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It Did Not Suck. It's actually pretty decent family movie.
14 February 2020
I live in Asia so we got to see the movie 1 day earlier than the U.S. And no Corona-chan is not a problem in my exact location.

I can tell you with all certainty that Sonic the Hedgehog Movie does not suck. It's actually a decent family movie. A little basic for adults, the pacing and a certain plot in the middle is rather poorly executed but on the whole, the main plot is fine, the acting is fine, the jokes are okay-ish, the music is fine, the production is really good, the animation is really good and the movie is fun.

It's not going to win any awards but it's good enough for casual movie-goers and more than good for Sonic fans. I gave it an extra Star from a 7 because the creators actually listened to fans and gave a good-looking Sonic which in all honesty, is what made the film because Sonic looked good. Real good. Sonic's animation is quite a joy to watch and doesn't take you out of the immersion.
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Joker (2019)
The Next Evolution of Comic Book Films.
3 October 2019
I think Jeremy Jahns said it best, "Joker gives movie fans and movie go-ers the ability to see what comic book fans have seen for years," and I agree.

Granted, Joker is nowhere faithful to the comics' origin and that's okay, because the character Joker only has apocryphal origin. Todd Philips craft a story that reflects the spirit of it's comic book lore with skillful panache. Also true, is that this movie could not have worked half as good if it wasn't for Joaquin Phoenix - he is masterful in making you feel both uncomfortable but empathetic in understanding the mind of a psychotic killer and at once not justifying nor condoning the choices that his character makes.

He is after all a villain, and Phoenix has shaped and chiseled a fine villain here.

In a recent interview, Phoenix commented that he did not refer to any previous incarnations or interpretations of the Joker and I think it shows. He fully owns the character here; this is his Joker - a raw, gritty, grimy and unpolished Joker - and even though in my opinion it's not as good as Heath Ledger's, Phoenix's performance can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with Ledger's.

Other notables is the really good sound design, original soundtrack and score, of which really adds to the atmosphere of the film, I would recommend watching in a Dolby Atmos theater, as well as the above average cinematography that captures both figuratively and literally the filth and decay that infests Gotham.

The movie is not perfect (though I understand why many would deem so). I find that in the end, I wanted more Joker. I am fine with Arthur Fleck and the buildup towards the Joker is necessary and I was entertained. But I wanted more Joker. I wanted more of the mayhem, more carnage, and more dark humor. Joker 2019 had some jokes, but it was contained in the last third of the movie.

The movie is also deliberately slow paced, but the end is worth it. Arthur Flecks slow descent and ultimate transformation into the Joker is a gratifying moment for comic book fans and even non-comic book readers who have arduously discussed and imagined this character for decades. This is the best deep dive of Joker that you're going to get out a film.

Still, I believe that this is a fantastic leap forward for comic book films, just as the Dark Knight was a leap forward of the genre in 2008. After the tiresome though admittedly entertaining decade of MCU popcorn flicks, we who grew up with them are ready for something more and Joker delivers.
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Kim Possible (2002–2007)
One of the very things Disney TV got right.
11 July 2019
Let's face it, Disney sucks; but there was a time when it wasn't. I'd say Disney's golden age started in 1990s and ended exactly 2007. And Kim Possible is the last thing that Disney got right before they became the Evil Empire.

What exactly did it got right? It treated their views with intelligence, both kids and adults. Unlike most of Disney TVs live-action offerings during that time, Kim Possible was action-packed with witty dialogues, interesting story arcs, memorable side characters, villains that you could root for and voice-acting that is top-notch.

Rufus, Shego, Draken, Ron Stoppable, the Possible twins, Mr. Barkin, Bonnie, Monkey Fist, the Go family - almost everyone if not everyone will leave an impression.

It's basically a great action adventure cartoon but with sass; lots and lots of sass. I'd definitely binge it again, if I didn't already despise Disney.
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Jet Li's Best Action Movie.
21 February 2019
In action movies, the fight scenes need to be intense and impactful. You need to empathize with the pain of seeing someone getting punched or kicked in the film. Many of Jet Li's movies, such Once Upon A Time in China or Fong Sai Yuk, the fight scenes lack that intensity and impact. Rather, what you're watching is more akin to watching a martial arts ballet. Now, this is good for high-conceptual movies like Hero, or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon where the violence is more intellectual than visceral.

To marry martial arts ballet into an action movie is like watching a team of soccer players doing the Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy in the middle of a soccer match - it's just not right no matter how you look at it. Which is why many of Jet Li's movies don't quite work; Jet Li is martial arts ballet, not a martial arts fighter.

But Fist Of Legend is the first and best instance, where you actually witness Jet Li the fighter, and it's glorious.

For those don't already know, Fist Of Legend is a loose remake and a homage to Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, as well as being a very distant sequel I would argue, to Yuen Woo Ping's underrated 1982 masterpiece Legend of a Fighter. The story is about Chen Zhen, a student of the murdered Fok Yun Kap (Hou Yuen-Jia in Mandarin), who wishes to avenge his teacher.

While Fist of Fury was good in it's own right, Fist of Legend expands upon the premise. Fist of Fury like many it's Chinese contemporaries, opted to portray any and all non-Chinese as 'the bad guys': very one dimensional, no depth, basically just an excuse for violence. Fist of Legend opted to showcase the spectrum and complexity of humanity. There are good people and there are bad people, regardless of what nationality, or race, or tribe, or culture you belong to.

This gives the movie so much more depth and the conflict between Chen Zhen, torn between his Japanese lover and his loyalty to his race, making him immediately more relatable and lifelike. Jet Li wears the role of Chen Zhen superbly, and I would argue that his interpretation of Chen Zhen is better than Bruce Lee's, and is the standard of other Chen Zhen interpretations after.

In fact, the acting all around is great. Chin Siu Ho is great as the Huo Ting Yan, the son and successor to the Jingwu school. He gives a credible performance of a man coming to terms with his own inadequacies. Also starring is Yasuaki Kurata (the schoolteacher in Legend of a Fighter). His role I admit, is somewhat contrived because it doesn't have any bearing towards the main plot, but his character Funakochi Fumio, the best warrior of the Dragon Clan, is not wasted.

Fumio is a character that represents what ideally martial arts should be, and Kurata's fight scene with Jet Li, is, the highlight of the film; creative, dynamic, explosive, inventive, visceral, philosophical and all-round entertaining. And for those that have already watched Legend of a Fighter, there's more than 1 or 2 easter egg reference to that movie.

And that, really the action scenes are the main reason why you should watch this film. It. Is. Glorious. There is no bad nor weak fight scenes here; everything is high class, fast-paced action that makes you wince in pain when somebody gives or takes a hit.

The movie has flaws though. Billy Chow is imposing as Fujita, but Fujita could've been fleshed out better. And the prostitute Rose is a completely unnecessary character and a forced plot device in the movie, but these two things are minor gripes compared to the quality of the movie as a whole.

As I stated in the title, this is Jet Li's best action movie. Recommended.
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An Often Overlooked Yuen Woo Ping's Masterpiece.
20 February 2019
First off, please allow me to rant just for one paragraph. Anyone who believes that this movie is about Nationalism, have completely missed the point of the entire film. While sino ethno-nationalism pride is a theme here in Legend of a Fighter, the subtext is how too much pride of one's country, one's own race and one's own tribe, does at times be a detriment to humankind as a whole. Not always, but some times. Kung Fu and martial art does not belong to a particular race. It belongs to the world, to those who have the will, the discipline and the determination to overcome obstacles.

Thank you for indulging my rant.

So, this is among the best screenplay and story among all of Yuen Woo Ping's films. The dialogue here is captivating, the direction focused (for the most part) the pacing is precise, the acting is inspired, the motivations believable and the plot flows naturally. While not at all the same level of magnificense as any of Akira Kurosawa's film, this is as close as Woo Ping would ever get to a near Shakespearean tragedy.

Unlike many contemporary Hong Kong and Chinese films, Legend of a Fighter delves into grey areas of the human condition rather than resort to a black and white view of good and evil, asking very difficult questions and at times revealing harsh answers.

"Is it worth wasting your time and effort on the weak?" "Is Kung Fu for everyone or just a select few?" "Is pride really worth killing and dying?"

The acting by Yasuaki Kurata is very much the highlight here as the schoolteacher for the Fok Family, and his chemistry with both Brian Leung (older Fok Yun Kap) and Yuen Yat Cho (younger Fok Yun Kap) is what drives the film and it's ultimately gratifying end. Both Brian Leung and Yuen Yat Cho each does an excellent job representing the historical figure Fok Yun Kap both young and old.

And the arc for Fok Yun Kap is written expertly. From his struggle as a boy rejected by his father, bullied by others, to never giving up, striving forward and becoming the successor to the Fok Family Kung Fu to the the tragic ultimatum that would shaped his philosophy for Chinese martial arts.

Having said all this, there are flaws in the movie. The entire Boat Scene is completely unnecessary and doesn't belong in the narrative at all. It's an entirely a filler scene. And the Fight Choreography is good but not great. The atmosphere and tone of the film required realistic instead of the stylized Kung Fu that Yuen Woo Ping was known for during this period. Though I must emphasis, that the fight scenes aren't bad, just that it could've been better.

I dare not give away too much because I don't want to spoil the film. Just watch it. It's really good.
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More Simon Yuen and Hwang Jung Lee Goodness
19 February 2019
If you're already a huge fan of Simon Yuen and Hwang Jung Lee, then this movie should be on your watchlist. While not considered as among the best of Yuen Woo Ping's works, I would consider Dance of the Drunken Mantis as a really good fan service movie for the 'fu film buff.

What you're watching here is the creative and inventive fight choreography between Simon Yuen and Hwang Jung Lee, particularly the midnight drinking scene, which is more stylized and dance-like rather than fight-like. In fact, most of the fight scene here very much a kung fu dance interpretation. Sick Boxing for example, is a martial art dance interpretation of a physical ailments, while Scrooge Fist is a silly interpretation of a greedy banker's Kung Fu.

It's all meant for entertainment and not to be taken seriously. Which is why the screenplay is pretty much mediocre, but still is coherent in it's narrative.

Acting wise, everyone brought their A game. Dean Shek is as his usual comedic best and always own the scenes which he's in even in Snake In the Eagle's Shadow, and Drunken Master 1. Linda Lin is very much underused - okay so she can't act, and she's basically a dancer but her Kung Fu scenes could've been better in my opinion.

Yuen Shun Yi is pretty good as Foggy. He has some charisma though his physicality is lacking when compared to Hwang Jung Lee or even Jackie Chan to be taken as a serious action film star. Unfortunately, Foggy is simply not a compelling main character. There's nothing about his circumstance that warrants any emotional investment and this really lessens significance of his character and dilutes the plot of the story that he's in.

Simply put, you probably won't care about Foggy and what happens to him. But the movie forces Foggy upon you so you have to put up with it, instead having a cogent reason why you should care.

Regardless, Foggy isn't why you should watch the movie any. No, that honor and definitely the best performances here belongs to Hwang Jung Lee and Simon Yuen, the former in another delicious villainous role and the latter returning as the crowd favourite Beggar So.

Both of these actors owns every scene their in, even with weak scenes (that mostly include Foggy) and they anchor the audience to the movie. As stated, the midnight drinking scene is very enjoyable to watch, creative and inventive and is probably the only time where these two actors duel it out on-screen.

Be sure to include this movie if you're going through Yuen Woo Ping's catalog.
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THE Definitive 'Fu Film
18 February 2019
While Snake In The Eagle's Shadow demonstrated Jackie Chan's potential to be a major action film star, Drunken Master solidifies it. Returning with nearly the entire cast, Drunken Master is effectively recreating the magic that Yuen Woo Ping and crew made with Snake In The Eagle's Shadow.

And lightning struck twice.

Drunken Master is a better film in almost every measure - almost. I do think that the comedy in Snake is better but it's still good here. Rather what's amazing about this movie is without doubt the fight choreography. Every fight scene is creative, clever and a joy to watch. The training montage, complete with that motivational 'On The General Orders' theme song (commonly referred to as 'Wong Fei Hung' theme song) is inspiring.

Also, this is probably the definitive film interpretation of Drunken Fist, and it's mesmerizing. Jackie Chan performs the Drunken Fist with panache and no other theatrical or film Kung Fu choreography that is even comes close to what Chan and Yuen accomplished here.

The action scenes have also improved; this is where you get to witness the trademark Jackie Chan-style action sequences that emphasizes props and the environment will full effect, that Chan would carry in all his films after.

The acting here is all around stellar. Jackie is somehow very appropriate as the dickish Wong Fei Hung (not at all related to the historical figure) and surprisingly Chan actually shows quite the emotional range. But the star here must be Simon Yuen Siu Tien who really personifies and breathes life to another historical figure Beggar So Hat Yee.

Also another outstanding performance is Hwang Jung Lee as the deliciously villainous assassin Thunderlegs. Though his scenes are few, Hwang produces among the best martial arts performance of his career, culminating in an epic, fittingly and satisfyingly climactic final battle with Jackie Chan.

With all this said, this movie is not without obvious flaws. Even though the direction, pacing, acting, comedy, action scenes are all great, the story itself is only mediocre, even borderline bad.

The lead character Wong Fei Hung is unlikeable: he's a complete dick and not at all a person you want to root for, and at the end, he never really see the error of his ways - he didn't quite redeem his past transgressions. The ending was also rushed, with the motive for the final fight and the involvement of Beggar So in the last scene is out of place and sudden.

Despite all of this, Drunken Master is THE definitive 'Fu film and if you enjoy cinema, this is one of the movies that you must watch.
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An Almost Perfect Example of How To Make a 'Fu Film.
18 February 2019
It's not hyperbole to say that Yuen Woo Ping - and as an extension the entire Yuen Clan - really left a long-lasting, significant and impactful legacy in action film cinema, and truly, Drunken Master 1 as well as Snake In The Eagle's Shadow are shining examples of this legacy.

I'm really pleased how well Snake In The Eagle's Shadow have aged over 40 years (WTF, HAS IT BEEN 40 YEARS??) It is still watchable today as it was then, without cringe, without embarrassment, fully immersed in the spectacle carried by a simple storyline.

Yes, the story is simple, but you don't need a sophisticated story to be entertaining. You just need the story to be believable and coherent. Fortunately, Snake In The Eagle's Shadow does slightly a bit more with actual story progression as well as character arcs for our main protagonist Jackie Chan as well as the supporting character played by Simon Yuen Siu Tien.

Jackie's slapstick comedy and over-the-top expression of agony fits like a glove here, and the comedy is great all throughout the film. The arc of the central lead Chan Fu, an orphan that is bullied by everyone, possessing a naive but ultimately good heart, the struggle he face, his journey to become better, is told in a relatively fast paced but still in a satisfactorily congruent way.

Simon Yuen is also excellent and convincing as Pak Siong Tin as the old kung fu master on the run, playing him in a very Taoist way not dissimilar (in fact you could say identical) to his other legendary role of the Beggar So Hat Yee from Drunken Master.

The other standout actor is Hwang Jung-Lee as Sheng Kuen, the main antagonist. If Hwang's role as Thunderlegs in Drunken Master is his best work, then his role as Sheng Kuan here is his second best. There's no mistaking that Hwang is an accomplished martial artist and his fight scenes really attest to that. His fight scenes are almost always worth watching simply for the physicality of it.

And physicality is the other highlight of this film. Yes, this has got to be among the most well choreographed Kung Fu scene in the genre, and I speculate is where Jackie formed his trademark style of using props and surroundings in action scenes. The training montages are well worth watching and the music for this film is also stellar and dramatic, opting for synthesizers instead of classical instruments.

The one very obvious, uncontroversial flaw of this movie, and the reason why I'm giving it an 8 instead of 9 or 10, is the very anti-climactic Cat's Claw. Other reviewers here in IMDB have commented on it as well. It's just not good. It's very much a major weak point in the entire film and really made the ending fall flat after such a great first 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Still, it isn't such a critical or catastrophic flaw to dissuade or spoil your enjoyment of the movie. This is one of the best Jackie Chan and Yuen Woo Ping movies ever made and it highly recommended that you watch it.
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Dragon Fist (1979)
Underrated Early Jackie Kung Fu Drama.
17 February 2019
What surprises me is how good the story was. Yes, it's a very basic and not a terribly unique premise, but it was well directed nonetheless (from which I heard rumors that Jackie himself directed but Lo Wei took the credit).

Whatever. The point is this film - Dragon Fist - is a surprisingly good dramatic kung fu period film. And I've always said that early Jackie Chan is best Jackie Chan and this movie is really worth mentioning in the same vein as Drunken Master 1 and Snake In The Eagles Shadow.

Much of the meat of this film is indeed the story; it starts of as a generic 'bully kills my master' setup but by 10th minute, almost immediately the story progresses and takes a twist. Through the length of the film, the movie dances into surface-level ideas of revenge and redemption, being stuck between a rock and hard place, right and wrong, what is honor and what it being honorable and I think it manages - not always but for the most part - succeeds in telling that story.

There is an arc here - Jackie Chan's character have the most developed arc of the story and it's executed well enough even though it wasn't deep enough. The acting is also - not everyone but for the most part - well done. There isn't anyone here deserving of an oscar, but everyone played their respective roles good enough that you don't have to suspend too much belief.

The action deserves a special mention because it is on the whole very well choreographed. It doesn't have the signature bombastic Kung Fu move shout-outs - rather it's simply stylized and theatrical kung fu fighting and in my opinion, gives the movie an extra hot sauce dash of appropriate realism.

If you've watched Drunken Master 1, and you've watched Snake In The Eagle's Shadow, then you should be watching this one too.
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It's Good.
15 February 2019
To be honest, I don't like John Woo's films. They are too contrived in my opinion and he often lean towards style while sacrificing substance. The only other film that John Woo managed to successfully marry both style and substance is Face/Off and A Better Tomorrow.

A Better Tomorrow manages to tell a somewhat heartfelt story of a former gangster trying to reform his ways but finds out that out past always somehow manages to creep up on us.

The screenplay and direction is good even though the pacing is a little slow. The acting is overall good although each character could have been fleshed out better. The action sequences were well choreographed even though by today standards it's normal.

But I think that's the main take away of this film; before A Better Tomorrow, action films were just an excuse for action with very loose story and plot and mediocre acting. A Better Tomorrow had good action, good acting with a good story and a satisfying ending.

It set the bar for Hong Kong action films to better and for the most part it succeeded. Worth a watch for Hong Kong movie history buff.
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Like watching an awkward kid trying to act cool.
15 February 2019
Anyone who has ever lived through the 80s and early 90s knows for a fact how cringe worthy that entire period was, even with nostalgia glasses on. But the fact is also, that society back then was much more innocent and less cynical.

To say that TMNT the movie is a cult classic is true. Is it worthy of much of it's adoration? Unfortunately no. In 1990, we already had Tim Burton's Batman, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and countless other more cult classics that still are far better than TMNT in terms of storyline, special effects, screenplay, dialogue, acting, voice acting, production, direction, music; the works.

Where TMNT ultimately triumphs is it's naive attempt to make a fun film regarding 4 turtles and a rat that was anthropomorphised due to a radioactive substance, spend their time being ninja heroes while living underground in New York city. I mean for god sakes, this film could've gotten worse, but it didn't. In fact, by most measures, it was decent - not amazing, but decent.

However, you can't escape the fact that certain facets of the film is bad. You could argue that it falls in the category of "it's so bad it's good." But I would wager that most who says that are watching it either through nostalgic 7 year old eyes or a naive rose-tinted glasses.

Either way, if you show this to any of the kids these days, they'd whine for most of the length of the film.

As for me who actually was an adolescent when I first watched this, watching it again felt like watching some embarrassing home movie of a socially awkward kid trying to act cool but failing.

But I know there are some who gets a kick out of watching those things too.
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An Okay Film
18 December 2018
It's easy to give this movie a hard time using today's metrics and it's easy to forget that before Bruce Lee, there no martial arts film that had such a global acceptance.

True, the story is kind of weak, the dialogue is god awful, the acting is laughably campy, the production is mediocre, the fight choreography was mostly bland, the direction is meh and the ending is cringey.


it's Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris. And it's probably the only time you see Chuck Norris ever beaten (even if it was only fiction).

However, I don't think the plot is bad - it was just poorly executed. It could be a Hong Kong style gangster movie set in Rome. I think The Way of the Dragon could use a modern reimagining.

Otherwise, it's an okay film.
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Armour of God (1986)
1 December 2018
The high reviews of this movie just proves how much idiocy and blind faith there is with the mass population. Armour of God is with purest certainty, one of the weakest of Jackie Chan's films. The story is bad, the script is bad, the acting is bad, the comedy is lame with bad timing and even worse punchline, the action and stunts are bad (and it almost killed Jackie Chan too) the production is bad, everything is just bad.

The plot is about ex-pop band members who went their separate ways, with Jackie becoming a thief/tomb raider and is coerced into joining forces with his ex band member to help their kidnapped love interest who had become a fashion designer, by a European religious sex cult by stealing/acquiring 3 of the 5 artifacts known as the Armour of God.

Yeah, it is as stupid as it sounds.

Most of Jackie Chan's films don't have exceptional stories but at least you can say that the action was good. Here, it is not. The opening scene in "Africa" is absolutely disappointing. The stunt is lame, the action is soft, the fight is tame. And the rest of the film is doesn't get any better. The next 30 minutes are boring storytelling before leading up to the car chase scene. But the cars seemed to be driven at 40 km/h - yeah, mind-numbing excrement and there's still 70 minutes left.

I'm not going any further because by this point, if you keep watching you're doing it at your own risk. Instead, I want to add a small rant.

Now, I understand that blackface isn't quite a thing in Hong Kong or China. But after all these years, Asian films - Hong Kong and China - have never depicted Africans (whether native, European or American) in a good light. I'm not necessarily complaining but I find it just strange. Armour of God especially proves this point, where it seems that the entire extras are basically scrawny Chinese men in black paint talking gibberish to represent what Africans are. With the exception of maybe Bruce Lee's movies, I've never seen any Chinese movie that portrays Africans positively - it's always negative. If art imitates life, then it seems that Chinese people do think very little of Africans.

Why is that? Here I believe, is proper justification to say that the Chinese are just racist.

In my honest opinion, this movie is a bust.
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Mr. Vampire (1985)
Excellent Horror/Action Comedy Cult Hit.
27 November 2018
Around the time when Sam Raimi had the cult hit horror comedy The Evil Dead, on the other side of the world, Hong Kong had their own Horror Comedy franchise with Mr Vampire.

Mr Vampire isn't really scary, nor is it outright funny, but it's all around entertaining. This movie is probably my clearest and most vivid recollection of what Chinese ghost stories are and to be honest, there are no other Hong Kong horror films that is worth remembering, nor have they endured the ages as well as Mr Vampire.

What is most interesting about this film is the lore. Chinese Ghost lore is an excellent source of comedy because of how over the top things are. I mean consider this, a Chinese vampire is basically what can be considered in the west as a blood-sucking zombie that hops around with the hands outstretched and can be stopped with a yellow paper written in black ink and chicken's blood stuck on the vampire's forehead.

How can you not find that entertaining?

The story is ridiculous but surprisingly coherent from start to finish. The acting is appropriately overacted. The comedy timing is for the most part solid. The action is very well choreographed which is why fans regard this as also a Kung Fu action film.

If you're a fan of 80's Hong Kong films, you definitely want to give this a watch.
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Supercop (1992)
Objectively The Best Sequel In The Franchise
24 November 2018
The fact that it only has 6.9 rating on IMDB shows that you should never take ratings at face value. Supercop (or Police Story 3) is by any metric - production, acting, plot, script, action, stunts, - is probably the best among the Police Story installment.

I don't agree that the story is convoluted; it's not. It's easy to follow and while you may argue that a lot of it is predictable (all Jackie Chan's films are predictable) there is coherence and no wasted filler in the film at all.

The stunts in Police Story 3 is top notch, especially towards the end with scenes of Jackie dangling 100 meters off the air. A criticism that I could give is that the action feels slow compared to his 80s films but by this time, Jackie is considerably older.

Speaking of which, the acting and screen time given to the actors here are proportioned and delivered well enough. Let's be real, Chinese/Hong Kong stars are excellent physical actors but not much else.

Emotionally, Asian actors tend to either underact or overact which is good in comedy and action but is horrible for drama. Here though, everything is tolerable and adequate enough as to not distract from the pacing of the story.

Maggie Cheung is still underused, meh. Michelle Yeoh is adequately good. And Jackie Chan manages to make Chan Ka Kui feel slightly more mature and less juvenile, whoch is also good. True to all Jackie Chan's films, the bad guys tend to be forgettable (with exceptions).

Still, along with Project A, Drunken Master 1&2, Supercop (Police Story 3) is among the top Jackie Chan movies that is a recommended watch.
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Police Story (1985)
Not Quite Great, But Good Nonetheless
24 November 2018
While I don't disagree with Jackie Chan viewing this as his best action film he ever made, the story in Police Story 1985 doesn't age well.

First the bad. There are way too many unnecessary filler scenes in this film, including one where Jackie Chan breakdance to get turd off of his shoe. A lot of the actors are underused including an extremely young Maggie Cheung.

The plot is flimsy and the story overall is pretty weak and mostly is used as an excuse to paste the action scenes together.

That being said, the action sequences are undoubtedly good. The opening gambit, taking place on top of a hill, as well as the final gambit which takes place in a mall are both well filmed, well choreographed and very entertaining.

Is it worth watching? My answer is "meh".
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Project A (1983)
An underrated Jackie Chan classic
8 September 2018
Before there was the first Police Story, there was Project A and in it Jackie manages to pull off his trademark fast-paced signature choreograph action scenes that would define 80s Hong Kong action films.

While the story has a lot to be desired, it plays only second billing to the remarkable and innovative action set pieces littered generously over 1 hour and 44 minutes. Certainly it's not wrong to say if you're watching this for some philosophical awakening, then you are being stupid.

No, long before the Marvel Universe, people watched other people do incredibly dangerous stunts, all without special effects - something that is sorely missed in post-millennial age of film-making.

Highly recommended action film.
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A Small Step Towards The Right Direction
6 May 2018
I can summarize KL Special Force as good but not great with many of it's elements being a good idea which could've been great with better production, bigger budget and better equipment. Despite it's obvious flaws, the film succeeds in being entertaining, and probably the first Malaysian made movie that I could safely - though cautiously - recommend for local support.

Firstly, I would like to commend the dialogue and script; it is mature and Malaysian. Syafiq Yusof's direction is transparently influenced by Hong Kong films as well as Michael Bay films, though it doesn't work all the time - especially the over-the-top posturing (which is very Hong Kong) and obnoxious shouting and explosions (very Michael Bay) - but on the whole, the feel and atmosphere is right.

The acting is better than what I'd expect, but I didn't expect much in the first place. While it's true that the constant shouting is annoying a.f. the delivery is acceptable. Rosyam Norshould be happy that he gave a decent performance here, although they shouldn't be content about it either.

Fattah Amin is understandably gave an annoying performance - it's not entirely his fault as the script calls for his character to be a dick. Very disappointing and lazy writing. Like many Malay movies, characters tend to be 2 dimensional with no development, nuance or growth, which results in those characters becoming cringey, annoying and lack credibility.

The action is...okay. The blood was too syruppy, like Sirap Ros, the physical combat was a little slow and tame compared to Hong Kong action film, the explosions weren't big enough; but despite all of this, the effort of making these things happen should be appreciated. Still, if Yusof Haslam invested in a bigger budget it would've been better but i understand why he would be apprehensive.

The strength of this film is the story; which is basically a cat and mouse game between cops and robbers. In between the chase, Syafiq Yusof manages to slip in moments of somewhat believable human condition and motivation.

However, the pacing is terrible. Things move too sudden without build-up or context; which is a typical of Asian movies. This kills the suspense and mystery, breaking the audiences' immersive experience. Here I believe, Syafiq Yusof would've benefited with Hollywood style direction.

Still, it's hard to complain as KL Special Force is entertaining. Not as entertaining as Serbuan Maut (2011) of Indonesia or Ong Bak (2003), but it's a small step towards the right direction.
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The Conjuring (2013)
High Quality Fright Night Experience
22 April 2018
James Wan successfully made a compelling demonic possession film loosely based on true accounts. Written by Chad Hayes, the technical detail here is praiseworthy and the acting all around is convincing and competent.

There are so many layers here to peel. Firstly is the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren - played with great prowess by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, are the paranormal investigators finds as well as debunks activities of the unknown. Chad Hayes was very clever in including moments were the Warrens are skeptical and actively try to find more rational explanations of things going bump in the night, which gives credence to the what happens to the Porren family in the story.

The Porrens are the family being haunted; I won't say by since part of the fun is to discover the motivation behind the possession. Special commendation must be given to Lili Taylor for her performance as you'll discover in the end, while Ron Livingstone is believable as the bewildered father.

However, the star of the show is definitely, James Wan; whose direction, clever use of light and shadow, silence and sound as well as tight camera angles, gives you a thoroughly psychologically eerie atmosphere that keeps you in a state of suspense for most of the film. This is old school horror film with refined technical finesse.

If I had any criticism of the film, it's the demon that is doing the haunting, could have been more sinister, such as devil in The Exorcist (1973).

A really good ghost story. Recommended.
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Inside Out (I) (2015)
Riley Didn't Learn Anything. When Feelz > Realz
21 April 2018
On some level, Inside Out does a somewhat admirable job at trying to explain to children (and I guess, easily impressed adult children) how emotions work... sort of. It tries to explain that our emotions control our mental faculties, that we think BECAUSE of our emotions.

This line of thinking is far too naive.

What old Pixar was really good at doing, is telling a story that had both a simplicity that made children understand and a maturity which reflects the reality of the world. It was exceedingly clever and charming and it taught children on how the real world works. Inside Out however, is too fictitious to be taken seriously, and not fictitious enough to be taken lightly.

First off, to think that our thoughts and minds and behaviors are controlled by emotions is just patently wrong. Feelings are not reality. Humans are not a manifestation of feelings, the environment is not built upon emotions. Emotions are a symptom of how our minds process our environment.

We are happy when something good happens to us, we get angry when we are transgressed, we are sad when we lost something of value to us, we are disgusted by things that would harm us, we are afraid of things that we don't understand. Emotions are reactions, not actions.

So right off the bat, the premise of the film is already off. Things are not made any better with the plot. The film centers around Joy, (an emotion of 12 year old girl Riley) having forced to confront a life-altering change and going through a coming of age journey, learning things about Riley, about Joy itself and of other emotions Anger, Disgust, Fear and specifically Sadness

This journey is something that Riley should go through herself, by learning to deal with overwhelming emotions, rather than represented by proxy through Joy. Instead, the movie shows Riley simply "feel" things that are happening to her, rather than understand what's going on and take responsibility and accountability for her own wellbeing - which is the essence of growing up. By the end of the show, Riley herself didn't learn anything, she didn't have any growth.

Despite this obvious and blatant flaw in the plot, everything else is acceptable.

It shows that every emotion is critical in the development of a child, including hardships and sadness. It shows how experiences, and how we recollect them, shapes who we are. Riley's reactions towards the internal turmoil that she is experiencing is very convincing.

Amy Poehler performance as joy is right on the mark, while the rest of the cast and crew does an admirable job as well. I wish the story was better, Pixar used to be better. Despite all my ranting, it's still an enjoyable movie.
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The Magicians (2015– )
Good For All The Wrong Reasons.
20 April 2018
Having not read the Lev Grossman's book, I guess the comparison is a little unfair. However, because I didn't read the book, I didn't have the baggage that always comes with screen adaptations; no expectations.

So, did I like it? Yes, but I think for the wrong reasons.

I'll start by saying that Lev Grossman have successfully created a fantasty world set in this millenium that is intriguing and quite engrossing. His main characters are purposefully flawed in the most Millennial of ways which makes them both annoying and intriguing to watch.

Quentin is a virtue signalling soyboy with some form of white guilt, Julia is a self-righteous and selfish feminist moron, Margo is the entitled rich skank, Alice is the insufferable closeted slut, Kady is a desperate only child with family issues, Eliot is the hedonistic self-destructive gay cool guy, and Penny is the token person of color Alpha male who is also a dick.

The main characters are caricatures of today's Millennial generation, and watching how badly these people behave is entertaining.

Aside from that the Villains and side characters are also very entertaining. Marina is a character that is verse in both witchcraft and bitchcraft and The Beast is simply a classy and stylish supervillain that rivals Voldemort.

All of the characters in The Magicians are flawed and damaged and the actors convincingly played their part with gusto and great effect. Thumbs up to all the cast and crew. The direction, effects, pacing and story are very well developed, it's almost never boring even during it's weak moments and it pulls your attention enough to make you watch the next episode.

Worth your consideration.
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Pacific Rim (2013)
The Closest You'll Get To an Live Action Gundam Vs Godzilla Crossover
18 April 2018
I like Guillermo Del Toro; I think he has a good vision for fantastical tales that requires translating the imagination onto the screen. Despite it's obvious major flaws, Pacific Rim succeeds in delivering the visual spectacle of rampaging colossi. Quite good in fact, you can - if you wanted to - be charitable to film merely on the basis of the fight between Mechs and Monsters is so well done, that you'll forgive Pacific Rim for being cringey in many instances throughout the film.

To be fair, the story isn't bad. Travis Beachem wrote a straightforward and generic story of humankind's survival that is so transparently Anime inspired that the film could've done well - and perhaps even better - if it was made by Studio Ghibli. However, the script is bad and as I said, cringey a.f. and the acting is just as bad, that if there were more scenes with the human actors, the film would've been tarnished beyond repair. It is the level of acting that you'll find in Live Action TV productions of Ultraman and Black Masked Rider.

Thankfully, there wasn't too, too much of it and there are ample scenes where the Jaegers (them giant robots) were smashing Kaiju (them monsters), wreaking devastation in the sea as well as in the city. The Mechs themselves were impressive to look at, though there were some scenes that didn't just make sense (like why didn't they use the sword early on?) The Kaijus are by far the most interesting; with great biology and abilities that in all honesty, I wish it would have been thoroughly explored.

But all in all, I'm happy with what I saw.
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Ringu (1998)
It could've been so much better.
15 April 2018
Arguably, the film that catapulted the Asian Horror genre to international audience. Ringu is certainly not without its flaws. Despite that, Ringu manages to age well after 20 years, despite the premise being a cursed video cassette. The film relies heavily on Shinto religion and superstition, hence, Western audience might cringe at some of its folklore. But Asian audience including South East, will immediately relate to the vengeful spirit of a supernatural source.

It's simple really, a few teenagers died one week after watching a mysterious video cassette of unknown origin, spurred a reporter to investigate. Having watched the video herself, the reporter races against time to uncover the secrets of the cursed tape.

By my account, Ringu is a mediocre horror film. It has a good story, the build-up is too long and too slow, the editing is sloppy and tremulous, the acting is mediocre, the script is choppy an incongruent. The first 30 minutes had too many unnecessary scenes that could have been excluded from the final cut. It also took 85 minutes of build up to reach Sadako. It wouldn't be too bad, except that there was 60 minutes in between the first death, with very few and unsuccessful attempts to hold your suspense.

Sadako itself was a anti-climatic, and the ending is rather disappointing.

What is good is the cinematography and direction. Despite major flaws of the film, Hideo Nakata was able to make the film coherent. And though he fails to keep things suspenseful, he does a job at creating an air of mystery that manages to make gauge your interest to the very end. Meanwhile, the cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi and music by Kenji Kawai was able to provide the sense of drama where the story and acting were sorely lacking.

I really wanted to like this film, but there are other Asian horror films that are better.
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Gravity (2013)
An Excellent Action Thriller With No Violence & Simple Plot. Recommended.
8 April 2018
Alfonso Cuaron did a remarkable job in making a space action thriller that doesn't require a life and death situation with aliens or robots, instead crafting a simple story of things that go wrong really bad, really fast. The main attraction of the film is the excellent cinematography, the clever use of sound and silence, as well as the competent performances by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

The plot is brilliantly uncomplicated, so much so that telling it to you won't even be spoiler. While our heroes are in orbit installing some thingamajig for NASA, Russia shot their satellite which exploded into shrapnel traveling faster than a speeding bullet orbiting the earth, causing a catastrophic chain reaction. Watching Bullock and Clooney scrambling to avert one disaster to another and find a way back onto earth, is surprisingly thoroughly engaging.

Cuaron even manages to fill in some human elements into the story by having Bullock's character Dr Ryan Stone, recount her life back on earth without being contrived. George Clooney does an admirable performance as the cool-headed Lieutenant Kowalski who guides Dr Stone to safety.

Overall, a really really good film. Recommended.
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Good but Not Outstanding
7 April 2018
By all accounts BatW isn't a bad animated film, but while it's good in all aspects, it lacks in all areas too. It's an immature attempt at a mature topic.

Chief reason why you would want to watch BatW is the animation. BatW employs a mostly minimal artwork in pastel colors and for the most part it works. It's stick figures in colors and the animation is good as well.

But the artwork isn't anything groundbreaking and it lacks the depth and breadth of Japanese and even American animation. Facial expressions for example, are not conveyed in any of the characters. And I'd say that this problem is present in other aspects of the film.

Such as the sound. Sound is very important in animated films. While the music is fitting and compliments the mood of the film, the movie didn't go the extra mile in, lets say, comveying emotions with sounds effects, there is no nuance in the sound.

The pacing is too slow. Things only get interesting by the 1/2 hour mark and even then, the story kind of meanders back and forth between what the 'boy' sees, and what is actually happening storywise.

The story itself is rather basic, as it is a about the 'boy' searching for his father and exoerience what the world is like outside of his village. The "darker" themes in the second half of the film, aren't really dark, but simply a realization of how the world is, but it's rather one-sided.

Contrast this to the best Japanese animated movie where the story is paramount, where characters are nuanced and the story is rich and complex, and I am talking about kid stories, not Ghibli Studio.

You can skip this if you want.
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