And a whole list of baddies to slaughter.
Bunraku is Kill Bill meets Afro Samurai with a dash of a western. It is a visually spectacular film, and it has some original elements and martial arts sequences. This film is an underrated and misunderstood diamond in the rough.
Mike Patton is the Narrator of this film. The Drifter is played by Josh Hartnett. Gackt plays Yoshi, the Samurai. Shun Sugata stars as Yoshi’s Uncle. Momoko, Yoshi’s cousin, is played by Emily Kaiho. The Bartender is played by Woody Harrelson. Demi Moore stars as Alexandra, courtesan and Nicola’s lover.
Now to the cast of villains…Nicola the Woodcutter, the crime boss of the East coast, is played by Ron Perlman. With his clothing and hat, he looks almost like Justice from Afro Samurai. Killer No. 2, Nicola’s lieutenant, is played by Kevin McKidd. Killer No. 3, the Mirror Drifter, is played by Shahar Sorek. Fernando Chien plays Killer No. 4, or Mirror Samurai. Killer No. 5 is played Yoshio Likuza. Killer No. 6 is played by Kofi Yiadom. Killer No. 7 is played by Aaron Toney. Razvan Gheorghiu stars as Killer No. 8. Holland Diaz stars as Killer No. 9. Lastly, Killer No. 10 is played by Florian Ciprian.
In a violent world, a Drifter, a Samurai and a Bartender team together to face a common threat, Nicola the Woodcutter, to save a city and the world from his tyranny. Through their use of their swordplay, fists and card skills, they finally overcome the odds.
Bunraku is a 400-year old form of Japanese puppet theater, and this film features essentially human puppets. The style of the film resembles a graphic novel, and the music is very eclectic to say the least. With that in mind, the story, although a bit derivative, alongside the acting of Ron Perlman, Kevin McKidd, Gackt, Josh Hartnett and Woody Harrelson carry this pulpy film very well. This movie won’t win any awards, but there are some original elements in the film. The telephone conversations where each person is facing each other behind a silk screen is very different. Although it is used on stage plays, it is rarely used in films. Additionally, a few of the fight scenes are unique. For example, the fight on the trampoline and the Mirror Samurai and Drifter fights were enjoyable to watch.
Verdict (Out of 10)
Bunraku gets a 9.3 out of 10 for me. Its originality and style marks this movie as one of the tops for me. This movie caters easily to the Kill Bill crowd, but it won’t satisfy the mainstream. All that being said, this film may reach cult status in the future.
With the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts and the unfortunate decline in boxing, more movies about mixed martial arts have come onto the scene. This is one of them. Although Warrior is touted as the Rocky of mixed martial arts, this movie does have its moments and then none.
The movie stars Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon, a former UFC fighter turned physics teacher. Tommy Conlon, his brother who served in Iraq, is played by Tom Hardy. Nick Nolte plays Paddy Conlon, his drunk father who taught them both wrestling and mixed martial arts when they were younger. Jennifer Morrison stars as Tess Conlon, Brendan’s wife. Kevin Dunn plays Principal Zito, the principal of Brendan’s school. Frank Grillo stars as Frank Campana, Brendan’s trainer. Kurt Angle plays Koba, the undefeated Russian mixed martial arts fighter.
The youngest son, Tommy Conlon, returns home to Philadelphia to train with his father in the much-touted Sparta mixed martial arts tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In the meantime, his older brother, Brendan Conlon, prepares for the same after confronting the bank who would take his house away after missing mortgage payments. After they both go their separate ways to train, the two brothers ultimately confront each other. They deal with lots of familial baggage inside and outside of the tournament. Both brothers have something to lose and a lot to gain from winning the Sparta tournament. Meanwhile, Koba poses a major threat to both as they climb the ranks of the tournament ladder.
As most sites compared this movie to Rocky, this movie didn’t quite grab me like Rocky did. This movie’s titular characters, Brendan and Tommy Conlon, lacked charisma in my frank opinion. True, both had something to lose, but it didn’t come to fruition as well as expected. The disparity between the brothers and their father lacked that emotional touch. The Fighter had a better portrayal of familial bonding than this movie. Although the ending was like Rocky, as Brendan, the no-name underdog of the Sparta tournament, defeated trained fighters, I felt like I was cheering for fluff.
Verdict (Out of 10)
Overall, this movie was slightly above-average. For me, this movie deserves a 7.5 out of 10.
Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen is one solid martial arts movie, part Batman, part Green Hornet, part martial arts movie and part historical movie (in the broadest sense) as well. This movie is the successor to the television series Fist of Fury, with Donnie Yen reprising the role played by Bruce Lee in the 1972 martial arts film Fist of Fury.
Donnie Yen is the main protagonist, Chen Zhen. Qi Shu stars as Kiki, Zhen’s girlfriend. Anthony Wong plays Liu Yutian, the owner of the Casablanca night club in Shanghai. Huang Bo stars as Huang Haolong, the police inspector. Shawn Yue stars as General Zheng, the northern warlord who Chen Zhen saves from assassins long ago. Huo Siyan stars as Weiwei, Zheng’s girlfriend. Ma Yue plays General Zhuo, Zheng’s rival, and Ma Su plays his wife. The main antagonist of the film is Japanese Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi. His father was killed by Chen Zhen years ago.
Seven years after the apparent death of Chen Zhen, before the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chen joins a group of Chinese men to fight the Germans during the first World War. After the battle, Chen returns to Shanghai, China to find it occupied by the Japanese. Taking on a disguise, he battles the mafia, only to find them aligned with the Japanese. The Japanese are led by Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi who doesn’t take kindly to the Chinese resistance, and he ultimately retaliates harshly. As the Japanese push the Chinese to the brink, Chen Zhen finally steps in to confront the Colonel in a final showdown.
Again, we find Donnie Yen in a familiar plot, fighting against the Japanese in China. He fought Miura in Ip Man, and now he’s fighting Chikaraishi Takeshi, another practitioner of the Japanese martial arts. But this time, Donnie Yen dons a costume and finally Bruce Lee’s uniform at the end.
Majority of the action sequences were quite good. The fight in the printing press room was great although quite fast. Donnie Yen showed elements of Wing Chun as he fought each that opposed him with the ability to adapt to the environment much like Jackie Chan.
The last fight scene was supposed to be the greatest, but it lacked the impact of Ip Man‘s final fight with Miura. The scene was too lengthy and tried to add too much. In other words, the scene was a bit over-saturated perhaps. Donnie Yen’s imitation of Bruce Lee in that scene was fantastic though, as he imitated Bruce Lee’s poses almost perfectly.
Verdict (Out of 10)
I won’t be quite as harsh as some of the other critics out there, as I quite enjoyed the film myself. It wasn’t traditional Donnie Yen territory as it leaned toward material of Jet Li. The martial arts scenes were entertaining although sometimes a bit much. Overall, it was an 8 out of 10 for me although this movie was not without its flaws.
With superhero action movies on the rise, like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, this movie is not one of them. It is based on the popular video game series Tekken, a strategic fast-paced fighting game. The video game series is popular both in the United States and Japan. This movie is better than the original Mortal Kombat movie, but both still have some degree of campiness to it. This movie much less so, and it does play favors for those who played Tekken before. This movie is not Academy Award-winning material, but it is surprisingly worth a watch.
Jon Foo stars as the main protagonist, Jin Kazama. Tamlyn Tomita plays as Jun Kazama, Jin’s mother. Mircea Monroe stars as Kara, Jin’s love interest in the slums, known as the Anvil.
Upon entering the formal Tekken tournament proper, Jin meets his allies and rivals. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa stars as Heihachi Mishima, the head of the Tekken Corporation. Ian Anthony Dale stars as Kazuya Mishima, Heihachi’s son and one of the heirs to the Tekken Corporation. Luke Goss plays Steve Fox, one of Jin’s allies in the tournament. Kelly Overton plays Christie Montiero, Jin’s love interest in the Tekken tournament.
Cung Le stars as Marshall Law, Jin’s first rival. Darren Dewitt Henson plays Raven. Candice Hillebrand stars as Nina Williams, and Marian Zapico stars as Anna Williams, her sister. Gary Daniels plays Brian Fury, the half-cyborg kickboxer. Anton Kasabov stars as Sergei Dragunov, the former Spetsnaz officer. Lateef Crowder plays Eddy Gordo, the Copeira fighter. Roger Huerta stars as Miguel Rojo. Lastly, Gary Ray Stearns plays Yoshimitsu, the samurai swordsman.
The time is 2039, and after world wars have destroyed much of the world, corporations have taken over the run-down territories of which Tekken Corporation became the most dominant and cruelest. Jin Kazama witnesses the death of her mother by the Tekken Corporation, and after rummaging through her things, he finds out that she herself participated in the tournament. Seeking revenge for her untimely death, Jin defeats Marshall Law and finds a way inside the tournament. After defeating several of his rivals in the tournament, he seeks Heihachi Mishima’s head, but things don’t quite go as Jin thought it would. The tournament itself begins to unravel…
Unlike some other people, I didn’t think this movie was altogether horrible. True, it had campiness to it, much like Mortal Kombat. Compared to Mortal Kombat, this movie was slightly better as it paid tribute to the players of Tekken video game series. Most of the characters performed the signature moves of their respective video game counterparts. However, most of the martial arts sequences turned into mixed martial art fights instead. The martial arts sequences were remarkably entertaining generally.
Where it turned sour perhaps was that the movie does not follow the Tekken series storylines and all the characters spoke proper English, sometimes with a British accent. Kazuya Mishima was a bit disconcerting as he didn’t have the graveling voice in the video game series. In light of this, there was ample eye-candy in the movie, particularly Christie Monteiro. This movie was obviously catered to gamerboys rather than gamergirls who played Tekken, as some of the sequences featured revealing women dancing or otherwise.
Verdict (Out of 10)
Despite its flaws, it was a solid action movie. It is certainly better than some of the other video game-related movies to date in my frank opinion. I would rank this movie a 6 out of 10. This movie is no artistic masterpiece, but it is worth a $1 Redbox rental.