Mean Johnny Barrows

I was about to watch another Jim Brown film when I came across this Fred Williamson flick on YouTube and thought I would give it a go. Right from the beginning it was obvious this was going to be a weird nonsensical and possibly terrible film. Freddo directed it.

It started off with Fred’s character Johnny doing some army training at an army base in California. Johnny, a captain or something, was doing some mine field training with some soldiers, explaining that the mines in the field are fake. He then steps on a mine and somehow instantly recognises that it is in fact a real mine. As he keeps pressure on it another officer comes along, he is obviously a racist and tells Johnny that all he has to do is replace the pin to defuse it, but in a racist manner. Johnny puts a pin in, but for some reason he asks his trainees to put their flak jackets around the mine, then he leaps away and it explodes, hurting no one. He then punches the officer’s lights out. He is discharged from the army. This is all important later in the film.

Next, we see Johnny in L.A., looking down and out in dirty clothes, and roaming the streets looking for work. He goes into a restaurant and the owner (and a mob family member) offers him work as a hitman, right there and then. To cut the story short, Johnny finally accepts the job as hitman about two-thirds of the film in after trying to find honest work, and working at a petrol station with a mean old dude, so goes about wasting some dudes from another mob family, and gets involved with a pretty blond who turns out to be a kind of Juliet of one mob family, with the Romeo being a son in the other mob family (played by Roddy McDowall), who Johnny also kills by slicing his leg open and telling him to jump into the sea from a boat (I presume sharks ate him, even though it was at a dock in the harbour, we didn’t actually see him die).

This brings us to the bizarre end. An assassin is hired to rub out Johnny, we don’t get to see his face until the final fight scene where they meet after a boring car chase, do some lame kung-fu on each other, and Johnny finally kills him with a ninja star to the head (it kills the assassin despite only barely piercing his forehead). It turns out the assassin was the officer Johnny punched out at the beginning of the film!

“ARRGHH! I have been mortally wounded by a ninja star!”

The very final scene is even more bizarre with Johnny taking the blond to a piece of land he was promised by the mob boss for the hits, along with a lot of money. He had fallen in love with her, and he didn’t know she was in cahoots with the rival mob bosses’ son. As he is asking her to shack up with him he moves in for a kiss but is shot by her in the stomach. She is pissed that he killed Romeo you see. She plugs him a few more times, then turns around and walks a few steps, and then realises she has stepped on a live mine, looks surprised at him for a few seconds, looks down, then is blown to bits. Johnny is still alive despite the shots. Quite an ending!

“Oh, sh…”

The film freeze frames on the explosion and the following text is displayed:

Everything in between in the mines is very slow moving. There is a story, but it just plods along until Johnny finally decides to take the hitman job, way too late in the story. The action is sparse and not really all that well done, along with pretty much everything else.

There is one bizarro scene near the beginning involving Elliot Gould. His character, a smooth-talking ex-professor dressed in fancy duds comes up to Johnny just as Johnny is about to take a hotdog out of a trashcan, he is that hungry. Gould’s character convinces Johnny to leave it and to go to a soup kitchen. On the way they go up to some random dude eating a hot dog and drinking a root beer, where Elliot smooth talks him into letting them have a bite and swig. The guy silently lets them and smiles and becomes instant chums with them. It was all very random, but as it turns out it was actually all random…

From IMDB:
Star Fred Williamson’s M*A*S*H (1972) co-star Elliott Gould came in for a half-hour’s work to help out his friend. Gould completely improvised his part on the spot.

That explains a lot.

Elliot and Freddo

Fred, like Jim Brown, was an American Rugby player-turned actor, and he also dabbled in directing and producing. Fred and Jim actually worked together in various films as well as television. And according to Wikipedia he has black belts in Kenpō, Shotokan karate and taekwondo.

Fred is 80 and still going strong.

So this was quite a mess, with the only real good stuff involving exploding mines, and Elliot Gould’s weird cameo. The two Slaughter films did this kind of film a lot better by concentrating on the action and less on the story.

Date watched: October 14th
Score: 3/10
Film count 2018: 64

Fast & Furious 8

As I have seen all of the other atrocious films in this series, I thought I may as well watch the latest (on Amazon Prime). Five minutes in I was regretting my decision, but as I have a policy of finishing every film I start, I carried on.

The opening scene involved a race between Vin Diesel and a repo-man who at first seemed like a really obnoxious guy, but after Vin won in the most ridiculous way possible (of course), he turned out to be a stand-up guy after Vin won him over.

It was all even more downhill from there with all of the usual over-the-top action sequences, bravado, silly one-liners and predictable jokes, and what-not. The CG in places was terrible.

But, there were two scenes which saved the whole film from instant bargain-bin DVD hell. The first was Helen Mirren. She was very funny as the hard-talking, potty-mouthed mother of Jason Statham’s character. She only had a few minutes in all, but she alone made it all worthwhile. Another scene involving Jason Statham and a baby on a plane as he fought off several bad guys was funny too. Kurt Russell was good because he is Kurt Russell. Everything else was pretty forgettable, in fact it is already disappearing from my long-term memory.

I am quite convinced the story was written by a bunch of teenagers, and all of the dialogue was ad-libbed by the actors to save money so they could spend it on sports cars and a submarine. Vin Diesel was probably told to mention how important family is, and to say it at least 100 times throughout the film.

Looking back at my Fast & Furious 7 review I see that I enjoyed it, mostly because it was just so over-the-top and silly fun. This one though was just more of the same, too much of the same.

The next installment is due out in 2020…I guess I am bound to watch it.

Date watched: February 10th
Score: 3/10
Film count 2018: 12

Bright

Not a great start to my movie viewing year this, Bright is a Netflix produced film and it is pretty terrible, it can’t decide if it’s a comedy, or sci-fi, or social comment, or drama. It ends up being a mess, and is cheap looking even though it had a big budget. It is set in some alternative Los Angeles where humans, Orcs and Elves live together. It follows two cops who find some magic wand which everyone wants etc. Yawn! The main Orc cop was good, at least the actor looked like he was enjoying himself. He can enjoy himself more in the just announced sequel, hopefully the audience can as well for that one!

Date watched: 5th January
Score: 3/10
Film count 2018: 1

Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

James and I watched this in two parts, finishing the second part tonight.

Ewoks, damn frickin’ Ewoks.

The rest was pretty decent really, Georgie did a pretty good job on the main story, but he seemed to just take too many happy pills at some point, and dreamed up the Ewok horror which almost borked the whole thing.

Thank goodness for Disney.

Date watched: December 1st
Score (not including Ewoks): 7.5/10
Score (including Ewoks): 3/10
Film count 2017: 136

You Must Be Joking!

This is a 1965 British comedy film starring Terry Thomas, Denholm Elliot, and a few other familiar faces from British comedy.

It was supposed to be a madcap and nutty comedy with all kinds of sillines, but I don’t remember any particularly funny bits, although Terry Thomas is always funny, even when he doesn’t actually say anything funny. I actually watched this over three sessions because I just didn’t feel like watching it in one go.

The story is about some army guys who have to go on a scavenger hunt to test their initiative. They are tasked with getting things like an electric rabbit (greyhound rabbit), the “Spirit of Ecstasy” from a Rolls Royce, and , the Lutine bell from Lloyds of London, among other random things.

The best thing about the film was the acting. All of the actors were doing the best with what they were given, and they are obviously funny people, but the script was just not up to the task methinks.

Well, at least I can say I have seen it if it ever pops up in a conversation some day.

Date watched: November 9th (final third)
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 125

Sully

This is directed by Clint Eastwood, about the real life crash landing of a passenger plane into the Hudson River in 2009. I actually fast-forwarded most of this as it was really dull. Tom Hanks is always good to watch but it’s one of those films where you know what happens, give me a doco instead! The National Transportation Safety Board come across as the bad guys, which they never were of course, Hollywood artistic license rears its drab head again.

Date watched: 20th August
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 43

Terminator Genisys

Oh dear, this is a complete boring mess. And quite an embarrassment to this once great sci-fi franchise. Arnold returns and says the same old lines, there is the same confusing time travel time line to follow (after a while I couldn’t be bothered), and there is the predictable ‘Oh, he’s the bad guy.’ bit. The Terminator? The Disappointer.

Date watched: 5th August
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 40