Westworld: a luxury adult amusement park where holiday makers can relive the lawless Wild West for a thousand dollars a night; nothing can go wrong, and you can kill or get off with as many robots as you can! The concept is made more believable as it’s backed up with dozens of one-liners that explain the robots, the park, and answer the obvious “how does that work” questions. The three mains are all good, but Yul Brynner’s evil robot gunslinger stands out as being absolutely chilling: his mannerisms (particularly the slow, but efficient, walk) are unsettling as he malfunctions and chases down the lead – this is clearly the starting point for The Terminator. For an oldie, the film looks great, and is plenty stylish – hat’s off to the photographer and director. Storywise, it could have been a little better proportioned: 60 minute lead up, 5 minutes of destruction, 25 minutes of chasing… felt a little short-changed given the premise. Like all of the best Sci-Fi movies, at the heart of Westworld is a single, great idea, that just hasn’t aged a day, and if anything is more relevant to modern science – right down to the technical jargon. Even if robo-madness isn’t fully maximised, Westworld is a solid film made all the better with its creepy – prophetic – tone, and a retro / kitsch vibe.
Robot hookers… curvy!
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.