Friday, 16 September 2011

Chuck Norris Poster Gallery

THE WAY OF THE DRAGON aka RETURN OF THE DRAGON (Bruce Lee, 1972) #1 US poster (dubbed version)

THE WAY OF THE DRAGON #2 - Hong Kong Poster

THE WAY OF THE DRAGON #3 - Japanese poster


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Missing in Action (1984)

Country: USA

The mindless Chuck Norris action flick Missing in Action slots seamlessly into a strain of cinema in 1980’s America that sought to revise attitudes to the Vietnam War. The screenplay by James Bruner is typically jingoistic with an anti-communist backbone that would have done President Reagan proud. The question of illegally held American soldiers in Vietnam, and the ensuing minefield of diplomatic red tape, had been explored to some effect in Uncommon Valor (1983). But where Uncommon Valor sought to develop character, motivation, and emotional pathos, only concluding with a protracted action sequence, the Norris vehicle naturally opts for all out action from the get go. The embittered odyssey of Norris’ Colonel James Braddock did at least hit cinemas before the hulking idiocy of Stallone’s copycat Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), and though I could gladly live without both films, if I was pressed I would much rather take Missing in Action to my desert island.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Country: USA

The Chuck Norris action vehicle Lone Wolf McQuade immediately signifies its intent with an opening credit sequence that highlights the sub-Morricone music of Francesco De Masi. We are firmly in the territory of the modern day spaghetti western pastiche. In the early moments the film seems at pains to emphasise its status as a contemporary western. We have a group of modern day Mexican bandits horse rustling, we have plentiful shots of the wide open expanse of the dusty Texan landscape, and repeated close ups of Norris’ eyes and grim expression. If this isn’t enough we also get a musical fanfare when Norris reveals the badge on his chest that signifies he is a Texas Ranger. This action sequence is entirely constructed around the need to establish the tough guy credentials of J. J. McQuade. One would have thought the casting of Norris was enough, but the film is determined to avoid the cinematic shorthand his iconic presence signifies. In one fell swoop the opening action set piece establishes McQuade’s exceptional marksmanship, incredible martial arts skills, his status as a rebellious loner, and the incompetence of his fellow rangers. With every facet of McQuade’s character established in under eight minutes of screen time, director Steve Carver can get on with the job of stringing together an absurd, but oddly enjoyable narrative.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Visitor Q (2001)

Country: JAPAN

Bijita Q
Love Cinema Volume 6

When prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike was invited to contribute to the Love Cinema series, few could have predicted the outcome would be the highly controversial Visitor Q. Love Cinema was a series of six direct to rental films from independent filmmakers which were all shot on digital video for ultra low budgets. Of the six films, five vanished without trace into the abyss of celluloid history, but the sheer outrageousness of Visitor Q, and the increasing cult reputation of its director, ensured a limited theatrical run beyond the confines of the series for which it was intended. Miike was no stranger to controversy at this point in time. His cinema was marked by excessive violence, bizarre sexual perversity, and a refreshingly rebellious attitude toward past traditions. Miike embodied a punk ethic, and a particular gift for offensive grotesquery, the like of which had rarely been distributed in the west. In many ways Visitor Q is Miike’s ultimate work of transgression. A vile cocktail featuring one abhorrent event after another. The challenge to social taboo is nothing new, even if Miike piles it on with typical exaggerated relish. The problem with Visitor Q however lies in the fact that for much of its brief running time it is uproariously funny.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)


Five Million Years to Earth

Quatermass and the Pit was writer Nigel Kneale’s third adventure featuring the eminent scientist and was transmitted on the BBC over six weeks between December 1958 and January 1959. On this occasion André Morell followed in the small screen footsteps of Reginald Tate and John Robinson. It would be a wait of eight years before Hammer got around too adapting it for the big screen, and by that time the resourceful production company had the means to realise the scope and ambition of Kneale’s original conception. Perhaps with this in mind Kneale was drafted in to provide a screenplay. Kneale had previously provided screenplays for Quatermass 2 (1957), The Abominable Snowman (1957) and The Witches (1966), Quatermass and the Pit was to be his fourth and final collaboration with Hammer. The close proximity of Kneale to the film project could only be of benefit, and the writer finally got his wish in seeing someone other than Brian Donlevy take the lead role. The role went to Hammer regular Andrew Keir, even though director Roy Ward Baker wanted Kenneth Moore. After memorable supporting turns in The Pirates of Blood River (1962), The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and The Viking Queen (1967) the Scotsman was finally given top billing. Keir takes full advantage of his big opportunity and provides one of the finest interpretations of the role.

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