Tag Archives: Michael Madsen

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

Time: 168 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren
Kurt Russell as John Ruth
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue
Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix
Demián Bichir as Señor Bob
Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray
Michael Madsen as Joe Gage
Bruce Dern as General Sandford “Sandy” Smithers
James Parks as O.B. Jackson
Director: Quentin Tarantino

While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.

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I had been meaning to rewatch The Hateful Eight for a while. I remember looking forward to The Hateful Eight ever since its announcement, mostly because of Quentin Tarantino’s involvement. We nearly didn’t get this movie when the script leaked and Tarantino initially wanted to not do it, but I’m glad he changed his mind because The Hateful Eight ended up being really great. Having rewatched it (the recently released extended version), I now consider it to be one of his all time best movies. The acting from its large and talented cast is fantastic and Tarantino’s script is great, it had me riveted from start to finish.

Quentin Tarantino is generally great when it comes to writing, and his script here is among his best work. This movie like his many of his others are dialogue driven, and unsurprisingly the dialogue is fantastic, no one writes dialogue like him. The theatrical cut is very long at 168 minutes and people need to know that going in. Also it’s not like an explosive action movie, it’s a suspenseful mystery film and moves at quite a slower pace. Once all the main characters are in the same place in the same house, it builds up the suspense as we spend time with the characters and have to try to figure out if they are trustworthy or not. It definitely improves on a repeat viewing, because you know exactly what is going on. People only really start dying around the halfway point, from then on it becomes very tense. So if you are a little bored during it, the second half should pick up for you. None of these characters are particularly good people, in fact in terms of lineups of Tarantino characters in each of his movies they are easily the most despicable group, but they are entertaining and interesting enough that you’re still willing to watch them for just under 3 hours. This movie was surprisingly darkly hilarious as well, it really had me entertained throughout. As for people who have seen the movie already and are wondering about the extended cut, Netflix broke it up into 4 50 minute segments, making the movie about 3 and a half hours long. I looked up at some parts of it, and the parts that did add in were written pretty good. Otherwise for the most part I didn’t notice too many differences, and you’re not necessarily missing out anything major. So if you’re watching the movie for the first time, it might be better to go with the theatrical cut.

This cast is large and talented with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and James Parks and they were all fantastic, there were a few highlights though. This is one of Samuel L. Jackson’s all time best performances, he just absolutely nails this role. This was actually the first movie I have seen Walton Goggins in, and if I was forced to pick a highlight performance among plenty of other great performances in this movie, it would be his. Another showstealer was Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is amazing here as the prisoner being taken by Kurt Russell’s bounty hunter. I do feel like the writing didn’t give the character quite as much to do in the movie as she could’ve, but JJL really brought it to the performance. Channing Tatum also makes an appearance that’s a little more than a cameo, and I will say that he is great in his screentime, very different role for him.

Tarantino once again directs this film really well. One of the first things you’ll notice about this movie is Robert Richardson’s cinematography, it’s a stunning looking movie. It really felt like we were back in the 19th Century and it really places you in this snowy environment, we don’t really get that with Westerns. The Hateful Eight is a much smaller movie compared to Django Unchained, there are very little action or scenes with violence. It’s very much a suspense and mystery film, almost like a longer and Western version of Reservoir Dogs. There aren’t a whole lot of people being killed like in Kill Bill or Django Unchained but when people die, it is unsurprisingly violent in pure Tarantino style. However this time it’s much more brutal than you’d expect it to be, which fits the tone of the movie. The soundtrack from Ennio Morricone was masterful, he actually used some unused music from The Thing as part of it. It fits absolutely perfectly for this movie.

The Hateful Eight is yet another fantastic film from Quentin Tarantino that has gotten a bit of a mixed response from some people, but it really worked for me. From the fantastic writing, the great performances and direction, everything about this movie I really loced. This Hateful Eight definitely does hold up on repeat viewings, in fact it gets better upon rewatches. Both this and Inglourious Basterds are now my favourite movies from Tarantino, and I’m looking forward to seeing if Once Upon a Time in Hollywood manages to be at that level.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Uma Thurman as The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo (Black Mamba)
David Carradine as Bill (Snake Charmer)
Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth)
Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green (Copperhead)
Michael Madsen as Budd (Sidewinder)
Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver
Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale
Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo
Gordon Liu as Pai Mei
Director: Quentin Tarantino

The Bride (Uma Thurman) picks up where she left off in volume one with her quest to finish the hit list she has composed of all of the people who have wronged her, including ex-boyfriend Bill (David Carradine), who tried to have her killed four years ago during her wedding to another man. Leaving several dead in her wake, she eventually tracks down Bill in Mexico. Using skills she has learned during her assassin career, she attempts to finish what she set out to do in the first place.

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Directly after watching Kill Bill Volume 1, I decided to watch the second half of the story that same day. I always remembered it being a solid enough but underwhelming follow up to Volume 1, and it seemed to be a reaction that I’ve seen from multiple people. I definitely think it is a better movie when I saw it again not too long ago. This movie swapped out the over the top action flick with a western-esque revenge, and that’ll either make you like it more than the first movie, or like it less. Personally I now consider it to be the better of the two movies.

Kill Bill Volume 2 is a very different movie compared to the first one. It is much slower paced movie, there isn’t nearly the same amount of the blood and gore and it’s more longer and drawn out at 2 hours and 20 minutes instead of an hour and 50 minutes. It is a lot more dialogue focussed, and given that this is Tarantino’s strongest suit, he excels at it. While it is jarring seeing the difference between the two movies (especially after watching one after the other), there’s a lot more going on with the story. Volume 2 leans in heavier with the Western genre conventions. This movie works a lot better with me on a rewatch than the first time I saw it. I won’t deny that the first volume is way more entertaining, it’s one of the most stylish and iconic movies ever made. However, writing wise I’d say that the second movie is better. With that said, I still don’t think that the writing is anything compared to most of his other movies. While it has some great moments of dialogue, some of the dialogue scenes feel drawn out and unnecessary. The biggest example is a scene between The Bride and a character played by Michael Parks, the scene could’ve just been a couple minutes long but Parks has this long monologue and it really felt self indulgent (really a lot of the movies do). I know a lot of people want a Kill Bill 3 but honestly I thought they ended the story perfectly here.

Uma Thurman is once again excellent as The Bride, this is her career defining role. With this movie being more low-key, story-focussed and less action orientated, she gets a lot more to do here acting-wise. Other supporting players teased in the previous movie also get to do a lot more here. We finally get to actually see David Carradine as Bill and he definitely lived up to all the build up, he was perfect for what the movie needed and he particularly shines in the third act. Not to mention the actual much anticipated confrontation between him and The Bride doesn’t go the way that you’d initially expect it to. The other remaining people that The Bride is after played by Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah also play their roles very well.

Quentin Tarantino’s direction was once again great and like the story, it was a much more lowkey, less over the top action and not nearly as stylish as the previous movie. There aren’t as many insane and over the top moments. However, it is very well directed, the western influences are definitely a lot more present here. If you felt that Tarantino was way too indulgent with the way he directed Volume 1, Volume 2 is probably going to be more up your alley. The action itself is good, even if there weren’t many of them. The highlight was a fight between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah, which is the most flashy of all the fight scenes, very over the top and entertaining.

Kill Bill Vol 2 worked way better than I initially gave it credit. It fills in much of the story depth that was missing from the first half, the writing and direction was great as to be expected, the cast was great (with Uma Thurman once again leading excellently) and I’d consider it to be better than the first volume. People are generally split on which of the movies is better. I’ll say that if you really liked Volume 1, you’re going to want to watch Volume 2 for the story at the very least. Maybe you might like it even more than the first movie.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) Review

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Uma Thurman as the Bride
Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii
David Carradine as Bill
Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green
Michael Madsen as Budd
Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver
Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale
Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo
Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari
Gordon Liu as Johnny Mo
Michael Parks as Earl McGraw
Director: Quentin Tarantino

A former assassin, known simply as The Bride (Uma Thurman), wakes from a coma four years after her jealous ex-lover Bill (David Carradine) attempts to murder her on her wedding day. Fueled by an insatiable desire for revenge, she vows to get even with every person who contributed to the loss of her unborn child, her entire wedding party, and four years of her life. After devising a hit list, The Bride sets off on her quest, enduring unspeakable injury and unscrupulous enemies.

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I’ve been meaning to rewatch the Quentin Tarantino movies I haven’t seen more than once, and I started that with Kill Bill. I remember liking Kill Bill when I first saw it, although I liked the first part a lot more than the second. I don’t remember it being among my favourites of Tarantino’s movies, it was entertaining but that’s all it was for me. I’ve watched it again, and while I still don’t consider it among his best work, I do appreciate it much more now.

Kill Bill is split into two parts and you can feel that for sure, however Volume 1 still works as its own movie. This is a very different film from Tarantino, while the plot of Kill Bill involves revenge (which seems to be in line with some of his other movies), many of the things that happen here is nothing like he’s done before. Volume 1 seemed to be a mashup of anime, martial arts movies and western genres, and the combinations work really well. It’s split up into chapters and not necessarily told in chronological order, yet somehow it works. The pacing is pretty good and fast paced, keeping you engaged throughout the entire hour and 50 minutes runtime. He uses a lot of visual storytelling, and saved much of the big heavy exposition scenes for Volume 2. Now with that being said, with the lack of a lot of dialogue comes with some of the issues of parts of the story being empty, which is something that Volume 2 makes up for thankfully. Some of the chapters also are better than others, the one where The Bride is getting a sword wasn’t as engaging as the other sections of the movie, even though it was necessary for the plot. On the whole it’s really entertaining.

The cast do well in their roles and Tarantino wrote them as being very memorable and fleshing a lot of them out, even with only brief moments for characterisation. It’s really Uma Thurman who’s the standout of the entire movie, she was great as the lead character of The Bride, giving the best performance of her career. She was very convincing as her character, as well as the action. As great as this movie was, it wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without Thurman. Lucy Liu also works really well as one of the people that The Bride is after, who plays a large part in the second half of the movie. Vivica A. Fox also does well in the one chapter that she appears in. There are also some brief appearances by David Carradine, Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen as characters who would play a much larger part in Volume 2 and they are also good in their screentime here.

As to be expected, Quentin Tarantino’s direction is great. As I said earlier, this is a very different film from him, and that’s especially the case with his directing style. Kill Bill Volume 1 is probably his most stylish film, and considering the films that he’s made with the likes of Pulp Fiction and such, that really is saying a lot. It attempts many different styles, there’s even a bit where one of the chapter was a straight up anime and it somehow worked with the whole film. People don’t really think of Tarantino as the action movie kind of director (aside from this movie, the closest thing to an action movie he’s made was Django Unchained almost a decade later) but he handled the action scenes really well. The most standout of the fight sequences was with The Bride against multiple enemies at once, it’s truly something to watch. As it’s a Tarantino movie, you can expect it to get really bloody, and Kill Bill Volume 1 is definitely among his most violent movies. I’m talking about decapitations, limbs being severed and geysers of blood. The aforementioned Crazy 88 fight was so bloody and gory that a black and white filter was put on and I’m pretty sure that it was so that the movie could get a rating less than a NC-17 (yet the black and white stylistically worked incredibly well). So if you have a pretty weak stomach, the Kill Bill movies are definitely not for you. Tarantino is one of the strongest examples of directors who’s use of music is generally iconic and works perfectly, Kill Bill showcases that very well.

Kill Bill Volume 1 was better than I remembered. Quentin Tarantino blended the genres really well, the film was really entertaining overall, and the cast (especially Uma Thurman) were great. It’s still not as great to me as say Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction or Inglourious Basterds but it remains a standout of his movies.

BloodRayne (2005)

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Bloodrayne

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and sex scenes
Cast:
Kristanna Loken as Rayne
Michael Madsen as Vladimir
Matthew Davis as Sebastian
Michelle Rodriguez as Katarin
Ben Kingsley as Kagan
Director: Uwe Boll

Rayne (Kristanna Loken) is a half-human half-vampire Dhampir out for revenge for the king of the vampires Kagan (Ben Kingsley) who killed her mother. In her journey she meets Vladimir (Michael Madsen) and Sebastian (Matthew Davis), the leaders of the fortress of vampire hunters Brimstone, and joins their society to face the forces of Kagan.

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Uwe Boll has been called one of the worst filmmakers of all time; because Bloodrayne was on TV I decided to check it out, and I’m now paying the consequences. It has wooden acting, a shallow, uninteresting plot, and poorly done action scenes. I haven’t played the video game it’s based on but I feel sorry for the fans who were subjected to this abysmal adaptation.

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The plot goes so fast it’s hard to understand what’s going on. We also don’t know anything about these characters so we can’t really care for them; they make the characters from The Happening look like the Guardians of the Galaxy. The dialogue is not used well; it is either used for backstories, moving the plot, or exposition. The movie doesn’t even say what time period it’s in or where it is set. The film also has some odd ideas such as having normal water hurt vampires; here they are like the aliens from Signs. The last scene is a montage of whenever blood has been spilt and is nearly 4 minutes long; it comes out of nowhere and doesn’t make any sense in any form of context. Surprisingly, the screenplay was written by Guinevere Turner, who previously wrote the screenplay to American Psycho. It turns out that Uwe Boll demanded that she handed in a rough copy of the script and that he went with that version, so that explains a lot of the problems.

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Kristanna Loken was quite wooden here and barely showed more emotion than the T-X in Terminator 3. Michelle Rodriguez doesn’t give that good of a performance either, however she does seem like she’s trying to give a good performance. A stand out bad performance is from Michael Madsen, who doesn’t show any emotion throughout the movie and looks drunk (which he was) and bored; even when he’s fighting people, he doesn’t change his expression. There is a major thing that happens to him near the end which I won’t spoil (in case some of you actually want to see this movie) but he doesn’t even change his expression for that. He really looks like he doesn’t care, just look at this image down below, he’s not even holding his sword right.

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Billy Zane is only in a few scenes in this movie and doesn’t make any impact on the plot. Ben Kingsley plays the villain and most of his scenes are very short, barely lasting for 30 seconds; his performance is unfortunately phoned in, which is a shame. I won’t even go into the hammy performance from Meat Loaf as he was only in one scene.

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The action scenes are not done that well; there is a fight between Rayne and a big monster; there were so many cuts in that scene that I wonder how much of the footage was cut at just the right moment. The blood in this movie is so exaggerated that Quentin Tarantino would probably roll his eyes at it. There is one moment where a guy is cut in half at the waist but if you slow it down, you can clearly see his real legs behind some fake legs. The costumes are also questionable, particularly Rayne’s, one has to ask what type of person would wear that in any time period.

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Bloodrayne is a terrible movie; it’s not a so-bad-it’s-good sort of bad movie, it’s just boring. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch this movie (then again if you already know about Uwe Boll you probably weren’t even thinking about doing that) as there’s nothing enjoyable about it unless you are someone like me who wanted to make fun of it.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Reservoir Dogs

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Harvey Keitel as Mr White
Tim Roth as Mr Orange
Michael Madsen as Mr Blonde
Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie
Steve Buscemi as Mr Pink
Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot
Edward Bunker as Mr Blue
Quentin Tarantino as Mr Brown
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Six criminals, who are strangers to each other, are hired by a crime boss, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), to carry out a diamond robbery. The six strangers are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), a professional criminal; Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), a young newcomer; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), a trigger-happy killer; Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), a paranoid neurotic; Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino); and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). Right at the outset, they are given false and are completely sure that the robbery is going to be a success. But, when the police show up right at the time and the site of the robbery, panic spreads amongst the group members, and one of them is killed in the subsequent shootout, along with a few policemen and civilians. When the remaining people assemble at the rendezvous point, they begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.

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With Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino established himself as a director to keep an eye out for. His excellent dialogue with the well rounded cast and even the bloody violence makes this an absolute classic.

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Quentin Tarantino movies are often driven by dialogue. Sometimes, some of the dialogue doesn’t have much to do with the plot but it doesn’t feel forced; it actually makes the dialogue even better. In the first scene we don’t really hear anything about the heist; instead we hear the main characters talk about what Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is about and a debate about tipping. The only other writer I can think on the top of my head who has managed to do this is Martin McDonagh. It is also one of the best heist movies despite not even showing the heist. The film shows the events before and after the heist and are presented and written so well, the audience doesn’t need to see the heist in order to get a picture of what happened; the majority of what happened is conveyed through dialogue. It’s also not always placed in chronological order; some of the scenes are mixed around in time.

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The film has a huge cast which consists of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Laurence Tierney and a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. All the actors are great but the two stand outs are Steve Buscemi and Michael Madsen; both of them were absolute show stealers. Michael Madsen in particular has a scene involving the song ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ by Stealers Wheel, which is probably the most famous (or infamous) scene in the movie; it was reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange’s use of “Singin’ in the Rain”. The actors really played off each other well and delivered the dialogue greatly.

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The film is well shot; the cinematography is often overlooked due to the excellent writing and dialogue. While not mind-blowing, the cinematography is good, same goes for the editing. This movie also showed another thing that Tarantino would be using for a lot of his movies; a lot of blood and gore. Some people have argued that the violence is unnecessary but I think it was well done and used. The music is absolutely great and is picked right for the moment; a great example is again “Stuck in the Middle with you”.

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Reservoir Dogs is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies. It isn’t for everyone; I can see that, mostly because of the level of violence. But if you think you might like it or if you are a Tarantino fan, who hasn’t seen this movie yet, go see it as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.