Gordon and the Whale: One Year Later

Time flies when you’re havin’ a time. It’s been a little more than a year since GATW shut down. A wild, weird, and wonderful year. Someone up there likes us, because everyone seems to have moved on to bigger (and perhaps better) things. 

I reached out to the editors of GATW and asked them to update the good folks of the Internet on what they are up to these days (great news: nobody is dead). Below are sites and other wondrous places where you can find each of the GATW editors’ new and exciting adventures. And even though we’ve all moved on, we’ll always share this: we love movies deeply, passionately, unabashedly.

From GATW’s Managing Editor, Kate Erbland:

Since the departure of the Good Ship Gordon and the Whale one year ago, former Managing Editor Kate Erbland is now slinging words about cinema for Film School Rejects (as Associate Editor) and MSN Movies’ The Hitlist (as Contributing Writer). She has continued to cover a number of festivals, including Sundance, SXSW, LAFF, and AFI FEST and has penned additional reviews for Boxoffice Magazine. She’s still never walked out on a movie and doesn’t plan on starting anytime soon.

Kate is now a member of the Online Film Critics Society, Rotten Tomatoes, and Indiewire’s Criticwire.

From GATW’s Soundtrack Editor, Allison Loring:

Since the little ship that could, GATW, disbanded last year I have taken my music and film loving heart over to Film School Rejects and have been penning the column “Aural Fixation” which focuses on the use of music in film and has allowed me to interview some of my heroes – Clint Mansell, Cliff Martinez (twice!), and Nathan Johnson. Since becoming an official “reject,” I have also been able to continue covering some of my favorite film festivals from the Los Angeles Film Festival to AFI FEST to Sundance. And when I find myself with something to say on the television or female viewpoint side of things, I have found outlets through both Reel Vixen and Cineboobs. GATW was my first writing home and much like when you graduate from college, I have always felt like it gave me the skills, confidence, and relationships to help me take my love of music and film beyond conversations with friends to an ever growing forum out there on the interwebs.

Allison is now a member of Indiewire’s Criticwire.

From GATW’s News Editor, Joshua Brunsting

What a wild, and truly crazy, 365 days. The past year has been a big one for your faithful former News Editor, in that not only have things at my home The CriterionCast become even bigger than one could have imagined, but I’m now happily married! The old ball and chain and I tied the knot in early October, and it’s been great. As far as writing, this guy is still working hard at making Criterion Cast the home for fans of arthouse, foreign and classic cinema, reviewing the best current theatrical releases, new home video releases, while also digging through various outlets to review the best that cinema history has to offer. Also a member of the Online Film Critics Society, things are looking up. Only wish my GATW family could be part of it all. I miss them all, and I miss the readers. You guys made the long run I had on the site, and the long run the site itself made, some of the happiest times for me, and the entire crew. 

From GATW’s Senior Editor, James Wallace:

After reemerging from a month-long drunken stupor of sadness, binging on nothing but Jack Daniels, choco tacos and Golden Girls reruns, due to the unfortunate closing of Gordon and the Whale, I had to have my “phoenix from the ashes” moment. I knew I had to find new places to do all the things I loved doing at GATW - reviews, interviews, editorials, hosting live film-centric events. And however hard that was to imagine doing elsewhere without my GATW film family, I knew I had to move on if I wanted my passion to thrive and survive. And so I went out into the world, more experienced, more bearded, and hopefully a little bit wiser about the craft, to find new outlets. I ended up kind of bouncing around at a few sites like First Showing and Twitch Film - both of which I am honored to write the occasional thing for or do the occasional interview for, considering these are the very outlets we looked up to when we we’re growing Gordon and the Whale. I also found homes for my writing/interviews with a few local outlets, including the legendary Dallas Observer alt weekly and most recently Central Track, where as their newly minted staff film critic I am heading up a recently rolled out film section of the locally-focused lifestyle site (if there’s an outlet with a tight knit, encouraging group of writers open to new ideas and alternative content that fills that void left by GATW, CT is it). 

But with homes for my writing and interviews, that left one role as former Managing Editor homeless…and that was hosting live events, something I grew to love and took quite a bit of ownership in my days at GATW. And thus, I started IHeartCinema.net - a site that exists to connect movie lovers with cinematastic events (and other movie lovers) in their given cities. Just over a year old and now hosting advance screenings, Q&As, film festivals, and basically any live event related to film in over 15 cities and growing, it’s nice to have a site to call my own. 

However, no matter what I do and no matter who I go on to do things for, I will never forget that Gordon and the Whale is what started it all. And more importantly, I’ll never forget the memories we created, the amazing group of writers we got to create them with, all while hopefully having a few of you readers join us on our crazy journey atop a whale in this cinematic sea. Chase & Rusty taking a chance on a kid with stars in his eyes right out of college was truly life changing for me and I don’t know if I’d be in the same place I am now without Gordon and the Whale. And so I am eternally grateful.

I always said this about the site: if ever there was a real life version of The Goonies, for me, it was Gordon and the Whale. And Goonies never say die.

From GATW’s Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Chase Whale:

Once Team GATW decided to swim in new, different directions, I briefly worked as a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. I now live in Los Angeles in an over-priced, small apartment where people defecate on the sidewalk within eyeshot (don’t believe the flimflam—L.A. is awesome!). You can currently find my written mumbo jumbo on Twitch Film, Next Movie, Film.com, Film Threatand We Got This Covered. Recently, I interviewed my childhood hero, Jean-Claude Van Damme, where he showed me his signature roundhouse kick. Bam. Kick. Pow. 

I also have a job managing social network portfolios for high-profile people. This job can only be described as “awesome.” I’m a *big, bad Hollywood guy now but still miss my Mama, friends, and family back in Texas. 

My film reviews can also be found on Rotten Tomatoes and Indiewire’s Criticwire

*shameless emotional exhibitionist 


It’s been an uphill battle for Universal Soldier to get a proper franchise off the ground ever since the original garnered much success in 1992. The star, and reason why my heart still beats, Jean-Claude Van Damme, did not return for the two followed sequels, which were made for TV. (It’s important you know Gary Busey and Burt Reynolds took his place, respectively.) Nine years later, JCVD returned to the franchise for Universal Soldier: The Return, in hopes of rebooting the franchise. It failed at the box office and all hope was lost in humanity (to the 16-year-old me, at least).

Van Damme didn’t have a lot of luck after the late nineties – his films faced the kiss of death and all went straight-to-DVD. In 2008, he made a triumphant return as himself in an unapologetic and sweet self-mockery of his career movie called JCVD (he was robbed of an Oscar nomination. ROBBED.). Ten years had passed since we last saw him in a Universal Soldier movie, and since Van Damme was back on everyone’s radar, he gave the series another shot with Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Dolph Lundgren even returned to fill the fanboy excitement. This film did not have the impact everyone hoped. There was a warm fire to it, however, and Van Damme re-teamed with Regeneration’s director John Hyams to make a fourth installment called Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. This ambitious film takes the franchise in a whole new direction, trading out boring redundant fight scenes with fresh, stylized violence, and roundhouse kicks to fanboy glory. Day of Reckoning is the Universal Soldier follow up we’ve been anxiously waiting for since the release of the original.

In Day of Reckoning, JCVD is back and so is Lundgren (Andrew Scott just. Won’t. Stay. Dead.). Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski returns to wreak havoc as well. Reckoning is being referred to as a quasi-sequel to Regeneration, and that’s because in the latter, we learn that instead of reanimating dead soldiers, the government has just been cloning the original Universal Soldiers; Andrew Scott (Lundgren) happened to be one of them.

In Reckoning, a new, equally psychotic Scott returns (another clone, if I’ve lost you), and has finally joined forces with his nemesis, Luc Deveraux (JCVD). Here’s why: Deveraux has gone mad and is now an evil son-of-a-bitch hell bent on taking over the government, one soldier at a time, dead or alive. He covers his bald head in warpaint and uses a serum to brainwash meathead soldiers to join his side. The lion-hearted Deveraux we once knew is now forever gone. When Psycho’s Anthony Perkins once famously said in 1960, “We all go a little mad, sometimes,” he was obviously talking about Luc Deveraux. But, I guess if you trick yourself into believing this one’s a clone, it softens the blow.

This go-around, our focus isn’t on Deveraux or Scott, but on fresh blood John, played by Scott Adkins (Undisputed IIIThe Expendables 2). In the first scene of the film, John’s wife and daughter are brutally murdered right before his very eyes. The man responsible is Deveraux himself. After a nine month nap that’s clinically called a coma, John awakens and sets out to find out why this happened to him – he can only remember so much. Throughout his journey of I-need-some-goddamn-answers, he is plagued by memories of his deceased family and the man responsible for their deaths.

The excitement of this film boils down to Hyams. He tossed out all of the bullshit he used in his first attempt at a Universal Soldier film and made an incredible, intense cyberpunk action film that would make Nicolas Winding Refn crack a smile. Hyams traded in boring fast cuts and close-up kicks and punches for carefully stylized violence. He’s come a long way since Regeneration.

It was also a smart move to give Adkins the lead role. He’s credible enough to lead a film and his fans would agree he should be a bigger movie star than he currently is. It’s a shame, but Scott has learned to really bring out the punches in every film he’s in. His fighting in Reckoning is a slow burn and we don’t get to see much of it until almost the very end. This is actually a brilliant (and courageous) move from Hyams. It gives Adkins room to actually act (which he is exceptional at, by the way) and when it comes time for him to do what he does best (beat the shit out of people and look awesome while doing it), he does not disappoint. This is a treat for fans both new and old.

Even though we don’t get much of Van Damme or Lundgren, that’s OK, because Hyams has fearlessly taken the franchise in a whole new direction and pulls it off admirably. This could very well be the start of a fresh new and much deserved successful franchise for Universal Soldier.

Originally published on Film Threat.

Q&A: Jean-Claude Van Damme Kicks It With Us, Talks Villainy, Sequels & Remakes

Being a villain is hardly new territory for Jean-Claude Van Damme: He started his career as the bad guy in “No Retreat, No Surrender” and “Black Eagle.” Then, good fortune came his way and he was cast in a little movie called, “Bloodsport.” The rest is history.

A few days ago, we went round-for-round with the Muscles from Brussels himself, JCVD, to discuss his role as the rogue in Sylvester Stallone’s new male pattern badness adventure, "The Expendables 2."

Not only does JCVD talk about the upcoming “Bloodsport” remake, “Double Impact 2,” and the signature roundhouse kicks he performs in “The Expendables 2,” he gets up, moves furniture and shows with passionate detail how his kicks are done and why they work. Nothing ever prepares you for moments like this.

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Welcome back to the big screen. We’ve missed you a lot.
Thank you sir. I don’t know if [“The Expendables 2”] is going to help me but what do you think?

I want it to. But I have “Bloodsport” framed at my house.
You never know in Hollywood. They’re going to do a remake of “Bloodsport.”

Yeah that’s the rumor.
The guy who wrote “Taken” is writing and the producer is [Ed] Pressman. I want to be in the film as a trainer and I don’t think the writer wants [me] to.

His loss, man.
Nah, he knows that “Bloodsport” is a big film so he wants to get credit with all of that, you know what I’m saying? Like Will Smith, for example, was smart to [cast] Jackie Chan [in “Karate Kid 2010”] — it’s kind of cool. When I did the first “Bloodsport,” it was an independent company and [they] didn’t want bankruptcy so they sold the title all over the place — 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 “Bloodsports”  — the remake, I would love to be in. It’s kind of painful but maybe they’ll change their minds. That would be great because I can still kick better than anybody here today.

Let’s talk about that. In “The Expendables 2” you do your signature roundhouse kick. As you’re getting older, do you find it difficult or do you feel like you’ve still got it?
Here was the deal, because of the age and everything, they told me, “Don’t worry, we’re going to cover you well. You’re going to jump and we’ll do a cut.” And I told them, “But guys, let me do the full kick.” They were kind of surprised that I could still do it and I said, “Yeah, it’s the same as before. I’m going to try.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme in "The Expendables 2"

I [have been] doing it at the gym so I warmed up with the Bengay and everything and I stretched before the kick. And then I did my full kick the first time … I wanted to go a little more snappy and then I did it [again] the second time and it was no problem. You know that roundhouse kick. And then I have another kick [in the film] and it was like one shot. And then I [needed to do] ADR in Belgium and I’ve got Stallone on the phone and I said, “Sly, I don’t get it … I spent all of that time to do that kick and I asked those guys to put one angle so you can see the full kick like in “Bloodsport.” All we see is like me going like this.” [At this point, Van Damme gets up to pantomime the kick he’s referring to].

From the foot touching the knife. It’s like “BOOM!” and me landing. So I said to Sly, “What are you doing?” And he said “Let me go check in the cutting room,” because he was busy doing another movie. Then he sent me an email saying, “It’s arranged.” I haven’t seen the movie but basically I throw a knife in the air, Scott [Adkins] catches the knife. As soon as the knife was in the air, I didn’t even wait and I did the famous roundhouse kick.

Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Technically “JVCD” was your big return, but “Expendables 2” is your big return to the action genre. Did you have any hesitations with playing a villain for your comeback or were you just like, “Let’s do it”?
I said, “Let’s do it.” I said to Sly, “What about me playing the villain?” … My father told me, “Be an Expendable, don’t try this and that,” and I said, “Dad, I want to be a villain again.” … Sly loved the idea of me being the villain. But I know it’s only one time, right? So, I don’t know the outcome. Hopefully the studio will like it but that’s what I wanted to do.

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in the action genre since you first started?
The technical came in — the CGI, the cables, all of that stuff. … With action, you have to be physical because, if you’re not, how can you do it? … With “The Expendables,” we have those groups of people who build their career like that, with those physical moves, without CGI and this and this and that … One film like that every two years where the action stars are going [at it] like the old times — that’s what I believe makes “The Expendables 2” special.

"The Expendables" franchise is a play on older action stars, that they still got "it" and they’re not going anywhere. Do you think there is a time when an action star should throw in the towel and pass the torch?
You know, you have to keep on going. It’s what we have inside of us that’s how we became famous, and it will never die. Look at Clint Eastwood for an example — he keeps on moving the best that he can, it’s great. Don’t give up. Plus we need that to have a nice life, I need to train. Sometimes I did have my life of the Rock ‘n’ Roll life. I fell down, I crashed and came back. Because of training every day or every other day depending on the traveling, the jet lag and everything, we can be this way. If I didn’t have that, I would be very depressed. If I don’t train for a week, I build toxins in my body and I sweat easily. It’s strange.

You’ve been immortalized  on screen as the hero and now you’re going to be immortalized as the villain. How does that feel?
It scares me. I directed a movie and that’s why I wasn’t able to be in “The Expendables.” We heard all types of [bogus gossip] stories - me and Jet Li fighting and all of that stuff; I’ve never even met Jet Li in my life. Hopefully we will meet in China because we might be doing a film together … But, I was cutting [the film I directed] and was responsible because I put my own money into that film and it’s a very strange movie. So [I didn’t do “The Expendables”] because I was busy cutting this film - we had to do additional shoots in Bulgaria and then I did a comedy called “Welcome to the Jungle”  — you have to see it, I play so dumb.

And then I starred in a film with Peter Hyams, the director of “Timecop,” who made me play a villain. But really a villain, like villain.  But I fight, you know when you fight you’re busy with your movement, so when you punch you go [shows how he punches] “BRUUUM!” and you go like “BAHM!” with grace. It was a great, great villain. So I’m doing three movies as a villain. Hopefully  I will not be categorized as a villain for the rest of my life [laughs].

Jean-Claude Van Damme in "Double Impact"
Stone Group Pictures

Picasso had his blue period - this is your villain period. Let’s go back to your “Double Impact” days. In an all-out brawl again, who would win in a fight Chad or Alex?

I was hoping you’d say Chad. He’s got the legs!
Yeah but Alex has the headbutt! “Mr. California, Mr. Silk underwear… BOOM!”

I have no franchise. I lost “Bloodsport,” “Lionheart,” I told you “Double Impact” [would be] a great franchise because today Chad would be like the guy in “JCVD” and Alex would be the guy like “The Expendables” and, with the experience with the acting, I came up with a great story set in Los Angeles. He’s playing a producer, making pictures with a big house behind him. Alex is gonna go on vacation and has some problems with the Triads. Why?  Because Chad went to Hong Kong and to get some money using [Alex’s] face, all of that bulls**t. Alex comes [to Los Angeles] to see Chad and he’s full of s**t, has a girl pregnant and she’s the sister of the big boss from South Central. It’s like “Double Impact” in Los Angeles.

That’s amazing.
Yeah, I wrote the script with a friend of mine, Sheldon. He did “Bloodsport” and “Double Impact” with me. Hopefully, somebody smart enough, like an agent or a producer, can put that back together … I’m excited about it, you know?

Originally posted on MTV’s NextMovie.com

JCVD: 'Double Impact 2' Script Is Written

"Double Impact" is arguably one of action legend Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best films, for two reasons: It’s got double the Van Dammage and another face-off against the great Bolo Yeung (who played his "Bloodsport" nemesis).

When we met JCVD last week, we took the opportunity to ask him about the “Double Impact” days — and Van Damme began to gush about the possibility of  a sequel.

"I wrote the script with a friend of mine Sheldon - He [co-wrote] "Bloodsport" and "Double Impact" with me," he told us. "Hopefully, somebody smart enough, like an agent or a producer, can put that back together…I’m excited about it, you know?"

One of the things Van Damme stressed was the lack of franchises in his career: “I have no franchise. I lost ‘Bloodsport,’ ‘Lionheart.’”

“‘Double Impact’ [would be] a great franchise,” he told us, explaining how he thinks his twin characters Chad and Alex might have evolved. “Today, Chad would be like the guy in ‘JCVD’ and Alex would be the guy like ‘The Expendables.’”

"I came up with a great story set in Los Angeles. [Chad] is a producer, making pictures with a big house behind him. Alex is gonna go on vacation and has some problems with the Triads. Why?  Because Chad went to Hong Kong and to get some loan money using [Alex’s] face, all of that bulls**t. And Alex comes [to Los Angeles] to see Chad and he’s full of s**t, has a girl pregnant, and she’s the sister of the big boss from South Central. It’s like ‘Double Impact’ in Los Angeles."

Van Damme did and still does have a franchise — the “Universal Soldier” series — but he did try to bring the original’s magic back with “Universal Solider: Regeneration.” Even Dolph Lundgren came back,  but the film still went straight-to-DVD. He’s just completed “Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning” with Lundgren (apparently Sgt. Andrew Scott will not stay dead.) and is slated for a November 30th theatrical release. It looks like his involvement in “The Expendables 2” is already starting to pay off.

Hopefully, we are going to Feel the Impact once more. Give us this, Hollywood.

Written on MTV’s NextMovie.com

Jean-Claude Van Damme: I Want To Be a Shidoshi in 'Bloodsport' Remake

Unless you’ve been stranded on an island somewhere remote, you already know the Mussels from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme, is set to make a comeback as an action star. In just a few weeks, you’ll be able to see him on the big screen — for the first time since his very first role in 1986, it’ll be (again) as the villain — in “The Expendables 2.”

We recently spoke with JCVD during his “Expendables” press tour, and before we worked through his feelings on being immortalized as a villain, we got a chance to discuss the “Bloodsport” remake. Internet rumors that Van Damme has the blues over the movie are true, it turns out.

"I want to be in the film as a trainer and I don’t think the writer wants [me] to … he knows that ‘Bloodsport’ is a big film so he wants to get credit with all of that — you know what I’m saying?"

Now, we understand why the writer might not want Van Damme in the picture — with JCVD involved, he would certainly steal a majority of the spotlight — but the idea of putting him as Frank Dux’s trainer  (originally played by Roy Chiao as Senzo Tanaka, whom he called Shidoshi) would really roundhouse kick up the movie’s buzz.

"When I did the first ‘Bloodsport,’" he told us, "it was an independent company and [they] didn’t want bankruptcy, so they sold the title all over the place - 2,3,4,5,6 ‘Bloodsports.’ The remake, I would love to be in it.  It’s kind of painful, but maybe they’ll change their minds. That would be great because I can still kick better than anybody here today."

You can’t argue with that. Hollywood, are you listening?

Follow Chase Whale on Twitter.