RoboCop 2 (1990)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The original RoboCop is one of my all time favorite films. RoboCop 3 and the TV series are total crap. RoboCop 2 however is a pretty damn entertaining movie actually. It has all the important cast that survived the first film, the OG Red Dragon from Manhunter (Tom Noonan), and was directed by… Irvin Kershner. Who? Well he was the director of a little film called The Empire Strikes Back. Yep, he was obviously somewhat co-directed by George Lucas, but still, facts are facts. He also did the flawed but entertaining final Sean Connery James Bond flick Never Say Never Again (which was weirdly released the same year as Roger Moore’s Bond in Octopussy). One major bonus here is that FX master Phil Tippett was allowed almost total creative freedom, even to the extent where he directed the visual effects heavy scenes himself. So if you’ve never seen this, or it’s been a while, you’re in for a treat.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory.

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The Raid 2 (2014)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

The Raid: Redemption (2011) is a very good film. If you’re a hardcore action / martial arts fan you know that already. However, for the rest of you, I say skip it and watch this superior sequel. The Raid 2 has got a convoluted plot, but you’ll too be too distracted by the non-stop ass kicking to care. This is probably the pinnacle of crazy post-Ong-Bak action films. If you enjoy this, make sure to check out creator Gareth Evans’ excellent TV series Gangs of London.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony.

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Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Streaming on Hulu (and Plex) | imdb | trailer

The headline read “Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change.” That, and the fact that all exploitation elements are cranked to 11, sums up this movie. I’ve been a Rutger Hauer fan since seeing Blade Runner is a kid. I think I’ve seen the majority of his films, and I have even read his autobiography. For many years I complained about the injustice of Hauer not getting a good lead role. Well in 2011 the stars aligned – Hobo with a Shotgun was announced. I was avidly following the pre-release promotion of the movie, and was not disappointed when I finally got to see the finished product. I think the low rating on imdb is because of the overall purposeful cheese factor, and the fact everything offensive is thrown in to the mix. Fuck ‘em if they don’t like this film. Yeah it ain’t Ingmar Bergman, but I give it a perfect score. RIP Mr. Hauer.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnet.

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I Saw the Devil (2010)

Streaming on Hulu and Kanopy | imdb | trailer

This is a very good South Korean horror / crime thriller from the director of the excellent A Bittersweet Life. Many folks love his film The Good the Bad the Weird too. The bad guy is the original Oldboy himself Choi Min-shik. Do I really need to say more? Nah.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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Athena (2022)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a solid action / drama with beautiful camera work and an artsy, almost documentary feel. Centered around a low-income housing block, it’s cops vs activists vs gangs vs well-meaning Muslims. They’re all interconnected and it’s a crazy spectacle from start to finish. There has been criticism that Athena is all style and little substance, and it does have a few flaws. However I was thoroughly entertained and thought that the various plot lines were worked out by the end of the film. Yeah, the director could have made a powerful social critique, but he just ended up making a damn good, fast-paced, great looking film.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Black Dynamite (2009) 

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Here we have the second-best Black Action Hero parody next to I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (and it’s an extremely close second). This was my favorite comedy to come out in 2009, and just as funny on a recent second viewing. Star Michael Jai White is best known for action films, but really shows his comedy and acting talent here (he even co-wrote the screenplay). I just wish he’d get offered better roles. Black Dynamite was spun off into an animated series that I personally couldn’t get into, but give it a try if you like the film.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Clan of the the White Lotus (1980)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Aka Fists of the the White Lotus. “Deadly Needle Kung Fu Against the Invincible Armor of The White Lotus!” Right out of the gate this Shaw Brothers flick will grab you (with it’s crotch). White Lotus features crazy-complex fight choreography, and a good sense of humor too (not in that goofy Jackie Chan / Sammo Hung way either). If you’re not sold before the opening credits are done, then hit stop and go watch a superhero movie. I gave this film a 9 out of 10 rating on imdb.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The first installment of a two part series on the career of criminal Jaques Mesrine (the second is Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One). This is the French answer to Scarface (1983), but based on true events, and much larger in scope. Other than the usual fake looking gun action, this movie is a total blast. Vincent Cassel is perfect, as usual. If you’d like to see him do something more fun / dumb I recommend you also check out his film Dobermann (looks like it’s available on YouTube if you sign in).

Available on Blu-ray from Music Box.

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The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a solid, history-based war movie. I had never heard of this battle, so this was all news to me. The film features good performances, a fast-pace, and it gets pretty graphic here and there too. This is the first time I realized that Jamie Dornan was a skilled actor. I despised anything to do with Fifty Shades of Grey, but he is truly talented in spite of being involved in a garbage franchise. I recommend checking out Anthopoid and My Dinner With Herve as well. The Siege of Jadotville is not going to move you like say, The Thin Red Line, but if you want some entertaining battle action, it’s a good pick.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Riders of Justice (2020)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a surprisingly good, big-budget, action comedy from Denmark. I actually laughed out loud a few times, AND things got pretty gory on occasion. The violence is more extreme than I would have expected from a Scandinavian blockbuster. I love Mads Mikkelsen, but he’s not always in good films. Luckily this turned out to be a perfect choice for him, and a very entertaining movie too.

Blu-ray available on Magnolia.

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