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Bad Ass / The Tournament / Cockneys vs Zombies

120px-Film-stripA very quick round-up of films, all watched at home. With the cancellation of the Cineworld cards and a decision to stay at home more to help out with the kids (and save money), we’ve got a huge stash of movies to get through that we didn’t have the time for before. The last couple of nights we made it through season 3 (as it is so far) of The Walking Dead, but before that we had a mini-movie-marathon.

Cockneys Vs Zombies

“If we’re not backing in 10 minutes… fucking wait longer.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two failed bank robbers must save their grandad’s OAP home from demolition… and the Zombie Apocalypse

See it if you like: Gory, funny slasher films

Better than it had any right to be, this is a spiritual successor to Shaun of the Dead, in that it’s a zombie film, a comedy and set in London. It’s also fairly low budgets but that barely shows up on the effects or on the cast who are brilliant.

Basically, the zombie apocalypse kicks off in London. Two wide boys (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) decide to rob a bank to try and save their grandad’s old folks home from being demolished and find they’ve got a ton of money, a handy collection of weapons… and the undead walking the streets. Grandad himself (Alan Ford - Snatch‘s Brick Top) doesn’t really need much assistance in the arse kicking department as he pretty much plays to type and heads the OAP revolution. The woman he aims to impress is played by none other than legend Honor Blackman.

Oh, and one of the random fuddy-duddies is Richard Briers. From The Good Life to decapitating zombies. There’s a career move for you.

Topping the list, though, is the hottest zombie slayer I’ve seen in some time – Michelle Ryan. Apparently she was in Eastenders, so obviously I’ve never seen her before. Hopefully we’ll see more of her. She looks very nice holding a gun and covered in guts…

The gore is nicely done and over the top enough to be funny. Make-up effects are superb – definitely more Shaun than Brain Dead. Plotwise it’s nice and simple, with some good set pieces and a lovely collection of one-liners thrown in for good measure. Overall, a cracking little bit of entertainment for an evening if you fancy a giggle.

Bad Ass

“I told you I didn’t wanna fight.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: OAP and failed police candidate kicks two punks asses and becomes an internet sensation… then gets pushed into doing the police’s job for them

See it if you like: “One man against many” films, with a dash of humour

Danny Trejo crops up in a lot of films in a supporting role, but this is the first time I remember him taking the lead. A shame he’s left it so long as he’s quite good. Based on a viral video involving an old guy (wearing the same shirt Trejo wears in the opening scene) handing a younger man’s arse to him on the bus, the film kicks off with a similar sequence which elevates Frank Vega from down-and-out Vietnam vet to public hero.

Trouble then seems to start following him as his best friend is killed by some gangsters and the police seem unwilling or unable to pursue it. Needless to say, Vega decides to start taking matters into his own hands. So far, so Harry Brown. However, Bad Ass is a little more tongue in cheek, less edge-of-seat and not as classy as Caine’s offering.

It’s entertaining enough, for about two thirds of its length, and then it just seems to jump the shark a little. Without wanting to spoil anything – and I don’t think this will – there’s no need for the flipping bus chase sequence. It just doesn’t fit. At all. I actually thought it looked familiar, then spotted on IMDB that it’s a digitally altered version of the one from 1988′s Arnie dud Red Heat.

Not a bad movie for an evening in with some (home made) popcorn, but a shame about the ending.

The Tournament

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Tournament.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Thirty of the world’s top assassins compete against each other for a $10m price – kill or be killed

See it if you like: Bloodthirsty, fast-paced action films

Now this one was fun. A cracking cast, a simple idea, a nice back-story and lashings of violence. It also answers the question: if you wanted to set up a hugely violent conflict between gun- and knife-wielding lunatics, perhaps involving the theft of motor vehicles, some stupid driving and expect people to turn a blind eye or simply not notice that the place is being trashed… do it in Middlesbrough.

I’ve been to Middlesbrough. I can verify that it would be the ideal location.

And such is the premise. Thirty of the world’s top assassins compete in a “last man/woman breathing” competition to remove the opposition within a 24-hour timeframe. In Middlesbrough. Sorry, I just can’t get over that.

Oh, actually, it’s thirty assassins and an unwitting alcoholic priest (Robert Carlyle) who gets dragged into things. Obviously, we don’t get to focus on all thirty competitors but the handful we do get to follow are well played and provide a lovely variety of set piece fight sequences and other stunts.

Someone who many may recognise, but not be able to name is Sébastien Foucan. The Frenchman starred in the opening sequence of the fairly recent Casino Royale Bond movie, utilising his incredible skills at parkour. Here, he’s typecast but who cares? He’s great to watch in all his wall-jumping glory, and takes part in the most ridiculous sequence in the film (possibly – there are a few).

Carlyle ends up under the wing of Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu), who decides to protect this unwilling participant for reasons which become slightly clearer as the film progresses. Hu, incidentally, has a hell of a career as a voice actress and has also popped up in a huge number of well known TV series. However, this is only the third or fourth major film she’s appeared in and this staggers me based on this performance. She, frankly, kicks ass. A very convincing action star, in my opinion.

Making a return appearance in the tournament is the previous winner, Joshua Harlow (Ving Rhames). Harlow didn’t intend to compete again, but seeing as some nasty person killed his wife and is apparently also taking part he decides to dust off the killing kit and join up.

Basically, the plot is an excuse to stick a lot of quality action into ninety minutes and sell it to an audience. It works. While not as silly as Shoot ‘Em Up, it’s every bit as entertaining. Pointless, filled full of errors and physics-defying nonsense but – quite simply – who cares? It wraps you up in it’s ridiculousness and doesn’t let go until the credits roll.

Sure, the plot’s predictable. You know within twenty minutes how it’ll end – but isn’t that the case with most horror films these days? It’s just working out how each cast member will pop their clogs that keeps the interest and The Tournament does this well.

Definitely recommended for one of those “I’ve had a bad day – take my mind off work” evenings.

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