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The Business (2005)
Lacks any real punch above playing to the Lads Mag Culture
Proudly proclaiming itself to have "More cocaine that Casino, more guns than Goodfellas and more swearing than Scarface", Nick Love's 2005 movie "The Business" is a rags to riches tale of a young criminal who escapes certain jail time to the "Costa Del crime" in Gibraltar and Spain to go into business with a self-made gangster.
The idea that this movie somehow should belong in the same category as Casino, Goodfellas and Scarface seemed a very tall order, and unfortunately it actually serves more as an ironic epitaph as it never even gets to the same level as any of its more famous US counterparts.
Overall, the movie isn't too bad. The plot is interesting and well developed, the characters are well cut and the pace is crisp and to the point; but I felt that there were parts that were obviously tailor made for the Lad's mag market it was quite targeted and marketed at; for this I point to the over-the-top swearing, constant MTV cut-away shots and a wide-boy faux British Cockney gangster attitude that is not only annoying, and frustrating to watch.
As many montages of money, drugs and air-plane drops you can muster will not hide the fact that plot points are glossed over very quickly; the back story of how they, in Spain, got in touch with Columbians drug barons who were seemingly happy to fly the thousands of miles to Spain to do one small deal seemed very unrealistic.
One thing I did like was the political, greasing of the local mayor to ensure their supply is not touched by the police and law enforcement; however when a certain member of the British Cockney gang is "killed" I do wish they'd explain how and who, rather than just going for the big shock value.
Disappointingly, there was very little of the "Costa Del crime" concept that was never really developed; instead the film is really just about a very small group of 30-40 year old's who think they are the biggest thing to ever exist; only for them to realise actually they're just a lot of bark and not much bite.
And this is the main problem I have with "The Business". For all its talk of being a gangster movie, its just a small bunch of mouthy cockney gangsters who play up to the Lad's mag crowd, and shoves in random drug moments and pop-culture references in a bid to make itself edgy and hip.
In addition, the movie looks and feels very cheap; with a limited or low budget it hides its low quality behind the veneer of expensive villas and sunny beaches.
Should this be in the same category as Casino, Goodfellas and Scarface? Nope, not at all; its not even in the same league and my advise would be - if you want to watch a modern gangster movie it's probably best to stick to the American gangster movies or, if you want to watch a British one, see Layer Cake instead.
Overall, the film quality is very poor and the Lad's mag gangster flick's claims to be in the same league as US gangster movies actually serves as a weighty reminder of just how good those movies are, and how poor this is in comparison.
Transporter 3 (2008)
Derivative and predictable
Jason Statham returns in his third outing as "Frank Martin", a "transporter for hire" in what can best be described as derivative, predictable movie where the action is just as fast and frenetic as the previous two outings.
The main problems I have with this movie can be best summarised in this bullet point list; 1) The action is good, but I could only count 3 or 4 main set pieces. 2) The martial arts sequences have been polluted by the same MTV quick edits that plague the Bourne series, and I hate it! Why do directors do this? The plot involves the kidnapping of a politician's daughter, and Jason has been hired to transport the daughter to an unknown location wearing a bracelet that would explode if he left his car.
Indeed the exploding bracelet was the main draw for me in this movie, I was expecting more action sequences, especially with Corey Yuen at the helm.
Instead of the inventive action sequences that one would expect from a Hong Kong production, we get a Hollywood hack story that never gets explored.
For example, in the Sammo Hung TV series Marital Law there is an episode where Sammo is wearing a jacket that will explode if he doesn't stop moving and it lead to quite a few interesting action sequences. Similarly, Hong Kong is packed with inventive ideas tied to a plot device; something deeply lacking with this movie.
I also felt the Derivative and predictable nature of the movie was more of a "template", almost to the point where you can guess what's going to happen next.
I also felt this movie was done quickly, without much thought to fill a gap in the market; it almost felt the producers wanted to cash in on the movie title and just threw some ideas to a wall and wrote a script around whatever was stuck on the wall.
Another thing that may infuriate watchers is the lead actress, Natalya Rudakova who plays "Valentina". I found her irritating and totally unnecessary to the story.
Anyway, if you liked Transporter 1 and 2, and don't mind brainless action fodder, you may enjoy Transporter 3; but if you're looking for something new, exciting and a movie with fresh ideas you may need to look elsewhere.
Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Chris Tucker: The Movie
"Rush Hour 3" is by-the-numbers summer action movie, but by the the time you've left and revisited the other prequels, you'll soon realise just how shallow, empty and pointless this movie really is.
Caught up in development hell, script rewrites and complex salary negotiations, "Rush Hour 3" was always going to be a complex affair. The word was that Chris Tucker wanted $20 million and top-billing for his part.
It seems that his bargaining worked, because instead of a fun summer action movie, we got Chris Tucker yelling, screaming and zinging everyone in sight with his huge voice and overpowering everyone with his ego.
Yes, Chris Tucker in this movie was funny. But he was in almost 90% of the movie... and it seemed it was I was watching "Chris Tucker: The Movie".
The plot of this movie is that the Ambassador of the first Rush Hour is shot by a sniper; leaving clues that ultimately lead to Paris - where Lee and Carter get mixed up with the Triads and Lee's brother.
The plot of this movie is very similar to that of the first "Rush Hour" movie, indeed the Ambassador, his daughter and the whole secretive Triad Mafia all make an appearance in both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 3, indeed - the plot twist at the end (a plot twist that you can see coming a mile off) is even ripped off from the first movie.
Asides from the ripped-off plot and Tucker's loud voice, Chan is left to do very little; there is none of the trademark Chan stunts, none of the flashy martial arts -- Chan is Tucker's "Kato", a sidekick to Tucker's movie; Asides from a few "freerunning" parts and a few fight sequences, Chan doesn't do very much at all! There is also a heck of a lot of CGI in this movie, the para-sailing stunt is so obviously CGI enhanced, and the fight on the structures of the Effiel Tower..
Maybe it was the budget, maybe the film was very rushed (it certainly felt that way), maybe the studio didn't want high octane stunts and wanted it more "family friendly"... maybe Chan is getting very old and can't do the same stunts that his fans expect from every movie he does -- whatever the reason, the fact that Chan's role is diminished and reduced is really depressing, annoying and frustrating - given that you've paid good movie to see a good action movie.
Sometimes I wonder if audiences will get bored of the family-safe action movies such as Die Hard 4.0 and Rush Hour 3... I hope that audiences will demand real action, and not this kind of template mess, which I feel does not add value to either action, or comedy movies.
Yes, "Rush Hour 3" is funny, there are some really good sequences, but asides from Tucker's loud, egomaniac character; there is nothing to see in this movie, and I would advise you to watch it when it comes available to rent.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Enjoyable, but totally flawed in every area.
John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) have spent most of their working life crashing weddings in order to land girls and get laid, but in the middle of a wedding Beckwith falls in love with a Presidential Candidate's daughter (Claire Cleary played by Rachel McAdams) and the movie basically follows Beckwith love affair with Cleary.
In what can only be described as a "Four Weddings and a Funeral" meets "Old School", this is a frat pack movie has plenty of laughs; but it also has a big void.
I felt in watching this movie that I was watching Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn team up, their characters weren't important cause you know it's just Wilson and Vaughn goofing off, trying to out improvise jokes trying to cover up for the fact that there weren't many jokes to begin with.
What also annoyed me about this movie was that Wilson and Vaughn are just too old to be playing Porky wannabe's. This "Frat pack" also contains a brief cameo from Will Ferrell and his inclusion is meant to be a wake up call to Wilson's character; but ends up reinforcing the concept that his character was just an afterthought.
Yes, the movie does have its laughs and outlandish charm. Rachel McAdams has a great smile and the romance between Owen's character and Rachel McAdams is well done.
In the end, McAdams finds out the truth about Owen and Vaughn and forces them to fess up; leaving Owen desperate to tell her how much he loves her and even storms Vaughn's wedding to do this.
The movie could have ended there; but the ending totally ruined the movie -- When Vaughn touts a major wedding they can gatecrash, McAdams's character basically says "let's crash the wedding. Despite the fact I spent the last 30 minutes of the movie hating you for doing that exact thing, and was the main reason for breaking up with you." That whole scene should have been cut out and let them drive off into the sunset.
Overall I found this movie to be enjoyable, but totally flawed in almost every department.
Shao Lin Si shi ba tong ren (1976)
Carter Wong and co take on the multi-chambered labyrinth of the 18 bronze men
As a young orphan, Shao Lung was raised in a Shaolin Temple after his grandmother abandons him there, fearing that an evil General will kill him after killing Lung's father.
Lung spends countless years perfecting his kung fu in order to gain revenge against the cruel General. As he reaches adulthood, Shao Lung decides he must leave the temple to discover the truth about his past and get revenge.
But in order to do this he must he must pass the Shaolin monks most sternest test; the 18 Bronzemen.
The 18 bronze men is a collection of fighters, some of them wearing super thick armour which make them look like robots, others painted in Bronze/Gold paint and fight in different styles within a multi-chambered labyrinth filled with a mixture of deadly traps and deadly fighters.
Once Shao Lung passes the tests (with Carter Wong in exceptional form), the film becomes less entertaining and incredibly boring.
Whilst Tin Peng (Shao Lung) is cast as the leading man, it's clear that Carter Wong is the main man and out-acts, outperforms and outfights Tin Peng at every turn. Indeed, Wong is enjoyable as the star pupil of the Shaolin monastery, barking insults and pushing students to their limit and beyond.
After Shao Lung and Tai Chung are out in the real world there's no more bronze action instead we have the discovery that Shao Lung is in fact the son of a Ming general who was slaughtered by Fei-Lung's evil Ching General (realised in a blistering swordplay flashback).
There's also a poorly developed love interest in the pretty form of Polly Shang Kwan. Polly gets to do some kung fu, and seems to be blessed with an amazing leaping ability.
In addition to this, there is a good sub-plot of a mole within the Shaolin monastery; who feeds the Evil Ching general with information - especially the styles of kung fu that the 18 bronze men use as well a super secret kung fu found by Shao Lung in a book.
When the mole is uncovered to be Lung's childhood best friend, he is aghast and demands to know why his best friend betrayed him -- then comes the most convoluted twist of the movie; the best friend explains that he is the child of a high-ranking Ching soldier and gave an oath to his father, and presumably the Ching empire, that he would kill the child who showed the most zeal for destroying the Ching empire (ie: Lung).
Adding to the twist, Carter Wong explains that he was raised by a bodyguard who saved Lung's father and Wong, like the mole, gave an oath to protect Lung until he got revenge.
This plot twist I found to be confusing, it seemed like Lung's destiny was to remove the General from power; sorta like Luke Skywalker. But it did seem a bit strange that Lung was predestined to do all this, and all the people surrounding him were predestined to help Lung achieve his goal. Maybe the scriptwriters wanted to portray Lung as a Prodigal Son -- it didn't really work out.
The end has an excellent, climatic four-way showdown with the Evil Ching General (and, for some reason, his many clones); who has learnt the skills of the Shaolin monks and constantly changes his style until Carter sacrifices himself, leaving the General open to be killed.
The 18 Bronzemen has impressive production values and looks pretty expensive in places, and although the outcome is never in much doubt, the climatic four-way showdown is well-staged by Kuo.
My issue with this movie is that that 18 bronze men do not offer any real threat to the heroes in this movie. They should have been the personal bodyguards of the Ching General, or at least try to kill the heroes; too many times you hear a voice boom "PASS!" as the Bronzemen stop fighting and let the heroes move to the next room.
Although a reasonable fun film, this 70's kung fu movie lacks real danger and wasn't the classic all-out kung fu movie I was lead to believe.
Satan's Cheerleaders (1977)
So what was this film actually about?
One night I couldn't sleep and I suddenly found myself watching "Satan's Cheerleadeers" thinking it was one of those Russ Myer films but I could get over just how bad it was. Badly acted, badly shot, woeful film quality and a total bemusement of what was going on.
At one stage it's a "horror" film which is never scary and on the other it uses "sexy" cheerleaders who seem to give sultry looks, stand with their weight on one leg professing about sex in a deeply Russ Myer way - that would have been okay if the story made any sense or, indeed went anywhere.
This film was just awful, woeful and just plain bad.
Knight Rider 2000 (1991)
So where's KITT?
So they decided to make a Knight Rider TV movie with no budget, no action, no stunts and they decided to play it very seriously.
An American future without guns sounds like a good idea for a b-movie, but in a TV show that had tactical nuclear warheads being sold on the black market to shady businessmen every week you kinda expected a bit more from this lacklustre, banal TV movie.
There's no KITT, they've replaced the famous Black Trans-Am with some red car that does NO STUNTS whatsoever. Devon is killed by the bad guys, but should have just retired.
This movie is so bad, so awful, so woeful that I dread to think what the much rumoured "new" Knight Rider movie, Knight Rider 3000, will be like - if its anything like this it'll burn and burn badly.
The Medallion (2003)
Chan's fall from 80s/90s action hero to 00 bore draw continues...
Since Chan moved from Hong Kong to Hollywood, it seems he's carved himself into an impossible situation where directors, screen writers and producers seem to want Chan to do virtually the same plot, ideas and stunts with a little "twist" or as we like to call it, the fish-out-water plot.
I feel that Jackie's fall from the mega heights of 80s and 90s action hero to a bore draw continues in this film, which has elements of different ideas from different films put together for (what was deemed at the time to be) the most expensive Hong Kong movie of all time - although I can't really see where the money was spent.
In fact it feels like they put a bunch of ideas into a hat and pulled out words to form a plot, story and said "okay, let's throw in some Matrix sci-fi CGI and that will do". The result is credulous to say the least.
Chan also, like other films before, surrounds himself with younger women in this case, the fantastically eye-pleasing Claire Forlani (and her very striking eyes), although this eye candy doesn't help with the plot, which looks and smells like a poor-man's version of the Golden Child.
I didn't really like this movie the CGI took too much away from the danger, risk and stunt work that we all know Chan for. Indeed, CGI has already taken so much away from stunt work that I think this film underpins the very reason why audiences do not feel the same when they see a "real" stunt compared to one done with CGI the reason is quite simple, CGI stunts offer no connection between the viewer and fear.
Overall, this movie has its moments but they are few and far between, this film highlights Chan's fall from action hero to a children film hero - bore draw.
Chan's recent eagerness to get back to Hong Kong dramatic movies and hard nosed action spectacular show that he is coming back but I think the damage might already been done because of poor films such as The Medallion.
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
The war on drugs gets a Machiavellian make-over.
In a Machiavellian storyline, Jack Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) is embroiled in a political agenda to cut off the Columbian Drug Lords and get "revenge" for the US president - whose friend was been murdered by "drug tsar" Ernesto Escobedo (played very well by Miguel Sandoval).
The plot is very good and reminds viewers that even politicians can be the bad guys - but I think it overplayed the whole "Ryan is good", perhaps Clancy was annoyed by the rhetoric of politicians and decided to write a novel about it.
The action sequences are very well done too, but it tries too hard to be a suspenseful political action-adventure movie by incorporating ideas and themes from all the other Jack Ryan movies and putting them into one box.
I don't mind the fact its not the book, I thought this was a very good film about political agendas and the war on drugs.
During the film we see Escobedo and Ryan team up - but I thought this would be a novel thing to have in future films and novels - Ryan's contact in Columbia just happens to be the country's top drug lord....but it was not to be.
Anyhow - I thought this was a good political action-adventure movie that perhaps tried a little too hard on the action.
Hollywood proves again that it has money to burn.
Okay, I'll be honest, I didn't like the first Charlies Angels movie - it was too fluffy, but I did like the action, some of the jokes, and most importantly I enjoyed Crispin Glover's Thin Man.
So what happened in the second movie? It seems the movie producers just drove a dumper truck filled with money and said they wanted to make a summer action movie without actually thinking about how the audience is actually meant to enjoy a movie that is more about personal ego than it is about the story, plot or stunts.
In this sequel, the girls are hired by the government to recover two small rings that hold the entire list of people on the witness protection scheme. I don't know about you but I felt it was odd that so much data could be stored into such small rings, not only that - they were so damn easy to steal too! Then we get to the whole subplots of Dillion's romance with an Irish thug and how she can't kill him but can easily kill 1,000 other random men. The thin man makes a welcome return but doesn't actually do anything. He now is a complete joke. I mean, he was almost cool in the first and now we have a joker. This movie really shows that executives don't really care about this movie. I don't even think the stars cared either.
Then we get to the stunts and the overall dumbing down of the whole kung fu. In the first the kung fu was fresh and demanding. Now we can see the quick cutting between frames when the girls are fighting and the way the girls' arms are bending when they punch. Then we have Demi Moore as the Evil Charlies Angel.
Okay, she was good in a sort of pretty kind of way - but her "knowing of the Charlie's Angels' fighting style" was not really used as well it could have been. Instead Moore uses twin gold Desert Eagles (which she struggles to keep up) and cries about how Charlie didn't really love her and how she had ambition to become more than an angel. Okay, but why exactly does this make her the bad person? The end fight sequence is pretty lame too. Why is Diaz the only character to be able to fight Moore? I think the director should have watched the ending of Jackie Chan's "Project A" where three heroes face one super-bad guy, the director could have had a similar sequence, but instead ruins it with a homage to "Hollow Man"...
Despite all this, the movie and its potential - it is ruined a lot by the bad stunts ruined by badly rendered CGI. I still remember with affection movies like Blue Jean Cop and some of the earlier Jackie Chan movies where stunts meant action and action meant danger. So why has Hollywood forgotten about it? I don't know, all I know is that in this movie, we are proved once again that Hollywood has money to burn.
Overall this movie is rated a 1/10.