By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic
Published September 21, 2006
Stupid, yes, but funny too
Two years passed before I got around to watching Jackass: The Movie under mild protest that lasted about 30 seconds. The first sight of Johnny Knoxville's masochistic gang in a giant shopping cart, recklessly rolling downhill through exploded debris with Carl Orff's O Fortuna blaring, replaced distaste with choking laughter. If these lunatics wish to risk their lives, limbs and orifices for entertainment, I'll watch, if not grieve.
The crew healed enough to make Jackass: Number Two (R), and lack of numerals in a sequel title has never been more appropriate. Not using a cruder scatological term is probably the only restraint Knoxville would allow. Becoming a middling movie star (Dukes of Hazzard, The Ringer) hasn't tamed his degenerate spirit or willingness to perform disgusting and dangerous acts. And he found eight other guys just like him.
Preview trailers promise more shock effect stunts that involve wildlife attacks, rocket propulsion and a man whose tooth is pulled with a cord attached to a speeding car.
- STEVE PERSALL, Times film critic
Jet takes off with a roar
Chinese superstar Jet Li insists Fearless (PG-13) is his final martial arts movie. Maybe he senses dynamic upstart Tony Jaa (The Protector) breathing down his neck. Jet is going out with style in an epic biography of martial arts master Huo Yuanjia, legendary founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation in the 19th century.
Huo was a brutal fighter who killed an opponent and went into self-exile. Years of working in rice paddies taught him lessons in humility and harmony that he blended into martial arts training. It sounds like a meatier role than Jet usually tackles (Unleashed, The One), as he sets up the next stage of his movie career.
Fearless marks a return to Chinese action cinema for director Ronny Yu, who spent the past decade not impressing U.S. audiences with Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs. Jason and The 51st State, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Their friendship drew Jackson to Snakes on a Plane when Yu was originally hired to direct. Then Yu dropped out, choosing Fearless over foolish. Jackson didn't.
Gore fest is going, going . . .
Here's a novel marketing scheme: Dimension Films is releasing the gore flick Feast (R) with only late-night showings Friday and Saturday at selected theaters, followed by a DVD release Oct. 17.
Feast is essentially using theaters to advertise its home video sales and rentals, saving money on the theatrical side to make more in stores.
That appears to be the only original idea at work here. I sat through 45 minutes of Feast before tiring of director John Gulager's viscera, a premise borrowed from George Romero (people trapped in a single locale by flesh eaters) and a strobe-action style stolen from 28 Days Later. This time the killing place is a seedy bar, with human entrees lined up like shot glasses while gooey creatures try breaking in.
Feast has some familiar faces among the potential victims - introduced with funny biographical freeze frames - and a few were still alive when I left. Punk poet Henry Rollins plays a motivational speaker, and Jason Mewes ("Jay" of Jay and Silent Bob) plays himself. Gulager's father Clu Gulager plays the bartender, offering an inside joke about his role as Billy the Kid in the '60s TV series The Tall Man that most of this film's audience won't understand. They'll get the decapitations, though.
Feast is the third movie from the Project Greenlight program begun in 2000 by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to inspire young independent filmmakers. This may be the last, due to low ratings and the unspoken message that creativity means doing what other hacks have done with fake blood.