Review: Twin Dragons aka Brother vs. Brother (Hong Kong 1992)

Twin Dragons is simultaneously very stupid and very fun.  The tale of two brothers, separated at birth and both played by Jackie Chan, is both a cross-cultural fish-out-of-water tale and a rollicking action flick.  It’s not one of the better Jackie Chan films and, in some respects, signposted some of his weaker efforts to come, but is still packed with breathtaking stunts and innovative fight scenes. Continue reading

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Review: Seoul Station aka 서울역 (South Korea 2016)

Seoul Station is an animated prequel to one of my favorite genre films of last year, the chaotic zombie thriller Train to Busan (reviewed here).  I say prequel, but as a practical matter, Seoul Station is less a prequel than another story set on the same chaotic night of the outbreak.  While the story is set in and around Seoul Station, none of the characters from the live action film are featured, and no explanation for the outbreak is offered.  More importantly, Seoul Station lacks Busan‘s high concept – setting the action on a moving train careening through the downfall of civilization.  Still, if you enjoyed Busan and like a good zombie thriller, Seoul Station will more than scratch that itch. Continue reading

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Review: Whiplash (USA 2014)

Whiplash is a perfect example of a mediocre narrative redeemed by an outstanding finale. J.K. Simmons is great – he has always been great since making his first splash on Oz – but this film doesn’t ask him to stretch beyond his customary abrasive, foul-mouthed persona. Continue reading

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Review: The Mermaid (China 2016)

It may have been a colossal moneymaker, but The Mermaid is pretty far from Stephen Chow’s finest. Still, this bizarre take on The Little Mermaid is damn funny, with all the slapdash CGI and manic hijinks that have come to define late period Chow. Continue reading

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Sir Roger Moore, RIP at 89

I don’t think anyone can argue that Roger Moore was the best Bond – Sean Connery was too indelible in the role and Daniel Craig has been giving him a run for his money (though he is too frequently let down by his scripts). And I don’t think anyone can argue he was in the best Bond films (Goldfinger, Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and From Russia with Love are just so damn good, despite the greatness of ). But when I was a kid, growing up in the ‘80s, Roger Moore was my Bond. Continue reading

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Review: Crocodile Fury (Hong Kong/Indonesia 1988)

Easily the most entertaining Godfrey Ho movie I’ve ever seen, Crocodile Fury is a almost non-stop parade of ludicrous reptilian carnage, interrupted only for nonsensical interludes with hopping vampires. The crocodile special effects in particular are mind-blowing. The crocs on display look like they were built out of papier-mâché by an artist who had never seen an actual crocodile. Continue reading

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Review: The Treasure Hunters (Hong Kong 1981)

Certainly not one of Shaw Brothers’ best, this wacky kung fu comedy stars Alexander Fu Sheng and his brother Chang Chen Peng as petty crooks out to steal a big treasure. Everybody does their usual schtick – Fu Sheng is an obnoxious loudmouth, Gordon Liu has a big supporting role as a bald fighting monk, and Wang Lung as always plays the heavy. Continue reading

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Review: Gamer (USA 2009)

I was hoping for the insane highs of Crank 2, but this Neveldine/Taylor joint was a little too bland. The central metaphor – with Gerard Butler as a convict put under the control of rich gamer geeks and forced to fight for his life in a live action roleplaying game called Society (other characters, including Butler’s wife, played by Amber Valletta, seem to mostly play day-glo ravers and strippers) is utterly confused and the mechanics of the game never make any sense at all. Continue reading

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Review: Train to Busan (South Korea 2016)

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Holy shit, THAT is how you do a zombie movie! I’m not usually a fan of fast zombies, but this mash-up of 28 Days Later’s panicky plague and Snowpiercer’s “class war on a train” is great fun, wasting little time before getting into the insanity of a massive zombie uprising, which our protagonists survive only by virtue of being on an overnight bullet train when the breakout occurs. Continue reading

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Review:  Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (Italy 1964)

This middling peplum is an adequate representative of the genre, mostly of interest due to the biblical connection.  Kirk Morris (aka Adriano Bellini) plays Hercules this time around, right in the middle of his lengthy series as the character, following on from Steve Reeves’s successful run. Continue reading

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