Friday, June 11, 2010

Born American (1986)

Born American is a strange little movie. It's a Finnish action movie with Mike Norris (yes, the son of "actor" Chuck Norris) and directed by Renny Harlin. It was his first movie too, and it's probably one of his weakest too. No mistunderstandings here, I actually like Harlin a lot - even those movies that people call crap - and think he's an excellent popcorn-director. Nothing deep or thought-provocing in his work, but often very solid shallow and fun entertainment.

This movie was three weak things, and first being a trio of the most unlikable characters every to be written. I guess the meaning is that you should root for them, suffer with them and so on... but honestly, they behave so fucking stupid (I won't even bother to explain all the idiotic things they do, and think they will get away with) that it just feels kinda good to see them suffer. It could be the meaning, but when they'er acting like super-macho-american-action-machines, killing evil evil evil evil Russians everywhere, it's hard to see the irony or satire.

So, the second thing? Well, it's suppose to be an action movie I guess? But for being an action movie it really lacks action. Most of it is just a couple of whiny Americans crying prison and some scenes with really evil evil evil evil Russians doing evil evil evil evil things. Thank god (he don't exist, but it's just an expression anyway) we're treated to two action scenes which both are quite good. The first is a showstopper at a small Russian village with a lot of explosions, and the other is when they break out of prison in the end. Good eighties stuff, mucho slow-mo and explosions. Me like.

The third thing is the most pointless thing EVER to be written into a movie. The chess. It's a lot of talk about the human chess play, and we even get to see some short sequences from this cool gladiator game (the Italians would have created a whole movie around that concept) and everything, and I mean everything, makes us believe that this is something important and that there will be some fights there. But... nada. Nothing. It's just left there, somewhere in the end with not one single chess-fight. That's the most wasted opportunity in the history of b-action movie cinema. It could have been an excellent opportunity for a couple of juicy bloody kickboxing-scenes. But nothing.

On the other side, the two action scenes that are is very nice and good. The movie looks great and mixes the Hollywood-style with a moody European way of filmmaking. Effects, sets and everything else looks amazing. For us action-aficinados it's also very interesting to see Mats Helge Olsson in a small part as a priest in the beginning of the movie. For you who don't know how that is, he was the director of (among a few others) The Ninja Mission and Blood Tracks. He claimed to have made hundreds movie movies, but in reality it was maybe 14-15 and a few movies that never went further than testfootage or teaser-trailers. The rumour says he worked with the pyrotechnics on Born American, but he's not credited neither as an actor or somethings else - just a "Special thanks".

Born American don't have that much good stuff to offer, but those few details that work, works very well. But this movie also allowed Renny Harlin to move to Hollywood and make better and more entertaining things.

Really. And I'm serious about that.

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