Vengeance (2018): Review by Matt Duddy

Vengeance (2018): Review by Matt Duddy

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Former WWE superstar wrestler Stu Bennett stars as John Gold, an ex-soldier turned mercenary who arrives in the sleepy countryside village of Devotion to investigate the brutal murder of his friend and former colleague. All is not as it seems as the sleepy village seems to have a surprisingly large military presence, so with the help of local girl Sandra (Anna Shaffer) and a scene stealing Sebastian Knapp (drug dealer Keith) Gold must track down the killers and deliver his own special brand of vengeance.

Vengeance is a formulaic by the numbers revenge film (the title kinda gives that away). Sure it has a few clunky scenes, especially an establishing scene featuring Gold rescuing a kidnapped girl and a couple of dodgy CGI muzzle flashes and explosions but what it does have is a well-executed story with some interesting bit characters, Stu Bennett showing why he is one to watch, decent fight choreography and set pieces and Gary Daniels giving the best bat shit crazy performance  since Vernon Wells (they even share the same moustache!)

There are further nods to Schwarzenegger’s Commando, from the now stock shots of our hero tooling up for battle, cheesy one liners once a villain has been despatched to Anna Shaffer’s  brilliant channelling of Rae Dawn Chong.

With filming underway on the sequel, Vengeance is setting itself up to be an action series that like its leading character is Pure Gold.

 

Review by Matt Duddy

 

 


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The Krays: Dead Man Walking (2018) EXCLUSIVE Review

The Krays: Dead Man Walking (2018) EXCLUSIVE Review

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

Most films about the notorious twins cover their rise and fall, The Krays: Dead Man Walking solely focuses on a 12 day period in December 1966 in relation to the escape from Dartmoor prison of Frank “The Mad Axeman” Mitchell, a giant of a man with great physical strength and an even shorter fuse.

Once holed up in a dingy London flat, Mitchell (Josh Myers) starts to exhibit the kind of behaviour that saw him sentenced in the first place. Unable to trust or control him, the twins decide that they will give Mitchell a present in the form of a club hostess called Lisa (Eastender’s Rita Simon’s) to keep him “busy”. As Mitchell’s behaviour intensifies, the twins are left with only one bloody decision.

The latest in the Kray’s cannon of films is refreshing in that it solely focuses on just one event in the twin’s life with everything else on the periphery; the audience glimpses the breakdown of Reggie’s marriage to Francis, Lord Boothby’s “friendship” with Ronnie and the dogged detective Nipper Read (played by Leslie Grantham in his last role) while never shying away from the maniacal Mitchell and his penchant for violence. Marc Pickering and Nathan John Carter who play Reggie and Ronnie respectively portray the twins well, Carter, who has been in 2 recent Kray films in supporting roles has now found himself propelled into the shoes of Ronnie and relishes every second.

The film is lean at just 75 minutes but never outstays it’s welcome and leaves you wanting more. For me the only thing that lets the film down is the inclusion of a miscast Darren Day in a throwaway role.  Day just doesn’t manage to convince, even with limited screen time.

But minor quibble aside like the twins themselves, this smart, gritty, violent and stylish thriller never outstays its welcome and leaves a lasting impression.  Smart, gritty and stylish… The Krays: Dead Man Walking is a vicious and visceral treat

Reviewed by Matt Duddy

The Krays: Dead Man Walking is released on DVD, BluRay and VOD on the xxxxx 2018

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Guest Review: Matt Duddy Reviews ‘We Still Steal The Old Way’

Guest Review: Matt Duddy Reviews ‘We Still Steal The Old Way’

Other Cr*p

The follow up to 2014’s rather enjoyable We Still Kill the Old Way where retired gentlemen gangsters taught a lesson to today’s young urban hoodies sees the newly reunited Archer Gang pull off an audacious robbery only to be caught red handed.

Once the trio are on remand, everything becomes clear; the robbery was an elaborate ploy to get sent to prison to help break out George Briggs (Patrick Bergin) an old friend of Ian Ogilvy’s Richie Archer. Things suddenly take a turn for the worse when old foe Vic Morrow (Billy Murray) gets transferred to the same prison and has a 30 year old score to settle with the Archer Gang.

The film should have been titled We Still Escape the Old Way as essentially it is a prison break film with a robbery bookending the main plot. Much like the first film, Ian Ogilvy shines as Richie amiably supported by the scene stealing Chris Ellison and Tony Denham who all have some wonderful rapport especially when referencing age and ailments. My only gripe is that Billy Murray did not seem very menacing and Vas Blackwood was criminally (excuse the pun) underused.

The first film worked as viewers enjoyed seeing gangsters of a pensionable age take on a much younger menace on the streets of London and teach them a lesson, the sequel is slower paced and may struggle to find an audience that wants to watch people in their 70’s square up against each other, reminisce about how tough they were decades ago and then escape from prison.

If you enjoyed the first film, this is a decent companion piece, let’s hope the upcoming third film in the series We Still Kill Steal Die the Old Way takes heed of the flaws of the second film.

 

Author: Matt Duddy

 

Blog: All Things Film – Cobain Montage Of Heck Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – Cobain Montage Of Heck Reviewed

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It has been 21 years since the Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain killed himself aged just 27 years old, the godfather of grunge, reluctant icon and spokesman for a misunderstood generation took his own life at the height of his fame.

Montage of Heck is a documentary from Oscar nominated director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) and is produced by Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean. Unlike the previous unauthorised TV documentaries that went before it; Montage of Heck has full access to Cobain’s home videos and some very frank and honest interviews with his wife Courtney Love.

The documentary has a heady run time which is just shy of 2.5 hours with the first hour solely focussing on Cobain’s childhood. There are interviews with his Mother, Father and Sister which all give insight into the marriage break up and poor paternal nurturing that was to have such an impact on a young Cobain and shape him for things to come.

Morgen uses a mixture of Super 8 footage, fantastic animation and extracts from Cobain’s diaries which scroll across the screen to show the inner angst that would prove to be his ascension to fame and subsequent downfall in later life.

The main focus of the documentary is the lead up and subsequent release of Nirvana’s pivotal album Nevermind, an album that would influence and change a generation, an album that would give a voice to all of the repressed teenagers who have suffered in silence and an album that would give the world Smells Like Teen Spirit.

There are many interviews with the band following the release of Nevermind, all of them show Cobain’s increasing dislike for the media and self publication, in several interviews he refuses to talk saying that everything that people want to know is in the music, some interviews he sleeps through, some he talks gibberish, this all shows his reluctance to promote himself and that he cannot fathom or comprehend the fame that has been thrust upon him almost overnight.

The documentary then takes a darker turn, Cobain would complain about crippling stomach pains, although never officially diagnosed, Cobain started to self medicate; with heroin. It was at this period in his life that he met Courtney Love, a former junkie and singer with the band Hole. Love immediately impressed herself upon Cobain and he identified with her as a kindred spirit, albeit a self destructive spirit. They soon married and both started using drugs heavily, Cobain withdrew from the public eye and they holed themselves up in Cobain’s house. The pair filmed themselves high on drugs on frequent occasions and some of these are shown along with the squalid conditions that they were living in.

Love then fell pregnant and Cobain vowed to clean himself up as he wanted to be the father he never had. There are genuinely touching moments between Cobain and the newborn Frances Bean, however, we quickly skip over the fact that Love had continued to use drugs while pregnant and that Social Services had taken Frances Bean away from the couple as they were unfit to care for her.

Love then states that Cobain’s first suicide attempt was due to her “just thinking” about cheating on him in the run up to Nirvana’s acclaimed MTV Unplugged spot. It is here where the film ends stating that 4 weeks later Cobain Killed himself with a self inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Montage of Heck is an extremely competent documentary which gives a vital insight into the life of one of music’s icons, however it is not without fault; interviews with Cobain’s sister and father in particular are jettisoned early on, while there are plenty of interviews with Krist Novoselic, it is the absence of Dave Grohl (apart from archive footage) that really stands out. There was no love lost (excuse the pun) between Grohl and Love and this is apparent from one of their first meetings. They subsequently spent the next 20 years fighting over who controlled the Nirvana rights.

The Nirvana version of Smells Like Teen Spirit, their most famous song, is also oddly missing only to be replaced by a choir version playing over the top of behind the scenes footage of shooting the music video. My main gripe however is the fact that the documentary does not show the fallout from Cobain’s death, the impact that it had on his family, band mates, friends and especially music fans the world over.

Montage of Heck is a must see for any Nirvana fan but do be aware that it leaves some questions unanswered.

Cobain: Montage of Heck is in cinemas from April 10, available on digital download on April 24 and on DVD and Blu-ray from April 27.

 

Author: Matt Duddy

 

To hear more on this review (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast, part of the All Things Film network. 

Blog: All Things Film – A Most Violent Year (2015) Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – A Most Violent Year (2015) Reviewed

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This was a film that I was really looking forward to, the trailer looked dark and moody, set in 1981 this looked to be a decent gangster film, something that Abel Farrara may have made in the 90’s.

It couldn’t have been more wrong.

Firstly the title along with the trailer implies violence, however there is little violence in the film, if it wasn’t for the swearing this would be rated a 12a, the film also takes place over a 30 day period not a year, the title is in reference to 1981, the year when violence was at its highest in New York and when the film is set.

Secondly, the trailer is cut to look like it is a gangster film, it is not. The film is about an immigrant man trying to expand his heating oil business while his competitors steal his trucks and the District Attorney is looking to press charges for fixing fuel prices.

Oscar Isaac channels his inner Pacino as the owner of the heating firm while Jessica Chastain as his wife along with Albert Brooks as a Teamster boss are criminally underused, I was expecting a lot more from Oscar nominated writer and director J.C Chandor following his previous efforts on Margin Call and All is Lost.

Some may say that this is a character driven film but there is no character development and the audience does not care about the main protagonists or the issues that they are facing, in fact, most of the interesting parts of the characters back stories are explained away in a few quick sentences. This is a real slow burner of a film which gets bogged down with its long running time, excruciating slow pace and mediocre performances.

To hear more on this review (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast!

Author: Matt Duddy

 

Blog: All Things Film – American Sniper (2015) Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – American Sniper (2015) Reviewed

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American Sniper tells the true story of Chris Kyle who became the Navy SEALS deadliest sniper with over 160 confirmed kills attributed to him over his four tours of Afghanistan. The story starts with Kyle wanting to be a cowboy and spending most of his free time at rodeos, the events of 9/11 soon changed his career path and after watching the events unfold on TV he went and signed up to become a Navy SEAL at the ripe old age of 30.

Taught to shoot at an early age by his father, Kyle opts to become a sniper and quickly rises through the ranks and earns the moniker of “Legend” due to the amount of kills he has, however, the only person that has eluded him so far is an Olympic gold medallist in shooting from Syria who has been picking off his fellow SEALS on behalf of the Taliban.

The film does not pull any punches and shows the full atrocities of war along with the PTSD that haunts so many returning soldiers and the subsequent effect that it has on their lives and the lives of their loved ones, it is skilfully directed by Clint Eastwood and is produced by and stars Bradley Cooper in what is easily his best role to date.

This type of film and its subject matter may not be everyone’s cup of tea and it just stays the right side of the line in regards to being too gung ho, but at its heart is a fascinating story about America’s greatest sniper which fans of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty will lap up.

To hear more on this review (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast! 

Author: Matt Duddy

 

Blog: All Things Film – Saints and Soldiers: The Void

Blog: All Things Film – Saints and Soldiers: The Void

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Set in 1945 just after Hitler’s death, Saints and Soldiers: The Void cashes in on the soon to be released Brad Pitt starrer “Fury” while telling the story of the last few days of WWII from a totally unbiased American viewpoint.

In short it is cat and mouse with tanks, two allied Hellcat tanks (armed with anti tank armour piercing shells) against three German Panzer tanks. The Hellcats are boxed in as they are too heavy to cross a bridge but they must make a stand against Ze Germans as an allied General will be travelling along that road later and they need to keep him safe. Throw in a plumy Englishman who would put an Old Etonian to shame, a racist gunner who doesn’t want to take orders from his black superior and a few meaningless flashbacks and you have a mildly entertaining 90 minutes.

The story is exaggerated to the maximum and some of the effects are a bit ropey with characters popping up from nowhere only to disappear again just as quickly, all in all, there is a Sunday matinee feel to the film but it is entertaining nonetheless.

 

Author: Matt Duddy

Blog: All Things Film – Hooligan Factory Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – Hooligan Factory Reviewed

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British independent film in recent years has consisted mainly of films about football hooligans and various viewpoints on the Rettenden Range Rover murders, some have been very good, others have been laughably bad, it is this genre that writer/director Nick Nevern has chosen to lampoon in his film The Hooligan Factory.

The film centres on Danny (Jason Maza) a loner who wants to desperately live up to his father’s violent legacy. A chance meeting with Dex (Nevern), a legendary hooligan top boy who has just been released from prison gives Danny the sense of family and belonging that he craves as well as exploiting his penchant for violence.

From the well crafted opening scene which features cameos from three genre favourites to the Goodfellas-esque introduction to the family of hooligans, this film certainly lives up to the tag line that these guys will leave you in stitches. There is a real chemistry between Nevern and Maza’s characters and a whole host of cameos who gleefully send up their usual hard man personas.

This is observational comedy at its best from a real fan of the genre, it is sharply scripted and with the exception of a few flat jokes mainly delivers, the endless quotes from The Football Factory that you and your mates ping at each other are all referenced here along with some fantastic ones of their own that you will find yourself quoting in weeks to come.

So don’t be a melt, go out and buy this and get ready to laugh your canister off.

 

Author:  Matt Duddy

Blog: All Things Film – Camp Dread Review

Blog: All Things Film – Camp Dread Review

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The premise to Camp Dread is simple; take a bus full of degenerate twentysomethings, instead of taking them to rehab or prison, transport them to a summer camp which gained infamy as the set of a horror film franchise and tell them that they have a chance to win $1 million if they partake in a new reality game show produced by horror maestro Julian Barrett (Eric Roberts). All they have to do is be the last one to be eliminated.

Throw in Sleepaway Camp star Felissa Rose and genre favourite Danielle Harris and you should have a hit horror film right? Right?

I get that it is supposed to pay homage to the slasher camp based films of the 80’s such as Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp but it pales in comparison. There is no character development and people just pop up and die 2 minutes later, as a viewer you really don’t care about them. The deaths are gory but done so quickly you are hard pushed to see them and when you rewind and view in slow motion you can see how horrifically cheap the effects are. The editing is particularly bad and has been cut with a chainsaw and then sellotaped together by a half blind dyslexic chimpanzee, I half expected some of the frames to end up upside down at one point.

Eric Roberts is billed as the star of Camp Dread, however, it is evident that he spent one day on set and rattled through his lines and picked up his paycheck and meal voucher on the way out. Danielle Harris’ involvement is nothing more than a glorified cameo in the miscast role of the town sheriff. Both of these actors can do so much better and it is sad to see that they have resorted to appearing in films like this to pay the bills as it certainly wasn’t the script that attracted them.

I could summarise this review with a witty play on the title such as dreadfully camp or camp dreadful but that would be too lazy, so I will end by saying that Camp Dread, like its inhabitants is poorly executed.

 

Author: Matt Duddy

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

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Ever wondered what it would be like to attend a star studded film premier?

Me too.

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That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend the UK premier of The Monuments Men, a film about a group of men tasked with finding art and other precious objects stolen by the Nazis.  The film is Produced, Directed by and stars George Clooney, able support is in the forms of Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchette.

Knowing that I was going to be walking down the red carpet gave me second thoughts about my attire, a ripped pair of jeans and a polo shirt. I then decided to go smart, only to be reminded by my partner that it didn’t matter what I looked like, people wanted to see George Clooney not myself. Undaunted, I smartened myself up and headed up to London.

Walking

past Trafalgar Square you could already hear the screams coming from nearby Leicester Square; I then had to barge past a horde of paparazzi outside The National Portrait Gallery as some of the recovered works of art were on display and would later be visited by the stars of the film.

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Rounding the corner into Leicester Square I was met by a throng of people all screaming for Matt Damon who had just arrived. Thousands of people were pushed up against the crash barriers all wanting a glimpse of their idols and maybe an autograph or selfie. I have walked through the square when there have been numerous premiers but never had I seen crowds on this scale.

Pushing through the crowd I arrived at my destination, a nearby hotel where my ticket was waiting at reception. Ticket now in hand, I dually set off to circumnavigate the perils of an overcrowded square and find my way in to The Odeon. Spotting lots of bouncers in hi vis jackets at the entrance to the gardens I headed their way and presented my ticket, this was to be the first of 6 times my ticket was checked in the space of 100 metres.

I walked behind an outside broadcast vehicle and the next thing I knew was that I was on the red carpet, cameras were flashing in front of me and I realised that I was a couple of feet away from Hugh Bonneville.

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I continued to walk along the carpet, ushered along by the security until I was almost pushed into Matt Damon, iPhone in hand I managed to grab a couple of pictures before being pushed forward by security again.

In front of me, Jenni Falconer was interviewing John Goodman up on the stage, his voice booming out across the square, it was at this point that I spotted George Clooney being interviewed to my right, I walked over closer to get a better look, “take a picture and make it quick” his wall of security said, photo taken, I had my ticket checked again and I was then inside.

Walking through the foyer, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye; it was Jean Dujardin just hanging around the foyer.  I went straight up to him and in my best GCSE French said “Excusez-moi Monsieur Dujardin, une photo s’il vous plaît?” he shrugged his shoulders and gave a slight nod. Happy with my French and with my photo I headed into the cinema to find my seat.

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The cinema screen was showing all of the footage from outside and all of the interviews with the stars, I took this opportunity to wolf down the huge bag of complimentary popcorn and Lindt chocolates that were on each seat.

Thirty minutes later a troop of silhouettes were seen walking down the side of the cinema, the house lights went up and the stars of the film appeared on stage and thanked everyone for coming. There is a large round of applause for some of the surviving Monuments Men and women that are also in attendance tonight, Clooney’ speech is short and sweet and utterly charming, and with that he is done, he leads everyone off stage and back out of a side exit of the cinema.

The lights dim again and the curtain rises as I settle down to watch The Monuments Men.

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(Back L-R) John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, (front L-R) Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, real life Monument Man Harry Ettlinger, Dimitri Leonidas and Writer & Producer Grant Heslov

Visit the Telegraph to see the Red Carpet highlights video… 

Reporter: Matt Duddy