The Stalker Club (Review)

The Stalker Club

The Stalker Club Lifetime
2017
Written by Barbara Kymlicka
Directed by Doug Campbell

The Stalker Club Lifetime
Lifetime does slashers! Throw in a dash of The Internet Will Murder You, toss in a pile of stalking, and pour in a bunch of actual person in a mask killing teens with a knife, then blend it together and top it with a “Lifetime” cherry, and you got The Stalker Club, which proves that Lifetime movies can be any genre they want. For those of you thinking an actual slasher movie would be out of place on Lifetime, this network consistently puts out films with high body counts and crazed obsessives following around innocent teens, this is the natural progression!
The Stalker Club Lifetime
The Stalker Club opens with a riff on the opening of Scream except the masked stalker doesn’t speak and the 80s girl dies by falling down the stairs while hinting she sort of knows whats going on. But it’s too late for her and too late for us because the rest of the film takes place 30 years later! Modern day opens with a montage of the five main teen characters doing a slow-motion cool walk complete with a name title cards for each one, a handy thing to do to get you up to speed with the characters quickly so the stalking and the clubbing can begin. We got Ashley (Kelcie Stranahan), our heroine; Darren (JT Neal), Ashley’s handsome boyfriend; Chloe (Alex Frnka), the bad girl who channels Denise Richards; Mark (Paul Karmiryan), the jock who likes to joke; and Sadie (Lora McHugh), the sensitive goth. The clique is sort of weird because Chloe and Mark are the popular kids, while Darren is new to school and befriended Mark, while Sadie is presented as Chloe’s best friend but doesn’t seem to fit at all. Ashley is the newest one of the group, Chloe doesn’t seem to like her and Ashley has basically abandoned all her former friends to hang out with this cool crowd. Ashley also is mad at her mom (Maeve Quinlan) for daring to have a boyfriend when it’s only been two years since her dad died in a car accident. Seriously, Ashley takes some warming up to before we don’t wish she gets stalked to death.
The Stalker Club Lifetime
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 5, 2019 at 6:30 am

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Jailbreak (Review)

Jailbreak

aka ការពារឧក្រិដ្ឋជន
Jailbreak
2017
Written by Jimmy Henderson and Michael Hodgson
Directed by Jimmy Henderson

Jailbreak
Jailbreak is here to sooth your itch of martial arts mayhem in a confined space while non-stop action goes off. It is justifiably compared to The Raid as it is a film that came out of nowhere and showcases a bunch of martial arts from a country that wasn’t known for producing martial films. In this case, it is from Cambodia, and some of the characters practice an art called bokator. A prisoner escort mission goes awry when outsiders want the prisoner dead and manipulate a mass escape, trapping the heroes inside the prison. What follows is characters fighting their way out and attempting to survive while also reluctantly trying to save the prisoner from also being killed. While Jailbreak does not equal The Raid in the sheer awesomeness of the fighting spectacle, it’s still pretty darn good and will make action fans plenty happy!
Jailbreak
Cop Jean-Paul (Jean-Paul Ly, Jailbreak keeps it simple with the cast names!) has just be assigned to the Cambodian police as part of an exchange program (He’s mixed Cambodian-French from France, and though he speaks French and English, his Khmer is pretty rusty) He attempts to bond with the the main trio of Dara (Dara Our), Tharoth (Tharoth Sam), and Sucheat (Dara Phang), but tough guy Dara rebuffs all his attempts to be friendly. Dara and lady officer Tharoth have a friendship but that doesn’t extend past that, while Sucheat is the comic relief whose non-police look is explained as him just getting out of undercover work. They are supposed to bring a criminal known as Playboy (Savin Phillip) to prison so he can testify later as to who the real leaders of the notorious Butterfly Gang are. Said leader is Madame Butterfly (Céline Tran), who decides Playboy should be Deadboy and makes multiple attempts to have him killed before he even gets to the prison. Due to bad luck and the officers’ paranoia, all the attempts fail, so she’s resorted to bribing the prisoners to riot so Playboy can be killed in the chaos. But when that many bad people are let out at the same time, there is conflict and chaos, and things don’t go according to plan.
Jailbreak
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 29, 2019 at 6:28 am

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The Mermaid (Review)

The Mermaid

aka 美人魚 aka Mei Ren Yu
The Mermaid
2016
Written by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi, Kelvin Lee Si-Zhen, Ho Miu-Kei, Lu Zheng-Yu, Andrew Fung Chih-Chiang, Ivy Kong Yuk-Yee, Chan Hing-Kar, and Tsang Kan-Cheung
Directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi

The Mermaid
It isn’t really a secret that I’ve been less than enthused with the movie industry coming out of China in the past decade. As more and more Hong Kong stars and directors get lured away by big budget Mainland firms to pump out soulless imitations of Hollywood blockbusters, my interest in what they do great grows less and less. A few directors are working against the trends, but the only one with the clout to basically do whatever he wants is Steve Chow. Though Chow took extended time off in front of the camera to work more on the production side, his return to directing has been a welcome development. First he came back with Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, and soon after with The Mermaid, where Chow returns to his roots with a love story buried beneath a bunch of other movies. The Mermaid went on to slay at the box office, becoming the highest grossing film in China (not any more, lol!)
The Mermaid
The Mermaid feels like a first draft of a love story that everything else was stapled around. Some of the side scenes are amazingly awesome, while others fall short and seem weird. Overall there just isn’t enough in the rest of the film to seem like a filling meal. Chow obviously saw the Dolphin Cove documentary as we even get actual footage of the dolphins being slaughtered multiple times throughout the film, and the imagery is used again when the humans attack the mermaid hideout. The US military’s sonar that kills sea life is also mentioned, though here it is sonar developed by a company that causes fish to explode and damages the mermaids, leading to their hiding out in a cove. Tossing this stuff into a comedy is a brave move, and while not pleasant to see, helps put actual stakes on the table both within the film and in real life. Some people might think twice about where the food they eat comes from.
The Mermaid
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 22, 2019 at 6:34 am

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Red Pier (Review)

Red Pier

aka 赤い波止場 aka Akai Hatoba aka Crimson Seaport aka Red Quay aka The Left Hand of Jiro
Red Pier
1958
Written by Ichirô Ikeda and Toshio Masuda
Directed by Toshio Masuda

Red Pier
It’s Nikkatsu Action time again! The film genre is so consistently entertaining that it will be a constant reoccurring theme here (or at least the films that have gotten releases on digital media are the entertaining ones, as there are piles of films that still don’t seem to have any sort of legitimate release even with 20 years of cinephiles screaming about it. But we work with what we got, and what we got is Akai Hatoba, aka Red Pier, but also known as Crimson Harvest as well as a few other titles. It’s supposedly a reworking of a French film called Pepe le Moko, but everyone who claims this also mentions they haven’t seen that film, and I’m afraid I have to add myself to that total, so who knows? What I do know is director Toshio Masuda revisited this story a few years later with Velvet Hustler in glorious color. But this is the OG yakuza on a pier outwitting his enemies while also being in love with a lady whose brother he helped kill film.
Red Pier
Lefty Jiro (Masuda regular Yujiro Ishihara, I Am Waiting, Rusty Knife) hangs at Kobe Harbor running the joint for his gang. He was formerly from Tokyo, but due to some trouble he’s been hiding out here “keeping a low profile”, in that he’s still involved in people being killed but never with enough evidence for the cops to do anything about it. A cool local policeman, Detective Noro (Shiro Osaka), spends most of his spare time hanging out at the harbor determined to catch Jiro doing something bad, but also sort of likes him as a friend. Noro is always snacking on something, and is around so much the other criminal elements tolerate his presence even if they know they have to do extra work to snark around behind his back.
Red Pier
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 15, 2019 at 6:20 am

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The Bravest Revenge (Review)

The Bravest Revenge

aka 武林龍虎鬥 aka Wu lin long hu dou
The Bravest Revenge
1970
Written by Tin Goh
Directed by Kim Lung

The Bravest Revenge
Can you believe there is a Polly Shang Kuan film where her parent is killed and she has to seek revenge? I know, right? That only happens in like 99% of the films she did, and it happens here! Revenge will be gotten, and of the bravest sort, at least that’s what the title claims! We all know who Polly Shang Kuan is, so no need to do a deep dive into her, but if you want to know more we covered her in an Infernal Brains podcast and she has an active tag on TarsTarkas.NET with plenty of wonderful films! Tien Peng is his usual heroic self as Sword King Tsai Ying-che, and Yee Yuen hams it up as the glorious villain like he usually does in films such as The Flying Swordgirl

Director Kim Lung (aka Chien Lung) helmed Taiwanese flicks in the 60s and 70s, many featuring revenge themes and many featured female protagonists. Among his films are these cool-sounding ones from 1966 – The Lady Spy, The Flying Killer, and Queen of Female Spies Jin Gang. He also directed 1967’s Dragon Inn, not to be confused with the classic King Hu 1967 Dragon Gate Inn. Most of his filmography is either unavailable or known only to those who collect Taiwanese kung fu movies, and Bravest Revenge might be his best known film now.
The Bravest Revenge
Bravest Revenge is actually pretty good for a standard murder revenge kung fu movie, because it has huge fight sequences. There are multiple scenes of characters carving their way through dozens of people like butter in giant choreographed fights, they are fantastic! The last 30 minutes is an almost non-stop battle through themed stages of a giant fortress as the heroes slice through goons and are only occasionally slowed by the various mini-bosses. If this came out today this would be accused of imitating a video game, but it is from 1970 and all we had for video games then was things like Spacewar!, so maybe it is more accurate to say all video games stole from Bravest Revenge!
The Bravest Revenge
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 8, 2019 at 6:09 am

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Lost In Apocalypse (Review)

Lost In Apocalypse

aka 末世人间道 aka Mo Shi Ren Jian Dao
Lost in Apocalypse
2018
Written by Sky Wang, Baiying Wu, and Fei’er Zhao
Based on the comics by Ruibo Cao
Directed by Sky Wang

Lost in Apocalypse
It wouldn’t be a film festival if I didn’t offer up a review of everything I saw there, and the final entry in the recent Another Hole in the Head Film Festival that I went to is Lost in Apocalypse, a tale of zombie attacks set in Mainland China. While the film isn’t bad, it was the least of the three films I did go see, the other two being Ghost Squad and Galaxy Lords, hence why I switched order for once and Lost in Apocalypse got caught in the crossfire. As regular readers of TarsTarkas.NET have probably figured out by now due to the dearth of reviews, but we don’t really watch zombie movies much at all. It just is a genre that got so over-saturated so quickly that I just didn’t want to sit through a bunch of boring ones. So automatically by the fact that I went to go see this one, you know it isn’t a run of the mill zombie story, but something good and worth watching.

We follow a group of characters that have to fight their way out of a zombie-infested hotel only to end up at an industrial plant where the zombies might not be the worst things around. (Spoilers: they aren’t, because Lost in Apocalypse follows the rules of good zombie movies and has people and their failings be more of a monster than anything else going on) There is Jack (Martin Yang) the school dropout working as a driver for Rich (Mingyi Yang), who is a jerk but Jack is loyal because he was the only one who would give him work when he was desperate. There is Helen (E’Naan Zhang) the news reporter who is caught in the trap of the only way her career will advance is if she sleeps with someone. Jack is involved in a business deal with Director Wu (Jia Fengzhu), which has something to do with schools but as we learn Director Wu has his hands in many pots and some of those pots are full of things that grab back. Jack reconnects with his old friend Michael, their paths diverging long ago due to Jack leaving school while Michael going on to become a successful reporter and family man. But before the deal can be finalized trouble bursts literally through the front door as a zombie comes in the room and people start getting chomped. There is a desperate stand as people who don’t necessarily like each other have to work together to try to escape, and due to a plot framing device we know several of them aren’t going to make it to later in the film.
Lost in Apocalypse
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 28, 2018 at 6:35 am

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