The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 12.30.13: Issue #288 - Hard Justice (1995)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 12.30.2013
A look at David Bradley's 1995 movie Hard Justice, thoughts on the “new” Mike & Molly, the 2013 Douchebag of the Year is crowned and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #288: Hard Justice (1995)
It's a David Bradley December: Week 4
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been asked to cook scrambled eggs for anyone, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and eighty-eight, It's a David Bradley December concludes with a look at Bradley's 1995 effort Hard Justice, directed by Greg Yaitanes.
Hard Justice (1995)
Hard Justice is probably David Bradley's best movie. It's also one of his last efforts as an actor (according to imdb Bradley would only make five more movies after Hard Justice, with 1997's Crisis the last one). For a low budget action flick, Hard Justice doesn't act like a low budget movie. It's chock full of top notch performances and insane action sequences that are amazing to watch (the opening and closing shootouts put many big budget action flick shootout scenes to shame). The movie, as far as I know, isn't considered a modern action movie classic, but that should change. It needs to change. The movie is just too damn good to be ignored.
Bradley stars as Nick Adams, a badass ATF agent hot on the trail of notorious gun runner Jimmy Wong (Yuji Okumoto). As the movie begins Adams is about to jump down via helicopter into an abandoned warehouse where Wong is about to make a major deal with some underworld scum. Adams is impatient as he doesn't want Wong to "get away again," but his boss Larry Dickerson (the great Clabe Hartley) wants Adams to wait for backup. The warehouse is full of bad guys, and while there is an undercover ATF agent inside, he isn't going to be much help to Adams, especially if Wong has all of the henchmen he usually has. As you'd expect him to, badass Nick Adams ignores his boss' pleas and drops in on the gun deal heavily armed and alone. A quick standoff with Wong ensues, and then all hell breaks loose. Things explode, people drop to the ground from various heights in slow motion, and both Adams and Wong shift back and forth between using two guns at once and using only one. After one of the greatest opening action movie scenes of the 1990's, Wong escapes the warehouse and Adams follows. When Adams finally catches up to Wong the gun runner has a female hostage and a grenade. Wong threatens Adams with the woman's death if he isn't allowed to get away. Adams agrees to allow Wong to leave but, because he's a badass ATF agent who knows martial arts, Adams tricks Wong, kicks a gun up into his own hand and shoots Wong, knocking the bad guy to the ground. Sadly, in the course of neutralizing Wong Adams fails to grab Wong's grenade and the grenade explodes, killing the female hostage. But at least Wong was down. That's what mattered. Adams refused to accept that reasoning, as he's not about killing innocent people, accidentally or otherwise, but there was little he could do after the fact except go for a long ride on his motorcycle to think about his job and his life. Was he in the right business?
After some deep soul searching Adams decides to come back to the ATF, and it's at this point that Adams learns about his old partner and best friend Mani (Doug Kruse) dying while working undercover in a prison. Pissed off about losing yet another person close to him (although, to be fair, the female hostage was just some woman. It wasn't his sister or anything like that), Adams tells his boss Dickerson that he wants to go undercover in the same prison Mani went undercover in to find out why he died and what the heck is going on inside. Dickerson is reluctant at first to allow one of his best agents to go undercover inside a prison, especially under the guidelines Adams insists upon (the only people allowed to know he's undercover will be Dickerson and fellow agent Hannah, played by Benita Andre). But, since Nick Adams is Nick Adams Dickerson allows Adams to go inside undercover.
The prison, run by Warden Pike (the brilliant Charles Napier), is a goddamn hellhole. The place is overrun by vicious gangs and assorted psychos, and the guards aren't exactly the nicest people on the planet, either (Pike's lead guard Riggs, played by Alon Stivi, is a monster with a silver nightstick). In fact, Adams gets his ass kicked the first day he's inside. However, ass kicking aside, Adams does strike up a friendship with Mr. Clean (Jim Maniaci), a lifer who will protect Adams and show him the ins and outs of the prison.
Trying to find out what Mani was up to is difficult business. Every time it seems Adams is close to finding out something he gets his ass kicked or something happens. Hannah, posing as Adams' lawyer, visits with Adams every so often to see how he's doing and to find out what the heck is going on inside. Adams isn't all that forthcoming, but Hannah knows that Adams is in danger. She decides to do some investigative work of her own on the outside. Really, what the heck is going on inside that prison?
I don't want to say any more about the movie as it does contain a few nifty twists towards the end. I will say, though, that there is a very cool prison riot at the end and a damn good shootout. The shootout isn't as good as the one at the beginning of the movie but it's still pretty dang awesome. There are a few slow moments, mostly involving Hannah's outside investigation, but they're few and far between and they do provide some breathers in between the action and fight scenes. Director Yaitanes, who is apparently a big shot TV director now (check out his imdb page for a list of all of the top flight shows he's been a part of. He's also apparently won an Emmy), sure knows how to get the most bang for his buck throughout. I'd love to know why he didn't become a big time Hollywood action director. I bet he could have kicked some major ass with $30 million.
The cast is just superb. Bradley, again, is at his best here as Nick Adams. He's a total badass when he's in super ATF agent mode but he's also a nice guy when interacting with his prison buddy Mr. Clean or with Benita Andre's Hannah. And his good guy-bad guy chemistry with Yuji Okumoto is electric. I'm shocked that they didn't do a series of movies together. And Okumoto, my God, is so damn good as Wong. He's a piece of crap criminal, sure, but he's also kind of funny and you can easily see why so many people want to do business with him (the dude is cool).
Charles Napier gives one of the best wacked out performances of his career as the prison warden Pike. When he starts talking about his days as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam watch the hell out (and I'd get out of his way, too, when he picks up an Uzi. You're not going to like what happens). Pike deserves to be on poster or a T-shirt, wearing a trench coat and wielding two Uzis like a madman. It's one of those kinds of performances.
Clabe Hartley, of Trancers 4 and Trancers 5 fame, doesn't have much to do at first as Bradley's ATF boss Larry Dickerson, but he does get to play towards the end of the movie and he does his usual fine job. And Andre, despite the slow moments she's saddled with, does a good job as Hannah.
Jim Maniaci is cool as Adams' prison buddy Mr. Clean. And Alon Stivi, who I don't think actually speaks in the movie, is an imposing presence as the badass prison guard Riggs. And Adam Clark is fun as Squid, the guy in prison who can get you anything you need (you'll either laugh at what happens to him or you'll cry. I sort of did both). And the great Vernon Wells shows up as Galaxy 500, a psycho prisoner who is, well, a psycho. It's one of Wells' weirder performances, sure, but it's also the kind of thing the world should encourage more from him.
And be on the lookout for Professor Toru Tanaka, who has a hilarious cameo as the badass prisoner Cookie. You will definitely laugh.
Hard Justice is such an awesome goddamn action flick. From top to bottom it's a classic that deserves far more recognition from today's movie watching public. It also deserves a special edition DVD. The fine folks at Shout! Factory should look into it.
See Hard Justice as soon as you can. See it, see it, fucking see it!
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 50+. If it isn't that high I'd be shocked.
Explosions: Several, both big and small. The big ones are goddamn big.
Doobage: A helicopter ride, a major gun sale, gun inspection, a badass drop in, a massive shootout, multiple bits of double gun action, multiple grenade attacks, multiple bits of people running in slow motion, shotgun shooting while rolling down some conveyor belt rollers, a massive explosion, multiple bits of David Bradley jumping around and shooting bad guys, grenades on fire, multiple exploding cars, Zippo lighter dropped into a pool of gasoline, yet another massive explosion, trains, hostage taking, slow motion grenade pin pull, gun kicking, a very cool motorcycle, multiple prison beatings, homophobia, a jumping spin kick in slow motion followed by a very bloody mouth, attempted shiv to the back, very gross looking food, a cafeteria brawl, prison yard basketball, finger removal, laundry detail, a vicious clothesline, a guy is, I think, put inside a washing machine, radio breaking, smuggling batteries, a prison shower brawl, back stabbing, big cigar smoking, attempted prison escape, multiple scenes where rats bite people in the hand, a confusing elevator shaft scene, a car phone, a prison shooting, a massive heart punch, a huge revelation, big guns, a massive prison riot, MAC-10 hooey, a massive shootout, a flaming box, a nifty man-on-fire gag, bus hooey, helicopter theft, a great helicopter stunt, attempted choke, car smashing, a fight on top of a bus, a guy getting thrown off the top of a bus in slow motion, exploding car with huge wild flip, exploding body, and a great ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Hollywood sign, David Bradley, Clabe Hartley, Yuki Okumoto, double gun hooey, a slow motion grenade pin pull, David Bradley riding around on a motorcycle, Charles Napier, the ugly stick, multiple prison brawls, Vernon Wells, a prison shower fight, multiple scenes where rats bite people's hands, a car phone, a prison shooting, Professor Toru Tanaka, big guns, Charles Napier going apeshit with Uzis, a massive prison riot, exploding car with huge wild flip, and a great ending.
Best lines: "Missed me? Drop dead," "Who is your supplier? Fuck you! Where's your manners?," "I want to see the body," "Nobody messes with Clean's toys," "Where did you learn how to fight like that?," "You play a heavy game. It's a heavy world," "Don't do that," "Enough! No dessert!," "You guys should really clean up your act," "Do you know him? No, I've never seen him before," "Fear not, son," "Well, I guess we're not all here to conserve water," "I'm going to keep hurting you, Nick," "Wait, I go down to go up?," "What are you planning on doing, boy? Crawling out of here?," "When you were still in diapers I was a POW in a stinking cage in Vietnam and no one ever came to see and I turned out all right," "Nick says hello," "Enjoy your last supper fuck boy!," "Welcome to your funeral," "I don't remember giving you permission to mess with my stuff," "I just watched," "I'm almost glad you lived to see this," "Don't you ever, ever test me again," "I will have order!," and "My world! I will have order!"
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey. And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear: The first Ninja (which I reviewed here) kicked ass, and the sequel, titled Shadow of a Tear for some reason, looks like it's going to kick even more ass. I didn't think that was possible, but that's what the trailer suggests. And while we've all been let down by movies with badass trailers before, I just don't think star Scott Adkins and director Isaac Florentine are going to let us down. I can't goddamn wait to see this.
- Sweetwater: This low budget western revenge flick has an amazing cast (Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs, Eduardo Noriega, country superstar Jason Aldean, and the immortal Stephen Root are in this flick) but an iffy digital look. Hopefully the actual movie isn't as iffy as the trailer. Very rentable.
- Sanitarium: Malcolm McDowell, Robert Englund, and Lou Diamond Phillips star in this low budget horror anthology that, based on the red band trailer below, looks pretty messed up. And, for my money, you want that kind of thing for your low budget horror anthology movie. If it's messed up more people are likely to see it. "Messed up" is always a draw.
TV Quick Hits
- The "new" Mike & Molly: No one really knew what the heck CBS was talking about when it advertised the next season of the hit sitcom Mike & Molly as the "new" Mike & Molly. What exactly did "new" mean here? Was the show rebooting itself? Were the title characters moving to a new city to run a bed and breakfast? Just what the heck was "new" about the show that was entering its fourth season?
Well, several episodes in we now know what "new" means. It means that the show is now more about Molly's new "career" as a writer than anything else. It's also about Molly's "wacky" adventures with a lesbian writer in Chicago, with her Rear Window like neighbor, and with things like the water cooler in the kitchen. Mike, who is still a cop, still hangs out at the diner with his partner Carl, and who still has issues with his overbearing mother, is more or less a featured background player than a co-star (and Molly's family is barely on the show anymore).
And what the heck happened to Gerald McRaney's police captain character? Did Mike's Mom actually dump him? Has he been mentioned at all this season? Did he have to go so McCarthy could be paid more?
I guess the change in focus isn't all that surprising. Melissa McCarthy is a big movie star now, and I'm sure that CBS is worried that if it doesn't make her happy she'll just leave the show. But would she actually leave the show if the show didn't change and make her the sole focus? Is this really just a way for CBS to make her earn her money (I wouldn't be surprised to find out that she gets more money now that she's a former Oscar nominee)? The show hasn't been damaged beyond repair by this change, but it's just not the same anymore. Mike & Molly has become something else and it's not good.
And what the hell is the deal with that new opening titles sequence? Am I the only one who suddenly starts thinking of Mr. Belvedere when that opening starts?
I'm hoping that this "new focus" is just a brief experiment and that the show reverts back to the tone and feel it had before the start of the 4th season. That was when the show was one of the best comedies on TV instead of just a moderately funny sitcom. The world doesn't need another one of those.
Or am I just wrong about all of this? Is the "new" Mike & Molly now, actually, a better show? Anyone out there who thinks the show has been improved?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
And now, Dr. Phil
"Hey, everyone, Happy New Year. And don't ever fuck a bitch wearing a T-shirt with a turtle on it. It just sends the wrong message. Turtles are not acceptable T-shirt subjects. Or leopards. And horses are total bullshit. You know those fuckers have bigger cocks than you and that, too, sends the wrong fucking message. The only one allowed to have a big cock around here is me. That's what you need to tell yourself every fucking day."
Okay, Phil. I guess that's good advice.
"Of course it's good advice. I know from experience. I've fucked bitches wearing turtle shirts. And they weren't fat, either. I'm talking super model type bitches with great tits. And fucking them was just bad all around. It was terrible. Just, please, for the love of God, don't fuck those bitches! Stay the fuck away from those bitches! It's not worth it!"
Okay, Phil. Okay. We'll all stay away from those...
"Just fucking say it! Bitches!"
I'm not saying that.
"What the fuck ever, man. Happy fucking New Year!"
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Taraji P. Henson
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Zombie Hamlet: This is one of the weirdest looking low budget zombie comedies in recent memory. A Civil War Hamlet that features zombies? Why the hell is someone making a movie about someone making that movie? Someone should just go ahead and make that movie. The great John Amos is in this, as is Jason Mewes. Rentable.
- Cassadaga: Yeah, any movie featuring a serial killer that turns his victims into marionette puppets is worth checking out just to see if it's as ridiculous as it sounds. The trailer doesn't yield any clues one way or the other as far as I can tell, so I guess I'm going to have to make an effort to see what this movie is really all about. I'm pulling for it.
- Attila: The fine folks at The Asylum are behind this "American soldiers taking on the vengeful ghost of Attila the Hun," and we should all be very thankful. Who the hell else is going to give that idea the time of day?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to Target, for apparently not having a clue as to who stole millions of credit card numbers from its stores. After it was revealed by outside sources that the hackers who managed to steal credit card numbers also managed to steal secure PIN numbers, Target immediately went on the defensive, saying that it had no reason to believe that anyone's PIN number had been stolen as part of the credit card hack. And then, on the very next day, Target had to admit that the outside source was right and the PIN number story was true.
What the hell is going on here? If Target's crack investigators have absolutely no idea what precisely was stolen why can't it just come out and say that? Is the company afraid of being sued? Isn't that cat already out of the bag? Wouldn't it be more prudent to just admit that you have no idea who did it and you're not any close to figuring out who the culprit is? Doesn't public support and public understanding matter in this case?
Get on the goddamn ball, Target. There's just no excise for this. None.
And then there's A & E, for refusing to say that the reason it decided to "reinstate" ultra right wing homophobe Phil Robertson was money. Terrified that the sadly vast Duck Dynasty audience was going to boycott the channel if Robertson wasn't brought back, A & E decided that money was far more important than halting ignorance and homophobia.
But the channel is going to run PSA's about tolerance! And isn't keeping the "Bible believing" Robertson off the air just a form of bigotry itself? Isn't "reverse racism" wrong, too?
First off, these proposed PSA's are going to be lame as fuck. If they aren't going to question the insane homophobia of Robertson and his fellow religious psychopaths then they are a waste of time. And second, there's no such thing as "reverse racism." What does exist, though, is an incessant need by the right to make it sound as though the real victims of racism are the racists themselves. Why is this shit allowed to continue indefinitely?
Just come out say you brought Robertson back because of the money. It's a pathetic excuse, but at least it would sound like the truth.
And finally there's New York Daily News sports and, on occasion, political columnist Mike Lupica, for his ongoing attacks on the current New York City mayor-in-waiting Bill DeBlasio. Lupica has attacked de Blasio ever since he won the Democratic primary and outgoing police commissioner Ray Kelly decided not to run for mayor. What exactly is the point of this attack regime? Is The Lip trying to become the next Michael Goodwin?
I'm hoping that this is just some lame ass lapse in judgment and not a sign of things to come. The world already has one "sensible Democrat" Michael Goodwin and one is more than enough. So come on, Mike, cut the horsepucky. Ray Kelly just didn't want to be mayor. Acknowledge it, accept it, and move on.
Please. Just move on.
The 2013 The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Year: Alan Gottlieb
There were plenty of candidates for this coveted designation in 2013, but Alan Gottlieb, Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation, decided to go ahead and make the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Massacre as a rally day for the "gun rights movement." As shown in this article, Gottlieb clearly has no shame. Why use the one year anniversary of an elementary school massacre to push your cause unless all you really want to do is piss people off?
How awful. How terrible. What a douchebag.
Congratulations, Alan Gottlieb, you are the 2013 The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Year!
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
There's still very little going on in NASCAR at the moment. I guess everyone who is going to be at Daytona has his or her ride ready to go. I'm going to assume that there are still some deals to be made for the Camping World Trucks Series and, to a lesser extent, the Nationwide Series, but for whatever reason the NASCAR/racing press isn't interested in uncovering that stuff.
I am a little perturbed, though, that now six time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson isn't getting the year end recognition he definitely deserves. I'm not a Johnson fan at all, but his sixth championship win is way more impressive than anything Peyton Manning or LeBron James did in 2013. Of course, the "regular sports" press doesn't hold auto racing in the same regard as other sports, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Dario Franchitti's retirement deserved a little more year end recognition, too. His career ending crash at Houston got some play in "the year in sports" montages but if you didn't already know about it you would have no idea who the driver in the crashed car was. But a 4-time Indycar and 3-time Indy 500 champion deserves a little more respect.
And speaking of Indycar, the series is suing the promoters responsible for putting together the race in Brazil the last few years. According to various internet reports (I saw stories on Racer Magazine's website and on yahoo) the Indycar series is trying to recoup a sanctioning fee it was expecting to get for 2014 but won't get as the expected race in Brazil is not on the 2014 schedule. I don't quite get how the series expects to get money for something that isn't going to happen, unless there's some sort of contract involved and the Brazilian race organizers are in breach. That's probably what's really going on. But then didn't the series have a contract in place with a promoter in China for a race in China that never happened?
The Chili Bowl is only a few weeks away. Be sure, if you have MAVTV on your cable or satellite provider, to check out the channel's live coverage on January 18th starting at 8:30pm EST. It's going to be great. Dave Despain is going to be involved. Dave Despain!
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.
Happy New Year!
David Bradley- Nick Adams Charles Napier- Warden Pike Yuki Okumoto- Jimmy Wong Clabe Hartley- Larry Dickerson Benita Andre- Hannah Jim Maniaci- Mr. Clean Adam Clark- Squid Alon Stivi- Riggs William S. Wong- Lee Vernon Wells- Galaxy 500 Doug Kruse- Mani Professor Toru Tanaka- Cookie
Directed by Greg Yaitanes Screenplay by Scott Nicholas Amendolare and Chris Bold
Distributed by New Line Home Video and Image Entertainment
Rated R for violence and language Runtime- 88 minutes