It’s Jim Brown’s birthday , and what better way to celebrate one of America’s greatest athletes of all time, who became a pioneering pop-icon after his Hall of Fame NFL career, than to check out two of his quintessential acting roles available via FilmOn’s free VOD service, One Down, Two To Go (1982) and Kid Vengeance (1977).
In One Down, we see Brown in his almost effortlessly bad-ass element. Working with old Three The Hard Way (1975) mates “Hammer” Fred Williamson (who also directs) and Kung-fu expert Jim Kelly, and with Shaft’s Richard Roundtree in the mix, Brown nevertheless carries most of his scenes with his immense and immaculate physical and mental presence.
Character toughs Joe Spinell (Godfather I and II, Strike Force, Farewell My Lovely, Maniac), Tom Signorelli (Kelly’s Heroes, Bang The Drum Slowly, Thief, The Cotton Club, Dick Tracy) and Ed O’ Ross (Full Metal Jacket, Lethal Weapon, Dick Tracy) provide worthy adversaries, and verité type shots of a Kung-fu tournament at the Meadowlands Arena and the proto-Sopranos surrounding neighborhood scenes lend a timeless gritty funk.
To see that Jim could kick-ass in another time and place entirely, check out Kid Vengeance. An early production by the team of Golan and Globus (Breakin’ films, Delta Force, Runaway Train), this film set in Israel could be called a “Matzo Western.”
Brown certainly provides the balls, as a cool prospector on the run from a number of fascinatingly disreputable characters that include the inimitable Lee Van Kleef (The ‘Bad’ in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Escape From New York), John Marley (the “Hollywood Producer” in The Godfather, John Cassavetes’ Faces), Timothy Scott (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Love Me Deadly, Days of Heaven) and Matt Clark (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Some Kind Of Hero, 42). Quentin Tarantino must have been watching a number of these scenes as Brown ends up teaming with a Justin Beiber of the 70’s, Leif Garrett, who is seeking revenge for the killing of his parents and the kidnapping of his sister by Kleef’s crew.
With a soundtrack by ’70s pulp composer demi-god Francisco de Masi (The Inglorious Bastards, Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone), this more than caps a night of celebration of Jim Brown, and if you catch a glimpse of Olympic bobsledding, you can flash on his performance as ‘Fireball’ in The Running Man (1987).
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