For two-and-a-half decades, America's Most Wanted has given our nation's airwaves one mission: awareness. The hourlong program has taken to the small screen week after week, devoted to informing audiences about an insuperably important issue facing our country. The issue of leather jackets.
It was announced on Thursday that the long-running series — broadcast by Fox and its subsidiaries from 1988 through 2011, and then picked up by Lifetime later that year — has been canceled, setting to rest once and for all host John Walsh's drive to aid in the apprehension of dangerous criminals, and his far more ambitious endeavor of enlightening the masses unto the varied world of leather jacket ownership.
RELATED: Barbara Walters May Be Retiring
America's Most Wanted has aired over 1,100 episodes, has assisted in the capture of over 1,200 fugitives, and has featured a ceaseless catalogue of rawhide autumn wear. While the show has masqueraded as a vehicle for public safety, its true motives have always been the showcase of the versatilities of the bovine epidermis.
Walsh, via the various constituents of his multi-acre wardrobe, has exhibited the full range of the human psychology: In his darker full-grains, Walsh has represented the grainy, volatile culture in which we are forced to survive, against all odds. With his sleek suedes, Walsh transmitted the sensitivity to individual tragedy, a stronghold to our humanity despite the evolutionary compulsion to gow hard and jagged. And through his top grade nubucks, Walsh reminded us to be the best we can be — to stop at nothing to help our fellow man persevere.
The vast cosmos of the leather jacket: the true mission statement of America's Most Wanted.
RELATED: 'Time' Magazine Sexes Up Same-Sex Marriage
In all sincerity, the country says goodbye to a heroic project with the cancelation of Walsh's series. A dedicated activist ever since the tragic murder of his own young son, Walsh has provided the country with a unifying, informative, genuinely invaluable service via America's Most Wanted. How Walsh will continue to enact his passion for human safety has yet to be determined, but we can trust that he will not be putting his calling to rest any time soon, cancelation or not.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage; AP Photo/FOX; Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]
You Might Also Like:Topanga's Revealing Lingerie Shoot: Hello '90s! 13 Most WTF Fan Tributes
Minor spoilers for Premium Rush to follow.
Most action movies rely on an over-the-top MacGuffin — a memory stick with lists of undercover agents, a briefcase packing nuclear warhead codes, some wacky object from outer space that could result in humanity's demise — but like everything in the biker thriller Premium Rush, the thing everyone wants is personal. $50,000 represented by a paper ticket, a token Nima (Jamie Chung) hopes will get her son out of China but that corrupt cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) sees as his way out of debt with the Chinese mob.
Writer/director David Koepp has constructed his fair share of fantastical worlds (he's the screenwriter behind Jurassic Park and Spider-Man), but at the core of his stories are a researched realities. Premium Rush continues the trend with its exploration of biker culture, but even more fascinating is the short glimpse of an real life underbelly of New York City. Detective Monday's back room gambling exploits could have been a throwaway moment in the cycle-race-against-time chase movie, but instead, Koepp briefly pulls back the curtain on a real life parlor game that continues to be the competition of choice in modern Chinatown. You won't find secret Texas Hold'em games populating underground casinos. Instead, it's all about Pai Gow.
Koepp shows off the traditional Chinese betting game in all its fast-paced glory, laying out the scene with an understanding of the game that gives it authenticity, but without ever holding the audience's hand. The execution is a display of great filmmaking prowess, but it also prompts a simple question: How does the game work? Pai Gow's mechanics are similar to Blackjack, with swift action and equally rapid wins and losses. Two to eight players take on a banker and vie for the best hands, comprised of dominos with various number combinations. Each player receives four dominos to form two hands, the goal to strategically pair the tiles to form a high hand and a low hand. In this way it's like Stud poker — take what you get and hope for the best.
Monday loses massive amounts of cash in very little time because of sloppy betting and bad hands. In Pai Gow, there are four outcomes to each round. If the player's high hand is higher than the banker's and his low is lower and, he or she wins; If the player's high and low hands both fly under/over the banker's hand, he or she loses; If the player is able to win one hand and not the other, the round is a push and no one wins or loses anything. A little more thinking and a little less rage on the part of Monday probably could have helped him salvage a bit of his money.
Making Pai Gow a bit more complicated is the ranking system of the tiles. Unlike in most card games, the dominos in Pai Gow aren't taken at face value. The combinations of the 32 different tiles (which include 21 number combinations and 11 duplicates) are named and ranked. Two dominos with sixes on both side are called "Teens;" a pair including a one-four/two-three combination is referred to as "Chop Ng. The various other combinations all have their own moniker, but more importantly, they have their own ranking one through 16 that decide which pairs are high hands and which are low hands. Thus, a person can't step into a Pai Gow game with only the ability to count domino dots.
There's plenty of strategy involved with playing and betting in Pai Gow (entire books and websites have dedicated themselves to making sense of it all) and like most casino games, savvy owners are always looking to complicate it even more. In Premium Rush, we see the Pai Gow players rolling dice, an element of the game that randomizes the distribution of the tile stacks. It's like the Othello motto: "a minute to learn but a lifetime to master."
Watching real Pai Gow unfold is one thing, but Koepp gets it right when he suggests that illegal Pai Gow rings are a problem of today. Just this past May, New York City police took down a major gambling operation in Chinatown. A six-story building was raided by cops and the official report from the NYPD acknowledged that it was an on-going issue for the neighborhood:
...during the course of at least the last two years, the building has consistently hosted a group of illegal gambling operators offering various gambling options, including pai gow poker and computer-based slot machine games, in nearly half of the building's suites. The building itself has been modified to accommodate these gambling operations, including the creation of a ground floor slots room hosting computers dedicated to slot machine games and the installation of surveillance cameras throughout areas of the building dedicated to gambling.
Premium Rush is an over-the-top stunt movie, but it successfully flies by the seat of its pants thanks to a foundation of reality. Sometimes in a movie, it's the little things. In the case of Premium Rush, it's Pai Gow.
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures, Yellow Mountain Imports]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Koepp Talk 'Premium Rush' and the Star's 32 New Stitches
'Premium Rush' Stuntman on the Death-Defying Lifestyle of Bike Messengers
No, You Can't Fasten Your Seat Belt: Movie Chase Scenes with Odd Vehicles
The Academy Award nominee, who was previously married to Bond star Sir Sean Connery, passed away at Australia's Cairns Base Hospital after a lengthy battle with ill health.
Gow, a close friend of the actress, reveals Cilento was in good spirits during a meal at the weekend (01-02Oct11) before her health deteriorated.
He tells ABC News, "She was a performer to the end, and she put on a great display for all the guests at that dinner.
"She kept us all hugely entertained until the day before (she died), when she just couldn't manage anymore and we took her to hospital."
Idi Amin was the ruthless dictator of the African nation of Uganda throughout much of the 1970s. He was ultimately blamed for thousands upon thousands of deaths (some estimates place the death toll in the hundreds of thousands) during his tenure. The Last King of Scotland is a fictionalized version of Amin’s (Forest Whitaker) reign of terror. Giddy after graduating from med school in Scotland Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) randomly picks Uganda to be his first post-college destination. When he gets there the locals are abuzz after the new leader has been sworn in and vows to right all that is wrong with the country. After a chance encounter with Amin Garrigan bears witness to his dichotomous personalities as the ruler goes from threatening to charming on a whim. Amin is so taken with the young doctor--and vice versa--that he invites Garrigan to become his personal physician. A doctor-patient relationship leads to close friendship and before long Garrigan is the very center of the dictator’s inner circle. And not long thereafter he learns that there is no worse place to be. For over 20 years now we’ve all bore witness to Whitaker’s mastery of acting. His choices have been eclectic and his performances consistently great but it’s always been a case of “And oh Forest Whitaker’s great too.” Until now. Whitaker makes what can only be described as an earthquake of an entrance. It’s clear in the movie when Amin will first appear and yet the actor still manages to catch us off-guard. Amin’s manic personalities are child’s play for Whitaker but he never has fun with it which is where other actors might have gone overboard. He is now leading the race for the Best Actor Oscar too. Not that the supporting players are too shabby though. McAvoy's (The Chronicles of Narnia) Garrigan is actually the heart of the story allowing for more screen time than Whitaker and the Scotsman soaks up every second. He sticks out like a sore thumb in the film but not only because he’s from the opposite side of the earth; it’s because McAvoy the actor makes sure to react differently to everything. In addition former X-File-r Gillian Anderson turns in a solid if short apperance--and you’ll be surprised how amazingly hot she is! Kerry Washington (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) as one of Amin’s countless neglected ex-wives is superb as well.
The contrast between Last King's first and second half is as night-and-day as Amin's personalities. In the first half director Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void) allows the story to simmer to the point of perfection; in the second half he gets sloppy as though in a rush to finish a different movie than the one he started. The ending also a mix of truth and fable (plucked from the highly acclaimed book by Giles Foden) quickly spirals towards its conclusion which is tough to watch for very different reasons. But prior to that--even at some points in the uneven second half--MacDonald paints a beautiful monster out of Amin. Maybe more importantly he paints a beautiful picture of African ambiance an indirect thank you to the Ugandan people that allowed unprecedented access to their country for the sake of Last King. Even with MacDonald's occasional blunders it's hard to deny the power of his film.
Go ahead and throw logic out the window on this one folks. A mysterious Tibetan monk with no name (Chow Yun-Fat) has spent a lifetime protecting an ancient document known as the Scroll of the Ultimate--a parchment that will yield unlimited power to anyone who reads it. After running around the globe for 60 years the Monk knows it's time to hang up his robes and find a new guardian but spotting a successor isn't easy in the hustle bustle of the 21st century where Tibetan traditions and rituals are almost non-existent. Maybe the next protector should be the crafty rebellious pickpocket Kar (Seann William Scott) who learned martial arts from watching kung-fu movies; after all Kar helps the Monk escape from the scroll's most avid pursuer Strucker (Karel Roden) a sadistic old Nazi who wants to use the its power to rid the planet of inferior races. Or maybe the Monk's successor is the elusive but beautiful bad girl Jade (James King) whose skills are numerous and who seems to pop up to help Kar whenever he gets in a jam. Whomever the Monk eventually chooses they must first unite to battle the ultimate enemy--and keep the scroll safe.
If it weren't for Yun-Fat Bulletproof Monk would be pretty hopeless. The charismatic actor finds a nice balance no matter what he does and in this case he resists the obvious temptation to play the Monk as a fish out of water in the big city. Since he's long been one of Chinese cinema's most well-known action heroes he's definitely in his element in Monk standing on top of a car with guns blazing and the Zen master persona he discovered in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon serves him well here too. The script requires him to spout off fortune-cookie mumbo jumbo but he manages to do it without sounding ridiculous. The petite King actually holds her own as the brawny-yet-brainy tough chick but the wisecracking Scott is completely out of his element for the first time in his career. He handles the little comedic tidbits well but in no way is it possible to believe that the "Dude" who couldn't find his car and the jackass who drank someone else's bodily fluids in American Pie can be a martial arts hero who saves the planet. It just isn't going to happen.
Bulletproof Monk relies on the ghosts of movies past including Crouching Tiger and the 1986 Eddie Murphy stinker The Golden Child for its plot which results in a film that's chock full of cliches especially the evil Nazi who has spent 60 years chasing after the scroll using his tow-headed granddaughter whose cover is an organization for human rights to do the dirty work. A few bright moments with Yun-Fat coupled with director Paul Hunter's good use of fast-paced martial arts action make the rest of this unimaginative movie somewhat palatable--even novices Williams and King look good doing the moves--but all in all Bulletproof Monk is shooting blanks.