• One Night in Bangkok (2020)

    One Night in Bangkok is a stylish action thriller with dramatic undertones. It is heavily inspired by Hollywood blockbuster Collateral in particular but also reminds of other gritty genre films such as the Taken franchise for instance. This movie features veteran actor and martial artist Mark Dacascos who still has a lot of style, skills and charisma. The film takes place over the course of one single night that sees the mysterious protagonist assassinating different targets throughout the city. A guilt-ridden cab driver unknowingly assists the quiet hitman as she brings him to different locations such as police stations, hospitals and dance clubs.

    There are quite a few positive things to mention about this movie. Marc Dacascos still has the skills to be an intriguing lead actor and he indeed incarnates the shady lead character authentically. The beginning of the movie builds up some tension and leaves several questions unanswered. The diversified locations in Bangkok are quite intriguing. The sound effects are solid and the soundtrack provides atmospheric vibes that enhance the cinematic experience. The solid action scenes are gritty and become more intense as the movie progresses. The film has overall good pace and manages to entertain throughout a reasonable running time.

    However, the film isn't without its flaws. The background story of the protagonist is explained too quickly and takes away the tension built up throughout the opening thirty minutes. The plot itself is unimaginative, predictable and too heavily inspired by the movies mentioned in the introduction. The supporting characters are at times wooden which is also due to lifeless dialogues and strange plot elements that will make you scratch your head.

    The worst element are however the presence of several mistakes in the movie. For instance, the protagonist offers the cab driver one thousand dollars and an additional five thousand dollars in cash for driving him from one location to another. However, a few scenes later, the protagonist suddenly reveals that he has only four thousand dollars left. Another example is the fact that the investigating police officers suddenly refer to the female lead character by using the actual name of the actress which is quite confusing.

    Other strange plot elements include a police officer who shoots a hostage multiple times for no apparent reason, another police officer's wife who mysteriously sympathizes with a mass murderer whom she has never even met and the protagonist who got shot multiple times and still stands up again every single time to fight off multiple enemies.

    The pretentious scenes shot with a shaky, unfocused and unbalanced camera near a beach that start and conclude the film and are shown as occasional flashbacks throughout the movie are completely unnecessary and redundant as well.

    The best way to enjoy One Night in Bangkok is to switch your brain off and enjoy the movie's action scenes, gloomy atmosphere and diversified settings. While the sound editors and lead actor have done a great job, the director and especially the scriptwriter could have invested some more time into their work. In the end, One night in Bangkok is an overall solid movie but it could have been a notch or two better with some better efforts by those in charge of creating this film.

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  • Guns Akimbo (2019)

    Guns Akimbo is an over-the-top action satire in the key of the Crank franchise. It tells the story of a geek named Miles who gets intimidated by his boss, recently split up with his girlfriend and spends his time insulting people on the internet and getting drunk. One day, he discovers the website of an underground fight club called Skizm and insults its members and viewers. The leaders of the fight club kidnap Miles and bolt two guns with fifty shots each into his hands. Miles is told that he needs to kill a crazy, experienced and reckless competitor named Nix in the next twenty-four hours who turns out to be the daughter of a police officer who became as violent as she is after witnessing her mother's and her brother's murder. At first, Miles starts to run away from a potential fight by meeting with police officers, a homeless junkie and his ex-girlfriend. When the latter gets kidnapped by Skizm, things get even more personal. Miles now wants to save his ex-girlfriend and take his revenge on the mastermind behind the underground fight club.

    This movie convinces on quite a few levels. The cinematography is great with sinister locations, excellent light techniques and dynamic camera work that doesn't make you feel dizzy like numerous other genre flicks. The diversified soundtrack blends in perfectly and mostly consists of cover songs of popular rock and pop songs from the eighties and nineties. The numerous allusions to different video games are hilarious if you understand the references. The action scenes are at times breathtaking and particularly brutal. The characters are fairly interesting as well, especially the two ladies being the protagonist's ex-girlfriend with her colourful hair and the reckless competitor with a bleak past. The movie entertains from start to finish with a decent running time of just above one hour and a half. The film has the potential to become a cult midnight movie in the future.

    However, the film isn't without its flaws. Some humorous scenes are too repetitive, especially as we observe the protagonist trying to get dressed with guns bolted to his hands on numerous occasions. The story is rather superficial and the continuity is at times missing when the protagonist travels to completely different spots within the same big city even though he only has a few minutes left to fight his opponent. The characters could have been a little bit more fleshed out as only Nix has some depth. The story of the protagonist and his ex-girlfriend only scratches the surface and there isn't much information about the origins of the underground fight club either.

    Despite its goofy flaws, Guns Akimbo is a violent fun ride with quite a few memorable scenes. If you like brutal, fast-paced and over-the-top action films, you should certainly give it a try. The film is best enjoyed with a few drinks and a couple of friends.

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  • Flesh+Blood (1985)

    Historical action thriller Flesh+Blood by renowned director Paul Verhoeven and acting legend Rutger Hauer was indexed for decades in Germany for its portrayal of violent fights and gang rape scenes. Germans rather prefer slow-paced thrillers in depressive settings. The movie got finally released six years ago and is now available in its original and intended form.

    Flesh+Blood takes place in 1501 and follows charismatic mercenary Martin, played by a very cool Rutger Hauer. His ruthless gang gets betrayed by a nobleman who hired them to conquer a walled city. The gang gets its revenge by kidnapping the fiancee of the nobleman's intellectual son and takes refuge in a castle. The intellectual young man uses his inventions and hires his father's former commander to confront the gang of mercenaries and prostitutes.

    Flesh+Blood is unlike most movies portraying the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There are no heroes to be seen in this movie. Everything looks decayed, dirty and muddy. The characters are superstitious, opportunistic and mean. An innocent nun gets critically injured and is then forced to work as a farmer. A young fiancee gets raped by a gang of thugs and falls for the leader. We meet a dying child suffering from the plague whose entire family gets murdered. We see a young girl who was raped by bandits at the age of twelve and got her tongue cut out. A sick dog gets shot and cut into pieces to be used to poison people. If you are looking for charming princes and innocent princesses, you've got it all wrong. There isn't anything romantic about this movie.

    The story might be simplistic but the movie remains intense despite a long running time thanks to its shockingly realistic portrayal of the past, a selection of nasty characters and a mixture of violent action scenes and pornographic elements. Flesh and Blood is actually a euphemism for sex and violence. This type of movie certainly isn't for everyone and shouldn't be watched by children or even teenagers. A movie like this couldn't be made anymore nowadays due to its portrayal of sexual abuse. However, the movie is very unique, very realistic and very entertaining. Flesh+Blood has stood the test of time as its intended impact is as intense nowadays as it was three and a half decades ago upon its release. It remains one of both Rutger Hauer's and Paul Verhoeven's greatest movies and also features a memorable performance by a very young and very nude Jennifer Jason Leigh.

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  • Double Team (1997)

    Double Team is a movie that has as many flaws as strengths.

    To start on a positive note, this explosive action movie is entertaining, fast-paced and relentless from start to finish. The chases, fights and special effects are executed with care by experienced director Tsui Hark. The characters are equally colourful and especially an expressive Dennis Rodman is quite controversial and will either be adored or hated by viewers. The locations are also flamboyant and lead us from France over Belgium to Italy and from secret islands to famous sights. The movie includes numerous nods to popular series and films, for example the hidden island which was clearly inspired by television series The Prisoner.

    The movie though also has numerous flaws. The story is very flat and one sometimes wonders why the numerous characters are fighting one another at all. Despite some big names on screen, the acting performances lack depth, precision and talent as Mickey Rourke fails to play a captivating villain and lead actor Jean-Claude van Damme doesn't seem to have any emotional facial expressions. The movie also has so many goofs that it's almost ridiculous. There are especially numerous continuity errors. Dennis Rodman's hair style seems to change in every single scene.

    In the end, Double Team is a dynamic, entertaining and unpretentious action movie that looks still decent more than two decades after its release. Its acting performances, numerous goofs and shallow plot prevent it from being recommendable to anyone but genre fans looking for a wild but brainless ride.

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  • Crawl (2019)

    Alexandre Aja's Crawl certainly is no spectacular movie but it's entertaining and gets to the point.

    At the very beginning, I wasn't too sure about that. The viewers get introduced to a young competitive swimmer who has a slightly strained relationship with her sister. She also has taken some distance from her father after her parents' divorce. We are also introduced to a police officer who seems to know her sister and her rather well. None of these plot elements are significantly going to be picked up again and only serve to quickly introduce the charactets and the plot in less than ten minutes.

    What follows is a fight for survival as the competitive swimmer tries to save her father from the basement of their family home as a hurricane intensifies and alligators roam the area.

    The special effects are surprisingly solid, the pace keeps going until the very last minute and the action scenes are rather realistic. Classifying this movie as a horror film would be inappropriate since there are only very few scary scenes. This is a fast-paced survival action flick.

    The movie also made me think about the Sunshine State and why anyone would live there. Florida is regularly hit by natural catastrophes, dangerous animals roam the state, there are numerous serial killer cases, there are thousands of noisy tourists around all year long and the state voted for Donald Trump during the last Presidential election.

    To keep it short, Crawl is an entertaining survival action film that grips you while it lasts but ultimately fails to leave a deeper impression. It's a good movie to watch at the cinema on a lazy night.

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