ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – F – The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

 

Director: Rob Minkoff

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay)

Starring: Jet Li, Michael Angarano, Jackie Chan, Juana Collignon, Morgan Benoit, Jack Posobiec, Yifei Liu, Bingbing Li

 

Plot: A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Martial Arts Film

 

Story: The Forbidden Kingdom starts as we meet outsider teenager Jason (Angarano) who has a love for kung fu movies, his life is tipped upside down when he ends up in Ancient China with an important weapon, but no one speaks his language. Once in China Jason meets Lu Yan (Chan) a drunken master that helps him return the weapon a staff to the Monkey King (Li) the only man that could stop the Jade Warlord (Chou) reign of terror.

Jason becomes Lu Yan’s student as he joins him on a quest to save the Monkey King, where they are joined by the Golden Sparrow (Liu) on their journey, where the enemies come thick and fast, Jason will need to learn who to trust though.

 

 

Thoughts on The Forbidden Kingdom

 

Characters – Jason is an American teenager who loves kung fu, he is a loner but soon finds himself transported back to Ancient China in the middle of a battle against the Jade Emperor’s reign of terror. Here he must learn the skills he loves on an adventure he could never have dreamed off. Lu Yan is one of the eight immortals living, his elixir is wine, he takes Jason under his wing to head to release the Monkey King. The Silent Monk also joins the journey as another great warrior in need of fighting his way to the give himself the freedom. Golden Sparrow also joins the party as she is fighting for revenge against the Jade Emperor for slaughtering her family. Ni Chang is the general set to retrieve the staff from Jason for the Jade Warlord, she is beautiful and deadly showing why she was the first choice by the warlord.

PerformancesMichael Angarano is the teenager, he performs well with the highly trained talent within the film. Jackie Chan and Jet Li are the big draws for this film, they bring the skills and get to have some fun in their roles. the female leads are strong too, with Yifei Liu and Bingbing Li both showing their skills in combat with the elite in the industry.

StoryThe story follows the loner that gets transported to the time he loves, in this case Ancient China where he finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle for power. This is a routine story that brings two of the biggest icons of martial arts together for the world audience. We have the elements of our teenager learning and the characters that fit the film wonderfully throughout to tell the story of redemption needed to complete their destinies.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big like you would expect in any martial arts film, with have plenty of fights for both Chan and Li to show off their skills. The adventure takes out unlikely hero from the streets of Boston to Ancient China in what is a fantasy world of immortals, witches and warlords.

SettingsThe American settings show just how far our teenager will go on his adventure, while the ancient Chinese setting shows us the old traditions that Jason must learn to stay alive.

Special EffectsThe effects are the weakest part of the film, we have certain moments that look genuine, but they are soon followed by moments you can almost see the stunt being performed.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too by the book.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice fun enjoyable action adventure film, it doesn’t take things too seriously and can be enjoyed by all martial arts fans.

 

Overall: Enjoyable and fun throughout.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Ip Man (2008)

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Edmond Wong, Tai-Lee Chan (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi

 

Plot: During the Japanese invasion of 1937, when a wealthy martial artist is forced to leave his home and work to support his family, he reluctantly agrees to train others in the art of Wing Chun for self-defense.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Action Packed Martial Arts Film

 

Story: Ip Man starts as we meet Master Ip (Yen) one of the many master in the city of Fo Shan, but possible the greatest, even if he doesn’t let the rest of the town know this, he is wealthy with a wife Cheung (Hung) and child Chun to keep happy while teaching. When out of towners led by Jin (Fan) arrive in town they defeat all the Masters including the one believed to be the best. Ip does put Jin in his place as the city turns to him to become a trainer.

The years go by and Japan invades China in the late 1930’s, Ip and his family find themselves homeless after their home is taken over by the army Ip must do anything he can to make money which does include fight for rice against the Japanese General Miura (Ikeuhci), while also teaching the locals to defend themselves.

 

Thoughts on Ip Man

 

Characters – Ip Man is the greatest Master in Fo Shan, he lives a quiet life where he doesn’t get involved in the fights unless it is for honour, when the war hits, he must learn to survive while using his skills to put food on the table of his family. General Miura is a trained fighter from the Japanese side of the war, he wants competition and holds fighting tournaments for a worthy opponent and his latest choice is in fact Ip Man, he does handle the combat with honour. Jin is an outsider that has never been given a chance, he likes to take people on in combat and will look for an easy way to make money.

PerformanceDonnie Yen has fast become one of the biggest martial artist to come out of China, he doesn’t do the comedy Chan does and is not as flashy as Jet Li but his style shines through this film as he handles to combat effortless as well as the emotional factors needed. Hiroyuki Ikeuchi is great in his role too because he character might be the enemy but he does pull of the honourable side to the battle. Siu-Wong Fan shows us the desperation needed during the war time in his character.

StoryThe story of a Master in martial arts needing to overcome enemies be it general outsiders or the Japanese to give his town hope is something that can be watched and enjoyed by all. This shows the desperate battle to survive the Chinese faced when the Japanese invaded. Seeing how everything plays out you support each decision being made while the enemies are portrayed correctly for the story to unfold too.

Action/Biography/SportsThe action sequences are stunning with fast hitting action going on during every battle scene, the look at this small part of Ip Man’s life shows the impact he made in the war.

SettingsThe settings all play out like you would expect, where we get to see how the war effected everything the people were fighting for.

Scene of the Movie – Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Even though General Miura is the enemy General it would have been interesting to see more of his story as he does seem to fight for honour over blood.

Final ThoughtsThis is another very good history lesson about one of the greatest martial artists the world ever saw, we see how he rallied a national to win a war, bought towns together to defend themselves and never gave up his honour.

 

Overall: Must watch for martial arts fans everywhere.

Rating

 

 

Jessica Alba Weekend – The Eye (2008)

Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez (Screenplay) Yuet-Jan Hui, Oxide Chun Pang, Danny Pang (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Rade Serbedzija, Fernanda Romero, Rachel Ticotin, Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Plot: A woman receives an eye transplant that allows her to see into the supernatural world.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Bad as I Remember

 

Story: The Eye starts as we meet blind violinist Sydney Wells (Alba) who is about to get a cornea transplant giving her sight back for the first time since she was five. With the operation being a success, Sydney along with her sister Helen (Posey) must work together as the change takes effect with the vision taking time to return.

Sydney now must learn to see once again but with horrific visions make her start to question herself, she has a DR Paul Faulkner (Nivola) who comes along to help her with these new experiences but he can only help with the reality of seeing again, not the supernatural side of things.

As the nightmares and visions become more realistic Sydney finds herself walking the thin line between paranoia and reality as she finds herself investigating these visions to learn the truth about the eyes she has been inherited.

 

Thoughts on The Eye

 

Characters/PerformanceSydney is given the chance to see once again but dealing with the new eyes makes her question everything in her day as she is given the chance to witness the living being taken by the reaper. I have a lot of questions about this character because we never learn her job which must have been limited because of her blindness, there is an origin to why she is blind to which we don’t get to see either and I feel most of the development of this character is very poor. Dr Faulkner is an average forgettable doctor who doesn’t even fill the romantic love interest and the sister well why is she even in this movie?

The performances are fine Jessica Alba does well without shining but the rest of the cast just doesn’t seem to fit in the film enough.

StoryThe idea that when you get a transplant your body could change has been proven so why not mix this up into a horror film, well the Chinese thought this would be a good story too. This is the remake of that story, so we know the story is very similar and interesting to see unfold because this film isn’t about a big body count like other horrors, it is the ghost mystery which is something I do always have a soft spot for and does keep you guessing along the way.

Horror/MysteryThe horror side of this movie is nearly all jump scares as the film doesn’t reach the true levels of the original, the mystery side of things is what keeps us going through to see where it all ends up going.

SettingsThe settings just don’t work for this film, you can’t understand how Sydney is in the location she lives in without learning about her job.

Special EffectsHere is an iffy part of the film, the special effects which you can see being added with the CGI.

Final ThoughtsWhile I do think the original is scarier, this is a simple to follow and easy horror to watch for all that would be watching.

 

Overall: Remake which works but doesn’t reach the same levels.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – U – Untraceable (2008)

untracDirector: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker, Allison Burnett (Screenplay) Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker (Story)

Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Gray Lewis

 

Plot: FBI agent Jennifer Marsh is tasked with hunting down a seemingly untraceable serial killer who posts live videos of his victims on the Internet. As time runs out, the cat and mouse chase becomes more personal.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dark Thriller

 

Story: Untraceable starts as we meet a partnership within the FBI computer division where Jennifer Marsh (Lane) and Griffin Dowd (Hanks) search for cybercrimes. This is show as we see how good the pair are at tracking down and capturing the criminals.

The main story starts when Jennifer discovers a website called ‘Kill With Me’ showing a tortured cat that can’t be closed down. When the killer returns, he picks a human victim with brings in Detective Eric Box (Burke) to work with Jennifer to figure out the motive behind the killer’s actions.

 

Thoughts on Untraceable

 

StoryWe all like to see a good dark crime thriller and this story delivers on that, we get plenty of graphic murders happening by the killer as we are left to wonder just what his motives are. I do think we have a killer with good motives once we learn them and I also like how everything in circled around societies new obsession with the internet and viral videos. This is a crime story I would expect that fans of the genre to enjoy even if certain elements are slightly too dark for some.

Crime/Mystery/Thriller We get a crime story that is full of the everything you need for an intense thriller that shows just how dark crimes can be when you looking for why the crime is taking place. We do have the mystery side of the story as we have to figure out why the killer is committing these crimes.

Characters/PerformanceWhen it comes to the characters Jennifer Marsh is developed to be the solo parent who seems to be the only one smart enough to figure out how to stop the killer, well her and her partner Griffin. When you look at the Detective Box character you are left wondering how he was in that position because he has no clue about the crimes going on. The killer does have good motives but in the end we are left feeling he is defeated slightly too easily. I do think the performances are all good without being considered any of the best of that year.

SettingsI think the settings are solid because the killer wants it hard to find him but in the end, nothing feels like it is anything special to where the events of the film take place.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good dark thriller I do think people can enjoy even if it is too dark for the casual fans.

 

Overall: Deliciously dark crime thriller that tries to push boundaries with the killer.

Ratingcard

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – Quarantine (2008)

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Writer: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle (Screenplay) Jaume Balaguero, Luiso Berdejo, Pace Plaza (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Columbus Short, Andrew Fiscella

 

Plot: A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC, after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Did We Need It?

 

Story: Quarantine starts as Angela Vidal (Carpenter) a reporter who assigned with her cameraman Scott (Harris) to follow a firefighter team around on one night. Learning how the men get through their time together, they finally get a call to an apartment building where it isn’t a fire they are tackling, it is a blood thirsty group of humans but to make things worse, the team find themselves quarantined within the building.

Angela continues to report from inside the building as the others look for a way out even though nearly all the outings are closed up but they now face a bigger threat from the inside as the dead are coming back from the dead and after human flesh.

 

Thoughts on Quarantine

 

Characters/PerformanceAngela is the reporter just looking to get a great story but finds herself on the edge of one of the biggest stories she could have ever imagined. It would be fair to say the rest of the characters are just people in the building, the cameraman and firefighters, none of which we learn too much about.

Performance wise, Jennifer Carpenter is good in the leading role but the problem with a ‘found footage’ film is that if you know the stars it loses the realism needed from when you have unknowns.

StoryThe story is simple enough, the new reporter and her cameraman get caught up in the middle of a quarantine of a potentially deadly infection spreading around which could kill everyone in the building, city and eventually the world. This doesn’t offer anything new from the original but does lose moments it needed to make it stand out.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror is simple enough and does work in places but not to the levels the original offered us. You are also not on the edge of your seat like you once might have been watching the first film.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the building, it has no escape and a virus spreading, this does work and is easily the strongest element of this film.

Special EffectsThis movie does have a bigger budget than the original and does use that on the special effects which come off very well when it comes to the zombie like infected characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a remake we didn’t need, the original has good sequels and this one offers nothing new to the idea which only disappoints for the audience.

 

Overall: Disappoint sequel that doesn’t hit all the heights of the original.

Rating