“There Is A Hokkien Phrase ‘Kaki Lang’. It Means: Our Own Kind Of People, And You’re Not Our Own Kind…”
Based upon the 2013 novel of the same name by Singaporean–American writer, Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians takes the familiar tale and narrative path of romantic comedies from the past and places it slap bang in the middle of Southeast Asia as we follow Constance Wu’s (Torchwood) Rachel Chu, a successful professor of economics at New York University who travels with her secretive boyfriend, Henry Golding’s (A Simple Favour) Nick Young, to Singapore in order to finally meet his family and friends. Directed by Jon M. Chu, a filmmaker whose previous credits haven’t exactly been rewarded with critical admiration thanks to the likes of Now You See Me 2 and, shiver incoming, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Crazy Rich Asians manages to be the director’s first outstanding success, with his latest release a frothy, uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable rom-com which manages to balance a catalogue of underlying themes and ideas whilst offering stellar development of its’ many leading and supporting characters who each come across identifiable and wholly individual, and whilst at times the narrative may feel overly familiar and cliched, the sheer sense of wonder the movie emits showers over its’ creases with expert levels of delight.
Whilst the big and most important headline regarding the film’s release is the fact that Chu’s latest is shockingly the first film since the 1993 drama, The Joy Luck Club, to simultaneously feature a predominantly Asian cast and be financed, backed and released by a major Hollywood studio, Crazy Rich Asians is much more than just a kick-starter for filmic equality, with committed performances, laugh-out loud levels of comedy and a warm beating heart at its’ core all congealing around a central duo of lovers whose chemistry is so convincing, the fact the film only ever has one outcome doesn’t matter whatsoever and only serves to improve the good-hearted nature of the tale. With comments on the global class system and the potential cost of being an outsider, the film’s screenplay takes the appeal up a level from just being yet another bog-standard romance re-hash, and with pain-staking levels of detail and admiration for the movie’s location setting, the eye-watering levels of excess, ranging from deluxe style houses to ridiculous bachelor parties, never feels annoying or sickening, with the depiction of the culture’s food in particular guaranteed to make the stomach rumble. Leaving all audiences undoubtedly with a spring in their step and a tear in their eye, Crazy Rich Asians is a traditional love story which manages to feel both fresh and fantastical without ever feeling to need to be manipulative in order to win over its’ audience. Superb entertainment.
Overall Score: 8/10
“I’m Starting To Feel Like Myself…”
Oh nepotism, how we love you. It is regrettable that after losing track in recent years when it comes to replicating the real quality of his earlier projects such as Blade Runner and Alien, director Ridley Scott has somewhat diminished in terms of reputation, particularly when examining his recent work such as Exodus: Gods and Kings, Robin Hood and The Counsellor. Yes, The Martian was pretty solid and a welcome return to some kind of form, yet it is still rather disheartening to think films as radical as Blade Runner may indeed never break out onto the big screen ever again. In the meantime however, Ridley’s knack of tackling sci-fi genre conventions has seemingly passed on through the gene pool and onto Luke Scott, whose directorial debut in the form of Morgan, no, not a documentary on Morgan Freeman, is the canvas to showcase whether the son has even half of his father’s early talent. Part Ex-Machina, part Terminator, Morgan has the necessary blueprints to regard itself as a work of science fiction, yet its’ ridiculous plot and complete lack of subtlety, particularly in its’ shambles of a final act, means Morgan is a lukewarm start to the ventures of baby Scott.
Although Morgan boats an extensive amount of talent in terms of its’ casting, with Kate Mara, Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti and Brian Cox all managing to squeeze in to the films’ 100 minute run-time, The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy takes the titular role of the synthetic-based humanoid in her stride, pulling out a performance that if served by a sharper and tighter script, may have been something of better consequence. Although the film does hark back to classics of the genre, some even made by father, Ridley, Morgan fails on some level by not entirely deciding on what it really wants to be, much like its’ titular character. Is it a horror? Is it an action thriller? Is it a bit of both? Who knows, and with the fast-paced editing of the latter act of the film not allowing one frame to settle, you leave the cinema with not only a head-rush bit with a sense of something that could have been better served if not for a more careful design. The main talking point of the movie may indeed be the final revelation, yet for anyone with a brain cell, it can only be regarded as wholly predictable, so much so that it shouldn’t even be regarded as a full 360 degree twist. Maybe a 40? Anyhow, Morgan isn’t the decades’ Blade Runner and although guided by the no-how of his father, Luke Scott’s debut is unfortunately one to forget.
Overall Score: 4/10
“You Have 36 Hours…”
Who doesn’t love The Stath? An actor who knows his strengths as well as his limits and makes the big bucks by doing what he does best year in, year out; meaty action movies. Although the 2011 version of The Mechanic was a reboot/remake/re-imagining of 1972 Charles Bronson thriller itself, its’ relative success didn’t exactly warrant that of a sequel in any shape or form yet here we are, with Mechanic: Resurrection being an A-Z in the blueprint of Jason Statham movies; little plot yet a hell lot of action. Supported by a rather starry cast with Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh and Tommy Lee Jones all fighting for screen time, Mechanic Resurrection is pretty much everything you would expect from an end of summer action flick starring The Stath, with Resurrection going in one ear and heading swiftly out the other without preaching anything other than adrenaline-fuelled mayhem.
Where the first Mechanic attempted to delve a bit deeper into the ambiguous livelihood of Jason Statham’s Arthur Bishop, the titular “Mechanic”, a hired gun who articulately kills people in ways that makes their deaths appear like accidents, Resurrection simply wants to kill as many people as possible, dropping in the idea of a plot as background for Bishop to shoot, punch, stab, blow up and eradicate as many hired goons as possible without ever leaving a scratch on his silky bald head. Although strictly not a comedy, the sight of endless waves of bodyguards being swiftly culled in the most violent ways possible did manage to produce a few fits of laughter, and although the film is incredibly violent, it never stops long enough to dwell on such as well as not having the chance to be regarded as lazy and offensive as something such as London Has Fallen. Yes, both films are ridiculously stupid and so lacking in plot it would make first year media students cry in fear, the truth is Resurrection is just plain dumb fun, something of which we can all do with sometime.