Tag Archives: War

Special Features Presents: Action Movies of the 80’s

The other day I was sharing comments with fellow blogger Hermione Flavia from Wildfiremovies . Now before I get into that, I first want to give a big shout out to her blog. If you love movies as much as I do, then one thing you should do is check out her blog and subscribe. She is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, and her movie reviews are seriously topnotch. From classics movies, to action films and horrormovies, there is almost no end to the movies featured on her blog. Not only that, she is also one of the kindest persons you will ever talk to, so really what are you waiting for: press on the link provided above and subscribe.

Now we were talking about how lately we spent a lot of time in the past and feeling nostalgic, and how so many great action movies were made in the 80’s. This is pretty much how the idea for this post came about. Now I have focussed myself only on the non-science fiction action movies of that era. I might at sometime in the future do a follow up for those kind of films, but right now I am simply going to stick to the good old fashioned normal 80’s action flicks. So grab a seat, take a drink and some popcorn, and let us travel back in time to the wonderful 80’s.

Rambo: First Blood (1982)

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I have seriously lost count on how many times I have seen this briljant action film. Starring Sylvester Stallone as Vietnam veteran John Rambo, this movie is simple in it’s story telling, but incredibly effective. When John returns home to visit an old friend, the local sheriff thinks off him as a drifter, and tries to force him to leave town. It is not long before things escalate into violence, and the small town becomes a warzone. Stallone is absolutely amazing in his role, and the movie eventually spawned three sequels. The original movie is still the best though, featuring terrific action sequences, a dark atmosphere and the brilliant score of Jerry Goldsmith.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

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Beverly Hills Cop is one of the greatest action comedies ever made. Starring Eddie Murphy as the loudmouth cop Axel Foley, the numerous comedy scenes featured in this film, are even now still every bit as funny as back then. Axel is a cop in Detroit, but pursuing a murder case eventually ends up in Beverly Hills. Meeting two local cops, the three of them set out to find out the truth about the murder. Murphy steals the show in the leadrole, and could not have been cast any better. Featuring great action pieces mixed with perfectly timed comedy, this is also one of those movies that will never get old.

Missing in Action (1984)

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Now for every good movie, there usually also is a bad one. Missing in action is an action movie that is so bad, that it is actually good and fun to watch. Ofcourse cashing in on the succes of Rambo, this movie starred Chuck Norris in the role of James Braddock. Believing that there are still POW’s being held in a prisoner camp in Vietnam, Braddock returns to the jungle to try and free them. The movie is filled with cliches, bad acting and cheesy oneliners. But honestly that is what makes this B-movie so much fun to watch. Chuck would reprise his role two more times in the sequels that followed this one, and those are every bit as bad. Seriously, what is not to love about that?

Commando (1985)

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Now, not featuring any Schwarzenegger movies in this post would ofcourse be a big mistake. After the enormous succes of Conan and the Terminator, Arnold was definitely on a roll. In Commando he plays the role of John Matrix, a Black Ops Commando who is happily retired and now lives with his daughter (a very young Alyssa Milano). But when his daughter is kidnapped by criminals, John begins his personal war to bring his girl back safely. With an over the top bodycount, and such classic oneliners as ” Don’t disturb my friend, he is DEAD-tired” this is one of Arnold’s best. Yes, the action is completely crazy, and at times completely unrealistic, but man is this movie a lot of fun to watch.

Cobra (1986)

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Back in the 80’s Schwarzenegger and Stallone were not exactly the best of friends, and both tried to outdo each other with bringing out numerous films. Cobra is a brutal Stallone movie, where he plays the role of the tough as nails cop Marion Cobretti. In this film he has become the protector of a witness, who is being chased by a murderous cult in order to prevent her from testifying. Crime is a disease, and he is the cure was this movie’s tagline, so you pretty much know what to expect. Lots of shooting, chases and fight scenes, make this film a wonderful addition to Stallone’s already impressive action resumé.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

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This movie is one of my own personal favorites. This fantastic buddy cop movie, eventually resulted in three sequels which were every bit as fun as the original. Mel Gibson plays the role of the completely crazy cop Martin Riggs, who has to partner up with the close to retirement Roger Murtaugh played by Danny Glover. At first they hate each other’s guts, but eventually a close friendship develops, while they are on the hunt for a brutal gang of drug smugglers. With seriously fantastic action sequences combined with great humor, this movie is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. An absolute must see for every action junkie out there.

Bloodsport (1988)

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This movie pretty much introduced the world to the “Muscles from Brussels”, mister Jean Claude van Damme. This movie has a very simple storyline, where van Damme plays Frank Dux, a martial artist who has set off to compete in a lethal tournament in Hong Kong. The acting is terrible, but you take that for granted as the action choreagraphy for this film’s incredible fight sequences, is the reason why you need to watch this movie. Brutal martial arts fights, with deadly consequences result in a movie that is not for the faint of heart. One of Van Damme’s oldest, but also one of his best movies.

Above the Law (1988)

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In Above the Law another martial artist is introduced to the world, the man called Steven Seagal. Above the Law (also known as Nico), sees Seagal playing the role of a Vietnam veteran turned cop, that uncovers a sinister CIA conspiracy. Seagal is not known for his acting skills (I at times seriously wondered if this man had any facial expressions, no offense), but his martial arts skills were formidable. Sadly, these days Seagal is but a shadow of his former self, and plays mainly in (very bad) B-movies. Luckily we will always have his classic movies to look back on, and for an introductory film, this one was highly enjoyable.

Die Hard (1988)

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To not include this movie, would seriously be a sin. One of the best action movies ever made, it made Bruce Willis an action star overnight. In Die Hard he plays police officer John McClane, who accidentally is caught up in a hostage situation during a Christmas party in a huge skyscraper building called Nakatomi Plaza. His wife is amongst the hostages, and McClane take the fight single handedly to the terrorists. Not a good way to spend the holidays. This movie is simply put: brilliant. Great acting, wonderful oneliners, and very imaginative action sequences make this movie a must watch for any movie lover. The sequels that followed were also very enjoyable, except for part 5 which was absolute garbage.

Black Rain (1989)

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Black Rain is a movie that might not be known by everyone, but is definitely worth checking out. Directed by Ridley Scott (yes, that guy), it stars Michael Douglas in the role of New York City cop Nick Conlin. When he and his partner arrest a Yakuza member, they eventually end up in Japan. It is not long before they get caught up in the dark and criminal underworld of this unfamiliair country. Black Rain is a very dark but fantastic movie, and features a great storyline and incredible tension that is combined with spectacular action sequences. Michael Douglas pretty much never disappoints and also does a more than decent job in this movie.

Final Thoughts

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And that brings us to the end of this post, which I now realise has become my longest one to date. I know that this list is by no means complete. A lot of other great action movies were made back in the 80’s and maybe one day I will do a follow up to this post. I had a lot of fun writing this, and it was great to revisit a few of these classic films.

And now it is over to you guys and girls. Did any of your favorites make the list? Were any of them missing? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you very much for reading, and see you on the next post!

Rogue one: a Star Wars story, American movie (2016)

Before I am going to start for real with this post, let me just point out to you that I am huge Star Wars fan. I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen the original movies, and own a lot of novels and other merchandise. When the news first arrived about Disney taking over the franchise from Lucas I was filled with fear. And yes I do know that may lead to the Dark Side. My fears pretty much disappeared last year with the release of Episode 7. I loved it from start to finish, and felt it really did justice to the galaxy from far, far away. One thing I did remain skeptical about were the plans for the stand alone movies. The first one has now been unleashed upon us with Force. Today I saw the film for the first time, and the question is, was I worried about nothing?

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Rogue One might best be described as Star Wars episode three point five, just to give you a point of reference. The Empire is planning to build a terror weapon to rule the galaxy, and for that they turn to a scientist called Galen Erso. Galen has no love for the Empire, but has no choice but to assist in building the weapon, as his wife and young daughter Jyn are both threatened to be killed. Years later, Jyn has grown up, and has now become a bit of a rebel but is also pretty much a loner. By pure chance however she meets up with a member of the real Rebel Alliance who has been searching for her. Things have become very dire indeed, as the Empire has almost finished building their planet killer. When Jyn finds out that her father might be the one who has pretty much designed the weapon, she is determined to find her father at all cost. With a group of like minded individuals she sets out on a path that will take her to her father, and which might bring a new hope to the galaxy…

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So there we have it, the first ever standalone movie of Star Wars. Was it a worthy addition to the Star Wars legacy? I would have to say yes. There are many things in this movie that worked, but it also has it’s flaws. One thing is for sure: this movie is very dark. It is basically a warmovie set in the Star Wars universe. As such, there is some light comedy in the film, but it mostly has a very serious tone to it. The fun things that were truly enjoyable in this film, were the many easter eggs that the movie contained. Any Star Wars fan, will really get a kick out of discovering those. And I am pretty sure that I even might have missed a few.

We get introduced to a whole new cast of characters, and most of these were very enjoyable. Felicity Jones did a fine job in her portrayal of Jyn Erso, and it was also very nice to see Hong Kong legend Donnie Yen having so much fun in his role of the blind Chirrut Imwe. Ben Mendelsohn was also superb as the villain, the evil Director Krennic, a character you are definitely going to hate. The best character however was the robot K-2SO, who produced some much needed comic relief.

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The pacing of the film however, was the thing that I felt was not handled very well. The first part of the film felt slow. At those times it also felt that for a reason I could not quite put my finger on, that I wasn’t watching a Star Wars movie. The last 45 minutes of the film though, were absolutely fantastic, and contained one of the best battlescenes of the entire Star Wars franchise. It also shows how desperate things really were for the Rebellion.

At the end of the film there was a question that popped up in my mind though: do we really need these stand alone movies? Even though I liked the movie, it just is not as good as the original trilogy films. As I said this one is a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise, but with these movies now being released every other year, one has to wonder if this won’t simply become a question of quick cash in films. We will have to wait and see I guess. I do have to admit that the film was truly better than I had expected, and I did enjoy it for the most part. If you are a fan of the Star Wars universe I definitely recommend seeing it. And now all that’s left to do is wait for episode VIII and ofcourse see Rogue One for a second time. May the force be with you…..

I give Rogue One a Star Wars story a 8 out of 10 score.

Alderamin on the Sky, Anime tv series (2016)

Alexander the Great. Genghis Khan. Hannibal. Napoleon Bonaparte. All of these were great military strategists, that have fought wars with their armies and have won many of them through employing some briljant strategies. Wars in the past were always determined in the end, by the men that waged them, and through the commanders that gave the orders. Times have changed, and even though strategies are still important, these days wars at times feel like computergames. With the power to drop bombs on remote locations through the action of just flicking a switch, one has to wonder at the insanity of it all. Not that war has ever been sane anyway. The Animeseries Alderamin on the Sky can at times be compared to a game of chess. And unlike modern days, in this series we focus again on military strategies, and a man named Ikta Solork, who is destined to become a very important general.

Alderamin on the Sky takes place in a fantasy world, and focusses on two nations, the Kiorka Republic, and the Katjvarna Empire. Both of those nations have been embroiled in a war for a very long time, with apparently no end in sight. Ikta Solork is a man that pretty much despises the war. He has no taste for it, is lazy, and has far better uses for his time namely chasing women. One day while aboard a ship together with one of his long time friends, the fiery swordswoman Yatori, they both get caught up in the war in a very unpredicatable way. It is not before long that Ikta is in training for the Empire, and it is here that his true genius is beginning to take form. With the war closing in all around him, Ikta might become his countries greatest hero. And in the desperate times ahead, his military mind will be needed more than ever….

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I have had a love/hate relationship with this series. The first few episodes were great. We got to learn the main characters, and I especially liked the two leads Ikta and Yatori. Ikta is just a very unlikely hero. In the beginning he is a skirtchasing man, who just doesn’t fit the bill to become this all important hero. Yatori is a very skilled swordswoman, with great fighting techniques, and a strength to her that is instantly likeable. We are teased with a storyline that supposedly will lead up to a future where great battles and things that will change the world are supposed to happen. As the series progressed however, more and more characters were being added. That in itself would not be a bad thing, were it not for the fact that these characters had so little screentime that you almost had no time to get an attachment to them.

The storyline also dragged on and on, especially in the middle segment of the series, where not much of anything happened. With so many characters that were pretty flat, and a storyline that made little progress, I found my initial interest in the series start to fade. The last few episodes were a bit better, but with a pretty open ending to the series, it also did not bring about a proper closure. This series feels very much as a prelude to great things that may yet come (perhaps if this series might get a second season). The animation and music are very good, and a few battles were really cool to watch, especially with Ikta’s strategies coming into the light. I really wanted to like this show, and honestly it isn’t all bad. In the end though there were just to many things in the show that I did not like, to fully recommend this one.

I give Alderamin on the Sky a 6 out 10 score.

 

Hacksaw Ridge, American/Australian movie (2016)

Belief and conviction. Basically those two things go hand in hand and pretty much define what makes up our personality. When going though life you will find many situations which might make you change your beliefs. Be it friends, family or other things that can make it hard for you to live by the convictions you might hold close to your heart. But how far would you go to stand by your beliefs. What if it might cost you your life in the end? It would take a very strong person to keep the faith in what you deem to be right. And if you want to talk about irony, how about a person who must have lost his beliefs and convictions through his own actions. I’m talking about the fallen Hollywood star Mel Gibson. But even though he might have fallen, he is on his way back, not as an actor, but something he is even better at, directing. With Hacksaw Ridge he has managed to deliver this year’s best movie.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of Desmond Doss, an American WWII combat medic. It is right after the attack on Pearl Harbour that Desmond decides to enlist in the army, against the wishes of his soon to be wife, Dorothy. Doss still goes ahead anyway, and soon finds himself in bootcamp. Everything is going right, until weapons training begins. When offered a rifle for practice, Desmond refuses to take the gun. At first his commanding officer thinks he is making a joke, but Doss is deadly serious. From that point on, his squadmates think of him as a coward, and the army brass is trying their best to get him to drop out of the army. However Desmond keeps standing by his convictions to never fire a single bullet, and to finish his training to become a medic in order to save people. When the war eventually takes him and his squad to Japan, the horrors of war will soon become a reality. But Desmond is determined to prove that you don’t need a bullet to become a hero…

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When the end credits rolled for this movie earlier today I was completely stunned and in awe. What an utterly fantastic movie this is. However you feel about mr. Gibson, I think no one would ever deny that he is a great director. And if you might have had doubts, they would pretty much wash away after seeing this movie. Where to begin? The acting is just simply amazing. Andrew Garfield, who plays the role of Desmond is absolutely stunning. He gives his role a touch of humanity that few actors would be able to manage. He is the true star of this movie, but his fellow actors definitely do a great job as well (especially Hugo Weaving in the role of Desmond’s father and Luke Bracey as one of his comrades in arms Smitty).

With this being a warmovie, the film doesn’t shy away from violence. In fact if you thought you had seen it all with the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, think again. This movie truly makes you feel as if you are right in the middle of hell, and convinces you at the same time how horrible war really is. But the heart of this movie is the story. With all the films already made about the second World War, I find it amazing there are still stories out there, that you have never heard before. By the end of this movie you will come to realise what a hero this man has been, and how a first opinion of someone can sometimes be truly wrong. It also teaches you to always stand by what you believe in, no matter what happens. I hope this movie will do very well at the Oscars, in fact I would be pretty surprised if it did not. It would also be a true Hollywood story if it did, as it would pretty much redeem Mel Gibson. And if that isn’t irony, I don’t know what is.

I give Hacksaw Ridge a 10 out of 10 score.

The Siege of Jadotville, Irish/South African movie (2016)

What sometimes amazes me about movies, is that they at times tell us true life stories, that you have never heard about before. Little bits of forgotten history that mark very important events, but somehow never made the news. This could happen for very different reasons, for instance the event occurred in a place that was not deemed important to the rest of the world. Or, it was covered up by government sources for political reasons. It is sad that things such as the latter happen, but occasionally the record is set straight through the power of a movie. Especially if that movie is executed in the right way. The Siege of Jadotville is such a movie, and it tells the tale of a part of history that I myself have never heard of before.

It is the early 1960s when Irish commander Pat Quinlan is sent to the Kongo by order of the United Nations. At the time a conflict was going on in the country that endangered both American and Russian mining interests. Unfortunately the U.N was definitely not welcome there, and when a tragic incident cost the lives of innocent civilians, an attack is ordered on the Irish troops. The attack is carried out by French and Belgian mercenaries, in support of the illegitimate prime minister Moise Tshombe. Commander Quinlan soon finds himself under siege by overwhelming odds, and he has to hold out with a bunch of completely untrained soldiers. However, the mercenaries will soon find out what the expression “we will not go down without a fight” truly means…..

This Netflix original movie, is a very solid warmovie with some very decent performances. Quinlan is played by up and coming star Jamie Dornan (who most people will know from the British tv series The Fall). He delivers a cool and outstanding role as the desperate commander who has to face down an enormous army. The cinematography for this movie is outstanding, and the siege really feels like a siege. I don’t really know what the budget for this movie was, but it looks almost like a Hollywood blockbuster. The most amazing thing about this movie is the end. It will leave you speechless as to how all of this was not widely known to the general public. This movie does a great job at setting the record straight, and is a tribute to the men who played such an important part in it, all those years ago. No matter how many times mankind says: “This can and must never be allowed to happen again”, history unfortunately tells us differently. That is a sad, but honest truth. If you like warmovies, this is definitely one you want to check out.

I give the Siege of Jadotville a 9 out of 10 score.

Macross Delta, Anime tv series (2015)

Way back in the year 1985 I encountered my first Anime show. Ofcourse at the time I was too young to even know it was called Anime, but I do remember the impact it had on my nine year old mind. The series showed a scene of the Earth being surrounded by an armada of 4 million spaceships, that all started firing at once. When the viewpoint shifts from space to the surface of the planet a soldier talking to a young child were just obliterated by the weapons firing. I was in shock, having never seen anything like that before. The name of that show was Robotech. Though technically not an Anime series, it was the American version of the Japanese series called Macross (and two other unrelated shows). To date Macross has spawned numerous sequels, and the latest version is called Macross Delta.

Macross Delta takes place eight years after the events of the previous Macross series Macross Frontier (I highly recommend that last one by the way). A big part of the galaxy is being engulfed by a mysterious disease called Var Syndrome, which turns people completely berserk. The only thing that seems to calm those infected down is a group of talented idols, Walküre, who use songs to help combat the infection. Walküre is supported by Delta Squadron, a group of extremely skilled Valkyrie fighter pilots. When a young girl called Freya wants to audition for Walküre she soon encounters the young man Hayate, who goes through jobs at an alarming rate. Hayate decides to help Freya get to her audition but soon the both of them get caught up in a conflict that threatens to destroy the entire galaxy….

Macross has always been a favorite of mine, and I have pretty much seen almost every series of it to date. This one however took me pretty long to get into. The first episode of Macross Delta did not really help with that, as we are introduced to about 25 different characters in the space of 10 minutes. I kid you not. As such the show is very hard to follow in the beginning. If this would have been anything else but Macross, I might have stopped watching altogether. I am glad I stuck with it though, because the series definitely got better after a few episodes. As is common in Macross we have another love triangle, this time between Hayate, Freya and my favorite character of the show the vulnerable but strongwilled Valkyrie pilot Mirage. The cast of Delta is huge, and I dare say it is a bit too big. Where Macross Delta shines is in it’s depiction of the Mecha battles. If you love transformable robot fighter planes beating the crap out of each other, you are in for a treat here. The Mecha themselves look absolutely stunning, especially the fighter plane of Mirage (see picture below).

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Another thing that is always present in Macross is the music, and this time we have the all female idol group Walküre, who takes care of that. They are a bit like the Spice Girls on acid to make a comparison. The songs are nice to listen to, and offer something for everyone. Macross Delta was an okay show, but it definitely is not as good as the previous series Macross Frontier. Where Frontier had very interesting and loveable characters, this show’s cast is just so big that some of them just get too little screentime to let you care about them. The story was being dragged out too long, and as such some of the episodes were way too slow. Still, if you are a Macross fan, or love shows featuring cool Mecha battles, there is still enough to enjoy about it. Give it some time to heat things up though….

I give Macross Delta a 7 out of 10 score.

Joker Game, Anime tv series (2016)

I have never been a big fan of spy movies. The James Bond movies for instance, even though I have seen them all, have never really appealed to me. What is appealing to me however, is atmosphere. There have also been shows or movies about espionage set just before or during the second World War. For some reason I have always loved that time period, simply because it breathes atmosphere. The cars, the costumes, the setting I simply love it. Browsing through the enormous list of Anime series that  Crunchyroll has to offer, I always try to pick something that is different from what I have seen before. That is how I came across the Anime Joker Game.

Joker Game is set in 1937, where the threat of impending war is beginning to make itself felt all across the world. To gather intelligence from different countries across the globe, the Imperial Japanese Lieutenant Yuuki forms a special unit called the D-Agency. In this spy agency, agents undergo a very rigorous training, before they are accepted as a member. The D-Agency mandate, “Don’t kill, Don’t die” is viewed throughout the rest of the army as the mandate of a bunch of cowards. Nothing is further from the truth however, as one of the newest recruits sent to observe the inner workings of the D-Agency, is about to find out. With threats both foreign and domestic appearing from everywhere, the D-Agency members are sent out to stop these threats on a variety of different missions.

Well, one thing is for sure, this Anime was definitely different from the shows I usually watch. The best way to describe it I guess is a bit of a slowburning film noir. Let’s talk about the good things first. The animation style is absolutely gorgeous. The late 30s are depicted in a very convincing way, and there are some truly breathtaking wideshot views of the cities that are visited throughout the show. Another thing worthy of note is the soundtrack made by Kenji Kawai, my absolute alltime favorite composer. Most people will know his work from the original Ghost in the Shell movie, and in Joker Game he again doesn’t disappoint. This series started off very good. I found the story to be very intriguing and it almost felt a bit like a puzzle you had to solve at times. I especially liked episode 6, where one of the D-Agency members has to find a killer aboard a train, who has murdered a contact who had some classified information on him.

Unfortunately this high level of quality did not continue in the later episodes. Though still entertaining, the stories were definitely not as good as the earlier ones. Another missed opportunity was the fact that there wasn’t a real overall storyline carrying on from episode to episode. I always like it when a show slowly builds up to something, but nearly every episode was a selfcontained story. Running for 12 episodes the series ends without having really accomplished something, and that was also a bit of a letdown. Still I do think this series deserves watching, especially for the pretty unique setting, and the earlier storylines.

I give Joker Game a 7 out of 10 score.