Tag Archives: Jamie Chung

[Review] – The Man with the Iron Fists

11 Nov

Title: The Man with the Iron Fists
Year: 2012
Director: RZA
Writers: RZA and Eli Roth
Starring: RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, David Bautista, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Byron Mann
MPAA Rating: R, bloody violence, strong sexuality, language and brief drug use
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Metacritic: 54

Everything about The Man with the Iron Fists sounded just deliciously insane and just prime for my enjoyment. It’s the directorial debut of the RZA, the leader of the Wu-Tang Clan who most recently had an arc in Californication, he also co-wrote the film with Eli Roth which is a weird pairing that yet somehow makes a lot of sense to me. Then you find out that it’s actually a martial arts film set in 19th century China about a group of lone warriors who are forced to unite against a greater evil to save their village? I was sold.

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[Trailer] – Premium Rush

1 Jun

Premium Rush is a film that you may have forgotten all about, seeing as how we were originally supposed to get in January and now it’s been pushed all the way back to August. Anyways, it has a new trailer now, which you can watch after the cut.

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The Hangover: Part II

31 May

Title: The Hangover: Part II
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Todd Phillips
Writers: Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips, based on the characters by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: 
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Callen, Mason Lee
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images
Runtime: 
102 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 
35%

 

I went to see The Hangover: Part II on Saturday, and I left the theater with mixed feelings, to say the least. But before I talk about this one, let me rewind things a couple years back, when on June 5th, 2009 The Hangover opened. Right now we know the impact that film had on 2009’s film year, but during that weekend it was just a $35 million budget R-rated comedy starring a Bradley Cooper that wasn’t one of Hollywood’s finest leading men like he is now, but was instead a guy known for supporting roles in stuff like Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch and for his role in the TV series Alias, it also starred an Ed Helms that was known exclusively because of his work in The Office, and it starred a largely-unknown heavy-set guy with a weird last name and a thick beard.

That weekend that film would have to face off against Land of the Lost, a film that came with a loftier and flashier $100 million budget and the tremendous starpower of Will Ferrell. But we now know how it all turned out, not only was Land of the Lost a colossal disaster, making less than $70 million at the box office, but The Hangover grossed over $100 million in its first ten days in release thanks to great critical reception and terrific word of mouth despite the lack of starpower. And it set new records on the way to becoming the tenth highest grossing movie of the year, too. It ended its theatrical run with a worldwide gross of over $465 million, making it the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time, and the third highest grossing R-rated film of all-time behind just The Passion of the Christ and The Matrix Reloaded. Not to mention that it got Mr. Cooper the fame he deserved as one of Hollywood’s most reliable new leading men, it got Mr. Helms fame outside of television, and it made Zach Galifianakis’ last name one on everyone’s lips, establishing himself quickly and surely as one of the most hilarious guys around, and with good reason.

Now, personally, I, much like the rest of the world, fell in love with The Hangover, giving it a solid A grade and ranking it as my 17th favorite film of all 2009. So it’s fair to say I was desperately looking forward to see what the guys did now in their second go-round, with the added pressure of a hit to succeed and actually having fame and expectations attached to their names. And, honestly, the result was definitely far from impressive, and while I still liked The Hangover: Part II a fair bit and think it’s a solid comedy, I definitely consider it to be somewhat of a disappointment.

And the reason for my disappointment is that when The Hangover came to us in 2009 we all loved it because it was a no-holds-barred comedy that felt extremely fresh and original. And this time around director Todd Phillips trying too hard to recreate that level of success made a cookie-cutter copy of the first one, and made this one seem like a safe imitation of its predecessor, not really doing anything new to break from the formula imposed just two years ago. And yes, it’s a fantastic formula to follow because the first one was extremely good, but at least some sort of variations should have been added. This one is just more of the same, and has me thinking that Blu-Ray’s and DVD’s of the original The Hangover should now come with a sticker that say it’s a spoiler for the sequel, because everything is just the same. And I do realize they tried to do more “edgy” and “outrageous” things in this one, and they do, but they happen in a situation firmly established by the first one and, moreover, when those more risky things happened I actually felt as though the film was dabbling in a territory that I thought was a bit too dark and uncomfortable for this film to be in.

Seriously, I won’t spoil the moments in question for you here because that’s for you to watch and judge, but I really do think that when The Hangover: Part II tried to up the ante with the first one, which wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place had it been its own film from the beginning, it went to places that seemed too dark and weird at times for this film, and that took away that sense of joy the first one had so much of. Now, I realize this all seems like I’m dissing this sequel, when in reality the film itself is perfectly fine and I’m sure many people will enjoy it, it’s just that it’s nowhere as good or memorable as the first one, and I wanted for it so badly to meet my expectations.

In this one it’s Stu’s turn to get married, so we see Mr. Helms being totally perfect at playing the guy who just wants to get married to this great girl he met after his horrible relationship broke off after that last disastrous weekend in Vegas, and wants to do it with no bachelor parties, no roofies, no Mike Tyson’s, just a plain normal wedding. But we obviously know that won’t be the case, and of course Vegas couldn’t be the locale because they had to draw the line as to just how much they could carbon-cope the first one, so the wedding has to be in Thailand because Stu’s in-law’s-to-be live there and want to throw the bride and groom (who the dad doesn’t really approve of) a traditional wedding there.

And while they obviously fail at their attempts to mimic the first one in order to recapture its freshness, this one responds with amping up the raunch factor which gets quite a few great jokes here and there and help make this one what it is. Not to mention that Ken Jeong gets a bigger role after breaking out big with the first film, which was good to see. But you can’t help but think that the guys behind this one just though that more of the same but with more money and more crazy locations and situations would mean more fun, and it really doesn’t, it just stays at “more of the same”. Fortunately, what we got in the first The Hangover was pretty exquisite, so the second servings we get here are still totally enjoyable, though less of a novelty great taste we had never had before like the first one was, but if they go for a third one (and the superb box office returns for this one’s first weekend would seem to indicate they will) then I suggest altering an ingredient or two in the recipe.

Grade: B

Sucker Punch

27 Apr

Title: Sucker Punch
Year:
2011
Director:
Zack Snyder
Writers: Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya, based on a story by Zack Snyder
Starring:
Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language
Runtime:
110 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes:
22%

Zack Snyder is one of the most polarizing directors in the business. People seem to either hate or love his movies, and the man has certainly made his name a brand in the way that people will know what to expect from him, and they will buy a ticket to the movies based on his name alone being on the marquee.  However, doing just that is a double-edged sword because, yeah, if your movie’s awesome then you’ll get all the credit because your particular vision was the reason it was such a masterpiece, but then once you release something that doesn’t please your audience, you’ll be the first person to be thrown under the bus. Just look at M. Night Shyamalan for further proof.

Let’s just rewind and take a look at the guy’s filmography. He came out in 2004 with a remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was really really good, though not as amazing as the originaly obviously, but still, it was a debut that showed this was a guy with a vision and flare, and with a worldwide gross of over $100 million on a $28 million budget the guy was quickly booked as the director of a very ambitious project that was close to his heart.

That project of course was 2007’s 300, the film that got Mr. Snyder and his stylized action introduced to audiences worldwide. And no matter what critics say about 300, I think it’s a pretty universal fact that audiences loved it, and it has over $450 million in worldwide receipts to show for it, and I thought it was a stunning adaptation of Frank Miller’s epic graphic novel and  one of the most visually arresting films I have seen.

Which of course got me all giddy inside when it was announced that the next project Mr. Snyder would be tackling was to be the adaptation of my favorite graphic novel, Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s Watchmen. I was excited because I thought that Watchmen just couldn’t be successfully translated to the screen, but I thought that if anyone would be able to pull it off it would definitely be Mr. Snyder, armed with a $130 million budget.

And so Watchmen came out, and it really divided critics and fanboys alike. I won’t really delve on why the division came, and how much credit there is to the claims effected by both sides. I’ll only say that I personally thought the film was pretty stunning, it wasn’t the perfect Watchmen adaptation, because I think there really can be no perfect Watchmen adaptation, but trust me when I say that what we got courtesy of Mr. Snyder is the best one we’ll ever get, it’s one insanely ambitious R-rated superhero film that has it’s uneven bits, that’s for sure, but also has quite a few moments of sheer magnificence, and when you watch the director’s cut that’s nearly a half hour longer that only becomes more evident.

And then, to conclude our revision of Mr. Snyder’s filmography, we must talk about last year’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, his first foray into animation. And it was a very mature piece of animation, feeling every bit as epic as his past films, and carrying his usual trademark visuals. There were many things that were off with the movie, but it was still very entertaining to see Mr. Snyder in charge of a PG-rated film.

And now he gives us Sucker Punch, a movie he directed, co-wrote and also co-produced with his wife. A film that’s being thrashed by critics and audiences alike, and being called the worst in his canon by a mile. Now, it may be the worst film he’s done, may be, but I actually thought Sucker Punch had its merits.

The first one of which is the fact that this is Mr. Snyder’s first live-action film not to carry an R-rating, and it’s also the first one he’s done that wasn’t based on an already existing property, but instead one he wrote based on a story of his own. So at least it’s him tackling new territory, and I do concede that the characters and the plot in Sucker Punch are quite flat and dull, but I mean, when there’s so much havoc going on around them, and when said havoc is presented in such a visually orgasmic way you really can actually look the other way and focus on the visual insanity of it all.

And I guess that’s really not saying much. I mean, a film that’s visually stunning but that once it has a character open her mouth feels kind of dumb really isn’t worth all that much, but it’s really not as though this one ever pretended it was going to be much more than that. I mean, just look at the posters or the trailers, there’s no indication that this one was going to be more than a group of scantily-clad females with huge guns just raising hell on everyone, Mr. Snyder himself stepping up to describe it as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns”.

People are talking about the morality of the film, it’s representation of women and a whole lot of other stuff that I personally think is way beyond the point. This film is ridiculous any way you look at it, and if you want to point that out and then immediately proceed to discuss its gender representation then you’re way off target. This is just Mr. Snyder being both brilliant and idiotic, he had a huge amount of themes and ideas he wanted to mesh together, and he did so into an over-stylized action fest with hot chicks, and I actually think that it he had only subtracted one theme or one idea the result would have been far more enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t give this film a rating on the A-range, I will probably grade it somewhere along the lines of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, which would indeed make the lesser film he’s done so far to me. But I just want to recognize what’s good about this film, instead of only focusing on how it’s crazy hyperactive and how it represents what’s wrong with film-going audiences nowadays.

I want to acknowledge Mr. Snyder, and how he’s one of the very few working directors who are willing to embed a very distinctive auteur vision into a commercial film, this is the subversive film aimed to just do its own thing no matter what audiences or critics were expecting, and even though it didn’t work as a film all that much, it kind of worked as that.

I don’t know how much I should talk about the plot. We have Emily Browning as Baby Doll who was framed by her evil stepdad for the death of her sister and then checked into a very strange mental hospital with a hot shrink and even hotter inmates that also have handy codenames like Sweat Pea, Blondie and Rocket. And after that is when the movie gets seriously crazy, and as I said its craziness is both it’s main asset and also what does this movie in so I really won’t spoil any of the fun for you here, just rest assured that the craziness includes a small appearance by Jon Hamm himself.

The plot’s meaningless though, Sucker Punch really is just a film about hot chicks with tiny clothes and huge guns in worlds made up in geek-heaven with weirdly cool and ridiculous names in which they get to fight both robots and dragons. Even typing that felt ridiculous and cool at the same time.

There is little substance to these characters, that much is true, but who cares really, this film is still executed to technical perfection and the scenes are awesome and everything looks genius. And if you really want to talk about gender representation like so many apparently do, I’ll only say one thing, the girls here are both seen as exploitation material and as super empowering feminists, so even in that regard this film makes no sense. And I’m more than okay with that.

Grade: B