REVIEW: WAR

WAR

Does “WAR” achieve victory? Hardly. Just like Hitler didn’t learn from Napoleon, Jet Li didn’t learn from Cradle 2 the Grave and other past Americano mistakes.

The music video director has to be the guy to blame. Or maybe its the screen writer? Or could it be Lee himself? This movie felt like a hollow drum- something constantly to be banged on to produce the same noise over and over again until it becomes irritating. Can you still make music with such a device? Sure! But it really won’t have a lot of notes, and it won’t get any prettier. There were maybe 3 good fight scenes in the whole thing, only one of which involved Statham and only one involved Li. The rest were just sorta…meh. I mean I can’t even write a particularly intelligent review of this film.

This was a movie I had been looking forward to for over a year now, since it was announced that Jet Li would be FIGHTING Jason Statham. Now this movie was announced right around the time Jet Li was going into “retirement.”

Did his change in pace work out? Not really. See, he wasn’t retiring- he was merely changing his agenda- no more classical, long drawn out choreography? Ok, I can deal with that- after all Danny The Dog (also known as UNLEASHED in the states) was a great drama with some action sprinkles to keep it thrilling. His acting in Hero was the main emphasis of his role, with you never knowing which side he was playing.

That role particularly could be compared to this film, with Li’s new character Rogue being phoned in as a harsh Asian ripoff of the Man With No Name played by Eastwood (which, circularly, is a ripoff of a Japanese character, Yojimbo, played by Mifune). The setting for a such a character is well imagined- Yakuza vs. Triads in the dingy, dirty evil town of…San Fransisco…? Wow. Aside from the Golden Gate Bridge in two scenes this movie could have taken place in any town- with most of the locations even being referred to as generically as “Yakuza Turf” and “Triad Turf” and at the worst “Chang’s Warehouse 16.” I mean how freaking lazy can you get? Have you guys ever BEEN to San Fransisco? The one time the environment works to its advantage is one of the only passable action scenes in the film- a car chase down SF streets. However the chase actually starts strong and ends poorly. You see Statham chasing Li around trolley cars, across the huge gaping drops, and through tunnels, only for his car to slightly…dip over a guard rail or something and him to walk away barely even injured. This can essentially be seen as a metaphor for the whole film- great premise, poor execution, and a very weak and empty conclusion. And for future reference- Jason Statham does NOT LOSE CAR CHASES. Who the hell said “Hey Jason, you’re gonna let JET LI of all people out drive you.” And this is where the biggest problem with the movie really occurs- it was not made for the fans.

Now is it wrong to wish that? In most cases I’d say hell yes. But when you have such a simple meal ticket in the works with both Jet Li and Jason Statham being box-office gold in their last two separate movies (Li’s Fearless and Statham’s Crank both got in the top 5 opening weekend), the ambition in this movie seems to aim more towards Gangster Noir than action film- with cheesy character stories and overly cliche motivations pushing the story along. These are the types of movies designed to make big bucks, have big bangs, and get big cheers. I laughed a couple of times at both moments intentional and unintentional, but by the time the third act arrived and I still hadn’t seen Statham beating Jet Li to death or Li whipping Statham’s ass I knew there was something wrong.

By the end of this movie you’ll realize a few things you already knew:
1. Statham can act. Really well actually, and given a better script he could probably get A List in no time.
2. Jet Li can act- when the conventions of the film aren’t going against him and his accent issues. It’s forgivable in something like Unleashed because his character hardly ever speaks the first 20 some years of his life. In this movie its just plain irritating that he can’t speak English without any inflections. Perhaps the director is to blame, because I KNOW he was trying a lot harder in Kiss of the Dragon to pull off the English Accent and Anti Hero roles.
3. Neither of those things will matter when the script is inept enough to label a location with an exposition lettering “CHANG’S WAREHOUSE 16”

This movie was just made for dumb people. And I feel dumb for being cheated out of what would have been the coolest grudge match of the year. Maybe one of the best of all time. They better try a sequel or something and do it right. Get Luc Besson to back it and Yo Wuen Ping to choreograph and maybe we’ll have some REAL action.

WAR Totally does not strike a pose- both actors need to stay the hell away from Music Vid directors…you think Li would have learned that by now after Cradle 2 The Grave.

**/***** (2/5)

Our next film, Line of Sight, is currently under production. We shot an hour of footage over 6 hours today, and 3 hours the previous day. Doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but that’s cause we were hoofin it big time to get these beautiful shots in some of the woods near Seneca Creek State Park (but not in it).

The film takes place in The Peregrine Saga, with two characters, Stray (Bob Novich)- an exiled cage fighter from Canine Town, happening across The Monk (Rob Ramirez), a warrior from places unknown using an ancient style.

When they cross paths on the border of Canine Town, they are both targeted by the mercenary bounty hunter, Flintlock (Sam Anderson). Confused by the random shooting and luckily fast enough to jump out of the way, The Monk gives chase to Stray- thinking it he who fired first.

This is mostly just a simple demo for some choreography performance and editing, but we also got to work on Make Up and Costume selections for a change. Not to mention, we’ve actually started planning movies at least 1 day in advance- this one was 3- like Clarity last month.

All in all it was a GREAT learning experience, and we’ll have a lot of pre-production teaser stuff on the site in the coming days and weeks. Damien McCoy assistant directed for me, and took a lot of behind the scenes photos and some footage for us to enjoy while I take my sweet time editing it. We still have two scenes to film, one for background and one for the ending (after 6 hours both batteries I had were VERY unfortunately DEAD), and hopefully I can get those done before I go on vacation with my lovely girlfriend.

Well, we’re definitely striking some great poses over here. I love the people I work with- the crew has really formed a bond and I’m proud of everyone- most of them never really considered themselves actors, martial artists or stuntmen. I would like to say that this movie, for everyone I’ve worked with, confirms that you have all done it, you have come the full way, and whatever future’s you’re looking for are right ahead of you. You guys could do ANYTHING- film or not.

So, I’ll get to editing stuff a bit this week, and maybe have a teaser for something to show you soon. Goodnight everyone!

RIP Ingmar Bergman

Bergman
INGMAR BERGMAN
Ok, in all honesty I haven’t seen more than 1 of his films, but apparently this man, Ingmar Bergman, is one of the most celebrated and influential film makers in history. Today I flipped to IMDB and the breaking news was that he died today at his home in Faro, Sweden, at the age of 89.

From IMDB:

Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish director considered one of the most influential and acclaimed filmmakers of modern cinema, died at his home in Faro, Sweden, on Monday; he was 89. The death was announced by the Swedish news agency TT and confirmed by Bergman’s daughter, Eva, and Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, though an official cause of death was not yet given. Nominated for nine Academy Awards throughout his career and honored with the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1971, Bergman was cited as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, with his bleak, unsparing yet highly emotional explorations of the human psyche and its relation to life, sex, and death, in both highly symbolic and intensely personal films; he most notably influenced Woody Allen, who considered him the greatest of filmmakers.

The one film of his that I was fortunate enough to see at least most of (I was exhausted in class and fell asleep), had some amazing imagery and breathtaking mis-en-scene. This movie was his 1982 holiday classic, Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander). This epic children’s fairy tale about death, loss, and rebuilding life was very, very powerful and for the scenes that I was conscious to I was treated to some of the most influential shots I had ever seen. Here’s a clip from the film provided by YouTube

Here are a few citations from his personal info on Wikipedia

Technique
“As a director, Bergman favored intuition over intellect, and chose to be unaggressive in dealing with actors. Bergman saw himself as having a great responsibility toward them, viewing them as collaborators often in a psychologically vulnerable position. He stated that a director must be both honest and supportive in order to allow others their best work.”

It is a strong insight like that which creates a powerful and potential-releasing relationship between Director and Cast/Crew. That is something to strive for.

His Message to Young Film Makers

“Bergman encouraged young directors not to direct any film that does not have a “message,” but rather to wait until one comes along that does, yet admitted that he himself was not always sure of the message of some of his films.”

I’ve made a lot of random films, and in the end they will be shelved for personal viewing pleasure, not to be made for audiences to gain anything except laughs from. However, I would push to strive to be in this kind of position- to live up to his expectations that people want to communicate ideas through film- thus unleashing the true potential of the Art.

AWARDS

Ingmar at Work

Academy Awards

In 1971, Bergman received The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the Academy Awards ceremony. Three of his films have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Virgin Spring in 1961; Through a Glass Darkly in 1962; and Fanny and Alexander in 1984.

Many filmmakers worldwide, including Americans Woody Allen and Robert Altman, and Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, have cited the work of Bergman as a major influence on their work.

* Nominated: Best Original Screenplay, Smultronstället (1960)
* Nominated: Best Original Screenplay, Såsom i en spegel (1963)
* Nominated: Best Original Screenplay, Viskningar och rop (1974)
* Nominated: Best Picture, Viskningar och rop (1974)
* Nominated: Best Director, Viskningar och rop (1974)
* Nominated: Best Director, Ansikte mot ansikte (1977)
* Nominated: Best Original Screenplay, Höstsonaten (1979)
* Nominated: Best Original Screenplay, Fanny och Alexander (1984)
* Nominated: Best Director, Fanny och Alexander (1984)

Sources include IMDB.com, Wikipedia.com, YouTube and Google Images.

However I highly recommend this link, from the people who would really take the care and time to know- Turner Classic Movies, and they also report that the next showing of his films will be Octorber 14th at 2:00 AM, Fanny Oct Alexander will be playing.

However you should get out there and rent one of his fantastic titles and bone up on your knowledge of film! I think I’ll check out a few myself before going back to college. He is obviously worth the time.

We just wrapped filming a new movie here at STRIKE A POSE!!! Films- the psychological thriller “Clarity” starring Sam Anderson and Damien McCoy.

Here’s the synopsis and some set pics:

“A teenage boy hires a detective to find his missing girlfriend, however there are no records of her existence, no police files, not even anything in sealed government files. He gives the boy 24 hours to prove the girl exists and that if he does, he’ll agree to work as long as it takes to find her. Along the way he encounters his own past and discovers he may be on the tail of the same killer who took his lover three years ago.”

Awakening

the deal

the girl

The Killing Time

who is he?

This film should be finished editing by the end of August 2007

You Better LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD

Ok, I really, really wasn’t looking forward towards this film. I mean, c’mon, most movies only work as trilogies, and even then at least one of the movies isn’t that great (in this case Renny Harlin’s marginal critical success Die Hard 2: Die Harder).

Then, just a week before it came out, and sifting through trailers that sounded somewhat…overblown, lame and lacking in plot. After dealing with the fact that Mac Boy Justin Long (who I think is one of the most boring actors on the face of the earth, granted I had only really seen him in Waiting, where his performance was strong but just dull), was “John McClane’s son”- YES my own personal misconstruction of the plot (only because at one point Justin Timberlake was cast as “John McClane’s Son” and Britney Spears as “John McClanes Daughter,” then Jessica Simpson…etc etc)…well in any case up until two weeks ago I could only think of a few valid ideas: This movie is going to be BS like nobodies business. And hey, I love Lethal Weapon 4. So Sue me.

Well, just two weeks ago, a friend recommended it to me, the critics started going apeshit about how it is the best movie of the summer, and considering its the only step up- a Quadrilogy rather than another freaking Threequel, I at least could stop fearing the response being the same as the Anti-Sequel Brigade that America had (thankfully) become from reigning hell fire down on Bruce Willis’s bald headed All American Hero.

So I got into it. Mostly, and this is the Honest To God Truth (TM), because I wanted to get my mom to go to the movies- she doesn’t get a lot of chances anymore, and Die Hard is one of her favorite series. When I saw an interview with Bruce Willis saying “It’s better than the original” I decided, “Ok, fine, I’ll give it a swig.”

And oh…my…GOD this was a strong drink of perfect action, awesome villains, big explosions and that Americana edge we all grew up knowing and loving in the late 80’s. The call to American Action has returned, and now it is mixed. We had free running, kung fu, cyber hacking and all these new things integrated into an old-fashioned blockbuster, and its the best I’ve seen yet. The best action movie since Casino Royale- possibly even BETTER as an action movie (though of course not in terms of depth of plot and character), and all the money being shown on the screen, John McClane has risen to the ranks of one of the greatest Action Heroes of all time.

In celebration to this glorious achievement of film making, from some left-as-hell field from Len Wisemen (how the HELL did he go from Underworld: This Thing Is Crap, to this?) I’m now going to post the ultimate DIE HARD tribute: DIE HARD by Guyz Nite