Saturday, 13 December 2008

Underrated Movies - part 2

Directed by: Peter Hyams
Written by: Andrew W. Marlowe

I first caught this film a long while ago. In short, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Jericho, a cop-turned-bodyguard, who gets caught up in the Devil's rising power. So yes, this is an Arnie movie. But it isn't like any other out there. This isn't about Schwarzenegger running around with miniguns shooting endlessly at thousands of bad guys. It's a unique role for him.

If I remember correctly, the role was written directly for him. Schwarzenegger had recently had surgery and there was a lot of worry as to whether Arnold could still cut it in the action-hero world. So what better way to destroy the rumours than to take on Lucifer himself?

This is different to any other Arnie movie for one simply reason. Rather than playing a 'larger than life' hero, Schwarzenegger portrays a deep, troubled man. This is by far his best acting performance, simply because the writing enables him to do it.

The direction is good and the introduction of Jericho (Schwarzenegger) could not be more powerful. We see his shitty apartment, as he sits alone in a darkened room. He picks up his Glock 9mm and is about to blow his own head off when his comedic mate turns up. It's still one of my favourite introductions to a character.

Finally, you can't talk about a Schwarzenegger movie without mentioning the one-liners. While there is no "I'll be back!", we do have some great dialogue. As an atheist, I was particularly amused by what the Devil had to say about things, so I leave you with a few of my favourite lines from the movie.

Jericho (about God): "We had a difference of opinion. I thought my wife and daughter should live. He felt otherwise."

Devil (about God): "Let me tell you something about Him. He is the biggest underachiever of all time. He just has a good publicist, that's all."

Jericho (to the Devil): "Oh, you think you're bad, huh? You're a fucking choir boy compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!"

Father Kovak: "Satan's greatest trick was convincing the world he doesn't exist."

Jericho (to priest): "Between your faith and my Glock nine millimeter, I'll take the Glock."

Directed by: Wilson Yip
Written by: Edmond Wong
Based on the comic book 'Dragon and the Tiger Heroes' by Yuk Long Wong

A lot of foreign films don't get known simply because they're not in English and people can't really be bothered to read subtitles. I get this, but if you don't check them out, you're missing out on a huge range of entertainment. This is one such example. Based on a comic book, this Chinese martial arts movie stars Donnie Yen as an ass-kicking bodyguard. I won't reveal too much of the plot, because there's not a lot I can say without spoiling it.

The direction is pretty unique. One particular action scene is shot from above and it works brilliantly. It means that you never get bored of the action, which is often the case in many martial arts movies.

I don't know how much about the comic book, so how much of the story is due to the screenplay, I don't know. The plot is pretty basic, but it doesn't need to be that complicated at all. There are some great moments and it's pretty hard to tell where the story will progress. I was gripped throughout.
Onto the stars. Donnie Yen is the highlight of the piece, showing off his expert martial arts moves and legendary kicks. He's merciless throughout and this is easily one of his best roles. Then we have Nicholas Tse. "Who?" you ask. He's unheard of here and even in America, but in China, he's pretty well-known. His martial arts skills rival that of Donnie Yen and it would not surprise me if this 28-year-old becomes the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li. He's that good.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that this is a comic book movie. It's a mistake to take it too seriously, but that being said, it's far from 'silly'. While films such as Fantastic Four and Hulk are purely about the fact that it's a light-hearted comic book, Dragon Tiger Gate fits into the darker and deeper comic book movies. It's up there with Daredevil and X-Men for sure.

So, if you're a fan of comic book movies, martial arts or just fantastic storytelling, this is one movie to check out. My only annoyance is that it's in Chinese, but I have no doubt that if this had been a Hollywood movie, it would be talked about for years to come.

"We train in martial arts to protect people, not to hurt them. No matter what happens, we must never use our skills to do bad things"
-Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen)

More shiny, underrated movies on the way folks, watch this space,

1 comment:

Michelle Goode said...

"My only annoyance is that it's in Chinese, but I have no doubt that if this had been a Hollywood movie, it would be talked about for years to come."

It's a shame that films have to be American before they become legendary so to speak. I personally love the fact that it is Chinese as I'm big on foreign films making their mark. I'm glad they kept their own language in the film and didn't succumb to overdubbing or speaking English. No foreign country should ever have to feel the need to speak English just to satisfy the English-speaking majority. I think the fact it was very Chinese and culture-based and had no American elements to it made it all the richer.

It's a shame a lot of people are too lazy to read subtitles, as there are many amazing films out there waiting to be discovered and relished. I personally hope that these films never get the Hollywood treatment as I feel it would levae them devoid of culture, false and a bit sugar-coated.