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You. Not. Expendable. Part 5: Sylvester Stallone Revisited (F.I.S.T., CLIFFHANGER, and JUDGE DREDD)!!

 

What’s up, Contenders? Terry Malloy here reporting live from the Waterfront.

 

You. Not. Expendable. Will revisit some of the classic (and not so classic) films starring the various and sundry cast members of The Expendables 2 in order to open up a conversation about action cinema in general and to prepare us all for the carnage that Expendables 2 will (hopefully) reap upon us all. 

 

As we approach the August 17th theatrical release date of The Expendables 2, You. Not. Expendable will highlight different cast members, singling out a few of their feature film endeavors. The jury is still out on whether you, too, will want to revisit each of these films.

 

 

Sylvester Stallone AKA Barney Ross

 

Sylvester Stallone is, for my money, the greatest action film star of all time. I’m perfectly comfortable if you disagree with that statement. But Sly kind of embodies the great American action hero in my mind and I think he’s shown incredible drive and resilience in keeping his career going in spite of massive ups and downs in the quality of his projects and in the popularity of the action genre. Stallone is a supremely intelligent and dedicated entertainer and possibly the greatest “life imitates art” action hero around as well. It is almost comical how “Rocky” Stallone’s career really is. He’s had periods of excess where he got too cocky. He’s had critical and commercial hits come at times when he was at his lowest. And he got his start with an underdog story as dramatic as the film itself.

 

In the 2000s, Stallone has been very candid and upfront about his career and his life. He loves his fans, and has listened to them. THE EXPENDABLES franchise, regardless of your thoughts on the two films, are totally the product of incredible effort on Stallone’s part to bring the titans of action cinema together on the big screen. The existence of these movies is a minor miracle, and I appreciate the effort he put in! 

 

In revisiting a few of Stallone’s films, I once again steered clear of the big franchises. This column works best, I hope, in reminding folks about some of the under appreciated films in our action heroes’ repertoires. So, let’s get to it.

 

 

 

 

 

F.I.S.T (1978)

 

 

TAGLINE

 

  • A story about a man, the woman he loved, and the men he fought for.

 

F.I.S.T. (henceforth typed out without the periods because they are annoying) was Stallone’s ROCKY follow up. An epic story with an A-list crew. Written by Joe Eszterhas, directed by Norman Jewison, and furiously acted by Stallone. FIST had A-list written all over it. And then it flopped, and a fascinating trend in Stallone’s career began. Time and time again, Stallone has cycled through a few hits, only to be followed by as many misses. 

 

Before I get in to some of my thoughts on the film, what is it all about? With a title like FIST, it could really be just about anything. FIST is essentially a biopic about Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, but without his name being used. Spanning several decades, FIST follows Stallone’s Johnny Kovak from a blue-collar palooka, trying to earn a decent living and a fair shake, to a powerful leader of a national truckers union. As a young man, Kovak is noble and affable. He looks out for his friends and seeks justice for the everyman. He is just one of the guys who happens to take umbridge at being treated unfairly. He’s a smarter Rocky Balboa with the gift of persuasion. 

 

After some heroic struggles and small victories, Kovak sees a friend killed while picketing against a brutal factory owner. This death sends Kovak off to find some “push” and he brings mafia muscle into his organization. For the men, he insists. And with that fatal move, Kovak guarantees his nationwide rise to success, as well as his downfall. FIST is the story of an everyman who rises against the powers that be, only to himself become a corrupted and tragic figure.

 

 

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, yeah, it kind of is. There is a massive scope at play here, with huge riot sequences and street battles set in an urban, 1930s period environment. And any time you tell a long, decades-spanning gangster tale, you are reaching for a high bar. I think Stallone does great and endearing work here. And I can’t help but love union movies since my all time favorite is ON THE WATERFRONT. In my opinion, FIST is an underseen gem in Stallone’s filmography and I’m glad I revisited this epic feature for this column.

 

So why IS it so underseen, and why is it considered a flop? My sense is that FIST had all the markings of a prestige picture. Stallone was hot off of ROCKY and this movie was probably his shot at a legitimate A-list, dramatic career. But FIST is not on par with a GODFATHER or a GOODFELLAS. The reason? Well, FIST is pretty much devoid of subtext. It is a thinly veiled Jimmy Hoffa story that wears its heart on its sleeve. Where ROCKY told one of the greatest sports underdog stories of its time, FIST just puts it all out there on the screen. There isn’t a whole lot to meditate on or sink your teeth into. Power corrupts. Done. 

 

FIST would most likely have faired much better in the view of film history if it hadn’t felt like such a failed prestige project. As it is, I think it is an awesome and charismatic film. Stallone makes you love Johnny Kovak and hate the mistakes he makes. FIST is a solid crime drama that deserves a watch, though not an Oscar. 

 

It doesn’t look like FIST has been given the Blu-ray treatment just yet. I’m guessing it is because the film was considered a failure, which is a bummer. But you can support this column by picking up the DVD from Amazon HERE

 

 

 

 

 

CLIFFHANGER (1993)

 

TAGLINES

 

  • The Height Of Adventure
  • Hang On!

 

[Wow, those are the taglines? Really?]

 

The opening sequence of CLIFFHANGER is the stuff of ‘90s legend. We meet Stallone this time as Gabe Walker, mountain rescue ranger. High atop “the chimney” Gabe is rescuing a fellow ranger and his girlfriend after they got stranded at the top. Something goes terribly wrong, and then Ace Ventura lets a raccoon fall to its death. Okay, that isn’t exactly what happens, but you get the idea. 

 

CLIFFHANGER is a rollicking good time at the movies and is one of Stallone’s most thrilling and successful films outside of his major franchises. His Gabe Walker is a hero, but he is a bit more of an everyman than some of Stallone’s more pumped up projects. I guess you could sum up CLIFFHANGER as “DIE HARD on a Mountain”, but I like to think of it as more than that. (Even if the film itself never quite reaches the primal fears it milks in the opening sequence.)

 

After Gabe’s introduction and subsequent life changing failure, we get into the DIE HARD stuff. In a heist worthy of Tom Hardy’s Bane, John Lithgow and his team of crooks actually rob a US Treasury plane in mid-air. The robbery is interrupted by some kind of unplanned FBI guy flying on the plane that day, and eventually the radar-trackable cases of money get dropped into Gabe’s mountain range and the crooks survive a plane crash too. So what you get are a team of highly motivated and cruel worldclass thieves traipsing around the mountains, looking for their cases. All this goes down JUST as Gabe happens to be back in town trying to rekindle things with Janine Turner (bonus!)

 

 

I think there is a TON of stuff that really works in CLIFFHANGER and I’m happy to own the Blu-ray. For one thing, the movie has the feel of an A-list, big budget, action movie. It came before the fall of the tentpole, hard-R action film craze. The cast is wonderful, with John Lithgow in evil villain mode and Michael Rooker playing Gabe’s best friend. The score by Trevor Jones is triumphant and very hummable. I’d even go so far as to say that the photography and filmmaking going on here is top notch. I can’t imagine the challenges faced when filming a movie on the side of a mountain. And that gimmick is explored very well, complete with ropes snapping, brides collapsing, free climbing, and a stalactite kill! It also really feels like Stallone is giving this one his all, like he knows this movie is a special one. 

 

The premise I just laid out is so far fetched that one has to keep the movie’s title in mind and enjoy CLIFFHANGER as action pulp. This movie’s goal is to thrill you and keep you on the edge of your seat and I’d say it does that better even than SPEED (if we are comparing high concept action thrillers.)

 

I doubt a film like CLIFFHANGER could be made today. It isn’t a sequel or based on an existing property (to my knowledge.) And it is a pretty hard R. And on top of all that, it is set on a freezing mountain! I don’t know how CLIFFHANGER’S budget compared to others of that same era, but it seems studios just don’t greenlight difficult pictures like this and allow them to be R-rated action films. We can only dream that someday this trend will change and action cinema will once again be given the keys to the kingdom.

 

I happened to actually pick up the Blu-ray for CLIFFHANGER in time to cover it for this column. And while the bonus features on my Blu-ray look straight out of 1993’s home video release, I felt the picture quality was pretty nice on the feature itself! And there are multiple commentary tracks, so I think this is a worthy purchase if you are a fan. You can pick it up HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGE DREDD (1995)

 

TAGLINES

 

  • One man is Judge, Jury, AND Executioner.
  • In the future, one man is the law.

 

With a new DREDD film just around the corner, and a slight buzz around the interwebs of a resurgent love for Stallone’s film, I just had to take this opportunity to revisit JUDGE DREDD. Seeing the movie unearthed a long forgotten memory in me, which is that I had a poster for this film hanging from my ceiling as a teenager! I think even then I was disappointed by the film overall but was happy to have the poster for reasons I’ll delve into momentarily. 

 

Is this the worst movie of the three I’ve covered today? Absolutely. Does it deserve all the critical bile that was thrown its way upon release? I’d say yeah. It does. But can a geek find a lot to love in JUDGE DREDD? Hell yes. 

 

 

Look, JUDGE DREDD is Stallone in one of his ROCKY III states. His performance in JUDGE DREDD feels a little strained, or maybe phoned in. And there is a disconnect between what could have been and what ended up being. What really doesn’t work? Well, I could end the discussion right here with two words: Rob Schneider. But I want to dig a little deeper. Stallone’s DREDD is one of those films that clips along at an extremely rapid rate, introducing us to an unfamiliar future and bouncing from set piece to set piece without any time to breath. We follow DREDD as he does his thing, and then see him get framed, banished, imprisoned, escape, return, and defeat evil and regain his good name; all in a brisk 96 minutes. The plot feels rushed, and since Dredd’s world is the most fascinating part of the movie, you want to see more of it and revel in it. But instead we get a neatly resolved, fairly boring character arch that also shoehorns in a love interest (the lovely Diane Lane, which is a plus), a comic sidekick (Schneider), and an overacting villain (Armand Assante.)

 

I guess the story just feels too bloated and jam-packed to breathe. I would have loved to see more of a character study of what it means to be judge, jury, and executioner in a ravaged, futuristic mega-city. Instead we get a familiar hero’s journey with some cool set pieces thrown in. Here’s to hoping Karl Urban and Pete Travis’ DREDD gives us a darker and more focused study of this cool character.

 

But man, there is a lot of cool stuff to love in Stallone’s version, even if the movie isn’t ultimately a success. And this is why I loved my poster in my bedroom as a teen. THE PRODUCTION DESIGN! JUDGE DREDD is a practical effects kind of movie. There is a robot in this movie that Assante finds and utilizes as a sidekick. I guess it is called an ABC Warrior in the film. But that thing is simply amazing looking, and was featured prominently on my poster. It’s design reminds me a little bit of Megatron in the TRANSFORMERS cartoon from the ‘80s, and it damn sure looks cooler than any single robot in the entirety of the TRANSFORMERS film franchise. 

 

 

 

Another character design that totally rules is a mutant cannibal cyborg that Dredd stumbles across in his exile to the wasteland. This whole sequence feels like a distraction and I would’ve been fine with the whole movie remaining INSIDE Mega City One. But I digress, this mutant hillbilly is a stunningly realized practical make up effect/character. It is impossible to see where actor ends and make-up begins. 

 

I also really love the look and feel of Mega City One and the costume design on the judges and on the various troopers and symbols of the fragile authority stucture. It feels like the script and casting were off base on JUDGE DREDD, but no one told the artists and craftsmen who made the movie look incredible. While costumers and set designers and visual effects engineers can’t necessarily elevate a terrible film into genius territory, they can very much provide the film with watchability. And I think they do that here. I recommend giving JUDGE DREDD another go before seeing the new film. If you hate it, then maybe you’ll dig the new version all the more. And if you love Stallone’s JUDGE DREDD, it’ll be a treat for you to check out the old school magic that was still being practically created on the verge of the digital revolution.

 

 I actually had to rent this movie and ended up watching it on VHS. But a blu-ray exists and I’m linking you to it HERE. How does it look, for those of you that own it? I’d really like to see the set designs and creatures in HD sometime. 

 

 

 

 

And I’m Out.

 

 

Terry Malloy AKA Ed Travis

 

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Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 19, 2012, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Paradise Alley

    by gdprof27

    was better than F.I.S.T. and/or Judge Dredd. An interesting case story as Sly's first pic with carte blanche

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 2:48 p.m. CST

    I have always liked Stallone's Dredd and I won't apologize for it.

    by Darth Mulder

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:04 p.m. CST

    The opening sequence of Cliffhanger...

    by jimmy rabbitte

    featured a rock formation called The Tower... not "The Chimney"...

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Expendables2 is hardly a flop

    by C

    despite how badly the haters want it to be.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:07 p.m. CST

    even Stallone said sometimes you know a movie is going to suck

    by Mugato5150

    but the money's been spent and there's nothing you can do. That's what he said about Dredd. If I was a comic book guy I'd proabably hate it even more. But it did have the big futuristic city chase that I thought when I was watching it just after reading a Star Wars book that it would make a kick as chase scene through Coruscant in the new Star Wars movie they keep talking about.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:08 p.m. CST

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrnaeFcN14E

    by Rtobert

  • I'm sorry, but Stallone dominating Van Damme in that fight is beyond absurd, it's downright stupid. And before you say, It's not Van Damme, it's a character played by Van Damme," just know that any character played by Van Damme should be a complete and utter bad@$$. You don't cast Jean-Claude freaking Van Damme as the primary villain and have him get his @$$ completely handed to him by a 60+ year old Sylvester Stallone or any Sylvester Stallone for that matter. Even No Retreat, No Surrender had the brains to portray a villainous Van Damme as the bad@$$ that he is.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:21 p.m. CST

    terry_malloy. When can we expect another Cannon Fodder?

    by adeceasedfan

    You are a welcome addition around here. Good stuff.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:31 p.m. CST

    completely agree about Judge Dredd

    by AntonStark

    the visuals make the movie worth watching everything else is shit oh, and i loved the trailer score

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Tired of morons claiming what is a flop or not...

    by Andrew Coleman

    Okay so you go to AMC a lot... Doesn't mean you know shit about how the business works. You mean an R rated action film going up against Bourne and animated movies makes almost $30 million and you think that is a flop? You're an idiot. What did you think EX2 was TDKR? Moron. I'm just tired of seeing mindless tools make comments like that. Cliffhanger is awesome. Have always digged that movie.

  • It's been awesome joining the AICN team and I do plan to do theatrical and home video reviews on top of Cannon Fodder and any other columns I can cook up and have time to do properly.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Heh, naw it's not really a flop

    by WINONA_RYDERS_PUSSY_JUICE

    But it is doing worse than the first one, which opened at 34.8 mil. It's actually a pretty successful semi-low-budget franchise. I'd put franchise in quotation marks but you know how it goes at AICN with their fantastic talkback software. Sorry but I thought Rob Sneider was funny in Judge Dredd, and I thought the movie was pretty good.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:50 p.m. CST

    What did you guys watch Judge Dredd on at home at the time?

    by WINONA_RYDERS_PUSSY_JUICE

    DVD? You got a time machine? Sweet!

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 3:58 p.m. CST

    nooooooooooooAaaaaaarrrrrrghhaaaakrakriiiiiiip

    by UltraTron

  • There's really no way the uninitiated could understand how important Dredd was within the Judge system and Mega-City One. Having him as a fugitive was the perfect excuse to keep Stallone out of the helmet for the entire movie. Lame.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Yeah,Terry is a very welcome addition to this site

    by mr.underwater

    I mean, it's pretty impossible to dislike a guy who takes his interweb nickname from On the Waterfront and has an affinity for Golan-Globus flicks.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Expendables 2 is 'underperforming'

    by tailhook

    Whether it is actually a flop or not depends on how much they spent on budget and advertising. But as the second film of the franchise, its expected to build on what it did before based on it now being a known product, especially with more high profile stars. It should not be doing less than what it did before.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 5:03 p.m. CST

    CLIFFHANGER was my first (and only) exposure to LaserDisc

    by ciroslive

    I was the first of my family to own a DVD player. Just months after the format came out I had a selection of about 8 movies at Best Buy. My first purchase? US MARSHALLS with the impression special features of trailer AND secondary language tracks! Huzzah!

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 5:04 p.m. CST

    impression = impressive

    by ciroslive

    Also I ended up buying the LaserDisc versions of Back to the Future and Empire Strikes Back, but I don't have a LD player

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 5:06 p.m. CST

    1995 Dredd pros and cons

    by fauns_bass_1

    I knew you'd say that

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 5:30 p.m. CST

    I love Dredd and Cliffhanger

    by disfigurehead

    Saw them both in the theater. Good popcorn turn your brain off flicks.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Jason Statham should have beem the new Dredd

    by CartoonScott

    Jason Statham should have beem the new Dredd

  • LOL get a grip.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Janine Turner has lost her ratfuckin' mind.

    by Mosquito March

    I had the hugest crush on her when she did Northern Exposure and Cliffhanger. Have you seen her lately? She's turned into a crazed Tea Party constitutionalist zealot, and the media exploits her craziness by inviting her on air to comment on shit that she has no qualifications to talk about. YouTube that shit. She's like Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson and Gary Busey rolled into one. And if you think her YouTube videos are scary, look up the album she co-wrote with her daughter. The songs feature insanely dark, disturbing lyrics. It's Leeann Rimes-meets-Mercyful Fate.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 7:18 p.m. CST

    Judge Dredd

    by Michael_Jacksons_Ghost

    I went to see it opening day. It was an evening showing, and me, and a friend going to it. My parents, went to see, I think Apollo 13, while I was going to see Judge Dredd. We get in theater to get a seat, and were happy to get perfect center seating. What we didn't know was that we ended up being the only ones there for the showing of Dredd! About half way through the movie, I told my friend, let's sneak in to see Apollo 13. So we left what was one of the worst comic book movies ever made. I knew you were going to say that.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Dear Sly , Expendables 2 was Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by DarthBlart

    the 1rst 15 minute action set alone was worth it. and most of the movie was explosions and killing gimmicks.

  • Thank you Sly, for your gift!!!! I hated the first Expendables, but the sequel, while not perfect, was such a welcome improvement!!!!

  • Every time I hear people use those phrases to defend lazy film making I want to punch a kitten.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Stallone's Judge Dredd was fun.

    by nametaken

    and that robot design is still AMAZING. just too bad they didn't have the budget to articulate it in the film. don't get the why people shit on that movie.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dXuRWqAErg

  • Instead they used Alan Silvestri's stuff, which although it was okay wasn't half as good as that one cool tune. I felt so cheated when I saw the film, not just because it sucked but also because changing the music felt like such a bait and switch. It was the first time I truly understood that what you see in a trailer ain't necessarily what you're going to see in the film. I think there should be some kind of rule that trailers have to play at least some of the music that'll be in the film--or at least admit upfront that it won't be in there (yeah, like that'll ever happen.) At least I managed to find the tune on the net years later, so it wasn't a total loss.

  • And I still do. The shit that Lithgow put the protagonists through in that movie was hellish. Harlin definitely turned out the best work of his career with Cliffhanger. It's a shame that it hasn't gotten greater recognition.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Harlin ought to be the one making new Die Hard movies

    by BoyNamedSue

    Seeing as how McTiernan won't. Pacific Bell pay phones in Washington D.C. aside, Die Harder was a kick ass movie!

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 8:55 p.m. CST

    Mean Machines is going all the way up to 4 on you!

    by LabattsBleu

    gotta agree, the production design in the Stallone Dredd was great. Mean Machine was a great character in the comics, that really looked good on screen too - considering there was a high potential for disaster. hopeful that Urban's Dredd will be successful enough to spawn sequels. Hell, if Resident Evil movies can find a niche, why not dredd!?

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 9 p.m. CST

    I didn't mind Dredd so much

    by sonnyfern

    Brilliant effects in there, and some cool action set pieces, but then again I never read an issue of the comic book, so I'm sure I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I've sure the hell seen worst pictures.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Blockbuster

    by Christian Sylvain

    Fuck me. I've gotta stop typing up these posts while masturbating to donkey porn.

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 9:58 p.m. CST

    ABC Warrior: Atomic Bacterial Chemical Warrior

    by mrfantomashawk

    A staple in the dredd comics, and they have their own series. Great reads if you can find em.

  • You simply can't make any such calls based on domestic takes alone. I've used this example before, but look at Avatar: About 700 million domestic. If we ignored the international grosses, it would be missing over 2 BILLION dollars. The difficulty is that different countries have different currencies, release dates, etc, so it is more difficult to reach a tally for that as quickly as domestic. SO when people look at a low domestic take and panic, it doesn't make any sense. If a film has reasonable pull in other countries, and assuming it is budgeted at 50 million, and takes in 45 million domestic - you might say that makes it a flop. But usually a 45 million take in the states is only part of the picture - usually there's at least an additional 50-60 million to add to the pot from international grosses. So 45 becomes 95-105 million. And that's before blu-ray/dvd takes and merchandise. I will wager right now that Expendables 2 will come in with a final gross of between 100 and 125 million worldwide, probably only 50 million of it domestic. I'm not sure of what the budget was, but my understanding is around $80 million. Expendables 2 took in 28.75 million its opening weekend. The take for the second week tends to be around a 50% drop in attendence, so I would expect week 2 to bring the domestic total to between 42.75 and 43.5 million. Expect another 7 to 10 million for week 3, bringing the total from 49.75 to 52.5 million. I would estimate a final domestic gross of around 55-60 million domestic. I would also expect the international grosses to be at least 10 million higher than domestic - so 65-70 million for international. This is just going by historical trends, by the way, and is by no means a hardball figure. Just likely. So, expect the lower end for worldwide to exceed the budget by at least 30 to 40 million dollars. I don't have the advertising figures just yet, but just based on my observation, there hasn't been THAT big of a campaign in terms of advertisements. I'd expect it to come in at less than 20 mil. So, even with the lower figures, even assuming they spent 30 million on advertising, at very least they will break even. What's that, you say? Distributors? Even taking that into account, I really dont see how this will lose them money. And again...they'll make more money yet on blu-ray/dvd releases and rentals. Don't underestimate how much that can add to the pot. Your average blu-ray costs what, $20-$30? Let's say they sell 10 million dvd's and blu-rays worldwide. That's an additional 200-300 mil (which of course doesnt' all go directly back to them, but you get the picture). I may be wrong, but that's the way I see it. I also heard (heard mind you, I'm not sure) that Arnold didn't take a salary for his appearance? And Sly didnt take a large payday - nobody did, to my knowledge. Annnyway...I'd be very surprised if it flopped. 28.75 million to open domestically with an R movie in August is NOT bad at all considering it is heavily male skewed, and most of the audience is over 25 (e.g. old enough to remember these guys), so your audience is pretty limited in demographic to begin with during a slower time of year for films (May/June releases typically fare far better).

  • Aug. 19, 2012, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Mrfantomashawk. ABC Warriors were NOT a staple of the Dredd stories.

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    The Hammerstein model warrior was added purely as a 2000ad fanwank by Danny Cannon. I believe after that there was some attempt to feature the ABC Warriors in a couple Dredd stories at most, after the Stallone travesty but a staple, they were not. A staple of 2000ad and the Ro-Busters, ABC Warriors and Nemesis the Warlock storylines yes. Dredd, no.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 1:33 a.m. CST

    2 Out Of 3 / No Nods To The Directors - WTF?

    by THX1968

    Cliffhanger is sublime action directed by Renny (Die Hard 2 is sooooo good) Harlin. Love that flick. Norman Jewison is one of the greatest directors that ever lived, but FIST does lack subtlety. I still really dig that flick and want the Blu Ray. The horseshit Judge Dredd is just too terrible for me to consider, especially when the far, far superior Demolition Man is available to worship on Blu. Love Demolition Man!

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Stallone's Dredd: best first 15 minutes ever!

    by BEHEM Pascal

    And I treasure the Making of and Art of books dearly. And that Alan Silvestri score. And that Jerry Goldsmith cue. My dream: a reedit of Stallone's Judge Dredd, with his face covered/hidden in shadows, his full uniform CGI'ed on when possible, a cutting off of ALL Rob Schneider's one-liners, the clone destruction scene put back in, and a new scene of fighting between Dredd and the robot.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 4:54 a.m. CST

    Judge Dredd miniature model work is fucking awesome.

    by Autodidact

    I remember being really surprised by the large scale feeling of Judge Dredd. These days everything uses CGI to excess to make massive sprawling urban landscapes. Dredd did it with good old model work and I think the results speak for themselves.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 4:54 a.m. CST

    ABC Warriors....

    by Ciderman

    Hammerstein is the name of the awesome robot, he was in Stallones Dredd on loan, one presumes, from another 2000ad strip, The ABC Warriors, also to be found in RoBusters and Nemesis the Warlock. And, the guy in the movie, not a patch on the real deal. Hammerstein is an intelligent robot soldier, built, according to canon, to fight in the Volgan wars, the same wars that gave us Blackblood. He ended up on Mars in the ABC Warriors, including Ro Jaws, Mek Quake, The Mess, Joe Pineapples and Dead Lock. Later, with some time travelling, he wound up, along with RoJaws and Dead Lock, associating with Nemesis, and Mek Quake was on the bad guys team. The there was the time wastes and the later ABC Warriors comics that are simply awesome! Fact is, for an ABC Warrior fan, the presence of Hammerstein, lacking his hammer for crying out loud!, was a crying shame and one of the great disappointments of a film choca-block with disappointments.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 4:55 a.m. CST

    "I am The Lauuuuwwwggghh"!

    by Stalkeye

    What a huge disappointment. What If Sly would have kept his fucking Helmet on most of the time,Rob Schieder was ommited from the entire fucking film and a few scenes and plot points were exchanged for better ones, Dredd would have been a hit. Von Sydow's performance was great but the rest of the cast were phoned in. But thanks for adding White Zombie's "Supercharger Heaven" in the film.

  • can't find this shit anywhere.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:07 a.m. CST

    used to love The ABC Warriors....

    by Righteous Brother

    but I don't think Ro-Jaws made it to Mars. He was part of the Ro-Busters.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:22 a.m. CST

    I've been meaning to revist JUDGE DREDD

    by Spandau Belly

    I'll check it out again when it hits bluray in the fall. I imagine I'll like it more now than I did upon its initial release.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:23 a.m. CST

    I've also never seen THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH

    by Spandau Belly

    I hear that's a good THE OUTSIDERS / RUMBLEFISH type of greaser flick. I'll have to get around to seeing that one of these days.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:27 a.m. CST

    my local grindhouse is showing RHINESTONE this Saturday

    by Spandau Belly

    Looking forward to seeing that one for the first time. Stallone singing country songs has got to be worth the price of admission.

  • we didn't get a digital shot of the robot walking around. It was the early days of the cg transition and the complaints were in reverse back then.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:46 a.m. CST

    I have the blu-ray...

    by Lampers

    ...and it looks real good. I got it from Amazon Germany (Amazon.de). German sub-titles are optional and can easily be switched off and all the extras (quite a few) that I watched were English language. Nice little disc. Has a reversible cover too so you don't have to look at that UGLY German age rating. UGLY! I agree it's a fantastic looking but narratively flawed film. It's well worth a watch just for all the eye candy, and the story isn't dreadful just really disappointing given the potential. And I don't care that he takes his helmet off, even though I was a HUGE fan of the comics when I was younger. For me there are a lot of issues with this film, but that isn't one.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 8:08 a.m. CST

    F.I.S.T. is indeed somewhat underappreciated...

    by Bill C.

    TM was dead on that it's a Hoffa quasi-pastiche, but it's actually pretty good in a low-key sort of way. And it's more of an ensemble piece in some ways than the vast majority of Sly's filmography, coming as it did before everybody involved lost their minds due to successes. ("Nobody ever won a fight taking a punch!" One of the more ironic lines in Sly's career, IMO.) Okay, it might lose a point for Bill Conti's score, which is perhaps a bit TOO bombastic for a film of this ilk.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Man I loved Dredd..never understood the hate for it

    by SlyWalker

    Dredd was a fun movie with great music, visuals, costumes, and ass kicking! I believe one of the cheezy PG-13 Batman movies came out around the same time and kiddos went to see that instead of the hard R Dredd. Cliffhanger was a blast. FIST was very well acted by Sly, but just didn't draw people in. I think he turned down Coming Home for this?

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 9:59 a.m. CST

    Where are the AICN reviews of Expendables 2?

    by coolfan123

    I can't find any of this site. I know Stallone has chatted with Harry - he chatted on a thread and did a Q&A session. Perhaps AICN staff disliked Expendables 2 but didn't want to upset their pal 'Sly' so decided not to post a review? Strange how there's no review on the site.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10 a.m. CST

    Seriously how could you leave out Demolition Man

    by Tom Johnston

    Easily one of Stallone's most charismatic and loveable roles. Bullock is slightly annoying but likeable.... and it has your favorite actor in it again..... Rob Schneider. This is a flawed analysis. You included FIST, but not DM.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Stallone's Dredd was one of the biggest disappointments of my filmgoing life.

    by SergeantStedenko

    It's right up there with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the soon to be Rockford Files movie. Had the writers and director respected the source material as much as the art director and production designers and had they focused on making the best Dredd movie possible, instead of just another vehicle for Stallone, well... Oh, what's the point.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Stallone's Dredd was one of the biggest disappointments of my filmgoing life.

    by SergeantStedenko

    It's right up there with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the soon to be Rockford Files movie. Had the writers and director respected the source material as much as the art director and production designers and had they focused on making the best Dredd movie possible, instead of just another vehicle for Stallone, well... Oh, what's the point.

  • Seriously--apart from The Helmet Thing (I'm just enough of a Dredd fan that that bugs me), the first half was a perfectly fine movie. Maybe even up to the transport crash. It's after that where it does, indeed, become more of a traditional Stallone vehicle--and its cribbing from 'Demolition Man' at the end didn't help its case, either. That said, the art and production designers deserved mad props (and Mass. Illusion, who pulled off some wonderful VFX that actually hold up to this day--not ALL of it, but a fair portion).

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    That Dredd Blu-Ray cover is fucking awful

    by JIMBOCOP

    Don't know what badly photoshopped gun he's shooting, but it isn't the "Lawgiver" from the film.

  • (Blue clad zombies waking up from a chamber and that was it?!? this could have been a great opportunity to add horrific elements and have Dredd take on a small army of his replicants.) it's almost as if the producers were on a tight budget or had to reach some deadline. Thanks for nuttin, Mr. Cannon.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Love that the gun can sample DNA through his glove...

    by JIMBOCOP

    ...but Assante needs four metal spikes through his arm to give a DNA sample to the Central Computer. Fail.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 10:53 a.m. CST

    A shame Sly's early porn flick wasn't reviewed.

    by SlickyVonBoner

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Never mind these Stallone movies,we want....

    by jinste

    NIGHTHAWKS!And we want a directors cut with all the deleted scenes restored.And on Blu-ray.NOW would be a good time.Just saying......

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 11:38 a.m. CST

    by Peter Meredith

    Totally agree. the film itself was a lot of fun it was just that fight was over far too quick.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 12:31 p.m. CST

    Demolition Man and Nighthawks or STFU & GTFO!

    by Stalkeye

    Would have loved to have seen the deleted scenes from Nighthawks as Sly had previously mentioned on an AICN talkback. He also mentioned how violent the original finale was but I guess the studio heads at Universal was too pusified to keep it in. Loved Nighthawks. "YOU'RE FUCKING DEAD, YOU SON OF A BITCH. YOUR'E FUCKING DEEEEEAAAAAAAAAD"!!

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 1:05 p.m. CST

    so he took his freakin helmet off

    by SlyWalker

    Get the hell over it comic book geeks!

  • Nighthawks is a criminally under-rated slice of Stallone's filmography. Love to have it restored back to the film that it used to be. An extended/director's cut version would be bliss, but who knows if the footage that the studio cut even exists now. Stallone's work in F.I.S.T. is also woefully under-appreciated. Damn good film, and Stallone did quality work in the lead. People should go back and check it out if it is a film that they skipped back in the day. Demolition Man is just pure popcorn fun. Paradise Alley and The Lords of Flatbush are also both well worth checking out for more up and comic, dramatic-leaning Sly, before he turned into one of the 80's Action Men. Neither are great, but both are good little films of their type. Paradise Alley is certainly a better Stallone/Asante team up film than Judge Dredd was, and where else are you going to see soon-to-be Fonze Henry Winkley, soon-to-be Rocky Sylvester Stallone, and Class of 1984's goody-goody teacher Perry King in the same gang? As for Judge Dredd, great production design. Stallone, despite being a little short, was actually a great choice for 'ol stoney face at the time, but the film, and the script, is just a mess. I could have even gotten over Dredd removing his helmet if everything else had the proper 2000AD feel, and lived up to that great production design. But instead we got Judge Dredd filtered through a hollywood studio who clearly didn't 'get' the material in the first place, and too many different people, all with their own interests and ideas, pulling the project and script in a thousand different directions. Much like how I don't blame Clooney for the day glo nightmare that is Batman & Robin, I don't blame Stallone for Judge Dredd. Hell, those guys forever being linked to those films is punishment enough. And whoever decided to create the comic sidekick character, and then to add insult to injury, cast Ron Schneider in the role, fuck you. Seriously. Fuck. You.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Sly climbed the mountain 1st Cruise. You just copied im for M.I.2

    by 5secondfuse

    How many big budget summer movies around today or in the last 10 years would kill to have a sequence as tense as the 1st 15 minutes in Cliffhanger. It's a masterpiece of nerve shredding tension and I saw it in a packed cinema back in 93. You could feel the tension in the audience. It's a cracking hard R action movie the likes Hollywood haven't gt the balls to make today and it is easily on of Sly's greatest. He put EVERYTHING into this which was his biggest hit in years. I remember seeing him scale that mountain at the start and it was beautifully shot. Then 7 years later Crazy Mental Gay Zealot Cruise's Ego went into Orbit and he pulled the same shit. Stick it up your ass midget!

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Dredd:

    by Ryan Beattie

    I agree about the design elements of Dredd. The movie looked slicked, and was doing very well until the scene where Sydow was giving a dramatic speech about how leniency should be afforded to Dredd, all with a something flying around in his nostril every time he breathed. The best part about Stallone's Dredd? The score by Alan Silvestri is FANTASTIC!!!

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Dread is DREADFUL...Har...I'm clever... but its true.

    by Dan

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 3:24 p.m. CST

    OSCAR

    by Toulon

    I don't care who knows it, I love "Oscar" and always will! Palminteri, Curry, Stallone, Tomei, Reigert, KIRK DOUGLAS, Metcalf, Shearer, Ferrero... LOVE.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Cliffhanger does indeed kick ass!!!

    by GravyAkira

    And Dread has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Stallone rarely lets me down.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Copland

    by King_Ink

    Would have rather seen a COPLAND review than F.I.S.T, but whatever. Nice to hear someone call people a 'comic book nerd' because they complained about a character in a movie doing something the character never did in the 20 years of source material that preceded it. But, you're a tough guy, a manly man. You probably need it put in some perspective you can understand, so... Imagine a Dale Earnhardt movie coming out where he didn't have a mustache? Wouldn't you (I'm imaging you as a nascar loving, beer swilling, wal mart shopper) be totally appalled that one of your life long heroes was treated that way? So... now it probably makes more sense. You're welcome.

  • Are you KIDDING me? Quality schlock is what it is. Its necessary and he delivered.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 6:04 p.m. CST

    Why not, kafka45?

    by Bill C.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 6:04 p.m. CST

    I love the hell out of Victory

    by Jesse Kroh

    God I love that movie.

  • Aug. 20, 2012, 7:14 p.m. CST

    That scene where the British guy kicks the shit out of Michael Rooker

    by james_cameron_raped_my_childhood

    I remember being shocked at how violent it was, but loved the payoff.

  • just never got the appeal for him. For the most part he played loud, arrogant, obnoxious characters. Although, he did do a great acting job in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but that's about the only movie he doesn't play a loud, arrogant, obnoxious character. And John Wayne was slightly over weight and out of shape. Sorry but I just can't buy characters who are noticeably out of shape to have the ability to kick ass.

  • Aug. 21, 2012, 3:21 a.m. CST

    that jerry goldsmith trailer track...

    by ben sheppard

    ...was also used in The Phantom and Lost In Space trailers. Believe it was written for that exact purpose so turning up in the film was never gonna happen.

  • Aug. 22, 2012, 6:23 a.m. CST

    EXP 2

    by Dheep

    Say what you will, I'd like to see real pics of all you nerds here. Myself included.Would NOT be a pretty sight - Stallone looked pretty damn good for his advanced age. Despite the weird looking facelifts of a lot of them ( Norris was especially strange and Botoxillated ). Much better than EXP 1. Could have definitely done without the Stoopid plane crash into the cave though.