Friday, April 28, 2006

Battle Royale II


I used to hate watching foreign subtitled movies. Generally the translations appear to be handled by a 5 year old just learning English, which really puts me off, but recently I've been put onto some good films by resident jap-buff Chase.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Battle Royale films, let me summarise for you (very briefly). A bunch of high school kids are dumped on a deserted island and told that they have 3 days to kill each other. Last man or woman standing wins. They are each numbered and tagged with an electronic collar, that is set to explode if they either a) attempt to remove it, b) are inside a 'danger area' at a specific time (announced previously) or c) Refuse to comply. They are then given a bag, contaning the basic essentials for survival; food, water, a map and compass, and a random weapon of choice. The weapons range from anything to a pair of binoculars and a steel dustbin lid, to a fully automatic weapon or grenades.

Battle Royale 2, however, changes the rules somewhat. Instead of it being a free for all, they have to work in numbered pairs. If your partner dies, your collar will detonate. Danger areas also apply, but your main goal is to kill Nahanara (the survivor of the previous game) who has now setup shop on the Island and is attempting to kill all adults. Simple, eh? Well, it should be.

Instead what we're now left with is an absolute piss poor sequel attempt that really seems to remind me of Starship Troopers meets Saving Private Ryan; complete with a rubbish 'beach storming' sequence and tacky uniforms. One of the main characters is this seriously ugly, annoying little guy with blonde hair who looks like Thom E Yorke from Radiohead, but Japanese - which is very strange to look at. Obviously didn't go to acting school, but learnt how to act by posing nude in a mirror at home.

This movie is absolutely terrible, many many inconsistencies and 'errors', such as:
- The rules state that if your paired partner dies, you die. Yet when reeling out the list of casualities they aren't paired at all, why didn't the partner die?
- 0:00pm is NOT a real time - it should be 0:00am.

But isn't this the reason we watch certain foreign films, to laugh and joke at the mistakes they make with either our language or basic concepts such as time and reality?

Here are some amusing lines from the movie:

"Shit, I'm hit!" (I loved this one 'cos it ryhmes)

"Something's coming out."
- "What is it?!"

"I peed my pants. I peed it all." (A woman who couldn't take the pressure of battle. Strangely enough I didn't notice any dark patches on her trousers. I was most unimpressed).

I felt like I'd wasted 2 hours and 8 minutes of my life, that i could've easily spent making origami instead. Avoid this movie, trust me. 2/10.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Die Hard With A Vengeance

Last week I caught up with Die Hard With A Vengeance, the third installment in the action packed Die Hard trilogy. This time John McLane is being toyed with by a guy called Simon who seems to take delight in bombing buildings. McLane has to carry out Simon's instructions or else a building is going up. Along the way, McLane picks up an ally in a shop owner named Zeus who saves him from being killed by a furious mob.
I'll start with what's good about this film. The action scenes are excellent. Explosions and chases are all skillfully filmed (which shouldn't be a suprise as it's directed by John McTiernan). The use of real New York locales also help give these sequences a real breathtaking zip. Samuel L. Jackson is also puts in an above par performance as Zeus.
Unfortunatley, when Simon appears on screen and his motives are revealed the film takes an almost cartoonish turn. The impetus of the film begins to ebb and flow with pointless character exposition and it begins to drag a bit.
The other problem I had is with the character of John McClane. He seems a long way from the hard working ordinary cop of the first two films. He's a borderline alcoholic on suspension from the NYPD. It really needn't be John McClane...it could be a copper from any film (except maybe Inspecter Clouseau).
It's ultimately a poor send off for the trilogy, considering the quality of the first two films. Great opening 45 minutes though.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ghostbusters

"Who Ya Gonna Call?"

I recently decided to revisit Ghostbusters and see if the film that charmed me as a child had stood the test of time.
The plot, should you need reminding, has three parapsychologists kicked out of their University and starting up a business catching ghosts. This career shift ties nicely into an evil Sumerian God called Gozer fashioning a portal into our world via an apartment block in New York City. Chaos ensues.
So, is it still as good as it was in 1984? Well, Bill Murray's acerbic Peter Venkman is far more irritatating that I remember, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of the film. The special effects still stand up quite well and support the story rather than upstaging it and the humour continues to raise a chuckle. The acting is competent (including the support, Rick Moranis is a definate highlight) and the cheesy theme song has you singing along. The grand finale which has The Stay-Puft Marshmallow man stomping down Central Park West a la Godzilla is still a great cinematic moment. Ghostbusters gives more contemporary comedies a run for their money even after 20 years.

Verdict: Still a classic

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Audition (Ôdishon)

Audition is a Japanese horror movie about a widower (Shigeharu Aoyama) who has decided, with a little help from his son, that it is time to move on and find himself a woman. Unsure how is going to achieve the task at hand, Shigeharu and a friend come up with the idea of holding auditions for a movie his friend may possibly make (he was a professional caster/movie producer or something like that). Anyway basically the audition was so Shigeharu could meet loads of women in a short space of time, choose one he liked, take her on a date, work the Aoyama charm, wham, bam you can figure out the rest.

He receives the résumés and starts sifting, and pretty quickly one young lady catches his eye, she is Yamazaki Asami, she meets all his requirements (professional training, quite fit, etc, etc) and Shigeharu seems to pretty sold on her, so much for meeting loads! Audition day comes, Shigeharu suffers hours for monkeys before showing some interest at the arrival of Asami, he questions her, goes home, calls her up and they go on a date. He has already fallen for her, she is pretty keen on him, they meet up a couple more times, chat a little then end up going away for a dirty weekend, filthy humbugs, they barely know each other.

Now to be fair what I have described above sounds a bit tame and compared to the next half of the film it is. The soft, slow love story/drama is over and you are now plunged in to a deep, dark, naughty twisted world with enough strangeness for at least 3 films. I don’t want to tell you what happens because it will ruin it for you but it is very good, very strange and quite difficult to understand so you’ll need your thinking hat on. There is lots of sickness and depravity, and like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face, this film is not for the faint hearted. So if you think you can handle it I would highly recommend seeing it.

Asami Yamazaki "Words create lies. Pain can be trusted"

Hostel

Well after a couple of days recovery I can now post my review of Hostel. For all you 'hardened horror' viewers this film is probably a walk in the park (or creepy grave yard) but for the weak, such as myself, this was a bit hard going.

The film follows two young Americans Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson), and Icelander Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) as they embark upon a backpacking trip through various European countries trying to get their end away with as many European women as possible. When they are told by this weird looking guy that there is this Hostel just outside of Bratislava with gorgeous women waiting to fulfill all their bedroom desires they get on the first train there. To cut a long story short, they get drugged or tricked by these gorgeous bitches (with great bodies by the way) and get tortured by wealthy businessman who to put it mildly are a bit wrong in the head.

Now I was fine up to this point but when the power drills and blow torches start to come out I turned in to a big girl and I wanted my mummy. I am not going to give anymore away as I think you sick lot might actually like this film. Don't get me wrong though as when I finally got over the whole ordeal and thought about it, it was actually not that bad a film, for what is essentially a slasher B movie.

I think I would have given this film about 3 to 4 out of 10 when I first viewed it but now I have had time to think about it I will officially give it 6 out of 10. I would be good to see what you lot make of it if you get chance to view it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jason and the Argonauts

What a film! great movie as I’m sure you all know, having undoubtedly watched it at least one of the hundred million times it has been shown on TV, I however was fortunate enough to find the DVD in the 4 for £20 sales in Blockbuster.
I was shocked and disgusted to discover that some miserable cretin had sold this classic movie to blockbuster for a nominal fee even thought I would ultimately benefit from it, then I remembered I was in Clacton-on-sea and quickly forgave them, for they obviously know not what they do.
Highly excited with my find, I handed over my money and left Clacton as quickly as possible, as any self-respecting law-abiding citizen should do. Once home and safe from the clutches of the evil chavs, I stored the film until the time was right, and what better time for a movie of this caliber than bank holiday weekend.
I’m pretty sure you have all seen this film so I won’t go on an on about it, but I would just like to say that I would have liked to see 2 things done differently. Now don’t get me wrong this is a great, great film but I feel there where 2 minor flaws, and they are;

1) When Hercules broke the rules and caused Talos to get pissed and start stomping around having a hissy fit, Jason had to save everyone, and all he said to Hercules was “you disobeyed me” Jason should have bitched slapped him hard in the chops then climbed up to the crows nest and landed a flying elbow right on Hercules head, just to let the Argonauts know who was running things. Instead he contacted Hera and used his last wish/aid/assistance to let the boys know what was happening, all because Hercules was a thieving little toe rag.

2) The Hydra wasn’t anywhere near hard enough, I know Jason was top boy by this stage but come on, where was the challenge? He didn’t even break a sweat!! I was hoping for some fire breathing and tail whipping action, no no no, it just tried to bite him, what was that about? Still, he defeated it and got the fleece. All a bit to easy for my liking, I would have liked to see Jason have to put in a bit more effort, but that’s just me.




So in summary Jason and the Argonauts is a great film, even taking in to consideration the 2 minor points I have mentioned above and if you haven't seen it I suggest you stop reading and run to your local video shop and get it now.

R-Point

Asian cinema is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment with the majority of the output from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea that makes it to these shores being very high quality. That's particularly true if you start comparing it to Hollywood's conveyor belt of dross.
So I was a bit disappointed to find that R-Point doesn't quite make the grade.

The intruiging premise is that a group of South Korean soldiers in Vietnam investigate a platoon that went missing six months earlier. The soldiers make their way to the last known location of the missing platoon; R-Point.
R-Point itself is an abandoned building shrouded in mist. The Vietcong regard it as holy ground and do not hang around to pick off unwary platoons of South Koreans, so there must be something else afoot. Well, the strange blue tinted view of the soldiers from something's perspective and the increasing sense of unease that's generated by the films atmosphere suggest that whatever got the first platoon, is going to get this one too.

I won't divulge much more of the plot as the ambiguity of the situation that the soldiers find themselves in is essential to how the viewer may read the film.

The film oozes atmosphere, is competently acted and has some gorgeous cinematography. It's just a shame it degenerates into a bit of a by-the-numbers horror flick. A missed opportunity.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Old Boy


Watched Old boy last night, I don’t want to tell you too much because I don’t want to ruin it for you when you watch, and trust me you DO want to watch this movie. Old Boy is the story of a man named Dae su(Min-sik Choi) who is kidnapped and held against his will in a room with only a TV for company for 15 years, oh and to put the icing on the cake, they kill his Mrs as well, nice touch.
Suddenly he is released and told he has 5 days to find out why he was kidnapped or they’re going to kill his new woman, guy has been free for 5 minutes and he is picking up chicks in sushi bars, legend! Anyway, so commences the journey to discover the truth, this is where it starts to get twisted but as I said, I don’t want to ruin it for you. What I will say is Dae-su is tough, very tough, there are some amazing fight scenes where he kicks some major ass and there is another great scene where he removes a mans teeth with a claw hammer. The movie itself is categorised as a thriller but there is plenty of action and even a bit of a love story in there, for the softer among you, there are some serious twists or is it seriously twisted? not sure which is a better description, but it is a very good film, if you don’t mind subs (its South Korean) then I would say its a must see. Being as my last post was huge and your all going to go see the film now because you know its great I think I’ll call it a day.

Dae-su: “I'll? I'll rip your whole body apart. And no-one'll be able to find it anywhere, and you know why? Because I'm going to chew it all down!”

Anatomy of Hell

While perusing though the Blockbuster 4 for £20 sale a while ago I was stuck with 7 DVD's and could not find a suitable 8th to make up my numbers, a bit of a dilemma as you can imagine, anyway to cut a long and boring story short, I ended up purchasing the above.
Some time passed and I finally got round to watching the movie which I can best describe as a steaming pile of excrement. The film is about a woman (Maria Cesar) who goes to a gay club and picks up a guy (Rocco Sifted, yes the porn star) who was gay so how she did it I’m still a little unsure, she’s ok but I seriously doubt she is fit enough to make a man forget he likes men, anyway she catches his attention, he follows and finds her cutting her wrist in the toilets. When he asks her why she is self-harming, she simply replies “because I am a woman” a little strange but I persevered.
Rocco in his infinite wisdom decides that he is going to help little miss crazy and gets her all patched up, now this is where it starts to get really strange. There is some brief chat between the two which basically comes down to her suggesting he only helped her because he wants a blow job, quite how she came to that conclusion I don’t know, its a gay club, he is gay, you're a chick!!. Maybe its me but I think she is being rather presumptuous and judging by the fact Rocco bitch slapped her hard in her mush, he did too.
Hurt and bruised she runs away, he follows and she ends up dropping to her knees anyway, I’m lost, I thought you like dudes Rocco! What’s going on?
Now after she has wiped her mouth she makes him a proposition, she offers to pay him to “watch me when I’m unwatchable” he agrees.
The rest of the film is based around four days of filth and debauchery, class I hear you say, no no no, it’s all wrong. I’ll save you the graphic details but what basically happens is;

Day 1, Rocco bangs on about how much he dislikes women because they are obscene, then has a little fiddle with her, forgot to mention he is naked the whole time.
Day 2 he carries on a bit more she has a little chat back telling him he hasn’t learnt anything and he is wrong, he takes his fiddling a stage further.
Day 3 she pipes up and tells him that he is wrong women are great, blah blah blah, he forgets he’s gay or thinks she is a boy or whatever and ends up, well you know where he ends up.
Day 4, he’s in love now turns up they share a moment, she gives him his money, he realises he shouldn’t have and ends up killing her because he is a bit pissed off.

That is basically the story now add in several shots of full frontal male nudity, countless female nudity, one shot of a naked child (little girl about 8, apparently for the close up it was a dummy, I don’t care it was wrong, and unnecessary) and lots of blood and there you have it. The director (Catherine Breillat) has tried, apparently to produce an intellectual art house movie, rubbish this is nonsense, what she has done is try her hardest to shock you, take the opening scene for example, its outside the club, you see to figures, one standing one on there knees. The shot comes in and it’s a guy giving another guy a blow job, this added nothing to the plot at all, it was just for shock value. The shot came in so close in was ridiculous, then it cut to a load of guys kissing, yes I know it's a gay bar, I can tell that from the handle bar moustaches and the leather there was no need for that. Then there was all the close ups of the woman’s lady bits, I though I was buying a film not a porno, if I wanted porn that’s what I would have bought, there was no need to view in such close graphic detail Rocco sticking his fingers in the holiest of holies.

I wont go on, it gets worse but lets not dwell on it, what I did was check out the imdb boards after to see if anybody else was as disgusted as I was, what I found was a bunch of people with too much time on their hands using words and phrases like:

“A philosophical theorem”

“an interest and knowledge of humanist philosophy from Ancient Greek Protagoras”

“Philosophic Humanism”

“Odalisque qualities”

“pseudo psycho-babble”

I didn’t understand any of this rubbish because the film was just crap, but lots of people with dictionary’s are trying to have intellectual debates about the films merit. It all steams from a woman that said it is aimed at a mature audience, after that everybody went thesaurus mad trying to prove they had an IQ over 150, idiots!
Apparently this film was supposed to portray the relationships between men and women, it didn’t, It was a shock fest full of filth that and I suggest should you have the opportunity to view it, don’t bother, unless you really want to waste 77 minutes of your life.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it -5

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ong-Bak


Ong-Bak

Staring Tony Jaa












I must admit that I’ve been meaning to see this film for awhile. With reviews like the following who wouldn’t?

“Makes crouching tiger feel like a trip to the ballet” – Total Film

“Four stars” - Empire

“Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Lee all rolled into one!” – Total Film

“The most amazing stunts you’ll ever see” - Loaded

This film does indeed contain some of the best action sequences and fight scenes that you will find on film. (Or DVD in this case) Considering that all the stunts are performed by Tony Jaa himself without stunt doubles or with the aid of wire - work and CGI the action sequences are truly amazing. – Wachowski Brothers / Hollywood are you listening?

This film demonstrates the beautiful yet deadly Thai martial art of Muay Thai. (Thai Boxing) The slow mo replays left me thinking how does he do that? Surely it must be computer generated or wire-work!

The tuk tuk (three wheeled taxi moped) chase scene comes to mind as an example of how some of the action sequences borrow heavily from other films. When the roof of the tuk tuk is sliced off it screams Goldeneye to me. Having said that the whole chase scene reminds me of a ride I took in the early hours of the morning while on holiday in Bangkok last November, those of you who have been a passenger in a tuk tuk whilst taking a corner at high speed will know exactly what I’m talking about. Thank god I was drunk at the time!

I’m sad to say that although the action and fight scenes are amazing, that’s all there is to this film one fight scene after another. I know some of you might think “what’s wrong with that?” Well, I personally like an action film to have a good plot and story line as well as the fight scenes.


The story line barely exists in this film but some of this maybe lost in translation in the subtitles. (I refuse to watch an English dubbed foreign film)

I find it quite strange that out of all the reviews listed above I find myself agreeing with the one given by a lad’s magazine published here in England:

“The most amazing stunts you’ll ever see” - Loaded


For action I’ll give it 8 out of 10
For the film as a whole I’ll give it 6 out of 10


Verdict: It’s worth watching for the action alone.


I picked up this film for £6.99 at the Virgin Megastore on Tottenham Court Rd.
(Although I could have bought a “backup copy” in Bangkok for 80 Baht)

So what’s next? Well I thought I’d go old school and watch A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick.


Later Peeps

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Outer Limits: The Galaxy Being

"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits."

I picked up the Outer Limits box set for a bargain £11.99 from Play.com. I used to watch the various repeats that were scattered ad-hoc throughout my childhood (I was certainly not around for it's first run in 1963) but I've never had the opportunity to watch the series in full. Twelve quid and the internet have changed all that.
Now for some reason
The Outer Limits seems to have a reputation for being nothing more than a second-rate rendition of The Twilight Zone. That generalisation really isn't right, because whilst both shows were landmarks in their own right they were quite different in both their context and content. The Twilight Zone was based more in the realm of science fiction and usually relied on a twist in the tale wheras The Outer Limits was more like horror and was perhaps a little more downbeat. Not that I dislike The Twilight Zone, I love it, it's just that The Outer Limits should be regarded in it's own right.

In the first episode "The Galaxy Being";
Cliff Robertson (Ben Parker in Spiderman) is a radio station owner who also loves to dabble in science. He steals power and equipment from his own station and builds a transceiver that makes contact with the galaxy being of the title. The being (who is fairly benign) accidentally gets loose and creates havoc and kills before giving mankind a warning and disappearing. This episode is very much a product of it's time with various references to the cold war, but that doesn't detract from the spellbinding way this tale plays out. The special effects may also seem hokey in this CGI filled age but there's something inherently spooky about the film negative effect used to portray the galaxy being and his energy. This is a great opening episode and sets a high benchmark for the rest of the series.

These days this wouldn't frighten a two year old, but that's not the point of watching them. Programmes like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits are the standard for the genre. This one episode is considerably better than anything I've seen in the past two weeks masquerading as science fiction.

Ice Age: The Meltdown


I recently got dragged to the cinema kicking and screaming (honestly) to see Ice Age: The Meltdown (Ice Age 2) which in all fairness wasn’t as horrendous an experience as I had thought it would be.Under normal circumstances I would avoid early showings at the cinema like the plague, but as it’s a kid’s film I didn’t really have much choice. After spending a small fortune on sweets to keep the lady happy, I was faced with the prospect of enduring 91 minutes of rubbish drowned out by screaming kids and mobile phone using chav's. However I was wrong, the kids where there but well behaved and the actual film wasn’t that bad, I would even so as far as to say it was Alright.I do have a slightly biased opinion as I cant stand Ray Romano, being as he is cleverly disguised as a mammoth I can just about suffer him, anyway the story is your standard kiddy movie stuff, day is saved, they all live happily ever after (well not ever after as I haven’t seen any mammoths lately but you know what I mean).The jokes are amusing, with some working on a more adult level as well as for the younger viewer and they even brought back the little squirrel thing and he is class. The only two things I could really moan about are;


1. The sabre tooth tiger didn’t eat any animal children, and there was an opportunity for it

2. Sid the sloth does start to get slightly annoying at times but when you think he is voiced by John Leguizamo who has study the art of being annoying long and hard, you have to admit it could have been worse.

So all in all not bad obviously not going to be winning the academy award for best picture but for mindless entertainment, you could watch much worse.


I give it a 6 out of 10

"Parents, Please do not leave your children unattended. All unattended children will be eaten"

The Matador

I recently watched The Matador and to be honest it was just OK. I think it is advertised as Pierce Brosnan's best comedy, but has he been in any other comedies?? There were a couple of funny scences in it though, like the one where he walks through reception in just his smalls and boots. For me though the funniest scene was when this young boy is teling him that his Mum (Mom) likes him and Brosnan tells the kid to go away. The kid replies with 'See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya' and Brosnan's reply is 'Smell ya shouldn't have to tell ya'. For some reason that made me laugh!! There are a few sex scenes but when watching it with my in laws the face starts to go a bit hot and find my self looking away from the TV but trying not to look at anyone else in the room.

I think the best bit about this film is the acting of Danny Wright who plays the salesman who is caught up in a strange relationship with Brosnan.

I give it 5.5 out of ten.

'Smell ya, shouldn't have to tell ya!!!'