I’m just guessing that Ned Beatty wouldn’t want his role as Otis, Lex Luthor’s bumbling sidekick, in Superman: The Movie to be the first thing mentioned when looking back at his career. (I’m imagining Alec Guinness rolling his eyes when he was immediately attached to Obi-Wan Kenobi by so many when he passed away.)
But maybe Beatty wouldn’t have minded either. Generations of fans remember him fondly in that film and it provided much needed comic relief among Christopher Reeve’s big blue boy scout and Gene Hackman’s megalomanical villain (who bullied poor Otis a bit too much). There are worse legacies for an actor to leave behind.
I’m not certain Jungleland is a sports movie, though it does take place in the world of underground bare-knuckle boxing. The story ultimately depends on the outcome of a sporting event, however. So it probably fits into that category.
Regardless, you might not guess that this was directed by Max Winkler, who’s mostly known for comedy work on TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Jungleland follows brothers Stan (Charlie Hunnam, FX‘s “Sons of Anarchy”) and Walter “Lion” Kaminski (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) as they pursue success in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. Lion was a promising Golden Gloves fighter, but any hopes of a professional career were ruined when Stan tried to bribe a referee.
Thanks to his recent acting performances in The Mandalorian and Jack Reacher, Werner Herzog has become something of a cultural meme. His dour expression, dry narration, and nihilistic philosophy makes for great parody when applied to absurdity.
But it can’t be forgotten that Herzog is still a fascinating, distinct filmmaker. His latest documentary, Nomad, is a powerful tribute to writer Bruce Chatwin, whose work and approach to life Herzog admired.
My Spy wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Dave Bautista carrying the entire venture on his formidably muscled shoulders. Any doubters who dismissed Bautista as another pro wrestler trying to be a movie star like Dwayne Johnson were likely silenced by the comic timing he showed in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Bautista has continued to use that talent for deadpan humor in comedies like Stuber, and with My Spy, he’s taking the step to family-friendly action star, which elevated the careers of Johnson, Vin Diesel and John Cena. (Bautista is also a producer here, showing he knows this is the right move, balanced with his roles in upcoming spectacles such as Dune, Army of the Dead and a third Guardians movie.)
With the premiere of Bao Nguyen’s Bruce Lee documentary, Be Water, on Sunday (as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series), I thought it would be worth revisiting 1993’s Lee biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
I’ve always been a Lee fan, though couldn’t call myself a diehard. But I certainly remember watching his movies on TV as a kid and marveling at an Asian guy kicking everybody’s ass (including Chuck Norris). Even my mother sat down to watch with me, and she never had much interest in the stuff I enjoyed.
However, my memory of Dragon — which I saw in theaters when it was released in 1993 — is that it wasn’t very good. My rewatch confirmed that opinion, maybe even more so now that I often watch movies with a more discerning eye.
The kindest description of Dragon is that it’s a fairy tale telling of Lee’s story which takes significant dramatic license with real-life events and essentially turns his biography into a Bruce Lee action movie. That’s not to say that the film isn’t entertaining. But it strains believability to think that Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee) engaged in major action set pieces throughout his life.