The Expendables (2010) – Movie Review

The Expendables is an all-star action-packed war film directed by Sylvester Stallone and stars Stallone himself.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Randy Couture in "The Expendables"
Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Randy Couture in "The Expendables"

The Expendables are highly-trained mercenaries consist of Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of the Expandables, knife-throwing Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial arts expert Yin Yang (Jet Li), sniper Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), heavy weapon specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and demolition expert Toll Road (Randy Couture). Tool (Mickey Rourke) the tattoo artist, a former Expendables is the team mission broker.

After a rescue mission of disposing the pirates in a ransom case, Barney decides to remove Gunnar from the Expendables as he feels he could no longer trust him. Barney then meets a man who called himself Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), believed to be a CIA, hires the Expendables for a mission in the island of Vilena in South America. Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) appears briefly and is revealed to be the former leader of the original Expendables and an old rival of Ross.

Barney and Christmas decide to explore Vilena before accepting the mission. The island is ruled by a dictator General Garza (David Zayas) who is controlled by James Munroe (Eric Roberts), a former CIA agent. Wrestler Steve Austin plays his bodyguard, Dan Paine.

Although Barney and Christmas barely escape the island alive, Barney decides to return to the island to rescue Sandra (Gisele Itié), the unlikely contact and general’s daughter. Then, as expected, Gunnar appears in Munroe’s office and offers to stop the Expendables with the right price. Back in the States, Gunnar attempts to kill Barney but Barney and Yin Yang overpowers him and his cronies in a high-speed car chase shooting. When Gunnar is shot near his heart, Barney requests him to reveal who sent him, Gunnar reveals it all and in return, Barney promises to bury him.

Barney and the rest of the Expendables returns to the island of Vilena in a highly explosive mission to rescue Sandra and her people from Munroe and General Garza. In order to do that, Barney and friends (no pun intended) set the whole palace with explosives and blows up every single buildings in the palace as well as killing every Garza’s men as well as Munroe’s. Surely, heads getting blowed up like popping balloons are quite common and fun for the Expendables. There are also plenty of wrestling actions when Stallone confronts Steve Austin which ends up quite even; later on, another wrestler Randy Couture brawls with Steve Austin and ends up the victor.

Although predictable and seeing Stallone on steroid is not so pleasing, the movie promises plenty of hard-hitting action and violence with guns and knifes and is occasionally funny. But, till the end, Christmas is right, Stallone is getting old and slow.

My ratings: 6 out of 10.

The Expendables (2010) Trailer

The Expendables is an action thriller about a team of mercenaries heading to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Expendables opens on August 13, 2010.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) – Movie Review

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor which also known as The Mummy 3 is the sequel to The Mummy and The Mummy Returns with Brendan Fraser reprising his role as Richard “Rick” O’Connell.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Jet Li as the Emperor Han in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor "
Jet Li as the Emperor Han in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor "

Emperor Han (Jet Li) is a tyrannical emperor who wants to dominate the entire world and has managed to conquer everything except his age. As he is slowly aging, his mission is to find immortality. Han commands his general, Ming Guo (Russell Wong) to bring a sorceress called Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) who happens to know the way to immortality to him. When Zi Juan says she doesn’t have but only know where to find it, Han warns Ming Guo to escort her but not to touch her as she belongs to the emperor.

During the search for immortality, Ming Guo betrays the emperor’s trust by having an affair with Zi Juan. When Ming Guo and Zi Juan return to the emperor, the emperor punishes Ming Guo by having his arms and feet tied to the horses. Han suggests to Zi Juan to give herself to him if she wants to live, but she promptly refuses. As a result, Han commands his armies to tear Ming Guo apart while he stabs a dagger onto Zi Juan. Before long, Han and his armies turn into statues as a result of the curse cast by Zi Juan earlier.

The movie fast forward to 1940, which Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife, Evelyn O’Connell (played by Maria Bello as Rachel Weisz has dropped out) are retired from their exploring jobs. Their lives now are boring and simply monotonous. When the opportunity to go to Shanghai to return an ancient artifact to the government of China, the O’Connell takes the chance without a second thought Evelyn’s brother, Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah) runs a nightclub in Shanghai.

The O’Connell are tricked into General Yang’s (Anthony Wong) plot of resurrecting Emperor Han and his terracotta warriors and are forced to prevent Yang’s absurd ambition. Coincidentally, it was their son, Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) who has earlier discovered the terracotta warriors. Lin (Isabella Leong) shows up and tells Alex that she’s the guardian of the tomb, but when a fight ensues between General Yang’s men and the O’Connell, the resurrection potion falls and it has awakened Emperor Han.

Anthony Wong and a Yeti in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor "
Anthony Wong and a Yeti in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor "

Then, come the part where the O’Connell family chases Emperor Han and General Yang in order to stop them from reaching to a place called Shangri-La, where Han will be able to resurrect his armies. The cat and mouse chasing is quite fun but the plots are predictable.

Lin even summons the Yetis to fight along side the O’Connell as they are outnumbered by General Yang’s armies.

Jet Li turns into a three-headed dragon in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor "

But, despite all the efforts to stop Han, he finally manages to find Shangri-La and after he jumps into the pool of immortality, he emerges as a three-headed dragon and flies back to his base in order to resurrect his terracotta warriors. In order to fight back, Zi Juan and her daughter sacrifice their immortality to bring back the undead who are buried by Emperor Han during the construction of the Great Wall of China.

Although the fight between the terracotta warriors and the undead are impressive, the movie is brought to an abrupt ending when Han is easily killed by Rick and Alex who fight hand-to-hand combat with Han. Overall, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is quite disappointing especially in terms of plot and fighting scenes where the real actions are missing. Perhaps, like The X-Files, people are already bored with Rick and his adventures of killing mummies. Somehow, in the last scene, Jonathan is seen holding the valuable piece of diamond artifact to Peru — hint us the next Mummy movie will be set in Peru. After all, after having done with Egypt and China, Peru’s ancient Moche pyramid is very likely the next target.

My ratings: 7 out of 10.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) Trailer

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is the third installment of The Mummy franchise starring Brendan Fraser, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) – Movie Review

The Forbidden Kingdom is a film directed by Rob Minkoff starring two of the most well-known names in the martial arts film genre, Jackie Chan and Jet Li for the first time. Yuen Woo-ping is the action choreographer. The film was originally titled "The J & J Project", before being officially changed to The Forbidden Kingdom in April 2007.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano and Liu Yi Fei in "The Forbidden Kingdom"
Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano and Liu Yi Fei in "The Forbidden Kingdom"

In Forbidden Kingdom, American teenager Jason (Michael Angarano), who is obsessed with Chinese kung fu, always rent classic Chinese kung fu movies from an old Chinese man from a pawn shop. Inadvertent, he finds the legendary stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King (Jet Li) in the pawn shop. A group of Southie uses a gun to force Jason to bring them to the pawn shop so that they can rob the money from the shop. After the leader of the Southie shoots the old man, the lost relic falls into Jason’s hand and after narrowly escaping to the roof of the building, Jason unexpectedly finds himself transported back to ancient China.

There, he meets the drunken kung fu master, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan), a resillient and skillful Silent Monk (Jet Li) and a vindictive beauty who always speak of herself as the third party, Golden Sparrow (Liu Yi Fei), who lead him on his quest to return the staff to its rightful owner, the Monkey King – imprisoned in stone by the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) for five hundred years. Along the way, Jason and gang meet the scores of Jade Warriors, Cult Killers and the deadly White Hair Demoness, Ni Chang (Li Bing Bing) as part of their journey to free the Monkey King.

While the movie has eye-popping, delightful-lighthearted and gravity-defying moments, the movie has many flaws as a result of poor editing. In the film, Li Bing Bing and Liu Yi Fei speak almost flawless English (probably through voice-editing) while Jackie Chan and Jet Li attempted to speak long sentences of English non-stop but fail nevertheless with certain words uttered from their mouth too difficult to comprehend without the subtitles. Michael Angarano meanwhile may not be the most suitable actor for the role he plays, his character seems like the biggest flaw of the film usually covers up by the silence of Jet Li’s Silent Monk and the unprecedented beauty of Liu Yi Fei’s Golden Sparrow. Sometimes, the movie looks like the adolescence of the movie Double Dragon mixed with the glumness of Mortal Kombat with little or no special effects at all. Overall, the kung fu moves of Jet Li and Jackie Chan and of Collin Chou who plays the Jade Warlord and the weak witchery of Ni Chang (Li Bing Bing) show that the movie needs more special effects, or does it? Perhaps, a lighthearted movie like this is natural unlike most Hollywood films which seem too superficial.

My ratings: 7 out of 10.