As the first in a bunch of films about one of the most popular heroes in Japanese cinema, The Tale of Zatoichi is a compelling meditation on vulnerability and nobility. This 1962 picture isn’t exactly a sword-swinging, blood-spurting festival of samurai clichés. Rather, it’s a meditative and humanistic film about a code of ethics and […]Read more "The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)"
Based on the 1947 novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place is a chilling motion picture that explores the darkest of places within a man. That man is played by Humphrey Bogart in one of his finest roles as a character doomed by his own nature. And Nicholas Ray […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: In a Lonely Place (1950)"
A generally terrible comedy, Jeremy Garelick’s The Wedding Ringer makes attempts at raunchiness and sentiment but lands nowhere near the mark. It’s an ungainly beast, a picture that is at turns tedious and revolting to watch. While some of the performers are game, the film mostly falters because of the misguided, mistimed misfire of a […]Read more "The Wedding Ringer (2015)"
As the 1976 sequel to Jimmy Wang Yu’s 1971 picture One Armed Boxer, Master of the Flying Guillotine is a wild and crazy kung-fu movie from Taiwan. It picks up the tale of Tien Lung, the one-armed student from the Ching Te school, and includes a blind villain with a spectacular weapon. There’s also a […]Read more "Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976)"
Those looking for wall-to-wall martial arts will find it in Jimmy Wang Yu’s 1971 film One Armed Boxer. Released in the United States as The Chinese Professionals in 1972, this is sturdy Hong Kong pulp with some neatly choreographed martial arts sequences. It has a senseless side and a violent side, which makes it slip […]Read more "One Armed Boxer (1971)"
A year after Robert Clouse directed Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, he turned his attention the one and only Jim Kelly for the 1974 picture Black Belt Jones. Kelly had been in Enter the Dragon with Lee and the filmmaker picked up on his charisma, but it doesn’t exactly translate well to his own […]Read more "Black Belt Jones (1974)"
Lo Wei’s The Big Boss is often considered the first major film for the legendary Bruce Lee. Also known as Fists of Fury, this 1971 Hong Kong martial arts flick certainly does its part to showcase Lee and features plenty of ass-kicking action. Alas, much of the conversation about The Big Boss generally has to […]Read more "The Big Boss (1971)"
Directed by Arthur Lubin from a story by Jay Dratler, Impact is kind of a middling film noir. There are plenty of interesting elements, but there’s also a great deal of padding and the plot is a little too telegraphed. There are many noir tropes, including the femme fatale and the false accusations, but it’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Impact (1949)"
Directed by John Boorman and based on the novel of the same name by James Dickey, Deliverance is another one of those essential 1970s films. Often considered among the first of the survival pictures, this 1972 movie can be interpreted a number of different ways but seems to carry very sure themes about civilization, survival […]Read more "Deliverance (1972)"
Freedom dies an awful lot in the films of the 1970s. With the 1960s in the rearview mirror, it’s unsurprising to find a great deal of crime and punishment in the cinematic decade that followed. Vanishing Point is yet another example, like Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Straw Dogs and even Death Wish, of the changing winds.Read more "Vanishing Point (1971)"
A wild and crazy chase picture, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry embodies the muscle car era of the 1960s and the open road debauchery of the 1970s. Directed by John Hough, this 1974 flick is a cult classic of the drive-in movie set and for good reason. It has a loose, boozy feel throughout its 93 […]Read more "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)"
William Friedkin’s crime thriller The French Connection is a crackerjack of a movie. It’s the first R-rated flick to win the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s one of the finest films in the genre. Mostly noted for its critical and downright dazzling chase sequence, this outing is actually a layered exercise in moving a […]Read more "The French Connection (1971)"
Re-released as Satan in Skirts, the 1944 picture Guest in the House has some distinctive noir traits but feels mostly like a parlour melodrama with elements of a psychological thriller. Lewis Milestone was the initial director, but he was replaced by John Brahm after a bout of appendicitis. He is a capable director, but it’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Guest in the House (1944)"
An amusing and smart-mouthed thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is an amusing and often biting picture by Joseph Sargent. This 1974 movie is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Morton Freedgood and features a screenplay by Peter Stone. Like other crime films of the era, it paints a […]Read more "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)"
Like most exploitation films, the moral waters of Death Wish are muddy. It’s tempting to view this 1974 vigilante revenge picture as an emboldened NRA fantasy, but there’s a little more to it than that. Directed by Michael Winner, there’s certainly a case to be made for the “good guy with a gun” mentality of […]Read more "Death Wish (1974)"
The fourth entry in the Underworld series is a breezy, hard-edged action horror picture that gets in and gets out in a mere 88 minutes. Underworld: Awakening is the slightest movie in the series. It’s also lean and mean, a striking and almost Nordic example of cinematic efficiency. It perhaps stands to reason that its […]Read more "Underworld: Awakening (2012)"
It probably shouldn’t work, but Underworld: Rise of the Lycans actually manages to be an entertaining if ludicrous prequel to the Underworld series. The 2009 film is directed by Patrick Tatopolous from a screenplay by Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain. The tale deals with the events before the vampire-Lycan war and runs as […]Read more "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)"
A gritty, two-fisted film noir, Kansas City Confidential is said to have at least partially inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The 1952 flick is directed by Phil Karlson with a screenplay by George Bruce and Harry Essex. Some have charted Kansas City Confidential as the genesis of several other Confidential movies from producer Edward Small.Read more "Film Noir Friday: Kansas City Confidential (1952)"
As the second entry in the series, 2006’s Underworld: Evolution certainly marks a progression from the 2003 original. It takes the compelling backstory, with its meticulous mythology, and opens things up considerably with a more satisfying finished product. This is bloody, sexy B-movie stuff, the exact sort of motion picture required for this kind of […]Read more "Underworld: Evolution (2006)"
There’s a lot of walking and movement in Underworld, the 2003 action horror movie directed by Len Wiseman, and in a lot of ways that’s the best of what this outing brings to the table. Sure, there’s a story about vampires fighting werewolves and there’s a pretty impressive mythology backing the whole thing. But for […]Read more "Underworld (2003)"