Archives for March 2009 | Varied Celluloid - Page 2

Archive for March, 2009

Ip Man

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 15 - 2009
The Plot: Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a very well known martial artist in pre-war China who all in town know to be the best of their best, with his particular form of Wing Chun fist, but does not take on students in order to focus on his family. However, when the Japanese invade China and take seize of his town Ip Man finds himself in the predicament of no longer being able to feed his family. After selling off their valuables, Man is forced to work in a rock mine and turns his cheek when the Japanese come to ask for sparring partner – offering a bag of rice to the winner of any fights – as he knows that fighting in such a way is not the answer nor will it end well for those who partake. However, the offer is more legitimate than it at first might seem as several men do actually walk away with a bag of rice. However, an old friend of Ip Man’s who took on the bargain after only recently joining back up with Ip Man after being lost in the initial occupation. Ip Man’s friend as well as two others take on the general in charge of these sparring sessions, who does not take it easy on them and ends up killing Man’s friend. Now with justice on his mind, Ip Man looks to take on the Japanese in the only way he knows how.




The Review
Ever since bursting onto the main stage with his amazing performance in the second film from the Once Upon A Time In China trilogy (far from his first big role, but definitely the role that caused most Kung Fu fans to take notice), Yen struggled somewhat to find his place within the industry. Although popular and starring in quite a few vehicles that took on a decent amount of success and always remaining a fan favorite it didn’t appear that his star had really grown and started to shine only until just within these past few years. With the SPL/Flash Point series making waves here in the states, his role in Guillermo Del Toro’s take on the Blade franchise and a well received re-release of Iron Monkey into theaters have all helped launch his career as a bonafide A-Lister here in the states with the martial arts community. In much the same vein as Jet Li’s Fearless or several other recent epic martial arts films in the Hong Kong industry, Ip Man is Donnie Yen’s entrance into the big budget retelling of a legend. Ip Man, the man who helped popularize Wing Chun in the early parts of the 20th century is probably best known for his role as Bruce Lee’s first mentor. Something that all but makes him godlike amongst martial arts fans such as myself.

Although I am not familiar with Ip Man’s life story myself, aside from the basics, it becomes obvious that more than likely the film takes quite a few liberties with some of the facts in order to make a more interesting story. In the same way that Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story fabricated a lot of events in order to fill the film with many great street fights that never happened, one gets the feeling that Ip Man does much of the same. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a great film mind you! Not by a long shot. This is a Donnie Yen vehicle with the guarantee of action, a more drama oriented retelling of Ip Man’s life might be an interesting version of the story, and it has been said that Hong Kong arthouse filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai has wanted to tackle his own version of the story for a while now – although truth be told, I wouldn’t hold out for that version to be an entirely non-fiction affair either. Yen and director Wilson Yip deliver the more dazzling approach to this real life legend though, and do their best to craft a more inspirational film out of a man who has all but became a folk hero. I don’t really approve of this approach to a biographical picture, the way I see it if you’re going to cover someone’s story then you owe it to them as much as the audience to be as honest as possible and show them real events from that person’s life that ultimately formed the person they became. I still don’t approve of this particular style of creating heroes from men, but with the way Donnie crafts the Wing Chun style into such a brutally effective looking martial art that sensationalizes every fight sequence – it’s hard to stay dissapointed. Does that make me a simpleton? Maybe, but c’mon, I’m a kung fu film fan and as much drama as Yen and Yip pack into this picture at it’s heart the martial arts remains the true star.

After Yen’s incredibly impressive take on the martial arts drama with the new classics SPL and Flash Point, it seemed as if he had already made a large enough impression on martial arts cinema with his new breed of Mixed Martial Arts inspired kung fu choreography. However he does it again with Ip Man in presenting Wing Chun, a martial art usually considered more delicate but focusing upon speed and Yen does just that with his fight sequences. He brutalizes his opponents by throwing an uncountable number of punches like that of a machinegun. Although such techniques by description wouldn’t seem that effective, Yen conveys them in a manner that looks as impressively realistic as the fight scenes from his SPL films. The fight scenes in the film are simply amazing and probably THE reason to see the film, but overall it is a very solid film with a nicely plotted dramatic structure and some fine performances. It was very surprising to find Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, who many other Asian cinephiles will recognize from his work with Japanese filmmakers such as Takashi Miike and Ryuhei Kitamura – in the role as the lead villainous Japanese military leader Miura. He had a particularly great turn in Miike’s brilliant Blues Harp, but here he has a more dominating and intense role. Keeping with modern Politically Correct thinking however, his character isn’t the ruthless and morally corrupt Japanese military leader that would have been shown in film twenty years ago but is a relatively honest sportsman who respects Ip Man’s ability. Not completely unlike the Japanese karate master from Jet Li’s recent biopic Fearless, which also took a few liberties with its story. However, with Ip Man the rest of the military is shown to be as vicious as the usual assortment of character in a Hong Kong film.

The Conclusion
Ip Man isn’t a perfect movie, there’s a lot of additional melodrama and sensational plot developments that seem to take the film away from reality but as a work of martial arts cinema I can’t deny that it is a fantastic film. Although another film could very well be made on the same issue and tackle a more realistic look at this man’s life, Donnie Yen’s Ip Man is a full on martial arts film with a fresh take on fight choreography and an epic scale in terms of story. I recommend it for all martial arts fans, as I doubt it will dissapoint.



Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks Review

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 10 - 2009

Back again everybody! So, with this review, I have finally completed reviews for all of the Ilsa movies here at Varied Celluloid. Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks was my last of the series to finish, and although failing in many of the ways that the other films did as well it at least breaks free of some of the convention that the other films establish and paints Ilsa in a different light than her usual. Hope everyone is having a good one and enjoys this classic piece of sleaze!

The Review: My journey through the world of Ilsa the She Wolf comes to a close with my final review, the last of the series that I have not seen: Ilsa Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. This has been roughly a four or five year journey now, starting with Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, suffering through Ilsa: The Wicked Warden, having an ‘alright’ time with Ilsa: Tigress of Siberia and culminating here the actual second film in the series. Although I won’t lie and say that these films are really all that great, but there’s something appealing about them. Maybe it’s just Dyanne Thorne and her gigantic breasts or maybe it’s the cheesy torture sequences, it’s hard to pin down. The one thing I know for sure is that here I am, four movies in and I’m still interested in more Ilsa stories! The entire series never really deviates much from the set pattern of the first film, and Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks continues in the same vein even moreso than the other films in the series. Ilsa is here in all of her German accent speaking glory (in the desert), with another pair of twin bodyguards to protect her before she runs into an American man who knows how to give her everything she could ever want. The biggest difference this time around is the fact that Ilsa, well, she shows her softer side!

Read More Here

Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 10 - 2009
The Plot: Ilsa is back at it again with an entirely new location and an entirely different flock of young girls that she can abuse and humiliate! This time around she’s looking over a harem of lovely young ladies for an evil oil Barron who also makes a profit by selling these beautiful girls into slavery as well. Ilsa’s job, as always, is to keep the girls in check and this more times than not comes down to her torturing women for information. However, things take a turn when a young American comes into Ilsa’s life who is trying to oppose the evil oil Barron but who pleases Ilsa in ways no other man ever could. Will Ilsa give her heart over to love or will she continue along with her master’s plans and kill the American?


The Review: My journey through the world of Ilsa the She Wolf comes to a close with my final review, the last of the series that I have not seen: Ilsa Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. This has been roughly a four or five year journey now, starting with Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, suffering through Ilsa: The Wicked Warden, having an ‘alright’ time with Ilsa: Tigress of Siberia and culminating here the actual second film in the series. Although I won’t lie and say that these films are really all that great, but there’s something appealing about them. Maybe it’s just Dyanne Thorne and her gigantic breasts or maybe it’s the cheesy torture sequences, it’s hard to pin down. The one thing I know for sure is that here I am, four movies in and I’m still interested in more Ilsa stories! The entire series never really deviates much from the set pattern of the first film, and Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks continues in the same vein even moreso than the other films in the series. Ilsa is here in all of her German accent speaking glory (in the desert), with another pair of twin bodyguards to protect her before she runs into an American man who knows how to give her everything she could ever want. The biggest difference this time around is the fact that Ilsa, well, she shows her softer side!

Ilsa, the woman who shoves cattle-prod-like dildos into unsuspecting young women actually demonstrates some heart! Ilsa as she has her confrontation with love actually derails the flow of convention that the series generally has. While the film still delivers everything you expect from an Ilsa movie, it at least changes up the pace of things in a fairly dramatic way. The violence is pretty consistent although certainly not the goriest entry of the four films. The best bits of violence are usually dealt offscreen or are simply bloody rather than featuring much in the way of special FX. A memorable bit arrives when Ilsa has her two bodyguards, two beautiful ebony darlings named Velvet and Satin, demonstrate their tremendous skills in the art of combat on some poor unfortunate loser. The two women then beat and pulverize the gent until his face is almost literally hamburger. The most powerful imagery from the film however would have to be the inclusion of the sex-bomb subplot. Somehow Ilsa and her people devise a scheme to essentially impregnate a woman with a bomb that is armed by sexual penetration. during a test sequence Ilsa sets up a sex machine to act as the male, then as the woman begins to finally get into it (and god knows how she possibly could at this point as her eye has been scooped out, her breasts crushed in a vice and her leg chewed off by ants) her stomach EXPLODES. Regardless of how the film ultimately turned out, no getting past it, that’s definitely one of the best deaths throughout the entire Ilsa catalogue!

The sex doesn’t get as kinky as some of the films in the series, but it definitely gets the job done. Lots of naked ladies cavorting around, Dyanne Thorne is as lovely (and buxom) as ever and there’s even a tiny bit of girl-on-girl! We’re definitely talking about an Ilsa movie now! However, the exploitation elements may be all here but overall it just feels like another Ilsa movie because of it, and the lack of any “extreme” dimensions sort of leaves it at a cross-road within the exploitation genre. The addition of a love interest for Ilsa and the ultimate turn-around in the third act is the best thing going here in my opinion and generally saves it from being bland. I’d have to say it’s certainly not the best film of the series, but it definitely holds its own. The second and last Ilsa film from the original director Don Edmonds, he leaves on a high note by actually progressing the series somewhat, even if he didn’t take it to the perverse extremes it would later take upon in Tigress of Siberia. A film likely only for completists and exploitation aficionados, but amongst the rest of the series it’s not too terribly bad. My rating is a three out of five, about average for the Ilsa series but certainly not the worst of the bunch. It would make for a fine double feature with the original She-Wolf of the SS.

The Burning Moon Review

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 6 - 2009

Yay! I’m back with some content! I actually have a few reviews done but man this week was rough for ol’ pantsman. Food poisoning or something, but let’s just say if my stomach wasn’t doing backflips on me then I didn’t feel natural at all this week. However, I’m here with a review for a film I’ve wanted to get something written about for a long time. Olaf Ittenbach is one of those directors who gets so little press it’s a crime. All gorehounds should know the man’s name and hopefully I can contribute to that. Check out the review, and if you’re into this sort of stuff, check out the man’s work!

Also, keep on the lookout here at VC, my good friend Jon Jung who often contributes came up with the idea of a little collaborative reviewing effort for the two of us to do for some fun. The first project will be the classic Shinya Tsukamoto effort Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Should be a blast and hopefully pretty entertaining!

The Review: For a split second in time, somewhere in the midst of the nineties, Germany became one of the foremost leaders in splatter cinema. With Italy no longer having the massive film industry that they once had, Germany and a league of young men with inexpensive film equipment decided to change the horror world forever. There are three big names that come to mind when I think of this “scene”. There’s Jorg Buttergeit who took the arthouse route into becoming a horror legend with films such as Nekromantic 1, 2 and Schraam. Then there was Andreas Schnaas who took the gore auteur title to ridiculous new lengths as he crafted the brainless Violent Shit series and has made his career out of making rather silly but extremely gory horrors. The least known of these three names (although horror afficianados should know him very well by now) that comes to mind however is also one of the best; Olaf Ittenbach. Ittenbach won’t win any academy awards, much like Schnaas his films may not feature the most dynamic of performances ever put to celluloid but he sure knows how to deliver the violence. Where Schnaas tends to leave his films in tongue-in-cheek territory at all times, Ittenbach has a surge of seriousness to his films that I like. It makes his films seem more earnest at times and actually implements some of the “horror” back into the genre. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some humor to be found in films like The Burning Moon or Premutos, but Ittenbach’s primary intention is to horrify, and that he does, especially in the final sequences of The Burning Moon as he takes us on a tour of hell itself.

Read More Here

Burning Moon, The

Posted by Josh Samford On March - 6 - 2009


The Plot: Burning Moon focuses on a young rock youth in Germany who is being oppressed by the “man”. Meaning anyone older than he is or looks for him to take any kind of responsibility in life. When forced, against his will, to look after his kid sister he intends to rebel as he always does. He does so in telling two horrific tales to his sister for her bedtime stories. The first focuses on a young woman who thinks she’s the luckiest girl on the block when she lands a date with this new stud in town. However, unknown to her a day before a psycho-killer escaped a local mental ward and killed several staff members along the way. As the night goes on, it soon comes out that this young woman’s date just so happens to be the same homicidal lunatic! Will she survive this night of terror? The second story is an even more brutal tale as it tells the story of a priest who has no real interest in his own faith as he sold his soul to satan long ago and uses the cloth as a front, while he hunts down women to rape and murder on a nightly basis. However, at the same time a young man who has never really fit in with the rest of the town is being blamed for these horrible murders. He swears his innocence but the only one who will listen is the priest himself, who swears that anyone who dares hurt the boy will spend their afterlife burning and being tortured in the howling pits of hell… and believe me, this guy knows!


The Review: For a split second in time, somewhere in the midst of the nineties, Germany became one of the foremost leaders in splatter cinema. With Italy no longer having the massive film industry that they once had, Germany and a league of young men with inexpensive film equipment decided to change the horror world forever. There are three big names that come to mind when I think of this “scene”. There’s Jorg Buttergeit who took the arthouse route into becoming a horror legend with films such as Nekromantic 1, 2 and Schraam. Then there was Andreas Schnaas who took the gore auteur title to ridiculous new lengths as he crafted the brainless Violent Shit series and has made his career out of making rather silly but extremely gory horrors. The least known of these three names (although horror afficianados should know him very well by now) that comes to mind however is also one of the best; Olaf Ittenbach. Ittenbach won’t win any academy awards, much like Schnaas his films may not feature the most dynamic of performances ever put to celluloid but he sure knows how to deliver the violence. Where Schnaas tends to leave his films in tongue-in-cheek territory at all times, Ittenbach has a surge of seriousness to his films that I like. It makes his films seem more earnest at times and actually implements some of the “horror” back into the genre. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some humor to be found in films like The Burning Moon or Premutos, but Ittenbach’s primary intention is to horrify, and that he does, especially in the final sequences of The Burning Moon as he takes us on a tour of hell itself.

I’ve been sitting on Burning Moon for quite a while now, it has been sitting up there on my shelf for probably a year or so at this point – scooped up during my spree of German splatter. Right around the time I completed the majority of Andreas Schnaas’ work and a few of Ittenbach’s other films as well. For those who aren’t quite initiated into this subgenre of cinema, these films are all put together usually with the budget that a children’s production of Romeo & Juliet might share and more often than not visually you can tell this within the first five seconds. However, what sets these flicks apart from other no-budget horror you might find featuring a bunch of kids in their backyard pretending to be scared of their bro wearing a hockey mask – the gore in these films are completely off the charts. Some things look terribly disgusting, some things look ridiculously fake Still, I can’t help but find this primitive love for the genre within myself. I know a lot of people spit on these flicks with conviction and rightfully so as few times are they put together in any sort of decent manner; but they deliver the gore and dish out some of the most extreme violence of any film market known. Ittenbach’s Black Past, Burning Moon and Premutos made up a triple header of extreme gore like the world has never seen. Andreas has stuck more true to the genre but often lacks the vision that Ittenbach does and the ability to structure out his narratives to fit to his gory desires. When you watch an Ittenbach film, the gore may be extreme and excessive – but more often than not there’s a fairly strong story to solidify the content. When Schnaas is on top of his game, he can deliver a fairly decent slasher or zombie flick. When he isn’t… well, there’s still the gore! The Burning Moon, the film being reviewed today is one of Olaf Ittenbach’s ‘better’ works, meaning there’s some gore as well as a tremendous amount of violence (ie; stabbings and beatings). No one is spared, as women are butchered, kids are maimed and old ladies have their fingers lopped off and their throats slit. This is just that sort of flick I suppose, so know what you’re getting into before hand. The work of Ittenbach isn’t going to be for every viewer – not even most horror fans.

The Burning Moon is Ittenbach’s take on the compilation horror, such as in Tales From the Darkside The Movie, Trilogy of Terror or Twilight Zone: The Movie. Made popular in the eighties and with the tradition slowly dying out during the nineties, I suppose Ittenbach found himself as a fan wanting to try his hand at crafting his own version of this stories within a story concept. Only, you know, with about a thousand times more bodily disfigurement. The writing probably isn’t anything to write home about in this one, the story is crafted enough that we get to all of the bloody horrors that we could want to see and there’s actually some sentimental value that comes about at the very end of the film but the film works best as a display for just how vulgar and disturbing Ittenbach’s work can get. Although not as out-and-out gory as his later Premutos, the hell sequence within Burning Moon features some of the most disgusting and memorable gore FX of his entire career. Truly, it’s some of the sickest stuff of all time. It’s hard to go into it without spoiling the really “good” stuff, but you can expect the regular decapitations, eyeball gore, gut-munching and full bodily dismemberments – just to list the more pleasant things going on in this roughly ten minute experience. The sequences that tie the stories together, focusing on the youth rocker who doesn’t want to babysit his kid sister, tend to slow the film down more than anything. For inpatient audiences I suspect these bits are the ones that will give them the most trouble. However, if you are a “full picture” kind of viewer like me, you’ll be able to digest how Ittenbach takes his time in setting up all of the violence with at least some semblance of a meaning. This is what endears me to him more than someone like Schnaas, who’s films can sometimes be just a little too silly to really enjoy.

As crazy as it may be, and if you’ve seen the film and you’re a regular horror fan you may just agree that I have indeed went bonkers, I have to give the film a relatively high rating. For the following reasons: it is overall an entertaining piece of splatter cinema and you get more than what you pay for. It does have a story that actually works for the most part. Although it’s hard to do it, Ittenbach’s “look” for the film is better than his average for this period in his career (there was at least an attempt at keeping the lighting atmospheric). It’s entertaining! What can I say, I’m a cheap date. Throw me a few buckets of gory violence and I’m putty in your hands. I warn regular horror fans however, if you’re uninitiated you’ll probably walk into this with disgust and leave with the same opinion. It’s a cheaply made, cheap looking horror film made outside of any “industry” with the intention of showing off as many gory special FX as possible. Gorehounds need apply, everyone else – don’t go out of your way to spend a lot of money tracking it down.



NAVIGATION

VIDEO

TAGS

Sponsors

About Me

Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

Twitter

    Photos