Archive for the '2 Star' Category

21
May
08

God of Gamblers (賭神 or Dǔshén; lit)

God of Gamblers [1989]

This classic from Hong Kong stars Chow Yun-Fat as ‘Ko Chun’ AKA ‘Chocolate’,  one of the best professional gamblers in the world.

Ko Chun agrees to clean out a Singaporean gambler when its learned he killed a friends family member. The match is set up, but Ko Chun accidentally falls down a hill and hits his head the night of the game.

He suffers from amnesia and is picked up by some local pranksters and pickpockets. He regresses to a child like state and they name him Chocolate. His life is still on the line since he is a target for gangsters. He must gain back his ability and learn his past so that he can beat the Singaporean and put an end to all the mess.

Either this is a huge classic, or its just hard to find. The average price is like $25-$30 on amazon for a used copy. I always wanted this as I am a fan of romantic gambler movies and card manipulation. I found it at a local import store that was clearing out their movies for $6. I was very excited and picked it up right away.

Dang… I sure was disappointed. Chow Yun-Fat is awesome and a favorite of mine. But I don’t understand the draw to this movie. It has plenty of appeal, but never delivers. There is some action. There is some laughs. There is even a little XCM! But its too far, too few, too little, too late.

I think the thing that killed it the most for me is, in most gambling movies, (Maverick, Cincinnati Kid, Big Hand for the Little Lady, etc) people are blessed with extreme skill, wit, and even lady luck. But in this film, how good you are is completely based on how well you cheat. Everyone cheats, and everyone knows it. This includes our protagonist. So the question is, HOW did they cheat. To me, there is no honor in that. Where are the poker face mind games we all crave?

Unless you work security in a casino, why would you want to watch a movie where you have to tell how they cheat?

I’ll make this quick. 2 stars. Its got a tiny bit of action, comedy, charisma, and even card manipulation. But its lack of more delivery and the fact that cheaters always win that irks me. I traded in in and got $10 cause it was ‘rare’. I hope someone else gets their moneys worth.

04
May
08

The California Kid

The California Kid [1974]

The California Kid is a 1974 TV movie starring Martin Sheen, Vic Morrow, and Nick Nolte. It has gained a cult status over the years and has recently been resurrected on DVD.

In this small town, would be speeders find there is no escaping the long arm of the law. It is rumored that the local sheriff (Vic Morrow) is so strict about speeding, he will do ANYTHING in his power to stop lead foots.

Fiction becomes fact when the sheriff decides to ram two naval cadets off a cliff when caught speeding. Too bad one happens to be the brother of Michael McCord (Martin Sheen) AKA The California Kid. McCord rolls into town in his 1934 Ford three-window coupe. After doing some research on the death of his brother, he finds it is no accident. From then on, it is his personal job to settle the score and bring justice to the sinister sheriff.

This movie no doubt gained cult status for one of three reasons. One, it has a mean classic beast of a car. Two, it is one of Martin Sheen’s earliest roles. And three, it is an odd premise… a killer whos choice of weapon is a car. Perhaps this is where Tarantino got his idea for ‘Death Proof’?

I liked the car very much. And Martin Sheens cool as stone demeanor was a perfect compliment to the automobile. Vic Morrow does his ‘Cowboy Cop’ routine with ease. And…. that’s about it….

Its a very short movie, probably because it was made for TV. There’s not a lot to it. Very short, simple, to the point. No one part particularly stands out. But its not worthless. Good short Sunday movie.

2 Stars. It has its use. Watch it to pass time or veg out. Luckily, its very cheap. I got it sealed for $5.99 and Amazon has it for less.

03
May
08

Bedazzled

Bedazzled [1967]

Most of you are familiar with the movie made in 2000 called Bedazzled with Elizibeth Hurly and Brendan Fraser. But not all may be aware it was a part remake of a classic british hit staring comedy duo Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.

We start with Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore). Stanley is a short order cook at a local cafe. His one wish in life is to gain the courage to ask out the waitress that has worked there with him for years. After years of frustration, he decides to end his life. Before he does, the Devil (Peter Cook), offers him seven wishes in return for his soul.

After reluctantly accepting, he begins using his wishes. In between wishes, he spends most his time talking with the Devil and his many employees. The Devils employees include Anger, Sloth, Gluttony, and Lust (Raquel Welch) to name a few.  Soon, he starts to realize each wish has a twist or a catch. It is then up to him to out smart the Devil into getting what he really wants.

Well, lets begin with the positives. Cook and Moore work well together, and their timing is very natural. There are moments when I laughed out loud. Including the ‘pop star’ scene, the ‘bouncy nun’ scene, and other parts where the two would banter. The movie is shot beautifully. It completely captures the ‘MOD’ scene of Swinging London. The music, the visuals, the clothing…. it’s all there!

But man, is it gonna cost you. The movie seems too long. Maybe they were revolutionary for the time, but I feel majority of the jokes were so small and tiny, you could see them coming a mile away. I wanted to fast forward often. And its no wonder they made the Devil a woman in the remake. Perhaps its because they are English, but at times, Stanley and the Devils relationship seemed down right homosexual. So when you have two males sharing the entire movie together, you should throw in some eye candy to get your mind on the ‘straight’ path right? Well, perhaps that was what Raquel Welch was for. They have her plastered all over every poster, booklet or DVD cover for this movie. But shes hardly in the movie. I think you may see her twice and that’s it. So, Raquel fans, you will be disappointed.

A classic comedy it may be, but for me, I would say 2 stars. I think if you were REALLY in the mood for this sort of thing, it could be 3 stars. If you do watch it, I recommend watching it with friends so you can goof off during the movie MST3K style, it would make it a lot better than it was for me (alone in a room).

03
May
08

Escape from New York

Escape from New York [1981]

In 1981, John Carpenter gave us Snake Plisskin in the form of Escape from New York.

A look into the future takes us to 1997. New York, over time, has been turned into a giant prison to house the nations criminals. A wall of stone and water has been built, and there is no way out. Within New York, you still have your freedom, however it does not mean much when surrounded by dangerous criminals and no laws to protect you. When Air Force One is hijacked, they crash the plane in New York, leaving the president of the United States left to fend for himself amongst lawless criminals.

Soon, the president is captured for ransom. The head police commissioner known as Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) decides to give new inmate Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell) a shot at wiping the slate clean….. if he can rescue the president in 24 hours. Snake is ex-special forces and knows his way in and out of tight spots. After fitting him with some gear and a virus that will kill him if he fails or tries to flee, he begins his run through this terrible city.

Well, what can I say? Many people look up to this movie as a classic cult film. Many have been raised on Snake Plisskin, and its easy to see that he was the inspiration for ‘Snake’ in the video game series ‘Metal Gear’. Anytime you take in a ‘cult’ movie, or ‘B’ movie, you have to be prepared for it to suck. Because sometimes, the reason it is popular is because people like to sit back and laugh at its ridiculousness. Like the 80s classics ‘Voyage of the Rock Aliens’ or ‘Ice Pirates’. Other times, they are ‘cult’ or ‘B’ because you were expecting so little, and it actually paid off larger than you thought.

For me, I came in with an open mind (this was my first time viewing this movie). I was ready for the movie to suck so I can laugh, or for it to surprise me with good things. It did neither. Nothing stood out in this movie. There was no part where I said “Wow! That’s cool!”. I never laughed out loud. It was simply just a ho-hum story. No action stood out. Acting was reminiscent of a TV movie on the W.B. And on the flip side, nothing was spun off as over the top for me to laugh at.

It wasn’t a worthless piece of garbage. It has screen legends Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine. They are always welcome. The whole 80s visuals and sound effects were super high-tech. There are quite a few twists at the end as well. It was appreciated. Not to mention the clout that comes with viewing a ‘classic’ you can now talk about with friends, coworkers, associates, etc.

Man, I know I’m gonna get in trouble for this with most my friends. Maybe you will give me hell in the comments, but I gotta be honest. 2 stars. You can watch it once. I’m not gonna give it 1 star and say avoid it like the plague. But its just not something I see wanting to own. I’m gonna trade in my copy on my days off as a matter of fact.




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