Fantasia Festival 2017: Vampire Cleanup Department (2017)

Vampire Cleanup Department (2017)

vampire cleanup department

Director: Pak-Wing Yan, Sin-Hang Chiu

Cast: Babyjohn Choi, Min-Chen Lin, Richard Ng, Siu-ho Chin, Susan Shaw

Tim Cheung joins the Vampire Cleanup Department which is a secret task force for dealing Chinese vampire Goeng Si. He is instructed by his uncle Chau and he saves a female Goeng Si, Summer from her evil lord Goeng Si who buried alive her. – IMDB

For those familiar with the Mr. Vampire series decades ago and their introduction to the hopping Chinese vampires, the recent years has seen a resurgence to seemingly revive or perhaps catch Hong Kong’s own wave of the vampire popularity. In 2013, Rigor Mortis saw the debut directing work of Juno Mak get the cast of the originals and create a serious horror full of gore and symbolism. However, Vampire Cleanup Department this year aims to do the same thing but uses more of the horror action comedy angle, in turns more in vein with the original series while still taking the familiar actors. It feels like a true revival or remaster or perhaps modernized reboot of this Chinese cult favorite and not only appeal to the fans of the franchise but also grab a new generation and educate them about these hopping vampires. Screened in Cantonese, the English subtitles were done well enough to still carry the humor it wanted for the most part. We always like to make sure that the jokes will still carry well to an international audience.

Vampire Cleanup Department does many things right. It is hard to say that anymore in terms of comedy or horror. Two things the Hong Kong industry in general seems to have hit a snag as it settles for ineffective and trope-y horror or dumb and nonsensical humor. However, this movie is littered with clever jokes and puns and most of all, actors that deliver them seamlessly and perfectly. It also uses the CGI that they have access to in order to make these vampires and other action/horror effects feel more authentic and less campy. Its a re-skin and one that is done tastefully. For those who were too young when this released or never quite had access to it before or simply the new generation, Vampire Cleanup Department never forgets to educate its audience as it educates and trains its long awaited new blood. Using this story line works in this situation because we as the audience will also learn about how hopping vampires came to be, how to get rid of them as well as how this secret department originated as a new vengeful vampire is unleashed into the city accidentally.

Another great aspect of Vampire Cleanup Department is its veteran actors. Siu-ho Chin and Richard Ng are the main characters in this as they take a supporting role that links to the past. They are fun and entertaining. Siu-ho Chin contributes to a lot of the action as he is the younger of the original crew. Richard Ng brings a lot of the humor. Its truly hard to not feel nostalgic when watching them on screen as they have both been part of memorable films aside from the Mr. Vampire movies. They are the anchor of this film and despite the younger actors seeming to be a focus of the film. The scenes they are in keep the movie grounded as their opposite personalities in their characters also create a nice friction.

The one downfall of this flick truly goes to the young romance, Tim and Summer, played respectively by Babyjohn Choi and Min-Chen Lin. This factor is less to do with their performance but more with the more than familiar romance. Its sappy and redundant. In fact, the humor elements added into their budding romance makes it fun and cute however never lets us feel too invested either, at least not enough to feel emotional about their outcome. Sadly, the romance does take up a decent portion of the movie. While still successfully entertaining us for the most parts, it falls short from what the rest of the movie creates and could of been done a little more concisely.

Vampire Cleanup Department is a treat. Despite its rinse and repeat romance that doesn’t have the connection with the audience it is meant to have, everything else is done very well. It creates a beautiful balance of action, comedy and horror. It revives and reboots this Geong Si, aka hopping vampires, from the late 80s to 90s from the Mr. Vampire series. It also brings in some new blood to possibly (and hopefully) continue the franchise in a modern way. This film has found a way to keep itself self-contained while remembering to honor its predecessors by creating a link of the world the earlier movies created. It brings back the atmosphere those movies had while giving it a fresh look successfully.

Double Feature: The Fitzroy (2017) & Suicide Squad (2016)

The new structure for here onwards will be double features, my lovelies. If you want great full-length movie reviews, I can refer you to a ton of bloggers. At least it will be spoiler-free guaranteed as always. There may be some exceptions but for now, this will be the format for the most part.

This week’s double feature starts with one of the first projects that I backed on Kickstarter that finally made its premiere and as I am not in the UK, I received a 48 hours access to watch it digitally. Next up, we jump into a more action and comic variety of villains turned heroes in a way with Suicide Squad.

Lets get started! 🙂

The Fitzroy (2017)

the fitzroy

Director (and writer): Andrew Harmer

Cast: Cerith Flinn, Jan Anderson, Kenneth Collard, David Schaal, David Gant, Stuart McGugan

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950s. The world is covered in poisonous gas, and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel, an abandoned submarine just off the coast of England. The film centers on Bernard, the hotel’s bellboy, cook, maintenance man and general dogsbody, as he faces a constant battle to keep the decaying hotel airtight and afloat. But when he falls in love with a murderous guest, he is thrown into a mad day of lies, backstabbing and chaos. As Bernard struggles to hide her murders from the other guests and suspicious authorities, his world literally begins to sink around him. – IMDB

One promise that I make is when this comes out officially and I actually receive my copy of it that I’ll write up a full review on this. The Fitzroy arrived on a pretty busy weekend and we managed to squeeze out some time late at night to watch it. The Fitzroy is a compelling movie to watch. Its a tad predictable but the characters are so fleshed out along with a well-written and entertaining script that it has a lot of laughs and fun characters to watch come alive on screen. There is no doubt that The Fitzroy is indie though. There is a lot of charm to the movie along with creativity for the world they have set. Plus, it really is almost all set in one enclosed area with a few exceptions. The danger is also in its environment. The movie is extremely quirky and I mean it in the best way.

Kickstarter projects are always a toss of luck and I don’t remember when this project launched why I backed it and I am sure over the years, my taste on movies have shifted however, I had a great time watching this one.

Suicide Squad (2016)

suicide squad

Director (and writer): David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingue, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Leto, Scott Eastwood

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse. – IMDB

Once again, in case you are new here, I need to start with the fact that I have not read any comics so if this is based on any source material of that variety, for myself, this is a standalone. Also do know that I have not caught up with Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman so while I feel like the mention some of those events, I don’t know if there is a link however, Suicide Squad feels and is standalone for myself.

The best way to describe Suicide Squad is with the word fun. There is a lot of fun. Humor and a ragtag team of villains and fighting and the likes. With the cast they got, its pretty entertaining. However, my husband described it the best the end as he called it very comic-like in the way its made. It isn’t criticism since many movies do a great job using that approach. It is why it keeps it rather light. Suicide Squad also works as an intro to these characters in case we don’t know them: their stories and what motivates them to stay alive. It works because for myself, it didn’t feel like we were invading someone’s story.

Perhaps the best part of Suicide Squad is its cast. Will Smith is fantastic as Deadshot, Margot Robbie was incredibly entertaining as Harley Quinn: other familiar villains like Killer Croc has a role. I love Viola Davis a ton so her role here fit so well with her. I think if I was to rant a little would be the underuse of The Joker because it was played up so much in the publicity about how he did a fantastic job when he was there for like 5 minutes (or what felt like that). At least not enough for me to think that he did a particularly good or bad job. There’s so much here that is much more than that and that has to go to finally not focusing around The Joker which is something that us over at Game Warp have appreciated in some of the Batman games because its gives space for other villains to grow as well.

Suicide Squad still has a rather predictable flow of events however, the script gives these characters a little more than fluff and while it is very comic-like, it is really just an entertaining time.

Have you seen Suicide Squad or heard of The Fitzroy?

Double Feature: Violet & Daisy (2011) & The Gift (2015)

Welcome to another Double Feature!

Before we start, I’d like to apologize if things are and will be sporadic, they probably will still be for the next week. Real life work that pays the bills is taking a front seat right now and I foresee lots of overtime this week. However, if all goes as planned, there should be an unboxing this week some time and probably some reviews or TV Binge. The material is there, its just finding time and energy to write it up.

Today’s double feature is for Violet and Daisy & The Gift. Thrillers and a little odd. Probably The Gift deserves its own post but its a thriller and I don’t want to spoil it so just keeping it to myself although I’m fairly certain at this point, a ton of you have already seen it since a ton of people praised it when it was first released. Anyways, I finally got around to watching it. Violet and Daisy however is way overdue as I watched that on the train to Toronto for ComiCon so its over a month that I’ve seen it at this point.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Violet & Daisy (2011)

violet & daisy

Director (and writer): Geoffrey Fletcher

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo

Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan. – IMDB

Violet & Daisy is one odd and quirky movie. The reason for my choosing this movie is completely because I love Alexis Bledel (because of The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants and recently Gilmore Girls) and even more so, Saoirse Ronan who has never disappointed me even if the movie itself is not fascinating. Violet & Daisy may seem disjointed and way too weird for its own good but somehow it works and it has to do with the small but charming cast. Violet & Daisy are young teenage assassins out on a mission. They are each other’s best friends and have each other’s back especially as they fangirl and look forward to the newest fashion line by their favorite designer. It feels like they are everyday teenage girls except when a mission is given, they can also be incredibly brutal and efficient to get rid of their target. Their next mission is sent to kill a man who surprisingly seems like he wants to die and has someone else on his tail. This man who we never learn the name of is played by James Gandolfini and he delivered a wonderful performance as he changes what typically happens in these assassinations situation and in turn, open up Violet & Daisy and as we learn more about his story, we also learn more about Violet and Daisy’s which also puts their friendship or partnership in a dilemma.

Surprises and a pretty clever script gives these characters a lot of life. Even if it is weird and odd at times, there are some great moments and character development here that work really well. Not to mention, some really convincing performances in general. I liked this one a lot.

The Gift (2015)

the gift

Director (and writer): Joel Edgerton

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years. – IMDB

The Gift is a tense thriller however, perhaps the best part of it is the way it builds its characters up and fleshes them through with their secrets as the finale unfolds and leaves us cleverly wondering what it all means. The Gift is smart. And yet, because it is best seen with the least amount of knowledge possible, it is very hard to write about.

I can say that The Gift is pretty great. Its a little slow at parts and really dives into building the tension with a lot of quiet moments as we suspect about this suspicious high school friend and re-enters their life and slowly reveals the true nature of these characters and why they are there and how certain things happen for whatever reason. Jason Bateman pulls off a fantastic performance, probably one of my faves. Joel Edgerton does a great role as well.

Its well-planned and executed effectively with some great character development and a finale that will kind of blow your mind and make you think about what it all means.

That’s it for the double feature!
Sorry for the delay!
I’d say to expect this for this week mostly because I don’t have the time I usually would to put these together. 
Things will be back to normal next week!

Have you seen these two movies before?

Netflix Double Feature: The Avenging Fist (2001) & N.Y.C. Underground (2013)

I’m in a bit of a pickle these days as I run out of space to add more movies to my queue list on Netflix so that means, I need to get cracking on some of those movies that I added in without thinking much about it and has overflowed. I wish that Netflix had a way to organize movies that have been added in there for too long. Anyways, maybe one day, right? Seeing as we no longer rank movies by stars but by the familiar system of thumbs up and down. Regardless, the mission to get through the mountains of movies is here. I almost wanted to name this Burning Through My List but then it doesn’t highlight the double feature aspect or triple feature. I’m a complete post on the movie if say, I actually hit a winner. Expect a few more of these to pop up. Also, if you do want to see what movies I’m watching lately, you can always find me on Letterboxd as tranquildreams where I’m using to track movies to easily follow how many movies I’ve watched this year.

Today’s double feature is 2001 Hong Kong action fantasy flick heavily influenced by video game Tekken, The Avenging Fist and 2013’s direct to video N.Y.C Underground also called Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Let’s check it out!

The Avenging Fist (2001)

The Avenging Fist

Director: Andrew Lau

Cast: Leehom Wang, Stephen Fung, Gigi Leung, Biao Yuen, Kristy Yang, Sammo Hung, Kar Lok Chin, Roy Cheung, Cecilia Yip, Ekin Cheng

Special gloves [Power Gloves] that yield an unimaginable power [the ability to tap into unused mental power] are stolen by an agent who subsequently disappears. Decades later, he reemerges to rule the world – Netflix

The Avenging Fist was Hong Kong’s first Dolby Digital Surround Film. It is supposed to be a big deal. Forget about the really bad graphics for a while and forgive it because this movie is 15 years old and we’ve been pampered with better, there is no reason for this film to be as disappointing as it is. Andrew Lau is the director. Remember the guy who brought us the Infernal Affairs trilogy, which did happen after this one. Still, he has a lot of memorable movies under his belt including the Young and Dangerous which is probably why he uses Kar Lok Chin and Ekin Cheng in here. What makes this film disappointing is also the fact that it is trying to tell Tekken but then it seems they don’t have the license so they can’t and have to add in the end credits about how it has nothing to do with the famous video game franchise. You don’t ever want to be the first of something but become a movie that reminds you of something else and this one did that, despite its cast which back in the early 2000s was a big deal. Future Cops launched back in 1993 and put live action and humor and a ton of charm with a great cast bringing to life Street Fighter. While it is incredibly underrated and not a lot of people remember it, there is something there that grabs the audience. Not to mention, Roy Cheung and Ekin Cheng were also part of that movie. You can see my review of it HERE.

Possibly the worse part of this which probably won’t bother non-Chinese speaking audience was the fact that Leehom Wang’s Cantonese dub was okay but yet so awkward with how he reacted at times. Leehom Wang is a great singer and the fact that he is jumping into movies is exciting and the best part of this movie is the fact that there’s some great songs he’s done that’s put on the soundtrack. However, there isn’t much here. The fight scenes are a tad ridiculous and that’s coming from myself who likes a lot of over the top action. The cast was what made me continue like Kristy Yang (who hasn’t been around for a while), Gigi Leung, Stephen Fung (who does some behind the scenes stuff now, I believe). There’s of course Sammo Hung who still proves that age is only a number when it comes to martial arts and acting and to not get fooled by his physical appearance and the fantastic Biao Yuen.

This quick review is turning to be way too long already. Point is, while there is a decent cast, the execution of this movie is rather flawed and just not very good. It reinforces why I don’t watch movies for the cast anymore.

NYC Underground (2013)

nyc underground

Director: Jessy Terrero

Cast: Clayne Crawford, Arielle Kebbel, Sean Faris, Dania Ramirez, Rob Mayes, Evan Ross, Craig Walker, Matt Servitto

Four people run for their lives in the Brooklyn subway tunnels after a botched drug deal.- IMDB

Oh, boy. *shakes head* You know, its hard to not shake your head when you know that some of this cast can be good. It feels a little like Cloverfield, without the found footage angle, you know before things went down the drain. Its funny because Sean Faris has done some decent movies and he was alright in Pretty Little Liars. Arielle Kebbel has proved that she’s decent as well in various TV properties and even the main bad dude played by Clayne Crawford was alright. Deal is, this one wasn’t appealing in the execution. There wasn’t any tense build-up. It was really silly in many parts and there was lot of overacting and whining and screaming. When a movie tries to sell stupid lack of common sense like yelping in an echoing subway tunnel and creating some pretty unappealing chracters that you can’t cheer for, its hard. Plus, it added on the assaulting my eardrums factor and I’m not particularly a happy camper. The fact that I finished this one is already a miracle.

However, its easy to hate on a movie. And I don’t want to do it. If there was one good thing in this movie and that is two of the characters, despite at that point being too far to care too much about them. really lifted the movie up by their growth and finding the courage to move on in a smarter although riskier way. To be honest, those two characters were the stronger characters and that is Sean Faris’s character who plays the older brother dragged into this situation and the supporting girl played by Dania Ramirez.

Overall…

I think I gave both of these movies 2 stars (out of 5). They both weren’t good. Both had their own faults and very little that pushed me to finish and honestly, at this point, I remember The Avenging Fist just a tad more than NYC Underground. The Hong Kong films was going through an odd change in action and humor in that timeframe and I remember not being a huge fan of it so I had stopped watching a lot of Chinese movies at that point which is probably why I didn’t see The Avenging Fist earlier despite being a die-hard fan of Ekin Cheng and he only had a very small role.

Valentine’s Marathon: Mr. Right (2015)

And the Valentine’s Marathon finally starts! There’s only like a five day countdown to the actual day, not that it really means anything much to myself but its a nice excuse to jump into some romantic comedies and other romance dramas. I finally managed to find time to get some of it done.

The first one was actually quite unexpected but I wanted to be spontaneous so I ended up choosing Mr. Right. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, what can go wrong, right?

Let’s check it out!

Mr. Right (2015)

Mr. Right

Director: Paco Cabezas

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra

A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him. – IMDB

It always feels good to start up a movie and right away, the comedy tone is exactly what you’d like. Mr. Right was exactly what I liked about it. It helps that I’m a fan of Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick. Mr. Right isn’t perfect for sure. The story itself has some pretty awkward and great moments. Some other fun times and there’s a tad of action here and there but the true stars of the movie in this rather messy plot line that seems to really work best when Sam Rockwell and/or Anna Kendrick is on screen. Lucky for us (and the movie as a whole), they are in a lot of scenes. Our villain is a little undefined because there’s Tim Roth’s character hunting down Sam Rockwell, that trickles into a somewhat silly but manipulative plot of these brothers and their feud, who are the obvious baddies. Mr. Right works in all the odd and awkward ways.

Mr. Right

Mr. Right has a great cast headlining for it. Anna Kendrick plays as Martha, a girl freshly broken up and in the recovering days, she meets Mr. Right (aka Francis), played by Sam Rockwell. Anna Kendrick as Martha sometimes reminds me a little of Tina Fey. That is a great thing because Tina Fey’s humor usually works for me. Anna Kendrick however carries herself nicely as the sweet but unique girl. Martha is a colorful character. She has weird thought processes and connects odd things together and right from the child of her aspiring to be a T-Rex, we already know we’re in for some fun times. There are not enough words to describe how fantastic Anna Kendrick plays this role into a believable manner. Its hard for us to find someone so awkward also but she does in Mr. Right, a hitman with a reverse psychology to not only dance his way out of situations, view a connection to the objects around him to predict when and where things will drop but also kill the people who hire him because murder is wrong. Mr. Right is on the run but when he misses Martha, he feels the connection right away and it changes who he is a lot because he doesn’t want to lose her. In just a short few days, the connection between Martha and Francis are amazing. Odd and awkward but incredibly cute and fun. Props goes to Sam Rockwell for being able to pull off such a crazy character but also to both of them for delivering incredible chemistry. Even without the action and fighting and guns, watching them both was charming and adorable and entertaining to no end.

Mr. Right

I’m a fan of Tim Roth. I’ve liked him since his role in Lie to Me. He was the highlight of 2015’s The Hateful Eight (even if I didn’t like the movie). Yet here, his character is interesting to say the least. Its hard to say its bad but probably more underused. Tim Roth plays Hopper, the mentor of Francis who is now hunting him down to set him straight from what he thinks is pathetic ways. However, Hopper also is a master of disguises and when he acts as a cop in New Orleans, his accent actually sounds pretty bad. Not that I’m an expert at accents but it felt a little fake, which it is, of course. In many ways, if this plot was only about Hopper chasing down Francis and then Francis falling for Martha, perhaps it would be more neat.

Mr. Right

However, we then step into the other plot point of the actual baddies which are brothers in feud where the younger Von, played by James Ransone, is trying to use Francis’s reverse hitman oddity to his advantage and get rid of his brother, Richie, played by Anson Mount who now runs the show. Von has the help of Johnny Moon, played by Michael Eklund (who I recently complimented for his role as the bad guy in The Call). These guys are all idiots on purpose, meaning the script wrote them like that and its these moments that give the movie a comedic action moments and in all honestly, with a story that doesn’t really have much going for it with these bad guys and whatever they are up to, that is what makes it all the more entertaining. It actually boosts the characters of Francis and especially Martha as she breaks out of her shell and embraces her crazy making her really the perfect match for her Mr. Right.

Mr. Right

You know what? The more I write about it and think about Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick as Mr. Right/Francis and Martha, I just can’t help but love them more and more. Sure, Mr. Right has a few flaws, mostly in a somewhat messy plot with supporting characters not used to their full potential but there’s something special here. Its entertaining and has some really great comedic moments. The chemistry between Francis and Martha is awesome and made me love them and cheer for them in all the weirdest ways to actually believing that they are in fact, perfect for each other. And Francis compliments Martha in the oddest moments during the movie and its kinda cute and sweet and hilarious all at the same time. Action-romantic comedy dose totally fulfilled here.

Have you seen Mr. Right? Are you a fan of Anna Kendrick and/or Sam Rockwell?

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)

Whether you are new here or not, I guess I’d like to make sure that before you start this review, you should know that the Resident Evil franchise (as low rated as it is) is one that holds a pretty special place in my heart. While I’m not a huge fan of the second movie in particular, I still think there’s a lot to like in all its cheesy dialogue and over the top action. Plus, Mila Jovovich has made an iconic badass lady with Alice.

Lets check it out!

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)

resident evil: the final chapter

Director (and writer): Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Mila Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, Ever Anderson

Alice returns to where the nightmare began: The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. – IMDB

The Resident Evil franchise has gone a long way and has really shed its skin from the survival horror genre that the first movie was about when it was based on the video game with the same name. In many ways, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter being released almost at the same time as the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard game being released seems like a really good movie. Although drastically different in story, both of them somehow turn back a little as they head back into their roots. We’re not here to talk about video games so I’ll put Resident Evil 7: biohazard aside and talk about Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth movie in the franchise and also the wrap-up. If you’ve been following these movies like I have, Resident Evil was a survival horror. It introduced the AI at The Hive and Raccoon City, showed us Alice and her super soldier ways and a bit of her back story, it showed the effects of the airborne virus that attacked The Hive and turned everyone and the immediate aftermath. The wasteland that we see is fantastic. That was the events of ten years ago, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter makes the effort to cover whats happened over the years as it starts. One of the good moves to not only remind the audience of whats happened for those who have visited this franchise before but also help generally understand the situation they are all in and where this story is going in this final instalment.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter doesn’t only go back to its roots as a survival horror. In fact, maybe some might argue that it still is very much about action. I do agree with that but the balance of building the atmosphere of the movie itself and pulling it back towards the story it started in the first movie gives it a good wrap-up. We end things where we begin and in memory of many things. Whether you will find the finale surprising (in some ways, like I did) or predictable, the trip there is a good one. Going back through the familiar tunnels (for old viewers) or the dark tunnels (for the new) create a feeling of dread and danger. The cast emits that feeling and we know that the control isn’t really in their field because we get both sides of the story as Alice and the team she meets who Claire (Ali Larter) is with. Her team is a strong one fortified mostly by their reinforced tower from the undead especially as the main villain of the story approaches, a somehow alive Dr. Isaacs who is the partial owner of Umbrella Corporation who is the person responsible for the world apocalypse, comes with hordes of undead and big guns and giant tanks to put an end to Alice’s rebellion.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Before we talk about our villain, lets get back to our group here that assists Alice. Claire is a familiar face and she stays equally as competent. Her group that she’s with is made up of a few key characters that make it out to infiltrate The Hive. Their actual leader, Doc (Eoin Macken), Razor (Fraser James), Christian (William Levy), and Abigail (Ruby Rose). Ruby Rose seems to be hitting a ton of films in the beginning wave of movies and I’m pretty happy to see that. I’ve expressed how much I like her in both TV Binge of Orange is the New Black and the more recent xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. She is very unique, appearance-wise and gives off a really cool vibe. I liked her character quite a bit. In fact this team altogether is very competent in combat and coordination. One of the best scenes have to go to their tower defense moment against Dr. Isaacs.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

 The villain in The Final Chapter is no doubt Dr. Isaacs. Overcome with greed and whatever big ideas we have as we learn more about what happened, he is a villain that we thought had died but has come back to haunt us. However, nothing surprises us anymore in Resident Evil, especially when we’ve gone through stories of clones before. Faced with a restraint on the actual end of the world to wipe out even if the remaining few survivors, Alice fights to stop Dr. Isaacs. He is a strong villain who has actual fight in him and also a very deadly goal. Aside from him, there is another familiar face in Wesker, his minion in some ways who we face only behind his commands to the Red Queen in defense of The Hive. Then of course, we have the Red Queen, who was a huge part to what made the first Resident Evil rather eerie. What makes The Hive dangerous is not only the return of Red Queen but also the memories of the dangers lurking as protective measures. The Hive is a villain by itself. Of course, those familiar with the franchise also know to expect outrageous monster and creatures formed from the undead and the heavy results of the transformed T-Virus, making them huge and strong.

Overall, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter delivers a decent movie. After so many parts before it, Resident Evil has dropped to something of a guilty pleasure. This final instalment aims to wrap it up. In many ways, it does a good job by giving it a little more plot, balancing it with a good amount of action and adrenaline rush and keeping Alice as bad-ass as she always is. The villains, whether The Hive, Red Queen or Dr. Isaacs is always a threat. And they even try to add in a little something more. For that, I think its a great effort that works. I expected a guilty pleasure fun time with lots of action and bad-ass Alice and I came out getting more than that, plus a sense of the franchise finally having some answers. For me, this worked and probably for those still into the Resident Evil franchise, it’ll work. Whether it’ll end here, who knows, maybe if this does well, we’ll get more. For now, I’m happy with where this one went and the whole journey of it. And if it is the last one, I’ll miss watching Mila Jovovich’s Alice.

Are you fan of the Resident Evil franchise? Have you seen Resident Evil: The Final Chapter?

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

If you have seen my Top 10 Anticipated Movies  of 2017 here, you will realize that I don’t have a lot of popular choices but at least the beginning of the year is mostly fun sequels. Does that mean they are bad? I actually embrace movies that are in the cheesy and so bad its awesome category, embrace fun and action filled movies and from what I remember of xXx. That is exactlt what I would expect from this third one especially since Vin Diesel reprises his role as Xander Cage and his on screen presence is just simply awesome. Full transparency, I have seen xXx two times. The review is HERE. However, I have not seen the sequel with Ice Cube. Whether you call it a reboot or a sequel, I’m just excited to see Vin Diesel jump back into this role. I’m going to lie if after fifteen years, Xander Cage can still be revived without any disappointments but with the cast they have, its hard to not be impressed and excited.

Let’s check it out!

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxx the return of xander cage

Director: DJ Caruso

Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Tony Jaa, Michael Bisping, Samuel L Jackson

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. – Rotten Tomatoes

For those who haven’t seen the first xXx, you honestly don’t really  need to know much about it. The Return of Xander Cage, other than Xander Cage and the one appearance of his fluffy coat that shows up and super little tidbits on Samuel L. Jackson recruiting another agent in a restaurant (when he recruited Xander Cage from a diner), there really isn’t much crossover. That in itself, is good. One thing to remember going into xXx is that you don’t go into this for a strong storyline. I will talk about the storyline and what criticisms a serious movie goer may have with it (because I am fully aware of its flaws). With all that said, I had a great time watching xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. As much as it sounds like this movie is right up my alley, I like xXx but I’m not a die hard fan. However, this one was fun and thrilling (and probably my fave of the franchise thus far). The stunts were great because Xander Cage is a daredevil who loves risky and daring stunts. It has an amazing cast which gave it so much personality and charm and of course, action. Not to mention, despite having an unpopular sequel without Vin Diesel but replaced by Ice Cube as Darius Stone, they never forget that he was also part of the franchise.

xXx The Return of Xander Cage

Right from the opening scenes, I already knew this is my sort of movie because its fun. The style of introducing its characters and fun facts was humorous to give us an idea who this person is and fills in on people who didn’t watch the two movie before that was over ten years ago. There was a lot of upbeat music that meshed with the scene especially giving it more reason when the dj of the group, Nicks (Kris Wu) joins in the xXx team. They also go through a lot of locations and its really beautiful. All this is aside from the fun dialogue we get which reflects who these characters are. Before we jump into the characters, I said I would talk about storyline and its flaws. Much like you could point out all the flaws in the last few Fast and Furious franchise, they probably also apply here. Be it a storyline that is pretty linear or plot twists that are rather predictable or even over the top things like submerging a motorcycle underwater and it still works after it resurfaces. The storyline is only a means of everything they can pull off, be it stunts or guns or encounters.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

xXx characters aren’t exactly deep, but calling them shallow makes me feel kind of bad also. However, they aren’t meant to be wildly constructed, just like its storyline. It really isn’t the point. These are agents and it wasn’t meant to have unnecessary drama (which might be one of the criticisms I remember having for one of The Expendable films, maybe the second one). We know the basics of their competency and the witty, quirky or completely eccentric personalities. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is the man here who has a lot of personality and he has built a great team. Donnie Yen plays Xiang, who has a fantastic entrance showing off his great martial arts skills and what starts off as a rickety role turns out to be a really fun time as we learn more about who he is. Toni Collette pulls off a stern vibe in the high leader or government somebody perhaps. Her role is a little odd at times but it is to offset or at least is there for Xander to be recruited and challenge the authority. Xander Cage’s team is the more highlighted factor here and aside from him and Donnie Yen, breathe an incredible amount of life, character and charm.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Ruby Rose plays Adele Wolff, a sharp shooter who has masters her sniper skills with a lot of calm and fun attitude. Nina Dobrev plays Becky, the tech support and pretty much the brains of the operations who is scared of pretty much everything outside and she has a massive fan girl moments with Xander that is hilarious and says really awkward and random things. Its also nice to see that there’s more to her career than The Vampire Diaries (especially because I do like TVD). We’ve already talked about the casual fun-time Nicks who is the showstopper or perhaps the person who causes the distraction but he is well-matched with Tennyson, played by Rory McCann, who is a stunt driver always looking for his next crash. They make a hilarious duo. On the other hand, Xiang’s team consists of some competent players as well although they don’t get as much of attention. The pretty lady with lots of combat skills is Serena, played by Deepika Padukone. Along with her and Xiang are Talon, played by Tony Jaa, an odd character that does weird things to say the least (which I like his fighting skills but not so much the character or maybe the limited acting) and Hawk, played by Michael Bisping, who I assumed was some sort of MMA/UFC fighter in real life and turns out he is (because I don’t follow these things so I had to look it up). The deal with having lots of characters in not a long runtime is that not everyone gets the screen time they need but it also gives the audience a good idea, if there was a sequel who might be the returning team.

Overall, you don’t go to xXx for an award-winning life-changing movie experience, you go into this movie to just have fun and be entertained and maybe shut off your brain for a little while. Have a few laughs, watch some great stunts and awesome fight sequences, listen to some cheesy one-liners and bask in the badassery that these characters and Xander Cage’s team is all about. Sure, it might seem a little Fast and the Furious franchise with the bad ass team and over the top sequences or maybe its a little The Expendables, with the whole “retired” agent coming back to action or whatever you’d like to call it just with a younger cast, but The Return of Xander Cage has its own personality. Whether the revival of this franchise works or not, this is an awesome addition to the franchise and captures the right tone and adds lots of style to it. It delivered everything I expected and more. Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose was enough for me to love it so much. Everyone else meshing well with the movie just made it even better.

Have you seen xXx: The Return of Xander Cage?