First, the Good:
I saw "Unleashed"
Saturday afternoon with a friend, merely hoping that this would be Jet Li's own "Hard Target"
(my hands-down favorite Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, at least when it comes to re-watchability -- directed by John Woo, and with both Lance Henrikson and Arnold Vosloo as baddies, and Yancy Butler as the maiden in distress) -- a movie that would do justice to Jet Li's martial arts prowess and native charm and also be a well-acted and well-directed and gripping movie.
Not that I don't get a kick out of those dubbed "Fists of Fury" earlier Chinese flicks of Li's that Spike TV frequently shows on Saturday afternoons -- especially the "historical" ones with all the flying and the much greater quotient of humor (I really loved the one where Li's character's MOTHER was also a great martial artist and dressed up as a man for most of the film so she could get into trouble right alongside her son!) . . . . But, by and large, the English-language movies Jet Li has been in so far haven't been all that profound. "Romeo Must Die"
was charming and well-done, and I thoroughly enjoyed Li in it, but it was hardly profound in any lasting sense.
was really moving and even thought-provoking, and Li's performance as a man who's been so thoroughly dehumanized and abused that he's unable to feel his own pain or anyone else's was thoroughly believable. Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins were appropriately wise and humane (Freeman) and harsh and manipulative (Hoskins) as Li's two opposing mentor-father-figures. And yes, the fights were spectacular, and almost NONE of the violence seemed gratuitous. (I did think that the fight in the narrow confines of a bathroom at one point was just thrown in there for the martial arts fans who didn't come to see plot or character development, but apart from that one sequence, it all seemed pertinent and necessary.)
I highly recommend this film for anyone who's struggled to overcome their own damaged past, or who's worked with others dealing with the challenge of breaking out of the abusive but familiar cycles of their upbringing in order to make better choices in the future and recover their human dignity and ability to truly feel and grieve their pain. Plus, there are lots of cute and funny bits, centered around Li's growing relationship with Freeman and his step-daughter.Now, for the So-So:
This category includes both the final actual episode of "Star Trek: Enterprise"
last Friday night (I mean the first one, the conclusion of the Terra Prime two-parter, since the supposed
series finale was in no way, shape, or form worthy of being counted as an "Enterprise"
episode, in my opinion -- I've already mentally deleted it from the entire Star Trek
canon, right alongside the original series episode "Turnabout Intruder," a.k.a. "Captain Kirk, Space Queen") and the Sci-Fi Channel's Saturday night monster-movie-of-the-week, "The Fallen Ones"
episode made me cry, as expected, and featured some fine work by all of the cast, as well as the always watchable Peter Weller ( possible spoilers if you haven't seen the episode yet )
As for "The Fallen Ones"
, even though it had the cheesy special effects and production values we've come to expect from the Sci-Fi Channel's made-to-order monster flicks, and even though it played a bit fast and loose with the Bible (most of which didn't bother me, except for perpetuating the common, ignorant mistake of referring to the last book in the New Testament as "Revelations," when it ain't no such thing -- it is one singular "Revelation," and no one with even the research skills of a college freshman could keep on making such a mistake), I found that it had a lot more wit and humor than I'd expected (particular when it came to the supporting characters, like the guy whose stronger older sisters apparently taught him to rely on ankle-biting as his primary form of offensive fighting). Plus, Casper Van Dien is still awfully cute to watch, even if he's not up to the acting standards of such TV veterans as Tom Bosley and Robert Wagner. Between this movie and the Saturday-night premiere from a couple of months ago (the one starring two of my favorite "Xena"
alumni, Bruce Campbell and Renee O'Connor, as tongue-in-cheek future astronauts fighting giant termite oppressors of humanity), I'm almost
ready to admit that not absolutely every TV movie made for the Sci-Fi Channel sucks dead bunnies.And as for the truly Sucky . . . .
The award goes, of course, to the so-called series finale episode of "Enterprise"
last Friday. ( some episode spoilers follow, in case anyone actually cares )
'Horribly written' would be about the kindest
thing I could say about that episode.
An abomination from conception to execution with absolutely no reason to exist and a sorry waste of my last opportunity to spend time with and celebrate the crew of "Enterprise"
whom I had
, slowly, come to care about and value over the past four years -- that
would be a much more accurate description of my feelings and thoughts.
As I indicated above, I will make all haste to repress the memory of that entire episode as thoroughly as I have tried to repress the memory of "Turnabout Intruder" from the original series.
Which, in a weird way, is an indication of how much I really have come to care about "Enterprise"
, especially during this last and finest season. I can't think of any episode of "The Next Generation"
that pissed me off so much -- and NOT because there weren't a few dreadful episodes of that series that I truly despised when I saw them, but rather, because I never became as invested in that series as a whole.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for the under-dogs of the Trek
universe, and Next Gen was just too sure of itself and powerful in being, for so much of its run, the only game in town for Trek
fans, whether we always liked it or not.
Yes, "Deep Space Nine"
remains my undisputed favorite among the modern Treks, but particularly after the unmerited abuse it suffered at the end of its run, "Enterprise"
from now on will have a special place in my heart (minus the offending final episode, of course).