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ChoiBaby

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A wildly exciting movie, but just remember to lock up your common sense., 7 July 1999

Jim West (Will Smith) is the fastest gun in the Wild West. The delectable ladies can never get enough of him and the fiendish villains will never find out what hit them. With his quick reflexes, impeccable wit, and righteous charisma, Jim West is always up to the challenge against any and all innumerable odds. Jim West is out to tame the West. Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) is a U.S. Marshal, an inventor, and a master of disguise. He too has plenty of charm and looks. Gordon has the ability to masquerade himself as an unsuspecting damsel-in-distress...

In the villains' corner: Insane professor Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) is ruthless, heartless...and leg-less. This crippled villain has a lot of dirty tricks up his sleeve. Loveless is assisted by a renegade Confederate known as General "Bloodbath" McGrath (Ted Levine). McGrath himself has a grudge against Jim West...

Why are all the prominent scientists and inventors being kidnapped? It's up to West and Gordon to track down these scientists and thwart a madman's scheme for power. The madman behind the kidnappings is none other than arch-nemesis Loveless. Loveless has, as his arsenal, lethal flying disks, several cannons, a fortified bastion, and an 80 foot mechanical tarantula! As evident by the destruction of a small town, Loveless has a blatant disregard for public property. Dr. Arliss Loveless is hoping to capture President Ulysses S. Grant (Robert Conrad, the ORIGINAL Jim West) and therefore gain the strength to rule this nation...

Throw in a love interest, Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek) and everything is all set. That is, except for one minor conflict. Both Jim West and Artemus Gordon frequently find themselves vying for Rita's affection...

Nevertheless, our dashing heroes must fight for the freedom of humankind. As the sun rises, the adventures continue with our heroes keeping their heads up high. The action rushes by the minute...

The Wild West will never be the same again! Jim West and Artemus Gordon must be prepared for lots of trouble!

WILD WILD WEST is based on the hit TV series of the 1960s. The science-fiction and Western genres merge in this rather odd tale about heroes and the numerous challenges they must face. Star Will Smith teams up with director Barry Sonnenfeld (MEN IN BLACK) once again in this entertaining motion picture. To tell you the truth, I thought that WILD WILD WEST was a great, but not exactly spectacular motion picture. The $80 million plus special FX were flamboyant enough, and the humor was always rife in this movie. I found myself having a rather marvelous time watching this delightful action picture. From the intimate love scene in the beginning of this movie to the invigorating climax, WILD WILD WEST is fun in the West!

WILD WILD WEST succeeds because it keeps the viewer on the edge-of-the-seat. Lots of exhilarating action scenes are worth mentioning. One cool scene involved Jim West inside a room, surrounded by some "susceptible" paintings. In an instant, gunmen appear from the paintings and a brief gun battle ensues. Needless to say, West blasts his way through these six to seven outlaws. West does not even break a sweat! The scenes where Will Smith rides underneath a train are superb as well. The climax is superlatively awesome.

Yes it is true, Will Smith does all of his own stunts. Yes, you do get to see Will Smith cross dressing in this movie. (Believe it or not, it leaves a lot to the imagination!) Will Smith is "as slick as they is."

Though WILD WILD WEST is a palatable flick, there are quite a number of flaws in this movie. First, the acting is something left to be desired for. I especially found myself startled by seeing respected thespian Kenneth Branagh portray a paralyzed psycho. It is unimaginable to see a Shakespearean actor act like a redneck. Kevin Kline would probably be the last actor I'd expect to see in a Western, but hey, his versatility did amaze me. On the other hand, I was dejected at the dearth of Salma Hayek's presence in this movie. This beautiful actress could have had a much stronger role in this movie. As for the proliferating breast jokes, sexist remarks, and redneck riffs, they do degenerate into utter idiocy. Finally, this film also relies more on coincidences rather than coherence. (i.e. Gordon's chance encounter with Rita Escobar, amongst other segments.)

Speaking of Kline, he had some inspired moments. It's extremely funny how Kevin Kline tries to emulate some kung fu moves at times. I was also amused at watching Kline perform in drag!

As much as I was impressed by this production, WILD WILD WEST is entertainment and nothing more. This motion picture does not have an iota of logic or realism. Watch this film solely for your own viewing pleasure. Do not anticipate anything scholarly in this movie. If you are looking for insight, look somewhere else buddy!

Although WILD WILD WEST is not Will Smith's biggest accomplishment, it is a movie that he should be proud of. "The Wild Wild West" music video is also a must-see.

Just keep in mind that, in the words of Ulysses S. Grant, James West "...shoots first, second, then some more, and then asks questions of all the dead people lying around."

RATING: **1/2 out of ****. (Based purely on its entertainment value.)

Uncle Sam (1996) (V)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I want you...to avoid this movie!, 4 July 1999

Just in time for the spirit of the Fourth of July! I could not think of a more appropriate movie that relates to the Independence Day theme.

Un film de William Lustig. UNCLE SAM had the potential to be a grand cult classic. However lackluster performances plus a flawed and muddled orchestration prevent UNCLE SAM from earning its stars and stripes...

Master Sergeant Sam Harper (David "Shark" Fralick), an honorable Desert Storm hero is accidentally killed by "friendly fire" while fighting in Kuwait. Tragically, this one time hero has become a mere statistic...

Meanwhile, at Twin Rivers, USA, Jody (Christopher Ogden) sadly misses his uncle. However, when an Army Sergeant (Bo Hopkins) appears, the news of Harper's arrival back to the states is apparently not good news. This Sergeant has plaintively informed Jody and his relatives of Sam Harper's demise. Afterwards, Harper's grieving family wishes to have him receive an honorable burial.

Subsequently, a few twenty year old teenagers decide to foolishly burn an American flag near Sam's resting site. This action has provoked the indignation of Sam Harper. This undead patriotic marine feels deign to teach these delinquents some country pride in the typical fashion. Sam is willing to teach a lesson...at the cost of any human lives.

So "Uncle Sam" returns from the grave to restore rectitude and pride in a small, greedy town gone wrong. He has a fresh crop of sinners at his disposal. Among the characters include: an unlawful sheriff (Matthew Flint), a draft dodging teacher (Timothy Bottoms), a tax evading lawyer (Tim Grimm), and a scornful, self-serving politician (Robert Forster!). Uncle Sam fights for truth, (in)justice...and the American way!

UNCLE SAM was atrociously bad, but in a sort of cheesy way. The ensemble in this movie is a B-movie fan's dream. Even P.J. Soles rounds out the cast as a fastidious mother. Anyhow, the acting in this movie was tremendously weak. The characters lacked charisma, and I personally wanted to see virtually all of the cast members (even the child actors) bite the dust sometime in this film. The young child actor, Ogden, for one is too nettling for his own good. The best performance is by Hayes (Yes, that is the Isaac Hayes who provides Chef's voice in the indelible TV show SOUTH PARK) as an affectionate war veteran. Hayes is the only caring character who does a good job portraying Harper's former mentor who must dissuade young Jody from enlisting in the army. As for good old Robert Forster, let's just say that his performance is "on fire!"

Some wily cleverness manages to shine through but this film suffers heavily from an onerous pace. The death scenes in particular (i.e. Hatchet in the head, a decapitation, throat slitting, gunshot wounds) are far from adulterated. Some of the other subtleties were...unique. I especially chuckled watching Ogden play with those old all American action figures. Another subtlety was Uncle Sam's atypical costume. It is certainly the perfect disguise for a movie villain!

As for the antagonist, Larry Cohen has created a villain whose violent tactics are nothing more but "justified murders." The screenplay though, is a lot less refined. Ostensibly, Cohen had created mixed messages in this movie. Unfortunately, the screenplay fails to convey any of these individual messages thoroughly. Cohen wanted to discern a theme explaining that people throughout history have always been fighting without a cause. People supposedly have fought for the thrill of victory, but nowadays, people seem to fight for no other purpose than the pleasure of killing. On the other hand, Cohen also wanted to elucidate the fact that there are no noble heroes in war...only ones who miraculously survive with blood on his hands... These ideas are implied with the characterization of Uncle Sam and how he became so cold-hearted. The screenplay had strong intentions, but they are not fully expressed. Cohen does a much better job with satire. The mean-spirited satire censuring anti-patriotism and the lack of pride and duty among even America's finest citizens is inventive...up to a point.

UNCLE SAM is probably not William Lustig's best picture, but he has done far worst films. This film though, does not offer much substance except for a wasted great premise. Do yourself a favor and avoid the propaganda. Do not be fooled into witnessing this movie just because you see its excellent, holographic video cover. This vanity production is all decoration...and zero thrills. I may not be able to discourage you from seeing this movie, but I will exhort to you that even if this movie does sound fanciful, it really lacks a soul. If you do manage to sit through this whole movie, watch the end credits to hear a poem written by the veteran himself, cacophonous-voiced William Smith.

RATING: *1/2 out of ****.

Alien Intruder (1993) (V)
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A really warped science-fiction adventure., 3 July 1999

Hurrah! Rejoice! More madness from the PM (Pepin-Merhi) duo! ALIEN INTRUDER is notorious for being one of the PM duo's first ventures into the sci-fi (more like science-fantasy) realm. While ALIEN INTRUDER is an entertaining flick, it fails to offer enough nuances of elegance to help make this trip memorable and worthwhile...

Welcome to the grim future. The year is 2022. Aboard the U.S.S. Holly in outer space, mild mannered crew member Borman (Jeff Conaway) has apparently gone berserk. For no logical reason, Borman has callously slaughtered his own men...

Back on Planet Earth, Commander Skyler (Billy Dee Williams) has recently received a desperate call for help. The call has requested that a rescue mission must be dispatched into outer space to find any survivors of the massacre aboard the U.S.S. Holly. So Skyler decides to arbitrarily select four losers to accompany him on this rescue mission. Nick (Maxwell Caulfield) is an intransigent navigator who has almost instigated a space mutiny once... DJ (Richard Cody) is a computer hacker charged with embezzlement. Lloyd (Gary Roberts) is a woman-loving mechanic. Peter (Stephen Davies) is an expert at engineering.

As a reward for their hard work and services, the crew members of the U.S.S. Presley are allowed to relax and indulge in their own lovely gratification. The convicts are allowed a chance to vicariously live out their own pleasures via virtual reality.

Now, meet Ariel. She is every man's dream. She wants to become your playmate.

An alien virus, cleverly disguising herself as a femme fatale named Ariel (Tracy Soggins) has decided to enter each individual program...and turn these people's greatest fantasies into their worst nightmares. Ironically, these petty prisoners and thugs may become entrapped in their own fantasies... Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the daydreaming space travelers, Ariel is intent on luring them to their ultimate doom by forcing one of the crew members to navigate towards the forbidden "G-Sector." While these travelers are distracted by their own illusions, Ariel revels in seducing each victim as she appears in each virtual reality simulation. As a result, tension is created among the crew members themselves...

In space, there is no escape. In space, no one can hear a person die screaming in agony...

ALIEN INTRUDER has a unique premise, even if it is derivative of probably every other science-fiction thriller ever made. The idea of having an attractive but deadly seductress as the prime adversary is an unexpected turn for a science-fiction film.

Every science-fiction cliché ever manifested exists in this potboiler. It features lots of erotic love scenes, interpolated with sporadically violent action sequences. There are lots of gung-ho action in this flick. Along the way, the viewer is treated to a collection of beautiful women! What about the *special* effects? The special effects are not quite so special. Especially staring at that spinning spaceship...what a sizzling special effect. This film is all showmanship and little innovation. Most of the special FX, from the explosions in space to that dizzying space shuttle in distress are far from impressive, but it is allowable, considering the limited budget.

The visual sets, even the Wild West, are utterly depressing. All of the visual settings in this movie are just so murky and dismal. I guess that it kind of reflects the mood of the film in general. One of the virtual reality segments though, shot in black and white, is a sly homage to the "film noir" of the 1950s. The Wild West backdrop is sufficient as well. ALIEN INTRUDER has a really horrendous production, but it is sort of interesting to watch.

The performances in this movie are deadpan with Conaway acting way over-the-top as a psycho on the loose. Billy Dee Williams (whose payback for his supporting role in BATMAN was observably not high enough) seems to know how to have fun here as for the rest of the cast. Tracy Soggins is cute in this movie, especially when she plays mind games with the male cast. It is a joy to watch everyone acting paranoid in this movie...

ALIEN INTRUDER is sort of predictable because the viewer is always one step ahead of the characters. For example, we all know that Ariel will make herself an obligatory part of each of the space convict's dreams. It is just a matter of when she will show up which adds to part of the fun...

ALIEN INTRUDER is a decent but tedious sci-fi film. There is enough sex, violence, and eye candy to appease connoisseurs of sleaze, but this film has immensely restricted appeal. Despite this movie's flaws, it is still admissible. The film does move relatively fast enough, I suppose. At least Pepin and Merhi have managed to delete those dumb, poorly made (and sung) theme songs. Overall, think of ALIEN INTRUDER as a cross between "Playboy" and THE OUTER LIMITS...just without any sense of reverence...

RATING: ** out of ****.

Quiet Fire (1991) (V)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A reasonably well-done thriller which is apropos, but not exceptional for action genre fans., 30 June 1999

Jesse Palmer (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) was one of the best men ever to serve the military during the Vietnam War. He was one soldier who always straightened out his priorities. In every mission he must accomplish, he will always return a hero, or else...he would not have returned at all... Nearly twenty years later, Palmer is out to prove his worth again...

Palmer knows a secret that is a bit esoteric. What he knows could very well have an impact on the reputation of a well-known politician. What he also knows could essentially endanger the lives of his friends and family. What he knows could put his own life on the line. This politician refuses to let Palmer tarnish his own image...so he decides to mark this loose cannon for death!

Palmer, a Vietnam Veteran must discomfit his ex-commanding officer turned crooked senate candidate named Whalen (Lance Lindsay, a Ted Turner look-alike) from conspiring to turn over part of the U.S. Government to terrorists. Whalen has all the help that he can afford. Mercenaries, assassins, a surveillance tracking system, endless firepower, and hired killers are at this corrupt senator's disposal. Oh yes, and who could forget those two muscular ladies, dressed to kill... Palmer, on the other hand, only has his wits, fists and a few other surprises to help put an end to a greedy politician's guileful schemes. This one innocent man must expose this corrupt senator before he wins the election...

Meanwhile, two dirty cops named Russo (Robert Z'Dar) and Overstreet (Jastereo Coviare) happen to work on the wrong side of the law. They have been hired by Whalen to personally annihilate Palmer himself. Not only is Palmer running from the law, but his girlfriend Jana (Nadia Marie) is inadvertently caught in this whole elaborate chase too. What these two fugitives eventually unveil though is a revelation. The "Quiet Fire" conspiracy is a devious project involving the use of high-tech weaponry for the benefit of America's prime adversaries. American may no longer be of use once their own technology on enemy soil is turned against this country...

They're running out of time!

QUIET FIRE is definitely a low-budget and obscure action flick. There is little, if any substance in this interesting but somewhat hackneyed political action thriller. The plot is OK, but it illustrates miniscule novelty. The performances were adequate, but Karen Black was absolutely astounding in a completely off-the-wall performance. As an eccentric storekeeper, Kim (Black) manages to weasel in a few tried moments of humor in an otherwise straightforward action flick. Robert Z'Dar (MANIAC COP) tries to keep it real, but I could not help laugh at his sometimes histrionic performance as a deceitful cop. Maybe it is my perception, but that insidious senator looks so much like Ted Turner. Perhaps it is a mere coincidence...or could this case of double vision lead to a deeper machination? Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (from the hit TV sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter") keeps his cool here also. Hilton-Jacobs is casually talented behind as well as in front of the camera.

Though the film moves at a plodding pace, this is a reasonably fun motion picture. The action scenes are smooth and well made with well-executed car chases, gun battles, and martial arts fighting. QUIET FIRE contains stronger quality production values than the usual B-movie.

It's trite, it's generic, but it has a well-structured formula. This film works as a routine shoot 'em up action film. QUIET FIRE is pleasing but an often simplistic and plain diversion. This movie is not great by any means, but passable. QUIET FIRE is worth an overnight rental...assuming you have seen about every other action film ever made.

RATING: ** out of ****.

11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Wicked fun!, 27 June 1999

The soul of Satanic serial killer Charles Lee Ray is, by misfortune, incarcerated in the body of a seemingly innocuous doll. Ray's long time girlfriend, Tiffany (the seductive Jennifer Tilly) has found a book titled "Voodoo for Dummies." Now, she has called on the spirits of Hell to revive this left-for-dead doll...and to make him alive and well again!

When everything is botched in a misconstrued matter...Tiffany imminently finds herself in the body of another plastic doll as well. The two notorious murderers, known for their multiple crimes, fall in love again...and the world needs a prayer...

Yes, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) the killer doll is back...and he's out for anyone's blood! Chucky's new bride Tiffany has also found herself enjoying all the twisted, creative murders Chucky has made. Chucky and Tiffany have one goal: to retrieve the "Heart of Omzilla," an amulet that will thus allow both of them to return to their former human selves...

You better watch out! Chucky is no more mister nice guy!

BRIDE OF CHUCKY is a sinister guilty pleasure! The Chucky franchise earns its much desperately needed (and deserved) revision. Thanks to Ronny Yu's (who has directed so many Hong Kong martial arts films) direction and the wizardry of special FX make-up artist Kevin Yagher, Chucky is livelier...and deadlier than ever. Yagher does a great job giving Chucky such human traits and attributes. Chucky is one demonic and realistic character whom I would NOT like to run into in a dark alley! Chucky himself looks especially deformed, with the appropriate stitches on his face and everything. For a pint size villain, he packs one mean attitude! Also, the facial expressions of the killer puppets Chucky and Tiffany are so bizarre, yet wonderfully genuine. One fact for sure, I was impressed by all the elaborate special effects... Hey, you must also adore the cogent and delightfully deviant love-hate relationship between Chucky and Tiffany.

John Ritter (!) is excellent (though unusually cast against type) as an uncompromising Security Chief Officer. Ritter should also earn an award for the best (and most unpredictable) demise. He certainly knows how to be dying in style! Brad Dourif really knows this Chucky character inside out. He delivers the wisecracks with impeccable timing before and after each killing. Alexis Arquette (THE WEDDING SINGER) is in top form as a "Goth" who encounters the devil doll. Jennifer Tilly is one fantastic, nefarious temptress.

There's plenty of bloodletting in this pleasantly entertaining (and sleazy) thriller. Lots of gory murders abound to keep bloodhounds ingratiated. This grotesquely violent and sanguinary film will easily scare away the squeamish. In addition, there are lots of cool (and sometimes subtle) references alluding to other horror flicks. I also learned from this movie that a person should not take love for granted.

BRIDE OF CHUCKY is an imaginative journey into everlasting terror. You will laugh and churn as you witness the brutal slayings as the consequences of this couple's rampage. If you appreciate dark, macabre humor, then this movie is perfect for you! By far the best film in this series. This movie is even better than the original CHILD'S PLAY ...

RATING: **1/2 out of ****.

Eraser (1996)
16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Perfectly acceptable hard-hitting fun!, 25 June 1999

John Kruger, a.k.a. "The Eraser" (The big man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a ferocious U.S. Federal Marshal working as a member for the Witness Protection Agency. His latest assignment is to protect the beautiful and astute Dr. Lee Cullen (Miss America's Vanessa Williams). For Miss Cullen is an employee working for a powerful engineering company specializing in high technological products for the future. This company is responsible for manufacturing powerful laser guns with destructive capabilities and mechanisms which allow these weapons to produce maximum damage. The original intent of these delicate weapons is for military purposes. What Miss Cullen does not know is that there is a conspiracy going on from within the company... Lately, Cullen has evinced an illegal, black market trading and selling of these top secret, laser ray weapons to rogue foreign terrorists... Cullen's life is in jeopardy...she has been targeted for murder...and only John Kruger can save and protect her from imminent threats...by "erasing" Cullen's old identity and implanting a new one...

Robert Deguerin (James Caan), Kruger's superior, has to make sure that everything in this operation is running smoothly and that Kruger does a decent job keeping his eye on Cullen. However, even with the guaranteed safekeeping of her own life by Kruger, Cullen must learn to defend herself from the clutches of her ruthless employer and hitherto unknown criminal mastermind organizing the whole deal alongside with renegade extremists... As well, Cullen learns to trust no one for the government itself may be embroiled in this entire catastrophe...

What predictably follows throughout ERASER is a melange of excessive firepower, brutal fist-fighting, shoot-outs performed with celerity, tons of violent carnage, massive explosions, and nonstop excitement. Yes, ERASER is a definite high testosterone thriller with state of the art effects and a wonderful sense of humor thanks to Arnold's crafty one-liners.

As a chef who owes a "debt of gratitude" to "The Eraser," Robert Pastorelli ( Striking Distance, TV's Murphy Brown ) shines with some spotlight stealing moments also.

ERASER is fun-filled and exhilarating, with a pace that moves lightning fast. However, a paucity of character development or originality in the film's cliché story-line bring this movie down a notch or so. The scantiness of actual substance is sadly common in ERASER. The premise is wonderful, but the product could have been better. The director, cast, and production crew should have been slightly more ambitious with this film's mold...

That having been said, ERASER is a fine treat for male audiences. There's plenty of action, energy, and blood with a fair amount of thrills. Interesting adventure sequences include Arnold parachuting from a burning passenger jet and Arnold again attempting to fight against a myriad of man-eating crocodiles bare-fisted. (Though instead, he had to resort to conventional firearms as weapons.) By the end, when the battle is every man for himself, Arnold's methods of nailing and eliminating the enemy with their own medicine is pure poetic justice!

Some outrageous stunts and special effects, plus the presence of Herculean Arnold Schwarzenegger boost ERASER above complete imbecility. Still, the failure to convey any character depth or meaning into a simplistic plot may classify ERASER as an "escapist" film, but also a "mindless" action film as well. Never once, do the characters convince the audience the gravity of the situation. The performers never persuade the audience to think about the consequences of their actions. Is ERASER a thought-provoking film? Yeah right! ERASER is a standard, "kill or be killed" thriller, nothing more.

Considering Arnold's earlier blockbuster achievements which actually included three dimensional characters such as TOTAL RECALL (1990), TERMINATOR 2, JUDGMENT DAY, (1991) and TRUE LIES (1994), this film is somewhat rudimentary in characterization. For many people though, this quality may not exactly be a setback.

ERASER is a film that is always fun to sit back, watch, and enjoy the action! If you expect anything profound from this movie...try again. ERASER is a cool, better than expected action film with great special effects, two appealing leads, and a package full of car explosions and other assortments of surprises and tricks. Sure, ERASER may not be a "classic" action film, but entertaining, it definitely is. A better plot though, can prove to be very conducive for a film of this caliber...

RATING: **1/2 out of ****.

No Exit (1995) (V)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Formulaic action film with an all too familiar "fight to the death" theme., 24 June 1999

A conspicuous and uninspired retread of Richard Cornell's "The Most Dangerous Game." In spite of that drawback though, FATAL COMBAT has a few strengths and merits that buffer this piece of opus from becoming a total disaster.

Well, here goes, College Professor John Stoneman (Canadian martial artist Jeff Wincott) teaches a course which emphasizes on psychological conflict resolutions. He always dictates the use of moral ethics over violence. While trying to protect his pregnant wife from a gang of obnoxious and murderous thugs, Professor Stoneman is lured and captured by a sadistic entrepreneur of television programming. Here, Stoneman is coerced to participate in a game show that comprises of death matches, fistfights, and run-for-your-life obstacle courses not to mention plenty of booby traps hidden along the way...

Evil, bald and crooked television producer and distributor Armstrong (Richard Fitzpatrick) has designed a most optimum competition meet which forces several fighters of various skills to compete in an eight day tournament being aired live on television across Canada and presumably parts around the world. The contest is called "No Exit," and only the best and strongest of wills can survive this grueling process where tough guys beat the living daylights out of weaklings and even the brave will collapse in disillusion. The current champion of "No Exit" which airs every year is Darcona (Sven Ole-Thorsen). He has a propensity for neck snapping and breaking the spirits out of many of his competitors. He intimidates, then kills his victims like a panther without any remorse...

Stoneman has the temerity to face Darcona, but in a unexpected turn of events, Stoneman has discovered that his wife's soon-to-be born baby has been aborted, attributed to the attack earlier on. Stoneman must keep a calm composure, and somehow, he must fight back against the corporate villains...even if it resorts to breaking the rules...and losing his life...

FATAL COMBAT (also titled NO EXIT) is an interesting clone of "The Most Dangerous Game." This film is surprisingly anemic and mundane for a martial arts showcase. Some rather good fight scenes though and a shrewd, creative touch here and there with the arena and the battle scenarios. The highlights include "The Key," where two opponents race to grab the "key" and thus blow his rival away into shreds. The arena, confined in a small cage where two warriors duke it out with pulse sensory sticks while trying to avoid an electrical, surrounded fence is kind of neat. The brawl at the cafeteria was pretty cool...

What makes FATAL COMBAT a venial though well-intentioned thriller is that the main, robust character and hero, Stoneman normally resolves his conflicts with inner peace and words rather than punches and violence. He manipulates his challengers before they can make their move. However, once Stoneman enters the "No Exit" games, he has no choice but to fight for his life. All his philosophies, his beliefs in non-violent resolutions, peacemaking alternatives, staying unnerved at the face of danger, keeping his provocations inside himself...have vanished once he has competed in the "No Exit" matches. Stoneman was originally someone with high ingenuity and humane rhetoric. Now, all those ideas and thoughts are meaningless and trivial...

Even though FATAL COMBAT tries to deliver a message about only the strongest of souls will survive the fiercest perils, this film has one too many liabilities. First, the low budget does not help though the scenic atmosphere around the Arctic area was well photographed. Second, there are too many cliches which built to a surpassing amount. Stereotyped characters, paltry action sequences, and an involving though trite characterization are examples of the film's banality. Also, what kind of sick individual would also want to rape one of the good guys?

FATAL COMBAT deserves a better criterion. Don't look for anything remotely original or intriguing in this movie. The same effects, situations, and tiresome kicking and hitting are all recycled from earlier films just with different actors trying to repaint and redesign the plot and movie. The cast and director work earnestly with this film; and their message that sometimes, choosing between what is right or wrong can be beneficial as well as detrimental is taken with consideration. Otherwise, this film is labeled with the word "PREDICTABLE" all over it. FATAL COMBAT is in fatal trouble...

RATING: *1/2 out of ****.

A great, electrifying finale to a well-established series., 16 June 1999

In 1978, the most consummate face of evil, Michael Myers, has committed a most incorrigible crime spree ever. Many people have died as a result of his disturbing behavior, many more lives were crushed and dispirited. The only survivor who has managed to witness Myers' fiendish attacks was Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis). All of this horrifying reality took place twenty years ago...

Twenty years later, Laurie Strode must move on. Under the incognito, Keri Tate, Strode has acclimatized herself to a new lifestyle. She now works as head mistress of an elite preppy school in northern California. Laurie Strode, a.k.a. Keri Tate also happens to be an overprotective mother to her teenage son, John (Josh Hartnett). However, there is always a way the past can come back to haunt their prey and wreck vengeance to the first degree... Strode's big bad brother, Myers is back...or is she just suffering from post-traumatic stress which induces hallucinations. Either way, Strode knows that the ultimate manifestation of depravity is stalking her once again...

With most of the students gone for the weekend on a remote trip to Yosemite National Park, Strode is left alone to take care of the school. Still, she manages to bump into a few guests...and not all of them are pleasantly here to stay. Strode is luckily kept company with a kind and gentle psychiatrist and practicing counselor (Adam Arkin). Romance blossoms in the air, permeating throughout the desolate school halls. The remaining few teens also decide to have a slumber sleepover party...much to the scorn and disapproval of Strode. Strode's very own son, and his girlfriend (Michelle Williams) just coincidentally happen to be "left behind." This chance of events though will just aggrandize Myers' wrath...and now, he has an even greater opportunity to amass a higher body count...

The only means of security in this isolated prep school is an incompetent, loony security guard (rapper L.L. Cool J), who keeps his boring life and job preoccupied by reading whimsical love poems to that special someone...

Now, on Halloween night, 1998, someone holding a sharp kitchen knife with a roughneck personality to match is roaming the campus. His cravings for violence and murder may never be ingratiated. Laurie Strode knows that in order to vanquish her fears...she must confront the definitive personification of the "bogeyman," and slay this demon with a huge, powerful axe. Only then, can she overcome her nightmares which have hurt her for these past twenty years...

HALLOWEEN: H20 a.k.a. HALLOWEEN: H20 - TWENTY YEARS LATER is an arbitrarily effective shocker. The seventh installment in the financially successful HALLOWEEN franchising series has the requisite gory murders, i.e. a decapitation, impaling, throat slitting, slashing, et. al. This movie manages to conjure up an ample number of screams from the timid audiences. What abets boosting HALLOWEEN: H20 from the ordinary slasher flick is undeniably the sole presence of Jaime Lee Curtis. She has the charms, wit, looks, and demeanor to make her truly, a scream queen worth "dying for." Jaime Lee Curtis has made a poignant, puissant heroine in this "slash and stalk" flick, and her ability to show a calm countenance in the face of trouble make her a fine and appealing actress. Curtis, no doubt, became one of the horror industry's prime attractions and she should be proud of herself for progressing her own film career so well. Kudos to you, Jaime!

In the beginning, the opening homage to PSYCHO (1960) is amusing and germane. Jaime Lee's own mother, Janet Leigh (PSYCHO) also boasts a cameo in this motion picture. She happens to have only two scenes throughout this whole movie as Norma, Tate's personal assistant. Leigh though, had a gem of a cameo with her role as a smart-mouthed member of the school administration.

HALLOWEEN: H20 possesses decent suspense even if it relies too much on pretentious, false scares. Too frequently, there are so many false alarms in this movie that the audience may eventually lose their patience. They want Myers to show up...and to perform his nightly rituals. Too often, I have admitted ending up cheering for the bad guy once he starts carving up his next, unlucky victim!

Very good acting and the direction by Steve Miner (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 & 3) moves this film at a modest pace. The suspense is steady enough so that the film doesn't fall down quickly into a state of boredom. It is always fun to watch everyone's favorite infamous masked murdered Michael Myers do things his way. He doesn't take any bull from anybody...he just kills them if they stand in his path...in the wake of his own destruction...

HALLOWEEN: H20 is a respectable finale to the popular series. Get ready for chills, thrills, and blood spills! From the murderous spree in the beginning to the unconditional denouncement, HALLOWEEN: H20 is a scary hayride!

RATING: **1/2 out of ****.

Zeiramu (1991)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Another great sci-fi premise with outstanding visuals...but that is barely enough to salvage this anemic picture., 5 June 1999

In the stylized tradition of 1950s Japanese monster movies and the current, popular trendy pastiche of modern Anime comes a fantastic futuristic adventure. Zeram is basically an enormous giant renegade space alien who has done quite a lot of damage aboard on other planets.

Now, Zeram has been lured to Planet Earth, with so many victims at its disposal. The only souls who can abolish this demonic presence are a female space bounty hunter, Ilya (Yuko Moriyama), from Planet Mays, and her highly intelligent albeit obstinate computer, Bob. The two have planned a trap for Zeram, and the showdown will take place in a take-no-prisoners setting inside "The Zone," a virtual reality type environment that is uninhabited, and totally unreal...

The odds are in favor of Zeram, and to make matters a lot more unbearable, two goofballs from an electric company (Yukihiro Hotaru and Kunihiko Ida), have managed to slip by... One of these employees is a Leslie Cheung lookalike. Anyway, Ilya feels very uncomfortable at this moment as the two bumbling clowns serve as the most inconvenient supplements right now...

The battlefield is set. Ilya is armed with a cool warp machine that can travel both dimensions, from the Zone to the Real World. She has a powerful space bazooka, body armor, an electric shield for protection, and plenty of agile moves to knock Zeram off into oblivion! Zeram however has: Mutant dwarves, a bulletproof armor, lasers, servants, and a miniature face within its head that serves as his primary weapon for mass destruction. He eats organic matter, and creates his own army of deformed freaks! Zeram is a grotesque creature, resembling that of a disfigured statue. Every time Zeram is apparently destroyed...he keeps regenerating, looking more disgusting every time... This creature can morph from a slow-moving juggernaut...to a slick moving spider... Zeram and Ilya are at the final match tonight...with the fate of the world hanging in the balance...

ZERAM (The film's original Japanese title is ZEIRAMU.) is an OK flick. Some decorative special effects, machinery, and lots of explosions aggrandize the film. The film is orchestrated with dazzling FX and imagery. The stop motion effects are remarkable as well. Still, despite the flamboyant technology and some rather impressive effects of its kind, the film is unfortunately waived thanks to a lack of invention and a excruciatingly plodding pace. The comedy in this film is extremely lame as well. The acute action and good martial arts skills in this movie are a plus. The gory introduction with people being literally blown away also serves as among the best highlights in this average sci-fi journey.

Even though the flashy visuals are accompanied throughout most of this movie, the film is still, amazingly lifeless and boring. ZERAM takes too long to begin picking up the pace, and although the film runs for only 90 minutes long, the movie drags so consistently that it feels like the feature is going on forever. A fastidious misfire, due to its tepid direction which is short on vigor. Also, by the end, we are very much unclear about the origin of Zeram...and we no longer give either...

This movie's uneven pace is its biggest liability. If that was not there, this movie would have been very much enjoyable and entertaining, assisted with some raw comedy. Still, there's an acceptable premise, but the movie moves way too slowly! Lighting effects, tangible technological materials, and a good musical score orchestrated just BARELY save ZERAM from sinking under its own weight...

RATING: ** out of ****.

The Mummy (1999)
57 out of 73 people found the following review useful:
A paradigmatic horror show guaranteed to keep audiences amazed and breathless., 29 May 1999

From beneath the depths of Hell, the ultimate symbol of evil is about to be reborn. Beyond mortality, beyond death, this creature of the undead will rise. Darkness will fall for all of eternity...and this plague will forever swallow this planet Earth...

About two thousand years ago, in the land of Ancient Egypt, a well-respected high priest known as Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) has been a very naughty man. His one-stand with the Pharaoh's mistress may very well cost him his life. After the Pharaoh discovers this illicit, forbidden love affair, Imhotep and the mistress murder the heartless Pharaoh without second thoughts. As payback though, Imhotep is to suffer the gravest consequences...

Imhotep is eventually sentenced to die a most horrifying death. The Pharaoh's guards have buried him alive inside a tomb, complete with ravaging scarabs and all. What's even worse is that the guards have placed a disturbing curse upon the buried soul. Whoever opens the tomb of this ancient evil will awaken the curse that has lied dormant for thousands of ears. All shall suffer eternal damnation, as the Mummy will release its unstoppable powers upon the lands and onto the cities. His reign of terror will spread...

For twenty centuries, this soul has rested in peace... Jumping forward to 1925, a bunch of foolish archaeologists, driven by profit and ignoring all admonishments, have decided to open the tomb of the wretched Mummy. Well, that decision was foolish... Now, the armies of the dead will inhabit the Earth and evil will take over... Only Colonel Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his brave team of courageous souls can prvent the Mummy's plans to rule the planet. Along with an alluring librarian and inspiring archaeologist (Rachel Weisz), her timid brother (John Hannah), and an even more craven sidekick, Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), O'Connell and his company of wisecracking Smart Alec folks are mankind's last hope. This though, happens to be another incident where the good guys are at the wrong place at the right time. Heaven have mercy on these souls... Will faith spare human lives, or can the world kiss hope goodbye?

THE MUMMY is so much better than I originally anticipated. The special effects alone will blow you away! It is unbelievable how the Mummy is able to transform himself from a rotting, disintegrating corpse to a fully developed supernatural being, and even to a raging sandstorm. Also, those creepy crawly scarabs scare the daylights out of me! The scarabs literally crawl under people's skins! Impressive production values, capturing and recreating the ruins of Hamunaptra at its full glory, serve as another highlight for THE MUMMY.

Sure, there are also the monstrous zombies, the nightmarish flying locusts, and the fallen skies. Yes, there is also the requisite damsel-in-distress (and love interest) who captures Imhotep's heart. The venomous super-villain who must eat the flesh of others in order to survive is a plus as well. However, director Stephen Sommers (DEEP RISING) transcends beyond cliché material. He brings to the audience original ideas with a refreshingly cool tone. He makes sure that there is style within the special effects. The eye-popping FX in general will keep crowds contented, and then some.

It is tough to keep a straight face when watching this movie, but you have to praise Sommers and the cast for letting you have so much fun. Yes, the dialogue is indeed ridiculous as for some of the sequences. One scene that had me chuckling throughout was when all the slaves were synchronically chanting "Imhotep!" Kevin J. O'Connor finds himself having some of the best one-liners as he may eventually switch allegiances and serve a different master. Yes, the humor is somewhat gratuitous, granted. However, in all sincerity, the humor is needed to lighten the film's dark tone.

The acting is more second rate. Arnold Vosloo made a terrific villain and Rachel Weisz lights up the screen with her gorgeous presence. Fraser and O'Connor are great also. The rest of the cast is kind of listless though. In spite of that, THE MUMMY is a spectacular spectacle laced with show-stopping special effects and genuine chills. The music, composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith is pulse pounding and excellent. The orchestration is wonderful during this film's every thread of suspense.

Overall, THE MUMMY is one of the best blockbusters of 1999. Nonstop thrills and surprises galore highlight this enthusiastic, fun-filled entertainment. THE MUMMY has lots of fun and excitement. The only flaw that prevents this film from being a full fledged four star movie is its occasional lapses in credibility and coherence. At times, this film is extremely ludicrous, but who cares, its fanatically fun to watch. Genre fans, take note.

Remember, you cannot keep the dead buried forever...

RATING: ***1/2 out of ****.


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