Category Archives: Action

roadwarrior3

Speed Week Plus: The Road Warrior

 Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

 

You think you’ve seen road rage before? Let’s cruise on over to post-apocalyptic Australia for a high octane killing spree!

Mad Max was such a cult action-adventure hit, the film makers came back with a bigger budget for the sequel. In addition to launching a young actor named Mel Gibson into superstardom, it also inspired too many doomsday visionaries to count…including another film maker who would produce a time travel thriller a couple years later about a killer cyborg sent back from a future similar to this one, to assassinate the mother of a resistance movement’s leader. You may have heard of that flick. It’s called The Terminator.

In the roar of an engine he lost everything…

 

roadwarrior1

 

In the first movie, Australia was on the verge of societal collapse. As this story begins, that collapse is a done deal. Max, once a good cop and happy family man, is now a lone drifter with no ambition beyond surviving in the New Dark Ages.

What we have here is actually a sort of post-apocalyptic western. Max is the jaded gunfighter who is numb to death and has nothing to lose.

The vermin of the wasteland (I guess I’ll call them VOTL for short) have tried to bushwhack him before, but he’s a little too much for them to handle. The prize they’re really lusting after, though, is a strange outpost of civilization in the wilderness.

A small community which still clings to the mores and values of non-barbaric society occupies an oil refinery, defending it with flamethrowers and pneumatic dart guns from the perverse savages who rape and murder any who attempt to break through the siege and run for freedom.

After defeating (then taking captive) a snake-charming gyrocopter pilot, Max encounters this situation just as two would-be escapees meet their gruesome fate.

The alpha-dog ruling over the VOTL barbarians is a buff baddie called Humongous. Don’t ask me where he finds his vitamins, energy drinks and steroids out there in the post-apocalyptic desert. And though he probably has plenty of time on his hands, where he finds a gym to work out in is also a mystery.

Humongous’ go-to lieutenant is an acrobatic Sodomite who puts his crosshairs on our hero early when he gets wounded during road combat with Max. Later he comes totally unglued when his butt-boy is killed by a razor-edged boomerang that belongs to “the Feral Kid.”

The R rating is strictly for the violence…plus some brief non-titillating nudity. I don’t believe there’s any cussing at all. But the violence is on an epic scale for 1981–dished out with a mixture of Medieval weapons, improvised munitions and fast machines. There are only two firearms in the film–one owned by the hero; one by the villain. The ammo supply for both is extremely limited.

 

Those fast machines are what makes this movie required viewing for Speed Week Plus. Not only is Max’s Falcon Interceptor back (with the Hollywood clutched blower) but there are other Australian musclecars and some vehicles that look like hybrid dune buggies or sand rails.

The Lord Humongous…the Ayatolah of RocknRollah!

One of the suicide machines has two engines. One of them has a crude nitrous system (“noss” for those of you who acquired all your automotive knowledge from watching the Fast and Furious flicks). Add to all that horsepower the added boost of camera undercranking , and the result is insane speed for the chase sequences.

The Road Warrior has its flaws, which become more obvious over time and repeated viewing, but it’s still a great action adventure movie that requires no more suspension of disbelief than most of the CGI/green screen enhanced claptrap Hollywood’s been churning out in the new Millennium.

This is perhaps my favorite post-apocalyptic movie. What’s yours?

Speed Week Plus: Ronin

Welcome to Speed Week Plus! You’re in the middle of a series of blog posts dedicated to a specific selection of action adventure, featuring blazing horsepower, shattered speed limits and melting tire rubber.

Up this time is Ronin, an action flick that is part caper and part espionage, with plot twists and double-crosses in all the right places. Robert DeNiro is a superb actor who is brilliant in the villain role but no sloucher as a hero, either, as proven in this movie. In this one he’s a former spook who, like a samurai without a master, must rent out his skills to make a living. He is hired along with some other “specialists” to pull a job that grows increasingly complex as the twists pile up.

It’s a solid action yarn that is well worth spending an afternoon watching. But it was recommended to me specifically for the chase scene.

To be honest I found the car chase rather unremarkable. Its popularity probably has a lot to do with the body count in vehicular destruction, and the now obligatory driving-into-oncoming-traffic segment.

Anyway, the car chase is above for your viewing pleasure and you can decide for yourself how good it is.

I agree with Jean Reno, BTW: De Niro should have just shot her. But then there wouldn’t be an excuse to flog these European luxury sedans through traffic for eight minutes.

This is actually an idiosyncratic selection for me. Stay tuned to watch some American iron raising hell next time.

Speed Week Plus: Vanishing Point (1971) – a Review

In this low budget counter-culture extravaganza from the Vietnam era, a former race driver Kowalski, whose current job is delivering new cars, makes a bet Friday night that he can deliver the new white Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco by 3pm the next day.

That’s it–no medical situation, family emergency or secret assignment from the Impossible Mission Force. But he’s destined to become a famous (or infamous, depending on the culture of the beholder) antihero just the same.

Kowalski is plagued by flashbacks, hopped up on speed and just wants to put the hammer down in a tire-melting musclecar for the heck of it–even though the delivery’s not due until Monday.

Needless to say, local police don’t endorse his spontaneous quest for a burst of freedom and a chase ensues which lasts for the entire movie.

I don’t know if it’s intentional, but Kowalski’s driving evolves as the film goes on. At first he flogs the Challenger around like…well, like he’s on drugs, and not used to the car. But he tightens up during the chase, and there is a lot of hard driving scenes and a few stunts that make this cult favorite worth watching.

Stunt Coordinator Carey Loftin chose the Challenger R/T because of the fantastic horsepower and the toughness and handling potential of the torsion bar suspension. Though the trailer (above) calls it supercharged, and a police character in the film says, “We have reason to suspect it is supercharged,” the cars used during filming were bone-stock 440 four-speed cars, except for one 383 automatic. The only modification made was to install beefier shock absorbers in the car used for a stunt jump. Actor Barry Newman (who played Kowalski) remembered the 440 engine to be insanely powerful. Max Balchowsky, who also prepared the cars for the famous chase scene in Bullitt, tuned the stock suspensions of the Mopars in Vanishing Point.

The soundtrack is possibly a sample of the worst records produced in 1970, with the exception of Mississippi Queen by Mountain, which rocks so appropriately for a car scene that the Dukes of Hazard feature also employed it. The distorted power chords during the climactic scene fit nicely, too. Otherwise, you might as well replace the entire soundtrack with the psychadelic jams from the period.

Vanishing Point was remade as a TV movie in 1997. Though the script was a pleasant surprise, the acting and direction leave much to be desired. And the “high speed” chase scenes appear to top out at about 25 MPH. Couple that with the needless (yet obligatory) destruction of two fine automobiles and Viggo Mortensen spending 90 minutes auditioning for a toothpaste commercial, and the remake won’t be getting a write-up from me for Speed Week Plus.

Below is a scene with loads of potential…if only they’d filmed it at speed! BTW, somebody called the other car a Porsche. It is actually a Jaguar E-Type roadster. And trying to fender-bang a musclecar off the side of the road in one of these would be suicide. But Hollywood film makers consistently prove their ignorance about cars to this day, and this aspect of the scene is an example. What they got right: the Jag gains ground in the corners, and holds its own on the straights…until Kowalski bangs the Challenger into fourth gear.(Apologies, but this is the best presentation of the scene I can find, anymore.)

Finally, here’s the Charger vs. Challenger scene from the remake with Faggo Mortensen, in case you like:

cobra2

Cobra (1986)–a Review

The centerpiece of NASCAR’s Speed Week–the Daytona 500–just took place. We’re considering a Speed Week of our own right here. Or maybe a Speed Month, anyway.

I have been informed that Virtual Pulp is lacking a review of Cobra, and this simply will not do. So without further ado…here it is:

I would call this action movie a “guilty pleasure”…but I’m really not all that guilty about liking it. When it first hit theaters in 1986 I watched it for every weekend pass while it was still showing at the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville. As soon as it came to video I bought a copy, too.

Cobra has a lot in common with the prototype renegade cop flick Dirty Harry. Obviously they’re both about cops who teeter on the edge of vigilantism, ridding civilization of scum that the inept “justice” bureaucracy lets terrorize decent people. But it goes even further than that. Both Harry Callahan and Marion Cobretti have the same partner…at least he’s played by the same actor. Last name is Gonzales in one, Garcia in the other. Remember the villain from Dirty Harry? Same actor plays Cobretti’s nemesis inside the police force in Cobra.

And now for what, more than anything else, made me a fan of this classic action adventure cop movie: Cobra’s ride–a chopped and channeled ’50 Merc lead sled. This is my kind of cop.

“I know what you’re thinkin’: ‘Did he drop two gears or only one?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda’ lost track myself. But seein’ as how this is an American V8, the most powerful engine in the world, and would blow your doors clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

Okay, we can all pick this scene apart if we choose to. There are continuity errors throughout–bulletholes in the trunk that disappear in the next shot; cars doing over 110 MPH on the freeway in one shot, doing 15 on a back street in the next… Obliteration of the laws of physics: a burst from a submachinegun causes a pickup truck to flip bed-over-cab and explode… And in typical Hollywood fashion the best car in the movie is needlessly destroyed. But it’s still fun while it lasts. (Despite some continuity problems of its own, the best car chase ever filmed is probably in another cop flick called Bullitt.)

Another similarity to Dirty Harry is in the blatant attempt to generate memorable lines. Cobra has a few of them, but not all of them are as bad as its reputation suggests.

Now, I agree that “I don’t like lousy shots” isn’t terribly noteworthy (and there is some even worse dialog at the end). But “Go ahead–I don’t shop here,” is hilarious. Stallone even pulled off “You’re a disease, and I’m the cure.” It’s when the marketing people decided to put it on the posters that it became groan-worthy. “Crime is a disease. He’s the cure.” Ugh. Puke.

Did you catch that Sly said, “Drop it!” right before ventilating the ugly psycho at the grocery store? Me neither, the first time. Bang! Bang! Bang! “Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

Trivia note: When Sly Stallone began working on the treatment that was later developed into the Cobra script, the title was Beverly Hills Cop. The suits wanted a comedy though, and the ideas diverged from that point.

MsMarvelRewritesHistory

Marvel Comics Regains its Senses?

Probably not. This is more likely economic reality putting the temporary kibosh on their agenda.

Comic book fans are among the most loyal fans. Few things run them off of their favorite books. For some reason, Marvel decided to do three of the most likely things to cost them fans: remove their favorite characters, tarnish the histories of those characters, and insult the fans who complained. The latter proved most insidious because the insults accused fans of racism, sexism, homophobia, and bizarrely resorted to stereotypes about comic book fans.

As Marvel did this, their new politically correct fan base proved not to be fans at all. As Marvel published book after pandering book, the books enjoyed initial high or good sales only to drop most of their audience within the first quarter. The prime example of this is the recent Black Panther book, which lost 70% of its audience in one month.

As far as I’m concerned, they have permanently lost me as a reader. Both DC and Marvel have gone too far off the deep end to ever get me back. They may dial it down a little bit for a while but I don’t believe for a second that they’re going to abandon trying to push The Narrative.

Movie Fight Scenes

When the audience is young, suspension of disbelief is much easier. I watched some abysmal movies and TV shows up into my teen years that usually didn’t bother me.

Whether the movie is good or bad, though, the fight scenes are almost always laughable. Once you begin paying attention, it’s hard not to notice the cheesy aspects–like Western Union Punches, for instance.

See if anything bothers you about the clip below:

Now, granted, this fight scene is from a comedy. But what’s sad is, films we’re supposed to take seriously are just as bad.

Notice the Adam Sandler character, who has been a brawling goon up to this point…how he just stands around waiting to be hit. It’s in the script for him to lose the fight to Bob Barker, so he just plays crash dummy.

Maybe I’ll post an example of a good one some day, if I can find one…

magnificent_seven_2016

The Magnificent Seven 3.1

The grandfather of this latest Magnificent Seven movie was Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai.

Set toward the end of the feudal period in Japan, the plot blossoms out of a small village ravaged by “brigands.” The villagers’ livelihoods are being progressively wiped out by succeeding raids, and their very existence will soon be threatened. A wise villager proposes a plan to pool what remaining resources they have, and use it to hire samurai to protect the village. Seven alienatied warriors, for various reasons, answer the call. What follows is, in effect, a suicide mission, in which the samurai face overwhelming odds with inferior weapons and equipment (the brigands have horses, armor, and even firearms while the samurai have nothing but their swords and the clothes on their back.

magnificent_seven_1960

In 1960 the story was transposed into the Old West, in a film directed by John Sturges, starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach. The samurai are replaced by gunfighters, of course. The remake is not without its flaws, but certainly has some memorable lines.

In 2016 the latest update hit the screen. I was not even aware of it, due to how hectic personal life has been lately…until a few days ago.

Some character types have survived the evolution of the story, and the core of the plot remains the same. But the SJWs in Hollywood just could not help but conform it to The Narrative.

sevensamurai

The Japanese original suffered no obligation to ethnic diversity; but the new Seven is composed of mostly minorities (one each: black; Asian; Mexican; native American), and none of the white ones survive. (OMG! Is this a metaphor of WHITE GENOCIDE?!?!?!?!?) Denzel Washington is a great actor, who has been believable in every role I’ve seen him play. Furthermore, there were some black cowboys and soldiers on the frontier. But the Chisolm character is the de facto leader of the Seven and nobody (even among the bad guys) so much as mutters under their breath about it. Granted, 19th Century America was not the racist holocaust SJWs tell us it was (when they’re not trying to convince us that the USA was founded as the secular welfare state it is now, where illegal aliens are treated better than our veterans/citizens; it’s “legal” and even mandatory in some cases to discriminate against straight white males; and the only people with inalienable rights are sexual deviants). But there certainly were bigots who weren’t afraid to speak and act on their prejudices.

As if the suspension of disbelief weren’t strained enough, the film makers just had to insert a Brave Womyn Warrior into the message film. She is the de facto leader of the townsfolk during the war against the cutthroat army (led by an Evil White Male, of course).

Yeah, okay…

Despite all the social engineering, Magnificent Seven 2016 is an entertaining 133 minutes. There are plenty of dramatic scenes and fun action sequences to keep your attention. Technically the acting and direction is Grade A.

If you have the time and inclination for a movie marathon, you could do worse than watching this one back-to-back with the 1960 film and the original (and best, IMHO) Seven Samurai.

audiobook_hg

Bam! Hell & Gone is a Bestseller

Recently I organized a little media blitz for my debut shoot-’em-up, and ran a 99 cent promotion. The results have been encouraging.

warbestsellers

I’m not a full-time author (I still work a “real” job, drat the luck), so I’m not able to sit at a computer all day and track rankings. The best I saw was that Hell & Gone hit #1 bestseller in war, pulp, and men’s adventure, and reached #70 on the top “paid in Kindle store” on Tuesday night. It was inside the top 50 in some other categories, too, but I don’t know where it peaked. Could a healthy number of reviews/increased visibility be forthcoming? You can bet I’ll be paying attention, when I can.

I’m not sure how many sales I’m getting on Kobo, Apple and Barnes & Noble, where it’s also on sale for 99 cents. (BTW both Hell & Gone and Tier Zero are also available as Audible audio books.)

hgsalesrank2137mt11-01-16

I also have a 99 cent promotion scheduled to start Saturday (November 5) for False Flag, the third book in The Retreads series. I don’t have the same level of media blitz lined up, and it’s a darker/more controversial storyline, so I don’t expect the same caliber of spike. However, Election Day happens right in the middle of the promo, and approximately 40% of those who go to the polls will be voting to make this speculative dystopia a reality. So it’s kinda’ fitting.

UPDATE: The sales reports are trickling in from other stores, starting with Barnes & Noble. Don’t know where it put me on their algorithm, but I see a boatload of sales. I need to do this again.

“Every Line Is Snark Gold!”

…So claims the latest review of The Greater Good, my “satire-tastic” lampoon of SJWs, superhero/action-adventure tropes, and The Narrative in general.

“However,” she warns, “it’s heavily packed with sarcasm.”

I have no idea where she got that notion. In fact, I take umbrage that she would even imply I’m capable of such vulgar behavior at my hallowed keyboard.

Fellow author Kia Heavey says, “The pages are packed with witty, pointed mockery of today’s Progressives that actually made me laugh out loud. Spot-on and silly at the same time, The Greater Good is written in a heroic, propagandist tone to match the artwork on the cover.”

This masterpiece now has a whopping FIVE REVIEWS!!! Another 195, plus a couple billion sales or so, and surely this literary diamond will be propelled up through the rough to a page where Amazon shoppers might actually discover that it exists. From there, of course my meteoric rise as an author follows a predictable trajectory: bestseller lists; the lecture circuit; world domination.

If you act RIGHT NOW, you can be the first one on your block to get your very own copy for less than the cost of…well, pretty much anything. Even the cost of a bottle of friggin’ water fer cryin’ out loud. (Unless you buy water in bulk from Costco, Big Lots or Sam’s Club, I suppose, if you insist on splitting hairs.) Time is running out, and these e-books are going fast! I can’t guarantee there will be any left unless you ACT NOW! (It’s obvious ebooks are in very limited supply–just look at the prices charged by the Big Five publishers!)

CACW

Captain America: Civil War is More Than a Slugfest

In the Silver Age of comics, when Marvel became a serious competitor for DC, there was a distinct contrast in the storytelling styles of the two publishers, especially in the team titles (DC’s Justice League of America and Marvel’s Avengers, primarily). While DC spent most of its comic panels on plotting, Marvel’s approach was something more like: “Forget this silly script treatment–let’s have somebody fight!”

The “Marvel Misunderstanding” subplot became an inside joke with comic book readers–when there were no supervillains handy, excuses were dreamed up to have Marvel’s heroes duke it out with each other.

CAIM

The difference between Marvel’s characters on the silver screen and in comic book pages is almost as drastic as the spy novels of Ian Fleming compared to the cinematic James Bond in the Roger Moore days. Still, we got a little “Marvel Misunderstanding” throwback in the first Avengers flick.

As the title of this movie (“Civil War”) suggests, most of the screen time is dedicated to fraternal conflict among Marvel’s big screen pantheon. But not due to a misunderstanding–because of a fundamental disagreement about “oversight.”

Collateral damage caused in the previous Marvel movies has caused various globalist interests to call for “hero control” (my term, thank-you).

Iron Man, at one point a free market capitalist hero, is now more of a corporatist bleeding heart who believes the answer is for the Avengers to be leashed by the United Nations. Now there is a brilliant quantum leap in logic: collateral damage caused by saving the planet from despotic monsters must be curbed by putting the good guys under the direct control of an organization with a horrific track record, run exclusively by unelected bureaucrats who don’t believe in representative government and are not accountable to any people anywhere in any way.

Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,
Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Bucky (AKA the Winter Soldier), Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,

On the other side is Captain America. He doesn’t spell it out like I did, but amazingly, he senses the danger in such an arrangement, that would make the problem they’re trying to solve even worse (which is pretty much the de facto purpose of the United Nations).

Interesting analyses can be drawn from this scenario. It can be a metaphor for the whole “gun control” struggle or, more broadly, the march toward police statehood, and the belated reaction to it by Americans who prefer to be free men, partly represented in the Trumpening. Again, it’s amazing how accurately Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent their respective sides, considering Hollywood’s blatant myopic axe-grinding in every other movie touching on the subject.

Marvel’s done a great job with characterization and humor in their movies, and that continues here, even though this might be their most somber one yet. Suddenly there is a whole subplot regarding Stark’s parents which affects his frame of mind in this movie. Robert Downey Jr. pulls it off with his usual panache.

...And, in this corner...the Invincible Shellhead, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision...
…And, in this corner…the Invincible Iron Man, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision, and War Machine.

There’s a lot of character tweaking I found annoying, as a one-time comic afficionado. Of course, I quit reading comics as they became 100% SJW converged, so a lot has probably changed since then. Black Widow is about 20X more badass than in the comics I read, but she has been that way in all the movies, because vagina. It was cool to see Black Panther on the big screen, but he punches way above his weight here, too. But the most annoying is Spiderman.

Apparently the webslinger is getting yet another reboot. This time Peter Parker has a younger, attractive Aunt May, and is given his costume by Tony Stark who, somehow, has discovered his secret identity without ever having met him. Normally Spiderman would be the heavy hitter of all the heroes in this story (when the character was introduced by Stan Lee originally, only Thor, the Thing and the Hulk were stronger), but he is reduced mostly to comedy relief. The way he was brought in, and dismissed, makes him seem like just an afterthought in the script. Too bad, because the actor played him better than any other has, IMO.

spidermanshield
…With special guest cameo by Spiderman 3.1! Or is it Spiderman XP? Spiderman Vista?

Physical prowess is treated inconsistently in every superhero adaptation for big and small screen. Of course part of this is necessary to conform to the feminist aspect of The Narrative. Much of it is no doubt contrived to make scenes more dramatic. Then there is the star clout of Downey Jr., who frankly got more attention in this film than the title character did. Spiderman and Captain America are not played by actors worshipped to the degree he is; therefore the characters must be depicted as inferior to his, one way or the other.

In any case, most moviegoers don’t know much about the source material anyway, so this should be a fun diversion for a couple hours.