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Nice martial arts; average Pyun.
Due to the controversy involving a defaulted loan secured by the government of Guam, I had a particular interest in getting to watch this movie. More than the usual, being an Albert Pyun fan as I am.
Pyun goes back to the late 80's and early 90's with this movie, the days when he directed wooden martial artists like Jean Claude Van Damme, Olivier Gruner and Sasha Mitchell.
This movie revolves around a former kick-boxing champ turned sports photographer, and his peculiar ability to run into trouble wherever he goes. Funny enough, his name is Max Havoc. Mr. Havoc is sent to Guam for an easy job and to relax. BUt he runs into, first, with two troublesome teen sisters, one smart and one brain-dead (guess for which he fell?), and then with an entire Japanese organization, who's after a stolen jade dragon.
The lead is the Swiss nobody Mickey Hardt. He has the charisma of an amoeba, and his acting skills leave much to be desired. But this is not a dramatic piece, or the tale of an epic battle. This is a martial arts flick and in what regards kicking and punching and beating, Hardt does not disappoint. And despite this, Havoc is a well-natured fellow. Probably the guy every father'd want for her daughter (I just said that? Lame.) There're some strange surprises on the cast. Richard Roundtree ("SHaft") plays Havoc's former trainer now antique dealer. Carmen Elektra tries to "show her place" to Havoc during four scenes, for which she got one hundred grand. David Carradine plays Bill... again. All in automatic. Don't expect any acting shocking you.
Then there are these two sisters. Neither of them can act well and there's this strange lesbic trend in their scenes together. Not as evident as in Bill's...sorry, Carradine's assistants, and way too subtle.
Pyun's directing is normal here. The fights are well-choreographed yet there's an unnecessary over-repetition of the flashback scene that could have been done without. It lacks that special something though.
Far better than some action junk Lorenzo Lamas has done. It has good martial arts, nice scenes, beautiful views of Guam, plenty of girls in bikini, but you'll want to press MUTE when the sisters start talking. It's a watchable flick. For only one watch.
Left for Dead (2007)
There're a lot which are much better... but there're worse...
So, I finally got to see Albert Pyun's most recent effort. A strange western about a foreign woman (along with a bunch of local women) hunting down her ex (who happens to have impregnated the daughter of one of them) into a town haunted by a ghost who's sworn revenge over those women.
I was drawn by this film. Firstly, because it's Albert Pyun, and no matter how bizarre the film is, there's always something I find cool in his film. Secondly, the movie was shot in my country, and now checking with IMDb, it has an almost completely local cast.
Pyun abuses of the slow-motion effect in this movie. That and an excess of cutting during the "action" scenes produces annoyance. Other than that, the story was good, and it could have been improved with a better budget (no, I didn't say director). THere're tons of blood, deaths and gore too, which will please fans of horror/slasher movies.
Victoria Maurette, of whom I've noticed in stupid teen flicks, has left me stunned. I didn't know she could actually act, and matter of fact, I didn't even recognise her (again, thanks IMDb). The rest of the actors are OK too, especially the one playing Moebius Lockwood (who looks terrific), but she delivered quite a good performance. Too good actually.
This film should be held in the same light as Pyun's "Omega Doom". It has its resemblances and differences, some more noticeable than others. But they're both unusual, peculiar movies, which depart from standards.
Overall, it's watchable. Not a film to watch again, though. So much for a film which was supposedly the second part of a trilogy started with "Mean Guns", which is a film that I personally have watched at least 20 times, and I'd watch it 20 times more if I had the opportunity.
Albie, get back to that sort of flicks!
Lambert & Mulcahy... the trick only fails once!
After the first two "Highlander" films, Christopher Lambert and Russell Mulcahy gathered again to make this thriller, written by Lambert himself. The story deals with a serial killer who severs off parts of his victims' bodies in order to rebuild the body of Christ. John Prudhomme (Lambert) and his partner (played by David Cronenberg) have to stop him.
Mulcahy's peculiar filming style provides a brilliant background for this film, which is sustained by Lambert, who gives a solid performance, as many of the films he did in this period ("Gideon", "Highlander:Endgame"). One thing is Christopher when acting, other when he's doing "heh-heh" all the time. These two should team more often. It's something which can fail only once... and we all know "Highlander II".
To a certain extent, the movie goes in the lines of "Se7en". However, many post-1994 films did that ("The Bone Collector", to name one). This is probably the best ripoff of all. Most of the bloody images occur during night, which is probably the time of the day in which Mulcahy excels, and it's probably not the best time to watch this film (specially in a stormy night).
Adviseable for all Lambert, Mulcahy, and serial killer movies fans. Unadviseable for all those who heap scorn on Lambert and his films, and purists who hate ripoffs.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Mmmm.... Connery looks... old?
(Do not read if you have not seen the previous film, "On your majesty's secret service". You may have things from that film spoiled.) Sean Connery makes his return as James Bond. 007 takes a holiday to avenge his wife and kills Blofeld. He returns to MI6, just in time to be assigned the recovery of some diamonds that are being dealt illegally, and who's the head behind this. Passing out as a German (for which he is aided by Moneypenny dressed as an officer), Bond meets a woman who gives him the diamonds. He must take them to the United States of America. Once there, he gets in the usual sort of trouble with all sort of baddies.
By then in his early 40s, Connery looks (from my view) aged. Though his return as Bond, after Lazenby quitted, was the obvious choice (however much money he was paid), I think they should have picked someone else. He manages, but... I don't know... he has the charm to play Bond, but he is by now not physically, I'm inclined to say The film is fine up to a certain degree. The Bond girls look fine as usual ("Hi, I'm Plenty" "Of course you are"), and the bad guy is up to the circumstances as usual. Not much else to say, except a mention or a small moment of thought about James' dead wife could have been good for the film.
Lazenby was not that bad....
TNT has been running all Bond films. Last weekend, the time came to finally watch the infamous George Lazenby film. Many people (my dad included) had told me this movie was weak, and that the Australian actor sucked. Of course, being so slighted a film, I had to watch it to see whether all that was true.
Bond gets involved with a girl who turns out to be the daughter of a criminal lord, who wants his daughter, rebellious and whimsical, to be tamed. To that, she proposes the Commander to marry her. In exchange, he will provide information on the whereabouts of Blofeld. Bond flirts the girl, who in order to get rid of 007 makes his dad spit out the info. However, Bond remains interested, but has to move to Switzerland (or somewhere snowy) to find Blofeld.
I think the word is ATYPICAL. At least from my point of view, Lazenby's Bond does many things that I haven't seen any of the others do (I exclude Timothy Dalton here, since I have seen his films a long time ago but I don't remember anything). At the beginning, when he saves the girl, she gets away without thanking him ("This never happened to the other one"). Moments later, Bond kissing Moneypenny (a fact that I thought could only be attributed to virtual reality, as in "Die Another Day"). Time later, when 007 is escaping Blofeld's troops in the snow, fear draws on his face. I take it that this is due to Lazenby's poor acting skills. Connery, Moore or Brosnan managed to keep panic out of their faces in a difficult situation.
I watched a TV special about Bond that said that Lazenby was crucified only because he came after Connery. Anyone in his position would have suffered the same critics. He did rather fine, though his acting needed improvement in some points. He did most of the action scenes himself, and he did them rather well. Before seeing this, I was wondering why a model was cast rather than a British actor (Oliver Reed in "The Assassination Bureau" plays a simile of Bond). However, the results are good so who can blame them? Too bad Lazenby felt too big headed after this movie and dropped out.
Diana Rigg ("The Assassination Bureau", "The Avengers") plays Tracy, the woman who will be the only one to make a true impact in Bond's heart. She is by far the most beautiful actress of the 60's, and a great actress too, and her being here makes the film all more better.
The film is very entertaining, and I enjoyed it more than some of the previous films, like "Thunderball" (too much underwater) or "From Russia with love". There's plenty of action and it has one of the finest endings I have ever seen. So don't hate Lazenby. He did his best and was good at it.
Highlander: Endgame (2000)
Finally a sequel
After the "Alien Experience" and the "Remake Sequel", "Highlander" producers decided to add two and two and get someone to write a marvellous script. They went on with the mathematics, and got together Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul. The result is the long-expected good sequel to the first "Highlander", set after "The Series" ended.
Tired of the endless fights, Connor MacLeod enters the Sanctuary, a place where immortals can rest forever under the guard of the Watchers. However, an old foe of Connor releases him after killing all the other immortals in that place. Not pleased with this, this foe and his posse pays a visit to Duncan MacLeod, who gets away and looks for his clansman. Both MacLeods have sins to purge, and the time has come to do that.
Christopher Lambert, though intended to have a supportive role like Sean Connery in the original film, robs the movie. Though his Connor is hardly the same bad ass of the other films, it's by far the best performance in the film. Adrian Paul manages to lead the film well, like in the TV series. Bruce Payne, playing the embittered Jacob Kell, provides a fine interpretation that is however in the line of the other "Highlander" villains. Lisa Barbuscia as Kate MacLeod is somewhat fine, but I'm inclined to believe the only reason "Fishlips" got cast is her willingness to show her breasts.
The character of the film is indeed Jin Ke, played by Donnie Yen. However brief his presence on screen may be, he manages to give a very good impression, as well as some action. Another two characters worth mentioning are Rachel (the late Sheila Gish) and Heather (Beatie Edney), who appear again in a "Highlander" film. Briefly, but it's something.
Why don't I give it a 10? First, the first film (which indeed deserves a 10) is superior to this one. Secondly, the editing of the film is weak. It's not the one of "Highlander II: The Quickening" but this one has some big flaws. In any case, "Highlander Endgame" is a great film, with more action and entertainment than the other sequels, and it's a great choice even for non fans.
Jie tou sha shou (1996)
Er... not much of a sequel... and not much good either
I was zapping through, looking for something to watch in a post-lunch Sunday afternoon when I stopped at this TV show which usually airs martial arts films. I stood in rapt amazement when I saw that this week film would be "Iron Monkey II". I had rented the first film (from 1993, remastered by Tarantino in 2002, I think) and had really enjoyed it. So I thought: "Ok, Donnie Yen kicking asses throughout the film"... how wrong I was! The plot is somewhat hard to explain: a brother and a sister cheat a just-arrived-in-town guy to help them rob some weapons. Then they get in trouble with the "mafia-like-bad-guy" of the film. Meanwhile, the cheated guy is looking for his dad and bumps into Iron Monkey.
The first film depicted the Iron Monkey as a sort of ninja, concealing his identity. Donnie Yen played a support role there. Here, he's the Monkey, but he wears no mask (except in one scene but you can't even get if it's him or someone else), and wanders around trying to save the day with his face revealed. Furthermore, the action, if any, is focused on the two brothers and the other guy, and the Monkey does not appear much. The rest is the usual fighting scenes Asian films have accustomed us to. It managed to keep me watching, but merely to see something spectacular happen (and I'm still waiting) A BIG problem here is that the movie does not fit much with the first one: the 1993 film was set in the 19th century. This one goes in the 20th, and the Monkey is probably the only link to the other. I'm inclined to believe this was a script (how rare it sounds here) for something else, and they turned it into this sequel. If so, they should not have stained the previous movie with such a mediocre result.
Conclussion: if you like Donnie Yen, try and watch "Heroes among Heroes", his cameos in "Shanghai Knights", "Highlander:Endgame", "Blade II", or the original Monkey (All but Blade are recommended) rather than this. If you like martial arts, watch it without expectation and you might end up not THAT disappointed, like me.
I give it a 3.
Race Against Time (2000)
Interesting and worth a watch
It's 2008. Laws have been passed allowing suicide. A corporation named Lifecorps pays people to surrender their bodies to science. Someone goes there, is paid a given big amount of money and time later, he/she will have her body parts and organs delivered to whom may need it.
In that context, James Gabriel is a worker whose son is in serious condition in a hospital. With mounting debts, Gabriel is faced with the painful truth: his son has a supposedly already eradicated virus. The vaccines are too expensive and he has less than a day to get the money for them. Cornered by circumstances, he goes to Lifecorps. He is paid the money he needs and in a year he will be property of the corporation. However, when he returns, his son has already died and his body incinerated to prevent the disease from spreading.
The doctor tells him that the vaccine was refused by the providers... Lifecorps. He returns there to give the money back and is nicely told that the deal remains. He tosses the money around like confetti and walks away, cursing everyone. The head of Lifecorps, considering this an open statement that Gabriel won't fulfill the contract (anticipatory breach of contract, they call it), sends his "seekers", lead by a Mr. Burke after Gabriel. So Gabriel must escape, helped by a bounty hunter who first tries to get him but later helps him.
TV aired this one and I had nothing better to do. The movie has interesting action scenes and does not depict a highly technological future. Being TNT-produced, I'm bound to believe it's a TV release, what goes in favor of this film, and a not-big budget film, which allows to see actors out of the dreadful Hollywood mainstream. Eric Roberts is a good actor and does well, though his time has passed, and all he can apparently do now is appear in videos of Mariah Carey or The Killers. As for Cary Elwes, it's the first time I see him playing a real bad guy, and he has what it takes for that. Sarah Wynter is believable as Alex, the bounty hunter.
It's no masterpiece, but an interesting movie worth watching. 6
Omega Doom (1996)
Definitely not "Cyborg", but it has its charm
I've always tried to watch all the films Albert Pyun has done, ever since I watched "Mean Guns". His way of directing is weird, his usage of special effects generally is bad, but I can't say I do not enjoy his films. Unfortunately, American straight-to-video releases of this kind seldom make it to my country, and cable TV every once in a while blesses me with them.
Like "Adrenalin", "Omega Doom" is another of his apocalyptical future films, and like "Cyborg", there are cyborgs involved (redundant I've been called). The title character is a human-robot hybrid who arrives at a place where he finds two different kinds of robots who would normally be "killing" each other. Apparently, they are looking for guns for when "the humans come to destroy them", so they are in a sort of truce. Of course, and because otherwise it would not be interesting, OD (a.k.a. Guardian Angel) soon makes the two groups (which are composed of 3 members each) angry with him.
The main problem with this film is that, albeit similar to "Cyborg", it lacks action. While Jean Claude Van Damme surely provides that, Rutger Hauer gives more acting, and keeps you all the film waiting for him to use a sword he carries. THere are a couple of badly-made short-lived western-like fights, yet I confess the final fight was better than expected.
As for the performances, Rutger is Rutger. One will always like him. The bar woman is fairly decently played. As for the cyborgs, they were somewhat, if a bit exaggerated, believable. Tina Cotè playing BlackHeart looks so sensual, and her look will remind you of "The Matrix"'s Trinity, but not only this movie is older, Tina looks better!
Concluding, this is a futuristic film. It lacks the depth of "Nirvana", the effects of "The Matrix", or the action of "Equilibrium". But if you were looking for any of these, you would not rent an Albert Pyun's film, would you?