Category Archives: Action & Adventure

Guns Akimbo (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Guns Akimbo Review

Director: Jason Lei Howden
Writer: Jason Lei Howden
Stars: Samara Weaving, Daniel Radcliffe, Natasha Liu Bordizzo

“Guns Akimbo” is simply too absurd for words. It’s absolute nonsense and you shouldn’t take it too seriously. It’s simply “over the top” pulp and looks as if it’s based on some Asian comic strip. But believe me. This film is simply top-notch entertainment. A roller coaster that slowly takes a very steep run-up and then crashes into the depth with a breakneck-speed, shaking you back and forth. And this crazy, hyper kinetic ride lasts until the end. The action scenes with Nix (Samara Weaving) are equivalent to those in “John Wick“. Flashy editing. Blood splattering when bullets rip apart human flesh in slow motion. And all this under the guidance of an energetic soundtrack where you will hear amongst other “The Ballroom Blitz” from The Sweet. In short, I greatly enjoyed this film for an hour and a half.

I have infinite respect for the actor Daniel Radcliffe. This guy could have benefited all his life from the “Harry Potter” stamp that they have tattooed on his forehead. It would have been possible to come up with a few sequels without any problems and without hesitation they could have exploited the success formula of the book series and film versions. He could also have demanded to be part of the “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them” franchise. But no. Instead, Radcliffe opted for not so obvious projects such as “Kill your Darlings“, “Horns” and “Swiss Army Man“. A homosexual-tinted film, full of literary blabbering on the one hand. And on the other hand a film about a friendship between a castaway and a corpse. It’s hard to say that these were commercially safe films that suit the fantasy-loving Harry Potter fans. And to avoid any misunderstanding. I was also enchanted by the Potter films (at least the first four anyway).

So no magic formulas, mythological creatures and a Radcliffe with a wizard hat showing a boyish, shy smile. Nope, he’s a nobody in this flick. A nobody with a futureless job, who empties one beer bottle after the other while playing violent video games at home. And as a notorious online troll hunter, Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) cannot resist posting derogatory comments on the “Skizm” website and provoking supporters of this obscure platform. “Skizm” is an illegal website that organizes duels in real life where opponents try to eliminate each other. And this is thrown on the internet and followed by hundreds of thousands of fanatic fans and bettors. Obviously, the first movie that came to mind was “Death Match“. The organizer of all this is an ugly tattooed guy called Riktor (Ned Dennehy) who’s obviously completely nuts and is accompanied by a gang of weirdos whose muscle mass is noticeably heavier than the weight of their brains. And Riktor isn’t happy with the muscular language Miles places on his forum. And before the latter realizes it, he lies in bed with two automatic guns bolted to both his hands. And furthermore, he himself is a candidate for a duel between him and Nix.

With this film, Daniel Radcliffe leaves his comfort zone for the umpteenth time and tries to show that he’s more than just Harry Potter. A bushy beard, constantly covered in blood and using a portion of self-mockery and humor, ensure that. Not to mention his clothing: a checkered dressing gown, boxer shorts, and fluffy giant slippers in the shape of tiger claws. For Samara Weaving, this is a little bit an extension of her role in “Ready or Not“. The same bloody and over-the-top situations. But here she got more of a Harley Quinn attitude. A disturbed, fearless person who’s extremely effective in terms of eliminating opponents. That her insane behavior was caused by an incident in her youth is briefly mentioned, but in fact, has no impact or significance. This mindless action film has only one goal in mind and that’s to show chaotic and limitless action. And all this topped with a sauce of humor à la “Deadpool“. There are quite a few hilarious moments in this film. The hand-mounted guns that cause problems for Miles to accomplish daily routines. Like for instance opening a door. Or making a phone call. And peeing is even a hazardous thing to do. The Australian-sounding hobo (Rhys Darby) was simply hilarious with his advice on suicide techniques and his Cypress Hill imitation. How he got Miles in that coat, however, remains a mystery to me.

If you can’t stand a chaotic storyline and you get annoyed when it’s a movie that’s plain predictable and that looks more like an exaggerated comic, then I recommend you avoid this one. Or you don’t take a too critical attitude and you simply undergo the film. Perhaps then you can appreciate the vibrant pace, the screamy images, the creative camera techniques and the complete insane undertone of this movie with a limited budget. “Guns Akimbo” is certainly not a film for everyone because of the video game-like mood and the raw sense of humor. And for those who want to know what the film title actually means: Akimbo is a combat technique in which two weapons are used, with one in each hand. Well, I had to look it up myself.

The Bouncer (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

The Bouncer Review

Director: Julien Leclercq
Writers: Jérémie Guez, Julien Leclercq
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sami Bouajila, Sveva Alviti 

aka Lukas

Just when you think that an icon such as Jean-Claude Van Damme is becoming a caricature of himself and in danger of sinking into oblivion, he surprises you with such a part as in this film. The “Muscles from Brussels” got under my skin with his integer and sensitive acting. No bulging muscles and a long stretched primal cry accompanied by a grimace. He already demonstrated this in the 90s extensively. The years he peaked with classics such as “Bloodsport“, “Double Impact” and “Sudden death“. In those days you couldn’t come in a video store without a combative JCVD staring at you threateningly from the shelves. Unfortunately it went from bad to worse. And he hit rock bottom with the film “Alien Uprising“. What a crap movie this was. Unworthy of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Van Damme proves in “The Bouncer” (original title “Lukas“) he’s capable of doing more than just effortlessly cracking coconuts between his two muscular buttocks. Verily, he even shows here some acting talent. Not that he has to grasp deeply in his box of tricks. All he has to do is stare gloomy and tired. And occasionally he needs to handle a situation emotionlessly as the bouncer in less kosher establishments of Belgium’s nightlife. Well, someone who hates Van Damme would say that. I thought it was magisterial what he demonstrated here. He plays an old man who knows the ropes. Such an individual who doesn’t shy away from a brawl with other mean-looking fellows, as a job application. Someone who carelessly licks his wounds and puts a firm bandage over his wounds and then moves on to the order of the day. In short, a tough guy.

And yet this bad-boy has a golden heart. The way this single father takes care of his 8-year-old daughter Sarah (Alice Verset) is endearing. Lukas experienced some major setbacks in his life. Things he still hasn’t recovered from. And the fact that it doesn’t go smoothly financially, only makes it more difficult. A regrettable accident in the club where he’s working as a bouncer causes additional problems. In such a way that he also takes up a job at a nightclub where it’s not only dark for the clientele (so they can discretely do their thing). But also they carry out activities which shouldn’t be noticed by the authorities.

“The Bouncer” is not an action-packed film. In the end, it’s rather depressing. Grayish back streets, dark clubs, and brutal crime. That’s what you get served. I myself am not so familiar with the region where this all takes place. The Brussels region isn’t a known area for me. Because of the mix of languages (Dutch, French, and English), the film also got a more international character. And the recruitment of Kevin “Revenge” Janssens and Sam Louwyck, the two companions who hire Lukas as a bodyguard, gave it a Flemish cachet. I myself am not such a big fan of home-grown films. But cinematographically this was of a completely different level.

“The Bouncer” is a straightforward film in which clichés aren’t avoided. Jean-Claude Van Damme shines in this film. He’s constantly in the picture and carries this movie effortlessly. No, don’t expect him to demonstrate that he’s a master in combat techniques. Lukas is a sturdy, tough guy who can throw punches and can take punches effortlessly, but he won’t do splits in this gritty film. The acting of the two criminals is also far from bad. Especially Sam Louwyck is pretty intimidating. The conversations between him and Lukas are extremely successful. Kevin Janssens’ hairstyle stands out most. Could you talk about a rebirth of Van Damme? Who knows. Maybe I should give “Black Water” a chance, even though I’m sure I’ll be disappointed.

Kill Order (2017) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

Kill Order Review
Director: James Mark
Writer: James Mark
Stars: Chris Mark, Jessica Clement, Denis Akiyama

Do you like action…do you like more action? Well this is definitely the one to check out.  David Lee (Chris Mark) is a young man suffering from traumatising flashbacks to a mysterious past of his.  When a fully armoured squad tries to take him during class, his fear and aggression awaken a power unheard of.

There’s really not much to even spoil, this is jus a good beat em up sprinkled with enough backstory to keep the viewer tied to the characters.  The hits are brutal, the FX are actually clean enough to believe what’s going on. Some of the action-cam during fights were a bit dizzying  but overall tolerable.

Kill Order is worth a viewing and recognition considering how open the ending came to be.  Enjoy

Grade: B+

Primal (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Director: Nick Powell
Writer: Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand

National treasure Nicholas Cage squares-off against a deadly jungle cat and a vicious assassin on-board a cargo ship. Man, I don’t see how anyone could pass that up. It’s a concept as wonderfully ridiculous as Samuel L. Jackson battling snakes on a plane. Primal doesn’t milk its premise to the campy heights of that kitschy classic, but it’s a lot more fun than the average Nick Cage Movie of the Week.

Cage plays Frank Walsh, a grizzled, grumpy game hunter who traps wild animals to sell to zoos. His latest haul includes birds, angry monkeys, poisonous snakes and – his biggest prize – a rare white jaguar. Sharing the boat ride home, however, is rogue assassin Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand), who’s been captured by U.S. forces and being returned in chains to stand trial for his crimes. Naturally, he manages to escape and frees all the animals. So now it’s man vs. man and man vs. nature, with Loffler and the cat picking off the supporting cast one by one.

Primal has less actual animal action than I hoped. Not that the conflict involving Loffler isn’t enjoyable. Durand does a decent job playing your standard over-confident bad guy, but watching nature get even is a lot more entertaining, especially in an unusual setting. Still, the beasties manage to get-in their licks here and there. Those scenes are the goofiest, therefore the liveliest, even if the CGI-rendered jaguar is laughably unconvincing.

Cage attacks his role with his inimitable brand of gusto, tongue planted firmly in-cheek, which is always enjoyable. Less vital is Famke Janssen as Ellen Taylor. She plays a Navy doctor tasked with monitoring Loffler’s health, but mostly exists to bicker with Cage and place herself in peril. The remaining cast – including Michael Imperioli – are essentially cannon fodder (or cat food).

Well made on a relatively limited budget, Primal won’t win any Oscars, but it’s hardly Razzie-worthy, either. Fast-paced and enjoyably silly, this features Nick Cage in prime any-role-to-pay-off-my-debts mode. And that isn’t always a bad thing, especially once he breaks-out his trusty blowgun.

Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review By D.M Anderson

 

Gemini Man ReviewDirector: Ang Lee
Writers: David Benioff (screenplay), Billy Ray (screenplay)
Stars: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen

Ultimately, Gemini Man might have been partially undone by its own trailer, which spills the beans that Will Smith is a retiring government assassin forced to square-off against his younger self, an equally-skilled clone developed by his own people. But even though I think this is a dish that would have been best-served cold, it’s also a pricey, high-concept action picture and one would be hard-pressed to create any kind of promotional campaign that didn’t tease the viewer with two Will Smiths.

The problem is the way the narrative actually unfolds. Henry Brogan (Smith) is betrayed by the DIA after learning his last kill was not the terrorist he was led to believe, but a scientist working for the DIA on a black-ops project called ‘Gemini,’ headed by its nefarious director, Clay Varris (Clive Owen). Varris sends his best assassin to track-down and kill Brogan. Up to this point, Gemini Man is a watchable-but-unremarkable thriller featuring solid performances by Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the latter of whom who is a tough, resourceful DIA agent originally assigned to keep an eye on him, but ends up a target herself.

Neither learns who’s actually hunting them until well-into the second act and is obviously intended to be the story’s big revelation. But since the audience is privy to all of this from the get-go, instead of being pleasantly surprised by the sudden plot twist, we spend the first hour waiting for Brogan to figure out what we already know. The remainder of the film plays itself out in predictable fashion and is certainly watchable, but I suspect viewers going into this completely cold would have a lot more fun with it.

Elsewhere, Gemini Man works best when director Ang Lee briefly returns to his comfort zone, which is exploring the internal conflict of both Brogan and “Junior,” the latter of whom is also played by Smith through motion capture and CGI. Speaking of which, the ballyhooed “de-aging” of Smith works about as well as it has in other recent films like The Irishman and Endgame: Not entirely convincing, but less of a distraction once we acclimate ourselves. The action itself ranges from exciting to ridiculous. A close-quarters fight in the catacombs of Budapest is impressive, but a CGI-heavy motorcycle chase earlier in the film plays more like a Grand Theft Auto mission. The climax itself has our protagonists surrounded by dozens of Gemini super-soldiers, yet they’re collectively worse shots than Imperial Stormtroopers and are little more than canon fodder.

But again, Gemini Man is ultimately more of a marketing mistake than a failure as a film. The characters and performances are enjoyable and even the action is kind-of fun, like an exciting video game. However, the overall narrative is hampered by waiting so long to reveal what we already know without really expanding on such an inherently intriguing concept any further.

Cold Blood Legacy (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Cold Blood Legacy Review

Director: Frédéric Petitjean
Writer: Frédéric Petitjean
Stars: Jean Reno, Sarah Lind, Joe Anderson

Jean Reno. The ever-calm actor is usually associated with roles such as a police detective, a gangster or an assassin. The quiet-looking Frenchman has a specific appearance that fits perfectly with such roles. Strange but true. I have only recently seen the film “Léon: The Professional“. Without a doubt the very best that Jean Reno has demonstrated on the silver screen. An experienced assassin who, as a loner, takes care of the little girl Mathilda and teaches her the tricks of the trade. A cult film “avant la lettre”. In “Cold Blood Legacy” Jean Reno plays a similar character. A professional and devious person who does his jobs in a well-argued manner. And with that, the most positive thing about this film is said.

“Cold Blood Legacy” is a straight-to-video film, which is already a hint as to what you can expect. Nothing good, I fear. Yes, Henry (Jean Reno) radiates authority and calmness. He carefully weighs each word he’s going to say. And he reads philosophical books thoroughly such as “The Art of War”. He also knows enough about injuries and how to treat them. And finally, he seems to be skilled in survival techniques. Survival techniques that are necessary when you live at an isolated winter spot far from civilisation and surrounded by unapproachable nature. In short, it’s once again a pleasure to see Jean Reno at work.

Unfortunately, Reno’s brilliant acting isn’t enough to make this film a success. The rest is abominably bad, to say the least. Not only is the story itself terribly boring and not interesting. Some interpretations are also ridiculously bad. The two police detectives Kappa (Joe Anderson) and Davies (Ihor Ciszkewycz) in particular, probably will win the Challenge Cup for “Most lousy characters”. Although this is more due to the script than the qualities of the actors themselves. David Gyasi’s character is also open to criticism. The purpose of his role in this film remained a mystery to me. But it’s primarily the story where it’s going wrong. It all isn’t really clear. And above all, it seems as if it’s a combination of storylines and impressions that have been crammed into one story in a confusing way.

Still some positive comments. Sarah Lind’s acting is convincing enough, even though she does that almost the entire film from a horizontal position. The interaction between her and Henry sometimes makes the film fascinating to watch. A psychological joust between two strangers with their own secrets. And as I said before, Henry proves that he’s an expert in the medical field. And apparently he’s an expert in the field of torture techniques as well. Furthermore, the film is peppered with beautiful nature images of this winter landscape. A wooden cabin surrounded by snowy peaks, pine trees and an immensely frozen lake. However, don’t expect any tension or gripping action scenes. The film is simply lifeless and boring. And at the end of the film, everything still remained unclear and blurry. The fact that I didn’t remember the next day what it was about, was a logical consequence. Hopefully, Jean Reno will shine again in a solid action thriller somewhere in the future.