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Poor Chow Yun-Fat: he pays his dues in HK cinema, rising to Asian
superstar, and gets a crack at Hollywood fame only to share the
limelight with an ex-boy-band singer/underwear model in a mediocre
The Corrupter, directed by James Foley, opens promisingly enough with a shootout in a shop that could have been straight out of a John Woo movie, but soon settles into tedious mode with the introduction of Mark Wahlberg, who exudes all the personality of a dim sum dumpling. Wahlberg plays cop Danny Wallace, assigned to the Asian Gang Unit in New York, working alongside Lt. Chen (Yun-Fat), who is in the pocket of the Tong triads. It eventually turns out that Wallace is internal affairs, his job to collect the dirt on Chen, but predictably, he comes to realise that although Chen isn't playing by the rules, he isn't such a bad cop after all. Yawn.
There's quite a lot of shooting, with satisfyingly bloody squib-work, and a half-decent car chase scene midway that results in the deaths of numerous innocent bystanders, but this is heavily outweighed by the forgettable drama, which isn't helped by some dreary guff about Wallace's strained relationship with his father (played by Brian Cox). It wouldn't be long before Chow Yun Fat returned to his homeland to make films, and judging by The Corrupter, who could blame him?
Slasher flick Most Likely To Die features a pretty cool killer: clad in
graduation gown and cap, face hidden by a papier-mâché mask constructed
from cuttings from an old yearbook, he kills his victims using the
sharp edges of his mortar board (throwing it on occasion like Oddjob in
Goldfinger). When he's not using his hat to kill, he resorts to a
retractable craft knife to cut throats. This means that there are some
pretty decent death scenes, including one character having her neck
severed before being completely decapitated by the maniac (who uses his
bare hands to complete the job), and another having a broken hockey
stick jammed into his mouth before the obligatory throat slashing.
Unfortunately, a memorable psycho and some reasonable gore is about all the film does have going for it. The rest of the film is an exercise in sheer mediocrity, with extremely obnoxious characters, stilted dialogue and mundane action in which the soon-to-be-dead repeatedly split up to put themselves in peril. The cast range from the reasonable to the completely wooden, with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (as camp alcoholic Freddie) the most unbearable (unsurprisingly). The most recognisable 'proper' actor, Jake Busey, is one of the first to die, ending his suffering way before the viewer's.
Two very attractive but rather undernourished young women, Stephanie
and Ellie (Amber Heard and Odette Yustman), are cycling across
Argentina when they run into a spot of bother with some nasty locals
who are abducting and transporting female tourists into Paraguay for
use in the sex trade.
And Soon The Darkness is an Americanised version of Robert Fuest's 1970 British thriller of the same name. I'm okay with that in principle since I imagine the original film hasn't been seen by the vast majority of people, but what I'm not okay with is the inevitable straying from Fuest's film (which was written by Brian 'The Avengers' Clemens and Terry 'Doctor Who' Nation) into typical modern, xenophobic teen horror territory.
As the film progresses, the script becomes more and more predictable, and the characters dumber and dumber, making the film about as mediocre as it could possibly be. Director Marcos Efron makes good use of his rural locale, with an abandoned town providing atmosphere, and gets his two hotties into their bikinis, but my advice is, unless you're a big fan of the girls in question, check out the original instead: it also features two fine looking ladies (Michele Dotrice and Pamela Franklin), but is a much better film.
Six months after his father is killed by a low-flying motorcycle,
precocious 18-year-old Kid (played by 29-year-old Derek Luke) returns
to the urban biker scene, forming his own MC clubthe camp-sounding
Biker Boyzso that he can claim himself the title of The King of Cali,
currently held by biker legend Smoke (Laurence Fishburne).
Clearly intended to glamorise the motorbike road racing scene in the same way Fast and the Furious films did for street car racing, Biker Boyz is a howlingly bad coming-of-age drama interspersed with ridiculous race scenes, all told without the slightest hint of irony. It's such a stereotypical stinker, packed to the rafters with rebellious teen clichés, that I couldn't help but enjoy myself just a bit.
The good: the roving camera-work (especially the opening tracking shot), the trick-tastic bike riding, Meagan Good's cleavage.
The bad (and consequently rather amusing): Kid Rock as a white trash biker named Dogg, an out-of-shape Laurence Fishburne beating up ripped Derek Luke, those nasty yellow Biker Boyz jackets, the lavish biker parties, the laughable dialogue loaded with ebonics. Tru dat.
31 opens with a quote from Kafka. Pretentious, moi? Then some dude
wearing white face paint tries to bore another bloke to death by
talking a load of old claptrap to him; when that doesn't work, he
whacks him with an axe instead. It later transpires that the axe-happy
chappie with the bad attitude and teeth to match is Doomhead, one of a
group of psychos paid to hunt and kill unwilling participants in an
annual game organised by some twisted geriatrics in powdered wigs. In
the latest game of 31, a group of carnival folk fight for their lives
against a variety of foes, including a Nazi midget, a tall bloke in
suspenders and a tutu, and a pair of chainsaw wielding loonies.
Having suffered through both of Rob Zombie's Halloween movies, I approached 31 with trepidation, longing for a return to form for the director who gave us the fun House of 1000 Corpses and the excellent The Devil's Rejects, but expecting the worse. Sadly, Zombie met my expectations: a wafer thin plot that lacks originality (check out Maurice Deveraux's $lasher$ for a much better take on the deadly game-show theme), horrible characters (the protagonists are so scuzzy I actually wanted them to die), trite grind-house affectations, and repetitive, uninspired action made this one a real chore to watch. C'mon Zombie, I know you can do better than this lazy, predictable tosh.
Train To Busan can be summed up in four words: zombies on a train. But
what director Sang-ho Yeon does with this simple premise is extremely
impressive, giving the somewhat tired zombie genre another jolt of
Using his confined locationa packed intercity trainto maximum effect, Yeon expertly ramps up the tension, the living gradually whittled down to a handful of passengers fighting for survival against the slavering undead (a bit like taking the last train home from Waterloo on a Saturday night).
There are some great ideas present that really add to the excitement, such as the zombies getting confused whenever the train enters a tunnel and swarming in numbers to break through barriers (with special effects easily on a par with those in World War Z). Surprisingly, the gore quotient is very low, but with such a rollicking pace, the lack of blood really isn't an issue.
Perhaps a touch too long at almost two hours to be perfect, Train to Busan is nevertheless one of the better zombie films to come out in recent years. Highly recommended. 8.5/10, rounded up to 9 for IMDb.
Professional driver Frank (Jason Statham) is forced to transport
Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), the kidnapped daughter of a Ukrainian
minister, from Marseilles to Odessa; on the way, he tries to figure out
how to remove the explosive bracelets that have been attached to their
wrists, is challenged by gun-toting henchmen sent by the girl's father,
and has some sexy time with his pretty passenger.
Transporter 3 is even more far-fetched than the previous movie, with logic taking a back-seat for the entire journey, meaning that it's really, really, REALLY dumb (which explains why Nuts, Zoo and News of the World all gave it four stars); it also suffers from diabolical direction and editing, with wobbly camera-work and fast flickering cuts ruining all of the action scenes, the high-speed car chases and stunts utterly chaotic and the fights (which include yet another battle in a garage between Frank and countless thugs) nothing more than a boring rapid-fire blur of fists and feet.
Frank the transporter (Jason Statham) has a cushy job ferrying an
irritating rich kid to school and back, but when criminal mastermind
Chellini (Alessandro Gassman) decides to abduct the boy, the ex-special
forces driver goes to the rescue, uncovering a devious plot to kill a
room full of top politicians.
I really enjoyed the first Transporter movie: it had just the right level of craziness to the action scenes and Statham played his part to perfection, his grim seriousness counteracting some of the more absurd moments. This sequel, however, verges on Crank territory (gack!), with its attempts to outdo the first film making it absurd in the extreme.
As Frank attempts to locate the antidote for a virus that has been injected into the kidnapped kid by the film's loathsome villains, he performs countless superhuman feats that make one wonder whether he is secretly a member of the X-Men. Whether leaping a vehicle from one building to another, flipping a car to detach a bomb from its underside, or surviving a headlong jet plane crash into the sea, Frank is clearly indestructible. It's all several steps too far, sapping the film of any genuine excitement.
Frank (Jason Statham) earns his living as a transporter, a driver who
operates on the wrong side of the law, making deliveries of any kind,
no questions asked; but when Frank breaks one of his own rules by
opening a package en route, his ruthless employers decide to silence
him using any means necessary.
Jason Statham has some pretty lousy titles in his filmography (the preposterous and tiresome Crank movies, the disappointing The Expendables), as do director Corey Yuen (the mediocre So Close, the abysmal Blade of Kings) and producer Luc Besson (the awful Arthur and the Invisibles). The Transporter, however, sees all three on top form, their film providing an hour-and-a-half of exhilarating, knowingly dumb comic-book nonsense, star Statham playing his part perfectly, with an admirable sense of seriousness despite the patent silliness of the action (unlike his irritatingly OTT performances in the Crank films).
As the story progresses, the gunfights, fist fights and explosions get bigger and better, with logic never allowed to get in the way of spectacle. Statham looks every inch the action hero and handles his martial arts scenes convincingly, the best being a hugely enjoyable battle against numerous foes that makes use of a couple of barrels of grease and a pair of bicycle pedals. Bringing a bit of glamour to proceedings is the lovely Shu Qi, who plays the contents of the package that gets Frank into so much trouble.
While spending the weekend with friends at a remote house in the
country, Bruce (Bruce Campbell) unwittingly violates an Indian burial
ground, thereby unleashing a vengeful spirit that possesses his body
and proceeds to attack his pals one by one.
Within the Woods is director Sam Raimi's practise run for The Evil Dead, an extremely low budget thirty minute horror that lays down many of the ideas and film-making techniques that Sam and his team of enthusiastic friends would use in the making of their infamous 1981 video nasty.
Although the film is extremely rough around the edges, it will undoubtedly provide half an hour of fun for fans of all things 'deadite' thanks to the the involvement of many familiar Evil Dead names and faces, the familiarity of the material, and, of course, a fair smattering of gore.
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