Thursday, October 12, 2006

Movie Reviews: Fearless & The Protector

I saw both of these in recent weeks, so I figured it's about time I get around to talking about how MUFUGGING AMAZING THEY W.... I mean, read on!

Movie Review: The Protector

For people who read this blog (yes, both of you), you have probably read my review for Ong-Bak. This movie is by nearly all of the same people.... Tony Jaa and Petchtai Wongkamlao, and their director buddy, Prachya Pinkaew. It's also in the same vein... Tony Jaa uses mad fucked-up anti-gravity superhuman skillz of awesome to defeat a buttload of criminals who stole stuff from him and his people. However, you are NOT going to a Tony Jaa flick for the plot. You are going for the awesomeness of his performance, and the righteous fury of vengeance.

And neither disappoints here. With ten times as much money to play around with, and the entire Australian action film industry to draw upon, there is no shortage of car chases and bad-ass fights. In spite of all the INCREDIBLY memorable action sequences (the burning church, the throne room, the flying party crasher) there is one that sticks out even among all this: a six minute SINGLE TAKE sequence of Jaa walking from the street, through a restaraunt, into a hotel, up ten flights of ramping stairs and wide open terrace, into another restaraunt, all while dispatching of somewhere around forty people in quick fights. Let me repeat... this was ONE TAKE! The camera guy was chasing Jaa the whole time, and it never cut away. It was choreography ART!

There are also a whole lot more side characters this time around, both good guys and bad. Sullen criminal underbosses, angered policemen and their partners, sick animal dealers, power-mad politicians... it's a smorgasborg of stereotypes, but DAMMIT, it's done so well you scarcely even notice. Also, unlike in Ong-Bak, here Jaa gets his ass handed to him a few times. Those fights he wins, he WORKS for it, and he works it for the camera to godly levels.

Real Movie Rating: 3 out of 10.
Action Movie Rating: 10 out of 10. If it gets any better than this, it hasn't been done yet.

Movie Review: Jet Li's Fearless

Jet Li's final movie.

It's a travesty, it's horribly unfair... but it's true. Mr Li is retiring from the big screen, and unlike most people who quit 'the biz', I have to respect his reason. To him, martial arts movies have abandoned the principles of wushu... they've all become revenge movies. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in spite of it's grandeur and epicosity, was a revenge flick. Unleashed (Danny the Dog elsewhere) was a revenge flick. Hell, Lethal Weapon 4 (the one he was in) was a revenge flick, in it's own way. Wushu is not about revenge...

... and for a while, watching this movie, I called bullshit on him. It was all about revenge! Revenge, savage beatdowns, killings... for revenge. As the movie passed the mid-point, and the plot fully unfurled itself, I saw that it was exactly how Jet Li had meant to go out. No longer about revenge, but about honesty and inspiration and respect, Fearless transcends the normal martial arts movie mold, and becomes truly great.

Jet Li may be looking his age, but he was playing a middle-aged father and husband, so it worked for him. This movie was also based on a real-life man in China at the turn of the century, so it also works for him that he looks like a real-life man. His skills are still pure beauty to watch, like a waterfall or a rainbow, and I wish him the best in his future life kicking around his mansion and reading poetry.

Real Movie Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Action Movie Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Monday, October 02, 2006

Television Review: The New Shows

Now, I should say straight up that I haven't watched ALL the new shows... let's face it, if I did that, I'd need three TiVo's, a personal assistant, and a mufuggin LOBOTOMY. However, there are a few that, for better or worse, I have watched, and I'd like to complain about them now.

First off, my pick of the bunch:


When I saw the very first ads for this, I thought "Hey, cool, James Woods is back on television. This might be good. Hmmmm, legal drama, and it looks like he has a cadre of hip young attractive lawyers... ok, now it sounds dumb." Then I saw the ads right before it aired, and I thought "Ok, he's ranting, being a jerk, and drawing on a clear board while everyone stares at him. So it's basically House, only with legal problems. Uhm, ok... hooray, plagiarism! This will probably suck." Then I watched it, and I finally thought "Wow, that was pretty good. The characters are two and a half dimensional, James Woods is awesome as always, and Seven of Nine is not a showpiece." Yeah, by the way, Jeri Ryan is on the show.

So far, I like it. I've seen two episodes, and it hasn't gotten stale, and only one scene has made me groan, but all in all, I like it. Stark, the main character, was a high priced defense attourney for 20 years, one of the best in America. When he arrives at a clients house to see a girl slashed and murdered, his client soaked in blood, and said client saying "Well, mny lawyer's here. You should just let me go right now," he has a nervous breakdown, and gets forced by the Mayor himself to become a district prosecutor on the toughest cases. Stark likes this, after finding out what a bunch of sick fucks he's been defending, but he is still manic-compulsively obsessed with winning over the truth (but, like House, I am now willing to give this show a whole season to develop it's characters).

Rating: 8.75 out of 10


When I saw the first ads for this, my thoughts were "WOOO!! YEAHHH!!Gabbagabbasquee Adrian Pasdar is back on TV, and he's, like super-powered, and it's all about real-world abilities, and YEAHH!! WOOO!!! PURPLE!!! AWESOME!!!"

Then I saw the show.

I am so disillusioned with how television producers view comic books, if they seriously think that THAT is the pinnacle of the comic-to-television migration. The characters are LESS than one-dimensional, and with the exception of Hiro and SuperCheerleader, I actually sort of hope they all die in horrible, horrible ways. Hopefully soon. The dialogue is among the worst I have ever had the displeasure to listen to. True, the visuals and cinematography are really quite good (except for the wierd flying scene at the end, which should have had big glowing words flashing "LOOK! WIRES! Big wires! We're not even trying!") and the IDEAS are all great, but the show.... the show...

... the show needs to be rescued by a real superhero.

Rating: 3 out of 10, and a warning that it better improve, or drop to a 2.


Please vanish. Please go away. Please stop clogging up the airwaves.

Rating: 0 out of 10.


I had such high hopes for a show like this... I mean, it's Ron Livingston, and Gina Torres, and... and some redhead chick. Some of the dialogue is pretty good, but the premise of their job is going to wear thin very fast, and the chemistry was pretty much set out for the whole season five minutes out of the gate. As far as I can tell, every episode will be like the previous... a sort of a standoff with the viewers. Ron Livingston needs a role where his every-guy laconic awesomeness can shine, but this show is weighed down with too much drama, and not enough depth or entertainment. Sigh.

Rating: 5 out of 10. It could have gone all the way...


I was truly stoked about this show, and I was so happy when I found out it would be aired on Space on Saturdays. Then I found out it also aired on Wednesdays on regular television, and so all the good parts were spoiled for me in my House forum. All in all, the show has a buttload of potential, but the first episode was... actually slow. For a movie about the nuclear apocalypse, it dragged on interminably. I give it four episodes to improve, or Skeet Ulrich may have to come off my Christmas card list.

Rating: 6.1 out of 10.

To sum it up... watch Shark, try Jericho, and spend the rest of the time watching Supernatural DVDs.