Saturday, November 08, 2008

They call him BRUCE!

trailer | MNIB @Bruce Campbell's site
B-movie greatness and a ton of fun for fans of BC's work! =)
Gotta warn you, I can tell this one is gonna be way more ramble than review...

I caught the late show of Bruce Campbell's THEY CALL ME BRUCE at Kendall Square with eight suckers—whoops—friends, that is, and it is great frickin fun! Granted, I hafta admit that the post-show question-and-abuse session was more laughs-per-second than the film itself, but that's not a bad thing, and testimonial to the entertainment value of the man. Just goes to show that most directors don't know how to take full advantage of his gifts. Alas, apparently even himself! (He directs and stars in BRUCE =)

I kid, I kid. Well, somewhat. Bruce *IS* awesomely entertaining in person, and the film is a lot of comic action horror fun to watch. One night in the once-not-as-crappy mining town of Gold Lick, a double date of hormonal gothy teens vandalizing a cemetery accidentally release Quan-Di, a Chinese demon who seeks revenge for the spirits of the impressed workers who died in the mines in the 19th century. Of course! Jeff, the kid who unleashed the demon, happens to be a huge fanboy of the Bruce's monster-beating work, and, recognizing Quan-Di for the supernatural menace that he is, concocts a plan to bring Bruce to Gold Lick to destroy the demon and save their town. Wacky, Brucetastic, fun ensues. We get it all. That special brand of charm, romance, chivalry, heroics, horroriffic dismemberments, and what great Campbell flick would be complete without some wee Bruce action? It's a rollicking and campy follow-thru on a pretty simple and clever classic storyline that you can trace back to SEVEN SAMURAI.

I've always wanted to put together a "SEVEN SAMURAI and sons" marathon film feast, and now definitely hafta add this film as the warm chocolate cake a la mode dessert. SAMURAI establishes the plot and theme—a poor community is under attack from some Big Bad and reaches out to an unlikely hero or group of heroes for help. These heroes are not so heroic by nature—and can include drunks, criminals, and outlaws with dirty secrets in their past, also, Robert Vaughn (he shows up as the same guy in two of the movies below)—and may regard these poor cowards as pitiful and worthless at first, but ultimately they discover reasons for agreeing to help them. As they prepare to battle the Big Bad they come to know the people they've agreed to protect. They laugh, they love, they grab ass, and they learn... You know how it goes. There's usually a young punk of a rebel among the townspeople who looks up to the heroes and wants to fight with them, become one of them. Typically when the heroes first face the Big Bad, they let the community down, but after a crisis moment or confrontation, they rally and bring it. You'll see this basic plot unfold in all of the following...


You can trace an evolution in genres and level of self-consciousness thru the films as well...

In SAMURAI, the community is a poor village of farmers, the Big Bad are roving bandits who steal their food and occupy their homes, and the heroes are a rag-tag bunch of "rogue" samurai, and one young unknown, who is more a wanna-be than a true fighter.

In MAGNIFICENT, a pretty perfect and remarkable one-to-one adaptation of the original samurai tale into spaghetti western, the community is again a poor village, and the western style Big Bad are a band of banditos. The heroes are a rag-tag bunch of gunfighters with mixed reps, along with a similar young unknown. Has a helluva cast, including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn, who will surprise you in their faithfulness to their samurai counterparts in performances, characters, and even appearance. Remarkable stuff.

In BATTLE, the samurai are recast in outer space. The community is a poor planet on the edge of the frontier, the sci-fi Big Bad are a fleet of space baddies, looking to take the planet over (I forget why, for what resources), and the heroes are a rag-tag bunch of ex-soldiers and mercenaries. From what I can remember, it stars THE WALTONS's John Boy, BUCK ROGERS's Princess Ardala, Robert Vaughn, and a spaceship with a rack.

In the THREE AMIGOS—you all know this one, right?—we backpedal to SEVEN SAMURAI, but instead of reaching out to genuine gunfighters, the poor villagers contact three actors who play gunfighting heroes, and adapt the story for comedy.

And ultimately, in BRUCE, the community is the dying mining town of Gold Lick. The supernatural Big Bad is Quan-Di, a vengeful Chinese demon who protects the spirits of the 19th century workers who died in a mine collapse. Also, he is the patron demon of tofu. And the hero, of course, man enough to, all on his own, take on the action, romance, and comedy of any seven samurai, gunfighters, or space mercs, and certainly any three amigos, is Bruce Campbell, a (slightly) surlier and less successful version of the man himself.

Although the film could've used a bit of editing—I'd knock out a couple of slow and superfluous bits and add (or restore) a scene where the fanboy explains to Bruce how he originally accidentally released the demon—it's pretty damn satisfying fans of the man's oeuvre. Being a fan since I saw EVIL DEAD 2 back in high school, I can't honestly comment on the non-fan/newbie experience. On top of the wonderful unapologetic Bruce-ness of it all, the dialogue offers some fun self-deprecating jabs at his real life career and more than a few referential bits that only fans will appreciate. In post-screening discussion with my friends outside the theater, everyone only had great things to see about Bruce's post-show appearance, and we never moved on to anything resembling critical words about the film itself. Altho, we did mention the unnecessary wrongness at having Ted Raimi play an over-the-top descendant of the Chinese miners. Perhaps the Italians(?) in the audience weren't so pleased with his mysteriously ethnic sign painter?

Gotta say, watching both Bruce and his fanboy put movie-Bruce Campbell moves on the ladies is frickin hilarious. =)

In the Q&A, even after watching him verbally dismember just about every questioner, I wanted to get a question in about what he thought of his profiting from the exploitation of wrist violence in his films (tonight's featured a racy example as well =). Alas, he took his final three Qs without picking me. While my friends and I were huddled in discussion in front of the theater after the show, Bruce and lovely and talented co-star Grace Thorsen, apparently exited and walked right by us. Half of my little posse saw him, BUT DIDN'T THINK TO MENTION IT TO ME! WTF?!


Well, I'm planning on hitting the late show again Saturday/tonight. Maybe I'll get a chance have him slap me around then. =)

See? I warned you about the rambling potential... Allright, it's crash time.

As of tonight, there were still tickets available for Saturday's shows...
Here's Grace and Bruce leaving the room at the end of the evening...

Keep on groovin on~

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