Journey back into history far enough, and look in the right place, and maybe you’ll come across the common ancestor of drama and spectacle. Something religious, maybe. And as recently as 2,000 years ago, give or take, if you were taking a break from whatever ancient Romans took breaks from and filling a seat at the Circus Maximus, you’d see the chariot races and athletics and you’d also see staged battles.
And, ancient Roman that you are, if you could slip into a time warp and fast forward to what we could jokingly refer to as modern civilization, you might enjoy the movies of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton and the Olympic gymnastics and boxing matches and their surly offspring, mixed martial arts and…
Maybe you’d see the three movies I’ve seen recently and two of these might remind you of the good old days, sitting in the sweltering Italian sun and being entertained by mock combat. You might also enjoy the third movie I’ve seen of late, but not in quite the same way.
Chinese Zodiac stars the beloved and amazing Jackie Chan and, judging by a voiceover he delivers as the end credits roll, it might be his valedictory – not to cinema as a whole, for he will surely act in future movies, but to the kind of comedic action flick he’s been delighting us with for decades, featuring just enough plot to carry Jackie’s awesome stunts/acrobatics/clowning, usually with his face in the shot so you know that it’s really him up there and not a stunt double.
If Jackie needs an heir apparent, I nominate the Thai performer, Tony Jaa, who was inspired by watching the movies of Jackie, Bruce Lee and Jet Li as a youngster. I caught Jaa’s most recent American release, The Protector 2, and am glad I did. Jaa does not display Jackie’s comedic gifts, but his fight scenes, which, like Jackie’s, combine acrobatics and martial arts, are terrific. Doubt me? Maybe you can catch TheProtector 2 at your television’s movies-on-demand option, as I did, and decide for yourself.
Which brings us to Batman Begins. We didn’t intend to watch it, but we were channel surfing and there it was and we had time to kill, and what the hey – why not? Of course, we’d seen it five years ago, but surely merited a revisit. Now, let me say it again: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is excellent. But the fight scenes are among the few problems I had with it. A lot of them are rendered in blurs, closeups and quick cuts, highly kinetic but, for me, of limited entertainment value. Not like Chan and Jaa and Keaton and, no, not even like those sword-slingers in the old – really old – days.
The stuff those guys did has been proving its worth for centuries.
In the final third of the trilogy, Mr. Nolan proved that he can deliver a well-choreographed fracas. I just wish he’d chosen to do so earlier. Imagine what Jackie Chan could have done with that cape!
In Universal Home Entertainment’s 2 Guns, when an attempt to take down a drug cartel blows up in their faces, two undercover operatives are forced to go on the run together, though neither knows that the other is a federal agent. Suddenly, everyone on both sides of the law wants them dead, and their only hope is to trust each other. Featuring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, we celebrate the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD release on November 19, by revisiting some of the most memorable buddies in blue.
Axel Foley & Detective Rosewood – Beverly Hills Cop
While Eddy Murphy and Judge Reinhold have made names for themselves in today’s pop culture, it’s easy to argue that Beverly Hills Cop launched their now successful film careers. With Axel as the mouth behind the duo, and Rosewood as the partner getting him out of trouble each time, there match up is as timeless as the film. The 1980s film proves itself to be a classic was slated to make its way to television this fall, as a series featuring Axel’s son, Aaron Foley (played by Brandon T. Jackson). While the pilot wasn’t picked up to series, both critics and fans excitedly welcomed it.
David Starsky & Ken Hutchinson – Starsky & Hutch
Based on the popular 1970s series, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson hilariously star as two street-smart undercover cops that bust drug deals with the help of their connection with the underworld boss, Huggy Bear. Stiller and Wilson bring the classic back to life and add their own flavor with their comedic talent audiences have come to love them for. And who else is better matched to play the role of Huggy Bear today than the 1970s inspired pimp himself, Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dog).
Mike Lowrey & Marcus Burnett – Bad Boys
‘Bad Boys,Bad Boys, what’cha gonna do, what’cha gonna do…’ you know the rest. While the film was not based on the addicting early 90’s show about real-life police busting drug deals and ordering donuts – it was the first film that arguably catapulted the then-television stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith to movie stardom. Proving that they haven’t aged, Lawrence and Smith teamed up again for more action in Bad Boys II in 2003.
Lee & Carter – Rush Hour
What do you get when you cross a very loud-mouthed LAPD detective with a Martial Arts cop visiting on assignment from Hong Kong? You get an odd couple that works perfectly, when it is Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Directed by Brett Ratner, the hilarious combo go from battling a drug lord to save a little girl that rivals Chan’s karate skills, to fighting crime in Las Vegas in matching outfits.
Martin Riggs & Roger Murtaugh – Lethal Weapon
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover literally redefined the action genre with their roles as L.A.P.D. detectives Riggs and Murtaugh. While there’s no 5th film in the works currently we still can’t get enough of the banter between the two of them and of course, Gary Busey aka Mr. Joshua.
Terry Hoitz & Allen Gamble – The Other Guys
Mark Wahlberg is tough and Will Farrell is funny, the perfect combination for a memorable buddy cop film, like The Other Guys. They play the underdogs striving to gain respect from their precinct by solving a crime and bringing down a multi-billionaire, played by Steve Coogan.
Det. Alonzo Harris & Jake Hoyt – Training Day
Before he teamed up with Mark Wahlberg in 2 Guns, Denzel Washington played crooked detective Alonzo Harris opposite rookie narcotics cop, Ethan Hawke in the Spike Lee directed project. Known for his roles of the noble and good guy (think Remember the Titans) fans were shocked and impressed to see Denzel Washington do such a good job playing the bad guy.
In order to win your very own copy of 2 Guns on Blu-ray, simply answer the following question:
Which actor portrays Papi Greco in the film?
Edward James Olmos
Benicio Del Toro
Send us your answer before 11:59 p.m., Thursday, November 21. The decision of ComicMix‘s judges will be final. The contest is open only to residents of the United States and Canada.
Well, you know that I wasn’t going to allow Haywire to escape from my local monsterplex without giving it a look. A guy who’s written about Lady Shiva and Black Canary, not to mention a somewhat wimpified Wonder Woman who used martial arts in lieu of genuine superpowers – this guy was about to let pass a movie starring one Gina Carano who, in addition to being gorgeous, has real-life ass-kicker credentials, a film directed by one of the most interesting gents in movieland? No siree!
For reasons that I suspect are exempt from rationality, I have always responded to movie swashbucklers who can actually do the stuff they’re pretending to do – in the case of the excellent Jackie Chan, actually doing it for the camera. So, either in theaters or in my domicile, I’ve watched flicks starring Jackie, Bruce Lee, and, descending to the region of lesser lights, Cynthia Rockrock, Olivier Gruner, Jean Claude Van Damme, Don Wilson, Steven Seagal and maybe one or two I’ve forgotten.
Not everything featuring these performers was a cinematic masterpiece, but I watched and, dammit, I will continue to watch, at least as long as Blockbuster is willing to rent me discs.
The conflation of fiction and biography isn’t new – far from it. Davy Crockett and Wild Bill Hickok were featured in the pulpy dime novels of the 19th century in yarns that may have been…just a tad exaggerated, maybe. Hickok starred in a stage drama about a frontiersman who may have had more than a passing resemblance to Wild Bill himself before dying of a gunshot while playing poker, and Buffalo Bill Cody, animal hunter turned showman, had a vastly successful “wild west show” with cowboys and Indians and stage coaches and lots of horses. (Even a cow or two?)
Going way, way back – even Alexander the Great was pulpified in extravagant adventures written about someone with his name and general background who didn’t otherwise resemble the great conqueror. (My source doesn’t specify how these stories were disseminated: read aloud down at the agora while the hearties knocked back the fermented honey or whatever was in the barrel in far-past days of yore?)
So what’s the appeal of these mashups of fable and fact? I offer two possible reasons.
First reason: In the cases of Chan, Lee, et. al., it might be a twin to the pleasure we get from watching dance because dance is what a well-choreographed movie fight is. (And I do wish that Hollywood folk would become aware of this.) The human body doing the extraordinary – the reason we watch the Olympics and a lot of televised sports.
And the second reason: we need heroes and maybe knowing that there’s something authentic in screen portrayals helps, just a tiny bit, in our willing suspension of disbelief.
Haywire? Oh yeah, Haywire, with Gina Carano. Did I mention that it was directed by the protean Steven Soderbergh and that I thought it was pretty good?
Susan Eisenberg, the beloved voice of Wonder Woman in the popular Justice League and Justice League Unlimited television series, reprises her role for the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Justice League: Doom.
Eisenberg will join several of her voicecast colleagues for the West Coast Premiere of Justice League: Doom at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on February 16.
The event is completely sold out. However, a very limited number of VIP seats are still available to fans through the Los Angeles Times/Hero Complex, as well as the Justice League: Doom Facebook page. Fans should keep their browser focused on those two pages for details of the giveaways.
The all-new, PG-13 rated Justice League: Doom will be available February 28 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy.
Eisenberg has focused her career in voiceovers for animation, video games and commercial use. In addition to her work for the past 12-plus as Wonder Woman for Justice League and Justice League Unlimited television series and the DCU films Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Justice League: Doom, Eisenberg can also be heard in a variety of animates series, including Jackie Chan Adventures, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and The Super Hero Squad Show, as well as video games like Star Wars: The Ford Unleashed – Ultimate Sith Edition and Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. She is one of nine actors returning to the booth to record their original Justice League roles for the film, Justice League: Doom.
In anticipation of the West Coast Premiere, Eisenberg gladly offered some recollections and thoughts regarding her years of voicing Wonder Woman, including flirtations with Batman, her personal memorabilia collection, and the real reason Wonder Woman flies an invisible plane.
QUESTION: What do you recall of earning the role of Wonder Woman some 13 years ago?
SUSAN EISENBERG: I can remember it vividly – because it was a big deal. It felt like a real life-changer, so it’s a huge memory for me. It was 1999, and I remember going to the call back and being with Andrea (Romano) and Bruce (Timm). Even the dialogue is still clear in my memory. And when I got the call that I got the role, it really had an impact on me.
Most jobs in voiceover don’t make you feel like they’re going to change your life, but this one did. And in many ways, it really did. I got to work for six years on a series, and I’d never done something that long term. And I was chosen to voice this wonderful, iconic character … and through these movies, I get to continue that role. It’s been fun and kind of surprising – people obviously know Wonder Woman, but it’s wonderful when they care that much that they actually recognize and acknowledge your work as the character. I walk into other jobs and people still say, “You’re Wonder Woman, right?” That’s really a kick.
QUESTION: What’s special to you about playing Wonder Woman?
EISENBERG: Wonder Woman is truly iconic. Everyone knows her. There’s something wonderful about playing a character who is recognized throughout the world. And I love her strength. I love that she stands for something and that she believes in what she believes. She’s very, very loyal and faithful and, in the beginning, I got to play her more vulnerable, and now I get to play her more adult and stronger. She’s a wonderful character.
QUESTION: You don’t have the benefit of weekly recording sessions to keep the voice fresh in your mind. How do you jump back into this role without a hitch?
EISENBERG: Working with Andrea and Bruce is a great because they were there at the start – Andrea has always directed me in this role, so she knows what she’s looking for. Listening to her direction is the first trick. Reading the script a few times also helps, especially to find the attitude and the voice. And as a refresher, I like to go online, check out YouTube, and play some old clips, or watch some of my DVDs. That helps to get me back in that space – and then Wonder Woman is right there in my head. But honestly, it’s not a huge leap for me – she’s pretty much in there all the time, anyway.
QUESTION: How much of what you do with Wonder Woman is through a change in your voice, and how much is really acting and attitude?
EISENBERG: A lot of it’s attitude. That’s why, if I’m speaking just normally, it’s not as if somebody next to me would ask, “Do you play Wonder Woman?” But then when I do the attitude and lower the register slightly, you will see this smile of recognition on the face of a little kid … or a true fan. And that’s always fun.
QUESTION: Who recognizes you more – kids who watch cartoon, or the adult devotees of the genre?
EISENBERG: Kind of both, and the reactions are different, but similar. It’s really nice to have people who are so passionate about these characters. So you get the 6-year-old child who has watched the cartoon and their eyes get big when they recognize that you’re this person behind the voice. But then you get the 40-something-year-old who has been watching, and loves this world, and loves this universe, and reads the comic books, and cares deeply about the genre. That’s fabulous, too. Just to have fans is a very cool thing. No one can complain about that. It’s good.
QUESTION: Wonder Woman has some very long battles in Justice League: Doom with a lot of physicality required in the vocal performance. How’d you handle that?
EISENBERG: The initial recording session is pretty straight-forward – we save most of the impacts and grunts and physical action for the ADR session. But as I was reading the script, I just kept thinking of Dwayne (McDuffie) and thinking, “You really layered it on me, didn’t you!” I’m going to have to be electrocuted and hit over the head and punched over and over and punch back over and over. You often have to be physical to sound physical. So – that’s a truly exhausting day.
QUESTION: What’s it like to have the gang back together again?
EISENBERG: You know, it’s thrilling because it’s a grand reunion. I get to be reunited with Michael Rosenbaum and Kevin Conroy and Carl Lumbly and that’s like having the League back together, if you will. I didn’t that expect that to happen, and I could not be more thrilled. Driving to the recording session, I was just so excited that we’d be in a room together. It is just so comfortable coming back into this. It’s the best gig in town. And anyone who does voiceovers would say that.
QUESTION: What are the scenes that appeal most to you in this film?
EISENBERG: I always like the quieter moments. So I like my scenes with J’onn, because those two characters really can relate to each other in so many ways, and I also liked my scenes with Batman. In both cases, those were some of the quieter moments with some emotional content. I enjoy the scenes where I have to kick some butt, too. But I truly enjoy the interplay with the other characters and the actors that play them.
I’ve never been shy about my feelings with Batman and Wonder Woman because, first of all, I love Kevin and I love working with Kevin. I think he’s amazing as Batman. And I love Batman and Wonder Woman together, and I think the fans do, too. You can go on YouTube and find all these wonderful videos of the two of them – showing their romance, put to music – so you know the fans love them together.
Playing Diana gives you a lot of different angles and emotions to play. Diana is very serious – she’s not like Flash where she’s funny and throwing out the one-liners. When she’s funny, it’s not necessarily intentional that she’s funny. And so I love the other aspects of her, when she gets to be flirty with Batman or when she gets to be funny with Flash or more earnest with J’onn. I especially like to play the flirty and hint at that romance between the characters. That’s a lot of fun.
QUESTION: How much equity to you take in this character?
EISENBERG: I’m enormously proud that I get to play her – it truly is a privilege and an honor. People have definite, strong opinions of Wonder Woman, and she’s known everywhere. She is this embodiment of female empowerment, and that’s a thrill, too, because there are little girls and little boys and they’re watching this and seeing that she’s so strong and so tough and righteous. It’s great to be able to provide that example of heroics through this character. I’m a guardian of that, and I don’t take it lightly. And every time I get asked to voice the role, I feel grateful – each and every time. I hope I keep getting to do it.
QUESTION: Has playing Wonder Woman changed you?
EISENBERG: In several ways. I think I’ve grown up with this part. I got this role 10 years ago, and just working alongside my fellow Justice League actors and with Andrea and Bruce has changed the way I work. And learning about this universe has changed me. You can’t have a part like this and not feel changed by it, because it’s enviable to have this job and play this character. There’s humility attached to that. You know you’re lucky. And that changes you, also.
QUESTION: What’s your attraction to voiceover work?
EISENBERG: I grew up doing radio commercials for my father’s business in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and I loved it. My father and my sister worked together – they would write the copy for me, and I would do the commercials for them. There’s something just so freeing about being behind a microphone as opposed to in front of a camera. There’s no worry about your hair or lipstick – on camera you get so self-conscious. Sure, there’s a self-consciousness in a room recording with other actors, because you want to be good. That’s just performance anxiety. I’ll take that any day over that camera and all those people staring at me. Some people are so natural with the camera – the can just pretend it’s not there. I am so aware it’s there.
QUESTION: What Wonder Woman memorabilia do you have at home?
EISENBERG: I have a lot of pictures and some beautiful cels – all gifts from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. And some small things that people have sent me – mugs and little toys and notebooks with her on the cover. When we first started, we all ran out and bought our own action figures, so that’s right at the forefront of my bookshelf.
Best of all, I have all the scripts from the series. I keep them in a big bookshelf in my closet. I’m nostalgic about that stuff. It’s very sentimental to me to. It was a big deal this job – it really does mean the world to me. So I kept all the scripts.
QUESTION: Wonder Woman can fly. Why does she need an invisible plane?
EISENBERG: Because she likes to go in style. And why should she always be flying when there is a plane that can do it for her? I mean, why not have the private jet if you can have the private jet? Right? You’re going to begrudge her a private jet? I don’t think so.
The new Fox Series, ALCATRAZ, might seem a little familiar to LOSTies – there’s JJ Abrams, an island and even Hurley but there’s a lot more hidden in the mystery than you might think. Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones join us to talk about what you can be sure will be different this time. Plus DC breaks the line and goes to $3.99 on Bat-Books.
Maggie Q talks at length about breaking the “Asian Actress” barrier, staging good fights and what she learned from Jackie Chan – all of which benefits her each week on The CW‘s NIKITA. Plus BREAKING DAWN blasts out, DEXTER goes for two and it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s your pa**w**d.
Now that Val Armorr’s dead, Hollywood thinks it’s safe to remake The Karate Kid. And now that Pat Morita’s dead, they’ve decided to cast Jackie Chan as Mr. Miyagi.
Variety also reports that the remake will star Will Smith’s son Jaden as the kid, and it will “borrow elements of the original plot” and shoot this summer in Beijing. But don’t worry, they’ll still have to run that disclaimer at the end of the film that acknowledges DC Comics. And I’ll bet cash right now they’ll have "wax on, wax off".
Granted, I’m not the sort of person you should see this film with. As the author of multiple martial art movie books, a martial art hall of fame member, a tournament gold medal recipient, the co-creator of Jackie Chan’s Spartan X comic book, and a columnist for Inside Kung-Fu magazine, I’m like that history expert at a war movie who grumbles things like “that plane wasn’t in service until the following year,” or “that isn’t the right insignia!”
Even so, suppose you had two of the film industry’s greatest, say, dancers, like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Would you attach unnecessary, distracting wires to them in virtually every scene, diminish their physical genius with intrusive special effects, jerk the camera around with every move so their choreography was obscured, convince them that all “the kids” wanted to see was the peppermint twist, paste together a plot that showcased the dance culture of Zanzibar, and saddle them with a pretty, vapid (or pretty vapid) supporting cast who could dance about as well as Fred and Gene could sew?
Well, that’s pretty close to what they did to Jackie Chan and Jet Li in [[[Forbidden Kingdom]]], not to mention choreographer and executive producer (in name only) Yuen Wo-ping. The wire and FX stuff is a precise comparison to the previous paragraph’s dance fantasy, but it really starts getting insulting when someone obviously told all involved that “Ultimate Fighting” was really what Americans wanted– dooming Jackie and Jet to monotonous straight-armed punches and kicks throughout, without an iota of the versatile, involving brilliance they display in their many kung-fu classics.