Animal World (Review)

Animal World

aka 动物世界 aka Dongwu Shijie
Animal World
Based on the manga by Nobuyuki Fukumoto
Written and directed by Han Yan

Animal World
The trailer for Animal World featured a murder clown slicing and dicing his way through subway cars full of rejected alien designs from the Star Wars prequels. Also Michael Douglas was randomly in it. These things meant that of course I was going to go watch it if I got a chance, and thanks to the magic of it actually getting a release in America and MoviePass, I snagged me a seat as soon as humanly possible. It also meant that I saw two separate Michael Douglas movies in theaters in one week, as Ant-Man and the Wasp also dropped. This is what we call synchronicity, and further solidified the goal of seeing Animal World in theaters. While the trailers were almost entirely murder clown-focused, Animal World is actually a movie about high-stakes gambling, as in you play Rock/Paper/Scissors on a ship in international waters, and if you lose, you get experimented on until you die! Don’t worry, it’s even more weird than it sounds, yet I can’t say I was disappointed.

Zheng Kaisi (Li Yifeng) is your typical young guy with problems, in that his parents were brutally assaulted as a child, leaving his dad dead, his mom in a coma, and Kaisi imprinted with a cartoon of a murder clown that was playing on the television during the attack. Now, whenever he is stressed, he will start seeing images of the monsters and believes he is transforming into the murder clown himself and striking them down. While this leads to some ridiculous imagery, it doesn’t lead to a healthy mental life, which is why he’s working as a clown in an arcade and perpetually broke. He can’t even afford to marry his girl Liu Qing (Zhou Dongyu – This Is Not What I Expected), who works at a nurse at the facility his mom is kept at. This changes when his former childhood friend Li Jun (Cao Bingkun) reappears with a can’t miss opportunity to make money. We all know this will miss spectacularly, and now Kaisi is in massive debt. Big enough debt goons are following him. Goons working for Michael Douglas, who plays a bored bankster who has resorted to organizing death sports among people who have gigantic debts. I guess it’s more profitable than them dying in bankruptcy?
Animal World
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La Verdadera Historia de Barman y Droguin (Review)

La Verdadera Historia de Barman y Droguin

Directed by Gilberto de Anda
Written by Gilberto de Anda and Valentín Trujillo

La Verdadera Historia de Barman y Droguin is a Mexican Batman parody film, made in the wake of the Burton Batman film with a distinctly cantina feel. Because the characters are based out of a cantina and have alcoholic beverage themed logos. It betrays where the idea for the flick probably originated from.

For a Batman parody film, Barman y Droguin spends a good portion of the film dicking around before it gets to the point. And not even an origin story, the main characters go to a movies multiple times before things begin. Someone crams 50 pounds of Rambo parody in this 3 pound Batman sack.

Víctor Trujillo is a comedian and host best known for his character Brozo the Creepy Clown, but beyond being an anti-clown, Brozo is also a political crusader! In 2004, the Brozo show El Mañanero debuted hidden footage of corruption of political figures, including a tape of then personal secretary to former Mexico City mayor (and unsuccessful Mexico Presidential Candidate) Andrés Manuel López Obrador, René Bejarano (who was elected to the Mexico city legislature), accepting a $45,000 bribe. Mexican congressman Federico Döring aired the video on Brozo’s show, and Brozo crewmembers found Obrador in the same building and got him to agree to an immediate interview, where he was shown the footage for the first time and had to respond while shocked (he tried to play it off as a campaign donation from Argentinian businessman Carlos Ahumada Kurtz for another person’s campaign.) More bribery videos were released (it became known as the videoscandals) and more corruption was shown. Bejarano spent a year in jail before a controversial release, Carlos Ahumada Kurtz was arrested and fled the country, but was brought back and later acquitted and left Mexico for good. I can’t seem to find the video of the original incident, but here is part of a followup interview and you can see Víctor Trujillo as Brozo in all his glory.

A few years later (and no longer dressed as a clown, as Trujillo retired the Brozo show after his wife passed on, though Brozo makes occasional appearances) Trujillo once again made news taking down a corrupt politician, when he confirmed that there were inquiries into the fortune of Governor Arturo Montiel, a presidential precandidate. Montiel denied the charges, but his career was over. The evidence of corruption has only grown, despite another acquittal. Montiel has also been linked to a murder.

Mexican Batman is awesome. Christian Bale just yells at lighting guys.

We have a nice video toaster opening credits with all the characters drawn MSPaint style and run as a slideshow as the credits go by. Helps set up the non-serious tone.

Bruno (Víctor Trujillo) – Bruno runs a bar and has his hands full making sure his crazy friend doesn’t rob places. But then he dresses up as a bat and decides to fight crime. Weird. In the Mexican translations of the Batman comics, Bruce Wayne was called Bruno Diaz, and Dick Grayson was Ricardo Tapia. Hence the alter-ego names here.
Barman (Víctor Trujillo) – Barman wears a bat logoed Bacardi shirt. Fear the Barman! That cardboard batman figure above the name of the bar is totally not going to clue in anyone!
Ricardo (Ausencio Cruz) – Ricardo is a loser who tries to rope Bruno into his crazy schemes. But one scheme convinces Bruno, this Barman and Droguin scheme. Amazing. Ausencio Cruz was a longtime partner of Víctor Trujillo.
Droguin (Ausencio Cruz) – He’s not Robin, he’s Droguin! Get it right or pay the price!
Clown Guy (José Luis Cordero ‘Pocholo’) – This Clown Prince of Kidnapping takes the “kid” part literally and kidnaps a kid. Luckily, Barman and Droguin are there to also get kidnapped. There is no official name for the Joker knockoff I could tell, and he’s just listed as Secuestrador in the credits.
Female Reporter (Lizbeth Castro) – Hey, don’t yell at me, her character doesn’t have a name in the credits! All she gets is Periodista. So we’ll call her…Lois Lopez! Put on the Barman story, and helps Barman out of his car accident problem.
Pingüino (Ramiro Gómez) – Pingüino is just a dude who modifies cars and dresses up like the Penguin while doing so. It just makes sense!

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Discount Puppet Explosion 411 – Episode 105 – Biokids

Discount Puppet Explosion 411 – Two teams battle by reviewing awful films for fabulous prizes or horrible non-prizes. In this episode, Team Jawesome reviews the Filipino film Biokids and gets caught up in its awfulness. Will this be enough for Team Jawesome to win this round of the Discount Puppet Explosion 411 competition?

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Banglar Hero (Review)

Banglar Hero

Directed and Produced by Ahmmad Nasir

It’s time to crack open a big can of Bangladeshi cinema!

Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan, known as East Pakistan (and Pakistan was part of India under the British…) but a civil war in 1971 got them their independence. Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and due to close cultural ties with both Pakistan and India, Bangladeshi cinema resembles both of the neighbors. We have strong he-man characters with mustaches yelling at each other like Pakistani cinema. From India, we have songs, dances, and tragedy happening to the hero.

Bangladeshi cinema is based out of the city of Dharka, and thus is known as Dhallywood, because every region needs its own “-ollywood”! There is also Bangladeshi cinema produced in India for the large Banglar population there, based out of the West Bengal city of Kolkata, and known as Tollywood. This was actually not only the first Tollywood, but the first “-ollywood” as it is a play on the neighborhood of Tollygunge in Kolkata where many of the movie studios were located in 1932. Blame Wilford E. Deming of American Cinematographer for all these “-ollywood”s you can’t keep straight!

Banglar Cinema was already going strong under Pakistani rule, but after independence production exploded. But by the time the 1980s were in full swing, Banglar films were on the decline. Now, with increased competition from TV and satellite shows, Banglar cinema has more problems than ever. But it also has undergone a rebirth, with the latter half of the 2000s producing a lot of new films and new talents. Where will these talents take Banglar film in the 2010s? We shall find out as you do.

In what is sadly common in a lot of foreign vcds, the vcd company advertises their name throughout the film. In addition, they seem to either be covering up a previous company’s logo because they took over the distribution rights OR they are straight bootlegging it. So we got annoying logos pasted over annoying logos with annoying scrolling text pasted over annoying scrolling text. The key word is annoying. This is pretty darn common in vcd releases from the region, because deluxe edition DVD boxed sets with director’s commentaries and lame behind the scenes extras are not the economic model of cinema in many countries. Pumping out dozens of films a year as fast as possible for theatrical run and then saturating the area with vcds making sure everyone knows that Famous Person is the star is the way to go.

How ’bout that scrolling text graphic?

Inspector Abu, the Banglar hero, is played by a guy named Manna. Manna was born SM Aslam Talukder in 1964 and entered acting at age 20 under the name Manna. Over his lifetime, Manna acted in over 350 movies and became one of the biggest names in the industry. As General Secretary of the Bangladesh Film Actors Association, he lead efforts to reduce vulgarity in Banglar cinema. He died in 2008 of a heart attack, probably from the stress involved in ripping off yet another guy’s arm.

I am pretty sure that Dr. Masutke is played by Omor Shani (aka Omar Sani) – who is married to Mousumi who probably played the sister Asti. I am not 100% positive, partially because there are very few good pictures of Omar Sani online, and in the ones that are, Omar has changed his weight and look considerably. At some point it looks like he wanted to try out for a Nutty Professor The Klumps sequel, not realizing it was all makeup on Eddie Murphy. But I guess he kept the local restaurant industry afloat…

I found even less information on director/producer Ahmmad Nasir. Besides a few references to this film, there is nothing out there at all in English.

Inspector Abu (Manna) – The Banglar Hero himself! Inspector Abu is the baddest cop in the universe whose chief takes him off so many cases even the chief can’t keep up on the paperwork. Inspector Abu rips off arms, beats up thugs, guns down criminals, dresses as a clown, lobbies for immigration reform, gets most of his loved ones killed, and spends half of his life in jail. He’s sure, he’s soon, and he’s larger than life.
Dr. Masutke (Omor Shani aka Omar Sani) – Dr. Masutke is dating Abu’s sister Asti and will soon join the family. Except for when he lies against Abu in court then is gunned down protecting Abu. His name is a guess but it is very close to what they are saying.
Salma (???) – The wife of Inspector Abu, who tries to play tricks on her husband from time to time when she isn’t selling her organs to get her husband out of jail.
Asti (Mousumi) – Sister to Inspector Abu and engaged to be married to Dr. Masutke. Until Dr. Masutke’s untimely demise. Her name is a guess like all the rest
Daughter (???) – Inspector Abu’s young daughter who becomes a target of the bad guys after her mother dies.
Tubby Buddy (???) – Tubby Buddy is Abu’s one friend on the force who isn’t a corrupt jerk. But since Tubby Buddy can’t kick lots of butt, he has to suffer under the weight of all his corrupt bosses and try to help Abu when he can. Tubby Buddy is probably played by a famous Banglar comedian but I can’t figure out who he is.
Evil Dude (???) – The evil dude is probably played by a guy who plays a lot of evil dudes in Banglar cinema, but I don’t know who he is. But he sure is evil!
Corrupt Cop (???) – Abu’s boss is on the take, and is perfectly happy to have Evil Dude terrorizing the neighborhood. Abu just keeps ruining his plans!

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