Archive for the ‘Film Review’ Category

h1

DVD Review : Knockout starring Stone Cold Steve Austin

April 19, 2011

Reviewed by : Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

Stone Cold Steve Austin has been back in the squard circle rather frequently thus far in 2011. Currently hosting the reincarnation of the Tough Enough reality show series, and coming off of his guest referee spot at Wrestlemania, now Austin is stepping into the boxing ring for his latest acting gig, a straight to DVD release entitled “Knockout”

In the film Austin plays a former pro boxer turned school janitor named Dan Barnes. The film begins with the lead character, Matthew Miller (played by Daniel Magder) on his way to his first day at his new public school in a new city. Having spent years in private school, Miller arrives in a suit and finds it hard to fit in, attracting the attention of the resident school bullies, most notably, the school’s boxing champ Hector Torres. Miller, meanwhile, has had an interest in boxing for years as his grandfather was once a successful boxer, but never had he thought about participating in the sport as his somewhat overprotective mother has held him close through the years following a battle with leukemia as a child. Cue Stone Cold’s character, who as the school janitor steps in during a bullying incident between Matthew and the afformentioned Torres. With the encouragement and tutelage of Austin’s character, Matthew trains and gets his chance to face Torres in the annual box off for a chance to make the school boxing team.

About 30 minutes into the film I found it hard to kick the feeling that I had seen this film before, then it dawned on me, this is WWE Films “Legendary” but with boxing instead of amateur wrestling and Steve Austin instead of John Cena. The surrounding story might be slightly different, but at its core they are identical movies. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on what you personally thought of Legendary.  For those you didn’t see it, what this basically boils down to is your typical inspirational family drama with a happy ending.

Like many of the straight to DVD films Austin has done since leaving WWE films, he is given a tailor made character to play so that it accentuates his acting positives and hides the negatives.

Ive always been a big fan of Austin’s and because of this I did enjoy the film. Although I found the fact that Knockout is very similar to Legendary to be somewhat amusing considering that Austin had chosen to depart WWE films many years ago to chase his own career path, but has ended up doing the exact same films under various different banners. Then again he probably would not of gotten his spot in The Expendables without being independent, but I digress.

The DVD version of Knockout offers little in terms of DVD extras. A digital copy option is included as well as the film’s trailer, but nothing in terms of behind the scenes footage or featurettes. Ultimately I would call this a “Rent It”, but if you’re a big fan of Austin adding it to your collection wont hurt.

Knockout starring Stone Cold Steve Austin hits the streets on DVD and Blu Ray, April 26th with the suggested retail price of $29.99, It will also be available via Video on Demand, For more information check out Phase 4 Films official webpage for the film via http://phase4films.com/detail.aspx?projectId=295806ed-6e2b-422f-bedf-37dc9a13bd1c

Advertisements
h1

DVD Review : Hunt To Kill starring Stone Cold Steve Austin

October 29, 2010

Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

Coming off his role in the box office smash hit The Expendables, Steve Austin is looking to continue his transition into the acting world with the straight to DVD release of the action thriller “Hunt to Kill”

This is the 3rd straight to DVD release which stars Austin in the leading role, the prior two being Damage and The Stranger, and much like the previous releases, this film takes a familiar route to an enjoyable yet somewhat “by the book” film.

Austin plays the role of US border patrol agent Jim Rhodes who is not only trying to get over the loss of his murdered partner but is also trying to raise his teenage daughter as a single father, which as you may guess  with any girl of that age, is rebellious to the bone. This ends up getting both her and her father in some major trouble as Austin’s daughter is taken hostage by a group of criminals and when Austin’s character walks in on the kidnapping, he is forced into assisting the group in hunting down one of their former colleagues who is hiding out from them in the mountainous woods of Montana, a place that Austin knows very well having worked there on a daily basis.

As they embark on the hunt through the mountains, the movie begins to follow the typical storyline  playout of the bad guys turning on eachother, and Austin’s character taking advantage of this to begin outsmarting them in a survival of the baddest type of situation.

I couldn’t help but have a bit of a déjà vu feeling while watching the movie, That being said it is far from being a bad movie, in fact I enjoyed it very much as would any other Austin fan or fan of the action thriller genre. The timing and playout of the story is well done, and the climax is fast paced enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, but it was hard to kick the fact that I felt I had seen this before.  Perhaps that’s the downfall of some movies in this day and age, where everything has been done before and even slight twists on the outline of what a thriller is supposed to be, still comes off as by the book.

Austin does play his role perfectly, perhaps because it’s designed for him as who wouldn’t portray Austin as a rugged, tough as nails guy who can kick your butt, but also the lead villain played by Gil Bellows serves as a bad guy whose performance compliments Austin’s role greatly.

DVD Bonus features for the standard DVD release of Hunt to Kill include audio commentary with Director Keoni Waxman and actor Michael Eklund, as well as a behind the scenes of Hunt To Kill featurette.

Having been a fan of Austin for many years, im glad to see that his acting career is coming along nicely, not every retired wrestling star gets this chance in the movie mainstream and starts to succeed, Austin is quickly establishing his own movie career, which may not get to the level The Rock has, but will certainly be a respectable one.

Hun to Kill is out on DVD and Blu Ray November 9th from Anchor Bay Entertainment, For more information check out www.hunttokill-themovie.com or Anchor Bay’s page for the film at  http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/details.asp?projectId=%7B417E187A-97F4-49F6-9004-9DA300885997%7D

 

h1

DVD Review : “Woodshop” starring Jesse The Body Ventura

September 9, 2010

Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

Jesse Ventura has had quite the adventurous life. In the early 70’s he was a Navy Seal, In The Mid 70’s and over the  2 decades that would follow, he would make a name for himself in the world of professional wrestling as ”The Body”. It’s without a doubt that his time in pro wrestling opened up many avenues for him, one obviously being the political route which saw him serve as a mayor and later governor in Minnesota, but like many wrestlers before and after him, it opened up doors in the acting world.  Over the years Ventura has had roles in Predator, Zorro, and Demolition Man, but now in 2010 he is featured in a much smaller scale film entitled “ Woodshop” which is now available on DVD from  42 Productions.

This independent production is a teenage “dramedy” set in a high school woodshop class. The film plays out over a single Saturday at the high school shop class where class valedictorian Chris Johnson is sent to serve out a detention for having accidently concocted a mini rocket in chemistry class. Little did Chris expect to have to face quite the number of obstacles to survive the day. Amongst his fellow Woodshopers are all your typical high school characters, the best friend, the bully, the tomboy, and the stoner with a hidden genius.

Ventura plays the role of Mr. Madson, an ex army ranger who now teaches woodshop at the local high school. Longtime fans of Jesse will be reminded of his days as The Body as his character is reminiscent of his days in the wrestling world. To be honest, Ventura is the bright spot of this film, his performance is quite enjoyable.

It’s no major spoiler to say that the premise of the film is dealing with a high school bully. Director Pete Coggan deserves credit for doing a decent job of capturing the teenage character type of this day and age, although its done in a slightly cheesy and typical type of way in that the characters traits are spot on but the play out of the story is slightly off, but then again this is the movie world so I guess you have to expect such a thing.

With a low budget film comes the potential for some low quality production, In the case of Woodshop, the audio quality is what suffers. Eventhough the majority of the film is set in what is a fairly empty school, and fairly empty shop class, where in real life the audio would come off the way it does, echoy and hard to understand, this however is a film, and unfortunately its sometimes hard to understand what the characters are saying due to the poor audio quality. I sometimes had to refer to the subtitles to make sure who said what. Meanwhile I found the video quality to be more than acceptable as in this day and age with high quality cameras coming down in price its hard not to get some decent looking footage.

The IMDB page for Woodshop lists the Tag Line as “ It’s easy to convince yourself that life is a collection of unhappy memories where no good deed goes unpunished… It’s not” And although that tag line is no where to be see on the DVD cover, it is the basic message this film tries to get across. If you’re a big Jesse Ventura fan, or for that matter a fan of independent film, Woodshop is worth a look, Im not sure that many indy films hit the rental shelves anymore, but if this does I’d call this a Rent It.

Woodshop is now available on DVD from  42 Productions, You can pick up your own copy at local retailers or via online retailers such as Amazon. For more information check out www.woodshopmovie.com , and to read my previous DVD Reviews check out http://www.wrestlingdvdreviews.vze.com

h1

Film Review : Damage starring Stone Cold Steve Austin

October 14, 2009

austin

Film / DVD Review : Damage starring Stone Cold Steve Austin

Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

This past April, Stone Cold Steve Austin was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, capping off a career that left a huge imprint on the world of professional wrestling. Now with his wrestling career behind him, Austin is attempting to launch a new full time career in the acting world.

Austin’s first foray into the movie business was with the WWE when they produced The Condemned in 2007. The film received a mixed reaction and it did not fare well in the box office,  Personally I think the film should of done a bit better than it did, but then again I’m a self admitted Austin mark, Although I have heard others say that about every WWE Film which was released in theaters,so  perhaps it’s a stigma, people see the name WWE Films and they think to themselves this is going to be  some cheesy film made by a bunch of wrestlers. Whether you think The Condemned was a good movie or not, Steve Austin has never been one to quit that easily, so Austin worked out his departure from WWE Films and has set off on his own path, and the first film to be released on that new path is an action flick entitled Damage which wont open in theaters in North America until January, however it has been released on DVD in the United Kingdom.

The film stars Austin as John Brickner, a prison inmate serving  7 years for manslaughter. Brickner apparently choked a man to death and plead guilty.  No, this isn’t The Condemned all over again as 4 and a half years later Austin is granted parole and a new leash on life where he plans to seek redemption for his past acts, This is where The Condemned comparison’s end.

Once out of prison, Brickner stats to put his life back together. Finding a job at the local construction site, he gets little respect and little money.  Soon enough he falls into a second job as a bouncer at the local bar when he stands up for the lead female character Frankie, who is a smoking hot waitress who gets little respect from the patrons of the bar. Brickner’s imposing physique and obvious skill for fighting catches the eye of Frankie (played by Laura Vandervoort)  Soon enough Frankie and friend Reno (played by Walton Goggins) attempt to recruit Brickner into a underground fighting league with promise of major money making potential. Initally Austin’s character shrugs it off as he is attempting to turn over a new leaf. However when the widow of the man Brickner killed contacts him with a way for him to pay his debt to her and her family he quickly finds himself in a situation where he needs money and fast, so  into the underground Brickner heads and allows Austin to do what he does best… Whup some butt!

The film itself is not a blockbuster but plays into Austin’s strengths of being a serious / strong character who can fight. Throughout the movie however you do get a sprinkle of other shades of Austin, the actor. Some moments are comedic, others dramatic. Austin does not come off as a superstar, but shows some potential considering this is only his second film.

The movie could of gone down the road of just being all about the fights but it does not sell itself out completely to that theme, instead It opens up just enough to have a story around the actual fight scenes and makes for an enjoyable film.

In regards to the fight scenes they are action packed and action film fans get their dose so to speak as the blood does spill in a variety of different fight scenarios as Austin climbs the ladder of the underground fight scene.

Overall I enjoyed this film for what it is, An independent action film that attempts to tell a story while also giving the action marks what they came for. I think it is slightly better then The Condemned movie because of the fact that it provides more depth around the main subject than the condemned did. I am somewhat surprised that the film has been released on DVD in one part of the world months before it is slated to hit theaters in another. In this day and age that can and will hurt box office business whether it be because of downloads or those paying for duty and shipping fees to have it right away. I think the film is worthy of checking out on DVD but might be a pass when it comes to theatrical viewing but im not a movie industry expert so ill leave that up to them.

Austin is scheduled for a role in The Expendables next summer which stars Sylvester Stallone, he also has a role in a action thriller entitled The Stranger in which an FBI agent is on the chase for a important material witness in a ongoing investigation. Both these roles could be huge steps for Austin’s film career, meanwhile Damage is film that should be regarded as a learning step for Austin as he begins to expand his acting abilities

h1

DVD Review : Andy Kaufman’s My Breakfast with Blassie / Im From Hollywood Special Commemorative Edition

April 25, 2009

 

cover_cropped

Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

It has been 25 years since the passing of comedy legend Andy Kaufman, but to this day some question whether or not he faked his own death. While some have refused to accept this unfortunate fact, it was at the far too early age of 35 that Kaufman passed away following a battle with lung cancer. One of his dying wishes was for friend and film director Lynne Margulies to complete and release the I’m From Hollywood documentary that chronicled his time in the wrestling world feuding with women from across the world as well as WWE hall of famer Jerry Legend. Kaufman was proud of his time in the wrestling world and according to Margulies, he considered it one of his greatest accomplishments in his career. Now more than two decades later both of Kaufman’s wrestling classic films are being released on DVD, completely uncut, and packed with bonus features.

It all begins with My Breakfast with Blassie, originally released in 1983. The one hour film see’s Kaufman hop a Hollywood bus en route to a rendez vous with the one and only “King of Men” Freddie Blassie. The two sit down for breakfast in a real life restaurant and discuss life in what is often described as a classic piece of performance art. The footage which was shot over a quarter century ago does show some signs of aging but holds up well enough to be featured on DVD, while the audio is still well intact.

The driving force behind this DVD is the strength of it’s bonus features. For My Breakfast with Blassie, we begin with lost and deleted footage from the film. Director Johnny Legend introduces the 50 plus minutes of footage, which includes alternate takes, outtakes, and raw footage of the shoot. You get to see actual interaction between Kaufman and the crew, and you get a feel  for just how much Kaufman cared about the film.

This is followed up by a feature called “Blassie Graffiti“, It begins with some classic 1960’s black and white footage of Blassie from something called Wrestling Workouts. A interview and short match is shown, which is then followed by director Johnny Legend introducing the footage of Blassie’s match with Ricky Dozan where he lost the world title. Legend then introduces highlights of the Blassie Cage match with Jon Voulis from Los Angeles. The featurette completes with footage of Freddie Blassie shortly before his death, he is at a independent wrestling show, mid ring, singing his infamous pencil neck geek theme song.

A featurette on the director Johnny Legend is next which begins with an appearance on the Art Reiner TV show talking about his relationhip with Andy Kaufman. This is followed by some 1960’s footage of Freddie Blassie hanging out on the beach with some wrestling friends and Johnny Legend. This featurette wraps up with a look in at Legend’s wrestling career as a manager as he lays down a challenge live on the Jon Stewart show, and highlights of the resulting match is then shown.

The plentiful extras continue on with footage from the film’s Hollywood premiere, a photo gallery, and as if that wasn’t enough, it wraps up with a half hour  discussion between co creators Johnny Legend and Linda Lautrec which was filmed shortly before the release of the man on the moon film. The pair discuss the making of the Breakfast with Blassie.

Moving onto Disc 2, Lynne Margulies who is the writer and director of Im From Hollywood provides an introduction to the documentary explaining how the video came about, why Kaufman wanted to make it, and just how much it meant to him.

Celebrities getting involved in wrestling has been seen numerous times over the years but none that I recall got to the level than that of Andy Kaufman.  The feud he had with Jerry Lawler came at a time where kayfabe was still alive and well, people thought it was real. This documentary gives you some prime examples of that as news footage reporting he had been sent to the hospital as a result of a Lawler’s piledriver leads it off and the next hour not only chronicles a legendary feud but also a remarkable career that Kaufman led.  Andy wasn’t politically correct nor did he care to be, his challenges and insults toward women pushed the limits at a time where the idea of being politically correct was only starting to be accepted. Jerry Lawler would eventually poke his nose into Kaufman’s business defending the women Lawler was insulting and assaulting, and this would lead to the feud between the big Hollywood star and the Memphis wrestling legend. It’s wrestling gold from there on, and in my opinion something every wrestling fan should see. Much like breakfast with Blassie the video footage shows its age at times but the audio is still clear.

There is also a plethora of DVD Extras for Im From Hollywood. A feature length commentary from the afformentioned Lynne Margulies kicks it off.  Margulies, who acquired much of Kaufman’s possessions following his passing is also able to offer up some very intriguing pieces for the rest of the extras, including scans of actual letters and photos Kaufman received during his open challenge to women from across the country. Also two full length matchups between Lawler is Kaufman with boxing stipulations are offered both with original audio and alternate commentary.

We then wrap up with a 35 minute Q & A session with Jerry Lawler and Lynne Margulies following a screening of Im from Hollywood at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian theater on November 6th 2007. It is moderated by See No Evil writer Dan Madigan. Lawler gives a lot of insight into exactly how the feud came about and how and why Vince McMahon turned it down at the time.

For the wealth of extras alone this DVD is well worth the 24.98 suggested price tag. Add to that the chance to put these Kaufman classics into your wrestling DVD collection allowing you to relive them time and time again, to me it makes this DVD an absolute must buy. Thank you very much! (for reading)

Andy Kaufman’s My Breakfast with Blassie / Im From Hollywood Special Commemorative Edition will be available on DVD on May 12th. For more information check out www.videoservicecorp.com or pre order your copy from Amazon, Highspots or wherever you buy your wrestling DVD’s.

h1

Film Review : 12 Rounds starring John Cena

March 28, 2009
12-round-b-1-sheet_web
Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com
Leading up to the release of 12 Rounds starring John Cena the WWE refused to screen the film for film critics. Similar treatments were given to their previous film’s however See No Evil premiered at film festivals before it was wide released and thus fans got a chance to know what to expect. For 12 rounds we instead faced a barrage of promo’s and commercials on WWE television trying to convince their dwindling number of marks to show up in droves in hopes of this not being another one of their films “Condemned” to major financial loss. A review in the Herald Sun in Australia called the film “a big dumb lug of an action movie fronted by a big dumb lug named John Cena” and went on to say acting was no friend of the professional wrestler. Despite this I decided to head out and watch the film and although its far from being a smash hit, its not as bad as those at the Herald has made it out to be. For those wondering there are no major spoilers in my review, there is some details on how the story forms but nothing that would ruin the movie for you so please feel free to read on.    

I arrived at the theater while the previews were rolling and took a quick look around couting about 15 to 20 heads in the large Montreal theater I was watching the film in. With the way the cinema industry is nowadays I was not too surprised but I thought more Cena marks would of shown up that 15. Irregardless the film begins as the FBI is in the middle of an attempted capture of crafty criminal named Miles Jackson, who has eluded the FBI’s reach for years. It does not take long for the action to get going, the opening 15 minutes of the film is pretty much a non stop blitz of chasing action. Cena, who is a local police officer in the lower 9 of New Orleans eventually plays a major role in the capture of the criminal, but not without the casualty of the Jackson’s accomplice. It’s because of this that Jackson (played by Aidan Gillen) swears that he will get revenge. Flash forward a year later and Cena’s character is now a detective of the New Orleans Police department, and his life quickly spirals into hell when he gets the call from Jackson informing him that he has escaped from prison, and has just kidnapped Cena’s girlfriend, and if he wants to have any chance of seeing her again he has to enter a game of 12 deadly rounds through the city of New Orleans.

Running an hour and 48 minutes the film is definitely action packed. Most action films will have its spurts of action followed by a slow down but 12 Rounds almost never takes a breather. It’s evident that the WWE wanted to keep the viewers on the edge of their seat and if you’re an action mark then the action itself will not let you down. Of course there is those moments where you say to yourself what you just saw is impossible, but much like watching wrestling you need to suspend your beliefs every once in a while and let it slide.

The acting on the other hand is a whole other barrel of monkeys. Much like The Marine this film is made by the strong performance of the villain. Aidan Gillen’s character is sophisticated and twisted. Your likely to remember his performance more than anything. Meanwhile John Cena’s performance, while not horrible, is nothing special either. I feel as though they went to great stretches to make sure that Cena’s character stay typical to avoid any sort of major criticism, but in the end it caused him to be outshined by Gillen.

Ultimately I would call this a “wait for the DVD” movie. The film is unlikely to rake it in from the box office numbers but is likely to move a decent amount of DVD’s and while some may question why the WWE would even bother to continue putting out theatrical releases instead of straight to DVD, as long as it breaks even with DVD sales it really doesn’t matter what the critics say.

12 Rounds starring John Cena is in theaters now. For more information check out http://www.12rounds-movie.com

h1

DVD Review : You Shoot with Kevin Sullivan

March 9, 2009

DVD Review : You Shoot with Kevin Sullivan

Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com

The You Shoot DVD series has become so wildly popular that not only has it become apparent that the producers have trouble getting in all the submissions in the allotted time, but even wrestling stars are stepping in to submit questions. This time around the bookerman Kevin Sullivan is in the hot seat facing the barrage of questions, many out of this world, others more obvious, and of course the Benoit tragedy.

This is the third DVD produced by KC featuring Sullivan, the previous 2 covering the end of WCW and fantasy booking the WWF in 1984. This is also the 5th entry in the You Shoot series which has seen a lot of wackiness, and coming off of insane editions with the likes of Sandman and Jamie Dundee, Sullivan is a welcome toning down.

As with previous editions of You Shoot the submissions come from a wide array of characters. The problem here being that as the series continues to grow in popularity, so does some of the poor submissions. Numerous times in this DVD there are questions that are unintelligible and thus have to be skipped over wasting a minute of time as Sullivan either doesn’t know what the hell the individual is talking about or just cant understand a word they are saying. A tip for those out there submitting videos, speak up and at least try to make some sense! Making a joke is one thing, throwing a character into it is another, but saying things that make absolutely no sense is counterproductive. That being said, this edition of You Shoot still contains some entertaining topics and answers. It’s the first that features submissions from other wrestlers, as Missy Hyatt, Nikolai Volkoff, and the Iron Sheik all submit questions.

It was quite obvious that when Sullivan was announced as the featured participant in this edition of You Shoot that a million questions about the Benoit tragedy were going to be submitted. Host Sean Oliver smartly rolls all the questions up into one big ugly ball and allows Sullivan to speak his piece, and for the most part he like many others have, criticizes how the situation was handled by the media and shares some insight on how it affected the rest of the families. Other topics covered include the dungeon of doom and everything WCW, including of course the infamous “feud” between Sullivan and Brian Pillman who coined the phrase bookerman while working the boys in the back leading up to the memorable “shoot” on PPV between the pair.

Also You Shoot’s trademark games return as Sullivan ranks the best bookers of all time, play’s what in the bag and assumes the role of rumour killer as he distinguishes between what infamous wrestling rumours he believes and thinks is total BS. Overall another strong entry from Kayfabe Commentaries who are promising to continue to revolutionize the wrestling dvd market this year with new series featuring big name wrestling stars heading back to ringside to watch and relive some of their biggest matches of their careers, as well as starting a lengthy year by year review of the history of the WWE hosted by a big name star of the time.

You Shoot with Kevin Sullivan is now available on DVD. For more information or to order your own copy check out kayfabecommentaries.com