Archive for the ‘martial arts’ Category

Scorching the Retinas – Another Jackie Chan film

kung fu cinema

 

Well, howdy. B here again. It’s been a minute (actually a whole bunch longer but that seems to be a popular expression in these parts). One might notice that my additions have been sporadic as of late. My apologies, I’ve been wondering and have found the neighborhood to be bursting with delicious pets. Honestly this is an activity I’d never thought I’d partake in but after an adventurous Bison (a dog not the cantankerous horned animal similar to the buffalo native to the plains) decided to relieve him/herself against my temporary residences front entryway  (leaving a horrendous stank in the process) I found that I couldn’t resist.

bison dog

now imagine this cute lil’ bugga’ working its way down the gullet

Naturally, it wasn’t as if I jumped in full board. Nope. It was gradual. Initially a transfixing glare, which then transformed into a low growl. This didn’t amount too much to be honest. The poor mutt didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. And his/her resulting downfall was a result of the poor bastards overriding curiosity. I must smell good, though I doubt it, I most definitely don’t have much else going for me other than my questionable appearance; that of a malformed gargoyle fashioned from patchwork flesh rather than stone. Regardless, its hypnotic state climaxed in my jaw sliding its way around its furry little torso. A yelp, a smidgen of BBQ sauce later, a slice of tomato, a little lettuce, a spot of bread (Cult is spoilt. I believe his wife would prefer him plump) and my appetite was quenched if only until another quadruped found its way betwix my mandible.

Too much information? Probably. But I felt the most recent addition to my penchant list was deserved of sharing. Apparently, millions of Eastern denizens aren’t wrong, but keep the floss equipment handy, that fur is a bitch!

Now, where was I?

jackie chan film collection

Ah, yes. Cult has been busy lately, his brats have been in town and between what he deems his ‘pirate creating activities’ (his job, it’s all rather enigmatic unless you know him and what he chooses to do to pay those pesky bills) and family duties his digits haven’t touched the keyboard in appreciation of that which would normally grace his senses on a normal weeks basis. Poor bugga’. However, during this time I did spy him watch a few movies with his offspring whilst gorging on an astonishing amount of fizzy beverages and sugary delectables.

I’ve provided relevant details, below, for one of the films, for those into such things (details and wot not). And, lucky you, I’ve decided to write a little something about it.

Kung-Fu Yoga (2017)
China

kung fu yoga

Written and Directed by Stanley Tong
Runtime – 107 minutes
Taihe Entertainment
Shiner Pictures

Jackie Chan is the star here, though as always unselfishly shares the spotlight, and for those who think he’s lost any of his former flair, speed, ability and flexibility you are sorely mistaken. Obviously, this isn’t as outlandish as either entry in the “Armor of God” (or for that matter “Project A”) series though it does run amok with stunts, limb flailing and Indiana Jones homage elements. From what I could make out Jackie is a historian (he even uses his real name) and with the help of a few friends (some he hasn’t spoken to in a while) he embarks upon a quest to unearth an Indian treasure site thought to be the stuff of legends. Along the way he encounters greed, a plethora of foes with supposed family ties to the treasure in question and enough tomfoolery to confuse a clown.

kung fu yoga gif 2.gif

The story is easy enough to follow and showcases a slew of extravagant locations whilst including history regarding (centuries) past relationships between China and India. The film’s opening is not what one might expect, bathed in CGI brilliance this is the stuff of console games. Albeit online affairs of the RPG type including, but in no way limited to, armored elephants, heroes, a landscape bursting in conflict and dizzying acrobatic agility. (What does the X do again? And what happens when I hit X,Y and the triangle button in rapid succession?)

(The films opening CGI scene courtesy of Kurnia HD)

The beginning serves as an introduction to the treasure itself but also successfully drags the viewer in with its vivid, larger than life, nature and stark visuals. I’m left wondering whether those responsible went this route due to possible PETA complaint (resulting from the obvious) or the fact that elephants of this size are hard to train, let alone find. I would imagine most are squirreled away someplace taking selfies, auditioning for the live action adaption of Peter Jackson’s classic “Meet the Feebles”, skateboarding or taking part in something else equally as outlandish/improbable.

kung fu yoga gif

Kung-Fu Yoga itself is nothing but utterly watchable, the action is fast and furious though strays from the type of brutality exemplified in “The Raid” and “The Night Comes for Us” making it a feature the whole family can enjoy, if they be so inclined. The humor element works well both in dialogue and in the action scenes. Obviously, all one has to do is look at the DVD’s cover artwork (featuring Jackie and a Lion in an SUV) to see that it comfortably fits the Jackie Chan cinematic output mold (although he has made more than his fair share of dramas) and the film is sufficient to make most but the truly jaded and insufferable smirk during its duration.

The love interest element is playful rather than intense keeping this on a ‘family film’ platform. Seriously what’s more annoying than watching a film with a child only to have them ask “(include parental suffix here) why’s that guy putting his piss stick in her mouth?”

kung fu yoga lion

Several scenes warrant mentioning but based on the fact that I’m a lazy bastid’ I will only mention that which graces the films artwork. There’s a large cat, for some reason it’s in the back of an SUV (this scene was shot in Saudi Arabia if that’s reason enough) which Jackie is using to chase another who has recently stolen that which is the focal point of this film’s narrative. As one might imagine the cat gets frustrated and Jackie as well as trying to navigate the busy streets (of whenever this was filmed. Dubai?) he has to contend with the animal’s discontent and the fact that he/she could at any moment cleave him in twain. It’s an amusing scene and shows Jackie in top form without him once resorting to kicks, blocks or somersaults.

(courtesy of Hollywood dubbed movies)

Other animal moments include an escape from a pack of caged hungry hyenas (PETA might have a problem with this one, although I doubt the kicking animal antics were real). Another scene (which bears mentioning) is the films finale. Sans ruining the climax I’ll note a similarity to a recent “Mr. Bean” film in which the same sort of thing transpired, although in another style completely. It doesn’t ruin the film, as at this point you could hit stop and still ‘get the point’. And it successfully manages to tie the film into both Chinese and Indian cultures though is a scene (which tends to drag) one will either want to watch in its entirety or not.

(I’ve even included a trailer courtesy of UMP Movie Guide)

There you have it, I’ve managed to gloss over one of the most popular, highest grossing, Jackie Chan films in recent years whilst adding my own flair, vulgarity, silliness and more than a fair share of gifs and YouTube clips to whet the senses. And you probably didn’t learn a single thing, I didn’t mention any of the other actors, although I probably should have, the soundtrack and/or numerous other things Cult would have. I had fun, that’s how I roll. But now I have to be gone. I can smell my next meal and before I even start to think about munching upon it I need to find the flossers. That fur is a bitch, but I believe I’ve mentioned that before.

-B

Scorching the Retinas; Crimson Splattered Martial Arts

kung fu cinema

The Night Comes for Us

Every once in a while, a movie comes along which a great many people talk about. A movie which garners quite the buzz that it’s hard not to be intrigued. This is the case here. When I hear the words martial arts, blood, violent and comparisons to Raid 2 my synapses start firing. But is it warranted? Does this have what it takes to keep one’s interest? Is it worthy of all the accumulated hype? I’ll cut this short right here, spoil the review and say yes, yes, yes and YES!

(trailer courtesy of Trailer City)

The Night Comes for Us (2018)
Indonesia
Director/Writer – Timo Tjahjanto
XYZ Films
Screenplay Infinite Films
Runtime – 121 minutes

the night comes for us

 

I’m not going to fib and say that I’m an expert on the genre. Sure, I’ve seen a myriad of films within it and I can rattle off a few titles which I deem “must watch” and even a few others I consider especially “blood thirsty”. I could even name a couple which I personally deem classics and (this is exciting) then even at a stretch, this is pushing the limits, a few actors whose output (probably not all, mind you) is mandatory viewing. Naturally, this is just my opinion, I’m no expert. I just know what I like and I believe I know the difference between a good and not so good film. Back to the film in question. The Night Comes for Us boasts a great deal going for it. The pace is frenzied and relentless, the acting is spot on and the story line is easy to follow. That’s a good start, right? But it gets better. The on-screen action pulls no punches (welcome to ‘pun city’ folks) and is unflinching in both its depiction of violence and the damage given and taken by all combatants involved. More often than not a gang mentality is front and center. One on one only occasionally takes center stage here. Think a video game within which you have to fight your way through hordes to make your way to the big boss. In a nutshell that’s what also transpires here albeit showcasing a higher level of gratuitous bloodshed, an upped ante of limb snapping, lacerations galore, gouging’s aplenty and a requisite soundtrack to accompany making the tableau that much more effective to the point where one might squirm or jump witnessing such well-executed brutality.

(The Butcher fight scene courtesy of oPix nurizal)

Huge props to the stunt people. The feats herein are plentiful, too numerous to keep tabs upon, excellently produced and a wonder to set eyes on.

ouch my fingers

Ouch, my fingers!

There’s a myriad of scenes I wish to mention, I know I should but fear I would run out of space, leaving my prancing digits in need of ice.

 

Throughout the film there is undeniable cinematic wizardry on display. The fight scenes are ungodly and the fighter’s masters of their craft. Several are recognizable, depending on of course your level of submergement within the genre. Iko Uwais, who plays Arian, (The Raid, The Raid 2, Stuber, Beyond Skyline) stands out and is mired in indecision; does he help his friends, or does he ‘bend at the knee’ to the Triads wishes and stay alive and financially thrive (it’s quite the quandary). Joe Taslim, Ito, is another whose role is prominent (his face might stand out on account of his roles in The Raid, Star Trek Beyond and The Fast and Furious 6). The two are old friends but within the time they’ve been separated a great deal has changed resulting in boiling resentment and a grudge which might only be resolved through combat (or so they believe) making for a crimson splattered fight scene which will resonate with fans and be remembered, and remarked upon, for some time to come.

crazy white man bobby

Another who stands out is ‘White Man Bobby’, played by Zach Lee, on account of his crazed demeanor. Not to mention that his false foot falls off in an early scene which made me laugh even though I knew it wasn’t appropriate and wasn’t intended to add dark humor to the film itself.

girl fight

The film isn’t without surprises however. The “fairer” (it’s in quotation marks, please don’t comment with vitriol) sex also manage to widen the eyes and heighten the senses within scenes of high velocity combat one might not predict based on that which they might have already seen within the genre. I won’t ruin it suffice it to say that the characters here are on much the same pedestal as the ‘Hammer girl’ in The Raid 2 though get significantly more screen time in which to bludgeon, slash, shot and stab their way through various foes.

hammer girl

Excuse me Sir but you appear to have a little something,. Here, let me help.

A testament to human endurance and the highest caliber of fight choreography this delivers to sate both discerning and casual fans. Even a great many, I will state without reservation, who rarely visit the genre. The effects, much like the fighting, are also outstanding. There isn’t merely crimson on offer here there’s trauma resulting from chopping, dicing, stabbing, gunshots and high velocity flesh and blunt instrument contact. Truthfully this trumps many a film I’ve seen in the horror arena in terms of gore and brutality and the sheer amount shown in unflinching detail. Staying on topic TNCfU (obviously an abr.) ironically sports occasional passages of synth which bring to mind European cult affairs in which on screen, over the top, carnage is a staple ingredient but let us not forget; “You can’t kill what’s already dead.”

confused zombie

Confused zombie says “Huh”

 

A quote towards the end of the film, in a show stopping finale, that’s been utilized ad nauseum in a certain genre as to be beaten to death as much as, as, the genre in question itself (to not put so fine a point on it.)

 

Four words will help to summarize the storyline (without me running into diatribe lengths); Triads, Honor, Respect and Friendship. And that’s about all one needs to know. Don’t let assumptions get in the way of your enjoyment here; this overflows with bone crunching action, plenty of it and an unrelenting flow of crimson and thus will satisfy both fight fans and gorehounds alike. I believe this likely won’t be rivaled any time soon and I for one can’t think of anything which comes even remotely close.

Set this before your peepers, I’ve kept this brief as not to spoil the enjoyment, you can thank me later. Did I mention this was first adapted into a graphic novel, and to quote wikipedia “Tjahjanto confirmed he was working with Indonesian artist hub Glitch Network to adapt his original screenplay into comic form”. I, for one, can’t wait.

the-night-comes-for-us

Comments, thoughts, concerns, suggestions? (Yes I know I’ve added more than the normal amount of gifs in this one, and even a few nods to metal and horror, you’re welcome) Feel free to drop me a line. Until then, your slave to the extreme (in audio and visual form),

Cult

 

Scorching the Retinas – A were-Dinosaur Film? Now I’ve seen it all!

The Velocipastor (2018)

The Velocipastor

USA/China
Director – Brendan Steere
Writer – Brendan Steere
Runtime – 75 minutes
Cyfuno Ventures, Hollow Tree Films, Laika Come Home.
Wild Eye Releasing

After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas.  (synopsis courtesy of the films writer and director; Brendan Steere)

When faced with a film with such a title and story line (above) how could I not resist a view, and the temptation to lay down a few words, seriously. To my knowledge the same premise hasn’t been tackled before. Sure, monsters of all varieties, shapes, size, gender (and political leaning) have been utilized in all manner of films before now. Unless you count the short film from 2011, by the same director, which started it all.

VelociPastor-short-film-2011-Brendan-Steere-5

The title scene from the ‘original’ short.

But none to my understanding include an individual, in this case lets spice things up by calling him a Pastor (which makes one only wonder where ‘the earth was created only a few thousand years ago’ belief/mythos comes in), who has the ability to transform into a Prehistoric killing machine, add to that ninjas and words of advice from a hooker (sex trade worker, street walker, purveyor of pleasures at a cost who knows what they’d like to be known as in this delicate time and age) and we have a film which I for one can’t ignore, much like a doughnut on a plate with a flashing neon sign which reads “free. Eat me. I’m yours!” Without further ado…

(trailer courtesy of JoBlo Movie Trailers)

The Velocipastor opens with a Grindhouse aura with a bold legend across the screen, which reads, “Rated X” by an all Christian jury is this indication of how the film will play out? It certainly has a sense of undeniable humor even this early on. The hilarity and a feel for how the film might roll out continues early on, in a scene in which the pastor, Father Doug, waves hi to his parents only to scream in terror as the car they’re next to explodes into flame. Although the image on screen is merely that of a legend “VFX: Car on Fire”. At this point I can well imagine those sans a love for B/zero to-no budget movies to have dispersed already (would the title alone not give an early indication of where the film might lead and how it might play out?) leaving those with the addiction to such glued to their seats.

Questioning his faith due to the abrupt and untimely demise of his parents Doug, played by Greg Cohan, decides a spot of travelling is in order. But he’s confused as to where to go. Father Stewart is on hand thankfully to offer a few words of advice “Go to where you think God will not follow  (and if he’s there, he’s within you)”

velocipastor driving

A rocking soundtrack finds our Pastor on the road, a myriad of questions and his faith battling for supremacy within his jumbled thoughts.

Doug finds himself in the forests of China, though I doubt his car took him all the way there. After an epiphany that China is in fact East Doug is perturbed to find a lady roll into his view. “Are you hurt/” he asks looking at an arrow protruding from her chest (this is honestly how the film plays out and I’m loving every minute of it) she offers him something and amidst the obvious language barriers he discovers he’s being watched and followed. The artifact in his hand cuts him in his haste to get away. In the next scene he awakens to discover his China trip is through, the following dialogue is plump full of unintentional hilarity and that he’s hungry.

Cut to a street view in which Doug runs in search of something. Meanwhile, a street walker encounters her pimp, Frank ‘Mermaid’ (cus he’s “swimming in bitches”) and discovers his maniacal laugh is worse than his bite and the park is where the money’s at. But there’s also something else lurking in the park. As luck would have it however a rubber suited large toothed reptile comes to the rescue and with this in mind it comes as no surprise that this film relies more on its glaring tongue in cheek nature than its FX departments professionalism and budget. Mannequin heads, crimson syrup and all. Although a synth addition certainly adds to Grindhouse homage and the films somewhat faux tension levels.

VelociPastor the lovers

When they aren’t busy necking Doug and carol enjoy camping and taking down Ninja crime syndicates

In the following scene a slew of close ups and rushed zooms adds to the perceived drama emphasizing the characters facial expressions and reaction to that which seems impractical (to say the least). Confusion, again) unintentional hilarity and blunt dialogue is a huge plus in a scene where Doug realizes he can transform into something his faith tells him never existed. But, more importantly, can he get over receiving advice from a person whom he shouldn’t be associated with?

“Wait…you’re a hooker.”

“And a pre-med at law but people aren’t too surprised at that one!”

After discussing his predicament Doug is still in two minds about his next steps until, that is, Frankie (fuckn’) Mermaid, portrayed brilliantly by Fernando Pachero De Castro, enters his confessional booth.

Various camera shenanigans, close ups in rapid succession, a focus on a gaping wound and incessant screaming overlaid by synth adds to the film’s grindhouse homage vibe and the audience is either loving it or hating it at this point.

Following this encounter a plan is hatched and the groundwork is laid with commandments to follow, which still need to be hammered out if truth be told.

“I don’t know much about God.”

“I don’t know much about Dinosaurs…”

And it appears there’s a new superhero/vigilante hitting the crime-ridden streets.

velocipastor carnage

A budding relationship indeed!

A lengthy montage scene, set to a poppy rock soundtrack, shows the pair building on a budding relationship as well Doug training for his new role as one who cleans up the streets with his claws, tail and hunger. A great touch perhaps a little overbearing but this only add to the film’s awkward nature and lovability.

Doug still keeping with his profession continues to preach and take confessional, in a standout scene he’s caught unawares by Father Stewart (who has concerns about his recent behavior) resulting in him hiding books on dinosaurs like an adolescent caught with porn.

Doug decides to confess. Dramatic music adds to his spill-all. Father Stewart is at odds with what to do, he wants an exorcism and an end to Doug’s ‘hallucinations’ has he been hitting the Bible a little too hard late at night it makes one wonder?

velocipastor hiding dinosaur books

If only it were porn.

Father Stewart, Daniel Steere (a relation to the films creator?), decides the Diacese is taking too long so he decides to take matters into his own hands in taking his companion to an unauthorized expert on the same subject. An inclusion of a backstory (of how the two met) adds considerably more humor, more specifically of the darker variety, to the film, weight to his character and depth to the story (a standout scene includes but us not limited to; a bucket full of guts, a VC trip mine, a visit from a loved one and a thousand yard stare).

Have I mentioned the city’s crime element and ninjas yet? My bad, but seriously this should come as no great surprise! A ninja with an Australian accent who takes his sweet time formulating a game plan of attack, within a small collective of the same (sans the accents) who just so happen to be patrolling the park, adds to the film’s unpredictability and fun and further on-screen antics from the rubber suited one.

velocipastor ninjas vs dinosaurs

Hero, menace or merely a large reptile who poops in the woods?

Further split screen and camera effects (think The Brady Bunch) add an elevated art approach level to the proceedings where it might not have been assumed before. This whole scene could be perceived as being the flashing thoughts being processed within Doug mind and in short conveniently (for those not paying attention) recaps the entire film, up until this point, in only a few seconds. In short, Doug is in love and is about to embark upon enlightenment and a trip to pleasures of the flesh-ville against the teachings of his faith and profession.

Further scenes including the same crime element. and the inclusion of Father Stewart, explain the tenuous link between street drugs, help groups, the Church and Global dominance as if this needs explaining any further, isn’t this already covered extensively in The Lion King?

velocipastor transforms

Much like a similar scene from An American Werewolf in London sans a budget

The Films final showdown depicts surprising fighting prowess (my Kung Fu is better than yours) an emotional Ninja collective and a full torso transformation under, wait for it, complete control, as well more of the same diabolical, though still highly enjoyable, effects. It also brings about the history behind the mysterious Dragon Warrior mythos in case one might be wondering about the history of the artifact.

Velocipastor surprising fighting skills

Wait is that Michael Davidoff, is this another American Ninja entry? nah.

Well, this is a great deal to take in but I’m glad to report that Velocipastor is an especially easy to follow feature. The humor is obviously front and center. I honestly don’t think the same premise could be pulled off given a serious light to work under, and it works (in much the same way Kung Fury does, if you have yet to see this do so at your earliest convenience) leaning heavily on quirkiness, awkward situations and naturally the, elephant in the room, odd ball and bizarre elements, even send ups of several other genres which are all famous for using little to no budgets.

Doug and Carol (played convincingly by Alyssa Kempinski), the love interest who has crippling student debt, steal the film and their interactions and on-screen chemistry are priceless. However, for me it’s the dialogue which propels the film to even greater heights the quirkiness, the blunt nature and dry comedic pacing which has me chortling like one crazed. Naturally this isn’t for everybody, but for those who enjoy the sillier side of the B movie spectrum, the occasional Troma affair and films which can laugh at even themselves whilst holding onto the slimmest of story lines this is a feature which deserves a portion of your time. I would even go so far as to say that this would make a great triple billing alongside the BC Butcher and Kung Fury.

Your slave to cinema which often runs the gamut of unfathomably bizarre

Cult

For those burning with curiosity, like myself, I’ve thought it wise to include a trailer to the original short film (courtesy of the mind behind the prehistoric madness; Brendan Steere) Enjoy.

kung fu cinema

Sword of the Assassin (Aka Blood Letter) 2012

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2187149/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Vietnam

Director – Victor Vu
Runtime – 100 minutes

Shenanigans in the royal court, revenge, love, a web of betrayal, wire work, exquisite scenery and an epic soundtrack that just won’t let up. This could only mean one thing, well several but lets’ rule out the obvious and concentrate instead on a martial arts epic from Vietnam.

sword of the Assassin

In short, the synopsis is as follows; A lone survivor of a massacre trained in martial arts (in a monastery far up in the picturesque mountains) joins with a sister team for much the same cause, revenge, vengeance, call it what you will. The Queens, Thai Hau, “has gone apeshit” (to quote a line from a favorite movie of mine) and believes everyone is a rebel conspiring to usurp her from her ill-begotten throne and sends assassin teams wily-nily into the surrounding countryside to quell threats before they’ve even oftentimes begun.

(trailer courtesy of Epic Pictures Group)

Apparently, a transcription of sorts, a ‘blood letter’ written by one of the Kings favorite eunuchs, exists which would light a fire under the Royal court. Telling of concubine visits and other secrecies pertaining to the rightful heir (of the throne). Its possession holds great power for whoever grasp it happens to fall into. But it it’s existence merely a hoax to place confidence in those who wish to challenge the Queens seat of power?

here hold my sword

Do you mind awfully if I look at you longingly whilst I instruct you in the ways of holding a sword?

For want of dropping spoilers like breadcrumbs in a Brothers Grimm Fairy tale I’ll refrain from a scene by scene narrative. What must be said however is that S.o.t.A. (an abbreviation I must use to save wear and tear on my fragile digits) impresses right from its opening scene. A display of special effects features a monasteries ornate guardian of sorts a Chinese dog (whose title I can’t remember or bother to do the research upon at this time) break from its stand to rear up and bark its discontent at the resident monk.  The monk, obviously surprised, manages to bind a spell on the over-sized pooch only to find that the nearby lake has deposited a little something upon his doorstep. Fast forward twelve years, the ‘surprise’ has developed into a flexible lad able to project a power he cannot control from his fingertips and devastating blows from pretty much everywhere else. And the story unfolds (and I’ve started doing what I promised I would not) a past narrative, his origins, overflowing with beheadings, pointed fingers and a hierarchy the viewer can’t help but find instant disagreement with.

an unlikely herpo

Hmmm…

The film flows form this moment on at an incredible rate offering dynamic energy, high kicking antics, weapon utilizing eye widening action and a myriad of other elements which combine to place Vietnam on the list of places one needs to add to the list of locations which make a martial arts epic worthy of placing before the eyes.

Only partway through and I’m quite literally blown away. Disregarding the fact that I picked this movie up at a price which is roughly the same as that of a candy bar (Snickers, anyone?) this still astonishes. The opening credits are a fantastic indication of what the movie offers, a POV shot of the picturesque mountains and location surrounding a secluded monastery all set against a grandiose score, an uplifting orchestration which brings to mind epic platform RPG affairs.

aka blood letter

The cast ensemble (not a Slayer track, but close)

The camera work and direction are nothing to scoff at either. Character movements and the storyline are fluid and the dialogue makes sense, even if like me you struggle with subtitles in instances, and the style has undeniably more in relation with a Shaw Brothers production than a modern day effort.

No expense is spared in regards to lavish production values in scenes depicting the Royal court in direct contrast to that of the sets used to depict the daily lives of normal, everyday, folk. And the interaction between the two is as one might expect. However, our hero, Nguyen Vu, soon finds a friend of similar ilk following his intervening in an assassination attempt. Much to his chagrin the two hit it off and are seen later sharing a tray of scones with butter and a stunning array of jams (that’s a lie, Sake and dumplings is closer to the truth).  Details emerge and apparently the two have more than a few things in common. Enter intrigue.

Hi I'm intrigue

HI. Someone asked for Intrigue! Well here it is!

Cut to the throne room and the introduction of another of the film’s villains. Complete with a face splitting scar and a smirk (one only wants to wipe clean with a baseball bat) he makes quite the imposing figure a statement made more concrete by the fact that he’s a wizard with his wrist blades (my Kung-Fu is better than yours!) Therefore, it should come as no surprise that his later appearances are rife with flowing crimson, lacerated torsos and spats of diabolical laughter (but thankfully not the petting or purring of a white lap cat).

There are many elements which make ‘Blood Letter ‘(I can use an aka also) appealing. Undeniable is the care used to produce its fight sequences (Thank the Dark Lord), the wire work is invisible, the gymnastic ability is eye opening and the epic values make the film more than praise worthy. But what should come as a surprise is that it also utilizes dream sequences to great effect. The director’s ability to be able to stitch the two ‘realities’ together with them still making a modicum of sense is stunning. Fantasy is also an element which is front and center. Mystical powers lurk in the background, coming to the fore only with training and emotion, never used to the point of making this a comic book affair. Often the films scenery looks foreign, far from that we’re used to, bringing a certain beauty in a land rife with danger, tragedy and oppression.

the immortal movie Vietnam

Alongside the score, a brilliant orchestration addition which only adds to the viewing experience, the films scenery, breathtaking doesn’t even come close, character portrayals, interactions and personalities and fast paced story ‘Sword of the Assassin’ is a film which propels its creative team and director to the realms of people to keep tabs on in the very near future. The Immortal (2018) is certainly a film I will traipse through relevant websites to find (but only if it comes complete with SUBS)

I’ve tried to keep this short, and to the point (thanks for your patience) fingers crossed I’ve enchanted you to the point where you’d wish to give this a peek, it certainly made an impression on me. What started as a foray into ‘relaxationville’, a distraction, transpired into a scribbling event which I honestly never thought would actually happen. Sometimes celluloid surprises you, and this was one of those times.

 

Cult

head_explosion
When the wife’s away…
the movies will play.
 Somehow I’ve found myself home alone, with a few days free of work and responsibilities. What better way to spend my time than to catch up on my consumption of celluloid. Seriously I have towering DVD stacks everywhere and screeners collectively screaming for my attention.
Here’s to cramming my eyeballs full of moving images and my face full of unhealthy edibles.
(Note; To keep things interesting I’ve drenched my retinas into cinema plucked from many a genre.)
Onwards…
Day One
gunslingers revenge

The DVD cover

Gunslingers Revenge (1998)
Director – Giovanni Veronesi
Writer – Vincenzo Pardini (based on his novel) adapted by Giovanni Veronesi and Leonardo Pieraccioni
Runtime – 87 minutes
 
Interesting dynamic and a charming narrative by way of a seven year old. Filled with intriguing characters and beautiful scenery the story that covers what most Westerns haven’t.
Reminiscent of foreign cult affairs on account of characters exchanging dialogue where the lips don’t seem to match the words coming out.
The soundtrack lends the feature somewhat of a Disney family-oriented air though the film still has undeniable qualities and elements leaning towards at times the slightly eccentric/odd.
Did I mention David Bowie and Harvey Kietel are among the actors? And that there’s very little blood.
Consider this a pallet cleanser, of sorts.
6.5
 
the eyes of my mother

The DVD cover

The Eyes of my Mother (2016)
Director/Writer – Nicholas Pesce
Runtime – 76 minutes
 
Black and white and often subtitled.
Chilling, stylistic and dark. 
Minimalistic in its approach but powerful and cleverly constructed with a myriad of plot intricacies (nods to an early work by D’Amato) both horrific and shocking to widen the viewers eyes and get the mind reeling. One scene in particular is extremely difficult to watch especially for parents of an infant.
The soundtrack is also barely apparent buy when it makes an appearance it lends a remarkable texture and ominous vibe.
Hardly for everyone, this is a must for those yearning for celluloid dripping in classic values and an undeniable menacing and grotesque tone.
If you liked Audition and Grotesque this is a must watch.
8.5
animal world

Alternate versions of the poster art

Animal World (2018)
Director – Yan Han
Writer – Yan Han based on the comic by Nobuyuki Fukumoto
Runtime – 130 minutes
 
Barely five minutes in and my jaw has hit the floor. Thus far this is visually stunning and bears the surreal nature of a video game. Psychosis and hallucinations don’t mix well in the everyday world that much is for certain, even this far in.
The movie soon transforms to show the pitfalls of debt and some of the many ways a diabolical bank might be able to recoup their losses, it also boasts a tech puzzle type atmosphere complete with high stakes, drama, karma, retribution and camaraderie.
Clowns, rock paper and scissors and debt who would’ve thought these would be the ideal ingredients for a film with such transfixing properties. It’s as though the most oddball elements were plucked from a randomizer machine then tossed together for bragging rights upon completion of a finished product.
Fans of The Prestige and Can You See Me Now will eat this up its delightfully different, cavernous and teases a sequel that can’t come soon enough.
8.5
Revenge for Jolly (Copy)

The DVD art

Revenge for Jolly (2012)
Director – Chad Harbold
Writer – Brian Petsos
Runtime – 81 minutes
 
Here’s something a little different; a vengeance movie centered around the murder of Jolly, a dog. Hilarious dialogue and hilarity abounds as two friends, and too many beers to count, set out on a small town quest to find those responsible. Awkwardness and apathy reign supreme within a slow pace that remains oddly intriguing throughout.
I laughed hard at the inept Italian law firm scene and the name Bobby being referred to as Booby, on purpose, for dramatic affect. The “…you just can’t throw ranch” meltdown is priceless. A nod to Reservoir Dogs in unmistakable.
Recommended for fans of off-beat (black) comedy with observational elements in a similar vein to Observe, Report and in times Boondock Saints but with tendencies that lean more towards the macabre.
8
the minds eye

Promo art

The Minds Eye (2015)
Director/Writer – Joe Begos
Runtime – 87 minutes
 
Psychokinesis hasn’t been tackled in too many films, although Firestarter, Carrie and Scanners come immediately to mind. The Minds Eye takes on the prospect and adds Cronenberg esque qualities and synth as a huge part of the soundtrack the quality of which would put a smile on Carpenters face. 
The movie rolls at a quick pace and gives off an initial X-men vibe which soon twists into something else altogether.
Super powers, maniacal aspirations and some serious cat and mouse antics.
Excellent effects add to the fun alongside direction, writing that acting chops that harken back to the heyday of 80’s horror much in a similar style to the exceptional caliber of work that the Astron 6 team continue to produce. 
I highly recommended giving this a peek, it certainly escaped my radar but now that I’ve let it invade my senses I’ll continue to lay praise upon it.
9
The Following Day
Duel
Duel (2016)
Director – Kieran Darcy-Smith
Writer – Matt Cook
Runtime – 110 minutes
Well written, atmospheric, excellently composed and seething with an unmistakable ominous tone.
A chilling performance from Woody (Did-you-know-I-was-in-Cheers) Harrelson adds weight to a story that’s part cat-n-mouse, part cult worship and oddly topical given the current political climate we find ourselves in.
A dark, bloody and gritty western with an added element of history and plenty of classic quotes that’s entertaining throughout.
7.5
 
1088full-[rec]-3_-genesis-poster

And what a wedding invite this made

Rec 3 – Genesis (2012)
Director – Paco Plaza
Writer – Paco Plaza, David Gallart, Luiso Berdejo, 
Runtime – 80 minutes
 
The homemade caught on video aspect (at a wedding) lends the film huge relateability as the participants are in an everyday setting, not actors on set. The action starts abruptly, panic seizes the gathering and the viewer is left in a dizzying state by way of the unsteady POV. Although this does change the POV aspect still flickers in and out.
A Rage approach rather than the lumbering “She’s coming to get you Barbara” adds tension and naturally… pace.
Humor arises by way of family idiosyncrasies and relationships (not to mention Sponge John, Bob had obvious copyright issues) as well the religious element that some believe is the cause while others have faith in being saved purely because they are in a place of worship and the undead are heathens, heretics or devils who abide by the teachings of the church.
It rains  which is ironic as it’s supposed to be lucky if it rains on your wedding day.
A scorned bride with a chainsaw, a knight in shining armor, a delightful spin on the zombie mythos, clever writing and camera work and great FX gives this the edge it needs to stand out from an overcrowded genre which, much like those within it, refuses to perish.
Better yet “Fuck my grandfather and his stupid fucking hearing aid” is a quote for the ages, priceless in fact. REC 3’s climax is bloody great! In more ways than one making this a feature I will return to again and again.
8.5
fantasy mission force

The German DVD cover

Fantasy Mission Force aka Dragon Attack (1983)
Director – Yen-Ping Chu (billed as Harry Weng)
Writer – Hsin Wei
Runtime – 85 minutes
An elite team are assembled from across the globe to assist in a tricky hostage situation, apart from that I’m quite honestly lost as the editing herein is far from stupendous (in the truncated version I watched anyway).
Delightfully over the top, slapstick silliness (recalling classic Laural and Hardy and Benny Hill) sporting insane dubbing and choppy nonsensical editing it remains entertaining all the while screaming 80’s Asian cinema.
For a Jackie Chan feature there’s actually very little of him but shit, there’s scenes including traditional Chinese ghosts, Mad Max nods, Shaolin antics, scenes of defined western homage and other assorted tomfoolery to carve a smile on even the most rigid of features.
I’m placing this in the guilty pleasures folder as this film is undeniably a crazy mess, in actuality most of it could double as a Mentos commercial, but I’m lovin’ it nevertheless.
7.5
where the dead go to die

Blu ray art

Where the Dead go to Die (2012)
Writer/Director – Jimmy Screamerclauz
Runtime – 96 minutes
 
Computer animation that leaves a lot to be desired is anything but family friendly. Divided into chapters the feature is centered around a few children all living on the same block. As it progresses it covers a slew of utterly unsavory subjects. An evil dog, not Mr.Pickles, tempts a youth, and the films other youths, to do his diabolical bidding based on quasi-religious principles.
Tainted Milk is a glorious mind fuck complete with fetus ripping, an emasculation, zoo-aphilia antics and hallucinogenic elements complete with nods to the mind controlling power of religion. 
Liquid Memories is Lovecraftian-esque and revolves around capturing lost memories through brain extraction. Other segment include an amputee vets nightmarish PTSD flashbacks and the physical manifestation of a relapse. 
The resulting predicament of injecting ‘memories’ is horrific and spurns a breakdown that’s incomprehensible in its imagining and intensity making for a segment that’s uncomfortable to view and even more difficult to forget.
The Masks That the Monsters Wear is the most vile segment. It tackles the subjects of stillbirth, acceptance and Siamese twins.
The addition of a redneck child porn ring (this in no way glorifies such) makes this difficult to watch, although the veritable kaleidoscope of hellish images make it nearly impossible to turn the eyes away from.
Disturbing doesn’t even come close to describing what this movies images showcase. Recommended only to those whose penchants lay in the most depraved that cinema has to offer. Although this is an animated feature it still boasts significant presence to screw with the psyche – You have been warned!
I won’t be watching this again anytime soon, although it will still remain in my collection albeit moved to the very tippy top of the shelving unit far from prying eyes and curious little hands.
8
 
That’s about it, I’m exhausted, my eyes need a rest.
Cult