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  #56731  
Old 6th October 2021, 05:27 AM
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Mortal Kombat


Mortal Kombat is a delightful martial arts feature. Packed with colourful visuals, fun characters played by a likable cast, a pulse-pounding soundtrack, and lots of energetic fight scenes, Paul W.S. Anderson's Mortal Kombat is an enjoyable way to while away 90 minutes.

Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat? Hoo... boy!

Mortal Kombat is one of the stronger franchises out there. At least it's the strongest fighting game franchise. Street Fighter, The King of Fighters, and Tekken may be better technically, but they don't translate well to other mediums. Street Fighter's drug lord villain story is fine before it turns into a techno-god story. The King of Fighters's plot about hosting an inexplicably popular secret tournament to harness the power of a Japanese demon lord falls on its arse when nobody is kicking each other. And Tekken... I have no idea what Tekken is about.

Point is, Mortal Kombat is perfect for other mediums. The lore of Mortal Kombat is filled with religious clashes, ancient wars, romance, lust, backstabbing, and treachery. It's like somebody crammed a bunch of Shakespeare into Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain and The Bride with White Hair.

While it didn't fully ignore its background, Anderson's film put preference on having funny characters doing kick-ass fights. It was a perfectly valid way of the starting the series, but there was always room for a film to delve into series' mythology. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation borrowed freely from it, but shit the bed when it tried to make it all accessible.

So we now we have the more recent attempt. A lot of hype was riding on this since the video games had a massive resurgence in popularity. Fans were hoping that this film would do the series justice.

It seemed like it would. McQuoid's Mortal Kombat looks dark, grim, sombre. Very sombre. In fact, boring, lifeless, or dull would be better terms. For as dark as the games are, they possess a strong sense of humour. Anderson's film strongly influenced the later games. Those games possessed more colours, leaning more heavily into Hong Kong cinema. The Asian thunder god Raiden from the games was given a more ambiguous ethnicity to match Christophe Lambert. The noble and stoic Liu Kang was now brash and impulsive. The spunky Sonya Blade became belligerent. Johnny Cage went from the greatest actor to a trashy, cocky egotist. And, thanks to Trevor Goddard's legendary performance, Kano was rewritten from Japanese to a vulgar Australian.

Kano is about the only thing McQuoid's film gets about right. Josh Lawson is possessed by the spirit of Goddard, chewing the scenery and spitting it out as snappy one-liners. The rest of the cast is perfunctory, but in fairness, the script never calls on them to do anything other than grimace. Chin Ha's Shang Tsung seems bored to be there (a far cry from Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa's sneering), and while Tadanobu Asano may be the better actor overall, nobody could ever accuse Christophe Lambert of sleepwalking. Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada are actually great as notorious rivals Sub-Zero and Scorpion, but they barely show up in it. When they do appear, it feels crowbarred in to satisfy fan expectations.

Speaking of fans, for a film that aspires to be super-serious, it's a wonder why they jettisoned a lot of the lore in favour of its own magic bollocks. Rather than a bunch of skilled fighters picked by Raiden and Shang Tsung, this has a magic tattoo that transfers upon death and grants superpowers. And rather than follow the games, the plot has the borderline victorious Shang Tsung plan to assassinate the kombatants before the tournament. That's right! Mortal Kombat doesn't have Mortal Kombat in it.

Still, who cares, as long as the fights are great? Right? ...Right?

Sadly, Mortal Kombat has fallen victim to Marvel syndrome. Barring an atmospheric opening and a belting final fight (rumoured to have been shot by Taslim and his team instead), the action scenes are CGI spectacles in brown-grey locations, swooping cameras, and frenetic CGI-enhanced editing enhanced by a mediocre soundtrack. It is suitably gory, and not hard to follow, but it lacks the rush from seeing forearms blocking punches, or knees meeting teeth.

Mortal Kombat is dreadful. It had the potential to kickstart the martial arts equivalent of Game of Thrones, but resorts to uninspired Marvel Universe nonsense. Like Marvel, it builds and builds and builds to reveal that it might pay off in the next film. Well, fück that!

On a further note, this came out in Japan around my birthday, and was my friends and I's first cinema trip in almost a year. I spent the rest of the evening apologising profusely it.

As Shao Kahn would put it, "That was pathetic!"
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  #56732  
Old 6th October 2021, 12:21 PM
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Great to have you back on the forum, Mac.
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  #56733  
Old 6th October 2021, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demdike@Cult Labs View Post
Great to have you back on the forum, Mac.
Thanks. I'm changing jobs soon, so hopefully I won't get burnt out anymore.
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  #56734  
Old 6th October 2021, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBlayne View Post
Thanks. I'm changing jobs soon, so hopefully I won't get burnt out anymore.
Nice one. Hope it all goes well for you. Loving these reviews.
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  #56735  
Old 7th October 2021, 05:20 AM
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Godzilla VS Kong

Ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to RUUMMMBLLEE!!! After an hour of tedious plotting and terrible acting.

Why does Hollywood insist on extensive plotting? Did some executive splurge on a plot generator rather than a new coffee machine, and keeps using it to justify the expenditure to their pissed-off colleagues? Godzilla VS Kong is buried under a load of nonsense about alternative dimensions, corporate conspiracies, espionage, and exposition blandly delivered by robots posing as humans. Only Kyle Chandler shows are form of sentiment, that being of annoyed to be there. I'm guessing director Adam Wingard had zero interest in the plot or the human characters, as tries rushing through the scenes as fast as possible.

When the monster bash finally kicks off, the film is loads of fun. Kong and Godzilla beat the everloving shit out of each other, while wrecking Hong Kong harder than Xi Jinping could dream of. Hong Kong is an excellent choice of location as the neon lighting and massive skyscrapers bring visual depth to the scrapping. The special effects artists also deserve acclaim for managing to portray emotion on the giant lizard and ape.

Overall, Godzilla VS Kong is 40 minutes of 4-star destruction suffocating under an hour of 1-star dreck. There's very little else to say about it. Use chapter selection to get the most out of this.



(I saw this in the cinema back in July. The Hong Kong scenes were worth it.)
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  #56736  
Old 8th October 2021, 02:31 AM
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At the risk of loosing film credibility points, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Peter Ustinov spoof Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. It's a film that I recall from childhood and I wasn't sure how it would hold up today. On Monday, my wife and I watched it on youtube and immediately afterwards I ordered the UK blu-ray (for around a fiver). It'll sit nicely amongst other comedic sleuth movies that I own, such as Clue and Murder By Death. Great fun.
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  #56737  
Old 8th October 2021, 03:14 PM
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A Brighter Summer Day


In 1960 in Taiwan, a young teenage girl was murdered by a boy of the same age. Although it caused a fervour in the Taiwanese press at the time, very little information about the crime exists. It did leave it's mark on a young Edward Yang, who used the incident to build his 1991 four hour epic drama. A Brighter Summer Day is not a true crime expose. It's not a coming of age story, nor a nostalgia piece despite its late 50s/early 60s dressing. What A Brighter Summer Day is, is far more complex.

The plot begins in 1959. Xiao Si'r, the nickname of one Chang Chen (played, appropriately enough, by an outstanding Chang Chen) has misbehaved at school. His father is begging for leniency, but the school insists on punishing Xiao Si'r by making him attend night school lessons. It's convenient for the school to punish students like this, as the Taiwanese education system has reached breaking point with the influx of displaced Chinese from the Chinese Communist Revolution.

And thus begins an incredible vision of New Taiwanese Cinema. A Brighter Summer Day is an extraordinary exploration of manliness, displacement, and national identity. S'ir's odyssey from teenage gang member to murderer beautifully captures the enigma of what is Taiwan.

It's an interesting conundrum. Chinese and Taiwanese neighbours frequently quarrel in shops or in the street. S'ir's gang is made of the children on Chinese exiles, and they are at war with a gang that the children of Taiwanese natives. Their conflict is one expanded from their parents, and one that they don't fully understand beyond feeling like part of something greater. Which is all the more fascinating as they are in the same boat - a lack of national identity and security.

Although they speak of one day reclaiming China, the exiled Chinese have no culture of their own to claim. They live in houses built by the Japanese during World War II. The cinema and music they indulge in is American (the title of the film is taken from Elvis Presley's Are You Lonesome Tonight). The Taiwanese natives are one with no identity of their own too, listening to Japanese ballads left over from the war, and feeling pushed aside in their home country, in favour of the new Taiwanese - whatever that means.

The new Taiwan as seen by the Chinese Nationalists may be difficult to define, but is easy to note what fuelled it. Paranoia and anger flows through this new Taiwan. In one of the more chilling sequences, S'ir's father is asked to attend a meeting with the Secret Police. There is no violence, or threats, or screams. Uncertainty is the torture device employed, and the results are heartbreaking.

The paranoia is mirrored in S'ir's night school life. He barely sees his family, and teachers are rarely seen, but school monitors are everywhere. Uncertainty and rage defines S'ir's life. His friend aspires to be a singer, but S'ir has no ambitions. With all of the gang infighting, and charged-up hormones, S'ir isn't sure who his friends are.

His only ray of light is Ming, a girl struggling with her own feelings of displacement. In one of the more incredible scenes of this magnificent film, she is dressed up like an old Chinese princess, one that is desired by everybody, for a film audition. It encapsulates her feelings succinctly, as the feelings of desire are fake (instead of warmth and compassion, the director and crew speak of what else they can to make her more attractive), and she is asked to represent a Chinese cultural icon she is unfamiliar with.

These similarities bring S'ir and Ming together, but they are not bound for each other. Ming is promiscuous, clinging to any boy to feel wanted. S'ir is powered by self-loathing and toxic masculinity, fuelled by his delinquency, and anger at his broken father. S'ir's extremely misguided understanding of manliness brings the film to's tragic conclusion. It would be wrong to call S'ir a tragic victim failed by romance. Throughout the film, he is exposed to violence and it's consequences. He is under no illusion as to what he is about to do.

But the film doesn't label him as the perpetrator either. Rather, the film shows all of Taiwan as victim and perpetrator. A new nation that tore itself over its own lack of certainty. It may be an angry film, but Edward Yang does reveal sympathy for Taiwan. The final scene says it all, we know not what the future brings, but we act in the hopes of A Brighter Summer Day.
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  #56738  
Old 9th October 2021, 03:48 PM
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Basket case 2 and 3,

Tbh I’d never got round to watching 2nd or 3rd one before,
We all know the expression just because you can doesn’t mean you should, we’ll that applies to this,
Just because he had a bigger budget doesn’t mean he had to use it, should have kept a low budget like the original, if you’ve got limited resources then you'll limit to what you can do but try and make it effective, give more resources and you go huge and bigger but doesn’t necessarily mean better,
It’s like giving a child few pence in a sweet shop and they use it wisely and sparingly, give them unlimited amount of money and they go daft and silly like a bull in a China shop, and I felt that’s what they did with this ,
Everything that made the original a cult classic has been lost in the sequels .
Gritty and grimness, low budget, the grindhouse b movie appeal all lost and turned it into a crisp clean mainstream style, the storyline and plot of the 2nd one was decent and right, but sadly even the acting in the sequels made the original award winning compared to this drivel, the monsters were ridiculously daft and way ott, to point couldn’t take any of it serious even as a silly daft film. that in the end I felt like it was a piss taking comedy parody, awful awful awful should have stuck to same style how the original was made .
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  #56739  
Old 9th October 2021, 10:39 PM
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Quantum of Solace (2008)

I liked this considerably more this time around continuing off right where 2006's Casino Royale finished.

Marc Forster's direction veers from the very good - all the quieter moments especially the dialogue and chemistry between Daniel Craig's Bond and Judi Dench's M and later with Giancarlo Giannini's returning Matthis - to the really quite poor - The action sequences are terribly edited with far too many cuts that they simply go by in a blur which isn't helped by the fact a rooftop chase is cut up by crowd scenes below and an action scene at an outdoor opera is cut into by scenes of the opera. Seriously. Who gives a damn about the opera when Bond is dashing about on gang planks back stage.

Other than that though it simply seemed to gel more than previous.

This viewing has elevated it from worst Craig Bond film to now better than the lackluster SPECTRE.
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  #56740  
Old 11th October 2021, 09:04 PM
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Shallow Grave

No,not the Danny Boyle film,but a 1980's slasher/thriller hybrid from director Richard Styles.

I enjoyed this little thriller in the woods.
The female leads are attractive and likable,the villain is a right sleazy bastard and the ending.....well I'll leave that one out.

Great seeing Vinegar Syndrome continuing to upgrade these forgotten gems.

The Hysteria Continues commentary is great as well.


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