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Not a complete travesty, but certainly very forgettable
This made-for-TV sequel was available at one of my local video rental shops way back when I was a teenage, but I never rented it in part due to the bad reputation that it had. Just recently I was reminded about its existence again, and doing some subsequent research, I saw that the legendary Elmore Leonard write the teleplay, and he certainly wrote some good western stories in his career. Unfortunately, this particular oater doesn't stand up to his other efforts. While there are many criticisms I could list about this movie (such as the weird sight of Lee Majors trying to act in a Gary Cooper style), the main problem with the movie is that it not only does its story plod along at an extremely slow pace, there is usually no significant energy generated in any particular scene. The movie really suffers in comparison to the original in this regard, made worse by the fact that the story this time around doesn't feel like a story that needs to be told.
However... if you look at the movie without comparing it to the original, and seeing what it basically is - a 1980 made-for-TV western - it does come across somewhat better. And unlike other made-for-TV movies of the time, it does have the novelty of David Carradine and a few instances of somewhat more colorful dialogue than usual. Though even with this viewpoint, there isn't enough to make this a must-see. Even as a viewing when entertainment options are extremely limited is also questionable.
The Return of Josey Wales (1986)
Forgotten for good reasons
Given my love of the western genre, I had wanted to see this movie for years, but it apparently never got any kind of release in my country (Canada). But thanks to YouTube, I watched it today, and it didn't take me long to figure out why no Canadian distributor apparently wanted to touch it. Even if you are a lover of westerns, you'll greatly dislike this movie, even more so if you don't care for the genre. It goes wrong in just about any way you can think of. While you'll (sort of) understand what the title figure is trying to do, the journey to that point is incredibly muddled. Maybe the original script made more sense, but under Michael Parks' direction, things happen out of nowhere, and other things make no sense at all, and this constantly happens from the start to the end. The action sequences and even the scenes of dialogue seem to have been edited with a very limited amount of available footage, and have no zip as well as coherence. The movie plods on scene after scene with almost no energy. Also, the movie has a really cheap feeling, seemingly filmed on whatever abandoned buildings and countryside the production could get its hands on. And while the movie was made in the mid 1980s, it has a weird look and feel of a production from the mid 1970s. Don't expect this movie to get a release on DVD or Blu-Ray any time soon.
Gun Shy (2017)
Promising premise, but misses more than it hits
A note of caution to anyone who sees the DVD or Blu-ray front cover art and title of this movie, and subsequently thinks they will be getting an action-packed exercise; this is NOT an action movie! The movie instead is, of all things, a wacky comedy. I sort of was prepared for that thanks to the somewhat absurd-sounding plot description on the back of the Blu-ray case, but while I had some preparation, I was all the same disappointed by what I watched. To be fair, the movie gives Antonio Banderas the rare chance to act silly, and his enthusiastic performance is at time infectious. Also, I admit there were a few times when I giggled or even laughed out loud. But the movie as a whole does not work. The main problem is that apart from Banderas, the energy level is often extremely low, and as a result it's hard for any comic sparks to be ignited. Though I feel I should point out that much of the humor is somewhat lazy, familiar, and predictable in nature. The wacky premise should have inspired more and stronger attempts at humor than we actually got. And the plot more often than not moves at a very slow and sluggish pace; you'll soon be telling the movie to simply get on with it. It doesn't help that despite filming on location in Chile, the low budget of the entire enterprise is extremely evident. Despite a few good things to be found, this is one movie you're probably best shying away from.
I guess that I should admit that despite knowing beforehand that writer/director Peter Markle a few years earlier made the funny and charming indie film "The Personals", all the same I approached this later effort with some prejudice, because I absolutely loathe hockey.... or any other sport for that matter. So keep that in mind if you decide to read the rest of this user review. I will admit that Markle gives the backdrop of the movie a real authentic air - you can feel the cold, dirt, grit, and run-down feeling that many real life small towns and cities in Canada have. However, the movie ultimately misses the goal because of Markel's other efforts. His script is basically a redoing of the "underdog makes good" theme that countless other sport films have had before. Just as bad is the fact that the characters never really open up and show a unique personality. And while Markle in the director's chair may give the backdrop an authentic air, he executes the story in an unbelievably slow and dull fashion. Even the hockey games aren't particularly exciting. It's made worse by the fact the movie is stretched out to about 110 minutes. Maybe die-hard hockey fans and players might get something out of this movie, but as for me, I was really glad when the closing credits started rolling.
Liu lang di qiu (2019)
Looks great, but the script...
Being a fan of Chinese cinematic blockbusters, and hearing that this particular example was one of the biggest box office hits in Chinese history, you can imagine that I was very curious to see this movie. However, after finishing watching it, I was pretty disappointed with what I saw. First, I feel I should point out that not all of the movie is bad. When it comes to technical standards, the movie does indeed have great sets, believable props and costumes, as well as elaborate and convincing special effects. Unfortunately, more time should have been devoted to the script. Though I saw a version of the movie with good subtitles, even then I found a LOT of the story to be very muddled, as if linking footage or entire scenes had been edited out or simply not filmed at all. Even worse in the script department is that the characters don't really stand out in a good manner. At their best, the characters are just stereotypes you will have seen before in movies either from Asia or America. The problems with the script might come from the fact that EIGHT screenwriters are credited - too many cooks often spoil the broth. I admit that the end results are all the same somewhat better than some American blockbusters I have seen... but I have also seen many better American blockbusters. If China should put more effort into the scripts of their movies, someday the American film industry might really be challenged.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell (2018)
The weakest of the series
Though I am not a huge fan of the "Tremors" series, I have eventually seen every one of the previous entries, and I just finished watching this latest entry via a Blu-ray I found at my local library. From what I saw in this entry, I think Universal Pictures should put an end to any further attempts to lengthen this series. The idea of setting the movie in the Canadian Arctic was promising, and I will admit there are a few additional promising ideas buried here and there. But in the end, I was not all that impressed. The movie has a cheap and terrible visual look, in large part because even though the movie is primarily set in the Arctic, the movie was actually shot in South Africa (!) The action is pretty much just like what was found in the previous series' entries. The dialogue sounds very familiar from dozens of other B movies before, and the actors seem to be going through the motions most of the time. The movie doesn't have any slow spots, I admit, but it's clear all the same the filmmakers have pretty much exhausted any freshness that could be added in to keep the series lively. However, , if you've ever wanted to see actor Michael Gross do a nude scene...
S.W.A.T.: Under Siege (2017)
I frequently watch direct to DVD movies, enough that I am often more forgiving of any weaknesses they may have, and sometimes finding that the end results are pretty good. However, I am unable to muster much enthusiasm for this particular effort. Past IMDb user comments that the movie looks pretty tacky are unfortunately true; the movie really has the look and feel of a modestly budgeted television show. That might have been forgiven had the movie shown enthusiasm in other key areas, but sadly the bulk of the movie is not executed well. The script frequently has dialogue that sounds cliched and/or stilted, and plot turns that won't be much of a surprise, like who the mole in the S.W.A.T. team ultimately turns out to be. The action sequences, whether they are shoot-out or martial arts battles, are lamely choreographed and edited/directed in a mechanical manner. About the only bright spot in the entire enterprise is the presence of Michael Jai White, but even he can only do so much with his lame surroundings. The only possible useful thing the movie does is that it makes the original 2003 S.W.A.T. movie - which wasn't so hot - look much better.
Not without flaws, but also not bad
As you may know, actor Nicolas Cage in recent years has appeared in a constant string of direct-to-DVD movies in order to pay off his huge tax bill with the IRS. Most of these movies have been pretty bad, but every so often a good one is made, this one being one of them. Don't get me wrong, I do understand many of the complaints other IMDb users have made about the movie. The movie is kind of cheap (and clearly filmed in Bulgaria instead of home in America), there are some predictable and familiar plot threads and characters, and some other plot turns are pretty laughable. But I have to admit that I was never bored while watching the movie, even when it showed many of those weaknesses. And the movie does have some other strengths, one of them being with the action sequences. The action sequences are pretty intense at times, and even more interesting is that this is the rare action movie where the action is portrayed to not be "fun" - you really sense innocent people are getting hurt. I'm not saying that this is a movie you'll remember for a long time, but it did interest me enough that I'm glad that I saw it.
I liked it... but it's not for everybody
With the title that this movie has, one may be expecting a lot of absurdist humor, as well as plenty of action and/or gore. But viewers who approach this movie with those expectations will likely be disappointed. For starters, there's not much attempt at humor, and the few humorous touches are very brief and very low key. As for gore, there's almost none of that. And as for action, there's only a few minutes of actively hunting Hitler, and even less of hunting Bigfoot. Instead, the movie is much more of a character study of the title person, showing a somewhat tortured individual who has some big regrets from his past. This is, I admit, executed in a VERY slow manner, where not much happens for much of the running time. Also, at the end, there are a few unanswered questions that really demand an answer. Yet for me, the movie worked all the same. The slow unfolding of the troubled past of the "man" was very interesting, even if it was very serious and without action or swiftness. And Sam Elliott gives a great performance, showing pain (physical and mental) and struggle. If you are prepared for a deep character study and not in great demand for B-movie schlock, don't let the title throw you off, and give this movie a try. It's not perfect, but few movies are.
Death House (2017)
Inept in just about every way you can think of
Don't be fooled by the fact that the makers of this movie managed to round up an impressive-sounding list of beloved B movie actors - most of these players have very little screen time. Actually, that is one of the least of the problems of this absolutely terrible movie. The main problem with the movie is that it makes very little sense. The story has something to do with a special prison that is (I think) conditioning inmates in a special way, but I couldn't describe the movie much more than that. Things seem to be happening at random and without proper explanation throughout, as if ideas from many completely different movies were being combined into this screenplay. To add insult to injury, it takes over 40% of the running time before the crisis starts to unfold, and when this does happen, the movie's pacing doesn't increase much more than before. And who thought it was a good idea for almost all of the second half of the movie to be filmed in almost complete darkness? The only reason why I am not giving this travesty the lowest possible rating is that some of the gore effects are pretty impressive. But even if you are a die hard gorehound, you'll feel ripped off even if you see the movie for free on Netflix as I did.
Robin Hood: The Rebellion (2018)
One of the worst Robin Hood movies ever made - possibly THE worst!
In 2018, the world was given not one but two Robin Hood films, one being a big budget Hollywood production, and this production from the United Kingdom. Both of them have something big in common - they are AWFUL movies. I won't get into what made the Hollywood version so bad, but I will certainly list what makes this UK production so bad. It's an unbelievably cheap production - the movie is so cheap, it actually at times resembles the look and feel of the ultra low budget productions made by the American B movie studio The Asylum. But a lot of Asylum movies manage to be more entertaining than this movie. This movie has terrible scripting, not just limited to the opening that depends on a long title crawl to inform the audience of the many things that happened to the characters before the events we actually get to see. The dialogue is also often awful, sounding very stilted and made worse by the often bad delivery the cast gives. There is also inept direction, including (but not limited to) confusing and unclear moments, a leaden pace, slow and clunky fight sequences, dreary cinematography, and poor lighting. This movie ends up being terrible in any way that you can think of. It's hard to decide if this movie is actually worse than the 2018 Hollywood Robin Hood film. Unless you are a masochist like me, don't even think of watching both, or even just one of them.
Definitely not for all tastes
People who find this Korean movie on Netflix might be lead to believe (as I was) that what they would be getting a swift and bloody thriller of sorts. Well, there are definitely elements of that, but it's pretty much limited to the first five minutes and the last thirty minutes. What you get in-between is pretty much what the title indicates - a low key office drama with the usual office politics and going-ons. Though that wasn't what I was expecting, I actually did find to my surprise that this main portion of the movie did have some interest and I was not really bored at any moments. Though I will admit that the screenplay does ultimately not give some clear answers for some major plot points, and the twist that does happen three-quarters of the way through (and the conclusion) will more or less be guessed by many viewers before it actually happens. Despite these and a few other problems, I was kind of glad I had seen the movie, because it was certainly different than any other movie I had ever seen. But I will admit the movie is far from perfect, and I can see that many viewers will find that its flaws outweigh its merit. It's best reserved for viewers in the mood for something mostly low key and more thoughtful than usual. It also will help if you have already seen your share of Korean cinema.
Da hong zha (2018)
A movie that is really tough to sit through
Thanks to Netflix, I have had access to a number of recent Chinese blockbuster movies, and have found many of them to be great entertainment. However, with this one, the viewer will learn that the Chinese can sometimes make movies that are just as bad as the worst blockbusters to come out of Hollywood. In fairness to the filmmakers, the version of the movie I saw had been cut down by about 25 minutes, which probably explains the extremely muddled and jumbled narrative, as well as scenes that suddenly end or seem to start midway through. Also, the version of the movie I saw had the Chinese cast dubbed with English dialogue that was unbelievably badly written and spoken throughout. But even if I had seen the original version of the movie, it probably wouldn't have been much better. Bruce Willis gives his typical sleepwalking performance of recent years, and can't seem to decide if his character should be clean-shaven or not. The CGI dogfights look too cartoony to be convincing and compelling. Worst of all, the narrative, even in this cut down version, is slow and downright dull at times. While there is an official reason why to date this movie has not been released in its homeland, I think the real reason is that I can't imagine anyone in China finding more to like about it than I did. Hopefully when "The Wandering Earth" gets released onto Netflix in a few days, my faith in Chinese cinema will be restored.
Buffalo Boys (2018)
Good premise, but kind of mixed results
The idea of this movie - two Indonesian brothers trained in the way of the American cowboy returning to their homeland and using their skills for vengeance - sounded original and offbeat enough that I knew I had to watch the movie when I came across it on Netflix. While I don't regret watching the movie, I feel it could have been a lot better than it actually was. For one thing, despite the premise, there isn't a lot of "cowboy" behavior done by the two lead characters. Also, despite the Indonesian setting, the core elements of the script will come across as exceedingly familiar to those who have seen their share of revenge movies before. It doesn't help that for the most part, the tone of the movie is both very slow and often lacking enough bite. Still, the movie is generally well made for an impossibly low budget, the action (while not constant) is pretty exciting and brutal, and the movie is not dull despite the story being slow and exceedingly familiar. While I am giving this a (marginal) recommendation, I do see that the movie is not for everyone. And the people who would appreciate it would best wait to watch it when they are in a more forgiving mood than usual.
A big disappointment
I'm glad that Netflix gets a lot of offerings from Asia, because there are some really entertaining movies coming out from that part of the world. However, with this particular one, I am not sure why Netflix thought it was picking up, let alone making it a Netflix exclusive movie. The movie is not a complete washout, I admit - it looks okay for what was clearly a pittance of a budget (though occasionally seams show), and has a few interesting ideas. But the execution pretty much botches all of its potential. The movie moves at an incredibly slow pace, made worse that the running time is 125 minutes - there's no way this movie should have been this long or this slow. Viewers who manage to grit their teeth and stick it out will get a little gore and mayhem at the climax, but it's too little and too late. This is one film project that should have been buried.
Small Town Crime (2017)
Very well done modern noir
Every so often, when going through Netflix's offerings, I will come across a movie I haven't heard of before and has very little description, and I will be curious enough to give it a look. Sometimes when doing this I will come across a real gem, and that is what "Small Town Crime" ended up being. There are many things I liked about it - it was leanly written with no padding, the unfolding mystery was interesting and compelling, the production values were good for a low budget, and there was some effective violence. The best thing about the movie, however, was the lead character played by John Hawkes. He's interesting that in many ways he's an unlikable character, but you aren't repulsed enough by him to turn off the movie. You'll be interested in seeing what he can and will do, and how he'll eventually end up. Actor John Hawkes gives a great and compelling performance, another reason why this character is so compelling. Another thing I appreciated about the movie was that it was pretty realistic, including the ending, which is not entirely happy. Those who like the noir genre and want a modern, realistic, and at times violent take will enjoy this telling. I look forward to the filmmakers' next movie.
Breaking In (2018)
Okay entry in this particular genre
The "home invasion" genre has over the past few decades been done to death, so as a result there are pretty much no new angles to give to new entries to the genre. As a result, you can only really judge entries by how well made they are instead of more original touches. With this particular entry, it is well produced for what was a limited budget, Gabrielle Union does give a believable (and not unbelievably superhuman) performance, there are no boring bits, and the more intense moments do have some excitement and tension. The villains, however, don't quite come across as nasty and hateful as they should have been. Also, while the movie isn't boring, there are some slow and padded-out sequences that should have been cut down. And quite a bit of the movie can be easily predicted well before it actually happens in front of our eyes. This is not a bad movie, but it doesn't for the most part break any new ground. But if you like this genre, and don't mind seeing the same old things once again, it is well crafted enough to do in a pinch.
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
It's okay... if seen under the right circumstances
I though that the first "Equalizer" movie, while predictable, was a well-crafted exercise despite the script being nothing new. So I was interested to see how this sequel would play out. As it turns out, the story this time around is just as predictable as the first movie. For example, the "surprise" twist in the second half of the movie is no surprise at all. And the climatic action sequence is just a variation of the "deserted warehouse" action climaxes we have seen in countless other action movies before. What really weakens the movie, however, is how slow it is, particularly in the first half. While the relaxed pace is to a degree refreshing in an age of hyperkinetic action movies, the movie is ultimately TOO slow; you'll soon be egging the movie on to get on with it. I admit that I was never bored by the movie, and Washington does do a good job with what he's given, so I don't regret seeing it. However, I would only recommend the movie to viewers who (1) don't mind seeing very familiar plot elements for the umpteenth time, (2) are in a very patient mood, and (3) don't pay any money to watch it.
Ghost Stories (2017)
How not to do a horror anthology
I am a fan of the horror anthology genre, from comic books like "Tales From the Crypt" to feature films. This is despite the fact that when it comes to filmed horror anthology, most of them are not very good. Sadly, "Ghost Stories" is another failure. Its heart is in the right place, but the actual execution is not very well done. I could live with the relatively low production values (though I admit there were a few sequences of effective special effects) as well as the frequently murky and dark cinematography and lighting. But I could not accept that the movie is neither scary or all that surprising. The three main stories told go down routes done dozens of times before (a hit and run, a night watchman finding spooky stuff during his watch, etc.) so they are instantly tired and familiar. It's made worse that there are absolutely NO twists or surprises in these tellings - they don't even TRY to stand out. The wrap-around story eventually does have a few (mild) surprises, but even then it has a strong air of familiarity around it. Pick up an old EC comic book instead of watching this movie - you'll be a lot better off.
The Happytime Murders (2018)
Some people have branded this movie to be a kind of rip-off of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", though in actual fact combining a human world with a puppet world was done long before that other movie, such as with "Sesame Street". Taking this idea and making it for an adults-only audience was promising, but the end results are very disappointing. The main problem with the movie is that it's executed in a very low energy style. Sure, there's plenty of "R"-rated material, but the way it's set up and executed has absolutely no bite or even shock value. While there are a few (mild) chuckles, the tame and unimaginative direction makes most of the gags obvious and not the least bit funny. It doesn't help that despite a considerable budget, the whole enterprise has the look and feel of a prime time television drama rather than a theatrical movie. If you want to see an adults-only movie concerning puppets, hunt down a copy of the funny Peter Jackson movie "Meet the Feebles" instead. Heck, you'd even be better off hunting down a copy of the rare 1976 XXX puppet porno "Let My Puppets Come"!
Slick, but alternately silly or predictable
Knowing that Dean Devlin - who is best known for his collaborations with Roland Emmerich - wrote and directed this movie, I kind of figured what I would get before the movie started, and I was pretty much correct with my predictions. I knew that technically, the movie would be high class, from the sets to the special effects. I was right about that.
But I was also right about the screenplay being not so hot. To begin with, so much of this screenplay seems familiar. The main theme of the movie seems cribbed from countless direct-to-DVD B movies from the past. Also, the characters are characters you have seen in many movies before, from their motivations to their actions. You'll be several steps ahead of both the stories and the characters at any point in the movie.
What some viewers might not expect, however, is how silly the movie gets at times. For example, it's conveniently not explained how the nations of the world, even working together, would possibly be able to afford such a complex space station/satellite system, let alone maintain it. Also, it's strange that the world pictured in this movie has space technology decades ahead of our present level of technology, but the technology seen on Earth is virtually the same as it is presently in our real world. Trust me, there are a lot more silly moments that space does not permit me to get into further.
I admit that the entire package put together didn't bore me, but all the same I was far from satisfied. It's no wonder this movie underperformed at the box office, even when considering the foreign grosses. The only circumstances where you should watch the movie is when you are in a really undemanding mood and you have to concentrate on another task while watching the movie. Don't fear missing any movie details while working on your task - as I said, you'll be several steps ahead at any moment.
Shao Lin san shi liu fang (1978)
Enjoyable old school martial arts movie
For a long time, I had heard that this movie was a classic entry in the old school martial arts film genre, but I had been unable to find a copy of it to watch. So you can imagine that I was thrilled when I discovered that it was available on Netflix. The movie does pretty much live up to its reputation, though I think people should be prepared for how the movie presents itself. Unlike many other old school martial arts movies, the story doesn't play out with a life-or-death martial arts battle every few minutes. After the first 15 minutes, there are no life-or-death martial arts battles for the next hour or so. In fact, there are no martial arts battles for about 45 minutes after those first 15 minutes. But patient viewers will be rewarded eventually with some really good fight sequences, showcasing a number of different fighting techniques. They make the movie worth sitting through even during the long and calmer moments. I should point out that even during those long quieter moments, the movie is never boring. Plus, you will eventually get the important lesson that martial art skills take a lot of time and patience to master. If you are not in the mood for bloody and brutal fights every few minutes or so, then I definitely say give this movie a look.
An okay viewing experience under the right circumstances
I put off for quite some time watching this movie in part because I had been "dinosaured" out after watching the previous entry in this series. By that point, the series seemed to just be repeating itself. While this latest entry in the series does continue to do that to a degree, it's clear that at the same time there was some decent effort to put in some freshness. For one thing, only a somewhat limited portion of the movie takes place on the island - most of the movie takes place in a much different location. Also, there are some more original characters with more original (for the series) motivations. Some of these motivations are somewhat hard to swallow, given it's clearly extremely difficult to control the dinosaurs. And there are some plot turns that are pretty predictable. But the movie doesn't have any dull spots, has a lot of action and good special effects, and surprisingly ends on a somewhat dark note for a major Hollywood studio production. If you were entertained by the previous entries of this series, you'll probably find enough to enjoy here, though to be safe I would recommend that you wait for a viewing experience that doesn't cost you any money. I though the movie was okay, in part due to me finding it at my local library for free.
Slender Man (2018)
The fact that this movie was made by Screen Gems should give many people an idea of its general quality and entertainment value. But if not, let me go into more detail as to why this movie doesn't work. The fact that this horror movie was rated PG-13 instead of R didn't bother me too much, but pretty much everything else about the movie did. It's really badly photographed and lit for the most part - even scenes taking place outdoors in the middle of the day more often than not look murky and dull. A lot of the special effects also don't look that great, this maybe coming from the unfortunate fact that the budget wasn't that big. But what really sinks the movie is its storytelling. The story details are often as murky as the visual look of the movie, with details being vague or simply lacking explanation at all. At times the movie feels like it originally ran a lot longer, but was cut severely down to 93 minutes. But even with that standard running time, the story moves at a glacial pace, leaving the viewer so bored that they won't be able to get much out of the occasional horror sequences. I'm glad I watched the movie for free thanks to my local library, but of course I'd be happier if the library hadn't stocked the movie at all.
Poor independently made inner city drama
They say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." When it comes to this movie, I admit that despite its ludicrously low budget, it does have some genuine atmosphere. You can really feel the run down locations and cold weather. What else is good about this movie? Well... uh... I'm afraid I can't think of anything else. I could look past the lack of production niceties, but not anything else. The script is the main offender, being that the story manages to be extremely predictable, and a lot of the dialogue is incredibly bad. The editing is really bad as well, such as a hand to hand combat sequence starting up and then suddenly the scene changes to another location a few minutes later, and scenes seemingly missing. The direction is also nothing to talk about, unless you like confusing action sequences, sub-par photography, and a leaden pace completely free of tension. And the performances by the amateur cast are pretty lame as well. Why Netflix thought this movie was worth picking up is beyond me - I am sure their decision will soon make the title activity.