R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: 10 in '10

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So ’09 is in the bag and what a terrific year it’s been at the movies, especially if you love your cinema with tons of gunfights, swordfights, fisticuffs, karate, giant aliens, robots, spaceships, laser guns, or just good old-fashioned explosions. From the biggest studio picture of the year (Avatar) to the little independent film that could (The Hurt Locker), 2009 had an amazing wide spectrum of awesome to satisfy most every taste. Unfortunately though, it’s now over.

On the other hand though, there’s a lot to look forward to coming up in 2010 and I thought I’d go ahead and get started looking forward to it. What I love is that I’ve already got an entire slate of pictures that I’m chomping at the bit to see in the coming year, but I also know that there’s going to be those movies like District 9 or Black Dynamite that I had no idea were on the horizon, but ended up movies that helped me gauge just how awesome last year was. So with all that said, let’s get to what I do know is coming out that I think is going to rock the house in 2010.

10 to Look Out for in 2010

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Alright so sue me, but I think this series has just gotten better and better as it’s gone along. While the opening movies were too slavish to every single detail of the books, the latest Potter films have tried to forgo the minutiae of the books in favor of just telling intriguing stories and making you actually care about the inner struggles of the characters. Still, spreading the last book out into two movies is a good idea, because the last thing you want is for this final story to be rushed to get to the eventual great battle between good and evil.

This series has gone from what I thought was a goofy looking series to one that absolutely earns my respect. I think the reverence for the stories they’ve told have gotten more and more interesting, and I’m ready to jump into this climactic adventure, expecting a certain level of expert storytelling. Sure, this one is going to be mostly setup, but I’m sure there’s still going to be a lot to like when this one comes out in November.

9. Inception

Did anyone see that last trailer for this and not get excited about the possibilities of this film? I think it would be tough to argue that Christopher Nolan isn’t in the top tier of directors working right now, and I’m going to stand up and pay attention to his work each and every time the man puts something out. The last time he put something out that didn’t have Batman in it, we got The Prestige, which I thought was one of the most clever and intriguing movies of the last decade, so I can’t even imagine what he has in store for us this time.

What’s great about this, is that The Dark Knight was so successful that it looks like Warner Bros. has given Nolan the keys to the kingdom this time out, and the director’s imagination has run wild without restraint. Nolan isn’t out to make vanity projects or movies that show how great he is at using effects, and he damned sure isn’t into making cash-ins. He’s simply a director that tells as interesting a story as possible each and every time out. This is pretty much as close to a lock as I can see coming out this year.

8. Ip Man 2

Did you guys see Ip Man? No? Do you like Martial Arts movies? Well, it’s available on Amazon right now. I’ll wait.

Done? Holy crap, that was awesome right?

Let me tell you, if there’s a second coming of Bruce Lee out there right now, Donnie Yen gets my vote. A star with charisma, grace, and fists of fury, Yen is working at an amazingly high level at the moment, and it’s too bad he hasn’t had the exposure in the states in the same way a lot of his contemporaries have. His 2009 film Ip man was a work of beauty; the story of a man that faced down Japanese oppressors during their WWII occupation of Shanghai, Ip Man was also the man that would eventually come to be the man who taught Bruce Lee Martial Arts. In Ip Man 2, we’re finally going to get to meet a young Bruce Lee.

Not only that, but Ip Man 2 promises to bring the same incredible fights that the first movie provided, including a rematch between Donnie Yen and legendary Hong Kong star Sammo Hung. Yen is just hitting his prime and we’re seeing now the type of amazing work he can really give us. No movie out of Hong Kong could get me more excited than this one does in ’10.

7. Edge of Darkness

During the Christmas season, there are always two movies that I want to watch more than any others. One of them, of course, is Die Hard. The other is always Lethal Weapon. During my Christmas tradition this year, I really started to lament how much I missed Gibson onscreen, as through the years he’s always been one of my favorite stars from Mad Max to Braveheart to yes, Lethal Weapon. Now finally, in 2010 I finally get to see Gibson onscreen again, in what looks to be a revenge-happy barn-burner with the director of Casino Royale at the helm. Nobody really does revenge like Gibson (see Mad Max, Braveheart, The Patriot, Payback), and I can’t wait to see him take out some scumbags.

6. Robin Hood.

You may be asking yourself if we need another version of this story, but could you really ask for a better actor/director combination to bring this legend to the screen? Let’s face it, if you need an epic hero, Russell Crowe seems to be your man, and unlike the last guy to play Robin Hood in a big budget Hollywood epic, Crowe can actually pull off a convincing English accent. On top of that, you’ve got a director (Ridley Scott) that seems to know this genre inside and out and understands how to completely put you in the world and time period you’re supposed to be experiencing.

It’s incredible to think that with all the times Robin Hood has been brought to screen, the best and most exciting version of the tale was brought to life over 70 years ago with The Adventures of Robin Hood, but I think Scott and Crowe have a chance to do something special here. I think movies such as Kingdom of Heaven (The Director’s Cut) and Master and Commander show those worlds for what they really were. That’s what I really want to see here. I don’t need a modern revisionist telling, just an honest one.

5. Ong Bak 3

Bring on the crazy. I absolutely have no idea what Tony Jaa has in store for us with Ong Bak 3 but I can’t wait to see it. I can guarantee lots of fighting and elephants, but other than that I can’t speak for the film whatsoever. It could finish the story started in Ong Bak 2, which did leave room for a sequel, or it could be hundreds of years in the future. I simply don’t know, but I want to and I want to see if this movie can live up to the awesome potential of the movie that came before it.

4. Kick-Ass

I haven’t got to read much of the series that this movie is based on, because it’s hard to find most of the individual issues for this series and they bizarrely haven’t put this out in graphic novel form yet. On the other hand, what I have read has been awesome and I know that I usually dig the hell out of anything from Mark Millar. What I’m hoping happens in movie form, is that Kick-Ass ends up living up its title, and at least comes up to the level of the last adaptation of Millar’s book, Wanted. I thought that movie was one of the best action films of 2008, and I think this has the potential to be even better.

Speaking of potential, I hope the movie is a complete riot and finally gives Matthew Vaughn the hit he’s needed for a little while now. After producing Guy Ritchie’s ridiculously fun Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, he made his own great gangster film with Layer Cake, but after that he was involved with the whole X-men III debacle and I think his version of Stardust was a bit of a disappointment. Thankfully, everything I’ve heard about Kick-Ass, says that he may have put all that behind him, and has set himself up to be the next big thing. If nothing else, the footage I’ve seen of Nicolas Cage looks like vintage B-movie awesome Nicolas Cage, which is reason enough to check this one out.

3. Iron Man 2

Who in their right mind isn’t looking forward to this movie? If I had to choose just one Marvel superhero movie to watch for the rest of my life, Iron Man would absolutely be a contender (I’m a BIG Blade II fan). The first film was a blast from start to finish and this one looks poised to take the world by storm, and if it’s able to give us the charm, wit, action, and romance from the first movie, it’s going to do just that. The public is in love with Robert Downey, Jr. right now, and if this movie isn’t one of the biggest hits of this year I’ll be really surprised. Add to that mix Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and the returning Gwyneth Paltrow and we’ve got absolute dynamite on our hands.

It’s seriously hard to see a downside to this movie so far and I doubt that there really will be one.

2. Machete

I’ve been pining for this movie ever since the fake trailer for it was produced for Grindhouse. There’s a special place in my heart for Robert Rodriguez, because when he wants to put his mind to doing some classic exploitation bad-assery, I’m inclined to think it’s going to be amazing. I’m looking for this movie to be the best things that I love about movies like Death Wish, Payback, Sin City, Coffy, Rolling Thunder, Out for Justice, and the Mariachi Trilogy. I want something gritty and violent that keeps my pulse pounding.

Plus, it’s one thing to have Danny Trejo as your hero, but when your villains are Robert De Niro and Steven Seagal, well that’s just singing my tune. Every time I see an image from this movie my anticipation for it just gets bigger and bigger, because I know Rodriguez can bring the thunder when he wants to, and these are the types of movies the guy was born to direct. Between this and Predators, this could be a banner year for him as a creator.

1. The Expendables

It seems like every time I hear a bit of news about this movie, it gets more and more awesome in my mind. Could there really be a better cast for an action fan than one that includes Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, and Dolph Lundgren? How about one with those guys along, with Mickey Rourke, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Randy Couture, and Eric Roberts, along with cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is like some kind of dream that I don’t want to wake up from. The only way the cast could be better is if they could add Carl Weathers, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, and the ghosts of Bruce Lee, Lee Marvin, and Charles Bronson.

The plot may end up being ridiculous and I’m not expecting any Oscar glory to come out of this movie, but what I am hoping for is a nonstop barrage of action with a capital A from start to finish. You put Rambo, Chen Zhen, the Transporter, Ivan Drago, and Marv from Sin City in the same movie together, this better be the most gut-punching, face-kicking piece of awesome I’ve ever seen. It may end up being impossible for this movie to live up to my expectations, but with Stallone at the helm and that cast, there’s just bound to be enough visceral excitement to sneak through that this won’t be able to be anything but terrific.

Hopefully, all of these movies live up to what they can be. If they are, we’re in for one hell of a good year.

Robert Sutton feels the most at home when he's watching some movie scumbag getting blown up, punched in the face, or kung fu'd to death, especially in that order. He's a founding writer for the movies section of Insidepulse.com, featured in his weekly column R0BTRAIN's Badass Cinema as well as a frequent reviewer of DVDs and Blu-rays. Also, he's a proud Sony fanboy, loves everything Star Wars and Superman related and hopes to someday be taken seriously by his friends and family.