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Showing posts from February 24, 2013

Review: Wake of Death

Jean-Claude Van Damme (in a quite forceful performance) plays a former low-level underworld figure whose social worker wife (Lisa King) brings home a little Chinese refugee girl. Poor wifey is murdered by goons employed by the girl’s estranged mobster father Simon Yam. Van Damme (whose character also has a young son of his own) decides that revenge is a dish best served bloody and violent, or at least bloody violent! Danny Keogh plays a crooked cop who informs Yam of his daughter’s whereabouts.


A serious, grim-faced Jean-Claude Van Damme continued in his attempt to do generally good acting work in films of reasonable-to-good quality with this film. Released in 2004 this Philippe Martinez (taking over from HK filmmaker Ringo Lam who apparently left the project early on) blend of Chinese Triad flick and Bronson-esque revenge picture might be a tad incoherent (If anyone has any idea just who Van Damme’s cronies were, and exactly what he didfor them back in the day…), but Van Damme gives …

Review: The Expendables 2

As was the case last time, Sly Stallone is Barney Ross, leader of the title band of mercenaries which include right-hand man Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), possibly insane Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), explosives expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and gun nut Hale Caesar (Terry Crews). They’ve also picked up some new blood in Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), perhaps due to Jet Li’s Yin Yang literally parachuting out of the film in under twenty minutes. Bruce Willis returns as the mysterious Mr. Church to give the gang their next mission. It’s an apparently simple task, but it’s one that results in them being a member short. This provides them, and Ross in particular with a thirst for revenge to take down the aptly named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Villain is a merciless fellow looking for untapped weapons-grade plutonium somewhere in the former Soviet Union, with martial arts star Scott Adkins playing his right-hand man, whose stoic stare makes it perfectly obvious he’ll be seeing Statha…

Review: Hugo

Set in Paris in the 1930s, the title character (played by Asa Butterfield) is a young boy who lives in hiding in and around a Parisian train station. His father (Jude Law) and drunk uncle (Ray Winstone) are both dead, with the latter having been in charge of the giant clock in the station. Now Hugo sees it as his responsibility, as well as trying to repair the Automaton, one of the only possessions his late his father left behind. Hugo’s life changes when he is caught stealing some spare parts from Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), a toymaker who owns a store inside the large station. The rather grumpy Georges is terse with the boy and also confiscates his notebook, a cherished possession his father left behind, containing his drawings/designs of the Automaton. Hugo makes a connection with Georges’ beret-sporting young niece (Chloe Grace Moritz), and in searching for Hugo’s notebook, they make some startling discoveries about the old shopkeeper. He may in fact be the one and only Georges Mé…

Review: Monster’s Ball

With a title derived from the term used for a condemned prisoner’s final night before execution, this heavy drama stars Billy Bob Thornton as a prison worker in the South in charge of carrying out executions. Joining him is his sensitive son Heath Ledger, who may not have the stomach for the job, as Thornton warns him of getting too friendly with soon-to-be executed murderer Sean ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ Combs. Thornton’s father (Peter Boyle) is a retired prison officer himself, now basically an invalid. He’s also a vile, unrepentant racist, and has clearly influenced his son with his views to an extent. Meanwhile, Combs’ wife Halle Berry prepares for the inevitable, whilst also scolding her obese son (Coronji Calhoun) for sneaking sugary snacks. After the execution is over, Thornton himself goes through a traumatic sense of personal loss, and when he and Berry happen upon one another one day, a seemingly impossible (or at least implausible) bond starts to be formed between these two d…

The 20 Most Disappointing Films of All-Time

20. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest- The first film was such a disarmingly cheeky, oddball surprise and a rollickingadventure that you couldn't even really chastise cast and crew for making a film based on a Disneyland ride. It was jolly good fun and Johnny Depp gave a totally original, drunkenly charming, and completely memorable performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, as well as well-cast roles for Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush. I can see why a sequel was made (and two more followed after this), in theory. Unfortunately, the result was a bloated and cynical retread of the original, with absolutely zero impact. The charm is entirely gone, with Johnny Depp's repeat schtick rather boring, second time around, and scenes that just drag on and on with no interest or excitement. The first hour or so is especially tedious as we are forced to catch up with the old gang again before getting onto this film's plot. That's just way too long. Bill N…