very subtly conveyed. But that is what makes it all the the more powerful and beautiful. 'Rocky II' is one of the greatest stories ever told, and it is truly the greatest love story ever portrayed on screen.

Another sequel which I feel deserves recognition because it has been slated BADLY by critics and audiences alike is...Jaws: The Revenge. I really enjoy this film, because I take it for what it is. Everyone knows its badly written, the dialogue is just awkward, the story was written by someone who was watching all the Jaws movies while taking a mixture of LSD and Ecstasy, and the acting is just all kinds of terrible. HOWEVER, tie all these elements together with a shark that roars, and you got yourself a comedy. I laugh my ass off watching this film, and I do not need to be drunk, or high off Cherry Coke. Oh no, I will watch this any day of the week, and still find it so hilariously bad. It is entertaining, and it has a lot of charm and wit, even though it does not intend to. The concept is just crazy, I mean seriously can a shark follow Ellen Brody from Martha's Vineyard AKA Amity Island all the way to the FREAKIN' BAHAMAS? And get there before she does? NO! But this film makes it seem like it's possible. Everyone love's revenge films right? Well see this as a revenge movie, but instead of Charles Bronson killing everyone, you have a great white shark trying to get it's revenge on the Brody family. Have I at least convinced you to watch this hilarious pile of trash? I hope so.

You totally weren't expecting to see this sequel in this series were you? Admit it!!!! Okay firstly I need to get this out of the way before I go into why I love this so much...Do you all want to know why I rented this film as a ten year old? I saw the front cover and thought several things. The first was 'HOLY SHIT GUTTENBERG, I FREAKIN' LOVE POLICE ACADEMY'...and then I saw dear old Tom Selleck and thought this 'Now THAT is one HELL OF A MOUSTACHE, I need to rent this'. I pretty much rented this because of the awesomeness of Selleck's Mo'. It was a good choice. I remember going to the deli next door the video store, and buying a chocolate milk and going home to watch this movie. It was one of the best experiences of my childhood. I found the film to be extremely funny, and I loved the different dynamics of the family and how each one of these men play a dad to Mary, but they all have different qualities to one another, but it proves to be a good balance. This is still a favourite of mine to this day, I actually saw the sequel of 'Three Men and a Little Lady' before I saw 'Three Men and a Baby', and I have to say the sequel is a tonne better. I think because Mary can give sass and have her own mind. I also lov the montage at the beginning of the film, which shows Mary growing up and how her family have come together and become as close as they are.  But we all know what the best scene in the whole film is...YES YOU KNOW WHAT'S COMING...Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson RAPPING!!!  Enjoy it my friends.

 I have always been a huge fan of Eddie Murphy, and I believe that his best film is hands down 'Beverly Hills Cop 2'. It is also the funniest and most well made film in that franchise. Now I know that is such a huge call to make, because the first is freakin' funny, and it does have some awesome scenes. But the second I think is a little more dark in some ways. But the situations Axel Foley get's himself into are just hilarious. And I also love his two sidekicks Billy Rosewood and John Taggart, because as much as they don't want to go along with all of Axel's shenanigans, they find themselves just doing what he says anyway.  I think this is also far more of an action packed movie, and it goes hand in hand with such a strong and simple storyline, which I think can be hard to do for sequels of this genre. Buddy cop films I have found to be pretty good, in terms of sequels so I think they have gone quite unscathed from the critics compared to a lot of your run of your action movie sequels. But having said that I have found them to be still under appreciated as a genre.  

And for my final favourite, I had to include the mixed martial arts movie,'Undisputed III'. There will never be enough words to describe my love for this film. Why? It is a simple storyline with just a lot of people kicking the absolute shit out of one another. I was actually very stupid and ignorant for not wanting to check these movies out a while ago because the DVD covers just didn't sell it to me. I then decided to sit down and watch them, and my god was I surprised. Scott Adkins can fight, he has legs like a wood chipper. Sure 'Undisputed II' was awesome because you see Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins battle it out, 'Undisputed III' is all about Adkins's character, Yuri Boyka. While he is a bad guy in the first sequel in the third instalment of the franchise he changes his ways but not his badassery. He retrains himself and he is more kickass than ever! I have a lot of love for this film, because it is extremely violent, it's about underground prison fighting which shows off all the words best fighters and it has freakin' Scott Adkins in it, so either way I am a happy girl. Do not get put off by this, and think 'oh it's just another mindless martial arts sequel'. It is one of the best sequels to come out in a long time, and it doesn't pretend to be 'Enter the Dragon' or anything like that. 'Undisputed III' knows exactly what it is. Pure fun and entertainment, and it's full of FREAKIN' KICKASSERY. 

These are just the several sequels that have helped shape me and watching them has always been a memorable experience, whether I have cried watching 'Rocky II', or laughed my ass off during 'Jaws: The Revenge'. Now I told you I went through my collection of movies and found sequels which deserve a mention so here is a list I have compiled for you. I hope you have seen some of these movies and can agree, and if you haven't seen them, get your ass down to the video store. 

  • Halloween III
  • The French Connection II
  • Batman Returns
  • Batman Forever
  • Robocop II
  • Evil Dead II
  • Superman II
  • Superman III
  • Jaws II
  • Aliens
  • Kill Bill Part II
  • Thunderball
  • Licence to Kill
  • The Man with the Golden Gun
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Rugrats in Paris
  • Wrath of Khan
  • Problem Child 2
  • Lethal Weapon 2
  • Rocky III
  • Rocky IV
  • Gremlins : New Batch
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • A Very Brady Sequel
  • Clerks II
  • Karate Kid Part II
  • Karate Kid Part III
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze
  • Jewel of the Nile
  • Infernal Affairs II
  • Expendables 2
  • Rambo II
  • Rambo III
  • King of the Kickboxers II :American Shaolin
  • Wayne's World 2
  • Hot Shots: Part Deux
  • Ghostbusters 2
  • Rush Hour 2
  • Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows
  • Another 48 hours
  • Hannibal
  • Red Dragon
  • Hannibal Rising
  • Home Alone 2 :Lost in New York
  • Grease 2
  • Saw III
  • Kickboxer II: The Road Back
  • Bloodsport II

I hope in this three part series you have grown a little bit more appreciation for the sequels that are out there and rediscovered old favourites as well as branched out and decided you want to watch some of these sequels you haven't seen before. I love these movies for what they are and what they have to offer me in terms of entertainment. I try not to focus on what they didn't give me, because I find that clouds judgement and also makes people narrow minded. Accept the sequels in your life and enjoy some pure fun, your life will be richer for it! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sequels: The Good, The Bad, The Underrated and The Forgotten. Part 2.

You know what I get sick of reading online and in movie magazines? Articles on sequels. You may be thinking, 'Uh Jade you are writing an editorial series on sequels'. And this is true I am, but I am sick of reading about the same sequels in EVERY GOD DAMN COUNTDOWN. I understand that there is certain sequels which will always be seen as 'The Best', but really it's been done too many times now. The articles all just recycle information off one another, and it gets tiring and boring to read. I have always dreamt of reading some of these countdowns and be completely surprised, that someone has thought outside the box. While doing research for this series I realised the best way to do this is to look in my own collection. I have a lot of DVD's, so I decided to look through them all and my god did I find some gems! But as I was looking more and more into my collection it got me thinking. How could so many of these sequels just be forgotten or considered as crap? It made me question humanity and what they think is ACTUALLY good. I think as a group of movie viewers, people tend to concentrate too much on the films which looked to have made more an impact on the film industry financially and socially. Here are some of the forgotten and underrated sequels I came across on my travels, you may not agree with my choices but I believe these films deserve a mention. Remember this is just an opinion, it isn't set in stone.

When I would ever go to the video store with my mum, she was always very cautious with what movies I chose. Not because she wanted to protect me from violence or horror, but she wanted to make sure I would like the film. Sequels were definitely something she didn't like us renting. I would often ask her if we could rent out certain movies like 'The Addams Family Values', but she said I wouldn't like it because it wasn't like the original. Now as a small child, I thought her word was correct, but as a I grew up I would rent these sequels and I would love them. I remember seeing 'The Addams Family Values' on TV for the first time, and I loved it! I didn't see that movie as just another sequel or a run of the mill kids film. I thought it was extremely fun, and had so many memorable lines. I think a lot of people overlook this sequel because they see it as 'just another kids film', and that is so not true. Sure this movie is a lot more light hearted than the original because you see the Addams family really spending time out in the 'real world' with people who we would consider 'normal'. A lot of this film is about the light and the dark, and even though the Addams Family are considered quite gothic, dark and weird, they have a stronger sense of family than most that are portrayed on screen, and that's what is so great about them. I think this picks up perfectly where the first film left off, and it continues to convey the strong yet unique structure of their family and their values. I don't think this is as clever as the original film BUT it is enjoyable and it is a lot of fun. This is the problem nowadays. People don't go into films wanting just pure fun, expectations are far too high not just for sequels but all movies alike.

'The Devil's Rejects' is a film that I had not seen until last year. It was out of print within several years of it's DVD release, so for a while I just hadn't taken much notice of it or bothered to check it out. As soon as I found a copy I had to go home straight away and watch it and GOD DAMN did I love this movie. I really enjoyed 'House of 1000 Corpses', and it actually scared me at times. I guess I was a little scared of watching the sequel 'The Devil's Rejects', but it was totally different. Sure you could classify it as a horror film, but it had a real 1970's exploitation vibe about it. I found it to be more grimy, seedy and just vile, and that was just made it more exciting. It did have some scare factors into it, but I just found it was more violent and a lot of fun to watch. I would have to say this is by far better than 'House of 1000 Corpses'. It's great to see the characters get reprised, but you actually get to find out a lot more about them, and what makes them do what they do. I have spoken to a few people about 'The Devil's Rejects' and they don't think it's a sequel...Now I just find that a tad bit odd. Sure it doesn't have the same name as 'House of 1000 Corpses' and it isn't a 'traditional' carry on for a sequel, but you have all the original characters picking up where they left off...Maybe people are just a bit stupid, either way 'The Devil's Rejects'  is hands down one of the best horror movie sequels I have seen. I find that people do forget about this movie, because they either don't see it as a sequel or they just didn't like it and didn't find anything memorable about it. Which is a shame, because it is Rob Zombie's best work in terms of his movies.

I can feel the hate that will ensue as soon as I mention the next film...'Piranha II: The Spawning'. This is hands down my favourite of all the Piranha movies. Why? It is just so god damn funny, violent, awkward and the biggest selling point for me is that the FREAKIN' PIRANHA'S FLY! Imagine that piranhas flying...the day great white sharks can do that, is the day we are all DEAD. I am surprised no one has made a film called 'Great White: Shit, these sharks can fly'. If anyone is reading this out there, lets come together and get that film made. I think the opening to this is just pure genius. You have two swimmers who decide to go diving in this sunken ship and they go there to have sex...but little do they know it's a lair for piranhas...yep you guessed it they get chomped on oh so violently, and you can't help but laugh. Has that opening sold it for you? I think this is better than Joe Dante's original 'Piranha' film because it isn't about sexy teens getting killed at a summer camp by piranhas. Don't get me wrong, the story is weak, and the dialogue is a tad bit weird and awkward at times, but it's worth the watch. Why? Lance Henriksen. Nuff said. James 'AVATAR' Cameron directed this film, and I am pretty sure he sees this film as trash, but I believe he shouldn't disregard this film because it doesn't live up to any major blockbuster that he has made. He should be proud that this film has a massive audience in the 'Creature Feature/Exploitation' genres, and we appreciate it for the charm that it has. Don't ever deprive yourself of extremely 'shlocky' sequels. They make the world go round.

You can imagine my excitement when I found 'Desperado' in my collection. It dawned on me, it is a freakin' underrated and KICKASS sequel. This is another film, I haven't really seen on too many 'best sequel' countdowns. I think it's another film which has been forgotten, and I believe most people thing it's the original and that 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' is the sequel. I would definitely say it is the case in Australia, since 'El Mariachi' isn't available on DVD, the only way it is available is in a Robert Rodriguez Blu Ray box set. When I worked as a DVD manager, and we sold the El Mariachi trilogy, a lot of people didn't believe that 'El Mariachi' was ACTUALLY the first film, everyone thought 'Desperado' was.  I would have to say I do indeed prefer 'Desperado' over 'El Mariachi', because I believe Antonio Banderas did bring a lot more depth and badassery to the character. I love the fact that while in some ways the film is very sleek it also pays great homage to B grade movies and Westerns. This is definitely a film you need to watch while drinking some smooth whiskey and eating some chicken. I think it's the only way to really enjoy it. There isn't a single boring scene in this film, it is just violence, with a touch of comedy thrown in for good measure and let's face it, you see Banderas playing the guitar and singing...I think that adds a touch of class to the movie. I think overall 'Desperado' is a very gritty yet sophisticated action/ western movie, and not many films of those kind of genres have been able to capture what this film did since.

I have found that with comedies, you can have exceptionally good sequels, or really bad ones which just fall flat on their ass. A sequel which I have found not many people like is 'City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold'. The original did very well at the box office and came out to really awesome reviews, however the sequel didn't do so well. I have always found that to be extremely surprising, because it is really funny. I think the 'brotherly love' between Billy Crystal and Jon Lovitz is just amazing, because their personalities in the film are so different, but the comedic timing between them bounces off one another extremely well. I love the adventure they go on to try and track down Curly's Gold, because something always goes wrong, some may say certain scenes were for a cheap laugh, but what is wrong with a cheap laugh? Sometimes I feel you need to be able to imagine yourself in the characters position and then you start to find it a lot funnier. Either way, this film has great comedic timing, it has really awesome  and memorable characters; my favourite being Jon Lovitz. This also has a lot of charm, and its fun. Adventure films don't need to have a serious tone to them like 'Indiana Jones' for it to be entertaining.

I know 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' is a fairly recent film, but HOLY SHIT IT IS FREAKIN' AWESOME! I was absolutely heartbroken that this film was only getting played in two cinemas in ALL of Australia. Which of course were not played in Perth, where I live. This is a perfect example of action movie sequels which again get put on the back burner and go straight to DVD. I understand why they do it, but when you have a film like this, with a tonne of buzz surrounding it, why not just give it a couple of weeks of playing time in cinemas nation wide? I believe playing this at more cinemas world wide would have given it more recognition, and I am scared that this will be seen as just another sequel which get's lost in the midst and soon it will be put in the bargain bin that no one looks at. This film has it all. If you want a kickass action film, don't look any further. I won't lie this is more of a Scott Adkins film than it is a Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren film. While they do reprise their roles, Adkins is very much in the drivers seat and man so he should be. He is such a great actor and an amazingly talented martial artist. All the way through watching this I just couldn't take my eyes off him. He possesses a depth that Stallone does in his films, and that is what grabs me about him. I think given the chance he could be extremely versatile and can prove a lot of narrow minded, action hating critics wrong. You all need to see this film because it has some BRUTAL action scenes, the storyline is easy to follow, it's all about revenge and who doesn't love a good revenge story? It's very straight to the point, it doesn't try to be the original 'Universal Soldier', it stands on it's own.

I am so not done with Sequel series just yet. These are definitely sequels which I have found have been over looked for actually being sequels, and just forgotten and not seen as 'worthy' of a movie magazine 'best sequels' countdown. Either way I will be back for the third and final instalment of this series, which will contain some of my favourite sequels as well as honourable mentions. Now I think you all need to take a trip to the video store, rent some of these movies and buy some Cherry Coke and have a KICKASS SEQUEL BONANZA WEEKEND! 

Sequels: The Good, The Bad, The Underrated and The Forgotten. Part 1

Why are sequels seen as bad? Why the stigma? Why are they made? In other cases why are they not? What are some of the greatest sequels? And why do people decide that one crappy film in a franchise of awesomeness, all of a sudden wrecks all the credibility of the previous films? I ask these questions a lot. I love to know why people get their panties in a twist when sequels don’t do as well as the original film in the specific franchise. Why do people act all shocked and betrayed because it didn’t live up to THEIR hype that they created in their head? There is a hell of a lot to cover with sequels, so this will be split into a series of articles. Just sit back, grab yourself a Cherry Coke and enjoy.

Going to the video store as a child always made me happy. It was the one place I felt I could hear myself think clearly. I used to love looking at all the VHS covers, especially the Exploitation, and Action genres. But another type of film I have gravitated towards is sequels. I LOVE sequels. If I love a movie that much, and I believe a sequel is warranted, then I try to telepathically contact the director and tell him to make a killer sequel. And sometimes it happens, but not from my mind controlling ways, but because the fans out there demand it. If you make a tonne of money off a film which is critically acclaimed, as well as making big bucks selling merchandise, why the hell wouldn’t you make a sequel? But how do you recapture that cinematic gold? Truth is, it’s incredibly hard to do so. Why? Because you got big studio executives breathing down your neck, pushing you to write your new script faster, so you start shooting ASAP. This where it goes down hill. I can only imagine how much you would have to rush to get another sequel onto the big screen, just so you can make more money for the big wigs sitting in a boardroom. There is two ways things can go down from there…Firstly you make a tonne of money from the sequel but it is scathed by critics and your everyday film goer, so this in turn makes people sceptical IF another sequel is made. OR the film can crash and burn completely and the franchise will be dead, and no one will touch it for quite a few years and it will be a brunt of pop culture jokes for a long time.

 When a sequel crashes and burns, why do people just separate themselves completely from a franchise they ACTUALLY loved? That never made sense to me. The perfect example of that is the original Batman franchise which was started by Tim Burton. In both ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’, Burton understood the characters, the setting, the dialogue and the story. He brought together such unusual elements of his own creative psyche and mixed them in a snow globe with the history of Batman and we got the dark masterpiece that we had been looking for. ‘Batman Returns’, was a success but was given not so nice reviews from critics. It was seen as too dark for the kiddies, and they feared it wouldn’t sell as much merchandise for them as its predecessor. Apparently making a tonne of money from the merchandise is a lot more important than the integrity of the film.  And in comes Joel Schumacher…I know what you are thinking; ‘He put nipples on the Bat suit’. Who cares really? ‘Batman Forever’ is still one of my favourite films. It is a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t have much of strong story in some of the parts, it has heart. And it does remind me a lot of the 1950′s era of the comics. That was a time in the comic book era where it was more ‘campy but with an edge’ and that is what ‘Batman Forever’ has. Not so campy as ‘POW’, ‘ZAP’ and ‘WHAM’, and not as dark and edgy as the previous Tim Burton films. It was a good mixture because it has a true comic book feel. A world like no other. Just because you have a comic book movie doesn’t mean it needs to be serious all the way through. Comic books in general are fun, so have fun with a comic book movie. ‘Batman and Robin’ was the film that to this day seems to be the ‘face’ of the franchise. It isn’t a great film at all. To be honest, it’s quite bad, but I do get enjoyment out of it. There are many reasons why people hate that film, and that is their opinion, but don’t let pop culture and EVERYONE ELSE’S OPINION cloud your own judgement. Don’t let one film wreck an entire franchise. If you were to say that this original Batman franchise is better than Nolan’s trilogy I can guarantee the first thing everyone would say is this ‘Batman and Robin was so bad, there was nipples on the bat suit, it was just silly’. But they never ever mention the other three films…funny that.

It is a real shame that people just don’t take sequels seriously. There is only a couple of groups of cinema goers who appreciate sequels even if they are not as good as the original. Those people are die hard fans of, Sci-Fi, Action, Exploitation, Spaghetti Westerns and of course HORROR! How many horror film sequels have their been in the history of film? Hundreds! Die Hard horror fans, find excitement and awesomeness in the way the practical FX are done, the creativity of the plot and of course they want to see people get hacked into. Obviously with sequels it is hard to get the same scares out of an audience that was managed in a previous films. As an audience, they prepare themselves, because they don’t trust the film maker, but deep down they do like to be scared. Horror film sequels do tend to cop a lot of the flack. They are usually reviewed badly by people who have zero interest in the genre or they just don’t understand the genre and don’t acknowledge what the director was trying to do with the film. Sure it does get a little repetitive when the same killer comes back from the dead and want’s even more revenge and carnage. But if you look past that it is a tonne things you can enjoy with sequels like that. Don’t be ashamed to say you like those kind of films, there is nothing wrong with it.

I have grown up a lot in the past few years in terms of my movie taste. I have become a lot more accepting of other genres and other films, and I can now see films for the tiny charms that they possess. Not every film is a masterpiece, and not ever film is going to win awards or critical acclaim, but that doesn’t make the film any less relevant to the industry. This is what people need to start to realise. You cannot watch a film like ‘Predator 2′ and compare it to the likes of ‘Rain Man’, because they are too different films and two completely different genres. I would have to say majority of cinema goers find that sequels have ‘hurt’ their movie senses too many times, and that is fair because there are a lot of terrible sequels made. HOWEVER, don’t just assume a sequel is going to be bad just because it’s a sequel. And more importantly don’t just listen to a reviewer and think their opinion is ‘scripture’, because it isn’t. I see reviewers, paid and unpaid, as a guide. They have their opinion, they will either tell you how the film made them feel or what they liked and disliked, but that isn’t your opinion. Broaden those damn horizons and watch what you feel could be entertaining, and that goes for sequels. If you want another mind numbing action sequel with a tonne of explosions and cheesy one liners and buff men, then go see it and enjoy the hell out of it.

Sequels are made because you wanted it. After you saw ‘The Avengers’, don’t tell me you weren’t pumped up at the possibility of a sequel. Because EVERYONE felt the same. But what if the sequel to ‘The Avengers’ doesn’t live up to your expectation? What then? Will you write off the franchise and say it wasn’t imaginative or that it was turning into a ‘Transformers-esque’ type of film? Sequels are made because studios know they have potential to make them a lot of money, and also because the fans want one. Sequels should be embraced, and respected in a lot of cases. Why? Because they are trying to recapture the greatness of the original and to do that, a lot of effort has to be put in, even if the studio wants it to be rushed. They have a great weight on their shoulders, so cut them some damn slack. There are a lot of great sequels out there and I don’t just mean ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ or ‘Godfather Part II’; there is a lot of forgotten ones too. Some choose to be forgotten, and some just get lost in the midst of the competition and don’t get recognised. I could go on about how much more awesome ‘Back to the Future Part II’ is, but it’s been done, so let’s try something different. In the next few articles I am going to explore sequels which have been forgotten, classified as ‘crap’ and personal favourites of mine.

This article was just scratching the surface. I just want everyone to know how important sequels are to the film industry, whether movie snobs like it or not. They have their place, and they should be given a lot more credit. I am not saying that sequels are the best thing since Cherry Coke, but they cop a lot of flack because of ignorant movie viewers, pop culture and stupid Facebook groups. Open your eyes and your heart to sequels and just let them take you on a ride. Even if it’s so bad it’s good, don’t deny yourself of that pleasure.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fabio Testi's Big Four! This Week...REVOLVER!!!

Every now and then, I'll be scanning my DVD collection like a cyborg, trying to find a movie that has everything I am in the mood for. This usually means a movie with copious amounts of graphic violence, car chases, sex scenes, horror elements, intense toughened bastards who slap people back and forth, yelling, cool music, shotgun blasts, drama, excitement, evil bad guys, revenge, and high adventure.

So I'll generally stop scanning once I hit the Italian section of my DVD shelves. And i'll either chuck on some Franco Nero, or Ill chuck on some Fabio Testi, If i'm not in the mood for Italian, I'll chuck on some Oliver Reed or James Woods.
So Franco's got his stamp on the westerns, and dare I say, made a better gunslinger out of Keoma and Django that any of his American counterparts.
Fabio, like Luc Merenda and Tomas Milian, has got his mark on the hardened Italian crime thrillers, otherwise known as Poliziotteschi.

Speaking of which, heres Tomas Milian, just for the fuck of it.One day I'll do a big four about him.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to hit you guys up with Fabio Testi's BIG FOUR. That is, his best four films in the Poliziotteschi genre. Revolver, Contraband, The Heroin Busters, and The Big Racket.

So, Revolver ey? Whats it all about? Well I'll tell you.
Vito, a gruff prison warden (Oliver Reed) comes home to find his beloved wife has been kidnapped. In order to get her back unharmed, the warden must break Milo Ruiz, a petty criminal (Fabio Testi) out of jail and deliver him to the kidnappers. But it's not that easy. Vito is constantly tricked and set up, with his wife becoming further away with each progressive step. He finds that he is not only at risk of losing his wife, but he is also at the risk of losing his very mind.

Sergio Sollima (the director) made an interesting comment about the film in the mini-documentary on the DVD. He mentioned that he doesn't consider the film to be anything but a drama about two people, with crime, and thriller elements surrounding them.
He, of course, is right. As the movie goes on, you travel across europe with a macarbe version of the odd couple. You end up being more invested in how they are going to deal with each other, rather than how Vito is going to deal with finding his wife. This is kind of the point. Without spoiling anything, the seemingly abrupt ending with leave you with a short case of the 'hey, hang on what does it all means', but after that passes, the clouds part and complete clarity shines its pretty little way through.

The movie is pumped along by Ennio Morricone, who once again delivers a wicked pulse shattering score, which some of you Inglourious Basterds fans may recognise instantly.

I have to mention aswell that Fabio Testi has some awesome shirts in this film.

Seriously, he looks like Robin Hood.

Anyway, how the hell can you pass this film up? It's got Oliver Reed pointing, yelling and threatening people (which is mind bogglingly awesome, considering he's english, playing an italian prison warden, with an American accent which slips when he gets angry), he beats people up, he slaps them around, gut punches Fabio a number of times (and from what i can tell, it seems like he was drunk enough to land a few on some of the actors for real) and just all round kicks all kinds of ass.
It's got all of the things I mentioned at the beginning of the article, minus the horror element, but that depends on what you class as horror.

What may come across as a wild unorganised shenanigan at the start of the film, slowly but surely becomes a tightly woven and intricate shenanigan by the end of it, and I'll guarantee you that long after the movie ends, it will fill your thoughts. There aren't any 'bad guys', or 'good guys' in this film, just 'guys' with a shitty moral compass.
You gotta watch it. Lest you want Oliver Reed pointing at you.

I have put the trailer below for you to watch its got that familiar music in it, and may be a bit spoilery, but you will forget that when you are watching the film! Turn it up and enjoy!

See you next week with CONTRABAND (AKA: THE NAPLES CONNECTION) In the meantime, what's your favorite Fabio Testi film? Comment below!

The Secret of the Sword = A Childhood Classic.

If there is one thing that I love, it’s cartoons. I was a kid who grew up watching cartoons til the VHS tape stopped working. Animated features in the 1980’s were just on a completely different planet to what anything else had been previous made, or anything that has been made since. I grew up loving He-Man and She-Ra, especially since my older brother and I used to think that we actually were them…Don’t act as if you didn't do that either. ‘The Secret of the Sword’ was an animated feature that introduced She-Ra to the Masters of the Universe franchise, and what an introduction it was. There was so many awesome elements that this film possesses, and a lot of great and meaningful themes. I found there was a lot of scary animated kids films of the 1980’s but this was not one of them. While there are themes of war incorporated into ‘The Secret of the Sword’, it is not something that is conveyed harshly to the point it would scare a child. The memorable characters, quotes and the bright colours and out of this world settings just added to the excitement and adventure of the film. And that is what kids want. 

It’s run down time.  Adam has been given a sword from the Sorceress and has to travel to Etheria to give the sword to the special someone that it belongs too.  When he is captured by Force Captain Adora, it has become more apparent that she is the one the sword belongs to, oh and get this, Adora is Adam’s sister. She then realises she is to become She-Ra. Once she realises the great responsibility of being She-Ra she knows it is time to free all the people of Etheria from Hordak’s evil clutches. Yeah she gets all girl power on his ass! There is a lot that can be said about the plot because there are several sub plots. Watching the film isn't confusing, if I was to try and explain all the sub plots I think I would confuse the hell out of all of you, including myself. 

You would think an animated film involving He-Man and She-Ra wouldn't have any depth to it right? I mean has it been a while for you, in regards to actually watching these guys? It has hasn't it? Well either way, ‘The Secret of the Sword’ has a great deal of depth when it comes to the themes that it represents. One of the themes is the sense of family. Whether you are actually related to people who you consider family or not, is your own matter, the important thing is how much you treasure and love them. I think it is really beautiful seeing the great friendships developed throughout the film, and seeing how all the characters interact with one another. You may think I am reading into a kids cartoon too much, but I think its real sweet. I love seeing how much Bow and Glimmer respect and love one another, and they would do pretty much anything for one another, I think it’s incredibly sweet.  I think it’s incredibly soulful seeing how attached Adam and Adora are so quickly in finding out they are brother and sister. It as if they have known each other their whole lives, and has built a strong connection over all those years, but they have only known each other a few days. You can see they respect and love each other regardless of the actual time frame of knowing each other. 

Now you can judge me all you want right now when I say this…I love the hell out of the theme song. It is so damn cheerful and just makes me want to dress like Glimmer and go to an 1980’s disco in Etheria…SURELY they would have one right? I also love the lyrics, because they represent everything that Adam and Adora are going through with finding out who they are and what they are searching for. The song SCREAMS 1980’s but it has a cheesiness charm about it, so look at the link below and reminisce…

The reviews from the critics were pretty positive about this film, but they have said it is quite complicated. I can see where they are coming from because there are just a couple of sub-plots that don't really need to be there, and at times you may think, ‘well what was the point of that?’ As a kid I didn't think that, but as I have gotten older I have thought it may be a bit too long or it strays away from the main storyline of the film. But having said that, you realise how much goes on in Etheria and Eternia, and in some respect some of the sub-plots are important and unique in their own way. I think as a kid you view the film as just a tonne of adventures that all intertwine. And at the end of the day if it entertains kids, I really don’t see too much of a problem with the sub-plots  I think maybe it caused some confusion because I am pretty sure this was meant to be several episodes but they just decided to put it all together in film format. It probably didn't seem as confusing in the stand alone episodes compared to the full film. Maybe that shed some light on the matter. 

I love how you can really differentiate between good and evil. As much as I love He-Man and the gang, I just can’t help but dig Hordak and Skeletor. I wish Skeletor had a bigger role in this film, but I understand why he didn't  Either way, both are just as deliciously evil as the other. I just think being on the evil side of the fence would be hell interesting, especially for Hordak, I think if they made and R18 version of ‘Secret of the Sword’ he would be on BRUTAL mofo. I could just imagine him having some severe form of torture, as would Skeletor, because let’s face it, there is no one more EVILER than Skeletor(Yeah I don't think that Eviler is actually a word, but it's my blog and I will use it god dammit) . But then if I was on the good side of the fence I think it would be awesome to KICK THE ABOSOLUTE SHIT out of that good for nothin’ Horde. I could imagine an R18 version of the film being made, they just need to get Zack Snyder and Frank Miller to do something together to make that happen…I’d watch the shit out of that, wouldn't you? 

This film is very much so a She-Ra film, He-Man still does kick a lot of asses, when he isn't off being kidnapped or getting caught by the Horde. He just seems to make everything happen in this film. While She-Ra is trying to work out what to do while he life just turns upside down, he orchestrates everything so that when she decides what she wants to do, he makes it easier for her. What a good brother right?

I think the villains are superbly done, because they are so god damn ‘out there’. They have so much individuality and just the way they act and talk and interact with others, makes me laugh especially Scorpia. I am not sure why, but ever since I was little I always associated her with Brigette Nielsen…Is that wrong of me? Am I a little bit weird and crazy for comparing the two? Either way I hope someone out there agrees with me. 

This is definitely an animation film, which is deeply embedded into my childhood psyche, and it will never leave. 'The Secret of the Sword' was constantly played in our house, to the point that after not watching it for many years, I could still remember pretty much every single quote and all the lyrics to the opening song. It's awesome how we can find some pure animation classic films out there and just watch them to the point that they will never leave us. There are some tremendously creative and giving people out there that made 'The Secret of the Sword', and I am glad they went that extra mile into making it something unique. You can see the time and love which went into creating the story, and they really did cook up something special, and if you were a huge fan of the He-Man and She-Ra franchises, just about everyone went crazy over this film. I am just truly happy that this film is still fresh today, regardless of how many times I have watched it. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Have They Done To Your Daughters?

I love when genres collide. I love when two or more genres come together and create something special and unique. This makes the viewer intrigued, keeps them guessing, leaves them on the edge of their seat, makes them want more. I love when film makers create something like this and it makes the audience want to branch out more and find more films like it. It’s all about expanding ones horizons. And the film ‘What Have They Done to Your Daughters?’ does just that.  I would say that this film is a combination of Giallo and Poliziotteschi/Poliziottesco. If you are unsure of what either of these genres are I will quickly explain.  Giallo is Italian Horror mixed with mystery, thriller and suspense’ so it isn’t just splatter. Giallo has a lot of elements that make it far more intense than a lot of other genres.  Poliziotteschi is Italian Cop thrillers and dramas. They are quite gritty and in a lot of circumstances real seedy. If you put Giallo and Poliziotteschi in a mixing bowl of creativeness and you mix them up real good you will find yourself with tasty awesomeness and sophistication. And that awesome and sophistication does not go astray in ‘What Have They Done to Your Daughters?’

Here is the quick run-down. A teenage girl has been found dead, hanging in an apartment, and obviously it is seen as suicide. After a little more digging has been done into this investigation of the girl who was found dead, it has been revealed she was involved in an under-age prostitute ring. Pretty heavy stuff right? Now it is up to the police to uncover other girls involved in this ring before anyone else is murdered. There are a lot of twists along the way and it will keep you guessing with what they will uncover, I even felt like I was in detective mode while watching this.

I really do enjoy the opening musical score which is used throughout this film. It does come across as care free especially when you see it playing on screen where there is teenage girls laughing and being happy. But like a lot of Italian cinema I find that the score may be quite light hearted but the undertone is quite serious as well. I think it is a very simple score, and the best musical scores often are.  I noticed throughout this film, that while it was light hearted, if things were about to get serious and downright REAL then the music would just explode with intensity, but so simply. That is the kind of the thing a musical score should have especially in a Giallo/Poliziotteschi crossover.  Here is the opening music, have a listen so you can understand what I mean. Stelvio Cipriani did an amazing job in capturing the emotion of this film so simply. 

Giovanni Ralli plays the assistant district attorney, and she is helping out on the case in trying to find out about the under-age prostitute ring. She has balls of steel, no question about it, but while she may have a lot of strength in her character she also has a softer and sensitive side, a side she doesn’t like people seeing. The case she is helping tackle is an intense and a heavy one at that, but she tries her hardest to not let it affect her. She just wants to get in there and do the hard work and get results. As beautiful as she may appear, she is just as gritty as her male counterparts. Ralli is incredibly talented and beautiful and she was perfectly cast. And it is always refreshing to see a strong female in a role where she is not naked or getting her limbs hacked off. 

The stand out performance for me was from Claudio Cassinelli. He was a badass detective who really didn't care for anyone else’s rules, just his own. He is so deep into this case; he is willing to rattle a few cages.  I enjoyed his performance because no matter how bleak the case looked at some points, he never gave up; he wanted to catch everyone involved in this crime, but his own way. I absolutely loved how he would not show his emotions and just demand the GOD DAMN answers that he was looking for…and he got them. I also liked the car chase he was involved in, I am a huge fan of car chases and the fact that this guy just didn't give up. Nothing gets in Cassinelli’s way when he is on screen, he was just in a league of his own and really had a strong presence. Whenever I saw him on screen, I just couldn't take my eyes off him, and him. I was constantly trying to work out what he was thinking whenever I looked into his eyes. Unfortunately Claudio Cassinelli died in a helicopter crash while filming Sergio Martino’s ‘Hands of Steel’.  

The story of the under-age prostitution ring is like I previously stated a heavy issue. And this issue could have come across as incredibly seedy but in an exploitation film kind of way, and it wouldn't have the same effect. It is very seedy but the kind of seedy that makes your skin crawl. When you hear the tapes that the detectives have to listen to, it will just make you shudder in complete disgust. It is extremely full on and it made me feel very unsettling. I don’t think you need to be a woman to find this uncomfortable. If you invest the same amount of time and emotion into watching this film, I think it will affect a man just as much. When I was listening to what was on the tapes, I wanted to block my ears so much. It wasn’t so much as what is said, but how it is said, and the voice just makes my skin crawl and I felt extremely uncomfortable. It was as if I was in the same room as these victims. If a film can make you feel that level of intensity inside yourself, you know the director has done a fine job.

I really enjoyed this film because of the way they tackled such a serious subject without coming across as too damn serious that its depressing but not light hearted that you would laugh at it. This isn't light hearted at all but having said that there are moments where the film just lets you breathe, and you can take it all in, at your own pace. And that is an extremely clever way to convey such strong, dark emotion, and director Massimo Dallamano just nailed it perfectly. I think you all need to see this especially if you haven’t explored much Giallo or Poliziotteschi films, you should definitely start with this, because you will see how both genres are done and how they complement each other extremely well. And then hopefully you will branch off into discovering wonderful films, which you never thought would even exist. This is the beauty with these two genres, there is so much to play with and so much you could convey and explore that they just make any idea you have in your head possible. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

West Side Story = My Favourite Musical!

There is nothing more beautiful, than experiencing love at first sight. It is something I never believed could happen until I saw, ‘West Side Story’. I discovered this musical when I was fifteen years old and it opened my mind, in terms of how a musical can really dig out all your emotions and make you feel. I always loved Shakespeare’s story of, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, it was beautiful, heartbreaking and the end left you wanting good to come out of it. But it was not meant to be. What is great about doing an adaptation of a classic play and putting it into a mix of modern day life, is that there are so many avenues you could take. And that is what was perfectly done with ‘West Side Story’.

The prologue grabs your attention instantly. Here you have two different groups of men, both in race, colour, and values. They both want to fight for their turf, and you can see all their emotion behind this longing. And that emotion comes through their movement, every dance step is a feeling, a yearning. And you can see it boil over their skin. The most noticeable performance in the epilogue goes to George Chakiris who plays Bernardo. That is how a real man conveys his feeling through dance. He was so elegant and strong, and watching him dance in several scenes, is just a treat for your eyes and for your soul. Here is the prologue, cannot tell you how much I love this. 

The love between Tony and Maria is pure, because they don’t see each other’s past, or race, they only see one another. All those other variables that matters to The Jets and The Sharks do not matter to Tony and Maria. And that is what love’s about, accepting this lovely person in front of you for who they are. As much as I do enjoy the love story between Tony and Maria, there were times where I believe Tony should have been more subtle about the love. But at the same time I could see why he was so vocal about being in love, because this was what he was waiting for, he wanted to share his happiness with the world, and who could blame him? Maria may be young and slightly naive  she listens to her heart, and she cannot deny her love for someone, who her family and friends will dislike on the basis of their culture. Maria knows nothing of being unkind, spiteful or hateful; these are not actions or emotions that she understands. But at the end of the film, she learns how hateful humanity can be.

The relationship between Bernardo and Anita is just explosive, but in the right way. They are very playful, and are constantly making subtle digs at one another, but their love is electric. While they may not be the core of this film, their relationship proves to be great comedic relief from the seriousness of the film. I find with a great musical, you can always balance drama and comedy very well if you have the right storyline, dialogue and the right actors to portray these characters. George Chakiris and Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actor and Actress titles for 'West Side Story' and deservedly so! I enjoy their relationship because they just bounce off each other very well and their chemistry is extremely strong, anyone would think they would have been a couple outside of this film. 

The musical numbers in ‘West Side Story’ are incredible, and I do not believe any musical has come close to that height of perfection since. There are two music numbers in particular which I find really bring something more to the table. Firstly, you cannot go past ‘America’. The song is quite comedic, because while they are singing of the things that are great and not so great about living in America, they poke fun at themselves. And that comedic streak adds a lot of charm to the scene. The choreography is just out of this world for this scene, and you can see all of the actors making it look easy but truth be told they worked their butts off to get it perfect.  My second favourite musical number is the quintet version of the song ‘Tonight’. It is brilliantly scored, and set out in terms of emotion and what the characters are trying to convey. You have four different point of views, all point of views crave and want something, whether it’s waiting for your love, or waiting for your love of the turf to finally be yours tonight. I also think it adds more depth to the original version of ‘Tonight’ which is previously sang by Tony and Maria in a different scene. Here is the video for the quintet version of 'Tonight'. You will see how really powerful this is. 

Obviously the ending of ‘West Side Story’ is heartbreaking, no matter how many times I have seen it, I cry...A LOT. You must be thinking, ‘You have seen it once, why on earth would you keep crying at something, you know is inevitable?’ It’s the message behind what happens, that is so heartbreaking and it is a big reality check. At the end, everyone has come together and witnessed something terrible, but it’s what all their hate has caused. Nothing good can ever come from hate. For that split second you may feel powerful, and invincible, but hate is ugly and only causes pain around you. Having hate kill purity in such a spiteful manner is woeful.

‘West Side Story’ is a magical piece of cinema, and embodies everything that is perfect about musicals. It has a strong story with a tonne of depth, which is conveyed beautifully by all of the actors. It has out of this world choreography which goes hand in hand perfectly with musical score.  Do not get turned off by musicals, because they hold a lot more emotion than people give them credit for. Music and choreography together may seem ‘camp’ or ‘silly’, but when you have such strong emotion seeping through beautiful choreography, it is hard not to feel something.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My favourite action and martial art movie songs Part 3

Here we the last part of my trip down memory lane...I really hope you have enjoyed the songs I have chosen so far. I also hope they bring back really awesome memories for you. It's pretty kickass when certain movies or songs can make you remember really happy times!

'Breakdown' by Bob Seger - Beverly Hills Cop 2
Were you a little surprised to see this enter so high in my list? It is totally a dark horse and at times a forgotten track but god damn it is so freakin' brilliant, and this sets the tone for the film. You know you are going to be going on a fast ride through it, so just enjoy it! 

'Danger Zone' by Kenny Loggins - Top Gun
All I have to say is this...TOP GUN. Everyone would should love this film and love the song just as much! A Karaoke favourite of mine too! 

'Measure of a Man' by Elton John - Rocky V
Sure this wasn't the most successful of the Rocky movies, but you can't help but love this song, and I think it's awesome seeing all the stills from the previous films in the credits. It makes you want to have a Rocky marathon...well that is how it makes me feel!

'Heart's on Fire' by John Cafferty - Rocky IV
Firstly you are not a man if you do not like this song and this montage. And secondly you are not a true lover of film, if you can't appreciate the heart that this montage possesses. 

'You're the Best Around' by Joe Esposito - Karate Kid
This was a constant motivator for me when I worked at my last job. I was under appreciated for all the hard work I did, so this made me think 'You're the best Around'. It's a great motivator and this song has some amazing and deep meaningful lyrics with a catchy 80's hook! What is not to love? 

'Fight to Survive' by Stan Bush - Bloodsport
This should be in everyone's work out playlist. This is another great motivator for me, if I am ever feeling down or disheartened, this is the song to keep me going, and boy does it get put on repeat..A LOT!

'Streets of Siam' by Stan Bush - Kickboxer
Kickboxer has brought me a lot of great memories growing up. And to this day it is my favourite Van Damme film. It is a real sexy, fire up song.I really can't tell you what I love about this song, but it just puts a huge smile on my face whenever I listen to it. And watching this video makes me want to have a cut off denim jacket like Van Damme.

'Turn the Beat Around' By Gloria Estefan - The Specialist 
Man this song was HUGE when it was re-released for the film, The Specialist. I loved this video clip so much as a kid because it had scenes from the film in it, and I was all about that! It made me want to watch the film more and more. I love this song because it is fast paced and that is how the film is, it's just KILLER EXPLOSION CENTRAL! 

'No Easy Way Out' by Robert Tepper - Rocky IV
This is hands down my favourite of the songs in all of the Rocky movies. It is a great song for reflection. It makes you think of all the things you have gone through and what you have learnt from your experiences. And those elements of thought are conveyed brilliantly in this montage. It really is the heart of Rocky IV.

And here comes number 1...are you wondering what it is? Are you thinking 'Shit Jade has picked all the awesome songs already?' I have one more ace up my sleeve. It is underrated but it is a classic and should be given more recognition as one of the greatest motivational and fire up songs...GET READY

'Moment of Truth' by Survivor - Karate Kid
This song has been with me since I can remember. I always loved watching the Karate Kid and then sitting through the credits, because this is the song that played. It always made me feel awesome inside. As a teenager I was bullied a lot, and this is one of the songs that really got me through everything. It didn't make me feel worthless, it made me feel like I could do anything I wanted. And this is the song that still motivates me not only in working out but also in becoming a successful writer. I really hope you enjoyed my number 1 choice as well as the previous 29! Now do two out to all these songs and then watch the movies!