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Belly of the Beast (2003 Video)
2/10
Recent Seagal film that manages to be entertaining
14 December 2005
Here's something I never expected I'd be saying about 'Belly of the Beast': It is an entertaining action movie. That's right, it may a new Seagal movie that has a totally disjointed plot and an identity crisis regarding what style of action movie it wants to be, but its a fun way to kill time.

Seagal plays Jake Hopper, an ex-CIA agent (you guessed it) working on the side as a professional ninja for an old agency buddy. This led me into thinking that ole' Stevie could very well star in a 'Beverly Ninja Hills Ninja 2' film, he certainly is getting to look a little like Chris Farley. Jake seems rather uninterested when he is informed that Muslim extremists in the north of Thailand have kidnapped his daughter, but that's only a cover for his apparent unlimited rage, at least according to the tag line. So Jake is off to Thailand to his rescue his daughter and show off his UNLIMITED RAGE!

Now I realize that 'Belly of the Beast' is a poor film in every aspect of film-making, but its one of those endearingly bad films. The plot is disjointed and sometimes predictable, sometimes suffering from an identity crisis. Seagal seems as excited as he always is (i.e. he actually looks really bored and seems as though he would prefer a quiet night in with a video instead of attempting to kick arse), and his physical fitness really needs to be questioned. You can hear his heavy breathing throughout the film, seemingly suggesting that Seagal just carried a box of donuts up small flight of stairs and now he he needs to recover. The fact that he even has a sex scene is just disturbing to even think about and is best left as one of those "let's never speak of this again" moments. In a scene in which Seagal is chatting up a monk, his voice actually changes! Some suggest Seagal was dubbed in that scene, but I always suspected that Stevie was the romantic type (at least when talking to monks).

The lack of any distinct action style doesn't help things. Seagal starts the movie off with some Tai-Chi and kicking that Stevie can't possibly perform in his shape and also sends his opponents flying through walls. When I realized who the director was, none of this surprised me and I even expected some sort of mystical battle to end the movie. I did not expect random normal shootouts and random 'Matrix'-style shootouts. Basically what we have here is almost a fantasy ninja movie with John Woo adding lots of guns, or something like that. It is confusing, it isn't compelling, but it makes for cheap entertainment.

I should probably feel shame for saying 'Belly of the Beast' was enjoyable. It is a terrible film, and most people really should avoid it, but there are a select few out there who (like me) can use this for cheap laughs - 2/10
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1/10
Terrible
1 November 2005
'I Know What You Did Last Summer' is one of those movies I was told avoid, and because of that warning, went out of my way to watch it. I have no one to blame but myself. Even by slasher standards, 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' is stupid, boring, and insulting.

The premise is that four teenagers (who are generally rich and beautiful people) run a man over, and apparently kill him. Displaying a callous disregard for human dignity while trying to protect themselves, they dump the body in the ocean, and make a pact never to talk about it again. One year later, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a note indicating that someone knows all about the hit & run, and wants to off the group of self-serving brats.

I don't know how this crap managed to become so popular. It is a terrible movie, all based upon the fact that we're supposed to sympathize with these beautiful teens, even after they've killed someone and dumped his body in the ocean. No dice. If I was the guy they ran over, I'd be pretty ticked off too. A good horror movie should make you feel for, and sympathize with the characters in peril, but these kids are annoying, shallow, and have already covered up manslaughter - why should I sympathize with them? If anything, they're getting what they deserve.

Aside from that, IKWYDLS is obvious and boring. All the slasher clichés are present, but there are no surprises at all. The standard red herrings turn up, but shouldn't fool any avid horror fan (or anyone else for that matter). The cast are not convincing at all, especially Freddy Prinze Jr. He looked rather bored, although I suspect that may be the product of a lack of acting talent.

'I Know What Did Last Summer' is a terrible film, even by slasher standards, and is insulting to intelligence (though it takes a certain lack of intelligence to consider watching this. I'll freely admit to being guilty on that point) - 1/10
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Street Fighter rules!
31 October 2005
'Street Fighter' rules. Sure, it is either plain old terrible movie or movie so awesome and cheesy that only few people will actually admit to liking it, but it rules.

Shadaloo is a nation in crisis. The Allied Nations force, led by Colonel Guile (Van Damme) controls the capital city, but General Bison (Raul Julia) remains at large. Bison is totally off his nut, and threatens to kill 63 AN hostages if the AN does not pay him twenty billion dollars. With the help of some of the world's best fighters, Guile is "going to kick Bison's ass so hard, the next Bison wannabe is gonna feel it!". 'Street Fighter' rules.

'Street Fighter' rules. I can't say that often enough. Every line, every moment, and every explosion is awesome. Sure, 'Street Fighter' may push the lines of silly comedy into inept stupidity, but I love it. Sure, Kylie Minogue would normally belong far away from a martial arts film, and Van Damme will never pull off a convincing all American GI, but I love it. Sure, there is a strange lack of martial arts for a movie based on 'Street Fighter' movie, and it displays some real miscasting, but I love it. 'Street Fighter' gets sillier and funnier as the movie progresses, and providing some really funny lines and even better scenes (the Godzilla scene between E. Honda and Zangief is my favourite).

Watch 'Street Fighter' for laughs, and don't think about the game. In fact, don't think at all, just watch and laugh. It is a really entertaining film. In IMDb's worst 100? That's not fair, there are plenty of worse films than this.
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Gamera rules!
30 October 2005
'Attack of the Monsters' is quite a movie. Not only does it show off Gamera's great range of talents, but it is also the silliest giant monster movie I've ever seen, and oddly violent for a giant monster that is obviously intended for kids. Gamera: if you can hear me, you rule.

Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima), an idealist kid, dreams of finding a planet with no wars,traffic accidents, or long pants. He and Tom (Christopher Murphy) get whisked away by an empty UFO to the planet Terra, a planet that is exactly like Earth and conveniently shares Earth's orbit and is always on the opposite side of the sun to Earth. On Terra, they watch as a Gyaos turns up, only to get dismembered by Guiron (Terran for: 'Giant-Knife-Head-Monster').

Only two Terrans still live on the planet: Two space-babes with names so nice and pretty that these space-babes are obviously evil (apparently the rest of the population left to find a new planet, but we all know they died in a mass traffic accident). When the Terran women reveal that they must eat the kids brains in order to adapt to life on Earth, the kids are saved by Gamera, friend to children everywhere.

Gamera should have had a toy range based on this movie. He is the most multi-skilled monster in the universe! I can see it all now: Regular Gamera, Jet Propulsion Gamera, Ninja Gamera, Baseball Gamera, Airborne Gamera, Judo Gamera, Dancing Gamera, Gymnast Gamera, Aqua Gamera, and Gamera the Repair Monster. 'Attack of the Monsters' is a very silly movie - silly in the most funny ways. The poor special effects, the very basic dialog, the far out story, and Gamera's range of talents all make for some quality monster movie entertainment. Some of the monster mayhem seems rather brutal, even by regular monster movie standards (really, how many Godzilla films feature bloody dismemberment?), but my only complaint is the lack of Gamera's theme song in the 'Attack of the Monsters' version of the film. I want Gamera's theme song! I want it now!

Gamera rules. 'Attack of the Monsters' may be one of the most poorly produced movies you'll ever see, but it's great fun, and you know it.
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Kung-fu on drugs
27 October 2005
I've seen some pretty bizarre movies from Hong Kong, and I've long since learned my lesson about old kung-fu movies that have Jackie Chan on the cover. Sure, 'Young Tiger' and 'Eagle Shadow Fist' were terrible, but things like 'Spiritual Kung-Fu', 'Half a Loaf of Kung-Fu', and 'Killer Meteors' were great. In fact, I thought 'Killer Meteors' could not be beaten when it came to random kung-fu awesomeness and fake Jackie Chan movies...

... but then I saw 'Fantasy Mission Force'. And it transcended levels of awesomeness that 'Killer Meteors' could not even dream of. By now, fans of my writing will be saying "But Dave, in your Killer Meteors review, you said, and I quote, that Killer Meteors is 'pure awesomeness'!". Well, I'm sorry, but not even Killer Meteors could quite prepare anyone for 'Fantasy Mission Force'.

I would summarize the plot, but I'm not entirely sure that is even possible. It goes something like this: China, 1944 - a group of crusading kung-fu heroes are assembled by Chinese officers. They have 4 days to travel (on foot) to Luxembourg and rescue captured Allied Generals from some Japanese Nazis who watch too much Mad Max. Hence the 'fantasy' in 'Fantasy Mission Force'.

That was saying nothing about the Chinese Scots, the ninja Amazons, card-playing ghosts, or the movie having the feel of an old silent comedy. 'Fantasy Mission Force' appears to be how Jimmy Wang Yu would have made 'The Dirty Dozen' if he had been under the influence of many, many drugs. I'm not ashamed that I'm easily amused by really random comedy stories, movies etc, and thus 'Fantasy Mission Force' is something of a God-send. It may fall short as a kung-fu movie, but does that really matter when really random scenes depicting Chinese people dressed up as a Scottish marching band come and go? Yet I still think there is some method to all this madness. Did I mention that 'Fantasy Mission Force' is awesome?
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7/10
Entertaining, and much much better than Freddy's Revenge
14 September 2005
'A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge' is probably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. With that in mind, I thought that 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors' couldn't be any worse. Bam, 'Dream Warriors' was actually pretty good, probably due largely to Wes Craven returning as the writer and not having anything to do with 'Freddy's Revenge'.

One by one, the teenagers of Elm Street have been committed to the Springwood psychiatric facility. All have been having nightmares, and all apparently attempted suicide. The senior doctors blame a mass psychosis on moral guilt and attention seeking, but the new intern is none other than Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), the heroine of the first 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'. Nancy is now a psychology student specializing in dream therapy. When Nancy discovers that Kristen (Patrica Arquette) - one of the patients - can pull people into her dreams, Nancy resolves to take the Elm Street kids into Kristen's dream for one more stand against Freddy.

'Dream Warriors' is easily one of the stronger entries in the Elm Street series. The story is far more involved in fantasy / horror than it is in horror. 'Dream Warriors' is well written, and much more engaging than the second Elm Street movie (Freddy's Revenge). Instead of attempting more of the same like 'Freddy's Revenge' did, 'Dream Warriors' is much more imaginative and expands on the Elm Street / Freddy Krueger story and explores new territory. We get new insight into Freddy's origin, and an interesting - but sometimes unsettling - new story as Nancy and the kids manipulate their dreams to fight back against Freddy. The characters in 'Dream Warriors' are far more likable and sympathetic than the characters in 'Freddy's Revenge'. I felt sorry the kids, unlike in the second film when I was hoping Freddy would off Jesse soon just so the movie would be over.

Naturally, 'Dream Warriors' is filled with 80s cheese. Some of the SFX hold up today, but others are just incredibly cheesy. In between serious moments, we have dream moments in which the kids proclaim to be "the Wizard Master" or "beautiful and bad". It is oh so very cheesy. Heather Langenkamp isn't as convincing as she was in the first, and doesn't even seem to be trying while John Saxon in a brief return as Nancy's father. The soundtrack even features several songs by 80s metal band Dokken - you know you love 80s metal.

'Dream Warriors' is one of the better Elm Street movies. It isn't perfect, but anyone who wants to watch the series should skip part 2 and straight to this - 7/10
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Fang Shi Yu (1972)
6/10
Above average, or awesome?
11 September 2005
'Kung Fu: The Punch of Death' is quite a movie. First off, it has a title so awesome that no mere mortal can resist it. It also appears to be strive to be a bit more than an average kung-fu movie, but the DVD version my mate bought could possibly be one of the poorest quality DVDs in existence (the digitally degraded copy, perhaps?).

'Kung Fu: The Punch of Death' begins with our hero, Fong Su Yi (Meng Fei), being cheated by members of a rival martial arts school. Apparently Fong believes that the appropriate course of action is to start a fight his rivals and kill at least one, which he does. Fong then proceeds to cause trouble elsewhere, but then Iron Fist and Iron Leg - the masters of the rival school - seek vengeance against Fong and kill his father, leading Fong to take vengeance against the killers.

I would be lying if I said 'Kung Fu' made perfect sense. Scratch that. I would be lying if I said 'Kung Fu' was easily understood. The dubbing on the version we watched was the average dub that simplifies everything and tends to make you laugh through most of the movie and miss various chunks of dialog (which were probably just as useless / awesome anyway).

As an action movie, 'Kung Fu' tends to deviate from the standard kung-fu movies at the time. There are random fights throughout the movie, but most of them end with our hero getting beaten to within an inch of his life. The fights looked pretty good, but fight editing was distracting, and the quality of the DVD doesn't help when it changes colour during a fight or flashes red for a second.

'Kung Fu' is technically a better movie than most other kung fu movies of the time. It does put more effort into costuming and scenery, such as having most of the male cast in traditional pig-tails. Of course, if you are like me or my mates,extended shots of people racing around in attractive locations will only serve to distract people from the kung-fu. And what's the deal with Fong's mother looking around about the same as Fong, and being more attractive than Fong's love interest?

As a movie, 'Kung Fu: The Punch of Death' is an above average 6/10. For a kung-fu movie to watch with some mates, 'Kung Fu: The Punch of Death' transcends a numbered rating in awesome value (for that to make any sense, check out my 'Killer Meteors' review).
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The Eye (2002)
5/10
Damn my attention span!
8 September 2005
My attention span has much to answer for. I try to watch and enjoy a real horror movie, but given my ADD-like attention span for anything that doesn't involve giant monsters or kung-fu, I generally find myself becoming rather bored halfway through. For that reason, I tend to enjoy mindless slasher movies more than actual horror movies. 'The Eye' was no exception. It seemed like a genuinely scary horror movie, unfortunately, I became bored at the halfway mark and stopped paying full attention. Damn my attention span.

Blind from a very young age, Mun (Angelica Lee) undergoes a cornea transplant that restores her vision. The twist is, that Mun now has x-ray vision and can shoot lasers from her eyes, and must use her powers in the good fight for truth and justice. Wait - that's what SHOULD have happened, instead Mun just starts seeing dead people and having strange visions...

So, I might sound like I hated 'The Eye'. I'm not trying to give that impression, but at best, it was average. There are a couple of creepy moments in the first half, but the second half of the movie loses pace and focus. My attention span isn't all that trivial - if the 'The Eye' had stayed on track, it would have been a much better film. As it stands, it has a promising start, but quickly becomes convoluted before turning a detective story. How very exciting. When the end comes, you'll probably come to the conclusion that you've seen this movie before: it borrows heavily from other notable horror films.

I don't know whether I'm a jaded horror fan or just a lout with a really short attention span (perhaps both?), but 'The Eye' promised to be a good horror film, but was just too unbalanced - 5/10
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The Punisher (2004)
9/10
Totally awesome
8 September 2005
Having never read a Punisher comic in my life, all I can say about the new 'Punisher' film is: "awesome, totally awesome". I've also seen the Dolph Lundgren version that was made in the 80s, and Frank Castle turned up the 90s Fox 'Spider-Man' cartoon (to kill Spidey, of course). Given that exposure alone, and me being an action movie fan-boy and everything, I think I should start reading Punisher comics. They must be totally awesome.

Frank Castle (Tom Jane) is the average "cop on one final special operation before retiring to a desk job but something goes wrong" kind of cop. In this case, Castle is an undercover FBI Special Agent investigating the Saint family. The operation is blown, and Castle accidentally kills Bobby Saint. In retaliation Howard Saint (John Travolta) tracks Frank to a family reunion, and orders his goons to kill Frank and the entire Castle family. Left for dead, Frank somehow survives, and takes it upon himself to 'punish' Howard Saint and his cronies.

I mentioned before that I've never read a Punisher comic before. Without having read any Punisher stories, I can not comment on how true the latest film stays to the source material. For all I know, it could be straying very far from the comics. The movie is dark, sometimes funny, and oddly captivating. The only thing separating this from the multitude of "man's family is killed, man gets revenge" 'Death Wish' clones out there is that 'The Punisher' has strange violent opera feel to it.

As an action movie, 'The Punisher' is totally awesome. It is violent and aggressive, perfect for any action movie fan, and probably perfect for the character of Frank Castle. While the movie does slow down at times, it boasts some really cool action scenes. The best is easily Castle's one on one fight against the Russian (Kevin Nash). The fact that Tom Jane is nowhere as physically imposing as Nash or good ole' Dolph Lundgren makes that scene (and others) all the more impressive.

I've seen a few Marvel movies recently, from the terrible 'Nick Fury: Agent of Shield', through the average at best 'Elektra' to the totally awesome 'The Punisher', and I haven't even reached the 'Blade' trilogy yet, but I will, oh I will. For now, 'The Punisher' is an awesome movie, and easily my favourite of the Marvel comic adaptations - 9/10
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Elektra (2005)
4/10
Nothing happening here...
4 September 2005
Elektra, or, as I know her, "that chick from Daredevil who turned up in Wolverine's solo book once or twice". So, 'Daredevil' wasn't THAT bad. It served me well as mild entertainment once or twice. I figured that 'Elektra' might also pass as amusing - after all, it promised to be about ninjas, and I do love a good ninja movie.

After carking it in 'Daredevil', Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is brought back by her master Stick (Terence Stamp). She becomes an assassin for hire, but while on an assignment, she becomes fond of her supposed targets Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) and his thirteen year old daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout), and decides to protect from the Hand, a shadowy underworld organization of ninjas with freaky powers. Led by Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), a small group of the Hand's elite set out to finish Elektra's job and Elektra too.

Woah, so I never thought a movie all about good ninjas and bad ninjas involved in some sort of ninja war could be so boring. 'Elektra' turned out to be a character-driven ninja movie, instead of a ninja-driven ninja movie. I don't mind a non-action movie every so often, but 'Elektra' was presented a full on action movie, and that was all I wanted in the middle of doing university assignments and studying for tests. Basically, it followed the same style as 'Hulk', but was less exciting.

Jennifer Garner spends long periods of the film standing around looking bored, and generally giving out a performance one might usually expect from someone like Steven Seagal. Her Elektra was much more interesting in 'Daredevil' than in 'Elektra'. Despite an entire film about her, you really don't learn anything about the character: At one point Abby mentions that Elektra has OCD, but it just seems pointless and is never referred to again. The other characters get shafted too: Elektra's apparent love interest makes very little impact on the movie, and all we know about the villains is that they are ninjas with freaky powers. No explanation, no origin, nothing.

There is barely enough action in 'Elektra' to even qualify as an action. Much of the time wasted on following the character's around as they do nothing could have been used to beef up 'Elektra' as an action film. As it stands, they were pretty ordinary and almost nowhere to be seen. I mean, a few more extended fight scenes could have made 'Elektra' amusing at least.

'Elektra' isn't as terrible as Marvel's 'Nick Fury' movie, but it doesn't come close to some of Marvel's more awesome movies, like 'The Punisher'. At best, 'Elektra' is barely average: very little happens - 4/10
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Nick Fury: Agent of Shield (1998 TV Movie)
1/10
The sort of movie that makes you want beat the writers with a stick
1 September 2005
You know, "beer + mates + late night TV" can turn any movie into a gem. Yes, even a made for TV comic adaptation starring David Hasselhoff can be enjoyed when you and some buddies have a had a few. I can't even begin to imagine the excruciating psychological torture that must be 'Nick Fury: Agent of Shield' when taken seriously.

Nick Fury (Hasselhoff), once SHIELD's greatest agent, has retired to a remote wilderness somewhere in North America. The clichés keep coming when the evil Nazi terrorist organization Hydra attacks a SHIELD base and makes off with the body of Baron von Strucker, former Hydra leader and father of Hydra's current leader Lady Viper (Sandra Hess). Within Von Strucker's body is the last known sample of a Nazi super-virus that Hydra intend to use to create chaos and anarchy and other such contradictions of Nazi beliefs. Naturally, the only person who can stop Hydra now is the retired Nick Fury.

'Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD' is a poor excuse for a film on any level, and I refuse to believe anyone who says this film can be enjoyed without the aid of alcohol. Even for a made-for-TV comic adaptation, there a gaping plot-holes. The film's version of Hydra is a contradiction of itself (look around, someone else already made a few points about that), seemingly important events are totally forgotten about, and there are great gaps in logic. For example, SHIELD can keep their HQ (which looks to be the size of an aircraft carrier) hovering in the sky, yet they keep Von Strucker's body (and therefore, the virus sample) in a relatively undefended base on the ground?

It really is the kind of movie that makes you want to beat the writers with a stick and say "Bad writers! Bad!", etc.

Of course, to blame Goyer for 'Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD' would be a bit unfair, considering the Hoff was probably one of the best actors in the film. No, I'm not joking. Sure, all the supporting characters are stereotypes, but that doesn't mean the supporting actors have to hang around as stereotypes and make the Hoff look almost credible. Is it possible that the Hoff was surrounded by people with less talent for acting than he? Sandra Hess' entertainingly bizarre performance as Lady Viper would suggest so.

Here I am whining, and I still haven't gotten to the special effects or action scenes. The CGI looks pretty terrible, even for 1998, and the physical sets aren't much better. The action scenes are actually pretty standard for a b-movie: not completely terrible, but not very good either. If the rest hadn't sucked horribly, the action scenes might have brought my rating of 1 up to a 3 or so.

'Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD' is an awful movie, but like I said, if you want to watch it, do it with some mates and beer, or don't watch it at all - 1/10
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Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
7/10
Rumble in the Melbourne CBD?
3 August 2005
In my review of 'Who Am I?', I mentioned that 'Rumble in the Bronx', 'First Strike', 'Mr Nice Guy', and 'Who Am I?' all followed a similar formula as Jackie tried to capture western audiences. After watching 'Mr Nice Guy' again, I was actually kind of surprised to realize that it was almost a carbon copy of 'Rumble in the Bronx' - a Rumble in Melbourne's Central Business District, anyway.

Giancarlo (Richard Norton), Melbourne's top drug lord is angry because Diana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) has a tape that incriminates him. Jackie (Jackie Chan), a TV chef and arse-kicker extraordinaire comes into possession of the tape, making Giancarlo angry enough to kidnap Jackie's girlfriend Miki (Miki Lee). This makes Jackie angry. The end.

Wow. It seems like I've written out the whole plot and embellished upon it rather than summarized it. I'm just kidding - or am I? 'Mr Nice Guy' might be a contender for the thinnest plot in the universe prize, and the so called "supporting actors" don't even seem to be trying to act. Almost everything that happens in 'Rumble in the Bronx' is recycled for this. Unfortunately, the hovercraft was replaced by heavy machinery. Nothing can be an adequate substitute for Rumble's hovercraft.

Jackie kicking arse is the only reason for anyone to watch 'Mr Nice Guy'. It doesn't feature anything new or innovative, but any keen fan of Jackie should notice various 'Protector', 'Police Story' or 'Rumble in the Bronx' moments. It is a fun and exciting action film though, and that's what Jackie is all about.

And now for something completely different: Yet again, 'Mr Nice Guy' features Jackie playing a character called Jackie. I'm convinced that Jackie quit acting for several years, and took up a life as a cop, spy, chef, etc. All the while he had a film crew filming his adventures in order to create easy action movies. It's the only logical explanation - the writers can't be that lazy, right?

'Mr Nice Guy' reeks of being direct to video, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun action movie. Fans of Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung should give this a look - 7/10
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10/10
A death musical about happiness?
28 July 2005
Version: Japanese audio, English subtitles (by SBS).

Oh my, I think I have a new favourite movie, and the only way I can describe this is as a death musical about happiness. Wow, 'Happiness of the Katakuris' is possibly the most incredibly awesome movie I've ever seen.

In an effort to keep the Katakuri family together and happy, Masao (Kenji Sawada) opens a guest house in a secluded mountain area. Unfortunately, the first guest lacks clothes and apparently a reason to live, and kills himself. In a panic, the family sings, dances, and buries the body in the forest. The next guests are a sumo wrestler and his underage girlfriend, who both cark it while getting - ahem - intimate. Such a rising body count will test the Katakuri family's unity and their ability to break into impromptu song and dance numbers.

I was under the impression that 'Happiness of the Katakuris' was a zombie musical (like 'Battlefield Baseball'). Zombies only appeared in one scene in 'Happiness of the Katakuris' and yet the lack of zombies didn't disappoint me at all. Miike proves just how versatile his insanity is by directing something insane, yet far away from his standard fare. We get dancing zombies in one scene, a very strange claymation scene that seems to exist for no real purpose, and cheesy musical numbers that are well over the top. This funny and happy Miike is so much cooler than the Miike obsessed with exploding brains and unsettling torture scenes.

Ever seen the Monty Python film 'The Life of Brian'? 'Happiness of the Katakuris' ends with the same message: "always look on the bright side of life". 'Happiness of the Katakuris' is very entertaining and funny, and a great film, although I doubt it would appeal to everyone. It is my new favourite movie. In fact, I think I'll go watch it again now... - 10/10
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Geena Davis is an action heroine?
16 July 2005
I wouldn't say I'm an avid fan of director Renny Harlin, but I'm probably one of five or so (maybe less) people outside of Finland that would actually defend his work. Having seen 'The Long Kiss Goodnight', and keeping 'Die Hard 2' and 'Cliffhanger' in mind, I must say that I'm convinced he is not deserving of his bad reputation.

He did, however, direct one of the 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' sequels. Maybe that reputation is justified. Anyway, 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is cool.

Geena Davis stars as Samantha Caine, a suburban teacher with no memory of her life prior to marriage and having her daughter Caitlin (Yvonne Zima). After a little bump to the head, she begins to have flashbacks to her life as Charlie Baltimore. Oh, and now her former employers are out to kill her.

Geena Davis pulls off the dual personality thing surprisingly well. Her Samantha Caine character is almost exactly like her Eleanor Little character in the later 'Stuart Little' film, which is why I doubted her ability to pull off an arse-kicking assassin chick character. Woah, Charlie would kick my arse (and most likely yours too) any day. Geena supplies the cool heroine, Renny Harlin has a lot of crap blown up, and the audience is given a cool action movie. Awesome.

'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is an enjoyable action flick. In terms of Renny Harlin movies: it is better than 'Die Hard 2', but not as good as 'Cliffhanger', make of that what you will - 7/10
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7/10
Melodramatic teen comedy
16 July 2005
Version: Korean audio, English subtitles.

I'd nearly lost my faith in the awesomeness of random Korean movies after being subjected to '2009: Lost Memories' and 'Hwangsanbul'. Along came 'Who's Got the Tape?' and after a few "Woah, awesome, I don't understand" type sentences, I felt renewed faith in the random awesomeness of random awesome Korean movies.

'Who's Got the Tape?' carries the honour of both the strangest and silliest film I've seen all week. It is essentially a teen comedy, albeit a rather melodramatic teen comedy about a teenager held by thugs trying to find a tape that incriminates the thug's boss. It is long, but not the "What's the time? Is it over yet?" length of '2009', nor does it lose pace like 'Hwangsanbul'.

'Who's Got the Tape?' is rather funny, but like any random teen comedy, it plays a lot into sex jokes and scenes that just don't make any sense. Awesome. It would have been better had it not been as long and melodramatic - 7/10
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5/10
Jet Li looked nearly as bored as I felt
12 July 2005
Apparently there is little room for true action heroes anymore, at least if you would believe Andrzej Bartkowiak. This guy seems to think that action heroes need a rapper buddy to be taken seriously. Want proof? See 'Romeo Must Die' and 'Exit Wounds'. Not to mention this trend carrying on into Steven Seagal's 'Half Past Dead', and other terrible action films like 'Torque'. Seagal's career may be dead, but Jet Li certainly doesn't need to be hanging around with Tom Arnold, Anthony Anderson and Andrzej Bartkowiak just to keep making movies. We still love you Jet, please don't do this to yourself.

Ling (Mark Dacascos) hires Fait (DMX) to pull off a diamond heist involving black diamonds. The diamonds belong to Taiwan, and a Taiwanese agent named Su (Jet Li) attempts to recover them. Fait's deal with Ling goes sour, and so Ling kidnaps Fait's daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd) and steals the diamonds himself. Su's mission is to kung-fu his way to Ling and the diamonds, while Fait pretends to kung-fu his way to Vanessa.

So the plot involves both a kidnapping AND super-weapons! That's two clichés already! Clichés, I can stand, but I'm not so sure about dubious choices for good guys. DMX's character is a bank robber. Bank robbers are generally bad. However, the scenes with his daughter show his tenderness, and might almost cause you to believe him when he says he does what he does to get by. Of course, he says this while driving around in a luxury sports car and apparently having no real job. Am I supposed to cheer for him? Meanwhile Li frequently stands around and says nothing while showing off his "What have I done to deserve this?" face. I knew Li was going to win, so I must have looked as bored as he did.

Of course, I'm only in it for the action. 'Cradle 2 the Grave' promises a Jet Li vs. Mark Dacascos showdown. Two of the current greats of kung-fu movies, and when they finally duke it out, they only produce a scene that is above average when compared to the rest of the film. Li's cage fight is entertaining too, but the rest of the film lacked enough cool kung-fu to keep me interested. Kelly Hu put on some OK fights, Li and Dacascos were not as impressive as they should be, and there was a lot of DMX kung-fu. 'Nuff said.

'Cradle 2 the Grave' is little more than another of Li's unimpressive American films. The French 'Kiss of the Dragon' was awesome, and 'Unleashed' hasn't opened in Australia yet. It better do so soon. As for 'Cradle 2 the Grave', it may be worth at least one look for Li or Dacascos fans 5/10
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8/10
A classic as far as slasher movies are concerned
12 July 2005
'A Nightmare On Elm Street' is frequently regarded as a great horror movie. The director Wes Craven is frequently as a great modern horror director, but I have to admit that I haven't seen most of his stuff. I'd rather take John Carpenter ('Halloween', 'The Thing') any day, but I will agree: 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' is a good horror film.

The teenagers of Elm Street begin to have strange nightmares, and soon enough, the teenagers start dying in their sleep. When her best friend dies, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) becomes the next target of the dream wandering Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), but Nancy decides to fight back.

When compared to similar teen-horror films from the time (such as 'Halloween', 'Friday the 13th', and 'the Evil Dead'), 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' is slightly more subtle. Granted, it is still a teen-slasher at heart, but it has this slight subtle edge to it, bringing it above the level of the average slasher. 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' presents a good balance between slashing and playing to the mind. There is plenty of gore, but the audience is almost drawn to question Nancy's state of mind: Her parents have split up, her mother is an alcoholic, and Nancy has been going days without sleep. She can't be in her right mind, and this is what gets to us. Nearly anyone who managed to see this as a kid will tell you that this is the kind of movie that made them want to sleep with the door open, or with a night light.

'Nightmare On Elm Street' is by no means perfect though. As with most slashers, there is that element of predictability. Any avid horror fan will be able to guess, with some degree of accuracy, who will die and when, and the conclusion. Like most slashers, the actors aren't the greatest and the dialog often turns into pure 80s cheese.

In a generation of teen slasher flicks, 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' was one of the best. Shame about the the sequels though - 8/10
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8/10
Asterix!
10 July 2005
Version: French audio, English subtitles (by SBS)

It had been years since I read any Asterix books or seen the animated films when 'Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar' popped up on World Movies (an Australian cable channel specialising in foreign films). I had no choice. I had to watch it. After all, Asterix was, and always will be awesome.

It is the peak of the Roman Empire, and Rome rules over nearly all of Europe, save for one little village in Gaul. A group of Roman soldiers led by Lucius Detritus (Roberto Benigni) has made numerous attempts to subjugate the village, but our heroes Asterix (Christian Clavier) and Obelix (Gérard Depardieu) foil all attempts (with help from Getafix's magic potion...). When the villagers embarrass a Roman tax-collector, Julius Caesar (John Gottfried) becomes personally involved in the campaign to take out Asterix and co. for good.

'Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar' was incredibly funny. I had no expectations about how would it fare as a comic-to-film transfer or how it would stack up against the classic comics. I hadn't read Asterix in years, so I really couldn't expect anything. but after watching it, I have to say that the only thing that could beat watching Roman soldiers be thrown around in a live-action is reading the Asterix comics again. The sets, costumes, and special effects could be better, but this is still a very fun movie. I've previously recognized Gérard Depardieu as being "that guy who turns up in movies that I have to watch for a history class", but after his role as Obelix, he may just be one of my favourite actors.

'Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar' is an enjoyable screen interpretation of the comics. I thought it was great, and it introduced my little brother to Asterix. He has since picked up a few Asterix books, I should go read them now - 8/10
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Eegah (1962)
1/10
It isn't as fun as you would expect
10 July 2005
I watched a video called 'The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made', and it listed 'Eegah' as being the second worst film ever made, losing to 'The Incredibly Strange Creatures That Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies' and even beating 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'. I assumed that 'Eegah' would be entertainingly bad like 'Plan 9'. I have since learned my lesson about assumptions. 'Eegah' was boring and a pain to sit through.

While driving through the desert, Roxy Miller (Marilyn Manning) comes across Eegah (Richard Kiel) a pre-historic giant. Eegah runs away when Roxy's boyfriend Tom (Arch Hall Jr) turns up. Tom has the distinctive face of a villain, and is in love with his dune buggy. In fact, he makes a point of mentioning his dune buggy at any possible opportunity when his dune buggy is not on screen. Roxy's father Robert (Arch Hall Sr), being a man of science, goes out to search for Eegah. When Robert doesn't return, Roxy and Tom take the dune buggy to search for him, but end up in the hands of Eegah.

'Eegah' takes the plot formula of 'King Kong' (pre-historic creature found, creatures falls in love with girl, creature ends up in city, RAMPAGE!) and ventures into the territory of terrible films that are likely to cause to brain damage. 'Robot Monster' was fun for longer than this was, and it half an hour shorter! It should be fun, but it was generally boring and even quite annoying at times. Those times being whenever Arch Hall Jr or his dune-buggy were on screen.

'Eegah' is terrible, and no fun. The end - 1/10
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1/10
See what happens when you plagiarise?
9 July 2005
Version: Spanish audio, English subtitles (by SBS)

I don't watch the World Movies channel very often, but when I do, it is usually to watch something awesome like 'Tears of the Black Tiger' or some live-action Asterix movie. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other Spanish horror films I've seen, so I have to hope to hope that the rest aren't as mind-numbingly boring as 'Who's Watching?'.

University students Toni (Antonio Hortelano) and Roberto (Lorenzo Armenteros) are on their way to party, but they are faced with the dilemma of having an essay due the next day. The solution? The internet! While trying to download an essay, they have a chat with someone called Keller. This Keller fellow seems slightly unstable, and informs Toni and Roberto that they are now playing Keller's game. From then on, things go bad: Toni, Roberto and a group of their friends are routinely kidnapped and enjoy near death experiences and it appears as though someone is watching them. That oughta show those no-good punks Toni and Roberto that plagiarism is wrong.

'Who's Watching?' is a paranoia thriller at heart. That is made painfully obvious at the very start when we are told that thousands of camera are watching us every day, monitoring our safety. I think I lost all interest in the film right then. I don't know what is about paranoia thrillers, but I generally can't get into them. If the film worked as a horror movie, it would probably have been more interesting. Problem is, it doesn't work at all.

The script is terrible. It plods along, and frequently fails to make any sense. I generally reserve judgments about acting when a language barrier is involved, but none of the actors in this seem all that convincing. They really belong in a slasher instead of trying to tackle some sort psychological horror. Probably due to the poor script and acting, there is no tension or atmosphere, and the story twists are predictable. It is much longer than it should be: long, drawn out, and boring. If it was shorter and condensed, it may have sustained more interest.

'Who's Watching' is boring, and a poor horror film. I really can't think of anyone who might enjoy it - 1/10
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5/10
An extraordinary case of half awesome, and half terrible
9 July 2005
Version: Korean audio, English subtitles

What do you get when you combine Korean history with a strange mix of Monty Python and tear jerking drama? 'Hwangsanbul' sounded like a Korean version of Monty Python war / comedy, something like 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. I got gypped. Again. Well, at least it wasn't as bad as '2009: Lost Memories'.

'Hwangsanbul' is set in fifth century Korea, where the three Korean kingdoms of Baekche, Koguryo and Shilla bicker amongst themselves, but must pay tribute to the Tang empire in China. After a dispute about blocking trade routes, Shilla and Tang soldiers attack Baekche. The hero of Baekche is Kye-baek (Joong-Hoon Park), a rather loony fellow who must hold out against the 50,000 strong Shilla army with only 5,000 troops of his own.

'Hwangsanbul' is probably a film best suited for those well versed in Korean history. I wouldn't know, as I am not well versed in Korean history, and nor are the friends with whom I watched this. It took us a while to figure out what exactly was going on, as it is a little strange, at least to anyone without much the historical / cultural knowledge. The first half (maybe even the first two-thirds) of the film is very funny though, and a few scenes seem inspired by 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. If the movie had continued like that, it would have been solid gold, but there is a point where the movie turns into more of a serious drama. The film loses pace and focus, and the audience loses interest: the second half is rather boring.

'Hwangsanbul' is an average comedy at best, which is a shame because it starts off so well but fizzles out long before the end. There are some great scenes, and then there are scenes that almost dare you to turn it off before the end - 5/10
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Hero (2002)
5/10
Needs more Donnie Yen
6 July 2005
Here's something about myself that I still don't understand: I'm the kind of guy who thinks 'Hero' needed more Donnie Yen (in fact, all movies need more Donnie Yen), and who would recognize Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung from their appearances in Jackie Chan films. Yet when it comes to Zhang Yimou, I consider 'House of Flying Daggers' to be almost worthless and Yimou's earlier drama 'To Live' to be a much better film, more deserving of a place in IMDb's top 250 'Hero'. Honestly, 'Hero' is pretty boring.

Thousands of years ago, China was divided into seven kingdoms, the most powerful being the Qin kingdom. The King of Qin (played by Daoming Chen) sought to unite / conquer all of China to enforce one land, one people, one written language, etc. The assassins Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung), and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) vowed to kill the King of Qin, but when the three assassins are defeated by a nameless official (Jet Li), Nameless is granted an audience with the King and asked to recount how he defeated the three great assassins.

Now I don't mean to trivialize things, but 'Hero' originally appeared as a wu-xia rather than a drama, and it stars Jet Li and Donnie Yen and Siu-Tung Ching was the action choreographer. With such a line-up, how was I not going to expect a straight up as wu-xia kung-fu movie? Any fan of kung-fu movies would know that before 'Hero', Jet Li and Donnie Yen last faced off on screen in 'Once Upon a Time in China 2' (1992), and it is easily one of the best kung-fu fights on screen. Most of the action in 'Hero' is generally slow and boring. It definitely needed more Donnie Yen.

People will tell me that I'm missing the point if I look at 'Hero' solely as a kung-fu film. Yes, I noticed all the pretty colours, and yes, I noticed the Kurosawa and 'Rashomon' style, but I still thought 'Hero' was rather dull. On the other hand, even though the ideology behind 'Hero' is arguable, I find it somewhat strange that a film that seems to support totalitarian ideology is so widely praised.

'Hero' is a visually stunning film, unfortunately I'm not interested in that. It is a boring action film, and the message is somewhat questionable. It needed more Donnie Yen - 5/10
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Ringu 2 (1999)
6/10
Did someone call for Mystery Inc?
6 July 2005
I did it! I finally did it! You may be asking what I did, well, I finally managed to watch 'Ring 2' without falling asleep or turning it off due to boredom. I thought 'Ju-on: The Grudge', 'Dark Water', and 'Audition' were great, but I've never been able to get into any of the Ring movies. I blame the hype, but after 'Rasen' anything will look good.

Days after the events of 'Ring', Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) and her son Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka) have gone into hiding. Ryuji Takayama has died in mysterious circumstances, and Masami Kurahashi (Hitomi Sato) has been committed to a hospital. Filling in for Mystery Inc (minus the van and Scooby Doo, of course) are Ryuji's assistant Mai Takano (Miki Nakatani); Okazaki (Yurei Yanagi), a reporter taking over Reiko's investigation into the curse of Sadako; and Detective Omuta (Kenjiro Ishimaru), investigating the mysterious deaths of Reiko's father and Ryuji Takayama.

I found that sitting through the first two thirds of 'Ring 2' is quite a test of patience. There is little tension and suspense as Mystery Inc wade their way through what is more of a detective / drama movie. The final act is much better and is worth watching. There are no cheap scares, but there is a creepy atmosphere with some interesting plot developments. However, with a rather dull first hour, 'Ring 2' is quite a struggle to sit through.

I've really tried to like the Ring films, but with so much hype regarding them, I've only been disappointed by all except 'Ring 0: Birthday'. The moral of this story kiddies, is that hype easily ruins horror movies.

'Ring 2' should appeal to fans of the first film, but should be viewed with the first as part of the series and not viewed as a stand-alone film. It will just be too confusing. Those who didn't enjoy the first film should probably avoid this - 6/10
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1/10
Almost unwatchable
6 July 2005
Ever wanted proof of how an original movie (that is regarded by some as a classic) can easily descend into the realm of really pathetic sequels? Well, look no further than 'Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge'. You might not have expected it to be good in the first place, but thought "it can't be THAT bad!". I did. I was so very wrong.

Five years after Nina Thompson's battle with Freddy, the Walsh family moves into the old Thompson residence, without knowing why it was so cheap and why no one has lived there for the past five years. Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) starts having nightmares about Freddy, while his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) finds Nina Thompson's diary. It turns out Freddy needs to possess Jesse so that Freddy can start killing again, but Lisa knows how to play Freddy at his own game.

What's wrong with 'Freddy's Revenge'? Well, nearly everything. For a horror movie, it doesn't have much of anything to actually scare. There's no tension, suspense, or atmosphere. Freddy's crazy dream world rarely appears. You might expect a series of bloody murders to keep slasher fans happy, and even then there is not enough action to keep people interested. The script in the first film wasn't very good, but the second is terrible. The lead actors are rather poor and lines like "animals don't normally explode for no reason" make it almost unwatchable.

'Freddy's Revenge' is only for Freddy fans / horror buffs. Some of those people might even find something like about this film, but I didn't - 1/10
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2/10
Me vs Needles of Boredom
5 July 2005
Version: 'Kung Fu Theatre' DVD, English dub

Be forewarned: 'Dragon vs Needles of Death is nowhere near as cool as the cover might suggest. The cover does a good job of presenting what could be an entirely different movie altogether, as 'Dragon vs Needles of Death' certainly did not feature the kung-fu fighter who sported an afro. The afro was on the DVD cover, but not in the movie. I'm not impressed. I want my five dollars back.

Needle Throwing Dude (I can't remember his name) enters a kung-fu school, but as soon as he joins, he runs off with the master's daughter Mei Lei. They leave behind a jealous Sami, the school's top fighter, who also runs off. Coincidentally, they end up in the same town - Needle Throwing Dude as a salt smuggler, and Sami as an apprentice blacksmith - and opposing the local mob leader, who wants all the salt for himself. Or something. I missed that.

'Dragon vs Needles of Death' isn't the worst chop-socky flick I've ever seen, but it is nowhere near any of the best. As the plot progresses we get treated to far too much 'intrigue' and "I am your father" type stuff, until the final scenes where the kung-fu just drags on far too long. Most of the fights up towards the end were poorly edited and choreographed (I suspect that many extras were really just flailing their arms about wildly). The scenes towards the end were much better, but managed to continue until long after I had gotten quite bored.

'Dragon vs Needles of Death' is pretty boring, but fans of this kind of stuff should at least give it one go - 2/10
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