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The Most Undiscovered Movies On Netflix


Wes Anderson Alfonso Cuaron Jamie Uys Stephen Dorff Antoine Fuqua Chow Yun-Fat Macaulay Culkin Diego Luna Gael Garcia Bernal

Most films on the lower rungs of Netflix occupy that position for a single reason: they’re downright terrible. The acting is at best laughable and at worst cringe-worthy, whilst the script seems to be the product of baboons who possess a slightly above average intelligence. Elsewhere, the special effects are seemingly artefacts from design software that became obsolete once Windows 98 was released and the goofs and continuity errors come thick and fast. But amongst the schlock, the horribly ill-conceived box office flops and throwaway Chuck Norris vehicles are a selection of films hardly deserving of their placement amongst the vast expanse of Hollywood detritus. We’ve all sifted through the lower echelons of the vast Netflix database, ambivalently scrolling past Beverly Hills Ninja and Death Wish 4 and laughing at the hilarity of shoe-string budget horror C-movies such as Return Of The Killer Tomatoes and Strippers Vs Werewolves. Hiding amongst the most forgettable and artistically hollow filmic endeavours are some criminally overlooked works of cinematic art. Here is a selection of filmic diamonds who have unfairly found themselves confined to the Netflix motion picture ghetto:

Rebellion

Rebellion (2011), Director: Matheiu Kossovitz

Continue reading: The Most Undiscovered Movies On Netflix

Dragonball Evolution Review


Terrible
As a director, James Wong has made some interesting films. He was part of the original X-Files team and cut his teeth on the Chris Carter serial killer series Millennium before heading up such genre favorites as Final Destination and The One. Now, he's been burdened with bringing one of manga's most popular titles and characters to life. Already an incredibly popular anime series, Dragonball is a dense, complex universe consisting of 519 individual chapters and more than 42 volumes. Naturally, any movie made of this material would have to concentrate on a single storyline -- in this case, the "Z" mythos. Alas, anyone hoping that Wong could keep this very Asian entry from being "westernized" by Hollywood was sadly mistaken. Instead of something new and unique, we have just another dull teen action film.

On his 18th birthday, Goku (Justin Chatwin) is given a sacred dragonball by his grandfather. Told that with the other orbs in the set, a single perfect wish will be granted, a tragedy sends our hero out to find Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat), an old family friend who is the key to unlocking the object's secrets. Along the way, Goku picks up Bulma Briefs (Emmy Rossum), who agrees to help him. With Roshi and desert bandit Yamcha (Joon Park) in tow, he prepares to take on alien invader Piccolo (James Marsters), who along with his assistant Mai (Eriko Tamura) is bent on summoning the dragon Shen Long and ruling the Earth. As the impending solar eclipse signals the moment of reckoning, our group must train to overcome centuries of evil and transform into the ultimate fighting force in the universe.

Continue reading: Dragonball Evolution Review

The Children Of Huang Shi Review


Terrible
Roger Spottiswoode's limp The Children of Huang Shi sounds, looks, and feels like a chapter torn from a dusty history textbook that was relevant somewhere in the mid-1960s. Every revelation feels like a lesson being thrust upon the viewer, every character a simple metaphor for their nationality's opinion toward (and hand in) the Japanese occupation of China that culminated in the Rape of Nanking in the winter of 1937. Here, the Chinese were honorable soldiers from a conflicted country, the Japanese were buffoonish barbarians who still took their shirt off before they decapitated people, the British were naive and in way over their heads, and the Americans just wanted to get married.

As the film's pre-script enlightens us, Children follows the life of George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Davies), a British journalist who steals the identity of a Red Cross worker to sneak into Nanking and get the story and the pictures of the massacres. After being captured, he almost meets the business-end of Tokyo steel before Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat, not having fun with a mostly-American dialect), a resistance fighter, saves him from the blade. Hansheng sends Hogg off to the titular village, which serves as a sort of city for lost children, held in check by Dr. Pearson (Radha Mitchell), an actual Red Cross medic.

Continue reading: The Children Of Huang Shi Review

Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End Review


OK
An honest-to-God, brawling, hooting, big ball of popcorn spectacle of a movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End fully embraces its ludicrous sense of summer season overkill without succumbing to the bloated tedium that afflicted its disappointing predecessor Dead Man's Chest. Clocking in at just under three hours, it's definitely longer than necessary, but given the number of unresolved plot strands that the last film left strewn about like so much tangled rigging, it's actually amazing the filmmakers are able to tie everything up quite as nicely as they do.

Starting with its unlikely origin as an amusement park ride, the Pirates series quickly mushroomed into a sort of meta-pirate film, a vast and whirligig universe unto itself that drew in every possible nautical cliché and legend possible. Thus the first film concentrated on yo-ho-ho-ing, rum-drinking, and general pirate-y scalawaggery. The second roped in Davy Jones and The Flying Dutchman -- not to mention an excess of secondary characters and familial drama. For the third (but not necessarily last, given the teaser it ends with) entry, the bursting-at-the-seams script tosses in a raging maelstrom, an actual trip to Davy Jones' Locker, and even the sea goddess Calypso. Dead Man's Chest showed that more is not always better, with excess just leading to more excess and a general sense of lethargy -- they were just setting us up for the conclusion and marking time until then. At World's End, however, shows that Hollywood excess, when combined with the right combination of actors and an occasionally smart script, can work out quite nicely, thank you very much.

Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End Review

Curse Of The Golden Flower Review


Weak
A pageantry of pageantry that would put Bertolucci or Lean to shame, Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower piles spectacle upon spectacle, and tragedy on top of tragedy, until the whole contraption fairly disintegrates under the fervid weight of it all. Normally this wouldn't really be an issue, as late period Yimou films like House of Flying Daggers and Hero have been perfectly acceptable as period-piece baubles, rife with dynamic wuxia action sequences and dashing costumes -- things that Golden Flower has in abundance. While packed with emotion, those earlier films could certainly be enjoyed on surface detail alone, but there was still some heft to them; one doesn't buy for a second that Zhang Ziyi could fight like that without some help from gravity-defying wires, but the films were still able to dance that line between escapism and drama without leaving either behind. But Golden Flower can't dance.

Set in a royal court during the 10th century Tang dynasty, Golden Flower starts in and spends most of its time inside those same palace walls; which at first doesn't seem like a bad place to be. The place is a bejeweled rainbow of color, splashed with sunlight that sparkles off the golds, reds, and greens, and the camera greedily prowls its corridors looking for fresh spectacle. Yimou starts off with a feverishly choreographed ballet of servitude as hundreds of courtiers ready themselves in synchronized grace for the arrival of the long-traveling Emperor Ping (Chow Yun-Fat, regally villainous). His three princes await him, each curious about how and if he is going to divide up power between them, as his health seems to be in decline.

Continue reading: Curse Of The Golden Flower Review

Curse Of The Golden Flower Review


Weak
A pageantry of pageantry that would put Bertolucci or Lean to shame, Zhang Yimou's The Curse of the Golden Flower piles spectacle upon spectacle, and tragedy on top of tragedy, until the whole contraption fairly disintegrates under the fervid weight of it all. Normally this wouldn't really be an issue, as late period Yimou films like House of Flying Daggers and Hero have been perfectly acceptable as period-piece baubles, rife with dynamic wuxia action sequences and dashing costumes -- things that Golden Flower has in abundance. While packed with emotion, those earlier films could certainly be enjoyed on surface detail alone, but there was still some heft to them; one doesn't buy for a second that Zhang Ziyi could fight like that without some help from gravity-defying wires, but the films were still able to dance that line between escapism and drama without leaving either behind. But Golden Flower can't dance.

Set in a royal court during the 10th century Tang dynasty, Golden Flower starts in and spends most of its time inside those same palace walls; which at first doesn't seem like a bad place to be. The place is a bejeweled rainbow of color, splashed with sunlight that sparkles off the golds, reds, and greens, and the camera greedily prowls its corridors looking for fresh spectacle. Yimou starts off with a feverishly choreographed ballet of servitude as hundreds of courtiers ready themselves in synchronized grace for the arrival of the long-traveling Emperor Ping (Chow Yun-Fat, regally villainous). His three princes await him, each curious about how and if he is going to divide up power between them, as his health seems to be in decline.

Continue reading: Curse Of The Golden Flower Review

City On Fire Review


OK
Quentin Tarantino gives a big shout-out to City of Fire with Reservoir Dogs, a reinterpretation/extension/Americanization of the last 15 minutes of the film. And while City of Fire has a killer ending indeed, the guts of the film are so-so at best.

Chow Yun-Fat stars as an undercover cop who infiltrates a jewelry crime ring but develops a friendship with one of the criminals while arousing genuine suspicion in the police force. This is a lot clearer in retrospect than while watching the film -- the whole affair being confusing and poorly explained.

Continue reading: City On Fire Review

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Review


Excellent
If you thought the only real place for gravity-defying fight scenes was The Matrix, think again. One of today's most diverse directors, Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm), has not only found the perfect venue for such combat - the classic samurai movie - but has injected his action with poetry and meaning. In Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, stars like Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh gracefully zip through the air in this breathtaking Chinese fable about love, loyalty, and destiny.

It's tough not to get a kick out of this operatic movie. There's fateful romance, legendary themes of honor and determination, strong heroines, and, oh yeah, that butt-kicking action.

Continue reading: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Review

A Better Tomorrow Review


Grim
John Woo's ode to slow-motion blood splatters has earned raves from his adoring fans, but this tale of two brothers -- one good, one bad -- certainly has some much better contemporaries. Chow Yun-Fat and Leslie Cheung are mildly memorable in the aforementioned roles (one's a counterfeiter, the other is a cop on his trail), but Woo's penchant for slo-mo violence as a means of getting from one scene to the next wears thin after about 25 minutes. An atrocious dubbing job doesn't help (though subtitled versions do exist), and the dated 80s plot line makes things all the worse.

Die-hard fans of Chow and Woo will find plenty to like, but frankly, I'll take the overblown theatrics of Suture instead, when it comes to a warring brothers flick.

Continue reading: A Better Tomorrow Review

The Replacement Killers Review


OK
Antoine Fuqua tries to blend Hong Kong action fare with gritty urban sensibilities in The Replacement Killers, to mixed effect. Surprisingly, Mira Sorvino holds her own as an unlikely action star, and the shots of her ass don't hurt matters.

Anna And The King Review


OK
Anna and the King of Rock and Roll...

My theory is that every generation needs their own version of the film The King and I. Namely a new king. My grandparents had Rex Harrison, my parents had Yul Brynner, and now my generation has Chow Yun-Fat. Hold the phone right there, mister. Chow Yun-Fat... isn't he that the guy from those crazy, violent, Hong Kong action movies by John Woo? Fear not, kind reader, for Chow Yun-Fat commands the role made famous for all these years and gives both Harrison and Brynner a run for their money.

Continue reading: Anna And The King Review

Bulletproof Monk Review


Good
Thank God for late April. Tax refunds, nice warm weather, and all of the movies that weren't quite good enough to come out in May show up in theatres. They're not fine art and they're not summer blockbusters, but at least they're not House of 1000 Corpses. Yeah, tax day seems to be the crossover point between the god-awful movies of winter and early spring and the decent cinema of summer.

Case in point is Bulletproof Monk. It's not an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, it's not laugh out loud funny, but it sure as hell ain't bad.

Continue reading: Bulletproof Monk Review

Hard Boiled Review


Excellent
Way back when, before John Woo was making shoot-em-ups Stateside, before Hong Kong became property of China once again, and before Chow Yun-Fat tried to prove to the world that he knows how to speak English with the boring The Replacement Killers, we were granted a really cool cult-classic action flick named Hard Boiled.

This flick, probably one of the most violent and definitely one of the most tense action flicks ever done, concerns Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat), a haunted superman of a cop who hangs out at a Jazz bar (run by John Woo) by night and guns down gun runners by day. Like every good guy in John Woo flicks, Tequila is untouchable. Early on, the superintendent of the CID says "Give him one gun, and he's superman, give him two, and he's God." Tequila's girlfriend, Teresa (Teresa Mo) is getting white roses (a motif that shows up later in the "Once a Thief" series) that contain encoded messages from an informant in the triads. This informant, Tony (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) faces the facts that he is beginning to forget whether he is a cop or a gangster.... And all of that is before his world begins to get very confusing.

Continue reading: Hard Boiled Review

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