ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating

 

 

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Ron Perlman Weekend – Blade II (2002)

Director: Guillermo del Torro

Writer: David S Goyer (Screenplay) Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan (Characters)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kirstofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus, Thomas Kretschmann, Luke Goss, Donnie Yen

 

Plot: Blade forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council in order to combat the Reapers, who are feeding on vampires.


Tagline – One Man Still Has The Edge

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Blood-Soaked Sequel

 

Story: Blade II starts as a new breed of vampire Nomak (Goss) hunts down vampires for feed, meanwhile Blade (Snipes) has unfinished business with the vampires, he wants Whistler (Krisofferson) back after he was turned and taken from him. Once Whistler is saved, Blade returns him to the human form with his new assistant Scud (Reedus).

When the Vampire council approach Blade to help them stop the Reaper strain Nomak is carrying, Blade must team up with the Blood Pack led by Nyssa (Varela) and including Reinhardt (Perlman), Snowman (Yen) and Chupa (Schulze) to put aside their difference to defeat the newest enemy to them both.

 

Thoughts on Blade II

 

Characters – Blade, daywalker, the half human, half vampire is continuing his battle against vampires, but this time he learns of a new threat the Reapers, who are deadlier than any vampire he has face, so he must unite with the vampires to defeat them. Still as deadly as before, with sword or guns, no vampire can just defeat him. Whistler returns only this time Blade must help him to recover, which leaves us wondering which side of the battle he will be on through the movie. Reinhardt is a member of the Bloodpack, he is the one that hates working with Blade, his sworn enemy for years. He shows his discontent while be one of the best soldiers in the unit. Nyssa is the daughter of Damaskinos, a pure blood vampire and leader of the Bloodpack, she becomes a Love interest for Blade in a strange turn of events. Scud has filled the Whistler role for Blade in his hunt, he creates the weapons needed to defeat the enemies while mostly being a slob for the most part. Damaskinos is the leader of the vampire council, he brings the rivals together to try and end the war. Nomak is the reaper terrorising the streets, he is the first of his creation and now deadly to anyone who he infects.

PerformancesWesley Snipes will always be remembered for this role, it is his most iconic and the one the fans enjoy watching. Here he does everything needed to continue making it people’s favourite. Kristofferson on the other hand does feel like he is mailing it in for the most part. Ron Perlman does the best to try and steal the spotlight bring the few moments of humour to the film. Leonor Varela is good as the only major female character in the film and does have a good opening fight sequence with Blade. Luke Goss is good as the villain showing us the sympathetic side and the brutal side of his character. The rest of the cast are good through the film.

StoryThe story puts our hero Blade needing to team up with his enemy to take on a new enemy, this does work because we didn’t need to see Blade just take on more normal vampires, we needed to up the stakes and the new breed does this. We also get the tension between the two sides with the common enemy, needing to trade secrets to make things happen. We must remember this is a comic book movie, so we need things to be farfetched at time too. We have the traditional twists you would come to expect at times too.

Action/HorrorThe action is fun, we have great fighting sequences, but certain moments feel like a video game. The horror uses the vampires for the blood filled violence moments in the film.

SettingsThe settings show us the dark underworld you would imagine vampires would live in, the new breed in the sewers shows us how they are starting at the bottom looking to raise to the top too.

Special EffectsThe effects for the kills are good throughout, the effects for the fight scenes are at times seems poor CGI.


Scene of the Movie –
Sewer invasion.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Donnie Yen’s characters death, wasted opportunity.

Final ThoughtsThis was a fun comic book action horror, we get plenty of blood flying around with plenty of kills going on which will keep the fans happy.

 

Overall: Great sequel for an iconic character.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Ip Man 3 (2015)

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Tai-lee Chan, Lai-yin Leung, Edmond Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson, Patrick Tam

 

Plot: When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over a local school, Master Ip is forced to take a stand.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong but Still Weakest of the Trilogy

 

Story: Ip Man 3 starts as we learn Ip Man (Yen) is now one of the most respected men in town with larger class of students and helping in the community.  Secretly in town Frank (Tyson) has been running a fight club that Tin-chi (Zhang) is the star fighter and Ip and Tin-chi become friends as they fight to protect their children’s school from a gangster and former student Ma King-Sing (Tam) to fight their battles.

Ip must face his most personal battle when his own son is taken as part of the leverage to get his men to leave the school and Tin-chi proves to be a worthy fighting partner even if hi morals are not as clean as Ip’s, but soon Tin-chi becomes jealous of the publicity Ip man gets over him.

 

Thoughts on Ip Man 3

 

Characters – Ip has once again reached the status we first met him in the first film, respect from everyone that has heard of him. This time he must battle a personal battle against gangster and another one that he will not be winning. Cheung the wife of Ip has been by his side through everything but this time she must help Ip man face mortality. Tin-chi is also a Wing Chun fighter that has been fighting in the fight clubs but soon he wants to make a name for himself in battle against Ip.

PerformanceDonnie Yen continues his record of being great as the Ip Man showing the combat needed to handle a higher emotional level than before. Lynn Hung gives her best performance in the franchise to date, but this is because she actually has something to do this time. Jin Zhang is great to showing he could potentially be a next generation of big name fighters to come from China.

StoryThe story here does feel less significate this time around because Ip has his status regain, he is only fighting the odd gangster as one man wants to prove who the Grandmaster in town is, it is the personal story between Ip and his wife that is the strongest part of story but it just doesn’t get the most focus required in the story. of the three this is easily the weakest of the series, it is also the most confusing due to the villains seemingly only lasting for about 30 minutes.

Action/Biography/SportsThe action is fantastic once more and shows how to put together a martial arts movie but just for the biopic part of the film, it does just feel like they are just using the name to make a small story bigger.

SettingsWe continue to move into the future of Ip’s life and the settings show this without them looking out of place in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – Dance, not fight

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of true villain this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong trilogy for the action sequences throughout the film but this is the weakest combat story even if it does have the most important personal story for Ip to go through.

 

Overall: Great action set piece.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Ip Man 2 (2010)

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Tai-lee Chan, Hiu-Yan Choi, Edmond Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Xiaoming Huang, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Lynn Hung, Kent Cheng, Darren Shahlavi

 

Plot: Centering on Ip Man’s migration to Hong Kong in 1949 as he attempts to propagate his discipline of Wing Chun martial arts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Actioner

 

Story: Ip Man 2 starts in 1949, as Ip Man (Yen) has migrated to Hong Kong to start his own martial arts school, struggle for pupils early on it is Wong Shun-Leung (Huang) who becomes his first student, one of many who want to learn the art of Wing Chun. Ip must also come to terms with the causalities of the war with the friends that are no longer the same.

Ip clashes with fellow Master Hung Chun-Nam (Hung) who also has control of the city, this forces Ip into passing tests to prove himself worthy of being able to train in the city. This soon turns into a city-wide battle between the students trying to honour their masters.

 

Thoughts on Ip Man 2

 

Characters – Ip Man find himself residing in Hong Kong, he looks to pass on his training to anyone who wants to learn but he must stand up for what he believes in against the Master who runs the city to prove he is the true master. Leung is the first student Ip recruits, he is rash at times but his determination is everything needed to learn. Master Hung runs the city, he sees Ip as a threat to his power but over the course of the film the two learn to put aside their difference to face a common enemy.

PerformanceDonnie Yen once again shines in this leading role showing us once again that he is ready to be the biggest name in martial arts films. Xiaoming Huang is also good in this supporting role showing us a student role needed for the movie. Sammo Hung is great in his role as the rival master that grows respect through the film, it plays it all straight throughout. The performance throughout are good though the Brits do feel out of place in the film with their performances that do feel over the top.

StoryThe story does follow Ip Man as he must overcome a foreign enemy as well as one from home. Yes, the enemy isn’t as deadly to the whole country this time but it does show how he will stand up for his martial art form against anyone who is willing to get in his way and gain respect from the people that doubted him. It does feel like the previous formula once more with less of a threat but a deadlier final showdown.

Action/Biography/Sports The action here is fantastic with the combat sequences looking and feeling like the punches and kicks are real, this is also a look at another chapter of Ip Man’s life and what his belief and martial arts style bought to the world.

SettingsThe settings have changed but they still look like we are part of the movie for each of the experience Ip Man goes through.

Scene of the Movie – The massive fish market battle early on, because of the scale of the battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Brits are made to be complete assholes.

Final ThoughtsA sequel worthy of standing tall next to the first and one that can be enjoyed picking up in the middle too.

 

Overall: Must watch again for martial arts fans.

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