FILM OF THE MONTH  Eyes Without A Face ☆☆☆☆
A Better Tomorrow ☆☆☆☆
Armour of God ☆☆☆☆
Monty Python and the Holy Grail ☆☆☆☆
Monty Python's Life of Brian ☆☆☆☆
Odd Couple (1979) ☆☆☆☆
Return of the Jedi ☆☆☆☆
Ring ☆☆☆☆
Tetsuo ☆☆☆☆
The Empire Strikes Back ☆☆☆☆
Foxcatcher ☆☆☆☆
The Living Daylights ☆☆☆☆
The Young Master ☆☆☆☆

Weekend Retrospective - Brothers in Arms


'Do you believe in god?'
'Yes. I am God. God is human.'

Aka True Colours of a Hero. John Woo's breakout feature and his first foray into the 'heroic bloodshed' genre of action is a pretty low key affair in comparison to his later, more explosive films. In fact A Better Tomorrow 2 is a complete and utter monster next to the original, with a gigantic body count, explosions that set actors on fire, and a verbal tirade about a plate of rice. It's an overloaded action spectacle, a movie that is dripping with melodrama and contains several ridiculous plot twists. Which of course ... I do have time for.

But while his other films have been discussed here in the past, it's time to go right back the start. While it's not the first of it's kind, it's not hard to see the influences here just by looking at the career changes it would propel. Notable not only for it's mix of triad thriller elements and martial arts meets gunplay action that would define a genre, it created a new hero in the guise of Chow Yun-Fat, a television actor known for his work in romantic comedies. It's been said that the studio actually fought against his casting, which is kind of crazy what you look at what followed.

But there's a lot of great stuff here considering this was a first attempt, and it would ultimately pave the way for more classic crime and action movies. It actually appeared in an unpredictable explosion of new ideas, being released just months after both Police Story and Yes Madam hit screens at the end of 1985.

Review Roundup - Metal Fatigue


While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pressed onward to new heights with the last solo outing for Captain America and the wacky high-jinks of Starlord and friends, it's time to get back to what made this all so tantalising for many people in the first place, the big team up of Earth's mightiest heroes to round off the individual films. While the original Avengers had a clunky start and took time to find its feet, once the big showdown came along it was hard not to enjoy the mix of disaster spectacle, alien invaders and green giant versus puny god beat down. But here we are, back for round two. And while Thor 2 might have tripped over it's own cape and the Mandarin was a bit of a lost opportunity, things have picked up the pace in the time leading up to this second team adventure. With more characters, ever growing stakes and a world now changed following the antics of HYDRA being foiled, there are a lot of pieces to be balanced when the roster is still increasing. Now this is another entertaining feature with enough eye watering comic book action and fun dialogue for anyone, but the element of simplicity has been lost in a film that seems to be too long and at the same time in need of an extended cut.

Review Roundup - Tinker, Tailor


While the action espionage genre has stayed on the same course for years now after films like Casino Royale and The Bourne Identity, there have always been those who think this kind of story shouldn't be taken too seriously. So despite the popularity of those big franchise releases (even if some of their sequels vary in quality) it's not surprising that someone came along to do a different take on all of this and meet that demand, and since Matthew Vaughn is better known now for Kick-Ass than Layer Cake it's even less surprising this is another loose adaptation of a comic series. Dark and gritty this is certainly not, in fact at times is rather gaudy and ridiculous. But this is an action film with spies and plenty of death and destruction, so does this all fit together properly as a fun blockbuster ride?



Keeping this all on track in terms of a single theme earlier seemed straightforward enough, but things start to go off the rails as we reach the finale. This is where East meets West and the standard '80s sequels clash with the crazier ideas of Hong Kong cinema. Madness has truly taken hold when you have to sit and think 'so a giant Buddha shoots lighting out of its eyes and then transforms into a flying centipede' followed by 'oh yeah the vampire bowling scene'. But the cheap tricks remain as characters are left out and forgotten, plot lines are discarded or repeated, and new ingredients that don't quite fit are thrown into the soup just to keep it from being stale. Some of it works, while other elements are not fit for consumption.