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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot - Comedy film released in 1992 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty and JoBeth Williams

Mostly associated with macho, blood, guts and glory flicks, Stallone has a reasonably decent repertoire for comedy as well. Released in 1992, the film stars Sylvester Stallone as Sgt. Joseph Andrew ‘Joe’ Bomowski, and, in the pivotal role, Estelle Getty as his mother Mrs.Tutti Bomowski. The movie opens with Joe in a police heist, with Sgt. Tony (John Wesley), waiting for the bad guys to turn up, but they are two hours late, like his birthday or the Easter Bunny - they’re still coming! They are posing as sellers of stolen merchandise, here to make a deal.
One of the men is suspicious, and says he (Joe) could be a cop, but the henchman gives the go ahead, and they show him a whole consignment of electronic goods in a shuttered shop, as he shows them the cash. Meanwhile, Tony, in the shadows, is moving in to make a kill - he is hit when a skirmish takes place, and the men make a run.
Later that evening, he calls his mom from a bar; she isn’t answering the phone, but is instead packing her suitcase! Where is she going to? The next day, Joe is being ribbed about how he used Tony’s butt for cover, he is even more heckled when another cop makes a cheap dig at Lieutenant Gwen Harper (JoBeth Williams) - the two were once involved, and she calls him to her office telling him how upset she is that he did not call the previous night, but sat a bar drinking with his buddies - she hands him a file to make it look like they’re discussing something important!

She tells him how upset she was when she heard someone had been shot, and thought it was him, and worse, she heard that he was on the phone all evening, with someone! Gwen refuses to believe that Joe was calling his mom at 2:30 am! She is unsure whether it is his mother or could be a ‘dial-a-bimbo’. Gwen calls their relationship off! Meanwhile, his mother still isn’t answering the phone! Joe goes to the airport, and comes across hostesses giggling at him, a traveler who comes off the plane tells him he was a bed wetter just like Joe- yes! Mom’s done enough damage already - he’ll always be her lil’ Joey! She’s off the plane with Pixie, her dog.
On the way home, he is stuck in a traffic jam, and finds out that a man is threatening to jump off a high rise, because his mother and he have problems. As Joe goes up to do his thing, the young boy is upset and threatens to jump off…on the ground, his mum grabs a megaphone and starts to tell the boy that the policeman is his son, and the boy in turn tells Joe not to swear at his mom, and that he must obey her. Meanwhile, Tutti goes on about Joe as a little boy, she even shows his baby pics to the crowd - the boy says that he’s changed his mind, saying Joe’s life is far worse than his with a mom like that!
But Tutti does come out the winner in the film as she helps her son nail a crystal meth kingpin and helps him reunite with Gwen - she is actually the real hero in  the film! Stallone once said in an interview that this was his worst film, but audiences loved the character of the bullied son, and the movie was a decent success at the box office. Good clean laughs and family entertainment!

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot - Comedy film released in 1992 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty and JoBeth Williams

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tango and Cash (1989) - Starring Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell - Drugs, prisoners and detectives

This time, Sly pairs up with Kurt Russell. The duo are detectives with the LAPD narcotics department. Given that drugs have always been big in LA, and are also a recurrent theme in Sly’s movies, he is sending out a message to audiences to steer clear away from the death knell.
Ray Tango (Sylvester Stallone) and Gabriel Cash (Kurt Russell) are hardnosed detectives who have constantly been in the news for heckling drug kingpin Yves Perret (Jack Palance), within the legal ambit, performing separately in different zones. They come face to face after a tip off that a drug deal is going to take place at an unspecified location one night. The two reach the place, only to discover the presence of a corpse, already wire taped; the FBI arrives on the crime scene, puts two and two together, and arrests the detectives.
The Federal Agents finds Cash’s weapon and makes the arrest as the evidence against the two is incriminating - especially with an audio tape given to Agent Wyler (Lewis Arquette) by one of Perret’s stooges, a guy called Requin (Brion James). In the tape, when presented in court, it is heard that Detective Gabriel Cash and Detective Tango are heard to be discussing the purchase of narcotics, and the sound of the shooting of the man (an FBI Agent, nonetheless) are both clear and evident. Tango and Cash are transported to a maximum security prison, after they plead to lesser charges. They are to be housed with the many hardened criminals they themselves have arrested in the past - and the men are waiting for their pound of flesh each (it can be pretty difficult for policemen who have been sentenced and sent to jail)!

Obviously, not ones to lose the chance of getting even with their enemies, the prisoners, led by Requin, beat the duo up, till the fighting is disrupted by the assistant prison warden Matt Sokowski (who was also Cash’s commanding officer at one point in time). Matt is understanding, and knows that the men will come after the duo again, and might end up killing them this time - he suggests they hatch a plan to escape – Tango does not acquiesce and refuses to go along with the plan; he is certain that they would not be successful. Cash, however, tries to make a run for it, in the chaos that ensues; the prisoners murder Matt and are baying for Cash’s blood as well. Luckily, Ray Tango comes to his rescue and they manage to escape the prison.
Once safe and away from the prison, they part ways, but not before Ray tells Gabriel that should he need him, he must go to the Cleopatra Club and ask for Katherine. They now make certain to bring to task the guys who framed them - Requin tops the list, of course! When they catch up with him, Agent Wyler admits that he was hand-in-glove with Perret, and that the court audio expert Skinner (Michael Jetter) is also in on the deal with the drug lord, and had engineered the tape to trap the detectives. Cash meets Kiki, aka Katherine Tango, Ray’s sister, who helps him escape the Cleopatra when police raids the premises.
 Tango and Cash meet up at Kiki’s house, and Captain Schroeder (Geoffrey Lewis), Tango’s commanding officer, gives them twenty four hours to trace Requin and sort him out. Owen (Michael J.Pollard) who is a weapons expert, arms the two detectives with a high assault vehicle, they trash Perret’s headquarters, unaware that the villain has abducted Kiki and that the building where he is holding her hostage will self destruct with the timer he has; Tango and Cash beat up Requin and his fellow goon, and shoot Perret as he holds a knife to Kiki, the trio escapes, and the building crashes down after them.
Like almost every film of his, critical appreciation always eludes Stallone, but the fans keep proving the critics wrong! Tango and Cash is yet another example of Sylvester’s raging success during that phase and his appeal with audiences worldwide.

Tango and Cash (1989) - Starring Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell - Drugs, prisoners and detectives

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lock Up - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, John Amos and Darlanne Fluegel - Released in 1989

Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is out on parole, reminiscing in a garage he hopes to own one day, his girlfriend Melissa (Darlanne Fluegel) comes in to meet him and they go and play ball with the neighborhood kids. Nearing the end of his sentence at prison, Frank’s behavior is impeccable and he is counting the days before his release. Leone is a football player and a really good mechanic, living in Hoboken, New Jersey. That evening he returns to Norwood Prison, after Melissa gives him a good luck charm - the fellow prisoners seem happy that he’s back. In the middle of the night, he is rudely woken up and forcefully carried off to Gateway Prison - a maximum security prison. Despite his pleas he is not told why he is being transferred.
Prison warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland) has old scores to settle with Leone, and it was at his behest that the prisoner was transferred. While he was incarcerated under Drumgoole’s watch at Treadmore Prison, Frank staged a daring escape because he was denied the permission to meet a dying friend. When he was out of prison, Leone was also instrumental in running a smear campaign against the Warden in the Press, he talked of how prisoners were tortured and ill treated by Drumgoole - this had led to Frank’s prison sentence being reduced and the Warden’s transfer to Gateway Prison.
In the prison, Frank meets up with Dallas, Eclipse and First – Base, the four become close friends. Part of his work at prison incorporates mending old cars, and along with the other three, Frank restores to health a Ford Mustang. Eclipse is tempted and tries to escape in the car, even though Leone asks him not to - as a consequence, Drumgoole punishes the three by asking other inmates to destroy the vehicle in front of them and sentences Leone to six weeks solitary confinement. He is not allowed to communicate with the others and cannot even receive letters from Melissa - although one of the guards sneaks them in and delivers the mail after his confinement is over.
Not one to give in, Drumgoole decides to frame Frank and then implicate him. The Warden lets another prisoner Chink Weber (Sonny Landham) along with other fellow prisoners to try and kill First Base, Leone thrashes Chink within an inch of his life, aware that he will walk into Drumgoole’s trap if he kills the man -therefore he spares him. However, Weber’s friend stabs Leone, and whilst he is recuperating, a man, claiming to be a well wisher named Dallas, tells him that Drumgoole has  paid off Chink to rape and murder Melissa. Leone takes the bait and is delivered right into Drumgoole’s hands - the Warden wanted Leone to try and escape so that he arrests him on charges to frame him for a ten year sentence.
Meanwhile, Leone is tortured by the sadistic guards, and almost loses his life - but not before he barges into Drumgoole’s  office, strapping him to an electrocution chair, with his hand on the switch - as the guards threaten to kill him, he gets the Warden to confess the evil plot he had hatched to trap Leone. Hearing the confession, the guards arrest Drumgoole. Leone is released after his jail time and reunites with Melissa.
Released in 1998, the film is directed by John Flynn, Lockup was well received by audiences, if not critics. Stallone, everyone’s favorite underdog played the part of the victim turned hero to perfection.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Over the top - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia, Susan Blakely and Rick Zumwalt - Released in 1987

Released in 1987, the action drama Over the Top stars Sylvester Stallone as Lincoln Hawk, a
trucker. The film was directed by Menahem Golan (The Delta Force), the screenplay was co- written by Stallone. Despite criticism, fans loved the film with its mushy story about a father trying to make amends with his estranged son after the death of the wife.

Lincoln Hawk and Christina Cutler (Susan Blakeley) were married against the wishes of Christina’s father, rich and powerful bully, trucking magnate - Jason Cutler (Robert Loggia). The cold hearted and shrewd old man would rather that his grandson Michael (David Mendenhall) lived with him than Hawk. Lincoln and Cristina are now estranged, thanks to Jason, and now that his wife is ill, she makes an emotional appeal to Hawks to bond with their son, who is away at military school. For the ten years they’ve been apart, Lincoln has juggled making a living long hauling and arm wrestling - less than honorable means which his father-in-law disdains.

On the other hand, Jason has taken advantage of the situation in the couple’s lives - he poisons Michael against his father, and the boy resents Hawk for abandoning his family. Christina is suffering from a heart ailment, and she wants Lincoln to pick up Michael from Military School, where he is graduating from, and drive him from Colorado to California, hoping against hope that her twelve year old son will grow to like his father.

During the trip, Hawk and Michael gradually (the kid somewhat grudgingly!) grow fond of each other, especially after Lincoln saves the child from a kidnapping bid on him; a ploy hatched by Jason to wrestle his grandson away from Lincoln. When the duo return to meet Christina, they are informed that she lost her battle to death, and passed away in surgery. This spurs Michael to feel guilty for not being there by her side when she died - he goes back to his grandfather. Heartbroken, Lincoln makes an attempt to break into Cutler’s mansion and take his son away - this only makes matters worse, and he is jailed. Michael comes to meet his father in prison, saying he understands and forgives him, but thinks his life is with Jason.

Post prison, Hawk competed in the World Arm Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas, his hopes are pinned on a victory which rakes in the moolah - $100000! He also wins a custom made truck and gets to try his hand as an entrepreneur! Everyone knows that Lincoln Hawk is the underdog, he isn’t built like an arm wrestler, and he doesn’t foot the bill! He tries to deal with his financial crunch by selling off his truck, placing a bet and entering the contest.

Back in home, Michael is stunned to find out that his grandfather had concealed the letters Lincoln wrote to him and how Jason is responsible for the separation of his parents. He runs away to Vegas, to meet Hawks. Lincoln is injured in the match, almost at the flag end of tournament, where he has advanced to the final eight. In the interim of the match, he is summoned by Cutler, who offers him $500000 to stay away from Michael, Hawks refuses.

Despite the injury to his arm, he defeats his opponent, overpowering another two, advancing steadily to the final against Bull Hurley (Rick Zumwalt) - an old opponent, yet undefeated. Michael finds his father, and tells him he’s sorry for having misjudged him for all those years, now that he has the support of his son - Hawks is determined to win, and he does.

Even Cutler has grudging respect for his son-in-law, for having stood up against a bully like himself to win his son’s affection. A feel good family film, with the message of love and sacrifice, hard work and honest approach to relationships - a winning formula that Stallone mastered after Rocky!

Over the top - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia, Susan Blakely and Rick Zumwalt - Released in 1987

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nighthawks - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer and Lindsay Wagner - Released in 1981

This 1981 film was directed by Bruce Malmuth, and is about two hardworking cops, who don’t always believe in playing by the rules but are dedicated to law enforcement. Detective Sergeants Deke DeSilva (Sylvester Stallone) and Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams) are Men Friday for the LAPD - assault team, sniper team – they’re always in demand!

Across the globe, Heymar Reinhardt, a noted terrorist also known as Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) carries out the heinous bombing of a departmental store in London. Few days later, DeSilva and Fox carry out a raid on an alleged drug cartel’s kiosk. They have already been compromised, unbeknownst to them, by two members of the LAPD, shedding light on the rot within the system.

Wulfgar’s financer and handler - Mercer, is upset with him because a number of women and children were killed in the attack, and as a result, he withholds the payment to be made to Heymar. This upsets the terrorist, and in a bid to flee police, ends up murdering his contact - Kenna. He travels to Paris, to meet Shakka Holland (Persis Khambatta), who comments that killing Kenna was a bad move - for Wulfgar’s passport was found on his body, infact, Kenna was a willing associate and killing him has served no purpose other than creating problems.

The murder has alienated Wulfgar from his own peers as well, who see him as a traitor. In a desperate bid to flee the authorities and avoid arrest, the terrorist undergoes surgery to alter his appearance - predictably, he murders the surgeon, post the operation. After this he escapes to New York City. Meanwhile, DeSilva and Fox are reassigned to serve in a special task unit - ATAC, an anti terrorist outfit put together by an Interpol officer Peter Hartman (Nigel Davenport). Opposing Hartman’s shoot at sight and shoot to kill policies, DeSilva voices his opposition, stating he is a policeman, not a hired assassin.

Wulfgar, feeling safe in the US, starts planning his next move. He finds a safe house with Pam, a flight attendant. He discloses to her his true identity although withholding his name, ironically, she thinks he’s joking. The terrorist decides to make his presence felt by bombing locations near Wall Street. While he is away, Pam uncovers the cache of weapons in their apartment. Wulfgar murders Pam - her death is the first clue he leaves behind for Hartman and DeSilva.

Unable to identify him after his surgery, police are incapable of arresting Wulfgar, who plans a hostage crisis, and escapes narrowly, but not before he slashes Fox’s face - this infuriates DeSilva who vows to kill him no matter what. Shakka, now in the USA, keeps Wulfgar informed of every move made by the NYPD & US authorities, and tells him that the UN delegation has given a description of him as well. She also tells him his allies back in Europe are still miffed with him, to the extent that they do not wish to hire him again. Upset, the two plan their move to deal with the police and ATAC.

A UN Conference at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is target for the terrorist; Shakka attends the meet in disguise, cornering Hartman and killing him, she then teams with Wulfgar to hijack the UN reps - Wulfgar even kills the French ambassador’s wife in full view of the police chopper and DeSilva. On their way to escape the police and the detectives, Shakka makes a run for it, but is gunned down - Wulfgar escapes once more - and makes his way to Irene’s house (Lindsay Wagner) – DeSilva’s ex wife. As luck would have it, the cop is already there, and he shoots Wulfgar dead.

A tiresome and long winded story, with forgettable performances, the film wasn’t well received by audiences either.

Nighthawks - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer and Lindsay Wagner - Released in 1981

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cobra - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen and Brian Thompson - Released in 1986

Riding high on the success of the Rocky and Rambo series, Stallone cashed in on the image that audiences worldwide identified him with - the tough guy. The film was directed by George Cosmatos (First Blood) and the screen play was written by Sylvester Stallone. It released in 1986, and despite not being welcomed by the critics, it debuted at number one on the US box office.

Stallone plays the role of a cop called Marion Cobretti, known as Cobra, with the LAPD. He is working with the “Zombie Squad”, dealing with hostage situations and high profile crime. When he busts a hostage crisis, killing the gunman, the criminal mentions something about a ‘New Order’- propagated to make the weak, weaker, and the strong, stronger. Their aim is to ensure that only the powerful, rich and strong inherit the earth, and everyone else perishes, whilst they prosper. Cobra comes to face harsh criticism from the media and even the LAPD, who think he is violating the rights of individuals and endangering ethical professional principles.

Unknown to the media and the police department, a series of crimes, though unconnected, have been committed by a supremacist group, working to leave its mark on the community. At the helm of The Order is the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson), who targets a model Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen) - the only witness to a few murders committed by the group.

When she is placed under the protective custody of Cobra and his partner, they face The Order’s ire- confirming Cobra’s hunch that the killings are not the work of one person, but an entire gang! This theory is, however, trashed by his superiors at the LAPD. Afraid that she might be killed, Cobra helps Ingrid relocate to the countryside, where the two fall in love. Unfortunately, their cover is blown, as members of The Order have infiltrated the police force as well - and one of the  groups ‘leaders’ working with the LAPD, reveals their hideout to the Slasher.

Cobra becomes suspicious of the officer, but does not want him to know that he has caught on to what is happening. That night they stay at a motel and The Order moves in at dawn, surrounding the place, a violent fight ensues, but Ingrid and Cobretti manage to escape in a pickup. When the vehicle breaks down, they abandon it, walking on foot through a lemon grove, seeking refuge in an abandoned steel mill.

Marion has eliminated most of The Order’s members, a handful enter the mill, but are killed - only the Night Slasher remains. In the end, the villain is impaled on a giant hook, dying after Cobra burns him. Detective Monte (Andrew Robinson) appreciates the outcome of the case, but harps about the protocols that Cobra should follow in future - having listened to him enough, Marion pushes him out of the way, riding into the sunset with Ingrid.

The film is based on the novel Fair Game, which was later filmed starring Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. A must see for the all the loyal die hard Stallone fans, lacks appeal for everyone else though!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, and Steven Berkoff - Released in 1985

Undoubtedly the most successful film in the Rambo series, First Blood II is the 1985 sequel to First Blood, directed by George Cosmatos, starring Sylvester Stallone playing John Rambo, a Vietnam veteran awarded the coveted Medal of Honor. Both films have been co-written by Stallone. Rambo was arrested at the end of First Blood, after waging a one man battle against the Sherriff of the small town of Hope.

First Blood II opens to the audience with Rambo being released from prison – he is appointed by the US Government to go back to Vietnam and search leftover POWs; not knowing that he is being used as a pawn in a federal conspiracy to hush up the matter – the feds are relying on him not finding anyone there. Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) , his former CO from Nam, offers him the opportunity to earn clemency on the one condition that he go back and search for POWs.

The operation will be overseen by a bureaucra t- Marshal Murdock (Charles Napier), who sugar coats the details, flattering Rambo about how dependable the US  Citizens think he is, and him being a trained commando - they believe none other can carry out the job as well!

He is also briefed strictly that all he must do is photograph the presence of POWs, he must, under no circumstance, carry out a rescue mission, or engage with the Vietnamese in any form of combat. Feeling frustrated that he has no way he can help the POWs, Rambo gets ready to leave for Nam, where a US official will meet him.

Whilst being airdropped, Rambo loses much of his gear since the parachute line is caught on the plane on exit. He now has his arsenal of knives, bows and arrows on his person. The agent who is there to receive him is Co-Bao (Julia Nickson), she is offered asylum in the US and agrees to guide Rambo through the jungles of Nam, along with river pirates.

When they arrive at the camp where the alleged POWs are being held, Rambo, in keeping with his training and temperament, is appalled to see the torture being meted out on  the  US inmates of the camp. A night patrol of the Vietcong discovers that a sentry has been killed - they launch a search operation in the jungles. Meanwhile, Rambo along with the native girl and POWs, escape into the thicket, they are attacked by a navy gunboat after the river pirates betray them to the enemy.

The lone ranger mows down the enemy with an RPG, killing the pirates. In need of aerial help, he calls in on Murdock, who is now worried that the US and the public will get to know the truth about the operation - the chopper does not make  a rescue landing. As a result, Rambo and the POWs are recaptured and returned to the camp.

All sorts of torture are meted out on Rambo, unspeakable indignity is doled out to the POWs as well. Another layer is added to the plot when Rambo discovers that the Russians are aiding the Vietcong, two personnel of the Soviet army are present in the camp, and they relish torturing Rambo.

In a brave attempt to escape his captors and get even with the US officials - Rambo escapes , taking Co with him; the two are once more attacked, just as soon as they realize how emotionally connected they are - unfortunately, Co is mercilessly gunned down in the standoff with the Vietcong. Enraged, Rambo hammers a full blown attack on the soldiers, killing all, including the commander. He then buried Co in the jungles.

Despite not getting rave reviews from the critics, First Blood II is a favorite with audiences worldwide, infact, it is a more beloved character than Rocky and has a cult following the world over!

Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 - Starring Sylvester Stallonem Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, and Steven Berkoff - Released in 1985