Also known as: Masked Rider: The Next (alternative English title) Release Date: October 27th, 2007 Directed by: Ryuta Tasaki Written by: Toshiki Inoue Based on:Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3 by Shotaro Ishinomori Music by: Goro Yasukawa Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Kazuki Kato, Miku Ishida, Erika Mori, Tomorowo Taguchi, Goro Naya
Toei, 93 Minutes
As I stated in my review of the previous Kamen Rider film, I remembered liking this one a bit better. Well, seeing it for the first time in a long while, that’s still true.
Really, this is kind of more of the same but it picks up the story where Kamen Rider: The First left off.
That film was a reboot (or retelling) of the original Kamen Rider TV series. This film was a sequel to that but also a reboot of the second TV series, Kamen Rider V3.
Like V3, this introduces the third Kamen Rider hero and also has him work alongside the previous two. However, there are some very stark creative differences between the original story and this version of it.
The main thing that these films do is that they increase the violence exponentially to appeal to a more adult audience. This one goes even further than its predecessor, which seemed like it was more a test run to see what they could get away with in what’s predominantly been a kid friendly franchise.
I loved the villains in this, specifically Scissors Jaguar. Man, what a sadistic asshole that guy was but for fans of this type of stuff, he was fun as hell to watch.
The special effects and fight choreography in this are pretty much the same as the previous movie but I found myself enjoying the action more.
Also known as: Masked Rider: The First (alternative English title) Release Date: October 26th, 2005 (Tokyo Film Festival) Directed by: Takao Nagaishi Written by: Toshiki Inoue Based on:Kamen Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori Music by: Gorou Yasukawa Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Komine Rena, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Eiji Wentz, Ryoko Kobayashi, Sada Mayumi, Issa Hentona, Hideyo Amamoto, Itsuji Itao, Kanji Tsuda
Toei, 91 Minutes
I haven’t seen this since around the time that it first came out on DVD in the US, which probably wasn’t too long after its 2005 theatrical release in Japan.
This also had a sequel, which I remembered liking better, as it leaned even heavier into the violence and edginess that this strange retelling of the original two Kamen Riders origin introduced.
This plays much darker and more like horror than the standard Kamen Rider television series. It’s a reboot but it was made for an older audience that had grown up with the shows but found them to be too kiddie for typical adults.
For what this set out to do, I think it achieved its goals fairly well. This isn’t in any way superior to the source material but it definitely respects it and still homages it in a good way that captures the aesthetic and vibe. It looks and feels like a modern tokusatsu production but with a bigger budget and without having its hands tied by the creative limitations of a children’s show.
I thought that the acting was decent. None of it as particularly great but also, none of it felt overly hokey or cheesy like typical tokusatsu shows often times deliver.
I thought that the special effects were good. The costumes were top notch and looked impressive. My only gripe in that regard is that I felt like the Shocker foot soldiers would’ve looked a lot cooler if they kept their classic costumes and lucha libre style masks.
Ultimately, this was a really interesting experiment. I think it paid off for what it was and it didn’t do anything to diminish the legacy of the intellectual property unlike just about every Hollywood reboot and remake over the last decade or more.
Original Run: March 1st, 1996 – February 7th, 1997 Created by: Toei, Yoshio Urasawa Directed by: Yoshiaki Kobayashi Written by: various Music by: Naritaka Takayama (themes), Toshihiko Sahashi Cast: Yūji Kishi, Yoshihiro Masujima, Yoshihiro Fukuda, Yuka Motohashi, Atsuko Kurusu, Rika Nanase
Toei, TV Asahi, 48 Episodes, 20 Minutes (per episode)
Fans might see these characters and recognize them from Power Rangers Turbo but like all things Power Rangers, the majority of the action came from Japan’s Super Sentai franchise. In the case of Turbo, they borrowed heavily from this series, Gekisou Sentai Carranger.
Overall, this was one of the weaker Sentai series that I have seen but it still had really enjoyable parts and characters I ended up caring about.
In the American version, they had to create a new female villain character, as Zonnette from this show was way too scantily clad and there were scenes that featured too much sexual suggestion. I guess Japanese kids are more mature at dealing with sexy hot chicks in their television shows than the American kids are. Or, at least, the American puritan censors.
The premise for this show is one of the most bizarre, even for Sentai standards. The heroes here are “fighting for traffic safety” and they get their powers from some sort of automobile-themed cosmic force.
The big villain, who doesn’t appear until the last dozen or so episodes, has the grand scheme of building a network of super highways in space. I was never quite sure why that was even a bad thing, other than he wanted to destroy other planets and specifically their roads in order to achieve this strange goal.
Here’s the thing, though, Sentai doesn’t have to make any sort of logical sense and it rarely does. In a lot of ways, it’s all a self-parody of tokusatsu tropes and it’s very self-aware. While I’m not quite sure how Japanese kids interpret this stuff, it still makes for wacky, bizarre, entertaining television for those who are into really bonkers shit.
One thing that Gekisou Sentai Carranger did have working for it was the designs of the characters, specifically the villains and secondary heroes. Also, the Bowzock ship was one of the coolest I’ve seen in any sci-fi show or movie. It’s basically a mechanical orb made of what looks like moving, tangled razorwire.
Overall, there are much better Sentai series out there but this was still fun and enjoyable if this stuff is up your alley.
It’s been ages since I watched a Super Sentai series and because of that, I’m now way behind on the stuff that Shout! Factory has released in the United States. So I figured I really needed to jump on it and experience more of this great, classic tokusatsu program.
For those that might not know, this series was originally intended to be the one that they were going to use to create the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. However, producers of that show ended up using its successor, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger.
With that, this is the first Sentai show that I’ve watched that wasn’t turned into a Power Rangers series. This also makes it the oldest show that I’ve seen in the franchise.
Overall, this was damn enjoyable if kid friendly tokusatsu is your thing.
The thing I liked most was the characters. For the most part, this set of heroes were well-balanced, pretty well developed and they had great chemistry with each other. I especially liked how the bond evolved between Ryū a.k.a. Red Hawk and Gai a.k.a. Black Condor evolved over the course of the show. By the end, these two guys were complete badasses and honestly, either of them could’ve been team leader.
I also really liked Ako a.k.a. Blue Swallow. She was a cool character with some good stories and she might be my favorite female hero that I’ve seen out of all the Sentai shows I’ve watched, thus far.
Like the heroes, the villains were a really cool team that also had solid chemistry. I love that they were only really unified in trying to destroy the Jetman team and to dominate the world. I loved the power struggles between them, how they evolved over the series and ultimately, how they probably could’ve won had they not allowed their egos to make them work against one another.
Looking beyond the cool characters and story, I also dug the hell out of the look of the show. I thought the Jetman team’s costumes were superb and they are definitely one of the best looking Sentai teams of all-time.
This series also had some cool monsters. The real standout, I thought, was the ramen cup noodles monster. He just had a cool design and any monster that shoots out shrimp boomerangs is going to leave an impression.
Chōjin Sentai Jetman is pretty high up on the short list of the Super Sentai shows I’ve watched. However, this is only my fifth and there are a lot more to experience. I think that this one will maintain a spot close to the top, though.
Also known as: Steamboat (working title) Release Date: August 16th, 2021 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton Written by: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham Based on: Marvel Comics Music by: Joel P. West Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung, Tim Roth (voice, uncredited), Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson
Fox Studios Australia, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, 132 Minutes
“I was hired to play a terrorist. And then turns out they were actually terrorists, the producer got blown up by Iron Man, and I was arrested!” – Trevor Slattery
So this is now the third Marvel movie that I haven’t seen in the theater following Captain Marvel and Black Widow. And like with those other two, I’m glad I didn’t waste money on this because it’s a so far below where the MCU was at its peak that it’s almost sad to see where it’s all going now.
To start, I thought Simu Liu was fine as the title character and I like Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung and Ben Kingsley in pretty much everything but I’ve never seen someone suck the fucking air out of the room like awkward ass Awkwafina.
Christ, man… she’s the worst actress I’ve seen sine Rob Zombie’s wife. I also heard she’s a comedian but every joke this “Asian Jeff Gordon” threw at us, landed flatter than steamrolled pancake. She just wrecks nearly every scene she is in and she is in most of them. The fact that she sounds like an 82 year-old woman is also really distracting. But let me not just single her out because she’s not the only negative thing in this picture.
To start, I get that this story centers around China but the use of subtitles to open the film with all the fantastical backstory, wasn’t necessary. This is an American movie and Marvel shit is heavily geared towards kids. Five year-old Timmy ain’t reading that shit and no one in the theater wants to listen to his mom trying to audibly read it out loud to him and the dozen other kids. But Disney obviously did this to pander to China, who didn’t even want this movie because it was “offensive”, starred an “ugly” lead from their perspective, and was obvious pandering. It nearly wasn’t released but once it was, it didn’t do well there and Disney, as is becoming the norm lately, were left with egg on their face.
The film also suffers from trying way too hard to be cool. It starts with the shitty rap music used to introduce the main character, which just plays as a cheap attempt at old Disney execs trying to come off as hip. Then there is the friends hanging out in San Francisco sequence, which comes off as cringe CW teen drama bullshit. Then it just continues to try and double down on modern urban music over a traditional score… well, at least for the first half because the second half is almost a different movie altogether.
Getting back to pandering, the film tries to do it with the woke crowd but also fails in that regard. One thing that really sticks out is when Shang-Chi’s sister talks about how her dad wouldn’t let her train with the men, so she watched them and taught herself better. Then, in the next scene, she grabs her dad’s shoulder and gets taken down in one fucking move. It was embarrassing (see for yourself).
So then we meet Ben Kingsley, the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3, and the second half of the movie starts, which goes from urban kung fu flick to fantastical, mythological kung fu flick. I like the second half better and thought that the film started to pull something worthwhile together before it decided to shit all over itself, again.
To get to fantasy China, though, they had to take an ancient passageway through a magical forest. However, they had to use a BMW, in what felt like a blatant advert, to move fast enough to “stay in the pocket” of trees opening a rapidly moving, little clearing. If they didn’t stay in the pocket, the trees would’ve apparently ate them. What’s really baffling about this and, as we’ve seen with The Rise of Skywalker, Disney doesn’t expect its audience to think about the details. But we’re not all as fucktarded as the “creatives” at Disney. If we were, we might not think that this is really stupid because BMWs didn’t exist in ancient China and horses wouldn’t have moved fast enough to “stay in the pocket”. But whatever, just watch the movie like a brainless consumer.
Once we get to fantasy China, we get lots of fancy CGI creatures that look cool but also make the film kind of overly fantastical and cartoony, after we just spent an hour watching a generic Iron Fist episode set in a realistic, urban atmosphere. It’s kind of jarring to the senses but it’s also where this story begins to find its own unique space within the larger MCU.
We meet Shang-Chi’s aunt, Awkwafina makes more bad jokes, Ben Kingsley is just there, and they all start training for the big showdown with Shang’s evil dad, who should’ve just been the real Mandarin operating in the shadows but he’s instead just a generic Asian crime lord with fancy bracelets called the “Ten Rings” but unlike the comic, aren’t actually rings, they’re bracelets.
Anyway, Shang-Chi’s official superhero costume looks like some club shirt he bought on Etsy for $65 that will fall apart after one rave. His sister’s outfit is about the same, and everything just sort of looks generic and like a Canadian television production.
The fight breaks out, it’s alright but eventually we get a big battle between two large ass dragons. So the movie has two dragons in it but neither of them are Fin Fang Foom?! Fuck you, Disney. Talk about a wasted opportunity.
So one dragon is basically Falcor from The NeverEnding Story with red streaks down its body and the other is just some generic, multi-armed abomination of a dragon that looks like it was designed by my nephew Max, who is repeating third grade this year.
The good guys win and Wong from Doctor Strange shows up to introduce them to Captain Marvel and Hulk, who is back to being Banner with no explanation, and they discover that the Ten Rings, now in Shang’s possession, are sending out some beacon. Whatever. I don’t care about the future of the MCU anymore.
All in all, I thought this was okay. It’s better than Black Widow and Captain Marvel but it’s definitely a bottom five MCU movie. It probably would’ve been better if Awkwafina was nowhere near this thing and if the writers actually read a comic book before “adapting” this character and this pocket of the Marvel universe.
Also known as: Snake Eyes (informal title) Release Date: July 21st, 2021 (Indonesia, Iceland, Italy) Directed by: Robert Schwentke Written by: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse Based on:Snake Eyes by Larry Hama; G.I. Joe by Hasbro Music by: Martin Todsharow Cast: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais, Peter Mensah
“[deciding to run away from the battle] Oh, fuck this!” – The Baroness
Lens flares are back, baby! And I guess they’re getting really fancy and artistic with them now. So much so, that they’ve become more important than the action and you find yourself looking for them, as opposed to focusing on the fights, that are already obscured by this effect, as well as choppy editing, sloppy choreography and what’s apparently the director not giving a fuck about anything.
Anyway, this was the third attempt at a live-action G.I. Joe movie and it’s also a huge step backwards from Retaliation, which had its problems but was also leaning hard into the right direction. With Retaliation, a follow up never came because Hasbro doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing with their own properties, anymore. Plus, Paramount has been creatively bankrupt with Hasbro’s properties since they originally acquired them in the mid-’00s.
At least the horrendous G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra kind of resembled G.I. Joe. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, on the other hand, is not a G.I. Joe movie and the title character is not Snake Eyes.
To start, Snake Eyes is a masked, silent ninja. Emphasis on “silent” and “masked”. He’s also a white, blonde American that got disfigured from an accident while trying to save his brothers-in-arms during an actual war.
In this film, he’s Asian, he never wears a mask and he rarely, if ever, doesn’t shut the fuck up. He also doesn’t go to war. Additionally, they didn’t really cast an action guy and Henry Golding, despite his best efforts and I don’t blame him, completely lacked the energy and charisma needed for the role. And this left me wondering how Ray Park, behind a mask and without any dialogue, was able to bring a character like Snake Eyes to life so greatly in the previous two G.I. Joe movies?
The story was the biggest problem with the film and it’s just a very generic ninja movie that just sprinkles in G.I. Joe references because Hasbro is dumb and Paramount is dumber. In my opinion, the best Snake Eyes (and G.I. Joe) movie is 1985’s American Ninja, which isn’t even related to the franchise at all.
Now the acting was pretty shit, for the most part. The Baroness was especially awful and it kind of pisses me off, as she is one of my favorite characters in the franchise. In fact, I like her more than any of the franchise’s characters that were featured in this film. Also, she never looked like the Baroness. Honestly, she looked like an assistant manager at Wet Seal circa 1998.
I don’t know, man. This movie sucked and it was pretty fucking disappointing when the studio had a movie more than half right, eight years ago, and they never followed it up. Plus, they had Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis for fuck’s sake and an impressive and perfect looking Cobra Commander.
Instead, we got some generic ass ninja television pilot for a CW show that no one wanted.
Release Date: August 17th, 1989 (UK, video) Directed by: Nico Mastorakis Written by: Jonathan D. Gift Music by: Jerry Grant Cast: Will Egan, Gerald Okamura, Kelly Randall
Omega Entertainment, 88 Minutes
“[his only line, after punching a ninja] That’s one dumb son of a bitch.” – The Mime
This is one of those movies that I used to catch on one of the premium cable channels, late at night, when I was like twelve. I thought it was funny enough to watch multiple times when I was that young but I also loved the Police Academy movies and all the other “Academy” films that came out trying to emulate it’s style and success.
While this isn’t as good as the first four or five Police Academy movies, it is at least better than the worst one.
That being said, this involves two rival ninja schools. One is run by an asshole American and has competent ninjas, the other is run by a virtuous Japanese master and his daughter with a new crew of ninjas that are all fish out of water, tripping over their own feet.
As these things go, the bumbling newbs are a joke but they have to band together and overcome the real challenge that awaits them. Eventually, there is a big ninja academy showdown and the losers have to rise to the occasion and become the winners. We’ve all seen a version of this story a hundred times… or, at least, I have.
Anyway, each of the main characters has some sort of gimmick or personality trait that makes them basic archetypes. There’s the cool guy, the cool girl, the slutty girl, the gun nut, the nerd, a fucking mime and a few others. Man, I loved the fucking ninja mime and the the war veteran, gun nut, who was actually a coward… until he wasn’t.
Overall, this is a bad movie and a dumb movie and the vast majority of modern filmgoers will probably hate it. I don’t… but I also really liked these sort of movies way back and it’s definitely not the worst of them.
Although, the fight choreography is beyond atrocious.
Also known as: John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (complete title) Release Date: July 2nd, 1986 Directed by: John Carpenter Written by: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W. D. Richter Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth Cast: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Donald Li, Carter Wong, Peter Kwong, James Pax, Suzee Pai, Chao-Li Chi, Jeff Imada, Al Leong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Lew
TAFT Entertainment Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, 99 Minutes
“Sooner or later I rub everybody the wrong way.” – Jack Burton
There are very few films I watched more than Big Trouble In Little China once it was out on VHS and I rented it to dub a copy. New release VHS tapes were like $99 back then and I was still way too young to get a real job.
Anyway, I fucking loved this movie when I was a kid and it was really my introduction to John Carpenter. His films before this one were all hard Rs and things like The Thing and Prince of Darkness would’ve given me nightmares for months. Yeah, I loved horror by this point but Carpenter’s hardest films were still way too hard for my 8 year-old brain.
I really loved this because of Kurt Russell. I can’t say that this was my introduction to him but this is probably the first film that made me know who he was.
Beyond Russell, I just loved the giant martial arts battle in the alley and found myself completely in love with this movie as soon as the three elemental dudes showed up along with the evil wizard Lo Pan. That whole sequence and its special effects blew my mind.
By this point, I’ve seen this movie dozens of times. However, it’s been at least five-to-ten years. I’ve felt the itch to revisit it for awhile now and I had to wedge it into my schedule.
I still love this movie. It’s action packed, has a great adventure, cool fantasy and horror shit, a very charismatic lead and it’s a hell of a lot more fun than anything Hollywood puts out today.
I actually enjoy Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton even more now. I think that’s because he’s heroic as hell but he really is this bumbling idiot that fucks up more than he actually does badass things. As a kid it was all just for a laugh but as an adult, I see that he wants to be that heroic guy but he gets in his own way. However, when it really comes to pulling off the big win, the dude succeeds and wins the day… and the girl. Well, until he gets in his own way again.
All the core characters in this movie are great from the heroes-to-the villains and even those with small one-scene roles are pretty memorable.
Back in the day, I loved all the monsters in this movie and seeing them all these years later, they’ve held up well. While Carpenter was working with a fairly decent budget on this movie, there were still limitations. In spite of that, the practical effects still look superb and the not-so-practical ones still pass the test.
Big Trouble In LittleChina is a movie that has a little bit of all the things I was into when it came out. While my tastes have evolved, these are still things I enjoy.
There are very few movies that are as fun as this one.
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