Knock Off Recap

Jamie

Marcus Ray is a Hong Kong counterfeiter trying to go legit in the fashion world. But when a plot to use knock off products as bombs puts him in the crosshairs of his business partner/CIA operative Tommy he finds himself wrapped up in trying to stop the scheme. Can he stop the scheme (and perhaps uncover a larger conspiracy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Knock Off.

How?! Everyone loves Marcus. He’s super cool and got muscles and stuff. So he sees a way to use this charm to get out of the illegal business of counterfeiting and straight into the business of high fashion (a.k.a. jeans). But when some of his fellow counterfeiters are getting knocked off, he comes to find out that his business partner Tommy is actually a CIA agent trying to stop a dangerous international terrorist plot. Teaming up they use all of Marcus’ underworld contacts to start piecing together what’s going on… which is… uh… I guess that there are bombs and stuff in these knock off products and also everyone is getting killed and Marcus has to kick and punch people. Honestly it’s a little vague. At this point they find that their fashion world contact, Karen, is also CIA (is anyone actually working in fashion? Who is designing these dope jeans?!) and it’s revealed that the Russian mob is orchestrating the plot (or are they?). The mob kidnaps Tommy and Karen and Marcus has to go rescue them. It’s revealed that Tommy’s handler at the CIA is actually the puppetmaster pulling all the strings on the plot and Marcus and Tommy are like “what a twist?!” A big fight ensues and I mean, come on… It’s JCVD. He wins. THE END.

Why?! In a weird turn of events the good guy, JCVD, actually has somewhat interesting motivation. That’s because he just wants to be a legit fashion mogul and sell jeans to all the dope tweens of the world. Unfortunately a terrorist plot is getting in the way. As for the bad guy, why would a CIA operative turn around and orchestrate a terrorist plot. That sweet green, baby. He wants to have all these products with bombs in them distributed around the world so that then he can threaten governments with blowing them all up if they don’t pay him a ransom. “Crime pays” is almost a default motivation for every bad action film that needs a twist.

Who?! You would think that Rob Schneider would be a Planchet here. He certainly fits the bill, but not nearly to the extent that I would like. They barely make fun of him for doing a merely OK job in the investigation… you gotta really ramp up those Planchet vibes when you got a Planchet talent like Rob Schneider on hand.

What?! I do enjoy a fake product here and there. This one has a number of them, since it deals with knock off products (some real, some not). For example during the very exciting rickshaw race JCVD dons a pair of Pumma running shoes. The extra ‘m’ gives away the fact that those shoes explode off his feet midrace. We also have their main company, V-Six jeans, which apparently markets itself as jeans that specifically won’t fall apart… the knock offs obviously do.

Where?! Exclusively Hong Kong. It’s actually less common than you’d think that we get a film set entirely in one city. Usually we have people jet-setting around or schemes being concocted in remote locations. Not here. Just Hong Kong. It also plays a role in the plot due to the prevalence of knock off merchandise in the city. A.

When?! Not So Secret Holiday Film Alert. It’s not even a subtle point that the events of the film are leading up to the handing over of Hong Kong to China on July 1st, 1997. Images are shown of the event and it’s talked about a lot, but it pretty much just functions as a backdrop for the events of the film… I honestly can’t remember if it plays a role in the plot beyond that. A-.

As you can tell from the brief plot description this film seems like it was mostly written on a napkin. The parts that make sense are just standard action fare, while the rest is so incomprehensible that it slips right off your brain. It left an impression that I watched a film, but my brain assures me I did not. It really is like you’re watching a movie in an entirely different language… and yet it’s in english. I think there is a temptation to forgive a lot of this craziness on my own inexperience with Hong Kong cinema. There were moments where I had to stop and think “is this bad or do I just think this is bad because it’s different than what I’ve come to expect.” By the end I came to the conclusion that it was just bad… but I’m not sure where and how it actually went wrong. Maybe everything. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Knock Off? More like Knock It Off! Amirite? We watched … well I think it was a movie. Jean Claude Van Damme was in it, so I assume it was a movie. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know very much about this beyond that it was a classic team up of *checks notes* Jean Claude Van Damme and Rob Schnieder? Oooof, that can’t end well. Anyways, during the prep I found out it takes place in Hong Kong and specifically during the handover to China on July 1, 1997. The Hong Kong director was also intriguing as I hadn’t seen much Hong Kong cinema (unless you count like … Hard Target or Face/Off, but I don’t). What were my expectations? I guess a Hong Kong martial arts film? Whenever there is a heavily asian cinema inspired film (see Ecks vs. Sever) there can be a bit lost in translation, so I was really hoping it was just bonkers direction instead of a rote Hong Kong action film with bad acting.

The Good – Oh man, I mean … nothing? This film is a complete mess. It is such a mess it made me wonder whether there were even people on set who could give direction to the main three leads of the film. Alright, calm down Patrick, you have to say something nice about the film, that’s the rules. … Jean Claude Van Damme kick boxes and isn’t the worst actor in the film. They use Hong Kong well I think, playing up a bunch of different aspects of the city and the transition that was happening at the time. And I think the B-story of the jean company is hilarious. At least two of those things are genuinely good things.

The Bad – Ah back in my element. Here’s the thing, the film is directed insanely. Which, after watching A Better Tomorrow which I’ll discuss below, is very odd because Hark is a titan of HK cinema. It makes me think that some Hollywood exec gave him complete control over the film, to the extent that JCVD just had to fly to Hong Kong, and the production was probably run via a multi-lingual crew, and … then some Hollywood guy got this film back and was like “Oh no, I don’t know how we are going to edit this into a releasable product.” Spoiler alert, it isn’t releasable. This film is crazy. There are like insets at one point, you’re flying through CGI shoes and computers and stuff, there’s a rickshaw race, everyone is a CIA agent by the time the film ends … what is happening!? Reminds me of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever in the end.

The BMT – I think this film is incredibly amusing. For a JCVD night? I would definitely think of throwing this on. As a matter of fact, a line up of Universal Soldier (Emmerich), Hard Target (Woo) and this (Hark) would be pretty funny. And close out with The Quest which was directed by JCVD himself. It was basically the last major release for JCVD prior to him occasionally showing up for smaller parts like The Expendables. It has a lot of cache and is so so weird. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, I think it exceeded them in the end. I cannot overstate how weird the direction is. It was a different time in US cinema, at the tail end of a decade where any martial artist could get at least a straight-to-video release under their belt. And this really closed that era out with a bang leaving basically just Jackie Chan standing.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I certainly think Rob Schneider’s character fits in as a Planchet (Who?) which is fun. There is also a strong argument for Product Placement (What?) for Puma which gets mentioned multiple times via a counterfeit version of the shoe called Pumma. Obviously an amazing Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, which dovetails nicely with a Temporal Setting / Not-so-Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the entire film taking place during the week of the handover of Hong Kong from British control to China on July 1, 1997. There is a strong MacGuffin (Why?) for the search for an elusive set of counterfeit jeans fitted with explosives. And then a solid Worst Twist (How?) with the “reveal” that the higher up CIA character played by Paul Sorvino was the bad guy all along (for reasons …). And then it will get consideration for BMT as well … wait, was this a clean sweep?! This film qualifies for all the potential awards. I think that is just a testament to how badly this film is written, it is just one giant cliche.

StreetCreditReport.com – Once again, despite all of the potential cred described above, this film is the kind of film which would have flew under the radar of critics and audiences alike. It seems to rarely get mentioned as even a bad Van Damme film, or a bad martial arts film. I think all of the cred just comes from it being a Van Damme film, and hopefully once Bad Movie Twins goes global we’ll be able to give it the recognition it deserves.

You Just Got Schooled – I have to admit, I’m just really not that familiar with Hong Kong cinema. The closest I’ve come is that I have seen Drunken Master with Jackie Chan. So what better time to familiarize myself with a true classic: A Better Tomorrow. Directed by John Woo, and starring Chow Yun-Fat, the film tells the story of two brothers on opposite sides of the law, both fighting against the criminal underworld that threatens to overwhelm their lives. This film is a bit of a revelation. It is no wonder Woo would find success in Hollywood, as this film draws from the greats of both Hong Kong cinema and US cinema to create a pretty compelling blend of both. A kind of western film set in the criminal underworld of Hong Kong. Weirdly apropos as both Knock Off and this deal with the counterfeiting criminal underworld of Hong Kong. But then the director of Knock Off produced A Better Tomorrow, and ultimately directed the poorly received A Better Tomorrow 3 and failed miserably to kick off his US career. Hark is objectively a good director, he has five films on a list of the 100 best Hong Kong films ever … perhaps Woo was just better at absorbing and reproducing elements of western cinema in his work, and that’s why things like Face/Off work so well. I don’t know, I’ve seen a grand total of three films made in Hong Kong, so I’m far from an expert. Maybe I’ll watch Police Story next though. A. An extremely good film I would recommend to anyone interested in Hong Kong cinema or gangster films like The Departed. 

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Knock Off Preview

The men in Tiniman’s army expect nothing from Rich and Poe. Yeah, they may have toned biceps and abs for days, but they also seem like a couple of rascals who don’t care much for rules. At first it seems like they’re right. “This sucks!” yells Rich, while Poe looks sadly at his nutritionless grub they’re served in the mess. “How are we expected to keep ourselves lean, mean fighting machines without a balanced meal,” he sighs. But soon, they learn the meaning of their military family and come to trust and love their brothers in arms. They aren’t just passable soldiers, they are oddly competent. “Hey Roach,” Rich asks one day, “what are we training for anyway?” Their comrade Roach looks up from polishing his robot legs. “War,” he grunts and gets back a-polishing. He needs those babies gleaming. “War… who are we fighting?” Poe asks, curious now. “Alligator,” Roach grunts. Rich and Poe nod their heads but suddenly look at each other… Alligator. Rich and Poe get as many details as they can from Roach, one grunt at a time. Tiniman’s aim is to conquer the lands to the south. Where a tribe of men have come to live harmoniously with giant alligators. “Unconquerable,” Roach says winking, his legs now gleaming in the sunlight. “My God,” Rich says, “Alligator Steve… this is where he’s from.” Poe gulps, “and we’re going to destroy them.” While their newfound maturity bucks at the idea of betraying their comrades they also know they gotta get out of there… and fast. “What we need is…” Rich begins, but suddenly a shadow passes over them. “Deception,” Roach grunts. Startled, they look up in fear, but Roach is smiling. “Twins,” he says and Rich and Poe smile back. “Knock offs,” they agree. That’s right! We’re watching the JCVD-Rob Schneider buddy cop film about a Hong Kong… uh… fashion designer? Who also does karate or something? And Rob Schneider is a cop… what, what’s happening? Let’s go!

Knock Off (1998) – BMeTric: 55.3; Notability: 29 

KnockOffIMDb_BMeT

KnockOffIMDb_RV

(The notability is higher that I would have expected for a film I never heard of, but not super high for a major release. I’m intrigued. The rating is riding, but sub-5.0 is pretty great with that 50+ BMeTric. This film has a lot going for it from a numbers perspective.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Van Damme teams up with American agents to combat terrorists. Having Van Damme play a Hong Kong clothing designer/importer in an action film pinned to a plot about designer jeans is peculiar but not interesting … which also describes the movie. Director Hark abandons his vivid fight choreography for standard swift intercutting instead. Samo Hung appears unbilled.

(Ha! I love that description. Leonard is just flabbergasted by the B-story which is actually the A-story. The character sounds like Tommy Wiseau in real life.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Txm_I4usB0/

(The trailer is fucking bonkers. Just cut after cut after cut with weird quips (“Goodbye yellow brick road”? It isn’t even that quoting Elton John is out of date, it is that it is just a weird turn of phrase). Explosions, Rob Schnieder saying random words, clearly a bunch of wire-fu which is going to annoy me. I literally cannot wait to watch this ludicrous film.)

Directors – Hark Tsui – (Known For: Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame; Journey to the West: Demon Chapter; Once Upon a Time in China; Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings; Seong lung wui; Flying Swords of Dragon Gate; Wong Fei Hung II: Nam yee tung chi keung; Zhi qu wei hu shan; Shu Shan – Xin Shu shan jian ke; Once Upon a Time in China III; Shun liu ni liu; Tit sam gok; Future BMT: Shu shan zheng zhuan; Qi jian; BMT: Double Team; Knock Off; Notes: He is considered a master in martial arts action, and one of the best Chinese directors ever. His production company is one of the biggest Hong Kong film companies in the business.)

Writers – Steven E. de Souza (written by) – (Known For: Die Hard; Commando; Die Hard 2; The Running Man; 48 Hrs.; Ricochet; The Return of Captain Invincible; Future BMT: Street Fighter; The Flintstones; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Bad Dreams; BMT: Knock Off; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Judge Dredd; Beverly Hills Cop III; Hudson Hawk; Another 48 Hrs.; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Notes: One of the last films he wrote that got a major release. He was only 51 at the time, so I assume he just kind of retired.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: Bloodsport; The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Kickboxer; Hard Target; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Timecop; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Lukas; Sudden Death; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Cyborg; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Legionnaire; Double Impact; Maximum Risk; Inferno; Replicant; The Quest; Missing in Action; Pound of Flesh; Black Water; Nowhere to Run; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Breakin’; Last Action Hero; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Knock Off; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Literally the last film he released prior to starting to mostly release non-theatrical films. Legionnaire would be his next film, and Universal Soldier: The Return was after that and was his last theatrical release for a decade.)

Rob Schneider – (Known For: 50 First Dates; Muppets from Space; Future BMT: The Animal; Norm of the North; Little Nicky; You Don’t Mess with the Zohan; InAPPropriate Comedy; The Hot Chick; Sandy Wexler; Eight Crazy Nights; Surf Ninjas; Mr. Deeds; The Adventures of Pinocchio; You May Not Kiss the Bride; Bedtime Stories; The Waterboy; Big Stan; Down Periscope; Click; Big Daddy; The Longest Yard; Necessary Roughness; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; BMT: Little Man; Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo; The Ridiculous 6; The Beverly Hillbillies; Knock Off; The Benchwarmers; Judge Dredd; Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo; Grown Ups; I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; Around the World in 80 Days; Demolition Man; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo in 2006; Nominee for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo in 2006; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2007 for Little Man, and The Benchwarmers; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 2000 for Big Daddy; in 2008 for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; and in 2011 for Grown Ups; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Grandma’s Boy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Little Man, Little Nicky, The Animal, The Benchwarmers, and The Hot Chick; Notes: This was kind of right in the middle of his starring career, after he had already teamed up with Stallone for Judge Dredd. He is apparently anti-vax, which caused him to be dropped as a spokesperson for State Farm in 2014.)

Lela Rochon – (Known For: Any Given Sunday; Boomerang; Brooklyn’s Finest; Waiting to Exhale; The Big Hit; Gang Related; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Blood Done Sign My Name; Future BMT: The Meteor Man; Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo; Breakin’; Supremacy; BMT: Knock Off; First Daughter; The Chamber; Harlem Nights; Notes: Right at the top of her peak as a leading lady in film, right around Why Do Fools Fall in Love. She has a degree in broadcast journalism.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $10,319,915 (Worldwide: $10,319,915)

(Oh wow. Now this can’t possibly be true right? Wouldn’t this, at the very least, get a release in Hong Kong? This came out right as Van Damme’s career was cratering though, so I imagine they only realized it was mostly unreleasable afterwards. Case in point: this came out after Legionnaire.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (3/39): Muddled plot; stiff acting.

(Short and sweet! They seem to kind of agree that it is a little too jokey, but somehow very serious, and … honestly it does sound muddled now that I write it. Reviewer Highlight: Something of a kaleidoscopic mess of a movie, but it has its moments. – Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle)

Poster – Sklog Off

 

knock_off

(That is nuts. I find it offensive. What were they even thinking? Case in point: why is “Van Damme” in giant block letters that nearly fade into the background. My eyes hurt. F. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I think this was the most difficult font I’ve ever undertaken. I’m rather impressed with how okay the background looks behind the letters since I had to rebuild it all. Overall looks pretty good for what is, in fact, a pretty complicated poster.)

Tagline(s) – There is no substitute. (C+)

(It’s a pun… that’s the best you can say about it. Obviously playing on the fact that the story involves a bunch of knock off products and the fact that there is no substitute for Van Damme. But it’s stretching just a bit too far and doesn’t flow.)

Keyword – kickboxing

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Top 10: The Mummy Returns (2001), American Assassin (2017), True Lies (1994), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), Road House (1989), Tomb Raider (2018), Street Fighter (1994), Say Anything… (1989), Kiss the Girls (1997), The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Future BMT: 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 63.0 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 57.6 Cyborg (1989), 43.7 Double Impact (1991), 42.9 Fighting (2009), 41.0 The Quest (1996), 37.3 Nowhere to Run (1993), 26.4 American Assassin (2017), 24.6 A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave (1990);

BMT: Road House (1989), Kiss the Girls (1997), Universal Soldier (1992), Double Team (1997), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003), Knock Off (1998)

(Wow, we really loved kickboxing in the 90s! There is something about it. I’ve been doing “research” into non-theatrical stars in my free time, and one of the major conclusions I’ve come to is there are different eras of straight-to-video films. And the 90s was definitely the apex of martial artists being recruited to put out their weirdo non-films.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Rob Schneider is No. 2 billed in Knock Off and No. 1 billed in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, which also stars William Forsythe (No. 2 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 5 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Hong Kong superstar and director Sammo Hung served as the film’s 2nd unit director. The release print of “Knock Off” suffers from the removal of a lot of the martial arts action shot for the film, with a couple of sequences being very heavily edited. The final battle between Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character and Australian actor/stuntman Michael Miller is less than half of the action shot for their fight, and upon careful viewing you can pick up the fact that the fight has raged across several different sections on the boat, while the fight between Jeff Wolfe’s character Scar and Jean-Claude’s is the most heavily edited with more of the action being shown in the “Making Of” featured on several of the DVD editions than in the finished film.

The film is one of the last in the world to feature Kai Tak Airport still in use; the airport closed in 1998.

Turbulence Recap

Jamie

Ryan Weaver is a newly recaught serial killer being flown back to Los Angeles for trial. During the flight, one of the other prisoners escapes, resulting in the deaths of both pilots. Now a flight attendant, Teri, is the only thing that stands in the way of the maniac crashing the plane. Can she stop the bad guy and land the plane before it’s too late? Find out in… Turbulence.

How?! Ryan Weaver is a serial killer (or is he? (He is… just look at him)) who is being flown back to LA for trial after being recaught. Taking advantage of a Christmas Eve flight that is nearly empty, the marshals load him onto the plane with another prisoner, making the flight crew nervous. Teri, one of the flight attendants, is at first intrigued by Weaver, who comes across as charming (but also super duper Ray Liotta creepy) and not at all what she expects a serial killer to be like (besides his general serial killer vibe). It becomes only more confusing when the other prisoner is able to escape and take everyone hostage, but is ultimately subdued and killed by Weaver (but also it’s not confusing because Ray Liotta is a madman and obviously is playing a serial killer). As this has all happened, both pilots have ended up dead, leaving Weaver in charge and Teri the only one trying to stop the plane from crashing. Unfortunately, they are heading straight for a megastorm (oh no!) and things are looking pretty dire. Realizing that Teri is trying to save the plane and ruin his plan of having it crash into some populated area (interesting plan), Weaver lures her out of the cockpit and tries to scare her into submission. But he didn’t count on her grit and smarts cause she uses Weaver’s obvious attraction to her against him and is able to knock him down for the count and retreat back to the cockpit. At this point they are through the storm (really not much of a role in the film) and Teri is able to get the autopilot set for landing. Just then, though, Weaver destroys the autopilot and sets the plane back on a crash course (oh no!). Teri is able to barely save the plane and turn it around and begs for one more shot at saving their lives before being shot down. But Weaver has other plans as he busts into the cockpit and they have a final climactic fight, ending with Teri shooting Weaver. Getting back to the cockpit, Teri reengages the emergency autopilot and brings the plane in safely. THE END.

Why?! Survival, for the most part. Alternatively, Weaver’s motivations are all over the place. He’s a serial killer on death row so he’s really not trying to survive. He more seems annoyed that the detective who caught him was able to get a conviction by planting evidence. And even then mostly because that’s a blow to his ego. He wants everyone to know that he was in fact too smart to be caught by ethical means and is then hoping to crash the plane so that he can go out with a bang and show everyone how smart he is and how the detective didn’t win. It’s nuts, but also kinda refreshing for the insane person in a film to truly act insane. I guess that’s the benefit of casting Ray Liotta. He nails acting insane.

Who?! There honestly isn’t much for this section, but the captain of the plane is played by J. Kenneth Campbell. That would not be notable in any way other than his face is now burned into my brain because he plays a character, Flint Lukash, in the film Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday and it is the greatest acting performance of all time. In fact, don’t watch Turbulence. Watch that film instead. He is a mad man.

What?! Being on an airplane there are a number of products thrown about. Some Minute Maid orange juice clutched in terror, a Heineken ordered in jest, a Ford attached to the wheel of the plane (naturally). The Ford is even commented on in the script. Quite the achievement for a product placement. I also did want to note that the airline in the film is a fake one called TCA (Trans Continental Airlines). That would be totally uninteresting except that the former manager of the Backstreet Boys, Lou Perlman, used that company name as the front for his Ponzi scheme. Now at the time that the film was being made the Ponzi scheme was active, but not yet uncovered, so just a really weird coincidence.

Where?! There is a whole cycle we could do for film set on different modes of transportation or in a location that is not specific to a place in the world. Here this is truly a “plane movie” and boy is it ever. It also technically takes place in New York at the beginning and LA at the end. It’s very solid and very important to the plot. A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! And this one is a doozy. This film takes place on a Christmas Eve flight. You might be like, oh that’s fun, they mention that it’s Christmas Eve. No they don’t just mention Christmas Eve. This film IS Christmas Eve. Liotta is caught while out buying a Christmas present for his next victim. The plane is so decked out with Christmas decorations that it legit seems like a hazard of some sort. It’s a Wonderful Life is playing on the plane in the background of multiple scenes. It’s an A… It’s just an A.

This film is pure schlock. Probably the funniest thing about it is that the script seems to be written from the perspective that the audience is not supposed to know whether Weaver did it or not. There are hints that he may have been framed, the flight attendants chatter about how he seems so charming, and he’s nice and polite up to the point of seemingly saving the plane from the other, clearly evil prisoner. One problem… they cast Ray Liotta, creepiest man alive, to play Weaver. You have to chuckle when Liotta, innocently chatting up the flight attendants, comes across not as a charming, possibly framed man, but as a Ray Liotta crazy maniac. It’s almost like he read the script, got bored, skipped to the end and was like “crazy and creepy as fuck, got it” and then played it that way for the entire film. It’s genuinely funny. Add on top one of the most insane not-so-secret holiday films of our generation and I think it’s a pretty solid BMT. It is more entertaining than it actually deserved to be despite botching pretty much every aspect of the film, but maybe that’s what a BMT film is all about. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would call it Frequent Flayer. Get it? He’s a serial killer on a plane. Should we just call it Serial Killer on a Plane? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I knew basically nothing about this film before watching it. I was returning from a trip and watched it before completing the preview. So I kind of knew it starred Liotta and that it was an airplane thriller. That’s it. I was in for a wild (turbulent? Nope that isn’t a phrase) ride. What were my expectations? I guess I kind of hoped it tracked along with Con Air? Like a knock off Con Air. It came out around the same time so that made sense to me.

The Good – Hooooooooooooo boy, if you like insane performances there is nothing better than Liotta in this guy. Also, there is a “twist” in the beginning where they do a very small and short-lived head fake to make the viewer think “hey, maybe Liotta is a good guy.” That head fake is hilarious and so obviously a fake that it kind of makes the whole first act work. Without it and you’re left waiting for Liotta to break free of his chains (and all time and space and logic) and start chewing the plane apart like a gremlin in The Twilight Zone.

The Bad – Basically the rest of the film. Liotta’s performance actually belongs here because it is ludicrous. It might be one of the craziest villain performances ever. No one has ever gone more over the top than this. They throw a bunch of subplots against the wall to add drama to the film, but none of them work because they hinge on everyone in the film making terribly dumb decisions. If the main character had merely decided it was more important to stay in the cockpit and lock Liotta in the main portion of the plane, then most of the rest of the film could have been avoided quite easily I think. The film is also basically plotless … a serial killer gets on a plane and is trying to crash it. That’s it. Finally, they assemble a whole rag tag group of passengers in the beginning of the film … and then lock them in a back room 30 minutes in, never to be seen again. Presumably it is because they realized they couldn’t have Liotta kill them all, but they also couldn’t figure out how they wouldn’t overpower him once they realized he intended on crashing the plane? The whole film is insane!

The BMT – I think I’m a bit higher on this one than Jamie, but that is fine. Maybe it is because I watched it while actually on a plane (which was interesting … didn’t really bother me). It definitely gets me jazzed to develop an odd-setting-as-a-character cycle which breaks the mold of the normal state/country settings we are used to. Did it meet my expectations? I suppose since I didn’t have many expectations it had to. I should have been prepared for Liotta, but somehow I wasn’t. And he exceeded my expectations. It was like In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale all over again!

Roast-radamus – I’m going to throw out a minor Product Placement (What?) for Ford, which gave us the car that nearly takes out heroic plane down. Is this a Setting as a Character (Where?) for a plane in general? I think so. The plane is kind of a character. And boy does Ray Liotta go to town on our boy. It is definitely an excellent Secret Holiday Film (When?) because you know you can’t have a Die Hard Scenario unless it is set during Christmas. I also have to mention the kind of interesting Worst Twist (How?) as they initially seem to play up a “Liotta is innocent” like in The Fugitive, but then it becomes abundantly clear he is a psycho. I think it is a real twist despite the fact that they ignore it in the trailers for the film. And I think this has a decent shot at BMT as well solely due to Liotta’s b-b-b-b-b-bonkers performance.

StreetCreditReport.com – Surprisingly no cred really. You would think this of all things would get more play as it contrasts with Con Air and Air Force One around the same time. WatchMojo, which I think is run by IMDb, gave it honorable mentions for both best hijacking films, and best airplane crashes … boooooooo. I genuinely think this could be in the top 5 worst airplane films, and it might be one of the craziest serial killer performances by Liotta. So take that mainstream media, you missed out on this one.

You Just Got Schooled – So there are two straight-to-video sequels to this film, but I obviously wouldn’t watch either of those so … psych! I watched the second one, Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying. In this installment a class of people with a fear of flying, upon graduation, take a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles to celebrate. Little do they know there is a deadly toxin on board and a terrorist itching to use it! The film stars Tom Berenger most notably as the ground control operator trying to help bring the plane back to Seattle safely. The film is not that bad from a tv movie perspective. Usually tv movies are just boring and sad. This threw every hijacked plane twist at the wall and hoped something would stick, which was actually pretty entertaining. Combine that with a lead actor with stage combat training (who clearly insisted on using it), and a mysterious carton of milk Berenger drank throughout the film, and you have a winner in my book. I did not watch the third one though, Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal. But I didn’t need to as I had already seen it reviewed on Red Letter Media and had very little interest in experiencing the film for myself:

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Turbulence Quiz

Well yeah, I was on this airplane and there was maybe a serial killer? But then there was some super scary turbulence, I hit my head, and I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Turbulence?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What is the serial killer name that the media gives to Liotta’s character?

2) What crime did the other criminal, played by Brendan Gleeson, commit that got him put onto the Con Air? Oh was … that not the name they gave this flight?

3) Early in the flight both pilots are killed. How did each of them die?

4) How many people, in total, die during this ill-fated Con Air? Wait … for real, that isn’t what this movie is called? The name seems just so a propos!

5) The flight almost lands initially, but has to pull up at the last second. Why, and how did they solve the issue?

Answers

Turbulence Preview

“Look around, mates, this here is a jungle. The wild west. The outback. And I’m the king. So stick with me and you’ll be fine,” Alligator Steve says, pointing out all the different cliques on display in the middle school’s cafeteria. There are nerds, jocks, artistes, clowns, unicyclers, bare-knuckle boxers, demolition experts, animal wranglers, etc. Just the classics. But Steve is the coolest tween around and he’s somehow taken Rich and Poe under his wing. Thank god, because they were about to get pounded for being such uggo nerds (for real). As they sit down for lunch, Rich and Poe ponder the purpose of this quest. Are they just supposed to spend the rest of their lives in this nerd purgatory? Fat chance, thinks Rich, secretly flexing his muscles, there must be something more to all this. Returning to the conversation, Rich listens closely as Steve details exactly why this is the raddest and baddest middle school around. “The kids run the school, plain and simple. The teachers try to rein us in, but we just give em the ‘tude and it’s all icy, diglet my zoom?” Rich and Poe smile and nod, for they understand the latest lingo all the kids are using. So are they meant to bring order to the chaos, The Substitute style? That sure would be a test, considering this school doesn’t play by the rules that they’ve come to know and hate. Suddenly Alligator nudges them. “And here’s your next lesson, mates.” At that the cafeteria doors bust open and a clique of “cool girls” stroll in. It’s clear they don’t have time for nobody, let alone Rich and Poe: nerd alert central. But they are heading straight for their table and Steve whispers, “Get ready, this is gonna be a bumpy ride.” That’s right! We’re watching Turbulence. Like a lot of Action films, this followed the age old formula of Die Hard: trap a bunch of people somewhere with a terrorist/criminal and let them battle without the help of the authorities. This also has the added benefit of starring Ray Liotta before he became the Actor Who Looks Like He’s Wearing a Ray Liotta Mask (AWLLHWRLM, rolls off the tongue) and is a film that no one remembers exists. Killing three birds with one airplane. Let’s go!

Turbulence (1997) – BMeTric: 51.6; Notability: 46 

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(If this reached 5.0 that is absurd. This film is so obviously a terrible version of Con Air so like … how does anyone watch this and think “that was okay.” It is obviously not okay. If Nic Cage isn’t in the film then that is not okay!)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – There are more questions. Like, if a 747 sheers off the roof of a high-rise restaurant, wouldn’t that cause it to crash? Like, if a 747 plows through an outdoor billboard, wouldn’t that cause it to crash? Like, if it sweeps all the cars off the roof of a parking garage, wouldn’t that cause it to crash? Like, if it gets a truck caught in its landing gear, what would happen then? (“It’s a Ford!” a sharp-eyed observer says, in a line that–for once–I don’t think represents product placement.) Oh, yes, there are many moments I will long remember from “Turbulence.” But one stands out. After Lauren Holly outsmarts and outfights the berserk killer and pilots the plane through a Level 6 storm, the FBI guy still doubts she can land it. “She’s only a stewardess,” he says. To which the female air traffic controller standing next to him snaps, “She’s a . . . flight attendant!”

(This review is amazing. I love you Ebert. All great questions. And the answer for the most part is: yes, it would crash. About fifteen times the plane would have crashed. One hundred percent.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arr-4RGgJvU/

(I actually like the really unique start to the trailer. BTW, the reveal that Liotta is actually a bad guy is kind of a mini-twist in the beginning which they don’t even bother with (for good reason, it would be impossible to cut a trailer for the film which doesn’t feature Liotta maniacally chewing the scenery). Finally, the heavy metal soundtrack kind of previews the eventual third entry to the series which I will semi-review in my recap, so stay tuned.)

Directors – Robert Butler – (Known For: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes; Now You See Him, Now You Don’t; The Barefoot Executive; BMT: Turbulence; Notes: Hugely involved in a few television series like Remington Steele which he directed and consulted for. He also directed the pilot for the original Star Trek. This was his last feature film.)

Writers – Jonathan Brett (written by) – (Known For: The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club; BMT: Turbulence; Notes: Produced She-Devil somewhat randomly. Also nominated for an Oscar for a short film, The Dutch Master.)

Actors – Ray Liotta – (Known For: Marriage Story; Goodfellas; Identity; The Place Beyond the Pines; Blow; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Cop Land; The Iceman; Field of Dreams; Killing Them Softly; Heartbreakers; Bee Movie; Something Wild; Date Night; Kill the Messenger; Muppets Most Wanted; Youth in Revolt; Observe and Report; Narc; No Escape; Future BMT: The Son of No One; Operation Dumbo Drop; Go with Me; Crazy on the Outside; Revenge of the Green Dragons; The Identical; Forever Mine; Revolver; The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud; The Lonely Lady; Slow Burn; Even Money; Powder Blue; Better Living Through Chemistry; Unforgettable; Smokin’ Aces; Hannibal; Corrina, Corrina; Crossing Over; Flock of Dudes; BMT: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Turbulence; Wild Hogs; Notes: BMT Legend, his face looks like he is wearing a mask of his own face. He has a very crazy ad campaign for Chantix happening at the moment, which The Onion riffed on here.)

Lauren Holly – (Known For: Spirited Away; Dumb and Dumber; What Women Want; February; Sabrina; Any Given Sunday; Beautiful Girls; Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story; Tammy’s Always Dying; Field of Lost Shoes; Entropy; Future BMT: Down Periscope; How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town; Live Wire; A Smile Like Yours; After the Ball; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; No Looking Back; Band of the Hand; BMT: Turbulence; Crank 2: High Voltage; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 1998 for A Smile Like Yours, and Turbulence; Notes: Married to Jim Carey for a year. Co-starred opposite of Mark Harmon in the early seasons of NCIS.)

Brendan Gleeson – (Known For: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; 28 Days Later…; Troy; Edge of Tomorrow; Braveheart; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; Gangs of New York; In Bruges; In the Heart of the Sea; Cold Mountain; A.I. Artificial Intelligence; The Village; Mission: Impossible II; Beowulf; Paddington 2; Frankie; Safe House; Green Zone; Future BMT: The Smurfs 2; The Raven; Live by Night; Country of My Skull; The Tiger’s Tail; BMT: Turbulence; Assassin’s Creed; Notes: Irish. An accomplished fiddle player, he played in Michael Collins and Cold Mountain.)

Budget/Gross – $55,000,000 / Domestic: $11,538,235 (Worldwide: $11,538,235)

(That is catastrophic. For reference Con Air has a budget of around $75 million and made over $200 million. So this had roughly the same budget and made … 20x as much money. It is rough.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (3/18)

(Oooo I get to make one. Expensive but not expensive looking. Little more than a series of cliches strung together. Reviewer Highlight: Fasten your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be a cliche-cluttered ride. – Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today)

Poster – Ray Liotta’s Magical Plane Ride (B-)

turbulence

(That is terrible, but also kind of great. It’s creative in how it’s framed and with some sweet font. The big letters at the top are a terrible idea, but so bold you have to give it to them. This poster is like two decades late… feels like it’s for Avalanche or something.)

Tagline(s) – Can You Survive The Ride? (C)

(The ride… the ride… hmmmm. That doesn’t sound right. But fine, it does its job and kinda makes me think that there is a whole other category of tagline. The rhetorical question. A little generic though. Fits the theme of an old school disaster film, but it’s just not giving me much.)

Keyword – die hard scenario

Turbulence_die hard scenario

Top 10: The Dark Knight (2008), The Magnificent Seven (2016), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Leon (1994), Angel Has Fallen (2019), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), 13 Hours (2016), World War Z (2013)

Future BMT: 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 62.1 Half Past Dead (2002), 55.1 Knock Off (1998), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 49.7 Collateral Damage (2002), 47.7 Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), 46.7 Cop Out (2010), 46.6 Solo (1996), 44.6 Metro (1997), 44.5 The Purge (2013);

BMT: Angel Has Fallen (2019), The Expendables 3 (2014), Along Came a Spider (2001), London Has Fallen (2016), Doom (2005), Need for Speed (2014), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), Red Dawn (2012), Swordfish (2001), Tango & Cash (1989), Soldier (1998), Max Payne (2008), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), Skyline (2010), Punisher: War Zone (2008), Daylight (1996), Mercury Rising (1998), Firewall (2006), Getaway (2013), xXx²: The Next Level (2005), Alex Cross (2012), 88 Minutes (2007), On Deadly Ground (1994), Universal Soldier: The Return (1999), Fire Down Below (1997), Black Dog (1998), Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002), Turbulence (1997), Firestorm (1998), Extreme Ops (2002)

(The graph looks like what you would expect. This is a second-banana die hard scenario. And the genre came to a crescendo around 2000, and then briefly died. Interesting that people don’t seem to running it these days, but maybe it is just overplayed. Under Siege 2 is def the best one that we haven’t seen. And my god, we’ve seen so many of them!)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 9) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ray Liotta is No. 1 billed in Turbulence and No. 3 billed in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 9. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Despite its box-office failure when of its release, the movie managed to get two direct-to-video sequels due to the film’s good performance as being one of the most rented films of that year. (Ohhhhhh yeah, Red Letter Media reviewed the third one which straight up looks like an abomination)

MGM pulled trailers from theaters and temporarily suspended its marketing campaign after the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996.

The airliner used in the movie (N614FF) was a Tower Air Boeing 747-246B. The fictional TCA livery seen is very similar to Japan Air Lines’ livery but minus the Tsurumaru Crane Bird on the tail.

Was scheduled to be released in theaters for the 1996 holiday season, in tandem with the film’s Christmas setting, but was delayed to January 1997.

Catherine Hicks and Lauren Holly are talking about serial killers as the plane is loading. Hicks says “did you ever see Bundy, he was a charmer, Mark Harmon played him”. Holly later went on to star opposite Mark Harmon in NCIS. (Damn, I was going to add this trivia to IMDb! I got that one organically while watching the film. And in no way is that depressing)

The toy store in the movie in reality is a bookstore on the Main Street in Clinton, New Jersey, USA. There is a toy store on Main Street but it is in an alley and director Robert Butler didn’t like the exterior of the building. The bookstore’s front window was decorated with toys for the week of filming.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Lauren Holly, 1998)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property (1998)

Tango & Cash Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. Tango & Cash (or is it Rich & Poe?) check off all the boxes: Sly Stallone, Sly Stallone, and Sly Stallone. This is the preview for the film, a Hall of Fame induction speech will follow immediately afterwards. Enjoy!

Generated on: 2020-01-13

Tango & Cash (1989) – BMeTric: 21.3; Notability: 68 

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(The rating is actually a bit lower than I would have expected. This is a really really fun film, and a film I’ve seen mentioned online as being underrated. So I would have kind of expected it to me close to 7.0 to be honest. I guess it helps that the movie is just a bit too strange (especially near the end) for people to get entirely on board? Love the notability though. This was probably just after Stallone’s Imperial Phase (to borrow a term from music) which is maybe 1983 to 1988, but it is close.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Rumored $55 million budget must have gone for male hairstyling in congenitally derivative narc caper about two competitive cops who take on M.r Big. Surprisingly tolerable, though, with a nifty prison break sequence and a pleasingly relaxed Stallone.

(A pleasingly relaxed review by Leonard. Odd use of the word congenitally to be honest, but genuinely an interesting take on the movie as it was probably written at the time of release. I’m sure that is part of the reason the movie is merely borderline BMT, critics probably like “meh, fun”.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwzkxI6b9Go/

(This is an incredibly bad trailer for conveying what the movie is about. It’s an incredibly good trailer in that it condenses all the truly insane shit from the film into a short clip that genuinely makes me excited to watch it.)

Directors – Andrey Konchalovskiy – (Known For: Runaway Train; Shy People; Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence; Ray; The Inner Circle; Belye nochi pochtalyona Alekseya Tryapitsyna; Dom durakov; Future BMT: The Nutcracker in 3D; Homer and Eddie; BMT: Tango & Cash; Notes: Fired from the film by the ever erratic producer Jon Peters who was famous for the Superman/Wild Wild West giant mechanical spider story. He won an Emmy for the miniseries The Odyssey.)

Albert Magnoli – (Known For: Purple Rain; BMT: American Anthem; Tango & Cash; Notes: Brought in to finish the film. For a time he was Prince’s manager.)

Writers – Randy Feldman (written by) – (Known For: Hell Night; Future BMT: Metro; Nowhere to Run; La chispa de la vida; BMT: Tango & Cash; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Tango & Cash in 1990; Notes: Brother of Dennis Feldman, who wrote BMT films Species II and The Golden Child, along with a number of future BMT films.)

Actors – Sylvester Stallone – (Known For: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2; Creed II; Rocky; First Blood; The Expendables; Creed; Escape Plan; Rocky Balboa; Cliffhanger; The Expendables 2; Rocky III; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Rocky II; Cop Land; Bullet to the Head; Antz; Death Race 2000; Nighthawks; Escape to Victory; Future BMT: Escape Plan II; Staying Alive; Rocky V; Escape Plan 3; D-Tox; The Specialist; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Avenging Angelo; Backtrace; Ratchet & Clank; Collection; Assassins; Oscar; Rocky IV; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Driven; Zookeeper; Rhinestone; Get Carter; Judge Dredd; Rambo III; Cobra; Over the Top; Daylight; The Expendables 3; Rambo: Last Blood; Tango & Cash; Grudge Match; Lock Up; Rambo: First Blood Part II; Demolition Man; Rambo; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for Rocky IV in 1986; Winner for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Actor for Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1986; Winner for Worst Actor in 1985 for Rhinestone; in 1989 for Rambo III; and in 1993 for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Spy Kids 3: Game Over in 2004; Winner for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, and The Specialist; Winner for Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990 for Cobra, Cobra, Lock Up, Lock Up, Over the Top, Over the Top, Rambo III, Rambo III, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rhinestone, Rocky IV, and Tango & Cash; Nominee for Worst Director for The Expendables in 2011; Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1985 for Rhinestone; in 1986 for Rocky IV; in 1987 for Cobra; in 1989 for Rambo III; in 1991 for Rocky V; in 1994 for Cliffhanger; and in 2002 for Driven; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1987 for Cobra; in 1988 for Over the Top; in 1990 for Lock Up, and Tango & Cash; in 1991 for Rocky V; in 1992 for Oscar; in 1995 for The Specialist; in 1996 for Assassins, and Judge Dredd; in 1997 for Daylight; in 2001 for Get Carter; and in 2014 for Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan, and Grudge Match; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Driven in 2002; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn in 1999; Notes: I mean, come on.)

Kurt Russell – (Known For: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2; Forrest Gump; The Hateful Eight; The Christmas Chronicles; Fast & Furious 8; The Thing; Fast & Furious 7; Tombstone; Deepwater Horizon; Death Proof; Bone Tomahawk; Sky High; Stargate; Big Trouble in Little China; Executive Decision; Escape from New York; Grindhouse; Overboard; Future BMT: Captain Ron; The Best of Times; Crypto; Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; It Happened at the World’s Fair; BMT: Poseidon; Soldier; 3000 Miles to Graceland; Tango & Cash; Vanilla Sky; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Tango & Cash in 1990; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for 3000 Miles to Graceland in 2002; Notes: Double come on. It’s Kurt!)

Teri Hatcher – (Known For: Tomorrow Never Dies; Spy Kids; Coraline; 2 Days in the Valley; Planes: Fire & Rescue; Soapdish; The Big Picture; Resurrecting the Champ; Future BMT: Planes; Heaven’s Prisoners; Straight Talk; Madness in the Method; BMT: Tango & Cash; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress in 1997 for 2 Days in the Valley, and Heaven’s Prisoners; Notes: Probably best known for TV work, winning a Golden Globe for Desperate Housewives. Also was a 49ers cheerleader.)

Budget/Gross – $55 million / Domestic: $63,408,614 (Worldwide: $63,408,614)

(Modest hit. A little strange in that you have a film with two megastars, that was modestly popular at the time of its release, and yet usually when I mention this film to people my age they’ve never heard of it.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 31% (14/45): Brutally violent and punishingly dull, this cookie-cutter buddy cop thriller isn’t even fun enough to reach “so bad it’s good” status.

(Punishingly dull! Punishingly dull?! That’s just flat wrong. Not, cookie-cutter buddy cop thriller… that… that’s true. I will contend it’s clearly so bad that it’s good and Rottentomatoes should amend that consensus. Reviewer Highlight: The jokes seem lame and the rivalry fraudulent, as the two boys play with their big guns. – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune)

Poster – Rich & Poe (D)

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(The literal Rich & Poe poster. I even have a coffee cup with that image on it. Ironically it’s a really bad poster. Kinda violates all my rules. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: Probably my best fake movie poster ever. I got the graininess just right, and started to actually manipulate things in the image (like the glasses, which are just modified directly off of the picture of Stallone). Could have done better with the font I suppose.)

Tagline(s) – Two of L.A.’s top rival cops are going to have to work together… Even if it kills them. (C-)

(Egad, that’s long. It’s not even that clever when you think about it. They went for a double entendre, but it only really makes sense in one meaning. Also bad.)

Keyword – buddy movie

Tango&Cash_buddy movie

Top 10: Green Book (2018), The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019), Hall Pass (2011), The Other Guys (2010), Bad Boys (1995), Central Intelligence (2016), Men in Black (1997), Ice Age (2002), Hot Fuzz (2007), 21 Jump Street (2012)

Future BMT: 49.8 Gone Fishin’ (1997), 44.7 National Security (2003), 42.2 Transylvania 6-5000 (1985), 40.4 Hall Pass (2011), 39.7 Pink Cadillac (1989), 33.2 Sahara (2005), 31.9 Armed and Dangerous (1986), 27.9 Men in Black II (2002), 27.5 Rush Hour 3 (2007), 16.9 Bad Boys II (2003);

BMT: Wild Wild West (1999), Tango & Cash (1989), Double Team (1997), Another 48 Hrs. (1990), Hot to Trot (1988)

(This genre is really dying. It is kind of amazing. I’m very excited for all of the films that are coming up. They are almost universally great bad movies.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 10) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Sylvester Stallone is No. 1 billed in Tango & Cash and No. 1 billed in Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 10. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 8.

Notes – When Tango and Cash escape from the prison, Cash turns to Tango and asks if he stopped “for coffee and a Danish.” Tango says, “I hate Danish,” an in-joke referring to Sylvester Stallone’s recent divorce from Danish actress Brigitte Nielsen. (oof)

The glasses Sylvester Stallone wears early in the film are his own, not props. He usually wears contact lenses in his films. The lenses show that he is very near-sighted in one eye, less so in the other. Plus, he has astigmatism.

Director Andrey Konchalovskiy was replaced toward the end of principal photography by Albert Magnoli. In his book of memoirs, Konchalovsky says that the reason he was fired was because he wanted to give the film a more serious tone than the producers wanted, and as such, his relationship with Producer Jon Peters became untenable. Konchalovsky, however, has nothing but praise for Sylvester Stallone, who he states was a constant voice of reason on the set.

When Brion James was originally hired to play Requin, it was a very small role with only two lines. In an effort to give the character something that would make him stand out, James decided to speak in a horrible “cockney” accent. Sylvester Stallone loved it, and re-wrote the script to give Requin a much bigger role. (Jesus, Imperial Phase for real)

The scene where Tango faces an oncoming truck with nothing but a gun was borrowed from Ging chaat goo si (1985), where Jackie Chan performed the stunt. As a “response”, Chan would later reference the make shift zip-line prison escape moment in this film in a scene early in the third installment of the Police Story series, Ging chaat goo si III: Chiu kup ging chaat (1992) (Oh, fun)

Patrick Swayze was originally cast as Cash, but he dropped out to star in Road House (1989). (Good choice, although I feel like Tango & Cash would have benefited from his more serious attitude)

Kurt Russell was originally considered and offered the role of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987), but he turned it down, and it went to Mel Gibson, with whom he worked on Tequila Sunrise (1988). His character in this film is loosely based on Riggs.

While filming the scene in which the back of the SUV catches fire, the flames would not go out when filming was over. Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone were caught in a cross draft. Stallone was so close to the fire that his hair was singed in places.

Years later, Sylvester Stallone offered the role of “Mr. Church” to Kurt Russell in The Expendables (2010). Russell declined the role, which was then accepted by Bruce Willis.

A total of four different people directed the film. Andrey Konchalovskiy, who was fired after about three months of filming by Jon Peters, Sylvester Stallone, after the movie went over-budget and schedule (but not by his fault), Executive Producer Peter MacDonald, who was also the Second Unit Director, then took over directing on the movie for some time (a year earlier MacDonald had to step in as a director for Stallone’s previous movie Rambo III (1988) after the original director was fired by Stallone), then Albert Magnoli was hired as the new director to finish the movie (but even after principal photography was finished, he caused two more weeks of further delays after he decided to re-shoot some parts of the movie), and Stallone was also directing the movie behind the scenes (something he was known for, especially during the 80s). None of them however had any control over the editing of the movie. Instead, Warner Bros. hired expert editor Stuart Baird to re-edit the movie after they expressed strong dislike for the initial rough cut. Baird hired another editor Hubert de La Bouillerie to help out when Warner Bros. kept complaining on every different cut of the movie that was edited, which almost caused for release date to be pushed way further than planned.In the end, the movie was finally approved for theatrical release by Warner Bros., and it ended up being shipped to theaters only a week after its original release date, as “wet prints” – an industry term meaning that the movie was just barely completed before its release date.

One of the monster trucks at the quarry scene towards the end is the famous Bigfoot truck. Although it’s painted different colors than its trademark blue color, and does not feature any Bigfoot decals, it was confirmed that it is in fact Bigfoot by owner of the original monster truck Bob Chandler.

Originally, the part of Katherine, Tango’s sister was to be played by Daphne Ashbrook. She was not supposed to be Tango’s biological sister; possibly an adopted sister, or a foster child his parents took in. But, when they decided to make her his actual sister, they re-cast the role with Teri Hatcher, who slightly resembles Stallone. (I love that they give a shit about the actors looking the same, who cares?)

The tank-like SUV seen in the film (with a windshield shape resembling a 1990s-era Chevrolet Lumina APV minivan) was built from a 1988 Chevrolet K2500 truck. At the time of the film’s release, the vehicle resembled a GM concept (a 1987 Chevrolet Blazer XT-1) which was planned as a crossover-like SUV which was powered with a Chevrolet 4.3L V6 – the engine block and cylinder heads were cast in aluminum alloy. GM did not proceed with the Blazer XT-1 but its styling cues were used with the W-body “Dustbuster” minivans (Lumina, Oldsmobile Silhouette, and Pontiac Trans Sport).

Jack Palance jokingly showed his displeasure about filming this movie while on the tonight show with Jay Leno. He said that when he first got the script he was really excited about doing the movie since he had three nice scenes with Sylvester Stallone, but as soon as filming started all his scenes with Stallone were cut, and he didn’t even see Stallone throughout the entire movie. (That’s kind of sad)

Shortly after this film was released, there was a very lethal “brand” of heroin being sold in The Bronx, New York, NY. It was named “Tango & Cash”. This was stamped on the bags the drugs were contained in. So many addicts overdosed (and died), the NYPD was driving around neighborhoods using loudspeakers to tell people not to use this particular “brand” of heroin. This was reported on all the flagship network TV stations there as well.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone, 1990)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kurt Russell, 1990)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Randy Feldman, 1990)

After Earth Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. After Earth is this generation’s Battlefield Earth… you know if John Travolta had used Battlefield Earth as a way to insult his children. This is a preview, the hall of fame induction speech will immediately follow. Enjoy!

Generated on: 2020-01-12

After Earth (2013) – BMeTric: 74.9; Notability: 46 

AfterEarthIMDb_BMeT

AfterEarthIMDb_RV

(Exactly the rating I would expect, high fours is just right. The notability is much lower than you would think. I wonder if films starring huge actors tend to have lover notability even if the production is big. Since salaries have to be adjusted to accommodate the star.)

RogerEbert.com – 3.5 stars – “After Earth” is a lovely surprise. This film from producer-costar Will Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan, about a father and son marooned on a hostile future earth, is a moral tale disguised as a sci-fi blockbuster. It’s no classic, but it’s a special movie: spectacular and wise. … “After Earth” carries itself with confidence because it knows what it wants to say, and how to say it. The asteroid storm appears suddenly, as if willed into being by Poseidon stirring a cauldron with his trident. The design of the spaceship would make Odysseus feel at home: the ribs of its hull seem to be made of wood and bone. The skyscrapers on Nova Prime are built from triangular wedges that suggest a schooner’s sails. The warriors fight with blades. Ursa is Latin for bear. Kitai’s leap from a high cliff is a leap of faith. His name is Japanese for “hope.” This movie is a fable. Fables teach.

(Insane review! But I have to respect the legacy of Roger Ebert. He always had an interesting take on blockbusters and films being “good for what they are” and this review for his site basically does just that here. He liked the movie for what it is, ignoring things it didn’t necessarily need to be (well acted with a good story).)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r9IXze_tPM/

(Looks pretty cool when you put it that way. But we know better, because we’ve seen the glory of this movie. We’ve seen Jaden Smith becoming best friends with a bird.)

Directors – M. Night Shyamalan – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: Has started producing television, which honestly is where I would expect him to end up in a few years. I could see him doing something like Star Trek where you just throw big idea sci-fi at the screen with a medium-to-good hit rate. That genuinely seems missing from television these days.)

Writers – Gary Whitta (screenplay) – (Known For: Rogue One; The Book of Eli; BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Was an editor of PC Gamer for years.)

M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay) – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Stuart Little; Devil; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: The Sixth Sense is one of the most recent films that appear on the AFI Top 100.)

Will Smith (story) – (BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Created the television show All of Us which is nearly all of his writing credits. This is his only feature film credit. Otherwise he has a single story credit for an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.)

Actors – Jaden Smith – (Known For: The Pursuit of Happyness; The Karate Kid; Skate Kitchen; BMT: After Earth; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Noted weirdo, and I say that with total affection. He made waves a few years ago with his word-salad ramblings on social media. A rapper who claims he doesn’t see gender … or something like that.)

David Denman – (Known For: Brightburn; Logan Lucky; Power Rangers; 13 Hours; The Replacements; The Gift; Big Fish; Fair Game; Puzzle; The Nines; Smart People; Take; Beneath the Harvest Sky; Future BMT: When a Stranger Calls; Shutter; The Singing Detective; Fanboys; Men, Women & Children; BMT: After Earth; Jobs; Out Cold; Notes: You’d recognize him as Roy from The Office. He went to Juilliard with Alan Tudyk.)

Will Smith – (Known For: Spies in Disguise; Aladdin; Bad Boys; Men in Black; Independence Day; Men in Black 3; I Am Legend; The Pursuit of Happyness; Hitch; Focus; Hancock; I, Robot; Enemy of the State; Concussion; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Ali; Six Degrees of Separation; The Legend of Bagger Vance; Where the Day Takes You; Future BMT: Student of the Year 2; Made in America; Gemini Man; Suicide Squad; Shark Tale; Men in Black II; Bright; Bad Boys II; Collateral Beauty; BMT: After Earth; Wild Wild West; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: He is playing Serena and Venus Williams’ father in the upcoming biopic.)

Budget/Gross – $130,000,000 / Domestic: $60,522,097 (Worldwide: $243,611,982)

(Pretty close to doing fine(ish). If the budget was $100 it would be roughly break even. It is … basically Birds of Prey? A bit more expensive to make, and a little less domestic take.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 11% (23/203): After Earth is a dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi — and the latest setback for director M. Night Shyamalan’s once-promising career.

(Awwww that’s actually a really sad consensus. Feels filled with resignation, as if there was no other way this film could have been. I suppose in this case Rotten Tomatoes is right. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, are producers on “After Earth,” which suggests that there was no one on the production who could really say no to him. – Manohla Dargis, New York Times)

Poster – After Earf (C+)

after_earth

(Real father-son motif there, which is nice and helps me think this was all some tragic mistake and not something that Will Smith orchestrated to embarrass his son. Nice font too. I would have liked more of the blue-green in the color scheme and the construction works for a star vehicle, but doesn’t give any sense of what you are in for. It’s alright.)

Tagline(s) – Danger is real. Fear is a choice. (A-)

(A little on the nose, but works for the film. Particularly before you watch it. It grows on you the more you read it I think. Could have been a little cleverer I think, but that’s about it.)

Keyword – stranded

AfterEarth_stranded

Top 10: Dunkirk (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Kong: Skull Island (2017), The Martian (2015), Constantine (2005), Star Trek Beyond (2016), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Prometheus (2012), Cast Away (2000), Blockers (2018)

Future BMT: 62.4 The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), 57.9 House of Wax (2005), 55.0 Coneheads (1993), 42.0 Red Planet (2000), 39.4 The Forsaken (2001), 39.4 Six Days Seven Nights (1998), 31.0 Rugrats Go Wild (2003), 28.9 Flight of the Phoenix (2004), 20.6 Last Man Standing (1996), 20.3 The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995);

BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Jumper (2008), Soldier (1998), After Earth (2013), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

(This seems to go in waves. Which is pretty cool. Perhaps like Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. This keyword is closest to Wasteland, and the idea is that the tastes of generations cycle between the three ideas. Fighting against zombies, exploration through space, and surviving a post-apocalyptic wasteland.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Will Smith is No. 2 billed in After Earth and No. 1 billed in Wild Wild West, which also stars M. Emmet Walsh (No. 5 billed) who is in Christmas with the Kranks (No. 4 billed), which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch Hardball, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Although not credited on the finished film, co-writer/producer Will Smith was responsible for much of the movie’s direction. While M. Night Shyamalan was primarily in charge of the blocking (composition of shots, placement of the camera) and the visual aspects of the film (color and design), it was Will Smith who personally coached Jaden Smith in his performance and dictated the development of the story and the on-screen action. After both the story and acting were heavily criticized, Shyamalan decided to take the blame.

The original cut was 130 minutes long, and included more backstory on the decline of Earth and the formation of Nova Prime. However, the film was vastly re-edited after performing poorly at test screenings, and any actors playing Nova Primates were either reduced to extras or cut out entirely. The deleted footage will likely never be seen, as M. Night Shyamalan is satisfied with the theatrical cut.

The original idea for the film was a father and son on a camping trip. After the car they are traveling in careens off the road, the son makes his way through the forest to find help for the father. Realizing that the idea had greater potential, producer Will Smith and screenwriter Gary Whitta decided to adapt the basic survival concept into a much larger science-fiction project. (The original sounds better)

Will Smith, who had wanted to work with M. Night Shyamalan for several years but was unable to find a suitable project, personally hired him to direct. This became the first time in twenty years that Shyamalan accepted a project based on someone else’s screenplay, and the first film in Shyamalan’s career where he does not appear on screen.

Producer/co-writer Will Smith envisioned “After Earth” as a multi-platform franchise, including books, graphic novels, and interactive video games, which would all inform on and add to the ideas and concepts already developed in the finished film.

In a 2019 lecture at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Shyamalan publicly disowned his films The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), calling them “junk movies.” He added: “I did a couple huge, big-budget CGI movies. There has always been this inexorable pull to join the group; a constant seduction in the form of whatever you want to tally, in the form of money, or safety, ease, not getting criticized. I did these movies, and I rightfully got crushed, because they said, ‘You don’t believe in yourself, you don’t believe in your own voice, and in you don’t believe in your values.’ I felt really lost. It just didn’t work. There’s probably something Darwinian about all this.”

Eisner Award-winning comic writer Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger produced a 300-page “bible” covering the history of mankind, from their decision to leave Earth to the events depicted in the finished film. It was intended to serve as a resource for all kinds of ancillary materials in the After Earth (2013) franchise.

When Kristofer Hivju showed up on set, he got into a discussion with the make-up department, who wanted to cut his characteristic long hair and beard. Hivju was against it, and was even supported by Jaden Smith, but eventually lost out. To make matters worse, most of his role was eventually deleted from the final cut.

A series of spin-off novels, sub-titled “Ghost Stories”, have been planned to promote the movie, but are also intended to flesh out the concepts in the film itself. The titles of these books include ‘Innocence’, Peace, ‘Hunted’ and ‘A Perfect Beast.’ All books are written by writers Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger, with illustrations by Benito Lobel.

Second time that real-life father and son Will Smith and Jaden Smith play father and son on screen. The first time was in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).

The film takes place in 3071.

M. Night Shyamalan’s first digital film. The first feature film shot with Sony’s F65 digital camera.

The original screenplay was written by Gary Whitta based on an idea by Will Smith. In pre-production, M. Night Shyamalan did a few drafts of the screenplay to familiarize himself with the material, before passing it over to Stephen Gaghan, who stayed on as the chief screenwriter during production. Mark Boal, writer of The Hurt Locker (2008) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), also worked on the script.

To promote the movie, Harper Collins and Insight Editions published ‘After Earth: United Ranger Corps Survival Manual’ and ‘After Earth: Kitai’s Journal.’

Kristofer Hivju, Lincoln Lewis, and Isabelle Fuhrman had major supporting roles in the original cut though the majority of their scenes were deleted during post-production (In the theatrical cut Hivju has one scene, Lewis has one line, and only the back of Fuhrman’s head is visible in one shot – though her face can be seen in the trailer).

The word “ursa” is the Latin for “female bear”. The protagonist’s name Kitai is the Russian for “China”.

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Jaden Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Jaden Smith, Will Smith, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan, Will Smith, 2014)