A full week for this post. Got in some newer films. Caught up on Beach pictures and took in most of Bruce Lee’s catalogue. Very satisfying despite being busy at work and catching another cold that wants to destroy my sinus cavities. Just read that North Korea is taking Trumps tweets as a declaration of war. Here’s hoping I get to have a horror movie challenge in October instead of Fallout 4: The Reality Show.
Here’s everything I watched.
277 09/17 Snowden (2016) 3.5/5 A bio-pic on epic whistle-blower Edward Snowden by Oliver Stone could have been a complete disaster. Stone plays it pretty straight considering the politics and it ends up being really good. On par with the Stone classics at any rate. I am a mark for Stone, jumping on and following his work since Platoon so I could be a little biased. Superb performances make this one a winner (Nicolas Cage in a character role!) It also helps that Stone presents the technical stuff in such a way that simpleton’s like me can understand it. I don’t know enough about the Snowden story to recognize if he’s as much of a perfect hero that Stone seems to be depicting, but the only real issue with this film is that there is simply no way to make computer stuff look exciting. You can juice up the soundtrack and use CGI all you want, but some twat typing on a PC is always going to look like a twat.
278 09/18 The Big Boss (1971) 3/5 Bruce Lee makes his starring debut in this one as a bumpkin that arrives at a slightly better town to work with some relatives. Seems he’s been getting into fighting trouble. Ends up the ice factory he works at is a front for heroin dealings. It’s almost frustrating how long they tease out Lee, I don’t think he throws a punch until nearly halfway through. When he does leap into action, he’s truly amazing. The difference between his style and those of the other actors, it’s apparent he’s the real deal. Which isn’t a knock on the other players. Golden Harvest mainstay James Tien does most of the heavy lifting in the first half, and he’s great. That said, the films a little rough around the edges. Directed by Wei Lo, he also did a few of the Jimmy Wang Yu films I reviewed the last couple of blogs, it’s pretty standard Golden Harvest stuff plotwise and the fights on the whole are no great shakes choreography wise. Lee makes everyone look better, including the direction, and the ample blood doesn’t hurt either to keep you interested. Ends up the minor Lee film is still well worth your time.
279 09/19 Muscle Beach Party (1964) 2.5/5 The second Frankie and Annette surf picture is plain terrible, and better than the first one. It’s terrible because Frankie and Annette are annoying. Frankie is a total douche-bag trying to play it cool and Annette is the most high maintenance girl friend I’ve ever see. It all smacks of Jersey Shore instead of California fun in the sun. It’s better than the last one because of the supporting cast. Don Rickles as a muscle man handler and Buddy Hackett as a countess’s business handler completely steal the movie from the main cast. Throw in a number from Little Stevie Wonder, and you forget how shit Frankie, Annette and their moronic friends are. Dick Dale deserved better.
280 09/20 Surf Party (1964) 2/5 Fox decided to get in on the Frankie and Annette craze by getting Bobby Vinton on a surfboard. The result is even worse than the other pictures. This is despite having actual surf instrumental music, better surfing scenes and an evil surf gang to contend with.
281 09/21 The Unfaithful (1947) 3/5 This one is a well done noir-ish tale about a woman who kills an attacker in self defense… or was it something more? Ann Sheridan stars and shows a quiet dignity in the type of role were actresses usually try to chew the scenery. Add in Lew Ayres as his typically high moral self as the lawyer/friends helping her and it’s a pretty casual film. It makes for a tight thriller and serviceable thriller.
282 09/22 Fist of Fury (The Chinese Connection) (1972) 4/5 The first great Bruce Lee picture finds the star returning to China to attend his Master’s funeral only to get mixed up in a feud with the Japanese government and systematic racism. Lee is simply fantastic in this one, starting with an epic fight at a rival Dojo to ever escalating fights throughout. Watch it.
283 09/23 Way Of The Dragon (Return of the Dragon) (1972) 4.5/5 For my money, this is the best picture Bruce Lee did, and one of the best Kung Fu films ever made. Lee steps in to write and direct as well as choreograph the fights and it all shows. Surprisingly, the first 20 minutes are played as a comedy, with Lee himself being the brunt of a series of what are essentially fart jokes. It all helps to add to the fights, and not a single scene is wasted. The climax against Chuck Norris is a classic and it all holds up perfectly.
284 09/24 X-Men Apocalypse (2016) 2.5/5 My rating feels low since when this is good, it’s really good. I just found it hard to connect to. Too much CGI spectacle distracted from this one. Which is a shame since the entire cast in this are great in every way. The constant need to up the ante in every superhero film is starting to kill the genre.
285 09/24 Enter The Dragon (1973) 4/5 Lee made all his movies in a two year period, which is insane. This one was his one Hollywood co-production, and it shows in its slickness. It gives Bruce a chance to be a bit more James Bond than he has been, and the fights for the most part are pretty good depending on who’s fighting. It reaches too high and is saddled with some non-martial artists that while they are made to look mostly good, just can’t compete against Lee and it shows. Despite that, still a fine action picture.