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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Sung Kang

Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

High school sucks so much that, honestly, sometimes you just have to make your own excitement.

Accomplished high school student Ben (Parry Shen) seems to excel at almost everything and it’s absolutely boring him to death. When your Asian, living in the suburbs of California, and doing so well in school, honestly, nothing else really excites you anymore. But you know what does? Not being able to actually win something over, or, in Ben’s case, not being able to win over his dream girl, Stephanie (Karin Anna Cheung). It’s all Ben can ever think about, so eventually, he decides to strike up an unlikely friendship with trouble-seeking tough guy Daric (Roger Fan), where he starts doing all sorts of bad and illegal stuff, along with various other members of the so-called “gang”. Eventually, these illegal ventures start setting their sights toward Stephanie, and her rich boyfriend Steve (John Cho), who has a proposition for these guys that, if they’re able to succeed with the plan, may make them all rich. But for some reason, it may not go as planned, being that Steve and Ben don’t necessarily get along in the first place.

Yeah, fairs can kind of suck.

Better Luck Tomorrow is a surprising film for many reasons. One, first and foremost, because it presents a different, intelligent view of Asian Americans that we don’t ever actually get to see in American movies, or better yet, in American high school movies. See, a lot of the times, the constant cliche with Asians in films such as these is that they’re so book-smart, can’t speak a lick of English, and are mostly used as funny, side-characters to help guide us through this adventure of watching a white protagonist, struggle and get through high school. Of course, this is just a rough generalization of what we’re used to seeing, but if any John Hughes movie is proof, then yeah, Asians have it bad when it comes to high school movies.

And that’s why Better Luck Tomorrow is so interesting, because it turns that whole viewpoint on the side and for once, shows us Asian Americans who are just like the white protagonists in all of those other movies, except in this case, they’re far more real and raw. These kids here don’t just curse, but they drink, they smoke, they have sex, they get naked, they commit crimes, and hell, they could even care less about their grades. Co-writer/director Justin Lin has made quite the career for himself taking on the Fast and Furious franchise, but if anything, he shows us that he has a unique and smart voice that isn’t just something we’ve seen, or heard before.

Or even if we have, it’s way different than ever before.

Choose Harold. Especially if he has a sick-ass moped. 

And in that sense, yes, Better Luck Tomorrow is a smart film that, honestly, doesn’t get made as much as it should. But then, there’s this other side of the movie that’s actually more about the tone, the feel and the actual plot itself which, believe it or not, still works. Better Luck Tomorrow starts out as your typical coming-of-ager where the guy dreams of getting the girl, but slowly and surely, starts to show its true colors; things get dark, real quick, but you actually believe them. The movie could have easily fallen apart trying to take itself more seriously, but Lin keeps it altogether, showing us that sometimes, when you’re young and feel as if you have nothing left to lose, chances are, you’re going to make some pretty awful, life-altering decisions.

The movie isn’t as hokey as I make it sound, though. Lin knows better then to dive into sentimentality, or to get all caught up in the usual cheesiness that comes with coming-of-age high school tales. There’s a certain feel and look for realism that not only makes the movie oddly relatable, but in a way, rather sweet. We get to see and understand these characters for all that they are, not just who, or what they represent, and it makes us easier to identify with them as troubled, confused and bored kids, as opposed to a bunch of types.

Still, the moral of the story? Well, I’m not so sure and that’s probably the movie’s biggest issue.

It’s hard to figure out just why the ending left a sick taste in my mouth, but it probably has to do with the fact that it just sort of ends, and that’s it. Yes, it’s neat that no real lessons are learned, or even, thankfully, taught to us, but there’s still an odd feeling of something missing. It’s as if the story itself wasn’t over, but just that Lin either ran out of money, or lost some footage, somewhere out there in the world. Either way, it makes Better Luck Tomorrow, what is otherwise a very fun, insightful and rather interesting coming-of-ager, feel weird – as if there was more to be had, but we just didn’t get it.

Consensus: By putting its focus on characters we don’t get to see in the spotlight so much, Better Luck Tomorrow opens itself up to a whole new, interesting world and promises of ideas, but also shows us that oddly fun and compelling tales like these are universal, regardless of race.

8 / 10

Guess what? These kids could probably kick your ass. You just didn’t know it.

Photos Courtesy of: Entertainment Weekly, Decider, Tropics of Meta

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Pearl Harbor (2001)

Cause I’m proud to be an American, where Michael Bay makes crappy movies.

It was the morning of December 7, 1941, and as usual, everything was practically the same. Except, only a couple moments later, Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor, killing thousands and injuring more, thus beginning America’s own, official involvement with WWII. However, despite the movie being named after that horrific event in our history that we will soon never forget, the story isn’t too concerned with that. What the story is concerned with is the life-long friendship between two pilots, Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett). They’ve both been through thick and thin together from an early age, so they feel as if joining the U.S.A.’s Army Air Corps won’t even come close to putting a stranglehold on their friendship, however, they’re wrong. Dead wrong, to be exact and ironic. Because once Rafe volunteers to help out things for the British on their turf-war against the Germans, things go bad and Rafe winds up killed on the battlefield. This leaves Danny devastated, just as much as it leaves Evelyn Stewart (Kate Beckinsale), the little Navy nurse that Rafe shacked-up with before he went off to-duty. Now that Rafe is gone from both of their lives, the only thing that Danny and Evelyn can do is move on, which ultimately means that they have to start banging one another. Which is fine for quite some time, that is, until Rafe turns out to be alive after all! Dun dun dun!

And I do promise you that the Japanese planes do eventually come into play and start bombing the hell out of Pearl Harbor, however, you’ve got to wad through almost two hours of poor character-development, horrendous acting, a cheesy love-triangle that couldn’t be any less unemotional or compelling, obvious propaganda, war movie clichés where fellow soldiers make dirty sex jokes to one another, Japanese army generals looking as if they only sleep, eat and breath death and destruction, and Jon Voight in a rubber double-chin.

Yawn. Where's the explosions?

Yawn. Where’s the explosions?

And even then, yes, the movie still gets a slight recommendation from me.

I know, I know, I know! The flames from hell will rise up with that statement, but please do let me explain. I assure you: If I do not convince you that this is an “okay movie” in the most respectable, reasonable sense-of-the-word, then I give you the right to just automatically block my blog from your mind, for the rest of your natural-born life. Deal? Okay, then. Let’s get started, shall I?

Honestly, it makes sense why this movie was made: A similar, star-crossed lovers romance flick, that just so happened to take place around a disastrous time, in a certain place, Titanic, made a lot of big bucks and brought home almost every statue imaginable, so why not try to emulate that success once again, but this time, with an even more tragic event in our country’s history, the attack on Pearl Harbors? Better yet, why not get an auteur who can not only bring us the emotional-cues we need to fall in love with these dream-boats, more so than they’re falling for each other, but also give us a realistic, jaw-dropping look at what the bombings most likely did feel like: Michael Bay? Yeah, that decision just never sits right with me and while I can see why they did nab him for this movie (more on that later), there’s still apart of me wondering about better, more able choices out there. I can’t really come up with any on the top of my head that would have been able to handle both the romance side of the story, as well as the action-spectacle surrounding it, but Michael Bay is nowhere near one of those names, except for maybe the later aspect (like I said, more on that later).

That’s probably why this movie gets its ass kicked so much by viewers and critics, because while it may promise you an endless array of shit blowing up to pieces, it doesn’t occur for quite some time and instead, we’re left with a romance that’s as titillating as watching you’re grand-parents celebrate their 60th anniversary together. It’s dull, it’s dry, it’s uneventful and as much as I hate to say it, but the only thing that makes these scenes a whole lot better to get through, is that you know the Pearl Harbor attack is only right around the bend. Terrible thing to think about a real-life event and actually to be looking forward to it, but when you put your mind through something like a Michael Bay movie, where all sorts of strangeness takes precedence, then you just have to hope for the best and wait to see what comes around.

Which is exactly why when the Pearl Harbor attacks happened, even though I’ve seen it about a hundred million times now (two of those times were actually watching the whole movie, all over again), it still was able to send chills up my spine, scare my shorts off and make me realize that for what it’s worth, Michael Bay can still direct the hell out of his action scenes and have them come off as something that’s close to the real thing. I know a lot of people will probably get on this movie’s case, as well as my own for even recommending it in the slightest bit, about how certain things that are portrayed in these attacks, didn’t really occur in real life, but to me, that didn’t quite hurt my feelings about this movie. I understand that with a Michael Bay movie, you have to sort of expect all types of craziness to happen, regardless of it is real or not. I know it sounds crazy to say that about the Pearl Harbor attacks, but seriously, it didn’t get into my brain as much because it was a Michael Bay movie. If it was anybody else like say James Cameron, or Steven Spielberg, or anybody else for that matter, then it would be a totally different story and predicament. However, when you have a Michael Bay movie on your hands, you sort of have to treat it like you would a five-year-old who doesn’t get their way: Just let them act-up, piss, moan and do whatever else it is that they do, just as long as you remember to make sure they get back on the right path.

May be a terrible analogy, may not be, but what I’m trying to get across is that while Michael Bay can, and does make many, many mistakes with this movie, the fact that he was able to show the Pearl Harbor attacks in the best way humanly possible back in the beginning of the New Millennium, more than makes up for those said mistakes. In fact, I’d wager that if you were really that interested in seeing what these Pearl Harbor attacks are all about and how they look, especially without even watching the rest of the crap that comes before it, then just check it all out on YouTube. Probably easier and better for your mind, eyes, soul and time-management. But I’m a movie critic and I watch full-length movies, in their entirety. Which, in essence, means that when I watch a movie, I watch the full she-bang just in case I may miss something that I do, or don’t like.

And believe it or not, there’s actually one more aspect surrounding this movie that I did in fact like: The cast.

That's more like it! I guess? I don't know?

That’s more like it! I guess? I don’t know?

Actually, let me rephrase that better by saying, “the supporting cast”. See, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck (pre-directing days, people, so it’s alright to bash him if you want), though with their best intentions, absolutely suck the life out of this movie. Affleck is barely around since he “dies” in the first twenty or so minutes, only to show up an-hour-and-a-half later and do nothing else other than yell, shoot down Japanese soldiers and try to teach his best-buddy a lesson about banging his girlfriend while he was away, so I guess he doesn’t totally count. Which then leaves us to be stuck with Beckinsale and Hartness who have no chemistry whatsoever, can’t seem to get through even the shittiest of lines without struggling a bit and show no charisma at all. They just seem like they were thrown on a platter, told to talk to one another by their chaperon Michael Bay and did what they had to do so that they could collect that paycheck, go on home to their significant other, sweet-talk them into the next morning and get back to the day’s next events. Which, most likely, consisted of the same, meandering crap of boring us to death.

But since they suck so much, this does leave plenty of room for the supporting cast to charm the hell out of us, and that is exactly what most of them do, for better and definitely for worse. Alec Baldwin gets the “Affleck treatment” here as well, where he shows up for no more than five minutes in the first-half, does his bit, makes us laugh, and practically is non-existent for the next two-and-a-half hours, until he shows back up and does the same thing as before: Act nutty and steal the show. Cuba Gooding Jr. gets to do the same kind of stuff, except for the fact that he feels criminally underused in a film that could have used his warmth and charm to help the movie move along. However, he’s still fine. Same goes for Tom Sizemore who, once again, plays a gritty, raw and unfrightened military sergeant who isn’t afraid to bring out the big guns in the heat of the battle. Then we have Jon Voight as the previously-mentioned, rubber double-chin president, FDR, and is fine for giving us somebody that is obviously Jon Voight playing FDR, but is still enjoyable enough to give him a pass. Same goes for the likes of Jennifer Garner, Ewen Bremner, Michael Shannon, Colm Feore and heck, even Jamie King, who never does anything for me, EVER in any other flick. She’s just another set of beautiful, bright eyes and nice……talents, which probably made her the love of Michael Bay’s life for the whole time they were shooting. All until she got creeped out, told him to piss off and he was about done with her. Hey, not like it hasn’t ever happened!

Consensus: Undeniably hokey, badly-written, hollow and laughably idiotic at times, and yet, Pearl Harbor is still okay enough to watch, if only for the amazing Pearl Harbor sequence itself, and some supporting performances that have you forget about the awful leads practically doing nothing with what they’re given, which is even worse considering it’s a Michael Bay movie.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Convince you yet? Probably not, but so be it! Michael Bay rules!

Convince you yet? Probably not, but so be it! So I’ll just let it all out: Michael Bay rules!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Bullet to the Head (2013)

Rocky traded in his gloves, for a junk-load of guns and nobody cared. Poor guy.

After hitman Jimmy “Bobo” (Sylvester Stallone) is set up on a hit on him and his partner gets killed for it by a ruthless mercenary named Keegan (Jason Momoa), he isn’t quite happy so therefore, he sets out to gain revenge on these rat bastards who put a bounty on his head. Seems like a simple job of killing people, getting money, and relaxing with a bottle of whisky at the end of the day, for Bobo, but it all gets a bit screwed up once a detective (Sung Kang) gets in the way and try to get them to work together, and if not, well, then Bobo’s going to jail for all of the bad shite that he’s done in the past. Obviously Bobo would much rather take the job than the price to pay, but it becomes harder and harder for these two to really get along and actually come to terms that one of them has to go to jail for something, along the line.

First, Arnie got his big comeback movie that bombed, and now Sly gets his comeback movie, and it bombed as well. What’s the dealio, folks?!?! Even though the latter’s bomb wasn’t as bad as the former’s, it’s still sad to know that these two guys, despite the action icons that they once were, and still are in a way today, can’t seem to cut a break with the current movie-going audience as people can’t really accept older dudes still kicking ass, shooting guns, and having the coolest things to say, as if they were still in their late-20’s/early 30’s. It doesn’t work on us anymore and it’s a shame too, because these guys will always and forever be in our hearts, even if their names may not be attached to our tickets. Sad, sad, sad. But hey, at least they still have some fun for the most part, right?

Well, I can’t lie, but yeah, they do. The Last Stand was a pretty entertaining movie that knew it was dumb and had a fun time being so, and this movie is sort of the same thing, with obvious differences seen. Actually, probably one of the main differences between the two is that that one was probably a lot better, whereas this one is just something that you watch, have fun with, but are really reminded that you lost your brain for an hour-and-a-half. I mean, yeah; Arnie’s movie wasn’t on top of the IQ level either, but hell, at least it didn’t have me feel like I just smoked a ton of pot by all of the brain cells that I lost.

"Oooh! Close one! Nice job!"

“Oooh! Close one! Nice job!”

That’s exactly what this flick made me feel like when it was over and yeah, maybe that’s the point, but at least more effort and time could have been put into this thing. Then again, the fact that it was pushed-back two years from it’s original release date, and that Walter Hill hasn’t really made a good movie in awhile, I guess I can sort of see why it’s so bad at times. The tone is just all-over-the-place, because it can’t make up it’s mind as to whether or not it wants to be a buddy-cop comedy or a straight-up action thriller, with Sly’s little comments on the side. There are times when the movie seems like it wants to be funny with Sly and Kang, and there are other times where it seems like it wants to be serious and melodramatic with it’s action, guns,  and violence, but it never makes sense of which way it’s going.

It’s almost as if Hill got stuck in the middle of an intersection, had his GPS fizzle out on him, and he just sat there, called  AAA, and continued to wait and wait until someone or something saved him. Stupid analogy, I know, but it’s all that I could come up with, since Hill didn’t seem to come up with anything else here, other than a bunch of scenes of people using a bunch of exposition, going from point-A to point-B, and saying that they are going to kill the other one in a violent, scary way. That’s all there is to it, and when the action actually does come around and liven things up a bit; it doesn’t do it’s job like it should, which is a huge bummer since we know where Hill and Sly come from.

So, why the hell was this such a bummer?!?!

It’s rated-R, it has blood, it has shooting, it has violence, and it even has nudity (thank the high heavens for Sarah Shahi), so why the hell does this flick not capitalize on the fact that it could have been something straight from the 80’s? I honestly have no clue, but with all of the shaky-cam elements and the toning back of being violent and brutal, just for the sake of being so, I can tell that Sly and Hill’s control sort of got lessened-down, month by month, once this movie began to make it’s way to the theaters. It’s a real shame too, because together, you’d think that these guys would have had a total blast working together and would want to show it; but something didn’t feel right here. I guess I just wanted a bit more than I was given. So be it, I’m greedy.

But if there was anybody at all involved with this movie that seemed to be having fun, it was Sly himself as Bobo, a great character for a great action star. Sly may be getting older, but in terms of his acting and his physical-being; it does not show. Yeah, the dude is 66 and you’ll sometimes wonder how a man of his age and his stature can still do half of the shit that Bobo does, but you’ll be willing to forgive and forget about it once Sly takes out the guns (literal and joking sense), starts hammering away at some baddies, and uses some of the best lines I’ve heard him use in quite some time. He makes fun of the fact that he’s getting older and what he used to do back in the day, but it isn’t as jokey as his Expendables movies are.

"See, dad? Because you weren't there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the walls in the Subway."

“See, dad? Because you weren’t there for me when I was growing up, I now look like the side streets of Philly.”

Everybody else compared to Sly, are disappointments. However, not huge ones because you can tell that they were only doing it for the money, and weren’t too concerned with how their careers looked after it was over. You could have gotten rid of Sung Kang in this movie and I would have not noticed a single lick of a difference here whatsoever, except that the movie would have probably sped-up a lot quicker and even been better in most areas, too. It’s not that the dude’s bad, but the script he’s given is such crap, that he doesn’t have much development or emotional connection to this story whatsoever, that you just wish Sly would flip his switch and kill him off. He isn’t as annoying as I may make him sound, but he sure as hell is boring and a waste of time to watch, especially when he’s next to Sly who seems like he’s just having a grand time being himself, and nothing else.

Consensus: There is plenty of dumb, silly, and nonsensical violence and action to be found in Bullet to the Head that will still make you feel as if you are watching an old-school movie, starring a very old-school Stallone, but everything else around him goes terribly, terribly wrong in their own ways that it brings him, as well as the movie, down to near-boredom.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You're so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?"

“You’re so old that nobody goes to see your movies unless you have all of your other OLD friends with you. Okay, should I leave now?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

It’s the year 2013, and yet, still no Hamster Wheels getting involved with these street-races!

Where the last thrill-ride ended, this next one begins with the one and only Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the rest of the clan having to team up with Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to stop a highly skilled criminal outfit (lead by Luke Evans), all in the hopes that they will earn themselves legal pardons. But to make matters even worse for the situation, it seems as if Dom’s old-love, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is alive and walking, even though she CLEARLY, FUCKIN’ DIED IN THE 4TH MOVIE!!!

Wow, I am really shocked by this. I was never a huge lover of the franchise, but as time went on; I started to grow fonder and fonder of what it could do, if it just allowed itself to have more fun, outside the world of street-racing. Of course, there’s still illegal street-racing going on and whatnot, but there’s more to this movie than just that. We got brawls; guns shooting; babes looking like hot tamales; shit being blown up; and now, we even got tanks to show up and do their thang. To say that this franchise has definitely improved would be an understatement, but to say that it’s idea of changing itself up a bit, evolving with the times, and giving itself more meat to chew on; is just about perfect.

Why? Because this movie is freakin’ awesome, and I never thought I’d be saying that about a movie starring Paul Walker. Never!

It’s a shame that Justin Lin won’t be coming back for the 7th installment, because the dude honestly seems like the perfect fit for these movies. Not only does Lin seem to enjoy being around all of these characters and watching them mess around with one another, but he also loves the whole idea of blowing shit up, and having fun with it. The dude revels in material like this, which may sound a bit off-putting in a way, but no need to worry because all of the fun that he’s having, is essentially brought out onto us and never leaves. Not even until that post-credits is off the screen (by the way, that’s what tops it off to be “freakin’ awesome”).

"You blinked first!"

“You blinked first!”

And that’s exactly what most action movies of this nature: unabashedly fun. Of course the movie is completely and utterly stupid with it’s over-the-top stunts that seem to not only cheat gravity, but lie about what the human-body can, and cannot do. But unles your some speed-junkie, who needs to jump off of things, and dare put yourself to near-death, just so that you can have; then you have to worry about seeing this. But if you’re just a normal, lax person that likes to have fun, and likes to see other people having fun while you join in on it; then this movie is the type of party you want to go to. Hell, even if you want to bring a couple of party-favors for you and your companion to join in on and have fun with, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you get caught and arrested, this site does not exist. Just a fore-warning.

But the question for me, myself, and I, is: how the hell did I become so fond of this franchise that I not only gave this the highest-rating of all, but how the hell do I find myself ranking the next one on top of my list to see next year? I honestly have no clue, but considering it’s the summer, it’s hot outside, and my brain has been turned off since last Friday when I filled in my last circle on my last final, then maybe that has something to do with. Speculation of my brain aside, this movie does not beg you to have a brain in order to watch it and enjoy yourself, all you need to know is what you’re getting yourself into and let the magic take it’s hold from there. I want to say check out the rest of the franchise before scoping this out, but coming from a person who didn’t much care for every other movie (except for the miraculous fifth one), I don’t know if it will do much help. Every addition seems to get better and better as the years go by, and it’s only a matter of time until we have Fast & Furious 30, gunning for the Oscars.

However, I highly doubt on that short-list for a nomination will be the acting of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. No offense against the dudes, because the script is idiotic, but these guys really lost all type of personality that made the first one such a dumb, but easy-to-watch gem. Diesel is always staring at people, grumbling his monologues that seemed to have been written by a 10-year-old who just got the “okay” from mommy and daddy to curse from now on, and always challenge people to either race or fight. It doesn’t matter what the hell the guy may be having a casual-convo with another person about, every time, it seems like they all end with him either ready to brawl, or ready to rev-up that beauty-of-an-engine of his. Then of course, we have Paul Walker here who’s as wooden as he can be (which is not saying a lot), but at least he’s not painful to watch. Since this is an ensemble piece where everybody gets their slice to chew up, Walker is thrown to the back a lot and giving a couple of chances to show how bad-ass he truly can be, even if it is just him driving around and looking stunning. I’m not gay, but has that guy aged at all? Seriously, his hair has just turned from dirty-blond to brown, and that’s about it. Oh, and some scruff too!

Anyway, returning as Hobbs is Dwayne Johnson who absolutely seems like he’s having the time of his life. The dude is tough, rugged, ready to find out what the hell’s going on here, and not taking no as an answer one bit. Johnson loves these types of roles where he pokes a bit of fun at his own image, but at the same time, still gets to show us the people’s eyebrow and how much ass he can truly kick. Joining his gang of criminal-busting, is Gina Carano who seems to have the same look and act going on here that she had in Haywire. Yes, she can still do all the flips and the ass-kicking that she’s been known to do, but when it comes to acting and actually giving us somebody that’s memorable in the least bit: she ultimately fails and gives the same look the whole movie. But hey, at least she’s using her own voice this time and not somebody else’s.

Rounding out the rest of the crew of “good guys” are the usual crew that we’re used to seeing and having fun with. Tyrese Gibson is apparently the poorest out of everybody who got their fare-share in the last heist, and can’t stop bringing up how he needs money for certain things; Ludacris always loves to bust his chops about it, as well as making fun of his big fore-head (apparently he did and just nobody noticed or cared enough to say anything in the first place); Jordana Brewster doesn’t do much other than stay-at-home and watch her O’Conner’s kid (who I feel bad for already, considering he will not past his driver’s test once); and Shea Whigham also shows up a bit, and does the role he was most known for in the 4th one (aka, getting his ass kicked), but it’s still nice to see him and hopefully he got a nice Jacuzzi cover out of the ordeal.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it's nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

Even in a world where marathons get bombed and terrorist threats have become a daily-happening, it’s nice to be reminded that the world can be happy, pleasing place to be alive in. Ah.

As for the “bad guys”, well, they too are okay, if a little dumb. The problem Luke Evan’s character, Shaw, isn’t that Evans gives a bad performance or anything, it’s that the character he’s playing is so loud, so obnoxious, and so blatant with the bad shit that he’s about to pull, that it makes almost no sense about how people continue to say that he gets away with stuff because he’s so secretive and so mysterious. I call bullshit on that for the reason that one of his tactics of showing his “evilness” was to take over a tank on a major highway and see if he could get away with it. Yeah, a tank. Good going, buddy! You’re definitely going to last long.

And as everybody knows (and if you couldn’t, just look up-top at the plot-synopsis), Michelle Rodriguez returns to show us her feminist-ways as Litty, the ex-lover of Dom Toretto who is a welcome-back to the franchise. I’ll admit it, when Litty (actually) died in the 4th movie, I didn’t care too much and felt like it was one way to just create more drama that wasn’t needed to begin with, and heck, even once she showed-up in that post-credits scene in the last movie, I didn’t care much neither (except I was pissed as shit). However, seeing Rodriguez back in her comfort-zone, watching as she acts all confused and questionable, while also being able to throw-down with the best of them, made me happy that the gal was back and ready for more fast cars. The explanation they give us for her surviving the death that we all presumed she had is dumb as hell, but I was willing to drop down some of my nitpicks about logic and simple-reasoning with a movie like this. Obviously.

Consensus: For those who find these movies as stupid and idiotic as ever, may be a bit pleased with what they see in Fast & Furious 6 because it keeps the energy and momentum going at a fine pace, without ever really diving into melodramatic-theatrics or plot-points that don’t matter. It’s just a fun ride from beginning-to-end, and rarely ever loses you, no matter how smart or dumb you are.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's NOT Henry Cavil.

Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s NOT Henry Cavil.

Fast Five (2011)

Everything you would expect from a car-racing movie: except for the cars.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are back together again but this time, are hiding out in Rio de Janerio after breaking out of prison. However, they still want to pull off that one, last heist before they head-out into the sunset forever. Problem is, they got one man standing in their way: a tough, and rough federal agent, played by Dwayne “Don’t Call Me Rock” Johnson. It’s everybody’s favorite group of illegal street-racers, versus the police in a knock-out brawl to the end to see who can get the money, who can pull off the job, and who can drive the fastest car.

When you go out to see a Fast and Furious movie, you know you have to expect loudness, cars going “vroooom!”, people skewing out terrible lines, and plenty of moments where men just stare each other down in a deeply sexual, but tense way. It’s what we come to know with this series and so far, it’s been okay considering every one of these movies seem to continue to kick ass at the box-office. Somehow though, they decided that maybe, just maybe, cars aren’t really what’s the most interesting thing for when you do an action movie. Thank the lord for that realization.

Director Justin Lin doesn’t do something that’s by any means ground-breaking, original, or life-changing with his direction, but what he does do is actually inject some energy and fun to a series that quite frankly, needed it in order to it to continue breaking records. In order to broaden up the audience of this flick, they steered (teehee) away more from the whole car-culture aspect of these movies, and made it more of an action/adventure type of movie full of guns, shooting, babes, and heists. In all honesty, it was a great decision because it really keeps the adrenaline going and allows there to be more exciting action scenes, rather than just having two guys go head-to-head in CGI cars.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it's going down.

Meet me on the top of some roof, it’s going down.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any driving in this film, because there is, but there’s not a whole lot to the point of where you feel like the next time you hear a car turn on, you’re going to blow it up yourself. Lin adds just the right amount of car racing fun into this movie, while still allowing all of the craziness of the other action to follow in and quite frankly, kept my eyes on the screen the whole time. Do the scenes defy logic? Totally. Do they look as if they could never, ever happen in a real world we have a little thing called “gravity”? Of course. However, does that make it a whole lot more fun and entertaining to watch? Hell to the yeah! Lin seems like he knows what he’s doing with action scenes and it makes me feel a bit safer knowing he’s taking over the franchise now and not giving it to Ghetto-lover John Singleton. Honestly, why the hell did the guy do that movie?

Despite all of this insane amount of fun action that goes beyond just cars and racing, there’s still a part of this movie that drags and drags on pretty long, too. The opening scene starts things off perfectly and gets you pumped right up, and the ending does the same thing, but there’s a middle-act here that just doesn’t do much with itself other than feature a bunch of people talking about what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do with it their heist. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t action every little bit here and there, but for the most part, it seems like they may have ran out of money or just edited out one big action sequence, and saved up all of their time for the last 20 minutes. Not to say that’s a terrible thing, but it did have me yawn every once and awhile, something I would not be expecting from a big movie that is in fact named after fast-ass cars.

But since this movie is from the same franchise that gave us Cole Hauser as an evil kingpin, you have to expect this film to not really be the intensely smart and witty script we’d want with something of the same nature like a Tarantino or Kevin Smith movie. However, you don’t also want it to be this bad. There’s cheap one-liners here that are unintentionally hilarious, characters who come out to say something stupid and meaningless to the plot or certain situation they are in, and melodrama that’s supposed to really enhance the tension and emotional-factor for this story, but just feels like a cheat to tack-on more time the audience has to spend with these characters. It just goes to show you that sometimes parents don’t need to get on their young kids’ cases about not having jobs, because they can always apply for a screen-writing job for these Fast and Furious movies. Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

But where the fun and charm really lies within this flick is the fact it has the whole gang back (with the exception of Michelle Rodriguez, who is supposed to be dead!!!!), and they are all fun to watch. Vin Diesel does his usual stoic, scary-looking big guy act as Dom Toretto and can practically play the role in his sleep. Actually, sometimes it seems like he is doing just that but it doesn’t matter because the guy can still nail the same notes with this role, as he can with any other piece of shit script that gets tossed right at him. Paul Walker is also here making all of that cash money flow from his pockets by appearing in another one of these movies, when in all honesty: he does barely anything for them. The guy that stands in the background and always has to look serious just for the sake that his character is so damn stern and compelled by what is happening. If there is anything I have to give the guy, it’s the fact that he is quite the natural at it, almost as much as I am a natural at winning pong while I’m drunk. It happens, I forget about it the next day, and live my life. That’s about it in a nutshell.

"Hey, we said no head-starts!"

“Hey, we said no head-starts!”

Also, the side characters that you may, or may not, remember from those other flicks are here to just do their thang and have fun. It’s fine to watch them as they all fight with one another, give their own two cents on what the next best plan would be, and whether or not they should drive fast cars. It’s all stupid and unneeded, but hey; at least it’s fun to see old friendships reconvene, and new ones be formed right in front of your own very eyes. It’s sort of like my Sweet 16, without all of the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs in the background. No, I was not the DJ, for the record.

Even though everybody’s pretty good with what they’re given, the one who really stands out the most is probably Dwayne Johnson as the angry, federal agent that just wants to take these racing-mofos down. As soon as Johnson pops up into the movie, you can tell the guy is ready to do some business and he gives that type of serious, tough-guy role that made him so popular in the first place with wrestling fans all-over-the-world. He’s dead-on serious with all of his lines, but it isn’t distracting in the least bit and somehow works to his, as well as the rest of the movie’s advantage by giving us a real dude that seems like he could actually take down each and every one of these illegal-racing bandits. Another side you could take on his performance, is that it’s pretty surprising how it shows us that maybe this guy isn’t going to be one of those crooked cops we always see in movies like this, and actually just does his job because it’s what he feels is right. Maybe I’m looking a bit too deep into this obvious character, but I know one thing that’s for sure: Johnson kicks some ass with this role and I look forward to seeing him take this role on longer and longer as this franchise goes into it’s 100th movie in the year 2099. Yes, it most likely will go on that long, as you can see by what’s coming out this Friday and what’s already being discussed. Everybody will be quite fast, and furious, even until the day they day. Even when cars are practically extinct for cool gizmos like this.

Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream.

Consensus: Stupid, loud, and terribly-written, Fast Five is exactly what you would expect from a movie in this franchise, but it’s still fun, entertaining, filled with life, energy, and a bunch of charming performances that makes this the best offering of this whole franchise.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be "ok'd" by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Think about it, this was one of the last movies to be “ok’d” by Apple for advertisement, when Steve Jobs was still alive. Yup, my way of ending on a downer.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

John McClane may not be able to utter his famous-line with the MPAA on his ass, but at least he can still kick some, right? Should have just hired me for the advertising.

Famed New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) returns to action in trying to save the world from terrorists once again. However, what makes these terrorists so different and so much more difficult to deal with, is that they deal with state-of-the-art techonology and are lead by a man who knows exactly what the hell he’s doing when it comes to taking over the world and all of it’s pride and joy. That’s where McClane’s new buddy (Justin Long) comes in to try and help him with this computer-shit that John McClane doesn’t need to take down the baddies.

For all of you people out there who have been longing for the days of when action movies came to theaters and did nothing else but provide plenty of guns, bullets, fights, and killings, all in a natural, special-effects free way; then most of you were probably happy to see John McClane back in action after almost a decade of being gone for so long. However, the idea of a 52-year old man saving the day and taking down a group of terrorists does seem a little unbelievable, right? Oh wait, it’s Bruce Willis. Never mind, it’s totally believable now.

If you’re reading this right now and haven’t seen the original, 1988 action-classic Die Hard, then you, my friend, need to get out of that muthatruckin’ seat and check it out because you are really missing out on something for your life. It’s a classic that will forever, and ever stand the tests of time and that’s all thanks to the fact that it was an old-school action movie, back in the times when they were more simpler and kinder to the people who ventured-out to go and see them. See, what made the original Die Hard such a great movie was that it not only had a bunch of stuff blowing up, people getting killed, and cool-ass lines coming from the mouth of Mr. Willis, but it also had a bunch of interesting characters in it and kept us worried and scared for them all, as their lives were single-handedly hanging in the balance from these crazy, but smart Ruskies. But as usually what happens with most franchises that are a bit too big for their britches,  sequels come-around and forget about all of the substance. Instead it’s all about style and all that there is left at the handles is a bunch of non-stop action, shootings, guns, countless people getting killed, and once again, stuff blowing up. That’s all fun and all, but with our Die Hard movies, we need a little something to hold onto and I think that’s exactly the memo director Len Wiseman got here, because he brings this series way back to what it was before: fun, entertaining, joyful, and an always exciting action movie.

Leave it to John McClane to say a big old "Fuck You" to text messaging, and stick straight to walkie-talkies. Oh. He has to use them because the plot needs him to so he doesn't get tracked by the villains? Well, it's still old-school!

Leave it to John McClane to say a big old “Fuck You” to text messaging, and stick straight to walkie-talkies. Oh. He has to use them because the plot needs him to so he doesn’t get tracked by the villains? Well, it’s still old-school!

Wiseman doesn’t really break the action-mold with this movie and doesn’t necessarily do anything that could be considered ground-breaking in the least bit, but that’s all fine and dandy because the guy knows how to make one entertaining action-sequence, after another. Watching McClane get out of these sticky-situations that he always finds himself getting wrapped-up in, definitely kept my interest and even had me a bit tense by wondering if he was going to make it out alive or not. I know it’s pretty obvious that the guy was going to survive it all but at that moment in time, when McClane was stuck in a situation that it didn’t seem like he was going to be able to get out of alive, I didn’t feel it and instead, just felt a bit of suspense in the palm of my fingers. Solid job by Wiseman, on his part.

Even better is that the movie never stops hitting us with the action, and even reminded me a bit of the old-school action movies of the 80’s/90’s, that were all natural and had little to do with special-effects or computers or anything that would be considered “new-school” like that. It sticks to the basics and it brings back all of my old-school, VHS days. However, that’s a reason why this movie was pretty cool in other ways, because we got to see what they did with this age-old premise, set it in present-day America, and giving McClane some technological-difficulties to step in front of his way and make his mission a whole lot harder. That was a pretty neat-use of the setting an definitely made this flick a bit more twisty and twervy with where it went and how. Then again, we all know how the story ends, but when all of the crazy action is going on, you sort of forget about that and just enjoy the scenery.

With all of this action coming at you left-and-right, you have to wonder if there is any time to actually slow-down at all and the answer to that is: well, not really. Wiseman seemed like he spent so much goddamn time on the action, the explosive, and the shootings, that whenever it came right down to showing McClane as a human-being once again, he sort of shies away from that and goes right back to McClane beating the crap out of people once again. In a way, it’s not so bad considering it’s what we all know and love McClane for in the first-place, but one of the main reasons why we loved him so damn much in the first-place is because he was a human, just like you or me. I missed that aspect of the character again, and I wish Wiseman got his hand out of the CGI cookie jar and actually allowed there to be some down-time for McClane to just tell us more about him and what he’s been up to. I mean it has been almost 10 freakin’ years! The least we could find-out is what the hell’s taken him so long to be away from the limelight!

And even once they do go back to the action-scenes, a lot of them will really have you laugh your ass off. And not in the fun or exciting way either. The dumb way, is more like it. Whenever I go out to see one of these action movies, I always know to leave my brain at the door and not worry about what makes sense and what doesn’t, but there does come a point in this movie where I just couldn’t handle it anymore. There’s a whole sequence with McClane riding on top of a flying-jet, that is in the air and then, all of a sudden, he jumps from it, lands on a slant, slides down the highway, and comes back with a couple of scratches here and there and continues on with his adventure as if he didn’t just stay on-top of a flying, fuckin’ jet just about 5 seconds ago. Now, I get it: McClane is an action-hero and those types of characters are usually allowed to pull-off insane, inhumane stunts such as ones like these, no matter how stupid or incomprehensible. However, the guys a frickin’ cop from NYC, not Clark Kent! After awhile, all of the preposterous and ridiculous action-sequences in this movie bean to take a toll on me and I lost my believe-ability in all of this, but then again, it is an action-movie so I guess there shouldn’t be too much of that going-around anyway.

Meet the hottest girl you will never, ever get a chance to sleep with.

Meet the hottest girl you will never, ever get a chance to sleep with.

Even though he does still pull off all of these crazy stunts, Bruce Willis never, ever seems to disappoint and is still the man as John McClane. Willis has a knack for always showing showing why he’s the man for any job and John McClane, is the job he was meant for and you can see why that is, even if the guy is pushing 52, around this time. Still, age isn’t a matter for John McClane! McClane is a fun-loving, tough son-of-a-bitch that spits out hilarious one-liners like nobody’s business and the whole old-man look that Willis has, doesn’t really get in the way of what we think he can and cannot do. Willis seemed like he had a hell of a lot of fun playing McClane once again, and I think that the guy’s going to be playing this role for a couple more movies now, that is, until he hits age 100 and is still dodging bullets. Hey, if anybody can do it, it’s Bruce Willis, that’s for damn sure, so don’t worry, he’ll always get my ticket!

Justin Long is the geek-hacker that McClane accidentally picks up but realizes he can use him to his advantage and come to beat these villains the way he wants to. I’ve always dug Long in anything that he’s done and it’s great to see his charm and wit be put to good use, even if he is a bit of nerd and clashes with McClane’s old-school style a bit much. Then again, it provided many of yucks for me so I can’t complain too much about the butting-of-the-heads between the two. Timothy Olyphant is alright as the main villain that stands in McClane’s way, but in a way, seems very miscast as well. Olyphant definitely tries to come off as the weird, off-kilter dude that’s only out to get the U.S. and all of the money it has, but instead, seems a bit like he’s forcing it too hard and is maybe a tad too good-looking for a role that should be played by some creep who hasn’t seen the light of day. You know, a creepy and nerdy cat like Kevin Smith who actually shows up here in a cameo as the geek-of-all-geeks: the Warlock. That’s all you need to know about the dude’s role because the bigger surprise, the better, even though the opening-credits sort of spoil it for ya. Thanks!

Consensus: It is essentially your typical, ridiculous action movie that makes little to no sense about what happens and why, but Live Free or Die Hard is more than just that. It’s an old-school action movie that is able to provide us all with plenty of fun, exciting action set-pieces, and a return-to-form for Willis as John McClane, a role that he will never, ever live down and I think he’s fine with that. As are we.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Should have just gone bald, or been gay, or sold drugs, or even been all of them combined. Now that's a real villain of epic-proportions!

Should have just gone bald. Or been gay. Or sold drugs. Or even been all of them combined. Now that would have made a real Die Hard villain!