2.21.2020

90's Action Attack!: Mercenary (1996)

John Ritter as a Rich Businessman Tracking Down His Wife's Killers to the Middle East? I'm in

by robotGEEK

Randomly scrolling through Amazon's endless supply of low-budget 90's action flicks, I came across this one and was immediately intrigued by the idea of John Ritter, who we all fell in love with as Jack Tripper in Three's Company, costarring in an action film with Olivier Grunner (Nemesis, Angel Town). I mean, I didn't care who made it or how good or bad it was, I was sold simply on that idea alone. About a good 5 minutes in, I can honestly say I was not disappointed in the least bit.

Ritter stars as Jonas Ambler, a rich businessman who's wife is killed during a gala at their home by a band of terrorists. Hell bent on revenge, and with the finances to back it up, he enlists the help of a mercenary-for-hire named Karl "Hawk" May to help him track them down in the middle east and kill them. And the only way Hawk gets paid, is if he lets Ambler go with him. So begins some intense combat training of a very pampered tycoon, followed by a mission to kill these terrorists. 

I have to say, I really, really enjoyed this. You never know what to expect with these low budget offerings, because more times than not, they're not any good. And I consider this genre to be one of my absolute favorites, so I tend to overlook a lot of the issues plaguing these films in general and end up enjoying them for what they are. But seriously, this one was fucking great. Right in the opening sequence, we're treated to not only an excellent setup for the events to follow with some impressive action, but to my surprise, we're introduced to a much better than I expected list of actors that I had no idea were in this, including Martin Kove, Robert Culp and Ed Lauter, but also a healthy selection of bad guys you most certainly recognize from other films.

As far as the film itself, it's far more entertaining than I was expecting, with a quality to it that impressed me more than anything. It's shot surprisingly well (for a low budget action film), and the action sequences are rather impressive. It's only downside is that in the last act of the film there is some horrendous CGI used during a nighttime helicopter chase through the mountains. I mean, it's really awful and incredibly cringe-inducing. I'm not sure why they would have even written something like that if the budget didn't back it up. Thankfully it's the only sequence (that I can remember) that nearly derailed it, and it's moderately brief before things get back to practical reality.

This is directed by Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher, who's only other notable film would probably be 1991's Timebomb starring Michael Beihn, which I've heard is actually really good, but I still have yet to see. But simply based on this, he does a helluva job behind the camera giving the film a much larger look and feel on a small budget. That's something you rarely see in these. If it's a small budget, most of the time the director shoots fast and loose, with an insane amount of handheld camerawork, but not here. If it wasn't for the ridiculous helicopter sequence destroying any false notions of it's actual budget, I could easily see this being something of a limited theatrical release. I think it's time I finally tracked down Timebomb.

John Ritter does a surprisingly fine job as the arrogant and incredibly rich businessman, hell bent on exacting revenge. Sure he does a lot of scared screaming only the way Ritter can, but he was impressively dedicated to the role. Grunner, for his part, plays the character well and I have to admit, with each film I see him in, he gets better and better as an actor.

Mercenary isn't mind-blowing or anything, but its a helluva great time within this genre and much better overall than I was expecting going in. Mercenary is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

2.19.2020

90's Thriller Throwback: Dead Presidents (1995)

The Hughes Brothers 70's Crime Drama is a Masterpiece Waiting to be Rediscovered

by robotGEEK

Dead Presidents is The Hughes Brother's love letter to Scorsese and De Palma. It's a beautiful, epic, sprawling and meticulously detailed crime/drama/thriller that shares a lot in common with Goodfellas, with a dash of De Palma's Untouchables thrown in for good measure, and it's a damn shame more people don't talk about this.

Released in 1995, the same year as Martin Scorsese's classic Casino, Dead Presidents would be The Hughes Brothers (Allen and Albert) sophomore effort after the well-received Menace II Society two years earlier. This is the kind of film that you just know was a passion project, doing their homework in what makes these types of films so good in the first place, and infusing it with their own specific style. And it works. It works masterfully.



Dead Presidents tells the story of a Vietnam vet (Larenz Tate) who comes back home from the service, complete with nightmares and finding it difficult to adjust back to civilian life. He can't seem to find a decent job and provide for his family in a neighborhood full of pimps and drug dealers, so he enlists the help of fellow war buddies Skip (Chris Tucker in a rare dramatic role), Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), and Cleon (Bokeem Woodbine) to pull off an armored truck heist. With the help of his mentor Kirby (Keith David), they set the plan in motion. 

This has everything you'd want in a period crime drama and it's such a shame it's been largely forgotten. Of course, the Hughes Brother's have gone onto big things both together (The Book of Eli, From Hell), and separately as solo directors. It's got an incredibly authentic setting (mostly sticking to 1973), an amazing score by Danny Elfman in his prime, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in my life, full of mellow classic R & B jams that will having you hunting down that CD pronto, and a pace that keeps things moving along briskly, never slowing down enough to dwell on the drama too long. Here they reunite with their Menace II Society cinematographer Lisa Rinzler, and it's such a beautiful marriage of talents, producing some fantastic and epic visuals.


I remember going to the theater to see this back in '95, and just being completely floored by it. I hadn't yet seen their previous film, which is regarded as one of the best gang films out there, so going in cold I was just blown away. Everything comes together so perfectly. I immediately got the soundtrack on CD and it was in constant rotation in my car. I remember when it hit VHS, I played it over and over in my room. But life happens and I kind of forgot about it. So I can say it's been at least a good 20 years since I've seen it last. Having revisited it today, it hasn't lost an ounce of it's ability to impress me and I'd dare say it's only gotten better with age. It's a true crime masterpiece.

How to see it:
As far as I know, it still hasn't gotten a Blu Ray upgrade, so on physical media, DVD and VHS are the only options. But you're in luck! It's currently available to stream in HD for FREE on The Roku Channel. You just have to endure commercials.

2.06.2020

90's Action Attack!: American Samurai (1992)

A Mix of Bloodsport with G.I. Joe's Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes' Tumultuous History, American Samurai Delivers The Goods in a Classic Way

by robotGEEK

Right smack in the middle of his run in the American Ninja franchise (which he'd taken over for Michael Dudikoff starting with Part 3), they decided to try and have him kickstart another martial arts franchise, this one centering on the samurai rather than the ninja. And while it failed to kickstart that new franchise, American Samurai is pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and that's not such a bad thing.

Released in 1992, they even went so far as to recruit regular ninja director Sam Firstenberg to helm. I mean, if you're going to hire anybody to take charge of this thing, who better than the guy who did American Ninja 1 & 2, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination. For a guy who didn't initially have any interest in directing action films (bullshitting his way into it initially), he carved out a nice career path for himself for being one of the go-to guys to do these types of films in the 80's and 90's. With that being said, he has two types of films he makes; the unintentionally and hilariously awesome cheesy (American Ninja 2, Ninja III: The Domination), or the straightforward action flick (Avenging Force). This one falls into the latter, but just barely. While it's an entertaining film all around, it's never as cheesy as I was expecting. Which is fine honestly.

Something I was not expecting was a tournament movie, which was just one of several pleasant surprises I discovered. This is where it resembles a carbon copy of Bloodsport, right down to the white country, larger than life cowboy fighter he befriends. Here he's forced to fight an endless supply of fighters from all over the world in their own varying styles of combat. There's even a dude who looks like a smaller version of Conan, right down to that exact sword, who miraculously shows up in the following sequence after he just got killed in the tournament. Got to love low-budget editing!

Another aspect I was not expecting was Mark Dacascos being cast as the villain. Needless to say I knew nothing about this going in, so I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of what I found. Dacascos, one year before breaking out in the mainstream with Only The Strong, is so over the top as the incredibly angry brother to David Bradley's character; The Storm Shadow to Snake Eyes, that he literally makes this film as entertaining as it is. Having been brought up together and taught the way of the samurai since childhood, Dacascos is pure jealousy and rage towards his adoptive American brother that boils over to a tournament confrontation in the end to see who is in fact the best samurai. His constant angry faces and delivery is breathtakingly amusing, hilarious, awesome and a much needed dose of cheese that adds so much entertainment value to the mix. And I'm not teasing him. He genuinely makes this film as good as it is, because truthfully, David Bradley's character is so unlikable

A far better and entertaining film than I was expecting, American Samurai benefits from some impressive fight sequences and a villain played to perfection by Mark Dacascos, and in the capable hands of director Sam Firstenberg.  Another tournament film, yes, but a damn good one.

2.04.2020

Documentary Spotlight: In Search of the Last Action Heroes

YouTube Film Critic and Podcaster Oliver Harper's Crowdfunded Love Letter to 80's Action Heroes is Every Bit as Entertaining as it is Ambitious. 

by robotGEEK

When film critic Oliver Harper spearheaded his campaign to produce a feature length documentary focusing on the legendary action heroes of the 80's both big and small, I was so damn excited. 80's action has and always will be one of my favorite genre's, and as I head into my mid 40's, I still find myself revisiting my favorites on a regular basis, as well as continue to dig through that decades immense output of gems that I never got around to checking out until now. And I'll probably never stop because so many were produced that I'll never get through them all in my lifetime.

With that crowdfunding campaign, I found the price for this release to be a bit too expensive for my taste (or at least my budget at the time). But I knew it was a done deal because it was reaching it's goal pretty quickly. And lucky for the rest of us, it was made a reality and even luckier for us, it's now available at a helluva price for a limited time on Amazon on DVD ($10), Blu-Ray ($13) and Streaming ($4). I personally grabbed the Blu Ray.

Now, is it any good? Hell yea it is. Of course, with something this ambitious, you're not going to please everyone. There's just so much to cover and so many different areas that there's just no way they could fit it all in. As it stands, it's more of a Love Letter than an informative Documentary because there's really nothing in here that we either didn't already know or hadn't heard before in other countless interviews. And sadly, you're not going to hear from the big boys who grace the cover of this thing like Sly, Arnold, Chuck or Dolph. Instead you're hearing from the filmmakers, stunt people, screenwriters, supporting actors and the B-Movie grade stars who made these films like Paul Verhoeven, Al Leong, Bill Duke, a seemingly grumpy Shane Black, an always excited Steven E. de Souza and so on. Which is great really, but I'm a bit shocked they couldn't even get Dolph on here, unless his schedule just didn't allow it. And honestly, I'm only touching on a very small amount of all the people interviewed in here because there are a LOT. Too many legends to name in here. Okay one more....Matthias Hues!

I especially loved listening to legends such as Cynthia Rothrock, Scott Atkins and even Best of the Best alum Phillip Rhee discuss the industry, their perceptions of it, where it was and where it's heading. I have to give it to Atkins for being bluntly honest about his feelings, even his spot-on criticism of current action stars and how he feels most people won't ever meet the commitment and dedication that someone like Keanu Reeves possesses. Vernon Wells was a hoot in describing his casting in The Road Warrior, which led to his casting as the villain in Commando, and there are plenty of moments such as this to appreciate.

A somewhat chronological look at the genre starting in the 70's, primarily focusing on the 80's, and then touching up on the current state of the genre, In Search of the Last Action Heroes isn't going to blow you away with new insight, but it's a really fun watch as it digs into my favorite genre that moves along briskly and never overstays it's welcome. With the fat trimmed, it sticks to the important aspects and if anything, is a fun nostalgic look at a decade that did it best.

In Search of the Last Action Heroes is currently available on Amazon for a great deal. Grab it while you can!

1.30.2020

A Look Back at Roland Emmerich's Godzilla (1998)

Over 20 Years Later, Godzilla 1998 Proves To Be One Of The Best Giant Monster Epic's Ever Made

by robotGEEK

This take on Godzilla is such a fascinating one. Intended to kickstart a whole new franchise of Godzilla films, it was met with mostly negative reception, and while it was ultimately a very minor hit, making more money than any Godzilla film before then, it wasn't enough to keep making more. In fact it would be another 16 years before Hollywood gave it another go with Gareth Edwards slightly better received version in 2014. That's not to say that this film isn't any good in it's own right or that it's the disaster that it's reputation leads you to believe. Because honestly, Godzilla 1998 is one helluva fun ride. Let's begin.

Writer/Director Roland Emmerich (along with his partner Dean Devlin), were riding high on some big budget hits with Universal Soldier, Stargate and the mega-hit Independence Day when they were contacted to try and revive the Godzilla franchise. I mean, who better than this hit-making team who proved they could make big special effects-laden hits on a relatively modest budget? When you think about it, their 3 previous films all turned into highly successful franchises spawning sequels, television series, toys and entertainment memorabilia. Mixing old school practical effects and model work with new state of the art CGI (at the time), they were proving themselves big players in the sci-fi, epic, disaster, and action genre's with glowing results. While initially given a book full of "do's and don't's" from Godzilla's parent company Toho, Emmerich ultimately seemed to disregard most of them and came up with his own version, which not surprisingly, didn't sit too well with die hard Godzilla fans. This time around Godzilla looked like a giant lizard that walked like a T-Rex, and honestly to this day that is really the biggest gripe anyone has regarding this film. And I get it. I was the exact same way. I HATED the way Godzilla looked so much that I let it define my overall feelings towards the film as a whole.


But guess what? Time has been extremely kind to this film. Sure I'm still not a fan of the whole lizard look, but I'd be damned if it isn't one helluva fun epic giant monster film. If you can look past his design, you'll find that as said giant monster film, Godzilla 1998 has so much to offer in the form of epic entertainment. Flawed, absolutely, but it's also made exceptionally well in the way only Emmerich and Devlin could produce. You have to remember they were at the peak of their talents around this time, and it's all due to their talents of creating fun films, utilizing outstanding effects work and a strong and consistent visual pallate that few filmmakers were and are capable of producing.

Roland Emmerich has always been a strong visual filmmaker, and I don't feel he gets the credit he deserves for infusing so much style into his films. If you look back at some of his biggest hits, they all carry a gorgeous aesthetic that utilizes it's widescreen frame to enormous effect. While entertaining, they're also beautiful films to look at. I feel Universal Soldier in particular is a prime example of this. As much as it is a badass 90's action/sci-fi masterpiece, it's one damn good looking film too.

With Godzilla, they decided to go BIG. Big in the sense of scale in that they have Godzilla destroy New York City, the most famous city in the world. Logistically, shooting in NY is such a gargantuan task, but destroying it is an even bigger one, and they make it look so damn easy. And that's one of Emmerich and Devlin's greatest strengths. They make it all look so easy when in reality, it's a nightmare. The sequences where armed helicopters are zig zagging through NYC high rises while chasing Godzilla (at night....in the rain!) is so well done utilizing a surprisingly large amount of old fashioned model work and stunts is so goddamn impressive that I'm shocked it doesn't get more attention for just how incredibly effective they pulled it off. 



While I feel some parts of it are a bit ridiculous, like the fact that he can hide underneath New York City by moving around through the sewer system (come on!), and how the third act basically turns into a Jurassic Park sequel, I have to say that that first 45 minutes is pure gold and some of the best exposition I've ever seen leading up to a big reveal. The film as a whole is just great fun, but that first act is just incredible.

If you can look past his unpopular design (thanks to Patrick Tatopoulos), and maybe think of it as just a big epic giant monster film, you will find that actually really fun, extremely well-made, and so ambitious that it's almost exhausting. Everything you love about Roland Emmerich as a director is on full display here, from his impeccable camerawork, how he utilizes every inch of the widescreen format, and just with it's overall fun tone, Godzilla might actually be a better film than you remember. In fact, it's pretty great.

Fun Fact:
Writer and Producer Dean Devlin has stated that upon it's original theatrical release, the film's less than stellar digital effects were not fully completed to their satisfaction. But because of time restraints, they had to release it "as is". He says that the only version available with the updated and completed digital effects is on the Blu Ray release. Per IMDB: The movie's intended look was not revealed to the public until the Blu-ray release in 2009. All previous versions contained a serious technical issue which lead to the computer generated graphics appearing sub-par. Dean Devlin explained that this was the result of the type of film tape they had wanted to print the movie onto being inaccessible at the time of its release. Thus, the movie was printed onto a different type of tape and shipped to cinemas with unfinished-looking effects. This was one of the reasons behind the movie's failure, as the effects did not live up to the hype. They were finally corrected digitally for the Blu-ray.

1.25.2020

The Cult Corner: Starcom (1987)

German DVD Cover

A 1987 Animated Series and Toyline That Failed to Capture an Audience, Yet Lives on in Cult Infamy

by robotGEEK

These last few months I've really dug deep into collecting vintage toys again. But not just any toy, primarily the toys from my childhood in the mid 80's. It's something I come and go with from time to time - a hobby that brings back the kid in me. So much so that I probably need to take a step back for a little while. But when I get in these nostalgic moods, I also begin revisiting old 80's cartoons. And in case you didn't already know, TubiTV is an excellent source for free vintage cartoons, as well as a shit ton of movies and tv shows. One day as I was watching the first season of Transformers, this show was suggested as one I might like based on watching that. Boy were they right.

I had never heard of Starcom, or as it's officially known as Starcom: The U.S. Space Force. I didn't even know it was also a toyline back in 1987, the year this series aired. How did I miss this? No idea. But what I can tell you is that it is hands-down one of the best animated series I've ever seen. And not just from the 80's, but.....ever!

While it only lasted one brief season, with the toys not doing well either, it came and went with little fanfare, and somewhat forgotten by the general public. I mean, I was a HUGE cartoon, science fiction and toy nerd in 1987 ( I was 11 years old, and the perfect age to dig this), and somehow never knew this franchise existed. From what I learned, it did considerably better overseas and lasted a bit longer outside of the United States. I suppose it comes down to poor marketing for both the toyline and series, but still, how is it that nobody ever talks about this?

The first thing that grabbed me immediately was it's superior animation. It's impressive as hell, reminding me a lot of something that would have easily been featured in an issue of Heavy Metal, or better yet the cult classic animated film. It features stunning character and production design, with nonstop action and a more adult-oriented storyline that I found surprisingly mature, considering it was aimed primarily at kids to sell toys. And that's just a few of a large number of things that makes this series absolutely amazing. They don't dumb down anything, in the hopes of appealing to a younger audience. There's no silly comedy or humor like most cartoons from the 80's tried desperately to include (C.O.P.S.: Cops 'n Crooks by Hasbro is a painful example), and it makes it all the more immersive. And the action is so well done that the space fighter jet sequences are so much better than most animated films to have ever come out, much less a little known animated kids show from over 30 years ago.

Starcom only lasted a single season of just 13 episodes, yet is a prime example of outstanding animation, story, character design and quality that NEEDS to be more recognized.

You can currently watch the entire season for free on TubiTV, but not sure how long it will be available on there. You can also purchase the complete series on DVD for less than $10, and trust me, that's a helluva bargain for quality this good.

To learn all about the history of this series and it's very brief toyline, check out this excellent video from the insanely talented Toy Galaxy. If you're not already following them on YouTube, follow and support them. Their videos on vintage shows and toys are a part of my every day routine.

1.23.2020

{Quickshot Review} MI: Fallout: The Best Action Film of 2018

by robotGEEK

I'm not the biggest fan of this franchise. I enjoy them to a degree, but never really find myself actually running to the theater to see them. In fact, it took me nearly 20 years to finally get around to watching MI: 2 (which I loved by the way), but don't recall really loving any that followed. Rogue Nation and Ghost Protocol were alright, but didn't really grab me, which I guess would be the reason it took me until now to finally check out this latest offering, a whole 2 years later.

With that being said, holy shit this was awesome. I'm not going to say that I was able to follow everything 100% since I honestly don't remember a whole lot of what happened in the previous films, but that honestly doesn't matter. Because Fallout is a pretty self-contained story (with some obvious references and plots taken from a few of the earlier installments, yet integrated well enough that you can follow along) that's big on the action in a way I was not expecting.



The first thought I had when finishing this was just how fucking badass this was as a straight-up action film. I'm telling you, the action set pieces are nuts! And it's just nonstop too. A seemingly endless series of spectacular action set pieces that defy logic, as well as the laws of gravity, that ultimately make Ethan Hunt out to be a superhero. But who cares? It's awesome and if you're looking for a slick looking action/adventure film with insane stunts, then look no further.

I'm not going to get into the whole story, plot or anything like that, because I couldn't tell you if I tried. I was all about the action because that's literally what grabs you right from the beginning, and all I can tell you is to just go along for the ride, because it's an awesome one. Yea there's plenty of exposition, double crosses and intrigue, so you might enjoy or appreciate those elements more than I did, but in this case, it's the action that takes center stage and it's really impressive.



It's no surprise that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has been tapped to helm the next 2 installments of the franchise based on his success here. He did a phenomenal job, which is all the more impressive considering he only had 3 directing credits to his name before this. But he's certainly written some classics for sure. The Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher, The Edge of Tomorrow, and the previous MI film Rogue Nation are all from him as screenwriter. I'm especially looking forward to his Top Gun sequel (as screenwriter) hitting soon.

Anyway, that's my two cents. For a film series I don't really care for all that much, this one kind of blew me away with its nonstop epic action sequences and it's convinced me to sit down and revisit them all in order someday instead of all spread out.

Fallout is currently streaming on Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.

1.22.2020

80's Thriller Throwback: Tequila Sunrise (1988)


Chinatown Screenwriter Robert Towne Delivers A Smart, Classy And Sexy Thriller In His Second Stint As Director

by robotGEEK

Few screenwriters have had the long-lasting career that Robert Towne has had. It's hard to believe, and almost unheard of, that he's been writing for film and television for over 60 years. And he's still working today! But they're not all homeruns though, because for every Chinatown, Mission Impossible and The Yakuza, there's a Days of Thunder and Mission Impossible 2 (personally, I love the shit out of MI: 2). Still, there's no denying his immense talent as a screenwriter when he's on fire, but a lot of people don't realize he also got behind the directors chair from time to time with a very brief directing career with only 4 films under his belt. And much like his screenwriting credits, it's a mixed bag of drama's, sports and thrillers. In fact, I think this film here is his only thriller and I'm here to tell you that it's a true under-the-radar gem within this genre. I say under-the-radar because while it was financially successful, it's not an overly popular film in the career's of anyone involved, which is really surprising to me because I happened to love it. I mean, nobody is going to immediately think of Tequila Sunrise when they're talking about Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer or Kurt Russell. But moving on.

Released in 1988, Gibson had just come off the massive success of Lethal Weapon, while Russell's previous films were the cult classics Big Trouble in Little China and Overboard. These guys were at the peak of their career's and teaming up with a legend such as Robert Towne seemed like a surefire homerun, and technically, it is. This film oozes style, substance and a clever, razorsharp script from a master of the genre. It's a classy crime thriller that takes it's time with exposition, leaving you guessing a lot of the time as to what these characters are really up to. And I'm talking about everyone, because nobody ever really comes across as who they're projecting to be. And that's something I really enjoyed about this. You never know who's on the up and up, or what anyone's real motive is. It keeps you guessing for the most part until it all starts to come together.



I want to also touch on just how beautiful this film looks. Conrad L. Hall's (Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) camerawork is just simply stunning. As the title implies, this takes place in California, L.A. to be exact, and we are treated to some truly breathtaking cinematography that takes full advantage of the L. A. sunsets.

Everyone brings their A-Game to the table. The acting across the board is impressive, with Raul Julia being especially great here. The tone can best be described as a combination of drama, crime thriller and romance as all 3 leads (Gibson, Russell and Pfeiffer) are intertwined in a steamy affair that complicates everything. While screenwriter and director Robert Towne had only directed one single film years before this, you'd never know it as it's all handled like a seasoned pro. And there's no surprise that the L.A. scenery, via 1988, plays a huge role in this. It's almost as if it's it's own character, and both Hall's brilliant camerawork and Towne's confident direction capture it flawlessly.



Tequila Sunrise is a film that deserves more love. It's a sexy crime thriller with that oozes both style and substance similarly to great results. If there was anything worth complaining about, I could see how some might feel it drags on a bit too long, but I personally enjoyed its nearly 2 hour runtime. I was entertained and engrossed the entire time.

How to see it:
Easily available on every format including Blu-Ray, I chose to rent it on Amazon Prime for a few bucks before I spent the funds to grab it on physical media. Trust me, you'll want to grab this on Blu-Ray above all else so you can enjoy it's gorgeous imagery to full effect.


1.18.2020

90's Thriller Throwback: Bird on a Wire (1990)

If Only All Action/Comedy's Were This Good

by robotGEEK

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; director John Badham just doesn't get the love and respect he deserves as a great director. And I'm guilty of that too. I was never a fan of his particular "style" of directing back when his films were hitting theaters in the 80's and 90's. I just didn't "get it". While I grew up on films of his like Wargames Short Circuit, for some reason I just couldn't get into his others that followed. Truth be told, I didn't give most of them a shot, so I realize now I was really missing out on some gems. Blue Thunder, The Hard Way, Point of No Return (a remake of La Femme Nikita), and Stakeout were all surprisingly great films that I kick myself for not ever giving a chance years earlier when I should have. But better late than never.

Sandwiched between his highly successful Stakeout (1987), and The Hard Way (1991), Bird on a Wire stars Mel Gibson fresh off the successes of Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, when he was a leading heartthrob once upon a time. That's crazy to think, isn't it? There was a time when Mel was a damn good looking guy, charming, funny and a leading man to so many great films. To look at the grumpy old man he's become today is a bit shocking.



This would be Goldie's followup to her cult classic Overboard from a whole 3 years earlier, and while I found her incredibly annoying in this, I know it was just the way her character was written, because she really is so damn cute, even in this. I might also add that I don't recall another film where her amazing ass is featured more prominently than it is here. I mean, I've always admired it, because it is rather impressive, but there are a number of scenes that really remind you why it's so glorious. Thank you John Badham. Thank you.

As for the film itself, I can't help it. I loved the shit out of it. It was so much fun, mixing just the right amount of comedy with impressive and explosive action. The film hits all the right notes in the action/comedy genre, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was co-written by none other than the screenwriter of one of my all-time favorite films on the planet, the Kung Fu epic The Last Dragon.

It also helps that we have legends such as David Carradine and Bill Duke playing the bad guys. While their characters really aren't given much depth, seeing them show up from time to time to shoot shit up and create chaos is really fun. Oh, and legendary hottie and B-Movie queen Joan Severance also shows up briefly, but memorably. 

I really don't know why I never bothered to see this until now, other than I guess it just didn't seem all that appealing at the time. But boy was I wrong, because it was legitimately a blast from start to finish. Funny when it's supposed to be, and the action is big, loud and impressively done. Give this one a watch! Its a fun afternoon flick that reminds me why the 90's really was a great decade for film.