Shock Wave (2017)

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Andy Lau becomes the target of a revenge plot as the fate of Hong Kong is in his hands in this Herman Yau-directed action thriller.

J.S. Cheung has risen through the ranks to become one of the most decorated officers of Hong Kong Police’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. However, two years ago, he went undercover and worked for a criminal mastermind, Pang Tong, who like Cheung, is known for his skills with explosives. When Cheung helped stop a potential bank robbery, Pang escaped and has vowed revenge on Cheung, who has returned to the EOD unit and has begun a relationship with local teacher Carmen Li.

As part of his plot to seek revenge, Pang returns to Hong Kong and has taken the Cross Harbour Tunnel under siege by having everyone in the tunnel held hostage and threatening to blow it up if his demands are not met. Pang wants Cheung to return to ensure the safety of the hostages by first, forcing him and the police to release his brother Biao from prison. Biao has had a change of heart since Cheung busted him in the mission two years ago and has no interest in seeing his big brother. However, as complications arise, Cheung finds himself with the fate of Hong Kong in his hands.

Herman Yau is truly a force in Hong Kong cinema. His versatility has led him to tackle various genres. For one of his latest films, this action thriller, which he co-wrote with Erica Li, revolves around sealing the fate of the Cross Harbour Tunnel, an underwater connection between Kowloon and Causeway Bay and of course, the hero is someone with a connection to the one responsible for holding the tunnel hostage. Yes, the film does play like a Hong Kong-version of big blockbuster Hollywood action films, but there are some twists and turns set to keep the viewer engaged.

Andy Lau once again shows his prowess as a bankable lead in the role of J.S. Cheung, a member of the EOD who in the film’s opening, finds himself in an undercover investigation which involves infiltrating a criminal known for his expertise in explosives. The villain Pang Tong is well played by Jiang Wu, who seethes revenge for the bust two years ago. In a bold and smart move in the film, the love interest for Cheung is in no way glamorized, but rather an ordinary teacher played well by Song Jia. In their first meeting, Song’s Carmen is seen at a bar completely drunk and tells Cheung after meeting her at her school that she was only there that night because she wanted to see if she still “had it”, but it is clear that the relationship between Cheung and Carmen is not about having it, but is truly about love and caring for each other.

The action sequences are quite a delight to watch. From the vehicle chases to a finale that nearly rivals another Lau vehicle, Firestorm, for an insane shootout that ends with a shocker (no pun intended) of a finale that just boosts up the rating of the film. The opening chase alone is quite a watch as there are explosions involve including a final explosion (for the opening) that nearly sends a car in a tunnel, this becoming the catalyst of the core plot of the film.

Shock Wave is definitely a Hong Kong-equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood film and who better than Andy Lau to lead the way in this tense thriller. Some notable twists and turns help make this one to definitely check out.


A Universe Entertainment and Infinitus Entertainment Ltd. Production in association with Bona Film Group. Director: Herman Yau. Producers: Andy Lam, Alvin Lam, Jessica Chan, Esther Koo, and Alice Chan. Writers: Herman Yau and Erica Li. Cinematography: Joe Chan and Mandy Ngai. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Andy Lau, Jiang Wu, Song Jia, Philip Keung, Ron Ng, Babyjohn Choi, Louis Cheung, Wang Ziyi, Felix Wong, Sek Sau, Liu Kai-Chi, Cheung Chun-Kit.


Gintama (2017)

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The hit manga by Hideaki Sorachi has a live action adaptation and it caters to both fans of the source material as well as newcomers to the title, thanks in part to some over the top antics that work quite well.

Twenty years ago, Edo was invaded by aliens and the government, calling them Amanto, ended up in war with the aliens. However, when the war was over, the Sword Prohibition Act was passed, forbidden all samurai to unleash their swords. As a result, the aliens and humans are now living in peace. One known as the White Demon, former samurai Gintoki Sakata has resorted to being more a lazy bum who does odd jobs with Shinpachi, a one-time budding samurai and heir to a martial arts dojo; and Kagura, an alien girl who has both a strong will and appetite.

Gintoki’s now peaceful life is soon shattered with childhood friend Katsura is killed by a mysterious stranger Nizou Okada, who has possession of a mysterious sword known as the Benizakura. To make matters worse, he learns that Okada is working with Shinsuke Takasugi, who had fought alongside Gintoki and Katsura in the Joui War that led to the Sword Prohibition Act. Now deemed a traitor, Takasugi intends to make his intentions known by unleashing his sword and destroying Edo. With help from the siblings whose dad created the deadly blade, Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura must stop Takasugi, Okada, and their allies to save Edo and make it peaceful again.

Having only recently begun watching the anime based on the hit Shonen Jump manga, this reviewer kind of knows what to expect. Yuichi Fukuda wrote and directed this live-action adaptation that may or may not make fans of the original source material, depending on their taste, but will surely be a delight for newcomers who are curious about Sorachi’s story of a lazy samurai and his friends in an alternate Edo where aliens and humans are apparently living in peace despite the normalcy of crime and everyday life.

The cast of the film are great to watch. Shun Oguri brings the character of Gintoki Sakata to life and does so with some hilarious antics. This especially is prevalent in a hilarious “opening credit” sequence where only his name appears and it appears he is singing from a karaoke song only to be interrupted by a cartoon version of Shinpachi and Kagura. While Oguri handles the action quite well, he proves with his role here that he has a flair for comedy and brings it full speed ahead in the role.

When it comes to live-action manga and anime, no one has recently done it like Masaki Suda. The former one-half of Kamen Rider W had been known for his role as Karma Akabane in the Assassination Classroom series but goes a full 180 with his role of the very timid yet determined Shinpachi. Suda has that comical flair necessary to make a role such as Shinpachi work. From his surprised expressions to getting knocked in the face in super slow motion by ally Kagura and with an emotional range, Suda is truly stands out in the film while his Assassination Classroom cohort Kanna Hashimoto, who played the automated Ritsu in the two films, here plays the alien Kagura and from what was seen so far in the anime, pretty well and faithful.

While the trio of Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura make up the driving force of the film, the supporting cast is quite fun to watch. Notably the introduction of the bumbling police Chief Isao Kondo, played hilariously by Kankuro Nakamura, who appears in just his underwear covered in honey. Kondo has a major crush on Shinpachi’s sister and gets his comeuppances on a few occasions when she shows no interest in him. This includes hitting him with a baseball bat and it becomes a home run. The duo of Ryo Yoshizawa and Yuya Yagira play Okita and Hijikata, members of the Shinseigumi, a police force, who seem to dislike Gintoki but when they are faced with the common enemy, find themselves teaming up with him. And yet, these two are not exactly the smartest duo either. They are almost but not quote on Kondo’s level. Ken Yasuda also brings some comic relief with his overpowering performance (and that’s voice-wise) as Tetsuya Murata, whose father created the Benizakura blade with Akari Hayami complementing Tetsuya’s shouting as the more reserved Tetsuko Murata.

Hirofumi Arai brings the character of Nizo Okada as a deadly warrior who is fused with the very deadly blade that Gintoki must track down. Arai emulates a sort of Zatoichi-like performance with assistance from Jiro Sato’s self-proclaimed “feminist” Henpeita Takeuchi and Nanao’s gun-slinging Matako Kijima. However, the real villain is that of Takasuki Shinsuke, played by Tsuyoshi Domoto, which brings the sometimes clichéd “best friend turned enemy” portion of the action genre but Domoto gives such a harrowing performance that it stands out quite well here.

There are plenty of comic gags, from slow motion hits to the “kabuto beetle chase” scene and even references to other popular anime and manga that stand out in the film and for some reason, it works. The swordfighting action is quite fun to watch as well as Oguri’s opening scene where he resorts to using unarmed martial arts against two annoying cat-human hybrid aliens who purposely harass Shinpachi in a “prologue” sequence. For the most part, the CGI is quite good, that is until when we see Okada in true fusion form as this is where the CGI looks a bit sub-par. It does reach borderline ridiculous, but the fact that this is an action-comedy of this element, it can be somewhat forgiven.

With room left for a sequel, apparently due this coming summer, whether or not you’ve seen the anime or read the manga, if you want a good fun Japanese action-comedy, then Gintama is recommended. The cast is great, taking elements from two arcs, and some mostly good CGI and some good action in the mix of the comic elements.


Warner Bros. Japan presents a Plus D production. Director: Yuichi Fukuda. Producers: Shinzo Matsuhashi and Susumu Hida. Writer: Yuichi Fukuda; based on the Weekly Shonen Jump manga by Hideaki Sorachi. Cinematography: Tetsuya Kudo and Yasuyuki Suzuki. Editing: Jun Kuriyagawa.

Cast: Shun Oguri, Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Masaki Okada, Yuya Yagira, Ryo Yoshizawa, Ken Yasuda, Akari Hayami, Masami Nagasawa, Hirofumi Arai, Jiro Sato, Nanao, Tsuyoshi Muro, Kankuro Nakamura, Tsuyoshi Domoto, Seika Furuhata, Seiji Rokkaku.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (2017)

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The legend of Camelot is given a modern twist from the makers of the Sharknado franchise.

When King Arthur banishes the evil witch Morgana and her son Mordred to the ends of the universe, Morgana vows revenge against anyone in King Arthur’s bloodline as well as those of the Knights. Flash forward 1500 years later in Thailand. Ex-military officer Penn is a descendant who does not believe in the legacy he is supposedly known for. He has a girlfriend in Jenna, a fellow student at the dojo they train in. However, Lucas, an apparent descendant of Merlin, believes in the legacy and swears by it.

When Morgana and Mordred re-emerge, Morgana makes her intentions clear. To gain the ultimate power, she must gain Excalibur. Regaining some of her powers, Morgana begins her wrath of destruction, even possessing local police to serve as her loyal warriors. When Penn, Jenna, Lucas, Georgina, and the returning Gunner all find themselves affected and hunted down, they soon find a mysterious ally who will have to do only one thing: make them believe their legacy and fulfill their destiny.

Having adapted Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers as a modern day adaptation, The Asylum returns with another modern day take of a legendary story, in this case, King Arthur and his knights. Sharknado 5 writer Scotty Mullen crafted a pretty decent tale set in modern day Bangkok featuring many stunt performers and actors who have a career in Thailand today.

Kickboxer: Vengeance’s Sara Malakul Lane really hams it up to quite an effect as the evil Morgana, who seeks the power of Excalibur and uses her powers to attempt to get her way. In the pivotal role of Penn is stunt performer Eoin O’Brien, who can be seen in films like Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge and Never Back Down: No Surrender. For his first lead role as a non-believer turned the descendant of the King himself, O’Brien handles himself pretty well as he not only deals with having to learn of his legacy, but a conflict within his own ranks when the return of Gunner possibly brings back an old rivalry not only within their military ranks but a love triangle between Penn, Gunner, and Jenna.

The supporting cast makes the most of what they have to work with. As Lucas, Alex Winters is the hardcore military man who teaches Penn a thing or two about him needing to come to terms with his past and his legacy. Tanja Keller’s Georgina is a hardcore warrior who takes no remorse but finds herself bonding with an unexpected supporting character. Elidh MacQueen’s Krista becomes the key to the heroes living up to their legacy. Jon Nutt’s Gunner is a bit of annoying character with his over the top way of convincing the group of their destiny while Russell Geoffrey Banks’ Mordred seems to have a bit of undecidedness in terms of what he wants to achieve and his character is perhaps more conflicted than even our heroes.

The final act starts of promising until it takes a much unexpected turn that is flat out ridiculous. While the film’s apparent final action set does live up to its promise and all looks to be safe and sound in Bangkok, Mullen’s script decides to bring something that is not a dragon, but something far worse and that is said in not a good way. While it shouldn’t be a surprise considering that the Asylum made this, but they have done better with their endings to their other films. The actual finale is quite a disappointment in this case. It is as if the ultimate villain mode looks like it could have came out of the 1995 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers big screen film and those who have seen it know exactly where this is headed.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table starts out very promising for an Asylum film with a good concept. However, that concept takes a very atrocious turn in the film’s final act that just nearly destroys the overall effort.


The Asylum presents a Benetone Films production. Director: Jared Cohn. Producer: David Michael Latt. Writer: Scotty Mullen. Cinematography: Josh Maas. Editing: Rob Pallatina.

Cast: Sara Malakul Lane, Eoin O’Brien, Alex Winters, Kelly B. Jones, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Jon Nutt, Asia Marie, Tanja Keller, Elidh MacQueen, Byron Gibson, Ron Smoorenburg.


Stratton (2017)

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Duncan Falconer’s military hero comes from the pages to the screen in this thriller from the director of Con Air and The Expendables 2.

John Stratton is a Special Boat Service officer who works for MI6 in London. With partner and Navy SEAL Marty Sturges, Stratton is on a mission to retrieve and destroy a biochemical weapon known as Satan’s Snow. However, when Stratton and Sturges arrive at the rig where the chemical is being developed, they find it empty at first. As they find the laboratory, the duo finds all the workers dead and Satan’s Snow missing. In the ensuing shootout and escape attempt, Marty is killed by a mysterious figure.

Returning to MI6, Stratton is ready to take the fall for changing protocol, but his superior Sumner has other plans. The revelation of Satan’s Snow being one of the most dangerous airborne pathogens has been revealed when a small Ukrainian village falls prey to the chemical. When Stratton and allies Aggie and Spinks discover who killed Marty, Sumner knows him. The man in question is former agent Grigory Barovsky, who has long thought to be dead for twenty years. Stratton also has a new partner in Hank Munro, whose former commanding officer was Marty himself. Together, Stratton and his team must find all routes to stop Barovsky, who has a special plan to unleash Satan’s Snow in London.

Former military officer Duncan Falconer takes his iconic novel character of John Stratton to the screens. Having co-written the screenplay himself, Falconer takes various elements from his iconic book series, and comes up with a well thought out screenplay with some nice twists and turns that keeps the viewer engaged in the mission at hand. The script is well executed at the hands of someone who is capable of complementing action and drama and that is none other than Simon West, the director of hit action films such as Con Air and The Expendables 2.

Originally set to be played by Henry Cavill, the titular Stratton is given to current Preacher star Dominic Cooper, who does a great job in the role. A somewhat unorthodox SBS officer who works for MI6, Stratton may have a soft spot for those close to him, but ultimately it is all about getting the job done. He proves this when he meets his new partner Hank Munro, played by Austin Stowell, and tells him that if he is joining the mission to avenge Marty, then he may as well go back home. Stowell and Cooper work well together not so much as mismatched partners, but two guys who may have a connection, but agree, mission first, buddy up later.

Gemma Chan provides some ample support in the role of MI6 techie Aggie alongside Jake Fairbrother’s Spinks. Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton, has a very interesting character in MI6 agent Cummings, who seems to have a love-hate relationship with Stratton as the two somewhat have respect for each other but also tend to butt heads. Thomas Kretschmann’s villain is quite mysterious as he doesn’t need to open his mouth, but let his action do the talking for him. As for Connie Nielsen, she brings quite the authoritative figure as Sumner, Stratton’s superior, providing not only her superiority but being a worthy ally when needed.

The action of the film is quite a hoot as it brings loads of tension. From the opening action sequence involving both underwater action and a shootout to numerous shootouts spread out all leading to a finale involving a double decker bus, these are pretty good action scenes that are edited quite well and not too jumpy or shaky. Altogether, the action sequences complement the serious nature of the film’s storyline and are well shot.

Should Stratton be the first of a franchise action film series? If Duncan Falconer can pull off any more like this, then that is an affirmative, as long as Dominic Cooper is in the role because he pulls it off quite well.


GFM Films presents a Stratton Films production in association with SquareOne Entertainment and Twickenham Studios. Director: Simon West. Producers: Guy Collins and Matthew Jenkins. Writers: Duncan Falconer and Warren Davis II; based on the novel series by Falconer. Cinematography: Felix Wiedermann. Editing: Andrew MacRitchie.

Cast: Dominic Cooper, Austin Stowell, Gemma Chan, Thomas Kretschmann, Tom Felton, Connie Nielsen, Jake Fairbrother, Derek Jacobi, Tyler Hoechlin.

Momentum Pictures releases the film on January 5th in select theaters, Video on Demand, and Digital HD.


World Film Geek’s Top 10 of 2017…and Some Honorable Mentions!

As we end 2017, I am proud of what we have achieved in what is only year two of the site. Taking the opportunity to see many films as well as interview some great talents both in front and behind the lens, here is hoping 2018 will be just as fun if not much more fun than 2017!

As for 2017, with the amount of films watched, it was hard at first to determine which films should be in this year’s Top Ten. However, that is exactly what I have compiled. These films that are picked as World Film Geek’s Top 10 Films of 2017 are based not only on reviews but performance and film aesthetic for certain titles.

Please be aware that the films selected are solely based on World Film Geek and do not reflect anything else.

So, without further a due, here are World Film Geek’s Top 10 Films of 2017.


#10: Bushwick (Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott): This alternate United States action-drama stars Brittany Snow as Lucy, a young woman whose life is turned upside down when her hometown of Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York is suddenly attacked by a band of soldiers from some states that have seceded from the United States. To survive, she relies on Dave Bautista’s ex-military turned building superintendent to help her get to the DMZ.

What makes this stand out from other films where an alternate history is set is the aesthetic of the film, in which the film is comprised of ten-minute long takes that bring a more visual sense in terms of both action set pieces and emotional drama, all led by powerful performances by both Snow and Bautista.


#9: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts): This is the Spider-Man movie we have all yearned for. While the 2002 Sam Raimi-directed film had a great sequel in 2004, the 2007 third installment failed on all levels. Despite a re-launch in 2012 with Marc Webb directing, the 2014 sequel to that film suffered from the same issues as the 2007 film.

The reason why this makes the Top 10 List is that it is not another pointless origin story that has been done to death. Instead, we are given a look at 15-year old Peter Parker, wonderfully played by Tom Holland, struggling with being both the wall-crawling superhero and being a normal teenager. Director Watts wisely brought a John Hughes-influence in the mix in terms of teen drama effect with Michael Keaton giving great support as the villain Adrian Toombs, also known as the Vulture. Thank Heaven there is no Green Goblin in this one!


#8: Brimstone (Martin Koolhoven): A period piece Western that is told in the present, then in flashbacks, then ends in the present, this film brings out some wonderful performances by Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce as a young woman accused of murder and the sadistic Dutch preacher who is after her respectively.

It is always been known that a good structure is vital to keep the viewer going and Koolhoven succeeds by splitting the film in chapters by making the middle of the film the beginning of Fanning’s evolution from brothel girl to loving wife. The opening starts with her accusation of murder and ends with her revenge and redemption. There are instances of gore but it ultimately forgivable in this instance.


#7: Handsome Devil (John Butler):  For fans of sports films, bromance films, and LGBTQ films, this is a well-made meshing of the trio of subgenres from Irish director John Butler.

The story of a misguided outcast, played by Fionn O’Shea, and a new star rugby player, played by Nicholas Galitzine, proves that not all LGBTQ movies have to have a romance in it. Taking more of a friendship between these two as both reveal their true natures all within a school where the faculty and students are obsessed with rugby in the same manner as Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights when it comes to the obsession with football, O’Shea and Galitzine’s performances are truly the driving point of the film.


#6: The Gracefield Incident (Mathieu Ratthe): Canadian-born indie filmmaker Ratthe not only directed, but both wrote and starred in the role of a birthday boy who does something interesting and discovers something even more interesting during his birthday weekend with friends.

The aesthetic here is that Ratthe’s character, after suffering a major car accident, has lost an eye and uses a camera inside his prosthetic eye to record his weekend. The addition of an alien invasion adds some nice visuals in terms of point-of-view from both Ratthe and cast. However, those excepting a typical ending of this type of film will truly be in for a surprise.


#5: Wolf Warrior II (Wu Jing): This action-packed sequel to the 2015 Chinese military action film is a step above its predecessor thanks to its high production value and amazing Hollywood-style visuals and action scenes, and thankfully, we do not mean the shake cam and quick cuts.

Wu returns as Leng, the now former Wolf Warrior, who exiles himself to Africa only to volunteer to transport a doctor and his team through a war-ravaged land where he contends with rebels and international mercenaries, this time led by Hollywood actor Frank Grillo, who churns out a fun performance as the funnier named “Big Daddy”. The collaboration of Sam Hargrave and Jack Wong’s action set pieces are truly the highlight of the film.


#4: The Foreigner (Martin Campbell): It has been a long time coming and it was worth the wait. Jackie Chan has finally broken through his usual everyman shtick and churns out one of his greatest acting performances in the role of a man whose life is shattered when his daughter is killed in a bombing by a rogue IRA group.

Add to the mix Pierce Brosnan as an ex-IRA soldier turned political figure who ends up in a very deadly game of cat and mouse not only with Chan but even within his own organization. Director Campbell truly does not make this much a Jackie Chan film as expected, but a political thriller that just stars Chan. Chan does have some sparse action scenes with the highlight being a knife fight between himself and Rory Fleck Byrne that is amped up in the Chinese version of the film.


#3: Mayhem (Joe Lynch): Have you had one of those days at work where you couldn’t stand the people you work with and just want to kill them? What if a virus allowed you to do that? That answer lies in Joe Lynch’s love letter to Troma films with a dash of Office Space.

Steven Yeun, aka Glenn from the hit series The Walking Dead, is Derek, the scapegoat in a case gone wrong which leads to his firing. However, when the entire law firm is affected with a rage virus for eight hours, Derek decides to exact revenge with the help of a former client who also wants retribution. Sarama Weaving brings out her inner-Harley Quinn in the role of the client and the film is utter chaos and we mean that in the nicest way possible…and that’s a good thing!


#2: Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike): The 100th film from one of Japan’s most versatile and celebrated directors is a live action adaptation of a famous manga that truly brings out a phenomenal performance from lead actor Takuya Kimura.

The former SMAP member plays Manji, a samurai warrior cursed with the power of immortality when he is asked to protect a young girl who resembles his sister as well as help avenge the death of the girl’s father. The film features one action scene after another with sparse intense drama mixed in with Kimura and young actress Hana Sugisaki having good chemistry in terms of a brother-sister relationship with Sota Fukushi bringing a terrific villain to the mix. The finale is truly an epic battle royale that culminates in a final showdown.

And finally, World Film Geek’s #1 Film of 2017 is…


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson): The heck with how diehard fans or critics felt. This is WFG’s second favorite installment of the entire epic. The #1 will always be The Empire Strikes Back, but this comes in second because of the developing story involving young Rey’s training with Luke Skywalker, the determination by Kylo Ren to be as much of a villain or even become more superior to his grandfather Darth Vader, and the beats of comic relief mixed in. The film would also mark the final performance of Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away a year ago, in her iconic role of Leia Organa.

I couldn’t be more forward to the anticipation of Episode IX in 2019 when J.J. Abrams will return as the director of what could be the final Skywalker saga installment with Johnson set to take on a new trilogy down the road.

Here are some very close calls, or as we shall call them…Honorable Mentions:

Leatherface (Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury): The “official” prequel to the 1974 horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is quite a mix of The Usual Suspects, Natural Born Killers, and the Chainsaw legacy.

Birth of the Dragon (George Nolfi): The story of the real-life fight between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man may have a very annoying subplot involving a romance, but thankfully the film is saved by the performances of Philip Ng as Lee and Xia Yu as Wong.

Spidarlings (Salem Kapsaski): This “jack-of-all trades” movies is a LGBTQ/horror/comedy/musical that features two lovers, one a lazy person and the other a hard worker, who adopt a spider that changes their lives forever and add to the mix a serial killer. This film was recently distributed by Troma and rightfully so as it is a love letter to the NY-based indie film company.

Savage Dog (Jesse V. Johnson): The always busy Scott Adkins stars as a boxer in 1950’s Indochina who fights in prison matches. However, when he decides to give it up, those in-charge make the mistake of hurting those he loves. He soon goes on a mission of vengeance and all culminates with a finale that depicts the attitude of the titular animal.

Justice League (Zack Snyder): Having heard the fans after Batman v. Superman, Zack Snyder delivers an almost perfect team up with Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. However, with Joss Whedon taking over to finish the film and some reshoots made, the film suffers from a pretty much non-intimidating villain in Steppenwolf. The film’s saving grace is the return of another true hero as well as the beats of necessary comic relief that meshes well here.

World Film Geek will continue to strive in 2018 and wishes everyone a very Happy New Year!


Wolf Warrior II (2017)

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Wu Jing is back and he’s on an even more dangerous mission in what is the highest-grossing film in China’s box office history.

Leng Feng has been exiled from the Wolf Warrior squadron after he attempted to protect the family of a lost comrade and served jail time. To make matters worse, he has learned his girlfriend, Long Xiaoyun, was attacked during a border mission and on top of that, a bullet was found. Learning that the bullet may have been found in Africa, Leng heads there but goes on to make friends with many of the locals, bonding with young boy Tundu, to the point where Leng is made Tundu’s godfather.

However, the country is on the brink of war as a rebel faction has been taking over small towns, killing everyone in sight. When Leng and Tundu find themselves in the latest war zone, along with a fellow Chinese storeowner, Leng leads any survivors successfully to the Chinese embassy. When Leng learns that Dr. Chen, a respected biologist, could be targeted by the faction, Leng offers to get the doctor and rescue him and anyone else, along with Tundu’s mother, who is at a factory run by Lin Zhixiong. When the rebel faction has hired a band of international mercenaries led by Big Daddy, the factory becomes a war zone and Leng must do whatever it takes, all while fighting a potentially fatal virus he accidentally contracted en route to the factory.

Wu Jing’s 2015 action film Wolf Warrior pitted Chinese soldiers against a band of international mercenaries. Wu not only starred, but co-wrote and directed the film, which became a hit. Knowing he needed to up the ante with this sequel, he got assistance from the most unlikely source in Joe and Anthony Russo, the guys behind two superior Marvel movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War and who will unleash Avengers: Infinity War. And how exactly did they help Wu out with the making of the film?

The Russos brought Sam Hargrave, a well-respected stuntman and stunt coordinator, to serve as director of the film’s action sequences alongside Hong Kong’s Jack Wong. The action of the film is a major step up from its predecessor, opening with an amazing one-take underwater fight sequence that is just amazing to watch. There are loads of shootouts and close quarter fight scenes that make this film look like a Russo-helmed Marvel film but replace the superheroes with Wu Jing and his allies in the form of Wu Gang’s ex-soldier and Hans Zhang’s wannabe soldier.

The international mercenaries this time are led by the wonderfully named “Big Daddy”, played by Frank Grillo, who played Brock “Crossbones” Rumlow in both CA: TWS and CA: CW. To add some of that Marvel-style action flavor, some of Grillo’s team are played by stunt performers Aaron Toney and Heidi Moneymaker alongside Oleg Prudius, who had a stint in World Wrestling Entertainment as “Vladimir Kozlov” and has proven himself as an actor and stunt performer lately.

As for Wu himself, this time around being in a foreign land compared to his native China, Wu’s command of English is quite impressive and works well when working with both Celina Jade as Dr. Chen’s assistant Dr. Rachel Smith and especially with child actor Nwachukwu Kennedy Chukwuebaka as Tundu, the young boy who Leng sees as his godson while Jade gets a chance to work well as child actor Diana Sylla as Pasha, whose role is truly that of a pivotal one. Wu Gang and Hans Zhang provide ample support as two fellow Chinese, the former an ex-military officer and the latter a wannabe soldier who finally lives his dream and rolls with it, who become the honorary “Wolf Warriors” in this mission.

If you liked the original Wolf Warrior, then you will truly love Wolf Warrior II as the action is taken up not one notch, but quite a few notches with Wu Jing once again showcasing his talents both in front and behind the cameras with a great supporting cast led by Frank Grillo as the villain and Celina Jade as a reliable and pivotal ally.


A Beijing Dongfang International Culture Comminications Company, Beijing Century Media Culture, Chao Feng Pictures, Orange Image, and Spring Era Film Co. Production in association with China Film. Co., Deer Pictures, I Verge Information Technology Company, Bona International Film Group, Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism Co., Jiahui Culture and Media Company, Star Era Movie & TV Culture Media Company, and Wanda Media Co. Director: Wu Jing. Producers: Lv Jiamin, Miao Zhang, Guan Hailong, and Ji Diaoqing. Writers: Wu Jing, Dong Qun, Liu Yi, and Gao Yan. Cinematography: Peter Ngor. Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai.

Cast: Wu Jing, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade, Wu Gang, Hans Zhang, Yu Qian, Yu Nan, Chunyu Shanshan, Oleg Prudius, Heidi Moneymaker, Aaron Toney, Nwachukwu Kennedy Chukwuebaka, Diana Sylla, Ann James, Shi Zhaoqi, Wang Sen, Zhuang Xiaolong.


Kepler’s Dream (2017)

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A young girl goes on a emotional roller coaster that becomes a catalyst for her family coming to terms in this well-made family drama.

Having lived in the city all her life, Ella McKenzie has been through a lot. Her parents have divorced, and she has been estranged from her father, who does fishing excursions. When her mother is diagnosed with leukemia, she must be taken out of state for stem cell research. Ella is forced to stay with her paternal grandmother, Violet Von Stern, whom Ella has never met. Things don’t go as planned the first few days due to Violet’s strict rules and harsh manners.

Ella does find some friends in ranch hand Miguel and his daughter Rosie. The bond between Ella and Violet slowly begins to develop over their love of astronomy, with Violet’s prized possession being a rare first edition of Johannes Kepler’s Somnium. When the book is found to be missing, Miguel is the prime suspect, but Ella believes the culprit to be Violet’s guest and fellow book collector, Christopher Abercromie, and his visiting nephew Jackson. As Ella digs deep into the mystery, her father, who has been away from the family home, returns. With Ella on the hunt for the rare book, some secrets are revealed, and that may result in something much needed for this family.

Based on the novel by Juliet Bell, this is a tale that meshes the fish out of water story with a mystery that all results in something that may look like it comes out of a Hallmark movie, but done with a realistic sense that both breaks and keeps the family traditional film alive. The themes of meeting for the first time, estrangement, and the near loss of a loved one seems a bit much. However, it all smooths out in its running time making it bearable.

Isabella Blake-Thomas brings a sense of realism in the central role of Ella, who has endured so much, but is so loyal to her mother that her opening scene involves her cutting her hair as a donation for her mother, played by Kelly Lynch. Lynch doesn’t get much screen time as her character of Amy spends most of the film recovering in a hospital bed from leukemia. Sean Patrick Flanery makes the most of his screen time as the estranged Walt, whose fishing excursions and family secrets make him somewhat of an outcast to both his mother and his daughter. Holland Taylor is a delight to watch as the stern Violet, whom Ella nicknames “G.M.”, not for grandmother, but “general major”. The chemistry between Taylor and Blake-Thomas is a vital part of the film’s story.

Steven Michael Quezada’s Miguel and Esperanza Fermin’s Rosie bring a sense of comfort to Ella, as it seems like they are the only ones she can trust throughout this journey. Even David Hunt’s Abercromie seems to have that shady side to him as he only seems to care about monetary value rather than sentimental value, which is in the case of Violet and Kepler’s Somnium. What helps drive the film overall is that when it looks crystal clear who took the Somnium, some unexpected twists and turns not only reveal the theft itself, but the reasoning behind the theft will make jaws drop.

All in all, Kepler’s Dream may seem like a lot going into one film. However, both smooth scriptwriting and some great performances, notably from Isabella Blake-Thomas and Holland Taylor, make this an ultimately heartwarming drama.


Leomark Studios present a Kepler’s Dream Etc. Production. Director: Amy Glazer. Producer: Sedge Thomson. Writers: Sylvia Browning, Sedge Thomson, Ann Cummings, Amy Glazer, and Vijay Rajan; based on the novel by Juliet Bell. Cinematography: Nancy Schreiber. Editing: Mags Arnold.

Cast: Isabella Blake-Thomas, Holland Taylor, Kelly Lynch, Sean Patrick Flanery, Kelly Hu, Steven Michael Quezada, Esperanza Fermin, David Hunt, Stafford Douglas, Hank Rogerson.


Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

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After saving the world, Eggsy and Merlin head to America to once again, you guessed it, save the world in this action-packed sequel.

Now a fully-fledged member of the Kingsman, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin has it all. A good job, a good home, and true love with Swedish princess Tilde. On his way home one night, he is ambushed by rejected Kingsman applicant Charlie, who is now equipped with a metal arm. After a big skirmish and car chase, Eggsy narrowly escapes both Charlie and the police. However, the metal arm’s remote trigger successfully hacks into the Kingsman system. The next day, while Eggsy is at dinner with Tilde and her parents, the entire Kingsman organization except for Merlin, is destroyed along with Eggsy’s home, which kills his dog JP and best friend Brandon.

Eggsy and Merlin use the “Doomsday Protocol”, which takes them on a journey to America to find the Statesman Whiskey Company in Kentucky. They meet Agents Tequila, Whiskey, and Ginger Ale. Together, they learn they must take down The Golden Circle, led by Poppy Adams. Poppy is a 50’s nostalgia obsessed drug cartel leader who has plans to make all drugs legal by tainting all forms of drugs with a potentially lethal dose of something that will cause death in a few days, yet she has the antidote. Eggsy, Merlin, and the Statesmen will need all the help they can get, including someone neither Eggsy nor Merlin would ever expect seeing again.

The 2014 hit film Kingsman: The Golden Circle helped launch the career of Welsh actor Taron Egerton to a bonafide star, allowing to kick butt with the best of them, including Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. While the viewer gets a brief glimpse of Eggsy in his pre-Kingsman gear in a scene where he celebrates the birthday of one of his friends, we see Egerton fully committed in full Kingsman gear for most of the film, including an opening action sequence that is reminiscent of something you would see in a Fast and Furious film.

In quite a bold move, Julianne Moore plays the film’s villain, Poppy, which makes sense considering her being the biggest drug cartel queen in the world. However, Moore doesn’t bring a sense of actor, but rather brings the ruthlessness via her acting like a June Cleaver. Her Poppy Land just shows Poppy’s obsession with 50’s nostalgia, which meshes with advance technology. A particular scene brings a vibe reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even, The Untold Story. Her sidekick, Charlie, brings back Edward Holcroft, now fitted with a robotic arm, and for him, it’s about revenge.

Mark Strong returns as Merlin and proves to be more of a big brother to Eggsy than just another agent skilled with gadgets this time around. Joining the two this time around are Channing Tatum, who makes quite an entrance as Tequila; Halle Berry as the “Merlin” of Statemen, Ginger Ale; and Pedro Pascal as Whiskey. Pascal gets the most action in, joining Eggsy and Merlin on their new mission. Whiskey’s use of the lasso and a whip makes quite an impact in his action scenes. And let’s not forget the elephant in the room, thanks to the marketing by Fox, which director Matthew Vaughn was a bit disappointed with in terms of revelations: the return of Colin Firth’s Harry.

Under the stunt coordination of former Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Brad Allan, the action in this film is just as good as the original film. From the eye popping opening car chase scene, to a great fight in a Kentucky bar to even a Mission: Impossible-style action scene set in a snowy mountain in Italy, the action of the film is impressive. In a move reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, we see a famous celebrity, making an extended cameo, throwing a slow-motion style flying side kick to one of Poppy’s goons, making it both hilarious and jaw-dropping. Of course, we see the heroes dish it out all to the tune of one of this celebrity’s songs in the background.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle quite frankly is just as good as its predecessor. The cast is in top form with both their antics and some exhilarating action sequences. If you liked the original, you will enjoy this one.


20th Century Fox presents a MARV Production. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Producers: Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, and David Reid. Writers: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman; based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Cinematography: George Richmond. Editing: Eddie Hamilton.

Cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Halle Barry, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, Colin Firth, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alström, Sophie Cookson, Michael Gambon, Björn Granath, Lena Endre, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson.


Justice League (2017)

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The long awaited team up has finally arrived and it is safe to say that Zack Snyder made good on his promise.

It has been sometime since Superman sacrificed himself to save the world from Doomsday. While the world continues to mourn the fallen hero, Batman has learned something is truly coming after confronting a mutant-like alien. Using Lex Luthor’s notes, he discovers that there are three boxes that withhold powers capable of starting an apocalypse. The alien warlord Steppenwolf has arrived and has stolen the first of the “mother boxes” from Themyscira, the home of Wonder Woman. When Diana learns what has transpired, she goes to Gotham to meet Bruce Wayne.

Bruce and Diana agree that it is time to find those with abilities. Bruce first searches for Arthur Curry in a small Icelandic village. Curry is known as the Aquaman, who has the ability to breathe underwater and control the waters. Diana looks for Victor Stone, a former football star who has been rebuilt into a cyborg after a freak accident. Bruce then looks for Barry Allen, a young naïve kid who has the power of speed and becomes the Flash. Together, they attempt to stop Steppenwolf and when they learn he has too much power after stealing the mother box from Atlantis, the group will have to do the virtually impossible to stop him.

When 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, reactions were mixed with the big complaint being that it was considered too dark. Snyder made the promise to make this ultimate team-up movie he would inject more humor in the film and succeeds. The script, by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon (who would take over for the latter part of production), has some funny one-liners that help bring in the necessary humor needed to complement the action and at times, tense emotional drama of the film.

It is safe to say that the film’s saving graces are Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman as these two take the lead with Batman questioning himself at times whether he should continue being Batman and whether he should take the lead while Wonder Woman, even after a century later, still struggles due to the loss of a loved one. The two truly prove themselves as the leaders of the group. Despite having some wisecrack one-liners, these two are the most emotional of the group. And those expecting a certain character will be quite surprised but it has to be seen to be believed.

Ray Fisher gives a really good performance as Cyborg, who struggles not only with his newfound skills, but how he could use them in terms of helping the team. Eventually, he does warm up and help the team out when it comes to some critical moments while Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is such a badass. His take on the character is exactly what fans may see Momoa as, a guy you would hang out at a bar and pal around with. Momoa even gets to have some humorous scenes in the film, including a funny laugh out loud moment before the climactic battle of the film.

The major comic relief of the film falls upon Ezra Miller’s take on The Flash. As the young naïve Barry Allen, Miller has good intentions but it is that young naivety that allows him to act like a fanboy of sorts when he meets Batman and even crushes a bit on Wonder Woman. In a pivotal scene in the film, the look on Miller’s face truly becomes priceless and will make the viewer crack up to the point where they may end up falling off their seat.

If there is only one issue in the film, it is that of central villain Steppenwolf, voiced by Ciarán Hinds. It is not that the character is a worthy villain, because his actions prove that he could be. The only issue is that compared to the likes of Marvel’s Thanos and Hulk as well as even BvS creature Doomsday, Steppenwolf looks a bit subpar and it just brings a bit of meh. Even his minions, which look like Killer Moth becoming mutated, look more convincing than the big baddie himself. Whether Snyder’s departure led to the rushing of getting the film completed to where they made Steppenwolf look not that convincing, it is ultimately a forgivable issue thanks in part to the overall story, based on Jack Kirby’s Fourthworld arc.

In conclusion, Justice League makes good on its promise of injecting more lighthearted moments. The core cast is wonderful, showcasing a variety of emotions while still keeping the humor in and despite the villain not looking all that convincing, it still makes up for a fun action ride. It truly is the anti-Batman v. Superman.


Warner Bros. Pictures presents in association with Ratpac-Dune Entertainment an Atlas Entertainment & Cruel and Unusual Production. Director: Zack Snyder. Producers: Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, and Geoff Johns. Writers: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon; story by Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio; based on Fourthworlds by Jack Kirby. Cinematography: Fabian Wagner. Editing: David Brenner, Martin Walsh, and Richard Pearson.

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Lisa Loven Kongsli.


Cars 3 (2017)

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Lightning McQueen returns as he is on the brink of being forced into the last thing he ever expected in this third installment of the hit Disney/Pixar film series.

He has conquered many races over the years but it looks clearly that Lightning McQueen’s time as the hottest racer on the track is coming to an end. Newcomer Jackson Storm has become the rookie of the year as he hands McQueen his first loss in years. Despite McQueen’s determination to end the current season on a high note, McQueen’s overzealousness lands him to crash hard on the final race of the season.

Four months has passed and McQueen has suffered greatly, living like a recluse in Radiator Springs. However, when some words from longtime friends Sally and Mater inspire Lightning to give it one more shot, he finds himself going to the Rust-eeze Training Center. He has learned that the company is now owned by Sterling, a longtime fan of McQueen. McQueen’s new trainer is Cruz Ramirez, whose methods don’t go well with McQueen at first. However, McQueen makes a deal with Sterling involving an upcoming race in Florida. If Lightning loses, he will retire. However, if he wins, he will retire when he is ready to do so. Will Lightning be able to go on the comeback trail?

It has been eleven years since the first film and six years since the second film and it is clear that Lightning McQueen is truly on the brink of being forced to retire. In an age where technology in cars have shot up to an all-new high, McQueen’s old school tactics don’t seem to work out for him as it used to be. Directed by Brian Fee and written by the trio of Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich, the film takes a somewhat Days of Thunder approach with a twist where a champion racer is clearly finding himself under threat from a newcomer and goes on the comeback trail for one last race.

Owen Wilson once again voices Lightning McQueen, but a welcome addition to the team is comedienne Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez, who is an expert in the new technology and attempts to help Lightning understand the rigorous and necessary training needed to compete in today’s age. Alonzo does get to pull off some hilarious moments during the first training scenes but eventually warms up to McQueen, forming a bond that truly will develop from a trainer-trainee relationship to a friendship that will make an impact in the film.

Armie Hammer’s Jackson Storm is reminiscent of Parker Stevenson’s Aubrey James in Stroker Ace. The character is a smarmy, arrogant newcomer who knows he can retire all the veterans, but does it by playing mind games with those he comes across. Many of the original cast members return but seem to have more of extended cameos, from Larry the Cable Guy as Tow Mater and Bonnie Hunt as Sally. Nathan Fillion is another welcome addition as Sterling, the new Rust-eze owner who has a fixation for McQueen as a fan who sees him as the face of Rust-eze, with a possible price. Chris Cooper is great as Smokey, the mentor of Doc, “The Hudson Hornet”, who in the original film as immortalized by the late Paul Newman, was Lightning’s original mentor.

Cars 3 is a film full of driven (pun intended) performances by the cast with a meshing of Days of Thunder and Stroker Ace in terms of certain characters and themes involved in car racing. It’s clear that Lightning McQueen is not going anywhere anytime soon.


A Disney/Pixar Production. Director: Brian Fee. Producer: Kevin Reher. Writers: Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich; story by Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, and Jonathan E. Stewart. Cinematography: Jeremy Lasky and Kim White. Editing: Jason Hudak.

Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington.