Ninja The Protector (1986) [REVIEW] | Obscurity Via Boredom

Suddendly, another ninja rewrite appears in his colored jumpsuit, because i like the challenge of rewriting these, and it does become harder as these movies over time do indeed start bleeding into each other, even more as there are literal dozens upon dozens of these made by – or at least credited to – Godfrey Ho or Joseph Lai, which were very prolific during the 80s.

But this time it’s gonna be followed by a brand new ninja movie review.

Might even NOT be a Ho ninja-pasted affair.

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I didn’t plan to do another “first impressions” piece on a recent anime release, especially since the original manga by Tatsuya Endo (whom you might be already familiar with, as he previously worked on fan-favourite TISTA) sky-rocketed in popularity after debutting on Shonen Jump in 2019, and especially last year as it received wider releases globally.

A relatively new series on Jump with an original premise that doesn’t fall in the “battle manga” genre, but instead goes for a spy theme was bound to turn heads and be popular, and eventually get an anime series. So here we are, and while this series doesn’t need my “push” to become popular or anything (as it’s also streaming in most countries on Crunchyroll, which is obviously marketing the hell out of it) it’s one of the few shows i’ve decided to actually follow as they air this season (alongside Ya Boy Kongming!, of course), so might as well say something about it.

Once again, i’m considering the first 3 episodes as a basis to draw these first impressions from.

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[EXPRESSO] The King’s Man (2021) | Tonal Clash Service

I quite liked the first Kingsman movie, even enjoyed the second one (even if it was uber cheesy, with the robodogs and Elton John and all), but i feel that maybe it would have been best if this didn’t became a series, as we are already going for the “origins of” storyline, but whatever.

The film – as you would expect – it’s about the foundation of the Kingsman’s intelligence agency, borne in Britain during the events of WW I by elite warriors that woved to silently defend humanity from its from villains and tyrants, which puts them against Grigori Rasputin and other conspirators led by a mysterious figure, intent in making Germany overwhelm Britain in the conflict.

This is not a bad movie, mind you, nor bad movies. I do feel like they had scripts for two different movies set in the Kingsman universe, and – maybe – afraid that with the current situation of theathers they couldn’t get another chance (also due to hypotethical series fatigue) at it, so here you go, you get the story of Orlando Oxford’s son wanting to enlist in the war to prove his worth, with a fairly serious war movie tone, and the over the top comic book style spy action fights that you’d expect from a Kingsman movie.

Both are quite decent and entertaining in themselves, which is laudable, but the tone (and the themes, honestly) doesn’t really match between the events on the WW I trenches and a delightfully excessive Grigori Rasputin using his mystical powers (which are somehow real) to cure a wound by licking it frantically, to say nothing of the charicatural characterization of the kaiser, czar and most of the villains.

Despite this, it’s definitely not a slog, cast it’s pretty good and overall it’s decent fun.

[EXPRESSO] Red Notice (2021) | Buddy Thief Routine

So, the “Dwayne Johnson” genre of Hollywood films got a new entry, and in order to engineer it being even more palatable, cast also Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot in it.

What does the bald muscle god among men do here? He works as a FBI agent that reluctantly has to team up with an art thief (Ryan Reynolds) in order to catch an even worse and infamous criminal, a jewel thief (Gal Gadot), after a legendary egyptian treasure. The usual caper shenanigans ensue, done in the modern half self-aware style with a flavor of the National Treasure variety.

Yes, if this sounds as generic and carefully stuffed with big budget and popular actors to ensure people would go see it… it’s that, but it only had a limited theatherical release in theathers as Netflix distributing rights from Universal, so they can spin data they don’t share to make marketing posts on Twitter on how much it was viewed… without actually telling us HOW much it was viewed.

Make no mistake, this is conceptually as safe and milquetoast as you can get from Hollywood in terms of action comedy, it’s processed meat, so ridden with cliches and ferociosly mediocre it’s kinda hard to even get engaged in the “plot” or even squeezemuch entertaiment out of it, as you know exactly how all is gonna go down, made worse by a bloated runtime and franchise pretensions.

I mean, it’s about what i expected from the director of Skyscraper (also with Dwayne Johnson), Rawson Marshall Thunder, and by and large most movies “The Rock” is in, though he has been in far worse and far better ones, this is just your average summer popcorn flick, heck, arguably even more “fire and forget” than usual.

It sure is some content, just kinda there.

[EXPRESSO] 007: No Time To Die (2021) | Next, on The Venture Bros…

I was almost not gonna review this new 007 film, i usually enjoy them, but they’re not exactly my favourite type of movie, and i haven’t see one in theathers (or at all) since Casino Royale, but i’d figured we could use a break from the horror stuff, and i trust Cary Fukunaga.

Before tackling the plot, let me say i like Daniel Craig as Bond, but i won’t lie, i did like the idea-rumor of casting Idris Elba as the secret agent himself that was floating around when the movie was announced, but i guess we’ll have to wait for the next one.

Sure as hell they want it to feel like a big comeback, since it has been 6 years since the last one, Spectre, which wasn’t that well received, and this also being the last time Craig will play the character…. i guess explains how (and partially “why”) it’s almost 3 hours.

Plot is about James Bond being recruited by the CIA (after he resigned from the MI6) to rescue a kidnapped scientist, but things lead to thing and eventually to a showdown between Bond and a powerful villain (played by Rami Malek) with a nefarious plan…

Maybe it’s because i literally haven’t seen a Bond film in more than a decade, but honestly this actually hits all the right and expected notes from a 007 flick, it embraces the style of the series and plays it just right, without trying to ape other spy flicks, cynically chasing modern trends or – on the flipside – stubbornly trenching itself in the old shit just to spite modernity.

It’s a consolidated, familiar formula, here well executed, with likeable characters, spectacular action setpieces, a stellar cast. Arguably a bit longer than one would expected (or want), but far from slow moving, good overall, i’d say.

Syndicate PS3 [REVIEW] | Cyberbooting EA Nonsense

While CD Projeckt Red (look out to not be sued by Robert Fripp) it’s still trying to patch up the comatose corpse release of Cyberpunk 2077, let’s go back in time when cyberpunk was…. actually not that far since i actually played this last year while quarantined and cleanin some of my backlog, and the game actually came out in 2012, almost ten years ago.

It just feels odd to discuss a game like this now, with the scenario of a society that basically taps directly into the “Wired” (not actually called that, but you get it), so you can connect to the internets with a chip installed in your brain, with more than half of the world populace having it, and using it to – among other things like downloading porn and Doom 2 WADS, i guess – align with one of the megacorporations that have become more important than nations themselves. The megacorps of course compete for dominance by also upping their terror and spy tactics by using prized killers, like the protagonist, Kilo (yes, with a “i”), as corporate espionage is basically a full on war.

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Ninja Champion (1986) [REVIEW] | Grindhouse Ninjas

As we already saw with previous reviews of Godfrey Ho ninja flicks, anything goes with ninjas, he could splice them and stitch them to any kind of foreign, unfinished and often obscure asian movie he could get his hands on.

Even so, it still comes as a surprise that he would also splice his brand of multicolored, bandana wearing, self-adverting ninja in a rape revenge movie. WHY?

I love how the italian dvd release has a sword with diamons on the cover, it’s extra hilarious considering how it implies that diamonds are important to the plot…. they fuckin aren’t, the sword is way, WAY more relevant.

It’s just that the rapists happen to be diamond smugglers, it doesn’t really matter what they smuggle, AT ALL, they could sell bootleg boglins and nothing would really change, and even the movie barely remembers at the last minute that yes, this should somehow tie together the new storyline and “ninja footage” with the existing footage, this time taken from the 1985 corean rape-revenge movie known as “Poisonous Rose Stripping the Night”, directed by Kim Si-hyun.

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The Day Of The Dolphin (1973) [REVIEW] | Assassination Dolphin

This isn’t really shark movie, but i knew i had to review a movie with the tagline “Unwittingly, he trained a dolphin to kill the president of the United States”.

It’s a rare combination of honesty, sensationalization and marketing, because it really catches your attention with the gist of a movie that’s absurd as genuine and oddly not brazen exploitation.

Also, i did mention the movie more than once during this month, so here’s the payoff.

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[EXPRESSO] Black Widow (2021) | Velvet Assassins, Inc.

Marvel movies are back into theathers, a fact of life made accidentally more intriguing after the pandemic stopped the torrent of Marvel theatherical releases, and saturation gives way to acceptance and wishing to return to the “pre-Covid 19” habits.

At the very least this particular movie had already plenty of delays and issues behind the scenes before, but the Black Widow “origins” movie is here.

Not exactly my favourite of the Avengers, i will say this upfront, but still, easily more intriguing that anything they could come up with Hawkeye (at least judging what the Marvel movies did with him), i’d say. Like the previous movie hinted at, she had a troubled upbringing, was a KGB, and here we see her momentarily leave the Avengers team (in a timespan between Civil War and Infinity War) to meet up with her old “family”, leading her to take on the villain Taskmaster and confront a figure from her past youth as a selected trainee for the “Black Widow” program.

As Natasha Romanoff is simply human, her origin story uses this to give the movie a more “realistical” feel (though don’t worry, there’s the usual Marvel bombast), and aside from some of the inevitable mentions of the other Avengers, the movie does want to stand on its own and distinguish itself by tackling darker (and a bit more “grounded”) themes than usual, as this action thriller about child soldiers raised -at all cost – to be the most efficient assassins and spies, the new characters are good, there are some fun moments (alongside the usual, obligatory Marvel self-jab).

The cast is pretty dang good too (it has Florence Pugh), and while not sensational, it’s quite entertaining and willing to not really rely on other Marvel movies to tell its own story. Fun one.

Barracuda (1978) [REVIEW] | Burn it to the wick

Most movies about killers animals from the 70s can be “blamed” on Jaws success, this one is a “double whammy” because it can be also linked to one of Jaws’ most notorious rip-off, Piranha from 1978, which – as mentioned before – it’s almost a parody as well, and was directed by Joe Dante. As Piranha did quite well that year, America General Pictures approached him to direct Barracuda (also sold under the title of The Lucifer Project) as well, but clearly it didn’t happen, so directing duties went to Harry Kerwin and Wayne Crayford, both already pulling double duty as actor and co-writer. Gotta pump em out fast, so fast this came out 2/3 months after Piranha.

And while there are plenty of Jaws rip-offs made in that decade, the comparison between the two films in question is fairly obvious, not just because they came out the same year, but because they both have the same theme of secret government experiments that end up mutating marine fauna, in this case more declined into an enviromentalism issue, but also a fairly direct critique of the military, as in they didn’t breed combat-ready mutant cyborg barracuda, but the government basically used a small town as guinea pigs for conditioning experiment to make everyone more aggressive and violent, and more easier to whip up in a frenzy or recruit for war.

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