Naked Killer (赤裸羔羊): a cop that vomits every time he picks up a gun has to catch a killer that targets men, and stabs / chops off their meat & two veg… Really .The film does nothing to hide its terrible editing, camerawork and flaky acting – feels like a Troma/no-budget movie. The ‘plot’ is impossibly ridiculous and the script / translations are just mental – “why are you pointing your pink pistol at me” & “I’ll squeeze your tits ’til they burst” being just a couple of choice lines. There’s unprecedented levels of flirty lesbian conversations and boob rubbing – definitely a film made exclusively for teenage boys. On the upside: the girls are pretty, and hidden amongst everything else, there are some good fight-scenes (although poorly put together)- that’s… about… it. Naked Killer boils to being a standard assassin/thriller story with as much camp, random, slapstick, bawdy, ridiculous, male-fantasy moments the runtime would allow to throw at it – all very Asian and very 90s. Perhaps it’s the UK version, but the film feels so random and disjointed that it has to be heavily cut – either that or it IS just awful. Despite having properly set expectations for a Category III film called “Naked Killer” this was plain disappointing, although, If you have a ‘thing’ for lesbian Asian assassins, then this is definitely one for you.
Neon Flesh (Carne de neón) [Minor spoilers]: a small-time pimp opens a brothel to impress his mum, unbeknownst to him juggling prostitutes, gangsters and his crazy friends isn’t that easy! From the first frame this stinks of the last 15 years of thugz ‘n’ drugz type geezer movies; a ton of characters introduced one by one with quick cuts, in-frame text and cheeky chappy explanatory narration… it never really aims higher than that. A major weakness is that – although there’s sometimes good intentions in the longer run – individual story elements include: selling a baby, a transvestite getting their meat shot off, buying and disciplining trafficked women, playing Alzheimer’s for laughs, animal porn, a random woman ending up in a porno… it makes the characters hard to like, and some situations difficult to watch. Although it’s not original, the film’s style is perhaps the biggest positive; fast cuts, punchy visuals, slick camerawork… it looks great. You can find a handful of standout performances by heavyweight actors that don’t deserve to be tucked away in a film this schloky – there’s also a few moments of solid drama in the final act, but by then it’s too late. The major downfall with Neon Flesh is the juxtaposed premise: a ‘slapstick comedy/crime caper set in a whorehouse‘. Trying to juggle the upbeat tone and loaded subject matter is too big a task for the director – and although I can usually see through gratuitous violence, smut, and bad taste – this one really goes to town.
21 Jump street: two useless police officers are assigned to a revived ‘undercover‘ branch of the department. The film’s lucky in that it has two genres to mashup and play with – buddy cop and high school – which it does effectively, although the school element is far, far funnier. The first hour is fantastic, catches you off guard, full of well-observed school humour, and ‘random’ comedy (Korean Jesus, trippy drug scenes etc) – I almost choked at one point. It does however deflate and lose its magic in the second half as it frantically ticks all of the boxes you’d see in a bog-standard cop-buddy story arc. Jonah Hill is funny, but well within his comfort zone; Channing “is there anything he can’t do” Tatum is comedy gold – he hinted at this by being the only good thing about last year’s Dilemma, but this is a whole other level – show stealingly good. For additional smartness there’s a nice run of meta jokes about recycling ideas & humour, and loads of movie tropes – these can be found in the car chase and party scenes. With an emphasis on off-the-wall humour, and a genuinely funny script paired with some great improvisation, 21 Jump Street is a solid contender for comedy of the year.
Hobo with a Shotgun [Blu Ray]: tells the tale of an individual with no permanent residence, and his acquisition of a short-range firearm… Duh! Being born the same way as Machete, I had some reservations before starting this – but they were short-lived. EVERYTHING about this film is an authentic ode to the horror/exploitation ‘masterpieces’ I grew up watching from the 70s and 80s. The setting is a dystopian, lawless town, so rotten that only the eponymous anti-hero can clean it up with a shotgun. There’s fantastic gore every 5 minutes, and all kinds of insane and outrageous blood-soaked SFX. The story is so absurd and OTT that you simply can’t begin taking seriously. – it’s essentially a cheap vehicle used to maximise the blood ‘n’ guts factor. Rutger Hauer is a little too good for this type of film, fleshing out an emotional, solid central character. Abby also makes a good scream queen, and the rest of the cast are enjoyable stereotypes. The colour pallet is very saturated; bright and poppy, the blood leaps off the screen – Hauer’s face was also what BD was made for; the faithfully recreated Carpenter-esque 80s sci-fi horror synth soundtrack and gunshots pump out of all speakers – this is worth the Blu Ray upgrade if the film sounds like your bag. All in all, the video, music, plot, gore, sleaze and nastiness all combine to make this feel like an authentic retro film – unlike the one crappy video-grain effect used on Machete. This beat every expectation I had, and while it’s no cinematic masterpiece, it’s certainly an absolute must-see for all horror/B-movie/retro movie fans.
Sleepers: after a prank goes wrong 4 childhood friends are sent to a correctional center, where their lives are changed forever. Most obviously, this features a powerhouse of actors doing great acting, like nothing I’ve watched in a loooong time. The kids, all great; the adults, just as good. De Niro, brilliant (why can’t he do this more often); Hoffman, top form; Bacon, creep-tastic; The King, not overdone… It’s like watching a masterclass. The story’s not the most upbeat, but is told expertly and handled tastefully. It’s well-directed and topped off with a solid, populist soundtrack. I genuinely have no idea where this film’s been hiding all my life. Despite the risqué material, this is a Grade A tour de force in story telling.
The Devil’s Double: after being forced into doubling for Saddam Hussain’s crazy son Uday, a regular Iraqi soldier is thrown into a crazy world. The biggest reason to watch this is the central performance; Domnic Cooper absolutely owns two completely separate and distinguishable characters – often in the same scene. It really is fantastic to watch, and the film shines brightest when the ‘brothers’ are together (Beginning, nightclub, wedding…). The girlfriend side-story on the other hand is pedestrian, predictable and feels crow-barred in – detracting from the political story and making the final half hour drag on, which is the film’s biggest downfall as the first hour is superb. Parts of the film are hard to watch, but it’s centered around such a fantastic story of identity and what’s wrong/right.
Postal: Living in a shitty town drives one yocal to ‘go postal’, and sees him take on terrorists, a religious cult, villagers and the police… all in the name of sanity. A film that opens with two Muslim plane hijackers calling Osama Bin Laden to ask how many virgins there will be waiting for them, then accidentally flying into the WTC probably won’t be for everyone… Knowing that this is one big farce, director Uwe Boll pops up as himself, joking about being aroused by crowds & children, and that his films are really being funded by Nazi Gold – it’s mental. The story is more like a series of skits / ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’ scenes, but that’s OK as there’s a ton of gags and minor detail, almost like a David Zucker film. It’s visually striking; with tons of bright and poppy colours, not unlike classic Russ Meyer. Despite using a cat as a silencer, Zack Ward makes a pretty cool ginger action hero, and WTF is JK Simmons doing in this?!?! If you like your films crude, violent, brimming with hot babes, and full of kid / terrorist / nazi / midget / hippy / redneck / fat people jokes then Postal is the film for you. Despite everything being deliberately outrageous, I enjoyed it and will no doubt whore the DVD out to a bunch of people, then watch it again down the line. Totally ridiculous, but watchable tasteless caper.