The Karate Kid (2010)

The ‘new’ Karate Kid was so annoying that I started rooting for him to get his narrow ass kicked.

Yes, I already know I am a horrible person. I am well aware that I have tiny little rock where my soul should be…my husband actually told me so the other day. But seriously folks, how annoying was that kid? He was a whiny little bitch. He was so much of a bitch that 3/4 of the way through the film, my three year old kept asking “What’s that girl doing?” Yeah, she watched almost the whole movie thinking The Karate Kid was a girl. No matter how many times we told her that he was a boy, she was insistent, “No! That’s a girl!”

Now, I’m not going to go into a long tirade negatively comparing this remake to the original. Frankly, most of my objections would be based in nostalgia, not actual merit. The first movie was cheesy and full of stereotypes. If anything, the remake is more disturbing due to the use of younger kids. High school kids beating the shit out of each other is fairly normal, but showing the younger kids took balls. I’m wondering if that’s why the setting was shifted to China – no expectation of anti-bullying campaigns?

I do want to point out that “Wax on, wax off” is a lot catchier than “Jacket on, jacket off.”

I didn’t have a problem with Jackie Chan either. It’s not like he sold out or anything – have you seen The Tuxedo? Or The Medallion? This isn’t the worst film Chan has been in by a long shot. I do have to admit that I had trouble understanding his drunken, sad story. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. The whole scene reminded me of Rambo’s soliloquy in First Blood…

So…I am not really sure if I liked this remake or hated it. Within the next few weeks, it’s likely that I won’t even remember having watched it or even writing this review. Ultimately, this film will be remembered as forgettable.

The Karate Dog

So this isn’t the long lost sequel to The Karate Kid movies?

Pat Morita taught his dog karate…but that’s where the similarity ends. No Mr. Miyagi here, he’s playing a Chinese dude named Chun Li. (Chun Li? Really???) Cho Cho the dog kicks a lot of ass via bad CGI, but it’s more a Matrix rip-off than wax-on/wax-off. Also, the dog talks and his voice sounds a lot like Chevy Chase. It IS Chevy Chase. I guess this is the best he could do before Community brought him back to relevancy.

The Karate Dog was full of surprises…Director Bob Clark, for one. A Christmas Story and Porky’s…THAT Bob Clark. I was also surprised by Jaime Pressly playing a sweet rookie cop and love interest – it was totally abnormal – no bitchiness at all. I was also surprised that I laughed at the dog party scene. Another surprise? Former gay porn star/MTV Vee-Jay Simon Rex is goofy but likeable as a nerdy cop.

You know what didn’t surprise me? Jon Voight wearing a Changshan and a tiny ponytail. Like Christopher Walken, I suspect that Jon Voight will take absolutely any paying gig. Hey…it beats pawning his Oscar or begging Angie for cash.

As shitty as this movie was, I’d rather watch it 200 more times than watch Beverly Hills Chihuahua again just once. Shitty trumps mediocre every time.

Ninja Cheerleaders

77 minutes of my life that I will never get back again.

That’s right, this piece of shit runs a mercifully short 77 minutes, plus 5-6 minutes of slow running credits. It’s even shorter when you account for 10 second montages of ninja swords, boobs and pom poms between each scene. Actually, those headless boob montages are the only boobs you see in the whole film. Even though the titular Ninja Cheerleaders are also Strippers, they never get naked because they assert that they are “Go Go Dancers.” In fact, they are supposed to be so hot that they manage to win a $50,000 Stripping Contest without actually stripping. What. The. Fuck.

Mr. Sulu plays the girls’ Sensei/Strip Club Boss. He is obviously looking out for the girls’ best interests by putting his best students to work non-stripping so that they can all go to an Ivy League School. (They’re not in High School, though – they’re in condemned looking Junior College and I guess cheerleading for a Junior College Basketball team – Huh?) Eddie (sans The Cruisers) portrays the evil mob boss that kidnaps Mr. Sulu. He’s aged so badly that I didn’t even recognize him.

One of the Ninja Cheerleader Non-Stripping Go Go Dancers is portrayed by Trishelle Cannatella, skank of numerous reality shows. She is best remembered for letting Andy Dick slobber all over her and touch her naughty bits during her stint on The Surreal Life. She doesn’t have an issue getting naked on reality shows, but won’t get naked on a straight to cable movie. Maybe the other actresses objected on the grounds of disease control? Sexual contact with Andy Dick doesn’t leave a girl untainted.

The film is basically a blatant rip-off of Charlie’s Angels. Don’t waste your time on it. Unlike Zombie Strippers, the genius title just doesn’t deliver the goods. Also, please don’t confuse Ninja Cheerleaders with Cheerleader Ninjas (2002), because Cheerleader Ninjas is about an internet porn ring and costs 99 cents more on Amazon.

Kung Fu Panda

Now that Jack Black is a daddy, he’s got to start churning out films that his kids can watch.

Kung Fu Panda is certainly watchable. I wasn’t sure that Jack Black could translate his trademark vulgar humor into kid friendly fare, but he picked the right vehicle and the right character. I mean come one, he looks like a big, fat cuddly panda! Jack Black stars as Po, a rabid martial arts fan, working in his dad’s noodle shop. (Side note: Why is Po’s father a duck? This is never addressed…) Po is anointed as the “chosen one” to receive the Dragon Scroll and save the village from the evil Tai Lung. Yeah, there’s nothing original about the storyline – an unlikely hero overcomes everyone’s expectations to save the day, but since when has originality been important in children’s films?

I’ll give Dustin Hoffman credit where credit is due – I didn’t recognize his voice as Shifu…he’s that good.

The Furious Five was a mixed bag. David Cross as Crane – yes! Seth Rogen as Mantis – oh yeah! Jackie Chan as Monkey – well, okay. Lucy Liu as Snake – hmmm, if you say so. Angelina Jolie as Tigress – seriously?

Angelina Jolie was completely underwhelming as Tigress. Her acting is not so much emoting with her voice, so maybe she should stick to the live action stuff. Is this the first film that she’s made that her kids can even watch? Well, I guess her kids can watch her in A Shark’s Tale, but then again they may want to avoid it – I heard it was pretty shitty.

During Po’s workout scene, am I the only one who thought, “COCK PUSH-UPS?!?!?!?!”

I really liked the opening sequence, stylized to look like traditional Chinese storybooks. It reminded me of the Monkey King storybooks that my grandmother gave me as a child.

Sequel is due out in 2011. Meh.

 

Street Fighter

“In a world where good guys wear blue camo and bad guys wear red camo…”

Street Fighter is all about the costumes. The only discernible plot to speak of is the pursuit of each character’s costumes.(I’m not the first person to point this out.) They spent so much time contriving ridiculous situations to get “normal people” into silly costumes that the film didn’t make ANY sense at all. At least Mortal Kombat made a little bit of sense. And now I must make the full disclosure that I have always been a Mortal Kombat fan – not so much Street Fighter. Maybe it’s because I spent too much time standing bored next to the Street Fighter machine at the Circle K, but I’d like to think that it’s because Mortal Kombat was and still is a superior game with superior characters. Come on, FATALITIES! Street Fighter – the game and the movie – just doesn’t compare.

For a film called ‘Street Fighter,’ there sure wasn’t much actual fighting. I was totally disappointed by the lack of one on one fights. I was also disappointed with the lack of Dhalsim. Dhalsim was my favorite character, partially because he had blue skin and also wore a diaper. He also made super annoying noises. I always love that in a video game character. I spent the entire film anticipating his arrival – and he never showed. Then, at the very end, the Indian scientist inexplicably became bald…and I figured out that he must represent Dhalsim. What a fucking cop-out!

Hmmm…Kylie Minogue. I had always wondered how she filled her time between ‘The Locomotion’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out of my Head.’ Now I know – starring in shitty video game movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Okay, that is a complete and utter lie. I doubt that Kylie Minogue entered my consciousness even once during the entire decade of the 90s.

Every five minutes or so, I’d ask my husband when Alyssa Milano was going to show up. Finally, halfway through the movie, he finally told me to stop asking him, because Alyssa Milano wasn’t in the friggin’ movie. She was in Double Dragon, a totally different, but probably equally shitty video game movie. Maybe he thought that I would make him change the channel if I knew she wasn’t in it?

I was going to end the review making fun of Jean-Claude Van Damme and his oh-so-serious portrayal of General Guile…but truth be told, this is one of his better performances. True, he’s still a Belgian, chest-shaving midget with a cocaine habit…but he does bring a certain two-dimensional-ness to the character. It’s as if he watched hours and hours of real gameplay and modeled his acting upon the “real” General Guile. Amazing.

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist

I’ve had that song “Black Betty” stuck in my head for weeks now.

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Non sequitur – I know. But “Black Betty” plays a significant part in this film. I don’t think I’ll be able to hear “Black Betty” again without thinking of Master Betty – kind of like how every time I hear “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” I think of popcorn. Speaking of Master Betty, isn’t that an awesome name for a villain?

Although I’m not really a fan of Oedekerk’s most well know works – the “Thumb” movies, I’m not really a fan of his other movies either. Bruce Almighty was alright, but the rest were just not my type of humor. Kung Pow, on the other hand, is my type of humor. Anyone who knows me, knows the tenuous at best relationship I have with Kung Fu movies. It’s not like I was tied down and forced to watch them…but pretty darn close. Keeping that in mind, any film mocking the seriousness of chop socky cinema is going to appeal to me. On top of that, any film with…Wait a second – I take all that back! IMDb tells me that he wrote Patch Adams. PATCH ADAMS?!?!?! I don’t care if John Waters says that “Patch Adams is the Pink Flamingos of the G-rated set” – I refuse to believe that anything good can come of Robin Williams cheering up kids with cancer.

Kung Pow is also eminently quotable. “I rock. And roll. All day long. Sweet Suzy.” “Look Ling, those curly q’s on your face make me so hot I can’t think straight.” “And beware his song about big butts, he beats you up while he plays it!” When my sister’s boyfriend told my husband that his “nipples looked like milk duds,” I thought that he was retarded and possibly a little gay. I was wrong, of course…about one of those things.

I actually attempted to go see Kung Pow in the theater. By the time I had gotten around to it, it was already in the dollar theater – actually the very last day in the dollar theater and the very last show of the night. When I arrived at the theater, it was being evacuated….because it was on fire. There would be no Kung Pow-ing for me on that night. I eventually bought it used. I noticed that I had stuck the receipt inside the case when I originally bought the DVD (with Super Troopers)…in October 2002. Yeah, I’m anal – fuck off. This hilarious DVD had been sitting around my house – unwatched – for nearly three years. I wonder what else is sitting on my DVD rack gathering dust?

Seed of Chucky

As we were sitting in the dark, waiting for the previews to begin, I was put in the position of rationalizing why I felt it was necessary to go see Seed of Chucky on opening weekend. I tried to explain what a big deal it was – that it was like Lord of the Rings. My husband said that was the “most asinine thing I have ever heard you say.” (Not as big an insult as you would think – he says that to me all the time. What can I say? I sometimes tend towards the asinine.) I then changed tack slightly to say that I wanted Seed of Chucky to outgross Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Yeah…he laughed at me – but who has the last laugh NOW? Chucky grossed $8,774,520, while Bridget only grossed $8,684,055. In your face, Renee Zellwuhuzajigger! You got served by a KILLER DOLL!

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Seed of Chucky lived up to my expectations and more. Picking up 5 years after Bride of Chucky, we find that the “baby” Tiffany shat out was rescued and taken to Merry Old England to perform as a ventriloquist’s dummy in a freak show. (I guess that was the best way to explain why Shithead sounds like a British Hobbit?) After seeing “Chucky” and “Tiffany” on TV promoting their new film, Shithead realizes that they must be his parents, escapes and mails himself to Hollywood, where he brings them back to life. Then the fun begins…

As with most dolls, the Seed of Chucky AKA Shithead is not anatomically correct. This leads to some interesting ‘Glen or Glenda’ scenes – Ed Wood would have been proud, as would Norman Bates. (As a matter of fact, why DO Chucky and Tiffany have genitals, anyway? Did they add an extra verse to the voodoo spell to ensure genitalia? Surely, the Good Guys dolls were not manufactured with a penis?)

Although the genitalia question remains unanswered, many other questions are answered by the end of this film. What reading material does Chucky prefer as a spank aid? Fangoria, of course. What is the average duration of a Voodoo Pregnancy? 2 days, give or take. (I missed the boat on that one, let me tell you.) Does Britney Spears appear in this film? No, but the explosion of the Britney lookalike is just as satisfying. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see a killer doll do Kung Fu? Yes, it definitely is hilarious.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention – JOHN WATERS! John Waters plays a slimy tabloid photographer who meets a gruesome end. This is me squeeing with delight!

Although wrapping up nicely, just enough room is left in the ending to justify another sequel. I’ll be sad indeed if it takes another six years to make it to the screen.

The Matrix Revolutions

Every day, I get more and more evidence the American public is on CRACK.

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The Matrix Revolutions was a perfectly good ending to a perfectly good trilogy. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why the movie was so roundly panned by critics. Every review carries complaints about the lack of a plot, about their lack of empathy for the characters, or the too long fight scenes. At first, I thought that the major stumbling block that the public hit with this movie was the sheer complexity of the philosophical issues. I immediately assumed that the general public was too “stupid” and “uneducated” to get the metaphysical complexity of the story. But wait a minute – that can’t be right, can it? The public had no problem embracing the same scale of complexity within the original Matrix, did they?

Warning: Spoilers Below

The Matrix seemed a very tightly defined arc, with a definite beginning, middle and end. Little did we know, it was ALL beginning. Nothing is left open to interpretation in the first film. As the second and third film unfurl, more and more of the plot is left open to interpretation. The only action set in stone is Neo’s sacrifice. The audience is left to explore the ramifications of the sacrifice on their own. None of the questions asked earlier in the series are answered. I have yet to talk to two different people whom will interpret the ending the same way. Neo’s sacrifice was like that of Christ, dying so that humans could live. Or that Neo was Muad’Dib from Dune, a blind savior leading his people through the desert. Or that Neo was following, albeit unintentionally, the architect’s instructions by re-entering the source, thus showing that even if your path is pre-determined by a higher power, it is at least nice to *think* you have a choice. Or that Neo was only able to save Zion because he realized that Zion could not exist without the Matrix – that the programs in the Matrix were just as much prisoners of the machines as the humans are. Or that Neo was only able to choose selfishly to save Trinity (and the human race in the process) if he had experienced love. Or that Neo’s triumph was a parable about the dissolution of Communism. Or that Zion was a part of the matrix all along, that’s why Neo could stop the sentinels. Or that Neo didn’t *really* die and he and Trinity will live happily ever after, because the two sequels took place before the ending of the first movie.

All of the above theories, except maybe that last one, are the result of a rational thought process that is making an attempt to wrap up a very open ended series of events. The American public does not want to continue to think for 10-15 minutes after a movie is over – they wanted to be able to sum up what happened in 3-4 sentences when a co-worker asks them about it the next day at the Water Cooler. The American public is not so much “stupid” or “uneducated” – they are just straight up LAZY.

I’ll get down off my soapbox now and get back to the film itself. Lots of action – good action. I was holding my breath during the machine invasion, although I started to get that Blair Witch headache from all the shaky movement. The APUs kicked ass, but weren’t those the same thing Ripley used in Aliens?

Michelle Rodriguez is one tough bitch. If she would have lived, I think she would have had to fight Link for Zee’s honor.

Club Hell was awesome. I want to go somewhere like that. I guess the closest thing here in the Metroplex is The Church. I guess that will have to do. I found an interesting parallel between the matrix and Zion…a party in the Matrix is a total S&M Freakshow, while a party in Zion (Ex: The Mud Orgy) looks a lot like a Grateful Dead concert…interesting…

In any case, the only part that was utterly retarded was the last three minutes – the epilogue with the Oracle, the Architect and Sati. Great. It was all a big chess game and now this little brat can make sunsets. Woopedy fuckin’ doo. That short scene almost unraveled the entire tapestry of the film.

The Tuxedo

Whose idea was it to match up Jackie Chan with one of the worst actresses to crawl out of the depths Fox’s back lot? That individual needs to be dragged out into the street and shot, run over by a ice cream truck and then shot again.

Notwithstanding Jennifer and her “Hewitts,” the movie wasn’t that bad. Jackie played a regular Joe Schmo without any martial arts ability, although he was a badass driver. I guess his ego requires that he’s some sort of badass in every film he’s in. He ends up chauffeuring for a real spy, hilarity ensues and he gets to wear the spy’s special tuxedo, which enables him to kick ass, do zippo tricks and sing like James Brown.

Speaking of James Brown, he has been popping up in the strangest cameos lately – first Undercover Brother and now this? The entire film was worth watching just for Jackie Chan’s impersonation of James Brown. He definitely had the moves. However, I was not prepared to see him wiggling his butt like that, nor was I prepared to see that stupid chick stick her FINGER in his ASS CRACK! I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing that.

Another standout was Peter Stormare as the fucked up Doctor Simms. He was totally against type and I almost forgot about his woodchippering tendencies in Fargo. Almost.

The plot was stupid, but I could get over that. My biggest question? What the fuck happened to his best friend? His best friend was in the first scene of the film and then we never saw him again. What the fucking fuck?

Without Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Tuxedo would have gotten a higher rating. I’m pretty sure the same goes for ANY film she’s in.

 

The Matrix Reloaded

Wow.

Usually, my first paragraph is much more clever than that, but I am a bit at a loss for words right now. Needless to say, I was more than adequately impressed by The Matrix Reloaded, as was most of the country this past weekend.

Let’s just get the obvious question out of the way. Was it better than the first one? That’s definitely not an easy answer to give. Honestly, I don’t even know. Looking back, I gave The Matrix a rating of 3 BOBs and here I am giving The Matrix Reloaded 4 BOBS. Maybe if I could go back in time, I would give the first one 4 BOBs, maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe after the final film comes out, I’ll change my mind again. It doesn’t really matter, because I really can’t compare the two movies. The themes are totally different, I left the theater feeling differently both times.

The Matrix was about birth. The birth of a hero, a messiah, a man was told to us and we sucked it all in as if we had never heard the fable before. We were given a whole new kind of special effects to be ripped off in every film since (Charlie’s Angels, I’m looking at you) and parodied in everything from Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo to Scary Movie. Philosophy became cool again and people were thinking about the possibly artificial world around them…

…And then, four long years later, The Matrix Reloaded comes along to slap us in our once-again complacent faces. As one would expect, the theme of Reloaded is life. Life is struggling to take hold in the cracks and recesses of Zion, as epitomized by the bizarre mud orgy scene. As repressed as these people are, they still know how to party. The special effects go beyond the first one, leaving even more room for poor imitation (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, I’m looking at you). Even though I was more than a bit distracted by Neo’s pretty dress flying about, the look and feel of the film was even more stylized and fashionista. But underneath all the pretty trappings lies a grave message. What if everything you have been told your entire life is WRONG? You find that you’ve put your faith in the wrong God, a God that may be playing with you, a God that in all likelihood doesn’t even exist?

Without getting into territory that would ruin your experience of the film, the notion of free will and predetermination is the underlying problem that Neo must face. Does altruism exist? Do the choices that he makes really benefit the people of Zion and not just himself? Are they even his choices at all? On a smaller scale, these are questions that all humans must ask themselves. In dealing with these issue on a massive scale, Neo must solve these problems not just for himself, but for the entire human race.

I can only presume that the theme of the third film, The Matrix Revolutions, will be death. The film harshly concluded with a “to be continued” right in the middle of the action. Argh.

Be sure to stay through the credits to catch the only peek of the sequel that you’re likely to get for several more months. The credits are looooooong and you’ll have to sit through a Dave Matthews song. (Please let his cirrhosis come soon!) It’s actually not that bad a tune, but the credit is due to Paul Oakenfeld for remixing it.

Of course, not everyone is happy about the film. The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation is boycotting the film due to it’s biased depiction of albinos. No shit – read it for yourself. The Virus twins were one of the most entertaining bits of the film – they didn’t make me want to go run over an albino in my car or anything. I did, however, want to run over the Merovingian in my car. I hate those French bastards. Not because of the recent difficulties, I hated them way before that.

So, I’m thinking about trying to find a clear latex dress like Persephone’s. I wonder what the odds of that are?