On Deadly Ground: The Steven Seagal Drinking Game

On Deadly Ground: The Steven Seagal Drinking Game

A bit of a different post today, since this isn’t a review but a fun little game to play while watching any of Steven Seagal’s movies. Just a bit of a warning: following this guide to the letter will probably result in alcohol poisoning and death. You can take that to the bank…the blood bank! Your liver will be Under Siege, your hangover will be Hard to Kill, you’ll feel like there’s a Fire Down Below in your stomach and unless you are Above the Law, being in public would put you On Deadly Ground. And any rational thoughts will be Under Siege 2.
That’s enough of that. Sorry for some of them.
With that, here are the rules:

1. People’s Choice: Guess whether Steven will be sporting a pony tail for the upcoming movie. If you are wrong, take a drink.
2. If Seagal is shown wearing a ridiculous hat, take a drink.
3. If Seagal gets stabbed or shot, then shakes it off, take a drink.
4. If someone is thrown through glass, take a drink.
5. If there is a shot below the belt, take a drink.
6.If there is a subplot involving a prostitute, widow, or soon-to-be divorced wife, take a drink.
7. If a bad pun or one-liner is made, take a drink.
8. If the title of the movie is mentioned in passing, take a drink.
9. If music plays that does not fit the scene, take a drink.
10. If Steven overpowers over five men in less than a minute, finish your drink.
11. If there is an illogical wardrobe change, take a drink.
12. If Steven is shown to be wearing traditional Asian garb that he has no reason to be wearing, take a drink.
13. If you hear a bone break during a fight scene, take a drink.
14. If Steven speaks Italian or Japanese/Mandarin/Cantonese/Korean, etc., take a drink.
15. If Steven wields a katana, take a drink. If a katana is on display in the background somewhere, take half a drink.
16. If Steven commits police brutality, take a drink.
17. If Steven is shooting a scene with an exotic animal, take a drink.
18. If Steven sings or plays an instrument, take two drinks.
19. If Steven acts like a misogynist, then immediately becomes protective of the woman in any way, finish your drink.
20. If Steven can truthfully be described as “striking and boyishly handsome”, take two drinks.
Bonus for his Direct-to-DVD films: If Steven is clearly putting in a minimal amount of effort in his movements due to his poor physical condition, take half a drink (you’ll understand why it’s a half)

The Running Man (1987)

The Running Man (1987)

The Running Man is based on a dystopian novella by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King), in which a working stiff named Ben Richards becomes a contestant on The Running Man, a game show that has its players trying to survive for 30 days while the entire country looks for them. Richards is a poor man (“scrawny, pre-tubercular”, in King’s own words) who was tired of his wife having to prostitute herself in order to afford medication for their young daughter. Throughout the novel, you want Richards to survive the game, though the odds are impossibly stacked against him from the get-go. The tone of the book is full of despair and pathos, and there really is no bright side to look forward to.

Now, the film the Running Man stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards.

Do I really need to say more? Remember that “scrawny” description King gives of Richards? Yeah, that’s gone. We get Arnold. Actually, the only similarity between the novel and the film is that there is a game called The Running Man. Just about every other aspect between the two works is different. In the movie, Schwarzenegger is a police officer that was ordered to fire upon protesting civilians from a helicopter (I should mention here that the movie takes place in 2017. Coincidence? Probably). Arnold refuses the order, but is overpowered by four other men (barely). He is taken into custody and put in a labour camp where he meets a couple other political prisoners and Mick Fleetwood, playing himself for some reason.

After escaping the camp, Arnold is recaptured and put on the Running Man, along with doctored footage of him firing on those civilians after being told not to. He is also given a ridiculous spandex body suit to aid in his escape. Maybe it makes him more aerodynamic. Or they just wanted to better show off his muscles. Either way, it’s a silly suit and if it wasn’t there, we’d all be the worse for it. At some point during the lead-up to the game, we are shown a commercial of our favourite wrestling governor, Jesse “The Body” Ventura with a ridiculous head of hair and a mustache, calling himself Captain Freedom. He doesn’t really serve any real purpose in the movie, but the commercial for his workout routine is glorious (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LazUZz3K6IY).

Once released on the streets, Arnold takes up the namesake of the game and begins to run. Released on his tail though are the Hunters: Sub-Zero, a large man in goalie pads and wielding razor wire; Buzzsaw, another large man with a motorcycle and..well, a buzzsaw (and one of the greatest theme songs ever); and an even larger man named Dynamo, a future-y centurion who sings opera and wears Christmas lights. Throughout the movie, they each face off against Arnold and are beaten, always ending with Arnold dropping a great one-liner (“Sub-Zero? Now Plain Zero!” “What a pain in the neck” “He had to split” “I’ll live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!” Seriously, I can go on all day).

The film ends with Arnold living through the game show, winning the crowd over to his side, making his way back to the TV studio and killing the host by strapping him to a sled that explodes on impact with a billboard. The book ends with Richards’ family being murdered, and him driving a plane into the TV studio, killing himself and probably a floor of executives.

They’re basically the same thing.

Anyway, watch the movie, read the book, and then listen to the soundtrack over and over again for the former. It’s pure 80s greatness. I give the Running Man four broken spines out of four.

Hard Target (1993)

Hard Target (1993)

Hard Target is an action film from 1993 that stars the one and only Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme. The first thing you’ll notice about this film is the incredible hair that JCVD is sporting throughout the entire thing.

The plot of Hard Target is pretty straightforward; a businessman named Emil Fouchon (played by the always great Lance Henrikson) runs a sport for the super-rich and bored in which they hunt down vagrants using whatever weaponry they wish. Unfortunately for Lance, one of the vagrants he picks up to be killed by a client was Chance Boudreaux’s* (JCVD) old war buddy. But that’s not all: JCVD is hired by one Nat Binder (Yancy Butler) to track down her missing father, also a man who fell on hard times and picked up by Fouchon’s crew. The rest of the movie has the two tracking down Fouchon and his henchmen while also being hunted by the same people.

This movie is a lot of fun. It’s the first English language film directed by John Woo and his style is all over it. There are a ton of high-octane gun fights, paper and debris flying all over the place, people diving around, doves bursting forth in flight; it’s all there. Additionally, there are ample explosions that are way too big for what is called for, which is superb. Also, this film contains my favourite action trope following what has become one of my favourite scenes ever filmed. The trope: cars blowing up instantly due to either a gunshot or collision. The scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH59cd3OPcw. Absolutely incredible (get a load of that all-denim outfit too! Man, I miss the 90s).

In sum, Hard Target is a must-watch for an action fan. There’s some funny lines, some awesome scenes, great explosions, for some reason Wilford Brimley plays Jean-Claude’s backwoods uncle. See it.

* You’ll quickly notice that in every single JCVD movie, he plays someone vaguely French/Louisianian/French Canadian, but rarely, if ever, a Belgian.

Samurai Cop (1991)

Samurai Cop (1991)

Samurai Cop starring Mathew Karedas is a super low budget action movie from 1991, and it is absolutely glorious. It has everything that a bad action movie should have: ridiculous violence, terrible acting and lines, a memorable cast, pointless explosions, and gratuitous nudity.

The story is that Karedas is a cop named Joe Marshall (he speaks fluent Japanese*) called in from San Diego to Las Angeles to put a stop to the Japanese Katana Gang lead by the raspy voiced, mullet-sporting Fuj…Fujiyama? It is not explained why Marshall is called in, but I guess he’s an expert in katana gangs, or something. It doesn’t matter. The plot is secondary in this film. Fujiyama’s more of the secondary villain to Robert Zdar’s Okamura, a man with an Asian name who is clearly not Asian.

Some memorable moments in this memorable film include Okamura’s stealth infiltration into a hospital by dressing as a doctor, but still hiding himself – in costume – in a laundry bin, the fact that every female character in this movie has a fully nude scene (all of which go on far longer than is necessary). Perhaps the most memorable character is the surly police chief. He has to be the most miserable, no-nonsense police officer ever put to film, ultimately telling his two employee cops that they can and should go kill all of the katana gang members remorselessly. He also delivers one of my new favourite lines, “I feel like I got a giant pole stuck up my ass…and it hurts.” Beautiful.

The acting in this movie may be the worst I’ve ever sat through, but it’s a fun kind of bad acting, not a painful kind (current day Nicolas Cage vs. current day Al Pacino, to be clear). All the actors seem to forget lines on occasion and make stuff up, make stupid faces that seem to be hiding smirks, and stumble over what lines they do deliver. It’s great.

The soundtrack of this movie is also worth noting. I believe it’s only one or two songs, but they sound like they would fit right in on a Sega Genesis side scrolling beat ’em up. Not a good one, mind you.

I don’t want to spoil any more than I might already have. But do yourselves a favour and see this one.

 

 

*He doesn’t. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paTW3wOyIYw)

The Quick Starter Must-Watch Guide

Hello all,

This is going to just be a simple list of what I consider to be must-watch action movies of the 80s and 90s. Reviews will probably follow of each of these, but for those of you who happen upon the site before those exist, here you are. In no particular order (other than Commando, which should be the first one):

Commando (1985)
Terminator 2 (and Terminator 1, just for continuity) (1991)
Lethal Weapon 1-3 (they get progressively sillier as they go, but are nevertheless enjoyable) (1987; ’89; ’92)
Die Hard 1 and 3 (1988; ’95)
The Running Man (1987)
Under Siege (1992)
Predator (1987)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Hard Target (1993)
Double Impact (1991)
The Delta Force (1986)
Invasion U.S.A. (1985)
Universal Soldier (1992)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Point Break (1991)
RoboCop (1987)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Top Gun (1986)

Here’s just a few to get you started. I’ll add more to this list as I think of them (and see them for myself), but like I said, this is just a quick-start guide.

Commando

Commando

No more screwing around: this is the quintessential 80s action movie. It has everything: explosions, gunfights, one-liners, Arnold performing feats of impossibility like carrying an entire tree on his shoulder, ripping the passenger seat out of a car, or lifting a phone booth out of the ground with a man still inside it. If you have to watch one action movie this year, make it this one.

The plot of Commando is as follows: John Matrix (yeah, that’s Arnold’s name in this) is a retired Delta Force Commando who just wants to retire and live a quiet life in the mountains with his daughter Alyssa Milano, feeding deer, eating ice cream and fishing. But then she’s kidnapped by South Americans from a fictional banana republic in order to get Matrix’s cooperation in overthrowing the current government of said republic. When this is laid out to Matrix, he shoots the one telling him and begins his epic quest for revenge to rescue his daughter. It’s really up there with the glorious epics of history: The Iliad, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Commando.

I could go on about every little detail I love about this movie, but you really need to see it for yourself. Chances are you’re familiar with many of the one-liners, but you may not know they come from this movie (ie. ‘Remember how I said I’d kill you last? I lied!’, or ‘Don’t wake my friend; he’s dead tired’, or ‘Fuck you, asshole!…”Fuck you, asshole!” and the ever-popular ‘I’ll be back, Bennett’. Alright, that last two were originally from Terminator, but they’re still great). That’s another thing to mention: Bennett, Matrix’s main antagonist looks like Freddie Mercury and he wears a mesh chainmail tunic the entire movie. It’s incredible.

This movie also has my favourite shot of all time, closely followed by my favourite crappy edit of all time. It’s 2 minutes of pure awesome (https://youtu.be/hopRenk1oaQ?t=56s for the shot; the latter isn’t on YouTube unfortunately, but it’s about 5 seconds after this clip ends.) Just look at that close-up with that music, and the slowly zooming camera. It makes me so happy.

The music is simple, yet effective. I hope you like steel drums, because the entire soundtrack consists of about 2 songs, and the second is only played once. The rest of the song is the same intense steel drum (yeah, I used those words together) tune. It’ll be stuck in your head for years.

This movie easily gets a 5/5 rating. I cannot stress enough the importance of watching Commando if you are interested in 80s and 90s action movies. Much like Curt Hennig, it is simply perfect.

 

 

First Blood

First Blood

My first review is (fittingly) on the 1982 Sylvester Stallone film ‘First Blood’, where we get our first appearance of John Rambo. If I could fit the word ‘first’ into that last sentence any more, you better believe I would have.

First Blood is the story of a Vietnam veteran with no friends. The End.

 

But not really. Well, it is, but there’s more to it than that. Rambo is a Green Beret who has returned from Vietnam and finds himself unable to cope with a normal civilian life after witnessing the horrors of the War. The film begins with him trying to visit his last surviving army buddy only to learn that he too has died, leaving Rambo alone in the world. He then tries going into a small town in northern Washington state for a bite to eat when a cantankerous sheriff (played by Brian Dennehy) picks him, drives him to the town limits and tells him that their town don’t want no grouchy vets who could start trouble. Rambo decides he’s not going to put up with the sheriff’s tomfoolery and go back into town.

This wasn’t the best choice Rambo could have made.

What follows is Rambo being arrested, escaping into the words and surviving on his own while laying traps for the pursuing police department (which seems pretty large for a town this size). It should be noted that Rambo only wounds the policemen and is careful to not actually kill any.

When the police have had enough of Rambo’s tomfoolery in turn, they call in the National Guard who are accompanied by Rambo’s old commanding officer who repeatedly lets the police know they’re all lucky to be alive (and he says it with such a joyful voice, you’d think he was in on some private joke).

After a few chases, one needless yet totally needed car-exploding-on-impact (easily my favourite action trope) and a few more explosions and fights, Rambo hunkers down in the police station. After wounding the sheriff, his old commanding officer steps in and talks Rambo down before he’s killed by the National Guard who by now have surrounded the station. What follows is easily early-Stallone’s best acting effort, and possibly career-best. He delivers a monologue on how he has never been able to leave the war behind. The CO embraces Rambo and leads him outside to be arrested.

Overall, First Blood is a pretty decent film. Underneath the sometimes-but-never-sickeningly brutal violence, there is a serious message about the condition of some veterans. Rambo clearly has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and while his actions are over-the-top, his mental anguish and the treatment he received from others are not. At the time of it’s production, it polarized audiences who remembered the Vietnam War and were exposed to real cases of troubled veterans. Were it to be released now, I do believe it would be given a higher rating than what it received at the time.
That being said, this is not the type of movie I would suggest watching when wanting to be entertained by over-the-top action, witty one-liners, ridiculous violence and fun tropes. If you are looking for an action movie to watch in a group for everyone to laugh at, smile through and quote years later at completely unrelated times, you won’t find it here. First Blood’s tone is serious throughout, with very little (if any) happy moments to be found (except for the aforementioned car-exploding-on-impact-with-another-car scene).

Overall, First Blood gets a 4/5 rating as a film. You should see it if you haven’t, if for no other reason than to see how the Rambo series began.
However as a ridiculous action film (the kind which I hope for this blog to highlight) it gets a 2/5.