jhpstrydom

IMDb member since August 2007
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Reviews

Movie in Action
(1987)

A fun little action gem that manages to entertain and putting your brain on autopilot makes it even better.
While shooting an action film in Thailand a film crew gets attacked by real soldiers who kidnap their leading lady. The director Frank who has a background in military tactics, gathers members of the crew to set out on a daring rescue mission.

I bought this movie from a distributor in South Africa called Impact Video who released the film under the title, BLASTFIGHTER FROM HELL. Aside from believing the title change might help it sell better, I have no idea why they did that. Of course, I also expected a completely different movie as the summary on the back of the cover didn't match what I saw in the final film.

Nonetheless, this was a fun little action gem that managed to entertain. The concept on paper sounds totally absurd but it actually works. Mainly because it features a bunch of very fun characters. The film stretches plausibility to an extent, although in this case it never really bothered me. In fact, putting your brain on autopilot makes it even better.

The only thing that hindered the entertainment value was a single scene that never really added anything to the overall plot and created a bit of a pacing problem. If removed the film would've been better for it.

For those looking to be entertained this film comes highly recommended. Serious film fans might also find something to like about it so I would encourage everyone to seek it out, as the fun factor is really high regarding characters and action set pieces.

Double Target
(1987)

Not well conceived but still entertaining.
Double Target is an Italian war action film directed by Bruno Mattei. It stars Miles O'Keefe, Bo Svenson, Donald Pleasence, Kristine Erlandson, Luciano Pigozzi and Massimo Vanni. It tells the story of Bob Ross, an ex-military specialist in Vietnam who is trying to gain custody of his son from the Vietnamese government after learning his wife died in a concentration camp. Unknown to him, there are others watching who believe he's a spy for the American government. Ross makes a deal with the state department to gather information on their behalf. If Ross is successful in his mission, he'll be able to claim his son and take him back to the United States.

Shot mainly on location in the Philippines, Double Target isn't a very well-conceived war film but an entertaining one nonetheless. As with many films directed by Bruno Mattei, there are plenty of big explosions and gun play to keep things going. The plot and dialog are rather half heartedly conceived. The performances range from average to somewhat okay. What stands out the most is Bo Svenson's Russian accent often switching between a Russian and American one, making difficult to tell whether or not he is one or the other.

The characters aren't really given much of a backstory, the only thing made clear about them is their purpose in the overall plot. Otherwise you don't really get to know much about them. Although the character of Toro is mildly likable. Overall, it's not well thought out but still entertaining.

Skin Traffik
(2015)

A low budget action movie with a lot of heart and a very clear intention.
Not many people will agree with me but SKIN TRAFFIK (a.k.a A Hit-man IN London) is from one perspective a film with a lot of heart. Given that Ara Paiaya is not only the producer and director but also the editor, Cinematographer and Fight Choreographer. Also what it sets out to be is a film that delivers action at a break neck pace and it delivers in spades.

The cast consist a bunch of familiar faces. Such as leading man Gary Daniels who despite being fifty isn't showing signs of slowing down. as well as Mickey Rourke, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Eric Roberts, Alan Ford, Dominique Swain and Jeff Fahey. All of which giving fine performances and adding their own special flavor.

In terms of plot progression the film picks up quickly and maintains its quick pace throughout. The action comes in large doses and remains thoroughly entertaining. The story line isn't the greatest but with this type of film that's pretty much a genre trademark.

Debug
(2014)

A better than expected effort considering the rating of 4.4
I've seen quite a few movies with ratings as low as 4.0 that turned out to be decent enough to recommend. DEBUG falls into the same category but is tougher to recommend because movies set in space don't seem so popular overall. But this film I would recommend because unlike the others or at least the recent slew of space flicks. DEBUG as a story line good enough to hold your attention and the main characters are interesting enough for you to really want to know more about them.

Visually, the film looks good but the fact that it was shot on a low budget is not painfully obvious but noticeable. It doesn't have a lot of atmosphere but the score helps in creating a fair amount of tension.

Overall, DEBUG was better than expected and deserves a bit of a higher rating. The story line progresses nicely. The acting is competent although the effects are not outstanding but doesn't really hinder the film.

Pernicious
(2014)

A solid concept hindered by terrible execution.
Knowing nothing about PERNICIOUS I went in, kept my expectations low and maintained an open mind. The opening scene managed to draw my interest however it quickly dwindled because of an intro that was way too long. And that's the problem with this film. Many pointless scenes involving long conversations which are repetitive and do nothing to push the main plot forward. Very much like the torture scene that takes place early on. A scene that could've been kept short and to the point is stretch out and just plain boring and repetitive.

The three leads being teachers who go to Thailand to do volunteer work could've been an interesting trio but are rendered as the usual horror movie stereotypes. It's also a wonder that these three ladies are teachers since one of them struggles to describe what a life size golden statue of a little girl looks like.

On the plus side the film features good cinematography and a mildly creepy atmosphere. As well as a definite sense of foreboding in the final act. Unfortunately the film contains too many scenes stretched out unnecessarily that do little to push the main plot forward.

Carnival of Souls
(1998)

A very highly misunderstood film.
Of course I know it doesn't come close to the original film. I saw it years ago and didn't think much of it. Then a few years later I bought it on DVD as part of a set along with LEPRECHAUN and two of David Cronenberg's movies RABID and SHIVERS. When I revisited CARNIVAL OF SOULS the plot made a little more sense. But when I read the reviews on it's IMDb web page I noticed that this film was somewhat misunderstood.

1. Like in the beginning of the film where Alex (Bobbie Phillips) drives her car into the ocean with Louis (Larry Miller) the man responsible for her mother's murder in the backseat. Right after this scene the film cuts to Alex waking up in her bathtub. Many seemed to have assumed she dreamed about the crash but that is not the case. When the film cuts to this scene it actually goes back a few days meaning Alex didn't dream about the crash it happened a few days later.

2. There is another scene where Alex goes to see a psychiatrist and she talks to him like they've had several sessions together. But the psychiatrist reveals that he has never met Alex before. This is representative of the reality setting in of what really happened after that crash that took place which would lead us to the final revelation or the big twist ending. Of course at one point Alex is shown climbing out of the ocean and on to the pier she drove off where she sees the abandoned carnival grounds. In fact this is really Alex's soul climbing out of the water and on to the pier. The whole part between the crash and the twist at the end is really what we think is reality that slowly turns into what is actual reality.

This is how I understand or interpreted it. CARNIVAL OF SOULS is really a thinking man's horror movie. You have to pay close attention to certain parts of the dialog to grasp what certain phrases actually refer to. Many plot elements are not presented in a very straightforward manner so it requires a long attention to figure out the plot.

Overall, it's not the worst film I've endured. I also agree that the original is way better. But since this film strayed from the original I didn't really try to make comparisons.

There is also an unofficial German remake entitled YELLA which is also better. and had it been an official remake it would be considered the more faithful of the two.

Southland Tales
(2006)

Dwayne Johnson's worst film by far.
Never let it be said that Dwayne Johnson never appeared in a crap movie, when in fact he did. SOUTHLAND TALES has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen him in and not just him. There's a whole list of familiar faces with likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Jon Lovitz and many more.

You would think you'd have the makings of a fun film but instead it's a complete mess of a movie, and the actors are either underused or cast in lousy parts. I mean if the extent of an excellent actor's role in the film is to drive a van and smoke a cigarette as is really the case with Christopher Lambert, then your film really does suck.

Although Dwayne Johnson's output of films has ranged from excellent to decent to okay, this one is a turkey not worth recommending.

Brick Mansions
(2014)

A decent and highly entertaining action flick on it's own.
If not compared to the original french movie DISTRICT 13, BRICK MANSIONS is a decent and highly entertaining action flick on it's own. If compared to DISTRICT B13 it's not as good but not as bad as people have been saying.

This version's biggest problem mainly resides in it's casting. Paul Walker as Damien is actually okay, his only drawback is he doesn't exactly pull off the kind of moves Cyril Raffaelli does in his fight scenes. Which is something I don't consider one of the films major issues. In the case of the lead bad guy I'm pretty sure they could've found someone better than RZA to play the role. The problem with RZA is that he always looks like he's sleepwalks through every role I saw him play from the one in THE MAN WITH THE IRON FIST to G.I JOE RETALIATION, and he sometimes sounds like he doesn't speak properly as if he always has a cold.

All in all, aside from the flaws BRICK MANSIONS is a decent action flick if not compared to the original french film. Although in all honesty I do prefer DISTRICT B13 as well as it's sequel.

Firepower
(1993)

A kind of MAD MAX meets BLOODSPORT featuring a great villain played by the late James Hellwig.
After hearing about James Hellwig's (a.k.a THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR) untimely death, I kept thinking about it not believing he was actually gone. But while going through my DVD collection I spotted this film and suddenly it hits me. James Hellwig played the villain in this movie and he was awesome. I remember when I first saw this film in the early nineties, the scene where Hellwig steps into the death ring to face Gary Daniels, I was so afraid for Daniels's character that I just kept saying, "please let him get out of there alive." That's how scary Hellwig's portrayal of The Swordsman was to me.

The film itself is actually very entertaining and a bit fun. I kind of thought of it as a MAD MAX meets BLOODSPORT type of film. The two lead characters played by Chad McQueen (the son of Steve McQueen) and Gary Daniels are quite likable and do grow on you after a short while. The film's only less impressive sequences are the two car chase scenes, but the majority of the film mainly consist of a reasonable number of fight sequences all well choreographed and directed.

As far as recommending it goes, I'm not entirely sure what audiences today might think about it, although if someone is curious enough to see it then I would strongly recommend it. As well if the person happens to be an early nineties "B" movie enthusiast.

The Expendables 3
(2014)

Superior action film, hurt by many flaws.
The action star studded dream team are back for another outing. Yes, I had a blast watching this film, I thought it was extremely fun and Antonio Banderas was hilarious, but there are things that could have been done better and certain flaws that could've been avoided.

1. Like the choppy editing, I understand Stallone wanted the film to have a PG-13 rating in order to draw a broader audience, but that only resulted in the film looking amateurish at times and like it was rapidly jumping from scene to scene for no real reason. Plus, having made this film PG-13 doesn't make sense, it being a third installment it would've made more sense if Stallone wanted to draw a bigger audience to make the other two PG-13 as well.

2. Stallone could've picked a way better set of actors in the roles of the kids, neither of the four made any kind of impression. They brought nothing to their characters. The film would've succeeded in getting it's audience if Stallone rewrote the characters and had picked actors who were already familiar with action roles, like Scarlet Johanssen, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, etc.

Overall, the film as is is still loads of fun, despite the kids not making a notable impression and Jet Li not having a fight scene. Fans of the previous two can certainly check it out.

The Girl from the Naked Eye
(2012)

Interesting little indie film noir.
THE GIRL FROM THE NAKED EYE is an interesting little indie film noir yet when it got started I almost turned it off. Mainly because at first glance it looked like the kind of low budget movie I usually have a bad experience with but I did give it a chance. Luckily the film managed to redeem itself by featuring some good acting all around and a plot that was interesting enough to hold my attention.

It also had some fight sequences that I didn't expect yet they didn't feature anything spectacular but they were engaging and well done.

The acting is above par for this type of film but the actress who steals the show is Samantha Streets in one scene where she recites a poem. Leading man Jason Yee also does very well although sometimes he slightly appears as if he's trying a little too hard.

Overall, when the film finished I was glad I didn't turn it off as I almost did. It turned out to be a good film in the end and I would recommend it. Although I do believe it might be for an acquired taste as it does have a somewhat unusual style.

Non ho sonno
(2001)

Solid thriller gaillo from Dario Argento.
I'm still sort of new to Argento's films but I found this film of his to be one very solid effort. The first half has this very unusual tone and atmosphere that makes you feel both uncomfortable and creeped out at the same time. The death scenes in my opinion are more tense here than in some of his older films.

The acting is very good although the occasional dubbed voice causes some actors to look like their facial expressions almost don't match their voices.

One outstanding feature is the cinematography. The camera constantly moves around and many of the settings are lit up just right enough to create it's atmosphere.

Overall, it's a very well made and solid gaillo from Argento and is well worth the effort even for fans of the genre and not necessarily Argento.

The Shrine
(2010)

The kind of horror movie that could catch you off guard.
THE SHRINE is one of three films I put in a category along with THE PACT and THE CONJURING of horror films that could catch you off guard. The reason why I say so is because everyone is used to the everyday bad horror movies Hollywood pushes out. While THE SHRINE which is a lesser known little gem is one of the more very effective horror movies in recent years along with the two aforementioned.

The acting is exceptionally better than average, the characters do share a few stereotypical traits but sometimes they manage to actually react with a degree of common sense.

The plot itself is an interesting one, most of which is told in subtext shown by the fact that there are no subtitles when the polish characters all speak polish as if treating the none polish speaking viewer as an outsider like the main characters who are from the states.

Overall, THE SHRINE along with THE PACT and THE CONJURING are three of the better horror films I've seen recently and THE SHRINE being the lesser known title among them certainly holds it's ground very well.

K-20: Kaijin nijû mensô den
(2008)

A fun and enjoyable superhero movie from Japan.
I bought K-20 without knowing it was a Japanese movie but it didn't keep me from watching it since I already own a few Japanese movies. However this film turned out to be very fun and enjoyable with well done special effects, awesome stunt work and a plot that manages to hold your interest from start to finish.

Although the film does feel a tad long sometimes it's still a fun watch. The characters are all likable and do eventually grow on you thus encouraging you to watch on.

Overall, it's a fun and enjoyable superhero movie from Japan highly recommended if your are a fan of Japanese films.

.45
(2006)

Really not as good as people have been saying.
While .45 features some passable performances from its cast and an okay storyline it's far from being masterfully made. The main problem for me mostly is the dialog that gives you the impression that Gary Lennon was trying to craft a Martin Scorcese style film featuring a lot of uses of the "F" word and a lot of vulgar language which easily offends the everyday sensitive viewer. But for myself who looked at the film without finding anything about it offensive the real problem with the dialog is it's both extremely repetitive and boring. A common problem with just about every film with a dialog that could very well be an encyclopedia of swearing.

The second problem are the characters, I never really grew to care about any of them as sometimes through the course of the film they just seemed stupid. Like the main character Kat, played by Milla Jovovich who stands out the most, she's smart enough to plot revenge but not smart enough to avoid a guy like Big-Al (Angus Macfadyen) who pounds her to a pulp altogether.

Final Verdict, This film is really not as good as people have been saying despite the cast giving passable performances, the main problems are the repetitive and boring dialog and the uninteresting characters.

The Conjuring
(2013)

A rare horror movie that earns its R-rated stripes on scares alone.
In a time where horror movies are truly not so good anymore comes THE CONJURING. The first horror film in years that I could call a classic. It's also maybe a rare find, by that I mean it has to be the only R-rated movie that has the lowest body count as well as no sex, no gore and no swearing. It also thankfully doesn't fall into the annoying teen horror category. It features a group of characters you do start to care and feel for.

Final Verdict, I have to give credit to James Wan and everyone involved,They've created a movie with a very dark and edgy atmosphere and for a horror film to be able to earn its R-rated stripes on scares alone is certainly a show of great film making talent. If you are looking for a true horror gem in a sea of many turds, THE CONJURING is without a doubt a film I can highly recommend.

The Victim
(2011)

Interesting little grindhouse thriller which would appeal more to people with an acquired taste.
The decision to watch THE VICTIM was really tough at first having read all the negative reviews about it. Eventually I did see it and yet it isn't that bad. Sure it won't redefine it's genre but the film was entertaining, it had a decent plot and the acting was fair all around. The film is really for people with an acquired taste.

Honestly, the only way I could recommend this film is to see it and decide if you like it or not for yourself. I also recommend you not take it very seriously.

Overall, THE VICTIM isn't really that bad, granted it's not perfect but it will mostly appeal to people with an acquired taste. Also, if you don't take it very seriously it is rather entertaining.

I Spit on Your Grave 2
(2013)

Gorier, nastier but not better nor an equal to the 2010 remake.
I was surprised to see the 2010 remake to Meir Zarchi's infamous 1978 film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE had a sequel. It was actually the last film I expected they'd make a sequel for yet here it is. At first I thought it might've been some cheap cash in on the first one but I found out Steven Monroe was back at the helm and that I reckoned could be a good sign.

I did get to see it eventually and it turned out to be a very good sequel but it's not on the same level as the first one. Mainly because the plot of the first one had a degree of believability where this one even though it was more extreme it was a little less believable as it stretches that line a little thin.

The acting however was one of the more outstanding features of this film. Newcomer Jemma Dalender gives a very strong performance as the lead character. I didn't compare her performance with Sarah Butler's from the first film as I am now a fan of both ladies and both really gave great performances in their respective roles.

Lastly, I haven't seen the original, that's why I didn't make comparisons, although from what I heard about it I can tell it's not a film for everyone and neither are the latter two so if you feel you can handle either one then I recommend you see them.

The Lone Ranger
(2013)

Highly entertaining western adventure with a great performance by Johnny Depp.
I'm a huge PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN fan so finding out the same team had made a different film along with Johnny Depp I knew not even the critics would stop me from seeing it. To be honest after seeing it I was surprised to see how the critics really hammered on it. I'm not speaking as a die hard LONE RANGER fan but this film didn't deserve all that negativity. It was very entertaining and funny and the acting was great although Johnny Depp gave the best performance as Tonto Probably because no beats Johnny Depp at being weird.

My only complaint about this film is the pacing. During the first act the pace is slow and progressive but in the middle it almost feels like the film is about to stand still like it's starting to drag before it picks up again close to the final act. Otherwise it didn't hurt the film too much.

Overall, THE LONE RANGER is highly entertaining despite being a little slow halfway through and features great acting from all the cast members although Johnny Depp gives the better performance.

The Lazarus Papers
(2010)

A very odd film but not bad.
Luckily I found out in advance that this film was nothing like what the cover art suggested it would be and even though it also goes under the title THE MERCENARY the plot doesn't really revolve around any kind of mercenary. It's really a very odd film but I didn't think it was bad at all. The plot was intriguing enough to draw my attention and it was very different to other films Gary Daniels had appeared in before.

I thought about giving a synopsis which I don't normally do so that people would have a better idea of what to expect but I discovered the plot actually sounds more confusing than it really is. If you watch the film itself the plot makes more sense because there is more than one character story and sometimes it goes from being a supernatural drama to a love story to an action movie and during the third act it's all three at once.

On the technical side it's really well made, the cinematography is very nicely done and the acting isn't all that bad. The characters do start to grow on you after a while and granted the film isn't perfect by any means.

Overall, it's a very odd film but not bad but I recommend you ignore the cover art as it doesn't really represent what the film really is about. You can expect to see an intriguing plot that is more of a supernatural story with a bit of romance and a few mild action scenes.

Pacific Rim
(2013)

A film slightly better than what I expected
Before watching PACIFIC RIM I noticed it had a lot of critics really hammered down on it and truth be told it really wasn't that bad. Then again I stopped listening to critics a long time ago. Although many would agree it could be somewhat overblown with special effects but it did have a decent plot. The acting wasn't the best but also not the worst. All the effects were very nicely done and the fight sequences were very engaging partly because the film established what was at stake before them.

All in all, PACIFIC RIM isn't as bad as critics say it is in fact I think they might have been too harsh. The best way to see PACIFIC RIM is probably without expecting to much and to judge for yourself if you like it or not. For me it was good and better than expected and I would recommend it as a better alternative to a lot of other films out there.

Assumed Killer
(2013)

A surprisingly good TV movie.
While surfing every channel there is each showing nothing interesting to watch I end up on the channel that was just about to start airing ASSUMED KILLER. I decided to quickly see what the plot was all about and saw that Casper Van Dien and Armand Assante was in it so I reckoned it might be worth a look. I was really very surprised by this film considering this is a made for TV movie it actually had a plot that drew my attention. It's the kind of plot that is not too complicated but it still requires your full attention, by that I mean if you're the type of person who likes to watch movies while texting you might want to put the phone down when watching this film and even though the overall concept isn't one of the most unique the good thing about it is it isn't entirely predictable.

The acting was excellent all around with the stand out performances given by Casper Van Dien, Barbie Castro and Armand Assante who were very well cast and they each play their parts very good from start to finish.

Lastly, there was one thing that almost made forget that this was a made for TV movie. Many other TV movies have a really cheap feel to them especially those in the same genre and the acting in many of these films range from not so good to not good at all and of course sometimes the dialog featured some very cheesy lines. Where with ASSUMED KILLER none of these factors are present. The production value is way above average and it doesn't look or feel cheap at all. The acting is excellent and the dialog is well thought out with no cheesy lines noticeable.

All in all, ASSUMED KILLER was a surprisingly good TV movie and happened to be a very nice find on a dark night with nothing else to watch.

Salvation Boulevard
(2011)

I found it funny for a completely different reason.
While watching this film I couldn't help but laugh but not that I found it to be that funny but because I have actually met over the top religious nut cases in real life. They were my schoolteachers and this movie really took me back to those days where instead of learning math I was learning stuff like if you play an electrical guitar you'll go straight to hell or when you sneeze it's really the man upstairs busy shortening your lifespan by taking away pieces of your breath. Believe it or not that was what my high schoolteachers told their students and it didn't end there.

I found SALVATION BOULEVARD funny because the characters in some ways closely resembled my teachers and if I was to show them this film they would undoubtedly freak out and say it makes a mockery out of them. If however you fall into the class of normal people and get easily offended I wouldn't recommend it. Actually I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it at all. It's really a stupid movie if you consider the plot. Some might find it funny others might find it just plain stupid.

The only thing really noteworthy about it is the acting, each of the cast members play their parts very well. The film itself never really gets boring but does get slightly annoying in certain places.

Final Verdict, it's really not worth going out of your way to see, but if you are curious enough to see it then by all means. I found it funny for completely different reasons so I can't say other people will find it funny but seeing the actors in this film give their over the top performances is worth it if you've come across people like those portrayed in this movie in real life.

Smile
(2009)

A film so bad it made me wonder what Armand Assante did to deserve this.
This is probably one of the few times I'd say a film is the worst I've seen but simply put it is. From the direction to the script to the acting to just about everything is absolutely terrible.

1. To start the script has a severe lack of logic, in one scene when the group finds a dead body the one character suggests they go to the police. Then another character says they shouldn't because he believes the police will think they're involved in this person's death. Now that's a lot like saying if you go and report a crime to the police you'll get arrested for reporting a crime or as if they're actually going to the police to say "Hey dudes, we killed someone and we'd like you to come check out our awesome crime scene." As if the police would say. "Cool man, if we like it we'll arrest you." Also in the third act the very same character after being rattled by one of his friend's death develops a knack for asking the most annoyingly dumb questions one after the other almost without taking a breath and his behavior in that particular situation makes no sense what so ever.

2. To elaborate on the direction the film is shot in Morocco and judging from the establishing shots there's some nice scenery but during the dialog scenes most of the time the only thing we see are close up shots of faces and no scenery. While these close up shots are usually suppose to be about emotions the actors display virtually none. In fact the acting is so wooden you can use it to make a rocking chair.

Overall, this film truly is the worst film I've seen in a while. Armand Assante is one of my favorite actors hence the reason I sought this film out. He probably just did this film for the paycheck even though he only plays a small part in this film despite getting top billing. I recommend to not even give this film a second thought, it's a waste of time either way.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
(2013)

Plenty of great visuals and action but not much story.
This second G.I JOE film doesn't have much in terms of a well thought out plot but it does have some great visuals and is packed with loads of well staged action sequences so action movie buffs should have a blast. For those also seeking more of a character story it's still best to look somewhere else.

The acting is however surprisingly good given the film's plot. Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum both bring a certain likability to their characters and I enjoyed watching them the most and of course Adrianne Palicki who was very friendly on the eyes.

Overall, The film might not have much of a plot but the great visuals and the well made action sequences keep it from becoming a total bore. Those who want more of a character driven plot might not think very much of it.

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