12 March 2017

A Kung Fu James Bond Movie

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Enter The Dragon is widely hailed as one of the best kung-fu movies ever because it includes Bruce motherfucking Lee and essentially stole the basic feel of a Bond movie. The Roger Moore Bond movies are interesting because half of them pretty much just stole from whatever was popular at the time. In the case of the mid-70's that included kung-fu movies, which is why you have all of that tacked-on martial arts stuff mid-way through The Man With The Golden Gun. In case you don't remember, it's the scene in which Bond defeats a school of fighters that have been training their entire life by surprise kicking one in the head and then promptly jumping out the fucking window. The interesting thing about both Enter The Dragon and The Man With The Golden Gun is that not only are they chasing each other like a circular human-centipede consisting of two limber gymnasts, but they both basically have the same ending too. In both cases the films end with the hero fighting the main villain in a fun-house type arena which consists predominately of mirrors. I guess that kind of set provides an interesting challenge for the camera-team and keeps the actors morale up as they get to spend the day looking at themselves and mentally masturbating.

Well, without going too far into spoiler territory, it seems that John Wick: Chapter 2 has decided to brave the third act set-piece in a fun-house of mirrors and in a way, it makes perfect sense that it would. This new film follows on five days from the end of its predecessor because five days is all it takes for John Wick to recover from his near fatal wounds. I think the bullshit healthcare system in America must have had some sort of Darwinian effect in which its surviving citizens have developed almost Wolverine levels of healing powers. If you remember rightly then in the first film he was a retired hit-man who had his dog murdered and car stolen. Reasonably, his response was to empty a gun into the face of every single person that was even remotely involved in either the crime or in preventing him from reaching the culprits. By the end of that film I think we can safely assume that he'd fired so many shots that the children of every ammunitions maker in America would now be going to private school and receiving endangered animals to shoot for Christmas. Sadly for the remaining minions of the criminal underworld, Wick's car was still missing. This sequel begins with him deciding to get it back by implementing his previous strategy of killing so many people that he'd become the card to have when playing Genocide Top-Trumps.

The reason that it makes sense that this film would end up with the mirror-room smack-down is because in many ways John Wick: Chapter 2 is the perfect blend between both a kung-fu and a Bond movie. I suppose the kung-fu bit is obvious in the sense that it involves Wick killing people by spinning round them like a fucking pole dancer before kicking them in the head and then unloading a shotgun into their balls. However the Bond comparisons seemed to ramp up and up as the film went on. Firstly, I suppose one of the main joys of the film is in the exploration of the world that it's built. The first time we see Ian McShane in this movie, he's inspecting one of the hit-men coins that this society of contract killers apparently use to pay each other to do jobs with. As McShane double checked the quality of the gold in his hand, it was hard not to think that this might have been a particularly bat-shit adaptation of the later period of Lovejoy's career. However in terms of his mission-giving, chastising, and yet vaguely parental relationship with Wick, McShane is basically the M. to John's Bond. When John is forced to go back out on his murder-spree, we see him receiving his weapons and gadgets in a sequence that couldn't have been more Q-Branch had it featured the line, “Now pay-attention, you terrifying fucking bastard”.

Not only that but despite the film opening with Wick kicking seven shades of shit out of anybody that had even dared to look at his stolen car, this introduction goes pretty much nowhere. Kind of like the opening to Goldfinger goes nowhere in which Sean Connery blows something(?) up after sneaking into the location by balancing a dead seagull on his head. The Continental is the chain of hotels that seem to appear all around the world and which are basically the various MI6 bases that are located in their various mad places in the Bond movies. Oh and at the desk to McShane's Continental is Lance Reddick who always engages in some knowing banter whenever John arrives. Essentially Reddick, the man that's probably most famous for his role in the gritty crime drama The Wire, is John Wick's equivalent to Miss Moneypenny. The villain of this movie is obviously the guy who ends up putting a hit out on John, however whether he has a Bond-ian villain-style deformity is yet to be confirmed. At the end of the day, you'd only know that Scaramanga was a triple-nipple if he took his shirt off. The villain of this film might not have an obvious Blofeld-like scar down his face however perhaps he secretly has an extra-bollock or a haircut-hidden anus in the back of his head? Until I see that there is no hydra-like multi-cock in his pants then I don't think it can be ruled out as a possibility.

Without giving too much away, the ending of this film also seems to echo both a Bond film and one of Nolan's Dark Knight movies. I won't name both for fear of delving into spoilers, but it's worth noting that even Nolan's Batman movies lovingly stole pretty liberally from Bond. Not that anybody can complain however because Bond himself has been stealing the dignity of slightly below average intelligence foreign women for decades. However to suggest that Kung-Fu and Bond are the only influence on this film would be unfair. As if an extended Predators-esque mad-bastard cameo from Laurence Fishburne wasn't blatant enough, there's obviously a few nods towards The Matrix of which director Chad Stahelski previously worked as a stunt co-ordinator. Both this film and The Matrix also borrowed from the Westerns of Sergio Leone with John Wick: Chapter 2 even opening with a fresh punchline to a scene from a Buster Keaton film. As the film races towards its conclusion and we see quite how extensive this hit-man world really is, we also start to get echoes of the 1970's paranoia thrillers such as The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. I have no idea how you get started as a hired assassin, although considering how much of a fucking growth industry this movie depicts it as, I think I'll be looking the fuck into it.

However regardless of the movie's cineliteracy, if the film itself isn't any good then I guess that all counts for diddly-shit. As a die hard fan of the first movie, I have to admit that I fucking loved this one too. Its expansion of the world is equal in scope to how Berendal broadened the canvas of The Raid, and as such, it became another film to make us wonder how brilliant a Dredd sequel would have been. On top of the fucking insanity of the movie however, the key thing that makes it what it is is clearly the genius of Keanu Reaves. Sure, people can slag off his acting, and I'm more than happy to meet them for a fist fight about that at literally any fucking time of day they like. Pricks. His ability to do action though is a thing to behold, with the kindly real-life Buddhist being one of the finest action stars to work in American films. I heard him saying in an interview that he wanted to work as hard as he could because his body was the only thing that could hold back the imagination of the film's ex-stuntman director. I then heard that director talking about how the average person will spend a day at a shooting range and get through about 200-300 rounds whereas when training Reeves was getting through 1500-2000. Although in honesty, I probably get through that many rounds when I go to the range due to work too. Unlike Reeves however, it's not because I love my boss...

Reeves' ability to kill an entire room of people before the first body has even hit the floor more than shows on screen, and I certainly look forward to seeing him murder more of his colleagues in future instalments. In fact, in the way that Enter The Dragon and The Man With The Golden Gun were essentially chasing each others' tail, a similar loop as happened here too. As Roger Moore's Bond in particular spent more time shagging than killing, there's no doubt that the world must be populated with hundreds of his illegitimate children. The John Wick franchise might be fairly new to the world but the main character seems pretty intent on balancing the books by solving the resulting over-population crisis in the only way some Americans know how. In the first film, Wick shouted, “Yeah, I'm thinking I'm back”. This time he says, “You wanted me back.. I'm back!”. Well, John Wick: Chapter 2 might have only just dropped and I'm dying to see his return for the third in a trilogy. To completely misquote Laurence Fishburne as he screams his lines like a man that's realised he can never out-ridiculous the film he's in, “would somebody please get this man another sequel”. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.