Punisher: War Zone Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

It’s time for the return of the Punisher but this one isn’t quite able to match the first one. It goes all in with making the Punisher a rather imposing figure who takes down everyone in his way but along the way it forgot the charm of the series and doesn’t focus as much on how he helps people on a local level. This film is one you’ll ultimately want to end up skipping.

The movie starts with Punisher taking down a group of villains as he always does but this time he ends up taking out an FBI agent as well. The guy was undercover so Punisher figured that he was one of the villains but that was not the case. Now he feels like he should retire out of guilt but his partner Microchip convinces him not to do that. At the very least he tells the Punisher that he needs to finish the job by taking out Jigsaw first since that villain ended up surviving. Punisher agrees so he’s back on the streets to murder the villains but will he really be able to take out Jigsaw and his brother Jim?

The interesting part about the movie is that it would be over before it began if this version of the Punisher wasn’t so sadistic. Usually the Punisher goes around just shooting everyone as a quick death. He dishes out the punishment which is lethal for these villains and that’s the end of it. Only this time instead of doing that he tossed Jigsaw into a machine that crushes glass so it would slowly shred the guy to bits. Usually that would work but not in this case. The Punisher just seemed to be enjoying the show a bit too much here as he was even watching until some other villains attacked and he had to deal with them.

It’s clear that in this version the Punisher really enjoys his work to the point where he goes all in on this. You’d almost think he was a super villain as well with some of the scenes here. There’s another moment where he beats one guy up, then tosses him to the ground where he is impaled by spikes, then he breaks the guy’s neck/slashes it with a final fall. It’s all so extra and unnecessary that when the Punisher lands you could easily photoshop him with Michael Myers or someone like that and nobody would bat an eye. That would absolutely be a villain’s intro.

Now, I would always argue that the Punisher is a villain in all continuities. He murders all of his opponents and while they are villains, it’s still murder. Characters like the Punisher are always interesting as a what if since you can imagine this to be how things would go if Batman or another hero would murder their opponents. Ultimately it may result in safer streets and probably does but the cost is too high. So while it’s an interesting idea, we’ve still got to keep in perspective that if the heroes were here they would have a duty to take him down.

At least what still makes Punisher a decent character is he does have an honor code and doesn’t go after innocents or anything like that. When you see him just taking out the villains it’s fun enough but anytime you have to resort to torture or really taking it to the villains then it can be a bit too extreme. For that reason I much preferred the Punisher as portrayed in the earlier film. He seemed to have a lot more of his humanity and he was still punishing his opponents but very somberly and without getting into it.

Now if the Punisher’s scenes are that violent, you’re probably wondering what the villains do. Well, they don’t hold back either and you have people being eaten and ripped apart. The film’s absolutely as edgy as you would expect and it’s all really over the top. It’s the level of violence that would doom any film right out of the gate. You’ve got to have some restraint with scenes like this. Establish that the villains are evil and we don’t really need to see the rest. It would have made the film a whole lot better.

There’s no real reason to like Jigsaw as a villain. The guy is your classic mobster who wants a shot at greatness and will do anything for it. He betrays allies and just keeps on moving up. The guy is rather insane although you would expect most villains at his level to be insane since they probably crack on the way up. His design after getting torn up is certainly gruesome.

Then his brother Jim is even worse. That guy is completely off the walls and even talks like he’s looney. The scene of him being a cannibal is disturbing and you know that ultimately he won’t be taking the Punisher down. This guy is good against people who won’t fight back but a gun will take him down like all the rest. It’s not like any of these villains are bullet timers after all.

Paul is the main FBI agent trying to take the Punisher down. You can see why he’s so frustrated since the local cops all seem to support the Punisher and even the guy at the head of the taskforce isn’t particularly cooperative. The reason for this is fairly clear as everyone is rooting for the villains to be taken down. The city seems extremely corrupt so they’re probably tired of every villain just getting in and out of jail. This makes Paul’s job of avenging his comrade a lot tougher.

Paul’s a good character though and one of the few that you can root for all the way through. He does tend to get in the Punisher’s way but it’s very understandable from his perspective. Then you have Microchip who is a good partner to the Punisher. He knows exactly how to make that guy tick and what sets him off. You need someone like that to have your back and get the ammo ready. Punisher wouldn’t be able to function nearly as efficiently without him. The guy should probably carry more guns with him though so that he isn’t picked off.

While the movie is mainly devoid of humor, there is one scene that was pretty fun. You’ve got 3 athletic villains who are running and jumping across the roof while a really fast paced happy song is playing in the background. You can see how it’s all going very well for the villains but suddenly one of them explodes and we cut to Punisher with his cannon. That was the best scene in the movie by far. It works in showing that the Punisher is absolutely not playing around here and also in how fast the tone changes. It instantly goes from being a happy moment to a really intense one. The scene also helped to enhance the film’s overall soundtrack since the music there was really good.

Overall, Punisher: War Zone will definitely remain in the shadow of the first one. It just doesn’t really improve on much while falling below on a lot of areas. I would say the only area where this one wins is in showing the Punisher off as more of an unstoppable force. You can see why the whole city fears him and one scene shows how he has already taken down hundreds and hundreds of opponents. That was a great moment without a doubt. The film just can’t get away from its tendencies to make every scene as violent as possible. Show don’t tell is a rule that it takes too literally and that can often be what takes a film down for the count.

Overall 2/10

The Punisher Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

While the Punisher probably wasn’t a huge name back in the day, I want to say that most people know him at this point. The Netflix show certainly helped to spread his name around and in general he has been a consistent character in the Marvel universe who is always showing up in various places. Naturally you expect him to be someone who doesn’t take any prisoners and this film goes that route although he tries to make the case that it isn’t revenge. I would say that it’s a little better than I expected it would be, but ultimately I still wouldn’t call it a good movie.

The movie starts off with Frank Castle and his men busting up another villain operation. It went pretty smoothly except one of the villains wasn’t too smart with how he was waving his gun around and got taken out of the picture. His mother wanted revenge and so the villains murder Frank Castle’s whole family with him being the only survivor. He now wants to punish these guys because it’s clear that the police aren’t going to do anything about it. The gang is virtually untouchable so that’s when it is time to turn to the vigilante side.

Part of why the Punisher is always such an interesting character is because you often see people wishing that the heroes could just go all out and destroy the villains. There are tons of what ifs that explore this and really specific scenarios that practically force heroes to murder people sometimes so you can see there is always a general interest. Well, the Punisher is the perfect character to use for that and so of course he ends up being a bit of a villain by the end usually since he goes around murdering everyone without due process. He is fully outside of the law and he knows it, but at least since he only goes after villains it still makes it easy to root for the guy.

I thought the whole scene of his family getting murdered was handled rather tastefully here. It wasn’t as gritty as it could have been and at least you don’t actually see them getting run over. So you get the general gist of what’s going on here without any unnecessary details and grit. It all had a good amount of restraint. That’s not to say that the whole movie follows that though. For the most part it tends to avoid being too edgy but then it just can’t help itself at other times.

The whole torture scene where they try to break one of Frank’s neighbors was a bit too much. The guy doesn’t talk and stays strong the whole time but the scene goes on too long and torture scenes never end up being all that good for a movie. Big kudos to that guy for staying strong and all but that’s a big scene that I would have removed. I’m glad that at least the Punisher wasn’t going around torturing people. There was an early scene that got me nervous but fortunately it ended up being a big cop-out in the end. Now that was a scene I could get behind.

In general Frank’s a really solid main character. He certainly isn’t going to allow any of the villains to get away with anything and sticks up for the innocent. That’s his whole thing after all so in a lot of ways he’s like a lethal Batman. This is his origin story so it’s not like he’s patrolling the city or anything but he does take down quite a few villains along the way. By the end of the movie I’d say that his kill count is rather high. Most of them are in self defense though.

It was nice to see that his father was also a very decent fighter and the guy even shot a few of the villains. Ultimately he was doomed but at least he wasn’t alone. Frank also meets 3 neighbors who do their best to help out. You have Joan who sort of ties the group together. I thought she could be more subtle in trying to have a romance with Frank though considering that she knows what just happened to him. It would have been really odd if he had just rebounded from losing his wife like that. Bumpo gets the comic relief role for the most part and he’s really just in awe to have a neighbor like the Punisher.

Spacker would also be a comic relief character except I have to bump him up for standing up to the guy who was attacking Joan and then staying strong while he was tortured. He gets fairly big points for that without a doubt. Then we have Otto who ends up helping Frank out since he doesn’t want to die. He’s a traitor to every side and only serves his own interests. The guy is another comedy type character who is lucky that things don’t go very badly for him. The guy is often in sticky situations and I don’t think he even realizes it sometimes.

Saint is the main villain here and he’s your classic gangster type. Part of why he didn’t leave much of an impression on me is because he gets manipulated throughout the entire film. He may play the role of being the big villain but when you’re getting suckered the whole time it isn’t a good look. Murdering Frank’s family wasn’t even his idea, that was all his wife’s doing. So the biggest event in the film wasn’t because of him and then he makes Frank’s job easier by turning on his own people.

Sure, to an extent he still had an intimidating aura but ultimately he wasn’t the guy who could close the deal. His subordinates weren’t even better. One villain is super sketchy to the point where it’s easy for the heroes to blackmail him. Seriously that guy barely took any time to compromise and the wife had the same schedule every week for years so that made it easy for Frank too. This villain group just wasn’t up to snuff and was doomed from the start.

The cops in this film seemed a bit on the corrupt side with how they wouldn’t actually help Frank against the gang. It definitely had to be disappointing for him since you would expect to have some kind of back-up for a mission like this. Instead it just wasn’t to be. I could see a sequel going into that more if this film had ever gotten one. As an origin story you want to set up a lot of plot threads but not to go into them too much and this film did a good job with it. I also like how Punisher just goes home every day after his missions. I do think it’s reasonable that you could do that safely since a lot of people wouldn’t recognize him yet and the ones that do would know better than to mess with him. So it’s a win/win situation on that end.

Overall, It’s interesting to call this film grim since it’s also very comedic at the same time. There’s one particularly long fight that is rather intense but thanks to the music and everything it’s also partially played for laughs. Even then I don’t see how the Punisher was able to get up after getting his head slammed by the fridge multiple times though. That was a bit of a stretch. So the film usually has a dark vibe to it like with the Punisher always drinking and the villains showing their influence but then you also get these random happy moments. I don’t think the idea is bad itself but it didn’t work out very well here. Really if you cut the torture scene that would help a lot but ultimately this isn’t a film where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’re better off giving it a pass and watching Spider-Man instead.

Overall 4/10

Faster Review

This review is of the TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

It’s time for an old school revenge thriller. This one plays it by the books but it’s executed rather well and makes for a good title. The cast is fairly small so you really get to focus on each of the characters and it has a satisfying ending. So in the end you’ll be left in a good spot here and it definitely could have had a fun sequel but I guess it’ll stay as a one shot.

The film starts with Jimmy getting out of jail. He’s been doing a lot of time so he’s eager to be out of there and to set things right. He worked with a group of villains who ended up betraying him and murdering his brother. Jimmy nearly died as well since he took a bullet to the head but he barely survived. Now he wants revenge and through an informant he was able to get a list of the names on who was in the gang. He intends to pick them off one by one. Meanwhile someone has hired an assassin known as Killer to take Jimmy down. That guy likes to be known as the best of the best and so it’s a matter or pride now.

Finally you have the cops on Jimmy’s trail as well. Cicero is the main officer in charge but she is forced to work with Humphries who used to be a great cop in his day but he’s considered to be washed up at this point. Will he only serve to slow her down or will he step up when it counts? Either way the time is ticking because Jimmy will vanish to the winds as soon as he has achieved his vengeance against the gang.

So what I did like about the film straight off the bat is that it goes right down to business. It feels like less than 20 minutes have passed before Jimmy got a gun, threatened someone, and found his first target. The guy moves very fast and doesn’t take any breaks. He’s a very convincing man on a mission and you can feel his determination in each scene. It’ also clear that he is quite skilled not just with a gun but in close combat as well. A nice touch here is that everyone in the know regards Jimmy as a legend because he should be dead (Getting shot in the head will usually do that) and he never loses a fight.

So even bouncers are scared of him and the only one who dares to get in his way is Killer. I liked their battles. Jimmy is clearly more skilled from the two but they are experts in their craft. We get a whole scene with Killer explaining that he is the best in every field to show just how skilled that guy is. Killer’s got a bit of a romance subplot where he is thinking about settling down as well. Not a main plot or anything but I suppose it gives him more development there. I liked that the film didn’t play him off as totally insane at least. Initially I thought he was going to bump her off when his therapist started mentioning that she may be distracting him. Fortunately he took it the right way for a change.

Then Jimmy already has a lot of personality and a backstory so you understand his actions from the start. The scene of the gang taking out his brother was definitely really intense. Not the kind of situation you want to be in and so there’s nothing that can shake his conviction when going through the villains. The only obstacle for him is that one of these guys has turned over a new leaf. Jerrof is now a pastor and he even starts preaching about not living for revenge in the hopes that Jimmy will hear this and not take him out.

It’s one of the pivotal moments in the film because if Jimmy finishes him off then it’ll mean he did ultimately see his revenge all the way through. On the other hand, if he spares him then he will have saved the guy’s family from a lot of heartache. It’s a plot that the film gives a good amount of time here so the characters can say their peace. It’s one of the moments where Faster definitely separates itself in a good way. I thought that when it came to be crunch time, the characters always made the right move.

Jimmy and the Killer could have both gone down different roads but didn’t. Jerrod’s journey to redemption was also a very good one and it was a nice way to tie together all of the sermons we heard Jimmy listening to the whole time. The way it was wrapped up to actually be a serious plot point with Jerrod trying to get his message across was handled really well. As for the main police officer Cicero, I felt like she made the wrong calls here.

She has some solid banter with Humphries and I liked their dynamic. I can also totally get why she would be upset at having to work with him. That’s all well and good but what hurts her is near the end of the film she finds something out and has to make the choice of letting people know or burying the information. Very rarely do I think burying information is a good idea and I would definitely say that this is not one of those times. Even if things end up working out, it’s not because of her but in spite of her. It’s hard to totally recover from making the wrong move like that.

Likewise, I didn’t care for Humphries. He created a lot of trouble for himself romantically with his addictions and even now in the present he hasn’t really changed. He does things more secretively but he’s the same guy that he always was and never moved forward. The film may have been trying to balance you rooting for the cops while rooting for Jimmy so the cops couldn’t be super likable but it didn’t work as I just didn’t end up liking them much. Cicero is still much better than Humphries but neither were all that solid.

Faster’s greatest strength is definitely its fast pacing and nonstop action. In the present something is always going on so you definitely stay interested from start to finish. I also thought the ending was very good which was important. On the weak side, I would say that the flashback segment could definitely be really drawn out. It’s the usual fair as the villains laugh it up until they finally blow the guy up and that’s the kind of thing you could handle in a few instances of a really sped up flashback vision. The romance scenes with Killer also could have been reduced somewhat. It’s not like he was a major presence in the film anyway. It did well to establish her as someone who was very supportive and loyal so you want to keep that and can condense it as well. Ultimately you just wanted to get back to the main plot each time.

Overall, Faster will give you your fill of action and story all the way through. It’s a very fast film with Jimmy really going through his list like clockwork. The soundtrack was solid and the film even had some decent humor like Jimmy just asking where the exit was at prison or when he scared the bouncer. It’s not going to be an all time title by any means but it has good replay value so it’s the kind of movie that you could definitely see again in the future.

Overall 6/10

Parker Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Time for one of those classic revenge thriller films. Parker doesn’t really try to break out of the ordinary but the execution is strong enough where that’s not really a concern. It’s an entertaining film that’s rather solid and at the end of the day that’s all that you need. The ending reminds me of Blade and John Wick too. This could have become a pretty fun franchise but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

The movie starts with Parker completing another mission with a group of thieves. They’re rookies that made a lot of mistakes but at least they’re alive. That’s when one of them decides to change the terms of the deal and tells Parker he can either help them out on another caper and put all of his money in the pot or get shot. Parker decides to get shot so he’s wrecked and left for dead. Fortunately a passing family was able to nurse him back to health. Parker wants revenge now and he will do whatever it takes to track these guys down.

Meanwhile in the B plot you have Leslie who is really trying to sell houses and make a name for herself but it’s been tough. She’s been upstages by her coworkers for a while now and her current life just feels rather empty. Well, one day she notices Parker and what a shady fellow he is and figures this is her big chance to get rich. If she plays her cards right then a whole new life will open up for her but if she makes any mistakes this could be curtains. The two plots certainly feel very different and it’s a little while until she actually appears but of course the plots do line up.

Right off the bat I can tell you that the inevitable romance is not very good. One thing to consider here is that Parker already has a steady girlfriend in Claire. So as soon as Leslie appears you already know that Parker is taken so any romance that starts up will really make him look bad. Unfortunately he doesn’t stay totally strong and reject her so we do have a brief romance stint here which is completely unneeded. It’s really the definition of having this here to meet the romance quota when it would have been perfectly reasonable to have just had them stay as friends. Would have made a whole lot more sense too.

With the main plot being about chasing the mobsters, you do want to have more going on since this is rather basic. None of them stand a chance against Parker and they know it so all they can do is put enough annoyances in his way to try and slow the guy down. Every time Parker closes in on the mobster there’s a whole other level to this. The actual leader is hard to find even with Parker’s connections. They definitely move around a lot but the fights are good when they happen. Parker definitely knows how to fight when it’s time to rumble.

His only disappointing scene is at the very beginning when he gets into the car and seems to not have any real plan before getting shot. He really should have died there and is supremely lucky that things didn’t work out. It would have been a rather underwhelming way to go out and you feel like he should have been able to handle things a little better with how experienced he likely is by this point.

As for Claire, she has much more reason to make mistakes because this just isn’t her field. Just a day ago she was a normal real estate agent and now she’s in the field with all kinds of dangerous threats. You can absolutely excuse her not always knowing the right thing to do but I can’t afford the same to Parker. Leslie is ultimately a fun heroine. Her mother and dog also make for fairly decent supporting characters.

Claire doesn’t appear a whole lot but she gets some points for not nagging Parker the whole time and she is quick to come over and patch him up when the guy gets injured. She makes it clear that she is in his corner the whole time. Then you have Hurley who is definitely a solid character. As the experienced veteran in the room he is able to follow what Parker is saying the whole time and has a lot of connections of his own. He may not be young enough to get into the field nowadays but he does contribute a whole lot.

None of the villains are all that memorable though. Picture any random mobster and you’ve got these guys. From the start it was a bad idea to double cross Parker and move on to this mission. If they had just waited a while and suggested it peacefully then maybe he would have been on board. Either way why do a double cross there and add a huge risk to the operation. For all they knew the car could have crashed or Parker could have shot a few of them and that would wreck their entire plan.

I enjoyed the heist from the beginning of the film though. The villains may have messed it up but it’s cool to see all of what was going on. The costumes were good and Parker did have a solid disguise on which definitely made the scene a little funny even during the hold up. His Texas accent was also pretty good and that made for a lot of fun scenes. The film knew how to handle its humor for sure and those would be some of the best scenes.

The action moments still get tense of course and so this balances out into a good film. It’s not quite solid enough around the board for me to take it to the next level but it definitely never gets boring. It’s got a good amount of replay value and the writing is good enough. The fights are good and we really get to learn a good amount about the cast. So if they wanted to make a franchise out of this it would have been a good idea.

Overall, Parker is a good action movie. It’s very by the numbers for the most part but I wouldn’t say any part of the movie is phoned in. It’s still got a good amount of effort behind it at all times. It’s going in a lot of different directions are far as the tone is concerned and that could work well in a sequel too. Or if they want to go with one tone and stick to it that would work too since they were all solid. The film’s probably forgotten by most by now but give it a shot if you come across it.

Overall 6/10

Extremities Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts should be addressed as such as this review would be even more negative otherwise.

There are some films were you know they will be trash almost immediately and this is one of those. With nothing redeeming to be found in this film you know that you’re in for a rough time right from the jump. That said, the film is pretty straight forward about this so if you’ve even seen the plot summary then you know that this should be an instant skip. Extremities does its best to be as extreme as possible and succeeds, much to the detriment of the film as a whole.

The main character here is a lady named Marjorie who is assaulted one night by a mysterious figure. She tries to ask the cops for help but unfortunately there isn’t anything they can do to assist and the villain has her address. She heads home when the guy strikes again. Ultimately she is able to subdue him but her two roommates think he should be given leniency while she just wants to murder the guy or at least get a confession out of him. Will she be able to destroy him or will the roommates get in the way?

The movie certainly makes the roommates annoying as they try to fall into every horror trope imaginable. Believing the main villain, letting their guard down, etc. For a while there you think things are really going to backfire on them but fortunately the film at least doesn’t go with the whole he escapes into a whole new climax filled with lots of fighting. That would have been rather pointless and would have only served to drag the whole film out even more.

The movie moves at an incredibly slow pace. The first 30 minutes feels like it’s 3 hours. The scenes just never end and I can’t imagine seeing this kind of movie in theaters. Then the whole second half doesn’t need to exist as Marjorie should have finished the guy off already. Just end him immediately and you don’t have to worry about the debates and aftermath that follows. Because that didn’t happen you have to go through scene after scene of the characters debating.

Everything is really detailed in this film including the actual assault and rape which puts this film at a 0 right out of the jump. This is never a plot device that should exist in a film, much less be the main plot point. Just including that doomed the movie and there was no way the film could salvage itself after that. It just makes for a painful watch. The home invader plot is already a tough storyline to tackle because it will almost always devolve into a long hostage situation and this just takes the whole thing one step further.

With this kind of plot there is no way to make a movie good. It’s absolutely impossible and thus shouldn’t even be tried. The villain’s awful and as far as I’m concerned the roommates are awful for taking this guy at face value at all. C’mon now, this guy’s rather obvious the whole time. This is one of those films that is transparently putting the main heroine in as bad a position as possible so that when she starts getting her revenge and torturing the villain you can cheer along.

The issue is that this cycle of violence will always make for a poor viewing experience. For starters, it means that the villain is going to do something truly awful at the start to make the revenge feel that much better. This is a really bad decision. Then you will have the hero doing something really awful like full on torture as well to even the scales. So in effect it’s an excuse by the film to have two super violent moments and to just keep going in circles like that. It goes without saying that this film is very violent and dark as well so keep that in mind if you actually end up wanting to check it out. Trust me, you don’t want to watch this one though, you could do better with numerous other films. It’s no exaggeration to say that 90 minutes of watching paint dry with some fireplace sound effects in the background would be better as it would at least put you to sleep.

Overall, Extremities is an absolutely awful film that is horrible from start to finish. It’s the kind of film that’s so bad that you just want to forget about it rather than even discussing the film for very long. If you ever see this on TV or in a store you’ll want to keep on walking right past it. If you hear about a remake being in production and a trailer pops up on Youtube feel free to leave a dislike if the feature has been brought back onto Youtube. You’ll have a better time buying a bag of potato chips and mixing it into your mac n cheese or dusting off the old Sega Genesis and playing some old games there. Either way that would be a more ideal way to spend your evening.

Overall 0/10

Eye of the Tiger Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Eye of the Tiger is definitely one of those films that gives revenge titles a bad name. I mean, it’s probably not a genre you want to see a whole lot of anyway as it’s difficult to succeed in so many attempts would fail but this one just never stood a chance. It puts the main character in a rough environment where everyone is evil or mean and so by the time Buck gets his revenge, there isn’t a lot left to fight for. That’s usually the downfall with revenge films, at least this one has a good soundtrack though even if the timing is often pretty bad.

The movie starts with Buck finally getting out of jail. He made some friends in there but it’s time to head home. Unfortunately his small town is even worse off than usual. The place is run by a corrupt sheriff who is in league with gangs that go around assaulting everyone and forcing people to live in a life of fear. Nobody has ever risen up to do anything about this and they all just look the other way. Well, Buck isn’t going to do that and he foils one of the gang’s attacks. They retaliate and murder Buck’s wife while also putting his daughter in the hospital. Buck aims to take them all down now but to do so he will need a lot of weapons. Additionally he will also have to go up against the cops who are in the pocket of the gang.

In this movie it’s nearly everyone teaming up against Buck. The only person on Buck’s side is his old friend J.B. and even then that guy usually just warns Buck not to fight against the villains since he thinks the lead will lose. Buck doesn’t like backing down though so he plans to fight either way. He has some good equipment and plans like when he stretches a wire across the street to take one villain down. The problem is that he has to beat a lot of them and quickly or they just run to the police to have Buck arrested. As the film goes on Buck starts carrying his gun at all times which is a good idea. At least with that he always has a fighting chance.

Buck definitely should have left with the family as soon as he got back though. I don’t think your life can ever be all that easy if the cops have it out for you. We know that the Sheriff is willing to go quite far to mess with Buck right from the start given that he was put into jail on account of that guy. So just leave the place and start roots somewhere else. That’s absolutely the best thing to do and the only way to get out of this cycle. By the time Buck decides to go it’s unfortunately too late. So the rest of the film will be bitter sweet at best since his wife isn’t around anymore.

I’ll still give Buck props as a main character because he stands up to the gang and does what’s right. It would have been easy to have just walked away or ignored what they were doing but he didn’t do any of that. So definitely some credit there. He also does well in the fights even through to the end when he takes on the leader of the gang. Buck doesn’t go down easy and never loses a true 1 on 1 fight in the movie. The guy just keeps going forward and landing hits until he can’t anymore.

As mentioned, Buck’s friend J.B. takes a long while to actually step in and help though. It’s understandable why he doesn’t want to get mixed up in any of this but it does mean that I’m probably not going to be rooting for him a whole lot. If Buck had some help sooner the film could have potentially been over a lot quicker. The rest of the police officers all look terrible as they work for the corrupt sheriff. The whole town is complicit to an extent as they all look the other way and allow him to stay in control. It’s no wonder that the village is under such tough times. There’s nobody there who is willing to fight back against the villains.

One area that holds the film back big time is how gritty the whole thing is. It’s got Mad Max vibes from the start with the gang going around and attacking people. If they were just murdering people then that’d be one thing but of course they’re all going after the women and piling on the crimes. It’s always a bad way to build up tension in these films, having the villains just be murderers is good enough to show why they need to be stopped. No reason to go any further than that. The extra details are what puts the film in the red right away and it’s hard to get out from there.

Then as I mentioned the music timing is always very off. It is nice to hear the Eye of the Tiger song since that one’s always filled with energy. This film has some good heroic themes as well. The issue is that they will play right after a tragic scene or during one. It’s like the film’s trying to say this is a happy moment even while the heroes are still taking hits. The timing was never quite right and it’s hard to get into the music and experience the hype/fun that’s going on because you know that the moment just isn’t happy yet. The only time the song works is the very last time it plays because that’s after the big battle and so it makes sense to celebrate. The other attempts fell flat.

Overall, Eye of the Tiger is a film I would avoid. It’s a classic revenge film through and through where Buck is put through the wringer so you can get some satisfaction when he inevitably caches the villains. The reason why this genre is tough is because it’s easy to make things go too far in how much the villains are winning so it’s just hollow even when the lead gets his revenge. I don’t think the wife needed to die here and additionally the gang could have just been about getting rich and murdering people. It would be a lot less dark and would help the film as a whole. In the end, you should definitely watch Taken instead if you want a better revenge film.

Overall 2/10

Miden Tower Review


Miden is the latest Kemco game and goes back to the roots of their original rpgs. It has all of the solid gameplay customizations at the ready like skipping battles you don’t need and things like that. I’ll go into it more later but mix that in with one of the best plots I’ve seen in a while and you definitely have a winner here. This is one of those games that would be nice to see a sequel for.

The story starts with a village being burned to the ground as most of these RPGs seem to start off with. The government in this game appears to be on the evil side as they slaughter everyone and so the last remnants of humanity quickly build a tower and hide in there. Using teleportation technology and magic to prevent people from warping in, the people have lived in peace for a while now. Well, one day the villains start appearing in the tower. Peace is no longer a guarantee and so the heroes must find the villains and the source of their entrance to put a stop to this.

We then cut to our main character who is quite unique. Valen had to personally watch his friends and family get destroyed, he has sworn revenge on the army. Every day he heads out to destroy a bunch of them and head home. His entire motivation and reason for existing is revenge which is definitely not healthy. One day he bites off more than he can chew and comes near death only to be saved when he summons a sentient wall to save him. Her name is Leila and she is different from most magic creatures in this land. See, most of them have to listen to the summoner at all times and don’t have creative thoughts or the ability to resist. None of that applies to Leila though. She has control of her own and makes her own choices. Still, she does want to protect Valen even if she does not agree with his whole quest for revenge. She aims to get him to mellow out by the end of all this.

The graphics are classic Kemco from start to finish. You have a lot of bright character designs and different level designs. They all appear very familiar so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are starting to reuse assets from previous games. I can’t really blame them if that is the case though since it’s efficient and ultimately it doesn’t affect the story. As long as the story is good that’s the important thing and the graphics are solid either way.

As for the soundtrack it’s nothing all that special but the tunes are always fun. These games always have a very specific style to them where you can recognize the music immediately. That’s the case with this game as well so you feel rather pumped to be starting on the adventure. The soundtrack isn’t large but we do get a new theme for the final boss which was nice. All in all the game succeeds massively on the technical side as expected.

As for the gameplay, there isn’t a lot to explain here. It’s your classic turn based RPG. You attack with physical blows, magic, or special skills. You keep on fighting until you take the opponents down. On the hub world you run around until you get to the very end. You also have a pot where you can throw ingredients in to get other items from time to time. There are several trophies for making a lot of items so I recommend always having a bunch cooking at the same time since it helps a lot for later on. Ultimately you’re doing this more for the trophies than for its effects.

Now I mentioned the gameplay customization before. So here’s how it goes, first off you can turn off battle effects. When you have to level grind, it can feel a bit long to see the attacks over and over again in each battle. When you turn the effects off, you just see a flash for every attack but they keep on attacking. That saves a lot of time right off the bat. Then you can also increase the speed of combat from X1 all the way to X3. That makes a difference too. Following up on that, you can turn off battles against enemies that are weaker than you. You know how in most RPGs you have to keep getting encounters with level 1 monsters and beating them is only a formality since the victor is never in doubt? You don’t have to worry about those here.

These are gameplay improvements I’d like to see more games pull off but Kemco seems like the only ones who have done this to date. It’s why I consider them as masters of the RPG genre. There are also orbs in each area that you can activate after beating it to stop encounters all together. Need to back track for treasure chests? Well at least you won’t have monsters jumping out at you all the time. Considering that one trophy is for walking 50,000 steps, I thought this was a very considerate option of the game since it at least makes this feat rather painless. Otherwise that would just take forever. Even now that is one of the only trophies left that I haven’t obtained for that reason.

Then what really helped the game get to the next level for me was the solid story. Lately some of the Kemco games have had more down to Earth stories with slightly smaller stakes. Well, this one goes back to being a grand story. The character development for Valen is good as he goes from only wanting revenge to being more of a reasonable guy. It’s an effective character arc. Now some scenes can be a bit cheesy with him but at the end of the day he does his best. The origin is also quite sad so you can see how he became so revenge driven.

Leila is also a good character and I thought she handled the situation well. She didn’t suddenly jump in and tell Valen to start saving everyone but gradually got him to escape from the cycle of violence. It’s very Naruto style with how the characters point out that murdering people will just continue the cycle. Ultimately this allows Valen to be the bigger man here and look the other way when it comes time to make a choice.

As for length, the game is a bit on the shorter side. I would definitely say it is one of Kemco’s shorter titles as you should blast right through it. There isn’t much of a post game as you should have that beaten in about an hour or so. Granted, it went by so fast in part because I grinded my character levels to over 500 so I was able to beat most opponents in an instant. The secret ending is good though and way more satisfying than the normal one. That wouldn’t have been a great way to end the adventure. The platinum trophy is quite easy to get so I recommend trying to give it a go.

Overall, Miden Tower is definitely a very solid game. I think it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a game on the Asdivine Hearts series. That is still my all time favorite from Kemco but this would certainly be in second. It’s just got a great story and of course a lot of amazing video game mechanics. Kemco certainly brought out the A team here and I look forward to seeing which adventure they churn out next. If you don’t have this game yet, I’d recommend purchasing it asap!

Overall 8/10

Redemption Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Redemption is one of those films that could have worked really well as a stylistic action blockbuster where things are happening around every corner. Instead the film goes for grit and more often than not this ends up hurting the film. By the end everyone’s in rather poor shape and the film does not go for a happy ending. You just know that they’re all doomed.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe. He’s currently homeless and just trying to survive in the back alleys. Unfortunately there are a group of thugs who go around beating up the homeless every night. Joe ends up escaping but not before getting roughed up quite a bit. He ends up falling into an empty apartment and takes refuge there. The owner won’t be back for a while so this may be his chance to finally start over. Joe stops taking drugs and even gets a job in a restaurant washing dishes. Things are looking up but then he starts getting into some dangerous territory when he accepts a job as an enforcer. On one hand the pay is excellent, but on the other hand he’s basically become a thug now. Can he find true romance like this?

A big part of the film is that he likes a lady named Cristina who works as a nun and as a result can’t actually date him. Joe doesn’t seem to care about that and pressures her into an affair all the time. She half heartedly tries rejecting him a few times but the issue is that she does enjoy the presents. At one point he gives her a ton of cash which she uses to buy some opera tickets. As the film goes on she definitely starts to lower her defenses but Joe tends to make things harder on himself by getting mixed into more dangerous situations so he isn’t always ready at the right time.

The romance is just pretty bad here. If Christina is interested then she should have just retired right away. The life of a nun isn’t for everyone and if that is the case for her then there’s no shame in walking away from that. It would have definitely been a much better option than trying to have it both ways. That’s what gets her into trouble quite a bit. She is a nice person who does a lot for the community so I won’t knock Christina entirely, but this plot just really dragged on throughout.

Never one to miss up a chance for adding some dark elements to the story, we also find out that Christina has a very dark backstory. It’s got to point being in the film except to add some shock value. Likewise we eventually learn about how Joe got into his present situation and lets just say it was not a pleasant experience. The film goes into it but effectively he was a soldier who ended up going on a bit of a revenge mission that rewarded him with a lot of guilt for the rest of his life. While it does explain how he became so broken in the film, it doesn’t make the rest of it any more enjoyable.

We’ve got a lead character here who is an excellent fighter, is intelligent, and resourceful. When Joe puts his mind to it he is able to quickly get a job and turn his life around. He gets off the drugs and even gets in shape again. It was a really solid turnaround but then the ending just throws that on its head for no real reason. There’s no good explanation for why he would just throw his life back out of whack like that. He can try to atone for his previous crimes or ignore it and push on. Intentionally putting himself back in a position where he’s going to be getting beat up and hunted again just isn’t a good way to end things.

There is a mild subplot where people are hunting him down with some security drones. By the end of the film we know who these guys are and this had potential but the film really doesn’t go into it very much. This ends up being more of an after thought that occurs so randomly you may forget it is even happening at some points. If this plot was played up more as Joe is on the run from this group then that would be interesting. I could have definitely gotten behind that.

Instead the film is mainly about showing us just how corrupt the place is. Joe never ends up being a likable character because he does a really bad job of coping with what’s going on. For example, becoming a shady enforcer was a bad move right from the jump. The instant he took that position he lost a lot of credit with me. There were so many other things he could have done instead. Had Joe kept on focusing on feeding the homeless and bettering himself then I think the movie would have been better off for it.

Maybe throw in some more fight scenes to show that he still has skills. We get a few fights but not really the stylized ones you would expect. They’re street fights through and through but at least they give us a break from how depressing the rest of the film can be. Even the main villain of the film naturally can’t be some random evil gangster but instead he’s really depraved. The film gives a whole lot of detail on how he takes down his victims and it’s just more grit.

Overall, Redemption is a film you will definitely want to avoid. If the film is supposed to be about Joe trying to redeem himself then it definitely failed at that approach. Joe starts off on a decent path for that and then just falls off the cliff. There are a whole lot of ways he could have helped people out with his skillset. A film about him taking the city back over from the gangs or something like that could have potentially been inspiring. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic film or a romance thriller, you’ll want to stay far away from this one.

Overall 2/10

Fast & Furious Review


It’s time to continue to the Fast and the Furious series. This time we’re going away from Tokyo and back to the main plot with Dom. You’ll get your share of explosive race scenes here and a pretty good story. The film still holds itself back a bit with its reliance on fanservice but you will get some hype rock songs to keep you in the mix. I don’t think it quite tops Tokyo Drift’s soundtrack but that one still has one of the more iconic film end songs.

The movie starts out with Dom and the gang stealing some more gold as they take down a truck. He feels like it’s all getting a little too dangerous though and decides to put some distance between himself and the rest of the family. Things are quiet for a while but then his friend Letty is murdered by a gang lord. Everyone warns Dom that he shouldn’t pursue this since the guy is an incredibly infamous villain but that’s not going to stop him. You don’t mess with family after all.

Then you have the other main character Brian who has been put back on the task force. He has not had the best track record as of late so this might be his last shot. He barely captures someone after an extended chase scene but he gets some clues. At the same time as Dom, Brian finds out about a big race that is about to happen. The winner gets to transport some of the goods which means that it is the perfect time to find the gang lord. Only one person can win the race though so this is going to get close.

The movie does a good job of contrasting each of the characters’ theme music. In Tokyo Drift the main character had an electronic theme that fit in with the neon atmosphere of Tokyo. Here Dom always gets a fast paced Spanish song and Brian gets an intense rock tune. They’ve all got different ways of handling their business after all even if there are a good amount of similarities. The soundtrack is definitely on point and reaches the intense levels you would expect here.

Fast & Furious doesn’t hold back with the special effects either. It looks good throughout with a lot of fun cars involved. The action scenes are good and the pacing is on point so the film doesn’t drag out. If anything you just wish it could be longer at times since it’s all over in the blink of an eye. The first race doesn’t even happen til almost halfway into the film. It’s cool for setting up the action that is about to happen but it also means that you can’t expect too many different races. The climax has a lot of action though. There’s a lot you can do with cars and that’s really the appeal of these films. Whenever Dom uses the nitro I’m reminded of the various racing games for Gamecube.

On the flip side, as always the movie does tend to dwell on its own fanservice issues a little too much. The characters inevitably go to night clubs and such where everyone is acting really sketchy. One of the villains certainly has a pretty cringe worthy setup going for him before Brian brings in the cops. I could do without those scenes so we could focus more on the action. None of the romances are particularly impressive here either and could really be cut out without any issues.

As for the main characters, I still prefer Dom to Brian. Dom really gets the job done and feels like an experienced veteran when it comes to racing. While Brian did appear to have the edge in the race, Dom always makes up for this with his own creativity on the track. As he is in revenge mode a lot here, you can expect a lot of intense scenes with him breaking into places and taking people down. He’s certainly a strong fighter.

Brian is still a good character too though. He is pretty torn at the moment with his friends and also with upholding the law. His agency looks a lot less reasonable here though as they jump in before he gives the signal and one guy in particular was trying to give him a hard time. Brian didn’t let that slide though and I liked how he landed a pretty good combo right away. He’s no pushover.

Then you have some of the supporting characters like Mia who is still pretty upset at Brian for his choices when they first met. The guy did lead off with a lot of lies and deception so you can see why there would be some sore feelings there. She seems like a good character and will hopefully get to do more soon. Letty doesn’t get to appear for very long before things get dicey for her but she was not someone who would back down from a tough mission. She did her best to the end.

None of the villains are particularly memorable though. You have the guy who took out Letty and he acts as evil and petty as possible. There’s just nothing really making him stand out from any other gangster. You know that he is doomed the moment he messed with Dom’s family. There’s Gisele who seems rather high up in the villain ranks but she doesn’t really get to race here. Hopefully that’ll change soon.

Overall, Fast & Furious is a fun way to bring the cast back. I’d like the films to really start focusing more on the races and less on the nightclub kind of scenes. Once it does that I think we’ll be off to the races so to speak. I do think it beats the first two films in the series though. Does it beat Tokyo Drift? That’s a pretty close one but ultimately I would give it the narrow edge. Due in part to the end stinger but I also liked how much influence it took from the Need for Speed series. Dom is definitely a better main character than the last guy though. We’ll see how the series continues from here because I’m really looking forward to seeing when the series goes really off the rails with the stunts and everything.

Overall 4/10

Underworld: Awakening Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This may be the last Underworld review for a little while but it’s been an intense marathon to be sure. Awakening takes the series in a pretty solid direction as I would say it is the best title in the series so far. Now I suppose this is fairly relative as you’ll notice that there really isn’t much of a change in score.

The movie starts with the government finally deciding to step in. Now this is a plot I had definitely been looking forward to because you know that these guys are going to tip the scales. They don’t disappoint either. We learn that they have immediately wiped out virtually all of the Werewolves and even the Vampires are in hiding with only a small handful of bases left. The humans have won once more as always. They even managed to take down Selene and Michael with incredible ease.

12 years have passed and Selene is freed from her deep slumber. She doesn’t know who has freed her and why but now she wants to find Michael before it’s too late. She goes around slaughtering all the humans in her way but is no closer to finding him. She then meets up with a little girl who seems to have mysterious powers and a vampire named David. Together they will locate Michael but they also have to keep Eve (the little girl) safe as she is being hunted.

There’s a lot of action throughout in this film. After all, Selene is now powered by the elders so her power has grown exponentially. She is effectively on par with the hybrids now which is a pretty good power bump. Then you have the fact that she was already one of the most experienced Death Dealers and the villains need to watch out. The war between the vampires and werewolves is over. At this point everyone is scrambling for survival.

I had a feeling that this would be the best film early on. When Selene broke out of the test tube it was like something out of Resident Evil when Alice remembered everything and started a massacre. That’s pretty much how this plays out and it feels like Selene has the highest body count yet. She is not taking any prisoners at all and it’s nice to finally see her using these abilities well. It’s Selene’s best appearance by a longshot.

Fans of Michael from the first two films likely won’t enjoy that he is written out so quickly though. The guy gets less than a minute of screen time here and doesn’t look great. There’s a scene near the end where you have to question what he’s doing. He really didn’t think this one through. Now there is some extra context in the next film that you may feel retcons things to an extent or if not, it’s at the very least a little implausible how this would have went down.

The new main guy is David and he’s pretty solid. He may not be quite as powerful as Michael but he’s determined and does well at defying his vampire community to help Selene out. Then you have Eve who is pretty powerful. She isn’t quite old enough yet to really be able to know what she’s doing like the others but she does take down her share of enemies. Her berserker stage can definitely hold its own with the other characters.

As you can probably guess the fights are on point here. Any time Selene is beating up on the fighters with her twin gun style or just using some hand to hand it’s pretty impressive. I had a bit of a hard time believing that the super wolf at the end could give her so much trouble though. I guess we needed some tension or it would be too easy though. It did make for a great final fight.

At its core this is why the film exceeded the others. It had the best action easily and I would also say the story was the best even if it’s a lot lighter than the others. In terms of scope and mystery then the first film wins but this one was really a good revenge story about her search for Michael. As I mentioned, the army’s involvement was also pretty solid and I like how easily they were able to end this war. It had been raging for hundreds of years among the the two species but the government ended it in 12.

That’s really impressive. It would have been nice to see a bit more of them since they effectively vanish but I think we’re supposed to know that they still have the edge at this point. The vampires need to lie low for a while and the Lycan have been all but exterminated in the meantime. If anything this would have worked rather well as the final Underworld film even with the loose ends that stuck around.

Of course it wouldn’t be Underworld without incredible amounts of gratuitous violence at all times. The series likes to give the fighters as many gruesome injuries as possible before ultimately blowing them up. Because both species have regenerative abilities it allows the films to really go all out in having them get thrown around. If you would just tone down the violence, blood sucking, and biting then this series could have really ended up being close to top notch.

You could probably stand to fix some of the power levels a bit too. After a while Hybrids don’t seem to special if they can be taken out with one hit and how is Selene being overwhelmed by a giant wolf like that? She should still be able to win with pure skill the whole time. The way she defeated the final opponent was quite clever though so it was nice to add some strategy to the mix.

Overall, Underworld: Awakening feels like it has gone back to the roots of the series. We get a lot of excellent visuals and the city is back in the forefront. We get to see the world’s reaction to the beasts which is cool although it would have been even better if they were thrown in a court room or something. Selene’s investigation into what happened to Michael also makes for a great story beat. We’ll see if the series can continue this one’s momentum. While it may be kept as far away from the top as ever, at this point you’re invested in seeing how it all goes down.

Overall 2/10