I’m Paid To Catch Crooks, Not Get Them Elected – Welcome To The Punch

28 12 2016

Welcome to the Punch (Momentum Pictures - 2013)

If I were to ask you to compare the ways of life in both the UK and in the USA, you could probably come up with a big hefty list, but I could easily bet a substantial sum of money that one of the first things you would note is that in America, ordinary people are allowed to carry a Gun. It is embedded in the constitution of said country that ‘ordinary’ people are allowed to bear arms, so it comes as no surprise to the rest of us that there are a lot of shootings in America…which eventually (of course) lead to major Massacre’s more than once a year; but what do you expect from a country that has such a relaxed attitude to the distribution of deadly weaponry! In the UK we have a stricter form of gun control by only allowing certain people to have access to such weapons where as in America such a tight control of guns is factually impossible due to the large numbers of people (or more specifically gun nutters) who think easy access to guns is actually a ‘good thing’ (even though it’s probably due to this form of idealism that is causing most of the problems). I am not saying that everything is plain sailing in the UK though when it comes to gun access as they can still be attained for criminal purposes; but for this reason the UK does have its police divisions which are specially trained to use Firearms if such a time is needed (but even so this does not stop Daily Mail readers (probably) believing that our police officers should be packing – there is no pleasing some people is there).

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Released in 2013 by Momentum Pictures and directed by Eran Creevy; Welcome to the Punch is a British Action Cop Thriller about a Policeman who ends up teaming with a noted Gangster he has a score to settle with after uncovering a deadly conspiracy within the British Police Force. The film’s script is noted for being voted third on the 2010 Brit List of the best un-produced film scripts.

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One night in London around Canary Wharf, a heist is pulled off by a team of crooks led by Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) who escape on Motorcycles. In hot pursuit is Detective Inspector Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) who defies orders by chasing after them unarmed, only to be shot in the leg by Sternwood. 3 years later, Sternwood’s son Ruan (Elyes Gabel) is arrested at a London Airport after a failed heist and is in a critical condition in Hospital. Max still works for the police force, but is held in low regard by his Chief Inspector; Nathan Bartnick (Daniel Mays) due to his actions and everyday has to remove water from his shot leg. He teams up with Detective Sergeant Sarah Hawks (Andrea Riseborough) in trying to convict former army man Dean Warns (Johnny Harris), but who is let off the hook after a witness changes their statement. When news reaches Max regarding Sternwood’s son, he sees this as a chance to get revenge.

After a failed attempt to capture him, Sternwood arrives in the UK to take care of his son and asks for help from old friend Roy Edwards (Peter Mullan). With a recent spate of shootings in London, Commander Thomas Geiger (David Morrissey) is campaigning for his officers to be given better equipment in dealing with crime and sees this whole Sternwood resurgence as a way to score points in his favour. He allows Max and Sarah to take command of surveillance at an open hospital where Ruan Sternwood is being treated, hoping that Jacob Sternwood might take the bait. Things end badly however, as Max’s determination results in a gun being shoved in a civilian’s face, Ruan later dies in Hospital. Jacob Sternwood meanwhile undertakes his own investigation into what happened to his son, and lays a trap at a local Hotel where Nathan and another policeman; Harvey Crown (Jason Flemyng) take the bait, and after a small gun fight Harvey gets killed. Sarah meanwhile finds evidence regarding to a containment delivery on the river Thames. When she arrives she finds a container filled with weapons, but before she can escape she is killed by Dean Warns.

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With Commander Geiger’s blessing, Max is sent out to bring down Sternwood once and for all, and a lead on Nathan takes him to a small club, where Max runs into Sternwood, but before he can kill him, both men are ambushed by Warns and Bartnick. Bartnick is killed in the resulting fight, with Sternwood saving Max and escaping in a van. Sternwood orders Max to take him to his son in the Morgue, but while there they run into Detective Juka Ogadowa (Daniel Kaluuya) who tells Max that he is wanted for Sarah’s murder. Sternwood and Max manage to escape and go to Dean Warns’s Nan’s house where they use his Nan (Ruth Sheen) to get him to take them to the containment yard where the container full of guns are. While there, they also trap and capture Commander Geiger who informs them that he set up the means for the recent spate of gun crime in the Capital and helped to ship in the guns, so that when the correct political party took over, he could supply officers with the equipment they needed to protect themselves better. At that moment, armed men sent by Geiger’s PR Jane (Natasha Little) attack the yard, but Max and Sternwood are able to defeat them, killing both Warns and Geiger in the process. With the police on their way to the scene, Max considers shooting Sternwood, but lets him go, and is arrested on the spot as Sternwood flees the scene.

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Welcome to the Punch is a very interesting film, but one that I would not usually concern myself with watching. Yes there are a lot of independent British gangster based films that are produced year in year out but most of these don’t really grab my attention. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was a very good trailer and was sort of suckered in with the line that stated that one of the executive producers was Ridley Scott (I know); but the trailer still grabbed me enough to keep it in mind. I eventually got round to going to the cinema to see it and was absolutely blown away by it. While not necessarily the best film of 2013 (my 4th favourite overall), it was a film that while released early on, was one that remained in my mind and would not let go of.

James McAvoy

Welcome to the Punch is not really a gangster film, nor is it a knuckle dusting, all guns blazing shooter movie, what it is, is a solid British Police/Cop film. What do I mean by this? Well, it is a crime film with elements of gangster films but is not one in search of blood lust. What we have is a decent detective who has had his pride shot after an incident wanting some form of restitution. Due to his past failings though he is held in low esteem by his superiors and is sort of made a joke of and as such has fallen on hard times in his personal life. Meanwhile, the super criminal who has pulled off a heist which he can safely retire on, is forced to return to his home country when his son is in danger. This means he has returned, and the detective sees this as an opportunity to settle a score with him plus return into the good books with others. While all this is coming to a head however, the incidents surrounding this turn of events begin to unravel and a much darker conspiracy comes to the fold which means that the two great enemies will have to leave it for later as there is something they both need to settle first and need each other to pull it off. What we have here basically (or as basic as I can get it) is a big action packed detective story with a boiling vendetta ready to erupt engulfing the entire city with it, but still comes with that murder mystery formula that works so well along with the big explanation as to what has exactly been going on and the real crooks revealed, but in the end succumbs to a very tragic end for the hero. It’s like a great crime novel, something that if it wasn’t McAvoy and Strong, could well be Harry Bosch (have not read a single novel, but my researched understanding suggests that he would fit the bill).

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To back up its story, Welcome to the Punch comes with a small but still powerful cast of actors and actresses who deliver some amazing characters in the process, seemingly suggesting that without the actors, the characters would just not have worked. The film does of course have it’s one timers of interest who deliver little such as Ruan, Karen Edwards (Dannielle Brent) and Harvey Crown, to more included characters who still have a little but not a lot such as Juka and Jane, but all of these really go far to enhance the film’s story and setting (not to forget the city of London itself, especially when you listen to the wise words of Luther creator Neil Cross who sums up London’s character status better than anyone else), but the film’s small cast enables these varied roles to really stand out and warrant such a pedigree of acting. I do find Johnny Harris’s role a ,little clichéd in the form that he is a bruiser with little social life and has to engage a lot of heavy breathing, I just couldn’t see why he could not be more like Mike in Breaking Bad or even Buck in Far Cry 3, real characters with a unique personality but are still hitmen to a cause; however his insertion as a gun for hire really allows himself to develop a characteristic which suggests a real hitman, less an armed thug with little allowance to talk. The character of Nathan Bartnick is as unpleasant as the early morning traffic jam on a rainy day, but I suppose that’s the point. He does not come across as pleasant, but given that he is the first end level boss of the film, you can’t really introduce him as a nice man, more of a feeder into something bigger, and let a more major character present himself favorably in the eyes of the audience only to flip at the last-minute.

David Morrissey’s character is that of someone you could confuse of being a mayor if it was not explained that he is actually a police man. He is introduced really well and works hard to present himself as being a supportive influence on Max and who comes across well with the audience as a result. He is a strong leader with a lot of hope and a big heart, really showing that he sees the best in people. All that turns around in a trice however as he is revealed to be the big bad instigator of the film’s events, less a leader, more of a manipulator, whose long career has provided an insight into the criminal underworld, and one he knows how to manipulate to get his wish. His heart is in the right place, and is not looking for a position of power, not a megalomaniac, more a lunatic who thinks that with enough prodding he can get the best outcome. It’s a real shock turn of events that leaves you reeling, as for the great majority of the film; he is one of the good guys. Peter Mullan is an inspired casting choice as his veterancy on the British independent scene means he can slip into a variety of persona’s and can come across anyway he likes. For instance, in this he is introduced as something of an old gangster and a possible mentor to Sternwood, however he comes across as something of a respected member of the community with a lot of power under his belt, and while he is on the initial bad side, he does prove his worth and becomes a trusted ally to all those who side with him. He maybe a retired gangster, but he still comes with a real whack of a punch while still allowing a real sense of sanity to creep in on those around him.

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The way that a crime lord is presented can seem very samey at times, which is why it’s nice that in this case we have someone a lot different. Jacob Sternwood is a criminal who has earned a great deal of respect from his peers and is a real tactician in the execution of a crime, his attitude to what he does though comes across as less a scheming villain, more someone looking for the opportunity to get away and be set up for life. He is suggested of being a hard worker, someone who if he was not a criminal would more than likely be real working class hero whose hard work pays off in dividends. He is a criminal though, but in the same style as what I have suggested, he is a criminal hero of sorts and is just looking for enough to live a nice relaxed life. This is strongly suggested more when his son gets into trouble, as he cares greatly for him, even more so to re-enter harm’s way to check up on him and pursue a vendetta on his behalf. Into this we have the rookie detective sent to bring him down; someone who took it too far and is now forever paying the cost for it, and has a low self-esteem due to his past behavior. He does have a strong support network around him, but his determination to get back onto the good track of life means that he does not really see it until it is too late, and as things spiral more out of control for him, he really begins to understand that there is no real way out for him, and sadly, that’s what does happen. Though while Max does go all out to prevent total Chaos, it ends tragically for him, creating a deep uncertain future that there is no coming back from. James McAvoy and Mark Strong work well off each other, as McAvoy still presents that young but experienced character with deep forgotten hopes and repressed memories, while Mark Strong presents that real strong determination but one that makes him human; not machine nor monster; together creating two very relatable characters.

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More than anything about this film, the real highlight has to be Sarah Hawks played by the incredible Andrea Riseborough. I could not get enough of her character. She is not an assistant to Max, nor is a running partner in learning, but someone who deeply cares for him and is making it a personal mission to find a way to bring the real Max back. In many scenes she surpasses Max and you really begin to feel for her, and can see a lot of hope and future for her, thinking that she will be the big hero (or at least should have been the lead character). She presents incredible energy in a tough world, not delivering charisma or charm but more a sultry aggression, one that is fighting to be let out, but continues to maintain a level of professionalism. It strikes me though, that with a film about the police and crime, that none of them can spot the real crime in progress, that of the death of Riseborough’s character. It still annoys me to this day that Riseborough’s character was killed off as I simply wanted more of her in this film. She is more what McAvoy should have been than he plays, so why could they not have killed him in a shock twist and allowed her to take over from him. She was incredibly enjoyable and whose death is the real crime of this story.

Andrea Riseborough and James McAvoy

Welcome to the Punch does not carry a heavy burden of Special Effects, but does come with some terrifically choreographed gun fight scenes including some nicely, all be it brutally realistic scenes of the use of injection needles in James McAvoy’s leg, plus a whole heap of excellently devised shooting matches and even a pretty good bike car chase scene in a surprisingly quiet late night Canary Wharf. Any other scenes of adrenaline pumping action really come down to the human level of chases scenes on foot, plus the raw primal instincts of the cast as they deliver very realistic characters, all who appear to be on the edge of mental breakdowns in such a stressful world (come to think of it, the bike chase scene in the underground tunnels does sort of make me think of the opening scene in Blade: The Series). The film’s soundtrack meanwhile (composed by Harry Escott) is a very varied selection of tracks that that range from small low key pieces, to high-octane shouts, all dependent on the scene in hand. For the most part the film relies mostly on a sophisticated level of silence as the characters are talking and only brings in the noise as the time for talking comes to a close. Even when the music is needed, it decides to play tracks that suggest more a moment of thought rather than a moment of action; not necessarily a bad thing, just very different. Scenes that carry a piece of note include the opening heist, Max’s Flat, the attack on Sternwood’s Icelandic villa, the near kiss, the early container, post Sarah’s death, nightclub shootout, the Morgue and the Credits (not forgetting the wonderful piece of music from the film’s trailer, no idea what it is sadly).

Welcome to the Punch is a very satisfying crime thriller. It is a film that is at a good length and carries enough mystery, but not too much to heavy interlace with the scenes of action so as not to confuse itself nor the audience. It is a film with a good sophistication of action sequences, while also presenting a prolific cast of characters and delivering a deep sense of emotion. Yes, it does have its down parts (such as DS Hawks’s Death!) but it also has a lot to make up for that (except DS Hawks’s Death!) and carries on to create a brutally realistic film with a tragic un-turn-around-able ending that makes you question what the future holds and if the villains actually got away with it or not. At the same time though it does go on to question real world ideas such as gun control, the arming of British Police officers; and also delves deep into some of the deepest levels of corruption that we may never see in some of our most trusted institutions. Altogether, I think it is a rather superb film that does something very different to those around it, creating a rather unique if but small experience for all those willing to give it a shot.

GENEPOOL (Happy New Year).





Batman Begins – A Bite Size Film Review

5 02 2015

Batman Begins (Legendary Pictures - 2005)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (Batman and characters created by Bob Kane).

Cast: Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary OldmanCillian Murphy, with Ken Watanabe and Liam Neeson.

Composer: James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer

Cinematography: Wally Pfister

Studio: Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Syncopy Inc.

Best Line: “It’s Not Who I Am Underneath, But What I Do That Defines Me.”

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After suffering the loss of his parents during his youth; Bruce Wayne dons the cape and mask to become the legendary caped crusader Batman, as he attempts to save Gotham City from the criminal underworld it is built on, as well as those around him. Set in a realistic setting other than a comic book world, Batman Begins is an interesting film as it becomes more of a crime/action film than a Superhero film. The film is beautifully produced. Gotham City looks gives the impression of a dying criminal city with very few things to appreciate in it. The action scenes, particularly the end train chase and mid car chase are spectacularly done and impressive to watch.

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The films cast are a brilliant selection and easily dive into their specified roles and are very believable but also easy to connect with. The emotional devices of Wayne’s love for Rachel, as well as the emotion he feels after his parent’s death and how this changes them can be felt on a high level even if it is more an action film than a drama. The film’s soundtrack is one of its most standout features. A nice mix of emotional pieces and action pieces, particularly the train chase at the end are used to raise tension to great effect. The film’s main theme is the main attraction as it is easily recognisable but also surprisingly catchy. Altogether Batman Begins is an enjoyable film and a definite must see.

GENEPOOL





The Thai Warrior – Ong-Bak

26 12 2013

Ong-Bak (2003 - Baa-ram-ewe)

I love world Cinema. In HMV (when Lancaster had one) there is a whole section dedicated to films from countries other than the UK and USA. In more recent years a whole load of films have been produced by those other countries that have been met with great critical acclaim. Film’s like 13 Assassins, Troll Hunter, The Host, Pan’s Labyrinth and Ong-Bak. I was surprised when I first watched Ong-Bak to see that it was from Thailand. I knew it was from that area when I began to watch it, but I thought it was more of an Indian based film; however, as the film becomes more apparent of where it is, it begins to grow on you.

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Released in 2003 and Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, Ong-Bak tells the story of Ting (Tony Jaa) who has spent his life in his village, where he has been trained in Muay Thai. After succeeding in a village competition, he is chosen to become a monk in the village where the villagers praise an ancient Buddha statue named Ong-Bak. One night thieves steal the head of the statue. Ting declares that he will get the head back. He arrives in Bangkok and meets his cousin Humlae (Petchtai Wongkamlao), who along with his friend Muay Lek (Pumwaree Yodkamol) are street bike racers who make their living as simple con artists. Humlae, who is in trouble from a drug dealer, steals Ting’s money and goes to a Fight Club to bet the money on someone. Ting Arrives and tries to get his money back, but accidently steps up to a fight with the club champion, who he knocks out with one hit, making Ting the new champion, despite not wanting to fight anyone. This gets the attention of local crime lord Komtuan (Suchao Pongwilai) who needs to speak with an Electrolarynx. Don (Wannakit Sirioput), the man who stole the head, brings it to Komtuan, who is not interested.

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The following day, Humlae, Muay and Ting are chased through the streets of Bangkok, ting Rescues them both in exchange for them helping him to find Don. They return to the Fight Club where Ting, unwilling to fight, does, only to save the life of someone. He takes on three challengers and dispatches them all with relative ease, gaining respect from the crowd who toss money to him. The trio finds Don’s hideout, who has just forced Muay’s sister Ngek (Rungrawee Barijindakul) to take an overdose. While Muay stays with her sister, Ting and Humlae chase after Don in a couple of Tuk-Tuk’s. The chase ends with Ting discovering Komtuan’s underwater cache of stolen Buddha heads.

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After the heads are recovered by police, Komtuan has Muay kidnapped and orders Humlae to tell Ting that he will get the head of Ong-Bak and Muay back if he faces his Bodyguard Saming (Chattapong Pantana-Angkul) in a fight near the border. Ting loses the fight thanks to a drug fuelled Saming and Komtuan orders the deaths of the trio. Ting manages to save his own life as well as those of Muay and Humlae. Ting, along with Humlae travel to a mountain cave where Komtuan’s men are stealing another Buddha head. Ting manages to subdue Komtuan’s men before defeating Saming.  Komtuan tries to smash the head of Ong-Bak but Humlae steps in to take the blow of the sledgehammer. The Giant Buddha head, rolls off the full statue crushing Komtuan, Humlae dies of his injuries, but not before asking Muay to go with Ting and get her degree. Back at the village, Ong-Bak’s head is restored and Ting is ordained as a monk with Muay celebrating along with the whole village.

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Tony Jaa is terrific in the lead role, great representation of the characters skill as well as what he as a person is really like. When he is taunted into fighting at the club, as he truly doesn’t want to do it, he just does the right thing by ignoring them. It’s only when he feels like there is no option but to fight that he does. He is a very caring person also and while he may have a somewhat cold exterior, he does have a good heart. Humlae meanwhile is a fool, but a good one. He is constantly in debt and looks to steal and con people where he can, add the fact that he is also a coward and then you have the major set up for him. But he does eventually show his worth by learning from his mistakes towards the end and sacrifices himself for the pride of his village. I really like the Character of Muay Lek, while her friend is both a fool and a coward; she is strong in personality and believes in doing the right thing. She is also a very caring person, and while you only see little bits of who she is here and there, from the moment you are introduced to her fully, she grows on you and you get this warm feeling when she is around. Her strong personality also is a sign of the power of human will as those around her are all living in a horrible way, but she is determined to do better in life despite those who have pretty much given up.

Tony Jaa, Pumwaree Yodkamol and Mum Jokmok

Komtuan is an interesting and well thought out villain. As you don’t know his dealings until later on, you just assume he is a drug lord, but then you realize he is a relic thief and that brings out more in him, as he is a man of special, acquired taste. The Electrolarynx he uses also adds to his cruel side as it gives him a hook, something that makes his villain that extra bit interesting, but as a voice tool, it’s a lot like a real world Darth Vader.

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As a martial arts film, Ong-Bak is beautifully choreographed with many beautiful scenes of both the use of Muay Thai and athleticism. When you take the street chase early on in the film, the athleticism is not that of some Chinese films where people can be depicted as flying, these are more shown off as in reality terms. So when Ting needs to Jump over or through something, he does not take off into the air, however it seems fortunate that those obstacles are there and you begin to think that just a few occasions would be ok and a lot more realistic instead of a showcase of Tony Jaa’s talents. When it comes to the fighting though, that’s where the real skill lies and you can see a wide variety of skill throughout these scenes. But for all the well-choreographed skills the film represents, there are occasions where it just goes over the top. While as an audience member I can see what he is doing with relative ease, you don’t need to repeat certain little bits. While it may show a little more action, when the film does do those repeats, it feels unnecessary and slows the film down just that little bit.

For part of the film, Ong-Bak takes the look of some kind of Caper. While you do have comedy scenes from Humlae, there are bits which would just look silly, but it gives Ong-Bak a more down to earth feel about it. The high speed Tuk-Tuk chase is one such example where it looks silly because of the use of Tuk-Tuk’s but, not forgetting the location of the film, it shows some of the culture of the country but also does something which no other normal film does. The mad Caper variety is also included in the street chase also mostly due to Humlae as well as the fortunate obstacles that happen to be in the area, however, this is not necessarily a bad thing as a lot of it is funny in a good taste sense, but also great to watch.

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Ong-Bak also shows the more twisted and shady underside of a culture. The film is wrapped up in its crime world with themes being shown such as Illegal Fight Clubs, Gambling, Relic Stealing as well as drugs which becomes one of the earliest forms of crime. I do think though that the use of drugs as a necessity and crime is also used as a tease, making you think more towards that instead of the real truth, allowing for a surprise. But the fact that these form of what to the rest and more privileged side of the world represent to many what their life consists of as well as the possible lack of real opportunities that is represented by Muay Lek, especially as her sister is taking and using drugs, which leads to her overdose despite the fact that she is dealing as well for the benefit of paying for Muay’s education.

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Ong-Bak is a superb film, while it was the first time I had seen a film from Thailand, I was greatly impressed. While the film did start out quite slow with the Village scenes seemingly trying to fill in large holes in the subtext to quicken up the pace, it is sort of worth it once Ting arrives in Bangkok. That is where the films true blood and spirit lay and while it may not be a big action epic from a more western culture, it integrates its own culture to provide an experience that is both worth watching and should be watched, even if it is just to experience it. The trio of characters are great showing their own unique look on the world they live in, but also ones that you can connect with also. While you may not be a fan of World Cinema, I do recommend you see Ong-Bak, it is a terrific film all the way and you won’t be disappointed, even if you are trying something new.

GENEPOOL





High Speed Car Chase……….In A Cement Truck – Beverly Hills Cop II

6 11 2013

Beverly Hills Cop II (Paramount Pictures - 1987)

The idea of the traveller from an arcane land is not used as heavily as it has been done in cinema in the past. Many films, particularly during the 1980’s used to do it a lot mainly in the form of someone from the east (in a stereotypical china man with a long beard) such as The Karate Kid. However it is good to see when someone uses this traveller from an arcane land in a different sense which is more to the real world such as Beverley Hills Cop II which is by far in many ways one of the funniest and best cop and comedy films to date.

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The film is the follow-up to Beverley Hills Cop and relies a lot on the ground already set up in the first film including main characters Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), Detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), Detective Sergeant John Taggart (John Ashton), Inspector Douglas Todd (Gil Hill) and Captain Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox). In Beverley Hills a bunch of robberies named the Alphabet crimes take place. Captain Bogomil, Detective Rosewood and Detective Sergeant Taggart try to get to the root of the problem but are hindered by incompetent Police Chief Harold Lutz (Allen Garfield) who suspends Bogomil. On his way home Bogomil gets shot and becomes the latest victim of the Alphabet Crimes. Meanwhile in Detroit Detective Foley is trying to catch a group of Credit Card scammers when he hears about the shooting. After covering for his absence with Inspector Todd, he then travels to Beverley Hills and sees Bogomil in Hospital with his daughter Janice (Alice Adair) by his side. Axel requisitions a house for him to live in and then goes to the police station have a look at the notes from the Alphabet Crime only to be disturbed by Lutz and disguises himself as a psychic by the name of Johnny Wishbone. It is here that Foley, Rosewood and Taggart agree to work together to work on the case.

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The trio head to a gun club to check out a bullet, here Foley meets a six-foot tall woman named Karla (Brigitte Nielsen) and gun club owner Charles Cain (Dean Stockwell), both of whom work for Maxwell Dent (Jürgen Prochnow), the man behind the alphabet crimes. Rosewood and Taggart meet Axel at his house and Taggart changes his clothes (after falling into the swimming pool), they then go to a strip club where Axel tells everyone that Taggart is former president Gerald Ford. When they leave the club, a drive by sent by Dent to kill them goes wrong. Lutz arrives and finds out about Axel’s true identity. The trio head to Billy’s place and using a street cop trick, they get a finger print for Cain and then break into the gun club to get information.

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They head to a bank where the next crime is taking place and Axel and Billy end up chasing the getaway truck in a cement truck. The trail eventually leads to a party at the Playboy Mansion thrown by Hugh Hefner. Axel is told to leave Beverley Hills by Lutz but stays to solve the case. The trio goes to Dent’s accountant Sidney Bernstein (Gilbert Gottfried) and trick him into finding out that Dent is planning on leaving the country, this combined with information from Janice stating that all his businesses no longer have insurance except for his race track means that they have evidence of where the next crime is to take place. They are however too late to stop the crime taking place.

While at the race track they find evidence which leads the trio to Dent’s oil fields. There they find a weapon stash of weapons which Dent is planning on selling. This leads to a shootout on the site where most of the men surrender while Dent and Karla get shot. Lutz arrives on scene only to get fired by the Mayor of Beverley Hills. Bogomil is made new Chief of Police and Todd finds out what has been going on and orders Axel to return to Detroit. Axel says goodbye to everyone at the house only for its real owner to suddenly arrive.

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Beverley Hills Cop II’s supporting cast is a brilliant bunch. Bogomil, while incapacitated for most of the film is the real connection to the previous film, and that friendship is much apparent. Sidney Bernstein is incredibly funny during his brief moment while Janice has that rookie sidekick idea about her who while only appearing very briefly is a great character. For my money however, I really do like the character of Inspector Todd, because while very funny in the way he talks and acts is one of the anchors to this film to keep the serious note going through, thus preventing the film from going into a cheap comedy.

Gil Hill, Alice Adair, Ronny Cox and Gilbert Gottfried

The films main characters though are where the real enjoyment exists. Eddie Murphy uses the combination of serious acting along with his well-known comedy routines to make this film funny in any way he can but does not do that all the time, meaning that the film can be enjoyed by those who may not necessarily like a comedy film. His character is well constructed and while he is a joker, he is also a very caring person and cares very much for those around him, like a true friend. Another one of his great attributes is that due to him being from a different police culture, his street wise antics are a real blessing to those in Beverley Hills who rely pretty much on a combination of Computer Technology and Politics to get the job done.

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Judge Reinhold’s character meanwhile is the perfect sidekick to Axel Foley. He is a man who very much wants to rise to the top but is generally quite shy and only really comfortable with those around him. He is a great admirer of Rambo and in many a way wishes that police work was a lot like that compared to the strict going Beverley Hills way of policing, in some sense making him want to be more like Axel or at least work in a similar climate. John Ashton is the film’s real anchor. He is not a funny man, he does not make jokes but he uses comedy very differently in the form of mostly being annoyed as to what is going on around him and very much not only cares for those around him, but also his job and worries that he may end up eventually losing it. He is very much held back by the political side of the job but seemingly does not care that much about it.

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The soundtrack is a nice blend of 1980’s American pop as well as a soundtrack made specifically for the film. You have scenes of the police nature such as dark night scenes or when a crime is going down or being investigated, such as the scene at the oilfields towards the end where you are really into the whole scene, it sounds very low cover but then it would pick up the pace for the action bits. Then there would be scenes where the famous theme music would be used but then you would get scenes such as the opening themeend theme or the cement truck chase where it has this great upbeat vide about it. It may sound silly in those places, but the song is well made and gets used amazingly well, making it a nice change from the hard gripping soundtrack.

The film is very cleverly written. While in essence it is a silly comedy film, it has good background seriousness to it. The whole crime case and everything attached to it is kept serious throughout and all the comedy comes from its characters. It’s not like some films produced these days where the film is made for both quick cash and a cheap laugh, Beverley Hills cop is made to entertain those who watch it. I mean if you take the comedy out of it, Beverley Hills Cop II is a very dark police thriller.

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Beverley Hills Cop 2 is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. It is one of that rare breed of comedy films where the comedy is almost a second thought. It uses great characters, music and story to produce both a dark and suspenseful story while also using those previous comments to inject some comedy. While there have been other comedy films like this that have been produced and in many a case are as funny if not more a lot more funny such as Tropic Thunder, DodgeBall and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Beverley Hills Cop II is by far in many ways one of the best and funniest films to date, and that is something that is going to be hard to beat.

GENEPOOL





Blackadder is a Spy – Johnny English

19 10 2011

It’s quite interesting knowing about secret agents. The fact that they are supposed to be secret yet their Headquarters on the Thames can easily be seen and is a tourist attraction for anyone who passes it. Spies in movies are not very secret as they go about their job. Somehow every mission involves them killing people and having a chase scene of some kind in their big fancy car. “You see, a spy who breaks into an enemy base and kills everyone isn’t a very good spy,  any monkey can kill with a gun if it’s a very bad monkey” (Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, Game Damage Trailer). Well I suppose for the benefit for the film it has to be interesting because a film about someone doing paperwork will not be as good but will still get millions of awards. I am not saying Spy films are bad, I enjoy them a lot (in fact the Bond films before Daniel Craig were proper bond films and are still the best Bond films).  But every now and again it is good to see something different, a year ago SALT (not technically a spy film but it’s along the same lines) was released and was one of my top 5 films of 2010 and in 2003 Johnny English was released.

I was trying very hard to figure out how to review this and to be honest I can only describe what happens until about half way through and then it is very easy to explain.

Johnny English (played by Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson) is a man who works for MI7 (hahahahaha) and as suggested by several references is probably an ex spy who is now in charge of the car park. After all the other MI7 agents are killed he is asked to continue the job of preventing the crown jewels being stolen. English is more of a traditionalist and prefers the old ways of spying including pens with darts in them (hahahahaha). While trying to stop the crown jewels being stolen he runs into Lorna Campbell (Neighbours star Natalie Imbruglia). He then starts talking about the French host for the evening Pascal Sauvage (Con Air star John Cyrus the Virus Malkovich). Eventually everything goes dark and English pretends to fight an assailant (hahahahaha) and then discovers that the crown jewels have been stolen.

He gives a description of the assailant (hahahahaha) and then goes to look at the crime scene. A chase scene begins with English and his assistant Bough (Armstrong and Miller star Ben Miller) chasing them in a flatbed truck with an Aston Martin on it. After chasing them round London for a bit and blowing up a speed camera (hahahahaha) English arrives at a funeral after chasing the wrong hearse, he then proceeds to upset a funeral before Bough arrives to get him out of their claiming that English is called Gunter and is a Lunatic (hahahahaha).  

After finding out who the hearse drivers work for English is told to stay away from Sauvage by Pegasus (V for Vendetta Star Tim Pigott-Smith). English and Bough fight one of the Hearse drivers in the car park and then attempt to land on Sauvage’s building. Bough lands on the correct one while English lands on a different one and causes trouble inside a hospital ward (hahahahaha).

The 2 of them finally meet in the correct building and find out the evil plans of Pascal Sauvage to take over the country. English gives one of the hearse drivers muscle relaxant and accidentally gets some himself causing the 2 to fall on the floor in the films funniest scene (hahahahaha). English then arrives at a party run by Sauvage and attempts to dance with string quartet BOND playing one of the films themes in the background (hahahahaha).  English gets caught by Pegasus and is told to go home. Sauvage forces the Queen to abdicate the throne when one of the queen’s corgis is held at gun point. Lorna Campbell (who turns out to be an Interpol Agent) is given the case of spying on Sauvage and gets English to help her find out what Sauvage’s grand plan is. Together they go to France and after climbing up a toilet shoot (hahahahaha) English and Campbell (who went up the ladder) find out Sauvage’s grand plan is to turn Britain into the world largest prison. After getting caught English and Campbell escape with help from Bough.

Sauvage is about to be crowned King of England when English interrupts. After trying to prove that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a fake he then plays what he thinks is the DVD of Sauvage’s plan, instead a DVD is played of English dancing in the bathroom. English then tries to evade capture from the authorities and steals the crown from the Archbishop. Sauvage reveals that he has a Gun and forces the Archbishop to crown him. English loses the crown and just as Sauvage is about to be crowned, English falls on Sauvage causing the crown to go on English’s head and becoming the new King of England. The authorities arrest Sauvage and the Queen of England returns to the throne and give English a Knighthood. English and Campbell travel to the south of France and just before they kiss English sits on the Eject button in his car causing Lorna to eject from the car (hahahahaha).

During the film’s credits Lorna lands in a nearby swimming pool where Bough is on Holiday and the Assailant described by English earlier in the film is reading a Newspaper.

The film has lots of Funny Sequences in it. The film also contains references to Bond Films such as the name of the organization MI7 (not MI6) and an opening music piece like at the beginning of Bond Films. There is also a mention of the word Bond as in the String Quartet BOND. I would like to point out though that One Canada Square is the only building in Canary Wharf to have a pyramid-shaped roof, so in the real world it would be a lot easier to land on it and not land on the wrong building. The films theme is very good and is probably the only time that I have liked music performed by Robbie Williams.

The film is really funny and also really enjoyable with a good cast of actors. Rowan Atkinson’s character is as good as all his Comedy Characters. It’s hard to say much more on it than it’s really funny and fun to watch. If you like to laugh then you will probably enjoy this film.

GENEPOOL








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