Urban Demolition Watchlist

Agent of Chaos – Norman Spinrad
Unreadable tripe. I feel slightly bad about leaving my review of this book at those two words. What if the author is still alive or has lawyers who are? What if someone, somewhere, is Googling this book in desperate search of an overview of its contents, its plot, it’s theme? (Highly unlikely, unless this is somehow on a required reading list somewhere on Earth). What if someone has completed it and is searching for informed analyses and opinions? What if The World Needs My Elucidation on this book?
Rated: It’s unreadable tripe.

A Special Lady – 201?
It’s a gangster movie where the boss is trying to go clean for the sake of his son inheriting the business, whilst his business rivals are hard at work to prevent this at all levels of the enterprise (so to speak), and his dirty-jobs man resents the fact that he’s no longer invited to the boss’s parties, not to mention that some snotty teenager is going to get all the benefit of his hard work. The protagonist, however, is the organization’s third ranker, the Madam and head of a sexpionage business–and also the kid’s mother. And there’s a corrupt DA who starts off being blackmailed by the, uh, heroine, but who turns the tables and manages to bring down an entire criminal organization without once acting like a good or even halfway decent guy, which takes some doing.
And there’s a storming-the-building scene carried out with a double-barreled shotgun, which is kind of a first. Most heroes who storm the building have sense enough to carry guns that fire more than two shots at a time. There is also a fight scene with a power saw–which, quibbles aside, actually could have worked very well as an action scene if it had been a one-on-one or one-on-a-couple instead of a one-against-many. Koreans just don’t seem to be able to do action scenes very well, at least in comparison to the Hong Kong or Chinese movies of similar stature.
The performances are good and the story is largely solid, if you overlook the main antagonists having fairly weak overall motivations. And everybody is quite good-looking, which is one of the nicer things about Asian cinema. If you’re going to be watching people for an hour or two, they might as well be pleasant to look at.
Rated: No one likes it when mom and dad are fighting, especially when shotguns are involved.

Ulysses – 1954 version with Kirk Douglas
It’s not very good either, unfortunately. Sword-and-sandals movies either have to be exquisitely well-made and outside-the-bounds epic, or complete cheeseball camp; there’s really no in-between. This one lacked the budget and execution to make it an epic, and it took itself far too seriously (not to mention, wasn’t poorly dubbed over a bunch of Italian actors) to be campy fun.
Rated: The 1990s TV version was somehow much better.

The Assassin – 2015
Artsy. Boring.

Assassins – 1995
So if you like crazy-eyed villains with Latin accents, short heroes who slur, and red-headed heroines with cats, lots of gunplay, and the classic a&b stories of: hitmen who are trying to retire but find that the organization is now out to get them and the young second-best gun wants to be the first-best gun, give it a look-see. This movie might have no intelligence, but it also has no condescension, no insults for the audience, and solid filmmaking.
Rated: ai yi yi

The Specialist – 1994
It’s got revenge and big booms, no, no, easy there, I mean explosions. No, no, put down that rolled up newspaper, please, we’re civilized people here? I mean explosive explosions. But yes, we’ve got Sharon Stone and we’ve paid for the second-tier package that includes Sharon Stone’s legs and Sharon Stone’s boobs. Well, okay, it was the cut-rate package, so it’s only a little of her boobs. But we put in extra legs to make up for it. Look, fishnets! Are you not entertained? OK, ok, fine, fine, fine. We’ve also got the full Stallone package. No, no, no, not like that, it’s rated R, not X. Technically we’ve got everthing except the full Stallone package, haha, PUT THE ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER DOWN PLEASE.
Rated: BOOM

Tango & Cash – 199?
Okay, fine, fine, no problem. We can take HER shirt off, too.

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