In what is sure to be noted as one of 2019’s greatest upsets, here’s another entry on my Top 50 Sports Movies Of All Time and it’s actually coming out WITHIN A YEAR OF THE PREVIOUS ONE!! I was hoping for two weeks and it’s been more like four, but baby steps folks, baby steps.
I’m going to plead an actual valid excuse for tardiness this time as I spent a good chunk of the last week of March in Dallas watching my daughter Mylie and her Midland Warriors teammates participate in the ACHA D1 Women’s Hockey Nationals in Dallas. They qualified for nationals by upsetting the Colorado Buffaloes – yes, THOSE dog-ass, no good, pit-sniffing, jackwagon Colorado Buffaloes – in double OT at their conference tourney in Las Vegas earlier in March.
So, anyway, that Colorado connection is my excuse for shamelessly posting a few of her hockey pics! (And check her out with Vegas Golden Knights mascot, Bark-Andre Furry!)
Nepotism out of the way, let’s get on with it. For a brief explanation on how this works, scroll to the bottom, click on The Mighty Ducks review and check the first few paragraphs. As always we start with a non-Top 50 movie:
SO BAD IT’S GOOD
If this were a different kind of Top 50 list, Kickboxer would be on it. Jean Claude Van Damme is at his oiled up finest in this story of younger brother follows karate champion older brother to Thailand, watches older brother get maimed and paralyzed in Muy Thai fight by a giant dude who kicks cracks in cement pillars with his shins as a warm-up then dumped on the sidewalk afterward, goes wandering into the Thai jungle to find a Thai Mr. Miyagi to train him for a revenge match, hooks up with Thai Myagi’s daughter and whips the giant guy’s ass in what looks like a cave with stone bleachers.
Got it? Good.
There’s a treasure trove of comedy here. The older brother is played by former kickboxing heavyweight champ Dennis Alexio who was fairly dominant at kickboxing (his IMDB page shows his career record as 70-2 with 65 KO’s). He may look like a Dance Fever reject with an afro mullet, but he wrecked fools like Mike Tyson when kickboxing was a thing on ESPN in the 80’s. And he must have wanted to act in the worst way, because he said “yes” to a pitch of:
“Your character will behave like an arrogant ass, get the living shit kicked out of him and then have his spine elbow-snapped by a non-Thai guy with borderline-offensive Asian makeup in front of huge crowd in the movie’s first 10 minutes. Then he’ll spend the rest of the movie rolling around in wheelchair cheering on his little brother.”
“Beautiful. Where do I sign?”
In addition, Thai Miyagi’s training methods include getting JCVD stinking drunk and enraging the bar regulars into attacking him. The director also thought it would be romantic to add a scene where Tong Po, the fighter who paralyzed his older brother for no reason, kidnaps and rapes JCVD’s new girlfriend. You know, because breaking a guy’s spine didn’t make him enough of a villain!
And the best part? The guy who played Tong Po is named Michel Qissi and he’s from Morocco. He looks about as Asian as Chris Mullin, but that didn’t stop them from doing a make-up job that I’m pretty sure is the Asian equivalent of the Al Jolson treatment.
The big fight at the end involves them wrapping their hands in rope, dipping them in glue or resin or something and them rolling them in broken glass that sticks. And then slicing each other up with gut and face punches. Over the Top may be the world’s greatest arm wrestling flick, but there is no better way than that title to describe this trash – check it out for the 27th time on Cinemax 5.
#44 – The Replacements
Keanu Reeves is fearless. We know this because many leading men wouldn’t want to find themselves pigeonholed into roles as a former Ohio St. QB who had horrible things happen to him in a major bowl game. But Keanu knew he had the range to to further develop himself from former Ohio St. QB Johnny Utah who got his knee destroyed in the Rose Bowl and became an FBI agent in Point Break to...
The movie opens with Keanu splashing around scraping barnacles off boats for money in a scuba suit when he conveniently finds a metal football underwater and starts farting around with it to the opening music. We then jump to the announcement that the players in the pro league which is MOST DEFINITELY NOT THE NFL will be going on strike.
The NOT THE NFL decides to bring in scab players while the strike lasts and the Washington DC team owner wants to find a way to steal some wins and make the playoffs. He’s pretty crafty which is another way you know this is NOT THE NFL is because the NFL Washington owner does decidedly non-crafty things like lose money by hanging on to the Redskin name and constantly overpay past-their-prime stars.
Anyway, the crafty imaginary owner hires former coach Jimmy McGinty played by Gene Hackman to put together a sneaky good roster and say really deep things like, “Winners always want the ball when the game is on the line.” The owner says deep things like, “I’ve seen better monkey shit fights at the zoo.”
McGinty puts together his roster whose strength is easily-stereotyped characters: former Sugar Bowl failure Falco, an insane cop played by Jon Favreau, an inmate temporarily pardoned by who? (I think they said the governor but this is Washington DC and- never mind), a deaf tight end, two large, black intimidating bouncers with hearts of gold and guns, a stand-up comedian WR who can’t catch, a fat sumo wrestler and a skinny, Welsh kicker who smokes on the field.
Apparently, the cheerleaders have decided to show solidarity and strike with the players (openly snickering now), so naturally girl-next-door insanely cute Brooke Langton decides to recruit scab cheerleaders so we can have a montage of awful cheerleader tryouts. And then have a couple of strippers try out and offer to fill the squad with their buddies. (And I’m sorry, they can tell actual NFL cheerleaders from strippers...how? Give me the USC Song Girls any day of the week.)
Brooke Langton, by the way, along with with being a girl-next-door insanely cute head cheerleader for a NOT AN NFL team, is also an ESPN analyst level football expert and owns her own bar. She is right up there with Miss McGill from #45 Youngblood as a sports guy’s dream woman who simply doesn’t exist in real life. And if she did exist, she wouldn’t be mattress-snorkeling with a boat-scraping scab QB. Which she does with Keanu.
The Sentinels have to get practice going and since tensions will be high between the striking players and the scabs, there is naturally no press, law enforcement or security anywhere in sight when Keanu shows up at the stadium for practice. He pulls in, gets heckled by uber-douche Sentinels’ QB Eddie Martel who appears to be pushing 50 but is still an All-Pro or something.
Martel has his teammates flip Keanu’s beat-up truck on its side and instead of calling 911 and having them arrested for assault, vandalism, etc. and dealing some horrible PR to the strike effort, he just sets his alarm and heads in.
If I remember, the plan is to win three out of four games or something to make the playoffs. I’m just going to fly through some of the things to which we are treated over the next few weeks:
- An opening series marred by huddle fights, Keanu getting decked by a stray punch and the sumo wrestler blowing chunks after a Cool Hand Luke pre-game meal of about 20 lbs of hard-boiled eggs
- Lots of Keanu horrible passes, busted plays and scrambling
- Covering the WR’s hands in some stickum that looks more like watered-down Vaseline so he can snag a TD
- A NOT AN NFL record 65-yard FG by the chain-smoking Brit
- A bar brawl with the real Sentinels who show up at their pub with Eddie Martel saying more douchey things. The replacement players were just minding their own business with the actual players instigating the whole thing, so of course Keanu & company are all hauled off to jail so they can do a choreographed dance number to “I Will Survive”.
- The strippers start basically, well, sorta stripping and twerking in one game distracting the opposition and causing their coach to go full on Pelini wanting a flag for ass-shaking.
- Keanu shows up at bar closing to make his move on Brooke Langton. John Madden and Pat Summerall provide color commentary.
- The Washington fans turn on the pro players, embrace the replacements and start packing the stadium which has happened at no work stoppage ever. (I really fail to see why the NFL didn’t completely endorse this movie. This dumb storyline is an NFL owner’s fantasy.)
- Keanu and his pickup are attacked again. This time the twin bouncers/linemen show up in defense of their QB and shoot out the windows on Martel’s Porsche. Again, no law enforcement or security to be found despite the fact there has been a previous parking lot attack as well as the bar brawl which had to have been all over the news. However, it did lead to this absolutely glorious exchange after they got laughed at for saying they protect their quarterback:
“Sonofa-? Oh, sonofabitch. Oh, I’m sonofabitch? Sonofabitch???” This is what they call comedy gold. When I was a QB, it was Nebraska 8-man football, but I think I would have robbed multiple banks to constantly shower these guys with illegal gifts if they were my linemen. It sounds like I’m kidding. I’m really not
At the end of all of this, Washington has gone 2-1 with the scabs and needs to beat Dallas in their next game to clinch a playoff spot. (Remember - NOT THE NFL! This is NOT THE REDSKINS & COWBOYS!) This seems like a game-over situation since the entire Dallas team decides to cross the picket line and play. I could totally see Jerry Jones bribing his boys to make this happen. Fun trivia per IMDB: In the 1987 strike, Washington played a Cowboys squad whose entire team crossed the picket line and the Redskins replacement QB wore Shane Falco’s #16. Not that this movie is based on anything that actually happened in the NFL.
Well, in this show, Martel - who of course has been the leading voice and instigator of supporting everything strike-related and harassing the scabs non-stop?
Yep, he decides to cross the picket line. To play with guys he’s been verbally abusing, vandalizing and assaulting non-stop. With none of his teammates following suit. Against a team who’s crossing in their entirety. Call me cynical but I can’t help but think we just needed an excuse to put Martel in the locker room to get his comeuppance.
So the game starts and every snap results in a level of physical destruction to the Sentinels which should result in a Dallas having a halftime lead of around 52-0 and Washington unable to continue due to multiple injuries. However, halftime arrives and Washington trails only 17-0. Shockingly, Martel is doing loud, screamy, douchey things non-stop and at one point the deaf tight end has to be restrained from murdering him with his bare hands.
As Gene Hackman heads to the locker room for halftime, he sends Keanu a bat signal by tapping his heart and judging by the timeline, Keanu makes it from his dock to the locker room in about 6 minutes. The team decides a guy who has spent three games hitting teammates in the head with footballs, fumbling, throwing picks and calling audibles every time Hackman tries to set him up to toss game-winning passes and basically doing his best Joe Bauserman vs. the Huskers is the guy to lead them, not the 52-year-old Pro-Bowler whose only mental gear is to behave like a flaming asshole with a toothache.
Okay, maybe this one was a push.
It gets gloriously predictable after that. Keanu turns into Steve Young throwing darts all over the field, scrambling like Eric Crouch and even running a fake FG of which the rest of the team is unaware for a 42-yard TD run to save the kicker’s pub (don’t ask). After that TD is called back for holding, he drills the deaf TE in the end zone for the winning score.
By the way, it’s an end zone that has nary a Dallas DB in it despite the fact it’s the last play of the game and an obvious Hail Mary situation. Doesn’t matter. The magic of Keanu completely flummoxes the Dallas defense into abandoning an 8-deep prevent for medium man coverage at the 47. No matter, Sentinels win.
Quick question before we get to the ratings - in what universe would the replacement players who, as previously established, have been ridiculed, vandalized and assaulted by these guys want to get them into the playoffs so they can get all sorts of contract bonuses and extra game checks?
This universe. Let’s get to it.
Quality of Sports Scenes: Minuses: Oh boy, these guys make replacement players look like the Patriots. If an all-star team of the players in this movie took on Burt Reynolds’ crew from The Longest Yard, it would look like 1983 Nebraska-Minnesota. Plusses: The aerial shots of kickoffs and field goals, Madden-Summerall and, shockingly? Keanu. He is very believable as a QB.
Score: **1/2 Solich+
Music: Rock N Roll Part 2, Unbelievable, Every Breath You Take, Blinded By Rainbows, We Will Rock You, many others and my personal favorite, Ride by the woefully underrrated Amanda Marshall. Every football game is a music video. 1⁄2 point deduction for the whole I Will Survive thing.
Score: ****1/2 Devaney
The Bad Guy: Brett Cullen as Eddie Martel is definitely an Oscar nominee in this category. Talks tough backed by his huge buddies, orders repeated pickup flipping, snarky verbal abuse to Keanu at every opportunity, brawl-inciting - this is a fine performance. Special bonus for screaming at a deaf teammate.
Score: ****1/2 Devaney
Note: I forgot to give out a Bad Guy rating in the Youngblood review. That’s a no-brainer - Racki, my friend - for cheap shots, fighting guys you outweigh by 73 lbs, ending the career of a future #1 NHL draft pick, stick fighting and “Wanna go, pretty boy?” - here you go:
Score: ***** Osborne
Love Interest: Brooke Langton is a NOT AN NFL cheerleader who’s cute like a college cheerleader, she’s a sports nut, owns a bar and would rather date a mumbling, boat-scraping scab than a 48-year-old Pro Bowler. She doesn’t exist and we love her.
Score: ***** Osborne
Adrenalin/Goosebump Scenes: It’s all fun, games and music videos for most of the football action, but I’ll admit to some chills when Keanu hits Brian, the deaf tight end, with the winning bomb and they celebrate to a cover of David Bowie’s Heroes.
Score: ** 1⁄2 Solich
Comedy: This is definitely a sports comedy. Most of it is covered above but along with the O-Line bodyguards, I did extremely enjoy the kicker, Nigel Gruff. There was just something hilarious about a guy built like a 6’1” Shawn Bradley strutting around smart-assing everyone in sight with a Cockney accent.
Score: **** Devaney
Unintentional Comedy: When Keanu is involved, this category will always score high. There’s underwater football playing, I Will Survive dancing, the whole quicksand speech when they’re talking about their fears, “Gentlemen, it’s been an honor to serve on the field of battle with you,” and the going in for the kiss scene while Every Breath You Take plays and Madden and Summerall do play by play. Oh yeah - the entire premise that the fans like the scab team more than the real team and start selling out the games.
Score: **** Devaney
The Training Montage: This is a little unfair because I really like the song Ride and that’s what’s playing in the closest scene to a training montage. I’m probably overscoring it, but-
Score: *** Pelini
Rewatchability: Very solid here. There’s either a game or a funny scene going on at almost all times. Serious plot points are dealt with quickly and if it pops up while channel surfing, it’s easy to jump into this show anywhere.
Score: **** Devaney
Overall: If you’re one of those people who takes their sports movies very seriously and the silly things above that crack me up get your panties in a wad, this show probably isn’t on your list. For me, any movie that has egg-vomiting in the huddle, elbow-deep stickum with attached jokes about jerking off elephants, “Oh, I’m sonofabitch??”, strippers distracting the opposition and Jon Favreau losing his mind? That’s not a movie pretending to be something it’s not.
Score: **** Devaney
#50 - THE MIGHTY DUCKS
#49 - AMERICAN FLYERS
#48 - WIND
#47 - THE NATURAL
#46 - BLOODSPORT
#45 - YOUNGBLOOD