Cradle 2 the Grave – Review

Review of Cradle 2 the Grave;

Andrzej Bartkowiak directs the third in his “bling bling” kung fu movie in which American rapper DMX and his motley crew rob some diamonds from a bank (or something), specifically black diamonds which his team are stealing to order for Mark Dacascos “professional” team.

During the robbery, DMX explains to his team the value of the coloured diamonds. This is a plot point, but this is ignored, as is most of the other stuff in the movie.

Jet Li, in a muted and frankly uninspiring role, plays a silent Taiwan spy sent to retrieve the black diamonds, although from the start you don’t know whether he’s on the good side or not because he’s often seen talking to Dacascos. I thought this was pretty clever, but this idea is never really developed – this is because Li hardly ever speaks or emotes anything. He just looks weather-beaten and bored. I feel sorry for him as an actor. Anyway, back to my review.

DMX is one of the “heroes” of the movies, despite being a high-tech diamond robber. Unfortuently I wasn’t sure whether I should cheer for his character or not. He’s meant to be a bad guy, but is touted throughout the film as just doing the job to get by… that might be so, but if he’s struggling to get by why is he driving an expensive German sports car and wearing flashy leather clothes?

DMX’s daughter is kidnapped, and this is where the film falls apart and tries too hard to be a “hard-nosed” action movie, but I kept saying “oh come on” right throughout the movie. One example is the chase between DMX’s porshce and a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Another example is when Jet Li decides to scale down a high-rise building by going around the outside and using his hands to hold onto the ledges and then falling onto the next level. This film moves so much inbetween reality and wire-fu it makes the film utterly ridiculous. Especially when DMX starts doing wire-fu, beating up Jet Li or running up walls to escape dogs.

Anyway, DMX’s team decide to take the black diamonds to an annoying Tom Arnold (who has Tanks in his backyard) to get them valued. DMX gives Arnold ALL of the diamonds! Earlier in the film we saw DMX professing some knowledge of the value of coloured diamonds, and one would assume that the black diamonds are the most precious – so why did DMX give Arnold ALL of the diamonds? From that moment on I knew this movie was pointless. Arnold then goes to lose all the diamonds…

Mark’s team is meant to be a professional team yet make so many mistakes its hilarious. When they kidnap DMX’s daughter they don’t tie her up or blindfold her until later on in the movie. The team always bitches against each other, especially the guy who likes to think he’s the reincarnation of “J. Robert Oppenheimer” (the father of the atomic bomb who famously said “I have become death, destroyer of worlds”).

DMX’s daughter is not scared at all by the big scary guys with sub-machine guns and tries on many occasions to escape – in one hilarious sequence she drives a van with blacked out windows – and yet Mark and his team don’t do anything other than tie her up. They should have put her in a cell.

Anyhow, other random stuff happens – DMX gets chased by cops whilst he’s on a quadbike and Jet Li fights UFC fighters in a cage – but this is where you can see Andrzej Bartkowiak ideas for a hard nosed action movie fall apart… he cuts back and forth from the UFC fight and to the DMX chase. This really annoyed me, and made the film even more messier.

By the end we’re treated to an auction of the black diamonds and an all out action sequence begins with a shoot-out between a Tank and a guy with some sort of twin mounted machine gun. Naturally the tank wins but the damage it does is very minor.

Anyhow, Mark tries to escape via a helicopter and Bartkowiak who must have watched too many episodes of the A-Team decides to blow up the helicopter – but Mark stumbles out of the wreckage without a scratch..

Then, Bartkowiak treats us to yet another one of his clichd “ring of fire” fights – I’ve seen this idea done so many times and its never, ever worked. Bartkowiak makes it worse by cutting from the much anticipated fight between Mark and Jet Li to the numerous fights that are meant to be going on at the same time.

The fight between Mark and Li isn’t very special and is ruined by poor lighting, the rain and the horrible cutting from one fight sequence to another – it reminded me of “The Phantom Menance” where it moved from one sequence to another and it totally ruined the very good ending. This is very similar.

In the end the cops arrive, but for some reason decide not to arrest DMX for stealing the diamonds or Tom Arnold for possessing a Tank. Heck they don’t even question Jet Li of why he’s spying in United States.

But its all okay, we’ve been watching “crade 2 the grave” and none of it matters. All I learnt from this movie is that all that matters in the world is ‘bling bling’ — all style and no substance.

Overall: 3/10

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0306685/

Why would anyone want to manage England?

News of the World gets its pound of flesh

So Sven’s leaving after the 2006 World Cup and, if you believe the News of the World or other newspapers of the kind, it wasn’t too soon.

In my mind the English press always had it out for Sven since the get-go. He wasn’t English they cried. He doesn’t do the coaching they yelled. He doesn’t get angry, upset or show any emotion (good or bad) when England lose, or conceede a goal and doesn’t rant and rave from the dougouts they bemoan.

The press always want to have a dig at Sven and in the News of the World case they even gave Sven his own shovels. Sure he was naive, he was unflattering about players and the whole situation was beyond farcial, but was it REALLY necessary for the NOTW to bring down the England team?

What’s ironic is that when England get into the competition the News of the World will be fully behind him, and his team and will be distributing face masks of Sven, England flags and have headlines screaming “Come on you boys!”… and you know what, it’ll be totally hypocritical and I for one won’t buy their sudden change of heart.

So, the press get’s its pound of flesh and now they want to install another manager, but he *must* be English – but none of the top managers have true International background, nor have the top English managers won any major trophies to even compare with that of the International stage, and even the newspaper cliques themselves know that the way the National team plays is significantly different to the Premier League; so what’s the point of appointing someone that hasn’t got the experience?

If we are going to replace Sven, we need someone with an edge, or an X-factor; something that signifies he is not only tactically sound, but will actually get the team winning and will give the motivation that the press “demands” so that even if the team does lose a game the press won’t suddenly ask for the England manager’s head on a steel plate.

Another issue is why would anyone want to manage England? It’s a poisioned chalice, every paper is friendly one day then asking for your head on another, and if they can’t get you out by bad headlines – they by hook, by crook or by misdemenor.

You know what, maybe this will inspire the England team to go to that extra heights… and if we do win the World Cup, I don’t think the press should get any recoginition or claim any of the glory, nor let it have any stories that start “THE [enter newspaper name here] wins the world cup!”

After the dust settles, and all is said and done, who in their right mind would want to manage England? I don’t think I would! Would you?

Raise the Titanic – Review

Perhaps the most boring movie of ALL time!

Some egg-heads in the higher echelons of the US department of defense have discovered a mystical and obviously bunkum mineral “Byzanium” which will aid their attempt to generate the “holy grail” of nuclear proliferation; a nuclear wall of lasers that will stop any incoming ICBM, much like the star wars or SDI project. Only, its really expensive to mine, in short supply and the only known mine is in Soviet hands.

Except, well Dirk Pitt knows of another source; the mythical byzanium can be found on the RMS Titanic which sunk to the bottom of the Ocean.

Whereas this could have been a good “race-against-time” and was obviously molded on the whole Ice Station From Zebra with generous Bond-like undertones from the soundtrack, this movie is so SLOW its hard not to get up from your sofa, do a few exercises, go around the park with your dog and come back to find out their still in the water doing something “dangerous”.

To say this movie plods through its non-existent and paper-thin plot with the pace of snail is perhaps a compliment to this movie which overly spent on budget and grandeur for little return.

Everyone is miscast, there is no suspense — and in the end we find out that they spent 100 Billion Dollars on rising a ship when the mystical byzanium isn’t even on the ship — they later find its in someones grave but don’t bother to dig it up because of the moral implications… but I’m not sure if they were the moral implications of robbing someone’s grave or because the byzanium could be used for, wait for it, a byzanium bomb.

Another thing I noticed from this leave the grave scene is that is very ironic consider, the ship, Titanic, has sunk with its treasure; so the US navy decides to rob it but wont rob a poor mans grave and seeing now Titanic is being purged by people aiming to make a quick buck on tragedy well I thought the whole scene was ironic.

I almost choked on my pseudo-popcorn at that point. Its almost like they said “Hey we spent 100 billion dollars on this tedious project; 3 people died — but what the hell, let’s leave the super-radioactive gunk in this grave, it won’t hurt anyone!” The movie is tired, boring, stale, flat, and utterly a waste of time, money, effort, valor or reason.

IMDB: Raise the Titanic [IMDB]
Rating: 1 out of 10.

Best Gangster Movies of the 1920s-1930s

We all know of Tony Montana in the film Scarface, and you’re probably are aware of Casino, The Godfather Trilogy, Once upon a time in America, and so on…

But these are all very modern gangster movies, what about older gangster movies? Can older gangster movies really pitch it against today’s modern day gangster movies?

I’d like to think so. In my mind, there was no better gangster actor then James Cagney — sure he did other movies, but Cagney, for me, is the man who defines what gangster movies are about.

Even if you disagree with Cagney as my choice, there are lots other choices out there… Here’s my list of movies, in no particular order, that any gangster movie lover should watch at least once.

  1. Scarface (1932)
    Tony Montana might be this generation’s Scarface, but before him was Antonio ‘Tony’ Camonte. The two movie’s aren’t dis-similar in material, plot outline or in sheer vengenance. I liked this movie; but I still liked Roaring Twenties better. It is quite a savage attack on the Government on the time to do something against the racketeers that Camonte represented.
  2. The Public Enemy (1931)
    Widely considered to be the best 30’s gangster movie and rightly so. Strong, powerful performances and a gripping storyline
  3. The Roaring Twenties (1939)
    A film that covers the highs and lows of the 13-year-long prohibition and follows the metoric rise and subsequent fall of James Cagney’s character Eddie Bartlett and his foray into the illegal liquor racket business. It has a good cast, including James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Gladys George as Panama Smith
  4. Little Caesar (1931)
    The movie that introduced the world to the acting talent of Edward G. Robinson. This movie is perhaps most memorable for the very memorable “nasal”-like accent that G. Robinson used throughout this movie and would be parodied so much in later times. I also like this movie because Rico (Robinson’s character) is very ambious and obviousily very arrogant, he’s a lot closer to Tony Montana, but at the same time he offers something much more than Montana did.

I recently saw a Christina Aguilera pop video. I don’t actually like Aguilera, but in the video it showed a Black/Afro-American gangster rising to the top, much like the Rico’s and the Camonte’s of this world – it got me thinking; were they any major black figures in the Prohibition? The only movies I could find were Blaxploitation movies like Black Ceasar, which is a remake of Littel Caesar – and of course, Shaft.

But, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Most of these movies won’t be seen by today’s generation – and that’s a shame, cause I feel these movies are timeless, and a lot of fun to watch.