December 11th, 2010

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 3: “UNFINISHED BUSINESS” (1998) *

Universal Soldier 2:  “Brothers in Arms” began with something I’d never seen in a movie before:  A recreation of the previous film’s ending with entirely new actors.  Likewise, Universal Soldier 3:  “Unfinished Business” starts with another cinematic first.  This one begins with a title card that reads:  Scenes from Universal Soldier 2:  “Brothers in Arms” before showing us a brief recap of that film.  Now, I’ve seen plenty of sequels that begin with a brief recap of the previous movie but I’ve never seen any that actually have to state “Scenes from…” before.

 

Unfortunately that’s about the only unintentionally hilarious thing about Universal Soldier 3:  “Unfinished Business”.  Oh sure, the Eric Clapton and Michael Stipe look-alikes are back as the evil scientists, and so is Burt Reynolds, but that’s about it.  Sadly, Gary Busey doesn’t return.  I know he died in the last flick, but I really wish we could’ve seen him brought back to life as a Universal Soldier.  Can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue if we saw Busey running around with one of those camera doohickeys on his eyeball?  Sigh…

 

Anyway, the plot of this one has Clapton and Stipe resorting to using the bodies of criminals for a new batch of Universal Soldiers.  They also achieve a new breakthrough that allows them to clone previously dead recruits, like Eric Deveraux (Jeff Wincott), the brother of Luc (Matt Battaglia).  When Luc finds out his brother’s been cloned, he tries to reunite with him.  It does not go well (which is my cute way of saying that Eric Clapton planted a bomb in him that makes him go boom).

 

You know, I think Luc should really let his brother go.  This is the third time his brother has died on him in two movies.  I don’t think it was meant to be.

 

Universal Soldier 2 had some great cheesy moments sprinkled in with the bad stuff that made it sorta fun, but this one just plain sucks.  And whereas Part 2 looked like a Made for TV Movie but felt like a Straight to Video Cheese Fest, this one actually looks and FEELS like a Made for TV Movie.  It’s sorely lacking in the unintentional laughs department too.  (Say what you will about the next installment, Universal Soldier:  The Return, at least it had some pretty funny shit in it.) 

 

Although Burt gets more screen time here than he did in the last one, he curiously has even less to do.  I will say he does a better job at maintaining his Irish accent this time around.  He also gets the best line of the movie when he tells an underling:  “I need a favor from you… I need you to die!”

GIALLO (2010) **

A demented taxi driver with a gnarly case of jaundice is picking up hot girls in Rome and abducting them.  Then he makes them “ugly” by slashing their faces, killing them, and dumping the body.  When a hot babe (Emmanuelle Seigner) thinks her sister has been kidnapped by the killer, she enlists the help of a peculiar detective (Adrien Brody) to find her.

 

I’m going to be talking about some pretty big spoilers during the course of this paragraph so if you haven’t seen Giallo yet, you may want to stop reading right now.  Then again the killer is so obviously Adrien Brody in piss-poor make-up that you really don’t need a Spoiler Warning.  What is surprising is that Brody is just playing a dual role and not one of those deals where the detective is actually the killer.  The killer is even credited as “Byron Deidra” in the end; which is an obvious anagram for Adrien Brody.

 

As Direct to DVD serial killer movies go, Giallo is okay I guess.  But as a film from the Italian Master of Horror, Dario Argento it’s pretty weak.  The gore is almost nonexistent as we only get a hammer to the head, finger cutting, and hand slashing.  The flick is also low on Argento’s patented cinematic gymnastics and moves at a rather sluggish pace to boot.  It’s not terrible or anything, but it just makes you think we’ll probably never get another Suspiria or Opera out of the man; which is really depressing if you think about it.

CAHILL UNITED STATES MARSHAL (1973) ** ½

Cahill (John Wayne) is a United States Marshal that spends more time catching bad guys than hanging out with his two sons.  As a result, they wind up getting mixed-up with some no-good bank robbers led by Fraser (George Kennedy).  When the kids try to give the money back, the bandits come after them and it’s up to Cahill to save his sons’ bacon.

 

Cahill United States Marshal is a hair better than a lot of The Duke’s later films.  The reason for this is Cahill’s rocky relationship with his kids.  A lot of movies would’ve been tempted to get all sentimental while featuring two kids so heavily in the plot.  Cahill United States Marshal (both the movie and the man) opts for the tough love route and his sometimes unpredictable encounters with his sons (he uses them for bait to bring out Fraser and his men at one point) is a fresh spin on an otherwise middle of the road western.

 

The flick suffers from a lot of the same flaws that hamstrings a lot of Wayne oaters; namely that it’s too long and doesn’t have enough action.  The pacing is also erratic as fuck.  I will say that the bank robbery is pretty ingenious in this flick though.  First, Kennedy and his men purposefully get thrown in jail on a drunk and disorderly charge.  Then they get Cahill’s youngest son to start a fire in a barn and have him unlock the cell door during all the commotion.  While the sheriff and deputies are helping fight the fire, the crooks sneak over to the bank, rob it, stash the loot, and lock themselves back in jail.  Pretty clever if you ask me.

 

I liked Kennedy playing the heavy in this flick.  Usually he’s always a cop or an air traffic controller or something, so it was a nice change of pace seeing him playing a prick that squares off against The Duke.  Wayne gives another solid performance and his scenes with the kids are probably the best thing about the movie.  He also gets the best line of the flick when he tells a whining bandit, “If a buzzard bites you, he’d never eat meat again!”

 

AKA:  Cahill.  AKA:  Cahill U.S. Marshal.