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Dan cheng lu

Shaw did this better before
ONE WAY ONLY is another 'angry young man' type drama from Shaw, although the message seems to have been lost by the 1980s and this is more like a random slice-of-life character study at times. It's very similar to an older Ti Lung movie I saw from Shaw, but the lead is no Ti Lung and it's much more muddled and subdued. On the plus side, there's always something going on here, and the proper drama, when it kicks in during the last 20 minutes, is well-handled and effective. A busy cast are given plenty of material and the racing scenes are quite fun. An average film overall and a sign of Shaw's slipping quality by the 1980s.

In Darkness

A far cry from greatness
Another blind-woman-in-peril thriller, this time made by Natalie Dormer and her partner. Sadly, it's a far cry from the two-fer greatness of BLIND TERROR and WAIT UNTIL DARK, and indeed it's very much a ho-hum slice of hokum, too dark and too cheap to make any impact whatsoever. I like Dormer and always have - she's by far my favourite Anne Boleyn - but she has little to work with here, and the plot is needlessly complex and murky, although at its heart the story is interesting enough. The main problem is in the direction, which offers no suspense whatsoever, rendering the whole thing a bore.

Daredevil: Regrets Only
Episode 6, Season 2

Turning it around
Things turn around for the better with this episode. The Punisher returns and inevitably bags all the best scenes. Karen actually gets proper material to work with, and even the Elektra scenes - a heist of sorts - are quite a lot of fun. Let's hope the improvement continues...

The Craft: Legacy

The pits
The original movie was no great shakes but this follow up is a million times worse. Everything is awful here, from the direction to the writing and the performances, and it all builds up to a preposterous climax that would have been rejected from CHARMED for looking too weak. Pity poor old David Duchovny, stuck making this junk since X-FILES ended.

Sexual Roulette

A cheap bore
CARNAL RISK (just one of many titles) is a very low grade erotic thriller set in Las Vegas. The main characters are a dull married couple with money issues that just get worse as the storyline progresses, leading to a gender-twist INDECENT PROPOSAL style storyline. Sadly, the extra-wooden acting and padded out sex scenes render the whole thing a cheap bore.

Daredevil: Kinbaku
Episode 5, Season 2

What were they thinking?
This was an awful episode, the worst of the show yet. Elektra fails to impress and the actress playing her is way below par. The Karen/Matt scenes are purely cringeworthy and feel like they belong in a cheesy romantic comedy and the rest is just inert with Punisher sorely missed. What were they thinking?

Gunpowder Milkshake

A disappointment
This looked good from the trailer but the film itself let me down. The script is poor and way too derivative and the over the top comedy is way out of place given the violence elsewhere. The story is too obviously copied from JOHN WICK and the substitution of the library for the hotel doesn't really work or feel legitimate. Some solid acting talent is present here but Karen Gillan has bitten off more than she can chew as the lead and her doubling is too obvious and too often. Some good fight choreography is lost between the over editing and over cutting. Overall, I expected more but didn't get it from this film.

Tremors: Shrieker Island

Dead franchise
The latest in the TREMORS franchise which is long dead by this point. Michael Gross is the only returning star and gives a thoroughly cheesy performance. The nonsensical plot has a group of cliched big game hunters heading to an island to hunt some Graboids, and guest star Richard Brake (GAME OF THRONES) is the big bad. It all plays out in a lowest common denominator kind of way, with cheesy CGI and dumb scripting; next, please!

A Walk in the Woods

A disappointingly slight and slightly inane buddy comedy based on an old Bill Bryston book. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are the buddies who go on a woodland walk together and generally exchange inanities and indulge in some cheesy slapstick along the way. It's surprisingly hackneyed given the talents of the actors involved, and not one moment has any genuine warmth or wit. Most surprising of all is the undercurrent of misogyny running throughout the picture.

Malibu Express

Low budget mess
My first exposure to an Andy Sidaris film and it's hardly one to set the box office on fire. Instead what plays out is a cheapjack thriller with some exceptionally wooden acting, listless plotting and cheesy action sequences. Sidaris shoehorns gratuitous nudity into the storyline at every opportunity, and the end result is a low budget mess, nothing more.

The Terror: We Are Gone
Episode 10, Season 1

Solid end
And so THE TERROR comes to a solid end with this decent close to the storyline. The quality of the acting from Jared Harris is strong here although I do think that the Hickey role was slightly miscast and should have gone to a more charismatic actor. The action is well handled and the climax is slightly predictable but nonetheless effective.

How to Undress in Public Without Undue Embarrassment

Certainly an oddball effort, a series of striptease-themed vignettes with a bunch of CARRY ON actors along for the ride. I watched this mainly for the presence of these stars and Jon Pertwee is funny in particular, although others like Reginald Beckwith and Kenneth Connor have blink and you miss 'em cameos. Weirdly, these dated comic moments are interspersed with genuine strip routines with a wealth of topless nudity, and the comedy and exploitation never really gel.


Typical Beat
FIREWORKS is perhaps the archetypal Beat Takeshi movie, taking all of his sensibilities as a director and throwing them into an arthouse-style movie with commercial appeal. It's a slow, deliberately paced story of a cop on the edge - Takeshi's usual role - and the ways in which his life is complicated by the Yakuza as well as a terminally ill wife. Beautifully shot throughout with handsome coastal and beach scenes, this is studded with the usual stark violence and bloodshed, understated performances, and a general quality feel.

Man on a Tightrope

Didn't do it for me
Perhaps too subtle for me; I found this one quite dull, and lacking the kind of suspense that the escape-the-authorities plot needs. A shame, as it's well mounted for sure, and the circus setting is, as ever, an entertaining one, and the cast - including luminaries like Cameron Mitchell, Gloria Grahame and Fredric March - is to die for. But it simply didn't do it for me.

Russkiy Reyd

Nothing special...
A Russian fighting film with virtually nothing in the way of plot, character, acting or depth to recommend it. Instead it's just one repetitive fight scene after another with a bunch of big bald guys slugging it out over and over again. No real heroes or villains here, just one uber-macho guy battling a like-minded opponent for final supremacy. It's exhausting, but unlike THE RAID films, you simply don't care.

Daredevil: Penny and Dime
Episode 4, Season 2

A fantastic episode, this one, a mini climax of sorts and one which takes the action, the violence and the emotion to the next level. It's the Jon Bernthal show at this point and he excels; I hope they can keep this same kind of quality going for what's to come.

The Terror: The C, the C, the Open C
Episode 9, Season 1

Consistently good
A good penultimate episode; some parts of it feel a little padded, like the look-at-me Charles Dickens opening and a couple of the monologues which don't add much. I was expecting a little more incident as they're going to have to fit a heck of a lot into the final episode now. Otherwise, it's as consistently good as it ever was.

Attack of the Puppet People

Not much going for it
An extremely cheap and cheerful B-movie from the notorious Mr. B. I. G. (that's Bert I. Gordon, incredibly still alive at this point in time). It plays with his obsession with giant-sized creatures or miniaturisation, but as a film it's quite the slog and seems almost entirely lacking in plot. The set-up takes forever and then there are only a couple of mildly perilous 'little people' scenes before the ridiculously anticlimactic ending. Sure, the acting and FX are what make this fun, but it's hardly one of the decade's enduring classics.

Ji wu cang jiao

Watch it for Do Do
GUESTS IN THE HOUSE is another in an endless wave of Hong Kong comedy horrors about people moving into haunted houses and finding themselves, well, haunted. This one takes a slightly different approach with rather sympathetic female spectres from the 1930s whose presence allows for some battle of the sexes-style satire. Derek Yee and Carol Do Do Cheng play the leads and the latter is typically good; in fact, her winning feisty presence is what makes this film worth watching. Otherwise it's heavy on the comedy and only really kicks off supernaturally in the last ten minutes.

Ondata di calore

Very dull
A very dull, giallo version of Polanski's REPULSION, with Jean Seberg trapped in her apartment and going out of her mind. Or worrying a bit, anyway. It's a slow-as-molasses story in which very little happens and the attempts at psychological depth fell flat, at least for me. The reliable Luigi Pistilli is wasted in support and the body doubled nude scenes are pointless filler.

Fukushima 50

Truly disappointing
A truly disappointing version of the nuclear disaster that befell Japan a decade ago. This one has the budget and the FX to do the story justice, but it takes a dialogue-heavy, low key approach that negates any attempts at suspense or tension or indeed excitement. Ken Watanabe is wasted in a non-dramatic role and the whole thing feels like a TV documentary dramatisation rather than a real slice of drama in itself.

The Terror: Terror Camp Clear
Episode 8, Season 1

Really strong
Another really strong episode, this. It builds palpable tension throughout and completely unsettles you with the building suspense. The climax, when it hits, is ferocious.

Daredevil: New York's Finest
Episode 3, Season 2

Wasn't expecting this
I wasn't expecting much from this episode, two handers always smack of padding to me, but this one works very well thanks to Jon Bernthal's hugely imposing performance. Plus it's topped by a nice little stairwell fight sequence at the climax, which is the icing on a wholly satisfying cake.

Bad Boys for Life

Nothing to dislike
Very much in the spirit of a LETHAL WEAPON sequel, BAD BOYS FOR LIFE is a surprisingly enjoyable throwback to the 1990s. I thought the first two movies were pretty good, but I actually enjoyed this one the best of all. The ageing jokes are quite funny, there's less dumb/crude humour than I was expecting, and the character interplay still works; there's a reason buddy buddy comedies are perennial favourites so this is a no-brainer really. In addition, it's very well shot with a great colour palette and the action sequences are handled adroitly. Nothing to dislike, really.

Point of Seduction: Body Chemistry III

Cheese and then some
One of many cheesy BASIC INSTINCT copies that came out in the mid 1990s, this one stars go-to guy Andrew Stevens as a sleazy movie producer who decides to tell the true-life story of a woman who killed two men in self defence. As he gets unnaturally close to the subject, any viewer will guess the twist ending a mile off. There's a lot of sex inevitably shoehorned into the proceedings and it's all entirely dull as per usual for the genre, so the fun comes here from the wooden acting and dated stylings. Robert Forster plays in support.

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