This year Warner Bros and DC Entertainment has unleashed a flurry of their banner television shows which should help ease the boredom of folks still in quarantine. With a lot of what’s been released, there are long awaited releases, and of course big releases of some of the biggest events of the year. COVID may have ground everything to a halt, but DC is still delivering on animated movies and season sets.
Based on Alan Moore’s influential graphic novel, “V for Vendetta” is a movie that’s managed to carry much of his influence in to film form. Despite his usual protests and dismissal of the big screen adaptation, “V for Vendetta” is a richly developed action thriller with immense substance and still relevant commentary about fascism. It’s stunning with James McTeigue and the Wachowskis manage to accomplish with such an engaging adaptation.
Director Savage has all the elements to create a film that’s gritty, grimy, contemporary and rich in texture, and yet, all we really receive is a film that’s just pretty good with a tone Savage can never seem to decide on at any instance. “Sensitive New Age Killer” wants to be many things at many times, and when it touches on all squares on the genre floor, it never seems to touch them with full satisfaction.
Nick Castle’s science fiction adventure film is one of my all time favorite “Star Wars” rip offs. It’s a film that fully embraces the hero’s journey trope and has a damn good time with it, bringing in robot clones, big headed aliens, and a pretty great mythology begging for a franchise. “The Last Starfighter” thankfully hasn’t lost any of its luster even in the midst of the glut of “Star Wars” wannabes, and it’s still a big personal favorite of mine.
The clear indicator that this is simply the lamest of the exports so far is the first twenty minutes where director Chalerm Wongpim asks us to enjoy the realism of the epic battle scenes, while also forcing us to swallow a scene of our hero Siang riding a large rocket in the air. He then takes part in one of the most boring fight sequences I’ve ever seen. Most notable is the choreography which is slow and clunky, while most of the scenes are so poorly edited that they look like rehearsals for actual scenes we’ll never get to watch. It’s the first time I’ve seen a flying knee kick and not gasp in amazement.
Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s “Karate Warriors” (aka “Killing Fist and Child”) is a solid action film mainly because of Sonny Chiba, and because Chiba’s charisma makes up for the overall plot’s shortcomings. His mystique is often entertaining and there are also the pre-requisite great fight sequences. Chiba is a force of nature here, and like “Yojimbo” he plays the rival gangs against one another for his own personal sake.
Yutaka Kohira’s “Sonny Chiba’s Dragon Princess” (Or “Dragon Princess,” or “Lady Karate,” or “Assassin Woman’s Fist”) is a misleading title often being boasted as a Sonny Chiba film, even though he has nothing more than a glorified cameo. The actual star, Etsuko Shiomi headlines as a girl whose father Agaki (Chiba) is confronted by two martial arts masters who challenge him to a fight, intent on taking his position as top karate master.
It’s hard to re-imagine or re-think the zombie movie, especially in the times where just about everyone has thought of everything. Director Il Cho’s “#Alive” is basically the sequel that “Train to Busan,” should have been, “#Alive” is such a great mix of “28 Days Later,” “The Night Eats the World,” and “Dawn of the Dead ’04.” While it doesn’t re-invent the wheel it manages to offer a fun, exciting, and creepy movie about the pros and cons of modern technology and the value of human contact.