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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Biopic > Biography > Thriller > Mental Telepathy > Terrorism > Ip Man 2: Legend Of The Grandmaster (2009/Well Go USA Blu-ray) + Speed Of Thought (2010/Maya DVD) + Vanquisher (2009/MagNet/Magnolia Blu-ray)

Ip Man 2: Legend Of The Grandmaster (2009/Well Go USA Blu-ray) + Speed Of Thought (2010/Maya DVD) + Vanquisher (2009/MagNet/Magnolia Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B-/C+/B-     Sound: B/C+/B-     Extras: C+/C/C     Films: B-/C/C

 

 

Action films have tried to seem smarter, different and/or somehow better by adding the idea of the workings of the mind.  This is often the case with Martial Arts and Telepathy thrillers, but it does not mean the films will be better and most of the lot (especially since the 1980s) have just been outright dumb and pretentious.  Here are three films that show what I mean.

 

Yip Wai-Shun’s Ip Man 2: Legend Of The Grandmaster (2009) is the sequel to Ip Man, a well received genre piece I found to be a bit overrated, as this review of its Blu-ray will bear out:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10140/Ip+Man+(2008/Well+Go+USA+Blu-ra

 

However, this is a rare sequel where it offers more than the original, flows better, makes more sense and can more than stand alone without its predecessor.  This continuing tale of the dawn of mixed martial arts, telling a richer story with some interesting moments including Sammo Hung in a bizarre boxing match, a look into places most films in the genre have not gone and how Master Ip (Donnie Yen) first becomes the teacher of Bruce Lee.

 

This could have been corny or phony, but it is not, though neither was its more limited predecessor.  For once, we get a Martial Arts film that takes itself and its audience seriously and works.

 

Nick Stahl lands up being a prime mover in Evan Oppenheimer’s Speed Of Thought (2010) about telepathic people caught up in a wacky government plot.  He can enter other people’s minds more easily than most of his kind, known as scopers, but the film turns into a silly romance that never works.  On the other side, the minimalized thriller aspect plays second fiddle to Inception and the Matrix films, leaving the rest feeling like Scanners-lite.  That’s a shame, because Stahl can handle the action genre, but the ambitions of the story never gel and it lands up being a disappointment.  Taryn Manning, Mia Maestro, Blair Brown and Wallace Shawn are not bad in supporting roles, making this more watchable than it might have been otherwise.

 

That leaves us with Manop Udomdej’s Vanquisher (2009), a release more typical of the Martial Arts genre with slick editing, over-choreographed fight scenes that ring phony (especially when people defy gravity) and everything we’ve seen hundreds of times down to the female fighter who can fight.  In this one, a special ops agent joins a CIA agent to go after Al-Qaeda, both females fighting a woman-hating organization and then they meet again two years later, but suspending disbelief goes out the window no matter how appealing the actors (like lead Sophia Saiban) or locales might be.  The story arc is also faulty.

 

However, some sequences work and I liked the look at times, but this was not enough to make this work, so this is for diehard fans only at best.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Man and Vanquisher are about even using some overstyling typical of the genre, but that holds back playback performance in both cases.  Still, there are some nice shots and the better color shots have their moments.  The 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced image on Thought is softer than usual in many shots due to dream sequences and other styling to communicate state of minds doings.  Regular reality shots have their own more typical detail limits.

 

Both Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that have their surround moments per the genre, but Man offers a much better recording and soundfield overall, including better dialogue recording and nothing is too much towards the center as it can be on Vanquisher.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Thought is more dialogue-based than expected cutting into the potential of the soundfield, but the recording is not bad overall.

 

Extras on all three releases include Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes, with Man having two of them, adding Trailers, Interviews, Shooting Diary and Deleted Scenes.  Thought adds Bloopers and Deleted & Extended Scenes, while Vanquisher also includes an International Trailer.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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