Thursday, May 26, 2016
I told you guys! I talked about this! About how club scenes are a key ingredient in a healthy number of action movies. It's a freakin' staple of the genre. Nightclubs, techno-clubs, rave clubs, and strip clubs, (book clubs?) only exist so guys like Chow Yun Fat, Keanu Reeves, Wesley Snipes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger can walk through them in slow motion, and eventually whip out some guns and unleash pure chaos. Full Contact is no exception. It has it's club scene shootout, and it's glorious. One of the most stylish and creative shootouts I've seen in ages. If you're an HK action buff, Full Contact is one to seek out.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Johnnie To is a name I really should be more familiar with by now. He's one of the genre juggernauts when it comes to HK crime thrillers. As far as I know though, The Mission is my first To flick, and it made a hell of a first impression. A straightforward story is balanced with calculated shootouts and a timely sense of humor. I've seen enough HK cinema that I recognized most of the actors here, even if I couldn't pick em out by name. The whole cast was turning in great performances, it was entrancing. The Mission kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end. Can't complain about this lean little crime thriller.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
I realize I run a semi-niche blog, and that most of my readers probably won't flock to a dramady like this, but I've realized lately that I've inadvertently saddled myself with the reputation of a guy who only watches genre flicks. Only horror. Only sci-fi. Only action. Those might be my favorite genres, but I don't discriminate. I love film, period. Experimental, comedy, drama, romance. All of it. And, the one name I've learned to pay attention to over the past couple years is Jason Bateman. He's been consistently fantastic in everything I've seen him in, and The Family Fang is no exception.
Monday, May 23, 2016
With neither Sammo Hung nor Yuen Biao returning for this sequel to the high-adventure of Project A, the result is a rather mixed bag. First off, Part II is much more story-centric. I found it easier to pay attention to the plot in this one than in the predecessor, probably because there was more to actually pay attention to? There's a wealth of sub-plots, and a lot of story, leaving the action and fight scenes to take a back seat. But, I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing. I found Project A part II to be genuinely engaging, even if it wasn't as explosive or action packed as it's predecessor.
Project A is a big period piece adventure flick on the old coast of China. There's cops, naval officers, pirates and gangsters. In the middle of all of this is superman Jackie Chan. He carries the movie with a buzzing energy that only he could, making Project A a blast from start to finish- even if it is a bit... much. I haven't been so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of non-stop action in a movie, like this, ever. This was a first for me. Maybe I was simply tired? But, even the people I watched it with- all Chan-fans, agreed that this was excessively jam packed full of action. I didn't even know I could get worn out on fighting and action scenes before I saw this movie!
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Ready to run away from this movie screaming? All I need to do is say four words: produced... by... Michael... Bay! So, you'd think it'd be horrifying in all the wrong ways, right? Wrong! This is actually a damn fine Friday the 13th movie that isn't a remake at all so much as it is just a shot-in-the-arm for the franchise. One that sadly did little to jump start things again. Which is a same because this movie had all the right ingredients that fans want from these movies. It's a non-preachy, R rated, back to basics, no-CGI, you-have-sex-and-you-die, horror flick! Why did people bash this so much? It's exactly what they've been asking for. They fuckin' got it, and spat in it's face. Damn, man.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
There's some movies that you can't even describe without listing all the movies it's clearly inspired by. In this case, Doomsday is clearly The Road Warrior meets Escape from New York with a dash of 28 Days Later thrown in for good measure. But, for a movie nerd like me, I was noticing references and throwbacks to so many other movies. Director Neil Marshall keeps cranking out consistently entertaining movies, and Doomsday is no except. So what if it rips off a ton of other movies? It's still a blast. There's no need to start a debate about homage vs rip-off, because rip-offs used to be awesome and in my humble opinion, Doomsday is the last great rip-off.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Few things bring me as much joy in life as a good damn action movie does. Bonus points if it has and/or opens on a club scene with a hip techno beat blasting. Movies like The Matrix, Blade, xXx, Collateral, John Wick and even The Terminator come to mind. Odds are, you've seen a hundred movies with shootouts in techno clubs. If you think that's a casual exaggeration, think again. I'm very sure the number is right around 100 or more. The Replacement Killers is no exception. It opens with Chow Yun Fat's character, hitman John Lee, slowly walking through the raving crowd of a techno club. Oh ho ho boy, this is already promising!
Monday, May 16, 2016
I don't know why I'm reviewing a bunch of games from the latter years of my childhood, but I am. So deal with it. 90% of my personality is one un-ending nostalgia trip. You say "It's" I say "morphin' time!" You say "snowboarding"... I say SSX 3. That's just how these things go. I've been on a snowboard once in my life, and it was in my friend's backyard. We did nothing but fall over and sprain a couple ankles. If you asked me who my favorite snowboarder was, I couldn't tell you. I don't have one outside of this game. Me even coming across this game is a story unto itself, because it's still really not the kind of game I'd ever gravitate to on my own.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Everyone talks about good games or absolutely awful games, but quickly forgotten bargain bin games only ever get talked about in a Top 20 article, or not at all. So, in the spirit of whatever and reviewing some random game, I give to you... the people of earth, Superman Returns. A game based on a movie not many people even liked, and to make matters worse, it came out several months after the movie. Go figure. However, the allure of flying around in an open world setting, with a host of super powers at my disposal was too cool for 12 year old me to turn down.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Doom means a lot to me as I'm sure it does to millions and millions of people. I love the games, even Doom 3, and I've poured countless hours into them. I love Doom so much that a year or more ago, I tried getting a fan film off the ground, based on a feature length Doom movie screenplay I was writing. Point is, I'm passionate about Doom. It's my thing. Rip and tear, man! Rip and tear! Suffice it to say, I had high hopes and major expectations for ID software's return to their most famous property. From what I've played so far I can safely say it's a blast. It's the game fans wanted Doom 3 to be, which is saying a lot.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
As the marginally more violent brother to Bloodsport, 1989's Kickboxer is a decent cinematic companion to the underground tournament flick, but manages to have more in common with a Rocky movie than anything else. What fresh hell is this? You might ask. Rocky? No way. Yes way. See, there's a big difference between Bloodsport and Kickboxer and it never really hit me until just watching it now. Bloodsport is a tournament flick, Kickboxer is a one-on-one vendetta-fight flick. Which means Bloodsport can be grouped in with Enter the Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Undisputed, The Best of the Best, Bloodfist, and hell... even The Karate Kid is a tournament flick. Kickboxer is not, and it makes a world of difference.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Following up Kickboxer 2 with Bloodsport really put things into perspective for me. Bloodsport is an okay movie, not a great one and aaaarguably not even a "good" one, but it's a fun one and I like it a lot. But, this is one of a handful of movies that kinda set the bar for low-rent fighting movies. It's halfway between Mortal Kombat and Enter the Dragon, with the former being on a low rung, and the latter being of the highest class in the genre. Bloodsport moves with confidence and charisma. It's easy to watch, and even easier to quote. What the hell is a dim mak after all?
Sunday, May 8, 2016
I'm a major Fan Damme, so you could imagine it was a struggle for me to bring myself to watch Kickboxer 2. It's a cash grab sequel to a movie that didn't need one and worse yet, it doesn't even have the star from the original. There's no way this movie could be good. Right? Right...? Well, sorta right. Also sorta wrong. Kickboxer 2 is a mixed bag for sure, but it's still a lot of fun. I can't stress that enough, if you're a fan of the genre (the low-budget, direct-to-video, unnecessary-sequel-to-a-fighting-and/or-ninja-movie genre), you're more than likely going to enjoy Kickboxer 2. I know I did.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Critically praised, and audience panned; The Witch (or The VVitch if you go by the poster spelling) is something of an oddity. It's a mainstream horror film that leaves genre conventions in the dust. It might as well be an arthouse effort, or something from Lars Von Trier simply due to how different it is. It's a slow burn horror flick that takes it's time to build a raw and unsettling sense of dread. Sometimes it's not about what you see, or don't see, it's simply about what's going on. I get the sense that audiences were looking for more straightforward scares, but The Witch is a movie that becomes terrifying once you imagine what it must be like for the characters.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Murder? Greed? Betrayal? The extinction of humanity? Not exactly light viewing for a kid's flick, yet who says kids movies had to be light viewing? Titan A.E. might be almost 16 years old now, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hold up. It's still a sprawling space epic with all the gusto of a Star Wars movie, but the grunge and energy of something like The Matrix. It plays around with very, very familiar themes and tropes- like the reluctant, young, white, male, hero with emotional baggage over the death of a single parent. No, I'm not talking about Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, I'm talking about Cale Tucker in this movie.
I'm a sucker for anthology flicks. Even if I haven't seen some of the most famous ones (Creepshow springs to mind), I've seen my fair share. The V/H/S movies, The ABC's of Death, Necronomicon, and others. I'm a fan of the sub-genre enough to get excited when I hear that there's an anthology flick with a horror-themed segment for each major holiday of the year. Well... almost each holiday. I guess they figured Thankskilling had at least one of the bases more than covered. Holidays, like most anthology flicks- is admittedly, a mixed bag. But it was fun, and well worth a watch.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
A surprisingly good directorial debut from newcomer Gerard Johnstone, Housebound is pretty awesome. It's a horror comedy that knows when to be creepy and when to be funny. It never entirely substitutes one for the other. It's easy to expect a horror comedy to delve deeper into it's comedy, and to make the punchline of each 'scary' scene a joke, but Housebound isn't about that. It actually has a really interesting story to tell, and a few well written twists to keep you guessing along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed Housebound. What's not to like?
Frontier(s) is a good one if you like this sort of flick. It sort of rounds out this unofficial trilogy of movies I lump together- all French new-wave horror flicks. It's Martyrs, Inside, and Frontier(s). I've known about all of them for ages, but I only just saw the latter two for the first time this week. I think Martyrs is the best one, followed closely by Inside (which I think is also the most easily accessible) and then Frontier(s) is trailing behind them. It's not... bad. Not at all. It's a very well made flick, but, it also never once made me think. Martyrs made me think, Inside made me think, Frontier(s) just presented me with gruesomeness and atrocity and... that was about it.
Friday, April 22, 2016
They Look Like People was recommended to me by a friend, who's usually reliable as far as recommending things goes. This was no exception. I never saw a trailer, a poster, nada. Just the recommendation from him, and I was set. He told me it was about a guy who thinks people are turning evil. Plus, that friggin title. That's a great title. They Look Like People? Movie titles don't get much better than that. So I knew all I felt I needed to know before watching the movie. As far as my end of this- reviewing it, I have the harder task here.
As far as charming, inoffensive, creative, and feel-good sci-fi flicks go, you could do much, much worse than *batteries not included. It's a straight-forward and well-meaning movie that is honestly more fantasy than it is sci-fi, but since the plot of the movie revolves around a pair of personality-rich flying robots who come to the aid of some downtrodden strangers- how can you not label it sci-fi regardless? Yet at it's core, the movie postulates about miracles and faith. It's less concerned with the technical why's and how's of the robotic visitors than it is with character drama, friendships, and the all-too-real scary bits of life as well.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Indie games have been killing it lately, in the best way possible of course. Firewatch blew me away, and so did a handful of other games which included Anatomy and The Static Speaks My Name. Of course, Anatomy and TSSMN are both straight up horror, and Firewatch is an intensely dramatic mystery. The game I'm reviewing right now is a timely blend of both. The style of Oxenfree might look like art from a YA novel, but the themes running through the game are often much darker than that comparison would allow. But, don't get me wrong, the game is not some gritty survival thriller- despite being trapped on an abandoned and potentially haunted island... the biggest theme of all in Oxenfree... is friendship.
If you need more Mad Max after Fury Road, and lets face it... who doesn't? This game is where it's at. Especially after you've already gone back and watched the other three movies. The game understands not only the concept at the core of a good Mad Max tale, but what makes post apocalyptic action movies so much fun. The game opens with Max killing a ruthless wasteland overlord named Scabrous Scrotus, but also getting your iconic "black on black" Interceptor stolen and hacked up. So, the plot of the game is essentially about you beefing up your new ride, bit by bit. Which is fun. Overall, the game isn't without it's fair share of flaws, but it can also be a hell of a good time.
One of my new year's resolutions for 2016 was to watch more horror movies in general, not just cram a ton into October and call it even. Nah, that's fun, but spread em out more. Anyways, if new year's resolutions could have footnotes, this one would've said "specifically, watch the ones you've been meaning to watch." Which, in this case, included the French, new-wave horror flick... Inside. It's a move that frequently pops up on 'most disturbing', 'most gruesome', or 'hardest to watch' lists. And, thankfully it actually lives up to it's much hyped reputation. It is definitely disturbing, gruesome and hard to watch. But boy am I glad I dug in.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
As a complete freak for 80's horror cinema, a couple of my good friends were baffled that I'd never seen Freddy vs. Jason before. So, obviously it was the go-to party flick of the night. Boobs, beer, blood, and blades. After now having seen this movie, I can safely say that having both Freddy and Jason as guest characters in the Mortal Kombat games was fairly inevitable. Freddy vs. Jason has the two eponymous horror icons quite literally breaking out the kung-fu. It seems I was just late to this particular party. You couldn't get away with this shit anymore. (Sadly?) Whenever the two bladed cinematic baddies went at each other, I half expected the quasi-techno beat to slowly evolve into something like this. And, that's Freddy vs. Jason in a nutshell.