Monster Hunter (PG13)
Starring Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman
Directed by Paul WS Anderson
Here's the deal.
Is there anything mind-blowingly new which we haven't seen before in this video game turned into a crazy, bigger-and-dumber-is-better creature feature?
Short answer — no.
A ferocious giant monster burrows in and out of the sand any damn way it chooses to chow down any poor sap it pleases. Vicious spidery thingies make egg-hatching cocoons out of people in dark caves, ala Aliens. An elite squad of doomed, panicky soldiers turns into mincemeat before even our first pee break, again ala Aliens. Our heroes use a giant sword to slice through thick monster hide as though it's an exotic BBQ specialty.
You know, I saw that last trick done by a butcher in the wet market the other day. Only the chicken was much smaller and less CGI-ed to super-sized Game Of Thrones fire-breathing flying dragon proportions.
By the way, that controversial “Chin-knees” joke which enraged China to holy hell has been erased. So Monster Hunter may still be a Monster Punter to see if it can go on to many happy and lucrative sequels.
Okay, there's one new thing. We get an ang moh woman and an Asian dude fight, kick, wallop and generally fling each other like rag dolls as if they've never heard of workplace insurance, spinal paralysis or East-West harmony bingo night.
In this noisy OTT flick's human-level highlight reel, Ukrainian babe Milla Jovovich goes toe-to-toe with Thai guy Tony Jaa. He hits her, she clobbers him back, vice versa, without both once taking a shower. Which is a most remarkably smelly feat as they, super-tough survivors from different dimensional worlds genius-dubbed as “New World” and “Our World”, become BFFs — Best Frenemies Forever — as part of a very ad hoc monster-killing power couple.
I secretly name them JovoJaa. Kinda like the way Donald Duck surely hated Donald Trump's guts before they bonded and morphed into the same person.
So, basically, it's Resident Evil vs Ong Bak, gung ho vs gong fu here. Jovovich plays an army ranger, Captain Artemis, who's so tough she's armed with largely useless military firepower, survives being skewered by the spiky monsters and loves to sing peppy army songs while baiting them. “I'm a ranger, not an archaeologist,” she quips, Star Trek-style.
Jaa is the Hunter who shoots explosive-charged arrows and wields the said giant kebab sword which he lugs across the strength-sapping endless sand like it's made of plastic. Which it probably is, courtesy of the props department.
Via some weird lightning-storm gateway, the captain and her UN strike team of cocky badasses fall through a portal and somehow end up in a Twilight Zone desert to be wiped out by the monsters despite the Hunter's best futile efforts to warn them by firing misleadingly hostile arrows straight at them. I mean, didn't these fun people see Vin Diesel take on similar dark beasts in Pitch Black during their R&R vacations?
“Oh, you spiteful little bastard,” Artemis taunts the nimble foreign fella as Jaa gymnastic-flips about in his trademark Muay Thai moves while speaking some kind of indecipherable language which sounds like Thai-glish mixed with gibberish.
It's actually very tiring to listen to these folks communicate in Punch-and-Goofy dialect until the official linguist pops up late in the show in the form of tribal chief, “the Admiral” (Hellboy's Ron Perlman), who waves flaming weapons while looking even nuttier and more unwashed than those two. Stupid question here — can you really stop unstoppable fire-breathing behemoths with, er, more fire?
This fearsome warrior from a verbally challenged world speaks perfect American because he “made a study of it”. At which point, I pledged every cent of my SkillsFuture money to his upcoming instant language classes.
In his beast world, he leads a Joe Biden-esque multi-racial bunch of monster fighters who look like the Lost Boys from Peter Pan mixed with a BTS fashion show. Although I must add that both Hellboy here and some kind of freaky, kinky Cat-Man looking like a muscled kitten really perk up this film with much-needed humour when basically, no one else, not even JovoJaa, does.
“The lava powers the machinery of the sky tower,” the Admiral shouts urgently as worlds collide and cross over at the Big Climax to turn the big bad dragon apocalyptically loose. As you attempt to ponder it for one full second before you quit and go, “Oh, whatever lah.”
Now, I haven't played a single nanosecond of Monster Hunter, the video game, that is. But I suspect that Perlman is called “the Admiral” because next to destroyed modern military hardware abandoned in the sand, there's also a hysterically loony pirate ship with barrels of explosives and laughs which makes you want so badly to joke-text Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, Ol'matey.
Because at some point in this insane monster mash, you'd ask what's the point to all this merry mayhem besides the need for a Panadol, good ear plugs and an even better bath tub?
Well, there isn't really any point except to make a movie out of a video game and then forget it's actually supposed to be more than just a game.
The vid game maker here is Japanese company Capcom who also makes the Resident Evil franchise which allows series-regular Brit director Paul WS Anderson to once again plonk his ever-sporting missus, Jovovich, into his cinematic adventures to graduate her from battling swarming zombies to smashing swarming monsters.
Since, despite looking very tiny and outmatched, alone by herself, against charging creatures wearing The Mandalorian's leftover karang-guni armour, you always end up worrying for the personal safety of all these poor unfortunate beasts coming up against our formidable Joan Of Argh.
Monsters? Zombies? Aliens? Lawyers? All those utter terrors?
Nah. No chance for them.
Because Mighty Milla is the real scary Sexy Beast here. (**1/2)
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos