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Rumble in the Bronx: whilst visiting his uncle in New York, Keong fom Hong Kong finds himself in the crosshairs of several gangs. The premise is basic (like the far East’s rebuttal to Black Rain – the West is full of uncivilized, violent punks!), the plot twists are silly and the acting’s borderline woeful, but this film has Jackie Chan; and an on form Jackie Chan of that! The action set pieces are still among the best you can find today; the shop fight, back alley fight, car park chase, and the superb gang den fight… action doesn’t get any better than this: strength, acrobatic skills, timing, planning, intuitive use of space & objects – it’s almost unbelievable. I could genuinely watch these scenes on loop all day and never get bored. The biggest stunts have a timeless jaw-dropping quality, mostly because they’re real and well-edited: you want to pull down a building? Lets build one to demolish! You want a hovercraft/car chase scene? Lets make it happen on real streets! Jackie Chan jumping a large gap between to 10-storey buildings? CGI boring and waste of money! Above the eye-blasting stuntwork there’s a lot of camera-friendly graffiti, clothes, cars, buildings and other such eye candy. There’s a couple of bizarre slapstick scenes that stick out like sore thumbs, but other than that, it’s all gravy. Sure it will never be on a Criterion or AFI “best films of all time” list, but Rumble in the Bronx is entertainment in one of its most pure and watchable forms, and they just don’t make ’em like this any more.

Score: 8/10

Moonraker: when an airplane transporting the brand new ‘Moonraker’ space shuttle blows up James Bond is sent to figure out why none of Moonraker is in the debris. With the help of a female scientist they find out that it’s part of a Madman’s plan to wipe out the human race and start a superior one in space.

Bond didn't do too well on the spin cycle challenge...

Moonraker begins with one of the coolest opening action sequences, with 007 hurling himself out of a ‘plane, freefalling down to Jaws and fighting him in mid-air for the last parachute.

007 will do anything for a parachute! Dirty minx.

With Star Wars V, Alien and the First Star Trek film being released in the same year – and Bond’s uncanny nack of incorporating the latest trends – 007 was always going to be heading to space… it’s just a pity that it didn’t work out. It borrows heavily from previous successful sci-fi hits like 2001 and Logans Run, with some ridiculous additions like a huge laser battle between the ‘perfect’ humans and U.S. Space Marines!?!?  Not all of the space section is lame though, the zero-G sequence is jaw-dropping, and is as convincing as anything Kubrik achieved in 2001. I guess you have to remember that space was still very cool back then.

Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew

Other bits in my Moonraker scrapbook are: the ridiculous stereotype of Rio De Janeiro (with everyone samba dancing and a carnival around every corner). The fact that Drax’s plans on heading up a ‘superior race’, despite being short, hairy and having a perfect face for the radio. Jaws looks uncannily like Willem Dafoe here, and despite falling out of a plane and getting mauled in a cable car crash it only takes about 5 samba dancers to drag him away from Bond! The ‘comedy’ element is cringe-worthy with Jaws making flapping motions in mid air and a terrible “He’s behind you” pantomime moment. The name Dr Goodhead is timeless, as is the shooting of the sniper out of the tree and the sound of the door password. Another part that sticks out for all the right reasons is the tastefully done dog-chase scene, it’s like a little bit or arthouse sticking out like a sore thumb.

What's the time in Rio? SAMBA O'CLOCK!!!

Moonraker’s biggest weakness is that it tries to do too much in one film, and it’s all done in a way that means that the tone’s all over the place: it’s a long-winded story, a slice of the middle east, a bit of latin america, 5 minutes of a ridiculous Western, and a whole lotta space tomfoolery, all mixed in with some terrible attempts at comedy. Definitely one of the weaker, and more dated films

The classic "attemptig re-entry" quip could well be Q's finest hour

Score: 4.5/10

Two of Jaws' kryptonite: samba and midgets!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Humourless, emotionless, beard. Identical to Stromberg but substitute water with space. 3
Henchman: Bowlcut ninja Chang – pretty rubbish. Jaws – decent, but cops out at the end! 6
Bond girls: Dr Holly Goodhead – good. Dogfood Corinne – good. Beyonce look-a-like. Jaws’ handfull Dolly. 100 ‘perfect’ girls. Too many. 5
Action: Centrifuge, Venice / Amazon boat chases, glass warehouse, Cable cars, Space fight. 6

The nightmarish doberman chase sequence...

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Dr Goodhead - whatever could that mean?!

The Human Centipede: A respected-but-crazy German surgeon tries to fulfill his dream of connecting three people by the digestive system and creating… a human centipede. Story-wise, you’ve seen the set-up a million times; two helpless travelers’ car breaks down, they have no phone signal and they land up on a madman’s door step. Where this differs is that compared to slasher/monster flicks the idea and villain are firmly rooted in reality (and apparently medicine!) – further implied by the film’s familiarly clinical settings and unsettlingly sterile visuals. What makes this so shocking is more than just the ultra-sick idea and follow-up; very little gore or filth is explicitly shown, and you’re mind gets to run wild with it – how does the digestive system work? what do the joined bits look like? etc. The budget goes a long, long way here (positively B-movie) – a great testament to the director, Tom Six. The Walken-esque Dr Heiter brings the entertainment as he bounces between absolute psychotic, campy crazy and the everyday mundane tasks of a killer; drugging / killing / burying. Very few people seem to notice the film’s ultra-black humour throughout, again, providing more relief from the shock. Despite the trailer revealing the whole story, and most of the big scenes, when watched in the context of the film everything you see has much more clout. This is true to itself and true to the shock/horror genre – making it a film that you’ll want to watch or avoid like the plague. If it is your bag, it’s surprisingly slick, tight, entertaining, shocking, watchable and unforgettable (all in a car-crash way!). The fact that it’s had the legs (!) to go from the pariah to mainstream says a lot. Well worth a punt.

Score: 6.5/10

Happy Halloween!!!