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Nov 072012
 

Death Race 2000 isn’t just another movie about auto racing. In a corrupted future, the most popular sporting event is the Annual Transcontinental Death Race, which is featured as a form of gladiator style entertainment.

There are only five racers competing, each with a navigator. They are Calamity Jane Kelly (Mary Woronov), Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins), Nero the Hero (Martin Kove), Machinegun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), and Frankenstein (David Carradine).

Now Frankenstein is the most celebrated racer. He has had quite a few body parts replaced with prosthetics because of accidents he had from previous races. That must be how Frankenstein got his name.

I met Mary Woronov at Spooky Empire 2012.

There’s plenty of tension among the racers. The most common is between Joe and Frankenstein. Joe is sick of being second best, especially when it comes to how many more fans Frankenstein has. However, Frankenstein only cares about winning and hardly shows any emotion.

What truly makes this race across the country so gladiatorial is that the racers score points by purposely running over innocent pedestrians. Each kill is ranked by the victims’ age. Can you believe the highest points are for toddlers and senior citizens? Now that’s just brutal.

Meanwhile, a Resistance group led by Thomasina Paine (Herriet Medin) tries to do what they can to sabotage the race in order to stop the killings and restore humanity. You’d think others would freely join in, but so many people are all for the death race. There are even fans that would gladly sacrifice themselves to show their devotion. Talk about hard core fans.

The commentator of the race is the highly enthusiastic Junior Bruce (Dan Steele), and Grace Pander (Joyce Jameson) is the on the spot reporter, who often addresses her interviewees as dear friends of hers. I’m not so sure if that’s true, or if Grace just says that as part of her smug on camera persona. This was an interesting film. There were some amazing car stunts, but most of the action was focused on the pedestrian kills. It’s definitely not something I would expect from an auto-racing movie.

Jul 232010
 

Welcome back. Kill Bill – Volume Two begins right where the first one left off. The Bride (Uma Thurman) is back and on her way to hunt down Bill’s (David Carradine) brother Budd (Michael Madsen), who is number 3 on her “Death List Five” as part of her quest for revenge. We didn’t get to see much of Budd earlier, but we do now.

Bill warns Budd about the Bride coming for him, but Budd isn’t worried at all. He even sold his samurai sword at a pawnshop. “You pawned a Hattori Hanzo sword?” Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it. If the Bride had overheard this conversation, she’d think that Budd would be an easy target to take out.

Budd works as a bouncer in a bar. Though he’s always late, he thinks it shouldn’t matter because no customers ever arrive that early in the day, which is understandable. Budd’s boss is hilarious when he gets mad at Budd for it. Was that Sid Haig as the bartender?

Later that evening, the Bride arrives at Budd’s trailer for a sneak attack. Unfortunately, Budd takes her down with one shot of rock salt to the gut. Not so easy after all, was he. I guess that proves that the gun is mightier than the sword, even a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword.

Then Budd buries the Bride alive. That wasn’t much of a battle. As the Bride works her way out of this peril, we go into another big flashback. Bill sends the Bride to train under Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), who is a very strict instructor. The training was brutal and hard to watch, but now we know where the Bride learned some of those extraordinary skills, which includes the instant eye gouging. Soon the Bride escapes by the skin of her teeth (or should I say hand), and heads for Budd’s place again.

Meanwhile, Elle (Darryl Hannah) is already there and she doublecrosses Budd by killing him with a black mamba snake and makes Budd suffer by reading info about that snake aloud to him. Some killers have no mercy.

After that, the Bride arrives and fights with Elle. How convenient, since she was number 4 on the “Death List Five”. This battle also gets interesting as new secrets are revealed. The Bride’s name is finally revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo and the story behind Elle’s eye patch is not a pretty one. The catfight ends with Elle losing her other eye. I can still remember how everyone in the theater reacted when Beatrix stepped on that eye and crushed it. Ewe! Elle is defeated, but is she really dead like the other three?

Beatrix may have lost her list earlier, but she doesn’t need it anymore because there’s only one target left, Bill. She soon finds Bill along with another little surprise, and a very likable one at that. This final confrontation drags a little bit, but I liked Bill’s philosophy on Superman compared to other superheroes.

Overall, this two-volume movie was very creative. Action, humor, strong gorgeous women, it’s got it all, which makes this film a masterpiece.

Jul 212010
 

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed Kill Bill. This amazing two-volume adventure story was inspired by old martial arts movies. Uma Thurman stars as a former assassin simply named the Bride. Oddly, whenever anyone mentions her real name, it’s bleeped. That makes no sense.

As the story goes in Kill Bill – Volume One, the Bride was about to be married. Then suddenly four other assassins crash it and shoot everyone. The Bride wakes up from a coma four years later and hunts them all down one by one before heading for her former boss and lover, Bill (David Carradine).

This film is featured in chapters, but many of the basic points of the story line are out of order. For instance, at the beginning, the Bride seeks out Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and defeats her. After that, the Bride marks Vernita off of her “Death List Five” for she was number 2. Then the rest of the movie goes into a flashback.

Number 1 on the list was O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), but the Bride has to wake up first. Little did she know that Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah), who is number 4 on the list, tried to kill the Bride by herself, but Bill stopped her just in time. It was hilarious how Elle reacted angrily. You’ve also got to admit that Elle looks hot in that nurse outfit. Oh, yeah.

It takes awhile, but after a very violent animated sequence (I think it’s Anime), the Bride was able to recover. Now it’s off to Japan to find O-Ren. However, she’s not so easy to get to because she is a top underworld boss in Tokyo, but was the easiest on the list to find because of her reputation as a top underworld boss in Tokyo.

Soon the Bride arrives at O-Ren’s place. It seems peaceful at first because the joint is jumping as an all-girl band called the 5,6,7,8s is performing. Those lovely ladies can rock and their skimpy outfits are hot too.

Then it becomes exciting as the Bride fights her way through O-Ren’s army called the Crazy 88. However, the battle is brutal because the Bride’s new samurai sword, made by Bill’s old sensei Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba), easily chops off many body parts. In a way, I can see this like a video game. After a group of enemies there’s a mini boss, who is O-Ren’s personal bodyguard, Gogo Yaburi (Chiaki Kuriyama). She’s very pretty, but deadly with that spiked ball and chain.

After Gogo is defeated by a board with a nail in it, more enemies come along. As exciting as this was, this battle is turning into a major gorefest. Yuck! Then it all comes down to the final confrontation between the Bride and O-Ren. It was a good sword battle, but I was expecting more of a catfight.

The first volume stops here as the Bride goes to look for number 3 on the “Death List Five”, Bill’s brother Budd (Michael Madsen). And just when this film was getting good, but not to worry. Check my blog for part 2 when I’ll be talking about volume 2.