NJAFBIT: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li


Well folks, you certainly don't need me to tell you that 2009 is looking grim. But what you might not know is that it's looking awfully grim in the movie world as well. Even after we endure the annual pre-Oscar famine currently plaguing multiplexes, the horizon still looks dreadfully bleak. So bleak, in fact, that there is not a single movie currently announced that I can get excited about until May 29th (Pixar's Up). But hey, what's this... a Street Fighter movie..?!?

Chances are you forgot about 1994's original Street Fighter, perhaps as an act of self-mercy. To refresh your memory, it featured Raul Julia and JCVD hamming it up in what turned out to be the first ripple of water in a tidal wave of crappy retro video game-turned-movie cash grabs. This time, Michael Clarke-Duncan leads a cast of nobodies, including Hinsdale's own Chris Klein (not heard from since his sparkling lead turn in Rollerball,) who has amazingly not yet commited suicide even after his fiancee dumped him and briskly went on to spawn the demonseed of Tom Cruise.
Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, who was actually the DOP on a few semi-prestigious pictures, made the leap to directing about ten years ago and promptly fell into a ditch, first directing that legendary thespian DMX three times (THREE TIMES) and then moving up the ladder to guide The Rock through another ten-years-too-late video game adaptation (Doom.)

But, let's keep things in perspective. We beggars must not be too choosy. It's gonna be desperately slim pickings for a couple months, kiddos. We've got a couple groan-worthy horror remakes, a massive heap of lame looking at best comedies, and.. this. Sadly, horribly, we might actually end up seeing this. Will it suck? Oh yes, it will suck (not a good sign: the film's "blog" has not been updated since June..) But hey, if it sucks in a good way, then at least we know we can look forward to the super-secret He-Man and Voltron adaptations that are supposedly being penned as we speak by the same writer.. (GULP)

The ultimate test of "so bad it's good."

RELEASE DATE: February 27th


My Year at the Movies: 2007

Yes, you read that right. I have decided to do my "Year in Reviews" one year late. I find that a year of hindsight affords films some much deserved time to age, settle in in your brain and be reflected on with the benefit of hindsight. So, without further ado, in five sentences or less each and in chronological order, my take on 2007 at the movies.

Pursuit of Happyness

Grade: C+

A feel good story. I remember being impressed with his son's performance. Other than that, I draw a blank.

Children of Men

Grade: A+

I was floored by this in the theater. Amazing action, design and vibe. It has held up well on repeat viewings. It's like Spielberg but with a very artful touch. Perhaps not an 'important' movie but about as good as one can be without any super-serious pretensions.


Grade: A

My first Almodovar in the theater. Penelope Cruz is so vibrant and so sexy. So fun to watch. I could watch this right now.

Inland Empire

Grade: A+

Best movie experience of the year, and the best film that I saw. Showed at the Music Box Theater, with introduction and Q & A by David Lynch. Favorite moment- Q: "What is it about?" A: "It's on the poster." Read my review HERE.

Pan's Labyrinth

Grade: A-

Thoroughly enjoyable, and Del Toro's best yet. The night I went to see this, I was dealing with some serious bad news. A nice way to take my mind off. Maybe not the pitch-perfect masterpiece is was made out to be, but very strong and very successful nonetheless.

El Topo

Grade: A

Another night at the Music Box. Brilliant and bizarre. I'm convinced Jodorowsky is just a lunatic, and this film means nothing, but it is so damn fun to watch.


Grade: B++ (edit: A+)

Much like There Will Be Blood, this was a film whose greatness crept up on me. Fincher is building quite a body of work these days, and here he crafts another truly great crime movie.


Grade: B- (Planet Terror/Trailers B+/A, Death Proof D)

A sadly failed experiment by capable filmmakers. At the time, I enjoyed Planet Terror quite a bit, and hated Death Proof. Now, I couldn't tell you one thing that happens in Planet Terror, but I do remember the chase 'scene' (if you can call 45 minutes a scene..) in Death Proof. Call it a wash, I guess.

Drawing Restraint 9

Grade: A+

Indescribable and wonderful. Bjork and Matthew Barney on a creepy whaling ship, engaging in some strange rituals. Underwater seashell flesh carving, anyone? Yes, please. I understand his motivations, but it's a travesty that these are not available on video.

Hot Fuzz

Grade: A-

Hilarious. Major Wicker Man vibe was off-putting at first, but it works. Maybe not as great as Shaun of the Dead. But what is?

Rescue Dawn

Grade: B+(!)

A superfluous film, but a good superfluous film. Herzog, sadly, announces the twilight phase of his career. I'm over it, and he's gone on to better (and also much worse) things.

Killer of Sheep

Grade: A+

Music Box again. This time in the little room. This release will surely realign this film's place in history, as it should. Need to check out more Burnett.


Grade: A-

Pixar continues their unparalleled run of absolute greatness. Patton Oswald makes some real money. The world rejoices. People get tired of saying "Pixar has topped themselves." They would officially give up in 2008 thanks to a movie about a robot.

30 Days of Night

Grade: D

Great idea for a horror movie. Worst execution imaginable. Danny Huston is sadly reduced to playing a brooding blood-sucker with a fake accent in a trendy eurotrash suit. Then they lock him up in the local jail. Such total crap. How sad.

The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D

Grade :o)

$15 well spent. Obviously, the movie is a legend. The 3D was impressive and really cool. This could become a fun technology. Any reason to get the kiddies to actually care about what is on the screen is good enough for me. (Now, Coraline, please don't let me down.)

The Darjeeling Limited

Grade: A+

Thank you, Wes Anderson. In a world where filmmakers let you down again and again (M. Night Shamalan,) you stay true. I will defend you to the end.

Across the Universe

Grade: B

I don't know. Maybe I expected too much. But Moulin Rouge it ain't. Eddie Izzard provides some of the year's strangest on-screen mugging. See my review HERE.

"Blade Runner: Final Cut" A,

My first digitally projected film (at Muvico Rosemont,) and WOW. Particularly for a film released in 1982. Eye-popping.

"Curse of the Demon" A

Jacque Tourneur's neglected monster movie. Showed at Gene Siskel, with introduction and afterword by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Worthy of the Lewtons, if maybe just barely.

2008 advance preview:

Looking back on my year at the movies in 2007, I would have to say unequivocally that 2008's offerings were superior in every way (in point of fact, however, I saw two films technically released in 2007 second-run in 2008.) Hope you got to the theater in 2008, folks. With things being the way they are in the world, 2009 could be some seriously rough sailing. But, if there ever was a recession-proof business, it's the movies. Here's hoping we get some good efforts in theaters to take our mind off things. Suddenly, $9.50 a ticket doesn't sound so bad.




Full Reviews -
Long-form reviews of films.

Log -
Screening Log. Short (often very short) reviews.

Stands for "Never Judge a Flick By It's Trailer." A lousy acronym. I could spell it out, but that might be even lousier. These are reviews of trailers, and musings upcoming films.

My Year at the Movies -
Annual rundown of the films I saw "last year." Meaning, one year ago (i.e., I wrote about my year at the movies in 2008 at the end of 2009.) I do this because I find that a year of hindsight makes all the difference in the world in assessing movies. And because I think it's funny.

Idiot Ego -
Reviews which were written for the (now sadly defunct) Elgin-area Music & Arts 'zine Idiot Ego. The captain of that ship was Mr. Jim Miller, who is now occuiped in other, equally worthwhile pursuits. (SEE: Cassette Deck Media.)

DVD reviews. I think there is only one. Maybe there will be more?

Essays -
Other stuff, usually long-form, that pertains to movies.

On Second Thought -
Re-reviews of films I did not initially like upon their release. Only a couple here as well, but I like this idea, so hopefully more will follow.


7-7-7 -
This was meant to be the chronicle of a seven day straight movie marathon I did in December '09. It's not finished yet. Hopefully it will be. For better or worse.

Screen Shots -
Actually photographs (from my iPhone 3GS,) of movie screens. Lame? I don't know. It seemed like a good idea at the time. However, I am always leery of holding up a camera in a movie theater. Don't need to go to prison.