Mario Van Peebles has been in some of my favorite bad movies. Son of director Melvin Van Peebles and German actress Maria Marx, MVP made his acting debut in 1971, at the age of 13, in his dad’s 70s Blaxplotation flick Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. After Sweetback, MVP earned a BA in Economics from Columbia in ’78 and served as an analyst for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget under Mayor Ed Koch [source: imdb].
MVP isn’t on my list of favorite bad actors because of his econ background, his director role, or even his 6 awards and 10 nominations. No, it’s MVP’s stellar performances in the following flicks that put him in my list of all-time favorite bad actors.
5. Jaws: The Revenge. (1987). The long suffering wife of Chief Brody decides she’s had enough of Amity and heads off to the Caribbean to join her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. However, the shark with an attitude just won’t leave her alone. Did it follow her? Is it the same shark? Who cares.
There’s blood, guts, screaming and Peebles does all three. In fact, Jake (Peeble’s character) does such a great job that test audiences forced the director to follow his “C’mon, you big overgrown goldfish, come to Jake!” death scene with a rescue scene. That’s right folks. MVP brought his character back to life. Brilliant!
3. Heartbreak Ridge. (1986). Sergeant Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood), a hardened, tough veteran of Korea and Vietnam returns to the United States for his last tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. He is assigned to training a recon, and has to take them to the battlefield thanks to the Grenada invasion. MVP plays Corporal “Stitch” Jones, a hip, jive-talking grunt who gives Eastwood a hard time and eventually becomes a man thanks to Clint’s guidance.
Have a look. Most of the shots are of Clint, but there are some choice MVP bits. I think you’ll agree when I ask, “How did MVP not get the Oscar for this one?”
2. Posse. (1993). Directed by MVP, Posse is about a group of mostly black infantrymen who return from the Spanish-American War with a bunch of gold. They travel to the West where their leader, Jesse Lee, (MVP) searches for the men who lynched his father.
Peebles does such a great job he drowns out the acting by both Stephen Baldwin and Billy Zane. I know, right. How can that be? I could hardly believe it myself. But MVP pulls off one helluva performance. Btw, not only did MVP play the lead role, he also directed the show. Genius!
1. Solo. (1996). My favorite Martin Van Awesome movie hands down. I mean, how can you not like a movie with a tagline, “Part man. Part machine. Total weapon. Prepare to go Solo!” You can’t because it’s fantastic. In his finest work to date, MVP stars as an emotionless android/killing weapon designed by the military and utilized to enter into a Latin American war to destroy rebels. What? Holy cow! This is off the hook!
And, as most android movies go, Solo starts to feel and thus develops an affinity for the villagers. I nearly cried when he turned part-human. Well, when Solo decides to help the rebels fight back his creators send another, more powerful android to bring him back – dead or alive. While I can’t host the entire movie, I can show you the trailer. After which, you will undoubtedly seek out and watch MVP’s finest 90 minutes.
If you haven’t seen these movies you should. If you have Netflix, I’m sure they’re all available for instant streaming. If not, check out iTunes and grab some of ’em: New Jack City | Heartbreak Ridge | Posse. What are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn, a soda, and get to watching the top 5 Mario Van Peebles flicks.
Do you have a favorite MVP movie that didn’t make the list? Post it below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org