Archive for the Action/adventure Category

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Posted in Action/adventure, Crime, Movies with tags on June 1, 2014 by Cara Marie

Dolph Lundgren stars as a baby white guy who was raised in Japan and takes the culture very seriously. Brandon Lee stars as a part Japanese-American dudebro who gets to quip a lot. Together, they are the worst cops I have ever seen on film!

No, really, they are dreadful. Entering buildings without warrants, setting fire to people who have fallen in vats of flammable liquid … there’s not much in the way of due process going on.

Because they are such shitty cops, they have both had trouble keeping partners in the past. When they meet, Lundgren has been beating up the gangsters harassing the owner of his favourite restaurant – Lee walks in, and, not knowing this, immediately starts trying to beat Lundgren up as well. Cue super awkwardness when they realise they are both cops! And what’s more, each other’s new partner.

Screenshot of Lee in a superfly suit, arms open wide, and Lundgren in a leather jacket, looking dubious.

Dolph Lundgren is not impressed.

Read more »

The Tournament

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies with tags on May 14, 2014 by Cara Marie

A movie about fight-to-the-death competition for assassins. No, I don’t know why you’d participate either.

So there are three main characters:

  • the assassin who won the last competition three years ago; since then, his wife was murdered in what apparently was an attempt to knock him off – he’s convinced that one of the other assassins did it, and is determined to get his revenge
  • an assassin who actually seems like a nice person (Kelly Hu) – we know this because when confronted with a poor schmuck of a priest, who’s had someone else’s assassin-tracker slipped in his drink, she tries to protect him
  • aforesaid schmuck of a priest, who is introduced getting kicked out of the pub at opening time. Big ups to whoever decided that what this film needed was an alcoholic priest. He is played by Robert Carlyle, who is putting in more effort than he really needs to for this film.

I found this quite enjoyable, but it more as an unintentional comedy than as a serious action movie. There are some particularly incongruous music choices that make it – like the old-timey music played over a montage of death. Read more »

Judge Dredd: Versace edition

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies, Science fiction with tags on April 13, 2014 by Cara Marie

Here are some things Judge Dredd (the 1995 movie) does well: it really truly looks like a 2000AD dystopia. The special effects are excellent, with a few exceptions (the mid-air chase scenes don’t stack up so well). There is a good robot (not in the moral sense). And I do believe there are some modern movies could learn from the number of women in the background of scenes.

On the other hand, who decided Rob Schneider needed to be in this movie? Who decided that Dredd needed a love interest? Why do studios think that erasing a property’s defining characteristics is the way to success?

(Maybe that’s unfair – I have seen a lot of really good adaptations, that took liberties without betraying the source material. On the other hand, I’ve also seen Stark Trek Into Darkness and The Dark Knight Rises, so.)

Also – the giant gold shoulder armor, why?! Read more »

I’m never going to be a judge (like you)

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies, Science fiction with tags on April 12, 2014 by Cara Marie

This post is about the Dredd’s ending: so big spoilers. Read more »

‘Who the hell finds robots?’

Posted in Action/adventure, Horror, Movies, Science fiction with tags on April 12, 2014 by Cara Marie

The premise of Battle of the Damned is that there has been a zombie virus outbreak in what is supposedly a city somewhere in South-East Asia. Dolph Lundgren has been sent in by a mysterious businessman, to track down said businessman’s daughter and bring her out.

Dolph Lundgren’s character is named Major Max Gatling (of course). I am now thinking of changing my name to Cara Gatling. Read more »

Movie night review

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies, Science fiction with tags , on January 26, 2014 by Cara Marie

I Love Maria

‘The most transhumanist film I’ve ever seen.’ – L

If you’re a gang leader wanting to take over the city, what do you do?

  1. Build a moderately sized war robot – let’s see the cops fight that off!
  2. Build a humanoid robot – more subtle, also you can impress your girlfriend by creating it in her image
  3. Build a really fucking big robot, like big enough to squash people
  4. All of the above; also, turn yourself into a cyborg – the human body is fragile

The cops are incapable, so it’s up to a group of misfits to become heroes and save the day.

I’m struggling to think how I can describe this movie without going into overwhelming detail. So instead, I’m just going to put this trailer here.

Mandrill

The main thing I learnt during this film was that L and H are such HUGE GEEKS. I mean I knew this already, but WOW how much time can you spend discussing colour timing? In turns out that when you’re not especially engaged in a film, you can discuss colour timing a lot.

The main thing I learnt from this film is that the way to a woman’s heart (read, her pants) is to compliment her five weaknesses: her eyes, her hair, her mouth, her skin and her scent. ‘At least it’s not negging?’ we decided.

So, this movie is basically Batman if instead of becoming a caped crusader, Bruce Wayne became a bounty-hunter who modelled himself off James Bond (the movie has an in-universe equivalent).

Ok, actually, I’m doing Bruce Wayne a disservice – Bruce is motivated by a sense of injustice. Mandrill is all about the revenge. Which means that when he has the opportunity to kill the man who murdered his parents, he takes it. Even if it means breaking the heart of the woman he’s just fallen for.

I actually quite liked the love-interest-come-villain in this movie. Mandrill has been trying to seduce her (so he can get to her father, the parent-killer), but she’s not buying it. At least, not until he wins her over with SILLY DANCING. I think he’s meant to be harking back to a scene in the James-Bond-equivalent movies, which they are both giant geeks for.

After dancing, they gallavant about the city, laughing, and stealing alcohol even though she’s a casino-heiress who really ought to just pay for it, and finally making out. Then they go back to her room and have sex.

OH! I forgot that the previous night he killed/incapacitated a bunch of security guys so he could sneak into her room. I’m not sure why he was sneaking into her room, but he discovered that she had his mother’s locket, so he stood in the corner of her room and had a little cry, and then presumably left.

So, the day after they have sex, he kills her father in front of her. BANG! How rude. He feels really bad, because that’s the moment he decides he’s in love with her. But it’s too late; she puts on a slinky black dress and becomes evil.

She then:

  • sleeps with his uncle
  • manipulates him into killing said uncle
  • SHOOTS MANDRILL DEAD instead of letting herself be properly overcome by romantic feelings
  • collects the bounty on his head and drives off into the sunset.

It probably says something about unsympathetic a protagonist Mandrill was, that we found this a satisfying ending. And then they spoiled it. Because instead of our heroine checking  he was properly dead and putting him in the body bag herself, she let her lackey do it. So of course, when the bounty collector checks the bag (after she’s left), it turns out it’s the lackey in there, and not Mandrill at all. COP OUT.

I guess we were meant to want Mandrill survive. But he was an awful person, and so we didn’t.

Recent movie nights

Posted in Action/adventure, Crime, Horror, Movies with tags , on December 8, 2013 by Cara Marie

Kung-Fu Chefs

Two brothers, both excellent chefs, have a falling out that ends up with one never being able to cook again, and the other, played by Sammo Hung, getting kicked out of the family for serving a dish that made everyone sick.

Years later Hung starts cooking again, which causes his nephew to try and avenge his father’s honour by ruining Hung’s restaurant, beating everyone up, and also by hiring chefs that can defeat Hung’s protege in a reality TV show cooking contest.

Kung-Fu Chefs was hard to follow at times – not because the plot was especially convoluted, but because a bunch of connecting scenes seem to have been cut out, leaving you to wonder how people got from here to there, and why aren’t they in the refrigerator any more?

Despite that, it was a really fun film. The action scenes were enjoyable, and we all got really hungry while watching it. Which is really what you want out of a movie called Kung-Fu Chefs.

Also watched that night: Tai Chi Zero. Will leave talking about that until we’ve seen Tai Chi Hero as well.

Hard Boiled

It took a while to really get into this movie. I think it suffers from the two leads not actually meeting till quite a way into the movie. (It also suffers because after a certain point, you can’t help but compare it to another movie, which anything would suffer in comparison to.)

So: Chow Yun Fat plays Tequila, a cop driven to revenge after his partner dies in a horrific shoot-out in a bird cafe. (I mean, everyone seemed to have birds with them. I’m not sure what that was about.) Tequila is in trouble with his boss for killing the gangster they were after during the shoot-out; he’s going to be taken off the case altogether and that is not okay with Tequila.

Our other lead is played by Tony Leung (the character’s name is also Tony), and he’s a hitman being seduced into a rival gang. (I say seduced, because the rival gang boss expresses some rather romantic sentiments when he’s trying to convince Tony to join him. Maybe it was the translation, but S and I were both like, um.)

Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung have great chemistry, and the film really picks up once the two of them are on screen together. (They’re both so young in this!) Sadly, it’s not for a while.

The action scenes are shocking and brutal, and some of the choreography is very impressive … but they go on too long. There’s a point where there’s been so much shooting you can’t tell why they’re just not all dead yet, and you’ve lost what the point of the scene was.

The final action sequence spices things up by forcing Chow Yun Fat to fight while carrying a baby, though, so I suppose I can forgive it for that ;)

Also watched that night: Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Experimental stop-motion metal-fetishist bizarrity. S told us there was no weird sex stuff. There turned out to be a lot of weird sex stuff. It was an experience.

Dragon Heat and The Viral Factor

Posted in Action/adventure, Crime, Movies with tags on October 15, 2013 by Cara Marie

Two Hong Kong action flicks edited by Chung Wai-Chiu, a fact I only bring up because one of them was so shockingly edited we had to IDMB the editor afterwards. Here we go …

Dragon Heat

A Hong Kong action movie staring Michael Biehn! What could go wrong?

… a lot. Luckily, this was the kind of movie that was hilarious while it was being awful. It suffered from an excess of characters (six good guys, plus miscellaneous cops to serve as canon-fodder; four bad guys on one team, two bad guys on another, plus miscellanous flunkies and an ex-girlfriend). The movie did make an effort to introduce most of them … with little introduction cards and characteristic dramatic shots. (The characteristic dramatic shots get used again whenever a character does something especially cool.) There were also title cards for each ‘chapter’ of the movie.

Dragon Heat is one of the most incoherently edited films I have ever scene. If you can think of an editing technique, it’s in here. (At one point, L asked me why I was complaining about a bizarrely placed fade when we’d just crosscut between the present-day action scene and a black-and-white clip of the character’s signature dramatic shot. The answer is, because it was just another unnecessary thing.)

At first, L and I were impressed that the bad guys were actually decent shots – but it turned out that only applied to people other than our heroes. We were told – in the introductions, and in a particularly memorable scene featuring a duck-shooting game – that our heroes were good shots, but we never saw any evidence of this outside of the duck-shooting game. (Later, there is a close-range sniper battle!)

There was also a cringe-worthy moment when the only woman on our team of heroes actually killed one of the bad guys (no-one had managed it till then; you have to pretend it’s a cop’s job to kill bad guys to watch this movie) and she takes a moment to smile goofily at the team sniper who has a crush on her. They have a *moment*.

… and then Nikita shoots her in the head.

(I’m kidding, it’s not Nikita. It’s Maggie Q playing a much less competent female assassin! And being wasted in general.)

The rest of the team get a little moment of bonding-in-grief, and we move on. Luckily, she wasn’t one of the characters we were expected to care about.

Sadly, I don’t think I ever managed to care about any of them. Which, given the size of the cast, isn’t really a surprise.

The Viral Factor

I watched this while I was in Malaysia, but it turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat, so I feel like I should talk about it now. Unlike Dragon Heat, this movie seemed competently edited.

This is one of the many movies I watched while I was in Malaysia; I’m talking about it now because turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat. This surprised me, because The Viral Factor seemed competently edited.

The Viral Factor is the sort of movie that is competent without ever achieving anything greater. The region 4 DVD case is misleading – it makes the movie seem far more action-y than it actually is. Which isn’t to say there’s no action, but at its heart this is a drama about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. It wasn’t until I realised that that I actually started to enjoy the movie.

The action plotline was the least memorable part – someone had manufactured a virus in order to make money selling the vaccines; Jay Chou had to stop it. Also Jay Chou was dying. Also he’d just been reunited with his estranged gambling addict father and criminal brother, and met his criminal brother’s adorable daughter. Awkward family bonding! Things resolved much as you’d expect them to, and I teared up at the end.

The only action scene that really stuck with me was the car chase, and that was for the wrong reasons. See, they were in KL at that point. And I’d just been in KL. More specifically, I’d just been in a KL traffic jam. And I had trouble suspending my disbelief that the roads would ever be that clear.

Last night’s movies

Posted in Action/adventure, Middle fiction, Movies, Science fiction with tags on January 26, 2013 by Cara Marie

Notes from last night’s movie night, which turned out to be ‘surprisingly competent movie’ themed, but only because we switched Mortal Kombat off after ten minutes. Spoilers ahead.

Alien Western

Also known as High Plains Invaders. Not to be confused with Cowboys and Aliens.

This might be a Western in its setting, but it’s more like a horror movie in its structure. Also it doesn’t have enough epic landscapes and, despite nearly all of the characters dying, it isn’t depressing enough to be a Western.

It delivers more on the aliens. Sometimes they even afford the CGI to have multiple aliens in shot at once! The aliens have come to earth to steal our uranium. Not to use it as a fuel source – they’re just addicted to it.

The best line in this movie comes after the scientist has declared uranium more valuable than diamonds, thus ensuring the shifty characters try to run off with it. He then says in exasperation that there isn’t yet an established market for uranium.

Alien Western is more competent a film than I expected, but it’s still a made-for-TV movie and it doesn’t have anything special to recommend it. I guess unless you really like James Marsters. I have never seen Buffy, so I’m Marsters-ambivalent.

Cutthroat Island

This, apparently, was the movie that killed pirate movies (at least till Captain Jack Sparrow came along). It cost a lot to make, and made hardly any of it back.

The beautiful thing about the movie is that you can see exactly where all the money went. It went into crafting a lot of very detailed sets (including full-scale, working ships) … and then blowing them up.

Okay, they only blow up one of the ships. And it’s a thing of beauty – all the splintered wood raining down, the black billowing smoke. It’s always really satisfying to watch an action movie with real explosions. CGI just isn’t the same.

Other satisfying things include watching Geena Davis kick people in the head. She seems like she’s really enjoying it, too. She gets to rescue her love interest, Shaw, a lot (after she buys him), and the movie doesn’t seem too concerned about whether or not that ‘emasculates’ him. I guess because he’s positioned more as a charming thief than any kind of action hero. I also like that Morgan got to be sexy in a way that didn’t require her being prettied up.

L made an interesting comment which was that he felt like for the first two-thirds of the film, the POV would keep slipping whenever Shaw, the love interest, was on-screen. And he’d end up being the identification character in those scenes. But, in the last third, Morgan (Geena Davis’s character) was consistently the one we were meant to identify with. And he wondered if that was intentional or not.

I didn’t especially notice, but I’m probably inclined to latch strongly to my action heroines’ perspectives. You have to be pretty egregious to break that.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

This movie is about how boys have to learn courage and girls have to learn to appreciate boys.

It’s also about how if you beat something up and then treat it kindly, it will follow you forever.

Okay, the ‘it’, in this case, is an ant. And it doesn’t matter that they start by beating it up, because the experience teaches the snotty kid to have empathy for other creatures, and he’s totally sad when the ant sacrifices itself to save them.

I feel like I am being mean but if I’m forced to watch family movies what do you expect? At least it features real teenagers. I think they still existed in the eighties.

Haywire

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies with tags , on October 7, 2012 by Cara Marie

Yesterday I finally watched Haywire. (Because it is my duty to watch all action movies with female leads, or something.) I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a great movie.

I thought it suffered in the editing, and there were some key sequences I had trouble following. The whole ‘Barcelona’ sequence, for example. This happens towards the start of the movie, and we’ve only met two of the characters at this point. It crosscuts between three different scenes, happening at three different times, and also has the confusion of switching between black and white, and colour. For reasons I never picked up on.

And in retrospect, it seems like something was meant to have happened in Barcelona that made Mallory (our heroine) suspicious of her employers. But whatever it was, I missed it.

On the other hand, all the action scenes were easy to follow. They weren’t always as fluid as they could have been, but I could say that about the whole film. Plus I am so used to watching Muay Thai movies, that MMA is actually a nice change! Lots more grappling, choking people with your leg, that sort of thing. Gina Carano is great in the fight scenes (if not so great when she has to do dialogue). And it’s nice to have a female action lead who isn’t incredibly skinny.

It’s a movie that could have been better … but I’ve watched far worse in the name of good fight scenes. (I’m looking at you, The Protector.)