Jungle (2017)

Director: Greg McLean

Writer: Justin Monjo (Screenplay) Yossi Ghinsberg (Book)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Thomas Kretschmann, Alex Russell, Joel Jackson, Lily Sullivan, Joel Jackson

 

Plot: A group of friends join a guide for a trek into the Bolivian jungle, searching for an Indian village. The men soon realize that the jungle is a difficult place to be.


Tagline – Nature Has Only One Law – Survival

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal Adventure Story

 

Story: Jungle starts as we follow Israeli young men Yossi Ghinsberg (Radcliffe) as he spends a planned year travelling, finding himself in Bolivia meeting Marcus (Jackson) and Kevin (Russell) two fellow travellers. When they meet guide Karl (Kretschmann) he offers to guide them through the jungle, which the three accept as an experience they couldn’t refuse.

When Marcus becomes injured and unable to walk, the group must find another way out of the jungle, which involve heading down the river on a raft. This causes the group to split up with Karl taking Marcus back by foot, while Yossi and Kevin head off further into the jungle. Once the friends hit some strong rapids, the two becomes separate and now Yossi is alone in the jungle.

 

Thoughts on Jungle

 

Characters – Yossi is the Israeli backpacker that in Bolivia heads off into the jungle with newly found friends, when he gets separated we follow his epic battle to survive the wilderness in the harsh environment where he must learn to survive. Kevin is the American photographer that joins on the adventure through the jungle hoping to get some breath-taking shots, he does get them but does find himself alone once he gets split up from the rest of the group. Karl is the guide that knows he way through the jungle, he takes the injured Marcus back to safety leaving the other two to fend for themselves.

PerformancesDaniel Radcliffe is fantastic in this leading role, he continues to push himself away from the Harry Potter films with another challenging role which pushed to the limits. We have a good supporting cast who all perform well, but they don’t get much time to be anything but good.

StoryThe story follows Yossi incredible story of survival when he got lost in the Bolivian jungle. It starts out as an innocent trip in the jungle, but soon turns into a nightmare, this is based on the book by Yossi, so, well you know how it is going to end, but seeing what he goes through is hellacious to say the least. If you want to see a story of one man’s desperate battle to survive then this one will be for you to enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action adventure side of the film shows just how much Yossi must do to survive the situation he finds himself in and just what he must do to survive.

SettingsThe film is set in the jungle, which makes perfect sense, we get to see just how real the experience would have been for Yossi, we even get the moments of beauty he was searching for.

Special EffectsWe have a mix of effects here, the practical ones that Radcliffe goes through, but the strange vision sequences don’t seem to click well enough.


Scene of the Movie –
Head Bug.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It needed more in the endurance.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that has a brilliant performance from Radcliffe who goes through a hell of a lot. It does feel slightly long in places though.

 

Overall: Radcliffe Shines.

Rating

 

 

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Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Dragon Eyes (2012)

Director: John Hyams

Writer: Tim Tori (Screenplay)

Starring: Cung Le, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Johnny Holmes, Peter Weller, Sam Medina

 

Plot: In St. Jude, drug dealers and corrupt cops have destroyed an urban neighborhood. But newcomer, Hong, has the fighting skills and moral vision to save this town from itself.


Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Action Film

 

Story: Dragon Eyes starts as Hong (Le) gets taken under the mentorship of Tiano (Van Damme) while in prison, once released he heads to St Jude, a rough neighbourhood with waring drug dealers who are destroying the lives of the innocent residents in the area.

Creating a war between the two sides, Hong finds himself targeted by the main kingpin between the two Mister V (Weller) who uses him to clean up the messes he has, but Hong wants to bring down the whole system which involves corrupt police and everything.

 

Thoughts on Dragon Eyes

 

Characters – Hong is a mysterious stranger that locates himself in the middle of the St Jude drug war, he rises up the ranks to make an impact on gangs becoming the go to man for Mister V, but he refuses to kill people and has been training for his own form of revenge. Tiano trained Hong in prison, he taught him how to handle himself in conflict which lets him go into battle against the gangs. Mister V runs the drug movement in the area, he has the police under his fingers and is willing to go to all ends to make sure his money continues to come in.

PerformancesCung Le handles the combat side of the film well, never looking out of place, but his dialogue delivery sometimes leaves something to the imagination. Van Damme is barely in the film, he is used in the flashbacks to learn the training. Peter Weller enjoys the villainous role which is the highlight of the storytelling of everything.

StoryThe story here plays out like one man sets to bring down the drug culture in a small town but not everything goes to the plan. The way the story is told does feel messy because it jumps between timelines making us unsure which is the current timeline, until we are well into the film. the story is just like you would expect a film based on the action to turn out like though.

Action/Crime The action in the film is good for entertainment because we have the action that never challenges the audience. The crime world we enter works too because we see how hopeless it feels for the people.

SettingsThe main setting in the film is St Jude, a drug filled crime area of town which needs cleaning up, this isn’t the worst, but it could be anything you want it to be in a location.


Scene of the Movie –
Final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The way the story is told.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough action movie, it ticks the boxes needed but never ends up looking as polished as it could have been.

 

Overall: Easy to watch.

Rating

 

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Death Warrant (1990)

Director: Deran Sarafian

Writer: David S Goyer (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robert Guillaume, Cynthia Gibb, George Dickerson, Art LaFleur, Patrick Kilpatrick

 

Plot: In a violent and corrupt prison, decorated cop Louis Burke must infiltrate the jail to find answers to a number of inside murders. What he finds is a struggle of life and death tied in to his own past.


Tagline – In “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” he won it all, now there are no rules, no escape, and NOBODY’S playing games!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Film

 

Story: Death Warrant starts as we meet the Canadian detective Louis Burke (Van Damme) who has tracked down serial killer The Sandman (Kilpatrick) who killed his partner. 16 months later Burke is assigned to go undercover inside a prison to solve a string of murders coming from within it.

Inside the prison Burke learns who to trust with Hawkins (Guillaume) being someone he wants to trust, the warden Sergeant DeGraf (LaFleur) having a strict rule through the prison and the gangs running the riots in shadows. Burke uses all his fighting skills to stay alive and solve the murders in a style only he could.

 

Thoughts on Death Warrant

 

Characters – Burke is the determined never say die attitude cop that gets assigned to go undercover in a prison to solve a series of murders happening inside. He must fight to survive against all enemies wanting to kill him. Hawkins is the ears to ground prisoner that Burke wants to work with, he has his own problems with the racial divide within the prison too. Amanda is the rookie agent that assigned to work with Burke from the outside, this is a big case for her and she learns a lot from working with Burke.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is the star of the film, we are only invested because we want to see him kick ass and he does that. The rest of the cast fit their roles which is good without any of them trying to out shine the star.

StoryThe story is a good simple story to follow, it is a cop going undercover to figure out who is behind a string of murders only to find himself uncovering something much bigger. We know the story isn’t going to be the main focus here which is fine, but it does give us enough time to keep guessing about where the film will end up going.

Action/Crime/MysteryVan Damme brings the action we want to see as he fights the countless amounts of enemies in search for the truth. There is a crime mystery to be solved but this can take the back burner to watching Van Damme fight.

SettingsVan Damme side of the story is inside the prison which is good as we see how he must doubt everyone on all sides, anything outside the prison does solve part of the mystery but is largely forgettable.


Scene of the Movie –
Burke versus the Sandman the final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We could have more focus on the crime story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical easy to watch Van Damme movie, lacking the story but is full of the action that entertains.

 

Overall: Easy to watch throughout.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Nic Pizzolato, Richard Wenk (Screenplay) Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard

 

Plot: Seven gunmen in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Remake

 

Story: The Magnificent Seven starts as we see how Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard) is terrorising a small village that he wants to mine for gold, the residents have 3-weeks to pay his demands. Emma Cullen (Bennett) leaves her town in search for men to help the town fight back, first port of call is warrant officer Chisolm (Washington) who looks to port together men.

The men recruited include hustler Josh Faraday (Pratt), outlaw Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), quick shot Billy Rocks (Lee), Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke) veteran soldier Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) and lone native American Red Harvest (Sensmeier). The men arrive in town and look to train the villagers for battle as they look to shut down Bartholomew’s group once and for all.

 

Thoughts on The Magnificent Seven

 

Characters – Chisolm is a warrant collector that gets recruited to protect the small town, we see how he can bring together the group of different backgrounds to unite them to fight for the right thing. Faraday is the hustler and usually the one ready for a joke. Goodnight Robicheaux is the legend in the field an expert marksman but still dealing with the consequences of what happened in the war. Jack Horne is the experienced soldier that will surprise his enemies. Billy Rocks is the knives expert that will kill you with a knife before you can get a shot off. Vasquez is the outlaw on the run but gets Chisolm off his back to join the tea, Red Harvest is a native American joining the team giving him a purpose in life after going away from his tribe. The seven don’t get too much character development outside of Chisolm, Faraday and Goodnight. Bartholomew Bogue is the villain of the piece, he will take what he wants not caring who he steps on to get rich.

PerformanceGoing into the performance we will only look at the bigger names, Denzel is as always, a great lead for any movie and fits his role, Chris Pratt is likewise because we all know he can be a joker. Ethan Hawke gets his reunion with Washington and the two show they have great screen chemistry together. Peter Sarsgaard does seem to be a go to guy for a villain role and you can believe him even if what we get is nothing overly fresh. The performances throughout the film are good from everyone involved.

StoryThe story is one that we know has been told before, be it in the original of the same name or even the original before that in Seven Samurai. Small village must recruit fighters to take on savages, that is the core of the story, I did like how this time we seem to get men from different backgrounds bringing their own styles to the fight. I did also find this one easier to follow than the 60’s one but I also don’t think this story goes quite as deep.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action is everything you have come to know about the action side of a western movie, plenty of shoot outs, while this is main just one giant one that last about 45 minutes, the adventure side comes from the training the characters in the village go through and how the 7 strangers unite to protect the town.

SettingsEach setting looks great and makes you feel like you are part of this world, without feeling out of place.

Scene of the Movie – One-eyed Jacks.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel the villain did better development.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to remakes we always get that one debate, did we need it? The answer I feel here is yes, the film need a makeover with a modern all-star cast with different cultural backgrounds and that all works here.

 

Overall: Enjoyable remake that could be enjoyed by the modern audience.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake – Magnificent Seven (1960)

Director: John Sturges

Writer: William Roberts (Screenplay)

Starring: Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn

 

Plot: An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Americanised Remake

 

Story: The Magnificent Seven starts as the small Mexican town gets visited and raided by Calvera (Wallach) and his men, they promise to back again for more too. Worried about the future of their village the town goes in search for a defence against the raiders and find seven cowboys, Chris Adams (Brynner), Vin Tanner (McQueen), Chico (Buchholz), Bernardo O’Reilly (Bronson), Lee (Vaughn) Harry Luck (Dexter) and Britt (Coburn) who all come for different reasons.

The gunmen set up a defensive line ready to do battle as the town is ready to go to battle against the Calvera and his men, who will come out on top in this battle to protect a small town.

 

Thoughts on The Magnificent Seven

 

Characters/PerformanceThe seven gunmen all have different reasons for going to this town, but the one thing they all have in common if just how deadly they are with a weapon which is the most important characteristic needed for our characters. Calvera is the villain of the piece and easily a great by the book villain needed for this film.

Performance wise, instead of going through all the actors it would be fair to say each and every one of the cast does a great job in the roles they are playing.

StoryThe story one a small group of gunmen protecting a small town from raiders is a remake of the Seven Samurai, which was one of the most popular films ever made. This version brings the story to the American audience dealing with the cowboys battles which does work but doesn’t change the formula to make anything complicated for the audience.

Action/Adventure/WesternThe action is all big cowboy style which works for the film, the music adds to the adventure side of the film which is fun through a situation that is darker. The western theme also works because it makes it easy to relate to for the American audience.

SettingsThe settings are simple but effective for the film as we know we will be in the old west for this battle.

Final ThoughtsThis is yet another classic film that took me time to watch and it gave us a mega cast of big names, simple to follow story and a western worth watching.

 

Overall: Classic western fun.

Rating