Project Power (dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2020) – A new pill on the market lets loose uncontrolled superpowers on the streets, where a dealer, a cop and a veteran attempt to stop its creators.
NOPD officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets the timer on his watch and pops the pill. For the next five minutes, he is bullet proof, a power that vanishes soon as the timer beeps. These are the precise rules that govern Project Power, a film that offers special abilities in well-timed short bursts – to just about anyone on the streets.
The catch? From cyro to pyrokinesis, there is no telling what ability one is going to get. As Machine Gun Kelly’s unfortunate dealer proves, most suffer uncontrolled surges that ultimately prove fatal, driving Frank’s determination to take down the source.
Continue reading Movie Review: Project Power (2020)
Chicuarotes (dir. Gael García Bernal, 2019) – In a bid to escape poverty, two youths become involved in increasingly dangerous crimes.
Aboard a public bus, Cagalera (Benny Emmanuel) and Moloteco (Gabriel Carbajal) launch into an unsolicited comedy show, putting forth their best face paint and puns. “We would rather do this than to be criminals or thugs,” the teenagers proclaim.
But when their act fail to make a cent from their indifferent audience, they instantly give up their idea of an honest living. Turning to the alternative they had denounced only seconds ago, they rob the now rapt passengers at gunpoint.
The excellent opening scene in Chicuarotes makes it clear that the pair’s petty crimes are destined to escalate in severity and not wit, out of their desperation to leave the poorer suburbs. There would be no lavish scheme for their attempt to graduate from rags to riches, only the thoughtless ploys and poor decisions of two reckless youths.
Continue reading Movie Review: Chicuarotes (2019)
Da 5 Bloods (dir. Spike Lee, 2020) – Four veterans return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen friend and the gold he helped them hide.
Most of us would be hard-pressed to name a single war movie that plays out through the eyes of black soldiers. When present at all, they are often relegated to the roles of minor characters. Yet in reality, they formed more than a quarter of American troops who fought in the Vietnam war, despite being just 11% of the US population.
The disproportionate casting is an issue that goes beyond the lack of minority representation in Hollywood. It is also the erasure of their experiences and perspectives, leaving behind an incomplete and hence inaccurate reflection of history.
Continue reading Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)
City on Fire / Lung Foo Fung Wan (dir. Ringo Lam, 1987) – Ko Chow goes on his last mission as an undercover, but rouses the suspicion the gang he infiltrated.
Just one year after John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow, the late Ringo Lam made his own cinematic mark with the release of City on Fire. His film is now recognised for its major influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, which infamously pilfered its classic heist set-up and the iconic stand-off.
After finally seeing the alleged original, I am convinced that the accusations are completely unfounded and made by mad men who had seen neither. Dwelling on the similarities between shots is not merely a reductive call. It also does disservice to both films, each with its own distinctive voice to offer.
Continue reading Movie Review: City on Fire (1987)
A Better Tomorrow / Ying Hung Boon Sik (dir. John Woo, 1986) – An ex-triad member breaks away from his former life, while attempting to reconcile with his brother in the police force.
Modern action cinema thrives on bone-crushing carnage and limitless bullets. Gareth Evans can tell you that much. But back in 1986, the violence in A Better Tomorrow had once been responsible for riling up a conservative audience so much, a tiered movie rating system was born because of it.
This notoriety almost overshadows its compelling story, which proves much more than an excuse for brutality. Ex-triad member Tse Ho (Ti Lung) is attempting to step back on the right path after three years in prison, despite a cop brother Kit (Leslie Cheung) who doesn’t believe in his will to change and the relentless shadow of his past.
Continue reading Movie Review: A Better Tomorrow (1986)
The Last Days of American Crime (dir. Olivier Megaton, 2020) – As a final response to rampant crime in the country, the US government plans to broadcast a signal that makes unlawful acts impossible to commit.
Set in the near future, the US government plans to implement the American Peace Initiative nationwide. The fancily named API is essentially a neural blocker, which will send a signal to the brain of any citizen attempting to commit a crime.
Picture A Clockwork Orange, but scrap any intent for social commentary. In fact, scrap logic, wit and plot till there is nothing left but the bare bones of the sci-fi concept. Now, the stage is set. Enter the villains.
Out to game the system is Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), the unstable son of a crime lord. He has in mind America’s final heist before API comes into play – for the sole sake of proving his worth to his father. Career criminal Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) jumps in to help despite the absence of a real plan, not before falling in love with Cash’s fiancé Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster).
Continue reading Movie Review: The Last Days of American Crime (2020)