• Tag Archives kung fu
  • Canister X Movie Review #117: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

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    G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
    Written by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett
    Directed by Stephen Sommers
    Runtime 118 min.
    4 out of 5

    When military partners Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) get involved in the super covert ultra team G.I. Joe thanks to botching up supervising the delivery of nano-mite war-heads on behalf of the US Army, they join the team to try and track the war-heads down before they’re unleashed on the world. To make things even more difficult for Duke, his ex-girlfriend, Anastasia “Ana” DeCobray (Sienna Miller), also the “Baroness,” is part of the team responsible for stealing the nano-mite war-heads, and he is torn between trying to figure out what happened to her and also doing the right thing not just for his country, but for the whole world.

    Yet Duke and Ana aren’t the only ones with a past. Opposing ninja warriors Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) go back to when they were children and trained under the same sensei. It wasn’t until a tragic event in their youth drove the two apart, only to meet now, years later, and settle their conflict once and for all.

    With only the safety of the world resting in the hands of the best of the best of the best, team G.I. Joe has their work cut out for them as they try to save the world from the rising C.O.B.R.A.

    This movie is lightning. Seriously. Right from the first minute straight through to the last this sucker moves at breakneck speed with non-stop action, fireballs, lasers, bullets, super-powered armor, kung-fu, car chases, car crashes, aerial battles and a whole ton more.

    It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie where I felt like I was moving at the speed of light and G.I. Joe delivers that in spades. I went in expecting an action movie. I got it. I went in expecting a military movie. I didn’t get that but instead got something between the Avengers, Desert Storm and James Bond. It didn’t feel like an army movie and for that I was thankful because, though I like history and military fiction, I have a hard time watching army movies. Don’t know why. Just can’t get into them. Also, all that olive green is nauseating after a while. Thank goodness that stupid color is absent in G.I. Joe. They wear black, thank you very much.

    The overall plot was cool. The problem was the pace. It was just way too fast. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the flashback sequences throughout the movie and even the fact the movie starts off in 1641 instead of the present day. More specifically, I was impressed the flashback sequences didn’t happen to just one character, but to several, each segment adding to that character’s history and giving us something more than a man or woman with an agenda. We actually get to understand their motivations because we get to be there with them and see how they came to be what they came to be.

    There was something else I had a hard time buying, but I’ll leave it there because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet.

    In the end, this film delivered a lot and truly embodied the idea of “rise of the cobra.” There was origins galore, the ones not mentioned above being Destro and the Doctor. There will no doubt be a sequel because there’s obviously way more story to tell.

    Rating this film was tough because there’s no way to be critical of it without coming off unfair. I mean, really, the effects were 5 out of 5. No challenge there. The explosions alone were awesome never mind the Eiffel Tower falling, the nano-mite green mist effect, those blue electro pulses—craziness. The story? Well . . . how’s 3 sound? Yeah? Okay. Tell you what: I’ll meet you halfway and we’ll settle on 4. Cool? Cool.

    Oh and one more thing . . .

    Go Joe!

  • Canister X Movie Review #48: Iron Monkey (1993/2001)

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    Iron Monkey (1993/2001)
    Written by Tsui Hark
    Directed by Yuen Woo-ping
    Runtime 90 min.
    4 out of 5

    Like Robin Hood, the Iron Monkey robs from the rich and gives to the poor, but instead of wielding a bow and arrow and sword, he wears a mask and uses martial arts weapons instead.

    By day, Chinese doctor Yang Tianchun (Rongguang Yu) is a physician caring for the poor and rich alike, but at night he’s the Iron Monkey, a high-kicking do-gooder assisting those in need who are suffering beneath the rule of the corrupt governor.

    Meanwhile, Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen) and his son Wong Fei-hong (Sze-Man Tsang) come into town. Soon after, Wong Kei-Ying is captured on suspicion of being the Iron Monkey after being observed in battle. His son is arrested as well. In an effort to clear himself, he offers to capture the real Iron Monkey, his son being forced to remain in prison to ensure his compliance.

    Soon Wong Kei-Ying and the Iron Monkey meet and, after going toe-to-toe with no victor, form an alliance that will rescue Wong Fei-hong from prison and bring down the evil governor once and for all.


    This movie kicks some serious wa-hoo-hoo and I’m not just saying that because of the awesome kung fu sequences, but because of it’s fun presentation of a classic story—Robin Hood—through the lens of Chinese culture, martial arts and fast-paced action.

    Quentin Tarantino brought the flick over to the West and I’m glad he did. I’m 99% sure I went to the theatre to check out this gem and it soon got a place in my DVD collection once it hit store shelves.

    What can I say? The fight sequences are over-the-top—wire acts, crazy fast kicks—but those are what make kung fu movies great and give the fight performances that supernatural feel that can’t be obtained otherwise.

    The superhero fan part of me had never seen a kung fu superhero movie, and when I compare it to the Western version of martial arts techniques that we get in our own superhero flicks, sadly, we come up short every time. I mean, this crazy, fast-paced over-the-top form of fighting is one of the main reasons The Matrix became so popular.

    There is lots that goes on in this movie storywise, everything from the simple rob-from-the-rich-to-feed-the-poor angle to Wong Kei-Ying’s tense relationship with his son, to commentary on oppression and what’s fair and what isn’t, to comedic moments, tear-jerking moments, to adrenaline-fueled action—it’s a full experience, something that Quentin Tarantino said in an interview on the DVD that is common in Chinese cinema but not really over here in the West. I think we need to learn a thing or two about moviemaking from our Chinese friends instead of compartmentalizing everything into genres and niches.

    If you love folk heroes like Robin Hood, or are a superhero fan, Iron Monkey should definitely be on your watch list.