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

Bat Without Wings review

Posted : 14 years, 2 months ago on 9 December 2008 05:17 (A review of Bat Without Wings)

Watched this right after VENGEANCE OF A SNOW GIRL. In some ways more and less fantastical than SNOW GIRL. Definitely has a nastier edge and an higher body count (including plenty of non-combatants). A fair amount of gothic sensibility, but not as much as, say, THE BLACK LIZARD. As with most of his horror tinged wu xia (which also includes THE BLACK LIZARD, FULL MOON SCIMITAR, SWORDSMAN AND ENCHANTRESS, THE WEB OF DEATH), it's a stage bound affair.

The plot is about the re-emergence of a villain thought long dead (24 of 26 heroes died defeating him) and the search for his now hidden weapons, the Bat Blades, but it's not really that simple.

The fights are fairly evenly divided between intimate 2 or 3 person affairs to group mรชlรฉes. The larger fights usually end up becoming smaller fights fairly quickly (doesn't pay to be a grunt in a wu xia). Fair amount of wire work, but acrobatics aside, the swordplay is fine.

If you like Chor Yuen you'll like this, if not, but you're willing to risk a taste, try INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF A CHINESE COURTESAN.


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Vengeance of a Snow Girl review

Posted : 14 years, 2 months ago on 9 December 2008 05:14 (A review of Vengeance of a Snow Girl)

Interesting to note that by the time Lo Wei directed (and acted in) VENGANCE OF A SNOW GIRL, he'd already directed over a dozen movies, mostly Shaw Bros movies, and acted in over two dozen. He has directed two Bruce Lee movies (FIST OF FURY and THE BIG BOSS) as well as directing and or producing plenty of other movies including a couple for the Yuen Clan, THE YOUNG TAOISM FIGHTER and TAOISM DRUNKARD.

The plot is a variation of the -- child seeks revenge on the person/people who killed his/her parents/family. This time it's for a sword (how old was this trope when this movie was made)?

The movie is wu xia fantasy lite no where near the level of HOLY FLAME. There's a fair amount of wire work, mostly people jumping around during fights, though some of the fights are grounded. I'm no expert, but I thought the swordplay was pretty good.

What really made the movie for me was Li Ching's performance as the anti-hero. Oh, and not to be too spoilerish, hopefully (I knew where the movie was going when this factoid popped up during a conversation), but Ice Girl is probably a better description in more ways than one.


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Voodoo Island

Posted : 14 years, 5 months ago on 25 August 2008 01:22 (A review of Voodoo Island/The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (Midnite Movies Double Feature))

Mostly interesting for the presence of Boris Karloff and Elisha Cook,Jr. Boris is the hero in this movie, looking fairly robust; he plays a professional skeptic/debunker investigating a mysterious island set for development. Not too many movies where he was the good guy. Usually he was the villain or an anti-hero at best.

The villains in this movie are the carnivorous plants and a callous, encroaching civilization. Though the guys defending themselves may have been a little quick with the 'trigger' finger their motives are sincere and they are not unsympathetic.

This would have been a decent 2nd half of a double feature at the drive-in.


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Subspeceis

Posted : 14 years, 5 months ago on 24 August 2008 03:45 (A review of Subspecies: The Epic Collection)

Hammer it aint, but Subspecies is an effective vampire movie. What the leading ladies lack in acting skills they make up in hotness. The creature effects (Radu's little helpers) are crude, even by the standards of the time, but seem quaintly charming now. Anders Hove, as Radu, is what really makes the movie. He's a monster and he doesn't just know it; he revels in it.

There's a little bit of blood, a little bit of skin, a little bit of action, a little bit of romance and a lot of atmosphere. The movie greatly benefits from the Romanian locations. Subspecies was the start of a pretty good franchise for Full Moon.


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The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake

Posted : 14 years, 5 months ago on 24 August 2008 01:04 (A review of Voodoo Island/The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (Midnite Movies Double Feature))

Yup, it's low budget (script contrivances ahoy!). It's never actually scary. I doubt it provided any shudders back in '59 either, but it is often grotesque; the offbeat fantasy/horror aspects were unique for the day and still play pretty fresh even today.

The twist toward the end of the movie is cool. At 70 minutes, it moves along at a brisk pace, wasting no time. You'll probably only recognize character actor Henry Daniell, who starred in a ton of genre work during '40's - '60's. Valerie French was one of the leads in the currently still unreleased on dvd THE 27TH DAY.

Midnite Movies was made for movies like this, forgotten, but solid b-movies made to fill out the latter half of a double bill.


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5 Dolls for an August Moon

Posted : 14 years, 5 months ago on 24 August 2008 01:01 (A review of The Mario Bava Collection: Volume Two (Lisa and the Devil / House of Exorcism / Bay of Blood / Baron)

Basically a variation of 10 Little Indians. Lot's of eye candy (Edwige Fenech, yummy), which is good, cause the plot's not quite all there. Best to sit back enjoy the pretty pictures and euro-jazz sound track.

There is a twist at the end that's good, but it ain't enough. Considering what he was handed to work with, Bava did pretty good, but he still couldn't make it into a silk purse. A lesser Bava, (many consider it the least), but still worth a look, even if you spend it all wondering what the hell's going on.

The rating's for the set, this movie rates about a 4 or 5 out of 10.


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Good Show

Posted : 14 years, 5 months ago on 17 August 2008 03:38 (A review of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. - The Complete Series)

Just re-watched the pilot episode, "Pilot" after eighteen years. Think of Brisco County as the Wild Wild West's light hearted cousin. This feature length episode introduces us to the primary characters, establishes the overall story (and the first season arc) and sets the tone for the series.

Bruce makes the show what it is (man, he looks so young). Couldn't have been easy doing an oater in '90, much less one that was a bit of a comedy with a touch of sci-fi. He and his co-stars made it work. Fox's fumbling touch is what killed it (it was the first of many; others that followed it include Brimstone, Wonderfalls and Firefly).

Kelly Rutherford may have left an indelible mark as Dixie Cousins, but she was only in 7 of the 27 episodes. Can't help but feel her character was inspired by Frenchy (DESTRY RIDES AGAIN) with perhaps a touch of Lili Von Shtupp (BLAZING SADDLES (who's character was also a direct take off on Frenchy)).

As pilots go, this one proves that sometimes a show starts with all its cylinders firing. Unlike many show axed before their time, Brisco actually got a full twenty-six episodes (plus the pilot) and what with the episodes being 45 minutes long (15 minutes for commercials, ow. It'w worse now though, OW) working through the set will take some time, but no effort.


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Cartoony Fun

Posted : 14 years, 9 months ago on 23 April 2008 01:15 (A review of The Gods Must Be Crazy III)

A mash-up of Mr. Vampire and The Gods must be crazy, starring Lam Ching Ying and N!xau. Lot's of misunderstandings, gags and cartoon villainy.

Lam Ching Ying and his employer are transporting an hopping corpse back to China when calamity strikes and the corpse is lost in south Africa where it is adopted by a tribe. Hilarity ensues.

Lam Ching Ying's Daoist priest is a bit more arrogant than normal, and a bit of a jerk, but with a good heart.

Of all the Mr Vampire sequels, this is one of the better, if sillier ones.


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Mythological Treasures

Posted : 14 years, 9 months ago on 20 April 2008 11:20 (A review of The Forbidden Kingdom)

I liked it. It really is a fan's movie. In the first five minutes you see pictures of Lau Kar Leung, Lo Lieh, Jimmy Wang Yu, Cheng Pei Pei (not sure if the poster was from COME DRINK WITH ME or GOLDEN SWALLOW), Gordon Liu and others flash past during the beginning credits. Movies mentioned (that I can remember), ENTER THE DRAGON, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR (twice).

There's a training montage that I've heard people complain about,but please, how many Asian movies have I sat through with training sequences. Honestly, no new ground is broken here. If you're a martial arts fan you've seen it all before and probably better. I saw the fate of one of the characters from a mile away, having sat through sufficient Shaw flicks. If you've only seen CTHD or HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, then it's a bigger treat. No one embarrasses themselves. I know it sounds kinda like I'm dissing it, but I'm not. It's a competent and comfortable (if you've watched a good chunk of HK martial arts movies) movie. It's certainly the best HK martial arts movie not made in HK and not directed by a Asian (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is more of a wu xia, I think) I've seen.

The look of the movie is fairly comtemporary, like CTHD, HFD, or FEARLESS except for a few scenes that could have come from the Shaw Bros sound stages or ZU (either one).

The Jackie/Jet fight was cool, though I have to echo the wish that they would have done it even 10 years ago.

Oh, and maybe it's a kid movie, but it's not a kiddie movie. I was happy seeing it a full price, so it's at least worth a matinee ticket. It's certainly the best Hollywood movie, Jackie or Jet have been in, in umpteen years.


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Good Movie, Crummy Disc

Posted : 15 years, 3 months ago on 31 October 2007 02:51 (A review of Chicken and Duck Talk)

In spite of the burnt in subtitles and mediocre picture quality the story overcomes the disc's shortcomings. It's also a PAL disc, not NTSC (the dvd info on the back cover says NTSC). If you're a Hui brothers fan it's definitely worth watching.


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