Tag Archives: martial arts

Top 5 Movies Shawn Was Right About


I tease my cousin Shawn about his taste in movies a little more than I probably should.

Shawn loves classic, critically-acclaimed cinema as much as I do, but he also loves shoot-em-ups, science-fiction, and action movies I would never even consider watching. He loves the, and I quote, “‘splosions,” and “pew pew.” He said he enjoyed “The A-Team” more than “Black Swan,” and said “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was good.

He can be sentimental, too, for movies like “Shrek Forever After.” He loves TV, which I don’t. But he does a superb job on our sister blog, TV-Tastic.

I ran him through the ringer for his review of “The A-Team” and I figured since I beat him up all the time, I should do a Top 5 list of movies Shawn was right about.

5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: In this case, I thought this installment of the Star Trek film franchise was silly and far too wide a sidestep from the franchise. Shawn, a giant Trekker of the most massive scale, explained to me that I shouldn’t over think it. This is the Star Trek comedy. I hadn’t watched it in a long time and went back for a second viewing. Shawn was right. This is a lighthearted, fun Star Trek adventure that is very accessible and I enjoyed far more the second go around.

4. X-Men: Before going to see this  in the theater with Shawn, I really thought it wasn’t going to work. With a massive cast and so many characters to develop in the huge X-Men Universe, I didn’t think they could pull it off. I really wasn’t amped about seeing it, but Shawn really wanted to go. And he was right. It was a blast. The Wolverine performance by Hugh Jackman remains among the best ever in comic book films. I was wrong, yet again.

3. Mr. Brooks: This was a movie I totally would have overlooked. Kevin Costner has passed his peak, and I don’t really seek out his films anymore. But Shawn reviewed this film for us, and based on his recommendation, I checked it out. Very solid little psycho-drama, mystery movie with a really good performance by Costner. Good choice, Shawn.

2. The Other Guys: This was another one of those movies I would have passed over. I like Will Ferrell, and all, but another buddy police comedy? Like that hasn’t been done? Well, this happens to be one of the best ones. We laughed often and hard in the theater when we went to see it. We had a blast, and I’m glad he got me to go.

1. The Matrix: Man oh man oh man, was I wrong about this one. Because Keanu Reeves was in this, I instantly wrote it off as a crap-fest of epic proportions and literally scoffed at Shawn when he glowed about it to me over coffee. When I finally got around to seeing this on video — God, was I late to the party — I was hooked on “The Matrix.” This is one of the best action/sci-fi films of all time. While the sequels may have left a bad taste in our collective mouths, the original remains a modern classic.

Shawn 5, Matt 0.

Top 5 John Carpenter Movies


John Carpenter pulls no punches. He is a director of horror, science-fiction, and cult hit movies. He is the master of it. There are no Academy Awards on his shelf, yet he boasts a string of extremely popular films that have made him one of the most successful directors of his generation. From classics like “Escape from New York” to “Starman,” Carpenter has been entertaining and frightening us for decades. Here is my list of Top 5 John Carpenter Movies.

5.  They Live – Carpenter rarely does blatant social commentary but his low budget, alien-among-us opus, They Live oozes with it. Consumerism, apathy, alienation and some political satire. Yes, the film is cheesy at times and the make up is a joke. I think it actually adds to the appeal of the film. Carpenter is in complete control here and it shows. A great, long fight scene by the 2 main leads, Roddy Piper and Keith David, is incredible to watch. Possibly the longest fight scene ever filmed. A great sci-fi outing that never disappoints. Obey. Sleep. Consume.

4. The Fog – I really love this film. Carpenter’s follow up to Halloween cements his place among the upper tier of horror filmmakers. The Fog is first and foremost a dreamy, ghost story that is chock full of mood and menace. A scary campfire tale come to life. Dean Cundey’s photography is top notch as always and Carpenter’s score is intense and ethereal. Carpenter juggles multiple characters and tells a ghastly story about wronged pirates come back to to life to exact revenge. Great film. Just steer clear of the remake.

3. Big Trouble in Little China – Oh that Kurt Russell. He flexes his comedic muscles here as a heroic but bumbling truck driver who unwittingly stumbles upon an age-old Chinese feud. Full of great choreographed fight scenes (way before Crouching Tiger), this tribute to Kung-Fu films is amazing to watch because of Carpenter and Russell’s tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. It has wizards, ghosts and creatures aplenty. Just plain fun. I have yet to meet someone who did not like this film.

2. Halloween – This film is a masterpiece. Halloween is an example of how to make a horror film right. Much has been said about this influential film that was shot for only $350,000. Cundey’s camera work, Carpenter’s music, and the great lead characters make his film vastly superior to it’s cheap knock-off peers. Yes, it is a slasher film but it is done with the utmost care, precision and love for the then young genre. We care for the characters and Carpenter carefully establishes that Micheal Myers is a force to be reckoned with. Insanely perfect all around, Halloween is a must see.

1. The Thing – Carpenter’s Citizen Kane. The Thing sports an all male cast finely tuned and lead by Carpenter’s frontman, the always capable Kurt Russell. This is a sci- fi whodunnit with paranoid flair. Everything here is masterfully done. The ensemble is flawless. Cundey’s camerawork is miraculous to watch. Carpenter’s direction is tight and precise. But it’s the suspense that Carpenter establishes and the make up FX by Rob Bottin that really shine here. The film plays out like some morbid, alien take of an Agatha Christie novel where we are witness to the characters beginning to fear and distrust each other. The blu-ray includes a fantastic commentary by Russell and Carpenter that is a fan favorite to this day. The Thing is a must own. It is my favorite Carpenter film. Enjoy.

The Karate Kid (2010)

After moving to Beijing with his mother, Dre (Jaden Smith) falls prey to a bully, so he takes lessons from martial arts master Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) in this remake of The Karate Kid. While Mr. Han teaches Dre to defend himself, he also imparts some important life lessons. Meanwhile, Dre struggles with the unfamiliar language and cultural barriers he encounters in his new country. Taraji P. Henson co-stars. Directed by Harald Zwart (Pink Panther 2).

Rating: 2 out of 10

I hate movie remakes. If a movie was really good the first time, there’s no reason whatsoever to make it again. If it sucked, there’s no reason to remake it, either. They almost never work out and do nothing but cause us to embrace the original that much more. The first time I saw the poster for “The Karate Kid” starring Will Smith’s kid Jaden, I could feel the tinge of vomit forming in the back of my throat. The original Karate Kid is a classic. It was about friendship, loyalty, and the belief that you can accomplish anything. It had wonderful performances from Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita that were so likeable that they endear viewers to this day. This remake stars Jackie Chan, who’s more famous for his daredevil stunts than his acting. I’m assuming he was added for star power because he emotes about as well as a dry stone. In fact, there is one scene where he cries and it looks like they applied wet drops to his eyes to create the effect. The starring role by Jaden Smith is a clunky mess. He handles the physical stuff fine but anytime he speaks he comes across as a cocky and annoying little brat. This is where the film completely fails. You can’t build an entire movie around rooting for the underdog when you can’t stand him.

So, what’s different in this film? Well, for one the fight scenes are exaggerated and unrealistic. These preteens kick harder than Chuck Norris on his meanest day. In an early scene, Jaden Smith gets beat up, (I was rooting for the bully by the way) and kicked and punched so hard and so many times a grown adult would have been in the ICU. He just gets up, goes home, and applies makeup to his eye so his mother can’t tell he got his ass kicked. Also, during the tournament at the end of the film, the moves executed by 12 year olds would knock out MMA fighters. It’s just ridiculous and laughable.

In closing, watch the original again and ignore this awful remake. Oh, and if it wasn’t nauseating enough to sit through this piece of shit, during the end credits we’re treated to a bunch of on the set pictures with Jaden and his father and mother who wasn’t even in the fucking movie! Seriously, is this not the most arrogant and annoying family in entertainment history? Isn’t it bad enough that Will Smith makes shitty movies? Now his kid stars in a remake of one of the best kids’ films ever and we have to see a Smith family photo album while we sit disgusted. Ugh………..feeling the tinge in my throat again.

Ninja Assassin

Trained since childhood to be a lethal killer, Raizo, played by Sung Kang (Fast & Furious), has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him and now seeks revenge for their heartless murders. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika, played by Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), Raizo steadily butchers his enemies while inching ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master. James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) directs.

Rating: 3 out of 10

I’m a big fan of good, loud, and fun action movies.  I love “Die Hard,” “Lethal Weapon” and “Rambo.”

Do I know they’re dumb at times?  Sure, but they have great characters and amazing action and the time flies by when I watch them.  So, I thought “Ninja Assassin” would be right up my alley.  Well, partially it was.  There’s some great action with huge doses of gratuitous violence (a genre staple).  And, that’s all I can say that’s positive.

But when I say there’s no story, we’re talking almost zero. The breakdown goes like this: A secret society kidnaps kids and trains them to be assassins so that they can carry out orders for a master who gets large amounts of cash for the executions.  At one point, one of them rebels against the master and in turn he sends all the assassins after the rebel.  That’s it.  That is the entire story.  No, I’m not kidding.  It really is.  We are then basically subjected to 90 minutes of slice and chop from a character we know jack shit about and could care less whether he’s alive or dead.  There are also very obvious shots of digital blood splashes that come out of enemies when our “hero” slices and dices.  It looks incredibly fake and distracting.

What happened to the good old days of action and horror?  If Wes Craven and John Carpenter needed blood, they reached for corn syrup dyed red and a hose.  I can’t recommend “Ninja Assassin” because after watching it. I felt like I was watching the director play Xbox, but never getting to touch the controller.  That’s no fun.