action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, martial arts, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 24th, 2014 Movie – Big Trouble In Little China

big trouble in little china

Ok. I have been a fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for a long time, both as a wrestler and as an actor. That being said, I will never forgive him if his plans of remaking this movie ever come to fruition. I wish Hollywood would stop with the whole remaking everything possible instead of trying to come up with more original ideas. When it comes to this movie, this is one of those movies that I have always loved watching because it is so ridiculous. Ever since I first saw the trailer, where Kurt Russell’s character knocked himself out, I decided that this was a movie I had to see. I managed to watch it on HBO years ago and every time it came on TV, I would watch it. So of course I had to pick up a copy on DVD so I could watch Big Trouble In Little China whenever I wanted.

The plot: Egg Shen is talking with his lawyer, who asks him if he knows the whereabouts of Jack Burton, but Egg tells him to leave Jack alone, as they were in his debt. The lawyer persists in finding out what happened, as Egg is being blamed for the destruction of a city block in a ball of green flame, and Egg says it was magic, revealing himself to be a sorcerer himself, and starts telling the lawyer what all happened. Some time earlier, Jack Burton is driving his truck, The Pork Chop Express, outside of San Francisco to make a delivery and as it is being unloaded, he gambles outside of the warehouses with his friend Wang Chi and several other people. Jack ends up winning $1148 over the course of the night and as morning breaks, everyone else leaves to start work but Wang convinces Jack to stay for one more bet, offering double or nothing. Wang proposes to cut a bottle in half with a large knife and Jack takes the bet but when Wang goes to cut the bottle, the bottle ends up flying towards Jack, who quickly catches it, citing his reflexes. Jack asks Wang to pay up but Wang says he doesn’t have the money on him and asks Jack to stop by his restaurant later, as he has to go to the airport first, but Jack says he will give Wang a lift, as he wants to ensure he gets paid. At the airport, Wang is there to pick up his childhood sweetheart Miao Yin, who he intends to marry, but as they are waiting for her, Jack notices a woman, Gracie Law, and heads over to talk with her. As they are talking, members of a Chinese street gang called the Lords of Death push by them and Gracie gets nervous about why they are there. Gracie moves away from Jack and spots her friend, another Chinese girl, and calls out to her but the Lords of Death move to grab her. When Jack tries to intervene, one of them pulls out a knife and baton and moves to attack him, allowing a second member to sweep Jack’s legs out from under him. Miao Yin shows up but ends up being grabbed by the Lords of Death, who escape from the airport. A pissed off Jack decides to go after them and Wang tells him that they have a club in Chinatown. After following Wang’s directions through some alleys, they find their path blocked by a funeral procession of the Chang Sing. Jack starts to back up when he notices some other figures approaching and Wang says they are the Wing Kong, the rivals of the Chang Sing. A massive fight breaks out between the two gangs when suddenly, a burst of green fire erupts from the ground and the Three Storms (Thunder, Lightning, and Rain) appear and kill three members of the Chang Sing, before moving forward to continue fighting. Wang tells Jack to get out of there and as Jack drives forward, the Three Storms move out of the way but Jack ends up running over David Lo Pan. Stopping his truck to inspect the body, Jack discovers that Lo Pan is still alive and hsi eyes and mouth suddenly start glowing, temporarily blinding Jack. Wang helps him get away and splashes water on Jack’s eyes to restore his vision when they find themselves approached by the Lords of Death and are forced to run, only to discover that Jack’s truck has been stolen while the Three storms are slaughtering the Chang Sing. Making their way back to Wang’s restaurant, Jack is on the phone with his insurance company about his truck when Wang’s friend Eddie Lee shows up and tells him that the Lords of Death stole his truck. Gracie shows up, saying she feels bad as the reason Miao Yin was taken was because of her and tells them that She was taken to the White Tiger, an illegal brothel the the Lords of Death run. Jack, Wang, Gracie, and Eddie head over to the White Tiger and Jack heads inside on his own, leaving the others waiting outside. As they are waiting, Gracie sees another car pull up and heads over to it, as it is her reporter friend Margo, and she tells her what is going on. Inside, Jack tries to find out if Miao Yin is there when suddenly, the building starts shaking while outside, Wang and Eddie see a giant green cloud over the building. Suddenly, the Three Storms appear, blowing a hole through the roof and they grab Miao Yin, who was being held in a secret room, and fly off with her. Realizing that Miao Yin must have been taken to Lo Pan’s place, Jack and Wang head in there disguised as telephone repair men and attempt to locate her only to be captured by the Rain. Rain tortures them briefly before tying them up and taking them to see Lo Pan, who appears as a decrepit old man. Lo Pan asks Wang about Miao Yin, and Wang realizes that Lo Pan intends to marry Miao Yin in order to appease the God of the East, then sacrifice her in order to remove the curse that he was inflicted with. Suddenly, Lo Pan sees Gracie, Eddie, and Margo on the monitors and he has Jack and Wang taken away, while Thunder ends up capturing the others. Jack and Wang are taken to a cell but Jack manages to free himself and Wang, then quickly pretend to be tied up again when Thunder enters with Eddie. Jack jumps onto Thunder, holding his knife to his throat, while Wang helps Eddie down and they go to leave when Thunder suddenly starts expanding, sending Jack flying off of him and into one of the wheelchairs he and Wang were tied to. Jack goes rolling backwards down the hall, knocking out some Wing Kong fighters that were coming to deal with them, and Wang and Eddie quickly lock Thunder in the room and head out after Jack before Thunder gets free. The three go looking for Gracie and Margo and find them locked in cages along with several other girls and as Wang and Eddie deal with the guards, Jack frees all of the women. When Thunder arrives with more Wing Kong warriors, they all make a run for it, diving into a pool of water and making their way through the sewers. After climbing back up to the warehouse that Jack and Wang first entered, they go to leave only to find their way blocked by more Wing Kong warriors but Jack and Wang manage to deal with them. Jack and Wang create a distraction so they cna lead everyone past the front guards but Gracie ends up being captured by a strange, orange furred monster. Outside, Jack and the others find Egg and Wang’s uncle Chu waiting for them in Egg’s tour bus and the manage to get away but realize that Gracie is missing. Gracie is taken to the room where Miao Yen is being held and Lo Pan approaches her and uses his powers to mesmerize her, just as Miao Yin is, as Gracie has green colored eyes like Miao Yin. Back at Wang’s restaurant, Egg shows up with the surviving members of the Chang Sing and they head out with Jack and Wang to stop Lo Pan, making their way through the underground sections of the city and deep under the earth towards Lo Pan’s temple. Meanwhile, Lo Pan has the Three Storms initiate the test for Miao Yin and Gracie, both of him pass, and he has them prepared to be married to him to appease the God of the East, then will sacrifice Gracie and keep Miao Yin for himself. Jack and the others reach Lo Pan’s temple and encounter a beholder, which Lo Pan uses to watch for intruders. Seeing what the beholder sees, Lo Pan taunts Egg Shen until Jack shoots at the beholder, driving it away. Jack and the others reach Lo Pan’s office, wondering where everyone is, and after finding the secret elevator, Egg gives everyone a magic potion to help them in the upcoming battle. They take the elevator down and see Lo Pan in the midst of the wedding ceremony and Egg tells them all to wait until the wedding is completed, as Lo Pan would be mortal and able to be killed. When they spot the wounded beholder nearby, Wang stabs it with his sword but Lo Pan sees them and has the Wing Kong attack them. Wang and the others rush to meet them while Jack ends up knocking himself out briefly before joining the fight. As Wang fights with Rain, Egg uses his magic to save Jack from Thunder, then begins battling Lo Pan. Their battle ends in a stalemate and Egg leaves with Miao Yin and Thunder, while Lightning attempts to seal the door behind them, then leaves himself. Wang manages to kill Rain then chases after Miao Yin, while Gracie, having snapped out of the trance, gets Jack and the go after him, dealing with the orange furred creature in the process. Taking the elevator back to Lo Pan’s office, Jack and Gracie end up kissing before the doors open, and they go looking for Miao Yin. They find Lo Pan talking with her and Thunder and Jack approaches them, joined by Wang. Jack and Wang attack Thunder and Thunder ends up chasing after Wang, leaving Jack to deal with Lo pan. Jack throws his boot knife at Lo Pan but misses and Lo Pan lets go of Miao Yin and picks up the knife. Complimenting Jack on the knife, Lo Pan throws it at him but Jack manages to catch it and throw it straight back, embedding the blade in Lo Pan’s head and killing him. Jack then goes to help Wang, who returns to the room with Thunder in tow and when Thunder sees Lo Pan’s body, he begins swelling up and ends up exploding. Thunder appears and Jack and the others run away, getting help from Egg to escape while Egg ends up killing Lightning by dropping a statue on him. Making their way through Lo Pan’s building, they find Jack’s truck and get in, driving through the warehouse doors and getting away, as Miao Yin and Wang kiss. Back at Wang’s restaurant, Jack, Wang, Gracie, Miao Yin, Egg, Eddie, Margo, and Chu are celebrating their success and Egg leaves, telling Jack he had promised himself a vacation when he finally defeated Lo Pan. Wang hands Jack a check for triple the money he owed him, saying he earned it and Jack approaches Gracie and talks to her about selling his truck and settling down. She offers an alternative of his getting a bigger truck with a sleeper compartment big enough for two and he says he will think about it, then leaves. As Jack heads down the road, he is talking on his CB about his experiences, unaware that the orange furred creature had stowed away underneath his truck.

Big Trouble In Little China met with mixed reviews from the critics on it’s release but has since received more positive results, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Brimming with energy and packed with humor,¬†Big Trouble in Little China¬†distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.” 20th Century Fox hired James Carpenter to direct the movie and rushed it into production, as they wanted to release it before a similarly themed movie, The Golden Child, came out. This fulfilled Carpenter’s wish to direct a martial arts movie but the mixed reviews from the critics left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent film making. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $11.1 million off of a reported $25 million but has since become a cult classic.

This movie is so fantastically ridiculous to watch and so much fun as a result. Kurt Russell was great as Jack Burton, while Kim Cattrall (Gracie), Dennis Dun (Wang), and Victor Wong (Egg) were also good. The story was interesting, trying to mix a martial arts movie with a fantasy/sorcery movie and it made for an interesting blend of styles. I also loved how Jack was trying to make sense of everything that was going on before finally just accepting it, while Wang was struggling with the fact that all of the stories and fairy tales he was told as a kid were coming true. The special effects were pretty cheesy at times but a lot of the fight scenes were decent and helped make them enjoyable. This really is a fun movie and one that is worth watching if you are in the mood for some not so serious entertainment.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
drama, movie, movie review, thriller

December 24th, 2017 Movie – Swimfan

swimfan

So, I have a lot of movie. Pretty sure that goes without saying at this point. Now the thing about having so many movies is that they have a tendency to trigger various memories; whether it is of watching the movie itself or something that reminds me of it. If you are wondering what that has to do with today’s movie, the simple answer is that I have no memory of this movie. I don’t remember getting this movie and the only thing I can think of to explain how I came about owning it is that it is a movie left behind by my ex in the divorce. Well, guess I have to figure that out another day as right now, I need to watch today’s movie, Swimfan.

The plot: Ben Cronin is a star swimmer for his high school swim team and when he shows up for practice, his coach informs him that scouts for Stanford will be at the next meet. Josh tells his friends, who all congratulate him though his rival Josh says he might steal all the attention when he races. Afterwards, Ben talks with his girlfriend Amy about the situation, as she plans on going to college in Rhode Island and is worried about what the distance will do to their relationship, even considering switching schools and attending Berkley so they can stay close together. Later that day, Ben helps out Madison Bell, a new student that just transferred there. The next day, Ben almost hits Madison with his car and after apologizing, gives her a ride home. When he gets home, Ben notices one Madison’s notebooks was left in his car and when he opens it, he finds it full of music notes, with his initials written on one of the pages. Ben heads over to give Madison her notebook back, awkwardly talking to her cousin Christoper Dante, who is also a classmate, before she shows up and asks to go get some food. The two head out to a diner and Ben ends up telling her about how he used to be involved with drugs and stealing until a short stint in juvie helped him straighten out. Ben tells her that he has a girlfriend but says Josh would happily go out with her but she says she isn’t interested in Josh. Ben wants to take her home but she convinces him to take her back to the school pool, and they end up having sex in the pool. Afterwards, Ben takes her home and they agree to keep it their secret and just be friends. The next day, Ben is already feeling guilty about what happened after talking with Amy on the phone, and oversleeping and missing morning practice. That night, Ben goes to a party at Amy’s house and Amy introduces him to her new friend, which happens to be Madison. Ben tries to avoid her but Madison continues to heavily flirt with him and tells her that she left her panties in his truck, prompting Ben to race outside and stop Amy from moving his truck. Madison continues stalking Ben, sending him emails and instant messages on his computer and pager, all of which cause Ben to start doing poorly in practice, causing his coach to chastise him. One day, Ben comes home to find Madison in his home talking with his mom and he asks his mom how long she has been there. Feeling like the situation is getting out of hand, Ben is surprised to find his inbox full of emails from Madison, some of them containing nude pictures she sent him. Ben is further confused when he sees Madison at swim practice, but she has apparently started dating Josh. Some time later, Ben is leaving practice to go to work when Madison approaches him and asks if she did anything wrong and not to worry about Josh but Ben says he is trying to stay away from her but she doesn’t seem to be getting the hint. While at work volunteering at the hospital his mom works at, Ben is passing out medicine to the patients when one of them goes into cardiac arrest. Ben swears he checked the meds at the nurse’s station and that someone must have switched the meds in his cart but he is still fired from his job. Ben races back to school and confronts Madison, telling her to stay away from him and not to contact him anymore. He then heads to Amy’s work to try and talk to her but she is busy and says they will talk before class in the morning, unaware that Madison is watching them. The next day, Ben goes to talk with Amy but finds her in tears and she slaps him, and he learns that Madison already told Amy about sleeping with him. Feeling ostracized from his friends, Ben tries to patch things up with Amy but she refuses to see him. The day of the big swim meet, Ben is pulled from the line-up as his pre-race urine sample tested positive for steroids. Seeing that Madison had disappeared from the crowd, Ben confronts Josh, thinking he helped her but Josh shoves him into the pool and says he is losing it. When Ben gets home, his mom asks if he is using drugs again and Ben says he isn’t and asks that she leave him alone so he can try to get his life back on track. He goes to see Amy and tries to tell her everything but she doesn’t believe him and asks that he leave. Meanwhile, Madison and Josh are making out but when Madison accidentally calls out Ben’s name by mistake, Josh realizes Ben was right about Madison and leaves her. The next day, Ben goes swimming in the school pool and finds Josh’s body floating in it and Ben is suspected of killing him due to his past. Trying to prove his innocence, Ben sneaks into Madison’s room and discovers steroids as well as a collection of items and newspaper clippings dedicated to him. Christopher finds Ben in Madison’s room and quickly drags Ben into his room and hands him a book before having him leave out the window so that Madison doesn’t find him. Back in his truck, Ben finds the book contians clippings about a man named Jake Donnelly and Christopher meets with Ben and takes him to New York to see Jake. Ben finds Jake is in an assisted living facility, completely comatose and learns that Jake was in a car crash but his girlfriend survived without a scratch. While Ben is gone, Madison steals Ben’s keys to his truck and uses it to run Amy off the road after school. Ben’s mother pages him and when he calls her, she tells him about Amy and how the police are looking for him. Ben tries to warn her to keep Madison away from Amy but the time runs out on his quarter. At the hospital, Madison is posing as a doctor and heads towards Amy’s room, intending to kill her, but she pauses when she hears Jake Donnelly’s name being paged to come to the nurses station. When Madison gets there, she sees someone wearing Jake’s jacket and thinks it is him but when she follows him out to the parking garage, she discovers that it is really Christopher in disguise. When she goes to kill him, Ben stops her and threatens to kill her but she says she knows he won’t kill her. When Madison says that she killed Josh and tried to kill Amy for them, Ben reveals that he had his friends tape her confession, which they give to the police. Madison is taken away by the police but as they are stopped at a railroad crossing, Madison grabs the gun from the cop in the back with her and proceeds to kill the police. Since her parents are out of town, Amy is taken to Ben’s house to recuperate and Ben apologizes for his actions harming her. When he hears the doorbell ring, Ben goes to answer it but finds nobody there. When he heads back inside the house, he sees his mom lying on the kitchen floor just before someone knocks him out. When he comes too, Ben checks to make sure his mother is still alive, then goes to check on Amy only to find her missing. Ben goes looking for her and Madison and finds them at the pool, with Madison having chained Amy to a chair. Madison demands that Ben tell Amy that he loves Madison instead of her and when he refuses, she pushes Amy into the pool. Ben dives in to rescue her, and picks the lock on the handcuffs so he can bring her back to the surface. Madison attempts to attack Ben with a pool skimmer but he grabs the handle and drags her into the pool. Madison attempts to grab onto Ben, as she can’t swim, but Ben is easily able to avoid her and drags Amy out of the pool and revives her, leaving Madison to drown. Some time later, Ben watches a swim meet as a spectator, then heads out to his truck, where he joins Amy and they head off to start a new life together.

Swimfan was panned by the critics, holding a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A Fatal Attraction rip-off, Swimfan is a predictable, mediocre thriller.” Except for the scenes inside Madison’s house, all of the scenes in the movie had a light blue tint added to them, to simulate being under water. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $34.4 million off of a $10 million budget, nearly a third of it coming from it’s opening weekend, where it was #1 at the box office.

I think this movie could be considered an accurate representation of everything that is bad with teenagers. This really is a bad movie. The acting was terrible, with everyone being completely shallow and really displaying no real character development. Speaking of shallow, that is pretty much exactly what the plot was; a very shallow attempt at trying to make a compelling thriller but falling on it’s face. Everything was so predictable that I actually fell asleep at one point watching this because it was soo boring. The lighting for the movie, with the blue tint everywhere, was actually kind of interesting but not enough to help this movie. In the ocean of movies out there to watch, do yourself a favor and swim on past this one.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Standard