Black Moon Rising
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Black Moon Rising

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When it comes to a foundation for a movie you really canít do much better than espionage. The lone spy against the forces of evil trying to get the vital information back to home base is a theme that has endured the test of time, the only thing that changes are the sides in conflict. In World War II of course it was the Nazis. During the cold war the Soviet Union took center stage. By the mid to late eighties the U.S.S.R. as the evil empire was on the decline and movie audiences were becoming bored of films with them as the bad guys. The U.S. Government versus the villains of organized crime took hold of the publicís attention. One film in this category was the 1986 flick, ĎBlack Moon Risingí. It is a blended genre movie with elements not only of spy flicks but touches of thriller, science fiction and, of course, action-adventure. Normally this type of combination would have dismal prospects except for one thing, the degree of talent associated with it. The screenplay is from the imaginative and successful pen of John Carpenter. While he is best known for his more macabre screenplays his talent is not limited to one genre. Then there is the cast. This movie features Tommy Lee Jones. It is almost impossible not to like a Tommy Lee flick, he is a true actor capable of taking on any part. There is also Linda Hamilton, the buff darling of the Terminator flicks. While this film does not reach the heights of over similar films it is a solid piece of entertainment.

This is the type of film that is best viewed without a lot of higher brain functions. The plot is ridiculous if you allow yourself the luxury of thinking too much about it. You just have to sit back and enjoy. There is a super car in this film that any man would give a highly prized piece of anatomy to own. The impossibility of such a vehicle didnít stop Michael Knight every week and it should keep you from enjoying this flick. Like many films of this time period it was only available on old VHS tapes. Back in 2004 there was a DVD release of it from Anchor Bay. That version has joined the growing ranks of discontinued titles but a new release is here. Now that Anchor Bay has joined forces with the Starz network many of these little gems are finding new life on DVD. Like many of these re-releases it is the same edition as before so this is more of a re-branding. The point here is they are giving new life to films like that this. Many out there may have been looking for titles such as this and now you have a second chance.

Quint (Tommy Lee Jones) is a freelance covert operative that has been hired by the FBI for a special assignment. His credentials are impeccable, a former CIA agent and highly trained in the specialized field of electronic surveillance. His mission is to get records and wire tapes implicating the owner of the Lucky Dollar Corporation in Las Vegas, Marvin Ringer (Lee Ving). He is wanted in an ongoing organized crime investigation that the Feds are very anxious to bring to trial. Since all legal means to accomplish this have been exhausted they turned to the gray area where Quint lives and works. The time factor is listed as critical so the pressure is on. The first we see of Quint is him stopping at a gas station for a fill up and a cup of coffee. As he takes his first sips a man burst in with a gun to hold the place up. Quint remains cool as he explains to the young thief that he didnít think things out, just as the police sirens are heard. This is a man who is cool under pressure. In Vegas Quint has no trouble getting into the headquarters of the Lucky Dollar. He has several high tech pieces of equipment, by 1986 standards, that by-passes security and gives him access to the information he was hired to obtain. Even when an alarm goes off and Quint is chased by a large group of men with automatic weapons he remains collected as he gets in his car and speeds off. Quint knows that it is only a matter of time before Ringerís men catch up to him so he hides the tape in a conveniently nearby prototype of a new super advanced car, the Black Moon. The car is made of new composite materials and can reach speeds of 300 mph. The head of the project, Earl Windom (Richard Jaeckal) is taking his invention to Los Angels for a demonstration. Just as the car gets to LA it is stolen, the man behind the theft is a mogul, Ed Ryland (Robert Vaughn). Quint finds himself in a dilemma of having to steal the car to get the tape back. Although he usually works alone he realizes that he needs help on this caper so he gathers an ad hoc team, Nina (Linda Hamilton) a highly successful car thief in her own right and two of the scientist that were on the project. The Feds have given Quint only three days to get the tape back so the chase is on. They have to break into a skyscraper that is fortified beyond belief. Not only does he have to worry about getting past Rylandís formidable security but Ringerís men are hot on his trail.

While the plot is thin as gossamer and a lot of the acting is stiff this flick delivers with the action. After all if you wanted a deeper meaning from a movie you would in the independent film section of your local DVD store not watching this. Director Harley Cokeliss deports himself very well here. The pacing is perfect for this type of film. He gets right into the action and only stops long enough for a little exposition and to allow the male and female leads time to argue, a sure sign of romance by the end of the film. The stunt work is great here. Now most of these stunts would be done on a computer and no matter how good the hardware and software becomes there is a difference. A practical, non-computer, stunt has a special edge to it that reaches the audience. Here the action sequences make this film.

As actors go Tommy Lee Jones is one of the best we have. He can act stoic and still get humorous little quips in at just the right time. This sense of timing sells his role here. He is the right man for the role. Linda Hamilton) was one of the first real female action stars. She can portray a tough, action ready woman without losing her femininity. Many actresses have followed suite but she was one of the first. In this film the chemistry between her and Jones is strained most of the time but in a way it worked within the premise of the film. As one of the villains Robert Vaughn is one dimensional which is a shame. He is capable of a lot more than he gets to portray here.

The DVD is very well done, typical of one of the Anchor Bay / Starz reissues. The video is in a very well done anamorphic 1.85:1. Even though this seems to be the same master used three years ago it has held up well. The Dolby 5.1 is explosive. The sub woofer gets a real workout with the many explosions and stunt work present here. This is a fun flick that should not be missed.

Posted 12/16/07

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