Big Wars [Big Wars: Kami utsu akaki kouya ni ビッグ・ウォーズ 神撃つ朱き荒野に] (1993)
Starring Hideyuki Tanaka, Kouji Tsujitani, Isshin Chiba, Yumi Touma
Directed by Issei Kume & Toshifumi Takizawa
Big Wars starts out with a really big wall of text scrolling across the screen. This might have had the benefit of providing an epic feel like Star Wars, except it is much longer and races by much faster, so you can’t read it unless you pause the film. That’s OK though, you don’t really want to read it anyway. It’s pretty drab stuff, and it won’t give you any special insight into the film, so it’s best to just ignore it. Besides, who needs a history lesson when we’ve got flying saucers to shoot down? The opening dogfight is fantastic enough to make you forget all about boring text on the screen.
The war in question is an alien invasion. Humans have colonized Mars, and it looks like some aliens didn’t care too much for that. They shoot lightning bolts and they can brainwash people to be their slaves. But despite the title, Big Wars takes a small-scale look at the war. It focuses on Captain Akuh and his assignment to the super-secret new warship the Aoba. It’s a big mission that could change the course of the war, but we don’t get to see much of the war as a whole. Instead, we’re treated to a lot of spy drama with Akuh’s sexy, and excessively horny, girlfriend in the intelligence department. After all, it’s a pain in the butt to track down those brainwashed terrorists.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Big Wars (1993) →
Patlabor 2: The Movie [機動警察パトレイバー２ Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 2 The Movie] (1993)
AKA Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie
Starring Ryunosuke Ohbayashi, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Daisuke Gouri, Issei Futamata, Jinpachi Nezu, Michihiro Ikemizu, Miina Tominaga, Tomomichi Nishimura
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
This film feels very similar in a lot of ways to the first Patlabor, and to Oshii’s other films as well. A lot of my feelings are the same as I had for the first film. But Patlabor 2 falls short of the first one. It’s a little drier and less ahead of its time, which made me less interested in it.
Its primary flaw is the same as the first film, and something that plagues a lot of the Mamoru Oshii films I have seen. It’s just too slow-moving, and its methodical pacing left me zoning out. I handled the first film well enough because its plot was more intriguing with its focus on computer technology well beyond what I had expected from the time period. Here, however, it just didn’t have a premise that made me sit up and pay attention, and it was a bit predictable as well.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993) →
Starring Jean Claude Van-Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Wilford Brimley, Kasi Lemmons, Arnold Vosloo, Willie C. Carpenter
Directed by John Woo
To the seasoned viewer of early 90s action films there are only two things wrong with Hard Target. One, there are like twenty dudes trying to kill Van Damme at any given moment and Al Leong is not one of them. Two, the painfully obvious musical selection “Born on the Bayou”, which could have made any scene in this film infinitely more awesome, is not played until the end credits. Despite these two obvious flaws, the movie was a pleasant experience to return to since I had last viewed it over 15 years ago.
Hard Target is forever cemented in history as the film that brought John Woo to Hollywood. Language barriers as well as unfamiliarity with the Hollywood system were obvious concerns. The brass over at Universal Pictures were apparently shitting themselves so badly over letting John Woo take the reins of this film that they hired producer Sam Raimi to babysit the production. Woo was working in horrendously stifling conditions, being given only two months to shoot the film, and was relentlessly hounded by studio execs to go easy on the violence, which ironically is the very reason he became such a desired Hollywood import in the first place.
Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Hard Target (1993) →