Category Archives: action

Extraction

extractionDirected by Chris C. Miller, Extraction opens with CIA field operative Leonard Turner played by Bruce Willis. The scene is an important part of the story because his wife is killed by the bad guys, and he prevents his son from being killed as well.

Next, we see his son Harry, played by Kellan Lutz, and it is ten years later. He followed his father’s footsteps and is a CIA agent.  He is training under the keen guidance of Leonard’s best friend Ken played by D.B. Sweeney. Harry wants to be a field agent like his father but keeps getting turned down. He is assigned to a project involving a top secret piece of electronic equipment called CONDOR. It is pretty powerful and can control anything electric.

Leonard is sent on a mission to purchase CONDOR and gets captured. Harry finds out and wants to save his father, but is told to stand down. Harry figures out who captured his father, but the CIA says he isn’t strong enough to help save his father and send him home with an armed escort. Harry breaks away and sets his sights on saving his father.

Victoria Phipps, played by Gina Carano, is assigned to the case. She is one of the best field agents, and to make the story more interesting, a former lover of Harry. She lets him join her and help track down CONDOR, find his father, and take down the bad guys. Time is the key to pulling this all off, and they have to work fasts. The story has some twists and turns and confusion occurs on trying to figure out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.

Seems like a pretty good action movie, but in all honest it isn’t that great. Technical glitches with the overall sound and vocals are disconcerting. The odd edit cuts and jumps prevent the flow of the story. On top of that, I enjoy watching Carano do her action stuff, which I have seen in her other movies. She’s great, but in this movie, she doesn’t do all that much. I mean, she is a former MMA fighter. Let her show her stuff.

All in all, I really wanted to like this movie, but it started off great and went downhill from there.

Mi-5

MI5Kit Harington plays a former MI5 agent, Will Crombie, who investigates the disappearance of Harry Pearce played by Peter Firth when he is blamed for the escape of a ruthless terrorist. Harington is known for starring in Pompeii, and I happy to see him in a different role.

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, Mi-5 is a very compelling spy-thriller and conspiracy movie. I am amazed by all twists and turns the storyline follows. Even the end has a twist I wasn’t expecting at all. The movie kept me on my toes trying to figure out who is who and who is now who. Just one betrayer after another carries the story. The characters in the movie are very real in the sense they conflict with the spy work they do. Is it morally justified or for the great good? Nice touch on ethical choices, which is refreshing. “You are responsible for your actions.”

I did notice the budget constraints of producing this movie, but still the action scenes were skillfully done but not over the top. Just enough to hold my attention and believe the scenes were real. Some movies go way overboard on the action sequences, then I no longer believe in what is happing because it is just to unreal.

I heard that this movie is based on a British TV show called Spooks, and when the show was distributed to the States, the title was changed to MI-5.  With that, if you are familiar with the TV show, you will notice the same characters in the movie and be able to follow the storyline much better than someone who hasn’t seen the television show.

The Last Witch Hunter

the last witch huntVin Diesel movies make money and entertain in a simple but direct way. The Last Witch Hunter is a little different and not such a simple movie. Directed decently by USC alumni Breck Eisner, the movie is both largescale and commendable. Eisner crafts a distinct urban fantasy-horror universe, which looks different from other movies of the same genre.

The story begins in the past with a group of silver-haired warriors on an important journey to slay the evil Witch Queen, played by Julie Engelbrecht, responsible for placing a curse on whole the countryside. The warriors fight bravely with suspense and terror as if they are fighting a monster, not a witch. All in all, this part of the movie is very good.

The story moves forward to the present, we meet Kaulder, played by Diesel, who is an immortal hero with a very complex or angst personality. If you are familiar with Diesel’s characters, you know he is still sarcastic and badass as ever, making his dedicated fans over-the-top, hand slapping happy.  He teams up with Axe and Cross, a group of priests. Dolan played brilliantly by Michael Caine, works closely with Kaulder, but retires and unexpectedly dies. Kaulder suspects his death is caused by “dark magic beyond evil,” meaning the Witch Queen.

Eisner adds a lot of action scenes with some awesome scary scenes, a strong supporting cast, and plenty of really useful computer effects with vibrant monsters and crazy spells. However, the story has no surprises only clichés, yet it’s a Diesel movie, so no complaints either.

Elijah Wood is excellent as Kaulder’s sidekick, a geeky priest in New York City. He adds a lot to the story and production. I like seeing him with Diesel because they are so different in real life.

All in all, it is a pretty good movie and worth seeing if you are a Diesel fan.

Tooken

tookenDirected by John Asher, Tooken is a gut wrenching spoof from Liam Neeson’s Taken.  The movie is billed ‘…a retired CIA agent uses his special skills to get his beloved dog back from Albanian mobsters.”  The mobsters are lead by Brown Finger, play wonderfully by Margaret Cho.

It sure sounds ridiculous, and it is ridiculous as we follow Bryan Millers, played over the top by Lee Tergesen, as the counter version of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills. Some of the other cast held their own  like Money Maker, played by Reno Wilson, is very funny, and Dirty Lady, played by Barbara Ann Moore, is pretty funny, too.

If you look at other reviews on the Internet, you will see Tooken doesn’t have much to offer, though some might like it. It is surely not for everyone or just for a selected few with offending nudity and crude humor.  It is nothing but crazy and nonsensical comedy filled with immature situations. Yet, there is even a spoof on “Non-Stop,” which is kind of nice to see.  That is about as good as it gets.

I am not a fan of spoof movies, so I am biased. But, if you are a fan, then you’ll probably laugh your socks off because it is completely stupid.

The Condemned 2

TheCondemedIn the ring, Randy Orton is close to being WWE’s most lethal idol. Being a third generation wrestler gives him the DNA talent that makes him a legend in his own honorable way. “The Viper” is his ring name for the way he can strike like a snake from nowhere. By the token of his talent in the ring, one would think his acting hits the mark as well.

Directed by Roel Reiné, The Condemned 2 is not the ringer WWE fans would like to see. The movie is a sequel to the Steve Austin movie released in 2007. The movie was knocked out before the end of the first round.  Surprisingly, WWE Studios never throws in the towel, and the studio keeps making modicum movies with their wrestlers.

With the visceral of taking on the bad guys, Orton plays bounty hunter Will Tanner. Tanner and his team are on a mercenary venture with the intention of capturing a leader, played by Wes Studi. He runs a tournament where challengers are forced to kill one another in televised games. Tanner’s operation hits a glitch right off the bat, and his team misses out on any potential cash they would have been rewarded for the capture of the leader.  Identically, Will is in difficulty with the law because they are not happy with his day job as a bounty hunter.

Tanner turns into more than a wanted man once a newcomer to the games Raul, played by Steven Michael Quezada, recreates the televised games. Not only he makes Tanner primary target but it is not long before Will is kidnapped.  He is hurled into fighting for his life and survival against his former team. A flash of big shots betting on Tanner’s chance of survival is set among a lively cast of warriors and places Tanner up against interesting fighting styles.

Reine seems to do a decent job of directing with the budget available. He can blow things up with cookie cutter choreography mapping out a so-so plot. The hodgepodge, dull soldiers take whimsical shots at Tanner through rifle scopes. They even put him through a desert with land mines.  Still, nothing seems to work for the movie because so much potential is lost in the acting and budget constraints

Mercury Plains

Mercury PlainsDirected and written by Charles Burmeister, Mercury Plains stars Scott Eastwood as Mitch. He is in his twenties, unemployed, and lives in Jerkwater, Texas. Wedged in the back of a trailer with his mother and stepfather, he lacks ambition and bearing.  One day he decides to go across the Mexican border with a similarly lowlife buddy and find some adventure.  At the first sign of danger, his buddy ditches Mitch and leaves him in the throes of trouble.  Mitch seems to handle the situation without reservations, and grabs the attention of The Captain, played by Nick Chinlund. He is the local paramilitary leader, who observes Mitch’s lack of direction but the ability to think fast on his feet.  The Captain recruits him and gives him five thousand dollars if he joins his band of soldiers. The paramilitary group waylays drug gangs and places a nice dent in the drug industry.

The movie is a familiar story where The Captain has a drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend, played by Angela Sarafyan. She hooks up with Mitch, and they fall head over heels for each other. Meanwhile, the paramilitary team is made up of misfits. Most of them are in their late teens or early twenties while some younger boys in their tweens are also part of the military group.  The soldiers raid drug gangs and other dangerous elements, but these moments barely make the movie exciting. Mitch now has a purpose in life, but it doesn’t last long. All is not as it seems. Finally, The Captain confronts Mitch about his interested in his girlfriend. Given these points, the rest of the story is predictable all the way to the end.

Eastwood, who is the son of Clint Eastwood, is good as Mitch, and he is captivating on the screen, but he needs to pick better movies.

Four Warriors

FOUR WARRIORS 3d DVDDirected by Phil Hawkins and written by its star, Christopher Dane, the movie looks pretty good and is shot skillfully with clean camera work by David Meadows. Even the sets are decent and realistic as many of the scenes were filmed in the woods, and the locations come across convincingly. The cast did a fine job of acting, and that is about as far as the movie goes on a positive note.

The story is about four men who embark on a journey to fight the evil forces that threaten their land and loved ones. As fantasy and adventure collide, four battle-weary Crusaders take on a mission to track down an evil predator, foretold in an ancient prophecy, who has abducted all the men and children from a devastated village.

The obvious problem with Four Warriors is the low-budget production value because the movie is full of incomplete details or unbelievable make up and costumes. The characters are supposed to be battle-weary Crusaders, yet they look nothing like medieval fighters.  The actors are clean cut and fit, and look like a bunch of models attending a photo shot. The weapons are not authentic, looking truly fake, and the armor is way too dirt free and polished for the time period and situation.

The battles are extreme, but without the magical finesse needed to keep viewers interested throughout the story. The scenes never peak with ultimate threats of danger. The choreography of the battles missed their marks clearly, and it was way too obvious. The movie had demons that were not at all scary and looked too much like humans. The movie is being touted as similar to Games of Thrones meet Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, but I don’t see the resemblance at all, and a good reason to avoid this film.

Dragon Blade

Dragon BladeDirected by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is a fine example of the materialization of the growing motion picture market in China. The industry is so dominate in Asia that Western stars arrive on the scene in Chinese productions.  Like Dragon Blade, the movies are cultural dramas on a grand-scaled of historical epics.  Lee’s movie has done well as a moneymaker, gaining over $120 million in the China market.  The storyline is unique and pleasurable with Jackie Chan, John Cusack, and Adrien Brody. Cusack and Brody appear out of place in the empire of men swinging swords and wearing sandals, whereas Chan does a fine job of martial arts and plays a familiar role.

The movie transports the story back to 48 B.C. where Huo An, played by Chan, is a well-intended and compassionate leader of the Silk Road Protection Squad. His squad comes across as a dedicated group. Huo protects and fights altruistically in order to hold harmony for the sanctioned Road.

Thereupon, Huo and his men are framed for gold smuggling and are banished to Wild Goose Gate. They are required to rebuild an entire city in two weeks or be put to death. Clearly an impossible task, something miraculous happens, and they connect up with a lost Roman army. Command by general Lucius, played by Cusack, is a scoundrel. He immediately picks a fight with Huo. After the brawl, they become fast friends with singing, parades, and drinking. Lucius confesses he is trying to avoid being captured by the Romans and has a sick boy, Publius, played by Joey Jozef. The boy is the lawful heir to the Roman throne, and his evil brother, Tiberious, played by Brody, is out to assassinate him. He recently just murdered their father, so we know he is serious. With that in mind, Lucius’ men and other local tribes along with Huo turn the city into a symbol of the peace. Something Huo has desired for most his life.

The visuals are not only majestic but also ambiguous. Seeing Chan in a sword fight with Cusack is conflicting. We are in Asia and here is a Westerner. It is intriguing but unreal for an epic. The $65 million budget availed gigantic spectacles where Lee effectively created a war-torn China during the Han Dynasty.

This is purely fictional with no regard for historical authenticity. True. The Romans and Asians shared commerce and the Silk Road, but nothing more. The many battle scenes are exceptional with the combination of Roman fighting techniques and traditional Chinese martial arts. The movie is invigorating while witnessing the development of a friendship between Huo and Lucius.

Overall, Dragon Blade is a movie worth seeing with Chan outshining his Western co-stars.

12 Rounds 3: Lockdown

12 Rounds 3 LockdownWatching the movie gives no indication of the story being a sequel because it is so different from the previous 12 Rounds movies. The story has different characters and more action.  The other movies follow a man forced to complete a series of tasks within a specific timeframe. Lockdown refers the limited amount of bullets the main character holds in his gun in order to achieve his task in nailing the bad guys.

Directed by Stephen Reynolds, the story follows John Shaw, played by Dean Ambrose, who is a cop.  Shaw just returned from an extensive leave after undergoing a gunshot wound and the death of his rookie partner. Fellow officer Tyler Burke, played by Roger Cross, brings tension to the story because he is a dirty cop connected in a drug dealing venture. Rookie cop Jenny Taylor, played by Sarah Smyth, discovers evidence against Burke and tells Shaw. He investigates and confronts Burke and his team’s connection to drug dealing.

Burke needs to get rid of Shaw because he knows about his dirty dealings with drugs. So, him and his team evacuate and lockdown the entire police building. They are intent to hunt down Shaw and kill him. Shaw only has his revolver with one clip and 12 rounds, hence the movie’s title. That is not all. Shaw has more on his hands than just Burke and his gang chasing him down. He is being set up by Burke, who is making an effort to frame him. Burke is telling Captain Matthews, played by Rebecca Marshall, Shaw is responsible for the homicides during the lockdown. Officer Taylor is also locked in the building and doesn’t know who to believe or trust.

This sequel is comparable to the original Die Hard where there are many shootouts and fist fights.  The movie uses the same old action style, and it is worth watching if you are a huge fan of Dean Ambrose.

Heist

HeistDirected by Scott Mann, Heist follows Lucas Vaughn, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who works at the Swan Casino. The casino is owned by Mafia-Boss Francis ”Pope” Silva, played brilliantly by Robert De Niro. Luke’s young daughter is hospitalized, and is seriously ill in need of expensive treatment. The real problem lays in the fact that Luke did not keep up the Medical-Insurance payments. His daughter may not be cared for with the correct treatments if he doesn’t pay the medical costs. Luke asks his old friend and employer if he could help him out with a loan. The employer says “No Favors.”

Along comes fellow employee Cox, played by Dave Bautista, who plans to rob his employer and wants the knowledge Luke has to help pull off the heist. Cox knows Luke has worked there for many years and has the knowledge he needs. Helping Cox is the only way Luke can pay the medical costs, so he agrees to be a part of the heist to save his daughter’s life. He has his own ideas on how the heist should go, and the plan seems to work until security is alerted.

Gunfire ensues as they make a getaway in a bus with hostages. Now, they are pursued by the police. With Cox crazed and ready to kill a victim to getaway, Luke tries to keep things under control. The bus is being chased by both Pope’s bodyguards and the police.  Pope is interested in getting the money back before the police make an arrest because the money belongs to the mob, which the casino laundered.

Luke strikes up a rapport with one of the police officers named Kris, played by MMA’s fame Gina Carano. She soon understands Luke is the link to freeing the passengers on the bus without harm.

The whole situation gets very intense before it comes to an end. The movie is well worth the watch because the story is really good, and the acting matches the spirit of the movie. I recommend you catch it on demand or rent it.