The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The Walking Dead
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An apocalyptic samurai, ninja, sci-fi western fantasy with characters that wouldn't look out of place in 'Soul Calibur', 'Mortal Kombat' and various other Japanese RPG videogames, that is how I can best describe this eye popping flick, odd title though.
The main star here is again the ultra cool Tak Sakaguchi, here in a kind of supernatural samurai mode as a mythic character who drags a coffin behind him everywhere he goes (and an odd little girl in your typical Japanese 'The Ring' spooky fashion) as he basically slaughters all who stand before him. His name is 'Grave' and he searches for the ultimate battle...rock on that!
This film is pretty similar to 'Versus' in the location (a forest), it stars Tak as some kind of super hero again and the fact the story is really quite bizarre and makes no real sense, plus it appears to be in a place and time that don't exist. So basically Tak has nicked the coffin from a temple and is taking it to a spot in the forest so it can grant him anything he wants...it seems the coffin can do this. Or does it? a monk is also after Tak and the coffin to stop it being opened and releasing the Goddess of destruction who will kick start an apocalypse...that's not a good thing. The monk is aided by...wait for it...Steven Seagal Jr. yep that's right, or his real name Kentaro Seagal (sounds like a 'Mortal Kombat' character), all of them battle bandits and non human creatures to reach their respective goals.
The film is fast and furious with fights breaking out all over the show and many of them being...well kinda average actually. Most seem too frantic and you can see the hits aren't making contact, also to be honest Tak isn't really a well built guy, he's cool but he doesn't really come across as tough and never really looks like he could really be whipping hordes of bad guys endlessly.
The look of the film is really what sets this apart, all the costumes are a kind of cross between traditional Japanese period wear with 'Mad Max', 'Water World', 'Conan', 'Krull' and many other fantasy type films throw in, it all looks highly stylish. Add to this a complete 'Army of Darkness' approach to the dark humour, camera work, extreme supernatural entities and wickedly evil looking weapons which do also include a kind of samurai 'boomstick'.
Put it this way, the director of this film is Yuji Shimomura and he was the action director for 'Versus' (eh eh...you see, you see I came full circle there) and 'Devil May Cry 3' so I think you can get the gist of what I'm trying to explain here, the film is pretty much an explosive visual videogame. Its probably better than 'Versus' in my personal view as I reeeally didn't follow that a tall, this is easier to follow plus it looks ace. I dunno why but the Japanese are just good at this kind of stuff, had this been a Hollywood flick with the usual overpaid names it would have been trash.
The acting was fine for a low budget martial arts flick, but the plot was missing entirely. I'm all for a lack of realizm resulting in a man being able to block bullets with a sword, but a man just not getting hit by automatic fire at point blank range with no explanation offered is too much. Seemingly set in ancient times, we toss in heat seeking missles, and motorcycles out of the blue.... really just a guy on a bike for one lame stunt out of nowhere. Poor poor fights. Seems they had no budget for extras, because no one ever gets stabbed...or if they do they just never die. No skill, no flash.... just running and stumbling around. Just goofy.
Versus action director, Yuji Shimomura, takes a shot at the head director's seat with Death Trance. The outcome is an entertaining action flick.
The story is pretty flat, which isn't that surprising, but there is some science fiction meat to it, especially near the ending. Other than that, the first hour of this 90 minute picture is all about the action.
The choreography for the fight scenes are very good and the camerawork isn't too bad either. Yes, the action is really over the top, however it is really entertaining. Hand to hand combat, swords, guns, and even sword guns light up this film from beginning to end. Combine all of that with Dir En Grey's soundtrack for a rocking time.
There isn't much to the acting, especially since the characters have no depth, but this should come across as only a minor flaw. Tak Sakaguchi does what he does best. Kick butt. Speaking of kicking butt, it is nice to see some of it being done by women. Yuki Takeuchi, as an angel, and the lovely Yoko Fujita as the Goddess of Destruction is a sight to see.
Death Trance may lack a strong story, but the entertainment factor is still quite high. This is an enjoyable watch for those that like Japanese action.
A Manga/Anime come to life. With a rocking soundtrack, exotic weapons from swords to guns to sword guns and bizarre surreal moments such as a very creepy stop motion doll dream sequence. The martial arts scenes are very well done and are often creative, from the weapons used to incorporating everything including some break dancing. There are some fascinating hints at a wonderful mythology and a very imaginative world, unfortunately the budget and story get in the way. It's a lot for a 90 minute movie to take on and it feels to much like a setup for a franchise or videogame. Enjoyable and ticks all the boxes it set out to achieve but a little light on involving substance.
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