Saturday, February 3, 2018

Double Review: 'Kickboxer: Retaliation' / 'Mom and Dad'

In which we give you the skinny on all nine Best Picture nominees before puttin' a spotlight on two low-budget, limited-release genre movies well worth going out of your way to experience.

By: Jimbo X

Alright, I might as well give you my abridged take on this year's Oscars - not that either you or me really give a shit about what those self-righteous turds in Hollywood think about anything, naturally, especially their own damned movies. Come to think of it, just why are there so many damned movie awards show, anyway? You've got the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors' Guild Awards, the MTV Movie Awards - goddamn, these people are literally spending half the year publicly fellating one another. Can you even think of another industry so utterly obsessed with in-group affirmation? 'Cause I sure as hell can't. 

Anyhoo, the nominees for this year's Best Picture are pretty much what we all expected. Now, you might be tempted to go out there and watch all nine of 'em, but trust me, you really only need to see one, maybe two of them. Let's run down the list real quick, why don't we?

Call Me By Your Name - It's literally a movie about a 30-year-old Italian fruit who has sex with a 17-year-old Jewish boy, and the filmmakers have the gall to call us "perverts" for not celebrating it as a human rights triumph. It's pretty much the same thing as Moonlight, except with far less black people in it, and as we all know, the identity politics pyramid clearly values African-American homos more than your boring, garden-variety Caucasian rectal sojourner, so there ain't no way in hell this one's gonna' win.

Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman turns in a good performance as Winston Churchill, but that's pretty much all this one has going for it. I'm convinced the AMPAAS has some kind of unstated bylaw where at least one movie featuring nothing but people with British accents in it has to get nominated, and apparently this was this year's token selection.

Dunkirk - Fuck it, this was the best movie of 2017 and it wasn't even close. Alas, the Academy Awards don't select the Best Picture winner by choosing the best movie no more, only how much the directors piss and moan about being "discriminated against," so yeah, don't expect it to take the home statuette.

Get Out - The most overrated movie of the decade. You already know my thoughts on this one - as long as identity politics-obsessed black elitists are more pissy heading into the broadcast than identity politics-obsessed female elitists, it'll probably win.

Lady Bird - Holy hell, this was the most boring critically acclaimed movie I've seen since Boyhood. It's literally a glorified Lifetime movie about this lunk-headed 18-year-old girl that has no idea what she wants out of existence and she yells at her mom a lot and doesn't even get mad at her boyfriend for cheating on her with another dude because, really, aren't all gay people the real "victims" here? God, fuck this movie, hard.

Phantom Thread - This one is a huge disappointment. After There Will Be Blood, you'd think Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson re-teaming would be a recipe for cinematic greatness, but this movie is just a snoozer. Basically, it's just DDL chewing the scenery as this hard-assed fashion designer back in the 1950s, and this one waitress tries to poison him with wild fungi and he starts having visions of his dead mother and then she tries to poison him again and DDL decides to eat the tainted food anyway because he kinda' likes being treated like shit. So basically, it's a two-hour long endorsement of cuckoldery, in which a woman who tries to murder her husband several times is depicted as the "hero" - all I can say is "thanks a lot, Hillary."

The Post - Long suspected pedophile Steven Spielberg brings us this heavy-handed political potboiler about the Pentagon Papers and Richard Nixon, although it's obviously trying to be some sort of allegory for Donald Trump's war on "fake news." It's physically impossible to watch more than 20 minutes of the movie before lapsing into a coma, so I'm assuming they nominated this one simply to make a social statement

The Shape of Water - The most nominated film of the 2018 Oscars is a ripoff of the sequel to The Creature from the Black Lagoon and features a sex scene between an anorexic broad with an Adam's apple and a fish monster. Yeah, I don't know why box office revenue is declining either.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Next to Dunkirk, this is the only nominated movie I'd recommend spending money to watch in an actual theater. It's about that bitch from Fargo who declares jihad on the local police chief for not doing anything about her daughter's rape and murder, and it ends with her throwing a goddamn Molotov cocktail through the sheriff's department front window and vowing to drive to Idaho to kill a guy she thinks may have raped another woman without having any substantial evidence because that's just the way people in the #MeToo era think nowadays. It ain't a great movie by any stretch, but it's still a decent rainy day, dollar theater candidate if you ain't got nothing else going on on Sundays 'cause the pro football season is over. Shit, it's better than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, at least.

So you got nine movies nominated for Best Picture, and only one of 'em is legitimately and objectively great while the rest of 'em are mediocre or worse, but because they're driving home some sort of pro-black or pro-gay or pro-woman agenda, of COURSE the Academy was going to give 'em a nod. Unfortunately, this looks like it's going to be standard operating procedure from now on when it comes to the Oscars, to the point they might as well just rechristen the whole shindig as the Annual Affirmative Action Awards.

Let's face it, the Oscars are nothing more than a glorified circle jerk for rich white liberals and their underpaid minority pawns they befriend and support only as a means of sticking it to their ideological white rivals. The Academy doesn't know dookie about what makes a movie objectively and empirically good any more, and there's absolutely no reason whatsoever for any of us to give a damn about the overhyped festivities. So instead of watching that shameless four-hour-long cock suck-a-thon, you know what I'll be doing come Awards night? 

That's right, I'll be doing what all REAL Americans ought to be doing - watching Stand Alone TWICE, maybe even three times if I can stay awake long enough.

Surprisingly, he doesn't eat a single child throughout the entire movie.

But if you're sick and tired of Oscar bait claptrap (and you most certainly should be), boy, do I have the cure for what ails you - the finest no-budget MMA-sploitation ass-kick-a-thon to come down the pipes in years, none other than Kickboxer: Retaliation, which for those of you trying to keep count at home, is the seventh installment in the series

Oddly enough, the movie starts off in the LEAST manly way possible - with these two froths doing a sexy dance on a train, only for this one guy to come in there with a gun (and another dude with an ax!) to have a perfume commercial interrupting kung fu battle. Then this 120 pound Chinese chick dressed like she's in The Matrix shows up and our leading man has to ram her head into the side of the train 15 times, then they have ANOTHER karate battle on top of the train in the pouring rain, except THIS time she's wearing some kind of leather bondage gear. And then he gets yanked off the train at the last second and drowned in a lake below, and then it's time for the opening credits that let us ALL relive the highlights of Kickboxer parts one through six.

Then we cut to RENZO GRACIE calling a fake UFC match in a high school gym somewhere where this dude called Kurt Sloane finishes of Renato Sobral with his patented "hurricane armbar." And hey, it's the same guy from the opening train scene, but he's not dead after all because NOW we're finding out the first ten minutes of the movie was a dream sequence. Then some U.S. marshals show up and say they know about the time he killed this one tattooed guy in Thailand but he swears up and down it was self-defense and then the "marshals" taze him because they aren't really marshals but guys working for some international kung-fu heroin cartel or something. Then he wakes up nekkid in a cage somewhere in Cambodia with Christopher Lambert lording over him and telling him he's gotta' have ONE MORE karate death fight for his pleasure or else he's gonna' kill his girlfriend. Oh, and by the way, the guy he wants Sloane to fight is this 400 pound Australian guy that looks like Zangief from Street Fighter II, if you duck taped two of 'em together.

So Sloane winds up getting locked up in a Thai prison island where he has to pick rice 12 hours a day and spin kick Laotians in the face before they can rape him behind a bamboo hut. But that don't stop the guards from chaining him up and whipping him with a cat o' nine tails like he was Kunta Kinte, though. So Sloane beats up a couple of 'em while they're playing Candy Crush, steals their phone, calls his girlfriend to let her know he's been Shanghaied and then he gets into a nunchaku fight with this one guy for no real reason whatsoever. And that's when he runs into his new cellmate - MIKE FUCKIN' TYSON. Yes, the real one, and they immediately have the closest thing we've ever seen to a Ken vs. Balrog fight in real life and it is SUPERB.

Then Sloane's wife shows up and talks to the three or four police in Bangkok who aren't corrupt, and then Sloane and Mike bond after getting dual lashings and he shows him how to make Fentanyl out of some green beans growing in the prison yard. And then Sloane finds JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME hanging out next to a picnic table and he tells him about how Lambert blowtorched his eyeballs off and he's not even that mad about being blind now. So JCVD teaches him how to fight by smell, but it's taking him a while to get the hang of it. And just when you think this movie can't get anymore awesome, goddamn ROY NELSON shows up and teaches Sloane how to bust cinder blocks with his forehead like Super Mario. Then JCVD and Mike Tyson START to have a karate battle, but Sloane breaks it up before things start getting really good. Then we learn the guy Lambert wants Sloane to fight is actually a HALF RHINO GENETICALLY MODIFIED STEROID MONSTER and JCVD offers to fight him instead but Sloane keeps practicing for the fight by having Ronaldinho (yes, that Ronaldinho) kick soccer balls at him. Then they sneak out of prison so Sloane can have a tune-up fight against this one guy who looks JUST like Sloane, except a little bit more 'roided up. Then JCVD calls up his hitherto unacknowledged son to help them kidnap a Yakuza boss' nephew or something like that and that's our cue for a donnybrook at the local fish market, complete with a ninja getting his face melted off by hot grease while "Wipeout" plays in the background. And then Sloane chases the dude on top of a train (just like in his premonition at the beginning of the movie) and they both jump off it at the same time and Sloane punches the dude once and that's it.

Then Sloane makes it to Lambert's high-rise and he has to fight these two Cambodian chicks wearing neon orange lipstick in a hall of mirrors and after a while he gets bored so he just kicks a wall on top of 'em and then this one guy starts stalking him with a handgun but the rest of the crew bails him out and Sloane kicks a knife into a dude's throat and rescues his wife but then that giant steroid monster shows up, kicks his ass, and punches his wife so hard she immediately has a heart attack and falls into a coma. So now Sloane HAS to fight the steroid monster for the sweetest nectar of all, REVENGE. And if you're wondering whether or not the climactic showdown lives up to the hype, I assure you it most certainly DOES. Not only does it go on for HALF AN HOUR, it's got just about every kind of "fu" in it you can think of, from scimitar fu to throwing star fu to metal chain fu to the oft-spoken-about-but-rarely-seen "one fighter's been declared legally dead but then gets resurrected by a dose of nuclear adrenaline zombie Muay Thai while blindfolded just for the hell of it fu." Needless to say, if we see a cinematic brawl more awesome than this in 2018, we're DEFINITELY in store for a banner year at the multiplex.

We've got nine dead bodies. Zero breasts. Two exposed buttocks (both male, in case you were wondering.) 12 kung fu sequences, including the grand finale that takes about 30 minutes. One MMA fight. Four sword fights. One bicycle chase. One strangulation. One attempted drowning. Shiv to the kidneys. Gratuitous slow mo effects. Gratuitous "Wipeout." Gratuitous prisoner whippings. Gratuitous Wanderlei Silva cameos (complete with him swinging an ax - get it?) Fire extinguisher fu. Potted plant fu. Grease trap fu. Adrenaline needle fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place - some serious Dr. Scholls fu.

Starring Alan Moussi, the world's greatest Gabonese Savate expert cum stunt coordinator as Kurt Sloane; Christopher Lambert as Thomas Moore, the evil fight promoter who says "you have such a great spirit - I'd hate to waste it"; the inimitable Mike Tyson as Briggs, who stops to sip tea during a prison fight and says "you're interrupting my meditation"; Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Durand, the blind kickboxing guru who says "you mention Mongkut one more time and I'll smash your big face"; and Icelandic basketball player/Game of Thrones star Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Mongkut, the seven-foot-tall, 400-pound steroid monster with a surprisingly weak chin.

Written and directed by Dimitri Logothetis, quite possibly the greatest Greek kung fu exploitation movie kingpin of the 2010s, who gets all the props in the world for setting up one of the best sequel hooks in recent memory - if the post-credits stinger ain't misleading us, apparently, Kickboxer 8 is going to feature SHOGUN RUA as the lead villain.

All I can say is hot damn, is this one entertaining as all hell. After watching so many damn movies TRY to imitate the karate B-movies of the 1980s, finally somebody came along and made the first TRULY great SINCERE karate B-movie of our generation. I have no problem giving a flick this unpretentiously fun three and a half stars out of four. Jimbo says check it out, and if it don't make you want to jumping roundhouse kick the usher on the way out of the theater, you better check your damned pulse.

If you think that's bad, you ought to see what he did to the foosball table!

But just you wait - we've got another great holdover from 2017 finally making its way around postage-stamp sized indie theaters near you called Mom and Dad that you DEFINITELY need to check out if you're afforded the opportunity.

The flick doesn't waste any time at all getting into the good stuff, with this one MILF parking her SUV on the middle of a train track and letting a locomotive cream it while her kids are still trapped in the backseat within the first three minutes of the movie. Then after this 1970s-inspired intro (complete with a song that sounds like it was an unused holdover from The Stepford Wives or The Demon Seed), we cut to Selma Blair and Nic Cage eating fried eggs prepared by their Chinese maid while their teen daughter chides them for being racist because they don't want her fucking her black boyfriend.

Then Nic Cage - looking more and more like Al Bundy every movie - has a tickle fight with his son then he has flashbacks to when he was in his 20s and used to cut donuts in a Trans-Am while some random skank shoved her titties in his face. Then the high school econ teacher starts talking about "planned obsolesce" and the teenage daughter and her best friend vape in the bathroom and buy Molly from an angry goth chick and then a HORDE of angry parents show up outside the school, apparently trying to yank their kids out of class at the exact same time. Then a freshman gets pulled over the gate and his momma stabs him to death with a set of car keys, and from there, the teenage shish-ka-bob festival is an all-go. We've got dads smothering their daughters with trash bags, cops ground and pounding soccer moms like Brock Lesnar did to Frank Mir that one time and 300 pound dads grabbing first down markers and trying to poke their neighbor's lower intestines out, and it is GLORIOUS.

Then the black kid - who looks like he's played by a 31-year-old actor - goes home and his daddy backhands him for no reason whatsoever and then he breaks a bottle of Jim Beam over the coffee table but accidentally winds up severing his own jugular. Then the two teen girls smoke weed and flip it over to CNN and learn that parents across the country have all of a sudden gone psycho and started killing their own children en masse. And then, of all people, DR. OZ makes a cameo to explain to the viewer what "savaging" is and then Selma Blair's kid's best friend gets strangled to death with a pair of nylon socks by her own momma. Then we have a TREMENDOUS scene where a mother gives birth at the hospital and all of a sudden she gets parental psychosis and she tries to stab her newborn to death with a scalpel while "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette plays in the background. Then we cut to Nic Cage, who has fallen asleep at work watching Latina shemale porn. Then a whole bunch of parents start standing outside the nursery like they're eyeing a Golden Corral buffet. Then the teen girl and her black 31-year-old boyfriend find out her maid murdered her own child and has been mopping up her blood in the kitchen for the last two hours. Then Nic Cage comes home and yells at his daughter's black boyfriend about anal beads and then he beats him unconscious and we cut to a flashback from several weeks ago of Cage building his own pool table and his wife yelling at him for spending so much money on a man-cave so he grabs a sledgehammer and DESTROYS it while singing "The Hokey Pokey."

Then it's time for mom to come home, and for the next 30 minutes they try to break into the basement so they can chew on their children's brains. Except it's the first time they've really had time to BOND with one another as husband and wife in years so they're actually SAVING THEIR MARRIAGE by working in tandem to commit pedocide. And without giving away the rest of the movie, let's just say the conclusion involves ALL of the following: the black kid getting a coathanger shoved through his face, Selma Blair swinging a meat mallet around like Leatherface in too much lipgloss and Nicolas Cage getting set on fire, only to emerge 15 minutes later with Froot Loops matted in his burn wounds and looking to tear his kids' spleen out with a tree trimmer.

And just when you think things can't get any better - that's when Nic's MOM AND DAD show up to try and kill him with pepper spray and meat cleavers. Trust me - watching Nic Cag and Lance Henriksen have a knife fight is something you NEVER knew you needed in your life until you actually see it with your own two eyes.

Granted, the ending is a bit of a letdown, but good golly, is it a fun ride getting there. This *MIGHT* just be the best zombie movie since the original [REC] from 2007, even if it IS a total and complete ripoff of the Stephen King novel "Cell" (needless to say, this is STILL a much better adaptation than the official tie-in movie we got back in 2016, though.)

We've got nine dead bodies. Two breasts. One dead billiards table. One dead Trans-Am. Car keys to the eyeball. Mace to the face. Throat slitting. Attempted fetus mutilating. Mother-in-law head crushing. One exploding booby trap. Gratuitous yoga workouts. Gratuitous on-screen text messaging (boy, is that an overused and trite special effect?) Gratuitous close-ups of Selma Blair's crows' feet. Gratuitous middle-aged woman beating. Gratuitous Grant Morrison cameos (yep, that Grant Morrison.) Sledgehammer fu. Power saw fu. Meat tenderizer fu. Shovel fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place - some serious generation gap fu.

Starring Nic Cage as Brent, the father figure going through a particularly nasty case of mid-life crisis who says "I was gonna' grab the world by the balls and SQUEEZE 'em, man"; Selma Blair as Kendall, the MILF-tastic mom with bangs like Zooey Deschanel who cries because her ex-boyfriend from 15 years ago won't give her a job at his graphic design company and winds up karate chopping her daughter's boyfriend over a banister to his death; Anne Winters as Carly, the teenage daughter who watches her best friend get strangled with a pair of Spanx and has surprisingly deep knowledge of how to turn a heating vent into a makeshift flamethrower; Robert T. Cunningham as Damon, the high school junior boyfriend who looks like he's 35; and Lance Henriksen, who doesn't show up until the last ten minutes of the movie, which is still just enough time to call his son a pussy and try to knife him to death in a knock-down, drag-down kung fu battle. 

Written and directed by Brian Taylor, the same guy who gave us the Crank movies and the second Ghost Rider flick. Yeah, it blows my mind knowing there's two of those fucking things, too

All you Academy clods sucking Get Out's dick ought to give this one a gander - this is how you do sociocultural subtext in a horror movie RIGHT. I give it three and a half stars out of four - Jimbo says check it out, and not just because Nic Cage desperately and direly needs the money to pay off his back taxes, neither.


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