Sunday, May 5, 2013

Unchained Melody

Another queue management issue: I had a bunch of movies with long waits at the top of the queue, and two of them came! Both were good, but too thematically similar, leading to a slight imbalance in the weeks entertainment. I'm sure you all know how annoying a slight imbalance in tone of your weekend's DVD selection can be. Or is it just me? Never mind.

First up - The Man with the Iron Fists, RZA's (2012) kung fu movie. The RZA directs, co-writes (with Eli Roth) and stars, but there's a touch of Tarantino - he gets "Presented by" credit.

In a lot of ways, this is your average modern martial arts movie. RZA plays a blacksmith in a corrupt village. A shipment of gold becomes the MacGuffin that all the various bad guys are after. There are more or less no good guys, just less evil rascals, including Russell Crowe as Jack Knife and Rick Yune (Ninja Assassin). Also, Lucy Liu as the madame of the brothel that is the center of most of the action.

The action is pretty solid, possibly due to fight choreography by Corey Yuen, one of our faves. The plot and dialog is no more (or less) ridiculous then most of these movies, and I would say RZA did a decent job of this. My only complaint is that the music was a bit on the generic side. I guess RZA was too busy with the rest of the movie to bring the sick beats.

Next up, Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's 2012 meditation on antebellum race relations. Jamie Fox is Django, a slave freed by bounty hunter Christoph Waltz because he can identify an outlaw. Soon Django takes to the bounty hunter lifestyle - killing white folks for money.  But what he really wants is to be reunited with his wife, held slave by cruel master Leonardo DiCaprio.

So, this is a Tarantino movie so:

  • The music is awesome or weird, from the original Django theme to Jim Croce's "I've Got a Name"
  • The blood flows, spruts and sprays - there's a gruesome joke about people getting shot over and over again by their own side in a crossfire.
  • Realism isn't in it
Waltz in particular plays a great role, an upstanding man of German extraction who doesn't appreciate the racial politics of America, and treats Django like any other human. But he does it with a stilted German accent, with a very mannered style. So, not a documentary.

I guess you can see the connections between this and The Man with the Iron Fists: Genre tributes, black protagonists, modern take on period subjects, blood and violence. We usually try for a little more variety - a modern action and a classic comedy is our favorite mix. So, both good movies, just maybe too much of a good thing.

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