Bad Movies Done Right — JCVD is a Real Sport

Will Ferrell loves him some athletics.

Fostering a filmography that looks more like a gym class lesson plan, Ferrell has already endeared himself to the ESPN crowd with films such as the NASCAR-themed Talladega Nights (brief aside: can any activity where the main challenge is turning left actually be considered a sport?), Kicking and Screaming, Semi-Pro and Blades of Glory.

Ferrell hasn’t released a sports-themed movie in a while, though. Which makes me kind of nervous that the might have run out of ideas. How will he ever challenge the monopoly on sports-themed comedies currently held by Air Bud and family?

While it may seem as if there are no more sports left to laugh at, there is no need to fret. As long as there is dead air to fill on ESPN, there will always be new sports to be invented.

While we wait for the next sport to be thought-up over a twelve-pack of beer and a dare, here are a few existing sports just waiting to be made into a Will Ferrell movie.

Freeze Tag

Almost everybody remembers playing freeze tag on the playground. Those that don’t remember playing the game, remember crying when the popular kids told them that they couldn’t play because they smelled funny.

Freeze tag, for those either smelly or out of the loop, is a variation of tag, a game that involves a person or persons who are “it” and must “tag” other players.

In freeze tag, players who have been tagged must remain frozen until they are freed by another member of their team.

While there has not been a movie that deals specifically with the competitive world of freeze tag, the game of tag can be seen as a basis for countless horror movies where instead of somebody being “it,” they are a masked killer with a machete and instead of “tagging” players, they brutally slaughter teenagers in some ironic way.

Combat Robots

As our country gets more and more obese, we will begin to rely more on building things to do our sports for us. Robot combat, a gladiator-style death match between two or more man-operated machines, has been made famous by such late-night shows such as Battlebots and Robot Wars.

In a typical match, glorified RC cars are pitted against each other in a game of “who can destroy each other’s hard work first.” These are no ordinary robots, though. They have been outfitted with blades, buzz saws, pinchers and battering rams.

While some may find it entertaining to watch machines poke each other with sharp implements, this is worst possible thing for humanity to be participating in.

Strapping weapons on a vacuum cleaner brings us that much closer to SkyNet’s rise to power. When battlebot designers find themselves being turned into a battery by their toaster oven, I just hope they enjoyed their little hobby.

Live-Action Role-Playing

If there is any group training to be future defenders against a machine uprising, its live-action role-players, or LARPers for short.

A LARPer is a rare-breed of warrior who wages war in the battlefield of their imagination. Constructing weaponry and armor from ingredients that can be bought at Hobby Lobby, these weekend warriors adopt the make-believe persona of fantasy figures, using what Mr. Roger taught them to turn city parks into a battle for Middle-Earth.

Using a fairly complex point system that I have neither the space to explain nor the inclination to pretend to understand, LARPers strike each other with fake swords, maces and other hand-crafted weapons in a cross between fencing and Cowboys and Indians.

While Role Models explored the game somewhat, we have yet to have a full-fledged LARPing comedy. For an engrossing documentary on the subject, though, check out Darkon, a movie that explores two rival LARPers.



Bad Movie of the Week — Universal Solder: The Return

Universal Solder: The Return is an awe-inspiring brushstroke of genius. Comparable to the likes of Citizen Kane in its style and Lawrence of Arabia in its scope, US:TR transcends everyday paltry cinema to become something more — something breathtaking.

Once you witness the majesty contained within the film’s all-to-fleeting 82 minutes, all other movies will diminish when seen in US:TR‘s grandiose shadow.

This is the reason why movies are made.

Nah… I’m just bullshitting you.

Universal Solder: The Return is one bad movie. The good news, though, is that it’s a bad movie that, under the right state of inebriation, can be a joy to watch.

I can’t say I’m much of a scholar when it comes to the fabled Universal Solder franchise. Being a male child in the ‘90s, I was, of course, aware of the films’ existence and possibly, maybe watched one or two of the made-for-television sequels to the original 1992 film.

I vaguely remembered Universal Solder: The Return being released in 1999 — mostly due to the Megadeth song Crush ‘Em, from the US:TR soundtrack, that played non-stop on the rock radio station of my hometown in the summer of ’99.

When a mix-up occurred and I was sent Universal Solder: The Return instead of Universal Solder: Regeneration, the recently released fourth sequel in the series, I decided to just go with the flow and watch the Blu-ray copy of Universal Solder: The Return.

What little I knew about the series turned out to be just enough to understand the plot of Universal Solder: The Return, which apparently ignored the two made-for-TV sequels that had come before.

Jean-Cluade Van Damme returns as Luc Deveraux, a Vietnam solder who, after being killed in combat, was resurrected as a computer chip-enhanced killing machine.

In The Return, Luc has forsaken his heritage as a cyborg and is now just an ordinary G.I. Joe, lending his expertise to the U.S. Government and helping them train and evaluate the new generation of universal solders.

These solders are supervised by the watchful robotic eye of S.E.T.H., a computer program with dreams of world conquest. When S.E.T.H., voiced by Michael Jai White, overhears news that the universal solder program is about to be shut down, he resorts to that old robot trick and kills his human masters and recruits an army of Universal Solders to take over the world.

Well, as you might of guessed, it’s up to the Muscles from Brussels to put a stop to S.E.T.H. and the cyborg corpses. Unfortunately for JCVD, S.E.T.H. has implanted his programming into the body of a genetically modified super solder (also played by Jai White).

Universal Solder: The Return is the type of bad movie that revels in its awfulness.

Full of bad lines, even worse plot contrivances and enough male body builder posturing to make happy any gay man or fan of wrestling (but really, what’s the difference?).

But before you think this movie is nothing more then shirtless muscle-bound dudes punching each other, there’s also a brief bar fight in a strip club. So if you’ve ever wanted to see a topless, big-breasted perform a high kick into a man’s head — this is the movie for you.

I can’t, in any right mind, recommend Universal Solder: The Revenge to anybody with a taste for good movies. I can, though, whole-heartedly recommend the film to anybody and everyone who loves bad movies.

Unfortunately, the film’s Blu-ray is nothing to crow about. I’ve seen Blu-ray transfers of 40-year-old movies that look better then this fuzzy re-master of the 1999 action movie. The disc does come with a few featurettes: a five-minute making-of, a four-minute spot on Michael Jai White’s training regime and a 12-minute retrospective of JCVD’s career.

I’ve seen a lot of bad movies in the last year and Universal Solder: The Return was, without a doubt, one of the most fun.

It’s big and stupid in the kind of way that made me kind of see why pretty girls go for the dumb jocks in high school.

The film is ballsy in its awfulness — almost like it was trying to be the worst possible movie it could be.

Between JCVD’s drunken-slur-like delivery of lines (I know he has an accent but surely he doesn’t always sound like he’s just had a stroke) and Bill Goldberg’s cartoon-like role as Romeo, the Yosemite Sam of killer robot movies, US:TR is a lot of fun — in a bad way.

Robert Saucedo is the Yosemite Sam of bad movie fans. Visit him on the web at www.robsaucedo.com.

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