What the Hell is a DEADPOOL Anyway?

Late in the last millennium, 1991 to be precise, President Bush was at war in the Middle East, Street Fighter II was revolutionizing local arcade games and comic book publishing began an unprecedented boom. Unlike previous surges, the ‘90s comics boom had more to do with advances in print technology coupled with rampant hucksterism than any significant boost in the quality of writing or art. It was then that the exploding X-Men franchise would churn out yet another mutant anti-hero, much to the delight of insatiable fanboys.

Buggs Bunny dressed as a Red Ninja

In the tradition of spoofs, homages and outright rip-offs which make up the DNA of comics, Deadpool was first based on a DC Comics super assassin. Deathstroke the Terminator (not the Schwarzenegger cyborg) should be familiar to viewers of ARROW, the CW TV show. With even more guns and knives to complement the Spider-Man design scheme, writer Fabian Nicieza and many other successive writers characterized the mutant mercenary Deadpool as, in essence, Bugs Bunny. Evidently Bugs Bunny dressed as a red ninja sells.

Subscribe to Kung Fu Tai Chi magazineFirst-time director Tim Miller is earnest in his belief that audiences will also adore DEADPOOL’s CGI-enhanced slapstick violence of IMAX proportions. While not reaching the blood-soaked high watermark of 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014), DEADPOOL's R rating allows for gory gags to offset the rapid-fire self-referential comedic dialog. Throughout much of the movie, jokes prove to be many layers deep into insider knowledge, its humor only appreciable to the degree one knows and cares about the minutia of comic books, the Marvel film franchises and comic-book-movie geekery.

There is a love story at the bleeding heart of this movie, and it comes off as a dare to any of the girlfriends who've been brought to a showing as a Valentine's Day date. Sure, Morena Baccarin is a beauty to behold, but she remains a wish-fulfilling Mary Sue who few sensible dates would find interesting. The bromantic potential for this movie is more promising with T.J. Miller maintaining a Zen hilarity every time he's on screen. The animated mask helps accentuate Ryan Reynolds' acting, but even the astute listener will not catch all the dialogue, on those occasions when the laughter picks up. Expect a steady trickle of knowing chuckles instead, mostly in response to humor that is so of-the-moment it may no longer be funny once the DVD/Blu-Ray/Unrated version is released.


Punching Iron Balls or Punching, Kicking, Shooting & Stabbing

At least there is plenty of violence. Fight Coordinator and Martial Artist Philip J. Silvera continues to build the body of super-fight choreography he began with THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) and continues through the Netflix DAREDEVIL series. With a highly anticipated Season 2 scheduled for release this March, Silvera will have choreographed some of the comic world’s most iconic weapons: Thor's hammer, Daredevil's batons and Elektra's sai.

It's difficult to consider DEADPOOL's pair of Ninja swords iconic when two more comic-book-movie adaptations will feature swordswomen. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (May 2016) proves Bryan Singer's casting savvy with the inclusion of Nerd heart-throb Olivia Munn as psyblade-wielding telepathic ninja Psylocke. Later this summer shoot-em-up director David Ayer's SUICIDE SQUAD (August 2016) will include Katana played by Karate kata champion Karen Fukuhara, who joined the cast in achieving their yellow belts in Kenpo Karate while training for the film.

Foregoing the yellow belts entirely, Miller and Silvera turn to their villains to bring verisimilitude to boss battles. Fresh from an attempt at jumpstarting the stalled TRANSPORTER franchise, Ed Skrein plays head bad guy also known as Ajax. Playing his "heavy" is none other than Gina Carano in the role of Angel Dust. She occasionally makes punching a 7' 5" 500 lb. steel CGI Colossus believable.

Ryan Renolds and Morena Baccarin in DEADPOOL


From Crush to Angel Dust

The main reason DEADPOOL qualifies for review in KungFuMagazine.com is Gina Carano. She was the pioneering face of Women’s MMA. Although the spotlight shifted from her to the recently-dethroned Ronda Rousey, Gina’s contribution to the sport cannot be forgotten. While Ronda has proved to be a media maverick in her own right, she owes a debt of gratitude for Gina pioneering the path, not only for women’s MMA, but also for any MMA champs trying to rebrand themselves as action film stars.

As both ladies make their way from the cage to the screen, it is important to keep them distinct. However, the cursory charting of their parallel progress that follows is in hopes that neither submit to the stereotypic “heavy thug” roles that imprison most male MMA stars nowadays. From the martial standpoint, Gina’s stature seems lesser, in part because she was unprecedented. No one came before her. She set the first standard. Gina holds an undefeated kickboxing record (12 wins) and 7 win, 1 loss MMA record, her fight career ending at the fists of Cris ‘Cyborg’ Santos in 2009. While many fans hope Gina will return to the cage someday, it’s been well over half a decade already…so, moving on. Ronda now boasts a 12 and 1 MMA record after her catastrophic loss to Holly Holm, as well as a very respectable Judo record, having collected a Bronze Olympic medal in 2008, a Silver World Championships medal and a Gold from the Pan American Games in 2007 and one of each plus an extra second Gold from the Pan American Judo Championships beginning in 2004.

On the silver screen, it’s only been since Expendables 3 (2014) that Ronda has seriously tried her hand at acting in front of cameras instead of fighting. Gina starred in her first film, RING GIRLS, in 2006, and was the female gladiator Crush in the attention-grabbing-but-only-for-two-seasons 2008 reality game show AMERICAN GLADIATORS. By 2011, Gina landed her first lead role in the Steven Soderbergh-directed HAYWIRE. Ronda’s first lead role film, a remake of the 1989 cult film ROAD HOUSE, is currently in production, and she just postponed her rematch against Holly Holm in order finish it. Gina followed up her lead with a substantial role in FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (2013). And Ronda followed her in FURIOUS 7 (2015).

TJ Miller & Gina Carano in DEADPOOL

And here the comparison should end as their paths now grow increasingly divergent. Ronda’s next film was last year’s sophomoric ENTOURAGE. In contrast to her cage-side trash-talking persona, Ronda is beginning to cultivate a more self-effacing comical character this year by hosting SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and appearing in a Bud Light commercial alongside Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen for one of the year’s most expensive ad slots, Superbowl 50. Since HAYWIRE, Gina has made three Direct-to-Home-Entertainment action films: IN THE BLOOD (2014) with Dam Gigandet and Danny Trejo, HEIST (2015) with Robert De Niro and Kate Bosworth, and EXTRACTION (2015) with Bruce Willis. She also did a guest spot on the one-season wonder, ALMOST HUMAN, playing an android named Danica (Ironically, Gina was often compared to Danica Patrick, another stunning brunette athlete that was catching pop culture’s eye with her third place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500).

DEADPOOL the MovieDEADPOOL was an opportunity for Gina to enter the moneymaking Marvel franchise, perhaps even to show a little more range. Sadly, Angel Dust is little more than an F-bomb dropping version of Android Danica. Both characters kick a lot of butt while wearing tight-fitting black cat-suits, and little more. It’s a shame because, like with so many of Gina’s appearances, there seems to be so much untapped potential. Once again, her charisma and conviction peek through, but not enough to break her out of the typecast role that continues to cage her.

Gina’s next film project is the reboot of another 1989 cult film, KICKBOXER. KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE brings back the one-and-only Jean-Claude Van Damme to appear alongside MMA champ Georges St-Pierre, WWE champ Dave Bautista and the late great action star Darren Shahlavi. Centered on underground ring fights, it’s unlikely that Gina’s role will be able to transcend her previous work. Slated for release later this year, the filmmakers are already confident enough to begin pre-production of the sequel, KICKBOXER: RETALIATION, but Gina has yet to be announced in the cast list. If her character suffers a similar fate as Riley, her role in FAST & FURIOUS 6, there might not be the opportunity. Either way, there is a huge difference between securing a mainstay role in the retro Kickboxer franchise versus any Marvel franchise.

Hopefully, Gina will find her way. Even though she garners some good screen time here, DEADPOOL looks like another dead end for MMA’s first belle of the ball.


Discuss this article online

About Patrick Lugo and Gene Ching :
Find us on facebook

Print Friendly VersionPrint Friendly Version of This Article