Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: YOUNG AMERICANS in the SHADOW of DEATH!

Dragonwolf (2013): I quite enjoyed director Raimund Huber's earlier movie Kill 'em All as the kind low budget production not overstaying its welcome and realizing what it can do on its budget, and what not. Dragonwolf on the other hand, is an ill-advised attempt at creating some sort of comic book style martial arts epic. Consequently, the terrible acting becomes a problem, as does the horrible dialogue, the idiotic plot, and the fact that there's barely anything happening on screen that is either stupid or badly executed. Most of the time, it's even both.

Add to this the film's just as ill-advised length of two terrible, painful hours, and find me crying in a corner.

The Cater Street Hangman (1998): This adaptation of Anne Perry's first Inspector Pitt Mystery, on the other hand, knows quite well what it's doing. If I were in a complaining mood, I'd probably argue that director Sarah Helling does overemphasise the source's melodramatic elements a bit, and the script by T.R. Bowen slightly underemphasises some of the book's seedier elements, but the film gets Perry's anger at all kinds of social injustice as right as it does her moments of compassion even with some of the people complicit in these injustices, so I'd be complaining about something very minor here.

Keeley Hawes and Eoin McCarthy make a very fine Charlotte Ellison and Thomas Pitt, respectively, too, so there's little about the film that's not to like.

Direct Contact (2009): And here I thought I had developed a high tolerance for contemporary direct-to-DVD action films. Turns out, it's only a high tolerance for contemporary direct-to-DVD action films that are actually any good. The saddest thing about the Dolph Lundgren vehicle at hand is that it has some production values: there's a helicopter, a tank, and quite a few henchmen wobbling around in diverse locations; there's even a plot that could be vaguely interesting. Unfortunately, director Danny Lerner is rather terrible, managing to make everyone involved look just as terrible: Dolph is as stiff as he hasn't been in decades, Michael Paré looks bored, and the rest of the cast give the impression of people waiting on instructions that just don't come. Worse, for this sort of movie, while Lerner doesn't go for the lame show-off editing and staging style of action I hate with a passion, he demonstrates that you produce just as crappy action scenes while holding the camera still. There's no heft to any of the action, the editing makes everyone look slow, and even worse, it's so sloppily shot there's barely an action scene not ruined by continuity problems that rob the action of all rhythm; the direction’s additional attempts at “style” are just laughable.

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