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Jarhead 3: The Siege (2016)

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The U.S. Embassy is under attack and the Marines must come to the rescue in this in-name third installment of the military action films.

Marine Cpl. Evan Albright has been stationed to a U.S. embassy in the Middle East. Every day, the embassy is met with protestors. Albright, known to be a loose cannon, does his best to get along with his fellow Marines and stay in the gunnery sergeant’s good graces. However, one day, he notices a mysterious figure watching them from below. When Albright may think he knows the identity, he goes straight to Ambassador Cahill, thus face the wrath of both Gunny Raines and RSO Kraus.

However, Albright’s suspicions prove to be correct when the embassy is suddenly attacked by a band of insurgents led by renowned terrorist Khaled Al-Asiri, who was thought to have been killed in a drone strike just two weeks prior. The Marines set out to protect both the Ambassador and a local, Jamal, who is revealed to be Khaled’s brother, having turned over a new leaf. With the body count rising, Albright, Raines, and the rest of the squad must do whatever it takes to protect the embassy and take down the insurgent group.

The Jarhead series is quite interesting as the original film was based on a true story. Capitalizing on their “straight to DVD” sequels, Universal’s 1440 brand brought us Jarhead 2: Field of Fire, an unrelated sequel and then comes this third film, which only has a small relation to the original with Dennis Haysbert making an extended cameo as Major Lincoln. However, Lincoln is just on the back burner for the most part.

Charlie Weber makes for a good lead as Albright, the troubled hero who joined the Marines due to his affected childhood. Albright feels the world is against him but he has something to prove to himself, he tends to be at times reckless, causing the ire of both superiors and fellow Marines, with Scott Adkins in a non-martial arts role as Gunnery Sgt. Raines. Adkins pulls off a Midwestern or Southern American accent as Raines, who takes nothing from no one and proves to be a worthy leader when it comes to action. British actress Sasha Jackson is quite well as Olivia, the assistant of the Ambassador whose life is in jeopardy when the insurgents attack. She also plays a vital part of the mission in two key scenes. As for Hadrian Howard, he pulls it off nicely as the lead terrorist with Charlie de Melo playing a vital role in Jamal, the reformed brother of lead terrorist.

While the action mainly consists of bullets flying and explosions, there is a major scene involving fisticuffs. The scene involves Albright and fellow Marine Lopez, played by Erik Valdez, going hand-to-hand with two insurgents in the ambassador’s residence. It is a nicely shot close quarters action sequence with stunts and beats of comic relief despite Dante Basco’s government worker and blogger Blake being the real comic relief of the film.

Jarhead 3: The Siege is what you would expect from a straight-to-DVD military action film. Some great sequences, some one-liners, and a pretty good cast including Charlie Weber and Scott Adkins leading the way. If you can get past the fact Adkins doesn’t showcase his fight skills and brings more of a straight edge acting role with some gunfire, then you will enjoy this film.

WFG RATING: B

A Universal 1440 Entertainment production. Director: William Kaufman. Producers: Jeffrey Bach and Phillip J. Roth. Writers: Chad Law and Michael D. Weiss. Cinematography: Mark Rutledge. Editing: John Gilbert.

Cast: Charlie Weber, Scott Adkins, Tom Ainsley, Sasha Jackson, Dennis Haysbert, Stephen Hogan, Erik Valdez, Dante Basco, Hadrian Howard, Charlie de Melo, Joe Corigall, Romeo Miller.

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The Wolf Man (1941)

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This is the film that put second-generation horror film actor Lon Chaney Jr. on the map in the role that he would be forever known for.

After learning his brother has died, Lawrence Talbot has returned home in Llanwelly, Wells to make amends with his estranged father. At first, there is still that tension between father and son, but all seems civil. Going to an antique shop, Larry meets the shop’s owner, Gwen Conliffe, and takes a liking to her. He purchases a silver-headed walking stick with a wolf, in which Gwen mentions it represents a werewolf. Meanwhile, Jenny, Gwen’s best friend, has an encounter with a Gypsy named Bela but as she walks into the night, she is attacked by a beast. Larry attempts to save Jenny and is bitten in the process before he successfully kills the beast.

However, Larry’s life is about to change. Meeting a fortune teller named Maleva, she tells him that the beast he killed was in fact Bela, her son, who changed into a wolf. Maleva warns him that on the night of the full moon, Larry will become a werewolf. At first, Larry is extremely skeptical but then on the night of the full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. As he begins killing, Larry realizes that he is going to be hunted down and does whatever he can to stop himself. However, will it be too late when Larry once again becomes the Wolf Man?

Following in the footsteps of the famous 1930’s hits Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to unleash their first major werewolf film and it is a beloved horror classic. The film is based on the legend of a man turning into a werewolf through a bite from another wolf. In an interesting twist to the tale, both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster themselves, both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, were in consideration to play the Wolf Man. However, only Lugosi would appear in the film in a brief cameo as the film’s first werewolf who sets up the story of our tragic hero, Larry Talbot.

The driving force of the film is the legendary Lon Chaney Jr., who became immortalized with the role of Larry Talbot, who becomes the Wolf Man. Clearly, this is a man who has enough trouble in his life. He struggles to maintain a relationship with his father, played by Claude Rains, and the matter of him now turning into a werewolf truly makes things worse for him. His only escape from his struggles is the woman he falls in love with, Gwen, played by Evelyn Ankers. Kudos also must go out to Maria Ouspenskaya as the mysterious Gypsy who warns Larry of his affliction with lycanthropy.

The make-up effects of the film, notably of the Wolf Man himself, is far beyond impressive. Jack Pierce, who was responsible for creating the likes of Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster in the 1930’s Universal classics, had originally intended to use the particular look for another Universal werewolf film, Werewolf of London, in 1935. However, when lead actor Henry Hull complained that the make-up would overshadow his face as well as Universal fearing risk of censorship, Pierce saved the design for this very film and quite frankly, it does look better on Chaney. The stop motion transformation sequences are well done as well and would serve as a precursor for many iconic transformations in later films.

The Wolf Man is a definitive werewolf classic that would have Lon Chaney Jr. become an iconic figure in the footsteps of his father. Chaney would go on to play the character in five more Universal Films, including a comedy starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. This is the one that started it all.

WFG RATING: A+

A Universal Pictures production. Director: George Waggner. Producer: George Waggner. Writer: Curt Siodmak. Cinematography: Joseph Valentine. Editing: Ted Kent.

Cast: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, J.M. Kerrigan, Fay Helm, Forrester Harvey.