Bitch Slap

When the only thing your movie has going for it is cast members from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, you have a problem.

Bitch Slap should have been great and instead it fails miserably. It gets bogged down in places, misses the point in others, and ultimately fails in it's homage to the genre that spawned it.

The plot jumps back and forth in time, the present filmed in a real desert somewhere, and the past filmed in front of a green screen. Green screen can be pretty smooth. In this movie however, it appears as though most of action takes place in front of a Geocities website and nobody bothered to match the lighting.

The story starts out with three absurdly hot women, Hel (Erin Cummings) is the ring leader, Trixie (Julia Voth) is the wide-eyed innocent and Camero (America Olivo) is the tough talking lesbian ass kicker who enjoys assaulting men in the goodies. Seriously, it’s like how she shakes hands: crushing or pinching or clamping some guy’s wedding tackle. It’s absurd and a little disconcerting.

Just as disconcerting is how the three are fetishized at every possibly opportunity. The first time it works as a joke, but only the first time. It might as well just have text "Hot Girls Are Really Hot" flashing on the screen every five minutes for the rest of the movie. Another sin this movie commits is making sex scenes tedious and boring. If I see two you women engaging in salacious acts, and I start looking at my watch, you have somehow failed as a director.

It's like somebody thought if they just point a camera at a series of things, they suddenly become a movie. This lack of understanding ruins almost the whole movie. This film is a series of excuses for amazingly crude references to female anatomy (chutney tube, grabber, gash, cooterlicious, tuna city, etc.) and to get the three female leads wet, in several senses.

They’re trying to find some diamonds, and some nanomachines. Yes Nanomachines rear their ugly, microscopic heads once again. Turns out Hel is a spy, handled by super-spy Pheonix (Kevin Sorbo!) who wants to bring down Gauge (Michael Hurst)  who looks too much like Sean Pertwee and Alan Tyduk had a kid to be threatening.

In fact, most everything seems it's there to distract you from the bad parts of this film. There are cat fights, water fights, nudity, bright light shining out of a lady’s lady parts (no, really) a scarred and mohawked crust punk with Turret’s Syndrome plus a low-rent knock off of Gogo Yubari from Kill-Bill.

There’s gore and violence and boobs and such, but what’s the point? Bitch Slap is an incoherent mess, like a lot of the films that inspired it. The last insult is quotes from ancient history sprinkled here and there, in the futile hope of adding some gravitas.

This movie demands to be seen with friends and drinks, really that's the only way to take it. I regret seeing it sober and by myself, and probably should have watched Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! instead. So should you.

Give ‘Em Hell, Malone

There are bad movies that are hard to watch, and then there are movies that when they were started, the people putting them together obviously said, "Hell, it ain't Shakespeare. We might as well enjoy ourselves."

Give 'Em Hell, Malone falls strictly in the latter category. It knows it's not going to set any records or get any awards, but I'll be damned if this isn't a fun and funny movie.

Thomas Jane, a Baltimore-born actor (CHARM CITY, REPRESENT!), plays the titular Malone, channeling his best Humphry Bogart. In the first 10 minutes of the film, while narrating about ways to die, Malone wades through a bloodbath in which 15 people die, most of whom he shoots with a big nasty Mateba revolver. While the overall plot is quite convoluted,  it's well aware of how silly it is. There a case, and being a pure MacGuffin, supposedly contains the meaning of love. Said case falls into the possession of Malone, drawing the attention of a local mob boss looking to move into legitamte business...by sending out his top enforcers to brutalize, vandalize, and oh yes-terrorize the case into his sweaty hands. Ving Rames, who chews the scenery like its made of salt-water taffy, plays the intimidating Boulder, one of the fore-mentioned enforcers.

Other supporting characters have equally memorable names like Eddie The Cheese (Tom Olson) and Matchstick (Doug Hutchison).  The script, penned by writer-director Russel Mulcahy (making what may very well be his best film since Highlander), has fantastic lines in it, like "So unless you some some answers in that overwrought hairdo, I suggest you get the hell out of my life." It's here where Jane and Rhames both shine, delivering super-gritty, ultra-cool nonsense as easy as they'd order a pepperoni pizza.

Frank Miller, take note: before you make another cinematic war crime, this movie is how it should be done.

Everything film-noir convention is here: The Femme Fatale (Elsa Pataky), The Asian Assassin (Chris Yen), The wannabe-Sinatra Lounge Singer (French Stuart), and the Neglected Mom, who Malone only goes to see at her nursing home when he needs stitches or bullets removed (Eileen Ryan ).

What's really great about this movie, aside from its death grip on film noir cliches and the stellar writing, is that these characters just sort of accept that they're the only people still living in the late 1940's, and just roll with it. They only begrudgingly acknowledge the modern age when they have to use cell phones. It's kinda' like watching the world'ss coolest LARP.

While the ending throws a curveball that I won't spoil, it surprisingly works, and more importantly-had heart, which is often lacking in a lot of movies of this sort. So if you're looking for an action-pact merging of Sam Spade and Sam Pekinpah-style violence, you could do much worse than Give 'Em Hell Malone. A great cavalcade could be had if you paired with another tongue-in-cheek spin on film noir, like the classic Johnny Dangerously .

Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis

The title alone should clue you in. This movie knows exactly what it is, and has no shame about it.

It all starts with an outbreak of the Zombie plague in Africa, and cockroach from there makes its merry way to Thailand,  finally biting a Caucasian business man. We take a break from these shenanigans to look in on some totally different shenanigans involving kidnapping, where several thugs take a page out of the Warner Bros. cartoon playbook to nab some rich guy's daughter who, as it turns out, is quite the kicker of ass herself.

Said rich guy-in turn-hires the local warrior mercenary ninja, Master Thep (Suthep Po-ngam), to retrieve his daughter. He, being a master of management as well as the way of the ninja, delegates the task to our hero, Khun Krabii (Supakorn Kitsuwon). Khun, using the secret arts of ninja blacksmiths, hammers a wok into some armor and gets on with it.

Meanwhile, the Caucasian Zombie is spreading the plague.

Krabii goes to the local dance club...because, oh who the hell cares? Like every dance club in movies, it's way cooler than any dance club you can ever hope go to in real life.

Meanwhile, the Caucasian Zombie continues to spread the plague.

The movie goes on like this, with the characters cracking more jokes than the audience can. Then the outbreak hits the dance club and it gets exponential, following the accepted statistical paradigms of a zombie invasion. The Thai military shows up, isolates the outbreak to the condominium/dance club, and then promptly gets eaten faster than a Krispy Kreme doughnut at a Weight Watchers convention.

Master Thep hears of this nonsense and gets into his zombie fighting gear, which includes a battery-powered laser sword (no seriously, it's powered by D Batteries!), hauling master ninja ass to the scene.

What's completely great about this movie is that, despite the heavy doses of gore and violence, it has a very light tone.  It pokes fun at everyone and everything: Zombie movies, the Thai government, Gangsters, Kung-fu movies, Transsexuals (Hey, it's Thailand), and even those terrible Asian pop-songs they always seem to play at Pho restaurants.

This alone would make the movie worthy of a Cavalcade,  but the silly special effects and cartoonish characters send it right over the top into the rarified category of Wild Zero and Godzilla: Final Wars. Combine this with another Cavalcade favorite, Bio Zombie, and you recipe for a great Asian Zombie night.

Razor Blade Smile

This movie starts out with a flashback-where we know it's the past because it's in black and white-in which a young woman shoots a guy (who shot another guy), then he bites her and turns her into a vampire. Yep, that pretty much sums up the movie.

Wait, you want more?

Ok, then toss in a totally sweet 80's music video opening, absurd psychedelic backgrounds and all. Enter our main character, Lilith Silver, played with quivering lipped over-acting by Eileen Daly. Seriously, her lower lip trembles at every vowel. Anyhow, Lilith divides her time between hanging out at the Goth Club where they play Bauhaus, and picking up contracts in her latex kill-suit and thigh high boots.

LILITH: I bet you think you know all about vampires. Believe me, you know fuck-all.

There's a plot in here... somewhere. I want to tell you more. I really do. It involves some Illuminati rings. . . and some sex scenes. The sex scenes at least don't feel like some of the directors friends from the club showed up to be paid in pizza and beer. They're actually a whole other kind of depressing.

Lilith is bisexual so there's two of them. One depressing and sad sex scene with a pallid, not-quite-at-the-gym-enough type of guy that she adores, and the other with a pretty girl who she just kills.

This whole movie is filmed like the music video for the Smith's The Boy With The Thorn in His Side. From the weird angles that someone thought were avaunt guard, to the crappy lighting that supposed to be authentic and edgy, the movie wants so badly to be shot by Tony Scott. And all the while, Lilith narrates the entire thing with an overwrought tone that screams "nobody ever liked me in high school."

Tie all this together with a half-assed murder mystery, in which the only real mystery is why Lilith hasn't yet been arrested, what with the trail of bodies she leaves behind-and you have a formula for c-grade-movie awesome.

With amazingly bad writing, sub-par British acting, and terribly filtered day-for-night shooting, what's not to love? Follow this up with the under appreciated John Landis movie Innocent Blood, and you have a recipe for a hell of a Cavalcade.

Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

"And Shepherds we shall be For thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand. Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti."

In the two thousandth and second year of our Lord, an object most holy was passed to my unworthy hands. The prophet that bequeathed said relic bade me to "watch this...and you will understand." Once I returned to my homeland, I placed the object delicately into the appropriate medium for it to communicate with me The Word.

Thus is how I became acquainted with The Saints. And it was good.

To say director Troy Duffy's freshman effort told the tale of two brothers who feel chosen by God to mete out punishment to the underworld and follows their bloody campaign would do it quite the disservice. It doesn't convey the anarchic joy of its gleeful ripping off of homage to every other action movie ever made. That description also doesn't even begin to touch on the wild style with which it was made, with it's non-linear storytelling, play with camera speeds and tempo, and fantastic use of underground music. Granted the plot didn't make any sense whatsoever, there was nary an original character to be found, and the dialog frequently delved into screaming out fuck and shit in lieu whenever it got lost...which was often. But the movie was fun. And well crafted for such a low budget production. As such, it has become a staple in many a DVD collection, so much so that it's my traditional St. Patrick's Day movie.

Fast Forward ten years and past a production so troubled that they ended up making a movie about it, and you finally get to see a sequel to the underground cult hit that proved that Billy Connolly is an absolute badass. How is it? The answer is... I'm not quite sure.

The problem stems from the core fact that there's enough picture here for two full movies, something that a good editor should have taken and carved out a tighter picture from.  At 118 minutes, the movie is easily 20 minutes longer than it should have been, with its pencil thin story of vengeance. Starting out with a priest being murdered "saints-style" in an effort to bring the dynamic duo out of their hiding, it meanders down a path that takes the Batman origin story and rectally inserts it into Godfather II. What's left is hauled out on the screen at a slow enough pace that the audience is given the time to do one thing they should never do in a movie like this: Think about the logic of the situation.

Where the original film deftly veered back and forth between the comedy and violence, there are large segments of this film where it devolves into a slapstick comedy picture with sharp turns to melodrama that are just jarring. It doesn't help that a majority of the set pieces are taken from the original and given only the slightest twists so they aren't exact copies of the first picture.

But...there's still a lot of charm here, and when it finally gets rolling, the action proves to be every bit as exciting as the first flick. Besides, Julie Benz's routine with a six-shooter and a cowboy outfit was enough to send one of the other Cavalcade writers into near-convulsions of glee when he witnessed it, almost quivering right out of his seat in ecstatic dirty thoughts. Something that was both entertaining and frightening to behold, I assure you.

Spirit, The

I'm not really sure how this movie even got made. In only his second film, Frank Miller fell into self-referential parody; exaggerating too much here and doing too little there. And by "there" I mean the characters in the film are so two-dimensional that it makes a Dennis Rodman film seem like Shakespeare.

The worst part of all of this is that you know this movie was going to be bad around seven minutes into it. When a fight between the The Spirit and his nemesis, the Octopus-played with the standard intensity of Samuel L. Jackson-goes on far too long, and then the Dad from The Wonder Years shows up to tell the Spirit he's a loose cannon, and were he on the force he would be off the case.

Unfortunately he's not on the force, and the explanation as to why comes far too late in a movie. Turns out the whole plot is like that, dividing between dull gratuitous action sequences, and exposition that actually does not explain anything. The Spirit was made invincible by the Octopus, for no damned reason, and now the Octopus views the The Spirit as a threat since, well, he's the only person on the planet with the same powers. So they actually can't hurt each other, but they can duel back and fourth for far too much of my time. The Octopus is also something of a mad scientist who makes clones, giving the Spirit the opportunity to kill the same man over and over again. He's also after the blood of Hercules, which will make him even more invincible, which like the rest of the film, comes across as completely gratuitous.

Peppered throughout this anti-plot is Miller obsessively displaying hot chicks in satin focus. Usually, I'd be all for these sorts of shenanigans, but when someone is using pretty girls to pull the wool over my eyes, I feel very insulted. The restaurant Hooters does more or less the same thing, hoping that the hot girls will get you to ignore the fact that their food is terrible.

If The Spirit were a Hooters hamburger, it would be made of sand, barbecue sauce, and finger nail clippings; brought to you on a plate by a naked Megan Fox.

The culmination of this movie's absurdity has Jackson randomly appearing in a Nazi uniform for no discernible reason.

Then he melts a kitten.

It turns into a pile of fur and eyeballs.

After that, he apparently has an assassin (Paz Vega ) try to cut the Spirit into tiny pieces, so he can't regenerate. Somehow the hero  convinces her not to for reasons I can't recall, because by that point some adolescent girls in my row were texting and chatting about homecoming, and their conversation was far more interesting than the cinematic travesty on the screen before me.

It takes skill to take a film and make it so terrible that neither Samuel L. Jackson being his usual self, or Scarlett Johansonn just being really hot, can save it. In a way, Frank Miller is some kind of genius. The kind of genius that no one wants to hang out with or talk to.

This movie begs for a Cavalcade. Paired off with either Captain America (the original REALLY BAD one), or the T.V. Nick Fury film, this movie would promise to be a romp. Alternately, you could just make what will certainly be Frank Miller's third film, a drunk man in a Batman cowl ranting about whores.

Driven To Kill

There are a few questions that will haunt the hearts and minds of great thinkers throughout the ages:

  1. Why are we here?
  2. Are we the genetic descendants of apes, or were we puffed into existence by the sneeze of a cosmic being?
  3. What the hell happened to Steven Seagal 's career?

This is a guy who once starred with Kurt Russel and Halle Barry in Executive Decision! Granted, Kurt Russel's star isn't as bright as it once was either, and Halle Barry's hadn't started to shine just yet, but stillAbove the LawHard to KillUnder Seige, as ridiculous as these movies are, they were serious money-makers in their day, so why is he doing nothing but direct-to-DVD crap like-well-the movie we're about to watch?

We're not sure, considering the bigger mystery t0 us, after having seen the above movies, is how he ever became a star in the first place.

Being that we have recently subjected ourselves to the worst of horror and sci-fi, we've noticed a distinct lack of pure action movies. So, when the option for a brand-spankin-new Seagal epic popped into our queue, we figured "why not?"

While attending the wedding of his estranged daughter, Lanie (Laura Mennell), crime novelist Ruslan Drachev (Seagal) is drawn back into his Russian mafia past when the groom turns out to be the son of his old nemesis, Mikhail Arban (Igor Jijikine). Soon, Ruslan's in the thick of a violent quest for vengeance in this gritty action thriller, also starring Dan Payne, Mike Dopud and Holly Eglington.

Yep, sounds perfect!

  • In two minutes, we start Driven to Kill
  • We're starting the show off with a beer. Because frankly, it needs one.
  • This Direct-to-DVD epic was directed by Jeff King, and stars Steven Seagal, Zak Santiago, and Inna Korobkina.
  • Huh. Girlfriend offers a threesome for a shell game trick?
  • Seagal trying to have a semblance of a russian accent? ooookaaay.
  • psssst-His secret is he whispers a lot.
  • Call me crazy, but a big martial arts action star shouldn't have a beer gut. Though stabbing someone in the face with a glass was cool.
  • A word, Mr. Bad Guy. When a woman says you're not a "real man", bitch-slapping her only proves her point.
  • uh oooooh, dangerous tat on the fiancee. I don't care who you marry, my daughter, but their tattoos cannot be better than mine!
  • Seriously, the shot choices in this movie are just-well...bad. Why have people staring off into space when they're supposed to be speaking face-to-face?
  • And why would the fiancee get all bitter over his girl getting her grandmother's wedding ring as an heirloom?
  • Err. As a gift. Beer good.
  • Hey Steven? If the ring is so damn precious to you, uh, why did you leave it on the desk and walk out of the room?
  • What cop leaves his badge lying around at an ACTIVE CRIME SCENE?
  • Oh noes! The Murdering bastards stole the precious ring you left lying around on a goddamn table! I am so shocked! I am!
  • This movie might have had a chance if the director knew what the hell he was doing. Trying to find the words to describe it. How do you screw up a shot of a guy walking down a street?
  • Good exchange: "What you want?" ".38" "You know Disco's dead, right?" ".38 doesn't leave brass."
  • First major action scene. Involves a beating with a pipe. Don't know why, but I expected a hell of a lot more from this movie. Fails at basic editing.
  • "Told you I wasn't a cop, bitch!" Really?
  • Wait? It's a big deal to protect the girl in the hospital...so you leave her in an open area, with no guard???
  • "Don't get shot, and stay behind me"-then he promptly pushes his sidekick out in front!
  • Well....so much for mystery about the bad guy. Dumbest. Plan. Ever.
  • Wait. It's an R-rated direct-to-DVD exploitation action movie... and no nudity at the strip club???
  • There we go!
  • A knife fight with lots of swooping sounds...and nobody actually taking a stab at anything? Good idea!
  • You sliced a major artery, CG blood spraying everywhere, and you are completely clean! Of course you are!
  • Ummm...huge gunfight right outside of a police station...and not a single cop comes to investigate? Really?
  • Again! He stabs someone in the carotid artery. He stands right in front of him as he bleeds out, and his jacket looks freshly dry cleaned!
  • *Gasp* The incredibly powerful russian mobster has a dirty cop on his payroll? Who could have predicted such a surprise?!?
  • A shootout in a hospital, with long camera shots? No, not stealing from John Woo's Hard Boiled at all.
  • God. For a movie with all of these bullets (well, shooting...no bullets) and bad explosions, I'm bored silly.
  • There are ZERO wide shots of Seagal doing any fighting. Hmm... I wonder why that is?
  • Well damn! THAT almost made the whole movie worthwhile! He stabbed him in the eye with a pistol, and THEN shot him!
  • "Solicitation" to commit murder? I could have sworn it's called "Conspiracy".
  • This movie recycles shots A LOT. The entire epilogue is the prologue played back with the image flipped.
  • Guh…what a cheap movie. Glad it’s over. Wasn’t even bad enough to be fun.