September 19th, 2010

THE FOREIGNER (2003) * ½

I saw Steven Seagal’s Foreigner movies out of order, but Black Dawn (AKA:  The Foreigner 2) was fairly decent so I decided to check this one out.  Big mistake.  This one sucks hardcore. 


I won’t even mention the plot.  It’s confusing as fuck.  Since Seagal plays a double agent working for some Eurotrash scumbag, there are lots of double-crosses and shit.  Alliances are switched on a whim.  Dudes you thought were Seagal’s buddy end up trying to kill him and guys who tried to kill him end up being his buddy.  None of it makes a lick of fucking sense, but the flick isn’t a total loss.


Even the most tepid of Steven Seagal Direct to DVD action flicks usually have at least one moment of extreme nuttiness.  The Foreigner is no different.  There is this one scene where Seagal has a fake “package” at a bus station locker.  This package is actually a bomb that he concocted as a decoy in case some jackass comes looking for it.  Predictably, somebody does.  When a punk wants the package, he holds Seagal at gunpoint and makes him get it out of the locker.  Afterwards, they adjourn to the bathroom so he can open it.  It’s here that Seagal excuses himself to go take a piss.  When the guy opens the package, Seagal jumps out the window seconds before the bus station blows up.  And let me be clear about this:  The bomb doesn’t just blow the dude up, but the WHOLE bus station as well.  Talk about collateral damage.  There’s no telling how many people were in there when that thing went off (bus drivers, ticket takers, passengers, etc.).  Seagal escapes unscathed though. 


You know, that scene where he callously kills a garbage man in Black Dawn doesn’t seem so bad now compared to this.


That nutty bit aside, the action sequences are brief and unspectacular.  There is one hilarious moment when Steve-O throws a C-4 laced CD into a dude’s abdomen and he blows up.  That shit was whack.  Other than that, The Foreigner is mostly bunk.  Skip it and check out Black Dawn instead.

NAVAJO JOE (1967) ** ½

A gang of killers are roaming around the Wild West scalping Indians and selling their skins.  When they scalp a sexy squaw, her boyfriend, Navajo Joe (Burt Reynolds) goes out for revenge.  Joe gets involved with a small town that’s being menaced by the gang and agrees to kill them.  The only catch is that he wants the town to make him sheriff first.


The western action in Navajo Joe isn’t anything you haven’t already seen in hundreds of comparable oaters.  The flick also gets bogged down whenever it follows the bandits, none of whom are particularly menacing.  Still, there are a couple of spikes of coolness that help the flick rise above the mediocrity.


There is a good scene where a dancehall dame gets murdered.  She learns that a prominent member of the community is in cahoots with the villains and they shoot her.  She starts slipping in and out of consciousness and when she finally comes to; she looks up and sees the town doctor.  Turns out that the doctor is the traitor and he’s holding a very sharp scalpel.  Then there’s the fun moment when Joe appoints himself sheriff.  When the old sheriff objects, Joe says, “My father was born here, as was his father and his father before him.  Where was your father born?”  The sheriff says “Scotland”, and Joe responds, “I have more of a right than you!” and grabs his tin star. 


The flick also has the benefit of a good score by none other than Ennio Morricone.  I really liked the theme song that just basically says “Navajo Joe” over and over again.  The suspenseful music in the film has been used by Quentin Tarantino in a number of his movies. 


Reynolds delivers a fine performance although he’s never really given a chance to become a fully fleshed out character.  Burt is the kind of guy that you’d rather see coasting on his familiar persona than actually “act”, so you’ll be disappointed to know that he doesn’t do the patented Burt laugh in this one.  He’s still cool enough for me to grant this film a marginal recommendation.


A young Ruggero (Cannibal Holocaust) Deodato was an assistant director.


AKA:  Navajo’s Land.  AKA:  Red Fighter.  AKA:  Savage Land.

ABLAZE (2002) **

Here’s another paste-up Jim Wynorski picture.  This one not only blatantly steals footage from the 1979 disaster picture City on Fire, but also the plot.  Everything from the pregnant woman in peril to the fat nurse to the little kid who starts the fire, just about all the subplots are here.  There aren’t any mentally imbalanced oil refinery workers or boozed up anchorwomen though.


I don’t know about you, but it’s fucking funny to me to watch a movie that steals footage from another movie that’s more than 20 years old.  Because so much time has past, the dated looking footage from City on Fire doesn’t match at all.  City on Fire appeared on Mystery Science Theater, and I think it’s a shame that Ablaze never got the same treatment.


The thing is; for a while there, Ablaze is sorta watchable.  The opening sequences are involving enough and the acting, while a bit stiff is effective.  Then the movie just becomes City on Fire but with different actors and the flick quickly goes up in smoke.


The cast is strong enough to keep your attention.  Amanda (Leviathan) Pays has the thankless role of the caring nurse, Michael (American Ninja) Dudikoff is good as one of the firemen, and Ice T has a small role as a cop.  I also liked seeing Pat Harrington (Schneider from One Day at a Time) in there as an unsympathetic doctor too.  The best acting comes from Tom Arnold and William (Johnny from The Karate Kid) Zabka as the bad guys.  (You basically get the A to Z of villainy.)


Dudikoff gets the best line of the movie when he says “I’m going to stick my head up my ass and get in touch with my inner child!”

BULLETPROOF (1988) ***

You know this movie is going to be something special right from the get-go when the opening titles announce:








Yeah, it’s that kind of movie, folks.


Anyway, Gary Busey is this cop whose nickname is Bulletproof because he always gets shot but never dies thanks to his trusty bulletproof vest.  Whenever he gets shot on the job, he comes home, pulls the bullet out of his vest, and puts in a little tea cup in his medicine cabinet with all his other slugs.  His next assignment is to recover a super tank from some dirty terrorists.  Naturally, the tank is bulletproof and Gary is bulletproof, so it’s a match made in Heaven.


I liked Bulletproof because it’s that kind of movie.  You know what kind of movie.  That kind of “There’s nothing else to watch on a Saturday night” movie that winds up being all kinds of stupid but all kinds of fun.  The action is cartoony but in a good way.  Like when Gary climbs the rafters of the bad guys' warehouse and makes fun of them before they start shooting at him.  Most action heroes would try to get the drop on the villains and THEN say something funny afterwards.  Not Gary.  You see, he’s bulletproof so he can say funny shit at the bad guys and not worry about getting shot up. 


I think my favorite scene was when Henry Silva tied Gary up to this big ass wheel.  Henry goes to shoot him but just before he pulls the trigger, Gary’s girlfriend tosses a grenade at the wheel and the ensuing explosion causes it to roll down the hill and take Gary to safety.  Of course, Gary doesn’t get a scratch on him.  Not only is he bulletproof, he’s grenade proof too.


And you’ve got to love the villains in this movie.  I mean any time you’ve got Henry Silva, William Smith, Danny Trejo, AND Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as your bad guys, you’re automatically winning in my book.  Gary is pretty great too.  It’s easy to see why he never really became an action star though.  While his kind of manic intensity is better suited to villains and henchmen, I’m still glad he made this movie because it’s pretty funny.  It’s not a camp classic or anything but it’s on par with say, Malone as far as 80’s action cheese fests go.  Because it’s so gleefully over the top, Bulletproof is critic proof.


You may have noticed I’ve used the word “bulletproof” a lot in my review.  That’s not nearly as much as you hear it in the movie.  Seriously, if you had a nickel for every time someone said “bulletproof” in this movie, it would pay off the national debt.  Some of my favorite instances include:


When Gary is getting shot at by the bad guys, his partner almost ends up getting shot and he scolds Busey, “You may be bulletproof but I’m not!”


Or after Gary bangs a chick and she rolls over to tell him, “You may be bulletproof but you’re not love proof!”


Or when Smith asks Silva who stole his tank and Henry replies, “It was the one they call… ‘Bulletproof!”