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The Business (2005)
Lacks any real punch above playing to the Lads Mag Culture
Proudly proclaiming itself to have "More cocaine that Casino, more guns than Goodfellas and more swearing than Scarface", Nick Love's 2005 movie "The Business" is a rags to riches tale of a young criminal who escapes certain jail time to the "Costa Del crime" in Gibraltar and Spain to go into business with a self-made gangster.
The idea that this movie somehow should belong in the same category as Casino, Goodfellas and Scarface seemed a very tall order, and unfortunately it actually serves more as an ironic epitaph as it never even gets to the same level as any of its more famous US counterparts.
Overall, the movie isn't too bad. The plot is interesting and well developed, the characters are well cut and the pace is crisp and to the point; but I felt that there were parts that were obviously tailor made for the Lad's mag market it was quite targeted and marketed at; for this I point to the over-the-top swearing, constant MTV cut-away shots and a wide-boy faux British Cockney gangster attitude that is not only annoying, and frustrating to watch.
As many montages of money, drugs and air-plane drops you can muster will not hide the fact that plot points are glossed over very quickly; the back story of how they, in Spain, got in touch with Columbians drug barons who were seemingly happy to fly the thousands of miles to Spain to do one small deal seemed very unrealistic.
One thing I did like was the political, greasing of the local mayor to ensure their supply is not touched by the police and law enforcement; however when a certain member of the British Cockney gang is "killed" I do wish they'd explain how and who, rather than just going for the big shock value.
Disappointingly, there was very little of the "Costa Del crime" concept that was never really developed; instead the film is really just about a very small group of 30-40 year old's who think they are the biggest thing to ever exist; only for them to realise actually they're just a lot of bark and not much bite.
And this is the main problem I have with "The Business". For all its talk of being a gangster movie, its just a small bunch of mouthy cockney gangsters who play up to the Lad's mag crowd, and shoves in random drug moments and pop-culture references in a bid to make itself edgy and hip.
In addition, the movie looks and feels very cheap; with a limited or low budget it hides its low quality behind the veneer of expensive villas and sunny beaches.
Should this be in the same category as Casino, Goodfellas and Scarface? Nope, not at all; its not even in the same league and my advise would be - if you want to watch a modern gangster movie it's probably best to stick to the American gangster movies or, if you want to watch a British one, see Layer Cake instead.
Overall, the film quality is very poor and the Lad's mag gangster flick's claims to be in the same league as US gangster movies actually serves as a weighty reminder of just how good those movies are, and how poor this is in comparison.
Transporter 3 (2008)
Derivative and predictable
Jason Statham returns in his third outing as "Frank Martin", a "transporter for hire" in what can best be described as derivative, predictable movie where the action is just as fast and frenetic as the previous two outings.
The main problems I have with this movie can be best summarised in this bullet point list; 1) The action is good, but I could only count 3 or 4 main set pieces. 2) The martial arts sequences have been polluted by the same MTV quick edits that plague the Bourne series, and I hate it! Why do directors do this? The plot involves the kidnapping of a politician's daughter, and Jason has been hired to transport the daughter to an unknown location wearing a bracelet that would explode if he left his car.
Indeed the exploding bracelet was the main draw for me in this movie, I was expecting more action sequences, especially with Corey Yuen at the helm.
Instead of the inventive action sequences that one would expect from a Hong Kong production, we get a Hollywood hack story that never gets explored.
For example, in the Sammo Hung TV series Marital Law there is an episode where Sammo is wearing a jacket that will explode if he doesn't stop moving and it lead to quite a few interesting action sequences. Similarly, Hong Kong is packed with inventive ideas tied to a plot device; something deeply lacking with this movie.
I also felt the Derivative and predictable nature of the movie was more of a "template", almost to the point where you can guess what's going to happen next.
I also felt this movie was done quickly, without much thought to fill a gap in the market; it almost felt the producers wanted to cash in on the movie title and just threw some ideas to a wall and wrote a script around whatever was stuck on the wall.
Another thing that may infuriate watchers is the lead actress, Natalya Rudakova who plays "Valentina". I found her irritating and totally unnecessary to the story.
Anyway, if you liked Transporter 1 and 2, and don't mind brainless action fodder, you may enjoy Transporter 3; but if you're looking for something new, exciting and a movie with fresh ideas you may need to look elsewhere.
Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Chris Tucker: The Movie
"Rush Hour 3" is by-the-numbers summer action movie, but by the the time you've left and revisited the other prequels, you'll soon realise just how shallow, empty and pointless this movie really is.
Caught up in development hell, script rewrites and complex salary negotiations, "Rush Hour 3" was always going to be a complex affair. The word was that Chris Tucker wanted $20 million and top-billing for his part.
It seems that his bargaining worked, because instead of a fun summer action movie, we got Chris Tucker yelling, screaming and zinging everyone in sight with his huge voice and overpowering everyone with his ego.
Yes, Chris Tucker in this movie was funny. But he was in almost 90% of the movie... and it seemed it was I was watching "Chris Tucker: The Movie".
The plot of this movie is that the Ambassador of the first Rush Hour is shot by a sniper; leaving clues that ultimately lead to Paris - where Lee and Carter get mixed up with the Triads and Lee's brother.
The plot of this movie is very similar to that of the first "Rush Hour" movie, indeed the Ambassador, his daughter and the whole secretive Triad Mafia all make an appearance in both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 3, indeed - the plot twist at the end (a plot twist that you can see coming a mile off) is even ripped off from the first movie.
Asides from the ripped-off plot and Tucker's loud voice, Chan is left to do very little; there is none of the trademark Chan stunts, none of the flashy martial arts -- Chan is Tucker's "Kato", a sidekick to Tucker's movie; Asides from a few "freerunning" parts and a few fight sequences, Chan doesn't do very much at all! There is also a heck of a lot of CGI in this movie, the para-sailing stunt is so obviously CGI enhanced, and the fight on the structures of the Effiel Tower..
Maybe it was the budget, maybe the film was very rushed (it certainly felt that way), maybe the studio didn't want high octane stunts and wanted it more "family friendly"... maybe Chan is getting very old and can't do the same stunts that his fans expect from every movie he does -- whatever the reason, the fact that Chan's role is diminished and reduced is really depressing, annoying and frustrating - given that you've paid good movie to see a good action movie.
Sometimes I wonder if audiences will get bored of the family-safe action movies such as Die Hard 4.0 and Rush Hour 3... I hope that audiences will demand real action, and not this kind of template mess, which I feel does not add value to either action, or comedy movies.
Yes, "Rush Hour 3" is funny, there are some really good sequences, but asides from Tucker's loud, egomaniac character; there is nothing to see in this movie, and I would advise you to watch it when it comes available to rent.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Enjoyable, but totally flawed in every area.
John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) have spent most of their working life crashing weddings in order to land girls and get laid, but in the middle of a wedding Beckwith falls in love with a Presidential Candidate's daughter (Claire Cleary played by Rachel McAdams) and the movie basically follows Beckwith love affair with Cleary.
In what can only be described as a "Four Weddings and a Funeral" meets "Old School", this is a frat pack movie has plenty of laughs; but it also has a big void.
I felt in watching this movie that I was watching Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn team up, their characters weren't important cause you know it's just Wilson and Vaughn goofing off, trying to out improvise jokes trying to cover up for the fact that there weren't many jokes to begin with.
What also annoyed me about this movie was that Wilson and Vaughn are just too old to be playing Porky wannabe's. This "Frat pack" also contains a brief cameo from Will Ferrell and his inclusion is meant to be a wake up call to Wilson's character; but ends up reinforcing the concept that his character was just an afterthought.
Yes, the movie does have its laughs and outlandish charm. Rachel McAdams has a great smile and the romance between Owen's character and Rachel McAdams is well done.
In the end, McAdams finds out the truth about Owen and Vaughn and forces them to fess up; leaving Owen desperate to tell her how much he loves her and even storms Vaughn's wedding to do this.
The movie could have ended there; but the ending totally ruined the movie -- When Vaughn touts a major wedding they can gatecrash, McAdams's character basically says "let's crash the wedding. Despite the fact I spent the last 30 minutes of the movie hating you for doing that exact thing, and was the main reason for breaking up with you." That whole scene should have been cut out and let them drive off into the sunset.
Overall I found this movie to be enjoyable, but totally flawed in almost every department.
Shao Lin Si shi ba tong ren (1976)
Carter Wong and co take on the multi-chambered labyrinth of the 18 bronze men
As a young orphan, Shao Lung was raised in a Shaolin Temple after his grandmother abandons him there, fearing that an evil General will kill him after killing Lung's father.
Lung spends countless years perfecting his kung fu in order to gain revenge against the cruel General. As he reaches adulthood, Shao Lung decides he must leave the temple to discover the truth about his past and get revenge.
But in order to do this he must he must pass the Shaolin monks most sternest test; the 18 Bronzemen.
The 18 bronze men is a collection of fighters, some of them wearing super thick armour which make them look like robots, others painted in Bronze/Gold paint and fight in different styles within a multi-chambered labyrinth filled with a mixture of deadly traps and deadly fighters.
Once Shao Lung passes the tests (with Carter Wong in exceptional form), the film becomes less entertaining and incredibly boring.
Whilst Tin Peng (Shao Lung) is cast as the leading man, it's clear that Carter Wong is the main man and out-acts, outperforms and outfights Tin Peng at every turn. Indeed, Wong is enjoyable as the star pupil of the Shaolin monastery, barking insults and pushing students to their limit and beyond.
After Shao Lung and Tai Chung are out in the real world there's no more bronze action instead we have the discovery that Shao Lung is in fact the son of a Ming general who was slaughtered by Fei-Lung's evil Ching General (realised in a blistering swordplay flashback).
There's also a poorly developed love interest in the pretty form of Polly Shang Kwan. Polly gets to do some kung fu, and seems to be blessed with an amazing leaping ability.
In addition to this, there is a good sub-plot of a mole within the Shaolin monastery; who feeds the Evil Ching general with information - especially the styles of kung fu that the 18 bronze men use as well a super secret kung fu found by Shao Lung in a book.
When the mole is uncovered to be Lung's childhood best friend, he is aghast and demands to know why his best friend betrayed him -- then comes the most convoluted twist of the movie; the best friend explains that he is the child of a high-ranking Ching soldier and gave an oath to his father, and presumably the Ching empire, that he would kill the child who showed the most zeal for destroying the Ching empire (ie: Lung).
Adding to the twist, Carter Wong explains that he was raised by a bodyguard who saved Lung's father and Wong, like the mole, gave an oath to protect Lung until he got revenge.
This plot twist I found to be confusing, it seemed like Lung's destiny was to remove the General from power; sorta like Luke Skywalker. But it did seem a bit strange that Lung was predestined to do all this, and all the people surrounding him were predestined to help Lung achieve his goal. Maybe the scriptwriters wanted to portray Lung as a Prodigal Son -- it didn't really work out.
The end has an excellent, climatic four-way showdown with the Evil Ching General (and, for some reason, his many clones); who has learnt the skills of the Shaolin monks and constantly changes his style until Carter sacrifices himself, leaving the General open to be killed.
The 18 Bronzemen has impressive production values and looks pretty expensive in places, and although the outcome is never in much doubt, the climatic four-way showdown is well-staged by Kuo.
My issue with this movie is that that 18 bronze men do not offer any real threat to the heroes in this movie. They should have been the personal bodyguards of the Ching General, or at least try to kill the heroes; too many times you hear a voice boom "PASS!" as the Bronzemen stop fighting and let the heroes move to the next room.
Although a reasonable fun film, this 70's kung fu movie lacks real danger and wasn't the classic all-out kung fu movie I was lead to believe.
Satan's Cheerleaders (1977)
So what was this film actually about?
One night I couldn't sleep and I suddenly found myself watching "Satan's Cheerleadeers" thinking it was one of those Russ Myer films but I could get over just how bad it was. Badly acted, badly shot, woeful film quality and a total bemusement of what was going on.
At one stage it's a "horror" film which is never scary and on the other it uses "sexy" cheerleaders who seem to give sultry looks, stand with their weight on one leg professing about sex in a deeply Russ Myer way - that would have been okay if the story made any sense or, indeed went anywhere.
This film was just awful, woeful and just plain bad.
Knight Rider 2000 (1991)
So where's KITT?
So they decided to make a Knight Rider TV movie with no budget, no action, no stunts and they decided to play it very seriously.
An American future without guns sounds like a good idea for a b-movie, but in a TV show that had tactical nuclear warheads being sold on the black market to shady businessmen every week you kinda expected a bit more from this lacklustre, banal TV movie.
There's no KITT, they've replaced the famous Black Trans-Am with some red car that does NO STUNTS whatsoever. Devon is killed by the bad guys, but should have just retired.
This movie is so bad, so awful, so woeful that I dread to think what the much rumoured "new" Knight Rider movie, Knight Rider 3000, will be like - if its anything like this it'll burn and burn badly.
The Medallion (2003)
Chan's fall from 80s/90s action hero to 00 bore draw continues...
Since Chan moved from Hong Kong to Hollywood, it seems he's carved himself into an impossible situation where directors, screen writers and producers seem to want Chan to do virtually the same plot, ideas and stunts with a little "twist" or as we like to call it, the fish-out-water plot.
I feel that Jackie's fall from the mega heights of 80s and 90s action hero to a bore draw continues in this film, which has elements of different ideas from different films put together for (what was deemed at the time to be) the most expensive Hong Kong movie of all time - although I can't really see where the money was spent.
In fact it feels like they put a bunch of ideas into a hat and pulled out words to form a plot, story and said "okay, let's throw in some Matrix sci-fi CGI and that will do". The result is credulous to say the least.
Chan also, like other films before, surrounds himself with younger women in this case, the fantastically eye-pleasing Claire Forlani (and her very striking eyes), although this eye candy doesn't help with the plot, which looks and smells like a poor-man's version of the Golden Child.
I didn't really like this movie the CGI took too much away from the danger, risk and stunt work that we all know Chan for. Indeed, CGI has already taken so much away from stunt work that I think this film underpins the very reason why audiences do not feel the same when they see a "real" stunt compared to one done with CGI the reason is quite simple, CGI stunts offer no connection between the viewer and fear.
Overall, this movie has its moments but they are few and far between, this film highlights Chan's fall from action hero to a children film hero - bore draw.
Chan's recent eagerness to get back to Hong Kong dramatic movies and hard nosed action spectacular show that he is coming back but I think the damage might already been done because of poor films such as The Medallion.
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
The war on drugs gets a Machiavellian make-over.
In a Machiavellian storyline, Jack Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) is embroiled in a political agenda to cut off the Columbian Drug Lords and get "revenge" for the US president - whose friend was been murdered by "drug tsar" Ernesto Escobedo (played very well by Miguel Sandoval).
The plot is very good and reminds viewers that even politicians can be the bad guys - but I think it overplayed the whole "Ryan is good", perhaps Clancy was annoyed by the rhetoric of politicians and decided to write a novel about it.
The action sequences are very well done too, but it tries too hard to be a suspenseful political action-adventure movie by incorporating ideas and themes from all the other Jack Ryan movies and putting them into one box.
I don't mind the fact its not the book, I thought this was a very good film about political agendas and the war on drugs.
During the film we see Escobedo and Ryan team up - but I thought this would be a novel thing to have in future films and novels - Ryan's contact in Columbia just happens to be the country's top drug lord....but it was not to be.
Anyhow - I thought this was a good political action-adventure movie that perhaps tried a little too hard on the action.
Hollywood proves again that it has money to burn.
Okay, I'll be honest, I didn't like the first Charlies Angels movie - it was too fluffy, but I did like the action, some of the jokes, and most importantly I enjoyed Crispin Glover's Thin Man.
So what happened in the second movie? It seems the movie producers just drove a dumper truck filled with money and said they wanted to make a summer action movie without actually thinking about how the audience is actually meant to enjoy a movie that is more about personal ego than it is about the story, plot or stunts.
In this sequel, the girls are hired by the government to recover two small rings that hold the entire list of people on the witness protection scheme. I don't know about you but I felt it was odd that so much data could be stored into such small rings, not only that - they were so damn easy to steal too! Then we get to the whole subplots of Dillion's romance with an Irish thug and how she can't kill him but can easily kill 1,000 other random men. The thin man makes a welcome return but doesn't actually do anything. He now is a complete joke. I mean, he was almost cool in the first and now we have a joker. This movie really shows that executives don't really care about this movie. I don't even think the stars cared either.
Then we get to the stunts and the overall dumbing down of the whole kung fu. In the first the kung fu was fresh and demanding. Now we can see the quick cutting between frames when the girls are fighting and the way the girls' arms are bending when they punch. Then we have Demi Moore as the Evil Charlies Angel.
Okay, she was good in a sort of pretty kind of way - but her "knowing of the Charlie's Angels' fighting style" was not really used as well it could have been. Instead Moore uses twin gold Desert Eagles (which she struggles to keep up) and cries about how Charlie didn't really love her and how she had ambition to become more than an angel. Okay, but why exactly does this make her the bad person? The end fight sequence is pretty lame too. Why is Diaz the only character to be able to fight Moore? I think the director should have watched the ending of Jackie Chan's "Project A" where three heroes face one super-bad guy, the director could have had a similar sequence, but instead ruins it with a homage to "Hollow Man"...
Despite all this, the movie and its potential - it is ruined a lot by the bad stunts ruined by badly rendered CGI. I still remember with affection movies like Blue Jean Cop and some of the earlier Jackie Chan movies where stunts meant action and action meant danger. So why has Hollywood forgotten about it? I don't know, all I know is that in this movie, we are proved once again that Hollywood has money to burn.
Overall this movie is rated a 1/10.
Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
A movie definition of "Bling Bling".
Contains Spoiler Andrzej Bartkowiak directs the third in his "bling bling" kung fu movie in which American rapper DMX and his motley crew rob some diamonds from a bank (or something), specifically black diamonds which his team are stealing to order for Mark Dacascos "professional" team.
During the robbery, DMX explains to his team the value of the coloured diamonds. This is a plot point, but this is ignored, as is most of the other stuff in the movie.
Jet Li, in a muted and frankly uninspiring role, plays a silent Taiwan spy sent to retrieve the black diamonds, although from the start you don't know whether he's on the good side or not because he's often seen talking to Dacascos. I thought this was pretty clever, but this idea is never really developed - this is because Li hardly ever speaks or emotes anything. He just looks weather-beaten and bored. I feel sorry for him as an actor. Anyway, back to my review.
DMX is one of the "heroes" of the movies, despite being a high-tech diamond robber. Unfortuently I wasn't sure whether I should cheer for his character or not. He's meant to be a bad guy, but is touted throughout the film as just doing the job to get by... that might be so, but if he's struggling to get by why is he driving an expensive German sports car and wearing flashy leather clothes?
DMX's daughter is kidnapped, and this is where the film falls apart and tries too hard to be a "hard-nosed" action movie, but I kept saying "oh come on" right throughout the movie. One example is the chase between DMX's porshce and a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Another example is when Jet Li decides to scale down a high-rise building by going around the outside and using his hands to hold onto the ledges and then falling onto the next level. This film moves so much inbetween reality and wire-fu it makes the film utterly ridiculous. Especially when DMX starts doing wire-fu, beating up Jet Li or running up walls to escape dogs.
Anyway, DMX's team decide to take the black diamonds to an annoying Tom Arnold (who has Tanks in his backyard) to get them valued. DMX gives Arnold ALL of the diamonds! Earlier in the film we saw DMX professing some knowledge of the value of coloured diamonds, and one would assume that the black diamonds are the most precious - so why did DMX give Arnold ALL of the diamonds? From that moment on I knew this movie was pointless. Arnold then goes to lose all the diamonds...
Mark's team is meant to be a professional team yet make so many mistakes its hilarious. When they kidnap DMX's daughter they don't tie her up or blindfold her until later on in the movie. The team always bitches against each other, especially the guy who likes to think he's the reincarnation of "J. Robert Oppenheimer" (the father of the atomic bomb who famously said "I have become death, destroyer of worlds").
DMX's daughter is not scared at all by the big scary guys with sub-machine guns and tries on many occasions to escape - in one hilarious sequence she drives a van with blacked out windows - and yet Mark and his team don't do anything other than tie her up. They should have put her in a cell.
Anyhow, other random stuff happens - DMX gets chased by cops whilst he's on a quadbike and Jet Li fights UFC fighters in a cage - but this is where you can see Andrzej Bartkowiak ideas for a hard nosed action movie fall apart... he cuts back and forth from the UFC fight and to the DMX chase. This really annoyed me, and made the film even more messier.
By the end we're treated to an auction of the black diamonds and an all out action sequence begins with a shoot-out between a Tank and a guy with some sort of twin mounted machine gun. Naturally the tank wins but the damage it does is very minor.
Anyhow, Mark tries to escape via a helicopter and Bartkowiak who must have watched too many episodes of the A-Team decides to blow up the helicopter - but Mark stumbles out of the wreckage without a scratch..
Then, Bartkowiak treats us to yet another one of his clichéd "ring of fire" fights - I've seen this idea done so many times and its never, ever worked. Bartkowiak makes it worse by cutting from the much anticipated fight between Mark and Jet Li to the numerous fights that are meant to be going on at the same time.
The fight between Mark and Li isn't very special and is ruined by poor lighting, the rain and the horrible cutting from one fight sequence to another - it reminded me of "The Phantom Menance" where it moved from one sequence to another and it totally ruined the very good ending. This is very similar.
In the end the cops arrive, but for some reason decide not to arrest DMX for stealing the diamonds or Tom Arnold for possessing a Tank. Heck they don't even question Jet Li of why he's spying in United States.
But its all okay, we've been watching "crade 2 the grave" and none of it matters. All I learnt from this movie is that all that matters in the world is 'bling bling' -- all style and no substance.
Runaway Car (1997)
Even Judge Reinhold said this film was rubbish.
This very poor, ultra-low budget car chase movie which is meant to be a knock-off of Speed stars Judge Reinhold in what he'd later to go to say was one of the worst films he ever starred in.
This TV movie has a lady who goes to get her car repaired by a dodgy mechanic and gets a car with the brake lines cut and the accelerator has now got a mind of its own and now travels over a 100mph (although its more like 30).
There are some good dramatic scenes, but they are all made laughable by the constant cutting to scenes of cops sweating or radio DJs sweating or other people sweating to yet another "near miss"...
Anyhow during the film the chasing radio and TV channels ask their viewers to come up with ideas on how to stop a runaway car...
The police can't think of one good idea of stopping the car.
There's tons of ideas they could have used. For example, they could have: 1) Popped the tyres 2) Jack the back of the car up with a pickup truck so it couldn't move 3) Use the water canisters they have on American freeway intersections and place them infront of the car - the water can slow down a car. 4) Put the car into reverse / Use the handbrake? 5) Drive the car into an airport and make it go around in circles until they run out of fuel...
But I think the pinnacle of how dumb this movie was, was when Mr Reinhold went on to query why they didn't just turn off the engine.
A pointless TV movie.
The Glimmer Man (1996)
Not as bad as the crummy title suggests, but could have been better.
In this se7en-styled knock-off, Steven Seagal and Keenen Ivory Wayans are teamed up together to track down a typically vicious serial killer.
Along the way they encounter Russian Mafia who, we learn from this movie, all have tattoos on their forearms, but Seagal, can beat them quite easily. He also has a mysterious past and was called "The Glimmer Man"... ugh!
The mysterious past thing is just so lame in this movie. They call him "the Glimmer man" because you only see a glimmer before he kills you. This sub-plot point is actually irrelevant to the whole movie. Why can't he just be a cop who just happens to be very good at martial arts? Why isn't the serial killer called "the glimmer man"? It's actually quite annoying when you think about it.
There's also a sub-plot about the smuggling of chemical warfare from Russia - but where the heck is it? It never appears in the movie. The heroes don't even try to go to the docks to try and find the container shipment, or use SWAT to storm warehouses that belong to the Russian Mafia.
This movie is filled with sub-plots that are, to all ends and purposes, totally irrelevant to the movie.
The acting and chemistry between Seagal and Wayans feels forced - but I didn't mind because the action and story kept this movie moving.
One of the things I liked about this movie is that half way through Seagal himself is considered a suspect. I thought this actually be a sign of intelligent writing in the movie, and I was expecting a shock ending or twist with Wayans discovering he's been working with and helping the serial killer... It'd be far more intelligent than this drek of an action movie.
Anyway, by the end we're treated with a quite good action/martial art sequence with the lead henchman who dies quite grissly.
Overall, this movie has a crummy title and can't decide if it wants to be intelligent or just another brutal action movie. It chooses option 2.
The Tuxedo (2002)
Hollywood nails the first nail into the coffin that was the 'Jackie Chan' movie
I recently caught this movie on satellite, curious to know if this movie was as bad as everyone says it is.
I personally didn't think it was THAT bad, but it is bad. It's good fun to watch, but it does hurt if your a fan and your seeing a screen action legend being "McDonaldised" on screen.
This is because it is a Jackie Chan movie - therefore you expect quite a lot. Instead, we get a cardboard cut out job of other Hollywood produced action films.
Firstly you can tell that this has been a cut-and-paste job from all of the other Jackie Chan fish-out-of-water Hollywood movies, therefore the film just feels pointless, whimsical and boring.
Secondly, like all other Hollywood produced Jackie Chan films, the action direction was poor and lacking. The fighting and action sequences suffered either from poor cutting, or poor zooming.
Future action directors who want to make a Jackie Chan movie should learn from Chan's previous films if they want to make a good action movie.
Thirdly, the characters surrounding Chan don't actually DO anything, especially the annoying character played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Why does Hewitt's character, a scientist who specalises in water, an expert in kung fu?
I think the wires and CGI made Jackie Chan look out of place, and it also makes you feel whimsical about any scenes that show threats or danger. It takes the edge off the movie.
In yet another fish-out-of-water plot, Chan plays New York Cabbie who is hired to drive around British spy and all-round charmer Jason Issacs, who for some reason has a $2-billion suit in his house.
After an assassination attempt, Jackie is forced to wear the Suit and become Inspector Gadget - no wait, I mean James Tong, super spy.
Anyway, after some more pointless scenes of hilarity and mischief, the suit is given to the bad guy, the CEO of a major Water company, and he becomes all powerful. But wait, James Tong finds another, £2-billion suit (where did this come from?)
The end sequence does boast some good fight sequences between the CEO and Jackie but suffers from very poor editing and camera direction.
This film fails because it is just another cut-and-paste-job, a vechile for Jackie to "show off" his skills. This idea just patronises the movie viewer and the many fans.
It's clear, to me at least, that this film marks the end of the Jackie Chan action movie genre, because nearly every film after this one has been the same.
Someone once said that Jackie has just become another Vegas showcase, doing "party tricks". I had to think long and hard about that statement. After seeing this film, I can agree. Jackie is much more than just a "fish-out-of-water".
This film marks the end of the real Jackie Chan, and the beginning of the Hollywood Jackie Chan.
Rating: 4/10 (mainly for effort)
Justice is blind.
Ben Affleck plays Matt Murdock, a "blind" lawyer who wants to take on criminal mastermind The Kingpin played by Michael Clarke Duncan.
Duncan hams up his role with delight as he staggers around in his really nice suit, the way he delivers his lines and his whole body language remind me of James Bond villians of old.
Whilst there isn't really any plot to this movie, there is a theme - it is justice and revenge, it deals with them quite well.
Unfortuently it suffers from too many "dark monologues" that don't really have any impact. This is mainly because Affleck cannot deliver it well enough. I just didn't believe he was actually blind. I think this would have benefited from having an un-known blind actor in there and doing a whole Christopher Reeve thing. But that's me.
Anyway, the movie suffers from lots and lots of CGI, bad stunts that make you think "hang on a second, this daredevil does not have ANY super-powers except enhanced senses, so how can he do..." but, this train of thought is thankfully interrupted by Colin Farrell - who seems quite insane.
Anyhow this movie is above average, and suffers from too many things that just didn't make this film click. Sometimes it was boring, other times it relied too heavily on 'wire-fu' or cgi-enhanced stunts.
If you've ever needed proof that cgi is ruining action sequences, this is the film to watch.
It's good film to pass time, but I don't think I came away from this movie actually learning anything or thinking differently. I think this film should have at least tried to make people think differently, otherwise it'll might as well be another money-making hero movie.
Overall, I rate this movie: 4/10.
Next Action Star (2004)
Car Crash TV on Steroids
Are you a loser who wants to be the next action movie star? Do you have the talent to stand in front of cardboard boxes, do 'some' act, and jump out of the way of CGI explosions? Then - we have a 'wee-iner'.
This reality TV show puts a bunch of nobody, wannabe's into a TV show that promises to make them the next action star. You get to perform stunts, act/cheesily ridiciousily at the judges and if you win you get to be directed by action supermeo Joel Silver.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, nearly everything. The judges are way too much like the ones in American Idol. The bits they show on the 'casting call' are the most hilarious and borders upon being silly and full of parody potental.
I haven't watched all the episodes of this reality TV show, but it is like car crash TV in that you can't help but watch but you know you shouldn't.
Running Against Time (1990)
Uber-confusing Time-Travel movie, complete with Time-Paradoxes.
Time travel. Man's greatest wish seems to be to go back and change the past.
Is time a straight-line, or a circle? Is it relative? Does changing the past create different, parallel universes?
For this TV movie, I took the view that most movies gave which is to assume time is a straight line. Unfortuently it makes the movie a lot more confusing and hard to follow.
This TV movie is much like the 'The Butterfly Effect'. Our hero wants to go back into time and stop the war in vietnam so that his brother can live. To this end, he believes stopping the JFK assassination will stop the vietnam war ever being conducted (as well as concluding the cold war 30 years early!).
But as ever, if you change the past something will happen to make things worse for the future. For some reason, Lyndon Johnson decides to nuke Vietnam as well as send in more troops. Heck, why don't you just use the fabled 'neutron bomb' whilst your at it.
Anyhow, everything cocks up and the time-travellers are left wondering if they can ever change the past. Our hero goes to a local hospital where he finds his younger brother and tells him to stay out of Vietnam.
But if he went in the past to prevent his brother going to vietnam, this means the hero would have no recollection of his brother ever going and dying in vietnam - thus he would have no reason to go back in time.
This is one of many time-paraodoxes that can hurt your head if you try to think about it.
What happens at the end? Well, lets just say time, it appears, has a concious.
Capricorn One (1977)
Why go to Mars when you can make Mars come to you?
I think this was a very good, well paced conspiracy film about a hoax trip to Mars after some technical issue that would cost NASA's future in space.
Elliot Gould stars as a frankly uninspiring reporter who is looking for the biggest scoop of the century, sometimes I just didn't like his character at all - but I did like how he slowly figured things out without people telling him what the conspiracy was.
Secondly, I liked the three astronaut characters, despite them all being (with the exception of James Brolin's character) under-developed and left unexplored.
The ending is the best part of this film and has some of the best helicopter and aeroplane stunts I've ever seen on film, especally when James Brolin is hanging on the wing of a plane as it nose-dives down a canyon - being chased by black helicopters.
The Quest (1996)
"I'm doing this for Billy"
Jean Claude Van Damme directs and stars in this quite interesting action-adventure movie.
Unlike Steven Seagal, Van Damme does an amicable job directing in his directorial debut. He, unlike Seagal, doesn't fall into the trap of blowing your own trumpet and keeps the story moving, albeit slowly.
In this movie, Van Damme starts out as an old guy sitting in a bar.
But when some local thugs begin to trash the bar, Van Damme beats them up. The landlord then asks Van Damme How did you learn to fight like that?' Rather than just saying I learnt how to fight in Tibet', Van Damme begins to tell his life story.
The movie has Van Damme being the ring leader of a group of child pickpockets in New York during the very early 1930s, and how Van Damme gets mixed up with the local mafiaosi and has to escape New York and the mob swearing that, `one day I will come back, billy'. He makes it very clear that he will come back.
At this point the story begins to move very, very slowly. But it's still quite watchable and at times, enjoyable. However, it struck me as rather odd that in a movie which is about an old guy talking about his life story, we never actually hear Van Damme narrate. Not once.
So, Van Damme enters a tournament, much like Blood Sport. But unlike Blood Sport he's not doing this for revenge, for honor. Nor for pride - but to steal the 'golden dragon' (which he never intends to actually steal) and for Billy, one of the kids he leaves behind in New York.
During the tournament, Van Damme has to face various foes. All with their sterotypical outfits and fighting styles.
Although all the fights are incredibly flashy (flashy kicks, flashy punches, flashy roars), they also look incredibly staged.
Anyhow, Van Damme wins the very flashy competition and beats the Mongolian behemoth to return to New York.
This is where I expected the film to pick up. I wanted to see Van Damme, world's toughest man, to beat up the New York mob and save Billy. Unfortunately we get a very lazy ending.
We get Van Damme narrating something like `I eventually got back to New York and it turned out that Billy was okay, everything was okay, I was happy, the end'.
Then, we cut from Van Damme's victorious final fight to some lady's hand closing a book cover.
Hang on a second, I thought we were hearing and watching Van Damme's quest, not some lady's novel.
Apart from the lazy ending and the long running time, I think this film was amicable. But if you're after a fun action movie, then it's better to hire Bloodsport.
Double Impact (1991)
You'll swear this movie was made in the 80s.
Jean Claude Van Damme plays twin brothers seperated at birth who are rejoined to take down a criminal gang who was responsible for the murder of their collective parents.
Van Damme stars in this cheesy film probably on the understanding that it would change the nature of film-making, I mean there haven't been that many action movies where the star has played both leading characters. Unfortuently, this also has lead to claims that Van Damme's ego overinflated. Watching this film, I can see why.
The film is clearly stuck in the 80s. Van Damme fights more without his shirt and more of his trademark Rage(TM) than perhaps any of his earlier action films.
The rest of the film is pretty okay, its still cheesy - and some sequences are very good - but the part the film built up to was a confrontation between Bolo Yeung (the guy with the glass eye) and Van Damme.
This fight started off very, very well - then went down hill very, very fast - how many spin-kicks to the face does Van Damme have to perform to get Yeung into the well-placed electrical cables?
Personally, I would have had both Van Damme twins duking it out with Bolo Yeung at the same time - sure it would have been a directorial nightmare - but if you pulled it off, it'd be the best sequence of the entire movie.
Overall, this is a cheesy, laid-back action movie.
The Transporter (2002)
Above-Average action movie that lacked real danger
When I first heard action superemo Corey Yeun was going to work with British actor Jason Statham to make a film called 'The Transporter', my mind started to think 'oh no - yeun has decided to ruin his career'.
However as soon as I saw this movie, I was actually quite surprised to see Mr Statham pulling off some very impressive martial art moves however I think it was ruined by constant quick-cutting and MTV-style editing, which reminded me of the overly-cut fight sequences in Rush Hour.
The film, which I'm sure will spawn a b-movie version called 'The Courier' and will probably star Steven Seagal or Dolph Lundgren, has Mr Statham a very good Courier with a pretty name, ie: the Transporter.
He delivers goods and has very strict rules. But one day he decides to break his own rules when he discovers he smuggling a pretty Chinese girl around France.
The film has lots of good, excellent action sequences - which include impressive fight sequences - but you should never judge a movie based upon its first 10, 20 minutes of action. This movie slows down, a heck of a lot - to explain its plot.
The pretty Chinese girl's dad (whom I'm sure was wearing a lot of make-up) is in cahoots with an evil criminal with a goatee (you knew he was evil because his passport picture) to smuggle lots of Chinese immigrants across France. Why? Err, I'm not sure.
The film suffers from horrible dialogue, fast-cutting and sequences where I felt Jason Statham's character was never in any danger.
Overall this is an average action movie that could, should have been a lot better.
See this movie if your thinking of starting your own business.
Cybill Shepherd plays in this very easy to watch movie which charts the rise and fall of Martha Stewart.
Whilst I don't know Martha Stewart or what she represents to today's American Society, I do know that I enjoyed this movie and I often take time out from my busy schedule to watch it.
Sure its not the best movie in the world, but I watch it because it's sometimes funny and sometimes realistic about the world of business. And I think its a good movie if you want to know what it takes to become an entreprenuer or start your own business.
Sometimes it re-invigorates my own ideals and my own personal goals. So that's why I like this movie.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Not sure what to make of this 'revolution'
I'm not sure what to make of Matrix Revolutions. Sure I agree with the people that it isn't as intelligent, thoughtful or as laid out as the original, sure it lacks the venom or fear in the fight sequences - and somehow the CGI doesn't seem to add to the film anymore.
So what's it missing? I personally think its lacking a real threat, we already know Neo is the one and can bend the rules of the matrix world - so we don't fear his downfall because we know he'll eventually rise up.
Take for example when Neo, in the first Matrix film, walks onto a ledge on a high-rise building - the shot of him looking down and you see the drop was intelligent - but the other films seemed to be more lazy in their manner - going for the quick buck rather the hard sell.
Everyone agrees that the first Matrix film was very good - I didn't at the time - I called a mess, but it has grown on me - it has taken an old philosophical puzzle and turned it on its head.
The second film went deeper into the puzzle but ruined itself with constant long scenes that didn't seem to go anywhere and it made mistakes by allowing everyone in the 'real world' to do all the special skills that Neo had - which diminished the threat of the Agents.
This film throws away almost all references to the second film and slaps back straight into the action.
There's plenty of action revolving the invasion of Zion and most of it is enjoyable, but there are questions revolving the use of EMP and their lack of basic military tactics.
Aside from the attack on Zion, the movie revolves around the constant themes of religion - one actor speaks of the role of karma as being he's soul's duty to perform - however this is a mistake - what he was really referring to was Dharama.
Anyway - this theme is rallied home when Neo decides to take on Smith in the final reels of the film and sacrifices himself to save all humans and give peace in the ongoing war against man and machine.
I didn't like the fight between Neo and Smith - I was expecting an extremly hard, fast almost hyperkenetic fight that would rival the very best kung fu movies from Hong Kong - instead we get a fly-by-wire fight that rivals Superman II.
Finally I was puzzled by Neo's final realisation of the 'truth' - he must cause mass genocide (ie: kill everyone in the matrix) to save everybody in the real world. Was this really "adventures of anti virus", or something more?
I feel that this movie involved me in the fight in Zion, but not in the fight against Smith - it didn't involve or excite me with its characters (Neo was just plain boring and Trinity didn't really do anything). Which is a shame, considering the 'pedigree' of its original.
Time Changer (2002)
Movie-making rule #101: Cinema goers don't like to be preached at.
A preacher on Television once exclaimed how bad society had become - I often wondered what he meant. Surely he wasn't saying that all society was evil? Apparantly, according to this movie - it was and still is.
If all men are created in sin why does man give charity or find love in the simplest of things. Indeed it seems this movie tells us without the teachings of the Bible we are no more human than we are criminals.
I don't usually bother with relgious zealot movies - they are distasteful as they are preachy. A movie such as Star Wars and the Matrix use relgious themes but give the audience time to make up their mind on how their own morale beliefs are linked to religion - this movie doesn't do either.
In the movie a Christian fundamentalist from the 1890's travels to the future and gets p***ed off at how the future earth is "evil" and how "sin rules the world". And a lady tells him that its all down to the movies. I almost burst out laughing. No one event changed man but a number of reasons such as WW1 and WW2 - and perhaps less so the swinging sixties.
This movie tries to reaffirm Christian followers into the teachings of the Bible but falls short on how far we should follow the Bible. Are we meant to follow every line - including that one about stoning people for putting their crops side by side? And who decides what rules we should or should not follow? This movie? A guy from the 1890's?
I don't mind religous movies per sa, but not when they try to preach at me from some moral pedistal that they themselves cannot claim to be on.
It is better than Omega Code. But is ruining by its constant preachy-ness.
The Order (2001)
Who ordered this mess?
Mention Jean Claude Van Damme to any action movie aficionado and you'll see their eyes beam remembering films such as Bloodsport, Kickboxer, TimeCop and perhaps even Hard Target.
So what happened to JCVD? Well his style of violent action movies has been dead in the water for many years and plus his films, although interesting, always end up being another 80s styled movie - lots of cheese, OTT action and stupid story lines.
VD has been relegated to Direct-to-Video, and having seen the mess that is "The Order" - I have to wonder what happened to VD and his movie career.
Its refereshing to see an action movie set in the middle east, but did they have to resort to so may sterotypes, cliches and just pointless chases. For example, the cleavage busting police lady joins up with VD to save the world and ain't no jihad gonna stop him from his die hard in the middle east mission....except that this isn't die hard. Those times are long gone.
Charlton Heston makes a brief cameo - and ironically gets shot in the stomach - well I thought it was ironic considering his stance on guns.
Also in there is the worst bad guy I've ever seen - Brian Thompson, his sneering smile reminded me of Gustav Graves in Die another Day - yet Thompson gives no real venom or character to VD's enemy - he's just a heavy who got lucky and now wants to start WW3.
Meanwhile JCVD takes on the entire Isralei police force in karate fights - at last, I thought, a chance to see how JCVD would fare against the hand-to-hand combat skills of the Isralei police/army force - but it turns out its more of a flashy leg kicking match - another opportunity missed.
If I could resolve this story line in one sentence its this: A die hard in the middle east meets Indiana Jones. Its unfortuente that VD could not achieve either the gusto of die hard nor the charm of indiana jones and its just a mess.