The Tai Chi Master (1993, Directed by Yuen Woo-ping) Cantonese 6

Starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Chin Siu-ho, Fennie Yuen, Yuen Cheung-yan, Lau Shun, Yu Hai

Tai Chi Master 1993 – Enter the Dragon

(6-Good Film)

Action-packed. Uneven. Frenetic.

Junbao: The past is what makes up who we are. Don’t let it become your burden.

Junbao (Li) and Tienbo (Siu-ho) grow up together as brothers in a Shaolin Temple studying as monks in the ways of martial arts. After the generally misbehaving pair are expelled, they move out into the world and see first-hand their new town’s rampant corruption. Junbao joins a group of rebels in response, while Tienbo lusts for power and joins the soldiers. Shocked by Tienbo’s betrayal, Junbao loses his mind and it’s up to his new friends, Siu-lin (Yeoh), for one, to help him find himself in time to master Tai Chi and save the people. This is a fast, fun action flick with a heavy dose of legend and history mixed in. There’s always a bit of a bizarre acclimation process that goes on when I watch these Hong Kong action epics-the flying, the defying of physics, what-have-you. I know we, of course, have fantasy in western culture but I’m never quite prepared for it. I think maybe because films like this one look so grounded in history and reality. The action scenes are well-done, showing off the impossible speed of its performers, particularly its star Jet Li, naturally. The story, however, falls short of the epicness it strives for and underuses its supporting cast.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(945)

This Means War (2012, Directed by McG) English 5

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Chelsea Handler, Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, Abigail Spencer, Jenny Slate, Rosemary Harris

This Means War << Rotten Tomatoes – Movie and TV News

(5-Okay Film)

Ridiculous. Flat. Diverting.

Lauren: I’m going out. I’m dating. I’m having fun.

Two spies-best friends-happen upon the same woman. Tuck (Hardy) is a divorced father. Franklin (Pine) is a womanizer. When the two realize that they’re both chasing Lauren Scott (Witherspoon), a competition ensues. They’ll let her decide, but they don’t tell her that they know each other or tell her that they know about her seeing two men at the same time. As their feelings for her deepen, they resort to using their CIA tricks to get the upper hand. It’s a ridiculous premise not meant to be taken too seriously but with the proper execution, could have made an interesting throwback to the old screwball classics of the 1930s. The leads are certainly likable enough, but This Means War is not very funny which leaves it feeling like chaotic nonsense.  Chelsea Handler as Witherspoon’s friend is given most of the comedic lines but delivers them monotonously, never appearing comfortable on screen. At no point did I mind watching this fast-moving dud, but there are thousands of better movies to watch in the world.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(944)

The Hustle (2019, Directed by Chris Addison) English 4

Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Dean Norris, Timothy Simons

Weekend Box Office: 'The Hustle' Opens With $13.5 Million As 'Poms ...

(4-Bad Film)

Inferior. Misguided. Painless.

Josephine Chesterfield: Why are women better suited to the con than men?

Are they? Who knows, but this film doesn’t do much for feminine pride. Anne Hathaway stars as Josephine Chesterfield, a glamorous con-artist working the French Riviera. Her business is threatened by a small-time crook, Penny (Wilson), who will likely scare off the big fish with her short cons. You’re probably aware that this is a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin. Some people know that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, itself, was a remake of Bedtime Story starring Marlon Brando and David Niven. For that reason, I don’t object to a remake, though Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of my favorite comedies. I object to the casting because it doesn’t work and I object to simply recycling all of the best jokes from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and making them less funny. Hathaway hasn’t proven yet that she can do comedy and Wilson has no one to work off of. As for the recycling of jokes, to me, it undermines much of the film’s focus on female empowerment. They’re just doing what men have already done. Why not do your own thing like the wonderful Bridesmaids? If you’re going to remake a movie, especially a comedy which relies on the element of surprise, you should work up some fresh material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(943)

D.O.A (1949, Directed by Rudolph Maté) English 7

Starring Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, William Ching, Laurette Luez, Neville Brand, Lynn Baggett

D.O.A. (1949) Full Length Movie on the MHM Podcast Network

(7-Very Good Film)

Intriguing. Convoluted. Melodramatic.

Homicide Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.

I’m glad to find, reading other reviews of noir classic D.O.A, that I’m not the only one that had a hard time following the plot. Several characters flow in and out, there are red herrings, and key players are mentioned but never seen. I couldn’t keep up, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. All you really need to know is that an average man, Frank Bigelow (O’Brien), goes on a business trip to San Francisco, spends the first night out on the town, wakes up the next morning feeling funny, and, upon visiting a doctor, is told that he’s been poisoned and has a couple days left to live. Film experts refer to these kinds of plot devices as ticking bombs. They give movies an important time element and are invaluable to good suspense. D.O.A has one of the best time bombs of any movie I’ve seen. Bigelow has to solve his own murder and get revenge before he keels over. You might think that too much of the dialogue is heavily melodramatic, but I like melodrama in noir. It serves as a nice counterbalance to the otherwise dark tales and this one follows through. No cop-out in the end.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(942)

Wait Until Dark (1967, Directed by Terence Young) English 6

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Richard Crenna, Alan Arkin, Jack Weston, Samantha Jones, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Wait Until Dark (1967) Movie Review - MovieBoozer

(6-Good Film)

Convoluted. Suspenseful. Effective.

Roat: I cannot negotiate in an atmosphere of mistrust.

Three criminals- Roat (Arkin), Mike (Crenna), and Sam (Zimbalist Jr.)- of varying morality trick and torment a newly blind woman, Suzy (Hepburn), who may or may not be concealing a small fortune in the form of a heroin filled doll. A couple of truly terrific scenes to end the picture make up for a long setup that lags, a confusing narrative, and a conspicuous stagey feel that bothers most play adaptations. Hepburn goes a long way to make us care about Suzy and once the plot becomes clear, Wait Until Dark becomes a highly suspenseful thriller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(941)

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000, Directed by Aziz Mirza) Hindi 5

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Paresh Rawal, Johnny Lever, Atul Parchure, Sanjay Mishra, Sharat Saxena

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani' failure made me stronger: SRK | Catch ...

(5-Okay Film)

Disappointing. Overwrought. Mediocre.

Tagline: Love, laughter, and freedom.

Reteaming him with director, Aziz Mirza, and costar, Juhi Chawla, Shah Rukh Khan claimed that this film was the biggest failure of their careers. I don’t know just what he meant or why he feels that way. The film was a modest commercial success and fared reasonably well critically, but there’s no question that it is disappointing. With its high pedigree and its strong premise, borrowed partially from classics like His Girl Friday, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani should be much better. Khan and Chawla star as rival t.v reporters competing for ratings as they slowly fall for one another. Meanwhile, a huge story develops involving corrupt politicians, revenge, and a local assassination. The film simply attempts too many tones to successfully deliver on any of them. Most Bollywood films alternate between tones frequently but it’s too jarring here. There’s a subplot wherein a father kills the man who raped his daughter and there are goofy scenes like the one in which Khan fends off past girlfriends who want to get back together. It just doesn’t work. By the end, all ideas of fun have completely left the picture and what’s left is overwrought. Too many tearful closeups.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(940)

Iron Monkey (1993, Directed by Yuen Woo-Ping) Cantonese 6

Starring Donnie Yen, Ringo Yu, Jean Wang, Angie Tsang, James Wong, Yuen Shun-yi, Lee Hai

Iron Monkey

(6-Good Film)

Action-packed. Fun. Outlandish.

Wong Kei-Ying: A man should shed blood, not tears.

One of the dozen or so pictures I’ve seen depicting Wong Fei-Hong, this is the only one that shows the legendary Chinese hero as a young boy. It’s the 19th century and he wanders into some small town with his tough, widowed father, Wong Kei-Ying (Yen), to find that the local officials are corrupt and a masked vigilante known as the Iron Monkey is terrorizing them, doing his best impression of Robin Hood. Father and son get involved in the action once Kei-Ying agrees to catch the mysterious hero. Fast-paced and full of action, Iron Monkey is a lot of fun. It’s also a bit bizarre to me as a westerner, though I’ve seen a number of martial arts films. Iron Monkey feels particularly foreign in its style, sense of humor, and artistic flourishes.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(939)