Braquo (TV series) (2009-)

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Wow! What an absolute stunning piece of television this. I could literally use every superlative in the English language to lavish praise on this show, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Jean Hugues-Anglade plays Eddy Caplan, the leader of a group of Parisian police officers, who have no qualms about stepping over the line when it is required.

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They spring into action when their colleague Max commits suicide after being mercilessly persecuted by Internal Affairs, which is headed by the slimy and borderline socio-pathic  Roland Vogel (Geoffroy Thiebaut). The team seek to do whatever it takes in clearing Max’s name, even murder. They are a team held together by a strong bond, and clearly have morals of which they never waver. They all have flaws, some which threaten to bring them down on occasion, but it’s their togetherness which carries them through.

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The action is nothing short of breathtaking. It is visceral stuff, and doesn’t skimp on the gore or sex. The acting is top notch from everyone, there is not one character I would say that lets the side down. The story-lines are equally gripping, showing that sometimes the police and criminals are more alike than either would care to admit.

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The creator of the show, Olivier Marchal, is a former police officer, so the attention to detail is second to none. It’s this meticulousness which really gets across the shows quality. I really cannot recommend this series enough. I did start watching it when it was showing on FOX. I am now on season 3 which was graciously provided by the wonderful folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. Season 1 and 2 are available to buy now and season 3 is available to pre-order now, due for release on July 21st. It is a show I highly recommend. If you are a fan of The Wire or The Shield, then you will absolutely love Braquo.

5/5

JM

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Sparks (2013)

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Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson) has never felt normal. But he has always had a strong sense of justice. After his parents die, Ian takes on the mantle of Sparks, and becomes a masked vigilante hell bent on ridding the city of crime. However it will come at a price. As sometimes it turns out that the hunter is actually the hunted, something the leading villains of the city will make Ian Sparks all too aware of.

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However Sparks is not alone in his battle against the scum of the city. He teams up with Lady Heavenly (Ashley Bell), another masked vigilante that has her own reasons for wanting to rid the city of evil. Sparks also has a guardian angel called Archer (Clancy Brown), who has been watching Sparks for years, waiting for the right time to come out and show Sparks his true potential. All culminating in a brutal and bloody battle for the soul of the city.

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You know I was pleasantly surprised with this one, and that’s the truth. I had heard nothing about the film, but I loved Chase Williamson in John Dies At The End and I’ve always been a fan of Clancy Brown who is a great character actor, so was eager to see how they fare here. I must say they do very well. The film as a noir-ish feel to it, very reminiscent of Sin City. The violence is bone crunching and the script a lot better than most of the rubbish that gets sent straight to DVD.

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The supporting cast of Jake Busey, William Katt and Clint Howard also play their parts really well. The camera work can be a little off at times and the blue screen effects do feel a little weak, but for something that was done on a relatively low budget, it really isn’t that bad. I would say it’s well worth a watch.

3/5

JM

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Escape Plan (2013)

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Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his business partner Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio) run a company which tests prisons all across America. Ray is put into various prisons and exposes their weaknesses and escapes, thus helping future prisons to be designed so that they are escape proof. Ray is asked by the CIA to test out a new super max prison. The prison is designed to hold the most dangerous terrorists still waiting to be interrogated by the government.

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Ray agrees to take the job,and within a day is bound and gagged to be transported to the new prison. There Ray meets the sadistic Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), who duly informs Ray that he will not be leaving the prison. Ray is told that someone has paid good money to ensure he never sees the light of day again. Whilst in prison, Ray meets a man called Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who tells Ray that Hobbes has been keeping him in prison as Rottmayer has information on the whereabouts of someone who could rock the financial world.

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Together Ray and Rottmayer hatch a plan to escape the prison. Seeking the help of other prisoners and the prison doctor, Dr. Kyrie (Sam Neill), they come up with a way to escape and bring the prison down. There are bit parts for Vinnie Jones who plays a sadistic prison guard, and also Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson who plays a computer tech, looking to help find out where Ray has been taken. The story is not nearly as ingenious as it thinks it is. It has some clever moments, like when Ray escapes the prison at the start of the movie, but for the most part it feels very tame. Arnie is still finding his feet after being out of the acting game for so long, and looks uncomfortable in some scenes. Stallone is also a bit wooden, but it’s Stallone so he gets a pass. Jim Caviezel is wonderfully as the hammy almost camp Warden Hobbes. He delivers his lines with understated menace and seems to be having a blast.

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Folks like 50 Cent and Vincent D’Onofrio feel wasted in the small roles they have, and don’t really have much to do. There is also the obligatory scene in which Arnie holds a massive machine gun, which happens so often it feels like it’s a clause in his contract. The action is so-so, but the setting means there’s not as much as you’d expect when two action titans meet. Overall however it is worth a watch, and is perfect beer and pizza fodder.

3/5

JM

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Soldier (1998)

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Todd 3465 (Kurt Russell) is the best of a group of genetically engineered soldiers, bred to kill from a very early age. He is a decorated war hero, with hundreds of kills to his name. Now…he is obsolete. A new group have soldiers have been created by the villainous Colonel Mekum (Jason Isaacs). The soldiers are led by Caine 607 (Jason Scott Lee) who is the best soldier. He is faster, stronger and meaner than Todd 3465 or any of his team. Colonel Mekum orders Todd’s superior, Church (Gary Busey), to dispose of Todd and his crew. They are all slaughtered and dumped on a planet which basically used as one big dump.

 

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However Todd does not die. He finds that the planet he is on is inhabited by friendly people just trying to survive. At first they are weary of Todd, but slowly begin to accept him. He stays with Mace (Sean Pertwee) and Sandra (Connie Nielsen) and begins to bond with their son. Colonel Mekum decides to test his new batch of soldiers on the planet where Todd was dumped. However he never banked on Todd being alive. Now Todd will show these new killers what a real soldier is.

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I really dig this film. However it got absolutely panned on release and I don’t know why. To me it’s like a futuristic version of Shane. I remember also reading that Kurt Russell had offered his fee back to Paul WS Anderson has he felt bad that the film didn’t do well. I think people expected it to be balls out action and that’s not what it is. It’s more restrained than that, showing an inhuman killer like Todd what it means to really feel and to have something worth fighting for.

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Don’t listen to the hate. Give it a watch and be prepared for a subtle story with bursts of violence. The final 3rd is one of my favourite bits in any movie. Todd is just a bad ass and to watch him teach these upstarts what it’s like to be a real soldier really is a sight to behold. Well worth a watch in my book.

4/5

JM

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Nurse Betty (2000)

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Betty Sizemore (Renee Zellweger) is a waitress at a local diner. She spends every moment she can watching her favourite soap opera and swooning over the main character Dr. David Ravell (Greg Kinnear). Betty is married to a sleazy used car salesman called Del (Aaron Eckhart). Del has been involved in a deal with some very shady people, and now two hitmen, Charlie (Morgan Freeman) and his son Wesley (Chris Rock) have come to pay him a visit.

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When Betty witnesses the brutal murder of Del at the hands of Charlie and Wesley she goes into complete shock. She then starts to imagine that Dr. Ravell is real and wants to be with her. She travels to LA in her shocked state to be with Dr. Ravell, not realising that he’s just an actor in a TV show.

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When Charlie and Wesley find out that Betty witnessed the murder, they follow her to LA knowing that she needs to be silenced. However along the way Charlie begins to develop a fascination for Betty and slowly falls for her. Also on Betty’s tail are two friends from her home town, Ballard (Pruitt Taylor-Vince) and Roy Ostery (Crispin Glover), who are worried for Betty’s state of mind. Betty’s journey for love takes some startling and humorous turns, one I thoroughly enjoyed. She meets some brilliantly outlandish people, who all fall for Betty in their own way.

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Directed by Neil LaBute this is a blackly funny movie. It is at times startlingly violent, but still has a mischievous streak running throughout it. Everyone is on top form here. Even Chris Rock who usually gets on my nerves, is good in his role as the unhinged Wesley. I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie. There are many that have never heard of it when I ask them, but they become fans in the end. It is definitely worth a watch.

4/5

JM

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The Long Goodbye (1973)

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Robert Altman brings Raymond Chandler’s private eye to life in this brilliant 70’s noir. Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) is a smart mouthed private detective in Los Angeles. He is asked by his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) to drive him down to Mexico as there are people looking for him. As Terry is Philip’s friend he does as he’s asked. However when Philip returns home, he is arrested for aiding and abetting a murderer, as Terry has been accused of murdering his wife. Philip is released from prison days later as Terry’s body is discovered in Mexico in an apparent suicide.

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Marlowe is then hired by the beautiful Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt) to find her violent alcoholic husband Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden). Then to add to Marlowe’s problems he is strong armed by a man named Marty Augustine (Mark Rydell), who seems to think Marlowe knows where his missing $350,000 dollars are. Marty said Terry had the money, and that Marlowe was the last one to see Terry, so it stands to reason that he knows where the money is. Needless to say that there is more going on than it first appears. Leading to a startling revelation and a few close calls.

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Elliot Gould absolutely steals the show as Philip Marlowe. He is mesmerising in the role, delivering his lines with a smirk on his face and a glint in his eye, he really is fantastic. The supporting cast are great too. Sterling Hayden is his usual gruff self as Roger Wade, the writer with a few demons of his own. Nina van Pallandt is great as Eileen Wade and is stunningly beautiful to boot. Mark Rydell is menacing and funny all at the same time as Marty Augustine, really getting into his role. There is also a very small cameo for a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of Augustine’s henchmen.

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This copy of The Long Goodbye was provided by the gracious folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. You can head over to their site and pick up a copy of this wonderful film now. The transfer is second to none. Arrow always bring out the best in films, and never deliver anything short of extraordinary, and they don’t put a foot wrong with this release either. It is well worth a watch for those who like a good private eye story just like the good old days. Enjoy!

4/5

JM

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Severance (2006)

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A group of work colleagues from a weapons company called Palisade Defence, are on a team building exercise in Eastern Europe. After the bus drops them off due to the road being blocked, the group decide to walk the rest of the way to the house they’ll be staying at during their trip. However they go to the old house that was used for the employees, and not the new one that they’re boss is waiting at. When they get there, the house is empty and covered in dust and mold. The group begin to settle in and explore the house.

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Things however begin to take a sinister turn, as the group realises that there is someone else out in the woods that is watching them. As they explore the house, they find that the company they work for were involved in some very dubious experiments many years before. Now the people that were experimented on want their revenge, and will do anything possible to see the whole group decimated.

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I must say I really like this movie. For me it’s Danny Dyer’s best role. Okay I know that’s not saying much but he really gives a good performance and has some hilarious lines. He’s brave when he needs to be and is consistently funny throughout. The supporting cast are great too. Laura Harris plays Maggie, who is great in the role. You also have Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Andy Nyman, who all really get into their roles.

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The action is really well put together, and there is some great gore. There are also some really funny moments, including one where Andy Nyman’s character Gordon, bakes a pie he “found” in a cupboard. I think if there are people out there that haven’t seen this film, then I highly recommend it as it’s well worth watching.

4/5

JM

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Commando (1985)

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When John Matrix’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by a group of mercenaries led by Bennett (Vernon Wells), John is faced with a race against the clock if he wants to see her alive again. John and Bennett used to be army buddies before John had Bennett kicked from the unit as he seemed to enjoy killing a bit too much. Now Bennett has joined forces with ex-president of Val Verde, Arius (Dan Hedaya). Arius was ousted from power by John and his team, and now wants John to help him stage a coup and win back his presidency.

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Bennett and his goons have kidnapped Jenny as an incentive for John to do as they say. John is escorted to the plane by Sully (David Patrick Kelly) and accompanied on the plane by another one of Bennett’s men. John kills the man he’s with and manages to decamp the plane before it takes off. He then sets his watch to the time it will take the plane to reach Val Verde. Knowing that once the dead body is discovered, word will get back to Bennett and he’ll kill Jenny.

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Assisting John in his plight, albeit reluctantly, is flight attendant Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong). Cindy is coerced by John to help him track Sully and try get some information on where they took Jenny. Using Sully, John slowly begins to track down the rest of the men, leading to a brutal and bloody showdown with Bennett and his small army.

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This movie is fucking awesome!!! I’m not overstating it. I just love it. For me it’s Arnie’s best role. He just cuts a bloody swathe through close to 100 men, and it rocks. No it’s not highly realistic. I mean the soldiers fire shots and nothing hits Arnie, yet he hits the target every time. But it’s fun. Fun because it’s just balls out action, and the sort of kick ass popcorn flick that sadly, I feel, Hollywood doesn’t make any more. It’s full of the obligatory cringe worthy one liners from Arnie. Vernon Wells is great as Bennett. He overacts big time and it’s wonderful. His costume however leaves a lot to be desired. Some dodgy porno tash, coupled with an ill fitting mesh vest and leather trousers and you have one of the least intimidating villains in history. Alyssa Milano doesn’t really have much to as Jenny, but Rae Dawn Chong is great as the whiny Cindy, who slowly warms to John.

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It’s good old friday night entertainment. Definitely one for a few beers and a pizza. Like I said they sadly don’t make movies like this any more as it’s all business with Hollywood. They would rather water shit down for teens, just to increase ticket sales, than give the people what they want. So enjoy this, and remember the good times.

3/5

JM

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D-Tox (2002)

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This was one of the movies made when Stallone was still languishing in DTV hell, before he decided to do Rocky Balboa and put a rocket up the arse of his career. That being said, I really like this movie. Sylvester Stallone plays FBI agent Jake Malloy. Jake has been chasing a serial killer that has been murdering cops for a long time. He gets close to apprehending the killer on a job but the killer gets away. By way of punishment the killer kills Jake’s wife in the same manner that he has been murdering his other victims. Jake becomes so distraught at the loss of his wife that he starts to drink heavily and then tries to commit suicide, however he is found in and time and given medical treatment.

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Jakes friend Hendricks (Charles S. Dutton) thinks it would be a good idea for Jake to get some help in overcoming his alcohol addiction and also the loss of his wife. He is sent to a rehab clinic for law enforcement officers, run by Doc (Kris Kristofferson), who tells Jake that his centre is the best place for Jake to be. However Jakes peace and tranquillity is shattered when a patient is murdered in an apparent suicide. Jake recognises the method used in the murder and realises that the killer has assumed the identity of someone at the centre, determined to cause more suffering to Jake. Jake must try and find out who the killer is before anyone else is murdered.

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I dig this movie. It is a brilliant slasher film and does a very good job of keeping the killers identity a secret. It’s quite strange to see Stallone in a movie of this ilk, but a very refreshing change too as I feel he doesn’t do enough of these movies. The supporting cast is fantastic too. You have great actors like Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Jeffrey Wright, Christopher Fulford, Courtney B. Vance and the late, great Robert Prosky.

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There are some great scares and brilliant gore. The film begins quite tense, slows down for a bit then slowly begins to ratchet up the tension again. Stallone is on top form and so is everyone else. It’s directed by Jim Gillespie who also directed ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. It’s well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it, perfect friday night chiller to watch with the lights off.

4/5

JM

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Out for Justice (1991)

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Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) is a no nonsense New York cop. When his partner Bobby Lupo (Joe Spataro) is gunned down in front of his wife and kids, Gino begins the hunt for the killer. He finds out that the killer is a someone he used to hang around with when they were kids, a man called Richie Madano (William Forsythe). Richie has become a drug crazed murderer, hell bent on causing as much destruction as possible before going out with a bang.

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Both the mafia and the police begin a hunt for Richie, however Gino is hell-bent on finding Richie first and dealing with him his own way. Gino scours every lowlife haunt that Richie could be, including a dingy bar owned by Richie’s younger brother, Vinnie Madano (Anthony DeSando). Gino terrorises the clientèle, including mafia members and drug dealers, getting into fights along the way, both with Richie’s men and other lowlife.

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Gino continues his hunt for Richie even going as far as threatening Richie’s elderly parents. However Gino finds out that there was more to the murder of Bobby Lupo than a simple murder. All culminating in a brutal and bloody showdown with Richie and his men.

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I love Steven Seagal’s earlier stuff. I find that he was doing some decent stuff right up until Glimmer Man. Then he started to believe his own hype and churn out direct to video shit where he is only shot from the waist up so you don’t see his massive gut. The guy has definitely not grown old gracefully. I mean even in Nico/Above the Law he was going bald, with a hairline like someone had his hair in a buggers grip. But watching this you remember a time when he was the ultimate bad ass, kicking seven shades out of random scum. Now he just fat, slow and a bit weird….with hair plugs. Shame really.

3/5

JM

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