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Tag Archive: Bruce Lee


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

First of all it’s not really Bruce Lee.  The character’s name is John Lee, and he’s an agent after the same target but backed by a different government–the South Korean intelligence agency–and with different objectives than our title character, Mr. Bond.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 is smartly written by Greg Pak and drawn by Marc Laming, Stephen Mooney, and Eric Gapstur in a way that makes it easy for readers to imagine what could have been one great movie.  More as if Bruce Lee was portraying his Dragon than Kato, this Mr. Lee and Mr. Bond are well-matched adversaries.

Until they aren’t.

Taking some of the best bits from the spy trope, what will happen when MI6 teams up with South Korean spies against a common foe?  It’s Man from U.N.C.L.E meets Bond, as villains from MI6’s past start popping up, including Oddjob and Goldfinger.  A suitcase will explode if removed from, or taken too far away from, its handler.  One town of innocent people has already seen the potential of this new technology.

This series has everything.  Great tech gizmos, exotic women counter-spies, and locations across the globe.  Mooney’s artwork is fantastic, reminiscent of Mike Grell and Rick Hoberg’s pencil work during the spy years of the DC Comics Green Arrow comic book series (including a great new character similar to their Shado).  And Bond’s dialogue reveals Pak knows the character well.

 

Take a look at this preview, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Quentin Tarentino‘s next film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has so many reasons to give it your attention, where do we begin?  As heavily advertised, the “retired director” is back as writer and director on his ninth film, and every one of his films gains critical and popular acclaim–from Reservoir Dogs to The Hateful Eight, they’re all notable for Tarentino’s unique brash and violent style.  Emphasize that style element because he tends to hit the right mark when searching out throwback vibes for his fans, whether via Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in the 1970s in Jackie Brown or reaching back through time with 1950s nostalgia with John Travolta and Uma Thurman in a retro diner in Pulp Fiction.  So where will Tarentino turn for a film set in 1969?  Something violent in an era of unique style.  So the “Manson family” murders, of course.

The biggest risk for Tarentino (beyond being seen as exploiting a murder still in the national consciousness 50 years later) is casting some major actors, and some not-so-major actors, as actors from the past.  The easier question to answer may be “Who isn’t in this movie?”  In the leading role is Leonardo DiCaprio as a fictional character based on Burt Reynolds.  Brad Pitt co-stars as a character based on Reynolds’ long-time stuntman, Hal Needham.  Margot Robbie plays actress and Manson family victim Sharon Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski and pregnant at the time of her murder.  Dakota Fanning plays Squeaky Fromme, Bruce Dern plays the rancher that allowed the Mansons to reside on his land where they are believed to have planned the murders, and Lena Dunham plays another Manson family member.  Al Pacino plays a Hollywood agent, and from the Tarentino acting troupe, look for bit appearances by regulars Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen.  As a sad footnote, this will be the last film appearance of Luke Perry, who portrays real-life TV Western star Wayne Maunder, who died just this past November.

But the real challenge is casting Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, Connie Stevens, and Mama Cass Elliot in the film–highly-recognizable icons.  Those roles go to Homeland and Life’s Damian Lewis as McQueen, Empire and Inhumans’ Mike Moh as Lee, Dreama Walker (Gran Torino) as Stevens, and Rachel Redleaf as Cass.  We only get a brief look at Redleaf and longer view of Moh as Lee (with a decent vocal impersonation) in the first trailer for the film–Lee had been working on a film with Sharon Tate.  Tarentino also invited in a league of children of well-known actors for his film, like Andie MacDowell’s daughter Margaret Qualley (IO), Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis (Hawaii Five-O), Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter Maya Hawke (Stranger Things), Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith (Supergirl), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Star Trek 2009) grandson of Western actor Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, and one more relative, Tarentino’s wife, Daniella Pick (Pick Up, Exit).  

Along with real-world characters, Tarentino pulled in some familiar actors from the late 1960s and 1970s, including Nicholas Hammond, known for role as Peter Parker in TV’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a regular face from the 1970s and 1980s: Martin Kove (The Karate Kid), and Brenda Vaccaro (Airport ’77, Capricorn One).  And even frequent TV guest star Spencer Garrett is a ringer for any number of Disney film stars from the 1960s (and he’s the son of actress Kathleen Nolan (Magnum, p.i., The Incredible Hulk)).  There are many more familiar actors in this one, including James Marsden (X-Men), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Lorenza Izzo (The House With a Clock in Its Walls), Sydney Sweeney (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer favorite Danny Strong.  (With so many extras listed as Playboy Bunnies, it’s probably fair to expect a cameo from someone playing Hugh Hefner, too).

In case you missed it, here is the first trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:

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T-1000 A

Enterbay, the Hong Kong-based toy company known for creating photo-real action figure likenesses of Bruce Lee and Al Pacino’s Scarface, has released photos of its next high-end articulated figure in its HD Masterpiece line. Fans of the Terminator franchise will be happy with the release of the best likeness to date of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 from Terminator 2. Of course, the craftsmanship comes at a price, since the figure will release at more than $400.

T-1000 B

Along with the great likeness of Robert Patrick, the next best feature is the box of accessories for posing the figure to match many of the T-1000’s key scenes if the film, including the creepy pointy metal finger and an alternate head with the liquid metal gunshot wound as delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in the psychiatric ward scene. The shirt is tailored with soft metallic nets inside for magnetic attachment of the liquefy damaged bullet holes. Very cool!

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Van Damme splits trucks

If you’re a fan of early Jean-Claude Van Damme action movies then you will love this new ad from Volvo Trucks.  It’s probably the best idea anyone has had to thrust back into the spotlight an actor/martial artist who once was on the heels of becoming the next Stallone or Schwarzenegger.  Expendables 2 wasn’t enough to do it, but showing off on TVs across America the physical skill and the result of a lifetime of martial arts prowess that Van Damme used in early work like Bloodsport could be enough to get him back into big movie roles.  Van Damme just needs to find his version of Mickey Rourke’s big comeback film The Wrestler.

If you haven’t watched Van Damme movies, you’re missing out.  First, add Bloodsport and Timecop into your Netflix queue.  Some may say it is blasphemous to compare Van Damme to Bruce Lee, but if you liked Enter the Dragon you will at a minimum appreciate Van Damme’s style, passion and effort in Bloodsport.  Like Schwarzenegger, Van Damme had the European immigrant with an accent action star shtick going for him.  He had proven fighting skill outside of movies, too.  And he had a real appeal–usually playing the underdog or defending the underdog, he usually had the good guy role in his best work.

Van Damme splits in Timecop

More splits. Could you save yourself if your kitchen floor was suddenly charged with electricity? Van Damme could, and did, in Timecop.

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Manborg banner

No matter what you study in college sometimes you can’t get work in the summer because no one wants to hire for jobs with decent pay on a temporary basis.  That’s how I ended up at Movies-to-Go, a pretty typical VHS chain rental store in the 1990s that went the way of the dodo bird when DVDs came along.  You learn a lot about people generally while working a video store, disturbing things like the fact that I Spit on Your Grave and Faces of Death outpaced new release sales time and time again.  At every store there were aisles of direct to video releases–some action, some sci-fi, some horror.  All of them had one thing in common–someone spent a lot of time creating covers that would get renters to actually rent the movie, despite the fact that most of these movies weren’t worth renting.  Some of these edge the others out, and as an employee I remember being able to rent free any film overnight that didn’t get checked out, which meant I learned to like a lot of films from John Carpenter, Jean Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee movies. 

Manborg Edmiston Art Poster

Some of these B-movies weren’t really good enough to be called B-movies, and were nothing but grindhouse pictures that would be shown at the then dwindling drive-in theater’s weekend third late show.  Others, like Denise Crosby’s Eliminators, Dolph Lundgren’s I Come in Peace, Guyver 2: Dark Hero, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff’s Starcrash, and Captain America (1990), prompted one ambitious young Canadian filmmaker named Steve Kostanski to spend three years in the 21st century creating one of these 1970s-1980s-type B-movies, with a name like a made-for TV Syfy Channel movie: Manborg.  The amazing thing is Manborg actually received acclaim as an official selection of not one but six international film festivals: Austin’s Fantastic Film Festival, Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, Sweden’s Lund Film Festival, Switzerland’s Neuchatel Film Festival, Toronto’s After Dark Film Festival and the London Sci-Fi Festival.  And Manborg is being released on DVD on April 30, 2013.

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