Tropic Thunder, Dr. Who Season 1, Red Cliff Reviews

I went to see Tropic Thunder because I wanted to laugh. Robert Downey Jr. plays a Australian actor who gets so deep into his characters he doesn’t know who he is any more. He thinks he’s a black man and has had his skin altered and “talks black”. This offends the hip hop star who also acts in this movie. Tom Cruise plays a puffed up movie exec. He has fake body hair and is almost unrecognizable. Jack Black is Jack Black and what a crazy funny guy he is. Nick Nolte plays a Vietnam Vet who writes a book about his experience. He is on location as an advisor. The filming is not going well. Ben Stiller, on the downside of his his action star career can’t cry and the pyronechnic guy decimates the forest when the camera isn’t running. To make things more real, they actors are dropped into the jungle without their cel phones and stumble on a drug running operation. Brando Soo Hoo plays the tough child leader of the drug runners. He is trained in Karate, Tae kwon do and Kung fu.

If you like vulgar humor that pokes fun at the movie industry and relationships, this is your movie. One does not have to dig deep for a cheap laugh.

Disc 3 of Dr. Who Season 1 came, and I am enjoying the series. I’m confused. Christopehr Eccleston is listed as the actor playing Dr. Who, but one IMDB David Tennant is listed as Dr. Who. Oh oh, I just read that he quit after one season and was replaced by David Tennant! There ought to be a law! David Tennant is Scottish. I will have to prepare for the switchover. At least I’ve been warned. I am enjoying this series…tongue in cheek humor, geek gadgets, zany monsters and time travel.

Red Cliffs is based on a book that can be downloaded at http://dw3k.com/newrotkebook/. It tells the story of 3 kingdoms and a battle at Red Cliffs. Cao Cao wants to rule all three kingdoms and has the largest army. His only motive is greed. He has put Liu Bei on the run and Liu Bei and Sun Quan for a truce to beat Cao Cao. They are still outnumbered, but have the love of their people, two very astute military strategists, and very loyal champion fighter generals on their side. When Cao Cao decides to attack from the sea, he is lured into fighting a land battle where he is defeated. Apparently there will be a sequel, because he doesn’t die, but comes back from the sea to fight the battle of Red Cliffs. John Woo directs an excellent cast. It is an interesting historical drama with good acting and great action shots. I will rate this one 3/5 acorns. Having very cute actors doesn’t hurt one bit (Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro)

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Cruel Winter Blues, Review

Two hit men mess up a hit and kill the wrong guy. The dead guys “family” seeks revenge and one of the hit men takes the fall for his friend. He does it because he has no family and the other guy has a mother, that visited them when they were in prison. Jae-moon goes after the man who kills his friend. He takes a new guy, Chi-guk with him to stake out the small town where the target’s, Dae-sik’s mother lives. Chi-guk is from that town and once was a Taekwondo instructor.

Jae-moon eats lunch at Dae-sik’s moms restaurant as it is the only restaurant in town. She takes him shopping and drinking with girls, and when he has the chance to kill Dae-sik he hesitates.

One thing he tells Chi-guk about being a ganster, is that when an order comes from the boss, the order must be obeyed, no matter what. Chi-guk appears morally conflicted about the life he has chosen.

Unless there is a sequel, the whole Taekwondo storyline goes nowhere.

Although not a greatest action flick, gangster flick or drama, this movie is still entertaining.

I will rate it 2.5/5 clives.

Atsuhime, Nakayama Shinchiro, and Throw Down reviews

Throw Down is a Chinese movie about Judo. I didn’t concentrate too much on the storyline as I was seaming a sweater, but here’s what I think happened. A young judo student comes in to town with the thought of challenging his hero to a match. That man has fallen on hard times and drinks a lot. It’s not explained too well why. Throw in the 3rd character, a women who is looking to “make it”, in acting or singing. A judo mentor who has a disabled son he takes care of dies in a duel and this is one factor in the alcoholic dude’s love of judo and honor coming back. I’m think the son must be autistic or an idiot savant, because he thinks he’s Sugata Sanshiro and can since in Japanese. But then I digress.

The high point of this movie are the judo matches. It’s a lot more like wrestling. I won’t rate this one.

Nakayama Shinchiro stars Raizo Ichikawa (best know for his role as Nemuri Kyoshiro (sleepy eyes of death). He plays a gambling man named Masakichi who vows to go straight when he falls in love and marries Oshima. However, his enemies conspire and the “boss” rapes Oshima and she kills herself in shame. Masakichi kills the boss and goes on the run.

He supports himself by gambling and he meets a young man who is trying to win enough money so he can get married. He is not a good gambler and borrows money from a loan shark. Masakichi, still haunted by is wif’es death, tries to help the young man and his wife, Onaka. Onaka looks just like Oshima. The loan shark falsifies the IOU and demands Onaka in exchange. Of course this is too much for Masakichi and he is the only one that can get them out of the mess they are in.

Raizo Ichikawa had a short life but made quite of few movies. I will give this one 3/5 acorns.

Atsuhime and her husband are able to reconcile their differences from last weeks episode and she vows to be true to her heart, in spite of all the intrigues and politicking around them. I feel anxious with every episode as the history books tell me she will be a widow after only about 5 years of marriage. She has come to adore her husband even though their relationship remains platonic.

Darn if I didn’t watch Legend of the Shadowless Sword again. I hate when I forgot I saw a movie before and rent it again. At least this one was fun. How could I forget the exploding men?

The Restless and Open City, Reviews

The Restless (Joong-cheon)

This Korean movie has some very stunning, beautiful scenes and great fighting. The high wire flying, though, doesn’t always work and was too much. Our hero, Yi-gwak, starts off looking a bit like Kibakichi with his tattered clothing and basket hat. He is down and out having lost his lover when she is accused of calling ghosts and executed. As she goes to her death, they vow to never forget their love for each other.

Yi-gwak is the real connection to the ghost world. In his glory days, he belonged to the Chuh-yong-dae, an elite force that fought evil demons. When the group is destroyed he is the lone survivor. He had refused to go on the mission, saying the timing was not good in disagreement with the leader.

So there you have it. Our down and out hero stumbles into Mid Heaven, a place where people go to wait 49 days before reincarnation. And who does he see there, but his old flame, who is now chuneen. Apparently she is a mid level deity who has no memory of her former life, including him. Well to me, that would be a deal breaker, but Yi-gwak persists with winsome looks and corny theme song, to try and jar her memory.

Meanwhile, his old boss, and some members of his former squad are trying to open the gate between the worlds of the the living and the dead. One of the members was jealous of him in their former life because he always felt he should have been promoted first, another was in love with Yi-gwak, and the brothers had idolized him, but of course are loyal to their chief. Yi-gwaks old girlfriend, has the key to the gate.

It seems all this drama would make for a great movie, and while there were moments of great beauty and action, it was all and all, trite. I will rate this one 2/5 acorns, no clives. I love the fantasy, the costumes and the fight scenes. The romance was corny, but the cheese factor was not very high.

Open City, (Mubangbi-dosi) stars Myeong-min Kim as Jo Dae-yeong, a detective, selected to be part of a force formed to target pickpockets. A new group of pickpockets is forming under the leadership of a woman, Baek Jang-mi, who flirts with our hero. She also tries to recruit his mom right out of prison, to be her “machine”. He has issues with mom, who was taken away to prison when he was a little squirt and we get glimpses of his sad face as she is being escorted away from the tenement they live in. He lives with his sister who is the only person he cares about. He can’t forgive mom. Mom has diabetes on top of that and has a hypoglycemic episode while living as a street person. She finallys succumbs to Jang-mi’s offer and takes money from her to start a noodle shop.

I still wonder why Korean policemen are often portrayed beating the crap out of people they arrest. I hope it is because it is felt that makes a more interesting movie. There are very few guns used in this movie. Almost everyone uses a knife or some other sharp, pointy object. I suspect it’s because Korea has more strict gun laws then the USA.

I will rate this one 2/5 acorns. There be blood as there be knives and gangsters who like to remove fingers.

Atshuhime, Domino Reviews

Here I sit writing this in spite of my “resolve” to turn off the computer today! Well, that was my resolve yesterday, too. Same with the healthy eating resolve. Yes, there is ice cream in my freezer! Thankfully it’s a finite quantity.

Atsuhime ended on a very happy note. Her crazy mother in law has it in for her as no baby is forthcoming (her husband’s choice is a platonic relationship) and Atsuhime got the shogun to invite the hated Yoshinobu to the first meeting with Harris, the US representative. She has conspired to keep Atsuhime and her husband Ieasada apart and both of them are unhappy. I cannot find much information about Ieasada, whether he was truly an imbecile, mentally ill or just emotionally crippled. They have come to care for each other. However Atsuhime’s mission to have Yoshinobu named as heir bodes ill for Ieasada’s trust in her.

Domino stars Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter. Her story is a fictionalized biography of a real life bounty hunter, Domino Harvey. It is directed by Tony Scott, brother to Ridley, who also directs/directed Numb3rs, Top Gun, The Hunger, Enemy of the State, and the Last Boy Scout.

Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter…I just had to see it. And there was Mickey Rourke who really does fit the part and a cutie pie Edgar Ramirez, as Choco.

Domino comes from a wealthy but dysfuntional family. Her mom, played very well by Jacqueline Bisset has made a living of marrying well. She tucks Domino in a boarding school. Domino never fits in to the the right jobs…modeling, sorority sister, student, but likes martial arts and guns. After her fish dies she resolves never to care about anything or anyone, as the investment leads to pain and suffering. She happens on a How to become a bounty hunter, class, run by some con men, but when she discovers their con, they choose to have her join them.

Christopher Walken decides to follow them for his reality show. Mafia types, a child with a blood disorder, small time hoods counterfeiting licenses and fraternity boys all get involved and the whole confusing story comes together in the end with a big boom!

Somehow Monique and Macy Gray were also stuck in this movie. They have a scene where they wear first lady masks. What a hoot.

I will rate this one 3/5 acorns. There is violence so maybe a bit of a clive.

The Ghost, review

The Ghost stars Ha-Neul Kim (My Tutor Friend) as a woman with amnesia stalked by a ghost. When she meets up with some high school friends, she discovers weird things have happened to some of her group. A couple have died and one is in the mental hospital. As she starts remembering her past she discovers that the person who she was is not who she wants to be. Her group was very cruel to a girl in high school. As she digs deeper to find out what happened to Su-in, things get pretty creepy.

I will rate this one 2/5 acorns. It was creepy in parts and had some twists, maybe too many. No clives

I love Maria, Crows Zero, Reviews

Life is good since retiring!

I Love Maria is a cheesy Chinese mecha movie. A gangster is creating a robot in the image of his number one girl. She will never fail him and live forever. The model for this robot is jealous and sets out to prove the real deal is better then the copy.

A scientist has developed a gun that is powerful enough to destroy the robots. He is fired so his boss won’t look bad. He runs into Whiskey in a bar. Whiskey is down and out and drinking heavily. These two eventually team up along with a newspaper man and the 3 of them soon have the robots, the gangster and the police after them.

This is a zany fun flick. I will rate it 3/5 acorns, no clives.

In Crows Zero, gangs vie for supremacy in a school where future Yakuza are trained. This movie is directed by Takashi Miike. Genji is the son of a Yakuza and his goal is to dethrone Serizawa who is the current top dog. He has to unite some other gangs to have enough power to do this. There are quite a few characters…a mediocre Yakuza who mentors Genji, Izaki cocky son of a rich guy, who gets the crap beat out of him, Tokaji who has a brain aneurysm and needs surgery but only has a 30% chance. The movie was fast action with hard rock sound track and some jpop. A fun flick without any deep messages. I will rate it 3/5 acorns, no clives.

The make up artist put red “blood” all around the actors mouths during the fight scenes. The soon looked like an army of zombies although there were none. I zombie or two wouldn’t have surprised me.

Death Trance, Review

Death Trance is a high flying, action flick set in and “unknown time and place”. You got yer samurai swords, yer monks, yer cute little girl in kimono in addition to motorcycles, demons the Goddess of destruction, and best all of yer spider ninjas! Oh and the sword that shoots bullets, and a naked guy curled up in the fetal position in a dream sequence.

A coffin gets stolen from the monks who have guarded if for years. Then send an apprentice out to get it back and arm him with a sword that he cannot draw. The sword will choose the right man. It seems at least 3 parties are actively seeking this coffin. A small, morose child follows the coffin, saying little. What is so important about this coffin? Who is the right man for the sword? What’s with that kid? Does she really eat people? Why does’t the coffin man stay dead? How many times must he be stabbed before he stays dead?

I watched the movie dubbed in English with the English subs on. The subs and the audio tract did not say the same things and that bothered me a bit. The audio made more sense then the subs.

I will give this 2.5/5 acorns. It’s no Versus, but fun anyway. Especially those spider ninja:)