movie, movie review, sci-fi, thriller

Flashback Review: May 12th, 2014 Movie – Blade Runner

blade runner

Sometimes, a classic movie will come along with most people not even realizing it and that was definitely the case with this movie. I remember seeing this on TV years ago when I was a kid and honestly not understanding one bit of what was going on, but liking the scenery and imagery in the movie. Years later, when I had another chance to watch it, I was actually impressed with the storytelling involved in the movie, though it would be a few years later that I read the Philip K. Dick novel the movie was based on. Any time this movie was on, I would try to watch it so it was only natural for me to give in and buy a copy of Blade Runner so that I could watch it whenever I want. Now I just have to stop myself from trying to buy a 4K Blu-Ray copy of it.

The plot: Early in the 21st century, the Tyrell Corporation created the next stage in advanced robotics called Replicants, robotic beings that were practically identical to humans. Intended for use off-world for planetary exploration and colonization, the Nexus 6 model was designed to have superior strength and agility, and equal intelligence to humans. When a rogue group of Replicants rebelled and attempted to overthrow a colony, Replicants were deemed illegal on Earth and a special police force, deemed Blade Runners, was created to kill them on detection. In Los Angeles, in November of 2019, a Blade Runner named Holden is administering the Voigt-Kampff test, a test designed to distinguish replicants from humans based on their emotional responses, to a man named Leon but as it commences, Leon kills him during the second question, as he is a replicant. Some time later, a retired Blade Runner named Rick Deckard is sitting down to eat at a street-side restaurant when two police officers appear and tell him he is under arrest, under orders from his former superior Bryant. Reluctantly going with the officers, Deckard is taken to police headquarters and Bryant tells him that he has 4 replicants that have somehow made it into the city. Deckard tells him he is retired and says to get Holden to do it but Bryant says he is dead and when Deckard goes to leave anyways, Bryant subtly threatens him to force him to say. As they watch the video of Holden’s death, Bryant explains that 6 replicants had initially escaped but 2 were killed during the attempt. Bryant then tells Deckard to kill Leon and the other three Replicants; Roy Batty, Zhora, and Pris. As these are newer models, Bryant wants Deckard to go to the Tydell Corporation and initiate the test on a Nexus 6 model. When he gets there, CEO Eldon Tydell wants to see the test fail and asks that he give it to his assistance Rachael. Deckard agrees and after a lengthy test, Tydell asks Rachael to leave the room. Deckard says she is a replicant and admits that it took longer than normal to make the determination. Tydell explains that Rachael was an experiment; giving her memories to form as a cushion to provoke some emotional responses. Leaving there, Deckard and Raff, the police officer assigned to drive him around, head to the hotel where Leon was staying at, unaware that Leon sees them from the street. Leon meets up with Batty, and the two go to see a man to find a way to beat the test. Meanwhile, Deckard returns to his home to find Rachael waiting for him outside his apartment. Inviting her in, the two talk for a while, with Rachael saying she isn’t a replicant and Deckard arguing she is but then feeling pity on her and telling her he was joking and she wan’t one. They continue talking, with Rachael trying to prove she is human by showing him a family photo but when Deckard says that it is Tydell’s niece’s memories, she gets upset and leaves. Meanwhile, Pris is wandering the street and decides to rest in an alley when she is startled by a cab driver named J.F. Sebastian. The two talk briefly and when he learns that she has no where to go, Sebastian offers to let her into his place. As they head inside, Sebastian tells her he lives alone except for his friends, toys that he creates. Later that night, Deckard is going over the photos he took of Leon’s hotel room and as he examines them, he finds a strange scale and has his computer print a physical copy of it. Deckard then tracks down the man who created the snake and is pointed in the direction of a club in Chinatown. After talking with the club owner but getting nowhere, Deckard calls Rachael and invites her there to have a drink with him but she refuses. As he sits at the bar drinking, Deckard hears an announcement for one of the acts and decides to question the performer after her show but she turns out to be Zhora and attempts to kill Deckard before making a run for it. Deckard chases after her and eventually kills her. As the police show up to retrieve the body, Deckard doesn’t notice Leon watching him in the crowd. Deckard goes to buy a drink but Raff shows up and escorts him to Bryant, who has added Rachael to the list of Replicants for him to kill. After Bryant leaves, Deckard spots Rachael in the crowd and starts to head towards her but Leon shows up and grabs him. As Leon begins beating Deckard, Deckard tries to shoot him but Leon knocks it from his hands and continues beating him. When Leon goes to kill Deckard, he is suddenly shot in the head by Rachael, who had grabbed Deckard’s gun. Deckard takes her back to his place and they share a drink while he discusses his “business”. When Rachael asks if he would come after her if she left town, Deckard tells her no and says that he owes her one for saving him. Exhausted from everything, Deckard lays down and starts to fall asleep but when Rachael begins playing a piano piece he wrote, he wakes up and talks to her some more and she goes to leave but he stops her and forces her to kiss him. Back at Sebastian’s apartment, Pris has changed her appearance and asks Sebastian what he thinks and he tells her that she is pretty. When she asks what is wrong with him, he tells her that he has Methuselah Syndrome, he is aging prematurely and unable to leave the planet. When Roy shows up and tells Pris that Leon and Zhora are dead. As Sebastian talks with them, he says that he sympathizes with them and offers to help them, as he is in contact with Tydell and plays remote chess with him. Tydell and Roy head to Tydell corporation and after getting permission to come up to Tydell’s penthouse, Sebastian introduces Roy to him. Roy wants Tydell to extend his life span beyond the 4 years that is programmed but Tydell says that it is impossible. When Roy talks about all of the things he has done, Tydell says that it isn’t important as he was intended for and had done great things but Roy ends up killing him. Seeing what happened, Sebastian heads for the elevator but Roy catches up to him and when the elevator reaches the ground floor, Roy is shown to be in it alone. Later, Deckard is told of Tydell and Sebastian’s death and heads to Sebastian’s home to check it out, having called first and gotten Pris on the vid-screen but she had quickly hung up. When he gets to Sebastian’s place, he heads inside and ends up ambushed by Pris, who pretends to be one of Sebastian’s creations. Deckard manages to kill Pris just as Roy returns and when he sees Deckard, he quickly leaps out of the way before Deckard can shoot him. Roy taunts Deckard before reaching through the wall and grabbing his gun hand, disarming him and breaking his fingers for revenge for his dead friends. As Roy continues to taunt him, Deckard tries to run from the building, eventually trying to jump over to the next building but he is unable to make it and ends up hanging onto a beam jutting from the roof. Roy makes the jump and stands over him gloating but when Deckard starts to fall, Roy grabs him and pulls him onto the roof. As Deckard backs away, Roy sits down and starts talking to him, as his body finally falls apart since he has reached the end of his lifespan. As Deckard recovers, Gaff appears and tosses him his gun but as he walks away, he says that it is too bad she won’t live, indicating Rachael. Deckard heads back to his apartment and finds Rachael asleep on his bed. Asking her if she trusts him and having her say yes, Deckard decides to leave with Rachael but as they leave, he notices an origami unicorn on the floor and remembering Gaff’s folding origami animals at Bryant’s office, Gaff’s words play back in Deckard’s head as they leave.

Blade Runner initially met with mixed reviews from the critics but since that time, has become highly praised, currently holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott’s mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.” Philip K. Dick only saw the first 20 minutes of footage before his death but he was impressed with it, saying tat they captured his interior world perfectly, even though director Ridley Scott and screenwriter David Webb Peoples had never red the novel their movie was based on.¬†Blade Runner¬†was a disappointment at the box office, earning $33.8 million off of a $28 million budget but would develop a cult following and influence numerous sci-fi movies, video games, anime, and TV series. This led to it being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1993 and 35 years later, a sequel would be released.

This is a fantastic movie and easily one of the best sci-fi movies to ever come out. The acting was great, with Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer doing fantastic jobs as Deckard and Roy respectively. I also liked Daryl Hannah as Pris but kind of thought that Sean Young was a little “meh” as Rachael. The story was different from the Philip K. Dick novel, with one of the main differences being that they don’t really mention the fact that almost all animals on Earth have died. However, the story in the movie, focusing on Deckard chasing down the replicants, was compelling enough on it’s own, especially if you facet in the philosophical argument as to whether the replicants were actually alive or not in terms of human life. Rutger Hauer’s ending soliloquy being especially poignant in that regard. The imagery and scenery in the movie were incredible and still hold up to this day. Definitely one of the must see movies in the sci-fi genre and in general.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, blaxploitation, crime, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: May 1st, 2014 Movie – Black Fist

black fist

As you can guess from the title, I have yet another example of blaxploitation to watch today. This is yet another movie that didn’t make much of an impact on me when I first watched it so I don’t really remember if I liked it or not. That is the problem with have a bunch of movies like I do, it can be hard to keep track of them all. I guess that is one good thing about this blog; I am able to write down my opinion so if I forget a certain movie, I can look back and see what I thought and if it is worth giving a second chance. Now, let’s get to watching Black Fist.

The plot: In Los Angeles, a street fighter named Leroy Fisk is brought before a man called Logan and told that he can fight for him. When Leroy starts to argue with Logan’s bodyguards, Logan arranges an exhibition match with one of his fighters called Moose. Leroy is able to knock Moose down and bloody him up some but Moose is able to grab him and start hammering on his ribs and kidneys until Leroy is unable to fight back. Later, Logan tells Leroy that he has some skill but needs to learn how to really street fight if he wants to work for him and sets him up with a trainer, Ira, to teach him how to properly street fight. Meanwhile, a crooked cop named Heineken approaches a man named Fleichman, who owes money to Heineken and his boss. Fleichman is short but says he can get the rest after his man’s next fight. Fleichman is speaking with Logan, who is interested in trimming his stable of fighters, and Fleichman offers a trade for Leroy against his fighter but Leroy ends up winning the match. Later, Fleichman tries to plead his case to Heineken’s boss but when he gets upset and refuses to pay the rest of the money he owes, Heineken’s boss orders Fleichman to be killed. Meanwhile, Leroy is using his newfound money to make life better for his wife Bea and their son but he is approached by Heineken, who tells him he can either start paying him off or he will arrest him for illegal street fights. After a couple of fights and having to pay Heineken part of his take, Leroy approaches Logan, upset about the situation, and Logan tells him he will take care of Heineken but it will take time. Later, Ira tells Leroy that Logan and Heineken are in on the scam together, which upsets Leroy. As Leroy mopes about the situation, his friend Fletch shows up, having heard about his troubles with Heineken, and gives Leory Heineken’s notebook, which he had stolen. Inside the notebook are all of the details about the money Heineken receives from Leroy and the other street fighters, as well as from prostitutes and what Logan receives as well. Leroy confronts Heineken with the book, who goes to Logan to discuss the situation and Logan says not to worry about Leroy. Some time later, Leroy calls Heineken and tells him to come to his place and when he gets there, Leroy shows him Fletch’s body, which was left there as a message for him. Leroy tells Heineken that he is done with the fights and has Heineken deal with the body, then goes to speak with Logan himself. Logan arranges a fight between Leroy and Moose but Leroy insists he increase his pay to $25,000, then he tells Bea that if he wins this fight he is done with Logan and his men and they can take the winnings and open the club that they want. Logan is betting heavily on Moose to win and, at his assurance of Moose’s victory, Logan’s boss bets $50,000 on Moose. Meanwhile, Leroy goes to see Big Henry and bets all the money he has saved up on himself to win but is warned that if he doesn’t win, he had better hope that Moose kills him during the fight. Leroy ends up winning his fight against Moose and buys the club and as he celebrates with Bea, her brother shows up. Leroy decides they should celebrate and they start to head out but Leroy is called back to deal with an issue with the club so he hands Bea’s brother his keys but when they get in the car, it explodes. Logan and his men are celebrating Leroy’s death but Heineken shows up and tells them that they didn’t kill Leroy, but his pregnant wife and her brother. Leroy secretly attends Bea’s funeral, then sends his son off with his aunt for safety. He then returns to town in disguise and begins beating up people to find out who killed Bea and when he finds out that Logan did it, he kills one of his bodyguards and then works on a plan to get to Logan. Heineken is told about the girl helping Leroy and he pays her a visit and when she refuses to tell him where Leroy is, he attempts to rape her but Leroy shows up and stops him. Leroy takes Heineken to a meat locker and ties him up on one of the hooks and leaves him there to freeze to death. Avon, Logan’s other bodyguard shows up at the home of Logan’s boss, Mr. Ingo, and tells him that he killed Logan and Ingo congratulates him and says he is promoted to Logan’s position, but then has him killed. Ingo then contacts Leroy and invites him to his place and when Leroy gets there, he shows Leroy Avon’s body. Ingo then says that he took care of Logan as well and that now they can be partners but Leroy realizes that he was the one that had Fletch killed. Ingo goes to shoot Leroy but Leroy struggles with him and ends up shooting Ingo be accident. As Leroy stares at the body, he is haunted by Bea’s voice warning him about associating with gangsters and as he stares at his reflection in the bathroom, he begins lashing out and punching the glass as he realizes he brought all this on himself.

This wasn’t too bad of a movie but it did get a little confusing at times. The acting was decent, with Richard Lawson (Leroy), Dabney Coleman (Heineken), and Robert Burr (Logan) doing good jobs in their roles. The story could have been told better, as they didn’t really get into Leroy’s motivation for fighting until almost halfway into the movie; you were basically left to think that it was a typical “grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and fighting was the only way he could make a living” plot. After his wife dies, the revenge aspect was ok but they kind of jumped around to different scenes so it was a little difficult to really keep track of what all was happening. The fight scenes were pretty good all around but there wasn’t really enough action to keep you interested and the pacing of the story honestly left you bored. It wasn’t bad but it’s not exactly something worth hunting after to watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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