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April 29th, 2015 Movie – The Gypsy Moon

the gypsy moon

Oh look. It’s another one of those movies that was originally a TV show. Had I known ahead of time, I probably would have watched them all together. But since these are in various box sets, and not all titled the same, I can’t quite do that. Well I could, but it would be a lot more effort and I honestly don’t feel like putting that much effort into it. Sue me. I will just watch/review them as they come up. So, let’s get right into today’s movie. The Gypsy Moon.

The plot: Space Ranger Rocky Jones and his crew (Winky, Vena Ray, Bobby, and Professor Newton) are on their way back to Earth when they come across a two moons connected by an atmospheric cloud. They almost collide with a jet that is traveling in the atmospheric cloud and follow it to one of the moons. Using their translator, they discover that the two moons have been at war with each other for years. The leader of one of the moons, Pozita, asks Rocky to destroy the other moon, Negato, but Rocky refuses. Rocky winds up going back and forth between the two moons and is able to work out a peaceful solution for the two moons before he and his crew head back to Earth. However, after being out of communication for so long, Rocky and his crew are believed dead. The evil Cleolanta has taken advantage of their disappearance to lure Secretary Drake into a trap. However, Rocky finds out what is going on and manages to foil Cleolanta’s plan and rescue Secretary Drake.

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I really don’t care for this series of movies. And that is pretty odd because I really enjoy the classic sci-fi movies from the 50’s. But I just can’t get into these movies/TV episodes. For one, the couple of fight scenes in the movie were rather poorly coordinated and just looked sloppy. The story was ok, being that there were two plots going on in this movie. The acting was pretty stiff and if it was more of a comedy where they were not taking themselves seriously, it would have worked better, but in this, it was just bad. One thing I did like was the bit with Bobby having to read the Odyssey and using examples from the story to help Rocky and the crew out of various situations. But aside from that, there was not much entertainment with this. Maybe some people that watched the original TV show will enjoy this, but this definitely won’t be for everyone.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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April 28th, 2015 Movie – Gymkata

gymkata

`Sooo, a while back me and several of my friends helped fund a kickstarter for Dad’s Garage, a local theater/improv comedy group. Our gift for our charity was to have a movie of our choice receive an MST3K treatment. So of course, the idea was to rip one of the many campy movies I own. So the question was posted as to which of my movies should be chosen. When someone chose this movie, I didn’t think much of it, but then a second person suggested it and I thought that we might have a problem because I did not actually own that movie. So on the off chance that this movie was selected, I picked up a copy for cheap and that is how I came to own Gymkata.

The plot: Gymnast Jonathan Cabot is asked by the Special Intelligence Agency to go to the country of Parmistan and participate in “The Game”, a dangerous, obstacle filled race. The prize for winning The Game, aside from the winner’s life, is one wish to be filled by Parmistan’s ruler, which the SIA want to use to build a satellite monitoring station in Parmistan. In order to prepare him for the competition, the SIA use two martial arts masters to train him before flying Cabot and the princess of Parmistan, Rubali, to the city of Karabal. In Karabal, Cabot is attacked by some thugs and Rubali is kidnapped and taken to their base. Cabot breaks into the base and rescues Rubali but has to be rescued by the SIA when his handler in Karabal turns out to be a traitor. Cabot and Rubali use a raft to get into Parmistan but they are met by some Parmistan warriors who, after a brief fight, knock out Cabot and take both him and Rubali to the palace. At the palace, Cabot is introduced to the the other participants in The Game as well as Zamir, the king’s right hand man. Aside from managing The Game, Zamir has bigger plans that involve overthrowing the king and marrying Rubali. The next day, The Game begins and aside from all the other danger of The Game that Cabot must contend with, he must also worry about Zamir, who broke the rules of The Game and is trying his best to kill Cabot. Cabot manages to make it through most of the dangers and finally arrives at a village full of the criminally insane, but before the lunatics can kill him, he is rescued by one of Zamir’s soldiers that turns out to be his dad, a former participant of The Game that was believed dead. Eventually Cabot is forced to face Zamir and manages to kill him. Back at the capital, Rubali manages to convince her father of Zamir’s plans and the two kill the guards inside the palace and head outside where the king orders his citizens to seize Zamir’s men. Suddenly someone shouts that someone is approaching the finish line and everyone rushes over to see Cabot, along with his wounded father, make it into the city.

Ok, this is on so many different “worst movie of all time” lists, and deservedly so. This is incredibly bad but it does kind of meet that “so bad it’s good” category. The plot was based on a book so that part was actually interesting. Kurt Thomas, the male lead, is an Olympic gymnast so the fight scenes with him were pretty decent but his acting was so stiff and wooden that it could have been done better with a puppet. Some of the fight scenes were definitely on the ridiculous side due to the “convenient” props available for him to use, such as a sawhorse and a high bar. I think the sawhorse in the middle of the insane village was what did this movie in for me. A bad movie but you might, and I stress the word “might”, find it entertaining.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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April 27th, 2015 Movie – The Guy With The Secret Kung Fu

guy with the secret kungfu

Yay. It’s another one of those “whooshy” martial arts films. You know, the ones where there is a a lot of whooshing sounds whenever the fighters throw a punch or kick. I don’t know why I find these movies so entertaining. Possibly because the sound effects help make a bad movie a lot more fun to watch. Take today’s movie for instance. Right off the bat there is a fight scene with a lot of the whooshing sounds. That, plus some of the dialogue during the scene, made me believe that this movie, The Guy With The Secret Kung Fu, would be a very entertaining movie. Hope I am right.

The plot: Hung Wen-ting and Hu Ah-piao, two brothers who are freedom fighters that try and help people but find themselves imprisoned. They are then offered a chance at freedom if they defeat the evil Dragon Gang. The first attempt to inflitrate the gang by having one of the brothers disguise himself as a potential husband for the gang’s leader, but they find themselves no match for her. They then attempt to rescue a girl who has been kidnapped by the gang’s sorcerer, but an unstoppable demon controlled by the sorcerer overpowers them and they find themselves prisoners in the sorcerer’s lair. The daughter of the local coffin maker makes a powder that incapacitates the demon, and the two heroes are able to defeat the sorcerer. The Dragon Gang battles the two men but are quickly dispatched leaving the two leaders of the gang, the female one that is the public leader, and the secret one that is a trusted adviser to the emperor. One brother manages to defeat the female leader and then goes to help his brother battle the other boss. With the help of an oversized coffin that the coffin maker had left, the two brothers are finally able to defeat the last member of the Dragon Gang.

This movie was way more entertaining that it should have been. Right off the bat, during the first fight scene, there is a moment where an old man playing a ruan (Chinese guitar) has the instrument knocked from his hands and one of the bad guys hands it back to him and tells him to keep playing. The story is probably the weakest part of the movie but that actually helps because if the plot was more serious, I don’t think the movie would have been as good. The fight scenes were pretty good with a lot of action, and some comedy, to keep you interested. The dubbing….was about as bad as you could expect but that only added to the humor. A surprise laugh was due to some bad editing at parts where you would see an action sequence and a second later see the exact same sequence due to a sloppy edit. I had to back up the DVD just to make sure I had actually seen that. This isn’t a good movie but it was very entertaining.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Flashback Review: February 12th, 2014 Movie – Akira

akira

Metaphorical showing of hands, how many kids that grew up in the late 80’s/early 90’s have watched this movie. How many more have at least heard of this movie. If you took a poll and asked if anyone heard of this movie, probably 80% would mention the red bike. Let’s face it. This was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, movies to bring anime to the forefront of American culture. Yes, there was anime shows and movies before this one, but this is the one that everyone usually talks about. It’s like the gateway drug into anime. So let’s get right into today’s movie, Akira.

The plot: In 1988, Tokyo is destroyed during the course of World War 3 and during the course of 31 years, the city of Neo-Tokyo is rebuilt over the ashes. One night, there is a battle between two rival biker gangs; the Capsules, led by Kaneda, and the Clowns. During the course of the fight, Kaneda’s friend Tetsuo crashes to avoid running into a strange, grey skinned boy named Takashi, an esper that escaped from a military laboratory. The military arrives and recapture Takashi while Tetsuo is taken to a nearby hospital. While Tetsuo is in the hospital, Colonel Shikishima and Doctor Onishi discover that he has similar esper abilities to Akira, the esper that destroyed Tokyo. Tetsuo escapes from the hospital and steals Kaneda’s bike in order to get him and his girlfriend out of the city but they are attacked by a group of Clowns before being rescued by Kaneda and the rest of the gang. The military grab Tetsuo again and Kaneda helps a group of radicals try to break in and free him. Meanwhile, Takashi along with two other espers, Kiyoko, and Masaru, try to kill Tetsuo, but he fends off their attack and goes on a rampage. Learning that Akira’s remains are buried underneath a nearby stadium, Tetsuo heads towards the stadium, killing a fellow gang member in the process. Hearing about the death of his friend, Kaneda, armed with an experimental laser, goes after Tetsuo but is unable to kill him. Colonel Shikishima fires an orbital laser at Tetsuo and manages to sever his arm but Tetsuo takes out the laser and then almost kills the Colonel but Kaneda saves him. As more psychic abilities begin awakening in Tetsuo, his body starts morphing into an giant mass which kills his girlfriend and almost kills Kaneda. The other espers arrive and manage to revive Akira in order to help stop Kaneda. In the end, Akira and the espers engulf Tetsuo in a ball of light and take him away, but the force of Akira’s power leaves a massive hole in Neo-Tokyo.. Kaneda wakes up next to Kei, the female radical that he saved, and fellow gang member Kai and the three ride off to see what is left of the city.

Akira was well received by the critics, earning an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many say that “Akira is distractingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime. It has long been considered a landmark film and the source of influence for many future manga and anime. It has also been the influence for several live action movies including big blockbuster films like The Matrix. There has been a lot of talk about a live action movie being made but as of now, it seems like that is unlikely to become a reality.

I love this movie. I remember the first time I saw this movie it was during a late night anime block on TNT and I made sure to stay awake so I could watch it. The animation was fantastic and incredibly well done. The story was well written and though I have not read the manga (I really should rectify that) I feel like it probably stays pretty close to the manga for a lot of the movie. What more is there to say. The story and the animation, that’s all you really need to focus on with anime. I think the best thing about Akira is that it still stands up today. You take all the advances that have been made in regards to animated features and this movie is as good as, if not better than, any movie that has come out since this was released. It is a great movie that everyone should watch at least once.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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April 26th, 2015 Movie – The Guy From Harlem

the guy from harlem

Whenever I see the title of a movie, or the movie’s poster, I get an idea of what the movie will be like. Then when I actually watch the movie, it’s always interesting to see how close my initial thoughts are to the actual movie. Take today’s movie, The Guy From Harlem, for instance. When I first saw the title, I had a feeling it would be some sort of blaxploitation film. When I saw the poster, that only strengthened my opinion. So when I finally watched it, sure enough, it was a blaxploitation film. Sometimes I hate being right about a movie.

The plot: Al Connors, a private detective in Miami, is contacted by an old friend in the C.I.A. to help him with an assignment. The C.I.A. has been asked to guard Mrs. Ashanti, the wife of an African Head of State, and fearing a leak in the C.I.A., they ask Al to go with her and pose as a married couple for the night. At the hotel they are staying at, Al notices something strange going on between the hotel masseuse and some men outside the building. His suspicions are confirmed when three men, working for a drug lord called Big Daddy, try to kidnap Mrs. Ashanti. Al is able to fight them off and takes Mrs. Ashanti to his girlfriend’s apartment which he claimed was safer for them to stay. After delivering Mrs. Ashanti to where she needs to go, Al plans to take the day off but he is almost immediately asked to handle another case. This time the client is Harry De Bauld, a local crime boss, who asks Al to find his daughter Wanda, who was kidnapped by Big Daddy’s men. Al meets with one of Big Daddy’s men and follows him to where they are holding Wanda and manages to rescue her and takes Wanda to his girlfriends place to hide out for the night. The next day, Al reunites Wanda with her dad and then heads out to meet with Big Daddy. The two men begin to fight and Al manages to kill Big Daddy and then leaves with Wanda.

Wow. This was just a craptastic movie. The filming was absolutely terrible and poorly shot, although that could just be the version on the DVD. The fight scenes were slow paced and so poorly choreographed that it was almost embarrassing to watch. I honestly don’t know how this qualified to be put in the Martial Arts DVD set. The acting was ok at best and there were a few funny lines but overall, I wouldn’t recommend watching this movie unless you really want to watch a Blaxploitation movie.

Rating: 1/2 out of 5

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April 25th, 2015 Movie – Grosse Pointe Blank

grosse point blank

I do love a good cult classic movie. You know, those movies that are not super blockbusters but everyone has seen. But there is more to it than that. A good cult classic is one of those movies that can develop an almost rabid following. Rocky Horror Picture Show is probably the best example of this, with all of the people that dress up for the showings and make it an interactive viewing experience that is greater than the movie itself. But not every cult classic has that extreme of a following. Some of those movies, like today’s movie Grosse Pointe Blank, are just great movies that people to enjoy watching.

The plot: Martin Blank is a professional assassin who is becoming depressed and bored with his work. When one of his best clients becomes upset over some botched assassinations, he is forced to take an assignment in his old hometown of Grosse Pointe. The timing also coincides with his 10 year high school reunion, which both his secretary and psychologist believe that he should go to. When he gets into town, he looks up his old girlfriend Debi, who is now a radio DJ, and runs into some other old friends before heading home only to find out that his home has been turned into an Ultimart and his mom is in a nursing home. But high school friends are not the only people looking for Martin. Grocer, a rival assassin who was trying to recruit Martin into his newly formed “union”, has set up Martin to be killed by two NSA agents after the hit is complete. There is also another assassin, Felix LaPoubelle, who is trying to kill Martin due to his involvement in the death of a dog during a previous job. Felix attacks Martin at the Ultimart and tries to kill him by leaving a bomb, but Martin manages to escape and save the clerk as well. Martin goes back to talk to Debi and manages to patch things up with her and agree to go to the reunion together. At the reunion, Martin socializes with his former classmates and believes that his reconnecting with Debi could mean a start to a new life. Felix attacks Martin in the school and Martin is forced to kill him, which horrifies Debi and shocks his friend Paul, who aids Martin in disposing of the body. When Debi confronts Martin later that night, she rejects his rationalization for what he does and storms off. Feeling dejected, Martin decides to look at the file on his target and realizes that Debi’s father is the target. When Grocer decides to kill the target himself, Martin winds up saving Debi’s father due to his love for Debi. After Martin manages to kill Grocer and his men, he and Debi wind up leaving Grosse Pointe together.

Grosse Pointe Blank was well received by the critics, earning a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many of them praised the chemistry between John Cusack and Minnie Driver. However, while Roger Ebert praised the dialogue in the movie, he wished for a better ending. The film would only wind up making little over $28 million at the box office, which was almost twice as much as the $15 million budget. The movie did have a great soundtrack, a mix of songs from the mid 80’s, that actually sold well enough to warrant a second soundtrack to be released later that year.

This is such a great movie. The writing in this movie was great, with a lot of fast and witty dialogue, especially between John Cusack and Dan Aykroyd. To be honest, I think this was one of the last movies starring Aykroyd where he was really funny. The fight scenes were pretty good, especially when you consider that John Cusack is not known for his action role status. The plot was pretty basic, and could have had a little more depth to it but the dialogue did help with that. A fun movie and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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April 24th, 2015 Movie – Grizzly

grizzly

The late 70’s was an interesting time for the sci-fi/horror genre, because a lot of movies were trying to copy the same formula that Jaws used. Take today’s movie for example. Ironically, the first time I saw this movie was years ago during an “animal attacks” week of movies which started with Ben, ended with Jaws, and had this movie sandwiched in between. Even back then, I noticed that a lot of the story seemed similar to Jaws. But see for yourself as I review today’s movie, Grizzly.

The plot: Two backpackers are preparing to break camp when one of them is attacked by an animal. The second girl manages to hide in a nearby cabin but the creature destroys the cabin and kills her as well. Chief Ranger Michael Kelly and photographer Allison Corwin accompany another ranger to look for the girls when they discover the bodies. The coroner informs Kelly that the girls were killed by a bear. Park Supervisor Charley Kittridge argues with Kelly’s wanting to close the park but agrees to have all of the hikers/campers out of the high mountain area but let people stay in the low area. He also blames Kelly and Arthur Scott, a naturalist that helped Kelly move all of the bears out of the area. Scott claims that the bear is not one of the ones that they moved, but rather an abnormally large grizzly. When a ranger and another camper are killed, Kelly and Kittridge argue again about closing the park and Kittridge instead lets hunters into the park in the hopes that they will kill the bear. Scott gets fed up with all of the political roadblocks Kittridge is using and decides to go after the bear himself. After two more people are killed and a child is severely mauled, Kittridge finally agrees to close the park and Kelly, along with helicopter tour pilot Don Stober, go hunting the bear. The two men use a deer carcass as bait but the bear runs off with the men chasing it, then it circles back to take the carcass. Scott comes across the remains of the carcass and plans to drag it towards Kelly and Stober’s position but the grizzly kills his horse and injures Scott. Scott awakens later to find himself half buried but when he gets up, the grizzly kills him. Kelly and Stobes locate the bear and try killing it but the bear kills Stobes before Kelly is able to use a bazooka to put an end to the killer beast.

Ok, let’s go ahead and compare Grizzly and Jaws. 1) They both have an experienced peace keepers that try to protect the people in their care. 2) Both of those peace keepers efforts are hampered by political superiors who refuse to close the endangered areas. 3) A bounty is placed on the animal which results in lots of people trying to kill the animal. 4) Both animals are killed in overly dramatic, explosive ways.

This was an entertaining movie.to watch but it is an ok movie at best. Aside from the similarities to Jaws, the story was pretty weak. Christopher George and Andrew Prine were both pretty good, and Richard Jaeckel was decent but nobody else really stood out. The effects when it came to the bear were pretty bad at first. You never see the bear for the first 30-40 minutes. Anytime the bear attacks someone, all you would see was a clawed arm (and a pretty fake one at that). Once you actually see the bear, there are a number of times where the color of the fur changes from black to brown, all in the same sequence. A couple of filming flaws but like I said, this is an entertaining movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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