If I have any consistent weakness when it comes to my entertainment, and mean this in any form, it’s tough women. I’ve read comics with tough women and books with tough women and watched movies with tough women and written books with tough women. I’ve even roleplayed my share of tough women back when I was into that sort of thing. Give me a tough woman and I am already halfway toward being wholly satisfied with whatever you put in front of me. Consequently this film, entitled Fight Night, garnered a lot of goodwill from me right from the get-go.
And a good thing, too, because Fight Night is a boxing movie, and if there’s any genre that hews closely to its tropes in nearly every outing, it’s the boxing story. There’s a lot in Fight Night that you’ve seen before, so if you’re looking for something totally original, I can tell you right now that you are not going to get it from this movie. Consequently you can make your decision about whether to continue reading this review immediately.
Fight Night begins with the travails of professional grifter Michael Dublin, played by Chad Ortis. Despite his ever-present suit, Dublin is not a classy guy, though he can pretend to be. His line is making a buck any way he can, if there’s a quick and dirty route to that buck, so much the better. In his very first scene he attempts to convince a bare-knuckle fighter to throw a match so they can both make some cash, but things go quickly awry. He follows this up not long later by selling a faulty rocket-fuel booster to a guy in a street race, only to see the guy’s car explode on startup. He’s in the middle of catching a beating for that escapade when he’s rescued by an itinerant fighter named Katherine Parker (Rebecca Neuenswander), who turns out to be a match for any man, even if he’s twice her size.
It seems that Neuenswander’s character wants into the underground boxing circuit that Dublin has access to, and he grabs hold of the opportunity to “manage” her on her fight to the top. This will require long road trips, some brutal hand-to-hand fighting and more than a little baring of souls along the way.
Longtime readers of this blog may remember my review of the film, Albino Farm. The film featured wrestler Chris Jericho in a tiny part, and I warned everyone at the outset of that review to learn from my experience and never watch a horror movie simply because one of your favorite wrestlers happens to be in it. Let me now extend that warning to action films. Not all, perhaps, but at least some. You must tread carefully.
Bounty Hunters is a Canadian production originally titled Bail Enforcers (terrible name), and it serves as a vehicle for former WWE Women’s Champion, Trish Stratus. It’s a very slight film that runs just a spare 80 minutes including credits, and while I didn’t consider my time entirely wasted, I did find that I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of an episode of something like Nikita than I did from this.
Let me start by saying that I don’t know if bail enforcement is carried out the same way in Canada as it is in the United States, but I suspect not. Especially when said bail-enforcement agents carry weapons like these do. If I had to guess, I’d say that Bounty Hunters is meant to take place somewhere in the USA, despite the presence of profoundly Canadian-accented Boomer Phillips as comic relief, and the very visible Ontario license plates scattered around the production. Whatever the case, if you’re prepared to go along with the silly, TV-level escapades of Trish Stratus and company, all this Canadian-ness doesn’t matter at all.
The film starts in flash-forward because it is unfortunately heavily influenced by the now-dated Quentin Tarantino style. A standoff between the bounty hunters and a couple of criminals in a warehouse could lead to the death of Stratus’ character, Jules, who opens the picture with a little voiceover narration that thankfully doesn’t reappear for the rest of the running time.
By sheer coincidence, last night I happened to watch the last few scenes of the final episode of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. That was, as you may recall my saying in its review, the series that really kicked the Spartacus storyline into orbit, with terrific characterizations, tight plotting and spectacular action. True, all of these things had been present before, in the initial series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, but it felt like the showmakers had hit upon the secret with Gods of the Arena and everything doubtful simply fell away.
As good as the final scenes of Gods of the Arena are, they pale in comparison to those in Spartacus: War of the Damned. As good as the show had been through three prior series, the truly excellent stuff had been saved for last, or maybe it was just the effect of being at the end, when everything we had witnessed up to that point came to a final resolution.
Those of you who know history, or who are even vaguely familiar with Stanley Kubrick’s version of the tale, know that Spartacus’ slave rebellion did not last and that his army of freed slaves was defeated. Kubrick’s Spartacus spends his last hours dying on a cross along with the rest of his remaining warriors, but the truth of the matter is that Spartacus’ body was never found. If you’re aware of this little fact, War of the Damned becomes an exercise in excruciating hope, as events march toward their preordained conclusion, that it will not turn out to be as horrible as we fear it will be.
The scope of War of the Damned is broader than anything heretofore attempted. We begin the story some time after the events of Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus’ war has been every bit of a success as he might have dreamed. Tens of thousands now follow him, though unfortunately the numbers of capable warriors among them are not so great. Anyone who’ll hold a spear or a sword is pressed to fight, however, and fight they shall as the Romans cast commander after commander into the fray trying to quash this uprising. In the first episode we see Spartacus nearly singlehandedly kill the two commanders currently hunting him, though they escape.
I love snipers. I think snipers are the coolest. Next to ninja, snipers are right at the top of my list of fantasy occupations. Because, really, who wouldn’t want to be able to reach out and touch someone from 1,000 yards out in high wind? That’s pure, focused power.
Some games have sniper aspects to them, and in the more popular first-person shooters out there one can choose to grab a sniper rifle, climb to a tall place and try to pick off their fellow players. In those games, snipers are universally loathed and generally cleared out of their nests with hand grenades or rocket launchers. No one has any love for the patience and skill required to zero in on a target (often moving) at long range and put a bullet through his head. Even when playing with a controller this is difficult. Certainly much more difficult than peering down the open sights of some assault rifle and peeling off a few three-round bursts. But I don’t want to get off on some kind of rant. People like playing those games a certain way, and more power to them. As for the rest of us, well….
On the Xbox 360 you have basically two choices when it comes to games specifically about snipers. You have Sniper Elite V2, which has all its action set during the waning weeks of the Second World War, and you have this, Sniper: Ghost Warrior and its sequel, the only games that put players in a contemporary setting with modern, high-tech weapons and let them blow people’s heads off.
Let me first say about Sniper: Ghost Warrior that when it’s actually allowing you to do the thing it says you’re going to do (the aforementioned head-blowing-off) it’s a terrific game. There really is no other feeling in the world than the one you get after carefully lining up a long-distance shot, accounting for bullet drop and wind speed, and then squeezing the trigger, only to be rewarded with a loving, slow-motion tracking shot of the bullet speeding its way toward the target before splattering their brains all over. That part of the game never gets old and is probably more satisfying than is probably healthy. Cue Republican outrage over violent video games now.