April 11th, 2013

RUTGER HAUER-PALOOZA

A BREED APART (1984) ** ½

Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe, Kathleen Turner, Brion James, and Donald Pleasence in one movie? Count me in. Oh wait, it’s directed by The Howling 2 and 3’s Philippe Mora? Umm… does it at least have Sybil Danning in a werewolf three-way? No? Damn!

Rutger plays this twitchy Nam vet who lives on an island full of rare birds and spends his time shooting poachers with his trusty crossbow. Egg collector Pleasence hires mountain climber Boothe to steal some endangered bald eagle eggs for him. Boothe and Hauer both vie for the affections of Kathleen Turner and eventually earn one another’s respect. This of course puts Powers in a moral dilemma when he goes to snatch the priceless eggs.

Basically, the flick boils down to a love triangle, yet the fact that a bunch of rare eggs are at stake makes the flick different than most. The offbeat subject matter makes for an interesting watch, but the performances and Mora’s direction are curiously aloof. Hauer fares best as the Vietnam vet with the wild-eyed stare. However, he’s just coasting on his usual persona and fails to make the most of his role. Boothe is cool, but detached, so he likewise doesn’t bring the spark necessary to make the triangle work. And Turner is saddled with an annoying country accent, which robs her of some of her sexiness.

Knowing the track records of the three leads, I’m inclined to place the blame on Mora’s direction. He also should shoulder the blame for the choppy narrative and uneven pacing. But despite its faults, A Breed Apart is still worth a look. The film has some powerful stretches, the character dynamics are interesting, and the music by Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees is pretty good too. Plus, Turner has a pretty hot nude scene, so I can’t complain too much.

THE BLOOD OF HEROES (1990) *

Hey, you got post-apocalypse movie in my sports movie! Hey, you got sports movie in my post-apocalypse movie! Wait, it’s two great things that… suck when you put them together.

David Webb Peoples wrote and directed this movie. He also wrote Blade Runner, Unforgiven, and Twelve Monkeys. As a writer, he may be pretty great, but as a director… he ain’t so hot.

Rutger Hauer stars as the captain of a post-apocalypse sports team. The game they play is kinda like football (or maybe rugby), but played with dog skulls. The team wanders around the wasteland around squaring off against other teams. After he loses his eye in a game, Rutger decides to enter the team in an underground tournament. (In this instance, the tournament is literally underground.)

There are a lot of post-nuke movies out there, but this is one of the grimiest, dingiest, dirtiest ones I’ve ever seen. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say that it’s one of the ugliest looking films of all time. Man, I thought Alien from L.A. looked bad, but The Blood of Heroes takes the cake. It also doesn’t help that Peoples stages the games poorly and they aren’t exciting in the least.

But the film has a good cast. They’re not good in this movie, but I know they’ve been good in the past. I mean what's the idea of putting guys like Rutger Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Delroy Lindo, and Richard Norton in a movie, and then not giving them anything to do?

Game Over.

AKA: The Salute of the Jugger.

SPLIT SECOND (1992) ***

In the year 2008 (our old future) London is plagued by global warming and is mostly submerged in water. Rutger Hauer plays a burned out cop tracking down what he thinks is a serial killer. It turns out to be a monster who likes to rip out human hearts and eat them. Hauer also has a psychic link with the creature which helps him track the beast. Of course, when it goes after Rutger’s hot girlfriend (Kim Cattrall), Hauer steps in to kick it’s ass.

Hauer looks badass in his black leather trench coat, sunglasses, cigar, and big ass gun. He also drinks coffee like it’s going out of style and gets lots of funny quips along the way. (“The only thing we know for sure is that he isn’t a vegetarian!”) I guess what I’m getting at here is that this is one of the all-time great Hauer performances. And for that and that alone, Split Second comes highly recommended.

Directed by Tony Maylam, the man who gave us the immortal The Burning, Split Second is a bit slow in the beginning, but it gets better as it goes along and by the end, it’s pretty kick ass. The plot is similar to Predator 2 in some ways and it would probably make a great double feature with that flick. The Giger-inspired monster is also rather boss and looks cooler than most Giger-inspired monsters you’d see in this sort of thing. Plus, it’s got Kim Cattrall naked in the shower, so overall Split Second is a definite winner.

ONE ARM VS. NINE KILLERS (1976) ** ½

The great Jimmy Wang Yu stars as a one-armed badass. He he’s out to get revenge on the nine guys who slaughtered his family. Along the way, he rescues a girl and teams up with an old man to kick some butt.

One Arm vs. Nine Killers isn’t really a part of Jimmy Wang Yu’s One-Armed Boxer or One-Armed Swordsman series. It also gets a bit silly and cheesy in some spots and honestly, most of the fight scenes are fairly standard issue. But since it features Jimmy Wang Yu kicking the crap out of a bunch of guys while using only one arm, it’s still highly watchable.

There are a couple of pretty good moments. There’s a scene where a villain plays human chess a few years before Mel Brooks did it in History of the World Part 1. I also laughed during the part where a guy gives Jimmy Wang Yu a poisoned pill and he spits it across the room and down the dude’s throat! He also gets into a funny fight with a transvestite too.

Of course, the stuff in between these moments isn’t much to write home about. And the flick suffers from a cop-out ending too. Plus, the version I saw was heavily cut, which didn’t help matters any. Still, easy-to-please chopsocky fans should be mildly amused by it.

The best line of the movie comes when a chick calls a bad guy an “evil beast” and he replies, “I’m really not. If I was, I would’ve raped you!”

AKA: One Armed Against Nine Killers. AKA: One Armed Swordsman vs. Nine Killers. AKA: One Armed Swordsman Annihilates the Disciples of Chu School. AKA: One Armed vs. Nine Killers.

THE WIG (2005) ** ½

Well we’ve seen movies about haunted houses, haunted mirrors, and haunted cars, but here’s the first (I think) haunted wig movie! It kinda follows the basic structure of those haunted eyeball transplant movies, except that instead of the patient being haunted by someone else’s visions, the freakish follicles possess the patient (in this case it’s a gal with terminal cancer) and turns her into the hair’s former owner. There’s even a Mangler-inspired scene where the wigmaker cuts himself on the sewing machine and his blood absorbs into the wig, which naturally turns it all kinds of EVIL!!! Whoa, talk about a HAIR-RAISING movie!

This is all as stupid as it sounds, but it’s all played very seriously. But that’s probably what endeared the flick to me (up to a point that is). I do have to say that all the stuff with the cancer chick is kinda depressing. However, there’s an interesting subplot about the killer wig actually making the chick BETTER. I don’t know what kind of hospice service this is, but I don’t want any part of it, no siree Bob!

I’ve been burned so many times by Asian horror movies (this one is from Korea) that I don’t even know why I even bother any more. This one, thanks to the nutty premise (I bet Stephen King is kicking himself that he didn’t come up with it) is better than most, but it’s still not all that great. At 102 minutes, it’s about 22 minutes longer than any Killer Wig movie really needed to be. And the ending is pretty lame. Still, it’s probably the best Killer Wig movie we’re likely ever to get so we have to appreciate these things when they come along, you know what I mean?

Anyhow, there is one part of The Wig that truly kicks butt. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll try to keep mum about it. All I’ll say is that it features one of the gnarliest vehicular death scenes since Final Destination 2 and if you know of my love of Final Destination 2, you know that’s about the highest form of praise you’ll get outta me.

AKA: Scary Hair.

THE MUSIC MAN (1962) ***

Robert Preston is this con man who strolls into a small town in Iowa and starts up a lot of hooey about them needing a band. He then swindles everyone into paying for instruments and nonexistent lessons for their kids. Along the way he falls in love with a HAWT librarian and since she’s played by the HAWT Shirley Jones, you know he’s gonna show her his Dewey Decimal System. Oh yeah, come on get happy! Anyway, the town finds out he’s a con man, but since he inspired happiness and good cheer everywhere he went, they let him off the hook.

I first saw The Music Man in Music Appreciation class in 8th grade. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it very much. I thought it was too long, kinda dull, and had way too much singing in it. But at least it had the dude from The Last Starfighter, so it wasn’t THAT bad.

Now that I’m a man, I certainly appreciated it more than I did as a kid. My qualms with the film are still the same. It’s too long, kinda dull, and has way too much singing in it. Seriously, did this thing need to be two and a half hours? REALLY? And c’mon, they could’ve cut about half a dozen musical numbers from the flick and no one would’ve noticed.

There are still a couple numbers that are pretty great though and easily make up for the bad apples in the bunch. “Ya Got Trouble”, “Till There Was You”, “Gary, Indiana”, and “Marian the Librarian” are a lot of fun. “Ya Got Trouble” in particular will get stuck in your head for days.

And the reason for that is Robert Preston. The man just tears that number up. His performance more or less made the whole movie for me. And his chemistry with Jones was rather winning. Sure, it’s no Last Starfighter, but if you want to see Preston kicking butt, this is one of his all-time best.

The Music Man was part of The Clayton Theatre’s “Classic Movie Mondays”. For more info on The Clayton, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Clayton-Theatre/195172553830307?fref=ts

Next week’s movie: Meet Me in St. Louis.