Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Highlander 3: The Sorcerer



HIGHLANDER 3: THE SORCERER (1994)

Directed by: Andrew Morahan
Screenplay: Paul Ohl
Starring: Christopher Lambert, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Kara Unger & Mako

The original Highlander is a stone cold classic. It still holds up over twenty years later and is an almost pitch perfect amalgamation of fantasy, 80s styling and break neck action. Buoyed by fine performances, crisp and creative direction from Russell Mulcahy, one awesome bad guy and an ending that pretty much wrapped everything up neatly it is, as said, a classic. But having gained cult status and made a ton of money an inevitable slew of mish-mash sequels and a long running TV show ensued. Highlander 3 is by no means as good as the original but it is actually one of the more enjoyable of the various sequels and spin-offs. Made as a sort of apology for the disaster that was Highlander 2 (which seemingly tried to destroy everything that was great about the original), Highlander 3 is certainly schlocky and not as stylish as Part 1 but is still a fun, action packed Highlander story.



Ignoring the events of Highlander 2 completely, Highlander 3 picks up some years after the events of Highlander. It seems Connor MacLeod (Lambert) wasn’t the last immortal after all and there are still a few roaming the earth looking to claim his head as the ultimate prize. Not least, the mad and bad Kane (Van Peebles) an all but carbon copy of the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) from the original. He wants MacLeod’s head while MacLeod just wants to be left alone to live with his son and romance pretty lady Alex (Kara Unger) who may just be the reincarnation of his long lost love (or somebody that looks a lot like her anyway). So after a nostalgic trip to Scotland, MacLeod, whether he wants to or not, must get back down to the head lopping business.

Van Peebles' over-the-top villain isn’t the only thing that is strikingly similar to the original as this instalment pretty much plays like a re-hash of the first film: right down to Kane driving a car crazily much like the Kurgan did. No doubt in an attempt to make up for Highlander 2, the filmmakers stuck so closely to the successful elements of the first film they ended up just making another version of it: only less good. Fair enough I suppose as it’s much better than Part 2 and the following sequels and a lot more fun that the TV series. Van Peebles, despite just playing the Kurgan.2, is also a blast (but, obviously, not as good as Clancy Brown) and while Lambert looks noticeably tired in this instalment (presumably getting a bit fed up with all the Highlander shenanigans) is still good as Macleod, playing him here as a more experienced and slightly bitter version of his character from the first film.



The action isn’t bad either, delivered regularly with a lot of bang for your buck. Mucho sword fighting and crazy pyrotechnics all delivered with Hollywood efficiency, as things well and truly blow up whenever an immortal loses his head. The final showdown between Lambert and Van Peebles is efficiently punchy and sword wielding and features a neat gag where Van Peebles gets his legs cut off which then have to come running back to him so he can rejoin himself and carry on fighting. Cool! The flick, much like the original, has a sense of humour about proceedings, though the tone and story does swerve here, there and everywhere.

Not great and will forever be overshadowed by the original, Highlander 3 is still enjoyable and passable entertainment that hits the action beats well and has just enough of what made the original great to make it a semi decent, if pointless, sequel.

Hawk The Slayer



HAWK THE SLAYER (1980)

Directed by: Terry Marcel
Written by: Terry Marcel & Harry Robertson
Starring: Jack Palance, John Terry, Bernard Bresslaw & Annette Crosbie

How naff is Hawk the Slayer? Pretty naff. But in a good way. Yep, naff can be good. And Hawk the Slayer is all kinds of good. Well, naff. Cheap, cheerful and very, very British, well except for the two leading men being American of course, it’s Lord of the Rings lite (sort of) as Hawk (who I’m pretty sure is never referred to as the actual “Slayer”) is a goody two shoes, know it all, brilliant-with-a-sword hero who with his band of merry men (an elf, a dwarf and a gaint: hmmmm, Lord of the Rings eh?) set off across the land to free everyone from the evil clutches of Voltan (Palance). He just happens to be Hawk’s (Terry) mad, evil brother who has the land in his mad, evil grip (which simply seems to involve shouting at people a lot). He also killed Hawk’s lady love and father so they have that to sort out as well.



It’s not all bad though, as Hawk the Slayer is a whole heap of campy fun. From Hawk levitating his sword, to the ridiculous sound effect and musical score that accompanies this (and pretty much when anything else happens in the flick) to the ever so serious Elf warrior and Jack Palance hamming it up (and seemingly suffering loss of depth perception with the crappy helmet he has to wear!), Hawk the Slayer has something for fantasy film and bad movie lovers everywhere. Bernard Bresslaw (from the Carry On films and other fantasy themed flicks where he had to play a giant) is good fun as, yep, the warrior giant and the authentically cold and damp English woods provide a bit of grit to the setting and help to counteract all the campness.



The action scenes aren’t much to write about, though there is a fair few of them, edited too rapidly and relying on the crappy speeded up effect of the Elf firing many, many arrows at once. Still it’s all part of the cheesy fun and while it's not as good as similar early 80’s fantasy fare (Krull, Clash of the Titans, Dragonslayer: I’m sorry but it isn’t) Hawk the Slayer still, ahem, slays plenty bad guys and provides enough silly fun. Cool.

Amazing!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8Ra6TsdEts

Other Reviews




Some more recent reviews I've done for film site Far East Films (www.fareastfilms.com)

www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/God-Man-Dog-2104.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Ichi-2116.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/No.-3-2124.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Silent-Assassins-2130.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Suicide-Club-2134.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Crying-Fist-2150.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Oasis-2140.htm
www.fareastfilms.com/reviewsPage/Chanbara-Beauty-2112.htm

Thursday, 12 November 2009

District 13: Ultimatum




DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM (2009)


Directed by: Patrick Alessandrin
Screenplay: Luc Besson
Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle & Elodie Yung

The original District 13 blew everybody (well, most people) away with its heady mix of martial arts, parkour styled stunts and super charged momentum. A quick, slick 80 minutes it was a world wide hit and brought martial artist Cyril Raffaelli and free runner David Belle cult action status. Now they are back in a sequel, that while not as super charged, does add a little more grit and still delivers a heap of well choreographed action.

Not much has changed from the first District 13, the promises to clean up and help out the walled in slums of Paris not kept. Leito (Belle) obviously let down by this, is still running around the District trying to fix things the best way he can i.e. attempting to blow up the huge concrete walls himself, or least do some damage to them. Gangs run rampant in the walled in districts, each laying claim to their own territory. Drastic measures are set in motion to clean up and essentially eradicate the war torn districts by some shifty secret service types. Acquiring a tape that shows the secret service instigating a set up that will benefit the shifty secret service types and not the residents of the districts, Leito ventures into the city to meet up with old partner Damien (Raffaelli). He himself has got into trouble (i.e. set up) and landed in prison, so Leito must first rescue him and then the two set off to stop the destruction of the district.



Despite the fact that District 13: Ultimatum is a good film and a competent action film perhaps what mars it the most, and doesn’t make it as good as the first, is that both too much has changed and not enough has changed. The plot is essentially the same as the first go around without the kidnap of Leito’s sister and this time Damien must be broken out of prison. It still takes a good chunk of the film’s running time for the two heroes to actually meet up and each are given their own introductory action scene. Nothing really wrong with this formula, but perhaps just a little too much rehashing of the good bits of the first entry. In addition, the tone and pacing is a little grungier and slower this time around. This does to some extent dilute the adrenaline pulsing rush of the first film but it gives Ultimatum its own style and a bit more tension as we build to the action. New director, Alessandrin doesn’t quite have the sharp, full throttle direction of Pierre Morrel (who directed part 1) but he does ring some tense moments out of the non action scenes which give this instalment a little more bite.

If the original District 13 was criticized for anything it was for its lack of plot and character interaction, instead focusing on jamming in as much action as possible (why this is seen as a negative in a movie about free running, martial arts and showcasing the acrobatic talents of the two stars, I’ll never know!). It seems like producer and screenwriter Luc Besson has attempted to give this film a bit more character, dialogue and non-action scenes, which has in turn caused most of the complaints to be that this isn’t as fun as the original and too slow in getting to the action. I guess people are never happy! In some respects it’s a fair point as there will be initial disappointment that this sequel isn’t as fast moving or features as good as action as the original but at least the makers were trying to do things a little differently despite the recycled plot. Plus each director has put their distinctive mark on each film, for better or worse.



Action wise, District 13: Ultimatum still delivers. Yeah, it’s not as tight, sharp and momentum pushing as the original and it does take time to get to it but the action scenes are still exhilarating, and choreographed and performed with aplomb. Raffaelli (choreographing much of the action as well as performing it) gets a number of show stopping set pieces including a great scene where he has to protect an original Van Gogh while using it to ward of a bunch of attackers. His choreography is clear and crisp and his fight scenes a joy to watch. Unfortunately, David Belle doesn’t seem to get as much screen time, his free running abilities less showcased this time around. His introductory action scene pales in comparison to Raffaelli’s (arguably the best in the film) and his own in the first District 13. Perhaps they didn’t have enough time to film many parkour scenes or wanted to concentrate more on martial arts but it’s a shame as his character is just as important to the franchise as Raffaelli’s. However, he does get one action scene to show his stuff, once again running across, up and down the high rises attempting to out run his pursuers.

Perhaps not quite what fans were expecting, District 13: Ultimatum may not feel as fresh and fast as its originator but it’s still a quality example of Euro styled action and pretty decent sequel with some top notch action scenes.



http://cooltarget.blogspot.com/2008/10/district-13.html

Surrogates



SURROGATES (2009)

Directed by
: Jonathon Mostow
Screenplay: John Brancato & Michael Ferris
Starring: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell & Ving Rhames

Unfairly overlooked at the tail end of the summer blockbuster rush, Surrogates is a good looking and sometimes thoughtful slice of science fiction starring the always reliable Bruce Willis. He plays reliable cop Agent Greer who like most of the human race lives his life through a surrogate: a good looking, healthy synthetic version of ones self which can never be hurt or catch disease. This means most of the human race is actually holed up in their homes, jacked into a computer, living their outside lives through their robot counterparts. Greer hasn’t actually seen his real wife in some time, as she refuses to be seen other than through her surrogate. Feeling disconnected from his wife and the world around him Greer and his partner Peters (Mitchell) must also cope with a surrogate killer on the loose who has a weapon that can not only disable the surrogate robots but kill the users jacked in at the other end.




Helmed by Jonathon Mostow who also made the robot themed (and not that bad) Terminator 3, Surrogates zips along at a fair clip but still finds time to infuse matters with character and emotion. Willis carries the film well, despite the silly wig his surrogate is given but actually spends most of time as his character's human version: an older, slower and slightly broken down version of his surrogate. When his surrogate is destroyed (in a barnstorming sequence that involves a crashing helicopter) he opts out of getting a new one, wanting to finish the investigation himself. This means Greer is thrust back into the real world for the first time in ages and has to cope with being slower, older and less beautiful than everyone around him. He also feels physical pain again and while Peters opts to still remain in her surrogate (we only get one brief glimpse of her human form) the two forge an unlikely human/robot alliance who team up to track down the killer. Greer also attempts to reconnect with his wife who is bed ridden, pill popping and morning the death of their son and thus will not go out into the real world unless she is in surrogate form (a very beautiful Rosamund Pike). Greer soon finds his life and the hunt for the killer crossing paths and the person who is shutting down all the surrogates may actually have a purpose and a want for society to return to how it used to be.



While Surrogates is mostly successful at merging sci-fi with big action, though there are really only two big set pieces (the helicopter/Greer surrogate set piece and the Peters/car chase near the end), it’s the more thoughtful sci-fi aspects that linger than the big set pieces. Willis may be doing his slightly damaged, older everyman bit but it works well within the context of the story and it’s refreshing that his partner, the female Peters, is actually the stronger of the two. Mitchell is great as always, looks amazing (as most of the cast do, the make up department doing a brilliant job of making the future look beautiful) and gives her character a bit of grit. The action scenes are handled well (Mostow knowing a thing or two about action after helming Breakdown, U571 and T3) and the film ends on a rather sombre almost thoughtful note highlighting that this kind of future may not be too far away, our reliance on technology and want for perfection already leading us there.

Nothing revolutionary but entertaining nonetheless and much better than expected. The Hollywood budget helps to make everything look good, the cast are equally impressive and overall Surrogates is just a decent, well made slice of sci-fi action.


Original Gangstas



ORIGINAL GANGSTAS (1996)

Directed by
: Larry Cohen
Written by: Aubrey Rattan
Starring: Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Pan Grier & Richard Roundtree

Part drama, part exploitation, part action, Original Gangstas is a thoroughly entertaining slice of urban action that reunites some of the greats of the old school Blaxploitation era. Williamson (The Destroyer), Brown (One Down, Two to Go), Grier (Foxy Brown), Roundtree (Shaft) and even Ron O’Neal (Superfly) join forces to rid their hometown of invading gangs made up of violent young yobs. It’s old versus young as the ‘original gangsta’s’ show the modern hoodlums (well, mid 1990s thugs) who’s boss.

Ace writer/director Larry Cohen (of It’s Alive and The Ambulance fame) directs with gusto keeping the exploitation nature of the subject and the hard violence bubbling along but also finding time for some quality drama and character interaction. Seeing the likes of Williamson, Brown and Grier do their thing is great but they all get ample opportunity to stretch the acting muscles as well. The interaction they have with one another, reuniting in their home community after many years away, provides some solid character development and shows the easy going nature the actors (hopefully and assumingly) had with one another. Their characters and interaction is also a nice counterpoint to all the loud mouth swearing of the young gangster characters, perhaps over egging their tough act a little bit. Still the young cast are satisfyingly nasty meaning they deserve their comeuppance when the ‘old’ crew starts dishing out the vigilante justice.



The action may be a little sloppy and unfocused at times, but it still hits hard and there is enough firepower dispensed come the final half hour to feel like the Original Gangsta’s stepped up to the plate and did what they needed to do. Williamson and Brown get ample chance to dust it up in several bare knuckle fights, Grier also dishing out the pain with only Roundtree (the original Shaft no less) unfortunately and mystifyingly sidelined for most of the film. However, Williamson, Brown and Grier have a nice rapport and everything seems to have been shot on the real streets of where the flick is set (Gary, Indiana) which give proceedings a little more authentic bite.

Reportedly Williamson wasn’t happy with the final film (he produced it through his company) which caused a rift between him and long time collaborator, Larry Cohen. Shame, as though it’s a little dated, it's still some of the best work the two have done, and a cool slice of urban action. Also look out for appearances from genre stalwarts Paul Winfield (The Terminator), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Wings Hauser (Mutant) and Charles Napier (just about every B-movie under the sun).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Harry Brown



HARRY BROWN (2009)

Directed by: Daniel Barber
Written by: Gary Young
Starring: Michael Caine, Iain Glen, Liam Cunningham & Emil Mortimer

Contender for the darkest, grimiest and nastiest mainstream film to come out in some time (well since the last Saw film at least), Harry Brown is a take no prisoners decent into council estate, drug fuelled, hate crime hell. It’s also, if you can stomach it, a cracking revenge thriller. Distinctively British and full of grit, Harry Brown gives acting icon Michael Caine a great leading role and shows at almost 80 years old he can still hold the screen, carry a film and dish out the violent justice on some foul mouth yobs.

Set in the bleakest and dirtiest of council estates, Harry Brown (Caine) is an aging pensioner living a cold and lonely existence in a high rise tenant block. His wife is on her death bed, his local populated with drug peddling scum and his best mate Len (David Bradley) is scared for his life, continually tormented by the local gangs of kids. These aren’t just your normal bunch of gobby teenagers: they pack guns and knifes, deal drugs and have no problem using any of the three to do harm or inflict pain. Which they do, killing Len and enforcing their terrifying grip on the local estate. This, coupled with death of his wife, forces Harry Brown, a former marine who may just have killed before, to take up arms and hit back at the violent yobs.

Despite being professionally made with slick camerawork and an effective use of music and sound (long periods of quiet broken by sudden bursts of loud sound and violence), Harry Brown sticks to its dark heart from reel one. The viewer is immersed into a miserable, dark and dank world where there is little hope, save for the possibility that one pensioner might be able to do something about the escalating violence. The teenagers are vile people and while they drop f-bombs and c-bombs left, right and centre, they are used sparingly making them a more menacing presence than clich├ęd, shouty delinquents. The young cast (including Jack O’Connell, Ben Drew and Lee Oakes) infuse their yobs with bite and terror, not least in an intense interrogation scene when they are first brought up on the charge of murdering Len. The setting itself is an oppressive character, more like a prison than a housing estate and the film bathes in its grimy grey look never letting us escape the oppressive nature of the surroundings or the subject. There is some hope, in the form of Emily Mortimer’s kindly police detective who knows what Harry is up to but she herself is surrounded by useless and sexist police officers who give her little time or acknowledgment.



However, this is no kitchen sink drama. Harry Brown is still a full on revenge thriller and after the satisfyingly slow and tense build up of the first half, good old Harry gets down to avenging his friend's death. It’s a testament to the filmmakers for making a seventy odd year old seem convincing at dishing out the violence and handling a gun with measured build up and several incredibly tense and well staged sequences. Rather than have Caine become some kind of old age Rambo, toting bazookas and machines guns, the action scenes are staged convincingly and simply show an old man who hasn’t forgotten a “certain set of skills” he required while serving in the armed forces. The violence hits hard, make no doubt about it, but it's well paced throughout the film rather than a full on non-stop gore-a-thon. Several scenes will leave a bad taste in the mouth but, as mentioned, this is a dark world Harry is in and he must fight violence with violence. Two stand-out sequences include a gripping shootout in a subway walkthrough and a terrifyingly extended confrontation in a horrifying drug den that is worth checking out the flick for alone.

Despite the gritty and reaching for realism tone, things do go a little over-the-top come the end (a full on riot, a plot twist signposted a mile away) but there is a riveting showdown and even signs of hope, which comes as a relief after all the doom and gloom. The flick is perhaps a little too eager to be dark and dingy but it’s refreshing to see the subject taken seriously. Yes, it is wish fulfilment as it is a movie and fictional story after all but the dark tone and serious approach help create the tense experience Harry Brown is. Ignore the somewhat misleading advertising which seems to make the film look like some kind of ‘cool Britannia’ slice of posing fluff starring Michael Caine, as, well Michael Caine. It’s not. It’s a tough and serious film, a tale of violent retribution with an excellent and often restrained performance from Mr Caine with several scenes that will linger in your mind for some time afterwards. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste but brave and brutal at the same time: Harry Brown certainly dishes out his revenge cold.

Hero and the Terror



HERO AND THE TERROR (1992)

Directed by: William Tannen
Written by: Dennis Shryack & Michael Bodgett
Starring: Chuck Norris, Brynn Thayer, Steve James & Jack O’Halloran

Before he became Walker: Texas Ranger, Mr Exercise Infomercial and the butt of a thousand facts, one time Bruce Lee opponent and walking mullet, Chuck Norris, made a couple of good action flicks here and there in the 1980s. While not as action heavy as the likes of the Delta Force and Missing in Action films, Hero and the Terror is a fun low key Norris effort, more of a spooky cop thriller about a deadly serial killer. Norris plays buff and bearded cop Danny O’Brien who we see in a pretty freaky dream sequence put away crazy serial killer Simon Moon (O’Halloran). But three years later, Moon escapes from a mental asylum and hides within the walls and ducts of a newly built movie house, stalking and killing the pretty female patrons. O’Brien, who is trying to lead the normal life for a change, knows its Moon murdering again and must once again confront an evil that almost cost him his life the first time around.

Produced by action specialists Cannon, Hero and the Terror gave Norris the rare opportunity to actually act. Now, he’s still Chuck Norris: cool suits; nice car; wisecracks; everybody loves him; he’s ace at kicking people in the face; mullet and obligatory weightlifting scene (which is an overdose of 80s cheese that almost derails the tense and spooky vibe the film is going for), but he’s not quite as gung-ho and as invincible as he is in his other films and there is even an attempt to give him some character. The narrative spends as much time on his relationship with his onscreen wife (maybe a little too much for Norris and action fans) as it does with the serial killer plot that adds a little more to the standard tough cop chasing after a crazy killer formula. Norris ain’t half bad (when he’s not working out) and there is good chemistry between him and his on screen missus, Brynn Thayer. There is also some good support from Cannon stalwart Steve James (American Ninja) who also gets more of a chance to act than just throw punches and kicks, as O’Brien’s best bud and fellow police officer.

The film isn’t heavy on action and while Norris has a few chases and throws a few kicks isn’t really a film that lets him cut loose in the fight department. However, tension is nicely built and sustained as Norris tries to work out where Moon is and bring him to justice. While it never fully crosses the realm into supernatural, there is a certain spooky quality to the film as at times Moon seems like an almost unstoppable and uncaptureable villain. The stalk sequences are handled fairly well and come the finale there is a great knockdown brawl between the hero and the “terror”. In addition the film is slickly shot, there’s an early appearance from a young Billy Drago (Delta Force 2, The Untouchables) and the running time is kept tight. Perhaps lacking a little too much in the action department, Hero and the Terror is still a neat little watch that gave Norris a somewhat different role and has lots of 80s charm to make up for the lack of car chases and roundhouse kicks.

The Avengers



THE AVENGERS (1998)

Directed by: Jeremiah Chechik
Screenplay: Don MacPherson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman & Sean Connery

Universally panned and seemingly hated big screen adaptation of the cult British TV show, The Avengers may be far from good but it’s by no means the train wreck many will have you believe. Yes, it’s not great, has odd pacing and coherency problems and certainly suffers from being cut down from its original 2 hour run time to just over 80 minutes. The cast also often looked bemused as to what is going on (the plot having something to with crazy super villain Sean Connery controlling the weather and threatening to keep Britain under six feet of snow: oh yeah, exciting stuff!) and the overall feel of the film struggles with attempting to fuse a quirky old school British TV show with blockbuster action and spectacle.

I’m sure there are those who will tell how much it deviates from the original show but I’m not one as I’ve never really watched The Avengers TV show (caught an odd episode here and there) which, I suppose, is fair enough as many a favourite TV show (especially during the blockbusting 1990s) has been ripped apart by the Hollywood machine. It’s as if the makers weren’t quite sure what they had when they adapted The Avengers for the big screen, obviously wanting to keep the eccentricity of the show but add in star power and some big action scenes to make it a summer blockbuster. But having gutted the film and trimmed its running time considerably have made it even more incomprehensible than it would have been before and diluted the offbeat fun The Avengers could have been. The main cast isn’t bad (or not as bad as you may have read elsewhere) but do seem to be struggling with getting the right tone, trying to balance the lighter moments with the darker ones, the eccentric with the spectacle. Others such as Jim Broadbent, Eddie Izzard and Eileen Atkins are completely wasted, their parts obviously victims of the major slicing and dicing.



But as any film that has a lot of hype around it, concerning how great it is or going to be, the same can be said about films that have incredible reputations for being, well, shit. Yeah, The Avengers isn’t that good and is on some levels, shit, but it’s not all that bad. The groovy styling and look, merging hi-tech with old time London, is pretty impressive (the Hollywood budget showing its benefits) and for all the weirdness, quirkiness and general off-beatness that doesn’t work, there is just as much that does. There is a neat pursuit sequence where the heroes are chased by a swarm of mechanical bees and there is the novel and outright mad sequence of Sean Connery and a bunch of other extras dressed as giant teddy bears. Yep, quirky indeed and not something you see in your everyday Hollywood blockbuster.

Unfortunately the rest of action (when it finally arrives), despite being quite big in spectacle, doesn’t really hold up often over too quickly or shot and cut too tightly to really appreciate it. Which is surprising since stunt and action duty was handled by the great Vic Armstrong (Indiana Jones, James Bond). So, overall a bit of a disaster but a bit of a curious offering and still worth a watch to either see a slightly off the beaten track blockbuster or confirm to yourself it really is a pile of crap.

Simon Sez



SIMON SEZ (1999)

Directed by
: Kevin Elders
Screenplay: Andrew Millers & Andrew Lowery
Starring: Dennis Rodman, Dane Cook, John Pinette & Ricky Harris

Someone, somewhere once thought it would be a good idea to turn Dennis Rodman into an action star. Why? Who really knows? I suppose, at the time this was made and having just co-starred with Jean Claude Van Damme in similar vehicle Double Team, Rodman’s name could sell a movie. Sort of. The one time bad boy of basketball had a short lived career in the movie world which pretty much peaked with this noisy, obnoxious vanity vehicle. Considering Rodman was more known for his flamboyant attitude and style than his acting and basketball skills he is actually the least flamboyant and most down to earth aspect of Simon Sez, which ramps up the so called comedy and overacting to stratospheric proportions.

Rodman plays some kind of ex-CIA, now Interpol agent busting crime somewhere pretty in Europe. He’s helped out by two, ahem, “comedy” monks (why they are monks is never explained) who are kinda like his Q from the James Bond flicks. Some foxy chick gets kidnapped by the campest bad guy ever, some other foxy and very athletic chick shows up for Rodman to fall out with and then bed and for reasons that defy any kind of sense or reasoning Dane Cook (Torque, Employee of the Month) joins the chase and rescue and spends most of the running time doing various impressions of animals and Star Wars characters which are neither funny or serve any purpose other than making the rest of the cast look uncomfortable. Oh dear!



Rodman was only just bearable in the lambasted Van Damme flick Double Team, mainly as he wasn’t on screen that much and that film at least had some very cool action and was fun despite it’s over abundance of crazy style and general loopiness. Simon Sez is like a toned down spin-off with not as much action, too much rubbish comedy and a more knockabout adventure vibe. But it’s all rubbish. The comedy is so forced and thrust in your face, you just want to punch most of the characters in the face and who ever thought it was a good idea to let Dane Cook loose with his “comedy” skills has hopefully left the movie business hanging their head in shame. If you are not a fan of his now, then certainly don’t check out this as he was arguably worse ten years ago. Though his dinosaur impression is kinda funny. Well, it’s not really but he does stop a whole fight scene so he go “Jurassic” (what ever that means) on one of the characters. Brilliant.

Yeah, Simon Sez isn’t to be taken seriously but it’s even a little too lame as just a fun, over-the-top caper. The painful comedy takes up too much time, Rodman is barely there (hence why Dane Cook gets a lot of screen time) and the action is nothing to write home about. Actually, it’s not that bad. Infused with Hong Kong flavour by action director Xin Xin Xiong (Double Team, The Blade) the action scenes are fairly creative and energetic, shot and cut well and add a little adrenaline to the piece. There is a nice running battle in a kitchen, Xiong gets acrobatic in a few scenes and there are some cool car stunts courtesy of Remy Julienne (loads of James Bond films) and his team.

But really, Simon Sez sucks. Unless who have to see Dane Cook go “Jurassic” or watch an action film where a Citroen flies of a cliff, glides down onto a beach by means of a pink (yep, pink!) parachute, only for Cook to then throw up while even Rodman looks on in disbelief, then this is the flick for you. And to think I’ve actually watched this film twice. Oh dear, indeed.