Friday, 19 June 2015

The Marine 4: Moving Target


Directed by: William Kaufman
Screenplay: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Blacker, Matthew MacCaull, Paul McGillion & Summer Rae

The Marine is back, again, and so is Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin as ace marine Jake Carter, and the first WWE wrestler to feature in two consecutive Marine films (after Ted DiBiase Jr in Part 2 and John Cena who kicked off the whole shebang with the original). It’s a welcome return for The Miz, whose Marine 3 was an impressive instalment, and his bad ass marine now finds himself working in private security and assigned to the detail of protecting a young whistleblower (Roxburgh). Naturally, the folks she will be blowing the whistle on want her dead and send an elite squad of mercenaries to kill her: ambushing the convoy that is supposed to be transporting her to safety in explosive style. With the rest of the security detail slain and the package now on the run through the woods, it’s up to Jake Carter to retrieve her, convince her he ain’t one of the bad guys and dispense as many machine gun shells as possible as he attempts to stop the ever swarming, heavy artillery toting mercenaries. 

Aptly subtitled Moving Target, the film is basically one long running gun battle from the moment the convoy is attacked. Barely pausing for breath, The Marine 4 is an automatic weapons fan’s dream come true, as tooled up mercenaries and a gun toting Jake engage in numerous nicely staged fire-fights in and through the well utilised woodland setting, a safe house and a police station: tearing up pretty much every surrounding they find themselves in with a barrage of bullets. The flick is essentially one long charge as Jake and the lady he must protect attempt to flee to safety before deciding taking a stand against the murderous soldiers is their only option. Director William Kaufman (who staged similarly impressive gun battles in the like of Sinners and Saints and the underrated Cuba Gooding Jr flick Hit List) loves his gun carnage and goes full tilt with the bullet blasting mayhem. Not just content with maximum firepower, he also finds time for some impressive fight scenes with a particularly memorable safe house showdown between The Miz and one of the slimy bad guys. 

With so much action on its plate and a pace that never slackens, the inevitable naysayers of not enough plot will no doubt have a lot to say about the film’s streamlined narrative (and judging by some of the internet reaction, they do!). Still, we get some cool and formidable bad guys who find tensions rising amongst themselves when their sure-fire plan goes tits-up and while Melissa Roxburgh’s whistleblower at first comes across as a little too douchey and bratty she does learn her lesson, her actions often causing people to be killed, and even picks up some heavy artillery in the First Blood-esque finale. Yet this is The Miz’s show and proves again to be a solid action star and impressive screen fighter, even going toe-to-toe with WWE alum Summer Rae (who plays the kick ass female member of the mercenary team) in a bit of sweet (but brief) knife wielding fight action.

One probably either loves or loathes The Marine franchise but for this two bit reviewer with a blog, it just keeps on giving and The Marine 4 is a solid and slick slice of machine gun shredding action. Oh go on then, give us another one: The Marine 5 please. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Marine 3: Homefront


Directed by: Scott Wiper
Written by: Scott Wiper & Declan O’Brien
Starring: Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, Camille Sullivan, Ashley Bell, Michael Eklund, Darren Shahlavi & Neal McDonough

Love it or loathe it (and it appears to be loved and loathed in equal measure!) The Marine franchise trundles on with this very solid third entry, Homefront. New instalment therefore new WWE wrestler front and centre as the bad ass marine character. This time around it’s Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin who makes an impressive debut as marine Jake Carter returning home to visit his two sisters while on leave. No sooner has he returned, had some BBQ, sunk some beers and busted balls with his old high school buddy (now town Sherriff!), he is up to his eye balls in bad guy Neal McDonough’s evil plans. He and his gang of goons plan to level some important building in downtown Seattle, to make a stand against corporate greed (or something), and their base of operations is an abandoned boat and shipyard in Carter’s hometown. One of Jake’s sisters witnesses these evil dudes killing someone in cold blood, is swiftly kidnapped and held hostage (along with her boyfriend) and when the FBI prove inept at handling the situation (of course!) it’s up to Carter and his bad ass marine skills to storm the boat stronghold and engage in an excessive amount of gun battles with the bad guys. 

This nobody reviewer thoroughly enjoys The Marine series (and aint ashamed of it) and Homefront is a solid entry that keeps the franchise chugging along effectively. The cartoonishness of the action has been toned down from the first film (perhaps still the most fun entry in the franchise: partly due to Robert Patrick’s awesome over-the-top villain) but The Marine 3 is still a fast and fun slice of action thanks in part to a decent cast and some hard edged firepower in the action scenes. The Miz makes a decent stab at leading man status and though is kept off screen somewhat during the middle stretch of the film (so the likes of McDonough can do all the heavy lifting acting!), kicks some serious ass when it comes time for him to go rescue his sister. He gets a wicked one-on-one fight with the late great Darren Shahlavi (The Package, Ip Man 2) who plays a pumped up henchman and the film benefits from the filmmakers staging some impressive high powered gun fights with lots of high tech artillery.

Director Scott Wiper knows action (The Condemned, A Better Way To Die) and uses his unique location of a giant abandoned ferry to give the setting  a distinctive look and basically rip apart the boat with an impressive amount of gunfire and carnage: think Heat but on a budget. The lack of CGI enhancement lends proceedings a rougher and tougher vibe and Neal McDonough (Red 2, Falcon Rising) brings class as the somewhat sympathetic (but ruthless) villain. Sure it’s all pretty straightforward and streamlined (with the obligatory jingoistic montage of what it is to be a marine!) but at 80 minutes and well put together, The Marine 3 is an often slick and sharp shooting good time. 

Monday, 8 June 2015


I met up again with a couple of the guys from Blueprint Review for another weekend of non-stop B-movie madness. We managed to get through an abundance of low budget insanity including Enzo G. Castellari's stunt-packed Hammer, the awesomely titled Monster Dog featuring Alice Cooper, Dolph in zombie/robot action madness Battle of the Damned, The Boz in decent 90s action caper Midnight Heat, Brian Trenchard-Smith's wicked 80s punk-fest Dead End Drive-In and an assortment of other B-movies weirdness.

Check the write up here.

Tokyo Tribe

Check out my new review of Tokyo Tribe over at Far East Films.

Axis Of War: The First Of August

Check out my new review of Axis Of War: The First Of August over at Far East Films.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Absolute Deception


Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Screenplay: Kraig Wenman, Story by: Jeffrey Schenk & Peter Sullivan
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Kelly Atkinson & Everett McQueen

This cheap but cheerful, shabby but sunny action thriller sees Cuba Gooding Jr going through the paces as a tough but likable FBI agent investigating some dodgy goings on down under on Australia’s sun drenched Gold Coast. He teams up with lovely reporter Emmanuelle Vaugier as they investigate the shady dealings of her recently slain husband: a husband she thought had been dead for several years but had actually been living a secret life down under. This, of course, uncovers all kinds of shifty schemes connected to local corrupt businessmen who will stop at nothing to make sure the investigative duo are silenced. Non-surprisingly these slimy business types have a disposable supply of goons (where do they get them from?)  to send out to fight, bother and attempt to blow up our heroes with crappy CGI explosions!

Australian cult director and one time exploitation ace, Brian Trenchard-Smith (Turkey Shoot, Man from Hong Kong, Day of the Panther and, oh yes, BMX Bandits) delivers an often slick looking if run-of-the-mill thriller that benefits from the sparky chemistry of its two leads. There is nothing particularly new here and the budget does show its strain on a few occasions (that aforementioned awful CGI boat explosion: seriously they should have just cut that and had another fist fight instead!) but Gooding Jr and Vaugier make for a couple of appealing investigative heroes and their banter is perhaps the main draw here. They bounce off each well and seem to be enjoying themselves running around sunny Australia and occasionally kicking bad guy ass. 

Proceedings bob along nicely with a car chase here and a fisticuff there (with the end fight scene proving to be a nice little scrap!) and though there could have been a bit more action (and less shitty CGI boat explosions) Absolute Deception reaches its predictable climax in an unfussy and unpretentious way. The cast and crew may have only be doing this for some quick pay (wild speculation from this nobody reviewer!) but once the leads team up and get to investigating, Absolute Deception is a fun little action thriller romp and a hell of a lot better than Trenchard-Smith’s other recent Gold Coast shot action flick, the dire Drive Hard