Archive for the ‘Dollar Movies’ Category

Dollar Store Movies – Kill Command (2016)

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Yet another foray into the realm of celluloid which cost me the stunning price of merely a single dollar. Can a movie have any semblance of quality at such a price? Or am I in for merely in for a ninety-minute (the average length of a movie) foray into boredom’s ville? I aim to find out, wish me luck.

 

Kill Command (2016)

kill Command dvd case

Writer/Director – Steve Gomez
Runtime – 100 minutes
Vertical Entertainment
Vertigo Films
Protagonist

 

Having a strange kind of day, I found myself not really knowing what to do. I started to wander around the house not really finding a purpose which fit my mood. Perhaps a movie could pull me out of my funk? After only a brief search (I have movies everywhere, the wife hates it!) I happened upon a towering stack of DVD’s I had recently purchased from the Dollar Store (much like any frugal sort I love those places). And finally chose Kill Command. The film’s running time was about average, as opposed to another I was mulling over (which was closer to two hours) this was the final deciding factor, rather than the story, genre or any other element, if I’m to be brutally honest. I finally got my arse in gear and settled down for a view, still unsure If it was what I really wanted. It didn’t take long for me to decide that a viewing experience was exactly what was in order. Obviously, this film, in particular, helped me come to this conclusion. Within the opening scenes alone one starts to comprehend that this isn’t a run of the mill low budget Sci-Fi affair. Kill Command is polished, sports a significant amount of flair, a certain class and, even early on, doesn’t skimp on displaying dazzling effects and set pieces. I was left intrigued and eager for what’s to follow.

(Trailer courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

Kill Command bears a familiar vibe, lets be clear, a strong Dog Soldiers aura. And much like in that film a small infantry unit is dropped into the wilderness in a training exercise scenario which transpires into much more (however, in this case there’s no curse and no hybrid, hairy, hungry, beasts on the rampage) and the camaraderie isn’t nearly as playful, the humor element is present but not nearly as pronounced as seen in D.S. The attitude here seems more all “business”. These guys have something to prove and are frustrated at the fact that their action results from mainly training exercises.

kill command eyes

Look deep into my eyes.

Mills (played by Vanessa Kirby who also stars in The Fast and Furious; Hobbs and Shaw and the three newest Mission Impossible films) is a robot programmer, a vendor for the company who produced the Harbinger prototypes (whom the squad are facing in their training exercise, which they don’t realize till later on). She’s also, technically, a cyborg. Mills has an implant/chip which gives her the ability to communicate with computers, the net and interact with robotic intelligence. her eyes are the tell tale sign something is most definitely up. They shine a wicked blue with a circular insignia which flickers depending on the amount of data she’s processing. Mills teams up with the unit though only in the capacity to access/evaluate her creations in action. The team are dubious of her (initially ‘stand-offish’ in fact) and her role though soon warm to her as she proves useful in their unfolding circumstances.

Kill Command nope I cant see a toilet anywhere

Nope. I can’t see a toilet anywhere!

As the exercise unfolds the team soon realize this is anything but merely a practice-type situation. This is all too real. The ammo is live and those they are shooting at (an array of robotic creations) are shooting back with the intent to kill.  They look to Mills for guidance but her words can only tell them so much, she is able to communicate with the ‘artificial enemy’ but there seems to be something blocking her from accessing files which would explain things further. She informs the group that they are locked in combat with her creations (there’s the mistrust issue again understandably and a gallery of questions).

kill-command harbinger robot

AN S.A.R prototype

S.A.R bots (which stands for Study Analyze Reprogram) are intricately designed soldiers set to eventually be the team’s/the infantry’s replacement. Designed and created to save lives (ironic given the circumstances) they learn and adapt as their surroundings and the situation dictates.

Strong performances (notably Thure Lindhardt as Bukes, who also had starring role in the brilliant “Flame and Citreon”, Bentley Kalu as Robinson, Vanessa Kirby as Mills and Mike Noble as Goodwin drive the narrative and help pull the viewer in as the film unfolds and the teams puzzlement turns to fear and a fight for survival. Grit, determination, a sense of brotherhood and personalities far removed from cardboard cut-outs-ville which many other films of the same nature provide, accompanied by spot-on human interaction one can relate to and the characters dire circumstances aid in the enjoyment of the film. It has undeniable flow and starts out of the gates at a satisfactory pace in introducing the characters and futuristic setting.

Stunning atmosphere is provided by a score worthy of high praise. Palpable tension of an adrenaline spiking nature derives from its placement and chilling composition caliber. An exquisite element which only makes this film that much harder to tear yourself away from.

Kill Command gif

There is a myriad of other factors which make this a feature worthy of note; excellent FX and ultra-realistic, meticulously crafted, robotic antagonists models and impressive CGI nod towards a genius creative team and a huge budget without any silliness which might pull the viewer away from the story line. The gore is minimal. However, Kill Command still manages to convey effective dread and appropriate emotions based on what it actually displays rather than depictions of gratuitous unflinching brutality.

Other elements include stunning cinematography; shots of the wilderness in various lighting in which the team are stranded. A clever juxtaposition of beauty and carnage. Camera techniques aren’t experimental but rather precise which leads me to the highly polished directing. Kill Command is a film made by a collective of individuals who know how to effectively convey a story, its “movements”, its characters, and many facets without causing confusion or an aura of predictability in the audience.

kill command go on kiss me i dare ya

Kill Command even has romantic moments

Kill Command offers a bleak and dismal view of the future, much like The Terminator, in which A. I. becomes self-aware and smarter than its creators, resulting in an environment where the manufactured doesn’t require guidance anymore, but it does seek something to keep it entertained. A bleak future indeed.

rise of the machines

I need a Phillips screwdriver. Anyone?

Honestly, this film is probably the best value for a single dollar I believe I’ve ever received (the pleasure from eating a value burger or taco can only last so long). And for a film I had initial doubts about (it’s admittedly rare that Sci-fi themed films do anything for me) this hit the spot and delivered with a flawless execution, it started out quick, was easy to follow and sported a pace which rarely lets up keeping me enthralled the entire time. It’s a great pity that Kill Command never received the praise it should have (perhaps based on its title?) Its quality warrants a large audience’s attention and bodes extremely well for the future of the creative team behind it.

Kill Command another dvd case

Kill Command Blu-ray well worth a peek

In short, if you’re looking for something to watch which is a little different than the usual, with Terminator and Chopping Mall tendencies though provides the thrills and chills you crave, give Kill Command a watch. It has more than earned my stamp of approval. In all honesty I’d probably even pay five dollars for it!

Funfact; Kill Command is aka “Commando Kill” and “Identify”.

9

Cult

Dollar Store Movies – Immortal Demon Slayer

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Immortal Demon Slayer (aka The Tales of Wukong)
2017
Writer – Hai Huang, Hezai Jin, Chi-Kin Kwok, Fan Wen Wen, Henri Wong
Director – Derek Kwok
Runtime – 123 minutes

immortal-demon-slayer

Welcome to yet another movie piece. A slab of scribbles in which I waffle on about my viewing experiences with a movie I’ve plucked from my collection featuring various films picked up at the insane price of a single dollar. Obviously, there’s not much you can do with a dollar these days. Perhaps a candy bar, a bargain priced burger (you’ll need a few cents for tax depending on where you live), a taco, small fries or a thimble full of the fizzy stuff. Hardly enough to sate any appetite. So, what of celluloid purchased for the same price?

(Trailer Courtesy of YouTube Movies)

In this instance I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for fantastical martial arts mayhem and subtitles and that’s exactly what the cover to this film promises. The accompanying text alludes to what many might know as the mystery surrounding The Monkey King. I vividly remember a series on British television in the early eighties with much the same premise which, though rather silly, was thoroughly entertaining. In recent years, actually the last twenty years or so, there have been a slew of entries in much the same arena. But what of this? Honestly, I’m not one to compare this film with the myth/folklore it’s based upon. Instead, I’ll merely talk of the film itself.

immortal demon slayer art

From the very beginning IDS offers luxurious, extravagant set pieces and costumes ranging from suits of armor to spectacularly decorated ensembles one might expect to see in The Hunger Games. There’s no doubt, even this far in, that this is a lofty budgeted affair. But it gets better. The main characters, a mischievous “Princess” (played by Ni Ni) and Sun Woking (who some might think of as The Monkey King), played by both Eddie Peng and Eddie Pang, are introduced within no time within a scene which opens the eyes and sets the bar high for the remainder of the film.

Immortal Demon Slayer setup 4 fight

Dust swirls and bodies bounce from one side of the screen to the other amidst a myriad of high wired stunts and video game styled fighting antics. Although fast and furious there’s little crimson on display keeping this at a somewhat playful level for most to enjoy. The film progresses blossoming wonderfully on the backstory of the main characters and the reasoning as to why they are the way they are. In this case there’s trouble in the Heavens, a power struggle, control issues and a debt to be settled but there’s a whole ton more than that which I will refrain from elaborating upon.  Rather than spoil any potential viewers enjoyment, I will comment on why I believe this film works.

immortal dragon slayer why dos it work

So, tell me O Wise One what makes this… watchable?

IDS (an abbreviation to save digit fatigue) boasts a fluid story line, in fact a myth which many might wish to explore further. The film sports characters one can relate to, probably not at first but as they develop and the film rolls out they begin to take on more human characteristics as opposed to the enigmatic Immortals they are portrayed as. Humor is used expertly as well as lightening the mood it works to bring many of the main characters ‘down to earth’. Obviously, one of the films major draws is its action, of which there is plenty, and brilliant choreography. Fluid, fast paced and often surprisingly inventive it will please those newcomers fascinated by the genre and those who frequently dwell in what it has to offer. Larger than life the on-screen antics frequently run into the fantastical boasting wizard-like gymnastic moves and weapons of a dazzling amorphous nature wielding continent shattering might.

immortal demon slayer weapon

Cor blimey! That’s big!

However, IDS isn’t all about conflict, unearthly weaponry, fate/destiny and revenge. It also touches upon heart break, human emotions, the perils of being Immortal, overcoming obstacles and the power of determination and dedication. Add to that scenic views which are breathtaking, backdrops which are stellar and special effects of the highest quality you have a film which delivers in every aspect. The soundtrack is grandiose, fits and adds just the right amount of emotion where it’s needed. Although there might be one or two scenes which some might find a little ‘sappy’.

immortal demon slayer a sappy moment

What. I needed something to punch and he was there!

All in all, if you’re wishing to experience a dazzling display of the surreal and the fantastical slathered in mythical themes blanketed in force of nature back flipping, spinning, high -kicking action it doesn’t get much better than this. Naturally, you have to have the patience and willingness to read SUBS while watching in order to be able to enjoy this (although I’m sure there’s a dubbed version available).  I enjoyed IDS from start to finish and honestly didn’t look at my cell phone once, either for the time or to check anything, that’s a sign of a good film, right? And this is! Make time for this especially if you’re in the market for a spot of ‘light-hearted’ escapism.

8.5

Cult

Scorching the Retinas; Dollar Store Movies

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2307 – Winter’s Dream aka The Winter Soldier
(USA)(2016)
Writer/Director – Joey Curtis
Runtime -102 Minutes

2307 movie
In the not so distant future snow and ice everywhere is a thing. Damn cold reigns supreme. It’s so frigid in fact that Phoenix (this film is set in Arizona) is an arctic wasteland.  Humanity resides underground in small pockets destined to soon become extinct. Scientists however have created a humanoid counterpart, a race, to aid in man’s survival. Designed to withstand extreme temperatures (again, it’s cold, damn cold) and be able to outlast its human masters it should come as no surprise that many, one in particular, has grown tired of servitude. A special team. Spartan Seven, has been called in to take out said individual, lest his presence further stir up an existing resistance and challenge to the status quo many have come to accept as the norm.

2307 spartans

We are..Spartan(s)

Spartan Seven is a motley crew. Highly trained soldiers each with their own idiosyncrasies. The commander has a back story, as luck would have it’s  intertwined with his mission (but I won’t ruin it).  The team’s mission takes them deep into the Deadlands, rendering their “equipment” useless.
Personalities collide and frustrations rise as their numbers dwindle. But there’s something beneath the surface, another story, a conspiracy. Has the Spartan Leader, Bishop, been lead astray, used as a pawn or is their another factor which is more important?

(Trailer courtesy of Sandrew Metronome Movies)

Channeling Blade Runner, Mad Max and a myriad of other post apocalyptic features 2407 has a surprising amount to offer its audience; a story which boasts more than one might imagine,  based on its initial premise, and a “message” which is timeless. Although this feature suffers from a myriad of cliches, plentiful nods to Pop Culture (mostly film based) and predictable dialogue exchanges it still manages to keep the attention.

2307 boy what a barell

Low budget doesn’t always mean smaller in “stature’

Apart from a few small qualms the acting is surprisingly decent, the films pace exciting and the cinematography remains one of it’s stand out features. The films score/soundtrack fits perfectly and serves to add sufficient depth to a story which might surprise those hoping for merely a run of the mill action/adventure.

2307 humanoid

Nope. I’m not Rutger Hauer

Save for its undeniable similarities to another feature, in which a manufactured race also strives for independence. 2307 stands as a worth while distraction from that which plagues our current existence. An independent, low- budget, affair which delivers (for those willing to turn away from the garish allure of huge blockbuster Hollywood features) and bodes well for the future of both the writing and directing teams involved (incidentally one and the same person in this case). And to think I paid only a single dollar for this, what a deal!
6.5
Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Dollar Store Movies; Ultimate Justice

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It’s Dollar Movie Time! Up for discussion this week is another I’ve picked up at an ungodly cheap price at one of my many favorite establishments.

Ultimate Justice (2017) Germany

ultimate justice movie

Writers – Marcos Theiss, Mike Leeder, Nicola Nauen.
Director – Martin Christopher Bode
Runtime – 94 minutes
Vision Films
International Film Partners
Silent Partners

Heavily dubbed and channeling the success and interest sparked from the Expendable films this features the talents of Mark – yes, I am the same; the Iron Chef – Decascos and a motley crew of assorted action film star look-alikes. There’s a fellow who looks like Dolph Lundgren and several others who will most definitely get those wheels a spinning. Ironically though this was produced in Germany, not the Eastern bloc (typically Bulgaria) where prices are significantly lower to shot than in Hollywood.

ultimate-justice-movie-poster

Nope, not “The Expendables”

Money, mercenaries and bad guys are what gets this feature rolling from the get go. Naturally, there are explosions aplenty, firepower to spare and sufficient gunshot wounds to make any emergency room attendee at New York General (yes, I’m sure that’s not the name. But you get the idea) wince. What isn’t expected however is the early on made for television emotion and suitable (piano tinkering) soundtrack to match.

(Trailer courtesy of Fantastic Movie Trailers Universe)

Following the cordite smoke high energy introduction and the feely/touchy bits the film transforms (again) into more a social get together to settle a revenge score. Cue a montage in which several larger than life characters are introduced (in their own environments) righting specific social wrongs via their special attributes and skills (it all sounds a bit cliché, it’s been done before but it highlights the films choreographers skill and some of the casts talent in swinging their limbs about wildly with maximum effect). Now the team is assembled, within no time seriously, the research begins. So just who deserves the stern ‘talking off’?

ultimate justice fkn ouch

Dammit, sorry I ate the last one. Forgive me FFS!

Apparently, the collective’s leader has been robbed, his wife has been touched more than just a little inappropriately and his pride as well the majority of his torso has been bruised significantly.  If only it were as easy as all that though. With money and hired “killers” being involved there’s bound to be the highest bidder gets ‘the action’ scenario, and there is. But enough about possible spoilers. The film features enough fight scenes to please the casual viewer probably not the hardened martial arts fan to be honest, the action isn’t bad (it introduces up and comer Mike Möller for all those wishing that on screen heroes weren’t so […um] larger than life), better than most in fact, certainly better than the majority of features bearing the same budget and sports a somewhat family friendly over the top Jackie Chan feel most certainly not the crimson, bone crunching kind witnessed within “The Raid Redemption”, “The Iron Protector” or “The Night Comes for Us”. The fighters exchange damage rather than merely dishing it out one sided, to give this a relatable everyday person edge rather than a superhero type nothing can touch me vibe.

ultimate justice you don't have to break

You shouldn’t have to twist many arms to watch this!

The accompanying soundtrack is of the type most commonly heard within RPG platform games, a bit of a cop out if truth be told. At times the approach fits, in others it appears a tad cliché. With all that being said however the film flows well. Sure, the acting isn’t terrific, it appears some ‘actors’ have been chosen more for their athletic abilities rather than acting chops but “Ultimate Justice” manages to hold the attention. Honestly, it gets to be a mite predictable towards the end but it’s pretty much mindless fun overall if truth be told and worth a watch if lower budget over flowing with beat-em’-up action, with minimal story line, non-Hollywood affairs are your penchant.

Brotherhood_of_the_Wolf_Film_Poster

I’ll give this a 6

 

For other Mark Decascos treats try tracking down (1997) “Drive” directed by Steve Wang and the cult hit “Brotherhood of the Wolf” (2001) which, you guessed it, features both Mark’s martial arts skills, subtitles and a four legged, fanged, creature also intent on a career in genre cinema. He also starred in the most recent “John Wick” installment (part 3).

Cult

Scorching the Retinas: Dollar Movies – The Midnight Man

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Dollar Store Finds; The Midnight Man (2016)
Director – D.C. Hamilton
Writers – D.C. Hamilton and Brinna Kelly
Runtime 106 minutes
Cinedigm Entertainment
Expression Entertainment

the midnight man movie

For those familiar with my scribbles it should come as no great surprise that I have a varied and wonderful collection of films. Most of which I have yet to admittedly lay eyes upon. Of these a great majority are those I’ve pulled from the shadow ridden recesses of various bargain bin. Others still are those I’ve rescued from charity stores. But there remains some I have yet to mention. This mysterious portion of my collection are films I’ve purchased new, still wrapped, at an unbelievable price. Each, in fact, only a single dollar. I’ve had similar experiences when visiting my family who remain in my ‘homeland’ and I will gladly report that ‘Poundland’ is for me is an utterly euphoric location to set foot in. In truth, a dangerous addictive retail location. Be it movies, snacks, sundry odds and ends or Pot Noodles (my favorite British ‘in between meals treat’ if truth be told) odds are I’m leaving that place considerably lighter in the funds department than when I first entered.

This film comes from a recent foray into the everything costs a dollar realm.

(Trailer courtesy of Cinedigm)

Obviously, it was the knife through the hand image on the films front cover and the mention of both Doug Jones and Vinny Jones in the cast list which first garnered my interest.

Will kemp Midnight Man

Nah – I can’t feel a bloody thing mate!

But apart from that what does The Midnight Man have to offer? After a view I can honestly state quite a bit, and definitely more than expected, especially for the single, solitary, dollar I handed over for it. Wicked one-liners. Smirk-inducing humor, intriguing interactions, and a nature most might associate with lower budget over the top BnW 30’s gangster affairs. But that’s just a brief summary.

Data from Star Trek, known as Brent Spiner in the everyday real world, plays a gangster kingpin who sends Grady, an assassin, with a rare, can’t feel pain, genetic disorder to do his nefarious bidding. This same assassin played by Will Kemp steals the show, reminiscent of both Ryan Eggold (from the current New Amsterdam television series) and Tom Ellis’ (Lucifer) in looks, accent and delivery his smart Alec character is most like that seen in Lucifer, a portrayal which is difficult not to appreciate. The Midnight Man starts out with an amazing footing though often spins its wheels in what appears attempts to stand tall with the likes of the dark humor Guy Ritchie and Tarantino films provide. Brinna Kelly (who co-wrote this) also stars. She plays a Paramedic who’s strangely been thrust into a partner/sidekick role. Oddly she embraces her sudden “responsibilities” without regrets or complaint.

Midnight man brinna

But we don’t need a bloody phone case. Do we?

Although there’s plenty of humor on offer the action scenes leave a little to be desired as too the acting (which is usually upbeat and over the top). However, it’s often hard to tell if this is intentional or not as the film doesn’t take itself all too seriously, this factor, obviously the love or hate element, adds to its charm and serves to divide the true B movie fans from the casual picked-this-up-hoping-for-a-good-in -the-Hollywood-Blockbuster-vein-movie viewer.

vinnie jones fruit cobbler

A fruit cobbler you say? I am intrigued. Do tell.

As the movie nears its mid-point Grady, Will Kemp, starts to experience strange foreign sensations and soon finds his ‘special powers’ waning. “The world’s a big, sharp, shitty place” is a quote that fits and about says it all. How will Grady cope, will he get his “powers” back? How does the story progress, how does Vinnie Jones (who also stars) fair as a gangster? And just what is a Cobbler other than …”one of those fruity things”? These aren’t the only questions which require answering. And although the movie is undeniably predictable and refrains from providing that which most comedic lower-budget movies do (copious amounts of blood, boobs aplenty and brawn) it provides a great deal more to enjoy.

The often-quirky soundtrack is varied ranging from too grandiose for its own good (much like an over produced TV special) to rock and even spats of Southern funk befitting a raunchy “all-holes” access adult movie much like the type seen on late night cable networks complete with a story line (but enough about that lest I get distracted).

Doug Jones Pale Man

I can’t seem to locate my eyes. Have you seen them?

Doug Jones (Hell Boy 2, Pan’s Labyrinth) makes an appearance as, Vick, a character draped in culture, class and a diabolical penchant for inflicting pain upon others (but he tends to waffle on a bit much like the villains in the oldie time Batman series. Of the standout scenes on offer his is one which brings the movie full circle but with the twist that Grady isn’t in as high spirits as he was when first introduced in much the same manner, tied down and ready to be pummeled like a rack of lamb. However, I’ll refrain from ruining the viewing experience suffice it to say there’s a few twists and turns and enough comedy to keep the package thoroughly entertaining from start to finish especially if, like myself, hooky, cheesy and B movies in their entirety play a larger part of your viewing habits than Hollywood blockbusters do.

So…is this a good deal for a buck? You bet your ass! I’d eagerly recommend it even if I had to pay three!

Cult