Kung Fu Yoga (Review)

Kung Fu Yoga

aka 功夫瑜伽 aka Gong Fu Yu Jia
Kung Fu Yoga
2017
Written by directed by Stanley Tong
Kung Fu Yoga
Jackie Chan is still a legend, and though he’s running past retirement age, he’s still out there punching bad guys in the face. We get plenty of action in Kung Fu Yoga, a sprawling archeological adventure that spans the whole of Asia while not forgetting to be fun on the way. Fans of CGI lion puking will be especially pleased with Kung Fu Yoga. In an era where Chinese blockbusters can be hit or miss, Kung Fu Yoga delivers a win, even though at first glance you would wonder if it could.
Kung Fu Yoga
Jackie Chan is Jack, the famous Chinese archeologist who is one of the best archeologists anywhere, even though he will repeatedly point out that he’s just one guy and there are many good archeologists in China. Jack is humble, see, but he’s popular enough that the mysterious Ashmita (Disha Patani) has brought an ancient map from her family’s archives that might point the way to the lost treasure of a Chinese army that went to India. We see parts of this flashback in the opening sequence in Playstation-3-o-vision, as CGI Jackie Chan, Aarif Lee, and Sonu Sood battle amidst elephants and nameless troops. Jack and his grad students – Xiaoguang (Zhang Yixing) and Noumin (played by famous yoga practitioner Miya Muqi) snag the son of Jack’s old archeology bud, Jones Lee (Aarif Lee Chi-Ting, and his name is far from the only Indiana Jones reference in the film!) to go treasure hunting! Also Eric Tsang is briefly there because his character owns an oil refinery company that can break through ice. Science and industry, synergizing together!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 8, 2018 at 9:35 am

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Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad (Review)

Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad

Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad
2017
Story by Enrico C. Santos & Juvy G. Galamiton
Screenplay by Danno Kristoper C. Mariquit, Daisy G. Cayanan, & Jonathan James A. Albano
Directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal

Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad
Well, it looked like 2017 was going to end with me seeing The Shape of Water as my last film in the theaters for that year, but the local multiplex decided otherwise by opening a Filipino super hero comedy unannounced! Thus I finished out the year with Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad! After taking one look at the trailer and seeing Vice Ganda in a rainbow wig and lipstick Sailor Moon outfit battling a bunch of villains meant it became the most important movie to immediately see right now! It’s weird and makes references I haven’t watched enough Filipino cinema lately to get, but it was easy to follow, had a lot of colorful effects, and for a modern Filipino super hero comedy wasn’t half bad! It was worth running out to see, as how often am I going to get a chance to watch a film like this? The theater just gave up and listed Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad as Revenger Squad, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we’re sticking to authorial intent, baby!

Gandarra (Vice Ganda) is a famous superheroine and her super friends battle against the evil Mino, who has been trapped in a mirror since a prior battle with Gandarra. He can still speak and influence the outside world, where he mind controls a villain named Madman and plots to steal the magical lipstick from Gandarra, from which she draws her power. In their climatic battle, Madman is killed and Gandarra suffers a head injury, resulting in amnesia. The remaining heroes resolve to raise the orphan son of Madman, Chino, as a normal child so he’ll never know his father was evil, and they all live together, keeping their heroic past a secret from Chino and Gandarra. As an aside, Madman had seduced Gandarra’s sister, Cassandra (Pia Wurtzbach), who became the supervillainess Kweenie in response, plotting with Mino to track down Chino after he gains super powers on his 21st birthday.
Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm

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Bleeding Steel (Review)

Bleeding Steel

aka 機器之血
Bleeding Steel
2017
Story by Leo Zhang Li-Jia
Screenplay by Cui Si-Wei and Erica Xia-Hou
Directed by Leo Zhang Li-Jia

Bleeding Steel
In the climax of Bleeding Steel, Jackie Chan battles goth cyborgs on a Star Destroyer in the futuristic world of 2020 to save his dead daughter who was revitalized with magic blood and a robot heart. That is just the tip of the iceberg here, folks! Moviepass has become a blessing, enabling me to go catch the various Asian flicks that sporadically appear unannounced at the local multiplex for a few days before vanishing into the ether. Chasing the Dragon, Never Say Die, and The Thousand Faces of Dunjia were all benefits of this, and when Bleeding Steel popped up in the listings while I was trying to find times for The Shape of Water, I knew merman love could wait a day! And thank goodness it did, because Bleeding Steel is one of the most bonkers films I have seen all year, it delights in being insane, continually going over the top and then continuing to climb and climb. I filled two pages of notes and then gave up because things were happening too fast to keep up with, and just enjoyed the ride!
Bleeding Steel
Jackie Chan is a super cop named Lin, who leaves his young daughter Xixi dying in the hospital (how many kids has Jackie buried in films now?) because he needs to lead the police escort of a mad scientist named Dr. James, who has switched sides and brought the magic biotech he was working on along with him. Despite there being around 50ish heavily armed police officers, that is not even slightly enough. The villain Andre appears (Callan Mulvey, from Captain America Winter Soldier and Batman v Superman) along with four goons dressed as Cobra B.A.T.S., armed with high powered weapons and a robot snake that plants bombs (and is never seen again or even acknowledged!) Andre is dressed like Emperor Palpatine, bald with pale white skin but his entire jaw is painted black (probably from chewing all the scenery!) He randomly fires grenades at the cops, and when a repeatedly shot Jackie Chan tries to run him over, Andre starts shoving the car! Jackie Chan does manage to blow up Andre, but Chan’s daughter dies alone, Jackie almost dies, every cop except Su (Erica Xia-Hou Qi-Yu) is dead, and the scientist is mortally wounded.
Bleeding Steel
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm

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The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (Review)

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia

aka 奇門遁甲 aka Qi Men Dun Jia
Thousand Faces of Dunjia
2017
Written by Tsui Hark
Directed by Yuen Woo-ping

Ni Ni Thousand Faces of Dunjia
The Thousand Faces of Dunjia isn’t just another martial arts film, it is a wuxia fantasy with science fiction elements, including alien invaders in search of weapons of ultimate power. It’s directed by Yuen Woo Ping,a remake of his 1982 The Miracle Fighters, except it is completely different, more of a remake in concept only. The script is by Tsui Hark, and it stars some great actors like Zhou Dongyu and Da Peng. The film should have worked, which makes the fact that it didn’t even more disappointing.

Ultimately The Thousand Faces of Dunjia falls into the same trap that has ensnared so many other Chinese films, it becomes as soulless as the big budget blockbusters it tries to live up to. In a weird example, the best scene in the entire movie is a mid-credits scene where they basically roast on some of the more ridiculous concepts that happened earlier. It’s the kind of heart and good-natured ribbing the rest of the film should have been filled with. There were some humorous scenes, but mostly slapstick style humor, nothing that is basically on the same level.

Despite the group of heroes being made up of a solid core of actors, the villains are largely CGI creatures. They mind control a few martial arts masters into their bidding, but it is largely just CG villains arguing with each other and vaguely working against the heroes. Basically the entire villain side of the film completely fails, and that sort of sucks. Of the CGI monsters, the initial fish monster is the most fun, largely because they designed it to look like a crazy stop motion creation running around. When the larger villains show up, one is made of a bunch of red tendrils while the other is like a gargoyle. One of the heroes also turns into a CGI character, a blue phoenix that is vaguely symbolic.
Zhou Dong-Yu Thousand Faces of Dunjia
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 21, 2017 at 6:57 am

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Dave Made a Maze (Review)

Dave Made a Maze

Dave Made A Maze
2017
Story by Steven Sears
Screenplay by Steven Sears and Bill Watterson
Directed by Bill Watterson

Dave Made A Maze
Sometimes life is a journey of frustration. Sometimes every direction you turn just ends up in the same dead ends, you feel like you are going no where and stuck in the same rut you’ve always been. Dave Made a Maze takes this and runs with it, throwing in some millennial angst to churn the butter. It isn’t just about a guy who made a maze out of cardboard. It’s about the passion of wanting to make your mark in the world and getting totally lost and overwhelmed while doing so. Dave Made a Maze is not for everyone, you’ll do better if you haven’t hit your 40s or if you spent years of your life wandering in an aimless haze, thinking you were destined for great things but never actually making or achieving those great things.

There is a lot of love with the design of Dave Made a Maze, it takes a lot of care to make things look so good at looking so cheap. The effects are crafty, like the whole thing is an Etsy project that began multiplying and mutating out of control. The walls are made of a million cardboard boxes sacrificed for the good of art. There are traps in the maze, the traps are lethal, people die, but their blood is an explosion of red strings and glitter. Like all good labyrinths, the layout is constantly shifting, this maze is growing, and there is a minotaur running around. At one point the characters become paper bag puppets, and there is a mysterious seductive vortex that looks suspiciously like a vagina.
Dave Made A Maze
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 27, 2017 at 7:16 am

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Drink Slay Love (Review)

Drink Slay Love

Drink Slay Love
2017
Screenplay by Eirene Donohue
Based on the novel by Sarah Beth Durst
Directed by Vanessa Parise

Drink Slay Love
A vampire novel about a vampire girl in high school that falls in love with a human, it’s Twilight in reverse! With a bunch of extra stuff thrown in to make the perfect YA fantasy novel. Combine that with a director that obviously knew the material needed to get some campy elements thanks to airing on Lifetime, and some actors delivering some neat performances (and a few skeletonizing the scenery every second they are on screen!), we get a surprisingly entertaining but incredibly cheesy flick with Drink Slay Love!

Vampire teen Pearl (Cierra Ramirez) is confident, way confident, so confident that life is but a bore as she’s so confident she’s already done it all. The invincibility of youth mixed with the actual invincibility of vampires. That all gets shattered like the mirrors that she can only vaguely see her reflection in (it’s complicated!) when she discovers she can survive in the sunshine! Sure, this happened right after a mysterious attack where she almost died but woke up fully healed at home. Suddenly a whole new world is open to her, but only her, the rest of her clan is still killable by the sun.

This coincides with the King of the Vampires deciding the family will host the 100 year huge party where everyone feeds the King their blood and then drinks his blood, which means everyone serves the King. Which isn’t all sorts of screwed up at all. To feed all the vampires coming for the party, Pearl is sent to school to recruit a whole host of victims, as vampires must be invited into houses and high school means she’ll be invited to slumber parties. Or would be if she wasn’t a goth girl. We all know she’s going to soon fall in love and the script gets flipped.
Drink Slay Love
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 22, 2017 at 8:09 pm

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