ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – D – District 13 (2004)

Director: Pierre Morel

Writer: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri (Screenplay)

Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo-Petit, Francois Chattot

 

Plot: Set in the ghettos of Paris in 2010, an undercover cop and ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb.


Tagline – Welcome to District B13 Welcome to the future

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quality Action

 

Story: District 13 starts in the near future well 2010 (it was the future when the film was made) Paris has blocked of ghettos which has only created more crime within the walls. Leito (Belle) is trying to fight a drug war himself against Taha Bemamud (Naceri) with his henchmen K2 (D’Amario) doing the leg work.

In an attempt to get back at Leito by taking his sister Lola (Verissimo-Petit) it only escalates the battle between the two. Trying to go to the cops, Leito is left locked up and Lola taken back, hooked up on the drugs by Taha who has taken over complete control of the district. Captain Damien Tomaso (Raffaelli) joins Leito to eliminate the threat after a neutron bomb is place in the middle of the district.

 

Thoughts on District 13

 

Characters – Captain Damien Tomaso is one of the best officers on thee force, he can go undercover to take down most criminals with his latest operation going perfectly, now he must work with Leito to return a stolen weapon which is due to explode within the day. Leito is a local resident of the district who has been trying to clean up the district, this ends him up in jail and being given a chance save his sister and end the war and get his freedom. The pair both uses their fighting and parkour skills to stay ahead of the game. K2 is the lead henchmen for Taha, he will confront any enemy before the fight even if he ends up looking like an idiot more often than not. Taha is the drug lord controlling the criminal activities in the district, he has an army that will not stop when it comes to following his instructions.

PerformancesCyril Raffaelli and David Belle are fantastic in the leading roles with their own style of parkour action which brings a new style of action to the already well know genre, we don’t have ropes or nets for most of the stunt work either. When we get to the supporting cast the villains are entertaining enough and give the heroes a chance to do what they do best.

StoryThe story is simple and does borrow from the likes of ‘Escape from New York’ by having the districts used to control criminals, while not everyone is a criminal, we see a cop and a rebel needing to take down the leader and stop a weapon being used on the richer side of the country. The film does focus on the action more than anything, which can take away any deepness in the story, though the simplistic idea keeps the action flowing for the audience.

Action/Crime/Sci-FiThe action is a mix of parkour and fighting which felt original at the time, certain stunt moments are fantastic to watch which feels like a breath of fresh air. The criminal world we are entering show us just how it can grow when the government give up on them and the sci-fi world shows us just how the future could become bleak when shutting people away.

SettingsThe film shows us the district have been built up to keep people in only to turn them against each other and the outside world, it creates great moments of parkour for the action to take place in.


Scene of the Movie –
The parkour escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not the deepest story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful action film that bought the audience parkour for the first time, something which has been used more famously in bigger movies since, while it doesn’t have the deepest story, it makes up for this with the action.

 

Overall: Action fans treat.

Rating

 

 

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The Dark Soul (2018)

Director: Bey Logan

Writer: Bey Logan (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Brewerton, Meng Lo, Bianca Stam, Ryan Logan, Wu Ging, Ma Jing-Kwan, Lang-Xing Ye

 

Plot: A mysterious American, Chandler, appears in an Asian city, searching for a missing person. A police commander assigns a local contact, Dickson Lee, to shadow this stranger. The mismatched couple must navigate the dangerous world of an international organ smuggling syndicate. Chandler and Lee have to rely on all their courage and strength to solve a deadly mystery, and finally deliver the criminals to justice.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Mystery Thriller

 

Story: The Dark Soul starts when Chandler (Brewerton) arrives in an Asian city in search of somebody, his first connection sends him to a snooker hall, where he meets Dickson Lee (Ye) who helps him locate the missing person, giving him the lay of the land.

As the two men make an unlikely partnership, they start to turn the heads of the people in the city, as people do seem to know where the missing person is, but some heads being turned are the criminal type that want Chandler gone.

 

Thoughts on The Dark Soul

 

Characters – Chandler is an American that has travelled to Asia, he is searching for somebody, he has clues that he can’t explain and a new skill set for fighting, he never had before going on his mission of searching. He does have to learn quick about certain cultural mistakes he makes and does look out of place in many of the locations because of this. Dickson Lee is the local that teams up with Chandler to show him around, he does have an investment in what the two are looking for too, the character is also designed to get the odd one-liner in the film. Diana Zhou is one of the doctors that gets investigated by Chandler, one with her own clinic and operation going on.

PerformancesKevin Brewerton fills the physical presence role well through the film, he handles the action best, just like you would expect a lead in an action movie. Lang-Zing Ye does give the film a more relaxed tone at time which is needed. Bianca Stam brings one of the suspects to life with her controlling actions.

StoryThe story here follows an American going in search for a missing person in Asia, he has clues which he can’t explain which leads him to find a local to help him uncover the truth. The story can be broken down to a investigation story, which is interesting to see where each clue does lead Chandler, seeing both sides of the law being the clues also adds to the story, we get certain character traits which feel fresher than we are used to seeing in this style of film. The story does however lack any real obstacles for Chandler to overcome, with any that are placed being simple enough fights to get through. Overall the story does feel like it could have been one that any of the genre action stars could have stepped into, without making anything overly complicated.

ThrillerThe film does try to keep us on the edge, with each clue offering up a new mystery it keeps us wanting to know just where the answers are going to lay.

SettingsThe film is set in a generic Asia city, we don’t get to know the name of the city, with none of the locations ending up feeling important to the overall story.


Scene of the Movie –
Flower Shop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That explosion.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action thriller you can stick on, enjoy and being entertained for 90 minutes.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action thriller.

Rating

 

 

Morgan Freeman Weekend – Dolphin Tale (2011)

Director: Charles Martin Smith

Writer: Karen Janszen, Noam Dromi (Screenplay)

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson

 

Plot: A story centered on the friendship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap.


Tagline – Inspired by the amazing true story of Winter

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pulls on the Heart Strings

 

Story: Dolphin Tale starts when young boy Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) who doesn’t interact with the world, struggles with studies at school finds a tangled-up dolphin in a crab trap, helping with the rescue he becomes invested in helping the recovery for the dolphin, helping Dr Clay Haskett (Connick Jr) and his family at their aquamarine hospital.

When Sawyer’s only friend and cousin Kyle is injured in the forces, he wants to show him how he has gone from not caring about anything to devoting all his time to help the injured dolphin, which brings in Dr Cameron McCarthy (Freeman) who has been working on prosthetics for injured soldiers.

 

Thoughts on Dolphin Tale

 

Characters – Sawyer is the young boy struggling with his education, has become isolated from kids his age, the one person that gets through to him is his cousin after his father left. This summer Sawyer will find his purpose in life as he becomes interested in helping the recovery of the dolphin and over injured animals, this brings him out of his shell. Dr Clay Haskett is the man who runs the aquamarine hospital, he has been committed to helping animals even when people get in his way. Lorraine is the Sawyer’s mother, that is happy that he is becoming encouraged with the next chapter in his life. Dr Cameron McCarthy is the man that is tasked with figuring out how the help Winter swim again.

PerformancesThe performances in this film a great throughout, Nathan Gamble as the young boy shines against the bigger stars with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman making great choices in the supporting role.

StoryThe story here follows one young boy that finds his place in the world after helping an injured dolphin, it shows how people can find inspiration in the most unlikely locations. This is based on the real rescue efforts put on Winter, while I am unsure just how much of the rest of the story is true, I don’t want to doubt or question any of it either. The inspiration Winter gave people and the show of community helps make this a family film you can all enjoy together because the story is a successful one, no this isn’t a spoiler because the film stars Winter herself.

Family The family could all enjoy this one and it does have an important message about how to treat the animals of the world too.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a couple of locations, we spend most time at the hospital seeing how the treatment is helping Winter get better.


Scene of the Movie –
Save Winter Day.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would say it is slightly too long.

Final Thoughts – This is one of those movies you can sit and enjoyed without being tested, it has a heart warming story being told and can teach people about the effects we have on the ocean animals.

 

Overall: Heart warming.

Rating

 

 

Down a Dark Hall (2018)

Director: Rodrigo Cortes

Writer: Michael Goldbach, Chris Sparling (Screenplay) Lois Duncan (Novel)

Starring: AnnaSophia Robb, Uma Thurman, Isabelle Fuhrman, Victoria Moroles, Noah Silver, Taylor Russell, Rosie Day

 

Plot: Kit Gordy, a new student at the exclusive Blackwood Boarding School, confronts the institution’s supernatural occurrences and dark powers of its headmistress.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Never Really Gets Started

 

Story: Down a Dark Hall starts as Katherine ‘Kit’ Gordy (Robb) has been struggling with mental health and with her parents running out of options decide to send her to an exclusive boarding school Blackwood, run by Madame Duret (Thurman). Kit is joined by the other girls, Izzy (Fuhrman), Veronica (Moroles), Ashley (Russell) and Sierra (Day) who are all told they have gifts, which sees the girls excel in different subjects.

When the girls start getting haunted at night, they decide to investigate the history of the school, which leads them down some very dark halls to unlock the secret of Madame Duret.

 

Thoughts on Down a Dark Hall

 

Characters – Katherine Gordy is a troubled teenager, blamed for a lot of what happens in her life, dealing with the loss of her father, sent to the boarding school, she starts to show her talent for music and challenge just why the girls have been selected. Madame Duret has welcomed the girls into the boarding school, she keeps strict rules and it becomes clear that she has plans for them all. Izzy is one of the girls that shows her gifts the quickest, this is what draws the attention of the rest of the girls that can see what is happening to her. Veronica is the bully like figure of the five girls, she uses her tough attitude to cover her own problems in her life.

PerformancesAnnaSophia Robb in the leading role does a solid enough job, we could see more development from her character, but she does all she can with her role. Uma Thurman isn’t the most convincing as the Madame, while most of the fellow girl performances are just the basic through the film.

StoryThe story follows five girls sent to a boarding school only for not everything to be as it seems and they must unlock the truth before the evil within the walls comes for them. The story never really gets started if we are honest because we focus on the so called gifts the girls are showing, which they never had before getting to the school, should be more interesting, only it just felt rushed. The scares don’t come fast enough for what is meant to be happening and when they do it is just too dark to see anything happening. The story has an outline which had potential, only it ends up falling flat on its face trying to rush everything instead of slowly building to show just how successful the previous ideas have been.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy horror in the film becomes one when we get to follow the ideas to why the girls have become gifted suddenly, only the horror is just darkness, loud noise, something appears on screen.

SettingsThe film is set inside the one location, the boarding school which does work for the film, because it keeps the girls away from the world for just what is planned for them.

Special EffectsThe effects are pretty weak too here, as we just get the usual background CGI we can see a mile off.


Scene of the Movie –
The piano performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While this is meant to be a dark film, it is very hard to see what is happening.

Final ThoughtsThis is a movie that has potential in its story, it ends up becoming messy though and just bland because it never gets started.

 

Overall: Basic horror.

Rating

 

 

Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy (2018)

Director: Don Michael Paul

Writer: Tony Giglio, Don Michael Paul (Screenplay) Paul W.S. Anderson, Tony Giglio (Story)

Starring: Zach McGowan, Danny Glover, Danny Trejo, Velislav Pavlov, Lucy Aarden, Frederick Koehler

 

Plot: After an attack on inmate Frankenstein fails a Black Ops specialist enters the maximum prison to join the illegal Death Race and take down Frankenstein.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Action We Expect, The Thin Story We Expect

 

Story: Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy starts as America has completely broken down, the one former hope Death Race is deemed illegal and has taken the dark web by storm as the prisoners have free roam of the arena formerly used as the prison. Frankenstein (Pavlov, voiced by Nolan North) runs this world, he isn’t like the Frank we have met before, he runs the city and the race.

The government are getting sick of the Death Race and want to bring it down, Baltimore Bob (Glover) runs the races and when new prisoner Connor Gibson (McGowan) is searching to be part of the race, in an attempt to bring down Frankenstein.

 

Thoughts on Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy

 

Characters – Frankenstein rules the death race circuit from behind his mask, this is made clear that he can be replaced with ease and isn’t the same man that we have met in the previous film, this version of Frankenstein isn’t as good-natured or innocent as the previous ones, he is a killer, he will execute people who try to cross him and has created the chaos in the world they are living in. Connor Gibson is the man sent to the prison, he is sent there to take down Frankenstein in an attempt to regain control of the prison, he uses his skills to rise up the ranks to put himself in the position to race Frankenstein. Carley is the seductive and navigator that is on Frankenstein’s arm. Baltimore Bob runs the Death Race operation, he has the connections outside to the outside world and is willing to use them to create the most buzz about the event.

PerformancesZach McGowan gets the action sequences done well through the film, though when it comes to some of the talking moments he does struggle in places, though the script isn’t exactly anything notable. Danny Glover is getting too old for this shit now, he gives us the supporting role you would have come to expect from him now. Velislav Pavlov brings the physical look for Frankenstein, though Nolan North voice work makes the character feel more sinister.

StoryThe story here follows the now illegal death race which has become a dark web sensation in a crumbling American economy, one man gets sent into the prison to eliminate Frankenstein. Now this might be the first actual sequel in the franchise, I kind of got lost after 2 and 3, but if this is a sequel it does show us just how the world changed after what happened with Frankenstein’s escape, how the world continued to fall into disorder. When it comes to the Frankenstein figure, we know he can be replaced, which does explain the evil nature behind this version, though it goes against the need we have to support the underdog wrongfully placed in the prison system. The story is filled with unworthy showdowns with characters we barely know, we do also just resort to too many party scenes which are unrealistic and just want to show off nudity for no reason. The script is also poorly written just turning to explicit swearing insults which are here to sound edgy rather than making sense.

ActionThe action in the racing sequences is the highlight of the film, the final race being the best part of the movie, even if we have plenty of jump cuts.

SettingsThe film is set in the prison locations, the land might be larger now which does make sense for an ever growing environment that has become overrun.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film come from the explosion we see caused during the race itself.


Scene of the Movie –
The race.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Most of the pointless parties.

Final ThoughtsThis is just another sequel that just doesn’t reach the levels of the previous films, it does have a fun race, though it does fall into the generic filler leading up to the race though.

 

Overall: Fun & Simple

Rating