The Bodyguard: so-called action flick featuring Thailand’s smallest and tubbiest gravity-defying bodyguard – definitely not the ’92 Costner / Houston affair! A few familiar faces from ‘Ong-Bak’ make up the main cast – including a Tony Jaa cameo – although this is nowhere as good a movie. Despite being made in 2004 it feels uncannily like classic ’80s cheese; slow-motion shots, terminally cheap music, and some of the most ridiculous and least funny pantomime-esque ‘humour’ I’ve seen. It’s camper than a row of tents, contains a bizarrely high level of foul language, and doesn’t say much about the intelligence of Thai people. The few action scenes are the only redeeming feature of this, in particularly some nifty moves and set pieces. The film focuses more on a millionaire’s love conquest over the actual bodyguard – title FAIL. Feels more like a bunch of mates making a b-movie than the action / wire-fu movie it’s promoted as. Best stick with Ong Bak / Warrior King etc.
Kickboxer: potential lawyer takes up fighting to avenge his once cocky, now disabled, brother in a Muay Thai match against a monster. From the outset (Van Damme and his brother on a boat looking like child-molesting sex tourists) you know this is vintage 80s. The songs – and dance scene – are also criminally cheesy, yet perversely enjoyable. All bad guys passed their ‘villain 101’ course: stab dog, rape girl, fight dirty, kidnap a cripple… and no martial arts film would be complete without a wise Confucius. Why not chuck a jive-talkin’ black guy who’s addicted to pussy in the mix too? Overall, the acting’s pretty bad, and the films nothing more than an excuse for Van Damme to flaunt his skills, accent, muscles, splits and gnarly dancing. You know what you’re getting with this one and although it’s not packed with fights/action you could do a lot worse with 90 minutes. Vintage Van Damme.
The Running Man: Starring Arnie, a dose of all-american athletes like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and some great eye candy in María Alonso – this flick is set in an ultra-oppressive state, where the iron-fisted state censor, control and manipulate everything. There’s loads of solid action, blood and guts but there’s more to this than meets the eye; it’s peppered with serious messages about America’s consumption of everything, from commercial products to brutal violence. Although it was made in the 1980s, the bleak future it paints appears to be coming truer and truer every day. Quintessential 1980s and Arnie viewing with many of his best one-liners.