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Review Rumble in the Bronx (1995): After previous attempts this was the one that made Jackie Chan a household name in North America!

genre: martial arts, action

Battle Creek Brawl and The Protector were two serious attempts of Jackie Chan to become a succes in the U.S. but unfortunately the American audience wasn't ready for him yet. And honestly I don't really get why it took so long for them to warm up to Jackie. Since all it took for me was one film on German television dubbed in German to get completely charmed by his antics. I believe it was Drunken Master. Better still even my grandma loved it. And she normally didn't like action films that much. So finally with Rumble in the Bronx Jackie Chan got through. 

It definitely is one of his better films. It's fast, low on plot and full of action. Most of the film Jackie Chan as Keung is dealing with the local gang who are on his case. He tried to prevent the gang members from damaging a car that was loaned to his uncle. His intervention caused Nancy ( Françoise Yip) to lose a race and naturally Keung needs to pay for that. The way it's done is pretty brutal and is something you will have to see for yourself. But from then on Keung either dishes pain or receives it to our amusement. The biggest and most memorable action sequence is where Keung is tired of playing nice and is out to punish the gang for ruining Elaine's supermarket. (Elaine played by Anita Mui tricked Keung into making him help her out with her supermarket. She is angry and devastated by the destruction especially since they were not there to hurt her but teach Keung a lesson). It's a scene I can watch over and over again since you will see him do things you rarely have seen before (even today). Like him jumping through a shopping cart. (He makes it look easy but in the blooper reel it is demonstrated it was far from easy.)

Slightly before this big fight another storyline pops up where Angelo one of the gang members gets a hold of some very precious diamonds which he hides in the cushion of Danny's wheelchair. Danny is Nancy's little brother and Keung's  neighbour. See you don't need an elaborate plot to bring Jackie Chan where he needs to be. While entertaining this plot element is only memorable for the ridiculous hovercraft chase in Vancouver. Did I say Vancouver? I meant the Bronx, New York of course.

Rumble in the Bronx is old school Jackie Chan which is something you like or not. I happen to love it. And let me tell you that this film beats Rush Hour ten times over.  

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Review Winchester (2018): Horrifying waste of potential and talent!

genre: horror, fantasy

You have to ask yourself how it's possible to make a boring film when you even got the chance to use the actual Winchester Mystery House itself. A mansion that is believed to be haunted and once owned by Sarah Winchester, widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester. A house that was under permanent construction for mysterious reasons. Sounds compelling right?

One thing that Winchester got wrong from the start was the lack of build up in atmosphere and tension. For films like this it's key to increase the dread. Instead we get jump scares that lose their effectiveness after the first three times. Still I wasn't ready to give up on the film yet since I had hope that Helen Mirren at least would deliver that something extra. She sure was dressed for it. I couldn't help but think that she might have been told she was in another adaptation of The Woman in Black since she easily could have been a ghost herself. At times they did make it seem like something was wrong with her. Then they forget all about her and make her act like this sweet delicate old lady who has a big heart. Now wouldn't it have been something if that was an act on her part to mislead you.

In hindsight had they added that twist it would have been silly but a lot of fun. Unfortunately nothing of the sort. Because if you were hoping for something clever than I will have to disappoint you. Winchester is not trying to scare you but send you a political message. And I simply don't understand why they could combine the two. Surely the message would have been more powerful if you confronted your audience with some harsh truths. They easily could have been done this but for some reason they kept it PG-13. 

Jason Clarke did the best he could and probably is the one who gave the film some credibility. His character Dr. Eric Price is subjected to some events that often seem more comedic than terrifying but because he plays it straight all the way you keep believing. 

Winchester had such potential to be the next Insidious. But instead we get a farce that insults you with it's political message. It's not worth your time. 

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Review Bleeding Steel (2017): I admire the ambition but unfortunately that is simply not enough!

genre: action, science fiction

Bleeding Steel certainly is not the worst Jackie Chan has been involved in. I might even say that compared to most of his recent outings this one is one of the decent ones. However that doesn't negate the issues that prevent this from being a good film.

First of all, science fiction and Jackie Chan don't go together. At least not in this way. Apart from one plot element I am not even sure why they went this route. Especially since the film is quite afraid to go over the top and make a real spectacle of it. I mean what use is a super powered villain if he isn't given the chance to play. Although I am glad to see that Callan Mulvey is making quite a career for himself. Still I would have really liked it had they actually made him more essential to the plot and be more of a threat. Instead they let his subordinate called The Woman in Black (Tess Haubrich) do all the work.  Tess looks a bit like Eva Green so I constantly was wondering why she looked so familiar. And I must admit Tess was a believable henchwoman.

The script is awful. It tries to be clever and surprising while it is painfully obvious from the start how events will play out. To a point where the charade is just insulting to the audience. But I did like that one plot element anybody with a heart can relate to. Although it also exposes an issue. That Bleeding Steel takes itself far too seriously. Even with the comic relief mostly provided by Show Lo as Leeson there is not that much to laugh at.

Now complaining about the plot in a Jackie Chan film might be a little ridiculous since most of his films don't rely on story that much. Still most of the Jackie Chan classics have strong narratives and more important great direction. Here is where Bleeding Steel fails completely. For some reason they thought that inexperienced writer / director Leo Zhang would be able to handle such a big and ambitious project. And to be honest it could have been far worse. Only does beg the question why they didn't ask more experienced directors to do this project. They had a real big opportunity to make a film that is appealing to a large international audience. But it is far too lacking to make a real impression.

Last but not least the action. It's solid. With here and there a hint of spectaculair. Only it's never the super exciting and adrenaline pumping kind. They purposely toned down the violence and made it more cartoonish which I think was a big mistake. The big action sequence in the beginning of the film needed to make an impact and at times it was close but director Leo Zhang refused to. A bit more stylish bloodshed would have made me a believer for sure. I am also clueless who this film is made for. I don't think a lot of older Jackie Chan fans like me would appreciate this. Kids wouldn't like this either since action and spectacle wise it's not big enough.

Not super bad but it simply didn't do it for me. But I do have to add that Jackie Chan is still capable of kicking ass. Let us only hope that he will pick better projects in future before he stops doing action.

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Review Delirium a.k.a. Le foto di Gioia (1987): Flawed but with a few redeeming elements to make it worth your time!

genre: giallo, horror, mystery, thriller

No doubt the poster will raise a lot of questions. And perhaps gives you the idea you are about to watch a cheap science fiction film where aliens shaped like giant eyeballs are about to take over the world. Rest assured it's nothing like that.

In essence Delirium a.k.a. Le foto di Gioia is an old school giallo full with the typical elements you can expect in the genre. The red herrings for example might not be that strong but they are still quite effective. You will have a swell time deducing the identity of the killer since director Lamberto Bava made sure you won't know until the very end. Amongst them is a young man bound to his wheelchair who keeps stalking Gioia (Gloria in the English version). She clearly is disturbed by him but allows it to happen for reasons you'll find out later in the film. Set aside that reason it still is a pretty sick man if you ask me. The real clever part like in most giallo's the killer could be anyone. Male or female. So you will be looking at any character very critically.

Gioia played by Serena Grandi is a big redeeming element. She is one of the many beautiful and sexy women in this film who offer more than just looks. However she towers above the other ones since her charm is completely magnetic. It has to be said that this film very easily could have been turned in one big sleazefest. But the eroticism is surprisingly moderate and tasteful. You actually are made to care about Gioia and the other models. That is good since it instils the little tension that otherwise would have been lacking.

At the time this was made Sabrina Salerno was popular because of her song " Boys Boys Boys ". The song was catchy but to be frank I doubt it was the actual song that made her a hit. More likely that it had to do with her breasts getting all wet and everything. Good memories. Sabrina who is named Sabrina has a small role in this film and unfortunately is one of the victims. The way she is murdered is quite horrible and sickening. One could argue that it's done for spectacle sake. However it completely rhymes with the mindset of the killer. Last but nor least there is Daria Nicolodi as Evelyn. She is a master in portraying these mysterious characters who could go full psycho or simply is the most endearing. As a veteran in the giallo genre Dario knows how to emphasize both without calling too much suspicion to herself.

Perhaps the most important and best redeeming element is the mindset of the killer. It's a little disappointing that not much background is given on the killer and that the motivation is lacking. However Lamberto Bava still managed to make this killer interesting by having the person see things a certain way which brings me back to the image shown in the poster. It's an example of where style beats substance. With this kind of imagery you don't need that much imagination to know the killer's mind is warped. At the same time a case could be made that all the events in this film aren't real and these could be nightmares a person is having. Although there are no scenes to back up this theory and it would have made this film even more interesting. 

Delirium is a fun giallo that does just enough to make it worth your while. While it might be flawed it's a film made with love and a lot of creativity and you will have a blast because of that.

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Review Lethal Weapon 4 (1998): It's solid but already was running out of ideas!

genre: action, crime

Lethal Weapon 4 for a long time was a film that I liked a lot. Now after having seen it again for the sixth time or so I have some reservations. It does seem to be the lesser of all the sequels. Why? Because this part already was running out of ideas. It was more like a repeat of previous films where Jet Li was signed on as the main villain. And while he did a good job I do think he was underused.

I am not sure who to blame here. The writers or director Richard Donner. Although very likely it's the writers since they seemed to have forgotten that Mel Gibson's character Riggs is a Lethal Weapon. I know that the excuse they use is that Martin Riggs has gotten old and simply is not as lethal as he used to be. I get it. And to be honest that was quite interesting if not for the fact that most of the time Riggs is completely inept. Murtaugh (Danny Glover) who already was too old for this shit three films ago seems to be on par or even more skilled than before. How come Martin has lost his touch so much? It also makes the end fight between Riggs, Murtaugh and Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li) a little laughable. It would have been far more exciting had Riggs been on top of his game and still would have gotten his ass beaten by Wah Sing Ku. That would have also been more respectful towards Jet Li since he is criminally neglected. They could have allowed him to make his scenes count.

Then there is the addition of Chris Rock. We all know that Chris Rock is a very funny guy but here in this film he barely is. Like in previous films it's Joe Pesci who provides the most comedic relief. But I don't blame Rock. Again the writers have dropped the ball and failed to let him do his thing. The worst offence is the fact that the action is not as exciting as it was in previous films. There is one spectacular and memorable car chase scene but everything else is pretty generic. You have one of the most skilled action stars at your disposal and then you just let him stand there and do a kick or two. Are you kidding me? I know I am repeating myself but I just want to point out how awful it is that Jet Li has been so underused.

Now there are some redeeming factors that make Lethal Weapon 4 enjoyable. Mel and Danny are solid as ever especially now both are too old for crazy shenanigans. I liked how Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) finally was respected and seen as part of the family. Leo always was quite a tragic character who got bullied by Martin and Roger even when he did his best to accommodate and help them out above and beyond. The credit scene where photos of all the cast and crew members are shown was nice and touching. Definitely fitting as end of the franchise. While I am curious what they are going to do with Lethal Weapon 5 I don't really want that to happen. If both Riggs and Murtaugh were too old then what would that make them now?

Overall a solid part but a whole lot less strong than the previous films in the franchise.

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Review Infamous First Light (PS4): Is this standalone DLC worth your time?

genre: action, adventure
year: 2014

Infamous First Light puts you in the shoes of Fetch (Abigail Walker) and tells her story up to the point she got captured by antagonist Eugene. Her story is easily more heartbreaking and dramatic than than the story of Delsin Row. But as you are aware Fetch only has neon power so how does this translate into gameplay?

Basically Fetch doesn't play that differently from Delsin in neon mode but at times you will miss the ability to change up powers since that does make things more diverse and fun. Actually it made me want to go back to play Second Son again. Of course the world is a lot smaller and you will have significant less challenges. But more than enough to enable you to upgrade the skills of Fetch something I can wholeheartedly recommend to do so since like Delsin you can't take much damage and you will need all the advantage you can get. Now it hasn't been that long I played this game but I can barely remember what I did since there is nothing in the game that stands out apart from some story elements. I can't help but feel that Sucker Punch dropped the ball here to give us more background on this world especially in relation to previous games. Like telling us what happened to Cole and other conduits and if these conduits are aware there are more of them. Because this technically could mean more Infamous games can be made in future. Just read that there is another DLC package called Cole's Legacy where the connection to previous games become more apparent. If you ask me that is some BS right there. This is why I dislike DLC. It's not intended to give you more story or gameplay but it's an easy way to make money. Damn you Sony and Sucker Punch.

That being said compared to Infamous 2: Festival of Blood for example Infamous First Light is a big improvement. It was very enjoyable while it lasts. This game will make you appreciate Fetch a whole lot better. When I saw her in my evil karma playthrough I really felt more connected to her and Delsin. I wouldn't mind to see more of Fetch and Delsin together. But then they really have to step it up even further. So is it worth it? I bought it on sale for 3,95 euro on PSN if I remember correctly.  And for that kind of money it definitely is. If it is offered for 9,95 euro or higher than it won't be. 

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Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017): I was completely immersed then the ending happens!

genre: crime, drama, comedy

Three Billboards... starts outs as advertised with a light comedic approach to a serious topics like crime, sickness, grief and more. But then twists and turns in surprising ways that makes you root and question characters at the same time. Even to the point it gets dark and twisted.

Now I do have to remark that this film is a black comedy more than it's a crime drama. Meaning that a lot of reality is thrown out the door and that crime solving and everything tied to it isn't  that important in this film. It's more about the characters and how they evolve through the events that has put them together. There aren't many films that give you character development to this extent. Although it has to be said that the characters aren't nearly as fleshed out as they could and should have. However the performances will make you overlook that since they are phenomenal. The Oscars for Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand are well deserved if you ask me. Especially in case of Sam Rockwell. His character Dixon is the one who has the biggest transformation in the film. He was on a path of evil and destruction but then gets set straight by the words of his late Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

All Mildred (Frances McDormand) wants is for the police to solve the case of her raped and murdered daughter. Out of desperation and frustration she feels compelled to put up these billboards to remind them of it. And a lot of people are against this action. Why? My guess is that they want to move on and forget it happened. Or worse they simply don't care. Still if that were true then why do some of the people go ballistic. Is it that they have something to hide? More questions pop up but not one of them get answered. It's up to you what to make of it although writer / director Martin McDonagh makes it clear where his sympathies lie. Or at least I thought so. The ending gives us a twist on the morality of the characters and contradicts the tone of the entire film prior to it. I am not sure what to make of it. For me it ruined the characters I was liking or started to like. Why would you do this? All this time we already learned here and there that there was more to these characters and that they would learn from their mistakes. Not the case in the ending. Why would this film make me go on this journey with them to then say don't mind them they are a bunch of idiots. The film had the potential to end on a good and positive note but felt like becoming dark just for the sake of it.  And not because of the reason you think. I was on board for these characters to get in touch with reality and move on with their lives. I actually liked it that Dixon got inspired. But to then go against all the development they had acquired? Why ?

Overall I truly enjoyed Three Billboards... but that ending almost ruined it for me. Fortunately it did not detract enough from the many strong moments in the film. Comedy, drama and relentless darkness all in one film. You got to hand it to  Martin McDonagh it's quite an accomplishment. However that doesn't excuse him from the huge mistreatment of his main characters at the end. Still like I said the performances were phenomenal. And I can recommend this film for that alone.

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Review Blue Thunder (1983): Insane, terrifying but excellent action thriller!

genre: action, crime, thriller

For me the Eighties were a decade that had the most brilliant films and TV Shows. It was real fun being a kid in these times since there was always something on you liked. Ranging from the most fantastic to super dramatic. The Eighties seemed to be specialised in making shows about technological vehicles like Knight Rider, Street Hawk and Airwolf. Blue Thunder like Airwolf was about a highly advanced helicopter. While Blue Thunder features the same helicopter with the same gadgets from the film the show only was loosely based on it. So if you were expecting a kid friendly film about a super cool helicopter you are going to be surprised and shocked. 

Blue Thunder the film is pretty dark and quite disturbing if you think about it. It paints a very grim picture of a future world which was far removed from the world in 1983, the year this film was made. Sadly our current world is on par or far worse off.  Since the prediction of this film has come true. We live in a world where spying has become easy. Almost every electronic device can be used to record or listen in and often we allow this too happen. Enter Blue Thunder. Sure it's an impressive ship that can be extremely lethal. However that isn't the terrifying part.  The tools it contains to listen in and record people without them noticing is what makes it scary. Scarier are the plans the government has with this helicopter. 

Officer Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider), a hot shot helicopter pilot is very sceptical of the helicopter even when he gets to fly the monstrosity. His young field partner Officer Richard Lymangood (Daniel Stern) is excited and thoroughly impressed with the ship because he probably hasn't thought it through yet. Blue Thunder starts harmless enough where both Frank and Richard are goofing off a little. But soon things escalate for them in an almost nerve-racking and super thrilling adventure they did not count on. I will spare you the details but I can honestly say that I did not expect it. Especially since it doesn't spare the audience that much. Granted some of the events are completely insane even for today's standards but the fear is real. This film basically is encouraging you to be paranoid. I also have to mention Kate (Candy Clark). She is the most amazing girlfriend ever. She might be wacky but she is loyal to a tee and never ever questions her boyfriend Frank. She supports him even when he doesn't want her to. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see this. Malcolm McDowell is in this too and like often is very unpleasant. In the commentary it's mentioned that he was terrified of flying in helicopters but you won't be able to tell this at all. The actors were required to actually sit and fly in them as if they were piloting the things. He would have never taken on the role had he known he was supposed to fly. Just shows you how good of an actor he is.  

Blue Thunder is a true gem that gives you more truth than you probably bargained for. Insane, terrifying but excellent action thriller!

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