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“Yeah. I’m excited to bring in new characters and fun things beyond Bruce and Dwayne that we’re working on and some great villains, but we’re forming those ideas now. I’m really excited – it’s going to be a whole ‘nother level.”
“I love being active in world-building, so we’re working on G.I. Joe 3 right now. We’re designing tons of stuff, which takes a little bit, but to me, that’s obviously where I like to push myself and where I want to be for a long time and get to know better. To be honest, I just did the in-flight safety video for Virgin America, so to me, those things… I like storytelling, I like the idea of making stuff that’s a challenge, so if you can’t make a safety video that’s interesting and I say, “Yeah, watch this.” You can’t make a documentary about Justin Bieber and have it make money and have people watch it. “Oh, yeah, watch that we can do that.” Or “Oh you can’t make a sequel to that…after you just did G.I. Joe?” When someone says that you’re going to be pigeonholed–and that sounds ridiculous–that’s mostly a motivation for me to be like if you’re a good storyteller, you can tell anything and make it more interesting and I love that challenge.”
"A long gestating project for Dolph Lundgren is finally coming to fruition. Based on a script he’s been developing since 2006, and was initially looking to direct, Lundgren has been waiting till the fates (and the financiers) have aligned to allow Skin Trade to become a reality.
Lundgren will be joined by a pretty awesome cast, comprising of Tony Jaa (the pair also filmed A Man Will Rise together this year, due for release sometime in 2014), Michael Jai White, Ron Perlman and Celina Jade (currently appearing in hit US show Arrow). The plot sees Lundgren as a New York cop whose family are murdered by a Serbian crime lord. He tails the bad guys to Thailand, and teams up with a local detective (Jaa). The pair then set about taking down the human trafficking ring, and will undoubtedly cause carnage along the way.
Perhaps most interestingly of all is the choice of director. Known in Thailand as an art-house director, Ekachai Uekrongtham is best known for the critically acclaimed Beautiful Boxer which told the true life story of a Mauy Thai fighter who underwent a sex change operation to become a woman. This could elevate the revenge formula to something a little more emotionally engaging than a standard Lundgren starrer (and the impressive cast will also help too). It also marks another step by Jaa to break into American cinema, as he’ll also be starring in Fast & Furious 7 (now due out in 2015).
Shooting on Skin Trade commences in mid-January for in excess of 2 months, split between Thailand (for the majority) and Vancouver."
Sly’s still got it — when it comes to action. Razor is lured out of retirement for the bout he evaded three decades earlier, and all the requisite training scenes — the jabbing and jogging, raw-egg-swilling and truck-pulling — are nearly as exhilarating as they were in 1976. All these years later, the 67-year-old Stallone still looks the part with his tattooed barrel chest and ability to believably land a punch.
Stallone’s acting, however, is a little rusty. With his garbled delivery, he never was a paragon of emotional depth, but now his frozen face only exacerbates his shortcomings when the comedic drama turns serious. Even the more lighthearted scenes can be problematic. When Razor and the Kid are supposed to be publicly promoting their bout and instead devolve into bickering buffoonery, there’s nothing but ill-timed punch lines where the chemistry between Stallone and De Niro should be.
Luckily, a strong supporting cast makes up for the protagonists’ tepid interactions. The brilliant duo of Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin steal the show as the fight organizer and Razor’s dirty-old-man trainer, respectively. When these two get into it, laugh-out-loud hysterics follow. Meanwhile, Jon Bernthal (from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) steps up to remind viewers how dramatic acting should look, playing the Kid’s estranged son.
The Kid isn’t much of a father, nor is he a particularly good person, although there are momentary flashes of his humanity. He’s a mostly two-dimensional character, and Stallone might have been better cast in the role.
As it is, Razor is the more likable of the two, but there’s an inverse correlation between each scene’s potential for enjoyment and the number of lines Stallone has to say. For example, nearly wordless sight gags involving the pair fighting while wearing green unitards and a skydiving adventure gone awry garner laughs. Less effective is a romantic subplot between Razor and a former girlfriend played by Kim Basinger.
While this season has featured a wealth of great dramatic movies, everyone needs a break from the seriousness now and then. “Grudge Match” serves that function. It has its flaws, with a star who does the sometimes-silly script few favors. But you have to hand it to Stallone and his enduring career. It’s amazing that he’s still kicking, not to mention punching.
So too with Grudge Match, a clichéd, imagination-free slog that puts Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Raging Bull’s Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) in the ring together.
The path of this slimly written half-hearted comedy is obvious from the first bell. Boxing flick Grudge Match reeks not of ringside liniment and sweat but rather a late-career cash grab for its stars as they exploit far better work done years earlier.
Even their character names lack imagination: Stallone plays Henry “Razor” Sharp, a mumbling steelworker with a heart of gold. De Niro is flamboyant steak house and used car dealership owner Billy “The Kid” McDonnen.
The former boxing legends were to determine who ruled the ring 30 years previous, a finale that was put on hold by one of them at the last minute.
Enter annoying motormouth marketer Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), the son of the fighters’ original promoter. Slate comes up with a genius plan to exploit the boxers’ well-known rivalry by finally staging that deciding bout. Behold Grudgement Day; brought to you by Geritol. Really.
McDonnen is the glib gadfly who loves to hold court at his bar while going on about his glory days while Sharp, echoing Rocky Balboa with every mushmouth line, is the lunch-bucket-toting working stiff who prefers to keep his past locked away. They hate each other for a variety of reasons, but economics have convinced them — especially the very reluctant Sharp — to step into the ring again.
Alan Arkin plays Sharp’s irascible trainer, coaxed out of retirement to get his boy ready for battle again. When not complaining about his prostate or goading Slate, he turns down his hearing aid and pretends deafness. His crabby shenanigans wear out quickly, thanks to Tim Kelleher’s and Rodney Rothman’s TV sitcom-like script, which uses repetition as a way to fish for laughs.
The arrival of Sharp’s ex-girlfriend (a facially immobile Kim Basinger) and The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal as the son McDonnen never knew he had, give rise to the inevitable training montages that lead to the final showdown.
Once in the ring, the combatants dramatically toss off their robes to look like a pair of raw turkey necks in satin trunks. Stallone is the far fitter of the pair to be sure, but gravity has come out swinging and it’s not pretty.
Surprisingly, director Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Get Smart) stages a final battle that, for all its energetic and remarkably violent tone, uses unexpected restraint in keeping the outcome under wraps.
There’s little finesse elsewhere in the process, however and much of the battle echoes earlier Rocky flicks, right down to a massively swollen eye and the possibility Stallone will bellow: “Cut me!”
Produced by Laser Unicorns, Lampray and Salmon Fox.
Cinematography by: Linus Andersson, Martin Gärdemalm, Jonas Ernhill and Mattias Andersson.
Aerial Cinematography by: Henning Sandström.
VFX by: David Sandberg, Klas Trulsson, Simon Tingell and Jimmy Sahlin.
Starring: David Sandberg, Joanna Häggblom, Leopold Nilsson, Andreas Cahling and Per-Henrik Arvidius.
Do you want to help support Kung Fury? At the time of this writing their KickStarter Campaign has raised $109, 273. Their goal is $200,000 and the funding period still has 28 days left! To check out the KickStarter page for this awesome flick, click here