Beyond Skyline (2017)

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Utterly bonkers sequel to 2010′s Skyline, an alien invasion movie from visual effects masters The Brothers Strause. The siblings take producer credits for the follow-up, and the first film’s writer, Liam O’Donnell, steps in to write and direct the sequel. It is relentless and nutty and always entertaining. We are introduced to drunk single dad Mark (Frank Grillo) and his wayward son Trent, who are both a lost cause in need of a quest, when a spaceship arrives and obliterates Los Angeles, unleashing giant aliens firing blue light, abducting people and sucking out their brains. Mark and his makeshift group of …

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Mission of Justice (1992)

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Jeff Wincott plays a tough karate cop who turns in his badge in protest to mismanagement in the force. He’s a good cop, but it’s the system that sucks. A glamorous mayoral candidate called Dr Larkin (Nielsen, ice-cold and fabulous) is gaining popularity due to her hard-line stance on crime. But as soon as she introduces her bodyguard brother, played by Matthias Hues, it’s pretty obvious that she’s not totally on the level. She runs an elite team of street-fighting vigilantes known as the ‘Peacekeepers’ who are a bit like a pseudo-religious martial arts cult. This slightly bizarre initiative (particularly …

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Top Knot Detective (2016)

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Remarkably detailed Australian-made homage to bonkers Japanese television from the 1980s and 90s, filmed in the ‘mockumentary’ style of something like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace or Spinal Tap. This constantly blurs the line between truth and spoof, featuring input from real people like Dario Russo (creator of the similarly mad throwback comedy Danger 5), film writer Des Mangan (who also narrates the film), and vox pops with “fans” from Comic Con events, interspersed with actors playing characters who are also playing characters. Like the subject matter, its a bit of a head-spin, and at times the made-up narrative is so accurately portrayed …

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Terminator Woman (1993)

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An awesome title, but this has nothing to do with the Terminator franchise. It’s a valiant directorial debut from Michel Qissi (Tong Po in Kickboxer), who provides a decent showcase for real-life martial artists Jerry Trimble and Karen Sheperd despite budget limitations. They play tough karate cops Jay Handlin and Julie A. Parish (“the A is for attitude”), who are stationed in South Africa to investigate a drug baron called Gatelee (Qissi), and appear to be in the midst of a lovers’ tiff which is only tangentially explored. They are rarely in the same scenes together. As Jay starts to …

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Blade of the Immortal (2017)

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Now having reached supposedly his 100th film, Takashi Miike is still a director seemingly incapable of producing a straightforward genre piece. On the face of it, this supernatural Samurai slasher – evidently based on a manga series – could easily have only dealt in crowd-pleasing schlock and splatter (and it definitely does do that). But it is also a meditation on the nature of revenge; a study of a young girl’s lost innocence; and an existential look at human fallibility, redemption and death. For a film which features an immortal Samurai who is brought back to life by ‘bloodworms’ that …

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God of War (2017)

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Fans of military strategy should enjoy this sumptuous Gordon Chan blockbuster – a battle-scarred, patriotic, visceral attack of a war movie which feels a bit like John Woo’s 2008 Chinese film Red Cliff, even if it does deal with a different time period and a new enemy. This focuses on the events following the invasion of the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang by Japanese pirates in the 16th century. They are led by Samurai who follow the Bushido code but are reliant on ronin with loose morals to enact their invasion. Their honourable leader, Commander Kumasawa (a brilliantly mature and …

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Kill’em All (2017)

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Albanian-born fight choreographer Peter Malota steps up to direct this dead-faced Van Damme vehicle based around the ethnic wars following the break-up of Yugoslavia. Following a botched attempt on the life of a Serbian minister, the dying dignitary and his gun-toting bodyguards haul-up in an Los Angeles hospital to kill the culprit: a defected assassin known as Philip (JCVD), who methodically fends off the remaining heavies alongside the nurse, Suzanne (Autumn Reeser), who is helpfully revealed to be a martial arts expert. One of the baddies is Van Damme’s contemporary, Daniel Bernhardt, who gets to go toe-to-toe with JCVD, and …

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Bruce’s Fingers (1976)

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This histrionic Bruce Lee tribute centres on his deadly finger technique (did Bruce Lee have a deadly finger technique?). The root of this idea seems to stem from that brief moment in Fist of Fury during the Bob Baker fight when Lee waves his hands around in slow motion. Here, this notion has manifested itself into an entire plot device centred around a highly sought-after secret kung fu finger book, which drug-dealing criminal Lo Lieh wants to get his kung fu fingers on. Bruce Le plays Bruce Lee’s student, called Bruce Wong – a spunky Bruce Lee clone in sunglasses …

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The Black Dragon’s Revenge (1975)

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A pretty decent showcase for US karate ace Ron Van Clief, launched into the movie business by producer Serafim Karalexis who apparently made up the story to this movie on the plane ride over to Hong Kong. That might explain why its riddled with plot holes. It’s blaxploitation meets Bruceploitation as Ron Van Clief (aka ‘the Black Dragon’, here playing a version of himself) meets up with his taekwondo buddy Charles Bonet to investigate the death of his friend Bruce Lee. Ron did actually meet Bruce Lee in the 1960s, and much the film feels strangely prescient considering the mood …

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Security (2017)

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Solid action flick which sees Antonio Banderas transform into a grizzled, nihilistic, world-weary action hero. He’s great, even if he does still sound like Puss in Boots. He’s an ex-army captain with an estranged family and a vague allusion to some form of mental illness (that’s never properly explored), who takes a minimum wage job as a security guard in a shopping mall. “I’m not here to rock the boat,” he says to the night manager, before a girl fleeing from the scene of a violent crime pounds on the doors seeking refuge. Two minutes later and Ben Kingsley rocks …

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