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Posts Tagged ‘Gary Busey’

The HuntThe marketing for the movie The Hunt tells us: “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen”.  The studio, Universal Pictures pulled its release last summer.  It had already drastically scaled back the marketing following a mass shooting in America.  The Donald Trump (who I understand had, not, and has still not, seen the film) got involved accusing the producers of inciting violence.  Having now seen the film, it is neither inciting or provocative, it is actually a run of the mill action thriller within a sub-genre that crops up from time to time.  The modern twist is the hunters are “Woke” liberal elites who are truly horrible, and the prey are call “deplorables”, basically people who have expressed less than woke views.  the film is fun and has some interesting ideas, but isn’t cutting enough to be a true satire on modern society. The Hunt

The first film of the genre was probably The Most Dangerous Game (1932) based on Richard Connell’s short story of the same name.  Anyone who has seen Zodiac (2007) will remember the reference to this movie, if the events of that movie are to be believed it even provide inspiration for the real life Zodiac killer. It has also inspired filmmakers for nearly 90 years with numerous, copies imitators and remakes. The idea was even used for an episode of The Avengers (The Superlative Seven) and is spoofed in The Simpsons (Treehouse of Horror XVI).The Most Dangerous Game

Made in 1932 parts of the movie look dated, the most notable of these are the use of close-ups of exaggerated facial expressions, a clear hangover from the silent era. The movie starts onboard a ship, all exterior shots are clearly a model and not up to the standard of King Kong (1933) that it actually shares a lot with (including one of its directors, sets and cast). Other than this the movie stands up really well and is wonderfully atmospheric. Due to the relatively low production cost it actually made more money than the better known King Kong. Coming in at only a fraction over an hour the movie is incredibly short, but its stripped down simplicity is to its credit.

A Game of Death (1945) directed by Robert Wise is a direct remake of The Most Dangerous Game, shot towards the end of WWII, the madman is a Nazi, not Russian.A Game of Death

The Tenth Victim (1965) is an Italian Sci-Fi entry to the genre featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress.  “The Big Hunt,” is a televised competition with contestants who must survive five rounds as a hunter, and five as the prey. For years a hard to find obscurity, it is now available on Amazon Prime in the UK (complete with a terrible dub).  The Tenth Victim

One of the most interesting and controversial examples is the excellent Punishment Park (1971) shot as a bleak mockumentary. Punishment Park

Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle based on a Stephen King story (as Richard Bachman), The Running Man (1987) looks far more satirical and incisive in today’s world of reality TV than it did back in the day. The Running Man

One of my favourites of the genre: Hard Target (1993) is possibly the only Hollywood film by John Woo to live up to the bonkers fun of his Hong Kong movies.  Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a man down on his luck hired to find a missing man, he soon finds himself in the same “Most Dangerous Game” headed up by Lance Henriksen.Hard Target

This was closely followed by Surviving the Game (1994) with Ice-T as a A homeless man hunted by Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey. Surviving the Game

Battle Royale (2000), and its sequel (2003), Series 7: The Contenders (2001), The Hunger Games (2012-15), The Belko Experiment (2016) all take a slightly different angle, as the prey are also the hunters, forced to kill each other. 

While Predators (2010), features and extraterrestrial hunter, it fulfills most of the tropes of the genre, even more so than other films in the series.  Predators

Revenge (2017), is also worth a look.  The setup is very different, put it soon finds itself in familiar  territory with a few interesting twists along the way. Revenge

Finally, if you fancy a different medium, take a look at the Jack Reacher novel Past Tense (2018) by Lee Child.Jack Reacher Past Tense

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Groovers Video VaultFor the first time in what seems like ages I have had time to sit down and watch a movie at home. I thought I would combine it with a long overdue entry into my “Groovers Video Vault” series. If you scroll down you will see my last article where I suggested Kathryn Bigelow should direct the next Bond movie, and furthermore she should make it a dumb action movie. One of the commenter’s suggested “Bigelow just doesn’t work well in that area. She’s tried it several times before and ultimately failed with most of it” he goes on to suggest that the closest she came was Point Break but suggested that it was “just decent, nothing great”. I’m glad to report that I stand by my original assessment that not only does Bigelow do dumb action, but she does the best dumb action. Point Break, is dumb but it the best made and most fun dumb ever, in other words, it is great.point break

On his first day in the LA field office, rookie FBI Agent and former star college quarterback Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is partnered with veteran maverick agent Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey). The pair are hunting a gang of bank robbers known as the Ex-Presidents (they were masks of former Presidents Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson during robberies) who have robbed thirty banks in three years without the authorities coming close to catching them. Following Pappas’ theory that the Ex-Presidents are surfers Utah goes undercover finding a way in through troubled surfer girl Tyler (Lori Petty).

Point break utah and tyler

 

There is a moment that comes to all surfers when they wipe-out and as they surface a big wave crashes down on them with such ferocity that they are pushed back under water. The power of the wave counters the bodies natural buoyancy and they don’t know witch way is up. I’m glad to report when this happened to me, I worked it out and came found my way to the surface before running out of air. This is the situation Utah finds himself in and it is this central relationship between his character and Bodie (Patrick Swayze) the leader of the Ex-Presidents that forms the heart of Point Break. This relationship is far more important than his interactions with Pappas and Tyler or even the relationships between the members of the Ex-Presidents. The overriding theme of the movie is Utah getting too deep and too close to Bodie to be blinded to his guilt, but look deeper and you will see from early on that it is Bodhi that sees something in Utah that he is attracted to something in his character. The only character who sees this is Tyler. Point-Break Utah and Bodhi

As you would expect of a Kathryn Bigelow it has a Visual Style that sets it apart from other movies of the genre. This is helped by the locations used, forgoing recognisable LA imagery and sticking with coastal  towns making it that little bit different to the norm. Littered with quotable lines and fun references it actually has a far better script than it is ever given credit for. The casting is perfected Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer and Charlie Sheen were all considered for Johnny Utah, but Keanu Reeves totally nails it, as Ben Harp (John C. McGinley) describes the character as “a real blue flame special – Young, dumb and full of come” as much as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it is the movie that galvanised Reeves’ image. As an action star famed for doing his own stunts Patrick Swayze was the perfect choice for Bodhi. He takes it a stage further giving depth to the character and having the crazed look in his eyes that few actors (Mel Gibson and Jack Nicholson?) can pull off. Gary Busey, himself the star of one of the greatest surf movies ever, manages to provide both gravitas and comic reliefpoint break gary busey

But all this is secondary, it’s the action that the movie is all about. The surf photography is good as is the skydiving. The best scene, and one that has been imitated may times happens back on terra firma. The foot chase through back streets (and peoples houses) is perfectly executed and comes as a surprise when you are expecting a car chase. Equally well handled is the raid on the other gangs house and the bank robberies. It is also worth remembering that all the action is integral to the plot of the movie, this gives it a stable grounding that helps us invest in the action the same way we do in the characters.point break the Ex Presidents

As fun now as it was when I saw it two decades ago, action movies don’t come much better than this. For those that see Point Break as a guilty pleasure, come out and declare your love for it, you may just find you are not alone. Those who haven’t seen it, take a look, it is a true classic of the genre.

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