Bullet to the Head (2012)


When I Want Your Opinion, I Will Buy You a Brain.

Bullet to the Head (2012)I had a vague attraction to today’s movie for no reason other than the fact that I like some good cheese on occasion.  That’s really all this movie seemed to be to me.  I was aware of the movie’s arrival to RedBox long before I ever felt the urge to rent it because I would have to be in the mood for some cheesy action.  And then my friend Francisco requested that I review the movie.  Now I had slightly more motivation.  When his name came up on my list, I got myself to a RedBox so that I could finally review Bullet to the Head, based on the French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete by Alexis Nolent, written by Alessandro Camon, directed by Walter Hill, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Sarah Shahi, Christian Slater, and Jon Seda.

Two hitmen – James Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) – kill a corrupt cop and he cokes it up with a prostitute, who Jimmy Bobo leaves alive.  Shortly afterwards, Louis is killed by another hitman named Keegan (Jason Momoa).  Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives and starts investigating the murder and puts together that Blanchard and Jimmy Bobo killed the cop.  Kwon confronts Jimmy Bobo and is later attacked by corrupt cops, owned by Keegan and Jimmy Bobo’s employer Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), but Jimmy Bobo rescues him, taking him to his daughter Lisa’s (Sarah Shahi) tattoo parlor to get treated for his injuries.  Reluctantly, Kwon and Jimmy Bobo team up to reach the bottom of the situation.

I got bored even typing the summary of this thing!  This was a really lackluster movie.  It was basically what I expected it would be, but not nearly as fun and campy as most of the cheese Stallone takes part in.  It was just really bleh.  The story came across as really lazy to me.  It was like playing Diablo, a game that knows that no one cares about the story they just like collecting things in dungeons.  Go from point A to point B, learn something new, continue to point C.  Eventually you have won, and you’ve repaired your relationship with your daughter by the end.  But this game never wins, and you never collect anything from the dungeon.  It’s like there wasn’t a dungeon at all!  Anyway, back to my review of Diablo 3 … wait …  Bullet to the Head!  That’s right!  It’s not very good.  The dialogue was also pretty weak and deflating.  I harken back to the moment when they said, “Let’s go take a bath,” when going to the bathhouse.  Really?  That’s not a thing two dudes typically say to each other outside of the Castro district.  They also use their dialogue to express the characters emotions, probably because the actors weren’t really able to convey it with their performances.  Characters will just proclaim out loud that they’re bummed they didn’t kill Keegan when he had the chance.  I can assume that much, Sly.  And then the dialogue didn’t even get things right, like when they proclaimed that Blanchard’s heart was punctured when he was stabbed.  He was stabbed in the side!  That’s not how anatomy works.  I’ll allow a punctured lung at best!  And since we’re talking about the violence, what can usually sell a movie like this is having some decent action.  This movie didn’t bother with that.  Almost all of the action was as simple as one dude shooting another dude until the final fight with Keegan (which was decent).  That’s not very interesting to me.  Especially since even the most cannon fodder of enemies took an entire clip to take down for some reason.  I guess they decided that, since all they were doing was shooting people, they might as well amp that up by doubling down on the bullets.

No surprise here, but the performances were entirely whelming.  Not over or underwhelming; just whelming.  That’s apparently a word (or at least Microsoft Word doesn’t have a problem with it), so don’t say I never taught you anything.  One thing I didn’t teach you is that Stallone is not the most impressive of actors.  It’s also not the best idea to make someone who is renowned for being hard to understand the narrator of your movie.  He also didn’t seem that interested in participating in the movie, but I couldn’t say that I blamed him for that.  Sung Kang didn’t do anything I was altogether fond of.  He mainly seemed like the whiny partner through most of the movie.  Sarah Shahi impressed me with hotness, but not much else.  I also find myself inexplicably fond of Jason Momoa.  I didn’t like him when I was introduced to him in the Conan piece of crap, but I did like him a lot in Game of Thrones.  So that’s a thing.  Right?

The best I can say about Bullet to the Head is that it’s mediocre.  The story seems lazy and the dialogue is entirely unimpressive, and they don’t even bother to kick that up a notch with some good action until maybe the very end when they had already lost me.  There’s really nothing to this movie that can cause me to recommend you watch it.  It wouldn’t destroy you with its awfulness, but it may bore you to anger.  Bullet to the Head gets “I take out the trash!” out of “Bang.  Down.  Owned.”

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The Expendables 2 (2012)


I’m Not Gonna Hurt You.  I’m Gonna Take Your Life.

The Expendables 2 (2012)The reason for watching today’s movie was clear.  Why did I watch it?  Because fuckin’ man-tits-balls-ass-‘splosions Mountain Dew!  That’s why!!  Also, I reviewed the first one and the second one just came out in RedBox.  These two movies were very popular with men far more manly than I am, and the first one didn’t do much for me, but it wasn’t bad and had good action.  When they came out with a sequel, I wasn’t really inspired enough to see it in theaters even though Rotten Tomatoes told me it was better than the first.  I knew its time would come eventually.  And that time is now, so let’s get into my review of The Expendables 2, written (allegedly) by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone, directed by Simon West, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Liam Hemsworth, Yu Nan, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adkins, Jet Li, and Charisma Carpenter.

Though it has nothing to do with the story proper, The Expendables – leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), knife-thrower (and brother of Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber) Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), heavy-weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitionist Toll Road (Randy Couture), crazy dude Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), and the new guy sniper Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) – go to Nepal to rescue some doctor and the captured mercenary Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Yang inexplicably leaves the group and doesn’t return.  CIA operative Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) replaces one Asian for another – a technical expert named Maggie Chan (Yu Nan) – and sends him on a mission to retrieve something out of a safe.  While they go, Billy goes through a checklist of all the things he can say that means he’s going to get killed soon.  The team then encounter Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who shockingly kills Billy.  After they recover, the Expendables set out for revenge.

I find that I am not nearly manly enough to forgive the problems of a movie like this.  The action is good, but the story is really predictable and the dialogue is painfully bad in parts.  The most predictable thing in this movie by far is the death of Liam “Handsome McSnipey” Hemsworth.  Generally I would expect movie makers to try to avoid clichés, especially if they’re going to want something to have some emotional impact in a little while.  But they did the whole checklist.  It was like the scene near the end of Black Dynamite, except this movie wasn’t a parody.  It was like, “I know I’m the new guy on the team that the audience would be less attached to – and I’m also the least famous person in this jet right now – but I’m so happy we’ve all gotten so attached so quickly that you guys will take it really hard if I die.  Not that I’m going to, though.  I have so much to live for.  This is my last mission until I retire and return to my girlfriend who loves me.  I can’t wait to not have a knife kicked into my chest by Jean-Claude Van Damme!”  After that, the rest of the movie could be summed up with “Revenge.”  I guess technically the entire story of the movie could just be summed up with, “New guy gets killed.  Team sad.  Revenge.”  A predictable action movie story is … well … predictable to me.  I guess bad dialogue is as well, but this movie still caught me off guard with how bad the dialogue was.  The cheesy “Chill out” from Batman & Robin lines are one thing, but they really hit us hard with the bad jokes about these action stars past careers.  You get “I’m back” and “You’ve been back enough” for Schwarzenegger, someone says “Yippee Kay Yay” to Willis, and they even drop a Chuck Norris fact or two for the be-bearded one.  I do appreciate having their careers referenced, but I would rather they do so with funny lines, not ones that may have given me an ulcer.  I don’t know if it’s an ulcer, I just know I’m shitting blood after watching it.  Perhaps I’ve disclosed too much …  I did get a minor smirk out of the Chuck Norris fact they used, but there’s also a very good chance it was just on the website and they just took it.  It was, “I was bitten by a King Cobra once but, after 5 days of agonizing pain, the Cobra finally died.”

One thing about this movie that I would not argue with would be that the action is interesting.  I know Stallone didn’t direct this movie, but the way action is done in his movies ever since the newest Rambo movie seems to be at his influence and I really appreciate how it looks.  It’s some strange mixture of realistic and gruesome while simultaneously being over the top and bombastic.  Shooting an enemy turns them into a bag of blood and gore and they get knocked back 20 feet by a single bullet or a hand-thrown knife hitting them in the chest.  The gunplay – and even the knife-play – was interesting to watch.  Some of the hand-to-hand stuff was interesting, but strangely it was worse when it involved the two best fighters: Randy Couture and Jet Li.  I don’t think Stallone knows how to set up martial arts, but he puts someone like Jet Li in a movie anyway.  In the first movie, I recall finding Jet Li’s fight scene disappointing, and I don’t even recall Randy Couture having one.  In this movie, Jet Li starts off with a decent fight in the beginning, but never again.  And the only thing I remember Couture doing that was vaguely in his ballpark was pinning a guy against a wall and throwing an elbow at his head.  Kind of underwhelming for the shit I’ve seen those two guys do in the past.  I would say that I appreciated most of the fight between Stallone and Van Damme.  It was pretty well done.  There were also some cars that were totally Mad Maxed out in the beginning, and there was also a part where they seemed to steal a scene from another movie.  It was when Stallone was surrounded and out of ammo and he acted like his finger was a gun, only to have his fake shooting backed up by a real sniper killing the guys.  I’m pretty sure that was something Chris Evans did in Losers.

The performances were what you’d expect.  Maybe a little better.  Not great, but I could imagine going into this movie thinking that these guys couldn’t even string words together.  But this movie is so gangnamed dripping with testosterone that I failed a random drug test after watching it.  I WOULD’VE WON THE TOUR DE FRANCE!  But everything in this movie is Orange County Choppers and Ed Hardy shit with skulls all over them.  Stallone even uses a pen in this movie that looked like he soldered trinkets from Hot Topic all over it.  Of course, the biggest thing to say about the cast of this movie is that it’s slathered with big name action stars.  The problem with that is that most of them are really showing their age.  Most of them still look ripped physically, but Stallone’s face looks like he got mauled by bees and Van Damme has alien eyes when he takes the sunglasses off.  I was also confused by Yu Nan.  She did a fine job in the movie, but I was confused about why he didn’t go for some JCVD version of an Asian actress for the role.  There are much bigger Asian actresses he might have been able to get!  He could’ve gotten Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Q, Michelle Yeoh, or any number of Asian actresses that were already known to Americans.  She just seemed out of place.

The Expendables 2 was roughly what I expected out of it.  Good action, soaked in testosterone and explosions on one hand, and the other hand is filled by blunt writing and dialogue so bad it gave me an aneurism.  And there’s really nothing to say about the performances in this movie; everyone in the world should have seen at least one movie with most of these guys featured.  And if you haven’t, then you’re probably not going to see this movie no matter what I say.  Otherwise, it’s fine enough for a watch.  Especially to make fun of.  The Expendables 2 gets “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man … and knife” out of “Who’s next, Rambo?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky Balboa (2006)


You Cast a Big Shadow

16 years after the last Rocky Balboa, Stallone tries to give it another go.  I would say that I had definite mixed feelings going into this movie.  I too was unhappy with the way Rocky went out, but with the way the other Rocky movies had gone, this sixth installment would surely be one of the worst movies ever.  The franchise had slowly been dragged down with each successive movie, and this one had the potential to be the nail in the coffin.  On the other hand, much like Rocky himself was always so prone to doing, this movie could potentially elevate the series, reminding us of what we loved about the movies in the first place.  Let’s see which it was in my review of Rocky Balboa, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Milo Ventimiglia, Antonio Tarver, Burt Young, Geraldine Hughes, Tony Burton, James Francis Kelly III, Talia Shire, and Mike Tyson.

One time boxing champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has fallen on some hard times.  He’s in his late 50’s and retired from boxing 16 years ago.  His wife Adrian (Talia Shire) died of cancer in 2002 and his relationship with his son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) is not doing so well.  Rocky still has Paulie (Burt Young) and Rocky also owns a restaurant named after his late wife.  In the world of boxing, the current, undefeated champion, Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver), is openly mocked for never having been really challenged in the ring.  Dixon’s temperament is not helped by a computer simulation run on ESPN that puts Rocky (in his prime) against Dixon and Rocky is shown to be the victor.  Dixon gets pissed about the simulation, but Rocky gets to thinking that he might get back into fighting, though only in small venues.  When he gets his license approved, Dixon’s promoters talk Rocky into fighting an exhibition match against Dixon in order to ride the buzz created by the simulation.  Does Rocky still have what it takes to go toe to toe with the champion?

Oh, thank God!  They didn’t ruin the series.  This is probably the most emotional Rocky movie in the franchise.  Yes, it definitely follows the Rocky pattern, but much like the first Rocky movie, this movie focuses more on the emotion side of the story than on the boxing side.  When the movie started, Adrian was already dead, and this started me off a little depressed.  Then we see Rocky dealing with his son, and that made me a little more depressed, but mostly just annoyed at his son.  If the little jerkface is so mad at being in his father’s shadow, then maybe he should do something with his life instead of just complaining.  Little snot.  Then we see Rocky dealing with Paulie, and that’s even more depressing.  I appreciate the focus on the story, but I was beginning to think this new movie was just going to be a massive bummer.  But, when Rocky starts training for his fight, it stops being a bummer.  Of course it begins to focus more on the sport and the underdog stuff, but in the background is the emotion.  What gets him through in the end is his own determination.  I think it’s a good message that they deliver in the movie that’s hidden under a boxing metaphor: “It’s not about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”  I was happy that they didn’t go for the romance that they kept hinting at with the Marie character, I felt like that would’ve taken away from my memories of Adrian.  I don’t want to think of Rocky with someone else.  Rocky goes with Adrian.  End of story.  I was also happy that Robert and Paulie stopped annoying me and helped Rocky out in the end.  And I was also happy that ego didn’t make Stallone make Rocky win.  Just like in the first movie, not having Rocky win in the end shows that the boxing is not the driving force in the movie.  I felt like the actual fight that ended the movie was not that interesting, but it was very realistic.  It was a very interesting and wise decision on Stallone’s part to use the actual HBO boxing crew to film the fight.  It definitely made it look like we were watching a slightly more cinematic version of a real boxing match.  Unfortunately, I typically find boxing a little on the boring side, so I tend to actually prefer the more over the top stuff against gigantic Russian dudes.

I think Stallone puts on the best performance that I’ve ever seen from him in this movie.  He’s a lot like the other versions of Rocky we’ve seen before, but also noticeably broken after the loss of his wife.  He also has a couple of times when he needs get emotional about it, and he does it very well.  It’s not the “trying too hard” type of crying that he did when Mickey died; it’s the kind of crying you’d expect from a character like Rocky, with Rocky trying to hold it back, but the tears are slipping out.  He’s also freaking massive for this movie.  Way bigger and more ripped than he’s ever been in the other Rocky movies.  Burt Young was a lot like the Paulie we’ve come to know from the other movies, but he had a couple of good emotional scenes as well.  Milo Ventimiglia made a pretty good son for Rocky, and I found him more annoying in the way he was written than the way he was performed.  He didn’t have a lot to do in the movie, though.  I’ve taken issue with the selection of a real boxer in the review for Rocky V, but Antonio Tarver did his part well.  He had to do a couple of scenes where he got pissed off, but Stallone smartly didn’t write anything for him that he wouldn’t already be accustomed to from press conferences and actual boxing.

I was very happy to see that Rocky Balboa ended the franchise on a good note, far superior to Rocky V.  The story is reminiscent of the first movie and, thankfully, focuses more on the emotion of the story than simply on the boxing.  It successfully tugs at the heartstrings of the audience, and gives them a well shot and fairly satisfying conclusion.  After this movie, I can only hope he leaves the franchise alone and doesn’t risk injury to an otherwise satisfying franchise.  I definitely recommend watching Rocky Balboa and, now that all of the movies have been reviewed, I can say that the only movie in the entire series that has nothing really worth watching is Rocky V.  And so Rocky Balboa gets “The only kind of respect that matters is self-respect” out of “Let’s start building some hurting bombs.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky V (1990)


I’m Not Gonna Knock You Down This Time.  I’m Gonna Put You Through the Street!

Over the past few days, I’ve watched a fantastic franchise crumble and fall over the course of four movies.  The first Rocky movie was fantastic, and the next movies just kept doing the same thing over and over again.  You get the feeling that Stallone was out of original ideas because he felt content to use the same formula with only the slightest changes to make more and more of these things until they eventually lost sight of what made them good in the first place.  For the fifth movie, Stallone seemed intent to recapture what had been lost by taking the character back home, bringing back the original director, and trying to get a fresh start.  Let’s see how that worked out for him in my review of Rocky V, written by Sylvester Stallone, directed by John G. Avildsen, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Morrison, Talia Shire, Sage Stallone, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Richard Gant, Tony Burton, Deila Sheppard, and Michael Williams.

After his victory over Ivan Drago, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has started noticing that something is wrong.  His hands are shaking and he’s unable to make them stop.  His wife, Adrian (Talia Shire), pleads with him to see a doctor, but he is reluctant.  He returns home to his son, Robert (Sage Stallone), and announces his intent to retire at a press conference.  The conference is interrupted by Don King clone George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) who tries to goad Rocky into fighting his fighter, Union Caine (Michael Williams).  Rocky wants to take the fight, but Adrian is against it.  They go to see a doctor who tells Rocky that he couldn’t get approved to fight anyway because of his extensive brain damage.  They also find that Paulie (Burt Young) caused them to sign over power of attorney to Rocky’s accountant, who promptly ruined Balboa financially.  The Balboa family sells most of their belongings and moves back to their old neighborhood.  Rocky reopens the boxing gym of his late trainer, Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) and starts training boxers.  One such boxer is Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), who proves to be a really good boxer, but perhaps an overly aggressive one.  Rocky takes Tommy in, becoming his manager and letting him sleep in the Balboa’s basement.  But Duke comes back into the picture, and will do whatever it takes to get Rocky to fight again.

Same old, same old, but worse.  Stallone tries to recapture the greatness of Rocky one by going back home, but it’s still just the same formula.  Again Rocky hits rock bottom and must mount a comeback.  At first, he does it vicariously through Tommy Gunn, but then makes a comeback himself that barely makes any sense.  Adrian doesn’t let Rocky fight Union Caine or Tommy Gunn in the ring, wearing gloves and with a referee watching, but Rocky decides it would work out best for everyone to get into a bare knuckle brawl with Gunn to wrap up the movie.  A bigger part of this movie is Rocky’s relationship with his family, but no real emotion is drawn from this well.  Rocky is more than happy to ignore his son and his son’s problems in his new school in favor of Tommy, but I guess you have to give him a pass on that because he’s supposedly beaten retarded in this movie.  Duke’s motivations are never really made that clear either.  I know he’s looking for a payday off of getting Rocky back into the ring, but I’m pretty sure the world would move on and you’d be able to make just as much money taking your fighter and making him prove himself against other good fighters.  But this guy is so persistent in trying to get a fighter that was retired for medical reasons back.  Rocky couldn’t even get sanctioned to fight if he wanted to!  Move the fuck on, man!  In trying to go back to his roots, Stallone only really showed us that he doesn’t actually have it in him anymore, just like Rocky.  Apparently, the initial idea for this movie was to have Rocky get killed in the street brawl with Tommy at the end of the movie, dying in Adrian’s arms in much the same way that Apollo died in Adrian’s arms.  This would have elevated the movie some, in my opinion, and made the course of the story feel better, but ultimately less satisfying.  We don’t want to see Rocky die like that, but we also don’t want him to go out in a movie like Rocky V.

The performances took a pretty big step down for this movie.  Sylvester Stallone actually did a good job, though.  Strangely, in order to show that his character was brain damaged, he went back to acting like he did in the first two movies.  One can only assume that he was touched by Jesus for the third movie, and then had that reversed when he was touched by a gigantic Russian in the fourth.  Talia Shire didn’t really make that big of an impact on me in this movie, and Burt Young went back to being an asshole.  The two newest additions hurt the movie the most.  First, Sage Stallone as Rocky’s son.  He just annoyed the piss out of me for the whole movie, and was never really able to convey any sort of emotion for the parts where he was supposed to.  He was just a twerpy little whiny shit that tried to turn into a bad boy when daddy was ignoring him.  Tommy Morrison was the worst decision Stallone made in these movies.  At some point (probably around Rocky III), Stallone decided that the ability to act was secondary to their ability to look like they were boxing.  And Morrison was required to do a lot of acting in this movie, like freaking out and being conflicted about having some loyalty to Rocky for his training, but also resenting being in his shadow the whole time.  Instead of being a conflicted character that we might actually care about, he just comes off as a giant douchebag and the rest of the movie is just wasting our time until someone kicked his ass.  And the fact that he sometimes talked like he had no idea what he was saying never really helps either.  I guess the boxing background does make him able to look pretty good in the fights, but if you want to recapture the glory of the first Rocky you need to realize that the audience has the ability to watch boxing whenever they want.  Movies should have actors in them.

Rocky V makes itself the worst movie in the Rocky franchise by following the same formula that every other Rocky has followed thus far, but not being nearly as satisfying as its predecessors.  It’s the obvious place for the character to go, and the obvious story to go along with it.  Stallone puts on a pretty good performance for the movie, but his son Sage and the new addition of Morrison drag it down too much to come back from.  This is probably the only Rocky movie that I would say is a complete waste of your time to watch.  Will Rocky Balboa be able to make a satisfying comeback in the final movie, or is it too far gone?  We’ll find out tomorrow.  For today, Rocky V gets “This ain’t no pie eating contest” out of “The man fought wars in the ring!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky IV (1985)


He’s Not a Machine, He’s a Man!

I was excited to finally reach this sequel in the Rocky franchise, mainly because I work with the guy that played the opponent in this movie.  I know that many of the people around my place of business claim that his name is Tim, but I am 100% positive that he’s actually Ivan Drago.  When I think of the Rocky franchise, this is often the movie that I immediately go to in my mind.  It’s nowhere near the best movie in the series, but something about this movie makes me regard it as the pinnacle of the series.  Let’s see if I’m able to put the reason into words in my review of Rocky IV, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Brigitte Nielsen, Michael Pataki, Tony Burton, Burt Young, Dominic Barto, Rocky Krakoff, Sylvia Meals, and James Brown.

A gigantic Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), his manager Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and an idea to prove himself as the best boxer ever.  Retired former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gets it in his head that he should challenge Drago to an exhibition match to prove that he’s not over the hill.  His old friend and twice rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) try to talk Apollo out of it, but he’s got something to prove.  And what is that?  That he is so stupid that he’ll refuse to let someone stop the fight that he’s clearly losing so that it will result in him being beaten to death in the ring.  You did it, Apollo!  Not to be outdone on the stupid front, Rocky challenges Ivan to a fight in the USSR.  I assume that, if Rocky wins, Apollo will come back to life.  Otherwise what’s the point?

I would say this movie is probably the best example of why women don’t seem that interested in watching the first Rocky movie.  It’s incredibly cheesy in parts and the motivation for the entire movie is testosterone.  It exemplifies the things that I hate about those kinds of testosterone driven men.  “I’m rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I’m going to fight a giant until he kills me because I don’t want people to think I’m over the hill.”  “I’m clearly not doing anything in this fight and, in fact, am getting killed, but don’t you dare throw in the towel because being bludgeoned to death by a gigantic Russian and leaving my wife a grieving widow is preferable to losing a fight and being called washed up.”  “I too am rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I will fight the giant that just murdered my friend with punches because … well … he murdered my friend with punches.  And I don’t want to get paid for it either.”  If this is the kind of intelligence that testosterone allows, I’m going to stop taking those injections and tell the doctor to give me my vagina back.  Speaking of stupid, what the fuck was with the robot in this movie?  Rocky gives a 6 foot robot to Paulie as a gift.  It gets like a half hour of screen time in this movie!  It’s a major plot point somehow!  As mentioned with the other movies, this movie definitely follows the classic Rocky pattern.  Something happens, Rocky gets depressed, Rocky trains really hard, Rocky triumphs.  The training montage made me laugh too, mainly because Rocky’s method of “training” would be what all the people around him in Russia would call “chores”, and Drago was training on the deck of the Enterprise.  Rocky’s little speech at the end was pretty bad and stupid as well.  I understand that Stallone probably wanted to bring about change in what was probably some tension between America and the Soviet Union (I’ll have to assume because I was two when this movie came out), but I feel pretty confident that a boxer punching one of their boxers and making a hair-brained speech afterwards would not change foreign policies.  Especially when his big speech is, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”  Depending on how loosely you define “you”, then yeah, that’s basically the definition of “everybody”.

I mentioned one of the greatest things that the Rocky series had introduced me to in the previous movie when I mentioned that they brought the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” to the limelight.  I have a certain appreciation for cheesy 80’s music that gets you amped up, and this movie threw three new ones at us.  “No Easy Way Out” is another kick ass song, an equal to “Eye of the Tiger” in my opinion.  It would’ve been nice if the song wasn’t used over a really bad montage of filler, though.  All of those scenes had nothing to do with each other, and I’m not sure what they were trying to say with the montage.  It was just like, “What scenes were cool from the other three movies and even the beginning of this one?  SMASH THEM TOGETHER!!”  Survivor didn’t want to be left out of the cheese so they threw “Burning Heart” into the movie.  I would say the cheesiest one was “Hearts on Fire”, but I still enjoyed it.

This movie continues the trend started in the previous movie of changing all the characters.  Rocky became well-spoken, Adrian was no longer shy, and Mickey was no longer into breathing.  In this movie, they even changed Paulie.  All of the earlier movies had Burt Young playing the role of a very unlikeable person that Rocky kept around for reasons that were never explained.  He was always jealous of Rocky’s success, but was himself a complete loser with no likeable qualities.  He’s still not likeable, but he’s become more like comic relief in this movie.  Dolph Lundgren did fine as Ivan Drago, but didn’t have to do very much beyond being physically intimidating and force out a couple of words like, “If he dies, he dies,” and, “I will break him.”  I was also surprised to see Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki in this movie.  Michael Pataki surprised me because I hadn’t put together that the guy from Sidehackers and The Baby was his manager until this viewing.  I knew Brigitte Nielsen was in this movie, but I was surprised to find that she actually used to be attractive, whereas now she looks like a Barbie doll that got left in the microwave.

Rocky IV is super cheesy, but not without a certain degree of enjoyment.  The story follows the same pattern as the rest of the Rocky movies, but this time with a Russian and a dumb speech that shows the world that we can all change, but only if a punch drunk goon tells us to.  The writing is dumb and predictable, and this one is exactly the testosterone driven dumbness that some people wrongly expect from the original, but it’s still kind of fun in a campy way.  And it has the most memorable opponent of the Rocky series in it, so you have to watch it.  Rocky IV gets “Whatever he hits, he destroys” out of “You will lose.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky III (1982)


I Pity the Fool!

Yay!  Halfway point!  Boo!  Drastically depleting amounts of quality!  We haven’t really drudged the depths of the Rocky franchise yet, but perhaps we’ll be starting today.  The first Rocky movie was fantastic, and the second one was still pretty good, though a little too familiar.  And I’m pretty sure most of us are well aware of the fact that the Rocky franchise gets pretty awful at a certain point.  Is this that point?  We’ll find out today in my review of Rocky III, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Mr. T, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Ian Fried, Hulk Hogan, Tony Burton, Wally Taylor, and Frank Stallone.

After the events of the last movie, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has taken the world heavyweight championship from Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).  Along with his elderly trainer Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), Rocky defends his title 10 times.  Another boxer by the name of James “Clubber” Lang (Mr. T) watches the champion’s progress while rising through the ranks with his vicious, brutal style of boxing.  When Rocky is honored with a statue on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Lang publicly insults Rocky and his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) in order to draw Rocky into a fight.  Mickey thinks it’s a bad fight and wants no part in it, but Rocky talks him into it.  Rocky and Mickey go into training, but Rocky has lost his edge as a fighter and spends more time posing for pictures in the gym than training.  This inevitably leads to Rocky getting the snot beat out of him by Lang, and Mickey dies of a heart attack during the fight.  In his grief, Rocky returns to the gym Mickey used to run to find Apollo waiting for him.  Apollo promises to help Rocky train for his rematch with Lang and help him beat a giant jungle cat to death and steal its eyes.  Unless I’ve misunderstood the meaning of “Eye of the Tiger”.

We haven’t yet hit the bottom with these movies, but we can kind of see where it’s going.  It’s still entirely by the book as well.  The only real change up is that Rocky starts out on top, hits the bottom in the middle, and then goes into the regular despair/training/winning formula.  And every fight Rocky has gotten into in these movies so far is supposed to be his last.  Rocky quit before his first match with Apollo Creed, and then again after the fight.  He came back to fight Apollo, which was supposed to be his last fight, but getting the title makes him keep up with the fighting for a bit.  He quits, but gets goaded into another fight by Lang.  That too was to be his last fight, but he gets beaten so he must give it another go.  Then they keep talking about how the second fight with Lang is going to be his last.  Makes you wonder how they’re going to fill the time for the next three movies, doesn’t it?  They try to keep the emotional level with the death of Mickey, but it didn’t really have the impact that I’m sure they were going for.  And though I know it gets goofier in the following movies, it’s getting there with this movie.  Take, for instance, the entire piece with Thunderlips.  And the goofiness doesn’t stop with the name of the character.  The entire scene was stupid and needless.  Then the whole training scene is over the top and stupid.  Of course Rocky is going to lose; he barely trained at all for the fight that was going to be his most difficult ever.  Then why would Mickey tell him to go into that fight when he would obviously be distracted by Mickey’s failing health?  Then we have some homoerotic scenes with Apollo and Rocky training, proving further that Stallone loves him a montage, and then the inevitable and expected conclusion to the movie.  I would say, in this movie’s defense, that the fight at the end of this movie was probably the most exciting and action-packed fight of all of the movies up to this point.  Also, this movie brought the world the classic Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger”.  Sure, it’s been super played out since this movie, but I maintain that no song has the ability to get someone pumped more than this one.

Most of the performances changed drastically, but I wouldn’t say it was for the better.  It wasn’t really a negative either, it was just curious.  Rocky doesn’t come off nearly as punch drunk as he did in the first two movies, and was mostly a lot more civilized and well-spoken, which was generally regarded as a negative thing by everyone around him.  Sly had to do a crying scene over Mickey, but nothing about what he did in that scene made much of an impact for me.  Burgess Meredith didn’t do very much in the movie.  He had about two emotional scenes, first when he was trying to talk Rocky out of fighting Lang in the first place and second when he was dying.  Meredith is still fantastic and knocked both of these out, but then he was gone.  Talia Shire is a completely different character in this movie, but it’s one I can excuse.  I could understand her becoming less shy over the years, but I can’t really get behind Rocky getting better-spoken because the opening montage didn’t show him hitting the books at all.  Clubber Lang was a big step down for an opponent for me.  He was like a cartoon villain.  He was just a gigantic asshole to everyone for no reason, with no motivation for it or any semblance of humanity, so no one would give a shit about him at all.  They might have just put a punching bag in the ring with angry eyes drawn on it and a little speaker box that would sling racial slurs at random.

The Rocky series continues its downward spiral in this movie.  It hasn’t yet reached the bottom, or even really become awful movies yet, but it’s definitely on the way.  The emotion in the movie never really hit, it was really goofy in parts, some of the characters were the exact opposite of the way that they were when we grew attached to them, and the pattern of the Rocky movies is getting really obvious.  I would still say this movie is worth a watch because the final fight of the movie is the best one yet and, come on!  Eye of the Tiger, people!  I will homoerotically train (in montage form, of course) for an epic battle with you if you dare say this song does not amp you up.  Rocky III gets “Eye of the tiger, man” out of “You don’t look so bad to me.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky II (1979)


Condominiums?  I Never Use ‘Em

I consider it a necessity to complete the series that I start.  Because of this – and because it was requested – I now continue with the sextology that I started yesterday.  In my review yesterday, I called the original movie one of the best movies of all time, combining a great underdog movie with a love story.  The happy ending of the movie was not how the main character performed in his task, but saying I love you to his lady friend.  This movie forgets about that, deciding to basically make the same movie but change the ending.  But that may or may not be the worst thing in the world.  Let’s see if it was in my review of Rocky II, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, Tony Burton, Joe Spinell, Frank McRae, and Frank Stallone.

In case you had forgotten what the last five minutes of the first Rocky was like, you get to rewatch it.  Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and undefeated heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) finished their epic battle in the ring.  A split decision gives the win to Apollo Creed and Rocky and his girlfriend Adrian (Talia Shire) share “I love you’s” in the ring.  After the match, Apollo Creed has already forgotten that he said in the ring that he didn’t want a rematch and challenges Rocky to another fight, but Rocky declines, having promised Adrian that he would retire.  Rocky proposes to Adrian and the two get married.  The money from the fight goes to Rocky’s head as he buys a house, a car, and a bunch of extravagances.  Money then becomes an issue and Rocky must do some odd jobs to provide for Adrian and their upcoming child.  Apollo receives a bunch of hate mail mocking him for rigging the fight so that he would win even though the bell clearly saved him.  Apollo embarks on a smear campaign to goad Rocky into fighting again.  Rocky must choose between his heath, his wife, and being true to himself.

It’s not the worst thing in the world.  That’s Rocky V.  This movie is pretty good, but a noticeable decline from its predecessor.  The basic story of the movie has not changed drastically.  Rocky is still the underdog who must train hard and in an unconventional way to overcome his opponent at the end of the movie.  And people probably wanted Rocky to win at the end of the first movie, so they decided they should sort of remake that movie and change the ending.  They amp up the tension in the end of the movie so much and so well that, even knowing the outcome of the movie (and probably being able to predict it even if I hadn’t already seen it) it still managed to give me goosebumps.  The love story is vaguely present, but not really a focus.  They get married in this movie and Adrian’s wishes get in the way of Rocky’s training for a while, but the greater focus is on Rocky’s problem overcoming the loss of his calling as a fighter and trying to find his place in normal society.  It still allows for some more emotional situations than the general boxing movie, but I would say women would be more justified in not paying much mind to this movie.  It doesn’t have very much to offer the fairer sex by way of story, but guys ought to be right at home.  Of course, that’s only if you fit well within classic stereotypes for your gender.  Especially since Rocky shows in this movie that he clearly thinks his wife Adrian is a retard.  In the first movie, Gazzo’s driver pokes at Rocky by telling him Adrian is retarded.  What is his suggestion of a place to take a retarded person?  A zoo!  And what is Rocky’s first idea of a place to take his retarded wife?  A zoo!  She’s just shy, Rock!  No need to jump to those kinds of conclusions.

The performances are still admirable in this movie, but most of the people didn’t have a lot of emotional legwork to do.  Sylvester Stallone has a pretty good emotional bit in the movie when he was talking to Mickey about needing to at least be around boxing.  It was real and it was well done, but mostly Stallone kept up the same act of talking way too much and getting on my nerves.  I don’t know why he felt the need to narrate everything he did in the movie, but he did.  Like during the wedding scene when it was time to kiss the bride and he had to say, “Let me lift up your veil here,” or something like that.  This made it easier for me to not watch the screen and still know what was happening, but I feel like the general majority of the audience is actually watching.  Talia Shire and Burgess Meredith were still both great in the movie, but they each only had like one emotional scene, so they didn’t impress as much.

Rocky II is still a good movie if judged by itself, but not nearly as good as the original.  The story is still enjoyable for men, but lacks any kind of love story like in the first one to draw in lady folk that might be interested in that.  It’s still a great underdog story, but suffers from being a little too familiar to the first movie.  Still worth watching and probably worth owning.  Rocky II gets “Yo, Adrian!  I did it!” out of “Derogatory?  Yeah, he’s great.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.