Tekken: after WWIII the megacorporation Tekken controls what was once North America, and is staging it’s annual ‘Iron Fist’ tournament. Obviously, for a film like this, actors are cast for their athletic looks over their talent – which leads to some god-awful line delivery from most people, but hey, at least they look very similar to their pixelated counterparts. The set-up is fairly good for this type of film, integrating a lot of detail from the game series. What drives Tekken is the action, and this film knows its audience, assigning about 2/3 of the runtime to 1 on 1 fights from the games, death-matches, or other action scenes. Despite being nothing new to the genre, Tekken is more watchable than most computer game conversions – and as good as any average cyberpunk / dystopian future movie.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: the IMF’s best agent Ethan Hunt is back again; his team go off the grid as they’re blamed for bombing the Kremlin – they must also stop an unfolding global Nuclear War – instigated by a madman! This film sticks to what the franchise does best; action and tension. The tension is wrung out and maximised like a boss; the Kremlin corridor and double-meeting in particular are proper edge-of-your-seat scenes. The action is also well above par, bone-crunching fist-fights and well-handled/edited camera work (other than the sloppy sandstorm chase). This story is typical of the other three films, with more newfangled espionage in various hyper-photogenic locations. Pegg comes out on top of the cast, providing a bit more comic relief than usual, but avoids becoming the clown – everyone else is solid. There’s some awesome gadgets and technical details for your inner-geek, the fastest-booting servers in the world and an onslaught of Apple products. On the downside, it definitely needed more Ving Rhames quips & ass-kicking, and Nyqvist as the ‘main’ bad guy could have done with more screen time and evil development. M:I-4 is another slick instalment of the winning James Bond formula cranked up to 11.
Jennifer’s Body [Blu Ray]: when a slew of horrific murders hit a sleepy town, Needy starts to think her best friend is a blood-thirsty vampyre. On the surface this appears to exists as a Megan Fox bootay appreciation vehicle, which is fine by me, especially because she plays a sexy femme fatale – with some brilliantly lewd lines. Fortunately, there’s more here than just foxy Fox. The film is laced with a good dose of black humour and absurdity; just enough to confirm that it’s not taking itself too seriously – 8675309 / Goths at a Funeral / Emo band story arc etc. It’s also ‘teen horror’ to the core: with an emphasis on ‘hip’ music, high school setting, sexually charged ‘teens’, pop cultural references, slang vocabulary… right down to the Prom Night finale. The direction’s strong, and BD picture and audio quality are both very good – also the directors cut is apparently far superior to the theatrical version. I was more than surprised as I watched this with a constant smile, and some proper belly laughs; it’s one of the best in its genre since the likes of the Faculty and Idle Hands. After its initially poor cinematic reception Jennifer’s Body will hopefully shine a lot brighter on DVD/Blu Ray as it’s far better, runnier, sexier, more violent and smarter than it looks, and you’d expect.
Zombie Beach Party: aka (Zombie King and the Legion of Doom aka Enter… Zombie King) A troupe of masked wrestlers tag up to fight off a powerful arch enemy and his army of the undead before they take over the town! The good stuff: nice Inter-title cards introducing the main cast at the start, some pretty good and fun exhibition wrestling fights, super-rapid Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart cameo (as the sheriff). The bad stuff: more so than most b-movies there’s pretty much no acting (face or voice) as all the main characters wear masks, the night scenes are terrible due to bad lighting, poor quality film stock, on top of all the usual B-movie gaffes. The film tried to be a parody of the zombie genre and a homage to wrestling – it does both, but neither particularly well, not to mention there’s almost no zombie action! At the end of the day this ring-slid well underneath my bottom rope expectation!! Wrestlemaniac was way better, and that’s saying somehting!
Obsessed: a married guy gets harassed by an increasingly obsessive woman until it gets out of hand… I’ve genuinely seen porno films with better acting, music, direction and even story. And no – I haven’t mixed this up with Fatal Attraction. Idris Elba lapsed in and out of good acting without warning. The crazy secretary (Ali Larter) was awful, but couldn’t really do much with her paper-thin character. Beyonce, meh, just there for the end really… and stick to singing love. Whether it was the budget of a massive case of ‘can’t be assed’ this looks & feels like a directorial debut – not someone that’s been behind the camera since 1995 (!) on projects such as Deadwood (!!), The Good Wife (!!!), The Sopranos (!!!!) and The Wire (!WTF!). Inexcusable acting, story and a spectacular f-up on the part of everyone’s agent. Tour De Fail.
Candy Strippers: A gherkin-looking membrane transfers and infects female hospital workers through kissing, turning them into seductive murderers… nothing to do with pole-dancers; I want my money back! Definitely bags the ‘Misleading title of the year’ award. It’s refreshing only having infected female killers for a change, but that’s where the originality ends. The last 40 minutes is just 20-somethings carelessly running around a hospital getting chopped up one by one. The last 10 ten minutes is a ludicrous needle-fest. Generally skipped through all the ‘plot building’ after the 20 minute mark. Nothing groundbreaking here: lame ‘monster’, average gore, terrible gags, unfathomably hot females, some gratuitous boobs and dumb people doing dumb things.
Kill Bill Vol 2: (Blu Ray) retribution continues at a slower pace as the back story is given more attention. This installment starts off as it means to continue, totally rip-off retro: effects, music, voiceovers, homage, etc. The story’s very strong until the last 45 minutes when it grinds to a halt, feeling drawn out with heavy conversation and that stupid truth serum. I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s ‘natural dialogue’. It’s not Kevin Smith bad but still quite annoying, and it really bogs down the end of Vol 2… On the upside there’s still some great cinema to be had; parts like the blacked out buried alive scene utilising big sounds to strike fear in to you are movie gold. The acting is top notch again, from Uma through to the let-himself-go Bud, sharp-as-ever Bill and the (still) foxy Elle Driver – it helps that all characters get good screen time to develop. The Blu Ray is absolutely stunning; close-up skin, face, hair and clothing detail will blow you away – even in the intentionally grainy Pai Mei scenes. The sound’s also fantastic, again making it worth the upgrade. It’s definitely the weaker stand-alone film, but when viewed back to back with Vol 1 it’s a great conclusion to one of the most epic revenge tales committed to celluloid!