The Brutal River
Hey, America is not the only country that can produce SciFi Channel films where a giant CGI animal kills people; Thailand can create them as well! Even though it probably has no chance of ever appearing on the SciFi Channel, Brutal River is in spirit similar to the many dozens of films that premiere to the world on that network. Sure, the opening scrawl claims it’s based on a true story, but CGI carnage is the same in every language. A few problems, the pacing is way off, and the movie has habits of dragging, making it seem like it’s much longer than it is, while SciFi Channel flicks usually try to show the monster every 10-15 minutes or so for fresh kills. Oddly enough, other parts of the movie are pulled off quite well, as the film jumps back into quality B-movie territory. Thai film has received a boost recently due to the works of Tony Jaa becoming popular, the quality film Beautiful Boxer, and works of director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Thai horror has also started to creep around into the public conscious thanks to the general Asian horror leakage. Thus, Brutal River is born! The best selling point of The Brutal River is one of the neat poster one-sheets, which is included with the rest of the screencaps here. I don’t want to say that Brutal River is a terrible film, but it’s just infected with its plot slowdowns ruining the pacing of the film worse than a rogue crocodile would ruin the local canal of a Thai village. That makes it a terrible film, even if you can get enjoyment from it.
Though I’ve watched several Thai films (okay, 2 Thai films), I am still a novice in identifying the actors and local nuances that define Thai cinema and culture. Chartchai Ngamsan (who plays Nong) seems to be the local heartthrob to bring out the ladies. He’s probably best known over here for the cultish Tears of the Black Tiger. Chirapat Wongpaisanlux (or Jirapat Wongpaisarn as she went by in this film) playing Pikulwould be one of our hot women, as well as Lukana Lisani (playing Ked) as the other hot girl. Following traditional Asian fame, many of these people probably have singing careers in addition to their acting careers. It would be nice to know any of that, but English information on any of them is scanty, and Google translations are far more miss than hit. We’ll just make up some facts to fill out the rest of the paragraph. Chartchai Ngamsan owns a riverboat casino and spends most of his non-acting time singing lounge acts onboard. He is the best Robert Goulet impersonator in Asia. Chirapat Wongpaisanlux spends most of her spare time spelling her name in various different ways so she’ll never be credited under the same spelling twice. This compulsion is due to her being trapped alone in an empty closet as a child with only a Scrabble board game for company.
The Net 2.0
Nikki Deloach as Hope Cassidy
Sebnem Dönmez as Roxelana
Demet Akbag as Dr. Kavak
Keegan Connor Tracy as Z.Z. Jackson
Neil Hopkins as James Haven
Güven Kirac as Osman
Directed by Charles Winkler
A rehash in the hashiest sense, The Net 2.0 is not only an inferior photocopy of the previous film’s plot, it ramps up the clichés to an exponential factor in reverse proportion to its shrinking in scope. In place of Sandra Bullock, we have Mickey Mouse Club alum Nikki Deloach (who went from a Mouseketeer dating N*SYNC’s JC to making DTV films in Turkey) as Hope Cassidy. That name wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t keep repeating that Hope was all she has left (Following which we let loose more vomit than the sum printed on every Garbage Pail Kid sticker!) Being that the world was screaming for a sequel to The Net, to answer all those lingering questions left over from the TV series, such as “Are those Pi Symbol guys defeated?”, “Was that the movie that turned Dennis Miller from hilarious comedian to unfunny rightwing shill?” and “There was a TV series???” Instead of keeping the international conspiracy angle, this cheapened version also cheapens the plot, turning it into a simple robbery. This dropping of the conspiracy eliminates the only interesting angle of the original, while instead of an international supergroup the villains turn out to be just a pair of one-dimensional goons. WOOOoooOOOoOOOoOoOoOO! Fear the one-dimensional goons! They will erase your identity if you ever take a job in Turkey! Well, maybe you can get a job in a Cuneyt Arkin film, or the DTV Cocktail 2: Cock Harder!
Having never seen the TV series, I have no idea if it was cancelled in the middle of a plotline that this was originally intended to answer. Since 2.0 has zero connections story-wise, it was probably not greenlighted to finish any stories, but to jump onto the cash cow of DTV (Direct to Video) sequels that are now plaguing Blockbuster and Hollywood Video like locusts in Biblical Egypt. Movies like Single White Female 2: The Psycho, Species III, Wild Things 3: Diamonds in the Rough, and House of the Dead 2 pull in enough of a profit in video presales before they’re even released to make it worthwhile, so director turned producer Irwin Winkler placed his son in charge of direction (the original title was The Net 2.0: Nepotism) so they’d rake in all the dough, making the Winkler family even richer, and it’s not even Henry Winkler’s family. Can’t the Fonz catch a break? At least he was on Arrested Development.
With all the magic hacking power of the two villains, one wonders why they had to resort to this identity erasing as a frame-up for their robbery when they could put it to good use ripping off slightly smaller targets that would still make them rich enough to never have to work again. There are literally thousands of unsecured and easily accessible places to go, for people with that super power of hacking. The same super power of hacking that Matthew Broderick had in WarGames, or Wolverine possessed in Swordfish, these two idiots are using to goof around, and the heroine is even more super powered than them. Scary note on the WarGames reference, WarGames 2 has been greenlit for DTV! I’m sure it will be just as terrible as the title sounds.
Lady Iron Monkey
aka The Ape Girl aka Zui Hou Nu
Starring (This is guesswork)
Fung Ling Kam as Ming Ling Shur (the Ape Girl)
Lap Bo Au as Drunken Monk
Sing Chen as Prince Yan Shing
Man Tai Lee as Evil Advisor
Lo Lieh as Assassin Millenrapen
Directed by Chi-Hwa Chen
Lady Iron Monkey (or The Ape Girl as it was known before producers tried to cash in on Iron Monkey getting a theatrical release in America) is a pretty fun flick that takes us to a world where a girl is raised by monkeys, and uses her monkey abilities to become a master of kung fu. She beats up plenty of people along the way, and her monkeyness gets her into several spots of trouble. The films doesn’t take itself too seriously, bordering on campy, but is serious enough that they don’t do any of the annoying “acknowledging that they’re in a movie” type stuff. The goofiness allows the movie to flow quickly and to the point, and you get disarmed from questioning the logic of certain events. In addition, some of the plot is centered on actual Chinese history, though that is prevalent in many Chinese Kung Fu films, some of which is ruined by terrible dubbing. Even if this is just a response to Charlton Heston demanding damn dirty ape stinking paws off him, it’s still pretty entertaining. Actress Fung Ling Kam/Gam Fung-Ling (or Kim Fung Li as she’s billed as) wasn’t in many films, IMDB has this as her sole credit and I only found two more that even listed her (thanks to Google) titled Iron Bridge Kung-Fu and The Gloomy Tower (aka Shaolin 36 Beads, which was released on DVD – UPDATE: I recently saw The Gloomy Tower and Gam Fung-Ling is nowhere to be found) IMDB being incomplete regarding Asian cinema? I never!! At least they even have a listing for this film. Lady Iron Monkey also has early roles for Lo Lieh, who plays an assassin and would go on to be a very famous martial arts star; as well as Chen Sing, who also had a long career despite not reaching the level of fame as Lo Lieh. With this information here, we will seemingly become the leading resource for information about The Ape Girl/Lady Iron Monkey
The opening credits is the traditional 1970′s kung fu movie opening with the star posing different stances as the credits run by. We get Ming Ling Shur, the Ape Girl, dancing around doing her monkey style kung fu, and who is she joined by? A chimpanzee! Chimpy is flipping around, doing some of the same flips and jumps Ming Ling Shur does as well. The print is pretty scratched up, but it’s suddenly clear as day when the title appears (because it’s a retitle.) Ming Ling Shur is a hairy girl, with hair on her arms and monkey makeup on her face. She’s also pretty good at acting like a monkey, with big, exaggerated movements. It adds to the charm of the film, as does the Ape Girl Theme which plays during the lighthearted moments. This is a film about an ape girl, it isn’t going to be the most serious thing in the universe.
Nihat Ileri as Professor Hodja Ekrem
Özgü Namal as Sedef Ekrem
Dilek Serbest as Ceren
Ipek Tuzcuoglu as Ayse
Ebru Ürün as Zeynep
Ece Uslu as Ayden
Okan Yalabik as Cemil
Directed by Orhan Oguz
Watch Büyü and you will die, die, DIE!! Well, the theater will burn down! Okay, one theater, during opening night. And you might not die. In fact, no one died. But the movie is still cursed! Or not. Well, it sucks, so maybe it is cursed… Yes, the Opening Night Premiere truthfully ended in an inferno of the theater, but everyone got out okay. This fueled the curse speculation that lead to Büyü becoming a smash hit in Turkey. Note to self: burn down theater at premiere party for new independent film about a cursed film that burns down theaters in Turkey, make millions! Büyü is an attempt at some more serious horror, a shift away from Turkey’s history of goofy film. Instead, they borrow from some more obscure Western films and combine it with their own folk lore. Büyü, or Buyu as well call it from now on for ease of typing, translates to “Magic”, specifically Black Magic-type spells. The specific black magic is a ghost that slaughters a whole expedition of Turkish Archeologists, all of which but two are hot Turkish women. Turkey may have some problems, but their archeological departments must be funded to the hilt to attract all these hotties. Maybe they all think they’ll run into Harrison Ford or something. Some things never change in Turkish cinema, even back in the wild 1970′s and 1980′s they still packed their films full of bodacious babes, and the tradition lives on with Buyu and Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. Both films also have lots of blood and gore, another Turkish tradition. Some things have changed, though, for Buyu obviously is a more expensive offering than such cult films as Kilink or 3 Dev Adam, but it lacks the sense of fun and enjoyment those films offered. In that fact, Buyu is far much more of a failure than the Turkish Pop Cinema disasters that Turkey is better known for in the cult circles.