REVIEW: THE EXPERT

The Expert (1995)

CAST

Jeff Speakman (The Perfect Weapon)
James Brolin (Traffic)
Michael Shaner (Birdy)
Alex Datcher (Passenger 57)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Jim Varney (Toy Story)

hqdefaultJohnny’s sister is brutally attacked and murdered by a sadistic serial killer. At the trial, he is sentenced to be electrocuted, but a bleeding heart liberal has the sentence commuted to a mental facility. Here, he will interact with other model prisoners and give talks at schools while he is being treated. The only problem is that Johnny, being a ex-special forces trainer, is coming to the prison to seek his own justice and that does not include rehabilitation.ekspertJeff Speakman never really made it beyond the lowest ranks of martial-artists-turned-actors (lower than Don “The Dragon” Wilson, for example), and with vehicles like “The Expert”, you can see why. There are three major problems with this movie: 1) The plot – or should I say plots – are all over the place, there are some characters who get a lot of screen time but serve little purpose, 2) There are only 4 fight scenes in total, some of them completely unrelated to the main plot and some taking place in the dark, 3) The music score is overzealous and overbearing. Strange as it may seem, this is really the most annoying thing about this film: the score persistently tries to convince you that you’re watching some sort of grand epic, instead of the low-budget limited-action film you are indeed watching. With all that said, at least there’s James Brolin around to lend a touch of credibility.

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REVIEW: FINAL MISSION

Final Mission (1994)

CAST

Billy Wirth (The Lost Boys)
Steve Railsback (Lifeforce)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Richard Bradford (The Chase)
Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
John Prosky (Scandal)

hqdefaultCaptain Tom “Outlaw” Waters is one of four Air Force pilots taking part in a “black” Defense project involving virtual reality. The project is managed by a secretive Colonel Anderson and overseen by General Breslaw. When two of his colleagues die during test runs after some erratic behaviour in the flight simulator, Waters begins to believe that there is a conspiracy among his superiors. He even begins to suspect his new lover, Caitlin Cole.image0006This low budget action film is a good leading role for Billy Wirth in that his character looks good, fights good, drives a sports car and can attract females! The kind of flick I watched as a teenager and thought how cool it would be to emulate the main man! The makers are obviously hoping to attract the viewers who liked Top Gun and the Iron Eagle movies but it reminded me more of Final Approach. The Jet sequences are not awe inspiring, but then again as it is based around “virtual reality” technology so actual flying is not meant to be featured too much anyway. The thriller aspect of the film means it is not something you could watch again like a good classic straight to video action flick but it a solid movie of its kind.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: HIGHLANDER – THE SERIES: THE STONE OF SCONE

CAST
Adrian Paul (Last Colony)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked for Death)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Barnaby Apps (Black Venus)
Michael Culkin (The Fifth Element)
This is one of my favorite episodes, and definitely my favorite comic episode. It also took place entirely in flashback.  I think what made it extraordinary was the clever writing that blended history and fiction, along with the return of both Fitz and Amanda, two of my favorite immortals.
 I particularly loved Fitz punching Duncan and knocking his long wig off, and the “battlefield at dawn.” My favorite scene was Duncan and the drunken Fitz in bed together. The acting chemistry between Adrian Paul and Roger Daltry was really something special. Ditto Adrian Paul and Elizabeth Gracen.  Duncan was the forthright upright hero type. His choice of close, life-long friends says a lot about him, doesn’t it? Fitz and Amanda were often dishonest, but they usually meant well and were great fun to be with, even if Duncan had to constantly get them out of trouble. I thought it was sweet that Fitz continually underestimated Amanda. Was that his natural gallantry toward women, or did he just not spend a lot of time with her? Their motivations in this story were in character, too; Amanda needed money, while the guys were in it for honor and country. Note that Fitz gave up his own quest for Duncan’s. And Duncan succeeded in carrying out his objective, even though no one would ever know.

REVIEW: MARKED FOR DEATH

CAST

Steven Seagal (Under Siege)
Joanna Pacula (Tombstone)
Basil Wallace (Blood Diamond)
Tom Wright (Barbershop)
Keith Dsavid (Pitch Black)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Bette Ford (Sudden Impact)
Danielle Harris (Halloween)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)

Chicago DEA agent John Hatcher returns from Colombia, where drug dealers killed his partner Chico. As a result of Chico’s death and years of dead end work, John retires and heads to his family’s home in suburban Chicago. He visits the local school to meet his old friend and former U.S. Army buddy Max (Keith David) who works there as a football coach and physical education teacher.As John and Max celebrate their reunion, a gunfight breaks out between local drug dealers and a Jamaican gang at the bar where they celebrate. The gang, known as the Jamaican Posse, is led by a notorious psychotic drug kingpin named Screwface (Basil Wallace) full of West African Vodun and sadism. John arrests one of Screwface’s henchmen as the gunfight ends. News that Posse crimes occurring in Chicago and across the United States spread as the Posse increases their crime and members. The next day, Screwface and his henchmen do a drive-by shooting on the house where John, his sister Melissa, and Melissa’s 12-year-old daughter Tracey live. Tracey is injured and hospitalized in critical condition.John encounters a gangster named Jimmy whom he is forced to kill. A Jamaican gangster named Nesta arrives and is subdued by John, who asks about Screwface. Nesta gives information but tells him to go after Screwface alone and jumps out the window to his death. The next day, John discovers a strange symbol engraved on a carpet, and with the help of Jamaican voodoo and gang expert Leslie, a detective for the Chicago Police Department, he learns that it is an African blood symbol used to mark their crimes. John decides to come out of retirement to join Max in a battle against Screwface. At the same night of their rendezvous, John gets a phone call from Melissa, which is cut short when Screwface and his men invade the Hatcher household, but they leave upon his arrival. The next day, John and Max encounter another batch of Screwface’s henchmen which results in a car chase wherein one of the henchmen is killed. The henchmen’s car crashes into a mall wherein they are subsequently killed by the duo amidst the chaos of shoppers fleeing the scene. During a meeting with Leslie, John realizes that the only way to stop the Jamaican Posse is to bring down Screwface. That evening, Screwface ambushes John under the guise of a construction crew; John escapes and survives after Screwface plants a molotov cocktail in his car.The two team up with Charles, a Jamaican-American detective of the Chicago police, who has been trailing Screwface for five years, and trying to get to the root of the drug problem in the city. They acquire weaponry from a local weapons dealer, and, after testing the arsenal, they head for Kingston, Jamaica to find Screwface. Upon arrival, Max and Charles ask people in the streets information about Screwface’s and his hideout. A Jamaican local presents them a photo of a woman who is acquainted with Screwface. John meets her in a nightclub, and she describes hanging out with Screwface, his drug business, and his hideout. The woman also informs John of a cryptic clue: the secret of Screwface’s power is that he has two heads and four eyes.By nightfall, John, Max, and Charles (disguised as members of the Posse) head for Screwface’s mansion, where there is a party in progress. Secretly infiltrating the premises through a nearby plantation, John assassinates three henchmen on the balcony with a silenced sniper, plants a bomb at a nearby power station and infiltrates the inner grounds by climbing across roofs. While Max and Charles keep a lookout, John detonates the bomb, causing the party to erupt in violence and gunfire. With Max and Charles opening fire on the ambushing Posse gang, John enters the building and disposes of many henchmen. He finds a sacrificial area but is captured by Screwface and his remaining henchmen. John manages to break free and kills every henchman before decapitating Screwface in a sword fight. Upon returning in Chicago, the trio displays Screwface’s severed head to the Jamaican Posse to get them to end their crimes and leave. However, Screwface’s identical twin brother, who runs the Chicago Posse crime business, arrives and kills Charles, causing the gang (as well as the audience) to think that Screwface has returned from the dead. At this point, it is revealed that the twin brother was the real mastermind of all Posse crimes in Chicago and the entire United States while the real Screwface supplies him with drugs and money. The meeting erupts in chaos, and the gang members open fire on the duo.During the gunfight, Max holds off the henchmen despite being shot in the leg while John kills more gang members before he engages Screwface’s twin brother in a sword fight. The fight moves to a nightclub owned by the twin himself wherein Hatcher gives him more fatal injuries by gouging his eyes and breaks his spine before dropping him down an elevator shaft, impaling the twin in the process. As the surviving Posse members look at their dead boss, their fate remains ambiguous although the death of the Screwface brothers implies their arrest by law enforcement. The final scene shows John carrying Charles’ body with Max limping next to him before ending with Jimmy Cliff’s song “John Crow” being played in the credits.Of Stevens Seagal’s movies, this is clearly one of the better. It’s from 1990, and that was around his prime time as a action star. (“Under Siege” came two years later). There are a couple of really cool fights in this movie where Seagal handles lots of bad guys without any effort at all. The last part of the movie, where he’s invading the Jamaica-man bad guy’s base is especially entertaining.Watch the movie to find out what I’m talking about. You won’t regret it if you like easy action.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: REUNION

 

Image result for highlander: REUNION

 

CAST

Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jim Byrnes (The Net: The Series)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

It has been ten years since we left Methos, Amanda, and Joe and some things have changed, while others remain the same. Love has blossomed, Immortality is still a double edged sword, and lingering feelings rise to the surface…now a very important event has brought the three old friends together in this unforgettable Highlander Reunion, but will The Game threaten to tear them apart?

This is a Brilliant shot film is a nice little Highlander Appendage that shows the strength of the supporting cast from the series and gives Highlander fans a something extra to fawn over.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN

 

MAIN CAST

Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Paul Johansson (Van Helsing)
Patricia Gage (American Psycho)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Stargate: Atlantis)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Carolyn dunn (Sweating Bullets)
Alan Van Sprang (Reign)
Hannes Jaenicke (Tatort)
Lawrence Dane (Bride of Chucky)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Philip Akin (Mutant X)
Shary Guthrie (Earth: Final Conflict)
Andrew Jackson (Smallville)
Michael Copeman (The Fly)
Anne Marie Deluise (Goosebumps)
Noam Jenkins (John Q)
Geordie Johnson (reign)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Valentine Pelka (8mm 2)
Jim Byrnes (Andromeda)
Michelle Gomez (Gotham)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Robert Cavanah (Sahara)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)

With Highlander: The Raven, it became quickly obvious that this show wasn’t as good as the predecessor. The writing wasn’t as good, and some episodes were clearly not well done. That much I’m in agreement with everyone else here. But I would ask other viewers to also try to see the positive aspects that H:TR had. For starters, the chemistry between Amanda and detective Wolf was great.

I’m not sure why exactly, but these two were just perfect together, in both dialogue, thought processes and acting. I think that the writers here were trying to bring the world of immortals to deal with the point of view of a mortal, ie, Wolf, thus where we saw a mortal protagonist taking the heads of two immortals in the only season that this show was alive, the first by shooting at glass that decapitated his foe and the second (a very well-done episode) where Wolf used a sword to decapitate the immortal who was killing people for their organs.

That was basically the act of allowing a mortal to interact with immortals as their equal for the first time, instead of always running to a friendly immortal to do his bidding when another immortal was a villain who needed to be dealt with (ala Joe Dawson with Duncan). Here, a mortal took charge. There were other episodes that were truly gems to watch, the best being the one where Amanda had robbed a soldier during WW1 and inadvertently caused the deaths of 120 of his `brothers’, as that character stated in such a charming way. The one with father Liam and his doubts about his centuries-long faith in the priesthood was also a very good one, with Amanda baiting him to place himself between her sword and the woman journalist she pretended to wish to kill.

The very first episode where Wolf’s former partner had placed herself in between Amanda and a bullet, whereas basically leaving Amanda’s facial expression almost screaming out `WHAT DID YOU DO?!’ because she knew it was a sacrifice done for nothing, also leading her to possibly reconsider her values because someone who was dedicated to stopping her when she was a thief was still placing herself in harm’s way to protect her life. And, last but not least, the last episode where we found out that Wolf himself was an immortal now, and the science of immortality was clearly explained, at least to me, when he confronted Amanda about it. Just too bad we never got to see a second season to this cool show, thus allowing detective Wolf to be an immortal himself. But this will always be one of my favorite shows. Not as good as the great Highlander: The Series , but definitely one that was a joy to see every Saturday afternoon.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1-6

Image result for highlander the series logo

MAIN CAST

Adrian Paul (Eyeborgs)
Alexander Vandernoot (Pret-A-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Elizabeth Gracen (Death of The Incredible Hulk)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Michel Modo (My Father’s Glory)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

RECURRRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Peter Deluise (21 Jump Street)
Matthew Walker (Andromeda)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
Vincent Schiavelli (Buffy)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Joan Jett (The Sweet Life)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Vanity (52 Pick-Up)
J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: DS9)
Tom Butler (Freddy vs Jason)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (Another Life)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Nigel Terry (Troy)
Anthoyn Head (Buffy)
Marion Cotillard (Contagion)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
J.H. Wyman (Sirens)
Geraint Wyn Davies (Cube 2)
Traci Lords (Zack & Miri Make a Porno)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kendall Cross (Caprica)
Sheena Easton (Young Blades)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic PArk III)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Bill Dow (Stargate Atlantis)
Gabrielle Miller (Down River)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Jeremy Brudenell (Wish Me Luck)
Peter Firth (Victoria)
Angeline Ball (My Girl 2)
Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall Cobb (Liar Liar)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Myles Ferguson (Little Criminals)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Laura Harris (Dead Like me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (General Hospital)
Barry Pepper (The Green Mile)
Vivan Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Ben Pullen (Elizabeth I)
Paudge Behan (Veronica Guerin)
Carsten Norgaard (Alien vs Predator)
Anna Hagen (The Messengers)
Laurie Holden (the Walking Dead)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (Warcraft)
Venus Terzo (Arrow)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and the Beast)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Molly Parker (Deadwood)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half men )
Ann Turkel (The Fear)
Ron Halder (Stargate Sg.1)
Ocean Hellman (Voyage of The Unicorn)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Carl Chase (Batman)
Michael J. Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Wishmaster)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)
Jamie Harris (Agents of Shield)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Basil)
Stephen Tremblay (Unnatural Pursuits)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Real Andrews (Born on The 4th of July)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
April Telek (Walking Tall)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Peter Hanlon (Scary Movie)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Valetnine Pelka (8mm 2)
Sonja Codhant (Navarro)
Jonathan Firth (Withering Heights)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Rachel Shelley (The L Word)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Jasper Britton (The New World)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Andrew Bricknell (Victoria)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (Encino Man)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)_
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

Few television series’ that are based on movies live up to the original version, either because they simply don’t have right qualities that made the movie great or they the people making the show just don’t give a damn. “Highlander: The Series”, however, is one of those rare exceptions.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased off of the original 1986 fan favorite and produced by same the executive producers William Panzer and Peter Davis, it continued the saga of the immortals, a race of beings destined to fight one another in sword fights in a centuries long event called the game and who can only be killed by decapitation, with the opponent taking their head and their power. In particular, the show centers around one such immortal named Duncan Macleod (Adrian Paul in his best role) of the Clan Macleod, a descendant of Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert who reprises his role for the pilot) from the first film.Image result for highlander the seriesBorn in the highlands of Scotland in 1592, Duncan has roamed the world for 400 years, seen many different events, and has fought in many different wars and many battles with other immortals. And that last part is one of the things that made the show great. You could count on almost every episode to feature a spectacular sword fight with the villain of the week, a battle of life and death, with Duncan Macleod emerging victorious from yet another trying ordeal and even more spectacular quickening.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased on that, you might expect a show centering on such a plot to become boring or same old, same old, and the show might very well have become so. But, the truth is the show managed to constantly entertain and thrill for most of its run in large part because of the talent the show had. Adrian Paul was more than capable of carrying a show, bringing not only charm and charisma to the role of Duncan but also a strong sense of honor and chivalry, thus making Duncan Macleod one of the great television heroes.Image result for highlander the seriesBut it wasn’t just Adrian’s acting that made the show great; it was also due to the well blending of strong supporting actors, guest stars and villains, writers, and set designers and directors. You had Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), a young man who becomes a part of Duncan’s world in a way he never imagined. Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) a member of a secret society of mortals called the Watchers who dedicate themselves to watching and recording the deeds and actions of the immortals; the always enjoyable Methos (the wonderfully charismatic Peter Wingfield), a 5,000 year old immortal and the oldest living of his kind; Amanda (Elizabeth Grace), an immortal who’s had an on again, off again relationship with Duncan throughout the ages and who’s not put off by an occasional high-value heist or two to make a living, and a slew of guest stars, villains and other supporting actors that added to the show every week.Image result for highlander the seriesPlus, one must also give credit to behind the scenes people, who not only managed to make things interesting in the present, but the past as well. Every episode featured dazzling historical flashbacks, flashbacks that were so good there isn’t one where you didn’t believe the characters weren’t where the show said they were, be it World War I France or British Colonial India (these flashbacks are even more remarkable when you consider the fact that the show, because it was syndicated, had a much smaller budget than shows tied directly to a network). It was also a show that, like the original film, caused the viewer to wonder what would it be like to live indefinitely and witness the changing of the times? What kind of person would you become if you witnessed your time, your religion, possibly even your entire culture disappear into the mists of time?Image result for highlander the seriesAll this must be credited to the writers, led by creative consultant David Abramowitz, who had a lot to do with the magic of the show. Not to say, of course, that weren’t imperfections; some episodes dragged, and one or two of them were pretty bad (the episode “The Zone” is a good example of this), not to mention the fact that the show badly lost steam in the last season, a thing that tends to happen to most shows in the end. However, that being said, the show did far more for the Highlander franchise than any of the sequels ever did. For that reason, it’s a show that all fans of action and fantasy should check out.