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Rating History

The Crow: City of Angels
18 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes

As we all know the original [i]Crow[/i] movie turned out to be an iconic piece of 90's cinema; which was also sadly down to the fact that Brandon Lee was killed during the filming. Despite the shocking death of Lee midway through the movies production the end result was still of a high quality. Even to this day it's not overly obvious where Lee's performance ends and a body double starts. For a newbie to the film I'd say its impossible to tell. So the notion of making a sequel was always going to be hard, dare I say sacrilege.

The Plot: Set in a comicbook version of Los Angeles Ashe (Vincent Pèrez) runs a small garage with his young son Danny. One night Danny accidentally stumbles across a gangland killing which leads to the both of them being executed by the gang. Meanwhile, an adult Sarah (Mia Kirshner) from the original movie, starts having bad dreams and visions about Ashe and his son. Somehow she has a supernatural connection with the dead and can feel their pain. She is visited by a crow which leads her to the spot where Ashe and his son were murdered. It's at this moment that Ashe is resurrected. Sarah helps Ashe come to terms with what happened, eventually painting his face with the familiar markings she witnessed on Eric Draven. Ashe then begins his quest to exact revenge of the ones who murdered him and his son.

So yes this movie was a sequel set within the same universe as the original movie. Sarah is the only character to return and she is now an adult working as a tattooist. So basically, even though the plot is virtually identical to the first movie, it's surrounding a new victim. So from that one can assume that this happens often in this universe, people coming back from the dead and putting things right. Indeed the movie does point this out at the end with the huge murder of crows sequence. It's a safe but solid plot route, it makes sense without getting too silly. The question that springs to mind is, why don't we see tonnes of crow-assisted people running around exacting revenge? Surely with all the murder in this universe it would happen all the time. I could also ask, what power or force is deciding who gets to come back? There would be tricky cases which aren't so clear-cut, so what's the criteria? But this could be seen as nit-picking.

The first thing you notice about this movie is the design aesthetic. Whereas the original movie was very dark and rainy with a lot of black and earthy colours; this second movie has a very greeny, yellowish colour palette, mostly green. This was to reflect the location of the story, Los Angeles on the coast. Hence everything has a more hazy, warm, sweaty, misty vibe running through it. Director Tim Pope certainly went a tad overboard with the mist and smog in my opinion. Almost every scene is thick with coloured mist which whilst adding a nice supernatural vibe, does also hinder being able to see things.

This world is of course a complete comicbook fantasy, even more so than the first movie. One could say ahead of its time because to give Pope credit, this movie does look like it's been ripped straight from the pages of a graphic novel. Every frame is so outlandishly over the top with its swirling mist, bizarre colouring, and decaying cityscape. You can't knock this movies visuals that's for sure. The opening sequence is a brilliant panning shot over a large model cityscape of this otherworldly LA. The city itself is so unbelievably rundown and rotten it's almost laughable really. I'm guessing the movie is set in the poorer part of the city but blimey! Every single inch of this urban sprawl is crawling with litter, filth, druggies, burnt-out cars, graffiti, broken glass, wrecked buildings etc...Its a living hell, but that is the point.

It's also worth noting that along with the colour palette coordinating with the location, this movie also featured a lot of motorbikes which are more of a thing on the west coast. Where as in the original movie you saw a lot of cars (kinda) because it was set in Detroit, Pope and co deliberately used more motorbikes for the LA setting.

When it comes to the inhabitants of this city and their dwellings, things get even more off the wall. Let's look at Sarah. She now looks like an extra from a Tim Burton movie with her pale complexion, red rings around her eyes, skinny build, and ripped attire. She lives in this apartment that looks more like a floor taken from a gothic castle, and it's filthy. I understand she is supposed to be poor and moves around a lot but Jesus Christ! The windows are covered with a thick layer of dirt and the floor is dirty bare wooden floorboards! Interestingly, Sarah owns a white cat, the same cat from the first movie. She also still owns the sad clown mask from the first movie, and she wears Shelley's wedding ring.

Moving on to the main antagonist Judah (Richard Brooks). Now this guy lives in an abandoned church which he has seemingly converted into a BDSM dungeon complete with his own collection of latex bound female slaves (rawr!!). Not only that but he also has his own personal witch or sorceress or prophet (?) that knows all about supernatural stuff including the crow and its powers. Judah a cultist, is a self-declared sadist and dresses in a Kimono type thing on his lower half and is topless on top. He seemingly spends his time brooding and watching his female slaves perform BDSM rituals.

Judah's vicious gang contains just four members. All of whom are visually excessive for the sake of being excessive. It's like Pope and co couldn't really decide so they just threw everything at the wall. The leader of the gang is Curve (Iggy Pop) who dresses like an extra from Gun N' Roses. Iggy is most definitely the best casting here because this guy suits this environment so perfectly both visually and verbally. He's not the best actor but he does enough to sell it. Nemo (Thomas Jane) was a strange one that I haven't figured out yet. He essentially dresses like a glam rock star complete with a dodgy wig, codpiece, and 'A Clockwork Orange' style eyelash makeup; but I'm thinking he could be a transvestite also (?).

Then you have Spider Monkey (Vincent Castellanos) who really does look like a combination of ideas all thrown together simply to make the most outrageous looking baddie ever. Again this guy seems to have a very effeminate vibe about him with his girlish screaming, rock chick hairdo, and of course tight attire. And lastly there is Kali (Thuy Trang), the slinky sexy token female villain who just happens to be south east Asian which I found really weak because it just seemed like Pope was copying the original movie (Bai Ling as Myca). All of these villains don't really get much time to shine and we never really get a sense of who they are. They all feel like background characters just waiting to be inevitably killed off violently by Ashe.

Swinging back to our protagonist Ashe, I found the casting of Pèrez an odd one. Here was a man with a slight accent (which isn't expanded on) and a clear receding hairline. Now I'm not having a go at his hair or accent, but he never really looked the part to me. He looked too old, his hair was clearly straightened, he had a large forehead due to the receding, he didn't really look in shape, and mainly his acting was just off. Sure there are moments when he sells it with a maniacal grin or his face is overcast with shadow, but there are so many scenes which were clearly meant to epic moments of action or emotion and Pèrez just doesn't sell it. I'm not saying the film required a young sexy ripped male, I just didn't see Pèrez as the right choice.

As the film chugs along its also evident how silly bits of it truly are. Sarah paints Ashe's face with his dead son's kiddie paints. Surely that would just rub or wash off within 30 minutes, yet it stays there for the entire runtime. Ashe wears similar attire to Eric in the first movie including another full length long black trenchcoat. When Ashe goes off to find the first gang member, it takes all of about five minutes of motorbike riding from his old garage to get to his destination! Yeah I know it's probably supposed to be longer but that's how it comes across. Ashe kills Spider Monkey by throwing a lit match on some flammable liquid, and this somehow causes the entire building to violently explode.

Nemo gets killed in a seedy porn store which has a peeping booth. But my one and only question here is, why would anyone pay money to sit behind a glass booth and jerk-off while a girl strips? Surely a bloke like this would go to a prostitute. And all these baddies never seem to learn throughout this movie that guns and knives can't hurt or kill Ashe. Kali even hangs around for Ashe at one point to try and kill him...with a knife, ugh! What follows is a really bad and obvious 'martial arts' fight between two actors who clearly don't know any martial arts.

Its also around the midway point that you'll realise there are apparently no cops in this entire city. Yes OK as I've already said this could well be the seedy part of town and there could well be less cops. Or the cops have been paid off by Judah. But either way, the fact you never see or hear any cops or sirens is just silly really.

The finale was another part of this movie that never really felt satisfying or well explained. Judah kills the crow (after he is instructed to by his very handy witch/prophet slave, what happened to her??) and takes Ashe's powers of the crow. So Ashe becomes mortal again? Does this mean Ashe could walk off and remain alive? Does this mean Ashe dies twice in the end? Does that mean Judah is the living dead now?

In the original movie Eric transfers all the pain and suffering his girlfriend suffered onto Top Dollar. Well here Ashe kinda does the same thing to Judah, I think. Ashe calls on a large murder of crows (all carrying the pain of dead souls) to 'take' Judah. I'm not really sure what happens next, the crows fly through Judah and take his soul piece by piece? The crows eat Judah piece by piece? The crows merely suck him into the afterlife? I dunno. Does Judah's newfound power not have any sway here? And does the power of crow revert back to Ashe straight away making him dead again?

This movie never really got much praise when it was released and was always seen as a poor follow up to the original. And to be honest it is a poor follow up, but it's not as bad as its made out to be. There are some really good touches here, some great visuals (albeit a bit MTV music video-esque at times), decent ideas, and another solid soundtrack which is right up there with the original in my opinion. Yes OK Pope does rely a bit too much on greenscreen and superimposition here and there, some of which is horrendous, but at least they stuck with practical effects for the most part.

The setting of LA does add an interesting fresh angle especially with the inclusion of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival at the end. There is a lot of religious iconography throughout the movie (some Mexican) which also adds to the supernatural element nicely. It's not top heavy with these religious themes, but in a more traditional graphic novel kinda way with stark striking imagery and motifs.

It's definitely an odd movie with various clashing themes I can't deny. There's traditional biker gangs, tattoo parlours, and squalid graffiti-ridden urban areas. Various religious motifs, supernatural
prophets, the predictable abandoned church setting, and a traditional national holiday. And then there's a heavy BDSM theme throughout complete with fetish club and hot wax torture sequence! A little insight into Tim Pope's personal preferences perhaps?

Yes this movie is way more graphic and violent than the first and yes this movie follows the original almost beat for beat, scene for scene. But on a visual standpoint, this movie is undeniably excellent and showcases some highly stylish visual sequences (backed up with some thumping tunes). Upon reflection I'd say this is a solid gothic action movie. Obviously not as good as the first but still an engaging ride which should just about please fans of the franchise or people into this type of genre (it would probably be far better than any modern remake).

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
7 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

K so this happened, the legendary Spielberg franchise churned out its fifth movie and actually turned into cheesy B-movie schlock. Did I say turned? I meant deteriorated.

So here we go again. The island of Isla Nuba is gonna be destroyed by a pending volcanic eruption and there is a debate about whether the dinosaurs should be saved or not. Naturally despite the US Senate deciding to allow the dinosaurs to perish some do-gooders take it upon themselves to try and save them anyway (must be part of the 'resistance'). But low and behold the people who claim to want to save the dinosaurs for a new sanctuary actually mean to sell them off to the highest bidders. These naughty humans have also created genetically modified dinosaurs too which will bring in even more money. And needless to say, the people who to buy these dinosaurs are all evil (and probably Russian, I dunno). Could you get more schlocky??

Alright so like some previous reviews I've done for these huge popcorn flicks I'm just gonna basically bullet point my thoughts because there is literally so much I could write it would go on forever.

So straight away one of the key political narratives in this movie is the argument about whether the dinosaurs should be saved because they are living animals and deserve protection. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) believes mankind should allow the dinosaurs to perish because nature has once again selected them to die off and that they were originally man-made so they shouldn't have been around in the first place. An opinion he has generally held throughout the franchise, that the whole idea was a bad one. Personally I agree with this because as said these creatures were man-made. Without our science and interference they wouldn't be alive in the first place so essentially letting them die off via natural disaster is a good way to end the 'project'.

What bewilders me is the fact that our two protagonists, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), still want to save the dinosaurs and put them in a sanctuary somewhere...because that's worked out so well up till now. They both think these giant lumbering creatures can be looked after like regular animals despite [b]all[/b] the trouble thus far. They just don't seem to understand that dinosaurs cannot be contained and some will eat you. This is a huge flaw in the characters and it's annoying.

Isla Nuba: The volcano erupts and we officially enter the schlock zone. Grady and Dearing manage to outrun the pyroclastic cloud. During this time the soon-to-be bad guys are off catching dinosaurs to 'rescue'. We never actually see how they do this, they just arrive at the ship with lots of captured dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. Its also at this time we get our first (overly used) T-Rex money shot as it roars after inadvertently saving the protagonists (how many times guys? How many times).

Sir Benjamin Lockwood: Who? Well alas Richard Attenborough died in 2014 and obviously director J.A. Bayona wanted another elderly character to oversee the new dino project. So now we have a John Hammond-esque character again, hurray! Turns out back in the day this duo worked together on Jurassic Park but fell out, hence we haven't ever seen him before (and not because he was just created for this movie).

Northern California Estate: Jump to Lockwood's sprawling Addams Family-esque mansion in northern California complete with a moody wood-paneled Victorian-esque interior, a creaky dumbwaiter...oh and an underground lair with cages big enough to house large dinosaurs. It's basically a fecking castle. This is where the highly illegal activity of selling dinosaurs goes down in some ridiculous evening event for...[i]Bond[/i] villains? And yes I actually think some of these dastardly people were actually Russian.

It seems these people want to buy dinosaurs for various reasons such as hunting, but the main reason is, of course, the old weapons notion. Yep apparently these guys think that dinosaurs would make great future weapons, [i]'the perfect weapon'[/i]. This literally makes no sense to me, how the flip is a dinosaur the perfect weapon? Why go to all the trouble of trying to train a deadly man-eating dinosaur (possibly with attached weapons?) for the purpose of warfare when you can just use highly skilled men. You can't rely on the dinosaur not killing you. You can't rely on the dinosaur not running off on a mission. And although a dinosaur can probably kill lots of people, surely men with guns can kill more? And surely a dinosaur isn't exactly invincible either, its a living creature, it's not bulletproof.

Its here we also get introduced to the new genetically-modified dinosaur with all the bells and whistles (but still not bulletproof, although apparently tranquiliser proof). Naturally said dinosaur eventually gets out and kills everyone as we proceed to the second half of the movie, 'Resident Evil: Dino Hunt'. Yes it's around this point that the movie legitimately becomes a monster B-movie as the dinosaur chases people around the dark mansion (and on the rooftops). Cue lots of near misses as the dinosaur goes for the kill (always an object in its way).

To really double down on the whole [i]Resident Evil[/i] theme we see that Lockwood has a young granddaughter. Spoiler alert, turns out she's a clone. It seems Lockwood got carried away with the whole replication of DNA and cloned his dead daughter, which in turn caused the split with Hammond.

Towards the finale the Velociraptor known as Blue (transported from Isla Nuba) is released and helps Grady and co by attacking the new modified dinosaur. Cue lots of furious CGI and the second money shot in the exact same pose we've seen before with the T-Rex, only this time with the Velociraptor (Jesus Christ!). In the end both dinosaurs fall off the roof and through a window whilst fighting. Luckily the evil dinosaur is impaled on a statue, phew!

Oh and then in the end when everything has settled, Dearing has a chance to free the remaining dinosaurs into the wild (of America) otherwise they'll get gassed to death (the results of the aftermath of the dinosaurs breaking free under the mansion). Thankfully she hesitates and doesn't, realising that would be a bad move. But then Lockwood's cloned daughter calmly does it anyway because she's a stupid kid.

So all in all its a pretty surprising drop in quality really. This used to be an epic franchise, a Spielberg franchise, a step above the rest. But now its been dragged through the mud with multiple sequels that have gotten worse and worse until we are left with a cheesy monster movie that wouldn't look outta place in the [i]King Kong[/i] universe. The effects are impressive of course but its a drab looking movie loaded with annoying callbacks to the original movie. The dinosaurs are now free in the US so one can expect a very familiar third movie soon. I'm guessing the only thing they can do now is round all the dinosaurs up and move them back to site B? (remember that? Its still out there).

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
9 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Ah the little known Oz adventure that I believe is the tenth Muppet movie before they stopped the classic story adaptations and rebooted the idea afresh in 2011 with 'The Muppets'. This was an American/Canadian collaboration that was primarily for Television.

This is of course the Muppet version of events based on L. Frank Baum's original novel. I'm sure everyone knows the story by now so I won't delve deep into that but instead take a quick look at some of the Muppet changes. Noticeable changes start with Dorothy's family now owning a diner in Kansas instead of a farm. Dorothy and her family are now African American. Dorothy initially goes to see the Wizard so he can make her...ugh! A famous singer (facepalm). Toto the dog is now...a prawn. Yes literally a common prawn in a fish tank (who later becomes Pepe). The Tinman (Gonzo) is now a robot. The Cowardly Lion is now a Cowardly Bear (Fozzie) And the flying monkeys are now a leather bound biker gang.

On the other hand, in some instances this Muppet version does stick more closely to the original source material than the classic 1939 movie. For example, the Good Witch of the North and Glinda are separate characters here. Dorothy's shoes are silver instead of ruby. The Wizard of Oz sees each of the characters (Dorothy and co) individually and in a different form. And Dorothy gains control of the flying biker gang when she defeats the Wicked Witch of the West. Of course there are many more examples for both, especially in terms of Muppet changes.

As for the movie well it's a real mixed bag for me. You really don't get a good impression with the way this picture starts. Basically, it's an MTV music video staring Ashanti (Dorothy). A brooding looking Ashanti moping around in black and white trying to look seductive (kids movie!). This intro almost destroys the entire movie because quite simply...what angle are you going for here?? I understand they are trying to make it all hip for the new generation but this is the Wizard of Oz for crying out loud. I honestly thought I was watching something else by mistake.

Naturally things start to improve once we get to Oz and start seeing some actual Muppets. Toto has now changed into Pepe which is a huge saving grace because Pepe is a top Muppet and quite frankly Ashanti can't act to save her life. The Munchkins are now played by Rizzo the rat and his rodent friends which was an inspired decision. Kermit is the Scarecrow, Fozzie is the Cowardly Bear, Gonzo is the Tinman/Tin robot, and Piggy is all the witches.

So Muppet casting wise its all the predictable big names in the main roles. But I really did like Johnny Fiama (stereotypical Italian American mafioso type) as the Wicked Witch of West's main henchman. Along with the flying biker gang minions typically played by all those random monster type Muppets. Sam Eagle was perfect as the Emerald City Guardian of the Gates. Piggy does a good job of being the evil witch with a somewhat disturbing lean towards being a leather clad dominatrix. The rest put in their usual performances that we've all come to expect.

When it comes to set pieces or anything remotely memorable, this movie is lacking. Sure the movie looks pleasing enough with some nice Muppet recreations of classic characters; the sets are attractive and colourful, and the songs are chirpy enough. But nothing really happens here, nothing engages you. The scene where Dorothy and co are poisoned/put to sleep by the poppies has here been turned into some somewhat sleazy nightclub sequence which felt nothing more than an excuse to shove in The Electric Mayhem and Clifford. I'm still not really sure why they changed the Tinman into a robot because it doesn't really make much difference. And the scenes in Oz with the Wizard showcase some of the most God awful CGI you will ever see. Granted this is an oldish movie and the budget may not have been great but by Jove it's horrific.

I think the only memorable scene is with Quentin Tarantino who has this bizarre meta sequence where he discusses a plot point with Kermit as it happens (much like [i]Monty Python[/i]) But the only reason why its memorable is because it's so bloody awful. Watching Tarantino overact and restrain himself next to a Muppet is cringeworthy. Its also entirely pointless runtime filler and a way to get a big name into the movie. And speaking of cameos, pretty thin on the ground. Kelly Osbourne is all we get in a sequence that could be deemed somewhat controversial these days (because that's the world we live in now).

I must also confess to not really liking the finale. I realise that in the original source material the Wizard turns out to be a fake, but I really didn't like how they 'reimagined' that idea in this movie. Basically exposing Oz to be a Hollywood movie set and the Wizard to merely be a normal everyday actor (Jeffrey Tambor) was kinda depressing really. Its a twist for sure but it also destroys the fantasy. We know the Wizard was a fake but at least keep the world of Oz real.

I think what's disappointing here is the wasted opportunity. We know the Henson company can make cracking fantasy adaptations of classic tales ('Christmas Carol' and 'Treasure Island') and this story was ripe for Muppet treatment. But they made (in my opinion) bad choices with casting, designs, plot ideas, and obviously didn't have a proper budget. I mean seriously, what kind of story moral is having Dorothy wanting to ask the Wizard to make her rich and famous. Yeah she changes her mind in the end but it shouldn't have been about that in the first place (I would expect that kind of nauseating idea in the present).

Overall this could have been so much more, a real classic like the other Muppet movies mentioned. It has all the elements just waiting to be Muppet mined...but alas!

The Muppets Take Manhattan
11 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The third Muppet movie and arguably the best location for a Muppet movie. Seriously is it just me or does Manhattan just feel like the exact spot where most Muppets would live, their home. Obviously the fictional street of [i]Sesame Street[/i] is located in Manhattan which leans towards the idea that Muppets perhaps come from that borough. But despite that, Muppets just feel right on the east coast.

Anywho this time around the Muppets have graduated from college. During this time they have been putting on a popular show called [i]Manhattan Melodies[/i]. Upon receiving positive feedback and some advice, the gang decides to try their luck at getting their show on Broadway. Predictably at first the Muppets have no luck at all and are forced to break up and find work elsewhere. During this time Kermit continues to sell their show in an attempt at getting on Broadway. He gains help from a local diner owner and his daughter, along with Rizzo the Rat and his friends. Problems arise when Kermit is hit by a car, loses his memory, and then goes missing. The Muppets are summoned back to Manhattan to help find Kermit; time now being of the essence because in the meantime their show has been picked up.

So once again (it has to be said) we have another Muppet movie with a somewhat lackluster plot. Yes I know these movies are essentially for kids. Yes I know its a Muppet movie and the emphasis is more on sight gags, pratfalls, musical numbers, and just the look of the Muppets themselves. But this story isn't really interesting, it holds no real excitement, it doesn't really engage you. I like that its grounded but dare I say a bit too grounded and pedestrian.

Again I don't want to nitpick a Muppet movie too much...but these things just jumped out at me. For starters when the gang has no initial luck and Kermit throws a hissy fit, they all decide to just leave. This felt a bit odd to me, OK they need money, but no need to depart for entirely new locations across the USA! Also, was it me or did anyone else find Rowlf getting a job in a dog pound kinda weird? In this universe Muppets live alongside humans, so why would a human hire a Muppet dog to guard other Muppet dogs? Surely that's bound to lead to trouble. Also Gonzo gets a job at a circus or funfair and Piggy stays behind to secretly watch over Kermit (in case he gets his amphibia leg over). Both of which were way too predictable.

Having Piggy stay behind to covertly watch Kermit also gives us yet more romantic mush I'm afraid. It seems that every Muppet movie has to have multiple sequences of tiresome romance between the two. I mean sure that is the whole schtick between these characters and it can be funny at times but Jesus! Fortunately this does lead to a really good chase sequence where Piggy rollerskates after a mugger in Central Park (he pinches her purse). The sequence is well done utilising a stunt person within a Miss Piggy bodysuit with a fixed expression. Something that has been done before and works pretty well, from a distance.

This movie is also notable for the first onscreen appearance of Muppets in baby form, [i]Muppet Babies[/i]. Yes there is a dream sequence within this movie where most of the Muppets are seen in a nursery frolicking around. The Muppets, the nursery, and the pastel colour scheme we see were all carried across into the cartoon (of the same name). It's literally a live action version of [i]Muppet Babies[/i] and it looks terrific. Whilst the small baby Muppets are adorable, the small animatronic baby Muppets were both adorable and visually excellent. Its sequences like this that prove how much more effective live action effects are.

I think the problem with this third movie is the lack of real standout moments. There really isn't too much here that jumps out at you, other than the baby Muppets and the Central Park rollerskate sequence. Seeing Rizzo and friends cook in the diner kitchen was cute. Some nice remote controlled/wire puppet action with some clever visual trickery thrown in. Kermit being hit by a car and seeing him twitch on the tarmac was a legitimately disturbing sequence back in the day...aaand it still is today. And lastly I did like the frog advertisers Gill, Bill, and Jill. These guys felt very much like typical [i]Sesame Street[/i] characters to me with their rhyming names, identical looks, and speech pattern.

Then of course you had the big finale where Kermit and Piggy finally get married. Something that you'd think would be an epic sequence living long in the memories of all who grew up with the picture, alas no. Although the sequence is pretty epic in scope with a good hundred plus Muppets on set, including [i]Sesame Street[/i] characters [b]and [/b] Uncle Travelling Matt from [i]Fraggle Rock[/i], it pails in comparison the first movies finale sequence. That's the problem really, it just kinda felt like they were trying to recapture that classic silver screen moment from the original movie which was bigger, more impressive, and is iconic.

Following on from the classic original and wacky hijinks of the second was a hard act to follow. Heck, even the cameo roster wasn't very impressive for this one with many bigger stars pulling out. On the whole I wouldn't say this is a bad Muppet movie, it's just not a very memorable one. It has its moments which are fun and visually pleasing (what Muppet movie isn't visually pleasing??) but they are few and far between leaving the whole affair a tad muted.

Kickboxer: Vengeance
11 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

JCVD was but the learner, now he is the master...and so forth. Here we go again with yet another reboot of a classic movie. Well not so much a classic movie per say, a classic in the JCVD filmography at least and for people of a certain age that grew up with 18/R rated martial arts flicks that were considered almost taboo or video nasties in their time. So this is indeed a complete reboot in the sense that its almost identical to the original movie except for the odd twist plot-wise. Of course any new twists aren't really anything to write home about so...errr, don't write home about them? Right.

The movie kicks off with the all new Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi, yes I've never heard of him either) turning up at Tong Po's (Dave Batista) home/temple/fighting camp, whatever the hell it is, to be trained by the master. Literally within 5 minutes of him knocking on the door we are thrust into kickboxing ([i]Mortal Kombat[/i] looking) mayhem as he must take on a string of other trainees to prove himself. This doesn't take too long before he's beaten...but he can stay anyway because plot reasons. Later that night he tries to murder Tong Po in his sleep with a gun, but he fails and gets arrested (but not beaten to death??). But wait a minute, wait just a cotton picking minute. In the original franchise, Tong Po kills the Sloane brothers in 'kickboxer 2' in revenge for beating him in the ring in 'Kickboxer'. Now you expect this kind of act from the villain in a movie, but here we are seeing the hero attempting to do the same thing. Sure Tong Po killed Kurt's brother in the ring, but in this new movie it doesn't happen in a nasty way, its seen as the risk of illegal fighting, you know the risks. So essentially Tong Po could be seen as not doing anything wrong because its dog eat dog in the illegal fighting, world so to speak. Yet here we are seeing the hero trying to kill the victor in a cowardly act, so how are we supposed to root for this guy?

In case you're wondering if this movie dispenses with the plot set up surrounding the death of Kurt's brother and how he got to Thailand because it starts off differently, well fear not because we get a lengthy flashback to cover all that (ugh!). I actually thought the movie was gonna try and be a little bit original at first but no, its all redone but in flashback. Of course as I mentioned before the plot does differ slightly, when Kurt gets arrested for trying to kill Tong Po he meets up with an attractive police woman whom he starts a relationship with. Initially this goes nowhere really but she does help Kurt avoid being deported and covers for him on occasion. Essentially she's only there for a bit of an emotional pull and sex for one scene.

Anyway we're only here for fights, we know the basic plot outline, so what's the deal? Well there's an initial fight amongst some elephants, actually using the elephants as platforms to fight off...and it looks shit. This is because they clearly use fake elephants, greenscreen and CGI...oh sweet Jesus! Then Kurt meets up with the trainer who trained his now dead brother, master Durand (JCVD). Naturally this being a quirky reboot and JCVD wanting to be hip and cool, the character wears shades all the time and a little stupid porkpie-esque hat. Initially Durand refuses to train Kurt, but then they fight each other, Durand whips his ass, and for some reason decides to train him after all, because plot reasons.

What follows is virtually all the same shit we saw in the original movie. All the same training methods but slightly different, all the same types of spiritual images and shots set against traditional Thai backdrops, and even another bar fight set up by Durand when he thinks Kurt is ready. Difference here is he loses, so its back to yet more training montages using some of the same footage (ugh!). At the same time as all this, we do get some scenes with the police who are up to something, not too sure what because they speak in Thai with no subs sooo. None of it is hardly important anyway because we all know the outcome of this story. Again another slight change in plan is a bit more focus on Tong Po as he worships in his temple. Strangely he doesn't really come off as a bad guy in this, he's just a bloody good fighter that is too aggressive or too strong even. End of the day all he's doing is just fighting to win and he didn't appear to do anything illegal in the fight against Kurt's brother, except kill him, but did he even intend to do that? In no way is he an all out villain like in the original movie.

Oh and the film also has Gina Carano as a crooked fight organiser that assists Tong Po. If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned her much its because she does literally nothing and is of no use in this movie. She offers Kurt the match against Po originally...aaand disappears for virtually the rest of the flick. She's basically been cast just to add another big name to the movies poster and advertising.

But yeah, pushing all this meaningless crap aside, we all know what's coming, the big kickass fight finale between Po and Kurt. Does this fight match up to the original? Can it save this film? Nope! No it can't. Why you ask? Well because its the exact same spiel we've all seen before and done much better in the original movie. Yeah Batista looks huge and has lots of tattoos, there's way more blood, more gut-wrenching sound effects and the fight goes on for way way longer, but its old hat. Once again it all feels like something outta [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] as after each stage of fighting they are given deadly assistance. First it broken glass stuck to their knuckles ala the original movie once again, and then its swords because that's a fair fight isn't it. Kurt is trained in kickboxing, since when is he trained in sword fighting? Ditto for Po. Kurt basically gets his ass handed to him for the entire fight, right up until the last bout where he suddenly feels the eye of the tiger or whatever, whilst the crowd starts to chant [i]'Nuk su kow!'[/i]. He then proceeds to kick Po's ass so much he dies from it...hurrah!

I don't get it, I just don't get it at all, what is the point of this movie? Why does this movie even exist? The original is a decent adult brawler with a South East Asian backdrop and plenty of spiritual mysticism and spice, much like JCVD's other top early flick 'Bloodsport'. There was absolutely no reason to remake this movie because it was always gonna be trash. Yeah they can add big names, have even flashier martial arts and glossy set pieces (well you'd think), but at the end of the day all that shit just doesn't work anymore because this genre has past. Movies like this were shit hot back in the day when I was a kid, I saw the original flick at a young age because they were seen as action epics of the time (as was JCVD), but those days are long gone. Jesus they even tried to remake 'Bloodsport' back in 1996 with JCVD ('The Quest') and that failed miserably even then! Bottom line, there is absolutely no reason to watch this at all when you can watch the [b]far[/b] superior original.