Double Feature: Speed 2:Cruise Control (1997) & Perhaps Love (2005)

I promised regular programming yesterday and here it is! A double feature! These are actually getting a little hard to put together because I’ve been watching TV series more than movies. Although there is The Edge of Seventeen, Miss Sloane, Macbeth and Southpaw sitting in my movie queue lately, so I need to work on those very soon. It helps that double features are a lot easier to put together and I like this new structure a lot.

Anyways, enough side tracking. One new watch and a repeat one in this double feature!

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

speed 2

Director: Jan de Bont

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe

A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker. – IMDB

I love Speed. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. A great team, perfect action and so very tense to watch. Even recently, when I revisited it, I still had tons of fun. Funnily, my love for the movie didn’t bring me to watch Speed 2: Cruise Control until recently. Its the bad reviews and lack of Keanu Reeves and really not seeing anything interesting about this one. Instincts are a great thing and I sometimes forget to trust it and that is how I end up watching Speed 2 in three sittings, almost giving up after halfway through the second one but deciding to tough it out. I had seen Jason Patric in a more recent film coincidentally for My Sister’s Keeper which I reviewed for Medicine in the Movies Blogathon.

Why didn’t I like this other than the fact that Keanu Reeves isn’t there? Well, when you bring back a sequel and use the lady of the previous movie, she should be more of a center. Now, if Sandra Bullock was doing all the action, maybe it would have worked better and more entertaining. Its hard to follow a character that really isn’t too compelling to watch, plus you have Willem Dafoe playing the villain with crazy eyes here. At the end of the day, when you look back at Speed 2, it takes the formula of Speed, puts it on a cruise ship, switches up the cast and setting and adds some even less probable and reasonable events and we get this.

To be absolutely honest, I did enjoy the final parts of the movie mostly because there was a ton of guilty pleasure action moments that worked for me. However, to have to sit through a good portion of the beginning to get there isn’t exactly something I plan on doing again.

Perhaps Love (2005)

Perhaps Love

Director: Peter Chan

Cast: Jacky Cheung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Xun Zhou, Jin-hee Ji, Eric Tsang, Sandra Kwan Yue Ng

A love triangle develops during the making of a musical in mainland China. – IMDB

Perhaps Love is one of those movies that never really made it internationally however, within their own circles had its own merit. Chinese film industry at that point hadn’t really done a lot of modern musicals. I’m not talking any form of Cantonese or Peking Opera which are really live performances. I am talking about a theatrical musical and this one did that. It roped in a phenomenal singer from the 90s who still has the pipes, like Jacky Cheung in a supporting role who sings a whole bunch here and then adds a famous actor like Takeshi Kaneshiro who is in fact earned his fame in the Hong Kong film industry and then mixes in famous Chinese actress Xun Zhou. Along with smaller roles from Eric Tsang and Sandra Kwan Yue Ng, and the change between mandarin and cantonese dialogue, this musical has a lot of great elements although being influenced and feeling like some Hollywood musicals: Moulin Rouge and Singin’ in the Rain, mostly comes to mind, along with a scene that looks exactly like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Nine (the musical).

Regardless of whatever inspirations or influences to this film, Perhaps Love is a very solid entry. Sure, there are a few spots that get a little dramatic but also expected in a lot of romantic dramas. What is very cool is how they tackle this relationship and slip between the past and present but also give this fantastical feeling to it, meshing reality with what is going on in the movie that these characters are brought together for. It has this movie in a movie sort of thing and that works very well especially because the music is beautiful and the director does a great job at setting up his shots. The costumes are really nice and just everything is done really well.

I’m not much for Chinese romance or dramas. I find that they sometimes get lost in the overdramatic phase but this one handles it all along with using it as a personal journey to overcome whatever these characters have to overcome and comes to terms with, making them each have their own layers. Rewatching now, and seeing all the inspirations, still makes me like this one a lot. Plus, Jacky Cheung is one of my favorite singers. Maybe not such a polished actor but he carries a lot of the great singing sequences here and it fits really well. While back in the early 2000s, Xun Zhou really had a good deal of fame and was offered lots of roles and in that phase, she grew on me as she picked up more complex roles in different genres. And well, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a great actor in general and its shows how much he’s grown since he has been in the acting business for a long time. Great cast, great set, beautiful music and this all pulls together into a must-see if you are into musicals and foreign films.

Have you seen Speed 2 or Perhaps Love? What did you think of it?

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Triple Feature: As Tears Go By, Stop-Loss & Tell Tale

I rarely do triple features but Netflix has been driving me nuts on movie expiration on January 1st. I’m literally racing with time and its hard to decide if I should be watching TV series or movies.  The movies that make the cut are the ones that I find intriguing or that I haven’t seen in the bargain bin because I’ll just eventually get around to buying it if thats the case.

Between watching Numb3rs (which I know I can’t get another 5 seasons done in 4 days because that would be insane), I managed to get these 3 movies in. Word to the wise, in order to enjoy happy holidays you really shouldn’t watch dramatic movies (aka As Tears Go By).

As Tears Go By (1989)

as tears go by

Director: Kar Wai Wong

Cast: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Man Chi Leung

Mid-level gangster Wah falls in love with his beautiful cousin, but must also continue to protect his volatile partner-in-crime and friend, Fly.-IMDB

I’m going to confess right now that I’m not a huge fan of Kar Wai Wong (or maybe its just because I really didn’t enjoy 2046).  He makes some really complex movies.  I’m not saying I don’t like complex movies either because I like really messed up movies but his are just way too much for me.  I didn’t even know As Tears Go By  was his directorial debut until I was doing some research for this one. Before you start telling me, what about In the Mood For Love? I’m going to just tell you right now that I haven’t seen it yet so I really can’t tell you.  Its not for lack of trying to find it either.  I’m working on it.

as tears go by

Either way, As Tears Go By is actually pretty good.  It has the last 80s-early 90s kind of Hong Kong film style of making triad/gangsters lifestyle and mixing it with the whole romance angle.  I can remember a few of those when I was a kid.  Andy Lau was at his peak during those times (and he is still talented as ever if not more).  Maggie Cheung has proven herself to be a great actress over the years.  There is no doubt the performances are fantastic.  As Tears Go By is a pretty intense movie to watch.  There was one part where it was really brutally violent (well, two parts) and I had to look away because it was just too much.  The connection and chemistry of the love story was good.

Apparently this is based on Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t seen it.  The story is a little cliche but the style  for a directorial debut is there, along with the awesome performances, it is one of the more enjoyable Kar Wai Wong movies I’ve seen. Then, the next few directorial efforts: Chungking Express and Ashes of Time was pretty epic also.

Have you seen As Tears Go By? Thoughts on Kar Wai Wong? Any comments on Mean Streets?

Stop-Loss (2008)

stop-loss

Director: Kimberly Pierce

Cast: Ryan Philippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, Rob Brown

A veteran soldier returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army. –IMDB

I’m not very saavy about military terms but being stop-lossed is what it means to be ordered to return back to field duty.

Stop-Loss is a good drama.  I’m not one to like war movies but this is more of the impact of soldiers and how it affects their life afterwards.  Its an emotional and psychological toll more than its a physical one.  Sometimes, its enough and they want to return but circumstances are brought upon them differently and they have to go back to the field and thats exactly what happened here for the lead, Brandon King (Ryan Philippe).

stop-loss

Watching Stop-Loss was pretty intense (and I watched it the day after As Tears Go By).  There’s a huge test here.  There is no way to escape being stop-lossed and if you do, its against orders so either way there is really no way out.  Its a complex issue in itself. Brandon King tries to run from it and the story makes us see his own struggles and just how much him and his team has gone through, the friendship its built and how its affected his brothers in the army with him.  It brings on a burden to his family and in the end he has to make the choice of whether to run away or to go back.  The story is the winner in this one.  It does try to cover Brandon King but also carries a little more with adding in a focus on Channing Tatum’s character and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, which was also two very good performances.

Stop-Loss is a little heart-breaking to watch.  Its a lot to take in but the movie is honest and sincere and it really does bring up some complex issues that will make you think a little about it all.

Have you seen Stop-Loss? 

Tell Tale (2010)

tell tale

Director: Michael Cuesta

Cast: Josh Lucas, Lena Headey, Brian Cox

A man’s newly transplanted heart leads him on a dangerous journey to find out who murdered its donor. –IMDB

Tell Tale is supposedly based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which I haven’t read.

Okay, so how do I start this one? Lets say that I’m a little confused with how I feel about this.  On one hand, I thought it wasn’t all that great.  I predicted a part of the ending twist like halfway through.  Then, I’m trying to really understand the whole concept of how a donated organ, like the heart is what is compelling its recipient to act without control in avenging the donor’s death, in a way. Its a little far-fetched, but then I thought about The Eye and figured if I could accept that movie, why not this one?

tell tale

On the other hand, I really liked the performances.  Josh Lucas was great with what he had and Lena Headey was also fantastic.  My only issue was that it felt a little one dimensional.  Goodness, I never knew I’d actually know how to use this word related to movies.  The story itself is so slow, uneventful, predictable and just seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere.  I feel like I’m being harsh but this could’ve been better especially with the extraordinary cast they had on hand.  Everything that happened was really predictable even if there were moments, I kind of wondered what the whole deal was until it kind of started to make sense about the same time that I figured out that ending twist.

Tell Tale kind of put me to sleep a little especially when I really wanted to like this because it sounded interesting.  I just couldn’t get into it. Plus, its not a long movie, okay? So feeling boring and dragged out shouldn’t happen and it unfortunately did.

What did you think of Tell Tale? 

THERE YOU GO!

Three reviews! I expected to make them a little shorter so I apologize if it was extremely long. Netflix is just killing me here.  So, after some late night movie watching and spending some much needed quality time with my boyfriend after a busy holidays running around having fun with family and friends, we sat down and binged through a few movies so guess what? Another triple feature tomorrow but I promise, it’ll be shorter 😉 At least I’ll try.

Future Cops (1993)

Its been a while since I’ve done a foreign movie so I’ve been all about changing it up, so I went to my collection and pulled out this flick! The other name for this one is Street Fighter. Just to give you an idea of what you will be expecting. Its one that I’ve been looking for since forever.  I had it on VHS and then it just didn’t work anymore..so I went hunting for a new one and it was impossible to find.  I ended up finding it a few months ago.

future copsDirector: Wong Jing

Cast: Dicky Cheung, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Simon Yam, Chingmy Yau, Charlie Yeung, Ekin Cheng, Andy Hui, Richard Ng, King-Tan Yuen, Aaron Kwok

In 2043, the world is completely different.  Judge Yu is about to send the triad leader Vega to jail. In the midst of all the chaos during his imprisonment, the future cops, Ryu (Aaron Kwok), Balrog (Andy Lau), Dalsat (Simon Yam), Guile (Jacky Cheung) are trying to stop his gang leader, Ken (Ekin Cheng) leading two others, Honda and Sagat.  However, they learn that Ken and company have time travelled back to 1993 when the Judge was only in his 20s to brainwash or kill him, so that it will change the course of events in 2043.  Shortly after, Balrog, Dalsat and Guile also travel and end up landing on the roof of Tai Hung (Dicky Cheung).  They end up making a deal to help Tai Hung gain respect at the high school and get the girl he likes, Charlie (Charlie Yeung) while he helps them search for the young Judge and protect him.  It now turns into a race between the future gangs and the future cops to see who can find the young Judge first.  In the process, they get a bit of help with Tai Hung’s sister (Chingmy Yau), his mom (King-Tan Yuen) and her boyfriend (Richard Ng).

Right off the description up there, you can already see that its going be a cheesy flick, especially now that its 20 years after and we have such good CGI.  This movie is based right off of the characters of Street Fighter.  We have the more noble characters trying to protect justice while there are the triad members who will do anything to not be caught.  Its not going to go down in the greats and some people will even find it a horrible watch.  For me, it may have laughable CGI effects when they are doing all the fighting sequences with the Street Fighter moves, but its just a silly action comedy. I still find it incredibly funny and ridiculous in a good way.

future cops 5

Why do I like this? First of all, its my type of comedy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Comedy is very personal.  Your genre could be different from mine and its going to be hard to appeal to everyone.  This one appeals to me and I find it incredibly cheesy funny.  On top of that, they have a great strong cast.  No doubt though, that they did try to build it on the 4 biggest male superstars in that era of Hong Kong show biz: they were known as the 4 Kings in the entertainment business.  This one features 3 of them: Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Aaron Kwok.  Aaron Kwok does only a cameo so we’ll leave him out for now.  You all should know Andy Lau by now, he did Infernal Affairs for one.  I’ve also talked about him in a previous review for Tricky Brains. Andy Lau is amazing at what he does.  He may have started as a singer but his acting skills are fantastic and as a comedian, he does a great job.

future_cops 3

I have never been a huge fan of Jacky Cheung and his movies.  Not that he did a lot either.  He focused on his forte and thats singing.  He has an awesome voice and in this one, he does sing a bit.  However, as mature and friendly as he always seems to be on stage, this movie really showed his humorous side and its just fun to see a new character for him.

The rest of the cast definitely deserves some mentioning and introducing.  The lead is possibly Dicky Cheung who is awesome in the area of jokes and being stupid.  That is his forte and he is damn good at it. King Tan Yuen and Richard Ng are now older in the business but still, they were red hot back then as supporting comedy actor and actresses.  King Tan Yuen eventually went on to do supporting roles in Hong Kong TV series where she shined with comedic roles as well.  Of course, how can we forget the great Simon Yam? He did Killzone with Donnie Yen and I personally think he has aged into a very handsome man.  Aside from that we have Charlie Yeung, who has made a comeback in recent years in some action films, her first being New Policy Story across Jackie Chan  (I should rewatch that one soon).

future cops 1

Being based on a video game, probably did this one crazy wonders, it put a really nice spinoff to the game that was super popular in the 90s.  It brought alive the characters and even though it was horrible CGI, back then, I think in the 90s it would be at par to most of it.  The storyline was pretty decent and they used really awesome jokes.  Some moments were ridiculous, but they were ridiculously funny.  They gave a twist to what the future would be like as well.

Looking back at these movies, cheesy as they are, they were a lot of fun to watch.  Of course, its part of nostalgia to me. However this one held up really well. I had a crazy laugh rewatching this the other day. Its definitely a great source of entertainment. If you can take cheesy action movies, get right on board and give this a shot (its on Youtube, I believe), you won’t regret it!