Misfire (2014)

Misfire (2014)-

Directed by: R. Ellis Frazier

Starring: Gary Daniels and Vannessa Vasquez

Cole (Daniels) is a DEA agent searching the mean streets of Tijuana, Mexico in search of his kidnapped ex-wife. He believes the drug cartels have something to do with her disappearance so he goes after the baddies involved. Helping him out is a beautiful woman named Gracie (Vasquez). That’s pretty much it. Will Cole and Gracie fight the bad guys, rescue the girl, and win the day?

You know how in movies and TV shows, when cops or doctors have to go to the family of someone who died, and they say something like “it never gets any easier” or “this is the part of the job I hate”, while having grave, unsmiling faces? Well, this is how we feel right now. As much as we love Gary Daniels, and we desperately WANTED to love Misfire, we - regrettably - have to deliver the bad news. It’s just not very good. We hate...well, hatred on the internet and we try not to be a party to it, so, we’ll just say what we have to say in as kind a way as we can, and we’ll try to back it up with all that we have, and, presumably what you’re reading this for: our opinion.

We love that fan favorite Gary Daniels is still working, and he has to get in where he fits in, as it were. But fans of his want to see him do Martial Arts, and/or be charming during dialogue scenes. Both are minimal in Misfire. Daniels does do some stuff towards the END of the movie. Bad move. He should have fought more goons and done it from the get-go. Instead, the pace of the movie is odd and lopsided, with a bunch of yak-yak and extended scenes of shirtless men walking around. Then a few limp, lazy action scenes break out (starting with a fruit cart foot chase), but the whole thing just feels OFF - and slow. 

It lacks edge, focus, drive, and a strong, super-evil villain. The cumulative effect of this is that it feels like nothing much of value is happening, and the viewer gets annoyed. 

It appears director Frazier doesn’t know what to do with Mr. Daniels. He didn’t use him to his maximum potential, or even close to it. I’m surprised they’re teaming up again after this for future projects. The real problem is, this movie isn’t exciting or fun. There’s no sense of high-stakes action/adventure. It feels rote, with no “Yes!” moments. And there’s one blow-up. ONE. Listen, we couldn’t care less that it’s low-budget and has that sort of feel. Low-budget movies are the lifeblood of cinema. But if we compare it, just for fun, to a high-budget Hollywood movie, Fair Game (1995), Fair Game is a masterpiece, even though people make fun of it all the time. Because Fair Game knows what the audience wants and expects, and delivers it to them. Misfire did not do that. That’s the real problem here.

And just a note on the title. “Misfire” is a very modern-day - you might even say post-modern - title for an action movie. Almost like it’s ashamed of itself. Gone are the days of titles like Fists of Blood (1988), Triple Impact (1992), and Excessive Force II: Force on Force (1995), it seems. We need more strong, powerful heroes that aren’t afraid to snap some necks and blow up a few helicopters, not some guy in a nebbish voice saying “sorry ma’am, I’m afraid I had a misfire”. And we don’t want to hear any excuses on this, like we’re dealing with the dark night of Cole’s soul or something. No more ‘misfire’s.

Not to be too obvious about it, but we are forced to say it: Misfire is indeed a misfire. 

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Action Elite!


The Protector (2005)

The Protector (2005)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Prachya Pinkaew

Starring: Tony Jaa, Johnny Nguyen, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Jin Xing, Lateef Crowder, Jon Foo, and Nathan Jones

As part of a centuries-old tradition in Thailand, certain people take on the duties to protect their all-important - and perhaps even sacred - elephants. These special people are known, naturally, as Protectors. Raised in rural Thailand as a Protector, like his father before him, Kham (Jaa) takes his responsibilities seriously - VERY seriously. When an unscrupulous gangster named Johnny Yai (Nguyen) kidnaps Kham’s two beloved elephants, Kohrn and Por-Yai (yes, the elephants have names), Kham travels to Sydney, Australia to find them and bring them back home. 

Teaming up with a Thai cop named Mark (Wongkamlao), Kham has to fight wave after wave of baddies who really take their elephant-napping to heart. It’s all being controlled by whip-wielding gangstress Madame Rose (Xing). Will Kham battle his way through the meatheads and retrieve the elephants?  Find out today!

Tony Jaa is just the Man. When it comes to Martial Arts fights, stunts, and choreography, he is arguably the best of his generation. What this man can do is unbelievably great and highly impressive. He gets the utmost respect not just for his considerable natural talent, but for his refusal to use wires or stunt doubles during fight scenes. His penchant for long takes is hugely appreciated and stands as the 180-degree opposite to the annoying “quick-cut” trend of today. 

The word on the street is, unfortunately, he has bad management that force him to do a lot of stupid movies and he went kind of nuts. He’s kind of like the action movie equivalent of Dave Chappelle. Of course, this doesn’t diminish him in any way.

The plot, simple as it is, shows a fascinating cultural difference that we really enjoyed. In most movies, a disc of some sort would be the sought-after item. In this case it’s elephants. The fact that elephants are so central to the Thai culture, and thus such a driving, motivating factor for the characters, was fascinating. To us Americans, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but we had to get over that and delve into the Thai mindset as best we could. Add to that the highly-impressive fight scenes and a fruit-cart boat chase, and you get sucked in to the movie quickly and effectively. There’s even a boat-induced exploding helicopter. We don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.

Of course, there are some time-honored action movie clich├ęs we all know and love (besides the fruit-cart chase and the exploding heli), such as the wacky taxi driver, the warehouse fights, etc. Of course, to viewers of Ong-Bak (2003), the whole structure will seem very familiar: Tony Jaa goes to a new and unfamiliar city in search of something important to his culture, and has to fight a ton of people in the process. Rather than criticize this, we applaud it. So many action movies have overly-complicated plots that don’t serve the movie well. The Protector and Ong-Bak have nice, simple plots that clear the way and leave enough room for Tony Jaa to do his thing. No fuss, no muss. Finally.

Sure, there is some shooting and a few blow-ups, but, thankfully, the talent of Mr. Jaa is given an excellent platform here. He really shines as he fights not just the “cannon fodder” type of goon but also other fighters with various levels of expertise: some of his opponents are simply labeled “Capoeira Fighter” (Crowder) and “Wushu Fighter” (Foo). Of course, he also has to take on a small gang of meatheads, but he has a secret weapon up his sleeve…

We can see all the countless hours of blood, sweat and tears that went into making this movie, and it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. For a top Martial Arts viewing experience, we heartily recommend The Protector. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty