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Showing posts from October 7, 2018

Review: Legionnaire

Starting in 1920s France, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a boxer and playboy who screws over a gangster (Jim Carter) who wanted him to throw a fight. He’s also sleeping with the gangster’s moll, so obviously the guy’s a bit pissed with him now. His life now in danger, Van Damme flees and joins the French Foreign Legion, carted off to North Africa under the command of the harsh Steinkampf (Steven Berkoff). Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays African-American legionnaire Luther, whilst Nicholas Farrell is a Brit named Mackintosh.


Back when I first saw it in 1998, I had absolutely no interest in this Peter MacDonald (“Rambo III”, “Mo Money”), Foreign Legion tale, which seemed to continue Belgian spin-kicker Van Damme’s slide into bad movie hell (or from cinema release to straight-to-video/DVD). Whether I was misguided back in 98, or whether it was too far removed from Van Damme’s usual butt-kickers, or simply the fact that Van Damme has made far worse, my opinion of this film is different in 201…

Review: Safety in Numbers

Former reality TV contestants (including Jessica Napier, Ben Tari, Tasma Walton, and Karen Pang) are brought to a remote island for a special reunion show only to find themselves picked off one-by-one by an unseen (but completely obvious, thanks to the lack of credible suspects) killer.


Cheap, utterly worthless 2005 David Douglas horror film from Australia makes you appreciate “Wolf Creek” and “The Babadook” just that little bit more. It’s another boring, derivative reality TV horror flick (think “Halloween: Resurrection”, “My Little Eye” etc.), but even more tedious than usual. There’s nothing much going on aside from a lot of wandering about and sun tanning on a yacht. Worse still, the characters are dull and indistinguishable, the acting is abysmal, and the violence minimal (at least the terrible “Friday the 13th” series gave us the goods there). Also, several of the cast members deliver shockingly bad American accents, principally by the always forced Walton. And why are the girls…

Review: Truth

Just prior to the 2004 American Presidential Election, “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and her team report on the supposed controversy around then-US President George W. Bush’s military service record. Their investigation asserts that Bush used family connections to make sure he got a nice, safe gig at the National Guard rather than active duty during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, when the story is put to air, Mapes, “60 Minutes”, top news anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford), and station CBS end up the ones put under intense scrutiny. Dennis Quaid plays Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Charles, a Vietnam veteran and military consultant for CBS. Topher Grace is passionate researcher Mike Smith (who to Lt. Col. Charles might as well be a hippie), whilst Natalie Saleeba and David Lyons play senior producers Mary Murphy and Josh Howard, and Rachael Blake is CBS executive Betsy West. Bruce Greenwood and Nicholas Hope appear briefly as CBS president Andrew Heyward and a handwriti…

Review: Fall of the Roman Empire

The last days of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Sir Alec Guinness) of Rome, replaced by his arrogant, reckless son Commodus (Christopher Plummer) through scandalous, conspiratorial means (which chiefly involves blind co-conspirator Mel Ferrer). Soldier Livius (Stephen Boyd) was the first choice, being like a son to the aging ruler). Lucilla (Sophia Loren) is the emperor’s daughter and the main squeeze of Livius. When tragedy befalls the emperor, Livius is unwilling to assume the throne, much to the dismay of his lover Lucilla. Meanwhile, loony Commodus, insanely jealous of Livius and possibly harbouring unlawful feelings towards his sister, exiles the latter out of both jealousy and spite. He has let power get to his head and Rome itself begins to suffer. James Mason plays Timonides, a fair-minded and sage Roman Senator, sharing a great scene with Barbarian chief John Ireland (!). Sir Anthony Quayle plays the gladiator trainer, Omar Sharif plays an Armenian King whom Lucilla marries (Commod…

Review: Courage Under Fire

Denzel Washington stars as a Lt. Colonel tasked with investigating the worthiness of proposed Medal of Honour recipient, Capt. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan), who died whilst fighting in the first Gulf War. The Lt. Colonel has his own issues however, both domestic (marital issues with wife Regina Taylor) and military (a fatal mistake he made in war). Matt Damon and Lou Diamond Phillips play soldiers under Walden’s command, Scott Glenn plays a journalist, whilst Michael Moriarty is an S.O., with Zeljko Ivanek his subordinate.


Wannabe military “Rashomon” from 1996 directed by Edward Zwick (“Glory”, “The Last Samurai”, “Blood Diamond”) isn’t anywhere near as bad as I remember on initial viewing, but definitely lacks in some areas. Scripted by Patrick Sheane Duncan (“Nick of Time”, “Mr. Holland’s Opus”), the central mystery is surprisingly ho-hum, and Meg Ryan (bless her heart) is comically out of her depth in one of the worst cases of miscasting of the 1990s. As someone described by others as ‘…