Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow aka Se ying diu sau (1978) – 6/10 Jackie Chan period martial arts movie review

Cast / crew
Jackie Chan
Lung Cheng
: Chien Fu
Siu Tien Yuen: Master Pai Cheng-Tien
Director: Yuen Wo Ping
Hwang Jang Lee: Lord Sheng Kuan
Producer: See-Yuen Ng

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

Se ying diu sau (1978)

Chien Fu is the dogsbody and punching bag for a local martial arts school but is eager to learn fighting for himself. He is about to find himself in the middle of a deadly battle of techniques as the master of Eagle Claw technique has been eliminating everyone who knows the Snake Fist technique and is only left with two to kill.

6/10

After failing to take up Bruce Lee’s mantle, producer See-Yuen Ng decided to move Jackie Chan into martial arts movies balanced with comedy. The result was this and, later that year, Drunken Master. Both are purely fight scenes with just enough story to justify them and a tiny bit of comedy here and there. The best comedy moment comes as Chan follows the two masters up a wall (onto the largest roof in movie history for the final fight: it’s open countryside!). They both ascend using near-superhuman ability and skill. Chan tries to follow but just bounces off. He leaves shot for a longer run up and, without missing a beat, returns with a ladder. It’s a very nice gag, brilliantly timed. As to the action, it’s mostly pretty impressive. There’s an imaginative fight with Jackie as a puppet, some very impressive technique with a food bowl (from director Yuen Wo Ping’s Dad), great physicality in the training and fight sequences and a decent, not overlong, final fight which even features what appears to be an unassisted triple jump-kick from Hwang Jang Lee. It’s BBFC 18 for no obvious reason though perhaps it’s because everyone has gigantic moles on their faces. It’s most disconcerting. Yes, that’s probably it.

This movie contains bad language and strong martial arts violence, real cat-versus-snake fight.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Bulletstorm (2011, PC, Games for Windows Live) – 9/10 first-person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Creative Director: Adrian Chmielarz
Lead Producer: Tanya Jessen
Lead Gameplay Designer: Edward Kay
Lead Animator: Jakub Kisiel
Principal FX Artist: Michael Kosieradzki
Lead Level Designer: Wojciech Madry
Lead Programmer: Lukasz Migas
Lead Gameplay Programmer: Grzegorz Mocarski
Lead Artist: Andrzej Pozmanski
Audio Director: Adam Skorupa
Lead Environment Artist: Tomasz Strzalkowski
Steven J. Blum: Grayson Hunt
Andrew Kashino: Ishi Sato
Jennifer Hale: Trishka
Chris Cox: Rell
Anthony DeLongis: General Sarrano

Bulletstorm (2011)

Ten years after discovering he and his black ops Dead Echo team were being duped into assassinating civilians by General Sarrano, Grayson Hunt comes across Sarrano’s battlecruiser, the Ulysses, and decides, drunk on alcohol and revenge, to ram him out of the sky. They both crashland on the planet Stygia where Grayson is going to have to sober up, really quickly.

9/10

It’s just fun, especially with the swears switched off. Things simply aren’t as much fun if your game is overbearingly effing and jeffing at you. Major highlight of the campaign is the model city level (Worst family fun vacation ever) and fighting with Waggleton P. Tallylicker. The single-player campaign is as good and longer and better paced than most contemporary games with a simple story (get from A to B) clearly told and the core shooting action is frenetic, accurate, imaginative, varied, awesome and fun, fun, fun.

This game contains optional sexual swear words, frequent bad language and optional gory and graphic violence, strong, highly fantasised violence.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011, PS3) – 9/10 contemporary military first person shooter game review

Cast / crew
Writer: Paul Haggis
Writer: Will Staples

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)

With World War III in full swing, the baffled US and Russian presidents need to meet up with each other but Makarov is going to ensure that will never happen while he implements the next stage of his insane but successful plan: a bombing campaign against Europe’s capitals.

9/10

Such is the perfectly urgent pace of the outstanding shooting action that this irresistible game provides terrific excitement and spectacle throughout its generous amount of content. There are some great missions and, though its convolutions didn’t really detract from Modern Warfare 2, the story has been really tightened up with more obvious and relevant goals. It is notable that, despite three outings for Soap and Price, there is absolutely no emotional attachment to and, arguably, even purely visual recognition of them (mohawk and hat, respectively, if you’re struggling). Still, with such outstanding, industry-leading gameplay mechanics, emotions and characters turned out to be, perhaps appropriately, entirely expendable.

This game contains mild swear words and graphic war violence, some extreme violence right at the end.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

Paranoia Agent (2004) – 8/10 difficult-to-categorise psychological crime anime review

Cast / crew
Writer (Original Story): Satoshi Kon
Screenplay Developer: Seishi Minakami
Developer: Seishi Minakami
Director: Satoshi Kon

Paranoia Agent (2004)

Tsukiko Sagi is a character designer under pressure to follow up her huge success with the cute Maromi. Her success and innocent demeanour mean she isn’t liked at work. On her way home one evening, she sees and is scared by a homeless old woman but is then attacked in a nearby car park by a boy with a bent baseball bat and golden inline skates. Her attack and "Lil’ Slugger" make the news but some people aren’t convinced it really happened. One of the policemen assigned believes her, one doesn’t and there is a disblieving gossip journalist, with pressures of his own, sniffing around trying to make a story.

8/10

"They will never get an answer no matter how hard they try to analyze it." – Paranoia Agent creator / director Satoshi Kon.

And so this instant-classic anime is what you make of it. While the Satoshi Kon quote above is talking specifically about the regular opening sequence (featuring all the characters in the show laughing), it does apply to the series as a whole. There is a series-long story-line, there is much food for thought, the animation is reference quality, the subject unusual and ambitious and you can get answers but you won’t find the answers Kon put in there… because he didn’t.

This series contains adult dialogue and strong violence, unpleasant and very gory scenes, gory and distressing scene involving the death of a dog, teenage suicide and sex scenes, references to paedophilia.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Shinjuku Incident (2009, Jackie Chan Crime Drama) – 7/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Jackie Chan
Producer: Willie Chan
Producer: Solon So
Writer: Derek Yee
Writer: Chun Tin Nam
Jackie Chan: Steelhead
Director: Derek Yee
Naoto Takenaka: Inspector Kitano
Daniel Wu: Jie
Xu Jing Lei: Xiu Xiu / Yuko Eguchi
Masaya Kato: Toshinari Eguchi
Toru Minegishi: Koichi Muranishi

Shinjuku Incident (2009)

Chinese farmer Steelhead illegally travels to Japan to find his girlfriend who left a year or so ago to make her fortune. When he arrives, he discovers the streets are not paved with gold. Not unless you’re willing to paint them with blood first.

7/10

This is unquestionably the best written Jackie Chan movie in his entire career. Shinjuku Incident has an interesting story in an interesting setting with convincingly crafted characters. Jackie exhibits a baffling character trait where he refuses money as a gift or for services rendered but is happy enough to steal, cheat and kill for it. This isn’t a good man forced to do bad things; he sees a, criminal, shortcut and takes it and discovers he’s rather good living on the wrong side of the law. There have been a few Jackie Chan movies where they said ‘you’ll see Jackie as you’ve never seen him before.’ This is the first and only time it’s been true. What’s amazing is that the setups for Chan-tastic fight sequences are all there but then he either runs away (and gets reinforcements) or flails inelegantly. He’s not even called Jack or Jackie in the movie (his name is Steelhead though, which is sufficiently awesome). It really is a genuine shock and is another reason to see this movie, if only to experience that surprisingly deep feeling.

This movie contains mild swear words and substance abuse and strong graphic violence, gory and very unpleasant scenes and mild non-sexual nudity, sex scene.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009, Action Shooter, PS3) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Jason West

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

Single player: Take on the role of a contemporary American soldier fighting against Russian invaders on American soil and a British commando fighting some other dudes somewhere else. Ah, yes, a plot. Modern Warfare 2 has one. That explains all that. Sort of.

Online multiplayer: classic multiplayer modes are bolstered by a robust and lengthy rewards system involving perks, equipment and levelling.

Spec Ops: earn stars for tackling coop-focused missions (split-screen or online) at different difficulty levels. Most of them can also be played alone.

9/10

A remarkably non-sensical and poorly-presented story does nothing to diminish the totally incredible, perfect, genre-defining shooting experience that Infinity Ward delivers yet again. Add to this the usual roster of multiplayer goodness and a new coop mode and you’ve got an incredibly polished, superbly-animated action game which pushes all the right buttons but you might feel a little more manipulated and hit-over-the-head than before. The controversial and optional civilian massacre level is really bad in design, story and concept and simply should not have been included as-is for quality reasons.

This game contains two sexual swear words and graphic war violence, optional potentially disturbing massacre violence.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

Links

Taken (2007, Liam Neeson Albanian-Punching Thriller) – 7/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Liam Neeson: Bryan
Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Luc Besson
Writer: Robert Mark Kamen
Maggie Grace: Kim
Xander Berkeley: Stuart
Olivier Rabourdin: Jean-Claude
Gérard Watkins: St-Clair
Famke Janssen: Lenore

Taken (2007)

Ex-covert ops Bryan Mills turns to his old skill set when his daughter is kidnapped in Paris by human traffickers.

7/10

This is a crisp thriller where a very angry Liam Neeson goes to Paris and punches nasty Albanian kidnappers in the throat (they took his daughter). And sometimes, that’s all you want. Neeson is great, he convinces completely and spits out his principle speech ("I will find you. I will kill you.") with a remarkable degree of controlled super-intensity. This is one of a number of movies that Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen keep making that look like they should be direct-to-video trash but which are better produced and written than they appear. They definitely give Liam Neeson a character to play and then line up plenty of baddies for him to hit very hard. Director Pierre Morel over-edits some of the vehicular action but maintains a good rhythm for the hand-to-hand, or rather hand-to-skull, action. He also avoids making the violence graphic and gratuitous; this is far less graphic than Banlieu 13 but received a higher certificate.

This movie contains an obscured sexual swear word, mild swear words, bad language, adult dialogue and subject matter of forced substance abuse and strong melee violence, brief graphic gun violence, gun violence, torture scene, unpleasant scenes.

Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.