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Great Scenes – SORCERER


What ever happened to real dirt in film? There are exceptions, but it seems like somewhere along the way filmmakers stopped using actual grime and started painting it on. That was the first thing I noticed about ‘s Sorcerer – these dudes look terrible! And I love it! This 1977 remake (the original being ‘s 1953 masterpiece The Wages of Fear) about four criminals hiding in Nicaragua and risking their lives for a few thousand pesos is absolutely worth your time, but this scene is something really special. There’s dynamite leaking nitroglycerin in the back of a truck and here are the dudes just crazy enough to inch it across a broken bridge in the middle of a storm. These men have each done something horrible, but as we see them drive through the jungle, they move beyond their past and become nothing more than desperate human beings. This scene captures a lot of the essence of the films’ grit and emotion while simultaneously delivering some serious thrills. Pay attention to the sounds – is that wind, or a howling otherworldly monster? These men are obsessed with getting their money and in their attempt to bend nature to their will they are beaten down to their most primal emotions. Watch the battle between nature and progress rage outside while the battle between determination and common sense boils within.


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March 13, 2013   5 Comments


Known as the Godfather of Kung-Fu thanks to genre-defining The One-Armed Swordsman (1967),  Shaolin Temple (1976) and The Five Venoms (1978), prolific writer/director (and one-time film critic) Chang Cheh‘s career spanned several decades and even more tonal shifts – from early über-macho flicks that inspired John Woo‘s “heroic bloodshed” cinema to later WTF? slapstick dementia that inspired Wong Jing – Cheh was a man of many styles and a mentor to many directors. Today’s great scene comes from his Five Element Ninja (1982) – also known as Super Ninjas – which is one of the director’s more brainless and fun movies, full of the type of inventive insanity that fans of cheesy cinema come to admire in Hong Kong films. In fact whenever the Chinese “do ninja” it’s worth a look – because they usually skip all that Japanese reverence and opt for portraying the ninja as some sort of magical boogeyman. In this movie starring Venom Lo Meng and Michael Chan Wai Man, the ninjas take on traits of the five elements – Earth, Wood [?], Fire, Water and Gold [?] (what happened to wind?). Featuring an abundance of spears to the crotch and a warrior who doesn’t seem to mind said spears as much as he should, it’s a wonderful appetizer to the full course meal ahead – full of quirk, gore and ridiculousness, and a wacko ending in which all 5 elements come together in one battle – definitely worth seeking out!

…and check out the previous Great Scene we ran from Cheh’s equally sublime Two Champions of Shaolin!

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October 23, 2012   No Comments


Sometimes a movie comes along that single-handedly raises the bar on WTF?ness. The 2005 quasi-omnibus Funky Forest (directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine & Shunichiro Miki) is that movie. Those experienced with Japanese cinema will have an easier time tolerating the seemingly unconnected vignettes that make up this movie, whose plot loosely involves a group of aliens making first contact with a group of equally alien humans. This one’s  weird even by Japan standards – and plays like an unholy marriage between Luis Buñuel‘s Phantom of Liberty and David Cronenberg‘s Naked Lunch. If that sounds good to you you’re apt to enjoy today’s great scene. All others should probably stay away. Warning: the following scene contains bodily fluids, overwhelming weirdness, and mind-boggling logic that may be detrimental to your mental health.

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June 6, 2012   No Comments

Great Scenes – PUMPING IRON

The legend of Ah-nuld really begins here, with George Butler & Robert Fiore‘s infamous muscle movie Pumping Iron, a 1977 documentary in which the Austrian über-Republican’s larger than life egoism and ridiculous physique take center stage. This scene especially – where he gleefully recounts his manipulation of an admiring competitor – perfectly captures the blasé devastation Arnold leaves in his wake. A vision of what uncut Id might look like, he has one thing in mind – to conquer whatever’s in front of him: women, competition, the English language (still working on that one), more women, the hapless Lou Ferrigno, even more women, and whoever thinks he might not be the greatest thing to ever walk the Earth. Before John Milius saw him as Conan the Barbarian, before James Cameron would cast him as The Terminator and make him an icon, it’s clear the man was a brutal machine determined to become a star, no matter the cost.

And as an added bonus I couldn’t resist linking this video: Arnold’s commentary. Enjoy!

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November 30, 2011   1 Comment

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