ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Red Cliff (2008)

Director: John Woo

Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu

 

Plot: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacular Battles but Hard to Follow

 

Story: Red Cliff starts in the year 220 A.D. with Sun Quan (Chang) sending his army lead by General Cao Cao (Zhang) to defeat the southlands to create a peace within China. The other sides of the battle come from Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) who joins a union with Zhou Yu (Leung) to stop this battle from taking over the country.

As the battle rages on we come to the final showdown as the Red Cliff, one of the most famous battles in Chinese history and if you don’t know history you will be left wondering who won.

 

Thoughts on Red Cliff

 

Characters – Zhou Yu is a great warrior that eliminates any enemy that comes close to threatening him. Zhuge Liang is the calm tactical leader that brings two sides together in battle to stop the general. Cao Cao is the general trying to win the battle against the Southlands, he is aggressive in his tactics which would eventually be his weakness.

PerformanceThe performance from the whole cast are good throughout the film, we get to see the combat skills from some of the cast and their abilities to look like the calmest person in the room in other.

StoryThe story is focused on one of the greatest battles in Chinese history, it bought change to the nation and most importantly showed how organised and deadly the three sides of the battle were. If I am honest I did find this hard to follow as I haven’t done much in research into Chinese history but other than that if you just look to watch the battle sequences this is a visual over storytelling experience.

Action/History/WarThe action is the highlight of this film because the sequences are amazing to watch, we do get to look into history which is fine with the war side of the film showing us just how far the three sides would go for victory.

SettingsThe settings are mostly military based as we see both sides prepare for the battle around the iconic location of Red Cliff.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show in the increased number in battles which looks great through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The arrows on the river.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was hard to follow at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action packed historical film but it does drift into the land of hard to follow at other times.

 

Overall: Breath taking battles but difficult storyline.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

Matthew Fox Weekend – Vantage Point (2008)

Director: Pete Travis

Writer:  Barry L Levy (Screenplay)

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Said Tahgmaoui, Zoe Saldana, Edgar Ramirez, Bruce McGill

 

Plot: The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.


Tagline –  If you think you’ve seen it all…Look Again

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Relentless Action Packed Film

 

Story: Vantage Point starts in Salamanca, Spain where the world leaders are meeting for President Ashton (Hurt) anti-terrorist agreement which would bring nations from around the world together. Rex Brooks (Weaver) is controlling the media side of the story, with Angie Jones (Saldana) on the grounds.

President Ashton surrounded by secret service agents including Thomas Barnes (Quaid) who has saved the President in the past and flanked by Kent Taylor (Fox). When the President in shot a bomb is set off outside the plaza leave many dead including our reporter Angie.

We rewind to follow the events from Thomas’s perspective, his struggle to suit up and put his life on the line for the President. We continue to follow different vantage points we learn the bigger picture of the events of this day.

 

Thoughts on Vantage Point

 

Characters – Thomas Barnes is a secret service agent, he has saved the President before and his mindset has been questioned before, but he is excellent at his job, he must act quickly to learn the truth about who tried to assassinate the President. Kent Taylor is a fellow secret service agent, the one that supports Barnes’ return to duty, he goes in pursuit off the suspect doing his duty for the President. Howard Lewis is a tourist that is having a difficult personal life and was using this trip as a break from his family, he is filming the events becoming a crucial witness to the events. Rex Brooks is the television news director, controlling her reporter on the stage, the cameras in the arena, she has a history with trying to get Barnes to talk about his lifesaving moment in the past. President Ashton is about to agree on the biggest counter-terrorist agreement in world history, he will be making history at this event. We continue to follow other people too including the mysterious woman Veronica that becomes one of the prime suspects.

PerformancesThe performances here are good throughout the whole cast, not a single person truly becomes the main character of the film so, no one takes centre stage. Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt to name the biggest names are able to show how to make an impact with limited time.

StoryThe story follows the panic which follows an attempted assassination attempt of the President, we follow the different viewpoints, we flashback to different points where each vantage point does take us to the next stage of the story, keeping us guessing on each moment of the events of the day. This story does show the pure panic that would follow an assassination attempt and bombs going of at such a public event. The real-time feeling gives us an extra dimension to this film which makes this a real edge of your seat story which keeps us guessing.

Action/CrimeThe action comes thick and fast in this film, we have a car chase through the tight streets and plenty of foot pursuits the drive the movie as we are left to figure out who committed the crime.

SettingsThe settings give us the opening feeling of hope for the world, this setting then shows us how perfect it would be for creating the chaos required for the terrorist actions.


Scene of the Movie –
Car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Forest Whitaker’s jump, it doesn’t suit the running rescue.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most underrated action films if you want something that doesn’t make you think to much but does keep you guessing this is one for you. It is a relentless film that doesn’t give you too much time to breath.

 

Overall: Action fans just go and watch this.

Rating

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman (Screenplay) John Boyne (Novel)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Jack Scanlon, Vera Farmiga

 

Plot: Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.


Tagline – A story of innocence in a world of ignorance

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heart Shattering Movie

 

Story: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas starts as Bruno (Butterfield) and his family Mother (Farmiga), Father (Thewlis) and sister Gretel (Beattie) move from Berlin to the countryside during World War II. The new home takes Bruno’s family near a concentration camp, this leaves Bruno wondering why everyone there is where Pyjamas and leaving him forbidden from going out of the house.

When Bruno befriends one of the boys Shmuel (Scanlon) who is in the camp, Bruno must start to learn why the people are being kept like this as he learns that Jews are considered the enemy of his country, but he doesn’t understand this. The truth will only shatter Bruno’s view on the world.

 

Thoughts on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

 

Characters – Bruno is the 8-year-old boy living in Germany during World War II, he doesn’t understand the world yet, he must learn that his new friends are Jews and considered the enemies to the non-Jews. He tries to become friends while not becoming blinkered like his own sister to what is expected within Germany at the time, showing us the innocence that was affected by war. Father is the rest why the family must move, he is in charge of the concentration camp but hiding the truth from his family. Mother tries to put a smile on but when she learns the truth she is in shock with what her husband is doing but can’t talk out because it would leave her with the same fate. Shmuel is the Jewish boy that Bruno befriends, he is in the concentration camp which makes their friendship forbidden but through him we see how Bruno doesn’t see how the world truly is.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield is fantastic in the leading role, he shows all the innocence to play this character. David Thewlis is always good in the almost villainous role, while he is the bad figure in history, he is a good father. Vera Farmiga is great as the mother that sees the light in what is going on and how wrong it is. Jack Scanlon is great as the Jewish boy that is behind the fence that befriends Bruno, he shows the despair in what the Jews would be going through.

StoryThe story is already dealing with one of the most disturbing events in modern history as we see how the Germans handled the Jews. Seeing this from the perspective of an innocent Germany boy who doesn’t know what is wrong or right about the war shows us how horrific the events were. This is a story of how he must learn what is really going without ever being shown the truth he doesn’t know what is going on while we see both sides of his family react to what is happening differently. This is by far one of the most disturbing and shocking stories you will ever see that shows the heart break of what happened and how the children never knew the horrors of war.

WarThis doesn’t show the conflict of war, it shows the separation that the Germans had with the Jews through the eyes of young boy who didn’t know what was going on.

SettingsThe settings are Berlin and a countryside location never mentioned, it shows the divide created by the Germans in the war for no reason other than God figure people believed in.


Scene of the Movie –
The adventure in Bruno’s mind.

That Moment That Annoyed Me English accents.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart breaking movies you will see, it shows that the victims of war came from all sides and the reality of it was even worse.

 

Overall: Brings your tissues along.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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