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Watch It: The Foreign Edition: District B-13, B-13 Ultimatum, Hard Boiled, Ong Bak 2

Hey everybody, Rick here with the first of my editions of Watch It!  We are going to be going into the world of foreign films.  I know some of you tend to balk at the idea of foreign films because of the subtitles but that should never be a deterrent for you because you are missing out on some insanely awesome movies, such as the ones I am going to be bringing up today!  These films have two things in common.  They are foreign films, and they have action sequences so incredible that you won't believe that the stunts aren't done without the help of wires or CG.  But it is true. No wire work or CG is used in any of these movies!  That being said, let's get started, shall we?

DISTRICT B-13 (France)
This first movie is one I discovered a few years back.  It is a French film and it is written by the master of action films, Luc Besson.  If you have never seen any of Besson's films, you are clearly missing out on some solid action flicks.  I reference both The Professional and The Fifth Element as they are both his and while they are in English, the insanity that the movies in his native French make those two movies look like walks in the park on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.  District B-13 is no exception.  This movie makes big use of the martial art known as Parkour. Let's face it, the story is your standard cop teams up with a criminal in order to save a slum in Paris from a nuclear bomb that is set to explode in two hours.  The story is decent.  The stunt work and the action is nothing short of incredible.  Especially when you realize that these two leads are doing the stunts without the help of wires.  The first action sequence is so insanely awesome that you are forced to rewind the scene and watch it all over again.  The stunts are absolutely effortless for these guys.  Highly recommended!

John Woo left Hong Kong to make films in America.  Films like Hard Target, Face/Off, and Broken Arrow come to mind.  But Hard Boiled was his goodbye letter to the films that he did with the incomparable Chow Yun Fat. This is how you make an exit film.  The action is probably some of the best ever captured on film.  Woo's earlier films The Killer, A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 are examples of the kind of action you will get with Hard Boiled.  Woo takes every trick that he has used in these previous films and amps them by a thousand.    The shootout in the tea house is awesome and the 45 minute showdown in the hospital is nothing short of exhilarating.  Definitely worth your while and it won't disappoint.

Tony Jaa.  Tony effin' Jaa.  That name alone should be reason enough to make you watch this film.  A prequel to the film Ong Bak, Jaa plays an ancestor of his character from the previous film.  He takes on an crocodile in the opening sequence of the film.  That alone is worth it.  No, it only gets better from there. He tames elephants in a way that I have never seen before and he takes on an army of ninja by using an elephant as a weapon.  I can't explain that any better!  Now, keep in mind that the story is near incomprehensible and actually drags the movie down but then the action is so good that you will just want to fast forward to watch the action because it really some of the best that I have seen in a movie in a good long while.  Watch for the action sequences.  Not for the story.      

PAN'S LABYRINTH (Spain/Mexico)
I would be remiss to not talk about Guillermo Del Toro's dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth.  It is dreamlike.  The character of the faun (played incredibly by Doug Jones) is both whimsical and menacing at the same time.  The creatures are all frightening and beautiful.  Del Toro is known for his films with truly out of this wolrd visuals and this one is no exception.  The story revolves a little girl and her adjusting to life in a war.  We are lead to believe that the creatures and situations she is crossing paths with are real but that is left for the audience to interpret.  This movie challenges you to think and at the same time, enjoy the incredible visuals that are present in addition to the storyline which I will not go into the particulars here because there are many twists and turns to behold in this movie.  Many will say that this is Del Toro's masterpiece.  I tend to agree.  I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. 

That's all for this edition of Watch It!  My next one will have a focus on animated movies.  Thanks for reading and stay geeky!

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