My Favorite Martial Arts Flicks

5. Rumble in the Bronx

Oh my God, I forgot he fought all those guys with the skis. He also destroys these guys in a grocery store. Later they chase him up a parking garage with mini bikes (for some reason an inordinate amount of these movies use weaponized motor bikes). It’s Jackie Chan so obviously has a few absurd stunts; I’m pretty sure a hovercraft is involved at some point. One of the scenes from this movie that still stands out is the villains feeding a guy into a wood chipper, then they deliver the “body” in a garbage bag and all of Jackie’s cronies throw up. I don’t know why but I still remember that years later.

Also, it’s a hilarious that this movie was obviously shot in Hong Kong with some shots of New York City just kind of worked in throughout.

4. Kiss of the Dragon

This is the movie where Jet Li kicks the pool ball of the pocket, jumps up and slams said ball with his right leg into a poor henchman’s face. That’s all that needs to be said.

3. The Protector

This movie is so absurd. In the middle Eddie Gordo shows up and fights Brazilian dance style in a foot of water, his breaking throwing up beautiful waves. Later Tony Jaa, fights three hugest guys you’ve ever seen and at one point one of them throws a baby elephant (seriously it happens). Slightly before that he breaks various bones of about 100 guys.

2. The Raid: Redemption

The hallway fight, epic.

1. District B-13

Maybe this movie shouldn’t count but I don’t care. A love note to Parkour, it is filled with amazing chase scenes. One of the main characters looks just like former San Francisco 49rs quarterback Jeff Garcia. It’s a solid movie on top of all the athletic wizardry by it’s stars (by martial arts movie standards). It is weird that it’s French.

The Raid 2

So I just saw this movie and I have some thoughts

1. Lots of amazing fight scenes. Iko Uwais fights 20 guys in a tiny jail bathroom. Then there’s the insane jail yard brawl that plays out with people flying all over the place in the mud like a scene from Super Jail. Yayan Ruhian fights five dude’s one handed and then kills a guy with a machete. Then he fights about 50 guys in an empty night club before being murdered in the snow. With basically no introduction, we have a gang of weaponed assassins — a dude with a bat, a skinny deaf chick with one eye and two hammers and a guy who uses hooked knives — go on a killing spree. About 25 guys with spears and knives attack Iko in a car, he some how escapes and then takes them on in a restaurant, the climax of which is him burning the face off some guy using a hibachi stove. And there’s like there’s like three more that are just as awesome.

2. Chase scene!!!! It was the one thing the first movie really didn’t have. This has a really good one.

3. Great video game style villains. 

This character is literally named Baseball Bat Man.

Her name in the movie is Alicia, but come on. Why not just name her Hammer Girl?

4.

This is Yayan Ruhian. He was my favorite part of the Raid: Redemption; he played the muscle version of the head drug lord’s right-hand man. I was waiting for him to show up in this one and they introduce this storyline where he’s got a wife and kid and they hate that he’s a hitman. I was like, “alright, he’s going to be a good guy in this one.” He and Iko would be unstoppable together. And then they kill him off. What? Why? Bad decision.

I really hope Yayan ends up an American action movie kicking the crap out of Jason Statham some day. He has the perfect look for a villain.

5. The Raid 2 is really well shot. This was immediately surprising because this is not a hallmark of martial arts movies. Very nice over head shots, does other angles really well, multiple single shot action scenes (especially a good part of that jail yard brawl), and some nice close ups. Gareth Evans can direct a little.

6. Indonesian is a fascinating language. It can sound like Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi and Siamese. And in this movie they have a few characters speak Japanese (second only to German in how angry it sounds) and a sprinkling of English which jars you out of the subtitle malaise.

7. Just like most of it’s martial arts movie brethren, the plot of this movie makes very little sense. Iko has to infiltrate this crime family as an undercover cop but then there’s this double cross in the crime family and this patricide storyline. But is he really still a cop? Because he kills a lot of people — like a morgue-filling amount.

You have Bejo, Reza, Rama, Iwo and Bangum all running around and it’s very difficult to remember who’s who. It just drives home the fact that none of that stuff matters when people are getting elbowed in the face. While Gareth Evans can direct, he should maybe stop writing his own movies.

8. I think I still like Raid: Redemption better. It’s story is so beautifully simple. These cops storm into a building that is drug-processing facility (just like in New Jack City and Dredd) and then they have to fight their way out. That’s it. Well, there is that Iko’s brother is one of the top criminals but that’s the only complication.

9. Man, The Raid 2 is so brutal. Blood is it’s primary currency. I think I would have liked it better if it would have dialed that back a little bit.

Tale of the Tape: Renee Zellweger

Love: Jerry Maguire.

Like: Me Myself and Irene, Cold Mountain, Cinderella Man.

Meh: Appaloosa, Leatherheads

Haven’t seen: Both Bridget Jones, Chicago (I would see all three but only at the behest of a significant other).

Final Verdict: Renee hasn’t done a movie since 2010, something called My Own Love Song, which I don’t remember ever seeing a preview for.

She showed up at the 2013 Oscars looking like the picture above.

This is a travesty, Jennifer Grey level.

I hated that people made fun of the way she looked. I always thought she was pretty. And she had a unique look. This is awful, terrible plastic surgery.

I hope she continues to act because she’s a good actress, but I bet this actually hurts her like Jennifer Grey.

whitehouse

whitehouse:

The President is answering your questions tomorrow, and it will be awesome. Tune in Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on whitehouse.tumblr.com.

You know, if you’re hip to all these things.

What if he became president just so he could like skip the teenage years? His timing is a little off with Sasha though.

"Sorry, Malia I can’t listen to your problems because I’m so busy being President." He might be a parenting pioneer.

Although, if they wanted to be mean to him, they could get a lot of material from Fox News.

Tale of the Tape: Benicio Del Toro

Love: Snatch, The Usual Suspects, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Like: Traffic, Che, Sin City, 21 Grams, The Hunted. 

Haven’t Seen: The Way of the Gun, The Pledge (both are supposed to be good), The Wolfman (heard it’s bad).

Final Verdict: I had a theory, for a long time, that Benicio Del Toro did not make bad movies. If he was in it, it’s a good movie and you can take that to the bank. When The Wolfman came out and got bad reviews, it kind of dashed that hypothesis.

However, it still holds basically true. I saw Che just because of him and it was pretty good. The way he’s done that is to not be in that many movies. He’s done about a movie a year since 1995. Some character actors have twice as many credits. For comparison, counting TV movies, Chris Cooper has been in 39 movies since 1995.

Still, for a character actor, his picker is pretty incredible.

Movie Quote of the Day

Verbal: Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

-The Usual Suspects

(The Usual Suspects has the most random cast: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollack, Pete Postlethwaite, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri. But it works)