Streaming VOD Movie Review of the Day : THE GREAT WAR (2019)

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

THE GREAT WAR (2019)- I was very impressed with the trailer for this film and after seeing it was excited to finally see this movie. I guess this is yet another example of a great trailer, being no barometer of the actual movie.

The film has finally made it to streaming, courtesy of Amazon Prime, and I have to say, unfortunately from frame one Director/Writer Steven Luke’s THE GREAT WAR is not good, much less great. It is clumsy, awkward just forced, heavy handed and even boring storytelling. The movie wants to say something, but lacks either the script or direction to say it, and this is ground covered more competently in numerous other films.

35 minutes in and I’m looking at the clock. Neither the performances on the screen, nor the efforts behind the camera particularly impress (the notable exception being the intriguing pairing between Ron Pearlman and Billy Zane). It is filmed more like a reenactment staging, than a film. 49 minutes in and it is feeling way too long, and still not interesting. The fast-forward button is calling me. But I stick with it, hoping it finds its level.

56 minutes in and I am finally intrigued by the conversations on screen, between actors Hiram A. Murray and Edgar Damatian, they begin showing the chemistry the film to this point has dearly needed, but it may be too little too late. As 66 minutes in, it is still so contrived and simplistic and heavy handed in its telling. With another 43 minutes to go, it is feeling like a chore to sit through the remainder of this movie, rather than a benefit. Life is too short  I am thinking, to give this film another 43 minutes.

Moving this review to UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I might come back and finish the last 43 minutes later, but right now with over half the movie watched I have to say… this is a big AVOID. Even if this movie were to stick the landing it would not compensate for the arduous and unsatisfying majority of the film. There are a 100 better war movies, and a 1000 better movies period that you can spend your precious time on.

If my opinion changes if and when I finish this movie, I will update this review, but for now… avoid.

 

 

SHAW BROTHERS classic Martial Arts film of the Week : FIVE SUPERFIGHTERS

Tang shan wu hu (1979)

Currently watching the Shaw Brothers fun FIVE SUPERFIGHTERS, that starts typically enough, with a  guy who styles himself THE CORRECTOR OF BAD KUNG FU :), and he just goes around picking fights with every martial arts school, he comes across.

It is a common plot in these movies, but this one wastes no time getting to it. Nicely filmed, well staged fight scenes, and good editing. And there are nice little flourishes in this film from 40 years ago that I haven’t seen before. One of the Kung Fu teachers is a woman, and she makes tofu for a living. It is nice to see the traditional steps of making Tofu, which is very much still relatively new in the west.

Add to that these widescreen remastered prints on Amazon, look WAY better than these films ever looked in the theaters or on TV back in the day, and you have an enjoyable streaming watch for the day.

 

Very enjoyable. Grade: B/B+.

******

SPOILER: Read only after viewing the movie…. The ending of this film there is a bit of a revelation that raises the film up a notch for me. Initially through most of the run-time, the ones seeking revenge come off as petty and mean-spirited as the antagonist of the film. Particularly the Teacher, who devolves into a drunk after back to back losses to the Antagonist. Going so far as to attack his friend when he is drunk.

However in the end fight you realize that  (again huge SPOILER) all throughout the movie he was devising a new style… DRUNKEN BOXING, to beat his unbeatable nemesis. This film tackles the origins of Drunken Boxing. A nice little twist, so that ending and the beautifully choreographed fight scenes, and the almost painterly use of color, moves this up to a solid B/B+.

The last movie that… terrified me : ALONG CAME THE DEVIL II

ALONG CAME THE DEVIL II – I put this film on my Amazon Prime watch-list the other night, never having seen the first film, the poster image on Amazon looked interesting, and the 3.5/5 rating looked promising.

Along Came the Devil 2 (2019)

It was late when I watched it, or early.

And first I must admit, I am not now that force that had in days gone by moved heaven and earth, but what I am… I am. To roughly paraphrase Lord Tennyson.

Meaning I am of a milder temperament today, than of my reckless youth. And I am easier moved. I seek now in my old age, in my facts and my fictions, that no one dies badly, and that there always be a hero, to right wrongs.

So take that softness to note, and the hour, when measuring my feelings on this film.

I felt this film, was terrifying.

Much of horror, like in comedy, is setup and timing. And this film is not without failings, as portions of it seems to be telling of that unseen first movie, but those scenes never unhinge the central strengths of the film.

Namely it is well cast, convincingly even passionately performed, and I thought the Director/Writer Jason Devan and Editor Evan Algren masterfully used setup and timing, to create a chilling and effective movie. It is the work of a filmmaker, who understands viscerally the places in us that throb to the quick and the dead.

Is it a masterpiece? No. But not everything needs to be.

It is an effective, impressively made little chiller, that has more genuine chills in it than you’ll find in far bigger budget films, ala SINISTER, etc.

I went into this film, not having seen trailer or review, knowing nothing more than its title, and it rewarded me.

Go in likewise and you too may be, rewarded.

Grade: I’ve seen a lot of this type of film. Most are not very good, this one I hesitate not to call great. It is right up there with THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (far better than the first film); which I think is this type of film done, as well as I’ve seen it done. I guess the best thing you can say of a movie to really sell it, is having just finished watching it a few days ago, I want to see it again. That is in my book, the sign of an entertaining or compelling movie. B+.

 

Ulysses

Alfred Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known—cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all,—
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
   This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle,
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
   There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me,
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

Deal of the Day!

Rare, Sold-Out and Rarely AVAILABLE ON STREAMING – film of the Day : THE DUELLISTS by Ridley Scott!

Ridley Scott’s feature film debut, and arguably still his most beautiful film, THE DUELLISTS is a simply masterful film. For me Ridley Scott’s first 6 films, are just a director on fire. From DUELLISTS to ALIEN to BLADE RUNNER to LEGEND to SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME to BLACK RAIN, is simply a director crushing it from movie to movie, and genre to genre.

Now that said, after those first six films, I think he had a long period of films that I did not love; where the films just did not interest or appeal to me. In the last 20 years, while I like THE MARTIAN, arguably the only film of his I’m jazzed to rewatch… the way I am his first six films; is AMERICAN GANGSTER.

It is funny the careers of Ridley, and his late brother… the great director Tony Scott, are kinda like polar opposites. I Loved the films at the beginning of Ridley’s career, I think they are odd, intimate masterpieces, but have not been crazy about his later films. Tony Scott was the opposite, I wasn’t crazy about his early movies, but feel his films later in his directorial career really start knocking it out of the park.

Tony Scott’s partnership with Denzel Washington being a great and rewarding director/star relationship, reminiscent of other such acclaimed pairings… Ford/Wayne, Woo/Chow-Yun Fat, Lee/Washington, Leone/Eastwood, Capra/Stewart, Kurosawa/Mifune, Scorsese/De Niro, Hitchcok/Grant to name a few.

That partnership yielding one hands down masterpiece in MAN ON FIRE, and four enjoyable films in CRIMSON TIDE, DEJA VU, THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, and UNSTOPPABLE (Tony Scott’s final film). So it is unfortunate for many reasons, that we lost Tony Scott so unexpectedly.

But thankfully we still have Ridley making films, and despite some of his more recent films being not for me (GODS OF EGYPT), when he sticks the landing, we are all the better and richer for it. His upcoming THE LAST DUEL, from an Affleck/Damon script, sounding a bit like him revisiting his 40+ year old film, THE DUELLISTS.

 

Get the Blu-ray or get it via Streaming HERE!

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Ebay Deals of the Day!

Today’s STEELBOOK Deals of the Day!

 

Show full-size image of LIMITED The Hunger Games - Complete Edition Stunning German Import! Blu-Ray!

I am not the biggest fan of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy, but the odds of me, not owning this ‘work of art’ Steel-book and Movie, and having it proudly displayed on my bookshelf /media room,… those odds are zero.  🙂

If you likewise would like to add the item to your home, please use the following link. You get a great item, and it earns a few pennies for this Blog to keep the proverbial doors open. A win-win. 

Also it makes a great gift/ present.

HUNGER GAMES LIMITED EDITION STEEL-BOOK

 

 

Also have the following now available (you will find them using the above link as well):

 

Rambo: First Blood - Zavvi Exclusive (Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD) - Steelbook

Today’s Must own Blu-Ray Steelbook in the age of Digital : THE THIRD MAN (1949)

In the age of Digital when traditional DVDs are going the way of the dodo, Steel-books are just getting more and more popular. Here is this installment’s STEEL-BOOK of the day:

Orson Welles and Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN (1949)

 

Credited to Carol Reed, Orson Welles directorial hand is all over this one. In my opinion Orson Welles’ finest film, and that is saying a lot considering his masterpieces like CITIZEN KANE, MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, LADY IN THE WATER, OTHELLO, CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT and the list goes on. And if any film deserves the upscale Steel-book treatment… it is this one. And this one offers a stellar transfer, commentaries, and great features.

 

Get yours here! (Use this link and get a great item, AND earn a couple very appreciated pennies for this blog):

THIRD MAN LIMITED EDITION STEEL-BOOK

 

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Halloween Countdown – 7 for 7 – Seven Movies and Seven Reviews! Day 12!

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dark House This film has intriguing visuals, Victor Salva creating another memorable movie boogie man in the Axe-Men, and the syncopated way they move.  However the movie gradually loses steam to a forgettable ending. Worth a look, but not a keeper.

 

DISCARNATE is another movie, where the monster/monster design is unfortunately better than the movie it is in.

The movie is ok, worth a look, but I feel the creature is the most interesting thing, and the surrounding actors and plot, while talented, have the definite feel of very rote and not particularly engaging. When not on the monster effects, it all seems a bit by the numbers.

 

 

Pikovaya dama. Chyornyy obryad (2015)

 

QUEEN OF SPADES – I have praised this movie before. A lot of other movies do the “kids daring each other to summon up things that go bump in the night” very few do it as competently, or intriguingly, or captivatingly as this film. Most of the time, it is just a bunch of stupid choices made by stupid people, followed by even more “lacking common sense” responses.

Yes we are entering the world of the fantastic, but even in that fantastic world, the responses have to be responses that we feel we would or could make in such fantastic situations.

And when the choices are even more fantastic than the premise, that is when suspension of disbelief breaks down, and we are done with the movie.

That is the problem with the vast number of horror movies. Not so here. You feel the path the characters are on, and the choices being made, are true to the constraints of the world and situation created. Huge fan of this movie. It’s a solid B/B+ of a movie. If you are a fan of LIGHTS OUT the short and feature (while this film isn’t to that level, it is not far off), give this one a try.

 

HELL HOUSE LLC- This has a bit of “people behaving not the way a rational person would behave in such a situation” vibe, it feels to me. However the movie keeps it moving, and slightly mollifies the protagonists stupid actions, by painting him into a corner, and when you feel you are in a corner, stupid decisions tend to trump rational ones.

Besides that, the movie is just well constructed, leading to the forewarned ending. Not a great movie, but a very good one. And one I can re-watch. One of the best Scare House movies (WAY better than the HOUSES OF OCTOBER movies)

Leaving D.C. (2012)BAD BEN series – I can not even tell you how many BAD BEN movies there are. IMDB list at least six, however there may be some tangentially connected films as well. I’ve seen at least 4 of the BAD BEN movies proper, and starting with the 1st (LEAVING DC) I have been a fan.

Just a great series that has fun with the haunted house and found footage tropes.

It is not Shakespeare, does not take itself too seriously (well the first one is the most sinister and ‘serious’ of them all), but isn’t just played for laughs, it is told straight forward, but like SCREAM the protagonist is aware of the movie tropes, so it is a bit “inside baseball” fun to it.  But it is fun, and is better than most horror movies out there that trod similar ground, and that have stupid, unlikable 20-something protagonists.

Ben is a character you definitely like, and root for during his misadventures.

 

Hex (2017)HEXI enjoyed this film. Dire, and complicated, and horrible, and beautiful, and an ode to hatreds and conflicts… and the emptiness and wastefulness of those hatreds and conflicts. It is haunting, in the best and worst ways. Not a big film, or a great film, it is a small intimate film, yet there is something… great in it. Not as beautiful as THE WITCH but it, like that film, stays with you long after you see it.

With a title like THE SHE-CREATURE and being from the schlock days of 1956, especially with the poster art, you wouldn’t expect much from this film. But what people forget is even though the special and creature effects were in their infancy and it shows (that poster is everything that is wrong with this movie, selling the monster rather than the mystery), the acting and direction is actually very strong in a lot of these films.

And THE SHE-CREATURE is an example of real actors (past their prime in some cases, and in roles arguably beneath them, but still delivering that star power), beautiful direction and cinematography and an intriguing premise that includes (for 1956 and arguably even today) controversial concepts of hypnotism, past life regression, spiritualism,  and a palpable racial memory that lives on in our very genes, that hold up, despite the limitations of the creature design and affects.

The film would have been better served if it never showed the monster, or showed it only in brief glimpses (ala NIGHT OF THE DEMON) unfortunately selling subtle over schlock, was not an easy sell then or now.

So we have a movie that is actually engrossing, until the outlandish rubber suit monster at its core turns up. But despite the ludicrous of everything associated with the creature design, there is a brutality to the murder scenes that the monster leaves behind, that is ahead of its time.

And bottom-barrel rubber suit or no, the story and performances around it, keeps me intrigued enough to keep watching. That aside I still enjoyed my watch.

In-fact if you were to CGI in a credible monster, over the awful blonde haired sea-monster with boobies rubber suit (Those are words you do not expect to use together in a sentence. 🙂 . Even for the 50s that monster design is deplorably bad, and a bit inexcusable when people were able to do impressive creature designs such as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), or edit around those scenes, you would actually have a good little movie. So definitely not a must see by any means, but it is worth a look on a slow movie day. There are things to like about it, even in 2019 going on 2020. 

So… 4 solid recommendations, and 3 not quite ready for prime time films reviewed for Halloween. If you have Amazon Prime, all the films are available to view at no cost. Come back tomorrow to see what makes the list on Day 11, of our Halloween countdown.