November 29, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: OPERATION PETTICOAT - Olive Signature Edition

Starring Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Joan O'Brien, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Dick Sargent, Arthur O'Connell, Virginia Gregg, Gavin MacLeod, Marion Ross. Directed by Blake Edwards. (1959, 120 min).

Considering our current cultural climate, there's a scene in Operation Petticoat you probably couldn't get away with today.

The film was a massive hit when first released, with good reason. Its premise - the turmoil caused by five rescued Army nurses onboard a submarine during WWII - is the perfect concept for the type of sex comedies being produced at the time. And who better to helm a farce like this than Blake Edwards, arguably one of the masters of the genre?

Operation Petticoat isn't strictly a sex comedy, though. If you squint real hard, you might even see a tenuous influence on such later, more subversive, war comedies as Kelly's Heroes and M*A*S*H. Still, it's primarily a fluffy farce, and a pretty entertaining one at that. It helps, of course, that one keeps-in-mind when this was made, a time when Tony Curtis aggressively insinuating himself on a reluctant Dina Merrill was perfectly okay...even amusing. You probably couldn't get away with a scene like that today, at least if you're trying to play it for laughs.

Commander Sherman discovers - the hard way - the difference between a scotch and a lab sample.
I'm overly analyzing the movie, of course, but today's sudden awareness of sexual harassment - a new incident seemingly pops up every day - did cross my mind during this scene. No, it doesn't ruin the movie or anything. Just an observation, nothing more.

Elsewhere, the crew leers at the nurses like cartoon wolves, fake being ill so they can be "treated" and hold a raffle to see who gets to lend these ladies their clothes. Later, these nurses' girdles, stockings, bras & panties are required to save the day. The film ain't exactly subtle, but it isn't misogynistic or sexist, either, and to label it as such would be unfair, even by modern finger-pointing standards. The female characters aren't objectified bimbos, and with the exception of Cary Grant's role as Commander Sherman, it's mostly the male characters who're one-dimensional stereotypes.

" petticoat in there."
Still Operation Petticoat remains genuinely funny and a congenial good time, with charming performances and witty dialogue (and plenty of amusingly risqué double-entendres). As with previous releases in the Olive Signature series, this disc includes a lot of interesting bonus features, even if most of the brand new material isn't directly related to the movie itself. It's a big upgrade from the previous bare bones release and worth picking up for classic movie buffs.

"That's What Everybody Says About Me" - About director Blake Edwards, featuring daughter Jennifer and actress Leslie Ann Warren.
"The Brave Crew of the Petticoat" - New interviews with Gavin MacLeod and Marion Ross.
"The Captain and His Double: Cary Grant's Struggle of the Self" - Biographer Marc Eliot discusses Grant's upbringing and career.
NEWSREEL FOOTAGE - The film's opening at Radio City Music Hall, attended by Cary Grant
ARCHIVE FOOTAGE - The USS Baloo (the "Sea Tiger" of the film)
ESSAY - By film critic Chris Fujiwara (both a slide show and printed in the supplemental booklet) 

November 27, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: REMEMORY

Starring Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond, Anton Yelchin, Henry Ian Cusick, Matt Ellis, Martin Donovan, Evelyne Brochu. Directed by Mark Palansky. (2017, 112 min).

Peter Dinklage doesn't often get the chance to carry an entire movie on his shoulders. In fact, the last time he was top-billed was 2002's The Station Agent. One thing is certain...writer/director Mark Palansky is lucky to have him because Dinklage is by far the main reason to check out Rememory.

The film is a sci-fi/mystery about a box that is able to record and play back people's memories for the purpose of helping them with various psychological problems. When the inventor, Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), dies, model maker Sam Bloom (Dinklage) suspects foul play. He steals the box (with remarkable ease) from Dunn's widow, Carolyn (Julia Ormand), and uses it the narrow down the suspects. It could be any number of former test subjects, all of whom suffered hallucinogenic side effects from the rememory machine.

Peter doesn't like people touching his stuff.
As someone who also has personal reasons for taking the machine - Bloom's trying to come-to-terms with his brother's untimely death - Dinklage treads a fine line between self-absorbed and empathetic, brilliantly conveying his character's uncertainty & regret over his more unscrupulous actions - especially when deceiving Carolyn. Unfortunately, the story itself seldom rises above the mundane. Despite an overall sense of urgency, when one thinks about the machine's purpose, there isn't really a hell of a lot at stake. It all comes to a disappointing resolution that's intended to be haunting, but ultimately doesn't resonate much.

Dinklage, however, comes damn close to saving the entire film, providing nearly all of its emotional heft. Turning in yet-another great performance in a rare leading role, he doesn't disappoint, even if the rest of Rememory does.

FEATURETTE: "The Memories We Keep"
AUDIO COMMENTARY by writer/director Mark Palansky & Peter Dinklage

November 26, 2017


Starring Antonio Banderas, Karl Urban, Paz Vega, Johnathon Schaech, Robert Forster. Directed by Isaac Florentine. (2017, 87 min).

With films like Acts of Vengeance, it helps to keep your expectations in check.

Like the once-mighty Nicholas Cage, John Travolta & Bruce Willis, Antonio Banderas stays gainfully employed by cranking out low-wattage action flicks that generally skip theaters to serve as Netflix filler. And I'm pretty certain all of these guys now have at least one Death Wish rip-off under their belts (Willis actually has an oft-delayed remake of Death Wish in the pipeline...God help us all).

Banderas jumps back into the revenge ring with Acts of Vengeance. He plays Frank Valera, a slick-talking criminal defense lawyer whose wife and daughter are murdered. The police, of course, have no leads and Frank blames himself for not being there. For awhile, his penance-of-choice is allowing himself to be regularly pummeled at underground fight competitions. Then he reads Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, which inspires him to bulk-up, learn martial arts and - most ironically, since he makes his living with words - take a vow of silence until he finds those who killed his family.

The service here sucks. Time for an act of vengeance.
Aside from an attempt to intellectualize the action with quotes from ancient philosophical writings, Acts of Vengeance is your standard revenge thriller. Implausibilities are abound, such as Valera transforming into a lean, mean fighting machine in less time than it takes to sing "Gonna Fly Now," Pax Vega as a nurse who inexplicably decides to help him, and of course, underground fight syndicates that are as easy to locate as your local Starbucks. Still, Banderas delivers a dedicated, earnest performance. Unlike Willis or Cage, he doesn't appear to be going through the motions for a paycheck. Considering his age and the physical demands of the numerous close-quarters fight scenes, he's more-or-less convincing, even when squaring up against guys twice his size.

At the very least, Acts of Vengeance is better than Banderas' recent budget bin bonanzas (such as Security and the embarrassing Gun Shy). The film isn't remotely original, but you probably knew that already, and as these things go, it's a decent enough time killer. 
FEATURETTE: "Speaking Out on Acts of Vengeance"


November 24, 2017


Starring Morgan Wiggins, Ryan Rudolph, Jordyn Rudolph, Brad Bell. Directed by Josh Shreve. (2017, 75 min).

Talon Falls is a mild piece of torture porn that's competently made on a low budget, but nothing more than the sum of its influences.

Four obnoxious teenagers on a road trip through the Kentucky backwoods (of course) make a stop at Talon Falls, a popular house of horror attraction. They avoid the long lines with free passes offered by one of the employees. However, they soon discover why the horrific enactments of torture are so convincing: Those involved aren't acting. The proprietors of the place abduct hapless victims and torture them for real, in plain sight of paying customers who think it's part of the show. And these four rubes are next.

The day after Black Friday.
Unfortunately, Talon Falls plays like a hillbilly version of Hostel, without that movie's suspense or plot twists. Writer/director Josh Shreve appears more interested in unimaginative bloodletting than putting a creative spin on a worn concept. Even then, fans on onscreen sadism might be disappointed; most of the anticipated nastiness is inflicted on one guy, and relatively speaking, the scene is underwhelming.

By the midway point, the film has no more actual story to tell. The rest consists of two screeching girls running from an axe-weilding Leatherface wannabe. Even the so-called twist ending won't surprise anyone. Devoid of thrills or scares, Talon Falls is overly-derivative and ultimately tedious, even with a scant 75 minute running time.


November 23, 2017


Starring David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsly, Ellen Crawford, Annika Peterson, William Katt, Alexis Thorpe, Richard Riehle. Directed by Richard Schenkman. (2007, 87 min).

Time for a bit of honesty here. I'm pretty knowledgeable about movies in general, more so of certain genres which interest me the most. However, until I received this Blu-Ray to review, I had never even heard of The Man from Earth.

Apparently, however, this ten-year-old film is held in high regard by some, has won numerous awards and was touted as the last thing written by Jerome Bixby (who allegedly finished the script on his deathbed in 1998). The write-up and interviews included with the disc would have you believe Bixby was the second coming of Isaac Asimov, but aside from a few well-regarded Twilight Zone & Star Trek episodes, I'd wager few reading this are all that familiar with his name.

So, is The Man from Earth a rediscovered classic by an underappreciated visionary? Not really, but for a microbudget sci-fi film that takes place in a single room and consists entirely of dialogue, it's sometimes quite interesting.

"Yes, yes,'re trapped in a box. We got it the first five times."
David Lee Smith plays John Oldman, a respected and admired college professor who's about move on with his life, with no particular destination in-mind. A few of his friends & colleagues gather to see him off, at which time he claims he's actually over 14,000 years old, born during the Cro-Magnon era. At first, they think he's joking around, but before long his utter sincerity and attention to historical detail has them thinking maybe he's lost his marbles. Still, their attempts to poke holes in his story spark some occasionally heated discussions on the possibility that he's telling the truth.

The dialogue is the whole story, which eventually raises a few intriguing questions about commonly-held beliefs (including foundations of faith and religion). Some of it descends into philosophical goobledegook and silly revelations, testing the viewer's patience a bit. And even at 87 minutes, the film drags on longer than it should. However, everything does culminate in a pretty nifty twist ending.

Though it might have been more effective if Bixby had originally written this as a Twilight Zone episode, The Man from Earth's unique premise renders it fairly engaging. It's intelligent and well-performed by a cast semi-recognizable character actors (many of whom, coincidentally, also have Star Trek connections).

It also needs to be said that the video transfer betrays the film's ultra-low budget (which was originally shot with camcorders). Sometimes it's pretty distracting, and the night scenes in particular are really drab and grainy. 

"THE MAN FROM EARTH: LEGACY" (feature-length documentary)
FEATURETTES: "From Script to Screen"; "Jerome Bixby's Sci-Fi Legacy"; "On the Set"; "The Story of the Story"
AUDIO COMMENTARY by director Richard Schenkman & actor John Billingsley
AUDIO COMMENTARY by exec-producer Emerson Bixby (Jerome's son) & author Gary Westfahl
SHORT: "Contagion"

November 22, 2017


Starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judy Parfitt, Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, John C. Reilly, Ellen Muth, Eric Bogosian, Bob Gunton. Directed by Taylor Hackford. (1995, 131 min).

I've been a fan of Stephen King most of my life and have read nearly all his books. With few exceptions, I've always preferred the horror novels to those which dabble in other genres. Interestingly, though, it's often the latter which have ended up being better movies, even improving on their source material.

I suppose part of that is because horror has always been difficult to pull-off well, and why the few great adaptations of King's bread-&-butter, like Carrie, The Dead Zone, and The Mist, stand out as true classics. But I think the main reason is, even when King is writing mysteries, straight thrillers or slice-of-life narratives, his characters are still rich, vivid and complex. What self-respecting actor or director wouldn't want to get their mitts on them?

Alabama foreplay.
Though not as widely revered as Misery, The Shawshank Redemption or Stand by Me, Dolores Claiborne is another example of one of King's less compelling novels scoring as a terrific movie. Kathy Bates didn't nab another Oscar nod for this one, but her performance as the titular character, who may or may not have murdered her ailing employer, is just as remarkable. She's surrounded by a talented cast which includes Jennifer Jason Leigh as Selena, her estranged daughter, and Christopher Plummer as Mackey, a detective obsessed with proving her guilt; he remains convinced Dolores also murdered her abusive husband (David Strathairn) 18 years earlier, the one case he was never able to close.

But Dolores Claiborne isn't a standard mystery. It's also a tragic character study of an unhappy woman who still suffers from her family being torn apart by abuse (revealed through vivid flashbacks). The film is filled with surprises and revelations, the dark, somber mood aided considerably by the beautifully-dreary winter setting (which looks stunning on Blu-Ray).

Most importantly, Dolores Claiborne tells a great story, which unfolds better on the screen than it did on the printed page. The characters and performances are first-rate, as is the cinematography, all of which help make this director Taylor Hackford's best, most underappreciated film.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Director Taylor Hackford


November 20, 2017

Rest in Peace, Della Reese

Blu-Ray Review: BATTLE CRY

Starring Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore, Nancy Olson, Tab Hunter, Anne Francis, Dorothy Malone, Mona Freeman, William Campbell, John Lupton, Perry Lopez, Justus E. McQueen, Fess Parker. Directed by Raoul Walsh. (1955, 148 min).

Battle Cry is definitely one of those classics that can only be appreciated if viewed in the context of when it was made.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, war was a good thing, young men craved battle, women were dames, enemies were Japs and soldiers' dads approved of their sons' decision to start smoking. Yeah, Battle Cry is definitely a gung-ho movie that wears its nationalism proudly, but so were most war movies of the time.

And really, Battle Cry is not-so-much a war movie as it is a melodrama that just happens to take place during World War II. Despite a lot of tough talking narration by dedicated platoon leader Sgt. Mac (James Whitmore), very little of this film takes place on the battlefield. The narrative follows a variety of Marine recruits ("Huxley's Harlots") from basic training through their return home to their wives, girlfriends and families (those who survive, that is). We mostly see how they live & love while waiting to be called to fight, growing increasingly frustrated at being regulated to "mopping up" after battles, much to the chagrin of their CO, Colonel  Huxley (Van Heflin).

"Sorry, lost in your eyes for a sec."
There's the usual collection of assorted characters - the feisty Latino, the stoic Indian, the comic relief, the backwoods country boy, the lovesick Dear John, the blonde dreamboat, etc. The most interesting is Aldo Ray as Hookens, a proud, self-proclaimed womanizer who ironically falls in love while stationed in New Zealand. Hookens is the only character who undergoes any real change throughout the film; most of the others are walking cliches. Everything almost plays like an epic soap opera.

"I give up...what does the fox say?"
Yet despite some cardboard characters, cornball melodrama and a complete lack of action for the first two hours, Battle Cry is actually quite entertaining. These characters may not be unique, but they're enjoyable and the narrative more-or-less gives each equal attention, at least until the story calls for some to die, mostly off-camera. Speaking of which, Battle Cry tends to swiftly - and lazily - write several characters out of the narrative. Those who died in skirmishes are merely given a quick shout-out by our narrator after-the-fact. This jarring vanishing act isn't just regulated to the soldiers. Both Dorothy Malone and the beautiful Anne Francis show up to complicate two soldiers' lives, then abruptly disappear for the rest of the movie.

But even with its narrative shortcomings, Battle Cry remains consistently engaging. In some ways, I was reminded of 1970's Airport (coincidentally also featuring Heflin), which was marvelously entertaining despite of a plethora of shallow characters and eye-rolling dialogue. While Battle Cry isn't as dumb, it juggles nearly as many melodramatic subplots and does it very well. It also helps if you keep in-mind when this was was made.


November 18, 2017

Rest in Peace, Ann Wedgeworth


Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Gary Oldman, Tine Joustra, Yuri Kolokolnkov, Joaquim de Almeida. Directed by Patrick Hughes. (2017, 118 min).

For the longest time, I couldn't stand Ryan Reynolds. There was something about his  performances that just rubbed me the wrong way...a juvenile, smug, frat-boyish quality he brought to his roles that almost always sucked me right out of the movie. However, he was terrific in the underappreciated black comedy, The Voices, the first time I thought he was truly convincing. And of course there's Deadpool. Really, it's hard to imagine anyone else as the title character.

Maybe I'm just getting used to him, or maybe he's more versatile than I first first gave him credit for, because not only did I enjoy him in The Hitman's Bodyguard, he's the best part of the movie. No small feat when your co-star is Samuel L. Jackson. Then again, Jackson doesn't exactly spread his wings, playing yet-another expletive-spouting badass (though he's still amusing). Reynolds is mostly the uptight straight-man to Jackson's more cavalier antics, but his often-deadpan performance when reacting to the surrounding mayhem is pretty damn funny.

"Ryan, how do you deal with crazy Marvel fanboys?"
The plot itself is strictly by-the-book. Down-on-his-luck professional bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is coursed by his former girlfriend, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), into escorting notorious killer-for-hire Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to testify at the International Criminal Court in The Netherlands. Kincaid is the only living witness to atrocities committed by tyrannical Belarian president Vladdislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman, who doesn't really stretch himself either). Duknovich stops at nothing trying to keep Bryce & Kincaid from reaching the courthouse alive.

Sam salutes his critics.
The Hitman's Bodyguard could have been a straightforward - and generic - thriller, but goes the still-pretty-generic buddy-comedy route: Bryce & Kincaid first want to kill each other, but are forced to work together in order to survive before finally developing mutual fondness and respect. Still, the formula more-or-less works, mostly thanks to the two leads, who play off each other well. On the other hand, Salma Hayek as Kincaid's fiery, foul-mouthed wife is sort-of wasted. She's easy on the eyes as always, but her character is strictly a plot device who, aside from a few flashbacks, doesn't share any scenes with the rest of the cast.

Strewn throughout the plot is a lot of gunplay, destruction and a surprising amount of bloody violence. These segments are well-executed, even played for laughs on occasion (there are moments that approach black comedy), though, like the story, no one's exactly reinventing the wheel here. Still, the two leads' chemistry together ultimately makes The Hitman's Bodyguard worth checking out. They're obviously having a lot of fun and fans of this sort of thing likely will, too, even if they've seen it all before.

FEATURETTES (mostly of the promotional variety): "Big Action in a Big World"; "The Hitman's Bodyguard: A Love Story"; "Hitman vs. Bodyguard" (all film clips); "Dangerous Women"

November 16, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS and RUBY (1977)

VCI Entertainment unleashes two blasts from the past on Blu-Ray for the first time, perhaps fondly remembered by those who spent the 70s in drive-ins & run-down suburban triplexes.

Starring John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jack Kruschen, John Carradine and a slew of young "actors" we never heard from again. Directed by Greydon Clark. (1977, 90 min).

Ignored at the Oscars that year, 1977's Satan's Cheerleaders is a jaw-droppingly inept attempt at comedy and horror in one cheap, gratuitous package. The result is both uproarious and, at times, surprisingly depressing.

Good news first...the dialogue and performances are comedy gold, though not for the reasons the producers intended. The "funny" moments - mostly four nubile teens engaging in such deviant behavior as water balloon fights and sexual innuendo - evoke laughter due to a completely misguided sense of what's actually funny. We're almost embarrassed for the kids forced to utter these lines while trying in vain to look sexy, to say nothing of the older actors paid to appear dumbfounded by these so-called delinquents.

Speaking of the latter, what the hell are the likes of John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo & John Carradine doing in something like this? That's the depressing part for anyone who recalls the glory days of these once-respected actors. Watching them ham it up as bumbling Satanists (constantly thwarted by a batch of bouncing bimbos) is more sad than funny. Is this all the work they could get at the time?

While changes in our cultural climate over the last 40 years render scenes of old men leering at semi-nude young girls in a locker room kinda repulsive, Satan's Cheerleaders still provides plenty o' fun at its own expense. And believe it or not, the cinematographer of this no-budget hoot is none-other than the great Dean Cundey! I guess everyone had to start somewhere.


AUDIO COMMENTARIES - One by director Greydon Clark, the other by David DeCoteau (a B-movie director whose credits include Creepozoids) and genre film journalist David Del Valle

Starring Piper Laurie, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis, Janit Baldwin, Sal Vecchio, Pail Kent, Len Lesser. Directed by Curtis Harrington. (1977, 85 min).

"Christened in blood. Raised in Sin. She's sweet sixteen, let the party begin."

I remember that tagline from Ruby's misleading ad campaign, which helped it ride the coattails of Carrie to box office success. The trailer also ballyhooed star Piper Laurie, fresh-off playing Carrie's psychotic mom. She's the title character in this one, though not the source of terror we were all led to believe.

Instead, Laurie is a former wannabe starlet and the widow of Nicky, a gangster who was murdered sixteen years earlier. She's since opened up a drive-in theater and given work to the rest of the old gang. Ruby isn't a particularly likable lady - she wants to have her mute teenage daughter committed - but she still loves and misses Nicky. Still, you can't keep a good gangster down. Believing Ruby and his gang betrayed him, Nicky begins striking from the grave, killing them one by one.

Back in the day, we may have been initially disappointed at the lack of teens & telepaths, but Ruby is a mildly engaging slab of southern gothic horror. It's definitely hampered by a low budget - check-out the off-screen crash where the burning vehicle is obviously a completely different make & model than the one the character was just driving - but while not particularly scary, the film is atmospheric, making the most of its drive-in/swampland setting. The performances range from enjoyable to awful. Various veteran character actors earn their paychecks (and Laurie is amusingly over-the-top), while the younger cast of no-names would fit right in with the stars of Satan's Cheerleaders.

40 years later, Ruby may not have aged as well as other classic horrors of the 70s, but for those roped into checking it out at their local drive-in back then, it's a nice little nostalgia trip. You might even find it's a bit better than you remember.

"SINISTER IMAGE" EPISODES - Two more interviews with Curtis Harrington
AUDIO COMMENTARIES - One with director Curtis Harrington & Piper Laurie, the other with David Del Valle (again!) and Nathaniel Bell

Movie News: THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT Teaser Trailer


From Aviron Pictures, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT, inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS, hits theaters March 9, 2018.

A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Check out the highly anticipated TEASER TRAILER below.

November 15, 2017

Blu-Ray News: THE FOREIGNER on Digital 12/26 and Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand 1/9


Universal City, California, November 15, 2017 Global superstar Jackie Chan (Rush Hour trilogy) returns to the big screen like you’ve never seen him before in the action-packed film, The Foreigner, arriving on Digital on December 26, 2017 and on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on January 9, 2018 from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), the film also stars Pierce Brosnan (Tomorrow Never Dies), Katie Leung (Harry Potter franchise), Orla Brady (Wuthering Heights), Charlie Murphy (Philomena), and Michael McElhatton (“Game of Thrones”). With impressive action sequences and edge-of-your-seat twists and turns, The Foreigner, from STXfilms (Bad Moms franchise), tells a compelling and emotional story of justice, redemption, and retribution. Filled with gripping and explosive scenes, the film also comes with special bonus features including a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film and interviews with the cast.

Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan star in The Foreigner, a timely action thriller from the director of Casino Royale and Goldeneye.  Chan stars as humble London businessman Quan, whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love -- his teenage daughter -- is taken from him in a senseless act of politically-motivated terrorism. In his relentless search for the identity of the terrorists, Quan is forced into a cat- and-mouse conflict with a British government official (Brosnan), whose own past may hold clues to the identities of the elusive killers.

November 14, 2017


Starring Kim Ok-bin, Shin Ha-kyun, Sung Joon, Kim Seo-hyung, Jo Eun-ji, Park Chul-min. Directed by Jung Byung-gil. (2017, 124 min).

The Villainess begins with a truly remarkable action sequence. With guns, knives and her considerable fighting skills, our vengeful main character, Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin), slaughters her way through a warehouse of at-least 50 thugs. It's a long, bloody, nearly unedited set-piece that's crazy, thrilling and masterfully choreographed.

After being apprehended by police immediately afterwards, Sook-hee finds herself in the hands of a mysterious organization (we're to assume it's the government) that trains assassins to do their dirty work. One would think someone already capable of single-handedly killing several dozen men wouldn't require any additional training, but never mind. The viewer might be too overcome by deja vu to fuss over such a minor plot detail.

Why we have distracted driving laws.
Storywise, this South Korean film borrows pretty liberally from the likes of La Femme Nikita and Kill Bill, though handled with such panache and audacity that we easily forgive its derivativeness. While the aforementioned opening scene is easily the creative highpoint, there's still plenty of ferocious and exhilarating action throughout the whole film, including a delirious & deadly fight on a speeding city bus. As Sook-hee, Ok-bin carries much of the film on her shoulders and gives us a character that, despite her inherent viciousness (a product of her upbringing), we empathize with and root for.

"I am NOT missing this bus!"
Though a bit longish, The Villainess is an exciting, brutal good time. It's nothing new from a narrative standpoint, but loaded with brash, kinetic action sequences presented in a way you likely haven't seen before. That more-than-compensates for any lack of originality. Fans of all sorts of movie mayhem are sure to get a big kick out of it.