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February 15, 1996 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-15

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48 - The Michigan Daily - WeWfe, eU - Thursday, Fenruary 15, 1996

Director Woo strengthens his spotty
stateside record with'Broken Arrow

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
John Woo knows how slow-motion
violence can somehow manage to be
distinctly lyrical. He knows the po-
otry of blood droplets hitting a white
wall. He loves the extreme sentimen-
telism that Stops just short of being
riaiculous. He revels in the soft-rock
soundtrack, padding weepy displays
40 male bonding that, suddenly dis-
blve into twenty-minute bone-crush-
ibpg routines.
i The Hong Kong-born director of
the recent film "Broken Arrow" has
Osorbed plenty of Western influences
ind, in turn, serves as an inspiration
r a batch of young directors.
Quentin Tarantino may instantly
come to mind, but as far as I'm con-
cerned, Robert Rodriguez is much
closer to adopting Woo's motto: Re-
yiving hackneyed stereotypes doesn't
Fquire hip ironic posturing on the
director's side, just very good execu-
tion. Of course, the latter is much
larder.
Make no mistake, however; it's
not like John Woo simply lives off
Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone's
legacy. He does leave his own stamp
on the age-old topics explored by
countless directors.
Woo's cinema is that of Hollywood
made strange - Western plots in-
stinctively redefined by Eastern sen-

sibilities. For example, a hero can
shoot a villain in the back, if the
situation asks for it - a move that
would leave American audiences in
utter confusion as with whom to sym-
pathize.
The director still sounds a bit be-
wilderedby American standards, com-
plaining in a recent Movieline inter-
view, "You can't put too much humor
in an action movie, or too much ac-
tion in comedy. A hero never dies."
In "A Better Tomorrow," the 1986
movie that put John Woo on the artis-
tic map in Hong Kong, his uniquely
operatic visual style was already evi-
dent. Working within the limitations
of the genre, Woo managed to infect
individual scenes with something be-
yond the clumsy dialogue or basic
narrative.
For example, the hero of"A Better
Tomorrow" walks in a restaurant hall-
way that he knows he's going to be
chased through later. In slow motion,
he moves through the brightly-lit
space, planting gun after loaded gun
in flower vases. It's the pre-violence,
the anticipation of a massacre, that
makes this throwaway scene dizzy-
ing.
In "The Killer," Woo proceeded to
wrap a basic search-and-destroy plot
into a faintly registering gauze of ex-
istentialist melancholy. A police of-
ficer (Danny Lee) hunting down an

assassin (Chow Yun-Fat, who is to
Woo what Robert De Niro is to Mar-
tin Scorsese) slowly develops a barely
concealed fascination by his unseen
nemesis and the criminal comes to
respect the man out to kill him more
than his own bosses. This undercur-
rent adds a real gravity to the story; in
1995, it was shamelessly, though suc-
cessfully, lifted by director Michael
Mann in "Heat," in which Chow's
role was ironically played by De Niro.
Still, Woo's stateside record re-
mains spotty. "The Killer" was re-
leased into theaters for about a week,
and even though it is the movie gener-
ally credited with triggering the na-
tional fascination with Hong Kong
cinema, it impressed critics more than
audiences.
It was enough, however, for Woo to
get noticed in Hollywood and be of-
fered an English-language project. In
1992, Woo turned in "Hard Target," a
New Orleans-set actioneer that re-
mains the best movie Jean Claude
Van Damme ever starred in. Unfortu-
nately, it's also the worst movie Woo,
ever made.
The problems arose from the
director's decision to tone down his
act for audiences who were not accus-
tomed to his brand of sentimentality.
As a result, Woo entirely erased his
personality from the finished prod-
uct, leaving us with a barely-above-

"Hey, you little punk, don't you 'Get Shorty' with me." Christian Slater, director John Woo and John Travolta on the set of
"Broken Arrow," in theaters now.

average kickfest. Of course, the
"Muscles from Brussels" didn't help
much either.
Now, three years later, Woo re-
turns with "Broken Arrow." Although
written by the scribes who produced
"Speed," it retains all the qualitie's of
the vintage Woo. This time around,
casting is no problem (John Travolta
and Christian Slater, the latter reunited
with "Pump Up the Volume" co-star
Samantha Mathis), and some of Woo's
trademark soft-core existentialism is
back: The heroes, trying to prevent

the big one from going off, roam the
landscapes that look like the nuclear
holocaust has already happened. The
one big (and welcome) change is that
Woo finally allows a female into his
boys' club without automatically
marking her as a victim or a villain-
ess.
Regardless of whether "Broken Ar-
row" catches on with the public or
not, John Woo's back catalogue is
always available, and it's definitely
worth checking out. The laser disc
edition of "The Killer" even includes

an amazing rarity - a student project
Woo completed for one of his fil4
classes, a black-and-white, hilariously
pretentious piece of romantic surreal-
ism.
Exactly how the author of this
project evolved into the man behind
such titles as "Hard Boiled" and "Bul-
let In The Head" remains a mystery.
Then again, maybe it's precisely this
willingness to acknowledge his senti-
mental side that makes John Woos
movies truly the cinema of the hard
boiled.

Comedian Sandler moves from the small
screen to the big time with new record, movie

By Jodi Cohen
Daily Arts Writer
Adam Sandler always seems to be
having a good time.
In the comedian's "Opera Man"
and "Cajun Man" sketches on "Sat-
urday Night Live," Sandler's charac-
ters always provided audiences with
some of television's most original
humor - and some of the biggest
laughs.
In his first big-screen performance
in the title role in "Billy Madison,"
Sandler retained some of his come-
dic trademarks. As Billy, Sandler
sported that innocent, naive grin
throughout the movie.
That role was fun, but Sandler said
filming his latest movie, "Happy
Gilmore" (in theaters Friday), was one
of his most enjoyable experiences as
an actor, singer and comedian.
"I'll never have more fun taping a
movie," he said in a telephone inter-
view last week.
Who wouldn't have a good time
making a movie with close friends -
especially ifyou get to play golf during
the shooting?
"Every day we were on the green
chipping. It was 20 minutes of work
and then 20 minutes of golf. That was
our schedule," Sandler said, laughing
in his innocent, childlike way.
In this comedy, Sandler plays
Gilmore, whose dreams ofplaying pro-
fessional hockey are thwarted by his
inability to skate. But when Happy
realizes his powerful slapshot can be
used in another sport--golf-his life
is on the upswing.
With his 400-yard shot, Sandler
teesoff right into a pro golf tour.

Although Happy now plays a differ-
ent sport, his hockey attitude remains,
putting a twist on the well-mannered
game of golf.
"He still has a hockey player's men-
tality so he gets in fist fights a lot and
curses on the course," Sandler said.
Sandler said one of the movie's
most memorable scenes occurs when
Gilmore gets into a fight with Bob
Barker, host of the TV game show
"The Price Is Right." Sandler sympa-
thizes with his character's aggression-
control problems.
"I have a short temper. I let it out
every time I make a lousy shot," Sandler
said, adding that he is different from the
characters he plays.
"I guess I have a temper in real life
sometimes too. Happy lets his out
more."
The "Saturday Night Live" alum
said "Happy Gilmore" stars many of
his friends, "all cool people," includ-
ing Christopher McDonald, Carl
Weathers, Kevin Nealon, and Ben
Stiller.
"Shooting it ("Happy Gilmore") was
a good time. I got to be loose and have
fun," he said.
"I got to golfall day long and practice
my short game. By the end of the sum-
mer, I was chipping so much, I got to be
good at it."
Sandler said he based "Happy
Gilmore" on a childhood friend who
didn't know much about golf, but who
could hit the ball really far. Like
Gilmore, he enjoys golfing, but he grew
up playing baseball, basketball and ski-
ing.
Sandler also served as the movie's
screenwriter, along with Tim Herlihy

(the team also wrote "Billy Madi-
son"). Sandler said he is now working
on another movie with Herlihy, his
college roommate at New York Uni-
versity, where Sandler earned a de-
gree in fine arts.
This should be a big week for Adam
Sandler, not just because it marks his
continued rise from NYU student to
major movie star, but for other reasons
as well.
Sandler's second album, "What the
Hell Happened to Me?," is slated for
release this week. This recording con-
tains seven new songs and 13 comedy
sketches. Sandler's first album,
"They're All Gonna Laugh at You,"
was a hit, mostly with the college
crowd.
He said he has already received a
variety of responses to the album's fea-
ture track, "The Chanukah Song," which
was played on radio stations around the
country during the holiday season.

"It was a fun experience to have 700
year-old guys coming up to you and
saying they heard it," Sandler said about
the song's popularity.
If the feature song, which was
played more than the classic "Jingle
Bells" in many areas during the past
holiday season, is any indication of
tht album's popularity, then Sandler's
latest recordings should sell out
quickly.
But Sandler warned that some of thO
other lyrics, such as those in "Sex in lte
Weight Room," are not as calm as the
hysterical holiday hit.
"The rest of it is a little bit rougher
than 'The Chanukah Song,"' he said.
"There is some language that you should
be careful about getting yourself into."
Sandler said he is getting ready to
shoot a movie with Damon Wayans
titled "Bullet Proof."
"It's an action movie," he said. "Bud
of course, it has some comedy in it."

The Pharcyde head hlpipop conference
In 1992, the Pharcyde emerged from the West Coast with mics strapped to the
small of their backs instead of gats. While a slew of emcees held tight to the
phony hustler/pimp/gangsta image, the Pharcyde were a bunch of hype rowdy
kids. These guys entered the scene like a nuclear party blast and they sounded
like they were guzzling acid instead of taking their Ritalin. With their debut album
"Bizarre Ride 1lthe Pharcyde," they brought together the hip-hop heads, the
skaters, the rockers, and the Loilapalooza kids, but maintained hip-hop credibility.
The Pharcyde were refreshingly innovative on their first record, but could they pull
it off on their next album? With the release of "Labcabincalifomia"'s first single
"Runnin,'" the Pharcyde showed a new maturity; they came back tighter and
wiser. Musically "Runnin'" is smooth and melodic with soft, Latin-style
percussion. Although their new album "Labcabincalifomia" is a bit more serious,
the Pharcyde hasn't become somber, and they still maintain that witty Pharcyde
character and charm.
The Pharcyde will be performing Sunday night with fellow hip-hoppers Cypress Hill
and 311 at the State Theatre in Detroit at 8 p.m. Call (810) 645-6666.
The first 50 people to arrive at the Daily Arts office today will receive a cassette
of the Pharcyde's single "Runnin'."

Look Great
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GCM/CS C(+++)>$ U+++>$ California(+++) !e t@

Sandier (shown here in "Billy Madison") co-wrote and stars in "Happy Gilmore"s
an ex-hockey player who switches to the, more genteel game of golf.
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