Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon is coming to DVD on the 22nd of January 2018.

 

Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong

Writer: Jing Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng

 

Plot: An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord.


Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal Gangster Movie

 

Story: Chasing the Dragon starts as we follow Ho (Yen) as he illegal immigrates from China to the British-colonized Hong Kong in the early 60s. we see how two different gangs are trying to take over Hong Kong while the British will go to any force to stop them. Police Detective Lee Rock (Lau) has been rising the ranks of the force for years now, he sees what Ho has to offer and helps him for his own personal corrupt reasons.

When Ho and Lee make a move to take over the troubled neighbourhood, Ho gets wounded taking away his fighting abilities, while Lee is lucky to walk away. The pair refuse to take this backing down and come up with their own plan to be the ruthless crime lords in Hong Kong, showing how far they will go against anyone that gets in their way.

 

Thoughts on Chasing the Dragon

 

Characters – Ho starts as a young man immigrating illegal to Hong Kong, he gets involved in fights and petty crimes before climbing up to more serious offences, his combat skills strike fear into his enemies, after he is crippled in an attack, he changes, he becomes psychotic with his behaviour killing, injuring anyone who gets in his way or disobeys his orders. Lee Rock is a detective that has risen in the Hong Kong force even though he has been against the British involvement in the country, he works with Ho to become a force that could take on the British, but with the corruption investigation in the force, he must step away from the light. He always seems to be thinking one step ahead of anyone he is working with. We do meet rival gangs, the British officers that abuse their power.

PerformancesDonnie Yen is known the world over for his combat skills in any movie, he has shown us year after year he could be the best combat actor in the industry today. In this role he has that skill removed and must show us his acting chops, he impresses big time here showing he is more than just a combat actor. Andy Lau on the other hand is an actor we know for his more serious roles in the Infernal Affairs movies being the most notable for the Western audience, he is great as this shady cop figures and this is no different.

StoryThe story follows two men either side of the law that rose to power in the drug battle in Hong Kong, one a petty criminal, the other a cop, the partnership took them to new heights and controlling the streets that the British have been taking over. The story shows how both use their skills and go after the people that cross them. If you want a gangster movie based on real people and see people outside of the normal American related gangsters.

Action/Biopic/Crime/HistoryThe action in the film does mix the start has more hand to hand combat before jumping into gun battles which entertain throughout. Diving into the biopic side of things, we only focus on the time in Hong Kong which focuses on the crime world for that moment in history.

SettingsThe settings show us the compact setting of Hong Kong which shows how the tensions will be rising during the drug war going on.


Scene of the Movie –
The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Brits are painted well in this.

Final ThoughtsThis movie flows nicely, it has a pace which increases to the explosive conclusion and offers us the story of one of the more notorious gangsters in the history of Hong Kong.

 

Overall: Must watch for gangster movie fans.

Rating

 

 

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Victoria and Abdul (2017)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Lee Hall (Screenplay) Shrabani Basu (Book)

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Adeel Akhtar

 

Plot: Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.


Tagline – History’s most unlikely friendship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enlightening Historical Moment

 

Story: Victoria and Abdul starts as Abdul Karim (Fazal) and Mohammed (Akhtar) are selected to travel from India to England to present Queen Victoria (Dench) with a gift from the Indian Empire. When Queen Victoria sees something in Abdul, sees becomes friends with him, learning about the Indian culture in a way she could never understand from the English textbook.

While their relationship becoming the talk of the palace, they even start to question whether it is good for her, but the relationship gives Queen Victoria a chance to express the lost loves of her life, a face she could never have on front of her subjects.

 

Thoughts on Victoria and Abdul

 

Characters – Queen Victoria is the elderly Queen of England, Albert has passed on, her children have their own lives and now she goes for countless routines of meeting different people, with most people almost waiting for her to die. When she befriends Abdul she gets a new lease for life and she looks to embrace the Indian culture. Abdul is a clerk from India, he gets selected to present Queen Victoria a gift, he soon finds himself being her closest aid, teaching her about the Indian culture, causing a potential rift in the royal household. He treats Queen Victoria like a person rather than a royal figure which is what helps her enjoy her later life.

PerformancesJudi Dench is fantastic in the leading role, bringing us a performance that could rival her Mrs Brown performance as Queen Victoria too. Ali Fazal is brilliant in the partnership role with Dench, he helps give the light to the role that at times is treated with racial hate. The supporting cast across the board is great too showing all the different levels people treated outsiders.

StoryThe story follows the later years Queen Victoria who became friends with an Indian clerk against the will of rest of the palace. We see how this gave her a new lease for life if only for a couple of years. The story that history wanted you to forget about becomes a fascinating watch because like most interesting moments in history they have faced being erased.

Biopic/HistoryQueen Victoria was one of the great known members of the royal family, the former longest ruling monarch, she had many stories and this is another one that shows us what she was like.

SettingsThe settings all feel authentic for the time showing us what it was like for Abdul to learn the new culture.


Scene of the Movie –
You will respect Abdul speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end while following history is frustrating to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great history lesson on the iconic leader of the country. It has two wonderful performances and enough charm to enjoy for everybody watching.

 

Overall: Enjoyable historical film.

Rating

 

 

 

Detroit (2017)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor

 

Plot: Fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers respond to a complaint with retribution rather than justice on their minds.


Tagline –  It’s Time We Knew

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Intense Film

 

Story: Detroit starts in the 1960s Detroit, where African Americans are restricted to limited neighbourhoods that were enforced by strict and brutal white police force, the equality act is nowhere to be seen here, which has only risen the racial tension between the races. In 1967 the tension has reached new heights, the army has entered the city to try and cover the problems as the Detroit riots start, days of looting, we follow white police officer Krauss (Poulter) who use his power to control the streets with force leading to him finding himself in trouble with his superiors. We also follow black security officer Dismukes (Boyega) who is called to try and control the looting, to complete the main people we will be following is Larry (Smith) and Fred (Latimore) musicians whose big opportunity is taken from him when the riots require a curfew at night as the group must hide out in a hotel.

When Carl (Mitchel) sends shots into the night, he sparks the events of this night, as the military focus on the hotel in which Larry and Fred are staying, with Dismukes wanting to make things end peacefully but Krauss, well he sees it as a chance to continue his violent ways, how will the night turn out?

 

Thoughts on Detroit

 

Characters – Dismukes is a security officers trying to stop looting during the riots, he plays the man between the lines, the violent white officers don’t respect him, the fellow black prisoners in the siege don’t trust him. He is the only one that has the power to find a peaceful outcome. Krauss is the violent police officers, he is about to face murder charges after killing a looter by shooting him in the back, he takes charge of the siege on the hotel which gets him a chance to continue the violent behaviour to anyone who supports the black side of the riots. Larry and Fred are two musicians that get caught up in the middle of the siege on the hotel, they are nothing more than kids who are just wanting to make a living. Greene is a war veteran that gets caught in the middle of the siege that served his country and still gets treated the way he did, he remains strong during the incident. We also meet the two white young women who are believed to be involved in the shooting and the officers working for Krauss who are just as twisted as him.

PerformancesJohn Boyega continues to show he is one of the hottest properties in Hollywood right now, he is gives us an authentic accent, never seeming like he is riding the Star Wars fame. Will Poulter is hauntingly disturbing in this role, he shows us that he will be a main stay in Hollywood most likely in villainous roles until he wants to step away. The new kids on the block Algee Smith & Jacob Latimore are both great showing the fear they are going through. The rest of the cast are brilliant too showing what the characters are going through.

StoryThe story faces the reality of one of the most violent nights in the Detroit riots, the build up to why people were there and how the events went down, as well as the aftermath. We have snippets of real footage that showed us what was going on in the bigger picture to the events around this incident. This is an interesting way to tell the story, because the first 1 hour and a half is leading up to and showing the siege while the remaining time is focusing on the aftermath which at times can drag along because we know the events, we don’t need to see a court case recounting them for us again.

Crime/HistoryThis is an important moment of history in America, the crime was horrendous, the action are almost unbelievable the crimes we witness, if you know the events then you will know the outcome, which could become negative if you want to see where things will go.

SettingsThe settings keep us in Detroit which is where the film is set, well the title tells you that, we are transported back to the time with everything seeming authentic too.


Scene of the Movie –
The whole siege is edge of your seat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film seems to keep going when it should have ended a lot earlier.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most intense thrillers of recent years, but then the thrilling side ends and the film just keeps rolling through details we didn’t need to see after what we have seen.

 

Overall: Such a strong movie for the most part.

Rating

 

 

6 Days (2017)

Director: Toa Fraser

Writer: Glenn Standring (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish, Martin Shaw, Ben Turner, Emun Elliott, Aymen Hamdouchi

 

Plot: In April 1980, armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London and took all inside hostage. Over the next six days a tense standoff took place, all the while a group of highly trained soldiers from the SAS prepared for a raid the world had never seen.


Tagline – London 1980, the world witnessed a new way to tackle terrorism.

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Tensionless

 

Story: 6 Days starts on the 30th April 1980 when Iranian terrorists storm the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate taking hostages and demanding the release of 91 prisoners back in Iran. We follow the negotiator Max Vernon (Strong), reporter Kate Adie (Cornish) and the specialist SAS unit with rookie Rusty Firmin (Bell) planning their ideas of for entering the embassy.

England faces the idea of negotiating with terrorists or being strong and taking them down from the within showing the strength to deal with terrorist situations. As the tensions rise, Max tries to find a peaceful solution to everything while Rusty and his team are preparing for any chance of taking the embassy by force.

 

Thoughts on 6 Days

 

Characters – Rusty Firmin is the lead on a SAS team that are called to try and solve the hostage situation, they have only ever done training never being able to get their hands-on experience before. Rusty is desperate to show they are ready to protect their country. Max Vernon is the negotiator that keeps the terrorists calm, trying to make their demands happen, he stays calm through the whole situation even when the pressure to make something happen is getting to him. Kate Adie gives updates from outside for the watching television public to see how everything unfolds, in all honesty, we don’t need to be following this character.

PerformancesWhen you look at the performances you can’t fault them because they are give good performances, Mark Strong shines like he always does, Jamie Bell is good too, the limited scenes Abbie Cornish is in she does well to. The problem is the characters are not the most interesting.

StoryThe story is based on the real Iranian terrorist hostage situation in 1980 which last the 6 Days. It shows how England didn’t want a copy of what happened in Munich, didn’t want to give into terrorism and wanted to remain strong in the eyes of the world. It also shows how while being trained to deal with the situation, the SAS had never had to tackle things in reality. This should be an interesting watch but in the end, we don’t focus on enough of the negotiation process or the tactical side leaving us feeling like we haven’t learnt enough by the end.

Action/HistoryThe get tactical action, the most part is training ideas before one main shot, but it doesn’t feel like it was shot the best way. We learn moments from the historical events, but most comes from the reading over the storytelling.

SettingsThe film is set instantly around the Embassy, which puts us into the action from the start which is all we want to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The practise sieges

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel we should have followed one side more instead of trying to cover three angles.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough history lesson, we learn what we need to, but not enough from the action unfolding before us.

 

Overall:  Disappointing historical drama.

Rating

 

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Director: Simon Curtis

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan (Screenplay)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne.


Tagline – Inspired by the True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: By the Books Biopic

 

Story: Goodbye Christopher Robin starts as we see how Alan Milne (Gleeson) a World War I soldier and playwriter is struggling to come up with new ideas and struggling with the effects of war on his everyday life. With his wife Daphne (Robbie) a socialite that loves the fame. When they have a child Christopher Robin they hire Olive (Macdonald) to be nanny as the family move to the country.

With Christopher (Tilston) now aged 8, Alan is left to look after Christopher alone where the two start going on adventures in the woods, where Alan gets the inspiration to write the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, but when the fame brings him an unwanted attention on his young son who will be left with the brand of being Christopher Robin for life.

 

Thoughts on Goodbye Christopher Robin

 

Characters – Alan Milne served in the First World War, he was never the same when he returned as he has lost his ability to write and be around the crowds, moving his family to the country to work on an anti-war book he ends up building a relationship with his son, which gives him the inspiration for the Winnie the Pooh books. Alan did seem like he was a distant sole that never recovered from the horrors of war. Daphne is the wife of Alan, she loves the busy life with the other high society people, she hates the country and has no idea on parenthood. She uses the new found fame to put the family back in the spotlight not worrying about the consequences. Christopher Robin is the son of the family, he has an open imagination which creates the adventures, he was raised by his nanny, but when the books takes off he becomes an international celebrity that can’t handle the pressure he is put under, taking away part of his childhood. Olive is the nanny that raises Christopher, the two become closer than the parents making her decision to leave all the more difficult.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, Domhnall Gleeson does a good job in the leading role as does Margot Robbie giving us a character you just don’t want to like. Will Tilston shines as Christopher with all the innocence needed for the role.

StoryLearning the creation of the Winnie the Pooh characters is what we were expecting here, what we got was the difficult relationship Christopher Robin had with his parents, while Alan could be forgiven because of his PTSD Daphne just comes off clueless to the idea of children. We also see how child stars can struggle with fame and the brand that will follow them for life. This story does lack the spark that could have made it magical but does show a couple of important messages just not in the fullest and most effective way.

Biopic/HistoryThe creature of Winnie the Pooh, a man that suffered the horrors of war but found his happiness in his own son. That is the most part of the biopic and history side of the film, learning how the characters were created together in the small moment of father son time.

SettingsThe settings are good, they show the crowded side of life in the city and the moments of peace in the country showing how the two worlds give different inspiration.


Scene of the Movie –
Pooh Sticks

That Moment That Annoyed Me There should have been that little bit more magic about this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard biopic, it doesn’t hit all the marks to make it great but the performances from the whole cast are good throughout the film.

 

Overall: Watchable biopic that tries to pull on the heart.

Rating