Movies & TV / Columns

The Man Movie Encyclopedia: Face/Off

September 6, 2015 | Posted by Caliber Winfield


Greetings, all. As always, we spend some time with you, the beautiful people, before we get to the action. Also, this month’s chance to become the second person ever inducted into the MME Burly Reader Hall of Fame is still up for grabs. First person to send me a picture of them enjoying, or forcing others to enjoy the MME not only gets in, but chooses what movie we review the following week. Dig it.

SkyLite: Brilliant review Caliber!

You’re right on the money with the Voodoo Child man!

Oh and how about the “Next thing I know you’ll be dating musicians” one-liner when Ms. July broke one of her major rules?

Keep it up Caliber! Awesome read!

Much obliged, SkyLite, thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I loved how Seagal was just casually joking after this woman just killed a man, and she’s seemingly cool with it too.

47114: Will you do Over The Top already? Nothing says burly like men arm wrasslin’…and the guy, mad dog , drinking motor oil?!?!

Do this!!!!

Haha. Perhaps I’ll be a jerk and put Over The Top on PPV since it seems to be in such high demand. No, of course, I could never do that to you, the beautiful people. The funny thing is, when I came up the idea of the MME articles back in 2008, I thought the attraction would be the MME Tally. I figured there’d be no point in reviewing films like the Rocky franchise, or Over The Top, because the Tally would be empty. However, I’ve now come to realize that the actual review may be the attraction, as they’ve become a lot fuller and more detailed than when I started. And yes, Over The Top would be a lot of fun to review.

So, OK, you guys keep your eyes peeled, and I promise we’ll head to Vegas soon in our truck that has the arm-workout-machine. Make sure to bring your motor-oil, you’re gonna need something to wash down the cigars.

ant: That was the Greatest Movie Review Of All Time. I want to watch this again now. Then the Unrated Version, followed by the Special Caliber Edition, with the lines and sequences as described in this review. Sat in work, crying with laughter. Brilliant.

Ant, thank you very much for the kind words, really. I’m actually going to save that in my “favorite things fans/readers have said” file. As much as I’m sure calling it the “greatrest movie review of all time” was a bit of an exaggeration, I’m still gonna tell people about it as if it were the truth. Also, nothing makes me happier than to hear my stuff is causing people to shirk their responsiblities. I’m damn pleased to be a catalyst to your slacking.

paco_smith: “tumescent” – had to google that, good word.

Hey, my entire mission in life is to help you guys be able to execute sophistiacted boner jokes. My entire mission.


The movie starts off with a flashback of Sean Archer at a carnival with his son, riding the carousel. Elsewhere, and clearly up to no good, is Castor Troy. Immediately a red flag goes up to me because they have him rocking the absolute worst mustache in history. I can’t quite explain it, but it looks so out of place on him, and makes me wonder why the hell none of his henchmen were nice enough to say anything, because if I had been friends with Castor Troy during this phase, we’d have had a talk.

Caliber: Woah, woah, Castor, man. No, no, you are absolutely not going to leave the house looking like this, man.
Castor: What do you mean?
Caliber: What do I mean? Dude, how the hell is anyone suppose to be afraid of you if when they see you their immediate thought is “Holy shit, it’s Ned Flanders!”. I mean, seriously, man, I half expect you to find Sean Archer and tell him you’re going to “Kill-diddily-ill” him.
Castor: No one is going to—
Caliber: No, man. Look, next time you go to kill someone with that stupid mustache, you’re gonna put the gun up to their head and they’re immediately going to say “Lemme guess, now you pull the trigger then I’m dead? Momma, ooooooh, I didn’t mean to make you cry! Sometimes I wish I’d never been born at aaaalllll! Carrrryyyy ooonnn, carrrryyyy oonnn! Nothing really matters!”
Castor: You’re starting to annoy me.
Caliber: Sure thing there, John Waters.

Well, Castor takes his shot and while he hits his mark, he accidentally kills his son.
We fast forward a few years and find that Archer is obsessed with getting Troy, and finally has his chance. Else where we see Troy, dressed as a priest, setting up a bomb that’s set to go off in a week. Afterwards he heads off to an air field in order to catch a plane and do some no good-knicking. While on the plane, Troy takes notice of the foxy flight attendant, and who wouldn’t? She’s dressed in a huge, turtle neck sweater, with a massive brown suit for women over it. If the Amish had a Victoria’s Secret, that’s where this outfit would come from. Sure enough, Archer shows up to keep Castor from taking off, as well as straight up cock-blocking him, and what ensues is a fantastic chase & shoot-out scene. First thing I noticed is that Archer has read the manual to every single piece of mechanics in history. Immediately after he dumps the Hummer, he jumps into a helicopter and flies it like a pro, then a few minutes later he knows exactly what to press to turn on a test-engine for a jet, a test engine that happens to send Castor Troy flying backwards and into a coma. Second thing I noticed, Castor Troy is the greatest shot of all time. Unless he’s shooting at Archer, he NEVER MISSES. It’s amazing. He jumps out of the airplane side-ways, shooting, and hits two people before hitting the ground. Makes sense though, because he has custom made guns. They’re gold-plated .45s. Whenever someone has something custom, they’re always great at it. Do you think there’s anyone who had something custom made, but sucks at it?

Roy: FUCK! Why the hell did I get a gold bowling ball?!
Ernie: I was wondering that too, man.
Roy: I am 100% sure that this stupid thing has made my game absolutely worse. I mean, it weighs at least 125lbs. I need a fucking cannon to shoot it down the lane. Oh well, at least it made me realize my ex-wife is a bitch. Oooh, I’m the wife, don’t tap into your pension to buy a 125lb ball of gold. Well, I showed her. Remember when your car was stuck in the mud, and we put it in the back to add weight? Yeah, put a check in the win column, baby.


OK, I got way off track. Well, Troy is in a coma, and Archer goes home to tell his grandmother’s mom the good news. Oh, wait, it’s not his grandmother’s mom, it’s just his grandmother. No, no, wait, it’s his….wife? OK, if I were anyone other than the casting agent, I would have immediately demanded the casting agent fired when I saw who was cast to play Archer’s wife. I mean, look, I’m not expecting a 22 year old or something, but Archer is an attractive ass-kicker, and it’s a John Woo film. So, how about someone just a little bit sexy? Or how about a door in a t-shirt?! Anything would have been a better choice. Yikes.
Anyway, the celebration is cut short as they find out Troy was for real, and there is a massive bomb set to blow. Well, Troy’s brother isn’t talking, so there is clearly only one option; Cut off Troy’s face and put it on Archer’s. I’m sold! Seriously, Archer doesn’t even so much as ask any real follow-up questions.


Archer: Like, is this the bottom of the list ideas? You guys at least tried a few other things before deciding I need to wear Castor’s face, right? Can I see the list? Is it written down? Gotta be honest, I’m gonna be upset if the list reads:

1. Ask Castor’s brother
2. Put Castor’s face on Archer’s.
3. Ask Castor’s brother again. Nicely.

Thankfully, they do a pretty sound job of explaining how it all works, and you buy into it. So, once you buy into that, you can buy into a secret prison where everyone wheres magnetic boots so the cops can keep track and lock them down if need be. This is where Pollux Troy is held, and Archer gets in with him pretty quick. It’s funny, because at first it seems as if Pollux senses something is up, but even if you did, you’d just have to shrug it off. He knows there’s no way Castor would have talked, and I’m pretty sure he assumes that we’re at least a year or two away from face-transplant surgery.
Well, bad news for Archer. Castor has woken up. Now, this is a guy who could be pissed off having just won the lotto while getting a beej, so imagine him waking up without a face. It’s also nice to see that the world’s most infamous terrorist is simply kept in a place that looks like a library after closing. Clearly they spent that year’s budget on face-transplants, and thus no money for the necessary security. Well, much like Puddy’s radio station settings, Castor pulls the ol’ switch-a-roo, becomes Archer, and kills the very few folk who know about it.
Meanwhile, at the prison, Archer learns where the bomb is, but it’s too late. Castor shows up in his freshest Archer outfit, and Archer is none too pleased. He probably realizes that Castor is gonna use all of his Safeway Reward points and get the fat discount on gas. Well, Castor gloats, and leaves Archer there to rot. Not happy with this, Archer plans a pretty elaborate escape plan. Once out, he realizes the prison is on an oil rig, but leaps off and swims to freedom. It’s funny, because there’s a boat about 10 feet from where he landed, and a helicopter right above him, so there’s absolutely no way he would have got away. No way. However, at this point in the film, you can’t question ANYTHING. I mean, Mike Tyson could show up riding Bigfoot while shoot wads of money out of a t-shirt canon, and you’d have to have no problem with it, simply because you bought the face transplant. You’re in for the long haul. anyway, so else where, Castor has decided to become a hero cop, so he publicly dismantles his own bomb, and soaks up the adulation.
Back on dry land, Archer hooks up with some of Castor’s old pals, in order to have a place to hide from the cops and come up with a plan of attack. While there, he meets up with Castor’s old girlfriend, who ended up having a kid with him. Archer immediately goes into creeper mode, and calls him by the name of his dead son, Michael, and does that obnoxious, insanely creepy ‘paint the face’ move that he so loves. Well, before everyone can get too cozy, a massive SWAT team attacks, at the behest of Castor, posing as Archer, as he knew that’s where Archer would go. What ensues is another awesome shoot-out, with the highlight being a SWAT team member attempting to blast the hell out of a 5 year old. Seriously, the kid is standing there, when suddenly a SWAT team guy looks at him and thinks “Not on my watch! No time for back-up!” and proceeds to dump a clip at him, just as Archer arrives to save the day. Soon after this everyone is dead, including Pollux, who Archer drop-kicked off a ledge and sent crashing 50 feet to the ground.


The next day, Troy kills Archer’s boss, and Archer tries to convince his wife of what went down. You know, he can say all the things in the world, but all he has to do is that ridiculously creepy ‘paint the face’ thing. Follow that up with

Archer: C’mon, honey, would ANYONE be creepy enough to do that? No! Not even Castor Troy, and he asks random women to suck his tongue! C’mon, I miss my wife who has the sexuality of a model cabin built from Lincoln logs.

Well, after testing the blood of both Archer & Castor, she finally believes him. This all leads to the big show down at Archer’s boss’ funeral. It’s classic Woo as we get stand-offs, guys flipping while shooting, doves, and people dying left & right. When the stand-off gets going, bullets are flying all over the place, and you know that as Archer was getting up he had his fingers crossed like “C’mon, wife-caught-one-in-the-face-and-has-to-have-plastic-surgery-to-resemble-something-other-than-an-A-sexual-robot”. This all culminates is an awesome chase scene between two speed-boats that really has to be seen to be believed. Some pretty ballsy stunt work here, and one of the greatest action scenes of all time. They end up crashing on a beach where the final show-down happens, and to be honest, I would have liked a better hand-to-hand fight, but after everything that lead up to this, I really can’t complain. So, of course Castor is killed, and Archer gets his face back. However, in order to make the ending of this movie have a very weird aspect to it, it turns out that Archer has adopted Castor’s son. Well, isn’t that nice? Hey, look, honey, I found someone to replace our dead son, and it’s the son of the man who murdered him! Surely this will not lead to any sort of extreme emotional issues in the future! Here, lemme softly touch everyone’s face with my hand!

I thought I’d explain the guidelines for the Man Tally, so people will understand how I come up with the numbers. A one-liner must be said by the hero, and it has to be a one-liner that’s obvious then. Like, Arnold’s “I’ll be back” from T1, I don’t consider it a one-liner, because it became so after the fact. When it comes to people being beat-up, a person must either be knocked out, or beaten until they fall down and do not get up. If one single person is knocked out numerous times through out the film, it only counts as one. For people being killed, it has to happen on screen. If there’s a character who’s killed off screen, and it’s acknowledged that they’re dead, but we don’t see it, it doesn’t count. Now, let’s say there’s a car with 4 people in it, and the next scene is the car being blown up, that would count as 4 deaths. Boobies, well that’s pretty obvious, as we must see some nipple action. Swear words are the basic 6. Shit, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and goddamn.
A slow-motion scene is obvious. However, let’s say there’s something going on in slow-motion, like someone doing a daredevil style jump on a motorcycle. OK, so he’s doing the jump, and it’s in slow-motion, then it cuts to someone watching it, but it isn’t in slow-motion, then it goes back to the continued jump, in slow motion. That would be two slow-motion scenes. If it’s broken up with a normal speed scene, then we start over. All of the other stuff is pretty obvious.

1-Liners: 0
Guys Beat Up: 12
Guys Killed: 42
Swear Words: 46
Boobies: 0
Explosions: 7
Slow-Motion Scenes: 68
Foot Chase: 2
Car Chase: 2
Broken Bones: 0
Fight/Shoot-Out At Motel?: No
Guy Get Girl?: Archer was married, so he already had a girl.
Guy Smoke?: Yes

This film was originally supposed to cast Stallone and Schwarzenegger, which I think would have been a pretty huge deal. Also thrown around was the idea of Van Damme and Seagal, with each having to learn the other’s martial art. Both would have been cool, but I think Travolta and Cage were the right call.

The scene with Adam listening to Over The Rainbow wasn’t in the original script, and was all Woo’s idea. However, the studio didn’t want to finance it, so Woo ponyed up the dough himself. However, he was reimbursed after the film turned such a huge profit.

Mark Whalberg turned down the role of Pallax Troy. I guess he just didn’t feel it, feel it, uh.

This is the third of Cage’s beige Volvo trilogy. After he escapes from the prison, he steals one. In ‘The Rock’, Cage’s character mentions that he drives a beige Volvo, and in Con Air, Cage’s character drops Pinball’s body from the plane and it lands on a beige Volvo.

In the prison that Castor Troy is a part of, they’re locked down via magnetic boots. These boots are the same that the Goombah’s wear in The Super Mario Brothers movie.

This film had been in developmental hell since 1990. Michael Douglas was originally thought to have been one of the stars, but he opted for a producer credit instead.

Created on a budget of $80 million dollars, Face off was released by Paramount Studios on June 27, 1997, to 2,621 theaters. It came in at #1, taking out My Best Friend’s Wedding, the former #1. It should also be noted that at this moment, Nic Cage had 2 movies in the Top 5, as the air travel classic, Con Air, was currently at #5.Face Off brought in $23,387,530 for it’s first weekend, which worked out to a theater average of #8,923. At the end of it’s 8 week run, it ended up bringing in $112,276,146 domestically, and $133,400,000 from Foreign, working out to $245,676,146.

Face/Off is one of those films I watch and think “this is why movies exist”. It’s insanely far-fetched, and fun as hell. Tons of explosions, fights, shoot-outs, face-switching, plus Travolta & Cage being total hams and loving it. I consider this to be one of the greatest action films hands down, and only gets better as the years go by. It’s among the classics like Rambo, Die Hard, and Commando, and rightfully deserves it.

5 Head-Butts out of 5

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