DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE
2018, Summit Entertainment, 158 min, USA/Canada, Dir: S. Craig Zahler

Hot on the heels of the spectacular pugilism of BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, S. Craig Zahler closes out a triptych of blunt-force trauma that hasn’t been witnessed since the sweaty grit of Peckinpah and Schrader at their muscular peaks. Here suspended cops Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) attempt to subvert a bank heist for private gain - but best-made plans don’t transpire as they should, resulting in murder, mutilation and a script that divides, conquers and challenges from the opening shot. Zahler expertly immerses us in a toxic environment where right and wrong are indistinguishable, and Gibson and Vaughn give him all the ammunition he needs with flawless performances as iconic antiheroes out of place and out of time - bad men doing bad things whom we willfully embrace as the lesser of the evils presented.


DOBERMAN COP
DOBERUMAN DEKA
1977, 90 min, Japan, Dir: Kinji Fukasaku

Based on the manga by Buronson and Shinji Hiramatsu, DOBERMAN COP is a one-of-a-kind cop movie featuring Sonny Chiba as tough-as-nails Joji Kano from Okinawa, who is investigating a savage murder in Tokyo’s nightlife scene. Settling between Fukasaku’s masterful “Battles Without Honor and Humanity” series, this is the yakuza genre elevated to art form, as Joji takes on all kinds of bikers, drug pushers and lowlifes - none of whom suspect that this seemingly naive man will never relinquish his bear-trap grip. With Fukasaku regulars filling out the secondary cast and Chiba at a charismatic peak, it’s a pure shot of adrenaline to the heart, delivered with the force of a chest kick.


SHADOW
YING
2018, Well Go USA, 116 min, China/Hing Kong, Dir: Zhang Yimou

Swapping his usual vibrant color palette for an aesthetic largely inspired by the Chinese ink-wash painting tradition of shuimohua, Zhang Yimou (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, RAISE THE RED LANTERN) presents another slice of war and intrigue set in the historically rich period of the Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280). The King of Pei (Zheng Kai) aims to conquer or destroy everything in his path, and while he is served by his loyal military commander (Deng Chao), his court teems with machinations. To deceive enemies both within and outside the kingdom, the commander has cultivated a look-alike “shadow” (also played by Deng) who can easily trick just about anyone. The stage is set for a battle to control the walled city of Jing - an explosive and treacherous confrontation that few will survive. An enthralling ancient painting come to life, this magnificent epic combines stunning visuals with an intricate plot that will both delight and surprise fans of the genre.


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