Archive for Russian mafia

Safe

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on September 16, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A former cage fighter comes to the aid of a 12-year-old girl kidnapped by ruthless Triad gangsters. Before the rescue is over, the pair will go up against not only her abductors, but also the Russian Mafia and a bunch of corrupt New York cops.

REVIEW:

Say what you will about Jason Statham, I happen to believe he is the current go to guy for action films. I challenge you to name someone else who is as bankable without being a superhero (although Statham has stated he wants to e Daredevil). Safe is another entry into Staham’s action repertoire, but a bit of a departure from his usual formulaic films.

What is this about?

Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei’s trail. Will he be able to keep her safe and return to his normal life?

What did I like?

Mob wars. Russian and Chinese mafias going at each other throats and trying to get this little girl and kill Statham. What more can one ask for? Seems like he’s always stuck between two mobs (one of which is always Chinese) in his films, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing to me.

Hong. The other day, I saw this guy as a villain in an episode of The A-Team and now here he is again as a villainous mob boss. The special thing about that, though, is that most of his roles lately have been more of a good guy, typical mentor kind of guy. The last thing that I remember him in was the Kung Fu Panda films, and he’s Po’s dad, which makes him as good of a guy as you can get.

Mei. The little girl is hopefully on her way to a huge career. She shows some signs of true acting talent, not to mention being able to hang with Statham in the action realm, something that isn’t very easy to do.

What didn’t I like?

Lack of clarity. Throughout the whole film, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering what was really going on. It is never really a clear picture what the motives for everything are, why this little girl manages to bring Statham’s character back to “life”, etc.

Not a comedy. Some jokes were cracked here and there, but this isn’t anywhere near being a comedy, contrary to what people seem to believe. I give the film all the props in the world for inserting some jokes here and there, though.

Corrupt cops. There really isn’t anything special about the corrupt cops and city officials. In the same way that I hate how films use the military anytime something “different” appears on Earth, I’m just not a fan of these corrupt cop capers. I’ve just seen enough of these type of things.

Safe is a safe bet for those that are into these kind of action flicks. Staham is a bankable action star and earns his money in this one. Once this film gets going, hang on because you’re in for a fun ride. I don’t highly recommend this, but it is worth watching, so check it out!

3 out of 5 stars

Be Cool

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) helps Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), the widow of an executed friend, Tommy Athens (James Woods), to resurrect a record company using the talents of young and talented female vocalist and songwriter, Linda Moon (Christina Milian). The plot is complicated by several facts:

  • A loan-shark subplot from Get Shorty of “who owns who”, Chili makes deals and owns all the players as a “producer”.
  • The Russian Mafia are trying to kill Chili because he witnessed the execution of Athens.
  • Athens’ record company owes money to a gangster/producer, Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer).

Chili Palmer, tired of filmmaking, enters the music industry when his friend, Tommy Athens and owner of a record company, is executed by the head of the Russian mob, which Chili witnesses. Chili uses the opportunity to help his friend’s widow, Edie Athens, manage the failing business, which owes $300,000 to the hip hop producer Sin LaSalle. Chili enters the music industry on the talents of a female entertainer, Linda Moon. Moon convinces Chili to take on her cause, getting out of contractual obligations to Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and Raji (Vince Vaughn), who has a gay Samoan bodyguard named Eliott (The Rock), an aspiring actor and the butt of Carr and Raji’s homophobic jokes. Carr and Raji take exception to Chili’s intervention, and hire a hitman, Joe “Loop” Lupino (Robert Pastorelli) to kill Chili. In the meantime, Chili convinces Edie to produce Moon, hoping to resurrect Athens’ failing record company through a live performance with Aerosmith and Steven Tyler.

LaSalle threatens Chili and Edie for payment of the $300,000, but they convince him to give them a few days to get the money plus the vig. When the Russians attempt to kill Chili, Joe Loop mistakenly kills Ivan Argianiyev (George Fisher), the Russian Mob hitman. Raji then kills Loop with a bat after Loop “disrespects” him. After Chili talks Linda into leaving Carr and his girl group, Carr tries to trick Chili by handing him a pawn ticket, claiming that Linda’s contract was at the pawn shop owned by the Russians. This is actually a set-up by Carr to get Chili killed.

Knowing about this trick, Chili hands the ticket to Edie, who turns it over to the police. Now the cops, instead of Chili, pay the Russians a visit. Believing that Carr tricked him, Bulkin and his men pay a visit to Carr’s office while Sin LaSalle and the DubMD’s are there. Insulted by Bulkin’s racist remarks (while LaSalle himself also makes racist remarks the whole time), LaSalle kills him. In the meantime, Raji sends Elliot to kill Chili. However, Chili befriends Elliot and tells him that he can help him out with his acting career. When Carr threatens Chili, Chili sends him to the hands of the police with a pawn ticket. Finally when Raji and Elliot threaten Chili, Chili again befriends Elliot, who turns on Raji after learning that Chili gotten him an audition for a film and Raji erased the evidence of it on his T-Mobile_Sidekick. For all his smooth talking and flamboyant wardrobe, Raji finds himself in a firework conflagration which roasts him live on camera. Carr is arrested on murder charges when they find him with the bat used to kill Joe Loop.

During all of this confusion, Chili squeezes in a dance scene with Edie (a nod to his “Twist Contest” scene, also with Thurman, in Pulp Fiction) and Moon gets her debut with Aerosmith. Finally, LaSalle becomes the producer for Moon and Elliot embarks on a successful acting career (his first film is with Nicole Kidman)

REVIEW:

For those that don’t know, Be Cool is the sequel to Get Shorty. There are a few references to the previous film, but not enough to warrant watching the prior film first. You won’t be lost and/or confused watching this one first.

Be Cool really isn’t that great. It is another one of those flicks that is labeled as a comedy, even though there is very little to laugh about. Whether that is the cause of bad writing or me not getting the “jokes” I don’t know, but there is a true lack of comedy in this “comedy”.

The true highlight of this film is Christina Milian. Not only is she a true treat for the eyes, she has some nice pipes, and isn’t that bad of an actress, especially when you consider she is a singer, first.

The story here is…ok, at best. In a manner similar to the first film, it doesn’t gel and just comes off as a big mixture of random characters who cross paths without knowing each other. I hope that the book isn’t like this.

Other than Milian, there really isn’t much to say about the cast here. Although, I can say that The Rock does a good job with his role as a gay bouncer.

In the end, I wouldn’t waste your time watching Be Cool. This film doesn’t suck, but it isn’t anything more than average, maybe even below average. I’m sure there is an audience for this flick, though. I’m just not part of that group.

2 1/2 out of  stars

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