Category: Films

Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers [2002]

This film is really, really good. British production, and fairly low budget, but the results are astounding. The plot’s good, the acting’s good, the tension and pace is good, directing and cinematography is good. It’s a good film.

A squad of soldiers are dropped in the Scottish highlands for a routine excercise where they square off against a group of special forces soldiers. Once they make first contact they find the entire group of special forces mutilated, bar one; their leader, who is badly injured. They realise that they are up against an unknown enemy and the special forces leader refuses to talk about it, claiming secrecy is of utmost importance.

Half an hour later it’s dark and the moon comes out, together with their enemy, which turn out to be a pack of werewolves. The squad retreats as fast as they can but get picked off one at a time. The remaining soldiers, and their sergeant – meanwhile injured during a run in with one of the werewolves – together with the special forces leader run into a Zoologist, a woman who lives in the area. She has a jeep and she takes them to the nearest farm, isolated for miles around, but the only place where they can take care of their injured and make a stand.

What follows is a nightlong stand off with the werewolves, who keep throwing themselves up against the house, over and over again, killing soldier after soldier. Meanwhile, they’re trying to keep themselves sane, alive and they try to figure out what the hell is going on.

The movie is very good, although it got some bad reviews. Why it did is a mystery to me. And though there is a lot of violence in the film, it is still very Lovecraftian in feel.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle [2003]

Director: McG
Actor: Cameron DiazDrew BarrymoreLucy LiuCrispin GloverBernie MacDemi MooreRobert PatrickJustin TherouxMatt LeBlancLuke WilsonJohn CleeseBruce Willis

This is a movie that doesn’t bother you too much with plot. Seriously. I saw it with Eva and I was constantly asking her if she had any idea as to what the fuck they were up to, because I sure as shit didn’t know (nor cared too much.)

The acting is actually surprisingly good. Except for Drew Barrymore, who couldn’t act herself out of a paper bag. Ms Diaz was showing herself to be a very good comedienne, at a certain point going undercover as a feminist forensic’s detective and doing it with such incredible talent that I was startled. She’s more than just an aging ex-model-gone-slapstick-actress. Lucy Liu wasn’t really required to do a lot of real acting, but her absolutely stunning appearance makes me reconsider taking Salma’s title as most desirable Hollywood woman and giving it to this foxy chicklet.

Bernie Mac looks weird when he’s smiling all the time. I just kept wondering when he’d break out in some psychotic rant. :)

Crispin Glover is doing his thing. The thing he’s done in some for or another in all his films. Back to the Future, At Close Range…you name it. He does it well.

And then…Justin Theroux, as Seamus O’Grady. Absolutely my favourite of the film. Well, maybe after Crispin Glover. He’s already proven himself to be a good actor as Adam in Mullholland Dr. but here you see him as a psychotic Irish Mobster out to take revenge like Bobby deNiro in Cape Fear. Good shit.

Oh, and I almost forgot…Demi Moore. She’s beautiful in this film, and she’s a good, good actress. She’s proven it before, and she’s proving it now.

So yeah, plot; uber-thin. Acting; rather good. Overabundant use of wires in action plots.

But the most important part of this movie that added to my enjoyment, the director and cinematographer did an excellent, truly superb job in capturing the scenes, visually. It’s a beautiful movie.

Crying Freeman

Crying Freeman [1995]

Director: Christophe Gans
Actor: Mark DacascosByron Mann

Synopsis: In ancient China, a marauding general sent his army to attack several villages. The people saught sanctuary at a nearby temple where 108 monks fought the invading army. Thus was born the 108 Dragons, a criminal organization / protector of the Chinese people. The 108 Dragons have one main enforcer known as the Freeman who is marked with an elaborate dragon tattoo that covers most of his body.

In present day, the 108 Dragons are at war with the Japanese Yakuza. Mark Dacascos is Yo Hinomura, a japanese potter who was chosen to be the Freeman. He is their assasin… an effective killing machine who sheds tears when his targets are killed. When a woman, Emu O’Hara, witnesses the Freeman kill his target, she is marked for elimination by the 108 Dragons.

The Good: Mark Dacascos gets to shine in a role that was almost tailor made for him. He portrays the Freeman perfectly and gets to take part in wonderful fight scenes. The supporting cast is made up of smaller actors who each have a definite personality that shines. Julie Condra, who plays Emu O’Hara, has probably the best voice I have ever heard. As an aside, she and Mark Dacascos are married. The movie holds very true to the original manga and is a very nice contained story.

The Bad: This is more a personal thing, but the movie does not hold 100% true to the original manga. (Spoilers blacked out) In the manga, Yo does not break ties with the 108 Dragons. He still defeats the Yakuza but Emu is allowed to marry him and is marked with the Tiger (signifying her as the wife of the Dragon). Yo actually becomes the head of the 108 Dragons in the second manga book. I understand they did it because this was a self contained movie, but still…

The Ugly: This movie was never released in the United States (bastards!). At one time you could only find copies of foreign versions but there are Region 0 DVDs of the movie out there you can get.

Cradle 2 the Grave

Cradle 2 the Grave [2003]

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Actor: DMXJet LiMark Dacascos

The first thing I like about this film is that Jet Li doesn’t look very good. He looks normal. Not exceptionally fey, or stylised…he just looks like Jet Li. Like he’s actually the fourty years of age he is.

The second thing is that he didn’t have the lead role; that was reserved for DMX, and though he’s not much of an actor, I think he did very well. I think he could actually become a half-way decent actor in the near future.

The third thing I liked about this film is that it has Mark Dacascos in it. I think that every film should have Mark Dacascos in it, just like every film should have Bruce Campbell in it and have the score be done by Graemme Revel.

The fourth thing I liked about this film was Tom Arnold. His comments, among other things, made this film really funny to watch. For those who play Shadowrun, Tom Arnold plays a really cool Fixer.

The fifth thing I liked about this film, is that it was such a Shadowrun flick. We were all sitting there, in the cinema going; “Oh, Mark Dacascos just used up all his Karma Pool by climbing out of that burning helicopter, he’s so going to lose against Jet Li’s superior Combat Pool.”

So yeah, fun fun fun flick.

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded [2003]

Director: Andy WachowskiLarry Wachowski
Actor: Keanu ReevesCarrie-Anne MossLaurence FishburneHarold PerrineauHugo WeavingMonica BellucciJada Pinkett Smith

Christus, where to begin…
Well, I guess we’ll start about four years ago, when the Wachowski brothers, then only known for their near cult-classic Bound, made their big break-through blockbuster, by the name of The Matrix. Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock since that time knows about the Matrix, and has probably seen the Matrix as it quickly rose to become an all-time classic, ranking up there with the likes of Star Wars, The Good, the Bad and the UglyThe Godfather and Lawrence of Arabia.

In The Matrix, we meet a young man by the name of Thomas Anderson, who – as a nighttime hacker and electron cowboy – finds out the truth about society; everyone is enslaved in a virtual reality, tightly controlled by machines, robots that were once obedient to Man, but have long since turned the tides and enslaved their former masters to use them as overgrown powercells. Harvesting enormous amounts of energy from body heat, they kept Man alive by simulating normal life, set in 1999. Some people live freely, deep underground, where the machines can’t find them, in the last vestige of human resistance; the city called Zion.

Neo is freed from his slavery by a man called Morpheus, who believes that Neo is the chosen to lead humanity to salvation from the machines. He believes that Neo has extraordinairy powers, and that he is able to shape the Matrix – that same virtual reality that enslaves so many – to his will.

Guess what? At the end of The Matrix you find out the dude is right!

The second film, The Matrix Reloaded, starts off some time after the first movie, where Neo, still under the command of Morpheus and his crew of ultimate bad-asses – this time joined by Harold Perrineau, best known for his role as Mercutio in Romeo + Juliet – is slowly finding out more and more about the Matrix, and his role in the salvation of Man. But also about the Machines that control it, and the programs that run in it, about Zion and it’s politics, about love, and about sacrifice.

If you go and see this film, and all you want is to see more of the same bad-ass kung fu scenes, action scenes and psuedo-hacker flexing, then you’ll be satisfied enough…but be aware; there is a lot more intellectual, philosophical and spiritual depth in this movie, that it becomes hard sometimes to simply enjoy the visual spectacle and the high paced action.