Saturday, 7 June 2014

Poundland DVD film extravaganza! - "Manborg" (2011) & "$hopping" (1994)

Well, today (Saturday 7th June) has been nothing more than a miserable wet boring day, a bit like a sunday really.
So, to relieve the tedium and try to resist the urge to blow my brains out, I decided to watch a couple of DVDs I bought the other day from Poundland.

Yes, yes I know, Poundland isn't the most respected place in the world, but on the odd occasion, amongst the cheapo plastic bits of tat and low quality clothing imported from far eastern sweatshops they do occasionally have something half decent, which more often than not ends up being either some sort of food item, or something which was previously expensive but somehow ended up being bought in bulk during a liquidation sale or something.

Todays purchases are, as per the title of this scribbling, 2 DVD films entitled "Manborg" and "Shopping".

Manborg (2011 - Astron-6 Films)

A little reading up on this film shows that production began in 2009 and completed in 2010, finally being released after nearly 2 years worth of post production. Astron-6 is a low, low, low budget film studio that specialises in sci-fi/comedy/horror type films, all starring people you have never heard of, sort of like Asylum films, except with a much lower budget.
Speaking of budgets, this film was made with a budget of approximately $1000 Canadian dollars (thats roughly £550) , but, we cant hold that against them.
What attracted me to this film was its tagline, which is prominently displayed on the box in big letters "NAZI DEMON UPRISING" ........ "hmmm", thought I, "now if thats not worth a quid, I dunno what is".

I wasnt disappointed either.

From the minute you press "play", you are treated to about 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated silliness, with nazi demon creatures fighting stereotyped human heroes in a bizarre futuristic landscape (all of which is achieved via an excessive but somehow strangely satisfying use of green screen filming techniques). The storyline, or at least what there is of it, is fairly coherent and does just enough so you know whats going on, but doesn't bog your viewing experience down with to much boring exposition, after all, at heart, this film is an action movie.
There's a lot of humour in there, although said humour has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and relies mainly on one liners, visual gags and comic book esque situation comedy pieces which will leave you with a slight grin at the least and/or a groan followed by a *face/palm* at the most, but trust me, you'll enjoy doing it.

Action scenes take place within a bizarre hybrid world of 80s-esque action movie sequences and anime inspired martial arts fighting as the heroes machine gun, karate chop, stab and flying kick their way through hordes of stop motion created monsters, culminating in a final "Mortal Kombat" esque battle to the death with the main bad guy of the film, "Count Draculon".

Seriously, this film is well worth the quid, trust me, its a nice bit of sci-fi cheese that although its visuals aren't as slick as Hollywood, or even Bollywood, efforts (it pretty much watches like every homebrew fan film you've seen on youtube) but it more than makes up for it with its heart and its ability to effectively make a film in 1980s Hollywood action film style without being too pretentious or just downright bad.


Shopping (1994 - Film 4 international)

Remember back in the mid to late 90s when the British film industry finally started making films that werent shite for the first time in nearly 20 years?, classics such as "Trainspotting", "Shallow Grave" et al?, well "Shopping" was one of the early ones that no one really remembers.
Starring Jude Law in his first major starring role, along with his future wife Sadie Frost, "Shopping" is one of those films which lets the audience know that being a theiving toerag is glamourous and awesome.
At the time the film was made, the British film industry couldn't make a film without making some mention of criminal activities, Shopping is no different, as it focuses on a group of teenagers who enjoy nothing better than stealing cars, driving them around at high speed before ramming them into shops and stealing anything their little mitts can grab before the rozzers turn up and give them a stern talking to with their bushy moustaches.
For its time, its subject matter was quite relevant, on the one hand, the rise in youth crime was becoming concerning, and the phenomena of "ram raiding" was a particular favourite way for ne'er do wells to get their hands on phat lewt without having to make too much of an effort (today, ram raiding is almost unheard of, due to the fact that most shop keepers and insurance companies found that simply by installing roller shutters and concrete bollards in front of shop doorways and windows, it would prevent scrotes from ramming them down)

So, right at the beginning the film lets you know it fits into the "gritty urban drama" catagory by having the opening credits show you a series of helicopter shots of various industiral factories and such pumping out flames and smoke and so on, all to the background score of some early 90s dance music, we then get introduced to the main character, Billy (Jude Law) who is being released from prison after a 3 month stint for car theft by the local chief inspector (Jonathan Pryce), he thumbs his nose at the establishment by saying the only thing he has learned in prison is not to get caught.
He quickly falls back in to his old habits and goes back to thieving cars so he can drive around various decaying locations in urban London (albeit they tried to disguise said locations to make them appear "generic") whilst spouting 90s youth related expletives such as "booyaka" and so on.
Billys friends are all stereotypes of what film directors though the "disaffected youth" of the 90s were, whom he meets up with in a smoky backstreet to the sound of thumping drum and bass while some other characters spout car engine characteristics the script required them to memorise so you can understand that all these kids care about is living fast and dying young etc etc etc.
Billy and his mates, sorry, "m8s", soon run afoul of the local 10 bob gangsta (a very young looking Sean Pertwee) who is trying to break into the big time by doing jobs for a much more organised and slick mobster (Sean Bean) culminating in Billy planning a big heist by knocking over a massive swanky shopping centre, however this scheme goes awry when it turns out that Billy and his mates have been dobbed in to the police, and find a load of rozzers waiting for them when they try and break in to get their lewt.

Throughout the film, Billy is somewhat childishly obsessed with making a name for himself amongst the ghetto kids by doing feats of daring do and pissing off the local police, even though at numerous points he is offered the opportunity to leave all of it behind and move on, he chooses not to, and the film ends with him and his girly companion laid in the wreck of a car after he tried to prove how much more badass he was than the police.
The character of Billy is somewhat believable, given the context of the film and the time when it was made, but Jude Law manages to make the character proper out of place due to the fact that the urban hero that is Billy speaks in BBC english while everyone around him speaks in ghetto innit.

While this is still a good film, it is chock full of proper dodgy cliches, over exaggerations and stunted awkward dialogue that was very obviously written by someone who had very little clue about "da yoof" were up to in those days, much less any idea about how "gangstas" work.

still, not that bad, but not that good either.


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