FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| John Sturges |||
John Sturges

Helming the “Magnificent Seven” should be reason enough, demonstrating that Sturges had the happy talent of taking what was considered strictly “male” oriented stories and making them sexy enough and humorous enough to appeal to female movie-goer as well.

Sturges takes this star-studded gunslinger film based on the Japanese favorite "The Seven Samurai", and makes it a bone fide all-American classic featuring Yul Brynner. At the request of Mexican peasants, Brynner recruits a band of fellow mercenaries, half of whom Sturges introduces as the next generation of action film super-stars including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen. Widescreen!

Sturges is responsible for what is renowned as one of the greatest war films ever made, featuring Steve McQueen and his unforgettably daring motorcycle jumps in the face of the enemy. Allied prisoners escape from a German POW camp in this superior effort, noted for a brilliant international cast and Elmer Bernstein's triumphant score. Widescreen!

This day in the life of a stranger in an isolated town has since been done to death, and this is why. In the hands of a lesser director the talents of this exceedingly manly cast (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan) would otherwise overwhelm this compelling drama with a prejudice theme, but Sturges is able to maintain a firm grasp of the reigns, keeping his actors this side of mellow drama. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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You Got Served

By BrianOrndorf

January 30th, 2004

The hip-hop dance sequences in “You Got Served,” the new urban dance drama are thumping, exciting, and fun to watch. Too bad the rest of the film is positively hip-hopeless.


There’s a tradition in the dance films of the 80s and 90s, in that for every interesting scene of booty shaking, there must be at least twice as much clichéd and painful screenwriting to support it. With “Flashdance,” “Footloose,” and the two “Breakin’” films, the formula thrived to decent box office, and occasionally became cinema legend.

The tradition continues in the new decade with “You Got Served,” a highly energetic dance drama about covert dance competitions that sinks to mind-boggling depths of awfulness when the characters feel compelled to speak. Much like its cousin, the recent Jessica Alba misfire “Honey,” “Served” has this outlandish notion that the story is the real glue to the film’s success. Writer/director Christopher Stokes has plenty of great dance footage to work with, and, unlike “Honey,” the filmmaker seems to enjoy the rumbling thunder of the underground hip-hop nation of dance-offs, often letting the “crews” just do their thing without much obstruction. The movie does present an overtly urban storyline that is about as fictional as the dancing world depicted, including stogie-suckling crime lords, “big momma” type grandmothers, and the thematically desperate shooting of a 9 year-old to get the film to a climax. Oh, and the two leads of the film are well meaning DRUG COURIERS. Clearly, there’s not a lot to root for.

Whenever the film finds itself in a hole, Stokes cuts back to the dance footage, making the picture seem like a less depressing venture than it was before. The tightly choreographed routines are fun to watch, and they’re backed with a booming soundtrack that helps these propulsive sequences out immensely. It’s a wonder why Stokes just didn’t cut out the Ebonics-heavy dialog (which actress Jennifer Freeman has a hard time with, much to the delight of the audience I attended the screening with) and afterschool special material that clogs up the momentum of his film, and just showcase the dances on their own. But I guess I shouldn’t expect the director of “House Party 4” to have that kind of foresight.

“You Got Served” is borderline racist (all the Caucasian characters are designated as pure evil right away), the acting atrocious (by such “thespians” as Raz B, Lil’ Fizz, and J-Boog), and Stokes has a borderline grip on what making a movie is all about. But all that is silenced once the dancing begins, and it’s hard to deny a mighty power like that.

My rating: C