Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Movie Review: The Swordsman (1992)

The Swordsman
SC Entertainment International, Canada, 1992.


Cop Andrew Barrett (Lorenzo Lamas) has supernatural clairvoyance skills. During a drug raid Andrew gets painful visions about underground swordfights. Work partner Nick (Nicholas Pasco) considers that Andrew's seizures are a risk. Captain (Eugene Clark) sends Andrew to see a doctor (Michael Copeman) who looks like a relaxed guy waiting for a vacation. 
Lorenzo Lamas
Andrew Barrett
Michael Copeman
Relaxed Doc
Someone is murdering folks using swords. Robbers rob Alexander the Great's sword that was about to be delivered to archaelogist Julie (Claire Stansfield). As Julie was the only witness, Andrew is assigned to protect her. And so a romance develops. Julie believes that in his past life cop Andrew was Alexander the Great. 
Claire Stansfield
Julie
How you doing?
Andrew practises fencing and weird businessman Stratos (Michael Champion) invites him to his private fencing club. Coincidentally Stratos is Julie's patron so if you aren't already figuring out who stole the sword you are Chief Wiggum. Andrew infiltrates the fencing club and goes deep into the world of illegal duels. And so it is that Stratos is the reincarnation of Alexander's betrayer. The bearer of the sword is invincible so everybody wants the sword including henchman Jojo (Raoul Max Trujillo). Jojo and Andrew fight a match that begins well but is ultimately unsatisfying. Now if there had been a real fight between Jojo and Andrew it could have been cool. Now they missed the opportunity that was hinted with a big sign "epic duel here!" And so the story limps to the unsurprising finale.
Michael Champion
Stratos
Raoul Max Trujillo
Jojo
In theory it all sounds like "Highlander" wannabe that could be fun. Bad acting and pedestrian pace make this an disappointment for fans of sword-action. The sword fights are rare and quick, so nothing much to see here. From the story about modern day Greek warriors it would be expected some epicness but everything is toned down to trivial cop mystery. Michael Copeman's therapist-character brings some humour to the moody story. There is some unintentional silliness but from a "Highlander" clone you would expect even a little bit more of this:
Lorenzo happy
instead of this:
Lorenzo moody
And there isn't even Queen's music to cheer you up but cheap sounding synthesizer score.

Maybe it is Lorenzo's yet unfinished transition from the soap operas to action films that is making Andrew and Julie's romance soapy too. But even as a romantic thriller it isn't so great. Considering that Lorenzo spends a considerable amount of time without a shirt it is hard to see what the target audience was. Possibly the readers of Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels will get something out of this.

In the cover image Lorenzo Lamas is gripping his mighty sword.

Followed by sequel "Gladiator Cop."

Rating: Bad

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Claire Stansfield, Michael Champion, Nicholas Pasco, Raoul Max Trujillo, Eugene Clark, Michael Copeman, George Touliatos, Frank Crudele, Ian White, Scott Davis, Zack Kotlyar, Tamara Bernier, Viv Moore, Mourad Mardikian, Robert Seale, Sandy MacMaster, Simon Fon, Maurice Dean Wint, Walter Alza, Phil Morrison, Carlos Echevers, Jane Dingle, Laura Dickson, Colin Miller, Ken Quinn, Paul Przedlacki, Anthony Vargas
Director: Michael Kennedy 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Movie Review: Harvard Man a.k.a Harvard Story

Harvard Man  a.k.a Harvard Story
Bigel / Mailer Films, Kushner-Locke Company, Lions Gate Films, Worldwide Media, USA, 2001.


Harvard-student Alan Jensen (Adrian Grenier) is a rising basketball star and smart student although you wouldn't believe it from his actions. Girlfriend Cindy Bandolini's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) dad (Gianni Russo) is a mafia boss. Tornado destroys Alan's parents' home and causes economical distress so Alan has to find some money fast. 
Adrian Grenier
Alan Jensen
Joey Lauren Adams
Chesney Cort
Alan has also an affair with philosophy professor Chesney Cort (Joey Lauren Adams). As a hobby Alan tries to expand his consciousness with drugs (you can say goodbye to NBA career, bro). Chesney suggest that Alan should borrow money from Cindy. Andrew Bandolini is into sports betting so he'll give the money if Alan agrees to illegal match fixing. Cindy tries to take advantage of the scheme and bets $250000. So the stakes are high and hitmen will act if Alan goofs up.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gianni Russo
The Bandolinis
Ray Allen
Marcus
Before the crucial match Alan gets high (seriously what is the obsession of American's with weed? You are raising a nation of Cheech & Chongs). Harvard team loses the match as Alan agreed with Bandolinis. Player friend Marcus (NBA-star Ray Allen) doesn't take the loss lightly but their small quarrel does not really have consequences. Also kinky FBI-agents are investigating match fixing. So when going gets tough Alan gets a high dose of LSD. Chesney warns that he'll lose his mind, but does he listen, oh no. Even chemist Sandy (Chantal Cousineau) who made him the drugs warns about taking too much of it. And so he spends the rest of the story tripping, while others try to figure out how to clean up the mess. 
Chantal Cousineau
Sandy
Eric Stoltz as Teddy
 Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rebecca Gayheart
Cindy and Kelly negotiating
Frankly I got this movie because there was Sarah Michelle Gellar on the cover but I was surprised that there were also some other familiar faces in the cast: Eric Stoltz as Teddy the Bookie, Rebecca Gayheart as FBI agent Kelly and John Neville as Dr. Reese. Their presence does not help much though as nearly all the characters are unlikable. The story has the characteristics of university themed erotic crime thrillers of 1990s-early 2000s with poor man's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" thrown in the mix. This is the kind of film that makes one appreciate "Wild Things" and "Cruel Intentions." The story tries to be smarter than it is with classical music and philosophy. Jerky cinematography feels disorienting and camera rotates like mad. This one earns an artistic facepalm.
Rating: Bad

Starring: Adrian Grenier, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joey Lauren Adams, Eric Stoltz, Rebecca Gayheart, Gianni Russo, Ray Allen, Mike Vetere, Scottie, John Neville, Polly Shannon, Phillip Jarrett, Adam Bloch, Lauren Collis, Landy Cannon, Clé Bennett, Chantal Cousineau, Maria Ricossa, Booth Savage, Mung-Ling Tsui, Brendan Ryder, Kelly Ryder, Kristi Angus, Tara Samuel, Ayanna Sealey, Jamie Holmes, Al Franken, Thomasin Franken, Peter Mensah, Joe Pingue, J. Miles Dale, Nick Bacon, Kate Crowley,  Kimberly Pullis, Brian Schulz, Chris Wolfe, Lyssa J. Caster, Rick Ducommun, David Lauren, Nicholas Marino, Manajhjanihe Royalle, Michael Sercerchi, Emily Van Sonnenberg, Kasia Vassos
Director: James Toback

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Movie Review: Lego Scooby-Doo! Haunted Hollywood

Lego Scooby-Doo! Haunted Hollywood
Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. Animation, The Lego Group, USA, 2016. 
Lego Scooby-Doo! Haunted Hollywood


Scooby-Dooby Doo!

Talking dog Scooby-Doo and his friends solve the mystery of sea creature. Shaggy and Scooby decide that they will not agree being monster baits for the price of Scooby Snacks again. But they must still eat and so always hungry Shaggy and Scooby-Doo visit a hamburger bar. Winning the eating contest earns tickets to Hollywood tour for the whole gang.
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo
Daphne, Fred & Velma
Famous monster film producing Brickton Studios is on the rocks as no one likes horror movies anymore. People only watch sappy romantic comedies. When the horror star Boris Carnac, the Man of 999 Faces, died the studios couldn't produce another hit movie. Mr. Brickton is thinking about selling his studios to businessman Atticus Fink. Horror-fan & tour-guide Junior is currently the only employee of the studios.
Mr. Brickton
Junior
Headless Horseman is scaring the tourists. Late night horror show hostess Drella Diabolique (voiced by horror icon Elvira herself a.k.a Cassandra Peterson) suspects that Carnac's horror characters have become alive. As monsters drive the filming crew away, Fred decides to direct a movie starring Shaggy and Drella. Daphne yearns for Oscars and tries to learn how to be an actress too.
Drella Diabolique
Looking cool
Mummy needs a dentist
It feels that in Finland Scooby-Doo has never gained as much popularity as in USA, and of the Hanna-Barbera productions more popular characters in Finland have been Yogi-Bear and The Flintstones, perhaps Top-Cat too. Maybe the younger generations know Scooby and his friends better from direct to video movies (rather than from the original TV-series) that are also sometimes shown in TV. Still I remember reading some Scooby-Doo comics in 1980s (can't remember if it was Scooby's own comic book or a Hanna-Barbera- compilation album). Lego's version is is a solid episode of Scooby-Doo with Lego-humour but does not invent the wheel again so for fans of Scooby-Doo this is quite familiar stuff. What's nice is that it has light tribute to Boris Karloff and old horror movies in general. It also parodies the naming conventions of movie sequels.
Nephew ot the Headless Rider's Curse
I would watch this
That awkward moment when a zombie is haunting your airplane

Rating: Good

Voice actors: Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Kate Micucci, Dee Bradley Baker, JB Blanc, Christian Lanz, Scott Menville, Cassandra Peterson, James Arnold Taylor
Director: Rick Morales

As usual this Lego-movie has some nice extras.

Lego Scooby-Doo: Knight Time Terror
Warner Bros. Animation, The LEGO Group, USA, 2015.
Lego Scooby-Doo: Knight Time Terror
The Scooby-gang visits a castle that is rumoured to be haunted. There is a treasure hidden too. The haunting is a gimmick to attract tourists but there is also Cursed Armour of Black Knight that begins to haunt the treasure hunters. The Grimsley-siblings would like to find the treasure of their greatgreatgrandfather but the house is full of traps. Always hungry Scooby and Shaggy also lose their sandwiches to a meat-eating plant.
There goes my lunch

Voice actors: Grey DeLisle, Matthew Lillard, Kate Micucci, Phil Morris, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Sean Schemmel, Jason Spisak, Frank Welker
Director: Rick Morales

Also two vintage animations that inspired couple of characters of the main story are included.

Scooby-Doo! The Headless Horseman of Halloween (1976)
The headless horseman terrorizes a Halloween party. Scooby-Doo's cousin Scooby-Dum helps the detectives although he is not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Scooby-Dum

What's New Scooby-Doo? Fright House of a Lighthouse (2004)
Mystery Inc. visits a lighthouse where a treasure is hidden. Ghost of the evil lighthouse keeper keeps the tourists away. Another detective and underwear entrepreuner Verona Dempsey is already on the case which annoys Velma.
scooby-doo long johns
Now that was quite random
What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly

Comparing these two episodes from different eras shows that the basic idea of the show has remained the same. There is a mystery involving a ghost and a treasure, the ghost is always some villain with a mask and Scooby and Shaggy eat a lot of food. Overall the DVD is a nice package for Scooby-fans.

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