Monthly Archives: October 2015


vendettaDirected by twins Jen and Sylvia Soska, Vendetta is a movie shot predominately in a prison, which keeps the production cost down. Produced by the WWE and starring wrestler Paul “The Big Show” Wight as a massive villain. Vendetta is billed as an action movie, and the male dominated tone surprises me that two women directed this WWE brand of entertainment.

The movie stars Dean Cain as Mason, a strong, crusty detective who we meet in the opening scene. He apprehends Victor, played by Wight, but is released on a technicality. Victor is out for revenge and arrives at Mason’s home and beats his wife, played by Kyra Zagorsky, to death and gets caught.

Mason snaps and embarks on a vendetta against the man who shattered his life. He kills Victor’s brother, played by Aleks Paunovic, and is thrown in the same prison where Victor is serving his time.

Victor holds quite a bit of power in the prison and calls the shots. Getting involved in one violent altercation after another, now a former cop, Mason meets the prison’s sleazy warden, played entertainingly by Michael Eklund. He called him into his office after one of his attackers is placed in the hospital by Mason.

The warden scolds Mason and decides his pal Victor can eliminate Mason for him.  Mason asks his former partner in the police force, played by Ben Hollingsworth, to help him nail the corrupted warden and his cohorts.

How the story unfolds from here is endless fight scenes showing off Cain’s muscle toned body.  Cain is good and delivers a physical performance worth watching. Wight’s massive body regales convincingly as he struts like a professional wrestler when he choke holds opponent after opponent.

The story builds to a prison riot as part of the ending of the movie.

Chain of Command

chainDirected by Kevin Carraway and starring Steve Austin and Michael Jai White, Chain of Command is a movie that went direct to DVD. I am not surprised because the movie is not very good with nothing original about the plot. It is about a military man, played by White, who works to expose those responsible for his brother’s death because it is his duty and his need to get revenge.

I have seen White in better movies like Black Dynamite. That I highly recommend. Another recent movie called Skin Trade, where White stars with Tony Jaa, is quite good, too. Watching him in a movie like Chain of Command is painful because it is such a bad movie.  White is talented, and he should pick better movies where he has the opportunity to let his talent be seen on the screen.

The movie doesn’t do justice for Austin either. His scenes are lengthy tirades with no substance to back him up.  That adds up to being boring with a big yawn.  All in all, this movie is not worth watching.  It is about Special Operative James Webster. He just returned home from duty, only to witness the brutal slaying of his brother. Webster immediately tries to retaliate and hunt down the perpetrators, but as he delves deeper into the secret world of corruption and murder, he finds himself at the center of a deadly conspiracy that cuts deep inside the walls of the US Government.  The most ruthless military assassin, played by Austin, is hot on his trail.  Webster must expose the corrupt high-ranking officials before he becomes just another victim of the evil plan to destroy.

Skin Trade

skintradeSkin Trade is one of those direct to DVD movies that ends up being a really good movie, and probably would have done well in the theaters. Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, the story is about the buying and selling of human beings, particularly women, and two detectives from different countries trying to put an end to the human trafficking ring. One cop is from Thailand. Detective Tony Vitayakul, played by dynamic martial arts champion Tony Jaa. The other cop is from NYC. Detective Nick Cassidy, played by Dolph Lundgren. Turns out they are both after the same crime lord from Serbia. Viktor, played by Ron Perlman, runs the trafficking underworld while getting his family involved at different locations around the world.

Detective Cassidy tracks down Viktor and his youngest son. They have a shootout, and Viktor’s son is killed, but Viktor escapes. The crime lord backlashes at Cassidy by having his men kill his wife, wound him and kidnap his daughter.

Cassidy decides to go after Viktor on his own because he doesn’t trust FBI Agent Reed, played Michael Jai White. He lands in Thailand. Reed alerts Detective Vitayakul that he is in his country. Both the FBI and Vitayakul go after Cassidy, and he escapes barely as Vitayakul chases after Cassidy. Here we get to see Jaa and Lundgren at their most impressive martial arts skills. What a chase this scene offers with speeds through the streets and alleys of Thailand. It ends with an awesome all-out exchange of blows between the two.  Stuff like this makes the movie impressive.

Tony and Cassidy figure out the traitor, come to terms and work together to take down Viktor, including the human trafficking ring.  More hand-to-hand combat occurs, keeping the movie all action. At the same time, the story shines through and is better than most movies of this genre. The acting is good. All in all, the movie is worth watching.

Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

secretlifeMarilynSecret Life of Marilyn Monroe grazes the surface concerning the part of the entertainment industry where malicious people lurk. These life suckers are few in numbers, but the few that are there can wreak havoc because they are sly and go unnoticed. This movie answers the questions of what happened to the demise of Judy Garland, Brian Wilson, Elvis Presley, Robin Williams and so forth. Remember when Marilyn Monroe died she was under the unfaithful care of a psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson. This mini-series is not all that factual about her true demons, but it does show the demise of her life relating to the demise of her mother.

The mini-series frames Marilyn as a tragic figure, pouring her heart and life out to a psychologist, played by Jack Noseworthy. The director, Laurie Collyer, has Noseworthy play the doctor as one who listens as Monroe recalls her life. The story begins with Marilyn being taken away from her mother. Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri Martino, plays the younger version of her mother while Sarandon plays the older version.  We learn that Marilyn was raised by a guardian she named Aunt Grace, played convincingly by Emily Watson. She was also in an orphanage, but married at 16 just to find a place to live.

Within a few years, Norma Jean, now played honestly by Kelli Garner, launched her modeling career and slowly began to pursue her ambition to work in the movies.  Soon, she discovers that being beautiful isn’t the send all to success. She advances once she establishes relationships with powerful men, including Johnny Hyde, played by Tony Nardi, a studio executive and her agent. He points her career in the right direction and changes her name to Marilyn Monroe. She is on her path to stardom.

Marilyn’s success came with new pressures. As professed in the mini-series, the studio pushed pills to keep her functioning. In truth, the studio doctors pushed the pills. The studio just wanted her stable and working.  They didn’t have the solution to help her, so they counted on the resident psychiatrist to help her.

Despite all the pressures, Marilyn begins her sizzling romance with Joe DiMaggio, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  Their relationship ends, and she falls in love with playwright Arthur Miller, played by Stephen Bogaert.

So far the series doesn’t shed light on anything new about Marilyn. Where are the secrets? We’ve all heard and seen this before. Still, the acting and directing keeps the interest high.

We also get a glimpse of John F. Kennedy.  Here we see the famous performance by Marilyn singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to him. Garner not only looks the part, her voice matches Marilyn’s voice and mannerisms. It is an honest performance worth mentioning because of the nature of the material.

Yet, as the director Collyer takes the adapted screenplay and tries to explain away Marilyn’s troubles with mental illness. That is not her job as a director – just tell the story. Sure, being a successful artist in any field is stressful and should be addressed with honesty.  I am sure there is a side to Marilyn that is very positive and endearing. But, this series portrays her, like most interpretations, as pity. “Everyone uses everyone,” according to a line in the movie. I beg to differ because if she truly had help, she would still be alive today.

We need to help artists in any way that is non-destructive with drugs and confinement.  Do no harm but help with safe and sane methods.