Happy Death Day 2U

Another day, another sequel. Or in this case, another day lived over and over again a la Groundhog day, or a la everyone’s life during COVID. And of course, the Babyface Killer is back (quick aside: what a stupid moniker, as a babyface is someone who looks young, or in pro wrestling parlance, is a good guy).

Happy Death Day 2U is the still snappy 2019 sequel to Happy Death Day, and it expands the victim pool from only poor Tree from the first film, to a small forest. We get principles from the first Happy Death Day, now also having to go through what our poor protagonist suffered through – endless nightmares and being chased around campus. That means Asian stoner and first flick also-ran Ryan waking up from a nap in his ride, over and over and over again and walking in on Tree / Theresa and Carter. And there’s no way out for this dude, stuck inside a kind of Samuel Beckett play.

Ryan is an engineering student who’s built a ball, that’s not unlike the giant orb that interfaces with the extra dimension in Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond. And this engineering project, which is more metaphysical than physics, is what put everyone in different dimension, and susceptible to the time-suspending killer in a plastic mask terrorizing fictional Bayfield University.

How will Ryan and company escape both the killer and the time loop? That’s what this imaginative sequel lays out, fueled again by the effortless charm of the three leads, particularly Jessica Rothe.

There are callbacks to the poisoned cupcake, and without spoiling it, there are different character arcs to keep the audience guessing.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 this ain’t.

Kudos to director Christopher Landon for expanding his vision from the first one, though the sassier/funnier tone may not sit well with some horror heads who might’ve wanted the gore ante upped.

*** (out of 5)

Lionheart

We first learned about the French Foreign Legion through Snoopy, or “Beau Snoopy,” in Peanuts, complete with a kepi head covering.

Who says the writers of this site aren’t cultured?

In Lionheart, Jean Claude Van Damme stars in the first of two 90s action movies where he plays a member of the French Foreign Legion. Still, when weighed (no fat shaming!) against the times Steven Seagal has played an ex-special forces op…you can’t accuse the “Muscles from Brussels” of being typecast to the same extent.

Here, he plays Lyon Gaulthier, who sounds like his very own couture line, a Legionnaire who goes AWOL from the regiment, and is then a stowaway on a ship, all to get closer to his sister in the U.S.

With no papers, and no skills other than being apple to separate a goon from his teeth, JCVD’s Lyon turns to…what else? The underground pit fighting circuit. After all, it’s such a vibrant, moneymaking racket, especially in the years preceding the UFC, and on both coasts to boot.

Who else is occupying the furtive underground world of unsanctioned fisticuffs? Why, it’s some Don King-esque fixer named Joshua.

He’s Lyon’s liaison into the illicit world of hardscrabble men gathering under bridges, in dismal urban locales (and occasionally in squash courts!) to battle for surprisingly lucrative purses.

Lionheart is entirely built upon a foundation of ample Van Damme charisma. And he’s got some in spades, displaying a range far surpassing that of his contemporaries (which is a bit of a backhanded compliment akin to being the most classically handsome wrestler in Turkey). The scenes with his young niece are especially poignant.

Lionheart though, brings the ass-kicking bona fides.

***1/4 (out of 5)

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of our action movie book, Mine’s Bigger Than Yours! The 100 Wackiest Action Movies. If you’re a fan of Cannon films, Steven Seagal, bizarre Philippines-lensed chop socky, you’ll love this tome.