Category Archives: Reviews

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Razorfist Rants on a 1980s Action Classic

We’ve only recently discovered Razorfist AKA the Rageaholic. Not only are his epic rants impressive simply for lung capacity and linguistic aplomb, but a whole lot of his observations are savvy, too.

I can’t believe this, but there is no review of Cobra posted here or at the Two-Fisted Blog. How can this be? I was sure Hank had posted one years ago…

Well, that just means we have to do one, and soon. Stay tuned.

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An Cosantoir reviews Hell & Gone

An Cosantoir is the official magazine of Ireland’s Defense Forces. Sgt. Wayne Fitzgelarld, the editor, has recently reviewed Hell & Gone.

From his review:

Henry goes for all action with his ‘Dirty Dozen’ like squad sent on a daring mission in Sudan, with a final battle that reminded me of Black Hawk Down.

The ending of the book is explosive; you are in the thick of it.

Nice to find out that folks across the pond appreciate it, too. My thanks to Wayne for taking the time and effort to share his thoughts. His complete review is available in An Cosantoir, or on Hell & Gone‘s Amazon page.

And speaking of that, Hell & Gone has been picking up some reviews lately. In fact, it has received more reviews in the last couple months since the BookBub promotion than in all the preceding years. Wish I had done this much earlier…but then, I did almost everything wrong with my first few books, and squandered or missed out on numerous opportunities out of my marketing ignorance.

Don’t forget: the first two Retreads novels are available as Audible downloads as well as E-Books and paperbacks. If you’re like me, then listening to a book is the best way to “read” these days, with our busy schedules and drive time. Hell & Gone is narrated by David H. Lawrence XVII, and Tier Zero is narrated by Johnny C. Hayes. Both voice actors have their own style of delivery, and the contrast is interesting. I’m toying with the idea of recording the third book in the series, False Flag, myself. Don’t know if/when I’ll get around to that, or if it’s a good idea. We’ll see.

Anyway, if you can’t spare the time to read the first two normally, buy the Audible versions and let us entertain you while you work, drive, or whatever.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Boomtown by Gilbert Morris – A Review

I originally read this as a mass-market paperback titled Vigilante. I was just beginning to appreciate westerns at the time. I’m so glad to have found this. I subsequently bought and read the entire Reno series. Most were pretty good but I’m confident this is Morris’ pinnacle in fiction.

Jim Reno is a Confederate veteran, a reformed alcoholic and some-time “gunslick.” He’s also, like so many of us, spiritually lost…unsure how to fill the God-shaped hole in his soul. This is Christian fiction, but not preachy (or wimpy). There is one sermon in the yarn, which lasts for a paragraph of roughly three sentences. Christian characters surround Reno but, while it is no secret what the author believes, he doesn’t sermonize. At his core, Jim Reno is a “good person” who has fallen short of exemplary behavior in his life, and who wants to get right with God, but spends a good portion of this series alternating between running from his Creator and surrendering to Him. Something I can relate to. I haven’t read tons of Christian fiction, but I’ve read enough to be sick of the formulaic conversion of the main character at the end…reciting the sinner’s confession, standing ovation, blah blah blah.

One “bad person” does get saved in this novel, but Morris pulls it off deftly. I was so engrossed in the story I didn’t see it coming.

Morris likes to pepper his tales with romance, too. I do fault him for the way he shuffles love interests in and out of Reno’s life. Between the first and second books in the series, for instance, his happily-ever-after soulmate disappears with no explanation whatsoever, never to be mentioned again. In this one, the love interest Morris spent the entire previous novel priming for Reno is unceremoniously kicked to the curb in lieu of a brand new one.

The plot should be familiar to those who’ve read in the genre, or even watched western movies. A frontier town is at the mercy of lawless, greedy cattle barons and their hired guns. Decent folk band together in an attempt to protect themselves and the innocent, and turn to Jim Reno who has that rare (in reality) combination of a heart of gold and talent for violence. Reno, of course, doesn’t want to get involved, for all the I’m-trying-to-escape-my-violent-past reasons.

Whatever faults I could list here (and believe me: I could nit-pick ANYTHING if I put my mind to it), Boomtown is a great read. It is hard to put down. The bad guys will curl your lip, you will grieve for the victims, cheer for the good guys, and close the back cover with a satisfaction only the great books can give you.

(From the Two-Fisted Blog Archives)

“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!)

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To Retort, Or Not To Retort

…That is the question I’ve been pondering for a while with regards to dishonest, drive-by, one-star reviews at Amazon and Goodreads.

Conventional wisdom is for authors to avoid responding to negative reviews, lest you look defensive, yada yada yada. I’ve done that up until now.

But I’ve been mulling over something I read about Trump: He’s one of those successful guys who fires right back when criticised. First debate with Shrillery notwithstanding (because he did actually come off as defensive), this has worked pretty well for him.

I’ve received negative reviews on all my novels, and some of my shorter books as well. But one of them from about a year ago stands out as the wthoughtcoporst. It’s intentionally insulting, first of all–no doubt a ploy to get an emotional rise out of me (all the more reason for me to not take the bait, I suppose, but c’est le guerre). And it’s also intentionally misleading, by somebody who evidently didn’t read the book. It’s got all the fingerprints of an SJW troll attempting to protect unwashed brains around the world from a counter-narrative.

The point-and-shriek review, and my response are here.

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The Man in the High Castle

Alternate history is a genre full of potential. Unfortunately, the concepts are usually more interesting than their execution in film or fiction.

In a world…

…Where the Axis Powers won WWII, a resistance movement sparks to life in 1962.

Now that you’re hooked with that brilliant high-concept pitch, some expository details:

  • America lost the Second World War in 1952.
  • Nazi Germany got The Bomb first, evidently, and used it to force surrender.
  • Hitler is still in power, but his health is failing.
  • Goering and Goebels (maybe Himmler, too) are jockeying into position to succeed Adolf.
  • The Eastern US is a puppet German state; the western US is occupied by Imperial Japan.
  • In the middle is “neutral territory.”
  • The reason for that neutrality, how it is maintained, and what it means exactly, is not completely clear as of Episode 3.

I see no reason to continue watching after the third episode. In fact, I pretty much knew all I needed to know 15 minutes into Episode 1. Well, probably upon reading the Amazon Prime blurb. But I’m always hoping to be surprised (and am, once in a while), so I clicked on “play.” I kept it playing for three episodes because I had paperwork to do and couldn’t find much that looked better.

There’s really nothing new here. Every part of the story so far, subtly or not-so-subtly, faithfully follows the cultural Marxist playbook. Listing quibbles would be a tedious task. Let’s cut to the Groundbreaking Plot Device:

Wanna know what motivates the resistance movement against the JapaNazis? You might suppose it would have something to do with the twofold reign of terror and a yearning for the freedom that was lost.

You’d be wrong.

See, this “Man in the High Castle” is making propaganda films. (No narcissism in Hollywood. Nope, not one smidgeon of evidence of self-importance.) These films are smuggled through underground networks, and depict an “alternate” outcome of the war, where the Good Guys won. (You know, the one we in this reality believe in.)

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Without these films, Americans are unable to imagine a different course of history from the one they’ve traveled. But now, thanks to being spoon-fed what could have happened differently, it’s time to throw off the shackles of their Axis oppressors!

By watching movies.

Well, there is one act of defiance you might expect from a resistance movement…an extremely incompetent one doomed to fail, that is: an ambush of two quislings in a limousine. Despite complete surprise and a crossfire with automatic weapons (Thompsons, I think, though I wasn’t watching closely) one SS officer armed with a Luger emerges from the kill zone unscathed and takes out all 4-5 ambushers.

(Maybe the scene betrays the director’s closet belief in Aryan Supremacy?)

kinopoisk.ruIt’s a mystery how such silly storytelling can be delivered with a straight face. Perhaps the artistic geniuses behind this series assume an alternate history movie (again, not one iota of painfully obvious self-aggrandizement, here) is revolutionary because they don’t know what life is like outside their leftist echo chamber. In Hollywood (the capitol of Social Justice Propaganda) anyone who dares challenge The Narrative is apprehended by the Thought Police and summarily character assassinated…which means this plot is an example of one of the three Laws of the SJWs: they always project.

In fact, peel away some of the semantic/visual disguises, and this series paints a dystopian portrait of the fundamental transformation to be wrought on America within a few years (but already underway in the Obamanation).

You know–aside from the quibble that the USA they aspire to will not enjoy any prosperity similar to the actual America of 1962.

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Amerigeddon–A Review

There’s a scene in the movie The Right Stuff which takes place during the first few months of “the Space Race” after Sputnik was launched. An American muses, “Why do our rockets always blow up on the launch pad?” or something to that effect. I would have had the same question, seeing as how America was still an industrial giant and the world leader in technology. How could Russian rocket scientists be enjoying more success than ours, especially in a country like the USSR where people capable of creative thinking are among those targeted and routinely murdered by the state?

I’ll bet I have the same kind of frustration those late ’50s rocket scientists had. How is it that smart, hardworking, independent thinkers are consistently outperformed at cinematic storytelling by the left-wing hive mind? Why do our movies always suffer poor story telling, cheesy dialog and generally inept suspension of disbelief?

The first couple minutes of Amerigeddon are promising. But then the primary villain was introduced and my cringing began. But I didn’t cringe because of how eeee-veel the bad guys are. The ensuing conversation is corny enough to embarrass a B-Movie Nazi, and it doesn’t get better from there.

Unfortunately, some of the characters are soldiers in the 101st Division. I say unfortunately because the film makers evidently did not bother to recruit a technical advisor with some basic military knowledge. I suppose they get things wrong no worse than most movies and TV shows with alleged military elements, but this is a big taboo for me. I wouldn’t try to shoot a film about doctors or stock brokers without consulting one or more. With all the veterans out here, there’s no excuse for getting the basics so utterly jacked-up.

The plot is fairly weak, though I have seen worse. The hero confronts a Congressional committee about our state of helplessness in the case of an ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP). One wonders what he hoped to accomplish, other than get himself placed on a Domestic Terrorist (“red”) List. The politicians ignore the warning and make veiled threats against the hero.

The EMP occurs once all the exposition is established. A few of the characters know it’s an EMP from the moment the lights go out. Meanwhile, the “soldier” character realizes that the US Army has been subsumed by the UN, and deserts. The rest of the movie depicts a small conglomeration of family and friends retreating to the safety of the rich prepper hero’s backwoods retreat; then fighting off an attack by UN troops in a slipshod, lackluster climactic sequence.

Filming the climactic scenes was probably more exciting than watching them is.

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Even though the producer is a millionaire, and millions probably went into making this film, it comes off as very low-budget. With the right choices, that wouldn’t have been as obvious. But no budget is big enough to compensate for what coulda’/shoulda’ been straightened out in the screenwriting stage.

I wanted this movie to be good. It is not.

The only people who will cut this movie some slack are those like me who appreciate what the film makers were trying to do. Watching it is not going to change anyone’s mind, or nudge fence-sitters into an epiphany…because the glaring problems result in a total package which doesn’t come off as believable.

The culture war is not a fair fight. The left has been sneaking their messages into entertainment for a long, long time. They could afford to be subtle because they had so much time to program the minds of the masses, and almost nobody called them out for it (before the Internet came along, anyway). Most people alive today have had The Narrative spoon-fed to them for all their lives. We can’t boil frogs the way they have, for a number of reasons.

And frankly, we are running out of time. We haven’t yet felt the bite of efforts like “Net Neutrality,” just as the “greatest generation” didn’t suffer the full consequences of the New Deal until it could be blamed on convenient scapegoats (like the free market itself), and like the Great Recession and “housing bubble” didn’t manifest until their architects were retired and could safely blame their successors. And like the catastrophic effects of Obamacare won’t be fully felt until Hussein is duly whitewashed, canonized, and (with the media’s willing assistance) can blame his political rivals. But even beyond “Net Neutrality,” Hillary has hinted at her intent to shut down the alternative media. A clear violation of the law she will swear to uphold and defend, but who is going to hold her accountable to her oath–the FBI?  The DOJ? The Supreme Court? Congress? You?

Yeah, just like Obama has been held accountable.

Ahem. So with time running out, we can’t plant little seeds like the left did over the course of generations. Besides, they were virtually unopposed while we have opposition everywhere. When it comes to the arts, the left has an overwhelming numerical advantage. When it comes to film, TV, video games and other expensive arts, they have every conceivable advantage (other than their Narrative itself, which is built with and on lies, and routinely contradicts itself).

So what can we do?

I’ve drifted too far off-topic already. This movie will not win hearts and minds.

Below is a link to some speculative SHTF tales that are much better (though the plausibility of the Red Dawn remake is questionable).

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Chasing Tyson

Mike Tyson’s story is of a journey from the bottom to the top, and back to the bottom. If you saw one of his later fights–like against Lennox Lewis–you would assume him to be overrated, if not a joke. If you had seen him in action on his way to becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history, you would realize how far he fell.

HolyfieldbeltsIn the days after Tyson’s one-round knockout of Carl “The Truth” Williams, many a casual sports consumer opined that nobody in the game could beat him. I pointed to a smart, skilled light-heavyweight named Evander Holyfield and told anybody who would listen, “If anybody could do it, he could.”

Unknown to most of us, or at least under-appreciated, Tyson’s personal life was a hot mess at the time and his self-destruction was already underway. In his first fight with Frank Bruno, careful observers noted the cracks appearing in his armor. He was no longer a well-oiled wrecking machine. More like a powerful-but-lazy brawler.

Tyson’s mentor/trainer/father figure, Cus D’Amato, had died. For a while his fighting discipline was maintained by trainer Kevin Rooney, but Tyson fired Rooney and replaced him with a posse of sycophants and Yes Men. His skills diminished and his motivation died. He was ripe for demolition when he arrived in Tokyo for his fateful match against a journeyman heavyweight motivated to give the performance of a lifetime.

It’s tragic that once all that talent was stripped off Tyson (by himself, mostly) there was just an ugly little person underneath. But honestly, that is the case with most celebrities. Our culture tends to worship people with Tier One talent, and/or beauty. But those things are gifts, not some outward manifestation of inner goodness.

Having followed Evander Holyfield from before he moved up to Heavyweight, I recognized him for an exceptional warrior. Even as a light-heavy, he never had the power to match Tyson (very few in history have ever had a punch like Iron Mike did), but he was smart, disciplined, had knockout power…plus miles and miles of heart.

The documentary portrays Holyfield as a disrespected hard luck fighter who struggled to emerge from under Tyson’s shadow. It’s an interesting perspective, new to me, because I recognized Evander’s potential from way back (serious fight fans had watched him since the Olympics).

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Holyfield chased a title match against Tyson from when Iron Mike truly was “the baddest man on the planet.” It’s like a tragicomedy how, every time he got close to his goal, fate stepped in to deny him, time and time again.

After a long, winding path to get there, Holyfield finally got his shot. The Tyson he fought was not the fearsome juggernaut of the past, but neither was he the one-diminsional target who faced Lewis and Douglas.

Evander beat him soundly.

Then, in the infamous rematch, Tyson manifested his inner turmoil for the world to see in all its vile ugliness. Instead of channeling his anger into his fists, as Cus D’Amato had taught him, he took the coward’s way out in an unprecedented foul that ended the fight (he tried to bite Holyfield’s ear off).

Because the film maker slanted the history into such a hard luck narrative, I Tysonwildroundhousedisagree with many assessments offered, and am disappointed that many facts are missing or touched on so briefly as to seem irrelevant.

To me, the tragic, hard luck aspect of the whole story is that, because of their performance during the downhill slides of their respective careers, history won’t remember what world-class fighters both of these men once were.

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My All-American

I’ve been at this point before–where I’m convinced the entertainment industry is incapable of producing any movie other than formulaic pap, recycled vehicles from decades past, chick-flicks (overt or disguised) or “social justice” agitprop. Then I stumble across something like My All-American, and am amazed that something worth watching can still slip through the cracks.

There are only so many plot variations to be utilized in a jock story, so, granted: one can argue that this film should be included in the “formulaic pap” comment I made above. In fact, you might note many similarities between this movie and Rudy and The Express (or, going back farther, to Brian’s Song, or, changing sports, The Natural). Nevertheless, this biopic should be celebrated by red pill masculists everywhere–especially those raising a son, yearning for something worth watching together.

My All-American tells the story of Freddy Steinmark, who was born to play football. Gifted with natural athletic ability, his fatMyAllAmerican1her, while working two jobs to support the family, pushed Freddy to relentlessly expand on his talent with rigorous conditioning. His mother (a stay-at-home mom, it seems) was on-board with her son’s disciplined upbringing, complimenting her husband’s stern agenda with loving encouragement.

That family dynamic may not have been so unusual in the stories of yesteryear, but it is downright alien in the reality of America today.

Not only is the home life of Steinmark idiosyncratic in our present cultural context, but Freddy himself was exceptional, in any time and place. He is the model of what a young man should be–and what most parents would once have aspired to raise. To list his positive qualities would make this post too long, but I’ll list three that would seem to be diametrically opposed in any other film coming out of Homowood, Commiefornia. He is:

  • Forthright
  • Humble
  • Thoroughly masculine

Ah, crap, I have to list a couple more. The Freddy Steinmark of this film shows the guts, determination and toughness that once exemplified the average American male. Considered too small for most college football programs to take him seriously, there is no “quit” in him, and he fights an uphill battle toward a full-ride scholarship with the Texas Longhorns. I should mention here that other players on the team, and the coach, are developed just enough to make me want to read the book for more details. Despite Steinmark being a terror at defensive back, the team was a team, not a one-man-show. I’m thankful for the authenticy of the film’s depiction of how a football team works (or can work, anyway) from the inside.MyAllAmerican

One very interesting subplot depicts the starting quarterback–a phenomenal player with a cannon arm–losing his position to a fourth-stringer with better instincts for reading opposing defenses, and who more readily adapts to the coach’s new “triple option” offensive scheme.

Though he is a devout Catholic, Steinmark’s portrayal (by Finn Wittrock) is a case study in Christian integrity–not the wussified churchianity so en vogue on both sides of the pulpit in pretty much every denomination today. Even the leading lady’s (Sarah Bolger) portrayal is a departure from the obligatory grrrrl power! cliche`s rammed down our collective throats everywhere else. The only time she gets “assertive” with boyfriend Freddy, it is due to genuine concern over his well-being. (Director Angelo Pizzo, however, does overdo it trying to milk our emotions in a few smarmy scenes no doubt included to appeal to the females in the audience.)

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I’m not sure how faithful the movie is to the true story of Freddy Steinmark, though it does ring true. In any case, you won’t find many movies made since the early 1960s or so which present unabashed manhood in such a positive light.