Fixing Blofeld

blofeld

“Spectre”, the 24th installment of the James Bond movie franchise movies saw the re-introduction of Ernst Stravo Blofeld. The noted arch-vile and mainstay villain of the classic 1960’s Sean Connery James Bond movies was rebooted for a modern era and audience.

However, as many reviewers and commentators have stated; this version of Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz, had very little to do in the movie; and that his character was in-developed or lacked any menace.

Indeed, I’m struggling to remember what Blofeld’s plan was in Spectre; only upon reading on Wikipedia I was able to find out that his overall goal was to standardize and monopolized the spying sharing network “Nine Eyes” for monetary reasons.

Many reviewers, including myself hated the reveal that “Franz Oberhauser” was a step-brother relative of James Bond.

Amazingly, this reveal of being step-brothers (or relatives) was used earlier in the Austin Powers’ movies; and the irony of this was not lost on many IMDB reviwers; considering how many within the Bond franchise had complained that Austin Powers’ had effectively emasculated and parodied any serious attempt to recreate Blofeld even before the thought of rebooting him came about.

A further blow came when Blofeld revealed “I was behind everything” force-patching the villain in every previous Daniel Craig James Bond movie was forced and, on the whole, didn’t make sense and again lazy.

Perhaps it was the writers need to patch everything together, the producers desire to make a cinematic universe to rival the on-going Marvel super-hero movies; or perhaps the Sony hack back in 2014 where the leaked script had to force writers down another path had lead to a poorly drafted Blofeld and a poor addition to the continuing James Bond series of movies.

On reddit, the rumors that the next James Bond movie will see a returning Blofeld and will follow plot points from the original Ian Fleming novel of “You only live twice”; that being Blofeld takes the pseduoname of “Dr. Guntram Shatterhand” and Daniel Craig’s James Bond is on a revenge mission to finally kill him.

And yet, I believe Blofeld can be fixed; albeit my idea of Blofeld’s background could have been better.

Make Blofeld a product of the CIA that went wrong

Fundamentally, I’d preface Blofeld a product of the CIA with the vision to ask; can the power of a state in an individual become a danger to the state?

I’d have written Blofeld as a product of the CIA, and a child of the CIA MK-Ultra project; the codename given to a series of illegal human and child experiments undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency, used to manipulate people’s mental states, altering brain functions, and the usage of drugs, sensory deprivation, isolation and verbal abuse, as well as other forms of psychological torture.

Imagine the relationship we saw in the James Bond movie “A View to a Kill (1985)” where Max Zorin had a subtle relationship with “Dr. Carl Mortner”; but on steroids.

I imagine that Blofeld would have fallen into a psychological trap of Stockholm syndrome with a domineering CIA “father” figure.

Similar to how in the movie 1978 movie, “The Boys of Brazil”; I believe that Blofeld’s background could be moulded by an “Dr. Josef Mengele” type individual, whom has a mind-set of creating a world figure; that they themselves controlled ten, twenty years prior.

Perhaps taking cues from the “The Parallax View” (1974); James Bond could investigate the historical routes of
a multinational corporation that has links to Blofeld; and its found that a former majority shareholder was the principal architect behind Blofeld’s rise on the world stage.

These tactics of Gaslighting, and “Divide and conqueror” would explain SPECTRE’s own tactics and where the formualised ideas and strategies came from.

TLDR;

In short, I see Blofeld as a troubled child that turned psychotic and twisted after realising he was remoulded by a shadowy CIA MK ultra project to craft him as a world leader; a Maitreya-esque figure, “a teacher” that created a SPECTRE in order to shape world opinion; as a reaction, a measure to take revenge on the world that blighted and a life stole from him.

I would ignore all ideas that Blofeld was related to James Bond; and perhaps “Franz Oberhauser” was indeed Blofeld’s original name; but Oberhauser took his “father’s” name, the name of Ernst Stravo Blofeld from his CIA handlers.

I believe that creating a solid foundation of what, who and why Blofeld exists and what his reason for being can be crafted; then his subsequent villainy, and evil can be treat the character as as serious comment on whether enemies in the mirror are any different to enemies in the shadows.

Super Bodyguard (2016) – Review

super bodyguard

Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed, written and produced by Yue Song
Starring: Yue Song, Xing Yu, Collin Chou, Michael Chan
Link: IMDB
Link: Trailer – Youtube

“An insane, rip-roaring, ultra-fast old-school Hong Kong action film that hides flaws in editing, poor continuity, storyline and character development.

In this heddy mix of “comic-book” superhero action, streetfighting, drama and mindless fun; Yue Song stars as Wu-Lin, a “Super bodyguard” assigned to be the bodyguard of an unruly, unappreciative daughter of one of the richest families in the city; whilst fending off attacks from a group of mobsters.

Wu-lin’s “super bodyguard” status comes from his “Iron Feet”, a secret martial arts technique that forces him to wear heavy iron overshoes for 10 years; which allows him to kick ass; and hard.

In the shadows is Wu-lin’s brother; another martial artist and bodyguard business partner who is obsessed with the technique, and wants it all to himself; and is willing to go to any length to learn it.

The brother; drunk with desire to learn the skill even joining forces with the mobsters to eventually kidnap the girl, and brutally putting Wu-lin into a shallow grave when he refuses to have anything to do with him.

Wu-Lin’s rises from the graves, takes off his iron-shoes, and decides to wipe out the gangsters once and for all and save the daughter from any further harm.

In a movie that Yue Song himself said, “The best [kung fu] film you’ll never see” (link), “Super Bodyguard” manages to channel the best of old-school Hong Kong action movies, combining it into a heady mixture that combines evil kung-fu clans, comic-book action, hundreds of bad guys into relentless action.

It’s clear that director, and star, Yue Song loves his action; fists, feet fly across the screen at reckless speed, almost to the point you dare not blink or you’ll miss something.

It’s no small feat either; as Yue Song was the director, writing, producing and heck; throw in stunt co-ordination as well on this movie.

With his strong background in martial arts, Yue throws himself into a plot that mostly serves as a thinly veiled vehicle to string together a lot of bone-shattering, fast-paced action sequences.

And yet, there were a lot of issues I had with the movie.

It really needed a seasoned producer at the helm.

Perhaps it was the English subtitles, but there were a lot of times where the storyline and key scenes just jump from one sequence to another. I found it very distracting.

There are also quite a few continuity issues with the movie too. Early on, a kid is teasing Yue Song with some ice cream as Song is doing the splits in an plaza (for some reason, its never explained what he’s doing there).

Suddenly a van of well dressed guys turn up, the camera is now pointing downwards — but wait, where did the little kid go to? Then, in the next shot the kid is back.

There are a number of key sequences that made me quite annoyed; they lead somewhere. Then there’s a cut and then it moves onto another scene.

An example of this is the chase between Song and a van of hoodlums who kidnap the daughter. The sequence runs for many minutes, with Yue chasing, jumping, riding the top; its all crazy stuff — but I kept asking myself how the slowly van must be travelling for Yue able to scale buildings and urban furniture and yet still keep up with a moving vehicle.

The whole sequence ends with Song IN-FRONT of the van, how the hell did he get there? It’s scenes like this and others similar to this that really made me scratch my head in confusion.

Another example; later on Song is faced with a guy with a sword and a bandage around his hand. Yue walks up to him, but before we can see anything — the camera cuts, and the next scene the sword-wielding victim is on the floor.

What was the point of that scene?

Another issue I had was that a lot of the background story is never explained until 30-50 minutes into the movie. I found this to be very poor and could have easily been the basis of the whole movie if they did it correctly.

There’s one quick scene where Wu-lin’s character is in his room and there are James Bond posters on the wall; I’m not sure why they are there. But it was interesting he had Pierce Brosnan’s GoldenEye and one of Dalton’s movies (Licence to Kill).

For a movie that touted itself as the next “Bruce Lee” in some promotions, and yet in another a movie that claims to have no special effects; the movie lends itself to using a lot — and I mean a lot of wire-fu.

Now, that wouldn’t be an issue if the story really laid out a solid foundation of why Yue Song’s character is able to perform superhero like bone-crunching moves.

The only real explanation we get is midway through the movie; that he was abandoned, had some kind of supernatural ability and was taught by an old man; before he too abandons Yue — telling him “success needs sacrifice”.

Even his “brother” isn’t really fleshed out; is he his real blood brother, step-brother (which is hinted at in the movie), his martial arts brother?

I do wish they had pushed the idea of him being a step brother a bit more to beefen up the story.

The storyline of this movie should have been “Success needs sacrifice”, and could have told the story of how the father adopts the abandoned Wu-lin (Yue Song) and quickly identifies his gift; and teaches him along side his blood-son; the story could have told it from the step-brother’s point of view about he secretly dispises his father for saving Wu Lin — and this would have helped fueled the blood feud between the two.

There are also parts of the movie that are very rushed. The “romance” between the bodyguard Wu-Lin and the daughter; almost immediately they fall in love. Although strangely Wu-lin never seems to act like he’s in love.

In this movie Song also has a tendency to “honour” wholesale sequences from movies he’s a fan of.

Whilst the most obvious one is “The Matrix Revolution”; where Song is battling a load of bad guys at the same time.

There are some other ones that I felt needed to be highlighted. Early on, Wu-lin is doing the splits in a plaza being taunted by a little kid who is eating ice cream. This is clearly similar to Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon” where a similar sequence occurs.

Later on, the whole bit where Wu-lin is failing to “protect” the daughter from a group of street hoodlums is clearly lifted wholesale from Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” (1985). But weirdly Chan’s version is better, because its background story is well developed, and funnier. Whereas here, it just happens.

Aside from poor storyline development, poor character development and sequences that break continuity or just seemed very rushed — I thought the movie was very good, well paced and had a lot of action in it.

It’s a movie that tries to mix Tony Jaa like bone-crunching action with Chinese folklore wire-fu action of old.

But I felt there was a certain disconnect with the two ideas; and it isn’t helped with the lack of a decent story.

It’s brutal, fast-paced and worth watching. One hopes that Yue Song gets it into cinemas worldwide; if it does — I certainly will be there.

Overall: 7/10

Review – Jason Bourne (2016)

Jason Bourne

UK Rated 12A
Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander

Review contains spoilers

Matt Damon returns as the elusive black ops operative Jason Bourne, in an action-packed, fast-paced summer movie that packs a punch, but isn’t as good as the prior movies or as good as it could have been.

Damon’s much anticipated reprisal of the Jason Bourne character has been long rumoured, despite Matt’s uneasiness to revisit the character.

For years, Damon has been talking about he didn’t want to return for a part he clearly no longer likes, in a production he would rather not be in.

After all, the character arc had been fulfilled in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), there wasn’t anything else to bring. Further, Matt didn’t want to revisit the character without director Paul Greengrass at the helm.

Presumably, after a big money deal — both Greengrass and Damon are back on board; cinema goers can follow the continuing saga of Jason Bourne.

Living off the grid, and haunted by his own demons about his past; Bourne is drawn out of hiding to uncover hidden truths about his past, and to get revenge on those whom he blames for his situation.

Julia Stiles returns as Nicky Parson; a friend and former associate of Bourne, works with a hacker/whistle blower to expose the CIA black’s ops via a remote station in Iceland. This hack exposes Parson to the CIA, and they suspect that Parson is in league with Bourne, and fear that Jason will expose the CIA’s operations publicly.

Their tracking leads directly to Jason in the middle of a Greek Protest, used as a cover for the exchange of data between Parson and Bourne; however the CIA are hot on their tail.

Ordered by CIA director, Robert Dewey, the CIA hit squads track Jason throughout the Greek Protest; until Nicky is slain by a sniper, called “The Asset”.

The movie continues from there as a chase movie, with Jason chasing after the CIA black ops teams throughout the world; and the CIA director using “The Asset” to eliminate Jason once and for all.

Added into the mix is a social media platform (Facebook all but in name) and its dealings with the CIA director, and a constant theme of privacy runs throughout the movie; until the rip-roaring finale at a Tech convention in Texas; where The Asset and Jason Bourne match up in a car-chase finale.

There is a lot going on in Jason Bourne. The movie is a fast-past chase movie, things move at a fast pace; and I certainly enjoyed the experience.

However. Jason Bourne is the weakest of all the series.

It hasn’t got the class of the original, nor as the story as tight as “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007); neither is at as effective as The Bourne Supremacy (2004). My won feeling is the Ultimatum is the best one, but the original had impact; it influenced a lot of movies, including the James Bond franchise.

Things I liked;

In this movie we have Jason Bourne knowing who he actually is, cured of amnesia, and battling an even larger enemy than before. There are car chases, well choreographed fight scenes,shootouts,explosions and everything else you would want from an action movie. This is something I enjoyed.

I really liked the whole 2 or 3 false flag sub-plots, we find out Bourne’s own inclusion in the CIA black ops program was a false flag, and CIA Director is plotting to use a false flag to undermine the social media and stronger privacy.

I loved all scenes involving crowds in this movie. The riot, the crowds moving out of the buildings when the fire alarms went off, and the convention in Vegas. I don’t know exactly why, but I thought those were extremely well done.

The movie is about revenge, but its unexpected usage of revenge from both the viewpoint of Jason Bourne and “The Asset” is interesting. Its such a shame they abandoned it right at the end of the movie.

The original trilogy captured that impersonal sadness and futility of the whole situation whenever Bourne encounters an ‘asset’ and is forced to kill him. The asset has his orders and Bourne must defend himself, and someone has to die, that’s just the way the world works. It didn’t need any of these plot/character contrivances to be impactful.

It would have been good to revisit the scene where the Professor in Identity says:

The Professor: [the Professor’s dying words] Look at this. Look at what they make you give.


So what exactly are my issues with Jason Bourne?

Jason Bourne’s story was already pretty wrapped up in “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007). So I wasn’t sure why he was returning, or why the beats of the movie felt like the best bits of other movies put together.

The movie starts in a scene that kept me thinking of the start of “Rambo III”. Both Rambo and Bourne are in an underground fight scene, living off the grid. I wasn’t sure what those fight scenes had to do with the movie; other than show that Bourne doesn’t like living with his past

The social media platform sub-plot really grinds the movie, almost to a halt. Any time it’s mentioned or brought up, the movie slows down and I feel it’s just in there to score political points for the filmmakers.

Yes, we get it. Social media platforms, like Facebook, are in bed with the CIA and other alphabet soup government agencies. It adds pretty much nothing to the movie. It seems to go nowhere, except to stage the final scene.

I believe the whole social media platform sub-plot could have been gutted and still have the final scene, perhaps with some small changes.

Nicky Parson’s death is a throw-away scene and Bourne looked like he didn’t give two sh*ts about it, he just basically moved on.

It would have been good to have added Parson’s death to mean something to Jason; perhaps a few scenes where he blames himself for her death, and even reflect it in Heather Lee (played by Alicia Vikander) who could be in a similar situation and then Bourne redeem’s himself.

Talking of Alicia Vikander, I found her accent to be all over the place; she played her character very well, an ambitious career-first person who uses people to position herself further up the chain, much to the disdain for her colleagues.

Tommy Lee Jones didn’t really do much, he looked very weathered and old. But I did like him as an act, he didn’t seem to do much except twirl his moustache.

Beyond actors, I felt the movie has too many coincidences and hack-eyed attempts to loop everything together.

The coincidence that The Asset and Jason Bourne are tied together are just eye-rolling and lazy, especially how the Asset is the guy who killed Bourne’s father.

It’s just coincidence that the guy who’s chasing Bourne in the present was also the guy who killed his father and he has a reason to be pissed at Bourne now, making it a personal vendetta?

The coincidence that nearly every CCTV camera is hooked up to the Internet, and shared with the CIA

The coincidence that the CIA makes a decision that always works; such as pulling the plug on the power to hacking station kills everything, it’s not like they were on laptops, oh wait.

The coincidence of people from being spotted in a huge crowd with relative ease to having all the spy gadgets (crucial to the plot) being within arms reach at a convention, etc etc.

There was also small things like: The movie has a privacy stance; its against breaking privacy, except at the end when the movie breaches a character’s privacy? What was all that about?

One last thing I didn’t like at all and I feel I need to mention it.

The end fight scene between Jason Bourne and The Asset is filmed: in the dark, at night, in a sewer with full-on shaky camera. You don’t see ANYTHING. The 12A rating may have been part reason for the bad end fight.

The hits mean nothing, and have no power. The Asset is a constant threat in the movie, yet at the end; the fight is a meaningless mess that is ended within 5 minutes. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME!

Can Paul Greengrass not film fights? Seriously, just centre the fight on camera; position it stationary and ensure the actors’ faces are clear. Make all cuts clean, and keep the focus on the fight. Its pretty easy.

I really went into the cinema hoping that Greengrass and Hollywood would have learnt something from The Raid, and other action movies from the East, yet they make the same mistakes and you don’t see anything; it was really bad and made me really quite angry.

Things that should have not been in the movie:

  • “Enhance!”, Heather Lee barking orders to zoom on a still image.
  • “Use sql to corrupt their database”
  • Mr Social Media CEO getting a standing ovation for saying the platform had great privacy settings? I’ve never seen a tech crowd that excited about anything, particularly privacy.

So in summary.

“Jason Bourne” (2016) is a summer chase-action movie that rekindles some of the nostalgic memories of the prior movies, but certain elements such as poor fight filmography, poor character exposition and lazy coincidence scenes really brought this movie far below its predecessors.

It’s smarter-than-average action film that isn’t as good as its predecessors.

Rating: 6/10

Worth watching. But don’t expect anything special.

Links:

Ong Bak 2 and Ong Bak 3 review

ongbak3

Tony Jaa, who hit to fame in 2008’s ground-breaking, world-wide hit “Ong Bak” created a rejuvenation into action cinema and put the laser focus of the world’s attention on Thai action cinema.

Following Ong Bak Jaa came out with 2005’s “Warrior King“, incorrectly labelled as Ong Bak 2, this movie carried on the formula of strong-style martial arts combined with fast-paced frenetic action.

Continue reading

When all else fails, break some glass

Jackie Chan’s 1985 hit “Police Story” might be best known to fans, and even to Jackie’s own production team as “Glass story”, but here’s a short clip of “Kung Fu Kids 2“, a Taiwanese movie which seems to be on a mission to insert as much glass into a fight sequence as humanly possible.

One scene in particular gets me to laugh every time is the sequence where one of the Kids promptly kicks a bad guy in the head and he smashes through a pane glassed balcony and then spins into a table.

When ever I watch clips of any of the Kung Fu Kids movies, I’m reminded of the 1992 Hollywood version Three Ninja Kids, although I’m sure most of the stunts you see in Kung Fu Kids (or any of its many sequels and spin-offs) you wouldn’t normally see in a Hollywood production.

Another movie which is well known for its Glass breaking scenes is Benny Chan’s “Invisible Target” (Trailer, Youtube) for which Twitch in its review states, “Invisible Target is … full of breaking glass. Every time someone flies through the air, it’s very likely that somewhere somehow, there will be a pane of glass for his projectile body to shatter. Far from being a nuisance, it’s really rather amusing to watch and anticipate.”

A tongue in cheek look at Indiana Jones

Tongue in Cheek

Firstly. Yes. I did enjoy “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. In my original article (now lost to editing hell) I was perhaps a bit too harsh about a few elements, but I did think it was a good enjoyable summer movie.

But even saying that, I still hate the CGI, the nuclear fridge (something that has now spawned its own viral), the gophers, the swinging Indy Jones Junior. And it seems looking around the Internet most people tend to agree.

So, I thought I’d list some notable parodies I’ve seen around the Internet. Some of them are fun, some of them are just plain dumb. But if you can take a joke, and have a sense of humor then you’ll enjoy these – otherwise, look away now. Continue reading

Review – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones

An enjoyable summer action-adventure romp.

[NOTE: Edited on 26 May 2008: Removing spoilers]

Its been 18 years since the last “Indiana Jones” movie, and the one question everyone has is, “is it worth the wait”?” Yes, and no.

Set in the “red-scare” era of 1950’s America, Doctor Jones is forced by Russian agents (replacing the cartoon Nazi agents) to help them raid a top secret US warehouse housing artifacts and in the process helps them recover a highly secretive artifact, one that resembles a Crystal skull. Continue reading

Forbidden Kingdom: Movie Review

Forbidden Kingdom Movie Review

General cinema fans will be impressed, but hardcore fans will be disappointed.

Although I don’t usually fall for movie hype, I must admit the hype for the “Jackie and Jet project” was something that I eagerly awaiting for.

For the past few months I’ve been blogging articles about the fabled “Jackie and Jet” project, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, asking myself all sorts of questions, What kind of duel role the two legends of action would have? Would Jackie break the mould and star as a villain? Would the Jackie and Jet fight be a throwback to the fights of the late 80s? Was this “Jackie and Jet project” going to be their answer to Donnie Yen’s superb “SPL” and “Flashpoint”?

For the first time in their respective careers, both Jackie Chan and Jet Li star in this eagerly awaiting movie pairing. Directed by Rob Minkoff, the movie is based upon the classic Chinese fable “Monkey” and is a fantasy-action-adventure movie that takes ideas from Jet Li’s “Hero” as well as the world-wide smash, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. Continue reading

Another look at Forbidden Kingdom

Jet Li Forbidden Kingdom

This is another look at the upcoming Jet Li/Jackie Chan project, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, and is a follow up to my article “Jackie vs Jet: The Forbidden Kingdom: A preview“.

The Forbidden Kingdom is the widely anticipated movie which will see both Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the same movie for the first time in movie history.

The recently released Americanised-heavy trailer has worried many pundits that the movie will have actually very little on-screen time between Jackie and Jet. Some fans are worried that the on-screen fight sequences between Chan and Li will be short, quick and ultimately unsatisfying, whilst others express concern that an American-focused approach will take away the heart and soul of what should be a great movie. Indeed, both Jackie and Jet have told fans to keep expectations low.

Having said that, another trailer I’ve seen seem to give a much more romantic, Crouching-tiger-coming-of-age feel to the movie.

For me, the coming-of-age style works better than than the Americanised version, because it tells a story that the other doesn’t, also it gives you the impression it’s going to be a good, well-written story.

Yes, I am disappointed with the American-point-of-view of the plot/story, but it could work incredibly well.

We’ll know later on in 2008 when Forbidden Kingdom is released.

If you’re interested in reading up on Hong Kong style movies, I recommend Bey Logan’s blog on Dragon Dynasty.

Links;