Archive for the K Category

Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughn) 2010

Posted in K on September 28, 2010 by moviemoses

Time for me to be the contrarian! Hooray!  Everyone seems to lining up to love this movie: CHUD rates it a 10 out of 10 (yeah CHUD overreacting?  Who would have guessed?), Spill thought it was better than sex, and I’ve seen more people use the lame joke that “Kick Ass does indeed…kick ass!” my head is red from facepalming so much.  I suppose it was time.  Most people accuse me of being generous to movies I guess I was due to be the buzz kill for a movie.  Simply put, Kick Ass was a let down.

Now I’m not going in for this lame controversy that has sprung up about Hit Girl and some perceived exploitation or whatever.  Ebert also gave a one star review about the movie having no morality.  Again, I don’t give a shit.  As long as the movie is funny, I don’t care.  But that’s the problem; the movie isn’t funny.

Funny is being very subjective and when it comes to comedy it is doubly so.  People love Carlos Mencia for gods sake.  And no, I am not comparing people who love this movie to Carlos Mencia fans.  I am just saying everyone has their own tastes and trying to tell someone what funny is is about as easy as explaining the rules to baseball.  It is not as easy as it seems.  But for people about to claim I’m being unfair or that I came in with a bad attitude I’m going to try to explain the best I can as to why this didn’t work for me.

To boil it down in simplest terms; this movie needed to be just about Hit Girl.  No, I don’t feel her presence is a problem in fact quite the opposite.  The movie is about 75% about Kick Ass and 25% about Hit Girl and it needs to be at least the other way around.  I would frankly be happy with cutting all the footage with Kick Ass, burning it, and burying the ashes.

Kick Ass is a completely useless character.  And before anyone jumps on me I will say I get it.  I really do get it.  The whole point is that Kick Ass is a completely useless superhero.  He gets caught up in something way beyond his abilities.  While he may set all the actions of the story in motion, he is a complete non-factor in anything after that point.  And that is the problem.  I don’t mind the writers making a statement about this character and superheroes in general, but they made the movie a dull mess by following him around for the majority of the movie.  It is like if Desperado were told from Steve Buscemi’s point of view with El Mariachi in about 20 minutes of screen time to do the cool gun fights.  The gun fight scenes would be cool yes, but I would be wondering why we were spending so much goddamn time on an irrelevant character.

The plot line with Kick Ass’s character tries to be to superheroes what Zombieland was to the zombie movie.  It tries hard to be this hipster referential parody of comic books.  While it does have some funny jokes like Kick Ass competing for friends on MySpace, the rest of the humor is remarkably lazy.  We spend about as much time with Hit Girl as we do with Kick Ass’s romance with a girl at school.  The running joke is that she thinks KA’s alter ego is gay.  I was terribly disappointed by a movie that tries to be referential and mocking of the genre would pull out lowest common denominator humor.  Look, gay people are funny *sarcastic laugh*.  Get it?  No?  Yeah, I don’t either.  I’m frankly surprised they didn’t go for toilet humor either.

Kick Ass is played by an actor who is seemingly a cross between Jesse Eisenberg and Screech from Saved By the Bell.  He squeaks out a bland voice over about how he is not loved by anyone and all he wants is to be a superhero and this is too much for him and blah blah blah blah blah.  This ultimate nerd gets unobtainable hot woman angle has been done so many times I was banging my head against the seat in front of me in sheer boredom.  Even though I say KA is in over his head, it would be more dramatically relevant if he rose to meet the occasion.  That would be…heroic.  And while he gets a little nod his way, he is still frankly a p*ssy.

What everyone is going to be talking about and what this movie should have been all about is Hit Girl.  You could have made an entire movie which is a revenge action movie with her in it.  I almost consider it the comic book version of some juiced up remake of Leon: The Professional.  Chloe Moretz was great as Hit Girl and Nic Cage was entertaining channeling some bizarre Adam West/Punisher superhero.  Every one of her scenes were fun, action packed, and entertaining.  Most of the clever bits of writing were in those scenes.  Most of the really gripping and dramatically shocking moments were in her storyline.  You cannot say the same thing for Kick Ass.

So I don’t want to give the impression I loathe this movie and damn all of you for loving it.  There were times that I was really into this movie and enjoying myself.  But then I had to trudge through the hour and a half snoozefest which was the main plot of the movie.  I’m sure I can write a ton more but I just wanted to get my initial reactions down.  This was a movie with a ton of potential but overall failed in execution.

Kill Zone (Wilson Yip) 2005

Posted in K on August 24, 2010 by moviemoses

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong action star I haven’t really seen much of (other than say, Iron Monkey) and I had this one recommended to me. This movie is about a Det. Chan who is trying to take down one of the most ruthless crime lords ever in Wong Po (Sammo Hung). Chan is near retirement because of a tumor in his brain that will eventually kill him. His replacement who is taking over the team is Ma Kwun (Donnie Yen). The team tries to pin a murder on Chan using planted evidence and problems arise as a result.

I hate to launch right in on something that really bugged me but what the hell. Something I couldn’t quite get over is the bipolar tone of the movie. On the one hand it wants to be this almost Shakespearean tragedy as done through the lens of a gritty crime movie. On the other hand it wants to be a badass martial arts flick. Part of this is due to the fact there wasn’t supposed to be any martial arts fight scenes in it until Donnie Yen signed on to do the pic. Why is this odd? Well it would kind of be like having DiCaprio do some kung fu occasionally in The Departed. Oh don’t get me wrong, the alley fight and the final fight with Sammo Hung are freaking awesome but it is downright ludicrous when compared to the rest of the movie. It completely takes me out of the movie when you are being serious serious serious, and then you are having Sammo flip around with Yen in a giant wrestling stage.

I don’t want to get your hopes up either when I used Departed as a point of comparison. The story is alright, but it’s nothing to write home about. I don’t know if this is a plot hole, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this problem with the story. If these cops are going to go to the trouble of killing people, destroying evidence, planting evidence, intimidating witnesses, and basically doing everything in the “Vic Mackey Book of Corrupt Police Work”, then why don’t they just kill Wong Po? Seriously people. Work smarter, not harder. And I can’t really list this is as some objective flaw, but this movie is f*cking depressing. Holy hell, I feel like I need to be prescribed anti-depressants after seeing this movie.

I do like Donnie Yen. The guy has this intense look which is cool and is able to do many different martial arts styles. I love the fact he does MMA grappling mixed in with some of the flashier moves he does. Sammo Hung is also very compelling in this try at a heel turn. He is very menacing and can still move at his age. Once again I have to say the fight scenes are great and the alley fight is wonderful.

Kill Zone is kind of a mixed bag for me. I think if they really stuck with one genre they could have had either a very good cop movie/tragedy or a really good martial arts movie. But when they tried for both they ended up dragging the overall quality down. This was a good movie, but not something I would rush to see again.

The Karate Kid (Harald Zwart) 2010

Posted in K on June 15, 2010 by moviemoses

Yeah yeah, I already know everyone’s first bitch is that this movie is actually the Kung Fu Kid and not the Karate Kid. This kind of reminds me when Herzog pitched the idea for his latest movie. I’m sure the exchange with the execs went something like this:

Execs: Oh, Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: Excuse me?

Execs: You described Bad Lieutenant. You wanna remake it?

Herzog: Well, I’ve never seen it.

Execs: But you just described it…

Herzog: Well I suppose it is a common theme, I just thought it would be interesting to do a story like that.

Execs: Perfect, let’s call it Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: But I’m not remaking it.

Execs: Yeeeees I know. But everyone will already associate it with the original so we might as well head it off at the pass and just call it Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: I don’t know…

Execs: Too bad we already made the posters.

End scene.

Point is I think people realized there was no Karate in this movie but they figured its a remake of the basic plot so just call it Karate Kid for the association. The problem is there is no karate in this movie! That is like calling West Side Story “Romeo and Juliet: Port of Call New York City”.

Enough of that little tangent. The plot of this movie is almost identical to the original: Dre and his mother have moved to China for a job opportunity. Bullies are picking on Dre who are students of a local kung fu school. The handy man for the apartments Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) decides to teach Dre kung fu for a tournament that is coming up. The writers here don’t take any risks or do anything radically different but there are some nagging problems I had with the movie.

This is actually brought up by Spill.com but I’ll be sure to give them credit before stealing it. The original movie was about some punk kids who were bullying Daniel with what lame karate they learn in a strip mall dojo. Time is short, but Miyagi is able to teach Daniel just enough to beat his competition. And the level of competition is that you would expect in a junior league karate tournament. There was a grounding in reality. But here they figure the original was not fast enough, bloody enough, or choreographed enough for modern audiences. It is unbelievable that Mr. Han can train Dre in a few months to be on the same level as kids who have been rigorously trained since their early childhood.

The fights have also been turned from realistic choreography to almost a live action anime. The kids are defying physics with wire fu. They are doing hurricanranas and pele kicks and moves rejected from Crouching Tiger cause they were considered too unbelievable. Cripes people! These are 12 year olds, they should not be mimicking the final fight between Neo and Agent Smith.

Another complaint of the original and now this movie is that it goes too long and I agree. In fact, because this plot is so familiar now, it should be shorter by the fact you can breeze through the backstory. It is not like we are adding much needed characterization. In fact, the bullies in this movie are even more outlandish. Before they were just bullies and now they want to outright murder Dre.

The acting is good overall. I love Jackie Chan and he has a fight scene that almost had me downright giddy. Jaden Smith does alright, although I find him to be a creepy Mini Me clone of his father Will Smith. Seriously, it is like Will cloned himself and brainwashed him as a boy to be a money making tool like his dad. Frankly I would like a kid with a personality of his own than someone doing an impression. Now that is just me so I won’t bash the movie for that.

Now the movie isn’t bad. Like I said the movie tries to faithful to the original and not do too much different. I can see kids and people unfamiliar with the series to watch it and enjoy it. But my problem is I am familiar with the original. They do nothing new or better than the original so for me the movie is unnecessary. And what they do try different (namely the fight scenes) are so silly it had me laughing hysterically. This was a decent time waster, but for me this doesn’t top the original or even the sequel.