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  • 1 year later...

The Big Man: Crossing the Line  (1990)  -  5/10


Misfire crime drama with Liam Neeson as a Scottish ex-con and former mine worker who is desperate for work, as he must support his wife (Joanne Whalley) and two young children. He's offered a chance at some big money by shady big city operator Matt Mason (Ian Bannen), but it will require Neeson to partake in an underground bare-knuckles boxing match. Also featuring Billy Connolly, Peter Mullan, Pat Roach, Maurice Roeves, Ken Drury, Rab Affleck, and Hugh Grant.

This spends much of its runtime as a typical boxing drama, with Neeson's character dealing with family problems while undergoing the cliched fight training sequences. It gets more interesting when the actual fight occurs, and then afterward as the crime story elements come into play, but its not enough to save the film. This was a Miramax release, and apparently Harvey Weinstein pulled one of his notorious hatchet jobs, taking the original director's cut of just under two hours and chopping it down to 90 minutes, sacrificing some much needed character depth along the way.


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The Crucifer of Blood  (1991)  -  5/10


Dull TV-movie take on Sherlock Holmes, with Charlton Heston miscast in the lead role, and Richard Johnson as Dr. Watson. They undertake a case involving a supposedly cursed chest of jewels brought to England from India. With Simon Callow as Lestrade, Edward Fox, Susannah Harker, John Castle, and Clive Wood. Originally shown on the TNT channel, and shot in the UK, this was scripted, produced, and directed by Charlton's son Fraser Heston. Both Heston and Johnson make for boring versions of their venerable characters, while the rest of the cast isn't given much to work with, either. 



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The Indian Runner  (1991)  -  7/10


In late 60's Nebraska, a highway patrolman (David Morse) struggles to deal with his younger brother (Viggo Mortensen), an former soldier with a unpredictable violent streak. Also featuring Valeria Golino, Patricia Arquette, Charles Bronson, Sandy Dennis, Benicio Del Toro, and Dennis Hopper. A then-30-year-old Sean Penn wrote and directed this, and it has the hallmarks of a first film, with an occasionally weak focus and some self-indulgent bits. But overall I liked it. Mortensen, in one of his earliest major roles, has the most heavy lifting to do acting-wise and he's pretty good, although weak in spots. Bronson is surprisingly effective in a small role as the main characters' father. This was the final film of Sandy Dennis, briefly seen as their mother.

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Bitter Moon  (1992)  -  7/10


Erotic thriller from director Roman Polanski. Staid British couple Nigel (Hugh Grant) and Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) are on a romantic oceanic cruise. They meet wheelchair-bound American writer Oscar (Peter Coyote) and his young French wife Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner), and Oscar regales the shocked Nigel with tales of Mimi's sexual adventurousness, leading to Nigel becoming obsessed with her. This was savaged by the critics when it came out, but I didn't think it was that bad. The acting was good, although Seigner (Polanski's wife) was weak in spots. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

We Die Young (2019)  -  6/10


Surprisingly competent crime drama about a Washington, D.C. teen (Elijah Rodriguez) mixed up with the local MS-13 gang. The kid sells drugs for gang boss Rincon (David Castaneda), including opioids to Afghan-war vet and auto mechanic Daniel (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who suffers from PTSD and painful injuries that have left him mute and with a permanent tracheostomy. When the kid gets into trouble trying to protect his little brother from the gang, Daniel steps in to help.

Van Damme hasn't starred in a good movie in decades, but this wasn't bad, as far as low budget crime dramas go, and the performances by everyone are good. Castaneda's gang boss is a complex character, and Van Damme's aged visage adds to a wordless performance. Not great, or even very good, this is still the best thing Van Damme's made in a long time.

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Reprisal (2018)  -  4/10


Low-rent, uninspired crime drama with Frank Grillo as a family man and assistant bank manager. When his bank is robbed by a violent, methodical pro (Johnathon Schaech), Grillo is left emotionally traumatized. He eventually teams up with his neighbor (Bruce Willis), a retired police detective, to track down the robber and bring him to justice.

Grillo is better than this kind of cheap junk, although it's the sort of thing that Willis appears in too often anymore. It straddles the line between a crime thriller and a dim-bulb action flick. Either way, it's bad.

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