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The Disaster Artist: A Great Movie About A Bad Movie That’s Great

How’s that for a headline? Okay so this one is going to be a lot of fun to write up. I think the best place to start with this is with the film that this film is based on and just go from there.

The History

So back in 2003, two amateur writer/actor friends, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, decided to get together and make a movie and that movie was called The Room. Directed by Tommy Wiseau, produced by Tommy Wiseau, written by Tommy Wiseau and starring…wait for it…Tommy Wiseau. With Greg Sestero being the co-star.

Now I’m not going to go on about The Room here other than to say its regarded as one of the worst, if not THE worst film ever made. Often cited as being “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” and falls into that “so bad its good” sub-genre. The plot is laughable, the characters are hilarious (for all the wrong reasons), the acting is atrocious and its full of great quotable bad dialogue that has gone down in recent movie history and onto internet meme stardom…

Tearing Me Apart Lisa

See.

Anyway, after the dismal failure of the flick and after it did the rounds on the interwebs in the mid 2000s with numerous reviewers tearing the film apart worse than Lisa did to Johnny – the film eventually gained cult status and is now seen as a gloriously-bad classic. There are screenings for fans that laugh along with the awfulness of the film, even Wiseau and Sestero have been known to show up to sign autographs and hold Q&A sessions embracing the fandom too.

The Room

But before the film did gain its cult status, Greg Sestero teamed up with American journalist Tom Bissell to write a behind the scenes, non-fiction book chronicling the making of The Room and Sestero’s ‘interesting’ relationship with Wiseau. That book is called The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made (and you thought the title for this article was a mouthful) and was released in 2013. After reading and thoroughly enjoying the book, James Franco purchased the rights to the book and turned it into a film…this film right here.

Okay so now the background is filled in, onto the film itself.

The Movie

To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting too much with this one as I’m not one of those people who enjoy The Room for its awfulness – I just think its a effing terrible film. I watched it once just for curiosity’s sake and vowed never to watch it again. I have no interest in joining The Room‘s brigade of fans, ironically or otherwise. So the idea of a film about the making of a film I don’t like just didn’t appeal to me. But just last night, I decided to give it a go regardless just for ‘fun’ I guess…and I thought it was utterly brilliant.

The Disaster Artist Duo

First off, James Franco is mesmerizing as Tommy Wiseau and if you have ever seen Wiseau then you’d understand what a ‘strange’ person he is. His look, his voice and mannerisms are all captured flawlessly by Franco and there was even times while watching the flick when I wasn’t sure if Wiseau had just turned up on set and slipped himself into the film. Then playing Greg Sestero is James’ bother Dave Franco who also puts in a great performance and the siblings share an unmissable and charming chemistry on screen.

This is a ridiculous comedy film but one that is based on a real event. There are times while watching this when I had to keep reminding myself that this shit really did happen no matter how ludicrous it all gets. From Wiseau insisting they spend money to build a film set of an alleyway that is an exact replica of the alleyway outside of the place they are filming which they could use for free just because “this is a real Hollywood movie” as Wiseau says, to the filming of the awkward looking sex scene from The Room complete with J Franco/Wiseau’s butt-cheeks taking center stage. I mean, just check out the trailer…

Also featuring Seth Rogen as script supervisor of The Room who has many great lines as the man pointing out just how stupid the whole project is getting. A voice of reason in a world of madness. This film about the making of a film does a remarkable job of capturing the look and feel of The Room as specific scenes are replicated almost flawlessly. In fact at the end of this film, they show side by side comparisons between actual The Room footage and the scenes shot for The Disaster Artist, and they match up pretty damn well too. Its quite clear that J Franco had a real passion for the project as it shines through in the end product. Brilliant performances throughout in a stupidly bizarre but true story that (for me) was far more entertaining than the thing it was based on.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the real Tommy Wiseau, no one really knows who he is, where he is from, his age or anything. Check out his Wikipedia page the guy has a more secretive and complex origin than The Joker. Some people have even suggested that Wiseau is possibly a character played by an actor. Whatever secrets Tommy Wiseau has, none of them are answered in this film as J Franco plays him just as mysterious as the real man is himself. James Franco deserves any  and all awards he gets for this one, I raise a can of Red Bull to him.

With Franco as director, producer and star of The Disaster Artist – Its just a damn shame that he didn’t write the screenplay for this one as it would have mirrored real life perfectly what with The Room being directed by Tommy Wiseau, produced by Tommy Wiseau, written by Tommy Wiseau and starring Tommy Wiseau. It could’ve been perfect.

Wiseau Franco

Also stick around to the end of the credits as a very special and amusing meeting of actors.

I really wasn’t expecting much from this film at all as I’m no fan of The Room or anything connected to it. But I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying this picture from start to end. Its a comedy of errors made all the funnier by the simple fact this really happened and these people exist. Highly recommended if you want a good laugh at some very stupid people who have gone on to become much loved and respected. An underdog story with a message that even the most awful of artists can succeed…so there is hope for my writing after all.

The Disaster Artist Franco

I enjoyed this one so much that I may watch it again later.

Tommy Wiseau: “I need to show my ass to sell this picture.”

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Hellraiser: Judgment…Finally!

At the end of my Hellraiser retrospective from last Halloween, I mentioned how a tenth film in the franchise – Hellraiser: Judgment had been completed but not yet released. Well now the flick has finally been released. But the big question is, what is worth the wait?

Well seeing as I covered every film in the franchise from start to end, I guess I have to sit thought this one as well, even if just for the sake of completion. What demons (aside from Americans not being able to spell ‘judgement’ correctly) does this film hold. Is it on par with the first two films, is it a worthy sequel…or am I about to return to the depths of hell that was Hellraiser: Revelations?

Well I can’t put this off any longer so here it is.

Hellraiser: Judgment

Pinhead

From writer/director/actor Gary J. Tunnicliffe comes the tenth film in the Hellraiser movie series. Tunnicliffe is a bit if a Hellraiser veteran as he started out as a make-up artist on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth through to Hellraiser: Hellworld – so he’s been a part of the franchise for many, many years. This flick marks his first time sitting in the director’s chair but not his first writing credit in the series as he wrote the previous film Hellraiser: Revelations. So with so such a deep pedigree within Hellraiser – he must know what he’s doing right?

Okay so its synopsis time. The film starts in Hell with Pinhead (Paul T Taylor) and The Auditor (Gary J. Tunnicliffe) discussing how they can update and evolve their soul harvesting methods. Technology on Earth has evolved over the last few decades or so and humans are no longer interested in solving the puzzle boxes that open gateways to Hell.

Meanwhile on Earth, two brothers Sean (Damon Carney) and David Carter (Randy Wayne) who are detectives are investigating a series of brutal murders based on the Ten Commandments by a killer known as “The Preceptor”. They are joined by Detective Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris) and they discover links to a known criminal, Karl Watkins (Jeff Fenter) who has gone missing. While they go searching Watkins’ last known location, Sean falls unconscious and wakes in Hell to be saved by the angel Jophiel (Helena Grace Donald). Sean escapes Hell but not before taking the infamous puzzle box with him. But the Cenobites are not going to let Sean escape quite so easily.

My View

This film follows the same tradition of the last few Hellraiser sequels, that its one of those ‘straight to DVD’ pictures. So who this “The Preceptor”, the person going around killing people? Well its meant to be kept secret until an ‘unexpected’ reveal…but if you have an IQ over 4 than you’ll work it out pretty quickly – lets just say that Sean is depicted as being a detective with numerous problems…

The Auditor

Gary J. Tunnicliffe needs to stick to make-up effects – he’s amazing at those and this film does feature some truly stunning visuals as he was also the make-up effects designer for this one. There are some impressively disgusting moments that do feel very, very Hellraiser and I can not sing the praises of this film in that regard enough. But…he just can’t write or direct. The last flick, Hellraiser: Revelations was also written by Tunnicliffe and it is fucking terrible. The plot was bland and the characters were flat, just as they are here too. This is such a ‘meh’ film that I just can’t get either annoyed or excited about it.

I think the idea behind this one was to reboot the franchise and try to start anew, they even left it open for a sequel with one of those annoyingly popular posts credits scenes – but it fails on every level (aside from the effects work). I really enjoyed Paul T Taylor as the new Pinhead – he’s no Doug Bradley sure, but he’s certainly a hell of a lot better than Stephan Smith Collins from Hellraiser: Revelations. And that’s about it for anything good about this one. Its not the worst of the Hellraiser flick, not even close – but I can’t say its any good either. It’s Hellraiser: Hellworld quality, its a film that just exists when it doesn’t need to.

Pinhead: “Obsolete. Irrelevant in an age when desire has become amplified but where lust can be sated electronically. We need something more than just a wooden box.”


The franchise has two options from this point. Either just let it die (please no more sequels), its been on its last legs for decades now and needs to be put down. Or just let Clive Barker back in. He wanted to remake his original a few years back but the studio didn’t think that was a good idea – but green-lit all the terrible sequels since then?

This film was bad and I feel a little depressed after going through the whole franchise. But I do have one big reason to celebrate…I have no more Hellraiser films to watch and my Hellraiser retrospective is complete!

Tear Apart

Comic Book Film Fans Have Short Memories

There’s no doubt that the comic book movie genre is big business right now, what with both DC and Marvel creating their own shared universes on the big screen all with multiple films featuring interconnecting stories and characters. Then there are all the animated movies and TV shows and so on…

They seem to the the big trend film-makers are going for right now and for the foreseeable future too with plans for numerous films over the next few years, this genre shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. However, there is something I’ve noticed with some of the more recent comic book flicks how they are praised for being ‘the first’ of something. But are they?

First R Rated Comic Book Movie

Deadpool

When Deadpool was in production before its release in 2016, there were a lot of rumours and concerns that it would be a PG-13 rated flick – and this angered fans. Thankfully it was given an R rating keeping Deadpool’s iconic over the top violence, swearing and humour in tact and the film delivered on exactly what the fans wanted. When it was released, it was praised for being ‘the first R rated comic book movie’.

Sin City

But Sin City from Robert Rodriguez came out in 2005. Eleven years before Deadpool hit the screens. Sin City was rated R for its violence, nudity and swearing long before the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ was. And guess what, Sin City was not the first either.

What about Wesley Snipes as Blade? Hell, there is even an entire trilogy of the films between 1998-2004 all rated R. The third film even featured Ryan Reynolds who would go on to play Deadpool over a decade later. Sill not satisfied? In 1994 we got the final film from Brandon Lee with The Crow. Yup you guessed it, rated R over two decades before Deadpool was too. Now we getting somewhere right, I just mentioned a film that predated Deadpool and its R rating by twenty two years…I can do better.

The Punisher 1991

The Punisher from 1989, more than a quarter of a century before Deadpool. Yes this  Dolph Lundgren starring flick based on the Marvel comic book series was R rated twenty seven years before our favourite ‘Regenerating Degenerate’ did it in 2016. As far as I can tell, 1989’s The Punisher seems to be the first R rated comic book movie. Just before I move on (as I’m sure this will be bought up) The Punisher was released in America in 1991…but it was first released in Germany in 1989. And for those wondering, there are many more that were released between 1989 and 2016 including (but not only); Tank GirlJudge Dredd, Spawn, From HellRoad to PerditionConstantine, 300, Watchmen, Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service just to name a few.

Deadpool was not even close to being the first R rated comic book movie as we had almost thirty years of them previously.

First Female Led Comic Book Movie

Wonder Woman

Ahhhhh, Wonder Woman. A picture so ‘meh’ I couldn’t even be bothered to do a review of it. I quite honestly did not understand the huge praise the film got when it was released last year. It was the best (recent) DC movie yes I agree…but that didn’t make it a great film in its own right. Besides, ‘best DC film so far’ is hardly high praise is it? Anyway, I’m getting a little detracted here. It wasn’t the blandness of the flick that annoyed me, it was its labelling as being ‘the first female led comic book movie’. It wasn’t even the first Wonder Woman movie.

Wonder Woman 1974

Back in 1974 there was a Wonder Woman TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby. Okay so it was bad…really, really bad – but its not the quality of the end product that is being bought into question – its which was first. This TV movie was based on the Diana Prince: The New Wonder Woman comic book series and released forty three years before the 2017 film. Yeah I know what you are thinking, ‘TV movies don’t count’. Okay…

How about 1984’s Supergirl? The first cinematic female led comic book flick released as a spin-off of the Christopher Reeve Superman films and predates Wonder Woman by over three decades. Oh and believe me, there are more too. Elecktra from 2005 or 2004’s Catwoman? I can even raise you the master of schlock cinema producer Roger Corman with Vampirella from 1996. Oh and there was this…

Barb Wire

Barb Wire from 1996 and yes, the only reason I mentioned this was to include a picture of Pamela Anderson.

First Black Comic Book Movie

Black Panther

And all this incessant ranting brings things bang up to date with the release of Black Panther. Currently getting praise for being ‘the first black comic book movie’ and again, this is not entirely accurate. Now I admit that things get a little trickier here because there is a distinction that needs to be made. You see, there have been black superhero movies before Black Panther…but not necessarily ones that are based on comic books.

The likes of The Meteor Man from 1993 for instance has a black lead playing a superhero – but the film was not based on a comic book, yet a comic book series was released after the film by Marvel no less. Or what about 1994’s Blankman, a parody of superhero flicks from Damon Wayans.

Blankman

Of course you can’t talk about black superhero movies without mentioning 2008’s Hancock starring Will Smith in the titular role. But again, none of these films were ‘comic book movies’ but original superhero flicks with a black lead. But all of them came before Black Panther regardless. Still, I did specifically state ‘comic book movie’ meaning they have to be based on an exiting comic book. Oh yeah, I have some of those too, several of which I’ve already mentioned.

What about Steel from 1997? With Shaquille O’Neal in the lead role based on the DC comic series of the same name, which itself is a spin-off of Superman. That’s a black comic book movie before Black Panther. Then there are those films I have previously covered such as Spawn also from 1997 which starred Michael Jai White, 2004’s Catwoman not only had a black lead with Halle Berry but also the first female black led comic book film.

And to finish, quite possibly the most famous and popular black comic book movie…

Blade

Blade. Yes it looks like Black Panther‘s current ‘first black comic book movie’ praise is misplaced. Numerous other black actors were playing superheros and even comic book characters before Chadwick Boseman stepped into the shoes of T’Challa A.K.A Black Panther.

The Lee Family ‘Curse’

Movie curses and the stories behind them fascinate me – call it morbid curiosity if you will. There are quite a few ‘curses’ I want to take a look at from those linked to movies, characters and even actors. Now I did take a look at a supposed curse connected to a film script that still has never been made a while back. I really enjoyed researching and writing that one up. So I plan on writing more articles connected to curses over the next few months.

Full disclosure. While I enjoy reading and writing about these things, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I personally do not believe in curses. I believe in unfortunate accidents and eerie coincidence. No matter how bizarre or macabre a situation may seem, to me it’s an accident/coincidence with a possible and reasonable explanation.

So with that out of the way, on with the article.

Today (1st of February) would have been Brandon Lee’s 53rd birthday. Yeah its kind of hard to imagine a half century old Brandon Lee isn’t it? Brandon was a charismatic and charming man, not that I ever met him, I’m just going off interviews I have seen and so on. I still remember the day I picked up a newspaper on 1st of April 1993 to be met with a front page headline that read: “SON OF BRUCE LEE DEAD AT 28”. Given the date of the news, I was expecting it to be some kind of sick April Fools joke – sadly, it wasn’t. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. In order to get into this curse, I need to go back to his father and where the curse was supposedly born.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

A man who really needs little to no introduction. Bruce Lee changed martial arts/Kung-fu cinema forever. Born in San Francisco on the 27th of November, 1940 while his father was there touring with the Cantonese opera as an actor. Bruce was originally given the name Sai-fon which was a feminine name meaning ‘small phoenix’ by his mother. She chose to give her son a female name due to the fact she had previously given birth to a son who died, Bruce’s mother was deeply superstitious so gave Bruce a girls name in an attempt to fool any evil spirits into thinking her son was actually a daughter. This is pretty much the origin of the whole ‘Lee family curse’ thing. More on that later…

His parents moved back to Hong Kong when Bruce was around three months old. As a teenager, Bruce often found himself involved in numerous street fights – so his father  decided that he should to be trained in the martial arts. This is when Bruce was first introduced to Wing Chun and the legendary Yip Man. He also started to feature in several Chinese films as a child and in his teenage years following in his father’s acting footsteps.

Bruce Lee 18.jpg

But his street fighting ways would still follow him and after a particularly violent fight where Bruce was said to have viciously beaten the son of a feared Triad family boss, the police were called in. Bruce’s father believed his son’s life was in danger so sent his then eighteen year old son back to his place of birth, San Francisco to stay with his older sister Agnes Lee who was already living out there. While in America, Bruce began teaching martial arts to Americans. He also met and later married Linda Emery and they had two children, Brandon and Shannon Lee.

One Inch Punch

While taking part in several demonstrations at numerous karate championships, Bruce caught the attention of TV producers and landed a role in the show The Green Hornet. This lead to more roles in TV shows including Marlowe and Ironside among others. Bruce became frustrated with only getting small TV roles so returned to Hong Kong where he got his first leading role in The Big Boss. The film was a huge success that catapulted Bruce into super-stardom in China and several more film roles came along.

Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon were his next two films and they both became huge hits. In 1972, Bruce began work on his next film, Game of Death a film he envisioned would offer viewers a deep and meaningful look into the world of martial arts. He filmed scenes and had several minutes of footage ready for editing, but before he could complete work on the film Bruce was approached by Warner Brothers who offered him a chance to make a big American film – something Bruce had previously been chasing for years. He returned to America once more to work on this new film putting Game of Death on hold. This big American movie was Enter the Dragon which began filming in early 1973. Enter the Dragon was completed and Bruce decided to go back to Hong Kong and take some time off before returning to work on Game of Death.

Bruce and Brandon 2.jpg

Sadly, Bruce never got to finish his opus, Game of Death, nor did he ever see the release of his big American flick Enter the Dragon as shortly before the film was due to be released – Bruce Lee unexpectedly died.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee

Born 1st of February, 1965 in Oakland, California. Brandon was the first of two children of Bruce Lee and Linda Lee Cadwell. Between the years of 1971-1973, the Lee family lived in Hong Kong. But Linda moved the family back to California following the sad death of her husband. Brandon attended Chadwick School in Los Angeles but was forced to leave due to insubordination. He then went to Bishop Montgomery High School and when Brandon turned eighteen, he attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in theater. Brandon sought acting lessons the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. As a child and through his teenage years, he was being taught martial arts by close, personal friend of his father – Dan Inosanto.

In 1985, Brandon returned to Los Angeles and began working as a script reader for low budget film company Ruddy Morgan Productions where he also landed his first on screen appearance as an uncredited cameo in the film Crime Killer. His first credited role came rather ironically in the TV movie Kung Fu: The Movie, which was based on the TV show of the same name. If you know the history of how the TV show Kung Fu the show came about, then you’d understand the irony – even more so seeing as Brandon was playing the son of the lead character. The movie that gave Brandon his first real leading role was Legacy of Rage the only film he made in Hong Kong. The flick also featured iconic martial arts movie actor Bolo Yeung, who also appeared in Enter the Dragon alongside his father, Bruce.

Brandon Lee 2.jpg

Brandon returned to TV in America with Kung Fu: The Next Generation a pilot made as another followup to the original TV show. Brandon appeared in other TV shows and low budget films through the late 80s but it was in 1991 when he starred in the action film Showdown in Little Tokyo alongside Dolph Lundgren that Brandon got his big break and signed a multi-picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Rapid Fire was his next film released in 1992, also in 92 Brandon landed the lead role in the film adaption of the cult, underground comic book series – The Crow. It was while filming The Crow in 1993 that Brandon Lee was killed on set via a tragic accident.

Brandon Lee Look.gif

Brandon’s heartbreaking death and the unexpected death of his father almost twenty years earlier is what helpt cement the idea of a ‘Lee family curse’.

The Curse

Lee Curse Newspaper

The deaths of both father and son has raised many questions over the years. With Bruce it was mainly how could a young man as physically fit as he was just die so suddenly? With Brandon, the questions were related to the safety (or lack of) during a film’s production. These questions have been answered, but many people refuse to accept them and instead try to look for alternate reasons for their deaths and creating a puzzle they can’t solve. Conspiracy theories that include both Bruce and Brandon being killed by Triads due to the actions of Bruce when he was a teenager are also mentioned. Perhaps the biggest theory is known as the ‘Lee Family Curse’ or ‘Bruce Lee Curse’.

Bruce Lee Family

As I mentioned earlier, the idea of this curse seems to come from the fact that Bruce had an older brother who died as a baby before Bruce was even born. It has been said that Bruce’s family were deeply superstitious and believed an evil spirit was following them and targeting their children. But if this is true, then why is Shannon Lee alive while her brother Brandon is not? Well its also said that the evil spirit only targets the males in the family. But this theory hardly holds water itself, if an evil spirit really is killing the males of the Lee family…then why is Bruce’s younger brother Robert Lee still very much alive and will turn seventy years old later this year (as of writing) and why did his older brother, Peter Lee live until 2008 when he passed away at sixty nine? Is it an incredibly slow moving curse?

Another reason why some people believe there is a curse on the family is due to the eerie similarities between Bruce Lee’s final film, Game of Death and the tragic accident that killed Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow. For those not in the know, after Bruce died it became popular knowledge that he was working on another film and that he had already filmed several scenes for it. Fans wanted to see his final film brought to the big screen. So a team of film-makers were assembled to piece together Game of Death and finish the work Bruce started. If you have ever seen the film, then you know what a shameless and insulting mess of a movie it is. From using actual footage of Bruce’s real funeral complete with Bruce Lee himself dead in his casket to completely ignoring his original vision and message he wanted to convey just to make a bog-standard, cookie-cutter Kung-fu flick to cash in on the superstar’s popularity. Anyway, in the butchered Game of Death flick – there is a scene where Bruce Lee’s character is shot and (supposedly) killed while making a film. Something that would very sadly become true for his son Brandon Lee.

Bruce and Brandon 3

Then of course there are the other bizarre coincidences while Brandon was shooting The Crow too. You see, Brandon was engaged and due to marry his fiancée Eliza Hutton after filming had finished on The Crow and they were in the final week of the film when the tragedy happened too. Eric Draven, the character Brandon played in the film was set to marry his fiancée within the film too – but was killed before that could happen. Its this kind of food that feeds the conspiracy and ‘curse’ theorists.

For me, there is no ‘curse’ and never was. We have just sadly been robbed of two amazingly talented and charismatic people during the prime of their lives. Two people who were both on the cusp of becoming the movie stars they so badly wanted to be.

The best way to sum all of this up is by using a quote Bruce’s wife, Linda used to describe her late husband. A quote that I feel can now be used for both father and son:

“All these years later, people still wonder about how Bruce died. I prefer to remember how he lived.”

I could not agree more.

For Bruce and Brandon…

Bruce and Brandon 4

Bruce Lee: “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

Brandon Lee: “Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.”

Birth Of The Dragon

Birth of the Dragon

Just as a little bonus, my mini-review of the latest ‘Bruce Lee film’ Birth of the Dragon.

For those not in the know this flick is getting slated by Bruce Lee fans for being an insult to the man himself. Look, I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan, my middle name is Lee named after the great man himself. I grew up watching his movies and still massively enjoy them today. I read and listen to his philosophical teachings – I try to “be like water my friend”. But I wish to offer an alternate view of this film.

Okay so one of the main reasons the picture is getting slated is because pretty much everyone is saying how its not an accurate biopic. I can’t argue against this – most probably because its not meant to be a biopic. Birth of the Dragon is a fictional film inspired by true events…not based on true events and there is a big difference between ‘inspired by’ and ‘based on’. This film was shot in the same style of movies that Bruce was making in his heyday – its made as a love letter to that genre of film. Its not meant to be a biopic at all. Once you get that into your head and view it as an action/Kung-fu flick…there’s a lot of fun to be had with this one.

Birth of the Dragon 2

Quick synopsis. The film tells the story of a younger Bruce Lee before he became a worldwide phenomenon, before he created Jeet Kune Do and concentrates his infamous fight with Kung-fu master Wong Jack Man and their relationship after the fight. As previously mentioned, the film is inspired by real events – but not based on them so there is a lot of fiction in this one.

I enjoyed it for what it is. A throwback to Kung-fu flicks of the 70s a genre that really is  hardly made anymore. The direction is solid throughout, the action scenes are well shot as is the big fight between Bruce and Wong Jack Man. There are fun nods and references to some of Bruce’s work to spot along the way.

Philip Ng who plays Bruce Lee is pretty good in the role bearing in mind that is a fictional Bruce Lee being depicted before he became the Bruce Lee the world would come to know. The film spends a lot of time following a student a of Bruce – Billy Magnussen as Steve McKee (inspired by Steve McQueen) and most of these scenes tend to drag as he’s just not as interesting a character as Bruce. But overall, its a good Kung-fu flick worth watching…as long as you know what it is and don’t go into it believing that its a biopic.

Birth of the Dragon 3

I find it hard to argue against a lot of the criticism this film has been generating because the negative comments do ring true. But if you do read reviews of this, then you’ll find pretty much everyone is calling it a biopic when its not. Their displeasure of the film is coming from the fact they are viewing the flick in the wrong light. Sit down and watch this one knowing you are going to see a fictional, 70s style Kung-fu flick and I think you’ll enjoy it. Look at it this way, it a hell of a lot better and far less insulting than Game of Death was and still is.

Why A Duke Nukem Film Won’t Work

It has recently been announced that wrestler turned actor (aren’t all wrestlers actors?), John Cena is in talks to play video game superstar Duke Nukem in an upcoming flick. Now I love me some Mr Nukem, he’s one of my all time favourite game characters and I’d love to see a big screen film made. I salivate at the thought of the larger then life Duke Nukem being brought into the world of cinema. While I personally think John Cena is not a great actor – I really can imagine him as Duke. He has the look and build down to a T.

Cena Nukem.jpg

Give that guy a bleach-blonde flat-top. a pair or Ray-Bans and stick a stogie in his mouth…and voilà! But can he do the voice? Yeah, Cena seems the perfect choice for the role (either him or Dolph Lundgren from Rocky IV) and even though I want to see a Duke Nukem flick, even though I think they have the right man – I don’t think they should even attempt making it.

Why It Shouldn’t Happen

There is a major problem with this idea and that problem is the character of Duke himself. You see, when the abysmal Duke Nukem Forever was finally released it was slammed by critics. Not only because the game was a complete dog to play with vastly outdated game mechanics and terrible level design but also due to Duke’s trademark style of humour. Many reviewers felt that Duke Nukem was just not ‘right’ in this now PC world we live in. See, Duke is a very obnoxious, overtly sexist and just downright rude to boot. He was playing with alien boobies long before Luke Skywalker did so in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Duke Nukem Alien Boobs

Yeah he loves ‘the babes’ but he treats them with little regard, objectifying them, looking at them as sex objects and so on. Duke is a pastiche of 70s and 80s action heroes, he’s an overblown stereotype expanded to the level of absurdity and I love him for it too. But that is because I get the joke, I know he’s supposed to be a parody. Yes he is outdated but that is part of the amusement that many, many people do not get.

Given the fact that right now, Hollywood is in the midst of a ‘feminist uprising’ and there are a string of films (remakes/reboots) coming soon where the male parts are being swapped for female ones. The fact that every time you turn on the TV or check out the news, there is yet another big name producer/director/actor being accused of some kind of sexual misconduct. All of this shit going on right now and they think its the right time to make a Duke Nukem movie? It may have flown fifteen years ago, maybe ten…possibly even just squeezed in five years ago – but now? Not a chance.

Hollywood and film-making in general is changing (for better or worse) and you just can not have a character like Duke Nukem in a film doing what he does. The backlash over Duke’s style of humour was immense when Duke Nukem Forever was released in 2011. Six years later and not much has changed I can only imagine what the furore would be like if the game was released now. Do you really think a film where the hero gets a double blow-job from two fan-girl twin sisters dressed in school-like uniforms while he sits there playing a video game will fly in today’s movie climate?

Duke Nukem Twins.jpg

This is not like the fan outcry for an R-rated Deadpool movie a few years back (but we got it eh?). Deadpool is just a very violent fellow and for some reason, violence is frowned upon sure – but its not considered as bad as sexual images or more specifically a male being overtly sexual towards women. The only way they can do a Duke Nukem flick is to dilute the character, strip him away of what makes Duke Nukem who he is – and there is no self-respecting Duke fan on the planet that wants to see that happen. We want our Duke to treat women like pieces of meat, slap some titties around (alien or otherwise) we want him to hand strippers cash and tell them to “Shake it baby!”.

Duke Nukem Shake It baby.jpg

We want to see all of this not because we are sad, basement dwelling sexists but because that is who Duke Nukem is and much like Deadpool with his violence – if they are going to bring Duke to the big screen, then they need to do it properly, go in balls deep – sexism and everything else.

I just do not see a big Hollywood studio willing to take on the character warts and all. The film-making climate has changed so dramatically over the last few months and how women are perceived and treated in film is shifting as we speak. I’d rather not see a big screen version of Duke Nukem at all than have him be watered down to appease the ‘PC brigade’.

In short, Duke is too great of a character for him to be castrated by the ‘feminazis’, so just leave him be.

Duke Nukem babes

Duke Nukem: “I like a good cigar…and a bad woman.”

I’d Buy That For A Dollar: New Robocop Sequel In The Works?

This one caught me off guard.

Robocop is one of my all time favourite flicks. Not only is it one of the best sci-fi/action films made, its simply one of the best films made ever. However, as a franchise, its pretty poor. The original flick is sublime – not just an ultra-violent revenge picture with plenty of action but also a deep and meaningful story underneath about humanity and  redemption. Scratch the surface of this one and you’ll find a whole other film lying in wait for you to discover. Robocop 2 is a very different story. I wouldn’t call it a ‘bad film’ but I can hardly sing its praises either. Robocop 3 is…well it exists.

Then of course there was the Robocop TV series – both of them. The franchise lay dormant for a while before the inevitable remake in 2014. Again a film that is hardly great, nor bad, its just there really. I thought the franchise was all done after the very average remake but if they were to carry on, I assumed a sequel to the remake would be on the cards or another remake/reboot. Well it seems that a new Robocop sequel is very much on the cards indeed. But there is a sting in the tail as its not going to be a sequel to the remake at all. No, this is going to be a sequel to the original…and I’m really fucking excited for it too.

Robocop Wallaper

The writer of the original flick, Ed Neumeier is said to be working on a new sequel. Following the recent Hollywood trend of making sequels to failing franchises but ignoring the sequels (Halloween, Terminator). Robocop is looking like its going to be getting the same treatment too. While being interviewed for Zeitgeist magazine, Neumeier had this to say:

“It’s nice that people are still interested in RoboCop and they have me working on a new one at MGM right now so maybe we’ll get another one out of it.

We’re not supposed to say too much. There’s been a bunch of other RoboCop movies and there was recently a remake and I would say this would be kind of going back to the old RoboCop we all love and starting there and going forward. So it’s a continuation really of the first movie. In my mind. So it’s a little bit more of the old school thing.”

What I find interesting about this bit of news is that Neumeier did actually write a sequel to the original Robocop in 1988 called RoboCop: The Corporate Wars but the film was never made. The basic idea behind the film is that Robocop is destroyed and rebuilt 25 years in the future (the future of the future of the world of Robocop). Its been over 25 years since the original flick (over 30 now), so Neumeier could be taking his original idea and tweaking if for today’s audience.

Robocop Spike

After waiting so long, could we may be getting a real and worthy Robocop 2? I very much doubt a 70 year old Peter Weller will return in the main role – but it would be amazing if he did. Nancy Allen is still going strong too so could be involved in the project, oh and get that mad Dutchman Paul Verhoeven back behind the camera. If this all comes together, it could be awesome. Oh yeah and it needs to be a bloody and violent adult film not some PG-13 shit.

Murphy Hand

Clarence Boddicker: “Well give the man a hand!”

The Major Die Hard Plot Hole…Was There Ever One?

So a few weeks back Die Hard screenwriter, Steven E. de Souza explained that a so-called ‘huge plot hole’ in the film is only there due to a scene being cut from the movie. It was pretty well covered by multiple sites including Slashfilm, Entertainment Weekly, Digital Spy, Lad Bible, Indie Wire as well as numerous others. With many of the sites using such terminology as “Die Hard writer explains major plot hole in the film.”, “a major Die Hard plot hole was just explained.” or even “There is one significant plot hole that has left fans scratching their heads over the years.” But just exactly what was the ‘plot hole’ that has had us Die Hard fans perplexed and pulling our hair out in frustration for the last (almost) thirty years?

The ‘Plot Hole’

McClane Hans 2

Okay, so apparently – in the film when a tired and pretty beat up John McClane (Bruce Willis) comes face to face with Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) for the first time. Gruber does his best American accent and passes himself of as ‘Bill Clay’ to McClane then McClane gives ‘Clay’ a gun. It is the fact that McClane realises that ‘Bill’ is really Hans is a ‘plot hole’ due to a deleted scene. This is how screenwriter de Souza explained it…

“Originally, they get off the truck, the camera craned up, you saw them in a circle and Alan Rickman says, ‘Synchronize your watches’. They all put their arms out in a circle with the camera moving down and they all had the same Tag Heuer watch. If you notice, the first guy Bruce kills almost by accident going down the steps, he searches the body, looks at the IDs. He steals the cigarettes, which is a laugh. He looks at the watch which gets another laugh because you’re thinking he might steal the watch. As he kills each guy, he notices they all had the same watch. When he talks to Dwayne Robinson, he says, ‘I think these guys are professionals. Their IDs are too good. There’s no labels on their clothes and they all have the same watch.’”

However, the watch scene was cut from the final film so we the audience do not know all the terrorists are wearing the same make of watch. According to de Souza, when McClane and Gruber meet for the first time, McClane checks out Gurber’s watch – notices its the same make he has already seen on the other terrorists and it is the watch that clues McClane in on that’ Bill Clay’ is really Hans Gruber. So there’s your explanation to that ‘plot hole’ that has been annoying you for almost three decades. Except I have a handful of problems with this…

If you are a die hard Die Hard fan like myself then you most probably have not been scratching your head over this ‘plot hole’ because you have never even registered it as a ‘plot hole’ to begin with. The only things I’m scratching my head over are – this is the first and only time I have ever heard anyone consider this a genuine plot hole and how the explanation given does not make 100% sense. Just going back to de Souza’s explanation for a second.

“When he (McClane) talks to Dwayne Robinson, he says, ‘I think these guys are professionals. Their IDs are too good. There’s no labels on their clothes and they all have the same watch.’”

Errr, no. McClane never once mentions the watches they are wearing in the film at all. He does mention their impressive and expensive phoney IDs, clothing labels and cigarettes…not their watches. He’s not even talking to Dwayne Robinson either.

John McClane: These guys are mostly European judging by their clothing labels and their [long pause] cigarettes. They’re well-financed and very slick.

Sergeant Al Powell: Well, now how do you know that?

John McClane: I’ve seen enough phoney ID’s in my time to know that the ones they got must have cost a fortune. Add all that up, I don’t know what the fuck it means, but you got some bad-ass perpetrators and they’re here to stay.

Sergeant Al Powell: I hear ya, partner. And L.A.’s finest are on it.

Powell

McClane was talking to Sergeant Powell. You’d think de Souza would have a better knowledge of the movie he wrote. Then getting to the main scene itself, one of my favourite scenes ever on film – two lead actors squaring off against each other in a tense, ticking bomb piece of cinema. This is what de Souza had to say about that particular scene too.

“When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”

McClane never once looks at Gruber’s watch – in fact Gruber keeps his watch arm tucked behind his back for pretty much the whole of that scene, it tucked back there when he accepts the cigarette and when he takes the gun. Okay so Gruber does use his left arm (with the watch) to take the cigarette out of the packet – but you can hardly see the watch and there is no indication that McClane ever looks at it either, there is certainly no shot where “You see his eyes look at the watch” as de Souza claims. So de Souza’s explanation just does not add up, at least not for me. Now I’m not saying a scene where the terrorists synchronise their watches was never filmed to be cut, maybe it was and maybe the whole watch scene was originally intended to explain how McClane worked out who ‘Bill Clay’ really was, or at least a part of the puzzle. But what I am saying is that even with that scene removed…there is no plot hole at all.

Just as an aside. I have a 2-disc special edition of Die Hard, it has deleted and alternate scenes and yet there is no ‘synchronise watches’ scene anywhere to be found. I even did a search on the interwebs and found nothing. The only info I can find that this watch scene even exists leads back to the same articles I linked to at the start and the whole reason I’m writing this article. So why is de Souza trying to explain away a ‘plot hole’ that does not exist with a supposed ‘deleted scene’ that I can’t find? If anyone can find the scene, please do let me know as I’d like to see it for myself.

Why Its Not A Plot Hole

hans-gruber

Just for the sake of argument, lets just say that yes there was such a deleted scene and also agree that this is a ‘major plot hole’ that has been bugging fans for close to thirty years. I’d like to offer a reasonable explanation that would easily cover such a plot hole without using deleted scenes and only what we see and know from watching the film as it is in its final cut.

So how did John McClane know Bill Clay was really Hans Gruber?

  1. McClane is there when Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) is shot by Gruber. Okay so he’s under a table trying to hide away and his view is impaired…but he can see small details.
  2. There is a scene later – after McClane kills Tony (Andreas Wisniewski) the infamous “Now I have a machine gun ho-ho-ho” scene. McClane is on top of the elevator listening in as Gruber and one of his henchmen talk, taking notes. McClane can see into the elevator car itself and see’s Gruber. I admit its not a great view but McClane can see things like Gruber’s suit, his hair, etc.
  3. McClane’s rank in the police is Detective, so he detects. He would have been able to piece together the little bits of evidence he has collected over the events of the film and come to a reasonable conclusion over who ‘Bill Clay’ really was right?
  4.  An alternate theory – McClane really didn’t know. However, he is just not stupid enough to hand over a loaded gun to a civilian during a terrorist/hostage situation without any background checks. He handed an empty gun to a civilian just to make them feel safer.
  5. Another idea. We the viewer follow Gruber when he goes to check the roof and what leads to the main event between him and McClane. So as we do not see exactly what McClane is getting up to while Gruber is doing his checks. Its only when Gruber jumps down from checking the explosives that McClane appears. How do we know that McClane didn’t simply see Gruber heading to the roof and followed him? The film already showed that McClane was watching what the terrorists were doing.

So even without deleted scenes…where is this ‘major plot hole’?

Am I alone here? Before a few weeks back when de Souza explained why this ‘plot hole’ exists, I had never though of of it as a plot hole before (and I’ve watched Die Hard a lot), I think it even less of a plot hole since his explanation. The whole thing just does not add up.

McClane smoking

I quite enjoyed this looking at so-called ‘plot holes’, may have to do more in the future…