REVIEW: WAR

CAST
Jet Li (The Mummy 3)
Jason Statham (Spy)
John Lone (The Shadow)
Devon Aoki (Sin City)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Ryo Ishibashi (The Grudge)
Sung Kang (Fast & Furious)
Nadine Velazquez (My Name Is Earl)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Kane Kosugi (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Aaron Pearl (Stargate SG.1)
During a shootout against Chinese Triads at a San Francisco dock warehouse, FBI agents John Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) stumble across the notorious assassin Rogue (Jet Li), a former CIA assassin who now works for the Japanese Yakuza. Rogue ambushes Crawford and is about to execute him when Lone appears and shoots Rogue in the face, causing him to fall into the water. Rogue’s body was never found and he is presumed dead. However, Rogue survives and retaliates against Lone, his wife and his daughter. He kills them, burns down the house, and leaves their three corpses in the ashes of their home.
Three years later, Rogue re-appears, working under Chinese Triad boss Li Chang (John Lone). Rogue is assisting Chang against Chang’s arch-enemy and Rogue’s former employer, the leader of the Japanese Yakuza, Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi). Rogue first attacks a club run by the Yakuza by killing the gangsters and later on the runners in order to recover a pair of antique gold horses, family heirlooms of Chang. However, Rogue is secretly setting the Yakuza and the Triads against each other, in order to push the two factions toward all-out war.
Now the head agent of the FBI’s Asian Crime Task Force, Crawford is determined to hunt Rogue down and exact revenge for Lone’s death. Crawford’s obsessive pursuit of Rogue has taken a toll on his personal life causing him to be estranged from his family. Crawford comes close to catching Rogue in the wake of Rogue’s various killing sprees against the Triads and Yakuza, but Rogue always manages to stay one step ahead.
Ultimately, Rogue’s actions have gained the trust of both Chang and Yanagawa. Rogue succeeds in betraying Chang, but spares Chang’s wife and child, turning on the Yakuza. With Chang dead, Yanagawa is finally ready to come to America, where he intends to take over and expand Yakuza business operations. However, he is confronted by Crawford and the FBI; Crawford presents Yanagawa with proof that Rogue has betrayed him and spared Chang’s family, but Yanagawa refuses to assist Crawford in locating Rogue.
Later, Rogue delivers the horses to Yanagawa personally. Knowing of Rogue’s betrayal, Yanagawa captures Rogue and demands the location of Chang’s family. Rogue turns the tables on Yanagawa’s men and kills them all, and engages in a sword fight against Yanagawa himself. Yanagawa discovers that Rogue is actually FBI agent Tom Lone (who, after undergoing plastic surgery, changed his voice to obtain a Japanese accent); and killed the real Rogue, assuming the assassin’s identity. Rogue/Lone reveals that his actions have all been designed to bring him face-to-face with Yanagawa, so he could kill the man who ordered the death of his family. Yanagawa reveals that Crawford was in his pocket that whole time and responsible for leaking Tom Lone’s identity and home address to the real Rogue. Angered, Rogue/Lone disarms and decapitates Yanagawa.
Meanwhile, Chang’s wife receives a package from Rogue/Lone, containing one of the two golden horses that belongs to Chang’s family and a message reading, “Make a new life”. Yanagawa’s daughter also receives a package with the same message and inside the box is her father’s head. Rogue/Lone then calls Crawford as he is packing up his office, asking him to meet him at the dock warehouse where they last made their investigation. Before going to the warehouse, Crawford enlists the help of Goi (Sung Kang), an FBI sniper that aided Crawford throughout the investigation. At the warehouse, Crawford and Rogue/Lone battle each other in an intense hand-to-hand fight in which Rogue/Lone reveals who he really is to Crawford. When Rogue/Lone reveals his true identity, a devastated Crawford reveals that it was true that he was working for Yanagawa at the time but had no idea that Rogue was still alive. He was then blackmailed and gave Yanagawa Lone’s address thinking that Yanagawa’s men were only going there to “rough him up a bit”. Ever since, Crawford was angry at himself and wanted revenge against Rogue and everyone else involved in what he thought was his partner’s death.
However, Crawford begs Lone for forgiveness, but Lone denies him, coldly replying “Tom Lone is dead, my name is Rogue”. As Rogue takes out a gun to shoot Crawford, Goi takes aim at him. Crawford jumps in Goi’s line of fire, and allowing Rogue the opportunity to shoot him in the back, killing him. The next day, Rogue/Lone later drives out of town to start a new life.
Very good movie overall and I would definitely recommend it for those who are and aren’t familiar with past roles of Statham and Li.

REVIEW: TEKKEN 2: KAZUYA’S REVENGE

Starring

Kane Kosugi (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Showdown In Little Tokyo)
Rade Šerbedžija (Taken 2)
Gary Daniels (The Expendables)
Kelly Wenham (Double Date)
Charlotte Kirk (Oceans’ 8)

skxCAn417Vavo4JWp18yQ95EPZhA man with no recollection of his past wakes up in an apartment in a district outside Tekken City before he is chased by armed men and nabbed by a female assassin named Rhona Anders. He is brought to a guerrilla leader known as “The Minister”, who gives him the letter “K” as his codename and has an explosive surgically implanted in his chest, should he fail his mission or attempt to leave the organization. Despite his amnesia, “K” displays exceptional skills in fighting and marksmanship. He befriends the district’s local janitor, whose son killed his wife and crippled him before disappearing three years prior. After defeating an opponent in a sparring match, “K” is ordered by the Minister to kill him or the janitor; “K” declines and tells the Minister to let the janitor go, to which the Minister’s henchman breaks the defeated opponent’s neck.heihachiOver the next few days, “K” is given an apartment unit where he plots his next targets. He befriends a tenant named Laura after saving her from a couple of muggers. After one of his jobs, he tells Rhona he wants out. Recalling the events from where he first woke up, “K” returns to the apartment building from the beginning of the film and asks the manager for records on his previous stay, to which the manager only has him signed under the initials “K. M.” On his next job, “K” battles and is defeated by his target, Bryan Fury, who warns him to walk away from his job before disappearing. The next morning, “K” confronts Rhona about Fury, who is revealed to be a former associate of the Minister. As Laura is a nurse, “K” has her remove the explosive from his chest.tekken-2-kazuyas-revenge2“K” receives a call from Fury, who warns him that the Minister has “K” marked as a target. He meets up with Rhona that night before they both encounter Fury, who shows them a newspaper article and tells them they are all pawns of the Minister. Later, Rhona stabs the Minister in the back, but “K” later on discovers that Laura has been abducted by Gentek Factory. The duo sneak into Gentek, where Rhona battles and defeats the Minister’s female assassins. “K” meets Heihachi Mishima, who reveals that “K” is his son Kazuya Mishima. Like the ancient Spartans sending their male children to the wilderness to survive alone, Heihachi had Kazuya brainwashed and set loose to test his survival skills. Heihachi shows Laura who has been brainwashed also. The brainwashing process has changed her from calm and sweet girl into seductive hot lady. Kazuya’s body is filled with rage when Heihachi kills Laura after they are kissing each other. Kazuya then battles two fighters named Rip and Thorn. After defeating the two combatants, Kazuya accepts his bloodline and has Rhona accompany him to find Heihachi, who stands over the skyline of Tekken City.vlcsnap_2014_09_01_16h08m31s75There is almost no saving grace in this. It makes the first one looks like a classic. I could at least see some efforts used to create the look in the first movie but in this, there is none. There is no distinctive style, no interesting things happening and it looks like it is shot fast with not much consideration of locations. There may be many tepid movies based on video games but this is one of the worst movies. It just does not look appealing. Not much to recommend here.

REVIEW: DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE

 

CAST
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Devon Akoi (Sin City)
Holly Valance (Taken)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2 & 3)
Kane Kosugi (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Matthew Marsden (Black Hawk Down)
Brian White (The Cabin In The Woods)
Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat)
A group of martial arts and combat masters are invited to a fighting contest, “Dead or Alive”, on an isolated island within an advanced complex, with the ultimate prize of $10 million. Among the competitors are Kasumi, a shinobi ninja-princess looking for her brother Hayate (who was competing in the last tournament), Tina, a professional wrestler setting out to prove she has more potential (complicated by her father Bass being one of the contenders), Christie, a master thief and assassin, her treacherous partner Maximillian ‘Max’ Marsh, and Hayabusa, a friend of Kasumi and Hayate who follows Kasumi to keep her safe, using the invitation to DOA for this. A final competitor is Helena Douglas, daughter of the tournament’s late founder. When they arrive, they are monitored by the island’s supervisor, Dr. Victor Donovan, who, aided by egghead Weatherby, is gathering data (using injected nano-sensors) from the fights for some mysterious project. To add to the situation, an assassin from Kasumi’s colony, named Ayane, has followed Kasumi to kill her and wipe away the disgrace the princess has caused to the clan.
The contest plays out, with multiple contestants fighting and being defeated (including Gen Fu, Bayman, Leon, and Zack), until only Kasumi, Christie, Hayabusa and Tina are left, with Helena being defeated by Christie. During the course of the film, Max and Christie form a plan to steal the fortune stowed away inside a hidden vault. During her fight, Christie sees that the key to finding and unlocking the vault is a tattoo on the back of Helena’s neck. Meanwhile, Kasumi begins to suspect Donovan of lying about her brother being killed in the previous tournament, and Hayabusa, infiltrating the main facility to find the truth, is captured. She is more than once confronted and nearly killed by Ayane, who Kasumi tries to convince that Hayate is alive (since it is eventually clear that Ayane loves Hayate). Also, Weatherby begins to fall for Helena, and in the end tells her about what he knows of the mystery project, and that before Helena’s father could shut the project down, he died (indicating that he was murdered).
On the final day of the tournament, wondering where Hayabusa is, Kasumi, Christie and Tina look for him and discover a secret entrance to the main complex, where they find Hayabusa unconscious. They are then gassed and captured. Meanwhile, Helena resolves to stop the mystery project, and has to fight the armed staff of the island, sent to kill her and Weatherby by Donovan. They are followed inside by Max, who finds his way to the vault, and is then knocked out by Bayman, who is working for Donovan. Inside the main complex, Donovan shows the four semifinalists the project he has been developing; an advanced form of neural interface that allows him and others to use the fighters’ combined skills to become the ultimate fighter. After ‘downloading’ the data into the device (shaped like a pair of sunglasses), he then shows that he kept Hayate alive and in peak condition to test the technology. He challenges Hayate to fight and win, if the others are to survive. Hayate accepts and is defeated, then thrown through a wall to die. Hayate is saved by Ayane, and the two of them apparently accept each other.
MV5BMjE0OTIwMDA5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY2MTQ3OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_
With the successful demonstration, Donovan prepares to sell the technology around the world, and begins “downloading” it to the watching buyers. Weatherby stops the broadcast and alerts the CIA, which provokes Donovan to head for them. Helena keeps Donovan back while Weatherby frees the others, but both are defeated and Donovan activates a self-destruct sequence which will obliterate the base. Kasumi, Helena, Christie, Tina, Ayane, and Hayate launch a combined attack on Donovan, while Hayabusa and Weatherby find Max and escape with him, despite Max’s urge to go back for the money. During the battle with the fighters, Donovan’s ‘glasses’ are knocked off and he is easily paralyzed by Hayate and Kasumi. The fighters then all escape as the base explodes and Donovan is consumed by the flames, making their escape by a hijacked pirates’ boat. In the final scene, Helena, Ayane, Christie, Tina, and Kasumi are shown together again preparing to fight an army of ninja in Kasumi’s palace.
Batman-Bad-Blood-640x360
it is a fun and escapist film to pass an hour and a half.

REVIEW: NINJA SENTAI KAKURANGER

CAST
Teruaki Ogawa (Seijuu Sentai Gingaman)
Satomi Hirose (Tensou Sentai Goseiger)
Hiroshi Tsuchida (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger)
Shu Kawai (Kamen Rider Kuuga)
Kane Kosugi (DOA: Dead or Alive)
Akira Sakamoto (Takeshi’s Castle)
Daisuke Tsuchiya (Juukou B-Fighter)
Keisuke Tsuchiya (Gosei Sentai Dairanger)
Kenichi Endō (The Raid 2)
Hidekatsu Shibata (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Keiko Hayase (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger)
Reiko Chiba (Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger)
Fans of Japanese Henshin Hero shows (where the protagonists has to change form to gain super powers) have a reason to rejoice, Shout! Factory has released the 18th Super Sentai TV series in its entirety. Now English speaking fans can enjoy the complete Ninja Sentai Kakuranger! Though the name might not be familiar, many people who grew up watching Power Rangers after school will recognize some of the monsters and costumes as some of the action scenes from were used in the third season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Mini Saga Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers. If you’ve only seen the Americanized version, you should check it out in its original form, as it’s a fun and addictive show.
 
 Four hundred years ago the Youkai (supernatural monsters from Japanese fairy tales) were at war with a group on ninja. The conflict ended when the five most powerful ninja managed to seal the Youkai leader, Nurarihyon, and all of the Youkai energy behind the mystic “Seal Door” trapping him and robbing all of the Earth’s Youkai of the powers forever.
 
Fast forward to contemporary times. When a powerless but wily Youkai, Kappa, finds two of the decedents the ninja who originally sealed away the Youkai’s power, he tricks them into opening the Seal Door while the protector of the door, a young girl named Tsuruhime, isn’t looking. That not only releases Nurarihyon, but also returns all of the Youkai’s evil powers. After so many years hiding from humans, the Youkai decide it’s time to take their rightful place at the top of the food chain… and that means destroying the human race. The only thing that’s stopping the Youkai is Tsuruhime. Luckily she knows a thing or two. Taking the two young men under her wing, she brings Saizou and Sasuke to a place where their ancestor’s swords are imbedded in the ground. Once they pull them out, they receive Doron Changers that allows them to turn into Kakuranger with ninja powers and abilities. These three track down the other two decendents of the original ninja, Seikai and Jiraiya, and together they form the Kakurangers! Traveling around in a sentient food service trunk that acts and looks like a cat and is named Nekomaru, the group battles the Youkai wherever they appear.
 
This show follows the pattern laid out by the nearly dozen and a half series that preceded it, but there are some differences that make keep things interesting. As with other Super Sentai shows, the Kakurangers have giant robots that they employ to battle their enemies: the Giant Beast Generals. One difference in this series is that the Rangers have two sets of fighting robots. The second set, that pop up several episodes into the series, are the Beast General Fighters. These more agile and lighter weapons are autonomous and do not have to be piloted by a Ranger (though they can be to gain even more power). Like other shows these Rangers also have motorcycles that they sometimes use, though for some odd reason they are modeled after sharks. This is the first Super Sentai show that has a female team leader too. It was nice to see Tsuruhime in a position of power, and the character fit the role too. She was easily the most level-headed of the five even though she is the youngest.
 
 A monster-of-the-week show for the most part, the program keeps from getting monotonous by slowly filling in some of the background of the rangers and mixing it up with some multi-part stories and story arcs that will thread their way through several episodes. One example of the latter is Dr. Yugami, a mad scientist Youkai who creates new inventions to destroy the Kakurangers. He’s first employed by Tengu, he’s later taken on by a major villain, Young Noble Jr, a punk rock Youkai who causes the Kakurangers no end of trouble. (In his natural form he’s a skeleton warrior named Gashadokuro that Power Ranger fans will recognize as Rita Repulsa’s brother Rito Revolto.)
 I have enjoyed the two previous Super Sentai shows that Shout! Factory has released, and this one is no exception.  There’s a lot to like about this show. Like the earlier seasons it’s filled with odd and strange monsters that I really enjoy. My favorites this time around have to be the Dorodoros, the expendable foot soldiers that the rangers often fight before changing. In this series, they are patterned after the character in Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream. They have misshapen heads and ovals for eyes and a mouth and when they appear they even hold their hands near their faces as if imitating the picture. It’s just so unexpected to see a reference to an Expressionist painting in a kids show that you have to love it.
 
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger is still a very fun and enjoyable show. Filled with wacky, bizarre villains and some good action, it’s definitely worth checking out especially if you’re a Power Ranger fan. It gets a very strong recommendation.