“O” Is For Oldboy

O” is for Oldboy (2003)

once upon a time I didn’t reckon much to foreign movies with their annoying subtitles and dodgy acting. Since then of course I have grown into a mature, fully rounded human being and can appreciate things differently.

I have now seen numerous films from other countries, but my favourite of them all thus far has to be the original Korean version of Oldboy. “They” always say that the remakes never match up and in this case I have to agree. There was always going to be an updated Westernised version of this movie. See my review HERE.

So, it was a friend of mine that got me onto this movie in the first place. Gordon Macari happened to post up a video on Facebook one evening entitled “The best fight scene in a movie ever” or something along those lines and I watched it and was blown away. Now I’ve seen The Matrix, and Equilibrium and other movies with epic fight scenes in them, but nothing compares to one guy with a hammer taking on an entire army, or so it seems, in a warehouse corridor.

MV5BMTI3NTQyMzU5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTM2MjgyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_After I had seen that, I knew that I had to watch the whole even if I didn’t completely understand it due to the subtitles. I have found in the past that some of the meaning of the story is sometimes lost in the translation of the language, but in Oldboy’s case, this was not to be. It was easy to follow and just a great story. For those of you who don’t know, Dae-su Oh is kidnapped and imprisoned in a room for a total of fifteen years without know why or who by. When he is released, he is given 5 days to work out the answers and confront his captor.

A warning: this film is bloody. There is violence aplenty so it if is not your thing, then perhaps it isn’t for you, but as a piece of filmmaking and storytelling, Oldboy is superb. I found that I was completely wrapped up in what was happening to Dae-su and before you know it, the answers are revealed and you suddenly get what it is all about. If you feel that you cannot watch the film with subtitles, then try to get a hold of a dubbed version, there is one out there and I would recommend you watch the original rather than the Josh Brolin remake from last year. Oldboy is a film that I would have to sit down and watch if I caught it on the TV. I shall embed the fight scene at the end of this post in the hopes that it inspires you to watch the whole movie, just as it did me. If you have seen both versions, which do you prefer?

Fun Fact: The famous one-take corridor scene was shot in three days. No CGI was used to cleverly edit the sequence like a single shot but the scene was actually shot in one take (although a little CGI was used to show Oh Dae Su getting stabbed in the back with a knife and to correct some punches landing).

“N” Is For National Treasure: Book Of Secrets

N” is for National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)

now and then a sequel comes along that in my opinion is better than the original movie. Book Of Secrets is such a movie. Nicolas Cage stars in this treasure hunting follow up to the highly successful National Treasure.

This time the gang is on the trail of evidence to prove the innocence of an ancestor of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin who killed President Abraham Lincoln. Of course is true Ben Gates fashion, someone else is in the race to discover the truth.

Quite a cast list here, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Harvey Keitel and Ed Harris all star here in a film that did really well at the box office and I am surprised that we still haven’t seen a third movie surface. That would be great because I have found both of these movies highly enjoyable, but I think the element of part of the movie being in the UK made this a little more appealing. In fact that whole scene in London is pretty funny and the madcap Nic Cage tops it off with some terrible accents but really funny lines timed to perfection.

MV5BMTU2NTM3NjU1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg1MDU1MQ@@._V1_SX214_This film entertains me with its story, which is clever, logical and action packed. I would go as far as saying that I actually enjoy these movies more than the Indiana Jones films. i think its because they were much more serious whereas, the National Treasures are much more fun and have some great comic sequences. Directed by Jon Turteltaub who took the helm of the first movie, he manages to mix the action and the comedy to a perfect blend and the writing is just really good.

As I said, I am surprised that a third movie hasn’t come around yet, but apparently one has been announced, but that has been for some time and Turteltaub and Cage are the only two people linked with the project so as to how much truth we can put in the announcement, well that remains to be seen. If you had the choice, do you prefer Indiana Jones or Benjamin Gates? Do you prefer a serious treasure hunt film or the more comedic type. I would love to hear your thoughts on the differences between the two series of films.

Fun Fact: Jon Voight’s character notes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt installed a wooden panel over the front of the Resolute Desk, in order to conceal his wheelchair. Voight played Roosevelt in Pearl Harbor (2001), also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

“M” Is For Mission Impossible

M” is for Mission: Impossible (1996)

movies should be exciting, able to make you think, keep you on the edge of your seat, have twists and turns and then at the last minute, completely turn everything you thought you had worked out, on its head. Mission: Impossible does exactly that.

It’s a great example of what a mystery movie should be like and it is in my opinion the best of the series that Tom Cruise had made his own little pet over the years. There is much to like about this movie.
The cast is phenomenal. There is a really good cast here including Jon Voigt, Emilio Estevez, Emanuelle, Vanessa Redgrave, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames and Kristin Scott Thomas. The story is very simple, a group of undercover agents who are wrongly accused of being traitors must uncover the truth without the aid of their agency and they must do it without the real traitor knowing what they are doing as they may be one of them.

MV5BMTc3NjI2MjU0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk3ODYxMTE@._V1_SX214_I just love how clever this story is despite its simplicity. The characters have to disguise themselves to blend in with the surroundings they put themselves in and just like the original 60s TV series, all is usually revealed after the sting itself. Released in 1996, the film itself was a massive success and sparked the start of a franchise that has now had four movies made. Tom Cruise now serves as executive producer on the series of movies that in total have made over $2bn at the box offices.

A fifth movie is already in pre-production and should prove to be just as successful as its predecessors. The cast is as the fourth movie, but we all know that these things have a habit of changing through the process of making the actual film. At the moment director Christopher McQuarrie is on board to take the helm of the next film, but each of the films has had a different director. Do you think this has an effect on the quality of the film? For fans of the series, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on which of the movies you prefer from the franchise.

Fun Fact: Last motion picture from a major studio to be released on Betamax.

“L” Is For Last Action Hero

L” is for Last Action Hero (1993)

lights, camera, action! This early 90s film is a favourite of mine. In a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger was King of Hollywood, he came out with this one, that basically takes a huge swipe at himself and everything in the movie world.

Arnie had just had a treble of hits with Terminator 2, Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop and this was just a great mix of the serious and funny and showed that Arnie was able to take a pop at himself and not it too seriously in Last Action Hero.

I love this film. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I went to the cinema TWICE on my own to see it. The movie basically follows the story of a young boy who is mad on films getting to see his favourite character’s latest movie and inadvertently getting sucked into the movie itself. While in the movie, Danny (Austin O’Brien) and his hero Jack Slater uncover a plot to assassinate the head of a crime syndicate and blame it on another crime family.

MV5BNDg4OTg5MTc0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTUxMzgxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_There is a very healthy cast in this movie. Charles Dance is superb as Benedict, the main villain and the gimmick of the false eye that he keeps changing is a good one. Also starring are Anthony Quinn, F. Murray Abraham, Ian McKellen and Tom Noonan. There is also a very enjoyable soundtrack to this movie which includes the single by AC/DCBig Gun” which I remember buying on cassette when it was released. (I had moved on from 7″ vinyl by then).

In a world where guns don’t need to be reloaded and crashes never result in the loss of life. This of course only happens in the movie world. When Benedict manages to cross over from that world into our world, Jack Slater has to realise that his rules no longer apply to him and he has to be much more careful or risk injury or death to himself or Danny who has attached himself to Slater and is helping him adapt to the new rules. I just found the whole novelty of this movie extremely refreshing and its a good story aswell. The action is great and it’s just an all round good fun movie. I recommend it to fans of Arnie and movies in general.

Fun Fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger considered Last Action Hero (1993) his first real failure after an unbroken string of successes. He also considered it the beginning of the end of his film career.

“K” Is For Krull

K” is for Krull (1983)

ken Marshall, to be fair, didn’t really become a great movie star. He is known for the heady heights of an episode of Baywatch, but what I remember him for the most is the 80s fantasy movie Krull.

Made in 1983, this children’s fantasy movie was made on a budget of around £30M but it failed spectacularly at the box office. That said, it remains one of my fondest childhood memories and it is films like these that ignited my love for the cinema that continues to this day.

I loved all those fantasy films from when I was a kid. Krull was one of them and I have successfully managed to use films like this to get my eldest son into movies. The story is a classic tale of the handsome Prince rescuing his bride from the evil tyrant, and although on first glimpse this movie would appear to be set on Earth in the middle ages, it is in fact a science fiction movie set on another planet.

MV5BMTcxNDYxNjY3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjc1ODg4._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_The film is responsible for launching quite a number of actors. Lets take a look at who appears in this film. Liam Neeson, Todd Carty, Bernard Bresslaw, Lysette Anthony, Francesca Annis, Freddie Jones, Alun Armstrong. Quite a list I think. It is quite funny seeing Liam Neeson in this all these years later after seeing him in the likes of Taken and Schindler’s List. So getting back to the star of the movie, Ken Marshall is just hammy enough to get away with this and I remember playing in the school playground and pretending to be Colwyn fighting the bad guys.

The special effects were decent enough for the time, but the best part about this film for me was the Glaive, a magical, five-pointed blade that will defeat the evil Beast. there was just something about this film that made it a really good one for kids’ imaginations to expand on the story that existed and make up stuff for themselves. There were a huge run of films of this type in the early 80s, but I think this one holds up extremely well, even to this day and I think that the fact that my 5-year-old enjoyed it is testament to that.

Fun Fact: James Horner’s score re-uses re-arranged elements from his 1982 score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).

“J” Is For JFK

J” is for JFK (1991)

john F Kennedy was a great President. I was not alive when he was in office, but from all that I have read and seen on television about the man leads me to believe that he was possibly one of the finest politicians the world ever saw.

He negotiated a way out of the Cuban missile crisis and showed the enthusiasm and ambition to put a man on the moon (or not if you believe the conspiracy theorists). However, despite his obvious and now well documented failings as a husband, the death of the man was probably the most public of all things in US politics.

Oliver Stone has made some really good movies. One of my favourites is JFK, a biopic about one of the conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of the President of the United States in Dallas, Texas in 1963. I would say that most people have seen the Zapruder film that shows the actual killing and indeed the kill shot and Stone delves into the theory that claimed the US authorities, namely the CIA were involved with the death of JFK and had a man, or two on “The Grassy Knoll”. The film also claims that Lee Harvey Oswald was only a “patsy” and was set up to take the fall for the whole thing and no-one would be any the wiser.

MV5BMTY4ODI3Njg5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODgyMDUxMDE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_Filmed in black and white, the film hosts an array of acting talent including Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Walter Matthau, Gary Oldman… the list goes on. I quite like a good conspiracy theory myself, and although most of the film’s ideas have either been disproved or were apocryphal in the first place, the movie itself is very entertaining and this is certainly a film I haven’t seen for a long time. It is a very long film and won two Oscars.

There are a few ideas discussed in the movie and I guess the evidence is arranged to fit. It is up to you as the viewer if you choose to believe what Stone offers to us or not. Personally, I found his case compelling, yet highly improbable and the truth remains that the assassination of John F Kennedy is one of those things that we will never ever get to the bottom of. The images however, are historical fact and they cannot be denied or waved away as conspiracy. What happened on that fateful day was shocking yet riveting to watch at the same time. If you are a fan of the history of the events, then you should definitely give JFK a watch.

Fun Fact: (if there is such a thing surrounding these events) Dean (John Candy) Andrews’ sweaty face during his talk with Garrison is real. Candy was petrified at the idea of appearing in a dramatic film with professional actors like Gary Oldman and Donald Sutherland. He sweated profusely throughout all his scenes.

“H” Is For Hot Fuzz

H” is for Hot Fuzz (2007)

how’s about this for a storyline then – an ace Met cop with an amazing result record earns himself a move to a sleepy village where some alarming things have been happening in a place where there is no serious crime at all.

Nicholas Angel is convinced that there is a conspiracy in the village of Sandford. There is action, drama, comedy and death all in an hour and a half, what more could you want?

Hot Fuzz is the second in the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost trio of films, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, which is often referred to as the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. Personally, I think that Hot Fuzz is the funniest of the three movies. It just appealed to me much more than the other two. I have never been much of a zombies fan, and have always thought that Shaun Of The Dead isn’t as good as everyone else makes it out to be.

MV5BMTIxODg2NDU1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc3MDM0MQ@@._V1_SX214_I found that I could identify with the film a lot more and I think I’ve seen it quite a few times now. I love how this film is shot; its exciting action on top of fast jokes and that makes the whole things really cheesy, but in a very funny way, and there is no better way of doing this that a massive gun fight in a supermarket of all places. I think its a particularly British film this one in terms of humour and I don’t think that Americans would get it.

There is also an array of big name actors in here. Timothy Dalton, Olivia Colman, Edward Woodward, Martin Freeman, Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy. Also, despite all these big names, the screen time is shared pretty equally. It seems that they did this film for the fun of it rather than the big paycheck which is nice to see. The film was out in 2007, although is doesnt seem that long ago which I think is testament to how much I enjoy it and how fresh it is and worth dropping everything to watch it whenever it is on the small screen.

Fun Fact: When in costume Nick Frost and Simon Pegg often were assumed to be police officers. Many strangers asked them for directions and instead of telling the truth they went along with it. They claimed it made them feel powerful.

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