Celebrating The Excellently Crafted Action of ‘Bad Boys’ (1995)

Looking back at the ultimate action legacy of one of the best franchises of its era…

Bad Boys was released in 1995, directed by Michael Bay in his directorial debut, produced by legendary production duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. This buddy-buddy vehicle stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two mismatched detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnet who are tasked with retrieving $100 million in stolen heroin from their police lockup.

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Bad Boys 25 Years Later

Bad Boys was one of the top films released in the summer of 1995 and made stars out of its two charismatic leads who were still television stars at the time, whilst we have seen the mismatched partner genre on numerous occasions, with Tango and Cash, 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, this one adds a twist in the narrative, Tea Leoni who plays Julie Mont witnesses a murder of Mike Lowrey’s friend and overhears the thieves plans for the heroin and will only agree to speak to Mike Lowrey but when he is not around Marcus burnet impersonates him and we get a hilarious role reversal added to the narrative.

This film works thanks to some great set pieces, some funny dialogue and two brilliant performances from it’s leads that make bad boys such an enjoyable watch, Will Smith demonstrated his leading man action star status and has gone on to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

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Powerhouse production duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer who were responsible for box office hits like, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Days of Thunder and Crimson Tide have put their trademark on this film, which is a lavish production design, soundtrack driven compositions and fast editing.

This is Michael Bay’s first directorial debut and it is very impressive and he would follow up with another brilliant blockbuster the rock released in 1996 and these two films are his most acclaimed films to date. Michael Bay started his career in music videos and delivers a slick, good-looking film, colorful and filled with adrenaline pumping action sequences, including a foot chase through Miami and the finale shootout in an air hanger and adrenaline rush packed car chase across an airport strip.

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Out of the three Bad Boys films I would say that this one is the strongest thanks to a cohesive plot, great runtime, great script and great performances and some funny moments including the scene where Marcus thinks Mike is having an affair with his wife.

The sequel released in 2003 whilst certainly bigger in terms of set pieces and action it was nowhere near as good as the first film, the plot was incoherent and the chemistry between the two leads was not as sharp as the first film, but the producers took all that on board and brought the franchise back with a bang with Bad Boys for Life which was a return to form and to date is the highest grossing installment in the franchise.

Bad Boys is still an entertaining watch 25 years, and coupled with a brilliant soundtrack, makes it an excellent 90s action film.

Dead Heat: The Ultimate Halloween Action Movie!

Looking back at the horror/action lost classic starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo.

Well it’s that time of year again that I start digging deep into my collection to find a movie that gets me into the Halloween spirit. Boy did I find a gem of a classic that I had sadly forgotten about…Dead Heat… and I wasn’t disappointed (more so that I had gone 20+ years not watching this).

Dead Heat gave me everything I wanted in a Halloween movie, undead zombies, malevolent forces at work, and gore/sfx. It also gave me everything I love about an 80s action movie, buddy cop partners, gunplay, one-liners, kickass car, and fair amount of comedy. Let me take a moment and give those who may not be familiar a quick rundown of Dead Heat

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Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo

Dead Heat stars a fantastic and unlikely team up of actors Treat Williams (Everwood) as Det. Rodger Mortis the clean-cut strait-laced cop and Joe Piscopo (Saturday Night Live) as Det. Doug Bigelow the buff comedic relief in a supernatural buddy cop action movie. It even offers an unexpected role by one of the legendary masters of horror Vincent Price as Arthur Lowdermilk and a welcomed appearance from one of my favorite movie henchmen Professor Toru Tanaka (Odd Job) as The Butcher. Directed by Mark Goldblatt (Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren) and written by Shane Black’s (Lethal Weapon/Predator) younger brother Terry Black (Tales from the Crypt).

The movie starts just like any other action movie does with the duo driving a bright red 1960 convertible Impala being called to a robbery in progress at a jewelry store, but takes a fairly quick turn from the norm during the shootout as the police riddle the bad guys with bullets yet they refuse to die or even fall down.

The only things that actually stop the thieves is one inadvertently blows himself up with a grenade and the other is pretty much cut in half when Mortis rams him with a car. Afterwards Det. Mortis (Treat Williams) and Det. Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) meet with the coroner examining the corpses of the robbers only to recognize the thieves because she had performed the autopsy on them both prior to that day’s events.

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Horror and Action Combine!

Fast-forward thru some generic 80s detective work where a drug was found in the bodies that linked them Dante Pharmaceuticals and they find themselves at ground zero for the creation of zombies by the Resurrection Machine (god I love the 80s). While snooping around they awaken a rather large grotesque biker laying on the machine and during the fight Det. Mortis (Treat Williams) finds himself trapped in a large vacuum chamber room that gets activated during the scuffle where he suffocates.

Afterwards the police arrive at the crime scene along with the coroner who with the help of Det. Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) place the body of his dead partner onto the Resurrection Machine and activate it apparently bringing him to life or he at least appears to be alive.

Now the real fun begins as we get to watch Det. Mortis (Treat Williams) slowly start to decompose throughout the movie with the help of special effects artist Steve Johnson which in my opinion continually get better and more gruesome at each passing scene in the movie. And brings us to one of the most hilarious and gory scenes in Dead Heat… the battle with The Butcher (Professor Toru Tanaka) and the resurrected carcasses of the animals in the Chinese restaurant that come to life with the help of a small version of the Resurrection Machine.

Seriously, they fight reanimated ducks, fish, and a bull…its gross, zany, and over the top with nonstop one-liners from both lead actors….and I loved every second of it. For a movie made in the late 80s (the movie released in 1988) I feel the effects in Dead Heat hold up well for stop motion and practical effects, I don’t always need modern CGI. Sometimes I like knowing the actors were actually covered in blood and had to respond to actual props not green screened stand-ins.

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I want to take a minute now to mention how underrated Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo are, while Treat Williams has led a long career in Broadway and cinema, I still find people who have never heard of him or always respond “oh yeah, that guy”. He plays the straight shooter role perfectly in my opinion (go watch Deep Rising) and he really fits the action roles well.

Now I’ve got a bone to pick with Hollywood concerning Joe Piscopo, while he garnered popularity in Saturday Night Live and a handful of roles afterward, this man deserved to be more mainstream than they allowed him to be. He was a hilarious comedian in the 80s and had the physique to be put in any number of action movies (go watch Sidekicks with Chuck Norris if you don’t believe me) the world missed out on Joe Piscopo. Okay…. back to the review, had to get that off my chest….

I’ll start by saying I’m not going to spoil this movie if you haven’t seen it yet as I want everyone to go watch this movie (its on Amazon Prime as of me writing this). The climactic conclusion of Dead Heat delivers in every way possible from gross-out gore to car crashes to machine gun shoot outs. All culminating in the evil plot reveal which always had to be spoken aloud in 80s action movies by the bad guys.

In all Dead Heat gave me everything I was looking for in an action/horror/comedy, is it the best ever….no, but we don’t watch these movies to see the next Oscar worthy performance. Give me a movie that provides an escape from the real-world chaos, puts a smile on my face, doesn’t take itself too seriously and allows me to enjoy something that in my opinion is missing in cinema today. Go take a chance and pop some popcorn, crack open your favorite beverage and watch Dead Heat.

Article by Charlie Chase – author bio: Growing up in rural Virginia most of my favorite memories are usually tied around action/sci-fi movies, and I’m now able to share those movies with my oldest. I have a passion for action movies especially, so much so I created a Facebook group called Give Me Back My Action Movies where we can discuss what made early action movies far superior to what Hollywood makes now. And because I crave talking about them so much, I decided to jump into writing about them and so far, I’m loving it so I hope I do it justice.

Everly: Salma Hayek’s Non-Stop Bloody Action Classic

It’s time to shine some light on Salma Hayek’s turn as a bad-ass action movie heroine in Everly (2014).

Salma Hayek is an accomplished actress, and had some ventures into the action movie genre with supporting roles in movies such as From Dusk Till Dawn and Desperado. In 2014, she gave her debut as lead actress in an action flick.

Hayek plays Everly, who has been forced to work as a prostitute for a Yakuza gang that operates in the US. One day, she gets the opportunity to take lethal revenge on some gang members. The sadistic Yakuza boss Taiko wants her dead for this, and sends his henchmen to attack the apartment where Everly is hiding with her daughter and mother.

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UAMC Reviews Everly

The premise of Everly sounds a bit grim, but its overall tone is leaning more towards black comedy than anything else. Director Joe Lynch lets the movie take place in a single studio apartment and the hallway in front of it. This is a good choice for budget reasons, but it also creates a proper siege scenario.

Every couple of minutes a new attack is launched on Everly, and as a result the movie is a non-stop showdown right from the beginning. The action is intense and ultra-violent with a lot creative killings and demolitions that progressively turn the apartment into a ruin.

The movie also features the classic move of throwing a hand grenade into an elevator filled with bad guys, which never gets old for me. To add some variety, Lynch not only unleashes the Yakuza, but also assassin prostitutes, corrupt cops, killer dogs, and samurai.

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Japanese Horror Meets Hyper-Action

There is one truly bizarre sequence when the Japanese mafia sends one of their elite interrogators to deal with Everly, and we are in for a weird and gross interlude.

It seems that director Lynch got a bit carried away there, and was very keen to include what looks like an homage to the movies of Japanese extreme cinema mastermind Takashi Miike. This is really the only moment that seems a bit out of place and interrupts the flow of an otherwise well-timed movie.

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Salma Hayek is a great actress, and despite all the crazy stuff that is going on, gives a fairly balanced performance without much overacting. What is different from her usual roles is of course that she does a lot of shooting and stabbing, and also is thrashed multiple times in return. There are some really intense moments where Everly literally goes berserk and turns the apartment into a slaughterhouse littered with blood and bodies.

Everly is a slightly odd, but highly energetic festival of non-stop bloody action, with a crisp direction and a great performance from Hayek. With this movie, Salma Hayek showed that she has what it takes to be a bad-ass action movie heroine.

The Top 10 Modern ‘Sword & Sandal’ Action Movies

Ranking the best of the “Sword & Sandal” sub-genre from 300 to Gladiator…

The ancient history and mythology of the countries near the Mediterranean Sea have been a treasure trove for generations of moviemakers. Sword & Sandal movies became popular with classics such as Ben Hur in the 1950s, and were further expanded with the cheap but not less entertaining Italian copycat movies that followed swiftly.

While the genre is the nemesis of every historian, it has a lot to offer for action movie fans with its epic battles and heroes vs. monster stories. The release of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator triggered a new wave of Sword & Sandal flicks, this time with upgraded special effects.

While these movies lacked the nostalgic charm of the originals, they were able recreate the ancient times in an even more epic way, and deliver plenty of kick-ass action. In this article, I’ll discuss the ten best modern entries to this awesome genre. So let’s get on our chariot, and buckle up!

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10) HERCULES (2014)

Hercules was Dwayne Johnson’s second foray into the genre after The Scorpion King, and the less successful one. He plays Hercules who has the reputation of a legendary hero, but has become a cynical mercenary. Hercules and his companions are hired by King Cotys to fight for him in what looks like an ordinary war, but things are not what they seem to be.

Hercules is Sword & Sandal 101 of sorts. The movie contains all the familiar genre tropes while bringing exactly zero novelty to the table. The dialogues are slightly awkward, and the plot is thinner than a sheet of papyrus. The action is senseless, but plentiful and competently filmed as Hercules and his companions are thrashing one horde of enemies after the other. I think you’ll only enjoy Hercules thoroughly if you’re a hardcore Dwayne Johnson fan. For everyone else, it should be a fairly average movie.

9) 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014)

King Leonidas of Sparta is dead, and only the army of Athens and their champion Themistokles can save Greece from Persian god-king Xerxes and his fierce Naval Commander Artemisia. 300: Rise of an Empire continues the story from its predecessor, and this time it’s up to the Athenians to stop Xerxes. The movie dials the action back just a little bit, and makes more room for politics and world-building, even though that part of the movie ends up being a fairly generic war drama.

The somewhat monotonous visuals of the austere mountains and shores from the first part are exchanged for more monumental settings. The epic naval battles are the centerpiece of the movie, and there’s a lot of awesome and of course ultraviolet fights. The main reason to watch the movie, though, is Eva Green. Her role as psychopathic and blood-thirsty commander of the Persian Navy is so bad-ass, that every other character in the movie is dwarfed by her performance. 300: Rise of An Empire lacks the raw intensity of the original, but still has enough slick-looking mayhem to offer to make it worth a watch.

8) TROY (2004)

I admit it may be difficult to justify mentioning a movie on this website starring Brad Pitt, but Troy is too good to ignore. And Brad Pitt gives a performance that at least gets him close to being a true action hero for once. Paris, the Prince of Troy, abducts Helene, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.

Menelaus’ brother King Agamemnon assembles a massive army, led by legendary warrior Achilles and lays siege to Troy to free Helena. Wolfgang Petersen took on the challenge to retell one of the most famous Greek epic tales, and with a whopping 200 Million USD budget created a movie that does justice to it. With a monumental run-time of more than three hours in the director’s cut, you will need some patience to sit through it, though. It’s a fairly sober movie, and would be a high-profile costume drama if it would not feature some of the most massive and epic battle scenes ever created for this genre.

Combat is brutal when swords, shields and spears clash in the thousands, and as prince Hector of Troy (played by Eric Bana) and Achilles (played by Pitt) are plowing through their enemies on opposing sides of the battle. If you’re a fan of Greek drama mixed with spectacular battles, Troy is your movie.

7) CENTURION (2010)

Centurion exchanges the usual sunny Mediterranean setting of the genre with the forests and mountains of Britain during Roman occupation. The Roman Ninth legion is sent to defeat the tribe of the Picts in Britain, who have been attacking Roman outposts. Things don’t go as planned, though, the legion gets ambushed, and the remaining survivors are on the run for their life. Centurion is a straightforward action-adventure that follows a group of soldiers on their dangerous journey through enemy territory.

The movie has a fairly grim tone that is supported by the scenery of the muddy and snowy British wilderness. There are no epic battles in the movie, but mostly small skirmishes as the Romans and Picts clash with each other numerous times in raw and brutal fights. The movie is another great entry from genre expert Neil Marshall, and a much better effort than the rather bland King Arthur that came out a couple of years earlier with a similar setting. Centurion tells a simple story, but stands out because of its bleak atmosphere and the intense fight scenes.

6) THE SCORPION KING (2002)

Dwayne Johnson’s career took off like a rocket after his breakthrough role in The Scorpion King. A prequel of sorts to The Mummy movies, it tells the story of mercenary Mathayus’ rise from assassin to king of prehistoric Egypt. The movie does not elaborate on how he became the monster in the second oo movie, but rather deals with Mathayus’ effort to free Egypt from the grip of the evil warlord Memnon.

With a body hardened from his wrestling career and great natural charisma, Johnson owns the movie right from the start, and even his acting was already not too bad in his first lead role. Of course we want to see him beat up everyone who gets in his way, and he gets plenty of opportunity to do so. The Scorpion King is a colorful action-adventure, a fun romp through the desert with plenty of humor, and creative and funny action scenes.

5) IMMORTALS (2011)

Immortals is a visual extravaganza from director Tarsem Singh that presents it’s action-packed story in surreal, dreamy pictures. On top of that we get to see Mickey Rourke in one of his best roles in recent years, as relentless and sadistic King Hyperion who seeks to kill the Greek Gods.

To do this, he needs to get his hands on the legendary Bow of Epirus. The soldier Theseus is chosen by Zeus to stop him, and the young hero must not only face Hyperion’s army, but also the legendary Minotaur and the Titans themselves. The plot of the movie is not particularly complicated, but it takes a couple of interesting turns. Its edgy style makes Immortals occasionally look like an arthouse flick, but it never gets out of hand, and the movie fully delivers on the action front.

The choreography of the fights is perfect. Singh combines excellent camerawork with an overabundance of CGI blood and gore, as Perseus goes against the seemingly inhuman forces of Hyperion’s army. Mark Cavill makes for a great hero, but Mickey Rourke steals the show from him, with a bonkers costume and cruelty that knows no boundaries.

4) GODS OF EGYPT (2016)

I can imagine that Gods of Egypt will fall into one of two categories for many viewers: a soulless CGI turkey, or a gleefully demented rollercoaster ride. My vote goes for the latter. Many years after creating the dark and brooding genre masterpiece The Crow, director Alex Proyas decided it was time to go into the opposite direction.

The god Horus is destined to become king of Egypt, but is betrayed by his brother Set before his coronation and robbed of his godly powers. It is up to the human thief Bek to help Horus restore his might and defeat Set. Gods of Egypt warps ancient Egyptian mythology and its characters into a superhero/monster flick hybrid. Don’t bother with the plot, this movie just throws one action-packed set piece after another at the audience.

Among its many attractions are cyborg-like gods, spaceships, fire-breathing giant snakes and a world-swallowing worm demon. Fortunately the movie never takes itself seriously, and there’s plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Even Gerard Butler as the master villain is relaxed and jovial most of the time as he conquers and destroys the world. Gods of Egypt is a cheerful acid trip, and spectacle cinema of the highest grade.

3) CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)

Clash Of The Titans is a remake of the 1981 movie with the same name. The new version tells a similar story, but replaces the charming stop-motion effects with state-of-the-art CGI. The Greek gods declare war on the humans that are losing faith in them, and only Zeus’ son Perseus can stop them.

On his quest he must traverse dangerous lands inhabited by monsters and even venture into the underworld. Clash of The Titans may strike the best balance between sticking to the roots of the Sword & Sandal genre, and giving it an update with present-day special effects to make the ancient world of myths and monsters come alive. It’s a fun and action-packed ride from beginning to the end, as Theseus and his companions fight their way past harpies, giant scorpions, the Medusa, and of course the Kraken!

Sam Worthington gives a likable performance as Theseus and is joined by a great cast of famous actors, among them Liam Neeson in a ridiculously shiny costume as Zeus. Clash of the Titans was followed by the decent, but less exciting sequel Wrath of the Titans that I can only recommend if you want another 100 minutes of the same.

2) 300 (2006)

300 is a movie that deservedly is often mentioned along with Gladiator as one of the best modern takes on the Sword & Sandal genre. It’s based on the comic book from Frank Miller, that in turn was very loosely based on the battle at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae. The pass was defended by a squad of Spartan warriors led by King Leonidas against the giant army of Persian King Xerxes during his conquest of Greece.

300 for the most part is a fantasy story with little historical accuracy, and focuses instead on ultra-violent action scenes. Zack Snyder created striking visuals by manipulating and every single image of the movie to the extreme with digital effects. The movie features one battle after another, and it never gets boring to see the masterfully staged fights, with fountains of blood and bodies piling up at an incredible rate.

300 has a pathos that would border on the ridiculous if it was not so intense and atmospheric that one cannot help but be drawn in. The movie was a breakthrough role for Gerard Butler, who would regularly return to the action genre, and also put Zack Snyder on the agenda as specialist for CGI-laden comic book adaptations.

1) GLADIATOR (2000)

Gladiator is not only the best modern Sword & Sandal movie, but also an action movie classic by now. It tells the epic story of Roman general Maximus who is wrongfully accused of murdering emperor Marcus Aurelius. Maximus is enslaved, and forced to join a group of gladiators. He becomes a famous fighter, and prepares to take his revenge on the treacherous new emperor Commodus. Gladiator was yet another stroke of genius from director Ridley Scott. It’s a historical drama, adventure and action movie in one epic package.

The movie is a stellar production with monumental sets and battle scenes that even today do not fail to impress. Almost every single one of the combat sequences has become famous, from the battle between the Romans and Germanic tribes to the many gladiator fights. Russell Crowe gives the performance of his life, and a young Joaquin Phoenix impresses as his cunning and hideous antagonist. Gladiator is the uncontested masterpiece among the modern takes on the Sword & Sandal genre, and takes the first place in our ranking.

Seized: Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine Are Back On It

Another great addition to a budding action director / star combo with Adkins & Florentine teaming up once again for Seized (2020).

When word got out that the Scorsese/De Niro of Action Cinema, Scott Adkins & Isaac Florentine, were teaming backup for a new film, action fans around the world rejoiced. The premier duo of action are back! So, as you might already know, me being the big Adkins fan I am (but not as big as my buddy Michael Scott, who started a podcast all about Adkins. Listen to all the awesomeness here!), I could barely contain my excitement at the news. I practically did an Adkins backflip myself!

Now, the moment is upon us: the release of their latest endeavor, Seized. So, does this one hold up to their past works? Let’s find out!

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A former special forces agent’s son is kidnapped and must now wipe out three dangerous crime syndicates, if he wants to see his son alive again.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! This is definitely another extremely awesome entry in the Adkins/Florentine line up. Scott & Isaac give us a fast paced, all out, balls to the wall action flick like only they can. 

Let’s get into the story first. Honestly, it’s really nothing to write home about. It is basically the same plot as his last movie Legacy of Lies, just with minor differences. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, especially for a movie like this, where the action is the point. We get 15 mins of setup, and the rest is Scott shooting and kicking people. That’s what I really wanted, and that’s exactly what I got. NEXT!

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Great Action Actors All Around

The acting is a major plus here. Scott is a damn fine leading man, and he proves it once again with a solid performance. He’s just a guy who wants to raise his son Taylor in peace after the death of his wife, so when this dangerous cartel kidnaps Taylor in order to force him to execute a series of brutal assassinations, he’ll do what he has to do in order to get him back. And Scott conveys that perfectly. You’re still the best action star in the game, Mr. Adkins!

But the MVP in the acting department must go to Mario Van Peebles as Mzamo, the head of the Mexican Cartel that took Taylor. Peebles is nothing short of amazing as he chews the scenery left and right. He is obviously having a blast in the role, and I had a blast watching him. Kudos, Mr. Peebles!

And now, onto the juiciest bit of all: the action. See, Scott is a physical freak of nature, and such a phenomenal action performer that he can look great under even the most banal filmmaker’s direction. Fortunately, he’s directed by Florentine, who is the best at making Scott look his best. And Scott looks his absolute best in this. But it’s not just fighting. Oh no. Scott and Isaac get heavy with the gunplay in this one as well, and give us some badass shootouts as well as the usual expert level fights. John Wick, eat your heart out!

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Were there any gripes? Just two. First, the first 15 minutes go by quickly, but are still frustrating because the character of Taylor, played by Matthew Garbacz, is thoroughly annoying. He’s one of those “I hate you, Dad” kind of kids, and kids like that suck in these movies. Garbacz’s performance is good, I’ll give him that, but I wanted Scott to do a Guyver kick on the little brat after 5 mines. He stops being annoying after he’s kidnapped though, so it doesn’t last long.

But the biggest gripe is in the ending. Scott has to infiltrate the compound where Taylor is being held, and he gets into a scuffle with one of the bad guys, played by UFC fighter Uriah Hall. Now, this has all the makings of a classic throwdown. Adkins, the reigning champ of action vs. Hall, a very talented martial artist and fighter. But… for some reason… Isaac decided to intercut the fight with two other fights going on at the same time.

Let me tell you guys something about myself: I. Haaaaatttteee. Intercutting between fights. When a fight is happening on screen, I want to see the full thing. Crystal clear, and unmolested. Intercutting between fight scenes annoys me to no end, and it does so here as well. I love you, Isaac. I really do. I believe you truly are the best action director working today. Nobody is better at this than you. But that… That hurt me. It really did.

But, other than that, I thought this was a highly entertaining action flick. Does it reach the greatness of Ninja 2 or Undisputed 3?? No, but it does sit next to top notch stuff from them like Close Range and the first Ninja. But that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that the boys are back together, and as a certified Action Drunkie, that’s all I need.

Michael Jai White Goes Van Damme in ‘Welcome to Sudden Death’

Remakes of the ultimate classics are always tricky, but MJW does his best despite some issues!

Michael Jai White is a good actor and a great martial artist, and often was able to combine both of these talents in his movies. In the last years, he had supporting roles in a couple of high-profile genre productions such as Triple Threat, Dragged Across Concrete and Accident Man. He returns as a lead actor in a remake of the Jean-Claude Van Damme classic Sudden Death – with the aptly named Welcome to Sudden Death.

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Michael Jai White Channels Van Damme

The plot of Welcome To Sudden Death replicates that of the first movie. White stars as security guard of a basketball stadium that is infiltrated by a gang of criminals. They threaten to blow it up unless getting paid a lot of money. The movie visibly is a low-budget affair, but alas not in a charming way.

The sets are very basic, the acting is stiff, the dialogues are rather dull, and there’s never any buildup of tension. None of that would be a problem if the action scenes would kick some ass, but unfortunately they don’t.

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Lots of Violence, but a bit Staged

There’s a good deal of fights and other sorts of violence, but it is all staged fairly lackluster. Every set is left completely undamaged when an action sequence is concluded, you will not see a single scratch in the wall or a stain of blood on the carpet.

This may be a concession that had to be made for budget reasons, but results in the whole movie looking as sterile and artificial as a TV soap opera. Even Michael Eklund, who usually nails it as the bad guy, cannot escape the sluggishness of this production, and gives a rather disappointing performance.

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So, How Ultimate is it?

White does not get much opportunity to shine as the action is fairly unspectacular, and consists mostly of generic hand-to-hand combat. The quality of the fights is also not of the highest level, they’re filmed fairly choppy and don’t feature any memorable moments. One positive thing I can say is that White gives a decent performance considering the material he had to work with, and thanks to his charisma saves the movie from being a complete disaster. Thankfully it is also rather brief with 80 minutes run-time.

Welcome To Sudden Death is an unexciting and tedious action-thriller. Let’s hope White gets a better opportunity to showcase his talent in future projects.

Why ‘Tango and Cash’ is the Penultimate Film of 80s Action

A look back at Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell’s classic 80s actioner Tango & Cash (1989).

This cult classic from the 80’s stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as rival cops Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash the two top cops in Los Angeles who are set up and sent to prison for a murder they did not commit by Crime Lord Yves Beret played by Jack Palance.

This is one of my favourite action movies from the 80’s and is an enjoyable action romp thanks to the chemistry between Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone, some cracking set pieces and a brilliant score from Harold Faltermeyer who scored Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop.

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Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash

From the opening scene we see a different style of Stallone – calm, rational and dressed to the nines in Giorgio Armani. Even though in real life in the 80’s Stallone was an impeccable dresser we never him like this on screen with some of his other on screen characters.

He even sends up one of his own characters, when he is described as Rambo, Ray Tango refers to Rambo as a pussy, classic 80’s lines and nods. We then see Gabriel Cash, the total opposite of Ray, who is the total opposite of Tango and there is a brilliant shootout/car chase in an underground car park.

But the films magic really works when we see these two meet up after getting the same information regarding a drug bust in a warehouse. The two have different acting styles but their charm works well on screen and makes for some great scenes, including being put in prison facing and fighting some of the criminals they put away, another brilliant scene is the two escaping from prison.

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Classic 80s Action Throughout

This film is classic 80’s action, with brilliant hand to hand combat, car chases, brilliant shootouts, a good 80’s soundtrack, great sly one liners and awesome synth music.

We even see an appearance by a young Terri Hatcher before she would go on to star in the new adventures of superman and desperate housewives. She was ok for the role she was given, we have a scene stealing turn from Jack Palance as Yves Beret and the late Brion James given a dire cockney accent which is up there with Dick Van Dyke and Don Cheadle as the worst English accent ever put to screen.

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There are some plot holes in the film as Tango & Cash was a troubled production and the theatrical trailers used footage that never made it to the final cut of the film.

But this is mindless 80’s action that works a treat and at 31years old is a bonafide classic that will keep you entertained from start to finish, this was one of the last films to be released in cinemas in the 80’s and what a way to close off that decade.

 There has been talk of a sequel, but I hope they rubbish that idea.

Beckman: Portraying Ultimate Action in a Faith Based Genre

A look into the Christian-action sub-genre with David A.R. White’s ‘Beckman‘ (2020).

When looking at the small sub-genre of Christian action movies, the question came up for me if it’s really possible to combine a sincerely Christian message with a violent actioner, and I still don’t think I have a good answer to this. And while there is of course nothing wrong with movies that deal with faith, they often tend to be literally preachy, which can interrupt the flow of the movie significantly.

An example for this is Kevin Sorbo’s The Reliant from 2019, that could have been alright if it was not overloaded with evangelisms that really sidetracked and diluted things in the action department. Other movies like The Boondock Saints used the display of faith more as a gimmick rather than a serious topic, so admittedly it may not be easy to find the right balance here.

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UAMC Review of ‘Beckman’

Enter David A.R. White who made a name for himself in the Christian movie scene, and who is not a total stranger to the action genre either. His Revelation Road series had some good set pieces, but their mass appeal was rather limited, I would argue. In his newest movie Beckman, faith is still an important aspect, but it’s included in a more subtle way than in his previous works.

White plays Aaron Beckman, a contract killer who renounces his profession, and becomes a reverend. One day, a girl from his congregation gets abducted by a cult leader from whom she escaped in the first place. To free her from her captor, he has to go back to his old ways.

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David A.R. White as Aaron Beckman

This is the setup, and I think it’s fair to say that Beckman is quite at odds with the core Christian message of peace and forgiveness. Depending on your point of view, this could be a weak point or an interesting dilemma presented by the movie.

Beckman is fairly straightforward with a run-off-the-mill plot. There are no large set pieces, and the action is limited to shootouts and brawls. So Beckman scores as low on originality as it can get for an action movie. Jeff Fahey and William Baldwin make some brief appearances, but give slightly sluggish performances.

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Despite all this, the movie is reasonably entertaining, if you don’t mind low-budget action. It’s competently filmed, the action scenes are staged professionally and do get fairly violent, as Beckman rarely shows mercy to his opponents. White presents himself as a veritable action movie actor with a good physical presence. I hope he gets another opportunity to showcase his skills, and then hopefully with a better budget and more exciting script.

Beckman is overall a decent affair. It is somewhat unique as it is the first movie I’ve come across that sincerely includes faith-based topics in the plot without being preachy, while also not disappointing on the actions and thrills front.

Field Stripping the ‘Sniper’ Franchise Movies (1993 – 2020)

Rating and ranking all the Sniper Franchise Movies based on their Ultimate-ness!

Great work by the author of this piece Mike Culton for creating this badass cover image featuring The Ultimate Sniper Collection!

Over the past 27 years they never stopped making Sniper movies. It may be hard to believe but so far, eight have been produced and released somewhere, either on cable or straight to DVD. I found the most recent one, Sniper: Assassin’s End, at my local Redbox and later discovered a complete set of them at Walmart (where all great movies eventually end up). Shockingly, it had yet to be completely buried in a $5 bin, so I bit the bullet and binged them all in a week.

I discovered a mostly unseen legacy of action and international intrigue that always involves a rival sniper and a convoluted government conspiracy. From Tom Berenger and Billy Zane to Chad Michael Collins and interchangeable female sidekick, the Sniper franchise has been trotting the globe and racking up quite a body count for nearly three decades. Strap on your ghillie suit and spot me as I go deep into the dark B-movie jungle to pick these sequels off one-by-one.

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Sniper (1993)

Down and Dirty: The first and the best installment has withstood the test of time with its battlefield melodrama, multiple games of cat-and-mouse, and unique bullet-POV action sequences. It hits the mark in terms of capturing the hunting aspect of sniper warfare along with the sound design that lets you hear and feel every expended round. Berenger’s Beckett is burned out from the get-go and harbors some obvious trust issues with his partner Miller (Billy Zane) and the mission in general. After this exhausting Charlie-Foxtrot in the jungle, how much more jaded and cynical can Beckett get?

Ultimate Action Greatness: Beckett uses a snoozy Miller as bait to out the rival sniper and delivers the coup-de-gras right through his enemy’s scope. Is it any wonder that Miller further developed his own trust issues after that episode? It demonstrates how tension-filled, character-driven, and action-packed a scene can get while only firing a single shot. There are other entertainingly worthwhile action sequences but this more minimalist action feels more intense.

Ranking: 5/5 M40A1’s

Sniper 2 (2002)

Down and Dirty: Nine years later and Beckett hasn’t softened his outlook on life one bit. He’s brought back in to eliminate a problematic terrorist in the former Yugoslavia, or so he thinks. Federal inmate and occasional marksman Cole (played sufficiently by Bokeem Woodbine) is his new partner and presents another reason not to trust anybody. There’s so much double-crossing, it’s hard to sort through what’s what and who’s who but hey, the filmmakers could afford a tank and some decent action sequences with production value despite its estimated $5 million budget (it was filmed in Eastern Europe, so it makes sense).

Ultimate Action Greatness: Although there are plenty of explosions and shockingly bloodless gunfights to keep you interested, the convoy jailbreak scene is well executed and delivers a competent mix of traditional action and sniper goodness that make it seem too good for a straight-to-video title. No bullet cam in this one though! Disappointing but the rest of action sequences more than make up for it.

Ranking: 4/5 Remington PSS’s

Sniper 3 (2004)

Down and Dirty: Beckett is called into action yet again even though he now has the early stages of the palsy in addition to lacking a complete trigger finger. This time he’s headed back to ‘Nam to hunt down a former brother-in-arms who’s gone rogue. The Apocalypse Now homages are plentiful in this lackluster thriller/spy adventure that’s a bit light on action. Beckett gets a lady friend, which as we all know, only serves to further develop his character and backstory. He’s still a cynical old bastard but we see a more caring, fatherly side to the Gunny who is way past his retirement date at this point.

Ultimate Action Greatness: While he and his local cop partner are monitoring some baddies at a hot Vietnamese night club, Beckett and co. are ambushed as a highly adequate firefight breaks out on the Saigon—sorry, Ho Chi Minh City—skyline. There’s a decent mix of gun-fu and sniping, as well as some counter-sniping for good measure. Beckett delivers another through-the-scope kill shot but with a handgun this time?! It’s still cool but it just doesn’t seem right at all.

Ranking: 2/5 Remington AICS’s

Sniper: Reloaded (2011)

Down and Dirty: Sgt. Beckett gets some well-earned leave in this soft reboot of the Sniper franchise. We learn that Beckett has a son named Brandon (Chad Michael Collins), who also enlisted in the marines but as a grunt. He has some issues with his Dad and he thinks being a Sniper is a chicken shit way to fight. Perhaps a returning, and sorely missed, Billy Zane can convince him to learn to love the scope. This time, the action is in the Congo and baby Beckett’s unit is on a UN mission to protect white farmers from militant rebels, or something. We actually get blood and a fair amount of firefights in this more stylized and faster-paced installment. The standard issue rival sniper and back-stabbing conspiracy tropes continue the Sniper tradition in this serviceable direct-to-video war/action sequel-boot (or is it reboo-quel?).

Ultimate Action Greatness:  Some particularly ruthless rebels are about to practice their machete skills on some poor war orphans when Brandon introduces them to his latent sniper talents. He starts dropping thugs one-by-one and empties about six rounds into one super-charged goon that just won’t take the hint. A ghillie-suited Billy Zane provides some additional cover from the brush as they start freeing child slaves a la Temple of Doom. Collins strongly resembles Berenger in this scene as he calmly destroys a small battalion with an old school Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle.

Ranking: 3/5 .303 Lee-Enfields

Sniper: Legacy (2014)

Down and Dirty: The sequel to the soft sequel-boot delivers the anticipated Beckett reunion with a war-torn Syrian backdrop. This mission is more focused on smoking out the bad sniper. He has been picking off members of his former unit, including Thomas Beckett, which was deployed to Afghanistan and seriously FUBAR’d an op in 2004. Chad Michael Collins returns as Baby Beckett and teams up with his formerly MIA father to deliver sniper justice and wade through another supposed and convoluted government conspiracy. Papering over any emotional father-son issues, Collins delivers a mostly adequate lead performance as Berenger becomes a tired-looking and rusty supporting player. It’s a relatively straight-forward, no-frills follow-up. If nothing else, it features a Major League reunion with Pedro Cerrano (aka Dennis Haysbert).

Ultimate Action Greatness: Echoing the bad sniper’s deadly impetus for revenge, the good Snipers and the coalition fire team foul up their own mission to take out a terrorist target. Luckily for us, it results in a sprawling urban gun battle with machine guns blazing, snipers’ brass hitting the deck, and RPGs exploding rubble into additional bits of rubble. This sequence holds up as an impressive action set piece given the scope of the production.   

Ranking: 3/5 Remotely Operated .50 Steyr HS’s

Sniper: Ghost Shooter (2016)

Down and Dirty: Berenger takes a nap while Zane pinch hits as one of several father figures for Collins in a mission involving a pipeline in Central Asia and a few sniper teams full of fail. The trans-Georgian pipeline and its CEO must be protected at all costs while an ISIS tactical team of terrorists try to disrupt regional energy stability. It’s an OK plot but it’s set against a snowy mountain backdrop, so that’s kind of visually interesting. Pedro Cerrano returns as the Colonel who operates predator drones that provide over-watch but the terrorists find a way to exploit the technical advantage. Baby Beckett can’t quite seem to step out of Papa’s shadow in a mostly disposable entry into this rebooted franchise.

Ultimate Action Greatness: Sgt. Beckett and his rag-tag group of Georgian snipers are attacked in their mountain hideout with explosive and titillating consequences. Waves of winter-ready insurgents descend on a cabin only to be met with volleys of sniper rounds and mentor-saving head-shots. Again, it’s a competently filmed action sequence filmed in an otherwise forgettable direct-to-DVD release.

Ranking: 2/5 .338 Lapua Magnum AX338’s

Sniper: Ultimate Kill (2017)

Down and Dirty: This is an unexpected breath of fresh air that reinvigorates a flailing 2010’s DTV franchise. They even brought back the bullet point-of-view shots from the original film. From the ultimate opening sequence involving opera, full frontal nudity, and an exploding head-shot to Berenger actually trying to deliver an admirable performance as an operations commander, this sequel really hits the mark. Berenger and Zane finally reunite to support Collins who’s on a mission to take out El Diablo, the mercenary sniper employed by the most Irish-looking Colombian crime boss of all time. Zane shines as a flippant field commander as Collins takes out the drug-smuggling trash.

Ultimate Action Greatness: This movie tries to reintroduce sniper battlefield ethics in a scene involving an allied priest turned informant who hangs from a tree in front of his church. The ethical dilemma is palpable: shoot the rope and reveal your position or let him choke while you desperately search for the counter-sniper. This type of choice never ends well but this scene reminds the audience of the stakes involved while getting us to actually care about the characters a bit more.

Ranking: 4/5 Cheytac M-200s

Sniper: Assassin’s End (2020)

Down and Dirty: The filmmakers seemingly forgot about the last movie and went back a few installments to cast Master Gunnery Sgt. Beckett as a woodland recluse who’s hung up his rifle. Baby Beckett is framed for murder as father and son reunite once again to come to terms with their fractured relationship, escape the law, and foil a murderous enemy plot. The rival sniper is a Yakuza-trained badass with a past who goes by “Lady Death.” The Becketts do their best to fight against international conspiracies and domestic intelligence investigations in a more grounded narrative that doesn’t throttle the high-octane action.

Ultimate Action Greatness: A triple sniper showdown commences when the bad lady Sniper encounters the Becketts in the woods. Basically, it’s Mortal Kombat meets Metal Gear Solid as a sniper standoff turns into hand-to-hand combat. Eventually, the Becketts come out on top but for how long?

Ranking: 3/5 Unknown Scoped Remingtons

Where do they go from here? I’m sure there are a few more rounds in the magazine or at least one more in the chamber for 2023, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Sniper franchise. Although there have been some forgettable installments, the Sniper movies deliver consistent and competent action at a decent value.

Even if Berenger and Zane finally retire from the series, Chad Michael Collins has been adequately carrying on the mission for nearly 10 years. Future Sniper movies could use a shake-up though, maybe introduce some genre-crossing. The thriller vibes and gore effects in the later sequels would play well in a horror-action narrative. Whatever they come up with, I’ll be sure to scope it out at Redbox next to my grocery store.

In case you’re wondering, here is the best to worst ranking of the Sniper movies to date:

  • Sniper
  • Sniper 2
  • Sniper: Ultimate Kill
  • Sniper: Assassin’s End
  • Sniper: Reloaded
  • Sniper: Legacy
  • Sniper: Ghost Shooter
  • Sniper 3

And special shout-out to the Internet Movie Firearms Database for identifying the rifles used in each movie except for Assassin’s End (but I know they’ll get around to it eventually).

By Night’s End: A Slow Burn Thriller That Delivers

Suspense reigns supreme in this clever slow burn thriller that… still packs some punch!

Grief is strange. It’s invisible to the naked eye, but can be the most painful thing you ever experience in your entire life. Especially when it’s centered around the loss of a loved one, namely a child. Which is the worst kind of grief. The kind that feels like your life is over. That there’s no reason to go on. But it can also lead to a feeling of strength. Because when your back is against the wall, a feeling of nothing to live for can turn into having everything to fight for.

And that’s the scenario a grieving married couple finds themselves in this new suspense packed thriller from TriCoast Worldwide, By Night’s End.

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A grieving couple wake up in the night to a man searching for something in their home. After they are forced to kill him in self defense, they decide to take one hour before calling the police to search for what they hope is a hidden fortune. Unfortunately, he was not the only one who came searching, and now the couple find themselves in the fight of their lives…

This is an exceptionally well made production, just to start it off. It’s not everyday that you come across an independent feature of this type this well put together, but here we are. Everything about this film is terrific and thoroughly riveting. Now, allow me to break it down.

The acting is great all around. Michelle Rose and Kurt Yue are pitch perfect as Heather & Mark, the couple stuck in the middle of this terrifying predicament. Their chemistry is spot on and they convey all the emotions that come from a situation like this with absolute honesty. And Michael Aaron Milligan is incredibly effective as the main antagonist, Moody. 100% creep factor dialed up to 11.

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A Well Crafted Story Throughout

Now let’s get into the pure quality of the filmmaking. Director Walker Whited gets just the right amount of tension out of the scenario. You feel like anything can happen at any time, which leaves the characters, and us, on the edge the whole time. The cinematography is also a major plus. Director of Photography Philip Wages provides us with some absolutely fantastic camerawork. Absolutely beautiful stuff. 

Now, the story. The story is significantly captivating. Written by Whited and Sean McCane, the script provides us with such a believable reaction by ordinary people to a rather extraordinary event. You completely identify with these people and their decisions. Tell me I’m lying.

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And now, we get to the just of things: the action. Listen, this is not an action packed thrill ride. This is more of a dramatic, suspenseful, slow burn thriller, with all the action saved for the end. But the duration of the picture is so filled with trembling dread that when we do get to the set pieces in the last 20 minutes, it is downright nail biting. We get a couple of thorough fights and an inventively staged shootout. I know that may not sound like much, but it’s more than enough. Trust me.

And that’ll do it for my take on By Night’s End. A highly entertaining and authentic thriller. So if any of that sounds like your cup of tea, check it out. I definitely recommend it.