Vin Diesel makes a bid for yet another franchise with a supernatural action romp that's both deeply ridiculous and enjoyably entertaining. The premise is basically Underworld with witches, and Diesel uses his meathead charm to coast through his role as an immortal warrior. Thankfully, the crazed production design and some solid costars do most of the acting for him. And director Breck Eisner keeps the pace snappy enough to hold the audience's interest, even if we're laughing at it rather than with it.
Diesel plays Kaulder, who in the 13th century killed a nefarious witch queen (Julie Engelbrecht) and was cursed with immortality. Now 800 years later, he's living the high life in Manhattan and leading the Axe and Cross to contain the world's witch population. His assistant is the 36th Dolan (Michael Caine), who has just named the 37th (Elijah Wood) when they're attacked by the mysterious Belial (Olaf Darri Olafsson). He's determined to resurrect the queen and return humanity to the dark ages. So Kaulder sets out to stop him, teaming up with helpful witch Chloe (Rose Leslie), who has some special abilities that aid them as things get increasingly crazed.
Continue reading: The Last Witch Hunter Review
Kaulder is an immortal witch hunter, the last of his kind having been cursed with eternal life by his foe the Queen Witch centuries earlier. There was once a time where witches ran afoul of the entire Earth, bringing with them a destructive plague to exterminate humanity. After Kaulder's explosive victory, however, the world was a little safer. Now living in New York - miserable and lonely, while his deceased wife and child are worlds away in the afterlife - Kaulder discovers that it's not over yet. The Queen Witch has returned with a vengeance, but this time it's going to take more than a witch killer to take her out. In order to slay her, you've got to be like her, and so Kaulder must unite with a beautiful young sorceress with the ability to destroy her - even if it's against his better judgement.
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What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? is the somewhat unnecessary sequel, picking up the story of the shattered Heke family a few years after the first film. Violent wife beater Jake (the overpowering Temuera Morrison) is now divorced from his long-suffering wife Beth (Rena Owen), the emotional core of the first film. Their teenage daughter is already a suicide victim, and as this film opens, their eldest son, Nig (Julian Arahanga), a gang member, is shot dead in a gang fight. How awful to see Beth agonize through another funeral when the film is only five minutes old! Give the poor lady a break!
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Who's behind the game, how exactly it is played, why people are playing, and even who's footing the bill for the thing are questions that will have to go ananswered. Even the most casual viewer will be inevitably frustrated and completely baffled by the inexplicable story in Nemesis Game, but I have to admit that despite a massive failing in the plot department I actually had fun watching this film.
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This unexpectedly powerful melodrama is the story of a Maori family in urban New Zealand, trying to make ends meet and coping with the overbearing presence of the family's father, a drunken brute who regularly beats those who cross him into bloodied pulp. Some of the most disturbing and explosive fight scenes on film result from this, as well as a tragically heart-breaking story line that inevitably follows. Because the family does nothing to stop the father, his madness goes unchecked. And when he shows a tinge of kindness, it is always soon replaced with retribution.
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American Thighs was released on this day in 1994.