In Brick Mansions

Paul Walker was best known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise. Most fans didn’t take the time to catch his dramatic work choosing to enjoy the fast paced and fun world of street racing. Brick Mansions is in this similar vein and is extra special because this was Walker’s last completed work before his tragic death last year.

Brick Mansion takes place in the near future after the worst part of Detroit has been bricked off from the rest of the city. The government thinks that violence and crime cannot be regulated and they leave the citizens to fend for themselves. These citizens include Lino an immigrant who best talent is jacking drugs and jumping through small spaces.  He is trying to bring some justice against Tremaine Alexander the drug-selling, gun0running “leader” of Brick Mansions but this lands him in jail after his girlfriend is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Damien (Walker), a cop with a chip on his shoulder, is eager to get into Brick Mansion to seek vengeance for his father’s death and jumps at a suicide mission that is aimed at taking down Tremaine. The only catch? He must pair up with Lino who can get him around the decrepit city.

Luc Besson wrote the script based on the screen play of his French film Banlieve 13. He also brings in other collaborators. Camille Delamarre, a long time editor for the producer/director, steps into the director’s chair orchestrating jumpy fight scenes. David Belle reprised his role from the original which explains the most obviously overdubbed dialogue since Jackie Chan’s first English films. Belle, actor and stunt man does well with the fighting sequences but not the emotional aspects of acting. Delamarre is m-112bbm4328rv1jpg-e32547opposite slowing the shots down to capture the emotional aspects of the characters.

Never the less, this movie is just plain fun. While there is some philosophical ideas of race, poverty, and government the movies doesn’t focus on these. Instead, it puts the hand to hand combat at the front and watching Belle and Walker work off each other is frantic fun. It’s similar to RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fist, it may not be a great movie but viewers enjoy it and are able to get out of their reality for a couple of hours.

Would I like this movie as much is someone else (say Jason Statham) was in it? Not really. The movie works because viewers believe Walker as the character and can tell he had so much fun in making it. And, yes; there is a bitter sweet happiness to watching his final completed film. Luckily, I didn’t cry until the dedication at the end.

Brick Mansions doesn’t get overly preachy and is much better than Besson’s Three Days to Kill. If you’re an action fan or a fan of the late Walker, this is a must see for a good time.

 

 

Fun with Kung Fu

It is rare when a movie finds a sense of balance between satire and a stand alone film. Many films are complete spoofs while movies like Galaxy Quest tell its own story while picking fun at a timeless classic. The Man with the Iron Fists manages to walk along the same line. It gives you best of the kung fu action world while happily making fun of itself the entire time.

This is no Kung Pow. This feature is the love child of RZA. Staring, co-written and directed by the man, it gained the attention of Quentin Tarantino. And it stars big names like Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe because of the dazzling fight scenes and raunchy humor.

In feudal China, the Lion Clan is rebelling against its leader. It seems that the betrayal was caused by the transportation of massive amounts of gold through a small village. The Lion Clan plans to steal the gold and defeat the Gemini Assassins to receive the riches. What they didn’t count on was the leader’s son seeking vengeance, and escaped slave, a British solider and a brothel Madame to get in their way.

RZA and Eli Roth worked for two years on the screen play working out every detail and it shows. The weapons are scary and innovative adding for some kung fu action fun. But if you are looking for detailed historic China, don’t look here. The characters seem as if they would never blend but the tale weaves everyone together. The movie blends together kung fu and hip-hop but like A Knight’s Tale it works. The costumes are not period but neither are the stereotypes. The brothel whores turn out to be the killer Black Widow Clan and Liu’s Madame Blossom is deathly.

The action sequences are stunning. In the kung fu tradition the battles are impossible and graceful. The colors are blended well making it have very sensual appearance. My favorite battles happened to be the ones including women. Watching Liu glide across the ground with her fan was as stunning as the dance scenes from Memoirs of a Geisha.

But the biggest draw is the humor and how the movie subtly makes fun of the genre. No bad dubbing hear, but humorous one liners and injuries nod at the absurdities of the genre.

Need a movie just for fun? The Man With the Iron Fists will awe you with action sequences and humor. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.