Kam on Film: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “I Am Battle Comic,” and More! Kam Williams August 23, 2017 Columns The Hitman’s Bodyguard Samuel L. Jackson And Ryan Reynolds Grudgingly Join Forces In Unlikely-Buddies Comedy World-class bodyguard Michael Bryce’s (Ryan Reynolds) services were in great demand when a Japanese tycoon (Tsuwayuki Saotome) was executed on his watch. That botched operation ruined not only his professional reputation but his romantic relationship with Interpol agent Amelia (Elodie Yung). In fact, his career took such a hit that a couple of years later we find him homeless and reduced to chauffeuring clients around in a beat-up jalopy for a fraction of his former fee. A shot at redemption and at winning back the object of his affection arrives when Amelia surreptitiously approaches him for help protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s the key prosecution witness in the trial underway at the International Court of Justice of Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), an Eastern European dictator accused of committing genocide. Amelia has determined that there’s a mole inside of Interpol who has compromised Kincaid’s safety. So, the only hope of getting him to court alive is by hiring someone outside the organization. Trouble is Darius is no altar boy, but a vicious hit man who has murdered hundreds of people. Despite being disgusted by the assassin’s grisly resume, Michael grudgingly agrees to escort him from a British prison to The Hague where he’s scheduled to testify in less than 24 hours. In return for his cooperation with authorities, Darius bargained for the release of his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) who is herself sitting behind bars for slitting a guy’s throat in a gruesome bar fight. That is the point of departure of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, an unlikely-buddies comedy directed by Aussie Patrick Hill (The Expendables 3). Superficially, the film unfolds like a high-octane, action adventure where a pair of protagonists prove to be impervious to harm from bullets, explosives, pyrotechnics or boat and car crashes. The production works primarily because of the palpable screen chemistry generated by veteran thespians Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds. However, it does help immeasurably that each of these indestructible characters has been somewhat humanized by their vulnerability to a fetching love interest. But the guys mostly exchange lighthearted barbs while having a close brush with death every other minute or so as they negotiate their way through a neverending gauntlet of bloodthirsty goons. An eye-popping, stunt flick chock full of implausible fight and chase scenes orchestrated in accordance with the laws of cartoon physics. Excellent (4 stars) Rated R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity Running time: 118 minutes Distributor: Summit Entertainment I Am Battle Comic Standup Comics Entertain Troops Stationed Overseas In Inspirational Concert Flick For over 50 years, Bob Hope served as emcee of the USO tour traveling overseas to entertain the troops. From World War II through Operation Desert Storm, Hope never hesitated to put himself in harm’s way. The well-received shows proved to be pretty popular back home, too, where they aired periodically on NBC. Although no longer televised, an altruistic band of talented comedians have continued to venture to war zones in the wake of Bob Hope’s passing. Their unheralded efforts are the subject of I Am Battle Comic, a combination concert flick and documentary directed by Jordan Brady. The inspirational film was shot on location in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain, and stars 14 standup veterans, including George Lopez, Dave Attell and George Wallace, to name a few. While it’s certainly fun watching them perform onstage before very grateful audiences, what’s far more rewarding is the behind-the-scenes footage of them bonding with the soldiers. For instance, we witness Lopez stick around after a show to sign an autograph for anybody that wanted one, over 1,000 in total. Then there’s Bob Kubota, who explains that he’s actually anti-war, and isn’t there for those who started or profit from the conflict. Rather, he wistfully recalls the satisfaction coming from receiving a letter from grateful parents thanking him for lifting the spirits of a son who’d been down in the dumps for eight months. The picture also features funny archival footage of Bob Hope and Robin Williams. Still, what’ll probably stick with you longer than any witty one-liners are sobering moments like a weeping private’s heartfelt reflections on his service and a comic’s visit to an infirmary to chat with wounded warriors. A moving concert flick that’ll make you laugh while bringing a tear to your eye in appreciation of our soldiers’ selfless sacrifices. Excellent (4 stars) Unrated Running time: 89 minutes Studio: Brady Oil Entertainment Distributor: Monterey Media OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules For movies opening August 25, 2017 All Saints (PG for mature themes) Faith-based drama recounting the real-life struggle of a pastor (John Corbett) to save his cash-strapped church by farming its grounds with the help of some Vietnamese refugee congregants. With Nelson Lee, Gregory Alan Williams, Cara Buono and Chonda Pierce. Birth of the Dragon (for violence, profanity and mature themes) Philip Ng plays Bruce Lee in the biopic, set in San Francisco in the Sixties, and revolving around a showdown between the martial arts legend and a kung fu master (Xia Yu). Cast includes Billy Magnussen, Xing Jing and Terry Chen. (In English and Mandarin with subtitles) Leap! (PG for action and impolite humor) Animated adventure about an 11-year-old orphan (Elle Fanning) living in Brittany who runs away to Paris with a friend (Nat Wolff) to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a prima ballerina. Voice cast featuring Mel Brooks, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maddie Ziegler. Bushwick (Unrated) Harrowing tale of survival, set after a bloody riot breaks out on the streets Brooklyn, about a young woman’s (Brittany Snow) attempt to get home with the help of an army veteran (Dave Bautista). Cast includes Jeff Lima, Paco Lozano and Christian Navarro. Good Time (R for violence, drug use, sexuality and pervasive profanity) NYC crime drama revolving around a mobster’s (Robert Parkinson) efforts to spring his brother (Ben Safdie) from jail after a botched bank robbery. With Buddy Duress, Barkhad (I’m the Captain, now!”) Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Polina (Unrated) Anastasia Shevtsova handles the title role in this coming-of-age saga about a Russian prima ballerina who leaves the prestigious Bolshoi Company to explore improvisation and modern dance. (In French and Russian with subtitles). With Veronika Zhovnytska, Juliette Binoche and Aleksey Guskov. (In French and Russian with subtitles) Served Like a Girl (Unrated) Band of Sisters documentary chronicling the efforts of five, female combat vets to help 55,000 homeless comrades suffering from PTSD and other illnesses after serving overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan. Tulip Fever (R for nudity and sexuality) Romance drama, set in 17th Century Amsterdam, chronicling an artist’s (Dane DeHaan) passionate affair with a married woman (Alicia Vikander) whose portrait he’s been commissioned to paint. With Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifiniakis and Dame Judi Dench. Unleashed (Unrated) Romantic comedy about a woman unlucky at love (Kate Micucci) who lands in an unlikely love triangle when her pet pooch (Steve Howey) and cat (Justin Chatwin) mysteriously morph into great guys she’d love to date. Featuring Sean Astin, Josh Brener and Illeana Douglas. The Villainess (Unrated) Ok-bin Kim plays the title character in this action thriller, set in South Korea, as a trained assassin-turned-aspiring actress forced to take the law into her own hands when a couple of goons (Ha-kyun Shin and Jun Sung) from her former life come a-callin’. With Ye-ji Min, Eun-ji Jo and Seo-hyeong Kim. 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