ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Y – Fearless (2006)

Director: Ronny Yu

Writer: Chris Chow, Chi-long To (Screenplay)

Starring: Jet Li, Li Sun, Yong Dong, Yun Qu, Ailiing Xu, Collin Chou, Hee Ching Paw

 

Plot: A biography of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia, who is the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.


Tagline – “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself makes you fearless.”

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Packed Biopic

 

Story: Fearless starts in Shanghai 1910, four countries have bought their best fighters for one tournament, Huo Yuanjia (Li) is the Chinese representative. We see how he went from small child wanting to learn, to become the best in his town, proving himself against every single competitor.

Master Huo became the best until he lost everything putting him in a lost state where he finds himself in a small farming community living with a blind woman Moon (Sun) as he looks to find his love for life again before returning to prove himself in combat.

 

Thoughts on Fearless

 

Characters – Huo Yuanjia is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest fighter of all time in China, he didn’t have it easy though, he fought to become the best before losing everything, being talked into proving himself once again to be the best in the world. Moon is the lady that helps Huo turn his life around, a blind woman that has no judgement on his action only his work. Anno is the biggest rival to Huo one that is also a friend too, the two have learnt to fight together and soon become the best of enemies.

PerformancesJet Li is the complete star of this film, he is involved in the different time periods we follow and we get to see just how deadly he is in the combat with anybody that gets in his way, he keeps the character feeling grounded which is needed for the story being told. As for the supporting cast everyone makes their impact when required too.

StoryThe story follows the life of Huo Yuanjia as he started in a fighting school at a young age became the best before losing everything only to return with a new lust for life to become one of the mot respected fighters the world has ever seen giving Jin Wu Sport Federation something to stand for. This is a by the books redemption story for the character, he doesn’t break the law, he just becomes over confident which is why he lost everything, he continued to prove himself to the top of his game despite creating enemies. Where this film does fall slightly short is in the number of different times we follow with some not getting enough time to show the events with the bet impact.

Action/BiopicThe action is fights, Jet Li is one of the best in the world at the fight sequences, this was no different as he shows us just how to make fights feel edge of your seat. The biopic side of the film does show the like of Huo only it doesn’t give each chapter the time required.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to represent the different positions that Huo finds himself in life, we see how he has risen, fallen and fought his way through the different locations he finds himself in.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain chapters don’t get enough time.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action packed biopic that does show the life of one of the greatest fighters the world ever saw.

 

Overall: Action heavy biopic.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – V – Viking (2016)

Director: Andrey Kravchuk

Writer: Andrey Kravchuk, Johan Melin, Andrey Rubanov, Viktor Smirnov (Screenplay)

Starring: Danila Kozlovsky, Aleksandr Ustyugov, Kirill Pletnyov, Maksim Sukhanov

 

Plot: Kievan Rus, late 10th century. After the death of his father, the young Viking prince Vladimir of Novgorod is forced into exile across the frozen sea.


Tagline – “Istoriya eto simptom. Diagnoz eto my” (“History is a symptom. The diagnosis is us”)

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Much to Process

 

Story: Viking starts as three brothers rule different kingdoms under the Russia we follow the youngest Vladimir (Kozlovsky) who is trying to end the war between them after being exiled to the frozen land of Novgorod. Completing his quest, he will need to come across new enemies, while old enemies are waiting in the wings for his weaknesses to be exposed.

 

Thoughts on Viking

 

Characters – Vladimir is the youngster son of the king, he gets the weakest area to rule, but isn’t going to let that stop him taking control of the area, he proves to be a strong leader one that is fair and will look after his people. When it comes to the rest of the characters it was hard to figure out who to focus on, because as soon as one looked like they were going to be important, they seemed to get killed.

PerformancesThe performances suffer because of the issues with the characters not being given the focus they require in the film, it is too hard for the audience to know who they should be following in this film.

StoryThe story seems to focus on Vladimir the youngest son of the rule of Russia, whom after his death gets given part of the land to defend, we watch his rise to try and claim his crown as the rule of Russia as he takes on enemies from all over the land including his own blood. The story telling process is difficult to keep up with as we do seem to meet group one get slightly invested in these character, but nope they get killed leaving us wondering just who we are meant to be supporting through the film.

Action/History/WarThe action is plenty of battle sequences, each one getting bigger, bloodier and deadlier as the film unfolds. The history, well I don’t know how accurate any of it is, most of that would involve research and the war side of the film shows us the different strategies adopted during the 10th century.

SettingsThe film shows us the settings that will keep us believing we are in the time the film is set, it keeps the battles feeling down and dirty which is how you would imagine them happening.


Scene of the Movie –
The hiding escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters introduced for nothing.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly complicated movie that is trying to tell a massive story only for it to end up not given enough time for most of the characters to develop or unfold.

 

Overall: Too long and dull

Rating

 

 

Breaking In (2018)

Director: James McTeigue

Writer: Ryan Engle (Screenplay) Jaime Primak Sullivan (Story)

Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Seth Carr, Mark Furze

 

Plot: A woman fights to protect her family during a home invasion


Tagline – Payback is a Mother

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Home Invasion Film

 

Story: Breaking In starts when Shaun Russell (Union) takes her children Jasmine (Alexus) and Glover (Carr) to her father’s estate after his death, the weekend is meant to be to prepare the house for sale. The weekend takes a dark twist when four thieves Eddie (Burke), Duncan (Cabral), Sam (Meaden) and Peter (Furze) have broken in, searching for a secret safe.

With Shaun locked out and her children being held captive by the thieves, she will do anything to save her children, not caring what the men want, this does become a battle of a mother that will do anything versus thieves that won’t stop for anything.

 

Thoughts on Breaking In

 

Characters – Shaun is a mother of two children that is tidying up the affairs of her late father, she thinks her weekend will just be tidying up his house, but she soon shows that she has a few skills picked up from her father, she will play a cat-n-mouse game with a group of thieves that are holding her children hostage, Shaun will prove herself as somebody smarter than the thieves, showing a mother’s love will overcome any plan. Eddie is the leader of the thieves, he remains calm and in control, even if his men can get out of hand, he only wants the money, getting pushed into difficult decisions. Duncan is the loose cannon of the thieves, he doesn’t want to leave any witnesses to the crime they are committing. Jasmine is the eldest daughter that needs to protect her little brother from the situation, even if the two have a bickering relationship.

PerformancesGabrielle Union in the leading role is great, she brings us a strong powerful mother that isn’t going to let any man take advantage of her family. Billy Burke does bring the required calmness to his character which is everything needed, with Richard Cabral bring his own unhinged character to life to just about step away from the generic normal one. Ajiona Alexus and Seth Carr fill the children roles which in the works very well as they feel like they could easily be brother and sister.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that will do anything to get her children to safety after their home gets invaded by a group of criminals searching for money. This is a home invasion film, it doesn’t need to break away from the normal in anyway, we know the formula, with this one putting the spin on the mother being separated from her children, we have the discussion of power between the criminals and mother, which is an important scene. We see how the mother might have a few more tricks up her sleeves that first thought. This is everything you expect without needing to make anything complicated, making it an easy watch.

Action/Crime The action is restricted because of the separation between the characters, but when we need it, we get action we need, the crime story does follow how the thieves operate, though we don’t learn everything about the father’s situation in the criminal world.

SettingsThe film is set in one location which is the house that has the ability to hold people out or keep people in, this helps build the battle between mother and thieves.


Scene of the Movie –
Losing control.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not truly learning about the Shaun’s father previous life as a criminal.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book home invasion film, it does give us plenty of entertainment and is above the average in the sub-genre.

 

Overall: Home invasion above the rest.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – T – The Tiger: An Old Hunter’s Tale (2015)

Director: Hoon-Jung Park

Writer: Hoon-Jung Park (Screenplay)

Starring: Min-sik Choi, Man-sik Jeong, Sang-ho Kim, Eun-woo Le, Ren Osugi

 

Plot: While the Kingdom of Korea is under occupation by the Japanese, an old and experienced hunter is challenged by the hunt of the last tiger.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult Watch

 

Story: The Tiger: An Old Hunter’s Tale starts as we see how the Japanese have taken part of Korea, the soldiers are being killed off in the forest though, not by people, but by tigers. Goo-gyeong (Jeong) is charged with taking a team to hunt down the tigers.

Facing a tiger smarter than they had come up against before, the task falls on lone hunter Chun Man-duk (Choi) a hunter with decades of experience who has countless kills to his name to free his son.

 

Thoughts on The Tiger: An Old Hunter’s Tale

 

Characters – Chun Man-duk is a brilliant hunter, he knows the forest and will catch anything he sets his mind too, he has respect and will not resort to traps to capture the animals. Goo-gyeong is the man tasked with tracking down the tigers, he uses the traps and catches all bar the alpha that uses its intelligence to stay ahead of hunter. He puts countless lives at risk to capture this tiger.

PerformancesMin-sik Choi seems to be an actor I am watching a lot recently, he is a wonderfully talented actor and h shows his range he once again. Man-sik Jeong is also great at the military man leading a hunt with no remorse.

StoryThis story follows the battle between men and a tiger during war time, we follow to hunters, one that uses the dirty tricks, while the other does things with honour. The tiger itself is out for revenge on the people that kill his family. While this is difficult to watch because it is solely based on hunting an animal down, it does try to play into the idea that the mountain will choose who lives and who dies. We get the connection between the tiger and the hunters, which at times comes of a respect and other times pure hatred towards each other.

Action/Adventure/HistoryThe action sequences when tackling the tiger killing as many men as possible are brutal to watch and seem close to the bear scene in the Revenant. The history of this film comes into question as, you are left to wonder if this is based on the real events.

SettingsThe mountain setting shows us the scale of the land the tiger could be roaming in, it is filled with beauty and peril around every corner.

Special EffectsThe effects are the hardest part of this film, you couldn’t really have a real tiger for this and the CGI job is difficult and you can tell.


Scene of the Movie –
Tiger rampage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The hunting sequences are hard to watch.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beauty story even if it is difficult to watch, showing man and animal can leave next to each other in peace, but war tries to take this away from them.

 

Overall: Thought Provoking movie

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014)

Director: Andrew Lau

Writer: Michael Di Jiacomo, Andrew Loo (Screenplay)

Starring: Justin Chon, Kevin Wu, Harry Shum jr, Eugenia Yuan, Leonard Wu, Jin Au-Yeung

 

Plot: Two best friends rise through the ranks of New York’s Chinese underworld in the 1980s.


Tagline – The true story of New York’s most notorious street gang.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Crime Drama

 

Story: Revenge of the Green Dragons starts as we follow the two young boys that immigrated from China to America and New York City, in a neighbourhood that is run by the Chinese gang known as the Green Dragons.

Recruited at a young age Sonny (Chon) and Steven (Wu) have grown up as part of the Green Dragons under the leadership of Paul (Shum Jr) a businessman that uses the gang to get what he wants. We get to see how the two rise through the ranks in the Green Dragons that even grabs the attention of the FBI.

 

Thoughts on Revenge of the Green Dragons

 

Characters – Sonny is the quieter of the two friends that gets taken in by the gang, he is the one that would like a life outside the gang which isn’t as easy as it seems, even when he falls in love. Steven was built for the gang, even after he gets seriously injured in the battle between the gangs, he becomes the one that won’t hesitant to pull the trigger. Paul is the leader of the Green Dragons, a businessman on the outside, that uses his intelligence to make sure he can stay ahead of the game in the gang battle.

PerformancesThe performances in this movie are fine, nothing is great or bad, we get to see the different ranges of emotions that the two friends must face during their decisions. We don’t have any of the performances that stand out though.

StoryThe story follows the gangster storylines we have seen before, two young men or in this case boys get recruited to a rising gang to become big players in their gang in a war against another gang, until they step out of line. This time we follow Chinese immigrants in New York and it shows how they would never hold back on anybody of any age or gender. This does give us a brutality in the story, but in the end it is just more of the same.

Action/CrimeThe action is just gun battles and brutality to the people who get in the way of the crimes being committed by the Green Dragons, as we see how they try to stay off the radar while conducting their business

SettingsNew York will always be a great choice for settings for crime movies, this is unlike any other showing us how gangs had neighbourhoods and always want more.


Scene of the Movie –
Put the gun down, it brings a clever kill.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It offered nothing new to the genre.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book crime movie, it shows the rise of two in a gang and just where they would go onto be in the gang, but otherwise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before.

 

Overall: Been Here Seen This.

Rating