ABC Film Challenge – Crime – U – Until Death (2007)

Director: Simon Fellows

Writer: Dan Harris, James Portolese (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Selina Giles, Stephen Rea, Mark Dymond, William Ash, Stephen Lord, Gary Beadle

 

Plot: Stowe is a dirty cop who is hooked on heroin, and everyone dislikes him. Because of an accident he is put into a coma, and comes out of it a better person. He wakes up wanting to put things right.


Tagline – They put him in a coma, now he’s going to put them out of their misery.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Action

 

Story: Until Death starts as we see how Anthony Stowe (Van Damme) operates under his own addictions of heroin, sex alcohol which has put his career on the edge, his marriage in the drain and his enemy Gabriel Callaghan (Rea) is getting away with the crimes he wants.

When Gabriel catches up with Anthony, he puts a bullet in his skull leaving him for dead, only to leave him in a coma in which he shouldn’t recover from. 6 months later he awakens from his coma and is left to the care of his estranged wife Valerie (Giles), as he recovers it turns out he has changed becoming a better person and even more determined to track down Gabriel.

 

Thoughts on Until Death

 

Characters – Anthony Stowes is a dirty cop, hooked on heroin with enemies in the force and on the streets, the methods have made his hard to work with and his long running pursuit of Callaghan puts him in the firing line. After he gets shot and left for dead, he must recover, a process which see him changing to become a better man. Valerie is the wife that is about to divorce Anthony after years of problems between the two, after his injury she takes him in even though she has moved on with her life. Gabriel Callaghan is the ruthless mobster trying to get ahead in the city, he disposes of anyone that gets in his way and won’t let Stowe stop his plan.

PerformancesWe watch Van Damme movies to watch him kick ass, not because of his acting standards, he is good through the film as does give us a chance to work on his serious reactions, he doesn’t get to show the fighting enough though. Selina Giles does struggle with her role though, you never believe her acting in this role. Stephen Rea does seem to enjoy this villainous role where he can become darker as the film unfolds.

StoryThe story follows a dirty cop that goes head to head with a crime boss only for his crashing life to be turned around by a near death experience. The pacing of the story is slow for my liking, we spend too much time with the bad version of Stowe and not enough on the reborn versions road to redemption, which is by the book. Granted we don’t need the deepest story here because we know what we are getting going into the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is held back for the final act of the movie, which is fine, but when you have Van Damme in the leading role, you would expect more. The crime side of the film does play into the bigger picture of what is going on which give the characters the biggest part of the development they get.

SettingsThe film uses New Orleans as the setting which is always a city used for dirty cop locations, it works well without being over used for the films backdrop.


Scene of the Movie –
Final act is the saving grace of the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The damn camera turns.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical Van Damme action movie, it tries to give us a serious side without being able to capture this and we are saved by a final act action sequence which is entertaining to watch.

 

Overall: Van Damme 101

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Crime – P – P2 (2007)

Director: Franck Khalfoun

Writer: Franck Khalfoun, Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur (Screenplay)

Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin, Stephanie Moore, Miranda Edwards

 

Plot: A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.


Tagline –  A New Level of Terror

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Forgettable Horror

 

Story: P2 starts as businesswoman Angela (Nichols) starts running late to her family’s Christmas party after her work party, gets trapped inside her work structure after her car fails to start, leaving her at the hands of security guard Thomas (Bentley).

As the night unfolds Thomas puts Angela through a string off tests, before she tries to figure out a way to escape this psychopath.

 

Thoughts on P2

 

Characters – Angela is a businesswoman that finds herself working late too often becoming more distant from her family, while not starting her own. When another late night finds her car breaking down and missing her taxi, she finds herself locked in the parking structure being chased down by the crazed security guard. Thomas is the security guard that has his own plan for Christmas, to keep Angela locked inside completing his twisted ideas.

PerformancesA crazy Wes Bentley is always something we like to see, but even he doesn’t reach the levels we would like to see him get too. Rachel Nichols is fine in the leading role as the damsel in distress, trying to fight back.

StoryThe story is very simple, crazed man prevents girl from escaping her parking lot only to want to get involved in a game to se how far he can push her. There isn’t much more to this story, we get glimpses into the idea that he is doing this to protect her against men that have done wrong, but otherwise, it is a cut and dry story with little in the way of twists along the way.

Crime/HorrorThe crime comes from what Thomas does, which works for the film, the horror never reaches the levels he could do for where the film tries to go.

SettingsThe film is set inside the parking lot which does make for a good setting with no escape once locked in.

Special EffectsThe effects are used when needed, the film doesn’t rely on them, when it could easily do so.


Scene of the Movie –
Merry Christmas Thomas.

That Moment That Annoyed Me She would know how to drive a car.

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime horror that grabs the basic ingredients and does nothing interesting with the story to make it a stand out.

 

Overall: Not worth the time it takes.

Rating

 

 

Black Water (2007)

Director: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki

Writer: David Nerlich, Andrew Traucki (Screenplay)

Starring: Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodoreda, Ben Oxenbould, Fiona Press

 

Plot: A terrifying tale of survival in the mangrove swamps of Northern Australia


Tagline – What You Can’t See Can Hurt You.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacking Suspense Animal Attack

 

Story: Black Water starts when Grace (Glenn) her husband Adam (Rodoreda) and her younger sister Lee (Dermody) are off on an adventure across Northern Australia, visiting a crocodile farm before heading out into the black water for a fishing day with guide Jim (Oxenbould).

When their small boat is capsized by a crocodile the family find themselves hiding in the trees waiting to see if the crocodile has gone before making their decision on how to escape.

 

Thoughts on Black Water

 

Characters – Grace is the married pregnant old sister, she is using the trip to make the announcement to her husband, once the attack happens she wants to protect her younger sister, while trying to think of a logical way out of the situation. Lee is the younger sister that is on the trip for her first adventure, she doesn’t have anything about her to make her feel unique other than that she seems to sleep a lot. Adam is the husband that suggest the trip, once trapped he wants to use the quick option to safety which might be the more dangerous one.

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances we must start with the negatives, it doesn’t help that the characters are written very weakly, which gives the three main stars very little to work with, must of what they need to do is sit in a tree have the same conversation.

StoryThe story here is simple, we follow three people that get trapped by a crocodile in the middle is the North Australian waters, they must figure out how to survive and this is sold on based on a true story. there are plenty of things which don’t help the story here, first we don’t get a chance to get to know the characters well enough, they are mostly just generic because we don’t know enough to care about them. We get the same conversation about what is the best idea for seemingly ages without any action being followed. We do get to follow the normal animal attack story which mostly revolves around screaming over anything else.

Action/HorrorThe action isn’t shot with the best style, we know what is happening, its just most of the action is off camera which makes it hard to believe the crocodile attacks.

SettingsThe film puts us in the middle of the black water in North Australia which is does put our characters in a place where rescue isn’t an option and escaping isn’t one either.

Special EffectsThe effects for the after attacks look like good strong practical effects, when we start seeing the attack in progress we lose something about what we are seeing.


Scene of the Movie –
The feeding night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We see to have the same conversation 4 or 5 times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple animal attack movie that lacks that extra quality to make us truly disturbed by what we are seeing, we have dull characters and poorly shot action.

 

Overall: Simple animal attack film.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Goal II: Living the Dream (2007)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Writer: Mike Jeffries, Adrian Butchart, Terry Loane (Screenplay) Mike Jefferies, Adrian Buchart (Story)

Starring: Kuno Becker, Stephen Dillane, Leonor Varela, Elizabeth Pena, Carmelo Gomez, Miriam Colon, Rutger Hauer, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel

 

Plot: When Newcastle United soccer star Santiago Munez is offered a spot with Real Madrid, he accepts, but the move – accompanied by big money and fame – tests his ties and loyalties to family, friends and business acquaintances.


Tagline – The Journey Continues…

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Sequel

 

Story: Goal II: Living the Dream starts with Gavin Harris (Nivola) now playing for Real Madrid, noting having a good spell at the time. Santiago as continues to thrive in Newcastle planning to marry Roz (Friel), until Real Madrid come knocking for him.

Santiago signs for Real Madrid where he must learn to cope with added fame and fortune, a long-distance relationship with Roz and being in the headlines every night, let along a personal twist to his past.

 

Thoughts on Goal II: Living the Dream

 

Characters – Santiago has now been signed by the biggest club in the world, Real Madrid, the spotlight is now firmly on him, he has too much money for a young footballer, in another new country, he starts to become reckless, against the character Roz fell for, as well as making bad life decisions, much like what Gavin was doing. He must deal with learning about what happened to long lost family members in the most important stage of his career. He has taken a complete turn from the supportable young man trying to follow his dream in this film. Gavin Harris has made the move before Santiago, he has been struggling to make an impact in the new team, he has tried to turn his life around, he is in competition with Santiago for a place in the team. Roz is planning the wedding between the two, she struggles with the distance apart knowing it would difficult, she doesn’t enjoy the spotlight either. Rosa is the long-lost mother of Santiago, she can’t believe he has come to her town which has seen her raise a new family one with another gifted young footballer.

PerformancesKuno Becker does struggle with the character switch he goes through, he doesn’t know how to truly make us feel sympathetic to his characters decisions. Alessandro Nivola does get us plenty of laughs through the film. Anna Friel doesn’t get enough time to make impact like she did in the first film, while Elizabeth Pena does bring another dimension to the film.

StoryThe story follows Santiago in the next stage of his career, here he will play for the biggest club in the world and must learn to deal with new problems including fame and fortune, one that all new footballers will need to face at a younger age. This story does feel strange because we don’t see the time frame between the two movies, we don’t know how successful Santiago became at Newcastle, but it can only be a couple of seasons. The switch in character of the grounded Santiago is strange because he never wanted to cave the pressure and this time, he is doing everything recklessly. Add in the fact this is about reaching a cup final it just feels to cinematic to be a believable story, unlike the first film. the romantic side of the story does feel like it is just tagged on making little impact on the main story, it is the story of the long-lost mother and the truth about what happened that does make the biggest impact on the story.

SportsThe football success chasing is strong, but does feel too cinematic with the goals mostly being unrealistic.

SettingsThe film takes us to Spain and the elite living class of a footballer, we see how they can walk in anywhere to be known, but it does give weather to feel like home.


Scene of the Movie –
Meeting mum.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The goals scored are ridiculously fake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing sequel, mostly because it changes the character, we got to know too much from the first film.

 

Overall: Sequel that doesn’t live up to the original.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – F – Fighting Beat (2007)

Director: Piti Jaturaphat

Starring: David Bueno, Peerawat Herabat, Nattanun Jantarawetch, Andrew Koji, Nahatai Lekbumrung, Lex Luther, Than Thanakorn

 

Plot: A group of young Muay Thai experts led by David are forced to use their deadly training to protect themselves when the local extortionist threatens to kill their mentors daughter if he doesn’t give up his bar.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 18 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Muay Thai 101

 

Story: Fighting Beat starts as we meet Khem (Thanakorn) who lives in the area of Phi Phi Island, by day he with Aey (Herabat) work as guides for divers in the beautiful waters, by night the city comes to life as Khem entertains the fans in the local bar and fighting spots.

The happy little world is put to the test when David (Buneo) and his gang arrive in town wanting to uses their Muay Thai skills to intimidate the locals as they want to take over the bar, it is up o Khem to improve his skills to fight back and defend his own little part of paradise.

 

Thoughts on Fighting Beat

 

Characters – Khem was raised by a monk after his father was murdered, he has studied Muay Thai, living a life which sees him guide tourists to the best diving spots and entertain crowds in a local bar with his fighting skills, even if the results are fixed for the tourists to win. He will lead his friends in the fight back to stay in control of their local bar after a new gang tries to take over it, he must fight for everything he has in his life. David leads the attack on the bar which will see him turn to people who have a past that would be more of a threat in a fight. We have two sides in this fight, we have Khem’s friends that enjoy the life they live that will band together to fight back and David’s gang that will defend themselves with everything they have to put down the locals who are the only ones that fight back.

PerformancesThan Thanakorn is in the leading role which like most of the talent in this film sees to be trained in Muay Thai, everyone involved gets their moment to show their skills and the chemistry between the friends feels natural too.

StoryThe story is very simple it follows a group of locals that will fight to keep the local bar in the locals hands after a gang forces the owner into giving it up. We do get to see how one character, Khem does get to face the demons of his past in the defending the bar, only that is the biggest strain to take away from the two main gangs fighting. We are invested in the story by seeing how the locals do seem to be living in a paradise like world, where their friendship is what gives them added strength too.

ActionThe action is what we are here for, we get plenty of fighting sequences, which are entertaining, though you can see just how choreographed the sequences are.

SettingsThe film is set in the Phi Phil island which shows just how much of a paradise this location is.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain fights feel overly hesitant.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple and enjoyable Muay Thai fighting action movie, it has an easy to follow story and will keep the martial arts fans happy.

 

Overall: Simple and Enjoyable.

Rating