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Having my gall bladder out was no picnic, but on the plus side, I got shot up with lots of morphine and Percocet. so that was a good thing.  After a night of vomiting, severe pain, and little sleep, I was finally released from the hospital.  Now that I’m home convalescing in bed with the power of Percocet at my side, there’s not a whole lot that I can do; except watch movies in between my mini drug induced comas.  Because I’ve got about ten Christopher Lambert movies on my “To Be Watched” shelf, I figured now was the perfect time to have a Lambert-A-Thon. 


Now this is my first attempt to write reviews on controlled substances.  I would never condone drug use, but under the circumstances, the drugs and the movie reviews go hand-in-hand.  I don’t know how Hunter S. Thompson did it, but it’s kinda hard to transcribe and report when you’re high as a kite.  I’ll do my best though, so forgive me if some of the reviews make little to no sense.


The medicine can only do so much to cure me though.  What I’m really interested in is the healing power of Christopher Lambert.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first half of his first name is Christ.  If he can’t heal me, no one can.


Our first film in the Lambert-A-Thon is…




You know Greystoke:  The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes is going to be an artsy-fartsy affair just by looking at the title.  It’s one of the lengthiest gaudiest titles ever.  Your second tip-off that this is going to be a major snoozer is that it begins with an Overture of the film’s score before the movie begins.  The clincher is that it was directed by Hugh Hudson, the Oscar winning helmer of Chariots of Fire.  I had hope that Hudson would make this a winner.  After all, he’s the man who gave us that HI-larious Revolution movie where Al Pacino went around colonial times talking like a 20th century Noo Yawker.  (“We WUZ bringing FUHHS up the RIV-AH!”)  Alas, there is nothing in Greystoke approaching that level of unintended hilariousness.  Instead what we have is one big boring epic mess that will likely infuriate any hardcore Tarzan fan and confound any regular moviegoer.


A boat crashes (off screen, to save money) on a jungle island.  A baby survives the wreck and is raised by apes.  The kid grows up to be a wild child that can imitate all the animals in the jungle.  An explorer (Ian Holm) later travels to the jungle and finds the now grown ape man (Christopher Lambert) and teaches him to speak, dresses him in some clothes, and tries to civilize him.  They eventually return to the ape man’s home of Greystoke, a lush Scotland estate ran by his grandfather (Sir Ralph Richardson, The Crypt Keeper from the original Tales from the Crypt) where he learns his real name is John.  John’s grandfather shows him off to all his high society friends who take to him politely, even though he spends most of dinner making animal noises.  He also attracts the attention of Jane (Andie MacDowell) and that gets her boyfriend all kinds of pissed.  After the old dude dies and the boyfriend kills John’s ape daddy, John says “fuck this noise” (he actually says “ROOOAAARRR”) and goes back to the jungle.


This is by far the most “respectable” Lambert movie in the marathon.  It was even nominated for Oscars and shit.  It also happens to be one of the worst.


The big reason Greystoke is such a wash-out is Hudson’s woeful mishandling of the material.  I mean Tarzan is at heart, a pulp hero but Hudson treats the material like he’s making a movie about Gandhi or something.  By giving the character the somber treatment, it takes away the fun. 


Hudson also spends way too much time on the Tarzan’s origins.  He dwells an awful long time on the scenes where the young Tarzan says his first ape words, takes his first steps, and swings on a vine.  My guess is that Hudson was going for the whole Superman vibe on the early scenes.  Imagine the Krypton scenes mixed with the Dawn of Man segment from 2001 and that will give you some idea what to expect… except it’s boring as balls.


This might be OK for some people but for someone who’s recovering from surgery that’s hopped on Percocet, all of this was a bit of a chore to sit through.  These monkeying around scenes went on way too long for me.  I think it worked best in those early Tarzan movies in the 30’s where they just showed a baby in a basket surrounded by apes and then a title card said “20 years later”.  (I can’t remember specifically which Tarzan film that was because I’m too high on Percocet to look it up.)  The only thing this segment has going for it is the excellent Rick Baker ape make-up.


After almost 45 minutes of ape shit, Christopher Lambert finally decides to show up.  It’s as if the healing powers of Lambert were on a time release or something.  Percocet kicks in quicker than that.


The movie picks up somewhat when Ian Holm arrives to teach Lambert how to act like a man.  (There’s a good scene Tarzan sets a bar on fire.)  Unfortunately, once the action switches over to the Greystoke estate, things get deadly dull again.


And is it just me, or isn’t the thing that everyone responds to most in the Tarzan legend is his relationship with Jane?  The love story between Tarzan and Jane should’ve been the movie’s main focus but the filmmakers manage to screw that up too.  Not only does it take Jane forever to show up (nearly an hour and a half into the flick), but once she finally does, Lambert and MacDowell (whose country accent had to be dubbed over by Glenn Close) have zero chemistry together.  We never believe her love for him and it seems like they only make out because the plot required a love scene.


And say what you will about Bo Derek’s Tarzan movie, but at least that one actually felt like a Tarzan flick.  Seriously, in Greystoke, we never once see Lambert swing from vines or yell the patented “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH” Tarzan roar.  In fact, no one ever once calls him “TARZAN”!!!  WHAT.  THE.  FUCK.


The movie was even so bad that screenwriter Robert (Chinatown, Days of Thunder, a couple other classics) Towne took his name off the picture and gave his dog the screenwriter credit.  And here’s the kicker folks, the DOG got nominated for an Oscar.  Seriously, in a year that gave us Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Temple of Doom, THIS gets a screenplay nomination?


Lambert is solid in the flick, but the movie he inhabits doesn’t do him any favors.  He LOOKS like a great Tarzan, yet he never gets any opportunities to go all Johnny Weissmuller on us.  If only somebody with some balls directed him in the role, like Russell Mulcahy from Highlander, instead of that fucking Hugh Hudson.  I mean, you might as well have given the project to those Merchant Ivory jackasses.


To sum up, the Rick Baker apes are cool, Lambert is cool, and the cinematography’s cool.  Everything else is boring as poop.  Maybe it was the drugs I’m on, but I fell asleep twice on this thing.


If Lambert’s movies don’t get better, I’m liable to wind up back in the hospital REAL quick.


Next up is…


KNIGHT MOVES  (1993)  *


Knight Moves is incredibly, worse than Greystoke.  But before we get into the feature presentation, there are two previews on the tape.  The first is for a Lorenzo Lamas flick called Bounty Tracker where he plays a… Bounty Tracker who is… Bounty Tracking Matthias Hues from I Come in Peace.  This looks fairly spectacular in every regard I must say.  Then it’s Scott Glenn’s turn to bounty track a Native American serial killer played by Benjamin Bratt in Shadowhunter.  This looks fairly awful in just about every regard.  Then the movie starts.


Knight Moves is all about Christopher Lambert playing chess at this big deal tournament.  Turns out all the pussy he’s been crushing (who knew chess players had such big groupie followers?) has been turning up dead.  Cops Tom Skerritt and Daniel Baldwin think Lambert is Primo Suspecto Numero Uno but Chris ends up trying to help them catch the killer.  You see this guy gets his rocks off by killing women and then doing their make-up like the Heath Ledger version of The Joker and finally leaving them laying in bed with an important message scrawled in blood on the wall.  He also likes to bug Lambert by calling him at all hours of the night using a voice scrambler and bragging about his crimes and annoying Chris by saying shit like, “I want to play a game with you!”


Knight Moves started out with promise.  I thought it was funny how the opening titles used chess pieces as letters.  (Example:  Starring:  ChCHESS PIECEistopher Lambert.)  That was about the only memorable moment of hilarity though.  There’s also a pretty good flashback scene where a chess prodigy flips out because he loses a big match and stabs his opponent too.


I’m not one for chess but it has to be a much more fun game to play than it is to watch.  When you make a movie about people playing chess, you run the risk of boring your audience.  I don’t think director Carl Schenkel (who’s directed everything from The Mighty Quinn to Bay Coven to Tarzan and the Lost City) took this into consideration when signing on to make this picture.  While a chess tournament is a novel setting for a thriller, nothing is done to make it worthwhile.  What’s worse is that it’s filled with so many damned clichés from other movies that it never comes up with a way to breathe any life in to them.  (Seriously, how many times have we seen the whole “Keep the killer talking on the telephone long enough so we can trace the call!” scenes in other films?  Knight Moves has about six or seven of these scenes.)  And as for the final killer reveal, I can honestly say you won’t give a damn by the time we learn who it is.


What’s particularly damning about Knight Moves is that it manages to waste a great supporting cast.  In addition to Skerritt and Baldwin, we have Diane Lane (Lambert’s real life wife at the time) looking cute as a psychologist, Ferdy (The Fearless Vampire Killers) Mayne as his blind coach, and that chick from Ginger Snaps as his daughter; all of whom look glum as Hell.  Even Lambert looks pretty bored by all this.


In Greystoke, not a lot happened but it was nice to look at.  In Knight Moves a lot goes on, but you don’t really ever give a shit.  Plus, it looks like a murky European TV Movie of the Week or something. 


And like Greystoke, this one is boring as fuck movie too.  Knight Moves is one of those movies where you think it’s almost over, then you check the counter on the VCR and are horrified to learn that only 45 minutes has gone by (including trailers).  Yes folks, Knight Moves was almost as painful as gall bladder surgery itself.


Knight Moves is morose and dull and stupid.  It’s also lacking in the levity department.  In fact, I think they missed an opportunity to have Bob Seger’s Night Moves song play over the end credits.  “Ain’t if funny how the Knight Moves!  Going to g2”.  Okay, that was a lame joke.  I think I’ll blame that one on the Percocet.


It should also be noted that Lambert produced Knight Moves under his Lamb Bear Entertainment banner (get it?).  Of course “produced” is probably shorthand for, “Only I get to have Diane Lane’s titties in my face!”


After the flick is over, there’s a “Making of” documentary at the end of the tape.  I think the biggest laugh I got out of it was hearing Skerritt compare director Carl Schenkel to Ridley Scott.  HUH!?! 


AKA:  Face to Face.



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