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Rating History

The Victim
The Victim (2012)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Emerging from some of the most pivotal science fiction films to have graced the screens, veteran Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss) makes his directorial debut in the 'grindhouse' labelled film The Victim.

After a good start with some nice camera work that is reminiscent of slasher classics like Friday the 13th and visual effects similar to those in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Victim doesn't quite deliver the bloodbath you would expect from the setup. The camera work does remain true to the genre throughout and we get some nice flashbacks explaining the backstory, which includes a little bit of titillation. The sex scene between Biehn and wife Blanc is shot very tastefully to the point that it could have come from any number of commercial flicks. Any violent scenes that appear are very much under the covers with no trace of blood or injury. Grindhouse fans are treated to one over the top killing involving a very unrealistic rubber doll and squelchy bone crunching sound effects, but again it is under the cover of darkness and void of the usual splatter expected from an exploitation film.

It was nice to see that The Victim didn't succumb to the temptation of overlaying the scratches and grime present in a lot of current neo-grindhouse flicks. Nor does it resemble the genre reinvigorated by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, a big surprise given that Biehn is very open in acknowledging the influence of Robert Rodriguez, even going so far as to dedicate the film to him in the end credits. Instead The Victim takes the natural feel of classics such as Halloween and I Spit on Your Grave and re-awakens them with a rather nice script that may even be seen as being a bit too good for grindhouse.

The Victim is not a bad film and you may have fun watching it, providing you have a penchant for 70s slasher suspense. The plot is pretty well conceived and there's some nice acting on the part of Biehn. However, if you are expecting a grindhouse furore of sex, violence and stereotyped characters present in classics the likes of Ilsa - She Wolf of the SS or Last House on the Left, you may be disappointed. Grindhouse cinema is characterised by restricted content designed to shock and thrill the audience. What we have with The Victim is a 15 rated psychological thriller that contains tamed infusions of traditional slasher and shocksploitation.

The Hot Potato
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Hot Potato is a typical British caper movie in the same spirit as The Italian Job complete with rhyming cockney and dodgy Eastend criminals. It borrows the classic characters from all good spy and gangster movies and turns them into comedy fodder adding the stylish backdrop of 60s London plus a few European cities to spice things up.

It is refreshing to see Ray Winstone playing a more subdued character than his usual hard nut type. Following in her father's footsteps is eldest daughter Lois Winstone playing the surprising Carol. Carol goes from looking like Velma in Scooby Doo to being an Emma Peel action woman. Danny played by Jack Huston is a lovable bloke and a bit of a chancer who thinks the uraniunm is a "Baked potato with ears." Not the brightest bulb in the box, Danny's one for an easy life and spends much of the film trying to lure Carol to the bedroom.

The Hot Potato is a fun hark back to the classic comedy this country is so good at producing. It's got great acting, fantastic scenery and is set in one of the most colourful periods of the modern time.

Dragon Wasps
Dragon Wasps (2012)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

There are films that have intricate plots with hidden meaning, films where serious issues are brought out and films that make you stop and think - Dragon Wasps is not one of these. This is a modern B movie and has the same feel as Ray Harryhausen's 1961 film Mysterious Island. It has everything you'd expect from a film of this sort - it's cheesy, the special effects are not the best but this is what makes it appealing. Dragon Wasps follows in the tradition of drive-thru classics such as The Blob and Godzilla - not a big-budget blockbuster but an entertaining old-fashioned adventure that does not detract with over-the-top CGI, long deep speeches or the intense development of relationships between characters.

The nice thing about this monster movie is that it does exactly what it says on the tin. Throughout the movie there are plenty of giant buzzing wasps and better than that they breathe fire. That's the dragon part. Dragon Wasps is what it is, a fun adventure with many guns, bombs and yes, even cocaine. Add to that a witch doctor moment, eating raw intestines and cannibals and you are all set for a great ride. Of course there is a bit of gore too but it's not too bad.

All in all I thought Dragon Wasps was a light-hearted bit of entertainment. And if you think giant wasps may be a little far-fetched, well, I say if we're ready to believe in blue people on another planet why not dragon wasps? As John Hammond would say : "I love the jungle!"

Twenty8k
Twenty8k (2012)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Amidst a background of property development, council planning committees, conspiracy, corruption and prostitution Twenty8k does not pull any punches. Although it appears to be a simple case of a gang killing as the plot unfolds you immediately can tell that all is not as it seems. In fact Twenty8k is a clever well-put together piece of drama with an intricate plot that will keep you guessing. It is intense, exciting and very current.

The cast in the film are a great example of the fantastic talent Britain has to offer. Parminder Nagra's (Bend it Like Beckham, ER, Alcatraz) portrayal as the gutsy sister determined to prove her brother's innocence is very convincing and Kaya Scodelario (Skins, Wuthering Heights, Clash of the Titans) is on point as the tragic Sally projecting innocence and street cred all at once. Twenty8k is Sebastion Nanena's debut as Vipon and by the looks of his performance this lad's got a successful career ahead of him.

The one major character that lurks quietly but impressively in the background, is London itself. Set in Southwood East London, Twenty8k has great aerial shots of the capitol. Canary Wharf, so recognisable, pops up a few times as does the O2 and Olympic stadiums. But the close-ups of apartment blocks, streets, alleyways and the criss-crossing fly-overs certainly give anyone who has never visited a flavour of the capitol.

Twenty8k is not a sentimental story or one that tries to ram morals down the viewer's throat but a harsh portrayal of a messed up world where those who hold the power eliminate anyone that gets in their way. Expect violence, harsh language and sex but also great acting, thumping beats and thrilling camera work.