Recapped!: “Bullet Explosion” (2004)

Little Brother! You are no longer allowed to call me your brother!”

words: Desmond Childs

I often think back to the simpler times of my life. I was making moves. Training hard. My brother and I were going to take the next big step toward becoming true Yakuza. We only needed to kill this rival boss. Oh my gosh! This is the best day ever, because I also just got a text from my girlfriend saying she’s pregnant! Wow! Things sure are looking up. Oh wait. Maybe I shouldn’t be a gangster. Hey, little brother? I killed this gangster, but I won’t you to take the credit for it. I want to go straight and work hard to support my new family!

The above text was me paraphrasing the main character of the movie Bullet Explosion‘s thoughts, both verbal and unspoken early in the movie. The film kind of shows us how much of a drag it is to be this has-been gangster. We see him wake up. He changes pants, lovingly dropping the discarded pair on his sleeping girlfriend’s face. Then they say their goodbyes as he heads over to the nearest gambling establishment. There he actually manages to win a decent amount of cash. Then things take a turn…FOR THE WORSE! He gets jumped in an alleyway and is saved by his younger brother, who is a Yakuza. His brother (who I’ll refer to as little brother), is a captain in one of the bigger gangs in Japan. Er, I mean Tokyo. So little brother tries to wine and dine our protagonist into joining the gang as it’s enforcer (hitman). From here the movie becomes a very pedestrian story about a silly, pointless feud between family members. The movie tries to throw some “tried and true” themes at us with things like loyalty and honor. The silly thing about this movie is how quickly the relationship between the two brothers devolves int o pure hatred.

The older brother, the one the movie wants us to side with, is clearly crummy, stale shell of a person. He gambles on a daily basis. One can only imagine how promiscuous he is, as his wife seems to only go to work or stay home most days. Don’t get me started on how the women in this movie are portrayed. I’ll just say that director Atsushi Yamamura needed a dumb, housewife and a trophy-hooker and he hired people to fill those roles. Not really any character development. No real depth. Just girlfriend, hooker, and housewives in this movie. Uh, really? This movie came out in 2004. There’s no excuse for that. I’m not saying we needed the women in this movie to be like uber-Yakuza ninjas or anything, but the writers and Yamaura needed to give them something to do. Anyway, the two brothers in this film, who never really appear to be that close to each other, battle through the last two-thirds of the film. What lead to this intense, deadly showdown. Was it because of a woman? Was it because of a betrayal? I won’t spoil. I’ll let those who are interested indulge.

If I sound unimpressed with Bullet Explosion, it’s because I am. It was just so boring! You’d think with a title like Bullet Explosion, there’d be guys being shotgun blasted through windows. But instead we get a fat, smelly standoff at the end. I wasn’t connected with the characters. The writers didn’t flesh them out well enough for me to care. I didn’t like how the actor who portrayed the younger brother was unable to show any real emotion. He did a lot of glaring. I dunno if that’s like scary or something, but it just made it seem like he was a weird, awkward jerk. The story itself, at least the premise, easily could have contained more action sequences but instead we’re stuck following characters through alleyways as they try to escape. What are they escaping? Who cares. Maybe the running in this movie signifies the running into the ground of what could have been an otherwise, gun-tastic thrilling film. And one more thing, I don’t watch movies called “Bullet Explosion” for the story, but when the action is lacking like it is here, and the rest of the movie is mediocre; I’m going to attack! It’s only right. Don’t ask me if I would recommend this. Cause if you do, I’ll be there-RAINING DOWN A BULLET EXPLOSION ON YOUR @#$!

NOTE: I could not find a trailer for this movie because it’s awful. At least I’m not the only one who thinks so.

63 and counting!

Image

WHEW…!

I just spent about 30 minutes going through and organizing the site. It was about that time, and now the Recapped! Reviews page is up to date. You’ll also notice that marathon movies are now in the mix with the other reviews I’ve done. Once I have the new list of movies to watch, I’ll setup the preview posts for the coming days. Capeesh!? Also, I’m looking for a new job in the real world so this blog is pretty much the only thing I have going outside of job searching. That probably means more reviews in a shorter amount of time. Probably.

Electric Shadows (2004)

312

Electric Shadows: “You cannot let the pass dictate your future…”

Words: Desmond Childs

*Author’s Note: I owe readers an apoology for this overdue review on a movie I promised to discuss over a month ago. With all of my things unpacked and settled in; I’m ready to get back to work.

 

In the spirit of nostalgia, Xiao Jiang brings us Electric Shadows; a tale of regret and sorrow. This movie takes the main protagonist’s problems and enhances them past the original limit. The heroine has to learn that she cannot change the past and that “closure” is the closest she could get to the relief she sought after.

Directed By:

Jia Yan (Xiao Jiang)

Jia

Jia Yan, whose is credited as Xiao Jiang for this film, wrote and directed Electric Shadows. One thing I noticed about her style here, is the nostalgic feel it gives off. You can’t help but wonder how much of Ms. Jia’s own childhood was embedded into this movie; with the setting and characters carrying an authenthic glow. The pacing is a little tiresome, where halfway through, I wanted to push the “fast-forward” button. The ending sequence of events wasn’t pulled off all that well, although the idea to tie the two stories together was a neat one. The movie’s payoff was a bittersweet and ultimately unearned “heart-string” tugger.

Reunion of the Hearts and Souls?

A film about the awakardly frantic life of a radio announcer. The town they live in spends the end of every night (at least it seemed like every night) watching movies on a giant projector screen. The movie nights were popular enough for mostly all of the citizens to attend (popcorn included). Soon, the girl’s mother has a child out of wedlock, and is thus shunned by the town and looked down upon. The follwing set of events chronicles their lives, with cult-like ritual of movie basically being a character in the movie itself; where many of the film’s more vital moments taking place. Personally, the film was engrossing for about an hour and 15 minutes; before it starts to drift and reach for some emotional moments. The good directors can bring those moments to you seamlessy; while the great ones weave those moments into already enticing works of art. Many of the sad moments in this film were done relatively well, although watching a child quietly stare into space does wear on you afterawhile. It’s a little lazy to hope the audience is going to feel for a little kid, just because she’s a kid. Luckily for this film, the lead actresses have enough charisma to make us all feel bad for them in their predicament. I even dug the little ugly guy friend who served as her tag-a-long for a part of the film. To summarize, Electric Shadows was a nice movie. I feel as though director, Jia Yan may have a flair for dramatic, epic, romance movies at her best; and cute, little tales of puppy-love, romantic comedies at her worst. Not a bad way to make a living. Wow, I think I just typed the longest sentence this year on this blog. Does that deserve a hand clap of praise?

 

Electric Shadows is available on Netflix’s “instant watch” feature. Check out the trailer below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIST-FOOT MARATHON: Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Kiss of the Dragon

Tcheky_karyo_kiss_of_the_dragon_001Kissofd1Kiss-the-dragon-8Jet

July 6, 2001 (US Release)
August 1, 2001 (French Release)
Directed by: Chris Nahon, whose also directed the movies, Empire of the Wolves and Blood: The Last Vampire


Who you’ll recognize:
Jet Li (FearlessFist of LegendThe One), Bridget Fonda (The Godfather IIIPoint of no ReturnJackie Brown).




What’s all this about? 

There was a certain amount of buzz surrounding this movie. I’m not talking Oscar-buzz forJet Li or anyone else involved here. What generated a lot of anticipation for this film release was the action scenes of course; in terms of making them less “fantastic”. Fans of Jet Li had been clamoring for their movie-star to star in a movie where the fighting felt “real” and more “grounded” than the typical superhuman feats they had become bored with. Their wish was granted, and what we as the audience get is a film that helped usher in an era of “stylized,   
phenomenal, yet grounded” take on martial art films. Ironically enough, Jet Li was a big part of continuing this popular take on shooting fight scenes in this manner. The style of most of the 90s fighting style, especially in America where martial arts isn’t heavily practice; was rough, messy, and “over-the-top” gun play. The new wave of action flicks, kept a decent percentage of that style. It also mixed in a large batch of mixed martial arts, and some fascination with the different ways to damage or manipulate the human body and mind. In fact, the name of this film derives from a certain forbidden technique involving jabbing needles into sensitive part of the body.
The film itself deals with a story that feels familiar, but is not often used as the main plot. A Chinese cop is sent to France to bring back a culprit, and ends up being framed for his murder, along with the murder of a prostitute. After his frame, he runs into another prostitute, who was there that night of his being framed. The story is essentially the two of them trying to escape the clutches of a corrupt inspector and his squadron of French cops. The deal the Chinese cop makes with the prostitute, is that he’ll get her daughter back; and she’ll testify against the corrupt police officials and there involvement in the conspiracy against the Chinese cop. The end result was a very anti-climatic thud, but the movie sort of switches between a “dead sprint” of a pace into more of a nervous jog. The players on screen are better seen as opposed to being heard. As if the first paragraph of the article didn’t hint at already, the action sequences were the stronger points of the film; and dominated most of the runtime. Good move, Mr. Chris Nahon; director of a cool, gritty action film.

The American whose scenes are were badly written:

Bridget Fonda. In a matter of about 15-20 minutes of screen time; we’re suppose to believe she not only understands Jet Li’s drive, but is right in condemning him for being too dedicated to his job. What the hell?

Jet Li’s cop truly has nothing to live for:


You wanna know a sure-fire way to get out of writing depth for your main character? Make it so that he has no wife, kids, girlfriends, real aspirations, or interests other than the current mission. Also make it so that he has no where to really run other than the “sleeper” whose hidden within the city. Aside that he has the heart of a lion (or Dragon), Jet Li’s character is a blank, boring slate. It sorta waters down the film, when the audience isn’t allowed to connect with the hero of the story. My suggestion would have been to rewrite the film from Bridget Fonda’s character’s perspective, that way Li’s character works. His basic purpose is to be a tool, let’s focus on the people who has use of the tool. The villain and the Bridget Fonda prostitute (very incompetent one at that).




Recommended?
Sure. On Netflix.