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Penance (2009)

Penance (2009)

It's Blair Witch Project style y'all! With tapes found at the abandoned Lichtenstein Hospital for the Criminally Insane... though it's not all tape. They mix things. I wonder if Blair Witch did, I don't quite remember now...

It's the story of 24 y/o Emilia Wallace anyhow, who goes for a lucrative one-time side-gig as a stripper in order to make money for her son, and a dying man (so I thought - he seemed intent on ending himself too) who wishes to purify strippers in order to make penance with himself... or so I thought. Does he really think he'll get a place in heaven this way? Twisted minds sure are twisted but...

Graham McTavish plays the butcher - though why butcher in particular I wonder. Seems another name would've been more suitable.

Something more sadistic and twisted. Something less violent.

Michael Rooker contributes the violence - though his role is a small and temporary one - he's pretty much just there for beginning and end.

Marieh Delfino plays the main character. The young mother. She does get emotional. Good act.

They have a real pornstar in the mix too: Alice Amter, though no scenes as you might expect there to be with a movie like this.

It's not sexual. It's just... twisted.

The plot quickly becomes monotone too.

The violence is sedentary - showing aftereffects more so than actual brawls and brasher moments. It starts with a strip show and ends with a whipped hoe, interrogations, a hospital ward setting with well-played characters that does feel uncomfortable... but also unnecessary, and hard to believe, and very jumpy.

If this was real surely it'd play out differently. Surely they'd know who they were bringing to the ward - or they wouldn't care so much as to who they do bring. Surely... their twisted business would be worse than this is too.

It feels like a somewhat meaningless movie, though the actors did a good job.

Nice one with the toothpick too Michael. Imagine if it really did get stuck that way during some more intense part of that one scene...

 rated 2.5/5: almost not bad

Slow Burn (2000)

Slow Burn (2000)

AKA Wilder.

It's a cops and killer thriller starring the foxy lady from Coffy, Pam Grier, accompanied Romano Orzari as duo detectives, who first ridicule the love doctor Sam Dennis Charney (Rutger Hauer) for a bit, until they realize they all have more in common than they thought they did, and one of them falls in love with the other.

I recognize John Dunn-Hill in the cast too, though I wonder where from... it's a good cast overall. Pam's charming. Rutger's Rutger. They make a good couple.

It's also refreshingly slow compared to the thrillers of today. With equally genuinely sensual and gripping moments. Thoughit feels... lighthearted for a while. Until it doesn't. Until the element of radioactivity comes into play, and I realize what the title played at all this time - and I much prefer the Slow Burn one over Wilder, FYI. It's about a villainous scheme first and foremost, not about the detective, even if she's a leading role and she works well as one. I love her persona.

Feels like they didn't fully flesh out the ending though, and the film style gets weird occasionally: They jump frames and show multiple takes of the same scenes - something I notice more towards the end. It feels like sloppy cutting at that point. Like they forgot certain scenes and added them in later.

But for the most part this was really good.

Rutger Hauer's always good. Good duo too, him and Pam. Yeah I said that already, but it's unexpected. Even though he comes across maybe a little crazy all the way till it's over, and never a character that truly sways the story any one way. Apart from the autopsy then. It still feels like he's on the sidelines.

If you like thrillers you might enjoy this anywho.

Toodaloo.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Black Warrant (2022)

Black Warrant (2022)

A semi-retired special ops assassin and a DEA agent cross paths on separate missions to stop a cyber terrorist organization that has built a dangerous machine threatening to attack the power grid and bring catastrophe to the world.

It's that guy from the Sniper movies right...? Tom Berenger. Almost feels like an inofficial (I know that's not a word - I make the words - I am that unreasonable yet also prerequisite man of change in the world) sequel initially. No snipers but... same kind of black-ops agency type stuff.

HQ Mexico.

Yet they seem to make fun of Mexico too, with a main character who can barely annunciate the little Spanish he says, and Mexicans get little room to shine and show their skills, they seem like they're there more for a backdrop than an enhancement. Shame on y'all. Tom Berenger does that bit better.

After a while it's clear this movie isn't on par with the aforementioned Sniper movies at all. Not just with the Mexico thing but... with everything. It's decent. It's never great. The special effects aren't special. The dialog's alright. The cast's good. The sceneries look good. The choreography and scripting's a little lacking.

The main character's also Cam Gigandet, and though he's not bad I'm just... not a fan of his demeanor. That he's never truly vulnerable, maybe? That he never seems to be himself? I wonder why I'm not a fan. He seems like a solid dude. Maybe it's the scripting. Maybe it's just the role.

Jeff Fahey has a quick cameo too, and brief as it is it's a highlight.

Sara Seyed is good too.

That's it y'all. Decent action movie... no more no less.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Alien Agent (2007)

Alien Agent (2007)

Never thought I'd see a movie where Dominiquie Vandenberg beats up Mark Dacascos! It's sad to see a martial artist as good as Mark surrounded by mediocres, but at least he is the leading man. He's the hero here yo. And the movie - though clearly a budget one - ain't bad.

I like the premise. Aliens in human bodies taking over the world - a bit like The Faculty or We Live, with a little Prometheus or War of The Worlds mixed in... though in a different way. And the special effects are so much worse.

Unfortunately cannot call this a good movie. But it did leave me entertained, and I like the style. Even though so much of it is mediocre. They have real explosions and such - always a strong point when you compare to the crappy special effects you get with most action movies these days - even blockbusters. Good villains too. No excessive dialog. A romantic plot. It's got some strong points.

It's got some big names too! Apart form Mark there's also Billy Zane and Kim Coates. Also props Amelia Cooke and Emma Lahana - think I might've seen them in some movie before too.

So it's not all bad. I love the explosions. I love the directing. The fight choreography and special effects though are not as lovable. If all areas were as good as the good ones it'd be a grand one fo shizzle. But this? No... it's a hit or miss missile.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Drive (1997)

Drive (1997)

Kadeem Hardison is Malik. Mark Dacascos is Toby. James Shigeta is the bad boss - who you might recognize him from the original Die Hard!

The sidekick villains are prolific ones too - I recognize hedgehog at least...

Brittany Murphy was the girl - RIP 2019! Just 32 y/o. She's been on some diverse works, from 8 Mile to Sin City. I like her.

And this movie's just full of pleasant surprises! Like The Samu Hung reference. And the shoe fight. And the unexpectedly brutal chainsaw swing with the self-remedying hand. And the crazy but lovable young lady. And for a brief moment I'm also reminded of how unfortunately underrated Mark Dacascos really is, in both action AND acting. For a moment.

Okay never mind the acting. Not as much the acting. But definitely the action.

The choreography's both ferocious and witty, complete with traditional HK action stunts, fireworks, bullet marks, breaking glass and one fieeeery explosion - but also American bits, like the motel, and the car, and the ever so ominous quarry.

It feels like they tried to abridge Asian and Western a bit with both the choreography and theme. And with an Asian and Black duo instead of the typical black and white one. Before Jackie Chan came along for real - or around the same time? They have stunts that remind of both Jackie's old and concurrent movies, like the creative City Hunter, or earlier Police Story with the netted crate. Or zipline. Or glass. A lot of elements really. Same choreographer?

It's strange how this movie feels both ahead of it's time and behind it. Ahead in the US. Behind, as far as HK action goes. And thus it's become the forgotten gem it is, with a simplicity and style I look back on as... comforting somehow. And yet it's new! I definitely hadn't seen this one before, and though certain stunts and themes feel familiar it's not like they don't require skill to execute as well as they are. The actors and stuntmen make them stand out, and some of the co-ordination really is next level. Between Maiek and the other guy too. Just moments before Rush Hour. One year. They just changed the formula a little with that one, and voila, it's a hit.

Chow Yun Fat and Black Mask feels with the flying scenes too. With the mist. With the atmospheric blue light. With the bar. With the bridge. With the machines. And with the corporation and the perfect assassin... it's almost like RoboCop 3 meets Speed. Or older. Go back. To the days of Bullit and other classic automobile chase counterparts.

How many movies fetched inspiration from this? Or vice versa? There's so much. Just unfortunately also a level of comedy that sometimes just doesn't feel that suitable, and Mark is kinda distant as main man too. Maybe he's all the more used to being a villain; he does THAT so well.

JJ Perry on stunts here too?! Same guy who made Day Shift now. I recognize the crash test dummy work. Explains in part why the choreography was so good - but beyond the directing the actors definitely do their thing too!

Also: Too many loose ends. It ends too fast after the blast.

I'm somewhat comforted by the simplicity though... not that simplicity is synonymous with loose ends.

I wonder if the simplicity is more so in the style or the characters. The pace. How they interact.

There's something very human about it too. You'd think crazy stunts might take that away but no... very wholesome.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Blonde (2022)

Blonde (2022)

Marylin Monroe. The movie. And it's so friggin' sad!!! I need to watch something cheerful after this. Stepped into Blonde right after Remember, and though I do love a beautiful movie the both of these is a bit much.

She was born into trauma. Had a mother who didn't want her. Who tried to drown her in a bathtub. Was taken in by neighbors who sent her to an orphanage. Made her way to Hollywood and was raped. Married and was betrayed. Tripped and lost a baby. Got involved with the president and had a forced abortion. And yet she was just a sweet, innocent child, thrown to the wolves, to fame and celebrity, searching for a dad she never found.

They portray her as a bit dumb, the stereotype blonde, but also genuine and kind. Always willing. Always seeing the best in people. Quick to tears, emotional and probably a little crazy, but who am I to make a psychologic evaluation based off of the impression I'm given? A supposedly fictional one at that. The footnote is if you need help: call a hotline. There are people who care. And the Hollywood of all was passionate, and pompous, but not all glitter and glamour and good vibes. There's a darkness there.

I need to watch a happier movie ASAP. But Ana de Armas killed it as Norma here.

It feels true to the time too, and you do get a feel for how big a deal she really was, and why. Fictional or no she was wonderful.

I don't see why the critics bash this. The tabloids are a part of her story too. You wonder... who would she have been without them? Would she have found peace in another live? The one husband who truly stuck with her through thick and thin? Would be nice with a fictional recount with an alternative; more optimistic angle too.

A Marylin who's loved, and appreciated, and needs not say adieu.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

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