Xanadu Recap

Jamie

Sonny is an artist with a little painter’s block. He’s lost his inspiration and sadly heads back to his dead-end advertising job. That is until a beautiful muse (literally) comes along and inspires him to the true heights of artistic achievement: teaming up with an old man to open a roller disco. Can he achieve his dreams (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Xanadu.

How?! Sonny is a pure artist. Unfortunately he’s lost his inspiration and in a fit of despair throws his work out the window. This work blows over to a painting of the Greek muses, which breathes life into them and brings them into the world. One of the muses, Kira, heads Sonny’s way and just as he is about to return to his dead-end advertising job she kisses him. Struck by this beautiful woman who randomly kissed him, Sonny is even more perplexed when the first advertisement he is asked to paint has her picture on it! He begins to try to track down who she is, but no one seems to remember. During his search he befriends a former big band musician, Danny, who has made a fortune in construction and the two artists strike up a friendship, recognizing in each other similar artistic qualities. Eventually Sonny catches up to Kira at the rundown Pan-Pacific Auditorium where they fall in love, but Kira still resists telling him anything about her. They have a magical time together, eventually inspiring Sonny to quit his job and go into business with Danny to try to revamp the auditorium into a roller disco club. With her job done Kira reveals that she’s a muse and they can’t be together and leaves Earth. However, through the power of love Sonny follows her to her home where she reveals to her father that despite the rules, she has indeed fallen in love with Sonny and wishes to go to Earth to be with him. Initially she is refused and Sonny sadly returns to Earth to open the club, but he’s soon delighted to find Kira has returned for the big night and they probably smooch and shit. THE END.

Why?! Art and love, duh. It is a literal metaphor for the power of love to inspire artistic greatness. Kira is Sonny’s muse, literally, and through her he is able to achieve the pinnacle of artistic achievement… a roller disco… which obviously is the pinnacle of artistic achievement. Goes without saying.

Who?! This is a fun one. The Tubes were the band that showed up in a dream sequence for this film. Still active. There is also a film-within-a-film which starred David Tress and Madison Arnold. A classic 40’s gangster film, which seems to be a trend when people make fake film-within-films. Then, while he isn’t credited as Zeus, I believe Wilfred Hyde-White voiced him. Best known for My Fair Lady.

What?! Like all films of the late 70’s into the 80’s, this could be perceived as an advertisement for rollerskating. Everyone is quite into it. Because this does hold some cult attraction it’s not surprising that legit memorabilia shows up on ebay here and there. Like these original wardrobe drawings. You’d actually think more would be around, but probably the failure at the time got most of the props trashed. Who would think they’d eventually have value?

Where?! Kind of an incredible LA film. You got the beach, you got the boardwalk, and the big time roller disco they open up is in the old Pan-Pacific Auditorium. At the time it was just declared a historic building and so seemed to have some local standing as a place of note. I’m sure the idea of it being transformed into something shiny and new was appealing to the filmmakers. Alas, nine years later it was destroyed in a fire. A.

When?! Patrick helped with this one. At one point in a dinner you can see a calendar. The exact year and month is not discernable (until I purchase the original print and get it remastered), but it seems likely that the film is portraying events in July 1980, approximately when the film was released. Not solid, but interesting possibility. C-.

There is a joy to this film where I believe if you open yourself up to it (and ignore some obvious shortcomings) you can honestly have a ball. It reminds me a little of Cats. Obviously the crazy cat monsters and ridididiculous everything about that film can’t possibly translate into it being actually, unironically good. But… doesn’t mean I wasn’t watching Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat prance about with a smile on my face. I enjoyed the pure enthusiasm for rollerskating and dance that I was seeing. I enjoyed Olivia Newton-John singing nicely and looking beautiful. I even enjoyed weirdo Gene Kelly trying on a series of crazy 80’s outfits in his Pretty Woman turn. It’s a fun bad movie that is weird enough that I could imagine pretty confidently showing the film off at a bad movie screening. Few will have seen it, many will be bewildered by what they are seeing, while most will still get some laughs and enjoyment out of it. Overall I was surprised by Xanadu. Particularly since Xanadu was one of the films that inspired the Razzies. The other? Can’t Stop the Music, another weird musical from 1980. But that one is terrible. This is not. As for Punmpkinhead II: Blood Wings, what is there to say about a cheap sequel to a pretty fun original horror film. Not much. It’s cheap and filled with actors that scream “this is a direct-to-video movie so maybe the presence of Bill Clinton’s half-brother will be juuuust enough for you to watch this.” At times it feels like they didn’t even really understand (or even possibly watch) the original film before embarking on the sequel, which is a shame. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are on a streak of good films, so Xanadu will obviously break that cycle … or will it? Did I secretly love Xanadu? You’ll have to read the recap to find out! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Ever since watching Can’t Stop the Music the next big BMT musical sensation was obviously going to be … Cats, and it still is Cats actually because Cats is the greatest film ever made. But before Cats it was supposed to be Xanadu! An absolute classic in bad movie circles, not least of which because it was one of the original films that inspired the Razzie awards. What were my expectations? Disco singing sensation? I assumed it would be like Can’t Stop the Music which was a ludicrous barely-movie that I don’t even really remember. So … that.

The Good – Wait for it … I kind of dug this film. It isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but with Gene Kelly and the whole story about big band nightclubs, all mixed together with 80s disco and rollerskating, something about it was maybe the most unique film I’ve seen in a long long time. Unlike Can’t Stop the Music I would happily watch this film again some time. This is a bad film, but it is also an interesting and mostly harmless film. Best Bit: The wild 15 minute long musical sequence that ends the film incoherently.

The Bad – The reviews naturally nail it. The direction was rough, the film looked cheap, the actors weren’t very good (although I liked Olivia Newton-John), and the musical numbers couldn’t save it. The films ends like seventeen times near the end, there is a whole story about Greek muses. And then three words: sexy animated animals. Somehow, among the madness that is this film, the two main characters become cartoon characters and then transform into two fish and two birds, and Olivia Newton-John is, for lack of a better description, a sexy fish and a sexy bird. What is with animators and the insistence on drawing sexy animals. It is so weird. Fatal Flaw: Sexy animals as usual … naw I’m joking, it is a crap special effects that undermine the actual decent music.

The BMT – Out of all of the 80s musicals this is by far the most interesting for BMT, and I just can’t see how any other film takes that crown from Xanadu. Do I dare? Do I dare call this film a good movie? No. I mustn’t. But it is darn close, and that is a shock! I would have never imagined Xanadu would be anything by a catastrophe. Did it meet my expectations? It wildly exceeded them. I expected Can’t Stop the Music, but instead kind of got like … Newsies maybe? Like Newsies but with ELO, bad effects, and a dumb Greek muse story.

Roast-radamus – A decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles, where Gene Kelly plays jazz clarinet on the beach, natch. And a borderline Exact Date (When?) for maybe like … July 1980? There was a calendar and you can see that the month has 31 days and the 13th is a Sunday, so I assume it is July. Maybe it is Fourth of July and this is a holiday film? I think the weird mix of good and bad from the film makes this a decent BMT in the end.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Definitely a Sequel. Bring back Olivia Newton John and Michael Beck and now they are the ones in the Gene Kelly role. Retired long ago and living happily together, Xanadu was sold off, replaced, and forgotten, its place in the world lost along with the 80s … that is until 80s nostalgia hits hard! The old site of Xanadu becomes an ironic pilgrimage site for those rad hipsters who love all things Stranger Things. Olivia Newton-John, aka Terpsichore, is invariably drawn to Xanadu. There’s dancing, and signing, and eventually Michael Beck and Olivia Newton-John team up with Twitch star LolXanadu4Life (played by a real like Twitch streamer who I’m not going to name since I don’t know any of them) to create a cross between an arcade and microbrewery all wrapped up in a Twitch themes ESPN Zone situation. It’s super sweet, and super ironic, and all the rad hipsters love it. It ends with a 45 minute 80s themes song and dance number. Xana2: Legacy.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Naturally for Xanadu we brought along … Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings? Obviously I had to watch both of the Pumpkinhead films for this bit. The first? Is quite good. It is a really cool contained story about witch’s curses and the regret a good man has for unleashing the demon Pumpkinhead on a group of mostly innocent teenagers. The practical effects are incredibly impressive, and as a self-contained story it is really cool. And then they made a pointless direct-to-video sequel. The sequel looks like absolute trash. It stars the star of Hellraiser, and has multiple cameos by horror villains (e.g. Kane Hodder, the best Jason), but eventually as the creature starts really killing people it just goes over a cliff and all of the characters go insane and … I didn’t know what was happening anymore. Apparently filmed in 23 days with a director hired the day before shooting essentially, I have a feeling they realized they were doomed from the start and just decided to have fun with it. Guess who didn’t have fun with it? This guy. D. Much like the sequels to Basket Case this just couldn’t capture the charm and raison d’etre of the first to make it worth my while.

You Just Got Schooled – And now to reveal why Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is the friend for Xanadu … it’s because Pumpkinhead II has a video game tie-in! Against all odds they made Blood Wings: Pumkinhead’s Revenge, a PC game which, first, barely works, and second, appears to just be a rip-off of Doom? It is a really weird game that I couldn’t quite figure out. Like, you are fighting skeletons (not in the film) and then travelling to the Netherworld (not in the film) to capture crystals (not in the film), which then allow you to I guess watch FMV video from the movie? I wouldn’t know about the last bit because the game basically doesn’t work and I couldn’t figure out how to capture the crystals. Unfortunately, the one video I could find of someone playing they had about as much luck getting crystals as I did … how do I keep playing the worst games ever made for this section? How is Little Nicky by far the best movie tie-in for a BMT film we could find? F.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Xanadu Quiz

Oh man, so I was roller skating along the beach and saw this mural of a bunch of ladies. And I got all excited and smashed right into the wall thinking I could enter the glorious world of those ladies. Instead I got a massive concussion and now don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Xanadu?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Where does Michael Beck first see the magical dreamgirl Olivia Newton-John?

2) Where does Michael meet the wizened (and very rich) Gene Kelly, and what is his connection to music?

3) The club, which is to be called Xanadu, has competing visions manifest as a battle of imaginary bandstands. What are the two visions?

4) In a very weird animated sequence our two protagonists become two different animals, which?

5) Who is Olivia Newton John really?

Bonus Question: How long did Xanadu stay open?

Answers

Xanadu Preview

Jamie completes a perfect jetski backflip, narrowly avoiding the torpedoes shot by the toy-sized submarine. Suddenly the engine of the jetski begins to sputter and Jamie knows that drastic times calls for drastic measures. He takes a tiny hammer and breaks the emergency glass on the jetski’s Mello Yello store. Breaking out the well known catchphrase, “Time to say hello to Mello Yello, fellow,” Jamie pours the contents into the gas tank. What Jamie loves about speed is controlling it, you know? But while the Dew is doable, Mello Yello is an uncontrollable beast and soon he’s swerving wildly about the unexpectedly large pool housed within the toy factory. He careens off the submarine’s sail, puncturing and ultimately sinking the drone, but that doesn’t solve all of Jamie’s problems. He’s still on a Mello Yello powered death machine and it’s heading right for the wall of the tank. Gulp. He throws up his hands to shield his face from irreparably sexy scars and bursts through the wall into a stuffy board meeting of the toy company’s executives. The head of the company shifts nervously as sweat beads on his forehead. No one was meant to know about his submarine antics and yet here it is on full display. Thinking fast, Jamie puts an arm around the CEOs shoulder and loudly exclaims, “and that’s what this noble man thinks of war toys! Instead he’s going to be teaming up with the latest Rich & Poe release to show how this company is all about justice and friendship, just like Rich & Poe, who will continue to be very much alive.” The room breaks out in applause as the executive wipes sweat from his brow and whispers, “Welcome to the Super Dope Toys family…. Or as we call it: Xanadu.” That’s right! We are going full 80’s magic for real with the Olivia Newton-John masterpiece Xanadu. And by masterpiece I mean that it was partially responsible for the creation of the Razzies and also legit had one of the biggest soundtracks of that year. Let’s go!

The mastermind of the deaths of Rich and Poe stares daggers at the Bad Movie Twins cyborgs from the shadows. “You pumpkinheads, they are getting too close. The buzz around this FMV music video game is growing. Something must be done…” And with that he lets out a terrifying cackle. That’s right! We’re teaming up Xanadu with Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. Why? Because we can and also it’s one of the few direct-to-video films we found that had a video game release, which seems insane. That being said, the original Pumpkinhead is great. Let’s go!

Xanadu (1980) – BMeTric: 44.2; Notability: 66

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 6.5%; Notability: top 2.3%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 17.2% Higher BMeT: Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again; Lower RT: Can’t Stop the Music, The Blue Lagoon, Hardly Working, Roadie, Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again, The Hollywood Knights, Wholly Moses!, Galaxina, The Boogey Man, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, The Nude Bomb, Where the Buffalo Roam, Heart Beat, The Apple, He Knows You’re Alone; Notes: 1980 as a BMT film year is pretty sparse, almost non-existent. It is the last year that one could argue there isn’t particularly good box office data, and so on occasion we have to “cheat” to get the actual bad 1980 films into BMT. A notability of 66 though? That ain’t cheating brotha! That legitimately might be the biggest film of the year. How?!

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – “Xanadu” is a mushy and limp musical fantasy, so insubstantial it keeps evaporating before our eyes. It’s one of those rare movies in which every scene seems to be the final scene; it’s all ends and no beginnings, right up to its actual end, which is a cheat.

(I don’t even really know what that means. I guess I should be prepared for it to end, like, seven times like Return of the King or something? And how does that review snippet equal two stars? Ebert in the 80s was a complex critical animal.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT0wRGBhNwE/

(What is the deal with roller skating in musicals in 1980 specifically. Steve Guttenberg was also roller skating all over the place in Can’t Stop the Music. A very matter of fact trailer. You like Olivia Newton-John right? Awesome, you’ll like this film with roller skating. She sings in it.)

Directors – Robert Greenwald – (Known For: Breaking Up; Steal This Movie; Sweet Hearts Dance; Future BMT: Hear No Evil; BMT: Xanadu; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director for Xanadu in 1981; Notes: Nominated for three Emmys most recently for the mini-series A Woman of Independent Means. Was a huge television movie director in the 80s and 90s and then founded Brave New Films in 2001 and has been a huge documentarian since.)

Writers – Richard Christian Danus (written by) – (BMT: Xanadu; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Xanadu in 1981; Notes: Wrote a bit for television including two episode of Crime Story which was produced by Michael Mann.)

Marc Reid Rubel (written by) – (Known For: Big Business; Almost Summer; BMT: Xanadu; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Xanadu in 1981; Notes: Also wrote Prince of Bel Air starring Mark Harmon. Not much about him, not even in the trades.)

Actors – Olivia Newton-John – (Known For: Grease; The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee; She’s Having a Baby; A Few Best Men; Sordid Lives; It’s My Party; Score: A Hockey Musical; Toomorrow; Funny Things Happen Down Under; Future BMT: Two of a Kind; BMT: Xanadu; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 1981 for Xanadu; and in 1984 for Two of a Kind; Notes: Had five songs go to #1 on the US Billboard charts. Her father was a medical doctor who invented a portable iron lung.)

Gene Kelly – (Known For: Singin’ in the Rain; An American in Paris; Anchors Aweigh; Inherit the Wind; Cover Girl; Brigadoon; On the Town; Take Me Out to the Ball Game; What a Way to Go!; The Pirate; Les Demoiselles de Rochefort; A Guide for the Married Man; The Three Musketeers; Let’s Make Love; 40 Carats; Ziegfeld Follies; Du Barry Was a Lady; Marjorie Morningstar; Summer Stock; BMT: Xanadu; Notes: His last on screen film role. He was nominated for one Academy Award (for Anchors Aweigh) and received an honorary Oscar in 1952.)

Michael Beck – (Known For: The Warriors; Blackout; The Hard Ride; Warlords of the 21st Century; Forest Warrior; Triumphs of a Man Called Horse; The Golden Seal; Future BMT: Megaforce; BMT: Xanadu; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Xanadu in 1981; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Megaforce in 1983; Notes: Grew up in Arkansas and went to school in Mississippi. The funniest note on his IMDb I think is that he was the voice for the book-on-tape version of Runaway Jury by John Grisham.)

Budget/Gross – $20 million / Domestic: $22,762,571 (Worldwide: $22,762,571)

(Yeah, a financial disaster. In its defense, according to the notes, it was supposed to cost $5 million, but then they overran. If they had come in on budget it would have probably been fine.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (12/42): Not even spandex and over-the-top musical numbers can save Xanadu from questionable acting, unimpressive effects, and a story unencumbered by logic.

(I’m just here for the music, man. I’m not looking for nonsense like “logic” and “acting”. Reviewer Highlight: An experience so vacuous it’s almost frightening. – Ian Birch, Time Out.)

Poster – Xana-Don’t!!

(Uh… I don’t really know what to think about this. I guess I like that it’s kind of like a painting and the font is obviously one of the best of all time. But it’s not eye catching other than in a ‘WTF is that?’ kind of way and the white background is a mistake. Seems more like a joke than a real poster, but it’s not all that bad. C+.)

Tagline(s) – A Fantasy, A Musical, A Place Where Dreams Come True. (C-)

(While the poster is a bit mysterious and odd, this is just a bad tagline. They try to go for the rule of 3, but I don’t think they go together and then they end up with something far too long.)

Keyword – disco

Top 10: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Ready Player One (2018), Fatal Attraction (1987), Scarface (1983), Boogie Nights (1997), EuroTrip (2004), American Hustle (2013), Dark Shadows (2012), Ted (2012), Carlito’s Way (1993)

Future BMT: 70.0 The Unborn (2009), 64.9 In the Mix (2005), 63.7 Boat Trip (2002), 59.8 Staying Alive (1983), 51.7 You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), 42.0 Virtuosity (1995), 41.3 The Kitchen (2019), 33.9 Shark Tale (2004), 33.6 Along Came Polly (2004), 33.3 54 (1998);

BMT: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), Romeo Must Die (2000), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

(The 90s really didn’t like disco very much huh? Well, we have probably the last true blue BMT disco film left after this in Staying Alive in 1983. So that’s something to look forward to.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 25) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Sandahl Bergman is No. 9 billed in Xanadu and No. 3 billed in Red Sonja, which also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 4 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 9 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 25. If we were to watch Two of a Kind, and Shout we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – After Kira tells Sonny she is one of the Greek muses, she starts to say, “My real name is Terp” but Sonny shushes her and she never reveals her real name. She is there to help him open a dance club, and she is obviously a dancer, so her name is most likely Terpsichore, after the Greek muse of dance–although in the stage adaption of the film she was Clio, muse of history.

According to Olivia Newton-John, the script was written during filming.

The soundtrack was an enormous success. The song “Magic” went to #1 on the US pop singles chart. In the UK the soundtrack album peaked at #2, and the single “Xanadu” was #1 for two weeks in July 1980.

The Pan Pacific Auditorium, on Beverly Boulevard in Hollywood near CBS’ Television City, was used for exterior shots of the Xanadu Club. It was built in 1935 and destroyed by a fire in 1989. A community center now sits on the site, featuring a single version of the Pan Pacific’s four curved art-deco spires.

Olympic skater Peggy Fleming helped plan the skating scenes.

The choreography in the Gene Kelly-choreographed “Whenever You’re Away From Me” is nearly identical to the choreography in the title number from For Me and My Girl (1942), in which starred Kelly with Judy Garland.

Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John’s dance number was shot after filming had finished. Kelly choreographed it. His conditions included a closed stage with only himself, Newton-John, a cameraman, a choreographer he had befriended and two others.

Gene Kelly took the part of Danny McGuire because filming was a short drive from his Beverly Hills home.

Olivia Newton-John met Matt Lattanzi, who had a minor role, during filming. Afterward Lattanzi accompanied her to Australia on a promotional visit for the film and met her parents. Lattanzi and John married in 1984, had one child, Chloe Lattanzi, and divorced in 1995.

Famously received the one sentence review: “In a word, Xana-don’t”. (I thought I had invented that!!!)

This film, playing as a 99-cent double-feature with Can’t Stop the Music (1980), inspired John Wilson to create the Golden Raspberry Awards (a.k.a. Razzies), honoring the worst achievements in film. Robert Greenwald later won the first Worst Director Razzie Award.

The film was adapted into a Broadway musical, which caused a lot of controversy due to the poor reception of the film. However, the musical was actually a satire of the film, and was therefore praised for its humor. It opened in 2007, starring Kerry Butler as Kira and Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny. The show ran for over 500 performances and was nominated for the Best Musical and Best Book Tony’s.

According to the two-page booklet included with the DVD, the film was originally conceived as a low-budget roller-disco movie. The imminent release of Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979) and Roller Boogie (1979) prompted many changes, like blending 1940s and 1980s styles.

The original budget was $4 million, but costs rose to $13 million. Universal head Ned Tanen fired Joel Silver, who immediately went to work for his friend and mentor Lawrence Gordon, who was also a producer on the film, and put Silver back on the project.

This film is one of three disco musicals released in 1980. The others were The Apple (1980) and Can’t Stop the Music (1980). (We’ll have watched two of three then!)

Despite the film’s poor reputation, the soundtrack peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Charts and it was awarded double platinum.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst ‘Musical’ of Our First 25 Years (2005)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Robert Greenwald, 1981)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Lawrence Gordon, 1981)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Michael Beck, 1981)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Olivia Newton-John, 1981)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Richard Christian Danus, Marc Reid Rubel, 1981)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (John Farrar, 1981)

Rising Sun Recap

Jamie

Web Smith is a police liaison called in to mediate a homicide found during a big time Japanese business’s gala. Surprisingly he is asked to bring along Capt. Conner, a police expert on Japan. Soon it becomes clear that there is more to the homicide than the company will let on. Can Web and Conner untangle the dastardly web of deceit before it’s too late? Find out in… Rising Sun.

How?! Web Smith is just trying to raise his daughter and do his job as a police liaison. One night he gets a call to help mediate a homicide call at a highfalutin Japanese business gala attended by all the bigwigs in town. Curiously, he is also asked to pick up Captain Conner, a semi-retired police expert on Japan. When they get to the crime scene the party continues uninterrupted while the crime scene is teaming with the company’s men. It becomes clear that they just want the whole thing dismissed, but Web and Conner are suspicious. Particularly when they discover that some of the tapes are missing from the state-of-the-art surveillance in the building. They suspect the boyfriend of the victim, Eddie, in the crime and cover up and when the missing disc shows up it appears to confirm their suspicions. They raid Eddie’s house only to have him flee and appear to die in a fiery crash. The next day they find that Eddie attempted to contact them about the missing disc and so they decide to take it to an expert who shows them how the film was manipulated. Returning to Web’s apartment, Web and Conner are shocked to find Eddie there alive and well. Someone else had died in the crash. He gives them the original surveillance tape, but the Yakuza show up and kill him and attempt to kill Web. After regrouping they view the tape and find that the killer appears to be Senator Morton, a powerful politician who was holding up a big acquisition for the Japanese company. The tape was being used to blackmail him, but in fact showed that someone else came into the room and killed the girl after he left. Wanting to smoke out the rat, Web and Conner go to a big meeting at the company and show the tape. Panicking, one of the lawyers flees and is ultimately killed closing the case, although leaving doubts as to how high the conspiracy could have gone. Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! Unfortunately, Web’s motivations are the least interesting in the film. Just doing his job. The Japanese company is a bit more interesting. They want to acquire an American microchip company , which is causing some concern in the government due to the connection of that company to national defense. Senator Morton initially is blocking the merger in the name of sovereignty, but ultimately is swayed though blackmail. Low key the most interesting motivation is Conner, who is semi-retired and living it up golfing and chilling with the wealthy Japanese businessmen of LA. There is some implication that he ends up turning a blind eye to the involvement of some of the particularly powerful people involved in the crime in order to keep his good standing (and great tee times) with them… kind of a last minute anti-hero twist for Connery.

Who?! Rooted in “real” economic concerns, the film also has “real” TV news entertainment segments in it. This includes a segment with Senator Morton hosted by Michael Kinsley and including a few well known journalists. Most interesting of the bunch is Pat Choate who went on to be Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election. Given his political stances, it actually makes perfect sense he appears in this film.

What?! There is something to be said here about fake businesses cooked up for BMT films. Here Nakamoto is portrayed as a powerful keiretsu housed in the Two California Plaza skyscraper. In Die Hard they have the fictional Nakatomi corporation housed in the Fox Plaza. Same companies? Different companies? Doesn’t matter. It tells you where Hollywood’s headspace was heading into the early 90’s collapse of the Japanese economy. 

Where?! Extremely solid LA film, to the point where I think you’d have to give it an A. I’m not sure there is another city in the United States that you could set this film and for it to still make sense. Unless you were to change the focus and thus the name… and thus pretty much everything about it. Funny enough, I think I had always assumed this was a film set in Japan. Tells you how little I knew about it before diving in.When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

There were a number of critiques levied at the book and then the film adaptation for their portrayals of Japanese culture and business practices. For good reason! The book is even harsher, but you get the drift from the film as well. An unending stream of pejorative statements about Japanese business and America’s willingness to sell to them. Crichton defended the book as a purely economic argument, which might have gone over better if the Japanese economy wasn’t in the midst of a severe crash at the time of publication and then the film’s release. So it comes off as more rooted in xenophobia than the economic reality of the situation. All that being said up front, I think the film is otherwise just an adequate buddy cop police procedural. At times it lacks some direction and forward momentum, but I actually think it’s a bit of an improvement over the book. The book is just kinda boring, with a pretty bland main character and then Conner, who was clearly written with Connery in mind (but aren’t all Crichton characters… think about it). It feels like Crichton was more interested in getting his specific (offensive) point across and then built a generic police procedural around it. Of his books I’ve read it’s pretty easily my least favorite. As for After We Collided, I enjoyed watching the first one, I enjoyed watching this one, and I’ll enjoy watching the next one. They are real dumb and chock full o’ product placement, which gives a good laugh. I will also contend that, unlike Fifty Shades, this series actually has a purpose. It is about a young girl in love with an addict and the hope and desire that their love can ultimately overcome his trauma and his disease. He is not a bad person, but he has a problem and the depiction of their relationship is done more deftly than this dumbo series kinda deserves. So it’s not total trash. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A pinch of noir, a dash of buddy cop, and juuuuuuuuuust a little (read: a lot) of cultural insensitivity, and you got a Rising Sun cooking baby! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This movie has actually been on my radar for a long time … although mostly because I’ve been continually disappointed it wasn’t set in Japan. It would definitely be the best set-in-Japan bad movie ever, but alas, they set it in Los Angeles like dummies. Yawn. Always fun to hit up a Crichton though, they always scream “90s” to me. Just something about him. What were my expectations? I had a problem: I hadn’t seen much noir, and I hadn’t seen much Snipes. So I was mostly going into it curious to see how it played.

The Good – I liked the dynamic between Snipes and Connery. It works as an odd couple pairing. A despite the Hollywood-style exploration of Japanese business culture that feels both racist and immediately outdated, I did enjoy the specific moment where they exposed Connery’s character’s hypocrisy, specifically his attitude towards the bribe he was effectively given early in the film. Among an otherwise muddled film there were a few things that still seemed to at least focus the film in an interesting way. Best Bit: The buddy cops.

The Bad – I mean … the immediately outdated and racist portrayal of Japanese customs and business culture? That’s it isn’t it? Even if you wanted to dismiss that all as pearl-clutching nonsense, the film was made in 1993, well after the Japanese economy entered a recession, and so at very best the Japanese business villains come across as Hollywood feeling around for a Big Bad after the collapse of the USSR. Other than that boring and borderline confusing are probably the biggest slights. Fatal Flaw: Racism.

The BMT – This is certainly a unique film at the very least. I’m not sure how many other films even exist with the Japanese business world as the bad guy … Gung Ho maybe. Remember that film? About like … making a lot of cars or something? Anyways, I think I ultimately enjoyed the underlying noir element too much to think about watching this again, but the specific time it was made makes it an interesting one time watch. Did it meet my expectations? As a noir I guess not, I kind of expected Connery to be a PI. But maybe once I watch more noir I’ll know better. As a Snipes film also maybe not? I got the distinct feeling he was playing himself in the film, but I haven’t watched enough of his films to know better. I’m giving myself an Incomplete on this assignment.

Roast-radamus – A pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) because how can you create a noir film without setting it in LA? A very amusing, and borderline super-secret holiday film, Exact Temporal Setting (When?) for the fact that all of the events take place between February 9th and February 13th, one day off from being an incredible Valentine’s Day film! And finally Worst Twist (How?) for having the same twist as The Skulls whereby the person who was killed wasn’t actually dead until someone else came into the room and killed her! Solid stuff, with the overall film being closest to Good I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The Sequel is obvious here. A year after the events of the film Webster Smith gets an urgent letter from Jingo Asakuma that John Conner is back in Japan and in serious trouble! But when Webster arrives in Tokyo neither Conner or Asakuma can be found. In fact, Conner is wanted for question in connection to the disappearance of Asakuma a week prior. Huh, how odd. Webster, using some of the connections he had developed from the first film, ends up unwinding the strange tale of Conner’s return to Japan after decades in self-exile to discover who was responsible in the death of his old friend Yoshida. Along the way the daughter of the desk bound and contrite Ishihara helps Webster to navigate the underworld of modern Tokyo and the ever changing dynamics of the international business world. You have to know what the name is right? … Setting Sun. Boom, I think I just sold that spec on title alone. Call me Crichton, you can even write the book.

You Just Got Schooled – This one a film where I couldn’t quite decide whether to do a Snipes film or a noir. I went noir as I haven’t seen many of the classics and I’ve been watching only bad movies for too long. Naturally, I had to go for one of the best with Double Indemnity, which seems to be considered the noir to watch if you are looking for a definitive list. I was definitely thrown a bit by the subject matter and dialogue, because I’m mostly used to the Maltese Falcon where it is about a private detective / femme fatale dynamic. The insurance salesman, and the way he spoke, just really threw me off. But ultimately the perfect murder plot line is very engrossing and I can see why it is considered among the creme de la creme for the genre. Edward G. Robinson was particularly good. It ended up being the perfect choice because it broke me out of the mindset of noir = private eye, and I can see now why Rising Sun is considered to at least take inspiration from film noir (even if it is closer to a buddy cop film from the 80s). A+, obviously, it is a great film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty special week since we were able to bring along a BMT sequel as a friend, After We Collided, the sequel to the YA-romance novel-turned-movie After. The film is basically nonsense, but in that very special modern filmmaking kind of way. It appears to be something like six sex scenes held together by modular “destination” plot lines (a jaunt to the ice rink, a babysitting gig, a hot yoga session, etc.). Basically, it seems like the film could have been filmed by 20 different directors and then stitched together in any order they wanted at the end. Oh, and it is also one giant commercial for Amazon. It can’t be a coincidence I was watching the film on Amazon Prime while the main character is getting a Kindle as a gift. There was a storyline in this film … it just isn’t coming to me. Something like alcoholism is bad news, and you should make amends with your dad? Something like that. B+. I love YA-nonsense. This was kind of cheating because by all accounts this should have been released to theaters if not for the pandemic. But I’m glad we get to continue our journey into this YA-romance series.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rising Sun Quiz

Oh boy, so I was called in as a special consultant on a murder inside a large Japanese conglomerate’s Los Angeles headquarters, and then wouldn’t you know it, but I was bopped on the head by some yakuza and don’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Rising Sun?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Who is the murder victim and what is her relationship to the Nakamoto Group and how did she die? 

2) Why is it explained that Connery took indefinite leave from the Los Angeles police department?

3) Why does Connery let Eddie go without questioning or arresting him at the party later on the evening of Feb 9th? 

4) Did Webb take a bribe? Why?

5) So … who killed the girl? Walk me through the events.

Bonus Question: Detective John Conner retires soon after the events of the film, what does he do after leaving the force (officially)?

Answers

Rising Sun Preview

“Get outta my way,” Patrick says gruffly, shoving the security guard out of his seat and setting up shop at the bank of security cameras. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Jamie, it’s just that sometimes he thinks with his greased up, rock hard muscles rather than his brain and they need a clue and fast. He watches the screens, sensing the many unfolding dramas, comedies, and dramedies in the lives of the residents of the building. “Intoxicating, isn’t it?” says the security guard hovering close over Patrick’s shoulder like a total creepster. Patrick looks at his nametag and back up to the creepily smirking guard, “I don’t want to have to use a patented Twin Chop on you, Zeke.” As he sulks away, Patrick shakes his head… Creepy Zeke… what a creep. Anyway, preserving the privacy of the other residents, Patrick finally lands on Rachel’s apartment where aha! She’s got a knife! But before he runs to bust in and take her down he sees that in fact Jamie and Rachel are just enjoying some cake. But what’s this?! Now she’s got a gun! Halfway out the room, though, he realizes that it’s just a BB gun to scare away the pigeons. He starts to get bored when something catches his eye. She’s got some nunchucks! Knowing there isn’t any innocuous explanation for nunchuck action, Patrick races upstairs and kicks in the door. Jamie and Rachel whirl in disbelief. “What are you doing here, bro?” Jamie asks, letting his new nunchucks fall to his side, clearly a present from Rachel for their wonderful day together. Patrick is ashamed, but before he can go, Rachel invites him in. “We were about to watch the sunrise together, would you… like to join?” With tears in his eyes, Patrick accepts. That’s right! We’re watching Rising Sun starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. Another Crichton adaptation for BMT and one that generated some controversy at the time for how both the book and the film depict Japanese people. So no wonder it qualifies. We paired it for Bring a Friend with one of our most anticipated releases of last year that was supposed to be released to theaters but ended up on Netflix instead. After We Collided, sequel to BMT film After and continuing adaptation of the After series, gets this coveted spot. How is it connected to Rising Sun? It isn’t, we just wanted to watch it… deal with it. Let’s go!

Rising Sun (1993) – BMeTric: 22.8; Notability: 63 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 30.0%; Notability: top 4.8%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 30.9% Higher BMeT: Super Mario Bros., RoboCop 3, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Leprechaun, Mr. Nanny, Cop & ½, Sliver, The Beverly Hillbillies, Coneheads, Boxing Helena, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Made in America, Son of the Pink Panther, Carnosaur, Dennis the Menace, Surf Ninjas, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, The Meteor Man, and 26 more; Higher Notability: Last Action Hero, Hocus Pocus, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, RoboCop 3, The Meteor Man; Lower RT: RoboCop 3, Son of the Pink Panther, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Mr. Nanny, Hexed, Best of the Best II, Carnosaur, Father Hood, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Calendar Girl, Hear No Evil, Sliver, Surf Ninjas, Another Stakeout, My Boyfriend’s Back, Cop & ½, Gunmen, Boxing Helena, Loaded Weapon 1, Striking Distance and 36 more; Notes: Sub-5.0 for most of its existence, which is pretty impressive. It’s notability is gaudy though. I guess it was another Crichton in 1993 though so everyone was picking up.

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars – “Rising Sun” is, of course, a slick, goodlooking movie. Kaufman is one of the best American directors (“The Right Stuff,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”), and he has a sure visual sense. But the screenplay by Kaufman, Crichton and Michael Backes is not about much of anything important, and Connery’s deep penetrating wisdom takes away some of the suspense: If he knows everything that’s going to happen, why keep us in the dark?

(I do think one of the most interesting bits of the film is that the director himself was very good, and the actors involved were solid. I guess given some of the notes that the producers meddled too much, foisted a bunch of changes from the book, and everything blew up. But who knows.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mb-s5IRn7Y/

(Wesley Snipes was actually a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. I should watch more Snipes films. This makes me wonder in how many films he actually got to show off his skills. Most of his filmography feels like martial arts would be somewhat out of place.)

Directors – Philip Kaufman – (Known For: The Right Stuff; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Quills; The Wanderers; Henry & June; The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid; The White Dawn; Fearless Frank; Goldstein; BMT: Twisted; Rising Sun; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for writing The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Has a son Peter Kaufman who executive produced his films in the 90s.)

Writers – Michael Crichton (novel & screenplay) – (Known For: Jurassic Park; Jurassic World; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Twister; Jurassic Park III; Westworld; Disclosure; Runaway; The Andromeda Strain; Coma; Looker; The First Great Train Robbery; The Carey Treatment; The Terminal Man; Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues; Extreme Close-Up; Future BMT: Sphere; BMT: Congo; Timeline; Rising Sun; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Twister in 1997; Notes: Won a technical Emmy for “pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling” in 1995. Was a medical student prior to becoming a best-selling author.)

Philip Kaufman (screenplay) – (Known For: Raiders of the Lost Ark; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; The Right Stuff; The Outlaw Josey Wales; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; The Wanderers; Henry & June; The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid; Fearless Frank; Goldstein; BMT: Rising Sun; Notes: Notably helped George Lucas come up with the actual plot for Raiders of the Lost Ark, specifically the Ark storyline, which is why he gets credits on all of the Indiana Jones stuff.)

Michael Backes (screenplay) – (BMT: Rising Sun; Notes: Was a technical consultant on a ton of films (including Real Genius). Got into the biz because his then-wife Martha Coolidge directed Crichton’s wife in a pilot (Sledge Hammer!) and they introduced their husbands.)

Actors – Sean Connery – (Known For: The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Highlander; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Rock; A Bridge Too Far; The Man Who Would Be King; Thunderball; From Russia with Love; Murder on the Orient Express; Dr. No; Goldfinger; Time Bandits; The Name of the Rose; You Only Live Twice; Diamonds Are Forever; DragonHeart; Zardoz; Never Say Never Again; First Knight; Future BMT: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Family Business; A Good Man in Africa; Entrapment; Just Cause; The Man with the Deadly Lens; BMT: The Avengers; Highlander II: The Quickening; Medicine Man; Rising Sun; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Avengers in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Entrapment in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Sean Connery. Sadly passed away last year, but he was mostly retired and like 90 years old, so he lived a good long life. The definitive Jame Bond I think, and got third in the 1953 Mr. Universe competition (Junior class, although it is somewhat unclear).)

Wesley Snipes – (Known For: Blade; Blade II; Cut Throat City; Dolemite Is My Name; White Men Can’t Jump; New Jack City; Major League; King of New York; Chi-Raq; Waiting to Exhale; Jungle Fever; Chaos; Mo’ Better Blues; Brooklyn’s Finest; Undisputed; Final Recall; Gallowwalkers; One Night Stand; Drop Zone; Future BMT: Money Train; Boiling Point; The Art of War; Play It to the Bone; Blade: Trinity; The Fan; Passenger 57; Murder at 1600; Wildcats; Sugar Hill; U.S. Marshals; To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; Streets of Gold; BMT: The Expendables 3; Rising Sun; Demolition Man; Notes: I didn’t know much about his tax issues, but it seems likely he is a genuine sovereign citizen and feels like it is illegal for the government to tax him. He served three years in federal prison for his shenanigans.)

Harvey Keitel – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Inglourious Basterds; Taxi Driver; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Irishman; Reservoir Dogs; Red Dragon; From Dusk Till Dawn; Isle of Dogs; Moonrise Kingdom; National Treasure; Fatima; Sister Act; Get Shorty; The Piano; Thelma & Louise; Mean Streets; Youth; The Painted Bird; Future BMT: Little Nicky; Little Fockers; Arthur and the Invisibles; The January Man; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; BMT: The Ridiculous 6; Be Cool; Rising Sun; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Last Temptation of Christ in 1989; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Bugsy. Notably for working with Quentin Tarantino in particular, and worked as a stenographer when he was a struggling actor.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $63,179,523 (Worldwide: $107,198,790)

(That seems mostly okay. I always say this, but I’m sure they were expecting more from a Crichton adaptation coming hot on the heels of Jurassic Park, but for a noir detective thing it seems pretty good for the 90s.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (13/40)

(Let’s make a consensus: A muddled genre-bending mess. At times a political thriller, a noir, a buddy cop film, Rising Sun never seems to be anything but confusing. Reviewer Highlight: When working in genre territory before, the idiosyncratic Kaufman has shown a marked tendency to debunk or subvert conventions. Playing it straight here, he brings little to the table. – Todd McCarthy, Variety)

Poster – Rising Sklog

(Ummmm yes. Yes. Yes. Yes…. yes. I’m into that. Yes. I like everything about it. Only critique I can even come up with is maybe a little too action-y given that the film is more a noir murder mystery. A.)

Tagline(s) – A coalition of East and West. A conspiracy of seduction and murder. A battle between tradition and power. Business is war. (D)

(Egad! I will chalk this up to the fact that the poster actually doesn’t have a tagline (boo) so this must be some extra bullshit. I mean they clearly know what a tagline is. They have the rule of three and stuff, but come on. Who’s reading this?)

Keyword – yakuza

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Suicide Squad (2016), Deadpool 2 (2018), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), The Wolverine (2013), Predators (2010), Ghost in the Shell (2017), Big Hero 6 (2014)

Future BMT: 47.0 Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), 34.5 Suicide Squad (2016), 26.8 War (2007), 23.6 Ninja Assassin (2009);

BMT: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), RoboCop 3 (1993), Rising Sun (1993)

(I wonder if the Yakuza being baddies in film basically represents Japan still being perceived as an economic threat to the U.S., but that perception not really being updated after the collapse of their economy in 1991 … anyways, not that surprising it constantly rises as I think Japanese culture (e.g. anime) has become more and more popular from the late 90s onwards. My god, I can’t wait to watch Beverly Hills Ninja again.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Wesley Snipes is No. 2 billed in Rising Sun and No. 2 billed in Demolition Man, which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 9.

Notes – Michael Crichton wrote the part of Connor with Sir Sean Connery in mind.

The Sempai and Kohai relationship is touched upon during the movie, however there were a couple of problems. In Japan, “Sempai” is often used as an address and as a show of respect to one’s superior. “Kohai”, on the other hand, can be considered offensive when used to address an individual directly, as it is “putting someone in his place.” Hence Captain John Connor (Sir Sean Connery) effectively insults Lieutenant Webster Smith (Wesley Snipes) throughout the movie. Given that Connor is supposed to be well versed in Japanese customs, this action should be taken very seriously. “Kohai” is normally used as a reference, not an address. For example: Smith is the Kohai of Connor.

Michael Crichton and Michael Backes quit the project, largely over disagreements with writer and director Philip Kaufman, that one of the lead characters should be changed into an African-American.

Eddie’s (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s) red car is a Vector W8, an American-made supercar with a top speed of 242 mph.

In the scene at the country club, the advice that Senator Morton tells the detectives is “If the battle can’t be won, don’t fight it.” That quote is from the book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

The building housing the company “Hamaguri”, where the video recording ‘could be doctored’, is the same building housing Starfleet Headquarters in Star Trek: Voyager. (Bomb, I love Voyager)

The second of three movies released in as many years featuring Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi. The others being Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994).

Fantasy Island Recap

Jamie

A group of people arrive on Fantasy Island, a magical island where Mr. Roarke makes your dreams come true. But they soon realize that these aren’t dreams, but rather nightmares and they have to escape the island. Can they stop Mr. Roarke and get off the island before it’s too late? Find out in… Fantasy Island.

How?! Gwen, Melanie, Patrick, Brax, and J. D. show up on Fantasy Island having won the opportunity to have their dreams come true courtesy of Mr. Roarke. Brax and J. D. are codependent bros looking to have fun with each other because family is everything. Patrick wants to be a soldier like his dad, who died a hero. Melanie wants to get revenge on her childhood tormentor. Gwen wants to get past her life full of regrets. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, particularly for Gwen, who having accepted a marriage proposal from the love of her life (who she let get away) is living the fantasy of having a beautiful family… but things feel off and she demands that she get over her real regret: the fact that she never saved a man from a fire she accidentally started years before. Meanwhile, Brax and J. D. are also experiencing some unpleasant side effects of having it all when it turns out they are occupying a drug dealer’s abode and some armed baddies show up to take them hostage. Patrick also is realizing that everything isn’t as it seems when he shows up to help his dad survive his fatal mission only to find that they are instead swarming the house that Brax and J. D. are in. Confused yet? Well we still have Melanie to talk about who gets a chance to torture her childhood bully only to have second thoughts and save her from the demonic torturer. Running away they are found by a journalist living in the jungle who reveals that the island is powered by some magic black liquid and they have to get in contact with his plane so they can get off the island. On the way to getting in contact the journalist sacrifices himself so they can escape. Brax and Patrick barely escape the hostage takers/soldiers who turn into unkillable zombies when shot. They run back to the beach where they meet up with Melanie and Gwen, but before they can escape Mr. Roarke destroys the plane. Turns out he must make sacrifices to the island to keep the fantasy of his dead wife alive. Running back into the jungle they head for the black liquid source, while Gwen explains that they were all connected to the fire in her fantasy. That they must in fact be part of someone else’s revenge fantasy for their roles in the guy’s death. When they reach the liquid it’s revealed that Melanie is the one looking for revenge, but before she can kill everyone Mr. Roarke finally has second thoughts about what he’s doing and helps kill Melanie, with Patrick sacrificing himself in the process like his dad. In the end the survivors leave the island, but Brax decides to stay so that the fantasy of J. D. being alive can continue in the real world. He is doomed to live on the island forever as… Tattoo. Bum bum bum. THE END (or is it?… probably). Wow that’s way more confusing than I remember.

Why?! Well the main motivation is Melanie’s. She was tormented as a child and went through years of low self esteem. As a result she couldn’t believe it when Nick wanted to date her and stood him up for a date so that when Gwen started the fire accidentally, Brax and J. D. didn’t think to look for him before fleeing. Patrick was on the scene as a police officer but didn’t go in to help Nick. So Melanie blamed all of them for his death and set up Fantasy Island to get revenge. The other important motivation is Mr. Roarke, who searched for the island in hopes of saving his wife, but found it too late. So now he sacrifices others in order to keep reliving the fantasy of being with her again.

Who?! There is an imposing character named Dr. Torture that shows up here and there in the film. When he showed up on screen my athlete-turned-actor sense was buzzing and indeed he had a long career as a professional rugby player in Australia. He also was the first high profile professional Australian athlete to come out as gay in 1995.

What?! I’m not really sure what the magic black liquid would be considering in the scope of the film. It has some characteristics of a MacGuffin given that it has unknowable magical properties. In fact if there were a prequel based around Mr. Roarke and his search for the island the liquid would be a MacGuffin. So maybe it is a MacGuffin… just one that most of the characters want to destroy rather than possess.

Where?! Fake setting alert! Patrick and I have bandied about the idea of having a whole cycle set in fake countries and locations, but it’s hard to tell how feasible something like that actually is. Particularly for some genres like romance. Anyway, this takes place on the titular Fantasy Island and is a rare example of an A+ fake setting.

When?! There is a good chance you can find when this takes place in some of the scenes with Melanie where things are posted to social media. I didn’t take a close enough look so I can’t be sure on that, but that would be where I would look first. Otherwise it plays little role in the film considering it takes place on a magical island and time is no object. F.

Patrick and I differed a little on our opinion of this one. I didn’t mind the beginning despite the confusion brought on by launching a million characters onto a magical island which in itself is also confusing. But I’m a sucker for some feel good action and even the kinda fratty characters Brax and J. D. have a sweet backstory about them loving each other unconditionally even though their family disowned Brax when he came out. But we both agreed that the ending was crazy bad. It felt like one twist too many and so Melanie’s behaviour during most of the film is totally nonsensical given that she turns out to be the bad guy. Like she’s acting for an audience of zero. It left a bad taste in my mouth. As for our friend this week, Welcome to Sudden Death is more of a remake than a sequel. Shot for shot until the end where predictably Michael Jai White couldn’t enter a professional basketball game impersonating a player for obvious reasons. Also there isn’t sudden death in basketball so that was jettisoned too. It’s a silly movie and really drags for a while, but it’s got some good fight scenes and there is a character Gus that is hilarious in a wait-is-this-guy-gonna-turn-out-to-be-a-ghost kind of way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If there ever was a film that deserved the title of That Sweet IP: The Movie, this is it. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This is maybe the only film that definitively hit the market as a for sure 2020 BMT film. That obviously didn’t change as the pandemic wiped out any and all summer competitors. So here we are. A second Lucy Hall Blumhouse horror film almost exactly two years after Truth or Dare is rather impressive I think. What were my expectations? I purposefully didn’t look up things about this movie since I knew I would watch it for BMT. I mostly expected it to be a confounding horror film with few (and bad) scares which would only serve to anger horror fans and Fantasy Island fans alike.

The Good – The conceit of the film, on paper, is actually quite good. Basically, the ceiling of this film was Cabin in the Woods. A movie that purports to reason around the slasher tropes in such a way that you have a fourth wall breaking meta commentary on the genre. You could imagine sequels which play off of different examples of the genre (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) with characters who are aware of the beats of horror films in general. Lucy Hall, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy Yang, and Michael Pena are also all quite good. Basically, the idea of the film and the cast are all well chosen, it just … well we’ll get to that. Best Bit: Conceit.

The Bad – The writing from two different fronts. As Jamie teased, I thought the beginning of the film was a mess. Unlike Cabin in the Woods there was absolutely no indication of what was actually happening for about an hour of the film. Combine that with the bad decision to split up the cast lead to just way too much being thrown around with no discernible explanation for way too long. The ideas finally gel at the beginning of what seemed poised to be a decent third act right before falling apart with one of the worst twists in horror history (and that is saying something!). My argument is that they should have all been brought to Fantasy Island with the original idea of it being a party island, reveal a behind the scenes operation to run a slasher film (basically) against the group, before a final reveal that they were actually, indeed, fulfilling someone’s ultimate fantasy: to be the killer in a horror film. It would end with, as usual, the slasher being killed, and the warning by Mr. Rourke that some fantasies are far more dangerous than one would perhaps expect. Fatal Flaw: Bad horror and bad twist.

The BMT – Every year we collect the various BMT films that come out. Unfortunately, this year has somewhat escalated the concern about bad theatrical films maybe dying in the future. But for now we are fine, we watched Dolittle and now Fantasy Island, and in the end both would have been the creme de la creme of any year regardless. But 2020 is a shot across the BMT Rulebook’s bow, and research is being conducted to guard against a dwindling number of BMT films being released every year. Did it meet my expectations? Ayup. It was indeed a confounding horror film with terrible scares. There was a nugget of something good though. If I’m being honest I would happily watch a sequel and I wouldn’t be that surprised to find that they figured out the formula the second time around.

Roast-radamus – This actually is literally a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Fantasy Island which appears to be a semi-conscious entity that is controlled by a magic stone and a magic pool of black liquid. Ultimately the storyline does devolve into a classic MacGuffin (Why?) or more precisely it is most like the Keystone Army trope in which all of this madness can just be stopped by destroying the aforementioned magic stone right?! Well kind of, and that’s where the Worst Twist (How?) comes into play in that it all turns out that Lucy Hall was putting on a master class of acting the whole time! This was all her fantasy, but one’s fantasy can, it turns out, be destroyed by another person’s fantasy! Checkmate! This is a quality BMT I think, very much a film that leaves you thinking (about how bad it is) for weeks afterwards.

StreetCreditReport.com – Looking through the 2020 films is actually quite interesting. We’ve done a 2020 film with a higher Notability (Dolittle and Bloodshot), but this is genuinely the lowest rated 2020 film we’ve watched, so that is serious. In the context of the year it is in the 99th percentile for BMeTric and Rotten Tomatoes score, it just flags a little in Notability, which is expected with Blumhouse. The real cred comes from its very tenuous connection to the 1970s television show Fantasy Island, but it has managed to be, by every proprietary Bad Movie Media Empire metric, a worthy BMT film.

You Just Got Schooled – Initially, I watched the original Sudden Death as a BMT film, just prior to Jamie pointing out that it actually has too many good reviews to technically qualify. If you haven’t seen this film stop reading this email (blog? Futuristic holographic device in the year 2100, year 64 of the Bad Movie Cultural Empire of the New United States of BMT?) and go and watch it right this instant. It is hilarious. It is so hilarious, in fact, that Jamie and I had a very long debate as to whether the entire film is actually a parody film in disguise. Here’s the argument. The film is explicitly a Die Hard in Blank film, the “blank” being game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But then the first fight is with the team mascot, and later on in the film Van Damme himself plays goalie for a moment! Those are fake storylines for a Die Hard parody film. Go and watch the final helicopter scene and tell me this isn’t a comedy. Maybe the strongest point is that one of the writers of the film was genuinely a parody film writer at the time, so you can definitely see how they maybe wrote the film as a joke, but then got JCVD on board et voila! They accidentally wrote a real film. Anyways, the film is incredibly fun and you should watch it. A, I wish all cheesy 90s action was this fun.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And then of course we watched the sequel (remake? It feels like a remake) to Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death which came out this year. Oh boy. There isn’t really that much to say, it is a remake of the original film almost beat for beat, but with the addition of Gary Owens as the wisecracking sidekick Gus (or was he a figment of Jesse’s imagination? We may never know), and the quality of a film shot in two days in an empty minor league basketball arena. The film is juuuuust aware enough to nod and wink at the camera during the fight scenes, but massively drops the ball with the bad guy played by Michael Eklund. The issue is that he is so gross and smarmy as a mercenary out for revenge against the billionaire owner of a basketball team that it all becomes no fun. You need the silly hamminess of Powers Booth’s crazy (like a fox!) plan to steal millions via secret service machinations for the entire thing to work. It just doesn’t work with some guy who is pissed that he lost his job because he accidentally killed an entire innocent family in a black ops mission. D, the new brand of self-aware bad movies are rarely fun, and this is no exception despite Michael Jai White being quite good in the Van Damme role, and a hilariousness of Gary Owen’s character.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Fantasy Island Quiz

Oh man, so I was invited to this island which promised to fulfill all my dreams, but then all these bad things popped out, chased me, and I fell down and bopped by head. Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened on Fantasy Island?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We meet our heroes (?) as they arrive on the island. There is brooding Melanie (Lucy Hale), brothers Brax and JD (Jimmy Yang and Ryan Hansen), businesswoman Gwen (Maggie Q), and police officer Patrick (Austin Stowell). Why are they all there?

2) And what are all of their (apparent) fantasies?

3) Gwen and Patrick both ultimately believe they could change events in the past via the magic of the island, what three events in their past do they almost or want to change?

4) Why and how is Mr. Rourke doing all of this?

5) Ultimately what is the actual fantasy the island is trying to fulfill? And how do they stop it?

Answers

Fantasy Island Preview

“Quick, follow me,” Mr. Big says, pulling Poe through a trapdoor with the gray ninjas close on their heels. “To the plane, the plane,” he says urgently, quickly taking off. Behind them, the gray ninjas have procured a dirigible of some sort and are in hot pursuit. Gunfire crackles around the hull of the small biplane and Poe can tell that Mr. Big is nervous. The little plane can’t take much more heat. He hands the book over to Poe, opens the side window and begins to futilely fire a handgun at the approaching blimp. Finally he sighs and collapses in the pilot’s seat. “We have protected this book for generations. It’s up to you know,” he says somberly, handing Poe the only parachute, “but it’s important to tell you that in reality…” with a whistle, a bullet shatters the side window of the plane and kills Mr. Big. “Noooooo,” Poe screams. His best friend! The blimp sidles up the plane and the gray ninjas reveal themselves as Rich and the gang (duh). “We saved you!” Rich exclaims happily, “and you got the book!” But Poe is not talking to him right now because of the whole killing his best friend business. “What’s that smell?” Rich asks suddenly, wrinkling his nose at the stench. they both look up and see the blimp, sagging sadly, losing air through a small hole in the middle of the giant “G” that spells out its name: The Great Nut. “Huh,” notes Rich before looking down to where they are about to crash land, “looks like we are heading for that island. If we can get across it then it’s just a short trek back to Nic. Should be no prob,” he says cheerily. But that sounds like a fantasy to Poe. That’s right! We’re watching one of the few major 2020 BMT theatrical releases in Fantasy Island. A rare Blumhouse flub, it’s no wonder since they turned a mild 70’s fantasy show into a horror movie for some reason. It should be obvious why we chose the Bring a Friend 2020 nonqualifying film to be paired with Fantasy Island. That’s right, we’re watching the 2020 straight-to-streaming sequel to JCVD’s Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death for some reason. I’m excited. Let’s go!

Fantasy Island (2020) – BMeTric: 64.8; Notability: 25 

(Shockingly low IMDb rating which is surprising. I know horror fans are quite harsh no bad examples of the genre, but it is so close to being a horror comedy I’m a little surprised there weren’t more people some of the silliness. High notability I feel like for a Blumhouse film, but maybe that’s the IP effect.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – So yes, “Fantasy Island” is a terrible movie—this probably won’t come as a shock to most people—but more than that, it seems to have been made with absolutely no one in mind. Anyone who might have actually wanted to see a straight-up adaptation of the show will be put off by the way that it lurches into more ostensibly horrific areas. Those in the mood for a horror film will be annoyed by the pedestrian scares and its pilfering from other examples of the genre. Fans of actors like Michael Pena, Maggie Q and Lucy Hale (who is hereby advised to let any further calls from Wadlow go directly to voicemail) will be put out with how thoroughly they are wasted here. Look, I am no “Fantasy Island” fanatic by any means—I’ve only seen two episodes in my life, both of them featuring Michelle Phillips as one of the guest stars, strangely enough—but even it deserved better than this brainless product that’s no sane person’s fantasy of a half-decent movie.

(Yeah, it does seem that it was mostly just incredibly confusing as to why this was chosen to be the adaptation. Once they tacked so far away from the original premise, why not just make it original? It feels like it would have been easy to do. I guess you still want that sweet IP street cred.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6O30nJ02PU/

(Pretty good trailer. Still feels weird that this is the direction they decided to take the property. It feels like an empty sci-fi horror film, and very unlikely to satisfy anyone familiar with the property.)

Directors – Jeff Wadlow – (Future BMT: Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; Never Back Down; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Like with a lot of Blumhouse stuff he also is a producer on the film. That is typically by design as his salary is probably largely determined by the box office return.)

Writers – Jeff Wadlow (written by) – (Future BMT: Prey; Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Bloodshot; Notes: Oh, he wrote two of our 2020 films, that’s impressive. Katie Couric’s nephew, he got his start writing and directing short films.)

Christopher Roach (written by) (as Chris Roach) – (Known For: Non-Stop; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was an executive producer on multiple series of Big Brother, among other unscripted television series. It is interesting that he’s made the leap to scripted films.)

Jillian Jacobs (written by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was a producer on Big Brother, so I imagine she is operating as a writing partner with Roach in some capacity.)

Gene Levitt (based upon the television series created by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Notes: Created fantasy island, and while he was a writer on a ton of television in the 50s and 60s this was the only one he created and he seemed to have retired right after. He died in 1999.)

Actors – Michael Peña – (Known For: The Martian; The Mule; Fury; American Hustle; Ant-Man; Crash; The Lincoln Lawyer; Dora and the Lost City of Gold; Ant-Man and the Wasp; Million Dollar Baby; Shooter; Tower Heist; End of Watch; 12 Strong; Babel; A Wrinkle in Time; Turbo; The Lego Ninjago Movie; My Little Pony; 30 Minutes or Less; Future BMT: The Vatican Tapes; Extinction; Hell and Back; Vacation; The Calcium Kid; Lions for Lambs; Jexi; Collateral Beauty; Star Maps; Cesar Chavez; The Lucky Ones; The United States of Leland; BMT: Fantasy Island; Battle: Los Angeles; CHIPS; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Gangster Squad; Notes: Born in Chicago, and has starred in character roles in film and on television across the years, like Eastbound & Down. Apparently plays bass guitar, hopefully he starts a band.)

Maggie Q – (Known For: Divergent; Die Hard 4.0; Mission: Impossible III; Rush Hour 2; The Argument; Rogues Gallery; Future BMT: Balls of Fury; The Con Is On; Priest; Allegiant; Slumber; Death of Me; Deception; Insurgent; New York, I Love You; Jekyll Island; BMT: Fantasy Island; Around the World in 80 Days; Notes: Played the lead role in the Nikita remake. Grew up in Hawaii, but ended up becoming a huge star in Hong Kong before breaking out in Hollywood.)

Lucy Hale – (Known For: Scream 4; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2; The Unicorn; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Future BMT: A Nice Girl Like You; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was part of the band American Juniors which was assembled on a reality series. Amazingly appeared in The O.C. way back in the day, but most well-known for her leading role in Pretty Little Liars.)

Budget/Gross – $7,000,000 / Domestic: $27,309,289 (Worldwide: $48,811,343)

(Still an incredible return on investment. Blum really can’t lose with these things. I wonder if they’ll think about doing another? I mean, in theory they could do the whole again with a new group. Could be a fun franchise if they fix whatever issues it had.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (8/107): Fantasy Island tries to show audiences the dark side of wish fulfillment, but mainly serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of exhuming long-dead franchises.

(“Who is this film for?” seems to be the common question. Not horror fans. Not Fantasy Island fans … so Blumhouse fans? Probably not that either. Reviewer Highlight: Contrived and loony, it feels like someone planted about a half-dozen different scripts all over this Fantasy Island. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Fancy Tree Island

(Clever. I think that’s a really good poster. Give me a little more on the font front and it might even be a perfect poster. Really artistic and beautiful. Too bad something so nice isn’t associated with a better film. Despite the font I’ll still give it an A. Just not an A+.)

Tagline(s) – Anything you desire. Everything you fear. (A)

(Blumhouse is good at what they do and despite flubbing a bit with the film as a whole you can still see that they know what’s up. Good poster, good tagline. This has the cadence, the length, and the specificity to the film at hand. I like it.)

Keyword – based on tv series

Top 10: Fantasy Island (2020), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Charlie’s Angels (2019), Star Trek (2009), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Baywatch (2017), Addams Family Values (1993), Serenity (2005), State of Play (2009)

Future BMT: 83.1 Inspector Gadget (1999), 79.3 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), 75.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), 71.8 Bewitched (2005), 69.4 The Flintstones (1994), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 66.8 Thunderbirds (2004), 66.4 Yogi Bear (2010), 66.2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 65.0 Max Steel (2016);

BMT: Fantasy Island (2020), Baywatch (2017), The Last Airbender (2010), Masters of the Universe (1987), CHIPS (2017), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), The Lone Ranger (2013), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Wild Wild West (1999), Lost in Space (1998), Sex and the City 2 (2010), Æon Flux (2005), The Avengers (1998), Garfield (2004), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), I Spy (2002), Garfield 2 (2006), Marmaduke (2010), Dudley Do-Right (1999), Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)

(My God, we’ve watched so many. And we still have so many to go. And again, no need to remake television series anymore, you can just you know … make the television series again on Netflix or whatever. So it is no wonder it is dying as a mini-genre.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Michael Rooker is No. 8 billed in Fantasy Island and No. 4 billed in Here on Earth => 8 + 4 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Jason Blum wanted Nicolas Cage to play Mr. Roarke but Cage passed on the role.

The movie is a reimagining of Fantasy Island (1977) in a horror genre, inspired by The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and Westworld (2016).

Principal photography on the film began in January 2019 in Fiji.In October 2018, Michael Peña, Jimmy O. Yang, Dave Bautista and Lucy Hale joined the cast. In November 2018, during an interview, Jeff Wadlow disclosed that Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday and Ryan Hansen had joined the cast, as well as suggesting Bautista may no longer be able to appear in the film. (Huh … I wonder who Bautista would have been. I guess maybe the Rooker role? Or many the army captain)

Double Impact Recap

Jamie

Alex and Chad are just wee lads when their parents are gunned down in Hong Kong. Years later, Chad’s guardian finds Alex and decides it’s time for them to team up and get back what is rightfully theirs. But can lame-o Chad and rough-around-the-edges Alex really take down the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Double Impact.

How?! Alex and Chad are tiny twin babies when their genius daddio builds a smoking hot tunnel in Hong Kong that’ll earn big bucks for days. Unfortunately his skeezy business partner has his eyes on that sweet tunnel action and teams up with the mob to take them out. In the process Chad is saved by their bodyguard, Frank, while Alex is taken to an orphanage by their nanny. Fortunately for the viewer it’s made very clear that they are both taken in by the French so that we wouldn’t spend any brainpower wondering how both Alex and Chad have French accents. Phew. Years later Chad is kind of a lame-o scoping on chicks in LA while impressing them with his splits (they are impressive, though). Frank finds Alex in Hong Kong living as a smuggler and thinks it’s time to take that super money making tunnel back! They fly to Hong Kong where Chad is kinda shocked by how everyone seems to know him. It’s only after a beautiful lady comes onto him, earning him a punch in the mouth from Alex, does he realize that he’s a t-t-t-twin?! Wha?! Alex is not super interested in fighting Griffith, who employs his girlfriend Danielle, but after Alex is beat up by the mobsters Griffith works with he starts to help out. After stealing a big shipment from the mob and then hitting up a party with some explosives, they become targets. They escape to an abandoned resort where Chad gets contacted by Danielle who is in trouble. He heads off to pick her up which makes Alex crazy with jealousy. When Chad finally returns the brothers split up in anger narrowly avoiding the mob who, having followed Chad, have arrived to take them out. Finding out that Frank and Danielle have been taken hostage they track them to a shipyard where they put their martial arts skillz to good use and kill all the bad guys and inherit their drop dead gorgeous money making tunnel. THE END.

Why?! The tunnel baby! They want that gd tunnel and they want it now. I kinda laughed at this idea, but in fact the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was built privately with the contract stating that those that built it would collect tolls for 30 years from the start of construction before the contract went over to the Hong Kong government. So this would mean by killing Griffith (and thus inheriting the bridge… I think? I don’t think that’s how this works) they would have had eight more years of those sweet tolls to gobble up.

Who?! Obviously an important film in the “actors portraying two characters” canon. However, I think the most interesting aspect of the cast is that this was the last film for which JCVD got a “fight coordinator” credit. He got it for Kickboxer and Lionheart in the two years before this as well. I can only assume this was a way he could make more on the film when they were still relatively small time affairs. After this he moved onto things like Universal Soldier.

What?! Is the tunnel a MacGuffin? I would argue no as generally a MacGuffin must hold power and allure in a way where the audience is meant to not care or understand anything more about it. Generally it’s like a staff or machine with a weird name or interesting properties. This is a tunnel. We know its allure (money bags with green dollar signs painted on them) and we know its power (the power over your time, literally the greatest power of them all).

Where?! Hong Kong quite literally for days. We get a brief scene in LA, but otherwise the city gets to shine in all its glory as we see Victoria Harbour in a lot of detail. Much like JCVD’s Knock Off we get a sense that the mob/smuggling/underworld aspect of the city holds particular interest for these east meets west martial arts mash ups. A. 

When?! I do think this takes place in modern day. The beginning of the film would take place August 2, 1972, when the tunnel opened, and it makes sense that they are about 19/20 years old when we see them attempting their big comeback. Chad in particular played it like an early 20-something just wanting to teach aerobics and woo the ladies with his splits.

I found the film to be a little boring as it dived into the murky waters of private tunnel ownership. In a lot of ways it felt like a 60’s film like an old James Bond or something. Didn’t feel particularly modern and so the story kinda dragged. But JCVD was surprisingly good in the dual role. He really acted his buns off (and his buns did their fair share of acting as well) to the point where I think it overcame some of the faults to at least be interesting from a JCVD point of view. I also really appreciated the fact that they didn’t play a bunch of games when it came to the dual role. One of the twins didn’t die early or have an accident requiring them to wear gauze on their face the whole time or anything. Lots of split screens, lots of body doubles, lots of fun (that’s the tagline for this review). As for Twisted Pair, I’ll let Patrick tell most of the story, but given our first taste of Niel Breen I have to say that it tasted very Breen. The movie makes no sense and at times you wonder if perhaps you are doing something unsavory by taking such a glimpse into the mind of a madman. But still, if you can get your hands on the film it’s a wild ride. I can certainly see the fascination people have with him and it’s actually pretty impressive that he’s made more than a few films with similar bad movie qualities. Usually bad movies of The Room kind are one hit wonders. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Am I seeing double? Double … impact?! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest I’m still not really very familiar with Van Damme’s filmography. That might seem like sacrilege, but I just never was very into martial arts films in general. I once went to a Van Damme movie marathon which is fun. But obviously you stick to the classics there: Hard Target, Time Cop, and Sudden Death. I’ve seen a bunch of them, but the early films and anything past 1999 are still mostly a mystery. But obviously “the one where he plays his own twin” was always an eventual must watch for the Bad Movie Twins. What were my expectations? I suppose I expected it to be a silly half-assed garbage film? I don’t know. Sudden Death is an incredibly hilarious film, especially the final helicopter scene. So why can’t this be the same?

The Good – The split screen and movie magic moments are actually halfway decent. If this was a kids’ movie or something I would say it actually is a pretty effective gimmick. I also just mostly like this style. Much like Knock Off it feels very much like a Hong Kong crime film of the time. Unlike Knock Off I assume the crew filming in Hong Kong spoke english which possibly explains why the film felt of higher quality. And while the acting was pretty dire top to bottom I want to give a shoutout to both Bolo Yeung and Corinna Everson who were some very fun body builder bad guys. Yeung is amazing. His body-builder-martial-artist body is really just a sight to behold. Best Bit: Two Van Dammes.

The Bad – The film is kind of boring and, indeed, kind of just feels like a pretty silly Hong Kong crime film of the time. That isn’t a terrible thing on its own, it is just a tad bit more self-serious that you might expect from a “Van Damme Is a Twin!!” film. As mentioned the acting is particularly bad. It is too bad Van Damme could never really get a handle on his accent in the 90s. If he could have pulled off the American accent (and I think they did try for a scene or two in the beginning) and got himself into a more mainstream film as the bad guy, I think he would have had a bit more longevity in his career. Fatal Flaw: Too self-serious.

The BMT – It’s probably one of the quintessential bad twin films ever made. The one where Van Damme plays his own twin. Getting a fuller picture of Van Damme’s career is always fun, as is getting introduced to the world of Hong Kong cinema (even through what is ostensibly an American version of it). I don’t think it’ll really be remembered alongside The Quest and other great-bad Van Damme films, but it is still an interesting turning point in his career as Ebert astutely noted in his review at the time.

Roast-radamus – There is for real an odd number of Johnnie Walker bottles strewn around this film, so it does feel like a Product Placement (What?), although maybe the crew just really like Johnnie Walker. Loving the Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, the seedy underworld of smuggling once again playing a major role in a Van Damme film. Is Vengeance a MacGuffin? I don’t think so. And I’ll toss this out as probably closest to Good, although I do think it is a rare film where you could argue for any of the three superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t really speak to any official cred (beyond being a twin film, and according to IMDb directly inspiring the film Twin Dragons which is amusing), but unofficially it was listed on an Over the Top Action Film list and a Guilty Pleasure Action Film list on IMDb, which I think is a fairly accurate description of the film. Although I’d argue there are multiple bad Van Damme films which are more entertaining than this one.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This was a very special week at BMTHQ. For this week we watched our very first Neil Breen film, Twisted Pair. Breen is the relatively new kid on the bad movie block. A real estate agent (or something) from Las Vegas, his films are notable in that he typically stars as a messianic figure. This is his latest film, and I have a hard time with it. Mostly the film is spectacular trash. The kind of thing only a delusional weirdo could produce and release to the world unironically. But is it ironic? It might be, he certainly has made enough films to know people are watching them ironically. Is Breen a bad person? Impossible to tell. Much like Tommy Wiseau, he seems to enjoy his notoriety while also keeping his personal life and business much to himself. The film is insanity, pure and simple, and was mostly fun to watch in order to speculate on Breen’s relationship with the actors on set and Nevada State University. The storyline is almost impossible to parse, though, and mostly dull. I would say that the only kind of Room-ish bit of the film is the fake rape scene in the beginning, which genuinely makes one wonder about Breen’s mental state. The rest is just an exercise in seeing what happens when a probable narcissist gets hold of a quality film camera. B+. If the film was more readily available I would say the Breen filmography is probably worth a watch just to see the current state of the art bad movie production in action. But at the moment this one in particular is a little too hard to get, so I have to dock it points.

Twin Analysis – Oh boy, as far as Double Impact is concerned this might be one of the best twin films ever. It’s got it all. The harsh brooding twin, the fun loving happy twin, twins separated at birth creating a real fish out of water scenario combined with a real odd couple scenario. The entire film revolves around the twins and avenging their parents. And complete with twin fighting twin and multiple split screens throughout the film creating two Jean Claude Van Dammes. Never have there been twins so adept at side splits! I’m giving it an A+. Boom done it. Then as for Twisted Pair you have the opposite problem in a way. At first blush it would appear to be the perfect twin film. Good/evil twin dynamics for days. Twins all over the place including a very bad split screen. And perhaps a twin-centric story with the good twin battling the bad twin … or is it? Is the storyline actually about the twins? I mean, they were both inexplicably granted magic abilities, just one of them fell out of Messiah Academy / Spy School and became a vigilante drug addict … or something like that. And in the end the story seems to be much much more about Good Breen laying waste to some international deep state conspiracy (or something, again, the storyline is impossible to parse). I feel obligated to give this an A- … but is the story actually about twins? Or is the movie just two twin brothers’ mostly disjointed stories smushed together? Scientists maintain we may never know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs