Speed Racer – From the directors of the Matrix Trilogy comes this eye candy adaptation of a classic 1960s Japanese cartoon about racing cars (which I watched as a kid). Targeted at young kids, the film is ridiculously colourful, offers non-stop action, and rather juvenile comic relief. For some reason, I found the film enjoyable for the laughs more than the action or special effects! My 9-year-old nephew enjoyed it, especially the low-brow comedy. Also, the movie IS better than the trailer, which is a rarity these days. Recommended, but viewers who dislike music video style hyper editing ought to stay away.
Iron Man – Marvel comics’ first full fledged film as production house, Iron Man delivers in spades and can perhaps be justly called the best comic adaptation to date. Robert Downey Jr. is impeccable as the arrogant Tony Stark (great casting!)and keeps the film fired up even when the titular armor is not on screen. The film features a solid script and decent action – none of the effects here are cutting edge, but they are well thought out and because viewers care about the characters, the fights generated excitement. Highly recommended.
Forbidden Kingdom – Most viewers in Hong Kong and China looked upon this bastardized tale with contempt but I had to see it to find out just how awful the movie would be. What the Hollywood studios have done is basically slap together various elements of Chinese folklore and incorporate it into a coming-of-age tale for an American teenager. Although the movie stars Jet Li and Jacky Chan with fight choreography by Yuen Woo Ping, the action and fights are stale by Hong Kong standards (though they might still dazzle the viewer with no experience of the classic kung fu films). And what is it with the eye shadow on the villains? This is totally reminiscent of bad kung fu TV dramas of the 1980s! Not recommended.
Winner of Round 1 is IRON MAN