Hardcore Henry (Хардкор): when he is resurrected with no memory and new robotic limbs, Henry must save his kidnapped wife from a telekinetic psychopath who has plans to weaponise a robo-army. From the opening credits (graphic, but blackly comic violence) you can tell this isn’t your usual action film – most of the movie is shot from a ‘First Person’ perspective, from the point-of-view of ‘Henry’ using an intricate head-cam rig. The film is basically 90 minutes straight of Henry running / jumping / shooting / punching through a long line of obstacles; with some awesome freerunning & parkour (seemingly no wires – or brains!), and high intensity and very high quality stuntwork: the elements combine to create a truly unique and awe-inspiring action spectacle. There’s also a great anarchic/punk sensibility to the movie; anything goes, and there’s a lot of crazy & zany elements… it even using things like subtitles to make a few jokes with. The biggest problem is that when everything is up at 150% the whole time, you end up becoming a bit numb to it towards the end. Another downside of the FPS style is that the camera is very shaky and has a warped fish-eye lens which distorts a lot of the outer frame. Hardcore Henry is a film that is truly cutting edge, in that it couldn’t have even been made a couple of years ago – the only remotely close comparison you could draw would be a less offensive, but higher-octane version of the Crank films. It’s fun, impressive, and completely mental, but overall struggles to engage after a while. Best viewed after consuming a twelve pack of Red Bull.
NOTE: The entire film was spawned from this music video – if you fancy 90 mins of this, look no farther than Hardcore Henry.
Homefront: when an undercover narc is re-located his past eventually comes back to bite him, and his daughter. I was really looking forward to this: Statham playing Statham in an action film, James Franco as the baddie, and Wynona Rider… things were looking up; then I saw this phrase in the credits “written and produced by Stallone” and my heart just sank. We know Statham’s a badass (he’s Jason Statham), we know Franco is the baddie, we know the cop is bent, we know the revenge story… don’t spend over an hour backgrounding these basic characters, and genre plot. And don’t sell it as a non-stop action-fest when it’s only really the finale that’s action-heavy. And don’t cast a young girl with an old-lady’s face! (She was like ‘Chloe from Vine’). And don’t be so loose with your accent, Statham. While this isn’t a completely terrible film it just feels like nobody’s really trying: not the writers, not the director, not even the actors… everyone involved is better than this. Distressingly average.
“They wouldn’t slash the price, so she slashed them up.”
Dream Home (維多利亞壹號): when property developers bump up the price of her dream house, Cheng Lai goes on a killing spree that should make it more affordable again. The film opens up with the perfect one-sentence setup: ‘the average wage in Hong Kong has gone up 1% since the 1997 handover, in 2007 alone house prices went up by 15%’ – easy to see why the central character’s so frustrated. Although they all take place in one night, the killings are spread throughout the film; and they’re pretty graphic, imaginative, and brutal – blood, guts, gore all in abundance, but seamlessly done and outrageously OTT, although there’s a couple of really nasty deaths that may be too much for fair-weather horror fans. Equally scattered through the film is a very modern, hitting, and relevant commentary on the housing market prices. Most surprisingly for a violent B-movie / horror film, it’s beautifully shot: the entire film looks superb, in particular the shots of the city and it’s buildings are mesmerizing, and brilliantly done. It’s also great to see a strong female wielding the knives for a change in this type of movie. With both a modern social commentary and top-tier gore – Dream House is a total winner in my book, although this film definitely puts the ‘gory’ in ‘Category III‘ films. Great shock/exploitation movie.
B-Movie Score: 8.5/10
“She’d Kill for a harbour view”
Hard Candy: a character-driven modern thriller that feels like the most extreme episode of ‘To Catch A Predator’. Right from the opening IM conversation you know this film will be difficult to watch, and the first 20 minutes are among the most awkward I’ve seen. Because there’s only two characters the story’s very neat and wrapped up tightly: Ellen Page is nothing short of phenomenal and Patrick Wilson was great. David Slade made a good job of making the film feel cold, minimal and clinical, although colour is used very effectively, and his direction throughout is spot on. Guys will always remember what happens off-screen and there’s a few more scenes that stuck with me since I originally saw it in the cinema. By the end, it begins to feel a little stretched out, and it does make you question how a kid could execute this plan so perfectly. Fantastic feature-length debut, but hard-hitting content will be too uncomfortable for some.