REVIEW: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

CAST

Chow Yun-Fat (Bulletproof Monk)
Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Chang Chen (Red Cliff)
Cheng Pei-pei (Brothers Five)
Sihung Lung (The Touch)

The film is set in the Qing Dynasty during the 43rd year (1779) of the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) is an accomplished Wudang swordsman and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) is a female warrior and professional body guard. The death of Mu Bai’s closest friend and fiancée to Shu Lien complicate these characters’ feelings for one another. They are reconnected when Mu Bai , after choosing to relinquish the warrior lifestyle, asks Shu Lien to gift his sword “Green Destiny” to their friend Sir Te (Sihung Lung) in Beijing. Long ago, Mu Bai’s master was murdered by Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), a woman who sought to learn Wudang skills.
One evening, a masked thief sneaks into Sir Te’s estate and steals the sword. Mu Bai and Shu Lien trace the theft to Governor Yu’s compound and learn that Jade Fox has been posing as Jen’s governess for many years. Mu Bai makes the acquaintance of Inspector Tsai (Wang Deming), a police investigator from the provinces, and his daughter May (Li Li), who have come to Peking in pursuit of Fox. Fox challenges the pair and Sir Te’s servant Master Bo (Gao Xi’an) to a showdown that night. Following a protracted battle, the group is on the verge of defeat when Mu Bai arrives and outmaneuvers Fox. Before Mu Bai can kill Fox, the masked thief reappears and partners with Fox to fight. Fox resumes the fight and kills Tsai before fleeing with the thief (who is revealed to be Fox’s protégé, Jen). After seeing Jen fight Mu Bai, Fox realizes Jen had been secretly studying the Wudang manual and has surpassed her in combative skills.
At night, a desert bandit named Lo (Chang Chen) breaks into Jen’s bedroom and asks her to leave with him. A flashback reveals that in the past, when Governor Yu and his family were traveling in the western deserts, Lo and his bandits had raided Jen’s caravan and Lo had stolen her comb. She chased after him, following him to his desert cave seemingly in a quest to get her comb back. However, the pair soon fell passionately in love. Lo eventually convinced Jen to return to her family, though not before telling her a legend of a man who jumped off a cliff to make his wishes come true. Because the man’s heart was pure, he did not die. Lo came to Peking to persuade Jen not to go through with her arranged marriage. However, Jen refuses to leave with him. Later, Lo interrupts Jen’s wedding procession, begging her to come away with him. Nearby, Shu Lien and Mu Bai convince Lo to wait for Jen at Mount Wudang, where he will be safe from Jen’s family, who are furious with him. Jen runs away from her husband on the wedding night before the marriage could be consummated. Disguised in male clothing, she is accosted at an inn by a large group of warriors; armed with the Green Destiny and her own superior combat skills, she emerges victorious.
Jen visits Shu Lien, who tells her that Lo is waiting for her at Mount Wudang. After an angry dispute, the two women engage in a duel. Shu Lien is the superior fighter, but Jen wields the Green Destiny: the sword destroys each weapon that Shu Lien wields, until Shu Lien finally manages to defeat Jen with a broken sword. When Shu Lien shows mercy and lowers the sword, Jen injures Shu Lien’s arm. Mu Bai arrives and pursues Jen into a bamboo forest. Following a duel where Mu Bai regains possession of the Green Destiny, he decides to throw the sword over a waterfall. In pursuit, Jen dives into an adjoining river to retrieve the sword and is then rescued by Fox. Fox puts Jen into a drugged sleep and places her in a cavern; Mu Bai and Shu Lien discover her there. Fox suddenly reappears and attacks the others with poisoned darts. Mu Bai blocks the needles with his sword and avenges his master’s death by mortally wounding Fox, only to realize that one of the darts hit him in the neck. Fox dies, confessing that her goal had been to kill Jen because she was furious that Jen had hid the secrets of Wudang’s far superior fighting techniques from her.
As Jen exits to gather up an antidote for the poisoned dart, Mu Bai prepares to die. With his last breaths, he finally confesses his love for Shu Lien. He dies in her arms as Jen returns, too late to save him. The Green Destiny is returned to Sir Te. Jen later goes to Mount Wudang and spends one last night with Lo. The next morning, Lo finds Jen standing on a balcony overlooking the edge of the mountain. In an echo of the legend that they spoke about in the desert, she asks him to make a wish. He complies and wishes for them to be together again; back in the desert. Jen then suddenly leaps over the side of the mountain.Beautiful cinematography, an amazing soundtrack, moving performances from the whole castand some of the most breathtaking fight-scenes ever filmed. The first fight between Jen and Shu-Lien – the roof-type scene – is mesmerising. A movie classic for all ages

REVIEW: TMNT (2007)

 

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Evans (Caprain America)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Kevin Smith (Superman Doomsday)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ziyi Zhang (Hero)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Mitchell Whitfield (The Legend of Korra)
James Patrick Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Mikey Kelley (The Superhero Squad Show)
Nolan North (Pretty Little Liars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)

Image result for tmnt 2007Three thousand years ago, an Aztec warlord named Yaotl and his four generals discover a portal opening into a parallel universe which is said to have great power. Yaotl becomes immortal from the power, but his four generals were turned to stone. The portal releases 13 immortal monsters (such as the Bigfoot, the Centaur, Lethargo the Mapinguari, Aracknor the Jbafofi, Succubor the Popobawa, the Jersey Devil and the Sea Monster) that destroy his army as well as his enemies. In the present, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown apart. After defeating the Shredder, Master Splinter has sent Leonardo to Central America for training. Donatello works as an IT specialist, Michelangelo works as a birthday party entertainer called Cowabunga Carl and Raphael works at night as a vigilante nicknamed Nightwatcher. April O’Neil operates a company that locates and acquires relics for collectors with the help of her boyfriend, Casey Jones.
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During a business trip to Central America, April runs into Leonardo and tells him that the turtles have drifted apart. She returns to New York with a statue for her client, Max Winters, the richest man in the city. Upon arrival she calls Casey and tells him that she spoke to Leo and tells him that Leo’s not coming back. However a little later Leo does return, and April and Casey deliver the statue to Winters. Winters hires Karai and the Foot Clan to search the city for the thirteen beasts before the portal opens again. Raphael encounters Casey, who reveals his knowledge of Raphael’s double identity and joins him in hunting criminals.
Image result for tmnt 2007Winters, who is actually the still-immortal Yaotl, reanimates his generals with his company’s advanced technology, but they remain made of stone. Leo returns to the sewer, meeting Splinter. Splinter forbids the Turtles from fighting until they can act as a team again. While training, the Turtles encounter Bigfoot, one of the thirteen beasts battling the Foot Clan. The Turtles engage Bigfoot, going against Leo and Splinter’s orders. When Raphael visits Casey, they encounter Vampire Succubor and witness its capture by the Foot Clan and the Stone Generals, who spot them and knock Raphael unconscious. Casey takes him back to the apartment while April calls the Turtles for help and reveals the identities of Yaotl and his Generals. After being revived, Raphael suggests they pursue Yaotl, but Leo forbids him to go until Splinter gives out the order and so Raphael goes out to investigate alone as Nightwatcher.
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Leo, Donny and Mikey return to their sewer home to plan their next move, where Donny discovers the reopening of the portal will be directly over Winters’ skyscraper headquarters. Splinter informs Leo that his team is incomplete, and that he knows what he must do. After eleven monsters have been captured, General Aguila questions Yaotl’s actions. The Generals conspire betray Yaotl, wanting to remain immortal. Raphael encounters Jersey Devil, one of the remaining monsters but drives it off. Leo has been following him, wanting to put an end to the Nightwatcher’s vigilante acts, but when Raph is revealed, they battle. Raph breaks Leo’s twin swords and seems as though he is about to kill him but runs off instead. Immediately after Raph flees, the Generals ambush Leo, who is shot with a poison dart and too weak to fight them. Raph hears him scream in the distance as he’s taken hostage and doubles back in pursuit, but he fails to get there in time. He takes Leo’s broken swords back to Splinter and explains what happened.
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The Generals intend to substitute Leo for the thirteenth missing beast and Raphael decides to make amends for his past mistakes by rescuing Leo. As the portal opens, Yaotl discovers his Generals’ treachery, while Splinter and the Turtles, accompanied by Casey and April, fight their way through the Foot Clan cordon and breach the tower. Yaotl reveals the truth to the heroes: he wants to be free of his curse of immortality. The Generals reveal that they wish to preserve their immortality, but also to use the portal to bring in more monsters to conquer the world.
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Having refused to betray Yaotl in exchange for serving the Generals, April, Casey and the Foot Clan work together, searching for the final monster while the Turtles fight the Generals. Splinter and Yaotl fight off numerous monsters emerging from the portal. April, Casey and Karai arrive at the tower with the last monster, the Sea Monster. The Sea Monster crashes into the Generals, dragging them into the portal before it closes. Karai warns them to enjoy their victory while it lasts, claiming they will soon contend with a familiar foe, which the Turtles suspect to be the Shredder. She and the rest of the Foot Clan depart. Yaotl, now mortal, honors the Turtles and Splinter, thanking them with his dying breath for fulfilling his lifelong wish. Splinter places Yaotl’s helmet among his trophy collection, as well as Raphael’s Nightwatcher helmet and Michelangelo’s turtle costume, and the film ends with Raphael narrating that the Turtles will always be brothers.
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Taking cues from “Dark Crystal” and “Hellboy” for the finale, “TMNT” morphs into a non-stop action film that will surely delight children who need this sort of mayhem added to their Disneyfied diet every now and again. The conclusion hints at the return of an old enemy for the Turtles to battle, but a sequel was dropped in favor of the 2014 film.

REVIEW: THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX

CAST

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Jupiter Ascending)
David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher)
Daniel Brühl (Rush)
John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Aksel Hennie (Hercules)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Simon Pegg (Mission Possible: Rogue Nation)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)

 

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)In the near future, Earth is suffering from a global energy crisis. The collective space agencies of the world prepare to launch the Cloverfield Station for testing of the Shepard particle accelerator, which would provide Earth with infinite energy if it works, but pundits fear it will create the “Cloverfield Paradox”, opening portals to other dimensions and allow horrors from those to threaten Earth. Among the crew is Ava Hamilton, who frets about leaving her husband Michael, a doctor, for potentially many years. The two struggle with their relationship after losing their children to a house fire.John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)In orbit, the station crew fail to achieve success with Shepard for about two years but eventually achieve a seemingly-stable beam, but it then overloads and creates a power surge on the station. After restoring basic power, they find Earth has vanished from their view, along with the gyroscope that aids in navigation. As the crew work to repair the ship, strange events begin to occur. They rescue a woman, Jensen, fused with wires behind a panel. Volkov fears something crawling beneath his skin before he is compelled to craft a gun; before he can threaten the crew, his body convulses and ruptures, revealing the station’s colony of worms within him. Mundy’s arm gets pulled into a wall, and then severed clean off; they later find the arm moving on its own volition, and when they recognize that it is try to write something, they are led to dissect Volkov’s body and locate the missing gyroscope. They quickly discover Earth and realign their communications, but pick up mistaken transmissions that state that Cloverfield Station had been destroyed and fallen to Earth.Chris O'Dowd in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)They speak to Jensen and discover they are in an alternate dimension. In this one, Hamilton’s children had not died and she stayed on Earth as a civilian engineer, while Jensen had replaced Tam as the station’s engineer. They suspect that the Shepard device caused them to move into the new dimension, and reactivating Shepard will reverse that; Tam works out a means to then make Shepard work properly, but she is killed in a freak accident. The crew start working on repairs, while Hamilton decides to return with Jensen to Earth to be with her kids. As they prepare, Mundy is killed in an explosion caused by a strange magnetic field, which nearly tears the station in half. The station commander Kiel sacrifices himself to disengage a wildly-spinning accelerator ring from the station before it is destroyed, leaving Hamilton in charge.Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)Meanwhile, on Earth, Michael wakes up to discover a number of strange events happening across the planet, including witnessing the silhouette of a giant monster. On his way to offer his assistance at the local hospital, he stops to help a young girl named Molly. After learning that the hospital has been destroyed, he takes Molly to an underground shelter belonging to a friend and tends to her wounds.Daniel Brühl and Ziyi Zhang in The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)With Shepard ready to activate, Hamilton and Jensen prepare to leave, but Jensen suddenly knocks her out, uses the gun Volkov made to kill Monk and wound Schmidt, and insists that the station must stay in this dimension so they have access to the Shepard device. Regaining consciousness, Hamilton overpowers Jensen for the gun and shoots out a window, ejecting Jensen into space. Hamilton decides to return to their dimension with Schimdt, but makes a recording to herself in the alternate dimension, giving her the plans for the Shepard device, and stressing the importance of her family. Hamilton and Schimdt successfully reverse the dimension shift, and then make Tam’s modifications to engage Shepard properly to provide the energy source. The two, after reporting in, are then forced to evacuate, since they had sacrificed their life support systems to make the return trip to their dimension. As the evacuation shuttle breaks through the earth’s atmosphere, a giant monster comes up roaring through the clouds.Cloverfield is becoming a great outlet to tell really good Sci-Fi stories. Some of the best we have seen in a long time. Paradox adds to the mythos while also being its own movie. I can see from many of the reviews that this is not for everyone, I get that, but you can’t come in to these movies looking for answers, that’s not how the Cloverfield movies work. They present themselves and leave us to draw conclusions based on what we witnessed. An excellent addition to the Cloverfield franchise.