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Yi dai zong shi

To much boasting
Unfortunately, The Grandmasters, like the majority of movies related to Yip Man, is obsessed with hidden power and superhuman feats, none than can be found in Chinese martial arts or any other form of fight. I noticed this trend in a lot of eastern type action movie of today, incapable to break free from the so called religious, scholastic and spiritual background the fighting arts never had, but have been used to sell one style or another to people dreaming to be, well, Superman ... This one try to deflect the viewer disbelief wrapping the fights in a stylized image about Chinese cultural and scholastic traditions which allowed those involved in this world to use ''subtle'' hints capable to transmit the ''ultimate truth'' about hand-to-hand combat. Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Yip Man) and Ziyi Zhang (Gong Er) are, despite the script limitations, like two icebreakers who navigate through other prejudices, cultural and social bindings. The end result is strange, because they act in a proper manner in order to obtain what they want and this is, in my opinion anyway, quite contrary with what the movie try to transmit. They are individuals in a ocean of hypocrites or conformists, feared, not respected by their peers. The result is uneven and the constant boasting about the old Chinese society values and fighting skills end up being boring and less than interesting. It's a pity such a big budget movie didn't break with the old ways, but in the end I understand that even the filmmakers are conformists, not truly martial arts aficionados and students. Otherwise they would respect the truth.

Beauty and the Beast

Not enough heart
Beauty and the Beast try really hard to convey emotions, feelings and a touch of surreal, but something is amiss. The story band together a lot of cliché, like super soldiers, secret organization hunting people, emotionally troubled cop, female this time, people hiding in a abandoned plant, etc. It's bad, because we get no background about the DNA manipulation the main hero suffered at the hand of some unnamed doctors, a easy way to avoid a critical look at the scientific mind behind the story. The actors do a so-so work with what they have, but don't look tough enough to be a street cop or a super killing machine, just normal people training at your local pilate center. The show have a plastic look with people who supposedly work together, but have no chemistry and come for another paycheck. The lines get delivered with the right amount of smiles, facial reaction and body movement, but they are not really actors since they can't ''emotion'' themselves first to believe they are ''real'' cops, thugs, medical examiner or a super soldier. In the end, it's boring and a far cry from the original where Ron Pearlman, an actor far better than the so called stars of his generation and Linda Hamilton got spunk, vibration, life. The new BatB need life, the question is can the main cast get over their limitations and improvise, play with each other, get some pleasure from the job and some acting classes to sharpen their skills?

Serbuan Maut

Brutal and fake
The Raid is one brutal movie grace to one of the best direction I saw so far in martial arts movies. The brutality IS the only message here, because actors and stuntmans have no line worth remembering. Iko Uwais is good enough, but he is to composed in his role, like in Merantau before. I liked better Yayan Ruhian who's mad performance, both physical and emotional, make you - almost - forget he has a raving psychopath role. Enough praises, let's get to the critique! First, no SWAT team will simply swarm a 15 tall building without prior information about their target and defenses. Second, no human will ever suffer this type of punishment - see Iko and Yayan non stop fighting - and keep going through so many enemies or fights. Third, Silat look good, but is one energy consuming hog. To many fast moving hand and feet techniques in a situation you'll need to save every ounch of energy to escape. Fourth, why don't use the bad guy clothes, I mean there must be at least 100 hundred there, try to blend in. Fifth, you attack a mafia stronghold with machine guns and guns only!!? Really!

All in all, is a good ''car'' for showing Silat, more effective that Hollywood did with MMA and on par with Muay Thai movies who are somewhat realistic, mostly ... Still, if you are really interested in taking Silat classes, complement them with grappling and avoid dangerous situations. Wounds in movie are fake, your real life injuries hurt a lot!


Not really ... there
The first disappointment was the cops, played by David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby. City dwellers, not really tough enough or scary, more fluffy than capable to take on the other species who inhabit earth. The Grimm's touch is interesting, but the story fail before starting. Our hero has no training, despite his origins and have been left in darkness about his heritage because ... No idea, but the rest of the first episode is full of overused cliché. He survive all the attacks, befriend a 'big bad wolf', probably werewolf, who help him in finding another bad wolf, really bad this time, his boss try to kill him, part of a larger conspiracy who is going develop later, etc. I expected nothing because i didn't read anything before watching, but I'm afraid this show will go nowhere. Hollywood have a chronically lack of heroes or at least actors capable to portray heroes. If you are going to make an action show, pick a leading star who is, hint, believable. His aunt, bald and cripple, inspire fear. David Giuntoli is flat and incapable to transmit emotions.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Me smash ...
Spartacus must have the best after work parties - everybody is already naked, there are plenty of 'tools' lying around, not counting free food, alcohol and costumes. Also, this show mark the moment when Hollywood decided to take over the porn industry. Soon will see highly praising reviews about movie stars 'doing' each other ! Sarcasm aside, Spartacus do have a raw appeal based on two simple lines : 'me smash your skull' and 'me want your body ... harrrr'. At least, actors seem to have a good time, even those who die from atrocius wounds in the arena - they still curse, laugh or throw jokes around! In the end, Spartacus it's a neverending display of straigth-from-the-gym gladiators who fight almost naked, disregarding self preservation and try to look dangerous by the means of shouting and fake battles. I endured through the first season and I think I saw everything worth mention, Time to move on.

The King of Fighters

Not enough fight !
This is one of the worst martial art movie ever made. It's a mix of wire fu, no sense story, bad fights and soap opera lines that make you cringe. All of the 'fighters' are to thin to last one min. in a tournament and they move so blind, with clumsy techniques, even a train will pass through their so called defense. Dimensions/alternate dimensions is the holly place of bad movies, because you don't need a logical explanation, just some hocus pocus 'magic' hints. Add technology aka computers and phones to this magic world and voila! the other planes are open for fun ! To make matters worse there is no semi/full contact bouts, just the usual shaky camera and telephoned moves even a kid could see from miles away. The worse point, who made me fast forward the rest of the movie, was the introduction of the white 'fighter' aka Sean Faris. Kyo Kusanagi is Japanese, not caucasian and the funny part lurk around the corner. He is Japanese as a kid in flashbacks, but turn full American later one !? In the end it doesn't really matter for the producers, who cast Korean and Chinese in Japanese roles, because they forget the cardinal rules of MA movies. If you don't have a story, make the bouts realistic. If the fighters are bad, make the story interesting. If both the story and fighters are bad, hire a couple of good stunt men.

Ong-bak 3

Epic fall
Ong Bak 3 mark the fall of Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai. No more feats of great physical prowess, fast pacing fighting scenes and grim, but real-looking places in Thailand or abroad. True, Ong Bak 1&2, plus the other Jaa's movies, didn't had good scripts, but he overcome this weakness by pretending he translated the life of real people on the screen. Ong Bak 3 is dominated by two most awful lines in MA cinema : 'training in MA made me a good' and 'ancestors did it better, but we forgot their ways'. I won't dwell in the first one since Jaa, at least, avoid flying over the walls and trees, but you could still see people punching walls like they were paper. The second is equally bad, since Tony Jaa imitated some stone figures in the water (!?) and got the supreme Muay Thay. Like nobody practice this superior boxing style, in a country savaged by internal wars and conflicts with powerful neighbours - simply they 'forget', despite his effectiveness in combat. The third problem, maybe the most important reason for this fall, is the mystical/magical/religious angle. Ong Bak 2 contain subtle hints to esoteric practices, but nothing more. The masters in the camp taught Tien only physical/weapons skills and nothing more (strategy, planning, tactics against multiple opponents, meditation, etc) thinking he will be less dangerous this way (Good call, by the way, since he simply charged a camp full of accomplished warriors mano-a-mano). In part 3 he is healed from atrocious wounds by some kind of chain-link magic with a Buddhist statue. Then, by praying, he is able to mend his broken bones. Then he fights some dark character, him being the light and he is able to time travel to avoid the wrong ending !!??. I understand Tony Jaa got religious, but is no excuse to play this angle in a movie, similar with so many western and Hong Kong bad flicks. The last problem lie in his acting skills. He's not a beginner anymore and he seriously need lessons - how to act, speak, use his facial muscle or body to convey messages, etc.


There is a certain note to this movie - disbelief. First Angelina Jolie is way to thin, despite the fake long hair and big clothes they used to hide it, to be an special agent, train to whitstand pain and fight mans at lest 20 kg heavier than her. I don't now if this a Hollywood obsession aka be as thin possible, but she is skin and bone. Second the sleper agents theme is so old, nobody believe it anymore. It's a good way to scary the population to accept new taxes and new funds to those in need, but nothing more. Third, why bother educate infant spies, when bribing the officials is a much easier way to obtain anything? Fanatic spies are a liability, because, like any other fanatic, they see the world in white and black. Once you establish a pattern of thought, they will reject any other ideas, destroying everything else in their path? Forth, the president of the USA was made to look like a nobody from the streets. In real life he is ,at least, an expert haggler, because he had to 'buy' his way up through party politics, business tycoons, different groups with different agenda, etc. While speaking about the president, i really doubt he's security is so scant. In the end this movie is a mish mash of bad ideas and second rated spy stories, with slow action and convoluted story.


Great start, slow end
The movie deserve a 8 for fight scenes and grim atmosphere done with a mid level budget. Jon Foo is almost perfect, with a minus for his obvious non Japanese descent. As always Cary -Hiroyuki Tagawa is at his best in fighting related movies, while the girls (Kelly Overton, Candice Hillebrand, Marian Zapico) are eye-candy. Only that. Dwight H. Little did start strong in this movie. Jin Kazama run through no man's land and the first fights, plus the well placed flashes from the past kept the rhythm strong. Then he decided to introduce some, in my opinion, unnecessary sub plots. The Mishima infighting had small sense, since Heihachi Mishima was Tekken's leader and no way his son's controlling the army mean anything for disciplined soldiers. He was the LEADER. The romance with Christie Monteiro was left in the woods in the end and the fall of Mishima house remained unexplained. Moreover, why didn't he took control of Tekken to change everything, since the change the world to a better place was so much stressed in the movie? The fights were fun to watch, until we get some girl fight. First I doubt so thin women fighters will survive in a competitive, nearly deadly environment, like Iron Fist competition. Second, with dozens of fights under their belt, they were so injury and scars free you'll sincerely disbelief of being deadly. I accept assassinations is one thing, but rings are plagued with all types of injuries.

The Sanctuary

Not much to wonder
The story seemed intriguing enough and the military man in the beginning looked tough enough to carry the movie. Unfortunately, after 3 min of good combat, I find out that he is no more and the movie shift to nowadays. Bad idea ! The kids in the movie turned out to be less than thrilling and more pop stars than fighters. The bad guys, a mix of European and eastern descent, can't act because kicking is mainly their thing and not impressive there also. Russell Wong is the only one who can act, but his martial arts are wooden, a far cry from Romeo must die.The rest of the movie is just a mish mash of bad action and martial art, with the usual religious kind of experience who make the hero, suddenly, invincible.


Excellent acting
Castle is a show who grows on you... if you give him the chance. I watched 3 episodes from season 1 last year and thought - 'It's a nice enough show, but I've seen this before'. I was pretty much engrossed in other 4 great TV shows like Galactica, Babylon 5, Stargate and Firefly and I just wanted to see Nathan Fillion's latest work. I put Castle for a rain check and start watching again in the latest 3 weeks. Yes, you could guess who the villain is in some episodes, but there are others who let you cling on a thread for a clue until the end. The first and most important feature of this show is the gradually way he succeeded in building a chemistry between the actors, much like it happens in the real life. Fillion's Castle and Katic's Beckett do not seen to be connected in the beginning, perhaps the reason I stopped watching. I didn't understand the scripties wanted something more than an instant chemistry and I followed the show until the last episode, enjoying the way a relationship was build between the main actors. The second feature is how well the support cast fall in their roles. Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Tamala Jones and Ruben Santiago-Hudson do look like a team and they use every opportunity to put 'meat on the bones' of their characters.Susan Sullivan is great as Castle's mother, an actress who feel young and refuse to be cast solely based on her physical age. A nice surprise is Molly C. Quinn, considering her age, who play naturally and , I suspect, change on regular bases some of her lines from the original script while talking to Castle if you look at her mischievous grins from time to time. The third, but not the last feature, is Fillion and Katic. She play a carefully hidden, from inside out, character, a person who is slow to accept and open up to other people. Also, she is a woman in a man's world - police officers - and she need to get as much respect as possible to do right her job. He is a playboy/writer who uses his sense of humor, connections and wealth to hide himself from the world. A different mask, but still a mask and we don't now, for now, his reasons. So, underneath the police cases and usual social noise, we have two people trying to feel comfortable to each other in the beginning and later accept the fact they love one another, but are incapable to get past the innuendos to admit it openly. The show it's about timing, courage, mistakes, hope and for that undefined feeling of reality he raise in you I think is great !

Yip Man 2

A stunning lack of originality
As many on IMDb said, the script is bad. From Hong Kong '70 flicks to Rocky, everything had been packaged in one big disappointing movie, the main reason, I think, Donnie Yen declared he is out from this franchise. I never had the urge to fastforward the first one, but I did for Ip Man 2. Beside the poor scripting, there is to much wire-fu and less real time fighting. No chemistry between Ip and his wife or Ip and the masters he has to fight. The background look like a set, not a real town and the students more like bully/thugs involved in shady business. I don't see how his first student in the movie could be the next martial art action star, as Donnie declared, since he is your average actor and practitioner seen in HK. The only redeeming quality of the movie stay in two fight, performed by Sammo and Donnie against Shalavi. This is the first time Chinese filmmakers show how abruptly the kung fu had been thrust in the '20 th century and forced to adapt. The predetermined path of movement and counterattacks from Chinese martial art face to face to box, people capable to take quite a a lot of punches and 'twist'/use their instincts in no recognizable way for Chinese martial artists. This contact and Bruce Lee forced not only the spreading of kung fu over the world, but also the disappereance of those incapable to adapt, master or students, to the challenge of the other 'boxing' experiences.


First of all, everyone have access to the latest tools of science. The government and the people. After 50 years of exposure to the most advanced technological inventions and self-help, self - made books, mass media and net flow, humans are less prone to fall to this 'devotion' thing. Scepticism and a pragmatic way of seeing the world, coupled with the reality of life, will make people use the visitors as leverage to get better 'deals' from government all over the world. Also, human will try to get for free those alien technological marvels or at least discover and cover all the bases/angles. V, unfortunately, go back to an old cliché, likely to happen in a post industrial world. By using sociology and basic psychology, for example, people can extract a lot of information from the visitor's show in the first episode. No way the display of motherships over 29 cities can be consider anything else than a threat. Since they analyze our world, a satellite broadcasting will make for a better choice. The most important thing the show left out is the government response, then and over the show. We are way to much accustomed to see spineless, greedy, sleazy politicians to understand that are many rigid, hard hitters, decision makers in the shadows who will jump to the opportunity.


Boring and pretentious most of the time !
Flashforward producers like the slow motion discovery of secrets from Lost way to much. I saw it in Fringe, otherwise a very intriguing show, at least the first 16 episodes, then in here. Unfortunately, this cloak and dagger stuff is more attune with video games than reality. The FBI agents are way to sensible for their line of work - see All decision - and the flash is obvious related to a small moment in time. You don't now the context, it's like getting into the cinema half-way the movie, you'll need info to put things in place. Instead, all characters treat this like something they already understand. Then, there are to many innuendos related the so-called spiritual life and political correct decisions, a way to make everyone happy and get the show going. This is not a scientific or SF show, it's mostly - except the shooting and disaster scenes - a melange of genre to please the already bored and pretentious among us.

Jin yi wei

Great movie... after 30 min
In the beginning, mostly first 30 min, I believed 14 Blades is going to be your usual gong fu flick. Then the bricks started to fall in places as emotions, disguised and shy as usual in good Chinese movies, got out step by step. Donnie Yen let his character's fatigue and pain show more and more, avoiding the old, tired cliché of invincible master of so - many forms. He killed his way inside Jinwey, starting with his brother as young, orphaned children put to test by unforgiven 'official assassins', sponsored by the state. Along the way you meet the Judge of Desert, kind of unidimensional character, but Wei Zhao and Kate Tsui stole most of the scenes they play. Wei, remarkable in Mulan, is here a soon-to-be wife and she uses perfectly her shyness and big eyes to convey more emotions than a sword can do. Not that swords and chains don't mix, as Kate Tsui' Tuo Tuo stealthy killer can prove. The final battle is the best seen in years, especially when Green Dragon and Tuo Tuo die together and HOPE is the real message this movie want to share. Hope, despite loss, pain and solitude.


Really bad !
After 30 years of ninja being around, this movie look more like an Scot Adkinss advertiser. There are no ninjas whatsoever in the movie, just a bunch a samurai wannabe and bad at it. The daughter of the soke is lame, because no women dedicated to her martial art could be so weak. Second, their weapons and outfits look more like a cheap imitation from those seen in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and that's not good ! The characters have no power or charisma, no character development or interest - staring half-angry, half-bored to someone had been done to oblivion in bad Hong Kong movies. Moreover, the trainees from the ninja school have no concept about team work or how to subdue a superior enemy. The main heroes don't make any plans, weapons or analyze the situation to create an advantage or use police/bad guy weaknesses. They just run around in the same clothes used before, the same haircut and 'do' good because they're supposed to be ninja aka invincible. Usually, Scot Adkinss routine involve kicking and more kicking, while ninja are supposed to be experts in hiding/silence and not mortal kombat characters. Really bad !

Alien Raiders

Good idea, problems in making
Alien Raiders start out from a good idea - some bug-like aliens snatch humans body and hide inside with an unknown purpose. Yes, this have been done before, but it's still a good idea, especially the tense part where they have to find out who is and who is not alien in that grocery. Unfortunately, the people who organize the alien hunt don't look to good. First, they are quite incompetent in securing the place. Second, they check around the grocery as individuals, without someone to back them up. Third, using knives in one to one fights against infected people instead of heavy machine guns to kill is , well, ineffective. Fourth, keeping hostages without restraints is an invitation to trouble. Beside all this weak points, the movie has a good pace and pull of a lot of tension. All in all, a indie movie with a lot of heart, despite his shortcomings and proof that avoiding CGI is much better for any action movie, no matter his status.


Aliens,swords and heroes
Outlander is a movie who deserve better than the lack of interest around. Caviezel and Miles show a lot of power play and carve two strong characters from scratch, building up the momentum to the last confrontation between vikings and aliens confused with dragons. Kainan (Caviezel) is from outer space, a military officer responsible, along with others of his humanoid species, to the destruction of a race called Moorwen with fire. After terraforming, Kainan's people settle without knowing some Moorwen are still alive and loose their families to the vengeance. Eventually his ship, with a Moorwen aboard, drift into space and crash land on Earth, without any explanation why. The rest of the movie is a fast paced action, worthy to see instead of explaining, playing the Norwegian vikings an Kainan against the rampant dragon look alike alien. Ron Perlman is ,as always, a force of nature and John Hurt a perfect king - intelligent, tired and full of hope. In the end i have to mention the interesting look of the Moorwen species, a mix of legendary dragons and Alien from the movie with the same name.

Masters of Science Fiction

Failed attempt
Except maybe The Discarded, this show has little imagination. It's always difficult to imagine the world of human mind or how we are going to evolve. Simply put, they tried to hard to be in the other corner, away from the space opera like Star Wars or Star Trek. In the end they show almost no sensibility to real demographic problems, over population and human instincts. The conflict of cultures and prejudice is an old and overused theme. We see now that big powers play the same game they played 300 or 1000 years ago. Maybe this lines were good enough in the '60s, but now education brought people not close to peace, but close to understand what is going one. The only good thing is the cast, trying to do wonder with a thin script. Science Fiction in TV needs new blood, somewhere in the middle of the road between Star Wars and Stargate. Without the S in the beginning.

Dante 01

A question of choice
Story - A simple, yet subtle, mix of different elements related to faith, human evolution, DNA manipulation and first contact with an extraterrestrial species. The ending is beautiful and in the same time puzzling. Instead of serving cold an explanation about what happened, they decide to let you ask what cause all this. The aliens, faith or DNA manipulation ? The Christian symbolism is all over the place, but in a discreet way, avoiding to let one truth to overcome the others. Acting - Precise, almost clinical, presentation of madness (inmates) and pursuit for redemption, love and ambition ( doctors ). Simona Maicanescu and Wilson Lambert play without acting, like they live in the situation, always a plus for an actor. Location - A small station, orbiting a burned planet named Dante. Claustrophobic corridors, full of metallic lightness and rooms without personality. Still, every character have a dream and a secret hope, despite the oppressive world around. Conclusion Worthy movie and a welcome chance to think over an intelligent message.


Not that good
Cops are not stupid and a psychic, especially a fake one, will have a tough time explaining all that luck in finding clues and bodies. The story start great, but after a couple of episodes, the show start reveal his weakness and the intended target - bored people. Maybe they will eat up the storyline of each episodes, but none either. The main character skills look like a rip off from some Mutant X universe and the way he 'receive' messages from beyond is lame. The acting is fair in a show who doesn't put to much stress on emotions and, in the end, become quite boring. The humor is dry, but they give you some hint about main characters past, which is not redeeming, but noted.


Good start, then bump !
Sanctuary had a good premise to make it different. Unfortunately, step by step, ideas including Jack the Ripper, Merlin, immortality etc. got in and mess the show. Why choose old, reused for a hundred time stories, despite the show target - subspecies of humans ? In the same time the house look more like a prison to me, a combination of 1870 „HIGH TECH" with nowadays technology. The good doctor and his daughter use bullets and guns as main weapons against enemies who attack one by one (?), except some scenes design to show their prowess in hand to hand combat. The scenery is a obviously hint to doctor Frankestein novel, but they put a lot of work in making the environment believable. Still, there is no info about the subspecies living conditions, cause of mutations, personalities, etc. The man with two heads, the lizard or the mermaid are just background to the main cast. Make them count !

Little Mosque on the Prairie

You are not going to Paradise today !
This is a great show, despite his low budget. Witty remarks and an intelligent way to make funny to all that clichés about Muslim and Christian people. The review title is based on a show line, when the imam is seized at airport by a police officer mistaken him as a terrorist and say „ You are not going to Paradise today ! " This is a situation comedy with people going into trouble because of their media image aka Muslim equal terrorist, so every word they say is taken literally and every incident spotted as terrorist bombing. It's fun, but also scary to see how people are so far away in a world who pride herself to bring all together.


Conspiracy again ! spoilers
People in Hollywood have an obsession with conspiracy and it doesn't matter who is involved, as long they conspire. If you get beyond the thin plot and not so bad acting some questions pop up : - Where did they hide all those big sea monsters before the plot begin to unfold ? - How do you believe a dino - look alike lizard will accept a human as companion ? This is not Pixar or Disneyland, real animals have a real disdain for human who are, around 99%, incapable to adapt themselves to another way of thinking or doing things ? - The lizards zap anyone, except the kid ? Really ? - The govern and his secret service don't track a guy who clone himself and open up a huge facility, because ... Well , I don't know ! And so on. The show had started with some potential, even that spontaneous evolution at this rate is hard to believe, but still ... Eventually they fall to the stupid conspiracy thing who is easy to explain. Science is hard and the team behind the script got tired to read all that boring books about evolution, marine biology, the relation between food available and size/development, etc. A good show turned boring.


Good athletics !
For a start this movie has a story line without to many hickups and the main actors show a certain sensibility not common in a martial art flick. Basically it's about how athletic a human body can be and, if you put behind the idea of a young girl capable to fight a LOT of men, quite enjoyable. The truth goes on in the end, where they show a couple of scenes from production, making people understand this is a movie, not the real life. The acrobatic scenes on the building and the fight are the best scenes, even if ripped from Ong Bak and The Protector, but it's good to see there are many people capable to do this. Sit back and enjoy a good ride from the Thai cinema.

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