Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

The Twin Swords (1965)

The Twin Swords [鴛鴦劍俠] (1965)

Starring Chin Ping, Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Tien Feng, Cheng Miu, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Kao Pao Shu, Lam Jing, Lee Wan Chung, Wong Ching Ho, Wong Yeuk Ping

Directed by Sui Jang Hung

Expectations: Low. The first film was OK, I don’t expect this will be too much different. I have heard it is better though.


This is more like it. I hope you like martial arts fantasy movies, because The Twin Swords packs lots of imaginative fun into its compact runtime. Starting off with the final scene from Temple of the Red Lotus, our heroes Jimmy Wang Yu and Chin Ping battle through the villainous scoundrels of the Red Lotus clan. They are once again saved by the quick darts of the Scarlet Maid, but the forces of evil are not known for resting on their laurels. They quickly concoct a plan to lure our heroes and their twin swords straight into the Red Lotus temple, which has been newly retrofitted with tons of lethal traps!

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December 8, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Action, Fantasy, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ghost Warrior (1986)

Ghost Warrior (1986)
AKA Swordkill

Starring Hiroshi Fujioka, John Calvin, Janet Julian, Charles Lampkin, Frank Schuller, Bill Morey, Andy Wood, Robert Kino

Directed by J. Larry Carroll

Expectations: Low. The concept is great, but I don’t wanna get my hopes up.


 

Forget everything you know about physics and medical science and get ready for a pretty serious little movie about a frozen samurai. Yes, you read that right I said serious and frozen samurai in the same sentence. Admittedly, when I heard the premise for this film, I simultaneously squealed and cringed, as something this good has an ultimate potential to disappoint. Surprisingly, that’s not the case though as Ghost Warrior is one very enjoyable film.

Ghost Warrior is about an ancient samurai named Yoshimitsu who falls in battle in the 1500s, landing in an icy lake at the moment of his death. Through some simple twist of fate his body is preserved until the 1980s when two skiers happen into an ice cave and notice a hand frozen in a stalagmite. The body is rushed to the California Cryonics Institute where the scientists are tasked with performing an autopsy on this rare and important anthropological discovery. The head honcho has another plan though… to bring the ancient warrior back to life!

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November 2, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Drama, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Troll (1986)

Troll (1986)

Starring Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Sonny Bono, Shelley Hack, Phil Fondacaro, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Sandy

Directed by John Carl Buechler

Expectations: Moderate.


There’s a lot of films that are just plain bad. There are a few though that can transcend the steamy birthing pit of awful and become something truly enjoyable. Troll is one such film and it was a distinct pleasure to watch. I felt like the stars had aligned, the tides had synchronized, the rubber band at the crux of the universe had been perfectly tightened. I locked into the Troll mythos and never looked back. This is truly one of the crowning gems of the Empire International catalog.

Troll tells the story of a family moving into a new apartment building. Upon their arrival the young daughter of the clan explores the downstairs laundry room and is accosted by a troll! The troll assumes control of her body and takes her place amongst the family. Immediately it is obvious that she has changed, as she ravenously tears into an open-faced hamburger and then wigs out with the thrill of consuming meat and runs around the entire building screaming, “Ratburgers!” The troll continues its rampage throughout the film, slowly taking over the entire building, one apartment at a time.

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October 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Fantasy, Horror, Kids, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tai Chi Master (1993)

Tai Chi Master [太極張三豐] (1993)

Starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Chin Siu Ho, Fennie Yuen, Yuen Cheung Yan, Lau Shun, Yu Hai, Sun Jian Kui

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping

Expectations: High. Haven’t seen this one in years and remember really liking it.


We’re doing something different with this review. I won JP’s DVD comment contest and he let me pick any DVD or Blu-Ray I wanted. Oh, the possibilities! I ended up deciding on this film and I’m glad I did. In honor of this awesome gesture, my review will be featured exclusively on JP’s website, complete with neato video clips from the film selected by yours truly. So what are you waiting for?

Head over there now and check out the review!

September 11, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994)

Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Stacie Randall, Ty Miller, Teri Ivens, Mark Arnold, Clabe Hartley, Alan Oppenheimer, Lochlyn Munro, Jeff Moldovan, Stephen Macht

Directed by David Nutter

Expectations: Moderate.


When we left Jack Deth in Trancers 4, he had just vanquished the Trancer leader, Lord Caliban. All was set right in the alternate dimension of Orpheus and Jack could sit back knowing he saved not only his own dimension, but his new one as well. Trancers 5 informs new viewers of the previous events with a quick retelling featuring hilarious narration. At the culmination of this, the screen literally rips apart and Trancers 5 begins in earnest with the Tunnel Rats’ action-packed, swashbuckling assault on Caliban’s castle. Damn! That’s the way you start a movie!

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August 24, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Fantasy, Good Trash, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994)

Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994)
AKA Trancers 4: Journeys Through the Darkzone

Starring Tim Thomerson, Stacie Randall, Ty Miller, Teri Ivens, Mark Arnold, Clabe Hartley, Alan Oppenheimer, Lochlyn Munro, Jeff Moldovan, Stephen Macht

Directed by David Nutter

Expectations: Moderate.


Trancers 4 dispenses with most of the series conventions you’re familiar with and places Jack Deth in an entirely new setting, a medieval, Robin Hood-style era of all things. Surprisingly, it works well and makes Trancers 4 very enjoyable for fans of the series. Jack has become the true definition of a time cop, wiping out disturbances as they come up, jumping back in time and killing them at their source. Through narration we learn that Jack actually wiped out all of the Trancers throughout time, so he’s busy helping out with other problems such as Jack’s recently completed mission to kill the Solenoids, a race of vicious plant creatures. Soon, Jack is given another mission, but a Solenoid stowaway jumps him and the timepod rockets off-course. This Solenoid looks great and it’s a shame he only gets a minute or so of screen time.

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August 17, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Fantasy, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mini-Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Extremely low.


I normally would have avoided this but for some unexplained reason I decided to give it a go. I’m a fan of the original Alice story and I was curious to see how Tim Burton would film it, but the ridiculous amount of CG told me to steer clear. Burton’s later work for me has been fairly hit or miss, so I didn’t go into this with any expectations that I would enjoy this at any meaningful level. Like many things that your intuition tells you to avoid, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is definitely one to go into treading lightly.

I was intrigued quite a bit by the opening forty minutes or so. It was paced well and it was interesting to see how the older Alice reacted to the various things in Wonderland. The CG work is actually pretty good and lends the film an animated quality. That’s not to say that it isn’t excessive though. Virtually everything in the film is CG, including the horses that characters ride upon. Surprisingly the computer imagery is not my main beef with the film though. It’s Burton’s complete lack of emotion or energy with this film. If there’s ever been a guy that needs to take a few years off and reconnect with his passion, it’s Burton and this should be exhibit A. It’s lifeless and the plethora of CG doesn’t help. No thanks.

Oh, and it has what is probably Danny Elfman’s most tired, boring, passionless score as well. Maybe they were going for passionless as a motif?

August 13, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Fantasy, Kids, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ragewar (1985)

Ragewar (1985)
AKA “Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate” & “The Dungeonmaster”

Starring Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing, Phil Fondacaro, Anthony T. Genova III, Lonnie Hashimoto, Michael Steve Jones, Peter Kent, Paul Pape, Randy Popplewell, Felix Silla, W.A.S.P.

Directed by Dave Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko

Expectations: High. With a title like Ragewar, it’s hard not to have high hopes.


Did you ever wear an NES Power Glove when you were a kid and pretend you were pushing buttons on it, affecting the real world? Me too, and boy have I got a movie for you!

The film opens with a short dream sequence in which our hero finds himself slowly chasing after a woman in a red dress. He follows her into a room where she has disrobed and lies on a spotlighted bed. He goes in for a kiss, but shortly after, a bunch of Tusken Raider-like mutants bust through the door, punch him out and take the girl! This has no real bearing on the main story but it sets up the film nicely. Upon US release this scene was removed in order to secure a PG-13 rating and the title was changed to The Dungeonmaster to capitalize on the success of Dungeons and Dragons, despite having zero relation to the classic pen and paper RPG.

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July 16, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Fantasy, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Watch (2006)

Day Watch [Дневной дозор (Dnevnoy dozor)] (2006)

Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Dmitriy Martynov, Aleksei Chadov, Zhanna Friske

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Expectations: Low, based on my reaction to the first in the series.


Night Watch ended with some serious potential for this movie to be awesome. A fateful decision had been made and supposedly nothing will be the same. The balance has shifted and all that. The resulting film of Day Watch delivers on almost none of that promise though, instead providing you with lots of non-sensical scenes, a weird pseudo light-hearted mood and even worse pacing than the first.

This film is also based on the 1998 Sergei Lukyanenko novel entitled Night Watch, not its sequel novel Day Watch as you might think. The novel is broken into three parts, with the filmed Night Watch taking on part one and the filmed Day Watch taking on parts two and three. The problem with combining the parts is that it seems like they were written to be companion pieces, working together in a large sense but not in a strict plot point-to-point sense. So combining them results in a more confusing film than the first. I was on board for the first twenty minutes or so thinking that with the first film out of the way I would at least have a basic understanding built in for the sequel. That theory panned out for a short while before they starting jerking the wheel around and losing me again.

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July 3, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Fantasy, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 Star | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Night Watch (2004)

Night Watch [Ночной дозор (Nochnoi dozor)] (2004)

Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Dmitriy Martynov

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Expectations: High. I had heard great things.


I don’t know how big the Russian fantasy film genre is, but I’ve now seen my first. I wish I could come out and say, “Wow, that was amazing,” but unfortunately my response is a lot more tempered than I hoped it to be. This is a movie that doesn’t really know where it wants to go with itself and thus I was left confused. That’s not to say there’s nothing good here. In fact, there’s quite a bit that is fun to watch and works well. It’s these moments of fun that make the movie frustrating because they work as a sort of carrot on a stick being held out in front of you, driving you on, but you never get the carrot.

The film is based on a 1998 novel by Sergei Lukyanenko. I haven’t read it, but from what I understand, the novel is broken into three parts and this film is based only on the first part. Just judging from the basic ideas presented in the film, I can imagine that this book is pretty good. I’ll probably check it out at some point, so I hope that this story is better on the page. To try to briefly summarize the film’s murky narrative will be a challenge, but I will do my best.

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July 2, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Fantasy, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments