ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – G – The Grandmaster (2013)

Director: Kar-Wai Wong

Writer: Kar-Wai Wong, Jingzhi Zou, Haofeng Xu (Screenplay) Kar-Wai Wong (Story

Starring: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.


Tagline –  In Martial Arts there is no right or wrong, only the last man standing.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Watch IP Man

 

Story: The Grandmaster starts as we learn how the 40-year-old IP Man (Leung) life of luxury is turned upside due to the war in China, he loses everything including daughters to the effects, he moves onto Hong Kong to try to rebuild his life will being the excellent martial artists, we do follow a large amount of time in his life to get to where we do in the film.

 

Thoughts on The Grandmaster

 

Characters – IP man is the legend, arguable the greatest martial artist of all time, he trained Bruce Lee as his most famous student. This follows his life from riches, to rags and the rise of his dojo of training. We also follow Gong Er who wants to break boundaries in protecting her family’s honour and Ma San the man who uses his martial arts for evil in the world.

PerformancesThe performances here are fine, the fights between the different stars all click well making moments feel like edge of your seat, but after watching the IP Man I found those performances easier to connect too.

StoryThe story follows the life and times of IP Man, a legend in the martial arts field, we follow decades of his life which is fine, but it has been told before in three films, which gave them more time to develop the story. it feels like we gloss over too many moments that are much bigger in this life. The story just isn’t as interesting when it gets trimmed down this much.

Action/Biopic/Romance/WarThe action sequences are great fight sequences which is good to see, and they do feel brutal in effect. The biopic side of the story does seem to gloss over too much for us now we have a longer focus in the IP man films.

SettingsThe settings are fine throughout the film, they do seem darker than they need to be and quite often include rain for some reason.


Scene of the Movie –
Any of the fight scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The fact is that I have seen IP man films and this is the same story trimmed down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic biopic on the IP man, you could watch the three and soon to be four films with Donnie Yen to get more in depth stories that this film covers in trimmed down time, the action won’t let you down though.

 

Overall: Solid enough, but not great.

Rating

 

 

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Game Night (2018)

Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Writer: Mark Perez (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Kyle Bunbury

 

Plot: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery.


Tagline – This is not a game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny Comedy

 

Story: Game Night starts as competitive couple Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) preparing for the latest game night with friends Ryan (Magnussen), Kevin (Morris) and Michelle (Bunbury) when Max’s brother Brooks (Chandler) arrives to put Max off his game.

When Brooks invites the group and Ryan’s trademark random date Sarah (Horgan) to his hosted Game Night, it involves one member of the party being kidnapped and the rest needing to solve the case. The night takes a twist when Brook is really kidnapped by criminals and the friends must work together to stay alive.

 

Thoughts on Game Night

 

Characters – Max has always been competitive when it comes to quiz or game nights, he has his perfect match in Annie, but has always been overshadowed by his brother and now he must be the one to help his brother. Annie is the perfect match for Max, strangely we don’t learn much else about her through the film, which is easily going to be the problem with most of the characters, we enter just one night of their lives, so we don’t need to learn too much back story. Brooks is the brother that has a shady past that has caught up with him tonight. Ryan and Sarah are funny as the first date couple that don’t want to admit their attraction and Kevin and Michelle as the married couple who are going through a situation.

PerformancesJason Bateman gives us one of his best comedic performances of his career and his chemistry and Rachel McAdams who shows she can handle the comedy genre whenever she wants. The supporting cast all get the laughs with Billy Magnussen getting most of the laughs and Jesse Plemons seems to steal every scene.

StoryThe story follows a group of friends that entertain on a weekly game night only for the latest one to take a deadly twist as they must take on criminals. The film takes place over one night which helps the story keep the pacing with each situation the friends finding themselves in feeling legitimate for the story. while we don’t learn too much about the characters we get everything we want from the story unfold which does keep us guessing.

Comedy/Crime/MysteryThe comedy in the film hits on the most part with each character offering different moments of laughs with Billy Magnussen and Jesse Plemons giving the most laughs. The crime twists the game night to what is real or not through the film which increases the suspense and the mystery keeps us guessing throughout.

SettingsThe film is set in one city over one night, which puts the characters that don’t normally attend.


Scene of the Movie –
Nearly every scene with Jesse Plemons.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Tries too much for twists.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun comedy that hits on the laughs more often than it misses and does keep us guessing to where the story will go with characters that will make you laugh throughout.

 

Overall: Comedy film I enjoyed.

Rating

 

 

Gunn (2017)

Gunn is available on Amazon Prime Now

 

Director: C.J. Renner

Writer: C.J. Renner (Screenplay)

Starring: Amanda Day, Andrew Stecker, Richard Keats, Peter Christian Hansen, Douglas Sidney, Gwen Ruhoff, Anna Stranz

 

Plot: When a prohibition-era gangster discovers his whole world is just a staged play, he must dodge not only cops but stagehands – he must save not only his crumbling empire, but his last hold on reality.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stylish Twist on the Gangster Film

 

Story: Gunn starts as we meet Elston Gunn (Stecker) a loyal gun man in prohibition-era gangster time to midtown boss Sam Foster (Keats), he gets the jobs done while his boss is struggling with his own addiction, he has his girl Winnie Foster (Stranz) daughter of Sam and with a new gang rising, Elston must plan with Sam for the future.

As the comfortable world starts to crumble around Elston, he wants to find a way out of this life, that is until he learns the truth about his own life.

 

Thoughts on Gunn

 

Characters – Elston Gunn is the right-hand man in the mob, he has been loyal and gets the jobs done, he is in a position where he can offer to help the control of power, he is planning to get out of the life of crime and his confidence in any situation shows how he was able to rise and how he could escape it too. Winnie is the boss’s daughter in a relationship with Elston, she wants him to leave the life of crime as she is seeing her father’s position of power start to disappear. Sam Foster is the boss, the leader of Midtown, he has face competition before, though this is the biggest one to date, he is an alcoholic and lets Elston do most of the dirty work for him.

PerformancesAndrew Stecker in the leading role is clearly the star of the show here, he completes the gangster needs to the strongest of the whole cast and in the final act he gets to outshine everyone. When we look at the supporting cast we have strong performance from the likes of Anna Stranz, Amanda Day and Richard Keats.

StoryThe story starts and plays out like a gangster film, we get the righthand man wanting out of the life of crime when he sees things going wrong, this is all that makes sense for what we know in gangster films. The story does have a major twist in the final act which does make this film feel different. This is also a story that will leave you asking questions with the final shot. When we look at the gangster side of the story we may have liked something outside of the generic side of things, but this again does get explained by the final act.

SettingsThe has the settings which make things not look right, the car clearly isn’t real, the house never feel like they are in rooms, this does play a part in where the film goes, which does make everything work for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The musical number felt slightly weird.

Final ThoughtsThis is a uniquely told gangster movie which does a twist which explains everything that looks out of place throughout the film.

 

Overall: Gangster Film with a Twist.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – G – Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Director: Kelly Asbury

Writer: Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathey Greeneberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Kelly Asbury (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham

 

Plot: The neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet are at war, but the gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, are in love.


Tagline – An epic tale on a tiny scale.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Kids Will Enjoy

 

Story: Gnomeo & Juliet starts as we learn about two rival gardens, the Montagues and the Capulets, one has blue gnomes the other has red gnomes and they are at war when the humans are not around. Gnomeo leads the assaults from the blue side while Tybalt attacks for the reds.

When Gnomeo goes out on a solo mission he meets Juliet, a red that has been sneaking around only for the two to fall in love. Can their love bring an end to the war between the two sides.

 

Thoughts on Gnomeo & Juliet

 

Characters – Gnomeo is the leader of the blues he is doing everything to fight for his garden, until he meets Juliet and falls in love, he must continue his fight while trying to stay on Juliet’s good side, risking everything. Juliet is the daughter of the reds, she is forced to stay safe even though she wants her own adventure, she meets Gnomeo and the falls in love wanting to end the war from her side. We do get plenty of Shakespeare based characters with the aggressive Tybalt being the most interesting of them all.

StoryHere with this story we get another example of Romeo & Juliet being told, the waring families and forbidden love, only with gnomes and garden ornaments. The love story is fine, one we know and can learn from no a problem, the bigger problem comes with the idea of this wanting to be Toy Story with garden ornaments, but they just don’t seem to care if they upset their humans, even though when humans see them they stop.  You need to focus on one side and this just felt like something we have seen before with too many puns.

Comedy/Family/RomanceThe comedy is mostly garden puns, which can work at times, but like most puns has you groaning at times. We could see families learning from this which is good to see a proper message to people and the romance is what we know from Romeo & Juliet, you can find love in unlikely places.

SettingsThe film takes place in the gardens which have their own designs, this works for the film and makes this enjoyable to see the different designs people have for their gardens.

AnimationThe animation can’t be faulted here, everything looks the part with no problems for the audience to see.


Scene of the Movie –
That Pixar moment. Though this isn’t a Pixar movie.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The characters not caring about the destruction to the gardens while also not wanting to be seen moving by humans.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable family film, it tells a simple story with moment soft peril and puns all around, it is generic in its telling of the story and has a few funny characters.

 

Overall: Family film night sorted.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – G – Gallowwalkers (2014)

Director: Andrew Goth

Writer: Andrew Goth (Screenplay) Joanne Reay (Story)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kevin Howarth, Riley Smith, Tanit Pheonix Copley, Simona Roman, Steven Elder

 

Plot: A cursed gunman (Snipes) whose victims come back from the dead recruits a young warrior to help in the fight against a gang of zombies.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Misses the Targets

 

Story: Gallowwalkers starts as gunslinger Aman (Snipes) travels around the wild west in search for the dead, executed men and women that come back from beyond the grave with Kansa (Howarth) being the leader of the zombie like gang that he killed years before.

Kansa has built up an army but is still searching to find a way to bring his son back from the dead, killing people in hopes of being able to give him the ability his gang has. Aman recruits Fabulos (Smith) to help him battle the gang as both side wants to eliminate the other once and for all.

 

Thoughts on Gallowwalkers

 

Characters – Aman is the gunslinger roaming the wild west in search for the undead that have returned causing havoc across the land. He has a connection to the gang as he is the one who killed them in an act of revenge and is happy to spend his days killing them again. Kansa is trying to bring his son back from the dead, like he has been able to, he will kill people in search for the chance and has been waiting to showdown with the man that killed him for years. Fabulos is the young hero that Aman recruits to help him defeat the undead, he learns as the times goes on about his skills and reason to fight.

PerformanceWesley Snipes is here in name only, he gets to have a few fight scenes which you feel he enjoys more than he should because his delivery is sloppy throughout. Kevin Howarth does make a good villain without being as twisted as you think his character should be while Riley Smith looks lost at times out there.

StoryThis is a story that doesn’t seem to click, but you do have to respect the idea they didn’t want the traditional undead zombie problem rather focusing on resurrection. The problems with this story is that we only seem to focus on Aman or Kansa story and they were only meeting in the final act of the film. we have Aman just wondering around killing odd undead while Kansa looks to resurrect his son. It does feel like we needed more of a connection between the two storylines instead of just focusing on the captive’s boobs.

Action/Horror/WesternThe action is mostly lazy western styled action, a few gunshots here a few there while we also focus on a couple of by the book fights. The horror side of the film comes off weak too as we do want to see a lot more from the zombie figures.

SettingsThe western settings put us in the desert for most of the film which does work without being anything truly iconic like the best westerns.

Special EffectsThe effects are the highlight of this film because we do get to see plenty of head explosion through the film which is a lot of fun.

Scene of the Movie – The train meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of connection with the stories.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple to watch action horror that is basically a tame western, it has action scenes we have seen before, a story that doesn’t work but the head explosions are the highlight of the film.

 

Overall: Watchable but not great.

Rating