Quick Takes: Hardware, Snowpiercer, Brotherhood of Blades

968fullHardware (1990)
threehalfstar

Starring Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch, Mark Northover, William Hootkins, Carl McCoy
Directed by Richard Stanley

I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about Hardware over the years. It’s an ultra-fun killer robot movie that is legitimately frightening in parts, and it’s one of those rare genre films made with such visual flair and artistry that it could easily crossover into the more highbrow conversation on film. Absolutely fantastic cinematography is around every corner, as are tons of wicked gory delights. The robot does seem rather stupid at times, but if I reformed myself from a pile of scrap metal and broken parts I wouldn’t be all there either. This is the kind of movie to whip out when someone says disparaging things about low-budget movies.

snowpiercerSnowpiercer (2013)
twohalfstar

Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Go Ah-sung, Alison Pill
Directed by Bong Joon-ho

After reviewing the Snowpiercer graphic novels, I was really stoked to see what Boon Jong-Ho would make of them on-screen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thrilled with the results as I thought I’d be. Snowpiercer is a very entertaining film that moves quite briskly, but for a story all about class struggle I found it to be rather shallow. Tilda Swinton is brilliant in her supporting role, though. Definitely well-made and worth watching, but I guess I expected something more cerebral than this was. Even still, a great English debut for Bong.

brotherhood-of-blades-posterBrotherhood of Blades [繡春刀] (2014)
twohalfstar

Starring Chang Chen, Ye Qing, Chin Shih-Chieh, Wang Qian-Yuan, Ethan Li Dong-Xue, Nie Yuan, Zhao Li-Xin
Directed by Lu Yang

I think I might like Brotherhood of Blades better on a second watch. I would have my 50% knowledge of what was going on to build on, and I wouldn’t have any expectations that it was a wuxia film. It’s actually a period-set action drama with no supernatural elements, so I was rather disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. As a period drama it excels, though. Fantastic costumes go a long way, and the cast Brotherhood of Blades wear some damn fine duds. The fights aren’t all that special, though, with unhealthy amounts of uninspired choreography, quick-cut editing, and the shutter speed thing from Saving Private Ryan. It makes for action that is VERY modern, and I’m just too old school to embrace it. Yes, even in 2015 when these techniques are at least 15 years old. If you like Chinese costume dramas and modern action, you should definitely try this one.

The Host (2006)

host_ver6_xlgThe Host [괴물, Gwoemul] (2006)

Starring Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona, Go Ah-sung, Lee Jae-eung, Lee Dong-ho, Scott Wilson

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Expectations: Very high.

fourstar


The Host is a monster movie featuring scenes of terror and peril that will give you goosebumps, but to be technical it’s not really a horror film. Not the best review to post on Halloween, but it’s the only one I have so it’ll have to do! So while it’s part monster movie, part action movie & part horror movie, under the surface it’s actually a drama about the nature of family — in this case, a dysfunctional family — and how they deal with the life-threatening, horror-movie circumstances they find themselves in. This might make the film sound like it’s not the type of thing that warrants viewing for a genre fan, but the opposite is true. The Host walks the line between genres exceptionally well, allowing the drama, the horror, as well as lots of comedy and action to work together brilliantly. It combines into one of the finest and most enjoyable monster movies I’ve ever seen.

The Host opens with an Army officer (Scott Wilson, who played Herschel on The Walking Dead) instructing his Korean assistant to dump a whole shit-ton of hazardous chemicals down the drain. The Korean man cautions that these chemicals will go straight into the Han River, most likely causing major damage, but the ruthless American cares nothing for this. So the assistant begins the long task of dumping hundreds of bottles of the stuff down the drain.

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