Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Which I Let Off Some Steam

I caught the end of Commando tonight and it really represents to me what this blog is about. We have a super-jacked up Arnold going against a ridiculous villain (an Australian Village Person in chainmail) in order to save his daughter. The film ends with a fitting 80s butt rock type song that is hard to put into words but aficionados will recognize (I'm sure those with music backgrounds would be better able to explain). I wish action films of today would look at this movie and take some cues, such as not taking themselves (as much as a film can be self-aware) so seriously. I don't mean to say that Arnold and Dan Hedaya goof around in the film, but there is a tongue-in-cheek element of the film that is not present in today's big budget studio masturbations. I mean hell, in a close-up of his daughter after he saves her, it's pretty obvious that Arnold is flexing his pecs, creating a ridiculous juxtaposition.

I also feel like Arnold's foreign status makes his one-liners even more funny. Additionally, his character is named John Matrix, something that good action films of today like Crank mimic (Chev Chelios, in the latter's case).

Rae Dawn Chong is in the film, too, yum.

Monday, January 21, 2008

They Live

Like I said, Encore (Encore Mystery, specifically) totally came through with the meat yesterday, playing John Carpenter's amazing They Live. I actually missed the first 20 minutes of the movie, but it doesn't really matter because when I turned it on the police were terrorizing a homeless shantytown. At one point there was a giant bulldozer just going to town on the cardboard boxes and old junker cars. Jackbooted police were advancing in a line like robots beating down the people and it was all so surreal. Come to think of it, it doesn't sound that outlandish.

By this point I still didn't know what the movie was about (although, I had heard about it so I was waiting for the aliens aspect to come into play), but that didn't bother me because the star of the movie is Rowdy Roddy Piper of WWF fame. They Live is, in fact, one of the first films as far as I know to feature a professional wrestler in a lead role and this movie is the perfect vehicle for a wrestler. Actually, Rowdy Roddy does a pretty good job, which was surprising to say the least. Granted, his role mainly consists of kicking ass and physical stuntwork, but you could really feel the anger and emotion from him. Or at least I will say that to backup my lauding his acting.

Digressing, Rowdy Roddy finds a box full of sunglasses that he carries around the city for a while trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, but managing to be completely indiscrete. After navigating around 45 deserted alleyways, he finally decides on one and opens the box with the gusto of a virgin opening a condom packet. I should mention that these sunglasses are completely and totally rad and only wish that I could find a pair of them in real life. Anyways, dude puts them on and sees that all the signs and advertisements are just subliminal advertising ("STAY ASLEEP", "MARRY AND REPRODUCE", etc.) and that many businesspeople (I believe Encore says "yuppies", a great sign that it was made in the 80s) actually have horribly disgusting alien faces. Roddy stumbles around LA in a daze looking like a drunkard and generally making himself conspicuous to everyone he passes. Eventually he goes into a grocery store and calls out an old lady for being an ugly hag, at which point she talks into her watch-radio thing and lets her fellow aliens know that they have "one that can see."

At this point, the film picks up because Rowdy Roddy is confronted by two cops and he beats the shit out of them and takes their weapons. He heads to a bank (yes, a place where there would be no upper middle class people) and proceeds to deposit lead into many aliens' bodily checking accounts. Oh, also, one of the best lines is uttered here: "I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass..and I'm all out of bubblegum." There is a sort of poetic genius to it, don't you think. At some point Roddy gets into a car with a woman and makes her drive him to her home in the hills of LA (that should've been a red flag, Roddy, you moron). He kind of demands that she puts the sunglasses on but she refuses (what the fuck?) so he goes to turn on the tv or something and she decides the appropriate course of action is to hit him int he head with a wine bottle and defenstrate him 3 stories up. It's all very sudden and hilarious, a pretty defining point in the film. How's THAT for women's liberation, Mr. Wrestler?

Some other stuff happens and then he meets up with the immaculate Keith David (of Marked For Death fame, the totally sweet Seagal flick set in Jamaica), who he also attempts to convince to wear the sunglasses. This is met with repeated refusals by Keith David and eventually leads to one of the coolest fight scenes I've ever seen. The two get into an all out street brawl for literally like 5 minutes. Many times you think it is over and they will shake hands, but no, it keeps going. And all of this because some motherfuckers wouldn't want to put on some sunglasses. Hell, I would've worn them regardless of anyone asking because they look so sweet. Lesson here: Always wear sunglasses when asked, especially by a large wrestler.

After seeing the truth, the two of them set out to kill all the aliens. They come into contact with a resistance group and are invited to a meeting. Acting as a guard for this meeting is a Latino-looking Hell's Angel facsimile. He was incredibly nice, leading me to believe they don't know anything about those type of people. Anyways, the meeting is eventually raided by the cops (I should mention that the woman who knocked Rowdy Roddy the fuck out earlier was there, leading me to believe she is a plant) and there are a bunch of violent shooting deaths and grenades exploding indoors (good idea, guys). Keith and Roddy escape and head underground to escape but find themselves in a labyrinth of alien hallways, one of which leads to a ballroom where there is a reception going on. Of course, everyone is dressed in tuxes and they are standing there, acting like nothing is weird, in their consruction outfits. No one really says anything either. They're given a grand tour which at one point involves going to an underground spaceport, complete with outerspace being a couple feet away from them.

Eventually they get to the tv station where the aliens broadcast their brainwashing signal (subtle message there) and they realize they need to destroy the satellite dish. When they are asked for id, they say that they have it right here, but pull out their guns instead, which is completely solid. I won't spoil what happens, but the last shot of Rowdy Roddy flipping the bird to the aliens is hilarious and the actual ending is even more insane as it involves a naked woman riding an alien for some reason.

Best quote from the film: "Brother, life's a bitch and she's back in heat."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Incredible Muscles

I've noticed that there is an incredible lack of low-budget, B-movie action blogs. I hope to remedy this problem with this blog. I will probably get lazy, though, and erratically update this weblog. Apparently the word "blog" is an acceptable spelling but "weblog" is not. Just more evidence of the influence Big Blogging has on the Internet. Anyways, I'll watch Encore and Starz tomorrow and I'm sure something of interest will come on; if not, I'll pop in Kickboxer and write about how awesome it is.