John Wick versus The Equalizer

This post started out as a joke, John Wick and The Equalizer walk into a bar… Then the question turned into a conversation about what would happen if Wick and McCall met? Of course, it turned into juvenile discussions on Wick’s fighting abilities and what McCall used in the room, unfortunately never a pencil. While Wick rolled on the ground with one of his soon to be victims McCall would stop the timer on his watch and figure out how long it took him to put his guys away. Because Hollywood has a lack of interest in anything that doesn’t involve cocaine, I doubt we will ever see a John Wick/ McCall crossover in the future, our only hope would be some form of fan fiction and that is never good.
Between the two movies I have to admit a fondness for both. I enjoy Reeves learning the techniques he will use in the movies to make the scenes look as real as possible. As for McCall I understand that Denzel also trained in military combat arts in order to fill his role. McCall rarely uses a gun but he is familiar with them. Wick on the other hand is picky about his choices and suits up before battle.
Both men have a tale of lost love haunting their past. While McCall has been struggling with the loss of his wife for years, Wick is pulled back into his former life only days after his wife’s funeral. I’m sure that finding his dog dead lead to some form of PTSD that he can only work through with a body count.
McCall I would have to say is the thinking man’s action hero. Working through the 100 books to read before you die, McCall has the mind of a philosopher not only helping himself but the people that he meets along the way, a one-man A-team.
John Wick appears to be an educated man, one who was raised by Russian mobsters to become a killing machine. There is no telling what he did during retirement, if he furthered his education or if he left his talents slip in an attempt to have a normal life. The closest we have seen John come to reading a book was when he beat a man to death at a library.
McCall lives by a code, the way of the warrior or a code of chivalry, take your pick. Even though he faked his death he can’t help himself in bettering the lives of those around him. McCall willingly chose to come out of retirement while Wick was pulled back in out of revenge.
One could say that their talents are equal but I would have to put my money on McCall, the one-man killing machine who uses whatever is in the room at the time. Unfortunately, the fight would end in a stalemate, or never happen at all. John kills those that are trying to kill him and McCall only acts when he is being attacked. Since both men are civilized and have no reason to fight one another the closest we would ever come to seeing the two of them fighting is a conversation at a bar where John has a glass of whiskey and McCall enjoys some tea.
It’s disappointing to see that the Equalizer doesn’t have the following that Wick has. There is no telling if a third movie will ever be made. We can go to the books for something to keep us interested but overall the books are completely different from the movies and to be frank, they are not good in content or literary skill. They read like a sterile medical report, only stating the facts and using details that are not needed for shock value. Denzel’s portrayal of the Equalizer is the only form we have and the closest we can come to enjoying this character even more is to look into his reading list which most people agree doesn’t exist. One such list was found online but after the sequel came out it became apparent that McCall was going by a list that doesn’t exist. Between the World and Me was showcased in the movie and doesn’t appear on any list with the previous books that were discussed. The best a fan can do is read what appears in the movies and go from there. Who knows if anyone was able to track the books on his shelf in the first movie and make their own list?
When it comes to the coolness factor Wick wins hands down, but not because of Wick but the world in which he lives in. If you are a nerd and want your own action hero then McCall is the choice for you. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on McCall for the better fighter. His appearance makes you underestimate him, dressed like your grandpa working as a greeter to your local Walmart, no one would expect McCall to be able to kill an active shooter with a clipboard and a nametag but we all know that he would. In the end the Equalizer is the thinking man’s action hero and therefore the superior star between the two.

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John Wick 3: redefining action movies

The following article will contain spoilers and my thoughts on certain scenes within the movie. If you have not seen it yet, what the hell are you waiting for? That includes you Tai.
The opening scene starts out where Wick 2 left off, John has less than an hour to prepare for a 14-million-dollar contract to be opened on him and every assassin in the world wanting a piece of the reward. A checkered cab picks him up from the street like the one from Taxi Driver, the DeNiro movie with an odd ball character who knows John. Wick’s dog is taken to the Continental to stay as a guest and Wick is dropped off at the library to pick up an emergency stash. A book about Russian folktales contains the items he will need to push him through the rest of the film. Wick comes face to face with a man who thinks he can honor the contract early only to pay the price for jumping ahead in line. To say that the man was tall is an understatement. More like a white Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the man is slow and tries to use his reach to kill Wick but that turns into a huge disadvantage. It is clear that John knows how to do more with a book than read.
We learn a bit about john when he goes to visit the Russian side of the mob. The guards demand all of his weapons including his belt, this ends up playing a role later. It becomes clear that John was an orphan raised to be an asset to the mob, the women trained in ballet and the boys are practicing Judo and Sambo. Wick cashes in a ticket and is branded for life to never return to his home.
In Casablanca Wick meets up with someone who it isn’t clear what her ties to him in the past is. Not likely a former lover, Berry aids Wick in meeting with her boss, the man who creates the gold coins that is used for currency. Berry has two trained German shepherds and these dogs are weapons no different from the guns and blades they carry. Berry turns on her own boss after he shoots her dogs, something that doesn’t turn out well for anyone who harms a canine. The boss isn’t killed but she leaves him with something to remember after the dog already mangled his family jewels.
There is a spiritual aspect to Wick’s journey. He goes out into the desert to seek the man who started it all in order to make amends. After being found half dead Wick awakes in a tent and sees the man he was looking for. In order to save his life, he has to pledge his loyalty to the Elder and only work for him the rest of his life. To seal the deal Wick cuts off his ring finger and offers it, plus his wedding ring, to the Elder. While this is a Japanese tradition it is for some reason used in the desert with an Arab figure. The first contract Wick has to fulfill is Winston, the man who runs the Continental in New York.
While Wick is trying to save his own life, other people are finding their positions threatened by the High Table, the group who runs the assassin operation world-wide. Winston is having the Continental taken from him and the head of the Burrows, the underground group run by Lawrence Fishburne, is losing their king for handing a gun to Wick in the second film. Clearly mistakes are made and before taking care of the Wick problem the High Table decide that everyone is to be held accountable at the same time, creating alliances they should have expected.
Don “the dragon” Wilson plays a character named Zero who’s hero it turns out is Wick. Why you would send an assassin to kill his hero is beyond me. Zero’s men and himself have several opportunities to kill Wick throughout the film and don’t treating the job like a game. Two of Zeros men are played by Malaysian martial artist best known for the Raid movies and in one scene with motorcycles they try to kill Wick using Katanas like a scene out of Kill Bill. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that Wick 3 is unoriginal because they do have their own take to the scenes that still leave you breathless in the end.
Keanu gives a nod to the Matrix movies when the Continental is under siege and it is up to him and the staff to fight off an army sent to kill them all. “I need guns, lots of guns.” Wick arms himself in the old way and finds that he is not prepared for men with full body armor. Wick and the Host go back to the armory and pick out shotguns with armor piercing rounds to do the job.
The mirrored room comes back for Game of Death but with a three-dimensional, three story, room of glass. The tricks are different here, the men acting more like ninjas and they play games with Wick not killing him when they have several opportunities. After a long fight Zero is finally killed and looks to Wick for acceptance at a good killer. “That was a good fight wasn’t it?”
In the end Wick learns who his true friends are when Winston appears to kill Wick on the roof in order to get control of the Continental back. One can be led to believe that this was preplanned. Wick’s body disappears and he is saved by Fishburne for what is a clear motive of revenge.
There are several Easter Eggs hidden in the film making it something to watch several times over in search of all of them. The belt comes into play when Wick removes it from his pants to fight two men at the same time like Jet Li in Fist of Legend. While I could go on, I hope that you will take the time to find them for yourself.
John Wick 3 might be one of the best action movies so far made during this century and with so many failing to do more than blow stuff up and have crappy dialogue it was a breath of fresh air. I would like to point out that in the past couple of years this was the only one I went to watch in the theaters with everything else being brought home on DVD and mostly likely falling asleep to. I hope Wick turns into Keanu’s Zatoichi.

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Finding the Symbolism in John Wick

If you were fortunate enough to see John Wick Chapter 2 this weekend there might have been a few things that stood out to you if you are an action movie fan. One of the side effects of seeing this movie is finding yourself pulling out old exercise equipment and practicing a few moves you might have learned from a martial arts class you took decades ago. There is good reason for this and it is the mythology the movie used to play to the ideology of men.

After the initial scene where John finally gets his car back, nothing like trying to tie up a few loose ends from the first movie, we find John still mourning the loss of his wife. While he is retired from the business he is brought back due to a favor he owes a man that he doesn’t want to owe. The task is one that John doesn’t want to take and in the end the job is done for him. After completing the mission a contract is put out for John and he is on the run while trying to kill the man that pulled him back in. It is during this portion of the movie we start to see the mythology of the character start to come out, or as they like to call it these days, the Easter eggs.

The first job takes place in the roman colosseum, with some of the scenes taken directly from the Bruce Lee movie The Way of the Dragon (or Return of the Dragon for those not familiar with the original titles) where Bruce fights Chuck Norris, an equal opponent in martial arts. There is more to it in John Wick, who has to fight a small army while trying to escape, using a mix of Judo and gun fighting skills to reach safety. It is at this point John is a black belt in his field. He is the man that knows all the tricks and has become one of the best in his field, but like any black belt that doesn’t mean his journey is over. Like the road of the artist they must learn everything for their art before they can get really creative. Keep in mind John is an artist.

Then there was the subway scene, taking us back to the Matrix movies and reminding us where we have seen this version of Keanu reeves before. It was times like this where I wondered if John Wick was just a continuation of the Matrix movies, Neo plugged into a world where Trinity is still dead and he tries to forget the life he lived before. To feed into this theory Laurence Fishburne appears as the leader of an underground clan whose headquarters is located underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We have seen this before in the movie Johnny Mnemonic, another Keanu Reeves action film from the 1990s. At this point, John Wick is forced to prove his abilities by trying to kill his target with only seven bullets in his gun, a play on numerology and the importance of the number seven. Of course, the bullets don’t last and he is forced to steal the weapons of the men he kills much like Bruce Lee had to change styles in his movie The Game of Death. Unlike The Game of Death, the fight scene ends in a mirrored room, changing films to Enter the Dragon, another Bruce Lee film. The final stage of John Wick’s transformation is having to fight himself, not being distracted by himself and his own image and killing his ego in order to reach his goal. The famous scene where Bruce Lee starts to smash the mirrors wasn’t because it was the only way to find his enemy but to kill the one thing holding him back in life and his enlightenment.

The woman he fights, a deaf assassin, was a nice homage to the Thai film Bangkok Dangerous, about a young man that over comes his disabilities and learns to become a proficient killer. Wick continues on and ends the confrontation by doing that which every martial artist must do in order to find themselves, he breaks the rules. He follows his own path and kills the man in the continental hotel. We learn about the untouchable safe zones in the first movie when Ms. Perkins tries to break the rules and is later killed when her membership to the continental is revoked. John does this knowing the repercussions and accepts his fate becoming the man on the run with a price on his head, or Caine from Kung Fu. The only question is, with his skills, do the rules still apply to him. How can he be deemed in violation of the rules if he is beyond the judgement of those that created him? This is the true start of John Wick, the ability to start over in uncharted territory where what he knew has been destroyed and he is free to write his own rule book as he moves along.

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