Mulan (2020) Movie Review

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Rich Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek (Screenplay)

Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Tzi Ma

Plot: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan.’

Tagline – Loyal, Brave, True.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Mulan starts as Bori Khan (Lee) looks to start a new war on the Emperor (Li), which sees the Emperor demand one male from every family to come forward and fight for China. Mulan (Liu) the eldest daughter of Zhou (Ma) disguises herself as a male soldier to represent her family in battle.

Mulan joins the forces under Commander Tung (Yen) who looks to bring out the best in her abilities, the abilities which could well be the difference in the war.


Thoughts on Mulan

Characters – Mulan grew up with a sense of adventure, she never wanted to follow the traditions of village, she wanted to become a warrior like her father, being a woman meant she wasn’t allowed to enter this world, but when it came to her family needing to send a male to war, she pretends to be a man to fight for the honour of her family, for her country, proving to be one of the deadliest warriors in the war. Commander Tung is assigned to lead the honour of China’s imperial army putting together the troops, following the rules of creating the fiercest male soldiers. Xianniang is the witch fighting against the Emperor, she sees the power in Mulan and wants to help her become the warrior she was destine to become, even if it meant they would fight on opposite sides of the battle. The Emperor is the leader of China, he needs to put together an army to protect the people from a vengeful threat. Bori Khan saw his father killed in the hands the Emperor, now he has built an army to take control of China at any price, bringing together other fallen soldiers to make his army feared and dangerous, with a witch leading their moves.

PerformancesYifei Liu in the leading role is great to watch, the handling of the conflict scenes, the undercover scenes and fighting against outdated traditions comes strong from her performance. Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee and Tzi Ma bring the male leads to life with their own style you would have come to expect to see in them. Li Gong brings us the colourful witch who wanted change to life.

StoryThe story here follows a young Chinese woman Mulan that defies the rules of her homeland to become a warrior that will look to fight for the dynasty to save the Emperor. This is a remake that does bring the animated favourite to life, losing a lot of the fantasy elements, focusing on the Mulan, a woman looking to defy the traditions to defend her homeland and family honour. This does show that traditions can be broken to make something big happen in life, break traditions to start new ones. While this does show the change happening, it still comes off very safe, with the villainous character not looking like a truly terrifying figure, not showing enough of what they are trying to fight for in their battles.

Action/AdventureThe action scenes are big, while they do have a couple of strange camera angles, while the massive battle scenes don’t bring anything new to the game.

SettingsThe film looks visually beautiful landscapes for the scenes, with discovery location that Mulan visits to be alone being a place of true beauty.

Scene of the Movie – Avalanche attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Bori Khan doesn’t feel like the threat he is implied to be.

Final Thoughts This is a beautiful Disney Live Action Remake that brings to life the characters in a way that feel most natural from the animated one.

Hard Kill (2020) Movie Review

Director: Matt Eskandari

Writer: Nikolai From, Clayton Haugen, Chris LaMont, Joe Russo (Screenplay)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jesse Metcalfe, Sergio Rizzuto, Tyler Jon Olson, Natalie Eva Marie, Texas Battle, Lala Kent

Plot: The work of billionaire tech CEO Donovan Chalmers is so valuable that he hires mercenaries to protect it, and a terrorist group kidnaps his daughter just to get it.

Tagline – Take on a Madman. Save the World.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Action 101

Story: Hard Kill starts when a group of mercenaries led by Miller (Netcalfe), Sasha (Marie), Dash (Temmel) and Harrison are recruited by Fox (Battle) to provide a defence for billionaire Chalmers (Willis) whose technology has gotten into the hands of dangerous terrorist The Pardoner (Rizzuto) who has already shown the damage it can cause.

The Pardoner has taken Chalmers daughter Ana (Kent), he has arranged a meeting, which is why he has hired the team, who are outgunned, outnumbered and under prepared for a battle against a known terrorist, they must use their skills to make it out alive.

Thoughts on Hard Kill

Characters – Miller is the leader of the unit of mercenaries, he is known for his loyalty to his team, getting the job done and for having history with the Pardoner, he talks his team into this one big pay day with one rule, he knows everything going on. Strong leader, tough in battle, he knows how to stay ahead of the game. Chalmers is the ex-soldier turned tech billionaire whose latest creation can have devasting consequences, it is in the hands of terrorists, only he has the code, while they have his daughter, he hires the team to get his daughter back and protect him. The Pardoner is a known terrorist that has been waiting for his chance to bring in his vision of a new world order, he has Ava and will use her to make a deal to get the passcode to give him ability for destruction. We do have the rest of Miller’s team, which fill the military side of the film, Fox being the middle man between Miller and Chalmers, along with Ava the daughter of Chalmers who is the visionary behind the device that was designed for good.

PerformancesBruce Willis is back in another low budget action film, while he does do better than most of the more recent ones, he never hits the levels we know he can. Jesse Metcalfe handles most of the heavy lifting in this film, showing the leadership skills and military character well. Sergio Rizzuto does get some strong scenes as the villain, he will get to feel like a threat, only we don’t get to see enough of combat threat.

StoryThe story here gets to see a group of mercenaries that as hired to protect a tech billionaire and retrieve his daughter from known deadly terrorist. The story can be broken down to be simple enough, terrorist wants information to show their true threat to the world, which will involved a military team needing to go against the odds to defeat them, with a couple of twists thrown in along the way. The idea of some form of technology that could change the world for the better, being turned into a weapon is what we know well and is used too often. This doesn’t re-invent the wheel, keeping things simple and entertainment.

ActionThe action is in the film is by the book, with gun shots flying around and military takedowns, not always shot the best way though.

SettingsThe film is set in an abandoned warehouse, it is a tactical nightmare, it keeps the action contained, with the job being keep someone safe in the location, while people are trying to get in.

Scene of the Movie – The unit meet and great.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing fresh in action.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book action film that can be enjoyed later at night, it is one of Willis’ better recent pile of action films, but still nowhere near his very best.

Overall: Late Night Action 101.

Hard Kill will be available for Digital Download from 14th September

ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – D – Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) Movie Rob’s Pick

Head Over to Movie Rob’s Site for more Reviews

“Oh, come on! The dog is running the whole house! ” – Dave Whiteman

Number of Times Seen – 1 (3 Sep 2020)

Brief Synopsis – A down on his luck homeless man tries to commit suicide in the pool of a wealthy family and forms a bond with them after he is saved.

My Take on it – This is a movie that I’ve known about ever since it first came out 34 years ago, yet never had much of a desire to see what it was all about.

This month’s theme helped me decide to finally tackle the movie and see if my instincts were correct to avoid it for so many years.

The overall premise is definitely intriguing, yet they never manage to finds a way to keep things flowing more fluidly.

The film sports a great cast with Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler all doing nice jobs here, but even they can’t help make things more enjoyable to watch.

The main premise of the story is that social classes are all based solely on perception an one can easily move between them when needed.

The story itself moves along and a fairly good pace, yet constantly brings up some very strange aspects of the story which take away from things too much.

This does allow the characters to actually do some very crazy things but it all comes across quite uneven with some of the aspects working so much better than other ones.

The story itself is a bit too inconsistent and it therefore has a lot of trouble holding the audience’s attention for too long at a time.

The final third of the film works too hard to put things together far too neatly which hurts the credibility and reliability of things whole also detracting from the believably of it all.

Bottom Line – Intriguing idea that just doesn’t work well enough, The cast is great and they do a nice job of showing that there really isn’t much of difference between the social classes. The story moves in some very strange directions and this allows the characters to all do some very crazy things; some work much better than others tho. The story unfortunately doesn’t manage to hold on to things very well, and it all fits together much too neatly by the end to seem believable enough.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Nick Nolte spent five weeks as a homeless person in preparation for his role. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)

ABC Film Challenge – 80s – D – DeepStar Six (1989)

Director: Sean S Cunningham

Writer: Lewis Abernathy, Geof Miller (Screenplay)

Starring: Taurean Blacque, Nancy Everhard, Greg Evigan, Miguel Ferrer, Nia Peeples, Matt McCoy, Cindy Pickett

Plot: At the bottom of the ocean, the DeepStar Six has just discovered a new and deadly alien menace.

Tagline – Six miles below the surface of the ocean, something beyond your imagination will scare the hell out of you.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Standard TV Level Sci-Fi

Story: DeepStar Six starts as an underwater contracting team in the ship with the title in its name are digging for missile silos, with the contract running out, they are being forced into blowing a hole in unstable surface at the bottom of the ocean, Captain Laidlaw (Blacque) agrees to the job, with Joyce Collins (Everhard) running the operation.

When the explosion seems to release something unknown, one of the subs goes missing, while another one comes under attack, it turns into a rescue mission for the crew as they need to survive an attack from a deadly enemy from the deep.

Thoughts on DeepStar Six

Characters – Laidlaw is the captain of the crew, he keeps the deadlines running, while wanting to put his team first, he will lead the investigation into what is happening and isn’t going to let them get injured for their actions. Joyce Collins leads the scientific side of the job, she is here to question decisions for safety, even if she doesn’t always getting given the same respect back from the rest of the crew. McBride is the confident member of the team, he believes he can have any woman too which shows him needing to make the difficult life decision during the rescue mission. Snyder is the member of the team that doesn’t want to still be on the team, he believes he has done his time and when things start going wrong he hits the panic button.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are basic at best, each actor does see them get their moment to shine with most of them usually performing before their big death scene, Miguel Ferrer is the exception to this rule, with his performance that is the highlight of the acting.

StoryThe story here follows a group of underwater engineers building missile silos for the military that accidently release an unknown life form that isn’t happy about being disturbed and wants to kill them, which sees them racing to find a way to the surface without injuring themselves through decompression. This story does feel like a low budget version of ‘The Abyss’ which is easy to see with just how the everything unfolds, the characters having the same kind of arc, with this having a horror side, rather than a mystery side with the unknown lifeform. This does fit into the 80s styles of story telling and production which is all simple and enjoyable to watch.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action is mostly the group screaming when they get attacked by the creature, it isn’t very intense which does disappoint for the most part, this goes for the horror too, which just never gets past the weak creature style, even if the sci-fi side of the film does want to become much more of a central point of the film.

SettingsWith most of this film being set underwater, it does give the film a contained environment for the film when it comes to the race to survive.

Special EffectsWe do go into practical effects here which should be praised, even if it is mainly just a creature wobbling around all over the screen.

Scene of the Movie – Decompression mistake.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The characters aren’t very interesting.

Final Thoughts This is one of the attempts to copy a much more popular film, by putting characters in the similar environment only with a horror twist to everything.

Overall: Simple Sci-Fi