Posts Tagged ‘jackie chan’

Bi Polar Reviews: Ninja Assassin

January 26, 2010

sad

Long overdue and suffering from the recession (damn you Cyclops). I present the revitalised Bi-Polar Reviews for 2010. I say revitalised, basically part one and two will be posted together. I’ve had thousands of emails asking how to use that elusive left click. Pingbacks are our bread and butter after all. So I thought i’d save you the trouble and put one and two in a post.

If you missed how this works. Part One good, Part Two bad. Its early years as the Manic Depressive reviews didn’t catch on for some reason.

This week we have Ninja Assassin. Here is Part One.

assassin

Ninja Assassin is the latest offering from James McTeigue. You know, the man who directed V for Vendetta. Still nothing? I only say this because in the advertising spots he has become the creator of The Matrix trilogy. They said that for V for Vendetta and they are pitching it again with Ninja Assassin. Marketing this as a film by the creators of the Matrix trilogy implies the Wachowski’s are in control of said project. Quick question, what is more appealing:

The man who directed V for Vendetta?
Or
The duo who directed the Matrix and inexorably fudged the next two?

archi

Ergo, they sucked. So why taint a promising sequence director with a good eye for the fantabulous?

So, plot…we’ll get to that in the second half. Let focus on where Ninja Assassin excels, those fight sequences. If you were going to be honest with yourself, you didn’t pay to see a film titled Ninja Assassin for its eloquence. A blade in the gizzards, put simply, says more than words ever could.

slice

Put a knife on a chain in any movie and I think you’ll find an audience. Add some throwing stars into the mix and you got yourself Citizen Kane minus a sledge. This is an unashamed B movie, looking at it from any other angle will leave you squirming for its 99 minutes. Watching the film with this in mind and I promise, you will have an enjoyable time. Killing is this films business, and business is certainly thriving. If you think of blood as its plot, this is the War and Peace we have been waiting for. All in all, you should have a bloody good time (sorry).

Ninja Gaiden The Movie, the film you have all been waiting for.

“Looks like another empty room”
Bam, ninja!

bam

Part Two

So there’s these assassinations occurring but nobody knows whose doing it. This one Interpol agent gets the idea that it might be ninja’s. But nobody believes her because there’s no such thing as ninja’s. Except there is such a thing as ninja’s and now the ninja’s want to kill her. So she teams up with the good ninja, played by Korean pop sensation Rain, who helps her seek revenge on the evil ninja’s, who happen to be his former clan. There’s some pretty nifty fight scenes along the way, and that wispy CGI that makes everything appear slightly supernatural. It also has its fair share of ninja blood. Ultimately, whether or not you will like it will largely depend on how fond of ninja’s you are to begin with.

The End

raizo

Erm.

Oh. Did you ever notice how ninja’s get less powerful the more of them you put together? One ninja is usually this unstoppable force, their always the baddest ass in the room, secret weapon, secret style, secret hat. But put more than three of them in a room together and they suddenly get performance anxiety. Rule of thumb, if a movie has an army of ninjas, then you can be pretty sure our protagonist is going to breeze through them like [insert loathed chubby] and a hammock of profiteroles. Now since there is not a ninja cliché that Ninja Assassin doesn’t indulge in, you can bet that this one made it into the final edit.

ninja

On the one hand part of me loves seeing cheesy martial arts clichés like this still kicking around. On the other hand they lose a lot of their charm when the authenticity is completely removed. When Bruce or Jackie flicked, twisted, kicked and screamed we had a static camera and the proof of physical exertion. Ninja Assassin simply looks too expensive for its own good. Believe me when I say I am not trying to sound like a Chinese proverb, but most of the films strengths are also its biggest weaknesses. From the cool, stoic delivery of our protagonist Raizo, to the legend that is Sho Kosugi and his earnest recital of every ninja villain stock line in the book. Both are acceptable traits within this genre, but could quite easily grunt throughout the movie and provide more weight to their roles.

sho

Speaking of stock lines, let’s see how many pretentious critical clichés I can fit into one paragraph. Story formulaic, the dialogue wooden, almost Ikea (slot ninja B into ninja B), acting woeful, even for a movie with the word ninja in the title. I would say that the film appeared to work on several levels without actually addressing six of them. Some have suggested 36, but The Abbott has been slipping recently so we forgive him for that last effort.

rza

Dré

Karate Kid Trailer

January 21, 2010

I mentioned this title last year among a horde of upcoming remakes.

originality

A story so good they had to tell it twice – kind of. This time round we have Lil Will aka Jaden Smith aka the other Dre taking the lead with Jackie Chan as the ever present fly catching, waxing groomer.

Here’s the trailer:

Dré

Money For Old Rope

October 9, 2009

Hollywood as we are all aware, has strong liberal sentiments. We watch the armies of Prius scurrying round the globe; vocally promoting the most progressive of causes. An endangered lab rat in Dubai, a boycott of a well known chocolate vendor or political conflict in a far far away land. But when it comes to progression within their own industry, Hollywood is the perfect example of cultural conservatism. Any person who has scouted the papers or dubya’s over the past year would be hard pressed not feel a strange sense of deja-vu. Film and Television it seems, has become obsessed with the past, redressing themes from the old to the damn near pre-pubescent.

tids

Now you can forgive me if some of what I say appears just as unoriginal as the summer Blockbuster offerings. But the trend of remakes, re-drafts and reboots is becoming more and more frequent. The list of upcoming recycled properties is pretty staggering, especially when you look at the great filmmakers behind the texts. Filmmakers who have proven they have the artistic ambition to do something more original – have begun embracing nostalgic, more familiar material.

harvey

Step forward Steven Spielberg, the most successful filmmaker of all time announced that he will be ‘reimagining’ Harvey, the 1950 comedy starring Jimmy Stewart. Next we have Robert Zemeckis, another filmmaker with near-perfect credentials. He will be breathing new life into the iconic Yellow Submarine animation. Looking further, we have Bryan Singer’s upcoming remakes of Excalibur and Battlestar Galactica; while rocker turned auteur, Mr. Rob Zombie; still bloodied from the second Halloween set, is trying his hands at the tongue-in-cheek horror The Blob, the films third offering to an ever forgetful public.

blobbb

Shoot ‘Em Up director Michael Davis is trying on Outland for size. Screen Gems is moving ahead with a new take on Peckinpah’s classic Straw Dogs. Believe me when I say, I wish I was finished – damn you hyperlink! Studio wise, were getting a Columbia Pictures remake of the 1990 sci-fi film Total Recall. Hancock director Peter Berg will have a look at Lynch’s Dune, Brett Eisner will reinvent Flash Gordon and Danny ‘Bhangra’ Boyle’s DNA Films is planning a new Judge Dredd movie. Terminator Salvation director McG will plummet 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, while Twilight filmmakers Summit Entertainment are having a ganders at the Highlander franchise.

blade twi

There are countless remakes already on the studio release slates. MGM has a new version of Fame sitting atop mount box-office; with a remake of Red Dawn in the works. Sony, which gave us a remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 this summer, has a vehicle for Will Smith Jr in Karate Kid; coupled with our chubby cherub Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet next summer. Mr Murdoch will also be throwing a few flicks in the mix. New versions of Gulliver’s Travels, The A-Team, and yet another Predator offering. Universal has updates of both The Wolfman and Robin Hood, the latter with Russell ‘fighting round the world’ Crowe taking lead and Ridley Scott behind the camera.

crowe hood

No, still not finished. Paramount will have us tapping our feet to Footloose next year and begging Murphy to call it a day in Beverly Hills Cop. Warner brings up the rear with Sherlock Holmes, Clash of the Titans and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Sadly, the only thing new and exciting audiences will get from Hollywood over the next few years are creative justifications for what is essentially – money for old rope. In an attempt to distance himself from the original Blob, Rob Zombie insisted, ‘My intention is not to have a big red blobby thing – that’s the first thing I want to change,”. Thank you Rob, very nicely put. The only thing I would question is why you would want to call it The Blob then. Just a thought.

So, why are there all these bloody remakes? Apathy? maybe. Economic woes? quite possibly. Is it familiarity? That detective, is the right question.

lanning

The figures speak for themselves sadly. Since January 2007, the ten highest grossing films at the box office have all been sequels, reimaginings of established franchises or action movies based on comic book characters. The marketers would suggest that we live in an environment so full of Jeremy Kyle and clutter that having a picture with a little spice of nostalgia is a crucial selling point. If you can sell a film around some form of familiarity, something the audience can latch onto, then you might just hit the jackpot.

blart

We live in a world where the whole concept of originality is being reinvented. Artists are simply hitting the replay button, spending more time re-imagining, rather than rethinking, redefining and re-re-re-re…

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Dré