Jiu Jitsu: It’s Predator with Martial Arts and Nic Cage – Netflix Review

Despite that description, though, the movie mostly falls flat.


War hero Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi) is injured fighting something in Myanmar and falls into the sea. He’s rescued and turned over to the US Military, but it is revealed he now has amnesia. Myra (Marie Avgeropoulos), an Army Intelligence officer, tries to interrogate him but mostly ends up failing. He’s rescued by Keung (Tony Jaa), a master martial artist. It turns out that Jake is a member of a group of warriors who all practice the martial art of Jiu Jitsu, which was apparently taught to humans by an alien warrior. Now, every six years, an alien champion named Brax (Ryan Tarran) challenges a number of champions in combat. If the humans win, Earth survives. If not, well, that’s all she wrote. Jake is assisted by teammates Keung, Carmen (JuJu Chan), Harrigan (Frank Grillo), and Wylie (Nicolas Cage). Unfortunately, what Jake mostly forgot is that he was Earth’s best hope, and he needs to remember that before Brax takes him down.

Yes, this is the lead in a movie about Jiu Jitsu.


This movie should be amazing. It’s a movie where an alien that usually cloaks itself while hunting (Predator) challenges a number of humans to a martial arts tournament (Mortal Kombat) for the right to invade Earth (also Mortal Kombat) with Nicolas (not Johnny) Cage and Frank Grillo. Nicolas Cage plays a near-insane older martial arts master, something that should be amazing on its own. In fairness, I enjoyed most of the scenes with Cage, because, whether you like him or hate him, he’s a hell of a presence. Unfortunately, he’s criminally underused here, probably because, and I’m speculating a bit, they could only afford to have him on set for a week or so. 

The actual film itself has a lot of great martial arts sequences, but it’s tough because you have to suspend the disbelief A) that these people can martial arts their way past machine guns, B) that the alien created Jiu Jitsu, C) that the alien’s technology is designed for a “fair fight,” and D) that the people delivering the lines in this movie sincerely believe A, B, and C. It’s not even that these are bad performers, it’s that it’s really hard to try and describe this movie sincerely. Even if you were undergoing these events, you probably wouldn’t react like any of the characters do, aside from maybe Nicolas Cage, who seems to be completely aware of how ridiculous this set-up is.

This alien makes no sense.

The cinematography is okay during some of the fights, but it still seems to be incapable of properly helping the audience recognize that many of these people are really, really good at what they’re doing. JuJu Chan (from Wu Assassins) and Tony Jaa (of Ong-Bak fame) are both massively underused. When you have people who can really do top-level martial arts movies and shows, you should probably not reduce them to second-string characters. 

A lot of talent on the cast, but it never feels like it gets used properly.

Overall, sadly, this isn’t a great movie. If you really like Nic Cage, maybe watch just his scenes. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Willy’s Wonderland: Nicolas Cage in Five Nights at Freddy’s – Amazon Rental Review

Nicolas Cage apparently needed money and I am so glad for that.


A drifter (Nicolas Cage) runs over a spike strip in the middle of the road in a remote Nevada town.  He’s picked up by a local mechanic named Jed (Chris Warner), who tells him that he will only fix the car if he is given a large amount of cash up front.  No other payment will be accepted.  Unable to pay the man, the drifter is given an offer by wealthy local Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz): spend the night shift as a janitor cleaning up the once successful but now abandoned children’s entertainment facility Willy’s Wonderland.  It turns out that the animatronics inside the building are evil and will kill anyone inside at night. However, it turns out that this silent drifter may be the only one who is prepared to really clean up Willy’s Wonderland.

It might be his birthday. We don’t know.

Unfortunately, earlier in the day, local girl Liv Hawthorne (Emily Tosta), attempted to burn the building down, but was stopped by her adopted mother Sheriff Eloise Lund (Beth Grant) and deputy Evan Olson (David Sheftell). Her friends, Chris, Kathy, Aaron, Bob, and Dan (Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Christian Del Grosso, Terayle Hill, and Jonathan Mercedes) free her and join her in her attempt to burn down the building. Damned kids will ruin everything if you let them.


I wish that I had been present at the pitch meeting for this film.  I can only imagine it went something like “Hey, the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie isn’t out yet. What if we rip that off so hard that it will basically be plagiarism, but add in Nicolas Cage?” Then, after taking another large hit of blow, everyone in the room applauded wildly.  And rightfully so, because, while this movie is a terrible adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s, putting Nicolas Cage onscreen against killer animatronics is just a brilliant idea.

Making him wear that shirt is even better.

I think if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you are aware of my opinion that Nicolas Cage is a national treasure.  I wrote that before I realized how terrible of a pun that is, so I will leave it out of penance.  In any case, Cage is one of the rare actors who has a tremendous amount of ability, but also a willingness to take absolutely terrible movies on which to squander it.  Sometimes, these movies are terrible.  Sometimes, these movies are awesome.  This movie is somewhere in between, but it is through no fault of Nicolas Cage himself.  Every scene in which he is on screen in this film is so much better than it has any right to be, that I can only attribute it to his unnatural screen presence.  Even though the movie doesn’t do a particular great job in designing the animatronics, watching Nicolas Cage dispatch them, and brutally at that, is just so enjoyable that you will forgive any of the other flaws. There may be no shot in film I’ve enjoyed more than when an evil possessed ostrich animatronic suddenly realizes that he has absolutely f*cked with the wrong man.

Or Nicolas Cage being uncertain if the ostrich is really going to eat his flesh.

Perhaps the biggest mistake in this film is that it isn’t just Cage versus the characters. Since Cage proves to be the kryptonite to these figures, mostly because he seems to follow some insane self-imposed rules about surviving the night (which are nonetheless apparently effective), there had to be other characters to get the body count up. Enter the teens, who, for the most part, do nothing except be stereotypes and die. While I realize that’s something that a horror movie needs, it’s still kind of a let-down in this film. It also hurts when they try to actually add some backstory to the animatronics. I know that the backstory is a big part of Five Nights at Freddy’s, but it’s all hidden throughout the games and, much like all of the information about the drifter, it would have been better to just leave everything in hints around the building.

Cage is in the robot-killing business and business is good.

Overall, though, if you want to see Nicolas Cage punch an animatronic ostrich to death, and you do, you should watch this. Maybe wait until it’s free, though.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The History of Swear Words: Damn, This Sh*t’s F*cking Funny – Netflix Review

Nicolas Cage and a cast of great comics and historians give us a humorous look at the history of cussing.


Composed of six episodes addressing the six most common swears in the English language, the show has Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Nikki Glaser, Patti Harrison, Open Mike Eagle, Joel Kim Booster, DeRay Davis, London Hughes, Jim Jefferies, Zainab Johnson, Baron Vaughn, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. do commentary about the history, use, cultural impact, and just plain fun of using curse words. They also have historians, linguists, and lexicographers on hand to provide the real information: Benjamin K. Bergen, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mireille Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper. 



What’s most interesting about this show isn’t just that it’s full of great comics telling funny stories about how they’ve used swear words, it’s that the comedians are sometimes overshadowed by the hilarious revelations of actual historical uses and origins of many of these swears. There is a particular name which is revealed in one of the episodes that, having looked it up, is even funnier because it was a name assigned to him by a court. I don’t want to spoil it, but it made me laugh. 

It’s funny sugar honey iced tea.

I think another great part of the show is how they discuss the impact of having certain words in common parlance and how it can amplify misogyny, racism, or other harmful things, but how society has worked to reclaim or undo that damage. It’s also interesting that the show, on the whole, endorses swearing as something that people use for various reasons, ranging from emotional release to pain management. A number of the episodes attack censorship, but also do point out the problems that can come from heedlessly using certain terms. It’s a very balanced show.

They do both real and folk etymologies and both are funny.

Overall, this is a great series and I hope they keep going. We haven’t even gotten to all of the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, so there is room. Also, Nicolas Cage does a great job, even if, on some level, I know Samuel L. Jackson should have hosted “F*ck.”

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Color out of Space: A Solid Adaptation of Lovecraft

Nicolas Cage stars in this adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft done by the famed not-director of The Island of Dr. Moreau. It’s awesome.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

The film is narrated by a hydrologist named Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight). Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) moves his family to a rural farm in Massachusetts after his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson) survives cancer, deciding to start growing tomatoes and raising alpacas (for the milk, apparently). His children are handling the situation in various ways: His daughter, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), takes up Wicca to try to keep her mother’s cancer away; his eldest son Benny (Brendan Meyer) starts smoking pot with local hermit Ezra (Tommy “Cheech and” Chong); and his youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard) spends most of his time just playing with his dog, Sam.  

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They look so happy. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

One night a meteor crashes into their front yard. The meteor glows an unnatural color and emits a terrible smell before being struck by lightning. What follows is high strangeness. 


I wanted to editorialize a little bit on the story, so if you just want the film, skip down.


So, if you’ve read “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft, good news, this movie changes enough of the story and adds enough creativity to still keep everything interesting. If you haven’t, it’s really short and pretty solid. It’s definitely one of the least controversial Lovecraft stories and it’s one of the most adapted and influential, up there with “The Dunwich Horror” and “Herbert West, Reanimator.” It got a bit more press than many of his previous works because it was selected as one of the Best American Short Stories the following year, just as Lovecraft’s more famous “The Call of Cthulhu” was published. It’s got a great blend of Sci-Fi and Horror elements and, as is typical with Lovecraft, it bombards you with multiple levels of unease that culminate at cosmic. You can read it here, because copyright law has set it free. 

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So many movies about meteor strikes seem to derive from this.

Also, Lovecraft was a racist bastard. I feel that everyone who does a review of an adaptation of him should probably mention that he was a brilliant and influential author, but also a racist bastard. He’s not getting paid for adaptations and, much like this movie, his works can produce interesting and entertaining derivations, so let’s keep them going, but we should still acknowledge that even by 1920s standards he was pretty damned racist. Okay, now to the film:


First, how exactly has Nicolas Cage never been in an adaptation of Lovecraft before? One of the hallmarks of Lovecraft is a type of madness that usually comes from trying to grasp a concept that the human mind simply is not capable of accepting. While this might be difficult to convey for some actors, THAT’S NICOLAS CAGE’S DEFAULT. Nicolas Cage always seems like he’s living in a reality that’s rotated about 20 degrees from our own. There’s a scene in Ghost Rider where Cage “relaxes” by eating jelly beans out of a martini glass while watching internet videos of monkeys doing karate and he somehow makes it seem believable. In Mandy, Cage manages to give a heartfelt and emotional performance which he follows up with a chainsaw duel. He’s basically the perfect person to convey the madness that comes from forbidden knowledge or trying to perceive the impossible.

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This man knows altered realities.

The film does a good job of attempting to convey a concept that just can’t be related visually: Imagining a new color. In Lovecraft’s story, the meteor’s color is described only in analogy because it doesn’t fall anywhere on the visual spectrum. In this film, even though the color is represented by an unnatural neon pinkish hue, they use it in such a way that it does feel like it’s part of something ineffable. It’s significant that Cage sells the sensation of something “else” happening to him as he looks at it, making us feel like reality and logic start to get burned away by the glow. 

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It’s so well done.

That’s not to say that Cage’s performance is the only good one in the film. Actually, all of the actors who portray the family members do a good job of showing their various descents into madness caused by the color. Each of them has their own take on the decline of their sanity, but they all work. Tommy Chong plays a character who already lives in an altered state, which… well, is perfect for Tommy Chong, but he also does a good job showing his character’s greater ability to perceive things outside of the Earthly realm due to it. 

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He’s been preparing for this his whole life.

The special effects in this film are sufficiently unnerving. There are things that are horribly disturbing that are both implied and also shown. If you’re someone with a queasy stomach, this movie is not for you. It also helps that they are used sparingly. The pacing of the movie, much like a Lovecraft story, is unnervingly slow and deliberate. It starts off with almost nothing happening, but the fact that nothing is happening is itself tense because of the atmosphere. Even when stuff starts to happen, it’s very gradual but it keeps building from slightly supernatural all the way to cosmic horror. 

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This film has some epic horror moments.

Kudos to Director Richard Stanley for managing to do such a good job capturing Lovecraft. He says that this is the first of a trilogy and I hope that’s true, because I would love to see more quality adaptations of cosmic horror. Hell, put Cage in all of them. I won’t complain. It’s also good to see him come back to film after having famously been fired three days into filming The Island of Dr. Moreau, a movie that failed so hard the Documentary about his experience is called Lost Soul. Stanley supposedly loved the H.G. Wells story and was passionate about that project, but he apparently had a huge connection to Lovecraft all of his life, and this film captures a lot of that. 

Overall, I really liked this film. I recommend it for fans of Cage, fans of Lovecraft, or fans of body horror. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Making a Weakness into a Strength (Spoiler-Free)

A brand new Spider-Man debuts along with a host of other Spider-Beings in this amazing work of comic art.


Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a teenage fan of Spider-Man (Chris Pine) who is dealing with his new life at a boarding school located in an elite area of Brooklyn. His father (Brian Tyree Henry) and his mother (Luna Lauren Velez) are both supportive, but also have high expectations of Miles due to his academic and athletic potential. After crushing hard on his classmate Wanda (Hailee Steinfeld), Miles goes to his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) for advice and ends up being bitten by a radioactive spider while painting a tunnel with his uncle. It turns out that Miles is now a new Spider-Man at a time when the world needs him most, because the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is trying to open a portal to the multiverse which summons a number of parallel Spider-beings, including an older Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter Porker the amazing Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), SP//dr the Japanese mecha spider-woman (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage). Together, they have to save the multiverse from a cabal of supervillains.

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I wish this were a spoiler, but it was in the ads. Also, holy crap, I love this. 


Origin stories are hard. Even if we’re being introduced an original character or a character that isn’t well-known, like Darkman or Ant-Man, going through all of the steps of a character’s transformation from zero to hero is usually formulaic. Some movies mostly eschew the traditional origin story in favor of only showing a few flashbacks of the origin, like Tim Burton’s Batman, but if you’re doing an origin story, they’re usually going to contain the same beats. This movie is no exception, except in how exceptionally it does it. In fact, it doesn’t just do an origin story, it heavily leans into all of the good things that can come from watching an origin story, then ratchets that needle up to eleven by introducing, not one, not two, not three, but seven Spider-beings in the movie, with even more by cameo.

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Whereas, some movies can feature an already beloved character and a future superstar and still be garbage baked in hell’s own outhouse.

Part of it is that the film knows it can rely on the audience’s familiarity with the Spider-Man franchise. The first Spider-Man we meet is introduced using flashes from past Spider-Man movies, but with some twists to say “this is that Spider-Man, but not exactly, so don’t get worked up over continuity.” This movie doesn’t just rely on flashback origin stories, but it plays with the idea heavily by doing it multiple times, each time presenting it as an origin-story comic book in a different style resembling that character’s universe, including one humorous scene where they attempt to introduce three at the same time, overlapping their origins. Part of the reason why this works is that the characters are all variants on the same Spider-Man story, even though they don’t necessarily share gender, powers, or even species. It’s basically a movie dedicated to proving that even if there are only a handful of core stories in the world, the variations on those stories and the variations on the variations can provide us with an infinite amount of entertainment.

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Zombie Joseph Campbell attended the premiere. 

Despite the number of superpeople/superanimal in the movie, the film’s central story is that of Miles Morales coming to terms with not only being Spider-Man, but with the legacy that wearing a spider upon your chest brings with it. With every other Spider-character, they’re already at varying stages of being a superhero (i.e. brand-new, experienced, golden age, over-the-hill), which basically gives Miles an idea about all of the different ways that being Spider-Man can go. However, he also gets the benefit of all of them telling him the one thing that absolutely defines a Spider-Man: Always getting up when you’re knocked down. This isn’t a new theme, in fact it’s so overused it’s almost cliche, but the film actually gets to the implications of this statement, rather than just making it an empty platitude. A large part of this is that the art style in the film is very big on accentuating impacts. When a character gets knocked down, YOU FEEL IT. You know just how hurt they are right now and how hard it’s going to be to get up, which makes it actually feel like a heroic act when a hero, broken, bleeding, and beaten, still manages to continue.

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This is concept art that didn’t make it in, but see those impact lines? Yeah, that’s what you feel.

Another thing is that this movie knows one thing that so many movies forget: Even in superhero movies, we want heart. Most of this movie isn’t focused on just watching Miles be Spider-Man, but on how he feels. Yes, he’s dealing with new superpowers and interdimensional travelers, but he also is dealing with guilt over not being able to help people due to his inconsistent powers, feeling like he’s disappointing his parents and his mentor Spider-Man, and just dealing with the difficulties of being a teenager. Much like in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, Miles’ emotional instability makes his powers unstable, which culminates in a scene in the movie in which he finally finds emotional clarity and his powers at the same time. In most films, the “suddenly able to use your powers” moment is cliche and feels unearned (exception: “I’m always angry” due to Rule of Awesome). But, since the film tied his powers to his emotions, his emotional growth in that moment actually DOES justify the sudden use of his abilities, giving the audience a massive burst of catharsis right before leading us to the third-act ramp-up.

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And they exaggerate the eyes just a little to make him more expressive. Love it.

The art style in the film is possibly the best I’ve ever seen in an animated film, including Disney and Pixar, mostly because it varies from character to character (based on universes) and looks like living comic book panels, complete with animated sound effects. SP//DR is drawn as an anime character, Spider-Man Noir has no color whatsoever, Spider-Gwen has power ballads (she’s a musician in her universe) and bright colors, and Spider-Ham is a Looney Tunes style pig. When they all work in concert, it somehow produces an unbelievable surge of beautiful images rather than being an overload of visuals.

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The script is comedic genius, as you’d expect from Phil Lord, but it contains a shocking amount of really dark moments. Death isn’t reserved for just Uncle Ben, because part of being Spider-Man is losing someone in the past, and we have a lot of Spider-Beings. This makes even the goofy parts of the movies feel like there are actual stakes to the fights.  Also, your villain gets a backstory that lasts maybe 45 seconds, but is so complete that it almost justifies all of his actions throughout the movie, something that continues the ambiguous Marvel villains series (Thanos was right-ish).

It also contains possibly the best Stan Lee cameo (R.I.P. you wonderful man).

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Not that one.

This isn’t just the best Spider-Man movie; this might be the best superhero film. If you can, see it in the theaters, because the visuals merit the big screen. If you can’t, see it anyway, because the script merits a small screen.

Ten Stars. Four thumbs up. 100% Fresh. Whatever you want to say, this movie is one of the best things I’ve seen in a while, maybe since How to Train Your Dragon. Even though it contains a heavy dose of every cliche in the origin story handbook, it manages to play all of them with just the right amount of variance and sincere love for the characters that it reminds us why all of those tropes get used in the first place. I love this film.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Mandy: Nicolas Cage’s Awesomely Nicolas-Cage-iest Movie

Leaving Las Vegas. Raising Arizona. Con Air. National Treasure. The Wicker Man. The Weather Man. Lord of War. Adaptation. Face/Off. Gone in 60 Seconds (and a cameo in its porn version: Bone in 69 Sexconds). Vampire’s Kiss. The Rock. Next. Knowing. Bangkok Dangerous. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Kick-Ass. Peggy Sue Got Married. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Ghost Rider. Mom and Dad. Looking Glass. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

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Those were just the ones I could name in 30 seconds.

Nicolas Cage has done some stuff. Some of it has been amazing, like Leaving Las Vegas and Raising Arizona. Some of it has been terrible, like USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage and Windtalkers. But a lot of it has just been Nicolas Cage-y, which is to say so insane and entertaining that things like “good” and “bad” seem to be irrelevant. Con Air might make movie critics vomit with rage, but I’ll yell at random strangers to “Put the Bunny Back in the Box.” Vampire’s Kiss is literally an internet meme now, but there’s no one who can tell me that they have watched it and thought that any other actor could do that movie. Cage has been great, he’s been terrible, but mostly he’s just been Cage.


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Yes, I do say.

With that in mind, I can say the following: This is the most Cage that he has ever been, but this movie was clearly written to bring out as much Cage as he could bring. AND IT IS AMAZING. This isn’t a “So bad it’s good” movie or a “So insane I can’t look away” movie. This is a great movie that has all the trappings of a bad movie done in such a beautiful and insane way that can only be captured by the crazy talented mind that is Nicolas Cage.

Mini-Summary (for the impatient)

Red Miller’s girlfriend Mandy gets abducted by a cult. He goes on a roaring rampage of revenge with an axe, a crossbow, and a chainsaw.


It’s the 80s, because everything was more fun back then. Red Miller (Cage) lives with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in the Shadow Mountains in Eastern California. Red works as a logger while Mandy is an artist that does elaborate fantasy pieces (Think stuff that would be awesome airbrushed on a van). While they don’t say anything directly, both of them show signs of having trauma in their pasts that have led them to having a stronger bond to help each other.

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They’re adorable.

Mandy is on her way to her day job at a gas station when she walks past a van carrying cult members of the Children of the New Dawn. The leader of the cult, Jeremiah Sand (Linus “You know who I am, but probably wouldn’t recognize me here” Roache), immediately becomes obsessed with Mandy. He orders his lieutenant, Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy), to kidnap her. Swan enlists the help of the Black Skulls, a possibly-semi-magical demon-themed biker gang who are also LSD-tripping cannibals. The Skulls require a sacrifice for their help, resulting in Swan giving them one of the low-ranking cult members.

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Arguably the least-insane of the biker outfits.


The bikers break into Red and Mandy’s home and capture the two. Two of the cult members, Mother Marlene and Sister Lucy (Olwen Fouéré and Line Pillet), drug Mandy with some liquid LSD and the venom of a specially bred wasp. At this point, the movie becomes significantly trippier, something that, admittedly, is tough to accomplish when you’ve already had demon bikers and a hippie cult.

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And yet, it somehow will…

Sand attempts to seduce Mandy with his music (having been a failed musician), claiming that he has divine providence and right over all things. Mandy responds by laughing at his small penis and generally pathetic nature. This causes Sand to consider for a moment that he is not, in fact, divine or special, so he becomes angry and orders Red to be tied up with barbed wire and stabbed. He then forces Red to watch as he sets Mandy on fire, burning her to ashes before leaving. Red frees himself, then passes out from blood-loss and shock. When he awakens, he drinks an entire bottle of vodka (his character is implied to be recovering alcoholic) and then gives one of the best performances on film.

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Admittedly, this part is great too.

I’m not kidding. I’ll go into it more down there, but Cage, in one unbroken take, goes from confused to sad to angry to accepting to vengeful. It’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen, and it stems entirely from the fact that Nicolas Cage, when given the right script, is one hell of a performer.

After swearing vengeance, Red goes to his old friend (and probably former comrade in arms) Caruthers (Bill “I was in Commando and Predator” F*cking Duke). Caruthers gives Red a run-down on the Black Skulls and gives him “the Reaper,” Red’s old crossbow. Red forges a battle-axe and proceeds to get captured by the Skulls. However, he escapes and goes on a rampage, killing all of the bikers and taking a bunch of cocaine and LSD that make the movie, again, TRIPPY AS F*CK.

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“As long as Arnold isn’t here, I’ll survive.”

Red heads to where he thinks the Cult is, only to find the Chemist (Richard Brake), a drug manufacturer who tells Red where the cult actually is. Red proceeds to the cult’s church and kills several members of the cult with an axe before getting in a CHAINSAW DUEL, BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT???? He eventually kills all the members before finding Sand, who is now openly a pathetic waste of a man. Sand begs for mercy, but Red opts to crush his skull with his bare hands instead. He burns the church down, gets in his car, and hallucinates that Mandy is with him again and that he’s driving away from an otherworldly landscape that resembles her paintings.

I’m weeping with joy at this.


First off, this movie trips so much balls that the doses of LSD that the characters take pretty much are superfluous but, when they do take drugs, the film style starts to shift accordingly so that things are blurry or focused almost at random while the sound gets distorted and echo-y. The colors and style throughout the film, as well as the strange lingering cinematography, really do make this feel like what I imagine a good acid trip would be. Musically, this movie is fantastic. It’s very 80s with an appropriate amount of Synth, but also manages to keep everything feeling just a hair off at even the most normal times, then turns the crazy up to eleven when called upon.

Second, the film starts slow and peacefully, focused mostly on Red and Mandy, but manages to avoid actually being too expository, something that I WILL ALWAYS LAUD. If you can convey a character’s backstory without it feeling contrived, I think that’s amazing. This film does it with both of the leads, and later with the antagonist, and never does it feel like it’s just awkward, unnatural exposition.

Third, HOLY HELL IS NICOLAS CAGE AMAZING. Seriously, this is the best performance he’s given in years. I think that aside from Leaving Las Vegas and Raising Arizona, this is not just the best film he’s done, this is the best he’s ever been in a film. There’s one particular scene that I have to comment on. When Cage starts drinking again after seeing Mandy burned alive, it is one single, unbroken take in which Cage clearly improvises a ton, and all of it works. In this sequence, Cage perfectly embodies someone who has just experienced the kind of thing he has. For no reason whatsoever, he just had his best friend and lover abducted, tortured, and murdered while he was helpless to do anything. He nails it. I just regret that I can’t find it online to show you.

The only thing in the movie that’s better than that scene is the CHEDDAR GOBLIN. Yes, the Cheddar Goblin is a fake commercial which immediately precedes the above scene and was done by the crew that made the famous “Too Many Cooks” short for Adult Swim. It’s just as insane as the movie, but in a more grounded way, if you can understand. If you can’t, here’s the ad.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you can stand gore (because the third act is damned gory, although in a cartoonish way), you should watch this film. It’s the kind of movie that almost escapes definition, except that it’s what you would find on an 80s Heavy Metal album cover. If you ever wanted to see one of those come to life, then you need to see this movie. If you love Nicolas Cage, then you need to see this movie. If you have a lot of pot on hand, then you need to smoke it and see this movie.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

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