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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movies from a Cyberpunk Gamers Perspective

Ok folks, since losing my job I have been watching a lot of Netflix lately...

Now for some reason I have a strange addiction to 70's exploitation flicks, and I have watched every thing from the awesome (The Monkey Hustle, Bucktown, Sugarhill) to the abominably awful (Bamboo Gods and Iron Men, Switchblade sisters) and everything in between.  And that's just the Blaxploitation flicks, don't get me started on all the godawful motorcycle gang movies of the 50's, and 60's... christ I am convinced that they all suck... they all seemed to be a cross between Billy Jack ham fisted social commentary and beach blanket bingo... where at least once in every movie the tough as nails bikers do the twist with bikini girls to god awful music... how did bikers ever get the reputation as tough guys I will never know... but its important that you know that these are the majority of flicks I have been watching, so you know where my mind is at...

Now, I haven't been wasting all my time in the past, I have also been watching as many near future and post apocalypse movies as I can.  Or at least as I can stomach... now some of these are ones I overlooked for whatever reason back in the day at the video store, but others are newer films that completely slipped under my radar.

Its those newer flicks that I will be focusing on here.

HARDWIRED

I want to start with the one freshest in mind, a little cyberpunk flick I had never heard of called Hardwired.  Now, I am a fan of low budget films, especially in the cyberpunk genre.  Hell for my money the best cyberpunk flicks ever made were done on tiny tiny budgets.  Things like Hardware, the first Nemesis, Split Second, etc... So if you don't like those films, you definitely won't like Hardwired.  Hardwired stars Cuba Gooding Junior, who actually does surprisingly well in an action role.  He isn't the best action star in the world, but he doesn't embarrass himself either, at least not here.  It also stars Val Kilmer, who was probably my first man crush... who does embarrass himself here.  It also stars a staple of half the cyberpunk films ever made, at least the good ones, Micheal Ironsides... which always validates the movie for me. 

Now the plot is kind of nonsensical, a corporation is testing out a new implant on people without their consent, the implant is keyed into their optical and auditory nerves to force them to hallucinate commercials.  It doesn't seem to have any benefit, but hey, evil corporation doing evil things.  Cuba plays a guy, a former special forces guy, who loses his memory in a car accident, and gets one of these doohickeys implanted in his brain... and spends the rest of the movie trying to hunt down the corporation that did this to him.  Like I said, its a pretty ridiculous premise...

But the movie is not without merit.  I see this a lot in films of the genre, but in this one its really evident... they almost had a brilliant movie, they were so close to something magnificent that you can almost taste it, if it weren't for the overwhelming flavor of warm runny licorice shit the plot leaves on your palate... like drinkjng Jaegermeister.  But beneath the plot, there is great stuff here.  The hackers are pure fucking awesome, at least in the manner in which they work.  The manner in which the hackers use the implant to relay information is awesome.  The cityscapes full of advertising are kinda cool too, although a little understated for the message they are trying to send, Idiocracy did it better, but it was a nice touch.  Ironsides displays a sentimental side you rarely see from him, and its kind of nice.  Cuba was good in the role, though every time he went to a blank stare when information was being displayed to him via the implant I couldn't help but think of his performance in Radio.  Val, unfortunately, just kind of phoned it in, and did so with hair that would make Nic Cage say "what the fuck?". 

All in all it was pretty good, a fun little flick, I wouldn't recomend watching it to most, but if you are a Cyberpunk gamer, you will get some great inspiration from it.  Oh, and in a still frqame at the end, possibly trying to set up for a sequel, the give you a shot of another Cyberpunk Staple, Lance Henrickson... which was nice.  They were definitely catering to fans of the genre from the 80's.  Not many of us left you know, so cool.

SHANK

An absolute gem of a cyberpunk flick.  I would best describe it as a British remake of the Warriors.  The world itself is remarkably similiar to that in District B-12, and if you are a fan of the atmosphere from that film, you will love this flick.  There are no actors I recognized in this flick, but it was directed by the same guy who did Kidadulthood, which it makes frequent reference too in the form on movie posters on the walls.  In a shitty near future world, food is the scarce commodity, and the streets are overrun with youth gangs.  The movie follows the exploits of Junior and his gang, as they set off across London to track down the gang that killed his brother.  Along the way they encounter other gangs, which definitely gave me a Warriors vibe. 

The gangs and characters are all pretty unique, and definitely stylish.  The world the movie creates is rich and interesting.  The director takes some wierd comedic liberties, but they kind of work... the dog fighting scene, where you don't actually see the dogs fighting, but instead watch the onlookers faces while health bars straight out of a fighting video game drop down, or the animated dream sequence... it works well.  When you do see violence, it is pretty bloody brutal.  Unfortunately most of the fight scenes, of which there are disappointingly few, overuse the whole shaky cam nonsense to the point where you can't ever tell whats going on.  But thats the only complaint I had. 

Overall Shank was a great flick, and i definitely recommend it, especially if you are running a gang based Cyberpunk type game.  Tons of inspiration here.  And watch for Whisper, if you don't feel the urge to have him appear as an NPC in your game, you are dead inside.

NATURAL CITY
I also got to re-watch Natural City. Commonly advertised as the Korean Bladerunner.  If you haven't seen this film, you are only hurting yourself, and the souls of your ancestors weep for you.  It is positively fucking brilliant.  All the deep philosophical issues raised by Bladerunner, plus all the action and violence of ... well of a Korean action flick...  It is flawlessly executed, and highly visually stimulating.  Seriously, see this movie, I cannot recommend it enough.    But I am not going to go into detail on it, because I have vague recollections of doing that already a while ago.

DEAD END DRIVE-IN
Now this is an oldie, but I had never gotten the chance to see it.  Hell I hadn't even heard of it until recently.  An Australian movie from the 80's, it is kind of a weird little movie, but it offers a great look into a combat zone... albeit a small one.  Hooligans who visit the drive in have their vehicle disabled, locking them inside the drive-in walls, which serves as a makeshift prison for juvenile delinquents.  Unlucky movie fans aren;t the only ones who get locked in here, the police also shuttle in illegal immigrants, along with junk heap cars for them to live in, which causes one of the major plot conflicts, and touches on the evils of racism in an interesting way. 

I am not gonna lie, the premise is pretty thin, but that's never stopped a movie from being enjoyable before.  And this movie is pretty darn entertaining.  For a budget that must have been miniscule, they make every penny go as far as they can, and like any decent Australian flick from the 70's and 80's, they manage to throw in a fantastic car chase and an amazing car jump.

I definitely recommend this as a popcorn flick to watch with your mates, adding some booze to the mix won't hurt it either.

I still have some cyberpunk flicks that somehow slipped under my radar, or ones I have put off watching for years because they looked so bad that I couldn't justify spending the money to drive them back to the video store, much less for the dollar rental fee... But I have Netflix now, and plenty of time, so I am finally getting around to watching this crap...

Oh, speaking of crap... I watched one I wasn't going to mention, but I must, both as a warning, and to share with you what at one time was the most hilarious, and most disturbing bit of dialogue ever to be uttered on film... The movie is called Prototype X-29A... and it is fucking awful, by anyone's standards.  The body suit for the Prototype X-29 is kinda cool, except for the stupid helmet, but the move itself is just plain garbage.  However, one of the main characters is a prostitute, and this sets us up for the greatest worst line in cinematic history.  The prostitute finishes giving a client the sloppy pocket on what looks like a loading dock surrounded by his gang.  As she jumps immediately up to put her clothes on, the client stands, demanding that the prostitute also service his main man "Action"... She responds by telling him first he has to pay, and he has to wear a rubber.  The client, in a scene of inspired madness that will leave your skin crawling and will become an inside joke to share with all the friends you force to watch this movie is:

 "Hey Action! You can use my SKIN!"

This is accompanied by the "just above the waist" imagery of him pulling the tip of the used condom he is still wearing, stretching it out until it pops off his member complete with a wet, sticky, SCHLICK sound!

I had to watch that, and now I am compelled to share it with all of you, you are welcome...

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