*puts left palm to right fist and bows deeply*
Wrote this up for elsewhere, copying and pasting here of some recent movies and quickie reviews I wrote up:
1) Drive – I cannot rave enough about how great this movie is! The retro 80’s-sounding soundtrack plus the acting (or lack of acting) of Ryan Gosling. Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks were all awesome. It brings back the feel of the 1960’s-70’s lone tactiturn protagonist like Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. It’s a bit slow at first, but the opening scene ‘car chase’ (if you call that a ‘car chase’ – another ‘car chase’ scene I’m reminded of was in Way of the Gun) whets your appetite, it promises you more if you stick with it. And at the critical juncture in the movie, it EXPLODES from 0 to 60 in 1 second. Like a neo-noir for me. Sequel in the works. Based on 2 books by crime fiction author James Sallis. On my To Read list.
2) Yamada - Loved it for the Thai bareknuckle scenes. It was a kick (pun intended!!) to see Buakaw.
3) Jack Reacher – not a Tom Cruise fan, but was entertained – liked it. Despite what anyone says about KFM, cool to see it in the fight scenes – change of pace from many of the fight scenes from Hollywood and Hong Kong. Did not read the books, but may read some soon. Of the fans who’ve read the books, their major criticism is that Reacher in the books is like 6’5” where Cruise is what 5’8”?
4) Oblivion – Sci-fi movie, Tom Cruise starred. Started off slowly for me, I’m not the sharpest knife in the bunch, but I saw the second plot twist coming, didn’t see the first twist though – but in hindsight, it was foreseeable. Entertaining enough, liked it. Heard slightly more positive reviews than negative. Can pass if you have no time.
5) The Thieves is on my To Watch list. A friend highly reco’d it. A Korean heist movie.
6) Man of Tai Chi – deriviative plot, but despite that, fight scenes weren’t bad – choreographed by legendary Yuen Woo-ping (Matrix, Charlie’s Angels and a whole lot more) mixes Tai Chi moves with MMA moves … Keanu Reeves directs (first-time IIRC) and co-stars. His friend, Tiger Chen, whom he met on Matrix, stars. Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption), wasted on a cameo role sadly. Keanu pushing 50 if not already 50, has decent moves, some high kicks were stiff. Overall watchable.
7) Ip Man: the Final Fight – Anthony Wong Chau-san stars and is one of the A-list actors in Hong Kong. Lifelong Monkey Stylist, cool to see him do some WCK moves. Movie was not really so much about the fights or Ip Man, but about TMA values. I’ve not seen Eric Tsang in an action movie. Don’t think he has done any. It’s either comedies mostly or sometimes drama. He was playing against type with nice Hung Ga moves. Can pass if you have overdosed on Ip Man movies. Speaking of Wong and Tsang, if you haven’t watched Infernal Affairs I, check it out. Scorsese’s The Departed was the remake of IMO the superior Infernal Affairs. Both Wong and Tsang were great in that also.
Ip Man: The Legend is Born – Dennis To stars. He played Sammo Hung’s student in Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 2, the one with the beanie and beard/moustache starting trouble. He is wooden, new to acting, was a wushu champ. Some nice fights. Opening fight is Sammo Hung vs Yuen Biao in blindfolded chi-sao. Ip Ching, real life son of Ip Man, played in a cameo as Leung Bik, who furthers Ip Man’s WCK knowledge. Can pass if you have overdosed on Ip Man movies.
9) The Grandmaster – directed by auteur Wong Kar Wai (Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, etc)… this project has been in the works for ~10 yrs. Despite the timing of the release, Wong has announced his project ages ago. Rumored to be a 4 hour cut existing and he had to trim it down. Hope we the 4 hr cut is released as a director’s cut or something. Hoping for more fight scenes. Overall it’s a very good movie. Wong is meticulous with details in some of his shots… some of his signature arthouse touches grace the movie throughout. Unrequited love is his main theme throughout his films, and this one is no exception. Although it’s supposed to be about Ip Man, director WKW also wanted to document how various styles made its way into Hong Kong. If you can, don’t watch the confusing American version that is advertised as “Martin Scorsese Presents…” that was chopped down to 108 mins from the Chinese Cut of 130 mins (although the Chinese Cut is a little confusing, but less than the American). Cung Le had a cameo fight in the beginning of the film. Overall, good fight scenes, but choreographer Yuen Woo-ping’s (there he goes again!) were sometimes re-shot when Wong wanted to make them more dramatic. That Cung Le fight was re-shot to be a fight in the night and in the rain. Any fight film fan wants their fight scenes clear and not the usual film artifice of closeups, fast editing and shaking cameras to create the false energy. Can pass, but if you are a WKW fan, you will want to check this out. This IMO is his most commercial film.
10) Robot and Frank – was heart-warming… don’t usually watch these types of movies. Sis-in-law visited and popped the movie in. I didn’t know the plot before beginning the movie. Watched it with my children. I wasn’t sure which direction the movie was going. Glad I stuck with it until the end. Truly heart-warming. We enjoyed it. Frank Langella plays Frank.
11) Older movies I’ve watched in honor of director Lau Kar Leung after his passing:
Martial Club – young Wong Fei-hung (played by Gordon Liu aka Master Killer or Pak Mei) being tested by experienced Northern master (played by Johnny Wang Lung-wei, first and only movie he plays a ‘good guy’!) who was tricked into helping a rival southern school. No one dies, this movie like most of Lau’s films, teach the TMA values.
Drunken Monkey Kung Fu – Lau stars and directs. Monkey style! More TMA values. Lau boasted of his kung fu skills and drank to excess one night and a jealous rival master exploited the situation.
36th Chamber of Shaolin aka Master Killer – ‘nuff said.
Heroes of the East aka Shaolin vs Ninja aka Shaolin Challenges Ninja – Gordon Liu marries a Japanese bride who practices karate. Misunderstanding between husband and wife which eventually is a misunderstanding between her sensei and his associates has the 7 of them come to Hong Kong to challenge Gordon. Again, Lau Kar Leung directs (has a cameo as the drunkard ‘teaching’ Gordon drunken kung fu). Great showcase of styles – both Chinese and Japanese. And again like Lau’s other movies, TMA values (“Wude” in Mandarin, “Mo Duk” in Cantonese = Martial Morality … and no one dies. My favorite oldschool Shaw Brothers movie (yes even over 5 Venoms and Master Killer)
12) Donnie Yen’s new movie Special ID – I went to the NYC premiere of this movie and wrote about it for my site:http://www.stickgrappler.net/2013/11/i-met-donnie-yen-at-4th-annual-new-york.html
Bottom line: some good fight scenes, rottie Tian Jing, plays opposite Donnie, has some nice moves… made GIFs of some of the fight scenes, have some more GIFs which I’ll be posting soon:http://www.stickgrappler.net/2014/01/donnie-yens-special-id-gif-set-1-donnie.htmlhttp://www.stickgrappler.net/2014/01/donnie-yens-special-id-gif-set-2-donnie.htmlhttp://www.stickgrappler.net/2014/01/special-id-gif-set-3-donnie-vs-ken-lo.htmlhttp://www.stickgrappler.net/2014/01/special-id-gif-set-4-tian-jing.html
But if you are expecting Flash Point – sadly it’s not. I think every Donnie fan and Donnie himself wanted Special ID to be Flash Point or better.
13) Pacific Rim – watched it with my kids, they loved it. They DIDN’T watch Godzilla really, but know of it. Afraid to watch Godzilla with them though, as Stickgrappler Jr. (10 yrs old) – “that SFX is so cheesy dad”. And I have to go into my spiel about “when Dad was a kid, that SFX was SOTA”. He criticized Star Wars 4-6 also. LOL. Highly reco if you like the daikaiju genre of movies.
I made some GIF’s from this movie, not of the Daikaiju vs Jaegers, but of the human fight scenes – LOL at me … for anyone who likes GIF’s, please check out:
only Jaeger GIF i made... more here:http://www.stickgrappler.net/2013/10/balisong-knife-in-movies-pacific-rim.html
(some trapping and an omoplata!)
14) Turbo – a Dreamworks movie. Stereotypical animated movie. Watched with my children (15, 12, 10) – we all enjoyed it very much. Snail due to freak accident is racing in the Indianapolis 500! Themes of dream big and you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it… well done. Highly reco if you have young children.