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Kino Korner November 27, 2002
The Bung-Ality of Evil
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 2 of 4
Red Dragon is really a remake of Michael Mann's 80's sleeper Manhunter falsely billed as a fresh Silence of the Lambs prequel. They market it this way to mask the fact that it's a remake of a pretty recent and pretty good movie. Prequels are generally a lame idea and have never worked. The only good prequel I can recall seeing is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and even that is the second-worst movie Lynch ever made after Wild At Heart (though Fire Walk works pretty well if you're high on horse).

The problem is that Red Dragon isn't even bad. It's just bland. It's not scary, yet it's not entirely infuriating. It just feels like you're fifty-five years old and it's about 8:45 pm and you've finished an unsatisfying dinner and there's nothing interesting on TV and you're flipping around the channels waiting to fall asleep, though it's too early. If you understand what I mean by that, then you'll understand how you'll feel during and after Red Dragon.

RATING: Nothing at all. The one US flag it earns for good marketing gets canceled out by the one Bin Laden it earns for sucking. No stalker icon since the director Brett Ratner has never pretended he isn't a shallow corporate shill. If you're married, see this movie -- it will feel like married life. If you're not, then get yourself a whore and pop in Cabin Boy. That movie's far more authentically creepy than the whole Silence trilogy combined.



The first time I saw The Killers was at some film festival about ten years ago in San Francisco's Mission District. I thought that the art fags were lying when they promised thousands of point-blank murders. In fact, the art fags understated the sheer gore-porn rush that The Killers unleashed on its viewers: gooks with handguns blowing the fuck out of each other while flying in the air and bouncing off the walls. It was kung fu with lead and goddamn was it good.

I have been loyal to director John Woo ever since. I could often be heard pronouncing his name in imitation of that grainy voiceover that Hollywood uses for its movie ads: "Joooohn Woo" or "Internationally acclaimed director Jooooohn Woo presents..."

I know it's a cliche, but the sad fact is that Hollywood ruined Woo. He never shoulda left Hong Kong and he definitely never ever should have hired non-Chinamen for his movies. Non-Chinamen just can't duck, spring and kill the way Chinamen can. Muscular white and black guys are no fun to watch in Woo flicks. They're too deliberate, too meaty and tough. When you see a Woo movie, you want to see thousands of identical-looking Chinamen getting plugged and smashing into glass tables, not lots of tall guys with ponytails and hairdos and fake angry sneers shooting at each other.

The only successful thing Woo has done since going Hollywood is the opening scene to Face/Off. But he fucked it up by switching the bad guy character from Nicolas Cage, who looked like he was having fun, to John Travolta, who should have died tragically after his triumphant resurrection in Pulp Fiction. Woo liked Cage too much to make him the evil guy -- in Cage he thought he found his American Chow Yun-Fat. But there's something too self-consciously clever and ironic about Cage to allow yourself to get transported into a neat-o cops/bad-guys shootup with Cage as the hero.

Windtalkers combines Woo's love of gore, Nicolas Cage and simplistic melodrama with a bad dose of Spielberg. Specifically, the Spielberg of Shaving Ryan's Privates. For any gore fiend still in touch with his 12-year-old-male self, the opening scene of Shaving Ryan is the Deep Throat of war gore. Woo saw it and wanted to copy parts of it. Hence his new World War Two entry, Windpassers. What Woo shares with Spielberg is the 12-year-old male fascination with simplistic good and evil, hardened heroes and, yes, gore. Where he differs however is that he isn't a raging NAMBLA pederast like Spielberg. Woo is a healthy heterosexual. Which is why he shouldn't be running around trying to imitate Spielberg.

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