All quiet on the movie front

When I took a look at the list of the most notable action movies from last year I realized I had watched most of them. The masterpieces such as Logan and the underwhelming ones like Ghost in the Shell alike. Having congratulated myself on comprehensiveness worthy of a movie buff, I took a look at some of those that flew under the radar, at least in my book. One of them was the Korean movie The Villainess.

Remember that legendary scene from Oldboy in which Min-Sik Choi fights his way through a horde of thugs in a hallway, all taken in one shot? Well, this movie shows us that a woman can do just as much, and even more. Just from a POV perspective and with a lot of editing and fast cuts. And some really poor looking CGI backgrounds. Coming from a relatively unknown director, The Villainess is a strange mix of high-octane action and your typically Korean patheticalness (exploiting a chubby little girl with her mouth full of rice so as to induce a reaction from the soft-hearted in the audience) but with many plot and story issues, accompanied by bizarre use of Christian imagery (crosses on the wall in facilities of a secret government organization we never even learn anything substantial about, and cross-shaped tattoos on the arms of ruthless assassins because reasons). Thus, it's just a decent action movie that fails in many aspects and definitely doesn't reach the high standards set up by the geniuses the likes of Chan-Wook Park and Kim-Ki Duk. If you're looking for a gut-wrenching horror-thriller coming from Korea check out The Wailing instead. I'm not even going to spoil that one.

Another movie that was on the sidelines in 2017 was the Netflix-produced Wheelman, starring Frank Grillo (Crossbones from the Captain America movies). A movie about a getaway driver that gets himself embroiled in a bank robbery gone south, Wheelman is a competent film that takes cues from the best ones in the genre, such as Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and of course, the classic - Walter Hill's The Driver. Also, it's only 82 minutes long so if you're one of those people who isn't keen on long movies, this is the right one for you.

Finally, the last movie I saw in the cinema, even though it was this year and not 2017, was Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to the 2013 Del Toro Kaiju monster mash. The first Pacific Rim was a movie that caught me off guard - I went into watching with almost zero expectations, and ended up being blown away by it. It went so far that I even considered it one of the best movies of the year. Five years later, after Guillermo Del Toro went to direct his Oscar-baiting, cross-species agenda of a movie, we have the sequel directed by Steven S. DeKnight starring John Boyega and Clint Eastwood's son. And Chinese people of course, because these are the times we live in (seriously, you have whole sections of the movie in Mandarin, both to curry favor with the audiences in mainland China and to make the job easier for the actress, Jing Tian. Yes, Chinese people suck at English, I know because I taught it there). The vibe I got this time was definitely: We are gonna make this as light as possible and go for marketing it to the kids. That's why half the cast is adolescents, and why you have a whole range of Jaegers with catchy names like November Ajax and Obsidian Fury. And the Kaijus have funny names too, and look like they're gonna be able to be transformed and merged into one once they get off the assembly line in the toy factory. Still, it wasn't a bad movie, and it didn't offend me so I give it a recommendation. If they really go into the Kaiju dimension in the third one it promises to be at least worthy of keeping an eye out for.

It's been a slow year when it comes to movies so I hope it's going to pick up in the coming months, especially with the Marvel movies in May. If not, there's always the huge stash of those I haven't yet seen on my hard-drive. There is more than fifty of them there, and most have been waiting for a long while.


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