Thursday, September 28, 2006


By Reymundo Salao

Chev Chelios (played by Jason Statham) is a hitman who freelances for a major West-Coast syndicate, but lately, has plans to quit his job. One day, he wakes up to find that he has been injected by a Chinese poison that will kill him within an hour. Chelios has discovered that when he panics and runs amuck, he actually lengthens his life and keeps his heart from slowing down to death. With the help of a friend of his, who is a doctor, he discovers that in order to survive, he must put himself in a constant state of adrenaline. On his way to find a cure or to find the ones who did this to him, he freaks out, wreaks havoc and nasty damage to anyone who dares to stand in his way.

First of all, I'd like to clarify that CRANK is NOT a sequel of “The Transporter” series. The morons who released this (possibly not just here in the Philippines) just tweaked the posters that they distributed so as to use "The Transporter" movie as a vehicle to market this film. But right here from the top, I'd say that CRANK is very far high up better than "The Transporter"

CRANK has a very unique plot that requires its protagonist (anti-hero) to just go nuts in a way that makes Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs look like well-behaved nun. Statham's character is very amusing in a dark-violent and comical kind of way, as he crosses the lines of action heroism to produce this very irreverent diehard hero. The film is the feature-film debut of screenwriters and directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who obviously has made one heck of an adrenaline-rush movie for a first big project. These guys definitely have a greater future ahead of them.

The film is relentless, reckless, and fast-paced. Oftentimes, you miss the details of the subplots, but then again, the highlight of this movie is its innovative theme, that of a race against death. You miss out understanding why his enemies want him dead, you miss out who's betraying who and why; because you’re just there to find out if Chev will survive the poison that's killing him.

Of course, you can’t compare CRANK to serious action flicks such as "Man on Fire" or "Ronin". CRANK has more of a "violent video game" feel, in a very Guy Ritchie format (Guy Ritchie is known for his 2 big slick gangster flicks "Snatch" & "Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels"). There are action sequences in this movie that may defy reason, but nonetheless, fun and fits the mood of the film. Aside from the action scenes, the overall visuals of the movie are outstanding. It has very innovative stylized cinematographic shots that seem more close to artsy than commercial action flick. This movie utilizes all the visual tweaks and effects enough to highlight that acidly toxic, sometimes cartoonish atmosphere of the film's storyline.

Having played slick roles in movies such as "Snatch", "Mean Machine", and of course, who could miss him as the hero of "Transporter? ...Jason Statham is fast becoming an actor that is marked for mean action movies. He has found himself in a position where he's now identified with being a cool underworld character. And indeed, Statham's skills isn’t bullcrap that high-brow critics can just underestimate. Statham's got skills that make him fit naturally in his roles. The film also stars Efren Ramirez, who is best known to play Pedro in the phenomenal (although not released locally) "Napoleon Dynamite" and former country singer Dwight Yoakam (who was last seen as a creepy villain in "Bandidas". And of course, also in the movie is the very lovely Amy Smart, with special participation of her melons.

PARENTAL ADVISORY...mild-mannered folks might think of CRANK to be a horrifying movie of anarchic chaos, having a really strong sense of violence and hard-edged action. But the violence here is done in a semi-slapstick-action kind of way that, generally, only hot-blooded guys could appreciate. There are no tender moments of love and mush; but there is a doggy-style scene that is as morally offensive as it is cheer-worthy. With that said, I don’t have to remind you irresponsible parents to NOT bring your underage children in such an adult-oriented film such as this. I mean, there are nipples, buttcheeks, and even BJ sequences in this flick. You'd be moral morons to bring a child to such a deliciously vicious and vivacious movie. So if you Nays and Tays are out with your kids for a movie, go watch "Zoom" instead.

CRANK is the ultimate GUY Flick. A macho, sick bonanza of gunshots, mean fights and horny chicks, a world of crazy crazy action, I love it. CRANK is not for serious viewing, neither is it much of a date movie, not unless you want your GF to complain about the movie as much as you would complain about letting her drag you to watch that awful Sam Milby movie. CRANK is the kind of movie that you would definitely enjoy with your buddies, maybe if you could slip in beers and peanuts inside the theater, it would make a perfect cinematic combination.


I will be out of town this weekend, so I wont be having any reviews, despite the fact that there are cool flicks showing this week. I wont be leaving you this week for nothing; I’ll be giving you a preview of what’s new this week…

- Synopsis: Chev Chelios is about to begin his morning with an unexpected wake-up call. Groggy, practically unable to move and with a heart that's barely beating, he hears the voice of thug Ricky Verona, who reveals Chev has been poisoned in his sleep and only has an hour to live. As it turns out, Chev is a hit man who freelances for a major West Coast syndicate. A run of the mill job the night before instead went awry: he let his target slip away in an effort to quit professional killing and start a new life with his girlfriend Eve. Now, Chev must keep moving to stay alive: the only way to prolong the poison from stopping his heart is to keep his adrenaline flowing. As the clock ticks, Chelios cuts a swath through the streets of Los Angeles, wreaking havoc on those who dare stand in his way. He must rescue Eve from danger, stay two steps ahead of his nemeses and search for an antidote to save his own life.
- Critical Consensus: CRANK received a fairly balanced critical consensus among critics worldwide, citing it as one very intense action-thriller, on the other hand, it seems to have disappointed some other critics, who may just have been non-action movie fans.
- Personal Take: Ever since Jason Statham has taken on a slick underworld character in Guy Ritchie's SNATCH and has later established himself as an action hero in the Transporter, and after other cool roles in movies such as in MEAN MACHINE, it is hard to just underestimate Statham's movies (well, except for the awful kung-fu sci-fi "The One").

CRANK has a somewhat unique storyline for an action film, that could possibly go down in action movie history. I have faith in such a film, ESPECIALLY if you’re an action film director
- Overall: For hard-edged Action Junkies

- Synopsis: Out patrolling a California highway, police officer Edward Malus stops a station wagon to return a little girl's lost doll. Moments later, a runaway truck slams into the station wagon, igniting it into a fiery wreck with the mother and child trapped inside. Edwards fails to save them before the car explodes--and then spends months of his life choking down pills to get the image of their faces out of his head. But Edward is about to get a second chance. A desperate letter from his former fiancee, Willow, arrives at his home with no postmark. Willow came into his life and left just as unexpectedly years before. But now, her daughter Rowan has gone missing, and Edward is the only person she trusts to help relocate her. She asks him to come to her home on a private island--Summersisle--a place with its own traditions where people observe a forgotten way of life. Edward seizes the opportunity to make his life right again, and soon finds himself on a seaplane bound for the islands of the Pacific Northwest. But nothing is what it seems on isolated Summersisle, where a culture, dominated by its matriarch Sister Summersisle, is bound together by arcane traditions and a pagan festival known as "the Day of Death and Rebirth." The secretive people of Summersisle only ridicule his investigation, insisting that a child named Rowan never existed there--or if she ever did was no longer alive. But what Edward doesn't know is that Willow's plea for help has invited more into his life than a chance for redemption. In unraveling Summersisle's closely held secrets, Edward is drawn into a web of ancient traditions and murderous deceit, and each step he takes closer to the lost child brings him one step closer to the unspeakable. And one step closer to The Wicker Man.
-Critical Consensus: Critics lambaste this remake of a horror classic, with a solid thumbs down
-Personal Take: Sure, I’d want to watch this movie, the trailer has captured my interest, but i wouldnt expect too much. THE (original) WICKER MAN (1975) was a horror classic which is up there with other horror classics such as The Exorcist, and of course, it is hard to top that or even to make a satisfactory remake of it.
- Overall: It’s a horror flick but don’t expect it to be phenomenal

- Synopsis: A former superhero is called back to work to transform an unlikely group of ragtag kids into new heroes at a private academy.
-Critical Consensus
With a firm judgment and a solid thumbs down, critics all over the world have deemed this super-hero-comedy flick to be a bore.
-Personal Take
It's a superhero comedy that is not based from any existing comic book, like "Sky High" but then again, this comedy does promise to have the innovative humor of "Sky High". It wasn’t also marketed well, which is a reason why there isn’t much interest that this thing gives on me. I saw the trailer once and there was no glint of originality, add to that is the bad reviews its getting... you may want to just skip this one and watch either Wicker Man &/or Crank instead. But if you have children with you, well, they may want to watch this kiddie flick.
- Overall: Treat it as a family movie; the kind you bring your kids to

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


A Scene from Frank Miller's "300"

It already has been a while since the list of movies for this December's Metro Manila Film Festival has been announced, and THANK GOD it seems to line up projects that do not seem to be garbage-oriented as last year's MMFF. Anyway, let me do away with the bad projects and highlight the projects that I trust.

-CM Films: Mga Batang Maynila (action/comedy), starring Cesar Montano, Sunshine Cruz; director, Cesar Montano. -- Ever since I saw his work in "Panaghoy Sa Suba" I have grown a whole new trust and respect in Cesar Montano's ability as a filmmaker. I will surely watch out for this movie.

-Earth Moving Pictures: Someone Who Cares (drama/romance), director, Elwood Perez.

-JMCN Productions: Bidasari (drama), Sid Lucero and Katherine Luna; director, Mario O’Hara.

-Unitel: Inang Yaya, Maricel Soriano; director, Pablo Biglang Awa. --if there's one film company that i trust, it's UNITEL. Having a track record of being responsible for the best Pinoy films that have come out since the start of the new millenium, you can trust that Unitel is the last hope for Pinoy Film Industry Redemption (Let me exempt "Pinoy Blonde" because that was ONE Unitel movie that proved to be just plain pretentious)

-Unitel: Blockout, Robin Padilla and Iza Calzado; director, Ato Bautista. --it was in a Unitel movie that Robin had a breakthrough role in "La Visa Loca" It gave us a more mature (in terms of acting) Robin. Robin is indeed a great actor, he just needs a good project.

- Now let's move on to movie news that many of you may not have known yet; The sequel to Chris Nolan's phenomenally successful "Batman Begins" now has a title: "THE DARK KNIGHT" will see the return of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and the rest of the Batman Begins cast (who didn’t die in the last movie, except Katie Holmes who wouldn’t appear in the sequel). The villain for the Batman sequel will feature The JOKER which will be portrayed by the talented Heath Ledger, sure, he may not look the part, but with his talent, and the serious style of Chris Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT is surely something that I have high hopes for. The portrayal of the Joker will be this time, close to the comics with hints taken from the Graphic Novel "Batman: The Killing Joke" and other well-known Batman tales.

- The sequel to Fantastic Four will be entitled "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and obviously will feature the introduction of the Silver Surfer and Galactus. It sure promises to be big. Why? For you non-comic-geeks, FYI: Galactus is a character who EATS PLANETS. Dig that. Dr. Doom will be back too.

- After Paramount Pictures has fired Tom Cruise, it seems that the new actor to lead on the next installment of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies will be Brad Pitt. It seems that Paramount executives are planning to introduce a new character to lead a new team & replace the character of Ethan Hunt. But then again, I think the damage has been done, now, people think of Mission Impossible as a high octane action flick instead of a purely espionage movie that it really should be.

- Despite becoming the biggest movie failure of the year, "Superman Returns" would have a sequel, as it was announced by studio executives months ago. Executives obviously admit their fault with the failure of SR as they promise that the next movie will have "more action this time"

The Lambasting of the highly pathetic Superman Returns movie continues with such websites as and

- The director of Transporter & Unleashed (Danny the Dog) is set out to direct the next HULK movie entitled THE INCREDIBLE HULK. But it is not yet confirmed if it is going to be a sequel or a re-start of the Hulk franchise. But what is sure though is that it will feature the villain known as "Abomination" and the movie will be entitled "THE INCREDIBLE HULK" On the other hand, John Favreau will be directing the "IRON MAN" movie which is also set to be released on 2008 along with “Hulk” In addition, there are talks of future projects involving Marvel characters which include: The Sub-mariner, Nick Fury, Thor, Ant-man, & Captain America

- Another work by the master dark & gritty comicbook writer Frank Miller (Sin City) is coming to the big screen. Frank Miller’s “300” is directed by Zack Snyder, and it will be released on March 2007. Based on the epic graphic novel by Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, the Spartans’ valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller’s (Sin City) acclaimed Dark Horse graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale. Think of it as a “non-gay version of the movie Troy” This one promises to be more brutal and more sword, blood, and guts epic. Hey, if it’s Frank Miller, it’s gotta be Bloody.

- On weird movie news, Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe are in talks to make a "GLADIATOR" Sequel...HUH? Gladiator was a great movie...why would they even try to mess with a sequel which could only ruin the integrity of the first movie?! Scott & Crowe seems to have blown their own nuts off. What are they going to do? have a Maximus cyborg...Vader-style?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

By Reymundo Salao

In the dizzying world of New York fashion, where size zero is the new 2, six is the new 8, and a bad hair day can end a career, Runaway Magazine is the Holy Grail. Overseen with a finely manicured fist by Miranda Priestly--the most powerful woman in fashion--Runway is a fearsome gauntlet for anyone who wants to make it in the industry. To make Runway the fashion bible of New York and therefore the world, Miranda has let nothing stand in her way--including a long line of assistants that didn't make the cut. It's a job no self-respecting person can survive, yet it's an opportunity a million young women in New York would kill for. A stint as Miranda's assistant could blast-open the doors for recent college graduate Andy Sachs. More college drab than haute couture, she stands alone among the small army of "Clackers" on staff at Runway--superslim fashion divas clacking their stilettos down the halls of the magazine's Manhattan headquarters. But when Andy comes in for the job, it dawns on her that making it in this industry will take more than drive and determination. And her ultimate test stands before her in head-to-toe Prada. Miranda can spin the fashion world like a basketball but has a devil of a time finding and keeping a good assistant. Andy is completely wrong for the job. But she has something the rest of them don't: she refuses to fail. To become the perfect assistant, Andy will need to make herself over in Miranda's image. Soon, much to her boyfriend's dismay, she can talk the talk, walk the walk and never again confuse Dolce with Gabbana. But the more of life she sees through Miranda's eyes, the more she begins to grasp that Miranda's world is a fabulous but lonely one--and that sometimes great success depends on great sacrifice. But at what cost? (Synopsis taken from

First of all, I have not read the book from which this movie is adapted from, nor am I knowledgeable of "fashion world stuff". So, if you’re looking for a dead serious review of this movie from somebody who has read the book, then this review may not be the one for you to read. Furthermore, I must warn you that the two reasons why I watched this movie is that, first, I have not reviewed a movie for more than 2 weeks because I am just not in the mood to watch all these sucky films which have come out, and second is that I find chicks in trendy clothing to be quite a turn on (and on this movie, Anne Hathaway is just oozing with alluring vibrancy, & I’ll get back to that later)

The Devil Wears Prada is not a new story, upscale glamorous life versus real life & simple living, a tale of a lady who is about to be gobbled up by the world of fashion and glamour. But it is a story that is well told in this movie. The characters may be amusing and sometimes dark but lovable. Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly is one icy villain, ruthless but cinematically lovable, but she does not make it too comical & delivers just the right mix of acting balance that she pulls off quite a realistically dominant character. i love the ruthless, sarcastic, and witty lines by Miranda (Streep) such as (something that goes like) "please do move at such a glacial pace" Streep’s Miranda is such an iconic villain that carries almost 80% of why the movie is so good.

Anne Hathaway is damn lovable. She truly has progressed in her acting career from the Princess Diaries to Brokeback Mountain and into this fictional character of a very popular bestseller. Not only is Anne Hathaway beautiful, she is also stunning in this movie, all dressed up in stylish clothes that really fit the way she looks. Most of her shots look very poster-worthy.

Obviously, this is a chick flick. The movie is bundled up with fashion jargons, brand names, cameos from whoever-those-people-are, and a love story. The best audience for this movie may probably be fashionista-crazed females, trend-conscious gays, and guys who would be dragged by their girlfriends to watch the movie. The film, however, is not a total chick movie so much so that a guy would need subtitles for whatever's going on the screen. There is also that love story, which I'm sure guys can also relate to. At least this movie was not as chick-flick as Superman Returns, while that movie sucked with its lack of action and overall soap opera atmosphere, this movie had spunk and an alluringly lovely babe to drool over.

Despite the chick flick aura, I was never bored (perhaps because of the alluring visuals). But the movie is indeed engagingly funny, stylish, and has a great script that most would say that is as good as the book.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Local Flicks (Junkie Article)

By Reymundo Salao

They say, we must watch Tagalog movies so that we can save the Philippine movie industry from being destroyed by Piracy. Oh sure, we must watch and endure the annoyance of Kris, the tackiness of Juday, the idiocy of Bong, and the corniness of Vhong. I rarely see the two big rivaling TV companies actually advertising the really good Filipino movies, but they do excel in saturating TV airtime to advertising movie projects from the big film production companies that make really awful movies. I have realized that watching these really awful movies actually destroys the Philippine movie industry. How? Simply by promoting a very low standard of film appreciation among the masses. Big film outfits like Regal, Viva, and Seiko have long been so skilled in the art of taking the mass audience for fools. Many of the best movies they could come up are actually copycats of already-established prominent movies. Movies like “Kutob”, “Sukob”, “So Happy Together”, and among many other big Tagalog movies have been mere copies, products that prove a lack of originality, products that make us conclude that there is a great irony going on: these movies are made by the richest film outfits in the country, yet they could not afford to hire production teams, writers, and directors with ACTUAL Brains that can brew the imagination of a real filmmaker. Shame on them.

In contrast, Pinoy indie filmmakers can make marvelous movies on a shoestring budget, and they even manage to be triumphant as champions in international film festivals. Films like “Kubrador”, “Ilusyon”, “Crying Ladies”, and “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” have been champion films. But they are never hailed locally. The masses are never familiar with them. Their fame is drowned by the publicity of really bad Pinoy movies like the cheesy romance stories that have been done over and over again without a glint of originality. And indeed, many do flock to these rotten garbage movies, while we see that the really good Pinoy movies manage to attract a handful of audiences. Who’s fault is this? Well, the big production companies of course. THEY have the power; THEY have the money. Yet they continue to breed the culture of dumb film appreciation among the masses. THEY have the power to influence maturity among the movie-going public, yet they choose to continue riding on garbage. And they would do it over and over and over again for as long as the production companies continue to be morons.

Quite simply, let’s say for example, they would copy the storyline of the Korean movie “Il Mare” and make their own version which would star Dingdong and Iza. Of course, in the movie (just like in “Il Mare”) there are flashbacks, which would make half of it, a period movie. The film was a success at the box office. Then, the so-called heads would meet and say “Hey, let’s put Dingdong and Iza together in a period movie love story” thereby re-using that old formula again and again and again until somebody would probably complain “Hey! That’s the same garbage we saw last year!” But they do it anyway. They say, it’s all about money. Well, if that’s the case, then, thank God for Piracy which is whipping up their asses. Of course, if you watch these awfully-made movies in the theaters, you are contributing and empowering these big production companies to continue making garbage.

You cannot really judge the people for watching these movies of theirs, because most of them cannot really tell a good movie from a bad one, and of course, some even aren’t aware that these movies have been copycats of other movies. THAT is why it is the fault of the filmmakers. You want to support the Philippine movie industry? Watch good Filipino movies. Watching BAD Tagalog movies really isn’t helping, in fact, it destroys the Philippine movie industry by breeding and cultivating bad filmmaking and promoting bad film taste among the masses.