Yesterday I knocked out eight or so quick hits of movies I enjoyed in 2019. I should have mentioned in that first post that I’m talking about movies I watched in that year, not necesarily movies that came out in said year. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t have much to write about as someone who mainly gets their entertainment from Netflix (digital AND disc, like an O.G.), Amazon Video, the library and Hulu! Let’s get back to it!
Happy New Year everyone. I decided to celebrate by compiling a series of lists celebrating my favorite films and shows of 2017. Sounds like pretty standard stuff, right? Yup, totally. However, these lists will include not just new films from last year, but new-to-me ones that I enjoyed. This one celebrates the glory of big screen blockbusters, most of which I saw on the small screen because, you know, kids.
First off, I’d just like to reiterate how much I enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014) and San Andreas (2015) from director Gary Peyton. I had a great time watching both of those movies earlier this year and highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking for big budget disaster fare. I also had a silly amount of fun watching Vin Diesel in 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter helmed by Breck Eisner. I think this will make a great weekend movie tune-in type of movie.
I had a bit of a rough birthday last Friday. I was alone with the kids, had a hefty amount of work to get done and had just gotten over a pretty gnarly stomach virus. So, when they both finally fell asleep, I thought I’d treat myself to an action movie. After flipping through Netflix, I came to The Protector 2, the sequel to one of my favorite action movies, and decided to give it a shot.
It was a major disappointment.
I’ve written several times about how much I like Tony Jaa’s amazing, athletic, intense films. Ong Bak and Protector are top notch examples of modern action classics. I’ve even watched movies that he only cameos in and got pretty bummed when he retired to become a monk for a few years. So, when I saw this movie on Netflix I was incredibly excited, but it was a total let down.
My first problem came about 20 minutes in during the first major fight scenes that finds Jaa’s Kham once again trying to find an elephant by beating his way through street thugs. This particular one takes place on a series of rooftops and involves a variety of bad guys attacking on dirt bikes. The problem is that, as soon as you introduce an idea like that, action fans are going to start comparing it to the one from Rumble In The Bronx.
In theory, Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew (Ong-bak, The Protector) had the potential to top Chan’s work, but they fall incredibly far from the mark. The green screen work is awful as are the explosions and shotty compositions that are supposed to make you believe that a motorcycle is that close to a person’s head. Even if I’m mistaken in what I thought were poorly done special effects, there’s something about the film quality that makes me doubt what I’m seeing. And the key feature to movies like this is believing everything that’s happening (something that this director and star have done easily in films past). If I find myself thinking, “Is that real?” instead of “HOW’D THEY DO THAT!!!” something’s wrong.
I hoped that might be the end of the film’s problems, but that wasn’t the case. A later fight scene is set in a room on fire, something that happened in an early Jaa offering (I really can’t remember if it was Ong-bak or Protector, it’s impossible to keep those movies straight). They seemed intent on upping the ante by making a TON of fire, but instead it looks goofy because it’s all CGI. Oh and did I mention the fight that takes place in a zeppelin hanger for no apparent reason? Ugh.
But worst of all was the fact that, in some of these scenes, Jaa looked bored. In his earlier films, this guy stomped through his scenes like a force of nature intent on avenging elephants. Now, that sounds silly as I type it, but this dude was INTENT. There are whole scenes in this film where he looks like he’s waiting for lunch. It’s too bad because I’ve often thought that disappointing is worse than bad, but in this case, I think this movie is both and didn’t even bother finishing it.
Two of the greatest martial artists on film will be teaming up to star in Fast & Furious 7. We’ve known for a while now that Jason Statham will play the bad guy, but now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, we learned that Thai ass kicker Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak, The Protector) will be in the cast.
The film finds Statham’s Ian Shaw seeking revenge against the crew for his brother played by Luke Evans in the previous film. Series stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker will return along with relative newcomer Dwayne Johnson. Meanwhile, actual fighter Ronda Rousey is in talks to join the project along with Tyrese Gibson who recently snapped a photo with director James Wan in front of the film’s first poster.
This will be Jaa’s first U.S. film. A fan of the Fast & Furious movies, Jaa said, “There is no better film to be involved in for a first U.S. studio production.” He went on to say that, regardless of whether he actually fights Diesel or Johnson on camera, he’s excited about the project. “Having a chance to work with Vin Diesel and The Rock already makes me a winner.”
The Explosions Are Rad crew have been fans of Jaa since we stumbled upon The Protector several years back. He brings an intensity and realism to his action scenes that are hard to match (see below for what it might look like for him to fight a guy like Johnson). Bringing some of that raw physicality to the chase and heist-centric franchise will be pretty interesting. However, if Jaa doesn’t fight Statham on screen, it will be a hugely wasted opportunity. Make it happen Wan!
Fast & Furious 7 hits on July 11, 2014.