Censor


Viewed – 02 October 2021 online rental

Enid, a woman working for a British censorship board in the early eighties discovers a movie that strongly resembles her own childhood memories of when her younger sister disappeared. So begins an investigation into the movie and it’s mysterious Director, as the boundaries between reality and the movie start to blur.

Video nasty…

This British horror has a great initial concept, and explores a time in the U.K. when many violent or gruesome movies were getting banned as well as occasionally linked to real life crimes. This explores that period, which delivered movies that went onto become classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However the viewpoint here is one dimensional, with that era of horror being looked at as sleazy and only worthy of disdain. It generally works in the context of the story however and the mystery surrounding Enid’s sister is an interesting one.

Shame then that any mystery or investigation is soon discarded in favour of increasingly surreal imagery and a focus of Enid potentially losing her mind. Visually this echoes the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, especially in the more nightmarish sequences, and is on a whole imaginatively filmed. Niamh Algar as Enid proved compelling with one bit towards the end particularly heart-breaking. Just a shame then the movie lacked closure, at times felt rushed and kind of disappeared up its own ass. Worth a look for its visuals and its lead actress, but ultimately disappointing.

Verdict: Poor

Drunken Master


Viewed – 01 August 2021 Blu-ray

As a fan of Jackie Chan, you’d think I’d have seen the movie that had a hand in launching him as a bankable star, after years under the shadow of Bruce Lee. Yet I’d never got around to it until now. This 1978 Kung-fu comedy has Chan as ‘Wong Fei Hung’ (the same Chinese folk hero played by Jet Li in Once Upon a Time In China), who as a martial arts student gets disgraced and thrown out of his school after bad behaviour. Soon he comes under the guidance of ‘Beggar Po’, a drunken master who teaches Chan a secret style of Kung Fu, leading him to face a hired killer who threatens his former master.

This energetic, knock about action-comedy is a lot of fun. There is a fight nearly every scene, and they’re all shot expertly and brilliantly choreographed showcasing genuine skill, ability and invention. The story may be simple but this benefits a movie with such a focus on fight after fight, and with famed kicker Hwang Jang-Lee as the central villain, I was having a ball.

The comedy is at times juvenile and only mildly amusing and sometimes can fall flat. Yet with some great martial arts on display, Chan proving a likeable lead and a simple story that just flows … I had a great time with this.

The Blu-Ray from Eureka’s Masters Of Cinema collection boasts a very sharp image that’s nicely detailed. The audio however in mono DTS Master Audio is rather basic with slightly echoey dialogue – but it’s clear enough. Extras include several interviews, one with Jackie Chan himself. There’s also a detailed booklet, commentary, a deleted scene and a trailer. Not too bad.

Verdict:

(the movie) Recommended

(the Blu-Ray) Good

Operation Condor


Viewed – 03 April 2021 Blu-ray

Armour of God II

I’ve been a fan of Jackie Chan for years. Recently I’ve been collecting some of his movies newly released on Blu-ray. However I’ll admit to being a little underwhelmed by certain movies that seem more about knockabout comedy and story than the action and stunt work that’s made him famous. However this release from 1991, a follow up to his famed Amour of God – feels to me like the definitive Chan experience. Chan plays adventurer ‘Condor’ who is given the job of travelling to the African desert to locate some buried gold left over from World War II. Along the way he gathers a trio of female friends who aid him in his mission, followed by murderous thugs out to steel the gold for themselves.

The story is nothing special and kind of nonsensical at times but it’s the pacing and energy that grabbed me. It jumps quickly from chases to fights to stunts to a climactic battle in an underground base, with barely a breather. Add to this Chan’s usual brand of character comedy, fun dialogue, awkwardness and slapstick … and this was just a riot of fun. This time the story, comedy and action all feel intertwined perfectly with no one element out staying it’s welcome. The three actresses making up Chan’s fellow adventurers all had their own personalities and were a lot of fun. Sometimes Chan comes off as a bit of a womaniser but no more than a dozen Bond movies – which this clearly borrows from along with obviously Indiana Jones.

The climactic fight in the underground base is classic Chan and features some of his best work – especially the sequence inside a wind tunnel. Fantastic stuff. One of Chan’s most consistently entertaining movies.

The Blu-ray I picked up from 88 Films is probably the best the movie has ever looked, boasting a new 2k restoration. There are two cuts of the movie here, the Hong Kong theatrical cut with a soundtrack in either 2.0 Cantonese or original mono dubbed. This version also has a commentary by Hong Kong cinema expert Mike Leeder and film maker Arne Venema. I watched the extended cut which is only available in Cantonese with subtitles. There is also a trailer and an interview with martial artists Bruce Fontaine. Unlike other 88 Films releases there’s no booklet but otherwise this is pretty decent.

Verdict:

(the movie) Recomended

(The Blu-ray) Recommended

To disturb… a top ten list.


Although from this list you’ll see I have seen my fair share of disturbing movies, I still haven’t seen some of those other big names like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ or ‘Salo’, and probably never will. Yet what disturbs is subjective and a few titles here some may think are fairly lightweight. However below I count down the ten movies that have disturbed me the most.

10.

Creep

(2004, Director: Christopher Smith)

9.

Midsommar

(2019, Director: Ari Aster)

8.

Audition

(2001, Director: Takeshi Miike)

7.

Eden Lake

(2008, Director: James Watkins)

6.

Scum

(1979, Director: Alan Clark)

5.

Funny Games

(1997, Director: Michael Haneke)

4.

The House That Jack Built

(2018, Director: Lara Avon Trier)

3.

The Snowtown Murders

(2011, Director: Justin Kurzel)

2.

Martyrs

(2008, Director: Pascal Laugier)

1.

Irreversible

(2002, Director: Gaspar Noe)

There you have it. If you have the temperament for it, there’s something to recommend about each of these movies and I think their power to disturb is in their powerful, intense tones and unflinching brutality. Often this is aided by very strong performances, or raw, convincing direction. Whatever it is they all got under my skin and have stayed there.

The Snowtown Murders


Viewed – 13 March 2021 online rental

Aka ‘Snowtown’

Yeah I’ll admit it, I kinda like seeking out disturbing movies. I suppose I like to push my boundaries, and I’ve seen some seriously disturbing movies over the years. This one, from Australia tells the true story of one of the country’s worst serial killers. We are thrown into the lives of a family in a rundown suburban neighbourhood where the mother has a boyfriend who is sexually abusing the kids. He’s soon kicked out and the mother befriends a local man, John Bunting who rallies the neighbourhood together to discuss sorting out their peaedophile problem. Before long he’s convincing people to terrorise the offenders out of their homes. However scaring them off isn’t enough for this guy and soon he’s kidnapping, torturing and eventually killing. Yet his hatred of sex offenders isn’t enough and quickly he begins targeting anyone he doesn’t like the look of, including gays or drug addicts.

Murder in the suburbs…

This is disturbing for sure, shot in a bleak fly on the wall ultra-real style that makes it very convincing. Although 90% of the murders are off screen, the movie conveys the horrors with reactions from those involved and the playback of tape recordings of each victim to tell their families they’re leaving or running away. One such scene, in a bathroom was really hard to watch due to its unflinching brutality, so I’m kind of glad the other murders were not shown.

That being said it was easy to lose track of who was getting killed and who wasn’t. One victim looked quite similar to another guy at one stage that when that other guy turned up it threw me. Daniele Henshaw as John Bunting is charismatically unnerving, although most of the other cast were just ‘there’. Lucas Pittaway as Jamie Vlassakis didn’t say much but at least conveyed a great deal in his eyes. As a moment-in-time snapshot of the real life case, this doesn’t go into the investigation nor do you see anyone get caught, but regardless this was still effective and thoroughly unpleasant viewing. One for those that are into this kind of movie only.

Verdict: Good