Tag Archives: 1980

Review of The Young Master (1980)

19 Jul

The Young Master (1980) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action/comedy film.

Directed by Jackie Chan (The Fearless Hyena (1979), 1911 (2011)).

Written by Jackie Chan (Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu (1980)), Tin-Chi Lau (Knockabout (1979)), King Sang Tang (The Protector (1985)) and Lu Tung (The Invincible Armour (1977)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Kien Shih, Pai Wei, Lily Li, Biao Yuen, Feng Feng, Feng Tien, Ing-Sik Whang and others.

The second movie Chan directed starts out a bit differently. He is a member of some school, but he’s neither the worst or the best student, he’s just there, so if you didn’t know who Chan is, you might spend almost half an hour not knowing he’s the protagonist. His school participates in some puppet dragon dance/fight competition, which is cool and you better enjoy it, because there’s a long time before another fight scene takes place.

But the wait is rewarded by one of the best fight scenes of Chan’s career. It’s a fight, where Jackie is wielding a huge-ass fan. Filming the fight allegedly took 329 takes to complete it. That is a lot. Oh, and don’t worry, after this, there’s not 5 minutes without another fight scene.

On this movie Chan seems to have discovered some zoom lenses or something, because he does that cheesy trick of zooming in and out of character faces for dramatic effect, it works about once and then gets funny and then just irritating.

There’s a scene where Chan fights a group of police-men wielding swords and one of them is a cross-eyed idiot. Now I really have to wonder why do Asians find cross-eyedness so funny and connect it with stupidity? Because almost every Asian-comedy of this time period had at least one cross-eyed and dumb guy.

The movie starts out serious, but it fluently transforms into a way more comedic movie, this is followed by Chan’s character’s intelligence decreasing as well. You could call it inconsistency of tone, though. Fight scenes also get sillier, besides the fan-fight, there’s this character, who carries around a bench, which he uses to kick-ass. Then there is a scene where Chan uses a pipe to fight of a guy, who is very careful not to break it, since it’s signed by imperator. Then he fights dressed as an old man, old man disguise is soon abandoned for  a skirt, which he uses as a matador. It’s crazy.

Oddly here, Chan needs no training montages, he’s a master fighter from the beginning. The last fight is cool from a technical standpoint and is considered the longest fight scene in any martial arts movie, it’s also the problem with it, it’s too long. Which is weird that they left so much of it, when they had to cut down the movie so much. They cut a 3-hour movie to 100 minutes, so, I guess, it’s not surprising that the plot itself doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent one, has some great fight scenes, but other than that, at this point it seems like Chan keeps going over an all too familiar territory and he does it a couple of times more until moving on to more interesting projects. Recommended for Chan fans.

Pictured: The most uncomfortable and painful handshake ever.

Review of Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

30 Jan

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) is a biography/drama/music film, that tells the story of the country music singer Loretta Lynn.

Directed by Michael Apted (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), Amazing Grace (2006)), well-known for his documentary series Up.

Written by Thomas Rickman (Bless the Child (2000), Hooper (1978)), he adapted Loretta Lynn’s autobiography.

Starring: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Beverly D’Angelo, Phyllis Boyens and others.

I sort of do like the music biopics, but often times they either lack an impact or dramatize the events to the point, where you really start questioning if they have any connection with actual facts. I think I’d put this in the first category.

I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but I couldn’t believe for one second that Sissy Spacek is 13 at the start of the movie. She’s actually like 31 or something, that’s actually like the opposite of 13. At least it was really easy for me to accept her relationship with Tommy Lee Jones who in the film is supposed to be 21, but I don’t think Jones has ever looked younger than 30. Anyway I suspended my disbelief for this, but really it was a bit jarring. Also it took some time to digest Jones being a redhead.

Since I’m not a huge country music fan, I didn’t think I’d be much interested in a biopic about Loretta Lynn, but I must admit it was quite captivating. It’s not every day that you see a redheaded Tommy Lee Jones going all out pedophile asshole on not-redheaded Sissy Spacek playing a little girl. Seriously though, it was an interesting look at the sort of morality and social standards in regard to marriage at such a young age, abuse from a spouse and things like that.

One thing I found really weird is that they sort of try to defend Lynn’s husband’s abusive behavior, with his contribution to shaping her career. No, I still think he’s a fucking asshole, but I’m not sorry for Lynn either, because if you go and marry someone at the age of 13, what do you expect will happen on the wedding night? Some holding hands? And if you don’t just leave your abusive husband, when you can provide for yourself, then you deserve the beating you get. I guess back then it was like a normal thing to do, so they all needed a bit of back-slapping some sense into them.

Overall, an interesting and enjoyable story, but there’s not much to take away from it, except some knowledge about Lynn’s life and the realization that back then you could be 29 years old country music singer, top the music charts and be a grandmother at the same time. Well acted, well-made film, recommended if you’re looking for a solid biopic and not much more.

"That's right, not using contraception runs in my family"

Review of Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

19 Jan

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is an Italian exploitation/horror/mockumentary film, because of its graphic portrayal of civilized people interacting with an indigenous tribe, it was charged for being a snuff film.

Directed by Italian director Ruggero Deodato (The House on the Edge of the Park (1980), Last Cannibal World (1977)), who is best-known for doing various gory genre films.

Written by Gianfranco Clerici (The New York Ripper (1982), The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)).

Starring: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Ricardo Fuentes and others.

The movie was highly controversial, because of its relatively realistic semi-documentary format and graphic violence and this is one instance (unlike A Serbian Film or Human Centipede) where I actually can see why it’s controversial. It has some really quite disturbing shit and since they used real indigenous people as the tribe members and as we now know the animal killings are real.

It starts with some overhead shots of landscapes with a romantic music in the background, which makes it seem like some made-for-TV romance flick, which it really is not.

For such a low-budget movie the acting is pretty good, which might have also helped the controversy. Robert Kerman is great, he has an awesome pornstache. You know why? That’s right, he’s been a porn actor previously. Also he looks like Thomas Jane. And I really believed all those documentary crew characters were assholes.

The animal killings were just incredibly hard to watch, and especially that turtle gutting scene (spoilers?), I actually had to turn away, for me animal cruelty is really sickening. Well, I didn’t care much for the killing of the tarantula. I guess I would have been fine if I didn’t know they were real, I’d just be sitting there and thinking how awesome the special effects are. So in a way it is a snuff film. And the special effects are great as well.

I think all the animal violence was really unnecessary and after this the characters became irredeemable to me. Definitely one of the most graphic and cruel movies ever, even not counting the animal killings.

I feel bad, but I really liked the film. I thought it went out to shock the audiences and shock it did, 30 years later I was still amazed at its total rawness. And it is also surprisingly well-made, really solid.

And what most exploitation films miss, this actually had a message. You could argue it was unintentional, but I’d like to think it was on purpose. Because it really does serve as a commentary on how journalism and documentary filmmaking have a tendency to concentrate on violence, it was true then and it is even truer today.

Overall, a good movie, but I recommend it only to exploitation fans, because it’s not a film for the faint-hearted.

"Oh, I think I've got something in my eye."

Review of Friday The 13th (1980)

4 Jan

Friday The 13th (1980) is a horror/thriller/slasher film, made to cash in on the success of  Halloween (1978), these two films are believed to be the main two horror films that shaped and brought to prominence the slasher genre.

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham (The New Kids (1985), DeepStar Six (1989)), he’s also produced some notable genre films.

Written by Victor Miller (A Stranger Is Watching (1982), Another World (2964 TV)).

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bertram, Mark Nelson and others.

Sure, it is a blatant copy of Halloween, but nobody’s ever tried to hide that. But even as a rip-off it has some new, interesting ideas and considering  how suddenly the horror film market of the 80’s filled up with various worse rip-offs, which led to the sub-genre’s death as 90’s approached.

And I’m sort of ashamed to admit it, but I prefer this film to Halloween, although I admit Halloween is technically a superior film in every possible way. But if Halloween brought slasher genre to success, then this film shaped the genre and since this movie is when the formula got engraved in to the gravestone of the genre.

The acting is not good. But that almost comes with the territory. The characters are incredibly  bland, I don’t remember the name of the lead character or any other for that matter. Of course, except Jason and Pamela Voorhees. So yeah, I even only remember how three of the actors look. Adrienne King, because she’s the lead, Betsy Palmer, because she’s awesome in this and Kevin Bacon, just because he’s the only one who’s had a career after this. It’s weird to see him so young and playing this supporting character that we’re not supposed to really notice much or give a shit about. Or maybe we are.

Because when his awesome death scene came he was the only one where I was like „No, not Bacon!” (which is what I never say when I’m offered actual bacon). I would have said „Spoilers!”, but, come on, it’s a slasher movie and he’s not the lead or love interest, what did you think was going to happen?

Speaking of awesome deaths, the special effects are done by the great Tom Savini, who is known either as the guy behind  various cool effects on movies like Dawn Of The Dead or that guy with a revolver instead of a penis in From Dusk Til Dawn.

The slasher’s POV scenes in combination with the classic „ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma” sound effects really work, although now the POV is so overused and cliché.

Weirdly the slasher movies carry this weird message of disapproval towards teenagers doing „bad” things. Which is odd, because most of the audiences for them consisted solely of these „bad” teenagers. I just don’t understand why their parents were against these movies featuring serial killers teaching those darn kids some good lessons.

The twist in the end is really, really cool, but actually more so for the modern audiences, because back when the movie came out people didn’t think of Friday the 13th as one of the movies with Jason. And I don’t think many films have a twist that works better over time and the pop cultural references actually hide it. Except Scream, which totally ruined this for me.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely, despite it’s obvious shortcomings and it is totally recommended for anyone who likes some good ol’ fashioned slasher fun.

"What? What are you looking at guys? Is there something on my face?"

Review of Killer Elite (2011)

10 Oct

Killer Elite (2011) is an action/thriller film, loosely based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men.

Directed by Gary McKendry, whose short film Everything in This Country Must was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 and this is his feature-length debut.

Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell and others.

The plot of this movie is a bit more intricate than I had expected, the misleading trailer made it look like Jason Statham and Clive Owen bashing the shit out of each other the whole movie, but that is not the movie at all. I doubt I can explain the plot without confusing myself, so my version is that De Niro is kidnapped because he was in Little Fockers and to prove he has realized the fault of his ways Statham is brought in to kill some ex-SAS guys. And then Clive Owen appears and all kinds of shenanigans ensue.

Robert De Niro isn’t actually in the movie a whole lot, but when he is, he’s awesome. Watching this I realized how perfect he would be for the Death Wish remake, he’s about the same age, looks like an ordinary man and the subway scene could be easily, if out of context, a scene from a Death Wish movie.

Statham, of course, plays the same character as always, but I forgive him. And I do, just because, I only recently started liking him. Why? Because I finally accepted that, yes, he might be the only current real major action star in the sense Arnold and Sly used to be. And I miss that so much.  Haven’t seen someone do a front flip while strapped to a chair. Also he’s really good at balding.

Clive Owen is, on the other hand, a completely different, more modern action hero. Where with Statham you’re pretty sure he’d easily kick your ass if you met him in person. Owen represents how modern action heroes are still with six-pack abs and all that, but more lean and handsome. And Owen might be my favourite actor of this type doing these movies in the recent years, I thought Children Of Men and Shoot ‘Em Up were both incredibly cool movies. And in this one he’s just bad-ass, stealing every scene he’s in. In case you’re wondering about his glorious moustache, the movie is set in 1980-81. Also he has a glass (or just badly damaged) eye. Despite all that he’s not the villain of the movie and that is clear pretty early on and you could just as well put the focus on his character and make a similar movie.

Dominic Purcell’s huge handlebar moustache was pretty damn impressive as well  and that guy is fucking huge himself.

Yeah, it had its cheesy moments, but actually I expected more and what I got instead was some actual plot.

The fight between Owen and Statham in the hospital was great and you could tell what is happening, which is not so common in modern action movie editing.

Overall, it’s not a great movie, but it’s entertaining and kicks ass, I enjoyed it. If you want non-stop mindless action, you’ll be disappointed or if you want super interesting and original plot and character drama, this is not for you. But if you want some old-school action that’s not too dumbed down, check this out.

Knock knock. Who's there? Reuben. Reuben who? Reuben my eyes 'cos I can't believe how ugly you are!