Monday, August 31, 2015

Film Review: Ejecta (2014)

Ejecta (Review)
Canada/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It simply doesn't do anything with its 80 minute runtime."

William Cassidy (Julian Richings) lives in seclusion after an extraterrestrial experience 39 years ago. As a solar event looms, William invites Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold), a conspiracy blogger and filmmaker, to his humble abode...

Ejecta frequently jumps from past to present. In the present, William has been captured and restrained in a heavily-guarded government facility. He's interrogated about the previous 12 hours. So, the film constantly jumps back as the past is slowly unraveled. The past boils down to William and Joe stumbling upon an extraterrestrial event — to avoid major spoilers. There really isn't much to say about the plot. In fact, I've already told you everything you need to know. It has some subtleties, but most of the narrative is hollow. The ending was also unsatisfying; it kept dragging on and on, always missing a suitable opportunity to end.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Film Review: Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle (Review)
China/2004
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most entertaining movies you'll ever watch."

In 1930s Shanghai, the Axe Gang reigns supreme; only the poorest neighborhoods are spared by the rampant gangs. One day, two troublemaking impersonators of the Axe Gang stumble into Pig Sty Alley, where their plan snowballs out of control...

Kung Fu Hustle follows the Pig Sty Alley community, the ruthless Axe Gang, and Sing (Stephen Chow). Sing and his pal Bone are losers scamming people into believing they're part of the Axe Gang. When Sing and Bone's plans fall apart due to the very strong locals, Sing manages to incidentally lure the real Axe Gang to Pig Sty Alley. Unfortunately for the thugs, Pig Sty Alley has several kung fu masters that easily defend the community. From there on, Pig Sty Alley discuss how they'll defend themselves — kicking out the kung fu masters and avoiding conflict; the Axe Gang schemes on how they'll take their vengeance — hire the coldest killers; and, finally, Sing plans on joining the Axe Gang, but he has to kill someone first. All of these dilemmas leads to an epic climax and great ending.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Film Review: Child of God (2013)

Child of God (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"Scott Haze's stellar performance and the handful of compelling scenes can't remedy the glaring issues within the narrative and direction."

After losing his father and, in turn, his property, Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) descends into madness...

Child of God follows Lester Ballard. Ballard is a troubled man with violent and deviant tendencies. After losing everything, Ballard moves into a vacant home in the forest. He runs into some trouble with the law, then eventually falls in love with a corpse. Upon losing more of his possessions, Ballard delves deeper into his madness and deeper into the forest. That's about as far as I can go without spoiling anything else — and that's more than two-thirds of the movie. It leads to a very bloody and shocking climax. The ending, however, drags its feet and feels far too long.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Film Review: CJ7 (2008)

CJ7 (Review)
China/2008
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...undeniably charming and fun."

Chow Ti (Stephen Chow) is a poor but hardworking construction worker saving money to continue sending his son, Dicky (Xu Jiao), to private school...

CJ7 follows Ti and Dicky. One day while window shopping, Dicky pleas for a CJ1 — a popular robotic dog engineered in collaboration across several countries. Unfortunately, Ti can't afford it. Instead, Ti brings Dicky a bizarre green ball he scavenged from a dump — unaware of its true identity. Eventually, Dicky unlocks the green ball unleashing a dog-like alien he calls "CJ7". Dicky and CJ7 get into their messy mishaps — including a lot of alien feces. Generally, the film follows a very familiar path. A spat with CJ7, it's resolved, a spat between father and son, and so on. It goes exactly where you're expecting, but it is still fairly effective thanks to the charm and performances. The ending is satisfying enough.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Film Review: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (Review)
United States/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...some severe flaws, but I left the film moderately entertained."

Upon the escape of his crime partner, Buck (Robert Patrick) gathers a group of criminals for a bank job in Mexico...

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is a very straightforward horror-crime film. The story follows Buck as he gathers this generic crew. The four arrive at Mexico and spend time in a hotel criticizing porno while they wait for Luther (Duane Whitaker) to arrive — our escapee. Luther runs into a bat, really a vampire, and finds himself a vampire after the encounter. From there on, Luther begins to convert his partners one-by-one while initiating the bank job at night. Buck, being a little more perceptive, catches onto the ill-fitted pieces. The film leads to an action-packed climax and decent ending.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Film Review: The God of Cookery (1996)

The God of Cookery (Review)
China/1996
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a film that will make you laugh until you're in tears..."

When Stephen Chow (played by Stephen Chow), the self-proclaimed God of Cookery, is exposed as a fraud, Chow must learn the craft to reclaim the title...

The God of Cookery follows Stephen Chow — an egotistical celebrity chef who actually knows very little about cooking. Chow is brought down by his conspiring underling, Bull Tong (Vincent Kuk), and his own business partner. When he spirals downward, Chow finds some aid and hospitality in a food cart owner named Turkey (Karen Mok). With Turkey and her quirky gang of misfits, Chow begins his unpredictable rise to the top. Of course, he faces some opposition from Tong and his former partners, which leads to some very peculiar character development. The film leads to an epic cook-off and a bizarre but satisfying ending. It's certainly out there, but I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Film Review: Undisputed (2002)

Undisputed (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a well-balanced and well-paced film."

The heavyweight champion of the world, George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), is convicted of rape and sent to a prison called Sweetwater, where another champ reigns supreme...
 
Undisputed follows Iceman in this prison located in the Mojave Desert. Egotistical and powerful, Iceman causes a ruckus and makes it clear — he's not to be messed with. He immediately bumps heads with the prison's undisputed champ, Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes). Hutchens, however, is named the aggressor and sent to solitary confinement until his inevitable transfer. Fortunately, a powerful mob boss and boxing aficionado lurks in the prison and sets up a climactic fight between Monroe and the Iceman. As one would expect, the film leads to an extended training montage and a strong boxing finale. The film does feel like it backtracks towards the end, making the odds feel worthless, but the ending is satisfying enough.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Film Review: King of Comedy (1999)

King of Comedy (Review)
China/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...plenty of laugh-out-loud moments throughout this 90-minute feature..."

Wan Tin-Sau (Stephen Chow) deeply believes in the art of acting and his skill, but can't seem to get out of his roles as an extra...

King of Comedy follows Tin-Sau, an aspiring actor playing small roles as an extra. Whenever an opportunity arises for a grander role, he seems to fumble due to his clumsiness or untamable ambition. Regardless, Tin-Sau is persistent. As he waits for his big break, Tin-Sau meets Piu-Piu (Cecilia Cheung), a hostess with a sassy personality. Tin-Sau begins to teach Piu-Piu how to act in order to get more from her clients — which leads to some sparks of romance in their relationship. The film leads to a satisfying climax and ending.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Film Review: Changing Lanes (2002)

Changing Lanes (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...an effective drama with superb thriller elements."

A New York attorney and an insurance salesman bump heads after a car accident causes their lives to spiral out of control...

Changing Lanes follows Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) and Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson). Gavin is an attorney rushing to file a power of appointment, which proves his law firm legally controls a deceased philanthropist's foundation. While recklessly changing lanes in his hurry, Banek causes an accident with Doyle. Banek leaves in a rush, conveniently forgetting his file and leaving Doyle stranded. Unfortunately, Doyle was also headed to court for a divorce hearing, which doesn't go well due to his tardiness. Doyle, however, finds leverage in Banek's file. The pair descend into chaos as they ruthlessly attack one another. The film leads to a decent conclusion; nothing extraordinary or unforgettable, but satisfying and even touching.