Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Movie Review: Training Day

Training Day 
Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Outlaw Productions, WV Films II, USA, 2001. 
Training Day title
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is a rookie cop in drug squad. He gets mentoring from detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Jake has one day to prove his skills to Alonso. Jake is idealist who wants to make the world a better place by arresting criminals. Little does Jake know what Alonzo has planned for him. Alonzo's training methods are unconventional. Jake must get street-credibility to gain the trust of criminals and soon Alonzo forces him to take a puff from drug pipe. Jake stops to save a schoolgirl from being raped but Alonzo is only after big criminals. He teaches Hoyt that it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.
Ethan Hawke
Jake Hoyt
Jake's wife Lisa (Charlotte Ayanna)
Denzel Washington
Alonzo Harris
Alonzo and his detective friends rob Alonzo's friend, a retired dirty cop Roger (Scott Glenn). Alonzo has his own gang of corrupt cops and soon Jake finds himself knee-deep in trouble. He can either join the corrupt cops or die. Jake must find a way to beat Alonzo in his own game. The key to survival on the streets is respect so Jake must also make impact on Latin thugs and black gangstas. 
Scott Glenn
Latin thugs
Denzel Washington makes an Oscar-worthy role as manipulative cop who always has good explanations for the crimes he commits. Ethan Hawke makes a good heroic cop role. The plot is cleverly written with exciting twists. The first half has street-credible atmosphere but the second half of the film uses some action film clichés. Towards the end the pondering of the ethical gray areas is left to backseat and some convenient coincidences break the realism of the first half. That's why it doesn't quite reach the "L.A. Confidential" level of smartness although it comes close. Some famous actors and musicians appear briefly during the film. Snoop Dogg makes a small role as a crack dealer in wheelchair and Dr. Dre as corrupt cop Paul. Tom Berenger makes a brief visit as District Attorney's shooting team chief (!) and Macy Gray as drug dealer's wife. 
Dr. Dre

Rating: Good

Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin, Raymond J. Barry, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray , Charlotte Ayanna, Eva Mendes, Nick Chinlund, Jaime Gomez, Raymond Cruz, Noel Gugliemi, Samantha Esteban, Richard Browner, Ronald Ellis, William English, Kyjel N. Jolly, Fran Kranz, Janeen Krikorian, Princera Lee, Robert Leon, Seidy Lopez, Kenneth Allen Madden, Sarah Danielle Goldberg, Chris Patterson, Rudy Perez, Darrel Sellers, Ben Skorstad, Cle Sloan, Brett Sorenson, Abel Soto, Will Stewart, Denzel Whitaker, Garland Whitt 
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Monday, September 28, 2015

Movie Review: Starsky & Hutch

Starsky & Hutch
Dimension Films, Warner Bros., AR-TL, Weed Road Pictures, Red Hour Films, USA, 2004.
Starsky & Hutch title
In the 1970s drug lord Reese (Vince Vaughn) is missing one airplane full of cocaine so he murders the unlucky hoodlum who lost it. Starsky (Ben Stiller) is a over eager Bay City cop. Hutch (Owen Wilson) is a bit corrupt undercover cop. Captain Doby (Fred Williamson) assigns the mismatched duo as partners. Starsky may seem to be a bore, but at least he owns Ford Gran Torino.
Ben Stiller
Owen Wilson
Fred Williamson
Captain Doby
Reese's gang has developed a new type of cocaine that the police dogs can't smell. Bar owner and local godfather of the hood Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) informs Starsky & Hutch that there is going to be big cocaine deal in Bay City. When the cops investigate murder, they start to suspect Reese. Disguising as motorists the pair goes to get information. They also go to prison to interrogate Reese's connection dragon-fetishist Big Earl (Will Ferrell). The cops goof around so much that they get suspended from the police force, so they must solve the case alone with help from Huggy Bear.
Snoop Dogg
Huggy Bear
Jason Bateman and Vince Vaughn
Kevin (Jason Bateman) and Reese
Will Ferrell
Big Earl
This movie takes the 1970s series to more comedic direction. Also it parodies the movies and fashion of the era in general. Because the film is set in the 1970s there is also an obligatory disco dancing scene. Starsky & Hutch are made goofy bumblers instead of the cool characters in the original series. In the original series Huggy Bear (Antonio Vargas) was bartender and snitch, now he is depicted as stronger godfather figure. It says something that Snoop Dogg's character is one of the most serious ones in this movie. It is quite entertaining buddy cop comedy but many of the punchlines fall flat. It feels that it would have been more fun if Stiller and Wilson could have pulled it even more over the top. For example Stiller and Wilson movie "Zoolander" used a bit similar style of parody but worked much better. Also the crime plot has some oversimplifying jumps that it feels like something was left on the cutting room floor.
Ford Gran Torino
Undercover cops
Juliette Lewis has a small role as Reese's ditsy girlfriend Kitty. Original Starsky and Hutch Paul Michael Glase and David Soul make cameo appearance in the end. There are some good car stunts and the end credits show some failed stunts. As a special note the film ends with Starsky's car jumping in slow motion that results in some serious car chassis deformation.
Juliette Lewis
Michael Glase and David Soul
Original Starsky and Hutch

Rating: Average

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, George Cheung, Chris Penn, Brande Roderick, Molly Sims, Matt Walsh, G.T. Holme, Jeffrey Lorenzo, Har Mar Superstar, Patton Oswalt, Brigette Romanek, Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul, Dan Finnerty, Jernard Burks, Omar J. Dorsey, Pramod Kumar, Rod Tate, Richard Edson, Raymond Ma, Terry Crews, Richie Nathanson, David Pressman, Scott L. Schwartz, Judah Friedlander, Akerin Suksawat Premwattana, Amber Mead, The Bishop Don Magic Juan, Darlene Tejeiro, Harry O'Reilly, Tangie Ambrose, Sara Swain, Delores Gilbeaux, Kimberly Brickland, Minnie Lagrimas, Rachael Harris, David Burton, Larry Chang, Ton Suckhasem, Henry T. Yamada, Charles Edward Townsend,  Will Ferrell, Kathleen LaGue
Director: Todd Phillips

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Movie Review: The L.A. Riot Spectacular

The L.A. Riot Spectacular a.k.a The L.A. Riot Show 
Rockhard Pictures, Visionbox Pictures, entitled entertainment, El Camino Pictures, Cherry Road Films, RichKatz Entertainment, USA, 2005. 
The L.A. Riot Spectacular title
This is a satire film about the 1991 Rodney King incident and the following Los Angeles riots. Snoop Dogg tells a classic American tale. 
Snoop Dogg arrives in the beating scene
From the beginning it is clear that the movie takes a tongue in cheek approach. Rodney King's (T.K. Carter) pursuit is presented as a police car race. Then the cops place bets on what race the driver will be. George Holliday (William Forsythe) films the beating on videotape from his balcony. Later he starts to film adult films.

The videotape is auctioned for the highest bidder. KTLA-channel buys it and shows it over and over and over... again. Media interviews Rodney. Rodney wants to sue the cops so he could be filthy rich. Everyone wants to know what brand of clothes Rodney is wearing tonight. 
David Rasche and Anne-Marie Johnson
TV hosts Harry and Mary
T.K. Carter and Charles Durning
Rodney and his lawyer (Charles Durning). Notice the beer bottles
Black politicians urges the black against the cops. The Mayor (Charles S. Dutton) is unable to calm people and actually makes the situation worse. The Police Chief (Ronny Cox) congratulate the cops on job well done. The he fires them. Officers Koon (Christopher McDonald) and Powell (Emilio Estevez) become the scapecoats so the rest of the police force can wash their hands.
Christopher McDonald and Emilio Estevez
Officers Koon and Powell
Charles S. Dutton
The Mayor
The criminal gangs decide that it is futile to kill each other abd combine their forces. On retrial the cops are freed. The Nazis Tom Saltine (Ted Levine) and his son Tom Jr. (Jonathan Lipnicki) are happy. The shooting of black teen Latasha Harlins by Korean shop owner further raises the racial tensions. The beating of white truck driver Reginald Denny starts the riots. TV hosts Harry (David Rasche) and Mary (Anne-Marie Johnson) throw more fuel to the fire. The gangstas notice that "Oh no, we're burning our own hood to the ground." Nielsen ratings rise record high.
Snoop Dogg
Snoop pouring one out for fallen homies
The riots
Nielsen ratings rise
It is quite difficult film to watch without knowing the exact background of the riots. I found myself googling for names every time a new character was introduced. This is like "South Park" with radio stations from "Grand Theft Auto." Jokes are made about every ethnic and demographic group in Los Angeles. As well as about police, media, politicians, gangs, protesters, lawyers, celebrities and people chasing their 15 minutes of fame.

The movie looks like it was filmed with cheap 1990s video camera. It looks intentionally ugly and cheap in the style of amateur videos. Some jokes are hilarious and some are not and then there is also Ron Jeremy. It is outrageous with politically incorrect jokes that are sure to offend. However the stereotypes are aimed at everyone. There is similar gang culture parody as in "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" with ever-present 40 oz malt present bottles and random acts of gang violence. However the jokes get repetitive which makes the social satire less effective. Not a movie for everyone but recommended for fans of "South Park" style controversial satire. By taking no sides it shows how pointless the riots were and how nothing hasn't changed. Can't we all just get along? asks narrator Snoop Dogg. 

Rating: Good

Starring: Snoop Dogg, T.K. Carter, Charles S. Dutton, Emilio Estevez, George Hamilton, Charles Durning, Christopher McDonald, Jonathan Lipnicki, Ted Levine, William Forsythe, Ronny Cox, Jude Ciccolella, Ron Jeremy, Tabitha Stevens, Shay Roundtree, Erick Avari, Ian Abercrombie, Eric Axen, Hart Boykin, Lindsey Ginter, Marshall Manesh, Thaddeus Massey, Danielle Rayne, Wylie Small, Stephen Snedden, Steve Tom, Kirk B.R. Woller, Andy B. Dardaine, Michael Buffer, Gregg Daniel, Tony Gonzalez, Dave Mallow, Mark Newsom, David Rasche, Anne-Marie Johnson, Christian Redd, Willy Roberts, Corey Parker Robinson, E-Kan Soong, Patti Yasutake, Joseph Phong Dao, Charles Hailey, Laura Ann Tull 
Director: Marc Klasfeld

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Movie Review: Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror

Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror a.k.a Hood of Horror 
Snoopadelic Films Inc., Social Capital, BloodWorks, USA, 2006. 
Gangsta Devon (Snoop Dogg) accidentally shoots his little sister. While pursuing a rival gang he bites off more than can chew. In exchange for her sister's life he signs a contract with demon Liore (voiced by Hawthorne James). He is now a Hound of Hell and he can decide who will go to hell. Devon the Crib Keeper tells three stories. 
Snoop Dogg
Devon the Crib Keeper
Crossed Out 
Posie's (Daniella Alonso) parents died violently. She spray paints tags and annoys the gangs. One day she meets Hound of Hell Derelict (Danny Trejo). Derelict gives her the powerful tattoo. She can now kill enemies by painting over their names. Soon gangstas start getting killed in freak accidents. Pastor Charlie (Billy Dee Williams) has to tell the sad news to their relatives. 
Daniella Alonso
Danny Trejo
Posie goes too far and continues painting her own tags after eliminating the competitors. Derelict removes her gift with gory results. 
Billy Dee Williams
Pastor Charlie
This story has some bizarre ways to die.

The Scumlord
Two obnoxious racist rednecks Tex Jr. (Anson Mount) and Tiffany (Brande Roderick) are given inheritance on the condition that they must live together with black Vietnam veterans. Roscoe (Ernie Hudson), Jackson (Richard Gant), Stevens (Tucker Smallwood) and Vance (L. Kenneth Richardson) were Tex Sr.'s (Chuck Hicks) friends. Tex Jr. and Tiffany start exploiting the veterans and their nurse Wanda (Sydney Tamiia Poitier). When the pair murders Wanda the veterans decide to fight. 
Brande Roderick and Anson Mount
Tiffany and Tex Jr.
Ernie Hudson
Roscoe and the veterans
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
This is the most disgusting of the three stories.

Rapsody Askew
Rapper named SOD (Pooch Hall) starts making music with Quon (Aries Spears). SOD has a terrible ego but Quon always stays as his loyal friend. SOD's fame rises fast but Quon dies in liquor store shootout. However Sod arranged Quon's murder so he would get sympathy and become famous. Evil has to pay.
Pooch Hall
Aries Spears
This is the most closest to the "Tales from the Crypt" stories.

There are some anime-sequences by Madhouse-studios. This is quite bad ghetto-version of "Tales from the Crypt." Personally I haven't ever been a big fan of horror anthology movies as they tend to mix mediocre stories with some interesting stories that are too short to fully develop their potential. The opening anime is quite cool, but far from Madhouse-studios' best efforts. The first story is a disappointment with lackluster conclusion, the second is crap and the third is tolerable. There are some  moral lessons in the stories but mostly they are just used to introduce gory scenes. Rapper Method Man and basketball player Lamar Odom appear as themselves and "Seinfeld's" Jason Alexander appears as record producer. Snoop is quite fun as the Crib Keeper with some amusingly random comments. He also sings a horror rap song in the end. Some well-known names in the cast do not make it good.

What a waste...of beer.
Rating: Bad

Starring: Snoop Dogg, Ernie Hudson, Danny Trejo, Pooch Hall, Anson Mount, Daniella Alonso, Lin Shaye, Brande Roderick, Richard Gant, Aries Spears, Dallas Page, Jeffrey Licon, Noel Gugliemi, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tucker Smallwood, Cleo King, Jason Alexander, Billy Dee Williams, Glenn Cadrez, Hawthorne James, L. Kenneth Richardson, Yadi Valerio Rivera, Jonathan Penner, Rayna Tharani, Tayshaun Prince, Tanisha Jones, Gabriel Pimentel, Andrea Leon, Irina Voronina, Justin Fargas, Teyo Johnson, Ava Penner, Method Man, Lamar Odom, Chuck Hicks 
Director: Stacy Title

Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie Review: Urban Menace

Urban Menace
Filmwerks, Imperial Entertainment, USA, Slovakia, 1999.
Urban Menace title
In the beginning Ice-T warns about the violence and bad language. Well, the visuals are so murky and effects so bad that the violence is not much of a problem. As for the language, there are more naughty words than other words. Next he tells how urban renewal sucks. In the Bronx three gang bosses are murdered. The killer is unknown but there is a possible link to burning of a church last year.
King (T.J. Storm) gives information about gangs to cop Harper (Rob Ladesich) so he and his wife Jolene (Eva La Dare as Karen Dyer) can get tickets out of Bronx. The cops want gang boss Crow (Big Pun). Mystical killer (Snoop Dogg) is butchering Crow's men. Crow send two crackheads Shadow (Vincent Klyn) and Holt (Tahitia Hicks, who after her acting career has worked as camera operator for reality shows such as enjoyable "Ice Road Truckers") to hunt the killer. Shadow dies and Holt runs away in terror.
T.J. Storm and Eva La Dare as Karen Dyer
Jolene and King
Tahitia Hicks
Vincent Klyn and Snoop Dogg
Shadow kicks the bucket
Gang bosses Crow (Big Pun) and Terror (Fat Joe) like McDonalds and it shows. They send King to kill the mysterious man. King takes with him Cool D (Jahi J.J. Zuri) and Syn (Romany Malco). Crow and Terror suspect that King is an informer so they kidnap Jolene. The mysterious man helps King. He is Preacher Caleb the Holy Man. Snoop Dogg as a priest? I'm sure his sermons were something to hear fo sizzle. The gangstas burned his church and killed innocent kids. Caleb returned as an undead(?) avenger and now it is the time of reckoning.
Big Pun and Fat Joe
Crow and Terror
Jahi J.J. Zuri
Cool D
Romany Malco
King and Syn
As this was filmed together with "The Wrecking Crew" the production values are equally low. The theme song is exactly the same as in "The Wrecking Crew." Also the building where most of the action occurs is the same. Some scenes featuring Snoop Dogg are also recycled in "The Wrecking Crew." The picture quality is not grainy this time but it has bizarre blur and blue glow.
Snoop Dogg
Caleb is angry
This is either portal to hell or bad lens glare
Leather trench coats à la "The Matrix"
Marginally this is more fun and coherent than "The Wrecking Crew." It almost reaches the "So bad it is good" territory.  Most of the (unintentional) fun comes from the over the top performances of Big Pun (R.I.P.) and Fat Joe who mumble unintelligibly and are gangsta to the point of self-parody. Big Pun wears a Big Pun shirt. There is some attempt to imitate "The Matrix" as everyone is wearing leather trench coats. Snoop Dogg's stunt double has move screen time than Snoop himself. It is slightly interesting that Snoop Dogg performs a bit different role than his later laid-back pimp characters. Okay, his acting consists mostly of looking angry, slashing some bad guys and talking about revenge. Some digging into the subject (Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture, Volume 2 Greenwood Icons Ed. Mickey Hess page 328) reveals that Snoop developed his pimp persona year later in 2000. Avoid unless you absolutely need to see some hilariously bad gangsta action.

Rating: Very bad

Starring: Snoop Dogg, Big Pun (as Big Punisher), Ice-T, Fat Joe, T.J. Storm, Vincent Klyn, Romany Malco, Tahitia Hicks, Eva La Dare (as Karen Dyer), Ernie Hudson Jr., Jahi J.J. Zuri, Rob Ladesich, Michael Walde-Berger, Michaela Polakovicova, Ed Satterwhite, Jason Stapleton, Lubo Salater, Robert Ughoro
Director: Albert Pyun

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