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All reviews - Movies (49) - TV Shows (5) - DVDs (41) - Music (13)

Split Second (1992) - Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 18 February 2011 04:23 (A review of Split Second)

Good crime/sci-fi/horror movie. It's 2008 and a serial killer is running around a deluged London ripping the hearts out of people, pursued by a cop (Hauer), who was left mentally and physically scarred from a previous encounter years ago.

Finding and watching this movie requires dedication, which is well rewarded if you have a taste for b-movies. Full of familiar character actors and shot claustrophobically, it's not all that flashy, but it is witty and flooded London is nicely rendered.


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THE SHAOLIN BROTHERS (1977)

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 20 October 2009 02:31 (A review of The Shaolin Brothers)

dir Joseph Kuo Cater Wong, Tung Li, Chin Meng

Carter Wong is an evil Ching prince that is trying to stop Ming rebels from delivering information that would bring down the empire. There's a personal vendetta and some Taoist hijinks in the mix, too.

Carter Wong once again impresses even though he just bookends the movie. Not sure why this is called THE SHAOLIN BROTHERS, because there didn't seem to be any Shaolin (the two little seen protagonists did share the same sifu, however). The plot's a bit incoherent, but the threads do eventually converge. It's a basher with plenty of sword and mixed weapon play. The fights are plentiful and energetic (lots of jumping and at least once, pretty fantastical). Some of the cuts/editing during the fights are jarring. This seems to be how Kuo made his movies, though. I've sat through THE 18 BRONZEMEN 1 & 2, THE 36 DEADLY STYLES, DRAGON'S CLAWS, and now THE SHAOLIN BROTHERS and all the fights have been shot in the same manner. The corpse gag predates THE SHADOW BOXING (SPIRITUAL BOXER, PART II) by five years. Funny how no one really got the supernatural corpse/vampire stuff right until Sammo (SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS/MR. VAMPIRE) came along. Solid, entertaining effort.


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Private Eye

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 4 October 2009 10:01 (A review of Private Eye)

Jeong-min Hwang is Jin-Ho Hong, an ex-police officer making ends meet in Seoul by finding missing persons and cheating spouses. He is approached by a medical student, Gwang Su (Ryu Deok-Hwan), who has a problem decomposing in his basement lab; the body of the son of a high ranking official that he found in a field and retrieved to study. They team up to find the murderer and open a can of worms that threatens to overwhelm them.

There's a touch of Bond and a dash of hard-boiled detective, but not noir, more like CHINA TOWN. Also, a dollop of Sherlock Holmes in the relationship between Jin-Ho Hong and Gwang Su; if you're a Holmes buff you'll appreciate the ending. The murder is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. The period setting is a change of pace from contemporary Korean suspense/thrillers like THE CHASER with period details looking pretty good, but I'm no expert, so I couldn't say just how authentic. It looked like the mid/late Twenties or early Thirties. There's some action, but this is primarily mystery/suspense book-ended with a good chase (rickshaw!) near the beginning and a nice fight near the end.


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Kamogawa Horumo: Battle League in Kyoto review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 2 October 2009 09:40 (A review of Kamogawa Horumo: Battle League in Kyoto)

Abe (Takayuki Yamada) is a freshman student at Kyoto University, currently suffering from the springtime blues. He ends up accepting an membership party invitation from the one of the Universities activity clubs, the Azure Dragons ('a perfectly ordinary club'), mostly from boredom and the offer of free food and booze. He joins the club because the beauty he is smitten with joins. Friendships are tested, hearts broken and I can say no more.

This movie is best seen cold with as little foreknowledge as possible, so no spoilers because it really would spoil the movie. KAMOGAWA HORUMO plays like a coming of age at University romanctic comedy all while the weirdness slowly jacks up. Yes, there's a clue in the title, but whatever you're thinking, that's probably not it. Though, yes, there are punches thrown. It's funny, a little silly and you get to see a lot of Kyoto and assuming they shot on location, Kyoto University.


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Franchise Reboot

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 2 October 2009 05:02 (A review of Universal Soldier: Regeneration)

Freedom fighter/terrorists take the Russian president's two kids hostage and also threaten a nuclear disaster (they're holed up in Chernobyl). The ace in their hole is a NGU (Next Generation Universal Soldier) controled by a mercenary rogue scientist. The NGU is damn near an OMAC (One Man Army Corp). Russia/US respond by pulling the first generation Universal Soldiers out of deep freeze.

It's a franchise reboot. John Hyams is Peter Hyams (TIME COP) son. Peter was the director of photography (according to John) or cinematographer (according to IMDB) and the movie looks great. They mostly shot at Sophia, Bulgaria, at an abaondened steel factory which doubles for Chernobyl. John Hyams choreographed the fights which are plentiful and brutal, particularly one rematch. Also interesting is that a Universal Soldier can be the monster and the hero and the villain all in one movie. The characters are more or less one dimensional and there's nothing particularly original in there, but if Universal Soldier: A New Beginning were a cake and you like cake, it's good cake.



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Merantau review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 27 September 2009 12:57 (A review of Merantau)

A Merantau is like a Indonesian 'walkabout'. A young man must leave his family for a about a year as a rite of passage to adulthood. Our hero Yula journeys to Jakarta where he hopes to teach Silat, the martial art he practices, but things don't go as planned and he ends up fighting for the lives of a young woman and her younger brother.

This is the international cut of the film which cut about 45 minutes of Indonesian family drama from the movie (the front of the movie). I think this is a really good flick; right up there with Ong Bak/Chocolate as far as the fighting's concerned, but it's got a better more grounded story (with only one glaring coincidence) that goes a few places you don't expect. There's also a low level villain who's a total loser weasel; a great character. The fights are inventive, gritty and often look painful. Always nice to see a new martial arts movie, especially a good one.


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Solomon Kane review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 27 September 2009 12:47 (A review of Solomon Kane)

Definitely the best big budget, theatrically released sword & sorcery movie in what seems aeons. The emphasis is on the sword part of sword and sorcery; the sorcery bits more or less bookend the movie (budget). Solomon Kane a tortured hero who starts off as a total bastard, but finds his purpose after he discovers he is a damned soul. It's an original origin story, based on Howard's character, but I think it's certainly the most faithful to Howard's spirit I've seen. The fights are plentiful and well choreographed. There's even what I'd like to think of as an homage to THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER. There aren't enough adult fantasies (much less sword & sorcery) being made; see it and and support it and we might see more Solomon Kane adventures.


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RoboGeisha review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 26 September 2009 03:03 (A review of RoboGeisha)

If you've got a taste for gonzo Japanese film making, Robogeisha hits the spot nicely. It's a really fun movie, that's a couple of notches above Noboru Iguchi's previous effort Tokyo Gore Police. This movie has a larger budget (still microsopic for all practical purposes) and like his other movies was shot in two weeks. There's much less blood than his other efforts (he talked about the producer (distrubitors?) not wanting too much blood; this is quite a bit more mainstream (relatively speaking). The tone of the movie is much lighter too. Kinda like a Dr Goldfoot movie, only better. That said, the humor is broad and we were mugged by a few performances, but it was also obvious that everyone on screen was having a blast and their enthusiasm was infectious. The effects are a little slicker; there's a nice giant robot. Take it as a modern equivalent of a Corman quickie.


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First Squad: The Moment of Truth review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 25 September 2009 07:35 (A review of First Squad: The Moment of Truth)

A mixture of anime and talking heads (live); Russian written, Japanese animated. Reminded me a bit of Nightwatch/Daywatch. Involves Nazi and German para-normal intelligence divisions battling each other manipulate a turning point in history (the moment of history) The real problem with First Squad was that everytime the story gained any momentum it cut to a talking head, that talked about the history of that time period. It was interesting, especially the blending of fact and fiction, but it felt like we were stuttering through the movie. Still worth watching for a Russian perspective of the early war years. Studio 4C's animation is up to snuff, but nothing special.


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Doomsday (Unrated Widescreen Edition) review

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 19 September 2009 09:56 (A review of Doomsday (Unrated Widescreen Edition))

Scotland is completely quarantined after a rapacious virus starts mowing down the Scottish population. Thirty years later a small group of commandos returns to the walled off death zone to look for a cure...

This one's a little tricky. It's really a B movie with an A movie budget, but make no mistake it's definitely an exploitation movie no matter how polished the picture on the screen looks. All the actors were fine (given the material), the action was great and there was a ton of blood and gore, but the script is just shoddy. It's always good to see Bob Hoskins and hey! haven't seen you in a while, Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir from DS9). Rhona Mitra is a perfectly good addition to the ranks of women action stars, though she's only made one other action movie since Doomsday, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009).

I don't mind picking out references/homages/lifts from other movies and also, it's not something that the movie gives you enough time to think about while your watching it, but afterwards, the more you think about it, the more you pick the plot to pieces. This is an example of the individual parts of the movie being greater than the sum of those parts. Not a good thing. Even so, its worth watching if you're expectations are set properly.


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