Archive for the ‘ Movies ’ Category

Bionic Ninja

Guest post by Richard

There are no bionics in Godfrey Ho’s Bionic Ninja, or anything relating to any sort of advanced super technology. Bionic Ninja is another shining example of Godfry Ho making his art, his crapft*, and his desire to profit off dumb westerners or something like that, the movie’s over 20 years old.

Nothing this cool is in the movie

For those of you who are unaware of Godfry Ho, he was a maker of movies in Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s. He “made” movies in the same manner of way that Dr. Frankenstein made his monster, splicing together two movies. Every Godfrey Ho movie is actually two films, one a unfinished Chinese film, that is then spliced together with footage of western actors doing stuff involving ninjas (this is the stuff Godfrey Ho directs). Usually the actors show up, shoot their scenes, and then this footage is stretched out over multiple films. Most actors were not even aware that this was taking place. Richard Harrison has said that the experience led to his retirement and described the experience of working with Godfrey Ho as

“This experience made me feel very dirty. I really felt like a prostitute. They were thrown in my face all the time. I saw part of one once, it had something to do with witches. I don’t think I had more than a couple of scenes in it. ”

He made this man feel like a whore

Godfrey Ho would try to make the two movies seem as one by having the white characters discuss what was going on in the other film or make it seem like they had scenes together. This is usually done in such a way that it seems like the editing in of Raymond Burr in Godzilla seem masterful.

Needless to say Godfrey Ho is a God.

DIOS!!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Anyway back to Bionic Ninja, it’s one of Godfrey Ho’s lesser works- in the sense that some of his movies can be amazingly entertaining. The plot is not important or understandable- it involves something regarding the KGB using ninjas to smuggle secrets in and out of Hong Kong and then the Chinese film that all the ninja scenes are edited around is dubbed over to make it seem like there was a microfilm that was stolen that had these secrets. This all leads to a bunch of real boring spliced with some moments of just perfect like awfulness.

Despite all that the movie is entrancing, it’s just so bad that you can’t avert your eyes from it, and once you’re in-you’re in for good. The movie works its magic and turns off your brain eventually leaving you in a coma like state…or asleep. The dubbing is terrible, the acting is terrible, and the action is terrible. The dialogue is laughable and with the dubbing added on top of it, it becomes pure gold. Lines like:

“The information is 99% accurate”

“Well since it is that reliable we have no choice”

become rivals of the best David Mamet ever wrote in just pure entertainment value.

I can’t really write anymore on this-it’s just terrible, but I love it anyway.

Godfrey Ho now teaches “film” at the Hong Kong Film Institute. A majority of his films are public domain and thus are on google video, watch at your own risk.

*intentional

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LETHAL NINJA

I like to consider myself a budding connoisseur of the late 80’s early 90’s ninja film.

Having seen my fair share of films from the era, I feel that I’ve had enough experience with that genre to present a fairly qualified critical viewpoint. Having seen the entirety of the American Ninja series, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination, Enter the Ninja, Gymkata, the more modern Ninja Assasin, and all of the films in the Three Ninjas franchise.

The thing about all of these films, is that for the most part they’re all borderline incompetent, but in a good way. Cause in the 80’s all you needed to make a ninja movie was a crappy plot, enough money for a few explosions, and a bunch of black leotards.

Which brings us to Lethal Ninja, a 1993 entry into the ninja-sploitation genre.

The movie takes place in Africa,you know a place where there are generally tons of ninjas, we start off by watching some blond lady working at a science lab, analyzing some water samples. There’s some beakers and test tubes ad everyone has lab coats and they’re talking about ho the water in the area has gone bad.

Then all of the sudden some ninjas show up, just popping out of nowhere, kill everyone but the blond lady, who they kidnap. They then promptly shoot rockets at the tent full of science stuff, it explodes.

We soon meet the hero of the story JOE. He’s teaching some meditation in San Fransisco. Some government looking dudes show up to give Joe the bad news. He finds out the blond lady, who it turns out was his wife, has been kidnapped; and so he decides to go to Africa to go get her.

But not before he decides that he’s gonna need the help of his black friend from black buddy from back in the day, who kinda reminds me of Eddie Murphy. He picks him up at a dojo, and they go to Africa, armed with some crossbows and guns and stuff, not really anything particularly ninja-esque.

They get into Africa under the excuse of it being a hunting expedition, and check into a decent hotel, which just happens to be the very same hotel run by the bad guy of the movie, and also conveniently enough the very same hotel in which the blond scientist lady is being held captive! There’s two main bad guys, one is the old guy who has something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something, and the sleazy younger guy, who also might have something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something. I don’t really remember the motivations beyond the fact that someone was dumping all sorts of toxic waste into the water supply in this small African nation, and some other people were paying some people off to let it happen. Possibly, I’m pretty sure it was something like that.

Our heroes decide to take a night on the town, while they look for some contact of theirs that’s got the lowdown on the local situation, there’s a rather long scene of this chick signing, it’s a crappy filler scene,the chick is in too much of the movie, she’s like the younger bad guy’s girlfriend or something. Then the bad guys harass some government officials, and then the heroes get in a small bar fight, then they run into their contact who tells them to meet him the next day.

There’s a few scenes of the blond chick being stuck in a swank hotel with the sleazy younger bad dude, trying to hit on her, and or persuade her to join his cause/team/side on the toxic waste issue, I think he just wants a new girl. She’s like “aaawww hell naw, my man will save me”.

The heroes meet their contact, who tells them that they have to meet up with other dude, and for some reason they’ve gotta do this at what happens to be a random carnival, they find the guy on a carousel that ominously starts up on its own to reveal that the guy who they were supposed to meet has be murder killed to death with a knife.

Then it turns out that someone has put bombs on their cars!

The contact guy gets exploded, but the heroes survive.

The go to the site of the science tent massacre that took place in the first scene, and then drive up to this old abandoned, factory/mill place and end up finally fighting some ninjas. In Africa. With No Asian People In Sight. That was really one of the best things about the late 80’s and early 90’s, it didn’t matter if ninjas made sense, people liked them, and so they showed up in movies. The thing is at this point in the movie the heroes haven’t done anything ninja related either, they go into this fight with guns and a crossbow with explosive tipped arrows.

You get ninjas jumping outta trees, different colored ninjas falling off buildings, ninjas hiding in the shadows, and then some ninjas jumping out at Joe with swords.After he defeats them in clumsily choreographed combat, there’s a quick rip off of an iconic scene from Raiders of The Lost Ark. This one ninja jumps outta nowhere with some nunchucks, swings them about all threatening-like, and then just gets shot in the chest by Joe, which makes you wonder why he didn’t just shoot the other few ninjas, they were clearly inept after all.

After a small car chase they intrepid duo heads bad to the hotel for some rest, they discover some sort of plant near the hotel, and they begin to put the pieces of the plot together.

After a few boring scenes Joe finally dresses up in black like a ninja and heads off for the films best scene. He sneaks into what appears to be a roller rink. He sneaks into the place, all the lights are off and it’s almost mysterious, but then the lights turn on and he’s surrounded by ninjas.

Surrounded by ninjas on roller skates.

Yeah, roller skates, not even roller blades, which were still kinda cool back in the 90’s, but just plain old roller skates. And then all of the sudden they’re not just plain old roller skates, knives pop outta the sides! It’s like they’re Swiss army skates of death.

Then all the ninjas begin to skate around menacingly. The attack Joe one at a time, and he manages to takeout a few through his brand of poor mans kung fu. The scene ends when he throws his sword at the lights to make his quick escape, leaving the viewer to wonder why the ninjas had skates in the first place, and what this scene had to do with anything. I’m pretty sure the writers of the film were tasked with coming up with something involving ninjas that nobody had seen before, and the best they could do was ninjas on skates. I mean it is amazing and all, but it doesn’t really fit into the context of the film very well, what with it being a movie about kidnapping, pollution, and Africa.

Speaking of which, the next part has Joe and his buddy sneaking into the pollution plant under the cover of night. I’m pretty sure that the plant consists mostly of some water slides that they put some foliage around, and tried to make look more industrial.

The black dude is gets trapped in one of the big pipes, and almost gets killed by toxic waste, but in doing so he figures out the bad guys evil plot. Which is cool cause it makes almost care, but not really.

The Old dude bad guy shows up, this time with a monocle, and he’s got ninjas with machine guns, so the good guys get captured. Then they get tortured a bit, then they get freed by the bad dudes girl friend, the annoying one who sang too much in he filler scene earlier, cause she’s tired of the bad guy being a dick and always trying to hit on the blond scientist lady.

They then run around for a bit looking for blond scientist lady until they find her, the old guy bad guy gets killed and then everyone is reunited. Yay, but we still gotta take care of the other bad guy, cause he’s a dick.

Turns out he’s at that old factory place from earlier in the movie that we first encountered the ninjas at, also turns out that that’s a mine. So the bad dude makes his way to the top of a large tower for a dramatic and exciting showdown with our heroes. Wait make that hero, cause right when they get to the bottom of the big tower, the black dude, whose name I just remembered was PETER, just all of the sudden decides he doesn’t care about getting the bad guy anymore.

At the top of the tower Joe fights some more ninjas, who I guess were just waiting up there. The thing is, this is the last few minutes of the movie, and the final ninja related scene, and it’s also the most comically inept. The fight is slow, and it really looks like the actors were having a hard time trying to look even remotest bit convincing.

Just when you think that Joe and the bad guy are actually gonna fight, this one ninja sneaks up behind Joe. So Joe rolls outta the way a little bit, and makes the ninja accidentally stab his boss, who then gets hit off the top of the tower. It’s a bit anticlimactic if you’re looking for anything resembling competence.

So that’s pretty much Lethal Ninja.

Compared to quality films it doesn’t hold up very well, but when compared to other low budget action films, well you could still do quite a bit better.

But for the ninja enthusiast, who doesn’t mind their ninja films having no real reason to have ninjas; well, you’ll probably be amused. There’s a number of unintentionally funny parts, and there’s even a few explosions, and as a whole the film entertains, just not because it’s cool or anything like that. The film entertains, cause you can just tell that the filmmakers weren’t trying very hard when they made it.

It’s a movie that you don’t have to respect, it doesn’t very hard, and you don’t have to put much effort into watching it.

Compared to other ninja films, I’d say it’s worse than American Ninja parts 1, 2,and 3, but at least on par with American Ninja 5.

Lethal Ninja is available on Netflix Instant Watch at the moment, but the cover art they have for it is for a totally different movie. You either watch it on Netflix or you find a VHS copy, cause it never got a DVD release.

Nobody Likes M. Night Shyamalan

This past Thursday night at midnight I ventured to my local movie theatre to see The Expendables.

It was amazing, if you were wondering whether or not you should see it, ask yourself “Do I want to see Terry Crews turning people into people puddles with an automatic shotgun?”

Of course the answer is yes.

But that’s neither here nor there, right now were gonna talk about the trailer for the new movie written by M. Night Shyamalan, called Devil.

It’s about some people stuck in an elevator in a building, and some creepy stuff starts goin on, and I’m guess by the title that at least one of the people in the movie is a demon/monster/satan sort of person. It looks mildly amusing, but it also looks like it has the potential to be dumbtarded.

The thing is, at the point the trailer says “from M. Night Shyamalan”  a good portion of the theatre let out a collective groan, and then followed that up with laughter.

I’m relatively sure that laughter isn’t the intended reaction from the trailer.

But after having been dealt the one-two punch of the comedy opus The Happening, and the what I’ve heard shitstorm The Last Airbender, I think audiences might be tired of that guy.

It would have been just another funny occurrence in a crowded movie theatre, had it not happened again the very next night.

On Friday night I went and saw the amazing Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

If you were wondering if you should see that movie, the answer is a resounding YES. It’s great in just about every way imaginable.

But before the movie, when the trailer for Devil played, a number of folks in the audience let out groans of displeasure followed by laughter.

Not a good sign for Universal, not a good sign in the least.

FUN FACT: If you run a google search for M. Night Shamalamadingdong, Mr. Shyamalan’s imdb.com site is still the first entry!

The Entity and Raiders of Atlantis

THE ENTITY

The Entity is a movie from 1981 about a lady who get repeatedly raped by a ghost.

Yeah you read that right, it’s a movie about ghost rape.

Ok I know how absurd that sounds, and I realize that it sound a little bit on the horrible side, but it’s actually supposedly based on a true story. So it’s a completely credible movie about ghost rape.

The movie is played almost totally serious, almost like a Lifetime Network drama. Imagine for a moment, a movie about a woman, with three children, and a husband who beats her. The movie is comprised of various scenes of her getting beat up, and then dramatic scenes of her dealing with the problem. In the end she leaves.

Just replace “husband” with “ghost” and “beating” with “rape”.

Which is weird really, this is the sort of movie that you’d expect to be played for exploitation value, but it’s not. It’s genuinely uncomfortable to watch. There is a little bit of absurdest humor to found, just based on the subject matter, but the movie itself isn’t funny.

Ok the end parts are kinda funny, cause they set up this elaborate trap to try and freeze the ghost with liquid helium.

The acting is pretty good around the board, with Barbara Hershey giving a believable performance as the woman. You feel pretty bad for her most of the movie, cause she spend a lot of it getting the crap beat outta her.

This is just one of those movies, that while good, I can’t really recommend to most people. Cause it’s a ‘Woman In Peril’ drama that just happens to feature some crazy supernatural shenanigans, but none of the revenge catharsis that we enjoy from our usual exploitation fare. It’s not really fun, but it’s pretty creepy for the most part.

It’s available on Netflix instant watch.

http://www.youtube.com/v/jjDH7DTVSN0&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0

RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS

I saw the trailer for Raiders of Atlantis a few years ago while watching 42nd Street Forever, and just knew I had to see it. It looked like some crazy shenanigans full of silly Road Warrior ripoff type bad guys, and that’s pretty much what it turned out to be.

The movie was directed by Cannibal Holcausot director Ruggero Deodato.

As far as the plot goes, I’m not really sure, there’s very little there. It’s something about some dudes,on a boat, and then some scientists, who’ve found some ancient artifacts near some underwater wreckage, then some stuff about an oil platform, then a giant storm shows up and some really bad miniatures and destroyed, an island pops out of the ocean, and then the Road Warrior guys show up.

From there on it’s just a whole ton of mindless shooting and action. Suffice to say it’s pretty great. It follows the 80’s action movie code of if we can’t have a quality plot, or well thought out action, lets just have more explosions and shooting.

It’s pretty mindless, I honestly didn’t know who half the characters in the movie were for most of the film. But more and more bad dudes keep showing up, and so more people get shot. There’s a bus chases where some guys jump out of a helicopter onto a moving bus, and that was pretty cool. The main characters go to the island that came out of the ocean, which I assume is part of Atlantis, they shoot a whole bunch of dudes, half the main characters die, along with a few side characters, then there’s some lasers or something, and at some point the movie ends.

I watched it like three weeks ago, while I was pretty tired, so I mostly just remember lots of shooting.

I was entertained quite a bit by the movie, despite not having much of an idea as to what was going on besides loud noises and shenanigans. For fans of B action movies from the 80’s there’s quite a bit of enjoyment to be found in Raiders of Atlantis.

Interestingly enough, the movie has never gotten a DVD release in the USA, so I ended up watching it on what appeared to be some sort of Scandinavian VHS rip.

http://www.youtube.com/v/yQ0m-idDCLg&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0

Holy Fuck SHARKTOPUS Looks Amazing!!!

So yeah, I’m just sayin, this might be the best concept for anything ever.

SHARKTOPUS!!!

It’s a combination shark and octopus, not as good as a combination pizza hut and taco bell, but still pretty amazing.

Feast your eyes on the glory below:

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe this work of ART.

Looks at least as good as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

Super Stoked.

Thank You Roger Corman.

Sharks in Venice

Now I like to fancy myself somewhat a connoisseur of films of dubious quality, but I sometimes can find a movie hard to watch. There is after all a distinction between GOOD Bad and BAD bad.

I feel that the cardinal sins of making a B movie are being boring, and misleading the audience. The film that I recently had the experience of viewing, Sharks in Venice commits both of those sins. I know, I really shouldn’t have expected much, it was after all a movie of the week that premiered on the Sci Fi channel. But every once in a while we do get a decent addition to the “Killer Animals Attack” genre from them.

I felt it had the makings of a decent bad movie. It has a great title, a trailer that inspires confidence, and it stars an actor far removed from his prime, Stephen Baldwin! My hopes were about as high as possible for this movie, all things considered.

Here’s the trailer:

Pretty much everything good in the movie right there

So yeah, I thought it looked enjoyable. It turned out that it wasn’t the worst thing ever, but not something I can really recommend to anyone, cause all the best bits are already in the trailer. You saw those two shots of poorly rendered CGI sharks eating people? that’s all the movie has going for it in the “bad CGI shark department’”. That’s it, the rest is the usual stock footage of sharks, clouds of blood, and murky shots of people scuba diving. Not impressive in the least.

That’s where the sense of being mislead comes in. Sure I know that if you want to get down to it the movie’s title is Sharks in Venice, and that’s what it delivers, but I feel that it should have had a lot more amusing shark action than just the stuff in the trailer. It’s such a great B movie concept. Just imagine sharks rampaging around eating gondolas, and boats and tons of people! Mayhem, body parts, teeth and blood everywhere. Yeah there was some potential there. Squandered potential.

I feel that in a movie like this, if you’re gonna name your film after the deadly animals involved you should at least have a decent amount of screen time of said animal. Look at Snakes on a Plane for example, tons of snakes on a plane for most of the run time. Or even other sci fi channel movies like Dinocroc or Supergator, they make up for the lack of quality in their movie by having a giant dinosaur/crocodile/gator eating people whenever they get a chance. The effects aren’t great or anything, but I expect to have my titular killer animals in the movie in at least some entertaining fashion.

sharksinvenicer1artpicI mean come on this is a pretty awesome DVD cover. It’s a giant fucking shark about to eat a gondola, it’s ruining shit and looking menacing. The only parts of the movie remotely like this were in the trailer.

When you give your movie a title, I usually expect it to reflect the content of the film. Sharks in Venice has the same problem that the academy Award winning film There Will Be Blood had; a title that while technically correct is actually a reference to a more minor part of the film as a whole in regard to screen time. Spoilers: There’s not much blood at all in There Will Be Blood, most of it shows up in the last scene, after Daniel Day Lewis talks about milkshakes.

I feel the movie should have been called Stephen Baldwin in Venice: The Sharkening.

Most of the movie is about Stephen Baldwin looking for some treasure that his dad was looking for. He has to go scuba diving to find it cause it’s in a secret underground place that has an underwater entrance. But every time he goes diving the sharks show up and eat someone. It sounds like there might be some excitement there, but  as I mentioned before it’s just murky looking and peppered with shark stock footage.

Stephen Baldwin’s girlfriend gets kidnapped by the mafia, who want the treasure. We don’t really care, but it gives Baldwin a reason to keep going into the water. The big twist is that the sharks had been released into the Venetian waters by the big mafia bad guy, who somehow got ahold of baby great white sharks, and decided that somehow they’d make good underwater guard dogs. The whole situation doesn’t really seem that feasible, especially considering the bad guy has a tank with baby great whites in it, and everyone knows great whites cannot live in captivity.

The middle of the movie is Baldwin dealing with the mafia, there’s a foot chase in which they run down the same small stretch of street at least three times, while mafia goons try to shoot Baldwin. It doesn’t make much sense, cause they need him to find the treasure. Then when he does lead the mafia goons to the treasure, they try to kill him. So there’s a short fight scene that manages to involve a battle axe, and a sword. It’s all captivating enough to the point that you’re not totally bored, it just doesn’t happen to involve any killer sharks.

Sharks_In_Venice_2By the end of the movie there’s a shootout between mafia goons and an Italian SWAT team at a factory/warehouse place. you know the same factory/warehouse place that all action movies tend to end at. Apparently there’s one in Venice. So there’s some explosions and shooting, and it’s all nothing that I cared about in the least.

The best thing about the movie is the fact that by the end, the shark is still alive. It doesn’t come back to life in some sort of surprise ending or anything, they just don’t bother killing it, so it’s just swimming around still. And the Italian police spend the whole movie just insisting that there’s no sharks in Venice despite eyewitness reports to the contrary. They’re really serious about it.

Which is a problem with the movie as a whole, it takes itself way too seriously. There’s not enough shenanigans to make up for the lack of goodness.

Honestly the best way to approach the film is to just watch the trailer, have yourself a laugh, and just be glad that the movie exists out there somewhere and that you don’t have to watch it.

[REC] 2

MILD SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.

So I finally got to see [Rec] 2 last night and have to say that I was quite happy with the movie.

[Rec] 2 you say?

You don’t recall there being a movie called [Rec]?

Well of course you don’t cause when it came out back in 2007 Sony bought up the rights and made an inferior remake that they released as Quarantine.

Sound familiar? Well [REC] was the Spanish original and it’s better, it’s easily one of the scariest movies that I’ve ever seen, the last 10 minutes or so are just pants splatteringly terrifying. And the rest of the movie is pretty awesome to boot.

And in case you were wondering [REC] stands for Record, as you’d see it through a video camera, so yeah it’s one of those hand held camera footage sort of horror films. You know like Paranormal Activity, or The Blair Witch Project.

So the first movie is about an incredibly cute reporter and her camera man who are doing a late night special on some fire fighters, and follow the firefighters to a building that’s gotten an emergency call. When they get there, they find out that things aren’t right and there’s some crazy shit going down. It would seem that there’s a sort of zombie disease going through the tenants of the building they’re in. The police show up quarantine the building and trap them inside. Things get bad very, very fast.

The movie is super intense, insane, and hardcore. It’s one of the best horror movies of all time in my opinion, it’s pure visceral edge of your seat thrills.

The sequel, available on demand right now from Amazon or the Xbox marketplace, takes place roughly 10 minutes after the first movie.

The first part of the movie follows a SWAT team into the building. It’s good to know that the characters are well armed this time around, though it only helps them out a little, cause once the infected show up, well they’re pretty much fucked too.

It’s from the beginning that the movie fully embraces the religious overtones hinted at by the ending of the first, this might put off some people, but I loved it. I find religious themed horror to be some of the most effective thematically, cause it helps the plausibility when it’s based on something billions of people actually believe in.

We find that all the implications from the end of the first film are in fact, the reasoning behind the happenings. We got some full on, crazy as fuck demonic virus spreading around here. Demonic Zombies! SCORE!

So now that things are set firmly in the supernatural, it leaves us open for even crazier scary stuff. We got demon zombie children climbing on ceilings, demon zombie children using scary demon voices, and then some faith in God versus demon action. It turns out the technichian that the SWAT team had brought with them is really like a secret undercover Priest who doesn’t take no shit from anyone, demons included.

He’s just like “SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!”

Which happens quite a few times. He just fuckin blows away the aforementioned ceiling crawling zombie kid. It’s awesome. Faith and shotguns are a potent mix.

The movie does detour a bit when the focus shifts to some kids who’ve gotten into the building, who just happen to also have a camera. Iit kinda messes the pace up a little, but some of the coolest parts happen from their point of view; so it’s OK, cause it just adds to the craziness. During their section, there’s an amazing part involving a demon zombie getting a bottle rocket shoved into its head.

The two storylines eventually connect and then there’s more mayhem, some more demon zombies, some more folks die, and then there’s a pretty decent twist. It’s not exactly hard to figure out, but it’s a good twist none the less. The horrifyingly emaciated zombie girl from the end of the first film returns, things get even worse for the characters and ultimately nobody has a good day.

Overall the second film isn’t quite as good as the first, but still pretty great in its own way. It gives us more of what we loved about the first, zombies and first person point of view, and builds respectably onto the mythology.

If you’re looking for some fast paced horror movies to keep you thrilled [Rec] and [Rec] 2 are great options.