exploitation, movie, movie review, thriller

March 23rd, 2018 Movie – Trip With The Teacher

trip with the teacher

It’s been a while since I have watched an exploitation movie and to be honest, it hasn’t been long enough. I mean, I know why these were so prolific in the 60’s and 70’s; they were cheap to make and able to be rotated into drive-ins rather quickly. Still, as far as movie genres go, they tend to be one of my least favorites. Anyways, today’s movie happens to be on two collections that I own, which I can take two ways. Either this is one of the rare good ones or it is absolute crap and they are just trying to get it out to as many viewers as possible. Well, let’s see what I have on my hands with today’s movie, Trip With The Teacher.

The plot: Miss Teeny is taking 4 of her students, Julie, Bobbie, Tina, and Pam, on a field trip out into the desert. Meanwhile, Al and his brother Pete are riding their motorcycles along the highway when Pete gets a flat tire. As Pete works on taking off the tire, another biker, Jay, pulls over and offers to help, saying he has a hand pump and patch kit. With the tire fixed, Al and Pete prepare to get back on the road and Jay rides with them to make sure the tire stays inflated. As they make their way down the road, they come across the school bus and the girls start waving at the bikers, with Jay showing off and trying to flirt with them. As the bus and bikes all pull into the service station, Jay starts talking and flirting with some of the girls as their bus driver, Marvin, has the station attendant fill up the tank and check the oil. As the bus drives off, the attendant fills up the motorcycles and Al takes offence at the old man’s attitude towards them. He tells Pete to go ahead and start their motorcycles while he goes in to pay but after paying, he uses the cover of the motorcycle engines to mask his releasing the jack and lowering the car the attendant is working on, crushing him to death. Out in the desert, the bus’s engine acts up and Marvin pulls over to take a look at it, saying he will flag someone down for help when a car passes by to get some help. The girls get off the bus and sit in the shade of some nearby trees but Pam and Bobbie start fighting over Bobbie’s promiscuity and Pam’s lack there of. As Miss Teeny tries to break up the fight, the three bikers catch up to them and pull over, catching everyone’s attention. Jay asks what the problem is and when Marvin explains that they are having engine trouble. Jay convinces Pete to take a look and he starts flirting with Julie while Al flirts with Bobbie. When Pete tells Marvin that they blew their fuel pump, Miss Teeny asks Al if they would be willing to ride to the next town and send some help. Al says they will if she lets Bobbie ride to town with him but Miss Teeny refuses, saying the girls are her responsibility. Marvin talks with the three bikers to try and ask for some help and Al doesn’t want to waste any time on them but Pete mentions a farmer working on a tractor nearby and says they can tow the bus there to see if he can help. Meanwhile, back at the gas station, a man pulls in and calls out for the attendant and when he sees him dead underneath the car, he calls the police. Back in the desert, Al, Pete, and Jay tow the bus towards an abandoned cabin and when Marvin asks what is going on, Al says he is leaving them there. When Miss Teeny hears this and argues with Al over bringing them to the middle of nowhere, she ends up slapping him and Al moves to hit her. Marvin stops him and the two end up fighting but Pete comes back on his motorcycle to help his brother. Al gets on his motorcycle and he and Pete chase down Marvin and Al runs him down, breaking his neck. Miss Teeny tries to attack Al and Jay and the girls pull her back while Pete keeps Al away. Pete and Al talk and Al says that he isn’t going back to prison and makes plans on what to do with Jay and the girls, with Pete reluctantly going along with his plan. Meanwhile, Jay goes to get a sheet to cover Marvin’s body and talks with Julie, saying that they are in trouble and they have to go along with what Al wants until they can get away or else he will probably kill them as well since they are witnesses. Al has everyone head into the cabin and once there, he has Bobbie take her clothes off. Jay tries to stop him but Al and Pete knock him out, then Al rips off Miss Teeny’s clothes. Al takes her into another room and prepares to rape her while Pete ties up Jay. After tying him up, Pete sits down next to the girls and starts kissing them but as Bobbie and Tina go along with him, Bobbie motions to Julie to untie Jay. Julie does so, then heads over to keep Pete distracted, allowing Jay to sneak outside and run to his motorcycle. As he tries to start it, Pete and Al hear him and Pete runs off to stop him, with Al yelling to not let him get away. Jay gets his motorcycle started and Pete gets on his motorcycle and chases after him while Al flips out and chases the girls back into the cabin before collapsing onto the floor. Jay races across the desert but Pete catches up to him and starts kicking at his bike, causing Jay to go off a cliff and crash down into the riverbed below. Pete rides to the edge of the cliff and looks down at Jay’s body, then heads back to the cabin. Back at the cabin, Al lets Tina go check on Miss Teeny then heads outside to wait for his brother. When Pete shows up and tells him about Jay’s going off the cliff, Al congratulates him and they head back into the cabin but as they walk out of site, Miss Teeny convince Tina to sneak out the window and try to go for help. Inside the cabin, Al tells Pete to choose one of the girls to take and Pete wants Tina but when he goes into the other room, he finds that she is gone. Al tells Pete to watch the others then he goes outside and sees Tina running down the hill so he gives chase. He eventually catches up to her and, knocking her down, presses her face into the ground, suffocating her, then collapses onto the ground. When he wakes up, he starts to carry Tina’s body back to the cabin but when he comes to the river, decides to set her down and let her body float away, then collapses on the bank. As night falls, Al returns to the cabin and the other girls ask about Tina but he says he couldn’t find her, then heads towards Bobbie and proceeds to rape her. In the morning, Julie gets up to use the restroom and Al tells Pete to go with her. As they step outside, a noose suddenly slips around Pete’s neck and Julie sees that Jay had survived and watches as he strangles Pete to death. Motioning Julie to keep quiet, Jay drags Pete’s body away only to turn and find Al outside watching them. Al pulls out his switchblade and Jay grabs a branch to defend himself as Miss Teeny, Bobbie, and Pam come out to see what is happening. With Al’s attention focused on Jay, Miss Teeny grabs a nearby stake and jabs it into Al’s back, killing him. Later, Jay gets on Al’s bike and prepares to go get help and Miss Teeny, Julie, Bobbie, and Pam all thank him for his help and tell him to be careful, then watch as he rides off, glad that their ordeal is almost over.

Yeh, this is unfortunately the latter of the choices for me because it wasn’t that good. The acting was so-so, with Zalman King doing a good job as the psychotic Al but everyone else was simply bland. The story was honestly pretty boring and somewhat predictable. I mean, you knew that one or more of the girls were going to end up raped and possibly killed and you knew that somehow, the two bad guys would be killed. I will be honest, I expected it to all be Miss Teeny going psycho kind of like Jennifer in I Spit On Your Grave. I will admit that I did have to laugh at the beginning of the movie when Pam and Bobbie were fighting and they would flash to Marvin, who was watching and throwing his fists as if he was watching a boxing match. There was a fair amount of drama in the movie that did lend itself well to the plot, but it couldn’t help make it a better movie. This is a late night time killer if you want to have something on to fall asleep too, but it’s not worth hunting down to watch.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

March 15th, 2018 Movie – Transporter 3

transporter 3

As entertaining as I found these movies, part of me feels bad that I never went to see them in theaters. Still, I had no problem renting them and enjoying them from the comfort of my home. I think part of it is that the trailers honestly never really appealed to me, even though I liked the movies after the fact. That goes with today’s movie, as I honestly didn’t have any burning desire to rush out and see it. So let’s finish this series with a bang as I watch today’s movie, Transporter 3.

The plot: As a freighter heads towards port in Marseilles, France, two of the crew members sneak down to the cargo hold and open a container that is supposed to be carrying booze but instead, has drums of toxic waste. When an alert sounds throughout the ship, the captain investigates and finds the two crew members dead and has their bodies disposed of. Meanwhile, an Audi pulls off of a ferry and makes it’s way through the security checkpoints but when one checkpoint tells the driver to get out of the car, and to wake the girl asleep in the back, the driver speeds through the check point, initiating a police chase. Elsewhere, Frank Martin is fishing with Inspector Tarconi when Tarconi gets a call about the car chase, and tells Frank that they wanted him to question Frank but he will be able to give him an alibi. Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, the Environmental Agency Minister, Leonid Tomilenko, receives a phone call from a man named Johnson, telling him to reopen negotiations with Ecocorp, having sent photos of his captured daughter Valentina to force him to comply. That night, Frank is watching TV when the Audi crashes through his living room. When Frank goes to check on the driver, he recognizes him as Malcom, another transporter and one he recommended for a job he refused to take. Frank calls the paramedics and as they load Malcom into the back of the ambulance and start to drive off, Frank notices Valentina in the back seat. He starts to move her but she tells him not to move her from the car, showing a bracelet that is around her wrist. Recalling that Malcom had one on as well, Frank rushes outside to stop the ambulance only for it to explode and as Frank goes back inside to ask the girl what is going on, he is knocked unconscious. When Frank comes too, he is approached by Johnson, who tells him that Malcom was not capable of finishing the job and forces Frank to complete it. Johnson shows that he brought Frank’s car to him, though they removed all of the weapons from it while installing a pre-programmed GPS. He then explains about the bomb in the bracelet on Frank’s wrist, hands him a phone with his number programmed into it, then sends Frank on his way. At Frank’s house, Tarconi is inspecting the scene and has the car moved from the living room to the lab but as the car is towed away, it is stopped by two men from the Ukrainian secret service, who kill the driver and steal the GPS from the car. After leaving France, Frank contacts Johnson, who gives him the code for the GPS and Frank learns he is to head to Budapest. Frank tries to get some information from Valentina but she is reluctant to say anything. Meanwhile, Leonid meets with the people from Ecocorp, who tell him that they have 8 ships containing the toxic chemicals they wish to dispose of that needs his approval to enter the country. Leonid stalls them by saying he needs 24 hours to go over the paperwork but after they leave, he contacts the secret service, who are heading to Budapest and Leonid tells them they have 24 hours. After talking to Valentina for a bit, Frank makes a detour off the programmed course and goes to see Otto, a mechanic friend of his, to see if he can help remove the bracelet. Otto explains what he knows about the bracelet and begins searching for the transceiver in the car when Johnson’s men, who Johnson had sent after Frank, show up at the shop. Frank deals with the men as Otto locates the transceiver but tells Frank he can’t remove it without it exploding. Frank leaves the shop and contacts Johnson, saying he wants to arrange a meeting and Johnson says he will call once Frank arrives in Budapest. When Frank gets there, he receives a call from a pay phone close to the car but Johnson had merely called to get Frank out of the car so that one of his men could steal it. Frank manages to follow after the car and get it back, then contacts Tarconi to get his help in the matter. Frank contacts Johnson again, saying they are even now and should start with a clean slate, and Johnson gives him new coordinates to Bucarest, saying they will conclude their business there. After hanging up with Johnson, Frank speaks with Tarconi, who was patched into the call so they could trace it, and he says he will work on locating Johnson. As they make their way to Bucarest, Frank stops for gas and Valentina begins teasing and flirting with him while she heads into the station to use the restroom and get some food and a bottle of vodka. As he is filling up, Frank notices the car with the secret service pulling over close by, having been warned about them by Tarconi, and as he struggles with Valentina to get back in the car, the secret service spot them and start to give chase. As they are driving, Frank contacts Johnson, thinking it is more of his men, but Johnson assures him he has nothing to do with it and tells Frank to drive faster while he checks into it. Frank manages to evade the men, putting his car on two wheels at one point to squeeze between two tractor trailers, then detours through the woods, where he finally manages to run the car off the side of a mountain pass. Valentina continues flirting with Frank, grabbing the keys and forcing him to do a strip tease in order to get them back and the end up having sex. Afterwards, Valentina explains how she ended up being captured by Johnson’s men and placed in the car with Malcom. Frank begins heading back to Bucarest but Johnson calls him and redirects him to the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Meanwhile, Tarconi arrives in Odessa and speaks with Leonid, explaining what he knows and Frank’s involvement in the matter and they agree to work together to locate Johnson and rescue Valentina and Frank. Johnson directs Frank onto a bridge, where he is ends up being boxed in by Johnson’s men. Johnson tells Frank to send Valentina out and Frank tells her to go, saying the need her alive, and she kisses him goodbye before exiting the car. When she reaches Johnson, he removes the bracelet from her and takes her to his car, ordering his men to kill Frank. Johnson’s men begin shooting at Frank and Franks drives off the bridge into the water below in order to escape. As his car sinks, Frank contacts Tarconi to tell him where he is, then uses the air from his tires to fill up some waterproof bags in order to float the car back to the surface. When Tarconi arrives with the police, he sees Frank being towed back to shore and they work on getting his car running again while Tarconi explains what is going on. Johnson and his men board a train and then Johnson contacts Leonid to have Valentina speak to him but she tells her father not to sign the papers. After getting his car started and learning where Johnson is, Frank head off after the train and manages to jump off a bridge and land his car on top of it. Frank makes his way inside and begins killing Johnson’s men while Johnson chases after Valentina, who had managed to escape. As Frank approaches Johnson, he gets to far from the car and can’t advance further while Johnson begins taunting Frank, then uncouples the car from the rest of the train. Frank heads back up to his car and drives it off the car into the rest of the train, then begins fighting with Johnson. Frank eventually gets the upperhand and unlocks his bracelet, then places it onto Johnson while putting his car into reverse, causing it to fall off the train and Johnson screams out before he explodes. Frank checks to make sure that Valentina is ok and the two kiss while Tarconi contacts Leonid to tell him she is safe. Leonid rips up the papers he was about to sign for Ecocorp and heads to a conference to speak out against them, while police board the freighters that are carrying the toxic waste and arrest the crews. Some time later, Tarconi and Frank are fishing again and Tarconi comments about the changes in Frank’s life, just as Valentina wakes up from her nap and hugs Frank before asking about lunch.

Transporter 3 met with poor results from the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “This middling installment in the Transporter franchise is a few steps down from its predecessors, featuring generic stunts and a lack of energy.” All of the car stunts were performed in real time with no models and almost no CGI, which ended up providing a different set of difficulties for the stunt team. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $108.9 million off of an estimated $30 million budget, making it the highest grossing film in the series, and the only film in the series that was nominated for an award, though it didn’t win.

This was a good way to end Jason Statham’s run in the series but I will admit it is a little weak compared to the other movies. The acting was ok, with Jason Statham and Francois Berleand doing a good job reprising their roles of Frank and Tarconi respectively. I thought Natalya Rudakova did a good job in her debut role as Valentina while Robert Knepper made a pretty convincing villain in Johnson. The story was a little weak in my opinion as it didn’t feel as compelling as the previous movies. However, I did like the idea about the bomb-laden bracelets and it being linked to the car, as it made it keep the action tied to the car and driving. The action sequences were pretty good while the stunt driving was also good but a definitely a little more unbelievable than in the previous movies. Also, I have to admit that the scene with Frank underwater and lifting his car using the air from his tires was a load of crap. Still, it was some mindless entertainment that is sometimes all you need in a movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5

action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

March 14th, 2018 Movie – Transporter 2

transporter 2

Happy Pie day everyone. MMMMMMMM, PIE!!!! I think I might get some on the way home tonight. With the way my work week is going, I could use the pick-me-up as I am most likely in for another slow, boring day at work. Luckily, a movie like this can help get the day started off right as there is nothing like a nice, adrenaline-fueled movie to get the blood pumping. So this was actually the first movie in the series that I watched, mainly because I was bored while wandering through Blockbuster and ended up renting it. So let’s get to driving with today’s movie, Transporter 2.

The plot: Frank Martin is sitting in his car in a parking garage in Miami, FL when he is approached by a teenage girl. The girl asks for his help in changing a flat tire but when Frank says he has an appointment and can’t be late, the girl points a gun at his head and tells him to get out. Frank gets out of the car as 4 men come out of hiding and get in the car but when they can’t start it due to the security code, they get out intending to beat Frank for the code. Frank quickly takes down the men, then tells the girl to go home before he climbs back in the car and drives off. Frank arrives at his destination and picks up Jack Billings from school, who excitedly asks if he can play a guessing game with Jack. When they arrive at the Billing’s home, Frank notices Jack’s parents, Jefferson and Audrey, arguing on the front steps and pulls past the steps so Jack doesn’t see it, under the pretense that he is letting Jack finish the game. After their argument finishes, Audrey approaches the helps Jack win the game, then thanks Frank for filling in for their usual chauffeur the past month. Audrey also thanks him for keeping Jack from seeing their argument and asks Frank if he can take Jack to his doctor’s appointment in the morning, which Frank says yes. Meanwhile, some scientists meet with Gianni Chellini, giving him a virus and the antidote, which he places in a safe, then tells his girlfriend, Lola, what to do with the virus, which he hands to Dimitri. That night, Audrey shows up at Frank’s house slightly drunk and attempts to seduce him but Frank talks her out of it and she thanks him for turning her down before heading home. The next day, Lola, Dimitri, and another of Gianni’s men head to the doctor’s office and kill the doctor and nurse, then take their places. When Frank and Jack get there, Lola greets them, explaining that the usual doctor and nurse have the flu, and Dimitri takes Jack into the examination room, telling Frank he can wait in the lobby. As he is waiting, Frank receives a call from Inspector Traconi, who was coming to spend a holiday in Miami with Frank and arrived early, but Frank notices something is wrong and blood coming from the closet where Gianni’s men had stuffed the bodies. Telling Traconi to take a cab to his house, Frank heads into the examination room and stops the men from giving Jack a shot. Dimitri and the other man attack Frank, who has Jack crawl through the air ducts into the other room, and Frank manages to subdue the men but when he is knocked through the doorway, Lola starts shooting at him. Frank manages to duck into the closet where Jack is hiding and use a gas tank to cause an explosion, stunning Lola and allowing them to get away. Lola accidentally shoots the other man, then tells Dimitri to get out before contacting their driver and telling him to place a bomb underneath Frank’s car. Frank and Jack leave and head back to the Billing’s house but as they get there, he is contacted by Gianni, who tells him a sniper rifle is currently trained on Jack. Frank is forced to allow Lola in the car and drive away from the house, evading the police in the process, and Lola directs him towards the harbor, where Gianni is waiting inside a boat house. After his men grab Jack, Gianni calls the Billings’ house and asks for $5 million in ransom to be delivered in 2 hours or else he will kill Jack. After hanging up, Gianni tells Frank to leave but as Frank starts to get in his car, he sees the bomb reflected in a puddle on the ground. Frank drives away, then speeds up and manages to drive up a ramp and flip the car, snagging the explosive on a nearby crane’s hook, just before Lola can detonate it. Frank contacts the Billings, where an irate Jefferson blames Frank for what happened, thinking he was in on it, but Stappleton, the agent in charge of handling the kidnapping, grabs the phone from him. Frank tries to get Stappleton to go after the boats Gianni and his men are in but Stappleton is tracking Frank’s position to arrest him so Frank leaves the phone at the harbor and drives off. Frank grabs a spare phone from his glove compartment and contacts Traconi, telling him to get out of the house but the U.S. Marshals show up and arrest him. Frank then calls Audrey, who says it is someone else when Jefferson and Stappleton look at her. Frank tells her that he isn’t involved and Audrey says she believes him, as she saw Lola’s guns pointed at him and Jack, and Frank says that there is something more than a ransom involved here and intends to find out. Frank makes his way back to the doctor’s office and copies the security footage to get a picture of Dimitri’s face. He then heads into the exam room to get the syringe but he is confronted by some police, and the syringe is broken during the fight. After subduing the men, Frank grabs an empty syringe and some water, then leaves the office. Frank then calls Traconi, who has been befriending the Marshals by cooking for them, and sends him the image of Dimitri, asking him to find out information on him. Traconi gives him Dimitri’s address and Frank heads there, catching up to Dimitri as he is trying to leave. Dimitri shoots at Frank and then runs away, with Frank chasing after him. As Dimitri manages to get away and jump onto the back of a bus, Frank follows him on a jet ski, jumping the jet ski up onto the overpass so he can get onto the bus as well. Frank grabs Dimitri and asks him about the shot, then injects him with the syringe. Dimitri panics and runs from the bus and Frank follows him. Meanwhile, Jefferson makes the ransom drop off and after several hours pass, Stappleton’s men locate Jack and Jefferson and Audrey acompany him to retrieve their son. Meanwhile, Frank follows Dimitri to the secret lab, where he demands that he be given the antidote. After Frank deals with the guards, Frank enters the lab and tells Dimitir he isn’t sick, just before he kills him, then confronts the lead scientist for the antidote, asking what the virus does. The scientist tells him, then throws the two vials of antidote out the window, forcking Frank to jump out to catch them. One of the vials breaks but Frank manages to save the other one and heads back to the Billings house. Sneaking in, he contacts Audrey and tells her about the virus, then injects Jack with the antidote so he will be safe. Frank tells Audrey to warn Jefferson that he is infected and meant to infect everyone at the conference he is speaking at, then makes his way past the Marshals to leave the house. Audrey tries calling Jefferson but the call breaks up due to his being brought in underneath the building and later, both Jefferson and Audrey collapse and are rushed to a hospital. Frank contacts Traconi, who is still at the Marshal’s office, and asks him for information on Gianni and Traconi is able to find the information but after giving it to Frank, he is caught using the computer. Meanwhile, Gianni watches the conference and sees Jefferson speaking at it, realizing his plan has worked. He then has the antidote injected into himself as a means of keeping it safe and making him invaluable to those that might try to kill him. Frank enters Gianni’s house and fights his way through all of his guards before confronting Gianni. Frank says he figured out everything but Gianni’s involvement and Gianni explains that he was hired by the drug cartels to take out Jefferson and the heads of the various anti-drug organizations. Gianni then explains that he has the antidote inside his blood stream just before Lola attacks Frank, allowing Gianni to escape. Frank ends up killing Lola, then jumps into Gianni’s Lamborghini to head to the airport to stop Gianni. Frank arrives at the airport just as Gianni is boarding his private and he races up to the plane and manages to jump onto the front landing gear before it takes off. Making his way inside the plane, Frank kills the copilot, then confronts Gianni, who attempts to shoot Frank but hits the pilot instead. Frank and Gianni end up fighting on the plane as it flies out of control before it crashes into the ocean. As the plane starts to sink, Gianni attempts to strangle Frank but Frank manages to get free then paralyzes Gianni before slipping a life vest on him and making his way to the surface, where they are picked up by a rescue boat. Some time later, Frank is at the hospital and looks into the Billings’ room, where he sees Jack playing the game with Audrey and Jefferson and realizes that they are doing fine and leaves without heading inside. Frank then takes Traconi to the airport and says goodbye to his friend before heading back to his car, where he receives a call from someone looking for a transporter.

Transporter 2 met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” A stylish and more focused sequel to The Transporter, the movie is over-the-top fun for fans of the first movie.” The studio was unsure about making a follow up to The Transporter but when it was released on DVD, it showed strong enough DVD sales to warrant green-lighting a sequel. The movie fared better at the box office than it’s predecessor, earning $85.2 million off of a $32 million budget.

Some over the top action can be all you need to make an entertaining movie, and that is just what this movie delivers. The acting was good, with Jason Statham and Francois Berleand doing a good job reprising their respective roles of Frank and Traconi. Hunter Clary (Jack) and Amber Valletta (Audrey) were pretty good but I thought Matthew Modine (Jefferson) was kind of an ass, which admittedly is what he was supposed to come across as. Alessandro Gassman (Gianni), Kate Nauta (Lola), and Jason Flemyng (Dimitri) were all effective playing the bad guys and I liked Keith David as Marshal Stappleton, as he fit the profile great. The story was an improvement over the original, as it was definitely more streamlined and too the point instead of taking forever to get to the heart of the matter. The action scenes were just as good as the original while some of the fights were an improvement. The fight scene with Frank using the fire hose was pretty impressive, and funny, while I enjoyed his fight with the big bodyguard in the lab, as it showed him actually getting his butt handed to him for a good portion of the fight before he was able to actually win, and the aspect of him able to get the upper hand by taking the fight into a docked boat, where the bodyguard’s size wouldn’t be a factor. A fun movie that is a great follow up and worth watching for that mindless action fix.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

March 13th, 2018 Movie – The Transporter

the transporter

It’s always fun to watch the movie where a big name star first breaks into the role he becomes known for. Case in point, today’s movie’s role in Jason Statham’s career. Now this is not Statham’s first movie, as he was known for his roles in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch before this. However, today’s movie was the movie that really set him up as one of the new action movie stars of the new millennium. So let’s strap in for today’s movie, The Transporter.

The plot: Frank Martin is sitting in his customized BMW in a parking garage when an alarm sounds on his watch and he starts driving, arriving outside a bank in Nice, France. 4 robbers exit the bank with their stolen money but when they get in the car, Frank refuses to drive. He explains that the deal was for him to drive 3 people, weighing approximately 254 kilos, and the additional weight means they won’t be able to make it to their destination without increasing their chances of getting caught. In frustration, the leader shoots one of his men and the other two robbers quickly dump the body out of the car. With the police arriving, Frank starts driving and a chase ensues throughout the streets. Frank eventually evades the police and arrives at their destination, where a second car is parked. The leader offers Frank more money to drive them to their final destination but Frank refuses, referring again to his rules about altering the deal. The men get into the second car and drive off while Frank heads back to his home and cleans up his car, changing the license plates as he does. The next day, Frank is visited by Inspector Tarconi, who suspects Frank of being the driver in the heist and asks Frank if he has been in the city but without any proof, Tarconi leaves. As Tarconi drives off, Frank receives a call and heads off to meet with a new client. The men ask him to deliver a package and after getting the dimensions and weight of the package, Frank tells them his price and when they agree to the terms, he burns the information he wrote down and leaves. The next day, Frank picks up the package and starts driving but when he gets a flat, he goes to get the spare out of the trunk and notices the package moving. Changing the tire, he puts the flat back in the trunk and drives off but when he stops for some food, he buys a bottle of orange juice as he leaves. Pulling over on a hillside, he opens the bag to reveal a young Chinese woman, Lai, tied up inside and gagged with a piece of tape over her mouth. Frank makes a hole in the tape and uses a straw to give her some juice, then zips the bag back up but after driving for a few minutes, he hears her screaming in the back and stops again. Lai tells him she has to pee so he cuts her free, then ties the rope around her so he can keep tabs on her but she tries to run off. Frank chases her down and brings her back to the car only to find two police officers there investigating the seemingly abandoned vehicle. Frank subdues the two officers, then places both the officers and Lai into the trunk, chastising himself for breaking his own rule of never opening the package. Frank finally arrives at the destination and delivers the package to Darren “Wall Street” Bettencourt. Bettencourt asks if he opened the package and Frank tells him no then receives the rest of his payment for the delivery. Frank goes to leave but Bettencourt asks if he would deliver a briefcase to an address and Frank takes the briefcase and the money and leaves. Stopping for some food, Frank remembers the two police men in his trunk and goes to get them some sodas but as he walks back to his car, it suddenly explodes. Realizing he had been set up to die, Frank returns to Bettencourt’s house and after kicking in the door, begins fighting with several of his men. After killing some and knocking out the others, Frank steals one of Bettencourt’s cars and drives off. As he is making his way back home, Frank notices Lai, who had used the confusion of Frank’s attack to escape and hide in the car, and he quickly stops and removes Lai from the car but before he goes too far, he goes back and picks her up. Frank takes Lai to his home and asks her a couple of questions then gives Lai some food before heading off to bed. After eating, Lai decides to look around Frank’s house and finds a box with some old pictures of him before lying down on the couch and getting some sleep herself. Meanwhile, Bettencourt goes to the hospital to check on his men and learns that Frank is still alive, then kills the man so he can’t tell the police what he knows. The next morning, Frank finds that Lai has cooked him some breakfast and as she goes to get some milk that was the delivered, she finds Traconi outside. Traconi comes in and shows Frank the remains of his license plate and Frank asks about the rest of his car, saying it was stolen when he went out earlier. Frank talks to him a little longer and then leaves and Frank complains to Lai about her interrupting his quiet life when a missile suddenly strikes his home. As Bettencourt’s men begin shooting up the house and firing more missiles at it, Frank grabs LAi and they head down the the cellar, where he has a secret opening to the sea below. Jumping into the water, Frank dives down to get some scuba gear he has stashed down for emergencies and after giving a set to Lai, they swim to safety. Emerging in a safe house, Frank starts complaining again about everything that has happened to him when Lai silences him by having sex with him, saying it is her way of apologizing. Later, they talk to Traconi about what happened to Frank’s house, saying they have no idea why someone would blow it up, but as Frank leaves his office, Lai gets on his computer and looks up information on Bettencourt. After leaving the station, Frank wants to go his own way but Lai tells him that her family and other Chinese people are being shipped here on a container. Frank thinks she is playing him but she tells him it is true, as were her feelings for him, and Frank agrees to go with her. They sneak into Bettencourt’s office and confront him but Lai’s father arrives and after a standoff, Lai is captured and Frank is subdued and then knocked unconscious. Traconi and some officers arrive and Bettencourt explains that Frank kidnapped Lai and tried to blackmail him so Traconi arrests Frank. When Frank regains consciousness, Traconi talks to him in his cell and Frank tells him about Bettencourt and Lai’s father being human traffickers. Traconi says he will start an investigation into the matter and jokes that Frank could probably resolve the matter quicker, then leaves the cell open, allowing Frank to escape. Frank takes Traconi “hostage” and makes his way to the docks, where Frank gets on a boat and Traconi helps him cast off. Arriving on the docks, Frank goes looking for the containers with people but Bettencourt already has them loaded onto trucks and preparing to move out. When Frank is spotted, Bettencourt has the trucks leave, then fights with Frank briefly before letting his men deal with him. Frank begins fighting with Bettencourt’s men, eventually making it into a bus depot, where he spills oil onto the floor and and covers himself with oil to make it harder for the men to grab onto him. When some of Bettencourt’s men begin shooting at him, Frank uses one of the men as a shield and dives into the water, making his escape. Stealing a car, Frank goes after the trucks but when the car breaks down, he spots a plane spraying crops nearby and convinces the pilot to help him. Flying to where the trucks are, Frank tells the pilot to contact Traconi, then parachutes out of the plane and onto the truck. Frank knocks the driver out of the truck and takes the wheel but is shot at by Bettencourt and Lai’s father. Bettencourt manages to get onto the truck and after fighting with Frank in the cab, knocks him out of the truck but Frank manages to hold onto the undercarriage. Lai’s father starts shooting at him but Lai grabs him, throwing off his name, while Frank throws a tire iron at the driver, knocking him out and causing the car to swerve off the road. Frank manages to get back into the cab and kills Bettencourt, then pulls the truck over but he is confronted by Lai. Lai has Frank move to the edge of a cliff, preparing to kill him but Lai shoots her father, killing him, just as Traconi and the police arrive and they head to the truck and open the container, releasing the people trapped inside.

The Transporter met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 56% rating in Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Transporter delivers the action at the expense of coherent storytelling.” Jason Statham did most of his own stunts as well as most of the driving during the car chase scenes. He even learned how to hot-wire a car for one scene, which he jokingly says he could have used the knowledge when he was 15. The movie was a modest success, earning $43.9 million off of a $24 million budget and would spawn 2 sequels as well as a TV series and a reboot.

This is just what you need to start your day; a dose of adrenaline-fueled, mindless action that doesn’t need to focus on the plot. The acting was pretty good, with Jason Statham doing a great job in his role as Frank, the no nonsense transporter. I also liked Matt Schulze (Bettencourt) and Qi Shu (Lai), while Francois Berleand made for a subtle bit of comic humor as Traconi. The story was fairly straight forward but did have a couple of plot holes in it. One of the biggest ones that I would love to hear the explanation for is how Lai got into the car, as she was still tied to a chair. The car chase at the beginning of the movie was a nice way to kick off the movie, though I will admit that some of the stunts do seem a little unbelievable, while the fight scenes were well coordinated, though they did tend to make Frank into an unbeatable machine way more than they should have. I mean, it’s fine to have Frank win the fight but you should at least have him get his ass kicked for part of the fight so that it is a little more believable. Still, this is some mindless entertainment that is worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, movie, movie review, sci-fi, The Asylum, thriller

March 11th, 2018 Movie – Transmorphers


Now it only made sense that when a live action Transformers movie was announced, The Asylum would be quick to make a mockbuster of that movie. I actually remember going into Blockbuster and seeing this movie on the shelf, with a sticker on the case saying that “This not the Transformers movie currently in theaters”. Honestly, I found it incredibly funny that someone would mistake the two movies, but stranger things have occurred, like finding a legitimate porn movie on the shelves at Blockbuster. Anyways, I never got around to renting this movie when it was in Blockbuster but a few years ago, when The Asylum was having a warehouse sale on some of their movies, I decided to buy a lot of their movies that I did not own at the time, including this movie and it’s sequel. So let’s see how good/bad this movie is as I watch Transmorphers.

The plot: When life is detected on another planet millions of light years away, the Earth sends a message of peace to them. Unknown to the Earth, the planet launches thousands of cubes towards Earth, reaching it in 5 days. The cubes turn into giant robots, which begin decimating the humans, wiping out 90% of the population and driving the survivors underground. The alien robots then alter the Earth’s atmosphere, covering the planet in almost eternal darkness and rainfall to make the planet more like their own. Hundreds of years later, the robots are spotted advancing beyond their normal boundaries. The matter is brought up to the council, who choose not to do anything but General Van Ryberg decides not to wait until it is too late. Van Ryberg has a patrol team lead by Lt. Blackthorn to capture a robot so they can study it as part of a long term plan to retake the planet. The team head up to the surface but after placing the EM mine, a sudden high pitched whining sound is heard. Suddenly, one of the team begins convulsing and bleeding from his ears and nose. Back in the base, Van Ryberg realizes that the brain scans they heard about are real, she orders the patrol to evacuate but when they are surrounded by more robots, that were disguised as parts of the surrounding area, she has them written off and orders a briefing in her office. During the briefing, some people argue that the best person to lead the mission is Warren Mitchell, but Van Ryberg and some others argue against it, as Mitchell was judged a traitor and sentenced to 100 years in cryo-stasis. After all of the arguments are heard, Van Ryberg decides to have Mitchell thawed out, as well as one of his men, Itchy. Van Ryberg tells the two men that their release is conditional and as they start to leave, she warns Mitchell to stay away from Karina Nadir, as her and Van Ryberg are now married. Mitchell and Itchy meet the team that Van Ryberg assigned to them but after Mitchell tests them, he chooses only one member of the team to join him, then asks Itchy to find him some more volunteers. Itchy reaches out to Blair, a former friend/lover, to get some volunteers and as Mitchell speaks with the new volunteers, he is happy to see Xandria Lux (who had voiced support for Mitchell’s release) and some of her squad showing up to volunteer as well. Mitchell turns the briefing over to Doctor Voloslov Alextzavich, who tells them that they need to capture a Z-bot intact so they can study their fuel cells, as he believes if they can corrupt a fuel cell and place it into one of their radio towers, they can send out a signal to power down all of the robots. He warns them that the robot has to be kept in tact, as the fuel cells self destruct if the robot is destroyed. When someone asks about bringing the robot back to the city for study, he warns that the fuel cells also act as a tracking device so that would lead the robots right to them. Mitchell dismisses the team, saying to meet back in the morning, and as he talks with Xandria, they see Karina show up. Xandria has a few harsh words with Karina before leaving and when Mitchell asks what she is doing there, Karina says she is there to volunteer. Mitchell says Van Ryberg won’t like it but when Karina says she doesn’t control her, Mitchell relents and tells her when to meet. Later, Xandria and her volunteers get in a fight with the rest of her squad, who call them traitors, while Itchy and the others go for drinks and learn that Voloslov’s companion is actually an android that he built. Elsewhere, Van Ryberg is upset that Karina is going with Mitchell’s team and worries that she won’t make it back but Karina tells her to have some faith in them. The next morning, Mitchell and his team head to the surface and locate a nearby group of robots to attack. Their ambush is a success and the manage to short circuit one and destroy the others but one of their team had been scanned before the attack and Itchy warns that reinforcements will be on the way. As more robots start coming after them, they make their way to the drop off point, where a tent is set up for the scientists to examine the fuel cell but Blair ends up being captured by one of the robots. Karina uses a robot jet pack to fly off after her as Mitchell continues taking the robot back to the drop off point, then has Itchy and Xandria establish a perimeter. Karina manages to rescue Blair but instead of trying to make their way back, Karina notices that they are close to the radio tower and says they should stay there to take part in the second stage of the plan. Inside the tent, the scientists discover that the robots are not vessels for the aliens to use, but the aliens themselves, but before they can examine it further, they are forced to evacuate. Mitchell tells them to leave the robot and make their way back to the city as he and the other soldiers cover their escape. When they return to the city, Van Ryberg berates Mitchell for leaving Karina on the surface and plans to go find her herself but Mitchell argues with her that her job is to protect the city and she has to put them first and he will find Karina. Voloslov asks them to come into the lab and when they enter, both Van Ryberg and Mitchell are furious to see the robot had been brought into the city but the scientists say they had no choice. Van Ryberg goes to deal with the council and tells Mitchell to finish the mission, leaving unsaid for him to find Karina, but after she leaves, the robot expires, ruining the fuel cell. Mitchell asks if there is anything they can do and one scientist says they can transfer the fuel cell into another robot. Mitchell suggests using Voloslov’s companion but Voloslov says she won’t work, then reveals that Mitchell is a robot, the first one he built. Mitchell is taken aback by the news but agrees to put the fuel cells into him so he can finish the mission just as a massive robot army is spotted heading in their direction. Mitchell, Itchy, Voloslov, his assistant, and another soldier make their way to the tower while Van Ryberg leads a defense of the city, but they find themselves close to being overrun. Mitchell reaches the tower, saving Blair and Karina in the process, and they make their way inside only to encounter security measures. Suddenly, the tower begins to morph, revealing that it is a robot as well, while it’s internal security measures only increase, keeping Mitchell and his team at bay. When Voloslov realizes the security measures are on biosensors, Mitchell has Karina and the others all leave, while he goes on ahead, able to move untouched past the turrents. Mitchell enters the fuel chamber and releases the fuel cell, shutting down all of the robots before the overrun the city, then steps out of the chamber but collapses himself. Outside, Karina and Van Ryberg are reunited and embrace while everyone else sees the sun coming out from the behind the clouds for the first time in centuries and stare in wonder at their newly reclaimed world.

This was kind of a let down of a mockbuster, but I think it is because I am used to the more recent movies. The acting felt really stiff, which was funny when it concerns Matthew Wolf as he was supposed to be a robot. However, it really felt stiff with Amy Weber and Eliza Swenson, who portrayed Karina and Van Ryberg respectively, as they just didn’t make a convincing couple. The story wasn’t very original, as it seemed to borrow heavily from The Terminator, just making the robots from outer space and able to transform. The special effects were absolute garbage, which made this somewhat laughable to watch at times, and painful at others. It is an early work and I know they have gotten better, but I wish they had improved before they made this movie.

Rating: 2 out of 5

action, movie, movie review, thriller

March 2nd, 2018 Movie – The Tournament

the tournament

It’s March and if there is one thing March is known for, it is tournaments, particularly in basketball. So I think it is funny that today’s movie is about a tournament. Now this movie is another Blockbuster purchase and one that I had never even heard of before. The only reason I bought it is because the premise of it sounded somewhat like Battle Royale, which was a good movie. So I bought this and found it pretty entertaining in it’s own right so let’s get some excitement to start the day with today’s movie, The Tournament.

The plot: Every seven years, the worlds wealthiest individuals organize a secret, underground tournament in a random city; one in which they bring in special forces, athletes, hitmen, and psychopaths to participate in a 24 hour free-for-all fight to the death. The winner will receive £10 million while the wealthy elite, observing the tournament, make their own money placing bets on who will win and who will die. The organizers jam the city’s communications so that nobody can dial the authorities, while the violence and destruction is passed off as terrorist attacks, riots, or a lone madman. Seven years ago in Brazil, a man named Joshua Harlow ducks into a meat processing plant as he is being pursued by another competitor, who fires a machine gun at him. Harlow manages to get a bolt gun and uses it to kill the assassin, then kills his friend, who is another competitor and mortally wounded, and as he looks into a nearby camera, a room is shown filled with money as the organizers declare him the winner. In the present day, the tournament has been selected to take place in Middlesbrough, Unikted Kingdom and the organizers begin making preparations and tapping into the city’s surveillance system. Lai Lai Zhen, a contract killer, arrives at her hotel room and drinks a vial, which she is told to drink at 9pm, only to end up passing out from the drugged cocktail and some men enter her room and proceed to implant the tracking device in her. The next morning, Mr. Powers, this years tournament organizer, welcomes the other elite to the viewing room and begins showing all of this year’s competitors. He then tells them they have a late entry, Joshua Harlow, who is there for revenge; as his wife was murdered 4 months ago and her killer is one of the competitors. Lai Lai wakes up and sees the tracking monitor on the table, welcoming her to the tournament while outside her room, another competitor is killing the bellhop and stealing his uniform. As the elite watch from the security cameras, the competitor knocks on Lai Lai’s door and leaves the room service tray there but as she investigates it, he sneaks in through her balcony window and attempts to kill her with a garrote but Lai Lai is able to fend him off and kill him, while Powers tells the assembled viewers that her odds have now gone up to 7-1. Anton Bogart, a French acrobatic killer, heads into a diner’s restroom and proceeds to remove his tracking device, then tosses it into a pot of coffee. Keeping tabs on the pot, Anton watches as Father MacAvoy, a priest who has suffered a crisis of faith and become an alcoholic, drinks the coffee and as he leaves, Anton follows from the rooftops. Unknown to MacAvoy, two competitors, a sniper and a man in a car, are tracking the tracking device and taking aim at him. The sniper kills the man in the car and as she is taking aim at MacAvoy, Anton jumps down on the roof behind her and breaks her neck, then takes her rifle. The organizers start to suspect something is up when they track Anton’s signal but see no sign of him, only MacAvoy. MacAvoy heads into his church and kneels down in prayer when he is confronted by Lai Lai, who wonders why he isn’t defending himself. Suddenly, the church doors explodes and as Lai LAi’s attention turns to it, another competitor bursts through the window, tossing grenades at Lai Lai and MacAvoy. MacAvoy is knocked down when a church pew is knocked into him while LAi Lai begins fighting with the killer. When the killer gets the upper hand and attempts to drown Lai Lai in the holy water, MacAvoy grabs the killer’s shotgun and threatens him with it but the killer simply kicks MacAvoy away. Sensing the distraction, Lai Lai is able to free herself and renew her attack on the man, pulling the pin on a grenade on his vest and letting him blow up. Afterwards, Lai Lai questions MacAvoy only to realize that he really is an innocent civilian. Meanwhile, Harlow finally shows up on the game board as another assassin tries to kill him. As the assassin tries to shoot Harlow, he tells him he heard about his wife and says that Miles Slade had bragged about the hit and Harlow thanks him before killing him. Lai Lai contacts Powers to tell him about MacAvoy somehow getting someone’s tracker and he tells her that she knows the rules, she can either keep him with her or kill him but not to contact him again. As she hangs up the phone, they are attacked by another player, who attempts to run them over. Lai Lai shoots out the tires of the car, causing it to crash, then tells MacAvoy to follow her but when he hears the woman screaming for help, MacAvoy stops to try and help her. As he frees her from her seatbelt, the woman pulls a gun on him but Lai Lai shoots her, then chastises MacAvoy for not listening to her. Lai Lai attempts to get MacAvoy to regurgitate the tracker but he is unable to. When a police officer shows up, MacAvoy want to tell him what is going on but Lai Lai warns him that the officer is a player, just as Anton kills him. As Anton continues to shoot at them, Lai Lai and MacAvoy get into the police car and drive off, with Anton chasing after them on foot but they eventually manage to get away. Meanwhile, the organizers start watching as 9 players, including Slade, are converging on a strip club. When Slade sees another killer entering the club, he pulls out his shotgun and shoots him, initiating a fierce gun battle. As the players start killing each other, Harlow enters the club and joins in, until it is only him and Slade left. As Slade holds a girl hostage, Harlow asks him if he did kill his wife, just as another killer, posing as a stripper, attacks him. Slade manages to shoot Harlow, knocking him down, then kills the stripper before knocking Harlow unconscious. When Harlow comes too, he finds that Slade has him tied to the stripper pole and as he tries to free himself, questions Slade about his wife. Slade tells him that it was Lai Lai, not him, that killed Harlow’s wife and then cuts off Harlow’s finger, which he keeps as a trophy. Slade then offers Harlow a drink and pours some liquor into his mouth but as Slade goes to light a cigar before killing him, Harlow spits the liquor into his face, setting Slade on fire. Harlow kicks the bottle onto him, causing the fire to spread along Slade’s body, then frees himself and goes to kill him only to find Slade had escaped out of a hidden passage behind the bar. As the game’s progress, the field narrows down until there are only 6 people remaining. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who have been driving all night, stop at a gas station and Lai Lai heads inside to get some food and drinks. As MacAvoy waits for her, he is confronted by Slade, but Lai Lai saves him and starts fighting with Slade. As the fight makes it’s way back into the station, Sade comments to Lai Lai about her killing Harlow’s wife and Lai Lai breaks his arm, then pins his other arm to the floor with Slade’s knife. As she goes to kill Slade, MacAvoy pleads with Lai Lai to spare his life and after a tense few minutes, Lai Lai lowers her weapon. Watching this occur via the security cameras, Powers orders Slade’s device to be activated and Lai Lai and MacAvoy hear a beep coming from Slade and back away just before he explodes. Suddenly, the phone rings and the gas station attendant, who has been staring in shock at what happened, answers it, then says it’s for MacAvoy. MacAvoy picks up the phone and Powers talks with him, telling him about the game and what will happen if there isn’t a winner. As Lai Lai tries to get MacAvoy to get the device out of him, one way or another, Anton, Harlow, and the last competitor are all converging on the gas station. Seeing them approaching, Lai Lai tells MacAvoy that they have to leave but as they leave the store, they see the competitor arrive on a motorcycle and aim a bazooka at them. As he goes to fire, he is run over by a double-decker bus but the rocket is fired and ends up blowing up the police car. Seeing Harlow approaching them, Lai Lai gets into the bus and tells MacAvoy to drive. Harlow, driving a tanker truck, engages in a gun battle with Lai Lai but when he runs out of shells for the shotgun, attempts to cause the bus to crash. As they keep driving, MacAvoy sees Anton on a nearby overpass and as they drive under it, Anton jumps onto the roof of the bus. He makes his way inside and begins fighting with Lai Lai, as Harlow continues to try and ram the bus off the road. When Anton knocks Lai Lai out of the bus, she manages to grab onto the rail and MacAvoy opens the doors so she can come back in. Lai Lai, on the lower level, shoots up through the ceiling at Anton, who attempts to shoot back through the floor at her. When Anton leaps out the upper window and hangs down to shoot at Lai Lai through the lower window, MacAvoy slams on the breaks, causing Harlow to slam into the back of the bus, killing Anton. The collision causes the tanker’s tires to explode and Harlow ends up wrecking, with the tanker exploding but Harlow survives. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who had thrown up the tracker during the crash, make their way to a church outside of town but Harlow follows them and confronts them. Meanwhile, the organizers discover that there are no surveillance cameras in the church so they send someone there to see what is going on. Inside the church, Harlow asks why Lai Lai killed his wife when she was after him and she tells him that she was hired to kill his wife. Meanwhile, MacAvoy pleads with Harlow to spare Lai Lai’s life, telling him of the explosives in the trackers, but Harlow stabs Lai Lai in the stomach. As the elite all cheer at Harlow’s victory, Harlow steps out of the church to find a limo waiting for him. Harlow is taken to the viewing room and as Powers congratulates him, Harlow asks him why he had his wife killed. When Powers says that Harlow refused to play the game again and so he did it to motivate him into playing, Harlow grabs Powers and places the tracking device he removed from Lai Lai, into Powers’ mouth, which restarts the clock with only 3 seconds left and as the elite try to run from the room, Harlow and Powers both explode. Lai Lai is shown to have survived and she shows up at MacAvoy’s church, where he has had his faith restored and preaches to his congregation about recent events and smiles when he sees her.

This is a pretty good thriller of a movie. The acting was good, with Robert Carlyle (MacAvoy), and Kelly Hu (Lai Lai) doing a good job in their roles and I liked the chemistry they had while they are trying to survive. I also liked Ian Somerhalder (Slade) and Liam Cunningham (Powers) but was a little disappointed that Ving Rhames (Harlow) didn’t have a bigger part. The story was good, though I will say that it still feels like it borrowed from Battle Royale, especially the explosives in the tracker. The special effects were pretty decent but the action scenes were better than I expected, especially involving Anton, whose use of parkour made for some incredible stunt scenes, especially when he was chasing after Lai Lai and MacAvoy and the bus fight. It’s not necessarily going to blow your socks off but it is a decent job in keeping you entertained, or just killing time.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

February 20th, 2018 Movie – The Ticket Of Leave Man

the ticket of a leave man

Ahh, a nice little Tod Slaughter movie is a good way to start the day. This is another movie from the Legends of Horror box set and another one that I have never seen before. I have to admit that the Tod Slaughter movies I have seen in this box set have all been pretty entertaining and I really am interested in seeing some more of his films once I finish all of the ones in this set. But that is a story for another day, so let’s get on with today’s movie, The Ticket Of Leave Man.

The plot: In 1930’s England, Detective Hawkshaw and some other officers arrive at the house of a wealthy family and Hawkshaw tells the patrolman outside the house to keep a look out for anything suspicious, as a thief known as The Tiger is planning to rob the place. Hearing a scream coming from the house, Hawkshaw leads some of his men inside, leaving the patrolman and another detective to keep watch. Meanwhile, The Tiger sneaks out of the house and strangles the patrolman, then clubs the detective over the head several times before running off. Hawkshaw and the other detectives hear the commotion and race outside to find the bodies and Hawkshaw vows to catch The Tiger. The next day, Hawkshaw meets with some of his men at a public garden and, under the guise of having some drinks, discuss the case while keeping an eye on the people there. They especially keep an eye on Melter Moss sitting at a far table, as he is a money lender who also doubles as a fence for stolen merchandise. Meanwhile, The Tiger shows up and sits with Moss, who is nervous about them being seen out in the open together. The Tiger says he is considering getting out of the game, as the pressure has been increasing and Hawkshaw is making things more difficult. After watching an incident where most of the waitstaff complaining to the manager about a coworker being a former convict (referred to as a Ticket of Leave Man), the man begs to be given a chance as he is trying to go straight but the manager fires him, The Tiger and the money lender watch May Edwards start singing and The Tiger becomes infatuated with her. After May finishes her set, The Tiger starts to approach her but stops when he sees her fiance, Robert Brierly, approach her and they sit down to start talking. The Tiger sits back down with the money lender and plans to frame Robert and have him arrested, then seduce May while he is gone. The Tiger has the lender give him some fake bank notes and as Robert is listening to May sing, he starts a conversation with Robert and uses it to slip the fake notes into Robert’s jacket while taking the envelope of real ones out. The former convict notices this as he is leaving and attempts to tell the manager but he refuses to listen and tells the man to leave. The Tiger convinces Robert to buy some cigars, then disappears as Robert is completing the purchase. Meanwhile, the lender is speaking with Hawkshaw and tells him that Robert is passing around counterfeit money and Hawkshaw approaches the cigar shop and asks to see the money Robert paid with. As The Tiger and the lender watch the proceedings, the former convict approaches them and says he saw what they did and wants half of the money, and The Tiger tells him to step into the alcove so they can discuss the matter. Hawkshaw approaches the table and arrests Robert for forgery when they hear someone cry out and, leaving Robert under the care of two officers, he goes to investigate and finds the former convict has been killed. When Hawkshaw says The Tiger has been there, a panic ensues and May ends up fainting, only to be carried out of the garden by The Tiger, to help him escape. Some time later, the money lender is revealed to be the actual forger and The Tiger meets him at his shop and they discuss their next plan. After several years, The Tiger sets himself up as a charitable foundation and has people donate money to him, which he uses to determine their wealth and rob them or kill them if necessary. He also controls the various criminals in the area, forcing those that attempt to go straight into becoming criminals for him by reporting to their bosses that they are Ticket of Leave Men. The Tiger is planning to commit a massive robbery and is trying to find a man to place inside when he is visited by May. The Tiger sends the lender away and greets May and kisses her, which shocks May, and when The Tiger says he wants to proceed further with her, she refuses as she is still in love with Robert and plans to be with him when he gets out of prison. Robert is released from prison and given a 10 pound note as his earnings from the workshop while incarcerated. He heads off to see May, who is living with Mrs. Willoughby and her grandson Sam, who owned the cigar shop Robert had bought the cigars from. May introduces Robert as her brother who had been in the military and Robert learns that the Willoughby’s lost their cigar shop because of the incident that got him arrested. Meanwhile, The Tiger approaches the bank owned by Joshua Gibson and tries to see if there are any openings there, explaining that his foundation tries to find jobs for Ticket of Leave Men to help them get back on their feet but the manager says that they can’t risk it due to the amount of money they keep there. At the Willoughby’s home, Mrs. Willoughby is worried about being able to pay their rent, as she is short on the money, when they find a note on the table with Robert’s money inside, which he secretly left for them saying it was to pay off an old debt. Outside, Robert and May meet Mr. Gibson, who was going there to collect the rent, and Gibson offers Robert a job but warns him that he expects honesty and says that if anyone is caught lying, they will immediately be fired without exception and Robert, reluctantly, continues the charade of being May’s brother. As time passes, Robert proves himself to Gibson, who gives him a promotion at work to being his personal clerk. When a messenger delivers a letter saying that they have lost some money due to forged bills, Gibson tasks Robert into tracking down the man who used the forged bills and getting their money back. Gibson and the other tellers leave as May enters the building and she talks with Robert, who feels bad for continuing to lie to Gibson and wants to come clean. The two share a kiss but unknown to them, The Tiger had stopped by and sees them. After May leaves, The Tiger enters and goes looking for a loan while talking with Robert and Robert recognizes the company name that The Tiger gives as the one that had used the forged bills. The Tiger leaves and returns to his business, where he speaks with Moss about Robert working for Gibson. The Tiger wants to send Robert back to prison so he can seduce May but Moss says they should use him to rob Gibson before that and The Tiger agrees. Robert had contacted Gibson about The Tiger, who contacted Hawkshaw to arrange a sting. When Hawkshaw arrives, Robert is nervous when Hawkshaw appears to recognize him and questions Gibson about him but Gibson assures Hawkshaw that Robert has been a trustworthy employee. Gibson leaves to take a deposit to the bank as The Tiger and Moss approach the building. The Tiger has Moss go inside to see if it is safe before he enters and Moss notices Hawkshaw and tries to leave but he is stopped by Gibson, after Hawkshaw says he could be trouble. The Tiger enters and Moss secretly passes him a note warning him about Hawkshaw just as Hawkshaw approaches and invites The Tiger into Gibson’s office. Inside, The Tiger says he discovered the forged notes had been used and had come there to pay the debts occurred as a result of them, playing off that he is innocent in the matter. Robert returns to the office to find Hawkshaw and Gibson talking and Gibson explains that The Tiger was caught off guard by the forgery and repaid the debt in full. When Robert enters Gibson’s office, he finds The Tiger trying to open the safe with a key and questions him about it but The Tiger, revealing he knows Robert’s real name, tells Robert that he will reveal the truth to Gibson unless Robert keeps quiet. When Gibson enters the room, Robert says he has something to tell him in private after he concludes his business with The Tiger. After Robert leaves, The Tiger tells Gibson the truth about Robert and says he saw Robert making a wax impression of the safe key. Gibson doesn’t believe him at first but when Robert enters and Gibson calls him Brierly, Robert admits that he is Brierly. He tries to explain himself but Gibson accuses him of trying to rob the place and orders him to leave before he calls the police. Later, May goes to see The Tiger, telling him that Robert lost his job and she is worried that he might become a criminal. The Tiger tells her to have Robert meet him at the garden and after she leaves, he has one of his men go fetch some supplies, then proceeds to start trashing his office. Moss sees him and questions what he is doing and The Tiger replies that after he robs Gibson, he will have enough money to do what he wants and no longer has to put up the charade. Moss threatens to tell Hawkshaw if The Tiger double crosses him and The Tiger kills him, then continues to ransack the office as his employee returns. The Tiger then sets the office on fire, then locks his employee inside with Moss’ body to be burned alive. At the garden, Robert is lamenting about being unable to find a job because he is a Ticket of Leave Man and May tells him not to give up before leaving to perform. The Tiger sits at the table and starts talking with Robert and convinces him to help him steal the money from Gibson’s safe and Robert agrees, telling him he will leave a note for May explaining that he is leaving her. He hands the note to the waiter to give to May but the waiter is a disguised Hawkshaw and the note actually tells her to contact Hawkshaw and explain that Gibson’s building is going to be robbed. When Robert and The Tiger enter the building, The Tiger reveals his true identity to Robert, who says he had contacted the police but plans to get his revenge himself. The two fight outside and The Tiger starts to strangle Robert but is interrupted by the arrival of Hawkshaw and the police. The Tiger pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot whoever approaches him but he slips into an open grave and breaks his neck. As Robert comes too, he apologizes to Gibson for lying and had hoped to pay back the kindness he shown him by stopping the robbery.

This was a really good movie, though it could only marginally be considered meeting the criteria for being in the Legends of Horror box set. The acting was really good, with Tod Slaughter putting in his usual over the top brilliant performance as The Tiger. I also liked John Warwick (Robert) and Robert Adir (Hawkshaw) but thought Frank Cochran was great as Moss but Marjorie Taylor (May) was kind of bland. The story was pretty good and I liked the idea of how The Tiger was basically taking advantage of other criminals to further his own greed, forcing them to continue being crooks even if they wanted to go straight. The mood and tone of this movie are pretty good and definitely helped sell the narrative of the story. Definitely something worth watching a credit to Slaughter’s career.

Rating: 4 out of 5