Film Reviews - what have you seen lately, what did you think?

bradgator2

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Saw Guardians yesterday. Tons of fun and definitely worth the watch. TLB is pretty spot on.
 

Detroitgator

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Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (2023) <Theater>

Took the 14yo and about 5 of his friends, even took the wife who is completely clueless on MCU. Boys liked it, many said it was their favorite of the three. Wife liked it, assumed she missed some inside jokes and references (there weren't really that many). I liked it, but wouldn't call it the top of the three.

Core storyline is Rocket gets injured, they can't doctor on him because whomever created him put in safeguards to explode him. So they go in search of his creator to get the code so they can save him. The film alternates between the going for the codes vs flashbacks for Rocket on his growing up, who were his friends then, etc. So, it gives a great bit of backstory for Rocket, and really gets you to buy in and bond with the character.

It felt to me that the majority of the film was characters yelling at each other, which felt old after awhile. Aside from the yelling, there were a LOT of good lines throughout, plenty of laughs; but also a lot of action, several cameos of previous characters. Our villain, High Evolutionary is a new character, but he's leaning on some of his creations (some of MCU's earlier characters) against GotG. Gamora is back, but completely different with a memory loss issue, so the romance between her and Quill is more of a melancholy on Quills end. It's not bad, and addresses that question. There is a mid credit scene, as well as a post credit scene, so stick around. The 'who' that will return was somewhat odd compared to how the film wrapped up and set up subsequent films with a different crew and captain for the GotG. Go see it, you shouldn't be disappointed. 8/10
Daughter saw it Friday night with Coffee Farmer Boyfriend. She said it might be her favorite too. She also said she was really happy you didn't have to know the rest of the Marvel movies to enjoy it.
 

grengadgy

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I thought "The Mother" was pretty good on Netflix but I must have been the only one cuz it only got a three-star rating.

Who's not to like Jennifer Lopez?
It's about a trained assassin (Jennifer Lopez) that came out of retirement to save the daughter that she's never known.
 

TLB

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Smile (2022) <Netflix>

Son and I wanted to watch a horror film, and this was suggested so we figured to try it out. Premise is a demon (for lack of a better term) will haunt someone, possessing others around them or creating the hallucination that it is others around them, who simply stare at them with an evil smile to let them know the demon is there with them. Sometimes the demon talks to them. The kicker to this one is the demon haunts, or jumps from person to person, through the trauma of watching someone get killed. A haunted person commits suicide, the witness then becomes possessed and loses their mind over 4-7 days then kills themself and the witness to that then becomes haunted/possessed. This is akin to Fallen (1998) with Denzel Washington, for those who cared for that one.

Acting is ok, as we follow an ER psych ward doctor who deals with an intake claiming she is haunted. Patient kills themself in front of doc, and we go along with doc on the mission to understand what this is, if it's real, and what to do about being the next victim. She has a fiance, whom we rarely see (black professional fiance, white doc woman, so partially woke). No knock on the actor, his role is weak and minimal. More dominant is one of the cops that comes to interview her about the incident is an ex-boyfriend. She ends up leaning on him a lot more for help looking into the string of suicides leading up to her. Neither doc nor cop seem to be a familiar face, but they carry their roles well enough. I will give credit for the 'jump' factor, and frequent use of camera motion to induce uneasiness and disorientation for the viewer, bringing them in with the doc's situation.

All in all, barely better than 'meh'. No skin, not a lot of blood/gore, no real action - just storyline primarily. Ok to watch to kill an evening if it's been awhile since you saw anything to make you 'jump'. 6.5/10
 

TLB

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Samaritan (2022) <Netflix>

Fictional alternate reality, twins were born at some point in modern era who were super strong and virtually indestructible. One grew to feel he ought help and take care of the general population, 'Samaritan'; while his brother sought to strike out at the populace, 'Nemesis'. They fought and both perished in the massive fire - as the legend goes.

We pick up with a young boy about 12yo and his single mom living in NYC/Chicago/Detroit...something like that. She is struggling to make it, he has a list of people he thought were 'Samaritan' (there were rumours he survived) but all crossed off because none of them were him. Boy gets into trouble, tied in with the local gang who is connected to Cyrus, the local crime boss (think of a young Kiefer Sutherland) who idolizes Nemesis. His gang rides around in 80's grandpa cars all spray painted black, to give you the feel of (non) quality at work here.

I'll skip any more details, and cut to the point. Stallone is our supposed 'Samaritan', and he's drawn in reluctantly to protect the kid (he wants to remain retired and unknown), for an ultimate showdown with our bad guy. There's a twist anyone can predict, even from my short summary. Action is ok, dialogue is meh, no skin, plot is weak, overall casting is less than 'meh'. Skip it if you have the option. 4.5/10
 

Detroitgator

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Samaritan (2022) <Netflix>

Fictional alternate reality, twins were born at some point in modern era who were super strong and virtually indestructible. One grew to feel he ought help and take care of the general population, 'Samaritan'; while his brother sought to strike out at the populace, 'Nemesis'. They fought and both perished in the massive fire - as the legend goes.

We pick up with a young boy about 12yo and his single mom living in NYC/Chicago/Detroit...something like that. She is struggling to make it, he has a list of people he thought were 'Samaritan' (there were rumours he survived) but all crossed off because none of them were him. Boy gets into trouble, tied in with the local gang who is connected to Cyrus, the local crime boss (think of a young Kiefer Sutherland) who idolizes Nemesis. His gang rides around in 80's grandpa cars all spray painted black, to give you the feel of (non) quality at work here.

I'll skip any more details, and cut to the point. Stallone is our supposed 'Samaritan', and he's drawn in reluctantly to protect the kid (he wants to remain retired and unknown), for an ultimate showdown with our bad guy. There's a twist anyone can predict, even from my short summary. Action is ok, dialogue is meh, no skin, plot is weak, overall casting is less than 'meh'. Skip it if you have the option. 4.5/10
I am totally smiling as I type this because I truly appreciate the level of detail you give in your reviews... the reason I'm smiling is because it took you 226 words (yeah, I threw it into Word to check, I'm thorough like that, and I didn't include words that shouldn't count) to basically say what would have sufficed as follows... consider it a FIFY,

Samaritan (2022) <Netflix>

No skin, plot is weak. Skip it if you have the option. 4.5/10

I might start summarizing your reviews as a service to people who are busy, but otherwise trust your overall judgement of a movie!

:lol:
 

Detroitgator

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Smile (2022) <Netflix>

Son and I wanted to watch a horror film, and this was suggested so we figured to try it out. Premise is a demon (for lack of a better term) will haunt someone, possessing others around them or creating the hallucination that it is others around them, who simply stare at them with an evil smile to let them know the demon is there with them. Sometimes the demon talks to them. The kicker to this one is the demon haunts, or jumps from person to person, through the trauma of watching someone get killed. A haunted person commits suicide, the witness then becomes possessed and loses their mind over 4-7 days then kills themself and the witness to that then becomes haunted/possessed. This is akin to Fallen (1998) with Denzel Washington, for those who cared for that one.

Acting is ok, as we follow an ER psych ward doctor who deals with an intake claiming she is haunted. Patient kills themself in front of doc, and we go along with doc on the mission to understand what this is, if it's real, and what to do about being the next victim. She has a fiance, whom we rarely see (black professional fiance, white doc woman, so partially woke). No knock on the actor, his role is weak and minimal. More dominant is one of the cops that comes to interview her about the incident is an ex-boyfriend. She ends up leaning on him a lot more for help looking into the string of suicides leading up to her. Neither doc nor cop seem to be a familiar face, but they carry their roles well enough. I will give credit for the 'jump' factor, and frequent use of camera motion to induce uneasiness and disorientation for the viewer, bringing them in with the doc's situation.

All in all, barely better than 'meh'. No skin, not a lot of blood/gore, no real action - just storyline primarily. Ok to watch to kill an evening if it's been awhile since you saw anything to make you 'jump'. 6.5/10
Summary for the busy:

Smile (2022) <Netflix>

All in all, barely better than 'meh'. No skin. 6.5/10
 

TLB

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Mortal (2022) <Prime? Netflix?>

Film from Norway, so half the dialogue is in Norwegian. Irritation as English subtitles are often overwritten by "Speaking Norwegian" :banghead:We open following some bedraggled hiker limping thru the woods, and alternate cut scenes with a young woman counselor coping with a recent client suicide and apparently getting shifted to help local police, she has no background for this. The man is captured for leaving a farm where all others where killed in a fire and subsequently kills a kid when he came out of the woods, and she is brought in to talk to him. He starts stressing and freaking out, and the police station starts having weird electrical issues - he sems to be causing it so she calms him down, it subsides. He is drawn to her as helping him cope with the phenomenon.

As the story unfolds, he cant explain why any of this is happening, but it started at the farm - he didn't intend to kill anyone, including the boy later. Other characters: Police chief who has a religious upbringing and wants to believe in Eric, our American hiker; Some American gov't rep looking to contain Eric before he unleashes unknown power in the world; Father of the boy slain by Eric and seeking revenge. Along the way Eric is trying to understand it all, with Christine (counselor) help to control it. A few confrontations along the way with the American seem to escalate Eric's power, and at one point he is taken to a hospital to recover from self inflicted lightening wounds - full security there, but he knocks out power, and a kid down the hall is dying with out a defib...Eric walks over and saves him with his electrical powers. Eric + Christine head back to the farm (with help from police chief) to find the source of all this. I won't ruin the ending, but it is decent.

No known actors, slow Norwegian first act, lots of electrical special effects (not cheesy, but appropriate), token evil American, gorgeous scenery as they travel Norway. Not going to win any awards, but a decent 90min for a tale and two central characters you grow to like. No skin, no woke. 7.5/10
 
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TLB

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Accident Man (2018) <Prime>

Appears straight to DVD/streaming, but carries itself well enough. Premise is 'Mike' is a professional hitman whose style is to ensure the death appears as an accident or suicide. He is one of a half dozen employees of the firm = your cast of other hitmen, different themes/personalities, they are a bit interesting; and the firm is run by Big Ray (retired hitman, runs the bar they hang out in) and Milton (recognizable American minor actor, makes all the contracts and deals, nobody likes him).

We catch Mike early on reminiscing about an ex-gf who left him for a woman. We quickly reach a point where she is killed, and he suspects it is someone on his team - sets up plenty of action sequences, not a lot of deep 'who is it', but the 'why' lingers and takes him into further fisticuffs. There is a bit of humor thrown in, a mix of Brit and American actors/accents. They even throw in a sequence towards the end which shows how he found Big Ray doing hits and became his apprentice, this and a lot of narration along the way by Mike to help you know the world of hitmen (none of which is new if you've ever watched a film). We conclude with Mike squaring up with those who killed his ex, and parting ways with Big Ray and the firm (what's left of it)...so we could have a sequel, but we really shouldn't.

Plot - thin; Skin - none; Action - acceptable; story telling - acceptable; woke factor - minimal (his ex switched teams, but this has no impact to the story). Final verdict 6.5/10
 

TLB

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Infinity Chamber (2016) <Netflix? Prime?>

Futuristic, dystopian, both funny and sad at the same time. We open with Frank Lerner in a cell with one wall having an oscillating light device and a bubble turret camera in the ceiling thru which 'Howard', his Life Support Operator (LSO) communicates with him. Frank has no idea why he is there, and Howard has very limited access/knowledge on anything other than doing what's needed to keep Frank alive. Frank falls into a daydream about a coffee shop and the woman working there, 'Gabby'.

The daydream is recurring, but evolves each time. Along the way, Frank is figuring out these are induced by the oscillating device to try and trigger memories, a means by which his captors can find out the info they are after - and Frank remains in the dark about what it all is. Howard, in his limited capacity, tries to help Frank cope and attempts to extend friendship in that effort. From there, we have a several steps deeper into the who and what-t-f is going on; which Frank shares at times with Howard, as a revelation to Howard but also in an attempt to manipulate him towards release.

It's not a super cheap budget film, but the shining star in all of this is the writing - both in how the situation develops and evolves, but also in the dialogue (some very laugh-out-loud moments) and revelations by the characters. It has hints of Inception, to where Frank sometimes is caught between reality and imagination, and we're right there with him. There is an almost romance with Gabby, which ties into the ending....maybe?

I'll highly recommend this as an intellectual endeavor (lower budget inception) to make you think about things, not just the film, but reality, life, etc. without bringing you down or getting too deep (over your head). It was delightful to come across a film that tried new things, or at least in new ways, even if the production quality didn't wow you. 8.5/10

PS - for those who do watch, it seems the director intentionally left options for the viewers conclusions, with some twists along the way which I had missed. If you are interested, here is a spoiler summary rundown, followed by some possible outcomes.
 

gingerlover

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Still (Apple TV) - The Michael J. Fox documentary about his career and his Parkinson's diagnosis. Doesn't dive to deep into the real ugly of what he has gone through, but is more of a perspective in how he shot to fame, got diagnosed young, spiraled down and how he came out of it. Goes through a lot of his more famous movies and focuses on his therapy sessions and family. Not a bad watch and his wife is still a smoke show. 6/10

A Man Called Otto (Netflix) - Tom Hanks as a widower ready to leave the world as well. He's an old grumpy guy who's life changes when he gets new neighbors. Starts to come out of his shell and make friends. Not much more to the plot. Descent movie with a predictable ending. 6/10

Ant Man 3 (Disney Plus) - Not as horrible as some say, but clearly not a top character. This felt like a movie where they sacrificed everyone in it just to move the Kang story along and shoehorn his daughter into the story to replace him eventually. They all get sucked into the Quantum Realm and meet the version of the vanished Kang there. Have to rally everyone there to fight him, but man it leaves so many questions. How did all those people get there? When did his daughter become so close with Hank & Janet? Where's the mom? I could go on and on. Rudd does his best, but didn't have a lot to work with. One of the bottom 10 MCU movies. Outside of Spider-Man & a few TV shows this phase has been a bust. (haven't seen GotG 3 yet) 5/10

Air (Prime) - The story of how Nike signed Michael Jordan. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Jason Bateman are your stars. Once again I'm sure that truth was bent on this one. At the time Nike was relegated to low first round picks as Converse and Adidas had the stars. They had to work outside of the box so to speak and ended up giving one of the most lucrative deals ever to a rookie. This one had me drawn in early, thanks to the cast, but moved very quickly and was interesting to see how everything came togethor. 7.5/10

Tetris (Apple TV) - Taron Egerton stars as the computer salesman who goes to the USSR to try and broker the rights to Tetris for Nintendo. I'm sure they sacrificed some true parts to make it better, but had some good twists and turns as he risks his life and the creators life to get the deal done before others can make deals with Soviet officials trying to set themselves up before the fall. 7/10
 

soflagator

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Not sure if mentioned already, but I recently found Momentum Generation on HBO Max. About a group of now world famous surfers(Slater, Machado, Robb) and how they came up together. If you grew up surfing in the late 80s-90s, you’ll appreciate it. Definitely paints a darker picture of some aspects of the sport, and specifically KS, but I enjoyed it.
 

DarksideGator

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Not sure if mentioned already, but I recently found Momentum Generation on HBO Max. About a group of now world famous surfers(Slater, Machado, Robb) and how they came up together. If you grew up surfing in the late 80s-90s, you’ll appreciate it. Definitely paints a darker picture of some aspects of the sport, and specifically KS, but I enjoyed it.
Sofla; thanks for the recommendation, this was so damn good. I’ve never surfed, but was always drawn to watch the sport. This goes more than just behind the scenes, what a crew these dudes are.

Love 100Foot Wave on HBO also, amazing athletes, need to have some screws loose upstairs to be shot in by a jet ski to ride a 60’+ wave!!
 

soflagator

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Sofla; thanks for the recommendation, this was so damn good. I’ve never surfed, but was always drawn to watch the sport. This goes more than just behind the scenes, what a crew these dudes are.

Love 100Foot Wave on HBO also, amazing athletes, need to have some screws loose upstairs to be shot in by a jet ski to ride a 60’+ wave!!

I loved that it honored Tom Curren at the beginning. Slater gets all the glory, and rightly so with what he has accomplished, but Curren in many respects paved the way. He was my first favorite surfer. Also liked that it showed the human element of them. As a kid seeing pictures or videos of them charging places like pipeline you just assumed they were fearless and did so the first day. The fact that several of them, even after becoming really good, were like “no way I’m surfing pipeline”, was cool to see. Glad you liked it.
 

Detroitgator

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I loved that it honored Tom Curren at the beginning. Slater gets all the glory, and rightly so with what he has accomplished, but Curren in many respects paved the way. He was my first favorite surfer. Also liked that it showed the human element of them. As a kid seeing pictures or videos of them charging places like pipeline you just assumed they were fearless and did so the first day. The fact that several of them, even after becoming really good, were like “no way I’m surfing pipeline”, was cool to see. Glad you liked it.
Any footage of Pamela Anderson "surfing pipeline" with Slater? Asking for a friend...
 

TLB

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Cell (2016) <Prime>

Trailer showed John Cusack as our protagonist, with Samuel L Jackson in support, then mentioned 'based on a Stephen King story' = I'm in. We open with Cusack arriving at Logan airport in Boston, calling his estranged wife to let her know someone made a huge offer on some of his work (graphic artist for comics/graphic novels), to which she is a bit cold. Then their son jumps in the backseat of moms car to say hi to dad, Cusack's cell phone dies so he calls them on a payphone...then the world ends.

Something happens to anyone listening to a cell phone where screeching noises come through it and turn them into the walking dead. Cusack runs to the subway to get away from all the cell-zombies in the terminal and as the train gets loaded power dies...walk out or stay and die. Samuel L is the train conductor, partners with Cusack and a few others to get out; Cusack is on a mission to see his (estranged) wife and son who are up in New Hampshire. Along the way they pick up a few non-zombies, lose a few non-zombies, come across Stacy Keach as a boarding school head master who shares some food, theories on what's going on, asks for help burning the hundreds he has subdued on the soccer field, then dies. Moving on.

Story plays out like a 5 page plot that King stretched to 30pg with backstory and color, and someone decided to stretch to a 90min film. As much as I love Cusack and Sam, neither stood out. Cusack was his usual straight man sans humor, but Sam was more subdued...nobody else you care about, really. Our antagonist feels like a cheap rip off from 'the stand', like super duper wooden nickel cheap. There was ONE chuckle at King's humor in the film, and it was weak (a doorknob falls off). The ending is ok-ish, in that you're wanting Cusack to save his kid and live happily ever after, but King takes care of that as well.

We're in 2023, so saying something from 2016 feels 'old' is almost appropriate albeit misleading. This feels like late 80's to mid 90's old....and unsatisfying. Even if you love King, and/or Cusack + Sam....skip this. Not worth the time. At all. 3/10
 

TLB

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Shadow Master (2022) <Prime>

Seems to be a cheap action film making market in SE Asia, I found another gem /sarcasm. Ok, you can tell by the title what you're asking for, and you pretty much get it. Our lead is 'An', a wandering Asian man who comes to an abandoned hospital advertising over the radio for a night watchman. It appears the world is pretty much destroyed on his way in, and we never see outside. Inside, "Boon-Nam' is the resident who was sending out the radio message - Night Watchman wanted, no pay but get food and shelter. We quickly find there are 'ghosts' stealing the children, and while An is supposed to protect everyone, nobody blames him for more kids getting taken because...'ghosts'. The main parent we interact with is Jannette (could be American/North-African/Asian/SouthEuropean....idunno) who we late in the film hear speaking Spanish to the statue of Santa Maria. Her son, Benison, has gump like braces on his legs and is always in a wheel chair - everytime he has a scene he huffs out his lines like he can barely breath he is so weak and frail.

An confronts the ghosts one night, and they are human but beat the crap out of him. Boon-Nom uses Eastern magic to revive him, putting An in a deal with Hanuman, a Death God. The deal is, Hanman keeps An alive and gives him his power to seek revenge (An is trying to save the kids, Hanuman wants the blood/souls of those An kills) ... and An's body (to walk the earth again) and soul. We find the 'ghosts' are actually the Four Horseman, one of which is Mephisto (leader) gathering the children for some sacrifice ritual, and they are being held until the crew gets one more kid needed to start.

There are flashbacks to An's earlier life as a fighter/killer, so in those and his several fights with the horsemen and their posse he gets a LOT of decent fight sequences - mostly hand-to-hand, add a staff or a chain/rope towards the end. All the while, we keep hearing Hanuman's voice talking to him about 'the deal' and we need more souls. The meat of the film is the cops capture An after his killing spree and he's explaining the happenings to the police chief. SPOlLERS :eek: An killed them all except Mephisto, and guess who the police chief is that he's allowed himself to captured by?

Fighting sequences - Pretty good; plot/characters - random mish-mash pulled out of a hat, if flows but doesn't make a lot of sense; music/camerawork - bleh, no idea where or when this is occurring though for a broke down hospital it seems almost reasonable(?); acting - mix of Americans and SE Asians, not much is asked, and they almost deliver; dialogue - all English, though Hanuman is sometimes garbled in his narration to An; special effects - a few blood splatters, meh. Recommendation 4/10

Deet thoughts: World is broke down and yet one random wanderer is the only guy who hears and responds to a ham radio like request for not just help but a night watchman job? Nobody ever leaves to find something better than a broke down hospital? A broke down hospital with enough power for lights and that's about it? And yet we have a kid in a wheel chair huffing out his lines weakly....and is somehow wheeling himself all over the hospital? Oh, and everyone lives on the 4th floor? Ghosts/Horsemen hide in the basement behind a locked door that nobody will open? But An approaches it several times with a Gieger counter going nuts.... and nobody every shows signs of radiation poisoning (even the Horsemen behind the door)?
 

TLB

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And the hits (literally) keep on coming

Triple Threat (2019) <Prime>

Looking for an action film, saw some good names on this film our of Thailand, so yeah, let's go. Our lead is Tony Jaa (famous Indonesian martial arts actor), and we open with him being in some jungle base that falls under attack by a team of commandoes led by Michael Jai White (who appears to have put on some weight, but later in the film we realize he has - muscle). Commando team storms in, breaks out their leader 'Collins' (Scott Adkins, whom I did not recognize as the lead from Accident Man nor realize he's been in a lot of action films, to include John Wick series). Two of the commando team are locals to SE Asia, used as trackers to find the camp and help break in, then they are dumped into the pit of prisoners while the team sets about blowing the base up.

We find Tony Jaa, one of the local military guys was hired for base security, no affiliation with anyone, but his wife is killed in the attack - he survives and sets out to get revenge. Our two trackers, Iko Uwais (Indonesian martial arts film star) and Tiger Hu Chen (never heard of him, but appears to be a big Chinese martial arts film star), manage to escape the pit and rescue the prisoners just before the explosion - seems they were hired for a 'humanitarian rescue' and when MJW and his crew got their guy out they were part of the trail that needed to be destroyed.

Commando team get back to the big city of Maha Jaya on a contract to kill some corporate princess set to give all the money to fighting the Triad syndicate, so of course they put a hit out on her. Iko and Tiger are also in town, just making money on pit fighting, when Jaa finds them and takes them on in revenge - he loses, and they nurse him back explaining they were lied to and double crossed, so the trio go after the commando team. Along the way Jaa is playing everyone, Tiger & Iko, the princess, and even joins the commando team for a bit to play them, so he is something of a wildcard acting independent but also with everyone.

For a SE Asia action film, this one is fairly star studded and filled with a LOT of fight sequences (and a ton of bullets). Dialogue is acceptable, as it floats between English, Mandarin (princess and Tiger), Indonesian (Jaa and Iko), and others....subtitles work well. Plot has several turns, as I pointed out, but no deep A-HA moments or something you see coming...it just plays out with twists and stays on pace. Really, if what you're after is a decent low thinking action film with biggish names, this is worth the ticket. Recommended 7.5/10
 

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