Tag Archives: over-the-top

Keanu – Review

24 May

Back in 2012 when Key & Peele premiered, I didn’t think the show was going to go anywhere or last long because of Comedy Central’s track record at the time. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have cleverly weaved their way into a high status of pop culture thanks their subversive sketch comedy that is both funny and often smart. It was disappointing to see that their show was ending, but it seems that they have no intention of slowing down. Instead of a show, we now have a feature length comedy called Keanu. Much like their show, Keanu is a very subversive comedy that’s only made funnier by how over the top and silly it is willing to get.

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After his girlfriend abruptly dumps him, Rell (Jordan Peele) feels like his life is over. No longer does he have any drive or motivation to make something of himself, which worries his cousin/best friend, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key). Unlike Rell, Clarence is a well adjusted adult with a wife and kids, who finds it a little bit silly when Rell regains his livelihood when a kitten shows up at his door and is named Keanu. All seems right with the world until Keanu is taken from right under Rell’s nose. Rell and Clarence find out the the man who took Keanu is a notorious drug lord named Cheddar (Method Man), a man who loves violence just as much as he loves cute kittens. The only way Rell and Clarence can get their cat back is to go undercover and assume the identities of two mysterious hitmen, earn Cheddar’s trust, and save Keanu.

The plot of this movie is absolutely absurd and that’s where a lot of the joy came from. There’s so much off the walls things that happen in this movie that you really don’t know what kind of joke they’re going to throw at you next. To me, that’s real comedy. Movies that rely on just sex jokes and being loud just aren’t my kind of thing. Keanu has a lot of really ridiculous jokes and situations while also working to turn certain stereotypes on their heads. You also gotta love the slow motion scenes of the little kitten running through gun battles and dodging all sorts of things. What’s also great is that they don’t just rely on the kitten as a funny little distraction. Keanu isn’t really in it all that much, so when he is it’s great, but there’s plenty of original, non-kitten related humor as well.

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One of the main reasons to even see this movie is just to see Key and Peele play off each other so well. One of the reasons their show was so funny was because of the crazy natural chemistry that they have. They also are great at playing the goofy characters. Peele’s Rell is a slacker with a good heart who really just can’t seem to do anything right, and Key’s Clarence is the polar opposite of what a gangster should be, which makes his scenes trying to fit into the gang world all the more hilarious. The way Key and Peele interact and talk with each other feels so natural, and there were a lot of times where it felt like a lot of what they were saying was unscripted. You really can’t have comedy without good chemistry, and the chemistry between these two comedians is off the charts.

While this movie is a comedy, it has plenty of action in it to. The most similar example of a movie like Keanu would have to be Pineapple Express, because of all the comedy mixed with the very well shot and choreographed action. Surprisingly, the action in Keanu is pretty badass. The climactic shoot out at the end is intense but still hilarious. There’s a lot of use of slow motion, but the slow motion is very well shot and framed uniquely. The film’s director, Peter Atencio, who worked on the duo’s show quite a bit, obviously has a skilled eye, and I’d like to see more from him.

It takes a lot for comedies to impress me and Keanu is one that made me laugh to the point of tears…multiple times. I honestly can’t say I’m too surprised by that. I’ve been fan of their comedy for a while now, but seeing it in as grand a spectacle as this was right on the money. Their satire is razor sharp and their delivery is fast and furious, which I think makes them two of the funniest people working in the business. If you like to laugh even a little bit, you have to make Keanu required viewing.

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Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

13 Oct

… Hmm… How can I even start this review? I have just watched one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing. As you can probably guess by the title, it’s the Hong Kong martial arts cult classic Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Take the gore effects from exploitation horror films of the 1980s, combine that with martial arts action, and top it off with some wonderfully hilarious gallows humor and the end result is Riki-Oh. This will be an easy movie to talk about since it left me with such a strange reaction that made me both laugh and cringe, and while I personally thought this film was a riot, it really only is for a certain type of audience.

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In the early 200s, prisons have become a privatized business, which led to higher levels of corruption and violence in order to keep business booming. Ricky Ho (Fan Siu-wong) is the newest prisoner in one of the most violent prisons in the world. Upon his arrival, Ricky sees how corrupt the jail really is and how it’s actually run by a gang called the Gang of Four, who works in league with the sadistic Assistant Warden Den (Fan Mei-sheng) and the Warden (Ho Ka-kui). The gang and the wardens become determined to kill Ricky when he starts fighting their men and destroying their business, but what they fail to realize is that Ricky has the power of superhuman strength and is nearly invincible. Let the battle begin.

This may be a pretty short review because there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. It simply is what it is and you have to accept it as such. What’s actually surprising is how many really good reviews this movie has gotten. It looks like it’s filmed on the cheap, it’s loaded with over the top gore, and the English dubbing is so bad it’s hilarious. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky succeeds, however, because the movie knows what it is and takes great pleasure in being as over the top and stupid as it can possibly be. In some ways, that’s pretty respectable.

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Let’s get down to it though. What did I think of this movie? It’s not all too surprising that I think it’s a gem of a movie. It made me laugh the entire way through with both its intentional and unintentional humor. Let me just list a few of its most over the top moments. In one scene, Ricky punches the top half of a guy’s head clean off. He just punches it off. In another scene, an opponent of Ricky rips out his own stomach and tries to strangle Ricky with it. Who in the world can think of something like this? Someone with a twisted mind or a really strange sense of humor? Or both?

Everything else in the movie that has nothing to do with its violence or humor is pretty useless. There is almost literally no story, at least not one that I can see. Characters are introduced throughout the whole film but then die in the next scene, which means there isn’t any character development at all. That being said though, that’s not what the movie is about. This film is about showing off some pretty gross special effects and making people laugh. In that regard, it succeeds.

Since it’s release in 1991, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky has gained a fair amount of cult success. It makes sense that a movie like this doesn’t appeal to a wide audience. It’s schlocky, violent, and gory but it’s also a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait to show this movie to more people just to see how they are going to react to something like this. To me, this movie succeeds at what it sets out to do and I had more fun than I probably should have watching it.

A Good Day to Die Hard – Review

20 Feb

Since 1988, John McClane has saved what must be hundreds of thousands of lives. He stopped Hans Gruber at Nakatomi Plaza, saved the lives of Col. Stuart’s airborne hostages, hunted Simon all over New York, and successfully put a stop to Thomas Gabriel’s fire sale. All four of these movies have excellent qualities, yet of course not all of them are perfect. Now we have A Good Day to Die Hard, a film that brings the series back into the R-rating. Where do I begin?

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After hearing that his son is in some sort of trouble in Russia, John McClane (Bruce Willis) takes to the skies for yet another adventure, this time in Moscow. It doesn’t take long to find his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), who is an agent for the CIA working with a government whistleblower, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), to find a file that would incriminate high ranking Russian officials. Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), an official who risks exposure, hires Alik (Radivoje Bukvić) and his team of mercenaries, to find and kill Jack and Yuri. They didn’t count on John, however, who turns Moscow into a war zone and will do anything and kill anyone to protect his son.

This is most certainly one of the weakest entries in the Die Hard franchise. There are so many weaknesses that jump off the screen and do their best to make the viewer disappointed. A Good Day to Die Hard has been receiving terrible reviews from both critics and audiences alike. Me? I didn’t hate the movie, in fact, I was entertained for most of it. Is it an action classic? Does it make the character of John McClane even more of a hero than he already is? Not particularly. But, it still does feel like a Die Hard film, despite all of its glaring weaknesses.

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Let’s start with what bothered me. First of all, the plot was pretty hard to follow, and not because it was a complicated web of intrigue. It was hard to follow because it was so muddled with the need for action that it just seemed out of place. A plot that has to do with exposing foreign government secrets that have to do with major historical events is great for a political thriller, not for something where John McClane has to run around killing bad guys. Along with the plot, there are characters. The characters are so uninteresting, save for John. Jack is stoic and boring and the villains are the worst that this series has to offer. Remember Hans Gruber? He was awesome, if not, the best villain ever. These guys are just boring. There’s also a weird revelation towards the end that has to do with the bad guys that threw me off and made me with they were more characterized.

Second of all, the dialogue at times made me cringe. If I had to hear one more snarky remark from Jack about how much John sucked as a father, I was going to somehow transport myself into the movie and shoot him myself. Having the theme of family issues is fine, especially when the idea of law enforcement and service is thrown in, but it got way too overbearing. We get it, Jack. Thanks.

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But come on. There has to have some good stuff. Of course there was! The action in this movie is awesome. Cars go flying, buildings are torn to shreds, helicopters explode, guns, fists, knives, the works. This is where I felt best. It had the same over the top insanity that Live Free or Die Hard had. The sky’s the limit with this movie. I already talked about the bad dialogue, but there was also some really good dialogue in that cheesy, sarcastic Die Hard way. In fact, there’s one scene involving a particular hand gesture that I consider to be one of the funniest moments of the whole series. I feel like John McClane is back and better than ever, character wise. The last film made him seem like a fish out of water and nothing else. In A Good Day to Die Hard, he’s back in his element.

So yeah, A Good Day to Die Hard is definitely one of the weakest entries in the series, but I don’t consider it the weakest. That award goes to Die Hard 2: Die Harder. I’m sure there are many, many people who would disagree, and they can if they want to. I was a little disappointed with this movie, but not enough to make me hate it altogether. Don’t go into this expecting a fantastic entry into the series. Instead, just be happy to be part of another one of John McClane’s adventures.

Helldriver – Review

20 Dec

Never has a movie made me so mentally exhausted. Helldriver is an overload of insanity that invades all of your senses and doesn’t let up for two hours. This is both good and bad. For awhile, the insanity is enjoyable and a laugh riot, but after a while it made me tired and I really just needed a break between scenes just to comprehend what I just saw. I knew going into this movie that it would be nuts, but I got way more than I bargained for.

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After a cosmic cloud of ash blankets half of Japan, multiple reports of zombie hordes take the media by storm until it becomes too much to really control. The infected half of Japan is blocked by a huge wall, and the Prime Minister is fighting to allow zombies basic human rights. Amongst all of the insanity, a small group of “criminals”, led by Kika (Yumiko Hara) and her chainsaw sword, enter into the other side of the wall to find and kill the zombie queen (Eihi Shiina), who just so happens to be Kika’s sadistic mother.

This is a zombie movie unlike any I’ve seen before. These aren’t your typical zombies who just lumber (or run, in some cases) down the road without a clue as to what’s going on. These zombies are pretty intelligent and are killed when the tumor stemming from their heads are destroyed. Oh, and not only that, but people use these tumors as illicit drugs and they also are very flammable. I dare you to name another movie that has anything like that! I’m sure one might exist, but certainly not to my knowledge.

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This film is directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura, whose other films include the wonderful Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl, a review for another day. These movies are crazy, over the top splatter films that enjoy how ridiculous they are and bask in their own insane glory. I respect that. Watching how crazy these movies get is so much fun. This one… this one takes the cake. It’s a two hour barrage of crazy editing, out of this world and long action sequences sprayed with gallons and gallons and gallons of blood in every frame. I loved the scenes of dialogue, not because they were very good or interesting, but because I needed a break. My mind could not compute everything that was happening.

This sort of spoils the movie in a way. Every movie, no matter how crazy, needs to have some down time.  Even though I was tired after watching this movie, I need to be able to appreciate some of the things that I saw. Every Nishimura has something you never thought you would ever see, kind of like a car made out of pieces of zombies that is used in a prolonged chase scene featuring some of the most laughable CGI I’ve ever seen. This scene in particular wore me out and hurt my eyes.

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I was completely shocked by the audacity of Helldriver. Japanese splatter movies are a guilty pleasure of mine, and this one is certainly no exception. Is this as good as Tokyo Gore Police? No way. That one reigns supreme, but this Helldriver pushed this genre farther than I have seen yet, and for that I enjoyed it. Just be prepared to feel exhausted from the relentless violence, blood, and ridiculousness. I can’t say that you should definitely check this one out, but if  you’re at all interested in the genre than this is an insane trip.

Drive Angry – Review

21 May

Guns, sex, explosions, violence, gore, and loads of dirty language. Sounds like your typical 1970s grind house flick to me. But here we are in the second decade of the new millennium, but Drive Angry certainly is grind house. No one wanted to see this in the theaters with me, so I had to wait until now to see it, and to be honest, I was not at all disappointed.

Milton (Nicolas Cage) is angry. Milton is dead. Milton has also escaped from hell and is looking for blood, and lots of it. With the help of  Piper (Amber Heard), and out of work and angry waitress, they must track down and kill Jonah King (Billy Burke), and insane cult leader who killed Milton’s daughter and kidnapped his infant grand daughter to use as a human sacrifice. While all of this is happening, Satan’s right hand man, The Accountant (William Fichtner), is hot on Milton’s trail with a mission to bring him back to hell.

Does the plot of this sound absolutely ridiculous? Well it is, and so is the movie. From the opening scene, Drive Angry is a non stop roller coaster that makes you feel like your riding the bullet that is shot out of hell’s most sacred weapon, the Godkiller. I’m sure that some of the people reading this review will think I’m full of shit, but I really did enjoy this movie. It has a perfect blend of grind house style action and comedy.

Drive Angry is certainly not a showcase of acting talent. Nicolas Cage is ok, but can cross the line and deliver some really cheesy dialogue that wasn’t natural in the least. Amber Heard looks nice and does a pretty good job. Billy Burke brings a lot of character to Jonah King and would have been the best character in the movie, if not for William Fichtner. Fichter’s Accountant is hysterical, menacing, and hands down my favorite character of the movie. Every time he came on screen, I knew I was in for a treat.

The story was full of imagination that I really appreciate. While this may not be the most original movie in the world, it definitely has more creative talent than a lot of Hollywood films being cranked out solely for money. That was part of the joy of watching Drive Angry. I felt like the film makers were in control and were doing whatever they had to do to make the movie exactly what they wanted it to be. It’s refreshing to see something that was made out of creativity and love of the genre, rather than a stereotypical action flick that follows a certain set of guidelines.

It’s important to be in the right mind set before watching this film. This isn’t a big budget Transformers – like blockbuster. The special effects aren’t always great, but they joy comes from the absurdity of the action. There are so many times when I was laughing at what I was seeing or shaking my head in pure disbelief. Being too critical of this movie would be missing the point. This isn’t so much a movie to dissect, than to just turn your brain off and have fun for 2 hours.

I understand that a lot of people are going to pick Drive Angry apart. I’m content with saying it’s one hell of a fun ride. It’s not the most intense or ridiculous over-the-top action film I’ve ever seen, but it is a really good time. If you want to watch a movie with interesting character development that explores deep themes, then watch something else. If you want to have fun with a movie that knows it’s crazy and doesn’t care, than Drive Angry should definitely be an option.