Tag Archives: action

The Bodyguard #1 & 2: Not Your Average Thai Film

I’m gonna combine the first Bodyguard and the second, as one flows into the other. I loved this movies so much that I even watched them back to back. Petchtai Wongkamlao is a hilariously funny guy and he did a great directorial job with the onscreen humor and action. The movies didn’t focus too heavily on himself and he did this quite humbly. A lot of the humor comes from plays on words and references you have to get from knowing his work with Panna Ritikrai and Tony Jaa. Either way, these movies will kick your ass with their in your face guns and side splitting foreign comedy.

The first films starts off with Wong Kom (Petchtai Wongkamlao) as a bodyguard/official operative. He has come to this international convention to guard a major player named Chot Petchpantakam (Surachai Juntimatom). With the ensuing attack and lots of wire fu

Wongkamlao, the unconventional action star.

(Kung Fu with wires. Think a la Crouching Tiger.), Wong attempts to save Chot, but he is shot in the crossfire. The rest of the film focuses around Wong’s committed attempt to regain his honor and Chot’s son, Chaichol (Piphat Apiraktanakorn) trying to keep his father’s business running. With assassination attempts, a crew of street rats, and a rags meet riches story, this movie has a lot of humor and heart.

Just some Thai humor for ya.

In the second Bodyguard, things are a bit different. Wong is an undercover agent attempting to take down a crime syndicate that is dealing in weapons of mass destruction. After infiltrating a night club as a “provocative dancer”, Wong screws up yet again. Some explosions and gunshots later, Wong must become a famous luk thung (basically, a Thai country singer) star and keep everything from his wife, Keaw (Janet Keaw). With more laughs and quite a bit more explosions, this film surpassed the budget for Ong Bak with 1 million Baht (Thai currency), becoming the biggest film to be made in Thailand. It would be eclipsed by Ong Bak 2 shortly after.

Tony Jaa makes an appearance as the shopkeep boy.

What made these American standard B-rated action films so great is that they didn’t take themselves seriously. Wongkamlao is spinning through the air with two guns cocked and completely infinite in bullets, whipping around the room, absolutely annihilating people in very strange ways. The actors aren’t to serious about their villainous ways and it really shows throughout. Biggest example is the Thai comedian that shows up in both films. In the first, he (and I wish I could decipher which character he was) always wears something inappropriate and never talks. In the second, he dies at the end without saying anything. What makes this so great is that (and I hope it was fake) at the end of the second film, this guy blows up at Wongkamlao for not including him more in the film. I think the Thai sense of humor is spot on and could do very well over here in America.

There are so many over the top explosions and gun fight scenes that you can’t take this movie too seriously. It’s all the

That’s a bit vulgar… and a midget.

kind of action that makes Tony Jaa’s films so popular, but even more so. And that’s another great thing. They advertised in Thailand and America that Tony Jaa was going to be a big player in both these films, and he shows up to do a 5 minute action scene. It always has something to do with one of his other films, and it’s great to see that he can laugh at himself. (Where’s my elephant?)

All the heart and guns in the world.

This movie really shows just what Thailand is like. It’s more than all the action scenes and comedy that comes from these movies. And Wongkamlao knows that. There’s poverty and crime, burgeoning cities and night life, even a rich cultural aspect you don’t always see in an action film. And that’s where the heart comes from in these movies. It’s a movie you set out to do with your friends and come to love making and showing off. I’ve done it myself a dozen times. It’s not serious, it’s just showing that you can make an entertaining movie, and it doesn’t have to be award winning. And that’s why I think American audiences should check out these movies. Embrace this new culture and realize we’re a lot more alike than we think. And for this, The Bodyguard series deserves a comedy induced and action packed 7.5 out of 10.

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I Saw the Devil: South Korea Does it Again!

So recently in the past few years, I’ve been really getting into South Korean films. And not just horror, but action, drama, and

Byung-hun Lee. Complete badass.

suspense/thriller. It all started with The Host (starring my favorite South Korean actor, Kang-ho Song) and has branched into similar movies by director Jee-Woon Kim. And this includes The Good, The Bad, The Weird, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited, and A Bittersweet Life. And I have just recently added I Saw the Devil, Je-Woon Kim’s latest masterpiece. And I loved every minute of it.

This latest film by Je-Woon Kim is a suspense/thriller with a few elements of twisted gore and horror, the perfect mix if you ask me. Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee), a special agent/detective, has just recently lost his wife was to a brutal murder, not knowing she was pregnant. Upon discovery, Soo-hyeon decides to pursue this serial murderer and get revenge. Once he finds Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), Soo-hyeon goes hardcore after Kyung-chul with a fury and vengeance that almost seems unfair.

Using his secret agent skills and the aide of a tracking device, Soo-hyeon proceeds to beat the living crap out of Kyung-chul and then admitting him to a local hospital after every beat-down. With no idea why this is happening, a cat and mouse game comes about for the ages. Who will prevail?

Min-sik Choi. Sick and fantastic.

There are some freaking great aspects to this movie. First of all, the mind game that’s created echoes another film that Min-sik Choi starred in, Oldboy. Without a rhyme or reason to this menacing, violent game, people are killed left and right in pursuit of justice and cold-blooded revenge. What’s nice though, is that there’s a clearly defined line between good and evil. You know for certain that Kyung-Chul is evil and Soo-hyeon is good. What changes is the blurred line between the two and who becomes more evil in the end, and also, more importantly, who has the last laugh.

With the pain and emotion behind the actors, both for different purposes, the hidden killer inside

Thank you for a fantastic movie, Jee-Woon Kim.

everyone is unleashed and survival becomes a determining factor after all. With sick and subtle gory scenes, an occasional bare hands brawl, and even some hack and slash action, this movie goes places where normal cops can’t go. To bring in the bad guy and exact your revenge, just how far would you go to do the deed? A definite 10 out of 10.


Priest: Just as Good as Legion

I’d been waiting quite a while to see this movie with my roommate. Ian and I always get that excited feeling around our college finals when its time to take some time off and go catch a flick. And catch a flick we did. One of the best flicks of the year, if I do say so myself. Priest, another incarnation of Paul Bettany portraying the badass side of himself in real life, but in a movie. Like Legion, Paul Bettany’s character descends from his high throne in order to protect those around him. And this is the way that I like to perceive Paul Bettany. A man of the people. And it must be quite true.

Priest, to put it simply, is the story of a priest. But not any ordinary priest. This particular priest is of an order of priests that

Paul Bettany. He messed up that familiar.

was created for one sole purpose. To eradicate vampires. And not your everyday human-turned ¬†vampires. These vampires are creatures, fearful of ¬†light and hungry for human flesh and blood. And they can only be defeated by the light they fear or priests, the greatest super-weapons on the face of the Earth. And the priests have done this. Now in retirement in the “near future,” these priests roam the streets hated by their fellow humans for representing the state of fear they all once held.

But not is all well. The vampires were placed in “camps” in order to repress any more outbreaks. But they have risen in great numbers to attack the humans once again in their high-walled cities. Led by Black Hat (Karl Urban), these creatures will stop at nothing to kill every human on Earth. So, once Priest’s family has been assaulted and his daughter kidnapped, he must pick up his crosses once again in order to protect those he loves. With the help of Hicks (Cam Gigandet), and a fellow Priestess, (Maggie Q) this rag-tag group of vampire hunters must run against the clock in order to save their world. And do they? Well, please watch it and find out.

Nice tatoo.

Well, let me just say 50% of this movie is top-notch actors. Paul Bettany, it goes without saying. His dramatic, A-rated acting never fails to amaze me, despite whatever role he may take on. (Some of my favorites?: Knight’s Tale, Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind, and, of course, Legion) And, in my opinion, Paul Bettany always gets better. Maggie Q gives a great supporting role as a fellow Priestess. Despite most of her role being focused on action, she brings a

Maggie Q. Always looks good walking away from an explosion.

dramatic/romantic element to the movie. Karl Urban, for the third time in his career, pulls of an action villain worthy of the movie. And Cam Gigandet, well… he’s just doing his own thing. Not anything special. And Brad Dourif (Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings) makes a surprise appearance as a vampire “cure” seller. All-in-all, Paul Bettany carries the acting load in this film.

Nice save. And nice movie.

The director Scott Stewart, is primarily a special effects guy. Other than Priest, he’s done (surprise) Legion. But his special effects really come out in this film. Probably why they released this in 3-D. But I really feel (although I’ve never read the graphic novel) that this movie does the graphic novel justice. Or I would hope that it did. I really thoroughly enjoy films like this, and I feel there will always be people out there like me that enjoy action films with a new twist. And it’s movies like this that really give me hope for a future of movies that don’t necessarily look promising. So thank you Scott Stewart and thank you Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of Priest, for bringing about what I looked forward to for 5 months. 8.6 out of 10.


Sucker Punch: Everything You Want From Zack Snyder

There is only one word that can completely encompass what this movie truly is.

Incredible.

Sucker Punch. Yes.

Plain and simply incredible. When I went with a crew to watch this movie, some didn’t know what to expect. Others were excited. Even few others, me and my roommate/best friend Ian were just about ready to cause some mayhem up in that theater because of pure joy. This movie, as of this year, is my favorite movie of 2011. Heck, best of the past two years, let’s just throw 2010 in there. I thought, hey, The Fighter will clinch my favorite and do okay at the Oscars. Granted. Now… If only Sucker Punch had come out in 2010. It would have blown The Fighter out of the water. This movie was some ridiculous shit. Hands down.

You really will be unprepared.

Let me try to explain this without giving anything away. Not much to give away though, it’s really all just about the experience. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is a supposed mental patient accused of killing her sister and almost murdering her father. She became deranged after her mother’s death and couldn’t take it any longer. Her father takes her to a mental asylum in Vermont and she is held there until she’ll be lobotomized in a week.

Parallel to this runs Baby Doll’s inner fantasy of being taken to a bordello in which the girls dance for their clients. Baby Doll, being that unattainable virgin, is being withheld for the high roller (Jon Hamm) that is set to come in five days. Baby Doll plans on escaping before that day and enlists the help of four other girls at the bordello. Sweet Pea (Abby Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). With their help, Baby Doll further escapes from reality into her mind as she dances to obtain the four items she needs to stage an escape. And that’s basically it.

Let me just start off by saying that Emily Browning was amazing in this movie. She’s beautiful, talented, and really come into her own in her early twenties.

Emily Browning. New Favorite Actress.

I’ve seen all her movies since 2000, major and minor roles (Ghost Ship, Darkness Falls, Lemony Snicket’s, The Uninvited, now Sucker Punch) and enjoyed every one of them. As she’s grown up, she has taken on a wide array of movies, from horror to children’s to action and the occasional drama. If I had to pick a favorite actress that I’m going to watch from now on, I’m going to place my bid on Emily Browning.

And that’s not to demean the rest of the girls in this film. I really enjoyed the Abby Cornish/Jena Malone combo. Acting as sisters who followed one another to the bordello, these two really did feel like sisters. I’ve found Jena Malone great since Donnie Darko with her alternative look and quirky acting, and now I’ve got a new actress to look out for. Abby Cornish, a new up and

Sweet Pea & Rocket

comer from Australia, was quite the actress, and I didn’t even know she was from there! In other movies she’s done (Bright Star, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) she stuck to her roots and did more period pieces. But I find now that she’s broken more into action and other forms of drama, I feel we’ll be seeing a lot more of Abby Cornish.

Blondie & Amber. They're okay.

And then there’s Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung. Let me put it this way. Vanessa Hudgens is attractive. She may be talented in the way of singing and Disney Channel acting. But the part as a supporting cast member in Sucker Punch was about the only thing she could play. She was more for show than for play if you catch my drift. Jamie Chung on the other hand was a bit better. Playing as the fragile transporter bordello girl in this movie was not a stretch for a girl I’ve only seen in Sorority Row (not bad, I must say, even though most critics wouldn’t agree. It was brutal, at least.) Oh, AND SHE WAS IN DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION. Enough said.

Who I have to give it up to in this movie is Oscar Isaac. That man can act. As Blue, the bordello boss and mental asylum orderly, he switched between roles flawlessly at the end and kept up that “don’t mess with me, I have a short fuse” type of acting style. Although he may seem not that strong or menacing, he pulled it off with his voice and actions throughout the entire film. The first thing I’d seen him in was Pu-239 (great film) and I remember him distinctly in

Oscar Isaacs, Prince John. Better in Sucker Punch

Robin Hood as Prince John, quite the effeminate, yet brutal character. I guess if I had to compare him in acting to anyone, I would say Joaquin Phoenix (like in Gladiator).

Now, let’s talk about the special effects. I’ve heard people liken this movie to a two hour Final Fantasy cutscene. Yes. I agree. But about 1,000 times better. This movie was insane when it came to special effects. No need to see this in 3-D, this movie was just as badass in 2-D. This movie has everything (probably why they called it Fantasy, Sci-fi, Suspense, Thriller, Action… etc.) There are zombie WWI German soldiers, Orcs, Dragons, killer robots, you name it, this movie has got it. And it’s not cliche. It gives an authentic feeling to the old classics that every man in the world has imagined battling. And then it does it. Zack Snyder directive attention to the details of the small things, example, the texture of bullets and shell casings, the way glass looks when it is rained on, the inner workings of a functioning robot. All present and accounted for, slowed down, and shown in detail. That’s what I call devotion to the art of art direction.

All in all, this movie is hands down the best movie I’ve seen in a year. But what else do you expect from Zack Snyder. Let’s recap, shall we? 300, Watchmen, Guardians of Ga’hoole, Sucker Punch. That beginning of a laundry list of badass movies is what I like to call ridiculous. Zack Snyder is fastly becoming one of my favorite directors. 11 out of 10. Yes. 11.

Oh, and the SOUNDTRACK. Check it out, it’s quite amazing.