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1. WWE's Marcus "Buff" Bagwell as wrestling giant Max Thunder
Think of it as "Top Gun" meets "Halo," "Starship Troopers," and "Independence Day" with elements from anime series such as "G Gundam," "Outlaw Star," "Martian Successor Nadesico," "Cowboy Bebop," "Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory," and "Macross" (that is, the first one in the series - fully titled "The Super Dimensional Fortress Macross"). Add to that a Japanese epic drama vibe reminiscent of historical samurai shows and modern-day J-Dramas.
In-cheon sang-ryuk jak-jeon (2016)
Korean Version of the "Dirty Dozen" and "Inglourious Basterds"
This is one of the best military movies that I have recently seen portraying historical battles from decades past. While watching this, I had not put aside my memories with "Hacksaw Ridge," which starred Andrew Garfield (in the lead role of Corporal Desmond Doss, a US Army medic who was allowed to go into battle despite his objections towards touching a firearm) and was about the Battle of the Maeda Escarpment in Okinawa during the final days of World War 2.
Titled in the West "Operation Chromite: The Battle for Inchon," the movie portrays a fictionalized rendition of the mission code-named "Trudy Jackson," an effort to recruit, train, send 15 South Korean soldiers behind enemy lines. The mission was actually led by an American naval officer named Eugene Clark (Commander, USN - then a Lieutenant during the Korean War). Clark was aided by South Korean intelligence officers and local resistance fighters; these men would then scout the coastal section of Inchon for fortification structures, troop numbers and movements, and seaborne mines that obstructed the possibility of a UN coalition naval detachment to go ashore and eventually take the fight to the enemy.
In the movie, the squad is led by South Korean Navy Lieutenant Jang Hak-Soo, a former North Korean soldier who defected to the "good guys" side due to his father being executed by his so-called "friends." Jang is played by veteran actor Lee Jung-Jae. Based on his performance, Jung-Jae can be regarded as the Korean counterpart of Lee Marvin's (NO PUN INTENDED, by the way) Major Reisman in "The Dirty Dozen," Steve McQueen's Army Air Force Captain Virgil Hilts a.k.a. "The Cooler King" in "The Great Escape" (on the sidelines, though, watch out for that motorcycle scene!) and Brad Pitt's Lieutenant Aldo Raine in "Inglourious Basterds." Not to give much information away further, but director John H. Lee might have borrowed elements from the aforementioned WWII flicks (as well as, possibly, many others out there such as the likes "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List") and modified them for assimilation in the war between 2 nations divided by the 38th Parallel Line 5 to 8 years later.
Lead actor details aside, though, it was the fearless squad leader (Jang) the soldiers that fought behind enemy lines that stole the show. The American allies, on the other hand, were just minor plot devices used to invoke a deeper dramatic feel. For instance, Liam Neeson's portrayal of the famous General Douglas MacArthur (Corregidor, Philippines, "I shall return!" address, anyone?) was, at best, not exactly laughable but typical of the "brawny military leader" stereotype. To make a sound analogy, Neeson's MacArthur is reminiscent of Ernest Borgnine's General Worden in "Dirty Dozen." Also, If the casting were up to me, I would pick Bruce Willis as Willis bears a nearly perfect resemblance to MacArthur!
When it comes to the film's main antagonist, Lee Bum-Soo's Colonel Lim Gye-Jin would put shivers up the viewer's spine every time he is on screen. Lim is an SS officer reincarnated as a ruthless North Korean Army regimental commander. Analogically speaking, he would be a strong (and, I mean 100-proof vodka and martini mix kind of strong) combination of Norbert Weisser's SS Kommandant Albert Hujar in "Schindler" and Christoph Waltz's Colonel Hans Landa in "Basterds."
Overall, I cannot emphasize this enough: "Operation Chromite" is one of the best Korean War movies out there. It stands shoulder to shoulder with similar ones of its kind like "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War." The only drawback is that the crew operated in a lower budget than the figures estimated for usual war movies.
Final verdict: 9/10.
Six-String Samurai (1998)
"Fist of the North Star," Rock and Roll Swordsman Edition
During my pre-teen years, I regarded "Six String Samurai" as a fantastic science fiction thriller in the spirit of "Hokuto No Ken" ("Fist of the North Star" for all of you fellow Western Hemisphere fans out there). I first saw a trailer of SSS on AXN Action TV while I was living in the Philippines. I didn't see the actual movie until when I first moved to California. Ever since then, I grew fond of the Red Elvises band and the movie itself until "Top Gun" knocked it off my #1 list.
The story follows four-eyed Buddy (a combination of Kenshiro and Buddy Holly equipped with a katana and a six-string guitar) and his child companion Kid (most likely inspired by Bat from FOTNS) as they venture through the post-apocalyptic wasteland in order to reach "Lost Vegas," the last piece of paradise in the world. During their journey, they encounter countless thugs ranging from the Soldiers of the Fallen Communist Party (Southern Cross's "Soldiers of God") to Buddy's ultimate rival Death (Raoh+Ozzy Osbourne).
The fight choreography is magnificent along with the vibe that comes along with life in a world devastated by a great nuclear war, which excellently borrow Tetsuo Hara and Buronson's animated masterpiece. I would recommend this movie to any sci-fi fan anytime.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993)
Liked it when I was a kid. Now, I don't know.
15 years ago, Power Rangers was one of the shows that swept the nations, especially that of the youth. When I was a 3-year-old kid living in the Philippines, I would watch this show every Friday on ABS-CBN (Channel 2 over there). When the movie came out in 1995, it was all shock and awe to me when I watched it with my dad and 2 uncles. My grandparents even sent me a "Balikbayan" box full of Power Rangers stuff (including the easy-to-build Megazord figure and the stuffed toys of the Rangers). I even played the video games, and loved only one of them ("MMPR: Fighting Edition"), which was REALLY sad. Anyway, it was the show that set a stepping stone on my interest on robot series (especially anime mech series like "Gundam") Now that I'm 18, I'd like to think this show is pretty cheesy to me now. To prove this, I took a trip down memory lane by buying a 2-set DVD collection with "MMPR: The Movie" and "Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie" and watched both of them. I was like, "Ugh. How awful. Just another junk in the attic for me." For all of you people of my generation, this is NOT a show that you'd want to watch over and over again. I'm not saying to leave it behind for the rest of your life, but occasionally is not a bad thing now, is it? Instead of "Power Rangers", I'd recommend something like "Mobile Fighter G Gundam" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), "Ninja Senshi Tobikage" (aka Ninja Robots), or even the ORIGINAL Sentai shows that were the basis of "Power Rangers."
Independence Day (1996)
"Top Gun" meets "War of the Worlds" (only there's no Tom Cruise)
This movie is TRULY one of the best and names itself the Science Fiction version of "Top Gun". The actors were great. Will Smith got "jiggy with it" as a hotshot F/A-18 pilot in the movie; Randy Quaid (the older brother of Dennis Quaid) proved to be the comic relief; Bill Pullman's character transformed from a President with the problem of a nation into a reborn veteran; and Jeff Goldblum became more brilliant than ever! The only difference between "Independence Day" and "Top Gun" is that the 2 adversaries were humans and aliens instead of Americans and Soviet pilots. Even this movie let out some political tension: aliens warning humans of obliteration (the "No Peace" scene in the Area 51 laboratory) and nations uniting in order to stop extinction of the human race. The only thing I craved out of this movie is a sequel or a prequel. Period.