action, comic book, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: May 10th, 2014 Movie – Blade II

blade 2

4 years after Blade first hit the screen, Marvel was starting to become a movie powerhouse; as X-Men and Spider-Man both debuted as major hits. At the same time, Marvel decided to do a follow up to the movie that brought them to the ball, so to speak. Yes, everyone’s favorite half-breed vampire hunter was a back with a new adventure and a new menace to face. Now I did not see this in theaters and actually ended up seeing it for the first time on TV years later. Now let’s find out what all we are in store for as I re-watch Blade II.

The plot: Two years after the death of Deacon Frost, a man named Jared Nomak goes to a blood bank in Prague to donate some blood but as he is taken to a back room and answering the nurses questions, she informs him that they discovered some strange results in his blood test. Leading Nomak into a secure back room, Nomak becomes nervous when the nurse orders him restrained, as a doctor proceeds to don a glove of hypodermic needles and prepares to drain his blood, as the nurse, doctor, and security guards are all vampires. Suddenly, Nomak begins laughing before suddenly attacking and biting into the doctors. As the guards begin shooting at him, he is unaffected by the bullets and throws a guard into a wall while grabbing the second one, who is trying to escape. Looking up into the security cameras, Nomak declares he hates vampires, then opens his mouth wide, and the scar on his lower jaw opens up to reveal he is some sort of mutant vampire, before he kills the last guard. Meanwhile, Blade is in Prague hunting down a group of vampires, killing all but one of them. Approaching the last vampire, Blade asks him where Whistler is, as he had failed to kill himself in time to prevent turning and the vampires found him and kept him alive. Forcing the vampire to lead him to where Whistler is kept, Blade kills the vampires in the building, telling the vampire he coerced that he will “catch him later”, then approaches the tank that Whistler is being kept in. Freeing Whistler, Blade takes him back to their hideout and administers the cure that their associate Dr. Karen Jensen, but Blade’s new partner Scud says that he would be better off killing him. The next morning, Blade opens the blinds in Whistler’s room and finds that Whistler has survived the cure. As Blade starts to fill him in on how long he has been missing and introduces him to Whistler, the power suddenly goes out. Scud’s intruder alarm detects two vampires breaking in and Whistler and Blade arm themselves for battle. The vampires enter the room and Whistler starts shooting at them but they quickly disarm him. When Blade confronts them, he is able to hold them off until one of them says that they did not come to fight, only to deliver a message from the ruling house of vampires. Introducing themselves as Asad and Nyssa, they take Blade, Whistler, and Scud to the home of Eli Damaskinos, who greets Blade and says he respects his accomplishments in stopping Deacon Frost. Eli’s familiar, a lawyer named Karel Kouman, tells them that just as vampires are considered a virus upon humans, they have encountered a mutation, showing him the video of Nomak’s attack at the blood bank. Blade feels like he should thank Nomak for making his job easier but Nyssa explains that the vampires Nomak kills become mutated creatures like him, calling them Reapers. Eli tells Blade he wants him to lead a group of vampire warriors called the Bloodpack, whose original purpose was to kill Blade, and hunt down Nomak and any other mutants and kill them. Talking among themselves back at the hideout, Blade says that he knows the vampires will double cross them the first chance they get but says they should work with them for now. Some time later, Nyssa and Asad introduce Blade to the Bloodpack (Reinhardt, Chupa, Lighthammer, Verlaine, Priest, and Snowman) and when Reinhardt taunts Blade, Blade taunts him back before sticking an explosive device on the back of his head. Blade then tells Nyssa that if Nomak is hunting vampires, he will be goign to large gatherings of them and Nyssa suggests they head to the House of Pain. When they get there, Blade tells Whistler to take a position on the nearby rooftop, as he won’t pass for a vampire, and Whistler argues against it but reluctantly does so. Entering the club, Blade starts putting cameras on the walls so that Scud can see from their mobile command center in his van. As the Bloodpack and Blade move around the club, Nomak is in the sewers underneath and senses Blade’s presence above him. As it gets close to daylight, The scattered group encounter several Reapers, with Blade and Nyssa encountering Nomak. Blade manages to shoot Nomak in the head with his gun but the bullet has no effect on Nomak, who renews his attack on them. Outside, Scud is attacked in the mobile command van but when he contacts Whistler for help, he gets no response. When Scud is able to kill a reaper with UV light, he informs the others and they manage to kill some but Priest is bitten by one of them, as is Lighthammer but he lies to Verlaine about the wound and says it is only his back that was injured. Blade confronts Nomak and during the fight, injects him with EDTA but, like the silver in his bullets, it has no effect on him and Blade is finally able to force him to retreat by reflecting sunlight on him. When Priest starts to turn into a reaper, Blade shoots a hole in the ceiling, exposing him to daylight in order to kill him. Meanwhile, Scud argues that Whistler abandoned him but Whistler shows them a trapped Reaper, and explains that is what made him leave his post. At Eli’s home, Karel tells Eli the results of the attack and warns Eli that he is playing a dangerous game but Eli says the risks are worth it, even if it means his daughter dies as well. At the hideout, Nyssa is studying the captured Reaper and when she notes that it is dying, Blade theorizes that it’s metabolism is burning out too fast for it’s system to handle, but Nomak is different as he is the carrier for the virus. As Nyssa performs an autopsy, she tells them that the only way to kill them is with sunlight. Blade tells them that they will go hunting in the sewers at sunrise, as it is the only advantage they have against the Reapers, but Asad and the other members of the Bloodpack are not happy as they are vulnerable as well. Later, Nyssa speaks to Blade alone about the way he speaks to her and the Bloodpack and says that they are on the same side in this fight. Meanwhile, Whistler and Scud come up with some UV grenades to use against the fight and as Blade and Nyssa go over the plan, using pheromones to lure the Reapers into a kill zone for the grenades, Blade tells Nyssa to be sure she takes cover when the grenades go off. Blade, Whistler, and the Bloodpack head off into the sewers, they split up into groups of three to track the Reapers. Snowman, Lighthammer, and Verlaine are in one group but as the move through the tunnels, Lighthammer finally turns and kills Snowman, then goes after Verlaine but she can’t bring herself to attack Lighthammer and instead, climbs out a manhole cover, using the sunlight to kill them both. Meanwhile, Whistler is with Chupa and Reinhardt but they use the opportunity to attack Whistler, and Chupa continues beating on him while Reinhardt goes on ahead, unaware that Whistler activated a pheromone pack to lure the Reapers to them. When Reinhardt locates some reapers, he goes to set the bomb but the switch is stuck and he is forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Chupa is attacked by the Reapers and killed, allowing Whistler to escape. Blade, Asad, and Nyssa are ambushed by some Reapers and Asad is killed but Blade uses a UV grenade to kill the Reapers, telling Nyssa to take cover so she isn’t killed herself. Meeting up with Reinhardt, who says that he is the only one left, Blade pours some pheromones on him so that the Reapers will be inclined to chase him, then heads back to the bomb to activate, eventually killing all of them in there. Whistler manages to survive and encounters Nomak, who tells him that he wants Whistler to deliver a message about the truth of what is going on. Meanwhile, Blade finds Nyssa, who had survived the explosion by diving into the water, and cuts his wrist to feed her some of his blood so she can heal but he finds himself captured by Reinhardt and Eli’s soldiers, unaware that Nomak has seen everything happening. When Blade comes too, he finds that Whistler and Scud were captured as well and Whistler tells him what Nomak said. Eli enters at that moment and he tells them that he had been working on creating a supreme race that was immune to all of their weaknesses and admits that Nomak is his son. When Reinhardt shoots Blade in the leg, Blade goes to detonate the device but nothing happens. Scud suddenly starts laughing and reveals that he is Eli’s familiar and the device was never meant to explode but after Reinhardt removes it and tosses it to him, Blade says he was on to Scud once they turned him, then blows him up. Reinhardt orders Blade subdued and Karel takes Blade away so they can harvest his blood while Reinhardt proceeds to beat on Whistler and Nyssa confronts her father over what he has done. As Blade lies near death, he whispers Nomak’s name and when Karel questions him about it, Blade tells him he is coming for revenge on the people that made him. When Reinhardt sees Nomak fighting the guards on the monitor, Whistler is able to use the distraction to knock him out and escape, then rescue Blade. Whistler takes Blade to a blood pool so he can regain his strength, but Reinhardt tries to stop him but is too late as Blade drops into the pool. Emerging from the pool, Blade defeats the guards and kills Reinhardt, then heads off to stop Eli and Nomak while Whistler destroys Eli’s remaining genetically modified embryos. Nomak makes his way after Eli and as Eli tries to leave with Nyssa in a helicopter, she seals the building, trapping them inside so that Eli can pay for his sins. Nomak approaches Eli and kills him, saying he won’t infect him with the virus. Nomak then approaches Nyssa, who tells him to finish it, and he chooses to infect her but as he is biting her, Blade interrupts them. Blade attacks Nomak and stabs him with his sword but Nomak breaks the sword and after pulling out the blade, begins attacking Blade. The two engage in a ferocious fist fight and Nomak appears to have the upper hand but Blade grabs the broken blade from his sword and manages to stab it into Nomak’s chest, piercing the bone plate protecting his heart. Falling to the ground, Nomak decides to commit suicide and continues pushing the sword into his heart and after he dies, Blade approaches Nyssa. Nyssa says that she knows she is dying and asks Blade to let her see the sun for once, chosing to kill herself that way. Blade takes her onto the helipad and holds her as she burns away, while Whistler watches behind him. Some time later, the vampire that led Blade to Whistler heads into a peep show booth but as the curtain goes up, he finds Blade there waiting for him and Blade quickly kills him.

Blade II met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though Blade II offers more of what worked in the original, its plot and character development appear to have been left on the cutting room floor.” Throughout the movie, Scud wears a T-shirt featuring the logo of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a reference to Mike Mignola’s “Helboy” comic; a series which driector Guillermo del Toro and actor Ron Perlman would work on a live action film version of two years later. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $155 million off of a $54 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the trilogy.

It might have made more money and gotten slightly better reviews, but while I did think the movie was entertaining, I liked the first movie better. The acting was ok, with Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson doing great jobs reprising their roles of Blade and Whistler respectively. I also though Ron Perlman was great as Reinhardt, while Leonor Varela and Luke Goss did equally good jobs as Nyssa and Nomak. The story was interesting, as I liked the idea of the mutated vampires that were immune to most of their weaknesses. I also liked the whole “enemy of my enemy” aspect to the movie, and how Blade used both the vampires’ ego and Nomak’s desire for revenge to his full advantage, though it almost cost him and Whistler their lives. I liked the majority of the special effects and fight scenes, but there were some times where they looked too fake, almost like it is something from a video game, that really detracted from whatever scene they were in. It’s entertaining but falls short of the first movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 8th, 2017 Movie – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue one

Ok folks. This right here the other reason that “S” is my second favorite letter when it comes to movie titles, not just today’s movie but the entire Star Wars franchise. Yes, I am a huge fan of the universe that George Lucas created way back in 1977. The original trilogy has always been one of my favorite series of movies to watch while the prequels….not so much. When Disney bought the rights to the franchise from Lucas, I was honestly a little worried about what would happen in regards to new movies, but hopeful, as Disney has done a pretty good job with the MCU. Now, I know a lot of you are wondering why I am starting the Star Wars series with this particular movie. You see, I have a particular order I like to watch these movies in; not just going original trilogy to prequels or starting with Episode I and going sequentially. However, I will admit that I had a bit of a dilemma when it came to placing today’s movie within that order. I actually had a discussion with several of my friends about this before coming to the decision that I should start with this movie, as it leads directly into Episode IV. So let’s get ready for an adventure as we kick off our journey into the Star Wars universe with today’s movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The plot: An Imperial shuttle lands on the planet Lah’mu but it’s landing is observed by Galen Erso, an Imperial research scientist who has been hiding on the planet with his family. Galen’s wife Lyra contacts Saw Gerrera, a Rebel extremist, and tells him what is going on, then Lyra takes their daughter Jyn to go hide but Lyra tells Jyn to keep going while she goes back to help Galen. Galen heads out to meet with Orson Krennic, a weapons developer for the Empire, who wants Galen to come back and finish helping with the development of the Empire’s newest weapon, but Galen refuses. When Lyra returns and draws a gun on Krennic, Krennic has her killed, though she manages to wound Krennic before she dies. Jyn witnesses this and makes her way to a hidden bunker, where she watches the Imperial soldiers search for her but fail to find her and after they leave, she is rescued by Gerrera. 15 years later, Rebel Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor meets up with an informant at a trading outpost on the Ring of Kafrene, who tells him that the Empire is building a planet killer and that a cargo pilot had defected and taken a message from Galen Erso to Saw Gerrera on Jedha. When some Stormtroopers get curious about what they are doing, Cassian kills them and then his contact before making his escape. Meanwhile, Jyn is a prisoner at an Imperial labor camp when she is rescued by the Rebellion and taken to their base on Yavin IV, where Cassian, Mon Mothma, and General Draven ask her about Gerrera and her father and convince her to help them make contact with Gerrera so they can get the information the pilot has and then rescue Galen Erso. Jyn boards the shuttle that she will be traveling in with Cassian and his co-pilot/partner K-2SO but before they leave, Cassian is called aside by Draven and told that he is to kill Galen instead of rescuing him. On Jedha, the defecting pilot, Bodhi Rook, is taken to see Gerrera but Gerrera has become overly paranoid and believes that Rook is a spy sent to tell people where his base is and has him imprisoned and interrogated. Elsewhere, Krennic is summoned to see Grand Moff Tarkin, who is overseeing the final construction of the Death Star, and orders him to find Rook before word gets to the Senate about the Death Star and drives other systems into joining the Rebellion. Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 head to Jedha and see a Star Destroyer in low orbit, with shuttles carrying kyber crystals off of Jedha, which Cassian says is to power their weapon. Jyn and Cassian head into the city to try and find information of Gerrera’s whereabouts and while Cassian goes to speak with a contact, Jyn meets Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior-monk who is a former Guardian of the Whills before the Empire destroyed the temple. When Gerrera’s forces attack an Imperial patrol, Jyn and Cassian find themselves caught in the crossfire and end up being captured by the Imperials, along with K-2 but Chirrut and his companion, Baze Malbus, rescue them only to end up being captured by Gerrera’s men. Jyn is brought to see Gerrera, who thinks she might have been sent to kill him but she tells him she was there simply to help Cassian retrieve the pilot and message and after that, she is done with the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Krennic and Tarkin have the Death Star moved into Jedha’s orbit and Krennic wants to destroy the whole planet but Tarkin says they want to make a statement and says to simply destroy the Holy City instead. Back in Gerrera’s base, Cassian realizes that Rook is in the cell next to them and tries to talk to him but finds his mind is damaged from Gerrera’s interrogation process. At the same time, Gerrera is playing Galen’s message for him, where he talks about the Death Star and how he built in a weakness within the reactor core and says that they will need to find the structural blueprints to discover the location of the core and says they can find them at a data bank on Scarif, just as Krennic has the Death Star destroy the city. The blast causes tremors and sends a pressure wave heading towards Gerrera’s base in the form of a massive upheaval of the ground. Cassian manages to short out the prison door then goes to locate Jyn while asking Chirrut and Baze to get Rook while contacting K-2 and telling him to come pick them up. Cassian finds Jyn and tells her they have to leave and Gerrera tells her to go and keep the dream alive as he chooses to remain in the base and is killed. K-2 picks up Cassian, Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, and Rook and they manage to escape before the pressure wave kills them and as they travel through hyperspace, Cassian contacts Yavin IV and tells Draven that he knows where Galen is and is told to head to Eadu and complete the mission. Meanwhile, Tarkin congratulates Krennic on the Death Star’s capabilities but tells him he will be taking command of the project, as the security leak raises concerns about his leadership. In a rage, Krennic heads to Eadu himself to question Galen and see if he betrayed him. On Eadu, Rook has K-2 and Cassian fly through a canyon to avoid being detected but they hit an outcropping and end up crashing. When Yavin IV loses contact with them, Draven orders a fleet to go attack Eadu in order to kill Galen. Back on Eadu, Cassian goes with Rook to scout the nearby shuttle dock, in hopes they have a shuttle they can steal but after they leave, Chirrut voices his suspicions of Cassian’s true motives which causes Jyn to go after them, with Chirrut and Baze follow later. Rook and Cassian observe Galen on the loading dock and after a shuttle passes overhead, Cassian tells Rook to go find them a shuttle so they can escape. When the shuttle lands, Krennic disembarks with his troops and tells Galen the station is a success, then has him order his staff brought out so he can question them. After asking who betrayed the Empire and nobody responds, Krennic is prepared to shoot all of them but Galen yells at him to stop, admitting he did it. Krennic strikes Galen, then has his men kill all of Galen’s staff before Krennic kneels down and tells Galen about the test on Jedha. Meanwhile, Cassian is prepared to shoot Galen but can’t bring himself to do it and continues to observe when he sees Jyn making her way onto the dock. When he contacts K-2 and learns about the fleet coming in, he tries to get them to delay the attack but it is too late. As the rebel fleet makes it’s attack run, Jyn calls out to her father just as an explosion occurs, Throwing Galen forward while knocking Jyn, Krennic, and his forces off their feet. After the Rebel fleet completes their hit and run attack and leave, Jyn approaches her father and holds him as he dies. Cassian approaches and drags her away, with Baze covering their escape, and they all board the Imperial shuttle that Rook and K-2 stole. As they are flying back to the Yavin IV, Jyn confronts Cassian about his real mission and he said that he had his orders and he disobeyed them but she isn’t satisfied with his answer. Krennic flies to Mustafar to seek an audience with Darth Vader in his castle fortress. Krennic asks Vader for his help in speaking to the Emperor about letting him regain control of the Death Star but Vader tells him that it has already caused more problems and he should ensure that no more problems can arise, force choking him to get his point across. Back at the Yavin IV, the Rebel Alliance is arguing about what their next course of action should be, with several people saying they should scatter while others want to surrender. Jyn proposes that they attack Scarif and steal the plans for the Death Star, or else the universe would have no chance against the Empire but Mon Mothma says the odds are too great. After the meeting is over, Rook, Cirrut, and Baze agree to help Jyn and they find that Cassian has talked to some more members of the Rebellion to get their help as well. They gather their gear and head for the shuttle and as the controller tries to ask them what is going on, Rook gives them the call sign of Rogue One as they take off. Inside the base, Mon Mothma is speaking with Bail Organa and asks him about contacting his Jedi friend and he tells her he will send someone he trust to contact him. Rogue One reaches Scarif and manages to make it through the Planetary Shield and as they are landing, Jyn explains the plan to the group. After taking out the men that come aboard to inspect the shuttle, Jyn and Cassian disguise themselves in their uniforms and head to the main tower with K-2 while Chirrut, Baze, and the other soldiers head out and make plans to provide a distraction for them. While this is going on, Krennic arrives on Scarif and heads to the main tower, demanding a list of every communication that Galen ever made. Cassian contacts the men outside and have them begin their attack and Krennic, seeing the explosions from the tower, orders the garrison emptied to deal with the attack. On the Death Star, Tarkin receives word about the attack on Scarif and, learning that Krennic is there, he orders the Death Star to head to Scarif and tells his men to contact Vader. At the same time, Mon Mothma is told that intercepted transmissions are talking about the attack and she learns that Admiral Raddus has headed to his ship and ordered the fleet to head there and attack. When the Rebel fleet arrives, Blue Squadron heads down to the surface before the shield is closed while the rest of the fleet begin attacking the Star Destroyers around the planet. When they learn that they are trapped on the planet, Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 realize that the only way to get the plans to the fleet is to transmit them to the fleet so Cassian contacts Rook to make contact with the fleet. Realizing he can’t do it without tapping into the Imperial relay, Rook contacts the rebels and tells them to find a master switch while he taps into the communications systems. Jyn and Cassian start looking for the file and when Stormtroopers begin to enter, K-2 seals them in and holds off the Stormtroopers. Jyn and Cassian finally locate the file but the power goes out as K-2 is severely damaged by the approaching soldiers and he tells them to climb to the top of the tower to transmit the codes before he is destroyed. Jyn shoots out the window and she jumps onto the tower with Cassian and they make their way to the file. Krennic learns of the intrusion in the records room and heads there with two of his guards. Opening a side panel, they begin firing on Jyn and Cassian just as Jyn grabs the file and Cassian manages to kill the guards but he is shot by Krennic and falls down onto a lower platform. Back on the beach, the Rebels try to reach the Master Switch but are pinned down so Chirrut heads out on his own and manages to activate it but is then killed, and Baze is killed soon after. Rook makes contact with the fleet and tells them to take out the planetary shield so that the plans can be transmitted but his is killed when the shuttle is blown up by a grenade. Back above the planet, the Rebel fleet manages to disable one of the Star Destroyers and Raddus has a Hammerhead Corvette ram into it, pushing it into the second Star Destroyer and causing both of them to crash into the shield generator and take down the shield. Jyn makes it to the top of the tower and loads the file into the transmitter, then heads out to realign the dish. As she makes her way back, she is confronted by Krennic and she tells whom who she is but when he goes to shoot her, Cassian shoots him first. Jyn transmits the blueprints and the Rebel fleet successfully receive them when suddenly, the Death Star appears. Tark orders the Death Star to fire on the Imperial base and Cassian and Jyn, who have made it down to the beach, embrace each other as they are killed by the pressure wave from the blast. Back in space, the Rebel fleet is preparing to escape when they are stopped by the arrival of Vader’s Star Destroyer, which begins firing on the ships. When the Rebel command ship is disabled, Vader heads over in a boarding craft to personally recover the plans but the Rebel soldiers manage to get them on board an escape craft, a Corellian Corvette, which leaves the area. As they escape, one of the soldiers asks what was in the transmission and Princess Leia, who is on board, says “Hope.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground — and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.” The castle-like fortress that Vader lives in on Mustafar was based on an unused concept that was created after Episode IV was filmed but before the plot for Episode V was developed. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $1.056 billion off of a $265 million budget, making it the second highest grossing movie in the franchise, and earned 2 Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.

This was a great movie and definitely worth of it’s place in the Star Wars mythos. The acting was really good, with Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Diego Luna (Cassian) doing great jobs in their roles and showing a surprising amount of character growth between the two of them. I also liked Donnie Yen (Chirrut), Jiang Wen (Base), Ben Mendelsohn (Krennic), and Riz Ahmed (Rook) were also really good, while Guy Henry did a great job of portraying Grand Moff Tarkin, almost making it seem as if Peter Cushing had returned from the grave to reprise his role. The story was great, working great as an immediate prequel to the original Star Wars, in essence, bringing life to the scrawl that appeared at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV. The special effects were great but I also liked how they used some of the old school effects that George Lucas used in the original movie, such as cardboard cutouts of ships to make a hangar look full. Also, that scene at the end of Vader appearing before the Rebel soldiers, with only his lightsaber illuminating him, before he proceeds to slaughter them was pretty bad ass. There is one problem with the movie and that is the desire to pay fan service to the audience creating a pretty large plot hole. See, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are seen in the base on Yavin 4 as the Rebel fleet is leaving to assist Rogue One on Scarif, yet they are on Princess Leia’s Corvette in Episode IV, an impossible feat as her ship was on board the Rebel Flagship when it arrived at Scarif. If they really wanted to play up the fan service, they could have just had them on board the ship as they are escaping from Vader. Aside from that glaring plot hole, this is a great movie and definitely fits in with the rest of the movies.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

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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