Episode 98 – The Greasy Strangler (2016)

or “The Murderous Misadventures of the Crisco Kid”

Featuring: Michael “The Video Dead” St. Michaels , Sky “Don Verdean” Elobar , Elizabeth “‘Eastbound & Down’” De Razzo

Director: Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking

Writers: Toby “ABCs of Death” Harvard & Jim “ABCs of Death” Hosking

Origin: USA

Review_____

“I don’t know what to think about anything right now.”

As I sit here, eating room temperature Dollar Embargo brand clam chowder hobo style (well, my spoon is plastic rather than metal, so “sub-hobo style” then), the looming presence of the anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre reminds me of lost loves. In this case, my most recent (and likely final) failed foray into matters of the heart dropkicks her way to the forefront of my fractured psyche. We fell for each other hard and fast. After the first week she was deep into “I’ve never known anyone like you. I need you like oxygen” territory and we were exchanging ‘L’ words. Hers was “lederhosen” and mine was “lemon curry”. But, only five weeks after that vindictive little pervert Cupid nailed us with a heart-shaped nuke, we were overcome by the fallout. She broke up with me because her other boyfriend “accidentally” impregnated her, so she needed to focus on making an impromptu family with him and his other girlfriend, whom other boyfriend wanted her to “convince” that the best thing for them would be to join together as a trio. But we’ve all been there before, right? “Tale as old as time” and all that.

Anyway, rather than linger any longer on the “loved and lost” debate in the face of this Hallmark hollowday, I’ve instead paired up with my cinemasochist brother from the Hawkeye State (in that it’s the state with the lamest super power and nobody likes it?) to play a round of bad movie Russian roulette! From his secret list of six flicks (five farts and one favorite), random.org chose for me The Greasy Strangler.

Well, it could’ve been worse. I was one chamber away from the bullet of malaise known as Atlas Shrugged. Uggh. Ayn Rand is spending the rest of eternity getting her blood drained by razortooth leeches hanging on every inch of her body for writing that bullshit. Every inch. Anyway, let’s get greasy, disco people!

Oh, and if you’re anything like me (in which case, my sympathies) and were hoping this would be a US remake of The Oily Maniac, I fear that itch will have to remain unscratched…for now.

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday (or its symbolism if nothing else), today’s movie is about love. The love between a cheesy old cornball and a hootie tootie disco cutie. The love between a single parent and their child. The love between an aging disco historian and the music that shaped his life. The love between a pig-nosed weirdo and his rented shoes. The love between a man-beast and his penchant for strangling people…while drenched in grease. The Greasy Strangler is packed so tight with love, watching it will make you feel like you’re being crushed under a roomful of heart-shaped Whitman sampler boxes!

Damn. That was such a whopper of a metaphor. It was less a metaphor and more like a metaphive!

Shut up. You laughed. Liar.

Produced in part by hobbit-for-life Elijah Wood (who pulled similar duties on A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Cooties, in case you didn’t know), our tale takes place in Los Angeles. The City of Angels in the Outfield. The land of nasty redheads and bums on their knees that Randy Newman declared his passion for so, well, passionately. It’s here that tourists and everyday fans of walking tours can take part in Big Ronnie’s Disco Tour – a trudge through the down-trodden avenues and alleyways of abandoned buildings where the biggest names of the industry may or may not have done some things of interest. Just don’t inquire about the tour’s promise of free drinks, because you won’t like the result. Unless you tend to spend a lot of your lunch hours engaging in contradictory exchanges at the Argument Clinic, in which case inquire away!

The eponymous patriarch of the tour is geriatric retiree of the disco scene, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), who claims to have once had a backroom bang session with a pair of Korean twins and a certain celebrity whose name rhymes with Jichael Mackson. There was milky cum everywhere. And yes, before you ask in a distressed voice signifying your revulsion, that is an important detail I could not omit. Co-hosting the tour (in a matching uniform of pink shorts, pink sweater, gray knee-high socks and white sneakers) is Ronnie’s son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), for whom the adjective “big” clearly wasn’t earned due to his personality. An awkward, balding, unkempt milksop of a human being, Brayden manages to catch the hungry eyes of an odd little lady named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) during one such tour. The pair fall fairly quickly for each other, testing the audiences’ gastrointestinal fortitude with a series of uncomfortable scenes of intimacy. You’ve been warned.

Ronnie doesn’t take the pairing well, frequently debasing his boy to others (mostly over Bray’s tendency to shit on seemingly everything) and inserting himself into the lovebirds’ interactions in an attempt to nip their budding romance in said bud. It’s never made clear if it’s because Ron sees Janet as a threat to the odd love-hate relationship he shares with Bray or if the old man’s just jealous that his hideous offspring is getting more action than his own hideous self has had since Bill Clinton was using Monica’s ham wallet as a humidor.

Note: I didn’t use the descriptive “ham” because of a thinly veiled referral to Miss Lewinsky having any perceive resemblance to a member of the porcine family. I used it because ham is both pink and greasy, much like a lady’s rude parts (as long as you’re doing it right, anyway), so please keep any and all aggressive projections of your personal assumptions of me to things that don’t wrongly accuse me of chauvinism. Even my less-than-friendly exes would laugh you out of the room over such accusations.

Speaking of pigs, the rest of this oddball ensemble is made up of Brayden’s pig-nosed (literally) pal Oinker (Joe David Walters, who looks like the result of a drunken night of genetic engineering between Jon Benjamin and Wallace Shawn), Ronnie’s longtime discotheque brother Big Paul (Gil Gex) who’s blind and runs an automated car wash, the wonderfully weird detective Jodie (who’s what I would expect Hunter S. Thompson to become after a few years in the Black Lodge) and a small selection of victims to serve as fodder for the titular wringer of necks. Speaking of, whom is this murderer with such a clear disregard for his own personal hygiene? From whence came this inhuman atrocity that stalks the streets while a coating of congealed Crisco conceals (not really) his visage from his victims? What evil lurks in the heart that beats beneath the monster’s slimy, sludgy, rancid raiments? Why does he take it upon himself to comedically maim and menace his victims in hyper-violent manners like a modern age Toxic Avenger? Shit! Now there’s a crossover I’d sacrifice a finger for! Anyway, as much as I’d like to address there queries for you, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself!

But should you? Let’s discuss.

Greasy made me wonder if I’d blacked out at some point in my day and woke up during a very special episode of “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories”. If Jared Hess directed a script co-authored by David Lynch and John Waters, this is a pretty solid approximation of what I imagine you’d get. There’s a hodgepodge of humor, humanity, horror and outright “What the fuck am I watching?!” we’re left to rifle through which will no doubt leave a lot of people put off or pissed off. Deep down in its bowels, it has a charm all its own for those who will enjoy it. However, at the same time it comes off as a deliberate endeavor to manufacture the next big midnight movie. The problem with such an undertaking is that movies aren’t made to be cult classics, they’re chosen. It’s comparable to issuing your own nickname or giving yourself a “World’s Greatest Tubthumper” mug: you just don’t do it!

Sound snobbish? Look at Plan 9 from Outer Space or The Room. Both are movies that were made with genuine efforts and affection, helmed by misguided gents who thought they were making masterpieces. These were movies that no one genuinely liked, they were only enjoyed ironically (something that used to be fun before hipsters ruined it for the rest of us) because they were so awful that they were amazing! If it’s something you and your amigos can vet by riffing the shit out of it like refugees from the Satellite of Love? If it’s the type of movie that qualifies for Deep 13 certification? That is how a cult movie is christened – with the waters of mockery. The Greasy Strangler? It’s unriffable. It’s a movie that wants you to make fun of it, but it’s too easy. There’s no challenge. It’s made to be bad, and that’s not good. It winks so much at the audience that you ask it 20 minutes in if it needs a hit off of your Visine®!

Making jokes at the expense of its visually jarring cast and their clothing that looks like it was fished from, not a Salvation Army, but the dumpster behind a Salvation Army, is tantamount to calling an obese person “fat” or an acne-riddled person “pizza face” or Hi-C Hitler “too mentally incapable to be trusted with chewing his own food, let alone being president”. It’s lazy. It’s the easy way out. It’s what the intended object of ridicule wants you to do so they can C.D. Bales your sorry ass in front of Daryl Hannah! It reminds of my least favorite RiffTrax – Birdemic; a movie so obviously made to be terrible that it’s barely worth making fun of. Lo and behold, the ‘Traxers themselves just released the writer-director-masochist’s latest repugnant rectal release through their own website! Maybe I’m just an asshole…no…I’m definitely an asshole. Nevertheless, count me out.

Where the hell was I driving this bus before taking a detour down Route “Ignore the Rambling Jackal-Headed Old Man”? Oh right, I was evaluating today’s feature. The direction and cinematography are unexpectedly…good. Going solely on its premise, I had prepared my peepers for a parade the likes of a herky-jerky Troma turkey. It happened to me when I first watched The Human Centipede and I was caught just as unawares here. Upon my mandatory second screening, I only enhanced my appreciation, so kudos to Mr. Hosking in that regard. The dialogue is heavily seasoned with quotable lines for fellow fiends to banter back and forth in verbal volleyball, most notably the running accusations between Ronnie and Brayden of each being a “bullshit artist”. I’d bet my collection of West Nile infected mosquitoes that those two words make up no less than 10% of the dialogue between them. I was okay with it (sometimes even entertained by it), but if you’re the type of person who’s not keen on scripts packed with premeditated quotables, prepare to be irked.

The premise of the movie loses steam right around the 50 minute mark (just about the point where the Strangler investigation picks up, strangely enough), but the introduction of the aforementioned Jodie to the proceedings was just the defibrillator that my dwindling interest needed to guide me the rest of the way to the credits and the end of the tunnel. One aspect that didn’t need a jolt in the jimmies for me was the soundtrack. We’re given a mish-mash of delightful tunes and noises that reminded me of the music you’d hear on off-brand NES cartridges half of the time, and just plain charming boondoggle tunes that you imagine a grown up Gene Belcher composing while ‘shrooming alone in his college dorm room on any given Friday night. My praise aside, I have no plans to pick up said soundtrack. I can’t enjoy it on its own, like I would with a Tarantino movie or TMNT II: the Secret of the Ooze. Greasy and its music exist in a symbiotic relationship from which neither can be removed, lest they both die on their own. If the Plover isn’t allowed to eat the crocodile’s scraps from its mouth, the Plover will starve and the crocodile will…get Gingivitis? I dunno. As Thoth once drunkenly slurred to me over a plate of seafood nachos at ChiChi’s, “Neither a zoologist nor a dentist be”.

As for the special effects, they’re solid. There are several instances of popped eyeballs that actually were quite impressive! My compliments to the digital effects team on that. Not so much for their “people being shot” bit, but even big money movies rarely manage to pull that one off without traditional squibs, so it’s not a big deal.

As much as I hate people using the term “revelation”, I’m going to endure some self-inflicted shame and say it now: Michael St. Michaels is a revelation. The best takeaway from The Greasy Strangler is Big Ronnie. Not just because of the lines he’s given, but the way this amazing man delivers them. His rantings remind me a bit of Raleigh Theodore Sakers’ soliloquies off of the Robbin’ the Hood album. Physically, MSM looks like a demented troll, which in and of itself contributes to the actor’s unique appeal, but the little vocal affects he applies to his words are fucking enchanting! He tells a dirty story with a silky growl of aplomb that puts a reading of Wordsworth’s Greatest Hits to shame. I don’t remember a damn thing about the man from his role in The Video Dead (which isn’t surprising since I remember almost nothing from it, having not seen it since high school), but by the bearded clam of Cleopatra did he make Big Ronnie his own. Sublime, you crazy old bastard. Sublime.

Oh yeah, speaking of genital manes, be prepared for a LOT of prosthetic peckers being prominently portrayed. And old man asses. Merkins too. Or, as I like to call them, “pubic zirconium”. So, if the sight of sagging white butt cheeks or weirdly shaped dicks ensconced in gnarled overgrowth gets your gross out gland activated, either skip this ride or bring your barf bag.

In closing, despite my apparent praise for the flick, I’m giving The Greasy Strangler a middling recommendation. A solitary viewing was enough for me, and the only real reason I would go back to it is to show it to others. Beyond that, I don’t really feel the need to sit through it again. Should you take this to heart and seek to experience the greasiness and strangling for yourself, allow this next piece of wisdom to guide you – as I told my Evil Dead Bride/Editor/Valentine while we watched it, don’t question anything in this movie because there are no answers. Trying to understand the gaping maw of chaos will only lead to an eternal void of madness for the mind.

With that, I bid you all adieu. Check out Ragnarok’s review for Oasis of the Dead by clicking this link right here (or the banner image up near the top), then be sure to get your cracks back here for our next episode. Till then, may all of your V-Days be endurable and your VDs be curable!

Moral of the Story: Everybody’s a bullshit artist and too much grease is bad for you.

Screenshots_____


Hey! It’s the same house where the Lubbocks were murdered by that family of cannibals in the series finale of ”Just the Ten of Us’!


“And this door – where does it lead? Is anyone behind it? Maybe someone famous? Sadly, we’ll never know, as I lost the keys sometime ago and locksmiths are bullshit artists. Any questions? Keep in mind we’ve already explained that our outfits and entirely medical in nature and we won’t explain the matter further.”


Looking for an affordable actor to play an old woman, a van driving child abductor, or the Herman Stiles in your much-needed ‘Evening Shade’ reboot? Here’s your man!


And that, boys and girls, is why you don’t eat an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in one mouthful.


“Check it out – my sweater matches this little breadstick! Speaking of little breadsticks, before we go any further with this date, I was wondering what your opinion on ‘sounding’ is…”


Despite his insistence that no one’s better at “the economy” than he, donald drumpf’s stimulus plan of flooding the market with his new “Trump Buck$” ultimately lead to a global depression.


Go behind the scenes with legendary actor Paul Giamatti as he prepares to star and direct in his next Emmy Award Winner-to-be this Sunday on ‘HBO First Look: Animal Farm’.


Alternate universe Andy Warhol celebrates his 105th birthday by reflecting on his fall into obscurity and rather boring post-celebrity life tomorrow night in an interview with Peabody Award winning journalist Chevy Chase on ’60 Minutes’.


“I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone named ‘Prince Albert’, nor anyone of regal birthright for that matter. Goodbye.”


Aw, poor guy just got his rejection letter from Disney about his script for Tron 3: the Dark Coder. I felt the same way when they refused my own scripts for Condorman Begins and The Black Cauldron Part 2 – Gurgi and the Cursed City of Gold .


Uh-oh, looks like Fido didn’t take to his new “All Vegan Tapioca and Creamed Corn Feast” canned food.


“Do you happen to have a pair of nail-clippers I could use? I lost mine in ’98 and just can’t bring myself to buy another pair, knowing that my old ones will just magically show up the moment I do. I would feel like such an idiot.”


Curly Sue’s later years weren’t really much to talk about. She tried to get a reality show off the ground, but after 75 different stations turned down the pilot, she gave up. She works as a Time-Life operator in Branson Missouri now.


Upset that the government is too busy concerning themselves with the Mexico border to address the true source of dangerous illegal immigrants, the Sons of North Dakota militia group take it upon themselves to protect their border from nefarious northerners… of which they’ve seen none.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Man Who Laughs (and Kills)”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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Episode 74 – Journey to the West (2013)

or “Monkey Shines”

Featuring: Zhang “The Guillotines” Wen , Qi “The Transporter” Shu , Bo “The Story of David” Huang

Directors: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow & Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok

Writers: Stephen “Kung-Fu Hustle” Chow , Chin-kin “Full Strike” Kwok , Xin “Kung-Fu Hustle” Huo , Yun “Darkness Bride” Wang , Chi Keung “Shaolin Soccer” Fung , Ivy “The Lion Roars” Kong , Zhengyu Lu & Shing-Cheung Lee

Origin: China

Also Known As: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

Review_____

“I never got scared by seeing anything till now…but I am waiting for that day.”

Happy New Year! Unless you’re a native of the country today’s movie calls home, in which case you should come back and read this again on our after February 8th when the Year of the Fire Monkey (appropriate for this flick) gets underway. But for the rest of youse mugs, welcome to 2016! It’ll probably suck like every year before and after it, but why not give it the benefit of the doubt, eh? As the banner above states, the World Tour de Farce has taken some ExtenZe. Despite some roadblocks in last year’s stretch of globetrotting, I’m determined to see it through to the end! If you’re getting sick of movies full of Asian people (you racist!), then you might wanna come back sometime around March. For the rest of you, return your tray tables to the upright position, buckle your belts, and join me on this journey…TO THE WEST!

…By which I mean we’re going East. Don’t over think it.

China! Considered the longest running civilization on Earth (dating back to 6000 BC), China led (not to be confused with Chinese lead, which they paint exported children’s toys with) the world in arts and science for centuries until political and civil unrest gave their overall progress a case of the stutters, killing millions of people. The crown jewel of the remaining Communist nations is home to the world’s largest populace (1,373,000,000+ or 1/5 of the planet’s occupants!), the world’s longest continually used written language, as well as home to the planet condemning toxic industrial pollution cloud that will surely one day spawn Hexxus, setting into motion the next global extinction event.

If you’re a big fan of firearms and the 4th of July, think twice about disparaging the Middle Kingdom, because they invented fireworks and gunpowder. I guess that means we can blame them for all of the US’s mass shootings too? For fuck’s sake, even our domestic terrorism has been outsourced! The next time you wanna take a shit on China, also remember to thank them mid squat since they made it possible for you to wipe your crack with something other than your hand after. Yep, they gave us toilet paper too. They’re also responsible for compasses, printing, and paper, all of which are obsolete so who cares. China invented kites, originally made to scare off invaders who thought the flying paper constructs were dragons and demons. When it came to fending off legit evil spirits (and natural disasters) though, Chinese royalty used to keep Pandas around. Oh, and a number of historians like to credit/blame the Chinese for inventing soccer/futbol. Other popular inventions to come from the nation’s history include chopsticks (duh), iced cream, noodles, earthquake detection methods (for when the Pandas didn’t cut the hot mustard), mechanical clocks, methods of drilling for and harnessing natural gas, the decimal system, the crossbow (for you Daryl Dixon fans), martial arts (you’re welcome, Chuck Norris), silk, tea, and mapping of the circulatory system (“Cut, cut, cut, blood, spurt, artery, murder, Hitchcock, Psycho!”) among a few thousand other things!

The country officially became The People’s Republic of China on October 1st (they share a birthday with The Tomb!) 1949 under the stranglehold of leader Mao Zedong, who kept his grip on the citizens firm and chokey until his death in 1979. A whopping 22% of their export trade washes up on US shores, as can be seen in every day of American life with all of the stuff that has “Made in China” stamped on it. Nothing says “CAPITALISM!” like buying all of our cheap shit products from slave labor Communist manufacturing conglomerates!

Vascular disease and cancer are their leading killers (like pretty much everywhere else), though their infamous one-child law (recently changed to a two-child law) will take the biggest toll on their population depletion in the long run, as so many of their female babies were infanticised or put up for adoption to couples from other nations. This has left a fatal shortage of ladies to birth further generations, but has been a blessing for people around the world who put “diagnosed with Yellow Fever” on their Adult Friend Finder profiles. I admire their singular spawn stance, but feel it doesn’t go far enough. My burgeoning city-state will have mandatory sterilization or, as it’ll be called in government documents, the “All Children Left Behind” Act.

Cricket fights (the insects, not the sport) are a popular pastime (a new hobby for Michael Vick to consider) but stamp collecting is their most well liked way to waste time when they’re not making iPhones for a nickel an hour. Also, during the ’40s, Shanghai was the ONLY port in the entire world that accepted Jewish refugees without requiring an entry visa! This explains the ancient blood oath that sees Jews traditionally patronizing Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Oh, speaking of, the MSG engorged flavor orgies we stuff our faces with at the buffet? You know that stuff’s not actually Chinese in origin, right? Not even the fortune cookies. Those were invented in San Francisco.

Lastly, the highest grossing Chinese language film ever? That would be today’s movie!

Journey to the West isn’t so much based on the Chinese tale of the same name, as it is a prequel. Written 500 or so years ago (give or take), Journey to the West is considered one of “The Four Great Masterpieces” of the People’s Republic’s storied literary history. The other 3 are Water Margin, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Not to be confused with the four greatest literary masterpieces of the USA, which are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Godfather, and the novelization of Adventures In Dinosaur City. Not just popular in it’s fatherland, Journey has been a HEAVY influence on a lot of different Asian productions, especially in the last 50 years. Hell, just type in “Journey to the West” on IMDB and you’ll get a good idea of how much influence it has! These include the original “Dragonball” series from Japan and the critically acclaimed (and commercially flaccid) video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, which I played about half of before being distracted by something with zombies in it.

Much like Hollywood, China’s movie industry is apparently guilty of the always irritating “they made a movie based on this, so we need to a movie based on it too!” mentality, as one year after Journey to the West, another such influenced flick (starring Donnie Yen and Chow Yun Fat) made its way to the light of the silver screen, called The Monkey King. Where that movie (series) is more about filling in the backstory of the eponymous primate, Journey‘s focus (aside from trying to convince us to “don’t stop believing”) is on the original story’s Buddhist monk protagonist, Tang Sanzang…under the name Xuan Zang?

Yep. Due to various translations across different languages, “Tang Sanzang” has a few dozen different acceptable aliases. I’m not a fucking etymologist, so if you wanna know more (and you generally trust Wikipedia), you can read aboot it >>>here<<< Or just do what I do in these situations: don’t ask questions, go along with it, and hope you’re not being kidnapped for a ransom no one is willing to pay. And that’s the story of why Uncle Anubis isn’t invited to make hand turkey drawings at Thanksgiving anymore. It makes everybody sad. I have to wear gloves so children don’t stare at me in public…

Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen) is a Buddhist monk and aspiring demon hunter. Not in the game for the glory, the money, the pussy, or the dehydrated fish, Xuan simply wants to help people by exorcising the forces of darkness from their lives. While other such hunters rely on an array of mystical artifacts and religious tools of the trade, Xuan’s weapon of choice is… *pause for dramatic effect* …a book of nursery rhymes. *pause for slide whistle “goodbye boner” sound effect*

Yes, Xuan is so faithful to the teachings of his Buddhist Master (Sihan Cheng) that he values the existence of even these dangerous, man-eating horror shows as being sacred. #DemonLivesMatter Demons in this context aren’t the same as their Western cousins. Rather than being twisted hellbeasts from conception, the Eastern demons are humans, brought back from the dead and transformed into monstrous animals by their lust for vengeance against the dickholes who wronged them in life. In keeping with that, Xuan opts to appeal to their inner purity (we’re all born innocent, after all) via capturing them and singing them lullabies to reignite the light hidden in their darkness. The spiritual equivalent of trying to find a peanut M&M in a bathtub full of black licorice jellybeans.

Gimme a second to tamp down the chunder geyser summoned by my amalgamating the words “black” and “licorice”. Uggh. Shit’s nastier than fish liver lollipops.

The problem with singing to demons to make them stop eating children and cutting people in half is that it generally doesn’t get the job done, so Xuan’s not the most successful demon hunter in the land. In fact, he’s the least successful. He’s openly mocked by his peers (and not just because he dresses like a filthy beggar with Ablutophobia), assaulted by ignorant mobs of civilians who really overreact when someone disagrees with them, and questions whether he’s a worthy disciple to his Master, who continually reassures Xuan that he is a great demon hunter. He’s just lacking that archetypal “je ne sais quoi” that most heroes pick up around the mid-to-end of their origin story. He needs his (speaking of French stuff) Voltaire quote as recited to him by a father figure named after a food mascot before said father figure’s tragic death as a result of the hero’s selfish negligence. Or, maybe he’ll luck out and a giant fruit bat will just fly into his face one dark and stormy night, after which he’ll don a cape & cowl and fight the monsters with little metal versions of his corporate logo and incoherent growling.

It’s on one on Xuan’s failed missions that our hero meets the far more accomplished hunter Duan (Qi Shu). Even though she laughs when he tells her about his Mother Goose methods of exorcism, she turns from sarcastic rival to romantic interest almost instantly, admiring the monk’s suicidal levels of bravery to battle beastly bad guys with just his brains, his beliefs, and his berceuses. You’d think she was Pepé Le Pew on Viagra and he was a 3-legged black cat with a streak of white paint down his back the way she Swimfans our man! She will have his babies by hook or crook (or crooked hooker?). Duan’s so infatuated with getting Xuan’s dick wet, she even follows him to the (Wild Wild) West when Master sends him to seek demon combat experience from a legendary figure known as Sun Wukong – the Monkey King (Bo Huang). As per my spoiler avoision vows (and given that this is one of the few movies on the Tour that you can currently stream on NetFlix), I will leave it up to you whether you choose to delve further into the tale or not.

Though I had a fun time watching Journey to the West, it made me realize that Stephen Chow is basically the Guy Ritchie of Chinese cinema – his movies are good, but are so similar in structure that you’d swear one or two of them were just Chinese knock-offs… or whatever the equal to a Chinese knock-off of an originally Chinese made product would be. Did you see Kung-Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer? Yes? Then you’ve already seen Journey to the West. A hapless, shabby hero with a good heart gets himself in over his head with deadly forces that will surely kill him in the final act if he doesn’t discover the inner strength needed to overcome his own self-imposed limitations. There’s an awkward romance, super powered martial arts weirdos (with at least one of them being an elderly person) who can explode buildings with a punch, peace & love vanquishing evil, slapstick combat with cartoony violence that leads to characters’ features being stretched like rubber (and making squeaky chew toy sounds in this case), and thinly-veiled morality stuff about not letting your ego defeat you, listening to your heart, helping people being its own reward, the best offense being a good defense, the only certainties are death & taxes, no glove no love, you can’t win friends with salad, and all that other Aesop shit meant to brainwash kids into towing the company line. Stupid kids. So easy to brainwash. I hate you so.

I’m not saying any of this is bad. There’s a comfort in predictability. Chow’s movies are always good for some dumb, well-choreographed fun and the characters are always interesting and comical in their own ways. Xuan makes for a perfectly fine Rudy Ruettiger “loveable failure” hero, Duan is an endearingly awkward tomboy-in-love, Master is a jolly and supportive father figure, Sun is a wily little old con artist, and all of the ancillary hunter characters are fun for their own reasons too. The actors all put on fine performances, despite my having no fucking clue what they were saying. Their mannerisms and body languages carried it. Especially Chrissie Chow, whose overwhelming sex appeal as Si demands that her more sultry scenes be cut into a “spank edit”. Sure, there aren’t a lot of said scenes, but just cut her dancing and grinding into a looping 3 minute clip and I’ve got what I need! *wink*wink*wank*wank*

On the scarred side of this double-headed quarter, Chow’s pacing continues to be a little bumpy. It takes a smoke break near the middle of the movie that elicited a few yawns from me and made the final act feel a little rushed for time. Then again, given the “epic but simultaneously anti-epic” fashion in which the final showdown plays out, it may have ended all the same even if given five more minutes. His special effects budgets never quite catch up with his imagination either. The demons here aren’t perfect, but at least they’re not born of the bottom of the computer generated monster barrel where the SyFy Originals skulk. I’d like to see someone with some pull here in the States give Chow a big fat Hollywood budget like Disney did when they put James Gunn in the captain’s seat for Guardians of the Galaxy. I think we’d get something equally full of heart and wowwy-zowwy sauce.

Chow started filming the follow-up for Journey (someday love will find you) last August, touting a cast listing that may include Chow himself, but has apparently not confirmed any of the first movie’s players making a return. This is older info, so fuck knows how things have progressed since, fuck nose. I look forward to seeing said sequel when it’s settled, whatever the case. Partially because I look forward to another Stephen Chow feature, and partially out of curiosity because I want to see if he changes up his formula yet or just goes continues riding in the same limo that brought him to the dance.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you before we part ways down the crossroads of our days. This isn’t Stephen Chow’s first interaction with an adaptation-of-sorts for Journey to the West. In 1995, he starred in a two-part feature called A Chinese Odyssey, where he played the fabled Monkey King himself, as well as a reincarnated version named Joker! The performance nabbed him a Best Actor award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, which has to carry at least some prestige with it, right? I mean, anyone who refers to themselves as a “society” has to be a respectable association, correct?

That’s all for this week! Hope everybody’s 2016 is exponentially better than their 2015 (even if you had a good 2015, because things could always be better) and that the “MST3K” reboot is as awesome as we’re all praying to Prince of Space that it will be. The World Tour continues with our next episode, same Tomb time, same Tomb channel!… provided I don’t get too wrapped up blitzkrieging the teeming zombie masses in Dead Rising 3 or getting embarrassed by 10 year old aspiring Planeswalkers in Magic Origins (Xbox Live tag: TombOfAnubis). Until then, make peace with your gods, you smelly dogs!

Moral of the Story: Sometimes the most peaceful of protests can hit your persecutor like the fist of an angry god… and sometimes it can hit them with the fist of an angry god.

Screenshots_____

“I can’t wait till mom finds out I replaced all of her birth control pills with Tic-Tacs! I’ll have a little brother one way or another!”


Either somebody just got Jaws’ed or someone went swimming without checking her menstrual tracker app first.


“And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high saying, ‘Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’”


Gah! He’s Dopey from the Seven Dwarfs as one of those “cartoon character drawn hyper-realistically” pictures brought to life!


So Chinese guys can grow hair on their heads and their faces, but not a single follicle on their chests? They look like big man-babies. Creepy.


[Peter Griffin voice:] “It’s Jackie Chan!”


Big Edna just found out the cake is a lie… she’s not happy.


[Mr. Burns voice:] “Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Thats it, you’re off the team, for good!”


How every patient sees a Proctologist when the probing gloves comes on…


Look out, guys! It’s the vengeful spirit of women whose serious boyfriends won’t propose to them! Run!


“Ahhh! Butthead! I’m bleeding! My nose is still bleeding!”


Are anybody else’s pants shrinking/getting wet, or is it just mine?


“My parents told me the angry pig god would hunt me down if I ate an entire package of bacon by myself! Why didn’t I listen?!”


It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it!


…Then again, I guess size does play some importance.


“I told you, I’m not a ghost, I just a vegan. And even if I were a ghost, I couldn’t grant you any wishes! That’s a genie!”


“You can watch me deep throat this whole banana for a dollar! For a fiver, I’ll deep throat something else…”


“Thank you mister crackhead, but I don’t have any money to pay you for this. It also smells. REALLY bad.”


A rare picture of Corey Haim in his final days. Hugs not drugs, kids.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Heads on Pianos: Return of the Black Gift”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Episode 60 – The Raid: Redemption (2011)

or “Complex Problems”

Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Joe “Fast & Furious 6” Taslim, Doni “Hearts of Freedom” Alamsyah

Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid 2” Evans

Origin: Indonesia

Also Known As: The Raid

Sequel: The Raid 2

Review_____

“Pulling a trigger is like ordering takeout.”

Hey kids, it’s me again! Your jackal-in-chief, your podunk punk, your Death God with dad bod, and the founder of the no-pants-on pantheon – Anubis Von Mojo! I wanted to have a heavenly chorus singing “Return of the Mack” here while pyro shoots out of a big top hat on my head, but there wasn’t any room in the World Tour de Farce travel budget for any of it. Speaking of, after that extensive layover in Spain I’m back on the proverbial road a-gain! I’m backtracking just a smidge, having realized that my last telemetry jump overshot Indonesia and put my ass in Malaysia instead. Remind me to kill that Stargate operator when I get back. Making the best (or moderately better than worst) of the situation, well, you saw my Apokalips X review. And if you didn’t, rewind 6 or 7 episodes and treat it like halitosis: Scope it! Where was I? That’s right, Indonesia. Here’s some quick trivia on the island nation. We’re still applying for some of Uncle Sam’s sweet educational stipend money, so there will be a quiz at the end of the review. As such, eyes front and mouths shut!

For sharters, errrr starters, Indonesia is the FOURTH most visited country in the world, and the LARGEST congregation of islands, consisting of 17,800 individual isles! Yes, that’s a comma and NOT a decimal. Indonesians laugh when you present them a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. Like Ron Jeremy’s dick laughing at whatever Andy Dick’s dick looks like. It’s no surprise that half the islands haven’t even been named yet. Shit, someone put me in touch with Indonesia’s Department of Naming and for the reasonable price of just $1 per island, I’ll have 9,000 names for ya by the end of the month! Speaking of geographical milestones, Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world with 400! Actually, given that they’ve got almost 18,000 islands in their domain, 400 active volcanoes isn’t nearly as impressive a statistic. I mean, sure, 400 is a LOT of volcanoes, but on a per-island basis that’s barely more than 2%, so mentioning the volcano statistic after the island number statistic is kinda like Extreme going on after a 2 hour AC/DC set. Meh.

Indonesia is not only the largest supplier worldwide of liquid natural gas, cloves, nutmeg, and plywood (80% of all plywood, in fact!), but is also home to the largest number of shark species at right around 150 different breeds! You know which shark you can’t find in their waters? The titular man-eater of Raiders of the Lost Shark. Yep, that’s a thing that I just discovered exists and I’m so happy to spread the disease that I had to namedrop it on your collective chests as soon as possible. Continuing on the native fauna kick, Indo also lays claim to the world’s smallest primate (Tarsier Pygmy), the world’s smallest fish (Paedocypris progenetica – “Paedo” to his pals), the world’s longest snake (Python Reticulates), and the world’s only living “dragon” (Komodo, named for the island they’re native to). Yes, I have a full collection of “Zoobooks“. The anatomical illustrations are fucking metal as Hel and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re living a life unfulfilled. Make like Kool & the Gang and get down on it!

Heyyyyyy! I’m reviewing Theee Raaaaid! (sung to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy”) Yes! After a grueling 4 year wait, I’m finally allowing myself to watch The Raid! I spent a long time looking forward to this, which is never a good thing as despite my best efforts this practice inevitably builds some form of expectation due to overheard tidbits like “amazing action scenes that’ll make your eyes shed tears of joy before they bleed streaks of awesome from the brain explosion that watching them can cause”. Not a direct quote, but you get the idea. In my experience, met expectations are the rarest of the rare. Not just “bloody” rare, but “still grazing” rare. Sorry, we jackals are opportunistic predatory omnivores – we scavenge puns whenever the window opens. If any of you are homophonephobics, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. There’s no place for your ignorance and bigotry here. *rimshot*

In case you’ve never heard of today’s movie, its original title is simply The Raid. For some reason, “Redemption” was tacked on for international distribution, which is really odd since there isn’t exactly much in the way of redemption happening. Maybe Sony wanted to avoid any possible lawsuits by S.C. Johnson & Son over confusion with their insecticidal product Raid©. Ask me (and even if you don’t), it seems like the perfect chance for a cross promotion! “Raid: when you don’t just want to kill bugs dead, you want to beat ’em violently first and make ’em question the choices they made that brought them to this level of agony!” A bit long-winded, sure, but I imagine one of those big city fancy-pants marketing firm types could shrink my Andre the Giant into a perfectly viable Hervé Villechaize.

Sorry if the last few paragraphs feel like filler, but I seriously don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about once I actually start reviewing the movie itself! Redemption‘s only 4 years old, so it’s protected under The Tomb Accords Anti-Spoilers Law! Unable to discuss the two or three plot developments that mean anything, I’m left with very little to write about! So, yes, I apologize for stuffing a cucumber down my jockeys, but now that I’ve confessed to the true size of my schnitzel, won’t you give me a chance to attempt to get you off? I mean, we’ve already gone this far, and we’re miles from where anyone can hear you. What do you say? 🙂

Oh, and before we really put knife and fork to the entree, let it be noted that I’m reviewing the English dub of the movie (technical problems with the subtitles on the original language version), so if I quote anything that doesn’t gel with the version you’ve seen, don’t crucify me. I don’t have the “Savior Sixer” abs for something like that.

Meet Rama (Iko Uwais). He’s a rookie member of the Jakarta police force about to embark on the biggest “make or break” day of his career. More “make or die”, but who’s counting? Being from Indonesia, he’s also Muslim. Not surprising, as it’s the dominate theological faith in that neck of the woods. If you have a problem with a flick’s protagonist being Muslim, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. As such, may I offer another option for tonight’s entertainment? First, swallow a whole roll of Mentos©. Make it two if you’re macho enough. Then, wrap your head in duct tape until your mouth is securely closed. Next, insert a tube up your nose and have a friend or family member beer bong you with a bottle of Coke, making sure the tube is in far enough that the Coke empties down your throat. After that? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. Just make sure your friend sends me a link to the video on YouTube! Also, you might wanna make sure your will is up-to-date before trying this. No reason, it’s just a good thing to do every so often.

Before taking part in the biggest mission of his budding career, Rama says his prayers, does his pull-ups, beats the unholy tar out of his punching bag, then kisses his pregnant wife and her big ol’ baby beer gut goodbye. He also says “I’ll bring him back.” to an older gent, who I’m presuming to be his father. From the onset, writer-director Gareth Evans is setting this up to be a tale of major triumph or crippling tragedy. Smart money’s on Rama making it to the end of the day with a still functioning circulatory system, but this could be one of those artsier flicks where the hero dies at the end. Whether that idea makes your eyes water, or you’re a psychopath who gets murder boners from watching protagonists getting popped, keep the Kleenex© handy just in case, pals and gals.

Rama’s part of a twenty man SWAT operation to take down a notorious Jakartan crime lord known as Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Tama is treated like the God of Crime in this city, and is flanked by his top henches Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the not-at-all-intimidatingly monikered Andi (Doni Alamsyah). Not to be confused with the short-lived Marvel character of the same name (born from Bob Newhart’s even shorter-lived sitcom “Bob“), Mad Dog is a fitting recipient of the Dolemite “Human Tornado” Award. He’s referred to by SWAT leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) as “a maniac of feet and fists that would tear down walls for his boss” and prefers to kill his enemies with his bare hands rather than with a weapon. As you can imagine, this is gonna lead to a whole shit show of trouble for our law enforcers…unless, you know, one of these cops saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (not to be confused with Raiders of the Lost Shark) and just shoots Doggie in the fucking face from across a room. Not that real life logic finds its way into movies very often, but you never know.

And Andi? Jaka describes him as “the brains of Tama’s business” who “keeps Mad Dog in check” and “given the opportunity, he will put bullets into you”. Though I have to bite the metaphorical bullet here to avoid a spoiler, I’ve gotta say that it’s a miracle Tama’s managed to keep his operation running as successfully as he has if Andi’s really the brains behind it. Later in the film, Andi makes a glaring error in his decision making that deservedly fucks him over big time. A screw up that any remotely intelligent person would’ve considered ahead of time, let alone someone who’s supposed to be the smart one in this Three Stooges empire of the Indonesia underworld.

Now for the movie’s hook: Tama’s crime kingdom operates out of an old apartment complex. He’s got his own in-house narcotics lab, a Sliver style peeping tom closed circuit camera network, and he rents the apartments out to any thieves, pushers, killers, or jaywalkers looking for police protection at an affordable rate with all utilities included and a flexible lease. Sure, the place is a rundown shithole and the Super is almost impossible to get a hold of on the weekends, but it’s still a better deal than most of the places you’ll find in any of the major cities in this country!

Prior to the raid (we have a title!), Rama asks why this group of newbs is being tasked with taking over the Towering Dante’s Inferno of the Jakartan realty market. One of his team members, goofy-ass tough guy stereotype Bowo (Tegar Satrya) throws out the typical good-little-soldier testosterone juiced answer of “WHY THE FUCK NOT!?” and tries to alpha male our protagonist in the pooper by calling him “boy”. Hopefully his death will be hilarious, and let’s hope it includes him screaming like a little kid and pissing himself. Jaka puts Bow in a corner (he doesn’t get Baby privileges) and responds to Ramen’s query, telling him that Tama’s been challenged by rival gangs for years, none of whom was able to topple his felonious tower. None of which addresses the questions of “Why us?” and Why today?”. And why not? Because it’s an incredibly transparent plot point that I’m cursed not to address! Damn gypsies and their hexes!

The busload of blue boys reach their destination, and meet up with their head muckity-muck, Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, looking like modern day Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat). Wahyu isn’t happy about all of the wet-noses in their group, but given this is probably not a sanctioned operation to begin with, he’ll take all of the bullet sponges he can get. They luck out on getting past the front gate to the complex, when they nab a returning tenant and use his keys to gain entry. The mission goes well at first, with the team going ninja on the first five floors, incapacitating any and all miscreants with the precision of surgeons and the silence of little cat feet. Given that Tama’s Tower only has 15 levels, they should be done cleaning house by lunch! Or at least they would have, if Jaka didn’t have this whole morality problem about not killing kids…

Yep, a young boy gets his big red exclamation point (not literally) when he spots the aspiring Solid Snakes and sends out the warning signal to the adults. Did ‘Nam teach the world nothing? Women and children in a warzone are NOT to be trusted! If they’re not wearing C4 Underoos, they’re always within reach of a damn alarm! Anyway, shit goes south faster than a Yankee slave owner after the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. Before you can say “pig hunt!”, everyone in the building is on high alert and out for blood, with Tama promising free room and board to anyone who brings him a fresh slice of bacon. Can a SWAT team of well-armed amateurs survive this deadly edition of ghetto “Fun House“? This obstacle course of mayhem and murder? Will Ram Jam, or anyone for that matter, be walking away from Satan’s apartment complex by the end of Act 3? Given that they’re unable to call in reinforcements, Tama’s got the whole place wired with security cameras, and they’re outnumbered something like 25-to-1, it’s gonna take a miracle for the good guys to win this one! Or maybe they’ll just escape through some conveniently placed plot holes.

The break down for the rest of the movie consists of scenes of people shooting at each other, cops running away from gangs of bloodthirsty thugs wielding machetes, Ramesses showing himself to be the deadly version of Jackie Chan as he beats his way through waves of enemies using everything at hand, Mad Dog beating ass like a spanking machine set to “Adrian Petersen”, a really tense scene involving a machete and a crawlspace, a bout of Home Ec amateur surgery, extreme fire ax remodeling, a DIY kitchen bomb straight out of the Anarchist’s Cookbook (or Die Hard 3), and… and…… STUFF I CAN’T TALK ABOUT! ARGH! DAMN MY MYSTICAL KEYBOARD AND ITS CURSED “SPOIL-LOCK” KEY!

As wrapped in anti-spoiler tape as my fingers may be, I can tell you this much: Evans telegraphs his tale like a Street Fighter character shouting the name of their special move before they actually do said move. If you watch Redemption and don’t see the twists in the road from a mile off, you’ll want to consult you physician, because you may have a crayon lodged in your forebrain. In fact, this sounds like the setup to one of those Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck!” jokes. Don’t be a redneck. Buckle your safety belt. Sorry, crossed some reference wires there. I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!

Though his storytelling is very basic and his characters are generic archetypes, the Wales born Gareth Evans (“Doesn’t he run like a Welshman?”) knows how to make an action scene. Given that that’s the kind of thing you’d expect from an action movie, it’s good enough to see The Raid to its finish. Funny enough, GE has said that if you took out all of the fighting, his movie would come off more like survival horror, not unlike [REC]. I can see it. Protagonist gradually works their way up an apartment complex they can’t escape while trying to avoid their would-be killers? Absolutely. Maybe if Evans collaborated with a better writer and focused more of his efforts on the director duties, we could get something amazing out of him. Shit, I’d love to see what he could do with a Moon Knight or Daredevil movie! You never know. If Marvel can take a chance on giving the writer-director of Tromeo & Juliet $170 million to make a movie starring a monosyllabic Treebeard and Ranger Rick’s foul-mouthed cousin, I wouldn’t rule it out…

As is, Redemption still works great as a 90 minute testosterone trip. It’s brain candy. It’s a popcorn flick. A thing of beauty in its own right, and a nice accomplishment for the mere million-or-so dollars spent to make it. A budget that was made back 4 times over by its US box office alone! The fight choreography itself is worth the price of admission and Rama’s mandatory one-vs-many “tonfa and combat knife” battle ballet would give both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mikhail Baryshnikov the green-eyed monster. Give me a movie where Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa hit each other with sticks and knees for two hours and you’ve just leased my eyeballs.

Before I wrap this up, I have a 32oz. slab of nitpicker beef to serve to the Sony advertising department. The Redemption poster promises us “1 Ruthless Crime Lord. 20 Elite Cops. 30 Floors of Hell” as the tagline, but I have two problems with that statement. #1 – It’s well established that most of the officers partaking in the mission are rookies. Skilled as they may be, I don’t think I’d ever refer to a greenhorn in any position as “elite”. Not that I have any doubt any one of them wouldn’t be able to beat the tits off of an American SWAT team member, but still. This pales in comparison to my next bit of under-the-belt irritation though: #2 – The apartment building is only 15 stories high. I get trying to oversell it for crowd hype purposes, but fuck you Sony marketing twats for straight up lying to us. Shit, even the apartment complex portrayed on the poster itself only has 20 floors! Let me upgrade that “fuck you” to a “fuck you with a Roman Candle”. I’m gonna stick my Krakatoa just east of your Java. Indonesian movie joke. It’s okay if you didn’t laugh.

And so goes the deadliest realtor walk-through since The Grudge open house. Blood and adrenaline flowed in equal measure and my four year anticipation was almost completely satisfied, if not for the poor plot development. Be on the lookout for our next less-than-epic episode, coming sooner than you think…unless you think it’ll be anytime in the next 3 days, in which case it sounds like someone needs to temper their expectations. Right now, I have preparations to make for my Evil Dead Bride’s birthday, and the custom shadow box I had made for Her signed copy of The Necronomicon has been sitting in a Daytona Beach FedEx facility for the last week. When can we finally send Florida off into the Atlantic and castrate the US’s flaccid geographical dong?

Oh, and no quiz. I was too high on blowfish toxin brownies last night. Everything I typed came out in tongues (by which I mean you’d have to have your tongue yanked out to pronounce any of it) and that’s all I remember before I lost consciousness. No diggity, I woke up in a bathtub full of V8 and cocktail shrimp this morning, with my laptop on the toilet and an open Word file that was harder to read than an Irvine Welsh novel translated into R’lyehian. Ktulu luv a duck.

Until next time, Mungkin hatimu tidak berlari lebih cepat otak Anda!

Moral of the Story: You don’t SHOOT cops, you BUY them! And you don’t BUY Taco Bell food, you RENT it. And you don’t RENT movies, you DOWNLOAD them. At least until someone brings back brick & mortar movie rental stores. Up yours, RedBox. All the way up.

Screenshots_____

*sniff*sniff* “Uggh! Looks like it’s past time to get the old prayer rug washed.”


“You know I love you no matter what, baby, but I think you should seriously consider switching to Lite beers.”


“Okay, if whoever (Whomever?) it is that has the methane leak comes forward now, I promise you immunity from a Defcon 4 soap beating in the locker room after this. This is your last chance: cork it or pay the price!”


These Indonesian knock-off Three Stooges are kinda depressing… and scary. No like.


“Uggh! That stink is trapped in my nose hairs now! When I find out who it is with the IBS, they’re gonna be DOA!”


“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, officer, but your continued rubbing of my nipple is making me very uncomfortable!”


This is why you never go cheap and ask your friend to pierce your ear for you.


And here I thought I was the last person on Earth under the age of 70 that still had a LAN line!


“Hello! Machete man! I was wondering if you had any sugar cane or bamboo or coconuts that need macheting? I’m trying to work my way through night school… Hello? Well, I’ll just leave my business card on the table and if you or your friends need my services, please call. Thank you!”


Norelco© tries to appeal to the hipster market with their new Amish Shaver™. It’s disturbingly popular for something that left permanent scarring after 93% of test shaves… well, on the ones that survived, that is.


“You can’t talk to me like that! I defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III in what many have called the greatest Wrestelmania match of ALL TIME! Sure, my whole run as “The Dragon” was embarrassing, what with that stupid hat and those weird arm fins, but I know Mickey Rourke, damn it!”


This is why you never give a stranger unsolicited advice on why he should get hair plugs.

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Anubis will return next time in
“Undercover Boogaloo”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Episode 53 – Apokalips X (2014)

or “What Fight Through Yonder Window Breaks?”

Featuring: Farid Kamil , Jehan Miskin , Peter Davis

Director & Writer: Mamat “Zombies from Banana Village” Khalid

Origin: Malaysia

Review_____

“That was the day the sun rose West and the stars fell from the sky.”

Finally! After untold months (3 or 4?) in the desolate outback of, well, The Outback, I’ve made my way to the next leg of my World Tour – Malaysia! And so continues…

Before I get started, today’s episode is brought to you by Bon Jovan Musk™ – for when you want to smell like the silver medal of New Jersey rockers!

Apokalips X comes from the Pu Pu Platter of Asia – Malaysia. A melting pot of its fellow nations, Malaysia boasts a spicy cross section of native Malay, Chinese and Indian backgrounds. Filmed in the capitol city of Kuala Lumpur (or as Kent Brockman calls it, “France!”), Apokalips X is the Frankensteinian creation of Mamat Khalid, also the writer-director of Malaysia’s first zombie movie: Zombies from Banana Village. Beyond its “probably funnier to us that it is to them” title, I know nothing about ZfBV. Given my time with Apokalips X, I’m not entirely sure I want to go through the trouble of tracking it down for a review, either…

Our movie takes place in the semi-distant future. The year is 20… uhm… 20*mumble*mumble*. Some amount of time after the global nuclear holocaust that the Terminator franchise has been promising us for 30 years now. Instead of Linda Hamilton scorched alive while clinging to a chain link fence, we get a little Malaysian girl on a tricycle pancaked by a giant tire. I guess ground zero was a “Tires We R” warehouse? Denied the toe-eating Roombas and genocidal Alphie II‘s James Cameron promised us, it turns out that mankind didn’t need help killing itself off in this reality. In the aftermath of Smilin’ Joe Fission’s going away party, the world is the typical bombed out wasteland you’d expect it to be.

The remainder of Kuala Lumpur’s surviving citizenry have gathered into clans, living in the handful of bombed out buildings that still stand (all of which look EXACTLY the same). Each clan consists of high school age kids (with a couple of younger exceptions to appeal to the “kids are SO CUTE!” demographic), which is really weird because you wonder where all of the adults are. When they give you a minimal explanation of how the groups came to be later on, it makes almost as little sense as Adam & Eve birthing all of mankind, but with almost as much implied incest. And so begin the migraines this movie forces into my brain for the next 100 minutes.

The majority of the kids are decked out in variations of school uniforms (because Japan Asia), though there are 3 outlying groups – the Sugi-Oh (Baseball Furies in hockey masks), the Pencak Silat (who dress like samurai on Casual Friday) and the Chi-Kanoz (yep, Asians dressed like Chicano gang-bangers whose dialogue consists almost entirely of shouting “LOCO!”. Blart). These three have almost no part in the overall story, as they don’t show up until the third act and spend the majority of their screen time as superfluous bodies in the finale rumble. There are extras, then there are extras.

The progenitor of this social structure is wise old sage Pendita (IMDB is of no help here) who, after watching the number of clans whittle each other down from 30 to 5, told everybody to stop their shit and shake hands. He declared a peace accord that everyone would squash their subsequent beefs and instead dedicate themselves to preserving life. Poppa Pendita put together a quorum of “Big Brothers” (and a “Big Sister”) to keep the remaining youth in check and to manage the city’s resources so no one group would have too much power. Though the movie makes NO EFFORT TO EXPLAIN WHO’S IN CHARGE OF WHAT, from casual observation I’ve pieced together that the 5 resources are oil/gasoline, vegetation (probably food, maybe weed), and…errr…party drugs, metal music and…club kid haircuts?! It’s not clear! There’s still electricity, but the power plant operates in the “Free Zone”, because no one should have control over such an important resource (except for Rubenesque slacker Pipit, the ONE guy who knows how to run it)… a resource so important that they use it to charge their handheld gaming devices and plug in their amps and power their cryogenic freezer unit that’s ALSO never explained…

This movie seriously makes me feel like Nigel Patrick’s a-hole role in the “Blind Alleys” segment of Tales From the Crypt: no idea where I’m going and every time I try to feel my way through this maze of darkness I get a handful of razor blades. Fuck.

The five leaders are also endowed with swords as a sign of their power, and are the only ones who carry weapons as the kids are left to fight mano-a-mano (“hand-to-hand” NOT “man-to-man”, pendejos!). Said sword-wielders are X (Farid Kamil), Kala (Jehan Miskin), Sri Gala (Peter Davis), Kulat (Zoie Tam), and Melur (you’re a crumb bum, IMDB). X is our de facto good guy, playing pacifist and lauding diplomacy over fisticuffery. He’s no angel though, as drug-induced (yep, he’s a snow bunny!) flashbacks hint at some life changing moment that ruined the dance of clashing steel phalli for him years earlier. Speaking of seraph, X also has some weird-ass “wings” that look like streams of gas vapor being blown out of his shoulders and allow him to float off of tall buildings, negating the need for elevators. If you’re waiting for an answer on what this is or why it’s happening? Yep, more fucking razor blades! GAH!

Sri Gala subscribes to the opposite philosophy of X’s “you can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms”, instead pushing that fighting/domination equals strength and only through that strength will they guarantee their survival. Kala is a violent lunatic who would also like to unite the tribes, but only under his bloody boot heels when he becomes king of everything. We meet him as he’s returning from a two year absence spent sleeping in a big freezer with tubes attached to his nipples. (Don’t ask unless you like headaches and bleeding hands.) Kulat (pronounced “culotte”) is the tough girl who will take no shit for her double ‘x’ chromosomes and runs the all-girl Klan Flora. Last (and certainly least) is Melur, who couldn’t settle on whether he wanted to emulate Jack Sparrow or The Love Guru, so he opted to be both…and constantly giggles like a dingleberry doing whippits. Pretty sure the only thing he uses his sword for is scraping the resin out of his comically large hookah.

Unsatisfied with just tackling the political ramifications of the scenario he’s put together, Khalid also gives us a cast of lesser tier characters to muddle things up and stretch the running time like a size queen in a sporting goods store. Most notable are Aman Chai (fuck you yet again, IMDB) and QiQi (Miera Layana), who are filling in the Romeo & Juliet roles that are mandatory whenever you have a movie about conflicting families/gangs/soft drink companies. Aman is X’s #2 who wants everybody to live together in peace and advance as an integrated society rather than fighting each other just to be kings of shit mountain. QiQi is Sri Gala’s daughter, which is kinda weird since the Big Brothers only seem to be maybe 10 years older than their wards…gross. Not only does Sri disapprove of the lass’s relationship with AC (Slater?), but Qi-Squared’s big brother Razor (Iqram Dinzly) fills the role of “over-protective douche-dick sibling” and keeps cunt-blocking the young would-be lovers during the communal dance parties the clans have. As The Matrix Step Up Revolution(s) taught us, you can destroy the world but dance parties will NEVER DIE!

Speaking of dancin’ and prancin’, some of the gangs like to do a little stomping wardance before their fights that make me think Apokalips X‘s marketing team could just slap “Step Up:” across the top of the box art, rent it out through RedBox kiosks and make a few million dollars worth of non-refundable rentals on it. Trust me, the majority of people who still haven’t figured out how to download movies for free are just ignorant enough that this would work!

The world outside of the city limits (Kim Cattrall?!) is a lawless badlands a la The Road Warrior and every pale (as a War Boy) imitation entry of the subgenre in the 20 years since. Emo Romeo (Romemo?) wants to run away with QiQi to this wasteland, because he’d rather chance death together than go on living this shitty shut-in life they have. There’s no force field or anything keeping the supposedly toxic air outside from coming in though, so is this just more lazy-ass writing, or is Khalid just stealing/”sampling” the plot of The Village times a hundred? I won’t spoil the answer, but I’ll tell you this much: ARGH! MORE RAZORBLADES!

Speaking of the world in which our teen combat drama unfolds, let’s have another nitpick! There are cars littering the cityscape, untouched and unmoved since the fire from the sky scorched their world so many years ago. So, I guess this mean nuclear bombs nullify combustion engines? But that can’t be the case, because X’s motorcycle, Malur’s bus and the outland bandits’ ATVs all run just fine…watch out for those plot holes, kids. One wrong step and you’re a pulped sack of now useless organs and calcium at the bottom of a friggin’ chasm.

There are some other ancillary characters to speak of too. You’ve got AC’s buddies, what’s-his-name and spazzoid (his Mercutio and Benvolio), the aforementioned Razor (Tybalt), a guy who just sings all the time and plays guitar (one of which he Honky Tonk Man’s a dude over the face with!), a precocious little girl who calls Kala a “worthless piece of shit”, some slimy dick puncher cosplaying as Rob Zombie from the cover of Hellbilly Deluxe who just goes around shanking people, along with his equally monikerless girlfriend (not worth going back to look up, really) whose entire selling point is that she wears an actual boa constrictor around her neck as a boa. Not that she ever does anything with it, but style over substance is what the kids like, right? Just ask Michael Bay.

There you have it, folks: your stage, your players, your motivations and your conflicts. Stuff happens. People fight and people die. More stuff happens. More fighting. X trains with Poppa Pendita to learn a new combat style and despite being the most feared warrior of the 5 clans, our hero looks like a little kid flailing around with a sword the entire sequence. More fighting. More dying. More stuff. The end! And what an end it is. Holy shit. Emphasis on the “holy”. And emphasis on the “shit”. What. The. Fuck. Forget grasping as those razor blades, because this finish just dumps a whole crate of the damn things all over you.

Hold onto your hats, junior cow pokers, cuz it’s time to wrap this stinker up and put a bow on it. Let’s get the positive stuff out of the way first, because there’s not a lot to speak of. The fight choreography is mostly solid, though a lot of the hits don’t carry the impact to make them believable. With the exception of that guitar shot from Joe Strummy! Damn! Jeff Jarrett could take lessons! Speaking of guitars, the generic metal music is also not terrible. I wasn’t reaching for the earplugs or the mute button, so it’s okey if not entirely dokey. Also, I dig the hell out of the opening line “That was the day the sun rose West and the stars fell from the sky” to describe the initial dropping of the nukes. Awesome.

And now the not goodness. Foremost, Mamat Khalid doesn’t come off with any specific style of his own in the two hours we spend with him. Much like the nation that birthed it, Apokalips X is a hodgepodge of influences. It’s like Highlander meets The Warriors meets West Side Story thrown into a bag full of anime elements and set in a dystopic landscape. Unfortunately, it still manages to not reach the lofty heights of mediocrity, let alone amazing. A serious barb in my armpits about it is that about halfway through the movie, things turn a corner and stuff they spent an hour establishing for a major plot point gets tossed under the proverbial bus in favor of going a different direction all together. It’s like your partner going down on you, but before you can climax they stop, turn on NetFlix, and tell you you’re going to watch “The A-Team” instead. Not necessarily terrible, but why tease me with the tongue job in the first place if you weren’t going to finish it!?

As if the story weren’t already so much recycled toilet paper (a concept that already makes my fur bristle), Khalid tries way too hard to give his movie the look of a 2 hour music video. With needless “jumpy” editing that makes it look like the actors are doing minor teleporting through some sequences, and the camera filming like it’s strapped to a big pendulum for others. And the fucking crooked shots. Ra’s sake. I haven’t seen this many tilted camera angles since Battlefield Earth. I shit you not.

Adding to the “love it or leave it”, Khalid takes a cue from plenty of other action movies anymore and uses comic book style illustrations for that “cover up our limited funds without cutting the script” trick that directors with eyes bigger than their budgets rely on. It’s supposed to be “stylish”, but all it really does is make us wonder how much cooler the sequences could’ve been had they actually filmed them with the actors instead. Unless this whole movie is based on a comic book, in which case I can excuse it. But the info available on it is so bloody scant that I couldn’t find anything about an Apokalips X publication, nor did I see a “based on” line in the end credits… not that I really looked for it anyway. Shaddup.

Maybe Malaysians eat this stuff up, but Malaysia also has the world’s largest population of cobras so… I have no idea where I was going with that. I was hoping to make the “they also eat Lassie” joke, but it turns out that’s not a thing they allow in Malaysia, let alone endorse. It’s actually straight up illegal so…yeah. Moving on!

Oh well. AX didn’t live up to its own hype and left me with more than a few head scratching (down to the bone) plot holes. It’s times like this that I like to make the most of my situation, so I played “Lost in Translation” during my mandatory second viewing. Nothing to do with that movie where we get to see Scarlett Johansson in her underwear (*slurp*), this similarly labeled distraction involves viewing the aforementioned feature while both the English dub and English subs are on. It makes for an interesting contrast at times, from something as simple as rearranged sentence structures to changed relationships between characters to full-on abusive fondling of entire plot points! In this case, it appears that the subtitles are more likely the faithful adaptation of the dialog, while the dub seems to be geared toward a more politically correct script arranged to make it a more palatable PG-13 affair for American audiences. Such evidence includes the following sub-to-dub adjustments: “donkey” and “dickhead” both become “asshole”, “faggot” becomes “monkey”, and “shit” becomes “stink”. Maybe it’s just cultural connotations, but I find it funny that something almost childishly offensive like “donkey” becomes something way worse like “asshole”. If it had been changed to “jackass”, it would’ve made more sense. Either way, changing “You’re a pile of shit!” to “You’re a pile of stink!” is almost too good to miss, but not enough to hunt down Aplopalips X just to see it.

Then again, I have no more need for my DVD copy, so I’ll sell it to ya for $2. Also willing to trade for bits of string and gently used paperclips.

And so it goes. Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed in you, Malaysia. You sold me on a promising premise only to feed me a plate of generica with a side of nonsensica. Not unlike a bad blind date, I spent two hours cataloging all the reasons I shouldn’t have shown up in my head while you yammered on about how everybody thinks you’re smart and cool and not a twat. Sorry Mamat Khalid, but I just remembered that I have an early morning public execution to attend tomorrow, and my cat needs to be fed. If I’m not home to feed Bast by 8, she starts clawing my Egyptian Cotton sheets and barfing her unused stomach enzymes all over my sarcophagus. Don’t call me, I’ll call you…if I ever need an alibi.

Moral of the Story: The more things change, the more they stay the same…especially when said things are tropes “borrowed” from much better stories.

Screenshots_____

Uhm, hope you made the most of those 5 years, little girl. I have a feeling you’re about to get short changed on any future birthdays you were hoping for.


Taco Tuesdays at the clubhouse are always followed by Gas Mask Wednesdays.


Oh, so this movie actually takes place in modern Detroit. The whole “post-apocalyptic fallout wasteland” stuff is just a metaphor. Gotcha.


If you don’t think these girls look very scary, you’ve never seen Kill Bill Volume 1. Nor have you considered how one week out of each month, these girls could take down a battalion of Navy Seals with ease.


Not to concern you, sir, but it looks like you have some heavy leakage in your fuel tank! You might wanna jettison it immediately and wait for fire officials to arrive!


Forget glass, Kala looks so cold that his nips could probably cut concrete!


“Alright! This is the issue where Batman and Superman finally kiss!”


Hey! Zombie! Hellbilly Deluxe 2 SUCKED! And so did Halloween 2! Unless it’s The Devil’s Rejects, STOP DOING SEQUELS!


Ladies, if your boyfriend wears fingerless gloves put a ring on it. Speaking of rings, give him the key to your backdoor, because he’s THE ONE. He’s more “the one” than Jet Li in The One. Seriously.


Kala’s super pissed that some girl at the same party totally stole his eyeliner, lipstick, AND big stupid fashion scarf. Call him “director”, because he’s about to make a SCENE!


Malaysian Shelley Duvall stars as Malaysian Sadako (NOT Samara!) in Malaysian The Ring, tonight on The Malaysian CW.


“Hey bro? Since you’re the only one allowed to carry a blade, you think we could use your sword to cut up our pizza? I mean, you’re a pacifist, so what do you really need it for anyway?”

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Anubis will return next time in
“Son of Satan”

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