Archive for June, 2012

Get a slab of cheese and pop David A. Prior’s classic in the VHS…

Deadly Prey (1987)

 

 

A man is kidnapped by members of a private army to be hunted down and killed as part of their training. Unbeknownst to them he is an elite ex-marine who was trained by their leader Colonel John Hogan.

1986’s Deadly Prey directed by David A. Prior may have been made for adults but is more fun for teenagers who shouldn’t be watching. It’s reminiscent of many macho one-man-army, 80s Italian action B-films, borrowing heavily from Rambo First Blood and Commando. But it’s set in its own amusing world, in a jungle just South of LA.

Ted Prior is superb as Mike Danton, part Dolph Lundgren, part Christian Bale – all rock band mullet, he is perfectly cast as the military one-man killing machine. Danton takes on a tank, Danton beats a man using a severed arm, Danton builds deadly traps, camouflage Danton pops out of the ground, Danton wields a knives and a machete, Danton fires guns… Lots of guns, Danton eats worms and rats. You get the idea. All the action is accompanied by a beating surprisingly likable score.

Curiously veteran actors Troy Donahue and Cameron Mitchell cameo. Dawn Abraham as Sybil encapsulates that 1980s femme fatale permed hair appeal. Sadly, delightful Suzanne Tara’s Jaimy Danton is Lt. Thornton’s (Fritz Matthews, also stunt co-ordinator sporting sunglasses) and Hogan’s (David Campbell) fodder.

The amazing thing about Deadly Prey is that it takes itself totally seriously, containing themes war, mercenaries, rape, Vietnam, survival to name a few. Ho
wever, there’s no getting away from the straight to video limitations which comes with the sound, special effects, acting, editing and all the script trappings you’d expect.

All it faults side, it is possibly the greatest piece of ridiculous entertaining fluff ever made and is truly one of those guilty pleasures. It really is so bad it’s good. Prior’s screenplay and Richard Connell’s story is actually quite good and like his Lost Platoon concept has inspired other film makers. What’s notable and arguably a narrative accident is its nihilistic tone, the end is bravely down beat cancelling out its own hammy existence.

Deadly Prey really is the epitome of an ’80s action flick I remember. The VHS should be placed in a museum for historic and cultural interest. It’s a must see, possibly the worst, yet, best crossbreed action film ever made.

Dust Devil (1992)

20120628-194315.jpg

A demonic seducing serial killer is on the lose in South Africa and a troubled cop sets about to separate fact from fiction to catch the killer.

Director Richard Stanley delivers a more refined, satisfying and rounded film than Hardware. Dust Devil (Final Cut) benefits from its predominantly South African location shoot, the interesting sweeping landscapes contain the dreamlike lasting atmosphere. Simon Boswell ‘s eerie haunting score coupled with Stanley’s visuals presents an exceptional experience.

There’s dark dusty rooms, windswept desert roads, canyons and dream sequences. A nod should goto Steven Chivers great cinematography. The scope of the screenplay is wider and more psychological than as physical, it’s less commercial and more art-house similar to Mulholland drive. There’s’ an interesting ambiguity to the characters and story created by Stanley.

There is a fine supporting cast. This is probably Chelsea Field’s best role and her South African accent is quite good, however, she is wooden at times. Oddly both Field’s and Robert Burke’s line delivery doesn’t always flow whether this is due to the actors chemistry or script it’s hard to tell. Burke’s exchanges aside he gives an excellent, mesmerising, creepy and imposing performance as the Dust Devil. Notable is Zakes Mokae (who sadly passed away in 2009), he is on fine form as investigator Ben Mukurob. Mokae also provides an interesting voice-over narration that adds to the films layers.

Although the pace maybe a little slow for the causal viewer there’s still exploding heads, body parts and the serial killer element to possibly appease. Despite the supernatural, rituals, witchcraft and mystic elements for the most part Dust Devil is fixed in reality reminiscent of Angel Heart and David Lynch’s works.

It’s a wonderfully shot, slow burning film containing symbolic themes – relationships, suicide and self destruction to name a few. If this appeals, Dust Devil will deliver for you.

20120628-194708.jpg

Crash and Burn (1990)
The year is 2030-something, a remote TV station has been infiltrated by a Synthoid, a Terminator-like robot who is programmed to kill those who oppose the tyrannical Unicom organization.
With B-film execution Crash and Burn steals some concept elements from Class of 1999, The Terminator, Robocop, Blade Runner and The Thing to name a few. Although it’s slow-paced there’s room for a gratuitous shower electrocution scene, shogun action and stop motion animation, anyone familiar with the studio offerings will appreciate the pace and tone. Oddly dubiously marketed as Robot Jox 2 or from the makers of Arena (don’t expect the fights of Arena or Jox) as it contains less than a minute of giant Robot action.
Director Charles Band (this generations Roger Corman) gives a little sci-fi flick that benefits from being filmed on location giving it an almost cinematic feel. The shadowy setting gives it some atmosphere with a dusty desert setting bookending the film and the Synthoid is menacing at times – realised by some surprisingly good practical special make-up effects. Despite borrowing music cues from Richard Band’s other Full Moon film scores the music is effective enough.
Lead Paul Ganus as Keen wields a shotgun well enough but he looks like he’s just walked off a Danielle Steele TV adaptation. Co-star Megan Ward as Arren gives a solid performance considering the sparse script. Supporting cast include Jack McGee and veteran actor Ralph Waite, Eva La Rue gives s physical performance (and like Ward went on to do bigger things). There’s also some genuinely humours lines from Bill Moseley as Quinn who ensures the title of the film is uttered in J.S. Cardone’s dialogue.
Even though Crash and Burn doesn’t pretend to be more than it is the casual viewer may be disappointed. All things considered, even with the future looking suspiciously like the 1980s, right down to the computer hardware, braces and hairdos it’s one of Full Moon’s better outings.

“There is very little involvement with the characters themselves…a generally good cast in cardboard roles.” – Variety

 
“An overblown B-movie…technically impressive but awfully portentous and as difficult to sit through as a Black Mass sung in Latin.” – Los Angeles Herald Examiner
 
“An empty bag of tricks whose production values and expensive trickers cannot disguise imaginative poverty.” – Time Out
 
“There’s not enough writing for proper characterisation, not enough plot development for the mind as well as the senses to bite on” – The Guardian
 
These are not Prometheus reviews but those for Alien (1979) also directed by Ridley Scott. I’m a huge fan of Alien and a fan of Prometheus, both have their flaws. Like it or not Ridley returned to the universe and the vision he created. If he had made it prequel like The Thing (2011) that lead right up to the events of the first film, it no doubt would have been dubbed a rehash and/or met criticism as did The Thing. Certain effects aside, I thought The Thing was a worthy prequel and complemented the original it was like watching the Titanic, you were watching ghosts. While it had surprises it was made by deconstruction of the original Thing and its events which as a fan I warmed to.
 
 
Prometheus is set in the same universe, the same world as the Aliens series but as it also stands alone. Prometheus is under discussion, dissection and criticism arguably more so than Alien ever was on its release possibly due to hype, anticipation and interest. But ‘Space truckers’ investigating an Alien ship, Kane examining an egg, the search for Jones while a dangerous little critter on the loose. It’s all science fiction, fiction the key word and entertaining imaginary tale to. Alien was also mocked for characterisation and lack of plot development and is now hailed as a classic.
 
Prometheus is what it is. It’s no use comparing the two. Both films could have opened with the lines “you know what, let’s not go down to that moon it could be dangerous.” They both have debatable flaws without which there wouldn’t be a story.
 
Prometheus raises questions but this adds to a tantalisingly unknown direction for Prometheus. It raised a lot of the debate and has a marmite effect. I’ve put together a Q and A to make the film palatable for some, dot some i’s and cross some t’s so to speak. Be warned there are spoilers.
 
When is Prometheus and Alien set?
Prometheus – Undisclosed date (opening) 2089 and 2093, Alien takes place in 2122.
 
Does this take place on LV-426, the planet from Alien and Aliens?
No, this is set on the moon LV-223.
 
Where in Prometheus did they say that this was LV-223?
The holographic pictogram shows a planetary system containing LV-223.
 
Was the ship from this film the one found in Alien?
No this ship is docked, again it is set on a different planet. The ship in Prometheus only crashes when it collides with the Prometheus, 30 years before the events in Alien. The ship in Alien landed on LV-223 and had been there enough time for the jockey to fossilize (thousands of years).
 
Is the Space Jockey from Alien in this?
No, the fossilized Jockey is not, but an ancient Space Jockey/ Engineer does (in the opening), in addition a living Jockey (awoken by the Prometheus crew) and 2000 year old fossilized remains.
 
Do the Alien or Face Hugger seen in Alien and Aliens appear?
No, but a variation which shares similarities do.
 
Is Meredith Vickers an android?
While her demeanour may suggest otherwise Vickers is not an android. She is no more android than Janek, Chance and Ravel could be. It has been stated by the creators she is not. It as ambiguous as Blade Runner’s Deckard . Even though Scott stated Deckard was a replicant, fan folk still debate the matter.
 
Why do Janek, Chance and Ravel crash the ship?
Janek tells Elizabeth Shaw that he will do anything to stop the Engineers. The pilots have nothing to lose from the time they left Earth, effectively on borrowed time. This is hinted when Meredith Vickers asks David if anyone died during the hyper sleep, substantiating that the crew knew they may not even reach LV-223 alive. Given Shaw’s convincing reasoning with Janek and their services background sacrifice for the greater good of mankind was not beyond possibility.
 
How old was Peter Weyland?
103, born in 1990 according to the viral videos.
 
How do Fifield and Milburn get lost?
Fifield being panicked, intoxicated and because “it all looks the same” he/they get lost because of the static electrical storm that Janek references is interfering with the equipment.
 
Why did the Engineers decide to destroy humans?
According to Sir Ridley Scott: “If you look at it as an ‘our children are misbehaving down there’ scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armour and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, Lets send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.”
 
Why does Milburn occupy himself with the Alien?
Milburn is a botanist, he’s just getting stuck in herpetologist Steve Irwin style.
 
How does David know there are more ships?
Other structures, the same as where the Space Jockey/ Engineer’s ship is concealed can been seen as they land in the Prometheus on LV-223.
 
What Did David Say to the Engineer?

 Scott removed translation (it works better dramatically). Apparently the line that David speaks to the Engineer is from a longer sequence that didn’t make the final edit. Dr. Anil Biltoo (who appears onscreen as the holographic linguistics teacher) of London’s SOAS Language Centre and taught Fassbender (David) how to speak in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language. Says: ‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’

David did as directed by Weyland. Engineer is infuriated.

Is that first planet in the prologue Earth?
Ridley Scott says: No, it doesn’t have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself.

Was David’s basketball toss a nod to Alien Resurrection?
Writer Lindelof says: Nothing is an accident in Prometheus. Every single decision that is made by Ridley Scott is made for a very specific reason and purpose.

What are the different effects of the Black Goo/Bio-Former?

  • Engineer + Goo + Water = Human life
  • Goo + Human = Human Mutant
  • Goo (ingested) + Intercourse = Giant squid/face hugger-like Trilobite
  • Trilobite + Engineer = Alien form (similar to that in the Alien Series)
  • Goo + Animal(worm)/Insect = Animal/Insect Mutant

Is Peter Weyland related to Charles Weyland and Bishop II, is there a link with Bishop?

  • Peter Weyland (Prometheus)is the founder and CEO of Weyland Corporation and is not related to Bishop II.
  • Bishop (Aliens/ Alien 3) is an android built by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
  • Bishop II (Alien 3) is the man who designed the Bishop Android.
  • Charles Weyland (AvP) is not linked in any way to Peter. The Alien Versus Predator film series is considered a spin-off and not canon to the Alien or Predator franchises.

Note: Although a debate among fans whether Bishop II is a real person or an Android filmmakers confirm he was indeed human. However, in some of the expanded Alien universe “Bishop II” is referred to as Michael Weyland, so if that’s the case he could be a great-nephew of Peter Weyland’s. (Peter Weyland mentions he didn’t have any sons, so unless he had daughters who kept his name, Michael Weyland would likely not be a direct descendant)

 
If you have any questions give me a shout and I’ll try to track down the answers. in the mean time my thoughs on Prometheus…
 
Prometheus (2012) Review
 
The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.
 
Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel.
 
This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.
 
It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.
 
The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.
 
Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh. That said, some character motivations need to be teased out by the viewer for clarification, not all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted.
 
The film took the Alien series in a direction I was not expecting. As a long-time fan of the Alien series, and with this new Prometheus course I can say I’m satisfied, it’s edge of your seat, gory-suspense – director Ridley Scott is on pretty good form.
 
Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.
 
Promethus Continues…
 

 
A viral campaign has become part and parcel to accompany a film these days. A rule of thumb though is that its viral campaign ends when a film opens. However, this is not the case with Prometheus…
 
Ridley Scott‘s started in advertising and he’s obviously played a big part in this little spin. After the end of the credits of Prometheus it features the Weyland logo with the date 11th October 2012. Then there popped up a website called What Is 10-11-12? This featured another viral video of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, who was sorely underused in the film) after this short vid directed by Scott’s son a link appears to http://www.weylandindustries.com/timeline
which seems to be the first part of several chronicling the history of the Weyland company.
 

Is this date setting up an announcement at Comic Con or just a novel way to plug the DVD/Blu-ray release? Only time will tell, but with Prometheus being a financial success and rousing lots of debate amongst fans, a sequel seems somewhat inevitable.

20120618-174743.jpg
Nothing like a child’s horror to cheer you up. It’s 1910 Paris, a bungling delivery man and his friend create a monster accidentally from a flea, but the over-sized flea has talent for music which is as famous as his unjust monster reputation.

Monster in Paris takes a lot of chances with the narrative and pacing that larger studios wouldn’t attempt. The computer animation is excellently done, cute and stylistic. Vanessa Paradis is note worthy bringing Lucille to life wonderfully. It’s darker parts are reminiscent of Tim Burton’s outings, that said, it’s fresh Parisian fun, with catchy songs, and a witty script to match.

It’s slightly off beat and doesn’t dot all the i’s and cross the t’s story wise but this is what makes it so appealing.

20120618-173531.jpg

A disgraced former CIA agent Tobin Frost hands himself over to avoid being killed in Africa where he is taken to a Safe House for questioning over seen by an unproven agent Matt Weston. However, when the Safe House is compromised, the rookie questions who he can trust and they both embark on a dangerous journey.

There are great performances all round in this well cast thriller. Ryan Reynolds is partially good as the dedicated inexperienced C.I.A agent. He plays Weston straight exclusive of any wise cracks. Denzel Washington is on form as Frost, a shady captivate in a role that emotes likability and doubt reminiscent of his Oscar wining performance in Training Day (2001). Robert Patrick, Brendan Gleeson and the rest of the cast are great in their supporting roles. Vera Farmiga mirrors her Source Code role and Sam Shepard gives a weighty routine.

While Safe House is well made, entertaining and finely acted it’s a predicable ride. Written by David Guggenheim his dialogue is in good health but if you’ve seen Killer Elite, Training Day, Safe, Salt or Bourne to name a few the story delivers a standard affair. Daniel Espinosa direction is noteworthy, the African setting and set pieces are realistic, hard hitting and gritty, the stunts are superb. There’s double crossings, crooked operatives and it asks a few questions about government administrations.

Overall, an entertaining ride with fine performances, it’s only hampered by the less than fresh story.



When the writer of the source material in this case Nightbreed delivers their own screenplay, based on their own novel, having already proved their worth as a writer/director you’d expect some favourable results. However, as with Bladerunner, Alien 3, Mimic to name a few the studio knows best eh?

Clive Barker’s original version ran two-and-a-half hours and film studio asked for almost an hour to be cut prompting editor Richard Marden to leave in protest. With its release delayed Nightbreed was cut to two hours and then again to 102 minutes, hitting the cinemas in 1990.

It’s clear that the studio did not understand what they had and promoted it poorly with posters that misinterpreted the content, essentially marketing Nightbreed as a slasher film and not the fantasy and horror it is.

Time passed and its following grew… A distinguished cobbled together extended 159-minute cut version was unearthed and premiered on March 27, 2010. This version adds almost all the footage that was cut from the theatrical release. Then in early 2012 a Derby University lecturer Russell Cherrington created a composite cut of the film which runs at 155 minutes long and premiered March 2012. Although the presentation is not pristine there is hope Nightbreed may be resurrected offically as the aforementioned films were. The original cut footage is readily accessible but studio executive have said that there was not a big enough audience to warrant spending money on an extended cut of the film (will studio’s ever learn?)

So support the manufacture of an official directors cut here Meanwhile, here’s a few thoughts on the Theatrical version.

Nightbreed (1990)

A city of mutant, monster, outcasts attempt to escape the attention of a psychotic serial killer and vigilantes with the help of a troubled man.

Based on Clive Barker’s own novel Cabal, Nightbreed has a nightmarish feel with memorable ingraining visuals. However, its Americanized, MTV generation elements dilute its credibly as a classic but cements its cult status which retains its die-hard following.

Nevertheless, it feels underdeveloped (no doubt due to lack of understanding by the studio and their changes). The contrast in setting between the urban environment and the underground graveyard city Midian is an edgy variation reminiscent of the naturalist house in Hellraiser against the fantasy/horror elements. This eerie contrast is Nightbreeds biggest strength.

It has plenty of talent on board notably Danny Elfman (music score) and Barker himself as a director. It also includes Doug Bradley (Hellraiser’s Pinhead) and a cameo performance by director David Cronenberg. The performances are a mixed bag, that said the mutant supporting cast are great.

The ominous dreamlike quality and super make-up is immersible and overall Nightbreed is an intriguing ambiguous tale of fantasy horror that’s crying out for a director’s cut.


A professor in the business of disproving the existence of ghosts receives an invitation to investigate the alleged haunting at Edbrook House and embarks on chilling journey of discovery.

Based on James Herbert’s 1988 novel Haunted and the character of David Ash who appears in several of Herberts books this is a old fashion ghost story directed by veteran director Lewis Gilbert. Without drawing comparisons/differences to the book Timothy Prager, Bob Kellett and Lewis Gilbert’s adaptation is creepy enough and at the time of its release the twist was still pretty fresh. Nevertheless, it shares many elements with The Woman in Black novel/film and The Others (2001) based on The Turn of the Screw (1898) to name a few.

The few effects are sufficient but it works better when practical and old fashion camera tricks are used. Due to the period setting it is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Poirot/ Miss Marple outing but this adds to the charm of Gilberts vision. The film is wonderfully shot, exteriors, internal sets of Edbrook House, cottages, train stations and outhouse are nicely recreated/utilised. There is a crisp bygone British ambiance which add to the 1928 backdrop and makes the ghostly goings-on more palatable.

Given the small main cast ensemble it’s an achievement it retains the viewers attention throughout. The film presents David Ash with a clean-cut image that Aidan Quinn executes with ease. The interaction with his sister is heart-warming and his decent into the supernatural or madness is subtlety convincing. Christina Mariell played by Kate Beckinsale handles the range of immaturity, sensuality and manipulation fittingly. Beckinsale is on put on show here, naked portraits, love making and skinny dipping – surprisingly it avoids gratuitousness thanks to the filming, performance and the tales framework. Both brothers are adequately portrayed with Anthony Andrews having an edge over his co-star Alex Lowe who delivers the jump scares . Notable are actors John Gielgud’s Dr. Doyle and Anna Massey who in retrospect both emote some perfect reactions given the context of the ominous story.

Haunted delivers some chilling moments but not enough investigation and too many false scares. That said, it’s an entertaining traditional ghost yarn with a touch of class.

A viral campaign has become part and parcel to accompany a film these days. A rule of thumb though is that its viral campaign ends when a film opens. However, this is not the case with Prometheus…

Ridley Scott‘s started in advertising and he’s obviously played a big part in this little spin. After the end of the credits of Prometheus it features the Weyland logo with the date 11th October 2012. Then there popped up a website called What Is 10-11-12? This featured another viral video of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, who was sorely underused in the film) after this short vid directed by Scott’s son a link appears to http://www.weylandindustries.com/timeline which seems to be the first part of several chronicling the history of the Weyland company.

Is this date setting up an announcement at Comic Con or just a novel way to plug the DVD/Blu-ray release? Only time will tell, but with Prometheus being a financial success and rousing lots of debate amongst fans, a sequel seems somewhat inevitable.

Dubbed a Bruce Willis clone, Jason Statham former French Connection model was born 12 September 1967 and came into the limelight in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. I don’t believe anyone could have predicted that football fan, cockney sparrow Statham would go on to be the next Hollywood action star. That said, the amount of dedication to his physic and skills he fully deserves the title.

Although he’s starred in some unsatisfying flicks – it’s usually the production that’s the problem, Ghosts of Mars, The One, The Bank Job and remake The Italian Job were all muddled in tone. In Name of the King, a star studded cast but that no amount of talent could redeem. There’s nice cameo in Collateral and The Expendables was a well received blockbuster. And Cellular (2004) is arguably underrated. Transporter, Death Race (remake) and Crank are notable in their own right, it’s just a pity the sequels didn’t deliver the goods.

Statham has showed he’s not a one trick pony either and while not Oscar wining he’s not a bad actor, for example take his lesser well received but excellently made Killer Elite and Revolver .

As a tribute to the man who shrugged off Kelly Brook and cracked on with things (a testament to his character) with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley here’s a few thoughts on a handful of his outings.

Safe (2012)
Ex-cop and cage-fighter after his wife is killed contemplates ending it all. However, a chance meeting with a little girl holding information for the mob allows him a chance of redemption.

After Jason Statham’s weighty and drama driven performance in Killer Elite (2011) he returns to familiar Transporter style force in this action packed tale. Director/writer Boaz Yakin knows how to deliver high-octane action and his lead has perfected high kick and punches in his sleep. Like many on location shot films it makes everything more palatable and the Safe certainly has a budget.

It’s violent and bloody, despite being packed with clichés corrupt cops, Russian Mafia and Yakuza it’s fresh enough to remain entertaining. Concept wise it is reminiscent of Mercy Rising (1998) but where as Willis’ outing failed to deliver the Safe surpasses expectations being a bar above the average action flick. There’s a Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing play off against each crime syndicate but it all adds to the entertainment.

Notable is the ever reliable James Hong and Anson Mount gives a menacing, memorable performance as Alex. Chris Sarandon as the Mayor deserves a mention along with bent cop Captain Wolf played by Robert John Burke redeeming himself after Robocop 3. Although the relationship between the young girl Mei played adequately by Catherine Chan and Statham’s Luke Wright isn’t fully explored no doubt to avoid comparisons with Leon (1994) there’s enough emotion to make you care for the characters.

Statham is on form and overall the Safe is an engaging entertaining action film worthy of mention.

Killer Elite (2011)

One of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service is forced out of retirement to undertake one last mission but soon finds he is a pawn in a bigger game.

What maybe deemed at glance as just another action film turns out to be a multi- layered action, drama and true story. It comes with a few twists and doubling crossings. There’s a fair share of shootings, fights, explosions and stabbings but director Gary McKendry handles the scenes in a realistic fashion, possible best described as a mix of Patriot Games, Syrina and Munich with the action similar to Bourne. Killer Elite is a very hard hitting violent drama set within 1980s.

The 80s backdrop and globetrotting on location filming gives the film creditability. Due to the source material and some interesting griping writing by Matt Sherring the characters are all shades of grey which adds to the appeal. This action thriller benefits from some big named actors giving their best and most subtle performances. Jason Statham is perfectly cast as Hunter’s (Robert De Niro) protégé Danny. Notable is Clive Owen in a solid supporting role and an almost unrecognisable Dominic Purcell gives an award deserving performance.

Killer Elite is an underrated ex-special ops story that highlights some of the shady dealings of countries governments and mercenaries. Highly recommend.

The Mechanic (2011)

An assassin’s abilities are tested when he takes on an apprentice, but things get complicated when he finds he’s been used on his last job.

Entertaining assassin/mentor yarn which tries to avoid clichés. Donald Sutherland puts in a welcomed cameo but is missed throughout the rest of the film. Jason Statham is hit man Arthur Bishop, while he can do these roles action roles blind folded Statham is subtler and more complex than most previous parts he’s played. Ben Foster gives a hard hitting performance giving an edginess and weight to the character of Steve McKenna and corporate bad guy Tony Goldwyn is notable.

Some logic aside the Mechanic stands head and shoulders above the mass of recent cheap and big budget flicks due to it’s 1973 source material, smart writing and Simon West’s gritty direction. The wonderful locations give it an air of realism and the soundtrack complements the setups.

With some thought out character development, twists and well executed action scenes it’s a pleasing above average hit-man thriller.

Revolver (2005)

A revenge-seeking trickster guarantees victory when a confidence trick is applied to any game of wits. However, he’s running out of time as could be ‘rubbed out’ by the corrupt casino boss first.

Don’t expect a rehash, the humour or the structure of Mr Ritchie’s earlier films Lock Stock and Snatch. This is Ritchie’s Mulholland Drive. This film makes more sense on a second viewing or when you’re satisfied what this 115 minute marvel has given you for your cash. This film is not for a lazy audience. And while the style of filming or the story is not entirely original the way the film is put together is.

If you’ve seen it and think Zach (Vince Pastore) and Avi (André Benjamin) aren’t real or that Mr Jake Green (Jason Statham) is Mr Gold you may want sit down, watch the movie again and rethink your move. Or stick with what you originally thought. Whether it’s taken as it’s about symbolism, psyche, mysticism or take it at face value the themes are greed, tackling fear and egos to name a few. It’s up to the viewer to decide and it can be interpreted differently each time it’s reviewed. All the loose ends are tied up however you take it – just dig deeper. That said, admittedly this may put off the casual viewer who want a straight forward gangster flick.

The acting and whole production is above average. It has a strong cast ensemble, great dialogue, acting and locations. The music and colour scheme add to the retro surreal feel and set the mood in each scene. The end product is fantastic and not pretentious.

This film could be destined for a future large fan following.

A bold move for Ritchie.