Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Warlords” (+)

This good but not great film depicts the Chinese civil wars in the 1800s. My own preference in these flicks displaying warfare by ancient Asian armies is to watch the movies showing the Japanese Samurai — who held sway long, long ago before the age of gunpowder.  The locales are more exotic, as are the uniforms; and the personal stories are more interesting.

The three principal characters are General Pang (Jet Li), Elder Brother (Andy Lau), and an aide to the latter, Jiang Wu-Yang (Takeshi Kaneshiro).  Pang is a general in the armies of the Dowager Empress.  We meet him as the sole survivor of a battle, his entire army having been betrayed by another general in the same army who stood by as he and his men were slaughtered.

Elder Brother is the head of a village.  The partisans take up arms to obtain food for the inhabitants to prevent them from starving.  It’s a long story, but ultimately the three men take an oath binding them as blood brothers.  Lian (Xu Jinglei) is a woman who becomes the lover of both Pang and Elder Brother.

The best parts of the film are the battle scenes; the least interesting is the love story.  Pang, who is only concerned with victory, is cruel.  Elder Brother is virtuous and decent even to his enemies.  Wu-Yang is only interested in keeping the three men together even if means eliminating Lian.  I think it is worth seeing, but not one that must be seen.  The original “Seven Samurai” is still the best.

Unrated; 126 minutes. Now screening at 22 East 12th St. (btw. University Place & 5th Ave.). Call 212-924-3363 or visit www.cinemavillage.com.

“Hot Tub Time Machine” (-)

This film basically consists of a series of gags that some describe as potty humor.  It does contain a few hilarious moments, but overall I thought it was very juvenile — and the sight gags often made me feel nauseous.

One funny, raunchy and nauseous scene relates to fellatio.  Run to the dictionary or think of Bill Clinton and his famous remark, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  In this case, the fellatio is performed by one man on another.

Now to the story line.  Three misfits in their 40s who are distressed with their lives decide to visit a ski lodge of their youth.  Adam (John Cusack) has just broken up with his girlfriend.  Nick (Craig Robinson) is a relatively happily married man, but his dream of a music career with a band has eluded him.  Lou (Rob Corddry), who carries most of the film, is an alcoholic and a raging bull always ready to fight.  Also joining the three men is Jacob (Clark Duke), who is in his 20s.  Jacob, who does not know the identity of his father, is the nerd child of Adam’s sister.

The men jump into the hot tub outside their room and find themselves transported back to 1986 — when they last visited the ski lodge.  We then see them in their earlier personas as well.

I decided to see this movie after several people in their 30s recommended it to me.  It may be a generational gap that turned me off, but I thought it was all quite ridiculous and the dialogue worse than coarse.  Trust me and not those in their 30s.  It is not worth your time.

Henry Stern said:  “Several weeks ago I criticized “Brooklyn’s Finest” for depicting all its characters as violent and corrupt.  But that film is an Oscar contender compared with “Hot Tub Time Machine” — which is probably the most disgusting picture I have ever seen. I was surprised it was rated R because the language was mostly X and basically F.  There was no nudity, which was a good thing because the characters were so ugly.  The premise was preposterous.  The picture’s greatest fault, apart from its incessant vulgarity and obvious contrivance, was that it was boring.  I hope I saved your $12.50 and two hours that seemed like four — the movie being its own time machine.”

Rated R. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Now screening at, among other places, Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway; at 13th St.). For screening times, call 212-253-2225. For the Box Office, call 212-253-6266.