The Wolverine

20th Century Fox

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and intense violence

Jackman Journeys To Japan For Latest Adventure As Metal-Clawed Mutant

Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), is a mutant with retractable claws and a self-healing, metal skeleton. As a member of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, he has appeared in all five of the franchise’s prior screen adaptations, most notably, the eponymous installment exploring his origin.

At this episode’s point of departure, we find him in Alaskaand awaking from the clever cinematic contrivance of a nightmare within a nightmare. In the haunting dream, he’d been confronted by Jean Grey, aka Phoenix(Famke Janssen), the lover/colleague gone bad he’d been forced to stab to death in X-Men: The Last Stand.

Here, she makes him feel so guilty about gutting her belly and aborting their baby that he promises never to hurt anyone ever again. Trouble is,Loganhas anger management issues which cause him to morph into feral Wolverine whenever he loses his temper, and he proceeds to break the vow the very next day in a bar fight with a bunch of inconsiderate local yokels.

However, the film’s setting changes from the Yukon to the Orient soon after the arrival in town of bottle redhead Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a capable bodyguard sent by Ichiro Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), the terminally-ill CEO of Japan’s biggest corporation. SinceLogansaved Ichiro’s life when the atomic bomb was dropped onNagasaki, you’d think he was being summoned for a grateful, fond farewell. Think again.

The old man suddenly wants to live forever and has hatched a plan to steal Wolverine’s secret to immortality. And he’s assisted in this diabolical endeavor by an army of ninjas as well as by Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), an evil temptress with an immunity to toxins.

Meanwhile,Loganis lucky that Yukio has decided to shift loyalties from her boss to him. At this juncture, the picture launches into a ballet-like display of nonstop martial arts fare, the highlight being a breathtaking Kabuki dance to the death atop a careening locomotive.

When the dust settles,Loganof course not only emerges victorious but will have to choose whether to ride off into the Land of the Rising Sun’s proverbial sunset with two-fisted, tomboy Yukio or with gorgeous Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Ichiro’s granddaughter. Provided you’re not suffering from blockbuster fatigue in this summer of sequels, this engaging and enchanting Asian adventure definitely deserves to be added to your must-see list.

Crouching Viper, Hidden Wolverine!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

In English and Japanese with subtitles

Running time: 126 minutes

 

 

Rising From Ashes

First Run Features

Unrated

Bike Racing Documentary Chronicles Rise Of Rwanda Cycling Team

Over the course of a hundred days in 1994, the East African nation ofRwandaexperienced an ethnic cleansing which consumed the lives of nearly a fifth of the population. The mass slaughter came as a consequence of a revolt by the majority tribe, the Hutus, against the Tutsis, a minority which, with the help of the country’s European colonizers, had enjoyed a higher social and economic status for centuries.

A few years after the cessation of the civil war, American bike racing legend Jock Boyer was looking for a chance at redemption in the wake of being paroled after serving time in prison for lewd behavior. He found that opportunity he needed upon moving toRwandaat the suggestion of a friend.

There, he took on the unenviable challenge of coaching the national cycling team. And over the next six years he trained them while teaching them how to compete on the level of world-class athletes with the hope of one day qualifying for the Olympics.

That seemingly impossible quest is the subject of Rising From Ashes, an uplifting, overcoming-the-odds documentary directed by T.C. Johnstone. Narrated by Forest Whitaker, the film introduces us to the ragtag crew of raw recruits, including prima donna Abraham, mischievous Nathan and strongman Nyandwi, that Jock had to try to whip into fighting shape.

But besides athleticism, the intrepid coach had to worry about his young protégés’ equipment, since they were riding on quarter century-old, brakeless, wooden bikes ordinarily employed as taxis or to deliver huge sacks of produce. An even bigger hurdle had to do with the fact that each was also still suffering from deep, psychological turmoil caused by the mass slaughter they’d witnessed of a million fellow citizens.

For instance, the team’s star, Adrien, had lost 60 members of his family, including six brothers and everyone on his mother’s side of the clan. For that reason, besides salaries, health care and education, some of the squad’s funds were devoted to addressing daunting mental health issues.

An inspirational illustration of how the Olympics came to serve as a unifying step in terms of exorcising the demons ever hauntingRwanda’s grisly killing fields.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

In English and Kinyarwanda with subtitles

Running time: 80 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening August 2, 2013

 

2 Guns (R for profanity, brief nudity and pervasive violence) Espionage thriller about a DEA Agent (Denzel Washington) and a Naval Intelligence Officer (Mark Wahlberg) tricked into mistrusting each other while infiltrating a drug cartel. With Paula Patton, James Marsden, Bill Paxton and Fred Ward.

 

The Smurfs 2 (PG for rude humor and action sequences) Animated sequel finds Papa (Jonathan Winters), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), Grouchy (George Lopez) and Vanity Smurf (John Oliver) teaming up with a couple of human pals (Jayma Mays and Neil Patrick Harris) to rescue Smurfette (Katy Perry) from the clutches of an evil wizard (Hank Azaria). Voice cast includes Jimmy Kimmel, Shaquille O’Neal, Jeff Foxworthy, Fred Armisen, Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove.

 

The Artist And The Model (Unrated) Romantic dramedy, set in Occupied France during the summer of 1943, about an elderly sculptor (Jean Rochefort) whose zest for life is reignited by the attractive refugee (Aida Folch) who agrees to pose naked for him. With Claudia Cardinale, Chus Lampreave and Gotz Otto. (In French, Spanish and Catalan with subtitles)

 

The Canyons (Unrated) Lindsay Lohan stars in this psychological thriller about a Hollywood actress whose jealous, film producer boyfriend (James Deen) gets bent out of shape after discovering that she’s been secretly cheating on him with a former co-star. With Nolan Funk, Gus Van Sant and Amanda Brooks.

 

Cockneys Vs. Zombies (Unrated) Horror comedy, set inLondon, about a gang of bumbling bank robbers’ struggle to survive an invasion by a horde of man-eating ghouls. Starring Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway and Michelle Ryan.

 

Drift (R for profanities and drug use) Hang ten drama, set in the ‘70s, chronicling the daring exploits of a couple of brothers (Myles Pollard and Xavier Samuel) who helped jumpstart the surfing craze in Australia. With Sam Worthington and Lesley-Ann Brandt.

 

Europa Report (PG-13 for action and scenes of peril) Sci-fi thriller about a half-dozen astronauts who find more than they bargained for when they embark on an expedition to Jupiter in search of signs of intelligent life. Ensemble includes Embeth Davidtz, Anamaria Marinca, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Karolina Wydra, Daniel Wu, Christian Camargo, Sharlto Copley and Dan Fogler.

 

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (Unrated) Bait-and-switch documentary in which aspiring actors answering a casting call are instead merely interviewed about what life is like in the former Soviet bloc nation. (In Georgian with subtitles)

 

The Spectacular Now (R for profanity, sexuality and underage alcohol abuse) Screen adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel of the same name about a just-dumped, party animal (Miles Teller) with no plans for college who turns over a new leaf after making the acquaintance of a straight-laced classmate (Shailene Woodley) with no social life. Support cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

 

When Comedy Went To School (Unrated) Borscht Belt documentary revisiting the rise of legendary, Jewish comedians whose careers began at resorts in the Catskill Mountains. Featuring Sid Caesar, Jerry Stiller, Robert Klein, Mort Sahl, Jerry Lewis and Jackie Mason.

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