REVIEW: EVERLY (2014)

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EVERLY (2014)

Everly is an uneven but, still very entertaining action flick with a truly badass turn by Salma Hayek. Everly (Hayek) is a woman who has been imprisoned in the same apartment for four years as the personal sex slave/toy of powerful Yakuza lord, Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe). One day she gets tired of being passed around by his men and kills them all in a fit of rage. Now Everly has little time as she must warn her mother (Laura Cepeda) and young daughter (Aisha Ayamah) to get to safety as Taiko will be coming to kill her in retribution and her family, too. But, Everly is not going down without a fight and fight is what Taiko and his soldiers are going to get plenty of.

Directed by Joe Lynch (the fun Knights of Badassdom and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) and written by Lynch and Yale Hannon, Everly can be a real blast at times in the Tarantino tradition. The only real problem that held this back for me was that the film’s momentum stops dead, occasionally, for lengthy scenes of exposition, such as when Everly’s mom comes to the apartment where she is holed up and with her daughter. If the dialog was as snappy as Quentin Tarantino’s…whose films this seems to be modeled after…than it would be fine but, it’s not. The warm and fuzzy moments and her conversations with one of Taiko’s dying gang members (Akie Kotabe) just serve to slow the momentum down before the next gunfight. We do need a breather now and then but, the slowing down of the pace does more harm than good. There is still so much to like, though, as when this movie is on, it rocks. The action is fierce and I liked that the film took place all in the same apartment, so, you were familiar with the surroundings and where things were happening during the furious gunfights. As Taiko’s men fail to take down Everly, the assassins he sends get more colorful…with characters called “The Masochist” and “The Sadist”…and he even places a bounty on her head so she is also attacked by bevy of her fellow prostitutes. It all adds up to a lot of bloody…and this flick gets bloody…fun as Hayek blasts, slashes and blows away her opponents with anything she can get her hands on. In this case, the good parts go far in making up for any flaws or familiarities the film may have. It’s an over-the-top comic book-style action flick and despite a few slow spots, it succeeds in what it sets out to do.

Two words…Salma Hayek. The actress is an absolute stick of dynamite here and her kick-ass performance goes a long way in making this action flick really take off. Aside from being a resourceful, gutsy, bad-guy smashing heroine, she still looks great and at almost 50, has a body that shames girls half her age. She is an ass-kicking machine here but, never loses her humanity or makes us forget she’s just a woman who is trying to protect those she loves, even if it means taking on the world and possibly losing her own life. In support, Laura Cepeda plays a good strong Latino mom as Everly’s mother Edith. Aisha Ayamah is adorable as her little girl Maisey. Masashi Fujimoto and Togo Igawa are effectively disturbing as Masochist and Sadist respectively and Watanabe is serviceable as Taiko though I felt he could have used a bit more presence/menace considering how ominously he’s spoken of.

I enjoyed and recommend this flick for those that like the Tarantino style of over-the-top action and eccentric characters and goings-on. The pacing was a bit uneven and the film’s momentum sometimes gets slowed down considerably by some of the dialog sequences but, does provide plenty of furious action. The film is a real blast when that action comes and there is an absolutely volcanic performance by leading lady Salam Hayek who can stand her ground with any action star today. Flawed but, still lots of fun.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

ex2 rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM (2013)

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KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM (2013)

Fun comedy/horror tells the tale of slacker mechanic Joe (Ryan Kwanten), whose beautiful girlfriend Beth (Margarita Levieva) dumps him after tiring of his unambitious ways. To cheer him up, his friends Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage) take him, reluctantly, to a live action fantasy role play game for the weekend that they attend regularly. There Eric performs a ‘spell’ to activate Joe’s status as a player, but uses an old spell book he bought on E-Bay instead of the regulation spells that are part of the game. Unknown to any of them, the book is real and it’s spells can summon actual demons and thus Eric unwittingly summons a succubus in the guise of Beth (also Margarita Levieva), who begins to literally eat any fantasy role player who crosses her sexy/hungry path. Once this grave error is discovered, it’s up to the three friends and the sexy Gwen (Summer Glau) to find and destroy this very real monster and halt the bloody body count that is steadily spiraling out of control.

As directed by Joe Lynch (the fun and gruesome Wrong Turn 2) Knights Of Badassdom is a fun and, at times, delightfully blood-soaked flick that has a lot of fun with not only the horror conventions, but the fantasy role-play world as well. The clever script by Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall never makes fun of the subjects it covers, but playfully pokes them in the ribs while also being it’s own horror with generous doses of laughs. And there is a lot of fun to be had here and it’s only in it’s finale where it sadly loses it’d grip a bit. After all we’ve been through with the lovable cast of eccentric characters, we kind of expected something with a bit more impact or at least a lot funnier. It’s amusing, but there are far better bits throughout and the ending obviously should have been the best bit of all and it’s not. The FX are a little mixed. The visuals are satisfactory digital FX, but not great. The gore FX, however, are top notch and not only are well executed, but very plentiful.

The cast all have a good time playing their oddball characters such as Zahn’s would-be sorcerer and Dinklage’s stoner who backup Kwanten’s more down to earth Joe. The ladies are enchanting as well with Glau being a strong and beautiful ‘pretend’ warrior woman and Levieva giving vampy life to both bitchy girlfriend and seductive monster. Nice to see Adventureland’s “Lisa P” in a role she can sink her teeth into…literally! The whole cast seems to have a really good chemistry and work very well together and it helps make the relationships in the film more believable and thus more entertaining. The script would not have worked so well if the cast didn’t make the characters so much fun to watch and they do.

Overall I had a good time with Knights of Badassdom, I laughed quite a lot, but just wish they had come up with a climatic confrontation that was worthy of all the fun that preceded it. Again, it’s not a bad ending, it just seemed weak after some of the consistent cleverness that came before it. Overall, I would still very much recommend this fun little flick. I had a really good time and the ending certainly doesn’t ruin a delightfully breezy and gory comedy/horror. Just be a little forgiving for the few times it stumbles as, more often then not, Badassdom takes it’s story and gleefully runs with it. Also stars Community’s Dani Pudi as one of the LARP players named Lando. Fun flick that would make a nice paring with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil for an entertaining horror/comedy film fest.

3 sexy succubus… or is it succubi?

kingitsOfBadassdom rating

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