REVIEW: THE SCORPION KING 4: THE QUEST FOR POWER

CAST

Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Ellen Hollman (Spartacus)
Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Eve Torres (Supergirl)
Ian Whyte (Clash of The Titans)
Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Will Kemp (Reign)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
M. Emmet Walsh (The Flash 90s)
Brandon Hardesty (Bart Got a Room)
Esmé Bianco (Game of Thrones)
Don Wilson (Cybertracker)

Mathayus and his partner Drazen (who is under the Akkadian’s tutelage) infiltrate the palace of Skizzura to find and acquire an artifact known as the Urn of Kings for King Zakkour of Al-Moraad. In the process, they are discovered and a short fight ensues, revealing Drazen to be a traitor who was really after the Urn.Mathayus returns to Zakkour, who tells him that the Urn’s inscription will show the way to use the powers of Lord Alcaman, a powerful sorcerer who once controlled the entire known world. Under the instructions of the King, Mathayus follows Drazen to the kingdom of Norvania in the Northern Forests to deliver a peace treaty. Drazen gives the Urn to his father King Yannick who shatters it to retrieve the Golden Key of Lord Alcaman, which has the true inscription written on it. Mathayus arrives in Norvania and is accosted by the king’s guards. The soldiers are unable to best Mathayus, who allows himself to be arrested so he can enter the King’s castle. In jail, Mathayus meets another inmate, Valina Raskov, who convinces Mathayus to pay her to meet the king. She explains that she is a member of the original royal bloodline and Drazen wishes to cement his father’s rise to power with her public execution. Drazen appears with guards and takes Mathayus to be tortured, suspecting his peace treaty is a pretense. However, King Yannick believes Mathayus, releases him, and invites him to a dinner banquet. Drazen assassinates his father with black scorpions to cast blame on Mathayus and stall the treaty. Before dying, Yannick gives the Key to Mathayus, who resists capture and flees with Valina, who has feigned an illness to escape her cell, uses the ensuing chaos to leave the castle.In the process, Mathayus suffers an arrow wound to the shoulder (as he did when fighting King Memnon), forcing the pair to go to Valina’s father, Sorrell Raskov, an eccentric scholar and inventor who is unwilling to retake his place as ruler. Sorrell is shown the Key and explains how it will allegedly unlock Alcaman’s palace, where a worthy man can take the Lord’s crown and rule the world. Drazen arrives and forces them to give up the key, leaving them to die as he burns the house. The heroes escape and follow Drazen to Glenrrossovia, a village in Sorrell’s notes on the Key’s code. Drazen begins terrorizing the villagers to find the palace. After enlisting a local boy to steal the key, they take it to the Temple of the Goddess, presided over by High Priestess Feminina. They discover the Key inserts into a symbolic hole in a Goddess statue, located in the Temple’s underground sanctuary. The sanctuary is pushed through the earth, revealing stained glass that reveals the next direction of the journey.After a fight in Gorak’s lair with her opponent Chancara, Valina finds her dungeon friend Roland and has him join their party so they can find a map of the Tugarin Forest in which Alcaman’s palace is hidden in a mountain and guarded by a dragon. They are trapped by Chief Onus who leads the native Tugarin pygmy tribe and attempts to sacrifice them to the spider-like “creatures of the forest.” But Mathayus’ bellow causes the creatures to retreat, and the tribe to embrace them. Despite warnings of the beast, the heroes proceed towards the mountain, where they find the dragon is really a mechanical contraption.Finally, they arrive at Alcaman’s palace and open the hidden door into the mountain. Roland proves to be a traitor in Drazen’s service and the usurper’s men surround and fill the throne room of Alcaman. Mathayus and Valina fight the attackers, but Sorrell receives a mortal wound from Drazen. Armed with Sorrell’s notes, Mathayus proceeds deeper into Alcaman’s palace, rigged with traps that kill those with Drazen and finds the Crown of Alcaman believing its power to be the only hope of healing Sorrell. Putting it on, he is covered in fire, but does not burn. As he prepares to return to his comrades, Drazen overpowers him and takes the Crown. Drazen is judged unworthy and the Crown freezes him to death. Mathayus shatters Drazen’s frozen body and revives Sorrell, who finally believes in magic, with the Crown.The group leaves the mountain and seals the door with the Key and Crown inside, telling the remainder of Drazen’s men that the power of Lord Alcaman was just a myth. Sorrell is crowned King once more, but gives his crown to Valina, who promises to build a kingdom based on “science and mathematics, truth and reason, and just a little bit of magic.” During the credits, Mathayus is relieved from his service to King Zakkour who allowed him to stay with Queen Valina in her service. Valina and Mathayus share a kiss as Gorak and Chancara are also present at the dinner.Scorpion King 4 is a great action adventure and with Victor Webster (who is the only actor to portray Mathayus twice). It’s a fun film for a direct to dvd release.

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REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 4

 

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mekenna Melvin (Lie To Me)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Isaiah Mustafa (The Island)
Stacy Keibler (How I Met Your Mother)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Robin Givens (God’s Not Dead 2)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Richard Chamberlain (Shogun)
Mini Anden (Tropic Thunder)
Larry Cedar (Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas)
Katie Cleary (Tomorrow’s End)
Harry Dean Stanton (Alien)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Karolina Kurkova (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Steve Austin (The Expendables)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)
Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
James Lew (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Monet Mazur (Just Married)
Matthew Willig (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
John Larroquette (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Mercedes Mason (The Finder)
Francois Chau (Lost)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Gary Cole (Crusade)

Season three of Chuck found the show getting more serious as it found the main character fully embracing his new life as a spy. Season four continued that streak. When we last left our characters, we were watching the Buy More  going up in flames. Meanwhile, Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) was promising his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) that he would give up the dangerous world of spying.

The season four premier picks up several months later. Chuck and his best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) are conducting a secret mission of their own. They are attempting to use clues left behind by Chuck’s dad to find Chuck’s mom, a woman who disappeared 20 years ago. When it turns out that Chuck’s former government handers Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) are on the same hunt, Chuck goes back to work for the CIA. Meanwhile, the CIA rebuilds the Buy More as a continued cover for their Southern California base and giving the old Buy More gang their old jobs back in the process. Morgan begins dating Casey’s daughter. Ellie starts investigating her family history, and she and husband Devon (Ryan McPartlin) announce they are expecting. Plus Chuck and Sarah’s relationship continues to build as they work through various issues.

But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Chuck actually tracks down his mother Mary (recurring guest star Linda Hamilton) who is working for the Russian Alexei Volkoff (recurring guest star Timothy Dalton). Can she be trusted? Or is Chuck about to be hurt worse for having tracked her down? As the season unfolded the twists to the story were interesting, and I spent much of the season wondering exactly which side Mary was really on.

And there are some fun sub-plots to the season. Probably my favorite involves Morgan and Casey. The no-nonsense NSA agent has little patience for Chuck’s bumbling best friend, and the fact that they have to work together on missions is nothing compared to when he realizes that Morgan is dating his daughter. Those moments are priceless. The writers and producers did a good job of developing Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. They have managed to avoid the curse of killing a show when you get the main couple together by developing their relationship and giving them realistic things they need to work on. It’s interesting watching it develop, and I like that.

As always with this show, the acting is top notch. As with last season, the show was originally renewed for 13 episodes and then picked up for a back 11. That means that the first 13 episodes tell their own story with a second story springing off that one in the second half. Even the second half of the season reveals some secrets about the Bartowski family legacy. It also means that this season set includes 24 episodes of the show in original wide screen and full surround. In addition to the gag reel and deleted scenes, there’s a featurette about Zachary Levi stepping behind the camera to direct the Thanksgiving episode as well as a collection of Webisodes featuring Jeff and Lester’s quest for a video game.  The characters are still endearing and the storylines worth watching. If you haven’t caught all of season four, fix that today and prepare for season five.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1996)

CAST
Lou Ferrigno (Scorpion King 4)
Neal McDonough (Arrow0
Genie Francis (Roswell)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Luke Perry (The Fifth Element)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Matt Frewer (Taken)
Mark Hamill (Star wars)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Doran Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Cree Summer (Inspector Gadget)
Lisa Zane (Freddy’s Dead)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Simon Templeman (The Neighbors)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)

The 1996 Hulk cartoon started off great, the stories remained focused on the green savage Hulk, the army chasing the hulk, and Banner’s relationship with Betty Ross. The art style is pretty good but the animation is jerky which means it has a low frame rate. The 1982 Hulk cartoon had better art and animation. The second season introduced the Grey Hulk and She-Hulk which quickly turned this cartoon to garbage. I never liked the grey Hulk in the comics and I stop buying Hulk comics in the late 1980s because of it. The grey hulk wasn’t savage and talked way too much. The Hulk is supposed to be a brute savage, the extreme opposite of Banner’s personality and to hear the Hulk talk like he has a college education just doesn’t work.

The She-Hulk should have only appeared in one episode. The writers somehow got the impression that the Hulk couldn’t carry a show by himself (even though he carried a comic series by himself for thirty years). So they rename the show “The Hulk and She-Hulk”… big mistake. She-Hulk has the same problem the grey Hulk has, she talks way too much and gets too much screen time. A better idea (maybe) would have been to have a spin off cartoon for She-Hulk. Anyway watch the first season episodes and forget the rest.

 

REVIEW: CONAN THE ADVENTURER (1997)

MAIN CAST

Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Robert McRay (Legend of The Phantom)
Jeremy Kemp (A Bridge To Far)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)
Andrew Craig (The Toxic Avenger)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ally Dunne (V.I.P.)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Arthur Burghardt (Transformers)
Mickey Rooney (Nationel Velvet)
Vernon Wells (Mad Max 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Paul Le Mat (PUppet Master)
Matthias Hues (Star Trek VI)
Ali Landry (Eve)
Brooke Burns (Baywatch)
Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Angelica Bridges (Mystery Men)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)

Image result for conan 1997Syndicated television is often called the last bastion of poor writers in this modern age, much like the pulp fiction writers of years gone by were back in their day. This is not to say that syndicated television is always bad, just that the odds greatly favor such a global statement. The first example that comes to mind would be Black Scorpion but I’m sure you’re familiar with other shows like Sinbad, Robin Hood, and Lost World (an admittedly guilty pleasure). The 1990’s were the best years for fantasy shows in syndication due in large part to the success of Hercules and Xena; both of which proved profitable beyond the imagination of their creators. Is it any wonder that other producers sought to cash in as well? Such was the case with a single season show by the name of Conan The Adventurer, based on the writings of famed 1930’s pulp fiction writer, Robert E. Howard, a young man from the desolate plains of Texas.

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Mr. Howard created the mythic hero Conan as a character that could help free him from the shackles of poverty.His character of Conan evolved from another, King Kull, set in the same age of Atlantis era of 10,000 years ago, in epoch known as the Hyborian Age. Conan was a thief, a liar, and a barbarian in every sense of the word. His code of conduct was generally considered less than chivalrous with a “me first” attitude befitting the wild imagination of his writer, a man caught in the trappings of his time. Howard’s own description of the character was: “Some mechanism in my subconsciousness took the dominant characteristics of various prizefighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers, and honest workmen I had come in contact with, and combining them all, produced the amalgamation I call Conan the Cimmerian.” The world-view of such a man can only be placed in the proper context by understanding the effects of where he lived and the conditions the entire country were in, making more understandable the type of anti-hero that later was popularized in the Marvel comic books and art of Frank Frazetta. I think the rise of the anti-hero in the 1960’s attributed much to reviving such characters as Conan, a being thought up in 1931 by Howard, who only wrote 22 short stories in his later years (before he killed himself). With this in mind, let me turn to the television series this review is about:

Keeping in mind that the original character was a thief, cutthroat, mercenary that did anything asked of him for a price and ignored all social conventions that didn’t suit him (similar to the original Hercules being a power mad rapist drunkard), the show started off on the wrong foot with me by suggesting his “destiny was to free the oppressed” in the opening monologue since there’s nothing further from the truth in the original stories or in the previous movies starring famed bodybuilder-turned-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given that a kinder and gentler version of the character would probably be the only way to get the series made, I started off watching the episodes a bit disgruntled but content that a watered down Conan might be better than no Conan at all, I figured how bad could it be considering all the other shows I enjoyed (even as guilty pleasures).
The show focused on Conan’s quest to find, and kill, a wizard, Hissah Zul (that was responsible for the death of his sweetheart and the guy responsible for all the ills in the world. Each week would find Conan and a mish mash of odd companions  fighting the minions of evil and cheap CGI effects as they continued on a path to dethrone the wizard. I watched the generic exploits of the cast as they went through the motions and about midway through the series; I actually started enjoying it way too much.
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So, after watching the episodes as presented in the set (which were out of order from the air dates) and then as they were originally shown, I found the plot to make at least a little more sense in the DVD order they were aired in syndication. Keeping in mind that most, if not all, of the episodes borrowed heavily from the Marvel Comics versions as opposed to the pulp works of Howard. The show tried to be in line with a modern sensibility imposed on the age old character, an uneasy fit at times. While the humor was often as dry as Dilbert in its own way, I think this was what was lacking compared to the movies. Regardless, it was nice to see a show long lost into the archives of some vault given new life for fans of the genre, if not the actual character himself, and I doubt Robert E. Howard would’ve lost any sleep over the way his characters were evolved.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK – HAUNTED

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MAIN CAST

Bill Bixby (My Favorite MArtian)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)

GUEST CAST

Carol Baxter (The Ladies Club)

David helps a young woman move back into an old house where she lived many years ago. David soon learns that the woman had a twin sister who drowned there years before and that strange events may bring about more death and mayhem.

A Great Halloween episode It plays like an Edgar Allen Poe story. A little more intellectual than many other Hulk episodes, it really delves into psychology and insanity. It is the closest Hulk episode to the horror genre.

REVIEW: THE DEATH OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK

DVD cover of the movie The Death of the Incredible Hulk.jpg

CAST

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Philip Sterling (Another World)
Barbara Tarbuck (Walking Tall)
Anna Katarina (Batman Returns)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Chilton Crane (Final Destination 2)

Image result for the death of the incredible hulkDavid Banner masquerades as David Bellamy, a mentally challenged janitor, to gain access to a scientific research facility in Portland, Oregon. He believes that the studies of one of the scientists there, Dr. Ronald Pratt (Philip Sterling), may hold the key to curing his gamma-induced condition that, in times of stress, turns him into a superhuman green creature known as the Hulk. Pratt takes a liking to the man he sees only as a building custodian.Image result for the death of the incredible hulkOne night after making a transaction at the bank, David is trapped by street thieves and is beaten and robbed. The stress of his injuries induces another transformation. The Hulk makes short work of the criminals but attracts the attention of authorities before escaping.Image result for the death of the incredible hulkThe next day, bypassing security, Banner enters Pratt’s laboratory and examines the formula on his blackboard, making corrections and filling in gaps. At the same time, a beautiful Russian spy named Jasmin (Elizabeth Gracen), thinking she has completed her last act of espionage, is approached again by former superior Kasha for one last job: infiltrate Pratt’s lab and steal the files on his experiments. When she refuses, Kasha blackmails Jasmin with her sister Bella’s life. Jasmin then disguises herself as a club hopper and gets a fingerprint from one of the security guards.Image result for the death of the incredible hulkThe following morning, Pratt examines the formula on his blackboard and discovers that it is now correct. Determined to find out who is guiding him, he hides out in the lab in wait for his would-be mentor. This time he catches David in the act and asks him to tell him something that would keep him from sounding the security alarm. Banner reveals his true identity and goes over the events that led to his self-experimentation that resulted in the Hulk. He notes that his condition also dives into Pratt’s own research on a human’s capacity to heal, for in Hulk-form David’s accelerated metabolism allows any wound to close in seconds, leaving him with hardly a scar. Pratt believes he can cure David, but he needs to first study the creature. Over the course of a week, both scientists, with the help of Pratt’s scientist wife, Amy (Barbara Tarbuck), construct a force field cage and sensors to track Banner’s vitals. On the night of the observation, David is rigged with a tranquilizer to sedate him once the readings have been recorded. Banner shocks himself with an electrical rod and Hulks-out. The energy cage holds the creature back until Pratt has his readings and Amy activates the tranquilizer. Banner reverts to normal and Pratt and Amy photograph the closing puncture wound from the tranquilizer. Banner later watches the video of his transformation – claiming it is the first time he has seen the Hulk – and fails to see any humanity in him despite Amy’s beliefs.Image result for the death of the incredible hulkThe next day, the facility’s board announces to Pratt that they are pulling his funding for his lack of results, which forces him to move up his proposed cure for David. An eastern European spy network dedicated to using Pratt’s (and Banner’s) work for corrupt purposes breaks into the lab, halting the experiment and kidnapping Pratt and Amy. Banner has fallen in love with Jasmin, who returns his affections, and with her help, he helps the Pratts. While pursuing the kidnappers, Banner and Jasmin learn that her sister, Bella (Anna Katarina), is the true leader of the spy network, and Banner turns into the Hulk, who tries to protect Pratt and Jasmin. The Hulk runs towards the plane, on which Bella and Zed are attempting to escape, and breaks it open. He climbs aboard before it can take off, enters and stops the two spies. But the plane explodes and the Hulk is thrown into the night, falling onto the concrete. After one last return transformation, Banner dies, telling Jasmin he is free.

Image result for the death of the incredible hulkI think this was a good final chapter to the Original Hulk. To answer your questions about how this fall from that airplane could kill the Hulk, the answer is simple. He was in the process of changing back to Dr. Banner, so by the time he hit the ground, the good doctor took the full force.

REVIEW: THE TRIAL OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK

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CAST

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Marta DuBois (Luminarias)
Nancy Everhard (The Punisher 1989)
Nicholas Hormann (Peep World)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Rex Smith (Street Hawk)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Michael O’Hare (Babylon 5)

Image result for trial of the incredible hulkOn the run again after the events of the previous TV movie, David Banner is working up north under the name David Belson. Disenchanted and at the end of his rope, David makes his way towards a large city with the hopes of renting a room and staying buried. Unbeknownst to him, the city he arrives in is under the control of a powerful underworld kingpin named Wilson Fisk but is also protected by a mysterious black-clad crimefighter known as Daredevil. When two of Fisk’s men come onto the commuter subway train after having committed a jewel robbery, one of them takes an interest in a beautiful woman also riding the train and she rejects him. David witnesses an attempted sexual assault by one of Fisk’s men, he transforms into the Hulk and things go haywire. A short while later, David is arrested by the police and wrongfully charged with the crime.

While awaiting trial, blind defense attorney Matt Murdock is assigned to David’s case. David is uncooperative but Murdock has faith that he is innocent and is determined to prove so. One night while fast asleep, David has a nightmare about his upcoming trial and dreams about transforming into the Hulk on the witness stand. The stress of this causes him to transform in reality and the Hulk subsequently breaks free of the prison.

Subsequent events see David Banner team up with Daredevil who reveals his identity as Matt Murdock. Matt tells David about his origins which David has trouble accepting at first. Daredevil also reveals that he has an ally on the Police force who provides him with information relating to criminal activity. As Daredevil, Matt goes to investigate a tip provided by his informant. The tip turns out to have been planted by the Kingpin and Daredevil is badly hurt in an ambush by the Kingpin’s men. David rushes to save Matt but he is too late to help, becomes angry, and transforms into Hulk. The Hulk, in turn, smashes in and saves Matt and Kingpin and his men flee. Matt who is barely conscious, traces the Hulk’s face as he transforms back to David, thus learning his secret.

Kingpin, in the meantime, has the witness to events on the subway abducted from protective custody in order to have her killed but she is saved by the Kingpin’s assistant who finds her attractive. The Kingpin is also planning a major meeting of underworld crime lords in order to propose the consolidation of their operations into a big syndicate with himself as chairman.

David who is trained as a medical doctor, treats Matt’s injuries and spreads the cover story that Matt got hurt falling down the stairs. Matt’s self-confidence is seriously shaken. David’s confidence on the other hand has been restored by seeing how Matt has embraced his unique gifts also caused by exposure to radiation. After a little coaxing from David, Matt begins to recover and retrain his body. Soon enough, the two return to work and go to save the captured woman. The two engage the Kingpin and his men and ultimately succeed in beating him. Kingpin and his assistant escape and the prisoner is freed. The two part ways as friends and allies with David planning to head in search of a cure for himself and Matt will stay in the city and protect it.

The late, great Bill Bixby is in top form as the strained David Banner, and his brutish counterpart, the Hulk, is again portrayed intensely by the legendary Lou Ferrigno. Rex Smith, veteran of a variety of television shows and soap operas, is excellent as Matt Murdock, and his athletic alter ego, Daredevil. Smith delivers most of the best lines in this film, and might have been a good lead in a spin-off Daredevil series. Character actor John Rhys-Davies is Wilson Fisk, the cool and calculated crime boss, known by the moniker, the Kingpin, in the comics. The film’s effects and action sequences are standard television fare — done quickly and cheaply — but still, it is a very promising and uplifting film, right down to its exciting climax and positive ending.