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Bound: Violet wants to leave her mobster boyfriend after hooking up with ex-con Corky – so they hatch a little ol’ scheme to steal laundered some money. A project to prove that the Wachowski‘s could actually handle a film before studios gave them money for The Matrix, it had to stand out, so the guys made a noir film with a unique twist – LESBIANS!!! The retro vibe mixed with the semi-corny script, cheapy music and lesbian undertones make the first 30 minutes feel a bit like a soft porno. When two beautiful women start fingerblasting each other it feels like an actual porno, but with more passion & realism. After the setup the film picks up the pace; with the story twisting along and the directors quickly proving that they can handle themselves. It’s very, very slick and stylish, well shot, technically proficient and a dramatic rollercoaster towards the end. A couple of really high tension scenes are also handled masterfully, and although the script’s a bit clunky, the story makes up for it. Both females (Tilly & Gershon) do well with their characters, as does Pantoliana but seeing Cypher with hair is a bit weird. The final act in particular has a real Reservoir Dogsy type feel to it in both the bloody violence, and the career kick-startability. As a readiness project, consider this mission accomplished, although the Wachowski‘s would soon realised that all the money in the world couldn’t make a good film *coughMatrixRevolutionscough*

Score: 6.5/10

How will we convince people to give us money for our project... LESBIOOOBS!!!!

Dragon Tiger Gate [Blu Ray]: Two step-brothers and a random come together and fight the evil Lousha Gate to save their martial arts school. Based on a Chinese comic (Oriental Heroes), there’s some sweet-ass stylish opening credits, and more generally the acting’s decent by comic adaptation standards. The story’s a bit overcooked and strays pretty deeply into the field of cheese with the metaphors, dreams and visions – which gets a little tedious. What makes this watchable is Donnie Yen’s jaw-dropping action choreography (and 14 year old emo girl’s haircut!), particularly the 2x restaurant scenes. The baseball field and gate bit are also fairly good – although the final boss fight has far too much SFX, which loses the innovative and live action feel of the earlier battles. The Blu Ray picture’s good, and vibrant when it needs to be, the HD sound is loud, proud, punchy and clean. Although the story’s not up to much, Dragon Tiger Gate is some harmless action fun.

Score: 7/10


Win Win: A lawyer-cum-wrestling coach gets more than he bargained for when assuming custody of an elderly client. From the very first scene this is clearly an Indie Flick, but you can also tell straight away that it has more potential than most. The casting is very strong: Giamatti‘s looking a bit jowly but does his everyman thing; the main kid actor (Shaffer – first film role) is very watchable – great presence already; not-quite-Billy-Zane/Andy-Garcia (Cannavale) also plays a blinder with an amazingly dark undertone. Although it’s a textbook underdog / misunderstood intentions story it’s very watchable, and the family aspect in particular is compelling. More than anything else, Win Win is subtly funny, and enjoyable to watch.

Score: 7.5/10

Route Irish: named after the most dangerous road in the world, this film follows a soldier‘s family and friend as they try to establish how he died working at a private security firm in Iraq. It’s one of the most directed films I’ve seen in a while, and has Ken Loach all over it – a micro-drama that feels realistic, with a docu-drama TV aesthetic and an unambiguous socio-political viewpoint (all in a good way !). Being ‘Lochean’ it also means that ‘Fuck‘ is every second word and most people prefer to shout in each other’s faces rather than talk. The story’s very strong, and the last half hour in particular is a total powerhouse, peaking during the most intense interrogation scene I can remember watching. Emotions are heightened throughout with some harsh footage of the focal incident, and some unpleasant, genuine war aftermath footage. The small cast are all watchable, although they’re left in the shadow of Mark Womack – who plays a brilliant self-destructing soldier armed with his smarts and an insatiable appetite for the truth. Being a modern anti-war film, it does well to play through a jaded soldier’s perspective – and it doesn’t have many positive things to say about private contractors. Gritty and believable no-holds-barred look at the effects of Iraq back home.

Score: 7.5/10

Tomorrow Never Dies: when a UK ship sinks in Chinese waters all is not what it seems. After some rummaging about 007 uncovers a crazy man’s plan to start WWIII, for exclusive media coverage and ratings!

Genuinely one of the more average days in the life of James Bond...

Another top-quality intro side-mission in the form of Bond gatecrashing a terrorist arms bazaar where he kicks the shit out of everyone, blows the shit out of everything (with the help of a jet fighter) then out-flies the shit out of a trained pilot; or as M calls it ‘doing his job’

Hands down the coolest scene in the film!

This opening really sets the bar for Tomorrow Never Dies and the action throughout is second to none; soundproof studio fist fight, newspaper factory punch up, RC car chase, Hong Kong building traversing and bike chase, Jackie Chan inspired technical Kung Fu fight, stealth boat finale… the last three films have such a great action track record!

Stomper - yet another henchman in the mould of From Russia's 'Red'.

Bonds era-specific calling card for the 1990s appears to be technology. Not only is it becoming more prevalent in the stories, but one of GoldenEye‘s main baddies was a – then – rare and mysterious computer H4x0r! Upping the ante here, we have the visual stereotype of a IT virgin (fat, beard, probably plays Warhammer in his mum’s basement) branded a “Techno Terrorist” and given the same billing as the physically perfect and ruthless Stamper. As far as henchmen go, must try harder.

China's answer to 007, waving him on from the sidelines

Q branch also rolls along with the times, producing two of the best gadgets to come out of the department: the burglar-and-bulletproof RC BMW, and the Phone/Taser/Car Control/Fingerprint scanner. What a combo! This is the very outer-limits of Bond gadgetry in that they seem completely plausible, but so ridiculously cool that they couldn’t possibly exist.

Ladies and Gentlemen - you're looking at the perfect James Bond here!

Brosnan pulls out what’s probably my single favourite Bond performance. He amplifies all of the traits displayed in GoldenEye,  honing in on becoming even smoother, smarter and deadlier. Biggest improvements are the action, and dry one-line deliveries – “They’ll print anything these days” is delivered absolutely perfectly. This performance looks as effortless as the horizontal Bond controlling the car from the back seat of his BMW.

Not unlike the gadets, carver treads that line between rediculous and real

The supporting cast are all overshadowed by Pryce as Elliot Carver – who is fantastic at being restrained and subdued, yet ridiculously theatrical (especially in his eyebrows, scheme and super-ridiculous typing). Despite little screen time Teri Hatcher does well to convince us that she’s known Bond from way back.

Bottoms up. Teri makes an arse of herself!

With big GoldenEye boots to fill Tomorrow Never Dies is every bit as good a film, although it does switch the character development for more straigh-up action set pieces. There are plenty of hits, but it’s not without a few misses – the most cringe-worthy being a Mel Brooks style parody hitman. Another rock-solid stripped down Bond film.

Score: 7/10

This guy could genuinely walk straight into an Austin Powers film

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Elliot Carver – dastardly pantomime baddie with insane delusions. 7
Henchmen: Stomper – another Red-Esque brute / Gunther: Fat beardy hacker / Weird-faced hitman. 6
Bond Girl: Mrs Carver – beautiful. Lucy Lui – hot, feisty and hold her own well. 8
Action: Terrorist Bazaar / Soundproof Studio / Newspaper Printer / Hong Kong HQ escape / Motorbike Chase / Kung Fu / Stealth Boat. 9

Handcuffed on a bike - made for some good 'out of the box' moments

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GoldenEye: [Spoilers] when a global terrorist organisation steals a civilisation-busting weapon system called GoldenEye only one super spy can save the world from the looming doom.

Can a normal man catch up with a heavy, aerodynamic aeroplane... Duh!!

Who’s this idiot-hole jumping off the side of a reservoir and grapple-gunning his way to the bottom? Then taking on a room full of Russians, then stealing a bike, then the plane in mid air… The guy’s insane! This is an outstanding pre-title sequence with 007 and 006 (but how did he get there?) carrying out a break-in at a Russian chemical plant – definitely one of the best, most exciting, most tense and most action-packed of the intros. The (now legendary) N64 game captured facility so well when you see the film again.

It's all 6s and 7s in this scene - and film!

With the fantastic Licence to Kill proving to be a box office misfire – I blame the studio – and the franchise stuck in a rut for over five years the series was having a bit of an identity crisis, and it definitely shows in GoldenEye, which to me feels like a half-arsed re-boot.

Not particularly menacing, unless you have a fear of penis-shaped noses

On one hand we have the good old Commies getting themselves into trouble, a trusty space weapon of doom, a villain that wants to wrong all of the world’s rights, a bunch of big-budget action set pieces, enough explosives to match Licence to Kill and some truly awful accents (taxi  for Janssen & Cumming)… It’s like nothing’s changed.

M, a lady, in a Bond film.... OUTRAGE!!!!

On the other hand hand we have a new Bond (with an 80s lady haircut), a new female M (with a boys haircut), a new Moneypenny (with a drag queen haircut – I’M SO CONFUSED!). Despite having a typical Bond story, there’s something different about it… The original parts are all here, but it just doesn’t feel the same! In one of the film’s most telling scenes M notes that in a post Cold War world James Bond is a sexist, irrelevant dinosaur – shame on her!! A few other characters also jibe with Bond about being old hat…Definitely uncalled for given what JB has done over the years, and guess who has to save the day / world / girl / civilisation again!?!? – idiots!!

Bond nerd and Bond girl, two great characters that are both crucial to the story

As far as the new Bond goes, I really rate Brosnan. Growing up through his films (this was the first one I saw in in a cinema, thanks mum!) he’s the Bond of my era, but also, looking back through the years – for me, he’s the first ‘full package’. Sure, Connery is the Bond – oozing charm and humour, Lazenby was the timid one, Moore too theatrical and Dalton quite mysterious – Brosnan rolls all these traits into one performance, creating a full character for the first time.

Sharpe and Steele - surely a winning 00-combo!

Other unforgettable moments from GoldenEye are the: Tank Vs Train fight, the sexually charged vixen Onatopp (hubba hubba), unashamed 1990s SFX abuse with everything and everyone being blown and smashed up, the blatant IBM advertising, “I am invincible” and the super-cool satellite fight at the end.

Xenia Onatopp: has the gadget to rule all gadgets, killer thighs

For the first time in decades we have a great (and quite large) number of solid – fleshed out – characters that all bounce off and balance each other – because although the action is memorable in GoldenEye, it’s really the cast that have to make us believe that the world’s change AND push the picture forward. While it’s more of a facelift than a proper restart the Bond team did well to nail GoldenEye and save the feanchise that so many had written off. Solid 90s blockbuster.

Score: 7/10

A massive tank, drifting 'round corners and through buildings... awesome

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Sean Bean – pretty insane, wants to throw the UK to the dogs!! 7
Henchmen: Femke Janssen, Penis-nose’d Russian, Invincible Boris. 7
Bond Girls: Femke Jannsen – likes it rough. Programmer chick – very attractive. 8
Action: Opening Scene, Car Chase, Jail Breakout, Tank Chase, Antena & Base destruction 7

First film and we've already seen Brosnan's Ohhhhhhh-Ohhhh face!

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
The Reviewer
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Aye em eenveenseebiilll

Bonus round - so you'll never, EVER look at this poster the same again

22 Bullets (aka The Immortal): A retired mobster-turned-family-man gets left for dead with 22 bullets in him; once recovered, he’s out for revenge, and nothing’s going to stop it. Instantly, you realise that technically, this film is the definition of slick: camerawork, direction, editing, music, and acting – all fantastic. After the initial 30 minutes of set-up and character introductions the rest is all plot progression and action, of a high standard; car chase, bike chase, shootouts, assassinations etc. Reno‘s still got it, most evidently in a couple of high-intensity scenes where he succeeds in sucking you straight into the film, and gets you rooting for the antihero. The female police officer (Foïs) also stands above the bar, although there are no duds in the cast. The publicity material plays off of Leon/The Professional, but this is as good a stand-alone film. While it may not be one of the most original revenge stories, it sticks to the tried formula and comes out way above average. Recommended.

Score: 7/10