My Many MiniReviews
This is my 1st attempt reviewing movies on this forum. I may get long-winded but I'm not the technician some of you folks are. My apologies. I warn you: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. However, nothing, I think, in the way of divulging important details that would ruin the experience of films I think one would enjoy. If I think the movie is bad, I'll probably ruin it so as to save you time and money. My favor to you.
TEEN BOXER (1997)
Here's the opening paragraph on the back of the DVD case: Touted on TMZ.com as "just short of incestuous", Teen Boxer is the film that launched the fast-rising career of Chyler Leigh(Dr.Lexi Grey on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Not Another Teen Movie) who is romantically cast opposite her own real-life brother, Christopher Khayman Lee(Kickboxing Academy).
Number of romantic kisses: 3 (GACK!!!!!!!)
Steven Bauer(Manny of "Scarface") is also in this, not that it helps.
This movie is soooooooo bad I can't think of a punchline(except for that pun there).
The best thing about this movie is the instructor for the evil MA school named Fatal Combat. His name is Reeve Tarbek and he's portrayed by Tony Pacheco. He is mean and hammy. His opening tirade to his students(one of which looks like Sammy Hagar's cousin) is a lament of how they'll never experience the pleasure of gunning down unarmed civilians with an M-60. His favorite form of teaching is urging his students to sucker-punch their opponents as he goes through the school and sucker-punches them. Here's some of his best lines:
"A cheap shot is better than a rabies shot."
"Hit the nards!"(even if it's a girl)
"Gibler, you suck! You got beat by a fatty beef burger!"
When facing the instructor of the good MA school, a woman, his students encourage him:
"Excellent, Captain, I've always wanted to see you sucker-punch a chick."
"Yeah, show us how it's done."
Half way through the bout there's this gem: "It kind of looks like she's kicking your butt......sir."
There's sooooooo much more bad and wrong with this movie but, to me, this was the best of the worst.
I would swear I already had this movie. I know I've seen it before and on more than 1 occasion. Does this go by another title? I love Sonny Chiba. So, this is all I will say:
Chiba as a rapist? Not cool.
Chiba chopping the tops off of 4 Coke bottles? Cool.
Chiba killing a mad bull barehanded? Cool.
Chiba drunkenly busting a gangster's forehead open? Cool.
Chiba helping out the wife and son of the dead gangster? Cool.
Chiba killing a man with a flying sidekick to the head? Cool.
Chiba jamming the end of a staff in a man's mouth and out the back of his skull? Cool.
My only real qualm with this movie is that it starts out sooooooo good and has a rather anti-climatic ending.
TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (2007)
This is a Thai western/20's or 30's period piece.
The palette of the movie is enhanced almost as if it was filmed in B&W and then technically colored. There is an interesting blend of Thai/western period dress & styles. It has beautiful locales and awesomely painted soundstage backdrops. It is clean and stark with vibrant color and contrast. Filming and credits are patterned after old westerns almost like from the silent movie era. The opening gunfight holds a unique and deliberate execution.........by ricochet. Here's what to expect:
Hammy acting! CGI blood splatters! Really bad mustaches!
An interesting take on the 'blood brother' ritual!
A cowboy midget......I mean dwarf.......I mean little person!
Thai cowboy songs! A tinny cowboy music background soundtrack!
Cowboys with machine guns!...........And LAWs!
Unrequited love finally..........requited!
Time-lapse photography! Poetic narrations! Multiple suicide attempts!
A good young man sent down the wrong path by a desire for revenge!
Tobacco spit the color of blood used as foreshadowing!
Betrayal! Double betrayal!! Triple betrayal!!! Evil laughter!!!!
An arranged marriage! A wedding! An awful wedding band!
A shootout! A duel! An ironic death! Another ironic death!
This movie was soooooo hammy and cheesy I wanted a sandwich when it was over. But it is unique and I picked it up on the cheap so I reckon I'll hang on to it. Might watch it the next time I'm on some serious medication or have a hankering for something really.......well, you can supply your own adjective.
There would've been more but my girls got sick with a stomach bug and I couldn't watch any others. Maybe they saw some of one of these and I didn't notice. Look: Avoid the first movie at all cost(I hope I'll be able to trade it off). Get the Chiba!!!! As for the last, if you just have to see it(and I mean HAVE TO) maybe you'll stumble across it in your moseying for movies sometime.
(And if my many mini-reviews doesn't sit well with you all, I'll not do anymore multiples like this. Thanks for indulging me.)
This past weekend the fare was:
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE (2010)
If you love animation, you should get this. The movie is based off the graphic comic book "Superman/Batman: Supergirl". It adheres pretty closely to it. The animators even tried to incorporate elements of Michael Turner's artistic style and fairly succeeded, I thought. There are some great battles in this especially on Wonder Woman's part as she is a Amazon warrior princess and so uses some vague martial arts styles while fighting. My only gripe with this movie was that the facial features of Supes and Bats had a bit of a feminine quality to them. Nothing majorly distracting but sometimes when looking at them I was, like, "Dude....!"
MAXIMUM CAGE FIGHTING (2007)
Stars Jason Field, Chris Torres, Jun Chong, with appearance by Renzo Gracie
This movie should've been titled MINIMUM CAGE FIGHTING.
Some of the best acting in this movie is performed by the boards broken in a kid's testing class. The fights are totally lackluster as are the training sessions. They lack any strength or speed. They're just flat out wimpy. The only truly unique thing of note is that during the final and only cage fight, while the combatants are duking it out, the trainers are having a row themselves. I couldn't decide which was lamer.
2 things of note:
When true men cry, they wipe their faces with their shirttails.
The best line is a voice of reason from the Jun to Jason when facing armed thugs: "There's too many guns!"
Save your $. DO NOT BUY THIS.
SHAOLIN WOODEN MEN
This is also titled as 'Young Tiger's Revenge'. The cover states it is the original uncut version. This version was put out int 2000 by Beverly Wilshire Filmworks. English dubbed/no subs. Running time: 1:38. The copy of the film they used was scratchy and dirty sometimes and the editing was a little jumpy in places but otherwise pretty good. I don't remember the original release date of this film. Stars Jackie Chan, King Kang, Long Chin. (Oh, I just got that. That's why I love Chinese names. Imagine if you could take some of them literally.)
I like this movie and have not seen it in years. On the "Art of Fighting" (I think it was), there was a clip of Jackie Chan fighting 5 monks 1 on 1 in a candlelit chamber with each monk using a different animal style that was said to be a scene from this film. But any version I've ever had did not contain this scene. WAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOO!!!! This one has it. It's the opening scene prior to the title and credits and runs a little over 7 minutes. The animals styles presented were dragon, snake, tiger, leopard, and crane.
Points of interest:
Yuen Biao plays a gang member at a cafe that JC runs into after leaving the monastery. He also doubles 1 of the villain's lieutenants in the final fight.
The villain initially has long hair which he puts up in a horrible comb-over or comb-forward/bun after escaping the monastery. And his name is Fok Yu. (I mean, come on.)
Chan's character is mute throughout the film till the end. He is believed to be born mute. They refer to him as dumb which is another adjective for mute and this goes to make for some of the best lines in the English dub, at least to me if you take the word as meaning stupid: "Shaolin's fate will depend on our dumb friend." and "So you're not dumb?" "I'm not dumb, I just pretended."
But the best line goes to the villain: Lieutenant: "We've brought a present for you." Victim: "A present?" Villain: "I've brought the gift of death." (I love that.)
I won't spoil the ending of the final fight if you've never seen this or not watched it in a while. It's both comical and cool at the same time. It's worth a re-visit. I hadn't seen it in years and it was like watching it for the 1st time again. Chan's great to behold. The training sequences are wonderful and the fights are tight with very few slow spots. The neat thing about this is that Chan is so young and 90 percent of his acting in this is physical expression because his character is mute and, surprisingly, he doesn't over play it. If you don't have this.....GET IT!
The past weekend I pulled a quadruple. Here goes........
CHAI LAI ANGELS: Dangerous Flowers (2009)
What you have is 5 ladies (3 pretty/2 meh) with flowery code-names; the guy who played Jaa's cousin in "Ong Bak" as their boss who wears a variety of bad wigs whenever he shows up (3x's); the requisite transvestite who suffers debilitating injuries throughout the movie; and a flamboyantly stylish gangster who is not gay.......he just dresses like it.
This starts with an opening fight on an airplane complete with 3 Stooges sound f/x.
Later there is a poorly contrived fight at a spa so that the ladies are wearing towels.
A night raid on their headquarters leads to gratuitous swimming and fights in wet nightgowns to culminate in being caught in a trap straight out of a 60's Batman TV episode.One lady hates being groped, so the others grope her and she provides the means of escape.
Then there's the beach and bikinis scenario with a scene that's a blatant rip-off of the opening from the comedy "Top Secret" in which holes are left in the sand from their breasts.
I won't even discuss the stupid ending of this stupid movie except to say that it's............stupid.
The only thing anyone may care about is that the lead Angel is the same girl from "Tom Yum Goong". There's no denying her beauty and she's fun to watch but that's it. The special features contains 2 music videos of dance tracks featuring the ladies with the catchy refrain "Chai Lai". I couldn't get it out of my head but fortunately it was late and I went straight to bed. AVOID THIS!!!!!!!!!! (Unless.........well you know why.)
MILLENNIUM DRAGON (2000)
Not sure the release year is correct, it may just be for the DVD release.
Directed by Philip Ko. Stars Yuen Biao (billed as Yuen Bill), Siu-Hou Chin (a poor man's Sammo Hung and I do mean poor). This is billed as a cross between James Bond and Mission: Impossible (NOT!). English Subs in white lettering making them hard to read with poor grammar and translation in places. DVD copy is from a VHS with tracking issues. The sound is often muffled and/or muted.
It's a convoluted plot that has something to do with Chinese antiques and a mystical pearl but predominantly takes place in Russia. There are scenes in public places but they are always deserted of people. People who've never met know each other via other characters so as to introduce other necessary characters. This involves Mongolians, Chinese, Russians, and South Koreans.
The Action (oh, good grief, the action): Some fights are shot from oblique angles with quick cuts. Some are overly undercranked.......severely. Ching predominately handles the fights unfortunately. Yuen Biao spends the movie (what little he's in of it) in a white parka and red hunting cap. He has 2 fights (if you'd call them that and I don't) in which he throws a total of 3 kicks and 2 punches and performs 0 acrobatics. None. Though he's involved in 1 major gun battle, he seems to prefer to shoot at people than fight them. In truth, though his name is on the cover and he's given star billing, he only gets about 15-20 minutes screen time and is actually a minor character in the movie. THIS IS NOT A YUEN BIAO MOVIE!!!!!
I watched this movie 10 years ago and thought maybe I didn't remember it very well and decided to give it another look. There won't be a third. AVOID THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KEBAB CONNECTION (?)
It's a German film. It received the Official Selection stamp of both the Berlin and Copenhagen Film Festivals.
A young, Turkish man named Ibo makes a commercial for his uncle's kebab business that contains kung fu and it draws customers to his uncle's business which is in a rivalry with a Greek restaurant.
Best line is from his uncle: "Soon the Greek guy will be closing down and herding gay goats on Lesbos!" Then he steps outside to shout as he points at all his patrons: "You see that, Clitoris? Uh,....Kirianis?"
Ibo hopes to direct Germany's first kung fu movie. It never happens. He's gotten his German girlfriend pregnant and the film is really about his maturing to take on the responsibility of becoming a father. This is predominately a comedy and while it has some funny moments, it never produces any belly laughs. Unfortunately the promise of kung fu never pans out though there are moments that would lead one to think that there will be some good action at the end. There's action but it's short-lived and wire-worky and meant to be funny.
One redeeming thing is a scene where Ibo has gone over to his uncle's rival whose daughter has the hots for him. As he sticks a cigarette into his mouth, she dips her finger in a glass of ouzo, touches it to a candle, and then lights his smoke with her flaming finger. That's the sexiest cigarette-lighting scene I've ever seen.
It's worth a rental but it's going in my trade pile.
SNAKE & CRANE ARTS OF SHAOLIN
Stars Jackie Chan who also choreographs and Nora Miao.
Mandarin and English dubs with a variety of subs.
The opening credits have Chan showcasing an excellent spear form and then segueing into using a tonfa and knife against 2 spearmen.
The premise is that Chan has the book of the S & C arts. Fighters and clans (some of whom he befriends) want it while he searches for a man with a shoulder scar. Of course, it turns out to be Mr. Chien, leader of the Black Dragon clan.
The opening Chan fight: Approached by the 3 Ting brothers. On learning he's heard of them, there is this exchange.
Ting Bro.: "Brother, it seems like we're famous." Chan: "You're not famous. You're simply well known." Ting Bro.: "There's a difference?" Chan: "Of course there is. You're not famous at all. You're notorious. You're thugs."
Then Chan stomps their collective butts.
Chan has a # of great English dubbed lines.
"I have this bad habit. I like to fight people who fight well."
"I am quite smart, but still, not nice. The nice die young because they're not smart."
"Money's a nuisance. And women are as well. I never bother with either."
"Mr. Wong, don't be cruel. Cruel people die young. What's more, I'm a lucky guy. I'll outlive you."
Nora Miao gets to show her stuff even using a particularly deadly handkerchief.
The big throw-down has Chan fighting Chien with an interlude in which he fights 3 mystery spearmen. There are references in the movie to a dragon spear and based on Chan's performance in the opening credits, you'd think it would play a role in the end but it never materializes.
The movie is rife with fights though it lags a bit towards the end until the final showdown. Chan's choreography is fantastic. The fights are very intricate and complex. And his acrobatic skills are nothing to sneer at. He even runs up a stack of wine pots during a restaurant fight. It happens so quickly as to appear effortless. The great thing about this is that while Chan switches back and forth between the Snake and Crane styles, he also performs them simultaneously. (I remember once while studying Northern Shaollin kung fu that my sifu had us experiment similarly with Tiger and Crane styles while doing a basic form. Most switched back and forth but I assumed a style for each hand. It was mind-blowing!) This is some of Chan's early stuff from when he's proven he's a box office draw and given free rein from the studio to do his thing (or thang, if you will). He does not disappoint. If you don't have this already........GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KUNG FU MASTER (2010)
Stars: Yuen Biao, Bryan Leung, Ji Chunhua, and Leung Kar Yan (at least I think it's him). Mandarin and English dubs with English subs. Running time ---- 95 mins.
Warning: Some spoilers may appear.
Yuen Biao plays Tan Zong, a Buddhist monk of great repute in martial arts. How great? His chi gung makes him impervious to blades. He is called to the Grand Commandant (LKY) to become the drill instructor for his troops. This is a false pretense as the GC wants to destroy the Shaolin's monastery.
Zong arrives in town with his dimwitted, fat pupil and is immediately lured to a section that is a ghost town. There his pupil is kidnapped and he is attacked by all manner of assorted assassin clans. (There's an assassin using a coffin; a deadly seductress; assassins using clawed gloves; a musician with a spear-wielding student; an assassin clan using bladed umbrellas; and black potato sack masked assassins.) This is all in the 1st half hour.
From there he goes to rescue his pupil from the last group of assassins and their green demon masked leader.
Then on arriving at the GC's, there's a pile of benches in the courtyard. 60 soldiers (I counted) pick them up and then attack him in a variety of formations. In a 2nd courtyard he must cross a catwalk constructed of benches. Then he has to cross a hallway the walls of which are lined with skulls from which spears shoot out. Finally in a 3rd courtyard he meets the GC. They engage in foot fu so that Zong can prevent him from stepping on an ant. He then graciously refuses a challenge to duel with the GC and instead does so with General Renza in an armory. (I thought this might become reminiscent of the Yoeh/Ziyi duel in CT/HD but it did not.) After passing all the tests he is then jailed for politely refusing the position to train the GC's troops which are sent under Gen. Renza's command to assault the monastery.
A handful of monks escape and go to the GC's palace and rescue Zong. They then face innumerable soldiers but mow them down (literally).They in turn assault the palace which leads to another confrontation with Gen. Renza and finally a big fight between Zong and the GC.
I was impressed with the amount of action in this movie. I'm not kidding when I say it was nonstop. Let me put it this way: there's more fighting than there is talking and that's no lie. Having said that let me qualify it with this..........there's a good deal of wire work (actually there's a great deal of it). This picture is really in the wuxia vein. I'd compare it to Jet Li's OUTIC series but the story's not as good. It's great to see Biao in action again but it is painfully obvious that he's being doubled for a good portion of his fights though it is difficult to tell sometimes just when. Still, there's a lot of good kung fu on display here. If they make a 2nd one...........I'd watch it. (And I'm not a big fan of wuxia stuff.) It's definitely better than some of his films such as "Deadful Melody" and "The Peacock King" and it absolutely smokes "Millennium Dragon". If it's not something you care to purchase, it's surely worth a rental.
This weekend the viewings were:
BALLISTIC KISS (1998)
Stars: Donnie Yen, Annie Wu, Simon Liu, Yu Wing Kwong, Vincent Kok
Prod. & Dir.: Donnie Yen Original story by Bey Logan Running time: 90 mins.
Donnie is Cat, an assassin with a crush on Carrie, a girl who lives in the apartment building across from his and is also a cop assigned to the task force trying to catch him.
While on a hit mission, Cat runs into a former partner, Wesley, who is working a security detail. They had both once been cops in New York but Wesley double-crossed Cat who wound up doing a 6 yr. stint in prison. Cat kills him or so he thinks. He discovers differently when on another hit mission as he sees Wesley with Carrie as they are apparently old friends. In another botched attempt to kill Wesley, Cat winds up kidnapping Carrie and uses her as bait to lure Wesley out. After a botched exchange that turns into a hit on Cat and Carrie (at a porn theater no less), Cat is wounded. They escape and bond. Another assassin later arrives at Cat's apartment and a ridiculously close range shootout ensues.Finally, Carrie's roommate is kidnapped by Wesley as bait to lure Cat and Carrie to him. Cat goes alone to engage in yet another ludicrously close range shootout that leads to a rather anti-climatic ending.
The movie is rife with shootouts and all contain the thinnest veneer of cover or no cover at all to hide behind. Yen cohort, Michael Woods, makes a brief appearance and has an even briefer fight and it's not even with Yen. There are really only 2 fight scenes: The 1st is at the beginning in which Yen performs a hit on a gang leader at an outdoor club. It's the best but uses a lot of quick cuts, over the top under-cranking, and slo-mo. The 2nd is at the theater and is really interspersed throughout the gun play.
My opinion..........meh. I bought this used and didn't give much for it. I'll keep it but if you're a big Donnie Yen fan you probably won't like this. Unless you're a completionist.
HOUSE OF TRAPS
This is the Shaw Brothers Kung Fu Collection (2008) of the restored and uncut original (1981). Dir.: Chang Cheh
Stars: Lu Feng, Wang Li, Ai Fei, Chin Siu-Hou, Guo Zhui, Zhu Ke, Yu Li
The House of Traps is a building housing stolen items of importance belonging to the Emperor.
There's lots of intrigue in a tale of political unrest. The plot is detailed and moves along swiftly. The fighting is detailed but does not move along swiftly. The fights are few and interspersed. The last 20 mins. has the best fighting with some unique weaponry (especially those used by a band known as the Rat Brothers). Lu Feng (known as the Butterfly) and Guo Zhui (known as the Black Fox) are really the more formidable fighters in the movie although one of the villains is pretty good with a pair of hooking swords.
Alas, the House of Traps doesn't have very many traps and is actually easily broken into. Still, it's an interesting movie and definitely a keeper if only to fast-forward to the fights (many of which are short but very sweet).
BANGKOK ADRENALINE (2009)
Stars: Daniel O'Neil, Gwion Jacob Miles Running time: 87 mins.
There's already a thread for this film with a lot of love and disappointment. Make no mistake......the script is awful and the acting is even worse. The action..........shows promise (IMPO).
Much of the disappointment resides in the fact that there is obvious delay on the parts of the stuntmen as they wait their turn to get hit and that much of the action doesn't translate the proper impact. I've watched the movie twice, the 2nd time specifically going to the fight scenes and viewing them a number of times. I have to say that, yes, their argument has merit as it does occur. But.......it wasn't a constant. And considering some of the fighting feats being displayed, I think it's forgivable. To my knowledge, this is the stars' first outing and overall I thought they showed a lot of promise. I could've done without some of the bebop moves though.
Really my only qualm with Daniel O'Neil is that he looks strangely like Elijah Wood. Freaky. Truthfully, I would've liked to seen Miles showcase some of his stuff a little more. To me, he was the better actor and actually had a screen presence. A sweet surprise was the appearance of Patrick Tang (co-star of "Raging Phoenix"). I love seeing him in action and I think his fights with O'Neil were among the best in this movie.
I would encourage you to get this. It has set a standard for these guys and one I think they will easily surpass in the future.
thanks for those mini reviews, ill actually watch all of kebab connection just to see if the dry humor spins my wheel.
keep those reviews coming...
Thanks. I appreciate that, phoenix_darshan.
Okay. This weekend it was:
AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS (2008)
Stars: Donnie Yen, Kelly Chen, Leon Lai, Guo Xiao Dong, Kou Zhen Hai
Dir./Chor.: Tony Ching Siu-Tung Running Time: 95 mins.
SPOILERS: I will probably ruin this movie so read at your own risk.
Princess Feier (Chen) is left in charge of the Yan army after her father is killed in battle with the Zhao army. Xuehu (Yen) is a general under him and her childhood friend. Her cousin, Hu Ba, desires to be king. He tries to have her assassinated but the attempt fails. She is found and nursed back to health by Duan (Lai), a doctor living in seclusion. She and he fall in love. Finally she returns to her people and decides to abdicate her throne and leave Xuehu in command so that she can return to be with Duan. Hu Ba stages a rebellion and starts a civil war. He also sends assassins to kill her and Duan who becomes wounded. She returns to battle Hu Ba and save her people. Then she returns to Duan to find him dead. (Wah!)
This is an epic romance period piece with some sword battling. There is next to no MA in this except at the end when Yen goes out to fight Hu Ba's rebels alone and it is short-lived. (Pun intended because he.....you know.) Chen does as much if not more fighting than he does throughout the film and it's just simple hack and slash type stuff. Yen gets star billing but he's in maybe a third of this movie.
The big battle scenes had their moments but ultimately fell flat. I was surprised to see that the Zhao army used chariots. I'm curious as to whether that is historically true or not as I don't know. The best scene is when a Zhao charioteer is knocked off his chariot. He sits up in time to be run over by another of his army's chariots. I watched that scene multiple times because......well, it was just cool.
This really isn't a Donnie Yen vehicle and even if you're a completionist of his work, I'd pass on this. Get "Ballistic Kiss" instead. (And that ain't saying much.......or maybe it is.)
DRAGON FIST (1979)
Stars: Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, James Tien, Lin Yin-Ju, Kao Chiang, Yen Siu-Kuan
Chor.: Jackie Chan Dir.: Lo Wei Running time: 76 mins.
I wrote out the plot of this as I watched it but.............I'm not going to fool with all that. It's lengthy and it gets convoluted and that's not what I intend these minireviews to be about.
Suffice it say, Chan's choreography is on display here. It's fast and intricate as is his early signature in constructing fight scenes. It seems throughout the movie Chan is sporting a bruise under his right eye that is vaguely concealed with makeup. (I suspect it's the result of an accidental blow received while training for or filming a fight sequence.) His fights are few and short (until the end) but really, really good. In one he pulls off a really nice split kick in the air.
In the end, Chan fights the boss and his 2 lieutenants. At one point, Chan's character loses his temper and unleashes a pummeling on one lieutenant that is absolute overkill. He then fights the second lieutenant who uses spike-tipped tonfas. This is the longest and most intricate fight of the film. Finally he faces the evil boss. It's a good fight but short and it's all Chan. The evil boss' kung fu.......not so good.
Still, there's plenty of good kung fu throughout the film. It has a good story and good acting IMPO. Chan's acting is subdued and oddly enough his character really isn't the focus of the film. My only qualm with this is that it's one of his films where he has no training sequences. Still, his early stuff is his best and this is definitely one you should have for your collection.
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