Tag Archives: Netflix

Dragon Tiger Gate

All hail the great and mighty Donnie Yen! All become confused by the content of Dragon Tiger Gate! This film had a whole lotta promise and became strange as it progressed. It almost feels like some strange live action tribute to an anime. Oh well, Donnie Yen is in it. In this film of a powerful martial arts dojo and the threat looming over them of an evil master fighter, a handful of scenes redeems what was otherwise a comedic endeavor.

The film centers around two brothers in combat, Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen) and Tiger Wong (Nicholas Tse). After a long history of brotherhood between the two as a couple of wig-haired ruffians, these two go on to bigger and better things, in opposite directions. Dragon becomes the hard brawler of the Triads and Tiger fights for the justice of their dojo, Dragon Tiger Gate. The two worlds collide when the two cross dukes in a restaurant when a deal goes horribly wrong.

They have the same hair as children…

The gang is led by Ma Kun (Chen Kuan-tai), this old badass whose daughter and himself can send a softball yard with one swing. Connected to the Luocha cult, led by Shibumi (Louis Koo), it all starts with the exchanging of the Luocha plaque. And then all Hell breaks loose. From the very beginning, there is a shed of light. There are some big fights scenes with a lot of stunts and falls. It’s lookin’ ballin’s and fine. And then there’s some lulls in the action. And then a scene or two of fighting. And it goes this way for a while, culminating in the strangest of boss fights I’ve ever scene. But what can you expect from this anime/Dragonball Z inspired film?

Pretty good, eh?

It’s disappointing to me that Netflix chooses not to show certain foreign films in their original language with subtitles. This is a movie that desperately needed the original voices to save it from the mockery it got in English. This film has some great locations and sets combined with a B-C rated plot, but it just becomes moderately laughable when its done in English. The voice actors (which, I think some of who are the original actors…) don’t have the ability to match the emotions of the character’s facial expressions and actions. It sends a shiver of shame down my spine.

I did like the three main characters though. There’s Dragon and Tiger, half brothers til the end. And my personal favorite, Turbo. Shawn Yue plays this supremely comedic action hero named Turbo who specializes in nun-chucks, is the weaker of the three, but he has all the heart in the world. The Asian version of Rudy. Master Wong may defeat him one too many times, but he vows to become a great warrior. There’s lots of defeat, a strange power gaining scene in this tall pagoda tower with anal beads and an old man, and some cheesy CG effects towards the end.

Good old Turbo.

The movie ends worse than it began, but there’s a great use of weapons and martial arts skills. I was impressed with Donnie Yen’s stunt coordination and fight scenes, which was well worth the watch. I recommend the original version and avoid all the classic hilarity of a dubbed. All-in-all, it’s an entertaining dramatic martial arts film with a plot. Those are sorta rare, so check this one out. A decent 5.5 out of 10.

 


Wet Hot American Summer: “I Said NO!”

My friends had talked about this movie in passing and said it was pretty damn funny. From the title, I thought it was going to be some sort of American Pie ripoff. Not being a big fan of that idea, I put off watching the movie. I put off watching it for far too long. I should’ve watched it the day it was mentioned. This commercial flop turned cult following (by me and my friends) really is a worthwhile film to watch, and then rewatch as many times as possible. This cast has a bunch of star studded comedians right before their prime, and they destroy this movie with how creatively comedic they really are. A big nod to David Wain and Michael Showalter (Of the Michael and Michael Have Issues show, a show cut too short by Comedy Central) for their great writing based on their childhood camp experiences.

This movies got a lot of moving parts going on all at once. Lots of people getting lots of face time all at once, and its mayhem and a perfect parody of a 1980’s feel good camp film. First off, every camp counselor at this movie is well into their mid 20’s, early 30’s. It’s so ridiculously misrepresented that it has to be laughed at. And the whole point of this movie, as the title implies, is about sex. It’s the last day of camp, and every camp counselor wants to get with another camp counselor. But a lot of stuff happens in this day.

All the wonderful faces of the film.

I don’t wanna delve into every funny scene or situation, so I’ll just lay down the groundwork for this film. Beth (Janeane Garofalo) is the camp director, who is a bit slow in the womanly department.  For being a feminist, this fits Garofalo’s humor quite well (I’ve loved her since Dogma). She falls in love with Henry (David Hyde Pierce), an astrophysicist who happens to be vacationing right next to the camp. His inadequacy with social situations creates some funny outbursts. Coop (Michael Showalter) is seen as the main protagonist in the film, trying to win away Katie (Marguerite Moreau) from her toolish and hilariously stereotypical boyfriend, Andy (Paul Rudd). There’s Victor (Ken Marino) and his friend Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) and the girl who comes between them and their campers when it comes to a river rafting ride. And, meanwhile, Gail (Molly Shannon), the arts and crafts counselor, is being consoled after her divorce by her campers.

A training montage for the ages, with Christopher Meloni.

There’s a lot more going on here, but you are hereby warned. There is some gay butt sex between two characters you wouldn’t expect. And, despite its tastefulness, its quite graphic in its suggestion. But throw in even more great comedic actors like Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks (for sex appeal), Amy Poehler (eh, not so good…), Bradley Cooper, and Christopher Meloni as a twist in his acting style from Law and Order: SVU, and you got an all-star cast that actually has a majority of actors from Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim. Thank god for that.

This movie takes everything that John Cusack stood for in his earlier years and parodies it. For me, this was the comedic equivalent of Heavyweights. There’s the sexual/romantic undertone brought to the surface. The reversal of adults acting like children more than the campers themselves. A bit of slapstick/absurdist humor (I don’t think absurdist is a word, but it is by far the best and purest type of humor), and throw in an all day montage of drug addiction and you got yourself a cult following. Bravo for that.

Get some, Paul.

I love Paul Rudd in everything he does, and this film is no exception. Playing the “who gives a shit?” badboy with the best girlfriend who’s always mistreated is something he wouldn’t normally do. But after seeing his role in The 40 Year Old Virgin, my favorite role, this guy can do anything. And has done everything, even a bit of serious acting. Thank the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce that I have a love for the Halloween series, so I could discover Paul Rudd sooner. Throw in Bradley Cooper in a role I found funnier than The Hangover, how great is that? And Molly Shannon, really letting her Superstar shine through in a more grown up role than she’s done in a while, how classy. I could rave on and on about the comedic actors in the film, but I’ll cut this short before my grandstanding this film gets out of hand.

All you really need to do is get on Netflix, or buy this movie off Amazon, and you won’t be disappointed. It has humor for everyone and a cast you can’t help but love. In David Wain’s fashion, he created a precursor to Role Models that I wish I had found when I was 12 when this movie came out. (A bit young for it, I know). But any sort of comedic inspiration such as this needs to be taken in and developed into a greater body of humor. Campy, B-rated, absurdist humor. I’ll take another helping of that, and I’ll take that prequel to this film you’ve been talking about, David Wain. Just bring on the humor some more. A well deserved, cult following 8.6 out of 10. (If you’re into my kind of humor, Meet the Spartans, Dumb & Dumber, 40 Year Old Virgin Style. Or some similar combo.)

Thanks David Wain!


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.


RoboCop: The Future is Born

I had never in my 21 years of life ever before seen a RoboCop film. Hearing of how cheesy they look today and how they would insult my CG effects sensibilities, I was hesitant to check out this film on Netflix. My roommate did only the slightest of convincing and we sat down to watch. I was pleasantly surprised. Being hailed as a good film in its time for the issues it brought up and the icon it created, RoboCop can be seen as an overall achievement for all its done. And, right in the vein of claymation/animatronics that I’ve come to love too. Thank you Hellraiser.

RoboCop is the story of a rundown Detroit (as if Detroit didn’t already have a bad rap…) in which crime runs rampant. In such a desperate time, Detroit’s police force has been bought out by the Omni Consumer Productions Corporation (OCP). Hoping to bring up the efficiency of justice, OCP has created some prototypes to help this along. In error, OCP’s senior VP Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) creates a robot that malfunctions and maliciously kills a fellow worker. With this disaster under wraps, it is up to another boardmember, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) and his robotic-cop idea to shine. In this cutthroat world of business, anything goes. (And this is an issue later.)

The future of policing.

Meanwhile, a newcomer to the Detroit scene is hittin’ the streets. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is a transferred cop out to prove just how good he is. And prove he does. He gets kidnapped by a gang led by a man named Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). You may recognize him as Red from That 70’s Show. I’ll always remember him from RoboCop. Anyways, Murphy gets lit up. And I mean shotgunned to death. Arm destroyed, torso torn, shot dead. Animatronics at its most frightening. It was intense to say the least. You can guess where the rest of the movie goes at this point. Murphy is turned into RoboCop and helps clean up the streets. But there’s mischief afoot. And some inside guys need to be taken out.

Peter Weller, you freaky old bastard you.

All in all, the acting was sub par in this movie. I didn’t recognize many of the actors, although I had seen Miguel Ferrer in something or other. Peter Weller is more of a cult classic actor/T.V. production actor, and completely fell under my radar. You know who didn’t? Ray Wise. This best of the B-rated actors is quite high quality in my book. This Tim and Eric returner is the best hug teacher and Shrim disposer out there. Thanks and Great Job!

Other than that, not a lot stood out to me in this film. The plot chugged along, the ending could have ended a bit sooner, and I think this is one of those movies which could have a successful remake. And I don’t say that often. Some updated acting and an even darker element to this movie would really spice it up as a need to see action movie. Still set it in the 1980’s, this movie could benefit from a touch-up. But enough about that. The simple fact that this movie was so successful it created a merchandise franchise. I give props to a film that can create more than a movie from their idea. Good ideas about the crime of America and its economy went into this film, something to be commended on. Let’s see a remake soon… maybe. 5.5 out of 10.

You're in for a world of hurt, Red.


Blue Gender

I’m not usually a fan of pre-2000’s anime. I love some of it, but a big killer for me of such a wide array of anime is the choppy animation. I know the times have been a-changin’, but that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m excited with the direction that anime is going, and this is one of those shows that kicked it off. Blue Gender is the show of a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been disheveled by gigantic bug creatures called the blue. One of those mecha shows in line with Evangelion and a little bit of Gundam, this show provided more than action, it provided mental breakdown and disaster.

Blue Gender is the story of one man, Yuji Kaido (Eric Vale). Let’s start off by saying I was happy to see Eric Vale do good justice to another hero in a series of heroic mecha shows I’ve seen him do. Anyways, Yuji is a sleeper, one of thousands of citizens of the world that were sent to sleep in the 2000’s. Now, 22 years after his slumber began, Yuji is abruptly awakened into a newly advanced world that is being slowly destroyed by a gigantic race of bugs. You may be wondering, “How did these bugs get so damn big? Are we in Honey I Shrunk the Kids?” No, that’s a strange assumption to be making. It will all be explained at the end.

Eight legged freaks?

So Yuji is accidentally awakened and he spends the first episode yelling and running around this scientific facility, trying to figure out what’s going on. He nearly dodges death and finds his way into the arms of a young, unfeeling cadet, Marlene Angel (Laura Bailey). The two of these spend a big majority of the show attempting to get into space to regroup on Second Earth. And that’s not where the show ends. That is a big discovery and a secret I will keep. Well worth the wait that this show still delivers all the way until the end.

Yuji, always emotional and humming.

At first this show started off similarly to Casshern Sins (refer to earlier blog if you need a refresher). Yuji and Marlene’s gang of soldiers are in a race to beat the clock back to Second Earth. But a lot of people die along the way. But a lot of new people are met at the same time. The first half of the show, basically, is Yuji’s discovery of just exactly the difference is between living on Second Earth. The schism between the two is brutal and astounding to him. This is where the heartfelt apathy is felt for humans in general. Then the show picks up with a lot of action and some role reversal, and you’re left with a “we must save the world” situation.

I don’t mind this construction in anime. What I did mind was a not so subtle undertone of sex in this sci-fi/horror/mecha anime. With this whole idea of

Yuji and his B.A. mech unit.

free love and no consequences came off as strange. Nobody cares about each other and this is really emphasized through Yuji’s eyes. But what I don’t get is that all this free sex is unabashedly displayed and done in front of everyone else. I get that this is a common theme in sci-fi novels, but I think it reflects poorly on the genre in that it really doesn’t have to do with anything and just comes off as awkward.

This show gets steamy.

Animation-wise, the show looked fine. There was a good deal of gore and mature content, and I was okay with that. I can imagine its stint on Cartoon Network’s Toonami must have been greatly edited. The recording of the dub was a bit low and I missed some key lines throughout. I don’t know if it was Netflix, but that was a bit of a problem and detracted from watching it. But that opening song sure is bumpin’.  Overall, I really enjoyed that this show was more than your average mecha fighter. The characters had fight and soul, and it made out for a better plot and drama. I’m sure some other anime could take some cues from this formation. A well deserved 8.4 out of 10.


Hellraiser: It’s Pinhead Time.

As I frequently do with my friends, it’s time to begin the watching and review of another classic horror film series. This time (and soon to follow, others) it’s the Hellraiser series, the brainchild of Clive Barker. In the vein of sadomasochistic pleasure and pain in the extreme, this movie explores the avenues of prosthetics and  stop-motion animation in a way to frighten and disturb. With a new chapter in gore created, Stephen King said it best. “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” Ebert might not believe this statement, but what does he know, right?

At the start of this movie, we encounter Frank (Sean Chapman), a two-bit, no good, gangster of a hoodlum. He has found this box on the other side of the world and plans to use it to explore the extremes of pleasure and pain. Upon solving the box in his “zen temple of an attic”, the Cenobites (creatures from Heaven and Hell) come to him to show him the way of the flesh. As Pinhead (Doug Bradley) says, “We have such sights to show you.” Upon ripping his flesh and bones from his body and dragging him to a Hell brought on through a wall, Frank says bye-bye to the world.

Ahhhh, the Cenobites...

Years later, and for no perceivable reason, Frank’s brother Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) brings his strangely detached wife Julia (Claire Higgins) and rebellious daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to live in merry ole London town. Although only his wife is English. And there may or may not be an issue with accents in this movie for people perceived to be residents of the U.K. You make the call.

Have you learned anything, Frank?

While here, Larry Cotton absolutely destroys his hand on a rusty nail (check dat shizz for tetanus!) and accidentally brings back the remains of Frank’s body from the other side. It is then up to Julia and her past affair with Frank to reanimate his body, Imhotep/Mummy style. Bring on the parallels. Oh, and it’s up to Kirsty and her “boyfriend/interested bystander” (Robert Hines) to stop them. Get it goin’.

There were a few things that, after watching this once before at night, that I was in love with. I loved the reanimation scene of Frank’s body. It was absolutely grotesque and ballin’, all at the same time. Stop-motion animation, like in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, just gets my horror juices flowing. I wish more movies went back to the days of the clay. Accompany this with a Mummy worthy stand in of Oliver Smith as Frank’s decayed, yet regenerating body and you have the creepy crawlies when you see his muscles moving over bone.

The images of Hellraiser.

There were a few things that doesn’t work either. The believability of Frank and Julia’s affair. I liked the tie in to the sadomasochism with their violently physical relationship, but there was no real sizzle at any point in the movie. Yes, you get a bit creeped out when she kisses Frank’s unfinished body, but what can you do? Another thing. The strangely over the top acting from Larry Cotton. I don’t know what this guy was shooting for, but it really was absurd. Thank God for the Cenobites coming in to bring some acting chops (pun intended with Chatterbox) to this film. Kirsty wasn’t too bad, I mean, they invited her back for the second…

So pair these lacking parts with a breakthrough into the genre of gore/horror, and you have my favorite genre. When you can overload someone’s senses with horrifying images and a few jump scenes, what’s better than that? And the simple fact that Clive Barker’s vision for this film sparked 7 other movies? Let me get a piece of that action. With these cult classics comes some of the best horror of its time, and one of my favorite horror series in the collection. Thanks Netflix! A solid 7.3 out of 10 for this groundbreaker.

Pinhead says word. Rollin' with the homies.


Black Death: The Medieval Wicker Man

In a movie undeservedly put under the radar, it came as a surprise to me after watching Black Death that it wasn’t a more well liked and well known film. Among a handful of other medival pieces on Netflix (such as Ironclad, and Season of the Witch – review coming soon) this one, I would say, stood out as the #1 spot on the leaderboard. I mean, come on, you got Sean Bean as the lead. He puts his own amazingly remarkable mark on any and all medieval period pieces he does (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones). So its time to delve into those boils and see what’s good.

This movie starts (and focuses) around the account of a young monk in training. All around him, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) sees the pestilence of the plague as a blight from God himself. As the movie begins, we even discover that he himself was being tested to see if he caught the plague. As a devastating disease that just took hold of his Church by the throat, Osmund finds himself in turmoil. His new found love Averill

Ulric and his gang at a witch burning. Monty Python style.

(Kimberley Nixon), something the Church wouldn’t approve of, must leave the confines of the monastery and find safety in a forest village far from the reaches of the plague. She promises to go, but will only wait for Osmund for 7 days.

With this separation between human love and the love of God, Osmund must make a choice to choice (although it would be frowned upon if he left the Church at all). Upon praying to God for some sort of sign on which way to go, Ulric and his band of merry men roll up hard to the Church to find a guide.

There are repenters in every one...

There is talk of a necromancer in a swamp somewhere near where Osmund is familiar with. Double whammy for him? He can meet his wench on the way. Overjoyed at the excuse to peace out (deuces style), he volunteers to lead Ulric. After some minor preparation, they head on out.

Here’s where things get sticky. Some people die, some people may (or may not) have the plague, and this village they find in the swamp, hasn’t been touched by the plague. So Sean Bean and his boys suspect witchcraft. And they’ve brought some deadly torture devices to get some confessions and drag home one witches corpse. Utterly decieved, Osmund has no choice but to go on this miniquest for God and his way of life.

The travelling troupe.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but think The Wicker Man. it doesn’t matter which version (Cage or no Cage) but watch that first and prepare for the medieval version afterwards. It’s not all that uncommon, I’m sure, for a movie to be inspired by another, and I found this version of a society that’s not what it seems to be quite unnerving. Upon looking into this movie, I got worried they’d introduce some B.S. magical element into the story. And I wasn’t having that from a movie that came from a very real place. (Speaking of real, we’ll have to talk about the realness that is Season of the Witch.)

Sean Bean. Witch hunting.

Luckily, I was spared and the movie satisfied me like a goat-wrapped Snickers. And you wanna know who stole the show? It wasn’t Sean Bean. He gave his great performance as his stock Boromir character. It was good, no doubt, no doubt. The real ingenious lay in the true to life performance from Eddie Redmayne. A relatively young actor I’ve not heard much from (other than the big works he’s done that I haven’t seen yet) has been doing period pieces like its his job. I mean, My Week with Marilyn? Who but the Redmayne is lucky enough to do that? But what I really felt about his acting is that he wasn’t faking. He looks like a normal person (of the time period) and I felt his true anguish and terror. Nothing felt forced. It was a spot on acting job.

But I do give Sean Bean his credit. I know that every time I watch a Sean Bean

The evil wench, Carice van Houten.

film, I’m getting a true to life, Shakespearean performance. He cuts no corners when it comes to true acting. On some other levels I found John Lynch’s role as Wolfstan to be riveting. As the older and wiser 2nd in command, Wolfstan tries to protect all that he can and do so with kindess. That kind of heartfelt performance comes from some attention to detail. A little nod to Andy Nyman, a pretty funny guy who applied some dark comedy to Black Death. This was a big turnaround role for me last seeing him as the portly and spunky friend of a friend in Death at a Funeral (the real one). I mistook Johnny Harris, the big old badass with twinblades for Eddie Marsan, and if you’re familiar, you may understand my mistake. Both bald, both bearded, both decent actors.

Will love find a way in such dark times?

As with most adventure movies like this (not exactly adventure, I guess I mean questing), you get to know all the characters in the travelling party a little bit. But not enough to really care whether some of them live or die. I mean… Griff and the mute guy Ivo in this movie? One had boils and one couldn’t talk. Not much was lost when they were killed. Not to say their characters weren’t important, it’s just with movies like this, you can tell the expendables from the not so. So when it comes down to the last guys, then you feel the heartache.

And with this classic film form in mind, the storyline bloodily zips along to its conclusion. Some twists and turns and some witches who burn, the transformation of Osmund is the final result of this film. Told in an almost brutal, Gerard Butler in Beowulf kind of way, a bit of magic never hurts to mix in. This movie delivers how its supposed to and makes for a fine period piece. I’ll give it an 8.1 out of 10.

Truly symbolic.

 


13 Assassins: The Eerie 7 Samurai Brother

Brought to the international market by the famous producer of Departures, a famous film talked about in my household, Toshiaki Nakazawa, and given to me by the power of Netflix, comes 13 Assassins. I know I just did a review on a movie called Bodyguards and Assassins, but this movie comes from a similar historical (loosely based) standpoint with a lot of no nonsense action to it. And I mean a lot of no nonsense, balls to the walls action. There’s not a lot interspersed, as with B&A, but it delivers in the end with a huge ass scene of carnage.

Set in the 1840s Japan during the era of the feudal Shogun, a young political rapscallion, Matsudaira Naritsugu is running train all over the place. Son of the former Shogun and bound to rise in his political standing, this evil young man thinks he cannot die and is above the law. He even made a nugget sex slave out of a poor little Japanese woman. Hard to watch and hard to

Quite a bit of violence in this movie. Good costumes too.

stomache, some have even committed  seppuku, the ritualistic Japanese honorable suicide. Shown twice in the movie, it is an unpleasant act that, I have to say was tastefully done with the pull away shot that just suggests at the horror of slitting open your own stomach forcefully.

So this young man must be stopped. An aged samurai and political figure, Shinzaemon is planning on doing so. After seeing the injustices done on other family houses, no longer will those under the power of the Shogun stand for his little brother’s insolence. So, in true 7 Samurai fashion, this guy goes out and finds 13 samurai, the last of a dying occupation, in order to do the job. These guys range widely in status and character, but they all plan on fufilling their duty with conviction and honor.

Can you tell who's who?

After some awful background on this political Shogun relative bastard, the training montage begins. Not really a training montage, but a recruitment scene and subsequent honing of the skills. Followed closely by a planning stage and execution of said plan, we get a little trip to the site of the final (and really only) big battle. There are ambushes, strategies of true intellect, and dire tragedy. With no one safe and everyone’s honor on the line, who will come out victorious?

I must say the overall feel of this movie was true to its 1963 original. I’m also sure there has to be some influence from Kurosawa’s classic of 7 Samurai. I wouldn’t have put it in the title otherwise. A bunch of tough guns coming

They're really going at it...

together to stop a greater evil in a big showdown? Not many survive and evil must be thwarted at all costs? Yeah, I got that vibe from this movie. I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was in black and white either. The grainy quality of the film and the guerilla style of the landscape and shooting really gave it that end of an era, last action of a dying and barbaric peoples feel. That’s what I enjoyed, and the true suggestion of violence without entirely showing it that you get from horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. A true classic approach to film.

This has a true 7 Samurai feel to it.

What I didn’t like about it was the confusing nature of the characters. I can’t help it, but I gotta be a bit racist. Coming from an American, white person perspective, there were a lot of Asians running around who held very little difference in stature and character to me. You can attempt to pick out your favorites, but the movie made no effort in order to discern one person from another. Maybe this was done to show the collective resolve of the characters, but it became tedious towards the end.

Another thing that I hated/loved at the same time in this film (and I mean those terms lightly) is the action in the film. For those who like a bit more stylized violence in their viewing experience, you may not find that here. For those who love the chaos and the brutality of a film that just takes one massive battle and puts it into a gigantic perspective, this may be more your style. Coming from a priviledge era of spurting blood and close ups on decapitations, this movie pulls away from that. Focusing more on the feel of battle and not the gruesome details, you may not see more than some red hacks and slashes on bodies. And at the same time that that is happening, I’m not exactly sure how true to the Samurai Way that this film is. These guys, despite their training, seemed to just go out and wave their swords around like 13 year old tweens wanting to defeat Darth Maul in their backyards. I guess I’ll leave that up to people who actually know true sword technique.

Pretty damn cinematic.

With a bit of a lackluster acting chops cast, some of the more emotional scenes were lost on me. Maybe not towards the beginning with the injustices done by the evil Shogunate, maybe not even the death scenes that abound in this movie, but surely on the delivery of lines. This detracted from the period piece I felt this movie could have been, but if you’re a fan of Samurai 7, you need to check this movie out. Kurosawa would be proud. A decent 6.5 out of 10.


Bodyguards and Assassins: Poetry in Revolution

This foreign film from Hong Kong is a diamond in the rough on Netflix. I really gotta hand it to the foreign film section of Netflix in general. Whenever I wanna go for a movie that I didn’t even know was critically acclaimed, I check that shizz out. This movie surprised me. Me and my roommate Ian (that infamous Ian of my other blog posts) we love foreign martial arts films. We absolutely lose our shit when we watch these. And this one was like, “Okay, I’ll deliver that. But guess what. You’re going to feel like a G.D. revolutionary after you watch this film. Just wait.”

And wait we did. With a sweeping and dramatic 2hr. 20min. dramatic climax into some dramatic action scenes, this movie delivers intellectually and

There's definitely some of this.

emotionally. You may think, “Hm, Bodyguards and Assassins huh? Sounds like a straight ahead martial arts mind destruction machine.” And it should make you think that. Because that does happen. It teases you with a bit about 45 minutes in, but the last hour of the film really gives it to you on a grand scale.  In a historic context (they mention actual people and death dates in the movie, so many non-fiction?) this movie enters Hong Kong in a time of revolution and a call to action. This wonderful film pushes just what it means to sacrifice for your beliefs and what needs to be done to do so.

A time of revolution.

The plot of the film, as me and my friends struggled to understand at first, is that of a man named Sun Wen. This intellectual revolutionary intends to head to Hong Kong and debate on the issue of China’s corrupt Qing dynasty. With no safety and no secure way to get him into the city, a handful of citizens take up the call and arms in order to safeguard their country’s future. Headed by Chen Shaobai (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and Li Yutang (Wang Xueqi), these two older men who finance and head the revolution place their lifelihoods and lives on the line in order to see justice delievered.

The rickshaw driver makes his worth known.

With a unique cast with so many characters from so many parts of this small section of Hong Kong, it can be a hassle to try to keep them all straight. I had trouble myself, but I felt that the individual attention to storylines and amazing costumes and design really individualized each character. With each character came a heartful angle and allows audiences to connect. Not in a sappy way but in a way like… Black Hawk Down. You know they may not all survive, but you have hope and the want for them to do so. Everybody can have their favorite character, and it all works out.

And finally! Here comes a cinematographic film with great fight scenes not

What a picturesque scene.

directed or relating to Ang Lee. And no John Woo doves either. From director Teddy Chan (this guy has been busy since 1981…) and writer Peter Chan and Huang Jianxin (related? Not gonna assume due to racism…) comes a film that was worth the hype I didn’t hear and the Hong Kong Awards I didn’t know it won. 35 nominations and 13 wins from 4 different award affairs? Word. The action scenes though! Leave it to the Asians to make a hooked and metal linked harpoon into a deadly assassin weapon. Some of the fighting may have appeared overdramatic, but it led to a movie I would consider to be worth every minute.

What a great cast. Word.

I can’t talk specifically about the acting, but for most of the cast to be nominated for best actor or best supporting actor, I think, speaks for itself. As in most foreign films, I take the emotions I see through the characters actions and faces to be the true bridge between the gap in language. Another thought goes out to a good subtitled translation. It better sound more poetic than what they’re actually saying to work. If it sounds to corny of colloquial for even an American audience, it won’t cut it.

But this movie is definitely worth the watch. The beginning is slow with development, but it is well worth it by movie’s end. For those who love a good period piece that really has the feeling of the time its set in, check this out. And for those who love a damn good thrashing when it comes to action, be patient. It’s coming. Seeing as this is acclaimed and I loved the shit out of it, 9.3 out of 10 for a movie about Bodyguards and Assassins. Get some. 

Really. Get some.

 

 


Gentlemen Broncos

Hello, my name is Dr. Ronald Chevalier. You may not know who I am, but I am the successful author of over 30 trilogies in the Cyborg Harpies series. I love the use of mammary cannons and mind probes. It’s best to use characters with suffix names like -ainous. I draw all my own cover art and am currently working on a new series that “inspiration” hit me like a troll named Teacup. I am one of the greatest characters of all time. Who am I truly? I am Jemaine Clement of the folk rock comedic band, Flight of the Conchords. Welcome to my film, Gentlemen Broncos.

From the same creator/director who brought the world the tame/awkward comedy of Napoleon Dynamite comes another movie of the same caliber. In this version, Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a young aspiring sci-fi writer. In his stories, Bronco (Sam Rockwell) is a hero of the Yeast, a material I’m not at all familiar with. In his pursuit of the evil Lord

Bronco on a battle stag. Nice.

Daysius, Bronco attempts to reclaim his stolen gonads. In his journey, Bronco encounters cyclopses, (?) pudding, and battle stags.

With this true potential inside of him, Benjamin hopes to have his work published, and he plans to do this in a contest at a local authorian convention, Cletus Fest. (Similar to a sci-fi convention, but nobody dresses up and everyone is a reclusive ego booster.) While there, Benjamin encounters the host of the convention, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, acclaimed writer in the aforementioned paragraph. Swept away by his presence and knowledge of cover art and troll clans, Benjamin submits his work, The Yeast Lords. Little did he know that in Chevalier’s current state, he was in need of some desperate inspiration. And it would come in the form of plagiarism. From this point on, it is a steady slope of failures and downtrodden feelings for little Benjy boy until he can pick himself up, trusty blowdart in hand and a mission to reclaim his creative piece of work.

Who doesn't love Dr. Ronald Chevalier and his "ainous"?

Now I’ve heard from other review sites and such that this movie was a poor attempt. For those who don’t like Napoleon Dynamite, I can see how that could come across that way. Hell, even for those who liked Napoleon Dynamite and hated this movie, I can understand trying to compare the two might be futile. But this movie is on another plane from the good old N.D. of our early high school years. It was all the rage (not trying to generalize a huge populace’s high school experience) back then to quote the bejeezus out of this movie, as it was with Anchorman. But what stood out to me about these films (and the lesser successful awkward cousin, Nacho Libre) is that these were wholesome films. There was no need for swearing or gross out humor that comes with a lot of F-bombs. This movies took a childen’s PG base and made an outlandish film out of toned down slang and some of the most awkward laugh out loud scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And I credit the shizz (see there, sample that) out of Jared Hess for these films. He’s brought a genre of film to the world that doesn’t need Hangover like situations and vulgarity to make it a piece of comedy. And that be the truth.

So let’s get back to the point of this film and just what makes it tick. Coming from a sci-fi enthusiast that may slightly phase me to be a bit biased about this film, (Dune all the way) there’s a certain charm to the science fictional. Set in worlds outlandishly unbelievable and yet endearing, this genre of writing is populated by the sexually deprived and socially awkward. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci-fi novel and marveled at how clinically nerds analyzed sex. (Being a nerd myself, word.) With no true substance of emotion (usually) we are given the world of a sci-fi writer from a logical perspective. And we are told this movie from the perspective of a young boy who, by the end of the film, truly learns how to stick up for himself and express emotions.

Surveillance Does. I hate those.

Accompanying this story of redemption comes two other stories. One, the truth of Benjamin’s novel, The Yeast Lords. Bronco and his journey of revenge goes hand in hand with that of Benjamin and his reclamation of creative property. Set in a world even I would watch, we are given cheesy graphics and explosions that endear an entire world of Star Trek and Star Wars fans for the pure effort the movie puts into the story is attempts to portray. Contrast this with scenes of the dialed up, transexual version of Sam Rockwell as Brutuss, the effeminate fighter of the cyclops and surveillance does. (He hates those.) Within these two extremes, the entire story of Bronco and his lynx that will rip your throat out comes to an end as we connect with a grow with the real world situations that Benjamin has to endure.

Lonnie, you strange bastard.

And with that real world comes some of the strangest characters I’ve ever seen. Starting with Jennifer Coolidge as Benjamin’s overprotective mother, Judith, and ending with Hector Jiminez as Lonnie Donaho, a strange-mouthed director/producer of the failed low-budget movie made from Benjamin’s novel, there are so many strange characters in between. There are few lulls in laughs in this movie (depending on your humor) and quite a few unexpected, crazy scenes that even I couldn’t handle. In comparing this to N.D. or N.L. ( Lonnie was also cast in Nacho Libre as another ridiculous character, go figure.) this movie goes farther than the other two. I mean, there’s a python pooping onscreen for godsake. At an unexpected moment too. It’s just all gold.

I could go on and on about all the ridonkulous characters and strange situations they find themselves in, but then I would be telling the whole movie. I’d rather leave that for you guys to go out and find out for

One day, Jemaine Clement will rule the world.

yourselves. I loved this movie. For a fact, I watched this movie 4 times in less than 3 weeks, if that means anything. I showed this to all my friends, and I hope you guys will go out and watch it too. It’s a bit hard to find (Damn you, Netflix) but it’s well worth it. Utilize your libraries and let me know what you guys think of it. Cause I thought this movie was an 8 out of  10. (About the same rating I’d give Napoleon Dynamite.) Sweet.