action movie freak    

 

Actionfest 2010 2012

ACTIONFEST 2011
(April 7-10) Asheville, NC
 
 

From the ActionFest site here is the list of AWARDS:

ACTIONFEST JURY AWARDS
30 Seconds of Action: Evan Pease’s Action Figures
Best Action Sequence: The noctural garbage truck/dune buggy chase in Tomorrow When The War Began
Best Stuntwork: Bangkok Knockout‘s stunt team
Best Director: Julian Gilbey for A Lonely Place To Die
Best Film: A Lonely Place To Die

ACTIONFEST AWARDS
Producer of the Year: Somsak Techaratanapresert (Chocolate, Ong Bak)
Stunt Coordinator of the Year: Russell Towery for Machete
Man of Action: Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, The Dark Knight)
ActionFest Lifetime Achievement Award: Buddy Joe Hooker (First Blood, Deathproof, The Wraith, Hooper and too many others to count!)
ActionFest Recognition Award: Stunts Unlimited on their fortieth anniversary

 

Here are TRAILERS, REVIEWS of the movies I saw, plus my NOTES on the PANELS:

Release Date
(Country)
 

ActionFest 2011
FILM LIST
Director Trailer
 
YouTube playlist of all 2011 trailers
25 Sep 2010
(Japan)

10 Apr 2011
(Actionfest)


1 May 2011
(USA)

6 May 2011
(UK)


 

13 Assassins Director Takeshi Miike13 Assassins
(126 min./141 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Takeshi Miike

A group of samurai warriors come together to assassinate the Shogun's evil son for the greater good.  It's a suicide mission of a dozen men against hundreds. A remake, it also brings up issues of duty conflicting with personal integrity when one jealous, competitive, and inferior samurai stubbornly defines himself through his duty versus what is right.

 

13Assassins

 

13 ASSASSINS

What can one say about such an excellent film?  It was a triumph for Director Takashi Miike on every level. It gave us a glimpse into another society, another world, in another time. Personal sacrifice for values and the greater good, and nobility of character are too seldom given this reverential treatment.  The acting was superb. The fighting . . . well, words are not enough to do justice to the imaginative scale and the (filmmaking) effort. You can appreciate that only by watching it. By contrast, the story was simple yet so well arranged, it never dragged and it never felt rushed.

13 Assassins final battle between Hanbei and ShinzaemonThe 13 samurai vs. 200+ soldiers was realistically done. They made the samurai look like the skilled bad asses that they were (although the actors seemed a teeny bit soft and out of shape when they showed them with their shirts off), but, in the end (SPOILER) they were appropriately exhausted and bloody, and then (realistically) killed. The epic effort of so few men tasked with the assassination of a man (the villain Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira) protected by a huge personal army, was balanced by the smaller drama of the personal issues between the two leading characters Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) leader of the samurai warriors, and Hanbei Kitou (Masachica Ichimura) the conflicted General of Lord Naritsugu's soldiers.

Goro InagakiGorô Inagaki (at right) played the villain, Lord Naritsugu, and I haven't been that creeped out since I watched Ralph Feinnes play Aemon Goethe in Schindler's List. I think he stole the show. As much as you hated him, his screen presence was mesmerizing, and his serene portrayal of the character's shocking psychopathy seem to suck the air out of the room.

The plot had interesting twists and they didn't give away the battle preparations, which made it more fun for the audience.  It was almost too much to take in—so many actors, and so much stunt choreography and sword work.  I said almost. The ending battle was, as ActionFest Programmer Peter Kaplowsky described it when he introduced it, "a full-on 40-minute action sequence that never lets up".

When it came to the woman who was maimed, I thought about whether it was necessary to show her naked, or if it would have had the same impact if she was covered but they showed just her limbs. In the end, to anyone normal, I think her being naked really drove home how sick a man must be to do that to a woman and then keep her around to have sex with. Maybe if she were Carmen Electra with lots of makeup and fake boobs, some guys would have thought "Hey, yeah" but at least this particular actress didn't create that reaction (I can only hope), instead, she was just pitiful.  The overwhelming sentiment against the villain, Naritsugu, carried me past the discomfort of the further degradation of that female character. (If it was a real life situation and not a film, I think the last thing they would do is strip her like that. But, artistic license.)

As far as the experience of seeing it at ActionFest, there was a reverential tone in the auditorium when the movie began. The tense excitement of so much positive anticipation, and then one guy to my right ruining it by laughing at the seppuku! I can't imagine and don't want to know what he found funny.  I had a little trouble reading the subtitles because the person in front of me shifted his head a lot so I felt like a bobble head in reaction, and felt sorry for the person behind me. 

I would love to see this movie again. It won the 2011 Asian Film Award for Best Production Designer, and 4 Awards from the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Art Direction,  Best Cinematography,  Best Lighting, and  Best Sound. Although it was nominated for 2011 Best Picture from the Japan Academy Prize, it did not win. It's coming to the U.S. to the San Francisco Film Festival with a release date of 1 May 2011.  I hope I get to see it again here in Miami (in IMAX!).
 

12 Feb 2011
(Germany)

9 Apr 2011
(Actionfest)


Oct 2011
(UK)


 

Director Julian GilbeyA Lonely Place To Die
(98 min.)
WORLD PREMIERE

Director:  Julian Gilbey

A group of five mountaineers are hiking and climbing in the Scottish Highlands get caught up in a terrifying game of cat and mouse.

Link to Movie Short
(formerly The Long Weekend)


 
A Lonely Place To Die

A LONELY PLACE TO DIE

woman cliff repelling in a Lonely Place To Die movieSuch a suspenseful Chase movie, DO NOT watch the preview.  It's that good!  Trust that you will enjoy the story and don't ruin any of the surprises by watching or reading about it before you see it.  It will surely be compared to Deliverance as it is a kind of long weekend gone wrong. The ActionFest Award winner for Best Director and Action Movie Of The Year, A Lonely Place to Die was beautifully shot. Filmed in the Scottish highlands, around Glencoe, the cinematography (Ali Asad) was as breathtaking as the scenery, and had a artistic, high-quality photography feel. Shadows of low-flying clouds slipping across the face of a mountain or sliding slowly over a range of hills seemed mystical and other-worldly. The remoteness and the harsh landscape added immeasurably to the suspense. The soundtrack featured "By Yon Castle Wa" which seems so bittersweet, it made me think of what it must feel like to die and  look back on the Earth as you leave.  It was very well acted and after a quick (but perfectly sufficient) introduction to the characters, it took off and kept you in suspense (when you were not in shock).  (I'm not talking about the stunt work either because I don't want to ruin anything. Go see it when it comes out!)

The screening of the movie was followed by a Q&A with Director Julian Gilbey who co-wrote the script with his younger brother, Will.  Mr. Gilbey also did the 2nd Unit Direction and Edited the picture.  He advised the audience on keeping their scripts to 86 pages (the standard 1 min. per page) because you always go over. His 86 min. film came out to 98 min.  They had the biggest stunt budget ever for Carnaby International.  They kept the crew on location to a minimum for the difficult shoots after a near-death experience with a falling boulder slightly larger than a milk crate.  The crowd thanked him for not using too much shaky cam.

9 Apr 2011
(Actionfest)

Not yet released
 
Bail Enforcers
(85 min.)
WORLD PREMIERE

Director:  Patrick McBrearty

Seven-time WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus leaps from the ring to the silver screen with her debut performance as the member of a crackerjack team of bounty hunters who hit the jackpot when they pick up an informant with a hundred thousand dollar bounty on his head.

Before they can claim their reward, they’ll have to fight the entire mob underworld, and match skills with a trio of deadly assassins. While the film’s trappings are distinctly lo-fi, Stratus impresses with an undeniable screen presence and not to mention her badass stylings of the intense Israeli martial art style Krav Maga!
— Colin Geddes

Actionfest Festival Director

BailEnforcers

 

BAIL ENFORCERS

Trish Stratus (7-time WWE Women's Champion) delivered the best beatdown of Actionfest so far in Bail Enforcers. I'm just saying that 'cause I'm a girl. You betcha!!  It was what I was waiting for. She undresses :( to change, in a strip club :( where she works as a bartender, with strippers (boobs) :(, but she is clothed when she fights :D!  And what fighting!  From the movie: "Don't let her good looks fool you, she can kick some serious ass!" They made it look very convincing. The movie seems like the kind that will definitely benefit from word of mouth, meaning regardless what the critics say, audiences will love it and tell their friends it was good and they have to see it.

The audience particularly loved the limited-space fight in the bathroom between Trish's co-stars  Andrea James Lui and Boomer Phillips. (I bet this scene will be nominated or Best Fight Scene on the MTV Movie Awards.)

For me, Boomer Phillips was a mashup in the looks and comedy of Ashton Kutcher and Dane Cook, and add the cliche: on steroids. (He was really squeezing comedy gold out of playing the big dumb thing. He got beat up a lot despite his size, and after the (hilarous) outtakes, I would say he almost stole the show—Doesn't take away from Trish, I think it only adds to the movie.  Trish also had a big finale fight with Andrea "When I get the cuffs off, I'm gonna show you how a real bitch slaps."  Yeah, with her fist!  Maybe in her next movie, she could be a bouncer at a MALE strip club in Vegas, keep her clothes on (I can hear the men booing LOL), and also feature "The Rated R Superstar" Edge!

Trish's co-stars Frank J. Zupancic, Andrea James Lui, and the Director Patrick McBrearty came up front to introduce the film and stayed afterwards for Q&A and to take photos with fans in the audience.  Oh yeah . . .  and her WWE friends "Edge" and "Victoria" showed up to support her (squealing).  Fred asked if the WWE is supporting the movie or if she was being pressured to work with their movie company instead. Trish said the WWE was supporting it and would even be showing clips of the movie to promote it.

The Director said that he wanted to do something with a female lead (hooray!) and this was written with Trish in mind. Q&A included a question about o mo versus real time and how the fight scenes were shot. I believe the cinematographer was in the audience to field that question, Justin G. Dyck,, and he said it was all shot in slo mo and then the normal speed parts sped up later. There was also a question that led to the Director saying the film was done on? "red camera" with an m/x upgrade and shot on 4K. That's all Greek to me but he said it was an accessible ($) camera. They also promoted the TV show "Tough Enough". When asked what else she had been in, Andrea promoted her comedy work on asiansploitation.com.

Check out BailEnforcersMovie.com, and they're on Facebook, and follow them on twitter: @bail_enforcers (and @trishstratuscom). Help spread the word to go see it:  It's everything Action Movie Freaks crave!

10 Dec 2010
(Thailand)

 
BKO: Bangkok Knockout
(107 min.)
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE


Director: 
Panna Rittikrai

A group of 'fight club' pals whose styles vary from Muay Thai and Capoeira to Kung Fu and Tai Chi must fight for their lives when one of their friends is kidnapped.

 

Bangkok Knockout Trailer
 
BKO: Bangkok Knockout

There was so much fighting going on in this movie, so many characters, it all went by so fast—They kept getting more and more complicated and dangerous, and impressive. The flaming ax! . . . I remember thinking "the Thai are crazy." They switched from hand to hand, to swords, to pipes to guns, to motorcycles, to cars (at one point someone almost got run over), to fighting under a moving semi (and that's not the half of it). I wrote so quickly I can't even read my notes, except these: "somersaulting kick"  "slo-mo grand finale fight-holy holy!" and "love me some rock throwing!"

The most impressive thing to me (besides the huge fight at the end) was the fight inside the chain link fence cage. If you've ever tried to climb a chain link fence, you know how hard it can be on the hands, and how the holes are just a little too small to jamb your foot in, so you can only get the big toe.  It's not easy, yet they were doing crazy acrobatics. Even if it was sped up, it was gravity-defyingly awesome.  The athleticism of these young actors (and a few older) was the best I've seen so far. The cast included a kick-ass female character who was part of the fighting team! 

It was incredibly entertaining and looked so dangerous, that a couple times "Oh my God" slipped out; I couldn't help it. There were other people in the audience more astonished and more vocal than me. I think everyone held their breath then let out a collective groan of relief when the female lead was hanging off the side of the moving semi. (Forgive me that there are no credits but there are none as yet on IMDB.) In that scene in the first picture at top right (the one that was used to promote the film) where they seem to be jumping from one side of the building to the other: EVERYBODY FALLS  at least one story onto the concrete floor! It didn't even looked padded (no bounce). The movie started out fairly slowly but then it built momentum as each fight scene was a little more over the top than the last.  Almost the entire movie (with little breaks here and there) was fighting. Don't believe me? Watch the 1:10 preview, and then imagine 107 minutes of that. It kind of felt like this:   _\m/ THAILAND, F--- YEAH! \m/_

16 Dec 2000
(Japan)


 
Battle Royale 2000
aka Batoru Rowaiaru
(114 min.)

Director:  Kinji Fukasaku

In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of unruly ninth-grade students who boycotted class, and forces them to kill each other under a government-sanctioned "Battle Royale" Act.  They are isolated on a deserted island, released with weapons, and the last teen standing wins.

 

BattleRoyale

BATTLE ROYALE (2000)

In 2010, when Action Movie Freaks got together and voted for their Top 100 Action Movies on AllOuttaBubbleGum.com, guess which movie came up #1 in the consensus?  This one!  Since I had never seen it, I had to check it out.  The concept was awesome!  Now I see this is where The Condemned came from. I liked The Condemned (I bought the DVD) and I liked this movie too (I'd watch it again).  It's a little strange because it's so violent and yet it's all teenagers, so there's a lot of humor. The immature emotions of a teenager play into the killing, and the comedy. As you can imagine, if you've never seen the movie, teen life-and-death issues can seem pretty funny—imagine if someone had handed you a gun in the 9th grade and you had a grudge.  "Life is a game. So fight for survival and find out if you're worth it." Strange message here that killing makes your life worthwhile. Some teens committed suicide rather than play. Sure takes the 'fun' out of the message.

The kids are given a backpack with certain supplies for survival for 3 days (there's a clock on the killing/hunt), and each of them is given a different weapon, some more lethal than others. One kid gets a pot lid. I think they could have had a little more fun with how they used what they got. The movie could have been a little longer for me because I didn't feel invested in their survival. Maybe I missed something but this was presented as a justifiable thing to do to the kids without showing why they were so awful, besides boycotting class.  If they had shown the teens fighting/bad behavior in the classroom first, and there was a power struggle going on among  them, then dumped them into a real-life battle to magnify their conflict, as long as there were clearly 'good' kids and 'bad' kids, I think I might have cared.  Here they all seemed not so bad.  I found out there are books that go into more detail and I am wondering if there was a bigger or more smaller morality lessons here.

The killings were pretty graphic and overdone a little which took the seriousness out of it a bit and added to its 'campy' feel.
 


(Sundance)

 
Bellflower
(105 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Evan Glodell

2 friends venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. All their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang "Mother Medusa". One of them meets and falls in love with a charismatic young woman and and new group of friends. They set off on a journey of betrayal, love, hate, infidelity, and extreme violence.

BellFlower
 
13 Jan 2010
(France)

 
Black Dynamite
(84 min.)
A Michael Jai White FEATURE


Director: 
Scott Sanders

Black Dynamite is the greatest African-American action star of the 1970s. When his only brother is killed by The Man it's up to him to find justice.

 

BlackDynamite
 
2011
(USA)

11 Sep 2010
(Toronto/TIFF)

 
Bunraku
(118 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Writer/Director:  Guy Moshe

The story of a a young man who has spent his life searching for revenge only to find himself up against a bigger challenge than he originally bargained for.

Bunraku Trailer

 

Bunraku

This is not a review of the movie.  Maybe I was just tired at this point in the festival, but I found the artwork so inspiring and distracting that I wasn't really following the story, instead I started sketching ideas for a new look for my website! The look of the movie seemed like a cross between a really expensive TV commercial and a noir film. There were lots of weird and original cuts between scenes. One I particularly liked was a landscape picture on a bottle of liquor coming to life. I also loved the idea of the killers on cards that were hung on a string and canceled out like a game. Also, I have never seen the captions in boxes used in a movie like that before (like they have in comic books) (or if I did I don't remember it. Sin City?) and I loved it! It really gave it a moving-comic-book feel at times. I expected the same kind of colorful look of Hobo With A Shotgun throughout, but the color scheme changed from bright to muddy, and back again so there didn't seem to be that consistently shocking kind of neon in-your-face look of Hobo. There was a lot of blue-purple, dark teal, lime, maroon, red-violet, orange, and olive drab, but there were also scenes where it was just light yellow and dark grey, and color was not the star. I found the changes in the color scheme intensity to also be distracting. 

I really love Josh Hartnett. (I would have liked to see him instead of Shia LaBeouf as Indiana Jones' son.) There was one scene in particular where he smiled, but only with his eyes. He was awesome! (I loved him in Black Hawk Down, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and  Hollywood Homicide too. I think he is underappreciated.)

The fighting was incredible and deserves another look. I am sure I will buy this movie. I love to escape into a movie where they have created a different world from costumes to sets. The gangs and their outfits, the landscape origami; there's just too much to take in the first time.  Kevin McKidd fighting with his cane and scarf was a real tribute to the creativity of Fight Coordinator Larnell Stovall, and Mr. McKidd's stunt double Chris Brewster III (pictured at left). Thanks to Actionfest for inspiring me to credit the "unsung heroes".

 

201111
(USA)

 
Fightville
(85 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE


Directors:  Petra Epperlein
Michael Tucker

Far from Las Vegas, in sweat-soaked gyms and low-rent arenas across America, the big lights are but a dream. Here, men fight to test their mettle, fortified with the mythic promise that an ordinary man can transform into a champion.

Fightville

 
8 Apr 2011
(Actionfest)


 
Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie MOVIE
(TBA)
SPECIAL WORKPRINT SCREENING

Directors: 
Andrew Corvey
Andrew W. Robinson

Framed by the Saturday-morning-cartoon-style antics of an oppressed peasant seeking kung fu wisdom from an anachronistic Shaolin Temple video store clerk, Films Of Fury delves into the rich, exhilarating and frequently hilarious history of kung fu movies. Written by renowned kung fu film scholar Ric Meyers (author of Great Martial Arts Movies) and featuring hundreds of bone-crunching, blood-squirting, and bamboo-shooting excerpts from the kung fu cinema canon, this doc will have its audience of fight-click converts furiously scribbling down every movie title that gets mentioned. From the heyday of the Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest, to the pioneers Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan, to the cinema of the West’s newfound respect for the ancient arts — with Kung Fu Panda and Kill BillFilms Of Fury has it covered!
— Colin Geddes

Actionfest Festival Director

 

FilmsofFury

 

Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie MOVIE

Mr. Meyers, the author, who introduced the film and stayed for Q&A (and was selling Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie BOOK for just $10, autographed and free poster too!) said this was a "workprint sneak preview", and asked us to give him our comments and suggestions afterwards.  It did as Mr. Geddes said above "have its audience of fight-flick converts furiously scribbling down every movie title that gets mentioned".  I scribbled only the ones I really wanted to see or watch again (buy). Scribbled is right because they come at you really fast.  It was an entertaining way to present a ton of material.  Since the movie seemed finished to me and I had no suggestions, here's the list of movie I scribbled and any notes:  I just wish I could see them with Mr. Meyers!  Maybe he could do a Audio Commentary and they could release  these in box sets by fighting style, country, or just chronological.  (Hope I got the titles right and chose the right links on IMDB. If you're reading this and notice anything wrong, please email me: ripley@actionmoviefreak.com)

CHEN CHANG
Five Elements Ninja
(1982)
Dynasty of Blood
aka Blood Brothers (1973)

CHIA-LIANG LIU
Challenge of the Masters
(1976)
Executioners From Shaolin
 (1977)
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
Legendary Weapons of China (1982)

JACKIE CHAN
Project A
(1983)
Ji ji aka Miracle (1989)
Police Story
(1985)
The Legend of Drunken Master
(1994)  
Super Cop
(1992)

WOMEN
Women Wushu Warriors (couldn't find it on IMDB)
Come Drink With Me
(1966)  . . .  and 2014!
Angela Mao . . . Jade Fox . . . Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock in Female Reporterer aka
Blonde Fury (1989)
Yes Madam
(1985) Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock

JET LI
The Shaolin Temple (1982)
Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986)6)
Fist of Legend
(1994)
Hero
(2000)
The Warlords
(2007)

JOHN WOO
A Better Tomorrow
(1986)
Hard Boiled 
(1992)   . . . I (2011) and II (2011) "short"?
Red Cliff
(2008)

WUXIA (woo-sha)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(2000)
Hero
(2002)
House of Flying Daggers
(2004)
Kung Fu Panda
(2008) watch it again for the Kung Fu and not the comedy after reading Mr. Meyers' book

"Gun Fu" 
"Battle Fu"
"Fx Fu"
Gangster Fu?
 God of Gamblers (Chow Yun Fat)

STEPHEN CHOW
Kung Fu Hustle (2004) (saw it but don't own it, on BUY list)
All For The Winner
(1990)
Shaolin Soccer
(2001) WOW! starring Kwok-Kwan Chan
 
(Jeet Kune Do ) (looks like Bruce Leeee! was also in Kung Fu Hustle)

SAMMO HUNG KAM-BO ("hard-hitting brawls")
SPL aka Saat Po Long aka
Kill Zone (2005)

YUEN WO PING
("mystical brawls")
Iron Monkey
(1993)

DONNIE YEN
Ip Man
(2008)8)

[The only thing I noticed to change was to remove the first subtitle of Vengeance and just leave the second since it ruined the spoken words by giving away the title early, which I mentioned Mr. Meyers later in the lobby. Mr. Meyers was there for the entire festival and was so nice to everyone and answered all our questions.] 

How nice to have so many people at ActionFest who are SO enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Action Movies (like 2010 Festival Director Matthew Kiernan and, new this year: ActionFest Festival Programmer Man In Hat Stephen Kuplowsky.2011 Festival Director Colin Geddes seemed to be everywhere at once, moving like "The Mask". He did a great job at pumping us up, and at communicating the focus of ActionFest ("the unsung heroes"), the mission, and the sponsors.

19 May 201111
(Netherlands)

1 Jan. 2011
(Sundance)


 
Hobo With A Shotgun
(86 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Jason Eisnerer

A homeless vigilante (Rutger Hauer) blows away crooked cops, pedophile Santas, and other scumbags with his trusty pump-action shotgun.

Hobo Trailer

 

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN

(This was my initial reaction. It stayed with me and I watched it again about 6 months later and wrote about it in depth.)

Oh. My Heavenly God. I must be jaded because after the first time I thought They are not going to go there it didn't phase me. I realized Okay, it's going to be off the charts. The look of it was astounding! The costumes and the color, and definitely all the violence . . .  Story wise the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold was all that made any sense to me. Everything else seemed so unreal. I guess I was rooting for them (the Hobo and the Hooker), but that 'hit the fan'. I don't know what I was expecting. I think, maybe, that he would go around killing criminals (which he did) but 'normal' criminals. Is there such a thing? The fact that I'm asking reveals the height or depths this movie goes to, and the boundaries it pushed/smashed. The crimes were so crazy: burning a busload of schoolchildren, mutilating people just to film it, eating glass, ripping people's heads off with a barbed wire 'necklace' tied to a car, the iconic manhole choker (made me think of Scrat and the ice chunk in Ice Age), dancing in a stream of blood, even the retaliations were extreme like the one pictured here (ripping off? his penis and then showing what's left).  But is any of this any worse than the violence in Ironclad or 13 Assassins? Is it that that violence could be 'justified', this cannot. So is that what makes it so shocking? The random cruelty of it. Violence for the sake of violence? Violence for the sake of film? Violence as 'art' *?

It was like the hobo was on drugs and this was his crazy vision. Of course, he wasn't. I guess it was supposed to be kind of crazy he was the only sane one. Babies cried. I lost count how many times I thought That's just wrong. It's a really sick movie, not Hostel sick, but sick. I was thinking it was an exercise in one-uppery. We've seen it all, so they had to find more, push the envelope, like our level of addiction to violence in movies has gotten so high, we're immune, and this is what they thought they needed to do to get noticed.

*It reminded me of A Clockwork Orange (high praise indeed). My mother would not be able to watch this movie. I wonder what that says about where we are, and where we go from here. I couldn't laugh at it. It made me a little uncomfortable, but mostly, I was blown away by the creative look of it, when I wasn't grimacing and thinking Eeew, no and Why?! That is what they were shooting for. I wonder why?  We would have gotten home invasions without A Clockwork Orange. Did that speed them along?  Will the violence in this movie find it's way into the real world?  Don't see it if you're squeamish or don't like violence in movies.  As much as violence can be, this movie was 'fun'.  Can't believe I just said that, but that sums it up.

28 July 1978
(USA)


 
Hooper
(99 min.)
FREE ADMISSION
Buddy Joe Hooker FEATURE

Director:  Hal Needham

Sonny Hooper (Burt Reynolds)
Hollywood's greatest stuntman, deals with his relationship with the daughter of his mentor, a challenge from a young stuntman who idolizes him, and the egomaniacal Director of his latest movie. He attempts a record-breaking jump over a gorge in a rocket-propelled car.

Hooper
 

Hooper movie car jumpHOOPER

As a Burt fan, how could I not see Hooper (on the big screen again) with ActionFest 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award winner Buddy Joe Hookerer in the audience! So I wore my Hooper T-shirt and ended up in the row right in front of Buddy Joe and his entourage as he jokingly called them. Colin Geddes, Festival Director, introduced the film and its place in stunt history:  With this film, Buddy really set the bar for a new generation of stuntmen.  Director Hal Needham started out as a stuntman and was Burt's double (hope I got that right). It also starred a favorite of mine, Brian Keith as Sally Field's father, and yes! that was Terry Bradshaw (and Adam West!).  Love how Burt's movies have that family-and-friends feel of the stunt industry.

With Buddy Joe was Tom Elliott, the current President of Stunts Unlimited.  Before the movie began, they showed Buddy Joe the (2-minute?) clip ActionFest put together of his body of work and it was beyond impressive. 

Hooper movie smokestackBuddy Joe came up after the movie and spoke from the heart about how much he loves what he does.  In doing the big chase before the bridge crossing, he said he was about 300 yards back, driving in mud, when they blew the charges on the smokestack and he had 4 seconds to drive underneath.  It was close. I mean really close (a lot closer than this makes it look). I was lucky enough to see e Hooper in a theater in 1978, and it just didn't get any cooler than this. You already thought Burt was cool, but it seemed this was his way of saying that there's somebody cooler. 

The movie had everything Burt fans love: the stunts, the car chases, the cheesecake and beefcake, the cockiness, the camaraderie, the comedy, and his laugh

. . . and all in the name and spirit of the real Hooper, Buddy Joe Hooker.

7 Apr 20111
(Actionfest)


 
Ironclad
(121 min.)
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Jonathan English

Ironclad is a bone-crunching medieval action film that graphically depicts the real-life siege of Rochester Castle in 1215, and stars
Paul Giamatti, Kate Mara, James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock, & 2 Smoking Barrels), andnd Derek Jacobi.

Ironclad
 

Ironclad movie battlement scene of cannonballs hitting the castle wall and spraying debris on 3 men
IRONCLAD

Call me simple, but savagery, blood, and glory did it for me as an opener to ActionFest. I thoroughly enjoyed the historically important backstory of Ironclad, and was one of the ones laughing with appreciation and grimacing in delight at all the grossest moments.  Beyond the awesome fight and battle scenes, however, it was also a compelling last stand, with great acting and perfect pacing. I think the violence alone could have carried it, so all the rest was a bonus! There are more than enough epic moments (I won't spoil the best one) that will make you flinch. It wasn't nearly as bloody as I thought (hoped) it would be, and I don't think it was over the top (scary thought). I think it fit what I would imagine about the time and situation in history, and it gave me everything I was hoping it would deliver.

Audiences with the same kind of bloodthirsty-ness that satisfies the soul of a 'foam fighter' will love this movie! There were pockets of boisterous vocal appreciation throughout a packed auditorium.  The crowd seemed to love Paul Giamatti's King John and his fitting short-man's-disease performance, and cheered when bad ass Brian Cox appeared. James Purefoy's understated and resigned performance held me, and all the actors seemed to command compassion. This movie is the first I've seen where the audience's seeming awareness of the sum total of all the actors' previous roles added to their appearances here. They fit so well as a rag-tag lot, and this made their plight and their efforts more compelling and relatable. Ironclad movie scene 3 men retreat with swoards and an axe It was the 99% complete package for a true Action Movie Freak, and the missing 1% actually worked in the movie's favor! (Nice surprise to me.) I think (maybe it's just me), Action Movie Freaks are always looking for an Arnold-type actor showing off his muscles and physical prowess, barechested, at some point. Without big beefcake (Rhys Perry Jones was unusually big compared to the other men, but in a more human, less bodybuilder, way) we lost that fantasy hero element, and it worked much better!  James Purefoy seemed strong enough. I think if he were any beefier it would have taken away from our feelings of sympathy. He was a man first, and a fighter second. Which brings me to the love story. It's funny but the very little that female characters are in this movie are also fitting and seemed realistic. If you don't show the breasts of the woman Beckett is sleeping with, then it wouldn't seem like she was a prostitute, and you'd wonder why she was being modest. They showed them once, and then she covered up.  The sex in this movie was fittingly desperate and hot given their circumstances and I can't say more without spoiling the outcome of the major love story. The movie had nobility and that's a rarity these days. All Action Movie Freaks, deep down, are looking for a cause to fight for. Ironclad delivered that in spades, and cannonballs, axes, maces, longswords, hatchets, arrows, pitch, fire, daggers, spears, trebuchet, and (won't spoil the biggie)! . . . OH YEAH!

11 Feb 201010
(Malaysia)


 
Little Big Soldier
(96 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Sheng Ding

An old soldier kidnaps a young general of an enemy state, and takes him on a long journey to collect the reward. Screenplay by Jackie Chan.

LittleBigSoldier

 

3 Sep 2010
(USA)


 
Russell ToweryMachete
(121 min.)

Director:  Ethan Maniquis
Robert Rodriquez

After being set up and betrayed by the man who hired him to assassinate a Texas Senator, an ex-Federale launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss.  Pop tarts abound.

ActionFest's Action Film of the Year.

They are also honoring as Stuntman of the Year, Stunt Coordinator Russell Towery (at right).

 

Machete

 

MACHETE

I reviewed Machete when it was in theaters. If I had been able to see all the ActionFest movies, I would have watched it again, but since seeing all the movies was impossible, I saved the time for something I had never seen before.

Read my Love/Hate take . . .

?
(not found)


 

Machete Maidens Unleashed
(85 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

 "Never Before Have You Seen Material So Ripe For Masturbation."  (sums up the genre, which is glorified despite the hard truth to the contrary spoken by nearly all the participants)
John Landis

Director: 
Mark Hartley

"Documentary: A fast-moving odyssey into the subterranean world of the rarely explored province of Filipino genre filmmaking."

(The first verison of the video I had here was removed: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on nudity and sexual content.")

MMU Trailer

I am not a fan of grindhouse movies, and feel strongly that they created a legacy of violence toward women in the interest of sexual gratification. 
Hear the participants say so themselves . . .

10 June 2011
(USA)



 
Never Back Down 2
(99 min.)
WORLD PREMIERE

Directorial Debut of Michael Jai White

Four fighters from different backgrounds come together to train under an ex-MMA rising star, and then ultimately have to fight each other and the traitor in their midst.

NeverBackDown2
 

Never Back Down 2 The Beatdown cast photoNEVER BACK DOWN 2: 
THE BEATDOWN


This showing came with a disclaimer from Director (and Star) Michael Jai White that it was still a little rough and he was tweaking it. He said if we heard things breaking in the back of the auditorium that would be him pissed that certain scenes didn't look right.  Editing must be a bitch (and an Art).  It was an very enjoyable Action Movie! The characters were a little two-dimensional, but pretty (male and female), and it should be very popular (as it was in this showing) with an Action Movie or college-aged crowd.  There was a little too much sex in it for me and the female roles (yikes!), but that was the obligatory 'guy stuff', and the rest I thoroughly enjoyed. 

After the show, Mr. White returned for Q&A and spoke of the actors as the "Hard to Defeat" cast:  (pictured L-R) Scottie Epstein (the traitor) is a Jiu-jitsu expert and Chuck Lidell's coach, Todd Duffee ("the big guy") is a UFC fighter, Alex Meraz (Twilight werewolf) is a Jui-jitsu phenom, Dean Geyer is a black belt in Karate, and the DJ was a cameo by Jiu-jistu expert Eddie Bravo.

Scottie Epstein  Todd Duffee Alex Meraz  Dean Geyer

 

NeverBackDown2
12 June 2010
(Japan)


 
Outrage
(109 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

Director:  Takeshi Kitano
A struggle for power amongst Tokyo's Yakuza clans. Sanmo-kai chairman Ototomo learns that his henchman has struck an alliance with the drug-dealing Murase family, and is not best pleased, to say the least. The ensuing retaliation triggers an orgy of killings, territorial invasions and score settling while law enforcement officers, too corrupt to intervene.

 

Outrage
 
  Buddy Joe HookerPANEL: A Tribute to
Buddy Joe Hooker
FREE ADMISSION

Come early . . .
the Panels fill up!

 
 
 

PANEL: A Tribute to BUDDY JOE HOOKER

Buddy Joe Hooker seems like he's as much fun as he is nice. 2011 ActionFest Festival Director Colin Geddes and 2010 Festival Director Matthew Kiernan participated. Also on the Panel was Tom Elliott, current President of Stunts Unlimited. (link to their website—You can be cool like them: They sell merchandise!). Buddy Joe Hooker's wife, Gail, was also in the audience.  They showed the tribute reel put together by award-winning Director Mark Hartley [Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008) and Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010)].

Buddy Joe told us about the stunt in Hooper with the smokestack and filming that whole sequence.  I loved the expression he used "We couldn't 'gas it and go'" when speaking about the muddy condition of the road. They were 1/4 mile back before the smokestack blew and had 4 seconds to make it underneath. I would say they had a second and 1/2 to spare. [At that speed, and seeing it falling, what goes through your mind as you drive straight for where it looks like it's going to hit any second!?]

Background History they told us:  When Buddy Joe started in the industry there was only one Stuntman's Association, The Stuntmen of Motion Pictures. 14 guys got together in 1970, including Hooper Director and Burt Reynolds original double Hal Needham and started Stunts Unlimited. They wanted to do something new.  [Back then there was only one group, now they have Brand X, ISA, and even Women's Groups.]  Also, back then a stuntman had to do everything. In order to be in Stunts Unlimited, you have to be invited by more than one member.  Criteria for consideration includes: be in the business for a few years, make "x" number of (box office?) dollars, and they watch your work (will have seen your stunts in movies and be familiar with what you've done).  They said if you are not family or friends, it's a hard business to break into.

They said stunt history is divided into before and after Smokey And The Bandit (1977). (Hal Needham did a total of 12 films with Burt.)

 

DEATHPROOF CAR CRASH

Buddy Joe Hooker started in the business at age 12.  His family is from Texas. They raised horses and decided to move to Hollywood in the 19502. Back then Hollywood was making lots of Westerns. The Lone Ranger's white horse was one of Buddy's Dad's horses (Hugh Hooker He passed away in 1987). His father became a stuntman and then a stunt coordinator.  Buddy Joe said his first fall was as a kid into a pile of horse manure. The family also owned dogs that doubled for Rin Tin Tin.

Tom Elliott did the stunts in the TV Series Criminal Minds [stunt coordinator (25 episodes, 2005-2010)]

Discussion of CGI versus real stunt work: that you can't "live it" when you watch (not relatable). Example:  Deathproof stunt work included a real car crash.  Buddy Joe Hooker was Kurt Russel's Stunt Driving Double.  In a discussion of new techniques, James Cameron came up. Other films mentioned included:  Drive Angry 3D (2011), Final Destination 4 (link to YouTube video of Buddy Joe Hooker car crash for Final Destination 4 but couldn't find 4 on IMDB) (found 5? 2011), The Wraith (1986) [When someone yelled out "Charlie Sheen!" Buddy Joe said "Yeah, Charlie Sheen was in it (laughed) . . . so we had a lot of 'background stuff'. He was 'cool' then too.", White Line Fever (Jan-Micheal Vincent), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) [Buddy Joe said "Billy dkin said the car chase had to be better than (The) French Connection." They would talk about what he wanted each day over lunch. The reason for them deciding to use the opposite side of the road for filming, switching left and right, was that Friedkin wanted the industrial look / smokestacks in the background. He said no one would notice they were driving on the wrong side of the freeway.  He was right! All we noticed was they were driving against traffic!]

Now, if all that wasn't already over-the-top cool, Buddy Joe doubled Stallone in the fall off the cliff into the forest for First Blood (BAM!)!  And why weren't you at Actionfest?!?   He explained how the stunt was done. He said he never says no to anything, instead he sometimes has to find a different way to achieve the things the Director wants (same end result).  The first step was to put a little ledge on the cliff for the (!) 98-foot fall into an airbag.  Then the cut 40 feet off the top of some trees so they could pre-saw some limbs to break and Buddy Joe could try to plot out a plan of how he was going to fall through the branches.  They put 2 rows of cardboard boxes all the way around the base of the trees because they coudn't know for sure where Buddy Joe would land. Step 3: A fall of about 20 feet through the bottom part of the trees from a cherry picker, then Sylvester Stallone would do the fall from about 12 to 15 feet up.   The fall included dropping from one limb to another, falling 4 feet with a hit to the chest, then 6 to 8 feet into a port-a-pit. Buddy Joe said Stallone ended up cracking 2 ribs because he insisted on doing the fall from 3 to 4 feet higher.

The Panel hosts asked questions but the audience got to as well throughout.  At the end they showed a couple clips of ridiculous (ridiculous meaning incredibly great) stunts by Buddy Joe. It was the perfect finish!

"We could jump a car to the moon if they gave us the proper rockets."
- Buddy Joe Hooker
   at Actionfest 2011 PANEL: A Tribute to Buddy Joe Hooker | LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREE
 

PANEL: MODERN FIGHT DIRECTORS

 
FREE ADMISSION

Ric Meyers


Acclaimed Kung Fu movie scholar and author of several books, including (Great Kung Fu Movies):
Ric Meyers 

@kingsantraic
 

Michael Jai White

 

 

Professional martial artist, action star,  including (Spawn, Black Dynamite, The Dark Knight), and director (Never Back Down 2), Winner of the Actionfest 2011 Man of Action Award:
Michael Jai White


 

Larnell Stovall

 

Recipient of the 2010 ActionFest Award for Best Stunt Choreography for Undisputed III: Redemption, he is the Stunt Coordinator for (showing this year) Bunraku:
Larnell Stovall
@larnellstovall


RIC MEYERS

MICHAEL JAI WHITE

LARNELL STOVALL

PANEL: The Art of Fight Direction

The Panel began with showing videos made of each of their work (except Meyers) that included clips from their films and other things.  I was having so much fun I almost forgot to take notes :D so here are the few I did take.  The Panel was asked about their  ACTION MOVIE INFLUENCES growing up.  Michael said "Bruce Lee, once he showed up, changed lives."  Larnell said Bruce Lee as well, and that he was influenced by Dongi Yang combining MMA with realistic gritty fighting. Richard Ryan spoke of flow, and stuntman Dave Garrick. Then some volunteers brought in trays of mini muffins. This was an inside joke between Larnell and Michael.  They have a little brother/big brother relationship and Larnell said that Michael gives him a hard time so he found a video of an early Burger King mini muffin commercial starring Michael and this was a great practical joke. Michael said something about everybody eating "cupcakes" and when he was told "They're actually mini muffins" it hit him and he turned to Larnell to ask "Did you set this up."  Larnell got him good and he laughed it off, while a lot of us got to eat mini blueberry muffins. 

A question was asked about their MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING and each of the Panel gave their 'qualifications' or martial arts they studied.

When asked about RECENTLY COMPLETED and UPCOMING PROJECTS, Larnell Stovall mentioned Mortal Kombat  2 (video game) (2011) having a 3-robot fight.  "Imagine 3 Iron Mans fighting" he said. Also, he just finished working on Medallion with Nicolas Cage, and he's working on Universal Soldier: A New Dimension (3D) (2011) with JCVD, Dolph Lundgren, and . . .  (maybe Michael?)

Michael is going to be in The Moor (couldn't find it on IMDB but found this video on YouTube) and is excited about getting to use his knowledge of Wuxia.   He told the audience to watch for him in the Mortal Kombat: Legacy TV series on Tuesday (see Michael in Episode 1).

THE MOOR
 

Their advice was given about BREAKING INTO THE STUNT INDUSTRY.  Larnell said he's a voracious researcher and web hunter and looks for inspiration from multiple sources:  He reads comic books, looks at video games, Animae, and YouTube, and he recommended everyone to find him on Facebook and twitter.  He was very forthcoming with advice and suggested people make a YouTube video to demonstrate what they can do. He even said they could email him.

When asked about whether one should be known for martial arts or for acting first, Michael said that the refused to do any martial arts movies until he became known as a dramatic actor first.  He told a funny story about being in a bit part in the first Universal Soldier (1992) (said he had the worst dialogue), and then recently in Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) . He said he was showing Jean-Claude Van Damme the same move that he showed him the first time but that Van Damme did not remember the move or him.  He said he was trying to make JCVD moves look less "balletic".

Richard Ryan encouraged the audience to accept anything you can get just to be involved. Accept being an apprentice.  He was Stunt Coordinator for Sherlock Holmes 2 (unreleased), and Ironclad (which we got to see).

They discussed/mentioned Capoeira, and the fascinating Keysi Fighting Method.

They finished with asking them what their DREAM PROJECT would be.  Larnell said Black Panther (based on the comic book).  Michael said one of his dream projects would be starring as Black Panther and he also wanted to do the Paul Robeson story.
 

1 April 2011
(USA)

10 Sep 2010
(Toronto/TIFF)

 
Super
(96 min.)
REGIONAL PREMIERE

After his wife (Liv Tyler) falls under the influence of a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), an everyday guy (Rainn Wilson) transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills.
SUPER Trailer
16 Feb 2011
(Belgium)
 
The Burma Conspiracy aka The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch
(119 min.)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Largo Winch, the newly appointed CEO of the W Group, is accused of crimes against humanity on the very day he announces his intention to sell his corporation and use the proceeds to create a humanitarian foundation.

Largo Winch
21 Nov. 1986
(USA)
 
The Wraith
(93 min.)
Buddy Joe Hooker FEATURE

Jake (Charlie Sheen) is killed by neighborhood thugs, and returns as a mystical figure ("The Wraith") to gain revenge.

The Wraith
2 Sep 2010
(Australia)
 
Tomorrow, When The War Began
(103 min.)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

 
Tomorrow When The War Began

TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN

I took no notes in Tomorrow, When The War Began.  It was fun to watch but it seemed aimed at an audience the same as the stars.  ("Not that there's anything wrong with that.") The acting was good in general. Phoebe Tonkin played the dumb, pretty, rich blonde girl who is so typically a bitch in teenage movies, but in this one she was innocent and sweet and that was very endearing. The story had an after-school-movie feel, but I think they spend so much time camping that I almost forgot something else was supposed to happen.  It suffered a little by having too many characters and too much introductory background, and then it didn't really have time to develop their story lines that much, which made me feel like I had just read only Chapters 1 and 2 of a really good long book. The scale of the backdrop of the Australian countryside and a glimpse into the apparently privileged yet rural lifestyle was impressive. Like "Dallas" the TV show. The action was good. The chase scene won the ActionFest Award for Best Stunt Sequence. When the chase scene was described to me I thought the garbage truck would be dragging a dune buggy attached by a cable, and the dune buggy bouncing around behind it then getting airborne and spun around in a circle striking things.  What actually happened happened so fast I'm not sure how the dune buggy got caught on a cable (electrical wires?) and was in the way when the garbage truck drove by, struck it at full force, and tethered, it went flying into the second story wall of a (very) nearby building.  This was spectacular and I wished no one had told me about it because my anticipation of it made it a little anti-climactic. 




"The Powder Keg"
These movies will be showing on rotation in the VIP Lounge upstairs. [They ended up not showing them . . .]
 
  Bonnie’s Kids (1973)
Director: 
Arthur Marks

Sisters Myra and Ellie have finally had enough of their miserable, dead-end lives. When their step-father Charley (The Bonnie from the title being long dead) tried to rape Myra, Ellie ventilates him with a shotgun, and the pair run off to their wealthy uncle's mansion in El Paso. From that point on, the two undergo a transformation in their personalities, and start to enjoy living their lives on the wild side.

 

BONNIE'S KIDS
  Deadbeat At Dawn (1988)
Director: 
Jim Van Bebber

After one too many encounters with The Spiders (a rival gang), The Ravens' leader's girlfriend tells him to quit the gang or it's Splitsville. He does so, but the leader of The Spiders is hellbent on revenge and arranges the murder of the girlfriend. That ticks off the boyfriend, who wreaks havoc with the two gangs, who have joined forces in order to pull off a security truck heist.

 

DEADBEAT AT DAWN
 

Ricco: The Mean Machine (1973)
"Pray it doesn't happen to you."
Director: 
Tulio Demicheli

 

RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE
  Search And Destroy (1979)
Director: 
Ross Hagen

The members of a Vietnam veteran's old Army unit start turning up murdered. The police soon begin to suspect that he is in fact the killer. He knows he isn't, and must find the real killer in order to clear his name. He soon realizes, however, that the real killer is now hunting him.

 

SEARCH AND DESTROY
  The Glove (1979)
Director: 
William Fruet

A bounty hunter (John Saxon) is offered $20,000 off the record for the capture of a very large man who dons body armor and steel-plated gauntlets for his regular beatings of some unfortunate individuals.
 

 

THE GLOVE
  The One-Armed Executioner (1983)
Director: 
Bobby A. Suarez

An Interpol agent turned restaurateur, out for revenge against the gangsters that cut off his arm and killed his bride. This tragedy left him deeply depressed, and his battle with depression has to be won first before he can be thoroughly trained in martial arts. After his training, Ortega hunts down his adversaries for a final reckoning.
 

 

THE ONE-ARMED EXECUTIONER
  They Call Her Cleopatra Wong (1981)
Director: 
Bobby A. Suarez

Singapore's top policewoman, Miss Cleopatra Wong, who heads the Seasian Interpol Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.), teams up with her Filipino counterpart to bust a counterfeit currency operation that threatens several Asian countries with bankruptcy.

THEY CALL HER CLEOPATRA WONG

 

Color-Coded Film Schedule
click on image for larger version

 

 

 

Apr 1  Can it be April 2011 already?  wow.  Actionfest is in 6 days.  After thinking about the fact that there will not be another 'feminist' action fan there to write about whatever I think should be written about, I decided to go.  Only 2 movies are probably only going to offend me (5%) and the other 95% will be fricking AWESOME! Trish Stratus is probably what did if for me.  I'm so excited they're going to have a kick-ass female action star there and hope it's not a man's idea of a female action star like in Sucker Punch.  I couldn't find a trailer for Stratus' movie Bail Enforcers but I put I could find.  I have a lot of work to do before Wednesday on the film list, etc. (below).  I wanted to do the color-coded chart again (like last year) so I could try to see as many movies as I can (all of them if possible).  I missed a couple good ones last year and wasted time on District B13: Ultimatum.  If you can go, you should because it's Action Movie heaven.  Michael Jai White will be there too!  (BAM!)

And . . .   I sent Marko Zaror a message on Facebook to see if he would be there again this year, and he's such a nice guy, he answered!  I also sent Isaac Florentine a message on his YouTube Channel and didn't hear back, and "Malo" (Aleksandra Pavlovska) on hers (below).  I was trying to research Stunts Unlimited but they must be busy kicking ass and taking names because their web presence is light. 

Mar 24  More films announced . . . list above.

Mar 11  I wrote this and then decided to go anyway . . .  
Who am I kidding, I couldn't stay away!!

Is "Grindhouse" a fad or a trend? I had hoped, a fad. It seems like an I-wanna-be-cool-like-Quentin-Tarantino crowd went looking for something to make their own and came up with 70s "B" Action Movies. Originally these movies went straight to the drive-in, or, according to Wikipedia to "Grindhouse" theaters in places like Hollywood Boulevard and Times Square—say no more.  I remember seeing some movies in drive-ins in the late 70s that were not kind to women, but this re-birth combines the worst aspects of the degradation and exploitation of women with some awesome action [like in Machete (whose Stunt Coordinator Russell Towery is being honored by Actionfest)] and therefore (can't believe I'm saying this) 'elevated' these movies into mainstream theaters. Are women just supposed to  be okay with this? Not this woman!

When I saw the horror movie My Bloody Valentine (3D) (which came before Machete's charming opening with the naked girl) I thought, please don't let this be a trend (and Crank and Crank: High Voltage): A totally naked girl running around . . . lingering close ups of bloody dead female genitals . . . COME ON! Anyway, It's one thing to have these movies be a semi-popular fad and another thing to glorify them at an Action Movie Film Festival.  Really, Actionfest?!  This is the state of Action Movies?!

Here is a collage of the images from the 'documentary' (snicker) Machete Maidens Unleashed (being shown at Actionfest).  All these images are from a 2-minute, 30-second trailer that your 10-year-old son is probably watching because he lied about his age on YouTube (I added the black bars!):

In the trailer's collection of clips from multiple movies, women are kicked, slapped, stabbed, pissed on, hit with a water cannon, shot in the back, run around everywhere boobs out, are tied up and naked while snakes are dangled to bite them, hung by the hair, and have their clothes ripped off and their 'maidens' unleashed . . hence the title (see artwork below) while 'experts' Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Sid Haig, John Landis (who says with glee: "the crassest, most exploitive, sexist, racist films" and "never before have you seen material so ripe for masturbation"), and Eddie Romero talk about how awesome these movies were because of "the big three": "Blood, Breasts, and Beasts."  Here's a great quote: "If his camera could talk, he'd be in jail for statutory rape." They flash "No Safety", "No Money", "No Boundaries", and that hallmark of film raunchiness (midgets): "No Height Restrictions" on the screen like they are things to be proud of. This is what was wrong with these movies over 30 years ago and made them crap. Now they are being glorified as what is right and cool!? And here we find ourselves again, no further along in women's rights, with ActionFest pulling this crap out of some misogynist's ass for glorification and public consumption! All I have to say is "Where's the donkey?", and, this crap is STRICTLY for men, which brings me back to the fad vs. trend. 

Fads come and go. Trends indicate where something is headed—Please God, no. The unfortunate thing is that men will never tire of blood, breasts, and beasts, and it's a man's world.  That's where I interject:  HELL NO!  Real-life violence against women is so rampant that I find it dismaying nothing is being done. It's hardly being talked about unless you watch Nancy Grace  (no thanks) or Jane Velez Mitchell who have a new story of the death or abduction of a girl or woman daily. Where's the public outrage? Where's the female outrage? If hardly anyone's upset about the real thing, why am I making a fuss while Writer/Director Mark Hartley (to quote Pauline Kael) "plays with camera"?1 

Because THIS is what CAUSES violence against women!

While this crap is promoted as masturbatory gold, sexual dysfunction is born with the need to see women degraded and destroyed just to get off.  Like this is some kind of elevated sexual experience?!  Yeah, let's go strip, hurt, and then kill a woman! Actionfest's endorsement of this 'cute-and-campy' treatment of the kind of stuff that makes boys and men think of women as objects to laugh at, strike, rape, torture, mutilate, and kill is beyond disappointing. It feels like a betrayal. 

I had hoped Grindhouse was a fad because, thankfully, it's not for the mainstream.  I never expected Actionfest to headline these type of images at what I hoped would be, and what started out the first year as, the Hero-type's Movie festival.  This tanked any desire I had to go and smeared shit on the face of my much-loved genre, and most dismaying of all, elevated this crap to the status of a trend by glorifying it! This is really important because this glorification fosters acceptance. This is the opposite of what should be. This is increasing the 'cool' factor of this fad/trend by endorsement.

Here's an image from Machete Maidens Unleashed I liked.

What's the solution?
WOMEN NEED TO FIGHT BACK! Physically resist every chance they get. Stop being passive when attacked in any way. Men don't prey on other men (with some exceptions) because men will fight back.  Men are  raised to fight back.  Unfortunately, women are raised to accept.  They compete for men's attention.  They let men define their self worth based on their looks, so in the mating process and the desire to be attractive, women give in to this pressure from men, but men will never respect women until women respect themselves. I want to see women fighting back in real life and to make that happen we need to see clothed, strong women fighting back in the movies. Not the scantily clad male fantasy of the 'kick-ass chick'. I want to see real, strong women being 'one of the guys' (translation: people, not victims and bimbos) kicking the fucking shit out of the weaselly type of depraved and ignorant men who get off on this shit! Here's a what if—What if the roles were reversed?  Men just can't stand to see their dicks laughed at. Let's have the men run around scantily clad or naked and frightened while women laugh, kick them, shoot them in the back, tie them up and hoist them by their pubes. Sounds great to me (not). When's that movie showing? Sounds ridiculous doesn't it, but the inverse is becoming widely accepted—that's what's ridiculous to me.

The mainstreaming of female Action Movie heroes who don't take any shit (while FULLY CLOTHED) is long overdue, and don't tell me it won't sell or be popular: look at the Alien movies. If Grindhouse is the direction Action Movies are headed in, it will splinter the genre. Maybe already has.  While I am older and female, I know some guys who feel the same way I do about the misogyny and write about it on their website. Action Movie Fans and Freaks are not all the immature horny male audience this sick shit is aimed at. Guess what? Women like action movies too, and there are more of us. And surprise!—When we watch them we identify with the hero, not the 2-dimensional bimbo who is there to titillate the men. We need strong female role models, not pop tarts.  We ignore them as dumb 'playthings' just like you do. Speaking of which . . . actresses like Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez, and Mayra Leal [who played "Chica (Naked Girl")] who all agreed to make Machete are hurting women by holding themselves up as role models, and young impressionable women will look up to them because they are models of beauty. We all know beauty = cool, and therefore, being treated like an object is somehow supposed to be okay because they're hot enough to play that role.  This is playing into the hands of men. When will women realize they have to stop endorsing this by participating.  I guess this is my stand. I am refusing to go to Actionfest because I don't want to endorse the glorification of this type of movie.  I will miss out on all the rest of it, but it's who I am to fight this. I think the genre is better than this and I hope we get back to the positive, take-no-shit 'hero' type movies that made Arnold, Sylvester Stallone, and Steven Seagal's movies so popular.  Better yet, put a strong woman in Expendables 2. Women will never be treated like people until they start acting like people and stop dressing, or undressing for men.

If you haven't seen "Robert Rodriguez's Machete", and you think I'm overreacting, read my review, here's a shot from the movie of "Chica (Naked Girl)" Mayra Real pulling a cell phone out of her vagina.

My Actionfest Fairy Tale vs.
All this figurative pissing and moaning on my part, and literal on theirs, makes me remember when I first heard of Actionfest, what I thought it would be like. I remember thinking there might be 20,000 people there. 5,000 at least!  They would come from all over the country, maybe all over the world.  I thought, it might be small the first year (5,000), but eventually it would grow, and be held in a big open field where there would be a massive parking lot like at fairs, and then tents and trailers. It would be a little trade-show-ish where Stuntmen and Stunt Companies would have booths set up in front of demonstrations areas where they would showcase their particular daring:  fire, car crashes, fighting, high jumps.  There would be trailers with merchandise for each of the big stars like they have at NASCAR. I could get a Stallone belt buckle or a Predator knife replica.  Movies would be shown in huge tents.  Studios would be there promoting movies and giving away hats and jackets from those movies to lucky winners. Crowds would walk around staring at and taking pictures of the big action stars who all turned up with their stunt doubles and their entourage to honor Chuck Norris. It would be like a brotherhood of cool guys and, of course, Arnold and Sly and Bruce and maybe even The Rock would be there in the audience to honor the First Gentleman of Action: That's Mr. Chuck Norris to you, and maybe we could rub elbows with them. Mr. Norris would be on an elevated stage in a big field and maybe the big stars would be in reserved seating roped off, but the rest would be standing room only. All the big Action Movie stars would be there every year to support the genre. There would be fair food, and tattoo booths, and T-shirts.  Lots and lots of t-shirts. And muscular stuntmen with fake-boobed blonde arm candy everywhere.

. . . My 2010 Actionfest Odyssey
The reality was
considerably smaller in every way except film and the Honoree. Even the poster was small (and not for sale). They had just a grey t-shirt for men and black for women (and yes, some guys bought the black one and wore it), and a cap. I guess about 30 people showed up as VIPs who bought the badge for the whole festival and most of them seemed like career film people, and nobody was a muscular stuntman (Star Marko Zaror excepted, I'm talking muscular like The Rock's double Tanoai Reed). I was one of 2 women there full time, not counting people working in the theater or on the festival. Locals came and went for particular movies, but most showings there were maybe 15 people in the auditorium with you. Sometimes as few as 4, sometimes as many as 25.  The whole thing took place in a movie theater [except for the stunt show which took place in the parking lot (and there was still parking available--tells you what a gigantic parking lot they have)]. The only time auditoriums were crowded or filled was the Stunts Panel and the Chuck Norris Panel.  Sure, crowds turned out for the stunt show but the only two movies with any real numbers in attendance were opening night Centurion and then Undisputed III: Redemption which seemed to bring in college-aged guys at the evening showing.  The Q&A with Marko Zaror, Larnell Stovall, and Isaac Florentine (at right) after was not even full (as you can see by the many empty chairs).  The films were awesome, even uplifting, for the most part.  I skipped Tucker and Dale because I figured it was in the "Blood, Breasts, Beasts" vein and I had watched movies from 11 AM to 11 PM and just wanted to sleep. It was great fun:  movies, movies, movies, and then writing about them.  I wished more people had gone!

My 2011 Actionfest Odyssey: Eclipsed?
I will m
iss going to the 2nd Actionfest this year but my conscience won't let me go.  [[EATING THOSE WORDS]]  I'd even be embarrassed to be there.  [[I figure if I don't suck it up and write about what bothers me, no one else will; maybe I'll just stay out of the "Power Keg" (VIP Lounge) upstairs.]] Until now, I never felt sadness for the genre. Now, I think maybe when someone referred to the strong hero movies of the 80s and 90s as "The Golden Age of Action Movies" it  was a death knell.  Maybe The Rock won't take the torch from Arnold like he was supposed to.  Maybe Taylor Lautner won't be enough to counteract the Justin Beiber-y metrosexual baby men that most actors seem to be today. Maybe there is no Action Movie 'Team Jacob' anymore. Maybe 'Team Edward' has won.  Rather than the hot, muscular, strong werewolf hero of Action Movies of yesteryear, we're now stuck having sex with the pale, blood-loving, stone-dead boner of a wimpy  vampire that is Grindhouse. 

I can't help but think that Actionfest is pandering to a certain younger, heterosexual males-only market that is desensitized by too much porn and needs more sensationalism.  And I can't help but hope that the overwhelming numbers of the total of the rest of us, including baby boomers, will counteract this trend.  It's like an embarrassment to have this LOW ROAD represent the genre that used to be about the good guy (not an immature loser's fantasy who has to exploit women to prove something about himself). 

I wish they had honored The A-Team instead of Robert Rodriguez's Machete. I loved Machete and hated it, but the action was really great, so I'm glad it's being recognized for that.

_______________________________________

1 This is from her scathingly awesome review of Kevin Coster's Dances With Wolves.


Mar 9  (sigh)
ActionFest 2011   . . .  The full film list won't be announced now until 3/22 which means if I wait that late, there goes my discounted hotel rate.  Leaning toward not going.  Just can't see myself going when they're showing Machete Maidens Unleashed.  I can put up with some of it but I really can't endorse the glorification of it.  They announced they'll be showing IRONCLAD and added OUTRAGE to the announced list.  Also this year's Honoree is legendary stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker.
 

Mar 8  First 6 Films for ActionFest 2011!

Finally! YAY!  Six Actionfest 2011 films have been revealed and are in rotation on their website masthead! 

 

Mar 7 @StuntsUnlimited seems ultra cool!

From their website:  "consists of Hollywood's premiere second unit directors, stunt coordinators, and stuntmen in the industry today. STUNTS UNLIMITED is the best of the best, the cream of the crop. If you want to push the envelope, obliterate limitations, and go bigger, faster, higher, and more spectacular than anyone else . . . you call STUNTS UNLIMITED. "


WHO IS Stunts Unlimited? 
Links to the IMDB pages of each Stuntman.  Their Members include:
 

photo Name and  Roles

Major Movies (abridged)

Age :D
Gregory Barnett . . . still working on this  

Craig R. Baxley
 
Stuntman / Actor
  2nd Unit Director
  Assistant Director
  Director

Predator • I Come In Peace • Diamonds Are Forever • The Long Riders • The Warriors
• Logan's Run • Planet Of The Apes
movies • Action Jackson, Rollerball • Mannix (TV series)
 • The Dukes of Hazzard (TV series) • The A-Team (TV Series)

61

Craig Baxley Jr.
 
   
Steve Boyum    

Charlie Brewer    
Jeff Cadiente    

Doc D. Charbonneau

Drillbit Taylor • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby • Flight of the Phoenix • Torque • Bad Boys II • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle • Windtalkers • Outta Time • Rat Race
• The Fast and the Furious • Pearl Harbor • Spy Kids • Get Carter
• The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave • Inspector Gadget • Deep Impact • Recoil
• Titanic • Mimic • Spawn • Jingle All the Way • Last Action Hero • Batman Returns • Hook
• T2: Judgment Day • Rescue 911 • Masters of the Universe • The Lost Boys
• Stand by Me • The Goonies

 

1

Steve M. Davison 
 
3  
1 Kenny Endoso 3  

1

Danny Epper
 
3  

1

Lance Gilbert 3  
1 Mickey Gilbert
 
3  

Tim Gilbert 3  

1

Jeff Imada 3  
Jimmy Nickerson    
  Eric Rondell    
Jimmy N. Roberts
 
   
       
Charles A.
"Chuck"
 Tamburro

 
   
  Janet Brady  ?
Kitty O'Neil
and Janet Brady first stuntwomen admitted to SU in 1976
 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day • Die Hard and Die Hard 2
The Rock,
  Sally Field's double in Smokey and The Bandit • Scarface • Blade Runner
 • Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan • Big Trouble in Little China • Escape From L.A.
Action Jackson • The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave • The Last Boy Scout
 • Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 • Money Train • Con Air • Titanic,  • Gone In 60 Seconds
• Eraser • Airport '77 • Silver Streak • Hooper • SO MANY MORE . . .

 


Mar 6 My ActionFest BitchFest:  I can't take the waiting anymore! OMG. And if they announce the honoree is JCVD, I'm not going. Today they published the program pages, and STILL NO FILM LIST!  How do they expect people from out of town to go, or, to build any excitement? My fear is this whole second year will be too much in the vein of "Grindhouse" and geared to young men 14-28 instead of Action Movie Fans (who come in all ages and BOTH sexes and they should not discount the Baby Boomers).  It's like waiting too long for something just kills the excitement.  WHO am I kidding?!  I'm dying to go!!! I'll just skip those movies and see the rest.

I just realized this: The poster was released WITHOUT announcing the Honoree on it! EXCEPT that maybe it's Stunts Unlimited" and no single big star?!  From the SU site: "an exclusive organization of under 50 members, it consists of Hollywood's premiere second unit directors, stunt coordinators, and stuntmen in the industry today. STUNTS UNLIMITED is the best of the best, the cream of the crop. If you want to push the envelope, obliterate limitations, and go bigger, faster, higher, and more spectacular than anyone else…you call STUNTS UNLIMITED."  (SU doesn't have Actionfest as an event on their site!)

Mar 5 Next, the entertainment: They're having Roller Derby Girls?! (sigh) That's so lame. (That's why it's not that popular.)  It's like Lingerie Football (that's probably next year). As a woman I don't want to see women exploited unless men are also being exploited but they never are.  Boobs can bounce everywhere but you don't want anybody laughing at your penis bouncing around so . . .  Meh! Nobody's reading this anyway . . .  Goodnight Moon.

Mar 4 There's a month left and I must be oxygen deprived in the brain since I've been holding my breath to find out who the honoree is and what the film list is, and I have neglected anything and everything else Actionfest 2011!  So here goes:  First, THE POSTER by Gabriel Shaffer who has a very Winning style (duh!). But I think black and white looked cooler . . .  @Actionfest has been leaking little teasers about the poster since . . .

Jan 28
Awesome rough draft sketches for Actionfest 2011 poster tweeted by artist Gabriel Shaffer  @gabrielshaffer and @Actionfest

They have updated the Actionfest site and the blog is frequently updated with new and old bites of the Action Movie Manwich!

Stay tuned to ActionFest.com for details on 2011 • @Actionfest • See all the fun from 2010 on videos at actionfest.com/news

VIP PASSES are now available for just $60 until Feb. 28th (after than $100)

Jan 2  Look who's got an ad on the new ActionFest site :) (happy dance) . . .

ACTIONFEST are looking for Sponsors—Check out their cool EPK (electronic press kit)


 

 
Founders: Aaron Norris, Bill Banowsky, and Dennis Berman
Executive Director: Tom Quinn @aloompanix
Festival Director: Colin Geddes @colingeddes
Production Director: Sheri Gibson
Webmaster of Ceremonies: Roger Erik Tinch

tweet from @Actionfest  Nov 28 "Working on launching something new over at . This is long overdue and promises to be awesome, mark my words."


Look back at coverage of
ACTIONFEST 2010 (April 15-18)



F