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Blog June 2012

FROM Roel Reine:

Great to be back in LA, after being away on location in Romania shooting DEAD IN TOMBSTONE.

D13 9607

Working on post-production for 2 movies and developing my slate of new projects. 

DEATH RACE: INFERNO: we are now doing ADR with the actors, Music composing with Trevor Morris, Mixing with Sonic Magic, 500 Visual Effects shots with Terminal FX and working on the marketing. Very cool trailer has been finished by the marketing department of Universal Studios and the trailer will be first shown to public on the BATTLESHIP Blu-Ray and DVD.

DEAD IN TOMBSTONE: I'm editing the directors cut with Radu Ion, figuring out the score for this movie, started designing the visual effects for it with Terminal FX and just finished the trailer. This is going to be a very cool and stylish film.

Development on my slate of movies with some very talented writers. Working with the studios but also some independent producers. One of these projects will be the next movie I want to put into production end of August.


Michiel de Ruyter - Movie

EFM 2012 PRESENTATION

Posted on 2012-02-07

Producer Klaas de Jong and director Roel Reine will present MICHIEL DERUYTER to International co-productions partners, distributors and press at the European Film Market in Berlin 2012.

MICHIEL DE RUYTER FLYER

NAVAL HERO MICHIEL DE RUYTER FINALLY ON SCREEN!

Producer Klaas de Jong and director Roel Reine will revive naval hero Michiel de Ruyter in a heroic epic film.
The Dutch Reine has lived and worked succesfully in the US since 2005 and now returns to make his first Dutch movie in ten years. 
The screenplay is written by Alex van Galen & Lars Boom.
The shooting will start in 2014 in the Netherlands and the UK.

“Wars are fought by many, history is made by few….”

PLOTSCONSPIRACY AND SPECTACULAR NAVAL BATTLES AGAINST THE

ENGLISH WITH MICHIEL DE RUYTER AS COMMANDER OF THE DUTCHFLEET

AND THE CONTROVERSIAL ROLE OF THE ORANGISTS

The story:
A naval hero is sent on a deadly mission when he becomes more powerful than the ruling House of Orange…
2012. In the dead of night, British historian Bentinck opens the grave of William 
III of Orange in London’s Westminster Abbey.
He discovers a diary containing a letter.
1677. A sad William 
III of Orange attends the funeral of Michiel de Ruyter with his comrades. It’s the biggest state funeral ever in Dutch history. William III was a great admirer of Michiel de Ruyter, honoring him with a monumental tomb in a church on Amsterdam’s central Dam square. During the funeral, second in command Cornelis Tromp – the very jealous and spoiled son of legendary Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp – reacts furiously when he learns that, once again, he will not be the next Supreme Commander of the fleet.
Twelve years before: Holland is the first republic in Europe. The royalist Orangists seek to get the young, unfit and alleged homosexual William 
III(‘King Billy’) on the throne, bringing the country on the verge of civil war. Michiel de Ruyter is a stubborn Republican who married middle class widow Anna rather than marrying within his class. Promoted to the rank of Commander of the Dutch fleet by the
Republicans, he has to save the country from English threats during the 1st Anglo-Dutch war.
Michiel de Ruyter defeats the English in two naval battles in a spectacular and innovative way. At home, his wife Anna provides key support, always outwitting Cornelis Tromp’s malicious wife. Meanwhile, behind the Republicans’ back and led by Cornelis Tromp, the Orangists are trying to strike a deal with the English King Charles II, William III’s uncle. The envious, hot-tempered Cornelis Tromp, exerts himself to take de Ruyter’s position and even hires an assassin. The attempted murder fails. The Republicans, led by Johan de Witt, realize they have to take action against the Orangists to strengthen their political position. They come up with a daring plan: Michiel de Ruyter is to sail up the Thames, and attack and burn England’s fleet by surprise,
right on their home territory. The plan is a success. England’s main naval ships are burnt, turning Michiel de Ruyter into the biggest living hero in Dutch history. England promptly signs a peace treaty with the Dutch Republic.
Meanwhile, the Orangists are not sitting still. In the ‘disaster year’ of 1672, when the English unexpectedly break the peace treaty and attack the Netherlands in alliance with France, the Bishopric of Munster and the Archbishopric of Cologne, the Orangists put the blame on the Republicans. They stir up the people, who lynch a number of Republicans and friends of de Ruyter, including the De Witts brothers. The house of Orange is back in power. 
Much to Cornelis Tromp’s dismay, William 
III greatly admires de Ruyter and re-appoints him as Chief Commander of the Dutch fleet with Tromp as second in command. With this decision, William hopes to save the nation and to gain support of the Dutch people. However, Michiel de Ruyter is seen as a key representative of the Republicans. Relatives of William III in England and other European countries reproach him of not being in control of the situation. The European monarchy is at risk. William III then offers de Ruyter honourable discharge on one condition: de Ruyter has to perform one last mission and free a number of clergymen and slaves in the Mediterranean Sea. 
De Ruyter feels that it will be his last voyage, but he is loyal to his country. At his destination, England’s new allies, the French  eet, attacks his ship by surprise. De Ruyter is fatally injured and dies on April 26, 1676. When his ship sets sail back to Holland, carrying its embalmed Admiral on a bier, the French, English and Spanish vessels o er a spectacular salute wishing it a safe journey back home.
The House of Orange manages to secure its positions in the Netherlands and in England, by deviously and indirectly murdering the country’s largest naval hero ever. William 
III is crowned King of England, where he dies in 1702. His loyal friend Bentinck, Earl of Portland, places Willliam’s diary and the apology letter he never sent to de Ruyter’s widow, Anna, in his coffin. William III takes his secret
with him to the grave. 
2012. Westminster Abbey. British historian Bentinck puts the letter back into the coffin and closes William’s grave once and for all.

Dead in Tombstone

Anthony Michael Hall, Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke Set For ‘Dead In Tombstone’

By MIKE FLEMING | Thursday March 15, 2012 @ 11:38am EDT

COMMENTS (3)

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Michael Hall, Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke will star in Dead in Tombstone, the Roel Reine-directed action adventure film that begins filming next week. Mike Elliott and Glenn Ross are producing through Universal 1440 Productions, and Shane Kuhn and Brendan Cowles wrote the script. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will distribute.

Trejo plays Guerrero Hernandez, leader of the Blackwater Gang of outlaws. But after freeing his half-brother, Red (Hall), from prison, Guerrero’s plan to loot the mining town of Edendale backfires spectacularly, when he is double crossed by his half-sibling. After making a deal with the Devil (Rourke), Guerrero comes back from the dead a year later to seek his revenge. The town, which has presciently been renamed Tombstone will soon have its dusty streets running knee-deep in a river of blood.


by: Alejandro Stepenberg - March 3, 2012:

So this is an unexpectedly cool way to begin my morning - Anthony Michael Hall, Danny Trejo, and Mickey Rourke have all signed on to star in DEAD IN TOMBSTONE, an action-adventure flick which starts filming next week.  Written by Shane Kuhn and Brendan Cowles and to be directed by Roel Reine (DEATH RACE 2), the plot synopsis runs something like this:

"Trejo plays Guerrero Hernandez, leader of the Blackwater Gang of outlaws. But after freeing his half-brother, Red (Hall), from prison, Guerrero’s plan to loot the mining town of Edendale backfires spectacularly when he is double crossed by Red. After making a deal with the Devil (Rourke), Guerrero comes back from the dead a year later to seek his revenge. The town, which has presciently been renamed Tombstone will soon have its dusty streets running knee-deep in a river of blood."

Anyone else agree that DEAD IN TOMBSTONE sounds f***ing awesome


Death Race 2 Reviews

DEATH RACE 2 - REVIEWS

“Death Race 2 Director Roel Reine Raises the Straight-to-DVD Bar” –Tony Trupiano, Movieretriever

“Death Race 2 beats its original hands down because Roel Reiné is a better director than Paul W.S. Anderson, who stickhandled the 2008 Jason Statham original.” --ANDREW DOWLER, Now Magazine

“By far the finest Death Race yet and one of the best prequels HANDS DOWN” -J.A. OTTLEY, Movieweb

“…it is director [Roel] Reine's impressive ability to make his assuredly smaller budgeted production look and sound as vulgar as the first film that will draw people in…” –Peter Hall, The Moviefone Blog

“The most impressive aspects to director Roel Reine's film are the stunt work and crisp cinematography, giving fans of the first film another round of brutal races and beatings, only this time the picture appears to embrace its feral nature with a little more spunk.” -Brian Orndorf, DVD Talk

“The "A" list cast, a visionary director and the right balance of story and action held my attention and were suspenseful enough to keep your blood pumping.” –Tony Trupiano, Movieretriever.com

“Reiné has an eye for unusual shots and a fondness for slow motion and 360-degree pans. He uses them to build impact into thrill scenes and emotional moments.” --ANDREW DOWLER, Now Magazine

'Death Race 2' is precisely what you want it to be: over-the-top action, violence and vehicular mayhem.” –Peter Hall, The Moviefone Blog

“…throw away your preconceived notions about movies that go straight to DVD because this is one that was worthy of theatrical release…….. Director Reine clearly has a passion for the arts and his insistence on being a player in the movie may not be evident to the audience but it is to not only the look of the film, but the cast as well………. Death Race 2 shines brighter than I ever though it could and I for one won't be surprised any longer if we start seeing more "A" list actors making straight-to-DVD movies.” –Tony Trupiano, Movieretriever

 “Definately worth a rent or even a buy, and kiss that 2008 remake goodbye :)” -J.A. OTTLEY, Movieweb


DVD Review: Death Race 2

Posted by Turk182 in DVD Reviews


Roel Reine's Death Race 2 is the straight-to-DVD prequel of the 2008 movie Death Race. But if you're thinking a straight to home movie can't do the original justice, think again. From the opening scene to the last second of footage, Director Reine made sure to stay true to two obvious ideas: people loved the first film so he had better capture that feeling and that story matters, as Death Race 2 has both amazing action and a pleasantly unexpected story line that you actually care about.

Set in the near future, prison systems are now run by for-profit corporations and as such one of the prisons becomes center stage for the television show Death Match which pits two prisoners against each other in a duel to the death event that is on live television. The producer of Death Match, September Jones (Lauren Cohan), a too sexy and very horny, aggressive women is starting to lose the coveted audience the network boss Weyland (Ving Rhames) must have to be profitable and therefore threatens her job if she can't get the ratings up. Her response is to create Death Race for national audiences.

The movie begins with what proves to be a pivotal couple of scenes that introduce us to two of the key players in the film: Carl Lucas (Luke Goss), a professional hit man, bank robber and bad man, and his "mafia" boss Markus Kane (Sean Bean). After a botched bank robbery, which is filled with exquisite special effects and enough action to satisfy any audience, there is a moment in that madness that is captured in perfect slow motion that is very telling about Carl Lucas and as the action around him is chaotic; his response is worth the price you pay for this film alone.

After being caught in an immaculately staged police chase, Lucas is thrown into the jail that is the home of Death Match and as an added surprise he quickly discovers that his former boss, Markus Kane, has put out a hit on him for $1 million as insurance that he will never talk to the authorities.

The story in Death Race 2 actually matters and as a prequel it should. Prequel's are supposed to answer questions, and Death Race 2 doesn't disappoint, but what is does better than Death Race is give us characters we care about and for this reviewer it made the intensity of the action that much richer. Death Race 2 moves quickly but not so fast or makes a jump too quickly that we get lost in the story or the action and the transition from Death Match to Death Race surprisingly made complete sense. The promise of the winner of Death Race is known from the original, but the thought of gaining freedom after winning three races using weapons of mass destruction has its appeal to the action/adventure genre, and this one serves it up with the best of them.

You'd hardly know the budget for this film was only one-tenth of the original and great care was taken to respect the integrity of the first movie. Characters Lists (Fred Kohler) and 14K (Robin Shou) tug us back just far enough to the original move where we still get the flavor of Death Race with the added thrills of its origin story. Critical to the success of Death Race 2 was the studio's ability to find the cars from Death Race, having to only reproduce the Dodge Ram while the others were kept pristine by collectors who allowed them to be used in this film.

The "A" list cast, a visionary director and the right balance of story and action held my attention and were suspenseful enough to keep your blood pumping. With the exception of Lauren Cohan's performance, the cast met the demands of the script and the acting of Danny Trejo, Luke Goss, and Fred Kohler are worthy performances and should be noted as such. Not wanting to give away too much, the birth of the character Frankenstein is both gruesome and beautifully captured by director Reine.

So throw away your preconceived notions about movies that go straight to DVD because this is one that was worthy of theatrical release. In the best tradition of Mad Max, Death Race 2 shines brighter than I ever though it could and I for one won't be surprised any longer if we start seeing more "A" list actors making straight-to-DVD movies.

Rating: THREE AND A HALF BONES

Reviewed by Tony Trupiano


Release Date: January 18th, 2011, Straight to DVD
Rating: Unrated

Starring: Luke Goss, Fred Koehler, Tanit Phoenix, Robin Shou, Lauren Cohan, Patrick Lyster, Deobia Oparei, Hennie Bosman, Joe Vaz, Danny Keogh, Sean Higgs, Warrick Grier, Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, and Sean Bean
Director: Roel Reine
Writers: Paul W.S. Anderson and Toby Giglio




January 21, 2011

Death Race 2 Director Roel Reine Raises the Straight-to-DVD Bar

Posted by Turk182 in Interviews


Director Roel Reine is not a household name, as very few movie directors are, but that doesn't mean his name is not in your home. Reine has mastered the art, and it is an art, of making movies that are produced to go directly to DVD for distribution.

Reine's film credits include The Marine 2, The Lost Tribe, and the recently released Death Race 2, and what is remarkable about this latest project, Death Race 2, a prequel to the 2008 film Death Race, is that he assembled an incredible cast of "A" list actors including Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Con Air), Danny Trejo (Grindhouse, From Dusk to Dawn), and Sean Bean (Golden Eye). What I find remarkable about that is most would think that a movie that will never see a theatrical release would not be of interest to an "A" list actor but as technology advances it is clear that the stigma of straight-to-DVD movies may just have transcended any negativity they may have had.

Movie budgets that run into the many millions of dollars are not part of the conversation when it comes to the DVD market and the constraints of making a high energy, action packed, special effects laden film might scare many directors away, but for Roel Reine it was actually one of the things that attracted him to this project. Reine shared that, "I saw the challenge of making a move with one tenth of the budget of the original but I also have relationships with industry professionals that are still hungry, very creative people that enjoy making magic happen even while understanding how little money we have to work with."

Money aside, I asked Reine what attracted him to this project, understanding that the ultimate comparisons would be made to the original Death Race, which has become sort of a cult classic. In fairness, Death Race 2 is actually a prequel to Death Race making it somewhat easier as far as audience expectations go but Reine also held the philosophy that in order to respect the original material he had to be sure his cast and his vision were pristine. Furthermore, it was the script that untimely made the decision to direct Death Race 2 an easy one.



"Death Race 2 tells a larger, more important story than the original film and the drama and character development was critical to ensure the audience connected with the cast. I created and fought for some of the scenes that made the film deeper because the true story that is told is as important this time as the action, which I am quite proud of" said Reine. So, you ask, why is the story so important? According to Reine, "Death Race 2 answers many of the questions that Death Race presented and investing in the story line and making sure we delivered those answers mattered to me. The emotional aspect of these characters and that you feel you know them and how they are feeling helps make the story richer. It connects you to the film."

Beyond the cast there is a component of this film that was mandatory: the cars. Reine was successfully able to find all but one of the vehicles and was able to buy them back from the collectors who had purchased them, with the exception of the Dodge Ram which they had to rebuild, and make no mistake; the cars are still a major player in Death Race 2.



Death Race 2 (see review) may surprise some with its story development and the astounding amount of work that was accomplished for so little money. Director Reine clearly has a passion for the arts and his insistence on being a player in the movie may not be evident to the audience but it is to not only the look of the film, but the cast as well.

Reine also serves as a cameraman on all his films as he also serves as the Director of Photography, not a simple task. Reine also prides himself on working quickly and with organized purpose, which the cast appreciated as well. In fact Reine shared that Sean Bean commented how amazing it was to work with a director who knew his vision and was able to relay it to the cast and shoot it as profoundly as he did. A compliment indeed.

Reine is now in post production on a remake of The Scorpion King and has a few other projects in the hopper, but let me say that Roel Reine takes his work very seriously, and if Death Race 2 is any indication of what we can start to expect from straight-to-DVD movies, we are in for a real treat.

The Blu-ray edition of this Universal Studies movie also includes a digital copy that can be transferred to any mobile device you may own and the way this film was shot, acted, edited and directed you are in for quite a visual ride.

By Tony Trupiano


DVD REVIEW - NOW MOVIES ‘TORONTO’

Death Race 2

BY ANDREW DOWLER

The rule of thumb is that low-budget, direct-to-video sequels are crap. Not this time. Death Race 2 beats its original hands down because Roel Reiné is a better direc tor than Paul W.S. Anderson, who stickhandled the 2008 Jason Statham original.

Reiné has an eye for unusual shots and a fondness for slow motion and 360-degree pans. He uses them to build impact into thrill scenes and emotional moments.

The story is a prequel. The wheelman (Luke Goss) in a bank job gone wrong gets life on Terminal Island, where a vicious TV exec (Lauren Cohan) is winning big ratings by forcing the cons into death fights for the cameras. When the numbers sink, she amps up the action, and Death Race is born. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s fun.

Robin Shou and Frederick Koehler are back from the previous effort, joined by Sean Bean, Ving Rhames and the always wonderful but here underused Danny Trejo. Double-bill this with his trash masterpiece, Machete.

Reiné provides an enthusiastic commentary filled with how-to tips on low-budget filmmaking.

EXTRAS Director commentary, development doc, stunt doc, cars doc. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.

http://www.nowtoronto.com/movies/dvdreviews.cfm?content=178755



DEATH RACE 2 : Review By J_A_OTTLEY

Jan 1st, 2011 by J_A_OTTLEY


"By far the finest Death Race yet and one of the best prequels HANDS DOWN"


Ok, first all people ITS 2011, HAPPY NEW YEAR and I got some EXCLUSIVES reviews to dazzle your eyes, but alas before I finished my Millenium Trilogy reviews, I'd thought I'd treat you gorgeous, handsome MOVIE-WEBBERS to a over dosage of SEAN BEAN with the following review and BLACK DEATH.


ENJOY!!!! :)


Right, so where do we start with this, well if you watched the 2 previous installments to this cult hit, well the original is a cult hit, the 2008 remake, not so much, but your in for a treat as this direct to DVD delivers what is the finest and best DEATH RACE so far.


The film begins with Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) whose a getaway driver for big shot and menacing crime lord, Markus Kane (Sean Bean). Carl is stands as Markus best driver and is called in for a bank heist, which goes terribly wrong and ends with quite a phenomenal car chase and the imprisonment of Carl to Terminal Island as he chooses loyalty to Kane over any form of deal the D.A is willing to offer. Kane who stands worried that despite he loves Carl like a brother, feels that he won't stand loyal for too long and a hit is order while Carl stands in the prison that streams DEATH MATCH LIVE. In which the actions that Carl does, creates a pretty damn amazing origin story for the most memorable character of the series.


The acting is top form for a direct to DVD flick and it delivers complete flames to its predecessors visions, which is shocking because these kind of films don't perform that, but I guess there is a rare case of it. 


Luke Goss delivers his best performance on par, with his roles in Hellboy 2 & Blade 2. He truly creates a memorable origin story and becomes a character that burst out of the screen, his logical and loyal, despite the odds he faces. 


Sean Bean is menacing and brutalic as Markus Kane and his screen presence and performance is as memorable as Alec Trevelyn. His character has flair with a cold-heart, he'll show no mercy about blasting a bullet in any ones head that fails him or gets in his way. He'll also go to extreme lengths to ensure his own safety. I actually want to see him in a gangster role after this flick.


While there are other notable actors within the film like Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, Robin Shou (who I actually never recognised in the 2008 remake) and Taint Pheonix & Lauren Cohan. In which all of the following deliver actual good performances. They make their character their own and take control and dominate their roles, despite this is just another action flick.


The visuals of this film and the action are the same old same old as any action film, and if you know about DEATH RACE, then you know what to expect. FIGHTS, BLOOD, RACES, GUNS, ACTION, EXPLOSION & GIRLS. Its quite frankly an over dosage orgy of the capitalised combination. Also the thrills of this film never stop. The battles and races are an adrenaline rush c*cktail for a near-brilliant origin story, I say near-brilliant because the only brilliant origin story I can think of is Batman Begins.


Whoever did the music to this flick did a bang-up job of making more adrenaline rush through the action sequences with a combination of hardcore Hip-Hop to Rock, to tracks that build up the sequences to intense levels of entertainment. The races are accompanied by the likes of DMX and others, I only could recognised DMX, by his voice and i'm a fan of his music.


What comes 1st place?


I'm quite a fan of the original, despite it wasn't sheer brilliance, and yeah i still got it on good ole VHS. But what blew my mind with this flick is how they've created a really good origin story for Death Race. This flick shows how Death Race is born via prison fights which are intense as they come, its surrender or die. It then visually portrays how the concept of Death Race is created and Death Match evolves to Death Race, which becomes the highest showing show in the world. Its much better than the 2008 version and for once Paul W.S Anderson final got something right after destroying multiple franchise and sending them to extinction. Ok that may sound a bit cruel since he did a fine job producing RE:Afterlife and Pandorum, but this is quite epic for a straight to DVD flick and its a rarity, and this should have been in theaters. The acting, visuals and story of this film is top form, the director, Roel Reine, does a good job of directing this flick.


Final words 


Death Race 2 is the definitive reimagining of Death Race, its like how everyone would have preferred a prequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street, which unfortunately that didn't deliver. But Death Race 2 burns the tracks and takes the film to a new level with a grand origin story for its concept, it has a menacing cast with great chemistry between the protagonist and love interest. The story just builds and builds to something near-epic and by the time the film hits it resolution and climax and everyone gets their just desserts. The final frame of this film will leave any fan, with a big fat dirty grin of awesomeness, after being intoxicated with a barrage of explosions and a barrage of heavy artillery.


Definately worth a rent or even a buy, and kiss that 2008 remake goodbye :)


This EXCLUSIVE & FIRST review was brought to you by Jay.A.Ottley



review: MOVIEFONE

'Death Race 2' Review: Exactly What Fans of the First Film Need

By Peter Hall (Subscribe to Peter Hall's posts)

Posted Jan 18th 2011 7:30PM

If you were pleasantly surprised by the over-the-top action, violence and vehicular mayhem in 'Death Race,' Paul W.S. Anderson's remake of Roger Corman's classic 'Death Race 2000,' then you will be happy to hear that 'Death Race 2' is precisely what you want it to be: over-the-top action, violence and vehicular mayhem. If you weren't a fan of Anderson's film, however, you can safely move along as there's realistically no chance that you'll find more to be entertained by in this Roel Reine-directed follow-up.


Unless, of course, the only reason you were turned off by its progenitor is because you, for whatever reason, hate Jason Statham. If that's the case, you may want to consider this straight-to-video sequel since it's got a new lead in the form of Luke Goss. And don't let that label deter you one iota, either: 'Death Race 2,' despite its World Premiere on DVD and Blu-ray, not only looks and sounds leagues better than most of its STV brethren, but it even has better production values than some recent theatrical action extravaganzas (that means you, 'Expendables').


You also shouldn't let the number in the title mislead you; 'Death Race 2' is actually a prequel that shows the creation of the titular televised spectacle that pits prisoner against prisoner in a deadly (and awesomely absurd) car race. 


And while it is director Rene Reine's impressive ability to make his assuredly smaller budgeted production look and sound as vulgar as the first film that will draw people in, it's Tony Giglio's script that makes this more than a simple cash-in on a recognizable title. It does still suffer some of the problems that all prisoner competition movies suffer, but for every familiar malady - the inevitable rigging of the races, the sexy female producer that'll do anything for ratings - there's a welcome breath of fresh air.


For starters, Luke Goss' character is an actual criminal. He's not a wrongly accused man fighting for his life, he's not a victim of betrayal out for revenge, he's not a casualty of the system; he's a murderer. A murderer with a conscious, granted, but it is a nice change of pace to have a hero that isn't the squeaky clean, "I don't belong here with these animals!" type. This may seem a small choice, but it's a deliberate one that helps give the film much needed grit in all of the right places.



Of course it doesn't hurt that Goss has more charisma and talent than you'd expect from the lead of films of this ilk, but that's not much of a surprise to anyone who has previously taken note of the often overlooked actor in any number of his other straight-to-video films (with his villainous role in 'Hellboy 2' being one of his few prominent theatrical roles). The rest of the new cast (you can count the carryovers from the first film on one hand, though I won't spoil who they are here) are certainly commendable, but all of the supporting roles are threadbare at best despite a few higher profile names - Sean Bean and Ving Rhames being the largest - filling their shoes.


Beyond the simple, but effective background of Goss' Carl Lucas, Giglio's script also tries its best to feature action outside of the races. Some of it is more thrilling than others (the highlight being a unique weapon choice we see in the deadly televised games that paved the way for Death Race), but even the film's duller moments are at least diverse enough to keep it from becoming a base clone of Anderson's film. Straight-to-video be damned, 'Death Race 2' maintains what made the original enjoyable while still striving to stand on its own two feet. If you're expecting anything beyond that, you're likely not the kind of person a film like this is made for in the first place.

The Marine 2 - Review

IGN REVIEW: The Marine 2

A surprisingly solid DTV sequel introduces an exciting new director and action star.

by Christopher Monfette


December 3, 2009 - Given their history, it's easy to be cynical about direct-to-DVD movies. Lower budgets, less talented performers and generally second-rate writers and directors have proven to be the stigma with DTV movies throughout the years, most especially with the sequels to once-theatrical properties. There is, one assumes, a reason that those involved in the production aren't out there making big-budget Hollywood fare – that they simply aren't talented enough for the cinematic big leagues. So it's surprising then that The Marine 2 manages to defy this cliche and offer up a well made, visually impressive and competently performed action film that makes one consider why it didn't at least earn a limited theatrical release. 

Make no mistake, the sequel to John Cena's WWE action flick isn't some high-brow affair or Bruckheimer-quality masterpiece, but it's certainly as entertaining, if not moreso, than the original film. Swapping out both Cena and the film's PG-13 rating, the sequel featuresTed DiBiase (son of the Million Dollar Man) in an R-rated, 90-minute bout of semi-constant ass-kicking. DiBiase stars as recon sniper Joe Linwood whose off-duty vacation to Thailand with his wife finds them embroiled in the middle of a hostage situation at the massive resort at which they're staying. When a separatist group sieges the resort during its gala opening, Linwood's wife is among the hostages and Linwood escapes to plan the eventual rescue mission. 

The story is neither clever nor inventive, but it follows in the tradition of similar films by offering a simple scenario in which exists the unlimited potential for hardcore violence. But it's the presentation that really makes the film work. Helmed by director Roel Reine, the movie looks and feels hugely theatrical despite its lower budget. From the cinematography, to the striking angles, to the well struck balance between fast-paced edits and lingering, well-orchestrated camera moves, there's little about the sequel's direction that isn't more inspired than its fairly generic original. A hand-to-hand fight scene about two-thirds of the way through the movie takes place amidst a lengthy, sweeping camera rotation that highlights the complex choreography in a single shot. This'd be impressive by big-screen standards let alone DVD. 

While we wouldn't expect Shakespeare any time soon, Ted DiBiase obviously has sufficient acting chops to carry the film. That said, the wrestler-turned-action star lacks the kind of distinct and intimidating visual presence of somebody like Cena. In truth, for as tough and capable as the man appears, there's something all too vanilla about DiBiase. He looks like a normal, Mid-Western good-old-boy in prime physical condition, more likely to hold open the door for the lady at the market than single-handedly assassinate a group of highly trained killers. Regardless, his athletic skills are hardly in question as he does so with a good deal of command. 


Score: 6 out of 10 


Video and Presentation 


The film employs a slightly over-saturated visual palette which on the DVD we were given highlighted some of the digitization and artifcating. That aside, however, the DVD transfer looks perfectly acceptable and even sports some pretty impressive black levels during the nighttime action sequences. There's not a lot of color here, so get used to jungle greens and browns for the next hour and a half, but there are enough fiery explosions and well-composed sequences to keep things interesting. 


Score: 7 out of 10 



Languages and Audio 


Things go boom… In a sense, that's all anybody really needs to say. There's a sufficient amount of gunfire and explosions in the The Marine 2 to rival any Hollywood summer blockbuster. The 5.1 transfer does feature a ton of directional flourishes, but the whizzing of bullets and the base of pluming fireballs makes for a satisfying, room-rattling audio transfer. 


Score: 8 out of 10 


Packaging and Extras 


There's not a ton of material here with regard to the extras, but the half-hour behind-the-scenes featurette, divided into a number of shorter chapters, is well worth the time for those interested in both DiBiase and the film's promising director, Roel Reine. There's a lot of good material here about the making of the film, how DiBiase got the gig, interviews with his father, profiles of the Reine and an exploration of his filmmaking style. If you find that you enjoyed the film, definitely check out his featurette. 


The DVD also features a few rather meaningless deleted scenes and the original rough takes of the Muay Thai fight sequence via both the steady-cam and the handheld camera. This material, you can feel free to skip. Otherwise, this is pretty standard DVD fare. 


Score: 6 out of 10 


The Bottom Line 


A surprisingly sold DTV action sequel introduces an exciting new director in Reine more than its star, DiBiase.

Pistol Whipped Review

Vern’s Been PISTOL WHIPPED By Seagal!

Published at:  Feb 29, 2008 7:01:37 AM CST


Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Vern’s my hero. If I could be anybody I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d choose to be Vern. His new book is one reason. This review is another.

PISTOL WHIPPED

This April marks (for death) the 20th anniversary of ABOVE THE LAW. Can you believe we're that old? Two decades since Steven Seagal's debut, arriving on the action movie scene fully-formed, already a star, already with his iconic look (well, he didn't have the ponytail quite yet), already with his shadowy CIA past, his intense knowledge of Asian tradition, and his drive to take on the corrupt and throw them through panes of glass.

Alot has stayed the same in those 20 years, but alot has changed. He got bigger. His movies got bigger (UNDER SIEGE), then smaller (THE PATRIOT). He moved from the big screen to the DVD. By my way of thinking he's gone through three major periods of his career and is now late in the DTV Era. 

It's been years since he's gotten good reviews or mainstream respect (opening weekend of 2001's EXIT WOUNDS to be exact), but that hardly matters. I've rarely met a Seagal-critic who could even name the movies he was trying to make fun of. What did matter was when Seagal started to disappoint his actual audience. Movies like OUT OF REACH were patched together with obvious voice and stunt doubles subbing for Seagal, SUBMERGED and ATTACK FORCE were sci-fi movies rejiggered to remove the mutants and aliens, leaving their stories muddled and incoherent. The last straw might've been last year's FLIGHT OF FURY, where the producers tricked Seagal into making a movie with a script they'd already used for Michael Dudikoff's BLACK THUNDER. Worse than that it's built around Seagal flying jets, even though the audience will never forget he's sitting in front of a green screen and not flying the jet in that stock footage. Shouldn't he be throwing guys through windows? 

But an aikidoist fights best when backed into a corner, so after Seagal's recent low point he seems to be turning ferocious again. The first sign was last year's URBAN JUSTICE, a vicious straight-ahead avenging-the-death-of-my-son movie with Seagal obviously redoubling his efforts. It was full of violent action, great one-liners, a surprisingly good villain performance by Eddie Griffin of all people, and plenty of fight scenes that prove Seagal still gives a shit. How much of a shit? Enough to kick a guy in the balls 11 times before throwing him down the stairs. 11 ball kicks = good effort.

The one thing I thought URBAN JUSTICE could use was more of the personal Seagal touch. It had the fast aikido asskicking and badass persona of Golden Era Seagal, but not much of the weird touches and heart-on-his-sleeve sincerity that makes Seagal's movies Seagal movies. I thought if he could combine some of that with his newfound elbow grease he would have something, and I was right. He would have PISTOL WHIPPED. But PISTOL WHIPPED is not just recharged DTV Seagal, I think it shows signs it could be a new stage in his career. A new Seagal with a slightly more mature outlook. No, seriously guys, hear me out. (For justice.)

In PISTOL WHIPPED Seagal plays his most troubled character ever. He was kicked off the force because they thought he stole money. His wife threw him out because he was a cheat and a drunk. His best friend and partner married his wife. His daughter is disappointed in him because he's always hung over on visiting weekends and ditches her. Also he's addicted to gambling and owes over a million dollars to three different bookies. Oh, and also Lance Henriksen and Paul Calderon are forcing him to assassinate people for a secret government agency. And this makes things worse because sometimes he has to stalk people on the weekends he's supposed to be with his daughter.

This might be a turn-off for some people, but PISTOL WHIPPED is much more story oriented than URBAN JUSTICE. It's not lacking in mayhem and brutality, but it does spend plenty of screen time on concerns such as improving relations with his daughter. I like that because it's new for Seagal. You gotta take advantage of what you have, and one thing Seagal has is the look of a guy who's been through alot. Let's see Matt Damon or Ryan Reynolds play a washed up alcoholic ex-cop trying to be a better father between assassinations. They're not ready yet.

The media may get more and more obsessed with young, pretty, soul-less people every year, but that doesn't change reality. The fact is that older people make better badasses. Seagal will turn 57 next month. Charles Bronson was older than that by the time he made DEATH WISH II. Lee Marvin I guess was in his '40s for most of his best stuff but he got up there, he was about Seagal's age now when he and Bronson did DEATH HUNT in '81. By my math it looks like Clint Eastwood was 62 when he started doing movies like UNFORGIVEN, IN THE LINE OF FIRE and BLOODWORK that dealt with his age.

I think Seagal's stepping into his version of that type of material now, or like what Stallone started with ROCKY BALBOA. Now he not only has his CIA/black ops backstory, he also has the backstory of his earlier movie career. Even if we didn't know his past we'd see it on his face. So it's great to see him finally acknowledging that in the stories. He's now a veteran, a father of grown children, a guy who had a life once but screwed it up. In fact it's a strong parallel with the status of his filmography. As his character (simply called "Matt" by the way) struggles to stop drinking and make his daughter like him again, Seagal is struggling to make better movies and get his fans excited again.

The thing is pretty well put together, too, with plenty of cool and ridiculous action to enjoy. Seagal runs slo-mo through a graveyard firing in different directions without even looking. He sets up a bunch of matches and lights them by grazing them with bullets. He stabs a guy with silverware. His most badass move (SPOILER) is at the end when he asks his fatally wounded former friend/current foe if he wants to be buried or cremated, and when the guy says buried he blows up his car. How often do you see an anti-hero kill the bad guy AND disrespect his burial wishes? Not often enough, in my opinion.

Before anybody gets too excited, I should mention that nobody gets literally pistol whipped in this movie. That may be an oversight but I think the title is a play on the term "pussy whipped." He's henpecked by his pistol.

Henriksen is only in three scenes, but he's an important character and does have dialogue with Seagal. I'm a big fan of Henriksen, who seems to put his best foot forward even in the worst crap he somehow ends up in, so it's great to see him finally cross paths with Seagal. But Calderon has a much bigger part so he gets the distinguished guest star trophy this time. If you don't know Calderon by name you might still remember him from small parts in KING OF NEW YORK, BAD LIEUTENANT, COP LAND, CLOCKERS, OUT OF SIGHT, etc. Also I looked him up and it looks like he's played about 7 different characters on various LAW AND ORDER shows. He's the guy who almost played Jules Winfield but instead played the bartender: "my name is Paul, and this is between y'all." He's slick and wiry, a complete physical opposite of Seagal, so he makes a great nemesis and sort of colleague.

The script by J.D. Zeik (who wrote the original script for RONIN before David Mamet got his hands on it) is masterful DTV Era Seagal. It takes the sort of betrayals and shifting morality of Seagal pictures like THE FOREIGNER, BLACK DAWN, MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE and SHADOW MAN and forms them into a more cohesive and colorful story than before. This might be Seagal's definitive statement on that "sometimes you gotta get your hand dirty" theme. 

So there are all kinds of interesting things to analyze here, but more importantly I've watched it a couple times already and just enjoyed watching it. So, as one of North America's leading Seagalogists I declare Steven Seagal officially back in business just in time for his 20th year as an action star. He's gone platinum. Buy that man some china.

PISTOL WHIPPED hits the shelves next Tuesday, March 4th. ABOVE THE LAW turns 20 on April 8th. Read about both movies in WAY more detail in my book SEAGALOGY, available from Titan Books May 20th.

(whoah, I felt like Herc for a second there)

--Vern

P.S. Random Seagal news: the trailer for THE ONION MOVIE - which has been sitting on a shelf almost as long as Mason Storm was in a coma - appears as an extra on the DARJEELING LIMITED dvd. Seagal's part in COCK PUNCHER (a movie trailer parody) is featured prominently. The movie probaly won't be funny but at least if they really release it on DVD it will stop being at the top of Seagal's filmography on IMDb.

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