It has been a crazy, crazy week. Be sure that you didn’t miss a thing!
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After the success of Rush Hour 2, Jackie teamed up with his other movie screen partner for a second attempt at winning Hollywood audiences over. Shanghai Knights brought Owen Wilson back into the mix and sent the pair to England, where they would both be fish out of water. Given the close proximity in both story and release, Shanghai Knights had a lot going against it, but would the action and charm win everyone over?
The story for Shanghai Knights is pretty simple, yet deep enough to remain interesting. It gives Jackie’s character a certain level of depth that he didn’t have in the previous film while expanding on the relationship between him and Roy. The only thing that really isn’t too great is the sense of danger from the villain. Rathbone is not a threatening being, and it’s apparent he’s just there to move the story along. However, there are several great nods to British culture in the film, proving that a lot of thought went into how the story moves along.
One of the best things about Shanghai Knights is the characters. Everyone has a certain charm to them, and even the little rascal Charlie is likeable. Of course, the main stars have the best moments, and Owen Wilson’s comedic timing for this film is easily one of the highlights. It’s easy to see that Jackie isn’t as comfortable with the comedy of the film, but he has a better opportunity to show his funny side in ways that the Rush Hour franchise didn’t.
While the comedy is top-notch, the action isn’t taking a back seat either. Every fight in Shanghai Knights is creative and fun to watch. From the “Singing in the Rain” fight to the one with the Gatling gun, nothing feels retreaded. Each fight has a set scenario around it, and it appears that every possible outcome was thought out. The final battle was a little bit of a letdown, but the film is still marks above other Hollywood movies that Jackie has created.
Own it, Watch it, Try it, or Skip it?
I honestly think that Shanghai Knights is better than the original, which is a rare thing to see. The comedy is good, the fights are solid, and there are tons of cameos. In fact, it’s one of the few films where Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen face off. While Shanghai Knights didn’t get the same level of attention of success that the Rush Hour movies did, I still think this film is one that everyone should check out for originality in both action and comedy. If you haven’t given it a chance, you are missing out.
Crazy week this week, so the articles may be out of order. Feel free to click around and see what interests you!
Also, here are the two other character trailers for Man with the Iron Fists!
Sorry for the mass of media, hope you guys enjoy!
The first story written by director Ricky Lau, Mr. Vampire was a film that combined supernatural horror elements with martial arts action. The filmed starred veteran Lam Ching-Ying as well as Ricky Hui and Chin Siu-hou. With Yuen Wah as the evil vampire, did Mr. Vampire have enough bite to satisfy the audience’s thirst?
The story of Mr. Vampire is simple enough. A local priest is tasked with reburying a corpse when he discovers it to be a vampire. This main plot drives a lot of the actions that follow, but there are also some subplots that are added into the mix. While I felt like one of the “love stories” comes a little too late, it adds some interesting elements that make the finale that much more enjoyable. The story is easy enough for anyone to enjoy, regardless of their knowledge of Chinese supernatural beings, and has enough variety to keep from being boring.
The characters in the film are pretty much what you’d expect. Ricky Hui and Chin Siu-hou play the two apprentices that don’t always follow the rules, getting into more trouble than they should. While they may not be the most interesting characters, they are entertaining and believable enough for you to care about what goes on with them. Of course, Lam Ching-Ying steals the show as the priest, always in over his head, yet always focused on how to tackle the next big threat.
When you look at it from one angle, Mr. Vampire might not look like a “true” martial arts film. However, a closer examination will show you that the film is still very martial arts in nature. Yuen Wah plays a very powerful beast, and while he may not showcase any intricate choreography, the challenge of taking him down is an impressive one. The fights that do take place are creative and fit the story, making them enjoyable in their own right. Personally, I think that the fights were handled perfectly and that I wouldn’t change anything about them.
Own it, Watch it, Try it, or Skip it?
Mr. Vampire is a classic, and it’s easy to see why. With fun characters, fitting action, and a layered story, it’s got something that everyone can enjoy. Horror buffs might not be too impressed with the toned-down aspects of the film, but it’s an action film first and foremost. I loved this movie as a kid, and nostalgia is most likely affecting my decision, but I think that this is a must-have film that you will enjoy regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve seen it last.
People always fondly remember their childhood heroes. Many young men have watched stars like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis growing up, which helped shape the expectations of action movies to come. Director Sylvester Stallone had a lot to prove when he decided to create the Expendables. He wanted to show that action movies could still be testosterone-filled, adrenaline-pumping experiences and that he still had what it took to play a badass. He called in a number of action film stars to help him see this goal out, covering almost every base possible. Was this going to be the movie action fans were looking for, or was it simply trying to hide the fact that these men are well past their prime?
The story to the Expendables is nothing too terribly unique. At the same time, it’s not something that requires a lot of thought either. You know who the bad guy is and what needs to be done in order to take him down. There is some interesting plot development, but it would really be a stretch to call it a plot twist. However, the plot never gets in the way and lets the audience sit back and enjoy what they really want to see, the action.
“I’m getting a text…”
Truthfully speaking, I think that character development is the strongest aspect of the Expendables. There is a sense of comradery that is immediately apparent when the characters start interacting with one another. There are a lot of jabs and jokes at the expense of others, but this is all done in an entertaining manner. You truly get a feel for how each character is and who they are, even if some shine more than others. Some even have a past that haunt them every day of their lives. I believe that it’s this realistic bond between the characters that makes the action sequences that much better and meaningful.
There are two things an action movie can have: martial arts or guns and explosions. The Expendables does its best to blend these two types of action together, and the result is decent. A lot of people get shot up and plenty of things (and people) explode. In other words, those that love bloody shoot ‘em ups won’t be disappointed at all.
Corey Yuen does a decent job making everyone look good for fights, but the shaky-cam is back to rear its ugly head. I wondered why a man who has made so many action films would resort to this technique, and I’m still not too sure. He could be trying to cater to a more modern audience, or he may be trying to cover the fact that this movie has a bunch of old men fighting each other. Things only got really confusing near the end, when there are 3 separate fights going on, yet the action seems to switch between them whenever Stallone saw fit. This can be disorienting and takes a few seconds for the audience to realize which fight they are watching.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Sylvester Stallone took a huge risk when he decided to create the Expendables. Trying to get all of these stars onboard while giving them all an appropriate amount of screentime is no easy task. Most action fans will be more than happy with the result that has come from the Expendables. While I found myself wanting more from the choreography and martial arts I still had a good time watching the film.
It’s bond that the characters have that really brings the film to life, and I think it would have been a disaster if the writing wasn’t handled so well. As it stands, the Expendables is a very solid action film that deserves a watch, but maybe not something that martial arts fans will come back to time and time again.
*Also, I should point out I watched the original version. I’ve heard the director’s cut has longer fight sequences, like Jet Li vs. Dolph Lundgren, but I have not seen them.
This week was pretty crazy, but still had a lot of good info tucked into it. Be sure to let me know what you think about No Holds Barred, which you can watch by clicking here, or on my annotation (which almost did end up over my mouth.)
MMA star Gina Carano decided to star in her first action film, paving a path for other female fighters along the way. Director Steven Soderbergh put Carano in the lead role and made sure that numerous big names would be present as well. Would Carano be able to show the industry what she’s capable of while simultaneously living up to the expectations of being the next big new female action star?
Oh, that doesn’t help, does it? The story to Haywire has been done hundreds of times. Carano plays an agent that’s double crossed by her employers, forcing her to become a fugitive and discover what really went on and who’s behind it all. Now, some people will give this movie slack because very few females play that role, but I’m not one of those people. Regardless of gender, this story has been done so many times that I just didn’t care about what was happening.
She looks so into character right now…
One of the worst aspects of Haywire is the character of Mallory Kane. For starters, there is nothing interesting about her whatsoever. Part of this is due to the script, while Gina Carano is also responsible for not being able to act. Carano shows no emotion while acting her scenes, and her voice is so monotone that it’s grating on the ears. I’ve heard that her voice was altered to sound deeper, and if that’s true, that’s just stupid. Whether she’s fighting a group of thugs or trying to look sexy in a evening gown, there simply isn’t anything likable about Gina Carano.
Story only plays a small role in movie like this, but the action is not the saving grace the film needs. The fights aren’t bad, but they are very, very slow paced. Chase scenes have no tension to them and when fights do happen, it just doesn’t feel like anything worthwhile is going on. This may have to do with more “realistic” fighting, but if that’s as fast as Carano can move, they need to use a little speed ramping. Also, the choice of music during the action sequences doesn’t seem to match the film.
She’s actually moving a lot slower than you think
Another problem with the choreography is that Carano gets put in a lot of painful situations just because she can handle it. It’s almost reverse-psychology as to what we expect for women fighters. Almost as if Soderbergh was like “she can handle it, so let’s splash her face with coffee, break a mug over her head, and suplex her into a dresser.” The whole time I watched the action, I was asking myself why all of that was necessary. It simply wasn’t impressing me, but rather making me uncomfortable just watching it.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Is it over yet?
Haywire is a movie that got ridiculous praise for some reason I will never understand. I tried watching this movie in theaters, only to leave halfway through and my second viewing was just as painful. The action is very slow and unfulfilling, the plot is boring and predictable, and Carano does not have what it takes to be the lead in a film (at least judging from this film.) I can be called a hater, but I simply don’t find any redeeming qualities to watching this film.
Yuen Woo Ping and Sammo Hung pair up in this classic, but does it stand the test of time? (more…)