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Curving Bullets, a Disgruntled Super Hero and a Kung Fu Panda

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

Two movies a day have become so passé, so I thought I’d go for three on Friday, at least this time it was all at the same place. Wanted, Hancock and Kung Fu Panda have just been released in Chennai and the trailers were good enough to consider a re-look. Wanted is loosely based on a comic book series, Hancock is about a super hero and Kung Fu Panda is an animation. But there the similarity ends. Wanted is an out and out action movie, while Kung Fu Panda is a cross between action and comedy. I am not sure were Hancock is positioned, but it is not kids and I would not recommend the movie who is not a Will Smith fan.

Wanted has a decent star cast with Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie in its helm. The story revolves around an overstressed accountant (McAvoy), a complete loser, who finds out his father was a part of an elite secret group of assassins – The Fraternity, who have remained in the shadows for over a millennium. His father has been killed by a rogue Fraternity member and now they want him to avenge his father. Sloan (Freeman) is the charismatic head of the Fraternity and Fox (Jolie) is assigned to induct our accountant to the Fraternity and protect him from his father’s killer, who has now marked him. The accountant is immediately put to task, to be trained as an assassin like his father. The training is not exactly Rocky Steps and is brutal, but efficient. It helps that he has an inherent ability which allows the heart to beat 400 times a minute under stress and allows him see and react faster than normal. By the end of the first half, the accountant is trained to be an assassin ready to kill his father’s killer. The movie moves on from there to become the full fledged action movie it is with a final showdown involving a lot of rats (Not the Jaane Tu variety) and a bullet that travels in a circle.

Oh, I did say they curve bullets when they fire. Frankly, I was not impressed by the curving bullets, since, well, is it physically possible? Personally, I prefer Kurt Wimmer’s Gun Kata. But otherwise, the action sequences were excellent. The car stunts were absolutely amazing and that made the movie for me. The main protagonist, McAvoy, is overshadowed by the performance of Jolie. She comes off as the better action star (Ever seen Jolie in a non action role?). Morgan Freeman is underused. The script limits the charisma that he can bring into a movie. But, if you are looking for a good action movie, “Wanted” is it.

Pumped up with adrenalin and an hour to chill, I freewalked (Is that a word yet? I have neither the power nor the flexibility for freerunning) to the nearby Spencers’ to window shop at the Landmark. Couldn’t find any good windows, but I did end up buying couple of Archies and an Asimov. Back at Sathyam.

Hancock is the most hated super hero ever. The opening sequence shows Hancock with bottle of whiskey in his hand sleeping on bench like a vagrant. A ten year old comes up and tells him there are carjackers on the loose firing at cops. While leaving he calls Hancock an asshole. That pretty much sums up the opinion of the people about Hancock. He goes on and saves the day, but unlike Powerpuff Girls, also destroys a few buildings on the way as well. His bad streak continues till he saves a PR guy with a conscience (An oxymoron in itself) who wants to clean up Hancock. Hancock sobers up and makes a good impression of the hero he is and revives himself. There’s more to the movie and it is perforated with black comedy on and off, which provides a welcome relief.

On the whole, the story is bland and the movie tries to ride on Will Smith’s aura. The trailers also focus more on Will Smith. So, if you are not a Will Smith fan, you may not find his quirkiness funny. The movie is about the development of Hancock as a person and may not appeal much to kids. It is also not of the normal super hero genre. The role of the villain is minimal, which is where the movie struggles. Ever heard of a super hero without a super villain? Even Manoj Night Shyamalan got that right in Unbreakable.

An hour at Kwiky’s with FM blaring loudly in my ears, two Archies and eight pages into the third R Daneel Olivaw book, I was back at Sathyam for the third movie of the day – Kung Fu Panda.

The trailer was very reminiscent of the late Chris Farley starrer, Beverly Hills Ninja. Both are very fat and klutzy martial arts expert wannabe, but that’s were the similarity stops. The movie starts of with a dream where the panda (Po), along with the acclaimed Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Praying Mantis, Viper and Monkey, fights for glory. Back to reality, the panda is tending to the customers of his father’s noodle shop. But trouble is around the corner. Tai Lung, the baddest Kung Fu champ around, is about to break out of prison. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, or panda rather. Grand Master Oogway is to select the Dragon Warrior to defeat Tai Lung. As the wrong person at the right time, Po is selected. What follows is the hilarious attempt of Po to learn Kung Fu met with the cold sarcasm of Master Shifu and the final face off between Po and Tai Lung.

On comedy and action, the movie contributes to the max. It is a fun filled rollicking ninety minutes of Kung Fu. The action sequences are well thought out and performed. The escape of Tai Lung was well choreographed. The animation is excellent, except for the initial dream sequence, which was similar to Samurai Jack. Po and Master Shifu does a good job in keeping the audience entertained and Tai Lung plays his part as the bad ass villain. The Furious Five have only a marginal role to play, especially Monkey and Viper (Voiced by Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu who have barely a line to say, one ponders why sign them in the first place ). On the whole, a good entertainer and well worth the time, even for grown ups.


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