Category Archives: Action

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Crime-Thriller-Action)

Dame“A crisp storyboard aesthetic with a dull and nonchalant ignoramus calling the shots”

Three separate tales all set in the same vicinity; which is that of Sin City. An urban cesspool of degenerates, crooked politicians, and those seeking justice from their those who wronged them fill up this dark place. Meet a gambler who has lady luck on his side until he gets a bit cocky and out plays the corrupt senator with the law in his pocket. Encounter a hired blackmailer and the battle against his kryptonite, which is in the form of a conniving seductress coaxing every man she meets. Last but not least a new chapter is opened in Nancy’s story, a dancer whose savior was killed and now she is seeking revenge on the most powerful man in the city.

Though on paper these stories look as absorbing as the first, this sequels fresh concept was diluted over the decade of its absence. The drawback lies mainly within the stock dialogue and overemphasized character arcs, making the whole experience seem adolescent. When a viewer is captivated with the cameos more than the featured cast, poor writing is usually to blame. This consequently disconnects the audience from the plot points altogether, but on the contrary left due attention to the visually enticing collage of violence and erotic prowess.

The graphical nature and overall ambiance of the film gave an idea where the budget dollars were spent. As anticipated for a graphic novel film, static set design along with lighting and deep contrasts fashioned a sharp pane-like exhibit which back-dropped the mood of every scene.  If the viewer is able to look past the obvious faults and be hypnotized by the plethora of artistically intoxicating effects and hidden ques, they won’t finish the film looking for a dame to kill.

Snowpiercer (Sci-Fi-Action-Thriller)

Snowpier“Social status has a predetermined position and must not be disturbed”

A gifted man by the name of Wilford built a train that travels around the world in 365 days, coincidentally completed during a time of great environmental change. Once an ice age eventually freezes the world over and everyone on the planet is destined to become popsicles, 1,000 lucky survivors were given the opportunity to become the only living civilization left on earth by boarding this locomotive. Having the train cars split into societal classes, a hard 17 years of predestined ranks in the rear brought forth a revolution to disrupt the social order.

Aside from the premise of the actual rebellion and bloodshed, there are also back-stories explained and other mysteries unraveled at every steel-encased venue.  Accompanying the development of the story with every open door, the overall tone became more vibrant and elegant entering each upgraded compartment. This framework took a very unconventional and enlightening turn when they reached the front, obscuring the lines distinguishing the rich and poor.

Taking this very centralized idea revolving around the caste system, a stage was set to proclaim that even after the gift of life a certain level of decency is merited. Over the span of human existence, uprising have taken place revolving around this same situation and many can sympathize and admire this spirited underdog story. Unfortunately, this awareness of discrimination became a bit too overindulged and preachy to the point of ignorance. The main character began to become so consumed with the hatred that good judgment, a clear vision, and common courtesy left him all together. Most audiences will begin to understand the reason the adults don’t invite the children to the grownup table, and in hindsight this revelation made a slight mockery of the entire revolts backbone.

Sabotage (Crime-Drama-Action)

sab“An action film confusingly and abruptly turned crime melodrama”

The action begins with a DEA legend (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leading his team through a raid with the intentions to skim a bit off the top, hide the cash in the sewers, and burn the rest. Tragically when they go to retrieve their informal hazard pay, they notice that someone has taken it. If matters couldn’t get worse in the coming days the FBI somehow manages to count the cash that was blown to bits and notice that some of it is missing, which bring forth an investigation. After being acquitted six months later for lack of evidence, the team is brought back together. After reuniting and shaking out the cobwebs through some weapons training, the members start getting picked off one by one in the night. Could it be the angry cartels, the sour FBI, or someone with a grudge on the inside?

The pace of the film starts off with high intensity action, humorously close camaraderie, and tough bottom of the barrel special ops team. Unfortunately after the first act the action became limited and tediously overindulged layers of delinquency went full force, creating multiple subplots to the point of bewilderment. Within this genre the masses aren’t expecting a best screenplay nomination, but at minimum a plot that is competent, consistent, or at least dangerously explosive to the point of shell shock.

Audiences also aren’t lining up to see a film with a depressed Arnold Schwarzenegger mope around and attempt to flex his saggy acting muscles for a full-length film. Not to mention, the one-dimensional co-stars that made it seem as though they weren’t given a script and asked to just adlib with expletives. Take away the special operations equipment, a couple gunfights, and hard bodies and you are left with first year ROTC cadets synching on each others menstrual cycle, and no one wants to be around for that.

 

 

The Raid 2 (Foreign-Action-Crime)

index“Battles are won by conquering a single stronghold, but destroying an enemy may take diluting the integrity of the prince”

After being the sole survivor of a raid on one of the key drug-lords, Rama is approached by a high-ranking officer in an underground task force. He is asked to go undercover in prison and befriend Uco, the son of the Bangun who is the leader of the most powerful gang in the region. Once he has served his jail-time, Rama will become a debt collector for the gang as well as provide much needed intel to bring down the corruption that is polluting the streets and police force.

With an adrenaline boost from its predecessor, this sequel earned a higher budget providing the film with smoother edges to a very dark and rigid environment. The camera work never failed to impress during the fight sequences, but also became surprisingly creative in capturing the ambiance of the world through vibrant colors and mystique. Every suspenseful moment was uniquely defined using clever techniques such as introspective angles, unexpected dialogue, and an abundance of temperamental characters.

One obvious critique would be the much more involved story in essence limited the action sequences, but in no way was the storyline out of its borders or reaching for something it was not.  The plot progressed as fluid as the action that was layered between, and at no point will the audience be lead to a place without intention.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Action-Sci-Fi)

fire“The elite shall bring the game to another level, as well as a hidden agenda that could bring a new rebellion”

After Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are the first “Couple” to win the hunger games, they take a tour to speak to all the districts. In turn, small uprising are making their way to select districts and the president is nervous of another rebellion. With Katniss being the centerpiece of hope for the people, what better way to diminish her than to put her into another hunger game for the 75th anniversary with all the previous winners. Just before the games begin, the odds seem to not be in her favor, but interestingly enough alliances fall into place were they are least expected.

Coming off of a very successful initial film by both critics and audiences alike, the series is on the path to become a fruitful franchise.  In a matter of speaking the same elements are used, the flashy parties, holograms, futuristic technologies, and social class systems holding animosity for one another.  A few things didn’t work as well with the sequel and most noticeably the pacing, which is attributed to the first half of the film with little to no action. This was no surprise, since the backstory was essential especially as this film is not the last of the series.

The problem wasn’t so much of the plot itself, but more that the over dramatization was being used in place of any substance.  Once realized this came off as a bit of a cheap way to rushed the meaningful development of the tale all together. There was also quite a bit of crying, mostly from Katniss, leaving the viewers ready for combat uninterested in the melodrama and emotional love triangle.

Once the games did begin, a few new obstacles were introduced and creative plays to the game, which had you on your toes through the remainder. This all led up to a brilliant cliffhanger that brought viewers into an amnesia to the slow start and created anticipation for the third installment.

The Raid: Redemption (Foriegn-Action-Crime)

raid“There are countless stairs to climb, but even more enemies to conquer”

Rama is a family man as well as an honest and disciplined S.W.A.T team member.  When his team is commissioned to bring down a drug-lord by the name of Jakarta hidden within his cement fortress, the force is skeptical on their odds of survival.  When they begin clearing each floor with ease their morale begins to improve, until an alarm is triggered and all the ruthless gangster are awakened.

With some of the most inventive and fluid fight choreography seen in decades, this Philippines action flick will be talked about within the fight circles of the genre for ages.  The violence was very graphic in nature, but in a way necessary to compliment the realism.  If an enemy hasn’t been determined a non-threat (terminated indefinitely) then he can still harm you, so nothing was left to chance.  These shots of brutality were gruesome and many will turn away, but all will certainly appreciate the thought put into every detail.

The plot of this film was simple yet effect for what it was set out to accomplish, while also keeping a consistent level of suspense.  With any inconsistencies you may begin to ponder, you are immediately thrown into another fight sequence, giving you no time to evaluate the situation.

This film is a brilliant example of how action films should be with 90% adrenaline 10% substance.  By the end of the film you will be too tired to stand, and even though the third act wasn’t wrapped up with a pretty bow, this obviously left room for a much anticipated sequel.

Big Trouble in Little China (B-Movie-Fantasy-Action)

cina“They stole my truck and my friends girl, and I’ll go through all the Chinese hells to find them!”

A hard-ass truck driver by the name of Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), is passing through Chinatown and visits his local “buddies” to play a few games of cards.  When he cleans out his friend Wang Chi for all his cash, he agrees to give Wang a lift to pick up his fiancee at the airport.  Once Wangs fiancee arrives she is kidnapped by knife wielding men.  After finding her location, Jack and Wang try to rescue her when a turf war begins accompanied by the awakening of supernatural forces, forcing them to flee and leave Jack’s truck behind.  With word of Jack’s truck and Wangs fiancee being held captive by a dark mystical Chinese sorcerer and his minions, they begin a dangerous quest to recover them.

Just leave your brain at the door and prepare yourself for a dark magic film with non-stop PG-13 dumb action.  If you are unable to look past a script so bad that the characters actually have to narrate you through the ludicrous plot-points, then don’t even bother.  Please keep in mind that this film was made for teenagers, which is apparent throughout.  From the decision making, immature relationship mindset, and contrived Chinese myths that you never learned in history class you can clearly see the target audience.

Nevertheless this film had so many surprises it was hard not to get sucked into the adventure.  If you’re into oriental stereotyping, Kurt Russell playing himself, a two-millennium old decrepit man, random mythical beasts pop outs, unexplained sorcery, exploding heads, or constant Kung-fu that defies the laws of physics this is the film for you.