The Spooktacular Eight #10: Robo Vampire (1988)

Oh boy. THIS one.

Quite the legendary trash film from Godfrey Ho (credited as Thomas Tang, once again), one that definitely lives up to its status as one of the most bonkers heaps of garbage to ever come out of the 80s never ending cauldron of action-xploitation movies.

It’s definitely quite infamous and rightfully so, because even if you’re acquainted with Godfrey Ho, Joseph Lai, their companies like Filmark International and IFD Arts, this is still absolute hokum of majestic proportions, downright unbelievable and baffling.

I can’t even imagine how much cocaine did Ho and his unnamed writers snort up for this one in particular, because it makes their cut n paste ninja flicks look downright sensible and composed.

The main reason it’s because Ho (or Lai, or whoever supervised the scripts, hard to say when Ho is credited for many films he didn’t even direct) didn’t bother to say no to anything proposed, i refuse to believe anything got cut from the script since it’s all a non-sensical demented mish mash.

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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.

Continua a leggere “Ninja The Protector (1986) [REVIEW] | Obscurity Via Boredom”

Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood

Meant to get around this one last year, but this time i did manage to find a way to watch it with subtitle, as i don’t speak hindi, and what could be called “the Indian King Kong” – to no one’s surprise – was never dubbed or re-released westward. Still easier to find than the dreaded Bacalhau.

Yep, among the many King Kong knock-off, there’s an old Bollywood (kinda) version from 1963.

Gotta love the shit-not giving use of stock footage “ice skating ballet girls, chimps & clown” that a crowd in India it’s supposedly watching, sure it has a dissonant color that makes it more even obvious, but who cares. And it’s not just 1 minute or two of stock footage from a non-indian ice skating show, when the head of the circus and the sponsor set down to see it in order to understand why it’s supposedly taking away business from them… you’re gonna see a good chunk of the show.

Well, at least we start the movie with some ape action, but not of that kind.

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[EXPRESSO] House Of Gucci (2021) | This Is The Dynasty

House Of Gucci is not “accurate”, let’s make it abundantly clear.

It’s definitely an instance where it’s important to emphatize the “inspired by real events” disclaimer, because this isn’t “All The Money In The World” Ridley Scott, this is him going full soap/telenovelas on the real life Gucci family feud that started in the 70s and culminated in 1995, with Patrizia Reggiani ordering the assassination of Maurizio Gucci, her husband and also the entrepreneur & president of the Gucci fashion firm.

The story here is presented with the focus on Patrizia introducing herself to Maurizio as a way to get into the Gucci family business, then manipulating and orchestrating the Guccis to turn against each other in order to force the hand of Maurizio in taking rein of the company, despite him starting out as totally indifferent to his heritage and without any true ambition to get involved in it.

She basically turn what start out as fairly decent people into monsters for her own ambition and ruthless desire for dominance, and at one point a tarot card reader is involved, etc.

This is a 2 hour soap opera with a huge movie budget, make no mistake about it, that it’s the main tone of House Of Gucci, as a bombast story about the rise and fall of a dynasty (pun not intended but fitting nonetheless), with very little interest in realism, given the odd – and i feel deliberate – direction some of the cast was given, as some actors feel like they’re acting in a completely different movie, like an unrecognizable Jared Leto in overacting overdrive as “Gucci’s Fethry Duck”.

Despite the sometimes inconsistent tone and it being really trashy, there’s a magnetic kitsch charm to it all, great performances, and it’s massively entertaining all the way through.

Ninja Operation 4: Thunderbolt Angels AKA Ninja Power Force (1988) [REVIEW] | Gangsta Code Of Ninja Honour

Ok, one more, and yes, this is a brand new review, we’re just “going backwards” in the non-existent Ninja Operation series, as we previously talked about Godfather The Master, a ninja flick that was released as “Ninja Operation 5: Godfather The Master”, and now we tackle “part 4”, aka another Ho ninja potpourri that was originally titled Ninja Power Force (or Powerforce, whatever floats your boat), and eventually got the alternate title of “Thunderbolt Angels”.

Despite not featuring any of those, as we all could guess by now, pretty easy to do.

One thing that i did not fully expect it’s the absolute scarcity of informations on what film had Ho “hijacked” for his ninjas means this time, IMDB has no info on the matter, thankfully the Hong Kong Movie Database came to the rescue and i was able to determine it’s a 1986 taiwanese action drama called “The Return/Return Home”, not to be confused with another taiwanese movie from 2016, also called “The Return”.

Don’t say you never learn anything from these reviews.

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[EXPRESSO] Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (2020) | and the Andersen

Eventually anime is coming back to cinemas here as well, starting with 2020’s anime adaptation of the short story Josee, the Tiger and the Fish by Seiko Tanabe, already adapted in live action form both by japanese and corean production, here with animation curated by studio BONES.

It’s a romantic drama about Tsuneo, a university student working a part time job that one day stumbles upon an old lady carrying a big wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy, calling herself Josee, after the heroine of a Francois Sagan’s novel. He starts frequenting “Josee” as her attendee for hire, and as time goes by he learns more about her, etc. I don’t think i have to explain how romance 101 work, so i won’t.

So, it’s a fairly common setup for an anime romance film with actual ambitions to drama, with the girl suffering from a disability or disease of sorts, i can’t really claim this movie does anything new never seen before in any way, it’s definitely what you think it’s gonna be, so don’t expect to be “surprised”, even though people don’t see romance movies for Shaymalan style twists.

But it’s honestly fairly good, definitely good enough to have it nominated at Annecy last year, fairly well executed, good animation, decent to good characters and – yes – good romance, actually surprisingly quite funny as well. What stops it from being great is that it basically does the usual framing of “disability” as some sort of “personal extra hurdle” situation to the romance, touching upon the themes that come with it but not exactly in a nuanced way, most likely because they mean well but don’t know or want to know much, resulting in a less impactful execution.

Still, it’s worth seeing, just don’t expect A Silent Voice.

[EXPRESSO] Free Guy (2021) | Life Service

So while we wait for the multiple movie projects spawned from that time online users deliberately made Gamestop’s share value drop (IF they happen at all), another thing that felt already dated the moment it was announced it’s finally out, Free Guy.

While it’s surprisingly not that out of touch as i expected (the fake in-game graphics looking like those crappy mobile ads for free-to-play games is a nice touch), i won’t deny it does sound like something that shouldn’t work as anything more than a sketch on Mega64.

So, what’s the plot? Ryan Reynolds lives his routine of bank teller nicely, until he decides to break it (inspired by a new woman player that he falls in love at first sight), gets They Live-style glasses, and learns that he’s just a random, generic NPC in a open world game called “Free City”. Or he was, at least. Guy then decides to become a hero for the city and its fellow virtual inhabitants, and becomes essential to the other protagonists, a couple of indie game developers trying to prove that a big videogame company CEO ripped off their work for his Free City game.

For a movie that takes many elements from other movies, ending like a weird amalgamation of Wreck It Ralph, The Truman Show, and The Lego Movie, it’s nice that is not as cynical conceived and executed as it may sounds, there’s actually some heart to it.. when the movie manages to focus and stop itself from doing weird “references-corporate pop culture flexes”, pandering to stereotypes, or trying to reach for super-safe narrative and emotional appeal.

It’s a decent movie, bit of a mixed bag, one that includes a slightly miscast Ryan Reynolds doing a Jim Carrey style character and a really overacting Taika Waititi.

Not bad.

Shark Season (2020) [REVIEW] | Tis Is

We do gotta pick every stitch, it is always season of scripts running down the ditch,

sharks are out to make it rich, must be the season of sons of a bitch

I’m sorry Donovan, but these fuckin movies often leave me little choice but just invent shit like this, especially when scriptwriters don’t even bother to make the premise stand out for movies like these, so at a glance they mesh all together and often can be really sketchly summed, as they barely have anything to say or show. Especially when they keep getting released under alternate titles that are either mystifing, deceptive, or already used by older, better known shark movies. Because fuck you.

There’s no other explanation than “fuck you” when you release this recent shark movie as “Shark Attack” for its UK DVD release. And as “Deep Blue Nightmare” for US TV broadcasts. (sighs)

Continua a leggere “Shark Season (2020) [REVIEW] | Tis Is”

[EXPRESSO] Voyagers (2021) | In observation, I analyze

It’s the future, and a group of young men and women, raised to be intelligent and obedient, are sent into space on a mission to colonize a distant planet. But they discover some of the expedition’ secrets, and then rebel to the mission in order to explore their less intelligent, more primitive and irrational side of themselves, resulting in a chaotic struggle with their own fears and lusts.

I want to clarify right away that Voyagers (written and directed by Neil Burger) isn’t a bad movie, it isn’t, but it’s also one of those movies that might come across as incredibly frustrating, the kind of frustrating born not of lazyness or lack of energy and vision, but of ambition too vast for the script own’s good, and – more to the point – its quality.

The premise is intriguing and ripe with potential, the themes are there, there’s clearly a vision, but the execution is incredibly predictable, underwhelming, and some of the more original details of the plot that make it stand out end up unadvertly working against it’s own overall message, coming off as dumb mistakes on part of the program, or contrived excuses to create more conflict.

Like, why the teens are asked to maintain the ship for a mission they themselves simply won’t live enough to carry out ? Why not cryogenically put them to sleep, instead? And yes, they’re teens, so they can be fuck up or be swayed regardless of their IQ or education, sometimes they come off as both incredibly intelligent AND dumb as a bag of bricks (or incredibly naive), somehow, and it never feels natural, just arbitrary bullshit.

There is definitely something to like here, like the good cast and performances, but the overall result it’s an overly ambitious mixed bag. Pity.