Category Archives: LBoM: Editorials

But The Joker Doesn’t Have An Origin!

I actually meant to write this one a few weeks ago… but the Red Dead Redemption II release kind of took over my blog for a while and all I’d been doing was RDR related articles. Still, semi-normal service has now resumed.

So anyway, there’s a new film telling the origin story of The Joker being filmed right now called Joker as shown in that above early/test footage. Set to be released next year and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Clown Prince of Crime. the film will be a stand alone picture not connected to the existing D.C. movie universe (thankfully). Yet some people are getting all annoyed with the fact that in the comics, The Joker has never had a definitive origin so a film version should not exist. Even the man himself either does not know or refuses to remember the person he was before he became Batman’s arch-nemesis. I suppose this article could be thrown in with my Comic Book Fans Have Short Memories article from a while back. I mean, It’s not as if Joker hasn’t already had an origin story on film is it?

How about Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? It was an animated film from 1993, a continuation of the very awesome animated T.V. show. This film shows one possible origin of The Joker. the fact the movie is also pretty damn amazing and a huge fan favourite helps… oh and it was nominated for an Annie (animation equivalent to the Oscars), sadly it lost out to The Lion King – but still goes to show just how respected the film really was and still is. People love this flick and it has an origin for The Joker.

Batman Mask of the Phantasm Joker.jpg

2016’s The Killing Joke also offered a possible origin for The Joker. Based on the graphic novel of the same name. When a struggling stand up comedian finds it hard to support his pregnant wife, he turns to crime and that lays down the basis for becoming The Joker. Oh and let’s not forget this…

Batman 89.jpg

Still my favourite Batman movie and yes, The Joker is given an origin. Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 was a pretty bold movie in that regard as (correct me if I’m wrong)  The Joker had never been given an origin before, at least not on screen. I really loved the origin here too as it was Batman who created The Joker… but it was The Joker who created Batman first. They are two sides of the same coin.

Batman 89 Joker

Besides, we don’t really know all the details for this new Joker film as the plot is being kept tip-top secret. All we know is that Joaquin Phoenix is playing Arthur Fleck before becoming The Joker. But here are a couple of ideas off the top of my head of how the film could handle the origin story.

He’s lying. The film being made is just a lie told by The Joker. Kind of how Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight told a different story about how he got those scars. This film really could be The Joker just telling a fable of who he once was.

Or the film could be an anthology telling more than one origin story within one film. Look at the comics, they have a similar idea as The Joker has had multiple origin stories and none of them are definitive, they are just possibilities. Maybe that’s the plan to tell different origin stories in one film or even make multiple Joker films all telling a different origin and this is just the first one?

Joker 2019.jpg

Either way, point is. I don’t understand why some people are against this new Joker movie telling his origin… or at least one of his origins. It has been done before in the comics and movies several times over and this is just another version. This is a flick I’m looking forward to… so far at least. I have been stung by D.C. films in recent years so I’m very concerned about whether that can deliver a worthy movie or not. But at this early stage, I really like Joaquin Phoenix and think he could be a perfect bit of casting. It’s all very hush, hush right now with no one really knowing what the film will be about other then it being an origin story. The early test footage shows very little but I’m sure we will see more of the flick over the next few weeks and months.

Anyway, calm down folks. All these fans getting upset because its an origin and The Joker doesn’t have one. It’s been done before, pretty damn well too. This could be the start of something great… or it could be another D.C. movie disaster.

 

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Bohemian Rhapsody: Is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy?

So I watched the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody a couple of days back. I wrote this one not long after watching the film but didn’t publish it until now as I didn’t want to break my Red Dead Redemption II saga of articles (they’ve been going on for six weeks or so). But now that damn long awaited cowboy game is released, I can resume (almost) normal service.

So I’m a huge and long time Queen fan. I grew up with their music and when Freddie died back in 1991, the world music lost one of its greatest. There can never, nor will there ever be anyone quite like Freddie Mercury. He was so unique that the word “unique” doesn’t do him justice. He was able to do things with his voice that no one else on the planet could manage and that’s not just personal opinion from a fan, its now scientific fact. But before I get into my feelings about the film, a quick history lesson of how this film came to be.

The History

This film has had a long and troubled production with it being originally announced in 2010. Back then, Sacha Baron Cohen was signed up to play Freddie. But Baron Cohen left the project in 2013 due to “creative differences”. Partly due to the fact he felt that the producers and remaining members of Queen wanted to make a family friendly picture while Baron Cohen wanted to make a more adult look at Freddie going deeper into his sexuality and lifestyle, a more honest biopic of you will. A more recent story has come out suggesting that Baron Cohen wasn’t taking the film seriously.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Sacha Baron Cohen

Then in 2013 Ben Whishaw was being tipped to play Freddie while Dexter Fletcher would be in the director’s chair. Both Whishaw and Fletcher left the project by 2014 with both of them citing “creative differences” (the go to excuse for leaving a film project). In 2015 it was suggested that Sacha Baron Cohen could be back as Freddie but that was proven to be false information. For a while, the film was stuck in development hell with numerous writers, directors and actors all hitting the rumor mill over the next few months.

In 2015 the film was confirmed to be back on track and a title was revealed for the first time – Bohemian Rhapsody. All new scripts had been written with Brain May and Roger Taylor attached as consultants and producers. Then in 2016 film was suddenly a-go when Rami Malek was announced to star as Freddie Mercury. Pre-production on the film began in early 2017 and filming started on September 2017 with Bryan Singer as director. Things were going well until filming ground to a halt when Singer stopped showing up to film. Exactly why this is open to speculation, one source says Bryan Singer left the film due to an illness in his family but another suggests that Singer’s poor behaviour on set got him removed from the film. Either way, the production lost it’s director with around two or three weeks still left of filming to do. So re-enter Dexter Fletcher to finish the film who was originally attached to the project back in 2013.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Rami Malek.jpg

Now with the film having two directors, that caused a problem as rules state only one director can be given credit. It was announced earlier this year that despite his leaving/firing that Bryan Singer would still be credited as director as he did shoot most of the film before Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish it up.

So then finally after eight years in film development hell, the movie was released on the 24th of October here in the U.K. while our American cousins will have to wait until the 2nd of November. And I was there opening day wearing my Freddie Mercury shirt, with my mom to see this long troubled film. But was it worth it? A quick synopsis before I offer my view…

Queen Shirt

The Film

It opens up with Freddie (Rami Malek) preening himself, trimming his moustache just before heading out on stage for the famous Live Aid gig from 1985. It then jumps back to the early 70s with a teenage Freddie working at Heathrow Airport as a baggage handler where he puts up with racial abuse for being a “pakki”. Young Freddie dreams of bigger things and while at a bar enjoying a pint, he listens to the student band on stage, a band called Smile. With Brain May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) as the lead guitarist and drummer respectively. When the lead singer leaves the band to join Humpy Bong (a folk band founded by former Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen) Freddie steps in to offer his vocal talent, this is when he first meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Freddie And Mary

The band then hire bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and change their name to Queen. They record their first album for EMI and perform their first live gig as Queen. Freddie and Mary grow closer and become lovers as the band also grow from student gigs to tours. Queen begin become a little tired of performing the same type of music over and over so begin to experiment and from that experimentation comes their most famous song, Bohemian Rhapsody. EMI executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers) hates the song and refuses to allow Queen to release it. So the band walk out and take the song elsewhere getting it played by Kenny Everett (Dickie Beau) on his radio show. The song is a smash hit and Queen become huge.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Recording.jpg

While out on tour in Rio Freddie begins to show an interest in men and when he returns home he confesses to his then girlfriend that he is bisexual. The pair split but remain very close friends. As Queen begin to rise in the world of music, Freddie’s life begins to unravel. Keeping his sexuality from the press despite continual intrusion. Freddie begins to find comfort in drink, drugs and sex with anyone who shows him even the slightest bit of interest. Cracks begin to show in the band as Freddie grows increasingly out of control and he keeps turning up late for recording sessions often drunk, high or both after a heavy night of partying. Eventually, Freddie feels stifled by Queen and decides to go it alone by signing a solo contract behind the back of the other members at the suggestion of his manager. Queen (unofficially) split and go their separate ways.

Freddie moves to Germany to work on his solo music. After a visit from Mary who gives him a few home truths, Freddie returns home after sacking his backstabbing manager and meets up with the other members of Queen to ask them to reform so they can do the Live Aid gig as a way to say goodbye properly. They agree and the film ends with an amazing recreation of (almost) the entire Queen set from Live Aid 1985 and they cement themselves into rock music history.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Poster Freddie.jpg

My View

I’m a huge Queen fan so obviously there is going to be a little bias in my view. The film is utterly brilliant. Now its not perfect and hardcore Queen fans (like me) will spot several flaws especially if you have seen as many Queen documentaries and interviews as I have. This is a biopic and like other biopics certain aspects are exaggerated, changed and twisted to make the film more entertaining. What I’m trying to say is that not everything in this film is 100% factual. But creative licence has to be expected with these kinds of movies, they are not documentaries, they are films. I’m not going to concentrate on the half truths in the film but will highlight a few issues.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Poster Freddie and Brian.jpg

First, the film is rated 12A here in the U.K. and if you know anything about the life of Freddie Mercury then you’d know aspects would’ve had to have been diluted to fit that 12A rating… and diluted the film is. Things like the drug usage is not explicitly shown and only hinted at, Freddie’s bisexuality is lightly shown with a couple of gay kisses and that’s about it. But I didn’t go the film to watch gay sex, I went to watch a film about Freddie’s life and that is what I got. There is a scene where Freddie throws one of his infamous lavish parties and even that is watered down from reality. The real parties are legendary in the world of music with Freddie having naked dwarfs (sorry, little people) with trays of cocaine on their head for the guests, performers biting the heads off live chickens, rampant sex and so much more. The party scene in the film shows none of this though and is not as wild as the real things were. Freddie led such an overtly hedonistic lifestyle that even the Roman Emperor Caligula would have suggested that Freddie tone it down a bit. Plus the film shows Brian May not enjoying the party when in reality, he was one of the people who would suggest them and enjoyed himself as much as Freddie.

Second, I didn’t like when the film ended. Note I didn’t say “how” it ended but “when”. To be honest, the recreation of the Live Aid set is stunning, those last ten minutes or so of the flick that show an abridged version of Queen’s now legendary performance is jaw dropping. But there is so much more to the story of Queen after Live Aid that is not shown in the film. Live Aid was their turning point, they had all but broken up and were thought of as a washed up band (especially in America) with nothing left. After that gig, Queen went on to become world dominating and there is so much more story to be told about their music. Plus there is the relationship between Freddie and his lover Jim Hutton to explore which is only lightly touched on in the film, his continual relationship with Mary Austin to the point where Freddie became godfather to her son. And of course there is the death of the man himself and how he kept recording despite the fact he was in so much pain and discomfort right to the very end. There really is so much more story to be told about Freddie/Queen and this really feels like only half a film. Its a fantastic half a film, but still only half of the story. I’ve seen a tone of these biopics and always felt satisfied at the end but this film left a bit of a gap and needs a sequel, there must be a Bohemian Rhapsody 2. Just having a bit of text at the end of the film pointing out Freddie died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS didn’t really cut it for me.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Live Aid

That’s about it for the negatives really. On to the positives.

The cast have to be addressed here. Of course Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury is amazing. He has the voice, the mannerisms and everything. There are times during the Live Aid finale when a few long shots are shown and I’m not sure of it was Rami or Freddie himself using actual Live Aid footage. In fact, I’m pretty sure I spotted a cheeky cameo from the real Freddie during one shot. The strutting on stage the arm waving/air punching, Rami has it all nailed. I said earlier how there can never, nor will there ever be anyone quite like Freddie Mercury and I stand by that – but Rami Malek is pretty bloody close. I’d like to see a side by side comparison between the actual Live Aid footage and the end scene in this film to see just how close it all was. Everyone is talking about Rami Malek’s performance and rightly so to as its (almost) flawless, but I think he’s already getting enough praise. He deserves every ounce of it too and any recognition or awards he may get along the way. But there are other equally as great performances too.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Brian May.jpg

The other three band members of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon played by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello respectively are all brilliant. Four great actors coming together to reunite four of the best musicians in music. After Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee’s Brian May was the stand out performance for me though. Brian in the film is just as spot on as Freddie is and I just feel that Rami Malek (as deserving as he is) will overshadow the other actors here. Gwilym Lee deserves just as much praise. Then there is Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin, Freddie’s former girlfriend and long time friend. Yet another strong performance that I feel will be overlooked. You really feel her pain as she loses her boyfriend but refuses to give up on him at the same time.

But my absolute favorite bit of casting? Its really just a glorified cameo from Mike Myers as Ray Foster the EMI records executive who turns down the Bohemian Rhapsody record after listening to it. Now I can’t remember the exact quote, but after hearing the record he says something along the lines of, “Teenagers won’t be banging their heads to this”. Seeing as it was Mike Myers who introduced Bohemian Rhapsody to a new legion of fans with his movie Wanye’s World in 1992 and helped get the song to the top of the charts seventeen years after its original release, its a great in-joke…

As a quick aside. Freddie actually got to see the above scene before he died in 1991 as the film was completed before his passing and released a few months following his death. Brain May has said that Freddie loved the scene and gave Mike Myers his blessing to use the song too. So Mike Myers being the guy to turn the song down its a fitting tribute as well as an ironic joke.

I’m sorry but I must break out an overused cliché here. The film is a roller-coaster of emotions. There are funny and light hearted moments that will leave you with a smile on your face. Such as the band discussing the merits of the Roger Taylor penned “joke” song I’m in Love with My Car or Freddie continually telling Roger to go higher and higher on the “Galileo!” when recording Bohemian Rhapsody. Then you’ll have tears in your eyes during the more heavier scenes. Two such scenes that spring to mind are the one where Freddie finally comes out as bisexual to Mary while the song Love of My Life plays in the background, a song Freddie wrote specifically for Mary. The scene features some sterling acting from both Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton. Then later, toward the end of the film another scene has Freddie attend a hospital where he is told he has AIDS. Such a powerful scene with very little dialogue (I think there’s only one line) but the powerful and emotive Who Wants To Live Forever plays in the background. Honestly, I was welling up.

Yeah of course it goes without saying that the film’s soundtrack is sublime… but I’m going to say it anyway. Its Queen, of course its a brilliant soundtrack. It was great to hear some of the very early stuff such as Keep Yourself Alive, one of my favourite early Queen songs that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Seeing how some songs were slowly created and evolved such as Brian May slowly building We Will Rock You with the iconic foot stomps and claps was joyful.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie We Will Rock You

As for the Live Aid finale. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. I have very strong memories of watching Live Aid live back in 85. Both myself and my mom sat there staring at the T.V. in awe while Queen did their thing. I think I was only about 8 or 9 at the time but that twenty odd minutes watching Queen at Wembley Stadium left a lasting impression on me. Then there I was, a now 42 year old man sitting in the cinema with my mom next to me reliving that same experience 33 years later. Honestly, one of the best moments I have witnessed on the big screen. Then as Queen were in the midst of belting out Radio Ga Ga, mom leaned over to me and simply said “it has to be done.” and I knew exactly what she meant, so up went the arms and we both clapped along to the chorus. So there were me and mom doing the Radio Ga Ga bit and as I looked around, other people in the cinema joined in. It was almost like being there live, a genuinely amazing experience. The seats in the cinema gently rocked back and forth as people tapped/stomped their feet and clapped along. A special thanks to my mom for reliving a childhood memory with me.

The re-enactment of Live Aid at the end of this film is stunning and clearly done with passion, worth the price of the ticket alone.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Radio Ga Ga.jpg

If you’re a Queen fan, of course you are going to watch the film and you’ll enjoy it too. Just remember that it is a biopic and some elements have been altered to make the film more interesting. Its not a factual documentary but its still telling the story of the greatest front-man ever and one of the greatest rock bands to ever grace a stage. So then, is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy? It’s a bit of both really, but more real life than fantasy. If you’re not a Queen fan, I still suggest checking the film out. Its funny, its emotional and above all, it rocks! You never know, you might just end up becoming a fan of Queen yourself.

A cracking film with laughs, tears, awesome music and some truly amazing performances from the entire cast. It Will Rock You!

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Live Aid Crowd

We just need a sequel to finish the story up.

“I pity your wife if you think six minutes is forever.”

– Freddie Mercury

The Best And Worst Of JCVD

Since doing my retrospective on The Karate Kid a while back, I’ve been on a bit of a martial arts film kick (pun fully intended). I grew up watching this stuff, as far back as I can remember, I watched the likes of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Biao Yuen, Chuck Norris, Benny Urquidez and Cynthia Rothrock to name a handful. Then in the 80s, I was introduced to The Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme and became a bit of a fan.

He had a screen presence that no one else at the time could match. He was good looking with a chiseled body that was hard to ignore (am I starting to sound a little gay here?). He couldn’t act well at first yet he would hold a film together nicely. His on screen fights were in a different league as there was a brutality to them, yet they seemed so elegant at the same time and his splits soon became a trademark. Van Damme was a martial arts actor at a time when the genre was beginning to wane slightly. The 70s were the pinnacle of martial arts cinema largely thanks to Bruce Lee who made the genre massively popular in his heyday. In Asia, the genre had always been popular, but it was Lee who spread that love worldwide and when he died, so did a big chunk of martial arts film in general. While they still remained popular in Asia, the rest of the word began to distance themselves from “chop-socky flicks”. But for me, that love for the films never died.

Bruce Lee

I still remember my brother Rob renting out low budget and often badly made martial arts VHS tapes from a local shop, little gems that the bigger VHS stores just didn’t stock. I was introduced to Jackie Chan long before he became an international star. New Fist of FurySnake in the Eagle’s ShadowMaster with Cracked Fingers – these were the type of films I grew up watching thanks to my older brother. One day, Rob came home with a new film, one that featured a strange plot about Bruce Lee returning from the dead and that was the day I was first introduced to Jean-Claude Van Damme, it fast became one of my favourite films and still is to this day.

Right here, I’d like to celebrate JCVD and take a look at some of his best and worst films, a fun trip though my childhood, and even adulthood. I’m not going to cover every JCVD film as he’s done a fuck load over the years and the article would go on for weeks (it already going to be a long one). I’ll just select some of the best and worst…maybe do a few honorable mentions throughout too.

Very Early Appearances

Jean-Claude Van Damme began competing in full-contact karate tournaments in Belgium through 1977 – 1982 where we was hugely successful and managed an impressive record of 18 victories (all knockouts) and only 1 defeat. Along the way, Van Damme landed an uncredited role in a Belgian/French co-produced film called Woman Between Wolf and Dog starring Rutger Hauer from 1979. After retiring from competition in 1982, Van Damme moved to America in hope of carving a movie career for himself.

Young JCVD

His first American film appearance was in the break dancing film (yes we had those in the 80s) Breakin’ from 1984. He was hired as an extra and can be seen dancing in the background in one scene wearing a very tight, black spandex leotard. While in America, Van Damme struck up a friendship with future internet meme legend that is Chuck Norris and even worked as a bouncer for a while at a bar Norris owned. That friendship also landed him a stuntman role in the Chuck Norris classic Missing in Action. Then in 1986, JCVD secured his biggest (but still small) role yet in that film I mentioned earlier about Bruce Lee returning from the dead.

No Retreat No Surrender.jpg

No Retreat, No Surrender. Oh how I love this film. Okay so the plot is about Jason Stillwell (Kurt McKinney) who is an avid Bruce Lee fan and martial arts student studying at his father’s dojo. When the dojo is threatened by a local crime syndicate, Jason’s father is attacked leaving him with a broken leg thanks to the Russian henchman Ivan Kraschinsky (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The Stillwell family move away from New York to Seattle to get away from the crime syndicate.

After being harassed and beat up by martial artist Dean Ramsay (Dale Jacoby), Jason goes to the grave of Bruce Lee and asks for help. Later that night he gets that help in the shape of Bruce’s ghost who agrees to train Jason to make him a better martial artist. Long story short, Jason attends a local full-contact martial arts tournament where the Seattle team are set to square off against a New York team. Only before the tournament can start the crime syndicate appears and state that they will put up just one man against the entire Seattle team and will win too. That one man, this awesome machine of annihilation is of course the Russian Ivan. After Ivan kicks the asses of the entire team, Jason gets in the ring to fight Ivan.

JCVD No Retreat No Surrender

This film is terribly low budget with some awful acting and cringe-worthy scenes and yet I can’t help but love this film so damn much. Its basically a rip off of The Karate Kid (which is a rip off of Rocky) as about 90% of the film’s plot is taken directly from The Karate Kid – you have the young kid moving to a new city, the mentor training him, there’s a love story involving a jealous ex and of course everything comes to a head at a tournament. Van Damme’s role is minuscule as he only appears in the opening for a few minutes and then again at the end for the big fight, plus I think he only has about three small lines in the entire film. As tiny as the role is, its still a damn enjoyable and memorable one that shows a lot of promise. There’s some great fight scenes in the film too from lead actor Kurt McKinney and of course Jean-Claude Van Damme himself.

No Retreat, No Surrender hardly made JCVD a major star and the film is mostly forgotten about now (but check it out if you can find a copy…preferably uncut. Its awesome!). But it did at least showcase his talents and very slowly opened a few doors. In 1987 Van Damme did manage to land himself a role in a genuine, big budget blockbuster with the biggest action star in the world at the time. He got himself a part in Predator alongside that other mound of muscle Arnold Schwarzenegger. Die hard Predator fans will already know this story, but for those now scratching their heads while reaching for their Predator Blu-rays to try and find JCVD in the film…you won’t find him.

JCVD Preadator.jpg

See, he was hired to play the titular alien in full costume and everything, he did shoot some of the film too. But the alien design was later changed and the new suit didn’t fit Van Damme so he was replaced with Kevin Peter Hall. Plus there was the fact that JCVD hated the role and via some misunderstanding, he didn’t know he would be stuck in an alien suit for the whole film. It has been said that Jean-Claude Van Damme could very well still be in the film somewhere as some of the shots may have been left in but I don’t know how true that is – plus he would’ve been in costume and most probably doing that cloaking thing too so you wouldn’t recognise him anyway.

His Breakthrough

If there is one film that began to put Van Damme on the map and get him recognised, then it has to be 1988’s Bloodsport. Said to be based on the true story of real life martial artist Frank Dux (that’s a whole other article in itself). The film follows Frank (Jean-Claude Van Damme) as he takes part in a no holes barred, underground, full-contact kumite tournament in Hong Kong.

JCVD Bloodsport

Bloodsport is a cracking flick and Van Damme is brilliant in it too. The film has loads of great fights showcasing numerous fighting styles from around the world and of course the final fight is a belter too. Outside of all the fighting, the film still has some memorable scenes such as Frank and Ray Jackson (Donald Gibb) playing the arcade classic Karate Champ or when the mighty Bolo Yeung playing the main villain Chong Li says the line “Brick not hit back” to JCVD in which he is paraphrasing a line Bruce Lee said to him in Enter the DragonBloodsport was a big hit and put people began to notice Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Just as a quick aside. You know how they’ve made several films based on and inspired by the game Street Fighter II? Am I the only one who thinks Bloodsport is a better SF II film than any of the real ones?

Anyway, Van Damme was now a bona fide martial arts/action star. Yeah he was still only appearing in low budget flicks, but he was being recognised. Through the rest of the 80s he began to appear in more films in starring roles including Cyborg from 1988, which is pretty poor to be honest and best to avoid. The much better Kickboxer from 1989 is a film worth checking out though and one JCVD wrote the story for too.

JCVD Kickboxer

Telling to story of American kickboxing champ Eric Sloane (Dennis Alexio) who travels to Bangkok to face the best fighter they have. Eric takes his younger brother, Kurt (Jean-Claude Van Damme) along for support and as his cornerman. Its during a fight against the Thai champ Tong Po (Michel Qissi) when Eric is badly beaten and Tong Po deliverers a particularly vicious elbow to Eric’s back which ends up leaving him in a wheelchair. Kurt swears revenge for his brother and demands to fight Tong Po, yet no one will train him out of fear he will get killed. Until Kurt meets Xian Chow (Dennis Chan) an old expert in Muay Thai who agrees to train Kurt for his big fight against Tong Po.

Kickboxer is perhaps JCVD’s most famous film up to this point. Its good, but I think it lacked the punch (pun still intended) that Bloodsport had.

As the 90s began, Van Damme had a busy and full work schedule for the next few years starting with Death Warrant from 1990. A pretty bog-standard action romp that is not really bad nor good, its okay. Oh and the film is also the first writing credit for David S. Goyer who would go on to pen some of the biggest superhero movies much later like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Also from 1990 was Lionheart where JCVD played French Legionnaire Leon Gaultier who goes A.W.O.L (an alternate title for the film) from his duties after receiving a letter about his seriously injured brother. Finding himself in Los Angeles, Leon enters the world of underground fighting to raise money for his extended family. Its worth noting that this film also features Michel Qissi from Kickboxer.

Jean Claude Van Damme

I quite like Lionheart or Wrong Bet or A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave or Leon or Full Contact…yes this film has that many alternate titles depending on where you are from and when it was released in your country. Its a fairly decent flick with some solid action and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s acting is actually pretty damn good as if he’s finally getting the hang of this acting thing.

Double Impact was released in 1991 and JCVD plays two roles. The twin brothers Chad & Alex Wagner who are made orphans as babies by the Triads. The twins are separated and raised differently, one is a gruff, cigar smoking bad-ass and the other is softer and more gentle…but still able to kick some ass. Years later and they learn of their past, team up to track down and get revenge on those who killed their parents. Double Impact is pretty damn good fun and its interesting to see Van Damme in the dual role playing two sides of the same coin. Oh yeah and man mountain, Bolo Yeung is in the film as the main bad guy which he plays with great relish. This one is worth watching.

His Even Bigger Breakthrough

Its only 1992 and Jean-Claude Van Damme is knocking out films faster than he was opponents in Bloodsport. Next up is his biggest and most successful film up to this point – Universal Soldier.

JCVD Universal Soldier

Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is an army vet along with Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren). While on a mission in Vietnam, 1969 where Luc and Andrew as tasked with clearing out a small village, Andrew snaps and kills two innocent civilians. A shocked Luc turns his gun on Andrew just as he reciprocates and the two end up killing each other. Their bodies are recovered and cryogenically preserved. Decades later and the two corpses are reanimated as super advanced “UniSols” who are genetically enhanced with cybernetics giving them super strength and self-healing abilities while their memories are erased.

These UniSols are used for counter terrorism work and its while on a mission at Hoover Dam to save some hostages when the flashbacks to their previous lives begin and things start to unravel. Luc escapes his creators with the help of TV journalist, Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) and Andrew Scott is sent out to bring him back…only Andrew’s mind is still stuck in Vietnam, 1969 and he thinks the war is still going on. Things get bloody and brutal as Luc just wants to go home to his parents while Andrew wants to kill any and everything in his way.

Oh man, I love this film. Its got just the right blend of sci-fi, martial arts and all out action. Van Damme is fantastic as the slightly confused and lost Luc Deveraux and gets a chance to show a rage of acting skills including some great comic timing. Ally Walker as the TV reporter is even better, a little ballsy mixed with a damsel in distress kind of thing. But the person who steals this film has to be Dolph Lundgren as the utterly psychotic Andrew Scott, perhaps one of my favourite action villains ever? If you get a chance, watch this one its a blast. The chemistry between Van Damme and Lundgren is pure gold.

JCVD Universal Soldier 2.jpg

Universal Soldier was a hug box office hit and catapulted Jean-Claude Van Damme to stardom after several (mostly) modest hits in low budget films.

After making a fun cameo in the massively underrated and clever satire of action films that was Last Action Hero, JCVD starred in 1993’s Nowhere To Run a rather shallow and bland film not really worth bothering with. And followed that up with the far, far better Hard Target also from 93. In this one Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a  Cajun merchant seaman looking for work. He helps Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) who is being attacked by a bunch of thugs and she hires him to help find her missing father. But when they discover Natasha’s father is dead, this leads Chance into a very dangerous game.

JCVD Hard Target

Hard Target is thoroughly entertaining even if the plot is one used a ton of times in the past. But what lifts it above most other action flicks of the time is the man behind the camera. This was the first American film directed by legendary Hong Kong action film maker, John Woo. Woo’s blending of American and Chinese cinema is masterful and makes for some great action well worth checking out. Oh and JCVD punches a snake.

Rising Star

By 1994, Jean-Claude Van Damme could be counted among other big action stars of the day such as Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis. More starring roles were on the horizon too. Timecop was a sci-fi/action picture with a silly plot that’s actually a damn good watch and entertaining from start to finish. Still in 94, Van Damme landed the lead in Street Fighter based on the hugely popular game series…and its awful. Though its worth checking out just for Raúl Juliá in his final film performance as Bison before his death. Honestly as bad as the film is Juliá is amazing in it.

JCVD Street Fighter

95’s Sudden Death was one of those countless Die Hard rip offs that were becoming increasingly more popular at time. You know the kind, a bunch of terrorists show up and take control of a building (in this case a sports stadium) and only one man can save the day. Its okay, above average, one of the better Die Hard rip offs but there are far better films of its ilk out there…like Die Hard. In 1996, Jean-Claude Van Damme not only starred in but also wrote the story for and even directed The Quest. Not a great film at all, in fact its pretty awful – but a lot can be said for the cinematography that showcases the beautiful locales and the wide range of various martial arts on show. Its a lot like his previous flick Bloodsport only not as charming or as 80s.

The Decline

JCVD’s stardom began to dim in the latter part of the 90s, after The Quest he had a couple of below average films followed up with some absolute stinkers and his career would never reach the highs of that early/mid 90s era. Double Team from 1997 was his first real box office bomb. I mean, its a film where he teams up with basketball player Dennis Rodman. That’s like mixing Jack Daniels with orange juice a terrible combo. This was followed up with 98’s Knock Off where his co-star was Rob Schneider…seriously, what the fuck happened Van Damme? You were riding high and then thought doing films with a basketball player and a crap, unfunny comedian would be a good idea? Both Double Team and Knock Off were and still are atrocious.

Oh but he wasn’t done with the bad decisions yet as next up Jean-Claude Van Damme made Legionnaire, a (wait for it) period costume action movie set in the 1920s. Its not very good.

JCVD Legionnaire

In 1999, he made a sequel to one of his most successful film with Universal Soldier: The Return. Set seven years after the events of the first film, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is no longer a UniSol, he’s now human after having his implants removed. Luc now works as a technical expert for the government to help create more advanced UniSols. The program is overseen by S.E.T.H. an artificially intelligent computer. But when S.E.T.H. learns the UniSol program is being shut down, it attempts to protect itself by unleashing a horde of the advanced UniSols as a defense.

The first flick was brilliant, still is. This sequel is trash and boring that lacks everything that made the original so damn great.

Through the 2000s, JCVD had a steady stream of direct to DVD films or films that saw a minimal theatrical release in countries like Spain, Mexico, etc. Films such as; The OrderIn HellThe Hard Corps and Until Death to name a few, made little to no impact and are mostly forgotten about if they were even known to exist in the first place. His career was dying out fast and the name Jean-Claude Van Damme no longer drew in the audience it used to in the 90s.

JCVD JCVD

Then in 2008, JCVD starred in the film JCVD. An interesting Belgian drama in which Van Damme plays a semi-fictional version of himself caught up in a robbery at a post office where his is taken hostage. I don’t want to say too much about this one other than to express how fucking good it is. Its a film one should watch and experience for yourself. Its not an all action, high kicking kung fu flick that you’d normally associate with Jean-Claude Van Damme. This is something very different, a tense drama that’s highly unique with a mesmerising and engrossing performance from JCVD which shows that he really can act well when needed. Perhaps the most notable scene in the film is when Van Damme breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience in a one shot, six minute monologue. Some critics at the time even suggested that Jean-Claude Van Damme should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for his performance…and you know what, he should’ve. Brilliant film.

2009 saw him return to one of his biggest hits once more with Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Okay, so this one ignores the previous and awful Universal Soldier: The Return and works as a direct sequel to the original film. Reuniting Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his arch nemesis Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren).

JCVD Universal Soldier Regeneration

Luc Deveraux is in Switzerland undergoing rehabilitation therapy from his UniSol days in an attempt to reinsert him into society. However, he is used by the government to take part in a mission involving a group of terrorists who’ve taken over the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and are holding hostages. The terrorists threaten to detonate a bomb if their comrades are not freed. When the prime minister gives into the demands of the terrorists, Dr. Colin (Kerry Shale) of the UniSol program is not impressed and sends in a cloned and upgraded version of Andrew Scott who’s severely mentaly unstable and reactivates the terrorist’s bomb. Enter Luc Deveraux to clean up the mess and face his adversary once more.

You know what? This ain’t half bad, in fact it pretty damn good. Its pure low budget b-movie stuff, but its bloody entertaining none the less. The showdown between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren being a particular highlight. If you liked the original flick, then check this one out too.

From 2010 Onward

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s direct to DVD film career continued through the 2010s with a few more notable highlights. He wrote, produced, edited, directed and even starred in Full Love from 2010. The film was screened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival but its not yet been released, though it has been given a 2019 release date along with some more recently shot footage. I have no idea what the film is about, but I hope its something different like JCVD that will showcase his acting a bit more. I’ll certainly be looking out for it next year. Van Damme provided the voice for Master Croc in Kung Fu Panda 2 and its sequel.

Then in 2011, JCVD also took part in his own reality TV show Jean-Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors.

JCVD Coors Light

Since 2012, JCVD been seen in ads for Coors Light. Also in 2012 Van Damme played Jean Vilain in the ensemble action romp The Expendables 2 where he rubbed shoulders with classic and much revered action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus his old friends Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Norris. Still in 2012 and Van Damme slid back into his role of Luc Deveraux for Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning where he once more crosses paths with Dolph Lundgren’s Andrew Scott, and this one is also pretty good too and a great way to end the trilogy.

JCVD Universal Soldier Day of Reckoning

Several more direct to DVD films followed but nothing really worth mentioning. Until 2016 when JCVD was part of a remake of one of his much loved films with Kickboxer: Vengeance. But instead of playing the main hero, he plays the teacher role as Master Durand. Kurt Sloane is played by Alain Moussi this time around with villain Tong Po played by Dave Bautista. Then in 2018, JCVD returned for the sequel, Kickboxer: Retaliation with several of the cast also coming back. I’ve been writing this article just after watching the the two films and have to say how much I enjoyed them. Van Damme still looks great and has that magnetic personality and charm, acts very well and even gets to kick some bad guys in the face too. Its great to still see him doing what he does best and doing it so well.

Then production is said to start this year is the third film, Kickboxer: Armageddon. Its not been confirmed whether Jean-Claude Van Damme will be in the film or not, but I strongly suspect so (I hope so anyway). It also seems like we may be seeing JCVD return as Leon Gaultier in a sequel to Lionheart, which is also said to begin production this year.

JCVD Lionheart 2

Well that’s pretty much yer lot. As I said at the start, I’ve not covered every film of JCVD’s career…but I think I’ve got most of them here and certainly the ones well worth watching if you get chance.


You know, I really do genuinely like this guy and I’d love to see him in bigger and more mainstream films. Whenever I’ve seen him in interviews, Jean-Claude Van Damme always comes across as very likable, charming and humble. I know he’s had a few demons in the past involving drugs and money issues and I sincerely hope JCVD is over the worst of it all. He may not be an Oscar worthy actor but can still really surprise with just how good he can be at times (see JCVD for proof). I’d love to see him as a celebrated action star as he was in the 90s.

Some of his early flicks are stone cold classics. The likes of Bloodsport, KickboxerLionheartUniversal Soldier and of course the utterly awesome No Retreat, No Surrender are still damn fine films and ones I love to watch every now and then.

I really did grow up watching Van Damme films and have a lot of happy memories surrounding them too. Thanks for all the entertainment JCVD.

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Believe me – I’ve done very good stuff and very crazy stuff, and I don’t regret the crazy stuff.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

The Troubled Remake Of The Crow And My Idea

Its recently been announced that they are remaking the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.

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Well I never expected that news but as a huge Bruce Lee fan (my middle name is Lee named after him) I was brought up on his movies, I’ve read countless books about the man and watched just as many documentaries. I love me a bit of Brucie so you’d think I’d be upset about a remake of one of my favorite films of his. I’m not.

Just as a quick aside. The Enter the Dragon remake is getting some backlash over the fact they have hired a white American to direct the film in David Leitch. Errrr, the original was directed by the white American Robert Clouse, produced by white Americans Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller and written by white American Micheal Allin. Worked then didn’t it? Point is, why does the colour of a person’s skin or their race matter? Shouldn’t it be about hiring the best person for the job regardless of their race?

Back to the main point…the talk of remaking Enter the Dragon got me thinking about a similar subject, the much troubled remake of The Crow.

Yes I know there will be a certain group of people who will instantly take a disliking to any talk of a remake of The Crow. But hey, I’m not one of them and this is my blog – so tough. You want to rant and rave against it, set up your own blog.

I honestly think that, if done right a remake of The Crow could be amazing. But before I offer my idea, a quick history on the numerous troubles in getting The Crow remade…okay so before my idea and before the troubled history – maybe a quick mention of exactly what The Crow is and why some people are against it.

The Source

The Crow Comic

Originally written in the form of a comic book series and published in 1989, The Crow was born from the bitterness and anger of writer/artist James O’Barr who lost his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver. The Crow is a bloody and violent revenge tale with a hell of a lot of heart and emotion. Telling the story of Eric and his girlfriend Shelly, who one night are attacked. Eric is put in hospital fighting for his life while Shelly is killed outright. Eric holds on to life while a mysterious crow tells him the let go. Eric eventually dies but is brought back by the crow. Eric now possess supernatural powers such as invulnerability which he uses to extract revenge on those that killed both him and Shelly.

Its a dark and moody story with a lot of rough edges and a little uneven in places for sure, but its also a brilliant and utterly enthralling story and well worth reading if you can find a copy.

The Movie

The Crow Eric

In 1994, a film adaption was released after the death of its star Brandon Lee who was accidentally shot on set while filming in 93. Director Alex Proyas was so upset by Lee’s death that he felt he couldn’t continue with the film despite the fact that Lee had already finished pretty much all of his work and his death occurred with only three days let of the film shoot. The film sat on the shelf for several months and it looked like it would never be released, until Linda Lee (Brandon’s mother) stepped in an urged Proyas to finish the film out of respect for her son.

The Crow was released in 94 and became a huge cult hit and made a star of Brandon Lee.

The Controversy

It is the death of Brandon Lee while making The Crow why many people feel it should never be remade. I’m not one of them. Look, I loved the movie back in the day – but quite honestly, it hasn’t really held up well. A film I once loved back in the 90s just feels very off after I read the comic books it was based on. The 94 film is a bastardised, diluted film that lacks so much of what made the source material so damn good. I don’t “hate” the film version at all and can quite happily sit down to watch it – but its just lacking in so many ways, it feels so weak after reading the comic books. And as controversial as it may seem, no film or character is bigger than any actor.

The Crow Eric 2

Getting upset over a remake of The Crow due to the death of Lee is like boycotting any and everything involving the character of The Joker due to the death of Heath Ledger. Times change, new ideas need to be explored and above everything else – no matter if The Crow remake eventually happens or not…the 94 film will always be there. Nothing any remake does or does not do can ever take anything away from the film Brandon Lee died for while making. If the remake does happen and whether its the best film ever made or a big piece of shit, the 94 film will still be the exact same film it was before. Nothing changes, so just calm down folks.

The Troubles

So the idea of remaking The Crow has been around for quite a while, as far back as 2008 in fact. Originally Blade director Stephen Norrington was in the main man for the job until he left the project and director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo of 28 Weeks Later fame stepped in around 2011. There were talks of having Bradley Cooper play the main role too as this early concept art shows.

Concept Art

The film was moving along nicely but a few legal matters between the production company of the remake, Relativity Media and creator of The Crow James O’Barr that had not been fully sorted out surfaced. This eventually put the project on hold and led to scheduling conflicts with Cooper who then had to drop out. Producers needed a new lead and looked at Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling and James McAvoy as possible replacements. Around this time, director Fresnadillo also left the project. So they were back at square one.

This was when the then unknown Spanish director Francisco Javier Gutiérrez became attached. New actors were considered including Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, and finally, Luke Evans. The film even got to a point where Evans was officially announced to star and the remake was once more going ahead around 2015. Not too long after the announcement though and Evans dropped out to be replaced with Jack Huston…who also dropped out soon after being announced as lead actor. New actors were being suggested with both Nicholas Hoult and Jack O’Connell but director Gutiérrez eventually left. Yes, back at square one…again.

Jason Momoa and Corin Hardy

Enter English director Corin Hardy who relished the idea of remaking The Crow and began working on the film in 2015. However, Relativity Media who were set to produce the film filed for bankruptcy, so Hardy left. Still, Relativity Media carried on with the project despite their money troubles and Hardy unexpectedly returned to the film with Game of Thrones and Aquaman actor Jason Momoa signing to play the lead. It seemed a little strange that a studio filing for bankruptcy were still trying to get a big budget film  made and in 2016 Davis Films, Highland Film Group, and Electric Shadow banded together and bought the rights to the film from Relativity Media. Both Hardy and Momoa stayed on board and in 2017 Sony agreed to distribute the film. Things were looking good once more and the remake was going full steam ahead. Production was set to begin in early 2018 in Budapest. This was the furthest the remake had ever gotten. There were even start dates announced for filming…

Yet around May of this year and it all fell apart…again. Even though Sony announced an 11th of October, 2019 release date, both director Hardy and lead actor Momoa left the project. Which all brings us up to date with this decade long attempt to remake The Crow. Once more, the remake is back at square one. And its a damn shame too as it had been said that James O’Barr was fully on board with this remake and aimed to make it a much more faithful adaption of his original source material…which is exactly what I want to see…

My Idea

I fucking love the original The Crow comics and as I said earlier, I feel they are far more powerful and with more depth than the 94 film version which I think is massively diluted over its source material. I have a far simpler and I think much better idea for the remake than any of the attempts over the last ten years too. Just take the comic books and animate them.

The Crow Comic 2

Same art style, same characters, same plot. Use the comics as storyboards and bring the whole thing to life via animation. I’ll even allow some creative license with the material to a point. Much like Robert Rodriguez did when he made Sin City. Be about 90% faithful to the source, but still tweak things enough to allow the director to put their own stamp on it. Alter and switch some of the dialogue, tinker with colours in the stark black and white world – blood, etc. But still remain as true to the comics as you can. James O’Barr could be story and art director but give the main directing job to a great animator/director such as Brad Bird, Dorota Kobiela, Sylvain Chomet, Gil Kenan or how about giving one of the old guard a chance to return to their roots with Don Bluth or Tim Burton?

Holly fuck-balls. An adult based Tim Burton directed animated film closely based off The Crow comics. That has to be the best idea since someone said “I think I’ll put some Jack Daniels into this glass of Coke.”.

The Crow Comic 3

I’d love to see an adult, uber violent, bloody but still with all the heart and emotion animated attempt at The Crow and finally see one of the finest comic book series brought to life on film full of life. Make it happen Sony.

Why Disney Sacking James Gunn Is Bullshit

So over the weekend, Disney decided to fire writer/director James Gunn from his duties on the up and coming Guardians of the Galaxy 3. This is after Gunn had already penned and helmed the first two films for Marvel who are owned by Disney which went on to become huge box office hits and an important piece of the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Gunn was fired in relation to a handful of Tweets he made with jokes about rape and paedophilia, now on the surface and given Disney’s strict “family friendly” persona that yes, sacking someone who would make such Tweets is understandable. On the surface. Walt Disney Studios’ Chairman had this to say on the matter…

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Fuck off Disney as if you’ve never been offensive in  the past. Which brings me nicely to my main gripe. I have a few problems with the whole thing and Disney’s blatant hypocrisy over the whole affair. Yes Gunn made some questionable Tweets…some of which are a decade old. Are Disney really going to bring up the past of someone as a negative about who/what they are today? If so, then I feel there should be a balance and on the subject of being fair – lets look at Disney’s past…

What about their animated propaganda film, Education For Death? For those not in the know, this was an animated short showing the evolution of a Nazi soldier form birth to adulthood. Given the fact that it was strongly believed that Walt Disney was a Nazi supporter/sympathiser. Would it be acceptable to bring this past up too then Disney? You know, just to be fair. Just imagine what it would be like if Disney also had one of their most famous characters like Donald Duck dressed as a Nazi giving a photo of Hitler the Nazi salute or reading Mein Kampf…

Donald Duck NaziDonald Duck Mein Kampf

Oh yeah, that happened too in the cartoon Der Fuehrer’s Face. Funny though, Disney don’t seem to bring this slice of their past up all that often, as if it was something they no longer associate themselves with as they were different back then to who they are now. A bit like James Gunn and his Tweets. You can’t walk around Disney World and line up for a Nazi Donald Duck ride for example, nor will you find any Nazi Donald Duck merchandise.

Or what about the fact that Walt Disney himself refused to hire women to work as animators at the studio? Its true, Disney felt that “women do not do any of the creative work” and declared “that work is performed entirely by young men”. So if you were a talented animator and female back then…well fuck you. No penis, no job.

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Yeah it all a bit unfair to bring up the past as a punishment for someone today isn’t it? Yet still – there’s more. Song of the South a Disney film surrounded by infamy and a film that still has never seen a home release in the U.S. But why? Mainly due to its massive racist under and overtones. Now to be fair, Disney have never fully banned the film, they have released clips and even songs from the film, most famously the Oscar winning Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah for example. Plus there is the Splash Mountain ride at Disney theme parks that is inspired by the movie…none of the racist stuff made it into the ride though for some reason. Still, even after all these years, the film has never been given a home release in the U.S. despite several times over the years where Disney have said they fully intend to do just that, the most recent of which was back in 2010 by Disney creative director Dave Bossert who said that Disney intend to give the film a U.S. release but still that has not happened. Does it really take over eight years to get a film released for the home market?

There is a lot more to Disney’s rather checkered and questionable past and some of it can be a bit more recent than the 1930s and 40s when times were different. I mean I could bring up their refusal to put up warning signs about the population of alligators at Disney World in Florida as they believe these warnings would break the illusion and magic they strive for at the theme park. Well lets be fair, they now have these warnings in place, but only after the death of a two year old boy in 2016. Its just a shame it took the death of a child before Disney did anything about it though eh?

Aligator Warning

Or what about the working conditions at Disneyland Paris where so far two employees have committed suicide over their treatment. With one of them leaving the suicide note of “Je ne veux pas retourner chez Mickey” (I don’t want to work for Mickey any more). Expecting staff do work longer hours for minimum wage and numerous staff cuts despite the increasing visitor numbers?

Maybe I’m getting a little off track here, but my point is that Disney sacking James Gunn over Tweets made a decade ago is more then a little hypocritical given their own past and some of their questionable standards. Much like Disney, Gunn is not the same person he was a decade ago they have both changed. Surely if people can and have forgiven Disney for some of their questionable history, then Disney can do the same with James Gunn? He clearly feels remorse over his past humor.

“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative.

I have regretted them for many years since – not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.

Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

If it really is Disney’s policy of sacking people who work for them over questionable jokes that person has made, then they’d have to fire pretty much any and everyone associated to the Disney company as everyone has made an off colour joke/comment in their lives.

Hey Disney, that fella that plays Tony Stark/Ironman in your movies – you may want to look into his past as you may find he has said and done some questionable things too, drugs, firearm offenses and the like…

But wait, I have another slice of hypocrisy for you. Disney have recently bought 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion. That’s a big chunk of cash alright and Disney now own all the IPs and licences that 21st Century Fox owned, that includes the film rights of a certain other Marvel superhero…

Deadpool.jpg

Yup, Disney now own the Deadpool movies and if you’ve seen either of the two movies, then you know that they are hardly “family friendly” and really do not fit into the Disney mantra. But even more specifically, Deadpool 2‘s main villain is Firefist who was brought up in an orphanage and its made pretty clear that he was sexually abused there too…and there are several jokes about paedophilia within the film. The very same reason Disney have sacked James Gunn to begin with. The only difference is that Gunn’s comments are years old, Deadpool 2 is just over two months old. I’m still willing to bet that Deadpool 2 will see a home release and fully uncut with those paedophilia jokes in tact even though its now owned by Disney who clearly have a problem with such humor. The irony eh?

Moving on from Disney’s obvious hypocrisy, James Gunn was known as a comedy writer, he was known for his near the knuckle comments and jokes long before he was hired by Disney. So they must have already known what he was like beforehand right, they must have done their homework on the person they chose to head-up and be part of one of their biggest franchises? I mean, that would have been like Disney asking Richard Pyror to appear in a Disney film in the 70s/80s but not knowing he had a penchant for saying “nigga” beforehand. But now his past comments have been brought up…now they decide to sack him? Utter bullshit.

I don’t know James Gunn, never met the guy and for all I know he could be a complete prick. So my offering any kind of opinion on the man would be pretty pointless. But what about people who do know him, worked with him? His cast members from the Guardians of the Galaxy films as an example have spoken out on how much of a great guy he is and how wrong Disney are for sacking him. Actors like Dave Bautista

“I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this.. is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him”

Or Selma Blair

“@JamesGunn I thank you for your talent, your decency and your evolution as a man. You propped me up when I was in a scary place, and guided me towards the decent and right thing to do. You have shown strength of character more than most anyone I know. You understood.”

Because if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones.”

There’s a long list of celebs echoing similar views and opinions, they all know Disney are in the wrong here.

James Gunn 2

A petition has been started to get James Gunn reinstated and back working on  the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, and rightly so too. Disney should be offering Gunn an apology right about now while crawling back to him on their knees asking him to return. He has done nothing wrong. Do me a favor, sign the petition. Its currently smashing its target and even if Disney do not reverse their pathetic decision, at least it shows support for a man who has been wronged.

Why I Miss VHS Rental Stores

To paraphrase Madonna.

“We are living in a digital world. And I am a digital girl…or boy.”

Quite honestly, I think the digital age of media that we are living in is amazing. Any and everything we want/need at the click of a button and most of the time we never have to leave our nice, soft and comfy sofas. Then if we do need to leave the comforting warmth of our homes, we can just download media to our mobile devices to enjoy on the move. Movies, TV shows, music and games, we have everything we need for hours upon hours of entertainment. Just give me a beer (or seven), my smart TV/Xbox and I’m good for a few days – happy as a pig in…well you know.

The convenience of the digital age, the speed and sheer variety of things we can watch/play is astonishing. You’ve got yer Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and many others. All services that offer all the movies and so much more besides at the touch of a button. But I want to take you back to the dark ages, before digital media and to an age when we actually had to leave the house if we wanted to watch a film at home. The age of the VHS rental shops.

Blockbuster

Now, I’m from England and yes we had the likes of Blockbuster Video over here too, they were everywhere at one point. Blockbuster were the kings of VHS rentals, love em’ or hate em’, you can’t deny they were the best of the best until their inevitable downfall. But I don’t want to talk about a giant store like Blockbuster or their fall from grace, I want to cover those smaller, independent rental shops. Those tucked away, grubby, sticky floored, stale popcorn selling shops that us older generation went to before Blockbuster became king. I also want to try and paint a picture with words (and a few pictures) to show just how great these places were and try to explain just why I miss them so.

A nice little history lesson for those too young to remember or know the excitement of VHS rentals or even a trip down memory lane for those old enough to remember/care and who miss the whole rental experience as I do.

My Memories

My local VHS rental place was in Kings Norton, Birmingham – where I grew up in the 80s. It was just opposite The Navigation Inn on Pershore Road. Can’t remember what it was called, but they all had generic names like Bob’s Rentals or VHS Village, etc. They were never impressive places, often dully lit, stains on the carpet and had that weird/hard to place smell. They were grim places and yet, they were the highlight of the week at the same time.

VHS Store

Yeah, they looked like that, complete with carpet stains and dozens of movie posters plastered everywhere. The VHS rental visit would always be on a Friday night after school and this was something you looked forward to from Monday morning onward. Spending all week during break-times between classes chatting to your school friends about the films you watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you saw. Sometimes even during class if and when you got bored.

Those five days from Monday to Friday seemed to go on forever and ever. Then, Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, the school bell would ring and it was the sweetest sound you’d hear all week. School was done and what lay in wait was two days of watching movies, just hours away and that weekly trip to Terry’s Tapes (or whatever it was called) was on the horizon. But first, homework, something to eat and tidy your room just to build that an-tici-pation. Once all the annoying time wasting stuff was out of the way sometime after 5 pm, it was VHS rental time.

VHS Village

As you’d make your way to the shop, you’d be thinking about the films you wanted to watch and remember the ones you and your friends were talking about at school over the last several days, looking forward to the posters you might see hanging in the window or stuck to the walls via Blu-Tack. Then before you knew it, you were there, standing outside the door of the shop and just like Father Merrin standing outside the MacNeil house, you’d stop, look at the windows and pause just staring at the shop in wonderment.

The Exorsict

After the pause, you’d eagerly push open the door while your eyes darted between the many posters on display and that smell would hit your nostrils. That stale, stagnant odour only independent VHS rental shops had and one I’ve not smelt for decades. It was a strange mix of body odour, the plastic of the VHS boxes, cigarette smoke (as people could still light up indoors back then), finished off with whatever the hell was staining the carpet. And trust me when I say that the distinct aroma was even worse during the summer. Then you stepped inside and you were finally there. The annoyances and frustrations of a hard week at school just melted away – had a painful and laborious double science class on Wednesday? Fugetaboutit. You were standing right in the middle of your own personal nirvana and loving every single second of it.

Four of your five senses kicked into overdrive. Your sight was almost blinded by the images on the posters and the rows upon rows of VHS boxes. Your hearing bombarded with the sounds of films and trailers being played on the 12 inch TV resting on the shop counter. Your smell took in every last whiff of that horrible, yet familiar odour. While your touch was put into practice as you held and caressed the VHS cases as you browsed the impressive collection. Your fifth sense, taste, would just have to wait until later when you bought some of that out of date Toffee Butterkist sitting in a wire basket/shelf near the counter as no one ever bothered checked the use by date.

Merrily making your way through the labyrinthine rows of VHS tapes and heading straight to the horror section that was always at the back of the shop, away from the front door and windows. Not necessarily because you wanted to rent a horror film (though you mainly did), but because you knew that the very top row of the highest shelf of the horror section was where the shop owner always kept the ‘discrete’ porn section (we didn’t hide our VHS porn behind a curtain in England). You’d intensely look at the wide array of horror film covers as you walked back and forth along the horror section pretending to be really, really interested in Hellraiser, Demons, Dawn Of The Dead, etc –  but then quickly flit your gaze upwards toward that top shelf in a vein attempt to catch a glimpse of some Russ Meyer movie cover, maybe a little side boob or censored nipple as this was the equivalent of hardcore porn of today to a 14 year old in the 1980s.

ELECTRIC BLUE VHS

Your hands were at the point of breaking into a clammy sweat as you picked up the numerous empty VHS boxes and your eyes soaked up in every little detail of the cover art. Awesome box art like; The TerminatorMad MaxHighlanderBig Trouble in Little China as well as numerous others – images that still bring a smile to your face even today. You’d flip the empty box over and read the synopsis, see who was in the film and look at the tiny screen caps as you thought about renting the tape out. But even though you were browsing…you already knew what films you wanted rent. One of them was always the holy grail of VHS rentals in the 80s – Back to the Future. Even though you saw it seven times at the cinema, you wanted to watch it again at home, but every time you tried to rent it, all copies were already out as the shop only had two tapes and the waiting list was around seven to eight weeks. Still, you’d always ask anyway in case someone brought it back early...they never did.

Back To The Future VHS

So you’d pick your three or four films for the weekend, one of which would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark for the eighth time that year (and it was only March). Taking your arm-full of empty boxes to the counter and picking up a couple of bags of that several months out of date Toffee Butterkist too, the shop owner would ask for your membership card despite the fact you’ve been going in every Friday night like clockwork for the last five years and he knows you by name and your address better than you do. As the server frantically searched the wall of VHS tapes behind the counter for your chosen rentals, you would glace over at that 12 inch TV most probably showing a trailer for Death Wish 3 or maybe Breakin‘ 2Electric Boogaloo. That’s when you’d notice the ex-rental basket where older VHS tapes were being sold off cheap so you could own them yourself. I still remember buying the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller tape for 75p…bargain.

If you were lucky, if you were a regular and if the owner liked you, then they may let you rent one for free or even better…the behind the counter stuff, the banned or fully uncut versions of The Evil Dead or The Exorcist that were not readily availableYou see, in the 80s here in England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) went a little mad and created the infamous video nasty list. Where a lot of (mainly) horror films were either cut to shreds and censored to the point of being unwatchable or they were just outright banned. So getting to see these films in tact in the 80s was an even more sought after holly grail than a VHS copy of Back to the Future. You didn’t know how he got these films and didn’t care either. All I knew and cared about was that I got to see a fully uncut version of The Evil Dead in 1984, which (if you know anything about the infamy this film had in England at the time) was simply impossible. Still, ask no questions, tell no lies. There were no real age-checks back then, no ID required as long as you were not renting out porn, everything else was fair game if you had the membership card. Yeah blood soaked violence, horror and swearing were okay but nudity and sex? That was a major taboo. You may have been only fourteen years old but if you wanted to rent out John Carpenter’s The Thing…okay. I quite honestly think I saw more horror films as an underage teenager in the 80s via my local VHS store than when I was legally allowed to and after becoming an adult.

Then after paying for your rentals, the guy behind the counter would thrust your chosen VHS tapes into a plastic bag with that not at its best Butterkist and hand it to you along with your by now very used, slightly torn and curled at the edges membership card. Then you’d step out of that odorous, stuffy VHS rental shop into the fresh air which provided an instant hit like no other legal high could manage, that smell of freshness that indicated it was almost movie time.

VHS Player.jpg

Hurrying home and thrusting your rented VHS tapes into that monster of a top-loader player (about the size of 4 Xbox One consoles combined…and I don’t mean the slim version). The loud mechanisms and servo motors would whirl into action as the top loading tape-tray eagerly swallowed the VHS tape and digested it. You’d have to adjust the tracking (look it up), sit through direct to VHS trailers of so bad they’re good action films that most probably starred Chuck Norris and were produced by Cannon Films. Movies that most people have long forgotten about or secretly still admire to this day, those guilty pleasures all us VHS enthusiasts love to watch but don’t tell anyone about, like the Missing In Action trilogy. Then the main event began, the film(s) you have waited all week to watch. You rented out Best Defense only because Eddie Murphy was on the cover and he was the big comedy star of the 80s. Yeah the film was terrible…but you still enjoyed it, not because of the film itself but because of the entire experience of choosing the film previously and an experience you couldn’t wait to repeat the following weekend.

Then after the weekend of watching films. One of which was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark…again, while eating that stale Toffee Butterkist. You’d go back to school on Monday morning to tell your friends about the films you’d watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you watched, etc and restart the whole cycle once more as that five day countdown to Friday and 3:30 pm began again.


 

That, all of that is what I miss about VHS rentals. Yes, I do love and very much appreciate the digital age…but we have lot something very special to make way for it. We have pretty much any movie at the touch of a button now, we don’t have to worry about something not being in stock as its always going to be there and with that, we have lost the anticipation and excitement of getting your hands on the film you really want to watch. We no longer get to explore cover art, flip the box over, read the synopsis and soak up those movie stills, etc. We now just click on download/stream and instantly have whatever we want. Convenient? Yes. As enjoyable? Not at all.

RIP VHS

R.I.P VHS rental stores. I for one miss you.

 

From Page To Screen: Die Hard

Today is the 15th of July, my birthday. But despite marking me getting older, this day is important for another reason too. Thirty years ago today and Die Hard was given its official cinematic release. Admittedly, it had its premier on the 12th but it was given a public release on the 15th of July 1988. So yippee ki-yay mother fuckers – Die Hard is thirty years old today.

Die Hard 30th

I have been doing a few Die Hard related articles through the year to celebrate three decades of arguably the greatest action/thriller movie ever from quick nods and references to dedicated articles for the film itself (with more to come later). Today I’m going to try my hand at something different and an idea I have wanted to do for a while now – take a look at the novel that inspired the film and bring up some of the differences. This isn’t to compare the two mediums at all or try to work out which one is “better”, I love both the book and movie for different reasons. No, I just aim to go through the two and bring up the changes (big and small) made from page to film. I have a fair few of these I’d like to do in the future but I think to celebrate 30 years of one of the greatest action/thrillers ever, that Die Hard is a fantastic place to begin this (hopefully) new feature.

So I guess I’d better crack on. But before I do, I will offer my usual SPOILERS warning for both the movie and book from this point on. If you have never read the book, then I strongly suggest you do as it is awesome and offers quite a few surprises even if you know the film inside out.

Die Hard Book.jpg

Yup that is me holding my very own copy of Die Hard the novel…except it wasn’t originally called Die Hard. What I have is a reprint released after the success of the film. Which brings us to the first notable difference. The title. The novel was originally released in 1979 by author Roderick Thorp and was called Nothing Lasts Forever (sounds like a James Bond flick to me) and NLF was even a sequel to Thorp’s own novel, The Detective from 1966.

In DH, the main character played by Bruce Willis is called John McClane. In the book though he is called Joseph Leland. There are other differences to the characters than just their names too. John is a young-ish but experienced New York cop with a witty almost sarcastic attitude (“No fucking shit lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza!”) and problems with authority figures. Joseph however is an older, more grizzled and weary character and now retired from the police force. His attitude seemingly comes from his many years as a cop, some of which are from the previous book along with his time serving as a fighter pilot during World War II. This man has seen his fair share of death already and is vastly different to the upbeat and wisecracking John McClane from the flick.

John McClane

When we first meet John in the film, he is on a plane from New York and just landed in L.A. on his way to meet his estranged wife, Holly at a Christmas party held at her work place of Nakatomi Plaza. Joseph’s introduction is a little different – though the scenario is similar. We meet him in the book as he rides in a taxi on his way to the airport to catch a plane to L.A. There’s some issues with traffic and Joseph brandishes his gun – showing his short temper and bitter anger very early on. He is flying to L.A. to meet up with Stephanie Gennaro, his only child who works for the Klaxon Oil company to celebrate the closing of a huge multi-million dollar deal on Christmas Eve. The relationship between father and daughter has been strained since the death of Joseph’s wife (Stephanie’s mother) eight years previously.

At the building in DH, John quickly scopes the place out before meeting Harry Ellis, the sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine, who has eyes for Holly – John doesn’t much like him. This is similar in the book too as Joseph does pretty much the same, checking out the Klaxon building on his arrival. He also gets to meet Harry Ellis who is also a sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine. However, in NLF Harry is actually sleeping with Stephanie which Joseph instantly takes a disliking to. DH also features Joseph Takagi, Holly’s boss and head executive of Nakatomi. A character John seems to like during their brief introduction. NLF also has a boss character called Mr. Rivers as the president of Klaxon Oil. Its made pretty clear in the book that Joseph really doesn’t like Rivers at all and sees him as trouble and a bad influence for his daughter and thinks she is becoming just like these coke snorting assholes she is working with. There is the very expensive watch in both too. In DH, its a gift to Holly from her boss for helping to close a big deal. In NLF, the watch was bought buy Stephanie herself and this tiny detail is important, later…

Ellis

The film and book pretty much follow the exact same plot form this point onward. In DH, John is separated from the party as he cleans himself up after his flight. He’s making fists with his toes as the terrorists strike and John hears gunfire. As all hell breaks loose, John manages to slip away from the main action avoiding being rounded up with the other hostages, barefoot and with only his service pistol for backup. Joseph in NLF pretty much does the exact same thing. Its here in the flick when we get to meet one of the greatest cinematic villains ever. Hans Gruber, played flawlessly by the great Alan Rickman. Hans is slick, charismatic, well educated and highly intelligent. In NLF, the main villain is Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber. They are pretty similar in their personalities but I guess the main difference between Hans and Anton is their goal. In DH, Hans uses a facade of a terrorist attack to steal $640 million in bearer bonds from the vaults of Nakatomi Plaza. But in NLF, there is no facade. Anton and his cohorts are real terrorists and are there to take on Klaxon Oil over the very deal Stephanie and her colleagues are celebrating. You see, Klaxon Oil have been dealing with Chile’s junta and Anton plans to steal documents that he will use to publicly expose Klaxon Oil for all their corruption.

Nakatomi Plaza.jpg

Once the action kicks into gear, there aren’t too many notable differences. In fact some of the iconic action sequences from DH are lifted verbatim from NLF.  The killing of the first terrorist is the same including the broken neck along with the undignified trip in an elevator while wearing the “Now I have a machine gun” sweatshirt. Only in the book the message reads “Now we have a machine gun”. Its a subtle change for sure, but its also one worth mentioning as it shows Joseph’s line of thinking and how he is playing mind games with the terrorists by tricking them into thinking there is more than one of him running around the building. The elevator shaft escape while being hunted down, getting trapped in the air ducts, etc. All in both the movie and the book. As are the throwing a dead terrorist out of the building to get the attention of the police, strapping C-4 to a chair and using it to stop the terrorists from killing the police all from the book. Think of a major action sequence in the film and you’ll find it on the page.

There is even a Sergeant Al Powell who John/Joseph communicates with throughout the story. But where Al in the movie is a older, experienced cop – in the book he’s in his early 20s and with much less experience under his belt. Yet they both serve the same purpose in both the film and book and this it to keep John/Joseph as clam and sane as they can through the whole ordeal. There’s also a Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson in both the picture and the novel and yes, they are both complete assholes too who think of John/Joseph as doing more harm than good. I guess its also worth noting that earlier in the book as he was flying to L.A., Joseph made friends with a stewardess named Kathi who he manages to talk to several times through the book.

Powell

More of the same with John/Joseph listening in and feeling helpless as Hans/Anton kills Harry Ellis over the matter of getting his detonators back. Only the book makes it much more clear that Joseph feels responsible for the death although there was nothing he could’ve done. Yes even the fire-hose/exploding roof jump escape is in both the movie and book. So is the psychical damage done to John/Joseph as they both get beaten and bloody throughout – though in my opinion, I feel the book does a far better job of detailing and getting across just how much physical abuse Joseph goes through in the novel over John in the film. Some of the descriptions in the novel vastly outweigh anything John suffers in the film.

A big difference between film and the book is that the novel is told pretty much always from the point of view of Joseph Leland. In the film we get to see several scenes that follow and detail what Hans and the boys are up to, what the police are doing while John runs around Nakatomi Plaza. The book doesn’t really do any of that and we only learn what the terrorists are doing if and when Joseph sees or hears it. There are also times when Joseph thinks back to his World War II days and some of the horrors he witnessed that shaped him to be the troubled and and bitter but tough retired cop he now is. Overall, Joseph is given a much more detailed backstory in the book over John in the film.

Now for the ending and once more, I will issue another SPOILER warning here as the books ending is similar but also very different to the movie. Its well worth experiencing as a first time reader rather than have it ruined for you here. Read on at your own peril.

Hans Fall

DH has one of the most iconic and satisfying endings in action cinema. The way John’s quick thinking with some seasonal sellotape and only two rounds of ammo is a joy to watch. The image of Hans falling backward out of the window while still holding the watch enveloped wrist of Holly, slowly pulling her to her possible death – only for John to save his wife at the last second by unfastening the watch. The ending of NLF is similar as Joseph finds himself is much the same situation. Yes he has his gun taped to his back to as he faces Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber who is using Joseph’s daughter, Stephanie as human shield.

Things don’t exactly go the same way though for Joseph in the book as they did for John in the movie. Anton manages to shoot Stephanie in the gut just as Joseph empties his gun into Anton. As he falls out of the window, Anton manages to grab Stephanie’s watch…you know the one she bought for herself to celebrate the big deal Klaxon Oil signed off on and the very reason Anton and his cohorts turned up at the Christmas party to begin with. Anton begins to fall to his inevitable death dragging Joseph’s only child, Stephanie with him and they both fall from the Klaxon Oil building before Joseph can react. Yes, they kill off the girl and its pretty shocking too knowing the ending to DH. Joseph snaps and hunts down the rest of the terrorists, he finds an unarmed female member of Anton’s group who is trying to surrender and kills her in cold blood by shooting her in the head out of anger. Its pretty brutal stuff.

Joseph then discovers some corporate documents that detail everything Klaxon Oil had been doing including arms deals with the Chilean junta. Illegal deals that Stephanie was fully compliant with. This is why the little detail of who bought the watch is very important. In DH, the watch is a gift to Holly from her boss to celebrate her helping to close a big deal. In NLF though is was Stephanie who bought the watch for herself to celebrate closing a shady deal between Klaxon and the Chilean junta, shady and illegal deals she was directly involved in and the very reason Anton launched the terrorist attack to begin with. Its this point in the book when it hits you that the terrorists were the good guys and Stephanie’s death via her own greed of the watch is pretty damn justified. If she hand’t gotten involved in all the illegal activity at Klaxon Oil, if she hadn’t bought that watch – then she would’ve lived.

Of course there is still the little stinger at the very end that needs looking at. In DH, John and Holly get out of the building and our hero sees Al Powell for the first time after spending a big chunk of the movie talking to him via a walkie-talkie. They share that look of respect and admiration without a word spoken now all the terrorists are dead. But then Karl, a previously believed dead terrorist appears, bloody and beaten. He aims a gun squarely at the unarmed John. Al opens fire killing Karl where he stands. John and Holly drive off into the sunrise as the credits roll while Vaughn Monroe belts out “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Classic.

Karl

That stinger is in the book too, only it plays out a little differently. Joseph emerges from the Klaxon building, he’s tired, bloody and now his only child is dead – he’s a completely broken man lost in his own madness and anger. Karl appears just as he does in the film, only he sprays the gathered crowd outside the building with automatic gunfire killing plenty of people, mainly reporters who have surrounded Joseph trying to get an interview. People die…lots of people as Karl tries to shoot Joseph. He does manage to shoot our hero in the leg and would have finished the job too but for a rather shocking moment where Al Powell grabs hold of Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson and forces him in the line of fire and Dwayne is mortally shot…Al kills Dwayne, yeah he was an asshole but still, fucking hell! Al then kills Karl by shooting him in the head. Joseph is taken away in an ambulance as he lies an the gurney a broken man who has lost everything. The end.


Die Hard Vent.jpg

So there you have it some (not all) of the differences between Die Hard and the novel it is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever. As I said at the start, I haven’t written this to decide which is best –  I love them both but for very different reasons. Like most, I saw the flick before I read the book and while they are both very similar in the basic plot, there are still many changes between the two that I feel make both investing some time in.

I enjoy Die Hard for its everyday guy against the odds story. The character of John McClane is an utterly charming and engrossing one. The ending is rousing and uplifting. Then there is Nothing Lasts Forever. Which I see as the darker, negative mirror image of Die Hard. Joseph Leland is a cantankerous, rougher and older character. Killing off his daughter is a ballsy move but one that pays off when you realise she is really one of the bad guys through the illegal deals of the Klaxon Oil company she works for. The realisation that the terrorists are really the good guys is a brilliant twist and when you think about it, if Joseph had done nothing and was taken away with the rest of the hostages…then no one would’ve died including his daughter and the dodgy, illegal deals that Klaxon were involved in would have been revealed. Really, Joseph fucked everything up…he’s the bad guy.

I really enjoyed looking at these differences between book and movie and will do more in the future. Now where did I put my The Crow graphic novel?