If there's any movie to exemplify the honor and selflessness of the Shaolin monks it would be Shaolin Temple Strikes Back. In this epic, monk Cie Ling starts off as a humble warrior whose job it is to protect an 11 yr old princess from the Manchu horde. When the Manchus kill her father and slaughter his kingdom, they attempt to kidnap her in order to force her hand into marriage with a Manchu king. Cie Ling is a loyal retainer to his whiny princess and even goes so far as t o join the Shaolin Temple when they seek refuge there and she commands him to do so.
The Manchurian horde is led by a master of kung fu who goes by the name Wang Ye (Chen Shan). Wang Ye poses as a simple spice merchant in order to get intel on the princess's whereabouts and is good friends with Shaolin's renegade drunken monk -- himself a skillful martial arts master. When Wang Ye suspects that the princess is being held by Shaolin, the polite friendship between he and the drunken monk turns violent and it soon turns into an all out war pitting the Shaolin monks against the Manchu invaders.
While Cie Ling is behind the temple walls, he learns their martial arts, even the deadly bo staff techniques of the drunken monk himself. Already a dangerous fighter, Cie Ling becomes even stronger and when the Manchus finally break the truce by killing innocent monks, he is ready to fight alongside his brothers to protect the princess.
Hosting one of the most badass kung fu bosses in a movie -- Wang Ye is the epitome of stylish evil, wearing silk robes, sleeping with refined women and clean to a fault. The only thing more impressive than his appearance is his dangerous Kung Fu fighting. Played by my favorite kung fu actor Chen Shan, the man is a spectacle to watch in this movie. I will promise you that if you have never heard of him before seeing this, you will become a fan immediately after.
One of of the most notable things in Shaolin Temple Strikes Back is the use of the legendary one finger strike which is depicted in the very beginning by a monk standing inverted with his feet supported by a wall balancing only on his two pointing fingers. This strike is so precise that it can be used to burrow a hole through flesh, damaging your vitals and instantly killing you. The kung fu in Shaolin Temple Strikes Back is probably the best that I have seen and I have seen plenty. The movie has just about everything for the kung fu fanboi; you have a drunken monk, you have staffs, swords, bare knuckle boxing, you name it and Shaolin Temple Strikes Back has it.
If you're going to start off a newcomer to kung fu theater, this is the movie to do it with. Fighting femmes, lordly bad guys, brave heroes, self sacrifice... it's all here folks. Shaolin Temple Strikes Back is one of my favorite movie in the genre. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Chen Shan fight on film, that is if you haven't seen other great movies by him such as Shaolin versus Lama or Wutang versus Ninja then this movie will make you want to see more of him. Chen Shan has a tae kwon do background unlike most of the other actors, so you get a variety of kicks that you will not see anywhere else.
So go and purchase Shaolin Temple Strikes Back back right now if you don't already have it in your collection. It is a guaranteed must-see; while the dubbing leaves room for improvement at times, the action has no equal and the story is great. If that isn't enough, then pick it up to witness the legendary one finger strike in action!
Rushed, soulless and harboring some of the worst acting I've seen in an adaptation, M.Knight Shyamalan's The Last Airbender will probably become the blueprint for future Directors as to what not to do when making a movie. Leaving the theater my friend described what he had seen as a "highlight reel of all the cool things from the first season of Avatar The Last Airbender." When the credits went up after the final scene, people were groaning, two guys clapped loudly hoping that the applause would catch on (it didn't) and the obvious fans of the show scurried out hurriedly whispering thoughts of disappointment and wearing expressions of being letdown.
It has been a long road to the launching of this movie, as a non-fan I sat on the sidelines observing the build-up and the hope that M.Knight would knock this one out of the park. Controversy over the race of the main characters plagued it from the beginning but the confidence of the Director reassured people that it would do justice to their beloved show. As a movie watcher I was appalled by the acting of Jackson Rathbone as Sokka, the kid managed to channel both Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker and Ben Affleck's... hell anything Ben Affleck has done, all in one character. Channing Tatum would rival Robin Williams in animation compared to this guy. I think the term is wooden, but in this case I will say he was iron, an emotionless waste of screen time and a laughably distracting reminder of Anakin from Attack of The Clones.
While Sokka was making me wonder whether or not he was trying to singlehandedly ruin the movie, I found Aang (Noah Ringer) to be an extremely likeable kid. Having him being the focus was not a bad thing at all as his martial arts katas were impressive, his acting was tolerable and his emotions were played out well upon his young face. Katara (Nicola Peltz) was a little better than Sokka (not saying much) and we all know that Dev Patel (Prince Zuko) can act after kicking ass in Slumdog Millionaire. These main players are who we stare at throughout the movie and the terrible dialogue they were given did not help things as they traded off lines with little care for authenticity.
The pacing was rushed, and I haven't even watched the series to make this judgement. By the time the movie ended the only people I gave a crap about was Prince Zuko and Aang. There was no background given on the weird flying bison that Aang rode, his flying monkey or well damn even his friends. The people who were supposedly downtrodden by the fire nation did not evoke any emotion or care from me and the might and threatening power of fire did not come off as convincing as I thought it should. I hate to draw comparisons but the sheer scale of this movie gave me flashbacks to Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings. In that movie you felt the impending doom of The Eye, you worried for Middle Earth and you gave a damn about the main players. The Last Air Bender could have used some lessons from that trilogy to being about some sort of ownership of the characters from the audience.
This movie felt as if it was a homage to the series assuming that you already knew what everyone had going on, already know what will happen and already like individual players. It rushed through the tale of Aang and ended without much explanation, leaving me with questions and wondering if it stunk because I didn't view the source material. My questions to my friend were of the nature of "was Sokka that wooden in the cartoon? Cause if he was this guy needs an Oscar", I also had to ask about the flying monkey and bison. There was even a 10 minute romance arc, that's right folks boy meets girl and they fall in love without explaining how and why -- just here they love one another. The Last Airbender should really have been three movies, split up realistically to allow for character development, strong pacing and a more dynamic display of what Aang could do.
Protesters of the movie who will boycott it due to the previews looking like evil Desi people being mean to a bunch of white heroes... well that's not too far off of what I saw but there are people of color scattered throughout the nations (thanks for throwing us a bone M.Knight). While your boycott will prevent you from seeing it anyway, let me assure you are not missing anything worthwhile so clutch your Nickelodeon Avatar Blu-Rays closely and don't you sweat. I am not sure whether to feel sorry for Mr. Shyamalan or chalk it up to the fact that maybe he just isn't all that great. It was a visually beautiful movie for what it's worth, but it lacked a soul and that my friends is why it fails.
Well it had all the makings of a special movie: cool looking hero, sexy side-kick, machine guns strapped to a horse and John Malkovich. It had the Western flair, the civil war and Ulysses S. Grant yet it somehow forgot that movies need to be interesting in order to work. Jonah Hex was so bland that words cannot describe how disinterested I was throughout the entire movie. Based on a DC comic book which I am very unfamiliar with, I will go on the assumption that fans of the graphic novel will have a different level of appreciation for it than I did, that level of course being none.
You can go ahead and skip this one being that for all the efforts of John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull and Brolin's Jonah Hex, the movie has absolutely no crescendo. Megan Fox, who probably thought this would be a good movie to gain back some of her fans (those who joined the anti-Fox bandwagon) must be quite frustrated at her agent. While people will go on about her accent, her acting and her looks, I did not find her to be bad at all as Lilah, quite the opposite really -- femme sidekicks of Western badasses are notoriously glorified arm candy. See not much to expect, but Megan shot guys, sexied it up (despite hard censorship) and delivered the cheesy lines as well as she could. I noticed you Megan, no worries, heres hoping you land a good movie one of these days (raises Tanqueray glass)...
Full Review available at: http://spicymoviedogs.com/1651/jonah-hex.html
SpicyMovieDogs.com says this 2010 version lacks character.
I do not know what is worse about this new Clash of Titans, the laziness in them not studying Greek mythology, or the laziness in keeping things relevant to the time period or mythos. Actually I know exactly what it is, it's the absolute waste of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, whose talents and characters was the only shining light in a dark movie of shallow characters, shoddy CGI and light speed pacing.
It seems that people have forgotten the Greek mythology whose influence has made many a movie and tale as lovable as the original Clash of The Titans. Call me a nerd for being a tad too much into this but my annoyance started when the movie begins with a conveniently hacked up and incorrect story version of the Gods' win over the Titans to rule earth. I do understand the abstract nature of this movie and the reality that this particular Perseus (Sam Worthington) was not the one of the ancient poems. But something about the matter-of-fact nature of the narration rubbed me the wrong way.
The armor and clothing is dark or black, there are no colors. The people or relevant armor that rang true of ancient Greece is not here. What we get instead is the X-Men treatment, black on everything and a mixture of armor and architecture of cultures that come about hundreds of years after the time of the Gods. Maybe Zeus wished in some steel from medieval Europe and haircuts from the modern day Armed Forces? He is all-powerful after-all, let's say he did, just so I can shut up about it.
Aww screw it, I can't ignore these things! Seeing Zeus (Liam Neeson) walk away from his throne in a type of mock plate mail armor, reminded me of his role as Gawain in Excalibur. Why was he dressed like a medieval knight in a movie about ancient Greece I wondered? This is not to say that the other Gods were much better off either, Apollo in golden standard was also in a form of scale mail and so was Poseidon (Danny Huston) who is replaced in relevance with the new owner of the Kraken, Hades (Ralph Fiennes). How does this make sense that an obvious water creature is owned by the king of the Underworld? Who cares right!?
Perseus, again in ancient Greece sporting a buzz cut reminiscent of a Marine or a Roman Legionnaire was only second in lack of relevance to him actually being played by Sam Worthington. Sorry folks, Jake Sully did not show up to play this time. Gone is the likeable kid from the original who grows in front of our eyes from a boy gifted by the gods to champion them, into a man who is bold and clever enough to take on the gorgon Medusa and topple the champion of Poseidon. No we get a Perseus who is simply not in the right time period, mindset or character to either be believable or formidable. When Io (Gemma Arterton) basically takes his hand and teaches him how to kill Medusa (Natalia Vodionova) it summed his character up very well. This is not the brave Perseus of the original, not by a long shot.
Ralph Fiennes as the bent and ultra dark Hades was a great character, his low, gritty voice and dramatic entrances made him extremely scary. The satyr-like Calibos (Jason Fleming) who chased Perseus and made his life hell in the original is reinvented in this as a jilted lover, whose body has been turned into some sort of demon, albeit not a satyr. Io is the replacement for the lovely goddess Athena, whose wit and metallic owl of the original were mainstays in our memory of its charm. Io is beautiful but she is no Athena, and thanks to the pacing which made this 2 hour movie seem like 30 minutes, you get no true feeling of familiarity with her or the other beauty in the movie, the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos).
I really wanted Clash of The Titans to be great, and based on the high votes I see on the web, it's apparent that super fast pacing and lack of character development is positive right now. Maybe I am too old school and like to learn the personalities, histories etc. of my heroes but what can I say? For me the inaccuracies, pacing and shallow nature of this 2010 Clash of The Titans makes for a bad movie -- which by the way is another to take full advantage of the 3D fad going on since Avatar. This makes me wonder about Sam Worthington and his range, or lack thereof, and why Liam Neeson thought that it was a good movie to be a part of. The trailers had me salivating, especially at the Kraken, yet upon seeing it at the end, I was already done with the movie.
Of all the characters and wasted talent, I must say that chief soldier Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) was my favorite. His portrayal of a grizzled, old wartime soldier was well done. Despite the pacing issues, we got enough of his character and history to go from hating him to respecting, then finally liking him.
If you own the original Clash of The Titans and you bemoan the campy, cheesy humor or the extremely dated special effects. You will find yourself forgetting its faults in lieu of its character; because for all the 3D effects, expensive CGI and acting talent, this 2010 version lacks character and I am sorry but no amount of 3D debris flying in my face can make that a good movie for me.
The people are normal and there are mundane things in effect, cars are cars, they don't fly. There is a barbecue, an old typewriter and men wear suits and ties like they do now -- in my time. Yet there are stacked advertisements digitally displaying things on the side of high-rises, people getting artificial hearts, livers, kidneys etc. is the norm. One can cybernetically enhance the ears for hearing, or the eyes for seeing or the knees for running. All you have to do is consult the Union and it's new "Antiforg Payment Plan" -- you get to prolong your life, as long as you can keep paying your bill. Miss a payment and you are given a window of up to 3 months to get even. Make it past 96 days and you are flagged for repossession, at this point you had better pray that Remy (Jude Law) or Jake (Forest Whitaker) are not sent after you.
Repo Men is a dark sci-fi thriller about a gifted Repo Man who goes from being a top hunter to being hunted. It is a psychological mind freak thrown into a neo-futuristic setting with decorations of blood, guts and gore to keep you uncomfortable throughout the entire ordeal. It paces well, and the acting talents of Jude Law and Forest Whitaker keep you interested. It is disgusting, Repo Men reach into freshly cut wounds in order to extract mechanical livers, kidneys, hearts, and even an esophagus. It is sexy, Beth (Alice Braga) is fire in the arms of Remy, she's a tough beauty, she has a gorgeous smile and the chemistry between the two makes you root for them. It is unpredictable, just when you think you have it figured out as another cliché whatever, it flips a switch and leaves you wondering at what point did things change from fantasy to reality -- or vice versa. Repo Men is a Sci Fi masterpiece.
Plot Summary of Repo Men
When childhood friends turned military brothers for life Remy and Jake take to repoing, it becomes a lifestyle that they have mastered. A job is just a job is the motto they parrot as they casually taze and slice open overdue organ holders to turn in to the Union -- headed by Frank (Live Schreiber) for payment via "pink slips". Remy's wife has a hard time dealing with the dangers and immorality of his job and threatens to leave if he doesn't take a job in sales. This puts him in a place of indecision as he ponders on giving up a career that he has grown to love alongside his friend. When Remy decides to take on one last job before changing positions to save his marriage, he is injured badly and awakes to an artificial heart beating inside his chest. Knowing that he is now under the same harsh law that he had exacted on hundreds of other people, he tries to return to repo and realizes that he has lost his nerve. In a fight against time, Remy is forced to make a decision on his life, can he ever cut someone open again, or can he manage to successfully run and hide from the Union.
There is a moment in the film where Remy goes in to collect an expired heart from T-Bone (RZA). T-Bone is a recording artist that Remy has been a fan of for years. He is polite and welcomes Remy into his studio as he works on what he assumes will be his final track. Surrendering to the inevitable, T-Bone asks Remy if he could finish the song and even asks him to assist in the recording. The two sit and talk like old friends until the song is finished and placed on a thumb drive to which T-Bone hands it to Remy. He then asks which position would be best for him to be in when Remy takes his heart. It is a surreal take on the separation of business from emotion with these men. For me it was one of the better back and forths in the entire movie.
I was pleasantly surprised by Repo Men, the twists and turns, the Sci-Fi element and the love that comes about between Remy and Beth. It's a movie that will no doubt catch many of you off guard with it's plot and director Miguel Sapochnik knocked it out of the park. Were I to change anything outside of the awesome soundtrack and everything that I have been propping in this review, it would be the cinematography. While I can appreciate the difficulty in conveying a futuristic landscape in a familiar urban setting, it was not as convincing as I would have hoped it to be. Still this is crumbs, mere pebbles of gripe for an outstanding movie. Repo Men is spicy, it is hot, and you need to check it out as soon as you can.