Sunday, March 23, 2014
Craption! Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
Remember, me categorizing this as Craption isn't an insult, it's a compliment. Why? Because while critics and audiences didn't sing the films praises back in 1991, I discovered it and enjoy the heck out of it. How many other future set, sci-fi tinged action westerns with a sense of humor can you name from the 90's? Not many. But seriously, if you can, send them my way because I love that shit. Harley wasn't even a slapdash, direct to video effort, this was a big budget studio picture starring two hot commodities. Mickey Rourke had established himself as a great on screen presence but still hadn't headlined a successful film and was becoming more known for his off-screen antics and asshole attitude. Don Johnson was coming off his run on the hugely popular and trend setting show Miami Vice but hadn't had much luck making the jump to features. With a healthy $20 million plus budget, Harley was reined by capable director Simon Wincer of Lonsome Dove, Quigley Down Under and later The Phantom fame.
Masters of the Universe!) and Vanessa Williams while Branscombe Richmond, Sven-Ole Thorsen and Kelly Hu pop up for a hot minute. The filmmakers do a credible job of attempting to instill some character and drama beats between the absurd action sequences that are all done for real in the pre-CGI age and we get big explosions, motorcycles racing around the streets of Los Angeles, a jump from the roof of a Vegas hotel into the pool below, etc. Harley is made out to be a sensitive loaner as he pines over the woman that left him without a word while Marlboro's nomadic lifestyle and "I am what I am" philosophy just isn't enough for his once a month girlfriend and true love.
While Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man has lived on as a futuristic, macho action western thanks to cable and video, upon it's theatrical release in late August of 1991, it opened at # 7 with a paltry gross of $2.2 million on it's way to a wimpy $7.4 million total. That would put it behind other 1991 actioners like Stone Cold, The Perfect Weapon, Van Damme's Lionheart and Double Impact. Rourke would take a hiatus from acting to embark on a short lived boxing career while Johnson would return to headline another popular TV series, Nash Bridges, after subsequent film roles did little to raise his profile. Director Simon Wincer would find solace in television as well, directing 6 episodes of George Lucas' Young Indiana Jones series and striking box office gold with boy meets whale hit Free Willy.
Until next time, keep squeezing, not jerking, those triggers and remember: it's better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool. See you at the video store...that no longer exist...