The Shadow Whip

There’s a scene where the heroine Yun enters a tavern and all the patrons look up from their tea and wine and my heart sank a little. What are they seeing? What are they thinking? There’s no spark, no grin threatening on Yun’s face at the realization she’s the baddest guy in the room. The problem is that Yun is played by Cheng Pei-pei, and this is a woman who doesn’t just walk into a tavern. Her debut character, Golden Swallow in Come Drink with Me, exuded such an aura of mystique, a gravity I’m missing in The Shadow Whip. What we have, then, is a study in functional direction, and how imprecision can be ruinous. … More The Shadow Whip

Great Fight Scenes | Throne Room, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This sequence begins with the dialogue preceding the action. Supreme Leader Snoke has our heroine Rey in hand, and he’s confident that padawan Kylo Ren will strike her down (which doesn’t usually have consequences, as I understand it). The villain chatters on about destiny while Kylo surreptitiously turns the lightsaber toward him, a tense scene culminating in the shock of Snoke’s assassination. Rey and Kylo barely have time to make eyes because now the Praetorian Guard have been activated. … More Great Fight Scenes | Throne Room, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Rewaking into Dream: The Matrix Resurrections

After a second viewing of The Matrix Resurrections, special guest host Stella and I attempt to piece our feelings together. It’s a complicated story, isn’t it? A movie that shouldn’t exist but is entertaining. A good movie but maybe a bad sequel. An action movie with questionable action scenes? And this is assuming we understood it at all, which is very much up to debate. … More Rewaking into Dream: The Matrix Resurrections

Top 10 Action Movies of the 2000s – Follow-Up

If I get my stuff together and turn this into a feature, I’ll properly revisit this list when I do the 2010s, but in the meantime, I cannot believe I forgot about a number of even personal favorites from the first attempt, including two critical omissions. So this is what the revised list will look like, as of now, forehead sweaty. … More Top 10 Action Movies of the 2000s – Follow-Up

Top 10 Action Movies of the 2000s

Writing that review for Unleashed, this question really stuck in my head: what were the action movies of the 2000s? It really was a rancorous time, despite being a very solid decade for movies overall. It saw Spirited Away, Children of Men, Lady Vengeance, City of God, No Country for Old Men, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Korean New Wave came into its own, David Cronenberg reinvented himself, but action and horror were a way’s off from their own resurgences. We were mired in their episodes of blockbusters and remakes respectively, reinforcing the creative depletion surely at the heart of either. I can’t say there was a truly great “pure” action movie made in the span of 2000 to 2009, between the highs of Hard Boiled, The Matrix, and T2 on one side and The Raid, John Wick, and Inception on the other. … More Top 10 Action Movies of the 2000s

Unleashed

Everything about this movie is profoundly strange. Kerry Condon is the too-young love interest, Morgan Freeman is the Magical Negro, the most prominent motif is Bob Hoskins getting injured in cars. Beneath the streets of Glasgow, rich businessmen bet on gladiator combat fought by emotionally-damaged S&M goths. Then there’s the story itself, where Jet Li plays Danny, a seemingly mute enforcer for a loan shark, only unleashed from a literal collar to apply whirling kung fu on unsuspecting thugs. After he’s taken in by a blind piano tuner and his white teenage step-daughter, Danny will surely regain his stolen humanity. What that means is we’re gonna see Jet Li observing the world and piecing things together like a cute Pixar robot, wearing pajamas and hiding under the bed, not to mention bursting into scenes with awkward lines like “My mother, she was a whore” instead of “Hello.” … More Unleashed

The Princess Mononoke and I

What’s the best Hayao Miyazaki movie? You don’t know how much it drives me crazy that my answer is Spirited Away and not Princess Mononoke. Yes, the one about the little girl who gets a job at the spa, while the fantasy epic about war and gods doesn’t crack my Ghibli top five. How I wish it did! It’s the kind of movie I hope they make every time, but each successive adventure seems to shrink in scale, down to bean level. I’ve seen Princess Mononoke three times now, at different times in my life, and I’ve sat with the same conclusion each time: I just don’t like it that much. Very, very crazy. … More The Princess Mononoke and I

Those American Godzilla Movies Strike Again

Who would’ve thought we’d make it to the year 2021? More that such a number could ever be real than those of us who’ve survived ought to ask this question. Because aside from the considerable turmoil of history in a perpetual state of climax, that number alone is the stuff of science-fiction. Blade Runner took place two years ago. Johnny Mnemonic takes place this year. I know that millions of Americans quit their jobs over the summer, including myself. I returned home to New England after six years in Los Angeles. A natural arc, we might say, but to me, 2021 is an afterlife. It’s too many years after the logical terminating point. We stopped seeing each other, stopped making physical contact; we have to process the world through literal filtration. It’s a world of screens and constant mediation. Even the movies don’t feel real. … More Those American Godzilla Movies Strike Again

10/23/2021 – The Fall of Reach is a Good Story Never Meant to Be Told

You might find YouTube video of “Halo 3 funny Elite dialogue,” including winners like, “One of us must die!” or “If you gaze at me much longer, we may as well exchange fluids,” and my favorite, the exasperated “We have few enough warriors as it is!” if you shoot an ally to death. If you haven’t played Halo, these lines are being growled by gravelly-voiced aliens, the “Elites.” One of the lines triggers when you, the protagonist Master Chief, melee an Elite ally. He replies, “Is this because of Reach?” The result of a special mode, this is not really “canonical” dialogue, though it’s impressive that even incidental writing was better than the real stuff in later sequels. … More 10/23/2021 – The Fall of Reach is a Good Story Never Meant to Be Told