James Wong

James Wong

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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

Willard Review


OK
A pallid complexion, stuttered speech pattern, and naturally creepy persona have prevented Crispin Glover from achieving leading man status over the course of his 20-year career. Best known as George McFly from Back to the Future, Glover's main challenge lies in finding the right role for his unmistakable screen presence.

One such role is Willard, an introverted loner who discovers an innate ability to control rats. When the original Willard was released in 1971 with Bruce Davison in the title role, Glover was seven years old and probably horrifying a helpless babysitter. Thirty-two years later, with this remake from director Glen Morgan, the actor finally sinks his teeth into the role of his lifetime.

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Final Destination 3 Review


Unbearable
Just from the marketing you can tell Final Destination 3 is scraping the bottom of the film franchise barrel. With a tagline like "This ride will be the death of you" you can almost hear the cheesy jokes coming. And with a poster that looks it's shilling for Cedar Point, you get a glimpse of the misguided campiness of the movie.

With Final Destination 3, first impressions are good impressions.

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The One (2001) Review


Weak
Jet Li has joined the dubious ranks of those martial arts stars playing opposite themselves in a film -- including Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme. But instead of playing a long-lost twin brother to himself as in the other films, Li's actually himself squared -- another version of Jet from a different parallel "universe." That's right: Only Jet Li can kick Jet Li's ass.

James Wong and Glen Morgan, the guys who brought us the cheesy but mildly entertaining Final Destination (as well as the wonderfully gruesome X-Files episode "Home"), flex their sci-fi/kung fu action muscles with The One. With Jet Li on board, the action side is in great shape. Unfortunately, they come up pretty emaciated on the sci-fi front.

Continue reading: The One (2001) Review

The One Review


Weak
Jet Li has joined the dubious ranks of those martial arts stars playing opposite themselves in a film -- including Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme. But instead of playing a long-lost twin brother to himself as in the other films, Li's actually himself squared -- another version of Jet from a different parallel "universe." That's right: Only Jet Li can kick Jet Li's ass.

James Wong and Glen Morgan, the guys who brought us the cheesy but mildly entertaining Final Destination (as well as the wonderfully gruesome X-Files episode "Home"), flex their sci-fi/kung fu action muscles with The One. With Jet Li on board, the action side is in great shape. Unfortunately, they come up pretty emaciated on the sci-fi front.

Continue reading: The One Review

Final Destination Review


Weak
"I'm never going to die!" yells one character at a memorial for 39 fellow French-class students who died in a plane crash that, by all rights, he should have died on too. As incredibly laughable as this line is, it provides the big flaw in the basic premise behind Final Destination... making a horror movie about people cheating death does not have much potential. Since you can't kill Death, destroy Death, or send Death screaming back to its home planet, you have a no-win scenario in front of you. No matter what is said or done, everyone ends up getting it.

This is not to give you a spoiler and to say that everyone gets it in the movie. This is simply to point out the fact that no matter which way they go, they're screwed. Death is a no-win scenario. If you're going to make a movie about escaping death, make it a la Fearless, where we focus on the human element. But since it's a horror film the ball is in the court of Director James Wong to provide us with something that will keep us interested for an hour and forty minutes of inevitability.

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Iron Monkey Review


Excellent
The American action film has been slowly drowning to death in a sea of Asian wire-fu copycats. It's not a pretty death, and it's leaving the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Van Damme wearing cement galoshes at the bottom of a kung fu sea.

Sometimes, the mix results in a mind-blowing spectacle unlike any other. Quality action with amazing and exciting stunt work, as in 1999's The Matrix, can be a real gem. But too often Hollywood gets it wrong, even when they pay off Chinese directors. Flying ninjas and floating karate masters have been replaced by soaring Bronx detectives and slow motion kicking scientists. Mostly it's laughable. In Hollywood's rush to emulate the success of The Matrix, trademark Asian stunt choreography has become more of a joke than an art form. But Iron Monkey, the latest Asian import, shows us how to get it right.

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Iron Monkey Review


Good

In a transparent attempt to jump on the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" bandwagon, Miramax has dug up one of the 1990s' very best feudal China kung fu flicks and given it a big budget makeover.

"Iron Monkey" is a "Robin Hood"-like fable about a masked martial artist who wreaks havoc upon a corrupt, oppressive provincial government on behalf of the people. Directed by famed, gravity-shunning fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping ("Crouching Tiger" and "The Matrix" both boast his handiwork), it was first released in 1993.

This re-edited 2001 version features souped-up visual and sound effects (the punches still have that slapstick, kung fu flick ring to them, but it's a Dolby 5.1 slapstick ring), and a new score to bring the final product an up-to-date, rock'em-sock'em energy.

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James Wong

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