With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. Let’s grab some popcorn, covered in enough butter to clog a rampaging bull elephant’s arteries, sit our fat asses down on the couch, pop some dusty, smelly old VHS tapes into the VCR and have our collective brains melted by some good, old-fashioned B-movie goodness.
Back in the day, also known as the cesspool called the 1980s, a wonderful little invention referred to by the sages of the time as “Home Video” was creating quite a stir in the movie industry.
Starring Michael Dudikoff, a Calvin Klein model turned actor, American Ninja features just the right amount of cheese mixed with seriousness for this kind of flick.
If one could sum up the entire 1980s in one word it would have to be “ninjas”; those bastards were everywhere.
Directed by Sam Firstenberg, in his first of many collaborations with Dudikoff, American Ninja is a grade-A B-movie. The great thing about American Ninja is that the story doesn’t feel like a one-off, there’s some world building going on and you can tell the producers had an eye toward making sequels to this thing.
Starring soap opera mainstray Paul Satterfield, Arena is one of those hidden gems decorating bargain bins at your local media store. Yep, it’s the classic underdog story, with a futuristic twist, complete with training montages, evil promoters and a sassy female trainer. Acting is strong throughout best B-movie masterpiece, with many sci-fi vets putting in good performances. The story is all well and good but it’s the surprisingly awesome creature effects and make-up for all of Armstrong’s alien competitors that really puts Arena over the top. If you were a kid in the ’80s, Jean Claude Van Damme’s magnum opus Bloodsport was the subject of many schoolyard discussions between you and your prepubescent friends: “Like, dude!
Bloodsport not only launched JCVD’s career, but it also gave rise to a metric ton of imitators. Van Damme stars as Frank Dux, a so-called ex-black ops operative, ninja, mercenary, and, as it later turned out, all-around fraud. While producers Yoram Globus and Mehahem Golan, along with their Cannon Group studio, were the uncontested kings of direct-to-video action movies, (American Ninja, later entries in the Death Wish series, many Chuck Norris features) it was Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment that ruled the roost when it came to horror movies.
Merchandise for the murderous puppets was everywhere for a while, with everything from comic books to card games to actual puppets. Another Charles Band production, this time directed by the man himself, Trancers is another gem worth reminiscing over. In the near future, Thomerson plays cop Jack Deth (I guess Rocky McGrimm was taken), who hunts the titular villains, zombie-like pawns of a hypnotic criminal mastermind named Whistler.
The movie won’t win any points for originality, replacing Terminators with Whistler and Replicants with Trancers. Trancers spawned several sequels, each diluting the original’s to-the-wall commitment of making as enjoyable a movie as possible, you simply can’t beat the first movie for sheer B-movie thrills.
The star-system was pronounced dead by almost everyone, but as of the moment of writing everyone is talking about Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and she made the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously. A leader of La Eme (pronounced em-MAY), a prison born Mexican-American gang so powerful it’s often described as the Mexican Mafia, is trying to explain to a federal prosecutor why the group would target one of its own members for assassination. La Eme places an emphasis on image and honor that may seem absurd to some, but is no laughing matter to its members.
Within four years of the release of American Me, members of La Eme were on trial for the murders of the three individuals involved with the movie (and for four other homicides as well), creating a moment in moviemaking history where the line between life and art has become a messy blur. The Mexican Mafia got its start as the memory of the Zoot Suit Riots still raged in the minds of Los Angeles’ Latinos.
About ten years later, fighting against their status as a minority on the streets and in prison, incarcerated Latinos made a bid for power where they had had none. Back in the 1970s, however, when Mutrux first scripted American Me, he saw Cheyenne Cadena’s attempt to organize Latinos as a noble quest for honor at a time when prejudice ruled. In fact the same Olmos inserted scenes that infuriate Mutrux also apparently angered La Erne.
TAYLOR HACKFORD-who directed Blood In Blood Out (also known as Bound by Honor), another film that originated from a Mutrux script and has similar themes-does not share the screenwriter’s vehemence. IN TRUTH, THE ACTUAL links between the three well-publicized deaths and American Me seem somewhat tenuous. Services, an agency bent on steering kids away from the gangs, she had taken a four-month leave to work on the film.
Still, the idea that La Eme retaliated with murder because of the film remains firmly lodged in the minds of many in Hollywood. It is possible that Olmos, who is known for his attempts to reach youths, may have risked La Erne’s wrath in order to try to deter gang involvement.
Olmos is not the first to face consequences for controversial thematic material: There are rumors that Francis Ford Coppola was threatened by the Italian Mafia because of TheGodfather, and the death threats leveled against Martin Scorsese by religious-right extremists for The Last Temptation of Christ were widely reported.
Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Although updated daily, all theaters, movie show times, and movie listings should be independently verified with the movie theatre. Puedes escribir una crA­tica de esta pelA­cula para que el resto de los usuarios la pueda leer. Si alguna sinopsis cuenta demasiados detalles del argumento -o para corregir errores o completar datos de la ficha- por favor mA?ndanos un mensaje. Okay kids, TNMC is giving you a shot at winning some cool goodies in connection with this western.
In case your connection doesn't do a particularly good job with streaming media, the trailer is now available in QuickTime format for your downloading pleasure. A newer and far better trailer is now available for this summer western full of hot young stars like Colin Farrell, Ali Larter and Scott Caan. The movie's release has been delayed to avoid competition with the James Van Der Beek western Texas Rangers which arrives April 6th.

If there's one thing that's certain in Hollywood it's that you should never attempt to learn history from the movies. Disclaimer: Unless citing a specific media source, all news items should be regarded as rumor.
A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3a€™s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.
Scheduled for today’s curricular is a fascinating journey through the collected works of Poe and Shakespeare. Small studios, such as Cannon or Full Moon Entertainment, could now produce cheaply made films for a new market. Every trip to the local rent-a-flick was an adventure with hidden treasures at the bottom of every rack in the store (some of them the best b-movies on offer, some of them not so much).
A time when the word “Ninja” was slapped on every box, when sweaty dudes with broadswords hoped to become the next Conan and nubile young women were menaced by the killer du jour. Dudikoff is Joe Armstrong, an amnesiac soldier stationed on a tropical island just trying to get by until… NINJAS ATTACK!
You couldn’t scan a single shelf at the local video store without stumbling across half a dozen tapes with the word ninja in the title, which only goes to prove my theory that the ’80s were the coolest decade in the history of ever. Budget limitations hurt the flick’s overall scale, but the actors were clearly having fun and more or less seemed to be taking the whole thing seriously, which is a big boon if you’re making a movie this dripping with the buttery stuff. Joe Armstrong is a strong enough hero with a cool enough origin story to warrant a franchise. Here’s a story that would have worked just as easily in theaters as on video: In the distant future, MMA matches will be fought exclusively by aliens.
This one guy gets his kneecap shattered and this one guy does the splits and punches this sumo dude in the nards!
The martial-arts tournament genre literally exploded overnight, birthing Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s never-ending Bloodfist franchise on one end and superior products like Loren Avedon’s King Of The Kingboxers on the other. But whether you believe the real-life Dux’ many lies concerning his background and achievements is to miss the point. Rising from the financial ashes of the defunct Empire Pictures, Full Moon prided themselves on two things: superb yet practical special effects and a wide array of imaginative critters.
The original 1989 hit is a straight-forward horror flick, with a collection of psychics led by Paul Le Mat, of American Grafitti fame, investigating strange occurrences at an abandoned cliffside hotel. Starring gravel-faced Tim Thomerson, veteran of more B-movies than most of his contemporaries combined, and a pre-fame (not to mention pre-plastic surgery) Helen Hunt, Trancers is a blatan rip-off of James Cameron’s The Terminator but does just enough things differently to warrant a viewing. Shades of Blade Runner abound, from Deth’s trenchcoat to his time spent chasing creatures that can pass as human.
The only truly original element the movie introduces is a handy little digital watch that allows Deth to stretch 1 second of time into 10 seconds, allowing him to dodge a bullet or make a quick getaway.
In another life, Thomerson would have been a much bigger actor, he commits every ounce of his charisma to bringing Deth to life, giving him a mix of Chandler-esque gravitas with a pinch of Bruce Campbell-like wiseass. According to this accused murderer, the target in question was in a fight with police when he did something that, by La Eme standards, is utterly unforgivable: He cried. Mess with either, as some say actor-director Edward James Olmos did when he made the 1992 movie American Me, and you’re looking for trouble.
Utilizing the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute normally reserved for organized crime cases, the federal government began presenting its case against the accused-twelve alleged La Eme kingpins and one associate-on November 19, 1996, in a trial that proceeded through a very hot summer. Attorney’s office nor Olmos will say if he will take the stand against the organization he cinematically confronted, but references to American Me are present throughout the latest indictment document. A youth spent in the heavily Latino neighborhoods of East Los Angeles instilled in him a Chicano identity that he expressed through a fierce command of the language, the  customs, and the culture. The group had become so formidable that it was able to wield its power outside the penal institutions.
Early in the film, the character named Santana, a barely veiled Cadena, is sodomized at  knifepoint. But he does agree that American Me violated La Erne’s number-one credo, thus creating the potential for reprisals. Although the court documents indicting alleged La Eme members linked her involvement in American Me with her murder, prosecutors took a different tack during the early portion of the trial. Rocky Luna was shot to death, also at Ramona Gardens, on August 7, 1993, about a year and a half after the movie came out.
His activism is a defining part of his character: He constantly visits schools, counseling at-risk teens against violence. One of the most famous instances, of course, is the fatwa pronounced against author Salman Rushdie. His biceps are as bulky as state-fair hams and they are tatooed with the storyboard of your worst nightmare.
Recently on Kickstarter, AJ Meadows began his campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary for production. In the course of their vendetta, they will become the object of the biggest manhunt in the history of the Old West. We shall, my faithful readers, endeavor to articulate in both words and with the use of interpretive dance the hidden meaning behind the great masterpieces of these legendary authors.
Gather around children and this old-timer will explain to you why you’re all a bunch of brain-dead DVD addicts. Most often shot in foreign countries, with names that would give you aneurysms if you tried spelling them, and intended to stay in theaters only a short while before landing in that brand new video store down the street, the cheesy drive-through movies of yesterday were now the direct-to-video movies of the era.
Throw in a memorable sidekick in the form of ’80s movie staple Steve James as the truly badass Curtis Jackson, a catchy score, and the best action sequences available for a picture this size and you end up with one of the best B-movies that is just this close to being on par with major Hollywood productions of the time. Humans are considered too frail to compete without getting their soft human entrails spilled, fighters now only include massive quadrupeds, thick-skinned monsters and the occasional cybernetic creation. Arena is basically Rocky in space, our hero will need to fight several matches, each against a stronger opponent, until finally making his way to the reigning champion, Horn, in a fight to the finish!

It’s hard not to find yourself cheering during the movie’s final fight, as Armstrong overcomes cheating from the opposing team and wins it all for humanity! It was awesome!” Yes, back in the day we used to actually converse with each other instead of texting till our thumbs bled.
Even after all these years, Bloodsport still reigns supreme, towering over all its imitators, featuring a superior story, better performances and a memorable villain. At the time, we were willing to swallow the myth that a white guy could train under a wise Japanese martial arts master and subsequently compete in the ultimate underground fighting championship that, strangely enough, nobody seems to have ever heard of. From Doll Man to the Demonic Toys, Full Moon horror movies always had visually interesting protagonists or antagonists. Sequels would further explore the origin of the puppets, from World War II all the way back to ancient Egypt. Helen Hunt defies genre conventions by playing her girlfriend role not as a damsel in distress but as a tough chick, along for the ride. When Olmos chose to do away with the typical romanticism associated with Hollywood’s depiction of gangsters, celluloid and the real world crashed and burned. Cadena educated himself while in prison, and became a fierce proponent of Chicano empowerment and cultural unity.
He was also well steeped in violence-his first trip to prison came at age 16, for murdering the husband of his 32-year-old lover with a tire iron and burying the man in a shallow grave in Malibu. Many years later, when Santana is released from prison, he experiences sexual dysfunction, and in the middle of making love with his girlfriend he flips her over and begins to sodomize her. One thing is certain, he was no innocent bystander, although he allegedly had once been a dominant La Eme leader, he had become an intravenous drug user and petty criminal-s-hardly the image of a La Eme warrior. But even if La Erne’s members are not guilty of murderous, movie-motivated retribution, the trial once again exposes the ugly conspiracy of powerlessness and violence that often exists in certain parts of the Latino community something Olmos had tried to address in American Me. As their fame grows, so will the legend of their leader, a young outlaw by the name of Jesse James. Yes, silliness abounds throughout the movie, but it’s shot and acted with such enthusiasm that you can’t really help but play along.
But Steve Armstrong isn’t letting a little bit of discrimination stop him from entering the Intergalactic Fighting Championship. Bloodsport was Mortal Kombat before MK was even in glimmer in Midway’s eye, complete with fatalities, fighters with unique personalities, and a fantastic end boss in the form of Bolo Yeung’s terrifying Chong Li.
While later entries in the saga deviated strongly from the tone and feel of the original, the first three chapters of the franchise make for worthwhile viewing and provide a strong, complete trilogy. Turns out Deth’s nemesis has managed to transplant his consciousness into the body of his ancestor and it’s up to Jack to do the time warp thing in order to bring this psychopath to justice. Hunt certainly seems to have enjoyed her experience shooting Trancers, despite her movie and TV career taking off she was a good enough sport to return for the next two sequels in cameo roles.
The perceived disrespect shown by scenes of sodomy and betrayal allegedly required La Eme to avenge its honor. After the violence subsided, the Los Angeles City Council proposed a law making it a misdemeanor to wear a zoot suit, further stripping the city’s Chicanos of their pride.
His final incarceration was for the murder of another man, and although he was considered the top man of the La Erne hierarchy, he succumbed to cancer before the antiracketeering trial could begin. At various points along the way, Al Pacino signed on, Lou Adler was expected to produce, and Hal Ashby became interested in directing. Her many years working among the gangs could easily have earned her enmity in the projects, totally separate from the film. Alexandra (Alex) Leopold and her co-writer Allison Anderson explore the aftermath of making those choices in their film Washed. First introduced in 1989’s Puppetmaster, Blade, Pinhead, Jester, Tunneler, Leech Woman, and their ilk would go on to star in a total of 10 movies, including a crossover  picture with Full Moon stable-mates Demonic Toys. They’re worth renting and are a good entry point into the wonderful world of Full Moon Entertainment.
Further solidifying Trancers‘ status as a Terminator knock-off, Whistler is planning to assassinate the future rulers of the world by snuffing out their great-great-great (several more greats)-grandfathers.
Olmos himself, the director, co producer, and star of the movie, reportedly responded by applying for a concealed- weapons permit and surrounding himself with bodyguards. His films often reflect this commitment, including his Oscar-nominated performance as a math teacher in Stand and Deliver. We, my followers, will deduce, induce, produce, and infuse our minds with the infinite possibilities provided us by these masters of the noble literary arts.
And… look, the ’80s had ninjas by the shit ton and that makes up for all those horrid fashion choices.
If you’ve never seen best B-movie classic, do so and you’ll understand why, for a brief moment in time, Jean Claude Van Damme was the topic of conversation in schoolyards across the country.
And Arturo Jimenez, a nineteen year- old with a bit part in American Me, was killed, again at Ramona Gardens-but this time it was a sheriff’s deputy rather than a gangster who wielded the gun.
But American Me was big-time-a $16 million opportunity for Olmos as an actor, producer, and director to try to make a difference, and interviews with him at the time of the movie’s release indicate that that was his intent. But officials saw no altruism in the move, calling it a bid to lessen police presence so that La Erne could increase its drug-trade profits unencumbered. This meant, whether calculatedly or not, hitting La Erne in its most vulnerable place: its pride.

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