“Enter the Dragon” and Bruce Lee’s Best Performance!

 Yesterday, N. Morgan posted the photo above the words below…

47 years since its release is still one of the best martial arts movies of all time and Bruce Lee’s best performance in my opinion..

A couple of things…

First, I can’t believe it’s been 47 years since Enter the Dragon‘s release.  Of course I can’t believe I’m old enough to have seen it in theaters.

Second, N. Morgan is right.  Enter the Dragon is one of the best martial arts movies of all time and contains Bruce Lee’s best performance.

The Poster and Trailer for “Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo” are Here! 

The poster and trailer for Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo are here!  I’ve always been a fan and look forward to seeing this and learning more about him!

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is the feature documentary experience, revealing the extraordinary life journey of Hollywood’s most unlikely hero, Danny Trejo. From an early life of drugs, armed robbery and hard prison time, to the red carpets of Hollywood blockbusters and helping troubled addicts, Danny gives a firsthand account of one of the greatest transformations of human character ever put to film.

Having spent 71 years starring in a personal expedition that outshines any Hollywood fiction, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, is the shocking story of one man’s capacity to overcome his demons, only to discover redemption through the most unlikely of journeys. Through the exploration of his old stomping ground and the supporting cast of family, friends and some of the world’s biggest stars, join Danny Trejo as he delivers a raw and sobering account of his transformation from a hardened criminal to celebrated Hollywood icon and beloved friend of all who cross his path.

“Rocky II” is Quentin Tarantino’s Favorite Movie from 1979

Everyone knows Quentin Tarantino is an ultimate movie connoisseur.  He loves all types of films and has seen more than most folks.

Any idea what his favorite movie of 1979 is? (Ok, since you’ve seen the photo above, you’ve probably figured it out.  But were you surprised?)  Here’s what QT had to say about Rocky II

“Now, this was my favorite movie of the year in 1979. I like Rocky II even more than Rocky. Stallone, his follow-ups didn’t do well and the press made a big, big deal about that, about how F.I.S.T. flopped. And Paradise Alley was a flop. The press machine that had made him the Cinderella boy was now rolling over on him, and they go, ‘Oh well, he can only play a stupid boxer. And that’s all he can do and he’s completely flopped out and he’s a real loud mouth in his press interviews.’ And so then he comes out with Rocky II and now he’s directed Rocky II. So Rocky II kind of has to work or he is Sylvester come lightly. And it’s a smash. It’s a terrific movie. It actually betters on a lot of the aspects of Rocky and he is… beyond charming in the film. To see him play the Rocky character again, it actually reminded you why you like Rocky so much in the first place. The first Rocky movie is more of a character study. This is more of a personality…expansion, but it works completely as a personality expansion. It’s just he kind of has the audience in the palm of his hand. I was so happy for him, that he pulled it off and the movie meant a lot to me and it was, again, it was inspirational and you’re always trying to get in shape after you see the movie because you got caught up in the montage.”

Source: W Magazine.

Kelsey Shannon’s “Expendables Go to Hell” Cover is Here!

Check this out!  It is Kelsey Shannon’s cover for The Expendables Go to Hell graphic novel.  We told you about the project here and shared Dave Dorman’s cover painting here.

I’ve been fortunate to get sketches from both Kelsey and Dave for my Stallone sketch collection.  And of course I pre-ordered the EGtH graphic novel (Kelsey cover).

Speaking of the Kelsey Shannon cover, you can see a larger version by clicking on the art above.

Ink by Jonathan Maberry is Coming!

Jonathan Maberry has a new one coming out.  As you can see from the cover above it’s called Ink.

Tattoo-artist Patty Cakes has her dead daughter’s face tattooed on the back of her hand. Day by day it begins to fade, taking with it all of Patty’s memories of her daughter. All she’s left with the certain knowledge she has forgotten her lost child. The awareness of that loss is tearing her apart.

Monk Addison is a private investigator whose skin is covered with the tattooed faces of murder victims. He is a predator who hunts for killers, and the ghosts of all of those dead people haunt his life. Some of those faces have begun to fade, too, destroying the very souls of the dead.

All through the town of Pine Deep people are having their most precious memories stolen. The monster seems to target the lonely, the disenfranchised, the people who need memories to anchor them to this world.

Something is out there. Something cruel and evil is feeding on the memories, erasing them from the hearts and minds of people like Patty and Monk and others.

Ink is the story of a few lonely, damaged people hunting for a memory thief. When all you have are memories, there is no greater horror than forgetting.

Ink drops November 17, 2020 but is available for pre-order now!

Z-View: “Extraction”

Extraction (2020)

Director: Sam Hargrave

Screenplay: Joe Russo (based on the graphic novel Ciudad by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando Leon Gonzalez, Eric Skillman)

Stars:  Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Rudhraksh Jaiswal and David Harbour.

The Pitch: “Let’s turn the Ciudad graphic novel into a movie!”

No Tagline:

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) is part of a mercenary team hired to rescue a drug lord’s kidnapped son.  To complete the extraction the team must journey into Dhaka, a city ruled by the rival drug lord who kidnapped his rival’s son.  All is going well until the team is betrayed and Rake finds himself alone with the boy trying to get to the extraction site. To get there he will have to fight the corrupt cops, the drug lord’s soldiers and street gangs looking to earn the reward offered up by drug lord.

The premise of Extraction is a classic action picture trope. Yet, Extraction puts twists on aspects of the movie that could have easily been cliches.  Rake has a death-wish but the cause of his troubles provides reason to succeed in this mission at any cost.  The person who betrayed the mission does it for an unusual reason.  The location of the movie is one seldom (never?) seen and provides fresh opportunities for action scenes and those action scenes are equal to those that you’d find in John Wick movies.

Extraction left me impressed, thinking about the characters, story and ending well after the final credits.  I can’t wait to watch it again!


Jackie “The Great One” Gleason Trivia!

When I was a little kid for most of the country The Jackie Gleason Show was must-see tv.  As I got a little older I discovered, in reruns, The Honeymooners.  Then in high school Jackie hit big again with his classic role as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit.

Gleason was also great dramatic actor (see The Hustler and Requiem for a Heavyweight if you don’t believe me) but comedy was where Gleason spent the majority of his career.  Gleason was a true talent making it big on stage, television, radio and movies.

If you don’t know much about the man known as The Great One, check out 18 Fascinating Facts about Jackie Gleason presented by the fine folks at MeTV.  Here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts on each…

When you see him pat his stomach on The Honeymooners, it’s because he forgot a line.  Well, perhaps it wasn’t 100% photographic. The sitcom was filmed live, so there were no do-overs.

(If you’ve never seen The Honeymooners you owe it to yourself to check it out. Classic comedy! – Craig)

His debut album still holds the record for most consecutive weeks in the Billboard top ten — a whopping 153.  Gleason was a massive music star. In a way, he was a forerunner of ambient pioneer Brian Eno, in that he wished to craft records of what he called “musical wallpaper.” His easy listening instruments, especially Lonesome Echo, remain cult favorites. His first album, 1952’s Music for Lovers Only, spent a mind-boggling three years near the top ten. To put that in perspective, Thriller only managed 78.

(Who’d a thunk it? – Craig)

He believed in aliens.  Gleason studied the paranormal and UFOs. It is rumored that President Nixon shared secret information about UFOs with the Hollywood star.

(Gleason told people that then President Nixon actually showed him a captured alien ship and alien corpse! – Craig)

Bruce Lee Gets the Criterion Collection Treatment!

Bruce Lee is getting the Criterion Collection treatment and his fans are going to love it.  The seven-disc Blu-ray box set will contain Lee’s greatest hits (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Enter the Dragon / Game of Death) and will be chock full of special features, including alternate versions of the films, interviews, documentaries and much more!

Here’s some of what the seven disc Special Edition will feature…

  • 4K digital restorations of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtracks
  • New 2K digital restoration of the rarely-seen 99-minute 1973 theatrical version of Enter the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtrack
  • 2K digital restoration of the 102-minute “special-edition” version of Enter the Dragon
  • Alternate audio soundtracks for the films, including original English-dubbed tracks and a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon
  • Six audio commentaries: on The Big Boss by Bruce Lee expert Brandon Bentley; on The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon by Hong Kong–film expert Mike Leeder; and on the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon by producer Paul Heller
  • High-definition presentation of Game of Death II, the 1981 sequel to Game of Death
  • Game of Death Redux, a new presentation of Lee’s original Game of Death footage, produced by Alan Canvan
  • New interviews on all five films with Lee biographer Matthew Polly
  • New interview with producer Andre Morgan about Golden Harvest, the company behind Hong Kong’s top martial-arts stars, including Lee
  • New program about English-language dubbing with voice performers Michael Kaye (the English-speaking voice of Lee’s Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury) and Vaughan Savidge
  • New interview with author Grady Hendrix about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that followed Lee’s death, and a selection of Bruceploitation trailers
  • Blood and Steel, a 2004 documentary about the making of Enter the Dragon
  • Multiple programs and documentaries about Lee’s life and philosophies, including Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (1998)
  • Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell, Lee’s widow, and many of Lee’s collaborators and admirers, including actors Jon T. Benn, Riki Hashimoto, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Yuen Wah, and Simon Yam and directors Clarence Fok, Sammo Hung, and Wong Jing
  • Promotional materials
  • New English subtitle translations and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Jeff Chang

Bruce Lee’s Greatest Hits: The Criterion Collection will be available July 14, 2020.

“Con Air” Trivia and More!

I’m a fan of Con Air so you know I just had to comment on Joey Paur’s Collection of Fun Facts For Nicolas Cage’s CON AIR and a “Making Of” Video at GeekTyrant.  Here are three of my favorites and my thoughts…

Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Dolph Lundgren, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis were considered for the part of Cameron Poe.

(I thought Nicholas Cage was great in the role and it’s probably my favorite character he’s played.  My top three from the actors listed who didn’t get the part would be: 1) Sly Stallone (No surprise there); 2. Jean-Claude Van Damme and 3) Kurt Russell.  – Craig)

Gary Oldman was the first choice to play Cyrus. Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, James Gandolfini, Ed Harris, Rutger Hauer, William Hurt, Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Ron Perlman, Tim Robbins, Tom Sizemore, John Travolta, Peter Weller, and Bruce Willis were also considered… Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke also auditioned for the part of Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom.

(My top three of the actors not selected to play Cyrus the Virus would be 1) Mickey Rourke; 2) Ron Perlman and 3) Michael Madsen. – Craig)

The song “How Do I Live” was nominated for both an Oscar as Best Original Song and a Razzie as Worst Original Song. It did not win either award. it was originally performed by 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes.

(I like the song and find it interesting that it was nominated for both the highest honor (Oscar) and worst (Razzie). – Craig)

Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s All-Time Best Performances

Ben Sherlock at ScreenRant posted his choices for Sylvester Stallone Vs Arnold Schwarzenegger: Each Actor’s 5 Best Performances.  I thought I’d compare Sherlock’s Top 5 for Sly and Arnold to mine (using just his five best) and then what I’d include from all of each actor’s filmography.

First up: Sherlock’s choices and both of our ratings…

Sly Picks

Sly Picks

Arnold Picks

Arnold Picks

5. John Rambo In First Blood 5. Lt. Marion Cobretti In Cobra 5. Wade Vogel In Maggie 5. Wade Vogel In Maggie
4. Johnny D. Kovak In F.I.S.T. 4. John Rambo In First Blood 4. Sheriff Ray Owens In The Last Stand 4. Sheriff Ray Owens In The Last Stand
3. Lt. Marion Cobretti In Cobra 3. Johnny D. Kovak In F.I.S.T. 3. Dutch In Predator 3. Doug Quaid In Total Recall
2. Sheriff Freddy Heflin In Cop Land 2. Sheriff Freddy Heflin In Cop Land 2. Doug Quaid In Total Recall 2. Dutch In Predator
1. Rocky Balboa In Rocky 1. Rocky Balboa In Rocky 1. The T-800 In The Terminator 1. The T-800 In The Terminator

Now what I would’ve included from each actor’s filmography.

Zablo’s Sly All Films

Zablo’s Arnold All Films

5. Deke DaSilva in Nighthawks 5. Harry Trasker in True Lies
4. John Rambo In First Blood 4. John Matrix in Commando
3. Sheriff Freddy Heflin In Cop Land 3. John ‘Breacher’ Wharton in Sabotage
2. Jack Carter in Get Carter 2. Dutch In Predator
1. Rocky Balboa in Rocky 1. The T-800 In The Terminator

“Hogan’s Heroes” Trivia

To this day it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would greenlight a TV comedy about a World War II prisoner of war camp.  But that’s exactly what happened.  Hogan’s Heroes ran for 168 episodes, premiering in September 1965 and airing the last original episode in April 1971.  Hogan’s Heroes is the longest running American TV series inspired by World War II.  Who would’ve thunk it?

MeTV recently posted 12 Incredibly True Facts about Hogan’s Heroes.  Here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…

The actors playing the four main German roles were Jewish. Klemperer (Klink), Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter) and Howard Caine (Hochstetter) were Jewish, and all but the latter had fled the Nazis during WWII. Additionally, Robert Clary, who played the cooking French corporal, LeBeau, had been interned at a concentration camp. Klemperer stated at the time, “I am an actor. If I can play Richard III, I can play a Nazi.” The actor insisted that Hogan always won out over his captors.

(I remember at the time there was a bit of controversy from World War II vets, and some who had been in POW camps, as well as those who felt nothing about WW2 was funny. – Craig)

The set was blown up during the making of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. What an ignominious fate. Hogan’s Heroes was filmed on Desilu Productions’ RKO Forty Acres backlot. In the making of the trashy 1974 exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, the set was destroyed for the final scene. Hogan’s producers were okay with it, as it saved the cost of having the set demolished.

(What a way to go! – Craig)

The show used the tagline If you liked World War II, you’ll love Hogan’s HeroesThe tagline was sarcastically suggested by comedian and author Stan Freberg in an interview with Bob Crane in The Sunday Times, on September 15, 1965. “Shall we say, ‘If you liked World War II…you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes?'” Freberg dryly asks. “No, let’s not say that, no,” Crane responds. Nevertheless, it became the tagline.

(I wonder if in this age of political correctness, would Hogan’s Heroes ever make it to production? – Craig)

Real-Life Tough Guy: Ward Bond

That’s John Wayne, John Ford and Ward Bond.  They’re considered three real-life tough guys.

Most folks know a bunch about John Wayne and to a lesser extent, director John Ford.  If you’re like me, you know that Ward Bond appeared in dozens (and dozens) of movies and starred in the TV series Wagon Train. But that’s about it… until I read  13 fascinating facts about Ward Bond and Wagon Train at MeTV

You know the drill here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts…

Bond appears in more films on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies than any other actor.  Bond has perhaps the most enviable filmography of any actor, past or present. Just look at his credits. He acted in seven of the 100 Greatest American Films according to the AFI — It Happened One Night (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Maltese Falcon (1941), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Searchers (1956).

(Wow!  I had no idea Bond appeared in more of the 100 Greatest American Films than any other actor!  THAT is an amazing fact and a testament to his abilities as an actor. – Craig)

John Wayne accidentally shot Ward Bond on a hunting trip. Even a gun wound could not break up the best friends. Ward left the shotgun to Wayne in his will.

(That’s how tough Ward Bond was – not even John Wayne shooting him could put him down! – Craig)

Bond appeared on ‘Wagon Train’ in crutches after injuring his leg.  At the end of “The Clara Beauchamp Story,” Bond stands in a row of military men on a pair of crutches. It was no prop. The actor had suffered an injury in a car accident. The poor (but certainly tough) guy was also hit by a car on his way to John Wayne’s wedding, but he performed his best man duties on crutches.

(Ward Bond was one tough son of a buck!  That dude was Marv from Sin City come to life. – Craig)