It seems to me we are still an appearance motivated society. With the recent controversies concerning digitally altered photographs and racial comments in the media, one has to wonder where this obsession on a person’s looks came into our thought process. Did you know even in the most innocent of places, people will react to someone else’s looks? I saw it happen in one of my yoga classes. A large man wearing a bandanna tied around the top of his head walked into my classroom. His body bore a couple of tattoos and he had a small metal chain around his neck. The members became quiet as they tried to discreetly keep their eyes on him as he moved to a corner of the room. He did not seem to notice he was the center of everyone’s attention. It did cross my mind for a moment that maybe he was in the wrong room; however, he walked over to the pile of yoga mats and grabbed one before settling down into his spot. The windup to this story was he not only was a yoga enthusiast, he would become one of my biggest advocates. I always found it amusing when we were in the locker room and he was saying something complimentary about the class; the men within earshot would turn and take a look at him. Here was an imposing looking man who you could easily see riding off on a big ole motorcycle, dressed in leather, talking about yoga. It just goes to show you there is always something more behind the surface and this action drama would be the proof. Paul Walker (Fast & Furious franchise, Hours) played Detroit undercover policeman Damien Collier. When an advanced weapon was stolen and transported to the worst part of town, Damien would have to rely on convicted cop killer Lino, played by David Belle (The Family, District B13), to get him into the area and disarm the device. This crime picture was a remake of the French film District B13 that starred the same David Belle who was reprising his role here. I appreciated that Paul Walker’s character was not made to be an equal to Lino’s fighting skills because his were based on the Parkour training discipline. The story was attention getting, but I enjoyed the original movie more. The editing and directing were too choppy for me in this one; it felt as if I was jumping from scene to scene without getting any time to see the actors develop their characters. On the surface this looked like an exciting film but in reality there was nothing special going on here.
Ladies and gentlemen for tonight’s main attraction; oh wait, that is not right. There were very few women in the audience for this blood fest. For the couple of women seated near me I am guessing they lost a bet; one seemed more interested in her fingernails than what was on the screen. I haven’t seen so much slicing and dicing since I had to wait in line at the neighborhood delicatessen during their cold cuts holiday sale. With Quentin Tarantino as a producer, one has to know there is going to be a spirited blood bath. It was 19th century China and Jungle Village was the home to several rival clans. When word got out that a shipment of gold was to be transported through the village; mysterious individuals, mobs and assassins plotted a way to steal the gold and seize power. Rza (Repo Men, American Gangster) wrote the screenplay, directed the movie and starred as the blacksmith who was forced to make elaborate weapons for rival gangs. Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, A Beautiful Mind) was the curious Jack Knife, a man who was as comfortable with his knife as he was with his opium. And to interject a shot of estrogen into this dominant men’s club, Lucy Liu (Kill Bill Vol. 1, Charlie’s Angels) was the lethal Madam Blossom, with her bevy of poisonous beauties. The action drove the majority of this story and that was a good thing. With only Russell and Lucy doing any acting worth noting, the other characters were left portraying poor caricatures. There was a comic book flavor to this kung fu film with unsophisticated humor and sight gags. I will say some of the fight scenes were decent, but it lacked the finesse of a true martial arts master. If one is looking to see people getting the crap beat out of them in a somewhat creative way, this would be a cheap choice. Scenes with graphic violence and blood, including the movie trailer.
2 1/4 stars