Tag Archives: Comedy

Review of Dark Star (1974)

30 Oct

Dark Star (1974) is a comedy/sci-fi/thriller film, which is the feature-length debut of John Carpenter, who is the director, producer and co-writer on the film.

Directed by John Carpenter (Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), Escape from L.A. (1996)).

Written by John Carpenter (The Fog (1980), They Live (1988)) and Dan O’Bannon (Alien (1979), Total Recall (1990)).

Starring: Dan O’Bannon, Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich and others.

From the first moments it’s apparent that the budget of the movie was extremely low. It is basically a student film stretched to a feature-length. So I feel wrong criticising this kind of movie to harshly, but at the risk of sounding like an asshole, I do think that sometimes if you know you don’t have the budget to pull off your ambitious project, you should consider the possibility of toning down the special effects. It’s better to have one amazing special effects shot than a crapload of shitty ones. Thankfully or sadly, this movie has both.

The outer space scenes look rather jarring, because when the spaceship kind of stops, it just freezes and hangs in the space, so it seems like you’re looking at a freezeframe, which I am not sure that it isn’t. Maybe it’s just my brain that has this standard set-up inside, when I think of spaceship moving through space, I instantly flash back to the opening shot of A New Hope. And that’s an unfair and high standard to judge a pre-Star Wars movie with a way smaller budget.

We are introduced to some astronauts in a spaceship called „Dark Star”. Ka-ching! (That is the sound that plays in my head, whenever I hear the title of a movie appear in the movie) The astronauts banter a bit and then decide to listen to some country music as they look for a star to blow up. Oh, ok. I guess that inspired the movie Space Cowboys.

They reveal that the astronauts have been on a solitary space mission for 30 years. The incoherent banter, country music and a scene with a beach-ball made up to be an alien suddenly make so much more sense. Or does it? Even though they’ve been out there for a while now, they all still look like a bunch of scruffy-bearded 30-year-olds.

The movie hasn’t aged well, it feels incredibly dated, but you can sort of forgive the movie’s silly, cheap effects, sets and props, because it’s all mostly played for laughs. And at times shows genuine inventiveness, like a terrific scene taking place in an elevator shaft, which is obviously shot in just a hallway, yet done cleverly enough to provide enough of the illusion, for us to suspend our disbelief.

The film is basically a comedic portrayal of how boring and with that also insane it would be to be out there alone with a few guys for so long. There’s a scene where they attempt to tell some old stories, but it’s been so long that they fail to both recall them correctly or find a pair of ears that have not heard them before. I’d like to think it’s a completely serious take on what their mission is like, just through their perspective it all seems wacky.

It doesn’t feel like a John Carpenter movie very much, the score is great as is usual for his films, but it invokes a very different feeling. Although this isn’t the most polished movie, but for a shoe-string budget directorial debut from the 70’s it shows a lot of promise, although, I can’t imagine anyone seeing this and then expecting something like Assault On Precinct 13 or Halloween or later on The Thing, but it’s clear that a fair amount of talent and intelligence is present.

Yes, it’s a pretty smart movie, the humor is no slapstick packed gag blast. It’s played on the absurdities the genre’s limitless possibilities present and inserts polar opposites for comedic effect. The ship’s captain has died some time ago, but is still held in a state of suspended animation and the crew is able to communicate with him, which leads to a scene where one of them does this and I thought the scene was kind of creepy. In another instance there’s this intelligent bomb, which itself is pretty silly, but then it has this conversation with a crew member and it goes to either a satire of or an actual philosophy lesson on rationalism and empiricism. The ending is both morbid and funny as well.

Overall, I enjoyed some parts of it, didn’t at all care for others, recommended for those interested in Carpenter’s early stuff, not recommended if you think a guy literally surfing through space isn’t for you. It’s better than that Fantastic Four movie, though.

Pictured: What inspired Alien. I’m not even joking. This is it.

Review of Ginger Snaps (2000)

3 Oct

Ginger Snaps (2000) is a Canadian horror/comedy/drama film, following the Fitzgerald sisters and their collision with the world of lycanthropy.

Directed by John Fawcett (The Boys Club (1997), The Dark (2005)).

Written by Karen Walton (The Listener (2009 TV), Flashpoint (2008 TV))  and John Fawcett (Half Nelson (1992)).

Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Peter Keleghan, Danielle Hampton and others.

When I started watching this, I wasn’t actually aware that I had seen it before. But I had seen it like some five years ago late at night on TV, just turning it on during the opening titles and missing the title itself. I remembered thinking it was quite decent back then, but it seems I had missed more than just what it’s called.

We follow two teenage sisters, who are social outcasts and mostly just hang out together and have a very close relationship. Ginger (yes, the one who snaps) is somewhat more extrovert than her sister Brigitte. And I have to be honest, I have a thing for redheads, so I find Katherine Isabelle incredibly attractive.

Contributing to their social outcast is the fact that for a school project they take photos of each other portraying them dead in various ways very realistically. I’m not sure what was the project supposed to show from an educational standpoint, but it sure made for an excellent opening title montage.

The hook is that finally (because they’re like 15-16 years old) one of them starts menstruating and one evening a mysterious wolf-like beast attacks the sisters. Soon after that menstruating isn’t the only thing happening to the girl’s body.

The movie has a great deal of dark humor, while not parodying the werewolf genre. The humor is reminiscent of Heathers, even the male „lead” (or closest to it) Kris Lemche resembling young Christian Slater. Sadly, though, when the horror aspects of the movie kick in, the humor takes a step back. There’s still funny moments, but they are only for those with a messed up sense of humor. Thankfully, that’s the one I got.

It’s most interesting aspect and asset is the movie serving as an allegory for young women going through changes,  maturing, discovering their sexuality and the frustration that comes with it. However, one might argue that the film explores these themes not quite to the extent that one might hope or expect. So it might come off more like a sarcastic remark, than actually having something really genuine to say.

Both lead actresses deliver pretty great and convincing performances, embodying their characters. The other stand-out performance is the mother of the sisters, who is just hilariously peppy, oblivious and upbeat in comparison to her morbid daughters.

The movie is of this cycle of post-scream somewhat self-aware horror movies featuring teenagers, similar in both its themes and style to The Faculty, only the horror hook is werewolves instead of aliens.

Of course, the movie has its shortcomings, but I pretty much loved the movie and would definitely place it somewhere in my top 10 werewolf movies of all time. Somehow the transformations have become the main criteria by which to judge a werewolf movie, but here it is excellent in entirely different way, because it’s done gradually, we don’t see a special effects bonanza like in the not less excellent An American Werewolf in London, but it’s horrifying nonetheless, much like in The Fly, although in that case I have to admit The Fly is no less a showing off of special effects than An American Werewolf in London.

What I ultimately want to give the movie credit for is not forcing anything, they don’t force the comedy (tongue-in-cheek or otherwise), the transformation, a happily ever after ending and even the whole puberty/feminist message doesn’t come across as forced.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, I cared for the characters, it had more substance than is common for horror movies and it was suspenseful and entertaining. Definitely recommended, even for people not that into horror. And girls should be especially interesting in checking it out.

“Had they not gone into the whole wolfman business, they could’ve had great portfolio work when looking for a job as special effects artists.”

Review of Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

27 Aug

Hobo with a Shotgun is an action/comedy/exploitation film, based on one of the trailers appearing in the Grindhouse double feature.

Directed by Jason Eisener (Treevenge (2008 Short), The Pink Velvet Halloween Burlesque Show! (2006 Short)).

Written by John Davies (Hobo with a Shotgun (2007 Short)).

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Nick Bateman, Gregory Smith, Robb Wells, Jeremy Akerman, Pasha Ebrahimi and others.

What? Rutger Hauer going around and blasting everyone away with a shotgun? Count me in!

Right from the first moments you know what kind of movie this is. The acting is over-the-top, the gore is gratuitous, the humor is blacker than tar and a lot of the things happening make little t0 no sense. I am not complaining.

It starts off with homeless Hauer wandering into the city and witnessing various acts of mindless violence. The streets are filled with hobo’s pushing shopping carts full of junk and standing around burning barrels. No stereotypes here. Hauer makes a sign that says “I am tired, need $ for lawn mower.”, here we learn that for some reason Hobo thinks if he can buy a lawn mower, he can open a mowing business. That’s the kind of logic that fuels the movie.

The bums are used by youth for having violent fun. One guy pays homeless people to do humiliating stuff and films it. A big part of youth life is hanging around at the arcades. So it’s 80’s? I guess it’s not, the movie goes more for the way how 80’s movies portrayed dystopian future. The movie is really heavy on trying to be this over-the-top cheesy 80’s B-movie, but I think it succeeds. I wouldn’t believe if someone told me this was from the 80’s, but it has the feel pretty damn close.

The movie is packed with entertaining shit. Starting from that not a minute goes by that there’s not something bad happening on the streets to the intentionally bad dialogue like “So, how many people have you killed?”, “What am I? A mathematician?”. Then there’s the B-movie cliche – the hooker with a heart of gold.

Then at one point, the Hobo gets enough money for the mower, but in a heart-breaking scene, gives up his dream and buys a shotgun and goes on a killing spree, clearing the streets of scum. He even makes newspaper headlines, which are all puns like “Hobo stops begging, demands change.” This upsets the local crime-lord.

I wish they made all the Grindhouse trailers into feature-length movies. Can’t wait for Werewolf Women of the SS, Don’t and Thanksgiving to become real movies. Though, admittedly the movie is in a way a one-note gimmick, a spoof of sorts, but it’s also a very energetic, fun and entertaining movie. Almost all of the dialogue is quotable and even more hilarious out of context. Rutger Hauer gives a legitimately good performance and plays it completely straight.

Also I wanted to note that I loved how they concealed the crystal clear quality of the Red cameras by using some heavy oversaturating and color correction, which made it look really interesting and cool.

Overall, I found it more entertaining than Macheteand if you like totally insane exploitation mixed with dark comedy, recommended.

“Order your shotgun today and receive this stylish sewer-lid neck-brace for free!”

Review of Barbarella (1968)

17 Aug

Barbarella (1968) is a Franco-Italian sci-fi/comedy/adventure film, based on the Barbarella comic book series by Jean-Claude Forest.

Directed by Roger Vadim (Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), And God Created Woman (1988)).

Written by Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), The Loved One (1965)) and Roger Vadim (Spirits of the Dead (1968),Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme… (1973)) and others.

Starring: Jane Fonda, John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, Marcel Marceau, David Hemmings and others.

To be fair, I think every movie should start with a naked Jane Fonda flying around in zero gravity inside after stripping out of a spacesuit inside a spaceship, with its entire interior covered entirely in shag-carpets. Ok, maybe not, it’s enough with one movie that starts like this.

So here we are with this Barbarella chick, who is some sort of law-upholder in a very hippie-ish vision of the far future, where greeting is „love”, people aren’t ashamed to be naked (at least Jane Fonda isn’t) and there’s nothing that doesn’t scream 1960’s.

To give the film some real credit, even though it’s cheesy beyond imagination, the people involved must have been aware of it, it’s not like they tried to do some epic space opera and unintentionally created this cheese-factory.

At one point Barbarella is bitten by some creepy dolls with nutcracker mouths, then rescued by a guy who speaks an unknown language, until she adjusts her „tongue box”. I think they thought it was hilarious themselves. It is often considered a classic ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ movie, but really, it’s so tongue-in-cheek, that I don’t really consider it appropriate.

Then later on it turns out that on Earth in the future, people have sex by holding hands, which, I suppose, is the reason why it’s a peaceful, weapon-less planet now. Because everyone stops waving their dicks around while shooting from machine-guns. However, Barbarella is polite and agrees to do it „the old-fashioned way” and enjoys it quite a lot.

The movie has some really good 1960’s music, which doesn’t change, but distracts you from the plot that makes little to no sense. The set-designs are campy and as actual locations don’t make sense either, but at the same time, they’re very detailed and in a way fascinating.

The only way I could describe the plot is by summarising its structure: Barbarella goes somewhere, someone tries to kill her, she has some sexual experience and then it repeats. We even get to see the hilarious hand sex.

David Hemmings appears as a rebel leader and he is great, his scenes were the highlight of the movie, since when he’s on screen the movie starts feeling like a straight-up comedy or a spoof, but then he goes away and we’re back to weird shit, that is funny in its own ‘who came up with this?’ way, like a scene, where a bunch of chicks are smoking the „essence of man”, which is a guy boiling in a huge fishbowl.

I learnt a lot from this movie, but not one of these things are of any use. I doubt if I’ll ever have the chance to perform CPR on an angel, by cranking his wings from the back.

Overall, I got kind of bored, because the movie threw too much nonsense at me, for me to keep caring what’s going on. Might be fun with some friends and alcohol, otherwise, not recommended.

I don’t… what’s happening? I saw the movie, didn’t I?

Review of The Woman (2011)

13 Aug

The Woman (2011) is a horror/drama/comedy film, which is a sequel to the film Offspring.

Directed by Lucky McKee (The Woods (2006), Red (2008)).

Written by Jack Ketchum (The Girl Next Door (2007), Offspring (2009)) and Lucky McKee (Roman (2006), May (2002)).

Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Angela Bettis, Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Shyla Molhusen, Zach Rand and others.

We open up to some kind of BBQ party and this family is set up and right from the start you get this feeling, that something isn’t right with them, I didn’t get it at first, but as the movie goes on, it turns out, that the family is a collection of very unusual people. Not much happens, but there’s this incredible tension between the family members and you realise that they’re the kind of family that is totally dysfunctional, everyone knows it, but they try to pretend everything is normal.

One day the father goes hunting and sees this wild chick having a “bath” in the river and then suddenly rock music starts blasting as she takes a bite off of a raw fish. This is the moment where the movie first shows that it is actually a dark comedy. Of course, the father clears out an outdoors bomb-shelter/basement, goes back to the woods, captures the wild woman and chains her up in there. This is the moment where it becomes clear that the father is insane.

The woman bites off his finger, only mildly in pain, he responds “That is not civilized behavior.” and leaves to use some painkillers, which he has lying around. After composing himself he goes to punish the woman by punching her a couple of times and then shooting a shotgun right next to her head. They throw in a high-pitched noise, so we can enjoy her pain as well. If you might think he’s just this disturbed person, who wants to rape this woman or something, that’s only half the story, because he introduces her to his whole family. And since this guy is a complete fucking lunatic, the rest of the family is too intimidated to contact authorities. They have a pet woods-woman. And things only get crazier from here.

The movie has a really dark sense of humor, starting from the creepy characters to the upbeat indie music accompanying all the dark shit that’s going on. It is also a reversal of “hillbilly horror” sub-genre, where the backwards person is so uncivilized, it becomes the innocent, abused by the “normal” people. It takes a stab at the patriarchal family archetype taken to its limit. I’m not surprised that this is written by Jack Ketchum, watching this I was even reminded of The Girl Next Door, though, not as shocking, this is still an equally sick movie.

I really liked Angela Bettis’ performance as the mother of the family and the way the tied-up woman could be seen as a metaphor for her abusive marriage to her sociopath of a husband. I got goosebumps, when she finally snaps. Pollyanna McIntosh is impressive as the woman, it’s quite a demanding role.

The last 20 minutes are total madness, it’s one of the horrifyingly most entertaining climaxes of a horror flick I’ve seen recently, it throws in some twists and turns that are so unpredictable and twisted and crazy that your jaw drops and you don’t know if it’s scary or straight out funny in how over-the-top it is.

If you watch this, keep watching after the credits, because there’s a bizarre short semi-animated clip with the youngest daughter.

Overall, this might be one of the better horrors of 2011, although it’s more fun entertainment than dead-serious chills, the sick nature of it really makes it a curiously unsettling experience. Recommended.

“Oh, yeah, I’m making this douchebag face to hide my ‘I might rape a dead pregnant woman if I encountered one’ face. I’m fun like that.”

 

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 The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

16 Jul

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) is an action/sci-fi/drama film, based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, rebooting the film franchise.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer (2009), Lone Star (2010 TV)).

Written by James Vanderbilt (Darkness Falls (2003), Zodiac (2007)), Alvin Sargent (Gambit (1966), Unfaithful (2002)), Steve Kloves (Racing with the Moon (1984), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)).

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifan, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell and others.

My first introduction to Spider-Man was through the animated series, probably when I was around six. I loved him, the series itself wasn’t as good as X-Men and not that great overall, but I loved it. Then the Sam Raimi movies came along and I sort of liked them, but that wasn’t it, I didn’t love the guy himself, I was carried by my affection for the character, but this doughy-faced, bulky, man-child bearing the name of Tobey Maguire wasn’t him. So for about 15 years I’ve been waiting for a movie to re-ignite my love for him. Turns out I was waiting for this movie.

I did somewhat enjoy the Raimi ones, especially the second one, but at the same time I found them too cheesy and, at times, making me cringe. However, I’ve never wanted The Dark Spider or something overly realistic and “gritty”, I just wanted to care about characters and not caricatures. Also for something as campy as Raimi’s Spider-Man adaptations, they were basically humorless. Watching this I genuinely smiled and laughed.

Oh, Andrew Garfield is just brilliant. He is Spider-Man, he’s got the right kind of build, athletic, but lean, agile, but physically awkward. I believe he’s actually really intelligent (mechanical Web-Shooters FTW), he’s adorably twitchy in conversations, nerdy, but not a wimp. And when he cries you don’t feel uncomfortable, but feel with him. Watching Maguire cry, I forgot if I was watching Spider-Man or The Elephant Man.

The relationship between him and Gwen Stacy is really good too, it’s sort of a teeny romance, but Marc Webb knows how to not make it too cliché and also Stacy learns early that Peter is Spider-Man and it’s nice that he has a confidant. Emma Stone being one of the cutest young actresses out there right now also helps a great deal. Other supporting actors do a great job too. Rhys Ifan is cool, Denis Leary is bad-ass and Martin Sheen really makes you care about the Uncle Ben character and his fate is really impactful.

I’m not a fan of 3D and even though it was still unnecessary, I liked it in this movie. The action scenes mostly, because the shots are incredible, it really feels like a person is doing all the crazy shit Spidey does. The swooping over the city is spectacular, I actually felt immersed in the space of the movie sometimes. The downside is that, the dramatic scenes have basically no 3D effect whatsoever, I mostly just lifted my 3D glasses and there was no layering blur or anything.

The special effects are pretty solid, there’s an awful looking, mutated CG lab-rat, but, thankfully, that’s only a few seconds. Then there’s the big thing of The Lizard. It didn’t look great, but it wasn’t bad either, it was very middle ground. I could accept it, because he did walk around in a lab coat for a bit, that was all I was asking for.

Overall, not flawless, but a great superhero movie, definitely in my top 3 Marvel movies (if not my favourite), it made me laugh, it made me teary-eyed, it made me want to run around and pretend to be Spidey, it made me 10 years old again. I thank you for that, movie. If you like superhero movies, definitely recommended.

“I’m melting!”

 

Review of The Fearless Hyena (1979)

21 Jun

Xiao Quan Guai Zhao also known as The Fearless Hyena (1979) is a Hong Kong martial arts/comedy/action film.

Directed by Jackie Chan (Police Story (1985), Armour of God (1986)) and Kenneth Tsang (The Eternal Obsession (1976), Hoyat gwan tsoi loi (1991)).

Written by Jackie Chan (The Young Master (1980), Project A (1983)) and Wei Lo (Slaughter in San Francisco (1974), Tang shan da xiong (1971)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, James Tien, Dean Shek, Hui Lou Chen, Shi-Kwan Yen, Kun Li, Tien-chi Cheng and others.

Like Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Chan is basically an idiot in this one. Here even more so and he’s also a greedy, lazy dick, but he also knows how to fight right from the start.

His character lives with his grandfather, who trains him and also has a grey beard that poorly tries to cover up the fact that the grandfather looks like he’s no more than 20 years older than his grandson.

This is an odd movie, which doesn’t shy away from incredibly offensive scenes, like one where Chan pretends to be cross-eyed and mentally retarded, while fighting to the Pink Panther theme. It’s also kind of hilarious both in the wacky intended way and it’s offensiveness.

If you for some reason won’t find that scene odd enough, there’s another peculiar one, where Chan changes into a female kimono and make-up and fights a bit as a transvestite. However, it is less jarring, than the end of that fight scene. Chan knocks out a big guy by smashing an orange against his head, after he had smashed a brick on it just a minute ago with no difficulty.

After silly scenes like these you know what is going to happen. Something that will make Chan’s character take Kung Fu seriously. It’s a very similar movie to Drunken Master, released a year earlier.

The villain of course is this archetype I see in a lot of martial arts period pieces, a tall, older guy with long white hair and Fu-Manchu mustache, who kicks ass at literal ass-kicking.

Something bad happens and Chan starts his Rocky training montage, which is entertaining, but he’s had better ones. Chan, though, might be in his best shape possible, you can see his every muscle popping out as he trains.

The fights themselves aren’t very memorable, it relies more on the comedic aspects. There’s a lot of unnecessary comical sound effects and crotch hitting and the dress-up fights I already mentioned. There’s one cool „fight” scene, where Chan and his mentor fight for a piece of meat, using only chopsticks. And one bad ass 3-on-1 fight, where while two people are fighting, the rest don’t stand around, they actually attack at the same time, the choreography is impressive. At one point Chan just stabs a couple of guys and that’s just that. Feels a bit out-of-place.

They bring in this awful concept of „emotional kung fu”. The sorrow style is interesting to watch, but they all are just silly and gimmicky.

Overall, it’s a very cheesy kung fu comedy, if you don’t mind the over-the-top slapstick, I guess it’s worth checking out.

“You want some advice, Jackie?”
“Sure.”
“Don’t get used to leading roles. I once used to play young guys too, then twelve years ago something happened, now I’m grandpa.”
“Oh… hey, you’re twelve years older than me!”
“Exactly, Jackie, exactly.”

Review of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)

27 May

Se ying diu sau also known as Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action/comedy film.

Directed by Woo-ping Yuen (True Legend (2010), Iron Monkey (1993)).

Written by See-Yuen Ng (No Retreat, No Surrender (1986), Drunken Master (1978)), Chi-Kuang Tsai and Shiao Loong.

Starring: Jackie Chan, Siu Tien Yuen, Jang Lee Hwang, Dean Shek, Roy Horan, Hark-On Fung, Lung Chang and others.

So here we are, quite early in Chan’s career and his first hit movie. It’s the first of his signature action comedies and the first straight out martial arts comedy. We open up to the opening credits in front of Chan just doing various kung-fu moves with exaggerated sound effects. Spending my childhood watching action movies set me up for a huge disappointment when I saw actual fist fights, which had no punching sounds or choreography.

The fights are really good here, fast, interesting, tightly edited. Of course, the most impressive parts are not the bare-bone fist fights, but the slapstick parts, where everyday objects are used to show the most imaginative ways of using them. And the best part is that unlike modern action or fight scenes it has these long takes, so you can just enjoy the dazzling choreography and not go into an epilepsy seizure.

There’s a lot of good things about the movie, but some are just odd. First of all the scene editing sometimes makes very little sense. Or the one not-asian actor in the movie playing a bad guy who is disguised as a priest. Or an old man getting stabbed and then somehow just healing up in a couple of hours. Also for some reason when Chan sees that his mentor is stabbed he just starts picking his nose. Because, that’s what people do in a situation like that. Time is used very abstractly in this movie, Chan’s character becomes a master fighter in just one day.

The score at times goes insane. Whenever Chan is learning something, we get these trippy late 70’s techno pieces, which are really jarring in a period kung-fu flick.

It is paced in a way that you don’t have to wait very long for the next fight, because honestly that is why you’re watching a movie like this. Some of them are funny and some of them are important to the plot and serious.

The whole ending is just so incredibly absurd. Just to give you a taste of it, I can tell that I learned that pressing down on one’s head and then kicking them in the crotch, while doing cat sounds, will make the one die or maybe black out.

Overall, entertaining and very wacky, although I enjoy Chan’s 80’s films quite a bit more, still if you like him, this is one of his early career’s better movies. Recommended.

“Hey, look, I’m doing kung fu moves in a red room! There’s no reason for me to do this, except that they didn’t want the opening credits on a plain black backround, so watch!”

Review of Repo Men (2010)

22 May

Repo Men (2010) is a sci-fi/action/thriller film based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik (House (2004 TV), Awake (2012 TV)).

Written by Garrett Lerner (LAX (2004 TV), Boston Public (2000 TV)) and Eric Garcia.

Starring: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber, Carice van Houten, John Leguizamo and others.

Say you need a new heart, right? Where do you go? To a corporation which issues brand new mechanical hearts. Sounds awesome, but they cost a shitload of money. Not a problem you can just do monthly payments like it’s a car and here comes the good part. If you don’t pay, they come and cut the fucking heart right out of your chest. ‘Live forever on mechanical organs’ boner is gone.

This a cool sci-fi action movie starring Jude Law as a bad-ass. You know, sometimes he’s a lanky British douche with a receding hairline and sometimes he is awesome. Thankfully this movie is the case. He works for this company and he is the one who goes to get the body parts back. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the age-old „guy works for a company and then is forced to go against it” type of scenario, but at least the company is an interesting one.

Liev Schreiber is like the head of the company and he is just so good at playing this total douchebag asshole, I loved him. On the other hand Forest Whitaker seems a bit miscast as Law’s partner and pal.

The city design is rather cool, it has a Blade Runner vibe about it, but then there is the suburban area where Law’s character lives with his son and wife that is just a bitch for no reason, she has no other characteristic other than being a bitch towards him.

The movie also has some dark comedy elements, which worked very well. The action is just great, especially the last fight scene. It has a decent amount of gore, mostly CG though. And in one utterly ridiculous scene I learned that if you stick you’re hands into another person’s abdomen, there no risk of infection and other bad shit as long as you glue the entry cut shut afterwards.

If not for the most idiotic kind of possible ending I would have totally loved the movie. That is the thing, you will be entertained throughout the movie, but then you’ll leave it with a bitter aftertaste, because you’ll be disappointed. Most critics have shat upon this movie, but I enjoyed watching it way too much to do that. I think it was a great action movie that didn’t take itself too seriously and also had an interesting premise.

Overall, incredibly entertaining and somewhat disappointing, but definitely worth to see Jude Law kicking ass. Recommended.

Pictured: Before Battleship Hollywood did another board-game adaptation. They just didn’t call it Operation.