Monday, 24 September 2012

The Admiral


Check out my new review of The Admiral at Far East Films.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Arachnoquake



ARACHNOQUAKE (2012)

Directed by: Griff Furst
Written by: Paul A. Birkett, Eric Fosberg
Starring: Tracey Gold, Edward Furlong, Bug Hall, and Ethan Phillips

Even if this flick wasn’t any giant-spider-eating-human’s fun (which it is) it would still be blessed with one of the best titles to grace a bug movie (or any movie for that matter!) ever: Arachnoquake. Brilliant. Spiders plus earthquakes equals Arachnoquake. Awesome. I can’t say the title enough: Arachnoquake, Arachnoquake, Arachnoquake. Amazing. While this may be a SyFy produced cheapie, it’s a whole load of giant spider munching fun that delivers exactly what a low budget creature feature should: lots of huge genetically impossible creatures running amok and chomping up a cast of disposable characters.


If you hadn’t deciphered it from the (awesome!) title: an earthquake causes a horde of giant (and some small!) spiders to creep out of the ground and start terrorizing the residents of New Orleans. These are no ordinary spiders: they’re albino spiders, which can breathe fire and run on water (see I told you this was awesome!). So we have our rag-tag band of heroes you have to navigate the ever-swarming rampage of fire breathing albino spiders and as is the norm with creature features (and as exactly as it should be) the humans are mere fodder for the bugs and are made up of your usual mixture of reluctant heroes, tourists on vacation, screaming babes and (somewhat bizarrely) Edward (T2) Furlong playing a father to two teenagers (!!??) and the coach of an all girl high school baseball team (!!!!!!????). Now this is even more unlikely than an earthquake hatching giant albino fire-breathing spiders! Still the cast go at it with aplomb, hamming it up when necessary and running and screaming from a surfeit of giant CGI beasties.


Yes the CGI is of the low budget standard (and I’m sure many will have lots to say about how awful it is and the evils of CGI etc, etc) but it’s not bad for a low budget film. Plus, when a creature feature is this packed with giant bug rampaging action, I’ll take shoddy CGI if it means we get giant spiders running across water chasing after humans! This is just one of the wonderfully absurd moments in Arachnoquake which also includes the spiders breathing fire (if I hadn’t mentioned that enough already!) and a quite bonkers finale featuring the hero running around New Orleans in full diving gear (!!??) with a pump action shotgun dispensing spiders. Quite, quite brilliant.

There is only so much you can say about a film called Arachnoquake and while we don’t actually see any earthquakes (it’s just mentioned that it actually happened!) the film certainly delivers on the arachnid front. Logic may take a flying leap out the window (with events just seemingly happening at random) but with decent production values, a great sense of fun and lots and lots of giant spider action, Arachnoquake is bug B-movie gold.

The Hunt for Eagle One



THE HUNT FOR EAGLE ONE

Directed by: Brian Clyde
Screenplay: Michael Henry Carter
Starring: Mark Dacascos, Theresa Randle & Rutger Hauer

This low budget, Roger Corman produced quickie (did he ever produce any other kind?) is heavy on the military action and light on everything else. Not that this is such a bad thing, as at just pushing 80 minutes in runtime and starring the great Mark Dacascos, all I want is a lot of action delivered at regular intervals. It’s a generic tale of a pilot (Theresa Randle) shot down in enemy territory and held captive by some nasty Philippine rebels. Dacascos and his crew are given orders to go in and rescue her and, somewhere on the sidelines, Rutger Hauer pops up as a cigar chomping military general barking orders.


The first 20 minutes or so are a little ropey with some dodgy opening credits, ample use of stock footage in the first big action scene and some extremely dodgy graphics used to represent targeting systems, meaning its not until Randle is actually captured and Dacascos and his men set off in search of her that the film finds its groove and gets a little more entertaining. While it’s pretty straight forward in terms of narrative and the bad guys are suitably boo-hiss, we-hate-Americans terrorists, the flick makes up for its shortcomings with some nice shot on location photography, some pretty impressive combat action and the always reliable Dacascos. The jungles are nicely shot and while the budget may not have been great, the action is often well staged. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges but the makers have at least attempted to try and give it a somewhat realistic edge as the actors stalk and shoot one another through jungles and abandoned buildings. The action sees a lot of ammo being dispensed (so ok, maybe its not that realistic) and is explosion heavy and thankfully there is a lot of it.

Dacascos, while not getting to cut loose kung fu wise, makes for the dependable hero and its always good to see him take lead in a film even if he is required to do nothing more than run and shoot here. Randle is good also but is given perhaps too little to do other than be held captive and tortured (and provide a rather sombre voiceover narration!). Hauer on the other hand looks kinda bored, is only in a few scenes and seems to be there only to collect a pay cheque. Still he can chew cigars, and scenery, with conviction and he is a welcome presence in any film.

While it’s maybe a bit too American military gung ho and the lack of budget shows through more than once, The Hunt for Eagle One is still a fairly entertaining hunt through the jungle action film with plenty of M16 firing action that will likely be enjoyed most by fans of military themed action flicks.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The President's Man



THE PRESIDENT’S MAN (2000)

Directed by: Michael Preece & Eric Norris
Screenplay: Bob Gookin
Starring: Chuck Norris, Dylan Neal, Jennifer Tung, Soon-Tek Oh & Ralph Waite

We all know Chuck Norris is the ultimate bad ass and as All American as apple pie but damn, The President’s Man might just be the most patriotic film the bearded butt kicker has ever made. Even more so than the epic awesomeness that is Invasion USA. Hell, it might be the most patriotic film period! Ok, enough hyperbole. The one thing The President’s Man is, is the whole Chuck persona personified to the extreme: even more so than the rest of his ass kicking back catalogue. I mean he’s a badass martial artist (obviously!), he’s the Prez’s number one soldier meaning he is on constant standby should the Prez find himself in trouble or, say, his wife needs rescuing (which she does in the hilarious opening sequence!) and, well, everybody walks around like he is some kind of messiah and I wouldn’t be surprised if he could shit gold!

I’m not ragging on Norris, I enjoy his films, but the Chuck Universe is founded on absurdness (and awesome butt kicking!) and The President’s Man might just be the accumulation of said absurd universe (and awesome butt kicking!) making it the most “Chuck” movie ever made. Unfortunately it’s not his best. However, it ain’t that bad. Sure it’s got all kinds of flag waving craziness and action madness (I mean he rescues the first lady in the opening action sequence by jumping off the top off a high rise and dumping her into the sea!) but it’s a load of silly fun and the action ain’t bad either.


Norris, after the funky rescuing the first lady opening sequence, admits he might be getting “too old for this shit” (though he doesn’t actually swear!) and decides to train a new recruit to be the next President’s Man. That new recruit is all round, do-the-right-thing, tough guy (and occasional douche!) Deke Slater (Neal). Cue lots of training montages, Norris dishing out cod philosophy along with the kicks, male bonding and a nice amount of neck breaking action. There are also some nasty dudes, including genre stalwart Soon-Tek Oh (who wouldn’t you know it, Norris has a grudge against!), up to no good with some plutonium for Norris and his new recruit to thwart come the end.

The President’s Man is as barmy as this review but it at least remembers to have a little fun as there is a slight James Bond vibe going on with Norris’ character and while there is no getting away from the overt Chuckness, patriotism and just general ridiculousness, the training scenes are well done and the action sequences are effectively crunchy and punchy.

BOOM!

Blood of Warriors (aka Bang Rajan 2)



Check out my new review of Blood of Warriors  at Far East Films.