Lazy Weekend Musings – Actionfest Wrap-Up

Well it looks like I could talk about Actionfest for another solid week but this is supposed to be an instant Netflix blog. I apologize for giving the rest of the films short shrift but it is better than not mentioning them at all. Some of the other films I saw at Actionfest:

WATCH: Vengeance (2009) – NR – Not rated but contains a lot of bloody violence.

“Today, Costello (French music and film icon Johnny Hallyday) is a skilled chef. Twenty years ago, he was a cold-blooded killer working for the mob. But when a horrific tragedy befalls the family of his daughter (Sylvie Testud), Costello returns to his old ways. Journeying from France to Hong Kong, our culinary hero prepares to serve up revenge on a host of bad guys in this bloody tale from acclaimed action director Johnnie To.”

Johnnie To is an excellent action director. Vengeance is an excellent but flawed revenge film. There is an amnesia angle that is hinted at in the first act and mentioned in the second that goes into overdrive in act three. It provides both the best moments in the film and the most logical holes. Still this is a wonderful action and revenge movie. Put it in your Netflix queue.

WATCH: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) – NR – Not rated but also has plenty of bloody violence.

“On a train crossing the Manchurian desert, an unlikely trio — good bounty hunter Park Do-won (Woo-sung Jung), bad gangster Park Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee) and weird train robber Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song) — unite to find a treasure maps promised loot. Racing through the unforgiving landscape, they stay one step ahead of rivals and the Japanese army. Ji-woon Kim directs this Sergio Leone-inspired adventure.”

My understanding is that this is the largest-grossing Korean film surpassing The Host. It is a wonderful “western” epic with Mongolia filling in for the American West/Mexico. Instead of the focus being on The Good (as in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), The Good has the least amount of screentime. This movie runs on a bit too long (it could have used tighter editing) but it is quite a bit of fun. The ending is especially good. Put this in your Netflix queue too.

WATCH: Undisputed III: Redemption (2010) – Rated R for brutal, bloody violence and pervasive language.

“Isaac Florentine is back to direct the third film in the Undisputed series, this time following Uri Boyka (British martial artist Scott Adkins) inside the toughest prison in the world to watch him do battle in one of the most lethal competitions known to man. Staying alive is high on Boykas list, but he is also determined to clear his name against the wrongful charges that put him behind bars in the first place.”

Okay how could I not like this film? At Actionfest I got to meet the director Isaac Florentine, the fight choreographer Larnell Stovall, and the actor/martial artist Marko Zoror who plays the villain. Truthfully the story is almost groan-inducingly silly. Normally the holes in the script would sink this film but Isaac Florentine keeps the focus squarely on the action and moves quickly past the exposition. The fight scenes are simply incredible and I am hopeful that Marko Zoror can break through to theatrical movies and not be relegated to DTV martial arts.

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