Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

One thing you can say about Marvel Studios … they looooooves their artifacts, especially if they come in a set, and if they can destroy the entire universe then so much the better.

In this surprising outing for one their lesser know players, the world’s greatest KungFu master is pitted against his own father who intends to use the ten rings he acquired hundreds of years before to bring back his dead wife (so at least his heart was in the right place).

There’s no point changing a winning formula, so the film is high-octane, pretty violent, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I wasn’t convinced by the plot, but with great performances from Simu Liu (the hero) and Awkwfina (the non-romantic sidekick), Michelle Yeoh (who, let’s face it, is brilliant in everything) and Tony Leung, the plot didn’t actually matter so much.

No expense was spared on the special effects, the set design was brilliant, and the fight sequences? … Wow! I mean, yes, it’s a fight film, but some of the sequences were visual poetry; some bits were very much Crouching Tiger – which happens to be one of my favourite flicks.

If I had one complaint, I’d say that maybe the film was a little bit too long; a bit of editing could have shaved off a good twenty minutes in my non-professional-and-so-should-probably-be-ignored opinion. I dunno, is it possible for a finale to overdo it? If it can, then this might be the case study.

Still, a dream of a movie all the same. As I said, a strange choice for the opening of a new phase, but it worked. Oh, yes; it worked.

Film review: Nobody

Picked this up on Sky for the eye-watering sum of £13.99 (rental!) are my friends kept raving about it. Was it worth it? …
It’s the same fella who wrote John Wick, and it shows. We’ve got the same slow start, then about twenty minutes in, the movie finds its pace and its pretty much non-stop knives and bullets until the final showdown, when it really lets loose.

So, here’s the upshot: Hutch Mansell (brilliantly played by Bob Odenkirk) lives a somewhat mundane life as a book-keeper for his father-in-law’s manufacturing business. The aforementioned mundane life takes a turn for sadistic when Hutch’s house is burgled and he slowly unravels, bringing to bear the skills from his former profession: clean-up specialist for the CIA.

Needless to say, if you love John Wick then you’ll get along with Nobody, just fine. Thinking about, I think I preferred Nobody; it has a raw, visceral quality about, whereas John Wick was more stylised.

Definitely worth the £13.99 (rental!) sticker fee if you’re really into this sort of thing.

Sweet Sweet Revenge Limited by Jonas Jonasson

I’ll tell you what, I’ve been round the houses looking for a book I could settle on; I’ve dumped the last three I’ve started, but I don’t think the problem was the books (so I won’t say what they were: I think I was in the mood for something a bit more fun, a bit more lightweight … and then Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. popped up in the book feed.

What I like about Jonasson’s writing is that he manages to weave a deceptively simple plot (I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away by telling you it’s centred around revenge), some pretty unsavoury but strangely endearing antagonists (remember Hitman Sanders …?), and some fairly ordinary protagonists. The prose flows well, with no bumps or sharp edges; but plenty of humour, some of it gruesome, most of it just really fun.

The appeal of the book for me was that I could enjoy the book without expending too much brainpower; the author takes out much of the hard decision-making, but does it in a way that doesn’t patronise. To begin with, the villain, Victor, is a racist, misogynist, homophobe, thief, swindler and would-be murderer … and we learn all of this in the first ten pages, so we dislike him pretty much straight away. He does have occasional flashes of mercy, so he is very much a standout character in a book that focuses more on the adventure than the people.

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