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Let’s take a look as some beautiful, but dangerous, woman: La Femme Nikita the original series (1997-2001) based on the film Point of No Return (1993)—also reviewed starring Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne. Stay clear of blonds with guns.

Anyone who is a film buff has come across the term “femme fatale” which is a French term that’s translated to “fatal woman.”  Films over the years have made these characters into beautiful, but dangerous, women.  These characters are the ones you love to hate.  The JPFmovies staff has looked into some femme fatale entertainment and decided to review the La Femme Nikita franchise.  First there was the film starring Bridget Fonda, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel, Anne Bancroft and Olivia d’Abo in Point of No Return (1992).  All fine performers and all         quite young in this film.  Bridget Fonda is literally a child, Keitel and Byrne look like they are in their late 20’s.  The JPFmovies staff was particularly excited to watch a film with Bridget Fonda in it—you don’t see her in too many films.

Our femme fatale, Maggie Hayward (Bridget Fonda), is a violent and unstable drug addict found guilty of murdering a police officer, and is sentenced to death by lethal injection.  A secret government organization fakes her death because they need to have a young female operative in the field.  Agent Bob (Gabriel Byrne) is charged with transforming her from this renegade youth into a sophisticated assassin. She is given a makeover by senior Operative Amanda (Anne Bancroft) and training that turns her into not only a beautiful woman, but also a trained killer.  The pressure is on though as she is only given 6 months reach operative level efficiency otherwise, she will literally get a bullet in the brain.

She passes her final test: an assassination of a VIP eating at a restaurant. Maggie kills the VIP and his bodyguard and then is pursued by a team of the VIP’s bodyguards and then escapes by jumping down a laundry chute. Maggie is relocated to California and finds her first relationship with J.P. (Dermot Mulroney). She promptly performs her first two assignments, both hit jobs, but she begins to hate her work.  Naturally she wants out but the agency has other ideas.  She is told that if she can pull off one last job Bob will try to get her out of the agency.

 

Maggie and her partner have trouble with this job and it goes sideways.  In a early version of The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, Victor, a “cleaner” (Harvey Keitel) is called salvage the mission. Unknown to Maggie, he has also been ordered to kill both agents as well because one failure results in death. After killing the wounded Beth in front of Maggie, he drives her to Fahd’s home she gets what she needs to.  The cleaner is supposed to kill her as well but she is crafty enough to turn the tables and gets away.  Bob (her handler) takes pity on her and falsely tells his boss that Maggie is dead setting her free.  The last scene is Maggie walking away in the pouring rain as she starts anew.

The JPFmovies staff is a big fan of Ms. Fonda and excited to see this film.  Seeing the early version of Keitel as Mr. Wolf as the “cleaner” is frankly hilarious.  Byrne, who also made a great 1990’s film The Usual Suspects, looks like he is in grade school in this movie.  Yeah kinda cliché but all in all not bad if you look at this film as the start of successful franchise depicting secret government organizations transforming young, beautiful, blonde trouble making girls into deadly women.

 

The moral of the story is never trust a blonde with a gun.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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That right JPFmovies fans check out page 4 of our movie review index provided for your convenience.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

We here at JPFmovies hear a lot about Manga—though we have never read one they seem to be the basis for a lot of Japanese films. So let’s take a look at some more Manga that have made it to the big screen. Samurai Commando Mission 1549 (2005).

Yes JPFmovie fans by your request we are going to look at some more manga books that have evolved to the big screen.  This manga series focusing on the adventures of a modern-day Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Japan’s army) unit that accidentally travels through time to the Warring States period of Japanese history.

 

The Japanese army unit is conducting an experiment which is meant to shield military equipment from the effects of solar flares with the use of electromagnetic shields. However, these shields open a time portal and all soldiers assigned to the test suddenly find themselves stranded on a battlefield in the Sengoku period (the year 1549) and under attack by a samurai army.  Initially a number of the soldiers are killed which was not a bight move by the primitive warriors as the soldiers retaliate with modern formidable arsenal.  Several hours later, a reverse effect occurs, and a wounded samurai warrior suddenly appears in the 21st century.

Following so far?  Fast forward a couple of years and black holes are starting to appear all over Japan—the result of a changing timeline as the modern soldiers live and operate in the past.  Well the Army needs to do something to prevent the destruction of what is modern day Japan.

Conditions are right to repeat the experiment and send a new unit back in time to bring back the stranded soldiers in an effort to stop the potential destruction of modern day Japan.  Well the samurai brought forward in time has been living here for a couple of years and after suffering some culture shock is chomping at the bit to go back to his own time and resume his place as a samurai.  Well we see the unit prepare to go back in time and set thing right, but some frustrating precautions are taken.  For instance, the soldiers are bringing non-lethal bio-degradable bullets in an effort to minimize their footprint.  Fools!  They are going into one of the most violent times in history and they are worried about biodegradable bullets?

 

When the newcomers first arrive back in time they are ambushed by a bunch of samurai just waiting to kill them.  It seems that the first bunch of soldiers have used their technology to take over with the unit commander killing the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga and taking his place.  These soldiers have used their modern technology to not only survive but to conquer and have started building things like a refinery and a bomb that will destroy half of Mount Fuji since these guys want to rewrite Japanese history.  Also with their advanced technology they have been able to upkeep their equipment and weapons.

Long story short there is a struggle between the soldiers trying to conquer Japan and change history and our newcomers who want to restore the timeline.  With the window for the people to return to the future closing a battle of wits and new and old technology rages.  After destroying the oil refinery the base of operations for the soldiers bent on changing the timeline is destroyed and the people barely make it back to the future so to speak.

 

Yeah the movie is kind of predictable but it does look at one of the scenarios that probably everyone has thought at one time or another; that is, what would happen if somehow modern day military technology were transported back in time and used against primitive weapons.  The JPFmovies staff is currently researching this issue but there have been several American movies that have sent modern day aircraft carriers back to Pearl Harbor for instance and how it would change the outcome of history.  Besides it is also kind of fun to see modern day weapons devastate primitive “screw heads” as Bruce Campbell put it in Army of Darkness.

It is a lite film, predictable but not unwatchable.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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Remember Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in Cocktail? Yeah it was an awful movie but leave it to the Japanese to produce a miniseries about bartenders and make it work! Bartender (2011).

Hello JPFmovies fans and welcome to another review of something a little different.  The JPFmovies staff remembers watching Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in the 1988 film Cocktail and wondering just how low Michael Caine could go after his stellar performance in Blame it on Rio (1984) and rolling our eyes at the thin plot, predictable ending and an overall shitty film—but of course earned a ton of money.  After that fiasco, members of the JPFmovies staff were certain that we had seen the last of media glorifying bartenders who, according to Michael Caine were “the aristocrats of the working class.”  However, in our relentless efforts to review the good, the bad and the ugly the JPFmovies staff was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Bartender (2011) a Japanese mini-series based on a manga of the same name.

Ryu Sasakura (Masaki Aiba) is a bar tending prodigy who won a European cocktail contest. He got into an argument with his instructor and was fired. In a state of dejection he came back to his native country of Japan.  He finds work again in Tokyo and also meets Miwa Kurushima. Meanwhike, Ryu Sasakura is able to listen to his customer’s problems and help alleviate their worries with his special cocktail mixes including work and love and family troubles, one drink at a time.  Our bar tending prodigy even takes on a disciple and enters him into a contest—only to have his lose magnificently!

Why is the Japanese series tolerable?  Because it does not portray the bartender as some flamboyant circus performer out to land a babe, some cash or another material recompense but a person who takes his craft seriously and listens to his patrons without judgment while providing honest, simple advice.  He even goes so far as to track the water used in a customer’s hometown to make the drink authentic.  What more could you want in a bartender?  No Ryu was not flinging glasses three feet in the air while dancing to some 80’s rock, he made his drinks with precision, attention to detail and an eye to match the booze with its drinker.  A consummate professional.  This is not a heavy and gritty film that makes you sweat, but a nice lite series that provides a decent respite from the world today, much like going to your favorite watering hole.  Take a few hours and watch it, you will be glad you did.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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Payback (1999) and Payback the Director’s Cut (2006)—the same movie but not even close. A study in how the editing of a film can completely change it.

Payback is a 1999 American neo-noir crime film written and directed by Brian Helgeland in his directorial debut, and stars Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, and David Paymer.  But in 2006, Helgeland released his director’s cut that hardly resembles the 1999 theatrical version.  The “original” Payback starts off with Mel Gibson (Porter—we don’t know if it is his first or last name) narrating his current predicament; that is, being operated on by some back alley surgeon who takes two bullets out of his back and uses a bottle of booze to sterilize the wound.   Porter’s narration begins to tell a story of crime and betrayal showing that there is truly no honor among thieves.

 

Porter and another criminal named Val Resnik hit a Triad gang for $140,000.00.  They made a clean get away and while they were dividing up the money, Porter’s wife shoots him in the back allowing Resnik to take the entire heist so he can buy his way back into an all-powerful organized crime outfit—for some unknown reason Resnick owed this group $130,000.00 and once paid he was allowed back in.  While Porter is writhing in agony after his wife shot him, Resnick walks up to him and produces a picture of Porter with another woman which was enough to convince his wife to betray and try to kill him.  Both Resnik and the wife leave him for dead.

Somehow Porter makes it to the back-alley surgeon and spends 5 months recovering from his wounds. When he is able Porter sets out to collect his ½ of the heist that was originally agreed upon by the partners in crime.  The rest of the film is Porter tracking down Resnik, dealing with corrupt cops and a well-organized criminal enterprise in order to get his $70,000.00.  Porter is very clever and outwits anyone that stands in his way. Including putting away two very corrupt cops, killing numerous foot soldiers of the “outfit” as well as the enterprises’ underboss and of course Resnick.  Naturally after some grueling fighting and torture Porter recovers his money and gets away with Rosie, a hooker he used to drive for and who helped him in his quest for the cash.

The 1999 theatrical version did well at the box office and world wide grossed approximately $160,000,000.00.   Helgeland went on to make a name for himself, writing and directing such films as LA Confidential, Man on Fire and Robin Hood.  His one big mistake is a film previously reviewed by the JPFmovies staff The Postman—winner of a Golden Raspberry award because it just sucked.

Then in 2006, Helgeland releases Payback Straight Up The Directors Cut.  The new release is materially different than the theatrical version and in the eyes of the JPFmovies staff much better.  The Directors Cut is much darker involving an unappealing hero, little humor, some graphic scenes including one where he beats the shit out of his wife and no neat, happy ending but instead a dead dog (named Porter).  It is a totally different film, gritty edgy and no one in the story is a “good guy.”  But when you think about it, Helgeland was right from an economic point of view to release the 1999 version to the public.  The theatrical version is funnier, easier accessible and more spectacular most of the shots show Porter with a light facial expression, almost smirking, and of course the dog survives.  Unfortunately, much more appealing to a wider audience which translated into $160,000,000.00.

The Director’s Cut is a much better film, but for narrower, hardcore audience and would not have made nearly as much money.  Payback is yet another example of how Hollywood has turned the art of film into nothing more than dollars and cents. JPFmovies recommends that you watch both versions of the film if for no other reason than to see just how powerful editing can be.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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The JPFmovies staff and longtime contributor Tom V. discuss the current state of the American film industry.

The JPFmovies staff and longtime contributor Tom V. discuss the current state of the American film industry.

Hello again JPFmovie fans yeah, we know our staff needs to bring some more game to the table so here is a fresh start.  As anyone who has followed the JPFmovies posts over the years will tell you we have taken the position that Hollywood churns out nothing but crap.  However, after a recent discussion with long time contributor Tom V., we have refined our position, what follows is our discussion with Tom V:

JPFmovies:  It is nice to hear from you again.  During our last meeting about potential reviews you and the JPFmovies staff were considering when you brought up some excellent points.  You have a different take on why the state of the Hollywood film industry is what is it is today.

Tom V: Yes, I do on several fronts.  Look at the advertising/marketing budgets of films like “Fury” an excellent film in my opinion versus some Transformers movie for example.

JPFmovies:  Could you expand on that a little more.  I mean it sounds like you think that Hollywood has become nothing more than a giant spreadsheet and a bunch of focus groups.

Tom V: Yes, that is exactly it.  Hollywood no longer backing classics, they will reluctant will.  Movies like Mutiny on the Bounty, Casablanca, Good Fellas and Reservoir Dogs.  These films are either not made anymore or the studios simply don’t invest in these types of films the way they used.  They seem to have a sixth-grade focus mentality because that is what seems to sell because these films are costly babysitters.

JPFmovies: Well what has happened to the talent that made some of the best movies in history like Sir Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner, Blackhawk Down or Kill Bill?

Tom V.: Over the past couple of years you’ve seen the talent move to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other independent film outlets.  What Hollywood has been regulated too are comedies with singing animals and politically correct films, action films more about the more expensive special effects scenes and other formula driven rubbish.

 JPFmovies: OK so you see all of the talent migrating (both actors and writers) to the new business models like Netflix and Amazon—do this that Hollywood with adjust to these changing times?

Tom V.: It will never happen Hollywood seems to be stuck in a holding pattern of mediocrity.

JPFmovies:  Ok why don’t proven directors like Scott, Tarantino or David Lynch get the resources they deserve?

Tom V.: Because it doesn’t sell as many tickets as a formulaic Transformers movie despite the obvious merit of films like of Blade Runner 2 because their focus groups projected lower profits.  That film for instance should have been made by Netflix or Amazon because it would have been funded and promoted much better.

JPFmovies: So, you believe that the free market has allowed companies like Netflix, Amazon, AMC and others to think outside of the box and make great entertainment for far less money.

Tom V.: Yeah sure.  Amazon and Netflix are on the cutting edge but don’t have the resources to go toe to toe with a company like Paramount—yet.  For instance, the Netflix series Marco Polo was an amazing series had to be canceled because of the $100,000,000.00 price tag for another season—which for a company like Netflix or Amazon which could have probably handled the costs, but they wisely spread those resources to other programs.

JPFmovies:  What are your favorite series to date from Amazon and Netflix?

Tom V.:  Marco Polo for sure from Netflix and Man in the High Castle from Amazon.  And even these films sucked, at least I would have avoided robots beat the crap out of each other yet again.

JPFmovies:  Do you have any predictions for the upcoming Raspberry Awards?

Tom V.: Too early to call.

JPFmovies:  What can we expect your next review to be?

Tom V.: I think it will be Brad Pit’s 2014 film Fury—which cost $68,000,000.00 and took in approximately $211,000,000.00, so these good movies can in fact be profitable. This film defied the odds of the Transformer garbage.

JPFmovies:  Any closing remarks you want to tell the audience.

Tom V.:  The only way you can change the mediocrity of Hollywood is with your pocketbook.

JPFmovies:  Thank you for your time. And we look forward to your next review.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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