[One Piece Film Retrospective] #3: Chopper Kingdom on the Land Of Strange Animals (2002)

When i set out to rewatch all One Piece movies for the newly written retrospective, there were some i wasn’t exactly…. looking forward to revisit. The third theathrical film, Chopper Kingdom on the Land Of Strange Animals, kinda falls in the “yeah whatever” category, as i don’t hate it or anything, but in hindsight it’s plenty less interesting to discuss or see than it was the first time around.

Like the two previous movies, it was a mid lenght film shown in a double bill with another mid lenght Digimon film, this time Digimon Tamers: Runaway Locomon, and came with a featurette as well, the “european football” themed “Dream Soccer King” (already reviewed last year).

The more i think about this movie, the more i feel the main motif for making it was the Toei staff wanting to draw and animate lots of weird animal hybrids, and that they came up with the actual story later, as the premise feels like a mash up of ideas from other animated movies with talking animals or something, a bit Lion King a bit Jungle Book mostly, with this island kingdom inhabited by animals that has been waiting for a new king to fall from the heavens, according to a prophecy.

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[One Piece Film Retrospective] #2: Clockwork Island Adventure (2001)

Remember when Luffy had to fight the Trumps before facing off against Gruntilda?

It was a weird crossover, almost as weird as having a Shintaro Katsu look-alike character, but it is One Piece, it’s hard to say what doesn’t exist or did happen.

Oh wait, this film is from 2001, so scratch that. Aside from the “Trump” part.

Like “One Piece The Movie: Adventure In Search Of A Proper Title Card”, it was released during 2001’s Toei Spring Fair as a double bill with another Toei produced Digimon anime, Digimon Adventure 02: Diaboromon Strikes Back, a trend that will continue in future releases.

It was also shown alongside a featurette, Jango’s Dance Carnival, which we already discussed a couple years before, and this too would turn out to be a trend for future One Piece movies.

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[One Piece Film Retrospective] #1: One Piece The Movie

Using the cover of the Japanese Blu-Ray release because the movie itself doesn’t even have a title card or a proper title. Just the default “One Piece” title card the TV series used at the times.

After the One Piece TV series started airing and proved to be successful, a movie was bound to be made sooner or later.

And this is… sure it’s called a movie, and i’m willing to call it as such, but it was clearly early in the series’ history, as Toei’s anime adaptation only started airing in 1999 (an year after Production IG’s One Piece OVA: Defeat The Pirate Ganzack), so i guess they figured out it was better to not go all the way immediatly, and made this medium-lenght, so it could be released alongside the even shorter Digimon film “Digimon Adventure: Our War Game” during the 2000’s Toei Anime fair.

Those are a lot of words to say that Toei kinda cheaped out and compromised, and honestly i can’t really say that’s unfair, as this movie feels less like a movie and more like two episodes of the TV series superglued together.

And not interesting episodes either, but first, the plot.

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Giant Crocodile (2020) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

One more recent chinese monster movie, why not? As i’ve said before, there’s plenty of these to be found online, and there’s a good number of killer crocodiles one too, i choose this because it’s the first i stumbled through on Youtube, and it’s web movie, dunno what it means exactly, aside from being another declination of “direct to video” in this age of streaming content.

Regardless, we all speak giant crocodile movie, especially if it’s a giant mutant crocodile.

After a rich guy’s daughter disappears while on a island that’s become an internet sensation for its “Purple Lake”, he assembles a group of mercs (lead by his other daughter) to search for her, only to find that there’s a lot of people around what’s supposedly an inhabited island, all conventiently there for their own reasons, from an enviromental scientist losing contact with her squad, a war reporter searching for his missing father, etc.

Sadly for the rich guy, he finds out that her daughter was eaten by a crocodile, so he wovs revenge against the beast, which turns out it’s a mutant crocodile that can turns invisible on the fly, and can also sling his tongue like a chameleon. At least this will give the leader of the mercs/second daughter of the rich man something to do aside pulling people by the hair in order to do anything.

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Horror Shark 3D AKA Blood Shark 3D (2020) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

Shark attack movies are an appealing worldwide phenomen, so it’s not surprising even mainland China would eventually invest more and more in these, as they can serve a fairly new domestic cinema industry and are easy to export since the genre is pretty popular everywhere. Shark never get old for audiences, after all.

Obviously this isn’t the first chinese shark movie ever, or even the first one we featured here, but it’s China very first 3D big budget shark attack film. It has received a fairly easy to find DVD release on online marketplaces, but i watched it on Youtube, as it was uploaded in full on YOUKU’s Youtube Channel, with english subs available.

The plot of Horror Shark 3D (also known as Blood Shark 3D) concerns “a swimmer and a marine paradise trainer (trainer for what?) who accidentally fall into a huge conspiracy about blood sharks.”

At least this is the plot synopsis you’ll find around the web, but i’d say it’s badly translated and partially incorrect.

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Lake Placid Legacy (2018) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

While Lake Placid VS Anaconda ended by sequelbaiting “Crococonda VS Sheriffs”, they didn’t actually followed that up, at least not yet, as for the next (and at the time of writing, the last) Lake Placid installment we have a prequel.

A prequel, kinda. Sorta. We’ll get to that, but it’s not a prequel for the character of Jimmy Bickerman played by Robert Englund, nor any of the Bickermans, it’s a prequel for the original saltwater crocodile, explaining how the fuck a crocodile came to inhabit the lake in the first place.

Actually, not quite, but yep, every excuse is good to pump anything out with the franchise name. It always is.

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Lake Placid VS Anaconda (2015) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

Has your series completely run of ideas or it’s just not willing to get out of the genre comfort zones, but you still want to continue the franchise? Cross it over with a similar series, versus style.

Oddly enough, this is both the obvious (as it’s in the title) crossover between the Anaconda and Lake Placid franchises, but also the fifth movie in each respective series.

Elaborating on what i said at the end of the review for Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, the two series are quite the good fit for a cheap TV movie crossover, not only for the obvious reptilian killer animals involved, but as they both had a successful film first that was deemed good enough to be shown in theathers, and hence being more easily remembered by audiences.

Btw, the official DVD tagline for the film it’s quite fun and to the point “Crocks on the docks, snakes on the lakes”. Love these.

Shame they set the bar too high, but of course they do.

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Noah’s Shark (2021) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

Since i couldn’t find the 2017’s Land Shark (not the chinese one we reviewed last year), let’s pick something a bit more recent from the output of Mark Polonia that also almost makes want to revisit and review Shark Exorcist… again. I still don’t want to.

So let us bask in the nourishing homemade waters of Noah’s Shark.

It was either that or “Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse”, also by Mark Polonia and released in 2021.

Banger of a title, perfect bait for both the naive and the connosseur of “no budget homegrown cinema” that dares challenge audiences with crappy stopmotion dinosaurs and papermaciè sharks.

But still, even in this tier of poverty filmaking we’ve seen worse.

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Apex Predators AKA Jaws of New York (2021) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

Younger readers might think they saw everything, heard about everything, but don’t underestimate how deep the abyss is, since i can still search for and find more shark movies i’ve never even heard the title before, doesn’t matter if its decades or days old, the black depths keep spewing them out.

Cards on the table, what did i expect from the director of Ebola Rex, RoboWoman, Axegrinder 2, 5G Zombies, Angry Asian Murder Hornets (just to name a few)?

I’d say nothing, but that is not true, because a mental void would be quite calming, this isn’t the case here.

Plot? Sharks attack the beaches of Los Angeles, leaving corpses around just in time to ruin the opening of a new resort. Done.

The rest – as in 90% of the movie – is boring ass random padding or clumsy exposition dialogue that often has nothing to do with anything else, and even when an actual plot or narrative start manifesting, it just isn’t worth caring or describing in any detail aside from the shark being a spontaneous mutant, or at least we’re told so, and that’ll have to do since we never see any of this.

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[EXPRESSO] X (2022) | Fornicators!

Kinda “surprise release” of this one in theathers here, didn’t really expect it!

I wasn’t familiar with Ti West’s work before i saw this, FIY, but i’m glad i did.

Set in 1970’s rural america, X tells of a crew that rents a farm house in Houstin, Texas, from an elderly couple, to whom they obviously didn’t told their real purpose: shooting a porno film in order to make it big thanks to the promises of “home video entertaiment” as an upcoming industry.

The problem is the couple happens decrepit and crazy, as they both are driven homicidal by the lethal combination of old age, puritanical christian values (fueled by fearmongering televangelists) that clash with the newfound sexual revolution in the younger generations, and envy.

It’s a tribute to the early 70s gruesome slashers and similar films depicting – at the time – unseen levels of violence, set in the remote depths of Texas, but it’s not just style and homages, as it balances out comedy, fairly violent gore with creepy, unsettling sequences, great acting and good characters, even the villains have a relatable side.

Also, incredibly it juggles the line very well in terms of the exploitation factor, as it’s fairly graphic, the kills are satisfying, there’s plenty of nudity, so it definitely doesn’t pull punches, but also doesn’t feel it’s being too excessive or tacky, showing some class and being able to touch upon some meaningful topics, of having some moments of earnest tenderness amongst the carnage.

And even a bit of Lake Placid action, between the porno shoots and the creepy elders deciding its time yet again to vent the frustration of old age on the youngins.

It’s also very damn satisfying in terms of kills, to boot, so i’d say X it’s pretty good stuff.

Recommended!