Sunday, October 28, 2018

Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember (2016)

Director: Khavn
Notable Cast: Khavn, Dido De La Paz, Marti San Juan, Robin Palmes, Bing Austria

This is not a review of Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember.

I am slowly diving into the mad mind of Khavn, the Filipino equivalent of... well, no one comes to mind and if they did, they would be comparable to he, as frankly I've never experienced anything quite in the vein of this particular work. The few peaks I've had into his other works, I can say... he is truly one of a kind. I have only two of his films behind me, Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore, and this one. While I think the former is a more "enjoyable" work, this is easily a more accomplished and uncompromising piece.

Rampant (2018)

Director: Kim Sung-hoon
Notable Cast: Hyun Bin, Jang Dong-gun, Lee Sun-bin, Kim Eui-sung, Jeong Man-sik, Seo Ji-hye, Jo Woo-jin, Jo Dal-hwan, Kim Tae-woo

There was a strangely empty place left after the massive international success of Train to Busan. This may have to do with how different the film industry in South Korea is from Hollywood, but if a film like that had dropped here in the US there would have been a saturation of the market in similar zombie films – which has been the case since the release of The Walking Dead, but I digress. Yet, in terms of zombie films from South Korea, the international releases have been relatively non-existent. That is, until Rampant. What makes Rampant such an intriguing film is that instead of doubling down on the familial core and traditional zombie tropes like Train to Busan, this film aims to be more a genre mash up of a lot of very popular South Korean genres. Rampant is not just a zombie film. It’s a political thriller and it also features plenty of sword clashing action set pieces that would be comfortable in a wuxia style period film. This is where Rampant becomes the ambitious film that it is. It’s a brilliant blend of genres, powered on charismatic performances, and layered with some great set pieces which makes Rampant one of the most unique cinematic experiences in 2018.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Blood, Sweat and Terrors (2018)

Anthologies are quite often a thing that we end up reviewing here at Blood Brothers, but more often than not the popular format is used for horror. In a way, Blood, Sweat and Terrors is a film that occasionally leans into that territory, particularly in certain stories that include demonic forces or zombies, but for the most part this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to review a full-on action anthology. Like most anthologies, the quality between segments can waiver anywhere from fun and silly to ‘why isn’t this a feature length film?’ and Blood, Sweat and Terrors is no different. As with most of our reviews for cinematic collections, this article will not focus on reviewing each segment on their own, but for this film as a whole. In that way, while there is entertainment to be found in the film in spades, it is a rather scattered affair and feels more like a hodge podge of short films than a cohesive whole which does undermine the overall experience. For action fans though, there is plenty of thrills and kills to be enjoyed that will appease even some of the more discerning fans. Not everything hits its target, but it’s hard not to enjoy some of the talents that are included here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Night Comes for Us (2018)

Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Notable Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Zack Lee, Sunny Pang, Hannah Al Rashid, Shareefa Daanish, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Salvita Decorte, Asha Kenyeri Bermudez, Epy Kusnandar, Morgan Oey, Abimana Aryasatya, Dimas Anggara, Revaldo

With Gareth Evans venturing off into other genres, there was a void that was left in the Indonesian action world that needed to be filled. Timo Tjahjanto seemingly stepped up to the plate with his last film, the horrendously overlooked blend of Takashi Miike and The Raid known as Headshot, and now he’s back with his latest typhoon of violence in the form of The Night Comes for Us. Like the previously mentioned film, this one is a symphony of bludgeoning laid upon the tropes of an 80's inspired action flick plot. Unlike its predecessor, The Night Comes for Us is not attempting to blend genres. It’s intent on delivering on its promises. The Night Comes for Us is a typhoon of beautifully choreographed and perpetual brutality, punctuated by the suffocating intensity of a film brimming with characters armed with enough weapons, martial arts skills, and killing prowess to power two dozen action films. For fans of the creative forces behind the film, whether it's the director Timo or the stars, the film satiates the bloodlust even when it inherently sticks to the tropes of its plot and narrative a bit too firmly. In short, the film is action brilliance.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Into the Dark: Flesh & Blood (2018)

Director: Patrick Lussier
Notable Cast: Diana Silvers, Dermot Mulroney Tembi Locke, Lavetta Cannon, Heidi Sulzman

After the resounding success (at least in terms of quality, in my opinion) of Into the Dark’s debut “episode,” The Body, I was eager to leap into their next film for Hulu, Flesh & Blood. As a reoccurring series on the streaming giant, these films have a lot to offer in terms of an outlet for fresh new voices in genre cinema or for chancier projects. The first film, The Body, proved this. It was a fun blend of genres and showcased a unique directorial voice. The second episode, not so much. That’s the thing about Flesh & Blood as a film. It’s pretty good, but it comes from director Patrick Lussier. Between his last two films, the blissfully entertaining duo of Drive Angry and the My Bloody Valentine remake, this one feels a bit tame. Often enough, it’s quite successful in its contained and tense story, but with a director like this at the helm, Flesh & Blood feels a bit too tame and formulaic for what it might have been.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dangan Runner (1996)

Director: SABU
Notable Cast: Tomorowo Taguchi, Diamond Yukai, Shinichi Tsutsumi

SABU, whose career I'm only familiar with in his recent stretch, Miss Zombie and Chasuke's Journey springing to mind, is a visionary director whose earlier catalog is dying to see light outside of Japan. Thanks to Third Window Films, his debut is getting a second wind and hopefully winning a long overdue audience that it most definitely deserves. Dangan Runner is a cult classic waiting to be seen.

We are thrown into the action from frame one, which the set up is fun enough itself to not spoil, but essentially one would-be robber named Yasuda, played by Tomorowo Taguchi of Tetsuo: The Iron Man fame is being chased by a local convenient store clerk who is a washed up, coked out rock star who has fallen from his heyday, and a wandering Yakuza member (Shinichi Tsutsumi) whom they happen to bump into. We then spend almost the entirety of the rest of the film watching these three endlessly chase after each other, inter-spliced with various flashbacks and fantasy sequences slowly piecing together the backstory of each of the three runners.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The House That Screamed (1970)

Director: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Notable Cast: Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbo, John Moulder-Brown, Mary Maude, Candida Losada, Pauline Challoner, Tomas Blanco, Victor Israel, Teresa Hurtado, Maria Jose Valero, Conchita Paredes, Ana Maria Pol, Mari Carmen Duque, Paloma Pages

The House That Screamed is one of those films that flies just under the radar. It doesn’t have a lot of backing from being part of any larger more mainstream movement, in particular the wave of Hammer Horror or the blooming giallo boom of the era, which does mean that it is often shoved to the side unfairly, but the film is still an impressive late 60s (even if it wasn’t released until 1970 or later in some places) horror film. It balances this unique sense of early slasher elements with dense gothic atmosphere and a slick and often nuanced sense of visual chemistry. More often than not, comparisons to the iconic Mario Bava through the lens of a Hammer film could be made, and that only comes as a compliment. The House That Screamed finds that sweet spot between exploitative elements and artistry with its narrative and it deserves far more fanfare than it has received.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Day of the Jackal (1973)

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Notable Cast: Edward Fox, Michel Lonsdale, Terence Alexander, Michel Auclair, Alan Badel, Tony Britton, Denis Carey, Adrien Cayla-Legrand, Cyril Cusack, Maurice Denham

There are always a variety of ways to approach the focus of a film. Some films focus on a narrative. Some focus on the characters. Some focus on the plot. Each approach has its pros and cons and the perfect film will have a give and take between the various focuses to maintain a balance. When it comes to The Day of the Jackal, the famous political thriller based on the popular novel of the same name, the film takes a relatively intriguing approach to finding that balance. The film has received generous praise over the decades since its release and this review will certainly give it plenty of praise for its impeccable execution, but The Day of the Jackal also takes some chancy approaches to its material that don’t always pay off in the ways expected. The film is a bona fide classic for a variety of reasons, deserving of the fantastic new Blu Ray release from Arrow Video (although I’m a bit perplexed that this film didn’t get a release through Arrow’s arthouse line Arrow Academy, but I digress) and for that it comes with a hearty recommendation.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Into the Dark: The Body (2018)

Director: Paul Davis
Notable Cast: Tom Bateman, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Aurora Perrineau, David Hull, Ray Santiago

With the recent boom of horror that has culminated over the last handful of years, reaching strange heights when the genre started winning Academy Awards last year, it was only a matter of time before the Masters of Horror format was revitalized. This latest series of films, under the moniker Into the Dark, has nothing to with the iconic Mick Garris series that premiered on Showtime, but the idea remains the same. Instead of Showtime, it's Hulu. Instead of Mick Garris, it's Blumhouse. Into the Dark will premiere a new horror film each mouth, partnering with the horror juggernaut Blumhouse, and each film will be coordinated with a holiday within the month that it is released. Honestly, that sounds like a pretty fuckin’ good deal to me.

The first film to be released within the Into the Dark series is The Body. Fittingly, the film features a hit man who is caught in a bad situation on Halloween night and he’s left dragging a body around in a desperate attempt to get it to its destination within four hours. Craziness ensues, a body count rises, and the hit man drops multiple dry humor monologues about his dark view point on life as a strange romantic interest blooms. The Body is an odd film, but, truthfully, it’s a fantastic film to release around Halloween and a great way to kick off the series.