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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cliffhanger (Released in 1993) - Action adventure on the mountains - Starring Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker

Gabriel Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is a mountain climber and rescue ranger, who is on a rescue mission to help an injured climber Hal with his girlfriend and partner Sarah (Michelle Joyner). Fastened with cables, Gabe is hanging out the side of a cliff, silhouetted against an amazing backdrop of jagged edged cliffs of the Rocky Mountains. The trio must now make an arduous slither across the valley to the waiting chopper, at four thousand feet! Hal makes it, and a visibly nervous Sarah takes to the cables to make her way across. The wind is picking up, and this could risk the rescue mission, Gabe tells Sarah not to look down, and she moves across the line. Suddenly, one of the clips gives way and she is hurtled downward, as she cries and tries to hold onto the flimsy support, Gabe hurries across, just as the cable give way - she grabs his forearm, unfortunately her glove slips and she falls to her death, as an angry Hal looks at Gabe with blame in his eyes.
Gabe looks up Jessie Deighan, the chopper pilot that day and his girlfriend, who is upset that Gabe took off after Sarah’s funeral instead of facing the consequences. Now he wants to leave the town and wishes that Jess would go along with him. She wants him to stop feeling guilty about what happened out on the ledge, logically questioning why Hal took an inexperienced Sarah with him in the first place, Gabe won’t have any of it, and continues to hold himself responsible for the mishap. Jess and Hal are called to another rescue mission - the boys who met Gabe are stranded on the ledge. Jess asks him to help - and he does, but a still angry Hal tries to throw Gabe off the cliff.




Elsewhere, bank money is being transported in flight, as the threat of burglary is high in armored vehicles and trains, treasury agents are getting ready for the flight. As he returns to town eight months after the incident, his truck is followed by admirers, who want him to climb The Tower (where the incident took place) with him - he politely refuses and sends them with a warning. It turns out that the distress call for rescue was a hoax and there is a band of robbers waiting to accost the treasury agents on their flight with the money. Ex military men are involved in daring air-to-air transfer mission to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars - unfortunately, their plan goes kaput as the suitcases with the currency fall into the mountain pass - they instead, rope in Hal and Gabe to help trace the treasure by faking an emergency.
Siding up with the thieves is Hal, who is hot on Gabe’s trail after the tragic death of his girlfriend Sarah, for which he holds Gabe responsible. A thriller all the way.
Directed by Renny Harlin, based on a premise by John Long (!) and with a screen play co written by Stallone, the film was praised by critics and audiences, although many were critical of the technical aspect of climbing shown in the film. The movie set a record for the highest aerial stunt which was performed at 15000 feet! A remake of the film was to be made in 2010, but yet remains under wraps. An average success, it was a change from most of Stallone’s army guy/tough cop roles.

Cliffhanger (Released in 1993) - Action adventure on the mountains - Starring Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Specialist (Released in 1994) - Fight between 2 specialists - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods

Captain Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) and Colonel Ned Trent (James Woods) are explosive experts working for the CIA. Once partners, they worked for the CIA, but soon fell out over Trent’s lack of sensitive work ethics. In 1984, they are asked to take out a drug dealer in a heist; Ray was upset that Ned made an executive decision which resulted in the loss of life of a young child, even though it also killed a drug dealer. The Captain is of the opinion that children’s lives cannot be the collateral damage in policing. Colonel Trent and Ray come to blows over this and their partnership fall out.
After some years, Ray settles in Miami and is now working as a hit man. He is known as The Specialist as the explosives he plants do not harm innocent bystanders. His services are in great demand, yet he is extremely picky about the cases he takes. Most of the demands are made over the Internet, and one such person who contacts him is May Munro (Sharon Stone), he becomes her confidante and she discloses to him that her parents were killed by three men who work for Tomas Leon (Eric Roberts), incidentally, Trent heads security for Joe, his father. May persuades Ray to help her infiltrate Leon’s circle, he refuses and tries to talk her out of it - but she insists that she will go ahead irrespective of whether or not he helps her. May uses the alias Adrian Hastings.
The lower rung of the ladder in Leone’s organization is hit by police, which is when Trent uses his influence to get onto the bomb squad. Tomas on the other hand is attracted to May alias Adrian, who takes advantage of this new angle to their relationship to get closer to him. Ray kills two of the men May identified as her parents murderers - however, Ned gets suspicious and forces Adrian to side up with him, so that Ray’s cover is blown and he can also get even with his enemy from the past - he has sworn vengeance as the CIA asked Trent to quit.




Ray sets up a trap for Tomas, he is killed and since Adrian was with him at that time - everyone believes that she is dead, too. Joe Leon is livid, and spares Trent his life only so that he can sniff out his son’s murderer before the funeral. Ray and Ned are both under the impression that Adrian has also perished in the bomb blast - however, when he gets a message on the Internet and replies thinking its May - it turns out to be a hoax, for which Trent is responsible. A crestfallen Ray goes to attend May’s funeral, only to be pleasantly surprised that she is alive and well. Trent, also expecting this to be Adrian’s last rites, is in for a rude shock, when he sees that the body in the casket is someone else’s. Furious, Trent meets Adrian and she makes a feeble protest, lamely excusing herself - not one to be conned twice, Trent asks his sidekick to escort her out to his car - on the way out she goes to the restroom and calls Ray up to warn him.
The Captain wires the entire hotel room, and detonates it when Trent’s men enter. A persistent Ned is relieved that he can still have his revenge when the two are led into a much booby trapped building - however, he walks into one himself and is killed. The Specialist was the third highest grossing box office hit for Stallone in the ‘90s, and although audiences were disappointed with the lack of romance between two of the most desirable onscreen pairings - Stone and Stallone - yet, worldwide audiences also welcomed the new look sported by Ray aka Sly - clean and cool, not sporty or jungle maverick!

The Specialist (Released in 1994) - Fight between 2 specialists - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods

Friday, July 25, 2014

Demolition Man (Released in 1993) - A corny futuristic movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne

Experimenting with different genres to exercise his talent (maybe) - Stallone’s Demolition Man is a sci-fi thriller, released in 1993 starring him as John Spartan, an LA cop nicknamed ‘Demolition Man’, for his reckless and destructive law enforcement work style. He is pitted against Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) who is evil to the core. In 1996, Spartan is set up by Phoenix in a case implicating him for the deaths of hostages in a bus, which was taken hostage by Phoenix. Spartan leads a Special Operations Unit which is unable to rescue the people, as result they all perish and he is sentenced to sixty years approximately, in prison.
This is where the movie takes off - in 2032. In that distant future, prisons are scientifically more advanced and sound ‘cryo prisons’; prison inmates are cryogenically frozen. A terrible natural catastrophe has struck LA, as a result of which much of the city is destroyed. A new one is formed in its stead - wherein erstwhile LA and San Diego are merged to form San Angeles, the city is in the capable hands of Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne). What merges, other than the geographic territory, is also the criminal demographic, despite the fact that weapons are banned and every human desire is sanctioned by the SAPD.
Phoenix seizes the opportunity to escape during a prison hearing for parole - he is able to overpower the guards and prison warden without problems. He is the quintessential villain - physically strong with fighting prowess, multi lingual, with a superior understanding of futuristic sciences and heightened sensory skills. Given the largely pacific environment in San Angeles, the law enforcement agencies are incapable of dealing with the heightened menace of Phoenix. A veteran on the Force suggests that the ‘Demolition Man’ Spartan be resurrected to help capture Phoenix.




Unlike Phoenix, Spartan has adaptability issues and is unable to make a smooth transition from the cryo stage to part human-part machine creature. The actual face behind menacing Phoenix is actually Cocteau who aims to overpower the underground resistance called ‘Scraps’ and reign supreme over San Angeles. Spartan sees security footage of a conversation between Phoenix and Cocteau; the former is in a museum at the weapons exhibit, in a bid to arm himself. Sandra Bullock is Lenina Huxley, who is Stallone’s love interest in the film - awkward kisses are exchanged between the two as they remain in their robotic, machine state.
The culture represented in the film is truly surreal - no one dies of unnatural causes, there are no human activities that includes sex (great future there!), best aspect is that there is no poverty. There are no fast food joints, they were all ‘killed’ in the franchise wars - only Taco Bell survives (for overseas audiences, the equivalent was Pizza Hut, since it had more brand presence abroad). Every person is fitted with a microchip, which can be tracked by a central federal computer. What happens in the battle between Spartan and Phoenix, given that they cause mayhem all around during their fights ?
The film was well received by audiences, 64% audiences ruled in favor of the film, and Stallone was lauded for his performance, even Snipes gave a stellar performance as Phoenix. Rolling Stone magazine called it the ‘Frankenstein of action thrillers’ -directed by Marco Brambilla, it is his directorial debut.

Demolition Man (Released in 1993) - A corny futuristic movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Antz (Released in 1998) - An animation movie with the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman

This is a story about Z-1495 (voice of Woody Allen), an ant who displays neurotic traits in his behavior and lives in a colony in Central Park NYC. Z is a workaholic who is typically individualistic and has few friends, the two closest to him are Azteca (Jennifer Lopez) and Weaver (Sylvester Stallone). Z is surprised that he has survived in NYC, given his apprehensions regarding crowds, claustrophobia - he owes it all to the fact that he had a ‘very anxious childhood’, he lies on a leafy couch pouring his heart out to an ant shrink, cribbing that handling dirt is not his idea of a career. He feels insignificant - to which the shrink says he’s finally made a breakthrough for he has hit the nail on the head - he is indeed insignificant!
So Z goes back to join the five million socially adept formicidae, a larvae recruitment drive is on - each ant larva is equipped with either a shovel or soldier’s helmet. In the workshop, all that the little ants do is work, work and more work - they are almost indefatigable!
In the mega tunnel, as the rest of his clan toils tirelessly, Z is giving himself a pep talk about keeping a good attitude, ‘insignificant but with attitude.’ His friend Azteca tells him he’s finally getting it, because ants are all about team work, she tells him he thinks too much. He should be happy and just enjoy building them a better colony.



On the other hand, General Mandible (Gene Hackman) is hatching a sinister plan to use the ants to build a tunnel, after which the poor ants and their queen shall perish, and the colony will be inhabited by more powerful ants. However, before his dream is realized, he must send his troops to fight against an army of termites; Colonel Cutter (Christopher Walken) tells him that the mission is doomed from the start - ants cannot hold up against termites, it would be suicide! Mandible has just the plan to deal with this niggling problem - he decides to send the units loyal to the Queen, into the termite colony.
The Queen (Anne Bancroft) is surprised that things have reached this extent - after all, they’ve been friends with that colony for years! Mandible convinces her that the termites are greedy and want to expand their foraging territory. The Queen wants to deal with the problem through diplomatic channels, she suggests sending and ambassador to negotiate on their behalf - Mandible however tells the Queen that it is imperative they strike first to have an advantage. The Queen agrees grudgingly and the General praises her for her decision.
On his way out, Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) who is betrothed to General Mandible, requests that they spend some time getting to know each other before they marry. Mandible agrees quickly, although their conversation is cut short because time has run out and he has more important business to attend to. Bala complains to her mother the Queen, who says she knows that the General is high handed and overbearing, however, she thinks he loves her. She intones to her daughter that things aren’t all that bad - after all, she is a princess, and not a worker. Bala however, envies the workers for having a life!
Weaver and Z are at a bar, and the soldier is telling his friend how lucky he is because the worker girls are all around him, Z tells him that there focus is different - they’re persistent diggers! Z thinks his prospects with regard to meeting the love of his life are really bleak and this when he meets Princess Bala. Antz is based on the video game by the same name, directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson, the film received critical acclaim, opening the door to a fresh genre of animated computer films. Worth a watch for the message as well as the evolving technology!

Antz (Released in 1998) - An animation movie with the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daylight (Released in 1996) - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen

In Daylight, Sylvester Stallone plays the role of Kit Latura, a limo driver, who, in the past, was Chief of NYC Emergency Medical Services, but resigned after a bitter experience. The movie opens to a discourse between two men, one an employee of a waste management company with tons of toxic waste to eliminate, and the other an employee of the transport company illegally dumping the waste.
The lives of many commuters and people in the city is shown in a brief montage - including struggling playwright Madelyne ‘Maddy’ Thompson (Amy Brenneman), whose professional as well as personal life is at an all time low; her love life is in shambles as her lover is a married man who isn’t able to sever ties with his wife. The men transporting the waste are ordered to travel through a tunnel under the Hudson River, as the bridge is jammed up to Westchester. Elsewhere in upstate New York, Roy Nord (Viggo Mortensen) a famous ad man and model for sport related commercials for the company Territory Beyond, is discussing strategies to maximize sales.
A truck ferrying prisoners also sets out to travel in the tunnel, and to add to the list of offenders is a gang of street robbers making their getaway in a black Cadillac after robbing a man of diamonds. Kit Latura has picked up his passengers and heads for the tunnel as well. The police catch wind of the chase, and are hot on the robbers trail, when the Cadillac spins out of control and crashes into the vehicle carrying the toxic waste, which is highly inflammable - chaos ensues as car upon car crashes.




The tunnel is now a powder keg and explodes - the fire spreads through the large concrete crevasse, destroying cars and damaging the entrance of the tunnel which caves in; the tunnel administrators advise Kit (one of whom is an acquaintance) that they have to plan their moves carefully. The ventilation system is kaput and now smoke starts to fill the tunnel, disrupting visibility and breathing, the New Jersey side of the tunnel has completely collapsed.
Kit tells the rescue workers that they have to blow the tunnel shut, this is the way  based on a drill he was part of two years earlier; the only way they can control the fire and stop it from spreading is if part of the tunnel’s roof is deliberately blown up to seal the fire within. But the new Chief Dennis Wilson (Mark Rolston) of the EMS mocks Kit’s efforts to help, and would rather go mid river , where a service corridor exists.
Kit implores Frank Craft (Dan Hedaya) to tell Wilson otherwise; Frank is doubtful as he lost his brother on Kit’s watch the previous year. Meanwhile Nord comes to his senses and realizes he is trapped in the car, when he comes out, a group of people and Nord decide that the only way they can escape is if they use the service corridor mid-river. Kit tells them this isn’t  a wise decision especially as the corridor may cave in; Nord moves on regardless and is killed. Does Kit manage to save the rest of the people, or what ?
Although critics trashed the disaster thriller Rob Cohen directed 1996 film, yet, it has managed to have quite a cult following worldwide and has been an audience favourite.

Daylight (Released in 1996) - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Avenging Angelo (released in 2002) - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Madeleine Stowe, Anthony Quinn, Raoul Bova, Harry Van Gorkum

The charming Angelo Allieghieri (Anthony Quinn) and dapper aide Frankie Delano (Sylvester Stallone) are like father and son, associates in ‘watching’- Delano watches over Angelo’s daughter Jennifer Barrett (Madeleine Stowe), who is trapped in a no good marriage, her young son sent away to military school. In his warm, raspy voice Angelo explains to Frankie that he has only Jennifer in his life - this upsets Delano, who is somewhat fed up of being the invisible presence in the lives of both Angelo and Jennifer. The patriarch films his memoirs for his daughter, all the while Delano feels a little neglected in this scenario. Meanwhile, Jennifer is quite hysterical without her son, fraught with the worst thoughts as she feels lost without her only child.
One day, as Allieghieri and Delano chat over a meal, unbeknownst to the two, parked in a car few meters from where they sat - are hired assassins, waiting for them to finish their meal, and then kill the old man - as Delano steps out to sort out a parking ticket issue, in walks hit man Bruno (Billy Gardell) with a loaded gun, emptying the barrel in the old man - Frankie is also hurt in the exchange of fire, he watches helplessly as the man he loved like a father - dies like an unknown, no good derelict, in the corner of a small restaurant.




Meanwhile, Jennifer’s husband Kip (Harry Von Gorkum) is having an affair - Jennifer walks in on him and his lover, shooting randomly, under the influence of mood enhancing drugs. She throws her husband out, rearranging things to kill time. A knock at the door and there’s Frankie Delano - bleeding, asking her if he can come in. She recalls that he used to deliver groceries to Angelo, when she stayed with her parents (she was raised by adoptive parents, unaware that her real father was Angelo). She always thought that Angelo was just a nice old man. After he gets drunk to numb the pain and stitches himself up, he asks her to play a CD - which Angelo filmed for her. On screen, Angelo is telling her she isn’t who she thinks she is; that there were many big names in the mob who wanted to get him - Sammy Carboni, Lucio Malatesta - they disliked each other as well!
So Lucio gifts Sammy a golf set - one which is unique, so that the hit man can recognize who he is; incidentally, the hit man is a traitor from Angelo’s camp. Voila - Carboni hit, Angelo blamed. Two birds with one stone. This is why the blameless old guy was bumped off by Sammy’s son.  Not able to deal with the changes in her life, Jennifer isn’t going to readily accept that her father was a mafia man. Frankie still watches over her from the sidelines, even as she has a fling with an Italian writer; he has vowed to protect her at all costs. Delano’s suspicions about the man she’s having an affair with, the attempt on her life by the mafia - all draw the two closer together as they take on the crime world to salvage the world they have left.
Avenging Angelo was Anthony Quinn’s last film , he died shortly after. The critics weren’t kind to Stallone this time around either, and lashed out at the film’s jaded theme; but like always Sly was having the last laugh as audiences appreciated his cool Italian avatar - very Stallone!

Avenging Angelo (released in 2002) - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Madeleine Stowe, Anthony Quinn, Raoul Bova, Harry Van Gorkum

Friday, July 18, 2014

D-Tox (Also known as Eye See You) - Released in 2002 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Charles S. Dutton, Robert Patrick

Born to win. Born to lose. Born to die. The supposed order in which all things happen in life, no interference is needed, but it does occur. A bizarre 911 call. An electronically engineered voice tells the operator she must not interrupt to ask questions, if she does - he will be obliged to be bad. The voice is that of a serial police & prostitute killer, who has been on the rampage… On the trail of the killer is FBI Agent Jake Malloy. Sadly, his partner is on the killer’s list and succumbs to the psychopath’s evil ways. As Jake goes to his dead partner’s home and reminisces, the phone rings. It is the same serial killer, who gleefully tells Malloy that now it’s his girlfriend Mary’s turn to pay for all discomfort Jake has called the killer. The voice adds that he is aware that Malloy has been on his tail for four years, when there was an alarming spate of murders of prostitutes.
Jake is spurred into action as he rushes to save Mary - but sadly, it is too late, for the woman is dead when he arrives at her house. The Seattle Police and the FBI cordon off the area where they suspect the killer is - he is discovered - dead. Malloy is sorely disappointed to learn that the man may have committed suicide - he’d have loved to get his hands on him. A few months later, Malloy slips into depression - sick to death of the losses he has suffered. He takes to drinking, and attempts to kill himself, albeit unsuccessfully. His friend Agent Chuck Hendricks (Charles S. Dutton) takes it upon himself to help Jake, and enrolls the Agent in rehab, specially set up for law enforcement personnel. It was founded by Dr. John Mitchell (Kris Kristofferson), who was also a cop and a recovering alcoholic. The centre is in Wyoming, and Hendricks stays on to see that Malloy will be okay on his own at rehab.




At the facility, Jake is introduced to many recovering cops and officers.  The staff include assistant to Jon Mitchell - Hank and kind hearted resident psychiatrist Jenny Munroe - with whom Malloy forms a bond. One day, the centre is cut off from the rest of civilization as a terrible blizzard shuts it down. There is a sudden, unexplained spate of unnatural deaths being made up to be suicides - patients Connor and Brandon are found dead by Jenny and Malloy. Both of them believe that trouble is afoot, as the dead men would’ve confided about being troubled, to either of the two.
Mitchell is equally flummoxed, and decides to lock up the other patients, as he reviews their cases. Just then he is informed that Jack Bennett (Stephen Lang) a mentally unstable employee, is missing - and so is a snowmobile. Bennett was once admitted to the centre for rehab. Malloy warns Jenny and counsels her to remain locked in her room; although all the inmates believe Jack could be the killer, yet Jake and Munroe think otherwise.
Jake thinks it would be wise to arm the men with weapons - just then, Hendricks finds a cop’s body in a lake. Who is the killer, and can Malloy stop him / her ? D-Tox was an out and out bore, the latter part of the twentieth century wasn’t kind to slasher thrillers and violence ridden tripe; the movie is tiresome and gruesome. Stallone shoudn’t have just let himself go in a desperate bid to prove his range to the world. The movie was an incredible flop.

D-Tox (Also known as Eye See You) - Released in 2002 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Charles S. Dutton, Robert Patrick