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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Well Soon It’s Time To Give Away The Second DVD!

Well soon it is time to give away our 2nd DVD to someone who comments on this post! Remember it is a random selection–so your chances are as good as anyone else to win.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Wild Things (1998) I like it not because it could be considered “racy,” but because Bill Murray and Robert Wagner are outrageous in this film.

The story centers around Blue Bay High School a community filled with the snobby, high-income elite.  During a senior class lecture, all four of the central (but not necessarily the best) characters in the film materialize in one form or another at the lecture.  First we have Sam Lombardo the guidance counselor (Matt Dillon), Ray Duquette the corrupt policeman (Kevin Bacon), Kelly Van Ryan the daughter of the wealthiest real estate mogul in town (Denise Richards), and Suzie Toller the girl from the caravan park across town (Neve Campbell).  All four of these characters have large secrets they’d rather not share.  Their façade begins to peel off when Lombardo, our sensitive and well liked guidance counselor, is accused of raping the rich girl Kelly Van Ryan.  Her story is initially backed up by “trailer trash” Suzie Toller, but then things get a little out of the ordinary.  Enter Bill Murray in one of the (if not best in my opinion) cameos ever who is Ken Bowden, Sam Lombardo’s lawyer.  Murray manages to show the court that things are not as clear cut as they initially appeared.  He gets Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) to recant her testimony on the stand and admit the rape accusation was a lie.  Why?  Well we have to wait and see to learn the full story.

Along with Murray is another lawyer-cameo played by Robert Wagner, acting as the wealthy Van Ryan’s family attorney.  The Van Ryan’s are humiliated by the scandal, and Lombardo and Bowden negotiate a hefty settlement: 8.5 million dollars.  Lombardo leaves town to retire after this, and encounters Kelly and Suzie at his hotel.  It turns out that the three of them had been working together the entire time, and planned to split the money.

However more unexpected twists are revealed at the end through a series of flashbacks, that Suzie had planned the whole thing in order to get all the money and not just a third (as well as the revenge on Duquette for killing her love years before) she was also a very, very smart woman.  Other characters begin to die off as the movie comes closer and closer to the end.  In the final scene, Bowden (Murray) meets Suzie at a tropical resort, and gives her most of the money—minus his “usual fee”—and tells her to “be good.”
Overall, however, you can’t really go wrong with this film for an evening’s entertainment.  It doesn’t feel the need to talk down at its audience, it doesn’t resort to excess simplicity to make itself understood, and it just tells an unusual story and tells it convincingly well.  I think that Wild Things was an excellent film and was not just some “dark porn,” as many of the media tried to portray it, rather a fantastic and “different” film that was quite entertaining.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Final Look At the B-Movies: Four Brothers.

This film only has a handful of main problems, which I shall outline below:

1) Terrible storyline 2) Terrible script 3) Terrible acting.   But that is why it is a B Movie I suppose.

Often a bad movie gets a bad rap after time passes.  However, too often this is not the case with some bad action movies, especially the movies that contain some decent action but besides that are completely worthless. This is the case with Four Brothers, the storyline is thin, and the acting is poor. Frankly, if I didn’t have guest over that wanted us to review it I would not have watched the who thing.

The clichés are all over the place in this plot. The two-bit hustler turned crime boss, the dirty city councilman who appears to be trying to clean up the neighborhood while he’s secretly in cahoots with said crime boss, the dirty cop killing his partner, the one good cop who really seems to care, the plot twist that leads them to wrongly suspect one of the “brothers,” the weakest brother dying because he was a little too brash, the boxing match to settle all scores ad nauseum.

The acting in this movie is just plain terrible. The best example is the Bobby Mercer line, as their running from the bodega to look for the guy with an afro who says something to the effect of, “that wasn’t a holdup, it was a contract killing. Let’s go!” They all take off at a brisk jog.  Clearly the writer/director/producer believes that a lot of stupid people are going to watch this film so they need the characters to spell out the plot “twists.” But why are they running? And why does Mark Wahlberg have to deliver each line like he’s reading a comic book? Honestly, that line should have been followed by the horn section doing the original Batman theme.  Moreover, given the different accents the characters all have, if this movie was to be in Detroit, the least they could have lead us to believe that the characters might actually be from Detroit.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dangerous Takes A Look At: Magic Blade (1976) Shaw Brothers Classic.

Made in 1976

Director – Chor Yuen

Producer – Runme Shaw

Action directors – Wong Pau Gei, Tong Gai

Cast – Ti Lung, Lo Lieh, Ching Li, Tanny Tien Ni

I have spent the last couple of years ricocheting between brain dead temp work and stints on social security. Many nights I have returned home after enduring shifts of reception work that made me despair of the human race or interviews at my local Job Service Agency fending off attempts to get me to embrace a career in telemarketing. Fortunately this is all behind me now (I have recently been successful in landing a job I like). But my challenge over the last 2 years has been keeping the nasty grey world I have inhabited from eroding my sanity. Fortunately for me I had a way – I knew of the existence of kung fu and wu xia movies. I knew the answer to my problems was to collapse on the couch, suck back a cheap bottle of rotgut cleanskin red wine, and watch a chopsockie. Whether it’s an old Shaw Brothers extravaganza or a Jet Li New Wave spectacle, there is nothing in the world like a martial arts film to blast the cobwebs from your brain and purge the toxins from your soul. It’s amazing how much the Shaw Brothers fanfare at the beginning of one of this seminal production house’s films can cheer me up (what the hell is Shawscope anyway?). A favorite movie of mine – one that I have often reached for after the greyest days – is the wu xia pian The Magic Blade, produced by Shaw Brothers and made in 1976. The martial arts film genre is a huge and varied one that has something for everyone. Those who like their chopsockies flavored with heavy doses of testosterone tend to favor the films of Bruce Lee or Chang Cheh. I prefer my martial arts films to be more on the fantastical or whimsical side. I feel that The Magic Blade delivers these qualities in spades.

I will not summarize the plot of this film as I do not want to give anything away. When I first watched this movie I knew nothing about it. As scene after scene unfolded, each more extravagant and imaginatively choreographed than the last, I literally felt my eyes widen. Many fans of the martial arts movie genre love these films for their creative audacity and The Magic Blade does not disappoint. Each scene has something that catches the attention. This might be a quirk of character, an aspect of staging, the way the choreography incorporates sets or props, or a plot development. The plot has been arranged so that the movie flows smoothly from one lavish set piece to another. The many villains of the film are enjoyably sinister to watch, and are a varied lot with each boasting a peculiar character trait. My personal favorite is the cannibalistic Devil Grandma – a vile, cackling octogenarian with a novel approach to food vending. A special mention must also go to Tanny Tien Ni, who, in her role as a femme fatale, raises smirking and sneering to Gold Medal Olympic level standards.

Against a cast of such dynamic baddies, Ti Lung holds his own as the hero of the movie. He wears a costume that, sadly, reminds me of the poncho made out of regulation blanket that my Girl Guide troop leader instructed me to make and wear to our camps when I was a wee slip of a girl. He carries this garment off with far more élan than I did, and manages to combine soulfulness and nobility in his depiction of a lone wandering swordsman. Ti Lung always ramps up the eye candy quotient in any movie he is in, but he is quite a good actor as well. There are 2 scenes which demonstrate this. The first is where Ti Lung and the film’s heroine (nicely played by Ching Li) discuss the lonely life of an itinerant swordsman in an idyllic setting bedecked with flowers. The second, set in a windswept alley, is where Ti Lung’s character interacts with a woman who has fallen on hard times and been forced to turn to prostitution. This scene is so moving it literally reduces me to tears. These 2 quite lovely and sensitively acted scenes are deftly incorporated into an otherwise pot boiling plot. They add dimension to the film without slowing it down.

A special mention must go to the art direction in this film – it is gorgeous. Exotic, beautiful, and sometimes gothic sets, props and costumes are a definite part of this film’s appeal. The colours are vivid and lush, and the detailing on many of the props and costumes is really nice. Overall, the film is very well shot. I often think of kung fu movies as being more like filmed physical theatre than the classic ‘realistic’ western films I grew up with. This sense of theatricality is pleasantly reinforced by the luscious art direction in The Magic Blade.

I am not sure what else I can say without giving too much information away. All you red blooded blokes out there will be rewarded with the sight of someone’s breasts and a tiny bit of lesbian fondling in the final scenes. All viewers (regardless of gender / sexual orientation) will find themselves rewarded with a stylishly made and well acted fantasy action that is jam packed with inventive fight choreography and leavened with doses of fruity melodrama. The Magic Blade is wu xia pian at its entertaining best. Get a DVD copy and save it up for the next time you have a particularly bad day.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Our Winner Silver E Picks: Tai Chi Master a/k/a Twin Warriors!

The winner of the first of two JPFmovies give away contests picked Jet Li’s 1993 classic: Tai Chi Master a/k/a Twin Warriors.  Good choice Silver E–there are those who say Twin Warriors is without a doubt Jet’s Li’s finest Shaolin movie and I don’t necessarily disagree with them.  Li does some of his finest martial arts sequences in this flick and manages to make them look effortless.  Twin Warriors also turns what could be a depressing film about two friends who take opposite paths and lightens it up with a segment where Li goes crazy and partakes in some hilarious shenanigans.  First he believes he is a duck and hides underwater in a fountain.  Then he believes a pillar that holds up a building is his long-lost Shaolin master. He even get mad when at a weeble-wobble `Mr. Tao’ doll when it will not answer his questions.

But I shall say no more since Silver has tentatively agreed to review the movie for us after he gets a chance to watch his new DVD.  I know we are all looking forward to it.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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What Some Guys Won’t do for a Little Action.

This movie has every indicator of crap: the bad acting starting from the beginning in a prison yard, it has the cliché good intentioned prison cellmate who is in on a double cross and that is just the beginning.  The best cliché of all is that it is about—you guessed it—a casino heist.

Reindeer Games is a pitiful mess of a feature, guaranteed to be one of the finest examples of a bad “B” movie ever made.  As we know, in today’s film world so seldom are action/chase movies invested with any sort of novelty or wit that it is sad to visualize some people actually enjoying this film.  I can’t believe John Frankenheimer lent his name to this abortion.  After he did some solid work on Ronin and Path to War, this John Frankenheimer thriller could have been promising, but it is every bit as bad as his Island of Dr. Moreau.  Crude, unnatural camera angles.  Awkward performances from all involved and a sloppy repetitive plot that abuses its audience in the most discourteous way.

Why does Chelize Theron take her clothes off twice in this movie?  Simple so people would go to see it.  The entire plot consists of a juvenile mistaken identity gag, played over and over as some pissed off teamster routinely holds a gun to Affleck’s head and threatens to kill him then changing his Bi-polar mind and agreeing to let him live again.  The entire movie is one big mess penned by Ehren Kreuger, the writer of the Brothers Grim and Scream 3—real deep, moving movies who is on his way to becoming Hollywood’s premier architect of plot holes and leaky scripts.

I would expect this bland crap from Affleck but the biggest letdown is Frankenheimer, who should have known better than to take on this pathetic project.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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