Double Feature: Tracers (2015) & Ultraviolet (2006)

DOUBLEFEATURE (58)

Its time for the next double feature! The alphabet Netflix is going a bit awkward and weird and it won’t look like the whole alphabet at this point with doubles and triples here and there for various letters. Anyways, this is the penultimate one before we finish up the 26 movies in this rundown. This time, for the T selection I decided to go with Tracers which looks like some parkour fun. I liked Brick Mansions even if the plot was a bit thin and I’m expecting a similar experience here. For the U selection, I went on to look at the Ultraviolet.

Suffice to say, the ending two movies for this rundown is going to be not the rest of the alphabet but cut very short, either way, it needs to wrap up so some other random pairings can happen. 🙂 Anyways, let’s check out these two movies!

Tracers (2015)

tracers

Director: Daniel Benmayor

Cast: Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner, Rafi Gavron, Luciano Acuna Jr., Josh Yadon, Johnny M. Wu, Sam Medina, Amirah Vann

Wanted by the Chinese mafia, a New York City bike messenger escapes into the world of parkour after meeting a beautiful stranger. – IMDB

Just as I’d expected, Tracers is an alright movie. Its not great because its pretty predictable in how things are going to go down but its also better than I expected because of the parkour and the setting. The characters are alright but they have quite a few so it also lacks some depth. In the choice between making it more action-packed and crime or giving it more of a character oriented drama, this one leaned more onto the former, which is a pretty good choice seeing as it took the twist of these groups of parkour youths pulling off some crime jobs like stealing stuff and whatnot.

Taylor Lautner is usually dismissed mostly because of Twilight, it feels but I thought he did alright in the few Twilight films that I saw. To be fair, the whole acting job here was a little meh but the parkour was fun to watch and everyone seemed to have the reason to be there even if the romance here felt a little forced and became like the pushing force for Taylor Lautner’s character to do this because, it always felt like while it was a perk to get to know the character of Marie Avgeropoulos, he did it for the fast money. So everyone has their agenda and it tried to do this twist with the leader of the parkour group which I guess makes sense to a certain extent. Talking about Marie Avgeropoulos, I grew to like her character in The 100 even if she is super stubborn and this character here is very reminiscent of that one where she’s a pretty tough girl.

Overall, Tracers was pretty middle of the line. Its not a very memorable movie because it played a lot of it by the books but it did exceed my expectations. Aside from all the nonsensical romantic angles that really just tried to flaunt some young bodies and romantic tension to give it more conflict, the parkour bits were pretty fun to watch. There’s some decent action in the escape scene near the end. The twist was alright as well even if it was a tad predictable. I didn’t expect much from it to begin with so it exceeded my expectations.

Ultraviolet (2006)

ultraviolet

Director (and writer): Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlund, Sebastien Andrieu, Ida Martin, William Fichtner, David E. Collier

A beautiful hæmophage infected with a virus that gives her superhuman powers has to protect a boy in a futuristic world, who is thought to be carrying antigens that would destroy all hæmophages. – IMDB

Honestly, there’s not much to say about Ultraviolet. Its a pretty bad movie. If it didn’t have Milla Jovovich as the main character and then some competent supporting roles like William Fichtner, I probably would have shut off the film. The premise of the film isn’t too bad set in the futuristic work and the whole blood angle and hemophages and such. All that stuff works well enough as the background premise of the story. The main issue is that the movie itself is pretty bad. The computer graphics are absolutely outdated at this point which makes it very unconvincing to watch.

At the same time, there’s a whole lot of bad acting from everyone else. Milla Jovovich might not have great acting skills but she fills up the space because its her unique attitude that always makes her stand out (even in the Resident Evil), making her the best part of Ultraviolet. Ultraviolet is a pretty bad-ass character with some fun one-liners, very reminiscent of Alice in Resident Evil, and I guess that really makes it work for her. Playing alongside her is Cameron Bright as the boy who can destroy all of the hemophages. I’ve only seen Cameron Bright in one other movie (that I remember) in Running Scared which I really liked him and think that he’s a pretty decent young actor and he does pretty well here even if his dialogue is quite scarce.

Overall, Ultraviolet is pretty meh. Nothing really does good and unless you are a fan of Milla Jovovich like me, you might even dismiss her role as Ultraviolet as well. But seeing as I am a fan of hers, this movie worked because she held it up and kept me watching. I can almost guarantee that I probably won’t be watching this again though.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two? Thoughts?

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Double Feature: Perfect Stranger (2007) & Red Riding Hood (2011)

Welcome to the next double feature. Still braving through some Netflix titles as we head into the P and R selection, well, the first R selection, it would seem. The alphabet thing is more of a guideline at this point. This time, we’re heading into two thriller-esque movies. The first being Halle Berry and Bruce Willis’ Perfect Stranger which I remember I had wanted to see when it first came out but never did until now. The R selection is also a movie that I had wanted to see even though it looked like it was not going to be good which is Red Riding Hood. The result of both of these films were fairly similar, to be honest.

Let’s check it out!

Perfect Stranger (2007)

perfect stranger

Director: James Foley

Cast: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Portnow

A journalist goes undercover to ferret out businessman Harrison Hill as her childhood friend’s killer. Posing as one of his temps, she enters into a game of online cat-and-mouse. – IMDB

With a pretty great lineup of cast playing a tight knit group of characters, Perfect Stranger definitely feels like it could be a winner. While I can’t truly fault the acting or the roles here, its the final moments that somewhat break the film a little. Plus, some of the roles are a tad over the top. The story does make the effort as a thriller to keep you guessing while giving you a few suspects to consider but as experienced viewers now know to question whoever is the most obvious in movies, it creates those smokes and screens fairly well.

Perfect Stranger is one of those films that I really want to like. Bruce Willis is pretty good in his roles. There some issues with Halle Berry’s character and then, the best role here that really delivers has to be Giovanni Ribisi who brings up a lot of question marks. Deal is, the story feels really choppy and the ending is one of those trying too hard to give you a surprise endings and it thinks its more clever than it actually is.

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie

Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family’s displeasure. – IMDB

Red Riding Hood has a decent idea behind it. Its a bit been there done that. Which is also why, it hasn’t been too long since I saw it and I already don’t remember too many of the details. So, let’s get the good things out of the way. This one was alright in the acting department, not so much in the dialogue department though and its one of those things that feel very much one way that it could all go. Plus, its one of those easy to figure out twists because its not exactly far-fetched and it doesn’t help that its a re-imagining of Red Riding Hood which doesn’t seem like the Red Riding Hood elements make a huge difference to the outcome. The ending is pretty meh and honestly, the film wasn’t so bad at the beginning but falls apart as it goes along.

Overall, Red Riding Hood was kind of a lot of weird bits added together. Nothing felt really necessary but it felt like it needed to add those elements of love to give that spicy edge, the vengeance to give the revenge and hatred edge and then the reveal being the surprise element except nothing seems like it works long enough to make it have a truly lasting effect. Its not exactly a bad film but then its not exactly anything special either. I mean, to make things better, I went ahead and watched Hoodwinked which is a much better twist on the Red Riding Hood story.

That’s it for this double feature!
I’m indifferent regarding these two films so its a bit harder to write about.
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time we are doing a double rental feature. Both of these were films that I rented in the last little while and its one that we’ve been wanting to see and both are sequels.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. – IMDB

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film. With anything like that, it takes a lot of care. For one, it needs to keep in mind that it is its sequel and keep the heart of it but also give it the modernized world standard. At the same time, still giving respect to the success of the first one. Luckily, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle makes it slight changes to make it not a remake but a sequel that happens years after the original. It acknowledges the original board game format and then gives the reasons of how it turns into a video game format. The whole player and video game world is one that works really well also plus they add in the four players and role-playing game style.

With that said, the heart of the film really is the cast themselves and how they interpret each of their roles. Dwayne Johnson always aims to please with his humor. It becomes hilarious to just watch these characters take on the opposite of who they are in reality, for better or for worse. In the case of his character, Spencer who is a nerdy scrawny nobody in school, this transformation aims to have a few laughs as he gets fascinated at being somebody. While on the other hand, we have the jock character who turns into Kevin Hart. After Central Intelligence (review), we are already familiar with how great Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson work as a comedic duo. They bring in a lot of laughs. However, Jack Black is the star of the show as he embodies a self-absorbed high school girl. I can’t imagine anyone else excelling at that role as he did. Pure entertainment!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel that honestly didn’t really need to happen. Being a huge fan of the original, it was one that I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Luckily, as unnecessary as it was, it was a ton of fun and that was all it needed to be.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario day of the soldado

Director: Stefano Sollimo

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. – IMDB

You can check out the review of Sicario HERE.

In a nutshell, I was pretty enthralled with Sicario. Probably not so much that I went running to watch its sequel for a few specific reasons, the main one being that the ending of the first one was pretty gloomy and I wasn’t really down for anything like that. In many ways, Sicario: Day of the Soldado takes a different approach. It still has its twists and turns and it still maintains a pretty decent atmosphere and locks in those ethics and morals and the right and wrong of the situation. In that sense, the characters and the situation at hand all work out pretty decently. Plus, it takes the whole wondering how messed up a situation is when the government okays their people to make up a situation controlled by them to push the tension on other situations. It also looks at the extents of what is the greater evil and the means to meet the ends of a situation. Sicario has always been about making those big choices that feel wrong and its the heart of these stories especially when fighting cartels.

As great as watching Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin was in this film. Their roles are pretty great. Their characters do get quite a bit of change. However, if anything what it feels like here is that after Sicario, we already know to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned and that something is going to happen as a twist and there’s going to be something deeper to the story that is at hand. Because of that, it doesn’t quite hit as poignantly as the first one. I’m going to be honest that in my mind, I didn’t think that Sicario needed a sequel. The first movie shone because of Emily Blunt (for me) and taking her out of the equation now (because there was no way she was coming back), didn’t seem like it would work. Good news is that the movie still works, just not as effectively as the first one. Its still pretty good though.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?

Double Feature: Bone Tomahawk (2015) & Dredd (2012)

Bone Tomahawk

We are finally digging into our own movie collection and watching films that have remained unwatched for too long. We are slowly going to start tackling this pile in between Netflix and the random cheap rentals. Its been a little while since I saw these two movies and the pairing is kind of an odd double feature but still, I’ve heard great things for both films.

Let’s check it out!

BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

Bone Tomahawk

Director (and writer): S. Craig Zahler

Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette

In the dying days of the old west, an elderly sheriff and his posse set out to rescue their town’s doctor from cannibalistic cave dwellers. – IMDB

Part Western, part psychological thriller, part horror; Bone Tomahawk is a mix genre that uses a setting to propel its story forward. Its slow-paced and intriguing, keeping it mysterious and suspenseful as well. At the same time, there is an underlying feeling of danger in the vastness of the desert that it takes place in the majority of the time as the sheriff and his crew traverse to encounter an unknown group of enemies. While the enemies in question are different, its hard to not compare a bit of the story to the likes of The Burrowers (review), which is also a Western set film except faced with mysterious creatures than cannibalistic cave dwellers. It had a lot of the similar elements from the prejudice towards the Indians and the whole trek to do find something and the missing persons sort of deal but Bone Tomahawk is executed much better. To be honest, who these cave dwellers are is the main suspense so maybe the description itself has already broken a bit of the intrigue the film wants to deliver. Maybe…I don’t know…Its always the issue of how much is too much is said when we look specifically at psychological horror films.

One of the best elements of the film, especially when looking at psychological thrillers are the characters involved. In their own quiet way, each of them add a little something to balance out the dynamic and competency of the group. If you just look at the cast, you can see that it is a really strong cast. The main group on this rescue comprised of Kurt Russell’s Sheriff Hunt, his elderly deputy played by Richard Jenkins, injured rancher Arthur whose wife was taken played by Patrick Wilson and a gunslinger played by Matthew Fox. Its because of the focus on each of these characters in their own extent and having their own place that make them each stand out in their own manner and feel like they belong to where they were especially in a journey that approaches danger. Talking about danger, the cave dwellers are done fantastically. They are brutal and intense.

Bone Tomahawk is one of those films that is executed really well because of the atmosphere and the setting and that meshes well with the story told here. The characters and all those elements boost it high but it does have the Western slow-paced which might make it a bit harder to get into at first as it builds up its story, mystery and characters.

DREDD (2012)

Dredd

Director: Pete Travis

Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Tamer Burjaq, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Rakie Ayola, Jason Cope, Domhnall Gleeson

In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO. – IMDB

I’ve never seen the original Judge Dredd or anything along those lines so this is a completely new experience of the world and the character itself. I’m not a huge fan of people doing the whole Christian Bale’s Batman low-tone voice. I don’t find that more empowering to the character or  make them stronger, so suffice to say that took a little getting used to for me. However, setting all that aside, Dredd is a really fun time. Seeing as it was released after The Raid: Redemption, it easy to compare the similar concept of fighting up a tower to the ultimate boss. There are thugs and obstacles in the way. Within the heights of one building, it managed to create a lot of layers. These layers dive into learning more about the world created here and living standards, the life-altering drug SLO-MO and its effects, the big boss ruling the society of this building, as well as our main cop characters, Dredd and his trainee Anderson.

Suffice to say that Dredd and Anderson do bring a lot of the action and cleverness to the film. Their characters bond over the course of the film even in their differences and through learning from each other. Anderson is different because of her psychic abilities that allow her to mind control a little. It adds to their journey but also at times has its hindrances. As great as it is to learn about these two, Lena Headey appears in Dredd as the big bad villain, Ma-Ma, a fierce woman boss of this building who is brutal and unforgiving. She keeps her anger hidden under a calm appearance..most of the time and there is this deadly and unsettling vibe to her throughout because she retains a lot of the mystery as how she became who she is now. Lena Headey always seems to be found in these movies here and there, really bringing in some intriguing characters to say the least. Perhaps someone to visit and revisit her roles, especially after her success as Game of Thrones, Cersei Lancaster.

Dredd is a pleasant surprise and exceeded my expectations. Its set in an intriguing, if not more dangerous and gloomy futuristic world. At the same time, it was also great to see another beginning role of Domhnall Gleeson as the Clan Techie here which has a small role but a fairly entertaining one to watch.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bone Tomahawk and/or Dredd? What are your thoughts?

TV Binge: Who’s The Murderer 明星大侦探4 (Season 4, 2018)

Who’s The Murderer (Season 4, 2018)
明星大侦探4

Cast: He Jiong, Benny Sa, Angel Wang, Bai Jing Ting, Emma Wu, Liu Haoran, Zhang Ruo Yun, Wei Da Xun, Justin, Seven Tan

No. of Episodes: 13

**With that said, instead of the poster, I added in the full playlist of the series. Its backwards to scroll to the second last video to see episode 1 and turn on the CC for English subtitles.**

Let’s start off right away that I have never seen Who’s The Murderer Season 1 to 3. Its only been since last year in July that I started getting into the TV series/dramas & variety shows from China. With that said, after watching The Chamber of Secrets Escape (Review), Who’s a Murderer was even more up my alley. The best part is that it had these twists and turns in their stories and the investigations was cool. Plus, the set and stories they always did added intrigue but also a lot of logic and problem solving and analytical sort of thinking. It relied especially in the final episode on (what I believe) an unscripted way to twist and turn throughout the situation for the murderer to not be discovered with whatever tactics they can use. Who’s the Murderer is a lot like an elaborate version of this party game called Wink Murder or Killer (whatever you call it, I’m not too sure…) but instead of a circle, it adds in these Clue elements and sometimes, escape room elements.

One great element of this is its setting. They build these fantastic sets as a backdrop for each of their things. Sure, its mostly just rooms mildly divided in some cases to show the different characters and their rooms. The structure of the game is also quite good. The first part is establishing and discovering the “body”, then introduction of the characters and their timeline, the first collective search, the first collective analysis, the detective’s solo (secret) vote on who’s the murderer, the second round of collective search, 1 on 1 with detective, final collective analysis and final vote for everyone and then the reveal whether they successfully voted the murderer to go to “jail”. Its usually the search and the analysis that makes for a lot of fun moments. The other part of this which is great especially being a variety show (and something China does particularly well) is the focus on society and how each of these stories focus on some element of society and people whether its relationships, idols, love, families in regards to revenge, trust, loyalty, etc and how a lot of these cases sprouted from an extreme negative thought or self-preservation or whatnot and they reflect on these cases at the end.

who's the murderer

As for the cast here, there are a few regulars and then every episode has some guests that only pop in to participate. He Jiong is a super popular and talented host for Happy Camp and an array of variety shows in China, prominently on Hunan TV so since that is mostly where I watch variety shows, I’ve grown to really appreciate him and in this, he is really talented especially when he is the “killer” he can almost always avoid being caught. The other is Benny Sa who I’ve never seen in anything before but he is also quite comedic and very analytical but sometimes has this silliness to his theories and guesses. The younger semi-regulars is one of the reason that I started this and that is Bai JingTing who I first saw in a TV drama (which I haven’t written up yet) and through this I’ve known a few other semi-regulars that I honestly really like a lot too.

who's the murderer 4

There is a lot of after editing on these shows and probably a lot is cut out of the whole episode but there is a great post-editing effect for it to make it very mysterious and suspicious. A lot of the mysteries have a lot of twists and the character have their own depth. It also brings up a lot of questions on right and wrong and morals and ethics. For a variety game show style, it definitely has more depth than most. Plus a lot of times, it also gives the audience watching an outlet to analyze the case with what they have found and always reveal at the end whether they found the evidence that solidifies who the “murderer” is. The first two episodes and the final episodes are the most awesome ones. Its nice to see how they incorporate some spinoff on popular movie backdrops as well as different genres such as time travel elements and whatnot. Its a very colorful show to say the least and while there are a few little stumbles and some episodes are slightly more predictable (which is a rare occasion), its one that, I would assume, has gone through  a lot of polish and it shows because its highly entertaining and really fun to get involved to make your own guesses while watching it. I like that element of it the most as it becomes very immersive.

The Two Sisters of Borneo (Ava Lee #6) by Ian Hamilton

If you missed the reviews on the previous novels in this series, you can check out these links:

The Water Rat of Wanchai
The Disciple of Las Vegas
The Wild Beasts of Wuhan
The Red Pole of Macau
The Scottish Banker of Surabaya

The Two Sisters of Borneo
(Ava Lee #6)

By: Ian Hamilton

two sisters of borneo

Ava has been in Hong Kong looking after Uncle. She has also set up an investment company with May Ling Wong and her sister-in-law, Amanda Yee. One of their first investments — a furniture company owned by two sisters in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo — runs into immediate problems with a Dutch customer. Ava goes to the Netherlands to investigate, but her life is threatened when she is confronted by a gang of local thugs in Borneo. Out of the shadows comes a mysterious man from Shanghai – IMDB

One of my favorite series ever and one of the most random discoveries that was a pleasant surprise is diving into the Ava Lee series. I picked up the first book of the series, The Water Rat of Wanchai because of its Hong Kong location title. Six books in now and almost 4 years since I read the 5th book, I have a lot of catching up to do but the most important thing is that, the world is still so amazing to jump into. The best thing about this book series is the whole commitment of being fairly self-contained. The investigation in question may have characters from previous books but they always have sufficient information to make sure they are outlined enough even without knowing about the previous books.

Over the course of the books (and I urge you to start this series from the beginning), Ava Lee has developed a lot and still has a lot of room for it. Its really nice especially in The Two Sisters of Borneo because it hits close to home both with her personal issues but also with the investigation she dives into showing us that Ava Lee is very much a tough woman but also vulnerable in her own way as well making her very human and keeps adding new elements and twists to her forensic accounting skills. While I love the self-contained aspects of these books, the other characters have also grown and as we get to know Ava’s family and friends more, they become these staple characters and have built at this point to something that can be described as the first phase over with in the Ava Lee series at the end of this one. To me, that is a pretty smart move because it will give it a whole new dynamic but I won’t say how to avoid any spoilers.

I am getting ahead of myself to lets reel it back in. The Two Sisters of Borneo brings us to yet another exotic Asian location paired with a European location as well. Ava meets some interesting people to say the least. It is no doubt there is always a great plan at play. The best part of these mysteries is that while we can see the game at play, there is always a fairly surprising twist. In this case, it was a bit more obvious (for me) however, the whole process was still a page-turner. Its always the big reveal that has an eye-opening experience and how Ava chooses to approach the mastermind to retrieve the compensation or return of wealth that makes it even more intriguing. There’s a whole array of different people that seem like they will get another chance to come back as Ava Lee steps further into what I’d say is a phase two to the series. While a lot of foundation as already been done, there is a real sense of a second build in foundation here to get ready for more great mysteries to come.

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: City of God (2002) by Flick Hunter

Wrapping up the third week of the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is Norman from Flick Hunter. If you haven’t been to Flick Hunter, you should give it a go and check out the myriad of movie reviews over there. He also is a frequenter of various film festivals and offer some great opinion pieces. For this blogathon, he brings a review of 2002’s Portuguese crime drama City of God.


City of God

Taking its title from one of the most dangerous favelas in the Western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro effectively voiced by Alexander Rodrigues as Rocket; City of God  spans three decades from the end of the 60’s to the mid 80’s where residents are prisoners in their homes caught in violent battles between rival gangs. The original group the Tender Trio features Rockets brother Goose (Renato de Souza), Clipper (Jefchander Suplino) and the gentlemanly Shaggy (Jonathan Haagensen) small-time hoods at targeting fuel trucks and motels. Entering into the ’70’s Their antics are quickly replaced by the very hardcore Lil Dice (Leandro Firmino de Hora) kindly Benny (Phellipe Haagensen) rivaled by Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) and the former law-abiding Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge).

Rocket is at the centre of the piece. A childhood friend of Lil Dice he has a camera that is always by his side and as a local can get shots of the violent event as they occur in the favela while professionals are afraid to tread, can’t get access and even if they could, would not be trusted.

Co-Directors Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund take the story from the book by Paulo Lins who grew up in the favela. The narrative follows the main characters from when they are little kids, get their first guns in hands, commit their first crime then push the violence beyond the generation before. The champion of this is the above mentioned Li’l Ze aka Li’l Dice as a youth and due to his connection to Rocket allows him into their lair to photograph them with all of their firepower. Rockets photos are noticed by a newspaper photo editor where he delivers papers who publishes them. Rocket expects to be in grave danger for the reveal but instead, Li’l Ze and his crew buy up every copy cheering Rocket when they encounter him next.The co-directors keep the main themes of the devastating effects of poverty, class warfare, violence begetting violence close to the surface. As cinematographer Cesar Charlone inflects a sharp gold based colour plate for the production. Split screens feature heavily as a device of showing rival gangs committing crimes as the principals barrel along towards each other on a collision course. The directors set up an acting workshop for the locals which gives the film raw authentic energy alongside the basic fundamentals of acting leading to the exceptional performance of Firmino de Hora as Li’l Ze. He has the 1000 mile stare, crooked teeth, dark skin plus short man’s syndrome. His solution killing for fun, randomly and not getting attached to anyone or anything. The creators keep the dark humor coming in the 80’s the young up and coming crew know as The Runts who were mirrors of Ze to the Tender Trio back in the day but prepared to take things much further than the  Ze/Benny and Knockout Nick battles of the 70’s as they rise to power towards the end of the piece as they lay out their death list in the infant stages of the Red Command.

City of God is a film about kids killing kids in an environment where no one in government or with influence cared. Rocket toward the start of his narration notes that there was no electricity or paved streets and the business Elite and Politician could not give a second thought to any of the problems there. It’s a fast-paced, ultra-violent gritty look into life in a favela based on real events that are more twisted and harrowing than anything that could be thought up in the word of fiction.

***** A Five Star Film

City of God | Fernando Meirelles / Katia Lund | Brazil / France | 2002 | 130 Minutes.


A huge thanks to Norman for joining us with a fantastic review.

You can see the list of the entries for the blogathon HERE.