Archive for Action

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Directed by: Wai-keung Lau

Written by: Gordon Chan

Produced by: Gordon Chan, Wai-keung Lau

Starring:  Donnie Yen, Chen Zhen, Qi Shu, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Yasuaki Kurata

Language:  Cantonese with English subtitles

Run Time: 105 minutes

 

In what seems to be extremely common in action movies coming out of China, Donnie Yen returns to fight off the….. wait for it….. the evil Japanese in the loosely based historical action movie Legend of the Fist:  The Return of Chen Zhen.  The Return of Chen Zhen takes place in the period after World War 1 when the British and Japanese are exerting their influence over the Chinese mainland.  Supposedly dead, Chen Zhen returns to Shanghai, under an alias of a fallen soldier he had served with during the war to help protect his country from the evil foreign forces.  The plot sounds bland because, well, there’s nothing original about it.  All of the Blockbusters to come out of Communist China need to be approved by the government and are just a rehashed version of the same propaganda over and over again.

 

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie is the glamorous set design of the Jazz/Swing club that the most of the movie takes a place in but there’re other good things as well.  The acting is done well, the way the characters look and of course the intense action scenes that Yen is famous for.  The viewer can even get into Yens horrific fake moustache and laugh about how no one can pull off the leather super hero outfit that he wears(after finding it prominently displayed in a store window).

 

The plot of Legend of the Fist would have so much more potential if it just had a new villain and offered some original aspects in the story itself.  It seems as though directors have a virtual checklist of events that have to happen in every new kung fu movie.  Evil Japanese characters?  Check.  Innocent masses?  Check.  Evil Characters shut down local newspaper or kill off intellectuals?  Check.  This plot would be forgivable if it had been told maybe once or twice but not the multitude of times that it’s been done in the last year or two.  Some movies with similar plots are Yip Man, Yip Man 2(both of these star Yen and are simply amazing), Bodyguards and Assassins, Fearless and Shaolin.

 

The story is good, the action scenes are everything we’ve come to expect from Donnie Yen but the main problem is the lack of an innovative story.  We all like a superhero but it’s the villain that makes the hero important and China needs another villain besides the Japanese or the British.  Legend of the Fist is a good kung fu/action movie for people who aren’t kung fu fans or aren’t familiar with the age old story of the oppressive Japanese and British.  Yes Japan and Europe did horrible things to the Chinese but that’s no excuse to make virtually every martial arts movie about that.  It’s gotten to the point where fans of the genera can’t do one of the things we like doing which is having a kung fu movie marathon with the newer blockbuster movies that have come out of china.  Honestly if you want a kung fu movie that does most of these things better you’d be better off watching Yip Man on Netflix.  Legend of the Fist is absolutely worth the watch if you’re a Donnie Yen fan or just want to have a random night out with friends watching action movies but if you’re an avid fan of kung fu movies Legend of the Fist is just more of the same with some pretty bells and whistles.

 

(5/10)

Outrage

Directed by: Takeshi Kitano(Beat Takeshi)

Written by: Takeshi Kitano

Produced by: Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida

Starring:  Takeshi Kitano, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura,  Tetta Sugimoto, Takashi Tsukamoto

Language:  Japanese with English subtitles

Run Time: 109 minutes

 

Finally Beat Takeshi has returned, much to the excitement of his fans, to the dark and shadowy world of the Yakuza in his latest film Outrage.  This isn’t your typical Yakuza film where the characters are disciplined, classy and somewhat respectable; instead, Outrage is a louder movie where the characters lack all subtlety, are cold and embrace their inner asshole (the way Takeshi says asshole is one of his trademarks).  Outrage experiments with a different sort of style where there isn’t a single protagonist but a group of villains selfishly misleading each other in order take control of the wealth that organized crime has offer.

 

Outrage does a lot of things well, such as the photography or some of the creativity in the way the characters are killed, but does some things extremely badly.  For instance, there doesn’t seem to be a coherent plot due to the fact that there is no main character.   At some points it seems like more of a soap opera geared towards men where one sneaky man pulls the strings of other characters much in the same way a cunning woman character would; using a manly version of that he said she said type of manipulation.

 

Now that the main problem with the movie is covered we can get into all of the good parts like the violence.  Everybody knows that gangsters are supposed to be extremely ruthless and the characters reflect that as they act more like psychopaths without remorse than productive members of society.  The lack of human decency leads to some very innovative ways for the characters to maim and kill each other.  Some of the action is cold, some of it makes you cringe, and some of it leaves appreciating the ability of Takeshi to do hurt people in creative ways.

 

The acting is superb and there’re a lot of familiar faces in the cast.  Jun Kunimura has appeared in close to 100 films and TV shows including Kill Bill vol 1, Ichi the Killer and Audition.  Musase is played by Renji Ishibashi who also had a role in Audition, Dead or Alive and over 200 other roles.  When listing actors in the film, you can’t forget to mention Beat Takeshi who’s stared and directed in many of his own films and television shows.  In fact all of the actors have quite a long resume which isn’t surprising since all of the characters are fun to watch, especially some of their facial expressions.

 

Outrage is a hit or miss film, it’s a hit if you like Japanese gangsters and gratuitous violence but a miss if you want a movie with a deep plot and likeable characters.  Sometimes it’s best to sit back and enjoy the show and that’s exactly what Outrage is good for.  It’s violent, silly, has big stars and there’s no excuse for Takeshi fans to miss it.

 

(6/10)

13 Assassins

 

13 Assassins

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Written by: Kaneo Ikegami (based on a screenplay by), Daisuke Tengan (screenplay)

Produced by: Minami Ichikawa, Tôichirô Shiraishi, Michihiko Yanagisawa

Starring: Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yûsuke Iseya, Gorô Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, Mikijiro Hira

Language:  Japanese with English subtitles

Run Time: 141 minutes

 

Director Takashi Miike (Audition, One Missed Call) explains, “Sword-fighting scenes are about LOVE. Without brotherly love, we could not shoot such violent sword-fighting scenes.”  If violence represents love than 13 Assassins is one of the most romantic and loving films made in the last few years; a chick flick if you will, filled with not only blood but with strong male characters, intelligent dialog and ruthless antagonist.   Well, maybe 13 Assassins isn’t really a movie about romance and lacks all of those warm, friendly moments that make up most modern day action movies but is that really a bad thing?   Picture this: a handsome rebel who does some sort of dangerous work meets a beautiful woman in need.  Sound familiar?  That’s the plot to almost every action movie that’s been released in the last few years and it’s exactly the opposite of what we see in 13 Assassins.

 

13 Assassins chronicles a suicide mission where a small group of samurai plot to kill a corrupt, brutal member of Japans ruling class who is in line to become the next Shogun.  While the basic idea sounds simple, it’s the execution that makes the movie shine.  The main characters, good and evil, have deep philosophical ideals behind their actions which are rooted deeply with what it means to be a samurai.  13 Assassins showcases a mix of drama, subtle conflict, and of course, extreme violence much in the same ways that have characterized Miike’s previous films.

 

Almost everything about the film’s production is done well aside from a few aspects with bad cgi effects and a few over the top visuals.    The sets are beautiful and authentic with a great deal of attention to detail.  The music enhances and meshes with the story as do most of the sound effects.  While most of the cinematic details are brilliant there are still some flaws, such as extreme close ups during battle scenes which throw the viewer off a bit(since that usually means the actors can’t really do the more intense action scenes) but all of that can be forgiven when the sheer volume of work that went into the choreography.

 

13 Assassins fills the void left behind by the swarms of those cookie cutter action movies that are produced by untalented Hollywood writers.  America needs is a different kind of action movie, one that’s raw, dark, where the characters aren’t handsome charming womanizers but actually have depth and believe in something.  In the end 13 Assassins is a brilliant action film but be warned, the action scenes are extremely long so if you’re not into action than it may be best to skip this film.  This movie is a must for fans of Miike’s work, fans of samurai movies and people who are tired of watching common stylized action films.  13 Assassins is indeed an action movie made with love; the love of the actors, directors, producers and everyone else involved in the production of the movie.  13 Assassins will be part of the San Francisco International Film Festival so be sure to take the chance to see it on a big screen.

 

(7.5/10)

Kung Fu Chefs

Directed by: Wing Kin Yip

Written by: Cyrus Cheng, Eddie Chu, Simon Liu, Po Wang, Joey Yuen

Produced by: Jeremy Cheung

Starring: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Vanness Wu, Cherrie Ying

Run Time: 93 minutes

Who would have thought that the best chefs in the world would know how to fight in addition to cooking luxurious dishes?  It’s true, well maybe not in the real world, where our cooking competitions are interesting but lack the real excitement that only a street fight could bring.  Kung Fu Chefs mixes two of my favorite things, good food and a hefty dose of kung fu action.  While Kung Fu Chefs isn’t the best kung fu movie out there, it is an entertaining watch for all of those people who enjoy cheesy low budget action/comedy movies.

Starring the legendary Sammo Hung as the disgraced master chef Wong Bing-Yi, who has an almost super natural ability to cook as well as fight, and Vanness Wu as Lung Kin-Yat, a recent graduate of kung fu cooking school, Kung Fu Chefs has an awesome cast.  One problem with most action movies is that the main character, the guy who’s supposed to represent the common man, is always some muscular, ruggedly handsome action star but the heavy set Sammo Hung actually looks like he could be a real chef which makes the action scenes extremely entertaining.  Think about it, who wouldn’t want to see an episode of Iron Chef where Mario Batali smacks some punk upside his head when he gets out of line?  Hung may not be a real life Batali but in the film, he could be one of his long lost relatives.

The basic plot itself is simple, after being kicked out of the Village, a prestigious restaurant and school, and having the Dragon Head Cleaver, a legendary weapon/chef knife, stripped from him, Wong Bing-Yi travels, sample and judges restaurant cuisines. During his travels Wong gives an unfavorable review of his meal at the Four Seas Restaurant, the head chef challenges Wong to a chefs dual (see it sounds silly already) stating that he would leave his family business if he lost.  We all know what happens, Wong wins and now that the restaurant was left without a cook, Wong steps in to help the struggling establishment.  It doesn’t take long for Wong’s arch enemy, his nephew, to discover that he’s begun cooking again which starts a war between their two restaurants.

Kung Fu Chefs was shot on a low budget so of course it isn’t one of those artistic kung fu movies, like Crouching Tiger, which have taken over the genera over the last few years. Kung Fu Chefs is more of a comedy which takes you back to the days of those late night martial arts movies that used to play on television years ago.  Even though the action is cheesy, the cooking can’t possibly be right and the whole story is a little off, you can’t help but love the old school feel of the movie.  If you’re like me and love the nostalgia of those old low budget action movies, be sure to check Kung Fu Chefs out.  This movie will be part of the Mill Valley Film Fest so you’ll also have the chance to watch it on a big screen.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Expendables

The Expendables

Directed by:  Sylvester Stallone

Written by:  Dave Callaham, Sylvester Stallone

Produced by:  Kevin King , Avi Lerner. Kevin King Templeton. John Thompson

Starring:  Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin. Mickey Rourke

Run Time:  103 Min

Sylvester Stallone knows what men want in a movie; men want brutal action, manly jokes and none of that emotional nonsense that tries to trick them into wear skinny pants with tight turtle neck sweaters.  Stallone said it best “‘I’ve done my ‘mind movies’ and I don’t think people are very interested in seeing me do that anymore. I think I’m past my prime in doing dramatic films; it would feel almost like a pathetic cry out to be recognized as a serious dramaturge.’ Now that’s what I want to hear from a guy who started off making the some of the most legendary action films and is content to stick where his roots lie.  He proved it in Rambo 4 and proved it once again in The Expendables.

The plot of the movie, a team of mercenaries is hired to take on a corrupt South American General, isn’t anything new or innovative.  What makes this movie special is it has almost all of the great action stars that people have grown to know and love throughout the years doing what they do best, kicking some ass.  No one who likes action films wants a long drawn out plot or an in depth look into the geopolitics of a corrupt country; just show the basic story then get to the action.  This kind of movie doesn’t depend on a plot that makes sense: it depends on things blowing up, one liners and the big name tough guys.

Needless to say The Expendables is full of explosions, fire fights and fists impacting people’s faces.  The action scenes are nearly perfect and are choreographed better than most mainstream movies that have tried to pass themselves off as action in the last few years.  The only problem I had was that Jet Li didn’t showcase his talents as much as I would have liked but honestly, most of his movies that have been made in America can’t compare to his older ones which were made in China.

If I had one word to describe The Expendables it would be “Brotastic.”  I’m certain that a lot of men who watch this movie will want to go to the gym or do some pushups.  This of course isn’t an artsy girly movie and unless you’re a woman who actually likes 80’s action movies don’t bother coming(there’s nothing worse than hearing “I don’t like this” or “We should have seen that Richard Gere movie” while you’re having a good time).  Every guy should go see The Expendables, sneak some booze into the theater and have an amazing time watching a movie that’s actually meant for a male audience.  Movies like this don’t make it to the big screen often and it’s our job as men to support action movies like this.

(4.5/5)

Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Written by: Michael C. Martin

Produced by: Elie Cohn, Basil Iwanyk, John Langley, Avi Lerner, John Thompson

Starring: Richard Gere. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

Run Time: 132 Min

The best way to accurately describe Brooklyn’s Finest is every bad cop movie rolled into one film, with all of the personality, intrigue, comedy and likable characters sucked out of it. Brooklyn’s Finest offers nothing but stereotypical characters, bad dialog and a story that’s so predictable that the ending wouldn’t catch a 5 year old off guard. Now some people would describe this story as a tragedy but in all of those memorable stories and plays there’re actually characters that the viewers like. When you make a movie it’s important to remember that in every story you need to have a protagonist that the audience can identify with but that basic fact was forgotten by the writer Michael C. Martin. You’d think that since this really is a story about 3 police officers, that at least one aspect of the story characters would be interesting but Brooklyn’s Finest strikes out each time.

The story starts out with Sal, the bad cop, talking to a man who explains the “righter and wronger” reasons why people do the bad things (which may be the plot of the whole movie). The writer of this movie would like you to believe that Sal is a good guy who’s in a bad position in order to justify his actions but that doesn’t really stick. The problem with Sal is that he’s just a dumbed down version of an interesting character. His whole story revolves around his poor family that lives in a house with wood mold in the walls which endangers their health. Sal already has 2 children and has twins on the way because he isn’t smart enough to use birth control when he already can’t support the kids he has. Since a police officer can’t make money by taking side jobs or working overtime; the only solution to Sal’s problems is for him to rob drug dealers and to buy a new house with the fruits of his labor.

Things to look for in Sal’s story:

His confessional, he talks to a priest about how he needs help from god.

The lamest poker game scene in a movie ever made.

Next we’re introduced to Tango, the undercover cop who’s in way over his head. Tango is the closest we have to a likeable character but he still falls short in that department. After a short stay in prison, where he gains street cred, Tango’s back on the street tasked with infiltrating the cities inner city gangs posing as a drug trafficker. The stress of working undercover starts to effect his view of the world and his job to the point where he’s worried he’ll become a criminal himself. His boss gives him a deal where he can get off the street but he has to get evidence about a man who saved his life while he was in prison, leaving him struggling between loyalty and his desire to leave the undercover life behind.

Things to look for in Tango’s Story:

He’s in too deep maaaannnnnn.

The shady FBI woman.

His friend dies as a result of their drug dealing.

His supervisor gives him a “This is what you wanted” speech.

As if two lackluster characters weren’t enough, enter Eddie, the 22 year police veteran who’s about to retire in 7 days. Eddie is quite possibly the most useless and uninteresting cop character ever created. His own boss tells him that he’s basically a failure and Eddie only proves that to the viewer throughout the whole movie. In his first scene, Eddie wakes up and puts his revolver in his mouth but the gun doesn’t go off as he slowly pulls the trigger back(later we learn that he doesn’t keep his gun loaded). How lame is that? Why would anyone care about a boring, unmotivated depressed police officer who isn’t even man enough to shoot himself? It’s pathetic. You might be thinking to yourself that since he’s suicidal, he’s going to end up proving himself in some blaze of glory that will make up for having to watch him for 2 hours but, even in his shining moment at the climax of the movie he proves himself to be quite frankly, worthless and unexciting. Maybe the audience is supposed to be moved by his staring into space and walking away from conflict. Eddie is one character whose role would be better left in a garbage can next to the writer’s desk.

Things to look for in Eddie’s story:

The stupid look on his face which makes him look like he’s constantly in deep thought but we all know he’s completely useless.

He’s assigned to teach a rookie cop the basics of the job but the rookie course messes something important up like all rookies do.

His only love is from a hooker who doesn’t even want him.

He can’t even kill himself.

The presentation of this whole movie is horrifically bad. Throughout the entire movie there’s always some dramatic music playing which is meant to emphasize the internal conflict that the characters are supposed to have. If you can get past the music, you’ll have to deal with the story itself which is full of holes and defies logic. Even if by some strange miracle you can stand the story, the characters come to your aid and quickly ruin anything that’s likeable left in the movie. Just for a bit of overkill, if you try look past all of the flaws with the music, the main characters and the bad story the writer has an ace up his sleeve: all the supporting actors who are all rip offs of characters in better movies.

Brooklyn’s Finest is the worst cop movie I’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing original or interesting about the characters and while the writers should be sued for plagiarizing every aspect of the story from better movies, they even manage to ruin the stereotypes we’ve grown to love over the years. Even the ending to the movie was disappointing. Why this movie is getting a 7.4 rating with 3353 votes on IMDB mystifies me. We all know how the movie ends, all the characters end up in the same place at the same time. If you want to watch a cop movie you’d be safer going on Netflix and renting Lethal Weapon, where the suicidal cop does something exciting, or Dirty Harry instead of a two hour long bore fest like Brooklyn’s Finest.

(1/5)

Alice in Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Linda Wolverhampton(screenplay), Lewis Carroll

Produced by: Tim Burton, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Joe Roth, Richard D. Zanuck

Starring: Mia Malinowski, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonhomie Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crisping Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry

Run Time: 108 min

Most of us remember the old Disney version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland from the simpler time when we were much younger and for most people it would difficult to picture the story in any other way then that early animated version. When I saw the ads for the new version, directed by Tim Burton, I was openly bothered with the bill board sized pictures of Johnny Depp as the mad hatter and the overly large balloon head of the red queen which to me at least, was as annoying as a festering mosquito bite that I couldn’t scratch. Honestly, I didn’t want to see this movie from the moment I saw the first advertisement.

For those people who’ve lived under a rock for the last 100 years and don’t know the basic story; Alice in Wonderland follows a young English girl through a psychedelic underworld after she falls down a magical rabbit hole. The underworld is full of strange and curious creatures, like the Cheshire Cat, waging a war between the good white queen and the evil red queen who currently rules over wonderland with an iron fist. The story itself is simple enough but what makes it unique is that the characters and world in which it takes place are a mixture of a fairy tale crossed with a hefty dose of hallucinogens.

This movie is everything you’d expect if you mixed the Alice in Wonderland with the direction style of Tim Burton. The imagery is extremely dark and twisted like in all of Burton’s movies but he still managed to keep the innocent Disney feeling that the Alice character should personify to the audience. Burton is quite possibly the only modern director who could attempt to make Alice in Wonderland and make it work.

Alice in Wonderland features an all star cast who are, quite frankly, amazing at what they do. Mia Wasikowska, who isn’t well known compared to the rest of the cast, delivered a stunning lead performance as the innocent and pure Alice. Johnny Depp, who has always excelled at playing eccentric characters, was the perfect fit as the Mad Hatter and one can’t forget Helena Carter as the Red Queen.

One big problem with the movie is that character and set design relied heavily on the inconsistent quality of the computer animation. Sometimes the animation was done extremely well and other times I couldn’t ignore the way the characters looked which left me debating their artistic merit rather than suspending my disbelief and enjoying the story. On the other hand, I was surprised that I was able to enjoy the hated Red Queen, giant head and all, even though my first impression of her from the advertising had made her the bane of my small world.

Does Alice in Wonderland live up to the legacy of the earlier animated movie? No. The first Alice in Wonderland was a movie that could be watched by anyone, especially children, but this version left me struggling with the question of whether a younger audience or even someone who wasn’t a fan of the story could enjoy it. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland seems as if it was made for those hardcore fans who have grown up and want a darker version of the original movie.

After seeing the movie it became incredibly apparent to me that Disney was relying on the name, since most of us grew up with this story, and the stars to sell the tickets instead the movie itself. In the end, I’m still trying to figure out if I liked the movie and I’m sure most people who see the movie will ask themselves same thing as well. There aren’t any memorable moments that stick out in one’s mind upon retrospect nor are there memorable characters, since we already knew them from older versions of the movie. Alice in Wonderland isn’t a movie you’ll like or dislike; this is just a movie that is there.

(3.5/5)

Twin Sitters

Twin Sitters

Directed by: John Paragon

Written by: John Paragon

Produced by: Yoram Pelman

Starring: Peter Paul, David Paul, Christian Cousins, Joseph Cousins, Rena Sofer

Run Time: 93 min

Some films, much like cheap beer, lose their luster over the years and become completely stale and bitter but on rare occasions some things get better with age. Fine wines for example can be aged for up to 50 years before their seal is cracked for only the wealthiest of people to enjoy. Twin Sitters, much like its expensive wine counterparts, has done nothing but ripen and age over the years leaving us with an artistic masterpiece. The Barbarian Brothers bring us a moving tale of environmental justice, family and love that we can all afford in Twin Sitters.

David and Peter Falcone, played by Peter Paul and David Paul, are two regular muscle bound guys with dreams of opening their own restaurant. Their dreams are harshly squashed by a lowly banker who refuses to give them a small business loan leaving them depressed while they pass their days at a local playground feeding the growing homeless population of Los Angeles’ as they struggle to make a future for themselves. Luckily it doesn’t take too long before their good deeds are recognized and the two brothers are hired to protect the children of a powerful EPA whistleblower after they heroically save him from a murderous gang of thugs.

Alright, so maybe this isn’t the best movie ever made but what exactly do you expect from a kids movie from the 80’s? Needless to say, the acting isn’t very good, the story is extremely simple and the writing is horrible but that’s all for the best. Twin Sitters comes from a time where kids movies were fun to watch and you didn’t have to worry about what’s politically correct. You can’t go wrong with steroid jokes, monster trucks, torturing kids with pasta and some of the worst outfits in the history of film.

I look for a lot of things when I watch movies but the most important part of any movie is that I enjoy watching it. If a movie expresses some heartfelt story that touches the watcher or if the movie reveals some of the deeper truths that we’re all looking to explore it’s safe to say that the movie is good. I would have loved this movie when I was a kid and I love it now. Twin Sitters isn’t a movie with a heartfelt story or one seeking the truth to one’s own existence; it’s about having fun and that makes it a masterpiece in my eyes. Now I know there are always those naysayers who wouldn’t enjoy this movie but since this is my movie site those naysayers can go screw and watch a movie like When in Rome to fulfill their sissy desires.

(4.5/5)

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man (DVD)

Directed by: Keoni Waxman

Written by: Keoni Waxman

Produced by: Deboragh Gabler

Starring: Steven Seagal, Marlaina Mah, Vitaly Kravchenko, Terry Chen, Jesse Hutch

Run Time: 94 Min

Action, action and more action! That’s what I want when I watch a Steven Seagal movie. I don’t want any of that artistic stuff, a plot full of learning about the inner child of characters nor do I want a sappy love story. When it comes to cheesy action movies all I want to see is ass kicking, sexy women and a fast plot where I don’t have to think. A Dangerous Man is exactly what a Seagal movie should be.

The story starts off with Shane Daniels, Seagal, attacking a random mugger who attempted to rob his wife. Soon after the incident police find the mugger dead and Shane is interrogated about his past in the Special Forces. The evidence is damning and Shane is condemned to a life of prison. While he’s serving his sentence tragedy strikes as Shane’s young sexy wife leaves him to move on with her life. After 6 years of hard time, Shane’s luck changes and he’s released when neglected DNA evidence proves he wasn’t the killer. This scene is just long enough to get all of the information we need about the character for the movie.

Now that the first 7 minutes of the movie is over, including the credits, Shane is back on the streets and trying to make a life for himself. Being alone in the world is hard for a recently released convict, as one can imagine, and Shane finds himself dealing with his problems and loneliness at a local liquor store. As Shane leaves the liquor store with his cheap bottle of bourbon he’s confronted by two thugs looking for some easy money. Shane doesn’t take any of their guff and after some colorful words, gives them a lesson in the art of implanting his fist into their faces.

The story continues, we’re about 10 minutes into the movie now, we find Shane reminiscing about his former wife in an almost empty park (some car thieves stop there to use the bathroom). His wife really is way too sexy for him, which explains why he’s so lonely as he remembers has flashbacks of their love. Aside from being dangerous, Shane is also very emotional.

Alas, his time alone is too good to be true when a police officer pulls into the parking lot and begins to question some Asian Mafia gentleman for an unknown reason; maybe it was speeding, in the same park where Shane is trying to sort out his emotions. We all know what happens from there, the mafia members kill the police officer and attack the car thieves. As a peace loving man, Shane sees it as his duty to get involved and thoroughly explains why violence is wrong by giving the mafia members some tough love; like any good step dad would give his red haired son.

After a quick search of the mafia member’s cars, Shane finds a duffle bag full of drug money and another sexy girl in the trunk. Shane, being the humanitarian that he is, decides to help the woman get back up on her feet and save her family from the Asian Mafia while keeping the drug money for himself as kind of a payment for his services. And this is still in the first 20 minutes!!!!

A Dangerous Man is a far cry from the movies he’s released in the past few years. The film quality and production is better than some of his movies that actually made it into theaters in the past. The plot is fairly bad and doesn’t make very much sense for example; the Chinese military is trying to capture a man who did the accounting for their large drug organization and the most of plot revolves around saving him. There is some dubbing in the movie but it’s not nearly as bad as the sound was in one of Seagal’s recent movies called Kill Switch, where a majority of camera work was shot from behind Seagal to cover up the bad dubbing. For the most the action scenes were done well aside from some bad editing here and there.

This movie has everything, the Asian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, corrupt police, the Chinese military, strippers that can’t dance and of course lots of action. The movie doesn’t go into any real depth since that would get in the way of the action but honestly what do you expect from a Seagal movie? When you watch the movie you call the main character Steven Seagal instead of the characters real name, these kinds of movie aren’t about the characters or story as much as they’re about the star.

A Dangerous Man is made for a younger male audience and isn’t the kind of movie I’d recommend for women, since some are objectified in the movie. For those people who like Steven Seagal movies this movie is a solid mix of everything that we’d expect from him but for the people who like movies with a well laid out plot, realistic circumstances and a story that is believable the movie scores a meager 1.5 out of 5.

Rating for Steven Segal fans: (4/5)

Rating for everyone else: (1.5/5)

Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Universal Soldier:  Regeneration
Directed by: John Hyams

Written by: Victor Ostrovsky

Produced by: Craig Baumgarten, Moshe Diamant, Peter Hyams

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski

Run Time: 97 min

Jean-Claude Van Damme is back in the latest instilment of the Universal Soldier series and is…. well the same he always was except older. Who could resist a straight to dvd movie starring not only Van Damme but Dolph Lundgren and UFC’s Andrei Arlovski. This movie has all of those old great “actors” that I watched when I grew up and spent countless nights staying up all night eating bad fast food, drinking soda and watching bad movies.

The story takes place in modern day Russia where a separatist group has kidnapped the president’s son and daughter and is holding them for ransom at the famous nuclear reactor in Chernobyl. If that isn’t scary enough, the group has threatened to destroy what’s left of the reactor which would doom Russia to a nuclear holocaust. As a response the US military reactivates the secret Universal Soldier program in order to save Russia from the separatist group and nuclear disaster that would bring generations of mutated children with amazing math skills (well the mutants aren’t part of the movie but it should be).

Luc Deveraux, Van Damme, has been out of the Universal Soldier program for years and is in the process of being rehabilitated in order to be reintroduced back into society. Luc’s progress seemed to be going well even though he can’t remember what happened to him the day before, suffers from swollen knees and is confused most of the time. The army knows that Luc is the only man for the job, after their first plan fails, and his rehabilitation is stopped so he can save the world.

All famous heroes need an insurmountable super villain which is where the NGU, played by Andrei Arlovski comes in. The NGU is the newest super soldier created by a mad scientist who dreams of taking over the world. The NGU is emotionless which makes it an easy role to play; all the Arlovski has to do is fight and walk around and look tough, which he does well.

I expected the action to be slightly better than it was and the main draw of the movie was seeing my favorite B-movie stars in action. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention Lundgren’s role and that wasn’t by accident; his role was pathetic and it seemed as if it was there just to get his name on the credits. In the end this movie wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it wasn’t very good either but that’s why the movie is straight to DVD. This movie is best to watch when you’re in the mood to relive staying up all night and watching movies on TBS when you were young.

(2.5/5)