DvdJervs

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Reviews

Ging chaat goo si III: Chiu kup ging chaat
(1992)

Enjoyable, but they should have dropped the 'Police Story' tag ...
... because apart from the main character and a few characters from the original (who are in for barely any time) this film bears no real resemblance to the original Police Story.

The film is quite good. There is a drug syndicate on the loose and thus the Chinese government wants the help of Hong Kong in dealing with the problem, so the Hong Kong police send their 'supercop', Ka Kui (Chan), the hero from the previous 2 Police Story films.

There are some exceelent action scenes, and for a change they don't always include Jackie, as Michelle Yeoh co-stars and has a go herself.

The bad parts of this film IMHO were when they tried to include the old 'Police Story' elements into the film. The plot involving May bumping into Ka Kui whilst on assignment has been done TWICE already and it's gotten rather old (you'd think she'd have gotten a hint the previous 2 times). Ka Kui's superior Bill is enjoyable as always but apart from a few minutes at the start and a quick stint as Ka Kui's pretend mother hardly shows up for the film. It makes you wonder whether it was necessary to include these elements when it may have just been easier to go for a straight-out new film as opposed to another sequel.

All up, the film is enjoyable, with some excellent action scenes (as always). Just don't expect a 'Police Story' film when you see it. As mentioned above, the only real thing that ties it to the first 2 in the series is the main character and a few characters from the originals who are hardly in it at all. Apart from that, it's a different film. They should have just called it 'Supercop' and be done with it (the film itself landed it's own sequels).

8/10.

Footnote: this is a review of the SUBTITLED version (not the dubbed version, thankfully).

Bring It On
(2000)

Entertaing. Stupid, but entertaining
Within the first 5 minutes you know that the film isn't supposed to be taken seriously. Which is just as well, because otherwise you'd have a hard time putting up with the rest that appears on screen.

The cheerleading sequences are quite impressive - it's a bit of a pity the remainder of the film isn't quite up to the same calibre. Don't get me wrong - it's fun, but you can't help wishing for something more. The characters speak like they're showing off to the camera, instead of just speaking like any normal teenager would, which gets annoying rather quickly. Also the attempts to try and give cheerleading a send up with the cheerleaders complaing that Torrance is running a 'cheerocracy' and is being a 'cheertator', and later on that she's having 'cheersex' with a guy in the audience fails to find many laughs at all.

Anyway, the cheerleading sequences are tops (as mentioned above). Dunst looks nice and cute as Torrance, but her character suffers from all the usual gimmicks and cliches that are seen in countless other teenage films (usually related to what is known as 'idiot plot' syndrome). The real standouts are Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union, who at times bring an air of reality to their characters - Dushku being the rebel who wonders what all the fuss is about, and Union the captain who just wants to give her team the best chance she can give it. It probably helps that they're supporting characters as well, meaning they don't have to be on the screen as much as Dunst (who at times struggles to keep her character afloat).

All up, 'Bring It On' is an enjoyable romp, but I think a viewer would get the most out of it if they happen to be a fan of any of the leading actors mentioned above. Otherwise it's yet another teenage/sports film with a twist (and some pretty good cheerleading sequences).

3.5 out of 5

Water Rats
(1996)

Good series, but the title is it's biggest hurdle
When it first came out it was quite an intriguing concept - a police drama that centered on a special group of police, namely the Sydney Water Police, which added a breath of fresh air to most of the other police dramas out there. Unfortunately as time has worn on the novelty wore off and they began to go for more and more standard police stories. Here's where the problem lies. Whilst it's great to see the 'Rats' not entirely dependant on Sydney Harbour for their storylines the producers have come up with the ridiculous idea that they must regularly have a cutback to the harbour for at least 5 minutes of every second episode as if to try and validate the 'Water Rats' tag. I wouldn't have minded if it was a rare kind of thing but it's all too regular for no real reason.

If the producers are serious about keeping the series going for a few more years yet then please, either: a) Don't be afraid to stay on land if need be. b) Get another name for the series so you don't feel tied to the harbour all the time or c) Just stick to the water and be done with it.

Having 5 minute throwbacks to the water every second episode for no reason other than to remind the audience why the series is called 'Water Rats' is quite annoying.

Blue Heelers
(1994)

One of the best series in Australia, but how much longer can it last?
The fact that it was until recently the highest rating TV series in Australia (only brought down lately by 'Seachange' after a strong fight that lasted a couple of years) should speak volumes about the quality. Based in the small town of Mt. Thomas the Heelers must constantly solve crimes and keep the peace whilst at the same time deal with each other in their small, cooped up police station. The regular addition of new cast members has also helped keep the series fresh as well as add the interesting relationshiops that develop.

The big problem however that appears to be fast catching up with the series is that despite the constant cast changes keeping the storys fresh it has also wittled down the original cast which has kept the old flavour alive. Now with the departing of Maggie (Lisa McCune) only Tom 'Boss' Croydon, PJ, and Chris at the pub are left. I have a bad feeling as to what will happen if any of the last 3 leave.

Rumours are already abounding that John Wood (Croydon) intends to retire within the next year or so. If Martin Sacks (PJ) leaves as well I think the series will have lost too much that any new cast could make up for. Characters may come and go but Croydon has always run the place his way and PJ is, well, PJ, which has kept the old feeling alive. And Chris has always been the old reliable woman at the pub for a chat. Whilst McCune's leaving may have proved that the series could survive even without it's biggest star I think anymore losses in the original cast may give the series it's deathblow.

Charlie's Angels
(2000)

Totally stupid moments hamper the fun of it, but still entertaining
After seeing the movie for the first time today I just had to make a comment. On the whole I found the film enjoyable. It's not meant to be taken seriously at all, so anyone who prefers this shouldn't waste their time. The film's main focus is pure fun, and it delivers. However it sometimes gets in the way. The reason being is because there are some scenes in the movie that are just SO stupid, I had a hard time watching it even though I knew it wasn't supposed to be taken seriously. I think even in films like this there has to be a least some sort of plausability otherwise it's just totally worthless. Here's an example:

* spoiler *

Take for instance where Drew Barrymore beats up half a dozen bad guys with her hands tied (you probably saw it in the trailers). After wiping the floor with them what does she do? Some stupid kind of solo jig for the next 20 seconds as she exits the room, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Huh? What the hell is that? For a second there she was looking all strong and tough, then she breaks into this with a giddy smile on her face. I know the movie isn't to be taken seriously but scenes like this are taking it to far. There are other moments similar to this but thankfully not too many.

* end spoiler *

Aside from the above mentioned quibbles the film is entertaining mostly. All the actors look to be having a good time in their roles. And it was a joy to have John Forsythe return to do his ever brilliant voice of 'Charlie'. All up I'd say give it a whirl if you've got time, just don't expect anything of Oscar calibre (aside perhaps from the special effects) and be prepared from some REALLY stupid moments.

Final score: 3.5 out 5 stars

Home and Away
(1988)

How much longer can it last?
Channel 7 made a big mistake earlier this year by re-screening the early episodes during the day at 11am. A mistake because any average viewer who happened to watch it realised that 'Home and Away' has barely changed in the 12 years it has been screening. Sure the characters may have changed (only Alf, Ailsa, Fisher and Sally remain from the original episodes) but we're seeing repeats of the same old storylines again and again and again. Not to mention that the current characters themselves are effectively identical to ones been and gone already except they're being played by different actors and have different names. The only standout thing about Season 2000 is that there has been a lot more accidents, deaths, crises etc. and characters are coming and going with increasing regularity than any previous season that I can recall - perhaps a sign that the show is starved for ideas so they have to have an crisis every second week in an attempt to retain ratings?

My advice to Channel 7 - start looking for an alternative and quickly. 'Home and Away' may have been a great show in its prime but now its has well and truly outstayed its welcome.

Touched by an Angel
(1994)

Good, but how much longer can it last?
I used to watch this series with my family back in its early seasons and enjoyed it a lot. But as time went on we drifted away from it because it was basically recycling the same old plot devices over and over again. Angels come to town. There's a problem. Angels investigate. Everything is not as it seems at first. Angels offer advice but are mostly ignored. Problem becomes screwed up even more. Angels reveal themselves. Everything works out. End of episode.

The formula changes from time to time but that's the basic plot of many episodes. For the first few seasons it worked because there were plenty of situations in which to apply it to, but now they're basically repeating the same stuff that we have already seen in the early seasons with only some minor changes. Only every now and then does an episode come along that feels somewhat original. I tuned in a few months ago and watched a couple of episodes. On the whole, nothing has changed.

All up, likeable series, but can get pretty tiresome after a while if you're only watching it for entertainment value and not for spiritual comfort or something similar.

Little Women
(1949)

Enjoyable, but not the best ...
Maybe it's because I saw this version after seeing the Katharine Hepburn and Winona Ryder versions, but I consider this version to be the least out of the 3. I don't know why. The girls seemed to be a tad to nice and cosy for my liking, and I just couldn't stand Jo's accent. And has already been said some of the ages of the characters seem to be completely out of line with the novel. In a related quibble I didn't like how they switched the ages of Amy and Beth around to make Beth the youngest - I guess this was done so they could get Elizabeth Taylor to play Amy seeing as how Beth dies. And I know it's probably typical of the times but the obvious use of studio sets for just about every single scene made the whole thing seem rather fake.

Overall though it is still an enjoyable film. However I'd recommend the above mentioned Katharine Hepburn and/or Winona Ryder versions over it.

The Virgin Suicides
(1999)

Excellent first movie from Sofia Coppola
Admittedly I was already aware of the basic plot before seeing this film, but even so I was absolutely mesmerised throughout the entire screening. Coppola's direction pulls out the best from the cast and the photography is at times simply stunning.

I only have 2 complaints, and they're fairly minor. The first is Josh Hartnett's constant mumbling of his lines - this is probably on purpose for his character but at times he was very hard to understand, if at all. The second was the casting of Kirsten Dunst as Lux Lisbon. Although she was excellent in the role, Lux was supposed to be the 2nd youngest at 14 years of age and Dunst is clearly older (she was 16 when the movie was filmed). When you see her alongside all the other sisters (in particular Cecilia the youngest) it's easy to understand why many of critics mistakenly thought Lux was the eldest daughter. However her performance was great regardless so it's only a picky problem.

All up, I'd give it 4.5 out of 5.

Dick
(1999)

Knowledge of Watergate is a big advantage, but not necessary to enjoy this film
This film was better than I expected. When I heard the original premise I thought it would be another stupid teenage comedy flick but surprisingly it wasn't that. The actors give solid performances - I was in particular impressed by Dan Hedaya's portrayal of Nixon. And Dunst and Williams were just plain likeable as the silly teenagers stumbling into everything.

Needless to say the more you know about Watergate the funnier this film will be. I already knew a good amount about the events surrounding the Watergate scandal and was able to pick out a lot of the more subtle jokes in the film. However my brother and sister, who both know nothing about Watergate except for what they saw in 'Forrest Gump' (Forrest reporting the burglary from his hotel room and Nixon then resigning) both enjoyed it as well, so it would seem safe to say that whilst knowledge of the events are a big advantage when viewing this flick, they're not a pre-requisite to having a good time.

4 stars out of 5.

Strike!
(1998)

Not bad, but could have been better
I won't bother going into a summary of what the film is about seeing that many have already done so.

So where do I begin? On the whole I found the movie to be enjoyable, though there was plenty of room for improvement. For starters the plot was pretty obvious - within half an hour into the film you can already guess the ending. I felt that Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffman and Monica Keena gave good performances but the other 2 members of the DAR were fairly dull and I never paid much attention to them. Lynn Redgrave I thought was also good. Rachel Leigh Cook I found to be slightly disappointing - she did her best with her character but the film never gave her much room to develop. I also felt the treatment of her character at the end was a bit harsh as well. I also felt that Snake and the rest of his gang was basically pointless - their only real purpose was at the end so everything else they did in the film was just filler as far as I could see.

Despite the shortcomings I did find the film to be on the whole enjoyable. I found it funny often (though not often enough) and generally had a good time. I did however find the ending a bit of a letdown. This may be in part due to the fact I found Verena (Dunst) the most interesting character so when she disappeared from the scenes late in the film I couldn't find any other character to latch onto, leaving me a bit alienated. The dialogue at times was also fairly ordinary, if not ridiculous.

Ultimately I'd recommend this film for those who enoy a bit of a laugh, but just be aware that this film does have a number of shortcomings which prevent it from being a very good comedy instead of being just a normal comedy attempt. I'd give this film 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Little Women
(1994)

Very good
Without a doubt this is a very enjoyable film. I have never read the novel so I can't comment on how well the actors played their parts but I felt they all did a good job.

My only complaint, and it's mainly a trivial one - the replacement of Kirsten Dunst with Samantha Mathis 2/3 of the way into the film. Although it was impossible for Dunst to play the older Amy (she was only 11 when it was films so she was clearly too young) it was still a fairly major distraction for me because Amy had become my favourite of the 4 girls and to suddenly jump to another actress at that stage in the movie was a bit annoying. Because of this the later part of the movie involving Amy I had a hard time identifying with her as I did the other 3, but since the last 1/3 of the film is dominated by Jo anyway it wasn't too much of a hassle.

4 1/2 stars out of 5.

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