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nicky

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nicky last won the day on September 14

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  1. TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA (2020) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) The original TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) was very entertaining and one of the best zombies movies in recent times so obviously the sequel had a lot to live up to. Many people thought this new film was disappointing and a total shift from the original but I enjoyed it. The sequel was never gonna be like the first film cos you can't repeat the same "trapped-with-zombies-in-a-confined-space" scenario all over again. This time the story takes place in the quarantined and zombie-infested South Korean Peninsula where a group of survivors have been sent to retrieve a truck full of loot. With this new premise you immediately lose the claustrophobic "stuck on a train" tension the first film had that made it so popular. Whilst I applaud the writers for bringing us an actual plot this time (the first film was simply 'dodge the zombies'), they fail to bring us new archytypes. The characters from the first film don't return but the story treads familiar family ground with another guilty dad, another protective mum and another selfish A-hole. It seems the writers took what made the first film's character's great and tried to repackage them in a kind of feature-length version of THE WALKING DEAD even going as far as to put less emphasis on the zombies and make it more about warring communities just like the popular TV show. Some might not like the 3rd act's chase as it gets a bit Micheal Bay-ish and feels more like a regular action film rather than horror. On the plus side the film does what a sequel should; it evolves and expands on the TRAIN TO BUSAN universe giving us something new and shows us what has become of the world in the aftermath. From a science-fiction perspective, this film feels more post-apocalyptic than the first one in a MAD MAX/ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK kind of way so its not just another simple zombie movie like the original films was. It definitely isn't the great disappointment people have made out. As a stand-alone film it is perfectly watchable and entertaining if you stop comparing it to the first film. Thankfully the film doesn't feel like a cash-grab nor does it recycle the same thing again with zombies on a boat or bus this time instead of a train. It's just the repeated family characters that spoiled it for me.
  2. BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM (2020) 3/5 (No spoilers) I never thought we'd get another Borat film so I was happy to see him return - but I wondered how Sasha Baron Cohen's best character as a Kazakhstan journalist could once again go undetected in modern society now that the whole world knows who he is. With this tricky dilemma, I wasn't expecting this new film to be as good as the first but it still has some stand-out moments. What's impressive about this film is that it was shot only recently this past summer 2020 and uses the current state of the world as a well-timed backdrop while cleverly incorporating certain aspects into the story (and even the film's poster). Both Covid and the US presidency are wisely used as a way for Borat to conduct his interviews so it seems the film has more of a mission and purpose than the previous film. But having said that its obvious this film will quickly become dated and lose its appeal. This time Borat shares the screen with his daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), which may alienate some fans more used to seeing Borat (and Baron Cohen) work alone. The father/daughter team-up works like a comedy double-act as they act-out scripted dialogue in front of members of the public oblivious to their pranks. There are also many scenes that don't even feature Borat and just involve Tutar with the public and for me this is largely where the film fumbles; Maria Bakalova is an actress, not a comedian, so she's just not as funny or skilled in improvisation or even as confident going undercover unlike Baron Cohen, who as a true comedy talent and has been trolling the public for years. Script-wise, there is a lot more focus on actual plot than the first film and it tries hard to tell a story and so feels rather "forced". The fun of Baron Cohen's spontaneity and improvisation is somewhat lost as a result and without his daughter in-tow, Borat would have had much more freedom to shine and do his thing. Furthermore, the film itself could have done without the family-drama angle or the sentimental cliche ending TBH. Overall, it's not a hugely disappointing sequel, but I do believe it suffers because Baron Cohen has to share the screen with a side-kick and inject new things to avoid his character being recognised.
  3. BLADE: TRINITY (2004) 2/5 (No spoilers) It's well-documented that this was a troubled production largely thanks to Wesley Snipes's behaviour and his disapproval of the newly re-written script despite him being a producer. But if you watch the film you can already see that a lot of the film's criticism has to fall on David S. Goyer's bad direction; he should have stayed in the writer's chair for what was already a bad script, having him direct as well just made it worse. One of the biggest criticisms about BLADE TRINITY is Ryan Reynolds; his jokes are just irritating and do not belong in this film and neither do his ridiculous PS2 light-guns. The main villain is Drake (Dominic Purcell)- an Eastern European vampire with an American accent who dresses like Jim Morrison but lacks any of the late singer's charisma or impact. The rest of the baddies just look like fashion-victims at a goth convention and are so cardboard and incompetent unlike Stephen Dorff's Frost or The Bloodpack from the previous films. Even Blade himself (who does not look good in red) seems more like a supporting character in his own movie with the stage set too much for his unnecessary sidekicks, Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel (she listens to her iPod while fighting FFS). It's an over-crowded film and we've never seen Blade with this much help from others before and what's worse is that we know he doesn't need it. Also the action scenes are weak and the scares are overly-played out and try so hard to build tension but are just tiresome (the blind hacker wandering in the dark). It's a boring film and evidently the work of an inexperienced director. I have high hopes for the MCU reboot and am keen to see what Mahershala Ali does with the character but I do fear fans will miss Snipes in what he made such a unique role. And of course, I hope the reboot will stick to its R rated horror roots and maybe even tempt original BLADE (1998) director Stephen Norrington back out of early-retirement. Maybe even one day we'll eventually get to see David S. Goyer's originally rejected post-apocalyptic BLADE III script after all too.
  4. MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING (1985) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) I hadn't seen this film since the early 90s when I had it in my VHS collection and back then I just saw it as harmless fun. As a much more mature viewer now its easier to spot its faults. The fact that it stars Chuck Norris and is a Cannon film should already be a sign you're in for a cheap exploitation movie but there are still a few things that could have been avoided; most notably the bad pacing and obvious exposition in the opening scenes. The plot is fairly simple; Col. Braddock (Chuck) and co are held captive in a POW camp in 'Nam and try to escape. I guess it's quite a challenge for the writers because they obviously don't want it to be 'just another prison escape film' but the main problem is the scenes seem quite disjointed as we're shown one torture scene after the other without much story going on in-between. It feels like there should have been more focus on the characters and less on action; Chuck has a team but we're not told a great deal about them which is a wasted opportunity. Even Chuck's martial-arts skills aren't much to look at (as ever in his films) and to me he just never had the wow factor unlike the other big Cannon Films star, Jean Claude Van Damme. Soon Tek-Oh makes quite a good nemesis for Chuck but he's the only villain that really does anything. I actually remember liking this film better than the first MIA film though and I enjoyed the 3rd film back in the day too just as much even though they retconned Braddock's wife. I thought Invasion USA (1985) was quite enjoyable and Delta Force (1986) was alriiiight and Delta Force 2 (1990) was oooookay. Oh and Sidekicks (1992) was hmmm. All guilty pleasures at best.
  5. Oh I forgot about "Magda" in Octopussy (1983) specifically in her circus ringleader outfit. And Alison Doodey in A View To A Kill (1985) in her riding gear. I love a bit of posh totty. Caroline Moore in The Spy Who Shagged Me (1977) also worthy.
  6. Jane Seymour, Queen of Milf. She looked even better as she got older.
  7. BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) So they finally made a third film, but was it worth the wait and a most triumphant return? Well despite having the original writers attached it was most non-triumphant. The writers need to be 'melvined'. The plot is wafer-thin and focuses too much on Bill and Ted's daughters (who no one gives a s*** about) who I found to be fairly boring characters with nothing to distinguish them from each other. They act like the younger versions of their dads but come across like a bad impersonation; annoying and not fun. Whenever the daughters came on-screen I just wanted the scene to end quickly so we could go back to their dads. The worst thing about the daughters is that they're just suddenly dropped into the audience's lap and we're expected to just accept them without any kind of proper introduction. I know we saw a glimpse of them as babies at the end of the 2nd film but in the 25+ years since we just jump straight to them as adults. It would have been better to have some flashbacks at the start of the new film to fill in a few gaps to give some characterization so that their presence is easier for us to swallow...but all we get instead is a montage of news headlines of their dad's careers over the years. As it is we know nothing about the daughters except who their dads are. There's not much 'Bill and Ted' about Bill and Ted themselves; very few mention of classic rock bands and not even much air-guitaring. Rufus (George Carlin) is hugely missed and is instead replaced by his daughter who severely lacks in charisma and then there's the killer-robot who just feels like crap comic-relief in a film that is already *supposed* to be funny (but isn't). Even William Sadler back as Death doesn't show up until the third act and doesn't really add much to the plot. The previous two films are obviously far better, this new sequel doesn't even feel like a Bill and Ted movie and introduces too many new and boring characters. Very underwhelming, I wouldn't even say it was 'alright'.
  8. I saw it the other day, it was better than I was expecting after reading about it.
  9. MULAN (2020) 3/5 No Spoilers I've never seen the 1998 animated feature so I can't compare it. But as far as ancient Chinese Wuxia movies go I will say that MULAN (2020) is a very Americanized story of a classic Chinese tale which kinda ruined my enjoyment. Much of the supporting cast speak in American or Americanized Chinese accents and not even one word of Chinese is heard (despite casting calls asking for Mandarin-speaking actors as I recall). Niki Caro does a decent job directing but the script is somewhat flat with little explanation given to the story's fantasy elements or the villain's motives, a disappointment coming from the writers of the Planet Of The Apes reboot. The whole idea of a woman disguising herself as a man trying to fit in could have been great but it seemed more a like a subplot rather than the main focus. There's also a very subtle (quasi-homosexual) love subplot running which was the only interesting characterization in the story but it's not really fleshed-out much and viewers are left unsatisfied (apparently the #MeToo movement had something to do with it?). Donnie Yen isn't given much to do either and Jet Li even less, he doesn't even move his body! Jet's dialogue was also dubbed which defeats the purpose of hiring a star name, surly. Gong Li is good but I found her origin lacked explanation and her motivation for what she does at the end rather questionable. And why is Mulan herself blessed with that much power but no one else? The costumes and set design all look beautiful but its way too colourful, its like a 1950s MGM musical in the village scenes especially. I half-expected a villager to break out in song. I know its a Disney film aimed at families but I felt it only added to the overly-Hollywoodized/commercial feel of the film. If a Chinese director had made this (Ang Lee turned it down) I'm sure he'd be accused of selling-out especially with the heavy Western influence. I felt that way about Zhang Yimou and Yeun Woo Ping when they made THE GREAT WALL (2016) and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY (2016) especially since the first Crouching Tiger film was in Mandarin, not English like the sequel. Asian-lead films made in the West for mainstream mass consumption are rare so I really want this to be a commercial hit but Disney put-off a lot of potential paying viewers by making it so expensive on Disney+. And then there's the boycott due to the stars' less-than popular political views. Its an OK film, a bit flat and an obvious product of commercialism and colonialism but I also feel its a product of the political and cultural climate which dictates what writers should or shouldn't put in their stories to make them more "accessible". BONUS: The most annoyingly dumb comment I read online was, "It's got Donnie Yen and Jet Li in it. But why not Jackie Chan too???" Just cos its got two of the biggest Chinese martial arts stars to have made it in Hollywood in it, doesn't mean JC should be in it too.
  10. I watched a lot of old Chow Yun-Fat films recently: City on Fire (1987) - the film that inspired Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino's film is pretty much a remake of this. Wonderful performance from Chow paired-off with Danny Lee in roles as cop and crook which they would later swap in The Killer (1989). Prison on Fire 1 & 2 (1987, 1991) - brilliant prison dramas in the style of Midnight Express (1978) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Another great performance from Chow this time with Tony Leung. Wild Search (1989) - reviews said it was like a remake of Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford but I didn't think that at all. Full Contact (1992) - controversial bad-ass action flick with great villains and a slimey Simon Yam and Anthony Wong. A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 (1986, 1987) - None of John Woo's "heroic bloodshed" classics are as good as everyone makes out IMO (apart from Bullet In The Head), in fact I much prefer all the films I mentioned above that Chow made with director Ringo Lam than John Woo. RIP Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing. All About Ah-Long (1989) - Chow Yun-Fat's best film IMO. A bit like Kramer Vs Kramer (1978) only MUCH better. Stellar acting from the three leads including the kid, great story and music. Directed by Johnnie To. Tiger On The Beat (1989) - a fun buddy-cop action-comedy with CYF and Conan Lee. A great cameo from Lydia Shum and amazing finale; a chainsaw kung-fu fight! Curse of The Golden Flower (2006) - nicely shot with lavish sets and costumes typical of director, Zhang Yimou. The story is very much like an opera or Shakespearean tragedy. Also starring Gong Li, soon to be seen in Disney's live action Mulan (2020). I also watched: Midnight Express (1978) - Gruesome prison drama with a great Brad Davis, John Hurt and a ropey Randy Quaid. RIP director Alan Parker. Mississippi Burning (1988) - Shocking KKK murder drama with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. Not enough Dafoe though. Also with Brad Dourif, Micheal Rooker and Frances McDormand. RIP director Alan Parker. The first 18 rated film I ever saw at the cinema at age 12! The Life Of David Gale (2003) - Disappointing murder drama from director Alan Parker (RIP), starring Kevin Spacey as a death row inmate and Kate Winslet as the journalist racing against time to prove his innocence. Kramer Vs. Kramer (1978) - This child custody drama won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars?! It was nice but not great although Dustin Hoffman is good whereas Meryl Streep seems hardly in it which was odd since she's the antagonist/mother. Predictable, weak cop-out ending too. Twins (1988) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito as long-lost twins in Arnold's first and best comedy. Charming buddy adventure with great chemistry from the leads but nowhere near as good as Arnie's action classics. RIP Kelly Preston. I wonder how the long-in-development sequel will handle her death. The Mission (1999) - Disappointing HK gangster film by Johnnie To starring Anthony Wong, Eddie Ko and Simon Yam. Amateurly written with irritating music. Heroes Shed No Tears (1986) - Absolutely bonkers John Woo exploitation action-fest starring Eddie Ko and Lam Ching-Ying. Almost zero plot; something about capturing a druglord and taking him across the border.
  11. EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA (2020) 3* (No spoilers) What a peculiar event for Hollywood to make a movie out of, I didn't think Americans even knew what Eurovision was. It turns out producer/star Will Ferrell was introduced to the contest by his Swedish wife and immediately became a fan. Like most of Ferrell's films, I thought this was pretty mediocre. Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play an unpopular Icelandic pop-duo with dreams of winning Eurovision and making Iceland (and Ferrall's father, Pierce Brosnan) proud. It's a pretty standard underdog story, there's nothing new here. But there are emotional beats within the film which are overly-sentimental at times which becomes confusing as you try to separate drama from comedy. It's as if the film is confused about what genre it is; a drama that wants to be a comedy or a comedy that wants to be a drama. The casting of McAdams (not really known for comedy) is also an odd choice and only takes away the comedy aspect even further while the chemistry between her and Ferrell is pretty underwhelming. There is also a love-story subplot between the two leads which I felt was unnecessary and only added to the film's long length. There's a scene that really felt like the film's climax but when it was over I checked the timer to see there was still 30+ mins left. What was also unnecessary was the Russian rival (Dan Stevens) who's purpose and motivation in the story is unclear. Was he supposed to be an antagonist or not?? It's not a bad film and I did enjoy the original songs but as comedies go I expected something lighter and shorter. Eurovision fans will be glad to know there is a musical sequence halfway into the film that features cameos from past Eurovision contestants, all singing right into the camera just like a music video. This was obviously fan-service but it came at a cost because it really took me out of the film...especially when a hot babe turned around only to reveal herself to be that bearded transgender winner from 2014. I shuddered. BLADES OF GLORY (2007) was better.
  12. THE OLD GUARD (2020) 3.5* (No spoilers) I had to force myself to watch this. My first thought was, "Uh-oh. Another Netlix graphic novel". Netflix films to me have only ever been "alright" at best and THE OLD GUARD was...alright at best. Charlize Theron leads a team of immortal mercenaries who are double-crossed by their employer and then stumble across a new recruit. But just how and why these characters suddenly became immortal at a point in their lives leaves us scratching our heads. However, there are some interesting backstories, flashbacks and themes touched-upon for these characters (similar to the HIGHLANDER and WOLVERINE films) but there's also a lack of danger because we know they're unkillable. I was entertained for the first half of the film where we're introduced to the team's new recruit but somewhere in the middle the plot changed to a rescue mission. The action scenes are kinda John Wick-lite and the film steers towards a climax which goes on for too long (who knew central London streets could be so empty and then SUDDENLY fill?). The film has a straight-to-DVD feel to it, maybe that's cos I *know* it's Netflix but it still definitely feels like one on those projects that A-list action stars (Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis etc) resort to making when their careers are in decline. This cheap feeling is only heightened by the badly chosen music; pop songs during action scenes always make a film look tacky. And the main villain was very typical and hard to look at; my God what a distractingly uncomfortable-looking face. Its not a solid film but it did have great potential and I think would served better as a series - there's even cliffhanger ending which alludes to a sequel. There was certainly a lot to fit into the runtime but I think it could have done with 15 mins shaved off.
  13. DA 5 BLOODS (2020) 3.5/5 (No spoilers) Spike Lee turns what might have been an interesting post-war action-drama into a quasi political message about brotherhood and the Black struggle (as always with Lee's films). Personally, I'd much rather have seen Oliver Stone direct this but that's not to say DA 5 BLOODS is a disappointing film, its just if a film is about Vietnam vets returning to 'Nam in search of hidden gold then I would prefer it to have more focus on post-war tensions instead of a pro-Black message. Actually, the political/Black angle of the film doesn't really feature that much, it feels more like a sub-plot but Lee dresses it up in a way that makes you think its more prominent than it really is. The film is also pretty long and the slow start doesn't really help which is kinda inexcusable really since most of The Bloods themselves are quite under-developed. Delroy Lindo is the only fleshed-out character and the only one to perform a monologue right into the camera like in earlier Lee films like DO THE RIGHT THING (1989). However, Lindo's monologue adds nothing to the film and comes so randomly almost 2hrs into the film - it just feels awkward. Lee also shoots sometimes like a documentary and seems to want to educate his audience by using archive footage and flashing up pics of famous Black historical figures whenever someone mentions their name which becomes quite patronizing and unnecessary - we know who Aretha Franklin is, (and even if we don't) do we really need a pic of her to suddenly flash on-screen? The music/songs in the film was used quite inappropriately too in scenes which really didn't need it. I found the film entertaining as a 'search for hidden gold' adventure but couldn't help but feel more should have been said about the post-war tensions like Oliver Stone or RAMBO films. Having said that, this film was better than THREE KINGS (1999).
  14. SPOILERS: Yeah, it was dumb that the French girl called up to the woman in the window (for no reason) only for the woman to then dob her in to the Nazis for being out past curfew. Why didnt the French girl just stay put while the squad checked the house as instructed? Nothing came of the French girl's zombie aunt. Why was she even there and not held captive like the other zombies? Pointless having her at all. The American soldier that the was rescued from the lab was not given enough introduction. He just popped-up midway into the story and all we're told is he was captured when he parachuted in. He added nothing to the story and just served as an extra man on the squad. The hero stupidly injects his dead squad-mate with the serum DESPITE having witnessed the horrors of the lab. Did he really expect him to be normal afterwards?! I can count the total number of zombies featured on-screen on one hand.
  15. OVERLORD (2018) 2.5/5 (No spoilers) I like the idea of Nazi zombies, its an interesting combination of two evils; one based on real-life and the other on fantasy while simultaneously making an interesting alternate take on history. OVERLORD has a bigger budget than most undead Nazi films but it was actually pretty disappointing. It makes me question now whether seeing JJ Abrams name on a poster is actually a good thing these days. The plot was quite underwhelming, the characters a bit shallow and most importantly there just wasn't enough zombie action..or enough zombies at all. Its a wonder where the budget went, certainly not to zombie effects. Its a pretty slow start and a good while before the first zombie even appears and up until that point we have to settle for what is essentially a 2nd rate standard WW2 movie who's only saving grace is the typical, "distract the SS officer while people hide" scene. There was also something unlikable and forced about Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) as the corporal leading the troops; maybe it was him trying to be like his dad but whatever it was, it just wasn't working. Some plot-points and characters were left in mid-air too and new characters just seemed to just pop-up out of nowhere with very little introduction. Not enough was told about the zombie experiments and even the scientists did nothing to reveal more in the film. If you're gonna make a movie about an engineered zombie army then SHOW US THE ZOMBIES and include the HOW and the WHY behind the experiments. Its a fairly crapily written film that misses opportunities to shed light on certain areas and the zombie aspect just seemed to be in the sidelines and not the forefront. Its a disjointed film where the writer made some odd decisions on behalf of the characters to get the story moving from A to B. DEAD SNOW (2009) was better.
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