Monday Morning Critic – Top 10 Films To Get You Ready For The Expendables 2 – Al Pacino & Jeremy Irons

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

It’s kind of sad that in the middle of August my list of anticipated films ends with The Expendables sequel coming out this Friday. Skyfall is still on the horizon but after Quantum of Solace my expectations for another Bond film have been tempered. The end of the year is in sight and 2012 is looking really bad so far in terms of film quality. But ripping on films is standard web writer crap and with such a big fun film coming out it’s time to have a little fun with it.

Thus, with a big action film ready to kick ass and take names, it’s time to do the lazy thing and go with a list. But it is a big, awesome list as we do the Top 10 Films That Will Get You Ready For The Expendables 2. But only with a couple of criteria at first, of course, to make it interesting:

1. Can’t be a signature film

You want a film from an actor that isn’t the first one you think of. It’s easy to pick up Rocky for Stallone, of course, but that’s also easy.

2. Has to star an Expendables 2 actor

It’s only fitting because let’s be honest; there are great films out there that’ll get you pumped for this film but they need to have someone in this film to get your excitement up.

3. Can Be A Little Off-Beat

I like seeing actors before they crafted their signature on-screen personalities; it gives you a glimpse into their total talent level and their presence before they became mega-famous for playing a variant on a role.

Top 10 Films That Will Get You Ready For The Expendables 2

10. Stay Hungry

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a film that won him a Golden Globe, he plays a bodybuilder with a quirky personality trying to win Mr. Universe. It’s a supporting role that showcases his acting chops; the one thing that’s evident is that this guy is going to be a star. It was the same feeling I had when I saw Jon Jones fight in the UFC for the first time; you could this guy is going to be something spectacular, you just don’t know how big yet. There’s something there, though, and young Schwarzenegger is fascinating to see. Before he became the same character but with a different name he was a bodybuilder with loads of charisma and personality trying to become an actor.


9. Death Race 2000

Before he became Rocky Balboa, Roger Corman thought of Sylvester Stallone as the next great evil cinematic badass. As Machine Gun Joe, a role Tyrese Gibson took on in the Jason Statham remake, Stallone gets to have some fun as a bad guy. Stallone was young and this was a Corman film, of course, but it’s a fun little exploitation flick. Corman may never have made anything that was brilliant but he always fun; Stallone going over the top as a bad guy is good camp fun.


8. Tears of the Sun

An R-rated action film that had variants of a war film in it, it never found an audience but it has a great theme exploring why good men take on a cause they have no stake in. I can see why it couldn’t find an audience but it’s a great film. The Last Boy Scout is an alternate if you need it.


7. Idiocracy

I saw it twice in theatres and most people only found it on DVD, but Idiocracy is Terry Crews’s finest hour. Why? U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is easily the greatest cinematic U.S President ever. Idiocracy is a great film, of course, but Crews is just so money in it.


6. Once I Was a Champion

Randy Couture’s cinematic library isn’t exactly developed at this point but he did have a part discussing the life and times of Evan Tanner in this little documentary. I’m not sure if you can find it though legitimate means but the downside of having a guy with a big career outside of film, and making his mark in the past couple years, is that he doesn’t have a big resume to work off of.

The one thing he does have, though, is a great resume of talking about fighting. His discussion of a guy he considered a friend is interesting and it lends an insight into the early days of MMA.


5. Showdown in Little Tokyo

It was one of Brandon Lee’s first big American films but sometimes you need an established actor to play off of. Thus Dolph Lundgren joined up and the film, which was a disaster in every way, is kind of emblematic of crappy ‘80s action films. It is a bad film that only got noteworthy after Lee died on the set of The Crow but it has all the hallmarks of crappy action films from the period.


4. Unleashed

Jet Li may not have been able to make the leap from niche star to bigger star with this film, which had a big profile release but not the same in returns, but Li has a fun outing with Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins. And he holds his own on screen opposite those two, as well, and I wish it had found a bigger audience than it did.


3. Hard Target

It may be more remembered as John Woo’s failed U.S debut but Jean-Claude Van Damme wasn’t particularly rancid in it. He was a go to action star at the time and doesn’t nearly as much love in retrospect as it could.


2. Sidekicks

If it wasn’t for the Chuck Norris Facts we’d remember Chuck Norris as a washed up ‘80s action star that never really was massive, just in that era when anyone with a martial arts background and could speak a line of dialogue without sounding like they just had a stroke was Hollywood’s latest badass. See: Steven Seagal. Now he’s some sort of round-kicking badass and Walker, Texas Ranger is viewed as something other than ridiculous entertainment. But there was always Sidekicks to redeem all of the stupidity.

Following Norris as himself, it focuses on an asthmatic teenager (Jonathan Brandis) who fantasize about being in Norris films. He gets bullied and learns karate to become a badass like Chuck; it leads to a big competition at the end with Chuck coming in to help his newfound buddy get the girl and save the day. Think of it as a modern Karate Kid but more self-aware.


1. Mean Machine

Before he became the heir apparent to the action stars of old, Jason Statham was trying to just be an actor. And as Monk in a British remake of The Longest Yard, he was a badass goalkeeper who helps a bunch of prisoners beat the guards in a soccer game. Might be the best of the remakes of the Burt Reynolds classic over the years, as well, and it’s one of the few films about proper football that isn’t complete garbage not called Victory.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Merchant of Venice

When it comes to cinematic adaptations Shakespeare’s works are either hit or miss. The ones that miss tend to be front and center, the ones that don’t are missed because they strive to be close to the source material. The Merchant of Venice is one of them, as Al Pacino and company strive for a strict adaptation and as such in 2004 it went under the radar.

Pacino stars as Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in Venice, Italy, who gets screwed out of his money by his daughter and the son of a longtime enemy in Antonio (Jeremy Irons). But Antonio has taken out a substantial loan from Shylock for the same son, with a pound of his flesh forfeit for not paying it back, and when a major shipment Antonio was expecting to cover the loan winds up shipwrecked Shylock goes after what he legally is owed.

It’s not quite Branagh’s Hamlet but it’s a really good adaptation of good source material. Pacino is epic as Shylock and Irons is quite good opposite him, as well, and this probably the definitive cinematic version of the source material. It can be a bit tough to get into because of the dialogue, though, so it’s not for everyone.

Recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Expendables 2 – Another mission for the badass group of old school mercenaries.

See It – No other explanation needed.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green – Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner can’t have beautiful children together. So they plant a box and one sprouts up. Shenanigans ensue. It’s being released on Wednesday.

Skip It – This has been in the can and ready for release but held off for a really long time. That’s usually not a good sign.

ParaNorman – A young child takes on the undead for possession of his town.

See It – It’s from the people who did Coraline and that was quite good. Benefit of doubt = given.

Sparkle – A gal from American Idol is a singer during the MoTown era of music. Whitney Houston put the crack pipe down long enough to make this her last film, apparently, and it’s a remake of a fairly popular film from the 1970s. In limited release.

Skip It – Looks like a lesser grade Dreamgirls, which wasn’t all that good.

Cosmopolis – Robert Pattinson is a billionaire whose life goes to hell and then decides to join in the fun. In limited release.

See It – Pattinson is usually money when he doesn’t have to play a sparkly vampire.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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