• The Expandables (2010)

     

    The Expandables is a action super movie that puts together some of the most famous genre actors of the last decades. The movie exactly delivers what fans might expect. That's why you should not expect profound dialogues, too many romantic moments or a truly original story line. This movie is about cool quotes, many explosive action scenes and a quite fast paced and simple story line. Anybody who doesn't accept this kind of nostalgic and relatively simple genre should just not watch it and stop bashing this movie as you clearly know what you will get.

    There are many cool one liners and funny hints, homages and references to classic vintage movies or characters of the genre. A good example is the scene when Sylverster Stallone meets Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as Bruce Willis in a church. When I went to the cinema, the whole crowd was laughing out loud during this scene and almost anybody understood the quite famous inside jokes in this movie. It was not the only funny moment in this fast paced movie and it was definitely better than many immature and though overambitious comedy flicks from Hollywood. I was even positively surprised by the many amusing moments that created a solid balance to the brutal action scenes without making the whole thing childish or ridiculous. The movie just managed to be humorous and cool at the same time.

    The acting is of course not very deep or challenging but the characters fit very well to the different actors and you really feel that some of them go as far as to personalize their roles. Especially Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham shine in this movie and even have some sort of depth. The minor roles involving actors like Mickey Rourke or Bruce Willis are more superficial but fit very well and are clearly orientated on similar characters they have played before. These roles are made to appear as cool, experienced and male as possible and that's what you get.

    The fighting and action scenes are varied enough to keep you addicted to this movie until the end. While Jet Li or Jason Statham really show that they are quite flexible and know their martial arts skills, Randy Couture or Dolph Lundgren represent a less aesthetic and more brutal and pitiless fighting style involving different explosives and guns. From time to time, there are even some experimental and original sequences where the characters don't only use their male force but also their brains to find a way out of a difficult situation. Some scenes are on the other side completely overloaded, especially towards the end as every few seconds, one switches from one character to the other and observes a pitiless massacre. Of course, this is neither profound, nor original but in contrast with the humorous parts, the whole thing turns out to work surprisingly well.

    Concerning the story line, it's probably useless to say that the whole movie is pure fiction and quite predictable from the beginning to the end by dealing with the usual stereotypes. Of course, the leader of the wolf pack falls in love with a local beauty. It's quite clear that a traitor appears quite soon in the rows of the heroes that confronts his old friends. It's not surprising that there is some sort of a conspiracy and manipulation story around the main villain. You may quickly realize that the main villain is probably not as bad as it seems and has to face the demons of his past as one of his most important family members tries to fight him. The ending of the story is probably what you've expected from the beginning on. This is clearly the weakest part of the movie but the solid acting, the great actions scenes and especially the cool and humorous moments pardon for these obvious flaws.

    In the end, this movie is recommended to all those that are into the action genre and like at least a couple or even all of the involved main actors. The humorous scenes could please to a larger public, though, for example when the guys bring their girlfriends to the cinema that only expect one hour and a half of raw male brutality. Apart of this humorous factor, you really get what you should expect. Take it if you like the actors and their kind of movies or just leave it and don't watch it because this movie won't make you fall in love with the genre. It's a truly entertaining flick but clearly far from being a modern milestone as it copies way too much the elements we already know but on the other side it's this rude simplicity that gives the film a rather classic, honest and sympathetic image.

     

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  • Crying Freeman (1995)

     

    Many critics didn't appreciate this movie. They mentioned the thin plot. They said that the movie contained too many stereotypes. They complained about thin dialogues throughout the movie. They criticized the editing of the action scenes. They said the movie was too slow paced.

    All these critics are partially right. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed this movie. For a debut movie, Christophe Gans did the best he can with a very low budget.

    Even though a lot of scenes were turned in Canada or in the studios, the movie still has an exotic touch as it is set in Seattle in the United States of America first, later in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada and towards the end even in mainland China as well as in different places in Japan.

    Apart of the settings, the corpse paintings are well done, the Asian costumes are well chosen and the fight scenes with or without arms have some kind of aestheticism at some points without being too pretentious.

    The rather unknown actors at that time with the charismatic Mark Dacascos and the solid Julie Condra also did a good effort. Even though the story is not always credible and somewhat predictable, the connection between the two main actors is definitely there. They have known each other on the set of this film and became a couple that actually married and got three children until today. That's why the soft love story is more than just professional acting as it seems and surprisingly authentic.

    The movie is in fact a real life adaption of a famous manga and anime series but in comparison to many similar adaptations, this kind of movie can also easily please to those that don't know the original. I usually dislike the whole manga phenomenon. I think it's overrated and has taken the place of many other and more intriguing cultural aspects of Japan. It's a little bit like sushi as there are so many better Japanese foods than this one. But I happened to adore this movie without caring for its origins. A fan of the original series may analyze this flick from a wholly different point of view.

    This movie is basically a solid action movie with a good dose of suspense, different exotic cultural elements flawed by a few stereotypes, some soft porn moments that never get too far but also some calm and quiet parts with emotional moments that give the characters some depth and development. The balance between fast paced passages and slow moods is well found in my opinion. Fans of intelligent suspense flicks may find this movie too simple. Action fans would like to see more martial arts aspects. But those who like more than just a couple of genres will surely adore this movie as a whole and recognize its diversity.

    The movie won't win a price for exquisite and philosophical dialogues but I prefer the quiet silent and mysterious character of a skilled killer that has fallen in love with his victim to one of those films with endless chatting and pretentiously cool proverbs at each three minutes. I prefer the rude shooting scenes and the rare but well done martial arts moments to car chases without an end, big set explosions or soulless computer effects. This movie is rather grounded and simple. It's easy to watch. But it's sympathetic and still varies to be intriguing enough to watch this flick more than just once.

    Anybody that likes a simple but honest action movie with a romantic side story and some exotic Asian elements in a reasonable running time, should try this film out. Anybody that is waiting for something explosive, innovating or profound should go for a bigger production.

    Normally I would just give this film seven points but it had a certain kind of magic that is hard to describe but that really addicted me. I already feel the need to watch this movie again. I would also like to show it to some of my mates which doesn't happen very often. This flick is a surprising little gem.

     

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  • Les Insoumis / Crossfire (2008)

     

    "Les Insoumis" is a surprisingly solid French action-thriller. It convinces with a twisted story line that ends in a rather classic and predictable ending but the beginning and the middle of the movie present a lot of tension filled events such as the desperate woman with the sick daughter that misses her husband, the young drug dealer that gets killed in strange circumstances, the racist legionnaire that shoots cats at night, the mysterious burglaries in a weapons cache or the suspicious past of the new police commander. All these events create an addicting puzzle the viewer has to put together before the final solution is presented.

    The movie also convinces with a very authentic social portrait of a desperate suburb in the south of France where authorities are not respected and even young kids insult police officers. The movie shows pitiless desperate young drug dealers, corrupt police officers, brutal thugs and pervert racists. Among these negative characters, there are also a couple of shining lights such as the police commander's friendly neighbour or some of his colleagues that try to do their job the best they can despite a lot of problems.

    The acting in this movie is definitely the best point. The rather unknown Richard Berry does an incredible job in the role of the cold, dutiful and straight police commander Vincent Drieu that has to fight his past demons to not repeat the mistakes he has once done. His acting is very authentic, filled with emotions and extremely addicting. I hope to see more movies of a similar kind with him in the future. The supporting actors also do an incredible job and portray very authentic and touching characters. I just want to cite the very charming but refreshingly down to earth character of Kathia that is portrayed by the very strong actress Aïssa Maïga that I particularly liked. She's quite the opposite of the main character and this contrast is why they fit so well together in this movie.

    Apart of these addicting characters and a very solid screenplay, the movie convinces with many well done action sequences, especially in the beginning and the ending of the movie. These scenes keep the pace high and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. These scenes are nothing new to the genre but once again filled with a lot of suspense and an excellent acting.

    In the end, I think that this movie should be more famous than it actually is. The acting is simply amazing, the story has some quite good ideas and the pace of action and suspense is always very fast. The only negative points are the too generic and predictable ending that doesn't fit to the rest of this original movie and the fact that this movie could have been a little bit longer. I would have liked to see an even stronger character development because the different characters were simply authentic. Once again, France has proved that they can do excellent action and suspense movies and not only the usual comedy and drama movies that get way more world wide attention.

     

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  • Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

     

    Hobo with a Shotgun is a great comeback for the charismatic actor Rutger Hauer that has played in many well known classics of modern cinema such as Blade Runner, Ladyhawke and The Hitcher. He plays the role of a merciless and yet very philosophic, melancholic and warm heartened homeless that gets in conflict with a whole corrupted city where violence and crime reign when he tries to save the life of a prostitute.

    This low budget b-movie has the potential to become a true cult movie. It has some philosophical and introspective parts and presents an exaggerated criticism of modern society. The acting is quite strong and credible even though the movie works a lot with extremes and stereotypical or exaggerated events which give the whole flick an almost "dystopian" or at least abstract and surreal touch.

    But the main focus of the movie lies on the vengeance story that leads to many harsh dialogues with memorable bad language quotes and a lot of bloody execution scenes. There is a lot of blood and gore in this movie and this is nothing for weak stomaches. Thanks to a lot of dark humour and a lot of exaggerating moments, the whole thing doesn't get too heavy to disturb most of the viewers but the main characters are credible and profound enough to connect the viewers to them. The movie finds just the right middle way here and is easy to digest without being too superficial and simplistic. Of course, the story is short, sweet and simple and we should not expect any twists, surprises or innovating moments but the potential cult factor is so elevated that we don't need those things to make this flick stay in our minds. The movie generally feels like an experimental hack and slash movie with a contemporary Asian style that can also be found in the latest works of Quentin Tarantino for example.

    If you like rude and bloody vengeance movies with some memorable scenes and quote, this movie here is your highlight of the year. If you are a fan of Rutger Hauer, you will witness his strongest performance in years and a great unexpected comeback. If you look for an entertaining short and sweet b-movie that is not too flat to be one movie amongst many others but not too commercial to lose its rude charm, you can't go wrong with this at all.

    You should only avoid this if you expect a well thought and twisted vengeance story. You may find better stuff in the contemporary Asian cinema with movies such as "Oldboy", "Mother" or "I saw the devil".

     

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  • Sanctum (2011)

     

    James Cameron's Sanctum always proves that the ex-Canadian and now Hollywood director was involved in the project. The movie focuses on beautiful and breathtaking landscapes, a lot of special and light effects and dramatic survival action. But it also contains the negative elements of his movies. The lack of originality, the complete assimilation to Hollywood standards, the extremely superficial characters and the lack of depth.

    Concerning the actors, this movie might easily be his worst. The first thirty minutes of this movie were painful. The high amount of superficial, childish and predictable characters may even be too much for the thirteen year old fast food cinema maniac which explains the low rating on this site. To anybody that knows something about the history of cinema, the dialogues of the first thirty minutes or so are pretty much the worst thing I have ever read or heard since the last Ed Wood movies and they still had a certain charm, bad actors and a lack of budget. In here, all the money seems to be put into special effects but no money at all in the actors. They all should get banned from the film industry.

    Why do I still give a couple of points to the movie? That's because after the thirty most horrible minutes in contemporary cinema, the story finally kicks off and delivers an entertaining survival drama. The acting gets slightly better and many dramatic events focus our interest on something else and accelerate the pace of the movie. It surely is no "Cliffhanger" but not that far away from it in the end. Technically taken, this flick is indeed very well executed in the end and kept me in front of the screen until the end. The ending of the movie is surprisingly not rubbish and stereotypical and rather short and sweet which was a positive surprise to me. Now, if they had done the same thing for the beginning, we would have had an excellent action drama with a running time around seventy-five minutes which would have risen the quality of this flick by far. As you can read, there is some potential in here as in many Cameron movies but the cheesy opening just already kills it for me.

    I really suggest you watching this flick in the cinemas or in a high quality definition for the great sounds and effects and it won't work as well with the normal standards. This movie is simply focused on the honestly said superficial appearances rather than on something intellectual, profound or original.

     

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