Tag Archives: kidnapping

My Name Is Bruce… Campbell.

I am not afraid to admit without guilt and shame that I am a Bruce Campbell fan. I watch the Evil Dead trilogy with religious zeal and enjoy Sam Raimi immensely as one of my favorite directors because of the work he and Campbell did together. (This extends into Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and the new Spider-Man can go and suck on that. Screw the new movie, without even seeing it.) The fact that Bruce Campbell has made a life for himself, shamelessly making B-rated movies in his cheesy and infallible way makes

Bruce Campbell. Here to save the day, in a cheesy way.

anyone who sees his movies realize the lovable goofball that is inside him.

And My Name is Bruce is no exception. In this ode to Bruce Campbell, the small town of Gold Lick has unleashed a demon back from its days when it had Chinese men building the railroads. The got locked down in a mineshaft and a demon known as Guan-Di looks over them. And bean curd. When two unsuspecting teens looking for a romp with two quite strange and unattractive goth girls, all Hell breaks loose.

The cheap Chinese demon emerges!

After the comical slaying of these two bimbos and the friend who accompanied him, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) seeks out his personal hero, Bruce Campbell. Being a big fan of all his films and knowing that he’ll know what to do, Jeff kidnaps Bruce. Thinking it’s all part of the birthday surprise that his manager Toddner Mills (Ted Raimi) set up, Bruce goes along with it, expecting the cameras and stardom. He’ll do anything at this point, living in a trailer with his drunken dog and no one that loves him. He falls for Jeff’s mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen) and saves the day. What could be better for Bruce Campbell?

This movie hits all the major points of Bruce Campbell’s B-rated career. He fights

A little bit of that lovable cartoon comedy.

sci-fi/fantasy killer bugs and demons, he swoons the ladies with his famous lines like, “Give me some sugar, baby” and “Hail to the king.” His cheesiness in this film is outweighed by the arrogant figure they create for him that he has to overcome throughout the movie. He has a big head that no actor like himself should have, and rightly so. But everyone can’t get enough of the Bruce at the end of the day.

I have to say it, but that Grace Thorsen has mighty big boobs in this movie. Give me some of that sugar, baby…

It was a reminiscing sort of a film that just takes you back through the heyday of Bruce. A cheesy little podunk town and goofy comic lines that no one but a 6 year old would laugh at. There’s slapstick and a bit of swearing that sets this above a PG-13 rating, but it’s all in fun. Even Sam Raimi’s brother Ted makes some character appearances

The unstoppable Bruce Campbell.

throughout the film. Overall, I was impressed with a film that takes a childhood hero and makes a joke about him. All in fun, this movie is good for any Bruce Campbell/ Evil Dead/ Bubba Ho-tep/Anything he does is gold fans out there. For what it was, it was a 7.1 out of 10.

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Raging Phoenix: Passion in Drunkeness

In one of the more visually stunning and passion filled Muay Thai martial arts films I’ve seen, Yanin Vismistananda performs far better than I could have expected. As the leading heroine in Raging Phoenix (AKA, Jeeja Due Suai Du), Yanin shows more heart and courage (with some more brutal and flashy moves) than she did in Chocolate (although I love that movie). Panna Rittikrai does it again with some amazing stunt coordination in this one.

Deu (Yanin: also spelled Dew for some reason…) is a down and out on her luck drummer in a punk band. She has scummy boyfriends and is constantly being fooled. (She’ll say this at length in the movie.) With trust issues and an appetite for the drink, Deu gets herself in some trouble. After being chased down in a parking structure, Deu

She is both pretty and deadly.

gets away by chance with the help of a devilishly good looking and bearded Thai man (He’s also in Bangkok Knockout. I didn’t know he was one of Panna’s main boys, but Pod is in this one too… Review coming much later). He turns out to be called Sanim (Kazu Patrick Tang) and he’s good at taking down thugs with bladed kangaroo legs.

Look at that handsome man. Who wouldn’t fall for that?

With bringing her back to their hideout, Sanim encounters some unexpected collateral. Deu meets Pig Shit (Nui Saendaeng) and Dog Shit (Sompong Lertwimonkaisom), two fellow fighters with an agenda. What Deu becomes so fascinated with is a drunken style of fighting (made up for the film) known as Meyraiyuth. With montage scenes and lots of drinking, Deu and the gang take on the Jaguar Gang, a bunch of thugs looking to kidnap women just like Deu for nefarious purposes.

What I liked most about this movie was the interesting new style of fighting. Called Meyraiyuth, this badass feet of fury technique is actually an infusion. Mix classically ballin’ brutal Muay Thai finishing moves with a Capoeira dancing style that allows you to outwit your enemy and you can easily evade attacks with a lot of trauma. There are some great fight locations and a lot of newly

Pretty dope, right?

invented kicks and finishing moves that always surprise me in these Muay Thai action films. When you see one of these you expect the same old stuff, but Panna Rittikrai always has something new up his sleeve.

This was news to me too.

The acting was fine in this one, with the exception of a few actors. But that’s not what these movies are about, right? It’s about the artful technique of martial arts. It’s got the word “arts” right in there. Who cares about the plot and talking if the fans aren’t there for that? There were some cheesy CG effects and one or two strange other things, but the movie held its own as a story of love, loss, and the channeling of pain into what you do with your life. Yanin “Jeeja” sold it and it all worked out in the end.

And the end is what I wanna talk about. I’m used to these Muay Thai films with the main hero busting down hundreds of guys with lethal finishing moves, one right after the other. But this movie focused on a handful of major fighters taking on their counterparts in some long, well developed fight scenes. And that’s what makes the end so brutal. In her pain and despair, Yanin channels death into her palms and  DESTROYS the main villain. She absolutely does some of the best, most lethal moves I’ve ever seen that are actually doable in the realm of physics. I was welling up with tears with the impassioned music and the fists ripping across the screen. That doesn’t happen often, but I know when I’ve found a new favorite fight scene. So, with that in mind, I give Raging Phoenix a lethal 7.6 out of 10.

That’s a beauty. Right to your face.


Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all

Hammer time.

kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.

I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.

If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…

Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.

Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek

I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.

revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.

Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).

The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)

The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and

A strange sense of Korean comedy…

again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…

Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.

 

 


The Dictator: An Actual Plot from Sacha Baron Cohen

I would say I’ve been a pretty big supporter and follower of Sacha Baron Cohen since his Ali G Show days. I loved all his characters when I watched it on HBO and to see them grow into full length movie characters is wonderful. Borat was a wonderful undercover comedy film. Then he followed that up with Bruno, my favorite of his alternate egos. And then, from all this talk about Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and Gaddafi comes Admiral General Hafez Aladeen. His ability to focus in on one idea that plagues people’s prejudices and preconceived notions on the world around them is spot on as usual. But this one comes with a twist.

Aladeen (Cohen) is a dictator from the North of Africa. In the sweltering heat and tossing sands (a la Hussein), Aladeen lives his life as dictator in luxury. His WMD’s are coming

Aladeen and his majestic hawk, in luxury.

along, he has an all female amazonian entourage and guard, and his palace is so gigantic and wonderful, especially with his fleet of golden Hummers. He’s had sex with everyone (including the great Schwarzenegger. Megan Fox makes an appearance. I wasn’t surprised.) and he is an unforgiving ruler. He sends so many people to death that it’s expected.

As I expected Megan Fox to be in a situation like this…

And then, with the U.N. meeting in NYC looming, Aladeen is kidnapped and tortured. Clayton (John C. Reilly) is a forgiving CIA operative and lets Aladeen off with a shaven face (and then he accidentally burns to death). Stuck in America with only his wits and nobody who believes he’s the real thing, Aladeen’s uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) is planning on making Wadiya into a democratic country with the ability to sell their oil. Aladeen must stop them and keep Wadiya a dictatorship. This is the only time you’ll see a dictator as the hero/protagonist (unless you’re watching a film in their country, then probably you will).

This movie is full of a bunch of funny satirized stereotypes and Middle Eastern humor. As usual, Cohen self deprecatingly attacks his Jewish heritage once again. The Chinese law of one child per family is attacked with the baby birthing scene (as seen in the trailer) and masturbation has never been so patriotic. Sacha Baron Cohen is rather tame in this film in

The Man.

comparison to others, only one or two penises on screen and a handful of sexual references (unless you mention the Saw like birthing canal scene).

I really hoped this happened on the streets of NYC.

There’s a great supporting cast of cultural ecclesiastics  in this film. There’s Ben Kingsley, using his darker complexion to play a Middle Eastern man in this film. I’m always surprised when he pops up in comedies. Jason Mantzoukas plays Nadal, the weapons expert and friend to Aladeen in this movie. This man of Greek descent has been doing comedies for a while now and this is just another one. Bobby Lee rears his freaky head in this movie as a U.N. representative who can get a B.J. from whatever celebrity he wants (insert Ed Norton cameo here). His outrageous nature is made for this movie, and that dude will do anything to strip down into a thong. And one of my favorite appearances was Adeel Akhtar as one of Aladeen’s posse, Maroush. Throw in Fred Armisen and the revitalization of Anna Faris’s career as the love interest hippy, Zoe, and you got yourself a satirical comedy.

The best scene.

I really don’t think there’s anywhere that Sacha Baron Cohen won’t go. His terrorist attack scene in the tours helicopter is hilarious. Ironically, he and Jason Mantzoukas are speaking Hebrew. This points out the fact that a lot of languages, although all different may sound similar to an American audience. And all the iconic songs that he turned into an Aladeen medley! Everybody Hurts, 9 to 5, Let’s Get it On, how much that the way the songs were sung alone made me laugh! Cohen even goes to a black man’s funeral in order to procure a beard from a severed head that reappears constantly in the movie. With no bounds and no forgiveness, Sacha Baron Cohen delivers on all cylinders. 8.1 out of 10.


Baby’s Day Out: My Slapstick Childhood Returns

I love this movie poster.

The second I saw that this film came on Netflix, I pooped my pants, very similar to what Baby Bink would’ve done (although they’re 18 now…) . This movie made me laugh so hard when I was younger and I really found it to be an endearing movie for children of all ages. Heck, I’m 21 now and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. The Worton twins are adorable and have great movie presence for how young they are. It may have taken a lot of shots to get those adorable faces to do what they wanted, but they got the right shots. My childhood was not soon forgotten when I watched this movie again. I remembered every part.

Baby’s Day Out is the story of a baby in a suburb of Chicago. With his well-to-do family always wanting their child to be the center of attention, Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave) want Bink’s picture in the newspaper. (They use such pretentious names to show that all they care about is high class image and money.) Three no-good lousy crooks find the photography company and take their place, posing as professionals. Their names? Joe Matengna, Joe Pantoliano, and Brian Haley. If only they could’ve gotten a third Joe/Italian gangster to fill out the trio…

The dastardly trio.

Baby Bink is kidnapped and the crooks demand a ransom. With the FBI on the job (such a high class mission right?), it’s only a matter of time before Baby Bink is found. But Baby Bink doesn’t need their help. He has the power of comedic timing and slapstick comedy and wit on his side. And this is the exact point where a lot of critics were lost on finding this film redeemable. It is cheesy, but at least they got a good cast to fill out the humor. Look, this is Joe Pantoliano, before Joe Pantoliano was Cypher from The Matrix. Yes, he did good work before, and after, but that was when Pantoliano came into my awareness.

Look at this cute baby. Staring death in the face.

And I have no problem with the cheesiness of this film. It can be cheddar for all I care, this movie appeals to the child’s audience and the child in all of us. And my inner child tells me I loved slapstick back in the day. This movie delivers it well, just like Home Alone. And apparently this did well in the box office… And in Southeast Asia… Weird.

So bring in the wonderful elements of great Italian actors, slapstick, and a cute baby, and this movie is gold. It is so endearing and the music sweeps you away into the children’s book that Bink is reliving. That’s what I liked about it, that element of magical whimsy. The magical sense of adventure that lies in the bottoms of all of our hearts is reinvigorated by a baby crawling around Chicago. Who knew?

This gets a bit ridonkulously funny.

And there are so many great scenes! The apartment rooftop scene screams of parkour gone wrong. (Just watched District 13: Ultimatum. Can’t get Parkour out of my head.) Matengna delivers his big boss with a boo-boo lines so well and, surprisingly, Pantoliano is a great buffoon. I love that he’s bald in this like he always is, it gives a great slapstick element to the trio. My favorite scene in the Primate house is wonderful and gets me every time. Not to mention the fire crotch scene (you’ll get what I mean when you watch this too and relive your childhood). With all things good and cute in this movie, who wouldn’t want to watch this for the coo’s and awwwww’s, mixed with a laugh in there for all ages? It’s a wonderfully nostalgic experience. A well worth it 8.6 out of 10 (by my childhood grading scale).

Look at this cute face. Check it.


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.


Rush Hour: Chris Tucker Comedy Hour

So I watched this my roommate recently and had a blast the whole time. I forgot how funny these movies could be. Chris Tucker, as the title of my blog suggests, really is the hilarious force behind this movie. Every line out of his mouth was perfectly delivered and left me literally laughing out loud. With the combination of Tucker’s black humor and Chan’s pretty much sick stunts, this movie makes out to be a pretty entertaining ride.

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan become this super-cop duo of Det. Carter and Det. Lee in their search for the ambassador from China’s daughter. She has been kidnapped by Juntao (Tom Wilkinson) and she is being ransomed at a hefty price. Although Lee and Carter bungle up the drops every once in a while, they get the job done in the end and save the day. Pretty simple construct.

Most of the humor in this movie comes from the culture shock that both Lee and Carter face when they’re forced together. There’s this hilarious scene in which Lee confuses Carter’s greetings as something that he’s allowed to say, and Lee must use his badass moves to quell the situation. But enough about Jackie Chan as the Chinese version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Chris Tucker is where it’s at. Every line out of his mouth is either a slap against Lee and his ethnicity or something witty said in such a stereotyped way that you can’t help but laugh at it. There’s something about Tucker’s appearance and high, tinny voice that forces me not to take him seriously.

There’s not much to say cinematographically about the film, or even acting wise. Brett Ratner does a great job in directing all three of the Rush Hours and the acting, from mostly “A” to “B” grade actors is on par or better. The one thing I do like about this movie is the cameo appearance of Chris Penn, one of the Penn brothers who I always enjoy seeing. Back to Ratner though, I will say this about him. Any guy that can go from Rush Hour to Red Dragon to X-men, I find to be pretty darn impressive. The guy who wrote the story for the movie Ross LaManna is great. Great stuff he thinks up. Oh, and I almost

Ken Leung. Badass.

forget to mention, Ken Leung is in this movie! Can anybody say Sang from Saw?!?!? YES.

I just thought, “Hey, I like this movie.” Not my ultimate favorite, but let’s review it. It’s worth a laugh and it’s great seeing Jackie Chan at the pique of his prime. (He’s getting older now and The Forbidden Kingdom was kinda sad. I mean, yes, Jackie Chan, Jet Li. Awesome. But no to the story/white kid.) All three are great and I really can’t choose my favorite. But check back in to The Abyss and you might find the others reviewed later so you can decide for yourself. 6 out of 10.

By the way, it’s been suggested that I do a top 10 favorite anime/T.V./Movies/Video Games/Books/Whathaveyou, and I think this is a great idea. If anyone would like to comment (Please) and suggest genres or things I should review, please let me know. I’m up for everything and as you know, The Abyss encompasses Everything.