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Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18060 on: May 20, 2018, 11:03:28 PM »
PTU ( a.k.a.. PTU: Police Tactical Unit ) ( 2003 )
Quick recap. A few months ago I decided to buy all the movies released by Dragon Dynasty for my martial arts/Asian action film collection.  My wheelhouse when it comes to Asian films is the Oldschool era ( about 1967 - 1983 ) which was almost completely martial arts, and the New Wave era ( about 1983 - 1997 ).   I didn't know anything about Asian films made after 1997, other than those of Jackie Chan, and the few films which had some cross over success likeKill Zone, The Vengeance Trilogy, the Ip Man films and The Raid. I was informed by those who continued to keep track of Asian films after 1997 that the new films released by Dragon Dynasty were major releases with critical acclaim. The possibility that Dragon Dynasty is on the verge of being shut down with the rest of the Weinstein company, and all the discs will go OOP had me deciding to buy their DVDs before they became rare and only available at collectors prices.

The Dragon Dynasty boxes come with numbers on the spine. #1, which was the first movie released by Dragon Dynasty, was SPL: Killzone. With their releases numbered, it was very tempting to buy them all as a complete set. However, I decided not to buy any of the movies I already owned on Laserdisc. Not that I didn't want the upgrade. But if I am going to buy the film again on DVD then there better be a significant upgrade. Such as restoring the film to include scenes not available in the previous American releases. Dragon Dynasty never attempted to restore any of their films, using the same dubbed abridged masters. Another reason for not collecting all the releases, a couple of the films I bought on Blu-ray instead of DVD. And the Blu-rays had a different release order resulting in different numbers on the spine. My Blu-ray of SPL: Killzone was #7, contradicting my DVD release of Infernal Affair 3 which also had #7 on the spine.

The Dragon Dynasty releases I knew I was skipping; #2  Police Story ( got it both on VHS as Jackie Chan's Police Force and on laserdisc as Police Story ), #5 Police Story 2 ( laserdisc ), #9 Above The Law ( got it from Tai Sing under the title Righting Wrongs ), #10 Shanghai Express ( got it from Tai Sing under the title Millionaires Express ), #15 Hard Boiled ( Criterion laserdisc ), #17 Crime Story ( laserdisc ),  #26 Flash Point (  The copy of this film I bought came from Well Go USA.  A 2015 release with the same exact  box art and lettering with only the Dragon Dynasty logos removed  and replaced with Well Go logos.  While the Dragon Dynasty created extras  were missing, it had the  extras ported from the HK release including making of and deleted scenes.  ), #30 Tai Chi Master ( part of a Jet Li DVD movie collection ), #31 Fist of Legend ( same collection ), #33 Supercop ( laserdisc ), #36 The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk ( DVD collection ) and #41 The Killer ( Criterion laserdisc ).

Dragon Dynasty was founded in 2006 as a joint venture between The Weinstein Company and Genius Products.  While at Dimension Films, the Weinstein brothers acquired the distribution rights to a handful of Hong Kong action films, which could have made Dimension the first major Hollywood studio to distribute Asian action films since the Kung Fu boom of the 70s. However, parent company Disney kept getting cold feet, and the film's ended up shelved. ( Including the critically acclaimed Drunken Master II which the Weinsteins acquired in 1994 and wasn't released until 2000 ). When the Weinsteins parted ways with Disney to form The Weinstein Company, they took with them the distribution rights to 43 films including some Dimensions had already released on laserdisc. This was part of a deal with Fortune Star, the company that held most of the Golden Harvest film library along with a lot of prominent independent Hong Kong action films. Dragon Dynasty's other partner, Genius, had just bought Fox Lorber, who in the mid 90s had released John Woo's The Killer ( 1989 ) and Hard Boiled ( 1992 ) on VHS, and still held the North American distribution rights to both films. Both Genius and The Weinstein Company had plans to release Hong Kong films on DVD, and both held the rights to films each other wanted. Which is why both combined forces.

One of the driving forces behind Dragon Dynasty was director Quentin Tarantino who was a huge fan of Asian action films and advocated for The Weinstein Company to release all the film's they had rights to on DVD. Behind The scenes Tarantino worked as a consultant, advising Dragon Dynasty on which films to release or acquired the rights to. Another consultant was Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan, who ran a blog on the Dragon Dynasty website, and contributed most of the commentary tracks on the DVDs. A resident of Hong Kong for most of the year, Logan knew which new films had the best chance of becoming action classics, and advised the company which ones to acquire the rights to. Tarantino strength was knowing which films from the past were classics. When Dragon Dynasty negotiated with Celestial Films for the rights to 50 Shaw Brothers films, Tarantino advised them on which films to get, and which to release first. He was also instrumental in getting Dragon Dynasty to acquire a film from Thailand, Tom Yum Goong ( 2005 ) starring Tony Jaa, which was retitled Quentin Tarantino presents: The Protector. The beginning of Dragon Dynasty releasing action films made outside of Hong Kong.

Initially Dragon Dynasty put a lot of work into their releases. DVDs came with commentary tracks from experts, as well as bonus interviews with the cast and crew. Often there was enough bonus material for a second disk. However, there was a big shakeup in 2009. Genius was bought out by Vivendi, who in turn shut the company down and acquired all their assets. They would continue as the distributor for Dragon Dynasty. During the reorganizing of Dragon Dynasty, two of it's top executives were forced out. The new management decided to mass release the movies they had in bare bones disc with no bonus material or commentary tracks. And they were no longer acquired the rights to new films.

With the release of Outlaw Brothers, which I previously mentioned is a potboiler of no renown which Dragon Dynasty most likely acquired as part of a package with another film they wanted, releases of new DVDs and Blu-rays was discontinued. The 43 film deal with Fortune Star was allowed to lapse. Only eight of those films saw release, and the ones that had been released went out of print.

Still scheduled for release were a number of Shaw Brothers movies, as well as the A Better Tomorrow trilogy, Bullet in the Head ( 1990 ), The Bride With White Hair ( 1993 ), The Blade ( 1995 ), and Jet Li's first film Shaoiln Temple ( 1982 ). A blogger doing research got government records showing that Dragon Dynasty had filed for copyrights for 35 films they hadn't yet announced, including 20 Shaw Brothers movies,  along with films from other studios including The Mad Monk ( 1993 ), The Victim ( 1980 ), Full Alert ( 1997 ), The Dragon From Russia  ( 1990 ), Skinny Tiger, Fat Dragon ( 1990 ) and Painted Faces ( 1988 ).

While single movie releases were discontinued, the company began releasing combo sets with three or more films in each set but no number on the spine. All of them were previously released films. However, in 2015 they released the Dragon Dynasty Five Movie Collection which contained four unreleased Jet Li films and one Stephen Chow film. There was hope that more collections would be released with the unreleased films Dragon Dynasty held the rights to. But as to date that has never happened. Officially, Dragon Dynasty is still in business. It still represses and sells DVDs of past releases. But makes no effort to renew distribution agreements that expire. Much like the 8 Fortune Star films they can no longer release, some of there other movies are currently OOP most likely due to the rights lapsing. With the recent Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, The Weinstein Company is close to going out of business, and with it Dragon Dynasty. That could mean the company being sold as a whole to another distributor, Vivendi getting full control, or the assets being sold off. The film library could be sold to one of Dragon Dynasty's competitors.

Which now brings us to this week's film which is the last of the Dragon Dynasty DVDs I am every likely to get. I now own every movie that they released. PTU was one of the current films Dragon Dynasty acquired And like most of the others, got a lot of nominations in Asia's version of the Academy Awards including Best Picture. It was directed by Johnnie To, who's credits include The Heroic Trio ( 1993 ), a great superhero film made at a time when Hollywood seemed incapable of making a decent superhero film. PTU was the first in a series of six films, the other five sequels made with a 14 month period between 2008 and 2009.

I don't know if you could call PTU good enough to be nominated for Best Picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It's competition was Infernat Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III. All three lost out to Running On Karma, which was also directed by Johnnie To.  Strangely, while To was nominated as Best Director for both Running on Karma and PTU, he won for directing PTU and not the film that won Best Picture.  The fact that  two films from the same franchise, and the same director for two different films, could all be nominated the same year, shows the state of the Hong Kong film industry post 1997, and why I assumed it was pretty much dead over there. I doubt PTU would have earned a nomination  had it competed a few years earlier.  Simon Yam is the head of a police tactical unit withinn the Hong Kong Police Force. Pretty much all the unit does is walk around the city at night and report any crimes they come across to the other divisions. They get something to do when a police detective ( Lam Suet ) looses his gun after being beaten unconscious by a triad gang. Since he could get in serious trouble for losing his gun, the PTU decides not to report it, but instead spends the night trying to track down the gang suspected of stealing it. This is a film where very little happens, and the only real action happens during a shootout at the very end of the film when the PTU accidentally stumbles onto a group of armed smugglers.  Still, it is a decent film worth watching. But not if you are an action junkie looking for the next high.

With exception to Outlaw Brothers, the rest of the Dragon Dynasty films were worth buying.  Especially City of Violence and Dragon Squad (Dragon Heat ) which have grown on me since watching and I may get around to watching again soon.   





The Toxic Avenger ( 1984 )
Surely the micro budget superhero mockbusters I watched a couple of months ago have to be as bad as superhero films can get. Still, I feared the worst because I still have the superhero movies from Troma to get through before I can complete my live action superhero film collection.

Troma was a production company that deliberately went out of it's way to produce schlock in hopes of turning every one of it's films into a midnight movie cult classic. If it was a bad idea, Troma loved it. The only Troma film I have seen was Surf Nazis Must Die  ( 1987 ) which came off like a lesser Roger Corman production. I don't recall hating it, but I don't recall liking it either. It simply existed as a weird little film where a pissed off African American grandmother hunts down and kills the neo Nazi surfers who killed her grandson. The Toxic Avenger was Troma's first hit, and has since become a cult classic. But the title "cult classic" does not mean much.  Plan 9 From Outer Space is also considered a cult classic. I'd better like this film, because there are three more sequels in the set I bought. And then some time after that another Troma superhero film, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. is on deck.

The verdict. The Toxic Avenger is suppose to be a comedy. But I didn't laugh at anything. I did recognize a lot of gags stolen from much better films, mostly from old Hal Roach films and  the Zucker Abrahams Zucker films. Usually bad comedy is enough for me to hate a film and spend it's running time looking at my watch.  But that didn't really happen here. It has a basic monster movie plot. A nerdy janitor at a health club that everyone bullies ends up landing in a barrel of radioactive toxic waste when a prank the club members pull on him goes wrong. He mutates into a monster and goes on a killing spree. Except that he is inexplicably drawn to killing criminals, usually as they are mugging or robbing someone. He is son dubbed "the monster hero" by the town, and pretty soon has rid the town of crime by ridding it of all it's criminals. Problem is that the mayor is corrupt, and realizes that he could be next on the monster's hit list.  So he makes the monster public enemy #1 and sets the national guard after him.  unfortunately the film ends anticlimatically with the  people of the town  forming a human shield to protect the monster, and the National Guard deciding they don't want to shoot him anyway. Oh, I am sure the budget of this film played into the decision not to have the monster and the National Guard get into an all out battle.

There is not one likable character in this movie.  The pre toxic nerd janitor is so over the top annoying that it is all but impossible to feel sorry for him. Even the leading lady of this film, a blind girl who falls in love with the monster and has sex with him, is annoying enough not to like. The rest of the town seems populated with mostly  repulsive characters.  And it is unreasonably dark. One sub plot has a group of teenagers who's passtime is deliberately running people over with their car. In one scene they run at high speed into a child on a bicycle. When they see he is still alive and crawling out of the street, they turn their car around and run over his head, crushing it.  I think the film makers intended the scene to be funny.  But most of the gore comes from the Toxic Avenger himself, as he comes up with different ways to mutilate and kill his victims.

Basically there was no reason for me to like this film. And yet, it is oddly entertaining. But more in the way an animal attack video is  oddly entertaining. 
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 11:09:31 PM by stethacantus »


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18061 on: May 20, 2018, 11:11:37 PM »
When first we see Jen, the heroine of Coralie Fargeat's blood-soaked rape/revenge fantasy, Revenge (2017), she's the very picture of a sex kitten, done up like Sue Lyon in Lolita and sucking provocatively on a lollipop. Just a few minutes later comes a scene in which she goes down on Richard, her rich, married boyfriend. And then further scenes of her playing the tease to Richard's hunting buddies, who have shown up a day earlier than expected. Jen is high femme, dressed in crop tops and sexy underwear and a dress that is cut down to her belly button and gaudy star-shaped earrings. She is an avatar of the kind of girl/woman our culture expects to be raped. Our culture despises what she is: a construction of girly femininity that's designed to titillate the male gaze. If the rape in this movie had played out as it might in real life, the defense attorneys for her rapists might have asked, as a legal defense, if she was asking for it and a jury might have decided that, yes, she was. Women like Jen aren't allowed to say no.

The plot of Revenge plays like a conflation of I Spit on Your Grave and The Most Dangerous Game. Richard and Jen arrive at his house in the desert for a couple of days together before his friends arrive for a hunting trip. Unfortunately, his hunting buddies, Stan and Dimitri, arrive a day early. Richard had planned for Jen to be long gone before they arrived, and their presence makes things awkward. They make the best of a bad situation and drink around the pool. Jen dances provocatively to the music, and everyone seems to be having a good time. The next morning, Richard leaves to get the hunting permits. Dimitri decides that Jen's performance around the pool the night before is an invitation and he comes on to her. When she refuses him, he rapes her. Stan walks in on them. Jen pleads with him with her eyes, but he turns away and closes the door. When Richard returns, he tries to buy her off with a cash settlement and a trip to Canada, in spite of Jen's desire to travel to LA to pursue her career. When she refuses Richard he hits her, and she flees the house into the desert. Richard, and then Dimitri and Stan, give chase. When they corner her at the edge of a cliff, Richard pushes her off. She lands on a dead tree, impaled on one of its branches. The men return to the house and gather their hunting equipment intent on taking care of Jen on the way out. Jen, for her part, survives her fall and even her impalement and is able to grab her lighter and set the tree on fire, weakening it enough for her to escape. When the men return for her, she's nowhere in sight. The hunt, then, is on, and slowly, the hunters become the hunted.

Revenge is an exploitation movie that is uncommonly well-timed in its political moment. Although the rape/revenge subgenre has often been disreputable and tarnished by gross misogyny, many such films are avatars of feminist rage (Ms. 45 and the Female Prisoner Scorpion films are good examples). This one frames its bloodrage in cultural touchstones that are unmistakable. You can see in Jen's rapists echoes of the power dynamics between men and women in business, Hollywood and in politics. As I was watching Richard try to buy Jen's silence, I couldn't help but think of the current inhabitant of the American presidency and his fixers. Dimitri, in his creepy proposition to Jen before he rapes her, is the very avatar of the "nice guy," who thinks (hot) women somehow owe him sex. When he asks, "Why don't you like me?" he would be pathetic if he wasn't so menacing, which is what makes him dangerous. Stan is the system itself, gazing at her when she's done up for it and playing by its rules, looking the other way when the system decides to exact its price. And Richard? His betrayal is the worst. Neither Dimitri nor Stan is murderous, but Richard is. He doesn't think of Jen as a human being at all. He can dispose of her at his pleasure, confident that no one will miss her. He has a "respectable" wife and family at home. That Jen might hold a lethal grudge should come as no surprise. Jen's ordeal impaled on the tree has deep mythological resonance, recalling Odin on the World Tree, Christ on the cross, and Conan on The Tree of Woe. When she rises from the dead, like a phoenix, she's an avatar of the rage of women everywhere.

But it's more than that. It's also a confrontation with the internalized misogyny sometimes present in feminism itself, a misogyny that considers elements of femininity to be frivolous and constructed for the male gaze. This film stabs the male gaze in the eye and defiantly resists this culture's femmephobia. It's pointed in its choice of symbols. The film expresses this with objects. It would be easy to assume that Jen's initial gender presentation is constructed for men. Certainly, she uses it as a hook for Richard's attention, and she's not shy about teasing other men as a means of teasing Richard. But there's a subtle counter-narrative to this: the pink crop top she wears emblazoned with I (heart) LA, with the heart in red glitter, is linked to her own inner life. She expresses her aspirations to travel to LA, so that top isn't there for men, even if it's pink and feminine and sexy. It's for her. When Richard burns her things, it's this top that's on top of the heap. Watching this garment burn represents Richard destroying who she is and destroying overtly girly things both at once. Many of this film's symbols carry multiple meanings. It is significant that Jen still clings to some level of a femme identity even after the movie reincarnates her as an avenging angel. She's stripped to minimally feminine garments, sure, but she's not given the androgynous Sarah Connor wife-beater to wear. More, she wears the pink star earrings until the end. Another film might have discarded them. Jen only loses one when it's shot off with the rest of her ear. The other she wears as a talisman even until the very last shot of the film. She's still defiantly femme until the last moment of the film and beyond.

I mentioned that this film stabs the male gaze in the eye, but I should make clear that this is literal as well as figurative. Stan is the first of the men to die, stabbed in both eyes with his own knife. This calls back both to his voyeurism earlier in the film, and to his willful blindness. This is a film that enacts much of its narrative on the bodies of its characters. Dimitri falls victim to one of the film's many penetration images when he steps barefooted onto the glass shards Jen has laid in his path. When the camera looks at the wound, it's pointedly vaginal in appearance, violated both by the glass and the fingers he inserts into the wound to dig it out. In the final duel with Richard, he is naked, with only his gun and his dick hanging out. This is a startling depiction of naked masculinity as undefended and fragile (and in need of a gun to protect it). When Jen blows a hole in his side, it provides a crack in that masculinity when they eventually grapple hand to hand, and she counters his size and strength by sticking her hand into the wound. This is a thematic rhyme with Jen's own injuries. Certainly Jen's impalement is loaded with meaning.

Jen's own body is where the film's politics is writ large. But after she pulls the branch from her side, and after she cauterizes the wound with a beer can heated in a fire, the film presents the audience with a monumental shot traveling up her body that catalogues her injuries while presenting all those sexual attributes that were there at the beginning of the film, now hideously scarred by her ordeal. This is the same flesh. Is this not now an object of desire? Why not? The flesh is the same, though maybe the woman isn't the same. The bird branded onto her flesh announces that she's risen from the ashes (as an aside, this is one of the film's few goofs, given that the text of the beer can would be reversed). Moreover, there's a lot of blood in this film. Maybe more blood that can reasonably fit inside four people. You can probably read whatever you like into that.

All of this is laced into a narrative that is constructed like a swiss watch, each component finely machined and seeded into the film almost casually. For all its symbols and themes, this is a single-minded film that moves from start to finish with economy and an insistent forward motion. It is not a film that wastes time on exposition or political digressions or grand statements. More is conveyed by Matilda Lutz's body language and stare than in any of her dialogue. Like many of the great action heroes before her, Jen barely has any dialogue at all. Mad Max might have had more to say in The Road Warrior than Jen says in this film. Like many a Hitchcock film, this is arranged around objects: an apple, a locket, a pair of headphones, the star earrings, a beer can, even the pool cleaner, each acting as a signpost along the way. No shot is wasted. For all that, Coralie Fargeat is adept at letting her images converse and rhyme with each other. The ants that crawl over the apple left on the table in Richard's house find a counterpart in the ants that crawl around Jen's wounds on the tree. The sunglasses Richard wears in the second shot of the movie find a parallel in the tinted glass between Jen and him when she arrives back at the house. Most of the film's best effects come from purely cinematic elements. The scene where Jen drags herself under cover at the bottom of the cliff before the men can spot her is classic crosscutting. The duel between Jen and Richard at the end of the film is a cat and mouse game where the gore turns out to be another chess piece. The duel between Jen and Dimitri hinges on Jen having the wit to smash a flashlight. This is a brute force movie that knows the value of scalpels.

But it knows the value of brute force, too.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18062 on: May 21, 2018, 07:57:46 AM »

The Toxic Avenger ( 1984 )

I'm with you on Toxic Avenger. I admire Troma's business model of being stridently independent and making their films their way, and taking joy in being so outlandish. But I don't actually like their films. They're just not for me.



Offline The Lurker

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18063 on: May 21, 2018, 08:01:43 AM »
The only thing I've actually liked that they've put out was Cannibal: The Musical.


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18064 on: May 21, 2018, 08:03:20 AM »
You know, the shouldn't-have-ever-been-allowed-to-exist cartoon spinoff, Toxic Crusaders, was actually pretty good and ahead of its time in the meta-superhero-humor department.


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18065 on: May 21, 2018, 08:21:46 AM »
Year of the Dragon
Watched Michael Cimino's attempt to get out of director jail.  Didn't quite work for him.  I watched it and... I have mixed feelings on it.  The aspects I think the movie does well is the story of a racist lead character who is throwing Chinatown into chaos in the name of justice but essentially keeps getting the people around him killed.  Despite his less than savory characteristics, his cause of shutting down the Triads in Chinatown is admirable, but he seems to refuse all the shit he brings on around people around him slow him down from continuing.  It's interesting, but it's also not subtle (probably in part because the story was co-penned by Oliver Stone) and people just come out and say these things (it's almost funny how often the main character's direct superior says "You're a smart cop but..."  Unfortunately, potentially interesting character, a reporter and the main character's mistress, is brought down by wooden acting and very on the nose dialogue.  John Lone's character's rise and fall is also a part that is mostly good, but I feel sometimes his arc is well-done and some of it is just a bit dull to me.

It's a movie I don't know exactly how I feel about.  The ending is a little weird for me, as it feels like they tried to make it a little more upbeat than I feel the film was heading.  I don't know if I'll watch it again, but it did give me some stuff to think about, at any rate.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/HRGBV5eSbyQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/HRGBV5eSbyQ</a>


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18066 on: May 21, 2018, 12:05:16 PM »
The only thing I've actually liked that they've put out was Cannibal: The Musical.
I liked that one too. But I don't think it was made by Troma themselves, just distributed by them after Matt Stone and Trey Parker made it. I might be wrong about that, but it definitely feels more like Matt and Trey than typical Troma.



Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18067 on: May 21, 2018, 07:04:45 PM »
There was a certain amount of deja vu involved in watching Lady in a Cage (1964, directed by Walter Grauman) this week. On the surface, this seems like yet another rip-off of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, in which an aging actress from Hollywood's golden age is put into an exploitation story - in this case, Olivia De Havilland. But there, the similarity ends. The Baby Janes, for all their grand guignol gestures, are essentially old-style gothics. Lady in a Cage is something else. It is a fore-runner of the exploitation films of the 1970s, in which the sixties youth revolution collides with the middle class. It's remarkably prescient. Consider the opening credits: We see a city in a heatwave. On the soundtrack, we hear the intimations of a world spinning well and truly into chaos. The arresting freeze-frame shots of the world at large recall the end of Night of the Living Dead, but the last image we see as these shots progress to the house of our heroine is the flyblown carcass of a dead dog in the street. Even before the story itself has begun, the movie has laid before the audience the technique used a decade later by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre AND anticipated one of its first images (Tobe Hooper's film was originally to open on a shot of a dead dog by the side of the road - which can be seen in the extras of some editions of the film - but opted instead for a dead armadillo instead).

The story itself, in which the crippled upper class woman played by Miss De Havilland is trapped in an elevator by a power-outage, recalls Wes Craven's early films, in which the bourgeoisie are stripped of their privilege and must compete with the savages for survival. James Caan plays the film's version of Krug, the David Hess character from Last House on the Left. But this film goes Craven one better. Craven suggests that even mild-mannered "civilized" people become monsters to fight monsters. This film suggests that those "civilized" people may already have been monsters to start with (Our heroine even articulates this thought at key points of the film's running time: once near the beginning when she speculates that it might be a good time to invest in armament stocks, then later when she specifically calls herself a monster. This film is surprising for a film made in 1964 for making the class warfare between the haves and the have-nots explicit. Even more surprising is the depiction of affluence as a suffocating burden on the young.

This is all so interesting that one can't help but be disappointed that the film isn't better than it is. Apart from the opening credit sequence (perhaps the best rip-off of Saul Bass that I've ever seen), the film is largely anonymous (as one could expect from a director who is a veteran of television), a fact that argues that the dominant creative hand behind the film is screenwriter Luther Davis, who later wrote Across 110th Street, one of the bleakest of the blaxploitation films of the 1970s. More than that, the villains of the piece seem unconvincing, whether because they are poorly conceived (likely) or poorly acted (also likely). In any event, what the film lacks in style, it more than makes up for in brutality and sheer nihilism, which is a recommendation of sorts, I guess.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18068 on: May 21, 2018, 07:13:04 PM »
So I boogied on down to the local movie theater and... hah hah, I just couldn't help myself, I HAD to see Infinity War again. I just love that movie SO goddamn much. I didn't get up once and I was totally mesmerized the whole time. Damn that's a great flick. BTW That makes this... time number four that I'm seeing it. That is a very rare club of movies that I've seen more than three times in the theater. I can only think of one other movie I've seen in the theaters four times... The Force Awakens.


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18069 on: May 26, 2018, 04:35:34 PM »
Solo (2018) - I thought it was pretty 'meh'. By the end of the movie I just didn't care about anything that was going on. Characters would double cross each other, then double double cross them, or maybe they're not really, who gives a shit it doesn't really matter. It reminded me of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie in that regard. The only thing I was a little surprised by was that
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Lando was by far the best part of this movie, and I wish it had been movie of a buddy adventure movie with the two of them.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18070 on: May 28, 2018, 12:41:28 AM »
Dragon ( 2011 )
Back to the Donnie Yen films. This movie comes with a world record for largest billboard. A record previously held by Michael Jackson. It was planned as a remake of the wuxia  classic The One Armed Swordsman ( 1967 ), but soon evolved into a completely different movie with different characters and a different plot .

The original One Armed Swordsman was Shaw Brothers answer to the Japanese Zatoichi film franchise. That series had an unbeatable blind swordsman. Shaw Brothers series would have their own crippled swordsman, only missing an arm instead of being blind. The first film broke Hong Kong box office records, and it's sequel soon followed. It made a superstar out of actor Jimmy Wang Yu, who then demanded to direct his next film. That film was The Chinese Boxer ( 1970 ), which was almost as successful as the one armed films. During the Japanese invasion of China,  evil Japanese martial arts experts wipe out a Kung Fu school. Wang Yu is the sole survivor, and to take revenge, finds a master who can teach him the unbelievable Iron Palm technique. The Chinese Boxer did so well that both Wang Yu and Shaw Brothers planned to turn it into a franchise as well.

Toho studios wanted to make a movie where Zatoichi Meets and eventually fights the One Armed Swordsman, and got permission from Shaw Brothers to use both the character and actor Wang Yu. Zatoichi Meets His Equal ( 1971 ) was a huge success. But allowing Toho to use Wang Yu was a huge mistake for Shaw Brothers. After seeing how well Toho treated their actors, and how much they were paid, he decided to quit Shaw Brothers. But he was only midway through a multi year contract with the studio. So they sued him and won. The judgment was that Want Yu could not work for any Hong Kong studio other than Shaw Brothers. Of course there was a loophole.

The Shaw Brothers contract only prevented Wang Yu from working in China. So he moved to Taiwan and began shooting films there. Being China's biggest movie star, he could easily get independent studios to send cameras to Taiwan. Newly established rival studio Golden Harvest produced several of Wang Yu's films, most notably his masterpiece Beach of the War Gods ( 1973 ). But his stardom quickly faded with the arrival of Bruce Lee. Wang Yu had never studied the martial arts. He could easily fake it with camera tricks and stunt doubles, combined with closeups of him doing basic moves. But Bruce Lee had raised the bar so high that the entire industry shifted to actors with an actual martial arts background.

Shaw Brothers quickly replaced Wang Yu with David Chaing in the third instalment of the One Armed Swordsman series. Chaing played an all new character that just like Wang Yu, was a swordsman who had an arm cut off. The New One Armed Swordsman, a.k.a.
Triple Irons ( 1971 ) was to be followed by other films following Chiang's character. Not taking the idea of being replaced lightly, Wang Yu made The One Armed Boxer ( 1971 ), which was to be the first in his own franchise. It basically followed the same plot of The Chinese Boxer, only with Wang Yu losing an arm and needing to perfect the Iron Palm on the surviving arm. In the years that followed Wang Yu would start in several movies where he played a one armed character, each with a different name as to avoid copyright infringements. Shaw Brothers ended up not making any more One Armed Swordsman films. However, when Chaing's contract with Shaw Brothers expired, he and Wang Yu both teamed up as two one armed swordsmen in The One Armed Swordsmen ( 1976 ). That same year Wang Yu made the only sequel to The One Armed Boxer called Master of the Flying Guillotine ( 1976 ). Inexplicably it takes place 100 years before the first film, but with the same characters.

By the 80s Chinese movie audiences had lost all interest in movies in one armed heroes. Wang Yu's career continued to slide downhill until he eventually retired in the early 90s.  Perhaps because Dragon originally began as an attempt to reboot the original One Armed Swordsman that the director  came up with the idea of casting Jimmy Wang Yu as the film's villain,  and coaxed him out of retirement. The result was Wang Yu earning a nomination at the Hong Kong film awards for best supporting actor, and offered the lead in another movie Soul for which he earned a leading actor nomination.
The first half of Dragon is a detective film. In 1917, two bandits attempt to rob a merchant in a small Chinese village.   A villager named Liu Jinxi ( Donnie Yen ) attempts to protect the owner of the store by grabbing on to one of the bandits. This ends up in a fight where the bandits appear to clumsily punch and cut each other with their weapons  while trying to kill Liu. One bandit appears to have accidentally killed himself by leaping into a low hanging beam, and the other appears to have dropped dead of a heart attack while attempting to drown Liu in a river. During the official police investigation, lead detective Xu Baijiu ( Takeshi Kaneshiro ) discovers that one of the bandits is a notorious wanted killer, and decides there is no way a simple villager could have defeated him by accident.  Being a martial arts expert himself, he is able to find evidence on the bodies and in the store that Liu secretly used martial arts to defeat both bandits, and suspects Liu of being a wanted criminal himself.

Of course  a martial arts expert would not be hiding in a village unless he was on the run from something, and in the case of Liu, it is a ruthless clan he once belonged to and defected from.  Xu's investigation into Liu, and his eventual attempt to obtain an arrest warrent once he discovers his real identity, tips off the clan of his location.  The leader of that clan is played by Jimmy Wang Yu, and he is determined to get Liu back at whatever cost. Which in turn puts the village under siege by the clan with only Liu and Xu to defend them. The only thing left from the original planned One Armed Swordsman reboot script is that later in the film Liu severs his own arm as penance for his past crimes, and ends up battling Wang Yu with one arm during the climax.

Although there is some excellent fight choreography in this film, it is limited. Dragon more of a drama than an action film. Fortunately as a drama it works very well. The only real flaw I can find with this film is how Wang Yu is eventually defeated, which has to be a first when it comes to dispatching a villain in a martial arts film.  This has to be the best screen fighting I have ever seen from that actor. At age 69 he was doing what he should have done back in the 70s. Practiced actual martial arts enough to make a screen fight look convincing. 




The Toxic Avenger Part II ( 1989 )
So what am I in for this week? This is one of the few films to earn a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yay!

The Toxic Avenger Part II earns it's 0% rating. What made the first film passably entertaining was that it was more of a  splatter  movie.  The sequel goes more for humor and not as much for gore.  Amazingly, a few years ago the only version available in the United States had what little violence the film had removed. The original release was much shorter and had most of the violence and nudity removed to avoid an NC-17 rating. This was because Lorimar agreed to co-produce the sequel, based on the success of the original. The extra $2 million that Lorimar contributed allowed Troma to film half of the movie in Japan.  For some reason Troma has in the past labled the edited version the "Directors Cut", infuriating those who assumed a directors cut meant the longer version.  So basically there is an even worse version of this movie out there, but is about 25 minutes shorter.

Going heavy on the comedy sinks this film. It probably wouldn't had the comedy actually been funny.  But I only laughed at one gag in the entire film.  And that was more to do with it's abrupt, out of continuity editing than the gag itself. A bad guy The Toxic Avenger is fighting in Japan is tossed into  a table at a  fish market where a butcher who is distracted by a nude girl begins chopping him to bits with a cleaver. The butcher finally looks down to see what meat he has been chopping and screams. Cut immediately to the head of the bad guy in a display case with a lot of other fish meat, and with a price on it. Like I said, abrupt bad continuity somehow made this predictable gag funny. But as for the rest of the film? In some scenes there are gags every second, one after another. And not one of hem is funny. Of course, maybe some of the Japanese gags are funny. I can't tell. Because whenever someone talks in Japanese it isn't subtitled.  For all I know what they are saying could be hilarious jokes.

The film opens back in the same town that the original took place in.  Since The Toxic Avenger has killed off every criminal, everyone is happy. With nothing else to do he decided to retire with his girlfriend Clair who teaches at a school for the blind.  Wait a second... Claire? In the first movie the character was named Sara and was played by actress Andree Maranda. In the sequel she is now called   Claire and is played by more annoying actress Phoebe Legere. Well, I assume they  are both the same character as both are blind.  Meanwhile an evil criminal organization that somehow makes money out of dumping toxic waste on towns across the country has decided to take over The Toxic Avenger's town. And to do so attempt to kill him. Blowing the blind school up with him in it doesn't work. Nor does sending wave after wave of thugs to beat him up.  Back at their headquarters in New York City they find out that a specific chemicalwhich can only be found in Japan will destroy The Toxic Avenger. So they bribe the Toxic Avenger's therapist to tell him to travel to Japan to find his long lost father. And of course, the second he leaves, thebad guys take over his town.

I wish I could say the movie gets better once the location moves to Japan. But it doesn't.  The only slightly good part takes place when The Toxic Avenger finally returns to the United States and drives the bad guys out of his town.  The  bad guys hire someone on a motorcycle called The Black Rider to strap nitroglycerin to himself and drive into the town's city hall, effectively blowing up the town. ( Why bother being aid if you are not even going to live to spend it? ) So The Toxic Avenger hails a cab and chases after him. The chase, which takes place on the very hilly streets of Staten Island, has a lot of niftycar wrecks and explosions. I mean, I have seen a lot better in hundreds of other action films. But at leas there was something slightly entertaining while I was waiting for this film to  finally end.


A Night in Casablanca ( 1946 )
I had always intended to add the film's of the Marx Brothers into my comedy collection alongside Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Jaques Tati, Our Gang, WC Fields, The Three Stooges and all the rest I have collected so far. Maybe in a year or two from now I thought. But then I found out the collectors set of the Marx Brothers  films released by Warner Bros had gone out of print, and what was left was selling out on Amazon.  So I am going to get to them sooner than later. And here I was planning to complete my WC Fields collection first.

A Night in Casablanca was originally going to be a parody of  Casablanca ( 1941 ).  Supposedly Warner Bros threatened to sue United Artists for infringing on their copyright on the film title "Casablanca". Groucho responded by sending Warner Bros and open letter threatening to countersue over their use of the word "brothers" which Groucho said his act had been using long before Warner Bros was founded. No lawsuit ever took place, an United Artists eventually had their film rewritten from a direct parody to a general parody of the genre Casablanca belonged to.

A Night in Casablanca should have never existed in the first place. Five years earlier the Marx Brothers had announced they were no longer going to make movies as a team. The Big Store ( 1941 ) was their farewell film. The only reason for their reteaming was that Chico ended up owing thousands in gambling debts. So the brothers reunited to pay off the debts in the only way they knew they could earn that much money in such a short period of time. It wouldn't be the last time. In 1949 Chico once again had huge gambling debts, and what should have been Harpo's first solo film ended up being another Marx Brothers film.

A Night in Casablanca may have been tossed together to raise money for Chico, but even the Marx Brothers in a mediocre film are funnier than most films from the same decade. Each individual brother was talented enough to carry an entire film by hemselves. Each had their own distinct screen character which simultaneously clash with and compliment each other's characters. There is plenty of great stick from Harpo and Chico as well as some great one liners from Groucho.  Maybe not as much as was in their classic films, but enough to make this effort enjoyable.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 08:05:09 AM by stethacantus »


Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18071 on: May 28, 2018, 10:05:35 AM »
I Am Sam

This is every bit as bad as it's reputation maintains.  A film focusing on the difficulty of a man with an intellectual disability could be great... if handled properly.  This was not.  It's extremely broad and sappy and dumb.  It feels like a self-parody and it doesn't help that it has a combination wherein we are laughing at the film.  There's a scene where Sam's daughter tells Sam twice about him having a disability, both times with Sam responding with the same what.  It was just one more what from completing the comedy rule of threes.  It's a pretty tragic example of good intentions and not having the skills to present it in the right way.  I feel like directors and writers with more subtlety would deliver a more sensitive film but this is a film that strives for Oscar only to have almost every scene by an eye roll or an unintentional laugh.  The biggest crime might be the fact that the film is about a Beatles fan and you hear a lot of Beatles songs, except they are mostly bland, tepid covers of great songs.  It's very much representative of how wrongheaded the production was.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18072 on: June 03, 2018, 10:49:18 PM »
Special ID ( 2013 )
As with Donnie Yen's other films, Special ID earned a nomination for best action choreography. Another thing it has going for it is that it is directed by Clarence Fok ( a.k.a. Clarence Ford ), the director of the cult classic The Naked Killer ( 1992 ), and one of my favorite HK action films, Iceman Cometh ( 1989 ).
This was by no means a great movie. It had a pretty standard formula plot with Donnie Yen as an undercover cop in a criminal gang. The "Special ID" refers to the fact that Donnie, who is working for the Hong Kong Police Force, is asked to go into mainland China to meet with another gang member, thus requiring that he have an ID with the mainland police to let them know he is a cop. While there a female mainland detective ( Jing Tien ) is basically asked to babysit him while he is in their territory. Of course, he is a maverick cop while she is a by the books cop.  And there is also that hint of a developing romance thing.  While the film is predictable, it does have a spectacular action sequence to end it, which involves a car chase with Jing leaping off of an overpass onto a moving buss below, and then off of the buss roof onto the fleeing bad guys car, climbing in a window and having  a fight in the car while Donnie chases in his own car. This inevitably leads to a spectacular wreck and the survivors ending up in another martial arts fight.  So at the least, the film delivers on the action.  ( There are also a few good action scenes throughout the film, but the best is saved for the end. )

The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie ( 1989 )
Well, at least this one didn't get a zero at Rotten Tomatoes. Not that 27% was much of an improvement. Rise of the Black Bat earned a 27% rating. The story behind the third movie was that Troma realized they shot more footage than they needed for the sequel, so decided to split it into two films.  Once again, another bad Troma comedy. But this time slightly better than the previous film as The Toxic Avenger ends up fighting The Devil himself.

Troma has been criticized for releasing censored versions of the Toxic Avengers series on home video.  A few years ago the Toxic  Box release on DVD  had for the first time the uncut version of the first film,  but contained a censored version of Toxic Avenger II even though it was labled as the director's cut. This time around the Blu-ray release of the movies has a censored version of the third film. I have seen this happen before withreleases from major studios.  I recently started a thread on how Warner Bros. accidentally used some of the edited Batman episodes as masters for their DVD and Blu-ray release of the 1966 Batman series even though they had spent millions restoring the series with uncut masters. Another example was  Disney accidentally using edited VHS masters on their Donald Duck Disney Treasures release instead of the restored prints.  This is usually due to a f#@k up with the people hired to transfer the films onto DVD or Blu-ray and the employees in charge of the studio archive who pull the wrong  masters as source material.  I am still amazed at how this still goes on. A  production company spends millions restoring a print of a film, and some employee uses a different master, and no one catches the mistake until after it is released.  You would thing with Troma accidentally using a censored master of the first movie for their VHS release, and a censored master of the second movie for the DVD release, that they would have someone making sure the mistake was not made for a third time. But no.  The version I saw was mastered from the UK print where all of the gore, along with a few scenes, were removed.  I was told the mistake was made when the UK print was used to retrieve a scene long ago cut from the US print , and after a missunderstanding, the entire print was used. The end result is obvious cuts  as the soundtrack jumps.  I doubt the film would be any better without the cuts, but as the only entertaining thing about these films was it's use of gore, what little entertainment value the film had was diminished.

A Night at the Opera ( 1935 )
The Marx Brothers first film for MGM is considered their best. This due to what has become the most iconic comedy scene in film history.  Groucho is on a cruise ship to America, but has been assigned a very small room.   To make matters worse he has an enormous sized trunk he has brought with him, and even worse, he finds stowaways Harpo, Chico and Allan Jones hiding in the trunk.   Soon after others begin arriving in the room, including the maids to put new sheets on the bed, the ship's engineer and his assistant wanting access to a steam pipe that runs through Groucho's room, a maid sent to clean the floor, a manicurist who went to Groucho's room by mistake, another woman looking for her aunt's room, and several waiters bringing food that Groucho had ordered for his guests. And finally Margaret Dumont shows up. I won't say what happens when she attempts to enter the room as it will be a spoiler for the very few of you who never seen a clip of this scene shown in any documentary or the movie in full. ( Or the Cyndi Lauper music video that rips this scene off ). But the concluding gag is one of the funniest ever filmed.

In common with the Toxic avenger film I had just seen an hour earlier,  the print used here has been censored. The difference is that no know uncensored print exists. Usually when you see an edited film from the 1930s, it was due to it being released pre-code ( the years prior to Hollywood Studios agreeing to enforce the Hayes Code, a list of rules preventing certain content in films considered offensive  and had been around for nearly a decade, but the studios didn't take seriously until Congress threatened to shut down any studio or distributor that didn't obey the code. )  Pre-code films re-released in later years had edits, which was usually obvious from jumps in the soundtrack.

However, in  this case A Night at the Opera was filmed in the post-code era and  did not violate the Hayes Code. What happened here was World War II. The army selected A Night at the Opera as one of the films that would be show to the troops, and decided to edit out all references to Italy, the country most of those troops would be fighting. So the army had the master print cut.  What is amazing about this is that the film centers around an Italian opera,  with most of the characters being either Italian or German. Even Chico's character was  a mock Italian. If the army didn't want the Italians humanized by this film, they should have chosen something else. To date no known uncensored print exists, other than rumors a longer print was discovered in the Hungarian National Film Archive.

This was the first Marx Brothers film not to have Zeppo, and there wasn't much in complaints fro Marx Brothers fans. Zeppo  had always been the odd man out when it came to The Marx Brothers as he only played a straight character.  You could almost say the loss of Zeppo made the films better ( Groucho said as much when he said "The Marx Brothers are twice as funny without Zeppo." ), but their films continued to have a male lead in a role that would have gone to Zeppo had he not given up acting.  In the case of this film, the Zeppo role of B plot love interest went to Allen Jones. These are the only scenes when the film gets boring. Fortunately  there are very few B plot scenes.

I can't see why this is considered the Marx Brothers best. I didn't think it was any funnier than A Night in Casablanca which was suppose to be one of their weaker films. For a while there I was worried that I would need to redact the LoC Comedy  list I had sent in.  Still, while not being the laugh riot it's reputation makes it out to be, the Marx Brothers had enough funny gags and one liners to  earn this film's right to be considered a classic.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18073 on: June 05, 2018, 01:39:47 PM »
Since I haven't watched it in... God, maybe 4 or 5 years, I slapped in "The World's end", and no, I'm not talking about that third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I'm talking about the one with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike.

Anyways, I enjoyed myself... not nearly as much as "Hot Fuzz", but I did have fun because Simon Pegg is almost always a joy to watch. I'll admit that's very ironic given I didn't like him in that first series of new Doctor Who episodes. Anyways, Simon Pegg plays Gary king, a guy who's on a mission to get the guys back together and go on a bender, going from Pub to Pub, having beers at all of them. Since 20+ years have passed since their last bender... Gary's friends aren't exactly thrilled to be doing another pub crawl again after this many years. Now, even though Gary King is portrayed as a jerk he's still a very likeable character. Yes, he lies, he cheats, and he gets out of getting a traffic ticket by providing false information to a cop who stopped them on their way back to their destination.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I really love the ending because it's so damn cool. I'd rather not divulge too many other details but I'll say that this was a great way to wrap up the trilogy of Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/The World's End. It's most definitely mandatory viewing for those who love Simon Pegg and don't have any children in the house because there's plenty of bad language in the movie.


Offline wihogfan

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #18074 on: June 05, 2018, 01:46:02 PM »
Deadpool 2
Ehhh...It was OK, but no Deadpool 1. Thought the plot was too current standard generic Marvel super hero-ish and about 75% of the jokes were miss. Didn't hate it, just thought it was OK.