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Review Saban's Power Rangers a.k.a. Power Rangers (2017): Enough there to make me excited for the sequel!

genre: super hero, action, adventure, science fiction

To be honest I wasn't the biggest fan of the Power Rangers. But I must admit I truly enjoyed the Super Sentai ripped scenes. That for me was the real draw and everything original was something I could do without. So I was real curious how Hollywood would fare if they had to recreate everything themselves.

For one thing it was nice to see them take the premise and source material serious. Perhaps a little too serious, but no, I found it to be real effective. The teens are given powers and responsibility they themselves don't think they are prepared for. They are having fun with the new found powers but after that truth and reality sinks in what the price will be. It's not like they can ignore them like nothing happened. Nor can they deny that they don't even know if these powers can be trusted. On top of that they barely know each other. They are supposed to work together? Against what exactly? Most of the film is about the teens dealing with their own issues and acceptance. This easily could have been boring. But it never was. Although I do think that it came at the cost of the action scenes. There are a few and they certainly are adequate. Only they slightly miss the impact of what the original Super Sentai scenes did. But I have the utmost confidence they will remedy this in the sequel. And yes a sequel is coming which is very good news since this is a franchise deserving of more and better.

What surprised me the most was that I actually liked all of the teens. They were extremely charming. Not a single annoying one in between them. And I found myself rooting for them all the way. It's not their fault that the writing was a little lazy when it came to their characterization and how they behaved towards each other. Except for the darkness and bleakness infused in the story. I think someone really needs to explain to Hollywood that you can do serious without having to add this much darkness. I mean we are still talking giant monsters and robots here. A little light heartedness and more comic relief would not have hurt the film. 

As much as I enjoyed Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa she is no match for the original from the Super Sentai series and Carla Perez from who portrayed the character when replacing the stock footage. They brought in that theatrical and over the top wickedness that made it fun. Banks tries but doesn't really interact that much with other so she remains pretty cool and composed. 

Overall this film was very enjoyable and a whole lot more fun than The Equalizer 2 for example. Did I just compare these two together? Yes, I did. Power Rangers might take itself a little seriously it still is providing fun and entertainment. The Equalizer 2 is just a pretentious piece of crap that is no fun at all.  So yes enough here to make me look forward to the sequel.

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Review The Equalizer 2 (2018): Even worse than the original!

genre: action, crime, thriller

WOW! Standards sure have been lowered significantly. All I could read was praise for this sequel that according to Denzel Washington himself was better than the original. But not only was it worse it's not even entertaining. 

While the original was disappointing and underwhelming it at least managed to entertain me somewhat. The Equalizer 2 is boring from the get go. Yes, there were some good moments. Only those were brief and played at your heartstrings. This of course was done deliberately to glorify Denzel's McCall. Like it wasn't enough to actually show more of him doing the Equalizer things. The few times he comes into action there is zero tension or excitement. It also does take a while for things to be happening. I mean the pacing is incredibly slow. This wouldn't have been a problem for me if I was made to care about the characters and their events. Like in the original everything feels so detached and distant. Has director Antoine Fuqua even seen the TV Show? Edward Woodward as Robert McCall might have been cold blooded and effective he was passionate and determined about giving the people the justice they deserved. For Washington's character it seems more like a remedy, therapy or just a hobby. 

The little plot that is present is so weak and predictable that I am surprised so many people bought into the hype and it's praise. Deep down this film is even too embarrassing to be shown very late at night. I figured out what was going on the minute I saw the actor appear. Talk about typecasting. So they couldn't even bother to hire multiple actors to misdirect you? The motivation given for this character is the laziest I have seen. Then what about the action? Surely this must be good? Look, it's always compelling and entertaining to see a main character break bones and what not. However in this day and age, you should at least try to up the ante by making it more interesting. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. In this case I wanted to have seen a decent shoot-out and combat scene. One where McCall does meet his match or worse where old age has caught up with him. Very simple ways to make it look like there is something at stake. But no, they couldn't be bothered. There isn't a single scene Washington is in danger or close to. 

Overall this is going to be a giant waste of your time. Disregard the good reviews for this film. They either have been bought or simply don't want to admit this is bad. Whatever their reason they are lying.   

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Review King of the Kickboxers a.k.a. No Retreat, No Surrender 4 (1990): Superior to Blood Brothers and on par with the first two in the franchise!

genre: martial arts, action

The No Retreat, No Surrender film series is a very unique one where each film is made by the same production team but where each film has it's own story and characters. They even came up with the idea to resurrect Bruce Lee to train the main character of the original. In this one they blatantly rip off Kickboxer. For the most part it's the same revenge story where here and there events play out a little differently.

First off all, Billy Blanks is certainly no Tong Po but as villains go he is pretty nasty. I like how they don't even bother to explain where he actually comes from. I am pretty sure he is not a native Thai and yet is respectful of some Thai traditions. I say some because like I said, he is pretty nasty. He has no qualms raping and killing people. But why a guy like him would follow orders from someone else is beyond me. Especially since the big boss is far from menacing and even makes jokes about Khan. Another thing they don't explain. In any case the film starts with Khan (Billy Blanks) killing Jake's brother after he has won some championship. Khan tells him that no foreigner is allowed to be champion. Are they seriously trying to sell Khan as a native? Come on. Jake also gets beaten up but is left alive. Ten years later we see Jake being a badass cop with very little regard to his colleagues and authority. He does things his own way and gets results. However his captain is tired of his shenanigans and sends him of on another mission in Thailand. At first Jake (Loren Avedon) refuses but then sees Khan in the snuff film he is examining and gets his rage all going. Before you know it Jake is in Thailand where like usual he does things his own way. But maybe it's me. What business does a New York detective have in Thailand? Sure Interpol requested it. So? He still would not have the legal authority or means to do anything. Of course I am aware that this plot element is just to move the story along. But it's a little lazy don't you think?

Then someone out of the blue aids him by referring him to a master who almost defeated Khan. Why would you help this obnoxious American who had insulted and beaten up your fellow students? Jake himself even asks him why he is helping out. Then he answers because his father was American too. This kind of reasoning is beyond me. I know, I know, it's to move the plot along. The master's name is Prang played by Keith Cooke Hirabayashi who you might have seen in China O' Brien (with Cynthia Rothrock). The dynamics between Prang and Jake are fun. It's when Loren Avedon is on his own that he tends to ham it up. Although somehow he is selling it and you do feel like Khan needs to be annihilated by Jake.

The action is top notch and a whole lot better than what Blood Brothers had to offer. The choreography is truly excellent and feels just as much as a Hong Kong flick as the first two in the franchise did. King of the Kickboxers is proof you make an entertaining film as long as you focus on the good stuff your audience is watching the film in the first place. Also this low budget affair is a masterpiece compared to reboot Kickboxer

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Review No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers (1990): The weakest in the series but still offers some martial arts goodness!

genre: martial arts, action

The third in the No Retreat, No Surrender film series without Corey Yuen involved. And it's immediately noticeable. The scale of the action and stunts is a lot smaller and the fights are less spectaculair. The acting is truly atrocious. And there barely is a plot to speak of. However there is a charm to this film that keeps it enjoyable through and through every time you watch it.

Loren Avedon already proved himself to be able to carry a film. Only this time around he gets support from Keith Vitali. The two do have good chemistry but it becomes painfully obvious that Keith Vitali is not blessed with the acting gene. Now I know most of you will wonder why this is an issue for me in a martial arts flick like this. Dramatic performances and events can help make the fights and stunts more compelling and exciting. And it's not like I am expecting Shakespearean performances. However it would have been nice if both Vitali and Avedon would have sold their sorrow upon finding out their murdered father. It was very cringy. The animosity between the brothers also is not explained. Would it really have hurt the writers to come up with an event that caused the rift between them? Luckily the film does have a good villain. Rion Hunter plays Franco with much delight and he actually is believable as the bad guy even when he indulges himself to laugh like a cartoon villain. Then there is Wanda Acuna. She is ridiculously hot and certainly impresses in the small role she has. Definitely a much better actress than Vitali and Avedon.

Naturally the main draw is the action. While it's not on par with the previous films it was exciting and entertaining enough. Sometimes it was a little too obvious that stunt doubles were used. Apart from that the fight choreography was quite good. Even with Corey Yuen gone it does feel more like a Hong Kong production than an American one, And I am grateful it is because that is what makes this franchise so enjoyable.

Overall a must watch for martial arts fans and people who love Hong Kong movies.

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Review Ip Man ak.a. Yip Man (2008): Without a doubt a kungfu classic!

genre: martial arts, action, drama, biography

The first time I had watched Ip Man I was thoroughly impressed because of the way the story was told. It actually tried to do more than just serve as context for the fights. Some of the themes that were explored are quite heavy handed but never to the extent it will depress you.

As a biography however it simply won't do. For that it's too fantastic and lacking. Ip Man is portrayed like he is a hero in the same vein as Wong Fei-hung. Perhaps some facts that are presented are true but I haven't been able to find many sources to verify them. I assume that most of what occurs in this film is fiction. So if you were expecting to learn more about the real Ip Man then I think you will be disappointed. Then again if you are watching Donnie Yen films to be educated you are doing something wrong. Speaking of Donnie Yen. He certainly has become a better actor. He actually is capable of acting non verbally. Expressing a lot with very little. It's therefore a pity that they haven't given him a deeper story to work with. But most of the dramatic events he is involved in are very effective and make the majority of the fights incredibly exciting.

The fight choreography is phenomenal which should not be surprising since it's done by Sammo Hung.. There are some quick cuts here and there but never to the extent that it removes the enjoyment of the fights. And they made sure that it does look like the punches land especially when Yen does his lightning fast boxing. Like I said the dramatic events make the fights more exciting but it's also the music and the heavy tone that make you feel there is something at stake. Nationalism runs deep in the film however it makes sense and it's never offensive or ridiculous since one of the Japanese officer is shown to be fair and respectful at times. 

Ip Man looks like a film that is made with a lot of care and money but ultimately does feel like an old school Kung Fu flick. A must own for sure!

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Review How it Ends (2018): Adequate but not a title I would recommend!

genre: adventure, action, drama

How it Ends is about a man in search of his wife after apocalyptic events have caused mayhem, chaos and destruction making his quest a very hard one. The man named Will Younger played by Theo James is accompanied by father in law who he isn't on good terms with. The father in law is played by Forest Whitaker so that should provide some gravity to this film right?

In some ways certainly. However there is one aspect this film can't escape from. Bad writing. The story is incredibly poor and none of what occurs is remotely fresh or creative. It's the cast and the dynamics between Withaker and James that keep things interesting. But for the rest it's quite a predictable affair. Which is a real shame since this would have been the ideal platform to do something wild and absurd. I don't understand why Netflix often opts for the safe films. I get that they don't have the budget of big Hollywood productions. But still more reason to focus on an original or at least creative narrative. It also doesn't help that the film takes itself far too seriously. It's like it's afraid to joke around. The action and adventure elements are quite generic and far from stylish. You would think a General would have more tactical and strategic insight. But he acts like most humans would act put in the same situation. Then what was the point of making a big deal of his profession? Just to point out that he is strict, rigid and difficult? Talk about stereotypes. Wasted opportunity if you ask me.

Adventure and action wise it's decent enough. But nothing you have seen before. Again why doesn't Netflix push for more creativity? There are too many films on Netflix that are like this. Too predictable and generic. Compared to how they treat their shows the films still need a lot of work. In any case How it Ends is adequate but not a title I would recommend.

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Review American Assassin (2018): Very dumb!

genre: action, crime, espionage

As a big film fan I have seen my fair share of good ones and real bad ones. Most of the time the bad ones are so uniquely bad that they become entertaining. American Assassin is not a terrible film but it is one where you will feel duped especially because of the utter stupidity displayed on the screen. Unfortunately this stupidity is not as enjoyable as it could have been.

The biggest mistake this film makes is that it takes itself far too seriously. Except Keaton. Michael Keaton is very aware this is a crap film and goes maniacal and comedic whenever he can. And thank god for that because he at least makes it worth watching. As for Dylan O'Brien as Mitch Rapp who is most famous for the Maze Runner franchise. He is miscast. I didn't buy his path of vengeance one bit. I wanted to and I did give him the benefit of te doubt. He just lacks the subtle acting skills for that. You need to be able to express pain non verbally. With him they used flashbacks or other visual aids. And normally that does work but somehow in American Assassin nothing has real impact. It's like everyone involved went through the motions without actually caring about anything. Even the supposed dramatic moments barely arrive. And if they do it's so generic and casual you wonder why they even bothered. Taylor Kitsch as villain also doesn't work. At first I thought they were going to make him a double spy or something. That would have made things more interesting. But no, he is just a plain villain who wants to do evil things. The reason for why he wants to do this is also one of the most generic ones. I don't know it does seem like some work and money has been put into this production but I don't think anyone cared one bit. And that is exactly how you feel at the end. You won't care.

Total waste of time. I can't believe this is based on a bestseller. But perhaps the filmmakers left out the juicy and meaty parts. Who knows? It doesn't matter. The film stinks and is very dumb! Like eighty percent of the events are too ridiculous for words which would have been fine if they made me laugh. But nothing of the sort.

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Review The Debt Collector (2018): A good Scott Adkins film!

genre: action, crime

To be honest I wasn't expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it delivers on all the action goodness you want from a Scott Adkins film but also that it has an entertaining story to tell. Actually this does seem more to be about the characters than the action.

At the core are the dynamics between Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor. Scott as the rookie debt collector who is very green when it comes to being evil and shady. Then you have veteran Mandylor who already has given up on doing the right thing and just lives from day to day. Adkins has a lot of trouble adjusting to this kind of work but manages to adapt eventually. And I think Mandylor has a lot to do with that. He was charming and had very good chemistry with Adkins. I think Adkins understood that he needed to respond to him instead of playing the lead. And that was very entertaining to watch. The other characters were adequate as well. Although Tony Todd seemed like he was sleepwalking. It wasn't bad by any means. Still he couldn't be bothered to make the character he was playing more interesting. I hardly recognized Michael Paré but his minimal effort seemed to be very effective. Such a contrast. Go figure! The tone of this film is pretty light and comedic for the most part. Then towards the end things get a little more serious and dark. The shift in tone was to be expected since you were forewarned or foretold that it was going to happen. Logically speaking it felt slightly forced. I don't know. This could be that curse a lot of current films are suffering from. Like there is a law that they need to be dark en relentless. I myself was hoping for more optimism and positivity or a much better climax. Then again it's not a film to give you food for thought so this could be me nitpicking a little too much.

Action wise it's more the brutal kind where again Adkins shows how skilled he is. Louis Mandylor doesn't fight often but he does make it look like he can box which makes sense since he started out his career as a boxer. He is also an avid fan and practitioner of Muay Thai Kickboxing. The fights certainly are exciting and cathartic.

Overall The Debt Collector is a far better film than you would expect. Certainly worth a watch and definitely better than Adkins' Accident Man.

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Review Accident Man (2018): Decent B action flick but Scott Adkins has done much better!

genre: action, crime, martial arts, comedy, comic book adaptation

Accident Man is a passion project from Scott Adkins. And I wished I could say that I understood why that is. Even if it does have some decent elements for the most part it's too ambitious for it's own good. 

This film is trying to be a gangster flick a la Guy Ritchie mixed with martial arts action. Some say it is very reminiscent of John Wick but I don't agree with that at all. Maybe lore wise but action wise it's less stylish and lacking the choreography to make it look hard hitting. There are too many times when you can tell that Michael Jai White for example is waiting for the  punch or kick to happen. It looks fake. Besides the very effective comedic vibe detracts from the seriousness. It rarely feels like there is something at stake. Perhaps with more build up and better characterization I would have bought it more.

I really like Scott Adkins and he clearly wanted to do something that stands out from his other films. However he should have come up with a better story and lore building. I dug his narration although I do wonder what the overall effect would have been if this had been done by someone more prominent like Morgan Freeman. Then again maybe they were just following the comics. I wouldn't know since I am not familiar with them. (Did some checking and saw that the narrative is straight from the comics.) Perhaps this adaptation is very faithful to the comics. Still it doesn't change the fact that in essence we are dealing with a character you hardly would root for except for his sudden change of conscience. Normally I am quite optimistic and hopeful. Although when it comes to certain people I am quite cynical and sceptical. Mike Fallon is not the type to change so quickly. They should have shown us how he was with his ex girlfriend. Then perhaps it would have been more believable. Then quite late in the movie we are exposed to a big flashback scene where we get some background on Mike and Big Ray. Tonally it feels like it comes from a different movie entirely. It certainly was one of the highlights of this film. Yet you could have left it out the film and wouldn't have changed anything. Actually having the scene left out might have sped up the narrative and given us a shorter runtime. Because damn does the film takes it time to get to the point. It's pretty obvious what's going to happen once we are introduced to Mike's friends. And it's not like the film gives these friends the meat and depth they deserve. 

Then what's left? The action. If you are familiar with Adkins then you know what you are going to get. It's decent. However it's lacking the gravity and context to make you invested in the action. Overall it's not bad but unfortunately this is not one of Scott Adkins' best.

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Filmography Scott Adkins

All the films Scott Adkins has been in. Naturally this is a work in progress so I do advise you to come back from time to time.

 Click on the titles for the full reviews.

The Accidental Spy 2001
Black Mask 2: City of Masks 2002 
Special Forces 2003
The Medallion 2003
Pit Fighter 2005
The Pink Panther 2006
The Bourne Ultimatum 2007
The Shepherd: Border Patrol 2008
Stag Night 2008
The Tournament 2009
Ninja 2009
Assassination Games 2011
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning 2012
El Gringo 2012
Zero Dark Thirty 2012
Green Street 3: Never Back Down 2013
Re-Kill 2015
Jarhead 3: The Siege 2016
Home Invasion 2016
Eliminators 2016
Savage Dog 2017
American Assassin 2017
Incoming 2018
Triple Threat 2018
Ip Man 4 TBA

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