Friday, May 22, 2009

Movie Review: Wheels On Meals

Yes, this isn't the advertised next film in my roughly-chronological Jackie Chan Film Festival, but I decided to dust it off for another look. And you know what - it was better than I had remembered.

Now maybe this is just because of my recent pass through a couple of the Lucky Stars films - a couple of the cast members from those films pop up in cameos here. This one is a definite step up from those, both in terms of the comedy and the action. It's still true that this is an Asian comedy, not Western, so the overall tone is different. But the comedy bits here are at least a bit more subtle - and yes, funny - than in some of the prior Chan efforts. That's a good thing, because the first half of this film is focused on the comedy and plot intros, rather than the action.

In this one, Chan and fellow "Three Dragons" Yuen Biao play cousins who run a mobile restaurant out of a van. They deliver meals on skateboards (explaining the title and giving Jackie yet another chance to exercise his 80's skateboarding interest). They get hooked up with a female con artist - Yuen plays the heartstruck romantic, while Chan plays the more sensible skeptic - who is coincidentally being sought by a private detective friend of theirs played by Sammo Hung.

After 45 minutes of comedy beats with these four characters and assorted supporting characters, we eventually get to the plot - she's an unknowing heiress, and her uncle is trying to kidnap her and her mother in order to keep the inheritance for himself. Here's where the action finally kicks in, as the uncle's hired thugs take the women to a castle, and the three friends head off in pursuit.

Once we get there, the actions scenes are top-rate. Jackie and friends are portrayed here as skilled but not overly-skilled, and the thugs are shown as on par with their abilities. So the fights are relatively even affairs, with Jackie deciding to break off rather than fight on more than one occasion. The ending fight between Jackie and Benny Urquidez is considered one of the best ever, and it lives up to its reputation in my opinion - Benny doesn't back down for a minute, doesn't fall for any of Jackie's tricks, and really just gets beaten after a fairly lucky punch by Jackie. It's an outstanding sequence and fairly brutal given the relatively light tone of the rest of the movie.

If you can deal with the relative lack of action (and somewhat better-than-usual Asian comedy bits) in the first half, then the second half of Wheels On Meals should definitely be given a look for Jackie fans, especially compared to some of his other comedic films of this period. Three solid stars, just because overall it doesn't quite rise to "classic" status for me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Today's WTF Moment

Remember that game show from last year, that was on for about 15 minutes?
The one with people trying to fit through holes in a wall?

Well, what if instead of people dressed in spandex, you had body builders in speedos?

And instead of being cheered on by a studio audience, you were being cheered on by an old man with dancing rabbits?

And what if, for no reason, you also slapped a giraffe and an elephant on the screen?

Well, if that's you, then (a) get back on your medication and (b) prepared to get sued, because you've just ripped off the new Nintendo Wii game, Muscle March!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Idle Thoughts During The Lost Finale

1. The Goode Family looks really bad.

2. But not as bad as that Land Of The Lost movie. Ooof.

3. This might be the best episode during the best season of TV I've ever seen. Although The Shield season 7 comes close.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Movie Review:Police Story Part 2

And so we get to another Jackie Chan sequel (to the outstanding first film). Jackie reprises his role as Ka-Kui (or "Kevin" in the English version), a police officer who in the last film had resigned from the force after being framed for murder, going after the crime boss responsible for his predicament. At the start here, he's back on the force, but temporarily busted down to traffic patrol. He gets bumped back up to detective duty to help stop an extortion scheme by a group of bombers who blow up a shopping mall (yep - the second Police Story movie in a row to trash a mall). Meanwhile, the crime boss is back out on the street and harassing Ka-Kui and his girlfriend May. And, as usual, Jackie's character is also continuing to have problems with his love life.

In some ways, this sequel is an improvement on the original - in other ways, it isn't. The improvement here comes in the non-action scenes. Amazingly enough, for the most part this movie plays like a straight police procedural, without the usual action film cliches. The tracking down of the bombers is done with bugging, surveillance and interrogations, rather than stunt-filled set pieces. There's still humorous bits (a running gag where a bad guy gets his glasses repeatedly broken by Jackie among them), and for a change, they tend to not be wincingly bad. This isn't by any stretch a super-serious, super-accurate police drama, but compared to a lot of action films (and especially a lot of Jackie Chan films), this one is played more seriously than most.

But don't fear - the usual over-the-top stunt and fightwork does show up again in time for the ending fight. You know you're back in Jackie Chan mode when the final big battle is set in a fireworks factory. The ending sequence has Jackie tortured with fireworks, escaping from a bomb vest, rescuing his kidnapped girlfriend, beating up the bombing crew and escaping from the fireworks factory moments before it explodes. Classic stuff, but it doesn't quite hold up to the glass-shattering climax of the first film, and that's where this one ends up slightly behind its older brother.

This one also gets a strong four stars from me. Up next, a Jackie Chan film I haven't seen before! Jackie tries out colonial-era gangster flick with Miracles aka Black Dragon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Bulletproof News

From The Truth About Cars (which is dismantling the ongoing auto industry scam, err, bailout with a thoroughness and wittiness that I wish more people would read) comes a story about the attempts of Richmond, Indiana to bring an auto plant to their town.

The story is reported by their local paper - the Richmond Palladium-Item.

I don't care about the story, but wow...the Palladium-Item is about the most awesomeist newspaper name EVAR. If more of them had names like that, maybe fewer of them would be on the brink of shutting down.

Hmmm...on second thought, never mind.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gimme Those Wide Open Spaces

Ah, the pleasure of a brand-spanking-new terabyte drive, just waiting to be filled up with junk.