Chocolate Is A Martial-Arts Classic If You Just Focus On The Kicking

So Chocolate is not Chocolat, the 2000 Johnny Depp/Juliet Binoche movie where people eat chocolate from a particular shop and it somehow makes them fall in love with each other. Chocolat is the sort of movie where you know it takes place in France because people speak English in French accents. It was nominated for a… » 3/26/15 2:55pm Thursday 2:55pm

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry Is Acidic B-Movie Nihilism Done Right

The car-chase movies of the '70s really only had one plot: Someone drives a muscle car really fast, hoping to avoid police cars, some of which end up driving into streams or ponds. But each movie found a vastly different way to tell that one story. Vanishing Point, the genre's real masterpiece, told it in mythic… » 3/20/15 10:35am 3/20/15 10:35am

Iron Monkey Is An Underrated Goof From Hong Kong's '90s Golden Era

Somehow, in the early '90s, the Hong Kong film industry just had the action movie figured out. You'll see something like this every once in a while: A particular locale just going ham on some particular art form. It's like New York rap in the mid-'90s: All these classics coming out at a dizzying speed, all of them… » 3/13/15 12:42pm 3/13/15 12:42pm

Vin Diesel's Gloriously Absurd XXX Is Mountain Dew For The Soul

XXX, the fantastically stupid Vin Diesel vehicle from 2002, starts with a shaky premise: James Bond is done. The world has changed, and he can't survive. You can understand how someone might've arrived at that conclusion. The Pierce Brosnan era was nearing its bloated end, and Die Another Day, with its dumb invisible… » 3/06/15 9:53am 3/06/15 9:53am

A Squeamish New Dad's Guide To Diapers

In Act of Valor, the 2012 movie where real active-duty Navy SEALs play fictional active-duty Navy SEALs, there's a moment where two elite, hardened warriors are discussing fatherhood, and one of them mentions the scariest thing about it: diapers. If fucking SEALs can't handle diapers, is there any hope for the rest… » 3/02/15 11:27am 3/02/15 11:27am

Headhunters Proves That Norway Is Secretly A Super-Messed-Up Place

For a non-fan, the whole idea of the Nordic noir phenomenon can feel a bit strange: An entire genre of mass-market paperback thrillers dedicated to the idea that people in some of the world's cleanest, brightest, richest, most polite countries are really doing unspeakable things to each other behind closed doors. If… » 2/26/15 12:45pm 2/26/15 12:45pm

The Running Man's Goofy, Violent Dystopia Hasn't Arrived Yet, Alas

Right around New Year's Day, I saw a bit of online chatter pointing out that we were entering the year depicted in Back to the Future II, and that to our great disappointment, we still don't have hoverboards or '80s-themed diners. Tragic as that may be, I'm more concerned that we're now only two years away from the… » 2/19/15 5:07pm 2/19/15 5:07pm

The Loopy Project A Is Jackie Chan At His Most Violently Ridiculous

There's a moment in the 1983 Jackie Chan movie Project A where he's dangling from a clock tower's minute hand, clinging for dear life as people watch him from stories below. Chan has always been a big silent-comedy head, and the scene was directly inspired by a famous stunt that Harold Lloyd pulled off in the 1923… » 2/12/15 2:10pm 2/12/15 2:10pm

Jason Statham Will Hopefully Never Stop Making Movies Like Homefront

There are things you expect to see in a Jason Statham movie, and 2012's Homefront has those things: kicks, headbutts, armbars, heads smashed through car windows, weary neck-stretches, imperiled little kids, muttered warnings not to fuck with Jason Statham. It also has James Franco banging Winona Ryder against the hood… » 2/06/15 12:35pm 2/06/15 12:35pm

The Terse, Explosive Drug War Is Nearly As Hard As Hard Boiled Itself

The Hong Kong shoot-'em-up is a venerated cinematic genre, one that blew a whole lot of minds and changed the way all movies look, but it really had a pretty short shelf life. The halcyon era really only lasted about seven years: From 1986, when John Woo made the groundbreaking gangster flick A Better Tomorrow, to… » 1/29/15 2:49pm 1/29/15 2:49pm

RoboCop Is The Best Movie Ever Made

In fourth grade, I went to school every day with a RoboCop lunchbox. In retrospect, this seems insane. RoboCop is arguably the bleakest, most violent, most nihilistic movie ever made by an American studio. Every scene seems to drip with malice even when nothing especially dramatic is happening. It's a masterpiece of… » 1/23/15 11:35am 1/23/15 11:35am

Pretty Hurts: Why The Steely Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Holds Up

There is a lot of fighting in 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but almost none of the blows look like they hurt. The one really painful attack here—the one where you sort of recoil from the screen—is when one woman tells another woman that they're not friends anymore, that they could never be sisters. That's… » 1/16/15 12:48pm 1/16/15 12:48pm

Peaky Blinders Is The Brutal British Gangster Saga For You

Right now, my wife is making it through both seasons of Peaky Blinders, the British TV show about warring 1920s gangs, for the second time. The big difference: This time, she's watching it with the subtitles on. She swears she'd missed entire plot threads the first time just through the sheer, distracting work of… » 1/09/15 1:45pm 1/09/15 1:45pm

Blood and Bone Treats Michael Jai White Like The Badass Miracle He Is

America has failed as a society in many ways, and one of them is this: Michael Jai White is not a titanic movie star. There is no reason why Michael Jai White is not a titanic movie star. He can act. He has a calm, still, intimidating presence. He's handsome enough to play the love interest in a Nicki Minaj video.… » 1/08/15 1:55pm 1/08/15 1:55pm

Keanu Reeves, B-Movie Auteur: The Badass Excellence Of Man Of Tai Chi 

Neo is more interesting than you realized. Last year, Keanu Reeves, once one of the world's biggest movie stars, released Man of Tai Chi, his directorial debut. It's a hard, unpretentious, generally frill-free martial-arts movie about an underground fighting ring, and it was released direct-to-VOD in America. And this… » 12/19/14 11:58am 12/19/14 11:58am

Bloodsport Is The Citizen Kane Of Pit-Fighting Movies 

It's essentially impossible to make an Underground Pit-Fighting Tournament Movie that's not worth watching. The genre can support so many different interpretations, from beautifully shot middlebrow Hollywood striver story (Fighting) to all-flash juiced-up exploitation (Never Back Down) to foreign Oscar bait (Rust… » 12/11/14 2:46pm 12/11/14 2:46pm

Battle Royale's Wincing Nastiness Can Never Be Duplicated

Once upon a time, seeking out a way to see Battle Royale, the 2000 Japanese movie about little kids killing each other on an island, felt like finding a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook or something. This movie was never banned in the U.S. the way it was (and still is) in Germany. But even though it qualified as a huge… » 12/04/14 1:32pm 12/04/14 1:32pm

Total Recall Was Fucking Awesome

During the first scene of the original 1990 Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger's head explodes. It's just a dream sequence, and the camera cuts away before his face actually pops open. But the fact remains: One of the biggest summer blockbusters of its era opens by forcing you to contemplate the most bankable movie… » 11/21/14 10:37am 11/21/14 10:37am

Django Unchained Gave Us The Quentin Tarantino Gunfight Of Our Dreams

Quentin Tarantino loves action movies in all their forms: ritualistic Hong Kong martial-arts epics, '70s car-chase odysseys, terse and meditative Japanese gangster flicks. He hires the stars of those old movies, and he peppers his own films with references in just about every way he can manage. But he's not an action… » 11/13/14 4:38pm 11/13/14 4:38pm