archaeology

Guyver 2 – Dark Hero (1994)

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The Japanese-born superhero is back in this far more superior sequel in which its host attempts to find where the units come from.

It has been a year since Sean Barker became the host of an alien-armored unit known as The Guyver. He has been using his powers to dispense vigilante justice incognito. However, he has been having nightmares that he cannot understand. When he learns of bear attacks at an archaeological dig, he is convinced that perhaps some of the attacks are coming from perhaps Zoanoids who escaped from Chronos, the company he has destroyed.

Upon seeing the dig site, he meets Cori Edwards, the daughter of the archaeologist in charge of the dig. Sean’s premonitions soon prove correct when he finds himself facing a Zoanoid as the Guyver. Atkins, an undercover agent, learns Sean’s secret and reveals to him that he had only destroyed the Los Angeles branch of Chronos, who are a worldwide business. Meanwhile, Crane, who works for Chronos, has learned about Sean’s secret as the Guyver. While Sean searches for answers once a spaceship has been unearthed, some major revelations are imminent and Sean will face his greatest challenge yet.

When American audiences were introduced to Yoshiki Takaya’s The Guyver in 1991 via a film starring Mark Hamill and Jack Armstrong, it was met with mostly mixed to negative reviews. While the film’s effects were a highlight, it was the action that proved to be a low point in the film. Three years later, Steve Wang, who co-directed the original film, goes solo for this sequel but this time around, he brings in a cast of mainly newcomers but knowing the first film’s big mistake, amps it up with the action.

David Hayter replaces Jack Armstrong as Sean Barker, the host of the Guyver. For a film debut, Hayter is not exactly a bad actor and brings a sense of emotion when he tries to discover the origins of the very unit he has merged with. This is just in addition of doing what the Guyver does best. Hayter would go on to become a well-known voice actor and screenwriter whose credits include X-Men, The Scorpion King, and even directed the underrated werewolf film Wolves.

Kathy Christopherson’s Cori is somewhat of a meshing of damsel-in-distress and a strong woman. While the character of Mizky Segawa appears in the film, it is relegated to more of a cameo and played by a different actress who thinks Sean is becoming delusional. The interaction between Sean and Mizky in this flashback becomes the catalyst for Sean’s quest. Bruno Giannotta plays the character of Crane as a very dangerous person whose look here and mannerisms has a reminiscence of veteran villain actor Michael Ironside. Christopher Michael proves himself to be a worthy ally as Atkins, an undercover agent who not only learns Sean’s secret identity but is willing to help him upon learning said secret as he has “tracked” the Guyver’s activity.

While the cast is mostly made up of newcomers so the acting isn’t exactly on an Oscar-type level, the real star of the film is the action. Knowing that the lackluster action helped make the original 1991 film somewhat of a mixed bag, Wang employed the services of the Alpha Stunts team to handle this film’s action scenes. The costumes in the film look lighter than its predecessor, this allowing more flexibility when it comes to executing martial arts action. Koichi Sakamoto truly adds a sci-fi element with the use of wirework, but the fight scenes here are simply stunning. Kudos goes to Stone Age Warriors actor Anthony Houk and Sakamoto themselves as they play the Guyver suit actors and perform some fantastic stunts with Sakamoto and fellow Alpha Stunts team founder Tatsuro Koike in the suit of Zoanoid Crane, who does the unthinkable, all leading to a fantastic fight-filled climax.

Guyver 2: Dark Hero is one of those sequel that truly outdoes the original film. The SFX are still great and even amps up some gore-like effects but the martial arts action is breathtaking. If you had reservations about the original film, then you will want to see this sequel for a heck of a ride.

WFG RATING: A-

New Line Cinema presents a Biomorphs Inc. production. Director: Steve Wang. Producer: Steve Wang. Writer: Nathan Long; based on the original characters created by Yoshiki Takaya. Cinematography: Michael G. Wojciechowski. Editing: Russ Kingston and Steve Wang.

Cast: David Hayter, Kathy Christopherson, Bruno Giannotta, Christopher Michael, Stuart Weiss, Billi Lee, Jim O’Donoghoe, J.D. Smith, Alisa Merline, Wes Deitrick, Veronica Reed, Stephen Oprychal.

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Kung Fu Yoga (2017)

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2017, Top Entertainment/Sparkle Roll Media/Taihe Entertainment/Shinework Pictures

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producers:
Jackie Chan
Qi Jianhong
Jonathen Shen
Barbie Tung
Wang Wei
Writer:
Stanley Tong
Cinematography:
Horace Wong
Editing:
Kwong Chi-Leung

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Professor Jack Chen)
Aarif Rahman (Jones Lee)
Lay Zhang (Xiaoguang)
Muqi Miya (Nuomin)
Sonu Sood (Randall)
Disha Patani (Ashmita)
Amyra Dastur (Kyra)
Eric Tsang (Jack’s Friend)
Paul Philip Clark (Max)

Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong reunite for what can essentially be called a sequel to their last collaboration, but the film ultimately is a mixed bag that has both hits and misses.

Professor Jack Chen is one of China’s top archaeologists. Ashmita, a young Indian woman arrives in Jack’s class to inform him that she has a map of an area in India that will lead to the Magadha treasure, a collection of relics that Jack has long been attempting to find. He forms a team with assistants Guomin and Xiaoguang, along with Jones Lee, the son of Jack’s late best friend. In addition, Kyra, Ashmita’s assistant joins the team as well as they head for the Kunlun Mountains.

Randall, the last descendant of a rebel army leader involved in the first war for the treasure centuries ago, is obsessed with getting his hands on the treasure in order to restore the honor of his family. When Jack and the team find a possible lead in the mountain, Randall sends his team to get the treasure. In the midst of the battle, Jones finds the Eye of Shiva and takes off, leaving the group to suffer. After a narrow escape, Kyra and Ashmita return to India while Jack, Nuomin, and Xiaoguang head to Dubai to find Jones, but Randall is not far behind either.

While he had declared that Chinese Zodiac would mark his last big action spectacular, it seems that Jackie Chan just can’t seem to get away from doing his trademark style and as of late, they have come with not too stellar results. Skiptrace had its moments, but wasn’t totally exciting. For his latest film, Chan reunites with Stanley Tong, who directed Chan last in 2005’s The Myth, which started out promising but ended with a very flawed final act due to the duo resorting to some ridiculous moments that even had Chan fans turn the other way. So how does this compare to The Myth?

Well, once again, we do have a mixed bag ultimately in terms of Chan’s trademark style of comedy and action. Virtually playing the same character he played in The Myth, Chan and meshing it with shades of his Armour of God series, Chan treks to Tibet, Dubai, and India to seek ancient treasures that could help solidify China-India relations and gets help from a team consisting of the level headed Muqi Miya, Lay Zhang of Korean-Chinese boyband EXO, and Aarif Rahman, who played Bruce Lee in 2010’s Bruce Lee, My Brother and appears in Cold War and Cold War II. Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur bring some fun international eye candy while Sonu Sood makes for a pretty decent mastermind villain who presents his obsession quite calmly with various JC Stunt Team members playing his henchmen.

In addition, there are some fun action sequences that despite the use of CGI brings a bit of fun to the film. One of the scenes that proves to be quite laughable is a car chase in Dubai in which Chan finds himself driving with a lion in the backseat. Surprisingly, while Chan has the age factor, he is able to bring shades on Operation Condor when it comes to the girls fighting but props have to go to Rahman, who gets quite an good amount of action himself whether he’s fighting some of Randall’s men or even pulling off some pretty good stunts in the car chase scene.

The major flaws come in the overabundance of CGI, from wolves in Tibet, where Eric Tsang makes the most of his cameo appearance, and a ridiculous scene involving an escape from hyenas. As of that is not bad enough, the finale starts off promising but then delves into a truly “what the $&@#” moment that comes out of nowhere and granted, it’s a tribute to Bollywood, but this film could have been better off as a true Bollywood-Chinese movie like 2009’s Chandni Chowk to China.

Kung Fu Yoga is a mixed bag that has some good moments and not so good moments that results into something that is borderline ridiculous. The hardcore Jackie Chan fans may enjoy this film, but if you have grown tired of Chan’s brand of humor and action, then you may want to skip this one.

WFG RATING: C+

Kung Fu Yoga comes to select theaters nationwide tomorrow. Check Well Go USA’s Kung Fu Yoga homepage for theater listings.

REVIEW: The Myth (2005)

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2005, JCE Movies Limited/Emperor Motion Pictures

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producers:
Willie Chan
Solon So
Barbie Tung
Writers:
Stanley Tong (story & screenplay)
Wang Hui-Ling (screenplay)
Li Hai-Shu (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Horace Wong
Ng Man-Ching
Michael Johnson
Lai Yiu-Fai
Choi Sung-Fai
Editing:
Yau Chi-Wai

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Dr. Jack Chan/General Meng Yi)
Kim Hee-Seon (Princess Ok-Soo)
Tony Leung Ka-Fai (William)
Mallika Sherawat (Samantha)
Shao Bing (General Nangong Yan)
Sun Zhou (Professor Koo)
Yu Rong-Guang (General Zhao Kuang)
Choi Min-Soo (General Choi)
Richard Hung (Guothum)
Raj Gopal Bajaj (Dasar Martial Arts Teacher)
Ken Low (Dragon)
Hiro Hayama (Tiger)
Chan Sek (Cheetah)
Park Hyun-Jin (Eagle)
He Jun (Phoenix)

Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong reunite after 1996’s First Strike to bring this tale of an archaeologist whose visions of a past life come to guide him in this pretty decent action film.

Dr. Jack Chan is a world renowned archaeologist who as of late has been having visions of a Korean princess named Ok-Soo, who was betrothed to be a concubine for the Qin Dynasty Emperor in ancient China. Jack sees himself as the Emperor’s General Meng Yi, who will do what it takes to ensure the princess’ safety to the palace. Meanwhile, when Jack’s old friend William asks him to accompany him to Dasar to do research on the possibility of the former Dasar king’s coffin levitating, Jack and William soon find themselves in a major jam, once that causes Jack to fall in the river unconscious.

Rescued by local Samantha, Jack soon learns that he is somehow been drawn to his past life as Meng Yi and it channels him to the present day. Meanwhile, William learns that an old colleague, Professor Koo, was the one who funded the Dasar project because Koo is after something very vital, the Immortality Pill. Despite Jack’s eventual knowledge of the location of the former royal masoleum, Koo intends to find the Immortality Pill, even if it mean William finds himself betraying his own friend due to his greed. However, when Jack does find the location, he is in for a major surprise. One that could change the course of his life forever.

Many may feel that Stanley Tong may not be an exciting choice to work with when it comes to Jackie Chan. Despite a strong first collaboration with Police Story III: Supercop subsequent collaborations such as Rumble in the Bronx and First Strike tend to be not too popular amongst fans. However, this film, which brings the duo of stunt experts together again, is actually not as bad as some of their earlier films together.

This is truly one of those films you must see from beginning to end to understand the story, which was conceived by Tong. Jackie Chan pulls off dual roles in the film, first playing a Qing Dynasty general who finds himself admired and ultimately loved by a Korean princess who is to be one of the Emperor’s concubine. The scenes with Korean actress Kim Hee-Seon are quite delightful and at times, very emotional due to their pretty good chemistry.

The second role is that of Dr. Jack Chan, the protagonist who while doing a favor to longtime friend William, played by Tony Leung Ka-Fai, finds himself connected with his past life. Here, Chan gets assistance from Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat, who plays the very able bodied Samantha, whose uncle in the film is the head of the Dasar martial arts school. The contrast between Jack and Meng Yi lies in the fact that Jack seems a more likable guy who loves his job as an archaeologist while Meng Yi is a hard headed warrior who sticks to his mission despite eventually showcasing his feelings for the princess turned concubine Ok-Soo.

Another contrast is the distinction of the fighting styles between Jack and Meng Yi. Jackie Chan, Stanley Tong, and Chan’s former classmate Richard Hung (Yuen Tak) choreographed the film’s action sequences. The scenes involving Meng Yi involve more weapons filled work seen in many period action films while Jack’s first few fights are what you would expect from Jackie: a highlighted combination of frenetic action and comic relief. While many will wonder about the film’s climactic fight involving zero gravity, that alone brings a bit of comic relief and it is great to see Jackie Chan Stunt Team members such as Ken Low, Park Hyun-Jin, and He Jun alongside the likes of Japanese actor Hiro Hayama amongst others.

The Myth is not a great film, but it is not a bad film either. You just will not want to miss anything to get the film.

WFG RATING: B-

DVD