Feb. 14, 2013 | 4:47 p.m.
By late 2011, Jai Courtney had given up on trying to take Hollywood by storm and simply wanted to go home. The brawny Aussie actor had absented himself from the Land Down Under for nearly half a year to hustle work in the Northern Hemisphere, spending 3½ months in Pittsburgh to portray an evil mercenary in the romper-stomper Tom Cruise action flick “Jack Reacher.” Less than 24 hours after Courtney auditioned for his most high-profile role to date — costarring in the new installment of the blockbuster “Die Hard” film franchise, “ A Good Day to Die Hard” — his mind was not on his next job. It was on boarding his flight at LAX. “I was not going to gamble on this — I had been away so long,” Courtney, 26, recalled. “I went to the airport and was […]
Feb. 02, 2013 | 9:15 a.m.
Amid the narrowing concentric circles of corruption, murder and big city racketeering featured in the shoot-’em-up action caper “Bullet to the Head,” which arrived in theaters Friday, British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s character, crime kingpin Robert Nkomo Morel, occupies the center ring. He’s the movie’s heavy: a smooth-talking, African-born arch manipulator, all wide smiles, tailored tuxedos and silken menace with an outsize physicality that can recall Geoffrey Holder’s James Bond nemesis in “Live and Let Die.” But in “Bullet,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje comes up against the immovable force of Sylvester Stallone, portraying old-school hit man for hire James “Jimmy Bobo” Bonamo; he’s hellbent on taking an eye for an eye when his partner is murdered after carrying out a mob hit. GRAPHIC: ’80s action heroes reload A son of Nigerian immigrants who earned a law degree from King’s College in London, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is […]
Jan. 31, 2013 | 6:41 p.m.
In the shoot’em-up action thriller “Bullet to the Head,” which reaches theaters Friday, Sylvester Stallone portrays Jimmy “Bobo” Bonomo, a New Orleans hit man with a perma-scowl, Technicolor sleeve tattoos and an unshakable live-and-let-die moral code. When his murder-for-hire wingman is whacked after a job – part of a setup by the guys who hired them – Bobo enters into a reluctant partnership of convenience with by-the-book police Det. Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of “Fast Five” and “Live Free or Die Hard” fame) to button-hole the responsible parties – and exact no small amount of gritty street justice in the process. The odd couple’s odyssey across the Crescent City underworld comes locked and loaded with explosive set pieces: a bloody parking garage shoot-out, a honky-tonk knife fight, an exploding bayou ambush and a climactic ax fight scene between Stallone and a […]
Jan. 18, 2013 | 4:34 p.m.
To reprise the character of Xerxes, the nefarious 9-foot tall antagonist he portrays in director Zack Snyder’s breakthrough swords and sandals blockbuster “300,” for the highly anticipated August spinoff “300: Rise of an Empire,” Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro learned the true meaning of no pain, no gain. The role demanded that Santoro rebuild the same rippling musculature he shows off to impressive effect in the 2006 historical thriller (based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller) – a truly Herculean effort that involved three months of grueling gym workouts to build biceps and add bulk to Santoro’s slight surfer’s frame. “It was intense,” the actor said during an interview to promote his turn in the new Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle “The Last Stand,” directed by revered South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon. “It was a very specific physique that character has. […]
Jan. 16, 2013 | 4:45 p.m.
On the set of the shoot-’em-up thriller “The Last Stand,” South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon and Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered from what we shall term a certain failure to communicate. They literally could not speak each other’s language, relying on translators to trade ideas thanks to Kim’s negligible English and Schwarzenegger’s heavy Teutonic accent. Nonetheless, according to Kim, the inability to find common parlance with one’s star — or any cast member, for that matter — was hardly a stumbling block. Over lunch in Hollywood, the director went so far as to extend an inspirational message to other international moviemakers deficient in English-speaking skills. “Overseas directors who want to work in Hollywood, the language barrier is not a problem,” Kim said through a translator. “With the right talent, any director can be successful.” In his case, that talent pool includes none […]
Dec. 03, 2012 | 8:00 a.m.
When screenwriter-producer Chris Morgan met with Arnold Schwarzenegger this fall to pitch him a proposed sequel to “Conan the Barbarian,” the Governator required convincing on one matter above all others – and it had nothing to do with wearing a furry codpiece. At a time when Schwarzenegger, 65, is attempting to reclaim his throne in Hollywood after years stalking Sacramento’s corridors of power, why should he return to Conan? Why should he follow in his own footsteps to the pre-“Terminator” role that shot him to stardom? “To put yourself out there in your 60s? As Conan the Barbarian? I could see why he’d hesitate,” Morgan said. “You’re really putting yourself out there.” In the end, though, Morgan – whose screenwriting credits include the last four “Fast & the Furious” sequels and the hit 2008 Angelina Jolie thriller “Wanted” – convinced […]
Nov. 01, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.
Call it a case of life imitating martial arts. On the Shanghai set of the kung fu saga “The Man With the Iron Fists” last year, muscle-bound pro wrestler David Bautista and tae kwon do expert Rick Yune had come to loggerheads over how to best enact a fight sequence. The actors, portraying mortal enemies, seemed about ready to trade ax-hand strikes. Only one person could steer the action back toward the peace path: the movie’s writer, director and costar known as RZA, a hip-hop renaissance man who was the musical brains behind the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling rap collective Wu-Tang Clan. No stranger to transforming chaos into chi energy, RZA (government name: Robert Diggs) regaled Yune and Bautista with stories about his nine-man hip-hop crew’s legendary infighting. “I used some of the Wu-Tang stories to defuse situations,” RZA recalls. “I told […]
Oct. 26, 2012 | 3:19 p.m.
Before he was the Terminator, he was Conan the Barbarian. Now, some 30 years after his screen breakthrough in “Conan the Barbarian,” the former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to a new movie project that would see him reclaim his warrior’s throne. Universal confirmed today that it is moving forward on “The Legend of Conan,” as the new movie will be titled (with a planned release in 2014). The project arrives as the latest splashy star vehicle for the Governator, who inhabits a small part in two “Expendables” films, will be next seen as a small-town sheriff battling a drug cartel in “The Last Stand,” set for release early next year, and is currently filming “Ten,” a David Ayer-directed thriller in which he portrays a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Created in the 1930s by pulp author Robert […]
Oct. 25, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.
In director Luis Prieto’s experience, when you set out to shoot a druggy crime drama in London’s legendarily cocaine-fueled nightclub world, odds are you’re going to find yourself surrounded by more than a few people sniffing actual Bolivian marching powder — not just lines of prop coke for the camera’s sake. He made that discovery while filming “Pusher,” an English-language remake of 1996’s Danish gangster smash of the same name directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the Scandinavian auteur behind “Drive,” last year’s critically hailed, Ryan Gosling-starring noir-thriller. In “Pusher,” which arrives in theaters Friday, Brit actor Richard Coyle portrays Frank, a mid-level dope dealer who’s uprooted from his comfortable existence of booze, strippers and key bumps after botching a major score. The character must raise 55,000 pounds tout de suite to repay a drug debt or find himself in the […]
Jan. 16, 2011 | 8:50 a.m.
Judging from the belly laughs at theaters, it’s one of the funniest scenes in the action-comedy “The Green Hornet”: Newly empowered as masked crusaders, party-boy media scion Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) and his trusty manservant Kato (Taiwanese pop star and action-movie heartthrob Jay Chou) head out into Los Angeles to battle the bad guys. As their Chrysler Imperial lurches into traffic, Kato drops the needle on a turntable in the backseat. And Reid begins to rap along to Coolio’s R&B tinged 1995 criminal anthem “Gangsta’s Paradise.” With its maudlin take on urban nihilism and mellifluous hook (courtesy of the singer L.V.), the song assumes buffoonish overtones with its new context — a pump-up theme for superheroes on their work commute. “Hornet’s” distributor Columbia Pictures saw the song’s marketing potential, making it a cornerstone of one of its TV spots for the film. But to […]