Rocky Handsome (movie review)

Nothing can feel better at the moment than having some time to watch a movie. OK, there might be better things, but being absolutely busy at work, I really appreciate some free time. Therefore, you’ve guessed it, it’s time for another movie review!

I will admit the poster for the movie has got me and when I have read it is a 2016 Indian remake of Korean dark thriller “A Man From Nowhere” from 2010, I wanted to watch it even more. Because I do like the Korean original and I’m slowly developing my fondness for Indian cinema – but starting with mainly the newer productions as they are more likeable to an European viewer.

Now, thanks to Netflix (man, I will mention it quite a lot nowadays, as I’ve finally got a subscription, haha) I could watch it in all its glory, along with some other movies I have never heard about, yay!

As I’ve mentioned, the movie is a remake, so the story is basically the same. The lone guy develops a friendly relationship with his junkie neighbour’s daughter, and when criminals kidnap the mother and daughter over stolen heroin, our hero gets angry and all hell breaks loose. Because, our guy is not just an ordinary pawnshop owner, you know.

Being it an Indian production, of course, it brings to the table the peculiar feature of the Indian cinema – we are treated to a few melancholic songs and two dance numbers, nothing like that in the original, but at least the dancing is there well placed (dance club), so it’s not distracting, although it does make it more smoother that the very dark and gloomy Korean original. Which, one one hand, is a plus for people looking for something similar to John Wick style of action movies, but the movie loses its appeal a bit in the process.

Also, and I will sound like a heartless monster here, but saving of Naomi, although contributing to a kind of a happy ending, was really superficial, as – thinking of how criminals operate in these cases – she wouldn’t survive. Also, in that regard, the behaviour of Thai assassin is quite unexplainable. But I guess we need happy endings.

On the plus side, John Abraham is great as the main hero. Of course, he is not a martial arts guy, but I would count that as plus. The choreography is great and without any showmanship it really looks more like a real thing than unrealistic kung fu stuff we know from so many movies. And his expressions (and the lack of them when needed) are well acted. Although I guess viewers don’t need the graphic explanation of his character being a former special agent. No need for that sequences, they just make the movie getting little silly. Still, it might be more suitable for Indian audience, so I’m not gonna judge too harshly here.

The movie itself touches the ruthless, merciless child trafficking and organ harvesting, which is even more striking taking into consideration the big population of India and the number of people disappearing every day there. Also, Goa doesn’t look that much of a happy tourist place anymore, as we are treated with the picture of the criminal underbelly of the popular destination.

All said and done, it’s a good movie. Not as good as original, but as a remake, definitely recommended for people not familiar with new Indian cinema.

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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Drowning: Lost City Riders (a 2008 TV movie review)

Lost City Riders, well, its title, has caught my attention almost immediately. I admit, I am a sucker for “lost city” stuff.

I’ve watched the movie once before, but I don’t remember anything of it, which is usually a bad sign, however, with the plethora of movies (and other spare-time-killing activities) available, that’s not really something to go along with – and you probably agree, you remember movies from your childhood, but hardly something you’ve watched a month ago on Netflix.

That might have to do something with the overall quality of the modern cinema, but I guess I am digressing here a let’s get back to our flick.

The movie was directed by Jean de Segonzac, mostly known for directing episodes of various TV series, and starring James Brolin, Ian Somerhalder, Bettina Zimmermann, Jamie Thomas King, Elodie Frenck, Michael Mendl, Jeremy Crutchley and Benn Cross,

Well, Lost City Riders is not a movie you’re gonna remember. A co-production between German TV channel ProSieben and Sci-fi Channel (before its rebranding to SyFy Channel), you’ve seen the plot rehashed a million times before (and couple hundreds after 🙂 ).

The global warming caused the flooding of the Earth, only 10 % of the surface is habitable, and we’re encountering our – you’ve guessed it – Lost City Riders, a family unit (a guy with two adopted sons), raiding the submerged buildings for profit.

Our family unit planning the entering and escaping.

Unbeknownst to his two adopted sons Jack (Ian Somerhalder) and Thomas (Jamie Thomas King), their stepfather John Kubiak (James Brolin) is on the mission of finding the legendary scepter of Sobek, Egyptian god of Nile, who – according to legend – controlled by it the rising and falling down the waters of the great river.

And as it’s usually the case, he’s not alone! Enters Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) as a nefarious businessman trying to claim the scepter for himself to – well, you’ve guessed it again – make money!

Our villain Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) confronting Giovanna Becker (Bettina Zimmermann)

To complete the picture, we have Bettina Zimmermann as Giovanna Becker, Jack’s old love, and because it would be bad to leave the other boy alone, here comes the rescue in the form of Elodie Frenck (Cara Cahill).

You know how it plays, right? Yes, it’s pretty straightforward, with a bad underwater CGI effects, the story doesn’t allow for any twists or surprises, but the scenes in the Chinese cave (yes, we are all over the world, from Vatican to Dresden to Chinese cave system) with the secret room built in it got me in stitches. The acting there was on the level I’ve expected it turning to a scene from a adult video movie any second! Anyway, don’t shoot at the pianist for the piano not being in tune, as they say.

Putting the rod into the hole…or something like that.

I am not sure if it’s me getting old and more tolerant of everything, but I myself was surprised to actually watch the whole movie without any interruptions. I think I can safely state it was due to the level of watchable silliness on the TV screen, quite certainly unintentional by the creators of the movie.

But it’s about entertainment, right? In that case, they’ve succeeded.

Not that I’m gonna re-watch it any time soon (if ever).

Official trailer:

2-Headed Shark Attack (a movie review)

Well, alright, this last Tuesday the time was ripe again to just lay down on my couch. Nothing special, this time comes around regularly – every day. But that last Tuesday was special – I’ve decided to make some efforts to actually watch movies I’ve amassed on DVD/BluRay format. Because, you know – I buy movies, but I hardly have enough time to watch them.

So, to hell with procrastination, I am starting with the top shelf, from left. First title? Triple feature of shark goodiness! Indeed, it’s 2-Headed Shark Attack, 3-Headed Shark Attack and, God help me, 5-Headed Shark Attack in 3-DVD release!

Well, man’s got to keep his word, so I’ve popped the disc into my BR player… it’s 2-Headed Shark Attack time, folks!

Seasoned movie fans know what to expect when met with the logo of The Asylum production company. And The Asylum is indeed behind this 2012 production. So, are you ready to get the party started?

Tell you straight away, I was quite disappointed by the story. Not that one expects “Inception” or “Matrix”, but c’mon, this angle has been done to death. Probably even literally. It goes like this:

Still some body here. Carmen Electra’s catching sun.

We follow a sea trip of some students with their superiors – professor Babish (Charlie O’Connell) and his wife, Anne (Carmen Electra). Suddenly their ship is made immobile by the attack of the titular shark (although our crew doesn’t know it yet) and so our folks decide to stay on a nearby atol and wait till the hole in the ship is repaired (by one of the crewmen, who is actually a crew woman). You know how that goes, don’t you.

So, your ship is not usable, but what’s worse, even the atol they stay on is slowly sinking! And the 2-headed shark is circling around!

As I’ve said, you’d probably seen this scenario (or its variation) a couple of times already. But it doesn’t really matter, you don’t watch this kind of movies for a story, right?

That’s actually a fair question. Seeing the current rating on IMDB is solid 2.5 (out of 10), why would someone actually want to see this movie?

I’m glad you’ve asked. The answer you are looking for is – fun. Because, yeah, that’s the best kind of movies to watch with your buddies and have helluva fun. And I don’t mean it in any derogatory way, just to be clear.

Carmen Electra and Charlie O’Connell in their final moments

Personally, I absolutely love when The Asylum brings some known celebrities on board (no pun intended). Here, in 2-Headed Shark Attack, the honors are given to Carmen Electra, who I think is pretty horrible here, but I am pretty sure she’s not in the movie to act, therefore she’s forgiven. Charlie O’Connell in the role of Professor Babish is not faring much better, but I have to say, the scene where he and Carmen are kissing ina front of tsunami wave is likeable in a way it’s hard to describe. I know some cynic would now say – yeah, you’ve said that because that means they are in the movie no more! Well, no – even with the typical Asylum-esque cut between the scenes (you see tsunami coming, then you see a calm sea…you know the drill), this scene, no matter how wooden, is actually cute in their efforts to create an air of seriousness. I’ll give it to them. And I mean it.

Brooke Hogan (as Kate, right) and some of the students’ crew

The weight of the movie is carried on the shoulders of Brooke Hogan, the daughter of the legendary Hulk Hogan. And she has a body to prove it, brother! She’s not the best actress though – and the script certainly doesn’t help in this regard – but when you work with the limited resources, even this is OK.

That’s a scene with Amber English. Just so you know.

The other one to remember is Amber English for a topless scene. Probably the only scene one would remember from this movie, but that’s OK too.

Other than that, the rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. But even that can give you a start in your movie career (I am pretty sure many actors will agree).

Christopher Ray, the director

The director of this fun low-budget flick (well, it’s had a budget of one million, so “low budget” is probably not the best word to describe it) is none other than the son of a legendary Fred Olen Ray, Christopher Ray and I think he’s done the job requested well. Let’s be frank, there are no artistic ambitions here (and I am probably thankful for that), this level of movie production is pretty much clearly defined and when one delivers and the production company makes money, the movie is good. End of. And Christopher Ray does have quite a few of similar movies under his director’s belt (just to mention his second ever feature Reptisaurus, Megaconda and so forth) or the movie we’ve already talked about in the Rubber Axe webzine, Asteroid vs. Earth.

So, if you are a fan of “so bad, it’s good” movies, especially shark movies, I am pretty sure you’re not skipping that one. Myself, I’ve enjoyed it and that counts. A little.

And I have a few others lined up for a watching…now that’s some dedication, hm?

Target (a 2018 movie review)

Oh well, that’s something to talk about! Target, an Indonesian production from 2018, has appeared on Netflix (and thanks a lot for this and other Asian movies available through that streaming platform!) and because I was in a mood – again – to watch some Indonesian horror (after being quite disappointed with Iko Uwais’ 2018 movie “The Night Comes for Us” I’ve watched a few days before), I’ve chosen this movie. And why not right?

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I’m checking IMDB to see if anything is worthy of spending 90 minutes or so of my life watching some mediocre or sub-par movie, and sometimes I am lucky I don’t.

I’ve seen the rating of 4.0 for Target, but I’ve learnt already not to trust ratings too much, especially with movies coming from countries like this one we’re talking about, Indonesia. Simply put, it’s not what an usual Hollywood fan would expect and ratings sometimes reflex that unjustly.

Anyway, what we have here is basically a SAW rip-off, but with an unusual dose of comedy thrown in for a good measure. And surprisingly, it works (and that’s a relief).

The nice and welcome feature of the movie is the fact that actors and actresses play themselves. So Raditya Dika (who is also wrote and directed the movie) is simply Raditya Dika, the beautiful Cinta Laura Kiehl is …well, Cinta, and so on. The only exemption is Hifdzi Khoir, who plays Hifdzi, but in the end he’s revealed with another name.

So, as mentioned, Target is basically a SAW scenario. 9 actors are invited to shoot a movie called “Target”, only to being drugged and woke up in a boarded up hospital building. Being ordered around by a mysterious figure in the mask, people start dying…but not without a silly comedic inserts (check Cinta’s throwing knife to Hifdzi, which left me laughing like crazy) or the fight between Samuel Rizal and Abdur Arsyad, which is hillarious!

Obviously, the movie is not taking itself seriously, and so shouldn’t you. It’s a funny ride with a plenty of jokes and silly situations, where the horror factor is basically minimal. Don’t expect any gore galore as in the SAW franchise, this one plays it safe.

I kinda suspected the culprit from the death scene of Anggika Bolsterli, but was led astray a little, but the final reveal was not as much of a surprise. Still, although by Hollywood and seasoned horror/thriller viewer’s standards it’s nothing special and many would frown upon it, I had a good fun watching it.

And I guess, that’s what it’s all about.

Now, let’s have a look at who’s who in this movie. Good (and probably equally bad) thing is, these are mostly fresh actors, with not so many credits, which means they are not really known outside Indonesia. But who cares? It’s time to let them be known here!

Raditya Dika

Mentioned above, Target was written and directed by Raditya Dika, who also plays himself here, and it’s not the only movie he’s done that! He’s directed, written and starred in movies like Malam Minggu Miko Movie (2014), Single (2015), Koala Kumal (2016), The Guys (2107) and Single 2 (2019).

Cinta Laura Kiehl

Cinta Laura Kiehl got an uncredited role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), but also roles in movies like The Ninth Passenger (2018), MatiAnak (2019) or Jeritan Malam (2019).

Samuel Rizal

Samuel Rizal? I want to see him in Pocong the Origin (2019) and I definitely want to see Mangkujiwo (2020), the prequel to my favorite series Kuntilanak (but the original one with Julie Estelle, not the WTF remake from 2018).

Abdur Arsyad

Abdur Arsyad is more of a TV actor, but he was also in movies, mostly comedies, started with Si jago Merah 2: Air & Api (2015), Relationshit (2015), PSP: Gaya Mahasiswa (2019 or The Ghost Painter (2020). And he really does bring his comedy into Target.

Hifdzi Khoir

Hifdzi Khoir is another comedy actor and has his start in a comedy movie Tak Kemal Maka Tak Sayang (2014) which I know nothing about at all (lol). He can be seen in movies like Jagoan Instan (2016), Koala Kumal (2016), The Underdogs (2017) or Micin Generation (2018).

Ria Ricis

Are we finished? Not really, no! Ria Ricis is in The Underdogs (2017) also, and I would probably see her in a horror movie I Know When You’re Dead (Aku Tahu Kapan Kamu Mati, 2020).

Anggika Bolsterli

Anggika Bolsterli has started her movie career with Youtubers (2015), she was in Koala Kumal (2016) with Kifdzi and Raditya as well, Trinity: The Naked Traveler (2017) and it’s sequel Trinity Traveler (2019), and in dramedy Yowis Ben 2 and it’s TV series sequel, among others.

Billy Chong

Veteran action star Billy Chong (here going by the name of Willy Dozan) was in movies like Karate Sabuk Hitam (1979), Kung Fu Executioner (1981), Kung Fu Zombie (1981), Fistfull of Talons (1983), he was also in Mad Mission V: The Terracotta Hit (1989) and others.

Romy Rafael

Surprisingly, the last of those involved, Romy Rafael, has only this movie credit so far, but he’s not really an actor, so that is not so surprising.

The movie is on Netflix as of the March 2021 so if you want to get yourself acquainted with Indonesian horror cinema, you can check this one as well.

Be aware of those chakras! The 3rd Eye (movie review)

Not that I don’t have like a 1000+ movies to choose from, but you know how it goes – the more you have, the harder it is to choose. But I am in a mood for an Asian cinema, and I haven’t watched anything horror related for some time either, so the choice has been made.

Thanks to Netflix, we have now a pretty decent selection of the world cinema available, so I’ve opted for an 2017 Indonesian (surprised? You shouldn’t be, lol) production titled The 3rd Eye. Supernatural/Ghost horror? Sign me in, indeed!

The story isn’t complicated and it’s pretty straightforward. A young girl Abel (Bianca Hello) is plagued by ghosts in the family house, so they moved to other one, the house belonging to company for which her father works. But after the death of their parents in the car crash she and her older sister Alia (Jessica Mila) – along with her boyfriend, Davin (Denny Sumargo) – have to move back to their family house, where the hauntings continue.

Abel (Bianca Hello)

Later in the movie we learn that it’s all down to Abel’s opened 3rd eye, which is something Alia can’t believe, but thanks to the shaman Bu Windu (Citra Prima) her 3rd eye is opened as well…and as they say, be careful what you wish for.

Bu Windu (Citra Prima)

Alia is now capable to see ghosts as well, and slowly we’re getting to learn the whole story about the haunted house they live in…

And there’s where the filmmakers did rip-off The Exorcist. Not a biggie though.

The movie itself is nothing new, it also rip offs “The Exorcist” and the moving between the reality and the astral plane (or what to call this ghost dimension) feels like lifted from “Insidious”, but as a whole, it’s not boring and you’re not gonna suffer watching it (unlike some other movies).

Rocky Soraya

Directed by Rocky Soraya, who’s also behind other supernatural/possession movies like the sequel The 3rd Eye 2 (Mata Batin 2), The Doll, The Doll 2, Sabrina, Suzzana: Buried Alive or Jeritan Malam, the film is shot nicely, the interiors and exteriors are also nice, with vibrant colours and I’d say, I prefer this kind of camerawork.

I am very pleased with the cast too. The actors are not ones with long filmographies (except, probably, for Epy Kusnandar in the role of the gardener Mang Asep), quite the contrary, just with a few film credits under their belts and it’s just nice to see a new generation of actors having their chance.

The script plays it safely, so you can predict it pretty much without any surprises, although that being said, the angle with Davin was, in my opinion, absolutely unnecessary and just created an illogical WTF moment when revealed. I get what the Rocky (who is also credited as a story creator) and Riheam Junianti (the script writer) wanted to achieve with it, because it does serve its purpose, but the idea behind it is simply silly.

All in all, it’s nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing, but it’s a nice little supernatural movie to enjoy when you just want to relax and not trouble your mind with complicated plots or non-linear storytelling.

Although, if you share my love for Indonesian cinema (and music), you will enjoy it even more. And, of course, I will watch the sequel (and other Rocky Soraya’s movies available on Netflix).

Samoa, regina della giungla (a movie review)

It was Edwige Fenech’s birthday a few days ago, so I’ve decided to watch something from her filmography to celebrate with her! Seasoned movie lovers know many of the movies she’s been in, but as I am still catching up, I am looong way to finish it anytime soon. And that’s a good thing, I guess.

Edwige Fenech

And because I am always trying to go chronologically (as far as possible), I’ve chosen a flick from the beginning of her career – Samoa, regina della giungla, also known (not surprisingly) as Samoa, Queen of the Jungle, released in 1968. Yep, we’re going all way to (almost) the beginning of Edwige’s movie career.

And what movie it is! In medias res we are in a middle of a pub brawl (for no reason than to establish some fight cred for the lead character, apparently) and we follow Clint Loman (Roger Browne), the adventurer leading the group of other adventurers and geologists in the search of diamonds deep in the Borneo jungle. The movie itself is a little jungle adventure movie with some stock footage used (although, I will admit, I was not bothered, I actually admire the audacity of the filmmakers in stuff like that and it’s cute), the plot is predictable and once you’ve seen one of these old jungle adventure movies, you can probably safely guess what’s gonna happen. One rape attempt, natives attack and being shot by adventurers…and suddenly they meet beautiful Samoa (Edwige Fenech), a daughter of one previous adventurer choosing to stay with the local tribe, who takes them to their village. Of course, the only thing on the minds of our gang is diamonds! When one of them, Alain (Umberto Ceriani) befriends Yasmin (Femi Benussi), another beautiful village girl, she shows him the cave where natives keep diamonds as a part of their primitive fetish religion.

Well, adventurers are pretty bunch of thieves so it doesn’t take long for them to steal them, fights some natives and flee.

Pursued by Borneo headhunters, another shooting occurs and the gang splits (you know, diamond fever and people are not really willing to share with too many other members), and in the end we are left with Loman and Samoa in a romantic finish. What’s not to love here! Although, truth to be told, Loman is quite an asshole (him treating Samoa is anything but desirable). But, love is love, you know… 🙂

Indeed, the movie is formulaic but we’re here for the eye-candy and that’s Edwige, but I have to say Femi Benussi and Ivy Holzer were not too far behind here! Both actresses are in their 20s and are just incredibly beautiful. And that’s reason enough for watching this movie! Anyone disagreeing?

I was going to talk about the cast and other movies they were in, but honestly, with IMDB (and other pages) at hand, one can readily find that information. But suffice to say, that between them those actors and actresses have been in some amazing Italian exploitation movies and if one is able to find and watch all of those, he would have an excellent time spent with movies! No kidding!

Chain Reaction (a movie review)

Chain Reaction can refer to a few movies, so to clarify the situation, we’re gonna talk about 1996 movie starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz and Morgan Freeman. And it took me a while to get it on DVD! At least, for a decent price, you know…but, luckily, I’ve found a 3-movie pack (along with Johny Mnemonic and Point Break, so, yay…happy days!)

Well, of course, I’ve known about the movie since it had been released, but I didn’t think of watching it before and as time went by, I’ve even forgotten such a movie existed in the first place. Talk about priorities, haha.

But then I’ve got that joblot of DVDs with Steven Seagal’s movies and researching Seagal’s debut movie Above the Law (I still need to return to it and write the review, because you haven’t read about it about a thousand times already) I’ve come upon the name of the director, and that’s one Andrew Davis. And who’s the director of Chain Reaction? Yes, I knew you were clever!

Director Andrew Davis

And so I’ve remembered…yes, I wanted to see Chain Reaction! Obviously, the biggest draw is Neo…err, John Wick…dammit..Keanu Reeves himself, but obviously, with Morgan Freeman in the cast you basically can’t go wrong…and there are a few other nice actors here, but these two are the most known, I’d say.

Anyway, let’s see what’s in here for us, the movie lovers. As many other reviewers have pointed out, the plot is basically a rehash of 1993 movie The Fugitive (starring Harrison Ford), which has been directed by whom? Well, Andrew Davis. Now, it’s really hard to say what has contributed to the similarity of the scripts, but I’d bet my money on the classic exploitation – let’s copy something successfully earning money. And why not? In the end of the day, people need to earn their daily bread and don’t pretend they are in the movie business for the urge of creating a high art.

But I am not here to pontificate about this, I am here to tell you about the movie. So yeah, it’s a basic concept of the crime being commited and the frame-up of the innocent folks. Yep, it has “The Fugitive” formula all over.

The stakes are high here, as the group of scientists is working on a cold fusion technology, which allows for a normal water to be converted to fuel (or something like that, I have basically no knowledge of chemistry), but even to an average person on the street the consequences are clear. Free energy! No more extraorbitant costs for transportation!

Well yes, however… not everyone is happy with this. It reminds me a little of Nikola Tesla’s story and his concept of the free energy, but you know, if you can’t make profit from something, it’s of no interest to the powers that be (whoever and whatever they might be). And so the technology needs to be made secret and those in the know – silenced. And because we’re dealing with CIA guys, we all know what that means. And it goes exactly like you would guess.

Keanu Reeves as Eddie Kasalivich

Keanu Reeves plays Eddie Kasalivich, the young mechanic working on the above mentioned project with Dr. Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz), Dr. Alistair Barkley, Lu Chen and others. And there’s Paul Shannon (Morgan Freeman), who’s bankrolling the project.

Rachel Weisz as Dr. Lily Sinclair

And not so long after the successful completion of the experiment the lab is blown up, Dr. Barkley murdered and Lu Chen missing. Who’s here to blame? Yep, you’ve guessed it – Eddie and Lilly.

Morgan Freeman as Paul Shannon

Those two are now the objects of the nationwide manhunt by the FBI, the investigation is led by the FBI agent Leon Ford (Fred Ward) – and it’s really nice to see not only the perserverance of those, but also thinking outside the box (like why would a suspect have 250k hidden under the sink where you would suppose FBI would have found it), but they are also in the scope of CIA sub-contractors, whose head is Paul Shannon and, let’s face it, you won’t stand much chance against guys like those, Dr. Sinclair is caught and kidnapped to a secret research facility. Eddie follows, because that’s what you need to do, period.

You know how this all ends, don’t you? Sort of a happyend (if you persist to the end, you’ll get what I mean). But our duo is re-united, acquitted…so, hooray!

The verdict is easy to achieve, if you’ve liked the aforementioned The Fugitive, and you don’t mind a little repeat, then Chain Reaction will satisfy a nice movie night craving. At least, for me it did, and I have to say, lately I’ve had a little problem keeping my focus on the TV screen, being constantly distracted, so as a quality mark, I haven’t had that problem with this movie. Satisfied?

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