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

 

 

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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

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Director: Marcos Efron

Writer: Jennifer Derwingson, Marcos Efron (Screenplay) Brian Clemens, Terry Nation (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Amber Heard, Odette Annable, Karl Urban, Adriana Barraza, Cesar Vianco

 

Plot: When two American girls on a bike trip in a remote part of Argentina split up and one of them goes missing, the other must find her before her worst fears are realized.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid But Nothing Special Remake

 

Story: And Soon the Darkness starts as we meet our two American girls Stephanie (Heard) and Ellie (Annable) travelling through Argentina, they are on their last night there and decide to party. When Ellie hooks up with a local, Stephanie returns to the hotel alone even after a warning from another out of towner Michael (Urban).

With the morning arriving the girls miss the only bus out of town, meaning they must stay for one more day which they spend sunbathing and recovering from the hangover. After Ellie is abducted, Stephanie must work with Michael to locate her so they can leave but soon they will be left fighting for their lives.

 

Thoughts on And Soon the Darkness

 

Characters/PerformanceStephanie is one of the travellers who is using the trip to get over her cheating boyfriend, she wants to experience the sights while Ellie the supportive best friend would like to part her way through the holiday, leading herself to get into trouble. Michael is the mysterious stranger that keeps popping up in Stephanie’s day and we are left wondering just who and what he wants in this town.

Performance wise, Amber Heard shows that at this time she was solid enough choice for leading role but not the strongest, Odette Annable is also fine but her character does come off as annoying and naïve at times. Karl Urban is great as the mysterious stranger that grabs our attention whenever he is on screen.

StoryTwo American girls find themselves in a new country, a new town where nothing seems safe and soon they learn about what has been happening. The story is simple and with where the characters could end up going we get to learn the horror side of everything going on to our Americans. This isn’t the hardest to follow and is in fact a remake of a British film and sure it works in places but isn’t ground breaking.

Crime/Horror/Mystery The crime, horror and mystery all blend together nicely here as we learn what is going on which is crime based and this adds to the horror being unleashed in the film.

SettingsArgentina is a beautiful setting and heading to a remote smaller town where the events have been taking place in, this does work because of who is involved in everything going on.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed but we mostly used for the conflict between the characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough horror remake but does lack that punch that could make it feel edgy, gritty and terrifying like it could have been.

 

Overall: Solid remake in the horror world.

Rating

 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh (Screenplay)

Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas hedges, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones

 

Plot: A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.


Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Darkly Humorous

 

Story: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starts as Mildred Hayes (McDormand) puts up three billboards in a quiet road questioning how Willoughby (Harrelson) hasn’t solved the case of her daughter’s rape and murder. Fellow officer Dixon (Rockwell) who has a chequered past is enraged by the signs, while officer Willoughby tries to clean up the situation and prove there isn’t enough to solve the case, but with his dying he does want to solve the case before he goes.

As the billboards stay up longer, the town starts to become divided on the support in catching the killer and Mildred does to extremes in her battle with Dixon to get the case solved.

 

Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

Characters – Mildred Hayes is a mother that has run out of patience when it comes to the police finding the killer off her daughter, she did have the full support of the town, but this stunt pushes the people away even if it could get her the killer to identify themselves. Willoughby is the lead investigator in the case, he has done everything he could to solve the case, but he is now facing his own battle with cancer, while keeping the peace in the town. Dixon is the hot-headed police officer that clashes with Mildred and anyone who supports her in finding out the truth.

PerformancesFrances McDormand shows us that she can reach the Fargo levels whenever the material is given to her, as she shines through as the best part of this movie. Woody Harrelson is great again this year, showing us he can step into any role and be great. Sam Rockwell is wonderful too as we see that this cast is filled with talent character performers.

StoryThe story shows the extremes of losing a child, the stress of noting being able to solve one of the worst cases in the town. This does turn into a character studio on the people involved and how their lives need to move on without a chance of every being able to. It is hard to describe this story in much more depth because it is interesting, it does have a lot going on that keeps us wanting to see where the film will go.

Comedy/CrimeThis does use dark humour throughout as we are seeing the effects of the crime on people’s lives, don’t expect to see an investigation though, we are focusing on the relationship between the mother of the victim and the police.

SettingsThe film takes place in this small town where everyone seems to know everyone, so they have all felt the effects of the crime, this helps when things start to get exposed.


Scene of the Movie –
Window smashing, it is a well shot single looking take.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The answer is frustrating.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dark humour that can be enjoyed by the fans of that genre, it does have a good subject matter but doesn’t get to a level in the story that I enjoyed watching.

 

Overall: Dark comedy through a serious subject matter.

Rating

 

 

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Director: Alan Parker

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Difficult to Watch but Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Mississippi Burning starts by taking us to 1964 Mississippi where we see a group of civil rights activates executed on the road. Agent Rupert Anderson (Hackman) and Agent Alan Ward (Dafoe) get assigned to the case where they must work with local Sheriff Ray Stuckey (Sartain).

In the middle of the racial tension the colour divide is still strong here with the Ku Klux Klan ruling the neighbourhood, Agent Ward is open to anyone for information, race isn’t an issue for him, Agent Anderson is similar but also knows how to handle the tension by being more discreet. When the agents find themselves targeted the inexperience Ward calls for more agents starting a full task force in the town as they search for the missing civil rights activists.

The case becomes difficult to investigate for the agents as they find themselves being shunned by both races but also needing to investigate the law in the town as they look for the answers to this case.

 

Thoughts on Mississippi Burning

 

Characters/PerformanceAgent Rupert Anderson is an experienced FBI agent that knows how to deal with racial tension in towns and knows how to get people to talk. He gets frustrated having to work under Ward as he feels like he knows how to work this case better. Agent Alan Ward comes into this case with no experience in the field, he is used to everyone being treated equal and takes time to learn that his by the book methods aren’t going to get the answers required. He does learn from Anderson as the case continues and the two make a brilliant team. Mrs Pell is one of the most important witnesses in the case but it is whether she can be honest about her husband’s Deputy Pell’s where about. Nearly all of the white authority characters are suspects in this film, we literally just don’t know who is the leader but they are all single minded in their cause.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are fantastic together in this film, you can see in their performances the difference in characters but not in motives. Frances McDormand is also great through the supporting role and the cast is filled with stars that show their skills.

StoryThe story is based on a real event that happened, so you would have to be sensitive when considering this story too much. The truth is shown to us what the biggest problem in American modern history, the failure of certain states to give up the racial divide. The story is driven by the racial tension which keeps the story on edge from start to finish which makes the story fly by.

Crime/History/MysteryThe crime side of this film is full of all the tension need as we know early on just what has happened but we are left to wonder just how long until the mystery if fully solved. It also shows us the history of these cases that show us just how backwards people’s mindsets were.

SettingsThe film is set in Mississippi which gives us a look at the locations the crimes would have taken place.

Final ThoughtsThis is difficult to watch in places but is also one of the tensest thrillers you will see.

 

Overall: This is a must watch for all thriller fans.

Rating