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Drama

Brawl in cell block 99 (2017)

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Brawl in Cell Block 99A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

Genre : Crime/Drama
Country : USA

Cast :
Vince Vaughn : Bradley Thomas
Jennifer Carpenter : Lauren Thomas
Don Johnson : Warden Tuggs

Director :
S. Craig Zahler

My opinion on “Brawl in Cell Block 99”

“You said you would never work for Gil.
So we’re both breaking promises today.”

Vince Vaughn in a crime movie where he plays a rough-looking drug dealer? You gotta be kidding me. Although he surprised me with an excellent part in “Hacksaw Ridge“, I always associate him with feel-good, romantic crap movies with the kind of humor I never laugh about in most cases. Well, I was totally wrong this time. Vince Vaughn is ruthless, mega calm and ultra-brutal in this extreme violent film. Better yet. He’s even funny now. Funnier than whatever comedy he played in before. And this thanks to the dryly, humorous remarks he makes sometimes. The moment someone mentions his name again, I’ll see that tattooed cross on the back of a bald skull directly in front of me.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Vince Vaughn isn’t having fun here.

Life hasn’t been so good for Bradley (Vince Vaughn). After being fired, he finds out that his wife Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) is cheating on him. Next he starts working as a drug runner to bring in some money. Before he knows it, he’s facing a long prison sentence because of a failed drug deal. And from that moment on, the movie changes into a higher gear. Indeed, the movie wasn’t really fast till that moment. Before you even see anything of a prison, you’ve been watching the screen already for some time. And then it goes from bad to worse for Bradley. His wife is being kidnapped by the leader of the drug gang (who wants to regain his financial loss) and Bradley has to kill an inmate who’s locked up in cell 99 in the heavely guarded prison of Red Leaf.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Not a movie for sissies !

This is without a doubt Vince Vaughn’s best acting achievement ever. Finally his impressive body is being used for the right purpose. Relentlessly beating up opponents and transforming them into a pile of crushed human flesh. Something that’ll happen regularly in this ultra-violent film. Every time it looks as if Bradley has to lift his immensely heavy limbs and strike a guard or another criminal with devastating force in the face. The result is always repulsive brutal. Seeing a skull bursting open like an overripe tomato or the awareness of what the Korean is going to do with Bradley’s wife, may be a bit too much for some. “Brawl in cell block 99” certainly isn’t a film for sensitive viewers. But this sadistic violence serves a purpose. Bradley has a specific goal in mind and is therefore forced to take this violent path.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

I was totally flabbergasted after seeing “Brawl in cell block 99”

There were a few things in this film that shocked me. The fact that I didn’t recognize Don Johnson baffled me. Was it because of that gigantic mustache? Or was it his age (he’s already 67 years old)? Or is it just me? And then of course the fact that I’m speechles about the acting of Vince Vaughn, who clearly deviates from his usual acting pattern. I don’t think of Vaughn as being one of my favorite actors. But after his performance here, I have to revise my opinion about him. And finally the impression this film made on me. I’m not easily shocked and got my share of extremities used in movies. But this time I was a little bit out of my depth. Somehow the movie messed me up. And that’s not necessarily because of the explicit violence. It’s the overall feeling. I do know that next time I come across a movie with Vince Vaughn playing in it, it won’t be so obvious to just avoid it. He literally knocked himself to the top of my list of “the better” actors.

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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Action

Maria- It Was Like A Filipino “John Wick” Persiflage.

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MariaShe’s still alive.
Who’s she?
Lily. Lily’s still alive!

John Wick had a good reason to make things difficult for his former boss. They liquidated his cute dog and stole his car. In the movie “Polar“, Duncan Vizla’s retirement savings were compromised. In this Filipino revenge film, Maria (Christine Reyes) leaves a trail of death and destruction because her former employee has murdered her family. You’d start a killing spree for less. What does she have in common with Wick and Vizla? She’s also a retired assassin who has turned her back on the violent life she led. So expect action-rich and extremely violent scenes that are performed according to an excellent choreography.

 

Maria

 

Maria aka Lilly.

Maria (or Lilly in her previous life) didn’t just simply retire. She went off the grid in a devious way when she had a crisis of conscience at her last job and refused to butcher an innocent woman and her daughter. Instead, she shot Kaleb (Germaine de Leon), her lover back then, through his kneecap and disappeared forever. That is until the same Kaleb notices her when they are making preparations to kill some governor. From then on the hunt for her is opened. The result of this manhunt is the death of her current husband and her lovely little daughter.

 

Maria

 

The sweet taste of revenge.

Well, “Maria” isn’t really innovative. Countless revenge films have been made recent years (such as “I spit on your grave“, “Revenge“, “The Equalizer” and of course “John Wick“). Don’t expect a complicated and well-thought-out story in this Philippine action film. The film is actually fairly straightforward. And in the end, it’s only the tough confrontations what’s important in such action films. In “Maria” however, they tried to fill the voids with irrelevant sordid stuff. Every once in a while cheaters and inconvenient witnesses are tortured and massacred. So, the most positive thing you can say about this film is that the fight scenes look slick. The rest, on the other hand, was sometimes too bad for words.

 

Maria

 

Bilingual mess.

Let’s start with the part that annoyed me immensely. I didn’t mind it to be a Filipino film. Even though I didn’t understand a thing. And those who know me a little bit, know that I hate reading subtitles constantly. I’ve made peace with that. But why did these Filipino conversations have to be alternated with an English sentence? It was as if they had taken the dubbing into their own hands. And it wasn’t just this bilingual nonsense that was annoying. The sound of pronunciation was also toe-curling. It was as if all those Philippines suddenly sounded like Andy Kaufman from “Taxi”. Next, let’s talk about the male actors. Some of them are guilty of theatrical overacting (especially KC Montero masters in this). And I don’t know if this is a tradition among Filipino gangs, but I thought it was fairly bizarre that the male protagonists had female furies to do the dirty work. Although I have to admit those ladies could stand their ground without any problems.

 

Maria

 

Action flick clichés.

Furthermore, “Maria” is again filled with well-known clichés that are used over and over again in action flicks. The hard rock music. Again stupid gangsters rushing forward like sheep to the slaughter. Of course, a nightclub scene had to be included. Whistling blades. Cracking bones. And the sound effects of hard fist-punches reminded me nostalgically of the better Terence Hill & Bud Spencer films. It was like a Filipino “John Wick” persiflage. Only the charisma and the natural coolness of Keanu Reeves were missing. And finally, I found some scenes were overly stretched (such as the flashbacks).

 

Maria

 

Imagine Denzel Washington posing like that.

All in all, “Maria” is no more than a B-film with a simplistic storyline and moderate acting. Are you a fan of solid fists and footwork then you will certainly enjoy yourself here. And for those who appreciate exotic women, these exotic beauties look really pretty and are certainly no kittens to tackle without gloves. Why they have to walk around all the time in a kind of aerobic outfit is a mystery to me. And Maria’s posing like a model in the rain after the ultimate fight, I found hilarious. Fortunately, Denzel Washington didn’t do something similar in “The Equalizer“. That would look rather ridiculous!

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Adventure

Mulan | Official Trailer – HD

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Genre:

Adventure, Drama/Family

Rating:

N/A

Release Date:

March 27, 2020

Director:

Niki Caro

Cast:

Jet Li, Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jason Scott Lee, Rosalind Chao,

Plot Summary:

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan.’

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Drama

We Die Young – A Fastpaced Gangsta Film That Never Bores

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When Rincon started doing his Shakespeare,
you knew some poor bastard’s about to get smoked.

We Die Young” is not a typical Jean-Claude Van Damme film, where he can show off his trained body. In fact, in this film, the number of times Van Damme is demonstrating his fighting techniques, is almost nil. So don’t expect any splits. Actually, it’s kind of understandable because “The muscles of Brussels” isn’t the youngest anymore. And I can imagine that such efforts are no longer evident.

 

We die young

 

He’s back again.

There’s one advantage. JcvD concentrates more on the acting part than on the more action-rich part. Films such as “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” from the 80s were immensely popular. And I admit that I also look back on that with pleasure. Unfortunately, this successful period was followed by a period with fewer successful films. Such as “Alien Uprising” (probably to please his daughter), “Dragon Eyes” and “Welcome to the Jungle“. After the umpteenth crap movie, my decision was made. Best I avoid JcvD films. Until recently. I couldn’t resist watching “The Bouncer” and was pleasantly surprised. Let me quote myself for a moment: “Just when you think that an icon such as Jean-Claude Van Damme is becoming a caricature of himself and in danger of sinking into oblivion, he surprises you with such a part as in this film. The “Muscles from Brussels” got under my skin with his integer and sensitive acting. ” I couldn’t have said it better.

 

We die Young

 

A war veteran and Latinos.

Naturally, I gave “We die young” a chance. Solely to verify whether he could maintain the same level. And I readily admit that he has wonderfully succeeded in convincing me once again. This time he’s not a bouncer of nightclubs in a Brussels neighborhood, but a retired Afghanistan war veteran. A military past that has left traces in the form of PTSD and a set of damaged vocal cords. The latter issue also ensures that you won’t hear any sound out of Van Damme’s mouth. Daniel (Jean-Claude Van Damme) somehow ended up in a slum near Washington D.C. where Latinos (Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13) are in control. A run-down neighborhood where drug addiction is the source of income for this fully tattooed gang members.

 

 

Some more impressive performances.

Next to JcvD also David Castañeda left an impression. His performance as the gang leader and kingpin Rincon is quite impressive. Not only because of his threatening attitude, cruelty, and determination with which he leads his drug gang. But also because he also shows his soft side as guardian of Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez) and Miguel (Nicholas Sean Johnny). And as the protective brother of his physically disabled sister Gabriela (Robyn Cara). The whole story revolves around Lucas who works for Rincon as a drug courier and preferably doesn’t want his younger brother to end up to be part of this gang. When a very important transaction goes wrong, also thanks to the interference of right-hand man Jester (Charlie MacGechan), it’s the start of a nerve-racking and rather action-rich part.

 

We die Young

 

A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.

Again, don’t expect a typical Van Damme movie. In the end, it’s a rather gloomy film that shows how destructive and dangerous it is to live in a neighborhood controlled by drug gangs. Survival is more the right word because every mistake made, will be punished ruthlessly. This film shows the futureless life of young people there. The title is therefore applicable. Not many can enjoy a long and healthy life in these slums. Of course, you can ask a few questions about “We die young“. Why the hell has Daniel moved there? Was he looking for anonymity? Is he trying to forget about the past? What with his family? Or is he simply alone in this world? Forgotten by those who knew him? Or is it a convenient solution such that he can easily get the painkillers. Those that help him to get rid of delusions and visions? And what about his military skills? Because when it comes to defending, he looks like a klutz. All in all, “We die young” is a must see if you want to see Van Damme again. A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.

 

My rating 6.5/10
Links: IMDB

 

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