The Tuxedo (2002)

Starring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare, Mia Cottet, Romany Malco, Daniel Kash, Jody Racicot, Boyd Banks, Cecile Cristobal, James Brown

Directed by Kevin Donovan

Expectations: Super low. I remember hating this.

When I first saw The Tuxedo sometime around its original release, I thought it was the worst Jackie Chan movie I’d ever seen. I don’t remember my specific gripes, but my general distaste for the film has stuck with me ever since. Despite this years-long grudge against The Tuxedo, I started it this time with an open mind. The deer pissing in the stream during the film’s opening didn’t fill me with a lot of hope, but by the time the end credits rolled, I was shocked at just how entertaining the movie had been. It still exhibits many problems that American Jackie films have, but it also delivers something unique and in terms of tone it’s closer to Hong Kong than a traditional Hollywood movie (which really surprised me).

Jackie Chan plays Jimmy Tong, a taxi driver with a confidence problem. He’s in love with a woman who works at an art gallery, but he’s unable to get it together enough to ask her out. He thrives in his element, though, crisscrossing through the streets of New York in his taxi faster than anyone else could even imagine. His skills bag him a job working as a high-paid chauffeur for millionaire playboy/secret agent Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), and unbeknownst to Jackie this will forever change his life. He is soon roped into an international struggle of catastrophic proportions; you might even say that he is an accidental spy! 🙂

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Mama (2013)

mama_1Starring Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat, Morgan McGarry, David Fox, Dominic Cuzzocrea, Christopher Marren

Directed by Andrés Muschietti

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

If I were to judge movies solely on how much they entertained me, then Mama would rank pretty high. Not at the level of a favorite, or even a great experience, but one that simply does its job and delivers the fun supernatural thrills I’m looking for in a ghost story. The plot isn’t all that hard to figure out if you’ve seen any previous ghost story, but the creepy tactics it uses to sell itself were more than enough to win me over. I rarely get scared anymore during these kinds of films, but even after I had turned the lights back on after the movie I was still twisting my head to look behind me, convinced that Mama was there to swallow my soul.

The film opens during the 2008 financial crisis that swept the US, and one man affected by it has snapped. He kills his wife and drives away on icy, dangerous roads with his two young daughters. Their car goes over an embankment, but they survive and seek refuge in an old cabin in the woods. He clearly isn’t a horror movie fan, as you know as well as I do that you should generally turn around if you encounter a creepy old cabin in the middle of nowhere. Ah, but if they did, we wouldn’t have a film! From here, the story goes into an unexpected but fun direction, but I will say no more. In a film that hits a lot of the same notes as many other ghost stories, you need to know the least amount possible so that the film is able to play with all the cards in its deck.

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