Donnie Yen Weekend – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay) Du Lu Wang (Book)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jason Scott Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Roger Yuan

 

Plot: A story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption.


Tagline – The past returns with a vengeance.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sequel

 

Story: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny starts 18-years after Yu (Yeoh) saw her love die returns to safeguard the sword of destiny, after a warlord Hades Dai (Lee) goes in search for the sword believing it will give him the power to conquer the land.

Needing to protect the sword, Yu puts out a call for warriors to come and help defend it, which sees Silent Wolf (Yen) put together a five-person army, while Yu takes on a new student Snow Vase (Bordizzo) with skills advanced of her age.

 

Thoughts on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

 

Characters – Yu has returned from her isolation and mourning after 18-years away only to stumble into the next attempt to steal the Sword of Destiny, here she must learn who to trust, reunite with an old ally and put herself in the teaching position. Silent Wolf has lived a life in isolation, where his loved ones believed him to be dead, he returns to help defend the sword for the greatest honour in his life. Wei Fang is a young warrior that is being forced into stealing the sword to protect his master, he learns about his past and along with Snow Vase who also has a decision of her own to make, provide the unsure future for Yu on who to trust. Snow Vase is the talented young fighter knowing skills beyond her age, she askes to be taught even if she isn’t as disciplined as she should be.

PerformancesMichelle Yeoh returns to this role, she brings the fight skills that made the first one fantastic and must play the role with an emotionless feeling of being broken, which she does with ease. Donnie Yen takes up the mysterious fighter role which is a role that he could take any day and never look out of place. it is the new comers that impress in the fighting side of things, where they struggle in places with the emotional factors at play in their characters.

StoryThe story here returns Yu back to the land she once fought for, where she must defend it from a new warlord that wants the sword which could bring power to control the land. This is a sequel that does well to return one of the favourites which also dives into her past to bring a new character, while also offer people that could become the new leads if the series was going to continue. When we break down the story it does play into tradition of being loyal and honour. It would have been nice to see more from the villain which only has a few moments which are just generic villain style, without seeing him do anything truly villainous.

Action/FantasyThe action in the film is the martial arts material we have enjoyed for years, we have the weightless effects which were famous from the first which add the style required to be unique. This does play into the fantasy of the action which goes against the physics of fighting.

SettingsThe film brings back the settings we knew and still look fantastic, with the final showdown being in a new location which is used to add to the fight.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to make the fights feel like they could be real, the weightless style is the best part of the fights.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain moments of the Wei Fang and Snow Vase does drag at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel to a much more superior original, it will entertain without being anywhere near the level original.

 

Overall: Entertaining for the fans.

Rating

 

 

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Donnie Yen Weekend – Iceman (2014)

Director: Wing-Cheong Law

Writer: Fung Lam, Mark Wu (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Shengyi Huang, Kang Yu, Simon Yam, Suet Lam

 

Plot: An imperial guard and his three traitorous childhood friends ordered to hunt him down get accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later passes and they are defrosted continuing the battle they left behind.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Action, Weak Comedy

 

Story: Iceman starts when Ho Ying (Yen) gets awoken from a frozen sleep of 400-years in the modern time, he must look to adapt fast to a world different from his own. Ying isn’t the only one to make it to the modern time, his brothers Sao (Wang) and Niehu (Yu) arrive as they look to hunt him down after all these years after he is meant to of betrayed his emperor.

Ying must use the people willing to help him in May (Huang) to locate the Golden Wheel of Time, to prove that he is innocent to stop his brother’s from hunting him down.

 

Thoughts on Iceman

 

Characters – Ying was once one of the emperor’s most trusted imperial guards, he is betrayed and framed for treason before getting frozen in time. He gets defrosted in the modern time, where he must go in search for the Golden Wheel of Time to prove his true innocence and protect the world from his own brothers. Sao and San Ko are the two brothers that have also, they are causing more havoc in their hunt for Ying which has drawn more police presence. May is the young lady that takes Ying in, teaches him about the modern day unaware of the true danger that could come their direction. Cheung is running a military chase for Ying, he has learnt the power of the Golden Wheel of Time and believes that he can use it for his own good.

PerformancesDonnie Yen is the main attraction to this film, we know he can handle the action which is does with ease, it is when it needs to work on the comedy side of things when his performance goes downhill. Baoqiang Wang and Kang Yu are both entertaining enough in their roles, while Simon Yam brings much needed seriousness to the film. Shengyi Huang is the strongest part of the comedy in the film.

StoryThe story follows three brothers and former imperial guards in ancient China, find themselves waking up in the modern time, still at battle for the action that happened in the ancient times. This story is an ambitious idea and it does work for the idea of having the fish out of water situation created for the imperial guards. We do go through the idea of needing to figure out how survive in the new surrounding, which does work too and seeing the twists along the way with the flashbacks does fill in moments of blanks in the storyline. Parts of the storyline can come off confusing though because we do seem to have a lot going on and it does feel like if you blink you might miss something.

Action/ComedyThe action in this film is easily the highlight of it, we get to see Donnie Yen doing his fighting sequences which are always entertaining to watch. The comedy however falls flat resorting to fart jokes, May is the only one that gets proper laughs.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how the ancient men must adapt to the modern world with the different type of locations they visit.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good in places, but weak if others, when it comes to the roaring faces they particular look weak.


Scene of the Movie –
Bridge fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Fart Jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy watch action sci-fi film, if you want martial arts entertainment this will give you what you need.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action film.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

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