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Routine (2020) Movie Review © 2021 Dan's Movie Report - Danny Templegod

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Routine (2020) Movie Review © 2021 Dan's Movie Report - Danny Templegod

 

Above Image: 'Routine Poster'

© 2020 Russem Productions, all rights reserved. Image used for promotional purposes only

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report and Action-Flix readers, across my desk today comes the newest short film from Russ Emanuel called 'Routine'. The short is meant as a prequel to a feature length film. Russ is a world builder and a visionary in independent film making. 'Routine' has the makings of perhaps something more than a stand alone movie, maybe even a Netflix series.


As far as the synopsis: During a mysterious pandemic, Cassie's quarantine life has turned into a routine, day in and day out. Nothing new seems to happen, until she realizes she's out of coffee. And she's determined to get her cup of joe, even if she must face the horrors of the outside world. Because "she'd kill for a cup of coffee."


The film follows a young lady named Cassie and her life during the pandemic. I must say actress Paige Laree Poucel embodies confidence and she gets ready to face the day, gun in hand. The 4 and a half minute short, is merely a set up of things. She has a cool personality and seemingly is prepared to take on any challenges. I think that Paige is ready to breakout and establish herself.


The movie is well staged from a behind the scenes standpoint. The lighting, sound, music and camera work allow for the viewer to be placed in the moment. A very cool comic book style closing sequence shows an eye to detail, and allows viewers to imagine what is to come. Russ Emanuel and his Russem Productions are producing and Russ is directing. Writer Emile Haris has an slow burn feel, allowing the viewers to watch events unfold rather than throw them in our faces.


The cleverness and world of possibilities make for an intriguing blast of action to come. Watch for a feature length film from Russ coming in 2022 called 'Staycation' Overall, I enjoyed this short, and await the feature and beyond, 'Routine' rates a strong 7.5 out of 10.


For all things Russem Productions, please visit Routine Facebook Page, Official Production Page, and IMDB.


'Routine' Facebook Page: https://business.facebook.com/routinethemovie/

Official Russem Page: http://russem.com/index2.html

IMDB Page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12385422/


Friday, April 16, 2021

Vixen (2018) Movie Review © 2021 Dan's Movie Report - Danny Templegod (Rest in Peace Max Repossi)

 

Above: Vixen Poster all fights reserved, Tri-Coast Pictures (C) 2018, Image used for promotional purposes only

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report, Action-Flix, and The Action Elite readers. It is with a heavy heart I mention the passing of Max Repossi. To honor his short but memorable 33 years on Earth, I purchased his 2018 film called 'Vixen'. Producer Bey Logan told me what an amazing man he was, full of life and energy, he said “I still am processing what is happening”. 'Vixen' is an take on the Die Hard series of films with one single person, in this case a single female Chinese police woman. Actress Lie-ri Chen plays Lee, her small slight frame is a dichotomy to the guile and power she possess. Like S.S. on 'Under Siege', or John McClane in 'Die Hard', she has to navigate the halls of a huge structure in search of the terrorists that kidnap leaders!


The formula still works, now with many films choosing to go the car chase and such, the entire movie stays in the building thus adding to the tension. The action is really well planned, some parts are pensive some full on crazy. There is a mixture of guns and fights so the flow is smooth.


Above Max Repossi in a cool stance! All rights reserved to photographer image for promotional use only.


Director Ross W. Clarkson and writer Bey Logan craft an entertaining 88 minute film devoid of filler, rising above the more typical girls with guns standard. Max Repossi plays a dual character which you have to see, no spoilers. Once again his dialogue, though dubbed, and acting are crisp and clean. Max is also an assistant stunt coordinator on the film along with Bruce Zhang Watch for a cameo from Bey Logan as well!


Special mention goes to camera operator Guo-Ping Zhong and cinematographer Ross W. Clarkson the film is shot in a clean environment the fights are easy to make out, no crazy shaky cam, and the actors are well framed in the scenes.


Creativity points are gained on the unique ways Lee disposes of the terrorists, plus she also takes damage, so pain is shown, you know haha, kind of like a real fight! The acting is decent and no weak people dragging the film down, everyone seems ready for a tussle! David Johnson Wood plays the main Mercenary Commander, he is a bad guy and he makes sure the viewers realize this!


The entire production crew worked hard for the result:

Cathy Du

...

supervising producer

Bey Logan

...

producer

James Nan

...

producer

Elizabeth Yang

...

executive producer

He Zhi

...

producer


Overall I rate the film a must watch, 7.5 out of 10. It is currently now on IMDB Movies as a FREE selection, or like I did you can purchase or rent the film on Vimeo! The release is from Shanghai Pictures and The Chinese Movie Channel


IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/tv/watch/tt8392146?ref_=tt_wbr_fdv


Vimeo: Tri-Coast Pictures: https://vimeo.com/295462850


Finally, take a few moments to celebrate Max's life and watch his last acting reel : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoReWFW9RIk


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Director Hicham Hajji Interview © 2021 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 


 

Greetings valued Dan's Movie report and Action-Flix.com readers. I had the opportunity to watch a very cool movie called 'Redemption Day'. I wanted to know more so I sat down and chatted with Producer/Writer/Director Hicham Hajji . He chats about getting the film together and various inside stories behind the production. Let us take a trip to Morocco and enjoy the ride with Hicham.


Chat about how the idea for the plot of Redemption day materialized, did you do some research on archaeological sites? In my review, which I have also attached, I stress that much of this film, though fictionalized is plausible, I am curious if you have seen or heard accounts of things like this happening?


Thanks for taking the time to watch the movie, and I’m really happy you enjoyed it

I had the idea to write this script when my high school friend was killed during a terrorist attack in Burkina Fasso while she was sitting on a bar with her crew during a mission for Amnesty International. I wanted to write a movie where I show the point of view of our part of the world.


During the writing process, there was this interesting discovery in Morocco of the 315k human bones and everyone was talking about this. I thought it was very interesting and that would have been a great excuse to bring the Kate character in Morocco, and of course we did many research and wanted to add real life events in the movie.

 


 


I saw that you also are listed as one of the film's producers, I am curious with regards to the casting process, how much were you involved, and were the parts write specifically for the actors involved?


I’m the main producer behind the movie, and therefore I was the only one involved on the casting. I was very fortunate to have an amazing casting director by my side, Nancy Foy, with whom I’ve been working in close collaboration for almost a year until she was convinced with the script and my abilities to put that on screen.

Once we got the actors, I had to adapt the script in consideration and give the actors a more attractive parts, almost like a customized script

 


 


I really enjoy the work of Serinda Swan, chat about her audition and perhaps what ideas about her character she brought in.


After we made the offer to Serinda, she liked the script and we had a long conversation where she wanted to know everything about my vision about the cinematography, the light, the characters. She understood her character immediately, and created a back story between her and her husband that made her character very credible and intense.


Did you have time with the cast for table reads, for them to get familiar with each other?


Unfortunately, not. I was in preparation in Morocco when they started to arrive. I had the chance to have Gary Dourdan two weeks before the shoot to train with arms and his fight choreography. We spent a lot of time together and it created a friendship or even a brotherhood that created a trust between him and I that helped me a lot directing him.

 


 


Chat about working with legend Andy Garcia, I am curious if his part was written for him, and what ideas he brought to his character.


A Legend. That’s the exact right word. I couldn’t believe myself when his agent said he agreed to play the part. He came in the middle of the shoot, as humble as a human can be. As a first-time director, I thought he’ll be telling me what I should do etc… but he’s always been this respectful actor asking for the director’s direction, and he was talking to me like any other director he was working with. Very respectful, humble and of course he was thinking about his character and making him more interesting that what we had in the paper.



Chat about Serinda and Gary's relationship in the film, felt so natural, did you have ideas how you wanted them to interact, or did they bring character ideas to you or a combination of both, if they brought things in, please let my readers know what ideas they shared about their characters.


It was a combination of both. They had great ideas creating their back story. Sometimes they wanted to do more, like during the opening scene where I had my vision and wanted to be straight to the point without a theatral drama, but 99% of the time they were perfect, and they knew exactly how to interact and how to be a natural husband and wife.

 


 


With regards to directing, are you a specific detail oriented guy who likes to lay out everything, or do you thrive on the actors hired to bring ideas to the table?


Well, we have a script that I’ve been spending years to write and make it as best as I could, but even though I believed in my script, I was always open for good ideas. I’m the type of guy who’d listen to my grip, for example, if he’d tell me “look, this shot would be better if the camera is on tracks” or to my DP if he said “I’d prefer to shoot this in a different time” or to my actors if they propose me a better dialogues that feel more natural and interesting and even adding additional information that I didn’t have in the script. So I definitely listen, reject what I don’t like and keep what is good.


I noticed that two other writers are listed in the IMDB credits for the film, I am curious how their involvement was, I have seen the movie, is there parts of the film they adjusted or added to it, or did all three of you collaborate in entirety?


I came up with the idea to write this feature and wrote a treatment. I then hired Samy Chouia to help me write a first draft, since English is not my first language I needed someone who can use better worlds and develop the characters. I was constantly reading his drafts and sending pages and pages of notes until he came back to me with the best version. After 8 or 9 drafts, I decided to hire a new writer, Lemore Syvan, to bring fresh ideas and a new vision. I did with her similar work that with Samy. She was proposing some solutions, I’d read what she sent me, send pages of notes until I see it is going my direction and that I had the version I wanted. After several versions, I saw I could take it from there and I then was working on editing the script, adding new dialogues, new characters and been working on the script until the last day of shoot.


Chat about the action, I felt it was more gritty and realistic, were you ever pressured by other EP or studio to add some more like stylized and explosions? Did you use military consultants for the flashback action?


It was very realistic because it was real! We had real guns with blank bullets, we did real explosions, and since we were mostly shooting the action scenes at night, it felt pretty real.

During the shoot I was the sole producer deciding about how I wanted my movie. Most of the others came later on and were respecting my vision of the movie. Unfortunatley I didn’t have the luxury to afford a military consultant, but I watched tons of war movies, and I tried to be as precises as possible. Nevertheless, we used the Moroccan army who provided me all the military equipment, and I had some very interesting conversations with the Colonel that helped a lot. 

 


 


Chat about securing locations to film, seems like most was shot on location, were there any issues with particular locations?


I had 90% of the locations in mind while I was writing the script. I was born and raised in Morocco, and been a 1st Assistant Director for a decade, and then a Line Producer and a Producer for 8 years. I scouted and shot in almost every place and every city in Morocco. I took this amazing experience I had and put all the most beautiful locations in the movie


Chat about the final film, I feel that it told a dangerous, yet honest story, was there anything you though damn, I wish I could have added this in?


Yes it does. One of my friend works for the US Government and he was shocked reading the script and seeing all those back stories. I really wanted to be as honest as possible telling this story and explain what happens in our part of the world (North Africa). To be honest I wish I could have added a lot of things, unfortunately we had only five weeks of shoot and I had to be quick and efficient and focus on what was important.


Perhaps share a funny behind the scenes story you have not told anyone about.


We stared the shoot on April 1st, 2019. Since nobody in my part of the world has ever directed a Hollywood movie, everyone thought I was joking and that it was an April Fool. Then on the first shooting day, on April 1st, we. Were in the middle of the desert, and had a huge snow storm, yes, in the middle of the desert and we had to change the schedule ad go interior



Chat about your upcoming projects, The Moderator and the Sand Sea? Can you shed a small tidbit about them.


Regarding 'The Moderator', that I wrote and produced, I had the idea to write it during the lockdown, and we shot it a week after the borders reopened. It’s a movie where are female hero is avenging women victim of violence. A kind of Nikita in the modern times. A very female driven story


'The Sand Sea' is also a female driven story, this time inspired from life events, where a young American woman has to fly to North Africa to find and save her adventurous twin sister


Finally, chat about Morocco, I read that you were born there, curious how the average person view the English western culture, like the United States and England? I feel that film brings cultures closer together, allowing people to interact, perhaps share some of your thoughts.


Yes, born and raised in Morocco, watched 'The Shining' when I was four, and then felt in love with the movies. Hollywood movies are very present in every country in the world, and they are translated in all the languages. Since a very young age I was consuming a lot of movies. When I started to work as a PA in the film industry, I was working first on Moroccan local movies, but I would hear that Ridley Scott was shooting not far from US 'Kingdom of Heaven', 'Gladiator', 'Body of Lies', and many other big directors, so I was dreaming to work in those movies until I made it happen and line produced Werner Herzog’s 'Queen of the Desert'. Then I knew I had to go to LA and develop my own stories, because I’ve always been creative and learned very quick. Making 'Redemption Day' was not easy at all. I had to prove to a lot of people that I was able to do what I was telling I could do. It took time, and a lots of sacrifices, but in the end it was worth it.


Thank you for your interest in me and my movie Redemption Day.


Redemption Day opens in theaters this Friday January 8th and will be available to own on Digital and On Demand beginning January 12th from Saban Films.

My 'Redemption Day' review:  http://dansmoviereport.blogspot.com/2021/01/redemption-day-2021-movie-review-dans.html







Sunday, January 3, 2021

Redemption Day (2021) Movie Review © Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

Above Image: Redemption Day Poster (C) 2020 Saban Films all rights, reserved image not monetized.

Greetings Valued Dan's Movie Report readers. Across my desk today comes a surprisingly great film titled 'Redemption Day'. Saban Films have unleashed a winner from Producer/Director/Writer/ Hicham Hajji

Even at 99 minutes, 'Redemption Day' tells a detailed story, and we learn a bit about the history of Gary Dourdan character Brad Paxton and his wife Kate Paxton portrayed by Serinda Swan . Brad is a former marine who has nightmares of the war in the Middle East constantly haunting him and Kate is an archaeologist and lecturer who is excited to go on a dig in Morocco, yet the dig is very close to the Algerian border.


At first I was curious why they strayed off and ended up going over to the Algerian side, but after researching, often archaeological finds cross current boarders and are unmarked to prevent theft. Also of note is the location used, while may be fictional, the truth is the Moroccan and Algerian governments often do not see eye to eye how to handle these situations. While being a fictional plot, in all reality, sadly at least prior to the pandemic, like 75 percent of what occurs in 'Redemption Day' seems highly plausible. I mean after all it is a movie and I leave it to the viewer to decide, but I recommend doing an archaeological search for Moroccan ancient ruins.


Without spoiling too much of the plot, Kate and her small group are taken hostage, but the captors want money for her. The captors are Isis inspired, but are looking for credibility in the terrorist ranks. What the director does right here is he shows the hierarchy and importance of prayer in their society. A good amount of time was spent developing the enemy, their motives, resolve, and aggression.


Highlights for me in 'Redemption Day' are the tremendous acting of 'Serinda Swan' showing a vulnerable side, her acting and honesty made her character come to light. I mean she took abuse, and yet managed to keep it somewhat together. The second highlight is Gary Dourdan, who I remember from CSI. He did a great job in the intense role and while showing love to Serinda Swan. Andy Garcia is amazing as usual as Ambassador Williams, in a role that suits his personality! No Spoilers!


My minor gripes are lighting in the terrorist compound, yes I know it is supposed to be dim and quiet, but I really had to turn the brightness up on my screen to watch some of the action., especially towards the end. I also thought it was weird that (minor spoiler) no one was monitoring the perimeter of the terrorist compound, not like just right outside. Also (minor spoiler) was a bit miffed that very early on a expedition guide was killed, n as it happens very early, but I think if she had survived, there would have been a balance of four hostages two men and two women. I am assuming this was done though to spotlight Serinda Swan's character, as she was the main focus of their attention, thus being a fan of Serinda maybe I need to keep my mouth shut, haha!


The action is excellent, we see a variety of things inducing a war simulation that is part of his re-occurring nightmare, and several scenes of gun-play and hand to hand fighting. The mix was not over the top, no Michael Bay explosions, more realistic, which is a nice touch. Kudos to the entire music and composition team, the score ebbed and flowed with epicness, tense in the right moments, yet building to a massive crescendo during the action.


Overall, 'Redemption Day' is a blast of energy and angst, worthy of a re-watch, and to own, rating a strong 8 out of 10. Serinda Swan is an amazing actress, full of heart, intellect and talent, I really enjoyed her character, and the emotions.


IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4439620/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

'Redemption Day' is available in Select Theaters January 8th and On Digital and On Demand January 12th from Saban Films.

Interview with Director Hicham:  http://dansmoviereport.blogspot.com/2021/01/director-hicham-hajji-interview-2021.html




Saturday, January 2, 2021

Vanguard (2020) Movie Review © 2021 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

Above: Vanguard Poster (C) 2020 CineAsia UK all rights reserved, image not monetized.

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report and Action-Flix.com readers. Let me preface this review by saying I am a fan of Jackie Chan's work, yet recently his prowess and choice of films has suffered significantly. The movies are passable, barely yet seem to lack the vim and vigor of his 80s and 90s work. The comical aspect and action timing just seems to lose a step. I am not one to say if he should just produce and direct films, but maybe it is time to step back and allow the newcomers time to shine and groom the next wave. Vanguard is sadly a new low in the Jackie Chan realm. The villains and plot are so poorly executed that it is not even worth time in this review to describe. Gone are the timely jokes and high flying action. Very basic plot coupled with rather boring execution makes for a really bad and bland film. Even the most ardent fans of Jackie will want to skip this one, no real redeeming qualities.


Jackie is a legend in HK action films, yet in recent years the down-slide is evident. The last great film he made, 'The Foreigner' was serious and represented a tone not usually seen in a Jackie film. Actually I kind of wish this was his new style thus leaving the slapstick action in the past. Ho hum is Vanguard, not funny enough to be slapstick, nor serious enough to be in the mode of 'The Foreigner' the movie is really kind of boring and has that, when will it end, I want to shut it off vibe. I just cannot find anything to like about this film, rating this a 3 out of 10 is about as generous as I can be. 

 

Trailer:


 


Vanguard is set for a On Demand and theatrical release in the UK on January 8th, followed by a Blu-ray and DVD release on January 11th. CineAsia Releasing. Pre-Order below:

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vanguard-DVD-Jackie-Chan/dp/B08NQMMDBK