Michael Jackson’s This Is It
While I am a fan of MJ’s music and do think he was the greatest solo artist of all time, I am in somewhat of a quandry with this release. While I could easily watch him perform rehearsals on a constant loop for the rest of time, I have to question the morals of this documentary. The man was a great performer, but mentally and physically unwell for a long time before his death and had been accused of quite a large number of horrific acts. Also, a lot of people came out of this film on release saying how it showed how MJ was manipulated by those around him – surely buying this DVD would just fund these people? I think a different type of documentary would have still raised the same concerns but surely a more appropriate documentary could have been created with a little more insight into the man? This is still going to shift a massive stack of DVDs, because a lot of people idolised the man and some of the songs are phenomenal.
Listen to Episode 45 for more on this film. I have to say NOTHING could get me to see this movie. I really dislike Diablo Cody and my disdain for Megan Fox (less an actress, more of a prop) knows no bounds and the two of them together sounds like my idea of hell.
Really enjoyable but very flawed ‘stitchpunk’ movie which while being entertaining, is never challenging Pixar or Disney. The visuals are fantastic and the voice cast is a nice mix of well known actors , but the story is a little disjointed and it tries to appeal to the masses a little too much. It ends up being a little too creepy for small children and too childish in plot to fully work for adults. So while it is more than watchable, you can’t shake off the feeling that it could have been a lot better.
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever
I thought the original Cabin Fever wasn’t a bad little horror/thriller. It was a mix of traditional and teen horror and was well received after being made for only $1.5 million, and a great example of how to use a low budget well. Which is why it is such a shame that this terrible film shares it’s name. I think it was made for at least the same amount of money as the original, but boy, does it show! There were rumours that the Director Ti West (the director of the fantastic House of the Devil) disowned the film after claiming that the film was edited in such a way as to dwell on the gory elements of the film. Although without seeing his original version, I couldn’t tell whether studio intervention hurt the film, the fact that House of the Devil was so good does make me question it.
The Crazies (1973)
The George Romero original set in Evan’s City, Pennsylvania where a biological virus turns the townfolk insane. This is a classic, but under appreciated horror which hopefully will become more popular with the soon-to-be released remake starring Timothy Olyphant (which looks like it could also be very good, if the trailer is anything to go by)
Also out this week: Shinjuku Incident – The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard – Katalin Varga
Now I wasn’t planning to write two columns in a row about martial arts stars, but after seeing Ip Man last week, I decided I was in the mood to discuss the career of Donnie Yen. Added to the fact that Ip Man was choreographed by Sammo Hung and you have quite a nice link into this post, though this was simply a coincidence and should not be considered a stroke of genius.
Now as you might gather from the photo above, Donnie Yen is a bit of a poser. Unlike Sammo, the man rarely plays things for laughs (and when he does, such as in the film Wing Chun, the results are a bit awkward). Though this is not a problem for him, as he oozes charisma and is still one of Hong Kong cinema’s biggest bad-asses (the most technical term that I could come up with!). Western audiences might recognise Yen from his roles in Blade 2 or Shanghai Knights (his fight with Jackie Chan being a huge letdown for those waiting years to see the two duel). However he has been around since the Hong Kong New Wave in the mid 80s, making his debut in the rather ridiculous Drunken Tai Chi. And he pretty much still looks and moves the same as he did decades ago, which can be evidenced in recent films like S.P.L and Ip Man! Acting wise, he’s ok, but his fighting techniques have always remained stunning. Donnie Yen is quick and well versed in a variety of styles, so it’s always a pleasure to watch him fight (even when he’s matched up against lesser performers).
TOP 3 DONNIE YEN MOVIES
1- Iron Monkey- This film was probably the first time that Donnie Yen caught my attention and it remains one of his most well known movies. The wire work goes a little overboard, but for the most part it’s spectacular to watch, including a fight sequence involving umbrellas and another where Yen battles an opponent while standing on top of wooden poles. (Trailer)
2- Once Upon a Time in China 2- I think it takes a little courage in China for leading men to play villains. I know Jackie Chan has turned down a bunch of bad guy roles to protect his hero image, so it was great to see Donnie Yen play the evil Commander Lan. The movie itself is decent enough, but it’s the final fight sequence between Yen and Jet Li, which is a stand out in the whole of kung fu cinema (Donnie Yen also uses rolled up wet cloth as a weapon during the film, which further demonstrates his immense bad-ass status). (Trailer)
3- In the Line of Duty 4- This film is definitely just about the fights (barely a story), and don’t worry if you have not seen the first three in the series…it really makes no difference. But once again the moves displayed by Yen are a sight to behold and a great deal of the thanks can be attributed to his frequent director/choreographer/collaborator Yuen Woo-Ping (a man who is unfortunately often billed as simply being behind The Matrix fight sequences, seemingly ignoring most of his other amazing credentials…but more on him later). In the Line of Duty 4 is a brutal film and will make you wince at the beatings the actors receive…I hope these guys have a good health care system! (Trailer)
Special Mention- Ip Man- I’ve mentioned this film at the start of my post and while I don’t think it’s one of Donnie Yen’s better movies, it’s still extremely entertaining and even in his mid-40s, the man moves like lightning. It also tells a surprisingly interesting story about the first master of Wing Chun who taught the style openly and eventually becomes Bruce Lee’s teacher (a subject which is going to be covered in the sequel). Of course the film does take extreme liberties with the truth. It’s set during the Japanese occupation of China, and there were moments where I thought Donnie Yen’s character was going to rewrite history and end the war himself. However it’s a fun ride filled with short bursts of intense combat…not quite an action overload (though it’s more of a loose historical biopic anyway), but still very entertaining. (Trailer)