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nicky

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nicky last won the day on April 15 2013

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  1. Birds Of Prey (2020) 1.5/5 (No Spoilers) WTF was this film even about?! The non-linear narrative is so messy, not to mention pretentious, and just doesn't work. Obviously we have a screenwriter here too big for her boots. The order of play only confuses you as the story constantly jumps back and forth, going off at tangents. Each of the characters are flat too and its obvious the girl-power agenda was being rammed down our throats. Sure it looks nice and is colourful but its a classic example of style-over-substance and reminded me of McG's CHARLIE'S ANGELS (2000). I found myself looking at my DVD player's timer way too much dying for it to all end. Come back SUICIDE SQUAD, all is forgiven! Worst film of the year for me. Bloodshot (2020) 2/5 (Mild spoiler) Oh Jesus, another turkey from Vin Diesel - he just can't catch a break outside of the FAST & FURIOUS films lately can he? After failing with BABYLON A.D. (2008) and THE LAST WITCH-HUNTER (2015), here he is again, this time trying to jump on the superhero shared-universe bandwagon begging to prove he can do a decent action film on his own. It actually started off promising but then we get this weird cringey scene early on with Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" playing in the background. Once the twist is revealed (does every film HAVE to have one?!) you expect things to ramp-up but the film quickly goes downhill after that and just implodes when the tech-guy constantly tries to make unfunny joke-after-joke-after-joke. I actually felt sorry for that actor in what surly must have been career-suicide in one of the most annoying roles ever to rival even Jar Jar Binks. On another note, leading lady Eiza González was so painfully FIT I just wanted to gouge out my eyeballs. Underwater (2020) 1.5/5 (No spoilers) Usually I like these confined-space creature features but this is just an abomination to the genre. From the main title to the opening shot of the corridors to even the identical sounds of the computers, this film so badly wants to be like ALIEN (1979)... except the plot is so wafer-thin. The story is simply this: get from A to B and dodge the beasties. At least the film was relatively short as a result of having no depth. Kristen Stewart goes around looking like Pink and spends way too much time inappropriately prancing about in her underwear. T.J. Miller on the other hand is so criminally unfunny and his jokes are just so misplaced he's like a poor man's Ryan Reynolds - its as if Miller still thinks he's actually in DEADPOOL. And Vincent Cassel; he's a great actor but WTF was he doing in this?! Also we're not told what the creatures actually are (unlike DEEP RISING) or why there is just one huge giant one. But worst of all, half the film takes place in dark murky water and you can't see WTF is going on which makes transitions from one scene to the next very confusing! The ending was lazily-written too, its like the writers ran out of ideas.
  2. Legacy of Rage (1986) The late Brandon Lee's feature film debut and the only HK movie he ever made is a surprisingly enjoyable romp with a great human story behind it, something I find rare in HK action films. The only gripe, and I know others have said the same, is that Brandon's martial arts skills aren't given enough opportunity to shine here. Nevertheless it's still a good film.
  3. Undisputed (2002) Wow, such a boring 2nd rate cheap film, it feels so straight-to-DVD. I expected much better from Walter Hill (THE WARRIORS, 48HRS) but he's not directed a good movie since TRESPASS (1993). Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing (2006) I'm surprised someone wanted to make a sequel to the flat original but this was a surprisingly entertaining film especially for direct-to-DVD! Bit of a whack ending though with all that sentimentality for a character we know practically nothing about. Undisputed 3: Redemption (2010) Another entertaining action sequel (or spin-off), this time making the bad guy of the previous film the hero of this one. I was able to believe this change more so than Jason Statham's goodie-to-baddie transformation from FAST & THE FURIOUS 7 & 8. Its a little bit homo-erotic though for what was meant to be such a macho film but it's funny how a certain scene acknowledges this relationship between the two leads. Boyka: Undisputed (2016) The fun continues in this now totally different film from the original. Our bad-guy-turned-hero has now grown a massive conscience with a plot similar to Van Damme's AWOL (1990). I thought this entry should have been called "Redemption" though instead of the third.
  4. I've been gorging on a lot of old Hong Kong action films lately from 'the golden age', namely Donnie Yen and Yeun Wo Ping's back catalogue. Yes, Madam! (1985) I'd never seen a Cynthia Rothrock film before and this was her first. Great to see her paired with a young Michelle Yeoh also in her debut (as a lead) kicking some major ass. Some serious girl-power going on here too. Royal Warriors (1986) Great opening scene on the plane with Micheal Wong. Featuring a very young Hiroyuki Sanada, the bad guy from The Wolverine (2013). Righting Wrongs (1986) Starring the great Yuen Biao, my favourite martial artist. Again with Cynthia Rothrock. In The Line Of Duty 4 (1989) Amazing action-fest with an absolutely cracking finale and a fantastically energetic Cynthia Khan. She really should have been as big as Michelle Yeoh; Cynthia was cuter, younger and obviously a better fighter. Probably my favourite HK film from this era along with Eastern Condors (1987). Still got the other sequels to watch. Tiger Cage trilogy (1988, 1990, 1991) The first film's opening is a relentless bullet-fest in the style of John Woo but could have done with more martial arts although the one fight with Donnie Yen is great. I guess they fixed that in the 2nd film by promoting Donnie to the lead role. Shame its an all-new cast in the 3rd apart from Micheal Wong even though he's not a martial artist. Iron Monkey (1993) My dad really liked this one. Donnie Yen and Yuen Wo Ping at the top of their game.
  5. That mid-credits scene in the water therapy was incredibly pointless and out-of-place. The rest of the film started off good and its great that they were trying something different with the 3rd one by not having the same scenario again just like Taken 3 (which had one of the same writers) but ultimately it was pretty meh.
  6. I believe at the start he knew he was about to meet the other passengers and wanted to make an impression by looking nice he in case he'd meet a hot chick, right? The corpses would've rotted away over the years, the rest of the ship didn't wake up for decades. Maybe there's be skeletons
  7. UPGRADE (2018) 4/5 (No spoilers) Imagine if David Cronenberg directed a cross between DEATH WISH (1974) and THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN for Cannon Films and you get this little known cyberpunk gem, UPGRADE. Its a basically a sci-fi B-movie done really well with enough violence and gore to keep both action and horror fans happy as our paraplegic hero (Logan Marshall-Green) battles to avenge his wife's death with the use of A.I. implants. Leigh Whannell (SAW, INSIDIOUS, THE INVISIBLE MAN) writes and directs this fascinating look at when A.I. is fused with Man but in a so much more entertaining way than we're used to. The film knows exactly what it is and isn't pretentious nor does it try to be deep in any way, its just a solid good time with a couple twists along the way. Inevitably it's going to be compared to ROBOCOP (1987) and VENOM (2018) but UPGRADE comes with a dark style of humor not found in its peers. It's been quite a while since I saw I science-fiction film like this that I could really get my geek on with. Cyberpunk is often a tricky sub-genre to tackle but UPGRADE keeps itself simple, fresh and thoroughly entertaining thankfully without disappearing up its own ass...despite having one quite large plot-hole. Its cheap schlock but its good cheap schlock. Its the kind of smart entertaining sci-fi film Alex Garland (EX-MACHINA, ANNIHILATION) probably only wishes he could make.
  8. THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020) 4.5/5 (No spoilers) When I heard this movie was written by Leigh Whannell (SAW) I suspected it would be good. Whannell is a writer who really knows how to come up with good s*** and isn't just another predictable sell-out Hollywood hack. He and James Wan are two guys who worked really hard and their passion for writing their own great scripts without big budgets or special effects is really admirable. Furthermore Whannell is also an actor who didn't let his ego tempt him into casting himself in this film so I knew that was a sign of him treating this right. Additionally, I always thought writers turned directors sucked but Whannell really proved he's got some talent behind the camera as well as behind the keyboard. Firstly, do not watch the trailer as it gives away some of the jump scares. Secondly, yes, its way better than HOLLOW MAN (2000). But this isn't a remake of the Claude Rains mad-scientist 1933 original either but rather an updated hi-tech version of the character with added feminism and a political message concerning domestic abuse. What separates this film from past "invisible man" films (including the forgettable John Carpenter/Chevy Chase one) is this is a delicious cocktail of science-fiction horror-mystery-suspense-thriller with an added topping of cat and mouse psychological drama too. There are a few great twists and turns throughout the film, a couple I really didn't see coming which only affirms how well-written the screenplay is. It's very smart while smoothly weaving in political feminist themes without letting them over-shadow the main plot. The script sticks to its guns as a horror-thriller and is engaging from start to finish. On one hand the horror aspect reminded me of another "female-tormented-by-invisible-force" scare-fest, THE ENTITY (1982) and on the other hand a Wes Craven slasher movie (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM). But this film differs in that we have a really clever and delightfully manipulative villain complete with edge-of-your-seat tension and scares and great musical score. Elizabeth Moss is amazing in the leading role too and not too dissimilar to Jodie Foster (while looking like Courtney Love). The only bad thing for me was the underwhelming climax which I think should have been played out more to give the audience a better sense of closure and satisfaction - we deserved a better pay-off. Also it would have been nice to know a bit more about the villain's work and how he acquired his invisibility tech. But despite that, THE INVISIBLE MAN is my favourite film this year and probably the best horror-thriller I've seen in ages and a definite buy on blu-ray for me. In fact I'll even say its one of the best horror remakes ever along with THE THING (1982), THE FLY (1986) and THE BLOB (1988).
  9. THE WANDERING EARTH (2019) 1.5/5* (Spoilers - but you won't care cos its s***) China's most expensive film ever is planet Earth's stupidest film of 2019. Its similar to ARMAGEDDON (1998) but makes no sense and is laden with a slew of "WTF moments" and cheese...but at least it looks nice with it's great production design and cinematography, right? SPOILERS: Man, I was asking so many questions about this film that it just pissed me off. Why do they have guns and randomly shoot at s***? How could humans possibly get the Earth to stop spinning on its axis? Why did the kid have a robot glove? Why were the bro-sister going up to the surface? Why does a space-station have a defense system?? Why does the station's A.I tell people everything? Why save granddad only for him to die 3 mins later? Would a schoolgirl really give such a cringey speech like that to humanity's last stand? Why are we supposed to give a s*** about the estranged father/son relationship at the end when they practically had no scenes together?? I could go on. SPOILERS END. Its a stupid film trying to emulate Hollywood blockbusters by using every movie cliche in the book without realizing how dumb and non-sensical it is. These Chinese filmmakers just don't get how to make a movie and probably thought they were making it look like a cool big sci-fi movie. It's SO badly written its as if 12 year olds wrote it. It certainly feels like that's who it was aimed for. Another embarrassment for China.
  10. Oh s*** that reminds me, I didn't mention Train To Busan (2016).
  11. IP MAN 4: THE FINALE (2019) 4/5* No Spoilers So if you're like me, the first question on your mind would have been, "is this one gonna be a return to form after the disappointing 3rd one?" The answer is YES. Although it's not as great as the first two films it is certainly a lot better than the 3rd one and the MASTER Z spin-off from last year. Any 4th entry into a film franchise is always a tricky one because trilogies usually round themselves up so neatly. But IP MAN 4 isn't just a cash-grab and thankfully there is a story actually worth telling to give closure to the series with familiar characters returning from previous installments. However, what was also familiar in this film was the cliche "White man as racist bully" theme and "your Chinese kung-fu is s***" both of which had already been touched upon heavily before in IP MAN 2 (2010). This time the oppressor theme is even more prominent and as a Chinese man myself I found myself becoming much more emotionally affected by the film. Ip Man's relationship with his son following his wife's death was also a great emotional arc but this and Ip's illness should really have been developed more and pushed to the front of the story since those were the reasons why the film was set in the US in the first place . Scott Adkins as the villain was pretty OTT as a shouty drill instructor. In fact I found a few of the White actors in this to be a bit underwhelming which is a common problem I find in Chinese films. Obviously in Chinese films the casting team won't have a massive pool of Western talent to choose from (or they hire people who are primarily martial artists, not actors) so I think they often just go with whoever looks the part while a lot of their acting skills in the audition is lost in translation. But IP MAN 4 was filmed in the UK so I don't understand why they couldn't source better actors. There are quite a few subplots within the film, almost too many, and I would love to have seen more of Bruce Lee in the film but I understand that you can't risk having him overshadow Ip Man. "The Finale" is a very fitting title to this last sequel which very neatly ties up Ip Man's life with a great ending while at the same time paying enough homage to Bruce Lee in the film. There is even a subtle hint towards the end of the film that the next spin-off in the franchise will focus on Bruce himself. I hope this was deliberate.
  12. PARASITE (2019) 3/5* (Mild spoilers) Well it's the movie everyone's talking about so I guess I'll have my say. I first heard about people raving about the film last summer but I was disappointed to learn that it wasn't a horror film given the title and coming from the director of The Host (2006) so I didn't bother with it. Then this week it won four Oscars, but most importantly it was a Korean movie that won Best Picture, not just Best Foreign Film but Best Picture, and THAT changed my mind. I wanted to like this film, I really did, but for me it just didn't live up to the hype. Yes, it's smart and clever, original and has great social commentary but I felt the build-up especially in the first half to be rather slow. Maybe it was a pacing issue because there seemed to be some redundant plot-points in the film (guy pissing, pizza-box boss) which I think could easily have been omitted to make the film more concise. I also had problems with the family being poor - they obviously have skills and are not just clever so how is it they're not able to get real jobs? The two kids evidently went to school and studied pretty well given their talents. What the father did at the end of the film really baffled me too, I'm not sure what his motivation was for doing that. So it was an OK film and I'm happy a Korean film was lauded so well but for me I felt it could have been more concise. Actually it reminded me a lot of Get Out (2017) with its social commentary and its outsider/domestic themes. Its sad though because most people who will now see the film wouldn't have bothered if it wasn't for the Oscar wins, myself included, but I guess marketing and awards go hand in hand.
  13. DOCTOR SLEEP: Director's Cut (2019) 2/5 No Spoilers I was never a huge fan of the THE SHINING (1980) but I respected it as an iconic piece of film-making. Now obviously I wasn't expecting DOCTOR SLEEP to be anywhere near as good as Stanely Kubrick's film before it but I had high hopes that it would at least be enjoyable but it turned out to be even worse than I expected. I would have preferred to watch the shorter theatrical version but ultimately I went with this 3hr cut. For a start I thought the pacing was off particularly around the first half as we're bouncing around from one character's back-story to the next. It kind of reminded me of IT (2017) in that we have all these characters and we have to see everyone's individual story in messy turn. In DOCTOR SLEEP there's three main characters but it seems to take so long in telling their stories and yet there are still questions unanswered about where they came from. There's a lot of redundant scenes in this cut of the film and the plot isn't even that complex at all. It was a pretty boring film and I was disappointed that this had been catagorized as a horror film. I didn't think there was much horror in it at all. The re-casting of the actors from Kubrick's film was also disappointing and took me out of it - I know the director opted to not de-age the actors digitally though and instead re-cast them but I just didn't like what we got. Its been almost 40 years since the original film and I think that this sequel has come way too late, it just didn't feel like a sequel to the 1980 film at all or that it was even set in the same universe.
  14. 1917 (2019) *No Spoilers* 4/5 This was probably the best film of 2019 for me and up there with the greats when it comes to war films. I haven't seen many of Sam Mendes's films but would say that 1917 is a lot better than his other Oscar acclaimed film, American Beauty (1999). When I first heard 1917 was filmed in one-shot I feared it was just a gimmick to get some attention. Clint Eastwood had a gimmick too when he hired the actual people from the true-life event instead of actors for 15:17 To Paris (2018) and that didn't work. But in 1917 the one-shot cinematography really adds to the story and I could see how it benefited the film; as a viewer it feels like you're experiencing everything that the two leads do and that you're along for the ride. For the most part the film is set in real-time (apart from when there's the one obvious cut) and so the one-shot cinematography is very appropriate and makes the viewing experience much more engaging. As with most war films the story has little to do with war or combat and is more a story about determination to overcome great odds. The characters are nicely fleshed-out with some great casting of recognizable A-listers as the commanding officers. There was also an event within the film that totally took me by surprise which was a nice change in gears for the rest of the film. I think the only bad thing about the film for me was the climax was over with a bit too quickly considering the journey that was made to get there.
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