‘Princess Blade’ (Shura Yukihime) lacks cohesion

Hideaki Ito in 'Princess Blade'
Hideaki Ito in ‘Princess Blade’

[rating=2]Starring: Hideaki Ito, Yumiko Shaku, Shirô Sano, Yoichi Numata, Kyusaku Shimada, Yoko Maki
Director(s): Shinsuke Sato
Writer(s): Kei Kunii, Shinsuke Sato

Princess Blade, released in 2001, is a Japanese swordplay film set in a futuristic world with some wonderful imagery and an interesting concept, but lacks the cohesion necessary to make it a great film. It establishes a world and time of its own, set in an undesignated, almost post-apocalyptic world with a feudal system like that of ancient Japan. Within this setting, Princess Blade sets off in several different plot directions but lacks the details and interactions that would make the film feel more whole and complete.

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Bernie Mac shines in ‘Mr. 3,000’

Bernie Mac in 'Mr. 3,000'
Bernie Mac in ‘Mr. 3,000’

[rating=3]Starring: Bernie Mac, Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Michael Rispoli, Angela Bassett
Director(s): Charles Stone III
Writer(s): Story by Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell; Screenplay by Eric Champnella, Keith Mitchell, Howard Michael Gould

There are probably a handful of actors around that I’d be willing to watch, regardless of the film. One of those people is Bernie Mac, who I think is a talented performer, and he definitely shines in Mr. 3,000.

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Tony Jaa Kicks Open Cultural Doors

Tony Jaa battles in 'Ong Bak'
Tony Jaa battles in ‘Ong Bak’

The first time I saw Tony Jaa in person, he was being interviewed by The RZA of Wu Tang for MTV at the Los Angeles premiere of his latest film, Ong Bak, which opens this Friday, Feb. 11. Tony was displaying an amazing jump stunt, which involved his doing a full backward, head over feet rotation from a standing position, and hitting a stationary target. It was really cool to see live.Afterwards, I got the opporunity to see the film. Ong Bak was a lot of fun (check for my review tomorrow) and served as an amazing display for Tony’s huge array of skills, which I had earlier seen first hand.

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I Blame It All On Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis in 'Die Hard'
Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’

The date had been embedded in my mind for months: July 4, 1990. On a Wednesday in the middle of an unusually hot summer, Die Hard 2: Die Harder would be released to the public. The first film, Die Hard, had quickly become a family favorite amongst me and my two brothers. We had seen the film countless times, reciting racy lines of dialogue and reenacting brutal violence at an age when we should have been playing baseball, not terrorist and hero cop. When the release date of the film was set, our house went into a collective frenzy. There was no doubt in our minds what we were going to do the night of July 4th. Forget barbecues or baseball games, if it did not entail Bruce Willis fighting terrorists, we were not interested.

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‘October Sky – Special Edition’ is a surprisingly good movie thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper

[rating=3]Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, Laura Dern
Director(s): Joe Johnston
Writer(s): Screenplay by Lewis Colick; Based upon the book, “Rocket Boys”, by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

'October Sky'
‘October Sky’

I remember when this film first came out back in 1998, I had little interest in seeing it. Couldn’t exactly tell you why, but I remember that the trailer really didn’t grab me. When I was offered the opportunity to review the film’s new “Special Edition” DVD released at the end of January, my wife urged me to agree to a review.

And after watching October Sky, I’m glad she did.

Read more‘October Sky – Special Edition’ is a surprisingly good movie thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper

Ranting at the Oscars

Before I get into Morgan Spurlock’s doc Super Size Me, I feel I should backtrack a moment to my last review. If you’re following this, I’d previously mentioned a series of reviews focusing on films the Academy was likely to nominate for this year’s Oscar-fest. I’d gone out to the multi-plex to check out The Aviator and Ray. I’d just bought Collateral on DVD. I finally caught Million-Dollar Baby. I knew intrinsically that the old Academy voters would likely overlook the best film of the year, I just wasn’t sure how grossly. The distain I harbor for those myopic voters is palpable. I mean when the best film of the year gets LESS Academy recognition than the schlock that was The Phantom of the Opera and A Series of Unfortunate Events, what does that say for our society as a whole?

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‘City of God’ reveals the dark, gritty reality of living in the ghetto in Rio de Janeiro

[rating=3]Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge
Director(s): Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Writer(s): Paulo Lins, Bráulio Mantovani

Alexandre Rodrigues in 'City of God'
Alexandre Rodrigues in ‘City of God’

City of God is a well constructed, sometimes difficult to watch portrayal of reason and rationale in urban life, showing the progressive degradation of situations and lives in a ghetto. The particular ghetto portrayed in the film is a small, overpopulated area outside Rio de Janeiro, nicknamed “City of God” by its inhabitants because of their hope for a new paradise which was being built as they arrived.

However, virtually every positive action in this film or any attempt to overcome the slums is engulfed by the destruction caused by this paradise lost. The film’s narrative follows the lives of two main and several minor characters through two decades of their lives in the ghetto and shows how one man’s life can have an impact on another.

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