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M. JONES "mj1001" (uk)

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Death Sentence [DVD]
Death Sentence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Bacon
Offered by Door2DoorEntertainment
Price: £2.50

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grossly underrated, 3 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Death Sentence [DVD] (DVD)
After watching this last night on DVD, I came online to read the reviews it got and was really shocked at the bad press it's recieved. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it. It was touching, terrifying and exciting in equal doses.

I generally like revenge flicks but one of the main problems they usually have is that the act of vengeance takes place halfway through and the rest of the film starts losing it's way... not here. In this film, it's a war from start to finish between Kevin Bacon's smart-suited family man and a street gang. Essentially a remake of Death Wish and an adaptation of that novel's sequel, Death Sentence carries the theme off very well and had me gripped throughout.

The opening scenes of tragedy were very moving, but the 'action' sequences that ensue are also very well handled. If you like your one-take sequences, then there's a beautiful five minute steadicam shot as Bacon is chased through a multi-storey car park. Also, the shootouts that take place are very visceral and engaging, despite the bad guys' abysmal aiming!

On another note, I cannot understand the criticisms that claim the film glorifies revenge. Yes, at first, we want nothing more than to see these lowlives get their comeuppance but as the film spirals into chaos, it's a clear message that revenge comes with a massive price to pay. In my opinion, this is one of the classier and most entertaining revenge flicks out there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2011 12:53 PM BST

Sudden Death [DVD] [1996]
Sudden Death [DVD] [1996]
Dvd ~ Jean-Claude Van Damme
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £10.16

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most efficient and solid action thrillers around, 31 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Sudden Death [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Jean Claude Van Damme plays a fireman who's lost his nerve as well as the respect of his young son. But that's soon about to change when terrorists take over an ice hockey stadium and the Vice President's box. On hand is Van Damme who is determined to save his family and foil the terrorists' plans, which include blowing up the stadium during the match.

Van Damme is likeable as always and Powers Boothe lends some charisma as the chief villian. He's no Alan Rickman, but his presence definately aids the movie. But the aspect that really raises this effort is the action. It's virtually non-stop and nicely varied, despite being in one location. Whether he's fighting a giant penguin (it'll make sense when you see it!), swinging from the rafters or even taking part in the hockey match itself (again, it makes sense during the film), there's always the right balance between humour and tension, thanks also to some pacy editing.

There are some resemblances to Die Hard of course, but this is one of the better 'clones' out there and I constantly find myself coming back to this one!

The Fog (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1979]
The Fog (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1979]
Dvd ~ Adrienne Barbeau
Price: £12.28

4.0 out of 5 stars One of Carpenter's most atmospheric films, 23 Dec. 2007
'The Fog' may be slow in parts and it's characters may be less interesting than his other films, but John Carpenter is on top form in terms of creating mood and tension.

From the outset, the film is set-up as a bedtime ghost story and the opening sequence with John Houseman is arguably the finest moment in the film and from Carpenter's whole career. As an old sailor tells his spooky tale to a bunch of kids, the camera pans over across the dark and silent bay and from here on in it's grim.

A ship of lepers are led into the rocks by the small town residents and decades later return to wreak revenge on the community, disguised by the fog in which they crashed. The basic story works for this type of old-school horror, but the film drags at times and many feel that the climax never really pays off. However, this is still a classic work from Carpenter in his heydey and still a damn site scarier than some of today's so-called horror films.

Assassin's Creed (PS3)
Assassin's Creed (PS3)
Offered by Super-bargains
Price: £15.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but still good fun, 20 Nov. 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Assassin's Creed isn't without it's faults but I still have found it to be an enjoyable and occasionally awe-inspiring experience.

As assassin Altair, you must redeem yourself after being stripped of rank and ability in the first mission. To do this, you are given a list of 9 high-profile targets (merchants, slavers etc.) that you must track down across 3 cities; Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem. You can't choose your targets to begin with which is a shame, but as the game goes on you'll be able to pick your next target from a group of two or three which is better.

The story isn't overly developed and Altair isn't going to win any awards for best character, but none of this detracts from game. The graphics are simply stunning! The thing I've noticed is that the PS3s graphics seem to work best in sun-lit enviroments and here, that's what we get. I'll never get bored of climbing the walls of Jerusalem with the sun beating down on me. The only technical downside is that you occasionally get stuck in a wall or ceiling and might find yourself dying in order to get out, but this doesn't happen often and there are loads of save points.

The gameplay itself is great fun. Being able to free-run across virtually anything is made possible by holding down R1 and X. In fact it's harder to drop down from the rooftops than it is to stay up there, because Altair will automatically find his next piece of ledge or beam. In theory, you can free-run across the entire city without ever stopping, which makes for a great feeling.

On his missions, Altair will need to find information on his prey before striking. Most of this involves eavesdropping or pickpocketing which isn't very taxing. But sometimes, you'll need to do favours in exchange for info, which requires stealth kills that are far more challenging than the actual assassinations.

Also, you can take the time to access the cities' towering "viewpoints" where objectives can be found easier. Aside from detailing your map, it's just brilliant to climb up these massive towers overlooking the city and then perform and stomach-churning "leap of faith" into a haystack hundreds of feet below. There are 100 flags to collect around the cities which I don't care for very much, but the best side-quests are always "saving citizens", where some elderly guy or woman is being roughed up and in need of assistance. This is the best one becase....

...the combat is fantastic! Some have said that it's nothing but counter-attacks, but I disagree. In one case, I walked up to a gang of soldiers, threw knives at two, performed a counter attack on one, threw another into a shop stand and finished the last off with my short blade. And the best part is that there are always more soliders round the corner. If you're like me, you'll relish the chance to humilate a dozen guards in front of the public and when "vigilantes" get involved it's even better! There's never a pressing need to run away which you could say is a shame but when the fighting mechanic is so good, you won't mind.

The downside to things is how samey the info-gathering quests become and how redundant they really are. This is because the hits themselves are never stealthy-affairs. You're intel is never that useful because your targets will be in plain sight and surrounded by guards every time.

If you take the approach that this is more of an action game than a stealth one, you'll enjoy it a lot more. Also, you can chose to fly through the game in under 10 hours or, like me, save every citizen, climb every viewpoint and generally get into as many fights as possible and therefore make it 20-30 hours.

Warhawk - Game Only (PS3)
Warhawk - Game Only (PS3)
Offered by Bonkers4Bargains!
Price: £17.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast moving and addictive!, 5 Oct. 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
With no single player option whatsoever, PS3's Warhawk is pure multiplayer mayhem! You can still play split-screen and over a LAN but the real draw to the game is it's online community. With up to 32 players in a single game, players can control turrets, jeeps, tanks and aircraft in a variety of multplayer modes.

There is no story to speak of, just simply a battle between red and blue (Chernovian and Eucadian) which currently sprawls across 5 maps which all vary in terrain and are huge! Although limited in this regard, I'm sure we'll be seeing some more to download next year. What's so fun about Warhawk is it's fast moving gameplay. If you've played Star Wars Battlefront, then you'll notice certain similarities here; the "zones" mode and the ability to hop into vehicles with other players for instance.

There is never a real advantage to any of the vehicles availiable either; tanks are vulnerable to air attacks, but can make short work of jeeps and infantry. Jets are fast and agile but sitting ducks to far-away turrets. You get the picture - Warhawk is a nicely balanced multiplayer game and there is no real drawback to speak of.

Early network issues seem to have been resolved with rankings, buddy systems and clans now in place. As your rank increases, you can customise your characters and jets (which change their appearance for each person, nice) more and more which helps the game become even more addictive! Also, there is always a server to get onto and loading times are pretty fast. With no lag on full servers either, Warhawk is a very fluid and gorgeous game.

The disc edition of Warhawk also comes with a Jabra headset which means you can now share your frustration or joy with other gamers, and even co-ordinate your team so that you can safely get that last flag back home! I'd recommend the disc/headset edition as you can use multiple accounts and if you lose your connection for whatever reason, you can always trade the game in later on.

A definate must-buy and a worthy PS3 exclusive!

Spider-Man 3 (2 Disc Special Edition) Limited Edition Sleeve Design and Slipcase (Exclusive to [DVD] [2007]
Spider-Man 3 (2 Disc Special Edition) Limited Edition Sleeve Design and Slipcase (Exclusive to [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Tobey Maguire
Price: £2.95

31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing mess, 27 Aug. 2007
Torn between 2 and 3 stars for this third installment, I decided that 2 would suit my title better. I was very underwhelmed.

It seems to me that filmmakers didn't expect to do a fourth film and tried cramming everything into this one and was should have been the climax of a great trilogy became a bit of a mess. First off, the film falls into the classic trap of having too many supervillains. Much like X-Men and Batman, the film struggles to reign them in. There's Sandman, who is one of the greatest CGI creations in cinema (his "birth" is a standout scene), however the rest of the effects fail to reach that standard. Second is Harry Osborn, who has discovered his deceased Dad's arsenal and intends to finally nail Spiderman. Third is Venom, who appears very late in the film (as a result of a fourth "villain" in Peter Parker's dark side) and is a huge letdown.

Because of the "too many cooks" (or crooks) scenario, we get some pretty bad plot devices and coincidences to get them all together. At one point, in order to keep one in a holding pattern, the writer even resorts to the chiched amnesia device (!) while another pair join forces completely at random. Worse still, the films' own history is rewritten to give Sandman more relevance.

Another huge issue is the main storyline which promises a darker Parker, thanks to a handily placed meteor (when I say handily I mean lazily written) which oozes alien gunge that turns Spidey's suit black. However, Parker's decent into the depths of his soul becomes nothing more than having him steal a few cookies and push a few bouncers around, whilst strutting around like a goth version of John Travolta. Combined with the tired on-off romance with MJ and the disorientating action sequences, Spiderman 3 is pretty hard-going.

I kinda hope that they do make a fourth and this time keep it focused on a more coherant and satisfying storyline.

Transformers (PS2)
Transformers (PS2)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!, 7 Aug. 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Transformers (PS2) (Video Game)
My main reservation with playing Transformers was that it wasn't the classic G1 characters, but rather based on the Armada series. However, with the new film out I decided to give it a go.

This game is a blast, quite literally. Despite not being classic Transformers, it's great fun. The plot revolves around "mini-cons" scattered across Earth and the race between Autobots and Decepticons to find them. The mini-cons basically serve as weapons and upgrades and as the game goes on, you have to choose which ones to equip, giving the game a good tactical element.

Some "mini-cons" just upgrade your regular weapons (blasters, rockets) while others give you new abilities such as gliding which gives access to previously unreachable areas. There are several levels, but each one is huge and the draw distances are fantastic. You can stand on the tallest points on the landscape and look across for miles, even spotting enemy patrols which you may wish to sneak past or launch an attack on. Each level also contains several checkpoints, which means you can drop in on any area you've completed and access those places you couldn't reach before.

While the graphics are fantastic, the gameplay is also superb. The ability to transform at will, courtesy of a quick backflip, means that your attacks are fast and frantic. You can drive up to a patrol of baddies, ram through a couple, transform in mid-air then slide to a halt while blasting the remaining enemies into little pieces. On some occasions you'll drive like a maniac over a ravine, transforming and landing on you feet the other side. With the glider wings, you may find yourself performing suicidal attacks on nearby dropships!

The freedom you have in this game is a huge part of its success. One player may prefer a stealthy approach, using a powerful sniper rifle, while another may adopt a hit and run tactic.

Transformers is also quite difficult at times, with the sheer number of bad guys being overpowering at times, while some have huge firepower and few weak spots. However, the game is just as rewarding too. There are loads of extras to find, called "datacons" and as I mentioned, the mini-con powers provide good replay value.

My only gripe with this game is that only key characters can actually transform. The armies of grunts you fight, "Decepticlones", cannot transform and one can only imagine the possibilities if they could. But as it is, the game offers a lot of fun and a nice lifespan and considering the standard of the import G1 game, this is definately a winner!

Game Of Death 2 [DVD]
Game Of Death 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Lee
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £9.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Awful film, great fight scenes, 16 July 2007
This review is from: Game Of Death 2 [DVD] (DVD)
'Game of Death' may have been an attempt to use new footage of Bruce Lee to create a complete film, but 'Game of Death 2' really is a cash-in on the success of GOD1 and Bruce Lee's legacy. And boy is it bad.

This film is known either as 'Game of Death 2' or 'Tower of Death', but either way the title should have been 'Enter the Dragon 2' because there is more to do with that film than anything else. From the Shaolin temple, to the secret drug hideout, the film basically recreates the 1973 film - to much worse effect. The story is about Billy Lo (Bruce Lee, apparently) who investigates a friend's sudden death, but when Billy himself is taken out, its up to his brother Bobby to settle the score.

There are so many things wrong with this film that you start to wonder if its a spoof like Kung Pow. The supposed villain lives in what must be a mental hospital, feeding his peacocks and lions (?) while having raw venison and deer's blood for breakfast. Just when the film couldn't get any worse it does, throwing in a dirty hooker and a fake lion outfit which must be seen to be believed... or maybe not.

The film promises a tower, build into the ground rather than above it, where our hero will have to fight through. What sounded like Lee's original 'GOD' idea turns out to be nothing of the sort. Tower of Death? More like 'Generator Room of Death' - one room, lots of baddies and a couple of leopard-skinned henchmen. So not only does the Tower idea fall on its face, but we get a poor man's Enter the Dragon set (which says a lot really) as well.

Despite all of these issues, the film contains some pretty awesome fights. The final showdown is certainly worth watching. If you must own this dvd (I bought it having not seen it) then just watch it with the commentary on, that way you'll get the most out of it. For diehards only.

Warrior King [DVD]
Warrior King [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Jaa
Price: £3.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, 14 July 2007
This review is from: Warrior King [DVD] (DVD)
'Ong Bak' was a delightfully simple tale with Tony Jaa showing to the world his fantastic Muay Thai fighting skills and acrobatic ability. The film followed the classic framework - slow start, big finish. The film was about 30 minutes build up, 70 minutes payoff.

'Warrior King', however, doesn't have the same pace. While it starts well enough, the middle section becomes a mess and slows to a halt. Luckily, the film really picks up for the final 30 minutes.

The plot this time is Kham, who is last in a long line of warriors, in charge of protecting sacred elephants. When a father and son elephant are taken by animal smugglers, Kham tracks them down to Sydney where he comes across a criminal empire and a suspicious restaurant. People criticise the plot for being too simple. But I believe it's the other way around - the simple but touching story is ruined by a messy subplot involving dodgy dealings and police corruption.

On his journey, Kham meets a Thai police officer who lives in Sydney and the pair try to take down the people responsible for taking Kham's elephants. Some characters are completely irrelevant, while others come and go to the extent where the audience gets lost. I don't mind martial arts films being two-dimensional but Warrior King can be frustrating at times. If the plot had been kept as simple as the premise suggests, it would have been much better in my opinion.

Although Ong Bak was tidier and better structured, the action in Warrior King is definately superior which makes the film more than watchable. Jaa does everything he can to up the ante for this latest film, which sees him navigate everything from boat chases to extreme sports gangs. The sequence where Jaa fights through a busy restaurant is technically brilliant, although for many the highlight will be a waterlogged fight between Kham and three experts in different fighting styles. The final 20 minutes is also brutal and creative with Tony Jaa fighting his toughest (and biggest) opponent so far. It's very reminiscant of Game of Death's showdown with the giant Jabbar.

With it's 5 star action, Warrior King suffers from its poor plotting and characters. Luckily, the messy storyline tidies itself up by the end - becoming as personal and touching as how it started. While the good certainly outweighs the bad, I'm sure many will prefer Ong Bak and will be looking forward to Jaa's next film. I know I'll be there, front row.

Game of Death (2-Disc Platinum Edition) [1973] [DVD]
Game of Death (2-Disc Platinum Edition) [1973] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Lee
Price: £21.65

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hack job, but still quite entertaining, 12 July 2007
Even 34 years after his death, Bruce Lee remains on of cinema's most enduring pioneers. Not only was the man incredibly cool, funny and clever but he was a tremendous athlete and a very profound individual. Because of his tragically short life and film career, it makes sense that anything at all related to Bruce Lee should be examined and even appreciated. That's where 'Game of Death' controversially comes in.

Most people will know that Bruce died before completing the film and only shot a sequence of fights taking place in a pagoda. In an effort to bring this footage to the big screen, a plot was written to accomodate the pagoda sequence. Five years after Bruce's death, new footage was shot using a number of techniques to fill in the gaps. The story centres of Billy Lo, a martial arts superstar who's talents are wanted by the 'syndicate'. When Lo repeatedly refuses, he is shot during filming... but survives to take his revenge. Adopting a number of disguises, with the help of his friends, Lo takes on the 'syndicate'.

You'll either be of the opinion that this film was a shameless cash-in on a dead icon's talents or a genuine effort to bring lost Lee footage to the fans. Either way, there's no hiding the fact that 'Game of Death' is a hack job.

Because of Lee's absence for 75% of the film, a couple of stand-in's are used as well as clips of Bruce's earlier films. The techniques used to maintain the illusion range from plain awful (superimposed heads) to quite good (fake beards and sunglasses). Bearing in mind that Lee's earlier film 'Fist of Fury' including hokey disguises, I don't have a problem with that part. However, I think all will agree that using Bruce's real funeral footage to double as Billy's fake funeral was tasteless.

In order to fill out the running time, the supporting cast have a lot more to do than in Bruce's earlier films. Also, there is more in the way of action. In fact, it's the most action-packed Bruce Lee film which doesn't include Bruce Lee! While the doubles are not as fast or skilled as Lee, they still provide some good punch-ups. This is where 'Game of Death' becomes watchable, the film moves at a decent pace and contains some fun fight sequences... before we get to the main event, the real Bruce Lee 'Game of Death' footage. The fight between Lee and Abdul Jabbar is one of the most bizarre but entertaining fight sequences of his film career, while the nunchuka duel is unique. Thankfully, this sequence appears at the end, ensuring that the film ends more on a positive note.

If you're in the mood, or doing a Bruce Lee marathon, then 'Game of Death' is certainly watchable. Bolstered by John Barry's excellent score, the film isn't a complete waste of time and if you're willing to suspend disbelief then you might be OK. It's just frustrating to think how things would have been with the Dragon still alive.

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