“The Great Escape” is mostly known these days for the iconic imagery of Steve McQueen riding his motorbike trying to escape the clutches of German soldiers. As a hardcore McQueen fan, I am all for giving him his due, but “The Great Escape” offers so much more than McQueen on a motorbike telling Nazis to fuck off as he desperately attempts escaping their forces. “The Great Escape” is a classic man film about a group of soldiers bonding to escape their prison, and garners an immense cast of acting heavyweights.
After “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” actor Sean Penn barely skidded the realm of being typecast and completely destroyed his break out role by taking on a new form as a dramatic actor. One of his more intense efforts is the 1983 “Bad Boys,” an underrated but excellent near masterpiece about boys on the verge of being men who don’t realize they’re about to become hardened criminals if they don’t break out of their cycles of violence soon. “Bad Boys” is a message at the core about when these young men will transform in to individuals capable of being tried as adults and when they will eventually make it in to an actual penitentiary. In the realm of “Bad Boys,” the penitentiary is the final stop for these young men, and counselor Ramon Herrerra makes a point of showing main character Mick O’Brien his environment, if he doesn’t find a way to change his fate soon.
The first time I ever saw “Cool Hand Luke” was on cable, on a Sunday evening, edited, and filled with commercials. And yet all of the quality managed to be retained in spite of the obvious differences a network version would possess. And it still managed to earn its place as one of my top ten movies of all time. Possibly one of the greatest movies ever made embodying everything that a good movie for men should be made of. From clever dialogue, male bonding, some of the most memorable sequences ever filmed (Newman really ate fifty eggs?), and social undertones that I take away after every viewing. Lucas Jackson is that embittered war veteran, the man who is considered a war hero and yet hates his country with every inch of his being.
“Death Warrant,” “Undisputed,” and “Enter the Dragon.” If you’ve seen those films then there’s a good chance you won’t need to see the oddly titled “Ring of Death” which is a simultaneous nod and derivation of the aforementioned with none of the charm of either of them. “Ring of Death” is a movie with every such potential to be a fun guy’s action film, and fails to be nothing more than a sub-par television movie with the illusion of edge embedded into its rather predictable story. The writers never really provide us with the slightest bit of originality, opting instead to rely on our familiarity with the action genre.
This is like the action masterpiece “The Rock”, except for the fact that “The Rock” was original, and this is just as awful as anything I’ve ever seen. After being busted in a car theft ring, two gangster friends Nick (rapper Ja Rule) and Sasha (Steven Seagal) are jailed in New Alcatraz prison where mercenaries break in and storm the prison to hold a prisoner ransom who knows the location of a secret stash of over two hundred million dollars in gold. Now they must team up with other prisoners and beat the mercenaries before they kill everyone. I got the sense this is supposed to be a futuristic film, but there’s never truly verification. The prison is re-opened due to overcrowding and it’s supposedly advanced but shockingly stone age. The prison is supposed to be state of the art and advanced but there’s a shockingly low head count when it comes to prisoners (I counted twenty-five).
Dizzy Harrison (D.J. Qualls) is an unpopular geek at Rock Creek High School and after an embarrassing accident with an erection, he decides to transfer schools but makes an oath to be a new man at his new school. He meets Luther (Eddie Griffith) a convict in a prison who decides to help him and teach him how to be cool and intimidate people, but can he pull it off when Rocky Creek students recognize him? “The New Guy” has barely any chuckles in it and has a ton of moments when you’re supposed to suspend logic and common sense. Why the character Dizzy would equate being a convict with popularity is beyond me.
From the beginning I could tell this would be a stinker purely from the way the movie derives from true life events. The character “Iceman” could purely be based on Mike Tyson alone, but fails where it has a chance to invoke some truly witty social commentary. Ving Rhames tries his hardest to look conniving and arrogant but most of the time comes off as laughable and outrageous looking like a hokey but smarter Mike Tyson imitation. Wesley Snipes also attempts to pull off the gruff silent hero persona with skills, but fails as well coming off as a mere caricature with no depth to him at all. The movie has a primary problem that plagues this: It has no focus. I wasn’t sure if this movie had any main character to begin with, because the movie doesn’t focus on any of the characters in particular.