Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Original Title: The Man From Hong Kong
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Jimmy Wang Yu
Writer: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Special Agent Fang Sing Leng is called in from Hong Kong to Sydney, Australia to interrogate and extradite a Chinese drug dealer, but becomes increasingly involved in a larger criminal network despite protests of the local law enforcement.
As far as I can tell, The Man From Hong Kong is Trenchard-Smith's first feature length film, and boy what a fucking doozy of a first film. To be a rookie in the 70s and get to blow shit up like this certainly took some sway somewhere.
It starts off with a bang (fantastic helicopter/car/chase sequence capped off with the camera almost getting taken out by a flying door from the first of several carsplosions), and pays off with action throughout.
Yu is solid in his acting and martial arts, but for fans of later Shaw Bros. style kung fu action, you may find him a bit lacking. He was a big star at the time, even having directed his own films, and this film happened right in the middle of the kung fu craze that was going on in Hong Kong. Maybe it was because he was pissed off the entire time making the film, but his bad attitude and almost exclusively straight face play well into his character's hardline approach to "law" enforcement.
I don't mean to downplay Wu's physical skills here. He's not as flashy as many others, but I appreciate a less flashy style in cinematic martial arts as well as it can come across as more realistic sometimes. Sonny Chiba is one such actor that comes to mind. His kicks aren't the highest, but they carry such force they can look great. Yu is no Chiba, but he is still entertaining to watch. I'm not sure how many of his own stunts he did, but either way much of the action going on was largely convincing.
George Lazenby is the antagonist (other than some short appearances by Sammo Hung, Grant Page, and even Trenchard-Smith himself as unnamed villains), and is looking quite lovely with mis mustache of doom. I gotta appreciate some good facial hair. Lazenby is probably most famous for portraying James Bond only once in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He's really good here I thought, and even looks pretty badass doing his martial arts at various points. I would like to have seen him more in the film, but what can you do?
There are some parts that drag and seem out of place, such as the "love affair" between Leng and a chick played by the beautiful Rosalind Speirs. The musical montage that accompanies the two of them horseback riding and frolicking in meadows is just fucking bizarre in the midst of a film with goddamn cars crashing through houses and bloody fights in a karate dojo. I understand the point of the scene, but it really felt awkward the entire time.
The action here is the lynchpin holding it all together, and taken as such, you can really leave the film with a sweet sweet taste in your mouth. Like I said, given the time period this was made, there's a lot of crazy shit here.
This is not a perfect film by any means, but is well beyond just being average. It almost would fit better in the 1980s. Hang gliding plays a part in this when all is said and done.
Yes, hang gliding.
While some parts dragged and weren't great, and the hit song that opens and closes the film is a disco travesty, I still had a good time with this and would recommend it to action fans, and especially to those wanting to beef up on their Trench.
Score: 7.25 / 10
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
50 Movie Pack DVD Sale at DeepDiscount!
Fans of trashy, VHS-ripped, probably cut-in-length cinema might be interested in this! DeepDiscount is having a sale on their Mill Creek 50-movie packs
These are awesome for the right crowd, and while they are public domain typically, having them all collected together on discs for only 12 bucks is still pretty cool. Great to pop in on a rainy afternoon when you're bored.
I have the Martial Arts, Chilling, and Drive-In sets myself.
Sale runs through May 6th
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Original Title: Stunt Rock
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Paul-Michel Mielche Jr., Brian Trenchard-Smith
Australian stuntman Grant Page goes to Los Angeles to work on a television series. He uses his spare time to lend his expertise to rock band Sorcery, whose act features duels between the King of the Wizards and the Prince of Darkness, with his cousin playing the Prince.
OK, I'm not always a fan of saying there's not much to say about this movie...
Grant Page highlight show. Trenchard-Smith creates a very barebones story with Grant Page coming to Los Angeles to work as a stuntman on a new television show, meeting a lady there who is writing a story about people making sacrifices for their profession.... or something. Enter Mr. Page who throughout the film tells whatsherface about being a stuntman and being confident and having no fear. Then we see a highlight of a stunt he has done in another film while he talks about it a little.
The other major elements of the show was stage performances by this kindasomewhatmaybe ridiculous late-70s hair metal band Sorcery that simultaneously
Um, yeah. This shit is hilariously bizarre. In Not Quite Hollywood, there was a funny story that Trenchard-Smith and a few others told about being told they had to find a band in a couple days, and Sorcery was a band that you find when given only a couple days. Their music is pretty atrocious and repetitive, and as someone in the documentary said, their magic may certainly have been better than their music. Try as I might though, I cannot ever look at a magic show and think "cool", at least not in the same thought of a metal band being "cool."
It's such an odd combo, and the trifecta here with Page being related to the devil guy who plays with fire is just a humorous stretch. So funny.
Like I said, I don't really like saying there's not much to say about the film, but it is what it is. Page performs a few stunts that seem to be showcased in the film for the first time, including a human bow and arrow type stunt over a gigantic cliff where he just flings himself through the air via a loooooong rope.
Grant Page is a fuckin madman. At least he was anyway, although he is still alive. You'll see him here climbing between speeding cars, crashing through a van windshield while on fire, falling off a cliff in a ball of fire, scaling the side of a hospital while his ass is hanging out. He's also fearless, or so it would seem. It's all quite awe inspiring, particularly for a fan of action cinema who may have a bit more knowledge into what stuntmen deal with in their profession.
It's all a bit heavy-handed but it comes from a good place. Take away Sorcery and the pointless tiny plot, and you have Trenchard-Smith's homage to the stunt by way of Grant Page. By showing stunt after stunt, sometimes with an almost-impressive spit screen with reverse angle, he drives the point home.
This isn't a great movie. It felt like an episode of a sitcom when they just flashback and talk about shit that already happened. The story is throwaway, and Sorcery's stage act gets a bit repetitive. But seeing Grant Page do his insane shit was entertaining. You can see most of these stunts of his in other films though. It all just feels patched together and contains a plot probably just because it had to or something.
I'd recommend this for Trenchard completists, or someone wanting to see the amazing band Sorcery at the height of their magical career.
Magic... haha... get it?
Score: 4.75 / 10
Friday, April 23, 2010
Tonight I watched the fantastic documentary about Ozsploitation films... or genre films from Australia and typically about Austraila(ns)... Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! and there was quite a bit on a Mr. Brian Trenchard Smith. Trenchard-Smith is a director I have not really given a fair shake to. The only film I have seen by him (gasp) up to this point is 1988's Day of the Panther.
It was decidedly not my favorite martial arts film. Probably wasn't even my favorite that I watched that day!
I've had people tell me and heard on various podcasts and such that I really should see more. Well, now's as good a time as any I guess; I've been sitting on a few for awhile. Fresh off the heels of the testosterone oozing Actionfest this past weekend, I'm still chomping at the bit for more shit blowing up, cars crashing, and people defying death.
These will all be films released before Day of the Panther in 1988. Who knows, maybe in the past year I could have changed my opinion on that film as well.
So I'm declaring it now BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH MONTH on Assorted Loaf!!
Did you wet your pants?
Just a little?
I suppose I'll cover some of his "hits" in chronological order... we'll see. Let's hope I can turn around my initial Trench impressions. (From some of the crazy ass stories they told in Not Quite Hollywood, I'm not sure now that will be a problem)
You don't mind if I call ya Trench, do ya buddy?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It has been a few days since I returned home from Actionfest, but after watching 15 movies plus some extra shit including sleeping in a strange and loud place in essentially three days, I needed some decompression time before jumping back into things. Really it was sleep time while still being unable to fall asleep before 3am for whatever reason.
AAAanyway, the final day of Actionfest went by a lot quicker than the previous days. It was really because I only saw three films total, but also watched some of a stunt show in the parking lot (you can see highlights of it above), a stunt panel with some veterans including Aaron and Chuck Norris themselves, and a closing ceremony that I probably left too early.
I started the day with Robo Geisha. I was really excited to see this one after watching the trailer, but unfortunately the trailer highlights almost all the entertaining parts of the film. The story for me just wasnt that interesting, and really dragged at times. The highs were very, very funny, but the lows were too much to make this film feel like anything but average overall.
Next up in the day was Valhalla Rising. This was a funny experience because by this point in the day, more public movie goers were wandering in hoping to see Chuck Norris' official appearance, and somewhere along the way someone told these poor souls that a violent viking movie was playing. I was at an advantage in a way because I knew what to expect going in for the most part thanks to GGTMC's Toronto Film Festival coverage of it last year. But despite this, I still feel like the film went way over my head. It is violent and looks fantastic, but I could not figure out myself what Refn was trying to say. It definitely needs to be rewatched, but for now it was solid but not great for me.
After the gory vikings, I walked outside and checked out some of the stunt show going on. Chuck Norris was speaking to the crowd, and I was disappointed to see he was dressed in a nice suit instead of a denim shirt! After the show was a panel of stuntmen, and the Norris brothers which was really interesting. I wish there was a way to watch it again as I wasn't taking notes or anything. There were some great stories including Aaron Norris talking about doubling for his brother in Good Guys Wear Black and kicking a dude through a car windshield. Chuck had a really interesting story about his rise through the ranks in a manner of speaking - talking about trainign with Bruce Lee, and actually giving martial arts training himself to Steve McQueen and Bob Barker!
Finally, I wrapped up my Actionfest films... #15!... with Born to Fight. This film is fucking nuts. The stars here? The STUNTMEN! For a weekend filled with praise left and right for stuntmen, this was probably a really great way to end it. The acting in Born to Fight was really bad, and honestly the story just kept going on and on and wasn't all that thrilling. But I do not know how they completed this film without at least one stuntman casualty. Insane stuff going on, but overall not a super film.
I made my way after this to the Orange Peel in downtown Asheville for the awards ceremony and a show by local band Reigning Sound. I have to say the awards show was pretty lame as a majority of the awards given out seemed to just favor people that were there as opposed to what may have actually deserved to win. The best example of this was the award for best film at Actionfest.
Granted, I am not certain what films were eligible, but the "jury" awarded Isaac Florentine, the only director who's film showed attending the festival, best director. I saw at least three films better directed than Undisputed III... including Johnnie To's Vengeace. One of the festival organizers even called To the best working action director! I have nothing against Florentine, and I liked Undisputed fine, but this just had me rolling my eyes.
14 Blades won best fight scene, and I can agree with that one. There was a great scene wwith Donnie Yen fighting a very young guy who's name is escaping me in a restaurant/inn sort of area. Both of them would try to beat the other before a coin or bowl stopped spinning. Cool stuff.
They gave a special award to Marko Zaror for being an action star to watch or something like that. I could certainly agree with this. Zaror is pretty magnetic on the screen, and seemed like a humble and truly nice guy in real life.
There were some achievement award for the stuntmen attending, which was cool to see. I didn't have a good way to write them all down in this music venue, so I'm having trouble remembering.
The oddest award for me was best picture for Merantau. The film was OK I guess, but apparently the jury loved it. For it to be awarded best over the likes of Vengeance, Valhalla Rising, and what was probably my favorite film Harry Brown was just bizarre. Sure the fighting was fun, but the acting was NOT fun... especially the two white guy villains who were awkward and terrible. The story had its heart in the right place, but was not all that original or exciting. Blerg
I was getting tired of it all, and the crowd at the Orange Peel was the exact sort of crowd that screamed "this band coming up is going to be LAAAAAAME", so i left during Chuck's acceptance speech of his lifetime achievement award. He was telling the same story as the panel of his break into the business and training with Bruce Lee. I missed apparently his refusing the award and instead giving it to his brother Aaron who directed a it of Chuck's work and doubled/stunt coordinated as well. Oops!
And apparently I was wrong about Reigning Sound as well, because I looked up some songs and they don't sound bad at all! Ooooops!
I was tired, so whatever.
Actionfest was a lot of fun, and I am curious to see how it grows in the future. Carolina Cinemas was a cool venue, and I really appreciated the VIP pass holders being able to utilize the upstairs lounge there. For a festival put together in four months, they did a fantastic job, and I'd certainly recommend everyone keep an eye out. With more time to plan, I'm sure it would be better next year. Some technical issues with films, and the fact that it was impossible to see every film due to lots of overlaps were a bit of a problem, but not huge. My biggest technical gripe with Carolina Cinemas is how "zoomed in" all the films were. I do not know exactly how all the projector shit works, but when subtitles are constantly cut off and the framing has heads chopped, etc., something is wrong with the way the films are displayed.
I mentioned it on Twitter as well, but I will also say that attending this 3+ day event alone was a little trying. I'm a pretty solitary kind of guy, and going to see a flick alone doesn't bother me at all. But seeing 15 movies by myself that I feel somewhat passionate about and having no one to talk about them with afterwards was just a little depressing. Festivals like this I think are best with crowds, and especially I would imagine with friends. Seeing Undisputed with a respectfully loud audience reacting well to a film heightens my enjoyment, but having a buddy to drink a PBR and talk about how sexy Scott Adkins' six-pack was afterwards would really have been preferable.
So thanks, Actionfest and Asheville! Hope to kill ya next year!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Well I have wrapped up my third day at the action movie festival and boy are my arms tired.
Another day full of a wide variety of a mixed bag of action flicks. I woke up around 9:30 this morning immediately remembering that up until this point I had completely forgotten it was Record Store Day! Fuck!
I went exploring downtown looking for record stores, only to find two holes in the wall that didn't even open until 11am, so I just grabbed a chai and bagel to wait awhile. To waste more time, I went on the hunt for a new tshirt that didn't cost 25 bucks because I was painfully aware that the one I had on was too small for my pudgy tits.
Hoodie coverup to the rescue!
Record store finally opened and of course they didn't have shit, but someone there told me the cool record store in town was a bit of a drive. So I packed up my shit for the day and headed out for Harvest Records.
It's a great store, but I didn't find too much...just a couple rereleased LPs from AD! and Tutu & the Pirates. Unfortunately I got lost as I am prone to do, so I was ultimately late for the start of the noon film...
It sucks that I missed the first 40 minutes or so, but not a complete tragedy as I have seen the movie twice before at home. It was still incredible to see it on the big screen.
The second film was the new Michael Caine action flick called Harry Brown, and...wow! It was gritty and tense and pretty fuckin great. I had only minor complaints really, and it was awesome to see Caine in this sort of role again. It was like a Death Wish kind of story, and I found myself involved emotionally more than any film I've seen here.
Around 3pm there was a stunt show outside that I missed due to Harry Brown, but I am quite alright with that. There was a dude with a rocket pack apparently.
Anyway, next on the docket was a Donnie Yen wiu xia called 14 Blades. I posted this on Twitter earlier, but it bears repeating. This genre is one that I am confused the most by yet admire the most. I'm not saying that wiu xia is my favorite genre, but that of all the genres that typically go over my head, this one I still manage to enjoy more often than not.
And 14 Blades tried its damndest to confuse the piss out of my fragile brain. I think I caught it for the most part though. The costumes were amazing as usual, but some of the coreography at times seemed lacking. Also, there was a bit too much cgi that really didn't need to be there. Donnie Yen was a badass and helped me to enjoy the film overall but it didn't blow me away or anything.
Next was one I was really looking forward to from the trailer, but as a result ended up being the biggest let down so far. That would be an Indonesian film called Merantau. I was very much into the trailer when I saw it a few days ago, but outside of some amazing action sequences, some stiff acting, a couple highly annoying characters, and a story that just went on for too long really hurt my enjoyment of it. It was still better than Raging Phoenix, but just wasn't what I was hoping for.
Finally we had the world premiere of Isaac Florentine's new direct-to-dvd movie Undisputed III. Florentine and one co-star Marko Zaror were on hand and it was a great, lively crowd. They cheered whenever Scott Adkins or Zaror would do some insane move, which is pretty often, and it made the film fun. If you have seen Undisputed II, you know what to expect here. It's wet punchy fun in a prison fighting movie kind of way.
So now I'm back in the hostel boarded up in my sarcophogus recharging for the final day. I've heard Beck and now Radiohead playing at the bar downstairs, so it must be the coolest fucking bar in town.
So why am I lying here in my underoos? Anti social prick I am...
I'm really looking forward to Valhalla Rising tomorrow, and Robo Geisha should be a hot mess.
I really owe GGTMC (http://www.ggtmc.com) a voicemail! Fuck! Sorry guys...
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I say 1.5 only because yesterday was essentially the Centurion premiere.
Today was a day stuffed full of films...6 in all... a few technical issues, and some highs and lows in my cinematic experience.
I got a late start on the day from trying to sleep in a bit this morning. I realized the sun rises right in the window opposite my bunk here at the hostel, so from about 7am on I had a little battle with consciousness going on. When I finally peeled myself up and ate more classy breakfast (actually a nice pear, granola, and more PB sandwich so not so bad), I was off to be a grown up for a few minutes and get my oil changed then off to be a big kid and watch movies for the next 13 hours or so.
I will talk a little about the movies, but I'll try my best to get formal reviews out for them as I can.
I started out with a 1970 Australian film called Wake In Fright. This is an outback movie so if you have seen those you have a general idea what to expect. I was a little disappointed to find out that it was being shown on blu ray, but it was explained to us that the film was once considered lost, and that this was a restored print. It wasn't a huge deal because it looked great. There weren't many people there at all which I guess can be attributed to it still being a workday and all, but I would have liked to have seen a bigger crowd. I thought the acting was outstanding, and moments very tense despite it not being the sort of action flick you might expect to see at a festival honoring Chuck Norris. Just sayin...
The second film I planned on watching was a Thai film from 2009 called Power Kids. It's a group of kids basically doing Tony Jaa style shit in order to help a friend in need of a heart transplant at a hospital being held by terrorists. Silly yes but sounded like fun.
It was not meant to be for this film it seems though. Originally the festival was supposed to get a 35mm print, but that fell through at the last minute for whatever reason. Well even more last minute, the new digital copy of the film decided to not have audio. So that was a big waste of 30 minutes.
It wasn't a huge deal as the only other two movies playing at the same time were Centurion again and Ong Bak 2 which I had already seen a few months ago. I just slipped in to catch the last 3/4 of Ong Bak 2, which is kinda funny because the first time I saw it I missed the first act as well.
It might be because of that that I don't understand the end at all, or it may be because the movie is just hard to follow in the first place. Regardless the stunts and fights are amazing and I still enjoy the movie.
The third feature of the day was originally going to be District 13: Ultimatum... the sequel to the first D13 from 2004. I hadn't really heard much about it except one bad opinion, and its available on dvd, so I decided instead to see Raging Phoenix with the chick from Chocolate who is supposed to be pretty insane.
Well, we were informed about 30 minutes in that the projectionist put the film together in the wrong order. Dandy. Ultimately it didn't really matter because the film was a fucking mess. I'll try to review it better later on, but it went from having potential to boring ridiculous Goonies and the Temple of Doom or some shit. Lame.
I snuck out of the theater at this point and finally found a KMart to buy some boxers so I didn't have to sleep in my jeans again. A weight lifted off my shoulders indeed... or my ass rather?
I went back to the theater for the next show, a Chilean action flick starring Marko Zaror called Mandrill. I wanted to like Mandrill a lot, and it certainly had some great ideas and sequences, but it ended just a little flat in the way the story was wrapped up. Again I will discuss it more in a little review, but Zaror was there to answer some questions after and he was a really cool guy. Somehow he kept his cool with a fat drunk loudly clapping not only through every action scene in the film but also pretty much every answer Zaror gave in the Q&A.
Next up was Johnnie To's first English language film starring French singer Johnny Halladay. I'm getting tired of typing here so I am gonna keep it short, hut this was the best film I've seen here yet. It has its faults but wow were the high points great.
And finally I decided to stick around for the midnight show... a horror comedy and genre twisting film called Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. It sort of turns the redneck slasher around and was very entertaining.
Anyway, I passed out back at the hostel and that was my day.
I will try in the next few days to review the films new to me and also come back for more festival summaries!
Friday, April 16, 2010
It wasn't really a day so much as an evening, but either way, Thursday, April 15, 2010... tax day number who knows what and Actionfest day number one is in the books.
Centurion was the only screening this evening, but it was a fun gory time. I reviewed it already in case you missed that.
It took me forever it seemed to drive here today. A 30 minute drive to work daily seems excessive to me, so four hours alone in a car was borderline torturous. Luckily I had some GGTMC (http:/www.ggtmc.com) and some Showshow (http://showshow.podomatic.com/) to pull me through.
I've lived in NC all my life and never been to Asheville, so this was already a first for me. I've also never been to a real film festival, nor have I stayed in a hostel while travelling.
I wasn't sure what to expect there, but the place is super nice despite being over a crowded bar. I have a nice private bed and a locker. Anyway, I know you come here to read this horseshit.
Actionfest is being held at Carolina Cinemas Asheville. It's a great venue... a remodeled old multiplex I think. The interior looks great and the staff were all super nice. Maybe it was my badass VIP badge.
The festival was opened by two dudes in plastic Roman armor and then by Chuck's brother Aaron Norris. He looks exactly like Chuck (or is it the other way around?) Only without the beard.
The movie was cool, then there was a little gathering at the upstairs lounge. I wasn't expecting sofas and a projection screen! And some good food (vegetarian meatballs made from eggplants... never had that) while watching Missing In Action 3 and mingling a bit.
Since I am a broke motherfucker I went to a local grocery store before heading back to the hostel to buy some snacky food I could stash in my car. I had a hilariously sad peanut butter sandwich while standing in a parking deck. Ahhh class
It was a cool first day and cool to be at the first Actionfest ever. I hope to see it grow in the future, especially so I can bitch about kids these days and how in my day I had to eat peanut butter and white bread out of the back of my car just to be able to finally see The Good, The Bad, and The Weird on the big screen.
If by totally random chance you are in the Asheville, NC area this weekend, stop by the Carolina Cinemas and take part in the fun.
Now I go back to obsessively trying to plan my viewing schedule.
A splinter group of Roman soldiers fight for their lives behind enemy lines after their legion is decimated in a devastating guerrilla attack.
Bear with any inconsistencies here as I am attempting a review written via email on my phone... so it's all typed out with my two little thumbs. Also, I'm not exactly sure how to post anymore than one photo with each blog entry, so there will probably just be a poster I grabbed off my tiny web browser.
So I just got out of the world premiere (!I'm feckin special!) of Neil Marshall's new film Centurion. As with most of the films showing at Actionfest (http://www.actionfest.com), I did not know much about this going in. Shit, I didn't even know it was about Roman soldiers specifically, but we can probably attribute that to ignorance or mental laziness on my part. I mean, it is called Centurion afterall.
It's a story that felt like it could have taken place during any war with the trapped behind enemy lines theme, but what made Centurion different was not so much the soldiers themselves, but the enemy they were dealing with.
Not really being up on my history, I don't know much about this particular group of people, but they are essentially barbarians... complete with furs and face paint and scary looking axes to bury in your fuckin neck.
The standout Pict is a mute tracker played by Olga Kurylenko. She literally has zero lines in the film, but is nasty in her multiple action sequences.
The acting is what it is. I really liked Dominic West in The Wire, and I would have liked to have seen him play a larger role than he did here. Michael Fassbender is the star of the show here, and I think he is most convincing in role in moments of anguish... in particular the scene that opens the film with Fassbender fleeing through a stark white snowy field, hands bound, and a gash across his chest. He stumbles and gasps for breath and looks genuinely panicked without saying anything at all. (this scene has Fassbender briefly narrating to set up the story actually.
Other than the standouts, what you get are characters that are fine for what they are but who you will most likely never remember the name of. The overriding characteristics in Centurion aren't a man's future plans (although this is shoehorned into the story fairly early on) but rather if he got stabbed in the dick, slashed in the neck, or devoured in some other way.
Yes, Marshall's film is a wet one. He has some really nice moments, some amazing aerial photography of some incredible and harsh looking environment, but ultimately what you will take from the film is the violence. Beheadings and slashes and stabs and pokes and slams and pierced and crunches and turtles and....
Does he rely on the gore a bit too much? Perhaps. The story honestly did not feel all that unique by the time the credits rolled, but the brutality lingers on.
Personally I've found Marshall's previous films a mixed bag. Well, the two I have seen at least. I loved Dog Soldiers and its gore and claustrophobic action. But I ended up not really liking The Descent because of some turns the story took as it played out.
Centurion had elements of both. It took me awhile to warm up to the Magnificent Seven Dirty Dozen Inglorious BastArds style group of soldiers, but their being chased by these barbarians with a vendetta was interesting and tense. But I didn't like that the soldiers outside of Fassbender really had no individuality and were just meat shields, and I did not like some plot elements added in as the story evolved.
The film looks fantastic, and the fireball scene that you can see in the trailer may be worth the price of admission. But the movie does slow down quite a bit in the third act before the finale(s) and doesn't seem to know exactly how and when to end.
Overall though I enjoyed it. For the genre I thought it was definitely solid. It doesn't get bogged down in the ancient politics and shit that always fly over my head anyway, and really gets right to the goods like a good genre film should.
Score: 7 / 10
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Aaaaalrighty... the pilgrimage is finally complete.
I've made my way to this really nice Carolina Theater for the premiere of Neil Marshall's new film Centurion, the weekend long inaugural Actionfest, and I am trying this mobile blogging thing.
Hopefully it works out.
There's a nice turnout so far for this showing. I hope the festival has a good turnout overall. I got a sweet nerdy VIP badge as you can see (hopefully) and a program I haven't looked through yet.
Well, the lights are about to drop. I'll be back with more Actionfest updates!
I saw this on http://artofakira.com/
I've not had any animation shit on here before, but it's film related. And I have seen about 3 Disney movies in my life so anything showing it in not so bright a light is more interesting than anything else to me. This is very well edited showing the recycled scenes.
There's another little clip posted about this going on in Disney animated films, but not as creative as the first. Looks like some sort of TV documentary or something
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
So I saw the new Clash of the Titans this weekend. This was a movie I was actually looking forward to. Unlike many genre fans, I do not get upset at the prospect of Hollywood remakes. I could care less honestly... whatever they wanna do works for me. I don't have to go see it if it looks shit... and a lot of them do.
But Clash of the Titans....
My little disclaimer here - I'm committing a big movie review faux pax here and letting my fond memories of one movie taint my opinions of the newer one. It's never fair, but with a remake I feel like at least some comparison is in order.
I can still remember the first time seeing the movie on my dad's wood paneled Zenith on what must have been a local station because we didn't have cable until around 1990. I was eating a salad drenched in blue cheese salad dressing that made me feel sick when the three Stygian witches stirred their cauldron with the hand emerging. I can remember how bad I wanted Bubo the clockwork owl. And I can remember this time and so many others being scared shitless at the scorpion fight, the two headed dog fight, and especially the horrifying (for a kid anyway) Medusa face off.
I had the book based on the screenplay, although I'm not sure I ever actually read more than the first chapter. I just loved the cover of it so much that I wore the book out just looking at all the detail there.
Oddly he came with a sword, but most often I used him as some sort of miniature evil wizard that would kick He Man's ass. Man I really need to find this thing. I had the waist joint so worn that you could just flop it back and forth, and I'd really have to balance the figure when standing lest he just bend over at the waist and fall.
His skeletal hand in the film taking Perseus' coin and eerily closing around it just looked fantastic and I loved the crunchy sound effect with it. It was definitely one of my favorite parts.
Ray Harryhausen's special effects were beyond special in the film. While they certainly look dated now, they had such a nice, tangible quality about them. Just seeing the detail in his creatures was awe inspiring then and brings back waves of nostalgia now.
But any way you look at it, it is a magical fuckin movie to show to a kid!
But the magic has faded away in the past nearly 30 years. Differences in tone honestly might have been my biggest problem with this Clash of the Titans remake.
I probably made a mistake in rewatching the 1981 film the same day I was going to watch the new one. I was not entirely fair in my judgments of it because I sat there the entire time comparing the two. As a CGI-effects laden action romp, new Clash serves its purpose. It looks great. I've heard there are some issues with the 3D version, but I saw the 2D so I can't comment on that. The costumes looked incredible. Liam Neeson was shiny as a fresh shit, and I really liked Hades' (Ralph Fiennes) charred armor in particular.
The three witches that reminded me of blue cheese salad dressing looked fantastic, but the scene didn't carry the same weight for me this time around.
The acting in the film is universally corny, but it comes with the territory. I didn't sign up for this expecting brilliance. There are some dramatic scenes, still though, that will have you gritting your teeth.
The story is changed a bit, but that's understandable. Remakes that are reworked a bit plotwise make more sense than 100% retelling the same story, as long as they are faithful to the original. Otherwise you just have a film that seems to say "I can do this better." And while new Clash was faithful at times, other times I felt those turds dropping.
MILD SPOILER ALERT
This is most apparent as the group begins its quest and are gearing up. Perseus (Sam Worthington) finds a golden mechanical owl in the chest and asks what it is. The head soldier (
The biggest thing for me here, as I said, was the tone and theme of this film in comparison to the original. I think this is more of a fair contrast between the two because I'm not necessarily saying the first one is technically better. It seems obligatory almost these days for action films to have a 'tude... and new Clash is no different.
One big thing I loved about the first film is that it felt authentic as far as Greek myths, and followed essentially one mythical hero's quest to challenge forces far beyond his scope. The gods were almost separate from the humans, playing chess with them if they wanted and dealing more with their relationships with one another. It's certainly not explored to its fullest extent in old Clash, but having Zeus protect his mortal son and other gods looking after their own interests as well added an interesting element to that film.
New Clash has to have the modern day 'shove it up your ass' attitude of course, having the humans declare this the new era of man... damn the gods! Perseus' quest against the odds of old Clash has been transformed now to a quest of lots of guys that Perseus just kind of stumbles into and goes along with. He is still the central figure in the struggle, but it becomes less about his myth now and more about the city of Argos rebelling.
Perseus could care less that he has gifts from the gods here, whereas in old Clash, the awesome sword/shield/helmet/BUBOTHEMIGHTY gifts were all cherished and came in handy in their own ways.
And was it just me, or was the whole Pegasus story much more interesting the first time around? And does he really need to be black? Come on... The original myth had Pegasus coming out of Medusa's neck hole after Perseus removes her head for her. How fucked up is that??
The relationship between Zeus and Perseus was not handled as well in new Clash either. In old Clash, Zeus looked over his son, and wanted him to succeed. Was it because Zeus is an egomaniac and his blood had to prevail? Perhaps, but it made some interesting (if underdeveloped) tension between the gods there. In new Clash, Perseus is far more a bastard child... offspring from Zeus fucking over a king that Zeus may or may not even remember. Zeus communicates with Perseus from time to time, but it's less of a game now and more of the gods dealing with their rebelling human problem.
New Clash was fun, but watching it (and unfortunately comparing it) to the old was a mistake. On it's own, it's a good popcorn flick certainly. The creatures don't have that special Harryhausen touch, obviously, but look phenomenal in their own right.
As I write about new Clash, I feel better about it honestly. Maybe that would change if I sat down and watched it again, as I felt irritated upon watching it this weekend, but especially for people not super familiar with the original, new Clash is fun. If you can leave your notions at the door, you can enjoy it more than I did certainly.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Haven't posted a whole lot lately because really I haven't watched much. I was preparing a post comparing Stan Hansen's appearance in No Holds Barred to Terry Funk's appearance in Road House... but just not really feeling inspired.
Thought about writing a review of Road House (finally watched it)... but again...
I've watched a few flicks lately, but I've just been that particular type of bored that one becomes from time to time where the thought of every single thing to do sounds boring as well or just would take too much effort
This weekend I am driving up to the mountains of North Carolina... to Asheville... to attend the world's FIRST action movie film festival!
I'm totally slumming it... staying in a hostel and eating peanut butter sandwiches out of my car... I'll probably have the shits for days.... but I'm looking forward to cramming as much over the top action I can into the 3+ days of the festival.
I'm not sure that I will be taking along a laptop, but I will try my best to take some photos and give at least a few blog updates with my cell phone. Looks to be a fun time... maybe I'll find that inspiration to get off my ass finally.
The fucking 4 hour or so drive there is already hurting my brain though.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I've heard a lot of you roody-poo candy asses arguing Ninja is better than Ninja Assassin or vice versa
Well I'm here to set the record straight.
It's pretty much a draw, suckers!
How's THAT for taking a controversial, hard lined stance? Wishy-washerman Loaf himself is here to say that maybe perhaps I enjoyed Ninja Assassin a little more for its ridiculousness, but Ninja was still solid and I will root for Scott Adkins until I find out about him torturing puppies or something in the future.
Ninja's title is a bit misleading because it largely follows the traditional Hong Kong approach to ninjitsu in having the ninja be mainly a villain as opposed to a hero. None of the acting here is fantastic by any stretch of the imagination, and honestly after seeing Adkins' moves in Undisputed II (another solid fuckin action flick) recently, I felt like some of the martial arts were a bit tame as well. But the story here was decent and definitely a more traditional martial arts setup. It was straightforward, easy to follow, and really did not try to be anything it was not... a direct to video movie with ninja shit!
I've heard complaint here about a certain ninja costume being silly, and, well... it kinda is. But let's not forget what we are talking about here. A GODDAMN NINJA. Updating your gear a little to have night vision and wings is no more ridiculous than a person that can walk on water or heal themselves with mere mind power, right? I liked the direction the movie took honestly with the new ninjitsu style of a man who has lost his way in bitterness and jealousy vs. an older style.
There are some great looking stunts here, and even the little wirework gets a pass considering the subject matter.
If Ninja were a movie I paid 10 bucks to see in a theater, I'd understand complaining perhaps. But for a rental if you're in the mood to see some sword fighting and blow darts, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Score: 6.25 / 10
The general consensus for the most part seems to be that Ninja Assassin is the superior film to the two notable ninja flicks of 2009. While I have defended Ninja here in the fight, I did enjoy Ninja Assassin a little more. The difference here is that Ninja Assassin could have been more but fell short for a few reasons to Ninja's being better than I thought it would be going in.
Both movies have their fair share of CGI blood and gore, but honestly it doesn't really bother me most of the time. There are exceptions of course when it just seems completely out of place (such as a neck stabbing in Un Prophete which I was totally distracted by unfortunately), but when you get buckets of gore, and it is established early that they are going the CGI route, then good on ya. Make it entertaining.
And boy does the blood flow in Ninja Assassin.
The story in Ninja Assassin is also structured similarly to a traditional martial arts film, but the added introspection as well as a detective agency sideplot really detracted from the overall experience for me. Raizo (Rain) had an interesting past as an orphan with a very bright (dark?) future as an assassin for a very old ninja clan, but for a reason that I will not spoil here goes rogue.
I wish it had been left here.
There is a subplot that develops with an international agency librarian or some shit unravelling assassination plots and actually having video of Raizo in action. What kind of ninja is that getting caught plain as day on film? I will qualify this complaint by also stating that the ninja in Ninja Assassin are almost superhuman until Raizo splits their pressurized asses in two. You see them actually move fast enough to where there is a blur, climb on celings, etc. If Raizo is the strongest disciple, is he really gonna be fucking around without a mask and not hiding in shadows?
I don't like getting bogged down in geeky plotholes and stuff... I would say (particularly lately) that I am pretty forgiving of movies as a whole and just try to enjoy them for what they are. Ninja Assassin just forced my hand. I would just find myself thinking "I wish they would just get back to people or a car getting shredded by ninja stars.
There's some great shit in here though that balances out some of the over analyzation and overabundant plot points. A ridiculous body count and the magical ninja shit I like to see is all there with some crazy (if CGI'ed) weapon fights. The over the top elements really helped me enjoy this one in moments far more than Ninja, but the other elements really weighted it down so it ultimately overall was not that much more enjoyable for me.
Score: 6.75 / 10
So it's pretty much a wash.
Direct to video that soars higher than one would expect.
Bigger budget cinematic release with crazy shit weighted down by some corny turd
And I have gone around my elbow to scratch my ass!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Another oldie/shorty review for you.
Original Title: Quelli che contano
Director: Adelchi Bianchi, Andrea Bianchi
Writer: Piero Regnoli (screenplay), Sergio Simonetti (story)
"It's a song... a vibration in the air..."
An assassin is employed by the mafia to take care of a couple southern gangs who are smuggling drugs in the corpses of young children. He plots to have the two gangs work against one another, working his way into both, and becomes more and more personally involved.
What we have here might be the first assassin to ever drive a VW bug! Henry Silva plays the stone faced assassin Tony Aniante in this gritty mafia crime film. He's sweaty, mean, and very quiet throughout the entire story... a role perfect for Mr. Silva! Forget police involvement here... this one is all gangsters and nastiness (except for a brief autopsy scene at the intro). You'll probably notice that Mr. Silva sports his heavy looking suit throughout the whole film despite constantly toweling off and looking as if he is sweltering.
The film at times is very reminiscent of westerns, for example as Tony walks through town and towsfolk close themselves up in their homes as he passes. Tony is a very quiet, solitary figure, and often we are given a very hot, arrid landscape for the story to unfold in. The score that is whistled is almost out of Morricone's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly score, and actually plays a part in the plot here.
Barbara Bouchet is pretty bad in her role, which I'm pretty sure is par for her course (mmmm.... Bouchet coooourse) but she makes up for it by being half naked/topless half the time, taking a milk bath while touching herself, or fellating a banana at the dinner table.
There is a sex scene with Ms. Bouchet in there that I am not sure had been or ever will be again put to film. Not that it is all that graphic, but it is very degrading to her, almost to the point of humor. I'll leave this one up for you to find. I'll just say this poor character is not treated well at all in the film. Oink, oink.
This was a solid film. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I would recommend it to anyone finding it interesting after reading this.
Score: 6 / 10
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Here is an older review of mine I dig from the crypts just for you!
My reviews sure have gotten a lot more wordy lately
Original Title: Roma a mano armata
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi (story), Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay)
"Me, I'm protected by Satan. I'm shitting lead."
A tough, violent cop who doesn't mind bending the law goes after a machine-gun-carrying, hunchbacked psychotic killer.
Hmm, not sure if that covers it so well, but oh well.
I thought this was a solidly acted, fun film.
Maurizio Merli plays Commissioner Leonardo Tanzi , a role similar to his roles in Napoli Violenta (another Lenzi film) and Roma Violenta (Commissario Betti). These movies must have been filmed around the same times (1975-1976). Tenzi is rough and a bit vigilante, but not as much so as his Betti character.
We do get to see quite a few Merli chop-punches and lots of gritted teeth from underneath his porn-quality mustache.
Tomas Milian. He plays a nasty hunchback Moretto who has some great lines throughout the film. (The Satan line above is his.) There is a great scene where he hijacks an ambulance as well.
The story overall felt a little broken to me. There is the overall story of Tanzi trying to track down a high profile criminal, Ferrender. He is constantly after Moretto because he believes that Moretto knows Ferrender's whereabouts... I think. There's a story with a drug dealer which may or may not be tied to Ferrender. And there is also a story with a group of teens who Tanzi chases down in relation to an assault/rape. Other than perhaps establishing Tanzi's vigilante character and providing some fun chases and confrontations, these little pieces that make up much of the middle of the film do not do much to otherwise advance the overall plot.
There are some interesting elements of the media's role in Tanzi's career, as the police captain must always weigh the results of Tanzi's actions vs. the backlash such behavior will result in when the media reports on it.
Action packed with some soul, this one is quite fun. I can overlook the problems with this story when I am handed Italian-style car and rooftop chases!
Score: 7 / 10