Tag: kurt russell

MOVIE REVIEW | Escape From New York (1981)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “As dark and nihilistic as The Thing, as fun and roller coaster like as Big Trouble in Little China and just a kick ass 80s action movie all at the same time.”

 Escape 1
“Remember, once you’re inside you’re on your own.”

Pre on-demand movie streaming, pre cable television in Australia, there were three commercial TV channels, and they all played movies pretty much every night of the week.  I don’t know if they could only afford the rights to a certain number, or if it was just those certain few that stuck out to me because of my age and filmic interests as an action loving pre teen in the 80s and early 90s, but there seemed to be maybe a dozen movies that popped up constantly.  One in particular was shown several times a year, and I missed it for different reasons every single time.  But now, we do have on demand steaming, so I finally saw Escape From New York.

In the not so distant, approaching dystopian future of 1988, the crime rate in America has risen by a massive 400%.  To solve the prison over population problem, the entire island if Manhattan is walled off from the entire United States and turned into one giant prison.  Once convicted of a crime, you’re sent there to fend for yourself, never to be released.  In the vastly distant, full blown dystopian future of 1997, Air Force one is flying over Manhattan when it’s commandeered by terrorists.  Using an escape pod to eject before he can be taken, the President (Donald Pleasance) crash lands in the prison city and is taken prisoner by the Manhattan’s leader, the Duke (Isaac Hayes). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Tequila Sunrise (1988)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “At most, it raised as shrug and a yawn.”

Tequila 1
Mr. McKussic, it seems, has been engaged in his business for purely romantic reasons, whilst you have been engaged in romance for purely business reasons.

I’ve written plenty of times about the virtues of going into a movie blind.  It’s harder and harder to do with new movies, with inescapable marketing campaigns and trailers that reveal more and more of what the final product has to offer.  So now, going in blind usually means going for tiny indies, or something that’s at least a couple of decades old.  The name Tequila Sunrise was definitely familiar, and I was even kind of aware of its late 80s vintage.

What I wasn’t aware of were the treats waiting for me in the opening titles.  Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kurt Russell’s names popping up had me immediately glad that I had taken a chance on this movie.  Then seeing that it was written and directed by Robert Towne, of Chinatown and Bonnie and Clyde fame, had me legitimately excited.  Unfortunately, the opening titles is where I should have stopped if I wanted to go away liking this movie. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

China 1
“Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.”

How did John Carpenter and Kurt Russell find each other? As revered and loved as Carpenter and his filmography are now, he spent most of the 80s making B-grade flops that had to wait for VHS and cable TV to become cult favourites. Russell was a dude with action star looks and charisma that for some reason never really cracked the action movie A-list. But put these two dudes together, and you get some of the best, tongue in cheek action fun the 80s had to offer. Tongue in cheek action fun like Big Trouble in Little China.

After a long day hauling freight in his semi trailer, Jack Burton (Russell) settles in for a night of back room gambling in Little China. When his last big bet results in a big win from Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) that he can’t afford to settle, Jack insists on sticking with Wang until he can pay up. Which includes a trip to the airport where Wang Chi is collecting his fiancé after finally saving up enough money for her to come to America from China. They arrive just in time to see her kidnapped by a Chinese street gang. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Hateful Eight (2015)

Hateful 1
Well, well, well! Looks like Minnie’s Haberdashery’s about to get cosy for the next few days.

“The 8th Film by Quentin Tarantino“. That’s a pretty pretentious credit to open your movie with.  Like we should all be thankful that Tarantino has been gracious enough to bless us with eight movies.  That’s what I wanted to think, that his ego and hubris had got away on Tarantino, that his bravado had finally overtaken his talent,  But you know what, as aggravating as it is to admit, Quentin Tarantino’s skill as a writer and director aggravatingly lives up to his own bullshit.  Because the 8th Film by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight, is an amazingly unique and well executed piece of cinema.

John “the Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) rides through post Civil War America on a stage coach, trying to outrun a blizzard, with his latest bounty (Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dasiy Dermague) in cuffs.  Picking up rival bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) and new sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) along the way, agendas are flying from the get go. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)

Bastards 1
“Bing would keep guys on the roster that had no business being there.”

I watch a lot of documentaries. And usually, I choose them because I’m already interested in the subject. But I’m starting to realise something, the payoff is a lot bigger and better when I watch a documentary about something I wasn’t previously interested in. I have no interest in physics, but Particle Fever was really great. I’d never heard of the titular cult in The Source Family, but they couldn’t have been more fascinating. I’m Australian, therefore, baseball is something I’ve pretty much only ever been exposed to through American TV shows and movies. And none of those TV shows and movies have ever made me want to sit and watch a game. But I just watched The Battered Bastards of Baseball, and now I know why the game is America’s past time.

In the 30s, Bing Russell was a baseball obsessed kid who was lucky enough to live in the small town where the New York Yankees trained. He got to know the team and a lifelong obsession with the game was born. After his own brief career as a pro ball player ended thanks to a head injury, Bing packed up his young family (including son Kurt, yep, that Kurt Russell) and moved to Los Angeles to have a crack at becoming an actor. The gamble paid off, and he spent 17 years on the show Bonanza. When the show ended, Bing had a quick go at retirement, but it didn’t take. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***HALLOWEEN WEEK*** The Thing (1982)

Thing 1

“Somebody in this camp ain’t what he appears to be. Right now that may be one or two of us. By spring, it could be all of us.”

There have been plenty of successful director / actor parings over the years. People who worked together again and again, building a legacy with each movie. There was Billy Wilder and Jack Lemon, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant. All prestige film makers and prestige actors, making prestige product. But in the 80s, there was a tag team making brilliant B-pictures. The kind of action, adventures and horror that doesn’t really exist anymore. That tag team was John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. When I was a kid, their work together on Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China was on TV constantly. And I watched them, constantly. But there was another team up between these dudes that had escaped me until now, the classic horror, The Thing.

A Norwegian helicopter chases a husky across Antarctica’s desolate, snow covered surface. Taking pot shots at the dog, the chopper eventually lands when the dog runs into a camp occupied by American scientists. Ignoring the people, the Norwegian gunman gets out and continues to pursue the dog. When he mistakenly drops a grenade, his helicopter is destroyed, but he survives and keeps going after the dog, As stray bullets get closer and closer to the Americans, their commander (Donald Moffat as Garry) put s a bullet in the Norwegian’s head. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Fox Hound
“Darling, forever is a long, long time, and time has a way of changing things.”

By the 80s, Disney’s golden era of prestige animation was long, long gone.  The glory days of things like Snow White and Cinderella were already close to half a century old.  And the rebirth of prestige animation via Disney and Pixar with Toy Story was still 15 odd years away.  But Disney was still plugging away, releasing movies on the regular.  And it’s in this period that you get movies that, I’m sure are beloved by people of a particular age who saw them at the time, but are largely go forgotten.  Movies like The Fox and the Hound.

Because this is a Disney movie, things kick off with a main character dealing with the death of a parent.  In this case, that grieving character is Tod (Keith Coogan), a fox whose mother was just shot and killed by a hunter.  Taken literally under the wing of a wise old owl, Big Mama (Pearl Bailey), she arranges for the pup to be found and adopted by the kind old Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan). (more…)