Movie – Karate Kid

It appears I’m one of the few people that haven’t seen the original but it does mean I have nothing to compare this Karate Kid with.
I’m seeing it now purely for the cute-as-a-`button Jaden Smith, of the brilliant In Pursuit of Happiness fame (oh and son of Will).

The boy did good and the cuteness hits the viewer immediately and refuses to go away. I try really hard to get out of my mind that this youngster went back to school after shooting this and his ‘what I did in the summer’ report would have said I shot a martial arts movie with Jackie Chan.

Having said that, this is as far away as you can get from a Jackie Chan flick as he takes a definite back seat to young Jaden and indeed to quite a few of the young cast.

You may already know that this is the story of a mother taking her son away from America, topically from the broken car industry in Detroit into a new life and job in China. The boy is not best pleased but less so when he immediately starts getting bullied at school. Not by any old bullies, but by the local bad boy ‘karate kids’. Of course the only way to get even and hold his own is to learn the craft which is where building maintenance man Mr Han (Jackie Chan) steps in.

There are some made for 12 year old movie moments like the overwhelming dramatic music when they reach the top of the mountain, martial arts practising Mecca. There was the over dramaticism when the karate kid, Dre (Oh yes, bring it up to date) finds out why his teacher lives in virtual solitude and what happened to his family.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the skinny little Dre didn’t just topple over when pushed, never mind how he survived a severe beating in the heavy hands of the bullies.

Whilst a lovely, sweet and emotional scene, I’m uncertain why the father of the teenage love interest felt he had to let her honour her promise to be at the Karate Kid tournament and yet made her dissect their friendship a few scenes earlier.
Young Mr Smith did terrifically well as he’s in just about every scene and has the charm, comic timing and promise of helping to build another American acting dynasty.

Clearly it’s farfetched that the skinny boy goes to a new school in a foreign country (where incidentally every one conveniently speaks English) and has to learn a martial art in record quick time in order to stand up to the school bully. Surely he could have just moved school?

Go see it if you know any 12 year olds and if you want your heart strings tugged with a smile upon your face.
7½/10 Smile factor 9/10


The Expendables

I am beside myself with excitement to have the action hero trio Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger together. Yes really! I never thought I’d see the day for the Guvernator to be back in films

So yes I’m excited but:

1 Where’s the all time action hero, Steven Seagal. I mean that’s the only type of film he has made; he’s been loyal to the genre. Is he too busy being a real cop? Is that for real?

2 Jean Claude Van Damme. He’d have some moves to share but we have Jet Li instead.

3 For some reason we have Jason Statham. He’s a gangster, not an action hero. Wrong genre.

Mickey Rourke was never an action hero, but after one of the best films of recent years, The Wrestler, we’ll allow him into every film he wants, even Iron Man 2.

The action heroes that are appearing include: Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Jet Li plus Statham and Terry Crews (of Everybody Hates Chris, amongst other good things).

I’m looking forward to seeing The Expendables. I have no care what the story is about or indeed if there is a story. I’m sold.

Movie – Iron Man 2

I looked back to see how I rated the first Iron Man and I don’t have a review. I know that I really enjoyed it so I guess I must have just been super busy at the time.

I remember it was a surprise hit for me; it’s a super-hero movie without world saving superheroes. Instead, Iron Man is all about the technology, i.e. the power of his suit whereas last time the story was about how Iron Man AKA Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr, saves the earth by building better defence for the western world that its enemies could only dream off, this time, it’s the enemies catch up.

Whilst I agree with the majority in that Robert Downy Jr is brilliant and always worth a watch, I do get the feeling that he is really playing himself in this. He has perfected a style of acting with both Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes that is not dissimilar.

I was a little apprehensive this time round that it may all be hype but two facts made me still look forward to IM2; the AC/DC soundtrack and Mickey ‘The Wrestler’ Rourke. All in all, I’d hype this package.

I was a little late and I missed the opening seconds so AC/DC’s head nodding, foot stompingly brilliant ‘Highway to Hell’ was greeting me as I opened the door and my heart was already racing by the time I was seated.

I immediately decided I was going to have to come again, if only to see those opening moments but unless I missed something – another reason to see again – I didn’t hear anymore AC/DC until I heard what I thought was the same track again at the end, despite me lingering long after most had departed the cinema.

So other than RDJ and AC/DC, that leaves Mickey Rourke who made me watch The Wrestler twice at the cinema, making it the second best film of 2008, just after the immensely powerful ‘Milk’ with the ever talented Sean Penn. So now that I’ve mentioned three must see actors in one paragraph, back to Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2.

It’s a good job that I had heard he played a Russian baddy otherwise the accent, when he got round to speaking would have been a shock. Maybe because we don’t expect him to do accents but I think it was fine. However, it was his acting rather than speaking capability that made his presence so over powering in a particular scene in the first half.

I cannot recall the last time I saw such a breath taking moment in a film. So mesmerising was his badness’ real entrance into this film. It quite literally took my breath away to the point of making a note to take my inhaler with me next time. Not normally necessary in a cinema or any other regular event.

His character would have been made for Arnold Schwarzenegger if a) he was not the California Governator and b) if he could make a film without having top billing. Mickey Rourkes’ baddie didn’t need to have many words – in fact they gave him a few too many – but he looked awesomely menacing and absolutely fearless. Now that’s acting.

The film is worth seeing just for that as a lot of the rest of it seems to be a Iron Man ego trip for the powerful Mr Stark although with another great performance from Gwyneth Paltrow as the long suffering Assistant.

7½/10 Would easily have been an 8½ if Mickey Rourke’s badass Russian was allowed to have more onscreen presence.       Smile Factor 8½/10


Movie – The Spy Next Door

A nothing-else-to-see movie day moment results in me seeing this throwaway escapist film. In fact I would have forgotten all about it if I was wasn’t writing this. That doesn’t make it rubbish, simply a throwaway escapist film which takes you to another, sillier place for an hour or so.

Yes Jackie Chan works for the government as is often the case but this time he plays a spy seconded to the CIA. With just one mission to go before retirement, he fails to tell his new girlfriend, a single mother next door, of his real job so the family think he is a much more dreary pen maker. Although I’m pretty sure it defeats the purpose if you tell all and sundry you are in fact an undercover spy but this is family film so anything is possible.

To prove his paternal capability to his potential bride, he offers to look after her three hapless, impish children whilst she goes on a trip and all sort of mayhem is guaranteed after one of them downloads something that belongs to the bad guys. Cue many martial arts moves.

Remember to wait for the trademark outtakes with the credits to continue the hilarity.
Smile factor 8½/10

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