A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the killer birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Kids know and love martial arts legend Jackie Chan from flicks like “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” and “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.” With the release of the revenge drama “The Foreigner” he’s back into adult territory.
Sixty-three-year-old Chan plays London-based restaurateur Quan Ngoc Minh whose daughter Fan (Katie Leung) is an innocent victim of a bomb attack on a fancy Knightsbridge dress shop perpetrated by a group called the Authentic IRA. Stricken with grief and fuelled by anger he embarks on a mission to track down the people responsible for killing his child. His journey of revenge takes him to Belfast where he zeros in on Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a Martin McGuinness type politician and former IRA member.
Quan, as it turns out, while old, frail looking is no one to be trifled with. I mean, this is Jackie Chan we’re talking about here. Before he was the counter man at the Happy Peacock Restaurant he was a special forces solider, trained in all manner of bomb laying and bone breaking. When Hennessy rebuffs Quan, denying any knowledge of the murderous events—“I realize you are angry,” he says, “but there’s not much I can do.”—and kicking the desperate man out of his office, he sets into motion a series of events that will see the restaurateur show his true colours.
“The Foreigner” is an action film but when the fists aren’t flying it concentrates on the fraying edges of Hennessy’s political career.
Chan’s presence dropkicks what is otherwise a rather straightforward story of revenge, directed with simple elegance by Martin Campbell, into the realm of the enjoyable. He walks like a hunched over grandpa but packs a punch like Bruce Lee.
There’s a buzz that comes with a Jackie Chan fight scene. Who else, at an age when CARP brochures start showing up in the mail, would jump through a window, grab hold of a drainage pipe and slide 20 feet down to a rooftop. Jackie Chan, that’s who. The action feels real because it is and that authenticity gives “The Foreigner” much of its electro-charge.
Brosnan is a coiled spring, a politician with secrets and an iron will. His tale of political intrigue overshadows Quan‘s story—Chan disappears for a big chunk of the movie—but it does give him a chance to chew the scenery and have some fun.
“The Foreigner” isn’t a memorable movie but it is a welcome return to the action genre for Chan and Brosnan after too long a time away.
Richard sits in with CP24 anchor Nneka Elliott to review the “legendary adventures of awesomeness” of “Kung Fu Panda 3,” the watery historical drama “The Finest Hours” and “JeruZalem’s” found footage thrills.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien chat about the found footage thrills of “JeruZalem,” the “legendary adventures of awesomeness” of “Kung Fu Panda 3” and the watery historical drama “The Finest Hours.”
When I ask Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson how she feels about being one of the highest grossing female directors of all time, she demurs and gives all the credit to her star.
“I think it is a testament to how much people like Po and like these films. There is such a huge fan base it is really flattering to have been helming something that huge.”
Alessandro Carloni, her directing partner on Kung Fu Panda 3, adds, “I think it will be fair to assume this will be the highest grossing movie ever to be directed by a Korean woman and an Italian man.”
For the uninitiated, Po is the clumsy giant panda that became an improbable hero, dumpling-eating champion and kung fu master in the first two movies. Voiced by Jack Black, in the new film he is reunited with his biological father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) who takes his son back to the Panda Village so the youngster can learn about himself, become a Chi master and do battle with Kai, a supernatural bull villain played by Oscar winner J.K. Simmons.
Both directors have great affection for Po and understand why audiences have fallen in love with the character.
“We love how enthusiastic he is, how geeky he is, how much passion he has,” says Alessandro. “One thing I have heard someone say is often there are movies where the side cast steals the show because they are the most fun while the central character is the straight guy. But we made a movie around a goofball and everybody else are the straight characters. He is the one who steals the show. When Po is on screen you will love him.”
“He has got so much enthusiasm and is basically wishing for something that is bigger than him,” says Yuh. “Something he is not able to achieve and yet he perseveres. That’s why we root for him because we’ve been there. Everyone has been there where there is something you wish you could do but don’t have the means to do it and yet you keep on going. You have to root for that.”
The pair have been with Po for a long time. Yuh was head of story and the action sequence supervisor on Kung Fu Panda before taking over the reins for the second film. Carloni worked on the first film as animation supervisor and story artist on part two.
Their almost 10-year journey with Po has been shared with Jack Black, who was the model for the character.
“He’s very unique in that he’s so funny but underneath the funny he’s got so much heart,” says Yuh of Black.
“He’s not somebody you laugh at, you laugh with him. You root for him and that is very rare. Usually you have these more jaded guys that are funny and you laugh at them when they fall on their face. But you feel bad for this guy when he falls on his face. I think that just leaks out of his performance.”
In “Kung Fu Panda 3,” Po (voice of Jack Black), the Warrior of Black-and-White, continues his “legendary adventures of awesomeness” when his long-lost panda father suddenly reappears. The movie reunites the stars from the first two films, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman, and ups the marquee value with the addition of Bryan Cranston as Po’s dad and J.K. Simmons as Kai, a supernatural bull villain but will it deliver the same kind of Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique fun of the first two?
A quick catch-up: Over the course of two films dating back to 2008, a clumsy, giant panda named Po became an improbable hero, dumpling eating champion and kung fu master. Raised by a noodle-making goose named Mr. Ping (James Hong), he becomes the leader of the Furious Five—Angelina Jolie Pitt as Tigress, Jackie Chan as Monkey, Seth Rogen as Mantis, Lucy Liu as Viper and David Cross as Crane—a celebrated band of warriors with prodigious fighting skills.
The new film sees Po reunited with his biological father Li Shan (Cranston) who takes his son back to the Panda Village so the youngster can learn about himself and become a Chi master. Meanwhile Kai (Simmons) has returned to the mortal world after a five hundred year absence with an army of Jade Warriors. He’s been collecting the Chi—the life force—of China’s masters and only needs two more for a complete set, the ancient tortoise Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) and his protégée, who happens to be Po.
The “Kung Fu Panda” movies don’t look like anything else. State of the art 3D computer animation brings the characters to life, but the gorgeous hand drawn animation in the action sequences is uncommonly sumptuous and gives the movie real character. High tech and traditional art collide to create a beautiful backdrop for the slapstick of Po and company.
Simmons and Cranston are welcome additions to the cast, bringing distinctive voices and humour to their characters.
The visuals are captivating but the star here, the reason to return for a third time to the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, is Po. He’s a classic character, an underdog (underbear?) unsure of his abilities, going up against great challenges. He’s lovable, aspirational and audiences like to laugh with him, rather than at him. He is us… only in panda form and he—along with Jack Black’s voice work—is worth the price of admission.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” is the rare sequel that holds up to the original. It’s respectful to the story but more importantly it’s respectful to the audiences who have grown to love these characters.