REVIEW: 47 RONIN

CAST

Keanu Reeves (The Matrix)
Hiroyuki Sanada (Life)
Tadanobu Asano (Battleship)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
Ko Shibasaki (Shaolin Girl)
Min Tanaka (Gaiji Keisatsu)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Gedde Watanabe (Gremlins 2)
Togo Igawa (Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist)

In late medieval Japan, Kai is a half-Japanese, half-English outcast who lives in the Akō Domain, which is ruled by the benevolent Lord Asano Naganori. When Kai was young, Asano adopted him as a foundling. Asano’s daughter Mika and Kai eventually fall in love, despite Kai being scorned by her father’s samurai due to his mixed ancestry.Before a planned visit from Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Asano is visited by the Shogun’s master of ceremonies, Lord Kira, who wants to take Akō for himself. Kira enlists the help of a shapeshifting Kitsune named Witch who sends a Kirin to kill Asano in the forest of Ako. Asano’s samurai struggle in their battle with the monster so Kai joins in riding an abandoned horse. As the monster charges him, Kai recovers a lost sword that he uses to slay it. Shortly thereafter he spots the Witch disguised in her white fox form with different coloured eyes. Later during the Shogun’s visit, Kai sees that one of the Shogun’s concubines has the same multi-colored eyes. He tries to warn Asano’s principal counselor and samurai, Oishi, that she is the Witch.Later, Kira arranges a duel for the entertainment of the Shogun: Kira’s best warrior, the giant Golem Samurai, will battle a warrior of Asano’s choosing. However, before the duel begins, the Witch uses her magic to incapacitate Asano’s combatant. Kai secretly dons his armor and fights in his stead, but his disguise is revealed and the Shogun orders him severely beaten as punishment. Later that night, Witch uses her magic to make Asano believe that Kira is raping Mika, causing him to attack an unarmed Kira in his delirium. Asano is sentenced to death for attacking a Shogunate official, though the Shogun allows him to die with honor through seppuku. The Shogun then gives Kira both the Akō domain and Mika, although he grants Mika one year to mourn the death of her father before marrying Kira. The Shogun also brands Oishi and his men ronin and forbids them from seeking vengeance for Asano’s death. To ensure that the ronin do not interfere with his takeover plans, Kira imprisons Oishi in an outdoor pit to break his spirit.Nearly a year later, Oishi is released by Kira’s men. He now knows that Kira is guilty of treachery for using Witch’s sorcery to cause Asano’s downfall. Oishi reunites with his family and asks his son Chikara to aid him in reuniting the scattered ronin. They learn that Kai has been sold into slavery and Oishi rescues him from the fighting pits of the Dutch colony of Dejima. Kai leads them to the Tengu Forest, a mystical place he escaped from as a child, so that they can find swords for themselves. Kai instructs Oishi to never draw his sword while in the Tengu temple and continues alone to another room to face the Tengu Master, who once trained Kai in their fighting ways. While Kai confronts the Tengu Master in a battle of wills, Oishi watches an illusion of his men being slaughtered by the Tengu, during which he fights the urge to draw his own sword. With Kai and Oishi both successful in their Tengu challenges, the ronin are given Tengu swords.Armed with their new weapons, the ronin plan to attack Kira on his pilgrimage to a shrine where he seeks blessings for his wedding to Mika. However, Kira’s procession is a trap and the ronin are ambushed by Kira’s forces, led by Witch and her companion Samurai. Several of the ronin are killed, and Witch, thinking they are all dead, takes Oishi’s sword and presents it to Kira as a trophy. Witch later taunts Mika with their deaths and attempts to manipulate her into committing suicide from despair.Oishi and Kai (having actually survived the attack) rally the surviving ronin. Oishi, Kai, and half of the ronin infiltrate Kira’s castle by disguising themselves as a band of traveling wedding performers loyal to the memory of Lord Asano. With Kira’s men distracted during the performance, the remaining ronin scale the castle walls, and the reunited groups start to battle with Kira’s men. While Oishi fights Kira, Kai and Mika are attacked by the Witch, who shape-shifts into a dragon. Kai uses his sword and draws on the mystical powers of the Tengu to finally kill her. After gutting him, Oishi emerges with Kira’s severed head and Kira’s men surrender.After winning the battle, the ronin (including Kai) surrender themselves to Shogunate authority and are sentenced to death as they explicitly violated the Shogun’s prohibition on avenging Asano. However, the Shogun finds that they followed the principles of Bushido in their actions and, therefore, restores their honor as samurai. Thus, instead of execution, the ronin are allowed to perform seppuku. They are also given the honor of burial with their master, Lord Asano. The Shogun gives Akō back to Mika, and at the seppuku ceremony, he pardons Oishi’s son Chikara so that he may serve Akō and preserve Oishi’s bloodline for the country. A closing caption informs the audience of the tradition of paying respect at the graves of the 47 Ronin which continues every year on December 14.47 Ronins an entertaining fantasy based on the classic Japanese story. Despite the Western behaviors and feelings of the ronin and Mika, the movie is not bad as indicated in many reviews. Actually I have had a nice surprise.

Advertisements

REVIEW: AGE OF KILL

AOK_3D_BD

CAST

Martin Kemp (Assassin)
Patrick Bergin (Sleeping With The Enemy)
Bruce Payne (Highlander: Endgame)
Dexter Fletcher (Press Gang)
April Pearson (Fractured)
Phil Davis (Alien 3)
Nick Moran (The Amazing Grace)
Donna Air (Byker Grove)
Lucy Pinder (Strippers vs Werewolves)
Terri Dwyer (13 Graves)
Dani Dyer (We Still Kill The Old Way)

Age of Kill opens up with intriguing premise of a sniper forced to do a terrorist’s bidding. It is a good start for a film which unfortunately becomes needlessly complicated later on. Using too many subplots revolving around abundance of tired characters, most of whom are far from likable, the film becomes too tedious and chaotic for audience to invest on. The initial set-up works pretty well, introduction for its protagonist is focused with minimal interruption. However, the film strangely shifts into myriads of other perspectives which are not only hampering the main plot, but seem out of place, especially when it also puts restriction of following an inflexible timeline.age-of-kill-6-gio-de-chet-42112There is viewpoint of the police inspector following the killing spree, but the female chief role is overbearing. It may be to establish an empowering authority figure, yet the actress delivers the personality with shallow unfriendly delivery. As the sniper makes his way through the victim list, he meets an escort who deals with the same problem. This woman is almost shoehorned with barely any buildup, although she becomes a strange supporting character later. There’s plenty of info skimped to accommodate the large cast. As though it’s not complex enough, the movie also throws in religion and political elements at second half. The actual plot becomes heavily muddled with extremely preachy undertone, so much so the development relies on luck and blatant convenient to finish the story. Much of the twists are abrupt, negating the action storyline for the sake of vague propaganda. Furthermore, none of the character or script is enough to hold any interest.age-of-kill-1It has a bit of action aspects, but most likely won’t keep audience invested through the overly complicated story. There’s no satisfying conclusion to be had, considering the movie stacks subplots on top of another until it becomes a messy pile of narrative.

REVIEW: TIGER HEART

 

CAST

Ted Jan Roberts (Masked Rider)
Carol Potter (Sunset BEach)
Jennifer Lyons (Jack Forst 2)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Rance Howard (How The Grinch Stole Chrstmas)
Timothy Williams (Cheers)
David Michael (Short Track)
Brian Gross (2001 Maniacs)
Vincent DePalma (Skyscraper)

serdtse-tigra-sceneEric Chase is a teenager who lives to practice Martial Arts at his local dojo. Even when his best buddy Brad cajoles him into going to parties with bikini-clad babes, nothing can stop Eric from sparring with his local tots and his Sensei. When Eric meets the beautiful Stephanie Simmons  at the deli across from his beloved dojo, it seems first love may be in the air. Unfortunately, Nat  is your classic evil land developer, and he’s sending out squads of punks and/or goons to scare people out of their homes and businesses so he can build one of those despised malls on their property. Led by Paulo, the goons eventually end up at Mr. Johnson’s  deli – where Eric’s paramour Stephanie happens to work. Defending her honor, Eric uses his long-practiced Martial Arts skills on the goons – but can this one kid fight off the coming real estate war? Tiger-Heart-1996-3Classic Ted Jan all the way. If you’re familiar with his work, such as the entertaining A Dangerous Place (1995), here is more of the same. Which is a good thing, because both movies have a youth-oriented, fun, upbeat feel. Tiger Heart is an enjoyable “entry-level” action movie best suited for people who don’t take themselves so seriously.

REVIEW: AMSTERDAM HEAVY

CAST

Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs)
Alison Carroll (Doghouse)
Fajah Lourens (Shouf Shouf!)
Semmy Schilt (Transporter 3)
Vincent van Ommen (Cam2Cam)
Maryam Tarami (A Broken Code)
Megan Gaber (Coming Out)

imageAmsterdam Heavy takes us on a roller-coaster journey in to the violent, criminal heart of Amsterdam. Some bald gangster J.D. (Rik Sinkeldam) is being brought to Amsterdam in a box, where he eventually wakes up.Shirtless, half-dead, with lost memory, JD now has a score to settle. He will heal up, and go on a hunt for those, who betrayed him, beating the crap out of thugs on the streets, back alleys and canals of Amsterdam. Along the way, he hooks up with some undercover agent girl, who poses as an exotic dancer in a local club. Turns out, JD was drugged by some goons in Thailand, and then he managed to escape. Now, he desperately needs to know why his partner Gunther set him up. Oh yes, he also wants to find his wife and son, and get a few “tips” from Michael Madsen in a local bar.1002004012085728_2So far so good. It gets worse however. First dissapointment comes with Michael Madsen. Although on film’s official website they make him look like the leading character, he’s barely 3 minutes in the whole movie, and we only see him sitting in a bar, delivering cheesy dialogue, smoking marijuana, and that’s all. So, the “bait” is weak. The directing is bad, camera moves around exactly the way you hate it most – just like in Steven Seagal movies, when you can’t see anything. And since this movie has a lot of action (yes, there are plenty of fights) – the shaky cam doesn’t let you see what’s really going on, and it frustrates more and more as the movie goes on. amsterdam-heavy-backgroundActing is mediocre at best. Even Madsen (who seems to be the only well-known actor here) delivers his lines while looking as much bored as possible. If you’re a Michael Madsen fan – do yourself a favor and skip this. . If you like action, martial arts and expect a lot of it here – look elsewhere, as the fights are so badly directed and choreographed, you’ll hate it. The film did have a good start, but got a lot worse as the time went on.

REVIEW: BAD BLOOD (AKA Wicked Blood)

CAST

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
James Purefoy (Solomon Kane)
Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids)
Lew Temple (Rango)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)

war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-2964x2001-2017-hd-7554Hannah Lee Baker is a bright teen girl trapped in the dark Southern underworld of violence and guns, meth labs and vicious biker gangs, and whose only refuge is chess. She lives with Amber, her older sister; and her uncle Donny, an addict. All live in fear of Uncle Frank Stinson, who runs the illegal family business with an iron fist, aided by his psychotic younger brother Bobby. Things change for the worse when Amber falls in love with Wild Bill, a meth trafficker who finds himself at war with Frank. Hannah realizes the only way to save her family is by cleverly scheming to pit one pawn against another in a cunning chess game. wicked-blood-5I did enjoy this much more then I expected to. Overall, nothing amazing or new but it is entertaining and worth seeing.

REVIEW: THE LAST SAMURAI

CAST

Tom Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Hiroyuki Sanada (Life)
Shin Koyamada (Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior)
Tony Goldwyn (Divergent)
Masato Harada (Fearless)
Nakamura Shichinosuke (Insutooru)
Timothy Spall (The King’s Speech)
Koyuki Kato (Pulse)
Seizō Fukumoto (OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders)
Billy Connolly (The Man Who Sued God)
Shun Sugata (Kill BIll)
Sosuke Ikematsu (The Long Excuse)
Scott Wilson (Young GUns 2)
Togo Igawa (47 Ronin)

Former US Army Captain Nathan Algren, a bitter alcoholic traumatized by the atrocities he committed during the American Indian Wars, is approached by his former commanding officer Colonel Bagley to train the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army for Japanese businessman Omura, who intends to use the army to suppress a samurai-headed rebellion against Japan’s new Emperor. Despite his hatred of Bagley for his role in the Indian Wars, an impoverished Algren takes the job for the money, and is accompanied to Japan by his old friend Sergeant Zebulon Gant. Upon arriving, Algren meets Simon Graham, a British translator knowledgeable about the Samurai.Algren finds the Imperial soldiers are poorly trained; rather than finding an eager army, he finds conscripted peasants that have no knowledge of firearms. During training, Algren is informed that the samurai are attacking one of Omura’s railroads; Omura sends the army there, despite Algren’s protests that they are not ready. The battle is a disaster; the conscripts panic, and Gant is killed in the battle. Algren kills at least eight samurai before he is surrounded; expecting to die, he is surprised when samurai leader Katsumoto decides to spare him. Algren is taken to Katsumoto’s village to live among his family. While he is poorly treated by the samurai at first, he eventually gains their respect. Algren overcomes his alcoholism and guilt over his past sins, learns the Japanese language and culture, and develops sympathy for the Samurai, who are angry that the spread of modern technology has eroded traditional feudalism and the status and power of the Samurai. Algren becomes close with Taka, Katsumoto’s sister and the widow of a Samurai Algren killed.One night, as the village is watching a kabuki play, a group of ninja, sent by Omura, infiltrate the village and attempt to assassinate Katsumoto. However, Algren notices them and warns Katsumoto in time, saving his life. In the ensuing battle, Algren helps defend Katsumoto’s family, earning his respect. Katsumoto requests a meeting with Emperor Meiji and is given safe passage to Tokyo, bringing Algren along with the intent to release him. Upon arriving in Tokyo, Algren finds the Imperial Army is now a well-trained and equipped fighting force, while Katsumoto, to his dismay, discovers that the Emperor is essentially a puppet of Omura. At a government meeting, Omura orders Katsumoto’s arrest for carrying a sword in public and asks him to commit seppuku to redeem his honor. When Algren refuses Omura’s offer to lead the new army to crush the rebels, Omura orders him killed as well. Omura sends assassins to kill Algren, but Algren kills his assailants. Algren and Katsumoto’s samurai arrive to free Katsumoto from the Imperial Army. They manage to rescue him; however, in the process, Katsumoto’s son, Nobutada, is wounded, and he sacrifices himself to allow the others to escape.As the Imperial Army marches to crush the rebellion, a grieving Katsumoto contemplates seppuku, but Algren convinces him to fight until the end, and joins the samurai in battle. Citing the Battle of Thermopylae, the Samurai use the Imperial Army’s overconfidence to lure their soldiers into a trap and deprives them of artillery support. The ensuing mêlée battle inflicts massive casualties on both sides and forces the Imperial soldiers to retreat. Knowing that Imperial reinforcements are coming and defeat is inevitable, Katsumoto orders a suicidal charge on horseback. During the charge, they break through Bagley’s line, and Algren kills Bagley in battle. They rush through his line, and are quickly mowed down by gatling guns. The Imperial captain, previously trained by Algren, is horrified by the sight of the dying samurai and orders all of the guns to cease fire, disregarding Omura’s orders. A mortally-wounded Katsumoto commits seppuku with Algren’s help. The soldiers present in the scene kneel down in respect for the fallen samurai.Days later, as trade negotiations conclude, Algren, though injured, arrives and interrupts the proceedings. He presents the Emperor with Katsumoto’s sword and asks him to remember the traditions for which Katsumoto died. The Emperor realizes that while Japan should modernize and continue its interaction with other countries, it also should remember its own culture and history. He rejects the trade offer; when Omura protests his decision, the Emperor decides to seize the Omura family assets and distribute them to the poor. Algren returns to the village to Taka; while various rumors about Algren start to circulate, Graham concludes that Algren has finally found peace in his life, as he returns to the village to reunite with Taka.Tom Cruise is an actor who is both idolized (by fans) and ridiculed (by critics) In this film he dazzles us as a drunken U.S General haunted by a bloody past. I was pushing for him to get an Oscar Nod, but alas, None came. “The Last Samurai” wasn’t particularly well received and that was disconcerting to me.

REVIEW: SHIRI

CAST

Han Suk-kyu (Eye For An Eye)
Choi Min-sik (Lucy)
Yunjin Kim (lost)
Song Kang-ho (The Foul King)
Yoon Joo-sang (Duelist)
Park Yong-woo (Say Yes)

In October 1992, an elite group of North Korean soldiers are put through a brutal training regime. Under the auspices of their commander, Park Mu-young (Choi Min-sik), they will be sent into South Korea as sleeper agents, to be reactivated at some later date. The most promising of the group is Lee Bang-hee, a female sniper who assassinates several key South Korean figures over the next six years.Over six years later, in September 1998, South Korea is searching for Bang-hee. The agent in charge of her case, Yu Jong-won (Han Suk-kyu) has nightmares about her murdering both him and his partner, Lee Jang-gil (Song Kang-ho). Yu is also engaged to a young woman, Yi Myung-hyun (Yunjin Kim), a former alcoholic and the owner of a fish and aquarium supply store. Hyun symbolically gives Yu a pair of kissing gourami, a species that cannot live without its mate. Yu is worried that he cannot tell Myung-hyun about the real nature of his job due to his security clearance.Yu and Lee are contacted by an arms dealer who claims to have information about their quarry, but he is shot dead by Bang-hee before he can give them any information. After digging a bit deeper, they determine that he had been contacted by the assassin at some point, in the effort to acquire something. That something turns out to be CTX, a binary liquid explosive developed by the South Korean government. In its ground state, CTX is indistinguishable from water, but when placed under the right temperature conditions for long enough, a 200mL worth of CTX has a 1 km blast radius. The agents begin to suspect its intended use by the assassins, when Kim, a scientist working at a lab connected to CTX, is assassinated by Bang-hee. Park and his agents ambush a military convoy with several liters of CTX, killing all the soldiers and making off with the dangerous liquid before the agents could arrive in time to warn them. Yu and Lee suspect a leak, as they are always one step too slow. Hee is ordered to eliminate the ‘kissing gourami’ obstacle. Yu meets with Police Chief Ho to borrow outside forces but Ho accidentally stands in the path of a bullet fired by Hee’s sniper rifle.photo285Park calls Yu and issues an ultimatum: he has concealed several CTX bombs around Seoul, and will give him just enough time to find each one before setting them off. He also mockingly mentions Yu’s fiancé. It is revealed that Park and Yu have a history: Park once hijacked a civilian airliner and killed many civilians, but managed to escape by disguising himself as a wounded member of the flight crew. The first of the CTX bombs is found on top of a department store, but Park lied about the time factor. The bomb explodes just as the bomb disposal team discover its exact location, resulting in dozens of deaths. Yu takes Myung-hyun to hide out at a hotel and she begins drinking again.cp5Yu suspects Lee as the leak – who, ironically enough, suspects the same thing, as Yu has twice survived encounters with Hee he should have died in, and bugged Yu’s car and phone to see if he could learn anything. Yu sets a trap by telling Lee he has new information – into which Park and his fellow agents step – but the situation quickly escalates into a firefight resulting in police and civilian casualties. Several of the Northern agents are killed while others escape. When Park is cornered, Hee comes in to save him. Yu, having survived his stand-off with Park and Hee, follows a wounded Hee. He loses her but notices the light to the aquarium turn on and covertly enters, discovering a bleeding Hyun removing her disguise. Yu walks away, shocked, and conducts a solo investigation into her history with the real, sick Hyun. Mu-young confronts Hee about her hesitancy and constant failure to kill Yu, reminding her of their primary objective.2262680,rXpgP_r_L6be78CnwTYeO9pbcLpuGlzl6VFRMvScsMDmOvDCIhA8eJb9VYk07slF9LKwH7nqK0wtezfD1sLLjw==Park calls NIS, demanding millions as well as a plane for an escape at 2pm in return for the remaining CTX. Myung-hyun’s identity is confirmed by the agency later when electronic surveillance devices are discovered in fish decorating the NIS’s office supplied by Hyun. Lee confronts her in her shop, and is shot by Park. Yu suddenly appears with officers, who engage in a firefight with Park and his agents. Park and Myung-hyun escape, while a dying Lee hands Hyun’s soccer match ticket to Yu, set to start at 2pm. The terrorists aim to detonate a CTX bomb directly over the Royal Box, housing all senior North and South Korean politicians, at a soccer stadium in the midst of an international friendly match played by a North and South Korean team. Yu attempts to tell NIS of the ruse and the danger in the stadium but is ignored. He defies orders and rushes to the stadium, where Park, Bang-hee, and other terrorists mingle with the crowd. They find a total ban on all liquids, but enter easily as the CTX and weapons were already planted in the stadium beforehand.Shiri 1999 (5)Bang-hee retrieves a hidden Steyr AUG from a restroom cubicle, while Park and his agents tail several patrolling South Korean SWAT officers who later adjourn to the restrooms. There, the policemen are killed and their bodies quickly dragged away. Myung-hyun advances into the grandstand with her rifle, while Park and three other men, now disguised as South Korean SWAT officers in uniforms stolen from the dead policemen, enter the stadium control room, killing all but one there and forcing the remaining staff to switch on the stadium lights to trigger the CTX. Yu arrives at the stadium and notices the lights. Yu goes to the control room to have them shut off but is taken captive. Sik, a rookie NIS agent, also notices the lights and soon comes in with backup. A violent confrontation in the control room results in the death of all four terrorists, and the lights are switched off in the nick of time. Myung-hyun notices this, and fires at the VIPs, but misses her target. Chasing after the entourage, she kills several more SWAT officers along the way before being confronted by a large group of officers led by Yu. As she makes a last-ditch attempt to complete her mission, she is shot dead by Yu.swiri1999x264480paachdre-chdshar-5Yu later learns that Bang-hee was pregnant with his child, and had left details of the renegade Northern agents’ plan and her planned location on his answering machine before leaving for the stadium but had requested he not confront her himself, professing her love for him. Yu then visits the real Myung-hyun, who is at a hospital for chemo therapy, and Myung-hyun reminisces about Hee with Yu. Myung-hyun lets Yu listen to that song, and while listening to it Yu is captivated by the lyrics. The scene then fades, while Yu, still listening to the song, shuts his eyes.Shiri 1999 (2)The film mixes action, drama and romance. As a fusion between 3 genres, the film cannot, really, be compared to other films. The extra features are well worth looking at. One thing to bear in mind if you decide to watch the “Making of” documentary — only key portions are subtitled in English. I whole-heartedly recommend this film to people who like the above genres. It may be two hours long but, believe me, it feels a lot shorter.