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Monthly Archives: December 2012

As you know we reviewed Glen Garry Glen Ross some time ago. Now here is a little Glen Garry Christmas for all you movie fans.

As you know we reviewed Glen Garry-Glen Ross http://wp.me/pFzz5-bL and thought that Alec Baldwin should have won an academy award for his “motivational” speech to the seedy salesmen.  Well now here is a little something for the holidays–enjoy.   I almost started crying I was laughing so hard.

 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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700 days of Battle us vs. the Police–Probably the Funniest Non-English Film I’ve Ever Seen.

This movie for all of its great lines and comical scenes is a movie Hollywood simply would never make.  Why?  because it is too simple.  There are no action scenes, unnecessary subplots or super-graphics, merely a bunch of teenagers having fun with an uptight policeman.  As I’ve said in the past, Hollywood films nowadays are nothing more than a bunch of special effects and action scenes strung together with a “plot” to fill in the space.  This movie is different, 700 Days is an episodic look at the escalation of the war between a group of mischievous high school students and a strict, uptight new cop in town.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The showdown begins when one of the team is caught speeding on his bike past a hidden radar gun and is given a ticket.  Not to take this lying down, his fellow group of prankster-teens decides to retaliate by taking revenge on the new sheriff in town.  It starts with simple speeding through the radar trap on bicycles to annoy the waiting policemen but gradually moves to more elaborate and bizarre tomfooleries.  Like running past the speed camera with a brass band trying to disrupt the radar gun, planting pornographic manga around the police station and stealing fireworks.  Though the actions and results of these pranks may, in the grand scheme of things, seem to be of little significance, the officer eventually finds himself brought down to their level and retaliating with similar means, hence starting a small-town war with no end in sight.

On the surface there may not seem to be any real plot progression, however, the irreverent and outrageous humor makes the film increasingly engaging as each side tries to one up and out-fox the other in order to claim king of the mountain status.  Director Tsukamoto even does it with style, making moments of the film literally look like frames of a Japanese comics—apparently this film is based on a very popular manga (a Japanese comic that people of all ages read covering a vast array of topics) and Fukada keep the laughs coming almost constantly, making for a pleasurable comedy.

Often there is not too much one can say in a review of a film like this without giving away the store except that the right chemistry is evident between the cast of characters making their performances lively, funny and convincing.

 

Typically foreign comedies don’t translate well into other languages—not this one.  Hollywood should take some pretty damn good notes on this movie’s methods and writing if they ever want to produce something original besides the usual dreck they force on an innocent public.  Not everything has to be a $50 million special effects season bonanza or some idiotic Martin Lawrence and whoever he currently teamed up with in some cliché bad cop movie to get some laughs.  The fact of the matter is, is that at every high school in this country you will find some unsung heroes like the gang headed by Granny bike leading the charge against unjust, unjustified and absolutely unnecessary oppression by narrow-minded fanatics who have nothing more in life other than their petty rules and torments.  The sooner Granny Bike & Co. push them over the edge so they get over themselves the better off we all are since little healthy rebellion never hurt anything; in fact it makes our kids stronger giving them the backbone to stand up to a system which may not have their best interest at heart.  Again, this simple premise is lost on today’s motion picture studio decision makers in their concern with some nonsensical sappy requirement to have every base covered in the last scene so that all loose ends are tied up letting everyone go home feeling nice, neat and complete.  They are nothing more than a bunch of chicken shits in my mind.  This film has more humor in the first 20 minutes than all the comedies produced in 2012 combined.  I dare you to remember back to your youth and not admire or reminisce about some of the pranks these guys pulled in a couple hundred days.  And if you can’t, you sure missed out on a great portion of life that you will never get back.

Too simple for Hollywood, no question about it.  Too bad of course.  Based on the clips I have included you are really getting a taste of what this movie is about.  You’d be a fool not to watch this film and urge our formulaic unoriginal and clichéd film industry to produce at least something like this just once in a while.

I hope you enjoyed it and please watch when you get a chance.

 

JPFMovies

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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There are bad sequels and then there is Smokey & the Bandit II (1980).

We here at JPFmovies have consistently maintained that rarely is a sequel as good as the original.  Smokey & the Bandit II only adds to the mounting evidence proving this unfortunate fact.  Sure, once in a while you’ll get a sequel that is as good or better than its predecessor, however, never count on it, and certainly don’t count on it in this film.

We have already reviewed Smokey and the Bandit giving it high marks for Gleason’s outstanding portrayal of Sheriff Buford T Justice, Burt Reynold’s smart ass—even arrogant lines that don’t turn you off and of course, Sally Field as the frog.

While Gleason does the best he can to carry this film it sure isn’t enough.  In fact, I’m shocked that director Hal Needham who sold more Trans Ams than all the dealerships combined could put his name in such a pathetic movie.  Not only does most of the original cast appear in this film, but we also have the added “treat” of Dom DeLuise playing a gynecologist who takes care of an elephant.

Smokey and the Bandit II is a retread of the first film, while simultaneously completely ignoring it.  Here we have the same situation: a proposition by the Enos’s, Bandit and Cledus hauling a load in a short amount of time, Bandit also having the bride ride along shotgun, Justice and his son-in-law in hot pursuit, a Trans Am, and country music galore (including a brief appearance by the Staler Brothers).  Yet, the more it takes from the original masterpiece, the less it feels like a real movie.  This is a film made for either little children or idiots, with some of the most tired gags and dopiest schmaltz ever injected in a chase flick.

Now that you know how I really feel about this movie, let’s look a little deeper at this monstrosity.

Big Enos Burdett (Pat McCormick) is running for Governor of Texas against another candidate, John Coen (David Huddleston).  After a figurative and literal “mud and manure slinging” between the two, they are given a thorough tongue-lashing by the sitting governor.  While Burdett is leaving the office he overhears the governor yelling at an assistant to take responsibility for transporting a crate from Miami to the Republican Party convention in Dallas.  To try and win favoritism from the existing administration, he enlists the help of Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) to carry out the task.

Cledus then attempts to convince the Bandit to “do it one last time.” Unfortunately, in the time since their previous challenge, the Bandit has split from his love interest Carrie aka “Frog” (Sally Field) and become an alcoholic.  In fact, little Enos correctly describes Bandit as being in the shit house.  Cledus is forced to seek the help of Frog to encourage the Bandit to sober up and regain his fitness, since Big Enos has raised the stakes of the game to $400,000, equal to $1,128,271 in today’s dollars.  Once again, Frog abandons her wedding to Buford T. Justice’s (Jackie Gleason) son Junior (Mike Henry) to help by getting a phone call (long-distance of course) just before she is about to take her vows.  She is initially persuaded more by the money than her love for Bandit.  She buys him a 1980 Turbo Trans Am named “Son of Trigger,” powered by the Turbo 301, by trading in Junior’s car.

Unbeknownst to them what’s in the crate is a large pregnant elephant that they are supposed to get from Miami to Dallas in a short period of time.  Of course, the mother elephant gives birth en route, causing a rift between Bandit and the rest of the team because he is obsessed with making the deadline.

Because Gleason is having problems catching Bandit he enlists the help of his two brothers (also played by him) to try and apprehend this scofflaw.  Justice lures the Bandit into a valley, with a line of Mounties (in red police cars) on one hill side, Texas Rangers, in white cars, on the other.  Bandit orders Cledus to continue delivering Charlotte to Dallas.  Cledus later returns, with a convoy of trucks to help destroy all of the police cars.  Charlotte and the doctor watch the action from afar.  After the mass destruction of police cars, only Buford, Gaylord, and Reginald come out relatively unscathed.  Bandit and Cledus escape the valley by driving across a bridge of tractor trailers.  As the Justices follow, a trailer pulls out resulting in their cars falling down and being destroyed. However, Buford’s car is still operable, though folded up in the middle and missing its doors and roof.  Justice and Junior are cut off by a farm tractor, and they drive off the road, hitting an embankment by a pond, throwing Junior into the pond.  When asked what he was thinking about, Buford simply says, “Retiring.”

The only decent thing about the scene is that a world-record automobile jump was captured on film during the “roundup sequence,” when stuntman Buddy Joe Hooker jumped a 1974 Dodge Monaco over 150 feet.  Hooker suffered compressed vertebra as a result of a hard landing.  He is one lucky guy.

Of course, Bandit finds himself again and he and the Frog sail off into the sunset– so to speak.

Smokey and the Bandit II is a movie that could only result at the end of a bender mixed with some sort of hallucinogen.  Attempts to be cute only lead to embarrassing corniness, in this egregiously annoying follow-up that has the same cast and character names, while no one plays the same person they were in the first film.  The final insulting wad is eventually shot in a ludicrous showdown between the cops and a bunch of renegade semis, and the only real loser is us, the unfortunate fans viewing it.  And unfortunately I remember seeing this movie in the theater so actually I had to pay for it.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a little Woo goes a long way: The Killer (1989).

The Killer is a 1989 Hong Kong crime film written and directed by John Woo and starring Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee and Sally Yeh.  Chow is triad assassin Ah Jong, who accidentally damages the eyes of the Jennie (Sally Yeh) with his gun’s muzzle flash during one of his hits.  He later discovers that if Jennie does not have an expensive operation she will go blind.  To get the money for Jennie, Ah Jong decides to perform one last hit—and it will indeed be his last.

A police detective, Li Ying (Danny Lee), spots the assassin completing the job but he escapes.  Triad leader Hay Wong Hoi double crosses Ah Jong, and instead of paying him, sends a group of hitmen to kill him.  During Ah Jong’s escape from the Triad, a young child is injured by a stray bullet.  After dispatching the attackers, Ah Jong rushes the child to the hospital while being followed by Li and his partner Sgt. Tsang.  Once the child regains consciousness at the casualty ward, Ah Jong escapes Li and Tsang who becomes obsessed with Fat’s act of goodwill.

The detectives stakeout Jennie at her apartment and plan to arrest him the next time he visits her.  Ah Jong visits Jennie and is caught in an ambush from which he manages to scramble away.  Li and Tsang explain to Jennie that Ah Jong was the assassin who blinded her at the nightclub. Ah Jong meets with his Triad manager, Fung Sei (Chu Kong), and demands his payment for finishing the job.  Fung Sei brings a suitcase for Ah Jong, who discovers it to be filled with sheets of blank paper before finding himself in the middle of a Triad ambush.  He dispatches all of the Triads, but leaves his old friend Fung Sei alive.  The next day, after Fung Sei’s pleas for Wong Hoi fall on deaf ears, Ah Jong does a fantastic hit-and-run on Wong Hoi’s car, wounding the Triad leader and killing his driver and bodyguard.

Li begins to close-in on Ah Jong after Tsang follows Fung Sei; Tsang is killed after revealing the location of his home.  Because of their friendship, Fung Sei leaves a large stockpile of weaponry for Ah Jong.  The home is another ambush; Li is first to attack followed by a group of Triad hitmen. Li gets caught in the middle of the crossfire between Ah Jong and the Triad.  Ah Jong and Li flee, and while Ah Jong’s wounds are mended, they find themselves bonding and becoming friends– it seems strangers can make good bedfellows.  Ah Jong tells Li that should anything happen to him, Li should try to have Ah Jong’s eyes donated for Jennie’s surgery; otherwise, he is to use Ah Jong’s money to fly her overseas to have her surgery performed by more experienced doctors.

Li, Ah Jong, and Jennie wait in a church for Fung Sei to return with Ah Jong’s money.  Fung Sei arrives with the money, horribly beaten by Wong Hoi’s gangsters who have followed him.  He is mortally wounded when the hitmen barge into the church.  After Ah Jong ends Fung Sei’s misery, he and Li engage in a long and bloody shootout with the Triad all over the church. The battle ends with a Mexican standoff between Ah Jong, Li and Wong Hoi.  Ah Jong manages to wound Wong Hoi, but the Triad leader lands two bullets in Ah Jong’s eyes before the latter dies of his wounds.  When a police squadron arrives in the scene, Wong Hoi begs to be taken into custody.  Frustrated by the outcome of the battle, Li fatally shoots Wong Hoi before he himself is arrested.

The Killer is an important and influential film for both Western and Asian filmmakers.  Film scholars have noted the similarities between Woo’s style and The Killer with the films La Femme Nikita (1990) and Léon (1994) directed by French director Luc Besson.  Kenneth E. Hall described Léon as having the similar character configuration of a hitman and the person he protects. In Nikita, the main character’s crisis of conscience after performing a number of hits is also seen in The Killer.  And, not surprisingly, Quentin Tarantino developed films that were influenced by The Killer.  In the film Jackie Brown, Tarantino wrote dialog referencing The Killer.  No references to the film are made in the original novel.

The Killer was also influential in hip hop music.  American hip hop artist, and Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon released his critically praised debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. (1995) that sampled numerous portions of dialog from the film.  RZA, the producer of the album described the albums themes by stating that “Rae and Ghost was two opposite guys as far as neighborhoods were concerned, I used John Woo’s The Killer.  You got Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee.  They have to become partners to work shit out.”  Woo apparently felt honored that the group sampled The Killer and asked for no monetary return from them.

Director John Woo has described The Killer as being about “honor and friendship,” “trying to find out if there is something common between two people” and as a “romantic poem.”  The structure of the film follows two men on the opposite side of the law who find a relation to each other in their opposition of a greater evil, Wong Hoi, the leader of the Triad.  The relationship between the two main characters was influenced by the Spy vs. Spy comics from Alfred E Newman’s Mad Magazine.  It is reported that Woo recalled “when I was young I was fascinated with the cartoon–I love it very much…the white bird and the black bird are always against each other, but deep in their heart, they are still friendly, and the idea came from that.”

Though the film received praise and box office success outside of Hong Kong, The Killer’s success around the world made several Hong Kong filmmakers jealous: “It created a certain kind of resentment in the Hong Kong film industry.  One thing I can say for sure is, the American, European, Japanese, Korean and even the Taiwanese audiences and critics appreciated The Killer a lot more than it was in Hong Kong.”

Naturally because of Hollywood’s lack of imagination, an American remake of the killer is in the works.  Director John H Lee will be remaking the film which is supposed to take place in Chinatown, Korea town and south-central Los Angeles.  Luckily, the remake will be produced by John Woo and is set to be filmed in 3-D.  Let’s be honest, a remake of John Woo’s The Killer was inevitable.  While this flick may not be as well-loved as Woo’s Hard Boiled it’s still a master class in acting, heroic bloodshed and ultra-violent gunplay.  Unfortunately, US audiences largely refuse to see films created in other countries probably because they can’t read subtitles not to mention anything starring a non-white actor, or, failing that, Will Smith, so it’s almost surprising that it’s taken this long for Hollywood to decide that the film ought to be recreated with a white lead and an American setting.

My guess is the remake will be a piece of film junk that only insults the original masterpiece created by Woo in the late 1980’s.  With any luck, however, it may be as good as the remake of Death of Samurai released last year.  But I’m not betting on it.

What can you say about this movie?  It was powerful, influential and ahead of its time much like many of John Woo’s films.  One of JPFMovies trademark sayings is “a little Woo goes a long way.”  Now imagine what a lot of Woo does and you’ve got The Killer.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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