Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (Tráiganme la cabeza de la mujer metralleta): a geeky gamer must track down and kill a sexy assassin – The Machine Gun Woman – to save his own life. Although marketed as a Tarantino / Grindhouse flavoured low-budget B-movie it feels more like a guerilla film: short, cheap, and resourceful… natural light, minimal FX, no frills. The plot is split into missions/chapters marked by Grand Theft Auto fonts, and more generally the film is shot from the games’ camera angles, to give the feel the lead is playing his own version of GTA. If you’ve ever watched anyone playing a game like GTA, it’s not that much fun… and while this has a some bloody & violent set pieces, and a few brief nudie shots, it’s nowhere near as wild as it needs to be to keep you engaged with the computer game format. At just over 70 minutes, it’s already very short – but it still struggles to sustain the story and interest in parts. The other problem is that the film would have been better from the machine gun woman’s point of view; giving her more than 15 mins of screen time, and at least a smidgen of back story or motivations – instead she appears in full prostitute–fantasy glory, does some smolderingly sexy posing, kills some guys with ease, then wiggles her beautiful arse back out of shot… I know, I know – it’s not the worst thing you’ll ever see. Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman tries to mix old-fashioned grindhouse with modern video games, but didn’t have the conviction to sustain either – e.g. the classic ‘film grain’ effect is only put on the first and last few minutes. Less like Machete, more like MaShoeString (Budget). Sorry you had to read that, it was the best I could do. A serviceable film for the teenage male gamer market.
B-Movie Score: 6/10
Brick Mansions: a cop must team up with a convicted cop killer to take down Detroit’s most vicious drug dealer, who’s holding the city ransom with a nuclear bomb. The biggest thing that this has going for it is action; lots and lots of action. David Belle action is always a treat to watch, and his stunts are all to a high standard. David Belle’s dubbed face on the other hand isn’t as fun to watch, if anything, a little distracting, and it’s not just the syncing, but the ultra low gruff effects that make him sound like Vin Diesel. Paul Walker doesn’t lag too far behind Belle in the action stakes, which is surprising. With 90 minutes of sweet action, a ticking clock scenario, lame-ish acting and a basic, predictable story – it’s essentially a flashy B movie. Then there’s a massive elephant in the room though; the originals – which, if you’ve seen them, completely take the wind out of Brick Mansion’s sails as large sections are literally scene for scene, jump for jump, punch for punch re-shoots – with a bigger budget. Add to the fact thar this that 10 years on, Parkour is not as cool or fresh, and that the crucial social commentary (and plot in general) feels like more of an afterthought in this one – it lets the film down. If you have no interest in foreign films, this is as solid a B movie action film as they get, but if you’re feeling adventurous I’d absolutely recommend D13 and D13 Ultimatum over this.
Django Unchained: a German bounty hunter frees a slave, then partners up with him to make some cash and rescue his girl from a flamboyant plantation owner. As expected, Waltz absolutely steals the show with what’s essentially a re-write/reprise of his intelligent, oddly-humorous ‘Jew-hunter‘. Everyone else turns up and does their thing entertainingly enough. While the film pokes a lot of fun at the stupidity of racism (KKK mask scene & Sam Jacksons rant about Foxx sleeping in the house), for me the ‘N-Bomb’ is dropped far, far too often: which may have been accurate of the period, but it’s such a loaded word that drags the tone down – taking it way beyond any ‘light-hearted’ Blazing Saddles similarities. Clocking in at 2hr 45, it’s also far, far too drawn out, for such a simple revenge tale, especially once Dicaprio pops up: some scenes seem to go on forever with rambling, empty, dialogue and plodding shot after shot. While they’re all quintessential Tarantino scenes, it also suffers from his trademark lack of self-censorship. Finally, although, stylistically, most scenes are undeniably QT -and this isn’t really his fault – his style’s been ripped off so many times (funky music, uber-gore and back-and-forth dialogue) that it no longer packs the punch it once did. As a stand-alone film, Django Unchained is a decent film dragged down by its ‘epic’ runtime and the difficult task of balancing racism and comedy. It’s only when you step back and hold it up against a film like Inglorious – equally long, but crammed with great, tense and cinematic moments – that you realise how ordinary Django Unchained is.
Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 / Blood Camp Thatcher): citizens that defy the futuristic totalitarian government (branded ‘deviants’) are sent to prison camps for re-education; but this camp-master has other plans. The scene’s set well with an opening montage of violence / police brutality. The contrast between the scrawny camp workers and the decadent, pipe-smoking, cognac-sipping, liberty-takin’ fat-cat elite is simple, but effective. The direction, production, sets and action are all way above scratch – particularly the striking imagery throughout and budget busting finale. Putting this DVD in I was expecting a cheap, schlocky B-movie and although this meets all of that criteria, it doesn’t hurt that it’s also a well-made, smart, political, exploitative, black-comedy, prison-camp action thriller. Boiled down, it’s a futuristic take on ‘The Most Dangerous Game‘ – Turkey Shoot is also, undeniably, 24 carat trash.
Freedom is obedience.
Obedience is work.
Work is life.
Immortals: King Hyperion will stop at nothing to obtain the Epirus Bow, but he faces an unlikely challenge from a peasant trained by Zeus himself. Directed by Tarsem – as you’d expect the clothes, masks, set designs and attention to detail is immaculate. It’s also technically impressive, well shot, and a good blend of CGI and real images that other directors would shun away from. Tarsem has some moments of intense vivid uber imagery (what he does best) however, the producers have clearly forced in as many ‘300’ similarities that the contract would support: plastic skies, million-man armies, traitors, rippling abs, oracles, boring grey colour pallets, scrolling one-on-twenty fight scenes… which everyone’s seen before, loads. The story is put to the front and played out well, although there are times when you think ‘less talk, more rock please’. It’s well cast, with Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto and John Hurt standing atop a mountain of decent performances; for a stylised Greek Myth! While it’s very watchable and a decent film, The Immortals and the Fall perfectly illustrate the differences between such an imaginative and unique director doing a stunning self-financed film, and a studio-backed blockbuster with some shining moments.