Friday, January 25, 2013

Top Ten Comedies of 2012

Thankfully, unlike with the animated and fantasy/sci-fi lists, I had a bit of a wealth of comedies to choose from for this list. As such, you can have the Zach Savage guarantee that you would be wise to blind buy every last film on the list. Hop to it.

Honorable Mention: Ace Attorney, This is 40, Iron Sky

10. Goon - I'm drawing a blank on the last time we got a really good sports comedy. The most recent I can think of would be Shaolin Soccer, which was both 11 years ago and Chinese. As such, I was quite pleasantly surprised by this effort, a theoretically true story about a bouncer (Sean William Scott) who is peer pressured into joining a minor league hockey team, and finds success as a goon. Those are the guys who are known more for assaulting their opponents than talent if you don't follow hockey, and obviously quite a few hockey fans are fans specifically for them. It's fairly formulaic, as sports movies are, but it's good hearted and almost effortlessly funny all the way through.

9. To Boldly Flee - This is one of the films I know I'm going to get shit on for including here, but it matters not. This is the fourth anniversary film by the team at Channel Awesome, and I'd say it's their best effort yet. For those unfamiliar, Channel Awesome is basically a collection of various film, video game, comic book, and music critics led by the Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker), and last year they all teamed up to take on SOPA, evil space aliens, and plot holes. It's a bit hard to defend to someone completely unfamiliar with them, as it's rather cheesy and in-jokey and goes on a bit long at three and a half hours, but I would simply be lying if I claimed it was anything other than one of my favorite comedies of the year.

8. The Watch - Just about every year we wind up with a movie or TV show delayed, cancelled, or altered in some absurd way because of a real life event, and in 2012, this got to be that movie. Thankfully, it was only the title that was altered, as it was originally called Neighborhood Watch until the Trayvon Martin shooting prompted a frantic name change because obviously that makes sense. Anyway, this feels like a bit of a throwback to the comedies that were coming out a decade ago, before the comedy world became overwhelmed by meandering Judd Apatow creations. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Dean Learner decide to form a neighborhood watch to keep their town safe, only to discover that they may be dealing with a discreet alien invasion. It's clever and raunchy, to the point where it's to date the only movie I've ever known to get a regular theatrical release that included a circle jerk.

7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - I can't honestly say I was expecting too much out of this, but this comedy about a bunch of aging Britons that decide to vacation at an exotic restored hotel in India (that turns out to be a bit more exotic -- and unfinished -- than they'd hoped) turned out to be as charming as could be. It's aided by the wealth of great talents such as Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Dev Patel, and Tom Wilkinson, as the British pensioners try to figure out what they're going to be doing with the remainder of their lives, now that the society they know has largely passed them by, while the young hotel owner who has lured them there tries to give them the vacation of their lives to save his failing business.

6. Fat Kid Rules the World - I have to give points of respect for any comedy that opens with the main character attempting to kill himself by walking in front of a bus. He doesn't quite succeed (though he does get to enjoy it as a fantasy first), as a semi-homeless teen (Matt O'Leary) grabs him and knocks him out of the way just in time, and before we have a chance to think he did it for altruistic and kind reasons, he then hits up the fat kid (Jacob Wysocki) for twenty bucks. And so begins one of the best friendships we got on film last year, as O'Leary invites Wysocki to join his new band (which turns out to be just the two of them, as O'Leary was just booted out of his last band for being a drug addict) and Wysocki in turn tries to introduce O'Leary into his family, where we get a delightful performance by Billy Campbell as hid dad, who manages to essentially channel Robert Patrick in The Unit without ever devolving into a cartoon of a military dad. Like another film on the list, it's as much a drama as a comedy, but it's one that, if there's any justice in the world, should become a big hit with teens.

5. Ted - I won't claim to be a huge Seth MacFarlane fan. Frankly, I liked him a whole lot more back when he was bringing out one good show each week instead of three mediocre ones. That said, this is the funniest damn thing he's made in his entire career to date. It's a fairly simple premise, where a young boy's Christmas wish for his teddy bear to become a real friend comes magically true, and after a brief bit of childhood joy, we move forward to the present day, where John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (CG teddy bear, voiced by MacFarlane) are now adult burnouts that would rather spend their time getting stoned than doing anything of substance with their lives. It's somewhat episodic, which I suppose isn't surprising for a writer/director whose entire career prior to this has been in TV, and it does occasionally misfire, but when it's working it's a scream.

4. Why Stop Now - Like Fat Kid Rules the World, this is part comedy and part drama, following a young piano prodigy named Eli (Jesse Eisenberg) as he tries to make it through what is hopefully the worst day of his life. On the day he has to audition to get into an elite music program that would likely open his future wider than Goatse, he also has to check his drug addicted mother into rehab, only to find that they won't accept her if she doesn't have any drugs currently in her system, and when he takes her to her dealer so she can get high the dealer kidnaps them both because she owes him money, and...It's a huge mess, and one played so dryly that were Tracy Morgan not one of the main characters you could easily start to think this was a straight drama. As you may have noticed by this point, I tend to prefer comedies with really uniquely defined characters and crises that arise organically, and this has both of those traits in spades.

3. Seven Psychopaths - As does this, the latest film from Martin McDonagh, whose previous film In Bruges ranks as one of the best comedies of the 00s. This isn't quite as good, but it continues with the same general feel of anarchy, as Billy (Sam Rockwell) takes it upon himself to try to help his friend Marty (Colin Farrell) overcome his writer's block on his new screenplay Seven Psychopaths by pitching him ideas for new psychos and putting an ad out in the paper calling for any of them out there to come forward, all while running afoul of a local crime boss (Woody Harrelson) due to Billy's main career as a dognapper. Toss in Christopher Walken in his best role since at least Catch Me If You Can (seriously, between this, A Late Quartet, and to a lesser extent Stand Up Guys, this has been Christopher Walken's best year since he was in The Deer Hunter), and you've got what should have been a pretty decent hit instead of a bit of a flop. Something's wrong with people.

2. 21 Jump Street - This was the greatest of the more traditional comedies out in 2012, easily the best of all of the remakes of TV shows we've gotten over the past twenty years. It's a buddy cop movie starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum who, after an astonishingly incompetent failed drug bust, are assigned to an undercover squad on Jump Street, where they are to infiltrate a local high school and get in with the dealers of a new drug that the kids there have been overdosing on, only to find that high school is...somewhat different than they remember it. Hill here shows why he's become such a beloved actor since Knocked Up and Superbad, and Tatum gives me a reason to actually like him after the unfortunate G.I. Joe movie.

1. Killing Them Softly - Okay, I know I'm going to get reamed for this one. Yes, officially this is a crime story, and if we judge it solely on those merits then it's not a particularly memorable one. I can say, however, that I was giggling like an asshole the entire way through the film, and I am at least 80% confident that that's just as writer/director Andrew Dominik had intended. Everything about it, right from the opening credits (we get ominous horror music cut with an Obama speech so rapidly that it swiftly loses any and all coherency) to Brad Pitt's long suffering hit man having to deal with the walking disaster that is James Gandolfini to the basic premise of the heist itself (basically robbing a secret card game hosted by Ray Liotta with the presumption that Liotta himself will be blamed since he had robbed his own card game a couple years before), screams that we should be laughing our way through it. I realize I'm in a minority here, but damn it people, just watch this movie and tell me I'm wrong.

Next week we're knocking out the best horror movies of 2012. Spoiler: it was a good year for them.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Top Ten Animated Films of 2012

I freely admit, I was pretty damn worried about this one for a while. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had only seen exactly ten animated movies from 2012, so my list was going to range from the brilliant to utter shit. Thankfully, I saw enough to push all the mediocre ones to the honorable mention list and the outright lousy ones (for the record, they were Madagascar 3 and Hotel Transylvania) into oblivion where they belong. If I do this again next year, I'll be including straight to video movies so I can pad the list with a bunch of superhero movies.

Honorable Mention: The Lorax, From Up On Poppy Hill, Ice Age: Continental Drift

10. The Pirates! Band of Misfits - The latest animated effort from Peter Lord (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run) is not his best work, let's get that on the table right now. What it is is a fairly pleasant story of one of the worst pirates in the world that is desperately trying to win big at the annual pirate awards. It's cheerful and fluffy, and while it doesn't match, say, Chicken Run or Curse of the Were Rabbit, neither of those came out this year so maybe shut up.

9. The Secret World of Arrietty - This was Disney's Studio Ghibli release this year (looking at my list, I see that there are no fewer than four Disney releases on it -- apparently they're a bit of a dominant force in my life), and it trades the wild fantasy style of Hayao Miyazaki's films for what feels more like a simple American 80s cartoon. That's not to say it's a bad movie by any means, it means that the story, about a miniature family of Borrowers living secretly in a human family's home, feels like the sort of film one might have gotten from Disney back in the pre-Little Mermaid days. Sometimes you need a film that doesn't have incredibly high stakes, and is willing to just be charming and fun.

8. Rise of the Guardians - This is the first of the big children's adventure stories to make the list, as Dreamworks gives us a tale of a young Jack Frost being initiated into the Guardians, a superhero group comprised of various modern mythical figures such as Santa Claus (called North here and given a Russian accent for reasons I can only guess at), the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman, as they try to protect the people of the world from the dark menace of Pitch (as in black) and his team of nightmares. It doesn't quite live up to the promise of that rather inspired premise (possibly due to it being based off of a novel), but it is an engaging effort, and much better than the average Dreamworks film.

7. Wreck-It Ralph - While this doesn't rank with their classics, I cannot express how happy I am that, after a decade of making largely mediocre or outright terrible movies (seriously, Chicken Little is the worst film they have ever made), Disney finally seems to have gotten back on track. This one showcases the lives of a group of videogame characters living in an arcade, and much like Brave, focuses on one (Wreck-it Ralph, obviously) who decides to go on a journey to change his fate. Much like actual arcades in the 90s, it gets a bit too bogged down towards the end with fighting and racing, but it's still a largely effective film.

6. Chico & Rita - This is a charming film about the music scene in late 1940s Cuba, and two young musicians who fall in love while trying to make it big. It's a mature, adult effort, and more smoothly animated than several of the bigger name efforts that came out last year. It's rare to see any film that deals as intelligently and honestly with relationships and Cuban/American hostilities as this film does. And yes, I'm well aware that IMDB says it came out originally in 2010, but since I don't live in L.A., Telluride, or Miami, 2012 was when I first had a chance to see it, so suck a dick.

5. The Rabbi's Cat - It's not going to be easy to explain why you should see this, but here goes: this is a French film about a rabbi and his daughter living in Algeria who find their cat has suddenly developed the ability to speak after eating the daughter's parrot. What makes the film so interesting is that, rather than engaging in any wacky animated adventures, the cat instead decides to spend his time debating religion with his owner, even demanding to be converted to Judaism like his master, only to horribly offend the rabbi and be chased away from the synagogue. It's a very laid-back, episodic film, content to meander around and wryly poke and prod at religious institutions (eventually the rabbi, the cat, an Islamic sheikh, a Russian Jew, and a Russian Orthodox Christian decide to go on an adventure into the depths of Africa, apparently because just venturing into a bar together would have been too obvious). It's not going to be a film for everyone, as it's rather slow-paced, and the animation style is rather, shall we say, unorthodox, and some will just be offended by its views on religion, but for those of you that wish to view a smart and funny film, check it out.

4. Brave - Brave doesn't really measure up to some of Pixar's greater achievements like Up or The Incredibles, but it's at least a noticeable step up from their prior effort Cars 2, and let's be honest, even a weak(er) Pixar film is better than most animated films out there. This one offers a bit of a twist on a classic Disney theme, as young Princess Merida finds she hates the idea of marrying a prince and settling down into a royal lifestyle, and so she goes off on a quest to find a way to change her fate. Being Pixar, it takes some strange twists and turns that I was not expecting, making it rather more interesting than the thematically similar Wreck-It Ralph. It should also be noted that this has far and away the best animation of any film this year, because Pixar is boss like that.

3. It's Such a Beautiful Day - I almost feel bad for acknowledging that an hour long cartoon with stick figures wound up being better than most of the more polished films by major studios, but this film (actually a carefully stitched together compilation of three previous shorts by Don Hertzfeldt) is so touching and funny I can't help myself. Hertzfeldt largely created the entire film by himself (a film editing credit for Brian Hamblin is the only sign that he didn't do absolutely everything) as we enjoy the life of Bill, a man who is trying to go through life after a series of strokes leaves his mind and body increasingly fractured. In that regard, it's a bit like the new Michael Haneke film Amour, except it's not a miserable slog through depression and misery.

2. Paranorman - I think everyone by now knows that I'm both an obsessive horror junkie and a complete man child, and as such I have an inordinate fondness for any children's horror movies, and when they just so happen to be as delightful as this one, well, that's just a bonus (this, by the way, is also why I was more upset than I normally would have been at how terrible Hotel transylvania was). I hope this becomes a more universally loved film, because quite frankly, if people are going to be promoting a movie that explains how it's wrong to judge someone for being different, wouldn't you rather it be a film about a boy who talks to ghosts and zombies and saves his town from a witch's curse than some cartoonish drivel like The Breakfast Club?

1. Frankenweenie - Tim Burton directed two films last year. One of them, Dark Shadows, is the worst movie he's made since Planet of the Apes, if not his worst outright. The other, Frankenweenie, is his best since Ed Wood. The story is so simple that I'm frankly a bit surprised I can't think of another example of it, particularly as it's based off of a short film Burton did for Disney back in the mid-80s: a young, present day Victor Frankenstein becomes distraught after the sudden death of his dog, and deals with it in the only way he knows how: by bringing his ass right back to life through mad science. I don't know that anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet won't be able to sympathize, or wish they had the ability to save their loved ones as he does here. Further, Burton's visual flair is particularly suited for animated films (with Corpse Bride being one of his only big directorial highlights of the past decade, I kind of wish he'd do them more often), and as an added bonus, we get the most delightful character find of 2012 in Professor Rzykruski. What more could one ask for?

Anyway, next up on deck is the best comedies of 2012. I actually had a wealth of comedies to choose from, to ensure a healthier list.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top Ten Science Fiction & Fantasy Films of 2012

We don't need an extensive preamble for this, right? Let me just note that this is the first year in some time that there were enough good (or at least decent) fantasy and science fiction films to make a good Top Ten list from (without checking, I'd guess you'd have to look back at least a decade to when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was coming out, if not longer -- the 80s, maybe?). Anyway...

Honorable Mentions: 4:44 Last Day on Earth, Chronicle, The Hunger Games

10. Prometheus - While it was perhaps inevitable that Ridley Scott's proud return to the Alien universe would fail to live up to the hype, we at least got an interesting (if somewhat confused) sci-fi epic filled with monsters and fascinating alien worlds (well, one world) and Michael Fassbender. Maybe he can make a sequel to it that could properly use his full talents...

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - This movie had a lot going against it from the start, so I suppose it's a credit to the film that it made the list at all, despite being based on the least eventful and interesting of Tolkien's books (at least excepting the Silmarillion, which Jackson decided to cram chunks of into here), being split into three films for seemingly no reason beyond a blatant cash grab, and being used to test drive new digital cameras that apparently make the film look like a soap opera (I didn't see the 48 fps version, so I can't comment on that). Despite itself, once it finally gets going it winds up being a pretty entertaining adventure, with an epilogue that all but promises that the second and third film will be better.

8. Snow White & the Huntsman - No, I can't say that I would have ever been expecting to say that a film starring Kristen Stewart would wind up being really good, and yet here we are. First-time director Rupert Sanders (who is now apparently using his success to do a remake of Van Helsing with Tom Cruise, because why not?) managed to update the Snow White tale into one that's visually lush and suprisingly epic-feeling, despite being based on a short story. There's only one glaring flaw to the whole thing, and I'll leave it to you clever sleuths to try to deduce what that could possibly be.

7. Holy Motors - I somewhat dreaded trying to describe this, as the film is so deliriously weird and plot-free that I'm worried I'm just going to make it sound dreadful. Basically, we spend a day with Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) as he is chauffered around the city, playing various roles for various people. He is, at various points, a business leader, a madman, a virtual reality lover, a murderer, a murder victim, and more, for reasons that are never fully explained, and are visibly artificial (not only does he at one point bite some woman's fingers off and then kidnap a model without anyone acting particularly disturbed, but he is straight up killed twice and just keeps going). It's an utterly absorbing film, one that you're just going to have to let wash over you.

6. Seeking a Friend For the End of the World - Of the two "end of the world" films released in 2012, this was easily the more moving effort. Steve Carell really shows off his melancholy side in this film, completely stripping away all of the comedic trappings he is most known for as he lives trapped in his own depression as a humanity-ending meteor is three weeks away from hitting Earth. This is also a directorial debut by Lorene Scafaria, whose previous film effort was as the screenwriter for Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist. This is a much superior film, in large part due to Steve Carell and Keira Knightley being just slightly more capable of detailing depression and ennui than Michael Cera and Kat Dennings could.

5. Mirror Mirror - There were two major releases in 2012 based around the Snow White legend (and also some straight to DVD nonsense and one or two European productions that I don't recall the names of), and both of them were much better than the old Disney film. This one, directed by Tarsem Singh, is every bit as visually impressive (and more inventive) and trades the epic fantasy adventure tale for a more comedic and light-hearted effort. In that regard, I imagine that which film you prefer is going to depend on whether you'd rather watch a comedy or an adventure.

4. Men in Black 3 - I can't say I had very high hopes for this, the first Men in Black film in ten years, and the follow-up to the disastrous-yet-appropriately-named Men in Black 2. I certainly wasn't expecting this to be the best film in the series, but thanks to a loopy time travel plot and Josh Brolin doing a dead-on impersonation of a young Tommy Lee Jones, we've got both the funniest and the most surprisingly heartfelt effort director Barry Sonnenfield has yet managed.

3. Moonrise Kingdom - If this isn't my favorite Wes Anderson film, that's mainly a testament to just how damn high he's set the bar for himself. It's an effortlessly charming tale about a young boy and girl that fall in love on an island and decide to make a break for it. As with any of Anderson's films, the plot isn't as important on its own merits as it is a chance to create some weird alternate reality populated by goofy, whimsical individuals, and while that means that his movies frequently feel a lot alike, it's not something that has yet gotten old for me, nor do I expect it to anytime soon.

2. Looper - Until all of the positive reviews came out, I hadn't been planning on watching this at all, which I guess shows how much of a sucker I am for a bad ad campaign. This is one of those films that we used to get once every year or two until the rise of the superhero movie: a clever, thoughtful action-based science fiction story of the sort that we all perhaps needed a bit of a breather from after the third Matrix film. As long as you don't get hung up on the various time travel issues, this ranks up there with some of the best sci-fi action movies.

1. Cloud Atlas - Oh, and speaking of the Matrix films, here we have the Wachowskis greatest film, and at an estimated budget of $100 million, the most expensive independent movie ever made. You can largely ignore the ad campaign promising how you'll get to see how it all interconnects, because for the most part it doesn't. What it does is present us with six epic (or less than epic, a couple of them) stories from the past, present, and future, complete with the rather curious stylistic choice to have the same actors play the main roles in all six stories. Seriously, I loved just about every minute of this movie, but just try watching Hugo Weaving as a Nurse Ratched clone and tell me there's a god.

Next week: Animation!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Top Ten Action Movies of 2012

Alright, it's time for everyone's Top Ten lists for the year, but since 2012 turned out to be a pretty damn good year for films, I thought I'd change things up a bit by doing multiple lists separated by genre. And so, here we begin with my Top 10 Action Movies of 2012!

Honorable Mentions: Drive, Haywire, Deadfall

10. The Man with the Iron Fists - If you've seen the trailer, you should already have a good idea whether or not you'd like this movie. For those who haven't, it's a martial arts film directed by the RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, and it's every bit as over-the-top and ridiculous as one would expect from a martial arts film made by a rapper (and every bit as gory as one co-written by Eli Roth). It doesn't completely work, due to the script being little more than an excuse to link together a bunch of cool-looking fight scenes, and due to RZA's inexplicable decision to cast himself as the title character despite a complete inability to act, but it's still a lot of goofy fun.

9. Safe House - I went into this without any real idea of what to expect, and wound up with a pretty exciting thriller/actioner with Denzel playing the kind of smart-mouthed badass that Tom Cruise was so adorably trying for in Jack Reacher. The story is a tale of CIA corruption, which is obviously ridiculous in real life, but somehow they manage to pull it off even without Will Smith in his underwear (Enemy of the State, I'm looking at you here).

8. Coriolanus - For his directorial debut, Ralph Fiennes did what any actor-turned-director would and decided to make a war movie out of a modern retelling of an obscure Shakespeare play (obscure here meaning I've never read it). He stars as General Coriolanus, a great Roman hero, who completely despises the general citizenry and winds up causing a mass uprising against himself and gets booted out of Rome, only to swear revenge on the city that spurned him. It's energetic, bloody, and vicious enough that even those of you that hate Shakespeare should enjoy it.

7. Lawless - This would be the second film collaboration between director John Hillcoat and goth musician/writer Nick Cave, and if it's not quite as good as The Proposition, it's still a pretty damn effective effort. As with their previous effort, it's a pretty slow-paced effort, but its story (allegedly based on a true story, which is the only reason I'll accept some of the more insane things that occur in it) of Prohibition-era moonshiners trying to evade a psychopathic federal agent is pretty captivating and climaxes with one of the silliest shootouts I have ever seen.

6. The Dark Knight Rises - The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy, this suffers somewhat from a weaker script and a need to provide a satisfying trilogy conclusion first and a satisfying film second. Regardless, it manages to close out the series in a largely quality manner, giving us a new villain (Bane by Tom Hardy) that echoes back to both Heath Ledger's Joker and Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul, and brings one of the most famous Batman stories to the screen. If it wound up being the weakest of the three major superhero films this past year, well, 2012 was pretty stacked.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man - I freely admit I had little confidence in this film before it came out. That said, while I still don't really see why we needed a full reboot of Spider-Man just ten years after the first film, I honestly think this is a better debut film than Raimi's. We've had an extra decade of technological advances to make the fights scenes more realistic looking, Andrew Garfield captured both the smart-assery and the teen angst of the character better, and aside from some plot holes the writing was better across the board. The only real issue I have with the film (aside from the aforementioned plot holes) would be the villain (let's be honest, the Lizard was never one of Spider-Man's more exciting villains, however well done he is here), but even he was enough to make the film a proper romp.

4. The Avengers - I swear I didn't intentionally design the list so that all three major superheroes movies came one after another, that's just how the year turned out. Anyway, as a diehard fan of both comic books and Joss Whedon, I was really looking forward to this, and frankly I think they pulled it off with only one or two hitches (the only significant one, that the villain didn't feel like a big enough threat to justify bringing them all together, isn't really a big enough problem to drag this down, particularly when a weak or rehashed villain was a common theme through all three of the big superhero films that came out this year). I am very much looking forward to the next Avengers movie, and I cannot wait until we see Thanos just straight wrecking everyone.

3. End of Watch - This was a serious enough effort that I almost included it on the drama list, but frankly a movie about two ghetto cops that run afoul of a Mexican trafficking ring, complete with brief and brutally realistic shootouts, deserves a solid place high up the action charts (I also debated with Django Unchained before putting that in the drama list -- because obviously you all care). What really sets it apart, though, is that it really spends a good deal of time developing our two main characters (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) and, in contrast to most buddy cop movies, showing how much they actually enjoy and believe in their jobs. It's an amazing film.

2. Skyfall - And speaking of James Bond, here we have one of the best Bond films of all time. Everything clicks perfectly with this one, be it Daniel Craig continuing with his more thuggish and surly Bond incarnation, a plot that decides to make the cast into real people rather than the archetypes that they generally comprise, and a fierce and goofy villain in Javier Bardem that ranks up there with the best of his villains (and his grand debut appearance, it must be said, is quite possibly the greatest first appearance of any Bond villain ever). Craig's signed on to do two more Bond films, and while I doubt they'll be able to maintain the level of quality Sam Mendes set here, I am very eager to see them all the same.

1. The Raid: Redemption - I saw this in theaters back in April or May, and I knew then that it was going to wind up being the best action movie of the year. I can't properly do justice to just how the movie is, so let me just say that, after a brief ten minute opening, where we learn we are going to be following an Indonesian police strike force as they invade a high rise to take out one of the city's top criminal warlords, we then get a moment where the plan goes all to shit, and there's nothing left to do but CRAZY WILD MADNESS for the remaining 90 minutes! There's massive gunfights, brutal knife and machete battles, and the craziest martial arts fights since Ong Bak. In what was one of the best years for action movies of all time, this stands head and shoulders above the rest.

NEXT WEEK: Top Ten Fantasy & Science Fiction Films