Movies I’ve Seen In September: King of Comedy, Satanic Panic, John Wick 2, The Raid 2

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It’s already October and I suppose Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Kool (and whoever that fourth guy is) are finally awake now after whole month of sleep. Yep. September has ended. Welcome back punk rock sellouts.

Sometimes, I wish I could do that. Just sleep. Not necessarily for the whole month, but get enough sleep–more sleep than what I usually manage to get. But I have to work (not to mention, lose significant amount of time and sleep brought about by the ever worsening condition of public transport). I have to watch movies. I have to smoke pot. And get stoned. And tell you about them movies. Like this one. So, once again, in lieu of full grown weed on a pot—blurbs.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is far from perfect, far from being the best live-action Spider-Man movie (read my full-grown mushroom here). I initially liked it better than Homecoming. But it’s also filled with implausible stuff, like Tony Stark’s super high-tech killing machines, Mysterio’s super believable special effects and I didn’t like how the movie wrap this all up where everything is solved with a few flicks. It has better action though, better villain, and I quite enjoyed a little bit more than the first. Still, it’s in the same ballpark. It’s better than the Amazing Spider-Man movies but still inferior to the Sam Raimi movies.

Satanic Panic just have enough of the satanic (e.g., the rich stay rich because they’re satanists) to keep one engaged but not enough of the panic for me to call it very good horror comedy. The movie has a few narrative choices (i.e., killing one character for… I don’t know–shock value?) that I think hampered the movie, probably the biggest of which is having Deux Ex Machina—or should it be Devil Ex Machina, since she’s technically a devil? But it’s still worth the ride–a helluva ride–on Vespa–into an exclusive village of Satanists.

Finally finished watching The Raid 2. At two and a half hour, it’s a little too long. It’s actually nearly an hour longer than The Raid. So, I made it two-part watch. There’s more story here than the first, more character drama about gangsters and family. There’s more The Godfather here, more Shakespeare. One might say that these new characters kept Iko Uwais (Uda) in the sidelines until the plot requires him to do what he does best. But aside from Uco (Arifin Putra), Gareth Evans bring more colorful baddies to pit against Uwais, that seems to come straight out of a Boichi manga, the most memorable of which is Julie Estelle’s Hammer Girl.

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John Wick 2 is in every bit an improvement over the first. With a more interesting conflict than the first movie’s straight out revenge story. The opening car motorcycle chase probably a homage to various HK action flicks and the movie gets better the moment it closes the first chapter and leave its Boogeyman myth behind. Chapter 2 has John Wick outnumbered, outgunned, cornered, and most importantly, vulnerable. He also has darkly funny one on one fight in a train car (and other public places) with Common.

Some say King of Comedy is Stephen Chow’s most heartfelt film. Probably the most grounded too—no high flying soccer players, no mermaids, no kung fu masters. The third act, which seems to come out of nowhere and where Chow goes undercover posing as lunchbox delivery man to infiltrate a triad, is both tense and swift. Tense like Leonardo di Caprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (which, by the way, is a remake of Hong Kong triad movie Infernal Affairs) and swift like Tony Leung in an action movie by John Woo, whose over-the-top shootouts the movie spoofed in a movie set sequence replete with church shootouts, Mexican stand-offs, doves, and heroine with arms outstretched firing two handguns. The real star of the movie though is Cecilia Cheung, whose hooker with a heart of gold actually transcends the hooker with a heart of gold types.

There’s a stitched together quality to Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy. It’s a bit episodic in how Sin-Tau (Chow) goes through boom and bust cycles while trying to land an acting job while frequenting a movie set where a production crew is shooting an action film starring superstar Cucko (Karen Mok). But it’s undeniably funny, full of hilarious stuff. And if you like Chow’s other movies like God of Cookery and Kung Fu Hustle, you’d like this one for sure. Watch out for that scene where Sin-Tau finally gets to audition for the male lead opposite Cucko. And make sure your have Kleenex with you.

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