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

 

 

Darkest Hour (2017)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones

 

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.


Tagline – Never give up. Never give in.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Historical Drama

 

Story: Darkest Hour starts as we come to London in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced into resignation to help unit the divided parties as they faced in impending Nazi invasion. Who to turn to next is the question, they turned to Winston Churchill (Oldman) a formerly disgraced government member who is known for never backing down.

Churchill takes the reigns in Britain’s darkest hour as they faced certain defeat or peace talks with Hitler, but Churchill isn’t taking into lying down as he comes up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops on the beaches in Dunkirk, even with fellow members of his office trying to push him into peace talks.

 

Thoughts on Darkest Hour

 

Characters – These are all based on real people, in a rea time of crisis, which would have changed Britain as we know it today. Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest world leaders the Earth has ever seen, he we only follow around two weeks of his career, as people are using his past mistakes against him even after picking him to be the leader, he has always been honest, he doesn’t care if you didn’t like him and he will listen to the people when searching for answers in one of the most difficult times Britain ever faced. Cemmie is Winston’s wife and one of the few people that could control him and bring out his nice side, she proves an important part of his life during this tough time because she knows how long and hard he has worked to be Prime Minister. King George VI admits to Churchill he is scared of him, he didn’t want him, but will support him decisions if they are best for the country, he gives us the most important scene in the movie. Elizabeth Layton is the new typist for Churchill, she represents the everyday person that is concerned about what might be coming and her fear helps Churchill make the decisions he does.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say that Gary Oldman has the Oscar in the bag this year, any actor that can make you not realize it is him after 2 hours of watching him deserves all the praise in the world. Jumping into the supporting cast we have wonderful performances throughout, Kristin Scott Thomas, ben Mendelsohn and Lily James take their characters and make them shine.

StoryThe story focuses on two weeks of Winston Churchill’s life, starting the day Neville Chamberlain resigned to the moment Britain refused to surrender to the Nazi invasion heading our way. This is a huge moment in history and seeing the political divide between the people in office shows the terror, fear and panic the minds would have been going through during this horrendous time. The story does shine a spotlight on the idea that the public were not completely sure what was going on and had to trust the government to make the right decision too.

Biopic/History/WarChurchill was an inspiring leader, we have seen three versions of him in the last 12 months too, to show of him in this time is important too and a moment in history that will never be forgotten during our time of need World War II.

SettingsThe settings are well constructed, but at times the military view points seem added because no one knew how to describe the situations or didn’t trust the audience to understand the terms.


Scene of the Movie –
A Royal visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The look up moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at how Churchill help guide Britain to victory during World War II, he stood up when no one else would to be the leader Britain needed to win.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Masterclass performance from Oldman.

Rating

 

 

The Disaster Artist (2017)

Director: James Franco

Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H Weber (Screenplay) Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell (Book)

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor

 

Plot: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastically Hilarious

 

Story: The Disaster Artist starts as we meet young aspiring actor Greg (Dave Franco) who meets the mysterious fellow actor Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in San Francisco, learning Tommy has money to support him Greg agrees to head to LA with him to try and make an impact in the acting world.

Finding themselves struggling to find a job they decide to make their own movie, ‘The Room’. They get their own crew with script advisor Sandy (Rogen) trying to keep things under control during the shot. As Greg starts his own relationship with Amber (Brie) he starts to become distant from Tommy who starts to become a dictator on set putting the production into turmoil as we learn how the most notoriously bad movie The Room is made.

 

Thoughts on The Disaster Artist

 

Characters – Greg is an aspiring actor who at a young age heads to Hollywood with a stranger Tommy Wiseau as he looks to make an impact in the industry. He is filled with the enthusiasm any young actor must make it in the business. Tommy Wiseau is the mysterious man that offers Greg a chance to move to Hollywood, he has an accent no one seems to be able to figure out, has money to support this dream, he ends up writing, directing and starring in the movie, that has bigger meaning to him that anyone could imagine. Sandy helps with the script and shoot, knowing just how strange the film seems and working with Tommy is strange experience for him. We do get to meet the rest of the people who are involved in movie and the lives of Greg and Tommy during this time.

PerformancesJames Franco is fantastic in this role, this is easily the best of his career to date and the chemistry he shows with his real-life brother Dave comes through on screen too. Dave Franco continues to improve, movie to movie and steps up to plate here. Seth Rogen is great in this role with his restrained role that never goes into full Rogen mode. The rest of the cast are great and we do get big names appearing in different moments of the film.

StoryThe story follows the making of the film branded the worst ever ‘The Room’ and how the unlikely friendship help build this movie to become the cult sensation people still talk about today. It does show chasing dreams can get what you want even if it isn’t the best quality, it shows that if you want to be able to say you did something, then this shows you how to achieve this.

Biopic/Comedy/HistoryThe biopic side of the film only covers the meeting of the two till the premier, which is good, but as the film implies Tommy is a man of mystery we would like to learn more about. The comedy hits every time in this film, we have laugh out loud moments that are genuine reaction to what is being shot and this history side of the film shows how one of the most famously worst movies was made.

SettingsThe settings fit the film perfectly showing us just where the film would have taken place and how weird set choice were too.


Scene of the Movie –
The Screening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That I haven’t seen ‘The Room’, you don’t need to see it but now I want to.

Final ThoughtsThis could easily be one of the funniest films I have ever seen, while I have never seen The Room this movie opened my eyes to follow dreams however farfetched they seem and now I want to see it. This is one of the best movies of 2017 without a doubt.

 

Overall: Funniest film of the year.

Rating

 

 

Driving While Black (2016)

Director: Paul Sapiano

Writer: Dominique Purdy, Paul Sapiano (Screenplay)

Starring: Dominique Purdy, Sheila Tejada, John Mead,  

 

Plot: DRIVING WHILE BLACK is a dark comedy, rooted deeply in reality… but not a reality that everybody is familiar with. Dimitri delivers Pizzas for a living – but as a young black man he is faced with “extra” challenges while navigating the city.


Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Plenty of Chuckles

 

Story: Driving While Black starts as we meet pizza delivery man Dimitri (Purdy) a young black man that has always had the police hassle him through his childhood to adulthood in Hollywood. He has got to the stage where he just avoids cops on certain roads.

We follow Dimitri as he goes about his everyday life and how he constantly clashes with the police who seem to pull him over for no good reason.

 

Thoughts on Driving While Black

 

Characters – Dimitri is the young black pizza delivery man, he aspires to be an artist living in Hollywood. He has always been harassed by the police despite always being innocent, we follow his opinions on what is going on with the police incidents. We do meet the different police officers who are different stages of their careers and treat Dimitri in different ways.

PerformancesDominique Purdy is good in the leading role, he handles the comedy well hitting the jokes in nearly ever scene. Sheila Tejada seems to be the next biggest performer in the movie and she is good too in her as the cop trying to make the most of her career. The rest of the cast are good through the film.

StoryThe story follows one black man’s struggle to have a normal life because he is always being hassled by the police for no reason. This shows the racial issues going on in neighbourhoods with racial profiling. It also shows how a string of coincidences can lead to mindsets within the police force, not over villainising the police too. This both sends an important message to both sides, first how to not become a victim and two how to not just make someone a suspect. Being told in a comedy which means nothing is as serious as it could be.

ComedyUsing the comic tone shows how people will react to ‘just another moment’ of racial profiling, Dimitri gives us the laughs through the film.

SettingsSet in and around Hollywood shows how the racial divide the people have towards each other.


Scene of the Movie –
The time Dimitri gets pulled over with the flowers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We fact the times Dimitri doesn’t get pulled over he is doing the illegal driving things.

Final ThoughtsThis is good comedy that tackles a serious racial matter in a light-hearted manner from start to finish.

 

Overall: Comedy that makes you laugh when it needs to.

Rating