Blu-ray Movie Review – The Stuff (1985)

The Stuff
Directed by Larry Cohen
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1985
Blu-ray Date of Release: April 19, 2016

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I was 11 years-old when THE STUFF came out on VHS, and I got to enjoy the film a short while later. At the time, I remember thinking the movie was a bit tame for my standards, however it was still excellent and very entertaining. Here it is, 30 years later, and I can still state the same things. THE STUFF is full of gooey, horrific goodness, and I highly recommend you check it out. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll love revisiting this one in HD; and if you’re new to the film, well, you’re in for a treat.

If you are not familiar with THE STUFF, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:

Are you eating it …or is it eating you? The Stuff is the new dessert taking supermarket shelves by storm. It’s delicious, low in calories and – better still – doesn’t stain the family carpet… What’s not to like?! Well, for a start it has a life of its own, and we’re not talking friendly live bacteria… Young Jason seems to be the only one who doesn’t love The Stuff – in fact he won’t go anywhere near it, after having seen the pudding crawling around the fridge one night. What’s more, everyone who eats The Stuff has started acting really weird… Now, teaming up with wise-cracking industrial saboteur “Mo”, Jason must put a stop to The Stuff and the organization behind it or face a gooey, gloopy demise. Coming courtesy of horror auteur Larry Cohen (director of the It’s Alive series and scribe behind the Maniac Cop trilogy), The Stuff is a titillating treat for the taste-buds which blends elements of films such as Street Trash with the straight-up B-movie flavor of The Blob. So grab a spoon and dig on into The Stuff – the taste that delivers… much more than you bargained for!

I love the premise of THE STUFF: a guy walking around a worksite sees a gooey substance coming out of the ground. So what does he do? Well, he dips his fingers in and tastes it, of course! What else would you do? This comedic start to the film shows the lightheartedness of the concept, and then it sets the tone for a darkly humorous commentary about consumerism and society’s blind submission to marketing.

THE STUFF is shot well and looks very good onscreen, thanks to Arrow Video and MVD’s HD transfer. I found only a couple of grainy scenes, usually during lower-light shots, but the rest of the film looks great. Likewise, the sound has been amped up as well.

The acting in THE STUFF is good but campy, which is exactly what the film strives for early on. Michael Moriarty does a great job as the lead, and he is joined by an interesting ensemble of supporting actors that include Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello, and Garrett Morris.

The special effects are surprisingly good, given the time period. Most of them are practical effects, and they look great. But there are also a few camera-tricks used that still look good, however it’s sometimes obvious. For example, when Jason is trapped in the tanker truck and the stuff is oozing toward him, it’s pretty blatant that the goo is superimposed from another piece of film. Still, this does not detract from the film at all.

THE STUFF is a huge win for me, and I think it’s another fine feather in the caps of Arrow Video and MVD Distribution. The Blu-ray also contains some nice Special Features, such as:

• New High Definition restoration of the film from a brand new 2K scan of the original camera negative
• Original stereo 1.0 uncompressed PCM Mono audio
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Can t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen s Classic Creature Feature Documentary featuring Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, Steve Neill (mechanical makeup effects) and Kim Newman
• Introduction and trailer commentary by director and The Stuff fan Darren Bousman (Saw II, Saw III)
• Original Trailer
• Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
• Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joel Harley, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials

Movie Review – Star Knight (1985)

Aside

Star Knight
(AKA El Caballero del Dragon)
Directed by Fernando Colomo
Courtesy of Cheezy Flicks
Original Year of Release: 1985
DVD Release Date: November 19, 2010

star-knight-harvey-keitel-dvd-cover-art

I know what you’re thinking: you are wondering why I would bother reviewing a movie with the title of STAR KNIGHT. I mean, let’s face it…the title screams “80’s crappiness”. In my defense, I chose to review the movie because it boasted a couple of iconic film names, particularly Klaus Kinski and Harvey Keitel. I enjoy both actors immensely, and I figured they wouldn’t steer me wrong.

Boy, did I miss the mark on that assumption.

STAR KNIGHT is downright terrible, but it definitely deserves a plot of honor in the Cheezy Flicks library. I wish I could say I had fun with this one, but certain aspects of it were almost too painful to endure.

If you are not familiar with STAR KNIGHT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks Entertainment:

In a time of wizards and dragons, a mystic quest brings a distant traveler to a place called Earth!

It is the dark ages. Knights patrol the countryside, Kings make the rules, and princesses go silently about their royal duties. Princesses, that is, who aren’t Princess Alba (Maria Lamor). When Princess Alba is apparently abducted by a dragon, it’s up to Klever (Harvey Keitel) to save her. What Klever finds, however, is not a dragon at all – but a strange beast-like craft from the stars – a craft with an occupant, a humanoid alien from another planet. Things heat up when, during Princess Alba’s rescue, Klever gets closer to the alien than he ever expected – and learns that Alba isn’t being held against her will after all – she is in love with the strange, futuristic traveler.

I actually think the premise of this film sounds good, and it could be an entertaining movie IF it were done the right way, with the right director. Unfortunately, this project never should have been greenlit from the start.

STAR KNIGHT is shot decently and looks pretty good onscreen. The cinematography offers nothing outstanding, however it doesn’t detract from the film.

The acting is particularly terrible, and I have to shake my head in regard to Keitel’s and Kinski’s characters. Both are annoying, although Kinski’s is definitely the lesser of the two. Keitel’s dialogue is atrocious, and I cannot believe he agreed to do it. Why they have him speaking like a character from Shakespeare while everybody else sounds normal, I’ll never understand, but it really gets old fast. Kinski, on the other hand, delivers a cardboard performance that makes me wonder if he was contractually obligated to be in the film and therefore cared nothing about it.

The special effects are surprisingly good for the most part. I am impressed with what the production team was able to accomplish for that time period, given the lack of CGI and whatnot. I particularly like the alien ship when it takes off and lands; it reminded me (for some reason) of the Nostromo from ALIEN.

STAR KNIGHT is schlocky 80’s sludge that I cannot recommend watching. The only saving grace for the film are the special effects, and they are very few and far between. I’d steer clear of this, unless you must have it to complete your Keitel or Kinski collection.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Dangerous Men (2005)

Dangerous Men
Directed by Jahangir Salehi (as John S. Rad)
Courtesy of Drafthouse Films & MVD Distribution
Year(s) of Production: 1985 & 1995
Blu-ray Release Date: April 22, 2016

Dangerous Men

When it comes to quality entertainment, I rank Drafthouse Films right up there with the likes of Arrow Video and Anchor Bay. Drafthouse has released some real gems over the years, and I’m proud to say I have several of their titles in my collection. But none of their prior releases compare to DANGEROUS MEN, an action-crime-drama from director John S. Rad. Is DANGEROUS MEN an awesome film, you ask? Lord, no. It’s horrible. In fact, it might be the worst film I’ve ever seen. But that is the very reason you will want to pick this one up. The film is beyond awful, and it sucks so bad that you’ll have the time of your life watching it!

If you are not familiar with DANGEROUS MEN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Drafthouse Films:

In 1979, Iranian filmmaker John S. Rad moved to the U.S. to shoot his dream project, a rampaging gutter epic of crime, revenge, cop sex and raw power. Just 26 years later, he completed an American action film masterpiece that the world is still barely ready for today: DANGEROUS MEN.

After Mina witnesses her fiancé’s brutal murder by beach thugs, she sets out on a venomous spree to eradicate all human trash from Los Angeles. Armed with a knife, a gun, and an undying rage, she murders her way through the masculine half of the city’s populace. A renegade cop is hot on her heels, a trail that also leads him to the subhuman criminal overlord known as Black Pepper.

It’s a pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, brain-devouring onslaught of ’80s thunder, ’90s lightning, and pure filmmaking daredevilry from another time and/or dimension. Blades flash, blood flows, bullets fly and synthesizers blare as the morgue overflows with the corpses of DANGEROUS MEN.

I’m not joking when I say this film is BAD. But I’m also serious when I say you should buy it. Although it’s an atrocity of cinema, I had a great time watching it. I kept commenting out loud about EVERYTHING terrible in it, until my wife (who was in the next room) told me to shut up and watch the movie. Thus ended my MST3K verbal dialogue, but I kept spitting it out in my head.

DANGEROUS MEN is shot like an amateur high school production, and the picture quality leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not up to today’s standards. Despite being released on Blu-ray, the source material of the film lacked quality, therefore Drafthouse had to use what they had for the HD transfer. The same can be said for the sound; it’s not awful, but it’s definitely not great.

The acting is atrocious, and nobody gives a decent performance. Many of the cast members appear to read their lines from cue cards, and there’s even a scene where the police chief gets his lines from a paper on his desk! Likewise, the fight scenes are laughable from the get-go, and they all use the same “punch” sound for every impact. The result is a caricature of a Saturday morning kung-fu film from the 70s.

But as I said, this film offers A LOT of entertainment value nonetheless. It’s like watching a film your seven year-old made on a VHS camcorder with his friends; you know it’s going to suck, but you’ll love it anyway. And after all, what should we expect? DANGEROUS MEN started shooting in 1985, but then lost its budget. The film resumed filming 10 years later, but this time had different characters and actors. When it was spliced together, a monstrous hybrid was created, and the world of cinema will never be the same.

One of the biggest flaws (i.e. joys) of DANGEROUS MEN is the ending. I will go ahead and spoil it for you, because the rest of the film doesn’t make much sense anyway. The main character disappears about ¾ of the way through the film, and three minor characters end the movie. I laughed so hard when the credits started rolling that I thought I was going to throw up.

DANGEROUS MEN is a cinematic catastrophe, and I highly recommend it. The film is available now, so make a note to snag it ASAP.

MSB

Movie Review – Flight 7500 (2016)

Flight 7500
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: April 12, 2016

flight-7500-dvd-cover-02

FLIGHT 7500 is one of those films you either love or hate, and judging from the ratings on IMDB, many people are not very fond of this one. I am surprised, too, because I found this film gripping and intense. Director Takashi Shimizu, best known for THE GRUDGE, SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D, and TORMENTED, skillfully blends together a supernatural mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. If you can look past the critics on this one and give it a shot, I think you’ll be in for a fun surprise.

If you are not familiar with FLIGHT 7500, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

From the director of The Grudge comes this spine-chilling journey into fear. On a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, a plane is shaken by severe weather. When the turbulence subsides, a passenger suddenly dies—and a supernatural force is unleashed, overtaking the passengers as they desperately fight to figure out what it is and how to stop it.

I confess I didn’t see the end coming, so it caught me off guard when the big reveal was unleashed. I love when a movie can surprise me, which doesn’t happen very often these days.

The film boasts a great cast, with Ryan Kwanten from TRUE BLOOD fame headlining. He is joined by some great talent, which includes Leslie Bibb, Amy Smart, and Jamie Chung. I’ve seen these folks in previous titles, and I have enjoyed just about everything they have done.

There are not many special effects in FLIGHT 7500, but those we do get to see are pretty decent. My sole complaint would have to be the airplane itself. A couple of the exterior shots make it blatantly clear that it is a CG plane. Otherwise, things look good.

The story and the mystery within it are the biggest winners here. Granted, some viewers will probably not like the twist, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess if I were forced to find a flaw with it, I would have to admit a couple of minor subplots are not explained. These are small issues, however, and they do not hinder the film otherwise.

FLIGHT 7500 is a win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. The film is available now.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – La Grande Bouffe (1973)

La Grande Bouffe
Directed by Marco Ferreri
Courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1973
Blu-ray Release Date: August 18, 2015

la grande

When it comes to bizarre films, I’ll give just about anything a chance (granted the subject matter is not illegal or repulsive). Sometimes, I think you just have to indulge in a bit of the freaky to get a nice dose of entertainment. So when I heard about LA GRANDE BOUFFE, I knew I had to give it a shot. I had heard the title whispered in video stores decades ago, but I never thought I’d have the chance to watch it. Now, thanks to Arrow Video and MVD Distribution, this cult-classic is available in HD.

LA GRANDE BOUFFE is one of those films that almost defies classification. It’s part horrific, part hilarious, and part, well, social commentary. But despite how you label it, the film is crazy and a lot of fun.

If you are not familiar with LA GRANDE BOUFFE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:

The most famous film by Italian provocateur Marco Ferreri (Dillinger is Dead), La Grande bouffe was reviled on release for its perversity, decadence and attack on the bourgeoisie yet won the prestigious FIPRESCI prize after its controversial screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

Four friends, played by international superstars Marcello Mastroianni (Fellini’s 8½), Michel Piccoli (Belle de jour), Ugo Tognazzi (Barbarella) and Philippe Noiret (Zazie dans le métro) retreat to a country mansion where they determine to eat themselves to death whilst engaging in group activities with ladies of the night and a local school teacher (Andréa Ferréol, The Tin Drum), who seems to be up for anything…

At once jovial and sinister, the film’s jet-black humor has a further twist as the reputed actors (whose characters use their own names) buck their respectable trend for a descent into chaos that delivers a feast for the eyes and mind.

I have to confess this is one of the more bizarre films I’ve seen in the past few years. Is that a bad thing? Not at all…but I feel I have to warn you up front, so you know what you’re in for.

LA GRANDE BOUFFE is shot fairly well, and it looks good as a whole, but you can definitely tell it is dated. Still, the HD restoration seems well done, and the resulting picture is very clear.

The acting is excellent, with an all-star cast of international stars. I don’t think director Marco Ferreri could have picked a better cast, particularly given the time period.

As for the story, it is beyond strange and downright disturbing in some rights. But that’s a big part of what makes it so much fun. Watching these guys work themselves into the grave is shocking but yet funny and whimsical at times. My sole complaint about the film is the length; it clocks in at over two hours, but could have easily been wrapped up in 90 minutes.

With that aside, LA GRANDE BOUFFE is a big, weird win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. The Blu-ray hosts a slew of Special Features that include:

• Brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
• Original French audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Newly translated English subtitles
• The Farcical Movie – A French television profile of Marco Ferreri from 1975 in which the director discusses, among other things, the influence of Tex Avery, Luis Buñuel and Tod Browning’s Freaks
• Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of La Grande bouffe, containing interviews with Ferrari and actors Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret
• Extracts from the television series Couleurs autour d’un festival featuring interviews with the cast and crew recorded during the Cannes Film Festival
• A visual essay on the film with by Italian film scholar Pasquale Iannone
• Select scene audio commentary by Iannone
• News report from the Cannes Film Festival where La Grande bouffe caused a controversial stir, including Ferreri at the press conference
• Original Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

MSB

Movie Review – Ip Man 3 (2016)

Ip Man 3
Directed by Wilson Yip
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: April 19, 2016

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I am consistently fascinated with the legacy Grandmaster Ip Man left behind. Any martial arts master who is worthy enough to warrant three films about his/her life is certainly worthy of my interest. And Ip Man certainly fits this criteria. Many action fans are probably not familiar with him, although they owe him a debt of gratitude. Ip Man was responsible for ushering in some of the greatest names in kung fu cinema, including the legendary Bruce Lee.

As such, I find it only fitting that a modern-day master portray him on film. Donnie Yen, who has played the titular role in two films prior to this one, reprises his role as the iconic Ip Man, and he once again does so with expert ease. IP MAN 3 is an excellent conclusion to this epic trilogy, and it is an excellent film even as a stand-alone.

If you are not familiar with IP MAN 3, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

Igniting the screen in the role that made him an icon, Donnie Yen (IP MAN 1 & 2, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON 2) returns to the blockbuster martial arts series as Ip Man, the real-life Wing Chun grandmaster who mentored Bruce Lee.

When a ruthless real estate developer (Mike Tyson) and his team of brutal gangsters make a play to take over the city, Master Ip is forced to take a stand against the crooks, thugs, gunmen, and another rival Wing Chun master (Jin Zhang) to protect his students, his city, and his own family.

Fists will fly as some of the most incredible fight scenes ever filmed, choreographed by the legendary Yuen Woo Ping (THE MATRIX, KILL BILL), come to life in this genre classic.

I love everything about this film, and I don’t say that very much when it comes to martial arts movies. Some films have great action but boring plots; some boast interesting concepts but wooden characters; and, still some have cruddy fight scenes but nice scenery. IP MAN 3 has a little bit of everything, including drama, humor, and most importantly, insane martial arts action.

IP MAN 3 is shot well and looks great onscreen. The production value appears high, and the sets and locales are top notch. I had no problem believing I was in 1950s China.

The acting in IP MAN 3 is excellent. As mentioned, Yen gives a powerhouse of a performance as Ip Man. But there’s much more to Yen’s character than fighting. In this film, Ip Man discovers his wife has cancer, and he devotes much of his time to her instead of fighting. We get to see a tender, emotional side to Ip Man, and Yen offers this up with skill and expertise. I was touched at how well Yen delved into the emotional aspect of the role.

But the fighting is sensational as well, thanks in part to Yuen Woo Ping, the mastermind action genius who deserves a biographical film of his own. IP MAN 3 gives the viewer some of the best kung fu action around. One fight scene in particular takes place in an elevator, where Ip Man must battle a Muy Thai fighter, while at the same time protecting his wife. I love the intensity in this scene, and the hardcore action is heart-stopping.

IP MAN 3 is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. This tremendous conclusion to the trilogy is a welcome addition, and I cannot wait to see what Yen does next. The film hits store shelves on Tuesday, the 19th, so make a note.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Courtesy of Mondo Macabro & CAV DistributionOriginal Year of Release: 1971
Blu-ray Release Date: February 9, 2016

a lizard

When an avid horror fan like me thinks of Horror Icons, the name Lucio Fulci immediately pops into mind. Fulci is probably one of the Grand Masters of Horror, in my opinion, and he is responsible for many classics that will forever influence filmmakers of the genre. A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN is a fine example of this excellence, even if it is a bit different from Fulci’s trademark gory style. If you’ve never experienced a Fulci film, now is the time to start.

Carol Hammond, the sexually frustrated wife of a successful London lawyer, is having bizarre, erotic dreams about her uninhibited neighbor, Julia Durer, who presides over noisy, sex and drug filled parties in the house next door. One night, Carol’s dreams culminate in violent death and she wakes to find her nightmares have become reality – Julia has been murdered and Carol is the main suspect.

This first US Blu-ray release of the film, taken from the original negative, is the longest uncut version currently available and it comes with a host of exclusive extras. Directed by controversial film maker Lucio Fulci (The New York Ripper, House by the Cemetery, Zombie), Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is considered by many critics to be his finest achievement.

A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN is a very strange name for this atmospheric piece, but I suppose the symbolism fits into the plot. The story is almost a fever-dream of epic proportions, and sometimes I had a hard time deciding whether or not Carol was dreaming. This didn’t detract from the film at all, and it actually heightened my enjoyment.

A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN is shot well and looks excellent, particularly on Blu-ray. The HD transfer is great, and I greatly enjoyed the picture restoration that was done. I’ve never seen the film on DVD, however I’ve been told the picture degradation was pretty bad in spots.

The acting in the film is very good, although I have to confess I did not recognize any of the cast members. Still, there’s no denying the talent involved with this picture.

Special effects aren’t a big part of A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN, which is almost strange for a Fulci film. Gore was a big part of Fulci’s later films, and he gave me some of my first introductions to onscreen carnage. But this film does not need it. The story and the atmosphere it builds are enough to carry the film where it needs to go.

A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN is another big win for me, and I highly recommend it. In addition to the HD picture and sound, the Blu-ray offers Special Features such as:

Special Features:
• Brand new HD transfer from film negative
• Shedding the Skin – documentary
• Dr Lucio Fulci’s Day for Night – directed by Antonietta De Lillo – interview with Lucio Fulci
• Interview with writer Stephen Thrower
• Interview with actor Tony Adams
• Audio commentary with Kris Gavin
• Two original trailers
• Radio spots
• Italian/English Language/subtitle choices

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Pray for Death (1985)

Pray for Death
Directed by Gordon Hessler
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1985
Blu-ray Release Date: February 16, 2016

pray

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of watching ninja movies with my little brother. We couldn’t get enough of those masked assassins, and we devoured every title we could find. Over the course of our “ninja phase”, we probably watched well over 30 titles. But even so, one actor’s name quickly stood out: Sho Kosugi. For us, he was the real deal, and we had no problems believing he was truly a ninja. Come to find out, Kosugi really IS a ninja and has studied many forms of the art. As such, his films are classified by some (myself included) as classics of the martial arts genre. PRAY FOR DEATH is one of these iconic titles, and I enjoyed it as much today as I did when I was a kid.

If you are not familiar with PRAY FOR DEATH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Distribution:

In Pray for Death, martial arts legend Sho Kosugi (Enter the Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination) stars as a family man driven to exact vigilante justice – ninja style! Japanese Restauranteur Akira (Kosugi) has taken his wife and two boys to the United States in search of a better life. But their slice of the American Dream is quickly soured when they fall foul of a group of vicious jewelry thieves. Unfortunately for the bad guys, they didn’t count on Akira being a secret black ninja. The samurai sword of vengeance falls swift and hard in this classic slice of ’80s ninja action from director Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), culminating in an action-packed showdown with a bodycount worthy of Commando.

When looking at films like this, you have to remember: these paved the way for modern-day classics, such as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, IRON MONKEY, and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. As such, some of the action may seem a bit relaxed when compared to these recent hits. This is by no means a negative for me, but I feel I have to warn you in advance; some folks expect modern-day action in older films.

PRAY FOR DEATH is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The Blu-ray transfer looks amazing, and the picture is a testament to HD quality. Likewise, the sound is top-notch. You can’t ask for much more from an 80s-film update.

The acting in PRAY FOR DEATH is good for a film of this nature. Some action films have wooden performers who either overact to the point of hilarity or cannot act to save their lives. This film boasts a nice cast, particularly Kosugi himself, who I always found to be a fairly credible actor.

But the action is the biggest winner for me in this movie. Chocked full of martial arts mayhem, there’s a lot to enjoy. The fight scenes are fun, and so is the gore. I had forgotten just how much carnage we get, but I was pleasantly surprised. The special effects look good, and there’s quite a few of them.

Arrow and MVD have another hit on their hands with PRAY FOR DEATH, and I highly recommend it. Existing fans of the 80s ninja-craze will be nostalgic, while newcomers will find plenty to enjoy here as well. The film is available now, so make a note to grab it.

MSB

Movie Review – Exposed (2016)

Exposed
Directed by Declan Dale
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: March 29, 2016

exposed

I didn’t think it could possibly happen, but it did: Lionsgate has handed me the Worst Movie of 2016 (so far). The film is EXPOSED, and it stars Keanu Reeves and Ana de Armas, two actors I usually enjoy onscreen. What makes this situation even more sad is that the film could have been mesmerizing. Unfortunately, this is a scenario where the executives at the film company thought they knew better than the director. The result is a garbled mess of a film that is a massive waste of time and money.

If you are not familiar with EXPOSED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

As New York City Detective Scotty Galban (Keanu Reeves) investigates the death of his partner, he begins to unravel clues about disturbing police corruption and a dangerous secret leading him to a troubled young woman (Ana de Armas), who holds the key to solving his partner’s murder.

If you don’t recognize the director’s name, don’t be surprised; it’s not a real name. It’s used as a way to shield the original director from the travesty the film company edited together. According to IMDB, here is the “director’s” bio:

“Declan Dale is a pseudonym used much in the way that the name Alan Smithee was used for films that a director has disowned. Dale’s only film is Exposed, a Keanu Reeves thriller that was significantly edited by Lionsgate Premiere without the original director’s permission. The film, originally titled DAUGHTER OF GOD, was a surreal bi-lingual drama, reminiscent of PAN’S LABYRINTH and IRREVERSIBLE, that focused on child abuse, violence towards women, mass incarceration, and police violence committed under the color of authority. However, the executives at Lionsgate Premiere thought they had been sold a Keanu Reeves cop-thriller. To increase the film’s potential box office, during the editing process Lionsgate changed the story’s focus to center on Reeves’ character, and changed the movie into a generic crime-thriller. The director disowned the film, using the pseudonym of Declan Dale.”

This pretty much says everything you need to know about EXPOSED. If you watch it, you’ll feel like you’re viewing two separate films that were spliced together. There’s no coherency in the plot, and thus, no entertainment value at all.

I read online that Keanu Reeves’ character was supposed to be a secondary and lesser figure in the film; the primary focus was supposed to be Ana de Armas and her plight. Shifting gears and trying to use a lesser character as the main destroyed the plotline and therefore fractured my viewing experience. I am stunned this film was even released; it should have been scrapped.

EXPOSED is a huge NO for me, and I cannot recommend it. The original concept of the film sounds like it would have been interesting and fun. But instead, thanks to the quest for the almighty dollar, we are given a poor excuse for a film. It is available now, if you decide to take a look.

MSB