ORBzine - Foreign-Language History & Fantasy Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Blade Of The Immortal (2017)

Blade Of The Immortal (2017) This starts with a historical scene shot in monochrome, which explains the hero's backstory. He was the greatest swordsman, but now he has a lot of competition. The good news is that he can defeat a small army of opponents. The bad news is that he dies in the process. The good news is that an old wise woman infects him with magic blood-worms that can enable him to heal any wound. Well, he grows his sever hand back ... but not his missing eyeball. The bad news is that his mental health is beyond the healing power of the worms.

Fifty years later, the real story begins. A renegade group of sword-fighters who call themselves Itta-Ryu have begun wiping out all the local dojos in the Edo area. They plan to monopolise the area's martial arts industry, and thus force the Emperor to acknowledge them. A young girl, daughter of a Dojo master who fell to the renegades, hires the immortal samurai to be her instrument of vengeance. Yes, in the spirit of Kurosawa this has stolen from a Western tale - specifically True Grit .

In the spirit of the best Samurai films, the protagonist's storyline is to duel the villains one at a time. Well, in this case - with the specialist weapons and techniques of each opponent - it feels more like Fist of the North Star . It turns out that this is adapted from a Manga of the same name.

The climax is a massive battle scene, reminiscent of 13 Assassins . All in all, quite an impressive piece from director Beat Takeshi .

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

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    Fall of a Kingdom (2019) AKA The Rising Hawk

    Fall of a Kingdom (2019) The intro exposition sets the time and place. In the century after the destruction of the city of Kiev by the Mongols, the Ukrainians fled west into the Carpathian mountains.

    Two young men live in a Carpathian village with their father (Robert Patrick - Terminator 2 ) and mother ( Alison Doody ). Since the villagers have had problems with their landlord (Tommy Flanagan - Smoking Aces ), the two brothers are sent to negotiate with him while hunting a rogue bear.

    The high point of the bear-hunt is meeting the lord's daughter ( Poppy Drayton ). She is an expert archer, and pretty much kills the bear by herself - she is basically Merida from Brave . In fact, if the elder brother's wife was not a redhead then Drayton would probably be wearing a ginger wig.

    A Mongol patrol abducts some peasants, so the heroes try to rescue the hostages. They end up losing someone, while the Khan's son is also killed. This gives both sides a grudge, so the conflict will continue forever.

    The Khan leads his entire army against the villagers, which leads up to a big climax. Naturally, Princess Merida kicks a lot of ass. Well, this movie does not exactly follow the laws of physics. For example, rather than use some horses to pull over a massive megalith the peasants just use the village idiot instead.

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    Hero (2002)

    Hero (2002)

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    House Of Flying Daggers (2004)

    House Of Flying Daggers (2004)

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    The Iron Mask (2019)

    The Iron Mask (2019) The introductory info-dump explains that tea was a gift to the Chinese from a magical dragon. We then meet a heroic cartographer (Jason Flemying - Primeval ), whose maps will link the East and the West.

    Our hero (Jackie Chan - ) is imprisoned in the Tower of London. To escape, he must out-fight a bunch of red-coated guards led by the prison governor (Arnold Schwartzenegger - Terminator ).

    The action moves to the court of Peter the Great. The cast seem to be Russian performers, over-dubbed into English.

    The main storylines meet up in China, where the Princess discovers that her Kingdom has been usurped by a witch with a face-changing spell.

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    Last Warrior, The (2018) AKA The Scythian

    Last Warrior, The (2018) This starts with a massacre that establishes one of the characters, a Scythian warrior who has ninja skills. He and his band then raid a Russian village, and abduct the wife of the greatest warrior in the Kingdom. Now the warrior and the assassin must track down the Scythian band.

    The movie is in Russian with English subtitles, but the storyline is basically a Western. One of the characters literally uses the old cut them off at the pass cliche!

    The ill-matched protagonists follow their quest across a pre-Christian landscape, which makes it like something out of the Fantasy genre. They even meet a tribe of whitewashed primitives from Your Highness (2011) , who throw them in the fighting pit and make them battle to the death.

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    Pinocchio (2002)

    Pinocchio (2002)

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    Pinocchio (2020)

    Pinocchio (2020) This is a period piece, set in the 1500s and filmed in Italian. The use of subtitles instead of English dubbing means it retains a certain sense of authenticity.

    Gepetto (Roberto Benigni - Life Is Beautiful) makes a puppet and names him Pinocchio. The puppet gets abducted and enslaved, then ends up on a series of adventures. The result is reminiscent of Adventures of Baron Muchausen by Monty Python alum, Terry Gilliam .

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    Shanghai Noon (2000)

    Shanghai Noon (2000) Chon Wang (Jackie Chan - ) is a Royal Guard to the Chinese Emperor in Peking. When Princess Pei Pei ( Lucy Liu ) is kidnapped and held for ransom in Nevada he takes it upon himself to travel to the USA to save her.

    Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson - The Haunting (1999) ), nice-guy outlaw, discovers that the new man in his gang (Walton Goggins - Django Unchained (2012) ) is a trigger-happy Texan. They try to rob the train carrying the Chinese ransom, and Roy ends up joining forces with Chon Wang. Together they must save the Princess while avoiding Marshal Nathan Van Cleef (Xander Berkley - Barb Wire (1996) ).

    The comedy mixes parodying classic western movies with the kung-fu comedy that Jackie Chan is famous for.

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    Shanghai Knights (2003)

    Shanghai Knights (2003) Winter 1887, and the Forbidden City in China is attacked by Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen - Game of Thrones ) in a scene reminiscent of The Golden Child . The villain steals the Imperial seal, and kills its keeper.

    The keeper's son, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan - The Haunting (1999) ), is happy as a lawman in Carson City, Nevada. He awaits the return of his Princess, who is now working in San Francisco. Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson - ) lives in New York City where he has become the star of a series of paperback novels. All in all, not a bad way to write off the happy ending from the first movie.

    Our heroes go to London, where Chon Wang's sister has tracked the murderer. Roy forgets about his former relationship with his own wife, or Chon's ex-wife, and sets his eyes on the sister. When Chon and his sister first meet up together, they talk in Chinese until Roy reminds them he does not speak the language. Later, when they are alone together, the two Chinese talk in English - presumably so that Roy will understand when they talk about him behind his back.

    As in the previous film, there is yet another Chinese villain who was banned from the Forbidden City for treason. This time it is Wu Chow (Donnie Yen - Highlander: Endgame ), the Emperor's bastard brother. He wants the seal so he can become Emperor of China. In return, he will wipe out Queen Victoria and the British royalty so that Lord Rathbone will become the Emperor of Britain.

    The climax is one of those steampunk extravaganzas where the fate of the world is at stake. Lots of explosions and daring deeds, everything the audience expects.

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    Soon

    Soon

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