The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A look at the side of WW2 that does not get shown often, which is full of moments that overwhelm you but also full of awkwardness.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰). Image Credit: CMC.

Review

If there is one conflict that has been extensively explored on screen, it is World War Two. Indeed in 2017, we got three different films that explored Dunkirk. Even with all of this coverage, there are still aspects of WWII that have not received the same attention. One of those aspects is the Chinese front which is where our film is set. It started years before the main war and went on to the very end, but we don’t explore it nearly enough. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to change this, and a film backed by the juggernauts of Tencent and Alibaba.

So to set the scene, we open with the collapse of the front lines of the National Revolutionary Army during The Battle of Shanghai. With the Imperial Japanese Army taking the outskirt town of Dachang the city has been lost. However, there is still hope in the retreat. The Revolutionary Army decides to leave a small contingent of troops behind at Sihang Warehouse led by Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun). They aim to stall the Imperial Army long enough to allow for the retreat of the rest of the army. The second aim is to be an example to the Western powers that have not yet picked a side. This is because the Warehouse is situated right next to the International Settlement in Shanghai, so for one brief moment, the whole world is focused on them. Now because this is a film based on a real event, we will be discussing parts of the plot in a little more depth than we usually would, so please be careful as there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Abominable

TL;DR – A truly charming film from start to finish.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There are some pictures during the credits that tell a story.

Abominable. Image Credit: Universal.

Review


Films targeted at children often have a perception that they are of lower quality than other forms of cinema. Indeed some of the trailers for upcoming films I watched before this backed that assessment up. But every now and again a film casts off those assertions and shows that if you focus on quality it should not matter whom your target audience is. Well, today we get just such a film, as we explore a monster on the run through China.

So to set the scene, we open in a laboratory in Shanghai scared and alone and not knowing where we are. After hearing Dr Zara’s (Sarah Paulson) intentions for us we flee captivity and that is when you discover the animal fleeing is a yeti. Everest (Joseph Izzo) flees into the city and tries to hide after being hit by a truck only to end up on the roof of Yi’s (Chloe Bennet) apartment complex. Yi is focusing all her life on doing odd jobs so she can earn enough money to go on a tour of China her dad always promised to take her on. But when she finds the injured Everest there is only one thing on her mind, getting him to his home.

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Movie Review – Pegasus (Fei Chi Ren Sheng, 飞驰人生)

TL;DR – An exploration of what it means to come back from nothing, good at times, but always held back a little bit from being great    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Pegasus (Fei Chi Ren Sheng, 飞驰人生). Image Credit: CMC Pictures.

Review

I am and always will be a sucker for a good redemption story, where someone comes back from nothing only to triumph. Today we get to explore this idea through the lens of professional racing. Which is always good because at the very least you will get some good car scenes throughout. However, while Pegasus is an interesting film, it is always holding itself back just that little bit more than it should have.

So to set the scene, Zhang Chi (Shen Teng) was one of if not the best rally car driver in all of China. However, one day he decided to take part in an illegal street race that was intercepted by the police. Five years later after serving a suspension, and having to sell everything to pay off his debts, he is a free man. He wants to get back behind the wheel and reclaim his championship for his son but in those five years the game has changed and there is a whole patch of new young drivers.  

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Movie Review – The Meg (2018)

TL;DR –  A film that knows how to be a bit silly while still playing it mostly straight about a shark that suddenly not extinct.   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Meg. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Review

Last year there was a film that came out about a killer shark destroying the world, and not just a shark but a megalodon. I wanted to go see it, but the timing never worked out and I think I was going through Jurassic World fatigue at the same time. Well, this week with the release of Godzilla and after playing Sea of Thieves I had been interested to give it a look and what would you know the very day I was pondering The Meg popped up on Netflix. Well never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I knew now was the best time to check it out and wow, it did not disappoint.

So to set the scene, off the shore of China a billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) has built Mana One a purpose built deep ocean observatory. Its goal is to study the life in the oceans around the Mariana Trench but to also investigate a theory of chief scientist Zhang (Winston Chao). He believes that the trench is actually deeper and there is a layer of cold water creating a thermocline (barrier) protecting an undisturbed ecosystem underneath. So they send down Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka), and The Wall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) in a submarine and lo and behold Zhang was right. However, just as they start to explore this new region they are attacked by something large and fast, sending them crashing into the ocean floor. With time being on the line and few people qualified they call in Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) a rescue diver who is now out of the game after a rescue went wrong and people blamed him for the deaths of his team.

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Movie Review – The Wandering Earth (Liúlàng Dìqiú, 流浪地球)

TL;DR –  At its core is an interesting idea, however, it is populated by the most unlikable characters in cinema at the moment  

Score – 1.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Wandering Earth. Image Credit: China Film Company Limited

Review

If you have read any of my reviews you will know I am a fan of Science Fiction. I love exploring the future and what it could be, I love interesting ideas and concepts, and I love the idea of exploring the universe. Today’s movie The Wandering Earth out of China does all of that and more. However as I walked out of the cinema I was not elated, instead, frankly, I was disappointed in how someone could squander such a good idea.

So to set the scene, at some point in the near future the Sun decides that it is ready to turn into a red giant now rather than billions of years from now and humanity has a choice. They can sit there and die as the Sun expands, or they can do something about it. They choose the latter and build hundreds of engines across the planet so that they can move the Earth to the Alpha Centauri system. To make sure nothing goes wrong they build a large space station that travels ahead of Earth to warn them of any danger. The one threat is that before they leave the Solar System they need to perform a gravity assist boost around Jupiter, but then it seems that Jupiter was not ready to let go. As all of this is happening Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing) the senior astronaut on the Space Station has to watch helplessly as his son Liu Qi (Qu Chuxiao), father-in-law Han Zi’ang (Ng Man-tat), and adopted daughter Han Duoduo (Zhao Jinmai) are caught outside in the emergency and are marshalled into helping the Earth stave off disaster.

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TV Review – Ultimate Beastmaster: Season 2 (No Surrender)

TL;DR – The second outing is a much more streamlined production, learning from the mistakes from the first season, but falls a bit in its casting.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Ultimate Beastmaster Season 2

Review

So at the start of the year a small little gem dropped on Netflix called Ultimate Beastmaster, a show clearly inspired by Ninja Warrior but with a big twist. This time around it was a multi-national competition with competitors and hosts from six different countries, with each country getting a different final cut. Some hailed it as the beginning for a new age of global television, I wouldn’t go that far, but it was a nifty concept. Well, it is the end of the year and Netflix has given us a little end of year surprise with Season 2 dropping much earlier than I expected it to. So today we are going to take a look at the highs and lows of Season 2 of Ultimate Beastmaster.

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Movie Review – Chasing the Dragon (Zhuī Lóng, 追龍)

TL;DR – Donnie Yen and Andy Lau are both amazing actors, and I just wish they had been given a better movie to show their talents in.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene

Chasing the Dragon. Image Credit; Mega-Vision Project.

Review

I knew nothing about Chasing the Dragon before going to see it other than it was set in 1960s Hong Kong. This was a really interesting time for Hong Kong, and so I thought it would be a great setting for a film. However, to be honest right from the start I did not enjoy Chasing the Dragon at all, I mean it is not that all films have to be enjoyable, but they should at least be captivating. Now I don’t like ragging on something that people have clearly put a lot of work into, but it is a film that has a lot of flaws, unfortunately. So today we’ll look at what went wrong, but also the highpoints as there are some throughout the film.

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Map-It: Civilization VI Cities (Base Game up to the South East Asia DLC)

TL;DR – Today we chart out the Civilization VI City List in Map form

Civ banner

Article

So today I continue with my Map-It series by following up on our Civilization Map-It project by this time looking at the city lists of each civ.  It was originally my aim to have all the cities on the big map, but after trying that out with just America it quickly became apparent that it would be hard to read and would clutter an already full map, and this is not taking into account the same city might appear on many different city lists. However, after a while I continued to want to see how the city lists come together and how they play out in geographical space so I decided you didn’t need to put them all on the one map, I could create an individual map for each civilization. Now naïvely I just assumed that I could just cut out the civilization maps from my big map, do a little touch up in places and go for it. Well … that was not the case, with most maps needing to be recreated from the ground up. Now pf course past me was a real pain for present me, but the lure of maps was too strong so here we are with every civilization’s city lists mapped out. Now before we start, I just want to point out that these city locations are not meant to be pinpoint accurate, the groupings and questionable locations of some cities make that impossible. Just think of this more of a general guide of where they are located.  Also for our mobile guests, there will be a lot of images incoming, so even though I have tried to keep them small, now would be a good time to check that you are using wi-fi and not data

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Movie Review – The Adventurers (Xiá Dào Lián Méng, 俠盜聯盟)

TL;DR – Take Bond, True Lies & Oceans 11, add a strong Chinese sensibility, and a dash of French for good measure.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene

The Adventurers (Xiá Dào Lián Méng, 俠盜聯盟). Image Credit: IM Global.

Review

Ah betrayal, nothing motivates a protagonist more than trying to find out who betrayed him and left him for dead in prison for five years. Indeed, this is at the heart of what makes The Adventurers work as it blends the gadget work of James Bond, with the camp absurdity of True Lies, and the best heisting from the Ocean’s 11 series, and somehow it all works. Indeed, this is the second heist film that we have had this month with Logan Lucky (review) also in cinemas, and I have to say I liked The Adventurers better.

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Movie Review – Wolf Warriors 2 (Zhan Lang 2, 战狼2)

TL;DR – Wolf Warriors 2 brings Chinese propaganda films into the 21st century, however, it fails in presenting a solid story and in the production of many of its effects.

Score – 2 out of 5

P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene

Wolf Warriors 2 (Zhan Lang 2, 战狼2). Image Credit: Well Go.

Review

Well wasn’t this an interesting film, Wolf Warriors 2 is a film creating buzz across the world, and has broken box office records in its home China, so today we’re going to have a look to see if Wolf Warriors II holds up. Now before we start, I do have to make it clear that I have not seen the first film in the series, so I may have missed some of the nuances, however, the film does a good job of giving you all of the basic reminders of what happened, elite soldiers, one sacrificed themselves for the team, and there was a love interest. Which brings us to the start of the film, so let’s dive into the world of Wolf Warriors II. Now to do this we will be breaking down the production elements of the film, and then we will be looking at the story, and finally examining themes at play.

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