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|28 reviews in total|
I don't know what movie the reviewers are seeing, and the commentaries
border on moronic babble. RESIDENT EVIL represents one thing clearly,
that is the generation gap between lovers of good b-movies and horror
and the younger folks who don't have the background to dig what RE
What the stupid slobbering gore-twits and the "film" snobs are missing is
true, uncompromising nature; no self-referential, humorous one-liners or
revision of the Zombie Attack genre. RE revels in understanding what is
the living dead.
That understanding? The impending attacks, the coming of the zombies, their craven need. Zombie movies prey psychologically: they are out there, they will not stop, they want us, they ARE us. That's the horror behind the Zombie, that's what makes the Zombie truly unstoppable--as long as we exist, the Zombies will exist.
The attack scenes are hardcore enough, coupled with any lifelong Zombie lover's imagination, to provide the truly impressive tension that drives RE. All credit for that should go to Anderson the director and writer: he manages a strong, kinetic movie devoid of the worst of horror cliches--in fact, Anderson manages to respect the audience enough to give them genuinely eerie imagery; I had no problem accepting the world of the Hive, of the Umbrella Co, and of the T-Virus.
And Milla Jovovich is superb; a fantastic actress entering her prime gig in RE. She manages to show human frailty even as she displays very cool martial abilities. Jovovich is simply perfect as a beautiful woman discovering that she is a high-level professional killer as unstoppable as the waves of zombies that descend on her.
Anyone who loves good, solid, uncompromising horror films should check this out (uncompromising up to a point, of course; at certain points, gore in grand quantities SHOULD have come, for the story dictates it; the gore is minimized, and you can thank the same board restrictions that have voided most realistic violence and sex from films and replaced it with cartoons--a Zombie movie is a gore movie, and at some point, as Romero knew, you have to show just how awful it is to be eaten alive). But let me say this: I'm willing to pass up on the hardcore viscera in order to get a full-bodied, enjoyable, and non-idiotic horror movie. I'll even accept the poor CGI on the inhuman monsters, the non-zombies, to get zombies back on the screen again.
Certainly RE is a step in the right direction. For everyone wishing for the return of the horror film to full popularity, RE's as good as it gets. As the 1950s science fiction movies led to the '60s psycho fests and then to '70s mind-blowing blood-letting, all gore-hounds should keep in mind that good Zombie movies without the intestines will only open the door to movies that DO contain those scenes, and for all other American films to loosen the restrictions. But RE proves it isn't necessary, and even if we don't see the flesh tearing and the brains blowing out of the back of the head, our minds perceive it, and our minds are where the zombies have always fed most heartily.
Excellent movie. Don't miss it.
In the film PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, there is an undeniable
dread, a very real sense of terror, in every scene. Despite the
lack of money, Bava wrung some eerie, disturbing imagery out of
sf schlock piece. Considering this is an Italian production of the mid-60s,
Bava infuses some real originality into his story, taking a 1950s crew
square-jawed astronauts and forcing them to confront the future of horror: a
horde of gore-streaked
zombies, an omnipresent supernatural force invading the crew's minds,
a nihilistic ending.
What is great about POTV stems from Bava, his dynamic camera, and his framing. The marooned spacecraft atop a craggy hillside, approached by rescuing astronauts, looks like a haunted house against the black-clouded sky of the planet. When the living dead begin stalking the pitted, fiery surface of the planet, intent on killing the astronauts, Bava effectively uses the new horror icons of fear: not of fear, but of zombiefication, of characters who could be us, once just human, but now horribly returned as mutilated living corpses set to kill friends and family.
PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is exciting, arresting in places, and nuanced in small ways even by the actors involved, all of them physically fit with numerous fight scenes. Sullivan and Bengall aren't creating their
characters, but they react realistically as human beings in an increasingly hopeless situation. The final scenes, of the
astronauts attempt to escape the planet, set upon by the living dead, have a psychological edge to go along with the action, as these noble travelers overcome their fear of the planet, of the zombies, and the horrible prospect of becoming zombies themselves, in order to end the hungering menace all around them. These scenes predate the best of George Romero's DEAD films or any John Carpenter flick, where a group of survivors are whittled down to just a few, and then to one, by a wave of seemingly unstoppable supernatural force.
It should be noted that "vampires" refer to parasites, not classic monsters, and truly this is more of a "zombie" film than a "vampire" movie. The film Bava made is gory and violent for 1965 when it was released, and as interesting as it was then, it's just as interesting now to see how POTV influenced later horror-film greats, not only in theory but in execution. And it's still better than 95 percent of the recent Hollywood sf-horror films of the past decade, bar none.
This film is about a specific type of people, professional thieves, who are
operating in a very rigid and single-minded world: they live to make what is
yours, theirs. The men who make up the professional criminal's population
are varied, with intelligence not required, but a brute determination to get
a job done, get what you are after, and get away from the scene, a must for
success and survival.
Percentages are against heist-men, and Hackman's pro trouble-shooter Moore is becoming unusable the older he gets: sooner or later, he's bound to be caught or killed. All the men in Moore's string, Lindo and Jay in particular, are muscle and legs for Moore's articulated plans, they carry it out in physical form while Moore plots his plan B for every conceivable occurrance. In this final blowout of his entire professional career, Moore uses all of his careful deceptions and manipulations as he attempts to rip off a Swedish gold shipment, avoid cops, and deceive the financing shark DeVito who won't let Moore quit the life.
Many commentors on this movie seem confused by David Mamet's writing of these characters, but Mamet does a fabulous job of pointing out the operating mind-set of pro thieves, the violence of hard men working together to obtain a very clear goal, money, while staying out of prison. Mamet states this mind-set most clearly when Hackman's Moore refuses to kill a bank clerk during a robbery, a witness who can identify him, and yet when faced with other professionals who understand the rules and are trying to steal his money, Moore kills them without hesititation. This is part of the understanding among these men, and they accept it in order to survive.
Outside of the Parker novels of Donald Westlake, this is one of the best views of the working relationship among heisters. The interactions are realistic; if Mamet fails, it's where he often fails, in the motivations and decisions of Moore's woman, Fran. Yet here Mamet does again show off a knowledge of a particular kind of woman in a particular kind of world. Fran comes across as a woman undergoing a conflict, based on her life up until now, her understanding of the rules in this world, that a woman is only as good as the criminal she's latched onto; caught in the situation with Moore, who is aging, and who must leave the country to avoid arrest, Fran is loyal up until the moment in which she doubts that Moore really loves her, that in fact he may only be using her as a tool...it's that conflict which makes Fran seem confused, a liability to the film itself. But Fran isn't a liability, and even though Moore trusts her, he makes sure he plans around the possibility of Fran betraying him. Always have a plan B, as Moore points out.
HEIST is a well-executed, uncompromising crime film that isn't being cute with the characterizations, nor does it attempt to imbue the men with sympathy. Like most people, the men outside of the profession have women, some family, a boat, things they care about. It's the one weakness in all of them, that they are human, that gets them taken down in one form or another. Not being machines, the criminals, even pros, make mistakes. Joe Moore turns out to have even more weaknesses than some, but he compensates for them by figuring a way out, or around, the problems of being too-attached, too-trusting. In the end, Moore is a professional, and does whatever he has to to get the final payoff and escape. It's an effort of will that borders on divine, and Hackman makes the divine seem effortless.
THE ONE contains everything any lover of b-movies or 70s exploitation can
want, at least within the context of the genres at hand. As any writer worth
his salt can take a tired type of story and imbue it with a new angle, or
original treatment, Jet Li manages to elevate the too-brief material at
hand. Delroy Lindo is making a career out of reinventing genre characters
(his turns in THE ONE and HEIST are excellent, and understated).
Concerning the Multiverse Theory, my understanding of the alternate universes, and the impact of death (strength, speed, intelligence) on the surviving Others: it's suggested by many who've seen the movie that the Multiverse Theory doesn't stand up, that with EVERY death in an alternative world, this "energy" is dispersed until the last remaining Self would become the superhuman One, the culmination of all the energies. Meaning you'd have invalid old men, the last of the alternate Selves, in nursing homes with the strength of 100-plus men, ect.
However, Yulaw (ONE's villain) is creating an abnormal, UNNATURAL dispersal of this energy by murdering his alternative selves. He's initiating a break in the space-time continuium that is causing, for whatever b-movie reason, the immediate multiplication of strength. There's nothing in THE ONE which suggests that a natural dispersion of the Energy, from the natural flow of each relative timeline (how each version of Yulaw will die in each different world) will cause the Yulaw Effect, or the superhuman abilities. This is glitch in the Multiverse, not in the storyline, and even the Multiverse Agents don't know why it happens, or the eventual outcome, if and when what is not supposed to occur DOES occur, and Yulaw manages to become the last remaining being containing all those life forces. This is a CRIMINAL act, as well as scientific heresy, at least in b-movie terms.
Though THE ONE probably shouldn't be studied so closely, it seems that this faulty Multiverse logic is part of the reason some reviewers take the movie apart. Also, it's the fault of the moviemakers for not making it clear. Of course, they probably had no idea anyone would care, when you've got the spectacle of Jet Li fighting Jet Li, and motorcycle cop-swatting, and such.
These days, it seems every reviewer or would-be reviewer wishes to
pigeon-hole the films they see, just as every would-be producer when they
pitch their movie idea to the executives. Such is most reviews of THE ONE,
in which the film is unfairly judged and summarized, as in "THE ONE is a
combo of TERMINATOR plus MATRIX meets THE ELEPHANT MAN taking on JESUS
CHRIST SUPERSTAR with a little PUMPKINHEAD and a dash of TICK TICK TICK!"
Shut up already. It's a disgustingly pinheaded view of films, and not a
review or comment on the film at hand, merely a summary of what it LOOKS
like. Now to talk about THE ONE.
THE ONE is an impact film, meaning its nature is to physically overwhelm and inawe the viewer. Jet Li puts in some good work here, despite his difficulty with language barriers; Li does what many famous kung-fu movie stars are able to do, and that's to distinguish his emotions through his body, through physical ferocity or weakness. In that, Li is excellent here, showing at all times a human being behind the power of his techniques.
Most critics who do not respect the type of movie this is will completely miss Jet Li's presence behind the superhuman battles; that's why Yulaw, is the film's protagonist: It is Li's actor persona, Jet Li as a downright hero, that makes his turn as the villainous Yulaw so fascinating; there is not much difference between Yulaw and the good Li, Gabe, in our world, except Gabe is married and it is his love of his wife that fulfills him; without her, he would be Yulaw, a violent man hungering beyond time and space. Yulaw's desire to possibly become a god once he's accumulated all the life energies of his alternate selves is a realistic endeavor for a man such as he is: a special law-enforcement officer, a sublime martial artist, a physical man who spends every free moment practicing his wushu technique. A man obsessed with what he does not have: a center, a heart, a love.
This type of man WOULD be driven to assassinate his useless "other" selves, all wasted energy in a chaotic universe; Yulaw himself, once part of a superior police force to watch over not one but multitudes of universes, becomes a vicious, uncompromising killer...who also happens to be a martial artist, a life choice requiring vast degrees of self-control and regimented training...this kind of man would obviously see wasted energy as criminal, and his drive to accumulate and refocus that energy is not cardboard villainy but merely Yulaw's self-discipline taken to a cosmic scale. Yulaw doesn't want to be "God" in the classical sense, he just wants to elevate his internal and external fighter's prowess to the highest possible level imaginable...ultimately of course to feed his ego, which is Yulaw's fatal flaw.
There's a lot going on in this terse, lightning-fast plot, but it depends on what you're looking for. Jet Li's performance is typical of him and extraordinary as a human being: the man is simply a walking encyclopedia of fight technique. The non-superhuman roles, of his wife, or the pursuing Multiverse Agents Lindo and Statham, or the many many policemen (the film's major fault, too many police waving guns, all seeming buffoonish and crushable as roaches; too much of the movie has cops moving around with their pistols in front of them while we wait for the superhuman Yulaw to smash them, all of the viewers knowing the guns are useless against Yulaw and yet so much of the movie spent Wondering When rather than hoping anybody with a gun actually has a chance) all perform basic functions to the superhuman rumble between Yulaw and Gabe, bad and good Li.
Again, these characters have limited life-spans and short histories, and the fact remains that neither Yulaw nor Gabe has time to wonder who their friends are, or mourn for the dead. One man will die, another man will become The One, and that ascendancy is imminent and demanded by universal laws of space and time: theories, like objects, stay in motion...the obsessed Yulaw cannot halt his desired ascendancy to possible godhood (or destruction of all universes, since no one knows what will happen when he becomes The One), and neither can Gabe, who also grows more powerful as the life energy of 123 murdered alternate selves is divided equally between himself and Yulaw.
Last and not least, there's the final confrontation between Yulaw and Gabe. A very cool, very solid climactic fight that uses wire work but stays grounded in reality, albeit heightened superhuman reality; the fight never becomes a cartoon, thankfully, and as in the whole of the film, whatever cliches Roger Ebert mentions are few (all right, the whole cat-jumping-at-the-camera-to-startle-the-audience is downright unforgivable, but that's hackwork on the director/writer's part) and there is nothing cliche about Li's performance, and given how badly science fiction's been translated to the screen, this film is at least not a complete embarrassment and doesn't pretend to be Arthur Clarke.
This is good work by Li. And though not everything not-Li (plot, characters, emotional resonance) is as cool as it could have been, THE ONE manages to be solid and avoids being insultingly stupid, a genre movie made by smart people who want nothing more than to blow viewer's minds with a workmanlike science fiction premise and the awesome skill of Jet Li. For the true lover of genre film, THE ONE is a grand delight.
Lance Henrikson's Frank Black characterization is probably one of the
greatest acting jobs one is likely to see. Not only was "Millennium" the
most realistic, thought-provoking series ever produced (especially the
second season), but Henrikson as Frank Black created a living, breathing
human to counterbalance the paranormal aspects of it: strength and
intelligence in his work as an investigator, loyalty and protective care
above all to his wife and his child...sustained through the first two
seasons, when Morgan and Wong wrote a huge chunk of the series, lost forever
when the 3rd season began.
The second season set up a scenario in which Frank Black comes into direct conflict with the private agency he contracts for, the Millennium Group and his contact Peter Watts whose ambiguous role reveals the true warring factions behind all the borderline paranormal activities Black has encountered. The waring factions, both anticipating the Biblical endtimes, are the Owls and the Roosters, differentiated by their beliefs in the coming Apocalypse (Owls remain watchful, ready, protective of the mundane world faced with the building supernatural forces, while the Roosters are reactionary militarists zealously assured that the Apocalypse has already begun, and only they have prepared...). Frank Black's discoveries culminate in one of the most horrible living nightmares ever suffered by a fictional character in any medium, as a biological weapon is released in Washington state, a wind-carried plague similar to ebola, only more severe and instantaneous in its effects.
That second season ended with Frank Black and his family taking to the hills, cutting themselves off from humanity as this Blood Plague consumed the cities. When the final episode ended, the full unrelenting horror of Frank Black's existence was unforgettably etched: he had lost one of his most loved to the plague, and he was slack-faced, hair turned white, isolated in a cabin with the whole world succumbing to this unstoppable disease. This was the most devastatingly shocking thing imaginable, not a hallucination, not a dream. Real was the horror, and everlasting.
Then Morgan and Wong left the show with this impossible scenario to either solve, deal with, or simply ignore by cancelling the show altogether. There was no way to go back. Truly, this cataclysmic ending to the second season was the most uncompromising, gutsy move ever, on television especially. Of course, considering the fact that the huge audience for Morgan and Wong's other affiliation, "X-Files", did not watch "Millennium", nor did anyone else, it really was not a gutsy move to end the second season with a full-blown Apocalypse, since this wasn't Fox Mulder watching Scully's blood explode from her body through her pores as Plague devoured her. The public never would stand for an Apocalypse, a change so radical, in something so popular as "X-Files", though many would argue that's exactly what "X-Files" needed and still needs..
"Millennium" did not survive its own Apocalypse, for the greatest cop-out in any film or series occurred when the execreble 3rd season began, and the Blood Plague became an isolated event, Frank's loss bypassed by "six months" in which he'd spent under psychiatric care. Gone was the Millennium Group, Peter Watts, Lara Means, the Apocalypse...replaced by bad writing, cliche stock characters, and a complete loss of any kind of respect for the complex themes and issues of the human condition raised in the first two years.
This series came along and revealed truths about human motivations and monstrosity, as well as the depths of loyalty and deception, centered around one of the most well-crafted, solid series protagonists to be found in fiction. To this day, and probably as long as I live, I will be haunted by the questions raised during that last episode of the second year, concerning a non-existant character in a television series who had been shattered by events he could not avoid, left clutching what remained while all the demons and monsters he'd always feared and fought against slowly and inexorably engulfed the Earth. The effect of Frank Black and this series cannot be measured, personally. But the second season is as close to a legitimate masterpiece of writing, acting, and direction to be released in the last twenty years, in film or television, in my mind.
In BRUISER, evidence of a surreal paranormal event is almost perfectly
captured on film by George Romero. The film's protagonist, Henry, weakly
worms him way through life until the morning he awakens to find a blank,
white mask where his real face once was. At one point, it's suggested the
mask frees Henry to indulge in his rage fantasies, and then to logically
murder those who have wronged him. Henry's innate goodness won't allow him
to kill innocent people, but it's interesting to see that Romero never
apologizes for Henry's murder fantasies. Henry is, like all of us, capable
of brutal, heinous acts, if only in our heads.
As an idea, Henry's "Faceless" identity is fascinating, as it is believed that Henry has psychically formed the blank face from the material of his submerged rage. The problem becomes when Henry, and the film, decides to become parody, amused by the circumstance of the Faceless-ness. Henry's revenge, when he takes it on the vile cast of his wife, his boss, and his best friend/financer, does not reflect Henry's rage. The revenge is muted and lacking real anger, though much is made of what Henry will do when he goes after these people.
Romero made possibly his technically-finest film only to lose the incredible surreal event that changed his believable, solid main character into a vengeance machine, which weakens the story and its conclusion considerably. The instant Henry understands that the mask is truly HIS face is a great moment, and there are moments in BRUISER that stand up well with the best Romero has done.
It should also be pointed out that Romero comes from another time and mentality in filmmaking, when the idea of sex, sex by naked people, on-screen, in all it's almost-realism, was not ignored and disregarded...namely the 1970s, when there was something to be said for people getting it on that didn't require cutaways and soft lenses. It's almost refreshing in these puritanical days of zero-actual-sex in films, and talk talk talk of sex in every medium, and the threat of sex on "real TV" shows, to find Romero willing to show a little legs over the shoulders. Even if everyone who has sex in BRUISER is unrepentant scum, that still doesn't change the fact that we, the viewer, are witness to sex that isn't a slow-motion fantasia starring Jeremy Irons.
BRUISER is a fascinating film that suddenly unravels at the end, like an old baseball hit too hard. Still worth it, just for the great attempt at something original by an original, in Romero.
A man who cannot create new memories cannot move forward in time.
Leonard Shelby, time stopped the instant he suffered head
while trying to save his wife during a robbery-rape. Unable to
any new memories, Leonard will never move past that horrific event
which he lost his wife, his home, and everything else except an
drive for revenge on those responsible.
There's reason for enthusiasm and hyperbole from folks who see MEMENTO: it's a film that harkens back to the 1970s, a time of well-written, mind-blowing experiences that become part of the viewer, like an actual event, a memory. MEMENTO is that modern rarity, a character-driven story that refuses to flinch, and viewers appreciate it. After all, in this decade of putrid, talentless filmmaking, where would movies (American anyway) be without Tarantino's Jules Winnfield, or Mr. White? Or the Coens' Dude? Soderbergh's limey Wilson? Or Keyser Soze? Characters with force of will, who follow their natures and dominate space and time, as real people met, inawed-by, or feared.
Leonard Shelby's story is ingrained in truth, and believability. A two-dimensional creation lives and breathes. He becomes part of the viewer.
There is nothing worse than the Hell of Leonard Shelby, a man cursed to a single moment in time, his wife's rape-murder, and his inability to even remember whatever revenge he may take. The concept alone guarantees this film is unforgettable, but it is also the writing, the direction of Nolan, and the performance of Pierce.
I'd like to correct the misconception of the intrinsic fault in this film, pointed out by many critics, that Leonard would be unable to remember he has a "condition" of complete short-term memory loss, since he should not remember anything after his injury and does not have a tattoo on his body, say, that states the fact of it, so he'd understand where, what and how he is where he is.
Leonard does indeed have this "trigger" for his understanding of his "condition". It is on his hand, SAMMY JANKIS. Sammy's story, part of Leonard's pre-injury life, is an automatic symbol for everything Leonard is going through, as the two men share almost the same condition, and more. Leonard sees the name and remembers, and that's the answer to that.
MEMENTO is a complete puzzle, a sequence of nightmare that is inescapable, a world in which a man who stops moving in time becomes the anchor for corrupt cops and lost women, where answers tear up bodies and minds like bullets. Leonard is a living weapon of revenge, and
lives in a perpetual state of recoil, that stunned silence between the just-fired and the impact. An incredible film.
There's nothing quite like a 1970s professional hitman, usually played
an emotionless hunk in a suit and tie, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses,
briefcase from which he will coldly assemble a sniper rifle. Not only
you get one snap-together rifle scene in ASSIGNMENT: KOWLOON, but
you get two, as Sonny Chiba portrays the professional assassin who
be stopped and will not cease until his job is done. Or, until he has his
against those who've wronged him. Both is the case in this
The plot of this film is incidental, as Golgo 13 is hired to kill a renegade drug trafficker posing as an important businessman; Golgo 13 is beaten to the kill by another faction, but is nonetheless blamed for the assassination by a strong-willed Hong Kong detective named Smithy who is determined to stop Golgo 13.
This is a gritty film, with a seething, rock-hard performance by Chiba as Golgo 13, presenting a character who is a professional killer, and worse. Chiba's barely-controlled rage is palpable; Golgo 13, when not coldly sighting down his rifle, emerges as a dangerous, paranoid man expecting at any moment to be attacked. And as is the case, Golgo 13 finds violence wherever he goes, whether or not he is involved directly or not. A young woman, a mere stranger on the street arguing with a man, suddenly murders this man in a blind rage right in front of Golgo 13. Golgo 13 not only saves her from the police, but from the murdered man's roving gang, who are seeking the girl, for revenge. This puts the girl in debt to the assassin, and later he will use her when he is wounded and nearly captured by police. Golgo 13 affords himself a way to stay alive by taking advantage of any situation, even if it is a poor girl who made a mistake; that mistake is the assassin's edge, and Chiba revels in it.
The Crash Cinema video is great, though the sub-titles are some of the worst I've ever seen. But the movie very much retains its 1970s grindhouse purity, to be viewed in a run-down theatre smelling of piss and cigarettes. GOLGO 13 is a tough, well-made movie, and Chiba is just a wicked physical performer who makes his kills, with hands or weapons, look especially painful. The character of Golgo 13 is what James Bond might have become, if he ever left the BSS and turned into a for-hire killer. He'd be unstoppable, and that's what Golgo 13 is: Unstoppable, and very, very cool.
A great film from the tough 70s when movies reached their creative
simple story of ex-con pushed by his record, his obnoxious parole
officer, and his lack of adaptability into more heists.
The point of Hoffman's Dembo character succumbing quickly to crime again isn't supposed to be drawn out over the entire movie, as if this character, this professional thief, had a choice in his instincts. The movie never suggests Dembo is trying to become part of society; he's not, and never will be. He's known that since he was in the joint. This isn't the story of a great man put-upon by society, attempting to rise above his station. This is a pro heist man who does one thing really well, and that's steal. Dembo's self-destruction is assured only because he's seen the end results of outside life, or any life when you're not connected, in prison or out.
Dembo's not disilliusioned, he's just not going to be crushed. He didn't go to jail, instead Dembo became a jail, a walking prison; even the long moustache he wears looks like prison bar shadows clamping his face shut. Dembo's not going to escape prison, not ever, nobody ever really does. And he's known that long before the film starts, and by the time he gets to stealing again, he's made sure he's running his prison his way. Fabulous film.
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