Friday, 26 July 2013



X-Men: Tokyo Drift.

126 Minutes. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Svetlana Khodchenkova & Famke Janssen. Director: James Mangold.

With Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and the rest of The Avengers ruling everything-even Batman and the rest of D.C.-let's not forget the other superheroes to Marvel at. Stan Lee and his academy have more under their cape with the X-Men, whose own film series has been running longer than the most recent reboots, charging into it's second decade and thirteenth year. Lucky for some Professor Xavier's marvellous mutants have gained a lot of comic-book adaptation popularity due to their leather turncoat, sometime Avenger (let's make it happen studios and Spidey) with long nails. The same hero with the Australian accent and some of his finest acting performances under and behind his pants only belt (see 'Dark Knight' Nolan's 'The Prestige' the Oscar winning and his singing, scene stealing in 'Les Mis' and the dark, Zodiac like forthcoming 'Prisoners').  That's right Hugh Jackman is back as everyone's favourite X, 'The Wolverine' with avengance in this lone wolfs Black Rain'.

Sure the critics may have their claws out for this one after his fun and exciting 'Origins' story wasn't considered as 'First Class' as the other prequels, but here Jackman's wolf howls back at all that. Besides the Deadpool, Gambit, Black Eyed Pea, star-studded last Wolverine flick was among the most entertaining X-Men films, but for those who weren't in the mood this sequel to the original trilogy takes itself much more seriously. It's deeper, darker and low-budget. So what you've got is a film that has more story to read into then 'popcorn' to eat. Sure the original head-ripping idea of making this an R rated action affair (or making two separate versions, a little like 'A Good Day To Die Hard') may have been cast off, but thanks to a great assemble of actors and action this is probably the most realistic 'X-Men' film to date in a modern superhero genre which makes things a little bit more real-world (as real as a man in a bat suit, a guy with a red cape and bad disguise and a guy with metal fingers fighting evil is) as everyone is awaiting the Fassbender/Gandalf, McAvoy/Captain Picard, time travelling mash-up of 'Days Of Future Past'.

Right now however Logan's run takes him to Tokyo, as this X-Men marks the spot in Japan, back to the origins of this classic characters cell pages. On celluloid the only thing lost in translation, is a night fight under the epic, evocative neon lights of this incredible city. Everything else is in place perfectly. From tremendous temples to soaring cityscapes, the lavish landscape of this movie is matched by it's scintillating set pieces. From death tolls adding at funerals to bullet train battles shot perfectly, this film has more in the clip then everyone thought. Some may have not been excited by the trailer, but from snow showdowns to claw hand-to-hand combat with swords and (speaking of which) one of the best fights you have and will ever see in a comic-book, superhero film, the film that everyone began to forget is reminding you how much you loved this character, franchise and story. If this is a warm up for the formidable, forthcoming mega ensemble X-Men film then it doesn't get much hotter than this. Sure great 'Iron Man', 'Star Trek', 'Man Of Steel', 'Pacific Rim' films that exceeded expectations may have made this a crowded blockbuster circuit, but in a Summer where the mainstream films haven't disappointed in the slightest, 'The Wolverine' may surprisingly be the most impressive.

In a superhero by the scores year of saturated sequels and rehashed reboots including the popular 'Hangover', 'Fast & Furious' and 'Despicable Me' series', the film that finishes the season perfectly is as sharp as the blade of a sword. Sure you get the background of the story, the Wolverine is offered to become mortal again...whether he likes it or not, but there's more to the story than that bub. That's thanks to a great cast, including the formidable female sister act of Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima and some recognizable faces. Including Hiroyuki Sanada (who sped up 'Rush Hour 3'), Brian Tee (who drifted through Tokyo with 'Fast & Furious') and the wise wisdom of Haruhiko Yamanouchi. Will Yun Lee also shoots straight, getting his Hawkeye on, while Svetlana Khodchenkova's viper villain is slick, sick and looking like something out of a Spiderman movie. Speaking of which let's hope Peter Parker and Logan have the rights to make the next Avengers assembling because Hugh Jackman has still got it (and then some) as Wolverine, from his hilariously insulting one-liners to his 'hard to believe he's approaching middle-age' physique. With darker depths, shades of Jean Grey and maybe some glimpses to futures past this Wolverine film doesn't just scratch at what the fans claws away at it.

From becoming a satisfying sequel to those who thought the prequel peculiar (the scars are healed here) to those who wanted the true origins of an original X-Men movie to the perfect, beautiful old/new, future/past backdrop of Tokyo. Funny and serious, the lighter tones help hold down the darker elements and themes that outweigh this picture. Prepare for the entertainment levels to take on a whole new mutation with the excitement of this adventure. From the action of the first kick of martial arts to the last samurai. This blade deserves his trinity. Marvel proves yet again in this superhero battle with their vast, cast of characters they are strong as Adamantium and better than D.C. The Detective Comics will just have to take fight solace in the fact that they have the better villains (even if they are all in Batman).  Now the only thing left to settle is The Avengers vs X-Men (no offence to the Fantastic Four). After their classic assemble the pressure is on 'The Avengers 2' now, whereas X-Men's 'Days Of Future Past' will either be epic and mega or messy and all over the place. With Jackman's Logan's Wolverine standing in front it's looking good...for him at least. He has his place with The Avengers too...if only Fox will let him and his mutant friends out the trap. Let's hope Mickey Mouse can make this happen for the ultimate fan fantasia. This is all in the future however, today this has passed as a slice and cut above the rest. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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