One Down, Two To Go

This is the other Jim Brown film I mentioned I had lined up to watch in a previous blog post. As it turns out, this is actually another Fred Williamson film, he both starred and directed this quite terrible film.

It starts out well though with a karate tournament that actually turned out to be real. From IMDB:
The fights that take place during the fictitious martial arts tournament that open the film, were in fact actually real and not staged. Fred Williamson had organized it so that the fights would look authentic and the winner of each fight got paid five hundred dollars and with the loser getting one hundred dollars.

The story was about a rigged karate tournament, with Jim and Fred trying to find out where $400,000 in missing prize money went. Their buddy was a karate coach who got ripped off, then shot by the fight’s promoter’s thugs.

Unfortunately everything after that opening scene it was tedious watching. Some scenes were unnecessarily long, especially those involving Fred and Jim such as one scene where they get out of a car and walk somewhere all with no dialogue and some funky (but not very good) music playing. Another scene had Jim Brown very slowly walking up stairs with his gun, ready to shoot anything that moves, but all we saw was him creeping up the stairs, get to the top, open a door and move inside, slowly. There was then a cut to another scene, which then cut back to Jim, but the mood was lost by then.

The story was muddled and confusing at times, but it didn’t really matter, all we needed to know was when Jim and Fred were going to shoot someone or something, which they did with gay abandon. Unfortunately, they spent more time just walking about.

The main characters were carrying around big Magnums, similar to Dirty Harry’s, and despite all the shooting they did they did not reload once, that is the main thing I will temporarily remember about this film, and that it was quite bad.

It of course ended with a comical scene involving Jim, Fred, and Richard Roundtree in hospital beds after the final gun battle. Their boss tells them there is a telex for them from Japan asking for their “assistance”. They start complaining about it, and the film ends with a free-frame of a cigar-chomping mutt that was sitting nearby.

Fred though did have a good reason for making this film. From IMDB:
One of the major reasons Writer/Director Fred Williamson decided to make the film besides the down time between projects was because he wanted to give Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Richard Roundtree work. He stated that besides doing a sequel to Three The Hard Way, that Brown, Kelly and Roundtree were not given the work they should’ve been getting in Hollywood at the time and deserved better.

So good on you Freddo!

But, this is just not worth watching at all.

However, I am continuing my blaxploitation film-fest with another film called “The Black Six” which has the taglines: “See the 6 biggest, baddest and best waste 150 motorcycle dudes!” and “Six Times Tougher Than ‘Shaft’! Six Times Rougher Than ‘Superfly’!”. Sounds promising!

Date watched: October 19th
Score: 1/10
So-bad-it’s-good score: 1/10
Film count 2018: 66

Made In Britain

Straight after watching Meantime I just had to watch this, a 1982 television play starring Tim Roth in his first role.

Like Meantime it has no real story, it just follows Tim Roth’s 16 year-old skinhead character “Trevor” as he is charged in court on various charges and is sent to a youth detention centre. A youth worker can see that he is intelligent and tries to get him to go straight, but Trevor seems basically resigned to a life of hate and self-destruction.

Tim is absolutely brilliant in this, and the contrast between his characters in this and Meantime show what an excellent and underrated actor he is. The very last scene where you see a crazed look on his face after being beaten by a cop was powerful stuff, and it summed up the character and his future well.

This is part of a series of four films written by David Leland about the British educational system, so I will try to watch the others if I can find them.

Seeing both Tim Roth and Gary Oldman together in a film (Meantime) reminded me of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, another excellent film that I must watch again, probably next actually.

Date watched: August 25th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 56

Distant Voices, Still Lives

This is a fantastic 1988 British drama film set in 1940’s and 1950’s Liverpool.

The story follows a working class family headed by an angry and abusive father (played by the excellent Pete Postlethwaite), his wife, and three children.

The film is split into two parts, with the first part called “Distant Voices” and the second “Still Lives”. Each part jumps around in the past, present, and future, and does it quite well, although some may find it confusing.

A central part of the story, apart from being about a family that has to deal with a difficult father, is singing. Most of the cast are singing at some point, or are all singing together at home, or together down at the pub with their friends. This is pre-rock ‘n’ roll, so the songs are old-timey. The film’s timeline ended probably just on the cusp of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, and I was actually expecting to hear Bill Haley or Fats Domino at the end. Some of the actors and actresses were very good singers.

Everything about this is superbness, and I find it hard to criticise it in any way. Some may find this to be a bit depressing, especially the scenes involving the father who is mostly in a bad mood, and what his suffering wife has to go through. But, I found it to be beautiful and unforgettable.

Date watched: August 19th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 53

The Empire Strikes Back

In preparation for Solo, James and I watched half of this this last night, and the other half today after we got back from Solo.

I have reviewed this a few times before, so I won’t go into it much. What I will say though is that there are several references in Solo to this film, nothing major but I like how the Star Wars films do that, it makes you feel like a real geeky fan when you can pick things up that Muggles won’t.

I am undecided whether I like this or Episode 4 better, so for now I will just call it a draw.

Date watched: July 16th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2018: 44

Countryman

This is probably the third time I have seen this, the last time was back in 2011.

Here is my review from back then:

I think I may have seen this ages ago. I remember getting a Jamaican video from Alice’s and maybe this was it. None of it rings a bell though, all I remember is the cover.

Not much of a story or acting but the main character, Countryman (playing himself) and the reggae soundtrack make it worth watching. Countryman is a cool dude but a little difficult to understand at times, strong Jamaican accent. There is a funny scene where he does some kind of spiritual kung-fu fighting, and he runs around a lot.

Entertaining.

The same goes this time around, and the score stays the same.

I the meantime though, the man himself, Edwin “Countryman” Lothan, died in 2016 from cancer. He was quite a fellow it seems. Read about him here

Date watched: February 5th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2018: 10

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Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

Airplane!

I was watching this video of birds swearing and was laughing so much that it set me in the mood for a comedy. This film seemed to be the best choice.

I have seen this several times, and each time is just as funny as the last. All of the cast members in this were perfect in their roles, not a dud in sight. The dialogue was great with plenty of memorable one-liners and jokes. Some gags were a bit too silly, but they were far and few between. Some jokes would not be allowed today.

The script is an almost perfect recreation of a film called Zero Hour! Here is a good YouTube video with comparisons between the films (the producers had to buy the rights to the original film).

This film ranks just behind Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian in my all-time funniest films list. Blazing Saddles is not far behind, along with Young Frankenstein which I must watch again.

Date watched: January 19th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2018: 3