What we have here is Indonesia's answer to Thailand's martial arts… MoreWhat we have here is Indonesia's answer to Thailand's martial arts star Tony Jaa. Leading hero of the film Iko Uwais utilizes the martial art Pencak Silat for some major romper-stomper fight sequences that would give Jaa a good run for his money I'm sure.
The plot is pretty much videogame-like and extremely basic. A team of S.W.A.T. go into a high rise block of flats within the slums of Jakarta. Their aim is to take out all criminal targets within and get to the big boss at the top.
This film has more of a 'Die Hard' approach than Jaa's films which tend to be more about a lone man fighting hoods. That said the basis is the same as is the look of the film with its dirty, gritty, sweaty atmosphere, its basically an excuse for some kick ass fighting that looks stunning from all angles.
Yes I'm mentioning Tony Jaa a lot but if you've seen his films and like his stuff then you know exactly what to expect from this (minus the small amounts of occasional religion). The only real difference is this film is much more brutal with some truly nasty screen wincing knife attacks and of course many bullets to the head.
On one hand I did enjoy the film as I do like good fight flicks, this dating back to my JCVD fanboy days. On the other hand the fights are slightly ridiculous as they seem to go on forever. It does actually get a tad dull after you've seen the same two/three guys pounding each other over and over and over and over almost taking turns in getting the upper hand then losing it etc...
Speaking of JCVD, these modern day martial arts fight flicks certainly make all the old 80's/90's stars look pretty tame. I look back at Seagal, Norris, Lundgren, Dacascos, Li, Yen, Adkins etc...These Southeast Asian films put them in the shadows big time!
Impressive as it is the film is pretty much fight porn which offers nothing new if your really honest about it. The characters are very bland with most being simple nameless cannon fodder while the carnage is maybe a bit too much? I mentioned videogame-like already, well this film is virtually a videogame level of any FPS you can think of.
My personal diagnosis...take the pending doom and desperation in 'Aliens' of a small elite team being taken down slowly. Add to that the highly stylised visual flair of 'Leon' with the kick boxing martial arts variations of Southeast Asia. What you get is nothing particularly new now (seeing as Jaa got there first) but it is a mean ass action flick with great production values that has been crafted well.
Remake of the classic 1930's masterpiece which of course these days is… MoreRemake of the classic 1930's masterpiece which of course these days is very very old itself. Never really given the respect it deserved and not classed as good as the original but I found it just as hard hitting.
First thing I noticed was the story has been mixed up a bit, its not in the same order as the original, everything seems to have been translated across but in different stages of the film. This does actually work because it doesn't just seem like a carbon copy. There are also a lot more details in some sequences with different ideas for settings and locations, new angles and edits upgrading the whole film somewhat. Basically upgrading most aspects giving them a new modern spin (for the time).
On the whole it does look better in places, a good example I prefer being the bleak ending in this version over the original. Its still the same but with a slightly differently approach and NOT showing the sniper. All that is heard is the fire of a rifle and then a cut to Baumers hands as they react and his body slumps into the mud, possibly more effective and harrowing than the original 1930's sequence.
The cast are again solid for this adaptation with Borgnine playing the role of Stanislaus Katzinsky perfectly and maybe better than the original actor in 1930. Donald Pleasance is the German teacher whom regales the young German boys with propaganda and the glory of war. Holm as the over the top Corporal Himmelstoss giving him a slimy, backstabbing, cowardly glow and finally Richard Thomas looking just the part in his WW1 German uniform although coming across a little bland.
The scope isn't quite on par with the 30's version, its still very good and very bleak but its missing that epic feel which I guess is down to it being a TV movie. A shame really because this story deserves a much wider scope, none the less this version is still the business. The whole production is very authentic with good costumes, vehicles, landscapes, weapons etc...The battles are good but not overly grand whilst the waste of life, cheapness of life, desolation and despair is well conceived throughout. No shying away from the grim horrors of war when it came to the mud soaked trenches.
Its a shame this has been overshadowed somewhat as its a very good war film and manages to recreate WW1 just as well as its predecessor. Its still rough, gritty and somewhat shocking as it offers new perspectives from the last movie version of the story. Its easily a must see if you liked the 1930's film, its just as interesting, memorable and poignant.
A movie that bears a similar resemblance to the legend of the USS… MoreA movie that bears a similar resemblance to the legend of the USS Eldridge and the Philadelphia Experiment flick of 1984, in some aspects. That movie saw an experiment on board the US warship to try and make it invisible to radar. Of course it goes wrong and two crew members are sent into the future of 1984. In this time travel adventure the USS Nimitz is on training operations in the Pacific when a mysterious storm comes out of nowhere and sends the ship back to 1941.
The casting is impressive with this old sci-fi, Martin Sheen is a civilian observer, a systems analyst who is on board for reasons unknown frankly. Charles Durning plays a fictitious senator back in 1941 and the epic Kirk Douglas is the USS Nimitz Commander. All three of these actors add much needed impetus to the project as lets be honest...this is total B-movie fluff. Although I still can't for the life of me work out why Sheen's character is required, and here lies one of the plot issues.
In this movie the USS Nimitz was designed by an aged Mr. Tideman who we don't see. Now this chap has made sure that Sheen's character gets on board the Nimitz for its training run. The reason being because what happens on board the ship and in the past (when the ship gets there) will effect the future. You assume Sheen's character will obviously somehow effect someone or something that will cause a time ripple, but he doesn't as far as I could see. Sheen doesn't really do anything throughout the whole movie accept stand around and offer the odd bit of advice. The only thing I can think of is the fact that the Nimitz was delayed by two days waiting for Sheen's character to arrive and board (according to Douglas' character the Commander), by order of the mysterious Mr. Tideman. So maybe that delay was required so all the following events would be set in motion at the right time.
Naturally time travel paradoxes may arise in a story like this and I'm pretty sure the main twist in the tale here doesn't work. Basically it turns out one of the officers on board the Nimitz is a younger Mr. Tideman who gets stranded back in 1941. Tideman helped design the Nimitz because he served on board her as an officer up until the point he gets stuck back in time. So it was the older Tideman back in 1980 who wanted Sheen's character to travel on the Nimitz for her training ops...although I don't get why as I already said Sheen does nothing.
So here is my issue. Young Tideman goes back in time and gets stranded (in 1941), he then must pretty much relive his life through to the present of 1980. Thing is in the present of 1980 with Tideman now an old man, at some point many years earlier, another younger version of Tideman must be born so he can join the Navy, join the Nimitz and eventually go on the training ops mission back in time. So this would surely mean there would be two versions of Tideman living in the same time, is that possible? I'm sure the older version would know not to try and meet his younger self so maybe it would be OK?
There is much that isn't really explained in the movie, whether that's because its left up to your own imagination or not I don't know. The mysterious storm is never explained, the fact it seems to be aware at one point because it tracks or homes in on the Nimitz when they try to outmaneuver it. The whole event is simply written off as a mystery or freak of nature. Also I noticed that when the Nimitz goes through the time portal, even jets that aren't on board her go through too. At the end there is an entire strike force of jets up in the air and nowhere near the Nimitz when the storm time portal thing catches the ship and they go back through to 1980. So even if these jets aren't on the ship and not even close to either the ship or the portal...they still go through? Is that because the ship goes through and they just materialise along with it? maybe they are foreign objects in time and time knows they don't belong there?
Admittedly most of the run time is taken up by military prowess and military hardware porn, put it this way if you like big guns, jets, aircraft carriers, warships, old planes, helicopters, flybys etc...you're gonna have a field day. Its basically a US Navy recruitment campaign combined with a training video showing you all the cool fun stuff, life on a carrier and errr...all the cool fun stuff. You could also say it was a long homage and love letter to one of the USA's best supercarriers, one of the biggest warships around. A day in the life of the Navy at sea and how it runs. I can't deny it all looked very impressive though, very slick, very cool, it gives 'Top Gun' a good run for its money...and this was 1979! imagine what they're like today.
Anyway back to the movie, it was fun, an enjoyable little Twilight Zone-esque escapade which I find agreeable on most days. I knew there would be problems along the way with this, you can kinda tell, but it doesn't detract from the fun too much. Very well put together, nice effects for the time, cool aerial camera work on various military toys and it keeps you thinking.
Based on a novel and probably one of the most realistic war films I… MoreBased on a novel and probably one of the most realistic war films I have ever see. WW1 is the setting for this unusual look at life for German troops on the front line. Its unusual because its a 30's American film focusing on German soldiers and not the more obvious Allies of Britain, France and Russia.
Starting off much like 'Full Metal Jacket' the film covers a group (a class fresh out of school) of young German lads ready to join the ranks and fight for their country. From here on we follow them through harsh training and into battle where they very quickly realise the horrors of war. One by one they are killed off as the film becomes more and more tragic, and all this in a 1930's film!
The first thing that hits you are the amazing visuals and hard work clearly put into the film, its incredible! The realism of the trenches, war torn no man's land, the uniforms for both sides and the brilliant special effects, mainly revolving around some pretty big explosions near actors, are all superbly created. By today's standards everything still looks good whilst the old black and white imagery only helps the film appear more realistic and authentic. The film could easily be the 'Saving Private Ryan' of its day, its almost as good as real footage.
Of course the actors are of a different era so one can expect performances without the type of grit that we are used to today. Some scenes are almost slightly pantomime-esque with some slightly funny moments of comedy and slapstick which do lighten the mood (mainly at the start before the characters enter the war). I think we all know sequences of corny acting and dialog tend to add to the charm of old movies like this, they are easily forgiven.
Make no mistake though this film is a history lesson and seeing as it was made about 12 years after WW1 actually ended its amazing people watched! especially as it followed the Central Powers (the enemy). Being so close to the war is obviously why its so accurate. The harrowing sequences of men being mown down by machine gun fire, one after another without a chance, the screams of the young troops as they go crazy from the constant shelling, the mud, barren landscapes, bodies, barbwire and of course the famous bleak depressing ending for the main lead nailing home how cheap life was.
I think the main point in the film is how the lead protagonist Paul Baumer (like his friends) starts out as a patriotic young German wanting to go off and fight for his country. Encouraged, motivated and inspired by his surroundings whilst being practically lied to by his school teacher Professor Kantorek into doing what is thought to be right, to save the Fatherland. Baumer then returns to his home town towards the end of the film only to find his school teacher spouting the same nonsense to more young boys, trying to get them to join up and fight.
He is invited in to speak of the glory of war but instead rages how its all lies and there is nothing but misery and death for all who join up. He is shunned by his old teacher and branded a coward by the young boys, so he returns to the front line. Not long after this the film ends with his pointless needless death. A strong message which we all know of now yet at the time people just didn't understand or realise, war was glorious and made men of the young.
This was one of those early movies that kinda popped outta nowhere… MoreThis was one of those early movies that kinda popped outta nowhere (for me). I think the earliest Pryor movies I remember seeing were double acts with Gene Wilder such as 'Stir Crazy'. As for Candy I believe I first saw him in 'National Lampoon's Vacation'. I remember this being a regular flick on TV back in the day, always on in the afternoon or early evening, easy going, fun for all but also very easily lost under the radar.
Believe it or not but this story is actually based on a novel from 1902 and there have been many film adaptations (as well as theatre productions). The funny thing is these older films don't have quite the same impact, for example...the 1945 version sees Brewster having to spend a mere 1 million Dollars in 60 days or less to inherit 7 million (slight alteration from the original novel which has a full year to spend the 1 million). Now that feat would probably be relatively doable these days.
The plot has always been one of much debate though it must be said. A rich old relation leaves Monty Brewster (Pryor) a tough decision in his will, he can either take 1 million Dollars no questions asked right away or he can take the challenge. The challenge being he has 30 days to spend 30 million Dollars and not have any assets (that he doesn't already own) at the end of it. Further to that he must receive value for services of anyone he hires, he cannot buy something expensive and just destroy it and he can't just give stuff away as gifts. He can only donate 5% to charity and gamble 5% away, plus he cannot tell anyone of the challenge. If he manages to do this by the 30 day limit he will inherit 300 million Dollars, if he fails he gets nothing, not even the 1 million.
Now this has to be a real nail biter of a decision and one that is sure to draw discussion after you've seen it. Its like that age old question...what would you do if you won a vast amount on the lottery? Personally I'd be more inclined to take the 1 million and run because surely in this day and age (or even back then) it would be impossible to spend 1 million per day for 30 days. The fact you cannot own anything by the deadline is not only painful but just impractical. The main reason being if you had that kind of money the first things most folk would buy would probably be property, cars and gifts...all of which you can't do with this challenge. If you really really think about it, it would be incredibly hard to do. But of course the lure is the 300 million, money to literately burn, but failure results in zilch.
A great concept for sure with added imagination and teamed up with some stellar 80's casting. This movie really can't go wrong, what better way to produce good comedic scenarios than having an everyday bum needing to spend spend spend on whatever he likes. The film practically writes itself, you know what to expect when you read about it and having the crazy unpredictable force of Richard Pryor in the lead is a surefire winner. Sure enough its enormous fun watching Pryor go from zero to hero with his fortune. He walks around New York like he owns the city, he's hiring people left and right on exorbitant salaries for menial tasks, he's allowing people to pitch wacky preposterous inventions and ideas to him for funding, making bad bets, throwing big bashes, running a protest campaign in the local elections for Mayor which would cost tonnes of money etc...
The sequence where he buys a rare stamp (the Inverted Jenny) and then posts it is actually very clever indeed, I would have never thought to do that. Although I'm not sure if a stamp that's just over 70 years of age (in 1985) would be usable for actual postage, I could be wrong. Another clever idea (although part of the plot) was hosting an exhibition game between the local baseball team Brewster plays for and the Yankees, again I wouldn't of thought of that.
Whilst watching questions do pop up in my little brain though. Even if he didn't manage to complete the challenge wouldn't he be able to stash amounts he earned through whatever venture in a bank account somewhere for later. If its not part of the 30 million I'm sure you could hide earnings, especially bet winnings or stocks and shares earnings. The other thing that hit me was his electoral campaign for Mayor which he was winning hands down, if he lost the challenge he could easily of kept that job. I don't think the company that was in charge of the challenge could take that away from him. Really I'm sure there could be ways of staying rich even if you did lose the challenge.
I wouldn't really say I'm nitpicking but simply putting more thought into what I would have done if it was me, just like the lottery question. This is just one of those happy-go-lucky 80's productions that was extremely light-hearted and warm. As I said anyone can enjoy this with the ever dependable Candy in full flow with his funny fat faced expressions and mannerisms. Pryor shows he could do lovable easy comedy roles just as well as more edgy adult orientated ones and of course look out for an early Rick Moranis role. Not forgetting the great range of character actors and familiar faces supporting the main leads. A near perfect old classic underrated comedy with a fun story, fun performances and a happy ending.
Following on straight after the events of the first movie we are back… MoreFollowing on straight after the events of the first movie we are back alongside Rama as he is once again lured into another mission, or should that be used in another mission. The last three members to survive the tower block raid are seen here together again, albeit briefly, as Rama is now wanted for an undercover job. Expect betrayal, blood, broken bones and a whole load of very similar looking characters.
Right away this is the problem with this sequel, the plot, its meh. The whole reason why the first movie was so explosive was the excellent story. A special team of elite cops enter a tower block in the slums of Jakarta to bring down a crime lord. They start at the bottom and must work their way up floor by floor taking out scum, the whole premise was solid, tight, tense and claustrophobic, the perfect storm. This sequel sees Rama going undercover to expose a corrupt police official (Reza) who is tied in with criminal gangs, this means getting friendly with a crime bosses son (Uco) in jail and working for the enemy (Uco's father Bangun).
Things get complicated when another crime Boss Bejo, obviously wanting power and control, teams up with Bangun's son to try and start a war against a rival Japanese crime syndicate, this act being against Bangun's will. The only reason for this mainly being Uco wants to show his father how strong and dependable he his, to prove himself. The other reason being Bejo thinks the Japanese are trying to sway Reza against the Bangun syndicate. Jesus I had to think about that just writing it! and this is the problem, the plot is really convoluted in my opinion with characters coming out of the woodwork. I've not even mentioned the betrayal twists involving gangs killing their own and then faking reprisals to kick start this war, not to mention corrupt police gangs and undercover cop twists on top!
I genuinely had some trouble following what was going on from scene to scene, so many characters all kinda looking the same whilst scenes popped up outta nowhere with little reasoning (Prakoso the assassin I'm looking at you). Its only later on down the line I realised what that previous scene had been about and why, I had to rewatch scenes and read up on sections. It is good that the continuity is there from the start, they had the same two actors from the last movie briefly and it all smoothly crosses into this story which was cool. Alas at no point did I ever really feel the same adrenaline shot that I did for the first film, this could of been any action movie, its a generic plot that's been done before many times and I was actually bored periodically.
Of course the movie is all about the fights, this is the movies forte, its reason for being. Does that disappoint? errr...kinda, in all honesty it did in places yes, let me explain. There didn't actually seem to be as many fights in this film, probably because its not set in a confined space, what there was became so outrageous and so long I again found myself getting bored. Yes the first movie had awesome fights that were ridiculous and long but this movie does seem to go that little bit further. You still have tonnes of faceless henchmen getting their asses handed to them on a plate which is standard procedure and fun. But the boss fights almost become a parody and just go on and on and on, the main fight towards the end in the kitchen especially. I realise that's because both characters are highly trained fighters in their art but you get dizzy watching this shit, the director just doesn't know when to stop, less is more guy!
The blood and violence is sky high I might add it really is, non-stop bloodbath of epic proportions. Yet again I have to say its too much, less is more, there comes a point when the blood and gore is so extravagant that it loses all impetus, it becomes dull and non-engaging. I really found myself yearning for some good old fashioned fisticuffs that didn't involve various weapons that naturally result in gallons of claret everywhere, and I really disliked the assassins with their specific weapons. Seriously Evans are you trying to be the Asian Robert Rodriguez here? well don't, it ain't a good move. Don't any criminal gangs use guns in this world? would be easier.
We all know what this movie offers, you know what to expect and it certainly delivers on that. I can't complain about the violence because the movie is all about pure violence...and a traditional practice involving mental, physical and spiritual development but anyway. My main issue is the fact it just feels like a run of the mill action fest that offers nothing new (accept another look at a newish martial art). The first movie worked really well because of the cracking story, setting and close quarters action, this has none of that, its just a gangster flick with lots of stereotypical stuff in it. Hell even the car chase looked crap, you can clearly see the cars are going quite slow with high speed sound effects dubbed on top. Yes it looks good, yes the fights are impressive when not drenched in blood and yes its a solid achievement for an Indonesian production...but it lacks the quality of its predecessor and just left me numb and weary.
An interesting concept about a guy taking a drug that enables him to… MoreAn interesting concept about a guy taking a drug that enables him to use 100% of his brain at all times. Nice idea which isn't really brought across fully in my opinion as the film just seems to lack a kick. The story seems to wander across a few sub plots which don't really get explained too well and I found myself asking how did that happen? when did that happen? where did he get that? and why did he do that? Too many little moments like that happen throughout.
Of course the whole idea about humans not using 100% of their brains is complete nonsense. Over the course of a day we apparently use virtually all of our brain power, not all at once of course but spread out, as one section fires up another cools down like any machine. So this fantasy is just that...a nice fantasy but a cool one.
Yes the whole plot is quite neat but made in an unoriginal way. The guy starts off as a nobody but after taking the drug he is able to cheat life and get lots of money, girls, material things and a certain amount of power. Its a basic concept that has been done before, not entirely in this way of course but its a simple rags to riches tale really, very predictable. The acting from the main cast is stellar as you would expect which in turn really makes you believe what's going down, its definitely a thrilling ride. As the film progresses it does get quite tense as Cooper runs out of drugs, he has the mob after him for more whilst De Niro wants his big money deal sorted. It does get your palms sweaty for sure, you feel the tension.
There is some interesting camera work showing the effect of the drug, from a virtually dull black and white existence before to an almost bluray sharp pixel perfect colour burst once the drug is taken. A glorious visual feast that gives you an explosive sense of being high or alive for the first time. You can feel the characters sense of invigoration and liberation upon taking the drug, when it hits. What I didn't like was as the film progresses the people that take the drug go from being sort of super intelligent to also being a little super human too. When the effects start to weaken or they need the drug in a dangerous situation they just pop a pill and bingo! they're kinda super human again. They seem to be able to fight, run, leap, practically anything really which kinda spoils to idea, it goes overboard a bit.
The ending spoils the film too as Morra (Cooper) ingests the drug in a rather stupid and unrealistic way by lapping infected blood up off the floor from a recently dispatched baddie. That really seems like a rather dodgy thing to do surely, you could pick up anything young man! Plus there are more odd questionable moments along the way with a weak finale that again leaves you thinking wut?!
What does spring to mind is if this drug is so good and controllable, why doesn't everyone, mainly Van Loon (De Niro) just take the drugs themselves instead of relying on Morra for results. Too many questions for me.
'This is the best special forces unit in the world, they make the Navy… More'This is the best special forces unit in the world, they make the Navy Seals look like a bunch of cupcakes'
Possibly the best line of the film or any film for some time. Based on a controversial novel by Sir Ranulph Fiennes called 'The Feather Men' this is a ripping story based on assassins and major undercover ops within the British Empire surrounding our Special Air Service unit.
What makes this so intriguing is the fact its supposed to based on or around fact and the author, Fiennes, was actually one SAS serviceman almost killed. Whether this is all accurate or exaggerated is questionable but makes for a great film. Of course the Ministry of Defence denies all actions undertaken within the book, naturally, but the events all surrounding the control of oil in the Oman area is highly possible and the British Empire are highly skilled at cover ups and keeping things hush hush. What is surprising is the use of SAS servicemen for the fall seeing as they are the best of the best are most definitely not disposable.
As for this film I can't quite understand why it has received such negative reviews, it has excellent action, stealth, espionage of sorts and has the 80's recreated very well. The title doesn't help of course, to read it you'd think its some kind of blistering non-stop explosion filled gun fest much like 'The Expendables'. With the casting of Statham I can also understand the confusion with this notion as he's not exactly a subtle actor for a sensible film. The fact is there is really a very very good espionage thriller here...underneath the dreadful fact Statham has been miscast. Obviously this is to give the film a much bigger impact and attract more of an audience with the action man vibe. Unfortunately this gives the film a completely upside down outlook and messes up a possibly intelligent film.
Everyone else in the film is cast well and makes for a sensible exciting thrilling ride. Alas Statham brings his typical kind of dumb invincible super soldier theme into the mix which takes most of the believability away sadly. Think 'The Bourne Identity' but with Statham as the lead but also add in a hint of 'Ronin' (a better film I might add).
Its still a fun film with great set pieces, hard to believe its all fact I must admit. I haven't read the novel so I can't compare but its hard to think a few mercs could take down experienced SAS servicemen. I wonder if Fiennes likes this Statham vehicle adaptation, decent enough but a missed chance for a real classic.
Jason Statham is an ex-special forces veteran...oh Christ! how may… MoreJason Statham is an ex-special forces veteran...oh Christ! how may times have we seen and heard this before. I'm starting to think Statham is the British equivalent of Steven Seagal always playing servicemen. Believe it or not this isn't a balls to wall action flick with lots of death, oh on not entirely anyway. Come on seriously, you think you'll ever see a Statham movie where there is no killing?
This film centres around a homeless ex-special forces soldier (Joe) who accidentally manages to break into a wealthy business man's home to escape some thugs. Straight away this does actually lead me ask why he didn't just beat up the thugs seeing as later on we find out he can fight really well (surprisingly). Again by accident Joe discovers this rich dude is travelling so he decides to stay and kinda pretends he knows the guy, well he says he's his gay lover actually.
The film starts off and continues down a very thoughtful and emotional route for a while at least. We see how fragile and vulnerable Statham's character is, he has a drinking problem, he doesn't know how to handle money that well, he lives in terrible guilt over the loss of some fellow soldiers whilst he was in Afghanistan plus he feels bad for letting down his young daughter and ex-wife. He finds solace in a young nun whom he starts to fall in love with slowly. This nun helps out at a homeless shelter/soup kitchen where Joe would go for food and help, so he knows her (but she only starts to feel for him when he comes into money?). At first Joe is doing wrong by taking money, clothes and possessions from the house where he broke into to but he tries to better himself with it. He wants to help his fellow homeless friends and provide for his ex and daughter and he does this by getting a job in a Chinese restaurant. He kinda has to though because he was using a stolen credit card from the rich guys house and that could easily attract attention.
Oh and the films title refers to the hummingbirds Joe seems to hallucinate about or dream about when he's having nightmarish visions from his military days. Not sure if its because he's drunk or mentally broken and I'm not sure why hummingbirds but there you go.
So what we have here is a sentimental looking drama with Statham. Well it was until he starts working in the Chinese where for some reason, some how, he got the owners attention with his fighting skills. So now every time the restaurant has trouble with louts they call on their rockard dishwasher. I still don't get how working in a Chinese restaurants kitchen would enable a person, at some point, to show their clout in a brawl, how would that ever come up? Anyway this Chinese is run by a crime syndicate, naturally, and Joe becomes their top enforcer. All of sudden we're back in Statham country and beating the shit outta everyone.
So basically Statham starts off as a good character who gets a break and a bit of luck. He is doing illegal things by living in this guys house and using his clothes, car and gear but he's being respectful with them, he's not abusing anything, he looks after the man's house and he's bettering himself by working. So even though he's doing bad things he's still a good guy, you still see him as a good person who's trying to do right in an alternative way. He now has this honest job but eventually becomes a bad guy by accepting illegal work for the syndicate doing anything for money, getaway driver, delivering drugs, collecting payments and even human trafficking! We learn he has no morals...but he's saving all this money for his ex and daughter, he buys food for the homeless shelter, he gives money to the nun and in general helps the less fortunate (he doesn't kill anyone, doesn't hurt innocent folk).
So really you could say Statham's character is a bit of a Robin Hood type, taking from the rich to give to the poor. But he should know better really because of his military background, a soldier should have strong morals, good ethics. But when faced with the horrors he has seen could that in turn make him harder? maybe less emotional and more robotic in certain situations? Dealing with the crime syndicate seems to be an everyday job for Joe, he just does his job and never questions it, so is that down to his military experiences or simply because he wants to help certain people before the inevitable happens?
There are a lot of moral implications in this story, decisions, redemption, revenge and consequences. There is also a reasonable amount of head bashing and fisticuffs which is Statham's forte, but its not mindless violence, there are reasons behind it. The sub plot about an aristocratic playboy going around beating up and murdering escorts flows into Joe's story and provides the catalyst for his rage and subsequent final decision between love and friendship. Its actually this sub plot that fuels Joe's reason in the end to help out the crime syndicate doing an unpleasant job (human trafficking) in order for important information on the killer. So again even though we know Joe will still do a highly illegal and immoral task, we know its still for a good reason.
This is definitely one of Statham's better films and performances in recent years...even though it still involves ass-kicking. There is a touch of artistic license being used though. Joe manages to break into the rich guys house very easily and there aren't any alarms? its amazing how this blokes clothes fit Statham perfectly, he does use the blokes credit card withdrawing quite a lot yet that is never flagged?? And I'm still not sure why local thugs would ruff up and mug homeless people, what could homeless people possibly have of value? Bit of a slow starter admittedly and the ending feels too anti-climatic, nice tension building but then falls flat on its face. Where on earth were the police and how was he not picked up when drunk in the street?!
Probably Mark Dacascos finest hour in this highly stylised adaptation… MoreProbably Mark Dacascos finest hour in this highly stylised adaptation of a classic manga character and graphic novel. This is where I first saw and heard of Dacascos and I really dug the guys talents, he was lean, athletic and he could do both Karate and Kung Fu styles, its just a shame that since this excellent film he went very much down hill with low budget action films.
As for this adaptation its really very good considering its one of the first major comicbook films along side 'The Crow' which went for a serious adult approach just like the original source. To clear things up this is not a balls out action fest with killing and guns galore, its quite a thought provoking slow building story which does have some fantastic sequences but its not chock full of blazin' violence.
A lot is based around both the Japanese and Chinese underworld which for anyone interested in the East and its customs, such as myself, is always a pleasure, plus it always seem to look really good on film too. There is some gun porn here of course alongside some samurai sword fighting, martial arts, neat explosions with a few stunts and the now over used slow motion death sequences but it all looks very lush and sharp. Remember this was 1995 and the mid 90's was the era of John Woo and his slick slow motion tomfoolery, so you know what to expect visually.
Odd mix of folk for casting it must be said, due to some changes from the source material a few characters are now Western instead of Eastern and being directed/produced by both French and Canadian sources you have a real worldly blend of ideas going on, sort of. I think everyone knows to expect changes from the original source material though, something we just gotta live with I'm afraid.
I myself had long forgotten about this film and I'm glad I checked it out again as its well worth your time if you enjoy martial arts of course. These days it will seem totally cliched and completely old hat but lets not forget it was one of the first serious comicbook adaptations. The film was never released in the US at first, unsure if its available now, so maybe many have missed this cracking assassin flick? if so go check it out.