Phil Hubbs (phubbs1)UK
Phil's Recent Reviews
Oh back in the day, the glorious day of the top shelf, unreachable 18 cert films. This was the home of many horror nasties and dubious looking action movies that were deemed to be much too violent for the lower shelves.
So back in the early 90's at the height of JCVD's high kicking power he had one classic brawl flick come out after another. In the midst of this Belgian tidalwave of awesomeness came the smaller high kicking French power of Oliver Gruner.
This one film was pretty much his biggest vehicle ever (until the possibility of 'Expendables 3') and it took huge advantage of JCVD's recent fight fests. The plot is quite simply about one French student who comes to the US to study. He lives with a mother and daughter within a rough gangland neighbourhood (LA I presume, why its called 'Angel Town') and inadvertently becomes the saviour of the block. Yep you guessed it, he's gonna kickbox some thug ass.
The quality of this film is really gritty, but not gritty in a realistic way, more in a cheap low budget way. Here's me expecting something slick like the muscles from Brussels but instead we get a very dodgy audio track with tonnes of background dubbing and old fashioned fight effects, Gruner almost seems to be miming or badly dubbed himself and some very weak fight coordination/choreography.
The whole film feels so damn cheesy its unreal, yes I realise this is an old film but its nowhere near the standard of the old JCVD stuff. All the fights were very disappointing as everything looked really fake, you could see the kicks and punches deliberately missing the intended targets. On top of that the hit effects were like something out of an old western for pete's sake!.
The only decent sequence in the whole film was the short training montage in the middle where Gruner gets all sweaty and serious. This montage shows us some great moves that look real damaging plus Gruner looks good too, unlike the rest of the film where he looks like a bit of a nerd.
It was produced by the folks who gave us the awesome 'A.W.O.L.' ('Lionheart') with some Belgian fella, you can see the similarities here. Unfortunately its nowhere near as good in any aspect and shows Gruner for what he has always been...the poor mans JCVD, sorry Oliver.
Always loved how some of the bad guys have guns (look like uzi's), yet when they are watching their fellow gang members getting beaten up they don't actually use them! eh?.
Fantastic title for a film this, quintessential 50's sci-fi schlock with a typical tacky title that tells you everything you need to know, but it sounds so damn cool!. The funny thing is this film really should be called 'Earth vs the USA' because there isn't really anyone else involved. How dare those pesky aliens even think about attacking the US of A! Stars n Stripes away lads!.
So plot...UFO's attack the Earth, USA attacks back, USA wins, the end. What would we do without the USA? I ask ya. Much like 'It Came from Beneath the Sea' this film is made up of a lot of dialog involving what is happening and then how to deal with it, plus a small romance stuffed in the middle.
There are snippets of UFO/alien action dotted throughout but the main event doesn't kick off until the end typically. When we do see the aliens they are gloriously basic looking bordering on childish. For the day I'm sure they looked quite impressive but naturally these days they attract more giggles as they waddle around in their cardboard looking space suits. The small segment where the hero tries on a captured alien helmet is so daft and cheap looking its fantastic, he literately has a plastic bucket on his head.
The actual flying saucers are of course the highlight of the film. Even though they are incredibly basic in design they have influenced so many sci-fi films ever since (famously 'Mars Attacks' which is pretty much a homage) and probably people's minds in how alien craft should look. Animated by Harryhausen they don't look much of a challenge for the skilled craftsman but its the destruction of major buildings when the saucers crash that present the work and show his talents. How iconic is the downfall of the Washington Monument! that little sequence is still perfect to this day, and lets not forget about that classic flying saucer humming noise they make.
What I did find amusing was the fact these aliens were suppose to be attacking the entire planet. Yet once our plucky hero and his glamorous assistant worked out how to defeat them and went about doing so with many faceless expendable military men, that was it!. They brought down all the saucers and that was it, no one thinks to check for the alien crews inside in case they are gonna attack. Plus no one mentions anything about the rest of the saucers attacking other countries, did all they manage to defeat the saucers the same as the heroic Americans?? there is no mention of sharing their alien beating discovery with other countries I don't think (unless I missed it).
I would also hope they use the new alien technology for their own gains, no mention of this but surely they would for the sequel hehe.
So yes the whole film is pretty much exactly the same as all the previous films, it just substitutes monsters for aliens. We have the standard sensible hero, his attractive female sidekick, plenty of elderly/brainy scientists and military types all together with an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' formulaic story. As that saying suggests it does work and it is good fun, the flying saucer sequences being the best of course. Not the best film, still not beating '20,000 Fathoms' but definitely better than 'It Came from Beneath the Sea'.
Phil's Favorite Movies
The predator is the greatest alien created, Stan Winston is a genius, the best 80's, adrenaline, testosterone, muscle filled action man flick ever with one of the best character actor line ups since 'Con Air' plus the effects still look better than most modern films today! The Austrian Oaks best flick for me by far and possibly my all time favourite film. 'I ain't got time to bleed'.
Another Stan Winston creation with Cameron direction, genius. State of the badass art! this film rocks on every level, the only downer for me is the fact that you never really saw hords of aliens, some would say its more powerful that way but I think it would have been more tense and savage. Its still the perfect film with the perfect ensemble cast, amazing tension, fantastic hands on effects, realistic working sci-fi, dark, gritty...hell I don't even really need to go on about it, awesometastic sequel!