Uncle Jasper reviews: 3 Dev Adam (1973)

3 Dev Adam (1973)
AKA Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man, Three Giant Men

Starring Aytekin Akkaya, Deniz Erkanat, Yavuz Selekman, Teyfik Sen, Dogan Tamer, Mine Sun, Altan Gunbay

Directed By T. Fikret Uçak


It’s about time I stopped dicking around here at Silver Emulsion. Five months in and I still ask myself why I waste away lonely nights writing about cinema’s bottom-fed rejects. Oh no, not this time folks. This is a respectable medium and I intend to present it as such. It’s high-time to bring some dignity up here in this bitch, which is why I am throwing down the gauntlet and finally earning my keep as a respectable film critic with my long-awaited review of Ingmar Bergman’s contemplative study of emptiness in old age, Wild Strawberries. T. Fikret Uçak’s unauthorized Turkish superhero / Mexican wrestling mash-up, 3 Dev Adam.

The rules of logic do not seem to apply in the world of Turkish cinema. Neither do the laws of copyright holders, I guess. The only thing intellectual about the intellectual property in these films is how many long-protected trademarks you can shamelessly cram into 80 minutes of celluloid in order to put asses in theater seats. Some of you may be familiar with the infamous Turkish Star Wars, a film that had no problem sandwiching sections of douchebag-extraordinaire George Lucas’s space-epic in between lo-fi shots of old Turkish guys punching rocks out in the desert.

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Mini-Review: Dark Nature (2009)

Starring Imogen Toner, Niall Greig Fulton, James Bryce, Vanya Eadie, Joanna Miller, Jane Stabler, Tom Carter

Directed by Marc de Launay

Expectations: Low.


I should have listened. Before watching Dark Nature, I read numerous impressions of the film, trying to see if I should bother with it. Every single one I found was negative. I decided to watch it anyway simply on the basis that it was distributed in America by site-favorite Troma Entertainment. If they’re endorsing it, it has to have some redeeming value for their fans, right? Not the case actually, as the film is almost completely devoid of anything that would set it apart as a film that Troma should release.

The film opens with a lot of promise. A quick prologue shows a man murder his wife, then after showering, he is murdered himself by an unseen assailant. This leads to a very well-shot credits sequence featuring time-lapse and beautifully composed shots of windmills and countryside. It’s a bit slow, but it’s done so well that it gives the impression that the rest of the film will pay off for a patient viewer. Unfortunately, it never does. None of the characters demand attention, as they are all boring and too standard to be worth caring about. As you would expect they are slowly killed off, but even these scenes are boring as there’s very little gore or suspense to get excited about. Overall, the film is just so boring, even at only seventy-two minutes. I can’t imagine too many people extracting much enjoyment from this film. Definitely one to avoid. It is an unfortunate blemish on Troma’s otherwise pleasing track record.

Uncle Jasper reviews: Ten Tigers of Shaolin (1978)

Ten Tigers of Shaolin [少林十虎] (1978)

Starring Bruce Leung, Jason Pai Piao, Lau Hok-Nin, Han Kwok-Choi, Larry Lee Gam-Kwan, Michelle Yim, Wong Yuen-San, San Kuai, Charlie Chan Yiu-Lam, Kong Do

Directed by Ngai Hoi-Fung


Still reeling from the high of Gallants, I felt inspired enough to take a look at another of Bruce Leung’s earlier films. Ten Tigers of Shaolin tells a fictional tale involving the legendary real life kung fu superteam, The Ten Tigers of Kwangtung. Many fans may already be familiar with the Shaw Brothers film depicting their legendary heroics, titled — well, Ten Tigers of Kwangtung. Despite the latter being the more polished film, I felt it to be needlessly confusing and bogged down by unnecessary plot twists which only seemed to slow the film’s pacing down to a crawl at times. The super low-budget Ten Tigers of Shaolin however takes a refreshingly different approach. Like many of its 1970s independent-studio-produced brethren, TToS uses a simple, hashed-together plot as an excuse to showcase an absolute shit-rain of kung fu fights. Most of which are actually pretty good.

At first I thought this was going to be a Wong Fei-Hung film since the movie opens with the iconic theme music, which is also sprinkled pretty liberally throughout. It was only after I heard a couple of choice selections from John Williams’ Close Encounters of the Third Kind soundtrack in this film that I quickly realized that this is just another one of those old kung fu movies that throw pretty much any random piece of movie music into the mix, copyright rules be damned.

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The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Starring Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Andy Devine, Robert Easton, Douglas Dick, Tim Durant

Directed by John Huston

Expectations: Moderate. It will be interesting to see how the Civil War is portrayed in a 1950s film.


[Note: This is another review I did for my History class, in slightly edited form.]

John Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage is not your typical war film. It’s more detached from the battles than standard entries into the genre, choosing to focus on the emotional makeup of one company of soldiers, and specifically the youth Henry Fleming (Audie Murphy). Murphy was a highly decorated soldier during World War II so he was no stranger to the nature of war. He plays the role of the scared, worried Army private very well, communicating the fear that any young man must face in the heat of battle.

The film’s tone is very contemplative and features readings from the source novel as narration to drive the story forward and connect the viewers with the struggles of this young man. Huston chooses to shoot many dialogue scenes using low angles which might show how the character is powerful in another film, but here it shows how Fleming wrestles furiously with his feelings. In one particular scene, Fleming meets up with a wounded squad mate who inexplicably runs to the top of a hill. Fleming chases after and when he catches him, the wounded man speaks incoherently while they are both framed from a low angle. The nobility of the wounded man confronts Fleming in these low angle shots. He cannot turn away from the imminent death of the comrade he deserted, his mind filled with the crushing regret and shame of his actions. He longs for “the red badge of courage,” a wound that would prove he was the man he wanted to be.

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Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994)

Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994)
AKA Trancers 4: Journeys Through the Darkzone, Future Cop IV: Jack of Swords

Starring Tim Thomerson, Stacie Randall, Ty Miller, Teri Ivens, Mark Arnold, Clabe Hartley, Alan Oppenheimer, Lochlyn Munro, Jeff Moldovan, Stephen Macht

Directed by David Nutter

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:
twohalfstar


Trancers 4 dispenses with most of the series conventions you’re familiar with and places Jack Deth in an entirely new setting, a medieval, Robin Hood-style era of all things. Surprisingly, it works well and makes Trancers 4 very enjoyable for fans of the series. Jack has become the true definition of a time cop, wiping out disturbances as they come up, jumping back in time and killing them at their source. Through narration we learn that Jack actually wiped out all of the Trancers throughout time, so he’s busy helping out with other problems such as Jack’s recently completed mission to kill the Solenoids, a race of vicious plant creatures. Soon, Jack is given another mission, but a Solenoid stowaway jumps him and the timepod rockets off-course. This Solenoid looks great and it’s a shame he only gets a minute or so of screen time.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Santo vs. the Martian Invasion (1967)

Santo vs. the Martian Invasion [Santo vs. La Invasión de los Marcianos] (1967)

Starring Santo, Wolf Ruvinskis, El Nazi, Beny Galán, Ham Lee, Eduardo Bonada, Antonio Montoro, Maura Monti, Eva Norvind, Belinda Corel, Manuel Zozaya

Directed By Alfredo B. Crevenna


It’s been a few months since we last followed our pal Santo, The Man in the Silver Mask on another lucha libre fightin’, convertible cruisin’ adventure down those mean streets of Mexico. While Santo vs. the Martian Invasion doesn’t reach the bizarre, hair-raising spectacle of Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters, it comes pretty damn close. It is fairly faithful to the traditional formula as far as these films go, with its steady stream of ambushes and ridiculous scenarios to coax the bad guys into the ring. But this is Santo we’re dealing with here, and you probably wouldn’t be interested if things were any different.

The Martian invasion of the film’s title isn’t so much an invasion as it is a loose get-together. The Invaders are a paltry group of four shirtless guys decked out in silver capes and screaming-blonde Fabio wigs and four curvy Latina sex-bombs in matching silver corsages. Driven by their extraterrestrial Marxist agenda and out of fear of mankind’s tinkering with the atomic bomb they sabotage prime-time television and broadcast their commands for human beings to make peace with one another, or face a sudden, mass disintegration by the Astral Eye.

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Mini-Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Extremely low.


I normally would have avoided this but for some unexplained reason I decided to give it a go. I’m a fan of the original Alice story and I was curious to see how Tim Burton would film it, but the ridiculous amount of CG told me to steer clear. Burton’s later work for me has been fairly hit or miss, so I didn’t go into this with any expectations that I would enjoy this at any meaningful level. Like many things that your intuition tells you to avoid, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is definitely one to go into treading lightly.

I was intrigued quite a bit by the opening 40 minutes or so. It was paced well and it was interesting to see how the older Alice reacted to the various things in Wonderland. The CG work is actually pretty good and lends the film an animated quality. That’s not to say that it isn’t excessive though. Virtually everything in the film is CG, including the horses that characters ride upon. Surprisingly the computer imagery is not my main beef with the film though. It’s Burton’s complete lack of emotion or energy with this film. If there’s ever been a guy that needs to take a few years off and reconnect with his passion, it’s Burton and this should be Exhibit A. It’s lifeless and the plethora of CG doesn’t help. No thanks.

Oh, and it has what is probably Danny Elfman’s most tired, boring, passionless score as well. Maybe they were going for passionless as a motif?

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