Trailer Time: The Mechanic – January 28, 2011

Hi again!

What is it about Jason Statham and action films? I’ve been a fan of his since seeing The Transporter way back when and he continues to show why he’s a favorite in the realm of action stars these days.

The Mechanic stars Statham as Arthur Bishop. He’s an assassin – also known as a “mechanic” – who gets called in for tough jobs. When his friend Harry (Donald Sutherland) is killed, the detachment with which he typically approaches his jobs flies out the window and he’s out for revenge. This is a remake of the 1972 picture The Mechanic starring Charles Bronson in the lead role.

I think Statham will kick some serious butt. The trailer looks like tons of fun – gunfire, explosions, and violence up the wazoo. Something tells me to leave the kiddies at home for this one.

Here’s the synopsis:

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a ‘mechanic’ – an elite assassin with a strict code and unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets. It’s a job that requires professional perfection and total detachment, and Bishop is the best in the business. But when his mentor and close friend Harry (Donald Sutherland) is murdered, Bishop is anything but detached. His next assignment is self-imposed – he wants those responsible dead.

His mission grows complicated when Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) approaches him with the same vengeful goal and a determination to learn Bishop’s trade. Bishop has always acted alone but he can’t turn his back on Harry’s son. A methodical hit man takes an impulsive student deep into his world and a deadly partnership is born. But while in pursuit of their ultimate mark, deceptions threaten to surface and those hired to fix problems become problems themselves.

–Fitz

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DVD Review: Ninja Assassin

Hi all!

Ninjas. They capture most young men’s attention at an early age. And some of us never outgrow that fascination. With 2009’s Ninja Assassin, those of us bitten by the ninja bug get a bit of an adrenaline boost. Ninjas plus decent story, fair acting, amazing choreography, buckets of blood, and more decapitations, lost limbs, and stabbings than you can count makes for a great movie about these tightly wound assassins.

The movie follows the life of Raizo (Rain) as he learns how to be a ninja at a school run by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society of trained killers. His master is Ozunu, played masterfully by Sho Kosugi, who has played ninja masters since the early ’80s with Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, and many others. Clearly Ozunu’s school is one of hard knocks – learning not only how to become a killing machine but how to control your fear, pain, and even your rate of healing. There is no coddling here.

Raizo is treated kindly by Kiriko (played as a young girl by Kylie Goldstein and as a teen by Anna Sawai), who helps him through some tough times. She tends his wounds and opens his heart with a little kindness. When she refuses to hurt another student after winning a training bout, Ozunu cuts her as punishment and she starts seeking a way out of the school. Unfortunately, her exit plan doesn’t work well and she pays the ultimate price…

When Raizo himself is tested, he finds that he can kill at Ozunu’s command, but that he can’t stand himself after he’s done it. He rebels and starts a campaign against the clan.

Bring into this the investigations of Europol agents Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) and her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles). Mika stumbles across a mystery she can’t resist and the two begin investigating killings around the globe seemingly paid for by 100 lbs. of gold.

To say the least, the ninja clans are not happy with being investigated and try to stop the agents dead in their tracks…

Ninja Assassin was a fun ninja movie. Not since films like Enter the Ninja and American Ninja have we seen these denizens of the night really cut loose in a big way.

If you don’t like blood, I’d advice that you skip this one. It flows freely. And if the blood doesn’t get to you, the unbelievable beheadings, chopped limbs, and generally being stabbed, sliced, or diced in myriad ways might. Definitely not what I’d recommend as a family film.

However, the story worked for me. Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Sand, the script has a solid beginning, middle, and great ending. The end answers the question that many of us ask as kids – who wins a battle between a group of ninjas and a bunch of heavily armed and armored commandos. Director James McTiegue did a great job weaving past and present into a seamless narrative that propels us into this violent but very cool world.

Overall this was a fun, violent movie about ninjas in the modern world. Throw in some blood, amazing fight choreography, and a decent story and it holds together nicely.

Also included on the DVD were some deleted scenes. Like many collections of such scenes, quite a few were cut with good reason and a few I might have left in. But it’s always interesting to see what doesn’t make the final version.

Be sure to check out Ninja Assassin at your favorite rental or retailer counter!

Catch up on your favorite shows and watch full length movies online.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out this and other great ninja movies at Amazon!

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DVD Review: Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball

Hi all…

Back in 2006, the movie Smokin’ Aces introduced us to a world of very unique assassins. In it, wanna-be mobster and magician Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven) decides he can run his own mob, which doesn’t sit well with his former mob ties. They put a million dollar contract on “Aces”, who squeals to the FBI to get their protection.

Every hit man or woman willing to take the contract shows up at the casino in Lake Tahoe where the FBI has “Aces” for safekeeping, which causes immediate carnage.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t like the original, even with the amazing cast. Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Wayne Newton, Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Chris Pine… the list goes on. But I found the story to be a total mess even with all the unique characters.

Now in 2010, we have Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball. This time, I thought there was a framework and a story I could wrap my head around.

Walter Weed (Tom Berenger) is a mid-level FBI analyst nearing retirement who suddenly has a three million dollar contract on his life. When the FBI gets wind of the contract, they put him under protective custody while they try to figure out why this guy is the target.

There were a few familiar actors, such as Tommy Flanagan as hit man Lazlo Soot, Ernie Hudson as FBI agent Anthony Vejar, and Vinnie Jones as assassin Finbar McTeague. But I was largely unfamiliar with the cast. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this intriguing movie.

Where the first film failed to capture my interest with its frenetic action, Smokin’ Aces 2 managed to present a unique set of characters while keeping the plot and story relatively linear with a satsifying ending.

The bizarre array of assassins, each with his or her own unique signature traits. Lazlo Soot with his penchant for taking molds of his victims’ faces so he can later use them as masks. Finbar McTeague with his love of power tools and torture techniques. The beautiful and deadly Ariella Martinez (Martha Higareda) with her knowledge of poisons. And the family of crazies who strap bombs onto midget clowns fired from a cannon… Did I mention they were crazy?

When you add the great story about Weed and the detailed underground vault in Chicago where the FBI team attempts to keep him safe, there are many levels to this movie to keep you entertained. As the team escorts Weed into the vault, I couldn’t help but think of the many episodes of Cities of the Underworld where they explore hidden realms beneath the ground.

The gun battle in the jazz club was also more realistic than many others I’ve seen in other films. Real-life gun battles are often brutish, short, and bloody events. And when you have as many guns being fired as were in the club, things get messy quickly.

The DVD includes many interesting extras in addition to the rated and unrated versions of the film.

Most of the available deleted scenes found their way into the unrated version but the gag reel was less than exciting. A few laughs, but not much more.

However, the rest of the features presented some interesting points of view about the film:

  • “Behind the Scenes with Joe Carnahan” allows executive producer Joe Carnahan, producer Mike Elliott, writers Olatunde Osunsanmi and Olumide Odebunmi, and director P.J. Pesce to talk about the world of Smokin’ Aces and some of their thoughts about the film.
  • “Confessions of an Assassin” lets director Pesce and much of the cast explore how the movie was made – blood, guts, bullets, and all.
  • “Ready, Aim, Fire: The Weapons of Smokin’ Aces 2” introduces you to the armorer who provided the 20+ guns and other weapons in the film.
  • “Cue the Clown” – easily my favorite feature on the DVD – walks you through the process of launching exploding clowns through the front door and windows of the jazz club – one of the most expensive stunts in the movie.
  • “The Bunker Mentality: Designing the Set” lets production designer Chris August, along with Pesce and Carnahan, talk about the open design they used to give them freedom to shoot nearly everywhere and the Art Deco look and feel used throughout.

Also included was feature commentary from Pesce and Carnahan.

Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball was a solid spy thriller with some serious carnage. Definitely a much better film than the original! Be sure to check it out when it’s released from Universal Studios on DVD January 19th, 2010.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this movie and others from Amazon!

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