Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Movie Catch Up : Splice, Cellular, Legend Of The Fist : Return Of Chen Zhen

A quick catch up on three recent viewings, that I wanted to briefly comment on.

Vincenzo Natali's Splice is an Science fiction/horror hybrid, covering the dangers of genetic engineering and playing with nature. Two scientists played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley create a new life form by mixing the dna of different creatures, under the guise of medical research, but this is not enough for them, the scientists are looking to push scientific boundaries and cannot resist going too far by adding human dna into the mix, creating something else entirely. Horror ensues!

Unfortunately the horror comes from the screenplay and acting rather than any genetic mutation, this is a terrible film. Splice starts off okay, although there are warning signs of what is to come, but around halfway it completely falls apart, and becomes a series of WTF moments, in fact the only film in recent memory with quite so many WTFs is The Happening, but at least that was funny with it.

Adrien Brody seems to be hellbent on flushing his post oscar career down the toilet, with his strange choice of roles and even stranger performances. I actually felt sorry for Sarah Polley who is a really talented actress, but has to do and say some of the most ridiculous things in the name of this movie.

The only highlight of Splice is the acting of Delphine Chaneac as the creature Dren, she deserved a better movie for the quality of her performance.

Cellular directed by David R Ellis and based on a story written by Larry Cohen, stars Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, Jason Statham and William H Macy, and is the film Benny Chan remade as Connected. I liked Connected, it was a solid action thriller with some pretty good performances and guess what, I liked Cellular for pretty much the same reasons.

The standout performance here is William H Macy as the cop, he brings a real lived in feel to the role, with humour and a touch of weathered weariness as well. Kim Basinger is very good, with just the right amount of fear and strength, I don't understand why she doesn't get more work in Hollywood. Chris Evans is fine, the problem with his role is in the writing, and is the major difference between the two films. Whereas in Connected Louis Koo really does feel like a loser who cannot get anything right and grows as the film progresses, with Chris Evan's character he doesn't seem to actually learn anything, everything is already there and just needed bringing out.

Overall I prefer Connected to Cellular, for Louis Koo's entertaining overacting and the Hong Kong action elements, but the American version is a solid little action film and worth your time, if only to see Macy's performance. As an aside I would have loved to seen how Cellular would have been had Larry Cohen made the movie, rather than just writing the story.

Legend of the fist The return of Chen Zhen is Andrew Lau's take on the Chen Zhen character previously portrayed in movies by Bruce Lee and Jet Li, this time its Donnie Yen taking on the role. Legend of the fist has received more than its fair share of derision from many HK cinema fans, and honestly I don't understand why, its Andrew Lau and Donnie Yen, surely fans would know what to expect from this combination, stylish action and Donnie looking great!

The storyline continues the recent trend of over the top Chinese nationalism, and has Donnie fighting with the Chinese resistance against the Japanese. Anthony Wong and Shu Qi are featured in supporting roles, Wong isn't given much to work with but brings his usual effortless panache to the role. Shu Qi looks great and is good in the first half of the movie but seems less comfortable as the story takes a darker turn.

Lets not get too far away from the point though, and thats Donnie. The camera loves him even more than  usual in this movie, and it becomes amusing as the film progresses. The action is fast and furious and should satisfy most appetites, some of the fight scenes seem a little over edited and that make the action occasionally hard to see, but this looks to be a stylistic choice.

Legend of the fist is not a great movie by any means but it is entertaining and really I didn't expect anymore.


A. said...

I saw Splice as well and I agree with you that it wasn't great, but seeing it with an audience who had no idea of what they were getting into was a blast. Some scenes just made people freak out! Just from that, it was one of the best theater going experiences of the year. I have no real urge to watch it again though.

Crazy enough, Splice was nominated for one of the best films of the year at the Genie awards in Canada. The rest are all pseudo-French productions made in Montreal. Canadian cinema needs help.

A hero never dies said...

I imagine it would have been more fun with audience reaction, especially during the sex scenes!

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