Monthly Archives: February 2015

Review: Bodyguards and Assassins

Bodyguards and Assassins is a sort of historical epic/ ridiculous fightin movie. Set in the long time ago times (1900 or thereabouts), the revolution in China to overthrow the Qing Dynasty is in its fledgling stages. A group of unlikely allies come together to defend Sun Yat-sen on his short but dangerous trip to Hong Kong to meet the leaders of groups that will go on to become some of the revolutions key players.

Everyone has different motivations, which means that as much as the film is about the sacrifice of the revolutionaries it is equally about love, honour and friendship. In all its silly depictions of outrageous combat, it’s absolutely unflinching in its portrayal of these themes, if someone has to die to get the notion of sacrifice across, then you can be damn sure they are going to die. This makes it all intensely sad, but rather beautiful at the same time, and the nice thing is that all of this still works perfectly alongside lighter moments.

I would say it’s a pot boiler, simmering tension releasing in a masterful cavalcade of brilliance at the end, but the reality is that it reaches its peak about fifty minutes before curtains down, and maintains a frenetic pace for that whole time – I am not saying you’ll be exhausted at the end, but you’ll have felt something, and this makes Bodyguards and Assassins one of the best films I have seen in a while.

Review: Gyo : Tokyo Fish Attack

Gyo : Tokyo Fish Attack is certainly one of those films that you get to the end of and think ‘well…that happened’. There is an awful lot of weird stuff going on here. I mean, aside from the fish growing metal legs and invading all the major cities of Earth. I mean, it might be a treatise on the global issue of overfishing, but then again, it might be about the dangers of genetic modification, it might all be Americas fault, but then, maybe it is saying war is terrible. One thing is for certain though, as with most good horror movies, having sex is a cardinal sin and no one can blame your friends for abandoning you to your fishy grave when you engage in carnal pleasures. Or can they? 

The basic premise here is fish, and…octopuses (octopi?) have somehow spouted legs and are invading the land. They obviously want to eat all the humans, or this film would just be about how awesome post invasion sushi became, but more than this, they infect anyone they touch with a terrible virus that condemns them to a big ‘ugly mess’ death. The dominant themes are friendship, love and our moral obligations to each other in the face of a giant fish invasion. But to be honest everything is so unresolved and weird that it could mean anything really. Watch it for the badass sharks eating stuff on dry land then spend a good hour trying to work out what it all meant.

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Review: Some Guy Who Kills People

A return to business as usual with a review of slasher horror porn movie Some Guy Who Kills People. Hurrah! Except, even with that name, this film isn’t really your archetypal slasher movie, and it certainly isn’t slasher horror porn. I just put that in so people googling the word porn ended up here and improved my website traffic. Thats the kind of thing you have to think about when you want people to read your film reviews on the internet.

Anway, the film follows a kind of introverted, but basically nice ice cream store worker played by (almost) universally brilliant Kevin Corrigan. He has some issues which stem from some awful things that went down when he was younger, that now seem to be culminating in gruesome, and pretty amusing murders. The cops provide some of the best lines in the movie and Barry Bostwick is absolutely brilliant as the police chief. I don’t usually include actors names on FIHR, but basically everyone in this movie does such a great job it seems a shame not to mention them. Bostwicks acting though, it walks a careful and brilliant line that means you can’t quite work out if he is thick as shit or the most intelligent man in the world.

Anyway, into this slightly wonky milieu of a killer and some less than great cops walks a young girl who will change everything. More than that would be spoilers, but I would definitely recommend the movie for a downbeat but super feel good feeling, with awesome crime scenes.

Pirates of Langkasuka

Pirates of Langkasuka is a rather schizophrenic movie. You’ll have to watch for a good half hour before it makes much sense who is who and who is supposed to hate who, and who is going where. Once you have it worked out though its actually relatively simple, there is a bad pirate, and he wants to destroy a big fort where the Queen lives. Everyone helps either defend the fort or attack it, apart from one guy who does both because he is two people and magic. Following? Good, the fish are on the good guys side, and there is two good guys but they don’t ever meet. There is a princess because I said I was only reviewing movies with princesses in now. Also there is a man who makes big cannons, he is British or American or something. You get the picture, its a bloody confusing film! Its good though, not especially pirate heavy, given the name, and its more about mystic fish powers than swashbuckling. The characters are likeable though and despite the storyline being just as silly as all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the acting is actually rather good. There is an entirely believable love story stuck in the middle of all the silliness. You know love stories are important because of the new girly direction of the site yeah? Check out Pirates of Langkasuka in the same way you read grown up books when you are young, its not all going to make sense, but you’ll get to the end and feel pretty satisfied all the same.

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Brave

Well, this might be it, two princess based movies in as many weeks. Finally EFIHR has gone all girly and put down the guns and knives and things. It was inevitable I guess, call it mellowing with age, or perhaps there is something in the water, who knows. What I do know is that the site will soon have an appropriate re-design to light pink with kawaii emojo overloaded reviews of nothing but the most girl orientated movies. Brave is all about a princess who doesn’t want to be very girly, she wants to shoot arrows and ride a horse. She also doesn’t like her mother very much because, although she seems quite reasonable and relatively nice, her mother does not want her to shoot arrows and ride a horse. Cue overly dramatic metaphor and your movie synopsis is done. It is OK I suppose, but it just lacks something, call it, scope maybe. A magical beautiful world inhabited by interesting characters derailed for a claustrophobic exploration of a girls relationship with her mum. For sure, not a bad story in itself, but something of a waste when crowbarred into a scenario which could have been so much more. Add in overly long ‘running around the castle’ scenes and the film becomes a slight bore-fest at around the half way point. If only someone had a gun or something to liven things up…

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Review: The Valley of Gwangi

The time is…sometime in the past, the place is Mexico, and the thing, that is … Gwangi! He is a terrifying t-rex like beast! You’ll find him, along with a bunch of other made up extinct things secreted in a ‘forbidden valley’ that is either one, or many many perilous days ride from the new town – it is not really made clear where the forbidden valley is, but it takes either very little time to get there, or ages.

Its kind of a tale of two halves, the part before Gwangi shows up, where all sorts of silly stuff goes on with a tiny horse, some questionable sexy scenes and lots of fannying around on horses. Then there is the second, possibly more enjoyable part where Gwangi is doing his thing, roaring and battling other dinosaur type things and generally being badass.

We don’t actually get to the eponymous valley until well into the movie. Mouth chomp! The effects are exactly what you’d expect from a sixties monster pic, sort of plasticine looking and not particularly good. Dino Bite! What is done well though is the interaction between the humans and the creatures, something which is difficult to get right even now with all this cgi, they pull off with aplomb. Foot crush!

Anyway, write off the awful racial stereotypes and get into this classic load of rubbish, you’ll probably not regret it, and even if you do its going to be fun to tell everyone how good the plastic dinosaurs are.

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Robin Hood (2010)

Hmmm, Robin Hood eh. If Kevin Costner taught me anything then it’s that Mr Hood was a sort of slightly moody, but ultimately out for a good time, leader of a band of drunk tree house builders. How them am I supposed to deal with Russell Crowe being a not especially moody leader of a band of drunk ground dwellers? Truly mystifying. This incarnation of the oft told myth of Robin Hood rather messes with the formula and makes it all about the French and the King and things, like a sort of not so good Game of Thrones without the boobs. I mean, no one really knows if the whole legend is a load of rubbish or not, so the film makers could basically make it all up if they like, but Robin killing people with an axe really doesn’t chime well with me. An axe! For goodness sake. It’s not a bad film really, all muddy British fields, lutes and castles and maidens and the such, pretty much everything you’d expect…except…robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. Its Ridley Scott trying to inject a little originality into a story that, according to the Wikipedia, has been told over four billion times on film. It certainly isn’t shoddy film making., the problem though is that it attempts to inject a myth that is all rather good fun into a rather dense historical saga, everyone is wandering around western Europe trying to outdo each other whilst all we really want is for Robin to ride in, be badass and shoot some arrows, which takes approximately two hours to happen. It’s not snoresome, but its not awesome.

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Tokyo Zombie

Tokyo Zombie, the second of this weeks Tokyo themed movie offerings, is entirely the more strange of the two. Evoking a kind of Mighty Boosh surrealism mashed up with all the zombie movies, its all really good fun. We follow our two heroes, workers in a fire extinguisher factory that seems to have no other employees, as they traverse a newly zombified Tokyo and the epic social changes that occur in the wake of the zombvasion, something that no other film/tv show has managed in quite such a socially scathing, but equally hilarious fashion. It might have something interesting to say about the class system, friendship, family and … perverts, but to be honest all this stuff is sort of ancillary to the martial arts. Yep, martial arts are a very significant part of the film. So is nonexistent cancer. As I said, it’s all rather surreal. Everyone has the same skewed moral compass, which makes them all the more endearing when they actually do something lovely. There is a beautiful part where one of the main characters recites a poem because what he has to say is too difficult to speak about normally, but just before you feel too sad about everything its back to martial arts. Check out Tokyo Zombie if you like Japanese comedy, zombie movies, surreal stuff, gore and, well … jiu-jitsu.

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Tokyo-Ga

I have been lying to you. All this time, all those films. All of them were lies. It all goes back to some point last year when I accidentally told the dvd renty people that I wanted to rent every single Wim Wenders film ever made. Rather than cancel said order I just let them all come, a wave of Wim if you will. It was a good, it slightly weird time. Eventually they stopped coming, replaced with meaningless stuff like Transformers II : Age of Empires. Or whatever it was called. They never did send every single one of his films, they had apparently lied about having all of them. Anyway, about a week ago I was looking through the list of films I had previously rented, and noticed…Tokyo-Ga. It was on the list, but I never wrote about it. For all the time the ‘every’ in EFIHR has been a fraud. A lie! For this I truly am sorry. It is made all the worse by the fact that the film is so brilliant. I decided to re-watch to make it all better. There is a moment where Wenders describes the power of unplanned, unscripted film moments, the shining beacons in the gloss and manufacture of Hollywood. It is perhaps self conscious, but no less brilliant then that one of the perfect moments of Tokyo-Ga is when one young man, dancing with his friends in the park and sharing their unique take on Americana, accidentally hits another in the face. The resulting apology says as much about Japanese culture as the meeting itself. Tokyo-Ga invites these kinds of reflections. It is kind of, something like Mr Wenders ode to legendary film director Yasujiro Ozu. Its so much more than this though. Really, it is one of the most honest travelogues you’ll see. Its like poking around Tokyo with a slightly aimless, philosophical wanderer. Sometimes Wims ramblings are a little detached from the visuals, but they are universally thought provoking, and its powerfully good film making, never boring and completely visually captivating. How much is it actually about Ozo? We’ll to be honest, its not about him very much at all on the surface of things, but as you watch you realise that really he is there all the way though, like a sort of ghost. It makes the final scenes all the more heart wrenching, and moving. Finally, with the appearance of Chris Marker and Werner Herzog its a kind of whose who of philosophically grounded cinema. One day the rest of those Wenders films will turn up at my door, and I promise not to forget to write about a single one of them.

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Hard Revenge, Milly : Bloody Battle

Not only does ‘Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle’ have one of the most brilliant titles ever, it’s also a stupidly good fun film as well. It comes out of the awesome woman revenge school that seems to be going great guns (pun intended) in Japan at the moment. It’s not the most original story, dystopic future, family killed by some bad guys (which may have happened in the first film, I have not seen) time to (unwillingly) get bits of your body replaced with weapons by a mad scientist and get some (bloody) revenge. Unsurprisingly, given that plot, the film clocks in at only just over an hour, more than enough time for all the fight scenes you need though. The film looks pretty good, given that it probably wasn’t funded through the roof with that title, there are some scenes outside which could easily have been from a movie with triple the CGI budget. The gore is classically executed, excessive artery squirting mayhem. All good fun. The bad guy spends a lot of time expounding the joys of being gay, which seems like a concerted effort to remind viewers that bad guys with awesome mechanical hands can be gay too, but really serves no plot purpose beyond that. The end sets up a third film as well, probably titled ‘Hard Revenge Milly : Artery squirters”.

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