See It Instead: The World’s End Edition
Neil Worcester – Deluxe Video Online
Sometimes a movie comes along and makes you aware of an itch you never knew you had. Perhaps a review piqued your interest, or you’d rather stay in and pay yourself $10 for a small popcorn and watch a movie on the cheap. Perhaps you’re valiantly struggling through your queue on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and need a wise, cultured voice to direct you to where the real movie viewing gold is hiding amidst the shitty ninja movies and serial killer biopics. Well, look no further. See It Instead is here to take today’s new releases and guide you to what you should really be watching.
I believe ‘Unleash the Battle’ is how you ask for a Starburst candy in Japan.
The World’s End (2013)
So, for some reason that I cannot fathom, you are unable to cough up the dough it takes to reward Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for being the best kung-fu comedy duo since Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung pretended to be a cop and mentally challenged person. So maybe that wasn’t their best effort. But Wheels on Meals was about the best movie ever made. And The World’s End is pretty darn good too. But you have a weekend to fill, and one movie won’t do. So how about I fill up your dance card. Without Kevin Bacon.
Yeah, Ignore this poster. It’s actually top notch kung-fu. And really stupid. But anywho…
The Safe Pick: Westworld (1973)
Westworld is the first movie in what would have been a trilogy (or more) had the second movie not sucked very very badly. The premise is that the future of robotics has offered us the ultimate Pirates of the Caribbean ride without an effeminate Johnny Depp. Delos robotics has created a trio of futuristic theme parks(Medieval World, West world, and Roman World), where the robots are so well developed, that you cannot tell them from humans except for the their poorly articulated hands…seems like a poor tell for robots that will be sword fighting, shooting guns, and giving hand jobs. Oh yeah, you can have sex with the robots. So Fleshlight, you are technically in breach of copyright…and several human rights violations.
A previous visitor to the park invites a neophyte to the festivities, which quickly goes sideways. Robots are developing their own initiatives, which includes Knights that hate to lose, whores that don’t particularly feel like it that night, and a gunslinger (Yul Brynner, in essentially a reprise of his Magnificent Seven role), who will absolutely shoot last. With robots going off the reservation, the technicians try to pull the plug, and only end up shutting the human control off, with the remaining robots operating off of battery power. This leaves Brynner with enough time to waste every single person he runs into, cementing his role as the baddest bald dude in the west. Despite getting shot and splashed with acid, like a T-800 he wades through all opposition till running out of juice at the last possible second. If James Cameron didn’t cite this as a reference for his Terminator series, he’s either a prodigy or lying. Yul manages to make Arnold look reasonable.
This is the first directing job by Michael Crichton, and is perhaps his best. Here’s all you need to know.
The lighthearted Pick: The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
The definitive Jackie Chan, Legend of Drunken Master was the in-title-only sequel to a largely forgettable 1978 Drunken Master. The movie centers around Wong Fei Hung, the honest but impulsive son of a traditional herbalist/doctor who cannot stand his son’s use of martial arts, even in defense of a just cause. A powerful foreign diplomat is using his embassy as the center of a smuggling ring which is stripping China of its treasured historical artifacts. Fei Hung is made aware of this by a Manchurian special agent, and the pair attempt to thwart the thefts, and Fei Hung attempts to obey his father and refrain from using Drunken Boxing, with predictable results.
Drunken Master 2 (as its known in China) features all of the spectacle and style that made Jackie Chan great. Humor and prat falls reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton blend with energetic and frantic martial arts that is so fast and beautiful you need to watch it at half speed during the fights. Chan uses his whole body and more with his Drunken Boxing style, which he practically became the patron saint of. The weapon play touches on all of the most popular Kung-fu tropes, with swords and spear work being particularly awesome. There is even excellent fight scenes involving Chan fighting with only a paper fan. And the stunts. Oh the stunts. Jackie Chan should have a shrine at every major hospital, for all of the trauma he’s endured just to be able to entertain us. Drunken Master 2 contains some of his most memorable (and dangerous) including being thrown onto a bed of actual red hot coals. And not a small bed of coals either, more like a lake of coals.
Finally, it would be a crime not to give praise to the villain’s top thug, played by Ken Lo, who almost steals the show from Chan during their fights. Lo was actually hired by Chan to be his body guard due to his amazing talent, and later became a member of his stunt team. Think on that for a minute…a guy so good he gets to protect the near un-killable Jackie Chan. His kicks are just pure beauty to watch.
Often imitated, never equaled, you owe it to yourself to See It Instead.
The Unconventional Pick: Knockaround Guys (2001)
An undercurrent in The World’s End is the frustration of just being average nobodies in a world that tells you everybody is a somebody. Knockaround Guys is the story of four friends with family ties to the mafia, who just cannot accept being pawns instead of kings. Barry Pepper, Seth Green, and Vin Diesel are the low level help to Barry’s father, a powerful mob boss. When money goes missing meant for his father, Barry calls in his friends to find it, and hopefully convince his father that they are the right material for upper echelon organized crime. Things don’t go nearly so well.
A noir comedy, several aspects of the film hue closely to more serious films such as Reservoir Dogs. In fact, the movie plays a bit like if the B team got sent in to shoot Reservoir Dogs,including the final Mexican stand-off scene. These guys are losers, and both they and audience know it. The desperation behind their Goodfellas’ posturing and joking is palpable, and by the end, you hope there is some way these guys can break even, even as you know they’re all doomed.
The subtext of the film is actually a clever meta-analysis of the careers of the main actors, and it’s obvious that they are all in on the joke too. At this point, even Diesel was a second fiddle actor, and the whole movie is a joke inside a joke about how these guys will never make the A list (they even have to fight John Malkovich, one of the kings of second tier fame, in order to impress Barry’s father, Dennis Hopper, once again, another great not-quite leading man.)
If the grind has got you down, and you feel you deserve better, you could spend some time around these guys. You haven’t got it nearly so bad.
Go ahead, try to impress this man. I dare you.