Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Tough Bastard (aka One Man's Justice)

Price: $2
Year: 1996
Length: 100 minutes
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Payne, Hammer, Jeff Kober, Neal McDonough, M.C. Gainey

I can't decide how to start this so here's a few different opening paragraphs on the movie ONE TOUGH BASTARD (aka the inferior DVD title ONE MAN'S JUSTICE).

1. About Those Eagle Cries

The comedic potential of Eagle cry soundbites has been dutifully harnessed by Stephen Colbert's opening credits over the past few years. However, they were hilarious long before that dirty pinko took a shine to them. In 1996, while Mr. Colbert was still slogging away on the Dana Carvey Show, a movie called ONE TOUGH BASTARD really tried to make the eagle cry motif happen in the most sincere and poignant way. The opening shot of the movie is a sun rise, then after a couple seconds, an eagle cry is heard. I laughed. Then the eagle cries kept coming as the Boz has a heart2heart with his moppety little girl. I kept laughing. Always the same public domain casio keyboard eagle cry. Always the same gut reaction, laughter. By the time the movie ended, I counted somewhere between 12 and 56 eagle cries on the soundtrack. Not since Eagle Eye Cherry first escaped from Don Cherry's nutsack in the 1970s have eagle cries achieved such cultural prominence. And they wouldn't again until Eagle Eye Cherry's timeless anthem of true love conquering all SAVE TONIGHT would top the charts one full year after this movie came and went unloved and unremembered . . . until now!

2. On "And Hammer"

Traditionally, when a film features a well established or well regarded actor in a smaller role, you can expect their name to be set off at the end of the credits by either a "with" or an "and." Sometimes, particularly loaded casts will employ both the "with" and the "and" to set aside different levels of respect for those actors, with the "with" actor(s) coming before the "and" actor(s), thus creating a hierarchy of featured-ness. Often times, the character that the actor plays will be included as well, as if it means something special to us that the movie features "Wilford Brimley as Cooter" as opposed to just plain old Wilford Brimley. It's known as "last billing" in the industry. The movie ONE TOUGH BASTARD gives this spot for Hammer, leading to the rather amusing credit "and Hammer" in the opening credits. At first, I rewinded to see if I had missed a preceding credit for Arm. No such luck as apparently the producers of this film were impervious to the product placing payola of the baking soda brigade. After thinking for another moment, I remembered that MC Hammer dropped the MC when he came out with his epochal statment on life and love, "Too Legit to Quit." It was meant as a statement of ascension on his part as he, with that album, transcended the limitations of merely being an MC and became something more like a life coach in whose lessons one could get lost for hours and hours. So I surmised that this movie featured Mr. Hammer in a supporting or featured role (he's a drug kingpin). And this got me excited. However, if I had known what treasures lay ahead of me, I would have even been more excited. Here's why I was so excited . . .

3. The Greil Marcusy Wanky Americana approach

Action movies are a lot like Blues music. They both involve playing around and incorporating established riffs and motifs and formulas in ways that are at once familiar and hopefully, if you're doing it right, unique. After all, just as there are your shouty growly blues singers like Buddy Guy, there are also blues singers who neither shout or growl like people who aren't Buddy Guy. They may play the same riffs, but do they play them with the same feeling? I don't know, I don't really listen to the blues, which is why I have very little to support this theory with. But I do watch a lot of action movies and I know that Stevie Ray Vaughn sort of played blues guitar (electric blues, ugh) and that for some reason, in the movie HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN, Mickey Rourke as HARLEY DAVIDSON wears a leather jacket with the initials SRV and the roman numerals MCMLVI-XC, which are supposed to stand for Stevie Ray Vaughn's birth and death dates even though he was actually born in MCMLIV as opposed to MCMLVI, but whatever it's still not as bad as Crooked I's SLAUGTER tattoo, or John Mayer's SRV tattoo for that matter. So basically, Mickey Rourke's jacket in that movie connects everything together well enough that I can stop trying to flog this still born metaphor with something resembling "facts." Maybe action movies are more like jazz music. But not like good interesting jazz music, but boring sucky Wynton Marsalis jazz music that just recycles the same shit Louis Armstrong was doing 50 years ago, but adds a sheeny patina of Kenny G production quirks to blend in with the WAVVVE 94.7 of today. In this sense, ONE TOUGH BASTARD is a great American work of art that takes the established tropes and stereotypes of the 1980's action movie, but puts just enough gonzo retardo flair into it to maintain a sense of lolercaustian discovery while maintaining a hard line of instantly recognizable characters and situations that are comforting to the discerning action fan. It's exactly like almost every other action movie made around the same time, but it is goofier and more outlandish in a good way or something. I got bored with this whole wanky approach before I could even get out of the first overlong paragraph. YIKES stripes froot strype gumm.

4. The most important question ever

When I watch a movie for the first time, I always find myself asking the same questions as I watch it. Do I like this? Do I need to pee now? How about now? And now? Am I thirsty? Are there boobs in this film? How about now? And now? What time is it? But beyond these simple questions, there lies a more important question, heck, it may be the most important question: Does this movie feature a character getting kicked in the balls so hard that he immediately starts vomiting? Well, let's just say that by this rubric ONE TOUGH BASTARD is one of the greatest films of all time. A man does get kicked in the balls hard and you better bet that milky spoogey vomit immediately spews forth from his mouth. For most of you, this is all you will need to know about this film to make up your mind as to whether this is a must see or a most avoid, however, for the few of you who need more info, I can blather on some more below.

5. On Fakes

The day before I decided to watch this movie, I got into an argument with one of my three friends about the movie DEEP RISING. He was all like oh yeah doesn't that have Fake Nick Nolte in it? I had to think for a minute and then I remembered that yes it does have Fake Nick Nolte in it as the evil guy who owns the boat and who wants everyone to die for some reason. You've probably seen Fake Nick Nolte in a bunch of movies as well. He's in Silence of the Lambs, X-Men: The Last Stand, Red Dragon, 8MM, and a whooping 3 unconnected Grisham adaptations: A Time to Kill, The Client, and the Pelican Brief. His name is Anthony Heald and he looks a lot like Nick Nolte. This movie features one of my other favorite fake actors, Fake Stacy Keach with a Mustache. It is important not to confuse him with Fake Powers Boothe or even Powers Boothe himself who was once known as Fake Stacy Keach with a Mustache before he ascended to name awareness levels in his own right. However, I was sad that FSKWAM dies after about 5 seconds on screen in the opening scene of this film. His name is M.C. Rainey and he looks a little bit like Stacy Keach, but with a mustache.

6. The Everybody's Gotta Start Somewhere Approach

When I was at Big Lots the other day, I found myself in a bit of a predicament. They had two Brian Bosworth movies in the $3 DVD bin. I could not in good conscience buy both of them, so I had to compare and contrast. In one hand, I held MACH 2, which is an action movie from 2001 involving planes and also features a rare non-Worf turn from Michael Dorn. In my other hand, I held ONE MAN'S JUSTICE, which is an action movie from 1996 (better vintage) involving revenge featuring a rare attempt at acting by Hammer. Dorn vs. Hammer is a draw, leaning towards Dorn since I am super gay for TNG and am sick of Hammer's public goody 2 "those magic shoes" image at this point. The years obviously favor 1996. No clear winner emerged after this first round. So I perused the rest of the crew information and came upon an intriguing director head to head. Mach 2 was helmed by the familiarly named Fred Olen Ray, who I think assassinated someone but whose specific other works eluded me (according to the imdb, he has directed over 100 movies none of which have a better user rating than 4.28, which went to something called Bikini Chain Gang). ONE MAN'S JUSTICE, however, was helmed by Kurt Wimmer, who I immediately recognized as the writer-director of such over stylized action crap as ULTRAVIOLET, where Milla Jovovich kills vampires instead of zombies, and EQUILIBRIUM, where Christian Bale does silly things with guns that people think are cool. He also wrote such classics as the crappy Crichton adaptation SPHERE and the lousy THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR remake. Despite the fact that I basically like none of his movies, the Wimmer factor tipped ONE MAN'S JUSTICE over the edge for me. I always love seeing where people come from, especially when it's straight to VHS garbage like this Bosworth flick here. Also, it seemed like his aesthetic might mesh well with Bosworth crap and oh boy was I right.

7. Name Confusion

The copy of this film I purchased is called ONE MAN'S JUSTICE, which is a lousy lousy title for a movie. It sounds weak and unclear. He has a gun in front of a flag, but why? The title ain't selling me shit. However, it was originally called ONE TOUGH BASTARD, which is a great title. It is completely inaccurate since The Boz is a total noncy poof in this movie, but it still sells me the ass kicking that OMJ does not. Whoever changed this title is a moron. A cowardly dum dum straight up shook one.

8. The I'm Tired of this writing a bunch of intros nonsense approach

I'm getting really bored of this whole thing here so I'm going to stop and just ramble out my last 3 opening into one mushy pad of butter inside a hot loaf of bread melting along down the sides and dripping onto your plate. It goes to show how stupid and pointless this whole exercise has been that I managed to make it 7 whole intros before I even mentioned the one reason that truly sets this film apart from the pack and makes it worthy of being sought out at your local Big Lots and purchased for 2 whole dollars and that is one Mr. Bruce Payne. If you know Bruce Payne at all, it is most likely for his sublime Fake Alan Rickman turn in one of my favorite films, PASSENGER 57. In that film, which I have someone seen upwards of 10 times over the past few years, he is an evil terrorist who steals a plane and he is very good at being evil and hilarious in that film. He is also maybe known to some of you pathetic nerds out there as the villain in the DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie, which I never saw. His name also MAJORLY reminds me of a certain Damon Wayans film. Either way, he is fucking completely brilliant in this movie right here. He plays an evil CIA agent with a nose ring, long flowing Nelson brothers poster on DJ Tanner's wall style hair, a penchant for constant cocaine snorting, and the ability to say things like "You're gonna be in my Dog and Pony show until the Pony dies, Pony!" as if they actually make sense and are menacing. He goes by the Deep Space Nine-ish name Savak. It's one of the best hammy villain performances I've seen since Lance Henriksen's work in the Boz's other meisterwerk, STONE COLD. I don't know why the Boz brings out such great overacting in his co-workers, but I would like to thank him for it.

Also, this movie features a child drug dealer. Now, plenty of other movies have dealt with child drug kingpins. It is a notable element of ROBOCOP 2. The kid in that is pretty evil looking and evil acting though. He kills people with guns and shit. When he gets killed, you're all like good riddance kids these days he had it coming! In this movie, there is a child drug dealer. He is chubby and cute and not menacing at all and like 8 years old. He's like one of Rudy's friends on The Cosby Show, which means he is like Alicia Keys (look it up, fucker!). In ROBOCOP 2, I think there was supposed to be a satirical element to the kid drug dealer. It was misguided like much of ROBOCOP 2, but I think they were going for laughs in a way with it. In ONE TOUGH BASTID, I think the kid drug dealer is supposed to be an actual thing we are supposed to take seriously. By way of character development, we see his 8 year old friend get gunned down by a goofy white kid who resembles Carrot Top, who comes up to him asks "what's your shoe size?" and then blasts him in the face before he can respond. First of all, the common urban legend was the gang banger asks you where you're from and then they shoot you depending on what you say. It supposedly happens. I've read about it in the paper. Shoe sizes though. Why should you die over shoe sizes? It doesn't make sense, but white guys who look like Widespread Panic fans shooting up 8 year old black kids in the hood also makes no sense. So anyway, the main drug dealer guy gives this 8 year old kid a key of heroin to deliver along with a gun. It is implied that this is the first time they have worked together as well. You don't give a key of pure to somebody you just started working with and especially not a child. It makes no damn sense, but in a good way. It's an enjoyable nonsense. A critical madness if you will. You Won't. This is all I could find on YOUTUBE.



osama bin tupac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
osama bin tupac said...

right after I posted this, I found a great Bruce Payne fansite that is still updated in spite of its fresh for 96 web design. here's their page on ONE TOUGH BASTARD.