clap if you love … DYNAMO!

okay, after many annoying evenings and/or tax-related shenanigans that have delayed this update, here we go: the running diary of the Running Man. or as i like to call it, “that movie with the electric dude who’s always running around in his underwear trying to kill Arnold.” i watched it recently with my sibling and my main thought was “wow, does this movie deserve a running diary update or what?”

preparatory information: once upon a time, there was an author named Stephen King who wanted to feel better about himself, and so he wrote some short novels and published them under the name Richard Bachman. now, these books were of varying quality (the Long Walk was great, the Running Man good, Thinner decent, Rage decent but juvenile, and Roadwork just … meanders all over the place), but two of them would later become movies: Thinner (which probably wasn’t very good) and the Running Man. but somewhere along the way, the book version of the Running Man got … corrupted.

the book, you see, is a harsher view of a totalitarian dystopia, dated in some respects (the YMCA features prominently), weird in some respects (i am not sure how i feel about King’s depiction of the struggles of the Boston ghetto), but fairly consistent and negative and realistic. or maybe just as realistic as science-fiction books about the future get, but still: there are no crazy Hunters (they’re basically like private eyes or cops in the book), there’s no cracked-out neon-coloration sense about the book’s imagery, and so on. as for the movie? well, during once again to Wikipedia:

“The film, set in a dystopic year 2019, is about a television show called Running Man, where convicted criminal “runners” must escape death at the hands of professional killers. The film differed significantly from the novel; it recalls some scenes from a French film, called Le Prix du Danger, and a German film, called Das Millionenspiel, with a similar theme based on the short story The Prize of Peril by Robert Sheckley, about a television show where participants must escape killers live on television.”

actually, that doesn’t even describe it in NEARLY the insane fashion it should, because this film is ridiculous. i suppose the biggest note i should mention is that the Ben Richards of the book is an impoverished guy who goes on the show for the benefit of his forced-to-prostitute wife and sick-and-needs-medicine daughter, whereas the movie is going to have this crazy freedom-fighting subplot. yeah, exactly.

00:27: brief tangent as we get started: i REALLY like this totally futuristic font that we’re seeing in the credits, and i think every film set in the future (or 2019, which we’re almost at, creepily enough) should use this font. okay, let’s focus on the movie.

eh, the Running Man
oh shit… things are about to get seriously FUTURISTIC

00:57: ah, the back story laid out over a blindingly-red-to-black screen so that we understand how society was so terrible in 2017 that we needed this crazy game show (or series of game shows, to be accurate) to save us from ourselves. or something. anyway, this back story varies a little from that of the book, but it’s not really the problem here.

02:08: in a classic flaw common to all sorts of science-fiction films, we have this advanced future where there’s still some very awkward computer technology being used. case in point: whatever the hell is going on with this helicopter. i’ll try and make this the only “dated look of the film” comment because i know the response: duh, janklow, the film was made in 1987. still, i suspect they’re always better served to not show this kind of thing at all, or make it unrealistically good. it’s the future! it can be unrealistic!

02:24: anyway, we rapidly go into the plot (Arnold as Ben Richards is told to shoot civilians during a “food riot” and declines and gets beaten by his colleagues) as Arnold tries really, REALLY hard to act here. although i am not sure how it’s a “riot” if no one is armed and it’s just women and kids that want food. lousy half-assed future riots…

03:51: okay, this is my token firearm complaint: why is it in half-assed action movies that organizations (in this case, the guards at this Wilshire Detention Zone) never have regulation guns? half of these guys have some M-16/AR-15 rifle, and the other half have Calicos (terrible in its own right). even if this is somehow due to the constraints of the prop department, could they not have somehow filmed in a way that would make it SEEM more logical?

the Running Man starring YAPHET KOTTO
no matter how bad the future seems, it can’t be all bad when Yaphet Kotto is featured so prominently

04:20: it strikes me that my colleague J.Miles probably strongly approves of the fierce beard Arnold is rocking at this point in his stay in detention. too bad it won’t last! luckily, Arnold will compensate for this by dropping one-liners furiously throughout this movie. he also shoots a guy with his rifle one-handed (at about 07:11), a feat i would like to see J.Miles replicate (only with an inanimate target, not some dude).

07:00: so after all the armed guards and collars-wired-to-explode (a common futuristic theme) and plots to escape from the detention zone and scheming with Yaphet Kotto and gunfights breaking out, this was about the point that i turned to my sibling and said, “wow, i totally don’t recall there being this level of ridiculous back story in the Running Man.” which was true. i’ve seen the film before so i SUPPOSE i vaguely recall it, but it always seems like this movie is about nothing but the game show nonsense.

08:39: a guy’s head explodes from his restraint collar going off before the gang can deactivate it to escape, which makes it clear that the way you hack a computer in 2019 is to enter a legitimate security code that you happen to see, and then have it get “resisted” somehow (maybe by another guy on the same kind of computer ALSO entering a code), and then just hit the enter key many, many times until the hack works. the future, ladies and gentlemen! after this, i may want to waste the bad taste of this out of my mouth with the realistic computer shenanigans of say “Hackers” or “TRON.”

CHICO! CHIIICOOO!
okay, okay, i admit it: the future is clearly going to suck

09:40: despite the fact that we KNOW the film takes place in a terrible future, i am not sure Los Angeles looks worse here than it does in real life. also, i must admit that this film actually does have, no lie, some inspired casting, as seen here when we notice Richard Dawson is the host of the Running Man, Damon Killian. and he does a great job in the role, appropriately cheesy AND evil. Jesse Ventura is also a good pick for a steroid-enhanced doofus with the name of “Captain Freedom,” but we can return to that later; the point here is that this is something NOT messed up in the film.

10:42: okay, you might not notice this on your first viewing, but the billboard/television that shows highlights from “the Running Man” is showing clips that happen LATER in the movie to characters who have not experienced them yet, such as when they fight Subzero or Buzzsaw. that’s right: the future is so awesome that television shows the future! really, there’s no reason someone couldn’t have shot an extra 13 seconds of footage for use in that scene. terrible. there’s some story explanation about all this building towards shutting down the network signal or something, which is lame mainly because we all know society won’t be fixed by (temporarily) turning off a television.

12:57: note to self: Ben Richards has an awesome hardhat. i want this hardhat!

17:09: now, while i don’t approve of apartments that don’t have a security code change from tenant to tenant and i don’t approve of these generally lame ICS uniforms, there IS one thing about the future that i DO approve of (mainly because i am into pain and suffering): Captain Freedom’s Work-Out! (although evidence indicates it’s not much of a work-out). just try and say no to this:

Jesse
YEAH! YEAH!

22:07: Arnold appears wearing the single greatest outfit of all time. i am not even going to describe it, as i trust you will all recognize it when you see it. he’s going to get captured and agree to be on the show the Running Man to save his friends… but for now, we can enjoy the promise of freedom his outfit portends.

29:41: so there’s this sub-plot (well, that’s not the word) with a bunch of guys theatrically gambling on the Running Man; i bring this moment to your attention to point out the awesome jacket the one guy is wearing. clothes are going to be so much more awesome in 2019!

34:37: while this lawyer has his moments (such as the “agree to disagree” part), i think we all know he deserves this stabbing. i am even suspicious that Arnold may have actually stabbed this guy in real life and the footage was simply used in the film. don’t forget to send me a copy!

36:02: so the fake footage of Arnold killing people in the food riot is shown, and it raises some questions. a) why are people who are excited to watch a show where criminals are hunted and killed shocked by the simulated violence? b) why does a car exploding elicit such an emotional response? c) do the filmmakers not realize that part of the book’s concept was that the upper/middle classes were fooled, but that the poor had a firmer understanding of society’s issues and if so, do they not realize that having the poor guys watching the show hate on Richards kind of, sort of doesn’t work?

Damon Killian
who loves you, and who do you love?

39:04: i have to admit, when it’s revealed that Arnold’s friends are going to be thrown into the game after all, all i could think of was “what’s the purpose of them appearing in such an incredibly uncomfortable and awkward fashion?” seriously, they’re so contorted in those little jet-car things, it doesn’t make any sense.

42:23: so Maria Conchita Alonso finds the raw footage of Arnold that will clear him… and it’s kept in an unlocked file cabinet next to the fake footage? and not just destroyed? and, skipping slightly ahead, they won’t find it and destroy it when they take her into custody, (presumably) search her and make her change into the futuristic jumpsuit? terrible.

Professor Subzero
here is (Professor) Subzero! (and his ridiculous groin protector.) now… plain zero!

43:38: stalker one is introduced: Subzero. now, two things. one, i couldn’t recall this guy’s name, and neither could my sibling, and all i kept saying was “it can’t be “Subzero,” that’s a Mortal Kombat character.” imagine my disappointment. two, i was joking about how Professor Toru Tanaka gets billed with “Professor” as part of his name … and here they go and make his character “Professor Subzero.” ridiculous! so from here on out, i will be referring to him as “Professor Subzero,” if only because it’ll make me feel like i was right about the whole name thing.

44:30: “here in the locker room?” why is there a locker room full of half-naked dudes in this movie? there’s a total of FOUR stalkers in the film. are these all the random biker dudes we see chasing around Arnold and friends briefly? what the hell? also, the concept of “400 game blocks” versus the entire world of the book (in which you can presumably really escape) is another reason this concept has been weakened. “anything can happen” in the 400 blocks … but you happen to wander into a skating rink with fancy goals for Professor Subzero? lame.

48:09: Professor Subzero, you can’t even wound one unarmed guy with your bladed hockey stick on your custom staking rink before you get killed? also lame.

50:30: okay, i get that i am supposed to suspend my disbelief and presume that all these stalkers are bad, murderous dudes… and then Buzzsaw and Dynamo are introduced. Dynamo is not ever to be called a “hard-ass.” Dynamo is terrible. look, let’s have a quick graphical comparison.

Buzzsaw
that stupid arch is totally done for

exhibit A: Buzzsaw. Buzzsaw is clearly a muscular dude who lifts motorcycles, hits his fans in their stupid faces, and attacks modern art with some supposedly awesome chainsaw. he might look like a shitty Hulk Hogan on steroids (or, i guess, more steroids than Hogan was on), and given how ridiculous and secretly lame these stalkers seems to be, he’s not in good company … but he probably could beat up a guy or saw him to death or something. you know, if he HAD to.

Dynamo
clap if you love… DYNAMO! i trust none of you are clapping

exhibit B: Dynamo. basically, Dynamo is a fucking fat guy wearing a stupid fucking outfit composed primarily of Lite-Brite who sings fucking opera and shoots electricity at stuff, such as his sign. WHICH IS A TERRIBLE SIGN. and then while Buzzsaw will have a motorcycle to ride on, Dynamo will be tooling around in a fucking dune buggy. and while attacking people with a chainsaw while on a motorcycle is foolish, it’s at least imposing. no one is threatened by a fat dude in the worst, most plastic dune buggy ever. Dynamo is the worst thing i have ever seen.

59:13: so not to get totally distracted here, but i find myself wondering what the hell is in this “Running Man home game.” i would totally play that board game if it could be purchased.

60:00: so Weiss finds the OMG top secret network up-link interface (complete with “hexagonal decode system”)… which of course makes me wonder why the network didn’t install a locked fucking door here. or at least something to make it seem like there was once a locked door? maybe Dynamo’s stupid car could have smashed into a building or something? this is just lazy writing.

62:19: much like that one South Park episode taught us, here’s the deal: i don’t care how much of an annoyance a stalker is being, Arnold, you do not chop him right in the dick with his own chainsaw. or ANY chainsaw. you can still kill him and hit him with the same one-liners; “keep it” in response to “i’m gonna make [this saw] part of you” and “he had to split” work regardless of where the chainsaw goes. IT IS NOT COOL.

62:50: hey, you know what’s NOT the stealthiest of attire? a glowing fucking Lite-Brite suit!

Dynamo
NOT VERY SNEAKY, ASSHOLE

seriously… i hate Dynamo so much. and computer hacking that is just “hitting buttons.” but mostly Dynamo. especially when he calls people “my love.” the only good thing about him is when he’s getting insulted by Arnold. or when his dune buggy (which reminds me of those shitty Japanese WWII tanks that GIs beat up by hand on at least one occasion) is wrecked and he’s begging for mercy.

66:13: Jim Brown (as Fireball) is to report to wardrobe at once. really, what about this hairdo is necessary for either his character development and/or the plot progression? it’s just insulting. and then Yaphet Kotto dies. fuck, awesome black dudes are just getting shit on furiously in this portion of the film. although if the underground has a broadcast center RIGHT near all this nonsense, how did they not find the almost-immediately-adjacent up-link before? terrible.

68:39: “i live to see you eat that contract! but i hope you leave enough room for my fist, because i’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!” YES. also, at this point my sibling realized why i yelled this at her when she said we were going to watch the Running Man. this is easily Arnold’s best line ever.

69:27: the major problems i have with Fireball are a) his outfit being so damn glittery and b) him “impressing” me by lighting paper dudes on fire. Arnold is not made of paper, Fireball. still… he’s not an fucking fat guy covered in a child’s toy. this has to count for something. still… who pitched this to Jim Brown? “hey, Jim, do you want to be in a movie where you’re covered in silver glitter and start fires?” i would fear being beaten and thrown out of his house.

Fireball
i at least consider it reasonable to picture Jim Brown killing the hell out of someone

71:16: this is where Killian’s biggest fan, Agnes, uses the phrase “one mean motherfucker,” which is supposed to make her the hilarious old woman of the film, but which i just find awkward. should old ladies use words like that?

73:29: seriously, Arnold, throwing slow-moving barrels at a dude with a flamethrower is your plan? what the fuck is this, Donkey Kong? and then we find the network killed the past winners, but left their bodies lying around with dog tags on them, as if no one has ever heard of a crematorium? even when there’s a guy WHO SHOOTS FIRE on the payroll? RIDICULOUS. and then Arnold throws a flare at Jim Brown’s crotch and everything goes downhill from there. what a hot-head.

76:59: the absolute best part about this outfit that Captain Freedom bursts in wearing and complaining about is that it doesn’t even make sense and gets no explanation. he doesn’t want it because it’s not sporting … yet all it seems to do is be useless plastic that gets in the way. seems to me that if you’re this turbo-awesome dude, Captain Freedom, it WOULD be sporting of you to wear a stupid, restrictive costume.

Captain Freedom
Jesse Ventura dressed as either a lame version of Captain Freedom or maybe just a Transformer

78:27: so i think this was the point where i turned to my sibling and said “what the fuck is with all these dancers again?” i sort of assumed that the opening dancers were like cheerleaders plus credits, but they’re back doing a memorial dance in the middle of a show? this is so not the kind of thing anyone would ever put in a bloody, action-packed show. and then there’s a weird sequence where Jesse Ventura kills a computer animation or something.

82:40: one thing i have learned is that the Steyr AUG is perfectly designed for sci-fi films set in the near future. it’s a cool gun, but no one really adopted it and so it looks like something awesome from that near future. kind of like the P90s in Stargate, i guess. although i don’t know what’s up with this turbo-tactical Micro-Uzi that Maria Conchito Alonso is packing. that thing’s just illogical. and then Arnold switches his gun for this terrible action-film MP5 with a crazy fake suppressor? and then there’s more dancing? ugh.

88:06: yes, Dynamo, it IS funny when dudes beat you up and trap you in your car. but you know what? there IS something funny about a “dickless moron with a battery up his ass.” and then you go to rape someone with the line “i’ll show YOU dickless?” really? and then i have to see your jockey shorts? jesus christ, thank god you fucking die in this scene.

just very awkward to see
tactical Micro-Uzi? Lite-Brite suit and fluorescent mohawk? fat dude’s revealing underwear? this is the worst thing i have ever seen

90:00: wow, there are a lot of theatrical flips and awkward grips on guns in this scene. this movie must have been filmed in the 1980s. also, i’m not sure why the appearance of Killian’s bodyguard Sven would have made Killian feel better. Sven’s not bigger than Arnold and is also packing a smaller gun, so what the hell?

92:45: and then Killian gets jammed into one of those rocket cars and shot into a tube in a way that kills him, and somehow this frees society. and then EVERYONE, from the poorest to the richest, start celebrating simultaneously. really, truly not joking about this. not even one rich guy appears to be thinking “i imagine this revolution will affect my finances.” whatever, it’s time to make out with your new girlfriend, Arnold. cue the awkward 1980s closing music!

Arnold and Maria, together at last
something in your eyes just told me that this nightmare would end … and i have found a friend

seriously, this song talks about new starts and restless hearts and rolling the dice and no pain, no gain. it’s the perfect ending to this mess.

the only real downside is that i didn’t make my sibling pose for a picture in the “clap if you love … DYNAMO” shirt that i bought her. oh well, now that she owns such a classy piece of clothing, such things are inevitable!

Peter Manoogian’s number one movie of all time Eliminators

…or at least, the trailer, anyway. you see, earlier today, i was reading an internet posting about BJ “the Prodigy” Penn and his preparations for his upcoming fight with Diego “the Nightmare” Sanchez. it’s all pretty straightforward stuff — Penn thinks Diego is weird, not crazy; Penn’s hand speed is supposedly looking fantastic; and so on — until it revealed that Penn declared the movie “Eliminators” the “number one movie of all time.” you know, the movie with “the droid” where “the ninja guy jumps through the fan”; how could you not remember it in such a glowing light as Penn does? and he doesn’t seem to be joking, although maybe he is and i’m not picking up on it. i’m not really a big BJ Penn fan.

luckily for me, however, the website that mentioned this story to me was helpful enough to track down a trailer for said movie and post it, and now that i have watched it, i can think of nothing better to write this week’s update about. it has consumed my mind. so let’s not beat around the bush any further:

00:07: this “hidden fortress” is located in some kind of “impenetrable jungle” that doesn’t even seem to figure in the shots around said fortress. now, i have seen a couple of movies featuring “impenetrable jungles” before, and while it’s true that they were mostly mondo films like Cannibal Holocaust and Last Cannibal World (please don’t judge my film library) where natives eventually killed and ate the interloping Europeans, there WAS also prominent jungle shown in all of them. i’m just saying.

00:20: i’m not sure if they are building the “mandroid” or fixing the mandroid or why we’re even calling him a mandroid and not a cyborg. i suppose this is that particular mad scientist’s catchphrase.

00:30: so i guess the plot is that this scientist (“Abbott Reeves,” a solid villain name) wants to have the mandroid dismantled and thus “he must be eliminated.” that being said, why is it that mad doctors always create something that crushes all that stand in its path and then want to dismantle it? can an incredible old man and his Asian assistant really stop the might of a mandroid?

00:32: team member one (“Nora Hunter”) is apparently some kind of genius lady mechanic. well, she dresses like a doctor, but she calls herself a mechanic. for you nerds out there, this role is apparently played by Denise Crosby, possibly better known as Lieutenant Tasha Yar on Star Trek: the Next Generation. this is also the second time i have pointed out TNG alumni in a running diary.

00:38: team member two (“Harry Fontana,” the “river rat”) stops some pursing speedboats with the slowest, most terrible use of an oil drum that explodes when shot with a pistol. AND THIS IS IN THE TRAILER! you know, the thing that’s meant to bedazzle you into seeing the film? ugh.

00:53: team member three (“Kuji”) is apparently a ninja, presumably “the ninja guy [that] jumps through the fan” that Penn was talking about. at this point, i shouldn’t really be surprised by random shit appearing in this trailer, although i cannot fathom how he actually enters the story. like, okay, the mandroid needs the mechanic and they need the river rat to penetrate the jungle. but where does the ninja come in?

00:58: this is an incredibly awkward scene of a ninja on a raft fighting two dudes on another raft while the REST of the “Eliminators” don’t seem to be helping. wow.

01:03: team member four (“the Mandroid”) appears to be half-tank now. RIDICULOUS. he is also “more machine than man,” a fact rendered completely not surprising when he drove out of a tunnel in half-tank form. apparently “his special powers will determine whether or not they survive,” and these special powers appear to be “driving down steps” and “shooting a laser.”

01:11: THIS ROBOT IS AWESOME

mandroid and awesome robot
to be redundant: THIS ROBOT IS AWESOME

01:12: okay, so Fontana says “we got robots, we got cavemen, we got kung fu. what is this, anyway?” as a montage of images rolls. it shows that awesome robot for “robots” and Kuji for “kung fu.” and yet it shows the mandroid for “cavemen” despite the fact that footage of cavemen was CLEARLY used earlier in the trailer. sorry i didn’t mention those cavemen, but that’s who was on the other raft (AKA “two dudes”).

01:29: …and apparently we’ve wandered into a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark for no reason that i can understand, what with the plot being to eliminate a mad doctor and all.

01:32: once they reach their destination, they face “the most awesome power on earth.” unless something’s happened to the mad doctor, it appears to be a random dude in some weird futuristic Roman armor carrying a shield who destroys a fountain with a laser pistol. yeah.

01:40: absolutely awful mandroid action sequence. it’s my understanding that the actor who played it (Patrick Reynolds) didn’t get much work after this film.

01:50: this is the part that actually made me laugh the hardest. so after the mandroid lasers it up and Kuji ninja-attacks some dudes, the announcer declares “it will take all their combined skills to defeat him” (leading me to guess the mad doctor WAS upgraded in some way) … and then we see Fontana and Nora rapidly firing lever-action rifles. it was just so absurd that i had to laugh.

01:55: “each one is the ultimate specialist in his field.” so that’s what, mechanical engineering, river navigation, ninja tactics and … being a mandroid?

ELIMINATORS
again: being a mandroid is a specialty? ridiculous

02:03: the mandroid awkwardly drives through a wall he shot open as the announcer declares “together, they are the Eliminators.” there is no way this can be the best movie of all time.

or is there? well, i couldn’t wait to purchase it to mock it, so i’m just going to let all you fine people out there on the internet be the judge of that. get back to me with your reviews of the film when you can.

Gordon Parks Jr’s action masterpiece Three The Hard Way

so, some time back my sibling gave me a copy of a film i’d been looking to add to my collection for some time: the 1974 action/blaxploitation film Three The Hard Way, which has a ridiculously awesome title and a ridiculous cast (Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, and Jim Kelly) and which i know to be, well, ridiculous. and it occurred to me that there’s a solid chance that as many people on the internet might not have seen it and/or heard of the insanity containing within it… well, it’d make for a solid “running diary” film for this here website (as opposed to my long-promised RoboCop 2 running diary). so here we go!

preparatory information: well, i’ll just let Wikipedia sum this one up for you. “A white supremacist and his fascist sect plan to poison the United States water supply. The water supplies of the cities of Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles are targeted. The toxin will not harm whites, only African-Americans, and the agent is lethal. Protagonists Jim Brown, Jim Kelly, and Fred Williamson attempt to foil the evil plot by any means necessary.” it’s also directed by Gordon Parks Jr, whose father directed Shaft and who himself directed Super Fly. what a crazy family. what’s not immediately obvious for those of you without this DVD is that the back of the case has a wicked collage of photos of Jim Kelly.

00:00:00: and with that, this film jumps off into some weirdly-scored prison (and by prison, i think i mean “motel with armed guards”) sequence that features some absolutely unnecessary freeze-frame-and-odd-sound moments. or, to put it another way, “freeze the shot as this guy’s handing over a plate of food and then throw in a weird musical cue” moments.

00:02:48: and there’s a “dramatic” escape that gets the plot rolling or something (with all due respect, you know how tenuous these concepts can be in a blaxploitation film)… which starts with a guy using a crowbar to break through a door with GLASS WINDOWS. huh. then he finds evidence of this plot and awkwardly bludgeons one of the white supremacists and gets into an awkward gunfight; i admit that seems like an lot of “awkwards,” but really, watch this and you’ll see that they’re appropriate. also, as a gun nerd aside, i should note there’s a lot of M1 carbines going on already, so that’s nice.

eh, Three The Hard Way
seriously, with a title like that, this title sequence should have been a lot more awesome

00:06:35: so we finally get the credits sequence, and man, is this credit sequence incredibly inappropriate. this is an action movie, right? so why is the theme song a slow love ballad (“Wendy”)? why are we watching footage of Jim Brown romancing a woman in a playful fashion? why is this sequence so long? meanwhile, Brown’s collars are a monument to 1970s ridiculousness.

00:09:35: Jim Brown (Jimmy Lait) has his friend brought to him by these two white kids that were forced to drive him a great distance (“all night,” anyway); if i recall my blaxploitation correctly, Dolomite once did a similar thing to a guy in one of his movies, so i guess this is one of those staples of the genre.

00:14:06: Jim Brown leaves his girl behind with his friend to go to a recording session for the Impressions. seriously, this happens. and again, it’s not brief: the Impressions sing half a song (“That’s What Love Will Do”) complete with close-ups for each of them, after which Brown is unnecessarily harsh and the Impressions unnecessarily foul (i guess even R&B singers have to look tough sometimes). side note: the Impressions are not one of those groups where everyone is good-looking. not at all.

00:17:01: pointless twist: white dudes use one of those maintenance trucks with a cherry-picker to kill Jim Brown’s friend and then abduct Brown’s girl, which begs the question “why not shoot them both?” i mean, okay, we all know it’s to further the plot, but still, in terms of the ridiculous universe the events of this film exist in, it makes no sense.

cars exploding for no reason, part one
there is really no call for the explosion in question

00:21:28: Jim Brown is attacked by two white dudes driving cars in a parking garage, which immediately gets insane as Brown fires a massive revolver at them while never reloading while ALSO never shooting either driver on one of the occasions he’s draped across one of their hoods; on the top level, however, he manages to shoot them and cause them to drive off the roof … whereupon one of the two cars also EXPLODES as it drives off the roof, for reasons that are not adequately explained. and this whole sequence takes less time than that Impressions recording session.

00:22:38: the white dudes take Jim Brown’s girl to a suburban hideout where the villain’s name is revealed to be “Monroe Feather.” seriously, there’s something about the quality of a villain’s name that relates directly to the quality of the movie, and in this case, things aren’t looking good.

00:24:53: Chicago and/or Fred Williamson get much better introductory music than Jim Brown did; i assume this is the reason why Brown “playfully” assaults Williamson as a method of greeting him inside his apartment. Williamson, as “Jagger Daniels,” clearly also has the superior fake name and seems to think that “Chicago soul food” will solve all of Brown’s problems, problems that include an abducted lady and a complicated white supremacist plot.

00:28:55: note to the 5-foot-nothing white supremacist henchman: you attempting to throw Jim Brown in front of a train is the worst assassination idea ever, and it’s just going to result in Brown using said train to kill you and then, it would seem, a complicated foot chase. i’m not even going to dignify the “shooting gallery” pun that occurs with a remark. well, not with more of a remark than that one.

00:31:16: a huge shoot-out breaks out with a swarm of white dudes, which begs the question: why even attempt to push Jim Brown to death when you could have just shot him? although in fairness, all the white dudes do get kind of mowed down in this shoot-out, so it’s not like any of the ideas these goons are bringing to the table are THAT guaranteed to work.

Jim 'the Dragon' Kelly in action
this is probably my favorite ridiculous kick in the film, but without the accompanying crazy noise, it cannot truly be appreciated

00:33:00: Jim Kelly (“Mister Keyes”) is introduced with what i can only assume is an attempt to plant drugs in his car by the cops; unluckily for them, Kelly is highly-skilled when it comes to wrecking cops with karate attacks (as these cops would know if they’d watched Enter The Dragon). i did not fully realize, however, the weirdness of the noises that Kelly makes when karate attacking cops, especially when those noises are played in slow-motion. Brown and Williamson materialize right as this fight is ending (how convenient), and they all have a good laugh… and that’s how we learn we’ve traveled to New York.

00:37:46: we’re investigating a warehouse for some reason? and now another gunfight is breaking out? there’s been absolutely NO explanation of how we got here or what’s going on, but at least we get a sequence of Jim Kelly holding a guy while people shoot him, which is just unsafe.

00:39:24: there’s a dramatically-scored sequence where a trio of bikers clad in red, white and blue (respectively) cruise through the streets of the city. if i’d been directing this film, this is time i would have used to explain what the hell was going on with that warehouse shoot-out. that said, these bikers are apparently a trio of ladies that interrogate people for Fred Williamson.

man, don't ask
whatever you do, Jim Kelly, DON’T ASK WHAT’S IN THE BAG

00:42:31: as further proof that we’re currently in the middle of a blaxploitation film, these ladies have their shirts off already. i’m getting the impression they’re dominatrices (really? that’s the plural of “dominatrix?”) of some creepy sort, although this white dude ends up looking mysteriously untouched for a guy who’s supposedly been tortured into submission.

00:46:31: well, according to this white supremacist plot, apparently, if you want to kill all blacks in the US with a poison, you need only poison the water supplies of Washington DC, Los Angeles and Detroit. never mind the part where Chicago and New York have been the locales for all the action involving black guys so far, i guess.

00:50:49: based on the music accompanying this scene, Monroe Feather and his evil white supremacist doctor seem to be having a bit of a romantic interlude.

cars exploding for no reason, part two
at this point, i have no business being surprised by the notion of this truck exploding for no reason

00:53:58: an incredibly awkward attempt to kill Jim Brown by running over a phone booth with him in it (seriously) results in him somehow surviving, climbing over the dump truck, throwing one goon out and then leaping off the truck, causing the other to drive it into a billboard… which somehow explodes, of course. i guess that saves Los Angeles?

00:58:50: still more proof that we’re currently in the middle of a blaxploitation film: Fred Williamson is totally getting laid in Detroit for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, though it’s funny for Williamson to ditch the girl by telling her he has work to do. you had that work to do before you sexed her up, Fred!

01:01:03: if there’s anything i have learned from this film, it’s that Fred Williamson can cause cars to flip over ridiculously like no other man before him; in this case he accomplishes it by nudging the rear of said car with his own car. he then proceeds to shoot some white dudes (excellent), get into a violent car chase that DOESN’T make any cars flip, but which does save Los Angeles, and shoot more white dudes (still excellent).

karate in motion
ATTENTION HENCHMEN: this is the part where the team of you guys with guns are supposed to shoot Jim Kelly

01:04:36: as soon as the heavily-armed strike team of white dudes began to pour out of their cars, i thought to myself “i guess this is where Jim Kelly beats another pile of guys up using kicks and zany noises.” but he also uses ninja ropes and his Asian assistant “Link” in addition to those kicks (and actually, i think his assistant beats most of the guys up).

01:09:15: to be perfectly honest, at this point i don’t even know what Jim Brown is doing or where he is. i thought he already saved Los Angeles, although i admit that doesn’t mean it’s still not fun to beat the shit out of some white supremacists past that point.

01:11:14: tragically, Jim Brown’s happy-go-lucky assistant is killed while trying to protect Brown from a random white dude Brown forgot to beat up. it’s sad, but luckily the accompanying scream(s) of them falling to their death(es) are so ridiculous as to cheer you up.

01:12:27: Jim Brown avenges his friend (or friends, really) by shooting the hell out of a lot of white dudes, several of which choose to turn and run and be shot in the back rather than shooting back at Brown with the guns IN THEIR HANDS. the idiocy of this is redeemed by the theatrical death of a guy who goes flying off the top of a dam. also, NOW Los Angeles is saved. finally!

Jim Brown
if there’s one thing we should all know by now, it’s this: don’t fuck with Jim Brown

01:17:32: wow, there is NOTHING on the face of the planet as lame as this white supremacist party. and Monroe Feather, let me just tell you this: when you earlier declared that “no power on earth can stop us now,” you were basically begging god to have Fred Williamson (or Jim Brown or whoever) punch you in the face as hard as they possibly can.

01:20:44: not really sure why Jim Kelly took his shirt off… but i’m sure he has his reasons. he also makes the same crazy noises as before when he’s a) killing guys with knives or b) setting off alarms and thus negating the entire purpose of their stealthy entry.

01:22:11: apparently, Jim Brown’s submachine gun fires tiny missiles. because the way this house seems to EXPLODE when he shoots at it, there is no better explanation.

01:24:08: WHY ARE ALL THESE GUYS ON THE ROOF

mad scientist
mad scientists are never long for this world

01:24:49: apparently, our mad scientist’s “lab” is actually a restaurant’s kitchen. oh, and if you shoot a gun in there, he will immediately be lit on fire.

01:25:59: at least this time when the jeeps explode, it’s explained either a) Jim Brown shooting “explosive” rounds into it or b) Jim Brown doing something mysterious to it that causes sparks and explodes the villain? also, apparently Fred Williamson is a bad enough dude to dodge a hail of bullets being fired into a jeep in which he is fist-fighting three henchmen.

01:27:37: now we’re just blowing up random sedans from a van with hand grenades like this is the A-Team or something. seriously, that’s the conclusion: “finishing it” after the villain’s killed by blowing up everyone’s cars.

really, the most ridiculous thing about this film is this: it’s only 89 minutes long, and yet you could probably trim another 15 unnecessary minutes off it. or, even better, use that 15 minutes to make some additional sense out of the film we got. but the song “Three The Hard Way” is pretty excellent.

Michael Winner’s crime masterpiece Death Wish 3: a running diary

the other night i once again caught a portion of Death Wish 3 on some cable channel (Death Wish 3 is always playing on some channel SOMEWHERE at any given moment of the day) and it reminded me that while i rip on this movie all the time, i have yet to do so on the internet, so why not give it the “running diary” treatment? after all, i’ve done this in the past with a certain awesome film involving a dwarf, so why not apply it to a movie most everyone my age is familiar with and which i can only describe as an acid-enhanced Reagan-era nightmare about “what our cities will soon be like if we don’t DO SOMETHING FAST.” (and apparently that something fast involves Charles Bronson.)

so i proceeded to purchase the DVD of this fine, fine film, while making my excuses to the clerk that this was all for research (though i doubt he believed me), and now it’s time to fire up another bottle of Van Gogh and do this thing! maybe next time i’ll do one of these for RoboCop 2, though that might be taking too far upward a step in terms of “film quality.”

preparatory information: Michael Winner directed the first two of these films, but they never got as crazy as they’re about to get here. all you really need to know going in is that everyone close to Charles Bronson – Paul Kersey here in the Death Wish series – gets brutalized and thus forces him to kill criminals, and he’ll do the latter in Death Wish 3 repeatedly. the only two things i’d add are that a) he doesn’t actually kill the people who kill his wife and rape his daughter in the first film, and b) his daughter gets raped AGAIN in the second film after she gets out of the hospital, causing her suicide. now THAT is a lot of rape.

00:00:00: i notice that the back of the DVD case claims Kersey brings to the table “guns, knives – and even a bazooka” and realize that this is not accurate, as there’s no bazooka in the movie at all (more on this later). i am already annoyed with this awesome film!

eh, Death Wish 3
i apologize in advance for the black bars on the sides of these photos; apparently my DVD is formatted to fit my television

00:01:08: okay, the juxtaposition of the soundtrack with the words “DEATH WISH 3” are almost too much; this is one of those little things you miss when you’re always coming into the middle of the film. and really, this whole credits sequence is weird: shots of guys working on bridge construction? how last minute was the filming of this? “oh, shit, we need something that screams New York, get out there with your camcorder!”

00:03:17: there’s a very multicultural, weirdly-dressed gang here; you’ll be seeing a LOT of said gang. but here we also have Alex Winter waving around a bicycle chain. why does that name seem familiar? because four years later he was Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. and then, after that movie’s sequel… nothing. and yet, Keanu Reeves continues to have a career. it’s weird how things work out sometimes, but then again, Keanu also had the good sense to avoid Death Wish 3. also, when you see how war-torn this neighborhood is later in the film, it will make NO SENSE why this gang has a member function as a lookout.

Alex Winter in deep concentration
yeah, we’d better make sure and destroy this guy’s furniture to make sure the rest of the civilians learn their lesson!

00:04:27: 24 years later, i STILL can’t figure out why Alex Winter is attacking this couch while his friends beat up this old man (who is the friend Charles Bronson has come into town to visit). you can also note the terrible “gang symbol” inked on the heads of these guys. they’re kind of like MS-13, only without the balls it takes to get REAL tattoos, you know?

00:07:05: there’s an awkward police interrogation sequence here; it’s like they want to give the impression they’re hurting Bronson without accidentally hurting him due to his age. then they offer him water … and then tell him he can’t have it! oh, the kinder, gentler days of the 1980s prior to all this water boarding and naked prisoner stacking, how i miss you!

00:10:50: so after Bronson beats up a fat guy with what appears to be a bluebird tattooed on his face (i can’t make this shit up), he shares a brief eye-fuck with the man who’ll be the main villain of this film and who also rocks the most ridiculous reverse mohawk of all time. and if it wasn’t for the dramatic music in the background, this sequence would come off a lot more homoerotic than it does currently. this will also lead to yet another super-awkward beating for Bronson later when the villain “wants to move on” him.

00:15:06: okay, at this point in the film, there’s a great shot of this poster that declares “WANTED By The New York City Police Department: HORSES.” sure, i bet it’s supposedly about mounted policemen… but i prefer to think that the NYPD suspects horses in general of some criminal conspiracy. i know i would lock them all up if i had the chance. anyway, Bronson is now working for the police as a vigilante or something, who knows.

DDE on the wall
Charles Bronson is simply OUTRAGED at hearing about all this street crime in NYC, so you KNOW someone is going to get shot before this is all over

00:22:46: i really like how this old guy (a friend of Bronson’s friend) keeps a random picture of Dwight Eisenhower hanging on his wall; it reminds me of my grandfather, who keeps a random picture of George Washington on his wall. i really need to get a presidential picture for one of my walls; maybe something in a Harding?

00:30:31: we have our first sighting of a gang member wearing a fishnet shirt; yeah, the gang apparel here is all over the map, but a fishnet shirt? i don’t care how tough you are, i don’t care how tough your gang is, i don’t even care if you’re about to chop up a guy with an axe (and that happens shortly after this scene): it’s NEVER okay to be the gang member in the fishnet shirt.

00:37:45: our villain (who is named Fraker) proves to be the gift that keeps on giving: aside from his nonsensical face-painting and reverse mohawk, here he’s rocking a skin-tight hoodie, a ridiculous eagle’s-head belt buckle, and a necklace that i can only describe as “confusing.” add to that the fact that he’s not exactly the most physically imposing guy out there (i guess he’s a little on the tall side, but that’s about it) and you’ve got yourself a classic 1980s movie villain!

.475 Wildey Magnum
there is absolutely no way you can convince me that this sequence isn’t in the movie as an advertisement

00:42:00: Bronson’s “friend Wildey” arrives, proving to be a .475 Wildey Magnum, an odd choice of powerful handgun, and he then launches into a dissertation on the firearm to a room full of citizens (he mentions “real stopping power,” he compares it to the .44 Magnum, and so on) that leads me to believe someone paid Michael Winner to add an advertisement for the Wildey Magnum into the movie; there’s simply no other explanation. well, that, or the scriptwriter was John Milius writing under a pen name, trying to get himself more guns, but i doubt it. he’s not that bad of a writer.

00:43:45: Marina Sirtis (yes, Star Trek nerds, THAT Marina Sirtis) is abducted and gang raped while picking up some groceries late at night. this is about the third time in the movie trouble has kicked off during her grocery shopping; i don’t mean to blame the victim here, but maybe she should at least consider doing her shopping during daytime hours? well, she dies of her injuries, so this is a moot point.

00:48:00: Bronson finally uses the Wildey (he shot a couple of guys earlier in the film for messing with his car, to be fair, but that was with his .38) on the one criminal who’s always snatching purses, the Giggler (yes, we know, this gang is officially lame). and then there’s a really awkward celebration as an old lady starts dancing in the street and a bunch of people start clapping. god, i love this movie!

00:49:21: …and now i hate it again, because Bronson’s busy having an awkward 1980s-era date with that public defender wherein we learn that the public defender is emotional, loves sports and possibly approves of vigilantes. do i detect a love match?

Bronson with flowers
fighting the good fight against crime with… a flowerpot

00:55:45: Bronson hurls a flowerpot at a goon who’s chasing him (named the Cuban, no less) thanks to a “clever” trap and then leaps through the window of a man who’s clearly wearing a beret while reading a newspaper in bed (and who seems undisturbed by EITHER man climbing through said window, be they Bronson or the man chasing him). oh, Death Wish 3, i couldn’t make up stuff like this if i tried. even better, the whole scene ends with the use of a terrible dummy effect and Bronson skipping away.

01:01:29: thankfully, yet another awkward romantic scene between Bronson and the public defender results only in IMPLIED sex, and not anything i have to see on screen. if there’s one thing i don’t want to have to see, it’s younger women going through the motions of simulated sex with wrinkly old men. or, hell, any sex that involves old people. or any sex in movies, period. let’s get back to the nice, clean violence already!

01:03:52: …and we do, with the overly-complicated demise of Bronson’s love interest. because it’s much easier to punch someone in the face and roll their car into traffic than it is to, you know, just shoot them. we also have his friend Bennett’s shop exploding and said friend attempting to attack a gang of youths with an MG-42. granted, the latter plan goes awry and results in the old man’s beating, but all it makes me think is “boy, i wish someone brought ME home some machine guns from a war.”

01:09:23: Bronson returns home (after sneaking out of protective custody) to pick up a machine gun and what will prove to be a LAW anti-tank weapon (this is what the DVD case erroneously claimed to be a “bazooka”). this raises some questions, such as “who asks for one anti-tank weapon when feuding with a gang?” and “if crime is so rampant, why haven’t people burglarized Bronson or his old friend’s apartments and stolen their poorly-hidden guns?” also, “why is Bronson’s friend Rodriguez so chipper when his wife was raped and incidentally killed only days ago?”

Mandy Fraker
WORST.VILLAIN.EVER. well, okay, he’s actually still not as bad as the guy from Commando, but come on… Mandy?

01:10:13: while calling for backup (no, i can’t tell you WHO he’s calling for gangland backup, because it’s never explained and it probably wouldn’t make sense if it was), Fraker inadvertently reveals that his full name is “Mandy Fraker.” he is seriously a weak, shoddy villain with absolutely no fashion sense. that being said, i think his leopard statue in this scene is turbo-cool.

01:10:56: Bronson’s friend Rodriguez declares “all i’ve got is a zip gun.” this is what i refer to when i joke about how the last time a zip gun was used by anyone, it was in Death Wish 3. also, it occurs to me that Bronson has a .38 he hasn’t used in many scenes that he COULD pass on to his buddy… but no, he lets him rock the zip gun for the upcoming action scenes. weak. though he does later use the .38 again, so i guess he had that in mind when he declined to share.

01:11:50: …and the final act of Death Wish 3 is kicked off by Bronson shooting up a crowd of gang members with a machine gun. which makes me wonder why the bikers Fraker called in to “put some heat in my area” didn’t bring, you know, a couple of GUNS with them, because attacking Bronson and his machine gun with rocks and bats seems… well, ill-advised. this machine-gun attack also sparks a montage of random citizens getting out their guns. and as i watch Bronson blazing away with this Browning machine gun, i REFUSE to believe Winner is taking himself seriously at this point.

01:17:00: there’s some VERY gratuitous nudity at this point that always gets edited out when you’re watching this film on cable; actually, in retrospect, i’m impressed how well they manage to remove it.

01:18:15: okay, someone tell me the reason this cop car explodes. yes, i know it’s near a fire, but come on, we all know it explodes for NO REASON AT ALL.

01:18:58: CITIZENS FIGHT BACK! or, at least, they begin to. this will culminate in a scene later where a woman shrieks like a banshee and knocks a man out of her house’s second story with a broom. i am pretty sure said broom attack kills him, but we’ll have to confirm this later. this vigilante spree also results in a burning woman being shot by our main villain, which is pretty ridiculous in its own right, so it’s getting mentioned here.

01:20:20: Bronson’s friend Rodriguez, who vanished after their machine gun ran out of ammo some time back, miracles into the scene to shoot a guy with that zip gun and save Bronson. i take back everything negative i ever said about that zip gun. but just so the universe doesn’t come unhinged, Bronson immediately saves Rodriguez from a jam.

Richard Shriker
if i was ever to front a rock band, i would make this one of our album covers; said album would be called “Shriker Owed You That One, Dude”

01:21:50: Bronson’s cop friend Shriker returns to save him by shooting Bill or Alex Winter or whoever as he’s about to ambush Bronson. (what is it with all these deus ex machina moments?) Shriker declares “i owed you that one, dude” (he says “dude” a LOT in this movie) and a ridiculous arcade-game-style shoot-’em-up sequence ensues. when they separate, Shriker is attacked with Molotov cocktails and poses for the awesome grimace i commemorate above. seriously, it would be the best album cover ever.

01:23:25: the aforementioned crazy broom attack occurs. seriously, who needs a gun when you can bludgeon people into submission and/or death with your broom?

01:24:30: finally, the climatic battle between Bronson and Fraker occurs (though, watching Fraker steal in through Bronson’s bathroom window makes me wonder what happened to his nail-based booby-trap from earlier in the film); Fraker is gunned down, but a bulletproof vest allows him to recover and get the jump on Bronson and Shriker (with a Browning Hi-Power no less, meaning this villain is at least a tad respectable). so Bronson kills him with… that LAW. in a small, enclosed room, with no damage to anyone other than Fraker. yeah… it’s fucking stupid. but hey, it’s Death Wish 3! that’s how it goes!

01:25:58: also, i nominate this dude in the red shirt as “worst looking gang member not currently wearing a fishnet shirt.” he just looks so out-of-place.

01:26:41: and with that, Bronson stalks off into the sunset (while Shriker said he would “buy him a few minutes,” he apparently used that time to pack and change his clothes). and with most people in New York having been killed by now, it’s mission accomplished, roll credits.

so there you have it: Death Wish 3. i’m not sure i really recommend it (or any other movie in the series, for that matter), but if you really want to see Charles Bronson kill the most awkwardly-dressed gang NOT featured in the Warriors… hey, knock yourself out!

George Lucas’ fantasy masterpiece Willow: a running diary

okay, no more putting off the inevitable: as alluded to last time, it’s time for that running diary of Willow. i remember seeing this film in the theater as a child, subsequently reading the novelization (and yet, note that i found those Lord of the Rings books too boring to read around the same time) and enjoying both, at least to the extent that i don’t recall hating them in the way i, say, recall hating Legend. even as a youth, my hatred for Tom Cruise was finely honed.

ANYWAY, some decades passed and last summer, my sibling told me that my birthday gift would be something so awesome that, and i quote, “i wouldn’t know how i managed to live without it.” it turned out that this referred to a DVD of Willow (there was another gift as well, but that was the “awesome” part); one year later, i’m now about to watch this DVD twice in 13 days with a little help from my dear friends Stolichnaya and Vincent Van Gogh (uh, the vodka, not, you know, that psycho painter). so let’s get this thing going!

preparatory information: this movie happened because George Lucas couldn’t film a version of the Hobbit (millions of Tolkein fanboys and guys named Del Toro having breathed sighs of relief without knowing why); also, apparently a trilogy would have followed this movie if it had done well at the book office, so i guess we should be grateful that THAT didn’t go down. and now, on with the film.

00:00:00: i am once again reminded how annoying the DVD case that Willow comes in is to operate. i mean, look, i am not blaming alcohol; i happen to think this particular case is extra annoying. whatever, don’t judge me. on with the movie!

eh, Willow
if this was my production to do with whatever i chose, i would have been tempted to make this read “eh, WILLOW; it could have been better with some effort”

00:00:18: seriously, these opening screens of dramatic words are WAY too much for a film called “Willow” that involves a magical dwarf saving the world from, i presume, all that evil. Star Wars was not kind to your production skills beyond the special effects stuff, Lucas.

00:02:47: uh… where did all this snow come from? how far did this woman supposedly walk? i guess this is the kind of thing that makes people say “hey, why are you taking these fantasy movies so goddamn seriously.” i’ll try to calm down here. also, don’t forget, guys, our villain Queen Bavmorda wants to kill “tiny, helpless babies,” so that means she’s EXTRA evil.

00:06:13: we’re introduced to our tiny hero Willow who, while supposedly showing us he’s hilarious and compassionate, has really just proven to me that he’s an irresponsible farmer. also, related fact: Burglekutt (Mark Northover) is just about the ugliest dwarf ever.

00:09:51: Willow’s farm is filled with goats? AWESOME.

dwarfs as far as the eye can see
this is where i should make some cheesy joke about their sizes being small, but their love of life being large or something; my heart is not in it

00:10:00: according to the internet, Willow is noted for “employing more dwarfs than any film in years” and for casting Warwick Davis in the lead (though, frankly, i think the latter is debatable with Val Kilmer soaking up all that screen time). the former is IMMEDIATELY apparent once we get to the village scene. also, movie connection: Billy Barty, who plays the High Aldwin, also played Noodles MacIntosh in UHF, another film my sister won’t let me stop owning and watching.

00:14:55: wow, a pile of dwarfs versus some devil dogs does NOT make for a good fight scene. it’s just… awkward. but at least Lucas confirmed this back in the day so that the Lord of the Rings movies wouldn’t make the same mistake.

00:23:23: awesome, a totally unnecessary baby vomit joke that, i assume, somewhat competent director Ron Howard wanted to remove, but was then ORDERED to leave in by George Lucas. i hate you so much, George Lucas. also, it occurs to me that Bavmorda takes very inconsistent stances on the prophecies that mean so much to her.

00:27:13: ah, Val Kilmer finally enters the scene as Madmartigan. though he is, on a personal level, probably totally insane, he has what i would call “screen presence.” actually, i would sort of give him more credit for doing a competent job here with this shit material as opposed to, say, in Tombstone. because it’s not like Doc Holiday could have been awesome in MANY actors’ hands.

Willow, great sorcerer
Warwick Davis performing all that magic that he studied so hard in preparation for this classic film

00:30:00: since Willow’s claiming to be a powerful sorcerer, this is probably a good time to point out that, according to iMDB’s movie trivia, “in preparation for the movie, Warwick Davis had to learn a modified accent, how to take care of a baby, how to ride a horse, how to sword fight, and how to perform magic.” okay, the first four, maybe (though i don’t remember how much of riding and fighting he does), but “perform magic?” it’s a FANTASY MOVIE; no one is casting actual spells! you wave your hands and say some shit and George Lucas makes the magic happen! literally, in this case.

00:33:27: at this point, i will tell you that if you’d read the novelization like SOME of us have, you’d know there was back story that makes this conversation between Madmartigan and Airk make sense. also, i do NOT recommend that you read the novelization.

00:37:37: “welcome back, boys! you deserve MEDALS!” this so should have been a catchphrase.

00:38:51: why, say hello to a shining example of terrible 1980s-era special effects! cutting Willow free, i think, is the king of the terrible effect shots in this film. also, why do these brownies have outrageous French accents? why is semi-respected actor Kevin Pollack being forced to play a semi-retarded French brownie? this world does not make sense to me any more! also, Willow’s quest gets more complicated or something; foreshadowing the need for Madmartigan to rejoin him is now firmly established.

00:42:45: it might not be the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but it remains awkward when tiny fantasy people share emotional hugs.

Val Kilmer, looking more feminine than usual
oh, yeah, i get it, it’s very funny because he’s a man, but he’s dressed like a woman, and this leads to misunderstandings!

00:44:20: thanks to Kevin Pollack’s poor decisions, Willow ends up in a boisterous human bar, complete with Madmartigan transitioning from drag queen to awkward fantasy fight machine and yet another unnecessary interlude involving faerie love dust. the drag queen thing and the faerie dust are yet more HILARIOUS ideas that i blame completely on the mind of one George Lucas.

00:48:27: side note: Joanne Whalley’s armor is way too big for her tiny little body. she’s adorable when she dresses like a grown-up!

01:02:00: oh, i see, it turns out that this sorceress or whatever that this band of misfits has been looking for has been trapped in the body of an opossum. luckily for all involved, bullshit wizards like this don’t get to have wizard duels. also, it DOES make it convenient to stuff them in a bag when you’re evil and you capture all our heroes (DRAMA).

01:06:37: back in the snow again? seriously, where are all these people transitioning to that it requires journeys through mountains filled with snow? though it DOES make the upcoming escape scene convenient… also, that fucking faerie dust that was SO funny the first time makes another appearance. LUCAS!

01:16:53: if i might quote Madmartigan immediately after his ridiculous shield-as-sled ride: “love Sorsha? i don’t love her, she kicked me in the face! i hate her!” all i have to say about that line is, guys, use this when referring to all your ladies IMMEDIATELY. but maybe don’t call them Sorsha when you do it.

Madmartigan, picking up ladies in a fantasy realm
Val Kilmer denies his love for Joanne Whalley (she kicked him in the face and all); he would do this some years later in real life when their marriage dissolved

01:19:13: Madmartigan abducts Sorsha with a knife to her throat; this must have been about the time when the Kilmer-Whalley on-set romance kicked into full force. oh, yeah, repeated escapes of various sorts (heroes from villains, villain from heroes, my sanity) ensue and soon she’ll become good and turn against her mother or something, who cares.

01:24:46: you can tell when a magical city has been abandoned or cursed or whatever when, aside from some structural damage, frozen people and troll dung, the public wastebasket has been tipped over.

01:27:13: alright, fantasy heroes (including Madmartigan), here’s the deal: when someone magically becomes a goat, you don’t waste time asking them “what the hell happened to you?” because the answer is clearly “uh, i became more awesome.”

01:29:29: trivia about this “Eborsisk” two-headed dragon our heroes are fighting: because director Ron Howard couldn’t get his brother Clint Howard a role in the film (i am SO disappointed about that), the dragon is modeled to look like Clint? get the fuck out of here!

Clint Howard, in two-headed dragon form
a dragon modeled after Clint Howard; the resemblance is uncanny

01:33:28: awww, rather than kill him, Sorsha makes out a little with Madmartigan. you see, this is the kind of shit that makes me not watch movies. well, that, and these shitty brownies showing up YET AGAIN. Kevin Pollack, you were so much better in Casino. also, villains escape with the stolen baby or something, whatever.

01:37:25: when our hero army goes to confront the villains, they’re all turned to pigs by some random, nondescript “wizard spell.” meanwhile, Willow has protected himself with some random, nondescript “wizard spell.” okay, so, maybe this is the D&D fan in me, but seriously, would it kill a fantasy movie to have a reasonable system of spells? maybe just one little lightning bolt? also, i wish a magical goat would give ME useful advice.

01:42:40: “in my village, we have a lot of gophers.” or, in other words, this is the part of the movie where the humble, folksy wisdom of Willow saves the day for all these stupid giant humans with their stupid human plans. good times! in fairness, though, i think this kind of scene is always mandatory when dwarfs or hobbits or whatever cruise around with humans soaking up insults all day long.

01:46:00: shockingly, Willow’s genius plan works (even though, as far as i can tell, Madmartigan wasn’t actually hidden from view and they sort of didn’t really fight the villains that rushed out of the castle, who fled instead of, say, yelling “CLOSE THE FUCKING DOOR TO THE CASTLE”). great success!

01:49:25: whoops, bullshit wizards like these DO get to have a wizard duel. terrible.

Willow, dramatic and all
seriously, i’m not sure why anyone would need powerful magic to defeat this mess

01:57:20: so we’ve just seen the big final battle between our hero Willow and the evil queen, and let me just say this: seriously, the ending to this movie is terrible. the hero didn’t even need the magic trick he used (OMG IT WORKED THIS TIME, UNLIKE IN THE VILLAGE PRIOR TO HIS ADVENTURES); he could basically have just talked shit for 60 more seconds and the same ending would have occurred. i guess she staggered into her own spell because of her outrage at Willow or something? DISAPPOINTMENT REIGNS

02:00:00: Willow returns home a great hero, blah, blah, blah. homosexual dwarf fucking is minimal (one advantage over Return of the King, anyway).

so, let me sum this film up with a note i took while watching this film the FIRST of recent times: “seriously, i am paying attention to this film and i have NO idea what’s going on. it’s like Robocop 2, but with more insanity!” what more needs to be said?