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All reviews - Movies (110)

Escape to Victory

Posted : 6 years ago on 1 December 2011 07:45 (A review of Victory)

Association football plays a central role of the film. A team of Allied prisoners of war (POWs), coached and represented by Englishman Captain John Colby (Michael Caine) (who was a professional footballer for West Ham United before the war) agree to play an exhibition match against a German team, only to find themselves involved in a German propaganda stunt.

Colby is the captain and essentially the manager of the team and thus chooses his squad of players. American POW Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) is not initially chosen, but eventually nags the reluctant Colby into letting him on the team.

Colby's superior officers repeatedly try to convince Colby to use the match as an opportunity for an escape attempt, but Colby consistently refuses, fearing that such an attempt will only result in getting his players killed. Meanwhile, Hatch has been planning an unrelated escape attempt, and Colby's superiors agree to help him, if he in return agrees to journey to Paris, make contact with the French Resistance, and try to convince them to help the soccer team escape.

Hatch succeeds in escaping the prison camp, traveling to Paris, and finding the Resistance, but the Resistance decides that the plan to help the soccer team escape is too risky; they not only refuse to help, but also convince Hatch to get re-captured, so he can pass information along back to the leading British officers at the prison camp.

Fearing another escape attempt, the Germans initially refuse to allow Hatch to participate in the match, but Colby breaks the existing goalkeeper's arm as an excuse to get Hatch back onto the team.

In the end, the POWs can leave the German camp only to play the match; they are to be imprisoned again following the match. Despite the match officials being heavily biased towards the Germans, and the German team causing several deliberate injuries to the Allied players, a draw is achieved after great performances from Luis Fernandez (portrayed by Pelé), Carlos Rey (portrayed by Osvaldo Ardiles) and Arthur Hayes (portrayed by John Wark). Hatch plays goalkeeper, and makes excellent saves including one last save from a penalty kick as time expires to deny the Germans the win, drawing the game 4–4. Before the penalty kick the POWs had scored a goal which was disallowed by the referee for a dubious offside decision, making the score 5–4, prompting the crowd to shout "Victoire!"

Some team members plan to escape at halftime (in an escape led by Hatch) but the rest of the team (led by Russell Osman saying "but we can win this") want to carry on with the game, despite being behind at halftime. They manage to escape at the end of the game, amidst the confusion caused by the crowd storming the field after Hatch preserves the draw.


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house of wax

Posted : 6 years ago on 1 December 2011 07:41 (A review of House of Wax)

In 1974, a woman is making a wax sculpture in the kitchen while her son eats breakfast in his highchair. Her husband enters with another son who is shouting and kicking. The boy is forced into a highchair and strapped in place by his father. After being strapped and taped to his chair by his mother, he scratches her hand. She then slaps her child across the face.

In 2005, Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki) with her friend Paige (Paris Hilton) and Paige's boyfriend Blake (Robert Ri'chard) are on their way to a highly anticipated football game in Louisiana. Eventually, Carly's delinquent twin brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray) and his friend Dalton (Jon Abrahams) also join them. Night falls and the group decides to set up camp for the night. The campsite is later visited by a stranger in a pickup truck who shines his lights at the campsite, but refuses to leave or address them until Nick smashes a headlight with a bottle. The next morning, Carly and Paige go exploring, Carly falls down a hill and lands in deer remains and sees a fake hand. Wade's car's fan belt is found to be damaged. The group meets a disheveled, rural man named Lester (Damon Herriman), who offers to drive Carly and Wade to the nearby town of Ambrose to get a new fan belt, while the rest of them go to the football game.

The two arrive at Ambrose, which is virtually a ghost town. Unable to find an attendant at the auto mechanics shop, they wander into the church, disrupting a funeral. There, they meet a mechanic named Bo (Brian Van Holt), who offers to sell them a fan belt after the funeral. While waiting for the services to end, Carly and Wade visit the wax museum, which itself is made of wax and is the central feature of the town. Afterward, they follow Bo to his house to find a proper fan belt. While there, Wade is crippled and stabbed by a long-haired man with a wax facemask named Vincent. Bo grabs Carly, super glues her lips shut and locks her in a cellar. Dalton and Nick arrive in Ambrose to look for Carly and Wade. Vincent meanwhile strips and shaves Wade, then puts him in a chair with a metal contraption on his head which pins his eyes open. Vincent pulls a couple of levers which showers the immobile Wade with hot wax.

While Nick questions Bo if he has seen his sister, Carly tries signaling for help by sticking her finger out of a vent, trying to get her brother's attention. Bo notices her finger sticking out, and snips the tip off with a pair of dikes. Carly falls screaming in pain and later pries her lips open in order to scream for help. Nick, hearing her screams, knocks Bo out after he attacks him. Nick locks Bo out of the station and finds his sister, and the two escape. Dalton finds Wade who is alive but he is unable to move or talk because he is immobilized by the layer of wax covering his body. Dalton peels off the wax but realizes he is peeling Wade's skin off. Vincent finds Dalton and accidentally slashes Wade's face with a knife. Wade dies from shock. Vincent later chases and decapitates Dalton, killing him too. Meanwhile, Nick and Carly realize that the wax figures are actually real people – Bo and Vincent have been trapping people in wax in order for the figures to look more realistic. Bo finds Carly and Nick at the theatre, but they escape after Nick shoots Bo with a crossbow.

Vincent goes to their camp site, kills Blake, and chases Paige to an abandoned sugar mill. After being stabbed in the foot, Paige hides in a car but Vincent finds her, and impales her in the head with a spear. As Vincent brings Blake and Paige's bodies Carly and Nick overhear Bo and Vincent talking and discovers that they were conjoined twins. Their father, a doctor, performed a controversial procedure to separate the brothers. The surgery left half of Vincent's face badly deformed, forcing him to wear a wax mask for the rest of his life. Nick and Carly find the basement where they find Dalton's body covered in wax. Nick tries to remove the contraption but ends up twisting his head. Bo and Vincent find and chase Carly and Nick to the House of Wax. Nick and Carly unintentionally set the House of Wax on fire, causing the entire structure to melt. Carly beats Bo to death with a baseball bat, which enrages Vincent. Vincent chases Nick and Carly on to the balcony but Carly and Nick stab Vincent in the hip, thus killing him. As the House of Wax melts from the fire, the room in which all three are in collapses, causing Vincent to land on Bo's corpse. Nick and Carly escape the fiery House of Wax and breathlessly watch as it melts to the ground.

The ambulance and police arrive at daybreak, reporting that Ambrose has been abandoned for ten years when the local sugar mill failed. The policeman (Andy Anderson) reveals that there was a third son of Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair who happens to be Lester. Nick and Carly are then taken to hospital. As the ambulance leaves, Carly sees Lester looking and smiling at her while sitting on his truck with Vincent's dog, Sandwich.


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Apocalypto

Posted : 6 years ago on 1 December 2011 07:40 (A review of Apocalypto)

While hunting tapir in the Mesoamerican jungle in the early 16th century, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), his father Flint Sky (Morris Birdyellowhead), and their fellow tribesmen encounter a procession of traumatized refugees. Speaking in Yucatec Maya, the group's leader explains that their lands were ravaged, and asks for permission to pass through the jungle. When Jaguar Paw and his tribesmen return home, Flint Sky tells his son not to let the refugees' fear infect him.

The next morning, after Jaguar Paw wakes from a nightmare involving the refugee leader, he sees warriors entering the village and setting the huts on fire. The raiders, led by Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo), attack and subdue the villagers. Jaguar Paw slips out with his pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández) and his little son Turtles Run, lowering them by vine into a deep vertical cave, tying the vine off so they could climb out later. Jaguar Paw then kills a raider and returns to help the village. He is eventually subdued and an insane raider named Middle Eye (Gerardo Taracena), whom Jaguar Paw almost killed, slits Flint Sky's throat while the bound Jaguar Paw can only watch. Before the raiders leave with their prisoners, Snake Ink, one of the raider captains, notices Jaguar Paw staring toward the cave. Suspicious of the tied off vine hanging into the cave, he cuts it, trapping Seven and Turtles Run. Jaguar Paw and the other captives are then led off into the jungle.

A short distance from the village they join another group of raiders who have captured the refugees Jaguar Paw met the day before. Later, Cocoa Leaf, a wounded captive tied to the same pole as Jaguar Paw nearly tumbles off a cliff, but Jaguar Paw and the others are able to pull him back up with incredible effort. Though Middle Eye, who is guarding them, is impressed by this show of brute power, he kills Cocoa Leaf by cutting him loose and pushing him off the cliff to taunt Jaguar Paw.

The raiding party march toward a Mayan city, encountering razed forests and failed maize crops, along with villages decimated by plague. A small girl dying of plague prophesies that a man running with a jaguar will bring the raiders to those who will scratch out the earth and end their world. In the city's outskirts, where the prisoners come upon slaves working in lime quarries, the female captives are sold as slaves while the males are escorted to the top of a step pyramid. The high priest sacrifices several captives, including Jaguar Paw's friend Curl Nose, by cutting out their beating hearts before beheading them. When Jaguar Paw is about to be sacrificed, a solar eclipse (also prophesied by the girl) occurs. The high priest looks at the king and the two share a knowing smile while the people below panic at the phenomenon. The priest declares the sun god Kukulkan is satisfied with the sacrifices. He asks Kukulkan to let light return to the world and the eclipse passes. The crowd cheers in amazement and the priest orders that the remaining captives be led away and disposed of.

Zero Wolf takes the captives to a ball court. The captives are released in pairs and forced to run the length of the open space within the ball court, offering Zero Wolf's men some target practice, with a cynical promise of freedom should they reach the end of the field alive. Zero Wolf's son, Cut Rock, is sent to the end of the field to "finish" any survivors. The raiders target the runners with javelins, arrows, and large stones. The first pair are Jaguar Paw's last living friends, Smoke Frog and Blunted. Smoke Frog is struck by a heavy stone, then finished off by Cut Rock while Blunted is impaled through the stomach by a javelin.

Next up are Jaguar Paw and the refugee leader from the beginning. Although they almost make it, the refugee leader is shot through the head by an arrow and Jaguar Paw is shot through the side of his stomach by an arrow. As Cut Rock approaches to finish Jaguar Paw, the not-quite-dead Blunted trips Cut Rock to buy Jaguar Paw time. Cut Rock gets up and savagely kills Blunted then turns to finish off Jaguar Paw, but is stabbed through the neck with an arrowhead by Jaguar Paw, who then stumbles away toward the jungle.

As Cut Rock bleeds out with Zero Wolf easing him into the next life, Jaguar Paw runs through a withered maize field and an open mass grave before finally reaching the jungle. The enraged Zero Wolf and his men pursue Jaguar Paw into the jungle and back toward Jaguar Paw's home. Along the way, one of the raiders is killed by a black jaguar angered by Jaguar Paw. Another raider is killed when a venomous snake bites his neck. Eventually, after running all night, Jaguar Paw finds himself caught between a high waterfall and his hunters and is forced to jump. He survives and declares from the riverbank below that the raiders are now in his homelands, echoing his father's challenge to the refugees at the beginning of the film.

After listening to Jaguar Paw's challenge, Snake Ink says they should climb down after Jaguar Paw but is stabbed by Zero Wolf for his suggestion. Zero Wolf then commands that he and his men jump the falls and in shock, they all jump as well. While most make it alive, one smashes his head on the rocks below and is killed. The remaining men swim to the shore and re-start their pursuit, but soon Jaguar Paw, now camouflaged in mud, kills one raider with poison darts, only to immediately confront Middle Eye, bludgeoning him to death with the Mayan war club of the raider he just killed. However, much to Jaguar Paw's worries, it begins raining heavily, with the cave where Jaguar Paw's wife and son are trapped starting to flood. As he rushes to save his family, Jaguar Paw is confronted by Zero Wolf and shot again with an arrow. As Zero Wolf advances to finish Jaguar Paw he is impaled and killed by a trap meant for hunting tapir.

Following Zero Wolf's death, the two remaining raiders chase Jaguar Paw out to a beach where, much to the surprise of all three of them, they encounter Spanish ships anchored off the coast, with soldiers making their way ashore. The amazement of the raiders allows Jaguar Paw to flee. He returns into the forest to pull his wife and son out of the flooded pit where they are hiding, and where Seven has just given birth to a healthy second son. As the reunited family look out from the forest towards the Spanish ships, Seven wonders if they should go to the strangers, but Jaguar Paw tells his family to return with him to the forest. They head into the jungle in search of a new beginning.


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alive

Posted : 6 years ago on 1 December 2011 07:39 (A review of Alive)

The film opens with a series of photographs of the Stella Maris College's Old Christians Rugby Team. An elder Carlitos Páez (John Malkovich) explains that the pictures were taken by his father and points out several members of the team, including himself as a young man (Bruce Ramsay), Álex Morales, Felipe Restano, Nando Parrado (Ethan Hawke) and Antonio Balbi (Vincent Spano). Carlitos then reflects on the accident in a brief monologue, speaking of heroism, the gravity of the situation, and of solitude and faith.

The story moves to the past as Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 flies over the Andes in 1972. The raucous rugby players and a few of their relatives and friends are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming match in Chile. Nando's sister, Susana, praises the beauty of the mountains and happily observes that the plane will be landing in 20 minutes.

However, after emerging from clouds, the plane encounters turbulence and collides with an unknown mountain peak. During the collision, the wing and tail are separated from the fuselage of the plane, six of the passengers are ejected from the wreckage, and the remnants of the fuselage slide down a mountain slope before coming to a complete stop. The impact of the final crash kills the copilot, pilot and Álex. Nando falls into a coma after being hit in the head by a flying suitcase. Antonio, the team captain, takes charge of the situation, coordinating efforts to help his injured teammates. Roberto Canessa (Josh Hamilton) and Gustavo Zerbino, both medical students, are the first to address the injured. 12 passengers die in the crash, including an older couple and Nando's mother, Eugenia.

As the sun sets, the survivors begin to make preparations for the night. Canessa figures out that the seat covers can be unzipped and used as blankets. The survivors go inside the fuselage and curl up beside one another to stay warm. Antonio, Roy and Rafael Cano plug the gaping hole at the end of the fuselage with luggage to keep the wind out. Mrs. Alfonsín dies during the night, and Carlitos feels responsible after earlier insulting her as she moaned about the pain she had been experiencing. With nothing to hunt or gather on the mountain, Antonio declares they will use rationing when the survivors find a tin of chocolates and a case of wine. After seeing a plane dip its wing and assuming they had been seen, some of the survivors freely share the remaining rations, expecting to be rescued the next day.

The survivors listen to a radio for word of their rescue but are devastated when the search is called off after day nine. Meanwhile, Nando regains consciousness through the care of Carlitos and Hugo. After learning of his mother's death, Nando watches over his sister vigilantly. Knowing that she will die of her injuries within a few days, he vows to set off on foot and find a way out of the mountains.

When Carlitos reminds him that he will need food, Nando suggests consuming flesh from the corpses of the deceased pilots to survive his journey to find help. After great debate, the remaining passengers decide to eat the flesh of their dead companions in order to survive. Zerbino, Rafael and Juan Martino set off to search for the tail of the plane in hopes of finding the batteries for the airplane's radio to transmit their location. Among pieces of the wreckage, the teammates find additional corpses, but return to the group with news that the tail of the plane is likely a little farther away. A second team, made up of Nando, Canessa and Antonio "Tintin" Vizintin, finds the tail of the plane. Unable to bring the batteries to the fuselage, they return to the fuselage to get Roy. Then they bring him to the tail of the plane, where the batteries are, to see if he can fix the radio. When Roy is unsuccessful, the team returns to the fuselage once more.

Later in the week, an avalanche hits the plane and floods the interior with snow. Some manage to climb out of the snow, but most are unable to escape; eight of the remaining survivors are smothered by the snow or freeze to death, including Antonio, Liliana and Juan. Federico and Alberto die from their injuries soon after and Rafael soon dies after an illness, leading Nando to convince a reluctant Canessa to search for a way out of the mountains, taking Tintin with them. Two days into the journey, they send Tintin back to the fuselage so they can appropriate his rations and continue on. After a 12-day trek, the two escape the mountains and alert the authorities of their companions' location. As helicopters land on the glacier, the other 14 survivors celebrate.

The film then shifts to the present as Carlitos explains the survivors later returned to the site of the crash and buried the bodies of the dead under a pile of stones, marked with a cross, about half a mile away. The memorial is then displayed with the film's dedication to both the 29 deceased and 16 survivors.


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shaolin

Posted : 6 years ago on 1 December 2011 07:38 (A review of Shaolin)

The film is set in Dengfeng, Henan, during the warlord era of early Republican China. The warlord Hou Jie defeats a rival named Huo Long and seizes control of Dengfeng. Huo Long flees to Shaolin Temple to hide but Hou Jie appears and shoots him. Hou Jie ridicules the Shaolin monks before leaving.

Feeling disadvantageous with his sworn brother, Song Hu, Hou Jie sets a trap for Song in a restaurant, under the guise of agreeing to his daughter's engagement to Song's son. Meanwhile, Hou Jie's deputy, Cao Man, feeling that he was being used by Hou and that he deserves better, decides to betray Hou. Cao Man sends assassins to murder Hou Jie and his family. Hou Jie manages to fatally wound Song Hu with his handgun, but Song still saves Hou to allow him to escape from the assassin's ambush before succumbing to his injuries. Hou Jie manages to escape together with his daughter, but his daughter was severely injured when a carriage knocked her down while she is fleeing, and worsen when they fall off a cliff. Hou Jie's wife is rescued by some passing-by Shaolin monks, who were stealing rice from the military granary to help the refugees living near the temple. In desperation, Hou Jie brings his daughter to Shaolin, begging the monks to save her life, but it is too late and she dies of her injuries. Hou Jie's wife blames him for the death of their daughter and leaves him. Hou Jie attacks the monks in anger but is quickly subdued.

Hou Jie becomes disillusioned and wanders near Shaolin, until he meets the cook monk Wudao, who provides him with food and shelter. Hou Jie feels guilty for his past misdeeds and decides to become a monk and atone for his sins. During his stay in Shaolin, Hou Jie gradually understands Shaolin's principles through study and practising martial arts, mends his ways and finds peace and enlightenment from his heart. One day, Hou Jie overhears that Cao Man, who has taken control over his army, is oppressing the people by forcing them to unearth Chinese relics. Cao Man sells the relics to foreigners in exchange for advanced weaponry, after which he will have the labourers massacred to silence them. Hou Jie shows up to save some labourers and exposes himself in the process.

When Cao Man hears that Hou Jie is still alive, he leads his soldiers to the Shaolin temple to capture Hou. Hou Jie volunteers to distract Cao Man while the monks secretly break into Cao's house to save the imprisoned labourers. The plan succeeds but Hou Jie's senior, Jingneng, is brutally killed by Cao Man while buying time for his juniors to escape. Upon returning to Shaolin Temple, the monks decide that they need to evacuate the temple to avoid further trouble. Wudao leads the refugees away while Hou Jie and the other monks remain behind to defend the temple. By then, Cao Man arrives with his troops and orders an attack on Shaolin. At the same time, the foreigners feel that they have been cheated and they bombard Shaolin with artillery, resulting in heavy casualties for both the Shaolin monks and Cao Man's forces. Hou Jie defeats Cao Man in a fight and eventually sacrifices himself to save Cao from being crushed by a falling beam (returning the karma of Song Hu's sacrifice to save Hou during Song's assassination) and falls into the Buddha statue's palm and dies peacefully, leaving Cao feeling guilty. On the other hand, the surviving monks succeed in overcoming the enemy and stopping the bombardment and killed the foreigners. Meanwhile, the retreating refugees turn back and start crying when they see Shaolin Temple in ruins. Wudao tells them that the Shaolin spirit will continue to live in them even though the temple has been destroyed.

Afterwards, the scene cuts to an earlier period before the monks evacuate with the refugees, with Hou Jie meeting with his wife in the temple for the last time. Hou Jie passes the urn containing his daughter's cremated ashes to his wife, and she forgives Hou for his past, and accepts the fact that she can no longer be with him. Hou Jie admits that Cao Man's present evil doings stems from his own past misdeeds, thus he is responsible in guiding Cao back to the correct path. The scene ends with the monks practicing martial arts under snowfall, hinting that the monks and refugees settled down once again


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pale rider

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 November 2011 06:10 (A review of Pale Rider)

The film opens near the fictional town of Lahood, California, in the 1880s (based on remarks in the film about outlawing hydraulic mining), where a group of struggling miners and their families are panning for gold. However, thugs sent by rival big-time miner Coy Lahood shoot up the camp. Megan Wheeler, a 14-year old girl there, is horrified when the thugs gun down her dog in cold blood. The thugs leave the camp torn up and nearly destroyed. Megan buries her dog out in the woods, and prays to God for help. After she prays, we see a stranger heading to the town on horseback.

Megan's mother, Sarah, is keeping company with Hull Barret, the leader of the miners. Hull heads off into town to pick up supplies, but the same thugs start to beat him up. The stranger arrives and swiftly beats up all of the thugs single handedly with a mattock handle. Hull thanks the stranger and invites him to his house, and the stranger relucantly agrees. Sarah is skeptical of the stranger, but he dons a preacher's outfit and is shown to be unarmed, and everyone thus calls him the Preacher. The Preacher helps the miners pan for gold and peacefully keeps the thugs from returning to the camp.

The Preacher eventually meets Coy LaHood's son Josh who attempts to scare the Preacher by a show of strength from his strongest work hand, Club, who smashes a large rock with one blow of a hammer that the Preacher and Hull had been laboring over. When Club attempts to harm the Preacher, the Preacher disarms him, hits him in the face and delivers a hammer blow to Club's groin. After helping Club back onto his horse, the Preacher sends Josh and Club on their way. Coy LaHood finds out about the Preacher through his son and instead of killing the preacher, out of fear of making him a martyr among the pan handlers, decides to try to bribe him with money and a church in hopes he will leave the camp, but the Preacher refuses. The Preacher asks if LaHood would be willing to buy the miners out and gets a final offer of $1,000 per claim. If the miners don't leave within 24 hours, LaHood will hire a special marshall named Stockburn to clear them out.

The miners initially want to take the offer, and ask the Preacher for his advice. He offers little, but Hull reminds of them of why they came, and what they have sacrificed. The miners decide to stay and fight. The next morning, however, the Preacher deserts the miners, leaving them scared and alone without any help. Megan, who has grown fond of the Preacher, also heads out looking for him, but Josh captures her and attempts to rape her. Before he can do anything serious, the Preacher arrives on horseback, armed with a Remington revolver, and shoots Josh in the hand. The Preacher takes Megan back to the camp.

Stockburn arrives and he and his gang gun down one of the miners, Spider, when he attempted to take on Stockburn himself. LaHood describes the Preacher to Stockburn, and Stockburn says that he sounds like someone that he once knew, but that man is dead.

The Preacher teams up with Hull and they go to LaHood's mining facility and blow it up with dynamite. In the chaos Josh LaHood attempts to shoot the Preacher in the back but is stopped by Club out of respect for the Preacher. After scaring off Hull's horse, to stop him from following him into battle, the Preacher then heads alone into the town, where he easily guns down all of Coy's thugs. Stockburn sends his deputies after the Preacher, but he shoots all of them one by one throughout the town. The Preacher then faces Stockburn alone in a classic western showdown. The Preacher approaches Stockburn and only when he is a few feet away does Stockburn recognize him, crying "You! YOU!" and grabbing for his gun. The Preacher draws first and empties his gun into Stockburn. As a dying Stockburn tries to raise his gun, the Preacher grabs his backup pistol and finishes off Stockburn with a shot to the head. Coy Lahood has witnessed the shootout and aims a rifle at the Preacher, but Hull arrives and shoots with his own rifle and kills Coy.

The Preacher rides out from a barn, now mounted on a horse. He looks at Hull who is surveying the remains of the battle and mutters to him, "Long walk." Hull responds with a simple, "Yep." The Preacher smirks and rides off into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Megan gets to the town, but the Preacher has already left. As he rides off into the mountains, the film ends with Megan crying out to him from the town shouting her thanks and words of love.


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The Ten Commandments

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 November 2011 06:09 (A review of The Ten Commandments)

The film covers the life of Moses from his discovery in a basket floating on the Nile as a baby by Bithiah, a childless young widow and daughter of the then-Pharaoh, Rameses I, to his prohibition from entering the land of Israel in the wake of God's judgment on him at the waters of Meribah. In between, the film depicts the early adulthood of Moses as a beloved foster son of Pharaoh Seti I (brother of Bithiah) and general of his armies, his romance with Throne Princess Nefertari (or Nefretiri, as she is called in the film) and rivalry with the Pharaoh's own son, the future Pharaoh Rameses II.

Shortly after Moses' birth, Rameses I had ordered the slaying of all firstborn male Hebrews to prevent the prophecy of the Deliverer from coming true. Moses' mother (called "Yoshebel" in the film) had set him adrift on the Nile to escape, with his sister Miriam watching from a hidden spot. Bithiah discovers the Ark while playing with other young women in the banks of the Nile. She orders them to leave, then shows her servant Memnet the baby. Memnet warns Bithiah that the swaddling cloth was Levite, so the baby was placed there to escape Bithiah's father's edict. But Bithiah declared that this baby would be her son, and named him "Moses" because she had drawn him from the Nile (the Hebrew name "Moshe" derived from the Hebrew word "Mashu", meaning "to draw"). Despite Memnet's protests about serving a son of Hebrew slaves, Bithiah orders her to serve him and to swear to secrecy on pain of death. Memnet hides the cloth under her clothes.

As a young general, Moses is victorious in a war with the Nubian people of ancient Ethiopia, loosing captured ibises to combat the serpents (as recorded by Josephus) and further impresses Seti I by being wily enough to enter into an alliance with the conquered Ethiopians rather than subjugate them. Moses then is charged with building a treasure city for Seti's Jubilee, which Rameses had failed to complete (probably the Biblical treasure cities of Pithom and Ramases (Avaris)).

Meanwhile, Moses and Nefretiri are deeply in love; she is the "throne princess", who must marry the next Pharaoh. Rameses wants her for himself, not because of any liking for her but for the throne, but Nefretiri hates him. She tells Rameses that she would never love him, to which Ramses responds, "Does that matter?"

When Moses assumes control of the project, he rescues an old grease-woman from being left to be crushed; unknown to him it is his biological mother Yoshebel. Moses tells the Egyptian Master Builder Baka, "Blood makes poor mortar," and asks, "Are you a master builder or a master butcher?" And he frees Joshua the stonecutter who had struck an Egyptian, punishable by death, to try to save Yoshebel. Moses is impressed with Joshua's bravery and words, and institutes numerous reforms concerning the treatment of the slave workers such as one day in seven to rest and even going so far as to raid temple granaries for necessary food supplies. Moses questions Joshua about his God, and Joshua declares his strong faith but says that God's name is unknown.

Rameses uses these changes as proof that Moses is planning an insurrection by currying the slaves' favor, and points out that the slaves are calling Moses the "Deliverer" of prophecy. However, when Seti confronts Moses, Moses argues he is simply making his workers more productive by making them stronger and happier. He proves his point with such impressive progress on the project that Seti becomes convinced that Rameses falsely accused his foster brother. Seti promises that Moses will get credit for the new city. Rameses, meanwhile, has been charged by his father with the task of finding out if there really is a Hebrew fitting the description of the Deliverer, and is having no luck.
Scene where Memnet reveals to Nefretiri the truth about Moses' real origin, Nefretiri (left) and Memnet (right)

As Nefretiri is joyously preparing for marriage, Memnet informs her that Prince Moses is not a prince at all, but the son of Hebrew slaves. Nefretiri is furious at the accusation, whereupon Memnet produces the Levite cloth and tells Nefretiri to wrap their firstborn in it. Memnet also tells her that a little girl had led her to Yoshebel to breastfeed Moses, which she realized must be the real mother. Nefretiri kills Memnet. After doing so, Nefretiri inexplicably tells Moses what she has done.

Moses, unwilling to wait until he becomes Pharaoh, and thereby acquiring the legal ability to free his people, asks Bithiah about Memnet's stories. Bithiah dissembles and reminds him of how he never doubted her when he held his hand as he took his first step. Moses leaves, promising that no matter what he finds, he will always love her. She rushes in a chariot to Yoshebel. Bithiah pleads with her not to reveal anything, since she has put the throne of Egypt within his grasp, and also declares how much she loved and cared for him, and promised to free them and make sure they were well cared for. But Moses has followed from a distance. Yoshebel cannot look him in the eyes and deny that she is his mother. And her robe matches the pattern of the much more faded Levite cloth Memnet kept. Then Yoshebel's adult children, Miriam and Aaron, introduce themselves to Moses as his sister and brother, and Bithiah sadly departs. Moses is determined to reveal his status as a Hebrew, effectively throwing away what he has gained at the Egyptian court.

Declaring he is not ashamed, but curious, he spends time working among the slaves to learn of their hardship, only to be rescued from the mudpits by Nefretiri. Moses then saves Joshua's life again. Baka, the master builder, had taken Joshua's beloved, Lilia, intending to keep her as his sex slave until he would tire of her, whereupon he says he will return her to Joshua "more worthy." Joshua attempts to rescue Lilia, and in the process, strikes the master builder. Baka then has Joshua tied between two pillars and is in the process of whipping him to death. At this point, Moses bursts on the scene, urging, "Kill ME, master BUTCHER!" Then he strangles the horrified Baka to death, and sets Joshua free. Dathan, the devious and ambitious Hebrew overseer who has been charged by Rameses to help him find the Deliverer, watches from hiding. Moses confesses to Joshua that he himself is Hebrew; Joshua excitedly proclaims Moses the Deliverer, and although Moses denies it, Dathan has all the proof he needs. Revealing what he knows to Rameses, Dathan bargains for Baka's house, a post as Governor of Goshen and the ownership of Joshua's betrothed Lilia.

Moses is arrested and brought in chains before Seti, who begs him to say he is not the Deliverer. Moses does so, but avows that he would free the slaves if he could (and which he would have been able to do, if only he and Nefretiri had kept quiet, and Moses had been content to wait until he became Pharaoh). Bithiah confesses to her brother Seti that she took Moses from the Nile knowing by the design on his blankets that he was Hebrew. In a short, impassioned speech, Moses says that it is evil to enslave or oppress people, "to be stripped of spirit, and hope and faith, all because they are of another race, another creed. If there is a God, He did not mean this to be so!" Seti is grievously hurt, since he said that he had always loved him as a son, more than his own real son Rameses. So Seti imprisons him and orders his name stricken from all records and monuments, to be unspoken in Egypt forever thereafter. Asked what punishment Moses shall receive, Seti states that he is unable to speak it (tacitly admitting that ordinarily, the punishment would be death) and leaves the matter to Rameses' discretion. Rameses banishes Moses to the desert, fearing to execute him lest he create a martyr. Meanwhile, Seti proclaims Rameses to be the next Pharaoh. Nefretiri, as the Throne Princess, is required to marry the arrogant prince, to her great distress.

Lilia begs Dathan not to shame her before her people. Dathan reminds her that he is able to influence the decision on how to punish Joshua. He can be put to death or sentenced to work in the copper mines in Sinai. To save Joshua's life, Lilia tearfully agrees to become Dathan's mistress "of her own free will."
Scene where Moses is taught how to tend sheep in Midian by Sephora, Moses (left) and Sephora (right)

Moses makes his way across the desert, nearly dying of hunger and thirst. He comes to a well in the land of Midian. After drinking and eating dates from a nearby palm tree he passes out, to be awakened by the sound of seven sisters watering their flocks. Bullying Amalekites appear, pushing the girls aside, whereupon Moses wakes. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere he thrashes the Amalekites soundly with his staff, forcing them to wait their turn at the well. Moses finds a home in Midian with the girls' father Jethro, a Bedouin sheik, who reveals that he is a follower of "He who has no name," whom Moses recognizes as the God of Abraham. Jethro explains that they are the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's first-born. Moses later impresses Jethro and the other sheiks with his wise and just trading, so Jethro offers Moses one of his daughters as a wife. Moses chooses the eldest daughter, called Sephora in the film (the Greek form of her name), the least flamboyant but wisest, who was previously the one who had stood up to the Amalekites.

Back in Egypt, Seti dies heartbroken, with Moses' name on his lips, and Rameses succeeds him as Pharaoh (becoming Rameses II), taking Nefretiri as his Queen. Herding sheep in the desert, Moses finds Joshua, who has escaped from hard labour in the copper mines. Moses sees the Burning Bush on the summit of Mount Sinai; climbing up to investigate, he hears the voice of God(Charlton Heston, who was not credited for this secondary role). Naming Himself "I Am That I Am," God charges Moses to return to Egypt and free His chosen people.

At Pharaoh's court, Moses comes before Rameses to win the slaves' freedom, turning his staff into a snake to show Rameses the power of God. Jannes and another magician do the same, but Moses's snake eats the others. But the Pharaoh decrees that the Hebrews be given no straw to make their bricks, but to make the same tally as before on pain of death. As the Hebrews prepare to stone Moses in anger, Nefretiri's retinue rescues him; but when she attempts to resume their relationship, he spurns her, reminding her that not only is he on a mission, having been touched by God, but that he is also married.

As Moses continues to challenge Pharaoh's hold over his people, Egypt is beset by divine plagues. We see the water turned into blood, and hear of others. But Rameses hears of a naturalistic explanation of a mountain beyond the Nile cataract spewing red mud, although this would not have explained what the film showed: the red colour starting from where Aaron's stick touched the river and moving away, or the water in pitchers turning red as it was poured. but given this explanation, Rameses declared it not surprising that fish would die and frogs leave the water, and flies would bloat upon their carcasses and spread disease. So Moses predicts hot hail and three days of darkness; the hot hail comes shortly after and bursts into flame on the ground. Moses warns that the next plague would come from his own lips.

Enraged at the plagues and Moses' continuous demands, and at his generals and advisers telling him to give in. Rameses orders all first-born Hebrews to die, but just as Moses had foretold, this intention backfires. Although Nefretiri warns Sephora to escape with Gershom on a passing caravan to Midian, Moses tells her sadly that it is her own son who will die, and he cannot save him. In an eerily quiet scene, the Angel of Death creeps into Egyptian streets in a glowing green cloud, killing all the firstborn of Egypt, including the adult son of Pharaoh's top general, and Pharaoh's own child. Meanwhile, Bithiah is released to Moses.

Broken and despondent, Pharaoh orders Moses to take "your people, your cattle, your God and your pestilence" and go. Dathan is also ordered out when the Egyptian guards sees the sacrifice lamb's blood on the sides of his door frame, his position as an overseer counting for nothing with the Egyptians, the Hebrews resentful of him and refusing him the privileges he expects. The Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt begins.

Goaded into rage by Nefretiri in her grief and anger at Moses, the Pharaoh arms himself and gathers his armies to chase the former slaves to the shore of the Red Sea. Held back by a pillar of fire, the Egyptian forces can only watch as Moses parts the waters to provide his people an escape route. As the Hebrews race over the seabed, the pillar of fire dies down and the army rides in hot pursuit. The Hebrews make it to the far shore just in time to witness God's closing of the waters on the Egyptian army, drowning every man and horse. Rameses looks on in despair. All he can do is return to Nefretiri, confessing to her, "His god...IS God."

The former slaves camp at the foot of Sinai and wait as Moses again ascends the mountain. When Moses delays coming down from Sinai, the Hebrews lose faith and, urged on by the evil Dathan, build a golden calf as an idol to bear before them back to Egypt, hoping to win Rameses' forgiveness. Aaron is forced to help fashion the gold plating. Dathan also orders Lilia to be sacrificed. The people proceed to indulge their most wanton desires in an orgy of sinfulness. Sephora, now re-united with Moses, tells the people that he has gone to receive God's Law, and Bithiah asks, "Would the God who's shown you such wonders let Moses die before his work is done?" But their defences are mostly disregarded after Dathan's demagoguery.

Meanwhile, high atop the mountain, Moses witnesses God's creation of the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. When he finally climbs down, Moses beholds his people's iniquity and hurls the tablets at the idol in a rage. The idol explodes, and Dathan and his followers are killed, a burning crevasse swallows all who do not join Moses at his side. After God forces them to endure forty years' exile in the desert wandering lost to prove their loyalty, the Hebrews finally are on the eve of arriving in the land of Israel. An elderly Moses then appoints Joshua to succeed him as leader (with Lilia by Joshua's side), says a final good bye to his devoted wife Sephora, and goes forth out of Israel to his destiny.


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the killer

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 November 2011 06:07 (A review of The Killer)

A Hong Kong assassin, Ah Jong (Chow Yun-fat), is on his last job for the Triad (a criminal organization), but accidentally damages the eyes of a young nightclub singer named Jennie (Sally Yeh) with a muzzle flash in a shootout. After the attack, Ah Jong begins to watch Jennie perform at the nightclub and escorts her home when she is attacked by thugs. Jennie and Ah Jong begin to fall in love during his frequent visits at her apartment. Driven to help her secure the money for a sight-saving corneal transplant, he accepts one final hit. A police detective, Li Ying (Danny Lee), spots Ah Jong completing the job but Ah Jong escapes. The Triad double crosses Ah Jong and instead of paying him sends assassins to kill him. During Ah Jong's escape from the Triad, a young child is injured by a stray bullet. Ah Jong saves the child by taking her to the hospital.

Li becomes obsessed with Ah Jong's act of good will. Li and his partner Sgt. Tsang (Kenneth Tsang) find out Ah Jong visits Jennie at her apartment; they plan to arrest Ah Jong the next time he visits. Ah Jong visits Jennie and is caught in an ambush from which he manages to scramble away. Li and Tsang explain to Jennie that Ah Jong was the assassin that blinded her at the nightclub. Ah Jong meets with his Triad manager, Fung Sei (Chu Kong), and demands his payment for finishing the job. This is a Triad ambush which Ah Jong fights and escapes, but he leaves Fung Sei alive.

Li begins to close-in on Ah Jong after Tsang follows Fung Sei, Tsang is killed after revealing the location of his home. Because of their friendship, Fung Sei leaves a large stock pile of weaponry for Ah Jong. The home is another ambush; Li is first to attack followed by a group of Triad. Li gets caught in the middle of Ah Jong and the Triad. Ah Jong and Li flee, and while Ah Jong's wounds are healing, they find themselves bonding and becoming friends. Li, Ah Jong, and Jennie wait in a church for Fung Sei to return with Ah Jong's money. Fung Sei arrives with the money, horribly beaten by gangsters who have followed him. A bloody shootout among the men ends with a Mexican standoff between the leader of the Triad, Wong Hoi, and Ah Jong and Li. Ah Jong manages to shoot Wong Hoi, but Wong Hoi is able to return a shot which kills Ah Jong. A police squadron arrives; Wong Hoi begs to be taken into custody but Li fatally shoots him.


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rio lobo

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 November 2011 06:06 (A review of Rio Lobo)

The film opens during the American Civil War. Col. Cord McNally (John Wayne) has instructions telegraphed to his close friend, Lt. Forsythe (Peter Jason), in charge of the Union troops on a Union army payroll train. However, Confederates led by Capt. Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Sgt. Tuscarora Phillips (Christopher Mitchum) hijack the train. They have an elegant plan of listening in on the telegraph wires, greasing the tracks to stop the train, disconnecting the payroll wagon from the engine so it would roll back down the hill, using a hornet's nest to force the Union guards to jump off the train, then catching the train with many ropes tied to trees. In the process, Lt. Forsythe is fatally injured.

In the subsequent fighting, they trick McNally and capture him. But McNally leads them into a Union camp, pushes a branch forward, and lets it swing back to knock Tuscarora off his horse, then yells out to the camp. As the Confederates flee, McNally jumps Cordona. McNally realizes that a traitor must be selling information to the Confederate States of America, in order for the hijackings to be successful. McNally questions the pair, but they give him no information and are imprisoned.

When the War ends, McNally visits them as they are being released, and asks them to tell him from whom they got their information. When Tuscarora points out that they were the ones who had killed McNally's friends yet McNally has nothing against them, McNally replies that the killing was an act of war, while the one who sold them the information was a traitor. Unfortunately they don't know the traitors' identities, having only seen them from a distance. One was a big, dark-haired, mustachioed man, and the other was very white-haired and pale. McNally then tells Cordona and Tuscarora that if they should ever come across these men again, to contact him through a friend of his, Pat Cronin (Bill Williams), who is the sheriff of Blackthorne in Texas. Tuscarora is on his way to Rio Lobo, Texas where he grew up.

Later McNally is contacted by Cronin on instructions from Cordona. When he arrives in Blackthorne, however, Cordona is sleeping in a hotel room with a girl. While waiting for him, a woman, Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O'Neill), arrives, wishing to report a murder that took place in Rio Lobo. Cronin claims that there's nothing he can do, because Rio Lobo is outside his jurisdiction. Later a posse from Rio Lobo arrives and wants to take Delaney away. She claims, however, that the leader, "Whitey" (Robert Donner), is the murderer about whom she has been talking.

When one of the posse aims a gun at Cronin, Shasta shoots Whitey under the table, and Cronin and McNally finish off the posse. As the last one is about to shoot McNally, Cordona appears at the top of the stairs and shoots the gunman. Shasta faints from the shock of killing someone. Cordona tells McNally that Whitey was one of the men for whom McNally was looking. He goes on to tell McNally that Tuscarora had contacted him and had told him that he saw one of the men, for whom McNally is looking in Rio Lobo. He also reports that there is trouble in Rio Lobo and that Tuscarora needs help. His father and other ranchers are being bullied by a man named Ketcham, who installed his sheriff, "Blue Tom" Hendricks (Mike Henry), after Hendricks killed the previous incumbent.

So McNally, Cordona, and Shasta go to Rio Lobo, where they discover graft and corruption. Hendricks arrests Tuscarora on trumped up charges. For further help, they go to Tuscarora's father, Old Man Philips (Jack Elam). When the three sneak into Ketcham's ranch, McNally learns that Ketcham is really Sergeant Major Ike Gorman (Victor French), the traitor. McNally punches him around and forces him to sign the title deeds of the ranches back to their rightful owners. Philips then wires the triggers back, forming a dead-man's trap, on his double barreled shotgun so they can order Hendricks and his men out of the jail . They take over the town jail for cover, freeing Tuscarora, while Cordona goes for the Cavalry. Meanwhile, Tuscarora's girlfriend Maria Carmen (Susana Dosamantes) and her friend Amelita (Sherry Lansing) lend assistance. For that, Hendricks slashes Amelita's face, and Amelita swears to McNally that she will kill Hendricks.

However, Ketcham's men capture Cordona. Ketcham's gang offers to trade Cardona for Ketcham. In the meantime, word spread of the trade and roughly 20 ranchers (many who were part of the train raid) offered to help, knowing that, if McNally failed, the town would have gained nothing from the returned deeds. During the prisoner exchange, Cordona dives from the bridge into the river where Tuscarora was hiding. McNally yells out that Ketcham is now bankrupt, having signed the deeds back, so the furious sheriff guns Ketcham down, and in turn, McNally and the sheriff shoot each other in the leg.

After a failed attempt to blow up the cantina McNally's force was in, they are outflanked and outgunned by the other ranchers who have come to help. Hendricks's men realize that and they flee. Hendricks shoots at them, but he had been using his rifle as a walking cane and it had become clogged with mud, and it explodes in his face. As he stumbles to his horse, Amelita guns him down, thus keeping her word. The film ends with her helping McNally walk.


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apache

Posted : 6 years ago on 30 November 2011 06:04 (A review of Apache)

The first of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy", Fort Apache stars John Wayne as captain Kirby York and Henry Fonda as Custer clone Lt. Col. Owen Thursday. Resentful of his loss in rank and transfer to the West after serving gallantly in the Civil War, the vainglorious Thursday insists upon imposing rigid authority on rough-and-tumble Fort Apache. He is particularly anxious to do battle with the local Indians, despite York's admonitions that the trouble around the fort is being fomented not by the so-called savages but by corrupt white Indian agents. Thursday nonetheless ends up in a climactic set-to with Indian chief Cochise. He and his men are needlessly slaughtered, but the Eastern press builds "Thursday's Charge" into an incident of conspicuous valor--and York, ever loyal to the cavalry, is not about to tell the whole truth. The bare bones of Fort Apache's plotline are fleshed out with several subplots, including the romance between Thursday's daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple) and Lt. Mickey O'Rourke (John Agar), the son of Fort Apache veteran Sgt. Michael O'Rourke (Ward Bond). There's also plenty of time for the expected drunken-brawl humor of Victor McLaglen. Not in the least politically correct, Fort Apache is a classic of its kind, and together with Rio Grande (1950) the best of the John Ford/John Wayne Cavalry films


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