Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blacula (1972)

Blacula (USA, 1972) - Color, Director(s): William Crain
MPAA Rating: PG
[UK: 15]
Approx. 93 min.

Z-rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 4 out of 5 stars

Blacula!!!! Dracula's soul brother... or so the tagline says. Blacula is one of those cheesy classics that any self-respecting cinema buff has to have seen at least once. The film opens with negotiations between Count Dracula and an African Prince regarding the slave trade. Dracula turns out to be a racist douche who, instead of helping in any way, insults the African Prince Mamuwalde and curses him in his image. Locked in a coffin while his wife is enslaved, Blacula is imprisoned in his casket until it's purchased and delivered to L.A. in 1972. After breaking free and biting the two idiots that opened his coffin, he happens upon a beautiful girl at the funeral named Tina who seems to be his wife reincarnated. A suspicious doctor offers to assist in the case after inspecting one of the bodies and finding it completely drained of blood. Blacula goes around biting some other people and turning them into vampires while trying to win his ex-wife back. Thinking they know where his coffin is, they converge on him at an old warehouse which has become a vampire nest. Unfortunately for these guys, Blacula moved his coffin and they now must work to find out where. Needless to say, he eventually lures Tina out but she's killed when the police try to stop Blacula. In a desperate attempt to save the love of his life, he bites her neck and turns her into a vampire. While resting in a coffin, she takes a stake through the heart and is killed before Blacula has a chance to stop it from happening. Unable to deal with the loss of his wife for the third time... he climbs up to the roof, only to be destroyed by the sun.

I know, I gave away the ending. OH NO!!!! Well, if you couldn't see that one coming... then you're a fool. What I liked best about this movie was the way it ended. From the beginning of the movie, Blacula never wanted to be a vampire and kill people. All he really wanted was just to be with his love. In fact, Blacula was the real victim in this movie since all he was trying to do was save his people when he was turned. Once the love of his life (or lives) is killed, he sees no point in going on... unlike that selfish prick Dracula. Blacula was a totally righteous vampire who had no intention of spreading his plague on the world. That's what I respect most about him. The first to nab Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards, Blacula spawned a sequel and inspired a slew of blaxploitation/horror films to follow.

Nudity: None that I can remember.

Gore: Not much in the way of gore. This movie didn't seem like it had much of a budget to blow on special effects.

Awesome: Pretty. There were some good parts in this movie although I would say that it was pretty mediocre overall. The vampires don't explode or melt in anyway when sunlight hits them, they just kinda collapse to the floor after a lackluster convulsion session. In one scene though, they used oil lamps as Molotov cocktails to set vampires ablaze while raiding the nest for Blacula's coffin. (Pretty bad ass right there!) Though my favorite overall scene has to be the thawing and subsequent slow motion charge that a cabbie-turned-vampire makes at a morgue worker, who was foolish enough to leave the door to the room unlocked.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Horror Intermission

Z-portal needs a little time to catch up with reviews for Black History Month, so check out these new horror reviews in the meantime...

The Rite (2011)

The Rite (USA, 2011) - Color, Director(s): Mikael Håfström
MPAA Rating: PG-13
[UK: 15]
Approx. 114 min.

Z-rating: 2 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 2 out of 5 stars

This film begins with a mortician who apples for seminary school to escape his bleak future. Struggling with his beliefs, we see him nearly graduate before he writes an email to his superiors concerning his lack of faith. In an effort to have him reconsider, he is sent off to Rome to take a few courses in exorcism from the Vatican. Offering nothing but hard-headed logic and arguments back by silly scientific evidence, the priest decide to send him to some "radical" by the name of Father Lucas. After sitting through a few of Lucas' exorcisms, he was still unconvinced of his faith even after the girl exhibits knowledge of things she couldn't have known and other obvious signs of demonic possession. Still unconvinced, he questions Father Lucas and his methods until one day when Lucas himself becomes possessed. Finally convinced that all the crazy shit happening around him is real, he goes to exorcise Father Lucas.... without a real priest(!) accompanied only by a random journalist.

This film takes a realistic approach to the exorcism movie but falls flat even when compared to The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I can appreciate all the little in-jokes referencing The Exorcist, but what I found strange were the odd attempts at humor even when the tone of the movie was supposed to be serious. (Lucas takes a call on his cell during an exorcism)  Thankfully, there were a few creepy scenes but they were far and few between to even matter. The saving grace (sorry) of this film was Anthony Hopkins who gave a fantastic performance as Father Lucas, although I can't honestly say I've ever seen him in a movie I didn't like. There's a scene where this random bicyclist who gets hit by a car and asks our main priest to bless her before she dies. He repeats a prayer over her even though he isn't a full priest yet. I thought they were going to tie this back in somewhere, but in the end, they weren't really able to tie it all back together to make a satisfying movie. I felt like there were some loose ends that could've been tied in and some of the scenes could've had more realistic reactions. (He walks back into his room to find it infested with frogs and he just bounces out and gets a shitty motel room. Really? Then when he doesn't find the priest he's looking for, he just goes it alone even though he's a little unsure of his faith. Seriously?)

Nudity: None.

Gore: Very minimal. The goriest thing in this movie was probably the photos they show during the exorcism class.

Awesome: Despite there being a few legitimate scenes of actual creepiness, the overall movie was dull, predictable, and ultimately unsatisfying. I think it felt more like a movie that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a realistic or supernatural horror movie. I can see this movie being played on TBS or TNT in future and everyone would have seen it on TV.

Hatchet II (2010)

Hatchet II (USA, 2010) - Color, Director(s): Adam Green
MPAA Rating: UR
Approx. 89 min.

Z-rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 4 out of 5 stars

At last!!! I've been waiting since October to review this movie, I was hoping that it would get a release at one of the smaller theaters here in the city but no luck. Finally, I couldn't wait any longer and bought the DVD. I absolutely LOVED the original, how bad could a sequel be? This wasn't a terrible movie but the special effects looked way more low budget than the first. In fact, this movie as a whole seemed way more ridiculously over-the-top than the first one did. (it felt more like it was a parody of the original in some ways)

Picking up right where the first one left off, we see that Marybeth (the final girl from the original) now looks like Danielle Harris and good old Victor Crowley looks more like a Power Rangers monster than he did in the first. No matter, she struggles to get away when she's pulled out of swamp by Jack Cracker or Cracker Jack... whatever his name is. Originally attempting to be helpful, he turns hostile when he finds out who she is but remains vague and mysterious about his reasons for throwing her out of his house. (the acting has definitely gone downhill as well in this sequel)  Of course, once she's outta the house.... Crowley comes outta left field and slaughters good old Cracker Jack by ripping out his intestines and not only strangles him with them, he pops his head off(?) with them in a completely ridiculous scene reminiscent of ones you would find riddled throughout a film by a certain independent film studios responsible for such dime a dozen trash pics like Terror Firmer and the more recent, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Before you can shout "Troma", we see a guest appearance by none other than Lloyd Kaufman as one of the hunters that walk out on the proposition by Reverend Zombie, played charismatically by Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead) who is always a pleasure to watch. The idea is a bring a bunch of the best hunters with him into the Louisiana bayou to "retrieve his boat" and hunt Victor Crowley while they're in there. Undoubtedly, they have an inevitable run-in with the psychotic killer where he gets to slaughter masses of the young folks in his backyard.

The first thing I have to say is that I absolutely LOVE the reference to the movie Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I squealed with delight and might've even peed my pants a little when I heard it. (giggles) The strangest thing I find about the movie is that, despite having a bigger budget than he did with the original, this sequel feels a lot lower budget than the first. The first film had a ton of splatter effects that looked kinda real but this one went ridiculously over-the-top. These effects looked more like a cross between Japanese splatter films and Troma studio's low budget schlock. Either way, it was an enjoyable sequel that I would recommend people wait for on Netflix rather than buying your own copy right away like I did. Anyone who is looking for more of the original will be disappointed because this one totally goes the B-movie route and never comes back. (even uses some stock sound effects when people are being killed)  Luckily for me, I love B-movies so I still enjoyed the film. I would just be sure to know what I'm getting into before I go and buy this film. All-in-all, still a pretty good movie but not as good as the original.

Nudity: Plenty. Are you serious? A slasher film without nudity would be missing a major ingredient in the formula. Not that it can't be done, just that it would be missing the point. The slasher genre rose out of the audiences' love for seeing certain things on the big screen, particularly naked teens getting hacked to bit by hulking masked maniacs.

Gore: 4 out of 5 stars. For quantity, not quality. This was a splatter film and splatter it did. Jaws getting ripped out, faces getting hacked off, decapitations galore!!! Problem is, it all looks hokey and is used more like sight gags to make us laugh rather than be scary at all.

Awesome: Very. Even though the effects don't look as good as the first one, they went for all-out balls to the walls entertainment and, in my opinion, they succeeded. I thought this movie was a throwback to more of the slasher genre as a whole, including more recent ones like Leslie Vernon. Tony Todd was awesome, as usual, and Danielle Harris just cried a lot. (tits might've helped her performance... what?? why do a shower scene at all then? I'm just saying....)  Looked like a fun movie to be a part of but kind of a "you had to be there" deal.

Triangle (2009)

Triangle (UK, 2009) - Color, Director(s): Christopher Smith
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 99 min.

Z-rating: 4 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 1 out of 5 stars

This British horror sees a group of friends out sailing when they happen into the Bermuda Triangle. They get a crazy distress call before losing all radio contact and suddenly a giant ship comes out of the fog for them to hop aboard just as their boat capsizes. Coincidence? Who knows. They just keep wandering the seemingly empty cruise ship in search of other people when something strange begins to happen. This one woman finds her house keys on the boat that she's supposedly never been on before. Strange? Just a little bit. They all separate when suddenly, one of friends is shot and accuses her of being the shooter. Yeah, the shit really hits the fans now as we have landed right in the middle of some Twilight Zone shit and people are getting killed off left and right with all signs point to her as the killer. Could there be another person on this boat? Maybe it's a shapeshifter of some sort, anything can happen in the Bermuda Triangle... or maybe she's just gone a little stir crazy?

Let me get something straight first off, I am TERRIFIED of the ocean and scared to death of boats. These kinds of movies always messed with me as a kid. So I just have to say that even though the plot might be a little convoluted at times, if you wait for it to all tie-in at the end, there are some genuinely creepy moments despite a few holes in the story. You guys have to be patient because it's definitely a slow-burn type of movie that you have to sit and pay attention to as it unfolds slowly. How could I ever begin to explain what this movie was about? How would I describe this movie? Creepy, twisted, disturbing? Even if I could find the right words to describe this movie, I wouldn't want to give it away. Check it out, starring that chick from 30 Days of Night and Dark City, Melissa George. She just wants to get off this crazy ass ship and get back to her son. Little did she know, sailing into the Bermuda Triangle was like entering a portal into the Twilight Zone and other unknown dimensions. A very well done effort by Christopher Smith who directed other films like Severance and Creep.

Nudity: None.

Gore: 2 out 5 stars. Some people get blasted with a shotgun and another guy has a hole in the back of his head. Other than that, the gore was relatively tame.

Awesome: Very. I love the idea behind this movie and, if you're patient enough, you'll appreciate the insanely twisted story too. Better to go into this film not knowing anything, I was going to post the trailer up with my review but then I realized how much the trailer showed. Probably better if you just go in with limited knowledge of the film and watch it because you'll notice something new every time you see the film. Definitely slow burn.... definitely worth the wait.

Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day 2011

And so, the day is here, where we rejoice and celebrate the relationships we share with our loved ones. Problem is, you look over and realize that what you've got you arms around isn't a girl... but just a pillow you were using to pretend you've got a girlfriend. No worries, you're not the only one. Tonight is going to be singles night here at the Z-portal, where single people can come hang out and be entertained while everyone else is out celebrating with their significant other. The overall theme tonight will be Unrequited Love. We'll see different examples of unrequited love in movies that even the most depressed single person can enjoy. So hide that box of old photos, put down the box of tissues, and crack open a case of your favorite beer (or roll up a fatty, whichever you prefer) and get ready to feel a little better about single. If not by choice, then.... well, at least you're not these guys:

Dumb and Dumber (1994) - Not to mention that this is one of the most hilarious movies of ALL time, it's gotta be one of the best feel good movies ever. No, not just because it tickles my funny bone... these guys are the biggest losers... ever. One of these idiots (Jim Carrey) falls madly in love with a girl after meeting her once, driving her limo to the airport, and so he flies out to Aspen, Colorado to return a briefcase that she left at the airport. (obviously made before 9/11... cause TSA would've been all over her for leaving a bag unattended. And apparently, you can run past airport security in those days without being stopped) So after he goes out of his way to see her and return her briefcase, it turns out she's flippin' married!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?? I would've totally lost my cool, but not these guys, this guy just keeps right on smiling. All the while his buddy (Jeff Daniels), who accompanies him on this totally bogus trip, is smiling right alongside him. Flat broke without transport to get home, these two pals just hoof it out on the road. Learn a lesson from them on how to take heartbreak in stride.

Best scene: The fantasy of violently killing the husband of the girl who stole his heart. We've all had similar fantasies play out in our head, I'm sure.

The Mummy (1999) -  Yes, this movie again. Recently making my Top 10 list of favorite movies that were recommended to me by my sister. I love the action in this movie and Brendan Fraser turns in a surprisingly bad ass performance as Rick O'Connell. After making it with the Pharaoh's gal, this particular mummy was buried alive along with flesh eating scarabs enclosed in his sarcophagus and had the Hom-Dai, the worst of all Ancient Egyptian curses, put on him. Suffering for over 3,000 years until he was inadvertently awaken by our gang of tomb raiding archeologists, this guy has to suffer through another sequel before getting a chance to fully revive the love of his lives. And guess what? When it came down to it, the bitch totally leaves him hanging (literally) and saves herself. Damn, you wanna talk about unrequited love? How about one that spans 3,000 years and a couple lifetimes.

Misery (1990) - Research shows that when someone's in love, their brain functions similarly to someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I wasn't exactly surprised to hear this because when you're madly in love with someone, they're the ONLY thing that's on your mind. From being the first thought on your mind when you wake up in the morning to being the last thought on your mind before you to go to sleep, being in love basically feels like you're obsessing over someone. Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates plays a psychotically obsessed fan of an author who was finishing up a novel in a cabin in the woods. While driving back, he crashes his car in the snow and is happened upon by Ms. Bates. Taking him home to nurse back to health, she seems like nothing more than a gushing fan at first but when he tries to leave.... this guy gets his leg broke. For a movie so low on the gore quotient, it successfully creates an incredible amount of suspense and builds tension so thick, you'd need a katana to cut through that shit. If you've ever been so lonely that you wish you had a stalker, watch this movie and give it a second thought.

The Insatiable (2007) - On the flipside, instead of being stalked, are you the stalker? Ever love someone so much that you smothered them with too much attention? What would you do if you found an incredibly beautiful, sultry, and sexy vampiress that you wanted take home and care for? Well, that was the case for poor Harry when he happened upon a vampire chick feeding on a bum. To keep her "out of trouble", he catches her and locks her in a cage in the basement. Buying her rabbits and other little animals to feed on, she's slowly dying and he doesn't know what to do. The lesson to take away from this movie is that too much of anything is never a good thing. You can love someone too much, to the point where you're killing them because you're smothering them with affection. Sometimes it's good to just lay back and chill out, maybe they just need a little breathing room is all.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009) - Vampires face the same relationship problems in general, living forever tends to suck unless you've got someone to spend it with. Dracula, Nosferatu, Lestat, I'm sure have all faced this type of heartbreak over and over again. Losing a loved one is always hard. This pick isn't for the lonely vampire however, this pick was for the poor boy chosen by the Vampire Girl to become her newest vampire love interest. Everything sounds dandy until we realize that what she has chosen isn't necessarily just a mate, but more of a servant. Not to mention what the guy had to go through before he comes to terms with the fact that he truly loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her, it turns out that she wasn't even in love with him like that at all!!! What a tease....

Candyman (1992) - Love is sometimes about making the sacrifices necessary for the ones that you love. A relationship should always be a two-way street with a little bit of give and take. The greatest stories about love are the ones where someone makes the ultimate sacrifice for the person they love. (Giving their life for someone they love) Although Candyman is more of a slasher about a grad student who is doing research on the myth, it's more how he become Candyman that I'm interested in. This guy was once a slave who had a lot of talent as an artist. So much, in fact, that the plantation owner had him paint a portrait of his daughter. The two got close and fell in love but when her racist father found out, he got a mob together to lynch the slave. They chased him outta town with pitchforks but when they caught up to him, they cut this kid's right hand off and covered him with honey before throwing him into a beehive. (Brutal!) Before dying, he cursed all the men responsible and swore his revenge. Now the legend goes, if you look into a mirror and say his name five times.... he will come for you with his hook hand.

Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001) - Have you ever wanted to be loved so bad that you feel like life isn't even worth living without it? Ever walk around like a lifeless zombie because you were so depressed from loneliness? Well, this movie takes that feeling to a very literal extreme. One of the more hokey B-movie zombie splatter films to come out of Japan, although they're all pretty cheesy, and their cop-out ending involved a half-ass explanation for the zombie outbreak. Not some viral infection, voodoo curse, or meteorite passing by the Earth. No, it was love. They wanted to be loved so much that they wander around after their death in order to find love. Some people might have their little hang ups about this movie but that represents the ultimate desire to be loved. Not just dying for it, but coming back to life for it. Even if you don't agree... a ton of blood and guts, zombies, and hot Japanese chicks makes for a good Valentine's Day movie in my book.

Bio Zombie (1998) - In Hong Kong's answer to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, a sushi chef with a crush on one of the girls that works in mall is bitten by a zombie. After he turns, he still has feelings for her and even gives her a gift that he originally intended to give her after work. When she's cornered by other zombies, he makes with the sushi rolling and makes a "finger-roll" to distract his zombie brethren. In the end, even though he's already dead... he still makes the ultimate sacrifice for her and gets eaten by zombies... AGAIN!!! Even knowing that they can never be together, he's loves her so much that he would give his um.... life.... for her even he's already undead. That's something that I like to fantasize about, loving someone so much that I would still remember them even if I were some horrible monster. 

King Kong (1933) - Talk about a mismatch, this film features the famous ape grabbing himself a beautiful girl and making for the highest point he can find in order to have some "alone" time with her. Sometimes love can be cruel, playing with our emotions and making us fall in love with someone we weren't meant for. Ever feel like a big dumb ape yourself that just isn't good enough for the girl of your dreams? Don't worry bud, you're not alone. King Kong very obviously couldn't be with the girl, even if she did return his feelings. In the end, he makes the ultimate sacrifice for her... and for what? King Kong probably had a King Dong that would've done more than just split her apart... he would've impaled her!!! That monkey had no reason to put his hairy ape hands on her in the first place. Cupid is such an asshole sometimes...

Futurama (1999-2003) - I know, they brought this show back in 2010 and they're coming out with new episodes. I don't care, I didn't watch any of the new stuff so I cant speak of it. I have seen all of the episodes of the original show however and I can say that nothing makes me laugh harder or feel better than some Futurama. If you thought Lloyd and Harry from Dumb and Dumber were losers, Fry is the perfect addition to the crew seeing as he spend the duration of the show chasing after Leela. (who doesn't appear to be interested)  Over the span of the original show, he tries so many times and is shot down by her.... you've just gotta feel better about yourself after watching this guy. One of my favorite shows of all time, Futurama is currently keeping me company tonight.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Valentine's Day, and whether you're single or not, I hope it was special for all of you. If you're lucky enough to have someone to spend it with, cherish every moment that you're able to spend with that person and take nothing for granted.

Bride of Chucky (1998)

Bride of Chucky (Canada/USA, 1998) - Color, Director(s): Ronny Yu
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 89 min.

Z-rating: 4 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 4 out of 5 stars

Nothing more fun to watch than bloody, gory horror if you're lonely Valentine's Day. Whether you're bitter and lonely or heartbroken and angry, watching people killed in violent ways can be a great pick-me-upper. Talk about unrequited love... poor Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) is the girlfriend of Charles Lee Ray, whose soul is imprisoned in that damned doll, who goes through all the trouble of gathering up the pieces and sewing him back together on the belief that they would be married once he's freed from the doll. After reviving Chucky though, she finds that he had no intention of marrying her. So, doing the most logic thing she could think of, she locks him in a playpen and goes to shower. Once he gets out though, he tosses the TV into the bath and electrocutes her to death only to bring her back to life in one of the female wedding dolls. Not only gets her heart broken when she realizes he didn't want to marry her, she gets killed by the guy she loves and is stuck by his side inside of a doll until they can transfer out into new human bodies. Sounds like it would've been a pretty shitty Valentine's Day to me.

The awesome thing about this movie, aside from the fact that it had the late John Ritter and a young pre-Grey's Anatomy Katherine Heigl starring, is how much fun the storyline is. Desperate to escape her police chief uncle (Ritter), our lovely young couple takes up an offer to deliver two dolls to New Jersey where they will paid handsomely for their troubles and be free to run off and get hitched. Chucky and Tiffany plan to use the kids to get the amulet from Charles Lee Ray's grave but when bodies turn up dead, they begin to suspect each other of murder. Brought to us by director Ronny Yu, who also brought us the satisfyingly loyal Freddy vs. Jason in the years to follow.

Nudity: Although I don't remember there being any explicit nudity, there is a very tasty shower scene with Jennifer Tilly in the tub. I think there's also doll-sex in the movie. If you get your jollies off on that.... I suggest psychiatric help. (or skipping to approx 1:00:50 into the movie.... you sick bastard)

Gore: Typical gore to be expected from a horror movie. A cop get his throat cut, nails are embedded into someone's face propelled by an airbag, and a love suite at a hotel is turned into a room at the House of Horrors. Accentuated by the psychotic laughter of Chucky, there's tons of fun kills in this one. =)

Awesome: Very. A classic franchise gets updated with this blend of dark comedy and horror, it's one of the best in the series having successfully updated the franchise without watering down any of the original material. The ending is great (the parts where Chucky gets hurt are always the best cause they're totally hilarious) and provides a perfect setup for the follow-up, but very disappointing, Seed of Chucky.

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all you lucky folks who have someone to spend it with. As always, Z-portal isn't one to celebrate without the forgotten and overlooked bunch and so while everyone is obsessing over hearts and roses, people seem to forget that there are a lot of single people out there who don't have anyone to spend it with. As such, we shall celebrate this Valentine's Day with the overall theme of: Unrequited Love.

Valentine's Day is just the bee's knees... unless you don't have any to spend it with. The shittiest feeling in the world is when you're alone and forced to sit through everybody else's lovey dovey crap. All the shows and movies on TV are about some nerd finally getting a chance with the beautiful girl of his dreams and they actually end up falling in love. We've all been in love with someone who doesn't love us back and our self-esteem has to take the blow, for what? Many of us are slowly realizing the fact that love and relationships don't always work out so hunky dory as they do in fairy tales and Hollywood movies. And we're pissed off!!! We were all told the "happily ever after" ending as kids, made to believe that life was going to be a bag of rainbows, but the world has forgotten us and time has made us very bitter. And so, Z-portal would like to celebrate with a different view of love in cinema. Hope you guys can celebrate with us tonight!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't Give a Damn (1995)

Don't Give a Damn (Hong Kong, 1995) - Color, Director(s): Sammo Hung
MPAA Rating: NR
Approx. 90 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 2 out of 5 stars

This movie is absolutely HILARIOUS. Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and the rest of The Seven Little Fortunes clan were the best that the China Drama Academy had to offer and are known for their martial arts prowress. What I liked about this movie was that even though there was some fighting in it, martial arts actors Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao didn't rely on their martial arts abilities for this film. I think this film is a perfect example that Hung and Biao aren't one-dimensional actors that don't know how to make a movie without fighting in it. Even though there was a fight scene that involved Yuen Biao taking on a bunch of guys, it was more just brawling than it was straight up martial arts fighting as most of the martial arts is at the very end. This movie is filled with a ton of laughs that had me and my buddies in stitches. Perfect movie to put on for your Chinese stoner buddies, you'll have bongwater coming out of their nose!

Known by the strangely irrelevant alternate title Burger Cop here in the States, this film centers around the daily operation and relationships of the officers in a particular police department. This movie starts out with a failed drug bust and some office comedy as a couple of perps are shown during the booking process. There's people making a dynamic entries by busting through windows, an inter-office rivalry with a Customs Agent that culminates in a most hilarious brawl between Hung and Biao, and a slippery crook by the name of Spiderman (played by Chin Siu-Ho, the slightly more competent apprentice in Mr. Vampire) who jumps out of a window only to have a cop by the name of Superman jump out after him. Quirky Chinese comedy bits aside, there is a very well-choreographed 3-way fight at the end of this film that involves Sammo Hung, Collin Chou (the villain from The Forbidden Kingdom), and Robert Samuels that was absolutely dizzying and totally awesome. I don't understand the bad reviews behind this film, perhaps other people's expectations were too high. (That... or mine are just way too low) Although I personally really enjoyed this film. Whenever I put it on for other people, they always laugh and have a good time watching it too. I haven't had a bad experience with this film yet but all the reviews I've come across have called this film weak and rated very low. So the only suggestion I have is if you're none too keen on subtitles, or if you've NEVER seen an HK comedy before, check some others out in this genre to be sure it's for you.

Nudity: None

Gore: None.

Awesome: Very. Although there are some very obvious critics of this film, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE this movie. My mom recommended I watch this movie because I had nothing to do one day and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. Maybe the humor falls a little flat for some people. I just  love the blend of comedy, action, and satire in this film.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Future Cops (1993)

Future Cops (Hong Kong, 1993) - Color, Director(s): Wong Jing
MPAA Rating: NR
Approx. 95 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 4 out of 5 stars

Let's be perfectly clear here, I'm going to be reviewing the Hong Kong comedy that borrows from the Street Fighter video game franchise so as not to be confused with the more recent Future X-Cops which, ironically enough, also stars Andy Lau. Another thing I feel I should mention is that this movie shares absolutely NOTHING in common with the Street Fighter franchise except for its characters. I know some of you horror freaks out there must already be wondering to yourself, "What the hell, man? What happened to refocusing on horror?"  I didn't forget, my main focus will still be horror movies because I absolutely LOVE them. The thing is, I try to keep my blog relevant to the world by keeping up with holidays and other events. This month being Black History Month prompted the reviews of Blaxploitation films and will bring more to come. I was going to try to keep with the horror theme by reviewing Tales from the Hood and Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror but the thing is, today is Lunar New Year and we Chinese folks don't like to talk about horribly nasty things during the New Year. So in an attempt to keep up with tradition (and at the risk of losing readers), I'm going to review a comedy to keep things a little more... upbeat. Now, onward to the review!

Set in the far off distant future of 2043, where the police ride around on little Star Wars-esque personal speeder bikes that fire lazers, a team of evil doers are trying to spring their boss (M. Bison) from a maximum security prison before being stopped by the Future Cops!!!! A showdown occurs between Ken, Sagat, and E. Honda of the evil team and the good guys of Ryu, Guile, Dhalsim, and Vega. The Future Cops are able to prevent the prison break but are unsuccessful in capturing the rest of the clown posse, who jump back in time on some half-baked mission to assassinate the judge that sentences Bison before he ever becomes a judge. (a la Terminator) Vega, Guile, and Dhalsim are sent back in time to protect the judge but not before they're warned about how people in the 90's like to lie a lot(!) So to prevent them from falling prey to such bad habits, they are implanted with special devices that give them an electric shock whenever they lie. Ryu (played by Aaron Kwok) stays behind while the other three go back in time to find the judge when he was still just a kid. Flash back to 1993 and we are introduced to the main character (Dicky Cheung) in an awkward kid who's picked on at school by the school bully who also happens to come from a wealthy background. He isn't just picked on at school but also by his kid sister, Chun Li (played by the BEAUTIFUL Chingmy Yau), at home. The Future Cops arrive via lightning storm (also lifted from Terminator, only they're not naked when they arrive) and offer their assistance in getting the bully of his back if he'll help them ask around for the judge at school. They're successful for awhile before the Ken and his goons arrive to recruit the bully. The hunt is on for whoever the student will be that grows up to become the judge. Which side will find them first?

This is, without a doubt, one of the silliest movies I've ever seen. That's what makes it laugh out loud hilarious, it's completely outrageous and over-the-top silly with really fast-paced Canto dialogue. Everything under the sun is parodied from Super Mario Bros to Dragon Ball Z with a healthy dose of wacky Chinese humor. If you're expecting any kind of serious Street Fighter movie, you will surely be disappointed with this film. They were unable to get the license to use the characters so other than resembling them, they really don't have much in common with their video game counterparts. This is the first live-action movie to contain characters from the Street Fighter franchise though and something about the charm of this film makes this one of my absolute favorites. This film also has an all star cast including Jacky Cheung, Simon Yam, Billy Chow, Richard Ng, and many more!! I would highly recommend this film for a ton of good laughs and I think everyone should own a copy of this film... just because.

Nudity: None. Although in the arcade scene, Chun Li pops a sex pill from the future that makes her randy as a jackrabbit. Awesome.... awesome to the max.

Gore: None.

Awesome: While I wouldn't call this movie visually impressive, I would highly recommend this film for a ton of good laughs. Especially if you happen to be into the Street Fighter video game franchise and also speak Canto. I know it's probably not required that you speak Canto to enjoy this film but a lot of it really is lost in translation. (especially the quick dialogue)  Check out the trailer below, which is so long it might as well have been the whole movie.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Last Dragon (1985)

The Last Dragon (USA, 1985) - Color, Director(s): Michael Schultz
MPAA Rating: PG-13
[UK: 15]
Approx. 109 min.

Z-rating: 4 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 3 out of 5 stars

In honor of both Lunar New Year AND Black History Month, Z-portal's chooses to honor both holidays with this cult classic that touches on both the Eastern and Western cultures. An accomplished martial artist by the name of Bruce Leroy, who obviously idolizes Bruce Lee, must go achieve the "Final Level" of martial arts enlightenment. The only problem is, he must achieve this level of enlightenment on his own. Those who achieve the Final Level are said to possess a mysterious power called "The Glow". Leroy sets out on his journey and happens across a couple interesting characters, including a villainous gang leader by the name of Sho'nuff who refers to himself as the Shogun of Harlem and his eventual love interest in a television VJ named Laura, along the way. (Yes, I said VJ as video jockey. I know it's kind of a dated term, so what?)  Laura denied the wrong guy some air time on her show so he sends over a couple of his goons to grab her but here comes Bruce Leroy to the rescue! In between trying to protect his new squeeze and his little brother, all while getting pestered by Sho'nuff for a showdown, he's still in search of a great master who can help guide him in his journey towards enlightenment. Needless to say he beats the bad guy, gets the girl, and saves the day.

This movie was extremely entertaining to watch and despite the disturbing lack of nudity or excessive violence, I really enjoyed this movie. Known for its soundtrack, this film features a slew of artists and music that has since helped cement this film's cult classic status. So much so in fact, that they're planning a remake of this film as I write this. Apparently, Samuel L. Jackson has been cast for the part of Sho'nuff. I'm not big on remakes usually but this is one that I have to admit I'm slightly excited to see what the outcome will be. Lots of fun to watch, this would be a great movie to put on for a few laughs with your Asian girlfriend after dinner at her parents' house. (What's that? You say you don't have an Asian girlfriend? Well, I don't either... but sometimes I like to sit on one end of the couch and laugh really loud while looking to the side and pretending like I have a girlfriend to watch movies with)

Nudity: None.

Gore: None.

Awesome: Very. How can a film that contains no nudity or gratuitous violence make it to my blog? (And receive such favorable ratings no less?) Well, I like to think I'm not completely single dimensional and while I will definitely be focusing more on horror, that's not all I want this to be about. So yes, The Last Dragon is an awesomely entertaining feel good movie in my book. I admit that when I first saw the cover to this movie, even I was slightly turned off by how potentially cheesy it could've been (and not the good cheese but the really bad, stinky cheese that makes you wanna vomit so hard you shit your pants) but as it turns out, I absolutely LOVED this movie. I would recommend this to anyone who hasn't seen it but is looking for a few good cheesy laughs. (And yes, the good cheese)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coffy (1973)

Coffy (USA, 1973) - Color, Director(s): Jack Hill
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 91 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 3 out of 5 stars

Holy exploitation heaven!!! What a way to kick off Black History Month.... with a review of Coffy!!! I'm sure some of you were left wondering who the babe was that managed to snag the runner-up spot on my list of Top 10 Bad Ass Movie Babes. Well, let me tell you a little something about Coffy... she is one of the baddest fuckin' bitches I've ever seen in any movie. The incredibly sexy Pam Grier cements herself as the queen of blaxploitation cinema with her role in this film. A vigilante nurse is looking to clean up her community by killing off the drug pushers and dealers in her neighborhood after her 11 year old kid sister is hospitalized for shooting up with some bad smack. She works her way up the ladder from small time dope dealers to the people connected with the mob. Hitting the streets with her trusty double-barreled shotty, she lays waste to all of the drug pushers that she comes across. The plot thickens when a slimy crooked politician (NO way!) is thrown into the mix. In the first scene of this film, we see Coffy posing as some strung out chick in need of a "quick fix" in order to get in with one of the drug pushers before pulling out her shotgun and painting the walls with his brains. She then turns her attention to his lackey, who just wanted to "get high and watch", and shoots him up with enough heroin to cause him to die by overdose. She goes back to work the next day and gets the low down from her cop buddy on the "brutal slayings" that took place the night before. (Little does he know that Coffy and her double-barreled boomstick were responsible) She works as a nurse during the day and spends her nights infiltrating the ranks of the underground crime syndicate, later setting up a pimp/drug pusher by dumping out his supply and replacing it with sugar. Attracting the attention of a mob boss by initiating one of the most kick ass catfights in celluloid history, she works her way up the drug ladder murking everyone responsible for the shit entering her community. We also see a pimp/drug pusher get his when he's dragged behind a car by a gangster with rope tied around his neck. For some reason, I found this whole scene to be really disturbing. Just the way that it all went down, King George begging for his life while the gangster laughs with a sadistic glee as he banks hard around turns to smash the lifeless corpse against the curb of sidewalks. Pretty messed up stuff.

Nudity: I can't remember how many actual scenes there were containing nudity, though there was enough nudity to garner a 4 out of 5 stars. If memory serves me correctly, I think we see a couple pairs of jugs during the catfight at a party.

Gore: Not the type you would expect from a horror movie but this film has one of the best headshots I've ever seen. There are some pretty violent things going on in this movie but none of them are outrageous gruesome or gory. 4 out of 5

Awesome: VERY!!! Not only does this film contain one of the best headshots I've ever seen, it has one of the wildest catfights I've ever seen in a movie as well. I think Coffy beats the ass of at least half a dozen hoes at a party after hiding razor blades in her afro. (which manages to cut up the hands of the bitch dumb enough to try to pull her hair) Also, we see a young Sid Haig drag the unsuspecting pimp to his death while tied to the back of his car. One of the best, wildest, and most entertaining exploitation films I've seen in a long time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month 2011

Hey there everybody, I know it's been awhile since I promised to get back on track with posting on this blog and I swear I will once I find a little time to settle down and get back into the groove of things. In the meantime, I'm out of town for the week visiting family since Lunar New Year is coming up and I thought it'd be as good a time as any to spend a little extra time with the fam. Problem is, I'm a little out of my element here as far as reviews go. (since I don't have my super awesome movie collection here with me) So for now, I would like to announce that Z-portal will be celebrating Black History Month with reviews and other cool junk on Blaxploitation films.

I won't be diving super deep into it like I do for Halloween but that will definitely be the theme for this month. I apologize to all my readers for not staying on track with all that I was meaning to do. I'm a little backed up right now but once things stop becoming so hectic, I will be back. This next month is gonna be stacked, I hope you guys are as excited as I am.