Monday, 27 January 2014

Armageddon


Check out my new review of Armageddon over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Bounty Hunters


BOUNTY HUNTERS (aka BAIL ENFORCERS) (2011)

Directed by: Patrick McBearty
Screenplay: Reese Eveneshen
Starring: Trish Stratus, Frank J. Zupancic and Boomer Phillips

One time WWE Diva Trish Stratus gets her own action vehicle in the cheap, cheerful and crunchy punchy Bounty Hunters. She’s one third of a group of bail enforcers who have a no nonsense attitude to taking in their targets and aren’t averse to using the odd punch to the face or angry headlock to get their marks to cooperate. Stratus is Jules, the beauty and the brawn of the group that also includes sensible-get-the-job done Ridley (Zupancic) and wisecracking Chase (Phillips). They land a big $100,000 job to bring in a wanted informant but get the possible deal of their lives when a local mob boss offers a $1 million payday to hand the informant over to him. Despite Ridley’s reservations and buoyed by Chase’s gullible enthusiasm to score big they agree only for the handover to go spectacularly wrong. Cue lots of heads getting bust, wisecracks flying and Trish Stratus looking very sexy as she kicks the ass of various assassins sent to eliminate the trio.


Made on a tight budget and presumably with the intention to showcase Trish Stratus’ action movie credentials, Bounty Hunters is a short, sweet and entertaining action ride. Nothing new here story wise really and the filmmakers are obviously stretching the budget as far and as best they can but with a sexy leading lady and lots of crunchy fights, Bounty Hunters is low budget action gold. Stratus is non-surprisingly, after her years in pro wrestling, a gifted fighter: sprightly and energetic in the action scenes, which incorporate various wrestling style moves as well as a nice bit of martial arts. She is also not a bad actress and shares good chemistry with her bail enforcer cohorts. In fact, it’s the interplay between the three leads that makes the film so entertaining: a sort of surrogate family who have as much the gift of the gab as they to the gift of the-punch-you-in-the-face. Boomer Phillips is pretty awesome as the jokey Chase and has a particularly funny and memorable scene-cum-fight with a female assassin posing as a cop. In fact, their confrontation/fight in a diner bathroom is one of the flick’s highlights.

While not overly intricate the fights are well done and include an early altercation in a gym, a fight in the back of a moving ambulance (!) and a finale, which sees Stratus going toe-to-toe with another female in an awesome showdown. On the downside, the film does tend to give a little too much screen time to the big bad guy who spends way too much time talking on the phone and making important speeches (enough: cut to the chase and the action!) and Stratus is perhaps unwisely sidelined for a bit too long come the second half of the film. However, whenever the bounty hunting trio are on screen bantering or when Stratus is kicking ass and looking good doing it, Bounty Hunters is some fine ball busting, fist pounding, head smashing action fun.

Make a sequel.



Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Top 10 Eastern films of 2013 at Far East Films


My Top Ten Eastern films of 2013 at Far East Films.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Forced to Fight


FORCED TO FIGHT (2011)

Directed by: Jonas Quastel
Screenplay: Patrick Dussault, Andrew Bronstein & Jonas Quastel
Starring: Gary Daniels, Peter Weller, Arkie Reece and Alexandra Weaver

It’s forced-into-underground-tournament-fighting time once again as Gary Daniels steps into the ring to pay off the debt owed by his scuzzy brother to evil fight promoter Peter Weller. Yep, in the B-movie action world you’ve seen this scenario a million times but thanks to a great dramatic performance from Gary Daniels and an excellent supporting cast Forced to Fight is a solid little fight flick that recalls the 90s heydays when these types of flicks were a dime a dozen on video store shelves.


While there is plenty of knuckle dusting fight action, Forced to Fight arguably works better when it focuses on the drama. In a refreshing take on the underground fight set-up, Daniel’s character, who we first meet as a loving family man trying to make an honest living, gets seduced by the violent and quick money making fight life and sees his personality changing. The opposite happens to his brother (well played by Arkie Reece) who left to heal at Daniels’ home (after a major beating from Weller’s goons) and take care of the family learns to be a better person and leave his shady past behind. It’s a nice bit of role reversal and thanks to a role that allows Daniels’s to act his transformation adds a bit of grit and suspense to proceedings. In addition, his character also shows insecurities about fighting which makes for another refreshing aspect: a hero not always sure he is up to the task and whether his fight skills are as good as his opponents.


Don’t worry though, as Daniels still proves he is a badass when it comes to the fights and there are plenty of them. Still in great shape and one of the most capable screen fighters around, Daniels cuts loose in a series of brutal MMA style fight sequences which have a tough and bloody edge to them. Unfortunately, they do get a bit repetitive in style and there is an overuse of too much-close-camerawork and unnecessary flashing lights in an attempt to liven the fights up. It’s not needed and the camera should be pulled back and allow the fights to play out rather than rush through them with swirling camera movements and distracting flashing lights. But as mentioned, Daniels is still a gifted fighter and there are some impressive training scenes in the build up to the tournament.

While this is definitely Daniels’ show he’s got good support from the cast playing his family as well as acting heavyweight and all round legend, Peter Weller. Despite the often cartoon nature of his villain (and not to mention some ridiculous clothes!), Weller does menace and all-out-badassery well and seems to be having a hoot playing such a bastard.

A solid entry in the tournament fighting genre and an engaging drama thanks to Gary Daniel’s impressive performance.



Monday, 6 January 2014

Triangle


Check out my new review of Triangle over at Far East Films.