Innovation in action movies…

Flashpoint

After seeing the piss-poor Rush Hour 3, and seeing the rather despondent face of Jackie Chan, I began to wonder whether we will ever see any genuine “innovation” in action movies…

I’m wondering, after the Die Hard 4.0’s and the Rush Hour 3’s of this world, whether action movies are destined to be teenage-friendly, or filled with cartoon violence which doesn’t amount to much.

Of course there is the odd exception to the rule, “The Bourne Identity” triology immediately springs to mind. But apart from that, I can’t think of another action movie that really breaks the boundaries of the “template action movie”.

Naturally when raising such an article, one would often point to the “Kung fu” genre. The “Hong Kong movie industry” (an umbrella term to cover movies coming as far away as Korea, Japan, Philippines and Thailand), is awash with kung fu action movies – most of which have generic plots, or action sequences that don’t push the boundaries.

Part of the problem is piracy, which is endemic of the Chinese mainland and the surrounding countries. Even as Jackie Chan himself has noted, piracy is getting worse; and is affecting movie production, resulting in studios pumping out template action movies surrounding the “John Woo” school of gun-play, which is almost 10 years out of date, or the inclusion of mafia’s, triads and gangsters.

Fortunately this doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there trying to do something different, or be innovative.

One could easily point to Tony Jaa of Thailand. His bone-crunching action really set the world talking in 2003 with “Ong Bak”; but Jaa’s movies any real plot. And the world has yet to see if Jaa can bring anything else to the world other than missing Buddha heads (Ong Bak) and missing Elephants (The Protector)…

Jet Li, who’s new upcoming film “War” should be a hoot; but will it bring anything new to the table? I think War will be a good action movie – and of course the long awaited “Jackie Chan vs Jet Li” movie, “The Forbidden Kingdom” will soon finish production – but I have a feeling this won’t be as good as everyone expects.

So, the only one left is Donnie Yen. His latest movie, “Dao huo xian” (AKA: “Flash Point” or “City Without Mercy”) is really cleaning up at the box offices in the east – and it has already been picked up by International studios. Billed as a “sort-of” sequel to Yen’s massive “SPL”, Flash point is almost all about innovation – especially with the inclusion of MMA (or mixed martial arts) which Yen last used in the movie “SPL”.

I do like Yen’s ability to innovate, and I think MMA could be one of the missing ingredients; that said – any movie, be it action or otherwise, needs a good story, good characterisations and that quintessential “X-factor”.

That said, I think action movies do need to change. If anything “The Bourne Identity”, “SPL”, “Die Hard” and “Flash Point” styles of movies should the reason to believe that change is not only inevitable, its happening.

Links and resources;

Rush Hour 3: Review

Rush Hour 3

“Rush Hour 3, AKA: Chris Tucker: The Movie”

“Rush Hour 3” is by-the-numbers summer action movie, but by the the time you’ve left and revisited the other prequels, you’ll soon realise just how shallow, empty and pointless this movie really is.

Caught up in development hell, script rewrites and complex salary negotiations, “Rush Hour 3” was always going to be a complex affair. The word was that Chris Tucker wanted $20 million and top-billing for his part.

It seems that his bargaining worked, because instead of a fun summer action movie, we got Chris Tucker yelling, screaming and zinging everyone in sight with his huge voice and overpowering everyone with his ego.

Yes, Chris Tucker in this movie was funny. But he was in almost 90% of the movie… and it seemed it was I was watching “Chris Tucker: The Movie”.

The plot of this movie is that the Ambassador of the first Rush Hour is shot by a sniper; leaving clues that ultimately lead to Paris – where Lee and Carter get mixed up with the Triads and Lee’s brother.

The plot of this movie is very similar to that of the first “Rush Hour” movie, indeed the Ambassador, his daughter and the whole secretive Triad Mafia all make an appearance in both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 3, indeed – the plot twist at the end (a plot twist that you can see coming a mile off) is even ripped off from the first movie.

Asides from the ripped-off plot and Tucker’s loud voice, Chan is left to do very little; there is none of the trademark Chan stunts, none of the flashy martial arts — Chan is Tucker’s “Kato”, a sidekick to Tucker’s movie; Asides from a few “freerunning” parts and a few fight sequences, Chan doesn’t do very much at all!

There is also a heck of a lot of CGI in this movie, the para-sailing stunt is so obviously CGI enhanced, and the fight on the structures of the Effiel Tower..

Maybe it was the budget, maybe the film was very rushed (it certainly felt that way), maybe the studio didn’t want high octane stunts and wanted it more “family friendly”… maybe Chan is getting very old and can’t do the same stunts that his fans expect from every movie he does — whatever the reason, the fact that Chan’s role is diminished and reduced is really depressing, annoying and frustrating – given that you’ve paid good movie to see a good action movie.

Sometimes I wonder if audiences will get bored of the family-safe action movies such as Die Hard 4.0 and Rush Hour 3… I hope that audiences will demand real action, and not this kind of template mess, which I feel does not add value to either action, or comedy movies.

Yes, “Rush Hour 3” is funny, there are some really good sequences, but asides from Tucker’s loud, egomaniac character; there is nothing to see in this movie, and I would advise you to watch it when it comes available to rent.

Overall: 3/10

The future

To be honest, I’m not sure where else to take my website, I’m currently considering changing/downgrading hosting, as it is very expensive for me to run this site; in addition I’m playing with an idea for a new blog, probably to be run via blogger.com which will talk only about my passion for Hong Kong styled action movies.

At the moment, I’m currently writing down ideas for content as I want to make sure I have enough content, and ideas to follow it through.

Elsewhere, I’m still currently looking for full-time work but have decided not to persuit any roles in my current location and look elsewhere…

I hope to resolve everything very soon!

The simpsons movie: Review

Simpsons

“A fun, enjoyable summer movie…”

I had reservations about a Simpsons movie, mainly because I feared it couldn’t match up to the cartoon TV series, also I had worries that the script wouldn’t be as crisp as the early cartoons.

But I can certainly say I did enjoy this movie. It was funny, enjoyable and was a good summer watch. Although the movie was very short and didn’t have as many gags as I’d like it to have, it was still good to see the Simpsons had a lot of ideas and was still as funny as on the small screen.

I remember seeing a late night TV arts programme with a panel of upper class people sitting around talking and reviewing movies, books, arts, etc; but when it came to the Simpsons, they spend something like 10 minutes trying to psycho-analyse The Simpsons… I mean, com’on – it’s a cartoon, not Shakespeare!

All in all, its a fun movie – but go in, switch your brain off, and have a good time.

Overall: 7/10.