Low Blow (1986) - Frank Harris


A forgettable action movie starring the boring ass, Leo Fong.

Director: Frank Harris

Producer: Leo Fong

Writer: Leo Fong

Starring: Leo Fong, Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donahue and Diane Stevenett

Studio: Crown International Pictures

Country: United States

Language: English

Low Blow is a 1986 action b-movie from Crown International Pictures. It was directed by schlock movie maker, Frank Harris, who has been known for his eighties garbage pictures. The film stars Leo Fong, who also served as the writer and producer. And also features performances by Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donahue, Akosua Busia and Stack Pierce. This feature is one of those “so-bad it’s good” type movies. Not intentionally made to be corny or laughable, but it just happens to turn out that way. This was released on Beta and VHS in the same year as it’s release.

Joe Wong, a former policeman turned private detective, has been hired to trackdown a runaway heiress that took off to join a new and deadly religious cult. Wong joins up with a former boxing champion and a Vietnam veteran that vow to help him on the case. Their sleuthing gets them in all sorts of brawls across the hour and a half that this movie plays out. Not a deep plot. Not a good plot. Just an excuse for dry-ass Leo Fong to try acting.

Everything about this movie is over-the-top and miscalculated. The acting is awkward and stiff. But Leo Fong is the worst. It’s such a shame that he sunk so much of himself into this film. The action, if you want to call it that, is just Fong slowly tossing people around. The best example of the terrible action is a scene where Fong has to beat up a car with a two-by-four. His attacks are so weak and faint. Interestingly enough, this movie featured the first role for fitness star Billy Blanks.

Cloverfield (2008) - Matt Reeves


A unique look at the Giant Monster genre from Bad Robot!

Director: Matt Reeves

Producers: J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk

Writer: Drew Goddard

Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David and Mike Vogel

Studios: Bad Robot Productions and Paramount Pictures

Release date: January 18, 2008

Country: United States

Budget: $25 million

Box Office: $170.8 million

Cloverfield is a 2008 giant monster movie from Bad Robot, the production company responsible for Lost, Star Trek and Alias. The viral marketing campaign that launched ahead of this movie was tremendous! It had fans actively search the internet for clues like articles, videos, blogs, etc. that created amazing hype. I have to admit that I had gotten swept up in it too. I was a big fan of Lost and loved drawing comparisons and relations between these universes. I still do.

The film is presented in a found footage format, much like The Blair Witch Project from 1999. The characters are all young adults living in New York City. Rob and his friends Hud, Marlena and Lily are all fighting for survival as their home city is being ripped apart by monsters.

Cloverfield is a tremendous effort. The shaky camera is a definite negative but I found it practical and forgivable. However, I remember some stories of moviegoers passing out or leaving to vomit from motion sickness. If you have a sensitive tummy, I would suggest giving Cloverfield a pass, or maybe just take a Dramamine. This is the greatest American kaiju film to date.

The acting is typical of a film like this. Not terrible, but no one is fishing for an Oscar here. We are treated to TJ Miller’s breakout performance as himself. Jessica Lucas was alright, but Lizzy Caplan and lead, Michael Stahl-David, were the best of the film. Lizzy was great as Marlena. I really enjoyed the dynamic between her character and Hud, TJ Miller. They all did a great job, but Michael Stahl-David carried this whole film on his back. As our lead, Rob spends the most time as the focus of the film. Stahl-David does a great job of blending into the universe and becoming a great character.

The movie is terrifying and depressing. The Cloverfield Monster is huge and wreaks some awesome havoc to New York. The destruction scenes were subtle and masterfully done. The head of the Statue of Liberty in the street is such an iconic image. The little monsters were vicious and they had that nasty bite that killed you in a pretty grotesque way. The ending was full of dread. Do yourself a favor and stay through the credits. Listen to the quiet voices. This is more than just a movie.

Forbidden Planet (1956) - Fred M. Wilcox


Director: Fred M. Wilcox (as Fred McLeod Wilcox)
Writers: Cyril Hume (screen play), Irving Block (based on a story by)
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen
Genres: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Certificate: G
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: 22 August 1956
Production Co: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Budget: $1,900,000 (estimated)
Gross USA: $3,000,000
Trivia: The critical success of this film convinced many in the film industry that well-funded science-fiction projects could be successful. Film historian Ben Mankiewicz has claimed that this film's success made future big-budget science-fiction films possible.


Forbidden Planet is an American science fiction film from 1956. It was helmed by Lassie Come Home director, Fred Wilcox, and produced by MGM studios. This is a classic flick. Presented with a truly beautiful picture. A product of being filmed in Cinemascope and Eastmancolor from Kodak. Forbidden Planet is a scifi retelling of William Shakespeare's classic tale, The Tempest. It's extremely cheesy and has some very questionable acting. Except for lead actors Leslie Nielsen and Walter Pidgeon. They are both great.

A rescue mission from Earth is sent to Altair IV after command loses transmission with the colony living there. Led by Commander John J. Adams, the rescue team’s spaceship sets down on the mystery planet against the warnings from Doctor Morbius, a strange man hailing the ship from the planet. The crew finds out that Morbius is one of the few inhabitants left alive, along with his daughter and their servant robot, Robbie. The other people living on the planet have been killed by a mysterious force and Morbius fears that the same may happen to the rescue team. He encourages the crew to leave with his daughter before something bad happens, but it's soon too late.

Again, the film looks amazing. I watched this in HD on FilmStruck, and it looked great. Full color. Vibrant and interesting. We can credit the amazing set design and art to Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Lonergan working in the MGM lot. It’s a trip when you realize that the entire film was made indoors. Creative shots and a lot of huge matte paintings that make the settings look so believable. There is even some great animation provided by Joshua Meador from Walt Disney Studios. I loved the art direction and effects. Not the best, but tremendous for the time. There is a well made scene that shows an invisible monster walking on steel stairs and the filmmakers added in some bending steel. It looked great.

Aside from the bigger named actors like Leslie Nielsen or Anne Francis, the acting tends to be pretty bad. But it’s not bad enough to hinder the entertainment. The acting feels more television quality, probably since most of the props and some actors turn up in the Twilight Zone a few years later. There is an aire of cheapness that hangs about the movie. Unfortunately, that’s just something that drive-in monster movies from the fifties had to deal with. The technology for science-fiction movies wouldn’t catch up until at least the seventies.

Forbidden Planet is an amazing feat of filmmaking in the mid-fifties. The effects are top quality and the filmmaking is good. It’s a movie that should be studied by film aficionados all over the world. I simply cannot recommend it enough. Some people might find the slower pace annoying or boring, but I can almost guarantee you will find something else to like about it. I had some pretty low expectations before watching this movie. I thought it would of looked a lot worse than it did. But I came away happy and fully entertained.

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Joel & Ethan Coen


Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: 6 March 1998
Budget: $15,000,000
Gross USA: $17,498,804
Production Co: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films


The Big Lebowski is a comedic mystery from the Coen brothers, distributed in 1998. It stars Jeff Bridges in his most iconic role as the burnt-out slacker, Jeffrey Lebowski, known to everybody as The Dude. Bridges is accompanied by John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. We also get performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, John Turturro and even Tara Reid. I had first come across this picture late one evening on HBO. I was quickly enamored and very fascinated with the witty comedy and style. This was the movie that sparked my interest in films.

Jeffrey Lebowski, or The Dude, is just a laid back stoner that meanders through life, and occasionally gets into strange experiences. His best allies are a deranged Vietnam vet named Walter, and his sheepish sidekick Donnie. The Dude likes to employ his time bowling, drinking White Russians, and living in Zen. So when two thugs rough up his place, confusing him for a rich Jeffrey Lebowski. The Dude is less than happy. He is sunk into a world of mystery, sex and intrigue. But the Dude just wants to roll!


The Coen brothers had come up with the concept for The Big Lebowski alongside their dramatic gem, Fargo. Confidence had been firmer with Fargo, and that was released first. The Big Lebowski was distributed by PolyGram and Working Title Films in 1998. It got mixed reviews at the box-office and recovered much more life on cable, VHS and DVD sales. Gaining a cult following. There is even an annual festival devoted to it called Lebowski Fest. I linked to the current 2018 festival here.

The writing is the strongest element here. The characters are rich; the dialogue is witty and interesting; the world is built masterfully. The Coen’s had drawn inspiration from the detective pulp stories of the thirties and forties. They noted Raymond Chandler as a big influence. Also drawing on their surroundings in early nineties Los Angeles. It’s the perfect California movie. I love how elements throughout the film play back into each other in the dialogue and in the surroundings. Again, this is some really strong writing.


The acting is truly on point. Everyone plays their characters perfectly, and they are all quotable. The Dude character was based on a friend of the Coen’s, Jeffrey Dowd. And Jeff Bridges brings everything his role asks for. He and John Goodman have an amazing dynamic. The Dude comes off as such a genuine character that everyone can identify with. I think that's the reason for his reputation. The Dude represents that part of us that wants to chill-out and be mellow. Deep down everyone wants to be the Dude.

The Big Lebowski is excellent. It has everything that you could want from a film. A great story line full of comedy, drama, adventure, mystery and suspense. Tremendous acting from top notch actors with bonus added cameos from surprise stars. Quotable lines. A deep and rich world. It literally ticks every single box in film-making 101. If you are a fan of comedies, please check this out. Also, I am writing this on April 20th 2018, that’s 4/20 for my ent’s out there. If you're a fan of movies like Pineapple Express or Cheech & Chong, then I think you’re going to embrace this!

The Big Lebowski gets 99/100

Total Recall (1990) - Paul Verhoeven


Paul Verhoeven  

"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick

Ronald ShusetT, 
Dan O'Bannon,
Jon Povill and
Gary GoldmaN

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside

Rating: R



Release Date:
1 June 1990


Total Recall is a tremendous science-fiction action film from 1990. It had been Directed by Paul Verhoeven who had helmed Robocop the prior year. And produced by Carolco Pictures and Tri-Star. Arnold Schwarzenegger is our lead actor supported by Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin. The story is based on a Philip K. Dick short story called "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" and the screenplay was handled by Gary Goldman, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Kind of an all-star affair for 1990. This movie was a staple of my childhood, and the reason for my love of cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks. I had rented this several times from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and also viewed is uncountable times on television. Hell, it still runs on AMC and Syfy to this day! No matter how you cut it Total Recall, is an important movie that can never be replicated.  

Douglas Quaid is a mild-mannered construction worker living on earth in 2089. He has a beautiful wife, a good job, but yearns for the stars. Something inside of Doug wants to get away. He wants to go to Mars, much to the behest of his wife and friends. Doug goes to Recall, a service that can implant a memory into your brain. A virtual vacation. However, during the operation, something is ticked and happy ol’ Douglas Quaid becomes the ruthless, cunning and deadly Hauser. A hired agent from Mars that has been suppressed with mental blocks. Now awakened to the false reality around him, and being pursued by people trying to kill him, Hauser must return to Mars to find out who wants him dead! 

The screenplay for the film was picked up by Dino De Laurentiis and shopped around Hollywood in the early eighties. De Laurentiis had tried to get the film off the ground seeking either Richard Dreyfuss or Patrick Swayze in the lead role. That would have been bad. He had gotten David Cronenberg attached to direct, but Cronenberg was hard about having William Hurt as the lead. Things just couldn’t come together and the screenplay had floundered in development hell. In 1989, the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group had folded leaving the script out in the wild. It was picked up by Carolco Pictures and the rest is history. 

Total Recall is the best science-fiction movie of all time. The acting, music, effects and writing are running on all cylinders. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the perfect fit for this role, and this was a big hit for him. The Quaid character is very complex, something that doesn’t become clear until his trip to Recall. The soundtrack was masterfully composed/conducted by a legendary musician, Jerry Goldsmith. It sets every scene with an epic beat that makes this movie a blockbuster. The main theme is unforgettable. Much better than many scores today. The special effects were handled by effects master, Rob Bottin. Bottin is famous for his tremendous work on movies like The Thing, The Howling, Robocop and Legend. He doesn’t shy away from gore and turns out some creative scenes. I would never expect less.

I really love this movie. I have seen it countless times and still love watching it frequently today. It’s the perfect film to come out of the late-eighties, early nineties time period. Arnold is a badass here. If you aren’t familiar with his work in action films, then I plead that you watch this movie along with classics like The Running Man, Predator and Conan the Barbarian. That man was entertainment in the eighties. Total Recall hits on every level and is now tame enough for early teens to enjoy. I highly recommend it. Five stars.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Richard Donner


Lethal Weapon 4 (65)

The worst of the franchise clocks in at the longest. A long winded action romp pitting LAPD against Triads.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Channing Gibson

Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo,
Chris Rock,
Jet Li

Silver Pictures & Doshudo Productions

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: 
July 10, 1998

Running time: 
127 minutes

United States


$100–150 million

Box office: 
$285.4 million

Lethal Weapon 4 is an action film from 1997. Most of the usual crew had returned. Director Richard Donner, Musicians Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen and David Sanborn all return along with actors, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci and introduces Chris Rock and Jet Li. It’s the fourth entry to the Lethal Weapon franchise, and it happens to be the slowest paced. It’s also framed as the final entry to the series. Nostalgically capping off a tremendous action series that ran for just over a decade.

A freighter full of Chinese immigrants runs aground in Los Angeles, much to the dismay of Officers Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. They are being imported by the Triads, who are trying to get their incarcerated crime bosses onto American soil and away from China. To make things worse, Murtaugh decides to stow an entire family of immigrants in his home. This puts the entire investigation in jeopardy. Also, Riggs and Murtaugh have to work with an annoying new detective, Lee Butters. Needless to say, our heroes can’t wait to kick some major Triad ass.

Lethal Weapon 4 visits Riggs and Murtaugh at a mature time in their lives. Roger’s daughter is pregnant, he is on the verge of becoming a grandfather. Riggs has also been told that Lorna is pregnant. Both guys have to face this turning point in their lives. That tone reflects the slower pace of the film. It still has explosions and car-chases as well as a good deal of character development. The relationship between Riggs and the Murtaughs is so comfortable and fun. It’s a pleasure to see the whole group interacting. I have fallen in love with the characters.

This wouldn’t be a Lethal Weapon movie without copious amounts of action. Over-the-Top action. Jet Li is a very convincing villain even though it's his first time playing one. His showdown with Mel Gibson is tremendous. It’s one of the highlights of the picture. The chase scene that doubles-up with a construction theme is another tremendous scene. Most scenes are really well shot, but lack substance. Thats a problem that echoes throughout. While it's fun nostalgically, it doesn’t have what it takes to make a good film.

This is supposed to be the final film in the franchise. It ends with the quote from our protagonists, “We’re not friends, We’re family!” Then we get a montage of production photos and a group shot of the entire crew. It’s a great send off, but what if they wanted to return? Would you hate it?

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Richard Donner


Lethal Weapon 3 (79)

Not the best of the franchise, but not the worst.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen

Story by:
Jeffrey Boam

Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo and
Stuart Wilson

Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.

Release date:
May 15, 1992

Running time:
118 minutes

United States


Budget :
$35 million

Box office:
$321.7 million

Lethal Weapon 3 is an action comedy film from 1992. Director Richard Donner has returned along with screenwriter, Jeffrey Boam. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are back as Riggs and Murtaugh. Our favorite destructive comedic cop duo. Joe Pesci makes a return as Leo Getz, now a family friend to the Murtaugh family, and Rene Russo makes her appearance as Internal Affairs agent, Lorna Cole. The love interest for Riggs. It’s not a film that fared as well as the previous entries, but it had a lot of heart. I loved this one as a kid, so I hope it holds up!

Roger Murtaugh is only eight days away from retirement. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy eight days. His partner Riggs ends up destroying a building and getting them both busted down to beat cops. Then they stumble onto a chase with some dangerous criminals that happen to be using new, lethal “cop-killer” bullets. The leader of the criminals is a former police Lieutenant that has some dirty cops on the force. Riggs and Murtaugh are reinstated to detectives and then paired with Internal Affairs agent Lorna Cole. The love interest of Martin Riggs.

In usual Lethal Weapon tradition we are treated to jaw-jacking between Riggs and Murtaugh, an awesome car-chase through Los Angeles, a housing development used as an action background, range shooting, Riggs popping his shoulder back into place and various other tropes from the franchise. It also boasts a long run-time of 118 minutes. The longest of the franchise to that point. It would be surpassed by Lethal Weapon 4, clocking in at 127 minutes.

Mel Gibson is the saving grace of the picture, his comedic performance is great. It’s always funny to see him muscling down his Australian accent. His Martin Riggs character appears to be tired, but Rene Russo is a good pairing for him. I enjoyed her action scenes just as much as Gibson’s. I didn’t care much for the villain, Jack Travis. He wasn’t memorable. But the ending fight scene between Riggs and Travis is a high-point in this production.

The filmmakers had been a bit too ambitious with Lethal Weapon 3. It felt like they had intended to amp up the main elements in the franchise, but ended up cramming too much into one package. The film goes on far too long and begins dragging about half-way through. While I had a great time watching the further adventures of Riggs & Murtaugh, I could have done with a tighter and more trimmed storyline that still provided the same amount of entertainment as the second film. Lethal Weapon 3 is still entertaining, but you can mark this as start of the decline of the series. Interestingly enough, wikipedia lists the late Carrie Fisher as a script doctor. Seven stars.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - Richard Donner


Lethal Weapon 2 (88)

One of the greatest action films of the nineteen eighties. A must watch for every action fan.

Directed by: 
Richard Donner

Produced by: Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam

Story by: 
Shane Black & Warren Murphy

Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Joss Ackland
Derrick O'Connor
Patsy Kensit

Music by:
Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
David Sanborn

Silver Pictures

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros.

Release date: 
July 7, 1989

Running time:
114 minutes

United States


$50 million

Box office:
$227.9 million

Lethal Weapon II is a buddy-cop action film from 1989, and is the second installment to the Lethal Weapon franchise. Richard Donner returns to the helm and directs with a screenplay penned by Jeffrey Boam. Screenwriter, Shane Black had originally written the film, but he left the series due to various disputes. Both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return as our heros, Riggs & Murtaugh. With Joe Pesci brought in to help emphasise the more comedic elements of the film. We also get another amazing soundtrack that harkens back to the first Lethal Weapon film thanks to Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn. Again, yes! THAT Eric Clapton.

Our heroes are assigned to protecting an annoying federal witness, Leo Getz. However, they also get tied up in investigating Arjen Rudd, a corrupt and murderous South African politician that is hiding behind diplomatic immunity and the vienna commission. It’s extremely frustrating. We also get introduced to a clueless South African secretary that becomes the love interest to Riggs.

This sequel took everything that worked in the first movie and magnified it! The comedy, the action and the story were all improved. The addition of Joe Pesci is welcomed and his character works really well with Riggs and Murtaugh. Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) is a believable villain although sometimes he starts to feel like an over-the-top James Bond antagonist, a bit theatrical for my tastes. The action is huge. They had definitely ramped it up. Giant shootouts, a lot of explosions and car chases. Michael Bay would be proud. It wouldn’t be Lethal Weapon without a final showdown and this movie has a great one.

The comedy is great. It feels so comfortable and well written. Mel Gibson is always wonderful as the Martin Riggs character. Gibson’s comedy has a familiarity that feels like he could be related to you, like an uncle or older brother that gives you a well meaning funny jab. I loved the comedy. Joe Pesci is hilarious and a great addition, Mel Gibson is on top form too. Danny Glover does the usual straight man routine of Roger Murtaugh, but is involved in the hilarious and iconic toilet bomb scene. A scene that you cannot unsee.

One thing I noticed was the product placement for things like Tales from the Crypt and Subway restaurants. That kind of thing doesn’t really bother me but it's noticeable. I had a great time watching Lethal Weapon 2. It’s an amazing sequel that hits all the checkmarks. I laughed hard and appreciated the hard-hitting action. I also love how this movie keeps pace with the original. Both are intense but this is far more flushed out. It’s a prime example of a sequel surpassing the original.

Trading Places (1983) - John Landis



Trading Places is a comedy film from 1983. It was directed by John Landis and had an all-star cast including Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a loose and modernized take on the Mark Twain tale The Prince and the Pauper. It isn’t just a great comedy, Trading Places is a great movie. It satirizes our society so accurately and relevantly. And it does so with charm. I’ve been a fan of this movie since first seeing it as a kid. My friends and I grew up quoting it in the schoolyard. This high-quality film pairs masterfully with the holiday season especially with a bit of spiced wine.

Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy) are two old and greedy entrepreneurs. They are brothers that own and run the commodities brokerage firm of Duke and Duke. They are horrible rich bullies that play games with young executives at their firm. They make a bet for one dollar to take a snooty, up-and-coming investor, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), and trade his everyday life with a destitute conman, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy). Louis is framed for theft and drug abuse, destroying his life and forcing him into the care of a crass prostitute, Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis). Valentine is picked up by Duke and Duke and dropped into Winthorpe’s old life. He goes from a street conman to a well adjusted young businessman. Louis vows revenge on the Dukes and Valentine for stealing his old life.

This is my favorite comedy of the eighties. It never ceases to make me laugh. Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd are in top form. The content of their jokes is a bit dated, but it doesn’t take away from the hilarity. Both do a tremendous job. I loved watching a snooty Dan Aykroyd. “... Oh sure, like he went to Haaarvard.” is just one of his amazing lines. Aykroyd just plays a scummy character so well. Jamie Lee Curtis was great too. She broke away from the scream queen moniker that followed her since Halloween. The role of Ophelia gave her the opportunity to broaden her range as an actress.

I cannot recommend Trading Places enough. It’s hilarious, and it has a good story. The racial and sexual jokes are a bit harsh for our society today, but they shouldn’t detract from the entertainment of the picture overall. We love rags-to-riches stories that are set in a world we know. Even with the heavy handed, pro-capitalist nature of the film. If you can look past that you will see one of the greatest comedy films of the eighties.

Trading Places (80)

A fantastic comedy from Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. A bit dated, but still highly entertaining and perfect for the holiday season.












JUNE 8, 1983