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)
B-/C+/B- Sound: B/C+/B- Extras: C+/C/C Films: B-/C/C
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- Nicholas Sheffo