Posts Tagged ‘Anna’

Scorching the Retinas; Short, Blunt and “Brootal” Reviews (the first)

kung fu cinema

Because I can’t always find the time to muse, in detail, upon what I watch here’s a shorter, more to the point approach on a trio of films, martial arts related, I recently soaked my senses upon.
Iron Protector (2016)
Director/Writer – Yue Song
Runtime – 90 minutes

Iron Protector movie art

Originally titled “The Bodyguard” the filmmakers decided to change its name, to “Super Bodyguard” (then “Iron Protector for the overseas market) to spare confusion with another released, of the same name, produced in the same year by Samo Hung.

This is, I’m pleased to say, everything the blurbs on its box promise. This is martial arts of the highest order, hyper-violent video game in nature, showcasing plentiful brutal bone snappin’ action and legendary high flying (wire gymnastic) antics. Slathered in humor and humility with a backstory drenched in the evils of corruption versus family bonds (in short, two close brothers separated as their Master, not parents, begins to notice their true nature). This isn’t exactly original but it is undeniably stylish and captivating from start to finish especially for those who prefer their face-kicking action fast, frantic, akin to that of an animated hyper-kinetic affair and sporting a superhuman stamina level.

(trailer courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate)

Highly recommended for fans of early Jackie Chan craziness, The Raid (and the sequel) and The Night Comes for Us.


ANNA film

Anna (2019)
Writer/Director – Luc Besson
Runtime – 119 minutes


With a trailer that plays out like many others (recently; Le Femme Nikita, Columbiana and Hanna) Anna might not turn many heads when it comes to grabbing the initial attention from watching it alone. In fact, it appears much like many of the other films from out of the Luc Besson stable. What makes it slightly different however, is that it includes and combines spy as well Femme Fatale elements.

Strong performances from Luke Evans, Sasha Luss (who convincingly portrays an assassin who’s pulled from every angle until close to breaking), Helen Mirren (a hard ass apathetic boss) and Cillian Murphy lead the cast and the somewhat predictable story which has been rehashed several times before but it’s the brutal action and frenetic eye-widening combat throughout which save the day not to mention that unlike most it’s actually somewhat relateable. A scene in a restaurant is one of the first to show the genius level choreography, it doesn’t play out as one might think (especially the main character) but remains one which the viewer will want to play again and again.

(Trailer courtesy of Film Trailer Zone)

Admittedly, I have favorites from the Besson stable (which include the obvious sci-fi entries) this doesn’t quite reach that elevated level but comes within a hairs breadth, based on the fact that it appears somewhat of a rehash of a story which has been produced many times over with only slight deviations each time. Nevertheless, I recommend it especially for those who enjoyed the newest John Wick entry (“Parabellum”).

Executioners from Shaolin (1976)
Written by – Kuang Ni
Directed by – Chia-Liang Liu
Runtime – 101 minutes

Executioners from Shaolin

Admittedly, whenever I see Dragon Dynasty or Shaw Brothers on a DVD case, I become intrigued. This had both, you can imagine my excitement.

The opening credits are a tad silly; a pair of priests dooking it out against an empty backdrop (save for a red, instead of a green, screen). For some ungodly reason a ‘nut-shot’ doesn’t suffice and only leads the “deliverer” into a world of unimaginable hurt blessed by a soundtrack of broken bones.

A soundtrack slathered in ominous drums and a slight Gothic nature makes for a grandiose audio backdrop for archers, swordplay, assorted amounts of dubbing tomfoolery and more than the expected amount of claret to make an instant impression. A cavalcade of impressive ‘forms’, creature derived styles and over-enthusiastic sound effects add to the non-stop action approach. This is certainly nothing like the silliness I used to enjoy as an irresponsible, impressionable, brat many moons ago, this appears more polished, although it does contain fair amounts of effective humor, albeit juvenile at times, which I can fully appreciate now (especially the juvenile parts!) Surprising bedroom themed shenanigans might turn a few heads and change many a preconceived notion of what the genre offered in decades previous.

(Trailer courtesy of YouTube Movies)

Revenge/to Avenge is the backbone of the story, as is the case with a great many in this genre. Unlike most, however, this adds a little history (of the region and the unrest at the time among the people) and depicts the progress of the main characters, Hong Xiguan, and his family as he trains (also his son, for some reason disguised as a girl throughout the movie) in order to, one day, be good enough to beat he who murdered his teacher. Legendary Lily Li plays Yung-Chun and beats most everyone who even insinuates, because she’s a lady, that her Kung-Fu is inferior.

A slew of standout scenes includes a dinner table Father and Son skirmish, the initial Priest (Pai Mei) confrontation and the inability if Hong to ‘break the knees’ of the bride in the bedroom in order to consummate the marriage and the unintentional destruction of the backyard when boisterous ‘training’ gets out of hand. However, it’s the humor in the final scene which steals the film when inexperience meets the skills and wisdom of a true Master. I won’t ruin the ending, I’ve tried my best to keep spoilers at a minimum, I will mention that the willingness to experiment and veer from the traditional course went a long way towards achieving the ultimate objective.

Annoyingly enough the film climaxes mid fight leaving me wanting more. All in all, though this is a damn sight better than I imagined it would be and is a fantastic jumping on point for anyone interested in exploring the cinematic world of the Brothers Shaw. Highly Recommended.


Please note that this (DVD) copy is a 2003 re-release with a tidied-up print, brighter colors and bolder subs (I can’t read or understand Mandarin, or Cantonese so it helps out a great deal).

Until next time I chose to lay digits upon keyboard in appreciation of celluloid,