Vin Diesel Reprises Role He Originated in Latest Episode of High-Impact, Action Series

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage,  Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams, high-octane thriller, espionage adventure, James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, Vin DieselxXx: Return of Xander Cage

Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams

Vin Diesel Reprises Role He Originated in Latest Episode of High-Impact, Action Series 

When it was released back in 2002 , xXx grossed over a quarter-billion dollars worldwide in theaters alone. The visually-captivating espionage adventure starring Vin Diesel was reminiscent of James Bond, except it featured a hunkier hero and more spectacular stunts and special effects.

The high-octane thriller so overshadowed the relatively-mundane Die Another Day that year that Pierce Brosnan would soon be replaced by Daniel Craig as 007. Ironically, Vin Diesel was also replaced by Ice Cube in xXx 2, a drismal sequel that bombed at the box office, leaving a once-promising franchise on life support.

It’s taken a decade and a half, but Vin is finally reprising the role he originated. The good news is that the picture arrives laced with the sort of death-defying feats that made the first xXx such a hit. That means a plethora of action sequences in which our superhuman protagonist proves impervious to bullets and the laws of gravity.

There are also tons of the trademark titillation, coming courtesy of both Vin’s beefcake and a bevy of adoring beauties. Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: Return of Xander Cage even tips its hat to earlier episodes via cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube.

At the point of departure, we find Xander living under the radar in self-imposed exile in Latin America. He’s still an extreme sports enthusiast, and just for fun skis across the treetops of a verdant rain forest before switching to a skateboard for an equally-breathtaking ride down a winding mountainside highway.

Next thing you know, he’s being coaxed out of retirement by a CIA chief (Toni Collette) to keep the world safe for democracy. The mission involves retrieving a devastating weapon of mass destruction code-named “Pandora’s Box” that’s fallen into the hands of a gang of daredevils led by a diabolical trio (Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and Deepika Padukone) bent on world domination.

After jettisoning a standard-issue, U.S. military support team, Xander recruits a motley crew of renegades more in his own image. Can that rag-tag posse, composed of a crack sniper (Ruby Rose), a fearless getaway driver (Rory McCann), a state-of-the-art gadget wizard (Nina Dobrev) and an affable DJ/ jack-of-all-trades (Kris Wu), rise to the occasion?

Why not? Anything is possible, with cartoon physics on your side!

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and pervasive violence`

Running time: 107 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Home Media Distribution

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns; Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast; Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location; I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts; and a gag reel.

                                                                                                                                                         

To order a copy of xXx: Return of Xander Cage on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N9SFCYF/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Dom Goes Rogue for Damsel-in-Distress in 8th episode of High-Octane Franchise

 

The Fate of the Furious

Film Review by Kam Williams

Dom Goes Rogue for Damsel-in-Distress in 8th episode of High-Octane Franchise

There are a number of action films whose opening scenes alone are well worth the price of admission. Taken (2008), District B-13 (2004) Super 8 (2011) and Dawn of the Dead (2004)  are four which automatically come to mind. Feel free to add The Fate of the Furious to the list of flicks that grab you by the throat right off the bat.

The Fate of the Furious,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, spectacular stunts, bona fide summer blockbuster

The fun starts in Cuba, which is where newlyweds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are happily honeymooning. But their nuptial bliss is interrupted when Dom comes to the rescue when a repo man threatens to cart off his cousin’s vintage jalopy.

Dom talks the guy out of towing and into a drag race to settle their differences. What ensues is heart-stopping careening around the colorful streets of Havana leading to a crowd-pleasing photo finish right at the ocean shore.

Next, we find the bride and groom relaxing back at the hotel. Letty, aware of her biological clock ticking, brings up the idea of starting a family. However, before they decide, Dom goes for a fateful walk alone during which he stops to lend a hand to a damsel ostensibly in automobile distress (Charlize Theron).

The Fate of the Furious,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, spectacular stunts, bona fide summer blockbuster

Truth be told, it’s Cipher, a cyber-terrorist bent on world domination through the acquisition of a gizmo capable of shutting down the electrical grid. She blackmails Dom into joining her criminal enterprise by showing him something very incriminating on her cell phone.

Just like that, the stage is set for a high-octane battle of brawn, muscle cars and wits which has Dom squaring off against his wife and a reassembled gang composed of returnees: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Ludacris), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Roman (Tyrese) as well as new team leader Frank (Kurt Russell), his awkward assistant Eric (Scott Eastwood) and ex-villain  Deckard (Jason Statham).

Forget the idea of following the plot. It’s messy and there are way too many characters to follow. Just sit back and soak in the spectacular stunts, the playful badinage between Hobbs and Deckard, and the comic relief coming courtesy of Roman.

It may only be April, but here it is, the year’s first, bona fide summer blockbuster! . 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, and prolonged sequences of violence and destruction

Running time: 136 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Source:  GIG News

High Octane “Vin”-Sanity!

 

Vin Diesel

The “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” Interview

with Kam Williams

High Octane “Vin”-Sanity!

A native of New York City, Vin Diesel is one of Hollywood’s hottest movie stars. In addition to his huge box-office success, Vin is a prominent producer and filmmaker and has been honored with both a Hands and Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Vin Diesel, The “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” Interview, with Kam Williams

Furious 7, which he starred in and produced, grossed more than $1.5 billion in worldwide box-office and is the #1 grossing film in China’s history. In 2013, he starred in and produced the box-office smash hit Fast & Furious 6, which grossed almost $800 million worldwide.

He is also set to star in the highly-anticipated The Fate of the Furious which will be in theaters on April 14th and in Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which will be released in May. Here, Vin talks about reprising the title role in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Kam Williams: Hey Vin, thanks for the time.

Vin Diesel: Yo, Kam, what’s up?

KW: Not much.

VD: What happened, bro? I thought you were going to be here today?

KW: Couldn’t make it into the city, so I have to do the interview by phone. You know, I was just talking to my brother who mentioned that he taught your nephew Tyler who graduated from Brooklyn Friends School last year. He said he’s a great kid that everybody loved.   

VD: Oh, that’s so dope! Small world, Kam.

KW: He said that they’re all big fans of yours, too. You did sequels to Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious, but previously declined when it came to the xXx franchise. What made you finally decide to reprise the role of Xander Cage?

VD: The reason I declined in 2002 was sort of a silly reason. The studio had promised me that I was going to be able to direct Hannibal, and they wanted me to do xXx 2 before Hannibal. But the script wasn’t strong enough for me to do that. It had become something other than xXx. It was more like Three Days of the Condor without the fun of xXx. But, in truth, a large part of my decision was based on my feeling that I had been promised that I would be able to direct Hannibal the Conqueror. After I produced the fourth Fast and Furious film, and saw the success of that, I was inspired and challenged by the idea of creating these sagas, these franchises. It took about another seven years to get it right. so, it was about 2009 when I made the decision to do it, and it took from that time ’til now to realize it. 

KW: Well, it was worth the wait, because it really brings you back to the original xXx in terms of the special f/x and the stunts. I also love how the dialogue is laced with all those double entendres reminiscent of 007.

VD: [Laughs] Totally! It is America’s answer to James Bond, for sure.

Vin Diesel, The “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” Interview, with Kam Williams

KW: It even has a bevy of beauties in Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Hermione Corfeld and more, xXx’s equivalent of Bond girls.

VD: I remember when we were in production. there were some articles written saying that this was the best cast ever assembled. It’s so eclectic. The women are so strong and formidable and beautiful. They kick ass in their own right. And then it’s novel and cool that this is a multi-cultural, global cast from different film markets from all over the world. It marks the start of Hollywood venturing beyond the confines of Hollywood to recruit talent. We now have a global audience. It is no longer the case that we’re just making movies for America. Now, we’re making movies for the world. So, why not invite celebrated talent from those respective markets into your global film?

KW: And they all mesh seamlessly, here. I’ve seen my share of movies with international casts where there’s no chemistry.

VD: That’s fair to say, Kam.

KW: But you’ve pulled it off successfully.

VD: Yeah, it’s exciting. Thank you.

KW: Vin, what would you say was your biggest challenge in returning to the role of xXx?

VD: Time! these other studios can get very Mafia. Universal never wanted me to make this movie. They would just love to keep the golden goose at Universal, and just keep turning out their billion-dollar franchise, from my being the brainchild of it, to then going on set and producing and acting in it. So, it really was a matter of time where I had one little window of opportunity at the beginning of 2016 where I could go make the movie. And we just went for it! To be 100% honest, that how Hollywood is nowadays. Most people don’t realize that. These studios can be very proprietary.

KW: Really? I had no idea. I thought the studio system ended back in the Forties.

VD: You wouldn’t think it, because Universal would never admit it. I’m not their movie star. I’m their George Lucas. I’m the person creating the saga through many, many pictures. But they’ll never tell you that. They’ll pretend that I’m just coming to the set and driving cars. They’re not going to acknowledge that I’m also the one who’s creating this full, intricate saga, and DMing it over the years. Anybody that’s on the inside would tell you that. Hollywood can get ruthless. I just shared some of the inside scoop, since I’ve known you for a long time. But that’s how Mafia this is. 

Vin Diesel, The “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” Interview, with Kam Williams

KW: Thanks. You know who else was great in this movie? Tony Gonzalez, the former NFL star.

VD: Wasn’t he good? He’d never acted before. This was his first feature film. You’re talking about one of the best football players in history, and he walks onto the set and just kills it! Tony Gonzalez was incredible. He enhanced the picture.

He brought something to the table. His work ethic was dope! And when he wasn’t filming, you’d find him standing around the set trying to learn everything he could.    You could see what a winner he is, and why he was a winner in his field.

KW: I think he was even a star basketball player in college.

VD: He was! When you have that dedication it shows. He did not hold anything back. I’m so proud of what he accomplished.

KW: The rest of the cast was good, too.

VD: I’m proud of all of them. Hey, I’m gonna share this text from my sister [Samantha Vincent] only with you, Kam, since I know you so damn long. She produced this picture, and produces the Fast & Furious franchise. Hold on a second, man…  Here it is. She goes: “Seriously, in all my years working with you, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a unified, hard-working cast. It’s literally the most hopeful, open, optimistic, present group of people ever.” That’s from my sister who’s always on the set and producing all these movies. Ain’t that hot?

KW: Absolutely! Thanks for the exclusive, Vin. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

VD: Oh my God! Just hearing you ask that makes me think of a bunch of remakes I’d love to do. It Happened One Night… On the Waterfront’s is one of my all-time favorite films. And there’s something to be said for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I’d love to put a multi-cultural spin on all those movies.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

VD: Well, the first movie I remember was a picture called The Thief of Baghdad. It was directed by Michael Powell and starred an Indian actor named Sabu. When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford to got to concerts or Broadway plays. That was way out of our price league. But we could go to the movies. we’d go to 42nd Street, and share a $1.50 bowl of chicken lo mein before going to see a movie. Since we lived in Manhattan, we’d walk home afterwards. And while walking home, my father would always break down the movie we just saw. He started doing this when I was just 5 years-old. that gave me the ability to be a producer. As you know, before I did Saving Private Ryan, I directed Multi-Facial and Strays. I would never have gotten Private Ryan if I hadn’t made those movies. And in some ways, I never stopped directing.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

VD: Wow! That’s a great question. When I’m at home, I’m just Daddy. I’m at peace, and not self-aware at all. On the red carpet, I’m a commodity. I realize that, for that moment, I belong to the world, in a way. I try to maintain my truth and my individuality, but I’m mindful that anything I do or say could easily be misconstrued. They’re two very different worlds. I don’t even know if I could articulate just how different they are in one conversation. The person I am at home is so at peace. But even my family knows that once I go out those doors I belong to the world. 

KW: I would guess that you have to be even more careful about what you say and protective of your privacy between the 24-hour news cycle and the snarkiness of internet trolls. . 

VD: Yeah! Who the hell knew we were going to have to become governors of our  fan base, and have to manage so much social media, and decide what you’re going to share. A decade ago all this didn’t exist. Now, you’ll find Samuel L. Jackson feeding his social media. 

KW: I’m glad you brought him back for this sequel.

VD: I had to. Sam was just to important to me and to the franchise. After I signed to headline the first xXx, one of the proudest moments of my life was when I heard he was coming aboard to co-star. I felt such a huge sense of validation. And the pride he took in the project gave me the faith and the confidence to keep going in this industry.

KW: This movie has a number of great twists that it would be unfair for us to spoil.

VD: Yeah, the twists are fun. You can go to the movie and have a blast, but there is also a message after the dust settles.

KW: Lastly, as Samuel L. Jackson asks in the commercial, what’s in your wallet?

VD: I don’t even have my wallet with me. I’m not joking! I’m just one of those kids that’s just all creativity. My mind is just focused on creativity.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Vin, and best of luck with this film .

VD: Always good to talk to you, Kam.

KW: I look forward to chatting with you about Fast & Furious 8 in the spring.

VD: Next time, come over here, man, and let’s do a face-to-face.

                                                                                                                                                                               

Source:  GIG News

High-Octane Franchise Revived by the Return of Vin Diesel as the Title Character

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Film Review by Kam Williams

High-Octane Franchise Revived by the Return of Vin Diesel as the Title Character

When it was released back in 2002 , xXx grossed over a quarter-billion dollars worldwide in theaters alone. The visually-captivating espionage adventure starring Vin Diesel was reminiscent of James Bond, except it featured a hunkier hero and more spectacular stunts and special effects.

 xXx: Return of Xander Cage,  Film Review, by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, trademark titillation, Ice Cube, world domination

The high-octane thriller so overshadowed the relatively-mundane Die Another Day that year that Pierce Brosnan would soon be replaced by Daniel Craig as 007. Ironically, Vin Diesel was also replaced by Ice Cube in xXx 2, a drismal sequel that bombed at the box office, leaving a once-promising franchise on life support.

It’s taken a decade and a half, but Vin is finally reprising the role he originated. The good news is that the picture arrives laced with the sort of death-defying feats that made the first xXx such a hit. That means a plethora of action sequences in which our superhuman protagonist proves impervious to bullets and the laws of gravity.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage,  Film Review, by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, trademark titillation, Ice Cube, world domination

There are also tons of the trademark titillation, coming courtesy of both Vin’s beefcake and a bevy of adoring beauties. Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: Return of Xander Cage even tips its hat to earlier episodes via cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube.

At the point of departure, we find Xander living under the radar in self-imposed exile in Latin America. He’s still an extreme sports enthusiast, and just for fun skis across the treetops of a verdant rain forest before switching to a skateboard for an equally-breathtaking ride down a winding mountainside highway.

Next thing you know, he’s being coaxed out of retirement by a CIA chief (Toni Collette) to keep the world safe for democracy. The mission involves retrieving a devastating weapon of mass destruction code-named “Pandora’s Box” that’s fallen into the hands of a gang of daredevils led by a diabolical trio (Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and Deepika Padukone) bent on world domination.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage,  Film Review, by Kam Williams, Vin Diesel, trademark titillation, Ice Cube, world domination

After jettisoning a standard-issue, U.S. military support team, Xander recruits a motley crew of renegades more in his own image. Can that rag-tag posse, composed of a crack sniper (Ruby Rose), a fearless getaway driver (Rory McCann), a state-of-the-art gadget wizard (Nina Dobrev) and an affable DJ/ jack-of-all-trades (Kris Wu), rise to the occasion?

Why not? Anything is possible, with cartoon physics on your side!

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and pervasive violence`

Running time: 107 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

           

Original Source:  GIG News