Movie A Day!: Wired Asian Action

Once again, I did not forget to post this or abandon the blog. I just flat out didn’t get much watch the week before last, so rather than post a 2 film blog, I held off. My blog my rules! So while the world burns, floods and possibly nuclear rains (if we have a nuclear war before I finish FALLOUT 4, I’m going to be pissed off. I’m really close!), here’s what I watch the past couple week. After the Vinegar Syndrome catch up, I’m back with subtitled foreign films to catch up with before the Scary Movie Challenge. “Subtitled Foreign Films” sounds fancier than “Yakuza/Kung Fu action films”.

Also impacting my movie numbers is my binge viewing of:


257 08/24 The Wire Season 3 (2004) 4.5/5   After the focus on the larger crime world in Season 2, Season 3 gets to what the series is really about: an indictment on the war on drugs. A west division major sets up a safe zone for the drug trade. It’s in the realm of fantasy, but damn if it doesn’t make for some thought provoking television. I’m not even getting into the stories of the cops and drug dealers that started in Season 1 are doing. It’s arguably the best season of the best crime show in television history.

258 08/25 More (1975) 2/5   Another low rent hardcore feature from Ralph Eli, this one manages to be more game to run a detective plot with Harry Reems investigating a murder and the widow basically fucking everyone involved. It’s so poorly made that it’s actually fun to watch, and has a stolen Led Zep soundtrack to boot. I can’t really recommend the triple feature that this is on, but it was kind of a fun watch regardless.

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity The Boss's Head.jpg
259 08/26 The Boss’s Head (1975) 3/5   Second film in the New Battles Without Honor And Humanity series is more of the same. Bunta Sugawara is back, this time as a stray dog Yakuza that is fresh out of a seven year prison bit for doing a hit and getting caught up in Yakuza politics. It’s good for what it is, but failed to knock my socks off.


260 08/28 Last Days of the Boss (1976) 3.5/5   This one wraps up the New Battles Without Honor or Humanity series and I liked it best. It starts off sleazy before settling into one of the more action packed installments which helps it to stand out from the rest. Aside from the action, it’s the usual Yakuza intrigue. The New Battles trilogy of stand alone stories never reach the heights of the original, and end up being more of a tonal tribute. Good for what they are, but didn’t wow me.


261 08/30 The Killer (1989) 4.5/5   Revisited the film that put John Woo on the map and it holds up remarkably well. It’s corny as heck, but damn, those action scenes are still completely bonkers and it’s clear that it’s influence is still reverberating around THE RAID and JOHN WICK twenty plus years later. Chow Yun-Fat is the suavest mother fucker since Cary Grant and the only knock you can have against this film is that Woo followed it up with HARD BOILED which might be the greatest action film of all time.


262 09/01 Kung Fu Girl (1973) 2.5/5   When the DVD cover calls the film “Kung Fu Girl” and the film on the disc is called “None But The Brave” (imdb has it as “Tie Wa”), you know you may be in trouble. Ends up that this one wasn’t too bad. A country kung fu girl heads off to the city to confront the evil Japanese imperials that killed an adopted sister. It’s over long and the fights are clunky. What helps set it apart is the casting. Jackie Chan makes an unimpressive appearance in a small role early on, and Diamond Guy Jo Shishido plays the Japanese baddy which helps to make this one a little more interesting. Star Pei-Pei Cheng Manages to be both engaging and disappointing in that her kung fu is a little to dance-y/staged compared to other leading actresses like Angela Mao. So it all adds up to being mostly a miss.


263 09/02 Throat… 12 Years After (1984) 3/5   Gerard Damiano returns to Deep Throat, only not really. The tag line is “A Reflection NOT A Sequel”, only it has nothing to do with the original film. Which is probably a good thing since despite it’s fame, it’s actually pretty terrible. This one is basically an episodic film about a couple of couples figuring out their relationships. A great cast but it never really stands out as anything too special. (That said, the extra feature interviews on the Vinegar Syndrome disc make it worth picking up as they are more interesting than the feature.)


264 0/03 The Wire Season 4 (2006) 4.5/5   One of the joys of this series is wondering where it can go after the conclusion of a season. This one finds the focus shifting to the war on drugs impact on the school system. It’s the kind of thing I typically don’t like since it follow a group of kids. It’s handled so good, and with none of the fake emotional manipulation that these topics usually have. While this is going on, it the story continues to push forward with the political/police stories that are the base of the series. It might be the best season.

Advertisements

Movie A Day 2017! 16-19: Kung Fu Gaming

It’s been quite the 48 hours as of this posting. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States and started signing bills guaranteed to make the lives of poor people poorer. The next day an entire gender of people with a good side serving of the other gender of people marched against Trump in protest in what might be the largest protest march in history. I wasn’t able to attend my local one. Another missed opportunity I am hoping to rectify in the future. It’s a good thing I don’t really believe in karma. If karma is real, I’m screwed.

Here’s the movie watching I’ve been doing.


01/15 The Last of Us (2013) 3.5/5   Fuck it, I’M REVIEWING EVERYTHING! Video games included! I won’t count it towards my total though. This one is a PS4 exclusive, and details the story of Joel, a single dad who is navigating his way through a zombie-like apocalypse. The story is centred around the relationship he has with Ellie, a teenager who may hold a key to a cure. It’s a horror game so there’s a lot of sneaking around taking out enemies both human and “Clicker” (the name they give the fast running zombies, like in THE WALKING DEAD, they never call them “Zombies”). It’s a lot of fun (and a pain in the ass), sneaking about killing things and people; ever pushing forward though broken cities and reclaimed earth. It’s a beautiful destruction to wander about in, and the story is a good one too which helps to hold your interest. The only real problem with the game is the “survivor” aspect. You kill some stuff then you spend twice as much time completely searching the area you cleared out scavenging for parts. It felt like 90% of the game was wandering around looking for things (see picture above of my actual game play) so you can craft items you will need for the next batch of things you have to kill. It ruins the momentum of the story. It’s a real problem with games like this that try to be “Cinematic” (UNCHARTED has the same problem, and is from the same studio). They just don’t work in the end. All sense of urgency goes away when you have to crawl around looking for bits of cloth or whatever. That said, it’s still fun to have a go at. Others think it’s one of the greatest games ever. I think it’s pretty good.


016  01/16 The Young Dragons (1974) 2.5/5   This one is notable for being John Woo’s feature directing debut and for having fight choreography by none other than Jackie Chan! Some of Woo’s trademarks are already on show; the cool pans, zooms and slow motion; the antagonist as hero. The action is all kung fu despite the plot being about gun smuggling betrayals and what not. That’s the only real problem with the picture, all the ingredients are there to make a great movie and it just never adds up to much. The fights are merely serviceable despite being performed and shot well and the rest of it isn’t very interesting. The only thing really going for it is it’s John Woo’s first feature film. I’m glad I’ve seen it but I doubt I’ll watch it again.


017 01/18 43rd People’s Choice Awards (2017) 1/5   I got roped into watching this one. The last group of human beings that should be allowed to vote for artists to be rewarded for their craft is “The People”. Case in point: Fifth Harmony was voted “Group of the year.” A quartet (?) of girls that are basically the Spice Girls but wiped of all identity and personality into blank girl slates, perfect for the empty Kardashian generation. It’s proven again and again, “The People” are too stupid to vote.


018 01/21 The Shaolin Plot (1977) 4/5   An evil prince is scouring the land collecting kung fu manuals by hook or by crook. Well, mostly with devastating kung fu with his miserable band of baddies. This move was awesome. Completely off the charts old school style kung fu, ridiculous blood and gore, a true epic to be discovered.


01/21 Super Mario Land (1989) Game Boy
01/21 Allyway (1989) Game Boy
01/21 Golf (1989) Game Boy
I’ve been slowly going through all the Mario games. The ones I have access to anyway. These ones were first timers for me since I never owned a Game Boy. Ends up Super Mario Land is one of the best Mario games I’ve played! The levels are interesting, there’s weird shooting levels to break up the platforming, I loved it! I prefer it to the North American Super Mario 2. Great stuff.


Alleyway is basically the Atari 2600 game Super Breakout, but on the Game Boy. Why is it on my Mario list? Mario jumps into the space ship thing at the start, so it’s a Mario appearance. The game is simple: you control a paddle like in “Pong” and have to bounce a ball against a wall, breaking all the bricks. Why they needed to give this premise a Sci-Fi theme, I have no idea. It’s always had one though. Check out the Atari box cover.


Anyway, it’s actually a great game and I was surprised at how playable it is with a D-Pad compared to the paddle. A paddle is better, but it works.


Golf also featured Mario so it counted to. One of the worst golf games I’ve ever played, it can go fuck itself.


019 01/21 Her Torpedoed Love (1917) 2.5/5   Ford Sterling vehicle where he plays a scheming butler out to get an inheritance. Pretty typical slapstick vehicle that isn’t very interesting until the chase at the end. (To readers unfamiliar with slapstick, there’s always a chase at the end…)

Video games, kung fu movies and slapstick. Not the worst way to distract from this traumatizing week. I’m playing with formatting, trying to make this thing look a little better with my limited skills as a writer so please feel free to let me know what is and isn’t working. Wont you?

Movie A Day! : 204-213 “Big Hunka Love”

Two posts in one week! You lucky lucks! This one catches up the rest of the films I watched during the last week when I wasn’t posting due to the cloud of moodiness. I ended up watching quite a bit due to throwing my back out and being barely able to walk around by the time I got home from work. Nothing enables movie watching like sickness or physical pain. I mean, I’d rather lay about and watch movies anyway. When you’re healthy and watching movies, you’re lazy. If you’re sick though, you’re getting better and doing the right thing. Let’s all get incurable but non-fatal diseases so we can be empowered to watch more movies!

https://i0.wp.com/www.elvis-history-blog.com/images/ThatsTheWayPoster.jpg

204 08-17 Elvis : That’s the Way It Is (Special Edition) (2001) 3.5/5
This is a concert film documenting Elvis’s return to live performances via his opening week in Las Vegas. It’s great. Elvis is a bundle of nerves, and the energy is contagious when he gets going. His voice is fantastic and he really does look like a King. You could argue that he is at his peak here, from here on it’s all a slide downhill into drugs and poor health. This version concentrates more on performance and cuts a bunch of the interview type material that made the original film from 1970 fun but severely dated. On another note, every poster for this sucked. Look at that fucking outfit, why not show him in the dazzling white suit he’s seen in the film in?

https://russonabus.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/3d0f3-elvis-thats-the-800-75.jpg

See? Already a better picture for the poster despite the doof on bass behind him.

https://i0.wp.com/ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTczNTY3OTE0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAyODIyMTE@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

205 08-18 Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage (1966) 3.5/5
This one finds Zatoichi again grappling with the morality of killing hundreds (thousands?) of men, so he decides to begin a pilgrimage to the 81 temples to find enlightenment. Guess how it goes? Another fantastic edition, that also featured one of the best scenes yet of his swordsmanship in the opening.

https://i1.wp.com/deneroff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/windowslivewriterlifemagazinephotosonline-e87cno-time-for-sergeants-on-broadway-thumb.jpg

206 08-19 No Time for Sergeants (1955) 4/5
Based on the introduction, this was Andy Griffith’s debut on live television (via the United States Steel Hour), and his first experience acting in a play. It’s an absolutely amazing performance, and you can literally see his star being born. From here he would move on to winning a Tony for the Broadway adaptation, then his TV series. The play itself is hilarious, and a rare example of comedy being performed on live television as opposed to the typical dramas.

https://i2.wp.com/cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com/images/355664/355664_full.jpg

207 08-20 A Brief History of Time (1991) 4/5
Errol Morris is a master of the documentary, and this one is no exception. Spending equal time with Stephen Hawking’s biography and theory explanation, it manages to never be boring and surprisingly accessible to people like me whose brain starts to sing “LA LA LA LAAAA”  when physics are being explained. I guess the only knock you can have against the film now is that it’s twenty plus years out of date, and I think the theory presented has been disproved, or changed or whatever happens with the science. Fucking science, always changing. They’re redoing Cosmos now! Fucking kids and their new science!

https://i2.wp.com/www.fulltv.com.ar/images/peliculas/este-es-elvis.jpg

208 08-22 This Is Elvis (Extended Video Version) (1981) 4/5
Elvis week continues! This one is a straight up documentary detailing his life. The good is that it features a whole bunch of clips of Elvis, mostly of song performances. The bad is that they have actors recreating parts of his life, and a guy narrating the film as Elvis in the first person but kind of from the afterlife. It makes it unnecessarily weird, especially the opening scenes of his last night alive in Graceland. That said, you do get a good picture of his life, and they don’t hold back on the negatives either. If all you know is “Fat Elvis” of popular culture, you owe it to yourself to see some of this stuff to see why he was the King. Plus theirs priceless footage of him stoned out of his skull, kicking members of his Memphis Mafia in the nuts during a karate demo. Seriously, MUST SEE STUFF!

https://i1.wp.com/img18.imageshack.us/img18/8302/dt1e.jpg

209 08-23 The Dragon Tamers (1975) 3/5
At first glance, this one is a typical Kung-Fu picture about some guy wanting to challenge some other guy to see who’s the better fighter and getting mixed up in some school clash. What separates this one though, is it’s the second picture directed by John Woo. Being a huge fan of THE KILLER and HARD BOILED, two films that I would put at the top of any “Best Of” list, it was fun to see Woo working in the Golden Harvest trenches. Even at this point you can see his style coming to form, with slow motion and other style tricks. The plot too, with heavy emphasis on loyalty and friendship fit solidly into the Woo cannon. The opening girl fight in the mud though, not so much, that bit seems more at home in a women in prison film. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Machete Kills Movie Poster

210 08-23 Machete Kills (2013) 3/5
I liked this one much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love trash, and I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his homemade films. It’s more of a case of just how good can the second film of a series based off a fake trailer be? Ends up nearly as good as the unlikely first film. I think it would of played better a smidge shorter on a double bill, which really is how these films should be seen but never well since GRINDHOUSE shit the bed at the box office. Shame on all of you who skipped seeing that one in the theaters. Anyway, it’s big, it’s stupid and it leaves a big smile on your face. I really hope they do the MACHETE KILLS IN SPACE movie, that one looks amazing.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8067/8251693716_89655b3c6d.jpg

211 08-23 Candy Goes To Hollywood (1979) 3/5
This is the sequel to THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY, and is the better film. Thora Birch’s mom Carol Connors is back in the lead role, this time heading to Hollywood where she gets hooked up with a sleaze-bag agent played by John Leslie who sends her out to numerous shows to get taken advantage off. The spoofs of the Tonight Show and The Gong Show are pretty fun, and John Leslie is actually a really good actor who could of had a career outside of porn. The real cult draw, and the reason why I had seen this one previously, is the appearance of pre-Plasmatics punk legend Wendy O. Williams shooting ping pong balls out of her pussy during the Gong Show spoof. So obviously this one is on the very top of all of your “Must See” lists. Another winner, double feature from Vinegar Syndrome.

https://russonabus.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/37b33-hippieposter.jpg

212 08-24 An American Hippie in Israel (1972) 2/5
This one is considered a cult classic, but it left me completely flat. It’s what the title says, an American hippie arrives in Israel and starts preaching his hippie horseshit. It’s funny and of it’s time, but it’s more BAD bad then fun bad, with constant preaching about “The Man” and the evils of war. It just never worked. I picked it up since the company that did the blu-ray, Grindhouse Releasing have been dead solid in the past. Oh well, you can’t like everything.

https://i1.wp.com/www.jackasscritics.com/images/movies/life_aquatic_01.jpg

213 08-24 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) 4/5
More Wes Anderson guys! I’m not going to get too into it other than to say that once again I was surprised at how good it was. It’s such a goofy premise, some guy hunting down a shark that killed his first mate, but the cast is so good, and the script so tight, and Bill Murray so perfect that I just loved the shit out this one.

There it is! What’s left to say? I’m really enjoying the Wes Anderson films on the second go round. Elvis is awesome and who doesn’t love ping-pong? This really is the greatest blog, you should tell all your friends to follow me. Maybe I’ll get a sponsor? That’s how you get rich on the internet right? I mean, my webcam shows aren’t doing anything, this is all I got!

 

The End