Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Death Warrant (1990)

Director: Deran Sarafian

Writer: David S Goyer (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robert Guillaume, Cynthia Gibb, George Dickerson, Art LaFleur, Patrick Kilpatrick

 

Plot: In a violent and corrupt prison, decorated cop Louis Burke must infiltrate the jail to find answers to a number of inside murders. What he finds is a struggle of life and death tied in to his own past.


Tagline – In “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” he won it all, now there are no rules, no escape, and NOBODY’S playing games!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Film

 

Story: Death Warrant starts as we meet the Canadian detective Louis Burke (Van Damme) who has tracked down serial killer The Sandman (Kilpatrick) who killed his partner. 16 months later Burke is assigned to go undercover inside a prison to solve a string of murders coming from within it.

Inside the prison Burke learns who to trust with Hawkins (Guillaume) being someone he wants to trust, the warden Sergeant DeGraf (LaFleur) having a strict rule through the prison and the gangs running the riots in shadows. Burke uses all his fighting skills to stay alive and solve the murders in a style only he could.

 

Thoughts on Death Warrant

 

Characters – Burke is the determined never say die attitude cop that gets assigned to go undercover in a prison to solve a series of murders happening inside. He must fight to survive against all enemies wanting to kill him. Hawkins is the ears to ground prisoner that Burke wants to work with, he has his own problems with the racial divide within the prison too. Amanda is the rookie agent that assigned to work with Burke from the outside, this is a big case for her and she learns a lot from working with Burke.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is the star of the film, we are only invested because we want to see him kick ass and he does that. The rest of the cast fit their roles which is good without any of them trying to out shine the star.

StoryThe story is a good simple story to follow, it is a cop going undercover to figure out who is behind a string of murders only to find himself uncovering something much bigger. We know the story isn’t going to be the main focus here which is fine, but it does give us enough time to keep guessing about where the film will end up going.

Action/Crime/MysteryVan Damme brings the action we want to see as he fights the countless amounts of enemies in search for the truth. There is a crime mystery to be solved but this can take the back burner to watching Van Damme fight.

SettingsVan Damme side of the story is inside the prison which is good as we see how he must doubt everyone on all sides, anything outside the prison does solve part of the mystery but is largely forgettable.


Scene of the Movie –
Burke versus the Sandman the final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We could have more focus on the crime story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical easy to watch Van Damme movie, lacking the story but is full of the action that entertains.

 

Overall: Easy to watch throughout.

Rating

 

 

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Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Nicholas Pileggi (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorrain Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow

 

Plot: The story of Henry Hill and his life through the teen years into the years of mafia, covering his relationship with wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVitto in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic but Not for Me

 

Story: Goodfellas starts as Henry Hill tells us all about why he wants to be a gangster from a young age, we learn how he got a chance in his early teenage ages, where he made more money that his father and after spending his time in jail he is all grown up. Henry (Liotta) works with Tommy DeVito (Pesci) under the James Conway (De Niro) who all answer to Paul Cicero (Sorvino).

Henry rising up the ranks has built himself a reputation and once he starts dating Karen (Bracco) who becomes his wife. When Tommy murders a high-ranking member of the Mafia James and Henry help him cover it up as they continue to build their reputation. This is the rise and fall of Henry Hill as the truth about his identity comes outs.

 

Thoughts on Goodfellas

 

Characters/PerformanceHenry Hill is telling us the story, he is quiet man who wants to be a gangster, we follow his story as he rose the ranks in the Mafia, we see how far he goes and what he needs to do to clean up the mess he finds him in. James or Jimmy is the top ranked of the three, he makes the deals and makes sure everyone stays in line. Tommy is the hot head that shots first always leaving the others in danger.

Performance wise, De Niro is great in what is a supporting role in a genre he is brilliant in. Liotta is the star of the show and is fantastic through the whole film. Joe Pesci gives one of the most iconic gangster performances of all time here.

StoryThe story of one man’s life inside the Mafia is always interesting but the reality is it can only be seen a number of times before we know how it will all unfold. Yes, this is one of the most popular of all time but I do feel it is just fine for a non-gangster film fan.

CrimeThe crime world we enter into is everything we would have come to expect and it is easily the strong point of the film.

SettingsThe settings all fit the time the film is set in showing the environment the characters are in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic and I can see all the good points about the film but it just isn’t a film I will want to watch again.

 

Overall: This is a classic of the genre.

Rating

 

 

Julia Roberts Weekend – Pretty Woman (1990)

Director: Garry Marshall

Writer: J.F. Lawton (Screenplay)

Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo, Hector Elizondo

 

Plot: A man in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a beautiful prostitute he meets… only to fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Romantic Classic

 

Story: Pretty Woman starts as we see the worlds both businessman Edward (Gere) and prostitute Vivian (Robert) comes from before they meet when as Edward is looking for company. As the time spent together continues Edward wants to keep Vivian around, so much that she would be his date for a business meeting.

While Edward works, he leaves Vivian to shop in the high end of Beverly Hills where she gets treated differently to start with but open with arms wide open once they learn that she has money to spend. The more time they spend together the more they start to fall in love but could anything between these two work out.

 

Thoughts on Pretty Woman

 

Characters/PerformanceEdward is the ruthless businessman, divorced and dumped looking for some company. He hires Vivian to keep him company through the business dealings to keep the love out of the relationship while completing to deal. Vivian is a prostitute that finds herself in a world she is too smart to be part off but it is her only option. She accepts the offer from Edward getting to live a life she never imagined for a week and her shock at each situation comes off genuine throughout.

Performance wise, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are fantastic here, with Roberts edging the pure quality coming from her performance through the film. the rest of the cast are only in a couple of scenes and are great throughout too.

StoryThe story is mostly about two people from different worlds coming together and falling in love. Yes, this story does show how both the characters could face a change in their lives, Vivian a life off the streets, Edward that not everything is about being ruthless. While most people focus on the love side of the story I liked the change Edward goes through.

Romantic/ComedyThe romantic side of the film is something everyone knows and looks at as one of the iconic moments in the history of film. we have moments of comedy that come from Vivian’s reactions to the high life.

SettingsThe settings are important because it shows how different the two characters come from, the look that Vivian goes through thanks to the settings show how she never imagined this life being.

Final ThoughtsThis will always go down in history as one of the iconic romantic films in film history.

 

Overall: Romantic film for the ages.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – Flatliners (1990)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Writer: Peter Filardi (Screenplay)

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott

 

Plot: Five medical students experiment on “near death” experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives.


Tagline – Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Sci-Fi Horror

 

Story: Flatliners starts as medical student Nelson (Sutherland) brings together four other students, recently suspended David Labraccio (Bacon), Dr Rachel Mannus (Roberts) who is interested in what happens in the afterlife, Dr Hurley (Baldwin) an arrogant soon to be married womaniser and Randy Steckle (Platt) who is the most paranoid about the experiment. The five work on the idea of trying to figure out what happens in the afterlife by medically creating death for a moment in time.

When Nelson goes first he only goes for a minute and he starts having living nightmares, but the success of his trip leads to a bidding war between the others who dive into longer stretches on the other side but when they come back they also start suffering nightmares from their past, is this experiment immoral or are they really just losing their minds?

 

Thoughts on Flatliners

 

Characters – Nelson is the visionary medical student that believes he has found a way to search the afterlife with near death experiences, he brings the team of students together to work his experiment but isn’t ready for the side effects which haunt him. Dr Rachel Mannus has been working with her patience to understand and ease them into the next life but joins the study so she can experience it herself. David Labraccio is a best medical student but gets himself in trouble because of his actions, he joins the study as the sceptic to an afterlife but seems to be the smartest when dealing with any potential consequences. Joe is the womaniser that is due to get married, we don’t learn too much more from him other than that he isn’t the strongest moral compass. Randy is the one that doesn’t go under, he refuses to go under but will do the right thing to keep the team alive. The ones that go under must deal with their pasts which have come back to haunt them in a new deadly way.

PerformancesIn the performances we have three of the hottest actors of the late 80s and early 90s, Kiefer Sutherland is great in the leading role of this film being the questionable morale guy. Julia Roberts as the strong independent co-lead shows the skills she had while Kevin Bacon brings all the screen presence he had at that time for the good moral character. William Baldwin and Oliver Platt do both make great supporting performances too.

StoryThe story here offers up the question of is there life after death and if you were to come back how would that effect your life. This is a question that still gets asked today because there is no proven proof of what is on the other side which does make this film still stand the test of time. I am unsure of the medical accuracy of this film but that isn’t the most important because by the end it plays into the idea of people needing to learn about overcoming their sins to be able to pass over. The story does have a good pace about it even if Joe and Randy do fall out of the bigger picture for the second half of the film.

Horror/Sci-FiImagine your greatest sin come back to haunt you, it could be anything and this is where this film shines on the horror scale. The sci-fi elements come from the idea of being able to see into the afterlife.

SettingsThe settings show us the underworld like location for the experiment to take place in and the different backgrounds the students have all come from.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the movie did get an Oscar nomination and you can see why, they still do hold up today.


Scene of the Movie –
The first nightmare shows us what we are going to be getting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me What hospital lets this amount of equipment get borrowed or go missing.

Award Nominations: Nominated for One Oscar

Box Office: $61 Million

Budget: $26 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is one of my favourite films, it does give us a chance to experience moral questions about life and death as well as offering us the idea of what could happen if we don’t learn to forgive ourselves for our previous sins.

 

Overall: Horror film that horror fans must re-visit.

Rating

 

 

Presumed Innocent (1990)

posterDirector: Alan J Pakula

Writer: Frank Pierson, Alan J Pakula (Screenplay) Scott Turow (Novel)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, Greta Scacchi, John pencer, Joe Grifasi

 

Plot: When a female D.A. is killed, the D.A. assigns his assistant to handle the investigation. Only problem is that he was having an affair with her. And the evidence reveals that he is the killer. So he suspects that the man who wants his boss’ job is trying to frame him. He turns to Sandy Stern a highly celebrated defense attorney to represent him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Courtroom Drama

 

Story: Presumed Innocent starts when Carolyn Polhemus (Scacchi) an assistant D.A. attorney is killed the D.A. Raymond Horgan (Dennehy) assigns chief deputy Rusty Sabich (Ford) to investigate a case that doesn’t make sense for the cases Carolyn takes part in.

When the case gets complicated it is her past with Rusty that doesn’t make the case easy for him to investigate as what seems like a rape case could turn out to be set to look like a rape case pointing the finger at one of the criminals she had put away.

When Rusty becomes the main suspect for the murder and must turns to his courtroom rival Alejandro ‘Sandy’ Stern (Julia) to take on the D.A. office who have all turned on Rusty using his previous affair as the main motive for the murder.

 

Thoughts on Presumed Innocent

 

Characters/PerformanceRusty is a very questionable character, he has had an affair which takes away any respect you could have for him even if he is a brilliant attorney, Sandy you can see as a brilliant attorney in his own right that goes out of his way to get the case in his direction which is good to see playing about what could be considered the disgraced attorney. Raymond the D.A. does feel like your typical political figure that abuses their power as often as they like.

Performance wise everything is good but not their best work no one does anything that stands out and by the end you don’t think this will be a memorable role for the iconic Harrison Ford or Raul Julia.preumed

StoryI am usually a fan of a good courtroom drama as they can pull us in until the final outcome of the crime. This story flows very slowly with a court cast that does feel like you could see solved with ease. I felt this story just doesn’t pull us in enough to care about the case mainly because our defendant isn’t painted to be the most respectable character in the first place so we just don’t care who if he is innocent or not.

Mystery/ThrillerWe get a mystery but we don’t get many suspects for the crime which disappoints the thrilling side as we don’t get a chance to figure out who could be behind the crime.

SettingsWe have the traditional courtroom settings that show us just how most of the suspects would have understood just how to cover up murders with ease.genre

Final ThoughtsThis just doesn’t capture us like the other courtroom dramas and then could have been a lot more intense.

 

Overall: A Courtroom drama that just doesn’t hit all the levels it could.

Ratingrating