1997 Movie Review: SUICIDE KINGS, 1997

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SUICIDE KINGS, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Peter O’Fallon
Starring: Christopher Walken, Denis Leary, Jay Mohr, Henry Thomas, Sean Patrick Flanery
Review by Melissa Mendelson 

SYNOPSIS:

A group of youngsters kidnap a respected Mafia figure.

 

REVIEW:The cards are dealt. Aces are high, and Jokers are wild. Play your hand. Check your opponents. The game continues, and you’re on a roll. But moments later, you’re about to take a fall, and you have to make it through the game with only the cards that you hold. And the wheel of fate spins, and where it stops nobody knows. And you play, hoping your bluff isn’t called, but the game has reached its end.

You think you know life, but never doubt its poker face. The best of friends may have the worst intentions, and your worst enemy may turn into your savior. And if you fold all the time, you may become a puppet on a string, but if you bluff too many times, well, a spade will be called a spade. And Life continues to deal out the cards that you now hold in your hand, and nothing is what it seems. So, do you fold once more, or do you bluff, hoping nobody will see through your façade? And will you be ready for the next turn of events?

What are Suicide Kings? Are they men united, tin soldiers ready to fight for what they believe in? Are they pawns in the hands of another, paper dolls walking a thin wire? Do they know the company that they keep, and do they play their game? And if they must sacrifice to save a life, does that make them a Suicide King?

The game begins, and the enemy captured sets the plan into action. The stakes are high, and the dice is rolled. And a web of lies and betrayal hangs overhead, and the tension is digging in deep. And the life to save is the fuel marching those forward into a deadly, intricate plot, and life deals out another hand. And fate waits its turn to play.

In the movie, Suicide Kings, a close knit of friends risks all in a high stakes game to save a life. Drifting across a razor’s edge, they focus on their plan and the players, and their plot begins to unfold. And everything seems to go smoothly, but despite the cards that they hold in their hand, their captive may have a few aces up his own sleeve. And he is ready to raise the bar and push them to their limits, and their bluffs will be called. And when the dust settles, all bets are off.

The story of love is never-ending, and a love like Romeo and Juliet’s echoes deep within this dark tale. Would you risk all to be with the one you love? Would you lay your life on the line to save theirs? Loyalties are put to the test, confrontations fierce, and the bonds of friendship will be played against the games of the heart. But in the end, does love win, or will it destroy?

Suicide Kings is a rich cinematic treasure reflecting movies such as The Game, Usual Suspects, Unknown, and L.A. Confidential. Suspense and drama intensify the storyline, and the intensity continues to rise straight toward an ending that you will never see coming. A blend of talent and charisma from dedicated actors ignites the characters to life. The bonds of friendship are put to the ultimate test, and the act of betrayal is delivered as sharp as razor’s edge. And from the beginning to the end, we are held captive, taking a walk “on the dark side of the moon,” and watching as the cards fall. And Aces are high, Jokers dance, and Suicide Kings are wild.This film won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five other categories. The screenwriter was nominated, and rightly so. Taken from a short story that first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 by Maurice Walsh, Green Rushes, Frank Nugent was able to weave a story rich in subtext and conflict.

The collector’s edition of the DVD includes an interview with Maureen O’Hara where she reminisces about filming The Quiet Man, and is well worth watching.

 

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Movie Review: THE JUNGLE BOOK. Directed by Jon Favreau

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the_jungle_bookTHE JUNGLE BOOK (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling

Review by Gilbert Seah

Favreau has proven himself a talented director of films as diverse as the action flicks IRONMAN and IRONMAN 2, comedy dramas as MADE and the drama CHEF. Tackling Disney animation is a totally different ball game with Favreau succeeding within limits. But he follows formulaic conventions occasionally going back to what works in the original animated JUNGLE BOOK like the familiar songs re-used in this version.

The 1969 animated version is the most loved of all the Kipling adaptations. Who can forget the cute bear Baloo (Phil Harris) dancing and singing “The Bare Necessities” with Mowgli? Or Sebastian Cabot’s voice of the Panther? So Favreau has tough shoes to follow.

The film opens with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) running with a pack of wolves. It appears he is running from them, but the audience can likely guess that he is running with them. Mowgli, abandoned as a baby and found by a panther (Ben Kingsley) is raised by wolves. But Shere Khan, the tiger (Idris Elba) wants the boy killed as the tiger is afraid of the destruction of man. The panther takes Mowgli on a journey to find the man camp where Mowgli can live away from fear of the tiger. Mowgli meets an assortment of different characters like King Louie, a giant oranghutan (Christopher Walken), Baloo the bear (Bill Murray) and Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) a python before confronting Khan.

THE JUNGLE BOOK has quite the few violent scenes that will give the littler ones nightmares. These include buffalos toppling off a cliff from a mudslide and a fierce battle between a tiger and bear.

CGI has come a long way. One cannot tell the difference between real animals and computer generated animals. To Favreau’s credit, his film looks fantastic and his hard work of filming just one actor, Sethi against a giant green blank screen pays off. The film uses the Simulcam technology (also used in James Cameron’s AVATAR) that allows Favreau to look into a monitor and in real time, see Sethi interacting with the CGI animals.

The question finally arises as to whether this new 3D live-action animation of THE JUGLE BOOK is necessary. The film ends with the real life figures of Mowgli and Baloo morphing into caricatures in the Rudyard Kipling’s book. This only serves to enforce the fact that the animated version is the best type of adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling’s classic story.

Walt Disney passed away during the production of 1969’s JUNGLE BOOK. The original writer and songwriter were replaced as the film was thought initially too serious for the family. What resulted are songs by the famous Sherman Brothers (MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and the the totally delightful animated version everyone is familiar with. Favreau’s version is, in comparison all over the place, at times cutesy, then too serious and violent and then adventurous. The Disneyworld documentaries have so far done so-so at the box-office. And Disney’s recent THE GOOD DINOSAUR with a similar theme involving animals and a journey was a disappointing flop. THE JUNGLE BOOK might just follow suit, doing either so-so business or flopping at the box-office.

 

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Happy Birthday: Christopher Walken

christopherwalken.jpgHappy Birthday Christopher Walken

Born: Ronald Walken
March 31, 1943 in Queens, New York City, New York, USA

See reviews of their best work:

THE DEER HUNTERThe Deer Hunter
1978
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Meryl Streep

SwingersHeaven’s Gate
1980
dir. by Michael Cimino
starring
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Walken

A VIEW TO A KILLA View to a Kill
1985
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Walken

THE DEAD ZONEThe Dead Zone
1983
dir. David Cronenberg
Starring
Christopher Walken
Brooke Adams

BATMAN RETURNSBatman Returns
1992
dir. Tim Burton
starring
Pfeiffer
Danny DeVito

PulpFictionPulp Fiction
1994
dir. Tarantino
starring
John Travolta
Samuel L. Jackson

SUICIDE KINGSSuicide Kings
1997
dir. Peter O’Fallon
starring
Christopher Walken
Denis Leary

SLEEPY HOLLOWSleepy Hollow
1999
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Starring
Johnny Depp
Christina Ricci

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2007
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MOVIE POSTERTHE DEAD ZONE
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