Thursday, November 26, 2015

Film Review: Police Story: Lockdown (2013)

Police Story: Lockdown (aka Police Story 2013) (Review)
China/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a dark and exciting action-drama with plenty of suspense."

Detective Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) visits the Wu Bar to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Miao Miao (Jing Tian). To his utter dismay, he finds himself as one of the main targets in a scheme of vengeance...

Police Story: Lockdown is a fairly simple crime-drama. The film follows Zhong as he visits the Wu Bar and meets Miao's boyfriend, club owner Wu Jiang (Liu Ye). He's knocked unconscious, then finds himself restrained to a chair and talking to Jiang. He sees Jiang used Miao to lure him to the reinforced bar. So, the film begins to hop back-and-forth, from bar to case, as Zhong tries to find out why Jiang has captured him and what his intentions are with the hostages he's kept. There's a chase here, a shootout there, and fights everywhere. It's not really action-packed, but it injects more than enough action to balance out the cliché plot. The film leads to a decent climax and ending — the climax felt like a scene out of a soap opera, though.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Film Review: American Heist (2014)

American Heist (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most generic films I've seen in a long time."

When his older brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody), is released from prison, James (Hayden Christensen), a man working to turn his life around, spirals back into a life of crime...

American Heist is a very generic crime film. The film follows James and Frankie. The brothers have a troubled relationship, especially due to a crime the duo committed years ago — Frankie serving ten years, James getting spared with 16 months. Anyway, James is working on getting his life back together when Frankie is released from prison. Of course, Frankie drags his younger brother into a risky scheme — a bank heist. James is reluctant, but his brother's "associates" hold him with few options — basically, help or everyone he loves will die. It's stuff we've seen a million times before, really. The climax, the actual heist, is decent and the ending was okay. The ending was a bit abrupt, though, it almost felt like the writer just got tired and gave up.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Film Review: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (2015)

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (Review)
Japan/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most exciting and entertaining films I've seen this year."

Frieza's incapacitated army, led by Sorbet, find the dragon balls and resurrect their sinister leader...

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' is a very simple film. After being swiftly resurrected, Freiza begins training to reach a new level of power and exact his revenge on Goku (Sean Schemmel). As Frieza arrives, he finds Goku is absent; Goku and Vegeta (Christopher R. Sabat) are training with Whis at Lord Beerus' humble abode. So, our group of remaining heroes — including Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Master Roshi and Tien — decide to hold off Frieza's forces until Goku can arrive. And, when Goku and Vegeta finally arrive, we get our epic climax. A battle between old adversaries with a few surprises. The film leads to a satisfying ending.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Film Review: Harbinger Down (2015)

Harbinger Down (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"If you don't mind a bland narrative, this is a spectacle worth watching for the practical special effects."

Sadie (Camille Balsamo) and her college group board the fishing trawler Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on whales in the Bering Sea. Their studies are soured upon discovering something more sinister in the ice...

Harbinger Down is a basic creature feature with a generic cast of characters — I think the latter is more disappointing. The film follows Sadie after she boards the Harbinger — the trawler captained by her grandfather, Graff (Lance Henriksen). The crew discover a block of ice with a Soviet spacecraft and decide to keep it in the hold. Of course, instead of waiting until they dock, Sadie decides to pry into their discovery. She finds bizarre alien bacteria and the crew find themselves attacked by a shape-shifting alien. There are other tidbits here and there, but that's practically the entire plot. Discover, unleash, survive. The ending plays it safe — very predictable and fails to leave an impression. It's not horrible, but it could have been better.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Film Review: Wolf Warrior (2015)

Wolf Warrior (Review)
China/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

" As an action film, Wolf Warriors is a more serviceable movie."

After showing initiative during a tense showdown, expert marksman Leng Feng (Wu Jing) joins the "special forces of the special forces," but soon finds himself confronting the actions of his past...

Let's just get to the basics. Wolf Warrior follows Leng Feng when he's recruited by Long Xiaoyun (Yu Nan) to join a special forces group she commands — The Wolf Warriors. During a training mission, the group are assaulted by a team of foreign mercenaries led by Tom Cat (Scott Adkins). Tom Cat is hired by a drug lord to kill Leng Feng. So, the PLA (more like Leng Feng by his lonesome) and these mercenaries go to war in these barren woods. For the most part, the plot felt very thin and a little disjointed. It gets a little more consistent during the final act, but the ending was very predictable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Film Review: Last Shift (2014)

Last Shift (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best horror experiences in recent years."

On her first day, Officer Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) is assigned the last shift at a closing precinct. As she begins her lonesome night, Loren is disturbed by an ominous presence...

Last Shift is a rather simple film with a very familiar premise. The film follows Officer Loren on her first day. After meeting her eccentric sergeant, Loren is left by her lonesome. It's not long until she begins to receive eerie phone calls, encounter strange visitors, and experience surreal events. To her utter dismay, she eventually finds these strange happenings may be linked to a notorious cult with devious intentions. That's practically all that happens in the film. There's not exactly a lot to talk about, but it does have quite a bit going on. The plot leads to a satisfying conclusion. Considering all of the buildup, though, it did feel a little underwhelming.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Film Review: Kung Fu Killer (2014)

Kung Fu Killer (aka Kung Fu Jungle) (Review)
China/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...action fans will not be disappointed."

When a vicious killer (Wang Baoqiang) begins challenging retired martial arts masters to deadly duels, Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen), a martial arts expert incarcerated for manslaughter, is released to catch the culprit...

Kung Fu Killer is a very simple film. In fact, that's practically all you need to know about the film's story — it's that simple. Our vicious killer goes by the name Fung Yu-Sau. He goes around challenging the top martial artists in their respective disciplines – boxing, kicking, grappling, etc. Hahou knows this and convinces the police to release him so he can help capture Fung. Hahou and the police trail Fung and occasional clash, piecing together the reasoning for his crimes and Hahou's true intentions. It leads to an epic battle and satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015 Review Recap!

Our 31 Days of Halloween 2015 celebration is officially over! For the third consecutive year, I successfully wrote and shared 31 horror movie reviews in 31 days. I went through plenty of highs and lows, watching the worst and the best, for you. Thank you for reading and sharing in this celebration. Now, let's tally up the reviews and put a score up for this year.

10/01: Archivo 253 (2015) - 4/10
10/02: Area 51 (2015) - 4/10
10/03: Dark Water (2002) - 8/10
10/04: Entity (2012) - 3/10
10/05: Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1996) - 5/10
10/06: Inner Demons (2014) - 5/10
10/07: Pulse (aka Kairo) (2001) - 8/10
10/08: Quarantine (2008) - 5/10
10/09: Reincarnation (2005) - 8/10
10/10: The Relic (1997) - 7/10
10/11: Ringu (1998) - 8/10
10/12: Ringu 2 (1999) - 7/10
10/13: The Woman In Black (2012) - 7/10
10/14: The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death  (2014) - 4/10
10/15: The Beast of Xmoor (2014) - 4/10
10/16: The Blood Lands  (aka White Settlers) (2014) - 5/10
10/17: Djinn (2013) - 5/10
10/18: From The Dark (2014) - 6/10
10/19: The House of the Devil (2009) - 6/10
10/20: Insidious (2010) - 8/10
10/21: The Lazarus Effect (2015) - 6/10
10/22: The Omen (1976) - 8/10
10/23: Tales From The Dark 1 (2013) - 6/10
10/24: Tales From The Dark 2 (2013) - 7/10
10/25: Vile (2011) - 5/10
10/26: Would You Rather (2012) - 7/10
10/27: The Last Exorcism Part 2 (2013) - 3/10
10/28: Let Us Prey (2014) - 7/10
10/29: See No Evil 2 (2015) - 4/10
10/30: Starry Eyes (2014) - 8/10
10/31: Scream (1996) - 10/10

Average Score 188/310: 6.1/10 (estimated)

With a 6.1 average score, this is the lowest scoring 31 Days of Halloween in our three consecutive years of celebrating. Fortunately, it's still not that bad and I enjoyed the experience. I love horror and I hope to celebrate again next year, even if the score drops again. If you're interested, click here to visit last year's recap. Thanks for reading!