Fury & Vengeance with Ric & Nic

So, my busy week got a little less busy when one of the city meetings was cancelled. I made some snap decisions about movie watching.

First I checked out Films of Fury on Netflix Instant. It’s based on Ric Meyer’s book of the same name, which is about martial arts movies. I will give the movie props for pointing out that Buster Keaton and Gene Kelly were superb athletes, doing their utmost for their craft; not really sure if what they did could truly be called kung fu, but hey, it was a fair point. The movie also manages to work in the fight scene in From Russia With Love before getting to the meat of the matter, the Chinese martial arts movie.

The only real problem with documentaries like this crops up if you’re already a fan of the material. Fists of Fury does a really good job of hitting the high points and avoiding the low in its accelerated history, highlighting the major players, directors and plot points (I would have liked to have had a dollar for every time the world “revenge” is used). I spent most of the running time thinking “Damn, but I want to see that movie again!” The Flash animation interstitials are amusing but disposable.

If, however, you’re curious about the genre and haven’t had that much experience, it will provide you with an excellent list of where to start.

I picked the next movie almost at random. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. My kid is a big Ghost Rider fan, so its purchase was necessary. Especially when I found the Blu-Ray for cheap.

The great thing about second movies in these superhero franchises is that the origin story can be dealt with in three sentences and we can get on with the rest of the movie. (Hell, The Incredible Hulk did it under the opening credits, which was a smooth economic move). Staring 50 in the face, Nic Cage may be getting a bit old to pull off Johnny Blaze, but he can still break off major pieces of the scenery with his teeth and chew them up like few other actors will even attempt, and directors Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor – also responsible for the frenetic Crank movies – probably had script pages that were blank except for the words NIC GOES NUTS HERE.

The plot’s not going to dazzle you with originality: the same Devil whom Blaze made his original deal with has sired a son, and the kid is necessary for a ritual that will cement Old Scratch’s power on Earth. A radical sect offers Blaze a counter-deal: if he can find the boy and bring him safely to their Sanctuary, they will undo his satanic pact and separate him from the Rider.

Nevaldine and Taylor have a dizzying visual style they perfected in those Crank movies and is put to dazzling use here; their best addition to the Rider mythos is that any mechanical device the Rider controls is imbued with Hellfire, so we not only get to see the stock flaming motorcycle, but at one point, a flaming strip miner. The cast they put together is pretty fine, too; we find ourselves rooting for Idris Elba very early in the movie, then we get surprised by Anthony Head and Christopher Lambert.

Not stellar entertainment, but satisfying. Worth the rental for fans of frantic action, over-the-top performances, and pyrotechnics.

1 Comment

  1. Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one!

    It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

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