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Haywire

The spy who loved me ... and kicked my ass.


Action

Rod Lott
Can Steven Soderbergh do a martial arts-fueled action thriller? That was rhetorical in a bear-crap way; the guy can do anything. Best known for Traffic and the Ocean's Eleven franchise, he's a director par excellence, even when the story goes to snuff in his experimental larks, like casting porn star Sasha Grey as the lead in 2009’s no-budget drama The Girlfriend Experience.
 
Friday, May 4, 2012

Let the Bullets Fly

‘Let’ it be.


Action

Rod Lott
Set in South China 1919, the China/Hong Kong blockbuster Let the Bullets Fly slaps the viewer to attention with a bravura beginning: an action set piece in which masked robbers on horseback use the most ancient of technologies (the ax) to stop a train by flipping it over. With that opening, comparisons to South Korea’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird are inevitable, right down to the needless bloating running time.

 
Friday, April 27, 2012

The Cats / Hate for Hate

You’re in for two Euro treats.


Action

Rod Lott
Italians do it better.

 
Monday, April 9, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Kill ... Except

War is hell ... to sit through.


Action

Rod Lott
Back when Thou Shalt Not Kill ... Except played theaters briefly in 1987 (I distinctly remember the Oklahoma City newspaper ad, depicting a skull with a bandana and halo), audiences didn't care. Today, they would, because some its creative talents — namely, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel — collaborated on Evil Dead II, which has grown into a beloved cult smash.
 
Friday, April 6, 2012

Mandrill

In Chile, the action is hot. Who knew?


Action

Rod Lott

So impressed was I with Ernesto Díaz Espinoza's Mandrill that I immediately ordered the writer/director's two previous efforts, Mirageman and Kiltro, sight unseen. All three star Marko Zaror, who, based upon this film alone, should've been cast in the upcoming Expendables sequel, period. The guy deserves to be an international action hero. He's got the chops, both in the literal and figurative senses.

 
Monday, March 26, 2012

The Split / The Slams

Jim Brown breaks ground in these two cinematic ball-breakers.


Action

Rod Lott
He’s not all that visible today, but in the 1960s, Jim Brown enjoyed a record-breaking career in the NFL, followed by a trailblazing one in Hollywood. He doesn’t get enough credit for it, but he arguably was the movies’ first African-American action star.
 
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch

Does Winch have much of a pull?


Action

Rod Lott
Jumping back and forth between Brazil and Hong Kong, The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch serves as an origin story of its title hero (German-born Tomer Sisley, The Nativity Story), secret adopted heir to self-made gazillionaire Neiro Winch (Miki Manojlovic, Europe's equivalent to our Philip Baker Hall) and the world's fifth-largest fortune.
 
Monday, March 19, 2012

Battle Royale: The Complete Collection

A controversial cult classic gets the Royale treatment.


Action

Rod Lott
It's hard to believe a film as influential and flat-out copied as the Japanese sensation known as Battle Royale never has seen an American release (legally, at least) until now. So much care has been put into assembling the set by Anchor Bay Entertainment that the wait seems excusable.
 
Monday, March 12, 2012

The Three Musketeers

All for one, and all that jazz.


Action

Rod Lott
All these centuries, who knew Alexandre Dumas' most famous novel needed ninjas? At least I think that's what you could call the hooded warrior who emerges from the water with weapon at the ready at the opening of The Three Musketeers, Hollywood's latest in a long line of adaptations of the 1884 classic, this ship steered with a steampunk touch by Paul W.S. Anderson, whose adventure credits include Death Race, Alien vs. Predator and Mortal Kombat.
 
Monday, March 12, 2012

Immortals

The Clash with panache.


Action

Rod Lott
While nowhere near infallible as the title may suggest, Immortals is superior to the other recent big-budget epic to take a comic-book look at mythology, the Clash of the Titans remake. Immortals also is more coherent — not completely coherent, but enough to keep me from dozing off.
 
Monday, March 5, 2012

Justice League: Doom

How many superheroes does it take to ...


Action

Rod Lott
After busting a playing card-costumed criminal ring of safecrackers, members of the Justice League of America face their greatest foe yet: “Doom.”
 
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

War of the Arrows

This South Korean epic is on-target.


Action

Rod Lott
Just in the past 15 years, I’ve seen literally hundreds of martial-arts movies, a genre that — especially in its 1970s heyday — thrived on abiding to a mindless, predictable template. As a result, many are indistinguishable from one another.
 
Monday, February 20, 2012

Yakuza Weapon

In terms of value for your time, this ‘Weapon’ may prove lethal.


Action

Rod Lott
Opening the disc for "Yakuza Weapon" is the trailer for Donnie Yen's "Flash Point," which looks incredible. In. Cred. Ible. Sadly, it’s nearly the high point of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, after the feature’s Colorforms-esque closing credits.
 
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

King of Triads

Royally average.


Action

Rod Lott
"Queen of Triads" is a more accurate title for "King of Triads," but to quibble about such things over a thoroughly mediocre Hong Kong actioner is a waste of time and energy.
 
Monday, February 13, 2012

Nude Nuns with Big Guns

Not such a hard habit to break.


Action

Rod Lott
Opening with "Grindhouse" soundalike music, "Nude Nuns with Big Guns" very much wants to be a down-and-dirty Robert Rodriguez take on the women-in-prison picture, but with a religious twist.
 
Monday, February 6, 2012
 
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