action, crime, martial arts, movie, movie review, thriller

December 1st, 2017 Movie – The Street Fighter

the street fighter

You know, as hit or miss as the Martial Arts box set has been, I will say that today’s movie is one of the reasons I am glad I got it. Now as odd as it may sound, this movie came to my attention by way of another movie. See, in the movie True Romance (which I will be reviewing sometime next year), Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette’s characters were watching a triple feature of the Street Fighter movies and my interest was piqued by it and decided to rent today’s movie one day. So let’s see what all the hype was about with today’s movie, The Street Fighter.

The plot: Tateki Shikenbaru (Junjo) is awaiting execution in his cell when the police bring a priest, Takuma Tsurugi (Terry), in to offer him last rites. Junjo refuses at first but after staring into the Terry’s eyes, Junjo asks to be left alone with the priest. The police agree and after they close the door, Junjo comments about Terry knowing karate and says he wishes he had the time to challenge him and Terry says he has the time so they begin fighting. Terry wins by using his oxygen coma punch, a technique which Junjo recognizes, and Terry tells him to hold on for 10 minutes before he falls victim to the punch. The police come to lead Junjo to his execution but before he reaches the noose, he collapses and the police send for an ambulance. As the ambulance makes it’s way to the hospital, they stop when a man (Ratnose) is standing in the street and as some of the officers go to move him, Ratnose attacks them. After he deals with the police and doctor, Ratnose is joined by Terry and they drive off in the ambulance. As Terry and Ratnose are watching the news about the ambulance theft, Gijun and Nachi, Junjo’s brother and sister, arrive and ask to see Junjo. When Terry refuses to tell them where Junjo is until they pay him the rest of the money they owe him, Gijun attacks Terry but Terry easily beats him. Nachi pleads with Terry to give him more time and Terry agrees, but says he will need some collateral, grabbing Nachi and kissing her. Gijun becomes enraged and attacks Terry again, joined by Nachi, and during the course of the fight, Gijun does a jump kick at Terry but Terry dodges and Terry ends up jumping through the window and falling to his death. Elsewhere, Kendo Masaoka, the owner of a karate dojo, informs his niece Sarai that her father, a wealthy oil tycoon, has just died while in Cairo and some people arrive to take her home but Kendo says that it is better if she stay there where he and his students can protect her. Meanwhile, Terry sells Nachi to Renzo Metaguchi, who proceeds to sell her to a sex trafficker. Renzo then introduces Terry to two of his associates, who want to hire him to kidnap Sarai but Terry refuses after learning that they are part of the Yakuza. Worried that Terry will be a threat to them since he knows their plans, the Yakuza send some men to kill him but Terry easily beats them and sends them back with a message for the Yakuza’s boss. Terry then heads to the dojo and after making his way to Sarai’s room, challenges Kendo and the rest of the dojo to a fight. Terry easily defeats Kendo’s students but Kendo is able to get the upper hand against Terry. After knocking Terry down, Kendo says he recognizes his name as belonging to a karate master from long ago who wanted to combine karate with Chinese boxing and asks Terry if he is his son. Terry, recalling the events of his childhood, is able to continue the fight and ends up battling Terry to a standstill. As the two men recover, Terry tells him what is going on and Kendo agrees to let Terry take over guarding Sarai, despite Sarai’s objections. Elsewhere, the Yakuza is coming up with plans to kill Terry and kidnap Sarai, planning on sending several of their strongest assassins to handle the job. Junjo happens to be in the same bar as the Yakuza boss and when he discovers that Nachi is one of his prostitutes, he quickly heads to her. Nachi is happy to see that Junjo is still alive and says that he has to avenge their brother’s death. The Yakuza boss, thinking it a coincidence that Junjo happened to be there and discover his sister, decides to take advantage of the situation and agrees to give Junjo a job so that he can get his revenge on Terry. Some time later, Sarai is preparing to head back home to deal with her father’s company, with two students from the dojo accompanying her. Terry and Ratnose follow in another car but the Yakuza box them in and use a crane to capture them, then drive to a ditch and drop the car into it. Two Yakuza members head down to ensure he is dead but Terry quickly manages to kill them. Heading after Sarai, Terry kills one of the Yakuza assassins that is waiting for him, then tells Ratnose to head back to the car and keep the motor running. Continuing to look for Sarai, Terry encounters Junjo and Nachi, who are there to kill Terry, and Junjo tells him he is too late, as Sarai is being taken to Renzo’s place as they speak. Junjo attempts to fight with and kill Terry but Terry jumps out the window, landing in the back of the truck and tells Ratnose to get them out of there. Meanwhile, Sarai and her escorts arrive at Renzo’s place, where Sarai’s father’s worker reveals he double crossed them. Sarai and her guards try to leave but they find their way blocked by a blind swordsman, who manages to kill both of the students, but the students kill his knife throwing companion before they die. The next day, Terry and Ratnose take a motorboat to Renzo’s place, where Sarai sees them and waves out the window to tell them where she is. Sarai is about to be raped but Terry climbs up to her room and kills her attempted rapist by castrating him by hand. Terry then has Sarai climb down the rope and he joins her but when Renzo’s men chase after them, he tells Ratnose to get Sarai to safety while he holds them off. Terry takes out several of the guards before Renzo faces him and the two battle to a stalemate when the other Yakuza bosses say they need to question Terry to learn where Sarai is. Terry is tied up and tortured but refuse to talk when Ratnose, disobeying Terry’s orders, shows up and attempts to free him but is captured. Ratnose gives up Sarai’s location to try and spare Terry’s life but the Yakuza end up knocking Terry off the cliff and into the water below. Ratnose heads down and manages to save Terry but Terry pushes him away, saying he betrayed their duty and are no longer friends. Terry heads out to rescue Sarai, who is being taken to a freighter out at sea but he encounters the blind swordsman on the docks. Terry and the swordsman fight, during the course of which a man on a motorbike interferes and is attacked by the swordsman. Terry manages to take advantage of the distraction and kills the swordsman, then discovers that the motorbiker was Ratnose, who was trying to make amends to Terry. On the freighter, Sarai learns that her father’s business partner was behind her kidnapping, as he wants her to sign over control of her father’s company to him, so the Yakuza will have a monopoly in the oil business. Meanwhile, Renzo speaks with Junjo and says that if he can defeat Terry, he will turn over control of his organization to him. Terry makes his way out to the freighter and begins taking out the guards as he tries to locate Sarai. Terry eventually finds Sarai but is unable to rescue her and Renzo says to let Junjo deal with him. Junjo and Terry head out to the deck and start fighting as a storm buffets the ship. During the course of the fight, the bodyguard of Sarai’s father’s business partner tries to shoot Terry and Renzo kills him and the business father for interrupting the fight. Nachi attempts to stab Terry but when she misses, she grabs onto Terry and tells Junjo to stab Terry through her. Junjo reluctantly agrees, killing his sister and severely injuring Terry, then continues to press the attack. When Terry is knocked down, Sarai rushes over and tells him to get up but Junjo pushes her aside and goes to finish off Terry. As Junjo attempts to strangle Terry, Terry manages to grab Junjo’s throat and rip it out, then get to his feet, where Sarai and Renzo both help him keep his balance.

While there isn’t a critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the average movie goes loved this movie, giving it an 81% score on the site. The Street Fighter is famous for being the first movie to receive an X-rating in the U.S. due solely because of the violence in the movie (primarily because of the scene where Terry castrated a man with his bare hands). The movie, and it’s sequels, gained a lot of mainstream exposure after it was featured in the movie True Romance. 16 minutes were cut from the movie to give it an R rating, which is the version that was first released on home video. The movie has since been released in it’s entirety but is now in the public domain, where it can be downloaded for free.

This is precisely the type of film that you expected to see during the martial arts craze of the 70’s. Violence, violence, and more violence makes this a great movie to watch if you are in the mood for some almost nonstop fighting and action. Sonny Chiba was really good in his role but I will admit that some of his facial features during the fights were absolutely hysterical. The story was a little confusing after Terry’s first fight with Junjo, but it seemed to correct itself as the movie continued. The fight scenes were as brutal as you would expect from the title and while I think some modern movies look a little smoother, the choreography between Sonny Chiba and his opponents was pretty good. If you are a fan of martial arts movies, this is definitely one of those movies that you should watch, if for no other reason than the cultural impact it had.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 26th, 2017 Movie – Steel (1997)

steel 1997

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself exactly how a movie gets made. Of course, that also begs the question on how I find myself owning those same movies. Now I would actually say that this is the how I wound up owning today’s movie but that would be a lie, as I had actually sought this out and bought it on purpose. The reason for that is simple, my friends and I were discussing bad movies and this one came up and I, being in a bit of a superhero mood, I decided to buy it. So lets have some fun with today’s movie, Steel (1997).

The plot: John Henry Irons, along with his partner Susan “Sparky” Sparks, designs and tests weapons for the U.S. Military. After conducting a test on a new laser rifle, which easily disables a tank, Irons and Sparky are checking over the results on the rifle’s performance. Meanwhile, Lt. Nathaniel Burke is secretly talking with Senator Nolan, who is observing the tests, and tells her he has been making some of his own modifications to the weapons to make them even more powerful. The team heads to the next testing site, consisting of an abandoned village, where the plan on using a sonic cannon to take down a wall. Burke asks to fire the cannon and pushes the power setting to it’s maximum. Irons notices this and tries to stop him but Burke fires the weapon, taking out the building he was aiming for but the sonic blast bounces back and strikes the building they are in, causing part of the roof to collapse. At a military tribunal, Irons testifies that Burke caused the accident which killed Nolan and paralyzed Sparky. Burke is dismissed from the military and blames Irons for ruining his career. Afterwards, Colonel David wants to get back to work designing weapons but Irons resigns his commission, upset that his weapons injured Sparky. After going to the hospital to check on Sparky and giving her his address, Irons heads back home to Los Angeles to live with his younger brother Martin and his Grandma Odessa, unaware that Burke heads there as well. Burke goes to an arcade manager named Big Willy Daniels, who is known to sell weapons to gangs on the side, and offers a proposition for Daniels to loan him the seed money to start producing weapons and he will get half the profits from the sales. Burke builds his first prototype and has a worker demonstrate it for Daniels and the gun shorts out, causing a horrible burn to the kid’s face but Daniels is impressed by the damage the weapon had caused and tells Burke to keep working on them. Burke kills off Daniels’ assistant Duvray, who was critical of Burke, but spares Daniels’ bodyguard Singer and convinces him to work with him. Singer organizes a test of his weapons by helping a gang rob a bank, using the new weapons to easily break into the building and the vault. Irons and Martin are riding to a town meeting with Irons’ friend Norma, who is a police officer, when she is alerted to the bank robbery and heads off to go handle the call. When they arrive there, Irons is shocked to find his weapons are being used to commit the crime and he is forced to rescue Norma when her car is flipped over and catches fire while she tries to stop the robbers. When Irons sees a straggler, Cutter, trying to escape, he chases after him and eventually catches up to the kid and asks him where he got the weapons but he is shot by Slats, the leader of the gang, and the two crooks escape. The next day, Irons contacts David to find out how his weapons got into the hands of a street gang but David tells him that all of his weapons are accounted for. Irons then asks Martin about the gang and heads to their hangout to question them about where they got the weapons but Slats refuses to answer his questions. After Irons leaves, Slats calls Burke to tell him about Irons visit and Burke tells him to keep Cutter out of site but after he hangs up, Burke tells Singer to kill Cutter as an example to the others. Irons tries contacting Sparky and finds out that she has transferred to another V.A. hospital. After going to visit her, and finding her wallowing in self pity over being paralyzed, Irons takes her out of the V.A. to help him. Heading back to L.A., Irons takes Sparky to his Uncle Joe’s junk yard, where he has a workstation set up, and he convinces her to help him build weapons to take out the weapons being used by the gangs. Meanwhile, Martin gets a job at the arcade, where Burke takes over his training. With Sparky and Joe’s help, Irons fashions himself a suit of armor, while Sparks and Jo make him a weapon, shaped like a sledgehammer. Irons goes for a test run on his new weapon and armor, stopping a mugging and a gang shootout without any problems. The gang members all run away but when the cops show up, due to the gunfire, they attempt to arrest Irons. Irons manages to get away, though part of his armor falls off and his grappling cable breaks in the process, and safely makes it back to their hideout in the junkyard. The next day, Martin is talking about Steel, what the media is dubbing the costumed Irons, when Burke talks to him about it, then meets up with Slats and tells him to keep an eye out for the man of steel. As Steel and Joe head out on patrol, Singer, Slats, and some more of Slats’ gang head out and attempt to rob the Federal Reserve, while Burke films what they do so he can use it to sell the weapons on the internet. Steel shows up to try and stop the robbery and Burke, watching the film, notices him talking to someone and wonders who it is. Steel’s weapons have no effect on the crooks armored vehicle, as the armor is the same as his, and he is knocked back by a blast from the sonic cannon. When the police arrive and attempt to arrest Steel, Slats takes out the police helicopter and Steel is forced to save the police officer before the debris falls on him while Singer and the gang make their escape. Steel is forced to run as well as the cops chase him but he is able to get away and drive his motorcycle into Joe’s modified truck. Later, Sparky is tending to Irons’ injuries and chastising Joe for pushing him too hard. Meanwhile, Burke has the footage of the robbery sent out to the TV stations, prompting various criminal organizations to find out how to get the weapons, and then calls the police with an anonymous tip on where to find Steel. Irons returns home and is questioned by his Odessa on whether or not he is Steel when the SWAT team burst into the home and arrest Irons, finding one of Burke’s prototype weapons in his basement. Irons is placed in a line up and the detective in charge asks the people that Steel had helped after the mugging if they recognize him but, feeling like Steel was doing good work, say they don’t recognize him, nor does the police officer that he rescued. Irons is kept in holding for questioning but Sparky and Joe get the D.A’s signature and voice pattern so that Sparky can call and get Irons released. That night, Steel and Joe go looking for the site of where the auction is taking place and Sparky is standing by to call David to arrest them all but Burke’s men show up and capture her. Losing contact with Sparky, Steel and Joe continue to head out and locate the site of the auction and Steel makes his way inside, telling Joe to try getting a hold of Sparky but if that fails, contact David and tell him where to go. Steel heads inside but is soon captured by Burke’s men, who threaten to kill Sparky if he doesn’t surrender. Burke then makes his sales pitch, killing Daniels and turning on Slat in the process but Steel taunts him about having more firepower in his hammer than Burke has in his weapons. Burke falls for the taunts and activates the hammers electro-magnet, sending the hammer back to Steel, while Sparky reveals that she added some weapons to her wheelchair and begins attacking Burke’s men. Steel tells Sparky to get out of there and he goes after Burke, who shows that he has Martin as another hostage and as Steel saves Martin, they find themselves locked in a tool shed, with Singer throwing a grenade inside. With no way out, Martin points to a hole in the roof and tells steel to throw it, to which Steel says he never makes those shots, but manages to get the grenade through the hole, then protects Martin from debris while Singer is killed in the explosion. Burke unveils his latest weapon and attempts to use it on Steel but the blast ricochets off of Steels armor and strikes Burke, launching him back into the warehouse where falling debris falls on him and kills him while steel drives the armored vehicle out of the warehouse so they can get away. David and his soldiers arrest all of the criminal organizations and the next day attempts to contact Irons and convince him to come back to work for him but Irons refuses. Later, Irons, Joe, Sparky, and Martin go to Odessa’s home, which she has converted to a restaurant, and Sparky reveals one last modification to her wheelchair; one that allows her to stand upright, as Irons hugs her.

Steel (1997) was heavily panned by the critics, holding a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Steel is a badly-acted movie that indulges not only in superhero cliches, but also the sappy TV-movie-of-the-week ones.” Shaquille O’Neal had to do his own stunts for the movie, as the director was unable to find a stunt double tall enough to fill in for O’Neal. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $1.7 million off of a $16 million budget.

This is an absolutely horrible movie for a lot of reasons. Shaquille O’Neal was ok playing Irons, while Judd Nelson made a great bad guy in Burke. I also thought it was funny to have Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe, with that comment about him liking the hammer’s shaft being really funny. The story was interesting in the fact that the character Steel was a member of the Superman family but they decided to make no reference or mention of Superman at all for this movie (although Shaq’s Superman tattoo was visible in several scenes). Aside from that, the character’s origin was very close to the origin of the character in the comics, with some slight differences obviously. I also liked that they worked in the whole Shaq being bad at free throws bit into the movie, but their making it a pivotal moment was a little much. The special effects were average to be honest and could have been a lot better but I have seen worse. This is not a good movie but can be funny in the “so bad, it’s good” style, or just torture if you want to show it to someone you hate.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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November 2nd, 2017 Movie – SPL: Kill Zone

spl

From a martial arts movie, to an anime movie, and back to another martial arts movie. I sense a pattern here. Now I remember first hearing about today’s movie years ago when I was going through a pretty rough patch in my life and, deciding on a change of pace from my usual sci-fi B-movies that I was drowning my sorrows in, decided to check it out. Needless to say, I obviously liked the movie as I own it so let’s see if SPL: Kill Zone is still as good of a movie as I felt it was back then.

The plot: In 1994, Inspector Chan Kwok-chung is escorting a witness and his family to court in order to testify against Wong Po, a notorious gangster. However, there car is t-boned by another car driven by an assassin named Jack, who ensures that the witness is dead. With the witness dead, the police do not have enough evidence to hold Wongin custody and he is released. Chan survived the crash, as did the witness’ young daughter Hoi-yee, and Chan decides to adopt her due to his guilt over her parents’ death. While visiting the hospital for a check-up, Chan is told that he has a brain tumor and while there is a chance to remove it with surgery, the odds of success are slim. Meanwhile, Hoi-yee had wandered off and encounters Wong, who was sitting in the hallway after being told of his wife’s second miscarriage. Hoi-yee offers Wong a piece of candy but as he speaks with her, Chan comes and pulls her away from Wong, then tells him that as long as he lives, he will come after him. Chan tells the members of his team (Inspectors Kwok Tze-sum, Lo-Kwun-wah, and Lee Wai-lok) about the cancer and they dedicate themselves to trying to bring Wong down, sending one officer undercover to infiltrate Wong’s gang. Three years later, Chan is set to retire in two days and turn over his unit to Inspector Ma Kwun and the police chief asks Chan not to cause problems before he retires. Chan and his team head out and one of Wong’s drug rings and afterwards, they head out to the beach with Hoi-yee. Ma meets up with them there and talks with Chan about his team while on the shore, Chan’s team are dismissive of their new boss and make plans to take care of Hoi-yee when Chan dies. That night, Chan is showing Ma the portion of the city that they are in charge and as they discipline a punk for throwing a bottle at a police officer, they encounter Wong, who taunts Chan by throwing his own bottle on the ground, causing several other thugs to do the same. The next day, Chan and the team arrive at the scene of a murder and discover that it is his undercover officer. At the station, a young man comes forward with a video tape showing the murder and Wah takes the tape to show Chan. Chan calls Lok and Sum into his office, excluding Ma, and they watch the tape to see Wong beating the officer with a golf club before he is shot by one of Wong’s henchmen. Knowing they can’t arrest Wong for murder, Wah suggests erasing the part of the tape showing who really killed the officer. Chan orders Wah to check on the witness, Lok to find the henchman who actually killed the officer, and Sum to come with him to arrest Wong. Ma enters the office to find out what is going on and they show him the altered tape and Ma goes with Chan to arrest Wong. They find Wong at the hospital heading up to see his one month old son and when they try to arrest him he starts fighting with them but they eventually overpower him and arrest him. Meanwhile, Wah is intimidating the witness to say that Wong was the one to kill the officer and ensuring that there isn’t another copy of the tape but after he leaves, the witness reveals he has another tape. Later, Chan and the others go to where the real killer is hiding and after chasing and beating him down, they kick him off a roof. Ma arrives in time to see them kill the man and after a brief fight, confront’s Chan about his framing Wong for the murder. Chan explains his reasoning for doing this, saying that they tried doing it by the books but were going nowhere, and leaves Ma. Ma is conflicted about what to do, as he had once beaten a drug dealer so bad that he is now a mentally handicapped homeless man and Ma’s guilt causes him to check up on him every week. Ma returns to the station to find several of Wong’s henchmen trying to confess to the murder and Ma tells the officers to take their statements but doesn’t turn in Chan or his team. Knowing they need a gun to frame Wong with, Lok contacts a dealer that is not associated with Wong and goes to get a gun from him and Ma accompanies him. Chan heads down to evidence to get the bullet from the crime scene while Sum goes to see his daughter and Wah comes with him. As Chan is in evidence, Wong’s men show up with the witness and the unaltered tape and the chief is forced to release Wong. The chief then goes to arrest Chan but Chan, sensing something went wrong, manages to avoid them with the help of Uncle Ba, an officer who is friends with Chan. Lok and Ma go to meet with Lok’s contact and when he demands more money, Ma goes to get it. While he is gone, another man shows up to talk with the dealer and after he leaves, the dealer and his friends suddenly race out of the area a few minutes later, locking Lok inside. Lok is approached by Jack, who proceeds to fight and stab Lok, but when Ma shows up and starts shooting at him to drive him off, Jack uses Lok as a shield, then slashes his throat before making his escape. Ma calls Chan to tell him what happened and Chan tells him to go check on Wah and Sum but he is too late as Jack shows up at the square where they are at and attacks them both. When Ma arrives there, Wah is still alive but barely and Wah tells Ma that they took the drug money from the raid and hid it in Lok’s car in order to help raise Chan’s daughter. Chan is finally able to sneak out of the station and meets up with Ma, who tells him what his friends did. Chan says if they give back the money, Wong will call off his men so Ma goes to get the money but Chan heads to Wong’s place with a bag full of newspaper clippings, claiming it is the money, and proceeds to attack Wong’s men but he is attacked and injured by Jack. Meanwhile, Ma gets the money from Lok’s car but as he goes to leave, he is confronted by the chief over Chan’s actions and Ma’s knowledge of them so Ma hands over his badge and gun, quitting the force. Ma then calls Wong and tells him he has the money and will turn it over so long as Chan is still alive and Wong tells him to hurry. When Ma gets to the building, he is met by Jack outside and the two start fighting, with Ma using a metal baton to counter Jack’s knife. After a brutal fight, Ma is able to beat Jack, killing him with his own knife. Ma heads inside and, seeing Chan’s body strung up, begins fighting with Wong. During the course of their fight, Wong’s wife calls and Ma, who has Wong in a choke hold, loosens his grip so that Wong can speak with her and Wong tells her to wait downstairs in the car. After she hangs up, the two continue fighting and Ma eventually wins, throwing Wong into the tower of liquor bottles and seemingly killing him. Wong then grabs a bottle of vodka and pours himself a drink then stares at Chan, who asks if he plans on cutting him down. Suddenly, Wong recovers and attacks Ma, pushing him out the window and Ma ends up landing on Wong’s car, killing his wife and and child when the roof collapses on them. Wong stares down the window and recognizes the car, just as his phone starts ringing with his wife’s ringtone, and Wong collapses into a chair. Some time later, Chan is seen at the beach with Hoi-yee and as she plays in the surf, Chan succumbs to his tumor and he ends up dying on the beach.

When I first heard about it, this movie was advertised as one of the best martial arts films of the century and I have to say, the claim isn’t far off. The acting was pretty good, with Donnie Yen (Ma), Simon Yan (Chan), and Sammo Hung (Wong) doing great jobs in their roles. The plot was really good, using a great deal of drama that only accented the brief times where the action scenes took place. The dilemma that Ma faced in deciding if he wanted to help Chan in his vendetta to bring down Wong under any circumstances was made even more poignant in the scene where he hung out with the drug dealer he crippled, as he deals with the results of his actions face to face. As for the fight scenes, they were great, with some of the fastest paced choreography I have seen in a long time. The fight between Ma and Jack (Jing Wu) was incredible and the weapon movement between the two was amazing. Whether you are a martial arts fan, a crime movie fan, or a combination of both, this movie is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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October 30th, 2017 Movie – The Spirit

the spirit

Ok, back to the comic book movies. Now this is one of those movies that looked interesting on a couple of different levels. I mean, it is a Frank Miller movie and since Sin City and 300 are both some of my favorite movies, you would think that I would be all about seeing this movie in the theaters. However, I honestly had no interest in seeing it, and this was before I heard the critic’s reviews or my friend’s comments about it. So if I had no interest in seeing this movie and my friends who did see it said it was bad, why would I even buy this movie, you ask? Well, I have to blame a random Blockbuster trip for the fact that I own today’s movie, The Spirit.

The plot: Denny Colt is having a dream about Lorelei, the Angel of Death, who says that he escaped her grasp but she will always be nearby, when he is woken by a call from Detective Sussman, who says something is happening in the swampland that could involve the Octopus, Colt’s nemesis. Donning his garb as The Spirit, he heads out to meet with Sussman, but stops to rescue a woman who is being mugged. The Spirit checks on the woman to see if she is ok, removing the knife one of the muggers stabbed him with as she watches, then continues on his journey, stopping a patrolman named Liebowitz to catch a ride. At the swampland, Sussman is looking around when a woman rises up out of the water and points a gun at him and shots are fired. When the Spirit and Liebowitz arrive, the find Sussman dying from his gunshot wounds and a flashback shows that as he was facing the woman, the Octopus shot him in the back. The Octopus then continues firing at the woman, who dives back into the water to meet up with her partner Mahmoud, who had found two chests in the water. The Octopus continues firing into the water, hitting Mahmoud and severing the rope tying the two chests together as the woman tries to swim away with them. The Octopus then dives into the water and retrieves the other chest and as he surfaces, he sees the Spirit and Liebowitz tending to Sussman. As Liebowitz leaves to radio for help, The Octopus attacks the Spirit, telling his cloned henchmen to take the chest to the truck, driven by his assistant Silken Floss, while he deals with the Spirit. The two men beat each other to the point of exhaustion until one of the clones shoots the Spirit as he starts to get up again. Octopus calls an end to the fight and as he leaves, tells the Spirit that they are alike, asking him if he knows why he can take so much punishment.As the Octopus leaves, the Spirit passes out and he regains consciousness to find Dr. Ellen Dolan, his lover, tending to his wounds. As the two start to argue about his recklessness, Ellen is called away to tend to Sussman and as she works on him, Sussman motions with his eyes at the Spirit, who grabs the locket that Sussman had grabbed off of the woman. As the Spirit goes to leave, Commissioner Dolan talks to him, arguing with the Spirit about his obsession with the Octopus. After leaving the scene, the Spirit looks at the locket and realizes it came from Sand Saref, his childhood sweetheart, and he decides to go look for her and find out what she knows. Meanwhile, the Octopus opens the chest he grabbed only to discover that it contains the fabled Golden Fleece, and not the Blood of Heracles that he expected. Killing several of his henchmen, the Octopus realizes that Sand must have the Blood and decides to arrange an exchange. Meanwhile, Sand and Mahmoud approach the dealer that sold them the Fleece and after taking back all of their money, plus all of his, he explains that he had no choice but to let the Octopus know about the shipment, then kills himself after they leave. The next day, Ellen is checking over the Spirit, who has healed from all his wounds, and they start kissing before Dolan and rookie cop Morgenstern show up and pull the Spirit away. As Dolan and Morgenstern take him to the dead fence’s office, they tell him about Sand Saref, who is suspected of killing the fence but the Spirit doesn’t believe she killed him as she had never killed anyone before during any of her heists. The Spirit goes to look for Sand and finds out where she is staying approaching her in her penthouse as she steps out of the shower. She tells him to mind her husband, who died while sampling the blood in the vase, and the two end up arguing over her actions. As the Spirit brings up her past and childhood dreams, she tells him that only one person knows about her dreams and she pushes him out the window. The Spirit plummets towards the street but is saved when his jacket snags onto a statue on the side of the building. He receives a call from Morgenstern, giving him a clue to the Octopus’ whereabouts and he heads to a nearby salt factory. As he makes his way to the Octopus’ lair, he is confronted by Floss, who kisses him before injecting him with a sedative. When the Spirit comes too, he finds himself tied to a chair and is confronted by Plaster of Paris, an assassin that the Octopus hired to kill the Spirit. The Octopus and Floss then arrive and explain how they created a serum that brought him back to life, then the Octopus injected himself with it. However, the serum is unstable so the effects could fade at anytime, which is why the Octopus wants the Blood of Heracles in order to become immortal. The Octopus orders Plaster to kill the Spirit but the Spirit is able to seduce Plaster into freeing him and he attacks the Octopus and drops a statue on him. The Spirit and Plaster escape but then Plaster stabs the Spirit out of jealousy in hearing Sand’s name. The Spirit stumbles to the water’s edge and falls in, where he is approached by Lorelei and he starts to embrace her but as he thinks about the women is leaving behind, he pushes Lorelei away and swims back to the surface, where he blacks out and is taken to Ellen’s hospital. The Spirit recovers and heads off with Dolan, Morgenstern, and the other police. Sand attends the meeting with the Octopus and tells Floss that she should leave before the Octopus kills her too. As the Octopus approaches the vase, the Spirit shows up and the Octopus starts firing at him, while Floss decides to leave the scene. The Octopus continuously fires at the Spirit, pulling at increasingly larger guns, until he finally knocks him down. At that point, the police head out and begin attacking the Octopus and his henchmen, eventually bringing him down. As he starts to regenerate and reaches for the vase, Sand shoots it before he can drink from it. The Spirit then gets up, revealing he was wearing a bullet proof vest and jams a grenade into the Octopus’ stomach. The Spirit pulls the pin, intending for both of them to die in the blast but Sand uses the Fleece to shield them both from the blast. As they recover, the Spirit hands Sand back her locket and she puts it on, then recognizing the Spirit as Denny, she kisses him before leaving. The Spirit approaches Dolan, who wants to arrest Sand but the Spirit convinces him to let her go for her part in saving them. The Spirit then approaches Ellen, who is upset at seeing him kissing Sand but he explains that Sand was an old flame but she is the one he wants and she forgives him, though she is still jealous about the effect he has on women while elsewhere, Floss finds one of Octopus’ toes crawling towards her and she picks it up and leaves with the last two clones, Adios and Amigos.

The Spirit was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though its visuals are unique, The Spirit‘s plot is almost incomprehensible, the dialogue is ludicrously mannered, and the characters are unmemorable.” Based on the 1940’s comic strip, Frank Miller decided to omit the character of Ebony White, the Spirit’s sidekick, partially because Miller felt the Spirit didn’t need a sidekick but largely due to his being typically portrayed as a 1930’s racial stereotype.

Yeh, this was a pretty disappointing movie. The acting was ok, with Samuel L. Jackson giving a pretty funny performance as the Octopus, but I was kind of unimpressed with everyone else. Actually scratch that. I also really enjoyed Louis Lambardi as the Octopus’ cloned henchmen and thought they did a great job of showcasing the whole “copying something too many times makes for copies of a lesser quality”. I also thought it was funny that all of their names ends in os, but the last scene with Adios and Amigos was a bit much. Having never read any of the comic strips, I have no idea how closely the plot followed the source material. I do think the story was kind of a mess, mainly with the pacing, while the narration was a little too over the top. I will say that this movie did have a good sense of visual appeal, similar to how Sin City was shot but with more flesh tones to the characters which just added to the noir feel that the movie was going for. As for the special effects, they were pretty good, being over the top in a comic book fashion several times, but I felt they could have done more with them. Honestly, I was disappointed with it but others might find it entertaining.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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comedy, crime, movie, movie review

October 9th, 2017 Movie – Snatch

snatch

When it comes to today’s movie, the one thing that really stands out in my mind was Madonna’s way to advertise for it. Back when this movie had come out, Madonna had recently married the director, Guy Ritchie. I don’t know remember when it happened exactly (and I am honestly too lazy to try and look it up) but at some point Madonna was photographed wearing a t-shirt that just said “Snatch” on it. Now, with this being Madonna, a lot of people, myself included, thought this meant something dirtier than what it really was but that was not the case. She was simply helping to promote her husband’s latest movie, which happened to be titled Snatch.

The plot: 4 men, led by Franky Four Fingers, rob a diamond exchange in Antwerp, stealing an 86 karat diamond from the vault. Franky heads to London to fence the diamond and before he leaves, one of his men tells him to look up an ex KGB agent named Boris the Blade in order to get a weapon. Meanwhile, Turkish, an amateur boxing promoter, is trying to organize a fight for his boxer, Gorgeous George, and is forced to work with Brick Top, a known gangster, who agrees to the fight so long as George throws the fight. Franky lands in London and calls Cousin Avi, an American gangster that he works for, who tells Franky to go see Doug the Head to get a price on the diamond and warns him to stay out of the casinos. At the same time, one of Franky’s men calls Boris and tells him that he is sending Franky to him to get a gun and he should steal the diamond, but not to do it himself so it doesn’t get traced back to him and Boris says he knows some people that he can use. When Franky goes to see Boris, Boris gives him a gun in exchange for placing a bet at a particular bookie’s place. Meanwhile, Turkish sends his partner Tommy and George to go get a new Caravan trailer from a group of Pikeys (gypsies). When the Pikeys trick Tommy into buying a worthless Caravan, George gets upset and ends up getting into a fight with the Pikey’s leader, Mickey O’Neil, who is a bare knuckles boxing champion and knocks out George with one punch. Boris goes to see Sol, a local pawnshop owner/fence and hires him to rob Franky and Sol has his friends Vinny and Tyrone help him. Meanwhile, Turkish is upset about George being hurt and decides to hire Mickey to take his place in the fight. When he tells Brick Top about the change, Brick Top is upset and tells Turkish to make sure Mickey throws the fight in the 4th round. Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone head over to stake out the site of the match and wait for Franky but Tyrone accidentally backs their car into the van that Franky is changing in, knocking him unconscious. Avi learns from Doug that Franky is going to an illegal boxing match so he flies to London and heads to the fight with Doug to stop Franky and get his diamond. Sol and Vinny go try to rob the bookie only to find that all the bets were called off and they end up trapped when the clerk activates the security room features but Tyrone simply opens the door from the outside and they all leave. As they go to leave, Tyrone pulls away from the van but when he sees Franky emerge from it, he knocks him out and throws him in the car. Inside the arena, Turkish explains to Mickey that he needs to throw the fight but Mickey ends up knocking out the fighter as soon as the fight starts. Later that night, Boris goes to see Sol and the others to get the case but they tell him they want half of the diamond’s worth, refusing the money he offered them. Boris ends up shooting Franky and when he learns they put the diamond back in the briefcase, he chops of Franky’s hand and walks away with the briefcase. Brick Top confronts Turkish about the money he lost and tells him he wants to use Mickey in another fight but this time, Mickey has to throw the fight. Turkish and Tommy go to see Mickey and try to convince him to take the fight and Mickey agrees to fight in exchange for a new Caravan for his mother, which Turkish and Tommy are forced to buy after they lose a bet with Mickey. Meanwhile, Brick Top asks his men if they recognize the men that tried to rob his bookie office and when they recognize Tyrone, they capture him and force him to tell him about the others. Brick Top and his men head to Sol’s shop and plan on killing them but Sol says he can get him a giant diamond so Brick Top says they have 48 hours to deliver it. At Doug’s suggestion, Avi hires Bullet-Tooth Tony to help him find Franky and they manage to track the diamond to Boris. Meanwhile, Turkish tells Bricktop Mickey’s demands and how he can’t meet them since Brick Top took all of Turkish’s money and Brick Top proceeds to smash up Turkish and Tommy’s arcade and burns Mickey’s mother’s trailer with her inside. When they hear what happened, Turkish and Tommy head over to the campsite to pay their respects and Mickey says he will do the fight. Avi, Tony, and Avi’s bodyguard Rosebud confront Boris and capture him, though Rosebud is injured in the process, and as they leave Boris’ house, they are followed by Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone. At the same time, Turkish and Tommy are returning from the campsite when Tommy throws Turkish’s drink out the window, which splashes onto Tony’s car and causes them to wreck, killing Rosebud. Boris manages to get out of the trunk but he is struck by Sol, Vinny and Tyrone, who end up wrecking. Avi and Tony head to a nearby bar to get cleaned up and Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone follow them and confront Tony but he notices they are using replica guns and he chases them off when he pulls out his Desert Eagle. As Sol and the others leave, they run into Avi and try to grab the case from him when Boris, who had survived being hit by their car, shows up with an assault rifle and demands the case. Tony hears the commotion and begins firing his gun through the wall, hitting Boris and Tyrone but Sol and Vinny escape with the case. Sol and Vinny plan on selling the diamond but Avi and Tony track them down and force them to give it back but Vinny’s dog swallows the diamond and as Avi starts shooting wildly at the dog, the dog jumps out a window and Avi accidentally kills Tony so Avi decides to call the job a loss and flies back to New York. Meanwhile, Mickey enters the fight and knocks out Brick Top’s fighter so Brick Top orders his men to kill the rest of the Pikeys but finds out that the Pikeys killed all of his men. As he goes to kill Mickey, Turkish, and Tommy himself, Brick Top ends up being killed and Mickey leaves with the rest of the Pikeys. When they go to the camp site the next day, Turkish and Tommy find it deserted. The police show up and question why they are there and Turkish spots Vinny’s dog, which had been bought from the Pikeys and had returned to the camp site, and says they were walking the dog, then the two leave with the dog, passing Sol and Vinny who are being arrested for having Franky’s body in their trunk. Tommy convinces Turkish to let him keep the dog and they take it to the vet, where they find the diamond in it’s stomach, so they take the diamond to Doug, who calls Avi, who flies back out to London to retrieve the diamond.

Snatch met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though perhaps a case of style over substance, Guy Ritchie’s second crime caper is full of snappy dialogue, dark comedy, and interesting characters.” Brad Pitt’s role and character were written specifically for him, as Pitt had called Guy Ritchie and wanted to be a part of his movie but after Ritchie agreed, he realized he didn’t have a part for him so he rewrote the script to include Mickey. The indecipherable speech of Mickey was brought about by Pitt’s having a hard time mastering a London accent, but also as a counter to some critics’ complaints about the accents in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. The movie was a box office hit, earning $83.6 million off of a $10 million budget.

This is such a funny movie and definitely one that should be watched, even if you don’t like British movies. The acting was really good all around, with Jason Statham (Turkish) and Brad Pitt (Mickey) were great in their roles, while Vinnie Jones (Tony), Dennis Farina (Avi), Rade Serbedzija (Boris), Benicio Del Toro (Franky), Alan Ford (Brick Top), and Lennie James (Sol) were also good in the smaller roles they had. The story was very well written, having two fairly intricate plot lines going on at the same time, and occasionally mixing together, without really losing any focus on either one. It’s honestly hard for me to decide on which aspect of the comedy I liked better, the verbal comedy or the physical. The dialogue made for some really funny moments, especially when people were trying to figure out what Mickey was saying. As for the physical aspect, I think Lock, Stock had more physical comedy but there was plenty of physical comedy, such as when the bookie’s office was being robbed or when Tony shoots at Sol, Vinny, Tyrone, and Boris through the wall, then keeps warning Boris to stay down and shooting him before heading over and physically killing him. A lot of fun and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

September 7th, 2017 Movie – Snakes On A Plane

snakes on a plane

In the summer of 2006, was there any movie that had a bigger buzz on the internet than today’s movie? All summer it seemed like there were memes and jokes coming out left and right about this movie. Personally, as soon as I heard about this movie I thought it was going to be some B-movie that would be debuting on Syfy but low and behold, this was going to be a big budget picture in theaters. Well this just screamed out for me to go watch it and of course, I did and enjoyed it immensely. Now it’s time to have some fun and watch today’s movie, Snakes On A Plane.

The plot: In Honolulu, Hawaii, Sean Jones is riding his dirt bike through the mountains but as he stops for a break, he sees a man suddenly fall from a bridge, tied by his ankles to the top. Sean goes to help the man but he tells Sean to run as some men come down from the bridge. Sean hides and watches as Eddie Kim, a gang boss in Los Angeles, proceeds to beat the man, who is a federal prosecutor, to death with a bat. Sean makes a run for it and the next day, sees the news report about the murder. When he turns off the TV, he hears a noise coming from the front door and sees 3 men trying to break in. As he goes to hide on the balcony, he is grabbed by FBI Agent Neville Flynn, who shoots two of the assailants and helps Sean to escape. After introducing himself and driving off, he takes to the local FBI building where he and his partner, Agent John Sanders, try to convince Sean to testify to witnessing the murder and he finally agrees to go through with it. At Honolulu airport, flight attendants Claire Williams and Tiffany are talking about this being Claire’s last flight and she is surprised to see Grace and Ken are crewing the flight as well. In an airport waiting area, Sean and Flynn are watching the police guard a private plane that is set to leave for L.A., but that is a diversion hoping to fool Eddie Kim as Sean will be flying a commercial red-eye flight instead. As bomb dogs are sent through the plane, Claire is told by the pilot, Captain Sam McKeon, that the FBI is taking over first class to protect a witness and that she is responsible for telling the first class passengers that they are now flying coach. However, Kim’s men find out which plane Sean is flying on and plan a trap, spraying some leis with a pheremone which are then given to the passengers as they board the plane. Once the passengers are boarded, the plane takes off but unknown to everyone, Kim’s men have placed a crate full of dangerous snakes in the cargo hold with a time release set to trigger halfway through the flight. When the timer goes off, the crate opens and the snakes begin making their way through the cargo hold and into the cabin. Kyle and Kelly, a couple who snuck into the restroom to join the mile-high club, are the first people to die as some snakes enter the restroom through the smoke detector that Kyle had disable and bite them, as is another man in another restroom. As the plane starts flying through a storm, more snakes begin slithering through the cabin while some other snakes have managed to short out the avionics. Captain Sam heads down to reset the board while his co-pilot, Captain Rick, keeps the plane steady but while he is down in the hold, he is bit in the neck by a snake but Claire and Rick didn’t see the attack and think he had a heart attack. Claire informs Flynn and Sanders about what happened and Sanders suggests turning back but Rick tells him that it will take longer to fly back than to keep going, then heads back to pilot the plane, informing LAX of what has occurred. As the turbulence from the storm continues, some snakes begin crawling out of the console and when Rick sees them, he starts hitting them with his clipboard, causing the oxygen masks to deploy in the cabin and more snakes to fall onto the passengers. The snakes begin attacking the people and when Sanders goes to see what is going on, he freezes up due to a fear of snakes and ends up being bitten. Flynn heads down and starts directing people to the front of the plane, then has them make a barrier out of the luggage that is there. Mercedes, a rich socialite, had been knocked unconscious during the initial panic but she is saved by another passenger, Chen Leong. Meanwhile, Grace hears a baby crying and heads back to rescue the mother and baby but is bitten by a snake and dies from the venom. Flynn helps Sanders back up to first class but Sanders dies from the venom so Flynn calls Agent Hank Harris in L.A. to explain the situation. Claire and Flynn check on Tommy and Curtis, two kids that were flying solo on the plane and when they see that Curtis has been bitten, one of the passengers works to suck out the venom. Harris goes to see Dr. Stephen Price, an expert on snakes that customs uses for animal smuggling cases. Back on the plane, the passengers are getting angry and demand answers, forcing their way up to first class to get them and Sean tells them that the snakes are on the plane in an attempt to kill him before he can testify. Flynn speaks with Price on the phone and tries to describe the snakes to him but Mercedes suggest using her phone to take pictures and email them to him. Meanwhile, Rick is attacked by a viper and falls into the cargo hold and when Claire notices the plane tilting, she goes to check on him but is confronted by the snake. Claire manages to kill it as Flynn enters the cockpit and they work to try and pull the plane out of it’s dive. Unfortunately, the dive causes the drink trolley’s to crash through the barricades, sending the snakes into the front of the plane. Sean tells everyone to head up to first class, as the snakes begin killing more people but as everyone rushes up the stairs, a giant Burmese python crashes through the overhead lights and begins slithering around. The passengers overcrowd the stairs and several of them end up breaking through the rails and falling to the floor, with several of them being impaled on objects below. As the python heads towards them, a British businessman named Paul throws Mercedes’ chihuahua Mary Kate at the snake to distract it and Mercedes attacks him, but stops as the python encircles Paul and begins constricting him. Everyone makes it up to first class and they seal the opening using a life raft as Flynn and Claire finally manage to pull out of the dive. Rick emerges from the hold and Claire ties a tourniquet around his arm to slow the flow of venom and Rick continues flying the plane but they soon realize that the air conditioning is no longer working. Flynn decides to head down to reset the breakers and Claire makes him a makeshift flamethrower to use as a weapon. With Claire guiding him by walkie-talkie, Flynn makes his way to the breakers, killing snakes along the way, and resets them, restoring air flow to the plane. Meanwhile, Price figures out the dealer most likely to have sold the snakes to Kim and Harris takes him out to the desert to confront the man. When the man is bitten by one of his own snakes, Harris withholds the anti-venom until the dealer tells him which snakes were placed on the plane and confirming that Kim was the one to order them. Harris calls Flynn to tell him the good news but they discover that Rick has died and there are more snakes in the cockpit. When Claire asks if anyone can fly the plane, Three G’s, a famous rapper, says his bodyguard Troy can fly it. Flynn comes up with a plan to clear the snakes out of the cabin by shooting out a window and allowing the explosive decompression to clear the cabin, then he and Troy head into the cockpit, while the hole widens and ends up sucking the life raft out the hole and then clearing out all of the snakes in the plane. Troy contacts LAX to tell them he is landing and though his only experience is through flight simulator games, he manages to safely land the plane. The authorities arrive to help everyone off the plane and give anti-venom to those people still alive. Sean and Flynn are talking when Sean is struck in the chest by a snake that managed to survive. Flynn shoots the snake, knocking Sean down the emergency slide and then jumps down to help up Sean, who survived due to his wearing a bullet proof vest. Afterwards, Flynn asks out Claire while Sean ends up getting the phone number and a kiss from Tiffany, who he saved earlier. Some time later, Sean and Flynn are at the beach in Bali and Sean is helping to teach Flynn how to surf.

Snakes On A Plane met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn’t perfect, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.” Supposedly, Samuel Jackson’s agent wanted the movie title changed saying that Jackson could not work on a movie with that title but when he heard about it, Jackson demanded it be changed back saying, “That’s the only reason I took the job. I read the title.” The movie had finished shooting in 2005 but reshoots were made in March of 2006 to change it from a PG-13 to an R rating, including adding Jackson’s famed line, which was added due to it being used in an anticipatory Internet parody of the movie. With all of the buzz surrounding the movie, the studio thought it would be a big hit but it ended up being only mildly successful, earning $62 million off of a $33 million budget but would become a cult hit when it was released on video and began airing on TV.

This is one of the most honest movies you will ever see because it gives you exactly what it says it will; snakes on a plane. The acting is pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson (Flynn), Julianna Margulies (Claire), and Nathan Phillips (Sean) all doing good jobs in their roles. I also like Kenan Thompson (Troy) and David Koechner (Rick) as they added a good bit of humor to the movie in the scenes they were in. The story was as simple as it was ridiculous and made for some very entertaining viewing. I will give them props for trying to explain how the snakes suddenly started attacking people instead of just leaving it to people’s imagination. The special effects regarding the snakes were pretty good, though there were plenty of times that the snakes looked a little too fake as they were slithering around or attacking people but that just added to the humor of the movie. Make no mistake about it, this is not a good movie in the classic sense of the word, but this is definitely an entertaining movie and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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