8:00 PM, 11th March, 2001
Mmmm. Drew Barrymore, red hair...Well, that's enough reason for me to see this film again. And again. And again... What, you want more? Well, quite apart from its other two outstanding features (Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu), there is actually more to this film than perving at three of the most beautiful women in Hollywood in a variety of revealing outfits.
The plot follows the Angels as they try to find and rescue a young entrepreneur, apparently kidnapped by a business rival (a nice turn by Tim Curry). Along the way, they'll find love, betrayal, giant sumo suits, Formula One racecars, and maybe even Charlie himself. Funnily enough, this is actually a very good movie. They didn't have to bother, I'd have turned up for Drew Barrymore reading the phone book for two hours (Mmmm, Drew Barrymore). But the three Angels come across as rounded characters, almost real people. The film never takes itself seriously either, giving the entire thing a sense of fun too often missing in big-budget action films. The film is based on the '70s TV show of the same name. Not a film to miss.
ED: There is an encore screening of Charlie's Angels being screened on Monday 12 March at 8:00 p.m., because we like the Angels (though we think Lucy Liu is much better than Drew Barrymore).
8:01 PM, 11th March, 2001
Shanghai Noon is Jackie Chan in the Wild West. It gives this master fight choreographer a whole new range of props to play with. Watch him use all the paraphernalia of the West to beat Outlaws and Indians, saloon patrons and posses, gunslingers and even other Chinese skilled in the martial arts. Jackie Chan plays Chun Wein, (get it?), a member of the Chinese Imperial Guard sent to Carson City, Nevada, to rescue a Princess (Liu). Along the way he joins forces with Roy O'Bannon (Wilson), an outlaw who purports to know all there is about the West. Of course, it is not long before Jackie Chan's ingenuity and imaginative fighting techniques shine through, and soon he is the one helping Roy.
This is a highly commercial film and as such not one of Jackie Chan's best((mdash))you don't get the same sense of urgency and excitement in these films as in his earlier ones. There is a definite feeling that the fight scenes are driving the movie, rather than the pretty weak plot. Despite this, fans of Jackie Chan will enjoy another chance to watch more of his highly choreographed but seemingly accidental fight scenes. As always with Jackie Chan films, it is worth staying through the credits to watch the outtakes.
8:02 PM, 11th March, 2001
Wesley Snipes plays Neil Shaw, one of those super-secret-no-identity-type guys we often encounter in the movies. In typical Bond-like style we are shown just how tough Shaw is in the opening scene, which is one of many very visually impressive and exciting sequences The Art of War has to offer. I'm not sure if the title is in reference to the famous book by Sun Tzu. I think it's probably because the name sounds exciting. Or maybe it's because the plot revolves around the UN's relationship with China. There's politics abounding in this movie (I was finding it difficult to follow at points), much too much plot for an action movie, and as such I found myself wishing I had a fast forward control at some points when the political plotline was boring me. Anyway... A plot outline... I'll try... a shipload of dead Vietnamese refugees turns up in the US, and an unknown assassin shoots the Chinese ambassador. Shaw is the prime suspect and so must evade everybody while trying to bring the real culprit to justice. It's fairly standard stuff((mdash))but the action is great, and if that's what you want (particularly if you like the new sort of action((mdash))Matrix, Mission: Impossible 2, Charlie's Angels) then you'll like The Art of War.
8:04 PM, 11th March, 2001
What is it about Die Hard that makes it a definitive action flick? Is it Bruce Willis, wearing a rapidly disintegrating singlet, taking out a building full of terrorists one by one? Is it Alan Rickman, giving a textbook performance as the snide bad guy? Could it even be the fact that this is one of those rare action films that actually takes some time to give us some serious character development? Well, for me anyway, it's mostly Alan Rickman. Which is not to discount Bruce's singlet or the characterisation thing either. A quick recap of the plot; New York cop visits his ex-wife in her Los Angeles workplace, the building gets taken over by terrorists, our hero fights on despite the opposition of the local force, those self-same terrorists and the occasional idiot hostage. Bruce's John McLane is given some world-weariness that characterises most of Bruce's best roles (from Hudson Hawk to the bloke in The Sixth Sense). The plot having a few twists and turns in it (including a tremendous mid-film confrontation between hero and villain) means that this manages to be pretty damn thrilling. As for how it scores on the things-blowing-up, cool-deaths, heroic-catchphrase and number-of-bullets-fired-out-of-an-Uzi rankings((mdash))well, it scores pretty damn well on these counts too.
8:05 PM, 11th March, 2001
Ex-Green Beret Cameron Poe (Cage) is released from prison after serving seven years for killing a man in self defence. He gets a lift home on a plane transporting a load of dangerous criminals to a new maximum-security prison. It turns out that this flight is the chance for two criminals, "Cyrus the Virus" (Malkovich) and "Diamond Dog" (Rhames), to make their break for freedom. They hijack the plane, and it's up to Poe and U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin (Cusack) to stop them.
Bad action and science-fiction movies are often excused as parodies, but Con Air really does work best as an enjoyable parody of the action genre, the cliches of which are all present in exaggerated form. (An American critic also noted Con Air's appeal as a potential gay cult classic((mdash))one scene with a dozen large sweaty men in singlets pulling a plane out of a ditch with big ropes is the most homoerotic scene in a major film since the volleyball game in Top Gun).