ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Q – Queen of Katwe (2016)

Director: Mira Nair

Writer: William Wheeler (Screenplay) Tim Crothers (Article)

Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ivan Jacobo

 

Plot: A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama

 

Story: Queen of Katwe starts as we meet Phiona (Nalwanga) a Ugandan girl from a family that struggles to put food on the table each day as she comes from a big family. On the other side of the town Robert Katende (Oyelowo) has been working on introducing sports to the kids and with his latest choice chess, he finds himself getting Phiona joining his class.

When Robert sees the potential in his students he must overcome discrimination in class to give them a chance against the students who can afford an education in a tournament for the school district, as well as overcoming problems that come from living in the slums.

 

Thoughts on Queen of Katwe

 

Characters – Phiona is from the slums of Uganda where she sells corn just to help support her family but when she learns she is chess prodigy she must learn how to balance the slum life and the success she might achieve from chess. Robert Katende is placed in the position of helping sports minister help the children of the slums learn a sport to give them a positive moment in life. He fights for the children to have a chance at competition. Nakku is the mother of Phiona that has struggled through keeping a roof over the head of the children and food on their table but it upsets her seeing how her children that could have a future they can’t afford.

PerformanceMadina Nalwanga comes from nowhere to give a powerful performance of the young woman that must learn to overcome her problems to achieve greatness, David Oyelowo is fast becoming one actor you know can always give us fantastic performances and this is no different, Lupita Nyong’o is once again great in her performance showing how she is one of the must underused actresses in Hollywood.

StoryThe story of one girl from a place no one would consider being one of the biggest prospects in chess is a success story we all like to hear about. We get to experience the ups and downs Phiona must face to become respected in field and the people that support her along her way. This might well be a film about chess

Biography/SportsThis might only be looking at a small part of Phiona’s life but it is the most important part, the part where we get to follow her learning curve of the sport that she loves.

SettingsSeeing the different backgrounds the children involved comes from is great to see, it shows that sport can bring people together regardless of their backgrounds.

Scene of the Movie – The first tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There wasn’t anything.

Final ThoughtsSport that brings people together that is the point of this film which is what is great to enjoy, coming from a country you wouldn’t see as a chess champion also helps us enjoy the ride.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining sports drama.

Rating

 

 

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Any Given Sunday (1999)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: John Logan, Oliver Stone (Screenplay) Daniel Pyne, John Logan (Story)

Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jams Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them.


Tagline – that women would eat her own children

Runtime: 2 Hours 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Football Movie

 

Story: Any Given Sunday starts as we follow a Miami franchise American Football team going through a losing streak, coach Tony D’Amato (Pacino) is now considered old school and after losing his star quarterback Jack ‘Cap’ Rooney (Quaid) to injury he is facing the pressure coming from the owner Christina Pagniacci (Diaz).

Turning to his third-choice quarterback Willie Beamen (Foxx) who struggles at first but soon becomes an overnight sensation as he changes his mind set when it comes to the fame. With the team’s form turned around, Tony is left with the difficult decision as the play-offs approach on whether to have his leader Rooney or the loose cannon Willie, along with the rest of the difficult decisions that goes around being a coach.

 

Thoughts on Any Given Sunday

 

Characters – Tony D’Amato is the coach of the Miami Sharks, he has been for years and has won plenty of trophies, now he is being tested and questioned about his ability as the game continues to evolve. He is given difficult decisions like any coach to make it through the season, the one which could be his last. Christina Pagniacci is the owner of the club, she has gained power after her father’s death and is determined to make her team great again, she is ruthless in business and challenges Tony unlike her father did. Jack Rooney is the legendary quarterback of the team, he does get injured which leaves him questioning his own decision to stay in the game. Dr Mandrake has been keeping injuries quiet from Tony putting the players heath and even lives at risk. Willie becomes the overnight sensation as the replacement quarterback, he starts as the hard working nervous player but thrown into the limelight he thinks he is the real deal turning his back on his loved ones not being able to handle the fame. Julian is a known mercenary player, he will work for the money but not harder than he needs to. We have such a big cast, we can’t go into all of them though, the characters all fit into the American Football world.

PerformancesAl Pacino was already an Oscar winner here so we know he is one of the best in the business, here he shows us why as he is brilliant in the desperate aging coach role. Cameron Diaz shows us all that she is a talent actress in this role where she gives us a dominate performance as the owner. Dennis Quaid is good in his role as the aging star. James Woods plays the role you could imagine him playing in this film style. Foxx makes for a great egotistical player that struggles to handle the fame. The whole cast looks like the person they are aiming to play in the film.

StoryThe story follows a fictional American Football team as they are aiming for the play-offs to regain the status as one of the elite teams in the league. We have the small details about what has been going on in the club, the coach questioning where he stands in the game, the new owner desperate to become a powerhouse in the game, the cocky player the aging veteran and even the medical question marks about what has been putting players lives in danger. This is a unique way of telling the story, it is one man changing the team, but instead we see how the team must come together to become legends in their own right.

SportsThe American Football sequences are the heart and soul of the action in the film, they are as brutal as the game is led to believe to be.

SettingsThe film takes us around the high life of the American Football scene, seeing how they go from quiet moments and the wild parties.


Scene of the Movie –
Pre-Game Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many cuts.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see how American Football world operates, this could easily be one of the most important version of the world.

 

Overall: A Must watch American Football Movie.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Next Karate Kid (1994)

Director: Christopher Cain

Writer: Mark Lee (Screenplay) Robert Mark Kamen (Characters)

Starring: Pat Morita, Hilary Swank, Michael Ironside, Constance Towers, Chris Conrad

 

Plot: Mr. Miyagi is back and he takes a new pupil under his wing; a troubled adolescent girl.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: For the Franchise Fans

 

Story: The Next Karate Kid starts as Mr Miyagi (Morita) is being involved in tribute to his fallen brothers in war, where he spends time with widow Louisa (Towers) of one of his best friends at war. Louisa is trying to raise her granddaughter Julie (Swank) after the death of her parents, but this is becoming difficult as Julie is becoming a rebellious teenager.

Mr Miyagi offers to take Julie under his wing hoping to offer her the discipline in life that she requires. The principal Col Dugan (Ironside) runs a strict regime on the students and soon clashes with Miyagi. Miyagi offers to teach Julie the art of karate to help her express the main she is feeling about her lost parents.

 

Thoughts on The Next Karate Kid

 

Characters – Mr Miyagi is remembering a lost friend from war, one of the first people he taught karate, now he takes his granddaughter under his wing to help her learn to express her pain from losing her parents, he uses karate passing on the discipline he had learnt through his life. Julie is the rebellious teenager that is filled with anger because of the death of her parents. Under Mr Miyagi she starts to learn karate to give her discipline in life. Colonel Dugan controls the students in the high school, he is strict pushing the students too far too often.

PerformancePat Morita is good giving us the same performance we have seen last time out, he doesn’t over play any part of his performance though. Hillary Swank is one of the big plus points in this movie, we know how far she went after this film and it shows us just what potential she had. Michael Ironside is always good as a villain because he is always that twisted when he plays these roles.

StoryThe story follows Mr Miyagi passing on his discipline to accept life a is comes and being prepared to defend yourself and stand up for yourself. While it is strange not having Daniel involved and we do fall into the idea that a young girl would be more interested in make-up, dancing and dresses, does feel degrading to what the film is meant to be teaching. Otherwise this does follow the same trends as the others which will keep the fans happy.

Action/Family/SportsWe don’t get much fighting in this film, sadly most of the high school fights are between boys not the one learning karate, it does feel like a family film again as it does have moments of humour too.

SettingsThe film does have new setting which changes the tone of the training too, it doesn’t have the streets smart feel to the setting being used.

Scene of the Movie – Learnt the kick.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too girly.

Tagline – It’s ancient wisdom against teenage spunk. 1,000 years of karate tradition is about to get a kick in the pants.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the films that you will only enjoy if you have enjoyed the previous three, it sends the same message but cuts down on the karate.

 

Overall: one of the all the fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Karate Kid Part III (1989)

Director: John G Avildsen

Writer: Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay)

Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, Thomas Ian Griffith, Martin Kove, Sean Kanan

 

Plot: Ostracised villain John Kreese attempts to gain revenge on Daniel and Miyagi, with the help of a Vietnam War comrade, the wealthy owner of a toxic waste disposal business.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Continuation of the Story

 

Story: The Karate Kid Part III starts as Daniel (Macchio) and Mr Miyagi (Morita) return to America, Daniel alone leaving his new love back in Japan, while his mother is now caring for a family member leaving Miyagi to look after the college bound Daniel. Back in America Sensei John Kreese (Kove) hasn’t recovered since the defeat of his students in the first film, teaming up with his old Vietnam soldier friend Terry Silver (Griffith) wanting to get revenge on Daniel and Miyagi.

When it the one-year anniversary of Daniel’s title win is coming around he gets invited to defend his title, but Miyagi doesn’t want him to need to defend it, the two do start their own bonsai business which Silver is determined to sabotage as he wants Daniel to be embarrassed by his new champion Mike Barnes (Kanan), while Daniel defend his title and honour against the corrupt businessman or will Miyagi convince him otherwise.

 

Thoughts on The Karate Kid Part III

 

Characters – Daniel should be going to college, but soon uses his money to start a business for Miyagi only to find himself needing to train to defend his title or face the vengeance of the fallen Sensei Kreese. Mr Miyagi wants to retire and become a bonsai plant shopkeeper, he doesn’t want to train Daniel to defend his title believing you should only use karate to defend yourself, his reluctance causes a rift between the two, though he is teaching Daniel the next lesson. Jessica is a shopkeeper across the road just visiting who starts a relationship with Daniel. Sensei John Kreese turns to his former army buddy to help him extract revenge on Daniel and Miyagi who he wants to see pay for what they did to him.

PerformanceRalph Macchio is good this time around again, he does continue to show us how his character can be misled along the way. Pat Morita keeps the calmness in his character throughout which shows us who is the right-minded person through everything. Robyn Lively is good but doesn’t get too much to do that is original to the serious. Martin Kove is good as this time we see the effects from the villain in a previous film.

StoryThe story completes the full year since the title win for Daniel, it shows how the people who were defeated will still want to get revenge. The story shows how Daniel can continue to let his emotions guide him down the wrong roads which is the new lesson Miyagi wants to teach Daniel. The romantic story feels lazy and just writing out the girlfriend from the previous film is becoming too annoying this time around. The message in the story is clear, never turn you back on the person that trains you even if something else sounds like it could be better.

Action/Family/SportsWe get more action in this film, which is fun to watch as the fights and pressure to do the fights, this does feel darker and might not be for the whole family.

SettingsTaking the action back to America works because it shows the effects of the first film on the villains.

Scene of the Movie – Dojo showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Writing out the girlfriend again.

Tagline – First it was teacher to student. Then it was father to son. Now, it’s man to man.

Final ThoughtsThis is one for the fans of the original two films, this continues the story nicely but for a one of viewing people might end up feeling confused for certain actions.

 

Overall: Franchise Fans enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Ip Man 3 (2015)

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Tai-lee Chan, Lai-yin Leung, Edmond Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson, Patrick Tam

 

Plot: When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over a local school, Master Ip is forced to take a stand.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong but Still Weakest of the Trilogy

 

Story: Ip Man 3 starts as we learn Ip Man (Yen) is now one of the most respected men in town with larger class of students and helping in the community.  Secretly in town Frank (Tyson) has been running a fight club that Tin-chi (Zhang) is the star fighter and Ip and Tin-chi become friends as they fight to protect their children’s school from a gangster and former student Ma King-Sing (Tam) to fight their battles.

Ip must face his most personal battle when his own son is taken as part of the leverage to get his men to leave the school and Tin-chi proves to be a worthy fighting partner even if hi morals are not as clean as Ip’s, but soon Tin-chi becomes jealous of the publicity Ip man gets over him.

 

Thoughts on Ip Man 3

 

Characters – Ip has once again reached the status we first met him in the first film, respect from everyone that has heard of him. This time he must battle a personal battle against gangster and another one that he will not be winning. Cheung the wife of Ip has been by his side through everything but this time she must help Ip man face mortality. Tin-chi is also a Wing Chun fighter that has been fighting in the fight clubs but soon he wants to make a name for himself in battle against Ip.

PerformanceDonnie Yen continues his record of being great as the Ip Man showing the combat needed to handle a higher emotional level than before. Lynn Hung gives her best performance in the franchise to date, but this is because she actually has something to do this time. Jin Zhang is great to showing he could potentially be a next generation of big name fighters to come from China.

StoryThe story here does feel less significate this time around because Ip has his status regain, he is only fighting the odd gangster as one man wants to prove who the Grandmaster in town is, it is the personal story between Ip and his wife that is the strongest part of story but it just doesn’t get the most focus required in the story. of the three this is easily the weakest of the series, it is also the most confusing due to the villains seemingly only lasting for about 30 minutes.

Action/Biography/SportsThe action is fantastic once more and shows how to put together a martial arts movie but just for the biopic part of the film, it does just feel like they are just using the name to make a small story bigger.

SettingsWe continue to move into the future of Ip’s life and the settings show this without them looking out of place in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – Dance, not fight

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of true villain this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong trilogy for the action sequences throughout the film but this is the weakest combat story even if it does have the most important personal story for Ip to go through.

 

Overall: Great action set piece.

Rating