Monday, 29 September 2014

Brotherhood

Check out my new review of epic war film Brotherhood over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Blood Ties


Check out my new review of Blood Ties over at Blueprint Review.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sofia (aka Assassin's Bullet)


SOFIA (2012)

Directed by: Isaac Florentine
Written by: Hans Feuersinger & Nancy L. Babine
Starring: Christian Slater, Elika Portnoy, Timothy Spall & Donald Sutherland

Director Isaac Florentine takes a break from crafting bad ass action films (Undisputed 2 & 3, Ninja 1 & 2), to try his hand at a dramatic thriller (don’t worry, there are still a couple of high impact action scenes) with, unfortunately, somewhat disappointing results. Slater is Robert Diggs a former top FBI agent now living a quieter life in Sofia, Bulgaria as a cultural attaché. When an assassin starts taking out vigilante vengeance on the FBI’s most wanted list, Diggs’ boss (Sutherland) ropes him back into service to find out what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, Timothy Spall is a rather creepy psychiatrist treating a young woman (Portnoy) who is suffering from severe blackouts. Spall also happens to be Diggs’ best mate with the two frequenting a local belly dancing bar (!), where Diggs strikes up a romance with one of the dancers (also Portnoy). Soon Diggs’ personal life becomes entangled with the hunt for the assassin and mucho intrigue and a shed load of belly dancing ensue all leading to a twist that is obvious from about ten minutes in.


While it’s great to see Florentine trying his hand a something other than awesome martial arts action, Sofia will most likely be a massive let down to his fans. It’s certainly got a good cast, some nice locations and is impressively shot but the muddled, uninteresting script hampers proceedings from the get go with far too much time spent on Slater being seduced by the belly dancing charms of Portnoy (seriously, there is so much belly dancing in this film it may as well have been a documentary about the dance!). After a pretty cool opening featuring the black clad assassin taking out a group of targets (and making one believe they are in for a fun action ride) proceedings slip into drudgery as we watch belly dance after belly dance, see Slater become more confused by what’s going on (much like the viewer!) and witness Sutherland hamming it up and having fun in his extended cameo (one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film). 


Unfortunately the film can’t help but slip into a dull grind and the ensuing conspiracy is just not as exciting or as sexy as it thinks it is. Slater does try his best and there is no doubting Florentine’s direction is slick. Fortunately, there a couple of the director’s trademark action beats  to liven things up with the aforementioned kill scene and an extended action blowout near the end where the assassin attempts to complete their killing mission. As always with Florentine, the action is fluid and exciting and features some polished choreography: there just should have been more of it and less of the belly dancing. Good to see Florentine attempting the conspiracy thriller genre and while there are flashes of excitement, Sofia disappointingly fizzles when it should sizzle.

Aka Assassin’s Bullet



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Wolf Creek 2


Check out my new review of the surprisingly vehicular stunt filled Wolf Creek 2 over at Blueprint Review.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Viral Factor


Check out my new review of The Viral Factor over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ninja Apocalypse


NINJA APOCALYPSE (2014)

Directed by: Lloyd Lee Barnett
Written by: Ashley Scott Meyers
Starring: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Les Brandt, Christian Oliver & Ernie Reyes Jr

So there’s been a great war resulting in an apocalypse from a huge bomb going off, leaving the lands ravaged and turning its survivors into wandering clans of highly skilled ninjas: so far so awesome. Said ninja clans are then summoned by the grandmaster ninja of them all, Fumitaka (Hiroyuki-Tagawa), to a bunker deep underground where he is swiftly murdered in front of all the clans. The Lost Ninja clan, led by the cool and collected Cage (Oliver), are blamed for the slaying and the other ninja clans set about trying to kill them, swearing revenge. Trapped deep below ground, framed and with not only pissed off ninjas but zombies(!) on their tail as well, Cage and his clan fight their way to the top through an ever increasing amount of foes. Fights, magic powers, swords, zombies, more fights and even a bit of gore ensue: freaking sweet!


Ninja Apocalypse is an absolute hoot made all the more fun by its aim to not explain everything (it’s a post-apocalyptic future with ninjas who all have magic powers: that’s just the way it is!) but its determination to entertain and thrill. Made by skilled visual effects and action department folks, the film takes these two aspects and welds them into a fun and fast ride giving us the viewer plenty to feast our eyes on: both visually and action wise. So along with well staged and energetic fights we get cool enhanced powers with ninjas able to shoot fireballs from their hands and ignite their swords ala Star Wars lightsabers which gives the action a fresh visual kick. Part post- apocalyptic movie, part Mortal Kombat and part 80s ninja film, Ninja Apocalypse delivers on its awesome title and supplies action, ninjas and even zombies, by the bucket load. Ok, so the zombies are only a small part of the actual action and those just expecting ninjas vs. zombies throughout may be disappointed but with lots of well staged fights and a momentum that rarely slacks one has plenty of ninja action to feast their eyes on. 


The flick also, surprisingly, has quite a serious tone with all the principals giving it their all in both the acting and action. Perhaps another a joke or two wouldn’t have gone a miss to lighten the tone a bit but the reluctance to wink at the camera is actually refreshing giving the character's plight and the action more of an edge. As mentioned the cast really go for it and really sell the over-the-top nature of the film with Lost Ninja clan member Trillion (Kaiwi Lyman) really standing out. Also nice to see genre legends Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa and Ernie Reyes Jr in there and they even get their own fight scenes as well. The action is crisp and creative even if the end smack-down does end a little abruptly but overall Ninja Apocalypse is a blast: fast and furious with an abundance of ninjas and swordfights. 

Awesome.

Trailer: