2011.2.25 NOW PLAYINGThe Showdown (15)
Action, drama/ 111 / Korean
Set in Manchuria in 1619, this period movie depicts a situation in which yesterday’s friends are in danger of becoming today’s enemies.
Korean soldiers are sent to Manchuria after the Ming Dynasty forces the Joseon king to back the failing empire in its battle with the Qing Dynasty. But when the Joseon commander, Heon-myeong (Park Hee-soon), one of the greatest generals during the Joseon Dynasty, suffers a crushing defeat in a battle against the Qing, he and his injured friend, Do-young (Jin Goo), take refuge in a ramshackle Chinese inn. There, they meet Du-su (Ko Chang-seok), a Joseon army deserter who has been hiding in the inn. With Qing forces just outside and a blizzard raging, the three are stuck with one another.
But it is not long before they become suspicious of one another’s motives, and the tension peaks when a secret involving Heon-myeong and Do-young is unveiled.
This is the first film by director Park Hun-jeong, who became a leading scriptwriter through his previous work on “The Unjust” (2010) and “I Saw the Devil” (2010).
The Mechanic (18)
Drama, action, thriller / 92 / English
Jason Statham (the “Transporter” series) is back on the silver screen as the star in yet another action flick.
But the good - or bad - news for Statham fans is that “The Mechanic” focuses less on the car chases and explosions and puts more time into building suspense and drama.
But of course, it’s a Statham film, so it’s not like there will be a lack of action.
Arthur Bishop (Statham) is an assassin - called a “mechanic” for the purposes of this movie - and he does a good job killing his targets cleanly.
But one day, his good friend Harry gets killed in cold blood and Bishop sets off to hunt down those responsible.
Sure enough, Harry’s son Steve also wants revenge for his father’s death and seeks out Bishop to learn the art of the “mechanic.”
The two partner up to try to get what they both want - vengeance.
Simon West directs this rather standard-sounding action thriller.
Alpha and Omega (all)
Animation / 88 / English
Last year was a great one for animated films, with “Toy Story 3” and the surprise hits “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Despicable Me” making millions of dollars and getting solid reviews as well.
But there was at least one CGI movie last year that didn’t do well at the box office and didn’t do well with critics - “Alpha and Omega.”
Kate (Hayden Panettiere) and Humphrey (Justin Long) are two wolves trying to find their way home after getting taken across the country by park rangers.
But the two get in conflicts on their journey back because they have differing personalities - Humphrey is a prankster and Kate is all about the mission. And of course they meet other creatures along the way, played by a myriad of actors past their prime or no longer relevant in Hollywood - Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper and Christina Ricci, among others.
You might be better off renting and rewatching “Toy Story 3.”
I Am Number Four (12)
Action, science fiction / 103 / English
“I Am Number Four,” based on a young-adult book by Pittacus Lore, is an intergalactic boy-meets-girl love story aimed at the teenage set, who have been proven to sashay to such fantastical story lines thanks to “Twilight.”
Alex Pettyfer, a British newcomer who is apparently angling to be the next Anglo-heartthrob, plays John Smith, one of a handful of refugee aliens from the planet Lorien.
The rest of the planet has been killed by an evil alien race called the Mogadorians from the planet Mogadore. The Mogadorians are trying to finish the job and kill off the rest of the former inhabitants of Lorien, who have taken refuge on our home planet.
Pettyfer’s Smith hides out in a small Ohio town, where he falls in love with a local girl, played by Dianna Agron (who is Quinn Fabray on “Glee”).
The nine survivors from Lorien are numbered one through nine, and the evil aliens are apparently OCD because they for some reason have to kill them off in ascending numerical order. Number Three is in trouble, so Number Four (Pettyfer’s Smith) is soon to be next on the chopping line.
“I Am Number Four” has a fair amount of good action sequences with a fairly brisk script, but critics note that the love story narrative lacks the fireworks to be a home run.