The Black Six

My blaxploitation-fest continues with this 1974 outlaw biker film.

As in the previous blaxploitation films I have been watching, there is an American Rugby connection with all six of the main actors being actual players back in the day. They all came from different teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of them did some other work in film or television, but this was really the high point of their silver screen fame. I must say though that they were all quite natural on screen, sometimes funny, but not quite up to Fred or Jim level.

The story starts out with the murder of a black American Rugby player by a honky biker gang. He was killed because his white girlfriend is also the sister of the leader of the honky gang, and he didn’t like that.

We then meet Bubba and the other members of The Black Six. Bubba is also the brother of the murdered player. The Black Six is a peace loving biker group who roam the countryside on their bikes, working and sleeping where ever they can. They find work on a farm stacking hay bales into the loft of a barn. It was quite funny as they were obviously throwing light wooden boxes with hay glued on the outside…

After finishing the work the nice farm lady invites them in for dinner where they have a good meal, and of course there is a lot of good-hearted banter and joking around. The lady pays them what little money she can, as times are tough, and she hopes they would drop by again someday when she has more money so they can fix the barn wall which needs repairing. They ask if they can sleep in the barn for the night, which she happily agrees to.

The next day the lady goes outside to see that the gang has left, and that the barn has been fixed! A postman comes up to her and says; “I just saw that bunch of Negroes ride out, I just what to make sure everything is all right, you know how they are!”, to which she replies, “Yes…I know how they are!” with a smile on her face.

Mrs. Perkins

This was the actress’ only film, but she did fine.

Bubba (played by Gene Washington of the San Francisco 49ers) finds out in a letter from his mother that his brother was slain, so he decides he must go home and find out what happened. The rest of the gang of course join him. They don’t want to bash heads, they just want to find out who did it, as the police don’t who know did it although they kind of did but they are afraid of the honky gang.

The rest of the story is really quite dull, but the ending is where things get weird. After finding out who did it the Black Six decide to go violent and end up wasting all of the honky white gang in a rumble in a field, quite viciously. Unbeknown to them another even more vicious gang (or motorcycle dudes as the poster says) was waiting nearby, they just wanted to join in on the fun. Part of their attack strategy was to throw lit flares at them. The Black Six picked up the flares and threw them back, so there was a lot of flare throwing which looked like fun. There were dozens of the flare-throwing gang, but the Black Six were doing a good job of wasting them too. The last remaining member of the original gang who fled the carnage at first is ordered by the other gang leader to do something about it, so he lights up a flare, places it in the open gas tank of his hog, then makes a banzai run for the Black Six. He does a jump in the air and explodes, causing all of the other hogs which were strewn about the battlefield to explode. Over the flames we see shots of each of the Black Six like thus…

“Bubba”

We then see this…

From Wikipedia:
Several of the football players were disappointed with elements in the original script, especially that the black motorcyclists would be killed in the end, despite the fact that they stood for truth, justice and the American way. As a result of their protests, an inconclusive ending was shot.

That explains the ending. There was however no sequel.

It was a very cheaply made film and didn’t really have much of a story. But, the six main characters were fun to watch and the actors playing them seemed to be enjoying themselves. The ending too, though bizarre, was a bit of fun. So, it was not too bad, but the Slaughter films are the best of the blaxploitation films I have watched in the last week or so.

Date watched: October 19th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2018: 67

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

After watching the various Tim Roth and Gary Oldman films recently, I decided it was time to visit this film, a film I last saw a very long time ago.

My memories of this this film before I watched it were that it was witty and fun to watch, but as I started watching it I remembered that it is actually quite tedious and kind of boring, for the most part. It is certainly not “mercilessly funny”.

The story was kind of confusing at times. It is based on Hamlet, a play I have never read, so maybe if I knew that story better this may have made more sense.

And despite Tim and Gazza being two fave actors of mine, I thought they both over-played their roles a bit, they seemed to think that they had better act this as if they were on stage rather than on a film set, perhaps that is the director’s fault. So, their comedic reactions were a bit over the top with a lot of double-takes, comedy pauses, and various other techniques more commonly seem on stage or in bad TV comedies.

It was genuinely funny at times though, I especially liked Gary Oldman’s character building modern machines out of paper, or “discovering” scientific concepts, only to have Tim’s character destroy or completely ignore them. Some of the dialogue was quite witty and funny, there was just not enough of it.

Reviews for this were mixed, with Wikipedia saying that some reviews say it is more suited to the stage than film. It received a Golden Lion at the Venice Film festival. Roger Ebert did not like it at all.

I may just try to read Hamlet and see if that helps me understand or not understand this film a little better: that is the question. But, I do find Shakespeare tiresome to read…perhaps a dumbed-down version will be in order.

Date watched: September 14th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2018: 57

Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen

This is a 2015 comedy/crime film directed by Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, and starring a few of the most well known actors from Japanese film and TV.

It is the story of Ryuzo, an ex-yakuza, and his ex-yakuza buddies getting the gang back together to fight a group of young gangsters who are ripping off old people. There are a few other elements to the story, but they don’t really mesh together, rather they are separate side stories which don’t really help the main plot.

Unfortunately the comedy is very corny and resorts to fart and toilet jokes quite a lot. It was also very inconsistent at times, and when Ryuzo had to walk through a red-light district dressed like this…

…I had written off the comedy part of the film.

I haven’t seen any other Kitano films, but he is well respected so I am sure he could have made a better film than this one. There were one or two laughs here and there, and the acting was fine but not great, but on the whole it is a film for the older Japanese generation who want to reminisce about the old days, which is fine but not my cup of green tea.

Kitano is a regular on TV here. He has his own prime TV show which is part “That”s Incredible”, game show, and comedy. It has been on air since 1997.

Date watched: April 21st
Score: 5/10
Film count 2018: 30

Reincarnated

This is a documentary, produced in part by Snoopadelic films, about Snoop Dogg’s visit to Jamaica to become a rastaman… supposedly.

Snoop claims a few times that he felt he was a born rasta, so he needed to go to Jamaica, cut a reggae record, meet Bunny Wailer, convert to rastafari, and of course smoke plenty of weed. He did all this, although he just didn’t seem all that sincere about converting to rastafari, or was at least too stoned to take anything seriously. As it turns out Bunny Wailer was not too pleased after the film was released.

From Wikipedia: Bunny Wailer made a statement where he indicted Snoop of “outright fraudulent use” of the Rastafari faith.

I thought the portrayal of rastafari faith in the film seemed a bit too stereotypical, they basically seem to like saying “Jah Rastafari!” a lot, then smoke plenty of ganja.

There was a bit of Snoop Dogg history interspersed throughout the film, including his days as a drug dealer, as well as his short time as an actual pimp. He seems like a very mellow fella now, but that will mostly be down to the many blunts he consumes. His daughter sang one of the songs on the album he recorded in the film.

Not essential watching.

Date watched: December 3rd
Score: 5/10
Film count 2017: 140

The Fast and the Furious

This is a 1955 film produced by Roger Corman, starring (and directed by) John Ireland, and Dorothy Malone.

The story involves John Ireland’s character kidnapping a woman who was on her way a race on the border with Mexico, where he hoped to get over the border to avoid being arrested for the murder of a truck driver, which he of course was not guilty of. The pair fall in love during the race, and all works out reasonably well in the end.

The story gets a bit boring after a while, but the acting by the lead actors was pretty good for a budget film, so they held it together. There was plenty of hairy racing action which was filmed on Monteray Race track. Roger Corman himself drove a Jaguar in the racing scenes.

One scene fascinated me. The NZ flag (or at least a bad copy of one)can be seen prominently in the background, and I was trying to figure out why. I guessed in the end that it was not put there on purpose, it just happened to be there in the shot. There were other flags next to it as well, including the Fijian flag!

From Wikipedia: Producer Neal H. Moritz and Universal Pictures licensed the title for 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. Moritz had difficulty choosing between proposed titles Racer X, Redline, Race Wars, and Street Wars, and was inspired by a documentary on American International Pictures that included Corman’s film. Moritz was able to trade the use of some stock footage to Corman for use of the title.

It was made for $50,000, but made $250,000, so Roger did alright out of it. After this film he decided to go into directing as well.

Roger is 91 now, and is still producing films with his latest being Death Race 2050 (2017).

This is not essential watching, but at only 73 minutes long it was not too bad.

Date watched: November 27th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2017: 135

Body of Lies

I’ve been watching this Ridley Scott film in 10 minute chunks over the last three weeks or so (I still have the last few minutes to watch!), which of course did not help its rating. It started off pretty well but quickly turns silly. It all looks very slick, but the story did not hold interest for long enough and Leo (who I normally like) acts grumpy throughout the whole thing and Crowe is just plain terrible. By the end I was playing scrabble online and watching this at the same time, didn’t help me win any games. Thanks a bunch Leo.

Date watched: Days and days
Score: 5/10
Film count 2017: 62

There is a bit of this kind of action to be had: