Wednesday, November 10

Some quick thoughts on Point Blank (1998)

Mickey Rourke stars as Rudy, an ex-mercenary who stealthily infiltrates a shopping mall in the grip of a hostage situation by a group of jailbroken inmates led by a criminal arms dealer (Paul Ben-Victor). One of the convicts, Joe Ray (Kevin Gage), is Rudy's estranged brother. Now, in the face of rising bodycount by one of the looser cannons (Danny Trejo), Rudy must defuse the standstill and try to save his brother from his own chaos.

Back in my thoughts on Uncommon Valor, I said that "the intellectual depth I prefer from this type of movie can be likened a neanderthal picking a thorn out of his big toe." By that same measure, Point Blank has the intellect of a person who believes that after the neanderthal finishes with his toe, he'll go out and battle a Triceratops for dinner. This blatant Die Hard rip-off gleefully crafts cliché into a surfboard and shreds on a torrent of fermented testicle sweat while devouring a Big Mac deep fried in macho, lard, and Budweiser. Disregard the whiners on the IMDB; they know nothing.

The failing of many Van Damme and Seagal direct-to-video actioners is how desperately they strive for substance at the behest of their star. They rarely admit that they're garbage and embrace the schlock with an aim for truly mindless entertainment. On the other hand, director Matt Earl Beesley's sole feature film couldn't give one flying goddamn about anything substantive besides playing around in Die Hard's skeletal framework transplanted into a Fort Worth mall. Point Blank never once winks at audience in recognition; making all the unintentional laughs all the more hearty.

This inept attitude translates into slivers of filet mignon for the trash action connoisseur. Beesley and four screenwriters pack so much guy flick triteness into ninety minutes that the film ends up being nothing but. Mickey Rourke is a fucking beast that looks to have swallowed three hundred pounds of Weider iron with a tan more orange than the cover art. His character is the embodiment of one of those cheap action figures modeled after G.I. Joe at a dollar store; with dead-to-rights aim even in mid-somersault, clunky Fred Williamson-style karate, and a panache for auto-healing after getting sliced or shot. Rourke does get one emotional scene in which he essentially slobbers all over Gage, this was part of his uphill climb back into "real" acting, but he's mostly sauntering about and assaulting body parts like the motherfucker he is.

"That guy" actor Paul Ben-Victor's Hans Gruber variant is ineffective and strangely shifts tone from an affluent businessman with a vague European accent, to stereotypically gay, to having something of a Chicago accent. Machete's Danny Trejo is the picture's real villain as a coke-snortin' female brutalizer and hostage murderer. We even get several hilarious instant quotables from his character, like "There's cobwebs on my nutsack!" and "How about I do a blowjob on your brains across the wall!" Michael Wright appears as Wesley Snipes and/or token black guy who relays a sympathetic story about stabbing a "motherfucker" that was bangin' his wife fourteen times until the dude's heart was "hamburger" with added emphasis on the tattoo on his ass, standing up buck naked, and erection. I nearly choked to death on my pretzels at that point. The homoerotism frequently reaches critical mass in Point Blank, perhaps by happy accident.

No one seems to have acknowledged Point Blank as a crap action classic. It doesn't reach the heights of Skyscraper (1996) or Hard to Die (1990) in the John McClane riffage sweepstakes, but there's much to laugh along with. Matt Earl Beesley manages to make a 1998 feature that looks like it's from 1991 with a host of talented actors, especially Trejo and Gage, even after they found vastly larger success. Rourke's redemption was a few years away, but if you want to see why he fits in with the other Expendables, just look here. Perfect three a.m. fodder with nuked cheesesteak sub leftovers and a few beers.

1 comment:

J. Astro said...

Somehow, generic HORROR movie rip-offs are often perfectly fine for me... but I tend to apply a much harsher standard to generic ACTION rip-offs. If it's not slam-bang over the top or freakin' hilarious or both, I tend to discard it. Ah, well.

BTW, man, just thought I'd let ya know your old pal Astro has "moved" - new blog, new site - HERE:

Stop on by and update your blog-roll, won't ya? ;) you dare tread upon the staircase?

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