Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

Category: Movies (page 1 of 4)

Scott Adkins – The Art of Action

I have been an admirer of Scott Adkins for some time now. He’s a great martial artist, and has made some great movies (63 at present according to IMDB) – many of which are available to see on Netflix!

He had made movies with Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Michael Jai White and many others. He was even in an X-Men movie and appeared on UK TV in Holby City and Eastenders!

He is currently doing a series of interviews on YouTube with other martial arts stars. He releases about one a week. I don’t know if he is doing this because of COVID, but it certainly gives us something to look forward to every week.

He has interviewed many greats of the past, including Cynthia Rothrock, Benny Urquidez, Richard Norton, Jeff Speakman, Steven Seagal, Phillip Rhee, Loren Avedon, Dolph Lundgren and more (I should add that some of these are still making movies).

He has interviewed many current stars such as Michael Jai White, Tony Jaa, Mark Dacascos, and more.

He has interviewed many great action directors such as Gareth Evans and Chad Stahelski.

He has interviewed people I did not really know anything about such as Kane Kosugi, Marko Zaror, Daniel Bernhardt, JJ Perry, Andy Cheng, Vidyut Jammwal, Sam Hargrave and more. These are people I need to learn more about!

The interviews themselves are great, mainly I think because Scott is so enthusiastic and so modest. He clearly likes most or all of them and shows them great respect. He manages to get the best out of all of them.

Here is a link to his YouTube channel.

I cannot wait to see whom he interviews next. I think his 608K subscribers are (like me) hoping for people like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chuck Norris and Keanu Reeves!

Here is his most recent (21st) interview:

 

Things I love about John Wick

In 2014 a movie came out which changed the face of action movies. It was “John Wick” starring Keanu Reeves.

The movie was  directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and written by Derek Kolstad.

I had seen a trailer in advance so I was looking forward to the movie coming out. The premise (an assassin goes looking for revenge when some bad guys kill his dog and steal his car) seemed so very, very promising!

And the movie did not disappoint. It had some of the best action sequences (unarmed combat, guns and weapons) I had ever seen.

Here are some of the things I love about the John Wick movies:

Action

The action and fight scenes are top notch.

Chad and David are martial artists and stuntmen who formed a company together called 89Eleven in 1997. The company website says this:

Action design is an art form all its own. At 87eleven, our team has what it takes to create innovative stunts for studio films

So when they got the chance to direct the first John Wick movie, they made the movie of their dreams. And the action and  fight scenes raised the bar!

IMDB says that John Wick kills 77 people in the movie. In an interview, Chad said that the real number is higher!

The movie features “gun fu”. Although Chad is a master of many martial arts, he said that John Wick uses a combination of ” Japanese jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tactical 3-gun, and standing Judo”.

World

The movie creates a whole world of assassins.  They have their own code and rules. Their own way of getting contracts. Their own currency. And their own chain of hotels (the Continentals) where they can feel safe (no “business” can be conducted on the hotel grounds).

This world adds a lot of depth to the stories.

Shibumi

The book Shibumi by Trevanian is my favourite book.  It makes an appearance in the first movie in two ways:

  • Nicholai Hel (the main character in Shibumi) is an assassin and a master of “naked/kill” (the art of killing people with everyday objects). Nicholai’s life takes a sharp turn when he is forced to kill someone with a pencil. We are old in the movie that John Wich has killed three men with a pencil.
  • A security guard is seen reading the book at one point

Sequels

It is very hard to make sequels which are as good as the original. John Wick is an exception. The first movie scored 7.4 on IMDB. The two sequels each score 7.5! In Rotten Tomatoes the scores are 87%, 89% and 90%.

Quite an achievement.

And “Chapter 4” is due out in 2022. I can’t wait!

Interviews

As well as making great movies, the guys are great to listen to when they are discussing the movies.

Here is a video of Chad and David discussing the move while watching the “Honest Trailer”

Reunited Apart

I guess some people realised that it might be possible to get big stars to do things using ZOOM during COVID which might have been difficult or impossible to get done during normal times.

And in so doing, to raise money for charity.

One such person was Josh Gad. He created a series of videos where he reunited the cast and crew of great movies such as The Goonies, Back to the Future, Splash, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Josh is a great host and his enthusiasm makes the shows a joy. I know most of the participants are actors but they seem to get genuine pleasure out of being reunited.

Here is my favourite of them:

Coronavirus, Leo Varadkar and Sarah Connor

So Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been dominating our lives for weeks and week now.

But we do have some control over what happens. We can choose to stay home. We can choose to wash our hands. We can choose to do social distancing.

And we are lucky (unlike some other countries) to have good leadership at this time of crisis. Leo Varadkar is doing a great job. So is Simon Harris. So is Tony Holohan. So are our front-line workers.

But my admiration for Leo Varadkar went up a few notches back in March when he used a line from the Terminator movies during a very serious speech. He quoted the line: “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves”.

At first I was astonished – I thought I must have misheard.

But no – he really did say it. Fair play to him.

Here are the speeches by Leo, Simon and Tony (the line is at 6:14):

Another thing to hate about The Rise of Skywalker

In a recent post I mentioned three things that I hate about The Risable of Skywalker.

Well here is a fourth thing which I missed completely.

Apparently, TRoS has the worst music of any Star Wars movie.

Now obviously John Willians is a genius, and his contribution to the success of Star Wars cannot be overstated.

But apparently something went wrong with TRoS (probably all of the re-shoots and re-edits) and the musical cues from the previous movies are messed up in this movie.

Here is the information from the expert on the subject:

Three Things I hate about The Rise of Skywalker

There are a lot of things I did not like about “The Risible of Skywalker” as I choose to call it.

But my expectations were so low that there are only a few that I hate.

Palpatine is back

So this is the ninth and final movie in the Skywalker.  J.J. Abrams (Jar Jar Abrams as Nerdrotic so appropriately calls him) has been brought back in to rescue the series after the dreadful Last Jedi. He needs a climax, He needs a super villain. he pulls his writing team together and they come up with this idea: Let’s bring Palpatine (Darth Sidious) back

This is quite surprising as:

  • There was no mention of him in episodes 7 and 8
  • He was killed in episode 6

But no problem. The team has a great idea. He can be a clone.

But there is a problem. A serious problem.

The killing of Palpatine at the end of episode 6 was incredibly important. It was the culmination of the first two trilogies. It was what Luke had been training to do. It was the redemption of Anakin/Darth Vader and the end of his story arc.

So bringing him back is a serious misjudgement and a betrayal of the story of the first 6 movies.

Rey is a Skywalker

At the end of the movie, Rey declares herself to be a Skywalker in a very forced scene.

There is no logic to this. There is no basis for it.

It is completely out of the blue and completely ridiculous.

Rey is a Palpatine. She is not a Skywalker.

Maybe Rian Johnson has the right idea in his movie when he said that she was a nobody.

Being a nobody makes a lot more sense that this ludicrous ending.

Opportunity Missed

So when JJ was looking around for a super villain, and a way to end the 9 movies, and a way to pull everything together, there was a perfect candidate standing in the wings.

I did a post in 2017 based on the theory (by Lumpawarroo) that Jar Jar Binks was a Sith and was secretly manipulating people and events under a guise of ineptitude.

This is not my theory but it is genius.

This was a much better option than bringing Palpatine back from the grave.

And it would have helped to redeem the first trilogy, and to re-purpose one of the most reviled characters.

What a win that would have been!

Apparently JJ was aware of and happy with this theory. What an opportunity he missed. Further proof, if any is needed, of his own ineptitude. Jar Jar Abrams.

 

I’m not going to include a photo from this movie.

Instead here is a photo from happier times and a better movie.

Three Things I hate about The Last Jedi

Today is “May the Fourth” and I’d like to talk about Star Wars.

I wrote previously about Star Wars Episode 7, which I choose to call “The Farce Awakens”.

This post is about Episode 8 which I am calling (spoiler!) “The Last Jedi Movie I will ever go to see in the cinema”.

This movie (coming a year after “Solo”) is surely the last nail in the Star Wars coffin.

It scored 7.0 on IMDB and had a audience score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes (the 91% critics score is a complete mystery to me).

I *did* go to see the movie in the cinema when it came out. I haven’t seen it since then so I am just going to talk about the three things I hated so much that they have stuck in my mind.

The way they treated the character of Luke Skywalker

Mark Hamill has spoken at length about his disagreements with Rian Johnson about the way he was forced to portray Luke. I completely agree. From the moment that Luke has to throw away the light sabre, to the moment when he comtemplates killing Kylo Ren; to when he milks some strange creature. There is no respect for the character. Also, there is no hint of the optimism that characterised Luke in the original trilogy.

Leia’s Death Scene

When Leia was floating off into space dead, I was happy. I though it was a nice serene death. And, of course, we knew that Carrie Fisher was dead so it seemed fitting. But then Rian Johnson had her come back to life (how long can someone survive in the vacuum of space) and then fly back to ship. This looked absolutely ridiculous!

Luke’s Fight with Kylo Ren

So the climax of the move is the fight between Luke and Kylo Ren. But at the end we discover that Luke isn’t really there and the whole things was just a waste of time. Literally. There were no stakes. There was no chance that either of them would win. Or that either of them would die. Just a complete waste of time. I know there was something about Luke buying time for the others to escape but in reality it was just pointless. Episode 4 ended with the blowing up of the Death Star before it could destroy the rebel base. How things have gone downhill in the movies since then.

There were lots of other annoying things in the movie. But these three have managed to stick in my mind.

Now I happen to think that Rian Johnson has made some very good movies, before and since.  So I am mystified as to what went wrong here. But it certainly was awful, and it certainly was the last Star Wars movie that I will be seeing in the cinema.

I’m not going to include a photo from the movie. But here is one of Luke, Leia and Han from happier times!

Things I hate about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The title of this post is a bit misleading for two reasons:

  • I loved this movie
  • There is only one thing I hated about the movie

This is a great movie. And Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are outstanding in the two main roles.

It didn’t score very well in IMDB: 7.7. This is less than most of the other movies which Quentin Tarantino directed.

And it didn’t score all that well on Rotten Tomatoes:  85% for critics and 70% for audience.

But I really enjoyed it. One of the high points for me was when Brad’s character was insisting that he wanted to see George  Spahn at the  Spahn Ranch. Fantasic tension.

On the other end of the scale … the thing I hated was the portrayal of Bruce Lee. I don’t think there was any need to portray him as an arrogant idiot. And, in spite of Tarantino’s defence of the portrayal, I don’t think there is any real basis for it.

I’m not the only one who had a problem with this. IMDB (in the trivia section) reports the following people as taking issue with it:

  • Shannon Lee, Lee’s daughter
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lee’s student and friend
  • British Chinese martial arts actor and choreographer J. Cheung who apparently turned down the role of Lee, citing its lack of respect to Bruce Lee and his spirit
  • The Chinese Government who apparently refused the film a certificate for release in the country

Dan Inosanto, Lee’s number one student, has also come out against the portrayal.

I think the movie would have been better without that piece, but apart from that it is excellent.

Here are Leo and Brad doing their stuff:

 

Yesterday by Richard Curtis

Let me start by saying that it’s a genius premise for a movie.

No – I don’t mean the idea that you could write about a world where a guy discovers that he’s (almost) the only person to know the songs of The Beatles.

I mean the idea that you could create a movie which really just features a series of Beatles songs one after the other!

I went to see this movie a few weeks ago with the family. We all enjoyed it really, but that was more about the songs than anything else.

I am a long-term fan of Richard Curtis (he was involved with Blackadder, Spitting Image, Four Weddings, Love Actually, About Time, etc. after all) so I was happy to go to see it. Not his best work though.

It does score 7.0 on IMDB though (which unbelievably is the same score as Four Weddings!) The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are probably a better guide being 63% and 89% respectively from critics and audience (Four Weddings got 96% from critics).

Himesh Patel does well in the lead role, and Lily James (although she doesn’t have much to do) really lights up the screen. And hats off to Ed Sheeran for being willing to appear as himself and for having to good humour to say and do the funny things which were asked of him.

Here is a picture of these three (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images):

Rutger Hauer

Rutger Hauer passed away on the 19th of July, aged 79.

It must be great to know that you have created something which will never be forgotten. I am referring, of course, to his portrayal of Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982).

The genius behind Blade Runner was Ridley Scott, of course, but Rutger made an unforgettable contribution.

He is also remembered for other movies, including 1986’s The Hitcher.

And for his role in a series of ads for Guinness.

Here is his iconic final scene in Blade Runner, which apparently was improvised to some extent.

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