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


Blogger lostdwarf said...

Well, hell. Now I'm ticked I missed both of them. Helloooo, Rogers!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Mothshade said...

Jet Li has given me far more joy than I will ever give him. I call us more-than-even.

Via con queso, amigo.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Mothshade said...

Finally got around to watching Fearless. Not as awesome as I expected, but it was good. Interesting to see so much more plot development and character interaction than savage pummelings.

I hate to say that I came away just a little disappointed with the action...I guess I will have to watch the unrated version and see if they do any better.

Oh...Jet Li isn't "quitting the biz" he is supposedly just not doing typical wushu any more. Aren't he and Jackie Chan doing a flick soon?

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