"The true story of Marco Polo is so much more compelling and exciting than the mythology" explains John Fusco ('Young Guns'), series creator and Executive Producer of 'Marco Polo'. Lorenzo Richelmy who plays the title character explains his motivation, saying: "His father was a great merchant, so his dream is to become a great merchant as well." Executive Producer Daniel Minahan ('Game of Thrones') adds some insight into the story of the series, explaining how Marco travels to China with his father, but negotiations break down quickly and Marco is left as an offering to serve the court of Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong).
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As this massive blockbuster thriller progresses, it's impossible not to become amused by how ridiculous its script becomes. Because the production values are first-rate, with mammoth set pieces, rampant destruction and elaborate stunt action. Meanwhile, the plot and dialog are comically inane, to the point where knowing audience members start giggling helplessly. And frankly, these viewers will enjoy the film a lot more than anyone who tries to take it seriously.
The film opens with a harrowing scene in which Secret Service agent Mike (Butler) saves the President (Echkart) from an accident in which the First Lady (Judd) dies. So he's transferred to office duty, and now only keeps an eye on the White House from across the road. But this is how he spots a fringe group of radical Koreans launch an assault. Led by nutcase Kang (Yune) they storm the Oval Office and take the President, Defense Secretary (Leo) and others hostage. As Mike tries to break them free, he stays in touch with the temporary command centre at the Pentagon, where top dogs (including Freeman, Forster and Bassett) attempt to keep the menace from spreading.
But of course, these officials are useless, and it'll be up to Mike to save the day on his own, Die Hard-style. Improbably, all of his old access codes and passwords still work, so he's able to sneak around the White House and take out the villains one by one. Butler turns out to be rather good in this kind of meathead role, combining Bruce Willis' wit with Sylvester Stallone's brawn. By contrast, everyone else pretty much just sits around saying ridiculous things like, "Oh my God, we're doomed!" At least Leo gets to show some backbone.
Continue reading: Olympus Has Fallen Review
President of the United States Benjamin Asher has had enough trauma while being in office, and things are about to get a whole lot worse. What with the current conflicts between the States and North Korea, there is a known danger that a war could erupt between the two countries; however, Asher had little to suspect when he welcomed a South Korean ministerial aide into the White House. In a terrifying turn of events, he is kidnapped by the aide who reveals himself to be Kang, a North Korean terrorist with little interest in negotiations. Trapped in the building as it becomes under siege by Kang's cohorts is Mike Banning; a former Secret Service agent who was discredited after making a mistake at the expense of a life while acting as a Presidential guard. Despite his being shunned from the government for his errors, with his insider knowledge he becomes the only hope they have of rescuing the President from a grisly fate.
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Rapper-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker RZA is clearly influenced by cohorts Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth as he indulges in this crazed pastiche of 1970s kung fu action romps. It's energetic and often quite funny, but far too silly to come together properly, mainly because he never adds any sense of post-modern wit. If the action scenes were more coherent, it at least could have been a guilty pleasure.
In a 19th century Chinese village, an American ex-slave (RZA) is known only as Blacksmith, forging weapons for gang members to raise the money to buy his girlfriend Lady Silk (Chung) from the local brothel's Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). But their fate is caught up in a battle for power after the patriarch of the Lion clan is murdered and the swaggering Silver Lion (Mann) challenges rightful heir Zen Li (Yune). After a vicious attack by Silver Lion's muscled henchman Brass Body (Bautista), Zen Li is rescued by Blacksmith. And they get help from Englishman Jack Knife (Crowe) to fight Silver Lion and his thugs.
The title refers to something that happens about halfway in, when Blacksmith forges new arms for himself after being attacked by Silver Lion for helping Zen Li. This sets the stage for an orgy of metal-on-metal battling (there are also bronze and copper characters), leading to a clattering showdown between Blacksmith and Brass Body, who for some inexplicable reason can morph his body into, yes, brass. As such a wild fantasy, it's not surprising that the plot makes so little sense, although a bit more genuine character depth would have helped hold our interest.
Continue reading: The Man With the Iron Fists Review
'The Man with the Iron Fists' tells the tale of a blacksmith in the 1800s who forges intricate weaponry in the tiny Chinese village where he lives. He has an extensive knowledge of the trade and understands that weapon forging needs three things: the right metal, sky high temperatures and a killer. He lands himself in the situation where he is forced to defend the people around him, joining forces with warriors and assassins, as they arm themselves against a treachery which puts him and the villagers under serious threat. The blacksmith uses his remarkable skills in order to control an ancient power to transform himself into the ultimate human weapon.
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