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Mr. S. H. J. Palmer

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Shanghai [DVD]
Shanghai [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £2.77

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Heart Is Never Neutral", 24 July 2012
This review is from: Shanghai [DVD] (DVD)
Shanghai is a wonderfully crafted thriller that kept me hooked to the very end.Although the twists were not really that surprising it still manages to hold your attention.One of the films many strengths is the international cast who all give stellar performances,from the major stars right through to the bit part roles.Even Chow Yun Fat gives a credible performance and if you compare it to his other feature set in this period (Hong Kong 1941) you will notice a marked improvement.
The film itself is set in the two months prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese Imperial fleet and some two years after the rape of Nanking.Although Shanghai is yet to be invaded by the Japanese it is nonetheless a hotbed of spies from Britain,France,Germany and Japan to mention a few.
One of these spies is called Soames (Cusack) and who is in Shanghai at the behest of U.S Naval Intelligence in the guise of a reporter with Nazi sympathies but whose real mission is to find the killer of his longest and best friend Conner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who was working as a spy in Shanghai.
Soames uses the connections and friends he has made with the Axis powers to get close to their top diplomats and dignitaries to aid him in his investigation.
What ensues is a tale of friendship,love,trust,betrayal,truth and lies,which is of course the staple diet of any spy.The main protagonist moves through Shanghai's nightclubs and side streets trying to cut through a web of lies to solve his friends murder.No-one is who or what they appear to be and with murder and violence an omnipresent threat the streets of Shanghai have never been so ambiguously dangerous.Maybe it's just me but the whole feel to the film is very noirish which obviously suits the period.The cinematography is just breathtaking,bringing 40's Shanghai to the screen must have been a huge undertaking which I thought was impressively done.
In an age of films with explosions and huge set pieces at every turn it is a delight to see the money spent in other facets of the film like the sets or scenery.A film which asks you to see through the convoluted relationships and lies to see the truth.
A very worthwhile effort I highly recommend and one I will watch again,although just out of curiosity my next viewing will be with the colour turned down to see if a B&W picture adds or diminishes this films atmosphere.
On the disc is a scene selection menu and a few trailers of other feature releases,there are also subtitles for the hearing impaired.Filmed mainly in English with a sprinkling of German,Japanese,Chinese and Mandarin all of which is neatly and concisely translated with subtitles.Around 70% of the film is in English so haters of subtitled films shouldn't find it a stretch to watch.

The Spy In Black [DVD]
The Spy In Black [DVD]
Dvd ~ Conrad Veidt
Price: £9.99

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Boiled Fish and Carrots", 23 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Spy In Black [DVD] (DVD)
In the past Spirit Entertainment have taken quite a bashing here on Amazon,and rightly so.This bashing has largely been due to releasing films in the wrong aspect ratio.I am not 100% sure about the aspect ratio being correct on this release as IMDB list it as 1.37 and this release is in 1.33 which if you believe Wikipedia are one and the same.The 1.33 ratio was used for silent movies and is often put on dvd covers even though the film itself was actually shot in 1.37(The Academy ratio).
There are no extras on the disc just a scene selection menu.
One other thing before I get to the film itself is if you look closely at the product image supplied by Amazon you can see under the Actors names is a red banner which reads "digitally remastered version",this does not appear on the version you will receive.Once the film starts though there is a credit stating that this print has had a British Film Industry restoration.
Confused,I was and the film had not even started yet.
I have seen this film many times before,firstly on TCM,then I searched high and low for a dvd version and settled on the Australian region 4 release.I have now replaced my old version with this new UK release and enjoyed watching it again before writing this review.
This WW1 story of espionage is the first collaboration of the now legendary Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger and stars the wonderful Conrad Veidt as the German U-Boat Captain Hardt who is sent on a covert mission to the Orkney islands.Here he is to meet Frau Teil (Valerie Hobson) who is posing as a local schoolteacher.With the help of Teil,Hardt enlists the assistance of treacherous British Naval officer Lt.Ashington(Sebastian Shaw).Their mission is to sink as many British ships as they possibly can.
This is how a film should be,great characters,wonderful story and expertly written and directed by Powell and Pressburger.There are some brilliant cameos in this film,Bernard Miles is great as the one armed lazy eyed German hotelier.Equally brilliant is the role of the German submariner looking for Hardt in the hotel,as is the role of the engineer of the passenger steamboat who's always worried about his "bottom end".The camera work is first rate with wonderful shots like the old lady stepping from the car showing only the furs on her coat as she exits the vehicle.There are some references to actual events too which adds authenticity to the story.The Old Man of Hoy gets a mention as does the Battle of Jutland which is filmed in a light hearted manner.
If you are a war film fan or a fan of espionage films or even a fan of films from this era you won't be disappointed.
Incidentally Conrad Veidt was born in Germany and was a staunch anti Nazi.He fled Nazi Germany in 1933 after becoming aware of a plot to assinate him and became a British Citizen in 1939.When Britain went to war he donated half his estate and a large portion of his salary from future roles to the British war effort.Sadly Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack at the early age of 50.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2014 1:31 PM BST

Army of Saviours [DVD]
Army of Saviours [DVD]
Dvd ~ Veronica Ferres
Price: £4.99

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Who Saves One Life Saves The World Entire, 14 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Army of Saviours [DVD] (DVD)
During the horrors of the holocaust,non-Jews saved many thousands of Jews from death and depravity at the hands of the Nazis and its allies.We know the stories of many of these brave ordinary people;Schindler,Wallenberg and Ten Boom are but a few and there were many more "Good Germans" who knew the risks of harbouring Jews yet still faced evil at every turn.
Every so often a small film comes along that just keeps me mesmerised and this is one of the best of them.Wonderfully acted,softly directed and with a story littered with interesting characters all of which is true.Luckily for us the consumer the artwork isn't misleading us into believing this is a war film full of gung-ho action but a delicate story of human decency when the world around had gone mad.

Based on the personal memoirs of Marga Speigel this film is an accurate narrative on the years she and her daughter spent living on the Aschoff family farm under the surname Krone whilst her Jewish husband (Menne) hid on another farm close by.
During WW1 Menne and his farmer friend Aschoff served in the trenches together and were awarded the Iron Cross,now that same country that honoured his bravery wanted him dead along with every other Jew in Europe.Although his long time (non-Jewish) friends are willing to shelter them there is still danger at every turn where any slight mishap could see the end of them all.
Amongst the Aschoff family loyalties are somewhat confused,the same night they see their son of to the Russian front they harbour Jews.Their daughter is a member of the BDM and whose boyfriend is an over zealous Nazi Youth leader.Plus being a large farm there are many other "guests" who could turn them in at a minutes notice so vigilence becomes an exhausting practice.
Now I don't perceive myself as shallow but a lot of war dramas I have seen in the past have bored me to tears and although not a lot happens plot wise in this film I was gripped from start to finish and would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the holocaust or indeed if you have a heart at all.Simply put its a stunning piece of film making where nothing is rammed down your throat its just told as it happened.
Just as the credits roll there is an interesting vignette of the real life Marga Speigel and Frau Aschoff sharing a moment on set together which just warms your soul.
Filmed in German with well translated English subtitles.

That Summer of White Roses [DVD]
That Summer of White Roses [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Conti
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £9.49

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That Summer Of Lost Innocence, 13 Jun. 2012
That summer of white roses is set in Yugoslavia in the summer of 1944 and centres around a laconic riverside community,a community untouched by the war around them.On this riverbank Tom Conti's dare I say simpleton character (Andrija) lives and works as a lifeguard with nothing much to do but laze around and bask in the glorious sun.It's not that he is unwilling to work it's quite simply that no-one ever needs rescuing.Often ridiculed by his peers this simple yet unassuming and quite frankly amiable chap has no family and his only friend seems to be a local fisherman Martin (Rod Steiger).Together they fish and tell stories of the "water devil" to anyone who will listen,which further ridicules Andrija.
Unbeknownst to Andrija his world is about to change forever when a Jewish mother and her young son turn to him for protection from the Germans.He duly obliges and a marriage of convenience seems an obvious solution.Although Susan George as the Jewish mother performs well enough its the scenes between the boy and Andrija which steal the show.The two play with toy boats on the river and the boy is young enough to listen to Andrija's stories.Andrija revels in this and although somewhat older its as if they were the same age.
Life carries on in this idyllic place until one day Andrija saves the life of a drowning man,but who has hes saved?and what implications will this have on his future you will have to watch for yourself (no spoilers here).
This is a drama and not an all out action war film which tells a soft subtle tale of a man whose innocence is lost and one who is forced to quickly grow up due to circumstances forced upon him and we can all relate to that.It is very slow going for the first hour and some viewers may be tempted to switch off but I urge you to stick with it because the final thirty minutes is where the film comes together.It's worth watching just for Andrija's epiphany at the end of the film on the riverbank (even simpletons can have an epiphany).The location shooting looks just stunning if a little blurry at times due to the print.This was obviously a low budget made for T.V film and with no restoration does show it's age.
Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but a worthwhile effort all the same and I am glad I stuck with it till the end.
There are no extras on the disc at all and its filmed in English which i thought was odd being a joint British,Yugoslavian production.I always enjoy a film more when its in its original language.

Amongst Heroes [DVD]
Amongst Heroes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Oleg Pogodin
Price: £3.49

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Amongst Theives, 10 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Amongst Heroes [DVD] (DVD)
Fist a warning to any future customers of this product as it is "PARADOX SOLDIERS" only re-branded.Different artwork,different title but the same film.On the face of it at only a Lady Godiva (pre-order price) it looked a steal and i was quite looking forward to it,how mistaken i was.I knew something was amiss and thought i had read reviews (here on Amazon) of a film with the same premise and upon further investigation it was the same film.Luckily i don't own Paradox Soldiers and was one day going to buy it anyway.But in all seriousness this practice is wrong and should cease forthwith.Other films to have this done is The Fallen vs The Final sacrifice and Nappola vs Before the Fall,both re-branded with artwork that never appears in the actual film.One other thing before i get to the film is that never once does the blurb on the cover mention time travel.I will have to check the studios of the films mentioned to see if its just one studio or if everyone but the consumer is in on it.
The disc itself has nothing in the way of extras just a scene selection menu.
The film is about a group of students re-enacting a decisive battle on the Eastern front.During this battle four hapless students happen to stumble upon an unexploded munition from WW2 (how this device has never been found and de-activated is beyond me) and upon triggering the device they are transported back to 1944 through a portal and smack in the middle of the battle they are re-enacting.
What ensues is the bungling four main protagonists jumping from one sticky mess to another and to be fair its not that bad an idea.Unfortunately its poorly executed with more holes than a tea bag.They go back in time 70 years yet two Russians instantly recognises one of them as a friend.Confused,you will be.I was as confused as a blind man trying to solve a Rubik's Cube!You can follow the film but you spend more time looking at the screen in bewilderment rather than being entertained.
Again i did some research and found that this film is in fact a sequel.The fist film was never released in this country in the first place.I am assuming all my questions would have been answered had i watched the first film.How was i to know this when it seems the distributors have done everything they can to mislead us the hard cash paying consumer.
The battle scenes are passable but only just in this day and age.The score was hilarious but at the least the actors did a fair job.The tank used in the film,pretty much like the soldier on the cover looked like a hybrid and the uniforms were all over the place which i suppose they can get away with to a point being as the four were not in official military garb.
How this film gets good reviews under its different title is an enigma in itself.Not a film i would recommend or watch again for that matter.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2013 7:55 PM BST

World War II - When Lions Roared [DVD] [1994]
World War II - When Lions Roared [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Price: £6.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Men and a Studio, 7 April 2012
This review is for World War II When Lions Roared and not the severely truncated Then There Were Giants edition of this film.On the face of it they are the same film but on closer inspection there is nearly seventy minutes missing from Then There Were Giants which is something to consider before making your purchase.
This two part made for TV film has no action whatsoever so if that is what you are looking for then you are going to be disappointed.This film runs like a play (the screenplay was adapted from a twelve hour play) with nearly all the converse played out in a studio with very little interaction with either set or props.As soon as you understand that this film is all about the dialogue between the ostentatious big three the sooner you realise the importance of this film.An awful lot of the screenplay is derived from secret telexes sent to each other during World War II and does highlight superbly the relationships between the three and also their true agendas.
Most of the pivotal moments are included in the film from Roosevelt's day of infamy speech to congress to all the major conferences including the conferences in Tehran and Yalta.Stalingrad too gets a mention yet on the downside there is no mention of the Battle Of Britain and no sight of Eleanor Roosevelt who was widely known to have heavily influence her husband.
John Lithgow was superb as Roosevelt and I found myself totally immersed by his portrayal as indeed I was by the great Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine who all tackled their roles with a growing enthusiasm.Binding the film together is the stock footage of the war shown at key points throughout the film.Overall this is an excellent production showing some of the wars definitive moments and decisions as made by the three lions themselves.
Filmed in English with no extras on the disc at all.

Blood of Eagles [DVD]
Blood of Eagles [DVD]
Dvd ~ Doni Alamsyah
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merah Putih Part Two (Blood Of Eagles)., 2 April 2012
This review is from: Blood of Eagles [DVD] (DVD)
Blood Of Eagles is the second part of the Red and White trilogy and carries on almost immediately from where the first part finished off.Although it can be watched on its own merit I would suggest watching part one first as it gives you much more background history of all the main protagonists.
After the success of the raid they carried out in the first film the main characters set off to find what's left of their newly founded and battered army.But first they set out to free their women from a small internment camp and to succeed they use an unusual infiltration method.
When they do rendezvous with this army(more like a band of rebels)they are instantly recruited and promoted to officers,cool I hear you say.No its not cool because the first mission they are assigned with is to conduct an almost impossible raid on a Dutch airfield and are told they should complete this mission "Whatever the cost,Whatever the risk".If you add in to the mix that there could be a traitor amongst them then you have all the ingredients for a thrilling ride and despite its few misgivings I firmly believe it succeeds(as a piece of entertainment).

I did enjoy this film but in my opinion its not quite as good as the first and lacked a little finesse.As the ever reliable Tommy D writes in his review there was just too much "A-Team" antics going on(Amir firing away out in the open whilst being fired at from an enemy in cover and not taking a single hit!)Then there's the obvious fake aeroplanes and the fact that there were just one too many character coincidences,characters would drift out of the action only to re-appear later in the nick of time to save the day(this is more evident if you have seen the first instalment).On top of all this three of them take cover in a WOODEN structure and again no hits are scored even though the hut has more holes in it than a tea bag.Despite all these failings I did still enjoy the film with the highlights being the actors who all did a great job and especially the effects team.What a delight to actually see real explosions without any cgi.I particularly liked the bayonet exiting the mouth scene(gruesome),I'm sure I have never seen this before.A nod has to go to the production team too with every frame looking just glorious.
Filmed in Indonesian with good clean,concise English subtitles and no extras on the disc bar a trailer.
Bring on part three,Hearts Of Freedom.

Red and White [DVD]
Red and White [DVD]
Dvd ~ Doni Alamsyah
Offered by FLASH
Price: £3.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Merah Putih Part One......., 31 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Red and White [DVD] (DVD)
If I told you that last night I watched a ruddy good foreign(non English speaking)war film and told you to guess which country it was from you'd be hard pressed to get it right.Would it be Korean?,no,German?,no,Russian then?,no,perhaps French?,still no,in the end I would probably have to tell you it's Indonesian,yes Indonesian!(although some of the films core is Hollywood made).I now own 639 war films and this is my first Indonesian made film.Made on a budget of just two million dollars Merah Putih or Red and White is the first of a trilogy of films based around Indonesia's fight for independence in 1947 from Dutch colonial rule and in my opinion it punches well above it's weight.
As the Dutch rampage through their country killing almost anything that moves a handful of idealistic young men all with differing social status and ethnicities sign up to become Indonesian army cadets.They are then put through a two week training camp to become soldiers and are more often than not seen bickering between themselves.When they graduate they are treated to a party with guests including members of their own family and it's during this celebration that they first come under attack from the Dutch.The ensuing chaos sees the soldiers run for their lives and they become dispersed in the woods.Some soldiers panic whilst a few try to form some sort of static defence.Needless to say their efforts are futile and they retreat to fight another day.
Full of a mixture of verve,enthusiasm and anger the young cadets hatch a plan to ambush a Dutch fuel convoy on a strategic bridge and is the films biggest and best set piece.
Personally I can't see why this film was universally panned by the critics with most of them complaining about the cliche'd characters,the one sided brutality of the Dutch and the climactic ambush scene.Full Metal Jacket is widely considered a masterpiece yet is littered with cliche'd characters(Gomer Pyle,Joker and Eight Ball to name but a few).As for the ambush scene well it just goes to show what a well prepared defensive position can achieve against higher numbers.I do agree that the Dutch were badly portrayed but I chose to ignore this minor detail and continued to be immersed in the story.
There is a lot to be impressed with in this film including the direction,special effects team,cinematography and the colours were brilliantly vibrant.All of the actors give a credible performance and are assisted by a top notch make up team.I thoroughly enjoyed this film and look forward to seeing the next film in the trilogy called Blood of Eagles which has already been released and is available at a ludicrously low price.
On the disc is a trailer and a making of short film which was informative yet slightly worrying that there were several scenes in the short that were not in the film itself.I can only guess that these were edited out for some reason or they appear in the next film.
The dialogue is in Indonesian with a sprinkling of Dutch and with English subtitles throughout which are easy to read,well placed and seem to translate well.

Hong Kong 1941 [DVD]
Hong Kong 1941 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yun-Fat Chow
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £11.23

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Mathews Would Be Proud Of This Turkey!, 30 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hong Kong 1941 [DVD] (DVD)
For me this is a lame attempt at portraying the fall of Hong Kong to the Japanese in 1941 both as a medium of entertainment and as an educational tool.The Japanese are virtually non existent throughout the film and yet still manage to occupy Hong Kong without a shot being fired.The British are represented by a handful of extras wearing ill fitting army surplus gear and the resistance is virtually invisible.If we are to believe in the characters at all then surely the events unfolding around them should be convincing.
The drama aspect of this film fails largely due to the overblown and almost farcical acting with unnecessary hand gestures permeating the whole film.The characters are in the main superficial with only Chow Yun Fat's portrayal of Yip Kim Fay showing any real depth.Maybe its lost on me but I just didn't see the point in the character Nam having an illness it gave nothing to the story and only encouraged her bouts of nauseating hysteria.
There are a couple of moments of Japanese brutality and even this fell flat lacking any real menace or horror.The fight scene near the end where the Japanese officer has a chicken thrown at him made me laugh so hard I almost wet myself.
The technical aspects of the film apart from the score(jolly music played over a tense scene)were at least half decent with the highlights being the cinematography and the camera work.The DVD package is from the Hong Kong Legends stable and is top rate with bags of extras(as if you need any more punishment)and with options for the audio track which is available in either a dubbed English version or in its original language with poorly translated subtitles.

Heroes Shed No Tears [DVD]
Heroes Shed No Tears [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yuet Sang Chin
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £8.57

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars John Woo : "We Need More Explosions!", 25 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Heroes Shed No Tears [DVD] (DVD)
Heroes Shed No Tears was filmed in 1984/1985 but didn't get a release until after the success of A Better Tomorrow in 1986 and is considered to be Woo's transition from Kung Fu films to his now trademark explosion filled gun-play action films.As with most Cine Asia releases we the consumer are treated to a fair amount of extras on the disc and a print that has been digitally remastered.
I bought this film on the basis of it being a war film and although it is set during the Vietnam war it's not your average war film.It doesn't take the usual route of Americans fighting the V.C or NVA, in fact there is only one American GI on show and he's a deserter.
The plot is as simple as they come,a group of Chinese mercenaries employed by the Thai government and under the leadership of Chan are tasked with capturing a drug lord.If they succeed the men are promised green cards to enter the U.S.It seems that capturing the drug lord is the easy part but delivering him safely is another matter altogether.
The mercenaries succeed in capturing the drug lord in an opening scene that had so many explosions that I was sure Woo had blown (pardon the pun) the whole budget in the first ten minutes.They are then relentlessly chased across Thailand,Laos and Vietnam by a whole range of over the top colourful characters and are occasionally aided by friendlies.
The 1980's saw a plethora of Hollywood mercenary films with the likes of the Delta Force franchise and the Dogs of war to name but a few.The only difference here is the obvious Hong Kong style this genre is shown in.The friend I watched this with is a huge Hong Kong fan and loved it from start to finish.
For me the film was like a coin,with one side blowing me away and the other making me laugh uncontrollably.I loved the stunning location filming and am hard pressed to name any Vietnam war film that came close to the scenery.The close ups of the weapons/loading were out of this world.The M-16 shown had the cleaning kit in the butt of the rifle and the .45 pistol had the manufacturers name stamped down the side(props wouldn't show these).The sniper shot through the scope scene pre-dates Saving Private Ryan's and is infinitely more realistic.The wardrobe and pyrotechnics teams deserve a nod for their attention to detail and I liked the addition of Montagnards in the film.The camera work too is top notch and shows signs of Woo's ability in camera placement.
The other side of the coin is the bendy rubber spears used,the stunt men contorting and twisting when shot and the lack of any real character development(only Chan's character has any background at all).The dialogue is as cheesy as it comes and the enemy fire thousands of rounds without hitting anything yet the mercenaries don't miss(ever).
This withstanding I was mildly entertained and the film never takes itself too seriously.It has no profound meaning or messages and is what it is a mindless violent action film.Fans of the genre will undoubtedly love it and likewise those not into hong Kong style film making will probably loathe it.I think three stars is a fair assesment of a film ridiculously and unintentionally funny yet peppered with great shots and action.
Filmed in a mixture of English,Cantonese,Thai and Vietnamese with English subtitles,again no dubbed version available.

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