I approached Shaolin Kingboxer with the desire to watch an incredibly bad kung-fu flick mainly because of the incredibly bad blurb on the back of the dvd box. the spelling mistakes and the sheer lack of information really made me feel that what I was going to watch was a bottom of the barrel, laughably bad martial arts film. sadly what I got was something that wasn’t actually that bad but not particularly good either.

Essentially a remake of the Serio Leone Western ‘For A few Dollars more’, the film follows a man seeking revenge who teams up with an unlikely bandit on his quest to track down the person that murdered his family.

the story isn’t original and serves merely as a way to craft a tale that can take us from one fight to the next. The fight sequences are the typical kind that you have seen time and time again in 70’s kung fu films and none of it really stands out as being something special apart from the final fight. Much like a lot of films of this sort, the stakes raise as the protagonist’s progress through the film until they reach the final ‘boss’ and then spend 20 odd minutes fighting. This is the main saving grace for Shaolin Kingboxer. the final fight is awesome and features some great choreography (and a little silliness with a character rolling across the floor with swords.) It is gripping and is a great too and fro battle which you can’t take your eyes off. whereas the other fights in the film tend to be one vs one, this battle has multiple combatants each with different fighting styles. I’d argue it might be worth sitting through the film just for this final fight.

The version I watched was dubbed and even that was disappointing in the fact it wasn’t that bad. (I never thought I’d be complaining that a film wasn’t bad). there are some odd choices of the voiceovers but none that actually rival anything on a Godfrey Ho level of bad.

All in all it isn’t a bad film. I might have enjoyed it more if I had gone into it expecting something different but the terrible dvd case tricked me. It may not be the best, but the final fight is pretty standout and stands up there with some of the best 70’s kung fu fight sequences in my view. It’s a bity silly and Hokey but it does work.

All in all if I gave it a score out of 10 I would probably put it a 5 or 6 (if I had known what i was going to be watching (mostly for the ending) but with the perceptions I went in with I would probably put the film at a 3. (it’s amazing how preconceptions can completely change how you view and enjoy a film.)

Wow! There is bad and there is laughably bad. Geo-disaster falls headfirst into the latter with such velocity you can’t help but continue to watch to see how much more inept it could possibly become.

It shares the writer of sharknado series, so right out of the gate we would never expect a masrepiece of cinema but whereas Sharknado embraced its stupid idea, this tries to be entirely serious in a mission to show us a disaster that could threaten the entire world. The cover of the dvd features more action and intensity then the entire runtime of the movie. Its not that there’s nothing good about the film its just that none of the good/amusing is intentional.

The movie follows the Mason family as they aim to rebond with one another as theyve become more distant. Matthew and Rick have the whole distant father and son thing going on and decide thry should go camping. Johanna along with her daughters kaley and Cassie decide to leave them to it. During their time away a collision with dark matter causes a hole straight through the centre of the planet. (Yeah…throigh the whole planet) . This splits the family in half, thus setting up the smallest scale earth threatening disaster known to man.

The first Matthew and Rick know of the disaster is when they wake to find their tents casually sliding down an almost endless volcano hill-like thing which would, i imagine, lead them to their death. They dont both wake up straight away and they have a fair amount of time to climb out of the tetrible cgi tent. Once out they face a climb back up the slope, during which Matthew tells his son he would never let anything harm him, right before a large rock smashes Rick in the face. Its all as dramatic as that rock.

At the top they meet a band of military people (i’d call tgem survivors but there is little going on for them to survive). They have a littl arguement but them all become friends. It almost feels they are all going on a frand picnic.

While father and son are having such a tremendous time, mother and aighters face an equal threat, they are not very good at hiding. (Hiding from an earthquake-like event doesnt seem a great idea to be fair.)

During all of the chaos, a roof collapses on Johanna and her daughters. A large rock crashes onto her leg, pinning her to the ground. Underneath we expect the crushed remnants of what used to be her leg. Instead, when finally freed we have a tiny scratch and very little pain. Its great that Johanna can walk fine as she does a lot of jogging from one situation to another.

This jogging leads her and her daughters to a old man who seems adment on dropping a brick on a motorcyclists head, a tense moment where the hide in plain sight on a rooftop, a moment of peril as they hide from the disaster on another rooftop. I mean its hard not to be truly engrossed in all this peril.

Its all over as quickly and as shoddily as it all began. The disaster just fizzles out and everyone goes on with their lives lile little happened, except now dad and son love each other again!

Many would put the first Hostel right at the beginning of the ‘toture porn’ genre (even though there were many foreign films before featuring similar themes). This is probably because it was one of the first big mainstream US films to openely advertise itself as such. It was a pretty good little horror film and made enough money to get a sequel green lit.

Hostel 2 (directed by the same director as the first, Eli Roth) doesnt aim to do much differently from the first on the outset as we yet again have a group of backpackers (this time all females) who get caught in the sights of the ‘hunting club’. But upon watching the film its clear Eli Roth has a much clearer sense of world building and characterisation. It would have been so easy for him to have done a quick easy rehash of the first but i’m happy to say this feels fresh and tense.

The three female leads have an interesting dynamic between them that feels realistic thanks to a well written script that clearly has had a lot of thought put into it. It wont win any screenwriting awards but it is nice to see some well written characters in a genre that seems to thrive on the opposite. As there backpacking holiday quickly unravels each handle things very differently, which creates some very tense and quite thought provoking consequences.

This time round we also get an almost equal time following the people who are planning on commiting sadistic acts on these girls which also highlights how the club wirks and is organised. This for me is one of the highlights as its well thought out and gives everything another dimension.

While the film does feature strong violence and gore, it doesnt focus on it as much as one might expect. It also never feels out of place as it all benefits and guides the story along its path.

The final act features some truly great twists and turns all of which work well and help elevate this film from the usual genre tropes.

I never expected to like this film as much as i did. Its easily the best in the series and is well worth your time if you like tense horror thrillers.

A warning that this review will contain spoilers to both this and to Batman vs Superman!

So…Justice League! A film many have waited so many years do. A film with such a legacy in terms of the comics and characters that many wondered if it could ever get made. Well it did get made and it split critics in two. One side said it was terrible, while the other actually quite liked it. Where do I sit? Well read on to find out.

Following on shortly after the climax of BVS (batman vs superman) Justice League starts with Bruce Wayne tracking down the people he saw in the ‘secret’ computer file in the hopes of recruiting them to his super team. For those who havnt seen BvS he is looking for Arthur Curry aka. Aquaman, Barry Allen aka. Flash and Victor Stone aka. Cyborg. He kinda already has Diana on his team and superman,well we all know what happened to superman… He died.

If the death of superman wasn’t enough, the big threat Bruce was warned of in BvS is on his way to destroy everything in the villain called Steppenwolf (not to be confused with the rock band of the same name). Everyone must unite to defeat this threat and save the Earth.

Before the film was made many people, myself included, thought the main villain was going to be Darkseid (a god of extreme power) instead of his uncle Steppenwolf, but I guess this way if they made a sequel Darksid would have reason to hate the League. Although an odd choice it does work and he is a cool bad guy that has enough power for the League to have issues. He has the problem a lot of villains have in superhero films in that we are meant to understand everything about him and his power in the space of one film. Most of this is summed up in a single montage sequence that explains the last time all races came together to stop him. It’s done in an ok fashion but I would say it was hsdled as well as it could be been.

The same issue flows through to some of our hero’s. If the viewer had never heard of Cyborg, you get very little backstory to him or really his motivations. He is used more here as a plot device not a strong superhero. To a lesser extent we get the same with Aquaman and Flash. Flash in the film is reduced to an immature joke making fool (Thank you Mr Whedon) while Aquaman is essentially a heavy metal surfer. The latter works pretty well, the former does not.

The big problem is the terrible comedic relief courtesy of the once great director Joss Whedon. He feels the need to lighten the brilliant dark tone of BvS with some awful direction and writing (to be fair it’s what he was hired for but he could be done a better job) He also felt these to put in pointless yet film damaging scenes such as the awful phone footage of superman at the start which plays no purpose other then showing the audience superman was a good guy (as next time we see him he’s trying to kill stuff.) If only the studios would have gone with Snyder’s original much darker vision. We could have had something truly special. But instead we have half a dark DC movie and half a Joss Whedon mess. For those who believe it the other way round fair enough, but I genuinely believe whedon last great thing was Serenity (which was a massive step up from Firefly). It’s just sad. I guess if it was an entirely Joss Whedon film we would at least have a consistent film. As it stands it’s a mess. Albeit a mess I for the most part did enjoy.

The film also feels far too short to everything that’s crammed in. I would have preferred a 3 hour long film that fully fledged everything out. The pacing again comes from the 2 different directors and it’s easy to see who filmed what. Any piece that flows with a piece of music seamlessly is the work of Snyder. Any piece that’s layered heavily with Danny Elfman’s (albeit great) score is Whedon. It doesn’t really gel at any point and it really hurts the film because if it.

Acting-wise everyone does their part pretty well. You can see some are hindered by script issues but they try their best. Lots have faulted Affleck’s performance but I quite like his take on an older more tired batman. It’s definitely a step up from the 2nd two Christian Bale performances. I love Jason Momoa’s heavy metal inspired, surfer dude Aquaman. Gone are the days if the Aquaman who merely talks to fish like a Dr Dolittle of the sea.

As a film it is really fun and does move from set piece to set piece at a rapid rate. It’s a shame it’s not more like BvS as that truly nailed being a mature grown up comic book movie, whereas this is more akin to the lighter fluff marvel pumps out regularly each year. There is a rather silly bit (sillier then the rest) featuring a robot spider vehicle. That part wasn’t so good. For the most part the other set pieces are pretty great if a little staged at times. When the league are all battling together it gives hints of a much grander and better film.

One day We may see the ‘proper’ cut of the film Zack Snyder set out to make. Until then we have to make do with the flawed yet highly enjoyable mess. It may not be the film fans wanted but it’s the film we got.

When any big horror franchise declares ‘the final chapter’ in it’s last films title, you can be sure the series will be back. This is sadly evident with this, the 8th film in the Saw franchise. Who’d have thought that 13 years after the first movie we’d have a massive franchise with a deep lore spanning across 8 movies.

The basic plot follows on from the original films while also trying to work a bit like a reboot to grab new fans. With murders seemingly being committed by Jigsaw and a series of sinister traps, cops try to solve the mystery before more people are killed.

It’s a plot similar to the old films in that it features traps and mystery but that is almost where the similarities end. Here the traps are even more over the top and silly, some of which are downright unbelievable. In the older films, no matter how extreme the traps got they were all feasible and kind of believable (apart from the opening trap from part 7 which from a logistics point of view just didn’t work). The ones featured in Jigsaw are just downright stupid and also rely far more on coincidence and luck rather then choice and sacrifice. In 1-7 the traps are beatable and were all meant to teach the victim something about themselves. In Jigsaw all of them rely on someone being in the right place at the right time and looking at the right thing at the exact right moment. It takes away a major sense of fear and tension while also dropping some of the fundamental plot points from the original films.

One of the big problems is that it isn’t filmed like a Saw picture. Over the course of the franchise the Saw films developed their own look and their own feel which was largely helped by the director Darren Lynn Bousman who was responsible for parts 2, 3 and 4. Here though the Spierig brothers seem to throw all of that out of the window to make a glossy modern day horror that just loses all of the atmosphere the look gave to the series. It almost feels like they’ve never watched a Saw movie and have simply made the film on the back of knowing parts of the overall story.

The film also isnt helped by the fact its not that well written (from what I gather not because of the writers, more the fact the directors changed so much). Many people bash the Saw franchise for just being violence for the sake of violence and for being nothing more then ‘torture porn’. This does the whole series a massive disservice as each film is tightly plotted and works as a stand alone film as well as playing a major part in the 1-7 overarching story. Taken as a whole I can happily say 1-7 as a whole story is fantastic and has a near perfect beginning, middle and end. Number 8 fails in this department by trying desperately to link itself into the 1-7 story and failing pretty badly. It’s almost like they couldn’t think of a new idea so they just pasted over some of the plot points from the franchise and tried to slot themselves into the story. The Spierig brothers rely so much on a massive plot point towards the end of the film that just doesn’t work. It’s meant to tie everything together but it fails in every way. It’s poorly constructed and so ridiculously flawed it’s almost laughable.

Ultimately the film is entirely unneeded. The seventh film ended the franchise on a near perfect note and almost brought the series full circle. This just feels like a cash grab and a poor man’s wannabe Saw flick. That said, there are much worse films out there and it is still very watchable. If it wasn’t part of such a well known franchise it would be an ok horror thriller. As it stands it’s a watchable but very average imitation of a series many have grown to love.

It’s a real shame that it just doesn’t work as there are moments when it almost works. I hope they don’t make anymore because as much as I love 1-7 I don’t want to see them drive this franchise into the gutter.

Did we really need another mummy film? Let alone a kind of remake of the remake we had back in 1999. You know, the one that had 2 sequels and an endless amount of prequels. The main trilogy of which went actually that bad. The third one had some questionable design choices but on the most part they were fun adventure flicks that worked well and stood as a nice update of the original 1932 universal monsters film.

As always in the modern film industry, some high up exec thought , ‘you know what would be a good idea? Let’s remake so of those beloved universal monster films. They’d bring in money. We have very few fresh ideas and everyone loves the originals, so it’s a sure fire hit!’

So that idea has brought us the first of these remakes in ‘The Mummy’.

Now let me just get it out the way, it’s not a bad film. There’s quite a bit to like. But ultimately it’s neither as good as the original or the 1999 remake. I guess the big question is; is it worth your time? Read on and see.

The long and short of the story is that Tom Cruise plays a soldier who on the side is a treasure Hunter. Him and his friend accidently stumble upon the burial place of Ahmanet (Played by Sofia Boutella), who is the said ‘Mummy’ of the title. They accidently free her in England and thus have to try and stop her with the help of a monster hunting club.

The story doesn’t win any awards for originality but it does at least keep itself flowing at a pretty good pace and is always quite entertaining to watch. I like how they’ve cleverly incorporated the other upcoming Universal Monster films in by putting hints throughout the film.

Another thing I really like is that the film never takes itself to seriously. A great example of this is Tom Cruises friend who plays a role that is very reminiscent of the character ‘Jack’ from ‘An American Werewolf in London’. It’s very tongue in cheek and slightly self mocking at times. It’s a clever move and helps give the film a nice fun vibe. It was also a clever twist making Ahmanet a female as the mummy in previous versions has usually been a male. This choice works really well but does mean the usual semi-romance with the hero is bound to happen.

The film does have some negatives though which stop it being anything special. It’s a little overlong and does drag slightly by the obvious end showdown. The fact it’s all set pretty much in England at night time stops it feeling like an actual adventure film of old. It just lacks the spark.

As I said earlier it’s not a bad film and it’s a pretty entertaining flick. It’s worth watching but not necessarily worth watching again. It’ll be interesting what they do with the rest of the monster movies the to come.

Der Todesking is the 2nd film by Jorg Buttgereit following his cult hit Nekromantik. Both have the similar violent episodes and graphic ideas, but der Todesking is a much more serious film and doesn’t rely on special effects to get its deep and quite powerful message across.

The film is a series of 7 shorts covering each day of the week and focusing on a different individual. Each short is linked by the theme of suicide or death with the linking tool being a chain letter explaining why death is the only option.

Devoid of pretty much all humour, der Todesking presents a stunning nihilistic view on life and humanity. There’s No one trying to stop these suicides, no one mourning the loss. It’s a stark, realistic portrayal on the subject and one that is unlike pretty much anything else.

Some of the segments are stronger then others but none are bad. Wednesday is especially poignant and powerful as it used no dialogue, no characters and no violence instead it features a suicide bridge and the names of some who have jumped from it. I got the same feeling from it that I got from the documentary ‘the Bridge’ which focused on suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. To evoke such emotion using little other then names and film of a concert bridge is quite remarkable and it’s a great feat of filmmaking. It would have been easy to just film people jumping off the bridge but instead Buttgereit reigns it back and uses simplicity and minimalism and in doing so creates something remarkable.

Saturday is the other day that stands out as with recent shootings around the world it rings very true. It consists of a woman filming herself shooting people during a concert. No reason for it and no justification, just a shooting. It’s scary because it feels pretty real.

The no justification is a theme that runs through the film and is one of the things that makes it stand out. We as order a want to know why something is happening and not knowing scares us. By presenting the segments in this way Buttgereit has created a far more powerful and far more real film.

Gore is at a minimum here as well which is a surprise considering the visual effects of Nekromantik. The goriest moments are a decomposing body that works s a bridge between days. This decision is another smart one as itdoesnt distract from the deep message the film is conveying.

The soundtrack is fascinating as well as it’s nothing like you’d expect (unless you have seen Nekromantik). It doesn’t always 100% gel but it’s always great. When it does work it just merges with the visuals creating a sensationally strong experience.

All in all der Todesking is a remarkable film that defies genre and really is unlike anything else. I wouldn’t call it a happy film you can pop on, grab the popcorn and enjoy. I’d say it is a film that strikes fast and hard and drives home a powerful and important message about suicide and death. It doesn’t glorify it like most horror films, it doesn’t portray it as good or bad, just a thing that happens.

As an experience I cannot recommend it enough. Yes it is slightly dated in places but it doesn’t really affect the impact. It’s definitely not for everyone. I imagine the audience for it is quite small but I urge any intrigued to watch it. It’s fascinating, powerful and thought provoking filmmaking at it’s best.

Board games are quickly becoming the new videogames, that were once the new Board Games? Does that work? I think it does. Either way, with the popularity of board games on the rise again, it’s common for gaggles of people to congregate together again, in a small room / medium sized room, around a table and play some good old fashioned board based activities. Many find an escape playing these kinds of games. How do you wreck this escape?

1989’s Jason Donovan: Straight From The Heart board game. That’s how.

A game for 2-6 players. Straight From The Heart tasks you with working your way round a board answering questions about Jason Donovan, while collecting jigsaw pieces of his face. The aim is to complete one of the heart shaped puzzle and claim victory over everyone else.

That’s easy I hear you say. Not so, says I.

Each time someone correctly answers a question about Mr Donovan they have a choice to steal pieces from another player. That s right. You can screw over other players big time. It also doesn’t help that when you aquire pieces from the box you do so at random. This means you could technically be working in all the pictures. The group I played with preferred the stealing off another player method because it’s more annoying.

Each section on the board has a ifferent type of question but I can quite happily say that any answer that requires a song title will either be ‘ten good reasons’ or ‘too many broken hearts’. They were Jason’s biggest hits when the game came out so it stands to reason they would be the answers.

Each time we’ve played the game its been with 4 adult males, who I believe, are not the target audience. I say this because many of the questions regard the other players boyfriends. If you are playing with a group of males you may need to skip a couple of questions.

The other popular question choices involve Jason himself, his likes, dislikes and loves. Trivia such as ‘What’s Jason’s favourite food?’ And ‘what’s Jason’s favourite kind of food?’ The answer to the latter doesn’t 100% match that of the former but that’s ok. All this trivia will stay with you like a happy dream/scary nightmare. At least I can now say I know his favourite food. Although I imagine it may have changed in almost 30 years. It would be useful to find out.

A personal favourite question is ‘does Jason believe in nuclear disarmament?’ The answer is a non surprising yes but it’s the randomness of the question that is pure brilliance.

It just kind of springs from nowhere, considering the lightish tone of other questions. It’s a good thing to know I guess but it really isn’t the bit of trivia I would have read up on before playing.

The playtime is a little on the longer side considering one time we played it took around 2.5 hours to eget to completion. Another time it took around 5 hours. 5 hours is a lot of Jason and a lot of time answering very similar questions. As you can see from the picture below, enjoyment was being had by all.

With more diversity in the questions and a more complex winning strategy it could be a classic game. (Well maybe not). It was quite enjoyable in a tongue in cheek way. I’ll also say that I somehow own 2 copies of the game making we could technically play a 12 player game. But alas finding 11 other people to play is not easy. I also imagine it may increase the playtime by quite some length.

Now would be the perfect time for a sequel covering the years between 1989 and 2018. I think someone needs to tell Jason there is a market for more board games about his life. It could even cover questions like ‘which character did Jason play in Jeff Wayne’s new war of the world’s?’ Or ‘what are Jason’s views on the current political climate?’

I have to say that in my group, that the game is a running joke. I had lots of fun plating it, but some if not all of it was from the sheer hilarity of playing it with adult males.

Until I can convince more people to play I guess it’s going to sit gathering dust.

Written by James Gunn (director of Guardians of the Galaxy 1& 2 and writer of films such as Tromeo and Juliet) Belko Experiment feels like a refreshing hark back to something like Lord of the flies.

A group of employees are locked in a building and are told to kill each if he, otherwise a bomb charge in the back of their skull with detonate. It’s a very simple pemise and one similar to any number of films such as Battle Royale or even Hunger Games. But the office environment gives it a new spin.

At the start no one wants to kill but as the film progresses we all know some are going to change their minds. Gunn gets creative in his writing and keeps throwing in new rules to keep the film fresh and entertaining. Everything leads to a truly great ending which keeps he momentum going until the very last image.

I loved how the film didn’t wait around. There’s always something new happening as we jump between the small groups of people. It would have been easy for the film to get boring and repetitive but it never does.

The cast are great and really work well together. It’s amazing how many pretty big names there are in the film, even if some feel like small cameos for James Gunn (Michael Rooker for example is in almost all of Gunn’s films). Many of these actors play roles very different from their usual styles.

Although directed by Greg McLean it really does feel like and early James Gunn film. It’s fast, witty and violent, all things that Gunn does really well. It’s a breath of of tense almost horror. It’s well worth checking out.

Romantic comedies are everywhere these days and many aren’t worth the time of day. Mike and Dave intrigued me by the cast and the fact I sometimes enjoy films like this.

Let’s get the obvious out the way. The film isn’t going to win any awards. It’s not particularly Original, the jokes have been done thousands of times before and the script is both obvious and by the numbers. All of this though is not a reason to rule the film out.

The titular characters are party goers and cause mayhem wherever they go. Their family has all but ruled them out. They are due to attend their sister’s wedding in Hawaii and they are told they need to bring ‘classy’ dates with them. One thing leads to another and they end up getting 2 girls to come with them (unsuspecting that the girls are just as chaotic as them). Of course this all leads to mayhem and silliness.

Zac Efron and Adam Devine are fantastic and play off each other incredibly well. They are likeable and fun to watch. Without them i dont think the film would’ve worked as well. Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick are equally as good as their dates. They too feel like they’ve been friends for a long time and bounce off each other like skittles off a chalk board.

The jokes are sometimes/often crude but it’s that kind of film and it’s what I was expecting. They don’t always hit the high notes, but more hit then miss. Part of this is down to how well they are delivered by the cast. The supporting cast are strong but never overshadow the main group of 4.

Direction-wise it works. The pacing is great and the film flows at a good rate. It never outstays it’s welcome and just when a joke might begin to become stale we move on.

Sure it’s obvious and has been done in a similar way before, but you know What? I had a really fun time with the film. There really isn’t much more to say as it’s one of those films where you get what you expect. It’s worth checking out.