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T-34 (2018)

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I’ll give you another chance.
You choose and prepare a Russian tank crew.
On a designated day at the shooting range,
you show your science, to my cadets.
You won’t have ammunition. Just your skill.
If you die … you die as a soldier on the battlefield.

I thought it was time again to watch a realistic WWII war movie. One that focuses on heroism and the urge to survive. A film where you almost can smell the war and experience the despair, as if you were in the middle of it. Not a movie that shows experimental creatures (like in “Overlord“) or Nazi Zombies. I have to admit that after seeing the trailer for “T-34” (yes, yes, I know I always claim to avoid trailers), I was very curious about this film. The trailer looked phenomenal. And I wanted to see if the entire film was peppered with such spectacular images. Or was the trailer again a summary of the best phases of the film? Believe me. The film is unparalleled from start to finish and keeps you glued to your screen.

 

 

Euh. A Russian movie.

When it comes to Russian-made films, I need to confess that I don’t know much about that. To be honest, my knowledge is limited to the clichés known about this enormous country. But in hindsight, I really have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by it. The film didn’t have such an old-fashioned and woolly appearance, but it looked highly qualitative with extremely perfect footage and solid acting. You could say this film has true Hollywood blockbuster allures.

 

 

Big applause for the T-34.

The movie is about the T-34. A Soviet tank that was used en masse against the invasion by Germany in the former Soviet republic. This medium-sized tank, which was provided with thickened armor, was initially unable to cope with the better-made German panzers. However, they had one advantage: the large caterpillar tracks made them tactically very mobile and the infamous mud pools were no problem in the winter period, while the German armored brigades got stuck in it. So the film is a tribute to this legendary tank that helped defeat Nazi Germany.

 

 

Those slow-motion images were impressive.

If you like action-packed war films and want to see how ruthless and cruel a tank battle can be, then you should definitely watch this film (but I am convinced there are other wonderful films that tackle this subject). The confrontations between German tank brigades and Russian lieutenant Nikolay Ivushkin (Alexander Petrov) and his crew are ultra-realistic and impressive. The close-up images in the T-34 with its limited movement space, are breathtaking and have a claustrophobic effect.

You can feel the nerves rushing through your own body. Just as the crew, as they realize they can expect a fatal hit any time. You can almost smell the sweat of fear. And it’s the images that leave a huge impression. The slow-motion images of the all-destructive grenades going through steel and concrete, look really exquisite. It all has a very high PC game vibe and perhaps this technique was used a bit too much. But it was entertainment of the highest level.

 

 

Prisoners of War.

But not only the tank battles impressed me. The part about Nikolay’s captivity in a German concentration camp was also excellent. The scene where the train, crammed with “Prisoners of War”, arrives at the concentration camp in the rain, I found impressive. The despair, despondency, and hopelessness were contained in that one image with the train where dead people fall out of the wagons, the moment the sliding doors open.

It’s here that Nikolay is picked out by camp commander Klaus Jäger (Vinzenz Kiefer) to fix a captured T-34 and make it ready for battle with a crew chosen by Nikolay. The intention is that their Russian tank becomes a target during tank practices by the Germans. What Klaus Jäger doesn’t know is that they also found ammunition while removing the dead bodies. And that’s the impetus for Nikolay to escape during such an exercise and after that trying to reach Czech Slovakia.

 

I loved to play “Tank Battle” when I was a kid.

When I was young I loved to play the board game “Tank Battle”. “T-34” reminded me of this repeatedly. Only the board game was a bit more peaceful compared to this movie. “T-34” is extremely ruthless and shows how heroism makes the impossible possible. And amidst this war violence, there’s even room for some romance between Nikolay and the Russian translator Anya (Irina Starshenbaum) whose privileges in the concentration camp are invaluable for Nikolay and his companions.

I kept asking myself just one thing. What impact did such a grenade (that bounces off the armor) have on the crew in the tank? Is it the air pressure? Or the decibels? Because I can imagine that must be a lot of noise. As if you are sitting in a bronze clock and someone hits it with a heavy sledgehammer. It’s just a futile question about an otherwise excellent and impressive Russian film.

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miami’s finest end up on the run.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Cast:

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens

Plot Summary:

Miami’s finest end up on the run

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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One More Shot: Scott Adkins Returns in This Kick Ass Sequel Seemingly Shot in One Take.

With many immersing and kick ass action sequences, One More Shot is another technically impressive action film from director James Nunn.

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Scott Adkins One More Shot

Bigger, better, and more kick-ass than the first, One More Shot is another impressive one-take action film full of tension, stakes, and adrenaline fuelled action sequences. Much like the first, One More Shot is another action film shot in one-continuous take. With hidden cuts of course. This one-take style adds a greater level of intensity to the film by immersing audiences deeper into the action, and connecting audiences closer to it’s characters. James Nunn’s work behind the camera is even more precise than his previous effort. Blending excellent camera work, explicit framing, and fluid editing Nunn leave audiences with punchy (no pun intented), smooth, and enthralling action movie experience.

Scott Adkins once again kicks ass as Jake Harris, delivering another exhausting performance as he takes out waves of bad guys with guns, knives, and of course, his infamous high kicks. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast was pretty underwhelming with Alexis Knapp being the worst offender. Likewise, as exciting as it was to have Michael Jai White star alongside Scott Adkins again, he certainly doesn’t get the screen time he definitely deserved. White should have been the main antagonist. Not a high level bodyguard. With that said however, Michael Jai White’s and Scott Adkins’ brawl was a phenomenal piece of action cinema that action movie fans shouldn’t miss.

One More Shot is an action extravaganza with impressive work both on and off camera, and a brilliant early contender for action movie of the year.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

After the attack on the black site in Poland, Navy SEAL Jake Harris must escort suspect Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) to Washington DC for interrogation. However, after the two become trapped at an airport in the US by an army of armed mercanaries, Jake Harris must protect Mansur or else the fate of America would be on his head.

Much like its predecessor One More Shot is a very technically impressive action movie. Whilst James Nunn proved himself as a fantastic action movie director with his previous endeavour, it’s One More Shot that truly cements it. The filmmaker nails the tension, pacing, cinematography and framing of every fight. The airport setting is much more immersing setting compared to the previous one, allowing for much more creative, and tight action sequences.

Complementing Nunn’s excellent direction, was the casts breathtaking physicality. Unsurprisingly Adkins steals the show with his efficiently brutal, and fast paced martial arts which add a level of finesse, and polish to every fight scene. Likewise, Michael Jai White was another standout. His large physique, matched with his fast and incredibly precise combat proves a deadly foe. Despite the amount of times we have seen Adkins and White go toe to toe, the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Both performers are expert in their craft and give every fight between the two their all. While it would’ve benefitted the film if Michael Jai White had a greater role to play, it was still an unrelenting, and exhilarating brawl. Fingers crossed he’s the big bad in the next one.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

While many have come to see fist fights, shoot outs, and explosions, One More Shot boast’s a surprisingly developed script that’s much deeper than its predecessor. Writers James Nunn, and Jamie Russell provide a well paced and intriguing story full of heart and tension. The characters are far more developed, and introducing audiences to Mansur’s wife, and unborn child greatly elevated the stakes.

The performances where perhaps the films biggest downfall. Adkins was fantastic, White was incredible, and Waleed Elgadi was captivating. As for the rest, their performances just felt lazy. They brought zero nuance to their characters, and seeing them on screen provoked a thought’s of “Damn, I can’t wait to they get killed off”.

One More Shot’s ending is a little abrupt, and while it does have a sweet resolution, the film sort of just ends. We don’t get to see much of the repocussions of the events that unfolding throughout the movie which raises more questions that answers. However, we guarantee that James Nunn and Jamie Russell are working a script for the final film, undoubtedly titled “One Last Shot”. Fingers crossed.

While it may be a little premature, One More Shot is damn great action film that could easily end up on many “Best Action Movie of the Year” lists by the time December roles around. It’s technically impressive, boasting great camera work, and imagery with many adrenaline fuelled action sequences scattered throughout.

One More Shot is available to purchase on demand January 16th

Check out the trailer below:

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