Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Barry Norman

Received various DVDs as Xmas presents and then bought some more in the sales. Here's some quick thoughts on the ones I've watched so far.

Assault on Precinct 13 -- Never seen the original but I'd heard that this remake was pretty good. I'd heard wrong. Glossy rather than gritty, with paper-thin characterization, awful dialogue and boring action scenes. Even managed to bungle the seemingly foolproof notion of updating Rio Bravo to the present day by introducing some pointless plot twists. Only good point was the unexpected killing of one of the characters who seemed guaranteed to survive.

Ong-Bak -- Tony Jaa kicks, punches, knees and elbows his way through a bunch of thugs for two hours or so. Very little plot or character development but who cares when the action looks like this? That said, it would be nice if Jaa could work on his acting range a little. Jet Li and Jackie Chan will never be called great actors but at least they have more than one facial expression.

A History of Violence -- A little disappointed with this one. Yes, the acting and writing is much better than in the above films but it still didn't live up to the hype. Viggo Mortensen is fine as the mild-mannered hero but less convincing as his vicious alter ego. I never really understood why the character turned his back on his old life. Also, Mortensen's fight scenes look too martial arts-ified. Okay, he's not leaping around like Tony Jaa but he's all palm heels, armlocks and spearhands to the throat. Would have been more fitting for his character to bite off ears, gouge eyeballs and beat people to death with chairlegs. Overall the film felt a lot more simplistic than I was expecting. Cronenberg seemed too pleased with his modern-day Western's "subversion" of the ethics of the classical Western to notice that the themes he's exploring -- the bad man trying to escape his former life, the dilemma of violence versus a peaceful existence -- are in fact staples of the genre. Not a bad film then but not as good as it thinks it is.


Gary said...

Stu - you realise that this means we have the same opinion of "History of Violence"?

We actually agree on something.

I'm scared.

Stuart Young said...

Me too.

Aarghh, it's happened again!

Chris said...

I can't believe you haven't seen the original Precinct 13, Stu - 'tis classic. :)

"Gotta smoke?"